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Joe Houlihan: Six Reasons Why the Holiday Season Is Good Time to Put Your Home on the Market PDF Print Email

Written by Joe Houlihan, Managing Partner, Houlihan & O'Malley Real Estate

Dec. 3, 2014: When it comes time to put their homes on the market, many sellers think they should wait until after the holidays. However, there are unexpected advantages to listing your home now rather than waiting until the new year.

  1. Motivated Buyers
    'Tis the season! There may be fewer buyers looking, but those who are tend to want to close before the end of the year. Homes often sell faster during the holidays, and for more money. Plus, there's always that buyer who wants to give the ultimate of a new home to a loved one!

  2. Less Competition
    Because the holidays can be hectic, sellers often feel they can't handle trying to show their home and juggle everything else, so they take the home off the market or wait until the new year. This means that supply drops significantly, making the houses remaining on the market that much more attractive to buyers.

  3. Lower Interest Rates
    Historically, interest rates are cyclically lower from December through January, making it a more appealing time to buy. Additionally, the Fed has held interest rates at zero for nearly six years, and projections for 2015-2016 show that these rates will start to increase.

  4. Tax Breaks
    Selling now gets you the gift that keeps on giving--a tax break. If you close before the end of the year, you could be eligible for tax breaks and credits, including deductions for real estate taxes, PMI premiums, and home mortgage interest.

  5. Top-Notch, Faster Service
    The stores may be packed, but your Realtor, title companies, banks, and lenders are probably not so busy, so you're more likely to be top priority. Plus, many potential homebuyers have time off from work during the holidays, giving them ample time to search for their new home.

  6. Your Home Looks Beautiful
    You can capitalize on the joy of the season by making your home warm and inviting with cheerful, tasteful holiday decorations and festive aromas, such as spiced cider simmering on the stove or freshly baked cookies just out of the oven. This will appeal to the emotions of buyers, leaving them with a memorable impression.

Picture here: Joseph Houlihan, managing partner at Houlihan & O'Malley, 133 Parkway Road, Bronxville. He can be reached in his office at 914-337-7888 or on his cell at 914-645-6640 or by email at CLOAKING

Photo courtesy Laura Mogil

Priscilla Toomey on 'Universal Design' for Organizing and Selling Your Home PDF Print Email

Written by Priscilla Toomey, Associate Broker, Julia B. Fee/Sotheby's International Realty

Nov. 5, 2014: While many of us have heard the terms "universal design" and "aging in place," their meanings and implications may be vague to us. They are universal movements and have implications for house design going forward.

Basically, universal design is the concept that spaces should be aesthetically pleasing but also be easy to use by people with (or without) disabilities and by the aging population. A few examples that are commonplace are audio books, slip-resistant surfaces, automatic doors, closed captioned television, curb cuts at corners, low-floor busses, Velcro, cabinets with pull-out shelves, lever handles instead of knobs for opening doors, and no-stair access to housing.

A major benefit of universal design is that it makes it easier for people to continue living in their own homes. We are living with an aging population. By 2030, the US population aged 65 and over is expected to grow to 71.5 million people from about half that number in 2006. More and more people want to "age in place" (AIP) rather than go into assisted living, if at all possible.

Aging in place is a worldwide movement, because populations everywhere are living longer. The idea is to enable people to remain in their own homes as they age by providing resources and support services, rather than having them move into assisted living, which is far more costly and more disruptive. Universal design elements can help them do that, while postponing the need for expensive institutional care.

There are more aging-in-place organizations in Westchester than you may have imagined. There are currently three aging-in-place models in Westchester County and several organizations in different parts of the county encouraging the formation of AIP organizations. One close-by example of an aging in place resource is Gramatan Village in Bronxville.

For legal needs, there are lawyers who specialize in a relatively new field known as "elder law." Real estate agents who are interested in working with older clients can become certified as Seniors Real Estate Specialists (SRES). When you need the expertise of one or the other, it's nice to know they're there.

Pictured here: Priscilla Toomey, associate broker, JD, ABR, Top5, certified EcoBroker, SRES with Julia B. Fee/Sotheby's International Realty; cell, 914-559-8084; e-mail, CLOAKING .

Photo courtesy Julia B. Fee/Sotheby's International Realty

Market Report by Priscilla Toomey: A Good Year for Bronxville Real Estate PDF Print Email

Written by Priscilla Toomey, Associate Broker, Julia B. Fee/Sotheby's International Realty

Oct. 8, 2014: As of October 1, there were 23 detached single-family homes on the market in Bronxville Village. The median asking price for those 23 homes was $3,495,000, and the average asking price was $4,046,043. The average asking price at the end of the last quarter was $4,535,263. Fourteen of the 23 homes currently on the market had asking prices above $3 million, though sales above $3 million in Bronxville Village have lagged. Inventory remains low as the traditional after-Labor Day market is a little slow in getting starting.

The story is different for townhouses. There are currently five townhouses on the Bronxville Village market. The average asking price is $1,149,800, with the lowest asking price being $895,000 and the highest, $1,795,000. Townhouse sales have generally been strong in 2014 year-to-date. Each of the three townhouses currently under contract had an asking price above $1 million at the time of contract.

House Sold Year-to-Date

Of the 53 single-family homes that have sold year-to-date in 2014, the median price was $2,195,000, and the average price was $2,181,431. The price per square foot was $625.41. Fourteen of the 53 sold at or above their asking price at the time of sale.

Of the 22 townhouses that have sold through the end of the third quarter, the average selling price was $1,193,568. The price per square foot was $618.36, beginning to approach the average price per square foot for single-family homes. Of this segment, 12 out of the 22, or more than half, closed at or above their asking prices at the time of sale.

No condominium apartments sold during the period. The one condominium townhouse that sold is included with the townhouse sales reported above.

Co-op apartment sales were brisk during the first nine months of 2014, with 32 apartments changing hands in Bronxville Village during the period. Of the apartments that sold, 7 of the 32 sold at or above their asking price at the time of sale. The news here is that the asking and selling prices of the larger apartments (generally 3 bedrooms and above) elicited premium prices and 4 have sold at $1 million or above so far this year.

Overall, though with a few exceptions, it has been a good year for Bronxville Village sellers thus far.

Pictured here: Priscilla Toomey, associate broker, JD, ABR, Top5, certified EcoBroker, SRES with Julia B. Fee/Sotheby's International Realty; cell, 914-559-8084; e-mail, CLOAKING .

Photo courtesy Julia B. Fee/Sotheby's International Realty


Excavation for Kensington Road Development Anticipated to Begin within Four Weeks PDF Print Email

Aug. 27, 2014: Bronxville residents can expect to see increased activity at the Kensington Road development site after Labor Day, according to Jim Carnicelli, vice president of The Gateway Development Group, Inc., and Neil DeLuca, Gateway's community liaison. They estimate that within four weeks trucks will begin to remove contaminated soil from the site.

"As you can imagine," DeLuca said, "we've been doing a lot of behind-the-scenes work, just in preparation, because we only get one chance at this and it has to be perfect." He added that, although the project is approximately six weeks behind its ideal schedule, Gateway is proceeding at a slow pace in this initial phase of pre-excavation and pre-construction work to "err on the side of caution."

According to Carnicelli, the developer has filed its remedial action work plan with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, which outlines Gateway's plans for removing approximately 20,000 cubic yards of contaminated soil from the site. The Kensington Road parcel was the site of the Lawrence Park Heat, Light and Power and a gas station. Another 10,000 yards of uncontaminated soil, as well as 10,000 cubic yards of rock, will be removed from the site to enable excavation for a 300-space parking garage.

DeLuca stated that Gateway will perform a "pre-blast" before beginning the actual blasting to remove the rock. The company will share its findings with the village and Metro-North Railroad to gauge the effects on the surrounding areas. Blasting will be done under the guidance of the police and fire departments. "We're going to make sure it's safe before we go ahead," DeLuca said.

He added that, in preparation to excavate the site, asbestos abatement for the remains of a garage building on the site has been completed and the building will be torn down. Before blacktop is taken up, parking meters and concrete retaining walls will be removed.

DeLuca pointed out that also prior to removing the blacktop for excavation, Gateway must satisfy the requirements of Metro-North Railroad at the north end of the parcel and the One Pondfield building at the parcel's south end.

The developer will build an emergency easement, a temporary roadway, to provide Metro-North Railroad access to its switching equipment.

With the discovery that all of the utilities for One Pondfield enter the building's foundation from under the Kensington parcel, Gateway will reroute those utilities during the excavation and construction period and restore the same level of service the building currently has at the completion of construction. Gateway also found that a ramp at the rear of the One Pondfield building, which must be taken down for the project, is the emergency exit from the building's upper floors. DeLuca indicated that village officials will meet with the Eastchester Fire Department to determine emergency exit replacement requirements.

Pictured here:  Construction barriers at the Kensington Road development project. 

Photo by A. Warner

Priscilla Toomey: What the Internet Doesn't Tell You When You Search for Real Estate PDF Print Email

Aug. 27, 2014:  These days an overwhelming percentage of buyers begin their search for real estate on the Internet. They may put a key word or phrase into Google and they may use Zillow, Trulia, or to get started.

With so much reliance on technology today, many people assume it tells them what they need to know. In fact, it only tells part of the story.

Most people don't realize that search engines like Zillow and Trulia are "lead generators." They are less concerned about the accuracy of information than they are about whether the people searching on their site contact them so they can sell that "lead" to a real estate agent. In reality, neither the lead nor the agent is "scrubbed," or screened.

As a result, there is no way to tell if a cliff drops off behind the house, or if the house is located near a noisy, busy highway or railroad. Although the photos may not be Photoshopped, a good stager and photographer can improve the "natural" looks of a house considerably. Moreover, the house is likely to appear larger than it is when you see it in person. HGTV is there to create the same illusions. They all do it very well.

The question is: How do you, the consumer, find out what you want to know about the "reality" of the house?

The best way is to look upon a home search as an interactive process. Find a good real estate agent to work with, get advice to focus your search, and be an enthusiastic and very interactive participant in the process of finding a home that fits you or that you can change to "fit you to a t."

The Internet is a very useful tool to help you focus on what neighborhood, schools, and amenities are important and affordable to your particular family and circumstances.  After that, it's an interactive process--a live human being who knows the area and the houses in it well and will work with you in a team effort to accomplish your home finding dreams.

Pictured here:  Priscilla Toomey, associate broker, JD, ABR, Top5, certified EcoBroker, SRES with Julia B. Fee/Sotheby's International Realty; cell, 914-559-8084; email, CLOAKING .

Photo courtesy Julia B. Fee/Sotheby's International Realty

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