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Priscilla Toomey: Real Estate Inventory in Village in Short Supply PDF Print Email

Oct. 23, 2013: At the end of the third quarter, real estate inventory in Bronxville Village remained in very short supply, with only 21 houses on the market, including three townhouses.

Their average list price was $2,934,190, versus $2,631,194 at the end of the second quarter for the 31 single-family homes on the market then, of which four were townhouses. While, in general, activity has picked up in neighboring areas, local sales activity has been as strong in Bronxville Village as ever in recent years.

One single-family home was under conditional contract in Bronxville Village at the end of the third quarter, and the sales of seven single-family homes, including two townhouses, were pending (all conditions met, just waiting to close).

The sales of 72 single-family homes, including 21 townhouses, had closed as of the end of the third quarter of 2013, with an average selling price of $1,808,301 (excluding townhouses, the average was $2,146,716).

Of these, 15 single-family homes yielded prices at or above their asking price at that time, of which six were townhouses. For the same period last year, the sales of 74 single-family homes had closed, of which 20 were townhouses.

The average selling price for single-family homes excluding townhouses was $2,018,130, and for townhouses it was $920,900. Of the single-family homes and townhouses whose sales closed through the end of the third quarter in 2012, 13 closed at or above the then asking price, of which three were townhouses.

For 2013, the average price per square foot for single-family homes was $623.88 for the first three quarters of the year. For 2012 it was $539.82. For townhouses, those numbers were $524.50 for 2013 and $481.89 for 2012.

Editor's Note: Priscilla Toomey is an associate broker, JD, ABR, Top5, certified EcoBroker, SRES with Julia B. Fee/Sotheby's International Realty and can be reached at 914-559-8084.

 
Priscilla Toomey: New Construction Trends in Real Estate Provide Insight for Renovators PDF Print Email


Oct. 9, 2013:  Some of today’s buyers insist on new construction. What is it that builders are providing that attracts these buyers and what can you glean from those features if you’re considering a renovation?

Open plan: This term refers to a layout where the kitchen and family room are open to, and flow into, one another. If a parent is cooking and the children are doing homework, or other family members are relaxing or doing other activities in the family room, they can easily talk with one another. It’s a very family-friendly layout.

Rooms that serve multiple purposes: This could be an office nook in the kitchen or a mud room/laundry area just inside the back door.

More storage: With the advent of box stores, it helps to have room to store cases of beverages, paper towels, or whatever is on sale. More closets are also a desired featured as we all seem to have more to put in them these days.

More bathrooms: The days of several family members enjoying a shared bathroom are behind us. They might have to, but they don’t want to. A powder room on the first floor is another desired feature and in many cases perceived as a necessity.

Energy efficiency: Houses that can save, or generate, as much energy as they use are attractive to today’s buyers. The flip-side houses, energy guzzlers, whether through the old, single-paned windows or an outdated heating system, present a stumbling block.

A layout designed or adaptable to accommodate more than one generation: This is a plus, whether it's to provide living space for adult children returning home or parents moving in.

While location remains the most important factor, condition has gained increasing importance as we see more two-career couples looking for a home they see as one they won't need to renovate. This last sentence is carefully worded--most sellers have been comfortable in their home and have a harder time seeing the need for renovations than do buyers. However, what today’s buyers are looking for is important to take into account, whether or not you decide to act on it.

Editor's Note: Priscilla Toomey can be reached by cell at 914-559-8084 or by email at CLOAKING . 

 
Priscilla Toomey: Planning Ahead to Sell or Buy a House: Part I - Legislative Issues PDF Print Email

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August 10, 2011: If you are thinking of selling or buying a home in the next two years, it helps to plan ahead. In this three-part series, we will examine different areas where "knowledge is power" during this process.

Part I will review legislative issues in the hopper that will impact home sales and purchases. Part II will discuss protecting your credit score from unintended consequences. Part III will examine using the Homeowner Property Disclosure Questionnaire to prepare your house to pass its inspection with flying colors - as well as what your inspector will be looking for when you seek to purchase your next home.

Part I: When Washington tells us there will be no tax hikes, it is important to read the fine print. In fact, the Home Mortgage Interest Deduction is currently under attack. In the past, the erosion of deductions has been used to de facto raise tax revenues, and that effort is under way in Washington now. Realtors have been hard at work lobbying to preserve the deduction.

Another issue of interest goes by the "code name" QRM (Qualifying Residential Mortgage) part of the Dodd-Frank financial reform legislation. Its effect would be to require 20% equity on every home purchase in the United States. It takes people, on average, 14 years to save up enough for that size down payment to purchase a first home. Such a requirement would have a chilling effect on mortgage affordability and availability in the already fragile housing market and the ability of many Americans to purchase a home at all. Though the Bronxville market may be impacted less by this legislation, any decline in the national market will certainly have a trickle-up effect. While supporting responsible lending, Realtors® have opposed the level of equity that would be required.

At the moment, loans up to $729,750 in higher-cost areas fall under the "conforming jumbo" label and are thus made at lower interest rates than regular jumbo mortgages. However, that may all change in late September when those limits are scheduled to expire and any loan over the conventional limit of $629,500 will be considered a jumbo.

As we know, we live in one of the highest-cost housing markets in the country, as well as one with sky-high real property taxes. On this issue, Realtors® lobbied successfully in New York State to "cap the tax" increases at 2% per year. While housing is still very expensive here, this is a start towards keeping homeowners here rather than motivating them to move across the borders to Connecticut or New Jersey.

Residents of Bronxville PO/Yonkers have not fared as well. The Yonkers income tax, which is a percentage of the resident's state income tax, rose from 10% to 15% of the state income tax amount for 2011 versus 2010.

Real Estate Sales: For real estate sales in Bronxville Village during the first seven months of 2011, the signals continue to be mixed, moving forward in fits and starts. Between January 1, 2011, and July 31, 2011, the sales of 27 single-family homes closed, as did the sale of 5 townhouses, 5 condominium apartments, and 26 co-op apartments. During the same period last year, 36 single-family homes sold, as did 11 townhouses, no condominium apartments, and 24 co-ops.

Currently, there are 38 single-family homes (not including townhouses) on the Bronxville Village market, plus 5 under conditional contract and 7 whose sales are pending. For townhouses, 10 are currently active on the market, 1 is under conditional contract, and there are 3 whose sales are pending. There are 3 condominium apartments currently on the market for sale, and the sales of 5 have closed since the beginning of the year. For co-ops, 40 are currently on the market, 2 are under contract, and the sales of 2 are pending. Since our last review in late June, this represents a net reduction of 7 single-family homes, 2 townhouses, and 6 co-ops on the market, and the net addition of 1 condominium apartment.

Mortgage interest rates were down fractionally month to month. According to BankRate.com, for a 30-year conventional fixed-rate mortgage, they were at 4.51% versus 4.71% in mid-June. Fifteen-year conventional fixed-rate mortgages averaged 3.64% versus 3.86% in mid-June. Five-year adjustable rate mortgages averaged 3.00% versus 3.40% in mid-June.

The data reported above shows that Bronxville Village inventory is fluctuating as it struggles to move toward a balance in the ratio between homes on the market and those which have sold. There is currently a 21-month absorption rate for single-family homes and an 18-month absorption rate for co-op apartments. Hopefully closed sales going forward will yield greater balance in the months ahead.

Coming next, Part II: Protecting Your Credit Score from Unintended Consequences

Editor's note: Priscilla Toomey is a real estate broker for Bronxville-Ley Real Estate and can be reached at 914-337-1234 or CLOAKING .

Pictured here: Pricilla Toomey

 
Cindy Landis: Recap of Bronxville Real Estate for First Half of Year PDF Print Email

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July 13, 2011:   Last year (2010) ended on a strong note in the village.  The number of closed sales, 59, was close to an all-time high, demonstrating that liquidity had returned to the marketplace.  The median price, down from the peak of $2,300,000 in 2007 and acting as a stimulus to buyers, was a respectable $1,900,000.  There was sales activity across all price ranges.

The first half of 2011 (FH '11) has been productive but with noticeable changes.  To some extent we attributed the slow start of our usual season to the heavy snows and assumed that we would catch up later in the season.  At the midway point, here are the results.

Single-family homes:  Transactions have declined in comparison with those in the first half of 2010 (FH '10):   17 this year, compared with 26 for FH '10.   If timing were the only issue, one would expect to see houses in contract but not yet closed as an offset to the decline in closings as of June 30.

Current deals in contract are 12, which, if added to the actual closings, would equal 29--slightly better than last year's FH '10 closings.  However, at the end of FH '10, there were an additional 22 houses in contract already.  To date, there has been a slight contraction in the number of deals compared with those in 2010.

The market mix of price ranges of single-family homes that have closed and those that are in contract is unusual compared with those in 2010.   Almost two-thirds (65%) of sold homes have been in the $2,000,000-to-$4,999,999 price range (11 of 17 closings).  Even though there are currently 23 homes being offered for sale in the $1,000,000-to-$1,999,999 price range, there have only been 5 closings, with an additional 2 homes in contract.  There are 7 houses in contract in the $2,000,000-to-$4,999,999 price range.  Total village inventory last year at the midway mark was 43; this year it is 47.

Townhouses:   In the townhouse market, we have had 3 closings this year, compared with 7 in 2010.  There are 4 townhouses in contract now and 8 townhouses currently for sale.  When listing prices for townhouses "overlap" with single-family home prices (and particularly when there are a substantial number of single-family homes for sale), pressure is put on townhouse pricing.  The median sale price to date is $925,000 but is based on a scant 3 closings

Coops:  Nineteen village coops have sold this year, and 11 deals are in contract.   In the first half of 2010, there were 21 sales and 8 in contract.

In the Bronxville PO/Yonkers area, there are 57 homes for sale, compared with 65 last year, and there have been 20 closings so far, with an additional 4 in contract, compared with the first half of 2010, when there were 14 closings and 7 in contract.

To summarize, the village and surrounding areas continue to have activity and sales.  Pricing continues to be key for marketing and closing a sale.  New trends may be developing as we continue to understand the "new normal."

Editor's Note:  Cindy Landis is the brokerage manager of the Bronxville real estate office of Houlihan Lawrence and can be reached at 914-337-0400, ext. 344, or at CLOAKING .

Pictured here:  Cindy Landis. 

 
Priscilla Toomey on 'Fits and Starts' of Bronxville Real Estate Market PDF Print Email

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June 29, 2011: Back when mortgage interest rates were 18% or more, sellers parked luxury cars in their driveways. Buy the house and they would give you the car. When rates went down to 12% borrowers were ecstatic.

Today, if rates were to go to 8%, borrowers would be horrified. But that's where rates were in 2000. There is a correlation between rates and inflation. When rates were at 18% in the early 1980s, they had been raised artificially in order to put the brakes on inflation. Of course, we are nowhere near that point in the inflation cycle today, but a trip to the supermarket or the gas pump is a telling sign that inflation is inexorably on the way. And when mortgage interest rates start to rise again, every 1% increase means a 10% decrease in a prospective purchaser's buying power.

This thinking puts a different spin on several issues currently on the minds of buyers and sellers. For example, there is the rent-versus-buy equation. Memories are short, but real estate is cyclical. We will only know prices have hit bottom when they start to increase steadily again and the bottom is behind us. Some people see only the short term. For them, renting may be the better option because we may not see "buy-and-flip" opportunities for a very long time. But for those who want to partake of "The American Dream" and plan to stay in their new home for five years or more, the economics of a purchase may make more sense than renting.

Other factors bearing on our individual decisions about how best to move forward have to do with what lenders are doing these days. Lenders generally are still functioning under tight standards as a result of the mortgage crisis, and this continues to have a chilling effect on residential real estate markets. Lenders are examining credit scores more closely, and anything below 700 is looked at askance.

They are asking buyers to put down at least 20% cash, and in some cases 25%. The conforming loan limit of $729,750 for high-cost areas, which gives borrowers a chance for mortgages at the lower rates (previously restricted to loans of $417,000 or less), is currently set to expire on September 30, 2011. And many, many lenders will only deal with prospective borrowers who have W-2 income, not the self-employed.

Let's hope this overreaction softens going forward so that both buyers and sellers can move forward in a more reasonable environment.

For real estate sales in Bronxville Village during the first five months of 2011, the signals continue to be mixed, moving forward in fits and starts. Between January 1, 2011, and May 31, 2011, the sales of 11 single-family homes closed, as did the sale of 1 townhouse, 5 condominium apartments, and 14 co-ops. During the same period last year, the sales of 11 single-family homes closed, as did 3 townhouses, no condominium apartments, and 15 co-ops.

Currently, there are 45 single-family homes (not including townhouses) on the Bronxville Village market, plus 3 under conditional contract and 13 whose sales are pending. Twelve townhouses are currently active on the market, 3 are under conditional contract, and there are 2 whose sales are pending.

There are 2 condominium apartments currently on the market for sale, and the sales of 5 have closed since the beginning of the year. Forty-six co-ops are currently on the market, 10 are under contract, and the sales of 2 are pending. Since last month, this represents a net reduction of 9 single-family homes, 3 townhouses, and 8 co-ops on the market and the net addition of 2 condominium apartments.

Mortgage interest rates were up fractionally versus the rates a month ago. According to BankRate.com, rates for a 30-year conventional fixed-rate mortgage were at 4.71%, versus 4.56% in mid-May. Fifteen-year conventional fixed-rate mortgages averaged 3.86% in mid-June, versus 3.80% in mid-May. Five-year adjustable-rate mortgages averaged 3.40%, versus 3.13% in mid-May.

The data reported above show that Bronxville Village inventory is down and the market is headed in a more balanced direction, although there is still a nine-month absorption rate for single-family homes and about a fourteen-month absorption rate for co-op apartments. We can only wait and see if progress towards a six-month absorption rate, the benchmark of a balanced market, continues.

Editor's Note: Priscilla Toomey is a real estate broker for Bronxville-Ley Real Estate and can be reached at 914-337-1234 or CLOAKING .

Pictured here: Priscilla Toomey.

 
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