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Priscilla Toomey on Real Estate: What Prospective Buyers Are Asking PDF Print Email


By Priscilla Toomey, Julia B. Fee Sotheby's International Realty

Jun. 5, 2019:  When you consider selling your home, most of us would like to be a “fly on the wall” so we could overhear what prospective buyers are saying. Of course, actually being there is not a good idea for many reasons, but perhaps the following overheard comments will be helpful:

  • “What lovely photos.” Prospective buyers should be looking at the house, not the photos, so leaving only a very few out is a good idea.

  • “It seems dark.” You should be sure you leave all lights on and curtains and blinds open – and if the paint color is of a darker shade, consider repainting the room. Darker colors tend to make the room appear smaller, lighter colors, the opposite. 

  • “Are they still living here?” A look in the fridge will give an answer to that question – but know if you are still living in the house that they may open the fridge, so be sure it looks neat and clean. The same goes for closets.

  • Are there hardwood floors under this wall-to-wall carpeting?” You can usually hear the squeak of hardwood when you walk across the floor, but this question is so common that you might want to let your agent know where they can lift a corner of the carpeting to see.

  • ”What are the annual utility costs?” You can prepare a sheet which lets prospective buyers know and make it available to them.

  • “How old is the roof?” If you know, this is a good thing to let the buyer know when asked. Inspectors often don't know.

  • “How old are the systems?” This is a question the buyers’ inspector will be looking to answer, so let him or her do that.

  • “Did anyone die in this house?” Death is a fact of life. It has nothing to do with the real estate, so if you don’t know, say so.

  • “Has this home been staged?” Let’s hope so – it’s become a necessary part of preparing it for sale.

  • “Do we have to get a survey?” If you have a survey available, it will help buyers find out the properties’ boundaries that much faster and save them money when they get the survey updated rather than starting from scratch. But if they need to start from scratch, it’s just part of their due diligence.

  • “Can we take out this wall?" It's more complicated if it's load-bearing than if it isn't, but it can still be done if a header is put in, though electric wires and water pipes may need to be re-routed and the house may re-settle a bit afterward.

These questions should give you some insight into what buyers are asking. Sales are driven by price, condition, and location, and these days condition has become paramount. Be sure to ask your real estate agent what you can do to improve how your home looks, and these days be aware that almost every buyer will want to make some changes, so don't let that bother you. The more turnkey your home, the less buyers believe they must do to it, the faster you are likely to get a sale.

Photo courtesy Julia B. Fee Sotheby's International Realty

Editor's note:  As a public service, MyhometownBronxville publishes press releases, statements, and articles from local institutions, legislators, and candidates. MyhometownBronxville does not fact-check statements therein, and any opinions expressed therein do not necessarily reflect the thinking of its staff.


Slower Housing Sales and Higher Inventory in Most Markets in Westchester, Putnam, and Dutchess Counties in Q1 PDF Print Email


By Dean Bender, Thompson & Bender, for Houlihan Lawrence

May 8, 2019:  The real estate markets in the suburbs north of New York City finished the first quarter of 2019 with generally slower sales, higher inventory in most markets, and a decline in pending sales, according to a report released by Houlihan Lawrence.

Single-family home sales in Westchester County were down 5.4% from the prior year, while sales in Putnam County were down by 10%. Dutchess County sales declined 9.1% for the quarter, compared to Q1 of 2018. Meanwhile, median sale prices were somewhat lower in Westchester ($604,900, down 1.2%), but higher in Putnam ($329,000, up 3%) and Dutchess ($278,000, up 9.4%).

Inventory in Westchester grew by 10.4% with the Greater White Plains submarket (Greenburgh, Valhalla, and White Plains) posting the highest increase in inventory of 42.9%. Putnam’s inventory rose by 11.9% from the prior year while inventory in Dutchess was up by 5.6%. The number of pending sales dipped 1.5% in Westchester and 12% in Dutchess, but they were up in Putnam by 2.4%.

Here are some highlights from the first quarter report:

  • Westchester communities reporting double-digit increases in total sales for the quarter included Scarsdale (27%), Hastings (17%), Somers (48%), Pleasantville (17%), and Yorktown (59%).
  • In Dutchess, the sales leaders were Fishkill (40%), Beekman (25%), and Red Hook (60%). Dutchess is enjoying an influx of residents from Brooklyn looking for a more relaxed country lifestyle.
  • Putnam communities reporting double-digit increases in total sales for the quarter included Lakeland (29%) and Putnam Valley (14%).

Submarkets at a Glance 

NYC Gateway
(Mount Vernon, New Rochelle, Pelham, and Yonkers school districts)
Homes Sold: down 5%
Median Sale Price: up 3%

Lower Westchester
(Bronxville, Eastchester, Edgemont, Scarsdale, and Tuckahoe)
Homes Sold: up 14%
Median Sale Price: down 9%

(Ardsley, Dobbs Ferry, Hastings, Mount Pleasant, Pleasantville, Tarrytown, Briarcliff Manor, Elmsford, Irvington, Ossining, and Pocantico Hills)
Homes Sold: down 3%
Median Sale Price: down 6%

Greater White Plains
(Greenburgh, Valhalla, and White Plains)
Homes Sold: down 11%
Median Sale Price: up 7%

Sound Shore
(Blind Brook, Harrison, Mamaroneck, Port Chester, Rye City, and Rye Neck)
Homes Sold: down 16%
Median Sale Price: down 9%

Northern Westchester
(Bedford, Byram Hills, Chappaqua, Katonah-Lewisboro, North Salem, and Somers)
Homes Sold: down 2%
Median Sale Price: down 4%

Northwest Westchester
(Croton-on-Hudson, Hendrick Hudson, Lakeland, Peekskill, and Yorktown)
Homes Sold: down 9%
Median Sale Price: up 17%

Putnam County
(Brewster, Carmel, Garrison, Haldane, Lakeland, Mahopac, and Putnam Valley)
Homes Sold: down 10%
Median Sale Price: up 3%

Southwest Dutchess
(Beacon, East Fishkill, Fishkill, La Grange, Poughkeepsie, City of Poughkeepsie, and Wappinger)
Homes Sold: down 13%
Average Sale Price: up 10%

Southeast Dutchess
(Beekman, Dover, Pawling, and Union Vale)
Homes Sold: down 3%
Average Sale Price: up 8%

Northwest Dutchess
(Clinton, Hyde Park, Milan, Pleasant Valley, Red Hook, and Rhinebeck)
Homes Sold: down 5%
Average Sale Price: up 3%

Northeast Dutchess
Homes Sold: up 8%
Average Sale Price: up 7%

Photo by N. Bower

Editor's note: As a public service, MyhometownBronxville publishes articles from local institutions, officeholders, and individuals. MyhometownBronxville does not fact-check statements therein, and any opinions expressed therein do not necessarily reflect the thinking of its staff.

Interior Demolition Work to Begin at 100 Pondfield; First Phase of Converting Former Storage Building to 11-Unit Rental Property PDF Print Email


By Carol Bartold, Senior Reporter

Apr. 3, 2019: Work is under way at the former Morgan Manhattan Storage building at 100 Pondfield Road in Bronxville. According to Paul Taft, village building inspector, onsite activity such as the erection of scaffolding on the building exterior pertains only to pre-construction safety measures, not to the conversion of the three-story building into eleven luxury condominiums with fourteen first-floor covered parking spaces.

Taft said that the village has issued permits only for safety measures that must be in place before actual demolition and construction can begin. A permit has been issued for interior electrical work to install temporary lighting. Taft said he expected tasks and installations related to street safety measures to begin during the week of March 25. “All safety components must be in place before construction can begin,” he stated.

According to Taft, the building department is waiting to receive permit information from construction subcontractors. “The project has taken so long to get started that much of the work is having to go out for rebid,” he said.

Real estate developers Blauners LLC purchased the property in 2010 with a view to creating a luxury residential property. They made their first application to the Bronxville Planning Board in March of 2012 and experienced significant delays in obtaining approval for the plan. Although the building is zoned Central Business A, which allows for residential use, of primary concern to the board was its landlocked condition, which provides access via a single alley slightly over fifteen feet wide. Several board members also expressed concern about pedestrians, especially Bronxville School students, having to contend with traffic entering and exiting the property over a busy sidewalk. After many plan revisions and deliberations, the planning board approved the application under the name of Pondfield Court LLC in April of 2016.

A spokesman from Blauners LLC stated that the company no longer owns the building and will not be a party to the conversion. “We sold that building some time ago,” he stated.

Metro Realty Dividend Fund LLC of the Bronx purchased the property in March of 2017, per Brandon Yasgur, certified property manager and vice president at YRC Management–Realty Group. “It took me nineteen months to get a permit,” he said, and added that the only plan the village will permit is the original eleven-unit plan. The units, however, will be rentals rather than condominiums.

Yasgur stated that a sidewalk bridge, a covered walkway designed to shield pedestrians from construction hazards, has been installed. He expects interior demolition on the building to begin the week of April 1. A chain link gate has been erected over the driveway and, according to a representative from Bronxville Wines & Spirits and Topps Bakery, those businesses still have access to the driveway for deliveries but can no longer use it for parking.

Pictured here: A view of 100 Pondfield Road from the street.

Photo by A. Warner

Priscilla Toomey on Real Estate: Can’t We Just Leave It to the Lawyers? PDF Print Email


By Priscilla R. Toomey, Licensed Associate Real Estate Broker, Julia B. Fee/Sotheby's International Realty

Apr. 3, 2019:  Many people believe that once price and terms have been agreed to in a real estate purchase and sale, they can just turn the deal over to the lawyers to “take care of things.”

That is not a good idea. A real estate transaction takes a team to be completed successfully and communication between the team members needs to be frequent, candid, and ongoing. The seller or buyer is, of course, a key member of the team. So are the lawyer, the real estate agent, and the lender.

Below are some of the crucial functions each of those three team members contributes.  

The Real Estate Agent:  The “physical” side of the transaction  

  • Property preparation/search – For a seller, the home needs to be readied to be put on the market, from staging to preparation of a floor plan to professional photography, and recent comparable sales need to be analyzed to help the seller price it correctly from the get-go. From the buyer’s perspective, this includes identifying suitable homes through the property search and providing recent comparable sale information to help negotiate price and terms once a home has been selected.

  • Hold both broker and public open houses for a seller and let a buyer know about public open houses to attend, negotiate price and terms, and accompany a buyer’s inspector on the home inspection.

  • Make sure the purchase memo, which the seller’s lawyer will use as the basis for the contract, is accurate.

  • Prepare a package of recent comparable sales information for the appraisal.

  • Coordinate with the agent for the other party wherever needed, help their client prepare for the closing, and accompany the buyer on the walk-through right before the closing to make sure everything is as it was at the time of the inspection and that any agreed-upon repairs have been made. 

The Lawyers: The documentary side of the transaction  

  • Make sure the contract accurately reflects the agreed-upon terms of the deal and that their client is protected by its terms. Contracts are not binding until signed by both sides and the down payment is in the hands of the seller’s lawyer.

  • Make sure title is clear – that the certificate of occupancy includes the current state of the property, that the removal of any underground oil tank is properly documented, that any issues from the inspection have been addressed in writing, and that any disclosures that are required have been made.

  • Make sure an up-to-date survey is in hand.

  • Coordinate with the lender and the real estate agent to answer any questions (keep in mind that the lawyer has almost never seen the property first-hand).

  • Prepare all documents for the closing, manage the closing process with the lender, title company, and the parties, and make sure that title to the property is recorded with the appropriate authorities.  

The Lender: The financial side of the transaction whenever there is a mortgage involved  

  • Review the buyer’s financial documents and issue a pre-approval.

  • Arrange for the appraisal.

  • Issue a good-faith estimate so the buyer can get an idea of what the closing costs will be, though the final numbers may vary.

  • Make sure the buyer has submitted documentation of homeowner’s insurance.

  • Issue the commitment and then a clear-to-close once final approval has been given for the mortgage.  

As always, “the devil is in the details” and there are many more details than can be listed here – and they vary from transaction to transaction. But the purpose of this article is to give an overview to emphasize that success depends on teamwork – and it will pay off in both the buyer and seller feeling comfortable throughout the transaction.  

Pictured here:  Priscilla Toomey, licensed associate real estate broker, JD, ABR, Top5, certified EcoBroker, SRES with Julia B. Fee/Sotheby's International Realty, 2 Park Place, Bronxville, NY 10708; cell, 914-559-8084; email, CLOAKING .   

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

Editor's note
:  As a public service, MyhometownBronxville publishes press releases, statements, and articles from local institutions, legislators, and candidates. MyhometownBronxville does not fact-check statements therein, and any opinions expressed therein do not necessarily reflect the thinking of its staff.

Three Bronxville Real Estate Agents Rank Among Top 20 Luxury Residential Agents in Westchester PDF Print Email


By Dean Bender, Thompson & Bender, for Houlihan Lawrence

Mar. 13, 2019:  Sheila Stoltz, Rita Steinkamp, and Susan Kelty Law of Houlihan Lawrence were recently ranked among the top 20 luxury residential agents in Westchester by The Real Deal, a prestigious honor from one of the industry’s leading publications.

Stoltz, Steinkamp, Kelty Law. Photos courtesy Thompson Bender

The rankings, included in the magazine’s February issue, reflected TRD’s analysis of single-family home sales exceeding $2 million in the county from December 2017 to November 2018.

Stoltz, a Wall Street veteran, has focused her entire professional life on real estate finance, valuation analysis, and executing transactions. She has consistently ranked as the #1 agent in Bronxville and is one of the top agents in Westchester.

A village native, Steinkamp has been selling Bronxville real estate for more than 30 years and has repeatedly ranked among Westchester's top agents. Over the course of her career, Steinkamp was the #1 agent in Bronxville for more than a decade and has been the #1 broker company-wide three times.

Kelty Law ranked as one of the top three producers in Bronxville for 2018. A lifelong village resident, she has been one of the top three agents for Houlihan Lawrence's Bronxville office consistently since 2005.

“I’m proud to see their accomplishments recognized so prominently by a top-tier industry outlet,” remarked Cynthia Landis, Bronxville brokerage manager for Houlihan Lawrence. “We’re truly lucky to have such dedicated talent on our team.” 

Pictured at top: Houlihan Lawrence office in Bronxville.

Photo by N. Bower 

Editor's note: As a public service, MyhometownBronxville publishes articles from local institutions, officeholders, and individuals. MyhometownBronxville does not fact-check statements therein, and any opinions expressed therein do not necessarily reflect the thinking of its staff. 


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