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Priscilla Toomey on Real Estate: Getting Ready to Sell or Buy PDF Print Email


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

Jan. 17, 2018:  Many people getting ready to sell or buy a home are not aware of the steps the transaction is likely to take and may thus be unprepared for them. But it’s very important to be prepared for the hurry-up/slow-down pace they will experience. And until a contract is signed by both buyer and seller and the deposit has been paid, either side can change its mind without penalty, leaving the other side sorely disappointed.

Here are some key points to know: 

For sellers:

1.  Make sure your house puts its best foot forward from the get-go. That means de-cluttering, neutralizing, and freshening up its look as needed, as well as staging.

2.  Make sure all the systems in your house are in good working order. This includes (but is not limited to) a sound roof, heating and cooling systems in good working order, no pest infestation, and dry basement and the like. You should also know the age of your mechanicals and how close they are to the end of their useful lives.

3.  Check to be sure you have clear and transferable title and that any certificate of occupancy for your house matches the number and types of rooms actually there.

4.  Have handy any records for renovation work you’ve had done.

5.  Buyers often ask for utility cost information, so it’s a good idea to have that available. 

For buyers:‎

1.  Be sure you have a current pre-approval. You can always update it if your search takes longer than anticipated, but not having one may result in a delay and, even if it’s just for a few days, another buyer can slip in ahead of you. To get the pre-approval, you will need two or three years of prior tax returns, a credit report, which your lender will run, and copies of statements showing your assets and liabilities. If you are paying cash, be prepared to verify that you have sufficient funds to complete the purchase.

2.  Learn what you can about the local market beforehand so you have a feel for what similar houses have recently sold for. Ask your real estate professional for comparable recent sales data and get a sense whether the house you want to buy will appraise for the amount you are willing to pay for it.

3.  Distinguish between things that are important (e.g., expensive to repair or replace – like the systems listed above) from those that are purely cosmetic and easier and far less expensive to replace.

4.  Don’t be afraid to make a reasonable offer. Buyers often want to know what a seller will accept – and sellers often insist that buyers make an offer first before they will counter that offer and reveal to what extent they are willing to bargain.

5.  No house is perfect. Think through beforehand what you are willing to change and what you can live with, at least for a while. Buyers sometimes talk themselves out of a house, thinking perfection is just around the corner. It probably isn’t – at least not for their budget. Someone once gave this sage advice: half the process is finding the home, the other half is making it yours.

Once an offer is accepted, inspections are usually done within a day or two, and in this area always before contracts are signed. Right after that, the buyer’s lawyer reviews the contract drafted by the seller’s lawyer, changes both parties can agree to are made, and the buyer signs and give a deposit, usually 10% of the purchase price. The contracts and deposit are then sent to the seller’s lawyer for the sellers to sign.

After this, there may be a lull while the buyer's lawyer has title work, etc., done and the buyers move ahead with their lender from pre-approval to mortgage commitment. Closings usually take place 60 to 90 days from the date of contract, during which time both sides get ready to move.

Knowing the steps described above will make it much easier to anticipate what happens next and to move ahead to closing the sale with greater comfort.

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 

Year-End Real Estate Report for Bronxville by Cindy Landis of Houlihan Lawrence Real Estate PDF Print Email


By Cindy G. Landis, Brokerage Manager, Bronxville Office of Houlihan Lawrence

Jan. 10, 2018:  Happy New Year to each of you! It has been bitter cold outside, a great time to stay warm inside while our market here thaws.

The news on everyone’s minds is the new tax code; it places our local and regional real estate markets at crosshairs. On a positive note, experts have posited that changes in the tax brackets may offset some of the consequences of the SALT (state and local taxes) deduction losses. In some communities where many are already subject to the AMT (Alternative Minimum Tax), the impact of the new legislation may be less consequential. 

The president of the National Association of Realtors, Elizabeth Mendenhall, issued this statement: "The new tax regime fundamentally alters the benefits of homeownership by nullifying incentives for individuals and families but leaves in place the exclusion for capital gains on the sale of a home and protects the mortgage interest deduction for second homes." Also of note, only mortgage interest on loans up to $750,000 may be deducted rather than the prior $1,000,000.

This is clearly a complicated analysis for local residents and potential purchasers as well. Houlihan Lawrence has hired consultants to assess the impact based on differing scenarios. Our agents have data and analysis available to share with home sellers to inform decision making.

Here are some of the highlights of 2017:

The single-family market was robust.  Bronxville had a 19% increase in the number of closings in 2017 compared to the previous year:  50 houses changed hands versus 42. The average price per square foot remained unchanged at $670, indicating stability.

The decrease in median price simply points to more transactions in the mid- to low-end.  The median price dropped to $2,350,000 from $2,605,000, 9.8%. The decline in the median sale price simply reflects the increased depth that the village market had in the lower ranges. The median is still the third highest in the last 10 years.

The sweet spot in the village is again the $2,000,000 to $2,999,999 range.  There were 20 closings in this range, the same number as in 2016. This price range represented 40% of all sales in 2017 compared to 48% of all sales in 2016. Closely following was the $1,000,000 to $1,999,999 range:  16 closings--up sharply from 9 closings last year. Additionally, there were 2 sales over $5,000,000, the highest being $5,868,500.

The townhouse market was very quiet.  There were 6 closings – the lowest number in the last 10 years. The price per square foot was $609, and the median was $1,052,500. Sales of high-end coops and sales of lower-priced houses crowded the townhouse market.

Village co-ops did well, again. The number of closings on co-ops was up nearly 8%, to 41, and the median rose to $535,000. The price per square foot dipped 7% to $451 but remains above the 2015 level of $441. Additionally, one co-op closed at the PSF (price per square foot) of more than $700!

Predictions: The positive effects of the climbing DOW and S&P may offset some of the issues we are now facing in the form of the new tax code. Demand for townhouses may return for those who desire lower school and local taxes with top schools, a fast commute, and the charm that Bronxville offers. Inventory will continue to rise here with the closings at Villa BXV.

Pictured here:  Cindy G. Landis, Brokerage Manager, Bronxville Office of Houlihan Lawrence.

Photo courtesy Cindy G. Landis

Villa BXV Hosts Reception for Mayor Mary Marvin and Community Leaders PDF Print Email


By Dean Bender, Thompson & Bender, for Villa BVX

Dec. 13, 2017:  Villa BXV, the condominium building in Bronxville Village across from Christ Church, recently hosted a reception for business and community leaders.

Among those attending the November 29 evening event were Bronxville's Mayor Mary Marvin and Villa BXV developer John Fareri.

The 53-home building on Kensington Road was developed by Fareri Associates and constructed by Gateway Development, a Fareri company.

The residences feature open-plan great rooms and kitchens with gourmet islands and high-end appliances. 

Eighty percent of the homes are sold. The base price for the remaining homes is $1,503,000.  

Pictured here (L to R):  Villa BXV director of sales and marketing, Elise Platt; Villa BXV developer John Fareri, president of Fareri Associates; Bronxville's Mayor Mary Marvin; and Neil DeLuca, president of The DeLuca Group.

Priscilla Toomey: Have You Winterized Your Home Yet? PDF Print Email


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

Dec. 13, 2017:  Every year, it’s important to remember to do those crucial things needed to winterize your home, both to protect it from damage from the elements during the icy storms of winter and to keep from spending unnecessarily on energy costs. Here is a checklist: 

  1. Drain outside water faucets to prevent freeze-ups and burst pipes, as well as air conditioner pipes and any hoses you have around. 

  2. If you have a sprinkler system for your lawn, be sure to have it drained and blown out, again to prevent freezing and bursting. 

  3. Clean or replace furnace filters--or switch to the more effective electrostatic filters, if possible--and install a programmable thermostat, if you can, to lower energy costs when you are out of the house. 

  4. Run ceiling fans in reverse since warm air rises and it’s a good way to circulate the warm air throughout the room and save as much as 10% in heating costs. 

  5. Lower your water heater temperatures to 120 degrees Fahrenheit--your water will be plenty hot while lowering the risk of getting scalded. 

  6. Use draft snakes under any door that’s drafty. 

  7. Install storm doors and windows. 

Implementing these measures will help you enjoy the beauty of winter and enjoy energy savings, as well.

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 

Third-Grade Bronxville School Classmates from 1970 Come Together to Buy, Renovate, and Sell Homes PDF Print Email


By John Knox and Mariellen Sullivan Carpenter, Carpenter-Knox Homes

Nov. 29, 2017:  It was 1970 in Mrs. Beasley’s Bronxville Elementary School third-grade class where Mariellen Sullivan Carpenter met John Knox, and they have remained friends ever since. Over the years, they continued to cross paths, and their lives and families intersected before everybody found their way back to Bronxville, Mariellen working in marketing and John as a bond trader. Last year they combined all of their years of Bronxville knowledge and history together and forged a new business together, Carpenter-Knox Homes, located right here in the village.

Mariellen recently completed her master’s degree in real estate from Georgetown to complement her real estate license. She worked in the competitive real estate market in New York City for several years before transitioning to the Bronxville Houlihan Lawrence office this spring.

John always had a passion for home renovation and had begun a new business as a consultant and homeowners' representative for major renovations. 

They had discussed their complementary skills many times and knew there was a business opportunity if they joined forces. They began their new venture by investigating foreclosed homes, and after months of research, extensive market evaluations, courthouse auctions, and property visits, they decided to purchase two homes in the Bronxville area that appeared to be good investments. 

Together, they found and interviewed their redevelopment team, which includes, among others, architects, engineers, plumbers, electricians, framers, and painters, oversaw the house renovations, and successfully listed both properties for sale in less than a year. Together, they researched all of the materials and found the best sources for all of their needs across the tristate area. The end result was great value without compromising quality. “While each project had its own set of challenges and required creativity, it was always rewarding to see it come together,” said Knox. 

Both houses were sold in September to happy buyers, so the search continues for more properties. “We learned a great deal and have a tremendous amount of love and respect for each other still,” said Carpenter.

Both agreed that real estate and renovation are complicated and it is important to work with someone whom you know and trust. The process of buying, renovating, and selling properties with their own funds enhances Mariellen's skills for her real estate clients and John’s for his consulting business. Mrs. Beasley would be so proud of her two third-grade students! 

On to the next house.

Pictured here:  John Knox and Mariellen Sullivan Carpenter.

Photo by Ferdinand Martignetti

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