Scarsdale Country Estates

Scarsdale Country Estates is one of the premier buildings in the Westchester County Area, its elegant Pre-War style along with well maintained grounds makes it a private sanctuary that is still close to all the amenities such as public transportation and Shopping on Central Park Avenue. The building is located within the Edgemont School District and is pet friendly, so when these apartments come to the market, they are gone in a flash. The Complex is divided into two sections, one on Campus Place and the other on Sentry Place, with some units facing Underhill Road near the intersection of Underhill and Central Park Avenue.

Some of these units, such as the one pictured above, feature private patio spaces where you can enjoy some peace and serenity with a glass of wine, truly a spectacular building. Each apartment comes with a separate storage unit with much space for excess belongings, decorations, bicycles, or even furniture. The complex is comprised of about 175 units and only a few come on a year, so you can imagine the activity that they get when they finally reach the market, as most owners at the complex are here to stay!

We have personally represented several homeowners at Scarsdale Country Estates and it is truly a pleasure to do so. We currently hold the record for the highest selling 1 bedroom w/o a patio space since the height of the market in 2006, it sold for 195,000 dollars! Being that we also manage the property, we truly get the full picture of the building and all the ins and outs, and this enables us to be the true experts of the marketplace at the building for our homeowners. Our services include a first weekend Open House event, that is usually attracts many purchasers and offers! Our last one brought along 40 people, along with professional staging and photography. These are simply amenities we provide along with being market experts and negotiating the highest net price for our sellers with the least hassle.

 

Frank Morris

Licensed Real Estate Salesperson

71 Pondfield Road Bronxville NY 10708

914-500-9194

 

 

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Staging Your Home For Sale

Statistically 49% of buyers are influenced in their decision based on whether or not a home is staged for sale or not according to buyers agents and the National Association of Realtors. We offer a complimentary walkthrough with our personal staging expert as apart of our services!

Here are some tips to getting your home prepped for sale:

Paint- a fresh coat of paint makes a huge difference! neutral colors are always a good choice, off whites, light blues and green etc. You would be surprised how much a fresh coat of paint will brighten up the interior. Painting the exterior can be costly, so you may want to paint your front door over and give the home some curb appeal, a high gloss will give an extra shine to the front door and give your buyers a good first impression. Kitchens and bathroom’s sell homes, so instead of replacing tile work in the kitchen or bathroom you may want to consider using some ceramic epoxy.

Declutter- You want to allow a purchaser to envision themselves living in the home, therefore remove any personal belonging such as family photos, refrigerator magnets, and any other Knick knacks that can be stored away. Less is more, and you want to open the space so a prospective buyer can visualize their own unique wants.

Light- Allowing adequate light into your home is very important and your home shows much better when the sun can do its job and brighten the space. You want to make sure that all windows are thoroughly cleaned and the blinds are opened to allow as much natural light as possible to come in.

Odors- You may not realize it, but almost every home has a unique scent, especially if you have pets. Before you go to market and while showing the home, make sure your home ventilates properly by opening the windows and leaving them open for 24 hours, their are also many non scented odor eliminators that you can place around the home, be careful to not overdo any deodorizer you spray if you choose to do so, and no funky flavors, use typical air fresheners.

Kitchen and Bath- If your budget allows, updating the kitchen and bathrooms will be money well spent. Stainless steel appliances can be purchased used for bargain prices, and re-tiling the backsplash and bathroom can go along way, just make sure if you decide to renovate, that you commit, it does not make sense to have outdated cabinets and countertops and stainless steel appliances, and in the bathroom it does not make sense to re-tile if you are not going to replace an old vanity. Kitchen and Bathroom are good places to see a return on investment.

Spruce Up- If your budget is tight, some Murphys oil to the flooring can go a long way if you have wood floors, if you have carpeting be sure to have it professionally steam cleaned. Check the tile work in your bathroom for any grout or caulking that needs to be replaced, buyers notice these things!

Curb Appeal- You don’t get a second chance to give the buyer a first impression, so make sure your lawn and shrubbery is well maintained and put some potted plants on the porch in front of the door, as stated above, remember high glosses for front doors for an extra shine.

Define the room- If you have nooks or extra rooms it is important to give it a purpose and define it for the buyer, and extra room can be staged as an office, library, or sitting room.

 

We hope this information was useful, and if your thinking about buying or selling in the Westchester area, keep us in mind!

Frank Morris

Licensed Real Estate Salesperson

71 Pondfield Road

Bronxville NY 10708

 

 

Conventional Loan Interest Rates

Most buyers will choose a conventional loan to purchase their new home. Conventional loans follow guidelines that are set forth by Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae.

There are several types of conventional loans that vary in the loan term, anywhere from 10 to 30 years, along with how interest is accrued. Their are fixed interest rates for up to 30 years, as well at Adjustable Rate mortgages available that change according to the prevailing rate of interest.

The down payments also vary and can go as low as 3% with some loan programs. Typically, anything below a 20% down payment would require mortgage insurance at an additional monthly cost. Lower down payment mortgages are referred to as FHA (Federal Housing Authority), these loans are associated with mortgage insurance throughout the life of the loan and more fee’s than your typical conventional loan. PMI (Primary Mortgage Insurance) can also be based on your credit history and debt to income ratio.
Generally, if your credit score is 680 or higher and your debt to income can cover your mortgage, you should not have to pay additional fee’s. If your credit score is lower, you may to incur extra fee’s or have to be covered by mortgage insurance.

Your debt to income usually should not exceed 50% (your monthly debts should be no greater than 50% of your monthly gross income). Most banks will request 60 days of banks statements, 2 years of w-2’s or tax returns for those who are self employed.

Investment property can be purchased with conventional loans, although the interest rates and down payment requirement are often higher.

There are private lenders and large corporate lenders such as Chase Bank and Wells Fargo. When shopping for the right bank, it is also important to consider interviewing more then one Loan Officer, as there may be certain programs that other banks offer unique to you. For instance, there are some banks that offer special loan programs for civil servants.

The next step is to reach out to your bank and get started in the pre-approval process for a conventional loan!

Frank Morris

Licensed Real Estate Salesperson

71 Pondfield Road

Bronxville NY 10708

Eastchester 350th Anniversary

Eastchester recently celebrated its 350th anniversary as a township, the town pre-dates the revolutionary war, and was settled originally by puritan farmers who moved from Connecticut. The first area of settlement was in the Northern Bronx, Eastchester once encompassed a much larger land mass and stretched as far South as the present day Bronx, and covered the entire area of what is today known as the City of Mount Vernon. Most of the people whom lived in Eastchester traded crops in the nearby market in Central New York City. Eventually much of the land that was known as Eastchester would become annexed by the Bronx borough and the City of Mount Vernon at and around California Road in Eastchester.

 

At the time settling in this area was not what it would be like today. The winters could be deadly, and the families often came under attack by Native American tribes. The local wildlife, which included bears and rattlesnakes, offered another obstacle for the settlers. The reason that the settlers came to Eastchester is widely speculated, though often a movement was inspired by issues arising in local churches or a lack of food and or water.

 

The towns original peoples were of Christian belief, and the these values were virtually embedded into the township. The first document recorded is known as the Eastchester Covenant, which is symbolic of the new settlers of the Americas striving for independence from tyranny in Great Britain. The document reflected a governing body that was made up of the citizens of Eastchester.

A deeper understand of the roots of the town definitely make one feel more connected to its history, and it is pleasant to know that the original settlers held dear to their hearts the same principles that present day Americans do, such as freedom of speech, the right to vote, and equality amongst all individuals.

We hope this blog was informative and helpful to those who are interested in learning about the roots of this awesome town.

 

Barhite and Holzinger Inc

Licensed Real Estate Sales and Property Management

71 Pondfield Road

Bronxville NY 10708

 

 

Property Negotation 101

All homebuyers want the best deal that they can possibly get, while all sellers want to sell their property for the best possible value. There are a few things that we believe distinctly separate good negotiators from bad ones.

 

  • Many people believe that you must be a ruthless competitor in order to negotiate well, that you must make yours terms clear and present it as a take it or leave it, and you must do it with aggression. In our experience, this is in fact more counterproductive than is widely believed. Aside from the money and terms of the agreement, the relationship aspect is important for negotiation, so it is wise to establish rapport with the party you are negotiating with and show recognition for their position. No one likes to feel dominated during negotiation, and it often drives people away.
  • We recognize that their are some folks who just cant be reckoned with, and who do have that strong personality in which it seems like a deal can never be made. While keeping in mind the tip above to be courteous and considerate of the other sides wants and needs, we have found the old “mirror and match” sales phrase effective when negotiating or communicating with anyone, if you are negotiating with a hard headed individual, you may have to step into character yourself while maintaining composure so as not to blow the deal. People often times have the easiest communication with people who talk or act like themselves, this tactic is very useful.
  • Time. Use time to your advantage, if you are lucky enough to not be competing against other purchasers or sellers you should take your time. The first reason is because usually things become tense during a negotiation, and you want to make sure that you issue a response to an offer with a clear head. As the buyer, you don’t want to seem to desperate, and as the seller, your property sitting on the open market creates buyer urgency to get the deal done. Expect there to be some issues that arise during a negotiation, don’t run from them or try and jump down the other parties throat, take a step back, think over your options, and resume the negotiation. In Real Estate, you often have at least 24 hours to respond to an offer.
  • Keep in mind all of the things that you want out of the deal. The best price, the best terms, closing date, inspection, closing costs. With all the different factors that effect a real estate deal there are many concessions to be made. Perhaps it is more important to you to close quickly rather then obtain your price, if that is the case, then you should offer the buyer or seller “ok your price, but my terms, I need to close this as soon as possible”. Perhaps you may want the buyer to waive the property inspection, or maybe there is a piece of furniture in the sellers home that you would like, this is all subject to negotiation, and should be added by your attorney to the contract of sale.
  • Most people believe they will have to scream their terms at the other party and hang up on them or walk away from the conference table to really get their point across. In fact, we have seen successful negotiators as much more keen to listening rather then doing most of the talking. When the other party is talking, they reveal key information that you can use to your advantage. For instance, if it is revealed during your talk that the sellers must sell the property to purchase another home they have in contract, then it has become pretty apparent that these sellers are highly motivated, and must make a deal quickly. If this is the case, you can offer to expedite the closing as quickly as possible in return for a price reduction.

We hope these basic tips are helpful on your next property negotiation!

 

Frank Morris

Licensed Real Estate Salesperson

71 Pondfield Road

Bronxville NY 10708

914-500-9194

Property Inspection 101

Whether you are buying a homing, or getting a home prepared for sale, we always strongly recommend that you have the property inspected either pre-sale so there are no surprises to you, the seller, and to have one before you enter in a contractual agreement to purchase the property.

One thing that scares most homebuyers away is water. Although its true that most basements are conditioned to take on some moisture, you want to thoroughly check the land surrounding the property to check for a good slope in the land along with proper drainage. Water damage can lead to more costly repairs such as re-wrapping the foundation and dreaded mold build up. You want to make sure the property was built and landscaped to encourage water to move away from the home, and if is not, that it has proper drainage to deal with the issue of water.

The next line item often worries a lot of home purchasers, and that’s the roof. The roof holds a lot of the integrity of the home as it prevents water leaks and proper run-off for weathering. The age of the roof is one thing to consider, asphalt roofs usually last about 20 years while other styles may last as long as 40 years. Although  at quick glance you can observe any patching that has been done to an asphalt roof by taking notice of the layers of asphalt that have been laid, multiple layers of patching can be a sign of the end of life for an asphalt roof.

One of the other costly projects to keep an eye out for is the electrical system. It is pretty easy to take a look at the electrical panel and notice its out of date, those cylinder old-time electrical fuses are a sure sign that the system is outdated. You may also notice if the outlets are updated, and are not the old two prong outlets. Not only can old electrical be hazardous, though depending on the size of the home, re-wiring an entire home can be pretty costly to the purchaser, as much as 15,000 or more.

There are many more components to the home inspection that we haven’t touched, although these are some of the big line items to look out for while you are searching for a home to purchase, or if you are thinking about putting your home on the market and want to determine the value of repairs.

 

We hope this information was helpful, and if you or someone you know is looking to buy or sell real estate, please keep us in mind at Barhite and Holzinger.

 

Frank Morris

Licensed Real Estate Salesperson

71 Pondfield Road

Bronxville NY 10708

Buyers Market vs. Sellers Market

You may have heard people use the expression “buyers market” or “sellers market” when speaking about the conditions of the real estate market. So what do these expressions mean, and how do we really get a good understanding of whether or not we are currently in a buyers market or sellers market?

Real Estate is a hyperlocal business, you can look at the data from a macro standpoint looking at the economy as a whole or micro standpoint and look at housing in a School District and really fine tune the information you are getting. For this discussion, we will reference all properties sold within the town of Eastchester. Please note that the town of Eastchester also encompasses the Villages of Tuckahoe and Bronxville.

A sellers market or buyers market really is just a reflection of the supply and demand within the housing market in an given area. A high demand with a low amount of inventory for sale would constitute a sellers market, while a low demand with a high amount of inventory for sale would constitute a buyers market. Our current market conditions reflect a sellers market, aside from the bidding wars on local properties and price increases how does one actually look at data to see that this is true?

The calculation is in fact pretty simple. Realtors take the average rate of sale by looking at how many homes have sold in the area within the last 12 months, and dividing that by 12 to come to an average number of homes selling per month. We then look at the number of homes per sale on the market, and estimate how long it will take for the current supply to sell based on our average sale rate.

For example, lets say we had 120 homes sell within the last year, if we divided that by 12 we would have an average of 10 homes sold per month. If we currently had 30 homes on the market within that same area, we can divide the amount of homes by the average sale rate and come to 3. That in essence means that we have about 3 months supply on the market.

How we do know what a good amount of supply is?

Well, the figure that realtors use to judge the amount of inventory is the 6 month rule. 6 months of inventory is considered to be a completely balanced market, neither in favor of buyers or sellers, while anything below 6 months would be considered a sellers market, and the less there is, the faster the homes will sell and the higher the prices will go. Anything about 6 months of inventory would be considered a buyers market, the higher the supply, the more we will see price decreases and slower movement in housing sales.

As of December 2016, Eastchester has 4.1 months supply of inventory on the market, so as you can see, we still reside in a sellers market, so if you are thinking about listing your property for sale, the conditions are adequate, if you are thinking about purchasing, you will seemingly face competition in the current market.

 

Priced Out, A Weary Market For Buyers In Westchester

Our current market conditions make it weary for most purchasers looking in the Westchester Area, and exciting for most sellers. There are a couple of moving parts that create a sellers market within the Eastchester School District. Firstly, the law of supply and demand applies to all markets including the housing, and what we are seeing is a low supply of inventory and many people who want to buy in the neighborhood. This factor alone will drive prices up quickly depending on how high the demand is relative to supply. As of December 2016, Eastchester had 3.3 Months of supply on the market. This simply means at the current rate of sale (i.e. 30 days on market average for  a sale to take place) that all homes that are currently on the market would be sold in 3.3 months. This is a pretty strong sellers market, as Real Estate Experts state that a completely balanced market is more like 6 months of inventory. If there is above 6 months of inventory on the market than we are in a buyers market.

There is a ray of hope for buyers, and that is the historically low interest rates on conventional loans. This make affordability slightly easier, although the prices seem to be increasing quite quickly. As interest rates start to climb after the 2016 Presidential Election, we may see some initial buyers get a sense of urgency and begin to purchase, along with some buyers being knocked out of the markets for higher priced homes because of affordability unfortunately, although this may make the market more balanced overall.

The slowest sector we are seeing currently is the luxury market, which seems to have a mind of its own in the Real Estate Market and does not typically follow the traditional trends. The luxury sector follows different market conditions, typically, the luxury sector does quite well based on the conditions of other financial markets (stocks, bonds etc.). Many predict now that with a republican in office that we will see less regulation on the financial markets and perhaps strong growth there, creating a strong luxury market!

Selling your home in the first quarter

barhite-logoMany homeowners put off selling their home around the holidays for obvious reasons in Westchester County. Between the weather and added stress of the holiday season, it just doesn’t feel like a good time for many homeowners to list their property, besides, the spring market is the strongest, right?

Yes and no, there are benefits to listing your property for sale in the Winter and around the holiday season. Firstly, the first quarter is a big job transfer season for many purchasers, therefore these people are looking around the holidays for a new home. Secondly, you can be sure that the buyers that are looking at homes are motivated, people who go out and look at homes to purchase when there is snow on the ground and with the holidays around the corner are potentially more serious buyers, and there is a less a chance of those buyers that sellers dread coming around and just looking at a home for the heck of it. Lastly, the fact that most homeowners do not put their homes on the market at this time makes for less competition for you when listing your home, the less competition, the better your home shows on the market.

Regardless, most sellers wait until the second quarter to list their home for sale. The sun is shining, and it just feels more motivating to sell and show the home, we can understand this. Although, listing in the first quarter may be more beneficial to the seller. The same principles apply to the holiday season as do the first quarter, and perhaps even more so. Like the sellers, purchasers also fall into the belief that there will be more inventory after the holidays, therefore many buyers are on their toes waiting for January 2nd to come around. This is somewhat true, as inventory does start to come back on the market at that time, although many sellers will still wait until the spring or summer. We believe if you choose to list in the first quarter, you will be able to find those high urgency buyers that have waited for the holidays to end, and you will face less competition then in the spring and summer market.

We hope this makes sense and is helpful to our sellers!

Remember, if you are local to Eastchester and are looking to buy or sell Real Estate, please keep us in mind!

Best,

 

Frank

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