Sunday, January 31, 2010

Knowing your properties and your buyers

Having been in the real estate business for nearly ten years, I think I have gotten pretty good at knowing what buyers are right for each individual property. Each property is different and has a different buyer sub-set. Today I showed a listing in Bay Ridge and I could see this couple in the property-they liked what the property had to offer and what the building had to offer.

My colleagues, Josh and John and I closed on a house in Windsor Terrace in late December. At the open house in September where the buyers viewed the house, one of the family members was present. It was a lovely sunny day and each of the three agents took turns showing prospective buyers the property. A young couple arrived with a baby, with a sister of one of the spouses. They spent forty five minutes with one of the agents in the house while I was outside with the family member. I said to her, "those are your buyers." And sure enough within days we had an offer. They seemed like people willing to a little work, who were not scared of an older house that needed some renovation. If you know your properties well, you generally know who your buyers are.

Each property is unique. And each property has a more likely group of buyers. Although it seems somewhat obvious, a couple with a wife whom is pregnant is less than likely to buy a one bedroom apartment. You can often tell what sort of person, family or couple is more likely to purchase a property if you have years of experience under your belt and know your properties and neighborhoods. Choose a broker with that sort of experience to sell and market your property.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Getting through the day

I woke up this morning like any other day. I took my probably fifteen year old or plus beagle Bob down for a walk. He has arthritis and the last few weeks have not been easy on him-though yesterday he did very well.

I could see he did not want to walk that far so he did his business and I brought him back. I fed him as usual and he did not want to eat and I could tell he was in a lot of pain. I took him to the Vet, had to carry him to the car and to the Vet's office and I could barely witness his discomfort. He threw up on the way over and he was anxious and wriggling in pain.

Julie Morris, my amazing Veterinarian in Carroll Gardens took x-rays and said there might some issues with his discs. I left him there with IV fluids and IV steroids and hoped for the best. I just brought him home and he is much much better. I am very grateful.

Bob has been in my life since October of 1996. He sort of showed up on Garfield Place in Park Slope, as I was boarding him for a neighbor. He had three prior owners, was badly abused. But he and I knew we were meant for each other and I am thankful for every day we have had together. I pray that we can some more quality time. He is an amazing dog, loving and caring and rather stubborn like his father.

Thank God I work with great people who helped me get through the day, helped me with work, were there for me. And I still managed to get what needed to be done. Keep Bob in your prayers.

Friday, January 22, 2010

The Park Slope Food Coop

Yesterday I worked my shift at the Park Slope Food Coop, where I have been a member since 1983 with a brief rest during the time I lived in Chelsea in the late 1980's through early 90's. It has been a part of my life for half my life, one of the longest relationships I have. It remains an important part of my Brooklyn life, and it is something I truly believe in.

The food is amazing and the variety of food is incredible. I had mostly gone to local groceries in recent weeks and I bit into an apple I bought there Tuesday and thought this is amazing, a totally different experience. It is a cooperative venture that works, where people work together toward a common goal and succeed. I generally do "checkout" which means I scan people's groceries and now with the new technology they can pay me with a debit card, rather going to a cashier. It has speeded up shopping and has made the coop experience that much better. It's also a great way to see what other people are buying, items I may not know of.

While I was working yesterday, a woman told me she lives in a small one bedroom in the South Slope, which she bought when she was single. She is now married and her husband will not move further into Brooklyn, because it is important that they live nearer to the Coop. I thought that was amazing.

I need to be more involved in efforts to create a coop in Bay Ridge, however, there are so many hours in a day.

If you live or work near the Slope, come by for a visit. It is located at 782 Union Street between Sixth and Seventh Avenues. It's worth a trip for a far as well.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The Importance of Pricing Correctly

For this weekend of open houses, I got two of my sellers to do some price adjusting. I am getting few phone calls or e-mails for these properties and I felt it was needed to push buyers a bit, to show buyers that the sellers are negotiable.

We remain pretty lucky in New York City, and in Brooklyn, in particular. The market has remained relatively active and properties sell in reasonable time frames if they are priced appropriately. One of my colleagues told me she sold a studio in a week in Park Slope-I was not surprised as the pricing was thoughtful and there is not much in the lower price range in the Slope. I heard a story at my gym that a friend of one of the regulars is buying a house on the Gulf Coast of Florida for $270,000 that had been valued in the $700,000's at its peak. New York City and Brooklyn has had some minor price adjustments but that is all.

Selling real estate is not rocket-science. If you have a good broker, with a good firm and a big web presence, someone who is willing to share listings, you will sell the property. Good photographs are key as well. But pricing is key. Buyers must want to feel there is value and they will respond. Brooklyn, in particular is a place where there is a lot of value-more space compared to Manhattan, great neighborhood amenities and many neighborhoods with excellent public transportation. Wish me luck this weekend.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Working with a Broker

I showed a couple a property I have listed yesterday and they called me last evening to return. In the conversation, the wife mentioned she was working with a broker. I was rather surprised as usually if someone is working with a broker, the broker contacts me directly. I explained to the buyer that if they are working with a broker that person needs to contact me and be present at the showing.

A few months back, I showed a house I had listed in Bay Ridge and a broker contacted me to make the appointment. I arrived at the house at the arranged time and the prospective buyers soon followed. When they arrived, I asked if their broker was on the way. They replied that she never accompanies them to showings. I explained to this couple that a broker must accompany buyers unless other arrangements have been made prior to the showing.

I love working with buyers and sellers. If I represent a buyer, I make the appoinments. I act as their broker. A broker who does not accompany buyers to showings is not getting the feedback he or she needs. Much of the process of working with buyers is observing their experience at the property, what they like and dislike. Sometimes scheduling precludes my attending open houses with buyers if I am already committed to being at an open house for one of my listings. That being said, it is important for the relationship between buyers and a broker to be interractive in order for me to do my best work.

Of course, I am happy to represent buyers in the purchase process. Whomever you work with, make sure they are working for you, doing the work that needs to be done.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

The New Year and the Brooklyn Market

My impression of the Brooklyn market as we start the New Year is that interest in purchasing remains strong. My colleague, Ryan Roberts and I did an open house today at 475/476 Sterling Place in Prospect Heights and interest was clearly there. On a cold Saturday, right after the new year, about 16 buyer groups passed through the doors of each building, probably the highest number is a number of months.

Interest rates remain low and Brooklyn remains a very desirable place to live with great neighborhoods, and good values for the purchaser. I think we will continue to see strong activity in the market, especially as the weather gets warmer. New York City has suffered during the downturn, but not like many other places and it remains a desirable place to live for many. I will keep reporting on the state of the market as the year goes on.

We also received our Temporary Certificate of Occupancy at 476 Sterling yesterday. There are only two units left-a two bedroom two bath duplex on the top floor and a one bedroom apartment on the 3rd floor. Contact me if you are interested and stay warm!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

A New Year

Living in New York City and being Jewish, I get to observe a number of New Years. The Jewish New Year in the fall is probably the most significant for me, as I go to synagogue and think about ways I could live my life better. We also get to experience the lunar New Year that the Chinese observe each winter as well. But a year has passed on the calendar, and the last one presented many challenges to many of us.

Many still look for work. Business is just reviving and we work and hope to keep that revival on-going. Many are still left out of the revival, which threatens the long-term health of our economy and our city and nation. I was honored to attend the inauguration of the new City Comptroller and Public Advocate yesterday and the swearing-in of the Mayor for his third term. Each pledged to fight for all New Yorkers.

We live in a City of haves and have-nots and sometimes the distinction is extreme. Certainly people are responsible for their lives but often as a City and a nation, we fail to give those with less the chance to do more. And so many in the World suffer. I read yesterday in the New York Times about the closing of a dialysis unit at Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta, where many illegal immigrants were receiving care, now forced to sever family ties and receive substandard treatment, already resulting in some deaths. As a new year begins, we must renew our efforts to make this City, Nation and the World a place where people have to struggle less to enjoy the basics of life. Whether it means volunteering as a soup kitchen, donating money, doing political work to change the system. We are all responsible for each other. And in the New Year, let's renew our commitment to help each other. And be truthful and honest in our dealings.

Let's work to keep our world and City safe and peaceful and to prosper together. A good 2010.