ASK THE EXPERTS | To Sell and Buy Real Estate Simultaneously: Can it be Done?

The answer is yes, it can be done! However, it’s very important to know that there are many factors that go into making a situation work where someone is selling and buying real estate simultaneously, especially when there’s the need to use the funds from the first transaction to purchase the new home without having to rent an apartment in between. Today we ask the experts, Howard, Marie and Jeff of the MARGOLIS ESPINAL ADLER Team if this can be done, how it can be done, and what the key factors are that go into making sure their customers are successful in buying and selling simultaneously.

Q: How many deals have you done where a customer is buying and selling at the same time?

Howard: “We’ve been doing this for years since we’ve been together. We’ve been working together for eight years and as partners for six years and we’ve done these “sell-buy” at the same time deals every year, but for some reason 2017 was the grand-daddy of all years on this. I mean, we did four or five deals, and maybe that number doesn’t sound like so much, but you have to think about all of the moving parts that are involved.

Q: Do you think people are hesitant to sell and buy real estate simultaneously?

Jeff: “It’s so incredibly daunting and stressful for a customer who wants to buy something better and bigger, but needs to sell what they already own in order to make that purchase, and doesn’t want to rent in between. There’s a lot of detail that goes into that and a huge amount of hand-holding and this is Marie’s thing. I sit there and I’m thinking “no, they can afford a rental in the interim, and let’s do this in isolation”, and Marie just forges ahead and you’ll see from our customer testimonials how happy people are with the outcome.

Q: Do you see a pattern of any sort with price/time of year/etc. when people will sell and buy at the same time?

Jeff: “It seems to be really common where the buyer essentially needs the funds from the sale of their current home before purchasing the new home particularly in that $1.5 to $3.5/4 million range. Someone purchasing a $6-7 million dollar apartment, in our experience, likely doesn’t need the funds to be moved so quickly. Sadly enough, a $4 million budget, while still luxury, is a middle kind of market in NYC, so it’s all financial and not about the calendar.

Marie: “Adding to that, even though the customers normally looking to do this are extraordinarily well-qualified, with (on average) a combined income of .5 million and $1 million, they are still having to structure it this way because of the need to tap into the capital funds. In the end that’s what it all translates to – you have somebody that wants to make a move either for personal reasons, for example their family is growing, they’re having another child, etc. or they’ve been living in the same apartment for 5 years and they want change, and they simply cannot afford to go buy something without having that money from selling their current home, yet it’s a conundrum because if they rent in the interim, they are out $50-$60,000 for various moving expenses and rent for a year afterwards.

Q: How exactly do you ensure your client will be approved for the apartment they’re applying for since they’d then be in contract with their previous home?

Jeff: “The whole other part of this equation are the banks and the buildings, right? So the mortgages are based on income, not money you have in the bank. So when they’re based on income, you have to be able to get a mortgage. Also with co-op boards, they’re all over your finances. They want to see what your monthly expenses are, what your debt-to-income ratio is, all of these things. So you really have to walk a very fine line and build a narrative to make our buyers look as attractive as possible to these buildings so they’ll get through the approval process. That’s where Marie’s background in finance comes in and my background in customer service comes in. This is 24-7 hand-holding and it can seem daunting. A transaction doesn’t happen in 15-30 days, it can take 60-90 days and when you’re doing a sell and a buy at the same time, you’re talking 4-6 months before both transactions are completed, although we have done it in less time.

So what exactly does the process look like? Jeff, Marie and Howard give a breakdown on how the process should go with a few easy guidelines. Disclaimer – even though these are set up in easy-to-follow strategies, the process is a lot more complicated than one may think! The customer should always keep this in mind when choosing a broker to work with and make sure they’ve already been through the “sell-buy” process numerous times.

Determine your timeline.

Determine what timeline works best for you and then work backwards from the timeline you’ve created with your broker. Take into consideration any work events, life events, family events, etc. that may be scheduled to happen during this timeline that could alter plans. Is someone in your immediate family getting married? Is someone having a baby? Is someone going on a long business trip/vacation? These are all things to take into consideration when creating a timeline, because once it’s created, sticking with it is imperative.

Selling-Side

Lay everything out on the table with regards to financials, etc.

Laying everything out on the table for your brokers is something that can’t be stressed enough. Questions to ask: Are there enough assets in place to have a down payment or do we truly need to wait until the property is sold until we can tap into the cash from the previous property’s sale? Being honest with your brokers will only help the process!

Evaluate the market/agree on pricing.

Pricing correctly is everything. Working from the timeline you and your broker originally came up with, research and evaluate the market and work strategically with your broker on pricing the apartment to sell and to maximize your return in an efficient period of time. Example: Customer “A” has a six-month timeframe to be in their newly purchased home. Since that’s a constricting timeline, Customer “A” and their broker need to make sure everything is going to run smoothly by ensuring they have every detail of the process figured out. From day one, make sure the property is priced accurately and that all pieces of how the apartment go to market are thought out. Also, it’s imperative to make sure that the apartment is staged properly, the photography is spectacular, the narrative for the listing description makes sense, and that it’s going on the market at the right time. All of these factors will affect how the property does on the market, and will ultimately determine if it sits, or if it sells.

Hit the market and follow the pulse of the listing over the first month, then reevaluate if needed.

In general, it’s easy to know very quickly how the listing is doing based on client feedback. Be sure to listen to what prospective buyers and their brokers are saying about the property and how they’re engaging at open houses, etc. Usually if things are done correctly, an offer will come in within one to two weeks if there are no building issues, such as maintenance, assessments, legal issues, etc. As a rule of thumb, the barometer for knowing if anything needs to be shifted is two weeks. If no offers have come in and there are no serious prospects, it’s time for the seller and the broker to address the issues and talk about how to fix them in a timely manner. Remember: time is of the essence!

Typically in these situations, within one month (and possibly up to 45 days) the property is in contract. Once the home is in contract and the terms of the contract are understood, then creating a narrative and building a story is the next part for the customer purchasing the apartment they’re interested in. Keep in mind this entire time, the broker and customer have been viewing apartments and generally have their eye on one or two homes that they love. They have also done their due diligence and are ready to move forward once their current place is in contract.

Buying- Side

All along this process, the customer and broker have been looking at properties to purchase and will act on a property of interest once the previous property goes into contract. Once the customer is in contract on the new property, they will go before the board in their interview, which is when it’s imperative to create a story to ensure they’re approved.

Create a narrative (for Co-Ops)

It’s all about positioning a buyer strongly, in a packaged and very buttoned-up way, and creating a narrative where their qualifications are properly laid out in front of the board. All of this is built into the financial rhetoric and whoever is on the receiving end of the offer is usually much more comfortable with the financials that are being presented, especially if the funds are not reflected on the bank statements.

Close!

If all goes well, the broker ensures that the timing works out where the customer will close on the original property. Then shortly thereafter, they close on the new property with the proceeds from the sale of the other property.

Over the course of their six-year partnership, Howard, Marie and Jeff have done a significant number of transactions where their customers are buying and selling concurrently. When asked what the most important factor is, Marie says, “If you’re thinking of selling and buying simultaneously, make sure you are working with a seasoned broker who has been through the process numerous times. I can’t stress that enough: Always work with a really seasoned broker! It’s not something I would recommend doing on your own, with a broker who is just starting out or without proper guidance in general. Your broker has to understand all of the red flags and all of the little things that that need to be caught, which will happen if they’re familiar with the process.  Problems do come up every so often and things do go wrong, but in the end, things always work themselves out and our clients are very happy in their new homes once the process is done.


Ask The Experts | “Ready To Sell” To-Do List

So you read our piece last month about now being the time to plan your sales strategy for the fall, and you’ve decided “yes, I want to list my home in September.” Great! “And I want your team to be my partner.” Even better! “What should I absolutely do now to make my home sell faster when I do list?”

What a great question! We wish more savvy sellers like yourselves would be open to truly embracing the answers to this pro-active question. There are several things to tackle that, if you do so now, will play to your benefit come fall.

  • Have us walk through the property with you. A broker walk-through will give you all of the tips you need to have your apartment look as fresh and appealing as possible when you pull the trigger. This way, you benefit from the daily experience we have showing and viewing properties, to help your place stand out (or at the very least meet the bar) in the market.

 

  • Paint. You know that incredible hue of red you and your partner found together that just screams “you”? Well that’s precisely the kind of shade that may scream “run” to one too many prospective buyers out there. Although it may seem bland and boring, the primary purpose of the paint is to create as neutral a palette for the apartment to appeal to the most number of people. This is not the time to squeeze your creative juices or exercise your interior design courage.   The secondary purpose of the paint is to help the place look crisp and clean, so it pays to hire someone truly qualified to make sure those edges are sharp and the coats are even.

 

  • Fix. You know that chipped baseboard corner that you stubbed your toe on more times than you can remember? Or that cracked mirror in the bathroom? Or how about the nicked kitchen countertop? Now is the perfect time to fix those little things that you think only you notice. They, in fact, accumulate little by little and add up to an “eh” feeling from buyers walking through your property. There should be as little as possible left for anyone to “fix” when buying the place; you want to make the apartment turn-key, making the decision to buy as seamless as possible.

 

  • De-clutter. We’ve said it once, and we’ll say it again, and again, and again. The minute you decide to list your apartment for sale, it is no longer “your” apartment but a product to sell. You are looking to create a neutral space that when others walk in, they think “aaaaah, I can live here.” This means a picture of you on a sailboat or of your parents in Paris shouldn’t bring that vision to a screeching halt. Those kinds of personal items serve as an heavy reminder to others that someone else lives there, an obstacle to their seeing themselves in the space already. Further, look at all of the “things” you have in your place, and try to get rid of 20-40% of it. The extra shelves, the extra side table, the excess seating, the storage containers … and the closet contents, especially the closet contents. You want to leave room for additional clothing to go in there, sending the message “oh, the closet it so big, they didn’t even fill it.” Ultimately, you are looking to create the physical and mental space necessary for others to insert themselves into it. (Yes, we’re often psychologists in our role.)

 

  • Photograph. Schedule a photography session of your apartment now. “Now? But we’re two months away!” you say. Yes, but flowers are in bloom and the light of the summer sun always helps to show your building off, especially the exterior. Further, you benefit from photographers being far more available now, with more flexible schedules, than they are when everyone is rushing to list in the fall. Take your time, do it right, do it when the time suits you best, and you’ll be better off for it.

Ask The Experts | “How Do I Make My Home Sell Faster?”

Last month, the question we received most was “how is the market?” We hope you have a good sense of what’s happening on the ground in NYC after our last post (which can be found here).  Over the past few weeks, we have heard a consistent set of questions (mostly from referral prospects) around, “how can I make my home sell faster?”  We hope the following helps those among you who are currently looking to sell or on the market, but not getting the results you seek.

We’re going to split our answer into the three driving factors behind the speed of the sale. We believe that the following attributes combined are responsible for how long a property sits on the market.  When you get their combination just right (often as much of a science as it is an art) then you create the perfect storm of selling in a short period of time, for the right price, via an uncomplicated transaction as possible.

Price

First and foremost, pricing is the single biggest factor in determining how long your property is on the market.  Period.  Now that we’ve gotten that proclamation out of the way, let’s expand.

You may have heard us or other savvy brokers say “the market prices your property, not you.”  And this is true – kind of.  Ultimately, “the market” is, indeed, the overarching determinant of how much your property will sell for.  But who is this magical, know-it-all “market”? It’s the sum pool of buyers looking for the kind of property you are selling, and their collective wisdom around what that property is worth.  The more buyers in your market pool, the quicker the market will be to price the property and the more “accurate” it will be in doing so.  There are always outliers, of course, which tend to sway this market price one way or another.  Generally speaking, the market is pretty intelligent.

That said, there are ways to maximize your desired outcome (and there are definitely ways to shoot yourself in the foot).   As the market is made up of human beings, who are not hyper-efficient decision makers individually.  And they tend to influence one another (think herd mentality, group-think and peer pressure).  Natural cognitive biases kick in when stakes are high, which influence market pricing.  This means when people walk into an open house with 20 other prospective buyers walking around, they perk up and feel a need to act if they’re interested.   This also means that if buyers see a property has been on the market for more than four or five months, they feel that something must be wrong with it and don’t include it into the mix.

All of this said, the optimal pricing strategy for a property is to come in at or just below the market price.  This does not necessarily mean that this will be where you end up. It’s easy to say “well, if we start there, then we’ll only negotiate down from there.” Not true!  If you price slightly below the market, the strategy is to get enough volume going to get multiple bids which then drive the price up and shorten the time on market simultaneously. This strategy also maximizes the “new kid on the block” benefit at a right price, by luring buyers in at an attractive price.

Makes sense, right? It still takes some courage or faith that the strategy actually delivers (believe us, it does) and so you shouldn’t be surprised to learn how many sellers price their properties above the market only to see cobwebs form on their listing.  Buyers think they’re not a serious seller, they forego seeing the property, not enough volume generates no offers, and the listing becomes stale in no time, preventing new buyers in the market from seeing it because “something must be wrong with it.” The vicious cycle is fulfilled.

Timing

Timing is everything:  when you list, how often you host open houses in the first two to three weeks of the listing, how often you accommodate buyer viewing requests during that time … all of this matters.  You want to feel a sense of urgency from your broker when you hit the market.  You, in turn, want to make your apartment as available as possible, as often as possible, to give as many buyers the opportunity to include your property into their finalist list.  Volume and frequency are your friends when you list, which is why listing during a peak time makes a difference.  (Remember: once you decide to sell, your apartment is no longer yours; it becomes a product that you must help move.)

Now, on the flip side, if you’re the nicest, smartest kid on the block when few other kids are around, then you can shine, as well.  This requires a modified strategy of maximizing the scarcity of inventory and standing out as the shining star.  Buyers are in the market year-round, some needing to act sooner than later.  There’s always a way to make sure that timing is on your side, and this is where that trusted broker relationship comes in.

Appeal

If you’ve ever seen any cable real estate shows, you’ll be hard-pressed to make it through one episode without hearing about “curb appeal”.  Clearly this is less directly applicable to urban settings but the underlying message still applies:  your property needs to show well.  What does this mean?

It means that buyers need to be able to see themselves in the space; they need to envision themselves living in your place.  Tangibly, this means you must remove as many peculiarities and specificities about you that are in there:  photos of you, eccentric colors that “so express your unique personality”, that funky wallpaper that the two of you picked out on your honeymoon reflecting the inside joke none of your friends ever got … you get the gist.  You need to neutralize your property to make it appeal to as broad an audience as possible.

Further, decluttering is key, as is cleanliness.  You want to create a clean palette that allows others to paint their own pictures of themselves.  Anything stained, torn or broken should be fixed.  Smells should be pleasant (no, you don’t need to bake cookies), and lighting should be inviting.  People make up their minds about a space as quickly as they do about a person: in less than 30 seconds.  “Do I want to continue walking through and discovering this place, or is it not worth my time?”  Eliminate all the possible obstacles to someone saying “no” in their minds.

Especially in this regard, listen to your broker. (S)he sees dozens of apartments every week, if not every day. (S)he has a great understanding of what works and what doesn’t, what will turn buyers off and what won’t.  Once you hire this expert (assuming, of course, you’ve done your due diligence and picked the right partner), listen to him/her.  And if you’re not willing to listen, find someone else, because as fast as this world can move, it’s more of a sprint than a marathon, and you want to make sure you have a trusted advisor by your side, through thick and thin.


At The Core | Now Is The Time To Engage Your Broker

Last month in this section, we strongly advised against betting on NYC, articulating the transition we see occurring in the markets.  Based on the many conversations we’ve had since, this month we’re urging you to engage us if you are in any way considering entering the market as a buyer or seller over the coming months, especially as a seller.  With no further ado, our official headline is “Now is the time to engage your broker!”  There, we’ve said it quite explicitly.

“Why now?” you might ask. “I have plenty of time before the fall.”  It’s very funny for us to talk with clients as they tell us in a relaxed, sit-by-the-pool kind of voice, “we are more than 10 weeks away from Labor Day”, and have us respond in a pot-is-boiling-over voice “you are a mere 10 weeks away from Labor Day!”.  Same facts, different perspectives.

You see, our team believes in being prepared; we believe in doing our homework, being strategic, and doing everything in our power to hit the ground running successfully, selling your property of the highest price we can get you in the shortest period of time.  Doing so doesn’t happen in one week; being prepared takes time, research and planning.

The markets start significantly picking up with the pitter-patter (more often stampede) of buyer feet pounding the pavement, en masse.  We want to capitalize on that increased volume of demand to your advantage starting late-summer, early-fall, when prime listing season beings.  This means:

  • We need to begin talking to you about valuations and real-time trends and metrics we’re seeing.
  • We want to start creating tailored marketing plans that speak to your specific property, in your specific building, in your specific neighborhood.
  • We want an effective narrative that speaks to your target buyers, that’s relevant and impactful.
  • We need ample time to assess any repairs or requisite work that will, in turn, optimally position your property to achieve our objectives.

If you’re even considering upgrading a kitchen or updating flooring, this takes time.  You want to be in the market come fall, not working with contractors and running into the holiday season.

Luck is when preparation meets opportunity, and we like to think that we help our clients maximize their luck of finding “that all-cash buyer” who is looking to pull the trigger next week; or “that quirky family” who wanted that exact ratio of outdoor and indoor living space; or “those empty nesters” who really want that large living area for entertaining in their golden years and don’t care about the small bedroom size.  Real estate is made up of stories that seem anomalous, that seem like the stars all aligned in just the right way to make a deal happen; those lucky sellers!  We like to believe that we create our sellers’ “luck”, and are ghost-writers of such stories …  so long as we have the time and trust to do our jobs the best way that we know how – through hard work, research and preparation.

So let us help all of your stars be aligned and let’s have a conversation sooner than later about how to hit the fall listing season with a magical story of your own!


At The Core | Have We Hit an Equilibrium?

Ahhh, the sweet, sweet smell of equilibrium! (Ok, it doesn’t actually smell but it feels right.) What do we mean? For the first time in a very long time, it feels to us that we’ve reached a very nice equilibrium between seller and buyer behaviors.

  • Sellers are waking up to a new reality of more down-to-earth prices and adjusting their strategy accordingly. (Out-of-sync seller behavior usually looks like pricing above the market, thinking the property can sell in a few weeks, and refusing to engage with buyers looking to negotiate.)
  • Buyers, in turn, are back out pounding the pavement, actively looking for the right opportunity. (Out-of-sync buyer behavior usually looks like buyers giving up altogether, refusing to compromise on property desires, waiting things out endlessly for “the right apartment” to appear, or not moving quickly enough.)

Wouldn’t you know it: this equilibrium has resulted in a strengthening of the market. Even in a typically slow month, January came in with very healthy activity. This is in no small part due to the pent-up demand that built up during the uncertain Q4 releasing in January. So many people were holding their breath (and their wallets) … until they decided that sitting out of the game altogether was not in their best interest. And no, the sky didn’t fall. Truth be told, prices are softening a bit, but we need to remember that prices don’t keep increasing forever, especially not as steeply as they have for the last few years. We are in a far more sustainable new norm, and we welcome it!


At The Core | Resale Home Prices Decrease

It’s been quite some time since we’ve been able to write the following: resale home prices are falling.  That’s right boys and girls: the price of resale apartments is-a-goin’-down

So, while you let that sink in for a second, let’s share some disclaimers and add a little perspective:

  1. Real estate prices never go in one direction for too long – and our recent streak of 6+ years has been truly a long one. Everyone knew that the pace wasn’t sustainable; the question was when we would see the breaking point of this trend. Alas, now the proof is in the pudding.
  2. It’s not just that prices have gone up, but over the past several years, we’ve seen nothing but bidding wars, limited inventory and excessive seller exuberance. This has left many sellers with a bit of a God complex, and buyers with a lot more white hair (from the perpetual stress of competing for properties and losing out on bids) and foot blisters (from constantly pounding the pavement to visit open houses and see new property). If you’ve been reading the Apple Peeled for some time, you might have even gotten bored by the same narrative: “yes, inventory is tight; yes, it’s a seller’s market; yes, you need to move at light-speed, and ideally have all cash (or at least a non-contingent financed offer, to have a shot at grabbing that apartment.”
  3. We believe this is a natural correction to a crazy market that had to slow down and adjust to market realities. This doesn’t make it an easy adjustment by any means, especially to you sellers out there, but as Jonathan Miller, President of Miller Samuels, has put it: “Maybe we’re heading out of the period when there was no shame in overpricing your home. We’re moving away from that and into something more pragmatic: Do you want to actually sell your property or do you want to pretend? Part of selling is pricing correctly or being more negotiable.” The pendulum swings. The farther out it swings, the sharper the swing feels on the way back.

Now, for the silver lining. Buyers, you have some breathing room on your side, and we haven’t been able to say that for years. At long last, you don’t have to pounce on each and every fresh listing within a few days of it coming on the market.  You don’t need to study auction dynamics before placing your offer.  You can relax a bit, be more planful, and stroll into that open house instead of sprint.

That said: warning to the buy-side wise: properly priced properties that are of high quality will continue to move at lightning speed (note in the article that 14% of properties are still closing above their asking price.)  So if you come across an apartment that you feel has the right attributes, the right location and the right price, chances are other buyers will feel the same way.

Sellers, it’s been a great ride … nay, a phenomenal ride. You’ve been able to call the shots for some time now, and buyers have responded.  It’s time to take a deep breath and assess your real motivation for selling your place.  It’s time to be realistic and be flexible in how you look at comps as you price your apartment.


Ask The Experts | Pricing and Comps

A truism that all sellers should know: in a rising market, you’re pricing in future gains; in a falling market, buyers are pricing in future decreases; you’re always playing catch-up.

Think about it: anyone selling anything always has a bias of wanting more for that item than the market can bear.  In a rising market, that bias doesn’t hurt you so much.  Buyers are pricing in a premium and are willing to slightly overpay based on the assumption that they’ll more than make up for it over the long haul based on robust market conditions.

In a falling market, however, you’re in a bit of a pickle. On one hand, you don’t want to leave money on the table and price too low. On the other hand, you know that by pricing too high, you risk having one price decrease after another to just meet the market where it is (i.e. below your adjusted expectations).  Chances are, just by the sheer bias as a seller, you’ll find yourself in the latter camp.

One other dynamic feeding into this likelihood: comps.  You see, comps are lagging the market by their very definition.  In a rising market, comps will always be lower than what the market can bear, which is why so many properties end up in a bidding scenario: because where a property was priced is just slightly below where the market is, and buyers are always at or ahead of the curve.  On the flip side, in a falling market, comps will always, always, and (one more for good measure) always guide you to overprice.  Why? Because they represent properties that closed in the past, which themselves are representative of deals that likely closed 3 months ago (the delay in public reporting), which themselves were signed 3 months before closing … meaning comps tend to lag about 6 months behind the market, a falling market. Therefore, if you’re trying to price “at” the market, you should likely try to price at or below where deals were closing at least 6 months ago; this, of course, depends on the speed at which prices are falling.

Otherwise noted: if you’re a seller in today’s market, you can’t afford to price “at” the market.  How do you finesse your way into precisely the right price range at which to negotiate your property?  That’s where an experienced broker partner comes in. If this sounds like we may be tooting our horn a bit, we are.

How many teams can say they’ve successfully weathered more than three NYC real estate cycles … let alone 5? How many of them can say they have a holistic approach to managing all sides of the transaction, along with all its players?  Accomplished, proven real estate brokers are your most significant asset; they know the product, the specific building and history, and understand the respective comps intimately.  There’s no substitute for experience here!    And the key to benefiting from that rich, valuable experience is trust.  Don’t stop until you are in a partnership with a broker whom you trust.  And then, for god’s sake, trust them to leverage their know-how and perspective in your favor.

Points of inflection in market trends (from rising to falling prices, from sellers’ to buyers’ markets) are tricky and require an extra level of expertise to navigate. Make sure you’re in the right hands and then you can keep calm and carry on :).


Ask The Experts | What You Need To Know For 2017

This month, we thought we’d tackle a frequently asked question from both buyers and sellers.

Buyer Question: is now a good time to find a deal or am I better off waiting until the new year?

Answer: This is a more nuanced question than most buyers realize. Options are very different than deals.  If you’re looking to pull the trigger and you haven’t found a property to your liking, then waiting until inventory picks up in the new year is likely a good idea.  You are likely to have more options that might make your heart pitter patter when more sellers decide to finally list.  That said, and here’s the rub: if you’re looking for a real deal, waiting may not be your best option.

Why? First because the new year’s inventory increase is also likely to bring with it competition in the form of new buyers who have chosen to sit out the market until the election and holiday dust settles. This means that those very same properties that might move you to act are likely to be the ones prompting other buyers to act, reducing your likelihood of getting a “deal”. More importantly, however, these new buyers are also likely to consider properties they’ve never before seen and may, themselves, be looking for bargains.  That property that’s been lingering on the market for the last 5 months? That’s the one that you can likely negotiate to its most attractive levels now, when you have less competition and when sellers are really sweating it out.  Trust us: if a seller’s property is 5-6 months old, they are not stress-free. This is not to say that a seller is financially stressed but likely to negotiate in order to sell.

It may be worth your while to revisit properties you’ve seen before but passed on, and burnish your negotiations stamina so you can get the deal moving. Sellers know that this means their properties are unlikely to trade until January or February at this pace, so they may be more willing partners in the transaction.  Remember: finding the property is only a fraction of the battle.  You’re working with a broker partner to help you navigate the entire process and, most importantly, negotiate on your behalf.  Endless research studies have shown that we are our own worst negotiators; don’t let YOU get in your own way! We can sift through the influx of information you are receiving, help you make sense of it all, devise a disciplined purchase strategy and hold your hand when the going gets tough (as it almost always does).

Seller Question: How do I know if I’m holding on to a property that I should consider selling right now? (i.e. What’s selling?)

Answer: If you are thinking of selling, this is what we recommend based on what we’re seeing buyers looking for right now:

Millennials defining demand: studios and 1-bedrooms are moving! If you’re considering listing your studio or 1-bedroom, this may well be the right time as it is the hottest segment and represents the largest buyer base at this time. Most of the demand in this market segment is driven by millennials, most of whom are looking for turnkey apartments. What does this mean for you? If your property is dated or stale, it may be worth investing in a quick renovation and some sprucing up of appliances and finishes to make it move-in ready and effectively woo this demographic. Putting some money into your unit will pay off in terms of fewer days on market and a potentially higher valuation.

Pricing sensitivity for larger footprints: conversely, properties with 2+ bedrooms are currently defined by increased price sensitivity. Unlike the potential bells and whistles that may work for smaller properties, across all larger bedroom counts we’re seeing the themes of price, price and price rule. This is regardless of whether or not your home sits on the market for longer than you’d like. So make sure you do your homework, get a very specific and granular set of comps, price accordingly, and keep track of competitive properties as they emerge.


Ask The Experts | When Should I Rent or Buy

One of the recent interviews we have given is with Business Insider, who wanted to know when is the best time to rent or buy in the city. Often times this is greatly variable and certainly dependent on local market happenings. In other words, if a new building with hundreds of units is coming to market in April, that would be the best time for that building to get in.  Similarly, if you’re in a rental property converting to a condo, that initial offering period before the building fully converts would be the ideal time to buy.

Short of such specific situations, we have generally found that the dark, dreary days of winter tent to yield the best deals. Why?  Simply put, people want to stay inside when it’s cold outside.  Do you want to unload a moving truck in a blizzard?  Do you feel like schlepping around to open houses with snow boots?  Neither do other people, and so transactions tent to slow, meaning that landlords and sellers alike need to sweeten their offerings a bit to get the rental or sale they seek.  The less foot traffic, the lower the likelihood of competition over the same unit, the lower the overall price tends to be.

Therefore, if you have the luxury of waiting for a certain time period to enter the market and you don’t mind the more limited choices you’re likely to have during that time, enjoy your summer and look to the winter as the time to find your new home.