At The Core: Knowledge is Power

We’re preparing for an upcoming business trip. It’s been in the works for months or even longer, but its finally almost upon us.

An audience on the other side of the globe waits for us to deliver our expertise. That’s a massive responsibility, one that we embrace and take very seriously. But It doesn’t matter who or where the audience is, being called an expert in any profession is an immense responsibility.

A trip like this one has a way of forcing us to dig a little deeper and work a little bit harder to ensure that we exceed expectations. For weeks now, we’ve been gathering information along with other members of the Espinal Adler team. We’re creating reports to help tell the story of our current marketplace and the opportunities that exist within it.

It’s true that we’re gathering this information for an audience far away. But the effort and energy we invest preparing and further educating ourselves, and the willingness to push beyond an antiquated idea of our own comfort zone is going to make us better at our jobs – and that’s a good thing for all of our clients, even the ones right around the corner. Because of that, no matter how successful we are based on traditional business standards, this trip represents another massive step in our careers.

We believe that knowledge, and the effort put forth to gain it, and the desire to deliver it genuinely to others, is what separates an ordinary real estate agent from an expert.

Since well before the itinerary for our trip was finalized, we’ve been surrounding ourselves with the best, most respected, and most knowledgeable people in our industry. Learning from them is part of our job — part of our responsibility – it’s part of being a true professional. We meet every week with experts from different niches within our industry, doing what we can to pry from them whatever knowledge they’re willing to share so that we can deliver it to our clients.

In the first few months of 2019 alone, we’ve met with:

  • An attorney that specializes in representing foreign nationals.
  • One of the most talented interior designers in New York.
  • The CEO of a company whose expertise in compliance is sought out by virtually every condo developer in the region.
  • Perhaps the most respected appraiser in all 5 boroughs.
  • The president of one of the most widely used NYC property search engines.
  • More than a dozen lenders to find out exactly what each of them might offer our clients.

During the last year, our team has promoted a marketing expert, added a mortgage expert, and we hired another multi-lingual agent. All of those actions fit within the same mantra of bringing to our clients the most knowledge and expertise available.

Knowledge is Power

In our personal lives we interact with professionals who work in fields that we know very little about. We expect those professionals to guide us appropriately, especially when we’re making a purchase. But if we have no history or established relationship with the person offering their guidance, it’s not easy to put our complete and total trust in the advice they are giving.

One of the members of our team told us he went to a “big box” hardware store last week to gather information about a flooring project he was working on.

He expected the sales person would be able to provide the price per square foot – after all, it’s written right on the display. He expected that the salesperson would be able to tell how long it takes to order a product and to have it delivered and installed.

But our team member was caught off-guard and pleasantly surprised when the salesperson provided details about the tax benefits of specific capital improvements made to a primary residence, including the installation of new floors. It was obvious that the salesperson took pride in his profession. His knowledge exceeded expectations and provided instant credibility.

The same principles can and should be applied in real estate. An agent has to be so much more than a scheduler and a door opener – That is the least amount of value we can possibly provide. Every day, we have to work on our craft. We have to surround ourselves with and learn from other experts in our field so that we can live up to the responsibility of being called a professional and an expert.

 


Ask the Experts: Tech Pioneer – Noah Rosenblatt

Hoping to gain ground on its massive competitor Streeteasy, Urban Digs is improving its platform with input the tech company gleaned from a few of the top realtors in New York City.

Noah Rosenblatt, founder and CEO at Urbandigs, fully recognizes the force that is Streeteasy, and he admits that it’s “still the place to go” when consumers are looking for real estate in New York City. But, he said, the behemoth property search engine doesn’t offer the best experience for the buyer, the seller or the agent.

“I’ve spoken to a lot of consumers,” Rosenblatt said. “Everyone is saying the same thing. It’s completely consensus now, StreetEasy has shortcomings.”

The selling of leads and the overabundance of expired or inaccurate data is at the root of that disillusion, according to Rosenblatt. He said UrbanDigs is offering its clientele exceptional tools and a more efficient overall search experience, and they will never allow the “re-routing” of inquiries and leads, a hot-button topic throughout the real estate community.

“I’m very philosophically against that whole thing,” he said. “I think that a listing page should belong to the exclusive listing agent who was exclusively hired to promote that listing.”

Pleasing the realtor is paramount to the future success of UrbanDigs. The company has spent two years gathering suggestions from any of the 10’s of thousands realtors at a few large firms the tech company has enterprise accounts with. But most recently, they’ve handpicked a dozen or so of the top agents and real estate teams in the city. The best agents most specific requests repeatedly overlap and converge with one another, Rosenblatt said, adding that 80-90% of the most-common suggestions would be implemented during the next 3-4 months.

Douglas Elliman’s Espinal/Adler team is one of the groups UrbanDigs works closely with in their effort to refine its platform. Espinal/Adler partner Marie Espinal said the implementation of realtor-side wants and needs would undoubtedly improve the consumer experience simultaneously, especially the time-saving efficiencies built into the platform. UrbanDigs automated menial realtor tasks like registering for an open house, designed to free-up an agent’s time.

“It’s not just about our time,” Espinal said. “It’s about our client’s time. Their time is valuable too.”

Espinal isn’t necessarily opposed to StreetEasy’s approach to monetizing its site through the sale of leads. In fact, she pointed out that most successful brokers needed to incorporate the search engine’s premier agent strategy to stay competitive. She and partner Jeff Adler said consumers can become frustrated or confused when they think they’ve phoned a specific property’s listing agent only to realize they’ve reached a realtor that isn’t connected to that property at all.

“We want our buyers to know about that,” Adler said. “And we want them to understand the differences in the user experience for each platform.”

StreetEasy is still a phenomenal tool, Espinal said, but the re-routing of leads has degraded the site’s overall transparency.

“At some point, StreetEasy flipped the other switch, and became an engine to generate leads and sell them,” Espinal said. “That was always the endgame.” Now she offers specific advice: “If you have a broker, and you don’t want to get called by 25 other brokers, do yourself a favor and have your broker go to whichever search engine they use, and let them run the appointments for you.”

UrbanDigs first major update amongst the other “finishing touches” it plans on implementing this year is the addition of a “Buildings Page” that will allow users to analyze and compare buildings against others like it in a target neighborhood or even individual units in a specific building. That update is scheduled for January 30.

COO John Walkup said the site’s data, and its charts and reports will always be what sets UrbanDigs apart from its competitors. They’ve written 600,000 lines of programming code just to enable their custom charts, and they offer 10 different types of reports and can focus on each individual neighborhood in the city. When properly interpreted, according to Rosenblatt, each report’s data would allow an agent to quickly become a market expert and share that expertise with their client.

Analyzing and interpreting the available data is up to each individual agent though. “If you’re a producing agent, using UrbanDigs is like Kerosene on a fire,” Walkup said. “But if you don’t have the experience, and you don’t know how the market works, it’s like pouring kerosene on sticks.”



Date Your City | Hockney Exhibit at the MET

Hockney at the MET. Need we say more?

For nearly 60 years, David Hockney (British, born 1937) has pursued a singular career with a love for painting and its intrinsic challenges. This major retrospective is the exhibition’s only North American venue, so don’t miss it unless you plan to travel abroad.  In it, the artist is honored in his 80th year by presenting his most iconic works and key moments of his career from 1960-current day.

Working in an impressive range of media, thoroughly seasoned by his wit and intelligence, Hockney has taken a deep dive in capturing the perceived world of movement, space, and time … yet in two dimensions. The exhibition offers a superb overview of Hockney’s achievements across his chosen media, including painting, drawing, photography, and video. Go marvel at early experiments with modernist abstraction and mid-career experiments with illusion and realism … and take in the jewel-toned landscapes of his most recent work to partake in his exploration of the nature of perception and representation.

The last day to see this exhibit is February 25th!


Team Spotlight | 319 E. 51st Street

As you’ve seen by now, and if you’ve known us for a while, you’ve noticed that we’re light on tooting our own horn. That’s not so say we don’t share moments of pride or particular accomplishments, but we steer clear of more traditional, persistent horn tooting.

We prefer to let our clients tell our story, which is how we’ve built our business over the years – from referrals of clients who have trusted us and, in turn, trust our team with their friends and family to ensure the best experience and the optimal outcome for them.

To that end, we wanted to share a client relationship story that reflects the above, based on a recently signed contract for the townhouse at 319 East 51st Street. We initially sold this property to our dear clients; after renovating it with meticulous attention to detail (and brilliantly, we might add), they entrusted us with their real estate needs, again. After successfully listing the property for them, culminating into a signed contract, we are now helping them find their new home.

To us, a client is more than just one singular transaction and this story is proof that we are committed beyond the transaction. We are committed to you and our relationship over the years, through different market cycles, and frankly through different life cycles as your needs change. We are honored and blessed to fill this role, and we never take it for granted.

Thank you for your long-term support and trust!

 


Date Your City | Rooftop Reds

In case you haven’t heard, rooftops are the thing, the getaway, the perfect place to rise above it all and breathe. Either for a relaxing night out with your friends or a romantic date night, time is ticking to get your rooftop fix in, and no place is better than at the only rooftop vineyard in NYC. Roofs and wine, what is there to regret? Rooftop Reds is making waves in the media and is the “it” thing to go to this summer.  So naturally (because we are hip) we had to highlight this! Rooftop Reds is located at the Brooklyn Navy Yard and has stunning views, pizza, wine, and movie nights (among other events – think ribs and rosé). So don’t let summer pass you by without visiting this only-in-New-York venue!


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.

Apple Bites | Public Kitchen

Jean-Georges has been quite busy of late with the opening up of Public Kitchen in Ian Schrager’s Public Hotel on the Lower East Side. The restaurant is already the hotel’s centerpiece, and it’s only been open since June. The 150-seat venue offers a kaleidoscope of styles and dishes, representing NYC’s “intermingling tapestry of cultures”, as he notes. The corn and basil pot-stickers are precious, the three-cheese pizza comes fresh out of its wood-burning stove, the popcorn-cheddar frico is truly a unique work of culinary art, and the fried chicken sandwich with cherry pepper mayo and yuzu pickles is nothing short of spectacular. Save some room for the chocolate and matcha soft-serve ice-cream while you savor your meal in an enchanting ambiance with a great bar and a lush outside garden. Did we mention that your pooches are also welcome? Take a peek at the menu and you’ll see why Public Kitchen is already a public success.


At The Core | Q2 Market Report Summary

Q2 is now behind us and it’s time to take a look at what it’s telling us.  There’s nothing like diving into the data, itself, to complement anecdotal evidence and get a clear picture of the market.

So, here are some of the take-away sound bites from Elliman’s own 2nd Quarter Report:

  • The average NYC sale hit yet another all-time record of $2.19 M – that’s a healthy margin over the $2 million mark that defines the average price for a NYC apartment … no small feat
  • Strong sale prices were driven by two primary factors: more realistic sellers who have been adjusting to the new norm in the market, and the pent-up demand that we’ve seen from buyers either sitting on the sidelines or trying to buy to no avail during the past year
  • The sheer volume of sales was the strongest in 7 quarters, driven by increased inventory and the fear of rising interest rates looming right around the corner
  • Condos continued to fuel the rise of price-points, overall, and the entry-level market (as defined by the combination of size and price – studios and the sub $1 M price-point) continued to be strong and the arena for the greatest number of bidding wars. To that end, make no mistake about it, the sub $1 million market has been hot, hot, hot!
  • The outlook for the upper end of the market has improved and will be stronger than we think this year, as resale inventory has dropped sharply
  • Interestingly, the share of all-cash sales fell by 4% to 42%, the lowest since this metric began tracking 3 years ago. (Still, we’re always in awe that close to half of all sales are cash – keep this in mind when it comes to making an offer on a place you love.)
  • New development prices nudged up over the past year, as did sales volumes, despite their lower share of overall sales volume, and despite the increase in both time on market and listing discount.

 The bottom line for the last quarter is that buyers and sellers continue finding common ground. Sellers have adjusted to the new market reality, and prices have followed suit.  We are in a far more sustainable phase of this market’s growth now.  Buyers and sellers, both, can expect that focusing on the fundamentals will serve them well.


Monthly Gem | 527 W. 27th Street

This month’s gem is paying homage to the summer, and reveling in the indoor/outdoor experience that is all too often rare in the city.  We’re focusing on Jardim at 527 W. 27th Street.  This West Chelsea development truly is a little oasis in the heart of one of the most dynamic neighborhoods of the city.  Home to Hudson Yards, the High Line, and plenty of galleries, this City nook is rapidly developing into its own destination.  When we say it’s a little oasis, we are also referring to its size of 36 units, ranging from 1 to 4 bedrooms, albeit at a generous average of 2,500 square feet.  Isay Weinfeld designed it to maximize the use of greenery in our concrete jungle (which is also the visual reference of its concrete boxy exterior).  An interior garden, the roof top and its terraces will all be overflowing with trees, plants and hanging, lush greenery.  Its interiors are defined by simplicity and warmth, two attributes that rarely come together in such a complementary way.  Amenities include a stunning indoor pool, a spa-like fitness center with a steam-room and sauna, a children’s playroom, and automated parking.  All of this comes at an attractive, accessible price-point as a contrast to the ultra-luxury new development inventory that has dominated the market for the past several years.  If you’re in the market to buy, Jardim will be well worth a look.