By Colin O'Leary
February 22nd, 2022
The average price of a home in the U.S. soared by 18.8% in 2021, according to a report from the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller National Home Price Index. The S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller National Home Price Index tracks average home prices in major metropolitan areas across the country. The yearly increase in home prices was the highest since the index began tracking home prices in 1987. Data over at Zillow shows similar numbers. The Zillow Home Value Index tracks home values in the United States. Zillow says the typical value of a home in the United States is currently around $325,000, an increase of 19.9% year over year. Zillow is bullish on the real estate market for 2022. They are predicting home values to climb towards $380,000 by the end of the year.
Last year was one of the busiest in recent history for home sales in the U.S. The total number of homes sold in the United States climbed to a 15-year high in 2021, according to the National Association of Realtors. Existing home sales totaled 6.12 million – an increase of 8.5% from 2020 and the highest annual level since 2006. This figure does not include new construction. Low inventory and fierce demand from first time home buyers and investors led to a record year for the housing market. Sparked by the global covid-19 pandemic, buyers took advantage of record low interest rates in search of larger spaces where they could work from home in one of the busiest years since the U.S. recession in 2008.
First time homebuyers continue to struggle to compete against cash buyers and investors in a market faced with rising interest rates and record low inventory. The shortage of homes has sparked many bidding wars, pushing prices even higher than usual. The Phoenix Metropolitan area had the fastest home-price growth in the country, at 32.5%. The Tampa Bay Metropolitan area posted the second-fastest growth, at 29.4%.
By Colin O'Leary
January 4th, 2022
The Manhattan real estate market just had its best year ever in 2021. The news comes as a surprise to many as the city continues to deal with major issues such as the covid pandemic, population loss, and rising crime. The residential market rebounded quicker than most expected in 2021, with a record $30 billion in sales, according to a report from CNBC. Over 16,000 contracts were signed to purchase real estate in Manhattan in 2021, also a record.
The comeback has been driven largely by the luxury market. Apartments priced above $10 million are selling the fastest. Ultra-wealthy buyers are snapping up penthouses and large full-floor units in new buildings. Many purchasers are snapping up second homes as pieds-a-terre or investment property. A large percentage of the sales recorded were all-cash deals. New development inventory is finally shrinking in the borough after years of surplus inventory from overdevelopment. Prices are returning to pre-pandemic levels.
The market is not showing any signs of slowing down at the moment. An impressive $6.7 billion in sales were recorded in the final quarter of 2021. The average price for an apartment in Manhattan is now $1.95 million, according to the report. The median price of a home in Manhattan jumped 11% year-over-year in the fourth quarter. With rising inflation, supply chain issues, and likely interest rate hikes on the horizon, it will be interesting to see how the residential market plays out in 2022.
By Colin R. O'Leary
December 27th, 2021
When it comes to selling real estate, most sellers expect the same things. They expect great customer service. They expect honesty & integrity from the professionals they hire. They expect the home selling process to run efficiently without any drama. They expect their home to sell fast and for top dollar. These are all reasonable things.
Selling real estate is not exactly rocket science but it can be complicated though, especially if it's your first time trying to sell a home. Selling a home is not the same as buying a home. Selling real estate is a high stakes game. It's often one of the most important financial decisions that a person makes in life. There are certain things you should know before you list your home to help you avoid mishaps and maximize your results. The key is to educate yourself as much as possible before you begin the process. If you do this it can help you save valuable time, money, and energy. It can help you make informed decisions in the home selling process.
Real estate transactions are not all the same. They are all similar though. It's not always about what to do, but also about what not to do. If you make the wrong decisions it can end up costing you. On the other hand, if you make the right decisions, it can help you maximize your results. I've put together a list of a few things you need to know before selling your home.
Hiring The Right Professionals
Hiring the right agent to help you sell your home is a critical step in the home selling process. This is important because if you hire the wrong agent, it can make the process more difficult than it has to be. The truth is that not all real estate professionals are equal. The barrier to entry is relatively low in the real estate industry. Anyone can obtain a real estate license within a short period of time. The costs of getting in the business are relatively low. The scale of experience in the industry varies greatly for these reasons. There are a lot of amateurs in the real estate business. If you hire the wrong agent, it can cost you big time. Not just with money, but also with your precious time.
The good thing is that there are a lot of experienced agents in every market. These agents are highly competent & professional in the way they do business. They know exactly what they are doing and can make the home selling process seem easy for you. Most importantly, they know how to get your home sold fast and for top dollar. Hiring the right agent is a critical step in the home selling process. There are a few basic questions that you want to ask the agents you are interviewing to sell your home. Find out how long they have been in the real estate business and how many homes they have sold. Ask them to provide you with reviews from their past seller clients.
When it comes time to sell your home you will also need to hire additional professionals. In some states you will be required to hire a real estate attorney to help you handle the contract. Like choosing the right real estate agent, choosing the right real estate attorney is an important step in the process. Your attorney will be there to help answer the important legal questions you have about selling your home. It's always a good idea to speak with a few attorneys before you choose one. Make sure to choose an attorney that specializes in real estate law and not something else. It's important to choose an attorney with great customer service.
There are other professionals you may need to hire when selling your home. For example, you will likely need to hire a moving company. You may need to hire a handyman to help you prepare the home to be sold. Choosing the right professionals when selling your home can save you a lot of time and energy. Make sure that the professionals you hire have great customer service at the minimum. You will be working closely together for weeks or months or until your home is sold.
Marketing Your Home
Marketing your home, the right way is critical in order to maximize the results when selling your home. The way you market your home for sale can mean the difference between a sale and an expired listing. When it comes to marketing your home, more is always better. Why do I say this? Because more marketing means more buyers. And more buyers mean more offers. And more offers mean a higher selling price. And a higher selling price means more money in your pocket at the closing. Get the point?
The agent you choose to sell your home with should have a comprehensive marketing strategy. The marketing should be of high quality, or you shouldn't hire them. Ask your agent to provide you with marketing examples of homes they have currently listed or have sold in the past. Do the listings look professional? How is the copy or description? Are the images professional? Or were they shot lazily with an iPhone camera? Does the firm provide a floor plan for their listings? Does the firm provide video marketing? What about showing brochures and just listed postcards? What kind of internet & social media presence does the agent and firm have?
One of the worst things you can do is hire a real estate agent with poor marketing skills. If you expect to receive the highest price possible, you will need to have the highest quality marketing available in your marketplace. Don't settle for average. Poor marketing can cause buyers to overlook your home. Poor marketing can result in fewer offers. Fewer offers can result in a lower sales price for your home.
The most important part of the home selling process is the pricing strategy. It's important to note that home prices are always fluctuating. Your agent will help you get a sense of where the market is when you are ready to list your home. They will do this by giving you a comparative market analysis. The comparative market analysis will show you all the recent activity in the market surrounding your home. It will show you comparable homes on the market that have gone into contract recently. It will show you homes that were listed and sold recently, usually within the past six months or less. The more recent the data the better when it comes to pricing your home correctly.
The first thing you want to consider as a seller is whether it's currently a buyer or seller's market. If it's a seller's market, you will have more leeway on the price because of the limited number of homes available. You should not have any issues if you price the home at fair market value or slightly above. You don't want to price the home too far above the current market value though because buyers are savvier than ever. They may avoid viewing your home altogether if it's overpriced even in a seller's market.
If it's a buyers' market, you will need to get the price right or your home may languish on the market for months or years. If you are in a hurry to sell, you want to avoid overpricing your home in a buyer's market. If you overprice your home in a buyer's market, it may sit on the market for months or years without any action, forcing to do price reductions to get it sold. If it's a buyer's market, it's best to price at fair market value or slightly below. The price you choose should depend upon your timetable. If you need to get the home sold ASAP in a buyers' market, then go for slightly below market value. If you are not in a rush to sell, then you can test the market out for the highest possible price.
When you sell real estate it's important to consider all the costs involved. Most homeowners are aware of typical fees like broker and attorney fees. Broker fees are typically the largest closing cost involved in selling a home. There are also other fees involved in the sale of a home that you should be aware of though such as attorney fees, transfer taxes, and title insurance fees.
Another cost you should be aware of is the capital gains tax. Although not a closing cost, it's another fee that you could be on the hook for when selling your property. The capital gains tax does not apply to primary residences, only investment properties that are sold. It's best to speak with an accountant to find out how much you may owe in capital gains tax after selling your property. If you are planning to purchase another property, it's possible to defer the capital gains by doing a "1031 Exchange" or property swap. This is a great way to defer taxes on your investment property by years or even decades.
By Colin O'Leary
December 21st, 2021
More and more people are working remotely, and Americans are on the move. It's a trend that will only continue into the rest of the decade. It's a trend that's led to an exodus of people in some markets, and a influx of people in others. Realtor.com recently released it's projections for the hottest housing markets in 2022. Below are the top 10 areas positioned for the most growth according to Realtor.com. The report mentions how these 10 markets all have strong local economies, vibrant cultures, and opportunities for outdoor recreation. The combination of these factors is attracting remote workers from all across the country. Home values are rising in these markets as a result where competition for homes has become fierce.
Salt Lake City in Utah topped the list for the housing market positioned for the highest growth in 2022. Realtor.com projects homes to rise 8.5% in value in Salt Lake City in 2022. Salt Lake City is a small city known for its low crime and great outdoor recreation opportunities. Interestingly, the top three housing markets are all in the west. Boise City in Idaho came in at number two, followed by Spokane-Spokane Valley in Washington state.
See the full report here
By Colin R. O'Leary
November 16th, 2021
Buying real estate in NYC for the first time can be a complicated process. It can be a frustrating one too. After all, you don't know what you don't know. It's a major financial decision that should not be taken lightly. The decisions you make will have long-lasting impacts on your future. Buying real estate doesn't have to be complicated or stressful though. The key is to educate yourself before starting the home buying process. If you do this you can save yourself precious time, money, and peace of mind.
The real estate market in NYC is always competitive in one way or another. There's a good chance you will be competing with more than one buyer for the same home. You will be competing with sellers & listing agents too, who will be trying to get the upper hand on you. This is why it's so important to educate yourself on the home buying process before you get started. Knowledge is power. I've put together a list of a few things that you want to know before starting your home search in NYC.
The first point here is obvious. You need to know where you want to live. A lot of buyers start the process without thinking this over though. They waste their time looking in neighborhoods that are not a good fit. It's best to figure what neighborhood you want to live in before you start your search. If you can't do this, at least try to narrow it down. This can help you save a lot of time. It's a big city after all. There are a lot of great boroughs in this city to consider. There are lot of great neighborhoods so it's not always easy settling on one. Make sure you choose wisely though. The neighborhood you choose will define you.
You have to figure out which neighborhood is best for you. There are a lot of awesome neighborhoods in this city to consider. You can get easily get distracted by the plethora of options available to you. There are always a new development somewhere luring people to different parts of the city. The neighborhood is more important than the building though. You want to live in a neighborhood that fits your lifestyle. Here's a simple suggestion to help you narrow down your home search - start by writing down a list of your top 10 neighborhoods. Then narrow your list down to the top three. Once you figure out what your top three neighborhoods are you can begin from there. You can always add one or two neighborhoods to the search later on. Here's another suggestion. Think about the pros and cons of each neighborhood on your list. Write the pros and cons down on a piece of paper. This will help crystalize you're thinking.
The type of property that you purchase is also something that you want to consider before you begin the home buying process. There are a lot of different types of homes here in NYC. There are single-family homes and there are multi-family homes. Some of these homes are fully attached. Some of these homes are fully detached or semi-detached. There are mixed-use buildings (retail on ground level & apartments above). There are high rise condo and co-op buildings. There are low rise condo and co-op buildings. There are prewar and postwar buildings. There's lots of brand-new construction. Believe it or not, there are even houseboats in the city.
The city also has income-restricted buildings that you might not be familiar with. For example, there are HDFC Cooperatives (which are income-restricted co-ops). There are Mitchell-Lama buildings (both income-restricted rentals & co-ops). The Mitchell-Lama program was a program created by the city decades ago to make homeownership affordable for the working class (teachers, firemen, police officers, etc.). The Mitchell-Lama buildings are also income-restricted. The main difference between the HDFC Cooperatives and the Mitchell-Lama buildings is that the Mitchell-Lama units can't be resold. There are a lot of choices when it comes to different property types in NYC. Take some time to think this over before you start the search. There may be more options than you realize.
It's best to speak with a qualified lender before you start the home buying process. This way you can figure out what your budget is. Also, how much you are pre-approved for in terms of the loan amount. Getting pre-approved only takes a few days. Your lender will ask you to complete an application and also for some basic financial information. Your lender will determine the loan amount you qualify for based on things like your personal assets and income. They will also help you figure out how much money you will need to put aside for the closing costs.
Also keep in mind interest rates are always changing. Generally speaking, when interest rates rise, the purchasing power of a buyer decreases. On the other hand, when interest rates decrease, the purchasing power of a buyer increases. A lot of banks will allow you to lock in a rate for a few months so that your rate will be protected if rates rise. The lender you choose to work with will play an instrumental role in the home buying process so make sure to choose wisely. They will be there to help with the important financing aspects of your home search from start to finish. For this reason, you want to hire a lender with excellent customer service skills.
It's important to speak to a lender before you start the home buying process. You don't want to waste your time looking at homes you can't afford. On the flip side, you might be surprised by the amount you qualify for. There are also a lot of programs available for first-time homebuyers you may not be aware of. There are all kinds of loans, grants, and programs available so it's worth looking into. Make sure to speak with a qualified lender before you start the home buying process. This way you will be prepared to take action on the home you fall in love with.
After you identify a home that you love, now it's time to start the negotiation process. This is a critical stage of the home buying process. Your actions here can result in either securing the home of your dreams or losing it to a more prepared buyer. The first thing to consider is the current state of the market. Is it a buyers market? If so you will have less competition for inventory. Is it a hot seller's market? If so you will likely be competing with multiple buyers over limited inventory. Sometimes the market is more neutral. Whatever the current situation is, you want to be prepared either way.
If it's a buyer's market, you will typically have more leverage over the seller in the negotiating process. In a buyers' market, there is less competition and more inventory. When considering an offer in a buyer's market, it's important to look at recent sales of comparable homes in the area. Make sure the sales you are looking at are recent. If it's past six months, the data is no longer relevant. The more recent the sale the better (and more accurate). Make sure you are looking at sales of similar homes too. Don't try to compare condo sales to co-op sales. Don't try to compare single-family home sales to multi-family home sales. Don't try to compare new construction sales to prewar sales. The recent comparable sales will help you make an informed decision when it comes time to make an offer. You will know exactly how much similar homes are selling for in the area so it will take out the guesswork when it comes time to make an offer.
You never want to overpay for a home in a buyer's market where there is lots of inventory. You want to secure the home at the best possible price. On the other hand, if it's a hot seller's market, you will have less leverage over the negotiating process. There will be more competition and less inventory to choose from. If it's a seller's market, in addition to recent sales of comparable homes, you want to look at in-contract listings. This will give you a better idea of how to bid. You may have to contact listing agents to find out this information because the sale price won't be made public until after the closing.
In a hot seller's market, it's not uncommon for homes to sell above the asking price. Make sure to consider that when it comes time to submit an offer. No one likes to pay above the asking price for a home, however, in a seller's market, it may be the only way to secure a home. Just make sure that it's something you are comfortable with financially. If not, then it might be better to wait until market conditions favor buyers more.
Now that you secured a deal for that dream home, it's time to get to work on the contract process. It's a good idea to start familiarizing yourself with the contract process before you start the home buying process. There are certain terms you want to start familiarizing yourself with - such as contract contingencies, inspections, surveys, and appraisals. In New York State, both the buyer & seller are required to hire an attorney in the sale of a home. When you are ready to buy a home it's important to hire an attorney who specializes in real estate law. The seller's attorney typically drafts the purchase agreement. The buyer's attorney helps the purchaser review the contract and make any necessary changes.
Once the contract has been reviewed and approved by the purchaser, the purchaser will sign the contract and submit it to the seller's attorney along with the contract deposit. The contract deposit will be held in an escrow account by the seller's attorney. Once the seller signs the contract, you will have what we call a "fully executed contract." This means the listing is no longer active on the market because is "in-contract." This also means the seller can no longer entertain offers for the home, even if the offer is at a higher price than what you offered. For this reason, once you find a home you should move quickly to have the contract fully executed.
When buying a home, it's important to consider all the costs involved before getting started. This way there will be no surprises. Buying a home is one of the largest purchases that a person ever makes. There are a lot of fees you may not be aware of. The biggest closing cost involved in purchasing a home is typically the down payment. The down payment can be anywhere from 0-50 %, or more. The VA loan is currently the only loan available with no down payment. There are some loans available with a down payment of less than 5%, such as the FHA loans. A conventional loan typically requires a down payment of 10% or more. If you are getting a loan for an investment property, you're probably going to need to come up with closer to 20-30% of the purchase price for the down payment. The contract deposit, or the money a buyer puts down to secure the contract, is part of the down payment. You typically don't need to put down the entire down payment at contract signing. For example, if your total down payment was 30%, you can put down 10% at contract signing, and pay the remaining 20% at the closing.
Other closing costs to consider are attorney and lender fees. Attorneys typically charge a flat-rate fee. Lenders often charge application fees, origination fees, and a fee known as "points" which is a fee calculated on the loan amount. There may be fees from the title company as well. Real estate agents are typically paid by the seller so it's not a typical closing cost for a buyer. However, in some situations, buyers do pay brokerage fees. Also, if you are buying a home in NYC worth over $1 million, there is an additional tax at closing known as a "mansion tax." The mansion tax is a percentage of the sale price. For example, the mansion tax for a home purchased between $1,000,000 to $1,999,000 is 1%. The mansion tax for a home purchased between $2,000,000 to $2,999,000 is 1.25%. Make sure you are prepared in advance for all the closing costs so there is nothing unexpected.
By Colin R. O'Leary
October 18th, 2021
It's more than just a concrete jungle. NYC is a truly unique place to live and work. You can find whatever you are looking for here. The people, the history, the nightlife, the rich cultural traditions. The endless activities and fun. The job and career opportunities. The historic skyscrapers and beautiful architecture. There's so much to offer here. There really is no place like New York!
New York is still the gateway to the United States for many immigrants. The neighborhoods and the boroughs represent all the peoples of the world. People still come here from all over the world (and country) to make a better life for themselves. They come here to seek freedom. They come here to seek opportunity. They come here to reinvent themselves. According to the latest census, nearly forty percent of the NYC's population is foreign-born. These immigrants bring culture and traditions with them. The culture gets passed down from generation to generation.
NYC is also a massive city population-wise. It's still the largest city in the United States, by far. To put things in perspective, nearly 9 million people live here according to the 2020 census. The population in Brooklyn alone is larger than nearly every major city in the United States (over 2.7 million people live in Brooklyn now). Queens has a similar size population now at over 2.4 million people. The NYC Metropolitan area has over 20 million people altogether. Lots of people commute here for work every day too. We call them the bridge and tunnel crowd. They come from places like Long Island, New Jersey, Westchester, and Connecticut. Together, all of these people make up our vibrant city.
If you are planning to move to NYC, there's a lot that you will need to learn. We've put together a small list of things that will help prepare you for life in The Big City. Now lets get started!
1. Know that NYC Does Not Really Exist
Know that NYC does not really exist. What really exists are five separate boroughs. Each borough is unique, almost like a city of its own. They were all independent cities at one point before they merging to create The City Of New York in the late 1800s. You have Manhattan (New York County) and you have Brooklyn (Kings County), You have Queens County and you have Staten Island (Richmond County). Don't forget about The Bronx too, which at one time was part of Westchester County. Each borough has its own flavor, its own style. Each borough has its own history and traditions. All the boroughs are ethnically diverse. They are not just ethically diverse, they also geologically diverse. You have urban neighborhoods with brownstones and skyscrapers, you have suburban neighborhoods with fully detached homes, and you have beachfront communities overlooking the Atlantic Ocean and Long Island Sound.
2. Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island, and The Bronx are not really part of "The City"
If you move to NYC, don't make the rookie mistake of calling Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island, or The Bronx "the city." This is an amateur move that you should look to avoid. When locals say they are planning to go to "the city," understand this means they are going to Manhattan. Locals don't consider Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island, or The Bronx (the outer boroughs) as part of "the city," although it is technically. Make sure you don't ask your friends to meet up with you in "the city" if you are going out for the night in one of the outer boroughs. If you do you may raise some eyebrows with your new friends.
3. Everything Here is Double the Price and Smaller Too
One thing that you will realize once you move here is that everything is double the price and smaller. You will need to pay a premium to live here. The apartments are double the price, maybe even triple the price compared to the town you are moving from. For example, the average one-bedroom apartment in Manhattan is over $3,000 per month. It's not much better in Brooklyn or Queens, where people are paying around $2,500 on average for an apartment. Looking for cheaper rent? Head to The Bronx or Staten Island. The apartments are not just double the price in NYC, but they are also smaller in size. This is not Texas after all. NYC is the opposite - everything is smaller here! Food is more expensive here too. Go to any grocery store - you will find everything is nearly double the price. Go to a restaurant - again everything is double the price. It's not all bad though. You will have access to world-class restaurants, museums, parks, and all kinds of cultural attractions. Just be prepared because everything is double the price and smaller in NYC!
4. It Takes Two Hours To Go Ten Miles
One thing you will quickly notice about NYC is the gridlock traffic. Sometimes it can take you two hours to go ten miles so make sure you plan ahead. Traffic was always bad here. The recent covid-19 pandemic only made things worse. The Department of Motor Vehicle has been busy lately here. There are hundreds of thousands of new cars on the road - many are first-time drivers. Many people are still afraid to take mass transit. You shouldn't be though. The trains, subways, and busses have never been this empty - or clean. You can get around fast on the subway here. Taking cabs is often slower and much more expensive. It's great to have a car here if you can afford it. It's not necessary though because public transportation is great here. Just remember it can take you two hours to go ten miles!
5. The Best of Both Worlds
It's not just skyscrapers here. It's not just brownstones either. There are plenty of awesome green spaces for you to explore. New York City has some truly awesome parks and beaches. There are awesome new parks that were constructed on piers along the Hudson & East River. Each borough has something different to offer. Do you want to go to the beach? How about surfing or jet skiing? Head to Rockaway Beach. Do you want to have a picnic with your friends? Head to Central Park or Prospect Park or Governors Island. Keep in mind all of the activities that are just a few hours away by car. Within a short car drive or train ride, you can find awesome hiking trails at places such as Bear Mountain or Breakneck Ridge. Want to hit the slopes to ski or snowboard? There are plenty of great mountains within a few hours of the city. We also have four seasons of different weather so make sure to prepare for that. When you live in NYC, you get the best of both worlds. Make sure to take advantage of all this city has to offer!
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