Category Archives: Selling tips

Harlem townhouse August market report

In the month of August the Central Harlem,Hamilton Heights market was quiet with only 4 new listings coming to the market.

Among the 4 new listings, there is an SRO sold without the certificate of no harassment for $2.1 million looking for cash buyers according to the listing which is the least expensive listing. Also listed this month is a home at 210 W 122nd street which appears to be renovated though the DOB records indicate SRO as well asking $3.995 million. Rounding out the new listings are an 8 unit for sale near Fifth avenue and a 3 family with side yard at 517 W 152nd street which was listed previously.

On the sale side(see table below), there were 5 sales and some properties went to contract or were removed from the market which resulted in a decrease of inventory from 82 available listings in July to 70 in August. This led to a corresponding decrease in inventory levels to only 14 months from 21 months in July.

Sold properties for August
Sale Price # Units
160 W 130 ST $2,400,000 8
37 W 126 ST $2,544,000 4
127 W 120 ST $3,451,000 3
106 W 120 ST $3,375,000 3
17 W 120 ST $3,750,000 6
# Active listings Inventory (months)
70 14
<$2mm 5
$2mm-$2.99mm 33
$3mm-$3.99 mm 25
$4mm + 8

July Harlem townhouse report

June Harlem townhouse report

The Author-  Brian Silvestry , a licensed real estate broker, has been selling residential and commercial real estate since 1999. He has sold in every neighborhood from Battery Park City to Washington Heights.

How to pick a real estate attorney

Let’s assume you are doing a residential purchase or sale and need a Manhattan real estate attorney to represent you. How do you find one and what should your criteria be? Let’s take a simplified look at what they do first to assist the process.

On a purchase, your attorney will review the proposed contract and examine the financial information of the co-op or condo building which might entail going to the building to read the minutes of the Board meetings. If there is some project coming up or a noisy neighbor that is wrecking havoc,  it might show up in these minutes.  Your attorney will meet you to sign the contract and fedex/messenger the contract and deposit check to the seller side. After that, assuming it’s not a complicated transaction that will be about it until you go to closing and then he will reconcile the numbers at the closing table and provide you with a closing statement.

On a sale of a Manhattan co-op/condo, the attorney or assistant will prepare the NYS contracts, then will negotiate any changes proposed by the buyer side. You will meet your attorney once the buyer signs and counter sign the contract. If there are issues with the mortgage or closing, the attorney will intercede and if not your attorney will attend the closing and reconcile the numbers with the other side.

Attorneys charge generally as low as $2000 for this transaction and generally an average fee is closer to $3000 or more.

The easiest way to find a good real estate attorney is to ask a friend, family member or your real estate broker for the name of someone that they have used and had a good experience.

You want to make sure that any attorney you use specializes in real estate so that you have a true expert on your side. Sometimes your family attorney also “does” real estate transactions but if there is an issue along the way, experience in doing many transactions may be an asset that you are happy that they have or may hurt you if they do not. So choose someone with experience.

Find out if there is an assistant or someone that you can speak to in case you need a quick question answered. If your attorney spends all day in court and is unreachable by phone/email, it may add stress unnecessarily to the process. Most attorneys will have staff and in some cases they will be able to answer your questions.

Lastly, while you might be recommended to a big name law firm, ask who will be the one handling your transaction. A big name firm that delegates you to a junior attorney or paralegal may not be the wisest choice. Much in the same way, a big name real estate brokerage that passes you off to the 3rd assistant may also leave you feeling that you are not receiving the service you expect.

So while the description I have given of what an attorney is very simple, it is not easy and you never what bumps you will hit on the way so it’s always best to have an expert on your side. To find the right person may take a little bit of research.

The Author-  Brian Silvestry , a licensed real estate broker, has been selling residential and commercial real estate since 1999. He has sold in every Manhattan market from Battery Park City to Washington Heights.

How long does it take to go from contract to closing for a Manhattan property

Once you have an accepted offer, the contract review process begins. In an ideal world, this will take about a week but can often take longer, as the lawyers haggle over details of the contract like as is versus working condition or closing dates or what happens if there is a title issue…Once the contract is signed by the buyer and the deposit (normally 10% of the purchase price) is sent to the seller’s attorney, the seller can sign the contract.

At that point, the buyer will give their documents to their lender for their loan application. Within about a month, the buyer will have a loan commitment and from there the bank can be ready in about another month or so to close the transaction.

If this is a condo or co-op in Manhattan, there will be Board application to be submitted and reviewed first by management and then the Board. In the case of a condo, they grant a waiver of the right of first refusal which is the Building’s right to buy an apartment if they so choose. If it’s a co-op then they will review the application and first decide to interview or not, then interview and give an approval or rejection. This can add another 1-2 months total to the process.

Lastly, the lawyers will set the scheduled date for closing when all parties are available. From contract to closing, can average about 3 months, less if a cash transaction and more in the case of co-op.

The Author-  Brian Silvestry , a licensed real estate broker, has been selling residential and commercial real estate since 1999. He has sold in every neighborhood from Battery Park City to Washington Heights.

When should you adjust the price of your Manhattan property?

So you list your Manhattan property and are imagining bidding wars and cash offers. What happens if you do not receive offers or have a dearth of showings? At what point do you adjust your price and how much do you adjust? Normally, within the first month you like to see showings and perhaps an offer, this is the best time to capture someone off the initial marketing/interest. If however, you have very few showings, an adjustment might be needed. But how much?

Often times, I will see price adjustments of $20,000 on a $3 million property or $100k on and $8 million property. These types of adjustments will not move the needle at all. Generally speaking analyze the data of showings of your property with your real estate broker and compare it with traffic of recently sold and comparable listings that are for sale and you can see how far off you are on your pricing. If you are getting showings but no offers what that means is the market is willing to come see your property but not offer on it. In this case 7-8% might be enough. However a total lack of showings and a declining market are a bad combination. If that is the case an adjustment of 10% or more depending on what the competing properties are offering. Communication is very important here with your real estate broker. I use a project management site to communicate directly with my clients so that if they want to know about showings and feedback from buyers in real time they can receive these updates directly in their email box or on their phones. You need to get that feedback to understand what the buyer market mindset is.

Recently, on a Battery Park City listing that I had,  we had to reduce it twice from $1.5 million to $1.35 to eventually $1.2 million. That was due to an extreme case where the common charges and taxes were unusually high.  In this case, two very strong negatives were dragging the price down but thankful the seller adjusted and was able to get a buyer before the market headed down even more which it did especially in that neighborhood.

So as far as price adjustments, be aggressive with them especially if after the first month you are getting zero or a very low amount of showings. Be less aggressive when you are getting showings but no offers. And adjust your expectations when the market is heading down and there is more inventory coming to market to compete with your property.

The Author-  Brian Silvestry , a licensed real estate broker, has been selling residential and commercial real estate since 1999. He has sold in every Manhattan market from Battery Park City to Washington Heights.

How to minimize the taxes on the sale of your Manhattan property

One of the easiest way to save money on the sale of your Manhattan investment property is to do a 1031 exchange also known as a like kind exchange. The gist is you sell an investment property, and purchase a property of similar value. The property must close within 6 months of the sale of the first property and you need to identify it within 45 days of the closing of the sale.

Let’s take a look at an example.

You have an investment condo worth $2 million that you have owned for 20 years that you bought for $500,000. Instead of paying tax on the profit, you buy another property worth $2 million and roll over the gain. The purchase can be another condo, multi-family, vacant land etc… When you close the sale of the condo, you have 45 days to identify potential purchases and 6 months to close or you lose the opportunity to do the 1031 exchange. Speak to your CPA and attorney for details on how to execute this process. But once you execute the purchase, you trade one property for the other and have deferred the taxes. With the typical Manhattan condo investment property returning 2-3%, you can probably buy another property either in New York or another statement that will return two to three times the net cash flow. In addition, if you have owned an asset for a number of years, it is likely you have depreciated it possibly even to the max. By starting over, you can begin depreciating anew. Again, speak to your CPA.

Keep in mind that a 1031 exchange is not for your primary residence but rather a property that you have rented it as an investment with one exception. The 1031 exchange can be used for your primary residence if you own a townhouse where you live it but rent other apartments. So in the case of a 3 family, your primary residence is the unit you live in and if you rent the other two units, the 1031 exchange can be applied to the rental portion of the building.

The Author-  Brian Silvestry , a licensed real estate broker, has been selling residential and commercial real estate since 1999. He has sold in every Manhattan market from Battery Park City to Washington Heights.

Thinking of selling your Manhattan property-Should you paint?

If you are going to be selling your Manhattan property and it’s been a number of years since you painted, and/or you had chosen a dark color, a paint job can really help to spruce things up. Choosing a light color like a designer white can help to brighten up a room or rooms and help to bring out the spaciousness of your offering. If you live in a building, it might be more frugal to have one of the handymen or super do it on his off time. But you will probably see a more favorable reaction from potential buyers with a fresh coat of paint.

Should you stage your apartment?

The Author-  Brian Silvestry , a licensed real estate broker, has been selling residential and commercial real estate since 1999. He has sold in every neighborhood from Battery Park City to Washington Heights.

Thinking of selling your Manhattan SRO-apply for CNH now

If you are thinking about selling your Manhattan single room occupancy(SRO), now is the time to apply for the certificate of no harassment. Changes are coming starting to the application process,in September. Suffice is to say that the City is expanding the program to encompass areas where tenants are susceptible to harassment in rapidly gentrifying areas like West Harlem, East Harlem and several parts of the Bronx. The new program will have a 5 year look back and will not just be for SROs but will include as well properties with a history of proven harassment as well as an expanded set of buildings in the pilot areas.

Continue reading Thinking of selling your Manhattan SRO-apply for CNH now

Thinking of selling your Manhattan property-Choosing a broker

I think when you are choosing a broker to sell your Manhattan apartment, it comes to 5 questions that you need to answered.

1- How long have you been working in real estate?

2- Do you work by yourself or in a team?

3- What experience have you had in my building or nabe?

4- What is your marketing plan to sell my apartment?

5- How did you arrive at your proposed listing price?

Continue reading Thinking of selling your Manhattan property-Choosing a broker

Park West Village on Manhattan’s Upper west side inventory low

Here is the update on the market conditions in Park West Village, the 4 building condo complex that runs from West 97th street to West 100th street between Columbus and Central Park west. Inventory is low with each building having no more than 3 units available for sale. Considering that each building has over 400 units, that’s a minuscule amount of inventory available. Interestingly, there are no 2 bedroom/2bathroom apartments available right now in the Upper West side complex.

The table below shows the number of active listings, contracts signed this year that have not closed and closed sale since the beginning of the year.

 

Building # listings contracts sold
400 3 1 3
392 2 1 3
382 3 4 3
372 2 1 5

 

The Author-  Brian Silvestry , a licensed real estate broker, has been selling residential and commercial real estate since 1999. He has sold in every neighborhood from Battery Park City to Washington Heights.

Manhattan closing costs for buyers and sellers

Here is a look at the closing costs for buyers and sellers of Manhattan real estate.

For the Seller:

Coops,Condos,residential 1-4 family
Brokerage Commission negotiable typically 6%
NYC Transfer tax:
1% of price for purchases up to $500,000
1.425% of price for purchases over $500,000
NYS Transfer tax
$2 per $500.00 of sales price
Attorney fee $1500 and up
Flip tax (depends on building) 0-5% COOPS*** Continue reading Manhattan closing costs for buyers and sellers