Date Archives: February 2015

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Bronxville, NY | 3 Posts
Buy a House | 5 Posts
Homeowners | 19 Posts
Sell a Home | 14 Posts
Tarrytown, NY | 2 Posts
Uncategorized | 24 Posts
Yonkers, NY | 1 Posts
February
6

HOME PURCHASE RELATED SITES

American Society of Home Inspectors

EPA's Mold Resource Site

US Census Bureau Information

Megan's Law (Sex Offender) Registry
1-800-262-3257

State of New York Banking Department Interest Rate Information

Consumer Loan Information, HSH Associates, Financial Publishers
(loan rates, calculators, mortgage stats, etc.)

SCHOOL INFORMATION

New York State Education Department

School Reports

NY State School "Report Cards"

National Center for Education Statistics

TRAVEL & TRANSPORTATION

Metro-North Railroad

Westchester Beeline Bus System

New York State Thruway System (maps, traffic cams, etc.)

Airport Information:

Kennedy, LaGuardia, Newark
Westchester

NYS Department of Motor Vehicles

LIVING IN WESTCHESTER

Statistical Data for every U.S. City

The Journal News
(local newspaper for Westchester, Putnam and Rockland Counties)

Westchester County Government
(including parks & recreation, health department, taxation, etc.)

Westchester Library System

Living in Westchester (general information, education, community services, etc.)

Historic River Towns of Westchester County

Hudson Valley Historic Properties

Westchester County Office of Tourism

Local Telephone Service (set up new service) (Verizon)
914-890-1550

Utilities (electric & gas)

Con Edison
1-800-752-6633

NY State Electric & Gas
1-800-572-1111

School Tax Relief Program (STAR)

Westchester Volunteer Center of United Way

NEW YORK STATE INFORMATION

New York State County Web Sites

New York State Citizen's Guide
(government, education, licenses, housing, taxes, consumer information, etc.)

New York State Parks

New York State Public Service Commission

NY State Department of Taxation & Finance

NY State Official Tourism Site

February
6

International Real Estate

Managed by a designated Certified International Property Specialist (CIPS), Bronxville Real Estate is equipped to navigate international real estate transactions.

If you are thinking of investing US Dollars abroad or spending foreign currency here, we can help you with commercial, residential or vacation properties.

Global economic conditions influence currency exchange rates and effect international buying power. Find today's exchange rates here.

Click here to view an up to date currency converter! 

February
6

Financial Calculators

Real Estate
Biweekly Mortgage Calculation - How much would your loan cost if you made payments every two weeks?
Canadian Mortgage Payment Table - Canadian mortgage calculator based on Canadian mortgage calculations.
How Much House Can You Afford? - You supply your income information and we calculate how much you can afford.
Mortgage Calculator - Find out how much that new home will cost!
Mortgage Payment Table Calculator - See how much a home loan will cost with varying interest rates and payments on the same chart!
Mortgage Qualification Calculator - See what lenders expect your minimum annual income to be in order to afford your next home.
Prepayment Mortgage Reduction - This form allows you to see how prepaying your mortgage reduces the length of your mortgage by putting in the current values for your loan.

Auto
Car Lease Calculator - How much will your payments be if you lease your next car?

Schooling
Tuition Savings Calculator - See how much you need to contribute each year in order to put your children through college.

Financial Planning
APR/Front End Cost Calculator - Calculates the upfront costs of the loan.
APR/Front End Cost Calculator - You give the upfront costs and it finds the actual Annual Percentage Rate.
Compound Interest Rate Calculation - This calculator simply takes the final amount you want to earn given an initial investment for a duration of time, and finds the required annual yield you would need to achieve that goal.
Deferred Payment Calculator - What will your monthly payment be if you defer a loan?
Future Value/Annuity Calculation - How much money do you need to save now to have what you want when you retire?
How Long Will It Last? - Loan Calculatorr - Here is a new twist on the mortgage calculator. Here you tell how much you want to spend each month, an interest rate and a loan amount, and the computer tells you how long it will take you to pay it off!
How Much to Retire - Here is a new simple retirement calculator. It tells how much you will need to provide a certain income for a set number of years.
Loan Payment Calculator - Enter the values and we will tell you the payment. The loan can be a mortgage, car loan, or any other simple interest amortization over a fixed time with fixed monthly payments.
Nominal and Effective Interest Rates - Calculate what rates are necessary to achieve a desired future value amount given a present value amount and the time period over which to compound your investment.
Prepayment vs. Investment -- A Scenario - This form allows you to compare what would happen if you took one of two choices with some extra cash you have -- prepaying your mortgage each month, or investing it instead.
Savings Calculator - This doesn't deal with inflation, taxes or any of that complicated stuff. This is just a simple calculator that lets you start with an amount of money and make regular monthly deposits, and see how much it grows. 

February
6

Short Sales:
(sometimes lenders use the term "upside down")

In general terms, a short sale is when the proceeds of a proposed sale of property are insufficient to pay off the loan(s) in full and the lender(s) agrees to accept less than the full loan repayment to release its secured lien against the property. The loan may be delinquent, in process of default or in imminent default when the lender agrees to a short sale.

In order for a lender to consider allowing a short sale, a homeowner will have to be able to document hardship and an inability to pay the difference between the mortgaged amount and the sale price. If the homeowner has other assets (i.e. bank or retirement accounts) or a high-income job with potential for high earnings down the road, a lender may not agree to accept a short sale, or may agree now but with a promissory note to repay the deficiency at a later date. A short sale can be a complicated process, so it is typically undertaken when a homeowner still has a relatively good credit rating worth preserving, but without the assets to pay off the loan balance. 

Homeowners considering applying to their lender for a short sale should consult an attorney and an accountant for professional advice regarding the implications, especially as the laws and rules may change regarding any tax implications for the homeowner in connection with a short sale. 

In addition to an attorney and an accountant, a real estate agent well-versed in the short sale process can be a valuable asset in negotiating with a lender regarding a short sale. Each lender's requirements vary, but most will require an extensive "short sale package" be submitted for their consideration. Some of the items in this package may include, but are not limited to: a net proceeds statement showing all related closing costs and the projected shortfall amount, a broker's price opinion to establish value or a current offer to purchase, the real estate agent's commission request, a financial hardship letter from the homeowner, and myriad financial documents from the homeowner including pay stubs, bank statements and tax returns. One of the key components of a short sale negotiation can be convincing the lender that allowing the short sale will net them a larger sum than if the property were to proceed to foreclosure and would then need to be marketed and sold. A knowledgeable Realtor can assist a homeowner in compiling and submitting this package, and with the homeowner's written consent, may also represent the homeowner in negotiations with the lender. 

In order to begin the short sale process, a homeowner will typically need to contact the lender's loss mitigation or workout department, rather than customer service or the collection department. Approval times can vary, from a couple of weeks to a couple of months, with the usual being 6 - 12 weeks. At that time, the lender can approve or deny the short sale, so both seller and prospective buyer need to understand the wait period, and that without the lender's approval, there can be no sale. 

If there are multiple lenders involved (i.e. a first mortgage & a second mortgage or a home equity line of credit that has been accessed), then approval may be required from more than one lender for a short sale to be completed. If any of the loans has been securitized (sold to a third-party or covered by private mortgage insurance), then approval may be needed from that entity as well. This can become very complicated, and sometimes the first place lien holder has little or no motivation to approve a short sale if they will be covered in getting their money repaid, whereas the second place lien holder might be left in the cold, with or without a short sale. A Realtor's skill and experience in negotiating these types of situations can be a tremendous benefit to the homeowner facing a short sale situation.

Some of the deterrents and impediments to a short sale may include the extensive paperwork that's required, determining that it's an "arm's length" transaction (i.e. the seller isn't selling to a relative at a bargain-basement price at the bank's expense), assuring the lender that the prospective purchaser can obtain financing for the deal, assessing the short sale proceeds versus the proceeds from a foreclosure sale, obtaining approval from all parties involved, and getting the right people involved from the beginning of the process.

As a homeowner, you should have a frank conversation up front with your Realtor if you feel you may have a potential short sale situation. Your real estate agent will have certain obligations to disclose this information to prospective buyers and other cooperating agents through the Multiple Listing Service. Banks, in agreeing to short sales, are asking the property's purchaser for indemnification and an acknowledgement that they are taking the house "as is". It is unlikely any bank will remedy any issues with the property in a short sale. 

Copyright 2014, Westchester Real Estate, Inc. 

February
6

Condominium Ownership

The owner of a condominium has a fee simple title (the same as for a single family home) and deed to the individual condo unit as well as an undivided interest in the common elements of the property such as the land, walls, hallways, roof, pool, clubhouse, etc. A prospectus or offering plan defines the common elements and describes the individual units. The condominium by-laws define the operating rules and establish procedures for an elected Board of Managers to oversee operation of the condominium. A monthly association fee is paid by the condo owners to cover the expenses of maintaining and operating the common elements (not tax deductible). Real estate taxes on the unit are assessed to and paid directly by the unit owner (tax deductible). Mortgage interest on any purchase loan is also paid directly by the unit owner (tax deductible). Generally, a condominium owner may sell or rent their unit as they wish. Condominium units exist in a variety of architectural styles, including buildings, attached, semi-attached and detached simplexes and duplexes.

Cooperative Ownership

In cooperative homeownership, the title to the land, building(s) and common elements is held by an apartment corporation. Unit owners purchase shares of stock in the corporation and obtain a proprietary lease for the unit and a stock certificate representing the number of shares owned (it is technically the purchase of "personal property" rather than "real property"). As stockholders, unit owners elect a Board of Directors to oversee administration of the building. The by-laws of a co-op typically give the Directors the right to approve/disapprove of prospective purchasers, in accordance with anti-discrimination laws, since all owners are financially vulnerable if other owners default. The by-laws may also limit a shareholder's ability to rent their unit because higher rental ratios can affect the tax status of the entire property (this can result in higher owner occupancy rates than condos). Unit owners pay monthly fees that cover maintenance and management costs, as well as the corporation's property taxes and the underlying mortgage on the building (the portion of the monthly fee that represents the property taxes and underlying mortgage interest is tax deductible for the unit owner). Even though co-ops are considered personal property, for income tax purposes, the IRS allows co-op owners to also deduct the interest on a co-op purchase loan. Values per square foot for co-ops are generally less than for condos and settlement costs are often lower. However, the purchase of a co-op often requires a higher down payment (as established by the co-op's by-laws or the lender) and the pool of potential lenders for a co-op loan may be smaller than for a condominium mortgage. 

February
6

Types of Lenders

You will likely have heard the terms "mortgage broker", "mortgage banker" and "lender" used interchangeably. However, there are distinct differences.

The "lender" is the entity that provides the money to the borrower at the closing, in exchange for a note evidencing the borrower's debt and obligation to repay, as well as a lien on the subject property.

A "mortgage broker" is not a lender, but rather a company or individual who offers the loan products of many lenders. A mortgage broker can counsel a borrower, take applications and process the loan, but cannot provide a commitment or approval of the loan; that must be provided by the actual bank or investor who is funding the loan.

"Mortgage bankers", on the other hand, are actual lenders. They can offer a wide range of mortgage programs that they usually fund on a short-term basis before selling them in the secondary mortgage market. A mortgage banker can originate, process, fund and occasionally service mortgage loans. Mortgage banks currently dominate the U.S. mortgage market by a large margin. Institutional banks, or "portfolio lenders", also fund mortgage loans, but are limited to offering only their own mortgage products, since they keep these loans in their own portfolio, rather than selling them in the secondary market. It is important to understand with whom you are dealing, and what products and services they can offer, as well as comparing costs and loan rates.

The benefits of obtaining a Loan Commitment in the home buying process:

Listed below is an explanation of the three basic types of approvals that most lenders provide. As you will see, a Loan Commitment is the most attractive form of approval for you to provide to a seller. Although there is a small fee, obtaining a Loan Commitment puts you in the best position to successfully bid on the purchase of your new home.

A "Pre-Qualification" means that you have spoken with a loan officer and the loan officer has qualified you, in writing, for a specified loan amount based on the verbal information you have provided regarding your income, assts and credit history. A credit history check is typically not completed. This is the "weakest" form of approval. Most real estate agents and sellers will not accept this form of qualification. Most lenders do not charge for a Pre-Qualification.

A "Loan Approval" is a written form of approval for a specified loan amount. In this case, the lender has taken a complete application and has completed a credit check and debt calculation. In most cases, the lender has utilized an automated approval system for your approval. This form of approval is more complete and acceptable to real estate agents and sellers because it is not simply a loan officer's opinion. However, a Loan Approval is based on verbal information and a credit check only. The approval is still subject to review and verification of income and/or assets.

A "Loan Commitment" is a written promise from a lender to provide a loan, up to a specified amount. The commitment means that a lender has completed your credit check as well as income and asset verification. In most cases, the commitment is only subject to an appraisal on the property and the review of a purchase contract. A Loan Commitment is typically valid for several months and can be extended. 

February
6

Disclaimer: Please keep in mind that this is not intended to be a comprehensive discussion of the home purchase process. It is intended to give the reader a general overview of the process, and to allow a prospective purchaser to plan ahead. Information contained herein should not take the place of the expert advice of professional advisors such as an attorney, a real estate agent, an engineer, a mortgage counselor, an accountant, and an insurance agent, all of whom you may have to consult with and rely upon in connection with your home purchase.

The Initial Home Search Process

Your agent(s) will show you suitable properties based on a discussion of your housing needs, priorities and affordability. Your agent(s) may work with you as a Buyer's Agent, Broker's Agent, or as a Sub-agent of the Seller; be sure to discuss these agency relationships with your agent(s) at your first substantive meeting as you will be required by law to sign an Agency Disclosure Agreement at that time. If financing will be required, it is recommended that you obtain mortgage pre-approval from a qualified lender prior to beginning your home search. A pre-approval letter will give your offer merit in the eyes of a seller, and may allow you to be more flexible if a quick closing is in both parties' best interest. You should also select an attorney at this time. It is recommended that you choose an attorney who is experienced in representing purchasers of real estate. If you don't have an attorney already for this purpose, your agent(s) can usually give you names of several highly regarded real estate attorneys that you can interview.

The Offer Process

Once you have found a home you wish to purchase, your agent will submit an offer on your behalf. Offers and counter-offers may be submitted verbally or in writing. The initial offer is usually submitted in writing (especially in a multiple-offer situation) as an "Offer to Purchase" prepared by your agent; subsequent counter-offers are often presented verbally. When you have reached an agreement with the seller on terms including purchase price, personal property to be included, projected closing date, conditions and contingencies (inspections, financing, etc.), you now have an Acceptable Offer (A.O.). Once an A.O. is reached, a written Memorandum of Agreement is usually drafted by the seller's agent, stating the terms of the agreement; copies are distributed to the seller, the seller's attorney, the buyer, the buyer's attorney, and both real estate agents. No earnest money deposit is exchanged at this time. The typical time frame from agreement to closing is approximately 60 days. Of course, many factors can affect this time frame, including specific needs of the buyer and/or seller.

From Agreement to Contract

After reaching an A.O., you (the buyer) are given a limited time period during which to conduct an engineer's inspection and other desired and/or required inspections (assuming that an inspection contingency is part of the agreed-upon offer). This period is usually 10 days or less. During this period, the seller has only a verbal, non-binding agreement to sell the property to the buyer; the seller, in the meantime, is free to listen to, negotiate, and/or accept other offers. It is, therefore, imperative that you (the buyer) conduct all inspections in good faith and in a timely fashion. A binding contract will generally not be written until after inspections have been completed.

Inspections

An inspection by an Engineer, Architect or a New York state licensed home inspector is strongly recommended for every home purchase. The purpose of an inspection is to identify the condition of the home and allow the buyer to make informed decisions. Even with newly constructed homes and with condominiums, it is possible that something could have been overlooked or poorly designed. An engineer's inspection will typically take 2-4 hours. If at all possible, you should plan to be there with the inspector during the inspection. This is an opportunity for you to learn a lot about your new home, ask questions of the engineer, and receive suggestions. Subsequent to the inspection, the engineer will provide you with a detailed written report covering his/her findings. Most mortgage lenders require a termite inspection and stipulate that it's to be done by a licensed termite inspector. Your engineer may or may not be licensed to do termite inspections; if not, you will need to hire a termite inspector. Other optional inspections you may wish to perform include a fuel oil tank test (for oil tanks buried in the ground), a radon test, a septic dye test (if applicable), a water potability test and water recovery test (for private wells), asbestos testing, and lead paint tests.

From Contract to Closing

Once inspections are completed and deemed satisfactory, the seller's attorney will draft a contract of sale and deliver it, along with the seller's title insurance policy and copy of any existing survey, to your (the purchaser's) attorney. You should review and discuss the contract with your attorney. If any changes are requested, the seller must agree to these changes. Signed contracts are then returned to the seller's attorney with a 10% contract deposit, also called a "down payment" (this down payment amount can be negotiable but is typically 10%). The contract deposit check is made payable to the seller's attorney who holds it in an escrow account until the closing. Once the contract is signed by the seller, your attorney will receive two fully executed copies of the contract, one of which will be given to you for submission with your mortgage loan application. Your completed mortgage loan application with all supporting documentation should be submitted to your chosen lender promptly upon receipt of the fully signed contracts. Your attorney will also provide you with an estimate of closing costs at this time.

Prior to closing, your attorney will arrange for a title search of the property. The title company will issue a title report certifying clear title, and a title insurance policy to protect the lender (required) and the buyer (optional) in the event a title problem arises in the future. The title company will also perform a property tax search and a violations search (required by the lender), and a survey inspection. If the existing survey is unacceptable, or if no survey exists, it is typically the buyer's responsibility to pay for a new survey.

Closing

Once all conditions of the contract have been satisfied, the closing date is scheduled. This involves getting together all parties including the seller, the seller's attorney, the buyer, the buyer's attorney, the lender's attorney, the title company representative, and usually one or both real estate agents. Once the closing is scheduled, calls should be made to confirm with your movers, to contact utility companies to transfer service accounts, to arrange for a homeowners insurance policy (proof of an insurance policy and paid receipt for one year's premium paid in advance must be brought to the closing), and to transfer any funds necessary for closing. Your attorney will advise you in advance as to the amount(s) of any certified checks required at closing. You will also be required to bring a supply of blank personal checks for assorted closing costs, as well as two forms of identification, one of which must be a photo I.D.

A final "walk-through" of the property is performed just prior to closing, usually within a few hours or not sooner than the previous day. This is scheduled with your real estate agent, or the seller's agent. The purpose of the walk-through is threefold: to confirm that no damage has been done to the home since the time of the engineering inspection; to confirm that the major systems and appliances are in working order; and to confirm that the home is "vacant and broom clean", as stipulated in every sales contract.

Questions
For additional information or clarification of any information provided herein, please consult one of the professionals identified in the disclaimer.

Copyright 2014, Westchester Real Estate, Inc. 

February
6

It's important to understand what legal responsibilities your real estate salesperson has to you and to other parties in the transactions. Ask your salesperson to explain what type of agency relationship you have with him or her and with the brokerage company.

1. Seller's agent (also known as a listing agent). A seller's agent is hired by and represents the seller. All fiduciary duties are owed to the seller, including reasonable care, undivided loyalty, confidentiality, full disclosure, obedience and a duty to account. Cooperating agents from the same office as the seller's agent, who are not representing the buyer as a buyer's agent, are also seller's agents. The agency relationship usually is created by a listing contract.

2. Broker's agent. A broker's agent cooperates with or is engaged by the seller's agent to help find a purchaser for a property. Broker's agency arises when a cooperating sales associate from another brokerage, who is not representing the buyer as a buyer's agent or operating in a non-agency relationship, shows property to a buyer. In such a case, the broker's agent works with the buyer as a customer, and in dealing with the buyer, should exercise reasonable skill and care, disclose all facts known to the agent materially affecting the value or desirability of the property except as otherwise provided by law, and deal honestly, fairly and in good faith. A broker's agent cannot assist the buyer in any way that would be detrimental to the seller. It is important that broker's agents fully explain their duties to buyers.

3. Buyer's agent. A real estate licensee who is hired by prospective buyers to represent them in a real estate transaction. The buyer's agent works in the buyer's best interest throughout the transaction and owes fiduciary duties to the buyer, the same as the seller's agent owes to the seller. The buyer can pay the licensee directly through a negotiated fee, or the buyer's agent may be paid by the seller or by a commission split with the listing broker.

4. Disclosed dual agent. Dual agency is a relationship in which the brokerage firm represents both the buyer and the seller in the same real estate transaction. Dual agency relationships do not carry with them all of the traditional fiduciary duties to the clients. Instead, dual agents owe limited fiduciary duties to both parties. Because of the potential for conflicts of interest in a dual-agency relationship, it's vital that all parties give their informed consent. In many states (including NY), this consent must be in writing. Disclosed dual agency, in which both the buyer and the seller are told that the agent is representing both of them, is legal in most states.

5. Designated agent (also called, among other things, appointed agency). This is a brokerage practice that allows the managing broker to designate which licensees in the brokerage will act as an agent of the seller and which will act as an agent of the buyer. Designated agency avoids the problem of creating a dual-agency relationship for licensees within the same company. The designated agents give their clients full representation, with all of the attendant fiduciary duties, with the exception of undivided loyalty. The broker still has the responsibility of supervising both groups of licensees, and remains as the dual agent.

6. Non-agency relationship (called, among other things, a transaction broker or facilitator). Some states permit a real estate licensee to have a type of non-agency relationship with a consumer (NY does not allow this). These relationships vary considerably from state to state, both as to the duties owed to the consumer and the name used to describe them. Very generally, the duties owed to the consumer in a non-agency relationship are less than the complete, traditional fiduciary duties of an agency relationship.

Reprinted in part from NYSAR and REALTOR Magazine Online by permission of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS. Copyright 2009. All rights reserved. 

February
6

Certificates of Occupancy

What is the Purpose of the Certificate of Occupancy?

A Certificate of Occupancy represents the municipality's assurance that a home is legally occupied and conforms to zoning and minimum repair and maintenance standards as of the date the Certificate of Occupancy was issued.

It normally ensures that: a) Plans were properly filed with the building department before construction occurred, or if construction was first undertaken, that the property owner satisfied the building department that the addition to the residence was performed in compliance with the law; b) Architectural drawings were filed and the building department determined whether there is compliance with setback requirements; c) if additional bedrooms or baths were added to a home with a septic system rather than a municipal waste system, Health Department approvals were obtained for the expansion of the premises and the septic system in its present design is adequate to serve the expanded needs of the premises; d) The plumbing and electrical inspectors have examined the premises to determine that all improvements were made in compliance with the Building Code regulations at the time the inspection; e) The Building Department certifies that the addition has been completed in accordance with all codes, rules and regulations and has been properly inspected.

Based upon the issuance of a Certificate of Occupancy, notification is given to the Office of the Assessor in the municipality in which the property is located to advise the Assessor that improvements have been made to the premises. These improvements could result in a change in assessed valuation and therefore, a change in the tax levies that are imposed upon the premises.

What is the Effect of Not Having A Certificate of Occupancy?

A purchaser of property which does not have a Certificate of Occupancy for all improvements may find: 1) the improvements do not comply with setback requirements and need to be moved or be made the subject of applications to the Zoning Board of Appeals for Variances; 2) the improvements may not have been made in accordance with the Building Code and may need to be upgraded; 3) the improvements may never be the subject of a Certificate of Occupancy without the expansion of septic fields which may or may not be able to be improved or expanded upon; 4) the property has been under-assessed based upon its actual improvements and upon compliance with all of the rules with respect to obtaining Certificates of occupancy, therefore there is likely to be a substantial increase in real property taxes.

What Does the Real Property Contract Form State About Certificates of Occupancy?

Paragraph 16 of the contract commonly used in the New York Metropolitan Area addresses Certificate of Occupancy. The contract is made subject to and the purchaser's obligations are conditioned upon the fulfillment by the seller of certain conditions under Paragraph 16. These include: Paragraph 16(b) The Delivery by Seller to Purchaser of a valid and subsisting Certificate of Occupancy or other required certificate of compliance, or evidence that none was required, covering the building(s) and all of the other improvements located on the property authorizing their use as a single family dwelling at the date of Closing.

If the bank attorney does her or his job efficiently, the bank will insist upon a Certificate of Occupancy for all improvements. 

February
6

Setting a Listing Price

Of course everyone wants more money for their home. But in choosing a selling price for your house, it doesn't really matter how much you think your home is worth, nor does it matter how much an agent thinks your home is worth. It will only be the buyer's opinion that counts in the end. To find a reasonable asking price, you'll need to compare similar properties, track market movements, and take stock of present inventory. This will lead you to a range of value, which is only an educated opinion, but a good start. Also, understand that no two appraisals are ever exactly the same, but they should be generally close to each other. This means you will not be able to get one set price tag for your home from appraisals, but it will give you a good, educated range and the market will dictate the rest.

Estimate Cost

It is easy to get caught up in the excitement of selling your home with the idea that you will be receiving a large sum of money from the sale. However, you need to remember the costs involved with selling that could include real estate commission if you use an agent to sell, advertising costs, signs, and other fees if you list for sale by owner, attorney, or closing agent and other professional fees, excise tax for the sale, prorated costs for your share of annual expenses, such as property taxes, home owner association fees, etc., and any other fees typical for sellers in your area, like surveys and inspection fees. Try to get an estimate that will include all the seller closing costs.

Make Repairs

Unless you want your house to be regarded as a "fixer-upper," you'll want to make sure all needed repairs are made. This does not necessarily mean cosmetic updates, though those can also be helpful, but just make sure that any items that are in need of repair are fixed. Some things that worry buyers the most are mold and mildew, damp basements and crawlspaces, deteriorated roofs or chimneys, plumbing problems, and inadequate or inferior electrical systems. Anything visibly broken will give buyers a reason to offer a lower price.

Home Staging

You want your home to look presentable, if not fantastic when potential buyers come through the door. This means creating a home ready at any time for a walk through. Some tips for staging your home may include the following: opening drapes and blinds to let in natural light, washing windows, cleaning up the yard for curb appeal, controlling clutter inside and out, deep cleaning the kitchen and bathrooms, refinishing hardwood floors, and painting or repainting where necessary. In some cases, it may even be helpful to borrow or rent some additions to make your home more attractive to buyers. Your Realtor may recommend using the services of a home staging professional to achieve maximum appeal from the outset to accomplish the quickest sale for the highest price. 

February
6

Tips For Selecting an Agent

The most important decision when selling your home is the selection of the person you choose to represent you. The job of your Sales Associate is to support you in selling your home with the best possible terms and to aid you through the entire process. Your Sales Associate will explain the process of selling a home, and familiarize you with the various activities, documents and procedures that you will experience throughout the transaction.

Your Real Estate Professional should be:
Aware of the complicated local and state requirements affecting your transaction.
Effective in multi-party, face-to-face negotiations
Highly-trained, with access to programs for continued learning and additional certifications
Resourceful in attracting the largest possible pool of potential buyers.
Knowledgeable in the technology resources that facilitate the transaction.
Assisted by a fully-staffed marketing department.
Supported by professional legal counsel.
Developing a Marketing Strategy

Preparing to Sell
In order to sell your home quickly with the best possible terms, it's necessary to prepare your home for the market. This process includes:
Deciding when to put your home on the market
Establishing a strategic price based on recent comparable sales, local market conditions and your motivation to sell
Estimating probable net proceeds.
Advising you on how to make your home more appealing to potential buyers.

Marketing Your Property
Ordering a "FOR SALE" sign to be placed prominently on your property.
Installing a lock box to make it easy for agents to show your home.
Submitting your home to the regional Multiple Listing Service for immediate exposure to the real estate community.
Arranging Sales Associates in the area to tour the home.
Developing a flyer/brochure highlighting the features and benefits of your home.
Promoting your home at the appropriate Association(s) of Realtors' for maximum exposure to other cooperating agents.
Holding open houses when appropriate.
Contacting your neighbors to promote the property.
Advertising your property during our regular office meetings.
Featuring your property on our web site.
Asking clients and colleagues if they know of possible buyers.

Managing the Transaction
You'll appreciate having a strong advocate on your side during the transaction! Negotiating the Offer,Your Sales Associate will immediately present and explain all offers to you. You will be able to accept, reject, or counter any offer presented. During the negotiation process, your Associate will leverage their experience and skills to advocate your interests:
Reviewing the contract and obligations before you sign.
Explaining how contingencies and release clauses work.
Protecting you from signing a "blank check" for unknown problems or repairs.
Defining legal disclosure requirements.
Orchestrate the offer process for "back-up" offers, if necessary.

Negotiation is Critical
Throughout the negotiation, your Sales Associate will provide you with a professional, objective point of view; but the final decision of accepting an offer is yours. Once an offer is accepted, your Sales Associate will manage all the details to make the process as stress-free and efficient as possible:
Staying in contact with the buyer's agent to ensure a smooth escrow.
Following up on the progress of the buyer's loan.
Monitoring all contingency removal deadlines.
Assisting you if a conflict with the buyer arises.
Finalizing and Closing the Transaction

The Closing
Finalizing the process includes reviewing all closing documents and ensuring both parties have copies. When the transaction has closed, your Sales Associate will deliver the closing check to you and the keys to the new owner. 

February
6

So, you're ready to sell your home! Congratulations, you've come to the right place. We are one of the strongest real estate brokerages in the area. We have great confidence in our brand and you can too.

We have established a rock-solid reputation for impeccable customer service and marketing strategies. When you entrust the sale of your home to us, you are putting your faith in our entire network of experts in:
• Real estate sales
• Real estate purchases
• Loan processing
• Marketing

One of the most important things we can offer you is buyer confidence. Because we have a wide network of buyer sales associates, we have access to many motivated buyers who trust their agents to find their dream homes. 

Our broker/owner and all our sales associates work hard to keep their fingers on the pulse of the real estate market, noting fluctuations and corrective strategies that make your home sellable in any market. We can help you decide how to price your home to sell with the best possible advantage to you.

Relax. We've covered all of your bases. As Realtors®, we are confident that together we can find the right buyer for your home. 

February
6

* Putting People First * 

COMMUNITY 


Collectively and independently, Bronxville Real Estate and its agents are committed to community involvement. Whether through financial support or volunteerism, the company and the agents give to worthwhile organizations and charities at the local and national levels. 

Back to School Clothes for Kids
Since 1997, Bronxville Real Estate in conjunction with Westchester Real Estate, Inc has outfitted over 400 children for school. 

The Bridge Fund of Westchester
Bronxville Real Estate is routinely a major donor to this organization which combats homelessness in Westchester by providing families with resources to bridge the difficult times. 

The Junior League of Bronxville
Agents associated with Bronxville Real Estate not only hold membership in this important local group, but often hold Officer positions within the organization. 

The Bronxville School Foundation
We take pride is being the sponsor of the Memorial Day events. 

The Bronxville Chamber of Commerce
Bronxville Real Estate is a long-standing member of the Chamber and supports its programs including being a major sponsor of the Street Concert series. 

The Community Fund Westchester Residential Opportunities 
Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Habitat for Humanity 
AmeriCares Friends of Karen 
Westchester Jewish Community Services Foundation of Bronxville Eastchester & Tuckahoe
Outward Bound Adopt-a-Dog
Save Buzzard's Bay Lawrence Hospital 
Pennington School PTA. Community Service Associates in Mount Vernon. 
World Learning/The Experiment in International Living 

February
6

RELOCATION SERVICES

As a consumer, you expect professional service provided by real estate agents who are technologically savvy and thoroughly knowledgeable about the communities they serve. We promise to meet or exceed your expectations! Just one phone call to our Relocation Center is all it takes. Our full menu of relocation services includes:
personal consultation
customized relocation information
school reports
rental assistance
area tours
home search
home sale marketing programs
pre-marketing assistance
professional referrals-legal, financial, moving services, and more
settling in services
property management
REO services

We will take care of you every step of the way!

In addition to our local expertise, we are members of the Employee Relocation Council (ERC), the leading organization for relocation professionals guiding national and international workforce mobility. Our membership in this vast community of professionals provides us with unparalleled access to real estate brokers, appraisers, and relocation management companies so we can broaden our business opportunities, and translate those opportunities into benefits for our clients and customers. We can help you whether you're relocating across the street, across the country, or across the globe, anywhere our connections extend.

About Westchester County, New York:

Situated just north of New York City, this highly desirable area commonly referred to simply as 'Westchester' is really a collection of 45 towns, villages, and cities that range in character from upscale cosmopolitan to charming suburban to quaint New England rural. Recreational activities and cultural events abound; schools are considered to be among the best in the country. Major rail and bus lines provide easy access to Manhattan and nearby corporate centers, while our own Westchester County Airport is expanding with more flights to more destinations. Westchester attracts a very diverse population because it satisfies a vast array of needs and priorities.

To receive a relocation package and/or be contacted by one of our relocation counselors, please complete the CONTACT FORM. 

February
6

As we approach a new spring real estate market, one that we expect to be very robust, many homeowners have in mind that this year (finally!) may be the time to sell and move on with their plans (to upgrade, downsize, right-size, move to a warmer climate, etc.). You may consider trying to sell on your own, but with 91% of homes selling with the assistance of a Realtor, and for an average of 23% more money than those sold without, most of you will turn to a professional who does this every single day and is really good at what they do.

 

But how will you know that a real estate agent IS really good at what they do? And is also a good match for you and your needs? Do you go by word of mouth? By looking online and reading reviews? By seeing whose sign is in your neighborhood, or whose postcards come in your mail? All these can provide valuable clues and put you on the right track, but you need to go further. You need to know the right questions to ask and the answers that are meaningful.

 

The agent you ultimately hire needs to be your Trusted Advisor, a Master Marketer, a Skillful Negotiator, and an Expert Facilitator. To determine which agent will be all that, and the best choice to accomplish your goals, start by asking for a written custom marketing plan, one that goes beyond the basics of putting up a sign, putting your home on the MLS, and sending it to a long list of web sites. Lack of communication is the most common complaint of sellers about their agents, so ask the agent to commit to a schedule of contact and follow-up activities. Ask for a list of recent past clients and select a few to contact for feedback. Find out how knowledgeable the agent is about your community, and able to convey the benefits. Ask for statistics and facts that validate the agent's abilities compared to other agents in the market. Ask the agent to clearly explain any local market trends that will impact your sale. And listen carefully to make sure the agent is more interested in learning about yourneeds than talking about their agenda. After all, this sale is about YOU, your goals, plans & dreams, and putting your interests above all else.

 

Choosing the right agent to help you sell arguably your most expensive possession should not be about price. It's the market that sets the price, meaning your home will sell for what a reasonable and educated buyer is willing to pay for it. You should always choose your agent first, then work with them to set the best price. A really good agent will educate you about the market and discuss pricing strategies, so you can make a smart decision about what the optimal price should be. And remember the old adage of "you get what you pay for" when hiring an agent. Choosing an agent who provides top value for their services will reap benefits well beyond their fees in time and aggravation saved, as well as netting you a higher reward.

 

February
6

This is the eternal "which came first?" debate. In real estate, we have a somewhat different but equally perplexing debate: when selling one home and buying another, which should you do first? Realtors are asked to counsel their clients on this all the time and we have become experts in sorting through the possibilities.

 

In the buy-or-sell-first debate, there are many factors that come into play. In no specific order, here are many of the considerations you should evaluate when determining what is best in your particular circumstance.

 

Financial: Do you have enough assets to make a down payment on a new home before selling your current one? Will you qualify for a mortgage on the new home? And can you afford to carry both mortgages for a time if you haven't sold your current home by the time you close on the new one?

 

The Market: Is it a buyer's market or a seller's market where you live now? What about where you're going? This can make a big difference in your decision. If homes are selling rapidly where you live now and you price your home to the market, you can potentially achieve a quick sale. If the same is true where you're moving to, and there aren't a lot of homes available, you could find yourself without a place to move to. On the contrary, if homes are staying on the market a long time with lots of competition where you currently live, you may not want to chance committing to a new home until you have secured a sale on your existing home.

 

Timing: Are you starting a new job, or have your children enrolled in school, and need to be in your new home by a specific date? If so, you may have less flexibility to wait out the sale of your current home.

 

Options: Do you have family that you can stay with, or a second home you can move into if you sell your current home but haven't yet found a new place to live? Is renting for a period of time something you'd consider? Having a fallback plan in case the timing doesn't match up can make the choice less critical.

 

Alternatives: If you should you find a buyer for your current home but don't have a new home secured yet, you may be able to negotiate a delayed closing date, or even a rent-back option that allows you to rent your home back from the new owners for a period of time. On the other hand, if you find a new home to purchase but haven't sold your current one, perhaps renting out your first home may be a short- or long-term solution that works for you.

 

As you can see, there is no one-size-fits-all answer to this dilemma. Each situation is unique and the best answer will depend on a bevy of factors. To help sort it all out, consult with a trusted local Realtor, along with a mortgage lender, accountant, and real estate attorney who can help you make the most prudent, informed decision for you and your family.

February
6

Career in Real Estate

Looking for a career that is a real growth opportunity and not just a job? We are in the business to help people fully realize their homeownership dreams. It's a challenging and rewarding career offered by one of the area's most successful companies.
 
If you want the competitive advantage our services and resources can provide, and want to work in a stable and secure environment, for a forward-looking company, maybe you should be speaking to us. Bronxville-Ley Real Estate is looking for specialists who live in, understand and want to work in Westchester County. You many be the kind of person we're looking for.
 
One who has:
  • The motivation to take control of your own success. 
  • The desire to be of service to others. 
  • The desire for the income that buys the better things in life 
If this sounds interesting, please contact Leah Caro at 914-337-1234 or e-mail at caro@parksterlingrealestate.com
 
How does Bronxville-Ley Real Estate compare to the other Westchester brokerage firms? Take a look at some of the advantages:
  • Competitive Commission Schedule 
  • Free quick-start training for new agents 
  • In-house one-on-one training 
  • Free, all expense paid or greater, travel for Summit producers with a volume of $5,000,000 
  • And more
If your interests and needs are not included in this list, just ask when we meet. We believe in creating an atmosphere where individual sales associates can develop to the limits of their own capabilities - to their own benefit - as well as to the benefit of the company.
 
For more information, please contact Leah Caro at 914-337-1234 or e-mail at caro@parksterlingrealestate.com
February
6

We've all heard that saying, "a picture is worth a thousand words". It is never truer than in real estate! And these days, it can mean the difference between a sale and no sale.

 

Here's the scenario: you list your home for sale with the Realtor of your choice and when you sign the listing agreement, the real estate salesperson takes some quick photos with their cell phone so he or she can "get it on the MLS right away". You're eager to get started with the process, so this seems like a great idea.

 

Flash forward to 5 days later: your home's listing is on the MLS with the handful of cell phone photos to represent it to the home buying public. Your agent says that it's been viewed over 100 times online. But there are zero appointments for the first weekend. None. What's going on, you wonder?

 

Here's what happened: the photos are of such poor quality. Your listing agent didn't consider the lighting, the best angles, that your kids' toys were all over the living room. The toilet seat is up, the window shades were down. The home wasn't "staged" to its top potential. You know what I'm talking about - we've all seen "those" photos online too.

 

And the buyers who've seen these initial photos - because they instantly get emailed or notified as soon as there's a new listing that meets their criteria - well, they aren't interested. They can't look past the lousy photos to see the most appealing attributes of the home, the things you loved about it when you bought it.

 

Once these bad photos are out there, you often don't get a second chance. What sellers don't realize is that in this world of instant digital distribution, those photos will be immediately disseminated to hundreds of web sites where consumers go to look for homes. Once they've decided that the home isn't for them, based on the pictures they see, they often won't look at that listing again, even if the photos eventually get upgraded. That most important initial window of opportunity has been missed.

 

Don't fall victim to the agent wielding the cell phone camera!! (or even the "real" camera, who still doesn't take the time to assure quality photos). Insist that your home be showcased and photographed properly right from the start. Those photos will be your first - and maybe only - chance to make that ever important first impression with the potential new owners of your home.

February
6

 
February
6

Probably the question most often asked of anyone in the real estate industry is, "How's the market?" Ifyou ask the question to 10 different real estate professionals, you are likely to get 10 different answers! So, who do you believe? Most likely, all of them! Now you're thinking, "Huh? How is that possible?"

 

Most people understand that the stock market overall can be up, but that doesn't mean that every stock that makes up the S&P, the Dow Jones, or the NASDAQ is up simultaneously, and certainly not up equally. You wouldn't buy one particular stock without conducting your due diligence to make sure its value is rising or likely to rise, and that you are purchasing it at a current fair market value. The same is true with real estate. Individual homes, neighborhoods, or towns can be down while the county, state or nation is up, or vice versa. For this reason, reading national headlines and statistics isn't going to give you the information you really need if you're thinking of buying or selling a home. Real estate truly is hyper-local.

 

What is it that makes real estate values and trends so local-specific? Economics plays a big role. What is the local job market like? Is unemployment trending up or down? What about supply and demand? If you are trying to sell a 3-bedroom Colonial and there are 10 on the market in your neighborhood of equal quality and condition, but only 2 prospective buyers, you will need to make your home the real standout in price and condition to be one of the two lucky sellers. If you are one of the two buyers with all those homes to choose from, you will likely be able to negotiate a lower price. Condition, style, location, property taxes and functional obsolescence are considerations of each individual property. And then there are other major factors such as commutation convenience, safety, availability of suitable schools, and family considerations. Any of these, along with many other variables, can dictate home values and trends right down to the specific street and even the individual home.

 

What about those online tools that provide you with an "estimate" of the value of the home you may want to purchase or sell?If you have been reading to this point, you've probably already concluded on your own that there's no way they could give you a true picture of the value of a specific home....and you'd be right! Online valuation models most often don't have all the information about a particular home, their data is frequently outdated, and they certainly have no way to take into consideration the myriad outside factors that translate into an accurate valuation.

 

If you are moving across the country, then national headlines and data may have some value. Otherwise, it's all about local, local, local. So who should you ask if you really want to know what's going on in the market specific to the home you want to buy or sell? The most knowledgeable local Realtor you can find.

 

February
6

 

Click above to access the United States Postal Service guide to help make your moving experience a little easier. 

February
6

 

February
6

New York State (Sec.443) Disclosure Regarding Real Estate Agency Relationships

This form is required by NY State to be executed by all parties to a real estate transaction, including buyers, sellers, tenants and landlords. The document describes the various types of agency relationships. Your agent should discuss these relationships with you in detail at your first substantive meeting so that you can agree on the type of agency representation you will receive. If your agent will represent you as a buyer's agent, then the circumstance of "dual agency" should be discussed at this time.

Dual and Designated Agency Agreements

If you are represented by a buyer's agent, you will have discussed "dual agency" during your initial agency discussion. Should a situation of "dual agency" arise, in all likelihood, this will lend itself to resolution with a "designated agency" agreement. At the time a dual agency arises, both parties to the transaction will be required to acknowledge the dual agency in writing, and also to acknowledge a designated agency agreement at the same time, designating different agents within the same brokerage to represent each of the parties.

Disclosure of Information on Lead-Based Paint and/or Lead-Based Paint Hazards

All purchasers or lessees of housing built before 1978 must be presented with the pamphlet "Protect Your Family from Lead in Your Home". In addition, they must be provided with a disclosure form from the seller or lessor stating any knowledge of the existence of lead-based paint in the home. Should a buyer or lessee wish to conduct inspections for lead-based paint hazards in the home, they will be allowed a 10-day period in which to conduct those inspections, unless otherwise agreed to or waived.

Property Condition Disclosure Statement

As of March 1, 2002, New York State implemented a Property Condition Disclosure Act. This law requires that a completed property condition disclosure statement be provided to the buyer before the buyer is bound by a contract of sale, and this statement must then be attached to the contract. Failure to provide the completed statement as prescribed by the law will result in a $500 credit to the buyer at closing. This law applies to residential property with one to four units, but not to unimproved real property, new construction, condos, cooperative apartments, or property in a homeowner's association that is not owned in fee simple. Other exclusions exist in various situations of foreclosures, estates, transfer between co-owners, and more (consult legal counsel for the details of these various exclusions).

Offer to Purchase

A written Offer to Purchase is commonly used to submit an initial offer on a property. This document is not a standardized form, but should contain the terms of the offer, including offering price, conditions (financing, inspections), inclusions of the sale, proposed closing date, and any other negotiable issues. It should be prepared by the agent working with the buyer, and should be carefully reviewed by the buyer for accuracy prior to submission; the agent may or may not request that the buyer sign the offer.

Memorandum of Agreement or Purchase Memorandum

Again, this is not specifically a standardized form, but this type of document is commonly used to memorialize the terms that have been agreed to by all parties to the transaction to reach an "Acceptable Offer". This document is usually prepared by the seller's agent or broker, and sometimes by the buyer's agent or broker as well. A copy of the Memorandum is typically sent to all parties including the buyer(s) and seller(s), both parties' attorneys, and both real estate agents.

Contract of Sale

The legal contract of sale is typically prepared by the seller's attorney after an agreement has been negotiated, and after completion of any agreed upon inspections. The contract will be sent from the seller's attorney to the buyer's attorney for review and signing by the buyer(s), then returned to the seller's attorney along with the down payment (typically 10% of the purchase price) for signature from the seller(s). While many attorneys use a standard basic contract, the exact language and terms of each contract will vary considerably and should be reviewed thoroughly before signing.


OTHER ISSUES AND CONSIDERATIONS

Carbon Monoxide Detectors

New York State law requires that all one- and two-family homes, condominiums, cooperative apartments, and multiple-unit dwellings (see Law for definition of multiple-dwelling units) have at least one operable carbon monoxide alarm at the time of sale. This law went into effect in March 2003 and was amended in 2009 (the amendment may be cited as "Amanda's Law"). During your initial home inspection, and/or at the final walk-through prior to closing, make sure that there is at least one alarm installed and that it is in working condition.

Homeowner's Insurance

It will be necessary to have a homeowner's insurance policy in place, pre-paid for one year, at the time of closing. The insurance industry now relies heavily on C.L.U.E. (Comprehensive Loss Underwriting Exchange) Property Loss History reports, a database relating to insurance claims on private property. A property's claim history for the past seven years, including inquiries that did not result in claims, is contained in the report. In addition to considering the property's claim history, insurance companies will also consider the claim history of the purchaser, when deciding whether to issue an insurance policy. A property or purchaser with an extensive or checkered claim history may find it difficult, expensive, or impossible to obtain homeowner's insurance. Only the current property owner may order a C.L.U.E. report; you can ask them to obtain one and share it with you, or ask them to give you written details of their past claims on the property. These days, it is important to investigate the cost and availability of homeowner's insurance early in the process, rather than waiting until just prior to closing.

Well-Water Testing Law

The Private Well-Water Testing Law went into effect in Westchester County in November 2007. It applies to properties served by private wells used for drinking water, and requires that private well water systems be tested for primary and secondary contaminants upon the sale of any real property. For leased properties, the well-water testing must be done within 12 months of the property becoming subject to a leasehold, and at least once every five (5) years thereafter. Every time a rental property subject to the Law is leased, a written copy of the most recent test results must be given to the lessee. All new private wells, prior to first use, and all private wells not in use as a potable water supply for a period of five (5) years must also be tested. Upon signing of a contract of sale for a property subject to the Law, the seller must cause a water test to be conducted in the manner provided. Testing must be done by an employee or authorized representative of a lab certified by the NYS Department of Health. The Law provides that the cost of testing for the parameters set forth in the Law in the case of a sale or lease of property be borne by the seller or lessor respectively. The results of the water test must be delivered to both the buyer and seller, or in the case of a leased property, to the lessee. The Law contains provisions on the rights and responsibilities of parties whenever testing reveals that the well water system does not meet drinking water quality standards for one or more of the contaminants tested, and sets forth specific procedural requirements placed on the parties to remediate or correct the condition to establish safe levels of contaminants. This Law does not apply to properties served by a regulated Public Water Supply where the potable water supply system either serves five or more properties or regularly serves an average of twenty-five (25) or more individuals daily for at least sixty (60) days out of the year. Properties in Westchester County may be served by private wells, community wells, or public water supply companies, so you should inquire as to the source of the drinking water for your property to determine whether or not this Law will apply. More information on this Law may be found at the Westchester County Department of Health website, at www.westchestergov.com/health.

February
6

Home Protection Plan

Sell or purchase a home with confidence and peace of mind with a home warranty offered by members of Westchester Real Estate. Provide yourself with protection against the costs of repairing or replacing mechanical and structural systems in your home which become defective due to normal wear and tear.

As a seller, your peace of mind will come from knowing that...

  • Your home is marketed to sell quickly and at the best possible price
  • Warranting your home will enhance its value. This typically results in a faster sale at a price which is higher than similar homes without such coverage.
  • You can opt to receive warranty coverage during your listing period.
  • A home warranty can reduce requests for price negotiation up front as well as after-sale liability issues.

As a buyer your peace of mind will come from knowing that...

  • Your family budget is protected!
  • For the first year in your new home, your warranty provider will assume the responsibility and the dollar risk for repair or replacement of covered systems which become defective.
  • One toll-free phone number is all you need to know to get prompt repair service for any covered item.

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