Home Selling

Westchester County and the real estate market after Tax Day 2019!

Giovanni Gonzalez | April 2019

Ever since December 2017 when the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 (TCJA) was signed into law, I have been thinking that April 2019 would be a breaking point.

I would venture to say that for most of the Country, Tax Day 2019 brought a mixed bag. Some got a bigger tax refund; some got a smaller tax refund. For a large number of Westchester County residents, the new so-called SALT (State and Local Tax) deduction of $10,000 actually became a net tax increase.

By the end of the first quarter of the year our real estate market has reacted in different ways according to my observation:

  1. For properties listed under the $800,000 number, the market is still a seller’s market. There are plenty of residual buyers out there trying to capitalize on the low interest rate and the inventory is still low. We are still seeing multiple-offer situations in some cases.
  1. For properties listed between $800,000 to $2,000,000 the market is flat. There are buyers for these properties, but they don’t have a sense of urgency. They are being more careful, especially those buyers above the $1,000,000 (these properties are subject to a mansion tax). Of course, these properties are selling but their marketability is now more a function of their real value.
  1. Properties Listed above $2,000,000 are struggling, some sources indicate sales falling 30% to 40%. There are several reasons for this decline but in my mind the impact of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 is the main reason.

It is important to note that the real estate market in NYC has been faltering for the last 18 months. Westchester is suffering the consequences of the softening of the NYC market because we feed from those buyers. Those NYC residents that had hopes to move to suburbia looking for more space to raise their families are not going to be able to do so until their properties go into contract. Meanwhile their properties sit on the market and their values go down as NYC also assimilates the changes of the new tax law. Some of them now will have to worry about another law. You guessed it, the NYS Transfer and Mansion Tax.

At some point the effect of the SALT cap will be assimilated into the pricing, in the mean time we can only wait and hope for the best.

Share

What We Stand For

During the holidays we all get invited to parties and appreciation events. We normally end up meeting people we have dealt with in the past, new faces, and hanging out with our favorite groups. Sometimes we accidentally eavesdrop in conversations. It is all fun! It’s the holidays.

Well, this time we didn’t need to eavesdrop. The conversation took place right in front of us as we were sipping cocktails. This overly animated agent was describing how working for this top notch Real Estate company has made her so successful. She can hardly find enough time to breath. She gestures and gasps for air as she disparages that her buyers all come from “the city”. They don’t know anything about the market but they, desperately need to get in a particular school district. She then describes how she refers out all the business outside of her little community because she just can’t be bothered. She goes on saying that her co-league goes around town knocking on doors asking home owners to list their properties with him…and they do, she adds! In the euphoria of the conversation the guy next to me jumps in and states that he does the same thing and he just managed to land a listing in the millions, that he will probably have to refer out because he has a busy life. He adds: “I tell all my clients upfront that I am a family man, I have kids and elderly relatives, I don’t work Saturday or Sunday”. He is not done, “If my buyers don’t purchase a house after I show them 6 properties I fire them”! Me and my associate look at each other and walk away. We heard enough!

Photo taken from the HuffPost: How To Become A Real Estate Agent

Here is where I have to include our mantra. GioHomes Real Estate is a local real estate company founded in 2006  based on a philosophy of customer satisfaction. We believe that success in real estate only comes from understanding the client’s needs and satisfying them. We abandoned the corporate premise of quantity and embraced the concept of quality.

Long gone are the days when the information was in the hands of few. The internet and social media now opens the door to the endless possibilities for buyers and sellers. It has empowered small businesses like GioHomes to step out of the old structure and create a more transparent and efficient market.

Yes, we believe that our clients are well informed buyers and our job is to help them achieve their goals of home ownership. And, our sellers are smart competent home owners with busy lives that require the assistance of a real estate professional to handle the sale of their houses.

Now, you probably have a better understanding of why we are a boutique real estate company. We are always here for you!

Share

Westchester Real Estate and the New Tax Law

The real estate market in Westchester County, home to one of the country’s largest property-tax
burden, has been on a roll. The approval of the tax reform will more likely have an impact on the market since it punishes
residents with even higher costs. The big question is: can the market continue thriving?

Cracks are already forming. The number of closed sales dropped, the second straight quarter. Purchase contracts are down as well. Those might be the first signs that buyers are wavering,
and that prices may need to adjust to reflect the now-higher
costs of owning a home in the well-to-do suburbs.

Right now everyone’s calling their accountant….. yes, we did it too. We found no answers because the IRS has not been able to create the guidelines to implement the new law.  The situation gets more complicated when we include the Co-op corporations since they have very large underlying mortgages, and nobody seems to know how those will be treated when it comes to taxes and the pass-through effect that will end up affecting the home owner’s pockets.

We would be surprised if this doesn’t apply some downward pressure on the higher side of the
market. We could see a period of indecision on both the sellers and buyer’s side. Buyers will be looking for a formula that allows them to afford their home.

 

In real estate one amenity is king….. LOCATION.  Those of us who love this wonderful county of ours, those who enjoy the proximity to NYC and all the wonderful amenities Westchester County has to offer are going to need to grab our calculators and make sure we run our numbers properly. At the end of the day a change in the tax code is not likely to discourage people from making decisions that are basically lifestyle decisions. People need to live somewhere and more likely we are going to live close to our jobs  and send our children to the wonderful school districts we have. There are going to be adjustments in the market but we don’t know the real impact yet.

At GioHomes we are here to help. To us what really matter is what our client’s needs. How can we maximize their earnings and/minimize their loss? How can we help them transition in a seamless manner.

Share

At GioHomes we make your goal our goal

GioHomes’ Team Celebrating the Holidays

GioHomes Real Estate is a local real estate company founded in 2006 based on a philosophy of customer satisfaction. We believe that success in real estate only comes from understanding the client’s needs and satisfying them. We abandoned the corporate premise of quantity and embraced the concept of quality.

Long gone are the days when the information was in the hands of few. The internet and social media now opens the door to the endless possibilities for buyers and sellers. It has empowered small businesses like GioHomes to step out of the old structure and create a more transparent and efficient market.

Years of experience, training, and ongoing education give us the tools to offer prospective buyers and sellers an alternative in a market that was once dominated by large corporations. GioHomes offers opportunities where buyers and sellers are no longer a number in the chaos of politics and paperwork but rather a voice that demands to be serviced.

Please let us know how we can help you.

GioHomes Real Estate LLC.

914-946-1067 – info@giohomes.com – www.giohomes.com

In the picture Lloyd Mascarenhas, Michael Turner, Annette Zito, Phyllis Marcus (legal counsel), Giovanni Gonzalez and Vivian Chen.

Share

Stage your Home Using These 12 Tips

Home StagingBefore you sell your home it’s important to whip it up into shape. Follow these 12 tips and your property will be catching major attention for prospective home buyers.

  1. Get rid of grime. Nobody likes grimy bathroom walls. To get rid of surface mold, mix one part water and one part bleach, then spray it on the walls. You can also do a minor upgrade and apply a fresh coat of paint for an updated look.
  2. Paint your bathroom tiles. Instead of replacing your bathroom’s outdated tiles, a low-cost alternative would be to apply a coat of high-adhesion primer and brush a special ceramic epoxy covering.
  3. Make your master bedroom gender neutral. It’s of paramount importance to appeal to both sexes when selling a home. Stick to a neutral paint color, and complement the walls with bedding that matches the color scheme. If there’s a his-and-hers closet, you can add items that are gender-specific.
  4. Consider getting a pedestal sink. Vanities are bulky and take too much space. To show more square footage in your bathroom, invest in a pedestal sink.
  5. Transform an outdated fireplace into a modern beauty. You don’t have to tear down your old, outdated fireplace. Turn it into a selling feature by getting rid of outdated elements like brass screens. Give it a good scrub, use a stone color enhancer, and polish the bricks until they shine as if they are brand new.
  6. Stain old kitchen cabinets. Instead of replacing your outdated kitchen cabinets, give them a new look by staining them in even strokes. Add some stylish hardware for some pizzazz.
  7. Invest on granite countertops. It can be expensive, but granite countertops are a great investment and a huge selling feature as they add character and depth to any kitchen.
  8. Buy new kitchen equipment. According to recent studies, new appliances yield high investment returns from sellers. You don’t have to replace everything – replace key pieces that will instantly upgrade your old kitchen into a new one.
  9. Add built-in bookshelves. Storage is one of the factors that can make or break a sale. Add built-in bookshelves and dress them up with neutral yet attractive items in clusters.
  10. Improve your curb appeal. The best way to attract a potential home buyer’s attention is to stop some traffic. Give your home’s exterior walls a fresh coat of paint that will invite home buyers to check out your place. Flowers in bloom are a great addition as well.
  11. Renovate your outdoor deck. Sand the wood of your outdoor deck and use a light-colored stain for a rustic yet updated look. Stage it with furnishings for entertaining, and you can easily hold an open house cum deck party.
  12. Stage your home to show true potential. For an effective home-staging, pick pieces and furniture that will show off a space’s potential, including its functionality. That way, home buyers will easily envision themselves living in the property.

A few minor upgrades can easily boost your property and attract plenty of offers. Check out this link for more home selling tips.

Share

Tips for choosing the right home inspector

Choosing Home InspectorWhether you’re a home buyer or seller, the home inspection is one of the most important parts of the entire process.

For buyers, a home inspection will bring to light problems that you might not have noticed before. In some cases, a buyer can discover issues about the home that cause them to rethink their purchase.

For sellers, having your home inspected can show you what you need to fix before you put your home on the market, eliminating the need to haggle with potential buyers over the price.

Choosing the right home inspector is a crucial part to making the home inspection process run smoothly. Here are a few helpful tips to keep in mind when choosing a home inspector:

  • It’s wise to try looking for a home inspector first even before looking for a home. When you’re already engaged in negotiations with a home seller, your time is limited, so you may feel pressured to go with the first home inspector you encounter.
  • Try asking your friends or relatives for recommendations. You can also look for local home inspectors on the American Society of Home inspectors website.
  • Remember to talk with prospective inspectors thoroughly. Ask them about their background, how long they’ve been in the business, how many successful inspections they’ve performed, and what type of report they can provide you.
  • Look for an inspector who will remain objective and independent throughout the process. An inspector should not be affiliated with the real estate agency in charge of selling the home.
  • Choose an inspector who specializes in the particular type of home you’re about to buy or sell. Each home is built differently and is made using different materials, thus there are different risks, signs, and symptoms to look out for.
  • Make sure your inspector can submit a complete report in a timely manner, so you can have plenty of time for review. Most inspectors can also provide you with an electronic copy, so you can share it to friends and relatives via e-mail if needed.

For more helpful tips, take a look at this page.

Share

How to Deal with Agents and Home Sellers

Most real estate agents will bend over backwards to accommodate their clients’ requests. Agents will comb through listings to pinpoint the home that closely matches their client’s specifications. Agents will also come up with options and solutions to bypass the bumps on the road that are sometimes part of the homebuying process. More often than not, sellers will adopt a similar attitude. They will inconvenience themselves to welcome potential buyers into their homes.

Meanwhile, the buyer can do well by keeping a few things in mind to make the process an even more positive experience.
 

Dealing with your agent

  • Resist the impulse to call your agent very late at night or early in the morning. An email is a more efficient way to communicate with your realtor during non-office hours.
  • Apply the same courtesy to sellers when you ask your agent to schedule home viewings.
  • Schedule meetings and viewings at a time that’s reasonably convenient for you. This way, you can be sure of being punctual to appointments.

 

Dealing with the homeowner

  • Let your agent contact the homeowner for you. No need to call the owners directly.
  • Be aware that certain homeowners have “shoe rules.” Before entering any listed house, ask if you need to take off your shoes or if you’ll need to wear surgical booties in the house.
  • Visit a listed home with your agent. Don’t do it alone. Once viewings are arranged, your agent will be on hand to assist you.
  • Find out ahead of time if you can take photos of the home. Ask your agent if it’s possible. Some homeowners prefer to maintain their privacy even if they’re selling their home.
  • Take the time to look around. Even if the house lacks curb appeal, you may be surprised at what lies within. Just follow the lead of your agent.
  • Make mental notes. Speak openly to your agent only after you’ve left the home. Airing your thoughts as you tour may compromise negotiations or lead to awkward situations, especially if there are things about the house you don’t like.

 

If you’re looking for homes in Westchester County, New York, contact us today.

Share

Saying goodbye to your well-loved home

Goodbye to HomeFor many of us, moving to a new home means a fresh start. It’s an exciting experience, especially when you think about the new adventures that lie ahead – new neighbors, new places go to, and a new home where you and your family will make new memories.

But what about the home you’re leaving behind?

Parting with your old home can be difficult, especially if you’ve lived there for quite sometime. It has become a part of your life, and has been with you and your family through the both the good times and the bad.

Before you get caught up in the hectic whirlwind of packing, planning, and moving, it’s a good idea to take at least some time out of your busy schedule to celebrate the home you’ll be leaving behind.

Here are some of the things you can do:

Take photos

Before you pack your belongings, take a picture of every area around your house, so you’ll have something to remember it by. You can also ask your kids to pose in memorable spots, like the wall they once doodled on.

If you want something better than photos, some smartphone apps like Google Street View have a special camera feature which you can use to capture 360-degree images. With these, you’ll always remember what it’s like standing right inside your old home.

Leave something behind

By this, we don’t mean your old junk! You can leave behind a simple note addressed to the new owners, telling them what you loved about living there. You can also consider leaving a time capsule filled with photos or other items in the attic or the basement, in honor of all the happy memories you’ve had in the home.

Organize a farewell party

Invite your friends, or just have a simple celebration with your family. It doesn’t even matter if you’ve already packed most of your things – all you really need are a few snacks and drinks, a couple of outdoor lights, some music, and you have a nice little party to celebrate all the good times you’ve shared in your home.

For more great tips about moving, take a look at this page

Share

10 great tips to spruce up curb appeal and attract more buyers

The attractiveness of your home’s exterior plays a key role in attracting interested buyers. An eye-catching exterior serves as an excellent introduction, and will create a good first impression for buyers.

The great thing about sprucing up your home’s curb appeal is you don’t necessarily need to break the bank – you’ll be surprised at how simple upgrades create a dramatic difference.

top 10Here are 10 great tips that can boost your home’s curb appeal:

1. Plant flowers

Plant some flowers along the sidewalk, in front of your house, in plant boxes, or in hanging baskets. Planting flowers is one of the most budget-friendly ways to increase curb appeal.

2. Paint or change your garage doors

Most garage doors dominate a home’s front – giving your garage door a vibrant color or installing a new one with a more stylish design can create a huge impact.

3. Even small details make a big difference

It might not seem like much, but replacing simple things such as your old lock and handle, tarnished house numbers, or rusty light fixtures is a great way to add a touch of elegance to your home.

4. Clear the view

Trees, branches, or shrubs can obscure some of your home’s features, and make it look a bit gloomy and uninviting. If you find it too difficult to clear any of them, at least make sure they look tidy and well-manicured.

5. Conceal dead spots

Stately trees are beautiful; the only problem is their roots tend to draw water and nutrients around the soil, leaving your lawn with unsightly dead spots. Instead of trying to fight against it, look for plants or flowers that can thrive in the shade, and plant them near the base of the tree.

6. Edge your driveway

Using edging materials like stone, pavers, or bricks will give an otherwise drab-looking driveway more color and texture, creating a crisp, polished appearance.

7. Illuminate your sidewalk

Installing lights along your sidewalk is not only safer for potential buyers after dusk; it will also make your entrance look friendlier and more inviting as well.

8. Install a stylized mailbox

Maybe it’s time you replaced your old, boring mailbox. Consider installing a mailbox with personality, one that sits atop a sturdy post, or maybe even an elegant brick or stone column. Make sure your new mailbox complements your home’s style and color.

9. Repaint your front door

Remove your front door and sand it using fine-grit sandpaper prior to painting. The best tool to use are foam rollers as these do a great job of minimizing runs or lap marks (but you’ll still need a brush just to paint into remaining gaps and crevices).

10. Add a pathway

A brick or stone pathway is not only useful, it adds plenty of style and character to your front lawn as well.

Share

Buyer and Seller Tips: Property Disclosures and Real Estate Legalities

The road to becoming an informed buyer or seller is paved with good intentions. Here are the legal aspects of real estate in New York that you need to know.

As a home buyer

Familiarize yourself with certain disclosures you need to fulfill, as well as things you should be looking for in your real estate agent.

  • The rule of “caveat emptor” – As a buyer, you have your own duty to fulfill; to inspect the property and find defects, if any, before you buy a property. It’s important to note that under New York law, listing brokers are not required to disclose any information about property defects. Of course, certain exceptions apply for special cases, such misinformation and/or omitted information. Under these aspects can a listing broker be liable for damages.
  • Buyer’s broker disclosure requirements – A property’s listing agent might not be required to disclose any information to you, but your broker must provide you a complete disclosure of everything about the property.
  • You cannot sue a broker if he failed to inform you that the property is “stigmatized.” – There are special cases when a property up for sale is labeled as “stigmatized” due to being a scene of a crime or being a former home of an individual with a discriminated and transmittable disease (HIV, AIDS, etc.) You can’t sue the listing agent for failure to disclose such information – he’s not required by New York legislature. You can, however, make a written inquiry addressed to the seller’s agent or the seller himself for this information.

 

As a home seller

Here are some of the obligations you need to fulfill, as well as disclosures you should require from your listing agent.

  • Information disclosures – Your listing agent might not be mandated by New York law to disclose information about your property to interested buyers, but it’s still best to inform your agent about property information and defects to avoid misinformation in the selling process. While you’re not really liable to answer for misinformation or omitted information, it’s best to keep everything clean and open.
  • Disclosure requirements under the Property Disclosure Act (PCDA) – Disclosure requirements under PCDA are required under state laws (you can read all about them here
  • If your buyer isn’t represented by a buyer’s agent, your listing broker must notify him/her about the PCDA.

 

For additional reading, here are some links to help you get more acquainted with property laws and requirements:

 

 

 

If you have any concerns, don’t hesitate to give me a call at (914)-946-1067. You can also email me at info@giohomes.com.

Share