The gap between buyers and sellers still yawns

“In New York, the plunge hasn’t happened yet; instead, the market has ground to a halt,” according to one of several articles in New York magazine. “Many sellers have dropped their asking prices to levels not seen for a few years, but the reductions can’t keep up with the savings expectations of would-be buyers. So sales volume has decreased dramatically: It is down by almost half in Manhattan in the last quarter when compared to the same period of the year before, according to a report by the appraisal firm Miller Samuel for Prudential Douglas Elliman. It’s the same story in Queens, and even worse in Brooklyn, where sales are off 57 percent.”

The end of last year was terrible for sellers, and the beginning of this year was hardly better.  Now that the usually high season for the Big Apple’s real estate market has begun, the signs Continue reading

There are two sides to the housing equation

As Realty Times notes, the $8,000 tax credit for home buyers is available only available to individuals who make no more than $75,000 or couples earning no more than $150,000. It can be used only by first-time homebuyers (defined as one who has not owned a home for at least three years.)

Why not make the credit available to anyone who purchases a home? asks U.S. Rep. Ken Calvert, a Republican (of all things) from California. In fact, why restrict the number of credits available to any one purchaser? If someone buys two homes, let them have double the tax credit.

What better way to shrink the nation’s burgeoning inventory of unsold properties?

Skeptics will say that such a plan would benefit investors seeking to rent out their apartments and houses and sucking up federal dollars. It’s hard to see Continue reading

A new tool gauges price reductions

There’s no way of judging the validity or even determining the ultimate usefulness of what Trulia has just introduced.  But the Web provider of information about real estate properties says consumer now can see on its site how many of them have had price reductions in various cities. Trulia’s research has found that 27 percent of homes currently on the market across the United States have experienced at least one price cut. Across 15 major cities, including New York City, Chicago, Los Angeles, Boston and Atlanta, the average price reduction for homes ranged from $20,000 to $295,000.

Which city had the most reductions? New York, which, according to Trulia, saw prices cut in 39 percent of the listings. The company created three tables, for the U.S. as a whole and properties listed at above or below $1 million.

What concerns me is the quality of the database. Continue reading

California is a state where the sun don’t shine

A blog from the Field Crest Group warns that Foreclosure start (NOD) and Trustee Sale (NTS) notices are going out to California homeowners at levels not seen since mid 2008. “Once an NTS goes out, the property is taken to the courthouse and auctioned within 21-45 days,” the blog says. “Two months from now, the foreclosure crisis will be top of the news once again catching everyone off guard because of the past six months ‘intervention’.”

And that’s not all the group says in a post filled with alarming charts.  It notes that in California:

  • Defaults are surging to the highest level yet, reaching 54,022 in March;
  • Subprime defaults are declining;
  • Alt-A defaults are skyrocketing;
  • Pay option ARM defaults are surging;
  • Jumbo prime defaults are relentlessly continuing;
  • House prices are bottoming, “but for the wrong reason.”

Present values of properties at the notice-of-default stage are clearly rising due to the shift in the mix of loans/properties going into default from lower to higher,” the blog contends.   “This ‘mix-shift’ effect may push up median house prices in 2009 creating the appearance that the market is improving when in reality it is because more higher-value properties are defaulting, being foreclosed upon and reselling through the Realtor network.”

Anyone who has managed to plow through the mortgage information in my newsletter knows that California has been one of states hardest hit by the bursting bubble of the housing market.  Will its experience Continue reading

It’s that time of year

Whether it was the high temperatures or the high season for property buyers, most of the eight open houses I visited on the Upper West Side today had very good traffic and generally had sharply reduced or realistic prices. Maybe, too, it was the street fair running north from 96th Street to Morningside Heights that boosted traffic.

One especially busy apartment was a small and otherwise modest penthouse with a 1,500-sf terrace that had its price cut from $499,000 to $399,000. The views in three directions are open and sunny, the kitchen is small and barely serviceable, and the bedroom represents a tight fit. So what’s the catch? The maintenance: $1,769, attributable to that big terrace.

Interestingly, the broker is marketing the property by saying that all offers over $399,000 will be considered. That’s a novel strategy; it signals buyers that low-ball offers will not work and it brings in buyers who might not bother looking at a higher-priced property. I, for one, think that’s shrewd marketing in today’s environment.

Look for more on this property and others in one of my next newsletters.  You can search listings from various brokers yourself as well.

Going to a street fair is like seeing the same movie over and over.

Going to a street fair is like seeing the same movie over and over.

Balloons and musicians and clowns, oh boy!

Balloons and musicians and clowns, oh boy!

As usual, there was all the overpriced greasy food you could stomach.

As usual, there was all the overpriced greasy food you could stomach.

Malcolm Carter
Licensed Associate Real Estate Broker
Senior Vice President
Charles Rutenberg Realty
127 E. 56th Street
New York, NY 10022
M: 347-886-0248
F: 347-438-3201

Malcolm@ServiceYouCanTrust.com
http://www.ServiceYouCanTrust.com

Mr. Toll of the Brothers Now Sounds Hopeful

CEO Robert Toll told Jim Cramer that he “definitely” sees things differently now and that about 80 percent of the nation is on its way back. He cited as evidence an increase over the past five weeks in “expressions of interest;” those are refundable deposits that start the home-buying process. The number of these deposits is better than any other time over the past year, he said. “Now last year stunk,” Toll acknowledged (ungrammatically). “But then again it sure feels good to be doing better rather than worse.” He added that the trend was “pretty much nationwide, except for a couple of markets that are still deader than doornails and probably will be for another year or two.”

You can watch the video here and compare with the predictions of other soothsayers in my newsletter.

Malcolm Carter
Licensed Associate Real Estate Broker

Senior Vice President
Charles Rutenberg Realty
127 E. 56th Street
New York, NY 10022
M: 347-886-0248
F: 347-438-3201

Malcolm@ServiceYouCanTrust.com
http://www.ServiceYouCanTrust.com

There are brokers and there are brokers

Two days ago, I e-mailed a broker who shall go nameless about a $2.7 million Upper West Side apartment in which a client had an interest. She wanted to know the square footage, which did not appear in the listing, and whether there was a doorman, about which the listing also was silent. There being no reply to the e-mail, I telephoned the broker today and, shockingly, reached him on his cell phone.  Said he, “I never got the e-mail,” a refrain all of us have heard from individuals who are unmotivated to respond. (They are probably the same folks who don’t bother responding to an R.S.V.P. in invitations.) Isn’t it astonishing that the broker has been the only person in two days who didn’t get an e-mail from me?

Moreover, it turns out that my customer’s questions don’t need to be answered: The broker told me in our telephone call that, after 26 weeks on the market, the owner has decided to rent out the co-op and perhaps list it again when sales pick up.

So that listing broker failed to do three things: He didn’t return my email, didn’t update the listing and didn’t grasp the significance of a potentially hot buyer. He never bothered to say he would show the apartment, even if it was available for rental, to someone who might well have made a decent purchase offer. How is that serving his seller well? How do you spell l-a-z-y and i-n-c-o-m-p-e-t-e-n-t?

For more about the broker community, see “It Will Never Ever Happen Here” in my post below. For latest listings of Manhattan apartments ranging in size from studios to so-called “trophy” condos and co-ops, check out the bottom of my newsletter.  And to see my critiques of properties I see at open houses several days a week, check out “Out and About” in my bi-weekly newsletter.

Malcolm Carter
Licensed Associate Real Estate Broker

Senior Vice President
Charles Rutenberg Realty
127 E. 56th Street
New York, NY 10022
M: 347-886-0248
F: 347-438-3201

Malcolm@ServiceYouCanTrust.com
http://www.ServiceYouCanTrust.com