Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Trying to sell your home? Ways to boost its value

3 tips for boosting home's appeal this Spring:
- Decorative pot with plants, twigs or other decorative elements on front steps
-Smell-test your house. This isn't about baking cookies before a showing. Does your hall closet smell like the vacuum cleaner? How does your oven smell? Garbage disposal?
-Warm up with the right lights. If you have put in CFL bulbs and the place looks cold or flat, warm up with CFLs rated with Kelvins between 2400 to 2700, for a yellowish light. Those with higher Kelvins look cold.
Boost your home's energy efficiency (You can then tell buyers the house will cost them less to operate than it cost you)
-Programmable thermostat
-Wrap your water heater in insulation
-Install a low-flow showerhead
(all cost $100 or less) Refresh, don't remodel
(Make selected changes, not whole-room fixes) Kitchen:
-New countertops
-Refinish or paint existing cabinets
-Replace sub-par appliances-but don't go for the super high-end replacements. Bath:
-New toilet seats, towel racks, light fixtures, Curb Appeal:
(What will people see from your front steps, where they're likely to wait while real estate agent opens the door?)
-Get trees and shrubs trimmed.
-Use a weed and feed for spring greenup
-Paint or refinish the front door
But don't make it look like a high-maintenance yard; buyers won't want to take on the cost. MEDIUM LANE (SELL IN A FEW YEARS)
Stay up on maintenance of roof, siding, and big mechanicals (furnace, air conditioner)
-If furnace or water heater will need replacing at sale time, do it now or soon, not at sale time, when you're going to have other expenses
-Pay attention to the roof: if you let it go so long that it needs a tearoff, that's 3 times the cost of a new layer.
-Expand into space you have Basement, attic and back yard.
-Cheaper to work with the footprint you have than to add new structure Look at local norms and comps. If what everybody has but you don't is a basement family room, then make that a priority to make yours competitive
-Make the back yard living space. Invest in a deck, a grilling station, built-in seating. (But don't get the high-maintenance items like a hot tub or waterfall)
Splurge A LITTLE on the kitchen and baths
(The value difference between a $5,000 fridge and a $1,500 fridge at sale time is zero_ Many buyers will want to make their own choices later, so do mid-priced upgrades.
In a bathroom, new shower doors, a pedestal sink or flooring can upgrade the room without a huge investment.
Large-scale energy efficiency improvements: solar hot water, geothermal heat are big investments that pay off over a long span of years-you reap the benefit rather than passing it to the buyer Do that big kitchen renovation now: it's for you, not for an eventual buyer, so get the kitchen the way you want it (if you can afford to) Reconfigure your space to make it work for you long-term
need a mud room, workout room, computer work room? How can spaces be re-apportioned or re-assigned? Small additions-'bumpouts'-may help. Plan for aging in place
Rather than retrofit the whole house all at once when need strikes, gradually make changes Removal of barriers in doorways and shower doors, grab bars, low-set sinks, improved kitchen lighting.
Consider creating a first-floor master if you don't have one-or at least add a first-floor full bath.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Spring into.. Unique Tribeca style live/work loft in landmark Printers Row

 Unique Tribeca style live/work loft in landmark Printers Row bldg-4000 sf bi-level loft. Exposed brick/beems, 2 kitchens, 3 baths. 10' ceilings .Adaptable for most business uses. Great for law office/architect/gallery..any business use. Carpe Diem-Great value in stellar location. For Sale@947750 or rent@19.50sf..
email for private showing

Thursday, March 8, 2012

What Does Warren Buffet Think About Buying A Home?

What Does Warren Buffet Think About Buying A Home?

by The KCM Crew on January 30, 2012 · 36 comments
Warren Buffet is seen by many as the greatest investor of our time. When he speaks, people listen. Like anyone else in his position of influence, he is criticized by some for using his bullhorn to promote his own business agendas at times. That makes it very interesting when we occasionally learn of how he privately advises those closest to him.
Such a situation occurred this week. Debbie Bosanek, Warren Buffet’s secretary of 37 years, recently purchased a second home in Surprise, Arizona.
In an article in the Omaha World Herald, Mrs. Bosanek discussed her reasons for purchasing a second home and the personal advice she received from Mr. Buffet.
“I just thought it was time to buy a home. Warren tells me that it will be the best opportunity in my lifetime. Mortgage rates are low and prices have dropped dramatically…I share Warren’s view about the future of America, and we believe that our country will do just fine. I’m happy to make this investment.”
The greatest investor of the last century privately has told the people closest to him that buying a home right now will be the best opportunity in [their] lifetime”.
That’s good enough for us. How about you?

Wednesday, March 7, 2012


By Les Christie
NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- Slowly, but surely, the foreclosure crisis seems to be abating.
The number of homes in foreclosure shrunk by 130,000, or 8.4%, in 2011, according to a report from CoreLogic, an economic research firm.
These are homes owned by borrowers who had slipped far behind on payments, forcing lenders to put them into the foreclosure process. The homes remain foreclosure inventory until they're sold -- either at auction or in a short sale, which is when a home is sold for less than the mortgage value -- or until homeowners are current again on payments.
There are dual reasons for the inventory drop, according to Mark Fleming, chief economist with CoreLogic.
Foreclosure deal has 40 states but others balk
"The pace at which properties are entering foreclosure is slowing," he said. "And servicers nationwide stepped up the rate at which they were able to process distressed assets."
In recent years, homes have entered foreclosure more slowly because lenders are carefully scrutinizing applicants; only very low-risk borrowers get loans. That, plus a gradual improvement in the economy, means fewer borrowers are getting into trouble.
Even borrowers in default are not going into the foreclosure process as quickly as they used to. They're being held up by a variety of judicial and regulatory constraints, according to Fleming.
For one thing, the robo-signing issue, in which banks filed sloppy and sometimes improper paperwork, made lenders more cautious about getting their paperwork in order before beginning to process foreclosures.
Once the banks do put homes into foreclosure, they're trying to speed them through it faster. One way they've done that is by encouraging short sales.
Another is that they've stepped up their foreclosure prevention efforts -- often with the aid of numerous government programs such as Home Affordable Modification Program, which the government claims has helped a million Americans keep their homes.
After foreclosures are completed and the homes are back in the hands of their lenders, the homes are being sold very quickly.
"This is the first time in a year that REO sales [those of bank-owned properties] have outpaced completed foreclosures," said Fleming.
In December 2011, there were 103 sales of bank-owned homes for every 100 homes in foreclosure inventory. That was up considerably from November 2010, when there were only 94 REO sales for every 100 in the foreclosure process.
Florida has the dubious distinction of recording the highest foreclosure inventory in the nation in December, with more than 17% of homeowners seriously delinquent and nearly 12% of homes with mortgages in foreclosure inventory.

The inventory in Florida is bloated because, as in more than half of all the states, most foreclosures have to go through the courts.

Foreclosure free ride: Three years and no payments
Courts have taken a much closer look at the cases coming before them, no longer taking the bank's word for everything.. Consequently, it takes a longer time to schedule an auction, which keeps many homes trapped in the foreclosure pipeline.
A hard-hit state such as Nevada, which has had the highest incidence of delinquency in the nation but where most foreclosures do not go through he courts, posted a foreclosure inventory rate of less than half that of Florida.

Monday, March 5, 2012



Several real estate economists have shown that the average homeowner accumulates more overall wealth than the average renter.However, it is not clear how this is done. Is it that owned property usually appreciates at such a rate that, after considering leverage, returns to ownership are extraordinarily high? Said another way, might homeowners accumulate more overall wealth because ownership is a great levered equity creator through property appreciation? Or, is it that owners acquire greater wealth, on average, because they are systematically paying down a mortgage thereby creating equity thanks to loan amortization? In other words, paying off property creates wealth.

In ongoing research being conducted by Beracha and Johnson, these and other questions concerning home ownership and the accumulation of wealth are being investigated.  In earlier research, Beracha and Johnson show that renting is the superior investment strategy; however, in this earlier strict horse race between buying and renting, a very bold assumption is made.  Specifically, it is assumed that any rent savings (from lower rent versus mortgage payments) are reinvested without fail. Thereby, after balancing all of the costs and benefits from ownership and comparing them to renters’ portfolios from reinvesting rent savings, renting wins.

The question, however, very quickly becomes that, in a setting where Americans generally save less than 5% of their disposable income, is this assumption realistic and how might the removal of this reinvestment decision alter the outcome of the horse race between buying and renting?  As part of their current research, this question is directly addressed.  In particular, Beracha and Johnson find that after allowing renters to spend any rent savings on consumption (beer, cookies, healthcare, education, etc.), ownership leads to greater wealth accumulation, on average.  The graph below highlights this finding.

The graph looks at the ratio of renters’ portfolio values to owners’ proceeds from sale for the entire U.S. between 1978 and 2010 both with strict reinvestment of rent savings and without reinvestment of rent savings.[iii]  Clearly, numbers greater than 1 indicate that renting leads to greater wealth accumulations, while numbers less than 1 indicate that home ownership creates greater wealth, on average.

When renters are forced to reinvest (top line in the graph), the results confirm the earlier findings of Beracha and Johnson (2012).  That is, in a strict horse race between buying and renting, renting wins in the vast majority of cases.  However, when renters are allowed to spend rent savings on consumption (i.e. economically act like the typical American consumer), home ownership wins in virtually all instances.  Notice that in the bottom line of the graph (no reinvestment), the renters’ portfolio values divided by owners’ sale proceeds is great than 1 for only four of the 32 years of the study.  Thus, when renters are allowed to spend rent savings, home ownership is the clear winner in the wealth accumulation horse race.

Finally, in the same current research, Beracha and Johnson find that allowing for property appreciation rates to increase as much as 20% over their actual historic values results in virtually no change in the outcomes concerning wealth accumulation.  That is, property appreciation contributes only marginally to wealth accumulation.


Without proof many have speculated about this outcome for years.  However, there is now actual quantifiable evidence that home ownership is not the great levered equity creator that it has so often been touted to be.  Instead, it appears that home ownership creates extra wealth mainly through its ability to force owners to save rather than through property appreciation.  Thus, home ownership appears to be a self-imposed savings plan, which through time leads to greater wealth accumulation as compared to comparable renters.  In short, buying a home makes Americans save.

Who says that Americans are horrible savers?  Apparently, we are not.  We have simply been saving through our homes rather than putting our savings in the bank.
For more info: Feel free to call