This Month in Queens Real Estate: JULY 2016

Queens Real Estate Market_July 2016by George Herrera, Realtor & Co-Owner of the Queens Home Team at Keller Williams Realty.

July 2016 Queens Real Estate Market Update 

Queens home sales in June decelerated for the fourth consecutive month. Strong demand and sustained ultra-low mortgage rates continue to overpower constrained inventory levels and a rising median sales price. Prior to March, we were seeing an uptick in home sales, however, since then, we have been seeing sales decline, which can most likely be attributed to the low inventory levels across the county.

  • Absorption Rate: 674 sales/per mo.
  • Current Available Inventory: 3,812 (3,861)
  • Month’s Supply: 5.7 Months
  • Last Month: 5.9 Months
  • Last year: 7 Months

*Month’s supply over 6 months is said to favor buyers, month’s supply below 6 months is said to favor sellers, and month’s supply of 5-6 months is said to be a balanced market.

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Interest Rates

Interest_Rates

Interest rates decreased slightly from the month prior and remain at historically low levels. Mortgage rates have recently declined due to increased uncertainty surrounding the global economy prompted by the UK voting to leave the European Union.

Queens Home Sales

Queens_Real_Estate_Market_Home_Coop_Condo_Sales_2016The Long Island Board of REALTORS® reported Queens home sales at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 674 homes during the month of June. This was an increase of 5.8 percent from May, and a decrease of 8.2 percent from June of last year.

Specifically, Residential 1-3 family Queens home sales were down 1.7%, Queens Condo sales were down 16.4%, and Queens Coop sales were down 15.8% compared to this time last year. Over the last 12 months however, Queens home sales are up 1.4%.

Property-appraisal-buttonQueens Home Prices

Queens_Real_Estate_Market_Home_Coop_Condo_Prices_2016The median home price in Queens reached a record $470,000 in June, which was up 4.4 percent from May and up 19.4 percent from June of last year. The median home price in Queens has increased by nearly $76,250 in the past year alone.

Specifically, Residential 1-3 family Queens home prices were up 11.6%, Queens Condo prices were up 10.5%, and Queens Coop prices were up 2.3% compared to this time last year. Over the last 12 months, Queens home prices are up 7.5%.

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Queens Housing Inventory

There was a 5.7-month supply of Queens housing inventory in June, which remained pretty flat from May. The total number of Queens homes for sale decreased by 12 percent compared to June of last year to 3,812 homes county wide, which was 521 fewer listings than June of last year.

Specifically, there are currently 2,458 residential 1-3 family homes for sale, 365 Condos for sale, and 989 Coops for sale in Queens county.

To put things into perspective, here is a list of active homes for sale in July over the last 5 years:

  • July 2016: 3,812 Queens homes for sale
  • July 2015: 4,333 Queens homes for sale
  • July 2014: 5,760 Queens homes for sale
  • July 2013: 6,123 Queens homes for sale
  • July 2012: 8,429 Queens homes for sale

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Blog Courtesy of George & Abigail Herrera w/the Queens Home Team at Keller Williams Realty Landmark II. 

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How to Throw a Block Party in Queens

block_partyBy George Herrera, Realtor & Co-Owner of the Queens Home Team at Keller Williams Realty.

A Block Party is defined as a community sponsored, public event where there are no sales of goods or services. Block parties are limited to one block and one day. If you have always wanted to throw a block party but just didn’t know where to start, keep reading. This list will give you everything you need to know about throwing your very own Queens Block Party!

Step 1.
Submit Application & Petition

You have to submit your Queens Block Party application at least 90 days in advance of the event. The application process always begins with filling out the necessary form which includes information about yourself, the event date, time, etc. The application typically includes a wide variety of questions from whether you plan to have tents, celebrity appearances, etc. Once your application is submitted, the Street Activity Permit Office (or SAPO) will review it along with your community board and comment on whether the event warrants closure of that block. Most Queens Community Boards will also require that you get the consent of a certain percentage of residents via a petition so that’s a good idea to work on before hand. Below are links to the Street Activity Permit Office site as well as the Block Party Permit Application…

Street Activity Permit Office Home Page: http://www1.nyc.gov/site/cecm/about/sapo.page

Block Party Permit Application: https://nyceventpermits.nyc.gov/cems/login.aspx

NOTE:
A permit can close a street for up to 9 hours, although you can’t party later than 9 or 10pm. In addition, the block you choose to throw your party on must be in the neighborhood where you currently live.

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Step 2.
Approval or Rejection

approved-rejected-stamp-21102653If you want to increase your chances of being approved, it is suggested that you contact your Queens community board first in order to get some guidance and (or) advice on the event. Getting your community board’s support from the beginning will help you as you move through the process. Keep in mind that in general, permits for parties on blocks that are located at busy intersections or on streets where buses run will most likely not be approved. In those cases, your community board may suggest an alternative street nearby or you can plan for that ahead of time and think of a few alternatives. Timing conflicts can be another issue so prepare to have some back up dates as well.

Queens Community Boards: http://www.nyc.gov/html/cau/html/cb/queens.shtml

Click Here for a List of Exclusive Homes for Sale in Queens

Step 3.
Once Accepted

If your application is accepted by the Community Board, it will then go to the NYPD and FDNY for review. Each agency will review your application and check for any permitting issues like sound permits, etc.

Property-appraisal-buttonStep 4.

Trash Removal

trash removalIf you set up and host the block party in your area, you or your team will be responsible for leaving the block the same way it was before the party. There are two ways to ensure this, you can either do your own pre and post party clean up, or, you can hire the Dept of Sanitation to bring in a mechanical broom, collection truck, etc.

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Additional Information you should be Aware Of:

  • A block party is a community sponsored, public event where there are no sales of goods or services. Block parties are limited to one block and one day.
  • Applications must be submitted 90 days prior to the event
  • Applicants must be a member of a block association and given permission by their neighbors
  • Limited to one day and one block
  • Rain dates are not permitted
  • Event must be open to all neighbors on the block; not a private party (e.g. a birthday party)
  • Cannot charge a fee to participate or fundraise
  • You may not sell food or other goods and services
  • Alcohol, vendors, commercial branding and sponsorships are not permitted at block parties.
  • Depending on what you plan to have at your block party, you may require additional permits. All other agency permits must be obtained before SAPO can grant your street activity permit Examples include:
    • Rides and inflatables, such as truck mounted rides and bounce houses require a permit from the Department of Consumer Affairs and insurance. The ride company that you hire should provide this documentation.
    • Petting Zoos or other non-domesticated animals require a permit from the Department of Health and insurance. The stable or farm where you rent the animals should provide this documentation.
    • Raffles or donations require a permit from the Human Resources Administration
    • All amplified sound, such as background music, musical performances or speaking programs, requires a permit from the New York Police Department
    • Generators require a certificate from the New York Fire Department. When generators are over 40kw they also require a certificate from the New York Department of Environmental Protection

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Blog & Site Courtesy of George and Abigail Herrera with the Queens Home Team at Keller Williams Realty Landmark II.

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Two Family Home for Sale in East Elmhurst Queens

by George Herrera, Realtor & Co-Owner of the Queens Home Team at Keller Williams Realty.

What: Two Family House for Sale in East Elmhurst
Where: 31-39 84th St, East Elmhurst, NY 11370
When: Just Listed
Price: $799K

1East Elmhurst Homes for Sale_East Elmhurst Real Estate_Homes for Sale in East Elmhurst NY_East Elmhurst Queens (48)Today we introduce you to the latest Queens Home Team listing for sale in East Elmhurst. This house is a two family semi detached home located at 31-39 84th St. The property’s building size is 18 x 47.56, sits on a 22 x 100 lot, and features a two car garage & full finished basement.

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The House 

13East Elmhurst Homes for Sale_East Elmhurst Real Estate_Homes for Sale in East Elmhurst NY_East Elmhurst Queens (34)As you pull up to the house you’ll notice that it has very good curb appeal, and it is planted on one of those nice tree lined streets where all houses are fairly uniform. This usually gives off a very neighborhood feel as opposed to those streets where you see a 5 story condo next to a single family home. As for the house itself, according to NYC, this house has 1,712 square feet of living space, not including the basement. The first floor features a large eat in kitchen, full bathroom, large bedroom, spacious living room, and small alcove.

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The Layout

9East Elmhurst Homes for Sale_East Elmhurst Real Estate_Homes for Sale in East Elmhurst NY_East Elmhurst Queens (24)There are two entrances into the first floor of the house, one at the front and one at the back. If you walk in through the front entrance you will wak right into a small alcove which can be converted into a small bedroom or office if desired. Keep walking forward and you are in the living room, then you have a hallway on the left and large bedroom on your right. Towards the back of the house you have a large kitchen to your right, full bathroom to your left, and the second entrance. As you walk up the stairs and enter the second floor, you’ll notice the spacious eat in kitchen directly in front of you, a large bedroom & full bathroom to your left, and a very large bedroom/living room to your right.

Property-appraisal-buttonThe Transportation

17East Elmhurst Homes for Sale_East Elmhurst Real Estate_Homes for Sale in East Elmhurst NY_East Elmhurst Queens (41)Within a block of this property you can access the Q33 which provides local service from 95th St in East Elmhurst to 74th St in Jackson Heights. This local bus gets you to the Roosevelt Ave station where you can catch the 7, E, F, M, and R trains.

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The Location

19East Elmhurst Homes for Sale_East Elmhurst Real Estate_Homes for Sale in East Elmhurst NY_East Elmhurst Queens (20)East Elmhurst one of the hidden gems in Western Queens. It’s known for it’s suburban like neighbrohoods, low density living, and proximity to Laguardia Airport. East Elmhurst actually consists if three different subdivisions in two separate zip codes. 11369 is further east beginning at 86th St and moving east all the way to the point where Astoria Blvd meets Northern Blvd. 11370 on the other hand, is closer to Astoria, Woodside, and Jackson Heights. It also encompasses two neighborhoods, Upper Ditmars (north of Astoria Blvd) and the rest of East Elmhurst 11370 (south of Astoria Blvd between Northern and Astoria Blvd). This section is a great neighborhood with plenty of convenience at your fingertips. This particular house is located off of 31st Avenue and 84th St. Two blocks north you have a playground and two blocks south you have Northern Blvd which features an array of grocery stores, restaurants, shops, etc. in addition, seven blocks west of this property you have a large shopping plaza that includes a large grocery store, post office, pharmacy, and much more. Shoot down 31st Ave heading west and you can easily access Woodside, Astoria, and Long Island City.

To schedule a viewing of this property please contact the Queens Home Team Listing Manager at 347-846-1178 or ana@queenshometeam.com

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Blog and site courtesy of George and Abigail Herrera with the Queens Home Team at Keller Williams Realty Landmark II.

George and Abigail Herrera_Queens Home Team at Keller Williams Realty 2_HEADSHOT_ROUNDBUY: www.exclusivequeeenshomes.com | SELL: www.queenshomeselling.com

New Single Family Home for Sale in Astoria Ditmars: 23-74 38th St, Astoria, NY 11105

by George Herrera, Realtor and Co-Owner of the Queens Home Team at Keller Williams Realty.

15Astoria NY Homes for Sale_Homes for Sale in Astoria NY_Astoria Ditmars_Astoria Queens Real Estate_Astoria Ditmars Homes for Sale_11105 (37)Price: $875K

Welcome to the newest Queens Home Team listing for sale. Today we introduce you to a unique single family home in Astoria Ditmars. The property sits on a 20 x 100 lot, detached on all sides, and located at 23-74 38th St. The features of this house are charming to say the least. The layout is ideal, the size is perfect for a family, and the location, well, if you know anything about Queens, then you probably know that Astoria Ditmars is one of the most vibrant & thriving communities around New York City. Access to the N & Q lines at Ditmars Station is merely .3 miles away so transportation is at your fingertips. Take a stroll down 38th St and you will run into the heart of Ditmars Blvd which offers an array of restaurants, grocery stores, boutique shops, and much more. Head west on Ditmars and you will run into one of the most beautiful parks in Queens, Astoria Park. So much to say about the location, but a quick Google search for “Astoria Queens” or Astoria Ditmars” will lead you to endless articles and websites dedicated to this high demand neighborhood with convenient access to everything one can ask for.

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The House

4Astoria NY Homes for Sale_Homes for Sale in Astoria NY_Astoria Ditmars_Astoria Queens Real Estate_Astoria Ditmars Homes for Sale_11105 (18)When you pull up to the house you can immediately notice that this is not your typical one family house. For starters, the house is set back about 75 feet from the street. In other words, you have a huge front yard which includes a deck, garden, and intimate patio ideal for relaxation. In addition, the one car garage, private driveway, and 8 foot trees are towards the front of the house. This is great because it gives you the barriers needed for the much desired privacy people look for in their yard. When you get to the front of the house, you’ll notice that the brick work is very unique to the neighborhood as well. Dark grey bricks give this house a look and feel that is more modern and contemporary than the classic new york red bricks seen throughout the area. As you walk into the house, you’ll notice that these ceilings are much higher than your typical 8 foot ceilings. In fact, these ceilings are 10 feet high on the first floor, and 9 feet high on the second. You can already imagine how airy it feels throughout the house with these high ceilings. As the cherry on top, you have R5 zoning so if you ever wanted to expand the property, the potential is there.

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The Layout

14Astoria NY Homes for Sale_Homes for Sale in Astoria NY_Astoria Ditmars_Astoria Queens Real Estate_Astoria Ditmars Homes for Sale_11105 (25)The layout is typical of a one family home, you walk into an entry foyer with stairs to the second floor on your left, living room to your right, and dining room & kitchen towards the back. The first floor also features a full bathroom and access to the basement. On the second floor you have three full size bedrooms and a second full size bathroom. Several windows throughout the home provide plenty of sunlight in the house. The basement is a full partially basement that would be perfect for an entertainment or recreation room.

Property-appraisal-buttonThe Condition

8Astoria NY Homes for Sale_Homes for Sale in Astoria NY_Astoria Ditmars_Astoria Queens Real Estate_Astoria Ditmars Homes for Sale_11105 (29)
When you walk in the house you will notice that the kitchen, floors, walls, and bathrooms are all in great condition. No work needed here, truly turn key. Everything about this house is beautifully designed for high quality living. The owner has a modern rustic taste that you can notice throughout the home.

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2Astoria NY Homes for Sale_Homes for Sale in Astoria NY_Astoria Ditmars_Astoria Queens Real Estate_Astoria Ditmars Homes for Sale_11105 (23)We truly hope you will come visit this beautiful home because in order to really appreciate it’s charm, you really must see it in person. For additional information or to schedule a viewing, please call George or Abigail Herrera, Realtors and Owners of the Queens Home Team at Keller Williams Realty Landmark II.

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Courtesy of George & Abigail Herrera
G: 718-869-0270 | A: 718-968-5538
E: queenshometeam@kw.com
W: http://www.queenshometeam.com

George and Abigail Herrera_Queens Home Team at Keller Williams Realty 2_HEADSHOT_ROUNDQueens Home Team at Keller Williams Realty | 75-35 31st Ave, Ste 202 | Queens, NY 11370

10 Things you should Know as a Multiple Dwelling Homeowner in Queens NY

by George Herrera, Realtor & Co-Owner of the Queens Home Team at Keller Williams Realty.

20_East Elmhurst Homes for Sale_East Elmhurst New York_East Elmhurst Queens_East Elmhurst NY Real Estate (101)1. Make sure you register your building annually
Owners of all multi family properties are required by law to file an annual Multiple Dwelling Registration form with HPD. This applies to buildings of 3 or more units, and 1- or 2-unit buildings where neither the owner nor family member is an occupant. The annual registration is due by September 1st. Click Here for more information on registering your property with HPD.

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2. How to comply with the Queens housing maintenance code
Queens homeowners are responsible for compliance with the Housing Maintenance Code. HPD’s Division of Code Enforcement responds to complaints made via 311 regarding lack of essential services such as heat and water and housing maintenance problems such as leaks, vermin and broken plaster. Click Here for a list of common Maintenance Requirements for Multi Family Homes in Queens.

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3. How to correct violations

code-violationFor new violations, Queens homeowners may correct the conditions and submit a timely certification, online or in the mail, back to Housing Preservation and Development (“HPD”) per the Notice of Violation. If the violation is overdue, owners must submit a Dismissal Request or Violation Reissuance Request to HPD. Click Here for more information on clearing HPD violations in Queens.

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4. Paying municipal fines and arrears

Queens homeowners must pay their property tax, water, sewer, and Emergency Repair Program (if applicable) bills on time and in full. Failing to do runs the risk of interest charges, property liens, or eventual foreclosure. Click Here for more information on paying municipal Fines and Arrears in Queens.

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5. Go Green!

GogreenImplementing green building and maintenance practices can save you money and help your tenants and the environment. Click Here for the Queens homeowner’s toolkit for saving money by going green.

6. Options for dealing with difficult tenants

The only legal way a building owner may evict a nonpaying tenant who refuses to move voluntarily is through a nonpayment eviction proceeding in Housing Court. Many leases contain “nuisance” provisions that, under certain circumstances, allow building owners to undertake eviction proceedings for objectionable conduct. See Queens Housing Court Answers for more information.

Property-appraisal-button7. What to do if your building is in physical or financial trouble

Queens House Needs WorkTo qualified Queens homeowners, HPD offers low-interest rehabilitation loans in neighborhoods throughout the borough. If your building is already part of an HPD program, our Asset Management team may be able to help. E-mail Assets@hpd.nyc.gov. You can also attend free in person and online classes on property management, heat/hot water systems, and other important topics.

8. Be prepared for a disaster

Effective May 18, 2014, owners of residential Queens multi family properties where at least one unit is not occupied by the owner are required to post a temporary notice with emergency information in the common area of the building:

9. Attend an HPD or DOB Homeowners’ night to have questions answered in person
HPD & DOB’s Public Outreach and Education team regularly participates in informational events for building owners, in communities across the city. Click Here to learn more about Department of Buildings Homeowner’s Night in Queens NY.

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10. There are borough offices
HPD has offices located in each borough to provide services to tenants and owners. Staff from of divisions of code enforcement and neighborhood preservation are there to answer your questions. Borough Service Centers locations.

Blog courtesy of George & Abigail Herrera, Realtors & Owners of the Queens Home Team at Keller Williams Realty Landmark II, one of the highest rated real estate agent teams in Queens County. 

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What it was Like to Buy a Home, after Selling over 150…

by George Herrera, Realtor & Co-Owner of the Queens Home Team at Keller Williams Realty.

Home SoldMy wife & I recently closed on the our very first home and boy was it an experience, especially considering the fact that we are both Realtors ourselves. Even though we’ve sold over 150 homes in our career, the entire home buying process was a huge eye opener for us. From the initial consultation, to the property searching online, to finding the best websites, to viewing homes, putting in offers, negotiating, inspection, title, mortgage, etc. Of course we already knew all of the steps involved, but going through it personally was a huge learning experience that I’m sure will make us much better real estate agents moving forward. This process was so enlightening to us that I decided to write about it. Keep in mind that we made a conscious effort to get the full experience of buying in Queens so I think our learning lessons and Aha’s can help anyone that is looking to buy a home in Queens, whether that is now, or in the future. With that said, I hope you can learn something here that will help you in your own current or future house hunt!

DECIDING TO BUY

Deciding-to-Buy-PicWe actually decided to buy a while ago, but about 2 or 3 years ago, we really put the plans in motion after having our rent raised significantly each year. Just to give you a little background on our situation, we started out renting a 1 BR apt at the Pistilli Grand Manor in Astoria Ditmars back in April, 2008. Our first lease was signed at a rent rate of $1,380/mo, and by the end of it all, we were paying $1,925/mo. In 2013 we decided that we had to make this happen so we met with one of our in-house lenders for some guidance. After meeting with him, he told us that we had one problem, I had just joined my wife as a real estate agent, and we also just formed our corporation that year. So, what that meant was that we would need to be in business for two full years before we could actually get out and start looking at properties. During those two years, we focused on saving, paying debts down, keeping our credit strong, and showing good income on our tax returns. In 2015, our corporation officially turned 2 years old, and this is where our journey began…

My Aha: If you want to own a home one day, make the decision that it WILL happen, and meet with a good lender to find out where you stand and what you need to do in order to buy one day. They will be able to tell you exactly what you need to do in terms of your credit, income, savings, debts, etc. This is the first step, and if followed, I truly believe that anyone can get on the path to home ownership. We actually meet a lot of buyers with moderate income and average credit who are determined to buy, and they do find a way eventually.

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GETTING PRE-APPROVED

preapprovedOnce we were ready to start house hunting, we first wanted to get pre-approved because we as Realtors, know that this is the first step. Being Realtors ourselves, we know the importance of being pre-approved so that Sellers & Agents take you serious, and more importantly, so that if you find the right place at the right price, you are ready to move on it quickly. We’re IN the market on a day to day basis so we know just how fast properties can move when they’re priced right. So, our first objective was to make sure that we were pre-approved by a credible lender. This started with us selecting 4 lenders and having them all give us a pre-approval. We were up front with each loan officer and let them know that we weren’t looking for the cheapest or best deal, we were looking for the best programs based on our goals, and we also wanted to have good service and guidance along the way… So, we received quotes and pre-approvals from all four lenders and then started out on our house hunt…

My Aha: You definitely need to shop at least 3-4 lenders when you’re getting pre-approved. For one, you can immediately tell who is more responsive, who is more thorough, and what their communication style is like. The first impression you get when you’re shopping around will tell you a lot about what you can expect from that lender moving forward. Out of the 4 lenders we shopped, a couple were more email based and a couple were more phone based. One of them even came to our office to meet with us and talk about our future goals, this was very impressive and beneficial. Another one was more thorough than the rest and that was also impressive because it showed me that they knew what they were doing. All 4 of them are great lenders, but we ended up going with the one that gave us the best program. So, you also want to learn about all the programs available from different lenders because much to my surprise, they all had different programs to choose from.

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BUYER CONSULTATION

buyer consultation queens nyIn the real estate industry we have something called a “Buyer Consultation” which is really just a planning session whereby your buyer agent will ask you a long set of questions in order to really understand your needs, financials,lifestyle, must haves, wish list, etc. This is very uncommon in Queens, but we know the value of having one, and we also know that a good buyer agent is very valuable in the process so we scheduled one immediately. We actually hired our own team’s Buyer Specialist (Chris Tomeo) to represent us in the process because we know that he is a Queens neighborhood expert, he is two family home owner himself, and he always looks out for his clients’ best interests. In other words, he has a good heart and always does the right thing regardless of how it affects him. He met with us in the office and took us through the entire consultation process. Much to our surprise, the consultation was extremely enlightening and helpful. We thought we knew exactly what we were looking for, but after the meeting, we realized that we didn’t. For example, before we met with him, I was already thinking of neighborhoods like Astoria, Jackson Heights, Forest Hills, Sunnyside, Woodside, East Elmhurst, Corona, Rego Park, etc. However, after he asked us for the must haves and lifestyle questions, we quickly realized that there were only two neighborhoods which actually offered us the lifestyle we were looking for. I’m sure this saved us so much time because without having that realization we may have been out looking at homes in neighborhoods we wouldn’t even enjoy living in. He also asked us all the questions individually so it was nice to hear what Abi wanted and what were the deal breakers for her. Ultimately what she wanted was most important, however, I did have a few must haves and wish list items as well:) After the consultation, we narrowed the search down to two neighborhoods, Astoria & Jackson Heights. Based on our pre-approval and buyer consultation, we were looking for a Two Family Home up to $950K, or a 1 BR Condo up to $550K. We then gave Chris our pre-approval and told him we were ready to see some houses!

My Aha: Have a buyer consultation with a knowledgeable buyer agent. You may be like us and think you know what you’re looking for, but until you start talking through all your ideas with your partner and(or) family, you really don’t know. The buyer consultation will get you all on the same page, narrow down the properties for you, and ultimately save you a lot of time and money. It’s important that your buyer agent is knowledgeable about the area(s) you’re looking in too because they will be able to guide you to some alternatives based on your needs & lifestyle. Another tip, if the area you’re looking in is in a seller’s market, do not look at properties over your pre-approval amount. Makes no sense because there are very few deals in a seller’s market.

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PROPERTY SEARCH AND SHOWINGS

property-searchI thought this part of the process was very interesting. We sell over 50 homes a year (Majority on the listing side) and most of our marketing is done online so I was extremely curious to experience this side for myself. With that said, I started out by signing myself up for the top real estate websites like Zillow, Trulia, Realtor.com, StreetEasy, and our own website http://www.exclusivequeenshomes.com. I created accounts and set up listing alerts immediately. In addition, our Buyer Agent signed us up for listing alerts directly through MLS and they were set up to come in hourly which was nice. So, at the beginning what I did was go online and look at properties, however, right away I noticed the overwhelming number of properties available. On Zillow, Realtor.com, and Trulia, I would find listings that didn’t match my criteria, and they would be mixed up with several advertisements and calls to action. I get it, but it doesn’t enhance the user experience for me. In addition, I started getting emails with listings that weren’t even close to what we wanted, and also started getting promo emails which were just annoying. In the end, I was just using StreetEasy and our own website (www.exclusivequeenshomes.com because they were the most user friendly sites in my opinion. When we would see a listing we liked, I would send it to our Buyer Agent who would then reach out to the listing agent directly and coordinate a showing for us. We were looking in our two neighborhoods, but ultimately we really wanted to be in Astoria Ditmars (11105) so that’s where most of our searching took place. I would say that we looked at a total of 7-8 houses total, and I think that was due in large part to our buyer consultation, our must haves, and our realistic expectations. For example, in 2015 two family homes in Astoria Ditmars were going for $950K – $1.3M. That means we were on the low end, and what it really meant was that we would need to be very realistic in terms of what we could get for our money. Therefore, we already set ourselves up for a house that was going to be small, and probably need some work. Our goal was to find a property in a good location, and then jump on it quickly to lock in the deal!

My Aha: Pictures are extremely important, but unfortunately most Agents have not caught on to that. The amount of bad pictures out there is unbelievable, and while you can still sell your house with bad photos in a seller’s market, it will not be so easy when it becomes a buyer’s market again. I also experienced something that I already knew was very common in Queens, Listing Agents who don’t cooperate with buyer agents. Our agent was able to get us in to see any property we liked because we knew we had the right to be represented, but for the most part, it’s just sad and unfortunate that listing agents act like this when there are serious buyers out there who just want an agent on their side. Another Aha was that property descriptions are actually very helpful when written properly. In addition, I would say find a few sites that you like and then use those as your main sources. Too many listing alerts will probably just end up confusing you.

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NEGOTIATIONS & INSPECTION

hAfter seeing about 7-8 houses, we were starting to realize that what we wanted was going to be tough. We had already put in about 3-4 offers, but all were lost in the mist of multiple offer situations. In any case, we charged on and kept looking. Just FYI: I was the one doing all the searching, then I would tell Abi we had a potential and take her to see it:) So, one day I was looking online and I came across a brand new listing, two family attached, asking $950K, and just one block from where we live now! I showed it to Abi and she jumped out of her seat. She saw the pictures and immediately started saying “this is the one, I think this is the one”. I wasn’t as excited because I wanted to be within a half mile of the train, and it didn’t have a basement. However, I was running by the must haves and the numbers so I had no problem compromising. We sent it to Chris who scheduled a viewing immediately. We actually had some hope this time because the property was not a public MLS listing, it was actually a private listing (or Office Exclusive). What that means is less competition when you go in for the deal. Unfortunately this doesn’t benefit the Seller, but it did work in our favor. So, we saw the house on a Wednesday, and right after the viewing, we wrote up an offer. I wasn’t sure myself, but Abi gave me the “I want this house” look so we asked if we could make an offer. Our agent had a Binder on hand and we had three pre-approvals with us, so we wrote up the offer and submitted it that night. Now, going into the negotiations, we already knew that we had practically no leverage because of our terms and market conditions so we were not going to be picky with the price. Ultimately, there was a little back and forth, but we were able to get an accepted offer at a really great price, below asking price which is almost unheard of in Astoria. After getting news of the acceptance, we immediately scheduled the inspection because we did not want to waste any time. We had the inspection done, and within a day or two we had the full report on hand. Luckily there were no major damages or big ticket items flagged in the inspection so we did not make a big deal about anything. We simply told the agent and our Attorney that we were ready to sign!

My Aha: My big Aha here is not that much of an Aha because I do all of the negotiating for our Seller clients, and at the end of the day negotiations are all about leverage. So, I guess the aha is to understand how much leverage you have at the negotiating table. For example, if the area you are looking is in a buyer’s market, or if the property has been on the market for a while, then you probably have more leverage. However, if you’re looking in neighborhoods with low inventory and high demand, you have to come to the realization that you pretty much have no leverage. Either way, your agent can help you determine how much leverage you have with each specific property. So, know what leverage you have, and be realistic about it, otherwise you may end up losing out on a property that could have been the right one for you.

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MORTGAGE & CONTRACT-TO-CLOSE PROCESS

If I went on from this point, I’m afraid this post would become much too long. However, I will say that the mortgage process was very straight forward and transparent, especially due to the new truth in lending act. The new loan estimates and excessive disclosures were very effective in helping me understand what was happening, what we were getting, and what we were paying for. It was definitely a long and drawn out process, but we expected that since we’ve seen it time and time again. As for our real estate attorney, we would not be happier! Our real estate attorney was the same firm who we refer all of our clients to because they are so effective at communicating, educating, and guiding people through the process. We had blind faith in our attorney because they are like family to us, and fortunately, we received the same high level service that our clients get. We always knew what was happening, and when issues did arise, our attorney helped us resolve them quickly in order to keep the deal moving forward. Our loan officer was also very responsive and anytime I sounded anxious in an email or text, he called me personally to assure me that everything would be fine.

My Aha: If you find a good lender who is honest, knowledgeable, and responsive, you will be surprised at how smooth the mortgage application process can be. Don’t get me wrong, it was super nerve racking, but our loan officer was always there to calm us down and prepare us for potential issues. On a similar note, if you find a really good real estate attorney who is also honest, knowledgeable, and responsive, you will have very little hassle with the contract, appraisal, and title process. Your attorney is the person that should be looking out for your best interest, legally, so make sure you find someone good. Lastly, if you find a good real estate agent who cares about your goals and listens to your needs, you will have a someone who is always on your side, and constantly pushing people to make sure nobody is dropping the ball. We’ve seen it a lot in the past, and sometimes, the buyer agent is actually the one that gets everyone to the closing table.

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POST CLOSE

This will be a future blog post because we are currently in the process of renovating the house before we move in and I can’t begin to tell you how much we are learning in the process. At this moment, my wife and I are tired, worried, and extremely anxious about the renovation work. We’re curious to see what this thing looks like after all the work is done. It’s alot, but it will all be worth it when I can kick my feet up on watch tv on my new couch, in our brand new house! Stay tuned, Ahas will come shortly…

Blog & site courtesy of George & Abigail Herrera, Realtors and Owners of the Queens Home Team at Keller Williams Realty Landmark II.

George and Abigail Herrera_Queens Home Team at Keller Williams Realty 2_HEADSHOT_ROUNDBUY: www.exclusivequeenshomes.com | SELL: www.queenshomeselling.com

GEORGE: 718-869-0270 | ABI: 718-968-5538

Queens Real Estate Market: February 2016

Queens_Real_Estate_Market_Update_FEB_2016by George Herrera, Realtor and Co-Owner of the Queens Home Team at Keller Williams Realty.

Queens Real Estate Market Update: February 2016

Home sales dropped in January which is somewhat typical considering the fact that there’s usually a big rush to close by end of year. Sales in January were down from December, but very similar to those of last January. As for Prices, they continued to rise and will most likely continue increasing throughout 2016, however, at a much more modest pace than that of 2014 and 2015. Inventory at the moment is still low, but still at a fairly similar level to that of last February. It will be interesting to see what happens this Spring which is typically when we see more homes hit the market…

Absorption Rate: 747 sales/per mo.

Current Available Inventory: 3,521

Month’s Supply: 4.7 Months

Last Month: 4.7 Months

Last year: 5.6 Months

*Month’s supply over 6 months is said to favor buyers, month’s supply below 6 months is said to favor sellers, and month’s supply of 5-6 months is said to be a balanced market.

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Queens_Real_Estate_Market_February_2016_Courtesy_of_George_and_Abigail_Herrera_Keller_Williams_Realty_Landmark_2Interest Rates

Interest rates declined slightly in January as struggling equities markets created downward pressure on the safe haven assets that heavily influence mortgage rates. Currently, Freddie Mac reports the following figures: 30-year fixed rate, 3.81%; 15-year fixed rate, 3.10%; 5/1-year adjustable rate, 2.91%.

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Queens Home Sales

Queens_Real_Estate_Market_Home_Coop_Condo_Sales_FEB_2016_1The Long Island Board of Realtors reported home sales at a seasonally adjusted rate of 625 homes in January. This number was very similar to those of last January (2015) which reported sales of 626 homes. Sales in January were actually down 19.8% from the previous month but pretty much the same year over year. Over the last 12 months, sales are up 1.7%, that may seem like a minor figure, but considering that sales were down for most of 2015, this can be very significant if the trend continues. Specifically, Residential home sales are up 4.8%, Condo sales are up 2.4%, and Coop sales are down 3% over the last 12 months.

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Queens Home Prices

Queens_Real_Estate_Market_Home_Coop_Condo_Prices_FEB_2016_1The local median home price for Queens in January was reported to be $440,000. This was an increase of 4.8% from the previous year and .1% from December. As you can see, the increases are not as dramatic as they were in 2014 and for most of 2015. This is pretty consistent with what we’ve been seeing recently out in the field. There seems to be a steadiness in terms of prices, definitely nowhere near what we were seeing in 2014 when prices were practically skyrocketing. Over the last 12 months, home prices are up 7.7%. Specifically, Residential home prices are up 4.8%, Condo prices are up 11.1%, and Coop prices are up 5%.

Property-appraisal-buttonQueens Housing Inventory

The actual number of homes for sale in February fell to 3,521. That is down .5% from January and down 11.7% compared to the same month of the previous year. This combined with the decrease in home sales from December led to the months supply of inventory, which measures the relationship between supply and demand, to remain steady at 4.7 months. There are several variables, both local and domestic, which can affect the market here in Queens, however, It will be interesting to see how many new homes hit the market this Spring.

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Blog Courtesy of George & Abigail Herrera, Realtors and Owners of one of the Highest Rated Real Estate Agent Teams in all of Queens County!

George and Abigail Herrera_Queens Home Team at Keller Williams Realty 2_HEADSHOT_ROUNDBUY: www.exclusivequeenshomes.com | SELL: www.queenshomeselling.com

Original Article: http://blog.queenshomeselling.com