Queens Real Estate Market Report: April 2016

Queens real estate market report: April 2017

April 2017 Market Update

The first quarter of 2017 has definitely been interesting. It’s the first time in a while that we’re actually seeing a shift in demand, and while that can be a little unsettling, it also signifies a change that can lead to opportunities in the coming years. Being that my wife & I got into real estate during a buyer’s market (2008/2010) we have yet to see a full real estate cycle. We have experienced the shift from buyer’s market to seller’s market, but we have not seen a seller’s market shift into a buyer’s market. With that said, what we’ve been seeing this year is a slight shift, nothing too pronounced, but definitely enough for us to notice. For example, several of our listings this year have had just 1-3 offers after the first two weeks. This is a stark difference from the 10, 15, or even 20 offers we would get last year and in 2015. We’ve also noticed that some of our listings are taking just a little bit longer to sell. Last year we would put a house or apt on the market and within a week we were probably sending out contracts. This year, we’re making sure that our listings are priced right, and doing more preparation to make sure they look as good as possible.

What this can be attributed to is hard to say, but we’ve taken 16 listings so far this year and seen this reaction on several of them so it may be a trend. Either way, there are still opportunities for buyers and sellers. Buyers may find themselves with less competition and less bidding wars, and sellers will still find themselves in a good position because although inventory is growing slowly, it is still very low.

# Homes for Sale: 3,486 (Last Month: 3,462)
Rate of Sales (Avg sales per mo): 686 (Last Month: 710)
Month’s Supply: 5.1 (Last Month: 4.9)
Avg Days on Market (Residential): 81 (Last Month: 90)
Avg Days on Market (Coop/Condo): 90 (Last Month: 78)
Contracts Written: 611 (Last Month: 705)

*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. Keep in mind that month’s supply can vary by neighborhood and property type.

Interest Rates

Queens NY Interest Rates

Mortgage rates decreased this week. The benchmark 30-year fixed mortgage rate fell 6 basis points to 4.16 percent. The 15-year fixed mortgage rate fell 8 basis points to 3.35 percent.

Check current interest rates here: http://search.queenshometeam.com/idx/mortgage

New One Family Homes for Sale in Queens

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Queens Home Sales

Queens Real Estate Market Report April 2017

The Long Island Board of REALTORS® reported Queens home sales at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of approximately 655 homes during the month of March. This was an increase of 15% percent from February, but a decrease of 4.1 percent from March of last year. Something important to not is the fact that the rate of sales (i.e. avg homes sold per month) has been decreasing every month this year. This coupled with the month over month increases in inventory is leading to an increase in month’s supply every month so far for 2017.

Queens Real Estate Market Report April 2017

Specifically, Residential 1-3 family Queens home sales were down about 4%, Queens Condo sales were up about 32%, and Queens Coop sales were down about 12% compared to this time last year. Over the last 12 months, Queens home sales are down 3.6%.

New Two Family Homes for Sale in Queens

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Queens Home Prices

Queens Real Estate Market Report April 2017

The Long Island Board of REALTORS® reported a Queens median home price of $490,000 in March, this was up 2.3% from February and up 15.3% from March of last year.

Queens Real Estate Market Report April 2017

Specifically, Residential 1-3 family Queens home prices were up about 13%, Queens Condo prices were up about 14%, and Queens Coop prices were up about 12% compared to this time last year. Over the last 12 months, Queens home prices are up 11.8%.

New Condos for Sale in Queens NY

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Queens Housing Inventory

There is currently a 5.1-month supply of housing inventory in Queens, this is up from the 4.9 month supply that we had last month and the 4.3 month supply we had in February. The total number of homes for sale increased about 1% compared to last month. The fact that month’s supply is increasing every month this year is very significant because if this trend continues, it would lead to a shift in the market. For example, a 5-6 month supply is said to be a balanced market, while month’s supply over 6 months is said to favor the buyers. Once you get month’s supply over 8 months or so, you really start to see the difference in supply and demand, and it becomes more obvious that buyers have more of an advantage.

Specifically, there are currently 2,364 residential 1-3 family homes for sale, 330 Condos for sale, and 792 Coops for sale in Queens county. Total: 3,486 Queens homes for sale.

New Coops for Sale in Queens NY

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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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Queens Real Estate Market: 2016 Year in Review + 2017 Market Outlook

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

Year in Review

When it comes to the Queens real estate market, 2016 was an interesting year to say the least. Interest rates remained very low for most of the year, home sales were consistently below 2015 levels, home prices continued to increase at double digit levels, and inventory remained very tight for most areas of Queens. As you can imagine, demand remained very strong last year, especially with all of the publicity that Queens has been receiving.

Most of the houses/apts we sold last year still had multiple offers and ended up selling at or above asking price so the buyers were definitely out there. Constrained inventory however, made it tough for a lot of buyers to purchase and that is likely why home sales were down even with the still low interest rates.

2017 Market Outlook

It’s pretty evident that entry level buyers are looking for affordability, while investors are following the train lines for good rental income and appreciation. We noticed last year that some of our higher priced listings weren’t getting as many offers as they did the year before which was very interesting. On the flipside of that, some of our listings in less talked about neighborhoods were extremely hot and ended up going well over asking price with multiple offers. We expect that trend to continue this year because based on what we see, most Queens’ home buyers are looking for value rather than just to be in the hottest neighborhood.

All in all, even though prices were still rising last year, it wasn’t at the dramatic pace of 2015 and in our opinion that is healthy for the market. 2016 seemed to be more stable, and towards the end of the year, changes were made which could have a significant impact on the Queens real estate market in 2017. With the new administration in office, it will be important to see what housing policies go into effect because they can obviously have an impact on our local Queens’ market.

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Seller Concession: What is it and How does it Work?

by George Herrera, Realtor & Co-Owner of the Queens Home Team at Keller Williams Realty. Supporting content provided by Robert Kaplan, P.C.

What is a Seller Concession?

Put simply, a seller concession is when the buyer and seller of a property agree on a purchase price and then also agree to an additional amount (the concession) to help the buyer with their closing costs. For example, let’s say a buyer and seller agree to the purchase price of $500K but the buyer also requested a 6% ($30K) Seller’s Concession in order to assist them with closing costs. If the Seller agrees to offer them a concession, the actual contracted price would be $530K, however, the additional $30K would not go to the seller, it would actually go towards the buyer’s closing costs. Now, in Western, Central, and Northern Queens, Seller’s Concessions are not very common. However, in South Central Queens and in Southeast Queens it is not uncommon to see offers come in with seller concessions included as part of the terms.

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4 Programs that Queens Home Buyers Should be Aware of

Illustration depicting a sign with a first time buyers concept.

Illustration depicting a sign with a first time buyers concept.

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

We come across aspiring home buyers all the time in this business. Whether it’s young couples browsing around at open houses, people who call us with questions about the process, or even some of our own personal friends who have their own hopes of owning a home, coop, or condo. What we’ve learned from our experience of selling homes here in Queens is that where there’s a will, there’s a way. The reason we know this is true is because we’ve sold homes to buyers with very moderate income but they are determined to buy, and they explore & utilize every resource available to them in order to accomplish their goal. This includes saving money, credit repair, as well as the several first time home buyer programs available in NYC, and in the USA.

Remember, where there’s a will there’s a way. The first step to home ownership is deciding that you ARE going buy a home. Once you’ve made that decision, take the steps necessary to reach your goal. It may take a few years, but if you have a steady job, with decent credit and a little savings, there’s no reason why you can’t make the dream a reality. What I’ve noticed more than anything is that some people are just determined to buy something, and eventually, they do end up buying because there are just so many options out there.

With that said, below is a list of some first time home buyer programs that we’ve seen people use to purchase homes here in Queens. Take a look and then put yourself on the path to home ownership. If you need any help or advice, feel free to Contact Us and we can connect you with one of our Queens first time home buyer specialists…

1. HomeFirst Down Payment Assistance Program

NYC HPD LogoHPD’s HomeFirst Down Payment Assistance Program provides qualified home buyers with up to $15,000 toward the down payment or closing costs on a 1-4 family home, a condo, or coop in one of the five boroughs of New York City.

Who Qualifies?

In order to qualify for this down payment assistance program you must:

  • Be a first time home buyer
  • Complete a home buyer education course
  • Have your own savings to contribute to the down payment or closing costs
  • Meet the program income eligibility (see below)
  • Buy a 1-4 Family Home, Coop, or Condo in NYC
  • Pass a Housing Quality Standards (HQS) inspection before purchase
  • Live in the home for at least 10 years

Income Eligibility

  • Family Size: 1
    • Max Household Income: $50,750
  • Family Size: 2
    • Max Household Income: $58,000
  • Family Size: 3
    • Max Household Income: $65,250
  • Family Size: 4
    • Max Household Income: $72,500
  • Family Size: 5
    • Max Household Income: $78,300
  • Family Size: 6
    • Max Household Income: $84,100
  • Family Size: 7
    • Max Household Income: $89,900
  • Family Size: 8
    • Max Household Income: $95,700

More details about the process can be found online at: https://www1.nyc.gov/site/hpd/owners/homeowner-downpayment-assistance.page

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

2. NYSAR Housing Opportunities Foundation Grant 

NYSAR Housing Opportunities Foundation GrantThe New York State Association of Realtors Housing Opportunities Foundation, Inc. is an organization that was established to create and increase affordable housing opportunities for individuals to overcome the barriers of homeownership. Qualifying individuals apply for grants to assist with closing costs and/or down payments. The grants are gifts with no payback requirement and are available to low–to-moderate income families in New York State.

The Housing Opportunities Foundation has entered into arrangement with the Community Foundation for the Greater Capital Region who will receive and review applicants and award grants throughout New York State.

Who Qualifies? 

In order to apply for this grant you must:

  • Be a first time home buyer
  • Income must be no more than 110% of the SONYMA’s Low Interest Program target income limit for the applicant’s county as posted on the SONYMA website on the day the application is recieved.Details on Income Limits:  http://www.nyshcr.org/Topics/Home/Buyers/IncomeLimits/Programs.htm
  • Home prices must be no more than 110% of the SONYMA Low Interest Rate Program’s TARGET purchase price limit for the applicant’s county as posted on the SONYMA website on the day the application is received. Details on purchase price limits: http://www.nyshcr.org/Topics/Home/Buyers/PurchasePriceLimits/Programs.htm
  • Applicant must be purchasing an owner occupied property
  • Applicant must be working with a Realtor

More details about the program can be found online at: http://www.nysar.com/top-navigation/foundations-and-divisions/nysar-housing-opportunities-foundation/grant-opportunities

Click Here for a List of Exclusive Coops for Sale in Queens NY

3. SONYMA Mortgage Programs

SONYMA LogoParticipating Queens Lenders are: 

CitiBank
Queens
P: (516) 297-0041

Freedom Mortgage
Queens Village, Queens
P: (718) 217-7266

Wells Fargo
Astoria, Queens
P: (718) 310-4321

Elmhurst, Queens
P: (718) 310-4300

Forest Hills, NY
P: (718) 730-6100

Click Here for a List of Exclusive Condos for Sale in Queens NY

4. Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America (NACA)

NACA-logo-flatThe Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America (“NACA”) is a non-profit, community advocacy and homeownership organization. NACA’s primary goal is to build strong, healthy neighborhoods in urban and rural areas nationwide through affordable homeownership. NACA has made the dream of homeownership a reality for thousands of working people by counseling them honestly and effectively, enabling even those with poor credit to purchase a home or modify their predatory loan with far better terms than those provided even in the prime market.

The NACA program begins with attending a four hour workshop which covers the details of the program, and the additional 9 steps needed to qualify for the NACA mortgage. You can search for and sign up for a workshop at: https://www.nacalynx.com/naca/workshop/workshopIntro.aspx

For more details and information about the NACA program and home mortgage, visit:

https://www.naca.com/

Well, we hope that this information is helpful, and more importantly, we hope that you can see how realistic the dream of home ownership is if you make a concious decision, and commit yourself to the process…

If you have any questions or need any advice, feel free to Contact Us.

Site and blog courtesy of George & 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.queenshometeam.com/ | SELL: www.queenshomeselling.com

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.

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

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%.

Click Here for a Free Market Report of your Queens Neighborhood

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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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.

Curious how much your home is worth? Find out now in 15 seconds

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.

Click Here for a Free Market Report of your Queens Neighborhood

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.

Click Here for a List of Exclusive Homes for Sale in Astoria Ditmars

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.

Thinking of Selling? Click here for a Free Consultation

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

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.

Curious how much your home is worth? Find out now in 15 seconds.

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.

Click Here for a Free Market Report of your Queens Neighborhood

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