Ask The Experts | “What is Happening With StreetEasy?”

Question: I am seeing all of this talk about brokerages and StreetEasy… “What is happening with StreetEasy?”

Answer: For years now, brokers have had a love/hate relationship with StreetEasy.

The pros until now have included:

  • For Buyers: Helping to engage the client in the search for their new home, by creating a real-time communication channel with their broker in terms of what they’re seeing and what they like. The site also helped to set clear expectations of what buyers could expect to pay for a certain level of quality, amenities or neighborhood.
  • For Sellers: Helping to level-set pricing expectations by having a real sense of competitor pricing, availability and a sense of comparison to one’s own listing.
  • For Renters: Helping to see in one quick view a majority of rentals available in the market at any point in time, along with setting pricing expectations of what one should assume to pay.

The cons have included:

  • For Buyers: Constantly chasing the next best thing, waiting with bated breath for that alert to arrive in their in-boxes, with the hope that the next listing will do the trick.
  • For Sellers: Giving them the false sense that they could list on their own and that StreetEasy could somehow be a substitute for brokerage services.
  • For Renters: Stale listings used to bait renters into calling the listing agent, or feeling overwhelmed by the sheer number of listings, not knowing which are real.

You see, the name of the game hasn’t been about access or hoarding of knowledge for years. Over the last decade, the brokerage model (for successful players that is) has been defined by a trusted advisor relationship, where the real work happens in the process of getting the deal done. This means strategically preparing the buyer to put their very best foot forward; effectively advising the seller on the right pricing strategy, vetting buyers who are most qualified and would have the highest chance of having the deal materialize. For both buyers and sellers, a broker partner will manage all of the numerous parties involved in a deal (think lawyer, other party, other broker, bank, appraiser, inspector, board, you name it) to ensure no one drops the ball and that the deal actually comes to fruition.

And now, recent platform changes on StreetEasy only serve to highlight the very important role that intelligent, proven and strategic brokers play. These changes are making it difficult to find proper agents online. Furthermore, many brokerages have pulled down their listings altogether which now make searching for a property online woefully incomplete. This doesn’t even touch on the fact that total rental inventory dropped to a fraction of its previous size literally overnight.

Don’t get us wrong: this is not a disparaging post towards StreetEasy. It is a “must-know” reach-out to our readers to highlight the always and ever-present importance of a real partner in the world of NYC real estate. And now, based on these changes, that partnership is even more important to ensure you have access to all of the inventory that’s actually on the market as a buyer, and access to professional marketing support as a seller.

Now, more than ever, your very first search should be focused on finding a real estate broker who can maneuver through the various platforms, in either buying a home or selling it, and manage all the moving pieces to make it happen in your best interest!

Monthly Gem | 135 W. 79th Street, #12C

We often feature shiny new developments as our monthly gems, but they’re not the only kind of real estate that inspires us.  This month, we want to highlight a listing of ours that has truly caught our attention:  apartment 12C at 135 W 79th Street.

There are many reasons why we’re enamored with this 1-bedroom gem.  First is the combination of 10-foot ceilings and abundance of natural sunlight that floods the apartment.  Second are the custom beams and dark hardwood floors which create a wonderful blend of elegance and pre-war charm, augmented by exposed brick walls and custom beamed millwork. (Those looking for modern touches will be pleased by its windowed kitchen featuring dark granite countertops, a Viking four-burner stove-top and a Sub-Zero refrigerator, among other updated features) Third is the location of the Lyons, which is on one of the most desirable blocks on the Upper West, moments away from Central Park. Last, but most definitely not least, is the flexible co-op policy that allows both pied-a-terres and pets.

The combination of these features have created a special place in our heart for this listing, that we’re certain will create incredible memories for the next owner to live here!

Apple Bites | Becky’s Bites

Some people love bacon, others adore ice cream, and others still can’t get enough of cream cheese, one of the main NYC food groups.

If you are one of these cream cheese lovers, we’re about to make your day: Becky’s Bites has just opened in the East Village to much fanfare. A friend of our team is responsible for bringing her love of cream cheese to the masses via her cream cheese bakery, featuring Beckaroos (think dunkaroos but even more addictive), various mini bagels and scrumptious cream cheese flavors (we recommend the bacon, egg & cheese cream cheese) as well as tiny tarts too . And that’s not all: the venue offers a spread of sweet and savory treats, alike.  If this doesn’t excite you, Becky’s Bites can also be found on Seamless – a sweet bite of perfection from your couch.

Her vision is making NYC as famous for its cream cheese as it is for its bagels. Let’s help make her vision a reality … ‘Meet you there!

Team Spotlight | 319 E. 51st Street

As you’ve seen by now, and if you’ve known us for a while, you’ve noticed that we’re light on tooting our own horn. That’s not so say we don’t share moments of pride or particular accomplishments, but we steer clear of more traditional, persistent horn tooting.

We prefer to let our clients tell our story, which is how we’ve built our business over the years – from referrals of clients who have trusted us and, in turn, trust our team with their friends and family to ensure the best experience and the optimal outcome for them.

To that end, we wanted to share a client relationship story that reflects the above, based on a recently signed contract for the townhouse at 319 East 51st Street. We initially sold this property to our dear clients; after renovating it with meticulous attention to detail (and brilliantly, we might add), they entrusted us with their real estate needs, again. After successfully listing the property for them, culminating into a signed contract, we are now helping them find their new home.

To us, a client is more than just one singular transaction and this story is proof that we are committed beyond the transaction. We are committed to you and our relationship over the years, through different market cycles, and frankly through different life cycles as your needs change. We are honored and blessed to fill this role, and we never take it for granted.

Thank you for your long-term support and trust!

 

Date Your City | Rooftop Reds

In case you haven’t heard, rooftops are the thing, the getaway, the perfect place to rise above it all and breathe. Either for a relaxing night out with your friends or a romantic date night, time is ticking to get your rooftop fix in, and no place is better than at the only rooftop vineyard in NYC. Roofs and wine, what is there to regret? Rooftop Reds is making waves in the media and is the “it” thing to go to this summer.  So naturally (because we are hip) we had to highlight this! Rooftop Reds is located at the Brooklyn Navy Yard and has stunning views, pizza, wine, and movie nights (among other events – think ribs and rosé). So don’t let summer pass you by without visiting this only-in-New-York venue!

Ask The Experts | “Ready To Sell” To-Do List

So you read our piece last month about now being the time to plan your sales strategy for the fall, and you’ve decided “yes, I want to list my home in September.” Great! “And I want your team to be my partner.” Even better! “What should I absolutely do now to make my home sell faster when I do list?”

What a great question! We wish more savvy sellers like yourselves would be open to truly embracing the answers to this pro-active question. There are several things to tackle that, if you do so now, will play to your benefit come fall.

  • Have us walk through the property with you. A broker walk-through will give you all of the tips you need to have your apartment look as fresh and appealing as possible when you pull the trigger. This way, you benefit from the daily experience we have showing and viewing properties, to help your place stand out (or at the very least meet the bar) in the market.

 

  • Paint. You know that incredible hue of red you and your partner found together that just screams “you”? Well that’s precisely the kind of shade that may scream “run” to one too many prospective buyers out there. Although it may seem bland and boring, the primary purpose of the paint is to create as neutral a palette for the apartment to appeal to the most number of people. This is not the time to squeeze your creative juices or exercise your interior design courage.   The secondary purpose of the paint is to help the place look crisp and clean, so it pays to hire someone truly qualified to make sure those edges are sharp and the coats are even.

 

  • Fix. You know that chipped baseboard corner that you stubbed your toe on more times than you can remember? Or that cracked mirror in the bathroom? Or how about the nicked kitchen countertop? Now is the perfect time to fix those little things that you think only you notice. They, in fact, accumulate little by little and add up to an “eh” feeling from buyers walking through your property. There should be as little as possible left for anyone to “fix” when buying the place; you want to make the apartment turn-key, making the decision to buy as seamless as possible.

 

  • De-clutter. We’ve said it once, and we’ll say it again, and again, and again. The minute you decide to list your apartment for sale, it is no longer “your” apartment but a product to sell. You are looking to create a neutral space that when others walk in, they think “aaaaah, I can live here.” This means a picture of you on a sailboat or of your parents in Paris shouldn’t bring that vision to a screeching halt. Those kinds of personal items serve as an heavy reminder to others that someone else lives there, an obstacle to their seeing themselves in the space already. Further, look at all of the “things” you have in your place, and try to get rid of 20-40% of it. The extra shelves, the extra side table, the excess seating, the storage containers … and the closet contents, especially the closet contents. You want to leave room for additional clothing to go in there, sending the message “oh, the closet it so big, they didn’t even fill it.” Ultimately, you are looking to create the physical and mental space necessary for others to insert themselves into it. (Yes, we’re often psychologists in our role.)

 

  • Photograph. Schedule a photography session of your apartment now. “Now? But we’re two months away!” you say. Yes, but flowers are in bloom and the light of the summer sun always helps to show your building off, especially the exterior. Further, you benefit from photographers being far more available now, with more flexible schedules, than they are when everyone is rushing to list in the fall. Take your time, do it right, do it when the time suits you best, and you’ll be better off for it.

Apple Bites | Public Kitchen

Jean-Georges has been quite busy of late with the opening up of Public Kitchen in Ian Schrager’s Public Hotel on the Lower East Side. The restaurant is already the hotel’s centerpiece, and it’s only been open since June. The 150-seat venue offers a kaleidoscope of styles and dishes, representing NYC’s “intermingling tapestry of cultures”, as he notes. The corn and basil pot-stickers are precious, the three-cheese pizza comes fresh out of its wood-burning stove, the popcorn-cheddar frico is truly a unique work of culinary art, and the fried chicken sandwich with cherry pepper mayo and yuzu pickles is nothing short of spectacular. Save some room for the chocolate and matcha soft-serve ice-cream while you savor your meal in an enchanting ambiance with a great bar and a lush outside garden. Did we mention that your pooches are also welcome? Take a peek at the menu and you’ll see why Public Kitchen is already a public success.

At The Core | Q2 Market Report Summary

Q2 is now behind us and it’s time to take a look at what it’s telling us.  There’s nothing like diving into the data, itself, to complement anecdotal evidence and get a clear picture of the market.

So, here are some of the take-away sound bites from Elliman’s own 2nd Quarter Report:

  • The average NYC sale hit yet another all-time record of $2.19 M – that’s a healthy margin over the $2 million mark that defines the average price for a NYC apartment … no small feat
  • Strong sale prices were driven by two primary factors: more realistic sellers who have been adjusting to the new norm in the market, and the pent-up demand that we’ve seen from buyers either sitting on the sidelines or trying to buy to no avail during the past year
  • The sheer volume of sales was the strongest in 7 quarters, driven by increased inventory and the fear of rising interest rates looming right around the corner
  • Condos continued to fuel the rise of price-points, overall, and the entry-level market (as defined by the combination of size and price – studios and the sub $1 M price-point) continued to be strong and the arena for the greatest number of bidding wars. To that end, make no mistake about it, the sub $1 million market has been hot, hot, hot!
  • The outlook for the upper end of the market has improved and will be stronger than we think this year, as resale inventory has dropped sharply
  • Interestingly, the share of all-cash sales fell by 4% to 42%, the lowest since this metric began tracking 3 years ago. (Still, we’re always in awe that close to half of all sales are cash – keep this in mind when it comes to making an offer on a place you love.)
  • New development prices nudged up over the past year, as did sales volumes, despite their lower share of overall sales volume, and despite the increase in both time on market and listing discount.

 The bottom line for the last quarter is that buyers and sellers continue finding common ground. Sellers have adjusted to the new market reality, and prices have followed suit.  We are in a far more sustainable phase of this market’s growth now.  Buyers and sellers, both, can expect that focusing on the fundamentals will serve them well.

Monthly Gem | 527 W. 27th Street

This month’s gem is paying homage to the summer, and reveling in the indoor/outdoor experience that is all too often rare in the city.  We’re focusing on Jardim at 527 W. 27th Street.  This West Chelsea development truly is a little oasis in the heart of one of the most dynamic neighborhoods of the city.  Home to Hudson Yards, the High Line, and plenty of galleries, this City nook is rapidly developing into its own destination.  When we say it’s a little oasis, we are also referring to its size of 36 units, ranging from 1 to 4 bedrooms, albeit at a generous average of 2,500 square feet.  Isay Weinfeld designed it to maximize the use of greenery in our concrete jungle (which is also the visual reference of its concrete boxy exterior).  An interior garden, the roof top and its terraces will all be overflowing with trees, plants and hanging, lush greenery.  Its interiors are defined by simplicity and warmth, two attributes that rarely come together in such a complementary way.  Amenities include a stunning indoor pool, a spa-like fitness center with a steam-room and sauna, a children’s playroom, and automated parking.  All of this comes at an attractive, accessible price-point as a contrast to the ultra-luxury new development inventory that has dominated the market for the past several years.  If you’re in the market to buy, Jardim will be well worth a look.

Date Your City | Restaurant Week Returns

NYC Restaurant Week is back!  That’s right boys and girls, it’s time to experience the best of the city’s culinary scene, partake in its incredible offerings, at a fraction of the price:  3 courses – $29 Lunches – $42 dinners (insert cheers and clinking glasses here).  There are a bunch of new restaurants joining in the fun from July 24th – August 18th!

This time around, we’d love to learn from you rather than suggest to you. You heard it right: we want you to tell us where you go and what you liked about your restaurant week treat.  There are so many more of you than there are of us, so we figured “why not tap into some crowd sourced wisdom for a change, and share the take-aways?”  If we get enough critical mass, we can create a little top 10 list that we can share with you all – for readers, by readers.  Further still, if you’re feeling particularly social, send us a pic or two of you delighting in your meal, and we may send you one back of our doing the same. We’d love to see you!