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 are 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 up 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!

Ask The Experts | “How Do I Make My Home Sell Faster?”

Last month, the question we received most was “how is the market?” We hope you have a good sense of what’s happening on the ground in NYC after our last post (which can be found here).  Over the past few weeks, we have heard a consistent set of questions (mostly from referral prospects) around, “how can I make my home sell faster?”  We hope the following helps those among you who are currently looking to sell or on the market, but not getting the results you seek.

We’re going to split our answer into the three driving factors behind the speed of the sale. We believe that the following attributes combined are responsible for how long a property sits on the market.  When you get their combination just right (often as much of a science as it is an art) then you create the perfect storm of selling in a short period of time, for the right price, via an uncomplicated transaction as possible.

Price

First and foremost, pricing is the single biggest factor in determining how long your property is on the market.  Period.  Now that we’ve gotten that proclamation out of the way, let’s expand.

You may have heard us or other savvy brokers say “the market prices your property, not you.”  And this is true – kind of.  Ultimately, “the market” is, indeed, the overarching determinant of how much your property will sell for.  But who is this magical, know-it-all “market”? It’s the sum pool of buyers looking for the kind of property you are selling, and their collective wisdom around what that property is worth.  The more buyers in your market pool, the quicker the market will be to price the property and the more “accurate” it will be in doing so.  There are always outliers, of course, which tend to sway this market price one way or another.  Generally speaking, the market is pretty intelligent.

That said, there are ways to maximize your desired outcome (and there are definitely ways to shoot yourself in the foot).   As the market is made up of human beings, who are not hyper-efficient decision makers individually.  And they tend to influence one another (think herd mentality, group-think and peer pressure).  Natural cognitive biases kick in when stakes are high, which influence market pricing.  This means when people walk into an open house with 20 other prospective buyers walking around, they perk up and feel a need to act if they’re interested.   This also means that if buyers see a property has been on the market for more than four or five months, they feel that something must be wrong with it and don’t include it into the mix.

All of this said, the optimal pricing strategy for a property is to come in at or just below the market price.  This does not necessarily mean that this will be where you end up. It’s easy to say “well, if we start there, then we’ll only negotiate down from there.” Not true!  If you price slightly below the market, the strategy is to get enough volume going to get multiple bids which then drive the price up and shorten the time on market simultaneously. This strategy also maximizes the “new kid on the block” benefit at a right price, by luring buyers in at an attractive price.

Makes sense, right? It still takes some courage or faith that the strategy actually delivers (believe us, it does) and so you shouldn’t be surprised to learn how many sellers price their properties above the market only to see cobwebs form on their listing.  Buyers think they’re not a serious seller, they forego seeing the property, not enough volume generates no offers, and the listing becomes stale in no time, preventing new buyers in the market from seeing it because “something must be wrong with it.” The vicious cycle is fulfilled.

Timing

Timing is everything:  when you list, how often you host open houses in the first two to three weeks of the listing, how often you accommodate buyer viewing requests during that time … all of this matters.  You want to feel a sense of urgency from your broker when you hit the market.  You, in turn, want to make your apartment as available as possible, as often as possible, to give as many buyers the opportunity to include your property into their finalist list.  Volume and frequency are your friends when you list, which is why listing during a peak time makes a difference.  (Remember: once you decide to sell, your apartment is no longer yours; it becomes a product that you must help move.)

Now, on the flip side, if you’re the nicest, smartest kid on the block when few other kids are around, then you can shine, as well.  This requires a modified strategy of maximizing the scarcity of inventory and standing out as the shining star.  Buyers are in the market year-round, some needing to act sooner than later.  There’s always a way to make sure that timing is on your side, and this is where that trusted broker relationship comes in.

Appeal

If you’ve ever seen any cable real estate shows, you’ll be hard-pressed to make it through one episode without hearing about “curb appeal”.  Clearly this is less directly applicable to urban settings but the underlying message still applies:  your property needs to show well.  What does this mean?

It means that buyers need to be able to see themselves in the space; they need to envision themselves living in your place.  Tangibly, this means you must remove as many peculiarities and specificities about you that are in there:  photos of you, eccentric colors that “so express your unique personality”, that funky wallpaper that the two of you picked out on your honeymoon reflecting the inside joke none of your friends ever got … you get the gist.  You need to neutralize your property to make it appeal to as broad an audience as possible.

Further, decluttering is key, as is cleanliness.  You want to create a clean palette that allows others to paint their own pictures of themselves.  Anything stained, torn or broken should be fixed.  Smells should be pleasant (no, you don’t need to bake cookies), and lighting should be inviting.  People make up their minds about a space as quickly as they do about a person: in less than 30 seconds.  “Do I want to continue walking through and discovering this place, or is it not worth my time?”  Eliminate all the possible obstacles to someone saying “no” in their minds.

Especially in this regard, listen to your broker. (S)he sees dozens of apartments every week, if not every day. (S)he has a great understanding of what works and what doesn’t, what will turn buyers off and what won’t.  Once you hire this expert (assuming, of course, you’ve done your due diligence and picked the right partner), listen to him/her.  And if you’re not willing to listen, find someone else, because as fast as this world can move, it’s more of a sprint than a marathon, and you want to make sure you have a trusted advisor by your side, through thick and thin.

At The Core | Now Is The Time To Engage Your Broker

Last month in this section, we strongly advised against betting on NYC, articulating the transition we see occurring in the markets.  Based on the many conversations we’ve had since, this month we’re urging you to engage us if you are in any way considering entering the market as a buyer or seller over the coming months, especially as a seller.  With no further ado, our official headline is “Now is the time to engage your broker!”  There, we’ve said it quite explicitly.

“Why now?” you might ask. “I have plenty of time before the fall.”  It’s very funny for us to talk with clients as they tell us in a relaxed, sit-by-the-pool kind of voice, “we are more than 10 weeks away from Labor Day”, and have us respond in a pot-is-boiling-over voice “you are a mere 10 weeks away from Labor Day!”.  Same facts, different perspectives.

You see, our team believes in being prepared; we believe in doing our homework, being strategic, and doing everything in our power to hit the ground running successfully, selling your property of the highest price we can get you in the shortest period of time.  Doing so doesn’t happen in one week; being prepared takes time, research and planning.

The markets start significantly picking up with the pitter-patter (more often stampede) of buyer feet pounding the pavement, en masse.  We want to capitalize on that increased volume of demand to your advantage starting late-summer, early-fall, when prime listing season beings.  This means:

  • We need to begin talking to you about valuations and real-time trends and metrics we’re seeing.
  • We want to start creating tailored marketing plans that speak to your specific property, in your specific building, in your specific neighborhood.
  • We want an effective narrative that speaks to your target buyers, that’s relevant and impactful.
  • We need ample time to assess any repairs or requisite work that will, in turn, optimally position your property to achieve our objectives.

If you’re even considering upgrading a kitchen or updating flooring, this takes time.  You want to be in the market come fall, not working with contractors and running into the holiday season.

Luck is when preparation meets opportunity, and we like to think that we help our clients maximize their luck of finding “that all-cash buyer” who is looking to pull the trigger next week; or “that quirky family” who wanted that exact ratio of outdoor and indoor living space; or “those empty nesters” who really want that large living area for entertaining in their golden years and don’t care about the small bedroom size.  Real estate is made up of stories that seem anomalous, that seem like the stars all aligned in just the right way to make a deal happen; those lucky sellers!  We like to believe that we create our sellers’ “luck”, and are ghost-writers of such stories …  so long as we have the time and trust to do our jobs the best way that we know how – through hard work, research and preparation.

So let us help all of your stars be aligned and let’s have a conversation sooner than later about how to hit the fall listing season with a magical story of your own!

Apple Bites | We Scream For Ice Cream

I scream, you scream, we all scream for … hot soup!!   Just kidding, of course : )  It’s that time of the year when temperatures rise, skin gets toasty and ice-cream melts in your mouth, not in your hand (wait, that was M&Ms).

We’ve put together a list of new and “hottest” ice cream shops to melt for:

  • 10Below Ice Cream: “New York’s original rolled ice cream” … we didn’t even realize it was a thing, but apparently this made-to-order, low-temp way of serving ice cream makes it, creamier and smoother with less fat. Hah!
  • Dominique Ansel Kitchen: who said that burrata is only for lunch? With their soft-serve ice cream, we can now enjoy our favorite cheese … sweetened and frozen!
  • Maman’s: so typical NY – there are only 50 ridiculously delicious “craft” ice cream sandwiches available and only on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. Go get’em!
  • Van Leeuwen: If you believe less is more, and that the simple creamy texture of a pure flavor is heaven, then walk through Van Leeuwen’s pearly gates.
  • Odd Fellows: However, if you want crazy ingredients, unique toppings and some courageous combos to wake up your taste buds, Odd Fellows will do the trick.

Still haven’t had your ice cream fill?  Then check out this list, as well!  If you happen to visit any of these, take a pic, send it over and let us know what you thought!  We’re happy to share our ice-cream critics’ picks next month, as there will still be plenty of time to share and enjoy!

Monthly Gem | The Bryant

Bryant Park … it’s one of the go-to destinations in NYC, and it’s no wonder.  Its European-style seating, its fountains, its programming and nibbles, they create a year-round draw to the area.  Its location only elevates this destination status, with the diverse shops, public spaces and transportation options that abound in its neighborhood.  It is why we were moved to name as our monthly gem the last available development space on the park and the first in NYC to be designed by the award-winning British architect, David Chipperfield.

Located at 16 West 40th, Street, The Bryant sits high above a new boutique hotel, with nearly every residence enjoying a panoramic city skyline or park views. This is true NY living at the literal center of it all: Grand Central and Times Square are steps away yet un-intrusive. Deceptive simplicity, representative of Chipperfield’s brand, abounds in this impressive new development marked by crisp frames, concealed storage and appliances, herringbone floors and full floor-to-ceiling windows.  The Bryant offers 57 units over 34 full-height stories soaring above the park, itself.  At an average of under $3,000/sq. ft., it’s no wonder that so many of the units are already in contract.  All in, this is one of the more spectacular monthly gems we’ve shared in some time!