Nest Seekers International

residencyNY Roundtable – April, 2014

Ryan SerhantRyan Serhant
Elizabeth Lee SampleElizabeth Lee Sample
Louise Phillips Forbes
Maria Babaev

Ryan Serhant, Nest Seekers International
Elizabeth Lee Sample, Sotheby’s International Realty
Louise Phillips Forbes, Halstead Property
Maria Babaev, Douglas Elliman

 

Give us your view of the impact the international buyer has had in the NYC luxury residential market, and what you do as an agent to manage the expectations, perspectives, and needs of such a diverse marketplace of customers?

 

ryanthumbRyan Serhant: The real estate market in Manhattan follows the currency market.  When the dollar is cheap for one country, we see many buyers from that country buying real estate.  Any strong broker in the city follows the FX market and reacts accordingly as it moves.  Foreign money provides liquidity for the property market in New York, which allows for faster appreciation, relatively speaking.  To take advantage of new investors, we educate them on the tax advantages, process of ownership, and property management (a service we provide in-house for all clients). Very rarely do I call myself a “real estate agent” in front of foreign buyers.  To gain their trust, I am an international property investment advisor.

samplethumbElizabeth Lee Sample: The International buyer has a different perspective to our market then we do. They see the pricing in other major capital cities and realize the upside potential of NYC real estate. It is also viewed as a safe haven for investment. As a result the competition for premiere properties is evident by our current supply.

forbesthumbLouise Forbes: Just ten years ago the high-price apartments were coops.  However, the financial requirements and strict house rules around subletting kept foreign buyers out for the most part.  Enter the rise of the luxury condominium.  “If you build it, they will come.”  This development boom began with buildings like the Time Warner Center in 2003 that captured $3,571 per square foot for the apartment on the 76th & 77th floors and The Park Imperial at 230 West 56th Street, but now includes One Madison Avenue, 157 West 57th Street, 15 Central Park West, 432 Park Avenue, The Plaza, and 50 United Nations Plaza, soon to be home to a $100M apartment.  These exclusive buildings, among many others, offer privacy because there is far less financial disclosure required, and they have quickly established a new kind of exclusive club where the only qualification is extreme wealth.  As a result the foreign wealth has had a dramatic impact in transforming our market place setting record-breaking prices. The demand has elevated what is being built.  These opulent condo buildings provide the ultimate in luxurious living from outstanding amenities to sophisticated finishes and materials in apartments designed by renowned architects.  Even the wealthiest and most discerning of New Yorkers have recently aspired to buy a luxury condo and join the ranks of the international elite.  It is my job to financially qualify the buyer, educate them accordingly, and introduce them to the wide range of high-end developments citywide.

marianthumbMaria Babaev: In my opinion, the international buyer has a major impact on the NYC residential market. Specifically in the luxury segment of the market place, we’ve recently witnessed record breaking numbers with international buyers driving the sales. Global buyers continue to invest in real estate, often in second and multiple homes while looking for unique and special properties — limited supply of which attribute to healthy activity and increased prices in NYC. For today’s real estate professional it is extremely important to manage the expectations, needs and wants of international buyer and act as a trusted consultant to provide unique insights into the state of the NYC luxury real estate market. Overall, to have an experience and expertise not only to discuss record and average luxury home prices, inventory, and housing market supply, but also to be sensitive to buying trends, client profiles, and lifestyle amenities that shape the luxury segment of the market.

 

The outlook on the US financial markets isn’t overly optimistic; how does this impact the international buyer? How deeply do the  European or Asian stock markets affect the appetite to invest here in NYC Real Estate, and what other factors have you seen make our market more appealing?

samplethumbElizabeth Lee Sample: The US financial markets are not currently affecting purchasers of NYC real estate based on our experience. I feel the overseas financial markets have driven international buyers to live and invest in New York City.

forbesthumbLouise Forbes: The outlook on the U.S. market is always changing… it depends on the day and the news source.  But regardless, I don’t believe it has a negative impact on the international buyer.  NYC has always weathered volatility better than other international cities like London and Dubai.  Even within our own domestic boarders during the recent recession, NYC faired much better and with far less severity than other cities.  Additionally, many countries have unstable infrastructure, stringent government regulations including higher taxes and strict guidelines around cash leaving the country, threats of war, etc., so they recognize the long-term value in owning a piece of the rock.

For the past three decades I have watched the ebb and flow of stock markets and witnessed the safe haven of NYC real estate.  Owning a piece of the rock is a great place holder for money and protects their investment from volatility in the stock markets.  Only 33% of the NYC inventory is available for ownership creating a very healthy efficiency in our real estate market with respect to value.  Additionally, at one point, cities like Miami and Las Vegas had an investor profile as much as 62%, while NYC is only 6% investor concentration making it much more appealing.

marianthumbMaria Babaev: Real estate trends are driven, by global and US Financial Market trends as well as political currents. From the fluctuation of the stock market to concerns regarding global political events, international financial factors affect residential real estate spending.  Even with the outlook of the US Financial Markets isn’t overly optimistic – US still remains a “safe haven” for global buyers. In fact, Real estate is one of the most important storage of wealth in the economy. International buyers tend to hold wealth in their homes rather than in stock market.

In addition, the luxury housing market remains insulated from money flows and political shifts, as these concerns are less likely to determine the purchase of a luxury home for the high net worth international buyer around the globe. NYC remains top city on the list in which international buyers feel comfortable investing their money, despite the economic downturn. In that context, luxury residential purchases, even trophy properties, can be considered a conservative investment. Many buyers both local and international  are purchasing and enjoying a home instead of counting on return on investment in the stock market. Recent changes to tax laws in some countries have impacted market activity and is just another factor that make our market more appealing.

ryanthumbRyan Serhant: The international buyer invests in real estate here in New York City for reasons beyond financial return. More often than not, they purchase here to secure a good education for their children or an opportunity for citizenship, as well as to expand their portfolio. If the stock markets are proving to be too unsteady, they will likely move their investments into something more stable and less risky. Even during the midst of the financial crisis, when the entire country’s real estate market was at a collaborative standstill, Manhattan’s market was still performing relatively steady when compared to the rest of the nation. It also was one of the first markets to recover and recover quickly, which is an attractive feat for any investor looking to invest in NYC real estate. As for any investment, investors will always have to assess the risk — the fact that NYC’s market can recover at so quickly certainly provides investors with some level of comfort.

What features make a residence more appealing to one demographic group more than others? For example, this may include feng shui elements such as apartment number or construction to other elements such as home staging or amenities.  

forbesthumbLouise Forbes: Some focus on luxurious living in a specific location, while others are more concerned with finding the right space.  They tend to prefer apartments and rooms on a grand scale that are fully renovated and they are prepared to pay a premium for it.  They aren’t interested in managing a renovation project from afar, they want to buy and move in, which is why they respond very well to nicely staged apartments.  Aesthetic is everything!

ryanthumbRyan Serhant: A lot of my Chinese investors will immediately disregard an apartment that they feel has “bad flow”. An apartment that has good feng shui can be as important to them as its amenities are for us. They firmly believe that an apartment with good flow (whether with the construction or placement of the apartment within the building) will promote good fortune. Apartment numbers or floors can also be a deciding factor. My Asian clients prefer if the numbers three or eight to be attached with the investment that they make. The reason being that “three” is often linked to “health” and “eight” to “prosperity” in the Chinese culture. If it comes down to two very comparable properties and its time for them to make a decision, they will likely lean towards the apartment numbered 1808 than apartment 1809.

marianthumbMaria Babaev: We do see that certain demographics are seeking specific features, for example Chinese buyers are influenced a lot by the art of fengshui as well as even house or apartment number. I find that international buyers are value-driven and look for luxury homes with large open spaces, a lot of natural light and finished to exceptionally high standards. Prime locations, architectural excellence, latest finishes, incredible views, high ceilings, an en suite bathroom for each bedroom, massive master bedroom suites, a gym, home office, a meditation room, movie theater, balconies, and terraces  – just to name a few features that can be found on the requirements list of the global buyers.  Overall, the residence must be great for large-scale entertaining but also very comfortable for the simple moments of everyday living.

In the last 18 months I have seen the new wave of international buyers coming into the market place. Most of them have an apartment in Manhattan or Miami, but when they move families out of their countries – they show great interest in luxury suburbs such as Gold Coast Long Island or Greenwich, Connecticut. Proximity to Manhattan, excellent school districts, private golf and tennis clubs, equestrian estates, dining and shopping establishments, fantastic parks and gardens and overall infrastructure — are the driving forces to this market’s desirability.

samplethumbElizabeth Lee Sample: That completely varies from buyer to buyer. One may want a grand mansion while another must have a view.

 

What are a few general challenges an agent will encounter when representing an international buyer and/or seller, and how do you overcome them?

samplethumbElizabeth Lee Sample: I feel that the complexities and rules of the cooperatives and condominiums are not fully understood by the international buyer

ryanthumbRyan Serhant: The language barrier can certainly make things a little more difficult sometimes, but fortunately I work with a multi-cultural team and can always count on their assistance when needed. There are a lot of moving parts involved in a foreign transaction on top of the already intricate nature of Manhattan’s real estate market, so it is critical that I always keep an open line of communication with my foreign buyers and sellers so they can feel more at ease when performing what may be the largest transaction in their life.

marianthumbMaria Babaev: I find that the biggest challenge an agent will encounter when representing an international buyer is to serve not just as a real estate broker facilitating a transaction but to be the link to the entire team of professionals such as real estate attorneys, inspectors, designers, tax advisors, immigrations attorneys, etc. For an international buyer the purchase of a property is so much more than just a standard closing and title search, – it’s a lifestyle change and adaptation to the new country and its customs and ways of doing business. So I am, as a real estate broker, always act as a trusted advisor and the source of the source of the entire chain of qualifies professionals to provide the best experience to the buyer thru the international real estate transaction.

forbesthumbLouise Forbes: Sometimes language and culture can be challenging so occasionally I use translators to make it a more comfortable and productive experience.  Additionally, foreign buyers often have pre-conceived ideas (that are usually outdated) about New York real estate as it relates to neighborhoods.  For example, they will want to live in a five block radius of Madison Avenue because they think that’s the only high-end shopping area.  They aren’t aware of how the city has evolved in almost every segment.  So one of the first things I do is emphasize the importance of the education process to establish realistic expectations.  In order to obtain a successful transaction, they have to understand their financial qualifications for coop vs condo, investment vs primary residence, accessibility to cash and guidelines for removing it from their country, etc.  And just like American buyers, I have to find the balance between priorities.  One partner tends to be more focused on value & investment, while the other is concerned with proximity to schools & shopping.

Do you find certain international buyers prefer to purchase in certain seasons, and is there a time of year when buyers tend to be more domestic?

ryanthumbRyan Serhant: Unlike the rental market, which is always significantly more active during the Summer months, I work with active purchasers all year round. Historically, there is always a spike in market activity in the Spring, but I would attribute that to the seasonal affect on personal behavior rather than the internationality or domesticity of a transaction. I’ve taken clients on tours in the middle of a blizzard to see apartments the same way as I would in the spring or summer time. Serious international buyers will fly in and want to see apartments despite what the weather is like.

forbesthumbLouise Forbes:  Based on my experience, international buyers are most active between March & August, especially the Europeans, who are focused late spring/early summer.  For real New Yorkers, with respect to buyers, July & August is usually a reprieve from pounding the pavement, which makes the fall season extra exciting.  Interestingly, the cycle has shifted since the recession.  November & December are now one of the most competitive and active times of the year.  In fact, this past December I was managing seven contracts during the week of Christmas!  As a result of the 2010-2012 shift in bonus payments and adjusted cash distributions on Wall Street, moving from 50-90% cash to 30% cash, deferred income through restricted stocks weighs heavier.

samplethumbElizabeth Lee Sample: Our Fall and Spring seasons are the busiest as are the auction houses. That goes for international as well national clients.

marianthumbMaria Babaev: Frankly, I don’t see pronounced purchasing seasons anymore, not even for domestic buyers. However, in the last few weeks right after Chinese New Year I had a lot of activity and showing requests from Chinese buyers and brokers as a lot of families are visiting New Year for a Chinese New Year celebration and they are actively looking for properties both in Manhattan and the luxury suburbs.

 

If you can, share the most interesting experience you¹ve ever had working with an international client.

forbesthumbLouise Forbes: I had a particularly interesting deal that was also an eye-opener with respect to post-contract management of a deal for a foreign buyer.  Most recently I worked with a gentleman from India who purchased an $11M condo. Because it was new construction, we had a delayed closing.  After the contract was signed, I had limited access to my client once he returned to his home country, and the exclusive agent had moved on to other deals.  It became my responsibility to protect my buyer from a temperamental developer and project manage the completion of his apartment, which included multiple appointments with his designer.  There is a lot of hand holding and going beyond the usual scope of work when the buyers are not living full-time in the United States, but if you are willing to commit to the extra time, the advantages can be very fruitful.  This buyer was so pleased with how we managed the deal completely from start to finish, he has since recommended several new clients.

ryanthumbRyan Serhant: They’re each interesting in their own respect. I’ve worked with clients who would fly into New York City every couple of months and bring a different group of friends and colleagues with them each time who are all interested in purchasing here, each group larger than the last up to the point where I had to rent a bus to accommodate them. I’ve also worked with clients whom I closed a deal with while they were still overseas and not meeting until months after the fact and I get to introduce to them the multimillion dollar home they purchased for the first time. I just did a deal through Instagram with a business man in South Africa.  (The deal was done by email via attorneys, but the initial meet and greet was all on Instagram.) Each experience is definitely a learning experience for me and I continuously look forward to next one.

marianthumbMaria Babaev: I think that the most interesting and rewarding experience while working with an international client is once you earn their trust, they become your client for life and not just in your immediate market place. They expect that you can provide professional guidance for their purchases in other parts of U.S. and abroad.  I also find that for some international buyers their first purchase is a “trial one,” and most of them will buy a bigger and better, more expensive property shortly after the first transaction. So it is extremely important to provide exceptional service, to become a trusted advisor and develop a great business relationship to get the client for life.

 

REBNY 25TH ANNUAL RESIDENTIAL DEAL OF THE YEAR AWARD

As a media sponsor and proud partner of REBNY, residencyNY Magazine congratulates the Real Estate Board Of New York on a fantastic event, and salutes the many winners, both with and without awards, that make our community special.

Jeffrey Rothstein of Douglas Elliman receives Henry Forster Award for lifetime achievement. Heather Stein of Brown Harris Stevens Residential Sales receives top sales prize.

All photos by Gotham Photo Company.

Miriam Harris, Executive Vice President of Real Estate Transactions at New York City’s Economic Development Corporation presents the proclamation from Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg that declared October 24, 2013 REBNY Residential Division Day.

Miriam Harris, Executive Vice President of Real Estate Transactions at New York City’s Economic Development Corporation, presents the proclamation from Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg that declared October 24, 2013 REBNY Residential Division Day.

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Jim Gricar, Sara Rotter, Diane Ramirez and Richard Grossman

Stephe Kliegerman

Stephe Kliegerman

Dottie Herman, Jeffrey Rothstein, Diane Ramirez, Judith Oston, Abby Gellert and Jim Gricar

Dottie Herman, Jeffrey Rothstein, Diane Ramirez, Judith Oston, Abby Gellert and Jim Gricar

Lisa Larson and Frederick Peters

Lisa Larson and Frederick Peters

Ellie Johnson, Suzan Kremer, Alfred Renna and Nan MarElia, J. Roger Erickson

Ellie Johnson, Suzan Kremer, Alfred Renna and Nan MarElia, J. Roger Erickson

Heather Stein and Peter R. Marra of Brown Harris Stevens

Heather Stein and Peter R. Marra of Brown Harris Stevens

Diane Ramirez, Judith Oston Barbara

Diane Ramirez, Judith Oston Barbara

Barbara Fox and Lori Huler

Barbara Fox and Lori Huler

Heather Stein, Suzan Kremer, Lisa Larson and Judith Oston

Heather Stein, Suzan Kremer, Lisa Larson and Judith Oston

 

Jeffrey Rothstein

Jeffrey Rothstein

Dottie Herman, Suzan Kremer, Ken Haber, Neil B. Garfinke

Dottie Herman, Suzan Kremer, Ken Haber, Neil B. Garfinke

Suzan Kremer, Luis D Ortiz

Suzan Kremer, Luis D Ortiz

James Gricar, Gerald Makowski

James Gricar, Gerald Makowski

Ilan Bracha and his team

Ilan Bracha and his team

Ryan Serhant, Jessica Campbell

Ryan Serhant, Jessica Campbell

Sarah Williams

Sarah Williams

Jeanne Oliver Taylor, Rich Cave, Gregory Frank, Nik Kolidas

Jeanne Oliver Taylor, Rich Cave, Gregory Frank, Nik Kolidas

Gerald Makowski, Diane Ramirez, Peter Grazioli

Gerald Makowski, Diane Ramirez, Peter Grazioli

Michael Sorrentino, Gary Malin, Alicia Marenzana, Jay Heydt, Corlie Ohl, Danny Charles, Peter J. Sobeck

Michael Sorrentino, Gary Malin, Alicia Marenzana, Jay Heydt, Corlie Ohl, Danny Charles, Peter J. Sobeck

Shlomi Reuvini,Pamela Liebman, Paul Wexler, Bess Freedman, Gene Martinez

Shlomi Reuvini, Pamela Liebman, Paul Wexler, Bess Freedman, Gene Martinez

Mickey Conlon and Tom Postilio

Mickey Conlon and Tom Postilio

Rich Cave, Nik Kolidas, Cheryl Eisen, Gregory Frank, Harry Armon

Rich Cave, Nik Kolidas, Cheryl Eisen, Gregory Frank, Harry Armon

Andrea Daniels, Deborah Lupard, Karen Gastiaburo, Lisa Larson, Marc Palermo, Claire Groome and Doug Williford

Andrea Daniels, Deborah Lupard, Karen Gastiaburo, Lisa Larson, Marc Palermo, Claire Groome and Doug Williford

Heather Stein

Heather Stein

Eric McCarthy , Kristin Thomas ,Wendy Maitland, Ari Lefauve

Eric McCarthy , Kristin Thomas ,Wendy Maitland, Ari Lefauve

Nicole Beauchamp

Nicole Beauchamp

Sales STORIES in the City

Top producers across NYC share some of their favorite sales stories.

NICK JABBOUR, CRS, Nest Seekers International

I was with a longtime client viewing a $7 million boutique condo conversion on the Upper East Side. My client, a hedge funder, had come on his lunch break and was in full suit, as was I.

The project was under construction and had plywood and fencing on the front. We went upstairs to view the penthouse, and during the time that we were there the construction crew finished up for the day, locking the fence and plywood gate from the outside with a chain and padlock. We went to leave and found that we were, in fact, locked inside.

The selling broker made frantic attempts to reach the foreman, but with no luck. After about 30 minutes, someone did come by with what they believed was the key, but it wasn’t the right one. Tensions growing higher, with the need for the client and I to return to work, we began to look around for things we could use to get over this eight-foot fence.

Finally, the client and I began assembling a teetering staircase of sorts, composed of bags of concrete, a toolbox, two buckets, and cinderblocks made it to a point that we were able to straddle the fence (again, both in suits) and launch ourselves onto the ground. We both landed feet first, luckily, and took off, leaving the selling broker to figure out what to do on his own.

Needless to say, this property wasn’t the one.

Susan Holman, AKAM

A number of years ago, I was selling a two-bedroom in a Lenox Hill high-rise co-op. The owner was a European avante-garde sculptor who lived in Germany, and the place showed like a dungeon even with bright sunlight coming through. The whole interior was comprised of trendy black spray painted pieces of furniture that looked like they were used for submission and domination play. It was hilarious to see how varied the clients’ reactions were. Some were so polite they pretended the furnishings weren’t there; others laughed and pondered why they were in this apartment at all.  In reality, it was an art installation and it achieved its purpose of shocking everyone who saw it. Ironically, the apartment sold for asking price to a very reserved young couple that completely gut renovated it. They saw beyond the unusual décor and pretended it was not there.  Talk about a makeover! This apartment totally transformed into a gracious Upper East Side sprawling abode with not a single remnant of what was before.

Here’s another:

I worked with a woman who wanted a pied a terre with a view for her dog, a poodle named Puffy. Their price range started at around $4 million.  We searched high and low and the dog would literally start barking loudly when it liked the view! We must have looked at 70 apartments and Puffy would bark when a view made her happy.  She even signaled to the owner when she was done and wanted to go home. Everyone in the office said I would never close this sale because the poodle–a miniature poodle, no less–would be so fussy and impossible to please. Apparently Puffy had great taste and proved them wrong; they ended up raising their budget from $4m to $9.6m and finally settled on a cool sprawling West Village loft with a stellar view of the Manhattan from the big bay window, including stellar Hudson River views from the floor-to-ceiling windows.

Nataliya Fullerton, City Connections Realty

“While I was doing onsite sales for a Brooklyn Heights development, I was walling an apartment that was a $3.5m 3400sf duplex in a beautiful converted garage building with doorman and private resident indoor parking.

A family that was not yet working with a broker owned a condo in a new development in DUMBO and were looking for more space. Apparently their hardwood floors warped shortly after they moved in and it was such a hassle to get the developer to replace them that their main priority was to ensure this did not happen again.

At our open house, the whole family walked over to a corner of the room, took off their shoes and socks, and started to slowly trace the floor with their feet, looking for imperfections. If one of them thought something was off, they would bounce over the spot a few times. It was quite comical. Luckily it was a fairly quiet open house!

In the end, they actually really liked the floors but the layout of the unit did not work for them. ”

Michelle Sedlitz, Citi Habitats

“I had a lovely couple from London looking to buy a pied a terre in NYC.  The husband was ADAMANT about not buying in Murray Hill.  He only wanted to live on the Upper East Side and would not consider anything else.  He told me that he just hates everything about Murray Hill.  It doesn’t offer the elegance that the Upper East Side offers.  The element of people is different as well.  I think I remember him saying that it was more of a working neighborhood than a residential neighborhood.  What was really ironic about this story, is that we communicated for a few months and he would repeatedly remind me of his thoughts of Murray Hill.

Yes when we visited our last scheduled appointment, while in the cab, a broker called me and asked if I had any customers for a listing she was marketing at 45 Park Avenue.  I said that I didn’t at the moment but that I couldn’t talk then because I was with clients.    She told me to bring them by.  I told my customers that it was worth seeing being that was their first day looking. I also explained that although it is in Murray Hill, and I know he doesn’t want that location, it will give him more insight as to the market.   He agreed.

As we’re riding, I heard a gasp from the back seat.  His wife said ‘Don’t mind him.  He always gets like that when he sees the Chrysler bldg.  He loves that bldg!’

He said ‘It lets me know that I’m in NYC, which I love!’

I gave them a bit of information about the apartment: It is a 970 sq. ft. one-bedroom, 1.5 bath condo built in 2006 priced at $1.8m. I explained it is located on the 21st floor of the building.

We arrived at 45 Park and we all gasped!  The central view from the living room windows was a panoramic picture of the Chrysler Building!

They bought the apartment!

 

Kelly Kreth

Kelly Kreth

Every few issues, top producers across NYC share some of their favorite sales stories with us, so we can share them with you.

If you’re an agent and would like to share something, feel free to contact us via our editorial page.

 

 

Final 2012 residencyNY Roundtable

Ryan Serhant
Ryan Serhant
Gary Malin
Gary Malin
Douglas Heddings
Douglas Heddings

Ryan Serhant Nest Seekers International, Executive Vice President
Gary Malin Citi Habitats,  President
Douglas Heddings The Heddings Property Group, President
David Maundrell aptsandlofts.com, President

1  What types of marketing strategies are you planning for the Fall?

Malin: Citi Habitats recently underwent a complete rebranding initiative.    We changed our logo, our tagline and mission statement, and are currently undergoing a gut renovation of many of our branch offices.  As a result of these big changes, we are taking a multi-faceted approach to marketing this fall.   We have purchased billboard space around the city, and will be doing some print advertising.  However, the bulk of our advertising expenditure will go to online initiatives.  It’s simply where the clientele is.  Over 80% of home seekers begin their search online, so it makes sense to have a large presence there.

Heddings :Informative agent newsletters –  including regular, real-time market updates and events for both buyers and sellers – are on our agenda.  Of course, Heddings Property Group’s social media activity will remain prominent aspect of our marketing campaign.

Serhant: For starters, we are giving away about 1000 pumpkins out of our office on Reade Street on October 13th.  There are a lot of families in Tribeca so we try to be as kid friendly of an office as possible (the whole office is a mural of the cities of the world with fun things for kids to find).  We are also pushing out a large advertising campaign surrounding our recent successes with record prices per square foot in certain buildings.  The market is incredibly active, and success begets success.

Maundrell:  SEO and email marketing are two marketing tools of prominence for us as we continue to build the  aptsandlofts.com brand. These tools are exciting because of the low cost / high results. We are also expanding our presence on Facebook as well as opening a second office in Cobble Hill Brooklyn this Fall to increase our storefront presence.

2  I believe that it is very important that consumers understand how they are being represented in a transaction. What do you do to insure this?  Do you use the Agency Disclosure Form to accomplish this?

Heddings : First of all, it is imperative to explain the Agency Disclosure Form and what it means specifically for a buyer or seller.  It is at this point that we explain our fiduciary responsibility and our allegiance to parties in a transaction.  However, at Heddings Property Group, we believe that, following this discussion, our actions are just as important – if not more important – than the words on the disclosure form. Our actions are inspired by our clients’/customers’ best interests, and it is important to establish trust and make clear that we strive to put their desires before our own.

Serhant: We always use Agency Disclosure forms.  We have to by law.

Malin:  Clients are required to read and sign the agency disclosure form by New York State law, and I think it does a pretty effective job explaining whose interests a broker represents.   Clarity is a very important component of our business, and we pride ourselves in our dedication to customer service.  Our training program is rigorous and the most comprehensive in the industry.  Our brokers are trained to always exceed expectations for their clients, regardless if they are a landlord, renter, buyer or seller.

Maundrell:  It is always a priority that aptsandlofts.com agents always follow all NYS Guidelines. However, it is also extremely important that buyers / renters are fully aware of who is representing them.  I think the law that went into place last year enforces that agents fully explain who they are representing early enough in the process that there should not be any confusion. We have implemented many checks and balances internally to ensure the Agency Disclosure Forms are signed, but the key will always be training the agents.

3  It seems that many new developments are being brought to market after a lengthy time of inactivity. Are you finding this?  Are you working on any new projects?

Maundrell:  aptsandlofts.com is bringing several new condominium projects to the market  between now and the end of the year. Most of these projects are smaller boutique developments, which buyers really are gravitating toward these days. This fall we are seeing an average of nearly 300 people attending our Grand Opening parties for condominiums and we expect that trend to continue for our upcoming developments in Greenpoint and Williamsburg.

Serhant: Financing is easier now, for developers and end users, so we’re seeing projects come back to life.  We’re actively working with a few developers to get projects off the ground.  The market is in need of new inventory. It’s dead out there.

Heddings : There aren’t enough new projects to even make a dent in the dearth of inventory.  We need supply!  One57 is great for the billionaires and those of us who are fortunate enough to sell there, but ask the Upper West Side couple how their search for a Classic 7 is going and they will surely weep as they explain the lack of properties from which to choose.

Malin: Market conditions in both the city’s rental and sales markets have improved over the last few quarters.  Projects that have been dormant are now ripe for completion, given the public’s demand for new housing options.  The entire far West Side is poised for an incredible revitalization with the massive Hudson Yards project, and the Queens waterfront in Long Island City will be completely transformed with new residential towers in the next decade.  Don’t forget about the area surrounding the Barclays Center, it’s another hot spot for new development – both residential and commercial.

The outer boroughs are hot.  Manhattan has an “overflow” effect, meaning when people get priced off the island, they look for alternatives, generally along main transit routes.  As a result, many neighborhoods in the outer boroughs – for example, Astoria, Queens and Bushwick, Brooklyn, are seeing a surge in new residents.

CHMG, our new development marketing arm, is currently leasing a variety of projects, most notably, the New York by Gehry tower at 8 Spruce Street in Manhattan.  It’s the tallest residential building in North America, and has been attracting new residents from all over the world.  We’re currently 87% leased.  We also just bought to market the first phase of a 2 building complex at 11-15 Broadway in Astoria.  In addition we recently re-launched a building on East 28th Street called The Grayson after a complete gut-renovation.  It looks spectacular.

4  As the sales market is heating up, how are you finding the rental market?

Serhant: The rental market is trading higher than we’ve ever seen it, which in turn creates a more active investor buying market.

Maundrell:  The aptsandlofts.com team is finding that the rental market is as hot as ever and could realistically be a record year again. We have seen rents rising approximately 10% annually for the past 3 years.

Heddings : The strong rental market coupled with low vacancy rates is fueling the sales market.  In many instances, it is once again cheaper to buy than it is to rent.   Interest rates remain at historic lows, the NYC real estate market remains a perceived safe haven for foreign money and buyers in general are attracted to NYC for all that it has to offer.  Let’s also not forget how livable this city has become with low crime, more green spaces, excellent schools, cultural events, and an incredible transportation system that makes the city easily navigable.

Malin: The rental market has reached historic highs in terms of pricing.  We have even surpassed the pre-recession heights of the market in terms of what landlords are able to charge for available units.  At its core, the Big Apple is a renter-centric city.  Give or take 70% of Manhattan apartments are rental properties, which is high in comparison to other cities.

The current tight rental market can be frustrating for would-be tenants.  I advise clients to make a list of “needs” versus “wants,” be flexible and open to looking outside your target area, and begin the search ready to transact.  Home seekers should have their relevant paperwork and funds ready before they start looking at apartments.  The rental market moves fast.

5  What would be the single most important piece of advice that you would give to a seller considering selling their property?   How about a buyer who was considering purchasing a home?

Malin:  Apartment shoppers are more informed about the real estate market than they ever have been.  For this reason, it’s important for sellers to price their home in line with current market conditions. Overpricing a home is a big mistake, but a very common one.  The peak time for buyer interest is when an apartment just hits the market, and homes that have sat on the market for a while can be a “red flag” for many would-be buyers.

For buyers, they should be sure to get pre-approved for a mortgage before beginning the search.  Bank qualification requirements are notably more strict than they have been in recent years.  However, interest rates are at historic lows. If you have the means to buy, now is a great time to make the leap to ownership.  Manhattan real estate is always a wise investment; and the lifestyle and opportunities available in our city are like nowhere else in the world.

Heddings : Inventory is LOW and if you are considering selling in the next six to 12 months, you may want to step up and list sooner rather than later. If you’re a prospective buyer, make sure to evaluate your priorities to make sure buying a home in this market makes sense for you.  Consider the desired length of ownership, whether financing or not, current living situation and, of course, financial health.

Serhant: I give the same advice to every seller:  Price to sell.  If you don’t want to sell, don’t do it.  If you do, then price right.  Buyers need to pull the trigger.   People are too afraid.  It’s just real estate.

Maundrell:  It is very important that you trust your agent is analyzing the market correctly and pricing your property in accordance to not just closed data, but also more of the real time activity happening. Pricing is a major component of the marketing strategy for any type of listing. Overpricing a listing will lead the property to becoming stale.

When buying a home, make sure you are working with a reputable and knowledgeable person regarding financing; it’s a common false belief that going to one of the major banks is the best approach. We have found that in many circumstances independent mortgage brokers who offer several banks as options is a great opportunity for many consumers as they offer some flexibility. Major banks have very specific types of criteria and property they will lend on, we see our customers finding out these specifics months into the process.