Sunday, March 18, 2018


It’s no secret - mortgage interest rates are going up, the new tax law will hit harder in New York than most of the country, and the tight inventory market is putting pressure on prices.  All of these factors will increase the carrying costs of homes.  For most, a modest price increase in monthly mortgage interest, will not likely discourage a purchase.  For the wealthy, a reduced tax deduction will not likely affect their decision to buy.  For the average buyer, higher prices translate to higher monthly carrying costs, which as long as they are within a manageable range, will not deter a purchase of a home that will benefit the family, give him/her enjoyment and future appreciation.

But will all these forces eventually put enough pressure on the consumer that it will reach a tipping point and turn things in the other direction?  It would be helpful to have a crystal ball – but most of us do not have such forecasting tools!  The best thing to do is assess your individual situation and make decisions that work for you and your family, now.  For example, if you have been waiting to sell your home when the market reaches its peak, you will likely miss it, since only as it moves downward will you know for sure.  So why not evaluate today, where things are at for you and factor in your future plans and see if it makes sense to sell your home now.  If you plan to retire and wish to downsize, consider that as your home goes up in value, so will the home you purchase.  The important thing is that you have liquidity and can go forward with your plan.  If you are thinking of upgrading, see if the current market will allow you to sell and buy another home with whatever your budget allows.

 “Timing is everything!”  The coming months are some of the best selling months of the year.  Many want to be in their new homes to enjoy all, or at least some, of the summer. “About 40% of the year’s sales take place from March through June, according to the National Association of Realtors.”*

Consider how today’s real estate market factors into your plans.   Call us and we will give you an assessment of the market as it relates to your property so you will know where you stand. Then contact your financial advisor, and review your plans and see if it’s the right time to put things in motion. 

We can help you, just call us!  At Beninati Associates, we’re looking out for you!  Our office is conveniently located at the corner of Main Road and Hortons Lane in Southold; telephone is 631 765 5333; email is;  Talk to you soon!!!

*Source: The Wall Street Journal, March 8, 2018, Home Sales Show Signs of Softening, page A3.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Investment Strategy: Diversify, Diversify, Diversify!

A recent article in The Wall Street Journal, featured an investment profile of Sallie Krawcheck, Chief Executive and co-founder of Ellevest, a digital financial investment firm for women.  She was also Citigroup’s chief financial officer and also lead Merrill Lynch Wealth Management. 

She characterized the purchase of a house on the East end as her best investment and the purchase of the bank stock of the firm she worked for as her worst investment.  The home she bought in 2004 in Quogue, with money from stock at Citigroup, is almost double the value today.  The Bank of America stock she bought in 2009 and sold in 2011, returned her only half the value. 

“ ‘The real takeaway, of course is diversity, diversity, diversity,’ she says. ‘I diversified away from Citigroup stock and into real estate.’  Her portfolio at the time was not nearly as diversified as it should have been, she says. Her financial adviser at the time said she could survive a hit to her Citi stock, but so much of her other assets were tied up in equities, too, leaving her far too exposed.”* Diversity is an investment strategy we should all be mindful of, especially in recent weeks with the volatility of the stock market.

The other important investment strategy is timing and “timing is everything!”.  A wise saying, attributed to William Shakespeare, coined in 1599, in his play Julius Caesar.  Buying and selling investments profitably, is a function of timing but none of us have crystal balls to tell when it’s optimum to buy or sell a particular investment. All the more reason to diversify to balance the mix of investments to protect from extreme losses in any one investment category.

If you have most of your investments in the stock market, perhaps it’s time to diversify into real estate?  Perhaps it’s time to explore and diversify?  We can help you with the real estate side of your exploration, just call us!  At Beninati Associates, we’re looking out for you!  Our office is conveniently located at the corner of Main Road and Hortons Lane in Southold; telephone to         631 765 5333; email to  Talk to you soon!!!

*Source: The Wall Street Journal, March 5, 2018, A House Was Better Than Her BofA Stock, page R8.

Sunday, March 4, 2018


If you are thinking about retirement in the next ten years or so, you may want to consider paying off your home mortgage earlier.  Certainly, the stock market has offered a way of getting a better return that a bank savings account, but with the recent market volatility, some of your money should be in less volatile investments.  That brings us to paying off your mortgage earlier and saving the interest you are paying on your mortgage, versus putting your money in a bank account that returns far less than your mortgage interest expense.  Most bank saving accounts offer a fraction of 1% in interest.  Even at their lowest point in recent years, mortgage interest rates were 3% and have been going up.  You may want to consider paying off your mortgage earlier and saving the interest.

Here are four ideas on how to shorten the term of your mortgage and save money:

1.                                   1.  Refinance with a shorter-term mortgage.
                       You can refinance your 30 year mortgage to a 15-year loan.  For example, a 30-year fixed-rate
     mortgage  for $200,000 at 4.5%, refinanced into a 15-year loan at 4% five years later, pays off 
     the mortgage 10 years earlier  and saves more than $60,000 (less the closing costs on the           refi). Shorter-term mortgages often carry interest rates lower than their 30-year                              counterparts. Remember, even though you will have a lower interest rate, the quicker payoff          means higher monthly payments. So it’s important to be sure the higher payment works for            you.

       2.Pay a little more each month.

  Just add an extra amount to you regular monthly payment of divide your monthly payment by 12  months and add that amount to your monthly payment for a year.  By doing this  you will make the equivalent of 13 payments in 12 months.  Be sure you indicate that the extra amount is for principal and check that it has been properly applied on your next month’s statement.

       3. Make an extra mortgage payment every year.

   Instead of paying a little more each month, make one extra monthly payment each year. One         way to do  this is to save 1/12 of a payment every month, and then make an extra payment           after every 12 months.  This gives you the flexibility to use the extra savings for something else     if a more pressing expense arises. If you do this every year, on a 30-year mortgage for                   $200,000 at 4.5% you would save more  than $27,000 in interest, and you would pay off the         mortgage four years and three months earlier.

      4. Throw ‘found’ money at the mortgage.                   
  Bonuses, tax refunds, gifts, any unexpected windfall, can be used to pay down principal and                     reduce the term and interest of the original loan. An extra $10,000 lump-sum payment on our 
30-year, fixed-rate  mortgage for $200,000 at 4.5% after 5 years, pays off the mortgage two 
years and four months earlier,  and saves more than $19,000 in interest.
              Even if you end up selling your home before you pay off your mortgage, you will have more equity in your home and saved mortgage interest.   It’s a strategy worth considering. 

Source:  Tribune Content Agency, LLC

Sunday, February 25, 2018


          The young people of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida are to be applauded for doing what we adults should have done.  Our children are being killed in their schoolrooms.  Children go to school each day knowing they are not safe.  Knowing that a crazed predator with an assault rifle could mow them down like sitting ducks. People attend concerts, go to airports, walk city streets and can’t help but think of those who have been senselessly killed by someone with an assault rifle.  We were all being desensitized, until these kids stood up. 

Enough is enough.  Why must the choice be all or nothing?  I am a strong believer in preserving individual rights, but the reason we have laws and the rule of law is to do just that.  There must be a solution to this intolerable state we are in today.  Children should be children – they have been asked to face the horror of watching their classmates shot down before them – they have been ask to  grow up too soon.

Let’s take action to protect our children and make our schools a safe place for children to learn and grow in peace.

Sunday, February 18, 2018


With the recent stock market volatility, which seemed to come out of nowhere, one begins to wonder what to do with retirement money invested in stocks.  There is very little choice, since banks are paying so little interest, “putting it under the mattress” seems like the only alternative!

Well, there is an alternative, a Self-Directed IRA.  Self-directed IRAs are the only retirement accounts that have the potential of a good return on your investment other than the stocks, bond or CDs. No surprise, the IRS has imposed rules, but with proper guidance from a qualified advisor, the option to invest in real estate – such as single and multi-family homes, condos, commercial property, undeveloped land, as well as equipment leasing, precious metals, livestock and others.

One of the most important guidelines is that the investment must be arm’s length. For example, you cannot personally use or benefit from the real estate in your self-directed IRA.  All expenses and revenues must come from and go directly to the IRA.  Also, you cannot buy and asset or sell to a disqualified person -a close relative or the custodian or advisor of the IRA.

If you are thinking about diversifying, you may want to look into the creation of a self-directed IRA  to invest in real estate or other qualified types of investments.  Consult with your tax professional and retirement advisor – there are very specific rules that must be followed.

 To find the best possible investment property for your self-directed IRA call  us at 631-765-5333, or email me at, or visit our office at the corner of Main Road and Horton’s Lane in Southold.  We’re here to help you!

Saturday, February 10, 2018


One of the best ways to protect your family if a fire occurs in your home is to be prepared.  There are many things you can do in advance, like making copies of important documents, or scan them to a USB device and keep it in a safe place off the premises.  But the most important plan to make is to assure that everyone in your household knows what to do if a fire breaks out in your home.  Also, consider preparing a plan for your office and your tenants if you own rental properties.  Here are a few important ways to prepare your family in case of a house fire:
·       Make sure your house number can be seen from the street.
·       Make sure smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are installed and functioning.
·       Make sure all windows and doors open easily.
·       Draw a map of your home, showing two methods of exit from each room and a path to the outside. 
·       Purchase portable escape ladders for bedrooms in 2-story homes (they are not expensive).
·       Conduct a home fire drill twice a year  -  daytime and night time.
·       Teach children how to escape on their own in case of necessity.
·       Close doors behind you.
·       Pick a place outside where everyone can meet.
·       Once outside, stay outside. Never go back into a burning building.

Call 911 in an emergency and wait for our volunteer fire fighters.  These dedicated men and women are there for us day and night. They give their time and risk their own safety for  the community.  I know you all join me in thanking them every day and ask that you support their efforts. God Bless you all – our volunteer firefighters and rescue teams!

*Source: National Fire Prevention Association. 

Sunday, February 4, 2018


For the first time in 13 years, the home ownership rate increased at the end of 2017.  Characterized as a “crucial turning point” by The Wall Street Journal yesterday, this is another sign that the real estate market has definitively turned around from the housing crash of 2008.

The home ownership rate rose to 64.2% at the end of the year, a healthy increase compared to 62.9% in the second quarter of 2016– when it was at a 50-year low.  “The home-ownership rate remains below the long-term average of around 65%.  Economists said there are likely still years of recovery ahead, in part because home prices are growing faster than wages and inflation.”

More good news - at the close of 2017, the home ownership rate for households under age 35 rose to 36% from 34.7%.  The turnaround in the home ownership of millennials is a good omen for the real estate market and the economy as a whole, since the housing industry stimulates jobs in construction, and sale of consumer goods and services.

With consumer confidence up in January 2018, it appears we are headed for a moderately good year in real estate.  It’s a good time to work on any plans you may have to sell or buy here on the North Fork.  There is a high demand, even during these cold winter months.  Just think, if you call us today, we can meet with you, and put a plan in place to sell or buy, so you will be ahead of the curve!

Call us at 631 765 5333 or come in and visit – we’d love to see you.  And...we have a gift for you as well!  With the new Suffolk County point-of -purchase charge for plastic bags, that went into effect the beginning of January, we are offering free reusable shopping bags!  And if I must say so myself, they are very attractive!

Source: The Wall Street Journal, January 31, 2018, Millennials Kick-Start Housing Market, Laura Kusisto, pages 1-2