Sunday, September 23, 2018


            Your realtor calls to say there is an offer on your home and you are thrilled. Then when the Realtor describes the offer, your excitement deflates into disappointment, you may even be insulted by the offer - it's not enough!  Or perhaps the buyer’s terms are challenging:  he also want to postpone the closing for four months, he wants all your furniture, or your boat at the dock!   Your immediate response is no - you can’t see how it will work.
            The key is to remain calm, and have an open  discussion with your realtor as to whether a counter-offer should be made. Sometimes the offer is so low  and unless there are material defects that have come to light, a counter-offer is truly not appropriate.  But in most cases, a counter keeps the conversation going and often with good will on both sides, a deal can be made. It’s important to remember that a buyer generally presents terms most favorable to her, with the expectation of a counter-offer from the seller.  
            A skilled real estate agent will help you craft a good counter.  Your counter-offer should give the purchaser a sense of what is important to you and what is not. Although the price is probably the most important part of the offer, it’s also necessary to look beyond the price and consider conditions that will impact  the net return to the seller. For example, a delayed closing will require the seller to carry expenses of the house longer, a lower cash offer, may be a better bet than a higher offer with questionable contingencies.  If the buyer’s financial qualifications are shaky or the offer has any questionable terms or conditions, you and your Realtor should sort out the risk you can live with and shape a counter‑offer that delivers something that works for you and the buyer.  Finding that middle ground is the “art” in the deal.  You may have to go back and forth more than once, and there will probably be compromises on both sides, but with a lot of patience and skill, you and your agent can create a scenario that will work for you and the buyer.
            When choosing a Realtor to represent you, consider the experience and entire skill set of the agent.  This is where the rubber meets the road – your agent is the deal-maker, and all the glossy brochures and pretty pictures and the size of the firm, will make no difference if the deal cannot be brought to fruition.  We are skilled negotiators at Beninati Associates, we have lots of experience and we drive your deal home!!!  For professional advice on all aspects of buying or selling real estate, call us at 631-765-5333, email or visit our headquarters at the corner of Horton’s Lane and Main Road in Southold.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018


Many home buyers are familiar with home value estimates from real estate web portals such as, Zillow and Trulia (same company), and others.  However, when it comes to online home value estimates, the No. 1 caveat for home buyers is that these estimates are not a substitute for formal appraisals, comparative market analyses and the in-depth expertise of real estate professionals. Solely or too heavily relying on just one price estimate will likely skew the views of a particular property’s true market value.  And if you rely on these estimates to make an offer on a property, it will likely cause you to lose the deal.
Online home value estimates are based on information on the internet. In real estate, access to property details and values is easier due partly to low-cost immense computing power. The most popular sources of home value estimates online are those that use automated valuation models (AVMs). These estimates have varying levels of accuracies because they depend on the data available to them.
For example, Zillow’s “zestimates” for North Fork properties often reflect inaccurate values of homes, both on and off the market.  The reason is due to the fact that our market has a wide range of prices and types of homes but not a large number of homes and transactions. A statistically valid model is difficult if not impossible to create without additional input. 
               Over the past several years, I have seen homes have 30% to over 100% variances with the true value and the “zestimate” and in most cases the “zestimate” is below market value. Most recently an impeccable home marketed at close to a million dollars, had a “zestimate” of $732,000. When I researched the 7 homes used to calculate the “zestimate” included was a home sold at $329,000 which was a small home in disrepair.  When this home was removed from the array used by Zillow, the new “zestimate” increased over 20% to $889,000. When another home valued at $450,000 was also removed, the “zestimate increased to $992,000 – virtually, the asking price.
When you are looking at these online valuations, it’s important to know that these estimates have varying levels of accuracies and should not take the place of appraisals and realtor comparative analyses based on the local market.  
We are happy to prepare a current, detailed comparative market analysis for any home you wish to buy or sell in our marketplace. Call us at 631 765 5333 or visit us at our office on the corner of Horton’s Lane and Main Road in Southold.

Sources consulted: and the Center for REALTOR® Development (CRD).

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Remembering 9/11...

Tuesday is the 17th anniversary of the World Trade Center tragedy. It’s hard to believe that so many years have passed since the attack on American soil.  Our lives have been changed forever by the attacks on the Twin Towers, the Pentagon and the attempted attacks on the White House and the Capitol. 

Let’s take time to remember the innocent victims, the heroes that lost their lives working to save others, the brave passengers on Flight 93 who fought the hijackers and crashed into a field in Pennsylvania, and all the family members left behind. Let’s remember the surviving heroes that risked their lives to save or recover victims in the aftermath and those lost from illnesses due to exposure from the aftermath of the attacks.

The United States of America is truly a great country.  We are blessed with a heritage of Freedom. Even when times are tough and even with all our challenges, even when we disagree, we stick together to protect each other and what we hold sacred.  In spite of what divides us, we should be mindful of our American spirit and the goodness that comes from within that unites us.

May God Blessed America and Guide us through difficult times strengthening us with resolve to always do what’s right, and to protect and preserve freedom throughout the world.

Sunday, September 2, 2018


     The market is tight and you know that if you see something you like, you will have to make an offer quickly, because it’s likely to be gone if you hesitate. Your realtor presents your offer to the sellers and after one round of counters, they accept!  You’re happy and excited - until you wake up the next morning with the jitters even before you have your morning cup of joe! You’re second guessing yourself, wondering if you acted too hastily and paid too much for the house?  Or perhaps wondering if there’s another home coming on the market, that you may like better?  Or maybe your dog won’t like the neighborhood!
      With the short supply of home on the market, and the need to act quickly,  that morning after “buyer’s remorse”  is not uncommon. But before you do anything you may regret, take a moment to reflect on the situation and understand that this is a very normal reaction to making a very large lifestyle and financial commitment.  Almost everyone who buys a house experiences this feeling, with varying degrees of intensity. But if you have a bad case of homebuyer’s jitters, take time to considered things carefully and rationally.  Be sure that your financial  planning is solid – it’s one of the reasons we recommend a bank mortgage preapproval. And remind yourself of all the family and lifestyle reasons you came to the North Fork in the first place – a less hectic pace, the beautiful beaches, numerous creeks for boating and kayaking, farms and vineyards and bucolic scenery that enhances each day you spend here. Talk to your realtor, share your concern.  It should all fall in place. Then take a deep breath and go for it!  I don’t know anyone who has purchased a home on the North Fork, who regrets it.  In fact, everyone I know is thrilled to be in this special part of the world!

Wednesday, August 29, 2018


When you own a home or you are preparing to purchase a home, you do not want anyone to “encroach” on your property or have their personal property on your property. But boundary issues happen, and they can be ugly. There is a term for this battle of land: “encroachment.”
An encroachment happens your neighbor crosses the property lines or a home owner takes over land that provides public access to roads or beaches. Examples of encroachments could involve trees, shrubs, and other landscaping, parts of a building or other structure, fencing, or any other fixture located on both pieces of property.
Oftentimes, the encroachment will be intentional -  land or roads will be incorporated into someone’s property to expand the footprint.  Sometimes  encroachment is unintentional -  neighbors encroach because they do not properly survey the boundaries of their property before construction or landscaping work.  
What should a property-owner do if his or her property is encroached upon? If you are dealing with a neighbor, you might try being polite first. You can request that the encroachment be removed or, if appropriate, that the person who is doing the encroaching lease the property from you; sometimes they are not aware of the encroachment.  As a last resort, you can take the person to court and have it removed by a court order.
If the encroachment is found during the sale of a home, the seller may be able to work with whomever it is that owns the land where the encroachment is located and either have the encroachment removed or resolve any issues to be sure the title is clear at closing. If you are buying a property with an encroachment, don’t ignore it. It is important that any and all encroachments be found before the closing occurs — otherwise, the encroachment will become your nightmare.
It is common to find mistakes when dealing with property boundary lines. They can happen due to  errors by land surveyors.  Or sometimes property erosion can change the boundary line. But most of the time, it is a property owner usurping a neighbor’s property or community property, because they have not done appropriate due diligence to be sure that what they are building is within the boundaries of their property and according to setbacks of local building code.
If property boundary encroachments are found, the best solution is to get a surveyor to flag the property and for the offending party to work out a solution with their neighbor.  Why would any fair-minded person wish to argue with their neighbors about what is on whose property? This never makes for a good relationship when you are living closely to someone.  Doing the right thing is always the best road to take.

Sunday, August 19, 2018


 Here we are in the middle of August and summer fun is in full swing – swimming, boating, fishing kayaking, getting together with friends, dining al fresco at your favorite North Fork location...and you're selling your home or you’re looking to buy a home before fall rolls around.  Both activities – buying and selling are filled with effort, anxiety and sometimes difficult decisions.  How do you get through it all and still have time to enjoy the last few weeks of summer?  Here is some advice for sellers and buyers as we approach Labor Day.

Advice to Sellers:
               Listen to your realtor.  They are out there, meeting with prospective buyers, doing your open houses, and having lots of similar experiences with other clients and properties they represent.  Listen to them when they give you feedback. If your home has been on the market for several weeks and even with aggressive marketing, no one has stepped up, it’s most likely that the price needs to be adjusted.  TRUST them when they recommend you lower the price. There are studied that show the earlier a price is adjusted, the less the overall reduction will be when the property is sold.  Often, a seller has a price they want for their property, and after the home has been exposed to the market it is clear that the property isn’t generating interest.  Sometimes, things can be tweaked in the home, but most often, the price has to be tweaked.  Listen to your realtor when they suggest a price adjustment.  Especially now, this is the peak of our season – you will get the most attention now. 
              Keep up with you property. Mow and water the lawn.  Make necessary repairs.  If a major repair comes along, discuss it with your realtor – sometimes it may be better to make a price adjustment.

 Hang in there!  Don’t take things personally.  Look at it as a business transaction.  If you get a low ball offer, don’t take offense – strategize with your realtor as to how to respond.  Be positive, and supportive of the process. It’s a process filled with uncertainly from week to week, but an experienced realtor can guide you through it – trust him or her!

Advice to Buyers:
              Work with your realtor – find one you trust.  An experienced realtor  knows the marketplace.  If they tell you a property you like is “hot,” believe them!  So often, buyers lose deals because they are skeptical of the information they are receiving from their realtor.  If you feel that way, get another realtor!  There must be a partnership between you and your agent. 
               Tell your agent what you want to spend within a reasonable range.  If you overestimate, you will see homes you love but can’t afford and then as you move down in price, you will be disappointed in homes you can afford.

   Be willing to look at properties that the agent suggests – especially if you have worked together – pictures don’t always give a good sense of the site.  An experienced agent knows his/her market – ask questions and share your impressions as you look at prospective properties.
              Be ready to make a move when the situation presents itself.  The low inventory on the North Fork, makes for quicker sales and multiple offers.  Trust your realtor to guide you through this sellers’ market!

At Beninati Associates, we are experienced realtors, we know our market, we are keen observers of the dynamics of the marketplace and expert at navigating buyers and sellers through the process! Call us at 631 765 5333!

Wednesday, August 8, 2018


A new study of Long Island housing prices for the second quarter of 2018* showed a continued increase in median prices of homes sold except for the Hamptons.  Long Island as a whole reported a 5.2% increase in home sales median price to $425,000.  By comparison, the North Fork homes sold at a 9% higher rate than last year or $600,000, while the Hamptons sold at a 5.3% lower rate or $975,000 for the same time frame.  The Hamptons was the only region to show a quarterly decline from 2017.
According to Newsday, “prices increased sharply for the most affordable homes, and fell at the top of the market. In the bottom fifth of sales, home sold for a median price of $220,000, up 12.8% from a year earlier.  By contrast, the top fifth of sales fetched a median price of $820,000, down .6% annually.”
The North Fork is faring well and will likely continue to show improvement through the balance of the selling season.  But there is a question as to whether the growth can be sustained.  The factors affecting our rate of growth include increasing mortgage rates and the federal tax overhaul that put a heavier burden on New York State which is kicking in this year and will impact our tax bills next year.  The delicate balance between demand and affordability will become more of a consideration to many of our prospective buyers in the near future.
            If you are planning to sell in the next six months, it’s a good idea to put your home on the market now.  If you are on the fence and want to talk, give us a call. We will give you our honest assessment at no cost to you.

Source: Newsday, July 26, 2018, “Low end up, high end down,”page A2. Study by Miller Samuels.