Sunday, August 13, 2017

LET’S TAKE ANOTHER LOOK AT RENTAL REGULATIONS

In Southold Town, Short term rentals have been restricted to a minimum of two weeks for the past two years.  We have seen a marked reduction in seasonal rentals and even worse some home owners have been forced to sell their homes since their basis for affordability included the rental income to cover costs of increased taxes and operating expenses.  

It’s time to assess the effectiveness of the regulations and determine if in fact we have made life better or worse for those of us who live here on the North Fork. 

“Real property ownership in the U.S. is commonly understood to come with a bundle of rights—the three core ones being the right to live in it, to rent it and to sell it. It is also generally accepted that some degree of regulation may impose limitations on property ownership, namely through the power of a government to promote order, safety, health, and the general welfare of society, within constitutional bounds. Zoning regulation is derived from this same authority, at the state level, and may be granted to local governments."
“Any ordinance that prohibits property owners from renting their homes, or significantly restricts the right to rent, strips them of one-third of their fundamental bundle of economically productive rights. Court decisions have established that property owners are entitled to use and enjoy their property, and that a regulation depriving an owner of property rights cannot be sustained unless it is required by due regard for public health, safety, comfort or welfare. Constitutional limitations on a government’s authority to regulate rental housing include the right to due process, equal protection, “takings” compensation, and protection from unreasonable search and seizure. Statutory limitations on the regulation of residential rentals include fair housing laws and private property rights protection acts. The most common rental restrictions, from licensing and inspection requirements to noise and maximum occupancy limits, and all those imposed by zoning authority, are subject to constitutional and statutory limitations.”*

We need to be mindful of protecting our individual property rights while at the same time protecting safety, comfort and welfare of every citizen.  But has the two week restriction made Southold Town a better place to live and work?  Would code enforcement have had the same impact without taking away property rights and causing some home owners financial hardship?  The Town Board  should do an adequate assessment and revisit the issue – is this a case of code change without adequate vetting and analysis with unintended consequences?

*Source: National Association of Realtors, Residential Rentals, The Housing Market, Regulations, and Property Rights, Spring 2017.



Looking to Buy or Sell your Home or Rent? Call us at 631-765-5333, or visit us on our website: beninatiassociates.com.  We listen, we care…….and we get results.
SSSSS

Sunday, August 6, 2017

HOME BUYING IN THIS TIGHT INVENTORY MARKET

Multiple offers are a common occurrence lately.  The good news for sellers is that homes are selling quickly and often at higher prices than asking.  The bad news is that there are many frustrated and disappointed prospective buyers and real estate agents.  The market has reached such a frenzied-state, that tactics unbecoming professionals are sometimes engaged to “win” regardless of the consequences to others involved in the transaction.
         
The fact of the matter is that demand exceeds supply and the most sought-after, well-appointed homes are snapped up as soon as they come on the market.  As a buyer, in such a marketplace there are alternate actions you may wish to consider to get to your goal of buying a home on the North Fork.  Here are some ideas:
           
           1. Be ready to act when you see your “almost” ideal home – Don’t wait for perfect! Have your ducks in order – financing pre-approval, proof of funds for cash and your attorney’s information.  And for heaven’s sake, keep it simple!  Act quickly - don’t take more than 24 hours to make your offer and respond quickly to counter offers. Don’t ask for concessions. don’t ask for price adjustments unless there is a significant defect that was not disclosed or was not obvious by visual inspection. 
           
           2. Lower your expectations –  not every home is in perfect condition and the ones that are will sell quickly and at a premium. Consider buying a home that needs updating. It may need a new kitchen and baths, but if it’s fundamentally a solid house and has been sitting on the market only because everyone is chasing the home with all the updates in place, go for it.  Get an idea of  renovation costs (over estimate the numbers if you’re not sure of what you really want to do) and make an offer. 

       
          3. Consider a “building” project - Buy a home that needs expansion or possibly a “tear down” or build on a vacant lot.  This is a more time intensive and possibly more expensive choice but assures you of having a home exactly to your liking and brand spanking new! 

Perhaps these options are not your ideal scenario. But different market situation require different courses of action to be successful. I think it was Albert Einstein who said, “no problem can be solved with the same level of consciousness that created it.”  We have come out of a real estate market that was depressed and took ten years to recover.  The past ways of doing business do not work now.  Time to change  – those who will succeed are the people who accept the change and come up with different solutions.  Call us at Beninati Associates, we help you find the right solution for  you in today’s market because we understand it and know what to do! 
   
           
Source: NAR, RISMedia Daily, August 1, 2017.

Looking to Buy or Sell your Home? Call us at 631-765-5333, or visit us on our website: beninatiassociates.com.  We listen, we care…….and we get results.

Monday, July 31, 2017

KEY FLOOD INSURANCE LEGISLATION NEEDS TO MOVE FORWARD

The National Association of Realtors® today* said that significant improvements to the “21st Century Flood Reform Act,” key legislation aimed at  strengthening and reauthorizing the National Flood Insurance Program, have cleared the way for endorsement of the bill.  The current program is due to expire September 30, 2017.  Among the changes, Realtors® support the House Financial Services Committee’s commitment to retaining “grandfathering” – a policy that protects homeowners from significant rate increases when a flood map changes.
           
The most recent draft will also limit proposed increases to fees and rate hikes that policyholders faced under previous iterations of the legislation. Earlier versions of the legislation included more dramatic cost increases for homeowners and eliminated grandfathering protections beginning in 2021.
            
NAR President William E. Brown, stated that “the changes to the 21stCentury Flood Reform Act will help give certainty to homeowners who have brought their property to code and have done their part to protect it against flood risk. It’s a fair and reasonable approach that recognizes the need for accessible, affordable flood insurance, while taking us one step closer towards reauthorization.
        
 “This legislation protects taxpayers, as well as homeowners, which is no easy task. The September 30th  reauthorization deadline still looms in front of us, and Realtors® are eager to see this legislation progress quickly. Leaders on both sides of the aisle are well aware that this issue touches 22,000 communities – in every state, both coastal and inland. We’re grateful for the committee’s support and look forward to their continued efforts on behalf of homeowners.”
          
  Flood insurance is a Nationally funded program, administered by FEMA. If you have flood insurance, especially if you have had it for a number of years,  don’t cancel it  - because you are selling your home, or you no longer have a bank requiring you to hold flood insurance - before you understand the ramifications. “Grandfathering” protects your rate and is an asset that may be transferable to a buyer.  It may also make a significant difference in flood insurance cost to a new owner.  So check with your insurance broker or contact FEMA.  


*Source: The National Association of Realtors®, July 21, 2017, Press Release, “ Realtors®, House Financial Services Committee Reach Agreement to Move Key Flood Insurance Legislation Forward”.  

Looking to Buy or Sell your Home? Call us at 631-765-5333, or visit us on our website: beninatiassociates.com.  We listen, we care…….and we get results.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

GOOD NEWS: HOME PRICES HAVE RECOVERED

“Have home prices recovered from the 2008 crash?” I am often asked this question, and always answer cautiously, because we still see some homes which were purchased at the peak of pricing in 2006-2007, selling at prices lower than the purchase price at the peak of the market ten years ago.

A recent Wall Street Journal story* made me wonder how the North Fork compared to the national statistics  quotes in the article.

The gist of the article is about home equity loans (Helocs) that offered advantageous payment terms, “typically the borrowers were allowed to pay back only the interest for 10 years.”  But after ten years, the payments reset to higher amounts including principal, and banks feared that home owners  could not handle the much higher monthly payments.  The good news is that “U.S. home prices, after dropping throughout the 2008 crisis and its aftermath, have risen nearly 35% since the start of 2014.  The median sales price of an existing home was $252,800 in May 2017, according to the National Association of Realtors, up from $187,900 in January 2014.” As a result of higher home equities, banks have been able to refinance customers into new loans.  Good news also: banks learned a valuable lesson about working with their customers, adjusting terms, instead of letting the “system” take over. 

How did Southold Town do over this same period?  The median sales price of an existing home was $524,000 in April 2017, according to Suffolk Research Services, Inc, up from $459,500 in January 2014 - very good news: an increase of 14%.  Great news: in 2007 the median sales price was $525,000 compared to $532,800 at the end of 2016.  We have turned the corner, and recovered value from the 2008 crisis.  Based on our own experience, the current trend, year-to-date, is continuing and we should hold and possibly increase in value by year-end.

So, more good news: it’s a good time to buy and a great time to sell!  Don’t delay, call us at 
631 765 5333 or email me at broker@BeninatiAssociates.com or visit our website www.BeninatiAssociates.com. We’re happy to help you with your purchase of sale here on the North Fork!

Sources:
* “Home-Price Rise Eases Bank Pain on Equity Credit Line,” page B14, The Wall Street Journal,  July 12, 2017.

Suffolk Research Services, Inc

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Summer: The Best Time to Buy & Sell on the North Fork!

There is no doubt that summer is the best season to show off the bountiful waterfront and other natural resources on the North Fork.  With summer officially here the North Fork is already seeing the most intense traffic of the year.
If your home is for sale, keep in mind that this is one of the best opportunities for you to attract the right buyer in the shortest amount of time.
If you are looking to buy, don’t let summer fun distract you too much from your home search.  It is a very competitive market, low inventory (I know you’re probably tired of me saying this), rising prices and interest rates make a good case for acting sooner rather than later.

Here are some tips for sellers and buyers to help cope:

For Buyers:  
·       Do your homework.  Even though summer is a time to relax and have fun with family and friends, if you are ready to buy, then put a plan together to get house hunting time into every weekend.  Work with a local Realtor – they will be able to give you background info on the homes, the offerings of each neighborhood and help you get through the offer and sale process. 

·       Be prepared to act quickly, once you see something you like, move quickly – make that offer and counter the same day if possible, especially where there may be multiple offers. 

·       Not ready to buy, then postpone your search to the fall where you will have time to look.  Homes are selling so quickly now that most anything you see will be not be available – so enjoy the summer!

For Sellers:  
·       Show off  the outside of your home.  Keep the front porch  and patio swept and lawn furniture clean.  Open the sun umbrellas, and put out colorful plants and cushions and make the outdoor space stand out.  First impressions count and curb appeal helps sell a house.

·       Do some summer staging. Remove heavy drapes and curtains and let in natural sunlight.  Always open the blinds and turn on lights when the home is being shown.  Add summer color to the inside of your home with pillows and cushions – colors like turquoise, mint green, yellow and pale blue all add to a summer feel.

·        ALWAYS use a dehumidifier in the basement, in warmer weather. There is nothing worse than a musty odor coming from the basement.  Turn on the air conditioner and cool off the house before a showing – even if you don’t like to use it. Most buyers  will remember where they were uncomfortable and hot.

If you are thinking of selling your home, you still have time.  Call us at 631 765 5333 or visit our office at the corner of Main Road and Horton’s Lane.  We will gladly visit and prepare a market analysis at no cost to you.  Our full service offering will exceed your expectations.  If you are planning to buy, we’d be delighted to help you find the right match for your needs. Call us or email: broker@beninatiassociates.com



Saturday, July 1, 2017

INDEPENDENCE DAY 2017 - CELEBRATE OUR FREEDOM

On July Fourth  we commemorate the signing of the Declaration of Independence, the document that marked the emergence of the United States as an independent, self-governing nation, guided by the principle of liberty.  It’s good to remember that the freedom we value today was earned by the bravery of the American statesmen who signed this document, putting their lives, reputation and personal property at risk. Fifty-six men, supported and guided by many brave, hard-working and dedicated women, stood together and affirmed:

            "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."
           
            In 1776, as copies of the Declaration spread through the states and were read aloud at town meetings, religious services and public assemblies, Americans marked the occasion with celebratory rituals. They lit huge bonfires, "illuminated" their windows with candles, fired guns, rang bells, removed the symbols of the monarchy from public buildings, churches and taverns, and decorated the walls of their homes with newspaper copies of the Declaration of Independence. Today’s fireworks mark this great event with an exuberance our forefathers would have appreciated.
     
            We will be handing out replicas of the Declaration of Independence and American flags from our front steps during the Southold Town Annual Parade down Main Street.  The parade kicks off at 12 NOON  at the Firehouse and ends at 1PM at the American Legion Hall.  Hope you all will be there.  Check local newspapers and website for fireworks – lots going on!   It’s a great way to celebrate our wonderful country’s independence  and teach our children the reason for the celebration. 
May God Bless America.



Sunday, June 25, 2017

FED RAISES INTEREST RATES – SECOND THIS YEAR

The Federal Reserve voted last week to raise the key interest rate one-quarter percentage point, making it the second of three hikes slated for this year. The outcome was predicted, even with lagging inflation.

“In view of realized and expected labor market conditions and inflation, the [Federal Open Market] Committee decided to raise the target range for the federal funds rate to 1 to 1-1/4 percent,” according to a statement by the Fed. “The stance of monetary policy remains accommodative, thereby supporting some further strengthening in labor market conditions and a sustained return to 2 percent inflation.”

The key rate, though not directly tied to mortgage rates, exerts influence in housing and eventually impacts mortgage rates.  The Fed initiated its first increase late last year, voting to carry out the first and only hike of the year, while signaling three hikes in 2017, in December. The Fed made good its promise in March, 2017. Mortgage rates have remained in flux since then, dipping  back below 4 % in April for the first time since the presidential election, although the most recent 30-year fixed rate mortgage averaged  3.69% versus 3.60% last year.

It seems to me that the FED will continue its plan to hike rates again later in the year and it will trickle down to the consumer in higher credit card rates and mortgage rates.  The prudent scenario if you are planning a home purchase is to make you decision sooner rather than later.

Give us a call, 631 765 5333, visit our office, or email me, marie@BeninatiAssociates.com.  We’ll help you find the right home for your needs.  No high pressure selling, no gimmicks, no nonsense, just plain old hard work and looking out for you, our clients and customers.


Source: RIS Media.