Sunday, July 15, 2018

Home Staging Adds Value to Your Home

When virtually every visual marketing aspect of a listing agent’s efforts are on the internet in nanoseconds and permeates the internet through many real estate portals like, Zillow, and in minutes after that, it’s clear that the first impressions of a home are critical to the selling process.

As a seller, you are inviting hundreds of thousands of people into your home through the internet, with the hope that they will be motivated to come see it and make an offer.  It’s important then to put your best foot forward.  If you were inviting friends over for a get-together, you certainly would tidy up inside and outside, maybe buy new cushions, add flowers, put out your best linens, etc.  So too, when you put your home and the market it’s important that both the exterior and interior of your home be “nicely staged” for the internet and the prospective buyers who visit. 

In a survey* conducted by the National Association of Realtors, almost all buyers' agents said that staging has a positive effect on buyers and 49% of buyers' agents, reported that staging a home increases its dollar value by an average of 3-8%.  Also, 50% of sellers' agents report the value added from staging averages between 3-9%.  While 5% of agents reported an increase of 11-15%. 

We understand that changing the furniture around and decluttering may feel intrusive, but keep in mind, the facts support a positive outcome in terms of a faster sale and increased dollar value for sellers.  While all real estate is local, and many factors play into what a home is worth and how much buyers are will to pay for it, staging is the extra step sellers take to help sell their home more quickly and for a higher dollar value.

At Beninati Associates, we have seen the positive results of staging – higher selling prices and faster closings.  We have our own professional home stager and furnishings to enhance your home’s décor and there is no added cost for our clients.  Call us at 631 765 5333 and let us help you sell your house

*Source:  NAR 2017 Profile of Home Staging,

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Disclose or Let Sleeping Dogs Lie

When you select your Realtor and you sit down to discuss the features of your home for marketing purposes, it’s also important to be absolutely candid with your agent about the condition of the property.  If there is a problem with the roof, plumbing, wiring or structure, discuss this openly with your agent.  Your agent is your partner in the sales process and can help you sort out what is a “material” defect and what is not. 
Some things that may annoy you about your home and seem like a major problem to you, for example, your frig icemaker or a burner on your stove doesn’t work, are not “material” defects – although they will likely be detected during a  home inspection.  Other things which you may have been living with, may be “material” and require disclosure and/or corrective action. For example, a leaky roof or  construction work including electrical or plumbing work that has been done where no permits or c/o’s (certificates of occupancy from the building department) have been obtained. 
  It is unlikely that “material” defects or lack of c/o’s will go undetected because most buyers have an inspection before signing contracts and their attorneys secure title searches and c/o’s before the deal is consummated.  Structural problems and “material” defects (leaking roof, foundation defects sometimes cause a deal to fall apart, or at the very least, require price adjustments. However, when “material” issues are disclosed your agent can diffuse concern of the unknown by getting estimates to correct the deficiency by framing the cost and effort involved to repair with a potential buyer.  Most buyers can usually deal with a house with some issues, if they know what they are getting into from the beginning.  Usually these issues can be resolved when all parties come to the table with a sincere desire to make the deal.
When you decide to sell your home, discuss significant issues with your Realtor and address defects and missing c/o’s before you put your home on the market.  Also, ask your Realtor to assist you in providing the appropriate disclosure to potential buyers.
For professional advice on all aspects of buying or selling real estate call us at 631 765 5333, visit our website at and come see us!  We’re open 9am to 5pm seven days a week and our office is at the corner of Main Road and Hortons Lane in Southold.  

Sunday, June 17, 2018


The good weather brings us all out to enjoy and play.  The roads seem to suddenly fill up with runners and bicyclists on every main artery in town.  Last week a dear friend lost her life in a bicycle accident in Rockville Centre. 
Our column this week will focus on cycling safety for our North Fork community.  Even if you are an experienced rider, it’s always a good idea to review safety fundamentals.  And please teach them to your children.
Advice for Safer Cycling:
  • Wear a brightly colored helmet and you reduce your risk of serious injury by as much as 85%.  Don’t wear headphones while riding! Do wear reflective material on your clothing.
  • Keep your head up and look ahead, not at the ground. You need to see what is coming up so you have time  to react and maneuver.
  • Keep both hands on the handlebars and both feet on the petals.
  • One person per bike. Riding with unsecured passengers puts you at risk for injury to yourself and others.
  • Ride in single file with space between bikes.
  • Ride on the right side of the road, never against traffic. Otherwise, you are at risk for an accident – or a ticket.
  • Plan ahead if you will ride in a group. Agree on the route ahead of time. Have a plan on what you will do if separated by traffic.
  • If you will be riding in an unfamiliar area, check out local laws and rules first.
  • Avoid busy roads and peak traffic times on your route.
  • Before riding at night, ask someone to help you check your visibility to motorists.
  • Maintain the bikes in your household. Keep chains clean and lubricated and periodically inspect brake pads.
  • Communicate your intention to turn, stop, and change lanes using recognized hand signals.
  • Identify potential hazards and pay attention to your surroundings. Uneven, rough surfaces can cause falls. An object in the road can cause a flat tire, loss of balance or unsafe maneuver. Avoid riding across unknown objects. Slippery surfaces create a loss of traction which may cause you to lose control of your bike. Slow down or walk your bike across slippery surfaces.
  • Before entering a roadway: Stop. Look left. Look right. Look left. BE SAFE!

Dedicated to Ellen Stegman- we will miss your vim and vigor, your eternal optimism, your beautiful mind and your strong spirit. God’s Speed dear friend!

Sources: Bicycle Safety Riding Tips,;; (National Safety Council).

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Staging: A Powerful Selling Tool!

It’s June, and the warmer weather is here - well, almost - and if you’re thinking of putting your home on the market, you may want to get cracking!  It’s important to do a speedy assessment of what needs to be done to get in front of the swell of buyers coming to the North Fork this time of year. 
               Owners sometimes becomes psychologically detached, once the decision to sell it made, and prefer not to invest time and money into the home they are leaving.  But our experience has shown that  buyers discount their offers when repairs and updating is needed, often at many times the actual cost of fixing-up. Major renovation when selling a home, is often not a practical solution.  But “strategic fixing up” -  like fresh neutral paint, a deep cleaning,  removing wall-to-wall carpet when they cover beautiful wood floors - actually enhances the look of the home and the desirability. Even more importantly, a nicely staged home with attractive photographs will have a greater impact on the internet where almost 90% of buyers begin their search.
               Owners often ask me why we suggest they “declutted” or remove family pictures, etc.  Certainly people see through all that?  The truth is some people do see past these things, but most people start focusing on the family pictures or a paint color they really don’t care for and leave the house without looking at what they came to see.  A nicely appointed, inviting home, shows better than empty or cluttered rooms.  That is why we always recommend our professional staging services to sellers which we include in our service.  Often, it’s best to detach from the décor and let a professional do the sprucing up.  We have had major success with even some of the simplest staging techniques.  One of our clients expressed pleasant surprise after her home was staged, she said it was like coming into a decorator’s home.  The home sold within weeks and the seller enjoyed every moment of her “new” home during that time!
               So don’t delay, call me at 631 765 5333, and we will be happy to meet with you.  We will assess your home’s “comparable market value” and if you wish, put a staging plan together that will suit your needs at the least amount of inconvenience to you. At Beninati Associates, we really listen, we care and we get you results!
*Source: National Association of Realtors® 2017 Profile of Home Staging.

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Memorial Day 2018…A Time to Remember Our Fallen Heroes

Memorial Day is a time to remember all the men and women who lost their lives serving our country.  This year again, we are reminded of our lost heroes by the moving display of poppies on the lawn of the American Legion Hall in Southold. The wearing of poppies in honor of America’s war dead is traditionally done on Memorial Day. 
             The tradition goes back to one of nature’s phenomena that occurred in war-torn battlefields during World War I, where the red field poppy (papaver rhoeas) was one of the first plants to grow. Its seeds scattered in the wind and sat dormant in the ground, only germinating when the ground was disturbed—as it was by the brutal fighting.
             The practice of wearing of poppies was further inspired by the poem “In Flanders Fields,” written in 1915 by Canadian soldier John McCrae when he saw the poppies in burials around his artillery position in Belgium.
Here is an excerpt from “In Flanders Fields,” by John McCrae, May 1915:

In Flanders fields the poppies blow

Between the crosses, row on row,

That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago

We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,

Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields...

The torch; be yours to hold it high...

            Today, poppies are both a symbol of loss of life and a symbol of recovery and new life, as we care for our servicemen damaged physically or emotionally. 
Please join us in thanking and honoring our service men and women, including our own Southold Veterans, and remembering those who have died in the service of our great Country.  If you would like to support the good work of our American Legion Auxiliary, Unit 803, you may send your donations to PO Box 591, Southold, NY 11971.

            Southold Town’s Memorial Day Parade begins at 10 AM, Monday , May 28th on Main Road and Boisseau Avenue. There is short a ceremony at the Gazebo at Main Road and Young’s Avenue.  After the parade, hot dogs and soda will be served at the Southold American Legion Hall – come one, come all!

Happy Birthday,’re our hero! We miss you ever so much...every day!!!

Sunday, May 20, 2018


Suffolk County home prices increased 7% in April, to a median price of $363,750 compared to $340,000 last year.  The number of sales transactions decreased 4.7% to 1,040 for the month and listings fell 13% .  Nassau County median price in April increased 4.2%  to $495,000, with a 3.2% increase in transactions and a 2.4% drop in inventory.   Southold Town’s annual median sale is higher than the county’s average at $565,000.

The higher prices and lower inventory for April, supports the competitive market for buyers, but also demonstrates that some sellers are considering options for using the strong seller’s market to their advantage sooner rather than later.  Newsday calls it a “HOT REAL ESTATE MARKET” where, “Long Island’s high home prices have prompted some sellers to come up with creative solutions.”  Some examples cited include an earlier than planned sale of a larger home and a move to a condo, thereby reducing maintenance and carrying costs.   Such a move, simplifies life as well as reduces expense.  A very creative couple, advanced their retirement plans without moving by selling their waterfront home and buying a “house” boat to live in locally at a marina until they are ready to retire and sail off into the sunset!

If you are thinking about selling and would like to discuss possibilities, now’s the time!  There is still time to get into this market and sell your home during the peak season.  Call us at 631 765 5333.  Visit our office at Main and Horton’s Lane in Southold, or email me at  We are here to help and I am happy to sit down with you to put together various short term and mid-term scenarios for your real estate investment.  At Beninati Associates, we listen, we care and we get results for you!

Source: Multiple Listing Service (MLS) of Long Island; Newsday, “Demand Hikes LI Home Prices,” May 15, 2018, pages A12-13.

Sunday, May 13, 2018


“High home prices and good economic conditions helped push the share of Americans who think it’s a good time to sell to a fresh record-high; however, the upward trend in the good-time-to-sell share seen since last spring has done little to release more for-sale inventory,” says Doug Duncan, chief economist and senior vice president at Fannie Mae.

We have been advising our clients and our readers that this is an ideal time to sell.  If you are planning to sell your home in the short term, don’t wait.  Take advantage of the low inventory and the high demand, especially in our North Fork marketplace, and especially during the next 2-3 months.  Remember it takes time to get your home in shape to sell.  Recently a client told me she did not realize how much had to be done and how much time needed to be invested to get the house ready for sale.
We have a team ready to help you get it done.  We will share our experienced and expert advice with you on how to get your home ready for sale AND we will help you do it! If that isn’t the best service you can get, I don’t know what is!

A word of caution... “the tightest supply in decades, combined with rising mortgage rates from historically low levels, will likely remain a hurdle for mobility and a persistent headwind for home sales,” says Duncan at Fannie Mae. 

We don’t know what next year will bring.  BUT we do know that in addition to rising prices due to low inventory and rising mortgage rates, the income tax changes will hit New Yorkers harder than most states,  the stock market is good today, but current volatility is unsettling for some.  With all this uncertainly, why not get in front of the curve, not behind the wave! Call us at 631 765 5333 or email me at, or even better, come in and sit down with us and let’s talk!

Sources: Fannie Mae’s National Housing Survey® (NHS); RISMedia e.News, May 9, 2018.