Friday, December 22, 2017

WE HOPE YOU "DANCE"....

 WE HOPE YOU "DANCE"...
 As we celebrate
 the holidays this year,
 let’s take time to be grateful for
 every day and all the blessings
 in our lives. May this verse inspire
 you to engage in the “dance”
 of life, and live each day
 to the fullest!

“We hope you never lose your sense of wonder,
May you get your fill to eat but never lose that hunger.
May you never take a single breath for granted,
May love never leave you empty-handed.
We hope you still feel small when you stand beside the ocean,
Whenever one door closes, may another open.
Please give faith a fighting chance,
And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance…

We hope you dance! We truly hope you dance!

We hope you never fear those mountains in the distance,
Never settle for the path of least resistance.
Living may mean taking chances, but they’re worth taking.
Loving might be a mistake, but it’s worth making.
Don’t let some hell-bent heart ever leave you bitter
When you come close to selling out – please reconsider.
Give the heavens above more than just a passing glance,
And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance…

We hope you dance! We truly hope you dance!”

All of us at Beninati Associates
Wish You a Blessed and Merry Christmas
and a Very Happy New Year.

Adapted from Lee Ann Womack’s “I Hope You Dance”

Sunday, December 17, 2017

2018 Vacation Rental Trends

Tourism on the North Fork is important to the health of our economy – it brings new businesses, jobs, and growth needed to sustain the services essential to our community.  If you offer your home for short term rental or if you are a vacation home renter, you know that things are changing.  Unfortunately, the trends from what travelers desire to what the town allows are going in opposite directions. 
Understanding some of the underlying market factors should help landlords, tenants and town government make better decisions as to how to go forward.
Vacation rental homes versus hotels are attractive to travelers especially:
·        those who are pet lovers – 31% of travelers want to take their pets with them.
·        roadtrippers – 33% of travelers take trips within 250 miles of their home.
·        travelers with special diets – 6 in 10 households have at least one dietary restriction and the rest are probably concerned about their weight! 
·        The cost of a vacation rental for a family needed 3 or more bedrooms is definitely lower than multiple rooms in a hotel or inn.    
Trip length is an important factor.  A recent study*, revealed that trip length has shrunk over thet past 3 years and projects that the recent shift to travelers taking shorter-length trips will likely continue in 2018.  Short trips (4-6 nights) and longer vacations (over 7 nights) have decreased by 4% over the last 3 years, while long weekend trips have increased 8% since 2014.   The move toward shorter trips may be due to busy families, tighter budgets, and work pressures.  Nevertheless, the trend is there and last year’s local rental code move to a two-week minimum negatively impacted the number of people renting.  If trip lengths continue to shrink, it will continue to reduce rental traffic on the North Fork.  So perhaps we should address the exceptions and not apply  across-the-board solutions that negatively impact the economic balance  of region.
Vacation rental home owners should be aware of local regulations and understand the penalties. It’s important for the vacation home owner to put controls in place so that there are no complaints for noise and overcrowding, if they wish to continue to benefit from rental marketplace.  Not only is it important to properly screen and manage tenants, vacation home owners should have appropriate insurance and  get written confirmation from their insurance agent as to damages and liability coverage.
Although the environment has become more complex, vacation rentals still offer needed lodging on the North Fork and a revenue benefit for home owners.   If you decide to offer your home for a short term rental, be sure to educate yourself as to what you can and cannot do.  Be a good neighbor and screen your tenants.  The best way to protect yourself is to use a qualified, honest rental agent to assist you.
Source: 2018 Vacation Rental Trends Report, Homeaway.com, inc., December 12, 2017.



Sunday, December 10, 2017

WHY YOU SHOULD LIST SOONER RATHER THAN LATER

               So often, sellers believe that our market on the North Fork is like the rest of Long Island, and they must wait to list their homes in the Spring.  In fact, ours is a strong second home market and most buyers want to purchase and close on their homes with enough time to make some improvements before Memorial Day rolls around.
              
              If you think about the time it takes to find a home, get financing and close, the smart buyer is looking now.  It takes about 2-3 months to find a home and 2-3 months to close. If a buyer starts looking today, they will have completed their purchase somewhere between March and May.  That would suggest, that to appeal to the typical second home buyer, you should be on the market right now!
               Another reason to list now is that your home will have less competition and get more attention, because so many sellers do wait for Spring, If your home is on the market, make sure it’s ready to show.  I know that’s a challenge when all the kids are home for the holiday, but make them part of the process.
               Holiday decorations often enhance the showing experience.  Just make sure it’s tasteful and not overdone.  Holiday music is another way to make the showing merry and bright!  I did an open house last weekend in a home that was nicely decorated and it was truly a pleasant experience for all who came.

               Lastly, remember that buyers who are out house hunting  at this time of year are motivated and ready to make a deal.  They will certainly benefit from their efforts and sellers who recognize and respond, will benefit as well!
             
              If don’t list your home next Spring – do it now!!!  We’ll help you, just call us at 631 765 5333 or email marie@beninatiassociates.com  or come on in and sit down and we can talk over a cup of coffee! 

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

WISHING YOU A HAPPY THANKSGIVING

Thanksgiving is one of the most cherished holidays of the year where family and friends gather and give thank.  The tradition dates back to 1621, when the Plymouth colonists shared a harvest feast with Native Americans, the Wampanoag Indians, who taught them where to fish, where to hunt and how to plant corn .  It’s believed that venison, wildfowl – likely roasted duck or goose, seafood lobster, clams and mussels, dried corn, porridge and simple cranberries, chestnuts and walnuts were was on the first Thanksgiving menu – but not likely turkey, potatoes, corn on the cob or pumpkin pie! 
            In 1863, in the midst of the Civil War, that President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a National Thanksgiving Day to be held on the fourth Thursday of each November .

            Whether your traditions are old ones or new ones, this time of year is for acknowledging the blessings in our lives, giving thanks for those blessings and sharing our abundance with others. May this year’s Thanksgiving serve as a time of gratitude for all our blessings and may we each, in our own place, share our love and happiness in each circumstance.

            Living on the North Fork, we have a great deal to be thankful for. We feel especially blessed to be in this wonderful part of our country.  More than ever we must pray for peace and understanding  throughout the world.  May God’s Goodness and man’s kindness to one another abound.


            All of us at Beninati Associates wish all of you, God’s Blessings and a very Happy Thanksgiving Holiday.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Is H.R. 1 Really a Tax Cut?

I’m been listening to the various Congresspersons on TV talking about the tax cut bill – but what they talk about is lower overall tax rates but what is proposed to offset the lower rates is a direct hit to consumers and homeowners. Not only will millions of homeowners not benefit from the proposal, many will get a tax increase. Additionally, homeowners could lose substantial equity by the predicted 10% drop in home values if this bill is enacted.  We have barely recovered from the real estate crash of 2008 – it’s taken almost 10 years.  What are our representatives thinking?

            The house legislation includes a cap on mortgage interest deduction for new mortgages, limits on the exemption on Capital Gains Tax from the sale of a primary residence, elimination of the deduction for state and local income or sales taxes, elimination of the Mortgage Interest Deduction for second homes, elimination of the deduction for moving expenses, elimination of the deduction for personal casualty losses, such as from hurricanes or wildfires, elimination of the deduction on interest on student loans and elimination of the deduction for medical expenses, even for the elderly. All this from a bill that is supposed to improve the current system.
           
Home ownership is one of the bedrocks of our country and we need to make sure that any tax reform legislation protects middle-class home owners. Homeowners already pay 83% of all federal income taxes. Home-owning families with incomes from $50,000 to $200,000 could face average tax hikes of $815 in the year after enactment?
            Please write your congress men and women (Senators Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, Congressman Lee Zeldin, US House of Representatives) and ask them to reject this bill AND protect middle class homeowners. This legislation if not modified is a clear and present danger to American homeownership and could possible turn America from a home-owning nation to a home-renting nation. Tax reform should not become a tax increase for middle class homeowners.



Sources: National Association of Realtors, The Unveiled Tax Reform Legislation and Its Negative Impact on Housing Prices, November 13, 2017; The Wall Street Journal, Tax Plans Tweak the American Dream, November 13, 2017.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

A MATTER OF CHEMISTRY...and Expertise

            Finding a good realtor who you like and trust is the first step in selling or buying a home, and the most important step.

            For sellers, that person will be responsible for directing the marketing efforts for your home – the pricing, advertising, open houses, negotiations, analysis of results, and more.  You will be working closely with the person you choose.  That’s why it’s important you don’t choose the first realtor you happen to meet.  Studies show that well over 50% of sellers hire the first realtor they call.  For buyers, knowledge of the local market, expertise in town code and experience in negotiations is crucial to getting you the home you desire for the right price.
            Take the time to interview candidates at both franchise and boutique, independent firms. Consider recommendations of trusted friends and relatives.  Check to see that the agent has the experience and expertise for your particular search or property.  Ask about the agent’s track record.  Always work with someone who knows the area. Remember all real estate is local.  Discuss the marketing plan for your property if you are selling.  What kind of resource commitment is he or she able and willing to make to you. 
            Then choose the professional with the approach and plan that works best for you.  Most importantly, be sure to pick the person who makes you feel comfortable and confident that they will get the job done!  Choosing an agent who will represent your best interest in your real estate transaction is the most important decision you will make.  Remember that it is a “team” effort, and you should feel comfortable that the person you choose will deal with you truthfully and have the courage to tell you what you may not want to hear if needed.  Yes, it is a matter of chemistry but also professionalism, honesty and ethics! 
            At Beninati Associates, we are experienced, professional realtors. Our team is dedicated to offering the highest level of service.  They have been business owners and have seasoned experience in sales.   We are proud to have each and every one of them with us!
            Come visit our office, and speak to us about your selling or buying needs. We’ll take good care of you always. At Beninati Associates, we listen, we really care, and we get results for you!           


Congratulations to all the newly elected officials...may you be guided by your conscience and have the courage to always do what is right.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

No Fall Cooldown in Housing This Season

Although autumn began in September, activity in the housing market remained at summer-like levels through October, according to realtor.com®'s latest data preview. On a National level prices in October were 10% higher than the same time last year, with the national median at $275,000 and the national median age of inventory at 73 days.

"This month we aren't just experiencing still-summery weather—we're also seeing a sizzlingly competitive housing market at a time when things are usually cooling off for the fall," says Danielle Hale, chief economist at realtor.com. "With not enough homes on the market to meet the high demand, homes are selling 8% more quickly than a year ago even though prices are as high as they've ever been.

"For potential buyers who waited until fall hoping to score a bargain, the pickings are disappointingly slim," Hale says, "but one potential bright spot for market-fatigued buyers is that new listings are up slightly from one year ago. While new listings declined in the first four months of the year, they have increased on a year-over-year basis in five of the last six months."
The 3rd quarter results for the entire East End shows a significant increase in the median sale price over last year.  Southold Town did particularly well.  The median sales price for the 3rd quarter was the highest ever at $597,500 versus $535,000 last year – an increase of 11.7% quarter to quarter.  Dollar sales increased 17.5% for the quarter – the highest sales increase among all East End towns.  It’s significant to observe that the growth has been steady and consistent, unlike most of the other towns on the east end.
There is no question that the North Fork – especially Southold Town is getting noticed and sales results have reflected the popularity and desirability of the area.  Buyers, get in as early as you can, the trend will only benefit you going forward if you buy sooner rather than later.  Call us at 631 765 5333 or visit our website or email us at Broker@BeninatiAssociates.com.  We listen, we care, and we get results!


Sources: RIS Media, Power broker report, October 31, 2017; Suffolk Research Services, Inc., Comparative 3rd Quarter 2017, October 21, 2017.

Monday, October 30, 2017

HOME RENOVATIONS ON THE RISE: WHAT PAYS OFF?

A Harvard housing study* earlier this year predicted significant increases in home remodeling.  This does make a lot of sense for several reasons.  The continuing low inventory levels are limiting buyer choices, and increasing prices, making moving more difficult for younger people who don’t have much equity in their current homes.   It also makes home improvements a good bet if you are planning to sell your home in the next year or so.
            The most important part of the remodeling decision is where to put your investment so that you get the best return.   Not every renovation will pay off and sometimes very stylized types of changes may actually be a negative when a house is for sale.  So think carefully before you renovate, if your plan is long term (over 5 years) and you’ve always wanted that built-in mirrored canopy over your bed, do it! Just understand, it may have to be replaced when it comes time to sell your home.
          
  Here are some of the best investments to consider that will give you a return:

·       Wood floors – they never seem to go out of style. They are warm under foot and can be stained, bleached, or otherwise refinished to suit many different home décor styles.
·       Updated bathrooms - the average person spends about 45 minutes a day in the bathroom, so a stylish and comfortable environment is always appreciated.  Again, if you’re thinking of selling in the near future,  things like double sinks and handheld showers are wonderful conveniences.
·       Updated kitchens – they always seem to be where people gather in a home.  Probably one of the most important remodels you can do and the most expensive if you don’t shop smartly.  Consider a center island, if your kitchen has the space, where  your family and guests can congregate and where you can entertain while you’re preparing dinner.  Choose your cabinets and appliances with care.  Cabinetry can be unnecessarily costly – look for good quality, it’s not always necessary to have custom made.  Choose upscale appliances that are functional, but economize on extras.  You don’t need every bell and whistle.

           If your home needs updating and it’s in the budget, do it now and enjoy the improvements yourself, while you’re living in the house.  If you’re thinking of selling your home in the next year or so, we would be happy to meet with you to go over remodeling ideas that add to your living enjoyment and your home’s value when it comes time to sell.  Call us at 631 765 5333 or email me at marie@beninatiassociates.com. 

At Beninati Associates, we listen, we really care, and we get results!



* Improving Americas Housing 2017:Demographic Change and the Remodeling Outlook. Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University. 

Sunday, October 22, 2017

PROTECT AND CHECK YOUR CREDIT INFORMATION

The recent Equifax data breach was one of the largest hacks on record – about 140 million Americans are potentially affected. Yesterday’s news reported even more consumers may be exposed to identity theft than this original estimate. The implications for buyers applying for mortgages is significant, since the data that was compromised includes social security numbers, addresses and credit card information, etc. There will be an effect on mortgage processing both in terms of slowing down the process -due to more verifying and cross-checking of information by lenders - to out-and-out mortgage fraud. As a consumer, if you have been affected, it will and likely increase your cost of processing.

What should you do to detect if your credit records have been compromised and better yet how can you protect yourself from fraudulent use of your credit identity? Here are three worthwhile recommendations from security experts in the field:

1. Check Your Exposure – see if the Equifax breach affected you. Go to httpps://trustedidpremier.com/eligibility/eligibility.html

2. Freeze Your Accounts - if you have been affected (and even if you have not but wish to better secure your information), contact each of the big credit-reporting companies to freeze your credit, either online or by calling ( TransUnion 888 909 8872, Experian 888 397 3742, Equifax 800 349 9960). By freezing your accounts you will be able to use your credit cards but no one will be able to access your credit scores or get information without your knowledge or permission.

3. Monitor Your Credit – many credit card companies offer a free service where you can check your credit regularly. You can also purchase a monitoring service. It’s far less complex to undo fraudulent activity if you pick it up early, rather than after months of activity.
These suggestions represent an added burden to you, but in this world where consumer credit files are so critical to being able to borrow for a home or auto or large purchases, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cures!”

At Beninati Associates, we’re looking out for you!

Source: “How Equifax Breach Could Hurt Home Sales,” realtor.com (September 18, 2017).

Sunday, October 15, 2017

ARE YOUR SMART DEVICES SPYING ON YOU?

            With the increasing sophistication of smart devices with cameras, microphones, and internet connections, have you ever thought about the possibility that your Apple smartphone, Nest thermostat, robot vac, nanny cam, or your smart refrigerator could be snooping on you?!  Even your beloved ALEXA, high-end Samsung Smart TV or your automobile could be a spy!
            " Anything connected to the internet can be exploited by hackers or by the government, " says Chris Dore, an attorney specializing in these issues. But before you hang a dark curtain over your smart TV and break out the tinfoil hat, there are a few things you can do to protect your privacy.

1. Change your passwords
Changing passwords is your first line of defense. We already know to do  this for our laptops and phones, but many of us don’t think about passwords for smart appliances. If the product  is "password protected,"  go to the manufacturer’s website to learn how to change it.

2. Update your software
Software updates, as annoying as they are, often address newly discovered security weaknesses. Homeowners who don't refresh their software leave themselves vulnerable to attacks. Always download new updates.

3. Cover your cameras and turn off voice automation
Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg puts a piece of tape over the camera and microphone jack on his laptop—and you should, too.  This prevents hackers from listening in or watching you remotely.  You can also turn off the voice automation settings on your smart TV, and other devices.

 4. Unplug devices when they're not in use
For the most part, devices can't spy on you if they're not plugged in. So do more than just shut down your smart TV or laptop when you're not around, experts say, disconnect it entirely from its power source.
            These are just a few tips from experts in the field.  Some may seem like overkill, but with the proliferation of devices with cameras, microphones and with the added assistance of the internet, we are more vulnerable than ever.  Take heed, take care!



Source:  “Are Your Smart Home Devices Spying on You? How to Protect Yourself,”  by Clare Trapasso,                            realtor.com (March 8, 2017).

Sunday, October 8, 2017

PROTECT AND CHECK YOUR CREDIT INFORMATION

The recent Equifax data breach was one of the largest hacks on record – about 140 million Americans are potentially affected.  Yesterday’s news reported even more consumers may be exposed to identity theft than this original estimate.  The implications for buyers applying for mortgages is significant, since the data that was compromised includes social security numbers, addresses and credit card information, etc.  There will be an effect on mortgage processing both in terms of slowing down the process -due to more verifying and cross-checking of information by lenders - to out-and-out mortgage fraud.  As a consumer, if you have been affected, it will and likely increase your cost of processing.
            
What should you do to detect if your credit records have been compromised and better yet how can you protect yourself from fraudulent use of your credit identity?  Here are three worthwhile recommendations from security experts in the field:

1. Check Your Exposure – see if the Equifax breach affected you. Go to httpps://trustedidpremier.com/eligibility/eligibility.html

2. Freeze Your Accounts - if you have been affected (and even if you have not but wish to better secure your information), contact each of the big credit-reporting companies to freeze your credit, either online or by calling ( TransUnion 888 909 8872, Experian 888 397 3742, Equifax 800 349 9960).  By freezing your accounts you will be able to use your credit cards but no one will be able to access your credit scores or get information without your knowledge or permission. 

3. Monitor Your Credit – many credit card companies offer a free service where you can check your credit regularly.  You can also purchase a monitoring service.  It’s far less complex to undo fraudulent activity if you pick it up early, rather than after months of activity.
            
These suggestions represent an added burden to you, but in this world where consumer credit files are so critical to being able to borrow for a home or auto or large purchases, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cures!”  At Beninati Associates, we’re looking out for you!


Source: “How Equifax Breach Could Hurt Home Sales,” realtor.com (September 18, 2017).

Sunday, September 24, 2017

MULTIPLE BIDS – WHAT’S A BUYER TO DO?

Low inventory and high demand has increased the frequency of multiple offers.  Homes that are new to the market are being sold quickly with many receiving multiple bids.  Even homes that have been on the market for a few months are receiving multiple offers.
               
How do buyers and sellers manage the process when thrust into the arena of multiple bids and bidding wars?  For sellers, the best advice is to prepare and discuss with your Realtor how you wish to handle multiple offers should they occur. 
          
For buyers, handling the process astutely may make the difference between being the winning bidder or losing the house to someone else.  Here are a few important things to consider:

1. Be realistic as to the price you offer.  Low ball offers generally only slow things down and as the bidding heats up may also predisposition the seller to opt for another buyer.

2.  Get preapproved and offer proof of funds for a cash offer– the seller will be more secure in accepting your terms if they know the cash is readily available.

3.  Pick a “walk away number”. It should be a range, and it’s best to do this before you start bidding.         Your range should be modified (up or down) as you receive more information on the property.  Finally,  be sure to ask yourself and your partner, “if we lose the house, will we regret not going higher?”

4  Be flexible as to terms.  This is something to talk over with your realtor.  There are situations where timing can be more important to a seller than a higher price.  We recently had a seller who wanted a signed contract by a certain date – the winning bidder was not the highest bidder but did fulfill the seller’s requirement.

5.  Once you select the property you want to buy, don’t dawdle.  Make your offer and counter quickly.  As more time passes, you are opening the door to other bidders.  Heed the advice of your Realtor, she/he knows what’s happening behind the scenes.

6.  Remember, the agent handling the negotiations is a New York State Licensed Realtor. He/she is bound by ethics and state licensing laws to treat all parties honestly and to submit offers and counter offers promptly.  You should trust what you are being told.


When there are multiple bids on a property, the challenge falls on all the parties to the transaction to treat each other fairly.  But ultimately, the seller calls the shots.  Remember, when a seller is more comfortable with a buyer because of terms, price, circumstance or because they were first, they will get the house!

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Home Staging Speeds up a Sale


              62% of sellers' agents say that staging a home decreases the amount of time a home spends on the market, according to a recent survey on staging by the National Association of Realtors®.  These realtors know how important it is for buyers to be able to picture themselves living in a home and according to NAR's most recent report, “staging a home makes that process much easier for potential buyers," said NAR President William E. Brown. "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 can be the extra step sellers take to help sell their home more quickly and for a higher dollar value."
               77% of buyers' agents said that staging a home makes it easier for buyers to visualize the property as their future home.  38% of buyers' agents said that staging positively affects a home's value if the home is decorated to appeal to the largest number of potential buyers.  Almost all buyers' agents said that staging has a positive effect on buyers.
               50% of sellers' agents report the value added from staging averages between 3-9%.  While 5% of agents reported an increase of 11-15%.  49%  of buyers' agents, reported that staging a home increases its dollar value by an average of 3-8%.
               Realtors®  agree that the living room is the most important room in a home to stage, followed by the master bedroom, the kitchen, and then the outdoor space.   Beyond staging, agents also  recommend sellers should  decluttering the home and thorough home cleaning including carpet cleaning.
               At Beninati Associates, we have seen the positive results of staging – higher selling prices and faster closings.  We have a professional home stager, we have our own 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, with our staging  and  marketing expertise.

*Source:  NAR 2017 Profile of Home Staging, www.nar.realtor/reports/profile-of-home-staging.
The National Association of Realtors®, "The Voice for Real Estate," is America's largest trade association, representing more than 1.2 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Remembering 9/11...

Monday is the 16th anniversary of the World Trade Center tragedy. Each year we dedicate this column to honor, reflect and pay tribute to those lost in the attacks that so shocked this country and the world and continues to threaten peace. 

Our lives have been changed forever by the attacks on the Twin Towers, the Pentagon and the attempted attack on the White House and the Capitol. 

Let’s take time to remember the lost 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 honor what we hold sacred.  The inspiring stories from the recent storm, Hurricane Harvey in Texas, do credit to the American spirit, the goodness that comes from within - our country’s true heritage.


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

Sunday, September 3, 2017

STAGING OUTSIDE - IN

Staging the exterior of your home is just as important as staging the inside, perhaps even more important.   If buyers are turned off by the exterior, they often will not go inside.  If there are major exterior repairs that have to be made, discuss them with your realtor.  There are some that must be addressed, like a roof leak.  And some that should be addressed like making sure gutters drain away from the foundation and correcting a negative grade around the foundation.

There are other improvements that will help you sell your home as well. 

Clean your home's siding, walkways, windows and screens. A quick power wash will remove dust and mildew. If you decide to do this task yourself, be careful not to damage your exterior using too forceful a water stream. When in doubt, hire a professional.  While you’re at it,  clean windows, screens, exterior doors, and walkways.   Give your front door a fresh coat of paint – make it say, “Welcome!”

Clean your outdoor furniture.  Spruce up your existing furniture with a quick power wash, repair or replace it if it is beyond cleaning.  Dilapidated outdoor furniture just gives a bad impression.

Refresh your garden. Trim bushes, especially in the front of your home, remove weeds and dead bushes and trees.  Plant season-appropriate color or buy some pots of seasonal plants for the front entryway.  It is amazing what a refreshed garden can do to your home’s curb appeal.  Fall is coming, clear leaves often and particularly before the weekend.

Simple tweaks to the exterior of your home can have a big impact on your home's final selling price.  By improving the look of the outside of your home, you will increase the amount buyers are willing to offer and make your home the cleanest real estate listing on the block.  We can attest to that – we’ve helped our clients stage outside and in.  It pays off with a speedier sale and higher price! Call us at 631 765 5333 - we’ll help you too!

HAPPY LABOR DAY!!


Source: RIS Media, Blog, August 16, 2017, Charles Muotoh.

Friday, August 25, 2017

HOME PRICES CONTINUE TO RISE...

    The  median price for a home sold on Long Island, in July 2017 was $450,000 an 8.4% increase over last year.  Suffolk County reported a median sale price of $365,000, a 5.8% increase over a year ago.  The total number of Long Island residential inventory in July 2017 was 17,252 representing an 10% decrease over last July.              
          
     For the second quarter of 2017, home prices across the United States increased 6.2%, according to the latest quarterly report by the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR). The pace outdoes the previous peak observed in the third quarter of 2016.
        
       “The 2.2 million net new jobs created over the past year generated significant interest in purchasing a home in what was an extremely competitive spring buying season,” says Lawrence Yun, chief economist at NAR. “Listings typically flew off the market in under a month—and even quicker in the affordable price range—in several parts of the country. With new supply not even coming close to keeping pace, price appreciation remained swift in most markets.”
      
         Single-family home prices went up in 87% of the markets assessed in the report. Thirteen percent of the market areas saw prices up by double digits. At the national level, the median existing single-family home price was $255,600.

         
      For buyers looking to purchase on the North Fork this year, don’t let the lazy days of summer get in the way of your home search!  Homes that are properly priced are selling quickly, often within days.  So any delay - especially at the entry level of the market - and the home will be gone.   There are still great possibilities – look to homes that need updating or smaller homes that can be easily modified or expanded to suit your needs – and make your move!  We have a few great values available in this week’s open houses.  Come visit our open houses or call us at 631 765 5333, we can help you sort it all out!

 References: RIS News, “LI Housing Data for July 2017”;  RIS media.com, “Home Prices Surge on Strong Buying Season,” August, 2017.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

THE ECLIPSE ON THE NORTH FORK

     I can’t think of anything going on in Real Estate right now that is even close to the momentous occasion occurring on Monday, August 21st !  We will be able to experience a partial eclipse of the sun by the moon. A total eclipse from any given location, such as Southold, occurs on average once every 375 years.  The last time the solar eclipse crossed the lower 48 states was 1979 and the next time will be 2045.  So unless you want to wait another 28 years, take some time in the early afternoon on Monday to experience it. 
         
   We will be experiencing a 70% eclipse and you can enjoy the North American Solar Eclipse Day at the Custer Institute & Observatory, on Main Bay View Road in Southold, which will be open on Monday from 1 pm to 4pm. If you do want to check out the partial solar eclipse, do NOT look at the Sun without proper filters. Do not use sunglasses. They will NOT protect your eyes!  Please make sure your eyes are protected.  Buy glasses specially made to protect your eyes, don’t look through binoculars or telescopes without special filtration  devises for viewing the sun.  Even a few seconds of staring at the sun will damage your eyes or may possibly cause blindness. And be especially mindful of the children.
     
       Established on 1927, The Custer Institute, it is the oldest public observatory on Long Island. We are fortunate to have the Observatory here in Southold. The Custer Institute is a not-for-profit organization and relies on our support, so show your support and make a donation, if you can.
           
Enjoy the Solar Eclipse - Have a party!

References:
1. Custer Institute & Observatory, 1115 Main Bayview Road, Southold, 631 765 2626.

2. The Old Farmer’s Almanac, Great American Eclipse Central, Old_Farmers_Almanac@yankeepub.com

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.