About Me

Sunday, December 30, 2018

We Hope You "Dance"...


 As we approach the New Year, we wish you a year where you are inspired to live each day to the fullest, and inspire others to engage in the “dance” of life!

“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!”

We are blessed to be here on the North Fork and thank all our family and friends for their love and support ...and we thank you, and wish you the Happiest of New Years!
Adapted from Lee Ann Womack’s , “I Hope You Dance.”

Sunday, November 18, 2018


As the holidays approach I’m often asked whether it’s a good idea to list a house now or wait for spring, or whether to leave a house on the market or take it off until the spring.  You may wonder if the fall and winter months, will bring about a home sale but the “off-peak” time to sell can actually be the perfect moment for sellers.
Right now our advice is full steam ahead!  Studies show that, on average, homes listed in November and December are more likely to sell, more quickly, and more closely approach the asking price. In a study conducted by Realtor.com, nearly 80% of the real estate professionals surveyed said that more serious buyers emerge during the holidays, and less competition from other properties makes it an ideal time to sell.

Also ,there are currently, significant economic factors that point toward taking action sooner rather than later.  One the plus side, demand is still high and supply is low – a perfect scenario for a quicker sale if you price smart and make your home inviting to the prospective buyer.  Business is active right now,  even with the Thanksgiving holiday upon us.  Inventory of homes on the market at this time of year decreases – why would you want to take your home out of the running when there are less runners!  Buyers may have held out through the busy summer months hoping to find a better deal, and now they are searching with increased urgency to buy their home and not extend their search another year.

On the cautionary side, the economy right now is good, but the stock market is volatile. Also, people living in highly taxed states like New York, California and New Jersey will be facing lower tax deductions for mortgage interest, real estate and other local taxes next year – a scenario that may increase their taxes.

If you are hesitant to list your home – don’t be! Demand is strong and the inventory is low – a great opportunity to sell your property!  As long as weather permits, buyers will go house hunting. They know that to be in place by summer, they need to make a deal now, especially if they require financing. We are continuing our weekly open houses each Saturday through the winter and invite prospective buyers to come and see the values we offer.  Call us for a market analysis.  Or just come in and chat – were available 7 days a week! And besides, Lee has lots of espresso brewing!!!!

Sunday, November 11, 2018


Veterans Day, a U.S. federal holiday, is a time to honor and thank those who are serving or have served in the military and are still with us. Veteran’s Day is always on November 11th.  The date commemorates the signing of the agreement that ended World War I at 11:00 A.M., November 11, 1918 – that’s 100 years ago!!!
Originally called Armistice Day, the name of the holiday was changed to Veterans Day in 1954. At that time, it became a day to honor all the men and women who have served in the armed forces of the United States. Each year, special ceremonies are held at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia.
If you would like to learn more about our nation’s veterans search these topics on-line   ...and share them with your children:

We owe a great deal to these men and women who served and currently serve in the military to protect our freedom.  My dad proudly wears his WWII Veterans hat, and so many kind people thank him for his service!  Thank You to all our Veterans - our friends, neighbors and family members who have given so much for this country.  May we be worthy of your service and sacrifice.

Sunday, November 4, 2018


               Next Tuesday, we all have the right and the duty to exercise our freedom to vote for the candidates of our choice.  In these times of divisive political talk and horrendous acts of violence, it’s important for all of us to examine our own “political talk”.  I found these wise thoughts, just this morning, from an inspirational daily reader,  the Christophers:

 “The Ten Political Commandments
     1.      Do not put all your hopes in a political or economic theory or party line.
     2.      Do not worship political figures or images.  
     3.      God does not belong to your political party nor does God endorse your political opinion.
     4.      Do not use God to support your political theories.
     5.      Respect the political views of other family members, friends and co-workers.
     6.      Disagree but don’t be cruel or disrespectful.
     7.      Do not inject politics in every conversation.
     8.      Be honest when you vote.
     9.      Defend the truth even if that makes you unpopular.
   10.     Accept ballot results without gloating or moaning.

Use your God-given intellect and free will for the peace- filled common good.”


*Source: Three Minutes a Day, The Christophers, Volume 44

Saturday, October 27, 2018


Like any investment, buying low and selling high is the key to maximizing profitably.  However, a volatile market makes it difficult to recognize when a stock is high and going down and when a stock is low and going up.  The TV pundits seemed almost desperate this week, advising investors not to panic and searching for good news among the downward trending prices.
Real estate on the other hand, moves at a slower pace and monthly tracking by government and industry analysts are easier to understand and react to.  Because of the 2008 crash, which was fraught with fraud at high levels and throughout the segment, we have more regulation and a more stable environment.  We also saw a gradual climb in prices that took 10 years to get where we are. 
Recent news on Real Estate suggest that low inventories, higher home prices and, “a new tax law that reduces incentives for home ownership have weighed on the housing sector this year.” Even NYC property prices are softening.  September sales of homes in the U.S., were down 4.1% from a year earlier, “the seventh straight month of decline.” On the other hand, inventory supply is still low but rising, and there are “signs of strong demand.”  
Softening sales and prices, increasing inventory and strong demand, mortgage rates still under 5%- all factors suggesting that this may be a good time to consider investing in real estate.  If you are looking, don’t take a winter break – you will likely lose opportunities.  If you are thinking of buying, start now and take advantage of this favorable confluence of factors.  If you are selling, be realistic about your pricing and insist on aggressive and consistent marketing from your broker.   For help with all your real estate needs, call us at Beninati Associates, we get results!

Source: The Wall Street Journal, October 20-21, 2018, Home-Sales Slump Deepens, pages A1-2.

Sunday, October 21, 2018


RIS Media reported that the trends of fewer closings and stabilizing inventory continued through September, punctuated by a surprisingly big 12% year-over-year drop in national home sales, with median sales price of $241,000, marking the 30th consecutive month of year-over-year price increases, and the highest September price in the past 10-years.  Available inventory of homes for sale, dropped for the 119th consecutive month, according to the report, but the decline of appears to be lessening, a positive trend toward market equilibrium.

The Wall Street Journal reflects, “home-price growth has slowed for the last several months and is expected to continue slowing as mortgage rates rise. The volume of existing-homes sales has fallen compared with a year earlier for six straight months.”
The good news is that the state of the housing market is far less volatile than it was ten years ago.  Also new-home starts have been increasing but at more sustainable rates.  All reflected in a gradual improvement in the number of homes on the market. 
As home buyers and sellers, how does this affect you?  If you are selling your home, it’s important to price your home right, keep it in good repair and aggressively market your property.  If you are a buyer, the low inventory levels reduce the number of possibilities and tend to keep prices up, so act when you see something you like and you feel it’s priced right. 
The report also recommends that “in circumstances like these, where the market is tricky to navigate, both buyers and sellers can benefit by aligning themselves with a professional agent—a local expert who can cut through the noise and advocate on their behalf.”

Sources: RIS Media, Brand Report: Home Sales Tumble 12 Percent as Prices Remain at Record Levels, October 16, 2018; THE WALL STREET JOURNAL, The Soft but Stable Housing Market, page A2, October 15, 2018.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Poll Reveals Most Annoying Neighbors

A National Holiday created in 2003, National Good Neighbor Day was celebrated this year on September 28th – did you know that? We all know and appreciate good neighbors, but what about the other end of the spectrum – the not-so-good neighbor? You might build or buy a home that’s a perfect sanctuary, but you have little control over what happens around it, especially when it comes to neighbors. Whether your dwelling is urban, suburban or on a private island, if you’re human, you’re bound to be irritated by things your neighbors do.
In a recent poll, ImproveNet, an online home improvement site, set out to identify the cities in America where neighbors roil each other most, and a laundry list of the most common complaints.  They surveyed residents from 24 of the biggest cities in America, and, inevitably, there were winners and losers. Atop the list of most annoying cities are Dallas, Miami and Austin. New York was 6th on the list. Cities where neighbors are least annoying include Minneapolis, Portland and Atlanta.
Without question, noise is the leading offense. Loud music is the top culprit in that category. People also cite loud adults, kids, pets and parties as top ten issues. Loud talking and shouting is the second most annoying thing that neighbors do!
General grumpiness also made the top ten, along with parking issues and dog poop. Other modes of annoyance include smells (tobacco, pets, cooking) and filth (overflowing garbage, dirty yard, dirty home exterior) and boundary disputes.

The poll also asked respondents, “Did you confront anyone about it?” Results were close to an even split—56% have confronted a neighbor. For those who have, face-to-face is the preferred method, followed by calling the police, phone call, through an association, or an attorney.
          This poll certainly should makes us stop and consider if we are good neighbors.  It is worth the effort, it will only make our community a better place to live.

Source: ImproveNet Poll, October 1, 2018, Methodology: In August 2018, 2,500 adult residents of 24 cities were surveyed. Results are based on a sample of at least 100 residents from each city.

Sunday, October 7, 2018

COMMERCIAL MARKET ON THE NORTH FORK- More than what meets the eye

Over the years that we have been doing business on the North Fork we have been involved in a number of very large and small commercial transactions.  The North Fork is a resort area with wonderful natural resources, vineyards and farms, and creek, bay, and sound front shorelines that attract visitors, who see what we see and want to stay.  This supports the residential real estate market, but the commercial ventures are what sustain the level of business that makes everything work. Without the jobs created by the commercial activities – farms, vineyards, breweries, food establishments, restaurants, service businesses, shops, Tanger outlets, boating, fishing, etc. – we would not flourish, we would not see our real estate values sustained, and we would see a decline in business, property values, population and all the related activities.
In recent years we have seen a slow but steady level of growth in the commercial real estate market.  But in the last year or so, the growth has accelerated.  It’s all good – new businesses, new ideas, make our communities flourish and bring jobs and prosperity to the community.  Hopefully, our younger people will be able to find good jobs with the new businesses and stay in the community.
Buying or leasing commercial space is not the same as buying a home.  The investment metrics are pretty cut and dry, but the vision and passion of the entrepreneur is what drives a deal and eventually makes for success.  Often, a new idea meets with skepticism, and push back just because it’s different.   It has happened that someone, who may want to open a restaurant, or build senior housing, or other type of business venture, meets with months and years of bureaucratic red tape. Unfortunately, good, competent, sincere, business people go away, rebuffed and discouraged, having spent precious time and money to no avail.
               If we are to continue to sustain our local economy, it must grow.  We must embrace new ideas, new businesses that support our way of life, but not restrict growth or be afraid of change. Local legislation should be supportive, not restrictive or punitive.  It’s time for a breath of fresh air to fill the lungs of all our elected and appointed officials.  Listen to your constituents! You can and should protect our way of life but not by closing the door to new fresh ideas or restrictive town code. Do what is right.  Go forward not backward.  

Sunday, September 30, 2018


With high home prices and increasing home mortgage rates, is it better to wait to buy and hope that home prices will fall, or buy now because mortgage rates are still low and but are predicted to go up.  There are some unknowns – will prices continue to go up because of low inventory and high demand or have prices peaked and will they begin to soften over the winter and into 2019 when the new tax changes hit middle and upper income New Yorkers’ pockets.

Depending on which scenario you buy into, it appears that buying now may be a better strategy than waiting, because the mortgage rate increase over time would amount to paying higher dollars overall in interest than you would save even if there was a decline in prices.  

An example with a set of assumptions makes it easier to see.  For the statisticians among my readers, I’m keeping this simple.
           Assumption: Purchase a home for $500,000 with a $400,000 30-year fixed rate mortgage at 4.5% today(current rates) versus purchasing a home next year with a 5% price increase and a 5% mortgage interest rate (predicted rate increase.)
           The monthly payment is $2,027 at 4.5% on $500,000 purchase with 20% down, versus $2,255 at 5% on $525,000 or $228 more each month.  The total interest you would pay for the 4.5% loan is $329,600 and for the 5% loan $391,680  -  $62,080 more interest over the 30-years, plus $25,000 more in purchase price.  If prices drop 5%, the interest paid would still be $25,000 more over the life of the loan.

Without a crystal ball, we don’t know exactly what rates will be next year, but they certainly will not be lower.  We don’t know what prices will be next year, they may continue to rise, a likely scenario, but perhaps modestly.  One thing is clear - rising interest rates will impact your overall cost the longer you wait to buy.

If you’re planning to buy a home on the North Fork, don’t bet on prices falling, because they would have to fall significantly to offset predicted increases in interest rates.  Act on what you know now, take advantage of the low mortgage rates today and lock in a fixed rate.  The North Fork is a good investment and a great place to live.

Whether you are buying or selling the team at Beninati Associates has the experience and expertise to help you. Call us at 631  765 5333 or visit our office at the corner of Horton’s Lane and Main Road in Southold. 

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 broker@beninatiassociates.com 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 realtor.com, 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: RISMedia.com 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.

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 Realtor.com, Zillow, and MLSLI.com 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, www.nar.realtor/reports/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 www.BeninatiAssociates.com 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, www.AAA.com; www.BicycleSafety.com; www.nsf.com (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, Chris...you’re our hero! We miss you ever so much...every day!!!