Sunday, January 27, 2019

How to Beat the “Housing Market Blues”

Housing market news hasn’t been front and center in the Wall Street Journal for quite some time.  But Wednesday, the decline in existing-home closings for December, made the front page. Existing home sales fell to a seasonally adjusted rate of 6.4% in December, 2018.  The fact is, sales have been declining somewhat for several months, although not significantly until “the surge in stock-market volatility...and rising interest rates, which pushed up mortgages rates in November to their highest levels in seven years.” 
Mortgage rates have come down in the past few weeks, as a result of the Federal Reserve dialing back on some of their earlier plans to raise rates in 2019.  It’s no surprise that housing sales would stumble - housing is a rate sensitive industry. The Fed’s position affected the stock market as well. The voluble stock market also contributed to lower activity in the fall and lower closings in December.
The important thing to keep in mind is to understand how all of this affects you as a buyer or as a seller and what you should do?  The key to besting the “housing market blues” is to get in front of the predicted trends and take action.
If you are a buyer, lucky you, it’s an opportune time to shop for a home and get a great deal.  Line up your financing, have your down payment in hand, and get going.  This is a window of opportunity that will likely change, perhaps even in a few months.  It may also be a good time to move some assets from the stock market to real estate with a self-directed IRA. 
If you are a seller, and your home is on the market, reassess your situation.  Sit down with your realtor and discuss options open to you - enhance presentation or condition of your home, address the pricing, and explore additional marketing opportunities.  Your agent is your partner – work with her/him. 
If you are planning to sell your home, move as quickly as possible – get your house in shape, and put it on the market.  Waiting is an option, but not in the short term, only if you’re prepared to put your plans on hold for a couple of years of more. 
Our advice is to put your plans in motion, don’t put your life on hold. Theodore Roosevelt said, “Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.”  We are here, ready to help you figure out what you can do with what you have, and then... get things going.  Just call us, 631-765-5333!

Sources: Slump in Housing Market Deepens, pages A1-A2; The Housing-Market Blues Aren’t Going to Be Over Soon, page B14, The Wall Street Journal, January 23, 2019. National Association of Realtors

Sunday, January 20, 2019


Over 90% of home searches today start with online large real estate portals such as and Zillow.  Most properties are available on all these websites as well as proprietary sites like ours –  Everyone wants the best house they can get. And we all want a “deal”.  When it comes to getting value – the old adage, “you get what you pay for” almost always holds true. 
The best way to go about shopping for a home is to define what’s important to you, your partner and family. Make a list of the six to ten features of the home and locations that are desirable to you. Then prioritize and decide where you can be flexible and where you cannot.  Sort you list into “must haves,” and “nice to have.”  You may also want to get input from your children, other family members and your financial advisor.
Now it’s time to CHOOSE your real estate agent. If you use an online real estate portal, you will likely be referred to an agent, usually not the listing agent, who has paid Zillow to refer their name to potential buyers making inquiries on the internet.  That’s the only criteria Zillow uses. The best way to find an agent who has experience in the particular area you are looking for, is by referral from friends and professionals you work with.  If you don’t have access to referrals, then do a little research online.  Remember real estate is very local, you will want an agent who knows the neighborhood but also one that you’re comfortable with and trust. This is especially true for sellers as well.  Once you have selected an agent, share your list of features with him/her and ask to see homes that match your “must haves.”  Be honest with your realtor especially about price – if you overstate what you wish to spend, you will see houses that exceed your planned expenditure and be disappointed with the homes in your targeted price range.
Make sure to look at a variety of houses and give your favorites a second look before making an offer.  Also, be open to your realtor’s suggestions.  A good realtor will be able to understand what you are looking for, after a just few showings. Stay focused and don’t be afraid to act if you find a house that has what you want, even if it’s the first house you see. Although the average buyer, nationally, will look at approximately 10 homes, our North Fork market has fewer choices, so look carefully, evaluate your options with your agent, and if this is the one, then go for it!
Beninati Associates is always here to help you.  We have over twenty years of experience on the North Fork.  We would be delighted to share that experience with you and help you find what you want.  It’s an opportune time to invest in real estate – and the right time of the year to get a good value on a home or land on which to build.  Call us at 631 765 5333, email me at, or visit us at our office at the corner of Main Road and Hortons Lane in Southold.  We’re always happy to see you!

Sunday, January 13, 2019


Home mortgage rates fell to “their lowest level in eight months, offering a potential boost to the housing market, reported the Wall Street Journal,* earlier this week.  The decline in rates boosted mortgage applications  23.5%, reported CNBC, on Wednesday, January 9, 2019.
            The significant increase in home mortgage applications, suggests a demand that had been stifled by the rate increases toward the end of 2018 and the prediction of more increases in 2019. Mortgage applications fell 10% at the end of December.  It seems as if both the stock market and the housing market has been spooked by the Fed.
            If you are in the market to buy, this is a window of opportunity – take it!  There are good values here on the North Fork, and the housing market offers much more stability than the stock market nowadays. You can be in your new home before spring and enjoy your investment instead of worrying about it.
            If you are thinking about selling in the near future, this is also a window of opportunity – call us!  We’ll help you evaluate the equity in your home with an up-to-date comparative market analysis – your home versus other properties around you – and a detailed marketing plan to get you going.  We’ll also help you get your home ready for a speedy launch.
            Benjamin Franklin wisely advised us, “TIME IS MONEY.”  Don’t procrastinate if you truly wish to buy or sell a property on the North Fork this year – call me at 631 235 8980 or Lee at 631 766 60666. Let’s get together and make it happen for you!    
Sources: Falling Mortgage Rates Buoy Housing Market, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL, pages A1-A2, January 8, 2019.

Sunday, January 6, 2019


Happy New Year! 2019 is here! It’s that time of year when we all make new year’s resolutions.  Whether it’s something simple like cleaning out your closet or a longer term goal, like putting your home on the market or buying a summer home on the North Fork, we all need to find a way to get things rolling. Sometimes it’s a push from the outside – your loved-ones urging you to stop smoking.  And sometimes it’s a push from the inside – that awareness that you have to get your finances in order and sell or invest in real estate. Here are some ideas on how to end procrastination, get things done and feel better about yourself!
               Do the hard stuff first.  If you’ve been putting off a task and doing lots of other things instead, do the difficult task first. There’s nothing worse than a task looming over your head that gives you a feeling of dread.  By tackling it head on, you move forward on the project and cut out the anxiety around it. 
               Cut a large project into smaller segments and create realistic daily goals. If it’s a larger task that may take days or weeks (like a big basement clean-out, painting  or decluttering your home), set smaller daily goals to keep yourself on track. For instance, choose one section to clean or declutter, every day, perhaps, even if it’s only for 15-minute.  As you start making progress you will spend more time doing what you dreaded and finish sooner.  The project will be done and you will feel good about accomplishing the task and yourself.  This is also a good way to start an exercise routine.  Just pick a type of exercise you like (or simply walk briskly around your house) and do it for just 10 minutes every day.  I read somewhere, “you can do almost anything for 10 minutes!”   After a few days, you’ll find yourself enjoying the activity and extending the time to 20 or 30 minutes!
               Make yourself accountable to someone.  Tell another person about your project or goal.  It’s one of the best ways to overcome procrastination—but choose carefully. You want to confide in someone who is vested in your success.
               Avoid temptations that take you off task.  Activities like social media or binge-watching on Netflix or Amazon,  may interfere with getting your goals accomplished.  Delay  those activities until you’ve completed your daily tasks and then relax and reward yourself.
               If one of your New Year’s resolutions is to buy or sell a home this year, start the process now.  The stock market volatility may make real estate a wise choice right now. Get your sprucing up done and put your house on the market before all the procrastinators!  Or if your planning on buying, come out and start looking – you’ll be in way before Memorial Day and have the whole summer to enjoy.  Call us – we’ll help you get going!  Together, we will put in place a plan of action.  We’ll help you prioritize the tasks that need to be done, and even help you get things done.  You’ve got a partner in us!  Call us at 631 765 5333; or email:, or brave the cold and come by our office (corner of Main Road and Horton’s Lane in Southold.  We’ll have hot tea or coffee together and get the ball rolling!