Thursday, December 29, 2011

Digs Data; It Tells The Story

The future is unwritten in the words of Joe Strummer, but we'll know the results of December 2011 in just a few short days. Wow another year slips by; the emotional component of buying becomes much more relevant post 40 years old (insert smile face here).

I like this chart (courtesy of UrbanDigs), it paints a picture that is clear and easy to digest. It shows us at the precipice before the fall along with a relatively quick recovery. 2009 was the bottom and the top of a raucous real estate market, a recovery/stabilization that I did not trust until near the end of 2009. It was a slow steady slog until we hit June of 2009, then suddenly buyers collectively let out a deep breath and dove in! But the winners were the buyers with brass you know whats that pulled the trigger in January/February of 2009, those buys will throw off anybody's comp analysis. 

What I like about this chart is that it demonstrates relative strength and signs of a market stabilizing after being told we were at the brink of systemic collapse. This chart is downright pretty compared to similar charts for the majority of the United States. According to Case-Schiller we will continue to bounce along the bottom for the next 2-3 years, so with 4% interest rates, those looking to purchase a home with a long term view should be in pretty good shape. As discussed here and to death everywhere else there are multiple components to buying a home; two of the big ones are financial and emotional. Only you can know if they are in proper balance (and if you are not sure, get some professional advice).

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Pre-High Line Days Manhattan Around 1900

See the full story here: Creation of the High Line.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Happy, Healthy Holidays and a Happy New Year!

Well it has been a great year at The Burkhardt Group and I have to thank all of you! Over $20,000,000 dollars in closed deals. I thank all that have entrusted me with the task of helping them purchase their home, something I take very seriously. I am also going to be donating 1% of after tax dollars to a charity run by one of my wife's friends that helps those being exploited by human trafficking; Slavery No More. A great incentive for me to keep making money!

Peace and good tidings to all of you and your families for a joyous Holiday and a Happy New Year! And lets keep up the spirit of brotherhood and goodwill all year long!


Thursday, December 15, 2011

Do I Stay or Do I go?

Today I'll revisit this subject again, with a Clash lyric to set the tone. The subject is: "Are you better on your own or with us?" I'm usually more judicial and would answer this "with your own broker" but today I want to focus on my services and what we offer. Yesterday while discussing an offer with a client, I pointed out that the owner was selling FSBO with the help of a hybrid real estate agency. I brought up the possibility that he (my client) may be better off pursuing this on his own because without a broker, the owner might be willing to negotiate a better price. My client stopped me cold, saying, "We want to continue with you, you're our broker." Even this couple, who are overly qualified to negotiate on their own behalf (Yale/Harvard degrees between them) appreciate having their own representation, someone they can bounce ideas off of and represent their offer.

But I want to focus on what is financially more astute. I know 100% you are better off with my services when the seller has his own broker, both financially and strategically. But with a FSBO, (which is rare to deal with anyway) I have to watch carefully to make sure my client is getting the best possible representation from me. The problem is still the unknown, of course. If you ask the seller point-blank they will tell you you're better off unrepresented. But I don't necessarily think so.

At the end of the day, the seller wants to make a deal and 2.5-3% is not going to come between a seller and a closed deal. The unrepresented seller has a few things going against him in NYC. First and foremost, the majority of buyers have their own representation.The pool of direct buyers vs. represented buyers is slim to none. Secondly, I really believe that working in conjunction with a broker you can negotiate a better (lower) deal than on your own interacting directly with the seller. I know I help my clients stay on track and draw a line in the sand when necessary. Most of all, I am NEVER afraid to lose a deal. I know my buyers are loyal and if one deal doesn't work out there will be another down the road.

What is the magic bullet that assures you will have an advantage working with me? The commission rebate. After all is said and done, you take 1.5-2% off your best offer. This is a known quantity that you will receive at the closing. According to a 2006 IRS ruling, real estate commission rebates are an adjustment to price; no tax due or filings required. Also the US Department of Justice champions commission rebates as a great benefit to consumers, adding value to their real estate purchase.

Monday, December 12, 2011

End of the Year Wrap up

Regardless of the macro economic turmoil in the world, including our own difficulties here, segments of the NYC real estate market continue to be strong. There also seems to be an appetite for new construction. I have participated in deals at 148 E. 24th street, 37 Bridge Street (DUMBO) and both buildings have sold very well and without offering any concessions; in fact they both saw price increases along the way. (Also take a look at 130 West 12th Street, $2000+ a square foot and most are spoken for!) Both buildings, by the way, offered early buyers some very good deals. I have also seen relative strength in 2-3 bedrooms in most prime downtown neighborhoods, especially Tribeca and the Village. Many of my buyers in areas like Midtown (east & west), Gramercy and Murray Hill are telling me there are very few quality apartments available. Many of them were hoping for a nice pop of new listings after labor day and it never happened.

This has been a particularly strong December for me with two signed contracts and 3 accepted offers currently winding through the due diligence process.

Although the inventory is very thin, good deals remain for those looking on the edges of established neighborhoods and especially regarding apartments that need updating.

What's driving NYC real estate? There is no doubt that many of my clients are thrilled by the seriously low interest rates available. Next I would say the stubbornly high rents. Paying $80,000 to $120,000 dollars a year in rent gets tiring after a while. But most importantly (or at least a large part of the equation) is that people want to own their home. They want a space that they can mark as their own, they want the quality experience that can come with buying and not having to move out it in a year or two. And unless you are very actively managing your money, they like the idea of parking a part of their savings in NYC real estate rather than trying to invest the difference between owning and renting into an instrument that will dollar for dollar perform better than their apartment.  In my own very un-scientific study of people who own versus rent; owners seem to be better off in the long term. This assumes you did not buy at the upper reaches of a bubble and plan on holding your home for at least 7 to 10 years. Now all you buy/rent quants, please don't attack me!

Of course buying is not always better and I would not recommend stretching yourself just for the sake of owning your home. Make sure you can comfortably afford ALL the monthly payments and you have at least a 6 month personal reserve fund in the bank. But all things being more or less equal, I would rather be paying off my loan than mailing out rent checks.

Peace and Joy to all this Holiday Season (and all of the years to come!)

P.S. The early 2009 sales are still holding up as the bottom for most NYC real estate as we go into 2012.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Best Site to Search for Cheapest Airfare

A reporter from the New York Times was asking me some questions about my business model, some how we wound up talking about travel. I told her I was having some problems finding a reasonably priced ticket for a trip we were planning. She suggested I try ita Software's site. It looks like some sort of corporate page ( it sort of is), but you can click on "Search airfares" to begin looking for the cheapest available flights.

ITA Software actually designs the software that other travel sites use like, though unlike Kayak you cannot purchase your ticket via their website. The feature I like the most is the calender view, it will give you all the cheapest flights for any set period of time up to a month out from your start date. This is a great feature if you have some flexibility in your travel plans.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Friday, December 2, 2011

To Serve and Protect

My main concern is making sure my clients are happy with the service we provide. Seriously, nothing is more important to me. What I love most about my business model is the way it lets me interact with my clients; we are partners with a mutual goal and shared rewards.

I just want to thank everyone who has put their trust in me and given me the opportunity to help them purchase a home.

Over $18,771,000 dollars in transactions 2011.

Happy Holidays!