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Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Today's tip for home buyers: blink

headroomI've been reading Malcom GladwelI's book "Blink; The Power of Thinking without Thinking" recently. In it, he talks about "The theory of thin slices: how a little bit of knowledge goes a long way". It's what you and I might also call intuition although Mr. Gladwell does not like that word, feeling it describes a less rational, emotional reaction. He prefers to say that the book is about rapid cognition, blink a very fast thinking process in which we "thin slice" sensory input and rapidly reach a conclusion. Thin slices of observed knowledge, gained in the blink of an eye, can reveal the truth about people and situations, which can be every bit as accurate as the most studied analysis. That Blink moment describes well the decision point in buying a home, where some people decide to spend millions of dollars, after stepping inside for just a few moments and examining an apartment in less time than they might spend having lunch.

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Friday, May 18, 2007

Can developers weather downturns in New York City and the global real estate economy?

At the '2007 Wharton Economic Summit', real estate professionals discussed strategies to weather the downturns, and how they view the global market landscape, of which New York City is an integral part. I'm pleased to tap the intellectual capital of the Wharton School of Business for my readers by presenting this article from knowledge@wharton. 050207_ss_summit.gif
The Real Estate Industry, though Volatile, Offers Riches to Those Who Know Where to Look

globalWhile many Americans are worried that real estate prices have flattened and may even turn downward, some of the country's top commercial developers say there always is opportunity for those who manage their projects efficiently in a global market, focus on areas with growing demand and have the staying power to wait out the downturns.

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Thursday, May 17, 2007

Buying in a new development: the closing costs

101 Warren St., TribecabuyingHow much more will it cost to buy into a new development? Is it worth the difference? Both are questions that will vary depending on the project and buyers. Developers pass along what would traditionally be a seller's closing costs, over to the buyer's side of the deal. In the strictest sense, condos are either new product, or resale. However, there is a middle ground that's emerged of recently developed properties, which may be the best option out there for those wanting many of the creature comforts of new construction, but want value, immediate delivery, and a more traditional re-sale transaction, with lower closing costs. The re-sellers may have a little more margin to work with too, as their cost basis may be a couple of years older, and there has been some room for appreciation. Each case is a little different. Helping buyers find them, and representing the owners of these units for sale or lease, is a niche that I like working in.

Readers have asked for more specifics on closing costs as cited in my recent post Buying in a new development: risk and reward. The story was about how the lag time to a project's delivery, combined with a fluctuating interest rate environment and higher closing costs, create some new risks which might not be quite so obvious to many. Here is a follow up that may help you to evaluate like a broker would, differences in closing costs when purchasing a condominium as a resale, or directly from a sponsor in a new development. I've created a hypothetical scenario for a couple evaluating the purchase of two highly comparable properties. One is being purchased directly from the sponsor at a new development, while the other is from an owner as a re-sale. I've prepared a sheet of typical real property closing costs that you can download here (pdf 324 kb) and save, so that you'll be able to model your own comparisons too.

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Tuesday, May 15, 2007

You get paid all that money for just 60 Minutes of work?

60_minutes.jpgid_tech.gifI wish that I could take credit for the above headline, but it was from a commenter on the CBS News Web site about a fluff piece for Redfin, the Seattle based, limited services "broker" on 60 Minutes titled "High-tech Real Estate Moves In". It comments on a part of the story where Lesley Stahl interviews Kelly Engel, a former full service agent now working for Redfin, who thought that she had no right earning her salary, "I had done quite a few deals where I spent maybe five hours total working on the deal. I never saw the house. My client found it online and, you know, I would make $12,000 for four hours of work. And I thought this cannot keep going on like this. I felt like I was going to get caught!"; well this slacker agent has certainly found the right company to work for. Would you want someone representing your interests who feels guilty about collecting her own salary? Might she feel you were making too much profit selling your home too, because you've owned for just a few years? This kind of quick deal scenario is truly the exception. The Redfin pitch is full of self serving misrepresentations about easy money.

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