Home sales are below last year’s levels, home values are appreciating at a slower pace, and there are reports showing purchasing demand softening. This has some thinking we may be entering a buyers’ market after sellers have had the upper hand for the past several years. Is this really happening?

The market has definitely softened. However, according to two chief economists in the industry, we are a long way from a market that totally favors the purchaser:

Dr. Svenja Gudell, Zillow Chief Economist:
“These seller challenges don’t indicate we’re suddenly in a buyers’ market – we don’t expect market conditions to shift decidedly in favor of buyers until 2020 or later. But buyers certainly are starting to balk at the rapid rise in prices and home values are starting to grow at a less frenetic pace.”

Danielle Hale, Chief Economist of realtor.com:
“The signs are pointing to a market that’s shifting toward buyers. But, in most places, we’re still a long way from a full reversal.”

In addition, Pulsenomics Inc. recently surveyed over one hundred economists, real estate experts, and investment & market strategists and asked this question:

“When do you expect U.S. housing market conditions to shift decidedly in favor of homebuyers?”

Only 5% said the market has already shifted. Here are the rest of the survey results:

Are We About to Enter a Buyers’ Market? | Keeping Current Matters

Bottom Line
The market is beginning to normalize but that doesn’t mean we will quickly shift to a market favoring the buyer. We believe Ivy Zelman, author of the well-respected ‘Z’ Report, best explained the current confusion:

“With the rate of home price appreciation starting to decelerate alongside the uptick in inventory…we expect significant debate about whether this is a bullish or bearish sign.

In our view, the short-term narrative will probably be confusing, but more sustainable growth and affordability will likely be the end result.”

As our current market has become more favorable for buyers, they most often want to know if we think the market will continue to soften. Of course no one has a crystal ball but if you are a provider of accurate data as it pertains to their specific situation, you as their agent and advocate become a real asset in their search and home purchase. On the other side of the equation, if you have the opportunity to represent a seller, pricing properly and talking your customer off the ledge is of utmost importance.

The most important thing you can do for a buyer or a seller at this time is remove yourself from the equation and determine what is best for them. Consider things like timeline and length of ownership as well other things like interest rate sensitivity for buyers. For sellers, analyze their true motivation. In 2009, I talked many prospective sellers out of selling their homes. I even appeared on the Today Show reminding everyone that the loss of equity on paper was not long term and unless they had to sell for financial, relocation or other personal reasons, it was best to just strap in and hold on. Many of those sellers chose to sell. Others are still happily living in those homes and I remain their go to expert for advice on housing.

In conclusion, a shifting market is NOT a time to be a transactional agent. Building solid, meaningful and trusting relationships with your customers and advocating for them based on their needs will win you more business and a much more favorable reputation.

by Doug Heddings

Death of the Brokerage

Adapted from E.B. Solomont
The role of the traditional brokerage is actually going to go away entirely,” he said. “The role of the brokerage in the future is to supercharge the business of these incredibly large and complex [teams].”

Compass, founded by Robert Reffkin and Ori Allon, has created a single platform with tools for agents to share listings, create show sheets, analyze comps and manage deal flow.

But the firm has a leg up because it’s building the infrastructure of a tech-focused firm from scratch — rather than wedging upgrades into an existing infrastructure. And its deep-pocketed investors have given it the equivalent of a blank check.

On the data and tech fronts, traditional firms are playing catch-up with mixed results. And it’s coming at a steep cost at a time when profits from residential sales are waning.

“Now the game is, ‘Does your business produce enough cash flow to invest in what you need?’” said Real Trends’ Murray. “A normal person would say, ‘No.’ The key is, how much tech do you really need?”

Nobody knows for sure, but traditional firms aren’t taking chances. Instead, they’re spending tens — and hundreds — of millions of dollars on tech.
Last year, Keller Williams created a $1 billion tech fund, and it recently introduced a voice assistant called Kelle, which follows commands like “Kelle, call my buyer.”

Realogy spends $200 million a year on tech, according to CEO Ryan Schneider, who has outlined an ambitious path to develop new products.

According to Elliman Chairman Howard Lorber, brokerages that don’t invest in tech are toast.

“Do I lose sleep that I’ll be put out of business by a real estate tech company? No, I don’t,” Lorber said. “Technology is a tool, and if you’re a real estate company not investing in both the agent and technology, you probably won’t make it.”
Elliman is, however, being more strategic about its tech expenditures: Last fall, it scrapped its in-house listing system and struck a deal with StreetEasy to build it a custom system. And it’s getting ready to launch an “app store” this spring where agents can customize a dashboard of apps from roughly 20 vendors like Compit, BoardPackager and Edge.

“Technology is expensive,” Lorber said, noting that some competitors are trying to excel in both tech and real estate. “I don’t know how realistic that is to make it work, or how you can even be that competitive on both of those areas at the same time.”

Dozens of real estate-focused tech startups are banking on Lorber’s theory that traditional firms are going to outsource their tech upgrades and pay handsomely to do so.

For example, the venture-backed startup Perchwell — which gives agents a single platform for managing listings, compiling research and collaborating with clients — has picked off major clients from rival RealPlus, including Sotheby’s, Stribling and CORE.

Brooklyn-based VirtualAPT — whose clients include agents at Elliman and Stribling — has a proprietary robot that does 360-degree digital property tours.

If You Filed For A Tax Extention, Time's Running Out

For tax payer’s who filed for a tax extension, the deadline for filing is fast approaching.  No need to panic though, here’s what to do.

Monday, Oct. 16, is the deadline this year to hand your tax forms over to the IRS.  Visit us today at 1104 Sutter Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11208, send us an email or call us at +1 347 663 1163 to make an appointment.

After we review and prepare your documents, we can have your tax return filed in minutes via the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) electronic filing (e-File) system.  The IRS recommends that taxpayers file their tax return electronically. The IRS says that e-File is “a faster and safer way of filing your taxes.” Of the 145.3 million returns received by the IRS so far this year, approximately 87.5% were filed electronically.

If you are expecting a tax refund, we can also arrange to have that refund sent to you via direct deposit. With direct deposit, the IRS can deposit your tax refund directly into as many as three accounts.

If, on the other hand, you expect to owe, don’t let that deter you from filing on time: You should file a timely return even if you can’t pay your tax bill.  Penalties apply for both failure to file a return and failure to pay your tax which means that you can reduce your penalty burden by filing on time even if you can’t pay.

Some taxpayers have even more time to file. Members of the military serving in a combat zone typically have until 180 days after they leave the combat zone to file their return and pay any taxes due. And this year, taxpayers who filed an extension who live in or are affected by a federally declared disaster area may be allowed more time to file: that includes taxpayers in parts of Michigan and West Virginia as well as those affected by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria.

If you’re not in the service and have not been affected by the events listed above, and If you can’t pay what you owe by October 16, we can contact the IRS and negotiate a payment plan for you.  Stop in or give us a call today.


Think Your Landlord Is Mean? Be Thankful He isn't Jared Kushner

Garnished wages, legal harassment, misleading accusations – these are just some of the ways Jared Kushner would make your life difficult.

Kushner Companies, the family business of Jared Kushner, Donald Trump’s son-in-law and chief advisor, has real estate worth in the hundreds of millions of dollars.  This is common knowledge.  What might be less known is that in addition to multi-million dollar properties in Manhattan and Brooklyn, since 2011, subsidiaries of Kushner Companies, bought 20,000 low-income housing apartments in 34 complexes in Maryland, Ohio and New Jersey.

And, apparently, these tenants know quite well how Kushner looks out for the least fortunate among us.  An investigation for The New York Times Magazine and ProPublica, reveals that Kushner’s real estate company aggressively sues tenants for the smallest infractions despite ignoring maintenance needs, and pursues judgments even when the tenant seems to have been in the right.

One of the company’s beliefs appears to be that “one way to make sure that tenants are paying their rent and to keep them from breaking leases early … is to instill a sense of fear about violating a lease,” says the Times reporter.

Kushner’s harsh treatment of tenants appears to align with his father-in-law, and president, Donald Trump’s way of doing business.  Last month, Mr. Trump was asked what aspects of his previous life were at odds with his role as president. “Well in business, you don’t necessarily need heart,” he said. “In fact, in business you’re actually better off without it.”

Contact us today, so we can help you find a landlord that treats tenants with the respect and fairness they deserve.

Trump's Budget Targets Tax Preparers

In his 2018 budget, President Donald Trump has decided to keep an Obama era proposal to authorize the IRS to regulate all paid tax return preparers.

“Incompetent and dishonest tax return preparers increase collection costs, reduce revenues, disadvantage taxpayers by potentially subjecting them to penalties and interest as a result of incorrect returns, and undermine confidence in the tax system,” the budget states.  It’s been estimated that the proposal will increase revenue by $259 million in the years 2018–2027.

The American Institute of Certified Public Accountant (AICPA) has been a supporter of the goals of enhancing compliance and elevating ethical conduct. “Ensuring that tax preparers are competent and ethical is critical to maintaining taxpayer confidence in our tax system,” they said, as reported in the Journal of Accountancy.

“For these reasons, the AICPA believes that a focused and targeted approach to the regulation of tax return preparers, with congressional oversight, will help to promote good tax administration and protect the interests of the American taxpayer; and looks forward to working with policymakers as this proposal develops,” they concluded.

At Waterman Realty and Tax Pro, our goal is to make sure your returns are fully compliant and where possible, maximize your refund.  We do this by maintaining the highest possible professional standards.  Why settle for anything less?  Contact us today.

After a Two-Year Freeze, NYC Renters to Face Increases

We knew it was going to happen, and the Rent Guidelines Board made it official earlier this week, when the board’s 7-2 vote allowed rent increases for up to 1.25 percent for one-year leases, and 2 percent for two-year leases.

The vote Tuesday night at Baruch College in Manhattan confirmed the board’s intentions, despite the vocal opposition from tenant activists. in contrast to previous years, Mayor Bill de Blasio, who is running for re-election and has made affordable housing a central issue, had remained quiet on the matter.

The new increases are on the low end of what the board could have decided.  As reported by the NYTimes, “in a preliminary vote in April, the board endorsed, by a 5-to-4 margin, a 1 to 3 percent increase on one-year leases and a 2 to 4 percent increase on two-year leases, well short of what the landlords’ biggest lobby group had been seeking.  The group, the Rent Stabilization Association, had proposed a 4 percent increase on one-year leases and a 6 percent increase for two-year leases, citing steadily increasing taxes and property maintenance costs.”

Rent regulated apartments are in buildings that were built before 1974 with six or more units, and also constructed or renovated since then with special tax benefits.  Although over one-million of them are scattered throughout New York City, it takes an informed agent with good relationships to help prospective tenants nab one.  If you’re looking for a rent regulated apartment, the agents at Waterman Realty and Tax Pro can help.  Contact us today.

You Probably Won't Recognize Fulton Street in Five Years

The owner of Cherry’s Unisex Salon, in Bedford Stuyvesant, is a 45 year-old Jamaican immigrant that has owned the shop for 27 years.  The NY Times recently ran a profile on the salon, it’s owner, and the neighborhood.

Bed Stuy is changing.  The “do or die” reputation of the past has been replaced by a bustling neighborhood with residents of more mixed races than in the past.  With the neighborhood changing so rapidly, and as its owner approaches 50, for one reason or another, it’s unlikely that Cherry’s will be there in five years.  Aside from the gentrification and age of the store’s owner, the piece also points out the saturation of the hair salons and barbershops in the neighborhood.

“On Fulton, in addition to Claire’s Beauty Salon, there’s Ria’s Beauty Salon, Judy’s Supreme Beauty Hair Salon, Michelle’s Hair Salon, Cisse African Hair Braiding, Aminata African Hair Braiding, Sogho Express African Hair Braiding, Prokhane African Hair Braiding, Mande Professional African Hair Braiding Center, Mbadinga’s #1 Unisex Salon & African Hair Braiding, Aphrika Hair Unisex Salon, Sharon’s Unisex Salon, Dynasty’s Unisex Salon, Beyond Beauty Unisex Salon, Ladoux Hair Braiding & Unisex Beauty Salon, Naher Beauty Art & Salon, Lola’s Hair, My Tresses Hair & Extensions, P.J.’s Hair Perfection, Platinum Image, The Beauty Boutique, Brooklyn Beauty Mix and Seymonnia’s Inc. Mbadinga’s V.I.P. Unisex Salon & African Hair Braiding just opened. Classic Barber & Beauty Salon is coming soon. A half-dozen more shops are open just yards away from Fulton.”

It’s likely that the newer patrons of Fulton St. will need other stores, shops and services to cater to a more diversified set of needs.  If you’re looking for a commercial or mixed-use property in Bed Stuy or anywhere else in Brooklyn, Waterman Realty and Tax Pro can help.  Contact us today.

For Rat Infested Parts of NYC, Help Is On The Way

New York City Mayor, Bill de Blasio, announced a $32 million plan to reduce the rat population by 70 percent in the city’s three most infested neighborhoods by the end of 2018… maybe.

The plan involves covering dirt floors at scores of public housing buildings and deploying 336 new rat-proof garbage bins that compact trash using solar power and cost $7,000 a piece.  The solar powered bins look more like mail boxes than traditional trash bins, though the city says they’ve contributed to a 90 percent reduction in rats in places where they’ve been “fully deployed.” The city already has 1,100 such bins around the city.

In addition to the pricey bins, the plan calls for a new process to kill rats in their burrows using dry ice.  In one Chinatown park, packing burrows with dry ice resulted in the deaths of 1,200 rats — suffocated by the release of carbon dioxide — and a reduction of rat burrows from 60 to two, officials said.

Over the upcoming months, the plan will be rolled out in three rodent hot spots across the city.  Residents of the Grand Concourse neighborhood in the Bronx; the East Village, Lower East Side, and Chinatown in Manhattan; and Brooklyn’s Bushwick and Bed-Stuy neighborhoods will be the first to notice the change.  The new plan also calls for the City Council to pass legislation requiring medium and large buildings in the targeted areas to put out their trash for pickup early in the morning, ridding sidewalks of the overnight trash mounds that attract vermin.

New Yorkers, reported more than 17,200 rat sightings to 311 system last year, up from 12,600 in 2014.  More than 10,000 complaints have come in so far this year.  Tired of avoiding the rats living around your way?  Give us a call today.

Forget Harlem - SoHa Anyone?

New York City real estate companies’ attempts to rename a Harlem neighborhood “SoHa” have enraged long-time residents of the historically black enclave, who say the move erases the community’s rich cultural history.

The neighborhood served as home and inspiration to generations of leading African Americans, including activists W.E.B. Du Bois and Malcolm X, who dubbed it “Seventh Heaven.” Artists such as poet Langston Hughes and singers Harry Belafonte and Ella Fitzgerald also lived there.

New York City is filled with neighborhood names altered by real estate professionals and developers to create cachet, some of which have stuck more than others. There’s SoHo (for south of Houston Street), Nolita (north of Little Italy), Tribeca (triangle below Canal) and Dumbo (down under the Manhattan Bridge overpass), just to name a few.

The “SoHa” name, echoing the high-priced, largely white Manhattan neighborhood of SoHo in lower Manhattan, began appearing in real estate listings for apartments located just north of Central Park, between 110th Street and 125th Street.  Realtor Keller Williams boasted a “SoHa Team” of agents on its website.  After neighborhood outrage, Keller Williams told The Wall Street Journal it had decided to change the team name out of respect and passion for the area’s people, history and culture. It is now listed on its website as “Central Harlem.

Harlem’s U.S. Congressman Adriano Espaillat vowed to introduce a House resolution to protect Harlem from being renamed.  Espaillat said the congressional resolution he plans to introduce “supports imposing limitations on the ability to change the name of a neighborhood based on economic gain.”

Whether you’re looking for a place south of Harlem, north of Flatbush, west of Hollis or east of the Van Cortlandt, Waterman Realty and Tax Pro is here to help.  Contact us today.