Senate likely to extend homebuyers’ tax credit

Washington (CNN) — Senate leaders have reached a tentative deal to extend the first-time homebuyers’ tax credit that was originally passed earlier this year as part of the stimulus bill, Republican and Democratic sources More

Peak Rental Season 2009 Residential Market Report

vacancy580Peak Rental Season 2009 Residential Market Report
Credit to: Christopher Dente
Posted by Christopher Dente |    September 24, 2009
We are pleased to present our first Peak Rental Season 2009 Residential Market Report, a comprehensive analysis of the May–August
Manhattan rental market.

Peak Season Average Rents 2009/2008

Market-wide for Manhattan, the average 2009 peak season rental price for a studio was $1,763, representing a decrease of 11% from peak season 2008; a one bedroom, $2,425 representing a decrease of 8% from peak More

Debate on selling For Sale By Owner

These are popular reasons that critics encourage you not to sell FSBO:

1) You’ll likely save money – Critics: FSBO websites sometimes claim that you can pocket the entire real estate commission by selling your home yourself.

JOE D: Unfortunately, that’s usually not true. Real estate commissions are normally 5-6% of the sales price of a home. Of this, about half normally goes to the listing agent (who represents the seller and markets the property) and half to the selling or buyer’s agent (who shows the property to buyers and writes up offers). Even if you don’t pay a commission to the buyer’s agent, you shouldn’t count on pocketing all the savings. Buyers will expect a price discount if they’ve spared you the expense of paying for a buyer’s agent.

2) You’ll likely get better representation – Critics: Real estate agents often warn FSBO sellers that there are complex tax and legal issues involved in selling a home and that it’s best to let a professional handle it.

JOE D:  I would absolutely warn someone of this and for good reason.  Just hiring an attorney or CPA is not enough to sell your home; granted it is a very important part of the transaction, but there are several other parts to this process.

3) Selling FSBO gives you more options – Critics: Once you’ve signed a contract with a listing agent, your options become severely limited. It may be difficult for you to switch agents, or rent out your home, or take it off the market. If you find a buyer on your own, your listing agent will likely pocket the buyer’s agent’s commission.

JOE D: It depends on the agent you select and in all of my listing contracts we give the homeowner the ability to be released out of a listing contract for any reason with 30 days notice.  If you decide not to move – we will take the home of the market; if you sell it to a friend – we will not pocket the commission and will give you a chance to produce a list of possible buyer exclusions prior.  If you decide to go with another agent at any point, I have no problem letting you out of the contract if you are unhappy because we are that confident in our ability to do the proper job.

4) Signing a contract with a listing agent can be risky – Critics: You might find yourself locked into a contract for several months with a flaky or incompetent agent. Some agents may surprise you with transaction fees they charge on top of their commissions for handling your paperwork. Or you and your agent might have a misunderstanding about the amount of commission that’s due.

JOE D: You can be released out of a listing contract for any reason with 30 days notice.

5) Selling FSBO makes it easy for buyers to make offers without an agent – Critics: If you list your house, buyers usually need to go through licensed agents to make an offer.

JOE D: If you sell FSBO, buyers can contact you directly to make offers, and try to pocket the buyer’s agent’s commission themselves. Many buyers seek out FSBO homes for this reason and a FSBO will attract a ‘bargain hunter’ that will think you are in trouble or expect you to share the commission saved.

6) You’ll pay only for the services you want – Critics: Selling FSBO allows you focus your money on services that are tailored to your needs. In a slow market, offering a generous 3% commission to selling or buyers’ agents gives them a powerful incentive to show your property to their clients and bring offers. You might want to pay for professional photographs and a virtual tour so prospective buyers can view it online. If you expect to have a high tax liability, you may want to pay for an accountant or tax lawyer. If your house is dowdy, you may want to splurge on a professional stager or rent nice furniture. You can often get more bang for your buck by hiring different service providers à la carte.

JOE D: This arguement does not mention the expertise we  bring to the table as we are negotiating real estate contracts all day, every day. Yes, if someone just takes photos or stages the house, you can find someone else to do those tasks for cheaper, but you are not hiring a real estate professional for the photographs we take, but our successful marketing strategy and expertise of selling homes on a daily basis.

7) Listing agents sometimes sacrifice their clients’ best interests in favor of their own – Critics: Listing agents have an incentive to sell your home quickly, even if that means getting a lower price. Holding off a sale in order to get, say, an additional $10,000 will benefit the listing agent by as little as $125, since the commission must often be shared with the supervising broker. From the agent’s perspective, it’s better to push for a quick sale and close the deal. Ever notice that ads for $8 trinkets on eBay often have better photos and descriptions than ads for $800,000 homes on Realtor.com? Once a listing contract is signed, listing agents have little incentive to spend money on marketing. Again, getting $10,000 more for a house may only benefit the listing agent by about $125.

JOE D: This is a valid concern and you as the homeowner has the right to accept or reject any offer presented.  We have an interest to get you the most amount of money in the shortest amount of time. Ask your agent the reasons why you should take a lower offer if one is presented and you should expect a good reason.

Wall Street On Track To Award Record Pay

rebound580By AARON LUCCHETTI and STEPHEN GROCER

Major U.S. banks and securities firms are on pace to pay their employees about $140 billion this year — a record high that shows compensation is rebounding despite regulatory scrutiny of Wall Street’s pay culture.

Workers at 23 top investment banks, hedge funds, asset managers and stock and commodities exchanges can expect to earn even more than they did in 2007, according to an analysis of securities filings for the first half of 2009 and revenue estimates through year end by The Wall Street Journal. Total compensation and benefits at the publicly traded firms analyzed by the Journal are on track to increase 20% from last year.

These companies paid $130 billion in compensation and benefits in 2007, at the stock market’s peak. That fell to $117 billion last year.

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