Pyramid Power in NYC

Rising from the construction ashes of Hell’s Kitchen is definitely a beauty to behold. There’s a tetrahedron rising over West 57th Street that’s about to change the NYC skyline and Manhattan real estate unlike any other straight box tower thrown up in the last few decades.

There is skyscraper construction and then there is true architectural groundbreaking beauty and the Durst Pyramid is clearly the latter.  The building at 625 West 57th Street is taking shape, turning into one of the city’s most unique architectural wonders since the Chrysler Building in 1928 or Frank Lloyd Wright’s masterpiece, The Guggenheim Museum in 1959.

West 57th PyramidThe project is the inaugural North American design of the Danish firm Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) for the Durst Organization.  The four plane triangular construction is meant to bring natural light deep into the structure and afford some 700 lucky owners the sunny, Hudson River views which set the standard for the NYC real estate market.  The luxury apartments will be set atop glass enclosed retail/commercial space all set to welcome tenants and owners early in 2016.

 Looking to buy/sell real estate in New York?

Lisa Fantino, Associate Broker

J.Philip Real Estate

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Spring into Tax Savings

Spring has sprung and so has tax grievance season in Westchester.  That’s when homeowners come out of the woodwork with dreams of reducing their property taxes.  While the filing deadline has passed for the villages, the deadline for the towns and most cities in Westchester is just a few short months away on June 16, 2015.

Westchester Tax Grievance

Yet, the landscape is different this year and commonplace reductions will not be as easily won as in past years.  The reason is that many municipalities undertook market re-assessment projects in recent years:  Mamaroneck in 2013; Scarsdale in 2014; and Ossining this year for the first time in 43 years.  The revaluations have resulted in a seismic shift with lower tax bills for some and shockingly higher assessments for others.  The reality is that other than the rare exception, your property’s assessed value is now closer to the realized market value if your town has just undergone the reassessment process.

The process is easy and costs minimal compared to the savings which are often realized.  To file at the local level costs nothing.  Tax grievance attorneys generally charge a contingency fee, meaning that you pay nothing if your taxes are not reduced.  The only initial expense is the appraisal which must be done, generally less than $600 depending on your location.

Many homeowners try to employ self-help in filing the grievance application, but it’s worth retaining an attorney from the start.  If your application is denied then the tax grievance attorney will file a court appeal on your behalf if he or she is already on board.

It is also important to keep in mind that most municipalities in Westchester base your taxes on the prior year’s assessment, so if your town’s grievance deadline is June 16th for the 2015 tax roll, any reduction will not be realized until your 2016 taxes.  Therefore, don’t delay because prospective savings are still a year away.

Your taxes will not increase simply because you file a grievance application and lower property taxes can be a great asset if trying to sell your house in Westchester or anywhere else in the New York market.

This is attorney advertising.  Please understand that the information contained within this site is provided for general information purposes only and is not intended as legal advice and it may not reflect the most current legal trends or developments.  Links from this site to third party sites should not be construed as endorsements of the linked entities.  Email to this firm or to Lisa Fantino will not establish an attorney-client relationship and you should consult an attorney for individual advice regarding your own situation.  Email messages containing time-sensitive or confidential information should not be sent.

Westchester Broker offers Top Tips for Selling in a down market

Yes, I’m an attorney but I am also a practicing broker so I know my local real estate market well.  We are in tough times, my friends, and many, many homes in Westchester are worth 30%, 40%, even 50% of what they were worth a short two years ago.  Pundits say we have hit bottom but I don’t see it.  Now, that does not mean you should give up the possibility of selling your home but you need to adjust to this tectonic shift because real estate is no longer terra firma.

Her are my Top Tips to Selling in a Buyer’s Market:

1.  Align with a great broker not necessarily someone who sent you a postcard or who has a big name behind them or who was your kid’s cubscout den mother.  Do your homework and make sure the broker knows the market and knows how to market – two different things but equally as important.

2.  Be realistic in your expectations.  A house is only worth what someone is willing to pay you for it and what a bank says it’s worth.  If you set your price too high it won’t work unless you catch the dream buyer in an all cash deal. Realistic pricing is the key to a successful sale. If you think your home is worth $2 million but a bank will only appraise it for $1.4 million, you will be sitting in your old home a long, long time.

3.  Staging is key.  A good broker may recommend a professional designer to “stage” your home and make it attractive to buyers.  An even better broker knows enough about home staging to make the suggestions herself.  Buyers want to see a clean home without bright colors on the walls.  This makes it difficult for you because you probably need to still live there while it’s on the market.  I get that but you need to get that no one wants to buy a mess or a headache!

4.  Your stuff is old and they want new.  Unless you’ve renovated a kitchen or bathroom in the last five years then they are old and buyers will generally walk away.  There is way too much “new” stuff on the market for them to undertake renovations in tough times.  They want turn-key solutions for an easy move.  I am not suggesting that you need to update your kitchen and bathrooms to make a sale but I am telling you that you will need to adjust your price accordingly.

5.  Photos sell homes or at least get traffic in the door.  A good broker will know her limitations when it comes to taking photos of

Graphic: Sujin Jettkasettakorn FreeDigitalPhotos.net

your house.  If she is a good photographer, she will take the best possible shots to highlight your home’s features and post them online.  If she is not that great with a camera, then a professional may be called in to take some killer shots.  Your online listing needs photos.  This is how buyers make their initial search for a property, online……so get with the program.

6.  Grieve those taxes.  Westchester County has extremely high property tax rates and many, many homes are over-assessed.  Don’t sit around waiting for a county-wide reassessment.  Do your homework and contact an attorney to see if you might be successful in a grievance procedure.  If there are two houses of equal square footage and same condition on the same street, one may pay lower taxes and the buyer will naturally be drawn to that property instead of yours.

7.  Timing is everything.  Serious buyers generally look for a new home between mid-February and late-September.  They would like to move in the spring and settle in before the kids go back to school and/or before the holidays arrive.  If your house has been on the market now for nearly seven months and you’ve lowered the price 2-3 times then you have exhausted your options.  Take it off the market and come back fresh in mid-February at a new price point when new buyers will see it as a fresh listing rather than a stale one that raises red flags.

Now go forth and sell but call me first!