2009 Dec 15th

Possible Good News for Hoboken Home Buyers and Sellers

Buyers Rebates May Become Legal in NJ

As reported by the New Jersey Association of Realtors:  At yesterday’s Senate Commerce Committee meeting, lawmakers approved bill A-373/S-139 sponsored by Assemblyman Patrick Diegnan (D-18) and Senator Nicholas Scutari (D-22).  The bill permits rebates to be provided to consumers in real estate transactions.  Only brokers could offer rebates to those buying property, not individual real estate licensees.   Rebates would have to be in the form of a credit or check and must be documented in a contract at the beginning of a brokerage relationship in a written or electronic form or in a buyer agency agreement.  The legislation pertains only to purchases of residential property.  The  bill will need to be considered by the full Senate before it reaches Governor Corzine for his approval.

Why is this important?  Our entire current commission structure is limited by the law that prohibits buyers from getting rebates.  There are real estate agencies   like Condo Domain , for example, operating in many other cities, who structure their commission relationship very differently.  They work as true “buyer’s agents” and are paid a flat fee rather than a percentage of the sales price.  The buyer’s agent never also represents the seller.    At this particular agency, there are two models to choose from – the full service option where you start your search on their website (which includes for sale by owners, etc.), their agent takes you out to see properties and handles everything up to the closing.  You would get a 20% refund of the buy side commission.  Or you could choose the “do it yourself” option where you would not have an agent to take you to see properties – you do that at open houses – but they work with you from offer to closing and you get back all but $5,500 of the buy side commission.  Wouldn’t that shake things up in the Hoboken real estate market!

Take a look at this video to see what I mean:
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Interestingly, I was approached to be an agent for this company in the Hoboken market.  The current state of the law in NJ, however, made it impossible.  Perhaps things are changing?

Posted by Lori Turoff | Currently Comments Off on Possible Good News for Hoboken Home Buyers and Sellers

2008 Jun 17th

4 Big Problems Sellers Must Face When Selling a Hoboken Condo

1. You Have Only 3 MinutesFlowers are a Focal Point

Let’s say you list your Hoboken condo for sale and, thanks to excellent marketing, have a showing appointment for a potential buyer to come to see it. You’ve got their attention and they are in the door. How long do you think the average buyer spends in each property? Five minutes? Maybe 10 to 15 if they really take their time? To think that you have 5 minutes to convince a buyer to buy your condo is generous. Most buyers walk in, take a quick look around and make a snap decision in the first 3 minutes whether or not they like the property enough to buy it. This decision is a gut reaction and can be very subjective. If they don’t immediately get a good feeling about your condo in the first few minutes, trust me, they are ready to move onto the next.

Your condo must make an outstanding impression in the buyer’s mind immediately. That means you need “wow factor“. Wow factor is what happens when someone opens your front door, steps inside and, literally, says “wow”. Selling real estate successfully is all about first impressions. There are many different ways to make “wow” happen depending on your particular property. An exceptional realtor should present your property in such a way that potential buyers walk in and can picture themselves living there. Unfortunately, many realtors have no clue how to do this and some sellers don’t use a realtor thinking they can do it better on their own. We’ve all seen photos on-line of condos for sale taken with the laundry piled on the closet floor and the toilet seat raised in the bathroom. Many people just don’t get what it takes to make a property shine. The most important steps include decluttering, depersonalizing, modernizing and creating an immediate focal point that draws the buyer’s attention to the defined attributes of your particular condo. Spending all day, almost every day seeing other condos that are for sale certainly gives you an edge in knowing what must be done.

When a buyer walks through your condo and has an internal dialogue that sounds like: “well, if we change the paint color and redo the floors, then put the couch over here to make this room flow better, we could eat over there, and maybe build a small closet against this wall” forget it, it’s over. When a buyer focuses on what is wrong with your condo instead of what is right you have lost the sale. The buyer must be so taken with everything right about the property and can picture living there so easily that they never even notice any potential flaws or drawbacks.

2. Your Taste Doesn’t Matter – Selling a Condo in Hoboken is a Numbers GameEveryone Likes Nice Linens

You might have spent years agonizing over every little detail in your home to get it just the way you like it. The problem is, nobody cares what you like. To sell your condo you need to consider what most condo buyers will like. Of course, you can’t get inside every buyer’s head but you can shoot for the most popular choices that are most likely to appeal to the greatest number of potential Hoboken condo buyers. For example, if you’re selling a 2 bedroom condo in Hoboken, remember that Hoboken is full of young couples with babies and they almost always want a washer/dryer in their home to wash the baby’s onesies. If you are selling a 1 bedroom condo in Hoboken, chances are high that your buyer is a young, single professional who commutes to work in the city. Most guys want a place to put a really big flat screen and most girls like a huge closet with adequate shoe and purse storage. Did you think about that when you set up your furniture or organized your closets for showings? Is the first-time Hoboken buyer going to walk in and immediately see the perfect wall opposite the couch for the plasma TV or “ooh and aah” over the little shoe storage boxes built into the closet? You may love the purple walls in the bedroom but do you think more buyers will prefer purple or cream? Even if you never needed or wanted these features what matters now is what your potential buyer likes and wants. The more potential buyers you can appeal to, the more likely one will take action and make an offer and the more offers you get, the more likely you are to sell.

3. There is Stiff Competition in the Hoboken Condo Market – Go See For Yourself

I'd Kill for this Hoboken GardenThe inventory of Hoboken condos for sale is on the rise. You are not the only game in town, no matter your location or price. Today’s condo buyers have choices. Let’s imagine that you own a condo in 100+ year old, 10 unit, walk-up building on Park or Willow or even Hudson. These long, narrow, two-to-a-floor condos are abundant in Hoboken. Does yours stand out from the others? Have you actually seen the others that are for sale? If not, why not? The potential buyer of your condo will probably see all of them before deciding on which to make an offer.

The same applies to newer construction units like MetroHomes or Fields construction buildings. These units are not inherently that different from one another. They tend to be located in similar areas like the northwest section of Hoboken. Your condo, at whatever price it is offered, must be one of the best available in that particular price range. Hoboken buyers are smart, sophisticated and willing to shop around. Your condo unit must be perceived by the buyers as the best deal in town. If it’s not, your condo is simply not going to sell in today’s market at the price you are asking.

4. Hoboken is a Buyers Market – If your Condo is Overpriced it Will Not Sell

This problem relates back to the other three. Sellers always have reasons why they can’t bother to paint or put possessions into storage or replace the bathroom vanity or redo the kitchen. Sometimes it is unrealistic for a seller take the time or make the effort or invest the funds to build a new closet or rearrange furniture or whatever may be needed. That’s fine. That’s a seller’s decision. There is, however, always an alternative to taking action. If your condo can’t show as the best on the block it had better be a bargain. If your condo does not call out to the average Hoboken condo buyer and make their heart beat faster as soon as they walk in the door it is unlikely to sell unless it is perceived as a great value compared to the other similar condos for sale that show beautifully. There are some buyers out there who would rather get a deal and do their own renovations than pay top dollar to buy a mint condo. Keep in mind, however, that most Hoboken condo buyers are young and busy with jobs and families. The majority of them don’t want to or don’t have time to deal with construction or renovations. Most Hoboken condo buyers want a condo in move-in condition.Beautiful Details Sell

How do you know what the sale price of your condo should be? Well, again, if you have a skilled realtor they can help you correctly reach that decision. Beware that many real estate agents out there today are not doing well in a slower market. These less successful agents will do absolutely anything to get a listing. If you tell them you would like to get $500,000 for what is really a $400,000 condo they will list your condo for $500,000 rather than offend you and possibly lose the listing. The problem is, your condo won’t sell if it is overpriced. That real estate agent isn’t too smart because they are going to have to spend time, money and effort to market your property to no avail. If it doesn’t sell, they don’t get paid and you are not happy with them since you likely will see it as their failure to do what you hired them to do – sell your condo. But then, if they were a good agent they would not have taken the listing at an inflated, unrealistic price. So tell your agent you want to go and look at the Hoboken condos for sale that are similar to yours at the price you would like to ask. If you were a buyer, and be objective now, would you choose your condo as the best condo for sale on the market right now? If not, you need to list your unit at a lower price.This Says

Sellers don’t like to hear that they are going to get less than they would like when they sell their condo. Many sellers price their condos based either on what they paid and how much they hope to make in profit or on what their neighbor got for his. Buyers don’t care what you paid. Buyers don’t care what your neighbor sold for last year or last week. Buyers only care about what is for sale right now and how your condo stacks up. Of course, some buyers may decide that no condo currently for sale in Hoboken is worth its asking price. That buyer, for whatever reason, has not made the necessary mental committment to part with his or her money at this point in time. That buyer is never going to buy your condo anyway. The buyer you need to attract and convince is the buyer that is serious about buying a condo in Hoboken now. The serious buyer has made the mental leap and will part with the cash but still wants value, and value is perceived as getting the best possible property for sale.

Remember the 4 classic steps in a making a sale: AIDA or Attention, Interest, Desire, Action. The proper marketing and advertising of your condo should get the buyers attention. When they walk in the door, the WOW factor is going the get their interest. A buyer who can picture himself living in the space has desire. When that buyer feels that your condo is priced right because it represents a good value compared to the alternative he or she will take action and make an offer. Its a formula that’s been around and proven for a long time. Now you know how to put it to your advantage to sell your condo in today’s Hoboken condo market.

Posted by Lori Turoff | Currently 3 Comments »

2008 Mar 17th

Hoboken Condo Buyers’ 7 Biggest Mistakes

1. Location Location Location

Location has been, and always will be, one of the most important factors in any real estate deal. From the time Hoboken was settled, the place to be was on the waterfront. That hasn’t changed. If you’re buying a condo in a marginal part of Hoboken, no matter how nice the particular unit, you’re still getting marginal property. In an uncertain economic environment, buying a Hoboken condo in the most desirable part of town, Hudson Street, Bloomfield Street, Garden Street, Hudson Tea or the Shipyard, is your best hedge against a potential downturn. So with all the inventory currently on the market why are you even considering Jackson or Harrison?
The Vanguard at The Shipyard Complex

2. A Few Thousand Dollars Over 30 Years is Not Worth Much

Buyers get all hung up over a few thousand dollars. They will be negotiating with a seller on a half-million dollar condo and walk away from the place of their dreams because they are a few thousand dollars apart. Even for $3,000, we’re talking about less than 1% of the purchase price. Moreover, when you add that $3,000 onto a 30 year mortgage and amortize it, the difference in the monthly payment is negligible.

3. Know What You Can Afford

Hoboken Mortgage Brokers
Many buyers start the house hunt without ever speaking with a financial advisor, bank or mortgage lender. They have no real idea of their budget, how much they will need to put down in cash, or how large a mortgage they can manage. They either look at condos that don’t meet their needs, not realizing that they could afford to spend more or they look at condos beyond their means and then are dissatisfied when they take a step down to those within their budget. Know your numbers before you start looking!

4. Be Committed

If you are really serious about buying a condo in Hoboken you need to do some homework. In addition to knowing your budget (#3), you should have a game plan and follow it. When you go looking at condos, bring a camera and a notebook. Take pictures and take notes. After a few dozen, they will all start to blur together in your head. Look in one area at a time. Start with the nicest part of town you can possibly afford (#1) and exhaust it before moving on to lesser areas. When you see a condo you like, go back to see it again during different times of day – in the morning to check out the light, during rush hour to assess traffic, after school to see where the kids hang out. Make a written list of your priorities and rank them. Compare your list with your spouse’s. Decide what’s negotiable and what’s not in advance. Don’t waste your time looking at units that don’t match your agreed-upon, prioritized needs. If you have a realtor who is taking you to see units that don’t have what you’ve made clear you want in a condo, find another realtor!

5. Beauty Isn’t Everything

Hoboken Condo Detail

As much as everyone wants a gorgeous condo, some units just don’t show well. You have to use a little imagination. You’re not buying the sellers’ furniture. Paint is cheap. I see buyers overlook great properties because they can’t visualize the potential. Often, the seller has failed to do the work needed to market his or her property. A unit that shows poorly may actually benefit a buyer. If the condo has been sitting on the market for a while, the seller may be getting desperate. He may be more willing to accept a low offer.

6. Beauty Isn’t Everything II

When you find a condo you like and are ready to make an offer, insist that the seller provide you with the financials for the condo association. So many buyers are fooled by the pretty appearance of a condo only to be surprised down the road when they learn the association is practically bankrupt and they are looking at a hefty increase in their maintenance. Not all Hoboken condo associations are well run or well funded. Many, especially in smaller buildings, have no reserve funds. So get the whole picture before you move forward.

7. Use a Hoboken Lawyer and Local Bank

Hoboken is a peculiar little city with it’s own way of doing things. Local real estate lawyers are familiar with the peculiarities of doing a real estate deal here. They also all know each other and have likely worked together before. Using your cousin from out of town is not going to save you anything in the long run. The same problem arises with large, national banks. They are used to lending according to certain standards and few Hoboken condo buildings meet those requirements. Yet the local lenders write mortgages for Hoboken condos all the time. Haven Savings or Hudson City Savings Bank are way less likely to have a problem with the condo questionnaire that shows that the building only has 3 units than a Citibank or Chase.

See also: Five Familiar Problems When Buying Hoboken Real Estate

Posted by Lori Turoff | Currently 7 Comments »

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