Category Archive: Buying

The Major Unknowns in the NYC Real Estate Market During COVID-19

Team Leader. Russ Putterman, video chatted with Noah Rosenblatt of Urban Digs at the end of March to discuss the state of the NYC marketplace as well as the unknowns through the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Urban Digs is a real estate service provider that helps brokers to find comps, past sales and recent market analytics in NYC neighborhoods. We’ve compiled some of the findings from this discussion that are important to know as we face the current stay-at-home order in NYC. 

What is currently happening with the market and is anyone buying?

  • Prior to the current situation, NYC seemed to be on trend to come out of a buyer’s market – This is certainly not what was expected for the spring market. As it relates to the Manhattan real estate market, there is a lot less activity happening right now. The extent of activity includes digital activities such as signing online listing agreements, holding virtual open houses and video conferencing with clients but albeit, much slower. There are certainly people that are very serious in selling and buying for various reasons and those are the connections who are primarily engaged with this slow market at the moment. 

Is there a noticable dislocation?

  • We have many deals going into contract that were already in negotiation before it got to this level. Just like any market there is supply and demand – depending on location, there will be people willing to continue with transactions – especially when there is a big buyer’s market going on. 

What should buyers and sellers expect over the next couple of months?

  • We will likely see more people pause on moving if it is not essential. For buyers who have immediate interest, we recommend taking a look in a couple of weeks as we continue to digest the constantly shifting updates throughout the nation. Assuming things settle out over time, we will have inventory to look at then and there will be more liquidity in the market. 

How is the Focus Team running in a paused environment?

  • Our team is in constant communication and continuously does team activities through video chat. No matter the market factors, it’s still important to set goals and block time throughout the day to organize priorities. We are being very mindful about the transactions that are coming in during this time and planning remote closings and calls with our clients. 


To view the full podcast with additional market trends, click here. Our team is available to answer any questions as we continue to navigate these trying times. 


Stay ahead of the curve as we emerge from this together.

Top Reasons to Consider Living in Downtown NYC

Transportation, history and cafes are just the tip of the iceberg.

Are you thinking of moving to Downtown NYC? The views are breathtaking, the area is calm during the evening, and is in proximity to almost everything you could ask for, what’s not to like? Downtown has a lot to offer for anyone looking to move there. However, there are four reasons in particular for why you should consider investing in this area of NYC.

This neighborhood offers ultimate convenience to residents

  • Compared to some other neighborhoods in New York, downtown has a vast variety of transportation modes. The Oculus is a major subway hub (E, R, A/C, 2/3, 4/5, J/Z) that can get you to almost anywhere in Manhattan, throughout the other boroughs and even has the PATH station to enter New Jersey. Downtown also offers ferry rides to a variety of locations (a full route list can be found here). Also, the bus is another easy (and comfy) mode of transportation to and from this area.
  • Downtown NYC also has nearby medical facilities that can provide reassurance to those who live in the area. There are many facilities in the area, but the closest hospital is New York Presbyterian on William Street. 
  • Transportation and local medical facilities are of course priorities for considering a new home location. However, one of the other major conveniences is having plentiful cafes. Downtown tends to slow down on the weekends, which can also make the cafe environment a relaxing place to connect with friends and work on projects. 

A great place to explore

With so many activities happening as well as a robust history, downtown NYC is a great place to adventure. 

  • There are plenty of shopping facilities within this area. In addition to being a transportation hub, Oculus has 365,000 square feet of stores and eateries. Within the Seaport District (adjacent to the Financial District), also being within walking distance, you can find many common-name stores. 
  • This specific neighborhood has a lot of history (even going far back to the revolutionary war). Some of the biggest attractions that are worth visiting or taking friends and family include:
    • Fraunces Tavern on Pearl Street 
    • Wall Street 
    • Schermerhorn Row
    • One World Trade Center

Top Restaurants

You won’t have to travel too far to get a top notch bite to eat. Within the downtown area, some of the top rated restaurants within NYC can be found here. A couple of our favorites include: 

  • Nobu 
  • L’Appart 
  • Temple Court

Continued market growth 

  • Recently provided data by Urban Digs indicates healthy buying signals for early 2020. Contract activity is up 20% YoY (last February compared to this year) and sales volume is also trending positive when compared to the prior year (Dec 2018 compared to Dec 2019).
  • Our NYC team heavily deals with transactions at Southbridge Towers (located between the Civic Center and Financial District of Lower Manhattan) and one of the biggest benefits that our clients have noted within this complex are the opportunities to renovate. With luxury property sales trending, renovations paired with a healthy sales market can create additional value to a home. 

Having completed 58 transactions in Southbridge Towers and many others within this neighborhood, our team can provide additional details to the strong benefits of living in this area. If you are interested in learning more about buying downtown, contact us today. 


Living in the Upper East Side: What You Should Know

Are you looking to buy your next dream home in Manhattan? Our UES team experts have provided the important factors to consider when making a move in Manhattan. In our latest blog, we share a few real estate trends to consider as a buyer  as well as our top five reasons to buy in this neighborhood. 

January 2020 Home Sale Data:

According to recent data from Urban Digs, there are some indicators that show the healthy signals of buying in this neighborhood: 

  • Time on market averages around three months (a 5% improvement from the prior year) and shows the demand for homes compared to other neighborhoods
  • The median sale price is $1,031,000
  • Supply has also increased by 6.6% from the prior year – indicating a buyer’s market

    Upper East Side Data

Top Reasons to Live in the Upper East Side: 

Easy Access to Central Park 

Within a matter of 10-15 minutes, you can find yourself easily in Central Park, a relaxing destination away from the bustle of midtown. There are hundreds of special attractions in the park like the zoo, carriage rides, yoga, picnics and concerts. Options are limitless when you are walking distance away!

Plentiful Museums and Exhibits 

In addition to having easy access to the park, Upper East Siders can also enjoy the close proximity of many museums. Some of the more well-known ones include: 

  • The Metropolitan Museum
  • Spyscape 
  • The Frick Collection 
  • Guggenheim 
  • The Met Bruer 

A Shopper’s Haven 

When living in the Upper East Side, it’s safe to say that you don’t have to travel too far to shop. This specific area of Manhattan is especially known for the high-end stores along Madison Avenue. In this list from NYC Go, you can find some of the top shops with designs fresh off the runway. 

Peace and Quiet 

Although this list showcases the wide variety of activities for all in the Upper East, this is a relatively quiet location compared to the rest of Manhattan. For example, the villages tend to have the liveliest nightlifes, downtown is jam-packed during the work week and midtown tends to be busy with tourism and commuters 24/7. UES offers a relaxing escape from the other areas of the city that can feel overwhelming to some. 

As a result of the calming nature, there are also many casual eateries in the area. Unlike some of the other neighborhoods, you are likely to find a quaint coffee shop – without the hassle of scouring for open seats. Some of our team’s favorites include: DTUT, Orens Coffee and Handcraft Coffee.

Strong Price Value 

The Upper East Side is well-known for luxury homes. However, when comparing the price of square footage and amenities of homes in other neighborhoods, it’s very evident that the value exists in this hidden gem. For example, in a high demand location like the East Village, the average price per square foot is $1,343 versus UES’ current average of $1,152 (Source: Urban Digs). This variance alone shows the ever-present opportunity to buy value in this market. Also, UES homes  tend to also have abundant amenities like in-unit laundry as well vs. other neighborhoods. Once a home is purchased, this area also offers a healthy rental opportunity – According to Street Easy, the two and three bedroom rental prices also tend to be higher in UES compared to the other neighborhoods. 

With many buyer/seller transactions in this particular area, our team can attest to the many benefits of living in the Upper East Side of Manhattan. If you are interested in learning more about homes for sale in the Upper East, contact our team today.

Talking Manhattan – The Buyer’s Market

How much leverage do buyers have in the current market?

Our very own team leader, Russ Putterman, met with Noah Rosenblatt of Urban Digs back in October to discuss the state of the NYC marketplace. Urban Digs is a real estate service provider that helps brokers to find comps, past sales and recent market analytics in NYC neighborhoods. Insights that were taken away from this discussion include:

  • We are in a buyer’s market – The market is moving in a cyclical approach. However, buyers have more leverage at the moment. Homes are not selling like they did in 2008, but if the property is priced properly, it will move. The real estate market is not slowing the stock market down which can sometimes be the case.
  • Some other factors that have recently influenced a buyer’s market include:
    • There is currently a lot of inventory
    • The dollar getting stronger and this had made a notable impact on foreign investment
    • There is still uncertainty around taxes since plans may not be confirmed until springtime.
  • What does buyer behavior look like today vs. a couple of years ago? Buyers are actively looking and have interest in purchasing homes. However, the pool is getting smaller. People are not bidding as aggressively. A couple of year ago, an open house could have consisted of 50-60 people where now a large pool seems to be in the range of 15-20 people. Back in early 2010s sellers were often getting there ask where now, where now sellers are having to come down on ask. This is currently a tough market for “aspirational sellers” and the sense of urgency from buyers has faded away.
  • Is this market an investment opportunity for buyers – There is most leverage in new development.

The fully aired Urban Digs episode can be found here.

Connect with Focus Today!

If you are interested in learning more about buying in NYC or Long Island, contact us today and we will connect you with one of our Specialists. If you’d also like to learn more about the buying process in NYC, download our Buyer’s Guide today!

NYC Buyer’s Checklist

Here are our top tips before you buy.

The checklist below will help you prepare for your home search and ensure you are able to find the perfect home. 

  • Evaluate your budget
    • Know what to spend for a down payment as well as monthly expenditures (i.e.; maintenance or common charges and real estate taxes, monthly mortgage payment, utilities, parking, etc)
  • Obtain mortgage pre-approval
    • You must know how much you can spend before you spend it. Condominium apartments require at least 10% down; cooperative apartments generally require at least 20% down. However, every building is different. 20% of Manhattan’s buildings are condominium buildings and the other 80% are cooperatives.
  • Select an attorney who specializes in New York City real estate
    • The buyer’s attorney does ‘due diligence’-reading minutes, financial statements of buildings etc.
  • Prioritize top needs
    • Space, light, views, building amenities, are all factors to keep in mind while making the time to view at open houses.
  • Identify the timeline for the move
    • Factors that can go into include but are not limited to: confirming the right moving team, taking time off of work, and making sure that your children are set to go to school in a new location. 
  • Explore different neighborhoods to identify your preferred needs 
    • Some of the top priorities when it comes to neighborhoods are the commute to work and the distinctive flare that each offers.
  • Research schools in the selected neighborhoods(s)
  • Evaluate access to transportation in the selected neighborhoods(s)
    • Again, each neighborhood can have an impact on daily commute, so you will want to make sure that it is manageable for you.
  • Work closely with your broker to gather supporting materials for your mortgage application and board package
    • Cooperative apartment buildings require board approval before a closing can take happen. Condominiums require an information packet to be completed before a closing can take place.
  • Once the apartment has been selected, review building financials with your broker and attorney.

To learn more about the buying process in NYC, download our full guide here. You can also contact us with questions or if you would like to speak with our buying specialists.


4 Tips for Your Upcoming Board Interview

After months of searching and studying up on board rules, you have found your perfect co-op! It offers everything you had Handshake Imageon the checklist and the long hunt through NYC is officially over. However, there is one final hurdle to overcome – the board interview. This is the step of the buying process where you will meet the board and be asked a series of questions prior to final approval for tenancy. For many people, this can be a nerve wracking step in the process since you have come so far with bank approval, signed contracts, etc. To lighten the stress that this day can carry, we have provided a couple of key tips that we have gathered from experience of dealing with board approvals:

  • Be on time or a little bit early – punctuality is important and shows your care for the tenancy. It is always recommended to double check with your broker before attending to make sure you have everything you need as well as the correct time. You may even want to meet with your broker at a nearby location 15 minutes in advance to make sure that you are prompt.
  • Be prepped for personal questions – The board will likely want to get to know you so personal questions will likely arise. Some questions may related to previous job experiences, salary changes, frequency of recent moves and this is common in the process. However, you will want to avoid offering any personal information that is not asked for.
  • Prepare in advance if there will be more than one person with you – If you are going to be interviewed with someone else, plan out who will speak to financials, personal questions, etc. It will mitigate any confusion and show preparedness for the interview.
  • Don’t lie – This one is self-explanatory, but as quoted by Baltasar Gracian – “A single lie destroys a whole reputation of integrity”. It is important to be yourself as the board is looking to learn more about who their next neighbor may be.

To learn more tips on handling your next board interview, download our full guide here. If you are planning to search for a co-op, contact us here and  one of our buyer specialists will gladly assist in your next steps. 

Board Interview Full Guide >>