Saturday, January 26, 2013

The New York Real Estate Market Trends for 2013

New York is one of the most dynamic cities in the world and the New York real estate market is no exception to this rule. After the huge plunge of 2008, the market has been on the road to recovery, but experts are still cautious about predicting growth. Let us take a look at the major trends for 2013 and find out how they will affect buyers and sellers.

It is worth looking at the New York real estate market statistics first. In January 2013, the average price per square foot in the city is $1,339. The average listing price for homes is $2,316,317. There has been an increase in the price of some 10.6 per cent from the same period last year. The increase in the number of sales from December 2011 to December 2012 was 40.3 per cent.

The statistics reveal that the New York real estate market is experiencing a recovery with more homes being sold and the prices going up. However, the sales and prices do not reveal the whole picture. It is the demand and supply that play a major role in the market. There are other factors that buyers and sellers need to consider as well.

Experts agree that the increase in the New York real estate prices is primarily due to the fairly small inventory which is projected to shrink. The number of new developments in the city has dropped substantially since the recent market plunge. At the same time, fewer properties are listed because sellers are not happy with the current market prices, which remain fairly low, and prefer to wait for better times.

Hurricane Sandy is expected to have long-term consequences on the market inventory. It has destroyed or significantly damaged many properties. Many neighborhoods have been severely affected and their attractiveness has diminished considerably as a result.

The demand in the New York real estate market has not increased considerably over the past year despite the commotion in the summer of 2012. The predictions for 2013 are not particularly optimistic either. This is mainly because of the growing costs which owners of properties in the city have to incur.

The real estate taxes are projected to grow. This will be the case even for new buildings and ones which have been improved to be more energy efficient and environmentally friendly. The property insurance premiums in the city are expected to increase as well. The growing costs will have a negative impact on home buyers and on investors. The increasing cost of mortgages will affect market demand adversely as well.

The predictions for the New York real estate market in 2013 are not particularly bright but this does not mean that the situation is desperate. New construction developments are in the way and more neighborhoods which were previously ignored by buyers such as Harlem are now gaining popularity.

The Best Property Management Software Is Crucial

If at all you're a landlord or even a letting agent you would probably have heard about the importance of having the finest property management software to help you out. There are plenty of options to choose from and therefore you should be thorough in your search in order to find the best one.

You need to make sure that the format that the reports are saved in is in accordance with what your accountants need. Using these software's shouldn't be an issue at all as they're all made for people with little knowledge of computers.

Most of these software come along with a free trial period or you'd have to pay and use with a re-payment guarantee if at all you're not happy with it. You should also keep in mind the price of the software before you buy as there are plenty to choose from - this would ensure that you get the best price possible.

What to look for in the right property management software

Most of the software that you find can be easily integrated into your website and therefore you need to make sure that the one you buy is of this nature. Moreover, try and buy software that offers a safe payment gateway either via bank wire transfer or through debit and credit cards.

Importance of choosing the best software

As we all know there are plenty of software's for all purposes and the same is applicable in this case too. Therefore, when you have to choose you've got plenty of options to pick from. However, the best software would gather all your data in one place and allow it to be easily distributed to the others involved in your business.

Try and look for software that allows multiple installations and logins as you may need to install it on various computers in your office and link them all to the same main account.

Don't let price fool you

Usually we are taken back by the price of some software. The cheap ones aren't usually good and it need not be necessary that the expensive software would be cool. Therefore, it is up to you to take a look at various reviews of the software before you buy and decide based on what it offers you rather than on price. Price shouldn't be an issue as you'd be cutting down on plenty of other expenses when you make use of these software.

Real Estate Marketing - Make Good Use of Your Business Card

How many real estate business cards did you hand out today?

Hopefully, a whole handful, but I've known agents who guarded those cards like they were gold - they'd only give one away if someone specifically asked for it! Really, I know agents who can make a box of 250 cards last a year or more. (They cost money, you know!)

Instead, you should be handing them to everyone you interact with during the day - even if you've given them one before. If they ask why, tell them it's so they'll have one handy when they want to give your name to someone. That's a subtle request for referrals and just might make people realize that you do appreciate it when they tell others about you. (When they do refer someone to you, remember to say Thank You!)

Photographs: It's become common practice in real estate now, so maybe I don't need to remind anyone, but be SURE to include a good picture of yourself.

Many of the people you talk with in your day to day travels either don't even know your name until you hand them your card, or won't remember your name later. But if your picture is there, they'll remember your face. More importantly, when they see you smiling at them, they'll remember that they liked you!

I'm talking about the waitress who brought your lunch or the checker at the grocery store - you might visit with them every time you go in, but do you introduce yourself by name?

Real estate is a unique business. While people "should" choose you for your experience and expertise, often they choose you on feelings alone. So smile, be pleasant, and cause people to get a good feeling when they see your face on a business card.

The picture on your card is also important when you attend networking events...

Think about how many people you might meet in a single day, and how little time you have to actually get acquainted with any of them. How can you keep track of which of them impressed you as someone you might want to do business with?

When you hear 50 or 100 names you have to have a darned good memory to remember what you thought about each of those people when you met them. But seeing their faces on a card will cause you to recall how you felt about them. You might see one face and think "She was sure friendly and informative," while another face will cause you to think "Boy was he an arrogant jerk!"

So hand out your card with a really good likeness of yourself (not some glamour photo!) - so other people can think "That's someone I want to do business with" every time they come across the card.

Be sure to actually use the cards you get at those events

Those cards can expand your sphere of influence! When you get home, put them in your contact database and send them a note within a day or two. If you can remember something you talked about, mention it - so they'll remember you.

You may have written a note on their card reminding yourself that you offered to send something, and if you did, do it right away.

Maybe you got permission to put them on your newsletter list. If so, do it. If not, write them and offer to put them on the list. Send a sample so they'll know your newsletter will be of value to them.

And then, provided you were favorably impressed by the person, make an effort to send a referral their way within the next few weeks.

here's no better way to ask for referrals (and get them) than to be the first to give one.

Mobile Marketing for Wholesaling Real Estate

Between free Google WiFi, a dramatic increase in tablet usage and being able to go weeks without needing an outlet to charge mobile is clearly quickly becoming the future for wholesaling marketing.

In fact, mobile marketing is already quickly becoming a major differentiating factor in who gets the business when it comes to wholesaling and selling real estate.

Those still sitting on the mobile sidelines, afraid of the technology or who undervalue it or haven't found the right angle yet will find the data from the recent report "The Digital House Hunt: Consumer and Market Trends in Real Estate" provides great insight into what is going on right now and how the shift in buying homes is occurring, as well as important realizations for wholesaling marketing.

According to the report real estate related searches on Google are up 253% in the last 4 years and up 22% in the third quarter of 2012 alone. However, this is nothing compared to the 120% rise in mobile searches for real estate terms in the third quarter or the over 300% jumps in tablet searches by new home buyers.

Most real estate investors and marketers are probably aware that 90% of home buyers now use the web in their searches, with over half making it their first move. However, what many probably don't know is that buyers of foreclosures are more likely to use the internet than others and were responsible for 180% surge in related searches via mobile versus just 7% for desktops.

Many investors have failed to embrace mobile for their wholesaling marketing because they say they need money and deals right now and don't have time for it. They should know that 24% of those using the web for their home search took action the same day, and 60% did within 60 days.

7 out of 10 who took action used local keywords in their home searches. Those advertising foreclosures in their wholesaling marketing will want to know the most popular states for foreclosure related searches were FL, NV, GA, AZ and IL.

Video is of course another big wholesaling marketing trend today and very common on mobile but few probably know that the most common reason for watching video was to find out more about a specific community, not home tours or watching testimonials.

Clearly whatever type of wholesaling marketing you are planning for the year data is king. He who has the data can do the best marketing and reap the best results.

Sadly most still underestimate the importance of mobile for wholesaling marketing. Know that it will only take a couple of really great real estate apps to lock many investors out of much of the market in terms of buyers. HomeSnap is attempting to be one of them. Will you find a way to capitalize on mobile in time?

Ideas to Go Green While Building a New House

Green building practices or materials are gaining huge popularity among both, home builders and homeowners. Incorporating these materials or methods can greatly improve the energy efficiency and air quality of your house, while protecting the environment at the same time. Due to mounting popularity of green building trends, availability of renewable construction materials, as well as builders practicing green construction, has also increased. This has further resulted in decreasing the total cost associated with building a green house. The best part is that most of the house plans are easy to adapt for an eco-friendly building. Thus, going green is not difficult for the homeowners, if they want to. Given below are some simple ideas that can help you go green while building a new house.

Look for a builder, who uses FSC certified wood. Using lumber, grown as well as harvested in a safe and ecologically sound way, is one of the most important aspects of sustainable building. Also, make sure that shelving, floors and counter tops of your new house are built using low or zero VOC materials. Products that contain low or no VOCs in them improve air quality inside the house and thus, reduce pollution. Those, who have pulmonary problems, may be allergic to off-gassing, caused due to materials like paints. So, it is important to be very careful while choosing such products.

Likewise, while selecting appliances, doors and windows for your new house, make sure to pick the ones with energy star ratings. The doors and windows should be dual pane, so that minimum amount of heat escapes from the house during winters. Besides, solar hot water heater can make a wonderful alternative for the traditional water heater, which uses a lot of energy. You can even conserve water by making certain choices, like low flow toilets, faucets and shower heads.

Landscaping with drought resistant shrubbery and growing native plants would help you conserve water. Native plants would even require less fertilizers and pesticides. Besides, insulating the roof with materials that are recyclable is also a great idea to go green, while building a new house. Soy beans, old denims and newspapers are some of the most easily available and safe materials that can be used for insulation. Lighting the house with Compact Fluorescent bulbs, instead of the old tradition bulbs, which consume a great amount of energy would be better.

You can also plan to have some extra space to create a kitchen garden. There is nothing like cooking food with home grown vegetables. Just think about not having to get ready and drive to the grocery store for purchasing fruits or vegetables. It would not only offer you many health benefits but also save a great deal of money that goes into groceries every month. Not to mention, the fuel you will save by not driving to the grocery store every other day. So, implement these ideas and you are sure to have a wonderful green life in your new home.

Higher Conversion Marketing Tips for Commercial Real Estate Agents

When you have a commercial or retail property for sale or lease today, the marketing process is really important. The message about the property and its availability just has to reach the local area and the target market of buyers or tenants as the case may be.

The days of generic marketing in commercial real estate are well gone. We are the specialist local real estate agents to find the right people to buy or rent the listed property. All of that being said, it takes real effort on our part to do this; finding the right parties to inspect premises today is a skill. For this very reason your efforts of personal property marketing should be devoted only to the exclusive listings on your books. Open listings are a waste of time and if any of your open listings sell or rent, it is a factor of luck.

Top agents will walk away from 'open listings' on the basis that the client has not committed to the agent; you cannot trust clients in those circumstances. If a property owner wants to sell or lease their property, they should be serious and committed to the task.

One special note should be made here that all clients today on exclusive listings should commit to the marketing process by providing vendor marketing funds to the agent.

Here are some more ideas to help with this marketing effort:

Local area bias should occur with most of your listings. Over the years in most areas you will see that contracts and leases largely occur with local business owners and property investors. Yes, I know that there are exceptions to the rule with 'out of town' buyers or a tenants sometimes entering the area, but generally speaking it is easier to market locally to the people that know the area and the property.
Signboard placement on the property will remain a key component of property marketing. If you can get a special sign placed on the property then do so.
As soon as the sign is placed on the property, visit the other local businesses in the street and the neighbours that occupy nearby property. Every new listing is an excuse to talk to local people.
Internet and website listings are an important part of property marketing today. Most people and businesses that are looking for properties and premises will check out the internet. For this reason choose your property descriptions and advert layout with care. Get professional photographs taken to help the process of attracting the enquiry.

Simple strategies of marketing like these always work in commercial and retail real estate. You will find out more information and get more leads when you take the right property marketing steps.

How to Choose Property Managemen Software for Real Estate Business

The choice of property management software comes with several options. There is difference of features and advantages in each one of these, making selection very difficult. To understand how to choose property management software that would suit your business, here are a few factors you may consider and conclude accordingly. However, it has to start with evaluation of the kind of property holdings that you have at the moment and the difference of operations in each. For instance you may have a combination of hotels and rental buildings under your possession. The ideal software should give you features that are suited to both types of property management.

The first step to your understanding of how to choose property management software is to assess the kind of work involved in a specific company and its business. If there are multiple rental properties then the software should be able to cater to different aspects of its management - rent collections, maintenance fee, tax and bills payments along with reports and audits. In the same way for hotel property management or similar establishments there is a need for inclusion of features for room tariffs, catering and food arrangements along with options of checking reservations and prior bookings by clients and guests.

It is quite possible that you may be confused about how to choose property management software especially when there are so many options available. This makes it imperative that you keep the budget and enquire the available features at length from your software vendor. Finalizing on a company that has a reputation for backup services and round the clock assistance will be a prudent move. Regular availability of software upgrades and advanced features will be an added advantage that should be available from the company. When you are choosing from among software features leave out products that may have advanced features but are not ones that will be useful for your type of business.

Any thoughts on choosing property management software should also equally focus on aspects of operating the same and its navigation. You should be able to understand the software guidelines and effectively use it for optimal usage. Besides you there are other employees and staff members within an office who may have little to no knowledge of computer software applications. In these cases a software product should be easily accessible with minimal training time. It is vital that both you and your employees have a clear understanding of the features and functionalities of the software; this should also match with the sphere of property management that your company is engaged in.

There are several guidelines that can be suggested on how to choose property management software; however you need to ask plenty of questions both within yourself and your vendor at the time of selection and purchases. Always opt for trial versions that will be available for at least a period of one week to a month; these are available for free of charge and gives you ample scope to evaluate the advantages present in them. You must always try and initiate troubleshooting methods for any problems faced in operations. This will help you remain independent and in control of the software even in the sudden absence of technical assistance from the company.

Benefits of Property Management Software

If at all you have a lot of land to tend to, it's going to be really difficult to keep a tab as to who has paid the rent and who hasn't. Therefore, there are plenty of software's that are created just to help you out. They would be able to help you out a lot as they help manage financial transactions as well as help you get any data you want within seconds.

If at all you have a website, you're going to want to get online property management software that would be easy to integrate into your website. When this is done, new tenants would be able to apply to you and even pay their rent online securely. Moreover, you would be able to plan everything with ease.

Also, they would be able to help you out with your taxes as they help generate reports for tax purposes. Moreover, you would be able to compare various properties and analyse what kind of improvements could be employed and so on.

Benefits of Using Online property management software

There are plenty of benefits when it comes to using such software's, so let's take a look at some of the most common benefits that you would receive:

Easily gather information about your property

When you employ a good software to help you out, you would be able to use it to gather plenty of details pertaining to your individual properties. Moreover, you would easily be able to upload pictures as well as videos to let interested parties view them.

You could do all of this through your website as well, but the software would help you manage each property individually, so there won't be a need to hire a web developer.

Automatic updates to interested parties

There are plenty of times wherein there are no vacancies in any of your properties; however there could be plenty of people who are looking for a place to stay. Rather than losing these contacts, the software would allow them to register to receive notifications whenever there are any vacancies.


If you've got a lot of properties to tend to, maintenance could be a big issue. Therefore, rather than flooding your office with papers let your software take care of this work.

There are plenty of other benefits of using software; you could integrate it with various computers so that you would be able to work in teams too.

BCA Green Mark Scheme: What It Is All About? (Abridged Version)

The BCA Green Mark Scheme was launched by the Building and Construction Authority (BCA) in January 2005. Supported also by the National Environment Agency, it aims to make Singapore's built-up environment eco-friendly by awarding four different levels of rating: Green Mark certified, Gold, GoldPLUS, Platinum (previously Silver, Gold, Platinum and Platinum Star) to buildings that meet five key criteria:

Energy Efficiency
Water Efficiency
Site/Project Development & Management (Building Management & Operation for existing buildings)
Good Indoor Environmental Quality & Environmental Protection

The rating given depends on the points garnered under the assessment. Awarded buildings are re-assessed every three years to retain their status. Into its seventh year now, this scheme has evolved to include parks, office interiors and other infrastructure. Currently, it is divided into four categories of infrastructure.

The government's commitment to promote sustainable development was demonstrated in the master-plan BCA came up with in the second year of the inception of the Green Mark scheme. Named the "1st Green Building Masterplan", the project introduced several new initiatives to further boost Singapore's pursuit of a greener living environment. Among which include courses and certification for green building specialists and the imposition of minimum environmental standards - equivalent to the Green Mark Certified level - for all new public sector buildings and buildings undergoing major retrofitting works. Others include a S$20 million Green Mark Incentive Scheme for new buildings and a S$50 million R&D Research Fund to develop green technology. This research move brought forth the first retrofitted Zero-Energy Building in Singapore and Southeast Asia - a flagship BCA's project. Retrofitting the building - located in the grounds of the BCA academy - is a joint effort by BCA and NUS, in which a three-storey school building was fully equipped with green technology. The building was opened in October 2009.

This master-plan was followed by the "2nd Green Building Masterplan" in 2009. The key objective of the second road-map is to have at least 80% of the buildings in Singapore achieve the Green Mark Certified level by 2030. The plan comprises six strategic thrusts, key initiatives include making it mandatory for all new public sector buildings to attain the Green Mark Platinum status and launching a Green Mark Gross Floor Area (GM GFA) Incentive Scheme, which awards to private developers that earn the Platinum or GoldPLUS accolade, an additional GFA of up to 1% or 2%, respectively, above the Master Plan Gross Plot Ratio (GPR). For developers, a higher GFA means they can build more houses or buildings on the site.

Gross Floor Area (GFA) = Gross Plot Ratio (GPR) x Site Area

Before the GM GFA, the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) has been introducing various bonus Gross Floor Area incentive schemes to encourage high rise greenery, public artwork promotion, among others. Fearful of excess bulk on a site, in 2009, URA imposed a 10% cap on the additional GFA allowable beyond GPR. Now all development sites cannot have more than 10% additional GFA above the GPR, regardless of the number of bonus GFA incentive schemes they are eligible for.

Perhaps the promotion of the Green Mark scheme abroad has taken off because according to BCA, as of November 2011,"133 overseas projects have been certified, or are seeking Green Mark certification" ("Green Buildings Make Value Propositions").

Apart from the above incentive schemes to provide financial aid and other incentives to building owners, another two schemes in place are the S$5 million Green Mark Incentive Scheme - Design Prototype (GMIS-DP) and Pilot Building Retrofit Energy Efficiency Financing (BREEF) Scheme. The former provides funding support for developers at the design stage; while the latter provides credit facilities for retrofitting.

To further spur developers to adopt sustainable and energy-efficient development, BCA came up with the Green Mark Champion Awards in 2008 to recognise developers who have demonstrated corporate social responsibility. Under this award, developers that have a number of buildings with Green Mark Gold and above rating are eligible for the Green Mark Champion or Green Mark Platinum.

Thus far, the Green Mark Scheme has proven largely successful judging by the jump in number of buildings certified with a rating. In 2005 and 2006, only 17 buildings were qualified for the award. But this figure skyrocketed to more than 1180 as of May 2012.

So why the motivation by developers to obtain the ratings? Besides the incentives of additional GFA under the Green Mark Gross Floor Area (GM GFA) Incentive Scheme, having a Green Mark reputation can enhance the firm's competitive edge in overseas ventures. The saving in energy costs will also translate to higher property and rental values.

"A Green Mark Platinum building, for instance, can achieve more than 30% energy-savings compared to a code-compliant building" ("2nd Green Building Masterplan").

In addition, a joint study on 23 commercial properties, in 2011, by BCA and NUS with six top real estate consultancy firms, revealed that retrofitting commercial buildings with green technologies can cut operating expenses by 10 per cent, on average. While commercial buildings can enjoy capital appreciation of about 2 per cent.

Specifically, the average total saving in energy consumption for a building after retrofitting to attain the standard BCA Green Mark certification can be as high as 17 per cent of its total energy consumption.

Further, retrofitting may not be costly.

"There is now greater awareness in the industry that the upfront cost of retrofitting energy inefficient buildings can be recovered in about 4 to 7 years," said Mr Quek See Tiat, Chairman, BCA ("BCA-NUS Study shows that Greening Existing Buildings can Increase Property Value").

It is also estimated that the retrofit cost, expressed as a percentage of the current market value of property, is only 0.5% for retail and 1% for offices.

BCA's well thought-out green initiatives have been a huge success in creating a win-win situation for different groups in this tiny red dot. For building owners, they gain from the lower maintenance costs. For developers, including green features are done at low costs and with no impact to GPR (due to the bonus GFA incentive schemes), but these features not only enhance the aesthetic beauty of the buildings, they also translate to reputation boost and higher property values. For the community at large, they get to enjoy healthier living spaces. Singapore is living proof that sustainable, green living is possible within an urban jungle.


1. Building and Construction Authority Newsroom, "BCA-NUS Study shows that Greening Existing Buildings can Increase Property Value", 16 Sep 2011, Web
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