Barnes and Noble Leaving The Bronx

Increasing Rents plus Decreasing Sales equals tough choice to close the doors on the Bronx’s only Large Bookstore. Barnes and Noble says Goodbye! We say stay!

I must admit, I am an avid book reader. My library is full of books gathered throughout the years. Long ago I learned that you are what you read. So I tend to read a lot. Books ranging from Personal Finance, Real Estate, Coding, Leadership and more.

I am also a Coffee Drinker and would often find myself enjoying a cup of Coffee while I read my latest purchase. Starbucks and Barnes and Noble became my favorite hangout.

I also found myself holding meetings at Barnes and Noble in Coop City. It was convenient. Plenty of free parking, quiet atmosphere and Coffee. Did I mention how much I enjoy coffee?

I also remember the times when Joel Osteen visited Barnes and Noble in Coop City. I was there and so were many other Bronxites.

That’s why I was caught off guard and confused when I heard the news that Barnes and Noble would be closing it’s doors with no plans to reopen. Considering the fact that they are the only major book store in the Bronx, it kind of feels as if the Bronx is being denied access to something that is supposed to be fundamental.

What about our Elected Officials?

Our local elected officials from our Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr, Councilman Jimmy Vacca, Councilman Andy King and others have all voiced their dissatisfaction at the fact that Barnes and Noble will be closing their doors. You can read the BP’s Press Release here http://bronxboropres.nyc.gov/press/releases/2016-11-03.html. Because of their efforts, the Mega Bookstore has decided to explore the possibility of reopening in a new location.

Note: it’s easy to blame our Elected Representatives for everything, but when it comes to private businesses and privately owned real estate, there isn’t much they can directly do except for voice their opinions and let those involved know they are watching. This has been done by our elected’s and for that, I am grateful.

Do people still read books?

Some people will argue that the actual purchasing of physical books has declined since Amazon Kindle and other platforms have been taking over market share. This is true and I must admit that besides having an extensive library of actual books, I also have a large library of ebooks.

The convenience of having a small device that can hold thousands of books is awesome. That being said, there is nothing quite like holding a book in your hands and flipping through the pages. I tend to have more focused reading when I have an actual book and tend not to get distracted as much. Reading on my Phablet or Tablet isn’t a good experience since it’s so easy to just abandon reading and jump on my email or take a phone call.

What can we do?

We can all take a moment and email or write a letter to the heads of Barnes and Noble and let them know that we want to have a Full Barnes and Noble in our borough. They should make the investment. https://help.barnesandnoble.com/

We can express our understanding that their decision is based on the bottom line. Rents go up while sales are going down equals the tough decision to close. But in my Book, Reading is Still Fundamental!

Elections and Bronx Real Estate

What do Elections have to do with Bronx Real Estate?

Your elected leaders can have a major impact on local real estate.

From:

  • Property Values
  • Property Taxes
  • Potholes
  • Zoning
  • Local Economy
  • and more

So I advocate getting involved in the political process.

As Bronxites, we need to take a serious look at who represents us in Public Office. From local elections in the Bronx, to NYC, NYS and our Federal Elected Officials, we need to choose wisely.

A good choice can make a world of difference. A bad choice can mean that your local neighborhoods get deprived of the resources they vitally need and your rights being trampled on. Your life can be impacted in ways you may not even be aware of.

When choosing who to vote for, it might be easy to simply vote for the person who is from your political party, geographic area, cultural background etc.

What you should really be looking at is who is going to do the job right. Who is going to properly represent your beliefs in office. I also recommend not being a One Issue Voter. Since we live in a Democracy, one person can’t dictate what happens, it takes a combination of several levels of government to get things done. So one issue candidates can end up being good for one thing you care about and bad for many things that impact you.

How to Choose a Candidate to Vote For

Your choice is a personal one. It would be easy for me to simply say to vote based on what you hear from your friends, media etc. In reality, these may be good sources but you should do some research on where the candidates stand on the issues that matter most to you.

Key Political Issues

There are a lot of macro and micro political issues to consider. Below are just a few to mention.

Macro Political Issues

These are issues that matter on a larger scale and tend to be important to larger demographics and tend to make easier talking points for elected officials or candidates running for office.

  • Education
  • Taxes
  • Environment
  • Jobs / Economy
  • Immigration
  • Health Care
  • Crime / Public Safety
  • Civil Rights
  • Women’s Rights
  • Terrorism

Micro Political Issues

These tend to be local issues but are just as important as the the macro issues.

  • Zoning Laws
  • Local Parks Funding
  • Local School Funding
  • Local Economy
  • Public Safety

Make a List of Each Candidate’s Pro’s and Con’s

Instead of voting based on the sound bites you may hear, make a list of all the candidates and list their pro’s and con’s. Identify the issues they are vocal on, where their support comes from and don’t forget to look into their history. Where they’ve stood on the issues in the past should be a good indicator on where they intend to lead us if elected.

Here are some things to consider:

  • Decide what you are looking for in a candidate.
  • Evaluate candidate’s stance on issues.
  • Learn about the candidate’s leadership abilities.
  • Gather materials about the candidates.
  • Find out about the candidates.
  • Learn how other people view the candidate.
  • Sorting it all out.

Good Leadership Qualities

An elected representative is a reflection on us all. This is why you should take your vote seriously. A good leader should be:

  • Assertive
  • Work Well with Others
  • A good listener
  • Willing to listen to others views and opinions
  • Able to make tough decisions even if not politically prudent
  • Not opinionated – This is tough because we tend to gravitate to those who have the same opinions as us but in reality, an elected official represents more than just one individual and needs to keep in mind the impact of their actions on the masses.
  • Intelligent
  • Experienced

Where to get Political Information?

It can be difficult to find quality information that isn’t biased or leans towards one candidate, party etc but with enough effort, you can break through the noise and get some solid info.

  • Local Media
  • National Media
  • Candidates Websites
  • Political Party Websites
  • Social Media Groups or Pages
  • Candidates or Political Party Statements on Social Media
  • Civic Organizations
  • Fact Checking Websites
  • http://www.politifact.com/
  • http://www.factcheck.org/

Who Should You Vote For?

Again, vote for the candidate that reflects your overall stance on the issues that matter to you. Also, make sure the candidate is talking about the issues that reflect the position they are running for. If a candidate is campaigning on Federal Issues but running for Local Office, then there’s not much they can do locally on the federal issue. So make sure you support their position on the issues they can actually take action on.

It’s easy for a candidate to take a position on a popular stance that gets them support but might keep quiet on the issues that they may actually have the power to impact.

Does Your Vote Matter?

Every Vote matters. Elections can get extremely close. So close that just a few votes can separate the winner and loser. So make sure you make your voice heard and get out to vote.

Where do I vote?

Check this website to see where you should vote. https://nyc.pollsitelocator.com/search

Don’t forget to Vote. Share with your Friends and Family.

GrubHub Review

If you’re like me, then you don’t always have time to cook. I order in a lot and have found using a service like GrubHub is very convenient. All you have to do is visit their website, fillout a profile and start checking out the local restaurants in your area.

It’s a convenient way to see which local restaurants have timely service and the quality of the food. You can see various reviews from other users and the price rankings of the restaurants. You can save your billing information for quick ordering and with your first signup, make sure to wait for the prompt to submit your email address so you can save $7 on your order.

You also get to list multiple addresses for instance one for home and the other for work. For convenience, they also have an app for your phone. I think I will be using this often. Hey maybe I can use it for Open Houses that I host for my Real Estate Clients. Now there’s food for thought.

So go ahead and check them out.

The Cost of Waiting to Buy a Home

Buying Real Estate is one of the most complicated financial moves a person or family makes in their lifetime. That is why being prepared to buy a home is important. You want to make sure that you are financially prepared to make a purchase and that your current credit score is good enough to qualify for a home.

Things to consider when buying a home

  • Current Income
  • Credit Score
  • Job Security
  • Housing Needs
  • Purchase Price
  • Monthly Payments

The list above is pretty basic and there are no surprises, but there is more to consider when buying a home.

The Cost of Waiting to Buy a Home

Maybe you’re ready to make a purchase today. You have saved up enough for a down payment, have good credit and good income but like most people, you’re renting a home and paying what seems to be an unbelievable amount in rent that you can’t right off in your taxes. So the question is, why are you still renting? Maybe you’re hesitant to start the process of buying real estate. The issue is that waiting is costing you some serious money.

The Median Sales Price of a Bronx Home is $385,000 for February 2016. This information is derived straight from the Multiple Listing Service which has a significant amount of accurate data. As a Realtor, I get to see a lot of information that generally the public doesn’t. So I will show you another tool I like looking at when checking out trends. The New York Fed is a website that shows you changes in regional price. They show that there has been an overall 2.5% price increase in the Bronx over the past year. All indicators point to the upward trend continuing. Let’s say you wait one year from today to buy a home, what will the price difference be?

Simple equation

$385,000 x 2.5% = $9,625 price increase!

Interest rates

Mortgage rates are expected to reach 4.65% by the end of 2016 says Jonathan Smoke Chief Economist for Realtor.com. Compare that with today’s current interest rate which is 3.69% as per Realtor.com rate watch. This is almost a full percentage point higher. So let’s do the math for this one.

I will keep it basic and provide the monthly payment as the metric to compare.

Cost of Buying a Home Today

$385,000 x 3.69% = $1,770 monthly payment

Cost of Buying a Home Next Year

Remember, waiting till next year increases the purchase price of the home potentially by $9,625 

$394,625 x 4.65 = $2,035 monthly payment

Waiting till next year increase’s your monthly payment by $265. That is a considerable price increase that can make the difference in whether or not you can afford the monthly payment.

Tax Benefits of owning a home

When you own a home, you typically get a Tax right off for Property Taxes, Mortgage Interest and Points. Every person’s financial situation is different so I can’t give you an accurate estimate on what the savings will be but I can say that it could be significant enough to be noticeable.  It can be several hundred to thousands of dollars depending on various factors. Note: It’s always good to have a CPA advise you when it comes to taxes.

When you rent your apartment or home, you can’t right off your rental payments from your taxes.

In Conclusion

If you are renting an apartment or home but are qualified to Own Your Own Home, then the time is now to make a purchase. You can find Thousands of Bronx Homes for Sale using our Property Search Widget in the right sidebar of this page or use this link Search Bronx Real Estate.

Thanks for reading and don’t forget to share this article with your friends on Social Media.

Moving In To Do List – Real Estate

So you spent what seems like an eternity searching for your perfect home. You might have previewed 3 or even 20 homes and spent countless nights and weekends in pursuit of your Dream Home. You’ve gone through the process of working with your Real Estate Agent, Lawyer, Property Inspector, Mortgage Lender and other key members of your real estate team. You’ve crossed that finish line and finally closed on your new property. Now it’s time to move in. What now?

Things to do before moving in

1. Change the Locks – Before you or your family moves in, make sure to change all the locks in the home. Don’t skimp on your locks. Make sure you either know how to properly install the locks or have them professionally done. Also if possible, double up on the locks.

2. Connect your Security Alarm – Besides having your locks changed, you should also take the time to connect a quality security alarm service. Alarm providers offer basic alarm features to remote detection features. Choose a reputable company that prioritizes customer service and response time.

3. Steam & Clean – No matter how clean the home may look, take the time to do a thorough cleaning of the property. Before moving anything in, clean the floors, walls, cabinets, kitchen and bathroom.

4. Exterminate – Rodents and Critters don’t make good house guests. Get your home professionally exterminated. You can do it yourself if it’s a small task or home but the larger the size the better it is to have a pro handle it.

5. Introduce yourself to your Circuit Breaker –  In case of an emergency or some basic fuse changes, it’s a good idea to learn how to do basic things with your circuit breaker. Learn which fuse controls the different parts of your home.

6. Water & Plumbing – Learn how to turn off the main water valve in your home. If you are going on vacation or in case of a weather emergency, you might want to shut down the water. Also if you’re a person who likes to do home repairs yourself, then always remember when working with the plumbing, it’s advisable to shut down the water first. This will help to prevent a flood.

7. Roof & Gutters – Make sure that your roof is in good shape and the gutters are cleaned. Last thing you want to do is move your stuff in and the roof leaks or collapses.

8. Emergency Numbers & Address’s – Get the numbers and address’s to your local hospital, fire house, police department, government boards, elected officials etc.

In Conclusion, moving into your new home is an exciting time. Just make sure that you follow these tips before moving in so that your transition can be as smooth as possible.

How to get a Mortgage for your next Real Estate Purchase

Are you looking to buy a new home? If the answer is yes and you don’t have enough cash to buy the property outright, then you will need to get a Mortgage / Loan. There are some basics that go into getting a good mortgage rate.

  • Save for your downpayment – It’s a good idea to have skin in the game. The more you can put down the better the chance of getting a major lender to lend you money. Ideally you should have between 10 – 20% for your downpayment.
  • Monitor your Credit Score & Reports – You want to make sure that you are keeping a close eye on your credit score and report. The higher your score the better. If you see anything inacurate in your report make sure to contest it as soon as possible. Also try and keep your debt to below 30% of available credit.
  • Maintain a stable income – Most lenders want to see 2 years of income taxes and a few recent paystubs.

Shop Around for your Mortgage

Most people will first look at their main bank to get a loan. This makes sense since you might be offered some incentives for being a bank client.

But did you know that sometimes you could get a better deal elsewhere? Besides looking at your bank, see what rates other banks are offering. Also look at online lenders or Mortgage Brokers. Don’t overlook your local Credit Union.

You are not limited to where you can get your mortage from.

Why use a Buyer’s Agent when Purchasing Real Estate

When you are looking to purchase a Property, whether it’s a home or commercial real estate, you want to ensure that you are being properly represented.

A Buyers Agent works on your behalf to help you negotiate the best deal and terms possible. They do the Market Research and most often have experience with your local real estate market. They have a fiduciary responsibility to work in your best interest.

The best part about working with a buyers agent is that you don’t pay their fee. In a typical deal, the home owner signs a contract with the listing agent for a set commission. The commission can range anywhere between 4-6% and is negotiated between the home owner and listing agent.  If the listing agent finds a buyer they get to keep the whole commission but if you have a buyers agent then the listing agent splits the commission between the two. This in effect means you get the benefit of being represented for free.

Should you only use one Buyers Agent?

Typically it’s best to develop a relationship with one Agent. It’s like having a Family Doctor, you want to have a trusted advisor that you work exclusively with. Let the Buyers Agent work on setting up all the appointments and do the house hunting for you.

These are the things you can expect them to do.

  • Identify properties within your price range, condition and location
  • Identify the best deals on the market
  • Help you with identifying the good properties from the bad
  • Help coordinate your real estate team
  • Guide you through the Negotiation of the purchase

What you should provide to your Buyers Agent

  • Your Pre Approval from your bank or lender. This will ensure that you are taken seriously by the homeowner when you make an offer.
  • Your Ideal Price Range for your prospective purchase.
  • Your preffered location.
  • Your availability.

Using a Buyers agent is great for those looking to purchase a home or even for real estate investors.

How to Become a Bronx Real Estate Agent

Help Bronxites Buy their first Home

Have you thought about becoming a Real Estate Agent in the Bronx? The Bronx Manhattan North Association of Realtors is providing the Real Estate Salesperson Course starting on February 2 – April 1. On Mondays, Tuesday & Wednesday Evenings from 6:00pm to 9:00pm. The cost of the training is $350 and includes textbook & course outline. You will learn from Realtor Professionals.

Register Here

Location is:

BMNAR Real Estate Institute
1867 Williamsbridge Road
Bronx NY 10461

For more info contact

718-892-3000
Eliezer Rodriguez ESQ –  e.rodriguez@bmar.org
Janine Schall  –  j.schall@bmar.org

Register Early since Seating is Limited!

Register Here

Are Bronx Rents Affordable? Not Always

Just finished reading an interesting article in the NY Daily News about the affordability of renting in the Bronx. View Original Article . The article was written by Denis Slattery. Denis is shedding some light on the issue of Rent in NYC.

My first reaction was “This has to be wrong”, but after reading it and looking at some basic data from the US Census and other online sources, it’s troubling to see that this is true. While the average rent in the Bronx is indeed lower than similar properties in the city, income levels also tend to be lower than other areas in the Big Apple.

The article highlights how people in the Bronx are spending as much as 68% of their income on rent alone. Note: 30% is the recommended spending level that is the general rule of thumb of what a person should spend on Rent.

What Can We Do?

It would be easy to say let’s lower the rents. But only addressing the amount of rent that is charged alone, won’t solve the long term issue. Also the cost of managing and maintaining a building is expensive and reducing the rents isn’t always possible.  In reality we need to find a way to increase the income levels in our borough. The touchy subject of Gentrification always creeps in when bringing this topic up. So how can we increase the income levels while ensuring that Bronxites don’t get pushed out? How can we also find ways to minimize the ever increasing costs of Managing and Maintaining a Building?

Long Term Solutions:

  • Increase investment in our Education system to prepare for the jobs of tomorrow.
  • Better Management of the money put into our education system
  • Focus on getting high school graduates into college and graduating on time.
  • Colleges should make it a top priority to offer Robust Job Placement Programs.
  • Focus on where the money is at. Technology and Medical.

Short Term Solutions:

  • Provide more training programs for Bronxites in various fields like technology, medical etc.
  • Increase awareness of Job Placement programs so the unemployment rates can decrease.
  • Government should increase it’s support for Small Business’s so that they can hire and expand their business.

How can Rents be lowered or increases minimized?

  • Building owners should buy in bulk. Oil and Gas tends to be one of the largest expenses that impact the bottom line for an owner. If there were a way for Owners to team up and buy Oil and Gas in bulk, they might realize a savings. There should be greater tax incentives for Building Owners to use technology like Solar Panels to decrease reliance on Oil and Gas. Building supplies required to maintain a property also tends to be a major cost and buying in bulk can help here as well.
  • Cost saving measures for tenants. Running the water costs money. Yes, renters don’t always pay the water bill directly but they pay for it in their rent. The same applies to electricity.
  • Repairs and Maintenance. This is a topic of contention but in reality Owners and Renters need to work together. If there is something wrong with your apartment, make sure you let the Owner know once you first notice it. What can be a minor repair today can end up being a huge expense later. Building owners also need to be quick to respond to tenants request for repairs.

So while this news is troubling and a quick fix isn’t easy, at least we can use this information to better understand the issue and respond adequetly. Thank you Denis from writing the artcile.

Resources:

 

Does Real Estate Hibernate for the Winter?

It is a myth in the real estate industry that winter is not a good time to buy or sell a home. Our instincts tell us that people tend not to be focused on making such a large purchase during the holiday season but in reality that is just a myth.

Winter Buyers

Yes, peak season is during the spring and summer months. But buyers can find amazing deals on properties that have been listed for over 6 months. Why? Prices on homes listed for an extended period of time ends up getting a reduction in the Listing price in order to entice people to come and look at the property.

The price adjustment tends to also reflect a correction in the listing price. It is common knowledge that people want as much as they can get for the sale of their home and why shoudn’t they? But in reality, Sellers and Realtors don’t set the price of a home, the market does. So a slight reduction in cost is normal and can benefit the Winter Real Estate Buyers.

Also buyers looking during the winter months are taken more seriously. I mean you are out in the cold and snowy days looking for a home instead of being home where it’s nice and warm.

Winter Sellers

Winter months can be the best time to List your house with a Realtor. Why? During the Spring and Summer months the best homes that were listed and marketed properly have already closed. Homes that are still on the market from that timeframe are those that might not be the most appealing because of price or condition and they might not have been marketed right. So getting your home onto the market now and priced right along with some serious marketing should translate into a quick sale.

Remember, Winter Buyers are motivated buyers. Your competition in available homes for sale is not that strong if they’ve been listed for a while and haven’t made the proper adjustments to stay competitive.

Time to Buy and Sell

We’ve just debunked the Myth of Winter Real Estate. It is in fact a great time to buy or sell a home. Just make sure to work with a Realtor from the area that can help you navigate the good deals and bad deals.

If you have any questions, feel free to touch base.