The Real.Est List
Here's some expert advice for buying and renting in the dog days of summer
The dog days of summer get a bad rap when it comes to the real estate market, so we decided to consult with some NYC real estate experts to find out whether this end-of-summer period is really as tough as some say. Some said yes, some said no, and all had some advice on how best to navigate these final days before fall.
Jacky Teplitzky, broker: Opportunities may exist for buyers.
When Labor Day is coming around and there’s no deal on the table, sellers start to worry, so they may be more willing to negotiate. September is also regarded as a hard month in New York because of the Jewish holidays. By the time you wake up, September is gone. I’ve recently heard of stories where brokers are being offered $5,000 American Express gift cards as a reward for getting the right buyer. The sellers want to get these apartments snapped up fast.
Malcolm Carter, broker and blogger: Summer can mean serious interest from buyers.
Whether to buy or sell in summer is a debate that will never end in the world of real estate. Everything I know suggests that putting up a property in the summer is not necessary a mistake. There will always be people looking for homes. Some types of homes are more susceptible to finding buyers in the summer.
The people who are looking during the summer are more likely to be serious buyers than at other times of the year. It’s hot out there, and a lot of people are away, but the people who could be away and are not away and are looking have got to be serious.
I went to some open houses last Sunday and I saw 4 apartments -- all four had very good activity. Perhaps it's because there’s so little to see, especially this summer when inventory is unnaturally low because sellers are waiting for higher prices and for buyers to able to get financing in this period of strict lender standards.
Brad Malow, broker: Late summer and holiday season are the best times for buyers to score real deals.
In most cases, buyers may find some sellers willing to negotiate more during the slower months of the year (August, November, December) -- especially those who have had their apartments on the market for some time. It is always worth a try.
However, with inventory remaining tight, this summer might prove to be a little tougher when it comes to buyer negotiations simply because of supply and demand.
Gary Malin, president, Citi Habitats: Advantages for buyers come with disadvantages, too.
In terms of buying, you’ll have a slight advantage because you’re not going to be around as many people. At the same time, sellers won’t be that flexible because they know things may pick up in September.
For buying, it always helps to have all financial paperwork ready to go, just as in the case of renting. On the sales side in particular, a lot of the brokers will slow down and may not even hold open houses, but they still are accessible.
Kathy Braddock, broker: No such thing as a dead season anymore.
It used to a much more cyclical schedule in terms of buying. I think that, quite frankly, the Internet has changed that. We have all become a 24/7 society, and information is constantly at our fingertips.
It used to be hard to see properties in August because their were no brokers around. But now you can be sitting in the Hamptons, in the Jersey Shore or in your villa in France and you can see properties immediately. I don’t know a broker in New York who’s not bringing apartments to market now. The only time someone says don’t bring it to market is if a broker with the exclusive is not going to be in town.
Sometimes the advantage to bringing property to market during slower times is that you always have a group of educated people looking, and as soon as something new comes to market, they may pounce. A good, well-priced property will stand out this time of year.
The trick is to price it well. Get three agents who truly know your neighborhood to suggest a price. Come to market well-priced and well-staged and you’ll come in strong.
Gus Waite, broker, co-founder rentingNewYork.tv: If you’re renting and don’t have to move, don’t. Plus, don’t trust a no-fee apartment this time of year.
Prices are highest, competition is fierce, vacancy is low and landlords are not that flexible. It’s brutal out there.
In our database, just three percent of landlords are offering any kind of concesssion. If you’re using a broker, you’re paying a fee. If people don’t want to pay a fee, don’t call a broker. At this time of year, if any agent is advertising no-fee, they’re up to no good.
And the problem is that any landlord that’s paying a concession is either ridiculously overpriced or in a weird area.
The market won’t slow down for rentals until October or November. People who’ve been dragging their feet tend to move in September, so September can be be even worse because it’s people who procrastinated for a better deal.
To put yourself in a better position, have a guarantor set up, and make sure their state of residence is accepted by the landlord. [Ed's note: Many landlords also accept institutional guarantor Insurent.] Also, if you’re looking for a place with roommates, make sure you can combine your income with your roommate's to make the income minimum. Bring all your paperwork, too.
The only advantage for renters searching in August is that inventory will be comparatively high. Many landlords work to ensure that their leases turn over during busy summer months when demand is highest.
However, though there will be many listings on the market, there will also be a lot competition for them. Renters can expect to see apartments in desirable neighborhoods rent fast and will encounter at least some listings with multiple applications on them.
Because of this demand side increase, some of the larger (i.e. more sophisticated) property managers will also become very aggressive with their asking rents. There are actually computer programs out there that assist them in calculating the highest possible rent for an apartment at any moment in time.”
Sunny Hong, mortgage banker: Now’s as good a time as any to talk to lenders.
I don’t think there is bad/good time to apply for a mortgage. Applications are at all-time highs now because of where rates are. A record number of homeowners are refinancing because rates are so low. This is important for home purchasers to know because that means most lenders are at capacity with turn times.
Although banks try to make purchase transactions a priority [over refinancing], it is important for purchasers to be prepared by knowing what the mortgage process entails. It is important to be pre-approved, to know what documents are required, what the step by step process is so they can set their expectations.
Preparation is key in today’s market for a serious buyer.The dog days of summer, which tend to be slower in real estate, are a good time to search for information, talk to a couple of mortgage lenders, and gather information.
Ali Kamalzadeh, mortgage broker. Purchasing or financing now can get you ahead of the competition -- but don’t get pressured by mortgage brokers.
Generally mortgage applications for refinancing or purchasing a home fall/drop [during the summer]. If an individual can place their summer fun on hold or multi-task a purchase/refinance they will be ahead of the crowd.
Be wary of mortgage bankers utilizing high-pressure sales tactics or who make you feel as though the rate/program they are offering is only good for a short time. The Fed has signaled they will keep mortgage rates low until 2014 and the market is always susceptible to fluctuations and on average will gradually work their way back down.