Resorts World Catskills–Comprehensive Update

It’s been two months, and the casino is settling in.  The anticipation, and now reality, of having a full scale gambling and extended entertainment venue in Sullivan County, NY is beginning to take shape along many fronts.  Read the extended article and listen to the podcast for a fuller understanding of the what Resorts World Catskills is doing and how it is effecting the local economy and infrastructure.

Across All Buyers, Millennials Have the Most Purchases

Across All Buyers, Millennials Have the Most Purchases

In housing, generations intersect regularly. Who’s downsizing? Who’s driving the market? Who’s trading up?

The generation impressing on the market most today? Millennials, according to the 2018 Home Buyer and Seller Generational Trends study, recently released by the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR). Millennials are accounting for 36 percent of purchases, ahead of baby boomers at 32 percent, Generation Xers at 26 percent, and the Silent Generation at 6 percent.


“REALTORS® throughout the country have noticed both the notable upturn in buyer interest from young adults over the past year, as well as mounting frustration once they begin actively searching for a home to buy,” says Lawrence Yun, chief economist at NAR, of the study. “Prices keep rising for the limited number of listings on the market they can afford, which is creating stark competition, speedy price growth and the need to save more in order to buy. These challenging market conditions have caused—and will continue to cause—many aspiring millennial buyers to continue renting unless more Gen Xers decide to sell, and entry-level home construction picks up significantly.”

Millennials are buying homes with higher values, but the same square footage: $220,000 for 1,800 square feet, versus last year’s $205,000 for the same size, reveals the study. They are close to family and friends, as well, and prefer to reside near them—an attribute in common with other generations.

“The sense of community and wanting friends and family nearby is a major factor for many homebuyers of all ages,” Yun says. “Similar to Gen X buyers who have their parents living at home, millennial buyers with kids may seek the convenience of having family nearby to help raise their family.”

Additionally, 52 percent of the millennials in the study have at least one child—an indicator of the likelihood of a move—and another 52 percent purchased in the suburbs. Eighty-five percent purchased a single-family; just 2 percent went with a condominium.

“While there is an overall trend among households young and old to migrate towards urban areas, the very low production of new condos means there are few affordable options for buyers, especially millennials,” says Yun.

All generations enlisted a real estate professional for their transaction, according to the study. Ninety percent of millennials are most likely to purchase through a REALTOR®, with 75 percent believing they can educate them about the process. Ninety percent of millennials are most likely to list with a REALTOR®, as well, and at least 84 percent of every other generation partnered with a REALTOR®.

“Especially in today’s fast-moving housing market, consumers of all ages want a REALTOR® to guide them through the exhilarating, yet nerve-wracking experience of buying or selling a home,” says NAR President Elizabeth Mendenhall.

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Stereotyping Sellers-Buyers & Brokers

Hope is an abiding attitude in the real estate business.

Sellers “hope” their house will sell.  They want a quick purchase, at the highest price.  Delayed maintenance shouldn’t impede negotiations and a comparative market analysis doesn’t mean pricing at current market value.  As in”  “I want to net out at this number, can’t or will not lose money, will not cut the grass, paint, or complete any fixes that will help sell my home.”

Buyers “hope” they can buy a home of their dreams, that it’s truly affordable, the school system is perfect, the local park is a few blocks away, and the taxes are “reasonable”.  “I need a seller’s concession to help with closing costs, a fire place, and finished basement.  “If you can’t find that for me Mr. Broker or Agent, I’ll find someone who can.”

Broker’s “hope” their seller understands proper pricing is the number one reason why one home sells more quickly than another similar one down the block.  The CMA, Comparative Market Analysis, pinpoints recently sold properties within a short distance of the one to be sold, adjusts some for positive features like an in ground pool, special or extraordinary interior or exterior features (water front-100 acres included-rentable chalet, and so on) or a negative adjustment for substantial delayed maintenance, mold, no landscaping, buried oil tank, etc..

Broker’s “hope” their buyer clients understand you can really only accomplish two primary goals regarding home ownership within a budget-LOCATION AND PRICE or PRICE AND LOCATION.  Any additional factor like more acreage, great school district, pool, deck, finished basement, wine cellar, high end appliances are a true bonus.

No one should ever lose hope.  But-Sellers and Buyers need to realistically evaluate a broker’s guidance on how best to sell or buy real estate.  This advice isn’t about inflating your broker or agent’s ego.  It’s about your money and how best to use your real estate professional’s years of experience to get what you want.

These buyer/seller/broker hopes are somewhat stereotypical snap shots.  Individual sellers, buyers, and broker/agents vary in great degree.  Putting people in boxes does little to forward the real estate process.

If you, the seller or buyer develop the trust and confidence in your real estate professional, stick with that person and listen critically.  Then, ask the needed questions, get the answers, and get on with moving in a positive direction toward closing.

The Grateful Broker

I retired from a law enforcement job in April of 2007 after 25 years of service and became a Licensed New York State Salesperson the same month.  Realizing my pension and Social Security wouldn’t be enough to see me through into my eighties or longer, I embarked on a real estate career at the worst possible time imaginable.

The world was going into the “The Great Recession”, “Too Big to Fail” was a phrase just coming into public awareness, business and bank failures would soon bring the general economy to a crawl.  In short, my decision to try real estate seemed an outrageous business model to pursue.

Being somewhat ambitious by nature and also a part time house painter, I decided to book paint jobs while learning real estate basics.  Seemed like a reasonable way to acclimate and break into an unfamiliar business world while still paying the monthly bills.

I interviewed with a local broker, we shook hands, and I went to work answering the phones, learning a new business vocabulary, and having frequent tutoring sessions.

Warren turned out to be a great teacher and mentor.  I am grateful for the many lessons he provided and his ability to impart valuable information that made good sense.

Not much real estate business was being conducted anywhere in the country, let alone Sullivan County, NY., but I stuck with it picking up a few sales and began to understand the real estate business in a more process driven way.

After working with my first broker more than several years, I struck out on my own in November of 2012.  I took the required courses to achieve Broker status, said thank you to Warren, and opened up my own firm.

The transition from NYS Licensed Salesperson, to Associate Broker, to Broker/Owner wasn’t smooth or without missteps.  The school of hard knocks provided some eye opening experiences which prepared me to shoulder the very responsible position of handling untold sums of other people’s money.

It is now Thanksgiving and Holiday Time 2017.  I have a basketful of items for which to be truly humbled and grateful.  Ten years of real estate experience has given me some perspective and tools to serve an ever increasing clientele during a much better economic climate as measured against April of 2007.


I give thanks to: (BTW–not an all inclusive list)

My creator for keeping me alive and useful at 66 years of age

My wife who has more than filled her role and cherished me for more than 4 decades

My Family Tree for bringing a history, time table, and genetic understanding forward

My children and grandchildren who continue to grow and mature

My pet dogs who have loved me unconditionally, each in their own way and time

My guitars, microphones, bass, equipment rendering untold hours of personal enjoyment

My musical experiences with partners, band members, and the general public

My ability to read and comprehend


My clients who have provided me the ability to buy beer and pizza every time I want a beer or pizza pie

My clients who have chosen to review my services on Zillow and Trulia–Heading towards 100 Five Star Reviews

My customers who aren’t quite sure yet if they will become clients

My agents Amanda Ferrantello-Scott Cortright-Lisa Miller-Lonnie Smith & Andrew Lorenc who continue to build their own business while allowing me to supervise

My recommended  providers including attorneys, mortgage brokers, lenders, banks, home inspectors, title companies, plumbers, electricians, surveyors, chimney sweeps, wood suppliers, general contractors, builders, pest control specialists, and more

My attorney’s legal assistants at law firms we do business with

Realtors®, The National Association of Realtors®, The New York State Association of Realtors®, The Sullivan County Multiple Listing Service.  Hudson Gateway MLS, Hudson Gateway Association of Realtors®, and many more

In short, were it not for a wide ranging cast of supportive individuals, circumstances, and timing, my gratitude would have no meaning.  Thanks to all and everything that has contributed to my development, well being, and perspective.

Headed for Another Housing Bust?

‘Rapid Price Increases Will Not Last Forever’

The current growth in home prices is echoing the lead-up to the recession. Is history repeating itself?

The answer is likely not, according to a recently released® report. Building is lacking in many markets—one hallmark 10 years ago was over-construction—and credit standards are more stringent, says Danielle Hale, chief economist of

 “As we compare today’s market dynamics to those of a decade ago, it’s important to remember rising prices didn’t cause the housing crash,” Hale says. “It was rising prices stoked by subprime and low documentation mortgages, as well as people looking for short-term gains—versus today’s truer market vitality—that created the environment for the crash.”

In 2016, home prices (the national median home sales price) were 2 percent higher than they were in 2006, the report reveals. Pre-recession prices have returned in 31 of the 50 largest metropolitan areas.

In contrast with 2006, however, are today’s credit conditions. Currently, the median FICO score for a mortgage is 734; the median in 2006 was 700.

 Builds and flips are also different from 2006—starkly. The credit environment, among other factors, is keeping a lid on unfettered flipping and over-construction. In 2006, one household formation generally equaled 1.4 single-family housing starts; in 2016, that number shrank to 0.7 single-family starts. Flips accounted for 5 percent of sales in 2016; in 2006, they comprised 8.6 percent.

“Lending standards are critical to the health of the market,” says Hale. “Unlike today, the boom’s under-regulated lending environment allowed borrowing beyond repayable amounts and atypical mortgage products, which pushed up home prices without the backing of income and equity.”

Additionally, economic indicators point elsewhere. Employment was healthy then and is now, but inventory is limited more today—at a 20-year low. Presently, the average months supply is 4.2; in 2007, the average months supply was 6.4.

 “The healthy economy is creating more jobs and households, but not giving these people enough places to live,” Hale says. “Rapid price increases will not last forever. We expect a gradual tapering as buyers are priced out of the market—not a market correction, but an easing of demand and price growth as renting or adding roommates becomes a more affordable alternative.”

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Suzanne De Vita is RISMedia’s online news editor. Email her your real estate news ideas at

10 Ways to Avoid ID Theft

Hiding your cash under the mattress used to work when we were a cash driven culture.  Now that we’re all on line for almost every conceivable service and product, it’s imperative to protect yourself.  Large scale hacking of personal and private information will only increase.  View the video and implement these strategies to mitigate some dangers to your on line information.

What to Ask a Mortgage Lender before You Sign Anything

Looking at homes for sale can be the fun part of buying a house. The real work comes when you’re picking a mortgage lender that can give you the best loan for your circumstances.

After detailing your income, expenses, down payment and a monthly mortgage you can afford, a lender will run a credit check and should be able to tell you the best options for the interest rate and loan product.

Here are some questions to ask as you comparison shop for a lender:

What’s the interest rate?

This will be based on your loan and credit score, and determines your monthly payment. The lower the interest rate, the lower the payment. Improving your credit score can help lower the interest rate you qualify for.

Fixed rate or ARM?

Fixed-rate loans have the same interest rate for the life of the loan, from 10 to 30 years. Interest rates on adjustable-rate mortgages, or ARMs, change after an initial period, such as a year, and then at regular intervals.

Ask how often an ARM rate will change, the index its tied to, and what the cap is on the interest rate during one period and the life of the loan. Make sure you can afford the higher rate. An ARM will have a lower interest rate than a fixed-rate loan, and can be a good idea if you’re not planning on living in the home for long.

How much is the monthly mortgage?

Answering the first two questions will get you to this answer. It’s a number you should already have in mind before looking for a house, and should be an amount you can afford.

Be sure to include other monthly costs, including insurance, taxes and, if required, private mortgage insurance, or PMI. This insurance is often needed if you don’t have a 20 percent down payment and is meant to protect the mortgage company if you default on the loan.

Any fees?

One-time fees called “points” are due at closing and each point paid will lower your interest rate by 1 percent. Another option is to not pay any closing costs upfront and to have them rolled into the loan in exchange for a higher interest rate.

If you want to lock in the interest rate and points for a certain amount of time in case rates go up, you may have to pay a fee.

Also ask if there are fees for making extra mortgage payments so you can pay off the principal amount early. Some loans don’t have prepayment penalties, but some do.

A lender should be able to help you find the best home loan for your finances. Just be sure not to sign a contract with them until you’re satisfied you’re getting the best deal with the best mortgage lender you can find.

I hope you found this information helpful. Please contact me for all your real estate information needs today!

The Essential Budgeting List for Buying a Home

Is house hunting in your near future?  If so, you’re probably thinking about the neighborhood you want to live in, the number of bedrooms you need and what sort of home you want. But take a step back. None of this matters if you don’t know how much you can truly afford to spend on a home.

You may have a nice down payment saved up, and an idea of costs, but most agents will tell you that first-time buyers generally miss a few things when budgeting for a home.

Before you make a wish list for your future house, here are some expenses you need to consider:

Mortgage: Most buyers need to take out a mortgage. With rates as low as they are, many are even considering a 15-year term rather than the more traditional 30-year term. Use a mortgage calculator or speak to a lender to find out exactly what your monthly rate will be and what you can afford.

Insurance: When buying a home, you also need to insure the value of the home against fire, theft and sometimes even flood damage (insurance for which must be purchased separately). Shop around for the best price and see what it’s going to cost you beforehand. Keep in mind that this cost can go up each year, especially if you file a claim.

If you’re putting down less than 20 percent, you may also have to pay for private mortgage insurance (PMI). This can add a substantial amount to your monthly mortgage payment so consult with a lender on what your most affordable options are.

Taxes: Property taxes can add hundreds of dollars to your monthly mortgage payment and can increase depending on school and town budgets. A home is normally taxed on its assessed value—a fraction amount of the home’s appraised value—so make sure you factor it into the equation.

Utilities: If you’re currently renting an apartment or living with your parents, there’s a good chance you don’t pay much (or anything) for utilities. But when you own a home, you have to factor in the costs of water, gas, electricity and oil each month. Ask sellers for their average monthly costs over the last year so you know how much you should be putting aside.

Yard upkeep: Buying a home with a large yard or garden may be your dream, but be realistic about the amount of time you’ll have to invest in keeping it beautiful. If you’re not up to the time commitment, you’ll have to hire someone to mow, weed and take care of those flowers and shrubs. Check with local yard contractors to see what a service like this will cost in the neighborhood you are considering.

Upgrades: You’re most likely going to want to make some changes in your new home. Make a list of all the projects you are considering—such as adding new hardwood floors, drapes or appliances—and leave room in your monthly budget for some of these costs.

You’ll need to consider all of the above before you begin your home search. Look only at what you can truly afford so you don’t end up house poor.

Expert Insights: Should I Always Get a Permit Before Making Home Improvements?

To save both time and money, some people avoid getting building permits. But most cities require them. Besides ensuring safety during construction­—housing inspectors sometimes stop by to check on the progress of projects at key points—they are also a source of revenue.

Cities charge a fee when a building permit is issued. Also, work done with a building permit can result in an increase in the homeowners’ property taxes because, in general, a home improvement increases the assessed value of the property.

Permits are usually required when any structural work is planned or the basic living space of a home is altered. They generally cover new construction, repairs, alterations, demolition, and additions to a structure. Some jurisdictions require the permit to be posted in a visible spot on the premises while the work is being done.

Besides structural changes, permits also may be needed to cover the installation of foundations for tanks and equipment, as well as the construction or demolition of ducts, sprinkler systems or standpipe systems.

By law, all buildings must have a building permit and a certificate of occupancy before they can be used.

Expert Insights: What Guidelines Should I Use to Find a Contractor?

Use caution. Your home is your most valuable financial asset. You will want someone who completes the job, not botch it up. It is important that you find a competent and reliable contractor who will successfully complete your home improvement project.

Here’s what you can do:

-Avoid the Yellow Pages. Check with family, friends, neighbors and co-workers for recommendations.

-Contact local trade organizations, such as the local Builder Association or Remodelers Council, for the names of members in your area.

-Deal only with licensed contractors. The state licensing board and local Better Business Bureau also can tell you if there are any outstanding complaints against the license holder.

-Interview each contractor, request free estimates, if possible, and ask for recent references. Make sure bids are based on similar project specifications. And do not automatically settle for the lowest bid.

-Ask for proof of worker’s compensation insurance and get policy and insurance company phone numbers so you can verify the information. If the contractor is not covered, you could be liable for any work-related injury that takes place during the project. Also check to make sure the contractor has an umbrella general liability policy.