Daily Archives: January 21, 2013

Luxury homes: Buyers say bottom has passed | Armonk Homes

Semi-retired hotel executive Howard Friedman and his wife, Connie, paid nearly $1 million for a three-story townhome in downtown Boca Raton. They don’t have an ocean view, but they love the urban setting that keeps them close to the city’s nightlife.

“We have maybe 50 bars and restaurants within walking distance,” Friedman, 57, said of his new digs in the 200 East development along Palmetto Park Road. “We felt that this environment was very, very attractive.”

A resurgence of sales of high-end homes and condominiums is helping South Florida’s housing market recover from the six-year downturn.

During the bust, luxury properties valued at $750,000 and above didn’t fare any better than more modestly priced homes. In some cases, it was worse.

Sellers waited months, sometimes longer than a year, slashing prices time and again with no takers. Even with the chance to buy trophy homes on the water or in gated communities at 50 cents on the dollar, prospective buyers feared the falling market.

“Back then it was awful,” remembers David Serle, broker for RE/MAX Services in Boca Raton. “Sellers really had to change their mindset.”

But now most buyers believe the bottom has passed, brokers say. The 200 East project sold nine units in nine weeks for $7 million. The condo-townhome community is roughly 90 percent full, said John Poletto, principal at Nestler Poletto Sotheby’s International Realty in Boca.

Higher price ranges also are doing well.

Broward County last year posted 464 sales of homes and condos valued at $1 million or more – the third consecutive annual increase and a 51 percent jump since 2009, according to an analysis of property records by Focus Real Estate Advisors in Coral Gables.

The 2012 sales volume in Broward hit $768 million, up 47 percent from 2009.

Palm Beach County last year had 791 sales of $1 million-plus properties, down slightly from the year before but still 33 percent higher than in 2009, the Focus data show.

Miami-Dade County has by far the biggest share of the region’s luxury market because of an abundance of foreign investors and ultra high-end condos in downtown Miami and along the coast.

Across South Florida, the high-end market has rebounded with the help of investors buying up nearly all of the excess condos that were built during the housing boom.

“The absorption of the overhang of inventory opened the opportunity for new construction to enter the marketplace,” said Philip J. Spiegelman, principal of International Sales Group.

Developers have announced or started building 99 condo towers featuring nearly 14,500 units in the tri-county region, mostly in Miami-Dade, according to CondoVultures.com, a Bal Harbour-based consulting firm.

One of the first announced projects in the past two years was Apogee Beach, a 49-unit Hollywood condo where prices start at more than $1 million. The development by Jorge Perez is sold out and expected to open later this year.

New construction remains soft in Palm Beach County because it doesn’t have as big of an economic base as the two counties to the south, said Craig Werley, president of Focus Real Estate.

Paulette Koch, an agent with Corcoran Group Real Estate, said a shortage of homes for sale is a problem on the island of Palm Beach just as it is in other parts of the county.

Koch expects the luxury market to continuing stabilizing, albeit slowly.

“We are not going to see enormous (price) gains over the next several years,” she said. “But people have gained confidence in the marketplace.”

Katonah NY Area 2012 High Sold Price Report | RobReportBlog

2012 High Sold Price

$9,300,000.00 Armonk

$2,575,000.00 Chappaqua

$2,872,500.00 Pound Ridge

$2,600,000.00 North Salem

$4,750,000.00 Bedford NY

$1,557,000.00 South Salem

$3,995,000.00 Bedford Hills

$3,950,000.00 Mount Kisco

$4,000,000.00 Katonah

Why Social Media Isn’t Working For You (And How To Make It Work) | Bedford Corners Realtor

Why Social Media Isn’t Working For You (And How To Make It Work)

Social Media Marketing

A lot of business owners are frustrated with the term “social media” because people throw it around like it’s super-easy to get started, and when they do try it, they don’t get any result.

The real reason why people “fail” with social media is that they do not really understand what it is, and how to tailor their approach based on that.

This article is an attempt (hopefully a successful one!) to clear the confusion and put you on the right track.

The Importance of Social Media

We wouldn’t say that social media is crucial to a business’ success, but we strongly believe that it is important, and not only because everyone is doing it.

A strong social presence is slowly (but consistently) becoming like mobile phones. In the past, many people tried to resist it, saying that they have always been able to get away without having one, and that it’s not going to change anytime soon. Sure, people can probably survive without having a cellphone, but it’s kind of hard in today’s world, isn’t it?

A social presence is the same. It won’t make or break your business (for now), but it can definitely make things easier, and the earlier you adopt social media as part of your marketing strategies, the earlier you can take advantage of its benefits (people who started using cellphones early are now using smartphones with email, camera and productivity apps, while those who are just starting to use it are still stuck with the basic “calling and texting” capabilities).

Don’t Use Social Media to Make People “Buy Now”

Have a bunch of “Buy Now” posts on your Facebook page, and you will be rewarded with absolutely no sales.

Social media should NOT be used as a direct selling tool. Instead, it should be used as a way to build trust.

How? By showing that you are a real person or business, and that you care about your customers. For example if someone is having an issue about your product, you can share the solution right on the social media page solving it. But what if no one is having any issue? Then you will want to share tips and tricks (within the niche, but independent of your product); for example if you sell a lawn mower, you can share gardening tips that have nothing to do with lawn mowing. This always encourages comments, likes and shares. And that gets other people to join in the conversation (you got to love social).

Social traffic is rapid traffic. It doesn’t like to take too long to read or realize things. Just quickly skim. Quickly press like. Quickly comment. And then move on. Buying stuff is really out of place.

Don’t Use Social Media to Gain More Visitors

Actually, you should. But don’t just make a post and expect it to get a 1000s shares and clicks on its own.

People need a reason to do things. What’s in there for them to click or to share?

People will click if what you post can solve a problem they have, and they will share if what you post is of value. It’s not your tweet or post that will drive traffic; it’s what you write in them.

A well thought out tweet will definitely bring in more traffic than 10 quickly whipped up ones.

Don’t Think That Social Media is a Revolution

Social media is not the NEW way of marketing. It’s just another way of marketing. It’s more of an evolution than a revolution. It hasn’t changed the way things are done; it’s simply another way.

Giving up all your other marketing efforts for just social media is not the way to go. You don’t see big companies stopping to have their names on billboards just because they have a Facebook page, do you?

Instead, social media should be used in conjunction with other types of marketing. A good example of this would be if you have a nice video you uploaded on YouTube to siphon the traffic on there, you can also share it on your social media page.

The Point of it All

Social media is just a platform. It’s not a magic land where just posting random things will get you a horde of traffic or sales.

Once you “get it”, you will start using it for what it was meant for; interaction, feedback and trust. These 3 will take care of the sales later on.

10 Secrets of Professional Writers Every Blogger Should Know | Waccabuc Realtor

We all know good writing when we see it and we cringe when we see terrible writing.  The worst thing is that the harder people try to write well, the worse their writing usually becomes.10 Secrets of Professional Writers Every Blogger Should Know

Here are 10 secrets of professional writers are guaranteed to improve your writing.

1. Avoid clichés

But you know that, don’t you? And yet clichés are more systemic and invasive then people imagine. A cliché is any idea or expression that has lost its force through overuse, to the point where it becomes meaningless and drab.

Here are some examples that I have found in recent blogs:

  • In this day and age
  • Never a dull moment
  • Given the green light
  • Rose to great heights
  • Calm before the storm

The problem, and the attraction, with clichés is that they seem to say exactly what we want to say, so it is tempting to hang on to these tried and true expressions.

And yet, they will deaden your prose, make readers mentally sign off and expose you as an amateur.  Everytime.

So avoid overused sayings (yes, I know, like the plague).

2. Write like you speak

Use a conversational tone.  Really. And you don’t have to use complete sentences either.

Think of it this way; if you wouldn’t say it a casual conversation, think twice before you write it.  A blog is a friendly chat that will inform and entertain your audience. It is not a lecture, an academic thesis or the opportunity to harangue your readers from your soapbox.

3. Talk to your reader like a friend

In real life you would use words like  “you” and “I” so use them in your blog too, just like you would if you were chatting at a barbeque. This lesson comes hard to those who have spent a lot of time in academic writing (in fact most good writing lessons come hard to this group), but good writers love using you and I these days because it speaks directly to the reader.

4. Use anecdotes and case studies

These are little stories are the spice of blog. Facts only go so far and no one wants to read too many of them. People like stories about people and anecdotes humanize your information and make the reader care about the issue.

5. Parallelism

This sounds technical but it just means a balance within sentences that have the same grammatical structure. Before you skip to the next point consider that according to Wikipedia using parallelism improves writing style and readability and makes sentences easier to process.

This is a typical example that I found in a blog.

James likes to play soccer and hockey. He also likes to play a bit of tennis too.”

It reads better to say:

James enjoys soccer, hockey and tennis.

6. Getting down and dirty

Use adjectives sparingly.

When I ask my gen y students how they recognise good writing they often look perplexed (but then again, they tend to look perplexed most of the time). Finally a tentative hand will go up and a brave student will suggest that good writing is “descriptive”.  And by descriptive they mean lots of describing words – or adjectives.

And a lot of people believe this.

But in a harsh kink of fate this leads to exactly the worst kind of writing –the dreaded flowery prose.

Mark Twain said it best.

“When you see an adjective, kill it.”

This is what he actually said in a letter to D.W Bowser, 3/20/1880

I notice that you use plain, simple language, short words and brief sentences. …. When you catch an adjective, kill it. No, I don’t mean utterly, but kill most of them–then the rest will be valuable. They weaken when they are close together. They give strength when they are wide apart. An adjective habit, or a wordy, diffuse, flowery habit, once fastened upon a person, is as hard to get rid of as any other vice.

7. But there’s more

There is another part of speech that will make your readers want to put their head in a vice. The dreaded adverb. In his acclaimed book, On Writing author Stephen King describes “the road to hell as being paved with adverbs”.

Adverbs clutter your sentences and are considered a pitiable substitute for good writing.

To put it simply adverbs prop up poor verbs. Considering that verbs are the V8 engine of your sentence, using weak non-specific ones means you need an adverb to help it along, a bit like a Zimmer frame, and not a good look.

The famous example from every writing text is:

The man walked wearily and laboriously up the hill

The better way to write it is:

The man trudged up the hill

So, for example use the better verb skulked, instead of a phrase like “moved suspiciously”.  Think about using phrases such as “teased mercilessly” when you could use taunted, or “ran quickly” when you could use dashed or sprinted.

You get the point. Use specific verbs and nouns and use adverbs and adjectives sparingly. It sounds technical but with a small amount of thought you will supercharge you sentences and make your writing a pleasure to read.

8. Exclamation marks!

OMG! I know I don’t need to tell you this but exclamation marks can give your writing a gushing, effusive quality!  They are mostly used ironically these days so unless you are an enthusiastic teenager, use with care.

9. Tighten up

Make your writing “tighter” and more powerful by removing the extra words or phrases that don’t contribute to the meaning of your sentence.  Look at your sentence; can you remove some words to make it more succinct? Less is better. Always.

10. Rant or reason?

If you want people to take you seriously develop evidence-based opinions. Why do you think as you do? Try to be able to back up your opinions with facts, research or statistics. Otherwise you may as well just get on a soapbox at the local park and rant.

Take home writing tip:

Think like a wise man, but express yourself like the common people. (W.B.Yeats)

via jeffbullas.com

Changes Underway in Reverse Mortgages | Bedford Real Estate

While reverse mortgages have helped thousands of homeowners, changes are in store as the result of losses suffered by the Federal Housing Administration, which guarantees most reverse mortgages. As a result, reverse mortgages are going to be less generous in years to come. FHA recently announced major changes to the popular loan program.

What is a reverse mortgage? Reverse mortgages allow homeowners over the age of 62 to access the equity in their homes get cash out of their homes. Under a reverse mortgage, instead of making a mortgage payment to reduce your debt, you receive money and increase your debt. Borrowers can take out a large chunk, or they can take a monthly income stream to supplement other sources of retirement income.

You have to qualify and meet certain conditions to use these loans. They are designed for retirement-age people who have the desire and ability to spend down the equity in their homes over the long term. You can choose to receive payments using variety of options including lump-sum, periodic payments, line of credit, or a combination of options.

Like all loans, reverse mortgages have costs. A major cost is the interest you pay on borrowed money, and there may be other costs as well. Most costs can be bundled with the loan so you do not pay out of pocket.

If you’ve been thinking of using a reverse mortgage, you should check out the latest terms and conditions. Programs available in the coming years will almost certainly be different from what you’ve seen in the past.