Real Estate

Reflections on the 4th of July

“Do I not destroy my enemies when I make them my friends?” 
Abraham Lincoln
Moving to the US was an adventure I eagerly anticipated. I had lived in 5 different countries since leaving my beloved homeland of Jamaica. But what appealed to me most about living in the US was really not much different from what appealed to the great grandparents of so many Americans – the pursuit of the “American Dream”. If you work hard, as the saying goes, you can make it anywhere in the US because this is the land of opportunity for all. In many of the places where I have lived, this expectation simply did not exist. 

The recent renewed focus on racial tensions – and the timing of my own discriminatory treatment by a Westchester County real estate agent which occurred so close to July 4th celebrations – have given me reason to reflect intensely on what the American Dream truly means. There is no denying that the American Dream has eluded too many to number – not from a lack of hard work, but so often simply by accident of birth. 

There is a lot of debate as to whether racism is systemic in our society. Irrespective of how one feels about our system as a whole, I can say without hesitation that racism is certainly alive and well in the real estate industry in New York. I commend the high profile efforts of the State of New York and various Realtor® associations to address this curse upon my chosen profession. However, the problem of racism does not belong to any one industry, nor is it even just a “political” issue. It is a human rights problem that has made its way deep into the fabric of certain segments of American society. Imposing sanctions upon those engaged in improper conduct is only a start. 

I still believe in the American Dream. But let us be cautious that in pursuit of the fruits of our American Dream, we do not ignore glaring prejudices all around us, which make our shared dream an illusion for too many fellow Americans. 

Our challenge on this 4th of July holiday weekend: as we celebrate with friends and families, let us make a conscious decision to deeply consider what role we can and should play in confronting in our daily lives all forms of discrimination. 

Wishing you a happy, meaningful 4th of July.

Covid-19 Phase Two Reopening

Communities and families are still having to cope with the effects of Covid-19, but we are nevertheless glad for our Mid-Hudson Valley region to be entering this Phase Two opening starting today June 9.

We look forward to welcoming you to our office in Briarcliff Manor or meeting up with you elsewhere in our beautiful county of Westchester.

We wanted to provide some information on what to expect going forward and to touch base and let you know that as we all expected, things will be done somewhat differently from now on. But we are here to hopefully help to make things a little easier and more comfortable for you.

While, we will be able to once again host you at our office and conduct property showings, New York State has rightly provided mandatory instructions as well as recommended guidelines for how we will be doing so. The National Association of Realtors (“NYSAR”) has provided a bulleted summary of these instructions and guidelines and I’ve included those below:

Mandatory

  • Showings are only allowed in unoccupied or vacant properties (e.g. current owner or lessee is not inside the property).
  • All individuals visiting the property will be required to wear a face covering at all times.
  • Replace or clean and disinfect gloves after every showing (as applicable).
  • Clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces (e.g. handrails, door knobs etc.) before or after every showing.
  • Stagger showings in order to avoid the congregation of people outside and inside properties.
  • Open houses are only allowed with one party inside the property at a time.

Recommended

  • Gloves and shoe-covers are recommended in addition to face coverings.
  • Provide face coverings and gloves to prospective tenants and/or buyers, if necessary.
  • Sellers/lessees are advised to open all necessary doors and cabinets as well as turn on all light switches to ensure minimal touching of surfaces by outside parties.
  • Advise prospective tenants/buyers to only touch essential surfaces (e.g. handrails going up/down stairs if necessary) during their time  in the property.
  • Limit showing of common building amenities in-person (e.g. gym, roof deck, pool).
  • Encourage only one party (e.g. building inspector, home appraiser, prospective tenant/buyer, photographer, stager) to be allowed inside the property at a time.
  • Prospective tenants/buyers are encouraged not to bring young children to property showings, when possible, or leave attended children outside.
  • Limit salespeople / brokers from driving in the same car with prospective tenants / buyers. If this cannot be avoided, face coverings must be worn by everyone in the vehicle and frequently touched areas of the vehicle should be cleaned and disinfected.
  • Conduct remote walkthroughs rather than in-person walkthroughs (e.g. recorded/live video).

It is important to note, that Sellers have the right to ‘mandate’ any of the ‘recommended’ guidelines for real estate agents and potential Buyers entering their properties.”

In addition to the above recommended guidelines, Sellers may also require prospective Buyers to sign a Covid-19 Disclosure form.

For more information or clarification on real estate matters in this Phase Two period, please do not hesitate to contact us.

GIVING THANKS

Happy Thanksgiving

As fairly recent transplant to this country, I’ve come to understand that Thanksgiving means different things to different people.

For some, it’s a time of both tremendous joy (and some degree of stress) as they host large family gatherings. For others it’s a time of great culinary indulgence and one of the few times of the year where overeating will not be frowned upon.  And for even still others, it’s a time to re-visit precisely how the first Thanksgiving should be fairly evaluated. Family members are routinely debating the decades following the Pilgrims’ arrival, when the native tribes found themselves increasingly under siege due to expansion of the newcomers’ land grabs.

As someone celebrating Thanksgiving as a newly adopted holiday celebration, the tradition has afforded me an important opportunity to reflect deeply on the year’s events – and simply to Give Thanks, far and wide.

I am grateful for all of the year’s highs – particularly the presence of treasured people I have interacted with in my daily life. Certainly, there have been both losses and gains, but overall it has been an exciting – even thrilling – year. And as my exhilarating first year of business in New York, I’m also cognizant that the challenges I confronted must also be appreciated, because they presented unique opportunities for growth, both personally and professionally.

So here’s my personal Thanks-Giving – warmly extended to all who ‘came alongside’ me this year – my husband, my close relatives, friends and industry colleagues.

But of course, I have a special Giving of Thanks for my clients, without whom I would not be looking forward to another enjoyable business year in what has certainly become my haven in the Hudson.

I sincerely wish you all the very best of what Thanksgiving represents.