Westchester

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.

BUYERS’ CLOSING COSTS

Everyone has heard of the ‘dreaded’ Closing Costs. Fear enters the process given the perceived – and oftentimes – actual uncertainty as to what these Closing Costs might be, especially for first time buyers. On top of this, the final amount is often disclosed to the buyer only a couple of weeks or even days before the scheduled Closing Date.

With this in mind, I wanted to share a list of typical Closing Costs, and at least equip the reader to ask the right questions of the professionals involved in their transaction:

  1. Interim Interest This is interest accrued on the mortgage for the number of days remaining in the month of the Closing and will typically be ‘credited’ to the seller if these have been prepaid.
  2. Mortgage Tax In Westchester (except for Yonkers), for a 1-2 family dwelling, the rate is 1.3% minus the $30 residential fee exemption. The rate for Yonkers is 1.8%.
  3. Origination Fee This is a fee paid at the time the mortgage application is processed.
  4. Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI) A premium paid by the buyer to insure the lender if the buyer is borrowing more than 80% of the appraised value of the home.
  5. Tax and Insurance Escrows Lender required funds deposited by the buyer into an escrow account, to be used by the bank to pay the taxes and insurance to cover a certain number of months to be determined by the lender. This is not strictly speaking a ‘cost’ of purchasing property, as it is money that would have to be paid by the Buyer in any case, but it is included here because the buyer often has to provide this money at the time of the Closing in advance as one of the conditions to receiving the loan amount.
  6. Appraisal Fee A fee for appraising the value of the property.
  7. Lender’s Attorney’s Fee Even though the buyer typically pays the lender’s attorney for reviewing the title to the property, resolving any title problems, coordinating the closing, typing the bank papers, attending the closing, dispersing the funds at closing, and ensuring the documents are accurate and properly recorded, the Lender’s attorney represents the Lender’s interest not yours. This is typically a flat fee which you will not be able to negotiate but for which you are still responsible.
  8. Buyer’s Attorney’s Fee This is for your own attorney representing your interest with whom you negotiate the fee. This is usually a flat fee negotiated in advance of the representation.
  9. Credit Report Fee A fee for investigating the borrower’s credit rating.
  10. Homeowners Insurance Policy – An insurance policy listing the lender as the loss payee. The buyer is required to bring a paid receipt for this policy to the closing. Cost will vary according to the type of coverage and insurance company.
  11. Mortgage Recording Fee A fee paid to the county clerk’s office for mortgage documentation. These fees are usually fixed and do not vary significantly.
  12. Title Insurance A one-time charge to the buyer for insurance that guarantees compensation if the title should prove to be defective (e.g., if the previous owner had a tax lien on the property). Two types of insurances they provide include (a) the required coverage of the lender and (b) the strongly recommended coverage of the buyer. If purchased together, title insurance companies typically provide a hefty discount, so it makes sense to purchase both together. Title insurance premiums also not vary significantly from company to company given that they are strictly regulated by the State.

A few days prior to Closing, your lender will provide you with a draft of what is called a Closing Disclosure (or “CD” for short) for your review. This document sets out all your closing costs. You may receive additional drafts of the CD with adjusted costs until a final version is reached. The above, although not an exhaustive list, are most of the important costs which are included on this CD and may vary according to total purchase price of the property or the mortgage amount.

While, you may not know the final Closing Cost figure until quite late in the process, you may be able to at least establish the categories of Closing Costs that will apply to your transaction, and this might be enough to ease some of the anxiety.