Finding a home in New York City is difficult. Unless, you’ve ingratiated yourself into the market; it’s even difficult for new investors to find a piece of the market that pays a profit.
Wherever possible, the trick is to find those “hidden morsels.” Professional NYC broker, Edward E. Longley of The Hollingsworth Group, has a few tips for finding those rare gems that every home buyer and investor desires.
The most important factor is connection. It’s not just handing over your card when you view a condo or meet an architect. You need to network like it’s your job and develop those connections over time. Ed suggests getting “to know people that work around new developments.” Whether that’s developers, builders, investors, real estate lawyers, landlords, designers or other brokers, you can only expect the hidden elements to emerge when you know people – and they know you. “Over the years I have maintained relationships with these kinds of people and consequently they are always calling to tell me about great deal. For example, one investor always calls to tell me about his clients who own properties in Manhattan because understands that I know a lot of foreign investors who will pay all cash. On the other hand, I have relationships with certain developers who sometime release off market units to my clients. Or they will let me know advance when they may raise prices in the bldg. Because I have worked with that developer and sold his apartments bin the past, there is a level of trust.”
Once you’ve developed a level of connection and trust, the developers might just release units they were previously holding back. “If you know to position yourself this way,” says Longley, you might just get a deal on upper levels or raw units before a developer is truly ready to release these homes.
However useful networking is, it’s not the end of the story. Longley states, “I find out what everything is selling for and why.” Some buildings find themselves in turmoil, either they’ve had lawsuits and legal problems or there is a structural issue that must be addressed. With your finger on the pulse, you’ll know when a building is turning around. And that’s the precise moment to take a look. 130 Barrow (lawsuit against an owner who was not paying maintenance on number of his apts, plus they have now renovated the bldg. and have added a gym and a roof deck), 116 West 22(sponsor/developer would not fix various problems) and 179 Ludlow(various developers had trouble dealing with all kinds of issues so the bldg. was dormant for a number of years) are examples of buildings that had problems in the past, but have since had a dramatic turnaround. They are now great places to live. And these bldg. have a great chance to go up in value because of because of this.
If you can hang on for off-peak periods, you’ll get a deal with all the elements of a hidden morsel, even if a property is technically listed on the market. When a property hits the market on the weekend before Christmas or around the Fourth of July (when New Yorkers flock to The Hamptons), you’ll be able to get in early and maintain pressure. “If you’re there the whole time,” Longley claims, “even when you’re an unknown, the sellers will trust you much more than fly-by-night offers – even if more money is on the table.”
A unit with a poor showing isn’t technically a hidden one either. But, if there are four pictures and only a small amount of information, you might be looking at a seller that needs to move their property quickly and doesn’t fully understand how to do it. A condo or building won’t garner a lot of interest if it’s not well-represented and you can swoop in for that deal, especially if you’re holding cash.
But, the most important tip is always to work with a serious broker that knows the market and the players in it. Unless you have the energy to commit to the NYC property market, you’ll battle too. And, perhaps surprisingly, a broker can always assist you with the best price. There’s a hidden element to every deal, and if you have the right broker, you’ll be able to manipulate element to fit your needs.