Brighter Report: Maybemight(Y)

May 22, 2020

Late May typically marks the start of the summer vacation season.


We are still living in largely uncertain times. Many things still remain to be determined, analyzed, managed, and maintained. This month's newsletter, will be less about resources for coping, as hopefully we are getting used to our modified routines, whatever that may mean, and beginning to think about life post Pandemic.
As for me, the first month wasn't so bad, I enjoyed the additional time with my family, and in splitting parenting duties, used my "afternoons off" to dial in to conference calls, indulge in YouTube "fact finding" expeditions, and generally maintain my sanity. Just sharing. This month, however, my mind is shifting from the immediate present to the near future, and the potentialities of a post pandemic world, at least in terms of Real Estate.

For those that think of Astrology as more than an entertaining pastime, you will know that Mercury Retrograde is a time when Mercury, the planet of communication, appears to move backwards on it's own orbit, and is generally considered a bad time to start new ventures, sign contracts, or purchase electronics and other products with many parts that need to "communicate." Mercury Retrograde is also considered an excellent time for self reflection and analysis; a time to sharpen sticks and devise plans for the future, when Mercury turns "direct."

This time away from "normalcy" gives us an opportunity to examine what we consider and accept as normal, and hopefully we will be able to quiet our fear of the future long enough to sit down and begin planning for the future we want to see.


For me, as a realtor, this means getting to my back office tasks, cleaning up my database, setting up systems to better nurture my relationships, serve my clients, and protect the live/work balance that I enjoy while inviting amplified success.

To that end, I would love for those of you who enjoy this newsletter, live in NYC, know people in NYC, or simply know people who rent or purchase housing to shoot me a note letting me know how I can best serve you.

Specifically, I would love to know where you are know and what your goals are, so that I can help you in your path towards new property, whether that is simply a visualization exercise, or a streamlining of search criteria for a new term change of address. 

For those interested in investment or vacation properties, what areas pique your iinterest? For those contemplating relocating to a new city or state, pls let me know so that I can put you in touch with a local realtor in your desired market.

1. A bit more outreach. 

Once I know what you need, I can share resources to help you better inform your decisions, before you even reach the decision making stage. 

Part of my back office work has been the adoption of the new Keller Williams Command system, which will make it easier for me to reach out to you via email and text, while allowing you to acccess more information on your own.

2. A new app. 

Our KW app provides neighborhood insights that can tell you about schools, (which agents cannot), bars and restaurants (through our partnership with Yelp), and, of course, property. and property trends. 

While listing sites provide transparency into what is currently on the market, Zillow/Streeteasy, for example will not connect you to Google Earth and allow you to literally search and tour the area beyond the salient details of a specific property.

3. A new website.

Yes, I spent much of last year working and spending to bolster the back end of my website. Whelp, KW HQ has given us seamless battle tested templates that sync with the app, consumer preferred layouts, and allow agent customization to enhance functionality and user interaction, so... I'm gonna use that one. It's a bit of a learning curve, so bear with me, and check in to see progress.


4. Overall Growth.

I'm not necessarily looking to grow a team or become a $30M producer with 5 transactions a month, but I do want to make sure that the people that are in contact with me are encouraged to benefit from/share my insight and expertise in residential rentals, sales, office leasing, and retail leasing. 

Additionally, as people begin to think about life outside of NYC, whether that means daily commutes on LIRR,/MetroNorth, vacation homes, or full on relocation, I want you to know that I can help you at very least in identifying a strong referral partner for your new adventure.


I am not a doctor/virologist and I will refrain from sharing my personal socio-political opinions in this forum but, with that being said, this is still informed by my personal perspective, so take it with a grain of salt. 

Lest you call me a quack. 
If you click the nightlight, you can find a scholarly article on host morbidity and virus propagation.

Social Distancing slows the spread of COVID down, relieve patient flow for underprepared hospitals and buy time for the development of a viable vaccine, but in and of itself, SD is not a solution to the problem.

The number one hope, in my mind is not herd immunity, or a boom/bust cycle of sick-spike induced lockdowns, but that the virus itself will mutate to become less deadly, allowing it's hosts (us) to live long enough to receive actual care, whatever that may look like.

Ok, that may have sounded both psuedo-scientific and privately political, but the purpose of me presenting that opinion to you is to follow up with predictions about the NYC real estate market, with respect to COVID altered seasonality.

Fact: Right now supply is 69% less than this time last year.
We were coming off of winter, which traditionally has lower seasonal supply, when covid hit, and as a result Jonathan Miller states (click for link) q2 has been "surgically removed" from the year's sale cycle. 

Currently supply is constrained and the ability to act on demand is also stifled by lockdown's effect on mobility for agents and buyers alike. 

Buyers who can still afford to buy, will likely rush to the market in June/July to snatch up any inventory released once lockdown is repealed. This "flood" of expressed buyer demand, resulting from the blockage of deal flow by lockdown, will consolidate much of the activity we would have seen in March, April, May, and June, (120 days) into a 45-60 day period (June/July).

There will necessarily be competition for the constrained supply, and for that reason, among others, there will likely be less negotiability than many buyers would have hoped, yielding more of a 5-7% price correction than a 15-20% pandemic sale.

CNBC is saying 10-20% discounts, but they don't sell houses, they sell media or eyeballs and impressions for advertisers. Prices were already correcting as we were in a buyer's market with multiple negative economic indicators including Brexit, Trade War with China and (then) impending oil war, among other factors.

Brighter Take: don't expect residential property to be steeply discounted in 2020

Unfortunately, with the current state of crisis management, once social distancing regulations are relaxed, we will likely see a rise in virus transmission, potentially leading to another lockdown in early fall. 

Those who have fled COVID or routinely summer outside of the city and telecommute for work are likely to consider extending their temporary home further into Fall, negating their ability to participate in the end of Summer, Early Fall purchasing activity.

The bulk of the action, in my mind, will be motivated by those who want to get the wheels in motion on a purchase before mobility is constrained again as a proven virus management solution. 

These buyers will likely be first time buyers motivated by a life event (marriage, childbirth), or "luxury" buyers looking for more square footage and some outdoor space. 

Some people peg luxury as 2M+ others 4M+, for my purposes, I am speaking of people who are looking for an extra 500-1500sf as a quality of life issue, which necessarily requires a certain level of liquidity.

Buyers who were outbid in the early competitive summer purchasing pool will likely return to the sales forum in early fall, as will those who want to relocate for their children's schools. Those who were waiting for a little bit more clarity (both in terms of the real estate market and COVID crisis management), and those who are determined not to get "trapped" in NYC during the next lockdown.

Numerically that would put a lot of action in the 500-999k and 1.5-2.25M.

While this may seem broad, the 500-999k represents young professionals who are gun-shy with respect to stock market investments and see home ownership as a step up from renting. 

Those with less job security, savings, or dedication to a long term home in NYC may opt to continue to rent rather than invest their security blanket in what could be considered speculation.

1.5-2.25M would be for doorman 2-3 beds, and Brooklyn Brownstones or Floorthrus. These will likely be partners with a 5-7 year exit strategy at a minimum.

"Affordable" spacious housing will win the day.
Building Amenities have largely been restricted or shut down. As the sanitation of high turnover social spaces will be re-examined from co-working spaces to gyms, buyers will likely opt to pay more for private amenities like balconies and backyards rather than common roof decks and pools.

Right, that didn't sound too affordable. 
Pre-War buildings generally have larger units, small to mid-rise condos generally have fewer amenities and more private outdoor space, with the nicest building one click outside of your ideal zone often being considerably cheaper for similar product. 

If we are to spend more time working from home, and less time socializing in public, then affordability will likely become a question of utility as opposed to simple design austerity.

First Time Buyers, now is the time to re-evaluate your purchasing power and determine how any substantive changes to your investment and retirement portfolios have affected your ability to obtain a mortgage within your ideal price range. 

Banks are being more selective with regards to whom they choose to lend, and many of the specialty programs have been paused or eradicated. Additionally, Banks should be your preferred lenders versus Non-Banks like Quicken Loans (for example), as they have more protection against default and can therefore afford to take more risk in lending.

Tables from:The Pandemic is Shrinking the Credit Box
I suggest you read it in it's entirety to gain a better perspective.


Sellers looking to trade up or exit stage left, if you are looking to sell and then buy in this same market, it may make sense to be more flexible on price than time.  

Time. 18-24 months may reveal foreclosures and defaults for financially strapped homeowners and landlords with unemployed tenants who were unfortunately unable to re-enter the workforce, but that potential stat is of more importance to the pure investor versus the end user, owner/occupant. So the "deals" to be had will likely not be in your preferred asset class, don't wait for the bait. 

Time. 6-12 months,

Will likely yield more academic discovery, hopefully better government management and a fair bit of fear based action. Your opportunity, would be to trade up or exit stage left at a discount that is higher than the haircut you take on selling your property. If selling quicker gets you a better shot at a larger apartment sold by a family relocating to the suburbs at a psychologially sourced discount, then why not go for it.

For the owner/occupant 12-24 months should mean less volatility in investment markets, more knowledgeable leadership (despite election distraction), and a general sense of stability as people and markets have fully adjusted to life post-COVID. 

Sounds good, but without the time pressure of a second lockdown, a reactionary flight to the suburbs, or a heightened level of uncertainty about market positioning, the sliver of leverage that you had, in the short term, will likely be gone, and prices most likely will not rebound immediately.

This advice is for sellers looking to cut ties asap to buy larger property in or outside of NYC. If you are not in a rush to sell, or ultimately looking to downsize, then there is no need to accelerate the sale of your property.

The bold buyer will win the race not the discount shopper. With increasing competition, due to a shorter purcahsing period, the buyer whose offer is most appealing, in terms of satisfying sellers in terms of secure financing, minimal contingencies and highest price, as usual. 

Given the continued uncertainty of the duration of the lockdown, constrained supply and the consequentially truncated Spring/Summer Shopping Period, a smart seller will want to get into contract quickly; being able to properly articulate your priorities in terms of pain points and leverage position, will help you win the bid.

Sellers who need to sell will likely be negotiable. Make sure to include a funding contingency in your deal sheet/contract. Message me for more info. A friend reached out last week, so I already have a buyers meditation guide for how to best orient your search, outside of simply gunning for (unlikely) 20% discounts.


If you need to sell, now is the time to list, believe it or not. The volatility of the stock market is in sync with insecure investor confidence. Some will ride the roller coaster, other investors will look to real estate as a safe long term investment. I have charts for ya. MSG ME.

Advances in virtual staging, video tours, and virtual open houses, can limit physical exposure and maximize virtual visibility. If possible, opt for cash buyers, as the gap between the 30 year mortgage rate and the 10 year bond rate have created a risk margin where some banks may choose not to fund at the closing table. #eyeswideopen


Going on Rent Strike may seem like an option, and evictions have been stayed for 3 months, at this time, but after 90 days, you will still owe rent. I'm definitely not telling you what to do here, but if you are unable to pay rent at all, seek assistance with the above listed services. If you are only able to make a partial payment, then let your landlord know. 

Some rent is likely better than no rent, for them, and open communication, albeit humbling, could transform you back from a line item in a balance sheet to a human being. Suggest a number and a term for that number, possibly suggest conversion of security deposit to rent, but make an attempt to realize that your landlord may be up a creek after 90 day mortgage forgiveness expires.

While I am not an attorney or an accountant, I am getting emails from attorneys and accountants, and am happy to share with you on a one to one basis.

I know this should have occupied the lionshare of this newsletter, but many are still in damage assessment mode, and I didn't think it was fair or appropriate to include more pointed guidance, at this time.

Feel free to review my lengthier suggestions in my last Brighter Report.

Thanks for making it all the way down here.
There are properties to be had sub 500k, Brownstones to be bought under 1.5M.
Suburban Mansions for under $1m with less than 300k in cosmetic renovations.
There are also thousands of Keller Williams Agents in the Tri-State Area and beyond.

If I can't personally help you, then I will find an experienced local agent with either the product or service you seek.

Reposting some links and guidelines from my past newsletter below.

Untli next time, Live BRIGHTER! 

Can't really be an adult without it, and without a nation of employed people buying goods and services (housing included) the economy would implode. 

So for those who find themselves with reduced hours, temporarily furloughed, or regrettably let go, the government has several programs in place to help you level things out in the short term, I would bookmark these links, as they will likely be updated 3 months from now. 

Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP)

Rental Assistance

Food Assistance

Programs to Help Pay Bills - Rent, Utilities, Medical Bills, Mortgage, etc.

Tax: Postponed and Deferred

The Treasury and IRS have automatically delayed the federal tax filing date from April 15 to July 15. Income tax payments are also automatically deferred to July 15, without any penalty or interest, and regardless of the amount owed.

If an individual tax filing needs to be extended past July 15, they can do so by submitting Form 4868 through their tax professional, tax software, or the website. Businesses will submit Form 7004 to extend the new deadline.

Unemployment Assistance: State and Federal

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has asked the federal government to provide unemployment assistance to New York’s gig-economy workers, many of whom remain ineligible for those benefits at the state level.

FED: The Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA) program provides unemployment benefits to individuals who have become unemployed as a direct result of a Presidentially declared major disaster.

Eligibility Checker

Disaster Loan Applications

NYC Coronavirus Information

Information on the US Relief Bill due to the Coronavirus

How can I help you?
Buyers: 150k-15M. 
Sellers: 500k-5M. 
Renters: 1800-18k per month.  

Areas Served. 
All Manhattan.
All Brooklyn: accessible by train, 1 fare zones.
Queens: LIC/Astoria, Forest Hills, Jackson Heights
Bronx: accessible by train, 1 fare zones.

Property Types:
Rentals: Doorman, Walkup, Elevator, Loft, Townhouse
Sales: Condo, Coop, Condop, Townhouse/Brownstone
Commercial: Office Leasing, Retail Leasing, Investment Sales

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Brighter Real Estate Group
All rights reserved.

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