J.U.N.E. Brighter Report

June 26, 2020

The significance of this image to me is a singular perspective being refracted.



J.U.N.E.: Junior Uprising and Novel Existentialism

Some will associate the above image with Pink Floyd. I copied it from a site speaking on Racism in Esoteric Thought. That is to say how discourse on race color the realm of magic. I am not a Pink Floyd fan, and I am not a magician. The fact that the lens with which most things in this country have been viewed and framed needs to be recalibrated, is something that can be debated, and should be discussed, but to me is inarguable.

To me a triangle is a symbol both of equality (equilateral) and change. The significance of this image to me is a singular perspective being refracted into a multitude of perspecives through the prism of "black" activism as an agent of change.

I'm not going to preach, for two reasons:

1. If you think referencing the rampant inequality in this country is brought to light due to recent events is inappropriate or unprofessional, pls unsubscribe.

2. For most, this will be less of a soapbox sermon and more of a recognition of reality and refusal of avoidance. 

As a realtor, son of immigrants, and black man, I recognize the importance of helping people create intergenerational wealth and establish roots, ideally in a community of their choosing. I understand  America belongs to no one group yet universally represents an opportunity for all who chose to come here. I know that these dreams, wishes, and opportunities are not equally distributed, protected, and nurtured, in fact, I know far too well that these dreams are often deferred, negated, and stifled.

Here's a link to a poem I wrote, for those who are interested. It's been a busy couple of weeks, and that's clearly an understatement.

Protests. Phasing out of Covid lockdown. Firework Armageddon. Juneteenth. Summer Solstice. Father's Day.

So understanding that there are a LOT of things happening outside of  NYC Real Estate.

Let's talk about the market!  (since this is a real estate newsletter)

While I have stuck to the once a month format for the Brighter Report, we have been having bi-weekly office sales meetings to understand both the shifting terrain and orient ourselves of the best way to make productive use of lockdown and mirror some of the social changes espoused by the recent protests.

Trust me.  Only Real Estate.   
Both sales meetings presented data echoing the sentiments contained in the May Brighter Report.

BRIGHTER:  Do not expect 15-20% discounts, they are more likely to be 5-7% price corrections.


MACK:  “If you had to answer, the Covid discount to date has only proven to be 4 percent,” Mack said, offering ballpark figures. “It’s far from the 20-something that some people expect when they walk in.”  said Kelly Kennedy Mack, CEO of Corcoran Sunshine Marketing Group (responsible for roughly 1/3 of new development condo marketing)

Most of Q4 2019 and Q1 2020 was spent advising people that it was a buyer's market.  That waiting for the bottom would lead to missing the bottom and entering the market in a period of increased competition.

Post Covid, we have constrained supply and pent up demand, to the extent that it is a seller's market in pockets.  Those who were waiting for the bottom, who are now waiting for 10-20% discounts will likely be twiddling their thumbs for a while. 

Being aggressive and opportunistic with respect to maximizing your discount, will definitely put you in a preferential position than those offering 10-20% under ask with no rationale.  Being serious about your offer will get you the deal, those who overreach will be overlooked, as there are multiple qualified buyers for most properties.

In conducting research for several active buyers, I have found that their shortlisted properties quickly transition from available to "in contract" or "contract out." 

The early bird buyer is getting the worm, and the "stingy" seller who wants to wait for more clarity before listing, so as to maximize their price, will likely end up listing after a second wave lockdown, or in the inferior November to March Winter Sale Season. 

Sellers don't let that be you.

Sellers with properties currently on market are motivated dealmakers, and their properties are moving.  Buyers, if you have the capital, have job security, and have a desire to stay in NYC, it's your time to make a move. 

And if you want to leave the city, let me know, and I will refer you to a specialist in your target market nationwide.  

Apples and Nutmeg: A Matter of Personal Taste
NYC is the Big Apple. 
Connecticut is the Nutmeg State.

I have been tracking properties in Westchester and Southwest Connecticutt for the past 6-8 months.  4-700k gets you a pretty normal quality house, 700-1.25M gets you 2400+sf  of sexy, and 1.25-2.5M gets you either 6000sf of possibly dated property or a very nice 3-4k sf property.  The thing is, most of my shortlisted properties have sold, and the majority of the activity has come in the past 2 months. 

Mind you, I don't drive, and I don't have 10% down payment sitting in a bank account. This was more of a learning exercise than a data mine, so not all of the 100+ properties I bookmarked that have since sold, still have their data available for me to pull pictures and share details.

Here are a couple.

112 BIRCH HILL ROAD                         5 bed, 3.1 Bathrooms 3923sf    Sold May 15
WESTON, CT 06883                              $700k   

5 CHANNINGVILLE RD                        6 bed, 3.2 bathrooms 5,884sf    Sold April 7th
WAPPINGERS FALLS, NY 12590         $1.05M

26 Chalburn Rd,                                   3 bed 2 bathrooms 3,004 sqft        Sale Pending
Redding, CT 06896                              $1,500,000

I put 4 pics for this one because I really loved it, but lacked the right Powerball numbers to make a Mid Century Modern dream designed by John Johansen my new home in the 12 days it was on the market !!! 

Oh yeah, I think the offer came in within the first week, DOM clock includes contract pending period.
Do I recommend leaving NYC?  That is an intensely personal decision that only you can answer.  I do know that you will get more bang for your buck and if you are working remotely, it may be worth considering.  You can always get into the city for larger social engagements, and there will always be a handful of restaurants worth your while in most towns in the tri-state.

Also, if you think about who would consider purchasing 2-5 bedroom homes in the suburbs, they will likely be selling their NYC residences this summer.  Whether they return in 6-18 months will be content for another day.

Charts, Figures, Trends and Analysis: MYTHBUSTING
I will always avoid talking heads that get paid for their opinion.  Statisticians, however, are a completely different type of media.  This chart shows that there is a natural ebb and flow to residents opting to leave a city.  The red peak coincides with the height of Covid stay at home orders.  The blue peaks represent those Americans who relocated without the pressure of a Pandemic.  As you can see the lockdown may have compressed the 2019 curve, but is trending down at present.

Takeaway:  Yes some people are leaving the city, but there won't be coyotes wandering the forlorn Flatiron district anytime soon.  People always leave, there is no mass exodus, the peaks of the chart are less than 2.75% of sample population.   

Also from WSJ:

NYC has long been a -webkit-center of finance, but has emerged as a hotspot for tech and new media.  Google, Facebook, Amazon*, and countless other companies with a non WeWork (rip) footprint stand as proof of this fact.  This snippet speaks to the fact that that new talent pool doesn't want to work remotely.  15 out of 3000 employees decided to work remotely or 0.5% when given the option.

Whether nightlfie, hospitality and offline dating will return as robust mainstays of the social fabric of NYC, these young professionals do not want to and have never wanted to work remotely from the suburbs or lesser 18 hour cities, as a first choice. 

They come to NYC to be around their peers, highly driven and motivated, to make their mark, and to take a bite out of the Big Apple.  Should they fall short, they can always go back to the Nutmeg, Corn, Pine Tree, Prairie or Garden States, but they're gonna give it a go, regardless of how soon Broadway re-opens.


Frozen rents are nothing new.  Increases for Rent Stabilized units are voted on every year by the NYC Rent Guidelines Board.  Common sense says that if rents were frozen in 2015 and 2016, then they would be frozen for a Pandemic resulting in widespread unemployment.  Again, for rent stabilized units only.  

The RGB vote, however, is often used as a comparative metric for fair market rents. While there is no stipulated adherence for those units, the RGB vote sends the message that people are hurting and it's not the time to protect landlord profits.

OOPS Race and Politics:
Leah Goodridge, a supervising attorney with the Housing Project at Mobilization for Justice and one of the board’s tenant representatives, said while she doesn’t doubt that landlords are hurting from the pandemic, “one person’s business venture” shouldn’t be compared to tenants’ “literal survival.” She said that as the only African American member of the board, she was concerned about the silence around the pain expressed through protests across the country, while the board put too much emphasis on the “pain of landlords losing money” and not on hardships faced by minority tenants.


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.

Here's a link to my last newsletter.
Untli next time, Live BRIGHTER! 


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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