An Ironic Twist

6 08 2011

For Sale By Owner’ founder sells his home… using a real estate broker

By David Gardner

Colby Sambrotto, who founded a website for DIY-real estate, just sold his Chelsea apartment for $2.15million

The founder of a website helping people to sell their own homes has found a buyer for his own apartment – with the help of a traditional real estate broker. creator Colby Sambrotto even paid the standard 6% commission after selling his two-bedroom New York condo for $2.15 million.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Mr Sambrotto spent six months trying to sell the apartment in trendy Chelsea through online listings and classified adverts.

But the DIY home selling guru eventually decided to turn the sale over to a professional.

Not only did broker Jesse Buckler set the price $150,000 higher than the  original asking price, he went on to lure the elusive buyer Mr Sambrotto’s self-help methods had failed to attract.

The Journal said the 2,000-square-foot apartment at The Lion’s Head building near Sixth Avenue is now under contract.

The spartment in question: Colby Sambrotto, founder of 'For Sale by Owner' sold his Lion's Head Building home via a real estate broker The apartment in question: Colby Sambrotto, founder of ‘For Sale by Owner’ sold his Lion’s Head Building home via a real estate broker
Practice what you preach? Mr Sambrotto couldn't sell his house by himself - despite making a fortune by advocating for the methodPractice what you preach? Mr Sambrotto couldn’t sell his house by himself – despite making a fortune by advocating for the method

Mr Buckler claimed the owner wasn’t asking enough for the apartment and was consequently attracting the right buyers.

Broker Jesse Buckler encouraged Mr Sambrotto to increase the asking price of the apartment as a sales strategyBroker Jesse Buckler encouraged Mr Sambrotto to increase the asking price of the apartment as a sales strategy

‘At first he wouldn’t let me increase the price,’ said Mr. Buckler. ‘I told him I know what I am doing—the market is picking up.’

Mr Sambrotto bought the apartment for $2 million in 2007, a year after he sold his website at the height of the real estate boom.

He told the Journal that he still believed in owner sales and discounted commissions, but added: ‘The apartment market in Manhattan was tightly controlled by agents.’

‘So many buyers don’t even bother to do a search online.’

Undeterred, he is now planning to launch a new sale by owner website, called

Fans of the DIY method point to past successes, even in broker-controlled Manhattan.

Edgar Bronfman Jr., chief executive of the Warner Music Group, sold an East 64th Street town house four years ago for $50 million without paying any commission.

Last month, a 69th Street town house was sold by its owner for $48 million.


Aggressive Down Payment Requirements Being Considered for Mortgages

3 08 2011

As measures are being taken to correct and stabilize the distressed housing market, Federal regulators are proposing a new qualified residential mortgage (QRM) rule that would greatly impact the qualifying power of prospective home buyers.  The new rule proposes to impose a minimum 20 percent down payment, rigid debt-to-income ratio requirements and strict credit standards in an effort to restrict mortgage loans to “qualified” homebuyers.  The National Association of Realtors (NAR) has asserted that this rule would harm the economy and deny millions of Americans access to secure, low-cost mortgages.

This proposed definition of qualified residential mortgages (QRM) would impose higher interest rates and fees on mortgages that are consider non-QRM.  NAR states that this will lead to making home ownership more expensive or unattainable for many prospective home owners.  For this reason, NAR has urged regulators to withdraw the proposed risk retention rule and consider alternative options.  NAR submitted a comment letter to regulators offering a host of suggestions.  Since non-QRM loans generally consist of higher mortgage rates and fees, NAR recommends that regulators define QRM as including secure mortgages, with sound underwriting and complete documentation of income and assets, and require risk retention only for mortgages with risky product features such as teaser rates and balloon payments, or with weak underwriting.

“As the leading advocate for home ownership, NAR firmly believes Congress intended to create a broad QRM exemption—strong evidence shows that responsible lending standards and ensuring a borrower’s ability to repay have the greatest impact on reducing lender risk,” said NAR President Ron Phipps. “The proposed rule should be withdrawn, revised and republished for public comment. If not, then millions of hard-working, creditworthy consumers will not be able to achieve their dreams of owning a home.”

NAR opposes the proposed 20 percent minimum down payment rule, asserting that it ignores evidence that responsible lending standards and assuring that a borrower is qualified to repay the loan have the most decisive impact on reducing lender risk.  As a comparison they reference the low foreclosure rates among Federal Housing Administration and Veterans Administration loans, which offer the lowest down payment requirements and maintain relatively low default rates, to further reiterate that safe lending can be established through sound underwriting and documentation rather than high down payments.

If the proposed rule were to be approved, NAR estimates that it would take more than a decade for a family with a median income to save enough money to meet the 20 percent down payment requirement.  Even at a 10 percent down payment requirement, it would take a family more than eight years to save enough money.  This could severely impact the buying power of minority and first-time home buyers.

Overall there is widespread opposition to the regulators’ proposed QRM rule.  Banking, housing and consumer advocacy groups have joined forces to create the “Coalition for Sensible Housing Policy”, which includes 46 organizations and is focused on drawing attention to the proposed regulation.

If you feel strongly that this new rule could negatively impact the economy, please write a letter to your Congressional representative.

To Buy or To Rent?

12 05 2011

As home prices fall and rents rise, home buyers are finding themselves in the position of having a few more options. In nearly 4 out of 5 major US cities, it’s less expensive to buy a home than to rent. According to online real estate resource Trulia, that is up from 72 percent of cities last quarter.  Could we be seeing a shift in purchasing power?

The housing market has taken a tragic beating over the last few years and this has prompted a shift from buying to renting. Although, the housing market could still see an influx of foreclosures, this potentially presents unique buying opportunities for those who are trying to decide whether they should buy or rent a home. After all, housing prices haven’t been this low since the 1970s and the last time we saw these low mortgage interest rates was in 1972. These factors could significantly increase affordability for a growing number of prospective home buyers.

Despite prevailing skepticism, the housing market is showing signs of healthy recovery and positive change is on the horizon. In March 2010 the home sales index was up 5.1 percent, as more Americans signed contracts to purchase homes, according to the National Association of Realtors. This could be a signal that more house hunters are feeling confident in snatching up those bargains.

“As we head into the summer buying season, those looking to buy a home should be encouraged by improvements in the market and feel optimistic about their chances of finding an affordable home, much more so than in previous years, “ said Ken Shuman, head of communications at Trulia, in a press release.

Consider a few of these factors – if you have a good employment history with a steady income, have the cash reserves or options to provide a down payment (3.5% – 20% of the purchase price), and you are current on all debts, there may never be a better time to purchase a home.  Renting provides short term relief, but truthfully you are paying for someone else’s mortgage when you could be building your own investment.  In many instances, the monthly cost of renting may even exceed a typical mortgage payment.

Do yourself a favor and investigate your options.  The American Dream of homeownership can be yours too.

Son of “The Raging Bull”

16 03 2007

Who knew that realtors and movie stars were strange bedfellows?  Well, one realtor is at least.  It helps that his pops is a movie master.  If you see a listing by Raphael DeNiro, you better bet he is going to “do what he can” to “get the deal done” (If you’s know’s what I’m sayin’).

I’m sure by now you know that young Rafael is the son of “Bobby D”, Robert DeNiro.  30 year old Rafael tried the entertainment biz, but instead decided to try his grandparents profession.  Grandma & Grandpa were heavily involved in SoHo real estate.

His Uncle Jack is an agent in South Florida, and has several offices in New York.  Rafael took a real estate license course at NYU, and now has had clients as famous as Naomi Campbell and other celebrities.

 So don’t be surprised if you hear a realtor say, “You talkin to me?” 

Robert DeNiro, Taxi Driver