All too often, we hear of people who decide that they are going to set out on their lonesome to find the home of their dreams. Despite it being the biggest purchase of one's life, all too often, the need for a trained, zealous advocate to assist, advise and shepherd the home buyer through the process is seen as unnecessary. A lot of this can be attributed to bad information propagated by individuals who just haven't done their homework or are looking to save pennies on a purchase worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. Here's the truth: in order to have a favorable outcome as a buyer you must work with a buyer's agent, whether it's us or someone else you trust to take up your cause. Here's why (and why a lot of that bad information is so bad):
1. It's free. In New York, sellers typically pay for the agent's commission as part of the transaction costs, so that commission is free to the buyer. The seller has agreed to pay it up front, right when the home is listed. Many buyers think that they can negotiate a lower price by going at it alone. That's simply a misconception.
2. You need an expert for this. Buying a home is a complex process with untold twists and turns. Things that at first seem like a big deal aren't and things that seem like fine points can be deal breakers. Working with a buyer's agent gives you expert counseling on the home buying process at no additional cost.
3. A buyer's agent will get you the right price. A skilled buyer's agent knows the market well and can offer advice on not only current prices, but on what the trends are. He/she can best predict future prices which will help you determine, among other things, the value of your equity. This is critical because that value will tell you whether you are making or losing money at a given sales price.
4. They are trained to negotiate with other agents. You may think you are a great negotiator. In fact, you very well may be be a great negotiator. But, you probably haven't negotiated much with other real estate agents, if at all. You also probably haven't negotiated a purchase of this magnitude. Buyer's agents do just that on a day to day basis. Why risk misreading the market or taking the wrong tact with an agent when you can have a skilled advocate in your corner at no extra cost to you?
5. You need an advocate. Many buyers believe they can negotiate, on their own behalf, with the listing agent. If you deal directly with the listing agent, you have no advocate. The listing agent, even in a dual agency situation, owes a higher duty of loyalty to the seller. Moreover, the listing agent's goal is to maximize the sale price for the seller, not to maximize value for the buyer. Going at it alone puts you at an incredible disadvantage.
6. Access to more listings than the public knows about. Buyer's agents (the true full time ones) are in the market all the time and know of off-market opportunities. This means they are uniquely aware of homes that have not yet been listed publicly or have expired but have a seller still eager to sell.
7. Can create additional opportunities for you. Your agent can also create off-market opportunities by actively prospecting for you. Like a certain type of home in a specific neighborhood? Your agent can call owners of homes fitting the bill that aren't up for sale to see if that homeowner would consider selling knowing they have a ready buyer. Just one example of the many creative ways a buyer's agent can creatively represent your interests.
8. They put you in the best position to get the home you want. Your agent knows other local agents and will help you present yourself as the best prospect. It's important to recognize that a seller wants not only the highest price, but the highest likelihood of being able to ultimately close the deal. A good buyer's agent can help you be the winning bidder even if you aren't the highest bidder, by how they present your offer and position you as the best option to quickly and efficiently close the deal.
9. They can assist in all facets of the process. The home buying process extends far beyond finding the home of your dreams and making an offer. A buyer's agent can recommend trusted people to help in the rest of the process -- lender, insurance agents, lawyers, home inspectors, movers, referral agents (if you are selling first out of state or out of area).
10. Finding one trusted agent saves you a lot of time and heartache. Find one agent you trust and work exclusively with him/her. If you do it yourself (i.e., just work with listing agents or "For Sale By Owner" listings) you have a lot of work cut out for you in scheduling, following up, researching, negotiating and tracking the market. All of this assuming that you have taken the countless hours of time necessary to educate yourself on the process. If you work with multiple agents on a "whoever finds me a house first" basis, you end up getting duplicate information, dealing with good, bad or horrible agents and having to keep everything straight on your own. Either way you have a lot of work cut out for you. And that doesn't even account for the above nine things you are missing out on. Do yourself a favor that you won't regret - work with a single skilled buyer's agent in the search for the home of your dreams.
Every month, we will ask a resident of a Long Island town to give us a "bird's eye view" of their town as a whole: why they chose it, what to look out for when choosing a home there, and most importantly, where to eat. This month, we spoke to a young father of two about raising a family in Dix Hills.
What part of Dix Hills do you live in?
Between exits 51 and 52 (off the Long Island Expressway), off Carlls Straight Path, about a mile from Candlewood Middle School and Otsego Elementary School.
How would you describe Dix Hills in just a few words?
Interesting mix of cultures and beliefs.
When you were looking for a home, where else besides Dix Hills were you looking?
What made you choose Dix Hills and (your section) in particular?
School system, lower taxes, Jewish population.
What advice would you give a first time home buyer in LI?
Go where you feel comfortable and do not settle for the first thing you see.
What is your favorite restaurant in Dix Hills to go out to eat?
What about take-in?
Same answer, La Scala.
What does the family do to relax in Dix Hills?
Swim in the pool, play some tennis at Dix Hills Park or Wolf Hill Park, go to the Walt Whitman Mall.
Biggest perk of living there?
Land and quiet.
Far commute into NYC.
Best piece of advice for someone looking to make Dix Hills their next home?
Check where the school lines are drawn and find out which schools have had the stronger performance. Big difference between high schools and reputation.
Every month, we will ask a resident of a Long Island town to give us a "bird's eye view" of their town as a whole: why they chose it, what to look out for when choosing a home there, and most importantly, where to eat. This month, we spoke to a young father of two about raising a family in Garden City.
What part of Garden City do you live in?
In the Western part of town, relatively close to the boundary with Stewart Manor.
How would you describe it in just a few words?
Our section has a nice mix of more affordable homes that have slightly larger plot sizes then other parts of town. It is very close to schools, has several parks in walking distance, and also access to 2 train lines with the New Hyde Park and Steward Manor train stations.
When you were looking for a home, where else besides Garden City were you looking?
We looked as well in Rockville Centre but we were pretty set on living in Garden City from the beginning of our house search.
What made you choose Garden City and that particular part of Garden City?
Quality of school district and ease of commute into Manhattan were our two main criteria in choosing which town to live in. Both my wife and I commute and work long hours so being within a 10 minute walk to 2 train stations has been great for us.
What advice would you give a first time home buyer in LI?
Take your time and consult with a good broker to help you narrow down the options. The first time purchase is the only time the buyer will be free of the burden of having to sell their own home at the same time. You should attempt to make full use of this freedom.
What is your favorite restaurant in Garden City to go out to eat?
What about take-in?
It’s beyond count how many times I’ve taken out from Mama Theresa’s (Italian) on Jericho Turnpike in Garden City Park or the ubiquitous Adelphi Deli on Nassau Blvd in Garden City. These 2 places effectively feed the Garden City population.
What does the family do to relax in Garden City?
Having 2 little kids means we need outdoor activities which our area is good for. We can walk to 3 different parks, and in the summer we joined the Garden City Pool which we go to most weekends.
Biggest perk of living there?
For us the biggest perk is the quick commute and how kid friendly the neighborhood is.
The taxes are certainly high being an incorporated village, that’s the main strike against living here.
Best piece of advice for someone looking to make Garden City their next home?
Be willing to look at some homes which need a little work but are more cosmetic in nature. There is a generational shift going on where older homeowners are putting their houses on the market, that have good sound structure and just are a little outdated on the surface.
Winter is Coming. And while that may excite the most ardent Game of Thrones follower, it can be a painful proposition for New Yorkers. And on Long Island, a region that boasts beautiful parks and beaches, it may be especially frightening. But, it doesn't have to be. For every beach on the Island there is a slope perfect for sledding; for every outdoor summer activity, a rink. Why lounge in the sun when you can frolic in the snow? Here are some of the things you can do when the ground turns pearly white.
Live on the Vine
Think the Hamptons is just a place for summer lounging? The East End gives you the Live on the Vine music festival which rocks all through February and March. What's better than live music? Live music with some wine. Some of the most exciting names in regional jazz music will jam in some of the most preeminent vineyards on the island. After all, the cold is less cold with blues music. And wine.
In the mood for ice skating, but it's just too cold to handle? Try out The Rinx in Hauppauge with two world class indoor skating rinks located just inside Hidden Pond Park. Enjoy the beautiful wintry surroundings while skating with all the comforts and convenience of a fabulous indoor rinks. Looking for other prime indoor skating locales? The Dix Hills Skating Park offers lessons year round and is the perfect location for skating lessons or your child's next birthday bash. Want to stay indoors with an outdoor feel? Try the Andrew Stergiopoulos Ice Rink in the fabulous Great Neck park.
Christopher Morley park offers one of the best outdoor skating rinks in the region. In fact, News 12 named it the best outdoor rink on Long Island. And if you need to warm up - there is a fire and plenty of hot chocolate. Want to entertain the kids and get in some shopping? The famous Tanger Outlets has a surprising little secret: a rink for the kids and the big kids right adjacent to the fabulous shopping.
OK, Ok so there's a place for you alpine skiers in the mix. But, there are a number of downhill ski clubs which call Long Island their home, including the Garden City Ski Club and the Grumman Ski Club. Long Island also offers great venues for cross country skiers. Our favorite? Montauk Point State Park where you can view the Sound while hitting the (horizontal) slopes.
Take a Cruise
You don't need the Carribean or a boatload of cash (pun intended) to take a winter cruise. The Riverhead Foundation offers winter seal cruises out of Freeport. The whole family will learn a lot about marine life and seal behavior in particular, but warm clothes are needed. The ides of winter, i.e. January, is when the seals are most visible.
Watch Others on the Ice
The Islanders are in the midst of their last season the Island and they look poised to make an exciting playoff run. And if your kids are a bit younger (or are Rangers fans) Disney on Ice hits the Nassau Coliseum in January.
Living on Long Island, where many people have big backyards and their own private swimming pools, it's easy to take for granted the wonderful public parks that your taxes help to build and pay for. If you live in or are thinking about moving to the Merrick/Bellmore/Wantagh area of Nassau County, it would be worth your while to check out the nearby parks, which can provide countless hours of outdoor entertainment for you and your family. Those moving to the area from New York City, who will naturally have a greater appreciation for parks, should take special note.
This huge public park is located in East Meadow, but is just a short drive north on Merrick Avenue from either Bellmore or Merrick. Measuring approximately 930 acres, Eisenhower Park is one of the largest parks in the New York Metropolitan Area and is bigger, in fact, than New York City's Central Park. In addition to having large playgrounds for families with small children, it also features an 18-hole golf course, a mini-golf course, a state-of-the-art indoor swimming facility, picnic areas, athletic trails, dozens of baseball, football and soccer fields (a number of which are lighted for night-time play), tennis courts, a batting cage, the Harry Chapin Lakeside Theatre (which features outdoor concerts and films), and Carltun on the Park -- an exquisite restaurant and catering hall that plays host to countless weddings and other events throughout the year. With all that Eisenhower Park has to offer, the most appropriate question someone can ask about Eisenhower Park is: is there any leisure activity that you can't do there?
Just a few minutes south of Eisenhower Park but also in East Meadow is the Edward J. Speno Memorial Park, better known among locals as just "Speno Park". Speno Park has a real neighborhood feel to it. Nestled right in the middle of a quiet residential neighborhood on the border of North Bellmore, many residents may not even realize it is there until they happen to pass it on East Meadow Avenue. The park features basketball courts and multi-purpose fields, but its real draw (especially for young families) is its playground. The playground has both "big kid" and "little kid" jungle gyms, and despite the fact that it is a favorite among local moms, part of its allure is that it never really feels crowded.
Newbridge Road Park
This South Bellmore mainstay has everything you would want a neighborhood park to have and more. Besides its numerous athletic fields and courts for all forms of ball-play, Newbridge Road Park features a big outdoor pool to keep residents cool in the summer and a full-size ice hockey rink open year-round for use by hockey players and leisure skaters alike. This park also has some great spots for picnicing. Newbridge Road Park is located in South Bellmore just south of Merrick Road and just east of the Merrick border, making it easily accessible to residents of Bellmore, Merrick and Wantagh.
Cedar Creek Park
Located south of Merrick Road and just east of Wantagh Avenue in Seaford, this 259 acre park is equipped for plenty of outdoor activities. For sports fanatics, it's got tennis, handball, paddleball and basketball courts, baseball and softball fields, soccer/football/lacrosse fields, an archery range, and a number of running and biking trails, one of which leads south down through the trees lining the Wantagh Parkway and can be taken all the way down to Jones Beach, with some spectacular views of the open bays and open skies that make the South Shore of Long Island so special all along the way. There is also a dog-run, so pets can get a workout in too! For those with kids, Cedar Creek has a great children's playground that has been named the best on Long Island by the Long Island Press, along with a roller skating rink and a hill for sledding in the winter (yes, the South shore has some hills).
Why Should I Live Here? Location, Location, Location = Rockville Centre, Rockville Centre, Rockville Centre
Every once in a while, we'll ask a Long Island resident to tell you, the home buyer, what there is to love about their town. We call it: Why Should I Llve Here? If you want to tell us about your town, give us a holler. First up, Rockville Centre.
Welcome to Rockville Centre, nestled on the south shore of Long Island, a veritable jewel of a little village tucked away, yet full of delightful surprises. You can select from Colonials, Tudors, Ranches, and Victorians with wrap around porches, surrounded by beautiful gardens and set along established tree lined streets. Five exemplary elementary schools feed into the South Side Middle School and the designated Blue Ribbon School of Excellence, South Side High School. Additionally, the village is home to its own Cathedral, Temples and Churches, Recreation Center, parks and sports fields. Further, those living within the incorporated village can enjoy the advantages of their own village electrical company.
Heading into Manhattan? The Long Island Rail Road can get you into the city on a direct line in 38 minutes and with no traffic you can drive to midtown in 40 minutes. Off to JFK? Count on a 15 minute ride to your terminal. If you are thinking about a beach day, you can lay out your towel on the sand down in Long Beach within 30 minutes. Meeting your friend at the mall? Roosevelt Field will take you 15 minutes as well.
If you can never decide on what to have for dinner then Rockville Centre is the place for you, with every possibility at your doorstep or ready to be delivered to your home by the myriad restaurants. Perhaps a movie and dessert is what you want, a wine bar, or pub? Well, with so many choices you will have fun exploring the many options.
Rockville Centre is a wonderful place to live; did I mention that it is in a fantastic location?
If you are looking to buy a home in Merrick, New York, you really can't go wrong no matter which neighborhood you choose. But, of course, even in the best Long Island towns there are some neighborhoods that out-shine the rest. Hopefully this article will help you find your way to the best places to live in Merrick, no matter what your objective.
If you've ever taken the Babylon line on the Long Island Rail Road and passed through Merrick, you may have wondered what lay beneath that lush canopy of trees situated just to the northeast of the Merrick train station. The answer is the neighborhood known as Merrick Woods. As the name suggests, Merrick Woods is densely populated with high-reaching trees, which create a picturesque streetscape and tons of privacy for area residents. Despite its woodsy feel, Merrick Woods is within walking distance of the Long Island Rail Road and Sunrise Highway, so whether you are going east or west, by rail or by car, you will be on your way very quickly. Home values tend to be higher in this area of town, but few who purchase in Merrick Woods regret paying more for the beauty and convenience that it comes with.
If you were traveling east on Sunrise Highway and swung a right turn just before the green tree-line of the Meroke Preserve, you would find yourself in the very distinctive and cool-looking neighborhood of Gables Estates. Many of the homes here were designed in a Spanish-stucco, California style, which, coupled with its location in the leafy shade of the Meroke Preserve, gives off a Hollywood Hills vibe (minus the hills, of course). Indeed the area was developed in the 1920s with a Hollywood look in mind. Gables Estates is located between Merrick Road and Sunrise Highway, so all of the restaurants and retail stores that Merrick has to offer (and there are many) are a short drive or a walk away. The houses located along the eastern border of this neighborhood have the added "wow-factor" of backyards that run right up against the trees and ponds of the Meroke Preserve, providing those lucky home owners with the type of view that all the rest of us have to move to the country for.
This North Merrick neighborhood is probably less well known to those not native to Merrick, but once you've been there chances are you won't want to leave. Located just south of Jerusalem Avenue and just west of Park Avenue, Wenshaw Park is a haven for families who want their kids to grow up in a close-knit and safe community, with old fashioned street lamps and enough trees and green grass to make you feel as though you really are in a park that just happens to have houses in it. Recently, local builders have bought up a number of adjoining lots to create brand new homes that not only have a ton of square footage, but also have the big backyard to go with it. Unlike in some other areas of Nassau County, the newer, bigger homes have been seemlessly incorporated into the neighborhood, so that you don't get the feeling that a bunch of "McMansions" have just been plopped down out of place. Local businesses like the Park Avenue Deli are the kinds of places where everybody knows your name, adding to the "one big family" feel.
If you are looking for waterfont property, South Merrick has some of the best Long Island has to offer. In particular, the Hewlett Peninsula extends out into the East Bay and has a large swath of coastline with the type of open-bay exposure that home owner dreams are made of. Unlike some other areas on Long Island with waterfront property, South Merrick is not a far-removed location that is difficult to get to. On the contrary, a short trip north will bring you to such major thoroughfares as Merrick Road and Sunrise Highway, and an entrance to the Meadowbrook Parkway is located just outside its western border, putting access to the beaches of the South Shore within easy reach. South Merrick has plenty to offer residents of all generations and walks of life.
With over 400 miles of beach coastline, beautiful natural parks, and thriving nightlife, Long Island is the perfect destination for young families. This region is home to magnificent castles, historic buildings, and mansions. Its beaches are famous all over the world for their long stretches of sand and clean waters. Long Island also features lots of zoos, parks, sports facilities, and shopping outlets.
A growing number of young families have moved to Long Island over the past couple of decades. Areas like New Hyde Park, Long Beach, Oyster Bay, and the Hamptons quickly became the centers of the Island’s social scene. Here are some of the best neighborhoods for young families in Long Island:
Huntington Station is a preferred destination for young families looking to start a new life in Long Island. This community has a total 33,029 residents and 10,067 households. Many families are moving to Huntington Station because it has the highest population of children up to age four in the state. This area is also close to the Northern State, so commuting from here is easy. Additionally, the cost of living is quite low compared to the rest of Long Island.
With miles of sprawling sands and breathtaking views of the ocean, Long Beach attracts thousands of homebuyers every year. This beach community went from being a summer resort to a residential area. Those who live here have access to a large number of parks, schools, gyms, and recreational activities. The Department of Youth and Family Services provides residents with licensed child care, employment, and adventure camps for kids.
Home prices in Patchogue are affordable compared to the rest of Long Island. This community is a great place to live, work, and raise a family. Patchogue boasts hundreds of restaurants and cafes, fitness centers, educational institutions, cultural venues, and historic sites. The low cost of living attracts many young families and first-time homebuyers.
Surrounded by beach and natural parks, Massapequa real estate offers lots of recreational activities for children and young people. It is one of the best neighborhoods for young families on the south shore of Long Island. The community has a total population of 21,685 and covers 10.4 square kilometers. Massapequa features six elementary schools and a several high schools. There are also numerous bars, delis, pubs, and great pizzerias.
Brookville is a small community located in Nassau County. Residents have access to a large number of schools and government services. This place offers the best of both worlds for those who enjoy living in a picturesque village while having quick access to shopping outlets, restaurants, and major highways. There are numerous historic sites and cultural attractions in the area, including the Hillwood Art Museum and the Tilles Center for the Performing Arts.
Many potential homebuyers find the appeal of gated communities hard to resist. There are many benefits to this type of living, but there may also be some pitfalls, as well. Before buyers commit to living in this type of neighborhood, it’s important to review the pros and cons.
Since each of these neighborhoods tends to be a bit different, buyers should take the time to review the many different by-laws and homeowners’ association rules before deciding that they would like to purchase a home in one of these areas.
If buyers are interested in purchasing a home in a gated community in Nassau County, Long Island, they will likely be pleased to find that there is a large selection of them. They range in price and styles, so there is sure to be something to meet every buyer’s needs.
The benefits of a gated community:
- Security. Hands down, one of the biggest benefits of living in an exclusive community is the security. People don’t get to go in and out like they do in other neighborhoods because they have to stop at security and check in. Without clearance from a homeowner, people can’t just get in. This increases the security of the neighborhood and helps to prevent everything from dangers to children to burglaries.
- Exclusivity. Many homeowners want to live in a neighborhood that always looks neat and clean. They want to know that their neighbor isn’t going to build an ugly structure, or park a rotting RV in their driveway. Most gated communities come with homeowners’ associations that prevent this from happening.
- Something for everyone. Builders know that there are different budgets, different buyers and different needs. It is the needs of the buyers that have encouraged builders to create communities that feature homes at different price points and in different styles.
The drawbacks of a gated community:
- Fees. Most gated communities need to be able to pay for the upkeep of the neighborhood and pay for a guarded gate. The salaries of the guards and any other upkeep costs come from the residents in the form of HOA fees. Some can be quite high, so buyers should consider them before purchasing.
- Limiting by-laws. In some neighborhoods, the by-laws are limiting to the residents. Often, homeowners’ associations require that everything from a swing set to a shed be submitted for approval before it is built. It’s important to look carefully at all the by-laws of the homeowners’ association before buying, or buyers could wind up unhappy.
A gated community can offer a safe and secure way of life for many, but there can also be some negatives about living in a neighborhood like this, so buyers should be sure to consider both the pros and cons before choosing to live in this type of area.
Once the decision is made to live in a Nassau County Long Island gated community, buyers will be thrilled to find that they have many options to consider.
Back in December, we took a look at a few of the top school districts on the Island. US News and World Report recently released their rankings for the top schools in New York and, not surprisingly, many Long Island schools made the list. The report looked at 1,165 New York public, private and charter schools, accounting for teacher to student ratios, number of students who advanced to college as well as general math and english proficiency. The results bore little surprise: Long Island is a premier, if not the premier, destination for families looking to give their children a top flight education.
Coming in at Number 2 in the state, and at 22nd overall in the country, was South Side High School in Rockville Centre. South Side is a public school which boasted perfect scores in math proficiency, english proficiency and college readiness. What sets South Side - and many other Long Island public schools apart - is the wide ranging opportunities for the school's students to take their education above and beyond traditional high school expectations both in preparation for a collegiate workload and as an enticement to selective college admissions programs. Students at South Side can avail themselves of numerous Advanced Placement (college-level) and Honors courses as well as International Baccalaureate options. South Side is no stranger to success. In 2011, it was rated the second best High School on Long Island by the Washington Post.
Jericho High School came in at 17th statewide. A public school in the North Shore hamlet of Jericho, the school is another shining example of a successful Advanced Placement program. An astounding 84 percent of the student body avails itself of at least one Advanced Placement course and the exam pass rate is an equally remarkable 69 percent. The carry over is unmistakable. The school recently announced that 20 students were semifinalists for the National Merit Scholarship Program.
Just behind Jericho, at 18th in the state, is Commack High School in Suffolk County's Commack. The school boasts one of the strongest International Baccalaureate programs in the state, with 83 percent of the student body participating in some capacity. It's not just about academics at Commack, however. Its proud to call its own the 2012 National Champion Kickline Team. We don't know what that is, but it's surely the source of much Cougar pride!
Rounding out the top 20 is Locust Valley High School in the North Shore's Locust Valley. The school also has an active International Baccalaureate program with 86 percent of the student body participating. The schools influence extends well past academia, understanding the importance of well-rounded, culturally enlightened student body. As an example, on April 10, the school is hosting a film festival.
All in Long Island offers six of the top school in New York with four of top one hundred schools at the national level. The conclusions to be drawn are stark: leaving aside the beautiful properties, the vast cultural opportunities, the delicious restaurant selection, if you're looking for a community where your children will floursish in both the short term and long, Long Island is the place to settle down.