Haute Residence recently chatted with Ilan Bracha, chairman of Keller Williams NYC and founder of Bracha New York. Having completed well over $2 billion in transactions—and built an incredible international network of clients whose asset portfolios amount to over $10 billion—the former Israeli soldier is arguably one of the most successful professionals in the Big Apple.
Below, Bracha dishes tips on selling a home, discusses the current status of New York City’s real estate market, and divulges how he went from being a commander in the army to a real estate broker in one of the greatest cities in the world.
Briefly describe your background, and how you came to be a real estate broker in New York City. Was it always your dream?
Wanting to see the world, I moved from Tel Aviv to New York in 1996 [after serving in the Israeli army]. I was 21 years old at the time and only had two thousand dollars in my pocket. I originally planned to only stay a month, but I fell in love with this city.
I was working at a moving company when I met real estate broker Lewis Kaye, [who was in the process of] moving his real estate office. He thought I had the right personality to be successful as an agent and gave me my first start in real estate at his brokerage, MLBKaye International Realty. I quickly realized that real estate was my passion and I haven’t looked back since.
What is the first order of business a seller must take care of when prepping a home for sale?
Price it right! Yes, professional photos, stagers, and virtual tours are all wonderful, but at the end of the day, it all comes down to price. I recently sold a loft in Soho for $300,000 over ask because we priced it competitively and aggressively, and sought out the right buyers who were attracted to the value of the deal in order to create an effective bidding war.
Name a mistake people looking to sell their properties often make.
Owners don’t price their properties to sell and they end up languishing on the market. In today’s market, it’s quite likely the first round of offers will produce your eventual buyer. After a few rounds of bidding are done to create the highest best and final offers, one’s apartment will go into contract very quickly because the seller has the leverage to make the buyer sign or they could potential lose the apartment to the next offer in line. By employing this strategy, it minimizes the number of showings needed in the property and produces the desired result in record time. In this market, buyers react to frenzy. Many have lost out on multiple bids and understand to act very aggressively and swiftly.
What is the best room for sellers to renovate if they wish to significantly boost their properties’ asking prices?
Don’t waste your precious time or money on renovations. Price it to sell and, with the right agent negotiating and representing you, it will end up closing for the price you want, perhaps even more.
What types of luxury properties are currently the most popular in the NYC market? How is the market’s pulse in comparison how it was a few years ago?
The new development market—along with luxury condos and co-ops—is currently stealing the spotlight and is in high demand in New York City. The new normal is the $2 million one-bedroom apartment or the $20 million four-bedroom depending on the deep pocketed needs of today’s buyer. Homes offering larger floor plans, views, and a full offering of amenities and services lead the pack in terms of buyer interest.
The residential real estate market in Manhattan is certainly improving and active, with prices increasing at a steady rate. The luxury new development market is leap-frogging the rest of the pack with prices per-square-foot exceeding $3,000 and $4,000 in neighborhoods, besides Central Park South. The Meatpacking District, Park Avenue South, TriBeCa and even the Financial District are starting to see these numbers, and buyers are hardly batting an eye. The median sale price increased 15 percent during the second quarter of 2014 compared to the same quarter last year, and the median days a property was on the market decreased approximately 13 percent during the same time period. With a stronger economy—as well as foreign interests and investment—the demand for New York City residences has risen. The market should continue to remain robust for the rest of the year.