Buyer’s Market? Seller’s Market?

Melissa Yardy St. Pete Beach


Buyer’s Market? Seller’s Market?


This seems to be the question I get on a regular basis about Real Estate, specifically “How is the real estate market?” This is a question that in 2009 evoked shutters from the responder who has been a real estate practitioner since very little was good about being in the real estate business. In 2010 we started to notice some improvement and at the end of the 2011 quarter we definitely started to notice a turn around in Pinellas County and the Gulf Beaches.


By the beginning of 2012 we noticed a significant decrease in listing inventory and fewer and fewer short sales and foreclosure were available. Now, seemingly overnight we have a significant shortage of homes from buyers to choose from and multiple offers on properties new on the market. This of course, means that there are suddenly multiple bidders and prices are going up. That’s great news for homeowners and that would typically mean it’s a Sellers Market.


Interestingly enough, and the first time in my 30 plus years in this business, it is also a Buyer’s Market. The housing price index’s show that homes have never been more affordable and with rates below 4% at this time, it is a great time to buy and with all indications buying real estate is a great




New York’s Office Builders Raise Their Online Voices

This article by C.J. Hughes appeared in the online edition of The New York Times. It talks about how some commercial real estate brokers and builders are ditching the brochure for the Internet to boost sales.

In terms of marketing tone, the commercial real estate industry has long played the quiet cousin to the brasher residential business. While apartments are routinely sold using splashy, multifaceted ad campaigns, commercial brokers and developers have favored lower-key, brochure-based approaches.

But the two branches of the family may be growing closer. In recent months, the marketing teams for some New York office buildings have decided to get the word out by deploying the type of stylish Web sites once used only by luxury condominiums.

Unlike the Web sites of office buildings past, which tended to be bare-bones and buried deep within a landlord’s corporate home page, this new crop stands alone and crackles with animation, exuberant language and videos.
And by publicizing details like where telecom cables enter the building, these sites add transparency to a business that can seem clubby and secretive.

“Lunches with brokers is an old-school way of getting your message out,” said Grant Greenspan, a broker and principal at the Kaufman Organization, a landlord that has set up Web sites for two of its buildings, 100-104 Fifth Avenue and 550 Seventh Avenue. But, he added, “it’s only as good as the group of brokers who you perceive to have the clients.”

By introducing buildings to the public online to generate demand, Mr. Greenspan said, “you get clients going to their brokers and saying, ‘Why aren’t you showing me this building?’ ”
The site for 100-104 Fifth Avenue, a pair of joined, early-20th-century buildings near Union Square that Kaufman co-owns with Invesco Real Estate, was also useful in chronicling the $15 million renovation that occurred after the development team bought the property out of bankruptcy in 2010 for $94 million.

The renovation, which took two years, included adding a fire safety system and six elevators and redesigning a pair of lobbies. All of this is described in a colorful, animated timeline on the Web site,, as are the specifics about those telecom cables.

The Kaufman Organization credited the site with helping to fill the 270,000-square-foot building quickly. It is at 98 percent occupancy today, up from 60 percent when the landlord bought it.

According to Mr. Greenspan, all six tenants signed there since 2010 said the site had played a major role in piquing their interest. Those tenants include Yelp, the online review business; Apple’s iAd, an advertising network; and Net-a-Porter, a women’s apparel retailer. They pay rents ranging from $45 to $60 per square foot, Kaufman said.

Similarly, at 550 Seventh Avenue, which Kaufman recently began managing for Adler Group, a new Web site is being used to rebrand the 12-story building in the garment district, where fashion tenants have historically held sway.

The Web site,, may surprise property owners who tend to be tight-lipped about their tenants. It shows the directory in the building’s lobby, revealing that Lilly Pulitzer, Donna Karan International and Oscar de la Renta have offices inside.

The site, introduced in October, is already paying off. An 11,000-square-foot space on the 10th floor is expected to be leased this month to a software company, Mr. Greenspan said, adding that the $30,000 cost of making both sites, plus the hours logged by a full-time worker, had been worth every penny.

If Web sites “facilitate renting the spaces 60 or 90 days sooner, they make all the sense in the world,” he said.

Some major New York landlords, like the Chetrit Group, have no online presence. And even when Web sites do exist, they can be a bit stolid, offering little more than the year the building was completed, its architect and its total square footage, as with the General Motors Building, owned by Boston Properties. Brokers say that when a high-rise has existed for years and is one of Manhattan’s prized addresses as well, it may not have to promote itself online.

A new office building must do more, especially when it hasn’t even come out of the ground yet. In those cases, a Web site is essential to allow tenants to visualize their future home, said Christopher V. Albanese, president of the Albanese Organization, a Long Island-based developer. These sites tend to be extremely eye-catching and could easily be mistaken for ones intended to sell multimillion-dollar condos.

In November, the Albanese Organization unveiled, for 510 West 22nd Street, a planned 170,000-square-foot office building in West Chelsea. The centerpiece of the artful Web site is a four-minute video narrated by the architect Rick Cook, which brims with dramatic music and soaring shots of the adjacent High Line.

Creating such a Hollywood-caliber product, which includes renderings that normally would not have been commissioned, doubled the building’s marketing budget — “but without it, tenants might think that this was just some ordinary building, and it really isn’t,” Mr. Albanese said.

Also, financing for the $150 million project cannot be secured until the building is 30 percent leased, he said, making a dynamic marketing tool all the more important.

Though online videos for commercial real estate are not widespread, they are gaining in popularity.
The Web site for 7 Bryant Park, a 28-story office building that Hines is developing on Avenue of the Americas, features a two-minute video. A piano tinkles; the camera swoops.

The site,, introduced last winter, has not led to leases yet, but George C. Lancaster, Hines’s senior vice president of communications, said to expect similar branding for future projects. Web sites are “the first place anybody goes these days to shop for clothes or office space,” he said.

Brian Lindvall, a partner at Dbox, which made Hines’s video and the Website for 510 West 22nd Street, agreed. Commercial assignments are coming in more frequently, he said, including one for the International Gem Tower, an Extell Development Company project at 50 West 47th Street.

Multimedia Web sites “have kind of been a residential tactic for a while,” said Mr. Lindvall, who has worked on apartment projects for Rudin Management and Forest City Ratner. “I think that relaying square footage and location is not enough to convey what a building represents.”

Like sites for condos, commercial real estate sites can seem to hawk lifestyles rather than places to put sofas or desks.

For example, businesses are urged to lease space at 837 Washington Street, under construction in the meatpacking district, because of its proximity to the new Whitney Museum and an Apple store — and, says, “because when fashion arrived, restaurateurs and hoteliers followed.”

The six-story, 55,000-square-foot, $100 million project is expected to be completed in 2014. Asking rents for the offices are $100 per square foot, said Paul E. Pariser, co-chief executive of Taconic Investment Partners, which is developing the building with Thor Equities.

According to Mr. Pariser, who sold 111 Eighth Avenue to Google in 2010, the tech companies that will most likely rent the space care about the hipness of their neighborhood. “They don’t want some stuffy image that says, ‘I have a Madison Avenue address,’ ” he said.

If Web sites help landlords leapfrog brokers to some degree by taking their message to the masses, the brokers don’t seem overly concerned.

Bruce Mosler, co-chairman of the brokerage firm Cushman & Wakefield, said he was glad technology had advanced enough to portray large offices compellingly online. He added that condos were ahead of the game only because apartments are simpler to depict.

Besides, brokers still need to be at the negotiating table when a lease is signed. “It will allow the product to get to the market more quickly,” Mr. Mosler said. “This town recognizes the value of what brokerages and brokers can provide.”


The Perks of Living in The Sunshine State

When talking about Florida, images of beaches, palm trees, and Spring Break parties come to mind. There is a reason it is called The Sunshine State: Florida is one of the most popular vacation destinations in the world because of its generally sunny weather. However, the state should be given credit more than for its beaches. Its generally very laidback atmosphere makes it a great place to live in.

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Moira McGarvey, founder of retirement planning site GangsAway!, wrote that Florida is a great place for retirement because of its low cost of living, which is perfect for those on a budget. Another reason would be the absence of income taxes, estate taxes, and inheritance taxes, as well as accessible healthcare services. Of course, these advantages aren’t just for the elderly; working professionals would equally benefit from these.

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Meanwhile, the younger generations can also enjoy living in The Sunshine State because of its thriving art scene and picturesque hangouts and a downtown that is full of energy. Art lovers can visit the many art galleries and museums that celebrate artists from different cultures, as well as watch theater productions in its key cities. Those looking to soak up the sun can go to any of the 161 state parks that offer a relaxing atmosphere. And for those seeking to enjoy good food and great finds, Florida is home to trendy urban centers like Miami and St. Petersburg where one can find quaint shops and restaurants that serve the best local dishes.

Indeed, Florida is the perfect home for those looking to have a quiet and relaxed life, where one can wear flip-flops any time of day and walk around the lively streets while enjoying the warm weather and the natural beauty of the water.

Melissa Yardy is a licensed real estate broker who has been selling properties in Pinellas County, Florida, for more than 30 years. Visit her website to learn how she can help you get your dream home in The Sunshine State.

Melissa Yardy: St. Petersburg Real Estate Expert

Melissa Yardy is a real estate agent who has worked in the St. Petersburg area for over 30 years. She is dedicated to both her clients and the area she serves.

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Ms. Yardy specializes in:

• Success! She is the recipient of several awards and honors, including Salesperson of the Year (1977), Top Agent in the South (1980-1985), and the Executive Club Award (1987-1993). She was also named one of the Top Women in Business by the Tampa Business Journal (2001-2010). Among her accomplishments, Ms. Yardysuccessfully marketed and sold the Villaggio, 36 units in Tierra Verde, and the Belle Grande, 27 units in St. Pete Beach.


• Using innovative marketing strategies that are customized to each client. This includes effective use of the Internet and an e-marketing program for every listing. Ms. Yardy makes use of every resource available, including Pinellas Realtor Organization Multiple Listing Service (PRO),,, and Google Real Estate Classifieds. And, this is only a partial list of Internet sites that Ms. Yardy uses, insuring that clients’ properties get the most exposure possible.

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• Real estate experience. With her decades in the business, Ms. Yardy knows all the ins and outs of contract negotiation, and uses her skills to help her clients get the best deal possible.

• A thorough understanding of the marketplace and how it is continually changing, knowledge she uses to sell listings in the shortest amount of time for the best possible price.

However, the most important thing that Ms. Yardy offers is unparalleled customer service. This includes extensive patience, guidance, and vision when working with buyers to insure that they get the home of their dreams. She intends to exceed every buyer and seller’s expectation, working under the principles of integrity, dedication, honesty, and accountability. She is a dedicated professional who is determined to make each client a lifetime client!