Business Spotlight on…Behfar Realty
Name and Position: Karen Behfar, co- owner
Location: 1524 East 23 Street
Number of Employees: 16
Years in Business: 7
How did you choose the real estate field?
I actually was a special education/behavior therapist for a few years. I loved what I did. I loved the creativity of the job as well as working with kids. Someone that my husband learned with for many years encouraged him to get a real estate license. I actually love learning new things and spending time with my husband, so I decided to take the course with him.
How long have you been in the industry?
It’s been nine years since I got my real estate license, but seven years since we officially opened up The Behfar Team.
Is it a bad idea to buy in today’s market?
It’s like asking a bakery owner if it’s a good time to have a fresh homemade muffin if you’re on a diet. My thoughts are that if you have the money saved up and can afford the monthly payments, then it is a great time to buy. You never know if your finances will stay the same in terms of being able to take on a mortgage. You never know if you have to dip into your down payment at any given time. Having a home is basically accruing equity and it’s a way to save up. At the end of the day, you’re always paying a mortgage every month, whether you’re renting and paying a landlord’s mortgage or you’re paying your own mortgage.
How do interest rates impact the purchase of a home?
They impact the purchase of a home very much, but buyers shouldn’t let that stop them from purchasing a home just because the interest rates went up a bit. If you can afford the actual monthly payment, go for it. You need to be realistic about what you can afford. Interest rates affect the purchase of a home because if the rates are lower, buyers have more buying power. For example, if they could afford $4,000 a month for the mortgage, they could buy a home in a certain price range. If the rates go up, then they have to lower that price range to still be at the $4,000 a month mortgage.
Have home prices decreased recently?
I have not seen a decrease in the actual listing prices. Sometimes, buyers are giving lower offers because the rates went up. I definitely am starting to see that. Not drastically. When COVID-19 hit, I would say there was more of a price difference that happened right away. I would say the prices are gradually stabilizing.
What about two-family homes?
I would say investors who have bought such homes expecting the monthly rental income to cover their mortgage are not necessarily seeing that, especially if they’re taking out a mortgage with a high rate. Since the pandemic, the rental prices have definitely decreased with people looking to buy or move out of Brooklyn.
What are some things first-time home buyers should know?
Know your finances. Figure out how much down payment you actually have. Have your pre-approval ready with your mortgage broker.
What should buyers look for?
Make the family, or whoever’s supporting you, a part of the process. Many times family members say, “Find a home, then I’ll give you the money.” I think that’s a mistake. You need to know what you’re working with and you need to include family members in the process of looking for a home. What I see many times is young couples – buyers – who are reliant on their parents for financial help or support. They see 15 to 20 homes and when they like a house, maybe the twentieth home they’ve seen, they bring in their family. Their family members are just coming into the picture now and haven’t seen any other homes to gauge the market, so they nix the house, but a few months later they regret it.
What can sellers do to maximize their home’s potential on the market?
I’m all for making your house presentable to the buyers, but not for making it look what it’s not. Painting the house so leaks are not visible is not a good idea if the source of the leak is not addressed and fixed for good. Make the exterior of your home very neat and clean. Changing the bathroom or kitchen is something I would not suggest the seller do. I often could tell a what a house is like just by the outside – the pride with which the sellers maintain the exterior of their home.
How long does a house typically take to sell?
It really depends on the demand of that particular house. For example, a house in the 20s under a million dollars could probably go into contract within a week or two. A $2.5M house in that area might take a little longer. It all depends on the supply and demand. Generally, I like to tell sellers that homes take three to six months to sell, but you can gauge the market value of within the first six to eight weeks.
What are your real estate projections for the next year or two?
It’s hard to say because Hashem runs the world. I see that there is high demand for homes. There are buyers calling our office looking to buy every single day, even with interest rates that aren’t the lowest. I do feel that the rates will eventually go down and will give the buyers more buying power and will definitely turn into a healthy market.
Is buying a home always a good investment?
It is a good investment. It accrues equity. I have seen people who aren’t in the most comfortable financial situation but bought a home when they got married for $300,000 and now it’s worth $950,000. They automatically had equity built up to their house after all these years. It’s such a great feeling for me to tell people that their house is worth more than they think.