Winter is the time for comfort, for good food and warmth, for the touch of
a friendly hand and for a talk beside the fire:  it is the time for home. 

~Edith Sitwell

Featured In This Issue

Special Days and Events
First-time Home Buyers: Still a Significant Share of the Housing Marketplace
Four Ways to Find a Contractor You Can Love
Cooking Corner

Special Days and Events

February 2 – Groundhog Day
February 3 – Patient Recognition Day
February 8 – Boy Scout Day
February 14 – St. Valentine's Day
February 17 – Random Acts of Kindness Day
February 18 – President's Day

The birth flower for February is the Violet. The birth stone for February is the Amethyst.

First-time Home Buyers: Still a Significant Share of the Housing Marketplace

Buying a home is one of the major decisions a household makes. For first-time buyers, the home-buying process can be particularly challenging. Fortunately, real estate professionals are guiding the majority of first-time purchasers through the often confusing maze of the home-buying transaction.

Knowing who first-time home buyers are, what they want from their real estate agent, and what types of properties they are most prone to purchase can help those real estate professionals better serve their first-time buyer clients. The 2007 NAR Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers* reveals many characteristics of first-time buyers, and those traits are summarized below.

First-time Buyers – a Significant Market Share
For the past 10 years, the proportion of home buyers who were first-time purchasers has hovered around 40 percent. There was a drop in the share of first-time buyers in 2006, but in 2007 their participation in the home buying market rose to 39 percent. In 2007, the highest percentage of first-time buyers was in the Northeast (43 percent). They accounted for 42 percent of home buying activity in the Midwest. Both the South and West had the smallest share of first-time buyers (36 percent).

Who They Are
Just over half of first-time buyers are married couples, compared to 69 percent of repeat buyers. First-time buyers are more likely to be single-females or single males than are repeat buyers. They are also significantly younger than repeat buyers and have lower household incomes.

Characteristics of the typical first-time home buyer include:

  • married couple
  • aged 31
  • median 2006 household income of $58,600
  • native-born American
  • rented their previous residence

One-quarter of first-time buyers are single females who purchased their first home on a median income of $44,500 (compared to the median income of all recent home buyers of $74,000). The median age of first-time buyers is 15 years younger than repeat buyers.

First-time buyers are much more racially diverse than are repeat buyers. About one-quarter of first-time purchasers identify themselves as Black/African-American, Hispanic/Latino, Asian/Pacific Islander or other minority, compared to 13 percent of repeat buyers who identify themselves as non-white. First-time buyers are also more likely to be non-U.S.-born than are repeat buyers.

What They Purchased
First-time buyers tended to purchase detached single-family homes – as did repeat buyers. But those homes were smaller and, perhaps subsequently, the price of homes purchased by first-time buyers was significantly less than that for homes purchased by repeat buyers.

Characteristics of homes purchased by the typical first-time buyer include:

  • detached, single-family home
  • median purchase price: $165,000
  • median size of home purchased: 1,510 square feet
  • location of home: suburb/subdivision

Two-thirds of recent first-time buyers purchased detached single-family homes, compared to four out of five repeat buyers. But nearly twice as many first-time buyers as repeat buyers purchased a condo or a townhouse. Over one-fifth of first-time buyers bought a home in an urban area or central city; slightly over one in ten repeat buyers purchased homes in those locations. First-time home buyers were more likely to purchase a townhouse/row house (12 percent) or apartment/condominium (13 percent) than were repeat buyers (7 percent for each).

The median price paid by first-time buyers was $165,000, versus a median of $250,000 among repeat buyers. The median prices paid by both these groups changed little from 2006.

Looking for a Home
First-time home buyers, like repeat buyers, have a variety of information sources and tools to access when they search for a property. For slightly more than a quarter of them, looking at properties online was their first step. More than half of first-time buyers who used the Internet to search for homes viewed a Multiple Listing Services (MLS) web site; other popular web sites included those for individual real estate companies,, and a real estate agent’s own web site.

After that first step, first-time buyers also relied heavily on the knowledge and expertise of a real estate professional. Eighty-four percent of first-time buyers used their real estate agent as a source of information about buying a home. They typically contacted an agent two weeks after commencing their home search.

Real Estate Professionals and First-time Buyers
For nearly half of all home buyers, what they want most from their real estate professional is help finding the right home to purchase. This is also true for first-time buyers. But real estate agents provide a number of other services as well. For 77 percent of first-time buyers, their agent helped them understand the home buying process. Half of first-time buyers report that their agent pointed out unnoticed features or faults in properties they were considering purchasing. Well over a third of them indicated that using a real estate agent shortened their home search.

So where do first-time buyers turn to find a real estate professional? As is the case with repeat buyers, the majority of first-time purchasers – 54 percent – rely on referrals from a friend, neighbor or relative to find an agent. In fact, first-time buyers are more reliant on referrals than are repeat buyers. An agent’s honesty and integrity is the most important quality in a first-time purchaser choice of real estate professional.

There is another important factor that can impact future business for real estate professionals. First-time buyers expect to stay in the home they purchased for a significantly shorter period of time – seven years -- than do repeat buyers (10 years). Consequently, those first-time buyers are likely to be repeat clients in a shorter period of time.

Despite the housing slowdown, it is likely that 2007 will have registered 6.4 million existing- and new home sales (see the forecast on page 7.). Inasmuch as first-time buyers accounted for 39 percent of homes purchased, that is equal to just under 2.5 million homes. Going forward into 2008, first-time buyers can be expected to again play a significant role in the home-buying market.

Reprinted from REALTOR® Magazine February 2008 with permission of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®. Copyright 2008. All rights reserved.

Four Ways to Find a Contractor You Can Love

(ARA) – When it comes to sheer potential for relationship disaster, the worst in-laws in the world can’t compare to a shady contractor.

Hire a questionable contractor and you could be setting yourself up for serious heartache. Find a contractor you can love and you’ll be building the foundation of a lasting, happy relationship – not to mention the home of your dreams.

But the numbers show that many Americans have difficulty finding reputable contractors. In fact, the Better Business Bureau logged more than 9,600 complaints against contractors in 2006. Of the 3,800 different categories of complaints accepted by the BBB, those against contractors rank lucky 13 in terms of prevalence.

Here are four steps towards building a lasting, happy relationship with a quality contractor:

1. Run From . . .

Despite the volume of BBB complaints logged against certain contractors, most are honest and operate within the law. The Federal Trade Commission offers the following tips for recognizing a contractor who possibly isn’t on the up-and-up:

  • Beware of signs such as soliciting door-to-door, only accepting cash, not having a listed business number in the local telephone directory, or offering to do your project with materials “leftover” from a previous job.
  • Watch out for contractors who want you to obtain required building permits or find them new customers (some will offer discounts if you find them new business).
  • If the contractor is offering something that seems too good to be true – like exceptionally long guarantees or offering to do your home as a “demonstration” – it probably is too good to be true.
  • Finally, if a contractor pressures you for an immediate decision to hire him, or to borrow money for the project through his preferred lender, you may want to take your business elsewhere.

2. Check Them Out

Don’t hesitate to check out the background of the contractor you’re considering for your job; he won’t be offended if he has nothing to hide. Likewise, find out if he intends to subcontract some work, and do a background and financial check of those contractors as well. Fortunately, there are a number of resources with information on contractors, from the BBB to Web sites that maintain databases of contractors, such as

Launched by Experian, the company known for its credit reporting and protection services, ContractorCheck allows consumers to search for contractors in their area, check a specific contractor’s business background and avoid contractor fraud. For each contractor in the database, consumers can check to see if he is bonded, the status of his business license and insurance, how long the company has been in business, and if the contractor has any judgments or liens against him. In December, the site is offering visitors up to 10 free ContractorCheck reports. Visit

3. Talk to People Who Already Love Them

During your dating years you probably “checked out” prospective dates by talking to their friends and others who knew them. You need to do the same kind of word-of-mouth research before committing to a contractor. Talk to past clients to determine how reliable, speedy and reasonably priced they think your contractor candidate is. Were they pleased with the work but thought it took too long to complete? Did the contractor deliver on-time and on-budget?

Reputable contractors maintain a list of satisfied contractors who have agreed to act as references. If your potential contractor can’t provide the names, phone numbers and e-mail addresses of past satisfied customers, you may want to ask yourself why he can’t.

4. Get it in Writing

Good contractors will give you a binding estimate in writing. They also won’t work without a written contract. The contract should clearly spell out, in easy-to-understand terms, exactly what the project will cost, what will be accomplished and the anticipated time frame for completing the job. Don’t hesitate to get an attorney to review the contract before you sign it, especially if you are dealing with a high-price-tag project.

Beware of verbal agreements; as the saying goes, in a court of law, they’re often as good as the paper they were written on.

Courtesy of ARA Content

Cooking Corner

The Ultimate Beef Stew



1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, for frying, plus more to drizzle
3 tablespoons butter
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 to 3 pounds beef chuck shoulder roast, cut into 2-inch pieces (this cut is also called chuck shoulder pot roast and chuck roast boneless)
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 bottle good quality dry red wine (recommended: Burgundy)
8 fresh thyme sprigs
6 garlic cloves, smashed
1 orange, zest removed in 3 (1-inch) strips
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
2 bay leaves
2 1/2 cups beef stock
9 small new potatoes, scrubbed clean and cut in 1/2
1/2 pound carrots, peeled and sliced
2 cups frozen pearl onions, a large handful
1 pound white mushrooms, cut in 1/2
1/2 pound garden peas frozen or fresh
Fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped, for garnish
Horseradish Sour Cream, recipe follows, for garnish
Toasted Peasant Bread, recipe follows, for serving


Preheat a large heavy-bottomed saucepan or Dutch oven over medium-high heat with the oil and butter.

While the pan is heating, arrange the flour on a large dish. Season the cubed beef with some salt and freshly ground black pepper and then toss in the flour to coat. Shake off the excess flour and add the beef chunks in a single layer to the hot pan, being careful not to over crowd the pan, you might have to work in batches. Thoroughly brown all of the cubes on all sides. Once all the meat has been browned remove it to a plate and reserve.

Add the wine to the pan and bring up to a simmer while you scrape the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon being sure to loosen up all those tasty bits. Once the wine has gotten hot add the browned meat, thyme, smashed garlic, orange zest strip, ground cloves, freshly ground black pepper and salt, to taste, bay leaves and beef stock. Bring the mixture up to a boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer and cook uncovered until the liquids start to thicken, about 15 to 20 minutes. Cover and cook on low heat for 2 1/2 hours.

After 2 hours add halved potatoes, sliced carrots, pearl onions and mushrooms, along with a pinch of sugar to balance out the acid from the red wine. Turn the heat up slightly and simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes more, until the vegetables and meat are tender. Add the frozen peas during the last minute of cooking. Season with salt and pepper and remove the thyme sprigs.

To serve, place the stew in a soup bowl, garnish with parsley, drizzle with olive oil and add a dollop of Horseradish Sour Cream. Right before serving add a slice of Toasted Peasant Bread, half way submerged in the stew.


Hope You've Enjoyed February's Newsletter.
Please call or send an e-mail if you have any questions about buying, selling, or investing in real estate.

Respectfully Gloria Benaroch "Fluent in French, German and Russian"

Gloria Benaroch-Garland
Coldwell Banker
Direct: 7322454031
Office: 7328423200 x118

Email me at:
[email protected]
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