Chinese Investors Still Love NYC

Since I work with investors as well as home buyers and sellers, I have to stay up-to-date on the NYC market. I partner with NYC agents and agents in all major metro areas to make sure I can provide a full range of services, not only in the US, but all over the world. I recently had a chat with a colleague in NYC, Cici Cao, to keep my investors in-the-know about Chinese demand.

What is the state of the Chinese buyer market in NYC right now?

As of right now, a lot of high end Chinese buyers are making decisions much slower than a few years ago. Because of the 10 year visa being approved, it’s much easier to get in and out of the US. Some of them will make multiple trips to see properties before deciding on one. Most of the Chinese buyers are still thinking of buying here for their children, either for school or for a residence for them to live while they work in the States.

Aside from the usual marketing venues, what is the best way to appeal to this market when I have a property listing?

Other than the usual staging, video and 3d floor plans we have started to test out another app called “Periscope”. It’s an app where you can do  your open house on live stream and people can join in and watch the live house tour. This is definitely something interesting and I just started to test this out so I can’t tell you if it is effective yet. I also have connections with other websites in China where they would advertise my listings in Chinese so this doubles my exposure for my listings.

Are there any specific types of properties that interest Chinese buyers in NYC over others?

Chinese buyers in Manhattan particularly like Central Park view apartments and water view apartments. Also, they typically like newer buildings rather than older structures. If there’s a kid involved, then they would care very much about the schools around the property.

What are the obstacles for Chinese investors in the US?

Getting the money to purchase in the US has always been an obstacle to Chinese buyers since they are limited to transferring only $50,000 per year per person out of China. I hope this will change soon so there will be more buyers that will be able to invest in the States. A lot of them also don’t really know the whole picture for investing since they only are exposed to the things that are being talked about on social media. Some think the only good areas to purchase are around Central Park.

Also, many Chinese buyers don’t really understand the different types of properties in Manhattan. For instance, they have no idea what a co-op is and why it would be very difficult for them to purchase one even though the prices are much lower than a condo. This is why having a good agent is very important for pursuing the right property and getting the best value.

For more information about NYC real estate, contact Cici Cao at  or at Make sure to let her know I sent you.

Luxury Design is for Every Home

I recently caught up with Beth Krupa, an expert luxury home interior designer. She has brilliantly transformed the homes of my clients into functional, modern spaces that still feel warm, natural and inviting.

She will be featured in East Coast Home & Design magazine in the February edition and participating as a panelist at the Women Empowering Women networking event this coming February 25th at the Stamford Sheraton. Here are a few questions I posed to help my clients on their design journeys.

Aside from using more expensive materials, what differentiates the luxury design process from the design process that mid-range home buyers go through?

For us, what differentiates the two is the amount of help and service we provide. A more luxury design process includes the walkthrough, generally weekly meetings to go over new design selections, construction floor plans if needed, on site assistance with contractors and written specifications for them to have clarity about the project. We then specify every item, fabric, trim, furnishing, window and floor treatment, lighting fixture, accessory, etc. We then procure it, track the status of delivery, manage placement, etc…and take full responsibility to correct any damages or problems that can arise. We even end with a celebratory big reveal champagne party if that’s what the client enjoys.

A more mid-range home buyer might prefer to work with some of their existing pieces, and/or have a consultation with a plan they can implement themselves. This client would be more apt to buy at retail rather than take on the expense and time involved with customizing. The selections are more limited if they don’t work with a designer, but the results can still be amazing if they have a good eye and enjoy shopping. Most of the luxury clients appreciate the deep pool of resources we can provide that the vast majority don’t know exist. They want us to use their preferences but trust our direction. They don’t have the time or the desire for shopping, and they appreciate that we control the process and project.

Experienced designers who enjoy working with clients with various budgets know how to manage the scope of the project, so the mid-range client can utilize their design advice without the full process the luxury design client needs, thus avoiding costly mistakes.

Can you tell me the latest trends in high-end design that you see most often in Fairfield County?

There is a huge return to antiques, but done in a more modern fashion. We love to mix them with new and contemporary pieces and utilize them strategically instead of a roomful. We love a room to look collected and not overly designed.

Another trend that has been around but has real staying power is pale, soft, neutral walls and changing accessories and pillows seasonally with bright pops of color. Design is more fun and whimsical than it has been in the past. An unexpected element is a fun conversation starter. Mixing metals within the same space is expected now. Mixing texture and warmth with hides or Mongolian lamb pillows, for example.

Have baby boomers had an impact on the concept of luxury and what defines it? If so, fill us in.

Baby boomers who are currently working with designers are looking to the younger ideas and not stuck in the old patterns and ways of doing things. This impacts the younger client who is also no longer looking at old rules or ways of doing things. Boomers lean toward uniqueness and design for themselves specifically, and are not drawn as much to labels and brand image.

Buyers in every price range often want to create a luxurious feel to at least one room in the home. What advice would you give someone on a limited budget?

Paint, paint, paint. Nothing changes a room with more impact and the least expense. Changing light fixtures has a huge return too and there are many great online resources at lower prices. Update pillows and accessories. Change out a rug and opt for something more minimal and on trend like a hide. De-clutter and think minimal and fresh. The basic rule of thought is to take away anything that doesn’t define or romance your space.

For more expert design advice and services check out Beth’s website,

Luxury Home Marketing

Most experienced real estate agents know that luxury home marketing requires a different mindset than the marketing of homes at a lower price point. Unfortunately, many agents make the mistake of using different tactics rather than different strategies when marketing exclusive homes.

A change in tactics will often require employing more expensive advertising and marketing materials, yet a change in strategy requires big picture thinking and analysis before tactics are employed. Here are a few areas in which I see agents making big mistakes in the process:

Attracting the wrong attention

Agents can spend huge amounts of marketing dollars on videos with orchestras and ballerinas without any clear return on their investment or reduction in market time. While this type of attention can get you large numbers of internet hits and media coverage, it often brings the wrong types of people into a home and can have a damaging impact on its image. These types of bells and whistles, if not done tastefully, can send a message that a carnival atmosphere is needed to sell a home, when exclusive buyers know it is the thoughtfully designed home, along with its history, cutting-edge features and sought-after neighborhood that attracts the next serious buyer.

Creative events that show off the house and are consistent with the era a home was built, like a small classical concert, fund-raiser, or a poetry reading and cocktail hour can be far more effective in creating the right exposure, compared to sensational videos posted for mass public consumption.

Failing to target the pre-buyer

Many buyers of exclusive homes are currently luxury bi-coastal and global sellers who are downsizing or up-sizing; as well as luxury second-home renters. Targeting these sellers and renters, who have not yet decided where they are moving, is an effective strategy for creating buyers that are not yet in the market.

Missing the comparative/competitive marketing opportunity

Many agents make a good effort to learn the unique features of a home. What they often miss is how to position the home among other similar homes in a price range. Determining the shortcomings of other competitive homes is as important as knowing the benefits of the home you are marketing.

Overlooking the story behind the details

Every exclusive home is unique, so after a thorough interview and tour with my homeowners, I also walk through a home with the architect who designed it and the contractor who built it or renovated it. They often can point out details that even homeowners have forgotten and help positon the home well among more recently constructed homes. Also, since luxury buyers are typically coming from other states, counties and countries it should never be assumed that all buyers fully understand why a particular building material or feature of a home is important. Such items can be important due to weather considerations, innovation in design, maintenance and environmental concerns, historical precedent, scarcity and cost. These considerations should always be fully communicated to each buyer.

Inadequately leveraging direct mail

I often see agents create beautiful, glossy marketing pieces to leave inside exclusive homes and mail to target neighborhoods. While such pieces are nice to have inside the home, they are of better use outside of the home. Mailing these pieces to pre-buyers, other agents and places where the luxury buyer frequents, such as private clubs and spas, is an important part of marketing. Adding incentives to spread the word and pass along these materials is also effective for maximum exposure.







Luxury Home Marketing Update

  • Flippers are concentrating more on high-end homes after exhausting the deals in the lower and mid-price ranges in 2012 and the beginning of 2013. There were 34% more luxury home flips last year compared to the prior year. Get ready to choose a negotiation strategy that works for contractors and investors when you find that luxury home in 2014.
  • The affluent from other countries that are considered less economically stable are increasing their focus on prestigious areas of the US such as Manhattan, San Francisco and Los Angeles.
  • Affluent Chinese people are predicted to become an even bigger force in the U.S. luxury market in 2014. Chinese people are already the second largest foreign real estate buyer group in the United States.
  • Custom conveniences that tie into a home buyer’s interests, lifestyles and budgets will continue to separate homes that move quickly from the rest. Such features include shower heads that stream music, automated home systems for everything from the refrigerator to the beer draft dispensing system, and custom fine art retractable television cases that disguise your television as a piece of elegant artwork.
  • The EB-5 program is attracting more wealthy individuals from all over the world, by allowing foreigners to invest $500,000 to create 10 U.S. jobs in exchange for a U.S. green card.