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A Refresher on “TIME OF THE ESSENCE” in Real Estate Transactions

 

Typically, residential real estate contracts contain an “on or about” closing date. This is not a firm date, strictly enforceable against either party, but rather, a best estimate and the goal of the parties, at the time that the contract was entered into. Clearly, issues such as title exceptions, mortgage and finance contingencies, as well as the availability of the parties, their counsel, bank attorneys, title closers, etc., all lend uncertainty to trying to predict a precise closing date at the time of contract. Thus, a reasonably estimated date is picked (usually 60-90 days out from the contract signing), with both parties knowing it is subject to change, etc. Neither party can sue, or default, the other, for not being able to close on the “on or about” date.

While customarily a mutually agreeable closing date is eventually scheduled, if one party is resistant, or fails to confirm a closing date, the other party has two options: first, demand a contract rider or amendment, where both parties agree on a firm date, in writing. This language would say that “time is of the essence” as to the new closing date; this makes the closing date (referred to as “law day”) and it becomes a strict date that must be complied with, and is no longer a flexible “on or about date”. If either party fails to close title on such day, they are in default of the contract.

The second option is what is commonly referred to as a “Time of the Essence” Letter (TOE Letter). This is a unilateral designation by one party, of what the closing date will be. Because both parties are not agreeing to this date, and the date is being chosen solely by one party, the Courts have, through common law and case-law precedent, put a number of conditions on TOE Letter closings.

First, the TOE Letter must give reasonable advance notice of the closing date. Clearly, sending a letter today, which demanded that the party close tomorrow, would not be reasonable. While there is no hard and fast rule as to what is “reasonable” (case-law dictates that will be deemed “reasonable” shall be determined on a case by case basis, depending upon the facts and details of the transaction, the past conduct of the parties, etc.), thirty-days’ notice is generally used. The period can be lengthened, or shortened, as circumstances require, but the Court would look to each individual transaction to see if the advance notice period given in the letter was objectively reasonable.

Second, the TOE Letter must expressly advise the party who receives it of what the consequence will be for failing to close on the chosen date. If it is a buyer receiving it, for example, the letter should state that they will lose their deposit, and that the seller shall retain the deposit as liquidated damages, and that they will also lose the opportunity to purchase the property. If it is a seller receiving the letter, for example, the letter would typically say that the buyer can sue to reclaim their deposit (and/or additional damages), or for “specific performance” of the contract.

Third, the TOE Letter must be given in good faith. The party receiving the letter must have no valid defenses to failing to close, and the sender should not send one if there is an issue that they know the receiving party cannot fix, merely to apply leverage, and cause a technical default. (For example, if you were aware the other party needed a week to be able to close, and you were to send a TOE Letter demanding a closing in six days). In another example, a seller who has an illegal condition/ alteration at the property, cannot force the purchaser to close, merely by serving a TOE letter, and attempting to leverage them to close, by attempting to put them in a position of having committed a pre-emptive default; in that case, the purchaser may or would have a legitimate defense, or reason not to close, under the contract, and the TOE Letter would ultimately be ruled to have no effect. There is case-law that generally provides that reasonable adjournments or good faith attempts at rescheduling an “on or about” closing date should occur before resorting to a TOE letter.

Fourth, on the chosen date, the party sending the TOE letter must be ready, willing and able to perform their part of the transaction also. The TOE designation becomes a double edged sword that can cut against either party. So the sending party must be assured they will be able to perform their obligations to close on the set date, lest the other party appear to close, and the party who sent the letter is not, and be held in default themselves. While not often used, contract riders, as opposed to TOE Letters, can make “Time of the Essence” as to one party only. This alleviates the obligation of one party to be “ready, willing and able” on a date certain, where failure to be so could cut against them. They will ultimately have to be “ready, willing and able” in order to default the other party, but, they alone have the power to adjourn if they are not, while the other party would be held to the date. Naturally, since this only protects one party, it is not too often agreed upon by both sides.

On the closing day, the party who sent the TOE Letter should have everything in place to close title, even if they are reasonably certain the other party may not appear. For a purchaser, this may mean having their lender/ lenders counsel present, or at least on stand-by, ready to appear if the other party does appear, ready to close. A title closer should also be present, and the funds to consummate the transaction also available and ready to disburse. For the seller, keys should be available to deliver, and a Deed prepared, ready to be executed, along with any other transfer tax documentation, or other necessary documents. Many attorneys will arrange to have a stenographer/court report appear at the TOE closing, to memorialize the identity of the participants, to show that all necessary parties are there (other than any defaulting parties who do not appear), and that everything necessary for the closing to occur is ready; sometimes even marking documents “for identification” by the court reporter, to accompany the transcript. This is not strictly required, however, it is useful if the matter results in litigation, as good evidence of the parties default in appearing, and that everything else was ready in order for the closing to occur.

If you have any questions about “Time of the Essence” closings, or if you have clients who find themselves in a pre-litigation scenario, and need assistance, please, do not hesitate to contact our offices. We are here to help!

Jeremy Panzella nyc lawyer specializing in litigation, real estate law, and land use
Jeremy Panzella, Esq.
Partner
Email: jpanzella@mvclaw.com

Is a Short Sale Better Than a Foreclosure?

real estate for sale sign selling house short sale article

Is a short sale a better alternative than losing your home in a foreclosure?

Daniela Guerrero associate attorney real estate, personal injury, litigation

Daniela Guerrero, Esq
Email:DGuerrero@mvclaw.com

A “short sale” is term that refers to a sale of real property where the sales price, after the expenses of the sale are deducted, is lower than the amount owed on the property by virtue of mortgages, and other liens. A short sale is only possible if the lenders and/or lienholders with respect to the property, agree to accept an amount lower than what is actually owed on the debt.

In a typical short sale scenario, the homeowner initiates the transaction by accepting an offer from a buyer and then having a Contract of Sale prepared and signed by all parties. A good contract will state that the sale is subject to the approval of any creditors with liens or interests in the property, including, their approval of the sale price, which could be below the appraised value of the property. In order to approve the short sale, the creditors will ordinarily request a copy of the contract of sale, demonstrating the sales price, an appraisal or broker’s analysis demonstrating the property value, a broker’s listing agreement stating the broker’s commission
to be paid (if any), and a proposed settlement statement showing the closing costs associated with the sale. They may also request tax returns, bank statements, and financial information from the homeowner, to demonstrate a  financial hardship, and inability to pay the entire amount owed.

To qualify for a customary short sale, the Seller and the property must meet certain requirements such as: the net proceeds from the sale must be lower than the remaining balance on the mortgage (net proceeds simply is the sale price less all closing costs [e.g. legal fees, transfer taxes, realtors fees]), the seller must be close or already in default, the seller must show long-term financial hardship, and the seller must lack substantial assets that could be used to offset shortfalls. However, please note, that even if all those requirements are met, it does not guarantee that a short sale will be approved. The bank will collect all proceeds from the sale which are not used to satisfy closing costs, or other liens. The homeowner will almost always not be permitted to retain any proceeds from the sale.

There are numerous reasons why a short sale may be more beneficial and a better alternative to losing your home in a foreclosure sale. At times, the Lender will agree with a short sale because it is better to recover part of the mortgage loan in liquid funds from a closing, than to take the risk of selling the property at an auction, where the recovery could be much less, and could include multiple additional expenses to the foreclosing bank, including transfer taxes, additional legal fees, paying a broker to list the property for sale if the bank reclaims the property in foreclosure, maintaining the property while it being marketed for sale, and incurring ordinary property expenses like real estate taxes and insurance. It is beneficial for a homeowner in a few ways. First, most lenders will regard a recent foreclosure as equal to a recent bankruptcy, thereby reducing your ability to obtain a mortgage in the future. If you plan on owning another home in the future, you may want to avoid a foreclosure on your credit report. A foreclosure may be quite damaging on your credit report, and may stay on your credit report for up to seven years. Thus, it will be quite difficult and take time to qualify for a new mortgage. While a short sale can also be reported on your credit report, it is more likely to be reported in a less damaging way, which may will help you be a more attractive borrower, though you will still need to wait some time before becoming eligible for a new mortgage.

Another benefit, of a short sale is that creditors typically accept the proceeds of the sale as a settlement, and will give up the right to sue you to recover amounts unpaid after a short sale delivers less than the total outstanding loan, although this is not always the case. Unless the Lender agrees not to pursue legal action, it can file a lawsuit to recover the difference of the unpaid loan balance. If the Lender agrees to a short sale, you must be sure to obtain an agreement from the Lender that it will not pursue legal action to recover the unpaid loan balance after a short sale. This is why is it very important to have appropriate legal representation when involved in a short sale transaction.

In addition, in most cases the Lender will consider any portion of the forgiven debt as regular income to the borrower and will issue a 1099 for that amount to the IRS – meaning that the homeowner will have to pay income taxes on the forgiven amount. This is why it is very important to discuss the tax implications of a short sale with your accountant.

It is very important to get sound legal advice before entering into a short sale transaction, or any other foreclosure alternative. At Menicucci Villa Cilmi PLLC, we have the experience and legal knowledge to help you find the alternative that’s right for your situation, and to help you achieve your goals.

Why do I need a property survey?

Why do I need a property survey?

Anthony Palumbo lawyer litigation expert

Anthony Palumbo, Esq. apalumbo@mvclaw.com

One of the most frequent questions I receive from many of my clients who are purchasing a home is, “Why do I need a survey of my property?” Whether it is a first-time homebuyer or not, this question has become more and more common. The reasons why I hear this question asked frequently are usually the same. The mortgage lender does not require a survey for the closing, the buyer wants to avoid the cost for a new survey, and the cost and delays that might arise waiting for the survey to be completed. Despite these reasons, a homebuyer should get a survey done prior to making any purchase of real estate.

What is a Survey?

The process of surveying real property has been around for thousands of years and has been the cornerstone for identifying who owned what parcel of land. Simply put, a survey is defined as a map or plan of a property with detailed descriptions and measurements of the boundaries and any improvements, and restrictions that are contained within those boundaries.

If you are buying a property, the survey company will research the property and prepare a survey map which will show the boundary lines around your home and parcel of land and any improvements on the property and their dimensions and locations, such as: buildings, patios, pools, garages, and driveways. Because most improvements are required to be located a certain distance from other improvements and property lines and filed plans; permits and certificates of occupancy usually limit the size of the improvements. The information contained in a survey is vital for a buyer to determine the legality of such improvements. A survey will also display whether or not any of your improvements might encroach upon your neighbor’s property that may cause legal disputes, and the existence of any easements over said property. Basically, a survey will reveal if the legal description of the parcel of land correctly matches the outline of your property.

If you are selling a property you may have to provide the buyer with an up-to-date survey of your property. This can help provide the buyer confidence in their purchase, verify the size and expanse of their new property, and help avoid later legal snafus that can arise from an inaccurate property description.

So, the answer to the question “Why do I need a survey?” is a resounding YES. A survey is fundamental to the ownership of property. However, as previously mentioned, a client might claim the following reasons for not needing a survey:

“The mortgage lender does not require a survey.”

About twenty years ago, most lenders required that the borrower/ buyer had a survey that was updated within the last ten years, but since then that requirement has waned. Title insurance companies still insure lender’s mortgage priority and other interests, while accepting or excluding the need for the survey. However, that exception to the policy while protecting the lender’s interest doesn’t protect the homebuyer’s interest. Although the lender might not require a survey before closing on the property, if there are any boundary line disputes or issues with the legality of any improvements on the property, they are the buyer’s responsibility. Regardless, if any of these issues exist your mortgage payment will still be due and you also might have a problem selling the property in the future.

“I do not want to spend the money on a new survey.”

The cost for a survey is relative and the purchase of a home is usually one of the biggest investments of a lifetime. The cost of a survey preparation is relatively low in comparison to the issues that can arise when making the investment without a survey.

The average cost of a new survey for most homes in New York and New Jersey is approximately $800.00 to $1,200.00 in 2018. The cost of a survey varies depending on the lot size, detail of the survey, and other factors.

A homebuyer has the option to price and order his own survey. Most attorneys are not going to have the time to make a cost analysis of local surveyors. Typically, a law firm will have two to three local surveyor companies that they recommend working with, or an attorney might just rely on the title company to choose the surveyor. However, a homebuyer has the ability to easily shop for these services online. Keep in mind, as can be with all professionals, especially when looking for services on the Internet, not all surveyors are the same. The homebuyer should at the very least, consider your attorney’s recommendation for a surveyor.

If a homebuyer decides to order his own survey then they should advise their attorney at the beginning of the process to avoid duplicating the buyer’s costs.

“Getting a survey might delay my closing and that delay might cost me additional money.”

Most attorneys do not order a survey until the buyer has a Mortgage Commitment Letter and the title is “clear”. The reason for this is that the cost of survey preparation is not contingent upon anything but the work performed. So, regardless if the buyer actually closes or not, they are still responsible to pay the surveyor for work performed. In order to prevent buyers paying for surveys on homes they do not purchase, attorneys only order the survey when the closing is imminent, the title is clear, and the lender has committed to finance the purchase. Some attorneys collect the survey cost upfront from the buyer and explain to their clients that the cost of the survey may be forfeited in the event that the transaction does not close for a variety of reasons. Note, this can be the same as appraisal fees and inspection costs, and considered as part of the homebuyer’s “due diligence” cost. Other attorneys completely put the
onus on their client to order and pay for their own survey prior to closing.

So if the attorney is waiting for the title to be clear and the lender to issue a commitment letter before ordering a survey, then logic dictates that the survey preparation might delay a closing date. Such a delay might cause the buyer to incur additional costs (e.g. interest rate lock extension fees). Such a delay should typically take two weeks-time, and as the survey is so important to home ownership, the delay and any costs related to it should be considered; but should not be subordinate to getting a survey.

In conclusion, although mortgage lenders, realtors, and loan officers might be advising that a buyer does not need a survey to proceed to closing, attorneys will always advise that a buyer to get the survey regardless of cost, delay, or mortgage company. It is an important component in a homebuyer’s due diligence and when you make such a sizeable investment, the cost or delay is negligible when compared to the benefits a survey provides a landowner.

If you have any questions for Anthony Palumbo, Esq. or the Menicucci Villa Cilmi PLLC team about the legality of land and home surveys, or purchasing or selling a home in New York, call 718-667-9090 today!

Menicucci Villa Cilmi Adds Criminal Defense With Joseph V. Sorrentino

Veteran criminal defense attorney represents clients in New York and New Jersey state courts, and federal courts across the U.S.

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. (AUG. 1, 2018) – The law firm of Menicucci Villa Cilmi PLLC (MVC) has welcomed prominent criminal defense attorney Joseph V. Sorrentino as an “Of Counsel” member to its legal team. 

Practicing in federal courts nationwide and the state courts of New York and New JerseyJoseph Sorrentino is a seasoned criminal defense lawyer and former prosecutor with more than three decades of impressive performance,” said Michael M. Menicucci, MVC founder and managing partner. “His contribution to our legal team offers our clients fresh perspective and convenient access to a top criminal defense attorneyfurther underscoring our firm’s long-standing commitment to excellence. It’s great to welcome Joe on board.”

Sorrentinowho attended St. John’s University and St. John’s University Law School with Menicucci, began his legal career in 1984 as an assistant district attorney in the Bronx and left four years later to pursue his passion of criminal defense.

He has since worked the gamut of criminal cases, defending clients accused of illegal acts such as those involving organized crimemajor drug casesfraud; theft; gambling; racketeering; money launderingalleged violations of the Hobbs Act, a federal extortion statute, and purported breaches of U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission laws, to name just a few.

“I’m very pleased to associate myself with Menicucci Villa Cilmi,” Sorrentino said. “MVC’s long-established reputation of integrity, uncompromised due diligence, and success align well with the character and high ethical standards that define my practice.”

A GOOD FIT

Sorrentino’s criminal defense expertise nicely complements Menicucci Villa Cilmi’s years of experience in civil litigation and court proceedings, further addressing the potential needs of clients.

Having served clients for over 30 years, MVC is a New York law firm skilled in the legal details of business; banking and finance, including regulatory-compliance issues; residential and commercial real estate transactions; land use and development; mortgages and foreclosures; all forms of commercial litigation; appeals, and personal injury.

Headquartered on Staten Island, with additional offices in Manhattan and Brooklyn, Menicucci Villa Cilmi PLLC – with Founder and Managing Partner Michael M. Menicucci, Esq., at the helm – is recognized as one of the top law practices of its kind in the NYC metropolitan area. 

The multi-faceted law firm brings considerable knowledge in various legal disciplines to the table when handling litigation, including, but not limited to, matters of: Commercial and residential real estate transactionsbusiness law; banking law; zoning, land use and environmental lawfinance, and many more. 

WIDE-RANGING EXPERTISE

More specifically, from pre-suit evaluation to trial – and throughout the appellate process – MVC offers expertise in a variety of matters, such as: Commercial transactions, leases, and business disputes; real estate litigation, including claims involving commercial or residential transactions, or partition actions; residential and commercial mortgage foreclosures; foreclosure alternatives; mortgage foreclosure defense and loan modifications; construction litigation, such as contract negotiations, finance, management claims, arbitration, mechanic’s liens, contract or tort claims; land use and zoning litigation, including environmental law, civil enforcement of municipal regulations, administrative litigation of violations, environmental claims, site remediation, and zoning issues; commercial and residential landlord-and-tenant disputes, and lease negotiation; prosecuting and defending personal injury claims, and banking litigation.

MVC may be reached at 718-667-9090; Joseph Sorrentino may be emailed directly at jsorrentino@mvclaw.com

Pitfalls in failing to structure your investment property in an LLC

Investment Properties

Brendan T Lantry Associate

Brendan T. Lantry, Esq. BLantry@mvclaw.com

In commencing a new development project, novice investors will often question the need to place title to their investment property in a corporate entity such as a Limited Liability Corporation (LLC), as opposed to owning the property personally. When advised that corporate ownership could avoid personal liability, the question is often asked: “If I have property insurance, won’t that cover all liability?” Here is a brief discussion as to why investors/developers should protect their investment property by placing it in an LLC or other corporate entity:

One major benefit of corporate ownership of investment property is the avoidance of personal liability. From the moment that a deed transfers legal title, the purchaser may be held legally liable for any claim which occurs thereafter with respect to property – even immediately thereafter. A claim, for example,
for negligence or personal injury, can arise at any time – even hours or minutes after property legally changes hand. These claims, if valid, could subject the new property owner to an indeterminate amount of money in damages. Owning the property in a duly formed, proper corporate entity will shield the individual investor/ owner’s assets from liability or seizure resulting from a successful lawsuit, and instead may effectively limit liability to the value of the property, and protect any other separately owned property or assets. Many investors who own several properties will in fact form a new corporate entity for each property they own, so liability on one property cannot extend to other properties, which could occur if the properties were owned by the same entity.

Further, in advance of a purchase of property, an investor should always take steps to ensure that there are no gaps in insurance coverage – in other words, there is no period of time when the seller’s insurance has been terminated, and the investor’s insurance has not yet begun – leaving the property uninsured against loss and liability. Even once insurance is in place, there are typically numerous exclusions in a standard insurance policy, which will not provide coverage for certain events. Some of these exclusions include gross negligence, flood damage, lack of certain kinds of maintenance (e.g., snow removal). In addition, should the subject property be insured, it’s important to note that any recovery in excess of the insurance cap will be the responsibility of the property owner.

For example, an individual seeks monetary damages for a personal injury accident in the amount of $1,500,000.00. If the property owner’s policy covers damages only up to $1,000,000.00, then the property owner will be open to liability for the additional $500,000.00. If the property was owned by a corporate entity – not an individual – then under most circumstances, the entity – and not the individual investor – would be subject to this liability. Thus, it is also important for an investor to make sure that his or her entity is property insured in a sufficient amount to protect the investment property.

If there is more than one investor in a property, using a corporate entity has the additional advantage of using an Operating Agreement, or other corporate governance document, to set the parameters for how the property will be utilized, protected, and sold. For example, if two individuals own a property together, and one wishes to sell, and the other not, the only remedy is expensive litigation by way of a “partition action”. An operating agreement can provide that a property be sold pursuant to a vote of a certain number of ownership interest, avoiding costly litigation. There may also be tax and financial benefits to purchasing or owning an investment property under a corporate entity.

While there are costs to form an LLC or other corporate entity, for the purpose of purchasing real property, the benefits often far outweigh these costs. Simply stated, it’s important not to be penny wise, pound foolish when engaging in investment property ownership. Ownership in a corporate entity, while having minor upfront costs, can help avoid substantial, and expensive, future headaches.

If you have any questions for Brendan Lantry, Esq. or the Menicucci Villa Cilmi PLLC team about setting up a Limited Liability Company for your real estate investments in New York call 718-667-9090 today!

Law Firm Menicucci Villa Cilmi Marks 20th Anniversary of Residential Lending Division’s Operations Director

Expansion of Dina Malliae’s workplace responsibilities were inspired by a proactive response to tougher banking regulations by the Staten Island-based legal practice

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. – Dina Malliae, operations director of the Residential Lending division at Menicucci Villa Cilmi PLLC (MVC), is celebrating her 20th anniversary with the law firm, much to the delight of its namesake founder.

“Dina has proven her capabilities over a span of two decades, working with our firm’s partners and the lending institutions we represent,” said MVC Managing Partner Michael M. Menicucci. “She has never faltered in her ability to embrace vital and complex responsibilities with eagerness and self-confidence, arguably playing an integral role in the growth of our firm.”

However, Ms. Malliae said she would not have foreseen her latest career milestone 20 years ago.

“I took this position as a mom with two little kids who was buying a home and retained Mike [Menicucci] to be my lawyer,” recalled Ms. Malliae, whose employment at the firm began in December 1997. “I wasn’t looking for a job, but Mike offered me an opportunity to work at the office just a few hours a week – and it seemed like the perfect fit at the time.”

Upon her arrival, Ms. Malliae lacked an understanding of the mortgage industry, but that would dramatically change.

“Over time, Mike taught me the business,” she said. “As I was learning, the department was growing, and together we transformed it from a two-man show into a fully staffed lender-services department, representing most of the top mortgage lenders and brokers.”

As the years went by, industry regulations became stricter, guidelines become more demanding – and MVC evolved with the times.

“We developed and integrated a state-of-the-art IT system, which was fully Dodd-Frank compliant,” Ms.  Malliae said.

The firm’s proactive response to tougher banking regulations inspired an expansion of Ms. Malliae’s responsibilities.

“We had to quickly learn and adhere to these demands from an operational standpoint, which led to a change in my role at the firm,” she said.

Today, as operations director of MVC’s Residential Lending division, some of Ms. Malliae’s work involves regulatory compliance; training of staff with regard to Dodd-Frank and TILA-RESPA Integrated Disclosure (TRID) guidelines; processing and closing loans; preparation of profit and loss (P&L) statements; conferring with the firm’s senior partners; traveling to out-of-state lender sites, and more.

 

 

February 13th, 2018|MVC News|

NYC Law Firm Menicucci Villa Cilmi Adds ‘Triple Threat’ Litigator to Legal Team

Attorney Brendan T. Lantry, an experienced political counsel, criminal prosecutor and civil litigator is based at New York law firm’s Staten Island headquarters

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y.  – The legal team of Menicucci Villa Cilmi PLLC (MVC) is marking the recent addition of accomplished civil litigator, former political counsel and criminal prosecutor Brendan T. Lantry.

“I’m delighted to have Brendan Lantry on board,” said Michael M. Menicucci, the law firm’s founder and managing partner. “His litigation experience, political savvy, and courtroom acuity are a ‘triple threat,’ and support MVC’s mission of providing the expertise and dedication our clients expect of us.”

Lantry, 31, experienced a variety of legal roles prior to joining Menicucci Villa Cilmi as an associate in late 2017, such as: Litigation associate with one of New York City’s premier medical malpractice defense firms; district director to Congressman Daniel (Dan) M. Donovan Jr.; counsel to former New York City Council Minority Leader Vincent M. Ignizio; assistant district attorney in Kings County, and legislative aide to State Sen. Andrew J. Lanza.

In his new position, Lantry is primarily focusing upon civil litigation, including commercial and personal injury litigation, as well as election law matters, commercial agreements and real estate transactions.

“MVC maintains a stellar reputation in the Staten Island litigation, real estate, and commercial-transaction legal communities,” Lantry said. “I’m elated to join this team of fine professionals in providing diligent and efficient legal representation to the Staten Island and Brooklyn communities, and all of metropolitan New York. Thank you to Michael Menicucci and the rest of the MVC team for providing me with this opportunity.”

 

 

February 3rd, 2018|MVC News|

Staten Island Real Estate Option: Easy Walk to Shops and Restaurants

Attorney with experience in banking, finance, business and real estate development spotlights borough’s neighborhoods with ‘walkability’

Some Staten Island neighborhoods are mastering the small-town appeal of bygone days, maintaining walkability in an age of commuters, vehicles and mass transit. This is apparent from St. George and Port Richmond to West Brighton, Meiers Corners, New Dorp, Eltingville, and other communities across the borough.

“Although cars are seen by many as a suburban-like necessity in some parts of Staten Island, there are neighborhoods where people stroll from their homes to enjoy local amenities,” said real estate legal expert, founder and managing partner of the law firm Menicucci Villa Cilmi PLLC. “The ‘Borough of Parks’ is particularly appealing because it offers a choice between ‘walkability’ and a more vehicle-dependent suburban lifestyle.”

Millennials have been propelling interest in walkable communities, but they are no longer alone, Menicucci said, citing a recent survey from the National Association of Realtors® (NAR). According to the report, members of the silent or greatest generation, those born before 1944, also prefer smaller homes in neighborhoods with easy walks to shops and restaurants.

The “2017 National Community and Transportation Preference Survey,” which polled adults from across the United States about what they are looking for in a community, found that 62 percent of millennials and 55 percent of the silent generation prefer walkable communities and short commutes, even if it means living in an apartment or townhouse.

VARIOUS PREFERENCES

Gen-Xers and baby boomers still show a strong preference toward suburban living, with 55 percent of both groups saying that they have no problem with a longer commute and driving to amenities if it means living in a single-family, detached home.

According to the survey, the majority of Americans, 53 percent, would prefer to live in communities containing houses with small yards but within easy walking distance of the community’s amenities, as opposed to living in communities with houses that have large yards but they have to drive to all amenities. This up from 48 percent in 2015.

However, responders with school-age kids in the home, regardless of their generation, show a greater preference for conventional suburban communities. Sixty percent of all responders with kids in school said they prefer larger homes and yards that require driving, and that number jumps to 63 percent for millennials with kids in school.

QUALITY OF LIFE

The survey also found a majority of Americans, 88 percent, are very or somewhat satisfied with the quality of life in their communities, and 51 percent of those people believe that the walkability of their neighborhood contributes to that quality of life.

The report found that women, particularly young women, prioritize walkability and public transit more than older or younger men. Fifty-four percent of young women said that sidewalks and places to take walks is a very important factor in deciding where to live, and 39 percent said the same about having public transit nearby.

However, when it comes to a short commute to work, youth was a greater indicator of preference than gender; 49 percent of young women and 48 percent of young men said being within a short commute to work was a very important factor in deciding where to live.

While 60 percent of adults surveyed live in detached, single-family homes, 21 percent of those respondents said they would rather live in an attached home and have greater walkability. Sixty percent of those surveyed also said that they would be willing to pay a little or a lot more to live within walking distance of parks, shops and restaurants.

“The latest development projects on Staten Island’s North Shore tie in well with those seeking to embrace the conveniences of a walkable community, particularly with all the additional shopping and dining opportunities destined for the area,” Menicucci said.

TRANSPORTATION OPTIONS

When selecting a new home, respondents indicated that they would like choices when it comes to their community’s transportation options. Eighty-six percent of survey participants said that sidewalks are a positive factor when purchasing a home, and 80 percent place importance on being within easy walking distance of places.

When it comes to respondents’ thoughts on transportation priorities for the government, 73 percent indicated that maintaining and repairing roads and bridges should be a high priority, with expanding roads to help alleviate or reduce congestion as the next highest priority, at 54 percent.

The survey of 3,000 adult Americans living in the 50 largest metropolitan areas was conducted by American Strategies and Meyers Research in September 2017.

 

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