A conversation with Vanessa Saunders, broker of GPS Real Estate, with offices in Piermont, and Gardiner, NY; serving the Lower-Hudson and Mid-Hudson regions of New York, including Rockland, Putnam, Orange, Sullivan, and Westchester Counties in New York, Bergen County in New Jersey and Connecticut.
So would you like to live twenty minutes from the greatest city in the world? Within minutes by car or train from Broadway, Letterman, Times Square, Rockefeller Center, and Yankee Stadium? The hub of finance, culture, sports and international influence in America? But in an area with forests, streams, mountains and views of the Hudson River you can’t get anywhere else? You may want to consider living in Rockland County. It’s a suburban county in the Greater Metro of New York City, located about 12 miles northwest of the George Washington Bridge, a gateway to Manhattan and New York’s five boroughs, and home to the Head Office of GPS real estate (Global Property Systems.)
Known as Rockland for its rocky soil by Dutch and English settlers, the area was discovered by Henry Hudson on his epic journey up the now Hudson River in search of a northwest passage to the Pacific. His quest ended just north of Albany, but made way for settlers to move into the area in the late 1600’s. The area was ripe for settlement because of its fertile lands, plentiful forests and the fact that the local Lenni Lenappi Indians chose to relocate upstate rather than challenge the foreign visitors developing their land.
In the 2000 census, the county’s population density was 1,646 people per square mile (636/km²). There were 94,973 housing units at an average density of 545 per square mile (210/km²). However, residents live closer together than the census numbers indicate, as 30% of the county is reserved as parkland. The area is quite diverse, with 9.17% of residents reported speaking Spanish at home, 4.96% Yiddish, 3.16% French-based Creole, 1.45% Italian, 1.3% Hebrew, 1.17% French, and 1.01% Russian. Rockland is the smallest county in New York State by acreage outside of New York City, and houses approximately 300,000 inhabitants, as per the 2010 census.
There are over 50 parks in this tiny county, from the mighty Harriman SP, being the second largest in the NY State parks system with 31 lakes, and over 200 miles of hiking trails to the Piermont Pier and Marshlands. With over 32,000 acres of pristine parkland and nature reserves, and a large number of lakes and streams, Rockland County boasts some of the most gorgeous scenery in the country. Whether you’re looking to hike, bike, swim, fish, go horseback riding, camp, golf, or play tennis, the parks in Rockland County will suit your needs. There’s even cross-country skiing and ice-skating in the winter! Picnic or paint on the scenic overlooks at Buttermilk Falls Park in West Nyack, or walk around Rockland Lake or along the Hudson and around Hook Mountain.
Rockland also offers a wide variety of sports facilities. There are nine public and private golf courses. Four of Rockland’s five towns have public courses, offering discounted rates for local residents. One of the courses, Spook Rock in Ramapo, was named one of the top 50 public courses in the nation.
The county offers a myriad of other sports activities, including soccer and baseball fields, tennis courts, bocce, and miles of cycling routes and running paths. A spectacular new public soccer, baseball Celtic sports facility opened near the town of Pearl River in Rockland County. Operated by the Rockland County Gaelic Athletic Association, the facility offers several all weather soccer fields and a large field house. The association serves youth athletic leagues and club competitions for area teams.
Rockland Country real estate features scenic lots and gorgeous housing in the heart of small, friendly towns and villages. Rockland County includes five towns and 19 incorporated villages. CNNMoney.com named Clarkstown in 2010 as one of the nation’s best small “cities” in which to live. In 2000, almost three-fourths of the residents of Rockland County owned their own home, with the median home value being $242,500.
Rockland County is a popular community for commuters who work in New York City but who prefer to avoid the pressures of metropolitan life. Travel to Manhattan is quick and easy, either by car on the New York State Thruway or across the Tappan Zee Bridge, by train from the Tarrytown or Pearl River train stations, or by bus. One interesting demographic of commuters to NYC are performing artists and celebrities. Many television, news and Broadway performers live in Rockland for its proximity to New York City’s many stages. They find they can be close to their work, yet enjoy the area’s laid-back lifestyle, away from paparazzi and public exposure. Celebrities who have lived or are currently living in Rockland County include Al Pacino, Steven Baldwin, Bjork, Mikail Baryshnikov, Toni Morrison, Barry Bostwick, Lorraine Bracco, Didi Conn and her husband, composer David Shire, Jonathan Demme, Bill Murray, William Hurt, Rosie O’Donnell, Steven Dunlop and Aidan Quinn. Many celebrities live in Rockland County’s river villages, including Piermont, Nyack, Sneden’s Landing and Palisades.
Rockland County has eight individual school districts and boasts a number of private educational facilities as well. The children here are served by one of the most successful public education systems in the state, with 92% of the county’s students attending an institution of higher learning after graduation.
In Rockland, there are three major hospitals, three psychiatric centers and many other service providers including sanatoriums, hospices and clinics. Hospitals include:
Nyack Hospital is a general medical and surgical hospital located in Nyack, NY. A charitable not-for-profit, 375-bed acute care medical and surgical hospital with a comprehensive diagnosis and treatment of all forms of cancer and a dedicated breast cancer treatment program. It is accredited by the Joint Commission. According to the most recent survey data, 44,109 patients visit the hospital’s emergency room; a total of 13,922 patients are admitted. Its physicians perform 7,914 inpatient and 8,707 outpatient surgeries.
Good Samaritan Hospital, Suffern, NY
The Bon Secours Charity Health System includes three area hospitals:
- Bon Secours Community Hospital, Port Jervis, NY
- Good Samaritan Hospital, Suffern, NY
- St. Anthony Community Hospital, Warwick, NY
Additionally, Bon Secours Charity Health System provides the services of a Certified Home Health Agency, two long-term care facilities, an assisted living and adult home facility, the Active International Cardiac Institute and several other off-site medical programs. Over 1,000 physicians have privileges in the system.
We serve over half a million people in a seven county area of New York, Pennsylvania and New Jersey. With an extensive array of facilities and resources, our system is second to none.
Helen Hayes Hospital, Haverstraw, NY
As one of the country’s first physical rehabilitation facilities, Helen Hayes Hospital is widely recognized as a leader in rehabilitation medicine and research. For over 100 years, we have helped restore function to individuals with catastrophic injuries and chronic disabling illnesses, enabling them to move on to active, productive, independent and fulfilling lives. Its team approach to care challenges patients to reach their goals. The center supports patients with state-of-the-art equipment and technology and provides their families with the compassion and information they need to make recovery a reality.
The New Tappan Zee Bridge Project
Rockland County is planning for a major increase in development following the building of a new Tappan Zee Bridge, projected for completion possibly as soon as 2017. The Tappan Zee connects Rockland with Westchester County and New York thoroughfares, and is a vitallifeline for thousands of commuters each day. This five-year, $5 billion dollar project will replace the sixty two year old span with one that will accommodate the 130,000 vehicles which currently cross it every day. In the plans but yet to be approved is the addition of light rail to the span, joining upstate commuters with current rail travel established along the Hudson to NYC, and making Rockland prime development property for commuters into Manhattan.
New Ways of Finding Buyers for Rockland Properties
Buyers for Rockland properties are not only to be found locally. There may be buyers around, but not just from around here. Our company has found that increasingly, buyers for Rockland County homes come from overseas, either as investors looking for a bargain in American properties, or as relocating executives looking for a place to live. Fortunately, we market to global interests and can provide properties to investors from overseas looking for New York area homes. We also specialize in connecting investors seeking properties qualifying for the federal E-2 AND E-5 visa program. This program awards foreign investors who establish businesses in the United States that bring a threshold number of new American jobs and a specified investment in a property with automatic immigrant green cards.
To reach foreign and regional clients, GPS uses and innovates a constantly evolving stream of social media, business networking and real estate-directed internet communications, to expose our clients worldwide. Selling properties has changed in a phenomenal way in even the last five years. For example, one website we use is www.pinterest.com. Simple in its concept, Pinterest is basically a pin-board for people’s interests. Think of a subject, recipe, photo or hobby, and users can post their ideas to the world. Our Pinterest page features our listings (among many other things), and has garnered an impressive list of followers so far.However team are Certified International Property Specialists (CIPS) and boast membership of FIABCI (The International Federation of Real Estate Professionals), ICREA (The International Consortium of Real Estate Agents) which means that our all of our listings “Go Global” using the powerful international MLS and Global Real Estate Network, PROXIO. This enables us to reach out to international buyers looking to relocate or invest in our area.
But the technology of real estate continues to change. More and more, the traditional forms of marketing – open houses, ads in the newspaper and signs in the office window, have fallen by the wayside. Today, buyers “Google” an area or a neighborhood for potential homes for sale, draw up a short list of a few properties and find an agent competent enough to drive them around to see what’s available. GPS provides the information that buyers demand both locally and internationally. In fact we are able to translate our listing’s websites and narrated virtual tours into 19 different languages!
Words of Wisdom for Sellers
If the three most important things in buying a house are location, location and location, the three most important things in selling are price, price and price. Too low and you lose money. Too high and you lose even MORE money because your house depreciates while it sits unsold in a falling market. (Yes, the market is still falling and will continue to do so for quite some time.)
My words of wisdom are, develop a pricing strategy. Have your real estate agent make a detailed analysis of your market and where your home and neighborhood stand in it. In Realtor-speak, it’s called a Comparative Market Analysis, or CMA. Done properly, this will give you a target price. Commit to it, and agree to revisit your price if it hasn’t had much activity in 30 days. Don’t make the mistake so many homeowners make and go into denial over what they thought they could get rather than what the market really says is a price which will be competitive. Many sellers love their home too much to understand that it’s really just a commodity. They’ve spent money fixing it up. They’ve sweated over maintaining it. If I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard the phrase, “We’re not giving our house away!” I’d be a rich woman.
Your Realtor needs to give you honest feedback from the other Realtors who view the home and from buyers who visit it. If your property has a significant number of showings and online hits, your pricing is probably pretty close. If not, there’s something wrong. And it’s usually the price.
Buyer’s Tips: Home Inspections and How Not to Use Them
Inspections are a straightforward eye-ball examination of structures and systems in a house by an impartial third party professional inspector. They are done for the benefit of the buyer, to find out as much as possible about the condition of the property before closing on it. Typically, inspections are scheduled as soon as contracts go to the lawyers and after the two parties have agreed on a price “subject to inspection.”
Inspections were originally intended to let buyers know what they were getting, warts and all, and allow them to continue with the purchase, or withdraw from the contract without bias, and in most cases, get their deposit back. However, down through the years, buyers have used inspections to leverage concessions from the seller, or to get repairs done at seller’s expense prior to closing. What many people don’t realize is that by requesting
repairs based on the results of an inspection, the buyer is re-negotiating the contract. The request rejects the original contract and introduces a new offer. (The contract changes from: “I’ll buy this house on the agreed-upon price,” to the new: “I’ll buy this house on the agreed-upon price IF you fix “A”). What buyers fail to understand is that when they do that, the seller doesn’t have to accept the new offer and can decide not to sell it to the buyer making the offer. So use your inspection as a tool for finding and examining all the warts, not a tool for negotiation. In most situations, buyers should demand concessions only if they represent a deal breaker.
Me and My GPS
I am Vanesssa Saunders, the CEO and Broker of Global Property Systems Real Estate. Mybackground of over 25 years in global marketing offers our clients a sound business model. I have a Masters Degree in Business Administration and another in International Mass Communications, with certificates from the Harvard School of Business in Conflict Resolution and Contract Negotiation. I hold the coveted CIPS (Certified International Property Specialist) designation and am a member of FIABCI (The International Federation of Real Estate Brokers.) Some of my other real estate designations include Corporate Relocation Specialist, Luxury Property Specialist and Historic Homes Specialist.
Before real estate, I was a Fortune 500 corporate senior executive with companies that included British Airways, The George P. Johnson Group, and The World Trade Center Association. I have lived on 4 continents as I was constantly relocated worldwide, and relied heavily on the expertise of Realtors to help make educated real estate decisions. When my office at the World Trade Center was destroyed in 2001, my husband insisted that I change my career. For me, it was an easy decision to enter the world of real estate. After all, I knew first-hand what a difference a good Realtor makes when buying or selling, and even more so when purchasing overseas. Assisting clients relocate to the area comes naturally to me.
After 10 years with large corporate agencies, I learned that to stand out from the crowd, it was necessary to go into business as a broker myself in order to provide the additional services and true global marketing it takes to ensure client satisfaction in difficult market conditions.
GPS real estate was born of the necessity to widen the buyer pool when the American market became so challenging and well qualified buyers became a scarcity. GPS specializes in international marketing, and I can now say that over 80% of our listings sell to global investors and overseas buyers. It’s a great niche in this difficult marketplace. Our clients benefit from a team of multi-lingual real estate, internet and marketing professionals who work together to provide exceptional services for our sellers by marketing our listings locally, nationally and globally.
GPS real estate’s experienced relocation specialists work diligently with buyers to find the homes and locations that they desire. Because we are used to assisting buyers from all over the world, our team is adept at matching the right homes to a buyer’s requirements. The GPS team takes pride in not just finding the right property, but in ensuring that buyers are fully acclimated to the town or village they choose.
Our commercial division services mostly investment properties including income producing properties, development sites and or bulk purchase opportunities ideal for EB-5 & EB-2 visa applicants.
GPS real estate offers a personal and experienced touch, which neither the corporate real estate conglomerates, nor smaller real estate companies are able to offer. Our clients are accustomed to the highest level of service and professionalism, and with over decades of combined experience in every sector of the real estate industry, we confidentially provide the smartest and most technologically advanced platform to serve your real estate needs.
Need more information? Get in touch with Vanessa today.