Could You Be Losing Money On The Sale Of Your Brooklyn Home?

September 30th, 2015
sale of your Brooklyn home

Don’t lose money on the sale of your Brooklyn home. Hire Brooklyn’s best – real estate agent, Charles D’Alessandro of Fillmore Real Estate!

Today’s real estate market is competitive. Houses are selling quickly. Some Real Estate Agents or Brokers are even taking offers before a house hits the real estate market! If your Brooklyn Real Estate Agent or Broker isn’t doing all they can for you, you could be losing money on the sale of your Brooklyn home.

The real estate market today is a seller’s market. This means there are more buyers than there are homes to buy. This also means competition, and the competition is fierce! It is imperative that you hire a Real Estate Agent or Broker you can trust to represent you well or risk losing money on the sale of your Brooklyn home.

Let’s put your Real Estate Agent or Broker you’ve hired to a test of quality. Ask yourself these questions:

  • Is your Real Estate Agent or Broker skilled, knowledgeable and experienced in the Brooklyn real estate market?
  • What do clients to say about your Real Estate Agent or Broker?
  • Has your Real Estate Agent or Broker received great testimonials from happy clients?
  • Have you read past Buyers’ and Sellers’ reviews about your Real Estate Agent or Broker? What are those reviews saying?
  • Does your Real Estate Agent’s or Broker’s track record show they act on behalf of and in their clients’ BEST interest?
  • What is your Real Estate Agent or Broker doing?
  • Is your Real Estate Agent or Broker marketing your property correctly?
  • Are they taking professional photos to market your property well?
  • Are they playing nice with others?
  • Does your Real Estate Agent or Broker spell out what they are going to do for you and the sale of your Brooklyn home and follow through with those carefully laid out plans?
  • Do you understand those strategic plans and the process of selling your Brooklyn home?
  • Has your Real Estate Agent or Broker thoroughly explained the changes in the closing process? Do you understand what is going on in the closing process?
  • Is your Real Estate Agent or Broker doing EVERYTHING they said they would?
  • Are you getting the most you can out of the sale of your house in today’s competitive market?
  • Is your Real Estate Agent or Broker proactive?
  • Are they doing all they can to get your house the proper exposure for the price you deserve?
  • Is your home being exposed to as many Buyers as possible?
  • Are other Real Estate Agents or Brokers showing your home?
  • Is your home getting lots of exposure before receiving offers?
  • Are you being proactive with your Real Estate Agent or Broker?

You trust that the Real Estate Agent or Broker you hired is proactively working for you and the sale of your Brooklyn home. This is the reason you are paying a higher commission. You deserve to get the most out of the sale of your home.

Take a look at your listing once it is up on the Brooklyn real estate market to see what Buyers are seeing. Don’t be timid. If you think your home isn’t represented correctly, make changes. If your Real Estate Agent or Broker isn’t doing all they can for you and the sale of your home for the price you deserve, you are at risk for losing money on the sale of your Brooklyn home.

Wake up. Pay attention. Be proactive. Don’t sell yourself short. Get the well-deserved value of your home, the most “bang for your buck”!  You don’t deserve to lose any money on the sale of your Brooklyn home.

There are a lot of knowledgeable and well-educated Real Estate Agents and Brokers out there who can get top dollar for your home. Charles D’Alessandro is one of those real estate agents. Contact Charles D’Alessandro Your Brooklyn real estate agent with Fillmore Real Estate. Call (718) 253-9600 ext 206 or email [email protected] today. With over 27 years of experience and expertise in Brooklyn, you can be confident about your best representation on the sale of your Brooklyn home.

Book Selling Your Home Does Not Have To Be Stressful Michael S ReinhardtThe sale of your Brooklyn home does NOT need to be stressful. Brooklyn attorney Michael S. Reinhardt, Esq. wrote the book “Selling Your Home Does Not Have To Be Stressful” to help sellers with the sale of their home. Contact me for your free copy!

How To Cultivate A Sense Of Community in Brooklyn

September 15th, 2015
sense of community

Every neighbor, local official, service club and religious organization must do their part to cultivate a strong sense of community in Brooklyn.

“Civic pride is taking responsibility to do the ‘little’ things that make a ‘big’ difference.” – Jane Kampbell

Cultivating a sense of community in Brooklyn is necessary for the quality of life we deserve. Every Brooklynite – neighbors, local officials, service clubs, religious organizations – must do their part to cultivate a strong sense of community in Brooklyn. But first we must understand what a sense of community is.

What is a sense of community?

A sense of community is NOT a collection of buildings and streets in a particular area. A sense of community:

  • Is the feeling of belonging to something bigger than yourself or your family
  • Connects people to each other
  • Is people building each other up
  • Is people supporting each other in good times and in bad

Why should we cultivate a sense of community in Brooklyn?

It is critical to Brooklyn’s future success. When we feel a strong sense of community, we are driven to take action. We desire to take part in improving or supporting the well-being of our community. Those who see a sense of community happening are compelled to do the same. Community improvement and self-sufficiency become contagious. Momentum is created. This brings us together as a community and makes us proud to live, work and play in Brooklyn.

A strong sense of community:

  • attracts new investment in our community and local economy. It keeps local businesses in business.
  • discourages litter, graffiti and criminal activity. It increases the property values of homes and businesses.
  • helps support our education system
  • encourages volunteering and personal responsibility

A community with a strong sense of community believes in itself. It is able to rise above and overcome challenges through the strength and support of its people. A community without a strong sense of community depends on others to take care of its needs. A strong sense of community in Brooklyn is essential for:

  • clean and safe streets and neighborhoods
  • support for local businesses
  • vital community organizations
  • fruitful educational opportunities
  • low crime

How is a sense of community cultivated?

A sense of community in Brooklyn won’t just happen. It must be cultivated or nurtured to make a difference in our Brooklyn community now and in the future. Children, too, must be taught to take pride in their Brooklyn community. A sense of community can be cultivated in the following ways:

  • Take personal responsibility to do simple things such as sweeping walks and picking up trash in your neighborhood
  • Take responsibility for the well-being of your neighbors as well as yourself
  • Keep your home and/or business clean and in good repair. Well-maintained neighborhoods are attractive and inviting for children and families.
  • Keep our Brooklyn streets, sidewalks, paths and parks free of damage and ruin. Discourage litter, graffiti and vandalism.
  • Support local businesses in Brooklyn
  • Participate in local organizations and community events such as dinners, dances, festivals, school functions, service clubs, churches, chamber of commerce, etc.
  • Clear Brooklyn’s vacant lots of trash and debris
  • Work to prevent crime
  • Get involved in the preservation of Brooklyn’s historic sites and scenic areas
  • Volunteer to serve in the education of our students
  • Grow and maintain a garden (How To Grow A Garden In Brooklyn)
  • Appreciate and support local agriculture
  • Emphasize individual responsibility and community solutions
  • Encourage volunteering in schools, churches and community groups
  • Start a “yard-of-the-month” program with local media in Brooklyn
  • Recognize and reward those who do good deeds in our Brooklyn community
  • Promote residents to shop at local businesses and use local services
  • Use volunteer groups for projects that will benefit the beauty and cleanliness of our Brooklyn community
  • Reach out to and encourage commuters to participate in their Brooklyn community and to shop locally
  • Host and share information for clean-up days and volunteer activities
  • Set strong but fair standards for our Brooklyn neighborhoods and stores
  • Host annual clean-up days to give Brooklynites a regular opportunity to rid homes and yards of junk and debris

Cultivating a strong sense of community must start with you. Make the best of what you have. Keep your yard clean and orderly. Paint and touch up your home and/or business. Keep your yard mowed. These are simple ways to begin displaying and building a sense of community in Brooklyn.

If you’d like more information or ideas on how you can cultivate a sense of community in Brooklyn, call Charles D’Alessandro at (718) 253-9700 ext. 206 or email [email protected]. Charles D’Alessandro of Fillmore Real Estate in Brooklyn is proud to live, work and play in Brooklyn.


4 Big Changes For “0” Surprises On Closing Day In Brooklyn

August 31st, 2015

Changes for an easier closing process are coming!

Changes to the new Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA) and Truth in Lending Act (TILA) will take effect October 3, 2015. What does this mean to today’s home buyer?

During the housing market crisis, millions of home buyers took on complicated mortgages without understanding them. Many lost their homes in short sales or foreclosure as a result. The U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is imposing changes to address these problems. It is their desire to improve the home buyer’s understanding of the mortgage process in order to help prevent the loss of homes to short sales or foreclosure for home buyers. The changes imposed on the closing process will be significant.

Key highlights of the changes as of October 3, 2015:

2 New Forms

The Good Faith Estimate, Truth-In-Lending Document and HUD-1 Settlement Statement will be replaced as part of the changes established by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) in accordance with the Dodd-Frank Act. Home buyers will see two new forms: loan estimate form and closing disclosure form.

The new loan estimate form:

  • Shorter
  • Summarizes the terms of a mortgage
  • Estimates loan fees and closing costs
  • Clearly states the loan terms and estimated closing costs
  • Explains what the loan terms and estimated closing costs are
  • More user-friendly

The closing disclosure form:

  • Shorter
  • More user-friendly
  • Easier to read
  • Provides a detailed account of the whole real estate transaction, from beginning to end, including loan terms, fees and closing costs

The new documents are designed to make comparing loan options and understanding changes that may occur between the time they applied for a loan and the settlement easier for home buyers.

This is a dramatic and significant change to the old way transactions have been handled. Again, the CFPB’s goal is to make closing easier for home buyers. Make It Easier for Consumers

New 3-Day Rule

Home buyers applying for a home loan after October 3, 2015, will be given three days to review paperwork and ask questions instead of rushing through closing without understanding what is going on in the closing process. This rule is a good one. It is the biggest change to mortgage closings and will have the greatest impact on home buyers.

The 3-day rule gives borrowers ample opportunity to thoroughly read the loan terms and closing documents and avoid surprises at the closing table. If they don’t understand something, they will have plenty of time to call their real estate agent, lender or title company and ask for an explanation.

  • Lenders must provide a loan estimate to borrowers within three business days after they apply for a mortgage.
  • Lenders must provide a closing document three business days prior to closing.

While an official loan estimate is only generated after a loan application for a specific property is made, lenders can generate a “fees worksheet” or similar document to help borrowers prepare for their cash needs at the closing during a preapproval process.

Requiring lenders to provide a loan estimate to borrowers within three business days after they apply for a mortgage redefines what goes into a loan application. A loan application requires the borrowers’ names, the borrowers’ income, the borrowers’ Social Security number, the property address, the estimated value of the property and the loan amount. Once the lender has that information, they have three business days to generate a loan estimate. Then the borrowers must sign an Intent To Proceed form to start the normal underwriting process.

Lenders cannot charge any fees except for a credit report and cannot require verification of any information from the borrowers before a loan estimate is generated and the Intent to Proceed form is signed.

Nothing else can be done and no other fees can be charged until the borrowers sign that Intent To Proceed form. The consumers can shop around during that 10-day period for other loans and use the loan estimate form as a comparison tool.

The new CFPB rule requirements will cause lenders and title companies to work in coordination with each other even though lenders are ultimately held responsible for meeting the standards of the regulation.

Until October 3, 2015, title companies prepared and delivered closing documents to borrowers. Now lenders are being held responsible for meeting the deadline. Lenders are typically taking on the preparation themselves.

These changes should be great for home buyers. They are going to make home buyers feel more confident about understanding their loan terms. However, while the responsibility of implementing these changes falls on lenders and title companies, consumers should be prepared for possible delays. Delays in settlements are to be expected until hiccups are worked out. Home buyers can take the following steps to avoid settlement delays:

  • Be aware of the big changes that will take effect October 3, 2015
  • Work with a lender and a title company who are well aware of and knowledgeable of the big changes
  • Realize what a great opportunity these big changes are for today’s home buyer. They are providing plenty of time to read and understand loan terms and closing documents
  • Review documents right away
  • Compare documents to the loan estimate. Make sure they match. Catching errors soon will help avoid significant delays in the closing process
  • Ask questions. Rely on the lender and real estate agent for help with understanding the documents

Here’s one more thing to consider regarding title insurance. Protecting the equity in a property is important. Title insurance protects the lender in case of a title dispute in the future. Homeowners are usually advised to purchase their own title insurance for protection of the investment they have in their home.

The new forms shared by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners and title companies use the term “optional” in reference to the purchase of owner’s title insurance. See this example. Purchasing title insurance has always been optional, but some fear putting “optional” right on the disclosure form may encourage consumers to disregard and pass over it.

Some believe stating “recommended but optional” on the new forms would better encourage consumers to purchase title insurance.

Purchasing a home is the largest transaction in a person’s lifetime, both emotionally and financially. It’s important that consumers educate themselves on the home-buying process. Visit the CFPB site and learn as much as possible about these big changes coming to the closing process on October 3, 2015.

Feel free to contact Charles D’Alessandro, your Brooklyn Real Estate Agent of Fillmore Real Estate in Brooklyn. Get answers to the questions you may have regarding these big changes coming to the closing process on October 3, 2015. Call (718) 253-9700 ext. 206 or email [email protected].


How To Win A Great Home In A Sellers Market In Brooklyn

August 15th, 2015
sellers market in Brooklyn

You can win a great home in a sellers market in Brooklyn!

It’s a sellers market in Brooklyn. What does that mean?

  • there are more buyers than there are sellers
  • finding a single-family home can be difficult for the home buyer
  • great homes sell quickly, just days after listing
  • bidding wars
  • sellers are getting more than their asking price and receiving multiple bids, too
  • home prices increase as time passes by

If you’ve been shopping for a new home in today’s sellers market in Brooklyn, you probably know just how difficult it can be to win a great home. Try these 7 things to win a great home in a sellers market in Brooklyn:

  1. Look at things from the sellers’ perspective.

    To win a great home in a sellers market in Brooklyn, you must appeal to sellers. It helps to look at things from a sellers’ perspective.

  • Sellers are spending a lot of money for two real estate agents and closing costs. If another potential buyer has already offered a bid on a great home, don’t offer a lower bid. You won’t appeal to the sellers with anything less than what has already been offered. Give the sellers a fair bid right away.
  • If you’re missing out on great homes because they sell quickly, start looking at homes that have been on the sellers market in Brooklyn for a month or longer. Homes that have been overpriced won’t receive many bids if any. This frustrates sellers. They will be willing to take less than their home is worth and begin dropping the price. This is the time to put in a fair bid!
  • Most sellers will choose the bid that will close the quickest, especially if their home is vacant. When a home is vacant, it’s costly to sellers. They are still paying a mortgage and spending money to move and rent or buy another home.
  • Mortgage brokers can close the offer on a home in 2 or 3 weeks. Banks take 4 to 6 weeks. Let the sellers know that you can close faster than everyone else who is bidding on their home. After you place your bid, have your mortgage broker call the sellers and tell them you can close in 2 or 3 weeks.
  • If the home is not vacant, your Brooklyn real estate agent should ask the sellers when they would like to move. Set the closing date for when the sellers would like to move. Sellers want to move conveniently on their schedule. If it will make the sellers’ move easier, offer to rent the home to them for a few weeks.
  • Consider writing an escalation clause into the contract, but be careful. It can turn around and bite you! Some real estate agents will reject your bid and counter it with your highest stated bid. An escalation clause states that you will pay X number of dollars over the highest bid up to a maximum of X number of dollars if proof of the highest bid is shown.
  1. Show sellers you are serious about your bid on their home.

    Sellers don’t want to deal with glitches or hang-ups when closing on their home. They dread having to pay out-of-pocket to fix a lot after inspections have taken place. Show the seller you are serious about your bid. Choose to opt out of the contingency that states the buyer can have an inspection done and back out of contract for any reason during the inspection period and get their earnest money (or deposit) returned. This shows the seller that you are serious about your bid, because you can lose your earnest money if you back out of the contract. If you do choose to opt out of this contingency, make sure you add this, or something similar, in the contract: “if cumulative repairs are over X number of dollars, the potential buyer may still back out if the seller doesn’t do the repairs.” Give the sellers peace of mind in exchange for a lower price.

  1. Send an approval letter with your bid on a home in a sellers market in Brooklyn.

    A pre-approval or pre-qualification letter states that you can get a loan. An approval means you have already been approved for a loan. All you need is an address to on the loan.

    It’s best to work with a mortgage broker on the following since most banks won’t do this for you. Have your lender send an approval letter with your bid to the sellers. This approval letter should have already gone through the underwriting process. Don’t send a pre-approval letter or worse yet, a pre-qualified letter, with your bid to the sellers. This will not appeal to the sellers. Instead, put in a bid and have your mortgage broker call the sellers’ real estate agent. Your mortgage broker should tell the sellers’ real estate agent that you have already been approved and explain why that benefits the sellers.

  1. Put more money down on the home.

    A larger deposit or escrow money shows you have more to lose if you back out of the contract. It shows the sellers you are a serious buyer. If you don’t back out of the contract, you’ll get back all that is in escrow.

  1. Pay cash for everything.

    An all-cash bid in a sellers market in Brooklyn is very appealing to sellers. Most will go with an all-cash bid over even the highest bidder. All-cash buyers appear serious because they have more to lose. Cash buyers are able to close a deal in two weeks, which makes them even more appealing to sellers. A good mortgage broker and an approval letter let a seller know you can close in two weeks.

  1. Make your desire to purchase a seller’s home personal.

    If you’re just numbers on paper, then you’ll have to be the biggest numbers on paper to win a great home. Write a letter to the sellers. Tell them how much you love their home. Tell them how their home will benefit you and your family to live there. Everyone enjoys feeling like they are helping someone. Sellers want to feel good about the next family moving into their home.

    Here’s an extra-special gesture to help you win a great home in a sellers market in Brooklyn. Have your real estate agent ask the sellers an open question about what they want. You’re looking for something important that will help the sellers and increase your chances of winning the bidding war on their home. What seller wouldn’t want to work with a buyer who cared enough to ask and make changes that would help them? One question could help you win a great home and make the sellers happy you asked.

  1. Find homes before they hit the sellers market in Brooklyn.

    If you can find homes before they hit the market, you’ll save yourself time and money.

  • Drive around neighborhoods in areas you are interested in living. Look for large remodels or construction on existing homes. They may be getting ready to list their home for sale. You may be able to save some money by buying that home early.
  • Ask your real estate agent to send cards to owners who have lived in their homes for 7 to 10 years in an area you are interested in living. Ask if they are interested in selling. Your lender’s contact information should be listed on the cards. Owners who are interested in selling will be able to call your lender and verify that you are a real buyer.
  • Ask your real estate agent to email other agents they work with to see if they have any homes coming up that you might be able to see before other buyers.

No, you don’t have to pay the highest price to win a great home in a sellers market in Brooklyn, although it helps. Just try these 7 things when shopping today’s sellers market in Brooklyn and win YOUR great home!

Time is money. Get the help of Charles D’Alessandro. He has over 25 years of experience and is active in the Brooklyn real estate market. He knows how to help you win a great home in a sellers market in Brooklyn. Contact Charles D’Alessandro of Fillmore Real Estate in Brooklyn at (718) 253-9700 ext. 206 or [email protected].


16 Amazing Day Trips To Take Around Brooklyn

July 30th, 2015
day trips

Amazing day trips around Brooklyn! Enjoy one this summer!

Welcome to sum-, sum-, summertime in Brooklyn! There are about four weeks left of summertime in Brooklyn before the start of another school year. If you’re tired of roasting subway platforms, reeking rubbish and raucous window units, it’s time to get out of town! Take a break from hot, smelly and noisy. Ahhhh, day trips! No planning necessary. Just get in the car (or not), and go!

Here are 16 amazing day trips and activities to choose from:

  1. Beacon, NY – Dia: Beacon is a 300,000 square-foot art museum. This building used to be a Nabisco factory and is located 59 miles north. It is a delight for the contemporary art enthusiast. If and when you get overwhelmed with its grandness, take a break and grab something yummy at Homespun Foods.
  2. Bear Mountain, NY – Bear Mountain Park is full of activities for every age. There are hiking trails, a carousel, a swimming pool, a zoo, refreshment stands and picnic areas just 45 miles from NYC in the Hudson Highlands.
  3. Brooklyn Bridge Park Brooklyn Bridge Park is a world-class, 85‐acre sustainable waterfront park, and it’s right around the corner! Located at 334 Furman Street, it stretches 1.3 miles along Brooklyn’s East River shoreline, melding seamlessly into DUMBO. Parking is very limited. It’s highly recommended that you get there by subway, bus, ferry, walking or biking.
  4. City Island – Charter a boat, go fishing, eat delicious seafood by the water or tour the Nautical Museum on the island. City Island is very close to The Bronx, but it feels far away from everything. Visit the local Chamber of Commerce for the best guide on what to do here.
  5. Cold Spring On Hudson, NY – The town of Cold Spring On Hudson is located about 80 minutes north. Here you can hike Mt. Taurus and take a stroll in the Boscobel Gardens to view the Hudson in all of its splendor. Hiking works up an appetite, so be sure to stop by and enjoy farm-to-table French fare at Brasserie Le Bouchon.
  6. Coney Island – The one and only Coney Island comes packed with new restaurants, like Wahlburger’s on the boardwalk and its classics: Nathan’s Famous, Beach and Boardwalk, Brooklyn Cyclones, Deno’s Wonder Wheel Amusement Park, Luna Park and its Coney Island Cyclone, New York Aquarium.
  7. DUMBO – Raw and charming, DUMBO is Brooklyn’s most buzz-worthy neighborhood. The Manhattan and Brooklyn bridges define its borders. Walk, ride a Citi Bike, take a train or enjoy the glamorous East River Ferry to reach this day trip right here in Brooklyn. Included amenities ABOUND! Stop in for yum at the best eats in DUMBO – Noodle Pudding and Grimaldi’s.
  8. Fort Tilden Beach, Queens – This day trip calls for quiet! Fort Tilden Beach is an island located off of Queens. It used to be an Army base. It’s a very long walk away from the A train and is easiest to reach by bike. There are no lifeguards, snackbars or bathrooms at this beach. Pack it in and pack it out.
  9. Freeport, Long Island – Like to fish, do you? If so, Freeport, Long Island is the day trip for you. Reserve a seat on Captain Lou’s vessel. He knows which fish are biting and the best bait to use to catch them, hook, line and sinker!
  10. Governors Island – Get on a ferry for a quick ride in New York Harbor. Head on over to Governors Island for picnicking, bike riding, eating ice cream, lying in the grass and taking in the views. Little Eva’s opened recently. Have you been there yet?
  11. Mountainville, NY – Storm King Art Center is 500 acres of modern sculptures located an hour north in Mountainville, New York. Picnicking is permitted on the grounds, so bring your basket.
  12. New Haven, CT – There are lots of activities to enjoy in New Haven, Connecticut, just 90 minutes away. Take a cruise on Captain Bob’s 45-minute Thimble Islands cruise. Purchase everything you’ll need for a picnic from Caseus or enjoy a panini there. Watch a play at Long Wharf or Yale Rep Theatre. Eat dinner at Union League Café.
  13. Rockaway Beach, Queens – You can ride Rockaway’s own ferry from lower Manhattan to this hot spot. Rockaway is basically the Brooklyn Flea at the beach. If you’re hungry, Rockaway Beach Club offers artisan food from around 20 vendors on the boardwalk.
  14. Short Hills, NJ – A day trip full of the best people watching ever at The Mall at Short Hills might be just what you need in a getaway. It won’t take much time to get there from New York either. Air conditioning and free parking are nearby! Shop everything from Chanel to Forever 21, and grab a bite to eat at the Ritz Diner on your way home. An out-of-this-world brisket-on-latke sandwich is suggested.
  15. Smorgasburg, Brooklyn – Notice to foodies: try this gastronomic pop-up phenomenon known as Smorgasburg. This is a weekly event that begins in the spring and ends at Thanksgiving. From hot dog maker to popsicle company there are some 100 food vendors to tempt your taste buds. Smorgasburg is held at Pier 5 in Brooklyn Bridge Park.
  16. Warwick, NY – About 75 minutes from the GW Bridge, summer and living are easy at the Warwick Valley Winery & Distillery. How does wine, draft cider or gin (you pick your poison), a brick-oven pizza and sunshine on the patio sound? Top this day trip off with a movie at the Warwick Drive-In before you drive on home.

You don’t need to own a summer house to escape the concrete jungle for day trips and activities. Your sanity can be saved and your spirit refreshed with one of many day trips and activities around Brooklyn.

Are you are looking for a summer house to buy? Would like a few more tips on day trips and activities around Brooklyn? Contact me, your Brooklyn real estate agent with Fillmore Real Estate, Charles D’Alessandro. Reach me at (718) 253-9600 ext 206 or email [email protected]. With over 27 years of real estate experience, I can help you find the perfect summer house to buy or the best day trips and activities around Brooklyn. Enjoy what’s left of your summer!


10 Smart Home Improvement Projects For Your Brooklyn Home

July 15th, 2015
home improvement projects

Smart home improvement projects that will add value to your home

You’ve decided. It’s a great time to sell, and you’re going to list your Brooklyn home. You know your home could use a few upgrades, but which home improvement projects will add value to your Brooklyn home? Which home improvement projects will make your home appealing to buyers? Be a smart seller. Use one or all 10 of these home improvement projects to add value and appeal to your home. Best Home Improvements

Home Improvement Projects #1 – Create Open Space In Your Home

Create spaciousness and a sense of flow in your home. Homebuyers respond well to open floor plans. So go ahead. Take down that non-structural wall between the kitchen and the living room. Create a big space that allows people to be together.

Links to help you get it done

Home Improvement Projects #2 – Landscape Your Yard

Landscaping could make a significant difference in the price of your home. It is one of the top three smart home improvements that bring the biggest return on investment. It could very well be the most important home improvement investment a seller can make. According to a survey conducted by HomeGain, an investment in landscaping can bring a return of four times what you investment in it originally.

Links to help you get it done

Home Improvement Projects #3 – Let The Sun Shine Into Your Home

Enhance your home’s appeal to buyers with light and lots of it.

  • Create moods with dimmer switches
  • Add warmth to empty spaces with soft lighting
  • Make small spaces appear larger with high wattage bulbs
  • Fix broken panes
  • Make certain each window opens and closes
  • Add motion-sensor lights that turn themselves off

Links to help you get it done

Home Improvement Projects #4 – Address Home Repairs and Maintenance Now

  • How’s the insulation in the attic?
  • Does your home need plumbing leaks repaired?
  • Are the rain gutters rusty and bent?
  • Have you had the furnace and septic system inspected lately?
  • Do your windows need to be replaced or repaired for leaks?
  • What kind of shape are your storm doors in? Do you even have storm doors?
  • Has the flower garden been weeded?

Investing in home repairs and maintenance is smart, because it could be crucial to the sale of your home. Homes that get buyer attention are in tip top shape. Address basic home repairs and maintenance now before investing in that kitchen upgrade. These simple home improvement projects don’t cost much, but they add a lot of value. Two or three hundred dollars invested here could add a few thousand dollars’ worth of value to your home.

Links to help you get it done

Home Improvement Projects #5 – Go Green To Save Green

Buyers ask about the cost of utilities. If you’ve invested in and taken care of the home repairs and maintenance in #4, it’s time to think about investing in green efficiency. It’s been reported that energy savings add twenty times their yearly savings to the value of your home. For example, investing in new heating or air conditioning systems can save up to 30 and 40% of what your old systems are costing each month. You could invest around $7,000 in a solar-powered water heater, get back $2,100 in green tax credits and save as much as 80% on your water-heating bills!

Links to help you get it done

Home Improvement Projects #6 – Welcome People To Your Home With Impressive Curb Appeal

There’s power in your front door, and you have eight seconds to use it. You’ve got eight seconds to impress potential buyers with the curb appeal of your front door or porch. Make sure your porch has an awning or overhang to protect you from the weather while you’re fumbling for the key to your front door. Then, step back onto the sidewalk in front of your house and look at your front door through a buyer’s eyes. Or take a picture of the front of your house. See anything that needs to be repaired or enhanced? What would it look like with a flower box or two?

But don’t forget about the curb appeal of your back yard. A deck, even a small one, will add value to your home in the buyer’s eyes. You’ll get back dollar for dollar with the deck you put in as long as the right material is used.

Links to help you get it done

Home Improvement Projects #7 – Spend Some Money On Your Floors

It doesn’t have to cost a lot of money, but 94% of real estate pros recommend spending some money on flooring. To give you an idea, investing an average of $600 to $900 on flooring could bring an estimated $2,000 in value to your home.

Fix those creaking boards, too. Well-placed nails, repairing broken tile, patching damaged floor boards and getting rid of wall-to-wall carpeting doesn’t cost much for the huge impact it can make on potential buyers.

FYI, homes with a mixture of flooring – carpet, tile and hardwood, are appealing to today’s home buyer. Waterproof flooring at each entrance is smart flooring upgrade.

Links to help you get it done

Home Improvement Projects #8 – Spiffy Up The Kitchen And The Bathroom

Adding value to your home is a sure bet when you spiffy up the kitchen and bath. Ask any broker. They’ll tell you the condition of the kitchen is tops with buyers. The condition of the bathroom is a close second.

Most kitchen and bath upgrades are costly. You may not want to invest as much as an upgrade could take since you want to list your home right away. However, some bathroom upgrades may only cost about $500 to take a bathroom from “ugh” to “AWESOME!” Consider these spiffy upgrades:

  • Replace clear glass with frosted glass
  • Clean the grout
  • Remove rust stains
  • Apply fresh caulk
  • Update doorknobs and cabinet pulls
  • Replace faucets
  • Install a low-flush toilet
  • Buy a new toilet seat

Links to help you get it done

Home Improvement Projects #9 – Paint Neutral Colors On Your Walls

Since you’re listing your home, walk through your home and look for chipped paint. If you find any chips, pull out the plaster and paint and take care of it now. If more than touch ups are needed, go with neutral paint colors on your walls. Potential buyers want to see themselves in your home. Neutral paint on those walls will help them be able to do this a little easier.

Links to help you get it done

Home Improvement Projects #10 – Fix It Or Remove It From Your Home

If anything causes a potential buyer to ask, “What’s that,” fix it or remove it, and do so before they ask. Things like 1980’s wallpaper, a broken front step, a cracked threshold, pink and grey vinyl flooring are huge deterrents to potential home buyers. If you need help, ask a friend for their impartial advice on what needs to be fixed or removed. Then, get it fixed or removed pronto.

Links to help you get it done

Bonus – Get The Help Of A Trusted Professional

Get the help of real estate agent Charles D’Alessandro. It’s a sellers’ market, but you need his experience to get your home sold quickly. He is active in the Brooklyn real estate market and has handled many transactions. He is familiar with terms and conditions of individual home sales beyond the prices published for those home sales. He knows how to market Brooklyn homes, negotiate and close transactions. He can provide all the assistance you need in listing your home and for the best price. Call him today.

Links to help you get your home sold

  • Contact Charles Through His Website
  • Call Him At The Office: (718) 253-9700 ext. 206
  • Email Him At: [email protected]


Is It Time To Relocate?

June 30th, 2015
Time to Relocate

Is it time to relocate in Brooklyn or someplace new?

Is it time to relocate? It’s always a good idea to think through a major change, such as a move, before listing your home. So, before you pack your dishes and silverware, consider all your options to find out if relocating is right for you.

Is it time to relocate, or are you just restless?

Does the “grass seem greener on the other side”? To find out if it is truly time to relocate, sit down and make a list. Write down everything you love about where you are currently living. List all that you would truly miss if you moved: the community group activities you are involved in, the neighbors who are always there for you when you need help with something, your church family, family who lives close by, someone who you take care of. If you really give it some thought, you’ll write down things that are unique to your city, town or community, too. Things such as the historic hotel that serves the best meals for miles around, your favorite bakery and coffee shop that are within walking distance, the deli that knows what you’ll order when you walk through their door, because you always order the same favorite items. These “little things” matter more than you may realize.

Is it time to relocate because you don’t like your present circumstances?

Think things will be better somewhere else? Choosing to relocate because your current job or a current relationship has “gone south” should be reconsidered. Look at whether or not relocating would honestly solve either situation. Instead of choosing to make a major change like relocating to fix a bad job or bad relationship, try finding a new job, starting a new career or spending time with a new group of people instead. This could solve your present circumstances without the major change of moving. It may not really be time to relocate.

If it is time to relocate, what will change?

It’s time to sit down and make another list. Make a list of the positive things that the new city, town or community has to offer. Compare these positive factors with the list of everything you love about where you are currently living. Will a larger or smaller city, safer neighborhood, better cost-of-living, better schools, better weather, more access to outdoor recreation, etc. be preferred over all that you enjoy where you currently live? Now, for the new city, town or community, rank, in order, what is most important to you and your family, number 1 being most important. Does where you are currently living already offer what is important to you and your family? Look at what your life might be like one, five or even ten years down the road with or without a move. Relocating is a major change that requires long-term planning. It requires commitment, energy, patience and financial resources as well. Your family might be better off physically, emotionally and spiritually if you delay moving. Perhaps you could better afford relocating in a few more years. There are a lot of changes that must be considered to determine whether or not it is time to relocate or stay put.

If it is time to relocate, can you afford to move?

Now it’s time to move from the emotional side of relocating to take a look at the practical side. If it is truly time to relocate, it is time to plan. It’s important to be financially prepared before a move.

  • Develop a budget. Look at how much you have to spend.
  • Research and estimate all moving costs. It’s best to overestimate to be better prepared.
    • Movers (Get estimates from at least two or three moving companies. Should you hire movers? Find helpful tips here: Hire or not )
    • Costs for driving to the new location
    • Costs for flying to your new location
    • Price of renters insurance, homeowners insurance and auto insurance
    • Property and income taxes
    • Price of housing
    • Monthly average for utilities and hook-up costs
    • Accommodation and storage costs (while shopping for your new house)
    • Food, taxis, parking and even the time it will take (while you look for a new place)
  • Know what help you’ll receive financially.
  • Don’t overspend. Play it safely and securely! Do not deviate from your budget!

Learning about relocation costs and the costs unique to the new area will help you when creating a budget. It is wise to plug these costs and figures into a spreadsheet so that you know where you stand financially. You’ll clearly see what you can afford and how to develop a budget to stick to. You’ll also see what you have to work with in order to keep from overspending. Budgets help you prioritize!

You can never be 100% sure whether or not it is time to relocate, but you can be confident about moving (or not) with good planning. Determine your priorities and create a spreadsheet. If you’re retired, you might want to take a 3 to 6-month vacation in the area you plan to move to in order to “give it a try.”  Visit Best Places to Reinvent Yourself for some helpful tips.

When you know the costs of relocating, you know the positives of the new place outweigh the positives of where you live currently and that you can afford to move, then it is time to relocate. It is the right time to call your Brooklyn real estate agent, Charles D’Alessandro with Fillmore Real Estate at (718) 253-9600 ext 206 or email [email protected].

Related Links:

Now Is The Best Time To Buy Or Sell In Brooklyn, Or Is It?

5 Factors That Indicate It Could Be Time To Move


Now Is The Best Time To Buy or Sell In Brooklyn, Or Is It?

June 19th, 2015
buy or sell

Now is the best time to buy or sell in Brooklyn!

“I’d like to buy a new home, but is now the best time to buy?” “I’d like to sell my home, but is now the best time to sell?” Is there an urgency to buy or sell in 2015? The answer to each of these questions is, “YES!” Here’s why …

Now is the best time to buy in Brooklyn because:

  1. Waiting could cost you thousands. “With interest rates and home prices expected to climb in the next year, the financial penalties of delaying or forgoing a home purchase in today’s market have become very steep, said Jonathan Smoke, chief economist for®. View the® Opportunity Cost Report market list here:  Opportunity Cost Report
  2. Interest rates are projected to increase in the next 12 months. Your ability to build substantial long-term wealth is decreasing. Each time interest rates increase, monthly mortgage payment amounts increase decreasing your ability to build long-term wealth. A little increase in interest rates can make a huge impact on your monthly budget.
  3. Home prices are expected to continue to rise in the next year.
  4. Homeownership has financial benefits. Buying a home delivers a financial benefit well over$100,000 over a 30-year period. Get the projected wealth increase for almost 100 cities here.

The cost of living is increasing. The costs of gas, taxes, insurance, etc., everything is going up.  You only make so much. You can only qualify for so much. Find out how much house you can actually afford. Can you really afford to live in the neighborhood you want to live in? Find out. Also, find out how rising interest rates will affect your ability to build wealth long-term. Take time to do the math. Reach out to a mortgage specialist. You can calculate your monthly mortgage payments using this online calculator.

Buyers, don’t get boxed out because you are waiting. You’ll miss out on significant, long-term financial gains if you choose to stand on the sidelines waiting. The longer you wait, the farther those financial benefits will distance themselves from you. Get started on the road to homeownership now!

Now is the best time to sell in Brooklyn because:

  1. Job growth is increasing. More than 3 million jobs have been created in the past year. As job growth increases, demand follows.
  2. Homes are selling more quickly.
  3. The supply of houses is down making it predominantly a seller’s market. A tight inventory puts the ball in the sellers’ court driving home prices upward helping you build additional equity in your home.
  4. There are fewer cash buyers. The increase in home prices has slowed from its recent growth. Moderate increases are still expected this year, but with fewer cash buyers.
  5. Interest rates are heading upwards. Since mortgage rates are still low, more buyers are expected to move into the market in the not-too-distant future because of the projected increase in interest rates.
  6. Rents are rising, too. Rising rental costs are encouraging renters to take the plunge into home ownership.

It’s a great market for sellers! Here are a few more reasons to consider listing your home in today’s sellers’ market:

If you’ve built up equity in your home, now is a good time to sell. Find out how much equity you’ve built up in your home. Ask your Brooklyn real estate agent, Charles D’Alessandro, to run a free comparative market analysis (CMA) to find out what the approximate value of your home is.

It’s worth selling your home if you’ve built up enough equity to provide 20% equity to purchase a new home. A down payment of 20% or more will keep private mortgage insurance (PMI) down.

If you’ve paid off all your non-mortgage debt and have saved 3-6 months of monthly expenses in an emergency fun, now is a good time to sell. It’s a good time to look for a new home that may be more accommodating to your current lifestyle. Read more about reasons for considering selling right here.

Now is a great time to buy or sell in Brooklyn. Take a good hard look at your finances. Then, partner with your Brooklyn real estate agent,  Charles D’Alessandro with Fillmore Real Estate. He puts service before a sale. He knows how to get things done when it’s time to sell your home or buy a new home that is better suited to your current needs. Call at (718) 253-9600 ext 206 or email [email protected].


5 Factors That Indicate It Could Be Time To Move

May 30th, 2015
Time to Move

Think about it. Right now could be the perfect time to move.

I’m just getting back from relocating my sons in South Carolina, and now I’m thinking, “Is it time to move?” “Should we simplify our life and downsize?” “Do we need to move up to a bigger home?” “Is now the best time to sell, or will it be best to sell 5 years from now?” “Will the market be as strong then as it is now?” “Is it time to leave Brooklyn?” We need to start planning now.

Choosing to move is a big decision. There are many lifestyle and financial factors to consider and a lot of questions that must be answered. Here are 5 factors that indicate it could be time to move:

  1. Life events call for a move up to bigger or different. Company comes to visit. Some stay overnight and there just isn’t anywhere for them to sleep. An aging parent is moving in with the family because they can no longer care for themselves. Closet space is limited or overcrowded. The little kids are now big kids outgrowing shared bedrooms or the number of children in your family has increased. You’ve started an at-home business and need a home office. The space in your home just isn’t cutting it any longer. It could be time to move.
  2. Your life has changed, really changed. Baby Boomers, folks in their 50’s and 60’s, are becoming empty nesters. This is an important life change that trumps all other reasons to sell a home. For example, our sons wanted to establish their independence but realized Brooklyn was too expensive for them to live on their own. They chose to move to South Carolina for affordability and even bought their first home. Now my wife and I need to move into a home that sync’s with our empty nesting phase in life, a home that makes more sense for our life as we now know it. Becoming an empty nester, taking on a new job that comes with a new, long commute, retiring, divorcing, etc., are all significant reasons that can indicate it is time to move.
  3. Home improvements and landscaping are being neglected. Is it time to move on to a maintenance-free way of life? Are home improvement projects and landscaping no longer fun to do? Do you have time to keep up with it all? Maybe you are now physically challenged and are unable to paint, plant or hammer. If your home and yard are being neglected, it will take more money to get it ready to sell. What’s even worse is you may have to ask for a lower price to get your home sold. It may be time to move to a smaller and simpler home that you can take good care of.
  4. The market is strong. The shortage of houses for sale in Brooklyn is an extra incentive causing bidding wars. The backlog of homebuyers means multiple offers on new listings and higher home prices are normal. The value of a house in Brooklyn is soaring! According to the National Association of REALTORS®, total existing-home sales increased 6.1 percent in March – the highest annual rate since September 2013. The number of houses for sale, however, has experienced a fairly small increase of 2 percent above a year ago making it a seller’s market!
  5. You have equity in your home. Many homeowners have positive equity in their homes and don’t realize it. According to Corelogic’s Third Quarter 2014 Equity Report, 94 percent of homes priced at $200,000 and above have positive equity. You may have lost your home’s equity during the housing crash, but don’t stay there in that mindset. Have your home reappraised to find out how much equity you have built in your home. Selling may be an option once again, and it could be time to move.

Now just might be the time to move, to finally put your home on the market. The seller’s market may switch to a buyer’s market as more homes come on the market. Mortgage rates are predicted to stay low because of geopolitical unrest and lower oil prices keeping inflation in check. Take a look at all your opportunities. How long will they be as good as they are today? Staying in Brooklyn doesn’t get easier, and market where you are considering moving to is getting stronger.

Call your Brooklyn real estate agent with Fillmore Real Estate, Charles D’Alessandro at (718) 253-9600 ext 206 or email [email protected]. If you’ve been wondering about moving for a while, now might be the best time to move.


The 2 Sides Of A Reverse Mortgage

May 15th, 2015
Reverse mortgage

A reverse mortgage has 2 sides: Benefits and Drawbacks

You’ve probably heard of a reverse mortgage, but do you know what a reverse mortgage is? A reverse mortgage, or Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM), is a type of home loan for senior homeowners, 62 years or older, that uses the home’s equity as collateral. Cash payments are paid to a senior homeowner based on their home’s equity. A reverse mortgage provides cash payments to a senior homeowner by allowing them to convert part of the equity in their home into cash. Generally, the loan is not due until the last surviving homeowner dies, sells or moves out of the home. The homeowner is responsible for property taxes, homeowners insurance, upkeep and any relevant condominium fees.

When the last surviving homeowner dies, sells or moves out of the home, the estate must pay off the reverse mortgage or sell the home to pay back the loan balance. The estate has roughly 6 months to do so. If there is any remaining equity, the estate inherits the remainder. If the home sells for less than the balance of the reverse mortgage, the estate is not personally liable.

The idea for a reverse mortgage came about because retired senior homeowners with limited incomes needed a way to pay for health care and monthly living expenses. Thus, the reverse mortgage was created and without restriction on how it would be used by the senior homeowner. It allows senior homeowners to use the equity they have built in their homes to help them pay for health care costs and their basic monthly living expenses or take a vacation if they so choose.

A reverse mortgage differs from a traditional mortgage, because the lender pays the homeowner cash rather than homeowner making monthly mortgage payments.

A reverse mortgage can be a good way for retired homeowners to increase their spending power and financial security in retirement. However, there are 2 sides to reverse mortgages, benefits and drawbacks.

Benefits of a reverse mortgage:

  • You can live in your home for as long as you want without a monthly mortgage payment and improve your immediate financial situation.
  • You can tailor and utilize the reverse mortgage as a financial planning tool.
  • Your home cannot be taken from you for non-payment as in a home equity loan. You do not make payments on the loan until you permanently leave the home.
  • You will never owe more than the value of your home at the time the loan is paid off. This is a great advantage if you secure a reverse mortgage and then the price of your home drops.
  • Whether you receive the money from a reverse mortgage as fixed income or in a lump sum, the money is typically tax-free.
  • You may use the money from a reverse mortgage however you see fit.
  • You can receive the money from a reverse mortgage in one lump sum, as annuity, a credit line or even as a combination of these.
  • You maintain homeownership of your home and are able to live in your home.
  • You can rest assured that you have a place to live for as long as you want when you secure a reverse mortgage.
  • A reverse mortgage is federally insured.
  • A reverse mortgage can increase your spending power and financial security in many ways.

Drawbacks of a reverse mortgage:

  • Upfront fees on a reverse mortgage are high. (Learn more about reverse mortgage fees here: Reverse mortgage rates and fees)
  • Even though you make no monthly payments on a reverse mortgage, the amount of interest you owe and the amount you must eventually pay back accumulates over time.
  • You may have built a lot of equity in your home, but a reverse mortgage might allow you to use only some of it. The amount of your reverse mortgage loan is determined by the appraised value of your home, what you still owe on your home, your age and what the current interest rates happen to be.
  • A reverse mortgage is the opposite of a traditional home loan. It is a mortgage in reverse. You accumulate the loan over time and pay it all back when you are no longer living in your home. This can be difficult to grasp.

The benefits of a reverse mortgage clearly outnumber the drawbacks, but a reverse mortgage is not for everyone. Here are three things to consider before securing a reverse mortgage:

  • If you are eligible for low-income assistance, securing a reverse mortgage could disqualify you from Federal or State government assistance.
  • If you are planning to move in the near future, a reverse mortgage is not a good idea since the loan is due when “the last surviving homeowner dies, sells or moves out of the home.”
  • A reverse mortgage decreases the equity in your home and affects your estate. (See Innovative Uses of a Reverse Mortgage for more information on these options)

Studies have shown that more than 90 percent of those who have secured a reverse mortgage have less stress and the freedom to choose to live the life they want to live. Learn more about the fees associated with a reverse mortgage or instantly estimate your reverse mortgage loan amount with the Reverse Mortgage Calculator.

Brooklyn real estate agent with Fillmore Real Estate, I have been collaborating with and helping my clients buy or sell their Brooklyn homes for over 27 years. Do you have further questions about a reverse mortgage? Contact me, Charles D’Alessandro, at (718) 253-9600 ext 206 or email [email protected]. I know real estate and will be happy to answer any questions you may have. Just ask!