How To Prepare Your Brooklyn Home For Fall 2020

October 15th, 2020

Fall has arrived and it is time to prepare your Brooklyn home before winter comes. It seems it was just the beginning of summer, and then I blinked, and we are talking about preparing for winter.

Front steps of Brooklyn home decorated for fall.

An essential part of homeownership is the proper maintenance of your home. Many of the items I see that turn up on home inspections are merely delayed maintenance. I often hear the homeowner remark how they wish they would have done it sooner so that they could enjoy the repairs also.

Proper preparation can save you potential problems later. You have heard the saying, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” That means taking the time to get things done before they become a problem will save you from the expense and frustration if you must make repairs.

Home maintenance may not be the most exciting way to spend a weekend, but it will be time well invested. Preventative maintenance can save you the unpleasantness of dealing with an emergency and will help prolong the life of the components of your home.

Create a plan, purchase any supplies you will need, and get to work!

There are areas inside and outside your Brooklyn home that will need your attention. Let’s look at some critical areas requiring attention before the cold weather sets in.

You will want to pay attention to the exterior of your home before the temperatures plummet. Completing the exterior work now will save you from freezing when something becomes an issue during the cold winter.

  • Gutters – Watching the leaves change color and fall from the trees is a favorite Fall activity. However, if those leaves fall into your gutter, you will want to be sure to remove them and clean your gutters. Sticks and other debris can also settle in your gutters and lead to blockages. Potential water damage inside and outside your home can result from such blockages. When your gutters are clogged, the water has no way to be diverted away from your house. The result can be rotten wood on the roof or facia. Rodents, insects, and birds can make a home in the leaves and cause havoc for you. If the water is not being diverted away from your home, it can damage your foundation.
  • Roof  – Along with proper gutter maintenance, you need to be sure your roof is ready for the winter weather. Take a good look at the roof shingles to ensure there are no missing or damaged ones. Clear all debris from the roof. Check the flashing to be sure it is not loose or needs to be repaired. As part of the roof maintenance, you also want to check your attic to ensure proper insulation and ventilation. The attic can affect the longevity of your roof. This is one area that you may want to spend the money to hire a professional to avoid the dangers of climbing out on your roof.
  • Outside Faucets and Irrigation Systems – Turn off the water source to your outdoor faucets and sinks. Open the tap and allow the water to drain out of the lines. Outdoor sinks may need an extra step of adding an antifreeze solution. Winterizing your sprinkler system is a more complicated process. It would be wise to hire a professional to maintain your sprinkler system.
  • Walkways – Take a good look at sidewalks and stairs to your home. Are there any cracks or loose areas that could cause a tripping hazard? It is essential to keep these areas clear of snow and ice during the winter months for your safety and others safety. Be sure to make any repairs now before the snow starts falling.
  • Outdoor Furniture – Proper care of your outdoor furniture will extend the life of your purchase. If you have storage space indoors, it is better to move the outdoor furniture inside during the harsh winter months. Cover the furniture with special covers or tarps if you cannot get the furniture indoors. Check throughout the winter that the coverings have not come loose or blown off.
  • Landscaping – Your exterior plants also need attention in preparation for winter. Remove any annual plants that are at the end of their life. Prune other plants as recommended to keep things looking tidy and preventing any unnecessary damage to the plant. Remove any weeds now and fertilize the soil if needed. Divide any perennials that need attention. If necessary, do one final cutting of the lawn. And when finished, clean and store your gardening tools, so they are ready for spring when you are anxious to get back in that garden.
  • Spring Bulbs – You may want to plant spring flower bulbs. If so, be sure to plant before the ground freezes. Getting them in the ground to allow them to establish their roots is important. The extra time spent planting your bulbs will provide you with joy in the spring as you start to see them sprouting. We all look for these signs of life emerging in the spring.
  • Leaves and Debris – Raking leaves is not quite as romantic as portrayed in the movies. Especially after you have performed this task several times throughout the Fall. It is vital to do a final clean up after all the leaves have fallen. Leaves that coat sidewalks and driveways can become a hazard and a haven for insects and unwanted critters. Also, check for other debris that should be cleared throughout the winter.
  • Lighting – Clean the fixtures to make sure that the light can illuminate the outdoors. Replace any burned-out bulbs. Consider replacing your bulbs with LED lightbulbs that are more energy efficient. Check the wiring to be sure there are no exposed or fraying wires. Adjust the lighting fixtures if needed. Time and elements can cause lighting fixtures to become misaligned. This ounce of prevention will keep your home safer, enhance its beauty at night, and keep intruders and vandals away.

Some projects will need to be addressed both inside and outside of your home. Focus on the exterior tasks first, but do not forget to take care of the indoor aspect later.

  • Seal Openings – Finding the gaps, cracks, and openings that allow air to penetrate your home and sealing them will save you the discomfort of drafts. It will also save you money on your heating expenses. Examine areas where different material types meet. A common area is around windows. Also, pay attention to areas where plumbing and wiring enter your home. On the interior, pay attention to areas where water is used. Concentrate on areas where the tub/shower meets the surround, where the sink meets the counter, and where the counter meets the backsplash. Check all doors and windows to be sure the weather stripping is not dry and brittle. Replace any caulking and weatherstripping as necessary.
  • Fireplace – The ambiance of a fire during a cold winter evening creates a cozy atmosphere. To make that relaxing and enjoyable experience, be sure to maintain your fireplace regularly. Whether you have a wood-burning or a gas fireplace, regular maintenance is required. Chimney maintenance may be necessary if you have a wood-burning fireplace or a gas fireplace that is vented through your chimney. Be sure the chimney has a cap to prevent debris and critters from entering. Check for cracks. Hire a chimney sweep to clean your chimney as recommended. Your interior maintenance is dependent on whether you have a wood-burning fireplace or a gas fireplace. Gas fireplaces need to be cleaned and checked periodically.
  • Storage Areas – Storage spaces can quickly become dumping grounds for the items we are not sure whether to keep or give away. Before storing away your summer items, take some time to clean the storage spaces inside and outside your home. Clear the area first and sort things into one of three different categories. The three types are keep, donate or discard, and repair. Next, clean the space. Now you can start placing items back into the area that you have decided to keep. Quickly handle the donate, discard, and repair items so they do not clutter your home.

Turn your attention to the inside of your Brooklyn home after the exterior items are completed. Addressing the interior will help you to maintain a comfortable and safe environment.

  • Furnace – The furnace is the most essential appliance in your home during our long Brooklyn winters. Make sure your furnace is running in tip-top shape before you are dependent on it for the full-blown heating season. Many homeowners choose a do-it-yourself approach. Be sure to refer to your owner’s manuals for the right way if you decide to DIY it. Hire a licensed professional to clean and check your furnace. Be sure to change the filters as needed throughout the heating season.
  • Smoke and CO Detectors – Smoke detectors and Carbon Monoxide detectors are known to save lives. Add any necessary devices throughout your home. Recommended areas include sleeping areas, common hallways, and living areas and should be installed on every level of your home. Be sure to test your alarms monthly. You can find a tip sheet on the New York City Fire Department website.
  • Ceiling Fans – Why do so many of us procrastinate cleaning those ceiling fan blades until we turn them off as the weather cools down? Your ceiling fan should be running in a clockwise direction to help pull the warm air from the ceiling down in the winter. Using a pillowcase to clean the blades is a genius idea. Simply slip the pillowcase over the fan blade and gently wipe it off. The dust remains in the pillowcase! Use a dust-repelling furniture spray to help prevent build-up. Clean the motor housing, light bulbs, and glass globes as well.
  • Thermostat – Consider installing a programable thermostat if you do not already have one. You will save money because you are not heating your home when you are not there or sleeping in the winter months. Recommendations are to lower the heat by 10 degrees when you are not home or are asleep. Program your thermostat to lower the temperature 20 – 30 minutes before you regularly leave home or 60 minutes before you go to bed. Set the thermostat to increase the temperature 30 minutes before you return home or wake up, and you will enjoy a comfortable home.
  • Entry – Create a spot by your front door and any other access your family uses to enter the home for shoes. This will save your floors from tracking the mud, water, snow, and ice our shoes bring in with us. Adding a drip tray to the entry can prevent you from cleaning floors quite as often. You can purchase a drip tray in many home stores. Add a decorative touch to your entryway by filling the drip tray with pebbles or stones to prevent the shoes and boots from sitting in the wet slush.

And lastly, there are a few items that will provide you with peace of mind. These are items that we often overlook but are well worth the investment of your time.

  • Pantry – We have learned to expect the unexpected. Take time to organize your pantry and restock non-perishable items you may need throughout the winter. Keep your frequently used staple items on hand. Consider stocking canned and dried beans, canned vegetables, canned or jar sauces, broth, rice, pasta, dehydrated fruits or vegetables, flour, sugar, shortening, canned meats, and condiments. Avoiding a trip to the store when an impending storm is announced will be a welcome relief. Remember to stock items such as matches or lighters, candles, flashlights, and batteries.
  • Medicine and First Aid Supplies – Unfortunately, we rarely get a warning when we are going to need first aid items or catch a common illness. Check your supply of bandages, ice packs, pain relievers, cold medicine, throat lozenges, vitamins, and supplements. After you have completed your inventory, restock the missing or low items. Do not forget to stock for your children’s and pets’ needs also.
  • Fire Escape Plan – A fire escape plan is also an important step. If you have not created a plan for your household, take some time to examine your home’s layout. Determine if you need to purchase any equipment such as fire escape ladders. Be sure all members of your household are oriented to this plan.

Bonus Tip

Don’t forget to prepare your car for the winter months. Regular maintenance of your vehicle is a given. You will need to stock your vehicle for unexpected winter weather. Create an emergency kit to keep in your car. Include flashlights, blanket, hand warmers, water, snacks, shovel, cat litter or sand, tool kit, jumper cables, and an extra set of clothing. Hopefully, you never need to use these items. It is always wise to be prepared.

I am sure this seems like a lot to add to your “to-do” list. You will find it to be time well spent in the long run. Regular maintenance around your home will help to keep everything running smoothly.

If you do not feel you have the expertise to address some of these items, professionals can certainly help you with these tasks. Do your research before hiring any professional. Ask friends or coworkers for references to someone they can recommend who has done satisfactory work for them. You can find some great advice on the Better Business Bureau’s website concerning hiring a contractor.

Plan your winter activities after your “to do” list is complete. You will enjoy the fruits of your labor by having the time for the things you “want” to do with friends and family. Enjoy your Brooklyn home this winter!

Contact me, Charles D’Alessandro, your Brooklyn Real Estate Agent with Fillmore Real Estate. As a Brooklyn real estate agent with over 30 years of experience, I can help both buyers and sellers achieve their real estate dreams.

Our office is completely shut down and committed to your safety during the COVID-19 health crisis in compliance with the State of New York public health policies. I can be reached by phone at (718) 253-9500 ext. 1901 or by email at [email protected].

Charles D'Alessandro

Charles D’Alessandro
Your Brooklyn Real Estate Agent
718-253-9600 ext. 1901


How to Know You’ve Found the Perfect House for Sure

September 30th, 2020

Think you’ve found the perfect house to buy? But how do you know for sure it’s the perfect one?

Brooklyn Brownstone
How do you know you’ve found the perfect house? Ask the right questions.

Purchasing a home is one of life’s biggest undertakings. And there are lots of questions you need to ask before you make an offer on a home. Asking the right questions lets you know for sure you’re making a competitive offer on an affordable home that meets your needs long-term.

15 Questions to Ask About the Perfect House You’ve Found

Knowing the right questions to ask before making a competitive offer on a home with confidence takes research, good research. And according to bankrate.com, these are the fifteen questions you must ask and research the answers to.

1. What’s my total budget?

One common mistake homebuyers make is buying more house than they can afford. And this goes beyond budgeting for a monthly mortgage payment. There are property taxes, homeowners insurance, homeowners association dues, home maintenance and repair costs, and the cost of renovations to consider in addition to the price of a home.

Also, if you want your offer on the perfect house you’ve found to be accepted, get preapproved for a mortgage. This does three important things:

  • Gives you an idea of what you can afford
  • Shows the seller you have the financial means to buy their house
  • Assures the real estate agent that you are a qualified buyer and that you’re not wasting the seller’s time

2. Is the home in a flood zone or prone to other natural disasters?

If you’ve found the perfect home that’s in a flood zone or other natural disaster area, additional insurance coverage may be required. A property that’s in a flood zone or other natural disaster area may require additional insurance coverage. Homes located in federally-designated, high-risk flood zones require flood insurance. You can research whether or not a property is in a high-risk flood zone using FEMA’s Flood Map Service.

3. Why is the seller leaving?

Knowing the answer to this question could help you gauge how flexible or not the seller is. If they are downsizing, relocating for a job or because a major life event occurred for them, they may be highly motivated to sell and very willing to negotiate. A seller who needs to move quickly is much more willing to negotiate than one who isn’t in a hurry to move.

4. What’s included in the sale?

Modern kitchen

Cabinets, faucets, and window treatments, such as blinds and curtains, ceiling fans – anything that’s considered a fixture is typically included when purchasing a house. However, this depends on your state’s laws. Don’t assume that there are items included with the home. They just might not be. Listing descriptions are supposed to list exclusions the seller isn’t including in the sale. But since that’s not always the case, you should ask in your offer what is and isn’t included with the home, (like the washer and dryer or that stainless-steel refrigerator, for example).

5. Were there any additions or major renovations?

When you know a home’s major repair and renovation history, you can understand the seller’s asking price and even gauge its true condition. In some cases, sellers have a file available full of everything that has anything to do with the house. But in most other cases, this just isn’t so.

Sometimes property records and listing descriptions don’t always match up. For example, if a home is advertised as having four bedrooms, but one of those rooms is a non-conforming addition that doesn’t follow local building codes, it isn’t really a four-bedroom home.

  • Ask about major repairs or renovations the seller has done since owning the home
  • Request the original manufacturer warranties on any appliances or systems if those have been replaced

6. How old is the roof?

Roofs are necessary and expensive. If you must replace the roof of the perfect house you’ve found soon after you purchase it, you’ll spend thousands of dollars. Avoid this costly scenario. Ask about the roof’s age.

Also, if the roof has existing damage, your lender may require that it be repaired in order to approve your loan. Ask the question and check it out.

7. How old are the appliances and major systems?

Here’s where you ask about essential systems and appliances such as the air conditioner, furnace, water heater, washer, dryer, and stove. When you understand the anticipated lifespan of the essential systems and appliances, you can anticipate major repair or replacement expenses.

Have they already reached the end of their lifespan? Then ask the seller to purchase a home warranty. In certain instances, this can help cover the replacement costs.

8. How long has the house been on the market?

The amount of flexibility to negotiate a deal is reflected in the length of time a house has been on the market. The longer it’s been on the market, the more motivated the seller will be to make a deal. By asking this one question, you might be able to negotiate the price, contingencies, terms, and even credits to replace old carpet or other noticeable issues.

Brooklyn neighborhood

9. How much have homes sold for in the neighborhood?

Research the current local market. This helps you determine whether or not the seller’s asking price is too high or right on target. Listing data for similar homes on the market now or sold within that past six months give you a great basis for comparison. This in turn helps you gain confidence in negotiating the price of the perfect house you’ve found or asking the seller to pay for some of the closing costs. Your real estate agent can pull the comparable listing data for you.

10. Are there any health or safety hazards?

Health of safety hazards? I bet you hadn’t thought about asking this question. Am I right? This question is asking about things such as lead paint, radon, mold, or other major hazards. These health or safety hazards can be costly to fix. And they can stall your loan approval.

If there have been past issues,

  • Ask the seller to provide documentation
  • Find out exactly what was done to resolve those problems

This is an important question to ask because you might need to pay more for these types of specialized services If a home inspector suggests additional testing.

11. What’s the history of past insurance claims?

Bankrate.com recommends you get a copy of a Comprehensive Loss Underwriting Exchange, or C.L.U.E., report from the seller. A C.L.U.E. report allows you to see if there have been any homeowners insurance claims filed in the last seven years. It gives an insight into what, if any, damage the home has been through due to weather or vandalism. A home inspection doesn’t usually catch these kinds of damages to a home. And sellers might fail to mention them.

12. What are the neighbors like?

Yes, get to know the neighbors before you make an offer on the perfect house. To get the true feel of the neighborhood, ask the seller:

What are the neighbors like? Are they noisy or quiet?

Is it a pet-friendly neighborhood?

Are the existing neighbors friendly or do they keep to themselves?

Take a drive around the neighborhood and stop and talk with neighbors. They’re an excellent way to get to know about the community surrounding the perfect house you’ve found.

13. How is the neighborhood?

Brooklyn neighbors

Unlike a house, a neighborhood can’t be changed or fixed if you don’t like something about it. So it’s important that you like its community amenities, crime statistics, school ratings, and the amount of traffic there is on the street where you’ll be living.

Research the neighborhood’s schools, homeowners association rules (if applicable), nearby parks and other amenities online. And research the amount of time your commute to work will take.

14. Are there any problems with the house?

A disclosure form listing any known defects must be provided by a seller. Those defects you don’t know about could mean major issues for you later. This is why a home inspection is critical! As soon as a purchase agreement is signed, hire a professional home inspector and get a home inspection done.

A home’s overall condition is outlined in the inspection report. You can then negotiate future concessions for repairs or back out of a deal without penalty providing you included a home inspection contingency. And when this happens, your earnest money will be returned in most cases.

15. How much will I pay in closing costs?

And finally, research and ask about what is included in the closing costs, because the down payment isn’t the only money you’ll be paying someone on closing day. You are also responsible for closing costs.

You should expect to pay 2 to 5 percent of the home’s purchase price in closing costs. But depending on your area, this percentage can vary.

Closing costs include:

  • Loan origination fees
  • Third-party fees for title research
  • Fees for processing the paperwork
  • Appraisal fees
  • Administrative task fees

Lenders are required to provide you as a buyer the closing disclosure three business days before closing. It outlines all your loan fees and how much total cash you need to close.

And Now You’re a Homeowner!

Yes, when you think you’ve found the perfect house, you’ll know it because you asked the right questions and made an offer with confidence. You’ll sign the closing documents, pay the closing costs and fees on closing day, and move into the home you love!

Contact me, Charles D’Alessandroyour Brooklyn Real Estate Agent with Fillmore Real Estate. I help buyers find the home of their dreams and guide them in their research during these challenging times.

Our office is completely shut down and committed to your safety during the COVID-19 health crisis in compliance with the State of New York public health policies. I can be reached by phone at (718) 253-9600 ext. 1901 or by email at [email protected].


Charles D'Alessandro

Charles D’Alessandro
Your Brooklyn Real Estate Agent
718-253-9600 ext. 1901


How to Ensure Your Home is Appraised for Maximum Value

September 15th, 2020

Are you refinancing your home? If you are, the lender will require an appraisal. Also, did you know an appraised value difference of even a couple thousand dollars can make or break your loan approval? So what steps can you take to ensure your home is appraised for maximum value without getting denied for a loan? Here are a few tips to help know what to expect from a home appraisal and make sure your home comes out on top.

Appraised for maximum value
Getting your Brooklyn home appraised for maximum value is important when you’re refinancing.

What is an Appraisal?

Opendoor.com defines a home appraisal as “the process by which a licensed appraiser conducts a thorough inspection of a property to assess its true worth (which isn’t always the same as the listing price). The appraiser will then compile all of their findings into a report and generate the home’s appraised value.

Make Sure Your Home is Appraised for Maximum Value

Most appraisers perform inspections by:

  • Comparing sales of houses in your neighborhood
  • Determining a sales price per square foot
  • Applying that sales price per square foot to the square footage of your home

The appraisal should equal or exceed the amount you request for your loan in order for the lender to approve it. When home values in your area fall, refinancing becomes more difficult, especially when you have only a small amount of equity in your home.

And since an experienced appraiser has inspected thousands of homes, it’s quite easy for them to assess your home’s amenities quickly. An interior inspection can take about 30 minutes or less. And that’s not a lot of time in a home nor is it much time to make a good first impression.

The appraiser typically drives giving the outside of the house a cursory inspection. They don’t ask to see the inside unless something looks questionable. So it’s a good idea to request a walk-through appraisal from the lender. A walk-through inspection gives you the opportunity to point out the upgrades or improvements made to your home that comparable homes in your neighborhood don’t have.

When an appraiser determines the worth of your home, they take a lot into account. Some of the factors they must take into account can’t be helped, like your home’s location, for example. But there are things you as a homeowner can do to make certain your home is appraised for maximum value. So it’s recommended that you prepare in advance of the appraiser’s visit.

1. Prepare a Packet

Appraisal documentation

Prepare a packet of information to hand the appraiser as they hurry out your door after they inspect your home. Include the basics about your home and anything that helps back up your refinance offer.

Some upgrades that can improve a home’s value include upgraded countertops and flooring, extensive trim carpentry or built-ins, and energy-efficienct upgrades to appliances, windows and insulation.


Fact sheet about your home:

  • Address
  • Year your home was built
  • Square footage
  • Number of bedrooms and bathrooms
  • Size of the lot

List of recent sales:

The appraiser has access to recent home sales. But there’s always a chance they may miss something. Make a list of:

  • Any for-sale-by-owner homes
  • Homes sold to a relative
  • Owners who sold quickly to move out of town

List of improvements and upgrades you’ve made to your home:

  • List improvements and their dates
  • Include contact information each contractor who worked on each improvement

2. Fix What’s Broken

The appraiser assigns an “effective age” based on your home’s condition and how well you’ve maintained it. For example, fix the following (and then some):

  • Cracked windows
  • Thread-bare carpet
  • Missing tiles in the shower
  • Torn vinyl flooring
  • Damaged doors
  • Cracked or mildewed caulk
  • Hairline cracks in drywall
  • Peeling or flaky paint, inside and outside your home
  • Evidence of water damage that has been repaired

You want the effective age assigned to your home to be low. A higher effective age results in lower value. So, make repairs to anything that ages your home in the eyes of the appraiser!

3. Clean Whatever Needs Cleaning

Most appraisers say a clean or dirty home bears nothing on its value. But if a clean home adds to the appearance of a well-maintained home, affects the appraiser’s overall opinion of your home, and makes a better impression, what harm can a good cleaning do? Play it safe and clean up the following really well:

  • Overgrown landscaping
  • Carpet stains
  • Marks on walls
  • Clutter, inside and outside
  • Loose and rotten boards on your fence

Will Your Home Be Appraised for Maximum Value?

Getting your home appraised for maximum value without getting denied for a loan to refinance is possible with some preparatory work. Some things impact your home’s value more than others do. But remember, the inspection process varies by appraiser. And everything you can do to ensure your home is appraised for maximum value and streamline the appraisal process is worth the effort when refinancing your home.

Contact me, Charles D’Alessandroyour Brooklyn Real Estate Agent with Fillmore Real Estate. As a Brooklyn real estate agent and broker with over 30 years of experience, I can help you prepare your home to sell even during these challenging times.

Our office is completely shut down and committed to your safety during the COVID-19 health crisis in compliance with the State of New York public health policies. I can be reached by phone at (718) 253-9600 ext. 1901 or by email at [email protected].


Charles D'Alessandro

Charles D’Alessandro
Your Brooklyn Real Estate Agent
718-253-9600 ext. 1901


How to Take Care of Your Moth Problem in 5 Ways

August 30th, 2020
Clothes moth problem
Take care of your moth problem in these five ways.

I don’t know about you, but the first thing that comes to mind when you say “moth problem” is not an algebraic equation. It’s that nasty smell of mothballs. Yes? But what options do you as a homeowner have when clothes moths find their way into your stored items and munch holes in them?

This is an important question at this time of year. Fall is just around the corner. And we’ll be storing our summer wardrobes to don our fall sweaters and leather jackets. Will you find holes in your winter woolens? Is there a way to prevent holes from being munched into your comforters and down pillows? Yes!

Clothes moths are notorious for eating holes in more than clothes fibers. What they munch on includes hair, felt, and fur as well.

Getting to Know Your Moth Problem

If you’ve got one, your moth problem comes in the form of two types of clothes moths:

  • Webbing clothes moths – a solid pale colored moth with a patch of hair on its head.

Because this type of clothes moth does not fly well, it is commonly found in dark closets and storage areas.

  • Casemaking clothes moths – a bit darker than the webbing moth with dark spots on its wings

Don’t mistake clothes moths with Indian meal moths though. Indian meal moths eat herbs, nuts, flour, and other stored foods and are usually found in your pantry. And they are larger and darker in color than clothes moths and have dark brown tipped wings.     

Clothes moths are about 5 cm (1.9685 in) in size. Because they avoid the light, they are rarely seen. Female clothes moths run or hop to get around. So if you see a clothes moth flying around, it’s most likely a male.

Life Cycle of a Clothes Moth

Moth-eaten clothes

clothes moths do not feed. And most of them don’t live any longer than a month or so. This means they aren’t the pests eating holes in your stored items. It’s their larvae!

The adult clothes moth lays their eggs in the fibers stored in dark places. And when those eggs hatch, they become fabric-eating larvae.

The larvae feed on your belongings from several weeks to a couple of years, depending on environmental factors such as temperature, humidity, and even the quality of your belongings.

Once full grown, they spin a silk casing and transform into an adult moth. And when they break out of their silk casing, they immediately begin laying eggs as an adult moth. Yes, more larvae, more destruction to your belongings.

5 Ways to Take Care of Your Moth Problem

So whether you’re preparing to sell your home and storing items until you move or just putting away this season’s items, preventing a moth problem is important.

Protect your materials and take care of your moth problem. Here’s how:

1. Inspect your stuff

If you want to control your clothes moth infestation, it’s recommended that you hire a licensed pest management professional to do the job. They can facilitate the process and locate the sources of your infestation.

2. Store your stuff

Clothing and fabrics should be packed tightly in a container that is well sealed, no gaps. 

3. Dispose of or dry clean your stuff

Everything that is infested should be thrown away or dry cleaned.

4. Vacuum and clean your stuff

Vacuuming and cleaning helps remove and kill larvae already present in your home. So keep a clean home, of course, and pay close attention to the quiet, dark closets and cubbies that moths prefer.

5. Brush off and expose your stuff

Tackling a clothes moth problem includes periodically brushing off and exposing materials to sunlight.

Fall Maintenance or Preparing to Sell Your Home

Whether you are preparing to sell your home or getting ready for fall, taking proper care of your stored items is important. No one wants a clothes moth problem! And no one wants to throw away ruined belongings. Apply these five tips and save yourself a lot of money next year.

Contact me, Charles D’Alessandroyour Brooklyn Real Estate Agent with Fillmore Real Estate. As a Brooklyn real estate agent and broker with over 30 years of experience, I can help you prepare your home to sell even during these challenging times.

Our office is completely shut down and committed to your safety during the COVID-19 health crisis in compliance with the State of New York public health policies. I can be reached by phone at (718) 253-9600 ext. 1901 or by email at [email protected].


Charles D'Alessandro

Charles D’Alessandro
Your Brooklyn Real Estate Agent
718-253-9600 ext. 1901


The Best Checklist to Prepare Your Home to Sell

August 15th, 2020
Prepare your home to sell
It’s simple to prepare your home to sell.
Start here.

Yes! You decided to sell your home and hired the best real estate agent in Brooklyn. You’re off to a fantastic start. Now it’s time to prepare your home to sell. But what does that mean exactly? Your agent, of course, can guide you through the process of selling your home, but here’s a great checklist to get you started.

12-Step Checklist to Prepare Your Home to Sell

It’s time to roll up your sleeves and get to work. If you think selling a home is as simple as planting a “For Sale” sign in your yard and uploading a few photos from your iPhone, think again. There’s a lot more to it but only if you want it to sell for the best price.

Use this checklist and a little bit of elbow grease to prepare your home to sell:

1. Hire the Best Real Estate Agent in Brooklyn

Check this one off. You’ve got it covered. But let’s talk about why working with a great real estate agent is such a great idea when selling a home.

Selling your home yourself, and pocketing the cash you would otherwise pay a real estate agent is appealing to many, especially when the market is hot. But a “for sale by owner” almost always leads to sacrificing both your money and your time. So resist the temptation and hire a real estate agent.

When you work with an agent who is knowledgeable about your specific market, and you’re comfortable working with them, you can trust them to sell your house for top dollar. And you’ll save yourself a lot of headache and time, too.

2. Make a Good First Impression

Take good care of every potential buyer’s first impression of your home with updated curb appeal. When your curb appeal is great, they’ll want to see more.

Most curb appeal efforts are relatively simple to do. But if you’re not sure what you should do, ask your real estate agent for advice.

3. Do a Clean Sweep

When it comes to preparing your home to show, less is more. And that simply means decluttering all flat surfaces. After doing a clean sweep of the visible areas, declutter your closets, drawers, and cupboards. Remember, curious buyers open closets, drawers, and cupboards when they walk through a home. Nothing is off limits.

Also,a decluttered house is appealing allowing potential buyers to see its roominess. So trash, donate, gift, and pack up your stuff to prepare your home to sell.

4. Remove “You” From Your Space

This ties in with decluttering in Step 3. Buyers need to be able to visualize themselves and their family living in the property and loving it, too. So remove your personal items, family photos, even some artwork and furniture that may not appeal to the general public.

5. Go Neutral

Play it safe. If you haven’t already gone neutral on the walls in your home, start painting. Neutral colors are safe. Bright or bold colors are bound to be somebody’s least favorite and will turn away  interest in your home.  

Besides, lighter colors allow potential buyers to imagine what colors they would enjoy having on the walls when they’re living in the home.

6. Scrub Scuff Marks

This step should be done before your house goes on the market and requires a bit of elbow grease. If you don’t need to paint your walls, at least scrub off any scuff marks you see. And touch up those that won’t scrub off.

When potential buyers tour your home, they want to see a house that is in good repair and move-in ready. They don’t want to see a long list of repairs that need to be done before they can fall in love with the house.

7. Avoid Negativity

Loose handles, missing lightbulbs or lightbulbs that need to be replaced, have a negative effect on buyers. Such disrepair causes doubt in a potential buyer’s mind about the home you’re selling. Fix the “little things” to let them know that your house will make them a great home.

8. Stage a Welcoming Environment

Green plants create a welcoming environment that impress buyers upon entering your home. And that’s a good thing! Beautiful flowers or a bowl of fruit on the kitchen counter or dining room table add a warm, homey touch.

9. Eliminate Smelly Deal Breakers

Unpleasant odors, no matter how foul, even the slightest ones, are deal breakers. And some of them you may not even notice.

To help with that, invite someone over to try to detect any bad odors for you. You may grow accustomed to pet smells or odors from last night’s dinner. But an unbiased nose can help you determine whether or not deep cleaning is in order.

10. Keep Everything Clean and Tidy

Cleaning house

You want your property to look spotless. So, after you’ve cleaned your home, clean some more.

Imagine how your staged home would look in professional photos. That’s how you want your home looking, at its very best. Keep everything clean and tidy always, every time you leave it, looking its best for buyers coming to take a tour.

You never know when a buyer will schedule a last-minute tour. Always be prepared. Clean, clean, and clean some more.

11. Play it Safe

Hide your valuables, from art to jewelry. Lock them up, store them off-site, or at the very least, keep out of sight.

12. Invigorate with Staging

Nothing invigorates a house like staging it well. If your home furnishings or appliances scream 1980’s, seek help from a professional stager. Like a bold, orange wall, an out-dated home will not appeal to most potential buyers, no matter how nostalgic you are. 

A stager evaluates your home and your belongings. Then they determine and recommend what you must do to raise the bar. You might need to buy or rent some major pieces or purchase some baskets to stage an open shelf. Organizing your cleaning products on a laundry room closet shelf does wonders for your laundry space.

Trust your home stager. They know the real estate market and what sells. It’s their job to make your home appealing and interesting to potential buyers. 

Preparing to Sell is Simple

When you prepare your home to sell, the goal is to make potential buyers feel at home. With this checklist in hand, work through Steps 1 through 12 and impress lots of interested buyers.

Contact me, Charles D’Alessandroyour Brooklyn Real Estate Agent with Fillmore Real Estate. As a Brooklyn real estate agent and broker with over 30 years of experience, I can help you prepare your home to sell even during these challenging times.

Our office is completely shut down and committed to your safety during the COVID-19 health crisis in compliance with the State of New York public health policies. I can be reached by phone at (718) 253-9600 ext. 1901 or by email at [email protected].


Charles D'Alessandro

Charles D’Alessandro
Your Brooklyn Real Estate Agent
718-253-9600 ext. 1901


How to Boost Your Property’s Curb Appeal to the Best it Can Be

July 30th, 2020

COVID-19 and social distancing has changed the way we shop for homes. According to Realtor.com, homebuyers find the ability to take a virtual tour of a home helpful. And that means boosting your property’s curb appeal is a high-priority item on your to-do list.

Property's curb appeal
Your property’s curb appeal creates a make-or-break first impression in only eight seconds.

Why Your Property’s Curb Appeal is Important

Your property’s curb appeal is more important than ever now. And you have only eight seconds to beckon a second look or turn them off completely from the moment they lay eyes on your home.

Because of the coronavirus, homebuyers research and shop for houses online even more than they have in the past. They’re looking for plenty of high-quality photos of listings. They want to see a home’s interior and exterior and lots of both. They’re placing a lot more weight on photos of the exterior since they are limited to fewer in-person tours.

By the way, this makes walkthroughs of your property via video chat with an agent or thorough pre-recorded video available with your listing a great idea, too.

6 Ways to Make Homebuyers Eager to See What’s Inside Your Home

Investing in your property‘s curb appeal helps it sell faster and for more money, just as staging your home does. And you don’t need to spend thousands of dollars to create a great first impression either. Here are six of the best upgrades you can do for $100 or less:

1. Pay Attention to Your Driveway and/or Walkways

Your driveway and/or walkway lead the buyer’s eye toward your home’s front door and to the inside of your home.

  • Get rid of weeds
  • Patch minor cracks in the concrete with caulk
  • Hose down the driveway and/or walkway before photos, video, or in-person tours
  • Finish your concrete driveway and/or walkway with a clear, glossy sealer

2. Fix Up the Garage

The garage plays a big role in your property’s curb appeal, especially when it’s attached to your home.

  • Paint the garage doors the same color as your home’s trim
  • Add a garage door with a row of windows or swap out existing panels and add glass inserts
  • Stage the inside of your garage

3. Paint the Front Door

Front door curb appeal

Peeling paint, rusty hardware, and scuff marks are a big turn off, especially on the front door. But a fresh coat of paint immediately adds life to your home and catches the attention of onlookers. Show homebuyers that your house is loved and cared for.

  • Paint the front door with eye-catching color, such as red, yellow, or blue
  • Replace old hardware with updated doorknobs and hinges
  • Add a door with glass inserts to create a welcoming feeling

4. Keep Your Yard Green and Groomed

Your lawn, if you have one, is one of the first things a homebuyer sees when shopping online. And landscaping that is well-groomed creates a great first impression.

  • Mow the grass
  • Water the grass to keep it green
  • Prune shrubs
  • Weed flower beds and add fresh mulch

5. Turn On the Charm with Exterior Lighting

Create a warm, unified ambiance with nighttime lighting for your home. 

  • Add 60-watt LED bulbs with a warm tone to each side of your front door
  • Make sure all exterior lighting matches, on the house and on the garage

6. Make Your Front Porch More Welcoming

Give your property’s curb appeal a boost beyond just the front door. Replace your outdoor accents for an even greater first impression.

  • Add an attractive doormat
  • Replace your house numbers
  • Buy a new mailbox
  • Plant colorful annuals in pots and place them around your front porch
  • Clean windows
  • Sweep cobwebs

Look at Your Home From the Homebuyer’s Point of View

As more buyers shop for homes from a distance, paying close attention to the exterior of your listing is key. Look at your home through the eyes of the prospective homebuyer and provide plenty of great photos.

Remember, your property’s curb appeal has eight seconds to create a great first impression. Make it great, and they’ll eagerly walk through the rest of your home online.

Contact me, Charles D’Alessandroyour Brooklyn Real Estate Agent with Fillmore Real Estate. With over 30 plus years as a Brooklyn real estate agent and broker, I can help you navigate the selling process even during these challenging times.

Our office is completely shut down and committed to your safety during the COVID-19 health crisis in compliance with the State of New York public health policies. I can be reached by phone at (718) 253-9600 ext. 1901 or by email at [email protected].


Charles D'Alessandro

Charles D’Alessandro
Your Brooklyn Real Estate Agent
718-253-9600 ext. 1901


10 Easy Steps to Follow When You Decide to Sell Your Home

July 15th, 2020

Selling a home isn’t something we typically do very often. So when the time comes, and for whatever reason, you decide to sell your home, you may not know where to start. Here are ten easy steps to follow when you do make that decision to put your home up for sale.

Decide to sell your home
Follow these 10 steps when you decide to sell your home.

Our present circumstances call for better planning and preparation a little more than usual. But this checklist will help guide you in the planning and preparation from beginning to “SOLD.”

When You Decide to Sell Your Home, Hire a Real Estate Agent Right Away

When you decide to sell your home, it’s time to start interviewing real estate agents to handle your listing. I always recommend asking friends and family for recommendations. But it’s also a good idea to research agent reviews while checking out their credentials.

Once you find someone you’re confident will do a great job for you, you will sign a listing agreement. Your agent will work on a plan of action with you and discuss improvements that may be needed as well as remodeling work they believe will pay off.

Your Agent will Help You Select a Date

Opinions on the best times to sell a home are many, and they are varied. And sometimes those opinions don’t even really matter. For example, you retire from your current job in August and find a new place to work in a smaller, slower-paced town in October. Then you start working the new job the first week of December.

In this scenario, the sellers knew they would be moving because retirement would require a smaller, more affordable home. So they started packing and researching agents in August.

They found a great listing agent. And with their help, the sellers selected April 1st as the date to put their home on the market.

Research Your Local Market and Determine a Target Price

Again, a great listing agent will present you with “comps” when you hire them. What are comps? They are comparable properties in the neighborhood or surrounding area where you live. Comparing properties similar to yours that have sold or that are listed near you helps you better establish an asking price confidently.

But there’s nothing wrong with visiting a few open houses, too. This kind of “research” helps you see what’s for sale near you. And it gives you ideas for staging your home.

Prepare Your Home to Sell

Next, your agent will discuss needed improvements and updates as well as remodeling work they believe will pay off.

Allow your agent to be brutally honest with you. Voice your concerns and ideas with your agent. But trust their expertise and experience. They will let you know what to paint, clean, repair, and update or remodel.

An extensive kitchen remodel may not pay off. But replacing worn out old carpet with trending flooring might just do the trick. Oh, and that avocado green dishwasher? Yeah. Replace it with a white or stainless steel dishwasher. And fix anything that is broken or not working.

Now, start painting interior walls with a neutral color. If washing walls is all that is needed, start washing. Update or repair anything that will turn off buyers.

Start Moving Out Four Weeks Prior to Listing

Packing to move

Really. Get a storage pod or unit and start loading boxes you’ve packed into it a little at a time. This helps prepare you for the upcoming move and your house for proper staging. Remember, a well-staged home sells faster! Pack personal items and extra mixing bowls, pitchers, containers, furniture you can live without.

Because the sellers began working in a new town, they rented a storage unit there. Each morning they packed the pickup with whatever was packed the day before and unloaded it into the unit. They started moving out in December and had almost everything moved out by April 1st.

Know Your Financials and Keep Cleaning and Decluttering Two to Three Weeks Before Listing

You need to know your financials. If you need help with this and your agent hasn’t already let you know that this information is needed, ask them for help. They’ll tell you where to go and what information you need to gather from whom.

  • Get your loan payout information for your mortgage
  • Know how much you owe so you can figure out what your sales proceeds will be
  • Clear up liens on the property if there are any

And keep cleaning, decluttering, and packing. You want your home to look as much like a model home as possible. And a good agent will provide the services of a home stager and professional photographer to market your home well.

  • Pack personal items
  • Make sure furniture makes sense for the space
  • Keep painting and/or cleaning

One Week Before Listing, It’s Time to Market Your House

It’s time for your home’s glamour shots! Follow the home stager’s advice before picture day. You want your home’s glamour shots looking so good, they’ll make you have second thoughts about moving.

Your agent will create an engaging, accurate, and appealing description of your home. What made you fall in love with your home when you bought it? Share that in the description.

Listing your home

The Big Day – Listing Day!

Make sure your agent puts the “FOR SALE” sign up in your yard and stocks the flyer box with flyers. Your house should be listed on all the major online real estate sites, too.

Keep It Clean Until There’s a Contract

Until the house is actually SOLD, you must live keep it clean. Keep counters and other flat services free of clutter and put everything put away. Wash, dry, and put away whatever you use at meal time.

The sellers sold their home in just two short weeks, but they had being “on the ready” for a walkthroughs down to a science. They were ready to walk out the door even when a buyer’s agent requested to drop by “in a few minutes.”

Dishes were done. Bathrooms were clean. And everything was wiped down. Floors were swept. Carpets were vacuumed. And a checklist was placed in a laundry basket by the front door. Here are some of the items in the basket:

  • Garbage bags to remind them to take out all the trashes
  • Decorator towels for each bathroom, folded and ready to be hung.
  • Same for the kitchen
  • Clean throw for the overstuffed chair
  • Purse and keys
  • Coupons and snacks to eat while they were out of the house
  • Grocery and errands lists to conquer while they were gone, too

And they never forgot to take the dog with them.

Get Excited About How Quickly the Offers Come In


Your agent will receive feedback following each showing. And the sooner you sell, the higher the price you’ll receive for your house. So if you’re not seeing a steady flow of offers or interest, consider adjusting the price.

Celebrate the Sale!

When you decide to sell your house, there is a lot to do before you list it. But when you follow the plan laid out to you by your listing agent and consider their suggestions, the end result is a SOLD sign soon after it lists.

Before you decide to sell your home, contact me, Charles D’Alessandroyour Brooklyn Real Estate Agent with Fillmore Real Estate. With over 30 plus years as a Brooklyn real estate agent and broker, I can help you navigate the selling process from list to close.

Our office is completely shut down and committed to your safety during the COVID-19 health crisis in compliance with the State of New York public health policies. I can be reached by phone at (718) 253-9600 ext. 1901 or by email at [email protected].


Charles D'Alessandro

Charles D’Alessandro
Your Brooklyn Real Estate Agent
718-253-9600 ext. 1901


How Much Money Will You See From the Sale of Your Home?

June 30th, 2020

Big question, “How much money will you actually see from the sale of your home?” It’s one of the first questions sellers ask when they put their home on the market. But there are a lot of factors that come into play when calculating your home sales profits. And sellers are often blindsided by the closing costs.

Home sales profits
Home seller, do you want to know how much money you’ll see from the sale of your home? Of course, you do!

What are Closing Costs?

In New York, real estate closings are very technical procedures. And when you close on a property, it involves costs.

Closing costs are fees paid by the buyer and the seller when the title of the property is transferred from the seller to the buyer at the close of a real estate transaction. And they are separate from your agents’ commissions.

Buyers pay for more at closing than the seller does. But it’s usually the seller’s responsibility to cover both agents’ commissions. And real estate agent commissions run between 4 to 6 percent of the purchase price.

As the seller, your closing costs are subtracted from the profit you make on the home.

What Fees are Deducted from the Sale of Your Home?

According to Mosheslaw.com, the closing costs you can expect to be deducted from the sale of your home at closing can include:

  • Fees the lender charges you to process and finalize your loan
  • Appraisal fees
  • Inspection fees
  • Credit search fees
  • Title search fees
  • Real estate attorney fees for closing
  • Transfer taxes
  • Prepaid property taxes
  • Prepaid interest
  • Homeowner’s insurance

These costs vary by lender. They also vary depending on what type of property you are purchasing – a house, co-op, or condo. And they equal about six to ten percent of the sale price of your home.

Transfer taxes are a major fee that you as the seller will pay. In New York, transfer taxes depend on the type of property you’re selling. But you can plan on paying 1 percent of the sale price for a residential property selling for $500,000 or less. If the sale price is $500,000 or more, you can expect to pay a transfer tax of 1.425 percent. The State of New York charges the seller $4 for every $1,000 of the sale price.

You should also be aware that as the seller, you may incur a Capital Gain tax when taxes come due at the end of the tax year.

Estimating closing costs

 Mosheslaw.com offers a free consultation for closing costs for sellers in New York.

What are the Average Closing Costs for Sellers in New York?

Closing costs for sellers in New York are slightly higher than costs for buyers. They range from 8 to 10 percent for sellers. It’s crucial to have an experienced real estate attorney with you throughout the entire real estate transaction, but especially during closing. Why? Because simple mistakes made during the property sale negotiation or when the paperwork is being filled out could cost you thousands of dollars. And an attorney who doesn’t practice real estate law, much of the real estate transaction process will be foreign to them. Thus, it is extremely important that you hire an experienced real estate lawyer.

As a seller in New York, you can expect to pay the following closing costs:

  • Attorney’s fees vary depending on the time they spend preparing documents and giving advice
  • County clerks charge $30 to $100 for recording fees
  • Transfer Tax in New York is about 1.825 percent of the sale price
  • Mortgage contracts provide for the repayment of the outstanding mortgage. Buyers won’t take usually take a property unless the mortgage for the property is paid off before closing. This cost depends on the amount of the remaining mortgage, so this amount is impossible to estimate.
  • Your real estate broker’s commission is 5 to 6 percent of the sale price

What You can Expect Before and at Closing

Before closing, a lender is required to list all closing costs in detail on an initial loan estimate when you apply for the loan. And they must update their closing costs estimate a few days before you and the buyer close. These updated closing costs must be disclosed on the Closing Disclosure. This allows you to know what your closing costs will be and allow you to be prepared for them before closing actually takes place.

Closing usually occurs between 60 and 90 days after the contract is signed. After the contract is signed, the buyer sends your attorney a down payment. Down payments in the State of New York average around 10 percent of the purchase price. And the down payment is held in an escrow account.

If the buyer walks away from the contract before closing day, they risk losing their down payment without a justified reason, aka a mortgage contingency clause.

In preparation for closing, your real estate attorney will:

1. Order a title report to determine if there are unsatisfied liens or property violations for you to resolve before closing

2. Complete paperwork requested by the lender and deliver the documentation required

3. Help the buyer calculate the amount owed to you at closing

4. Determine how much you will owe to lenders, the title company, and third-parties (co-op boards for example) who are involved in your real estate transaction

5. Represent you making sure the deed, transfer tax returns, and mortgage documents are in order, and that they state what you agreed to previously

At closing, you will pay your real estate attorney and other closing costs.

Assisting You in the Sale of Your Home in New York

There are a lot of additional requirements and local real estate transaction customs in New York City. Again, an experienced real estate attorney will walk you through your real estate transaction making sure everything is correct and without issues.

If you are considering the sale of your home, contact me, Charles D’Alessandroyour Brooklyn Real Estate Agent with Fillmore Real Estate. With over 30 plus years as a Brooklyn real estate agent and broker, I can direct you to an experienced real estate attorney and help you sell your home.

Our office is completely shut down and committed to your safety during the COVID-19 health crisis in compliance with the State of New York public health policies. I can be reached by phone at (718) 253-9600 ext. 1901 or by email at [email protected].


Charles D'Alessandro

Charles D’Alessandro
Your Brooklyn Real Estate Agent
718-253-9600 ext. 1901


The Best Way to Keep Your Home Clean and Safe Every Day

June 15th, 2020

If you’re wondering which way is the best way to keep your home clean and safe on a daily basis, this blog post is a must-read. Cleaning often is tedious to do throughout each day, but it is inexpensive and doable. But don’t stress about it. Just be mindful and clean, clean, clean!

Keep your home clean
There is a simple way to keep your home clean and safe.

Pandemic Versus Epidemic

Do you know what the difference is between a pandemic and an epidemic?

Pandemic

According to Merriam-Webster, when used as an adjective, pandemic means “occurring over a wide geographic area and affecting an exceptionally high proportion of the population.” But when used as a noun, it means “an outbreak of a disease that occurs over a wide geographic area and affects an exceptionally high proportion of the population.”

Epidemic

And according to Merriam-Webster, when epidemic is used as an adjective, it means “affecting or tending to affect a disproportionately large number of individuals within a population, community, or region at the same time.” But when used as a noun, it means “characterized by very widespread growth or extent of, relating to, or constituting an epidemic.”

Merriam-Webster further states, “An epidemic is an outbreak of disease that spreads quickly and affects many individuals at the same time. A pandemic is a kind of epidemic: one which has spread across a wider geographic range than an epidemic, and which has affected a significant portion of the population.”

Sanitize and Disinfect to Keep Your Home Clean

All it takes is a great spray bottle, some hydrogen peroxide, and 70% isopropyl alcohol. You don’t have to have a rag to wipe things down after you spritz your surfaces. But your wood and finished surfaces will do better if you follow up with a wipe down. Plus, you’ll wipe up some dirt for an even cleaner home.

1. Disinfect frequently-touched surfaces such as doorknobs, handrails, and tables.

2. Wipe down frequently-used appliances and areas such as large appliances, bathrooms, and countertops.

3. Sanitize the small stuff, too, such as light switches, remote control, and cell phone.

4. Disinfect outside items such as shoes and items you touched while you were out and about.

5. Wash your hands.

Wash hands properly

Wash Your Hands Properly

Wash your hands and wash them often to help keep your home clean. And when should you wash your hands?

  • After you go to the bathroom
  • When you blow your nose, cough, or sneeze
  • Before you eat
  • After you touch a surface that could be contaminated

And there is a way to properly wash your hands. This video from John Hopkins Medicine shows you how.

Keep Your Home Clean Now for Selling Later

And when you keep your home clean, really clean on a regular basis, you’re actually preparing your home to sell should you decide to do so.

If you in the market to sell or buy a new home, contact me, Charles D’Alessandroyour Brooklyn Real Estate Agent with Fillmore Real Estate. With 30 plus years of experience in the real estate industry, I can help even during these uncertain times.

Our office is completely shut down and committed to your safety during the COVID-19 health crisis in compliance with the State of New York public health policies. I can be reached by phone at (718) 253-9600 ext. 1901 or by email at [email protected].


Charles D'Alessandro

Charles D’Alessandro
Your Brooklyn Real Estate Agent
718-253-9600 ext. 1901


What are the Best Mortgage Questions You’re Afraid to Ask?

May 15th, 2020

It doesn’t matter if you’re a first-time homebuyer or an experienced homebuyer. Homebuyers always have mortgage questions. And there is no mortgage question your mortgage lender hasn’t already heard. So whether those questions make you feel uncomfortable, naïve, or even stupid, ask them. Remember what your dad told you? “There is NO stupid question except for the one you didn’t ask.” Don’t be afraid to ask the awkward questions.

Mortgage questions
There are no stupid mortgage questions. And there are none your mortgage lender hasn’t already heard. So ask!

Find a Mortgage Lender Who has Your Best Interest in Mind

I’m all for transparency. But not wanting to ask uncomfortable mortgage questions of a complete stranger or a new acquaintance is quite understandable. I mean, who wants to “lay all their cards out on the table,” with someone they just met?

But you can’t shock a mortgage lender! Remember, they’ve heard it all before. And that means they have the answers to all those awkward mortgage questions, too.

Before we share a few examples of awkward mortgage questions, here is a key piece of advice. Only work with a loan mortgage lender who feels like a friend, someone who truly has your best interest in mind.

Yes, opening up about your personal life and finances is scary. We’re reluctant to reveal what we really care about because it makes us feel exposed and vulnerable. But strong financial relationships are built on trust, emotional trust. Since you need a strong relationship with your loan officer, open up to them with complete honesty. See Vanguard’s 2017 research.

So find and work only with a loan officer who is happy to answer all of your mortgage questions. No matter how trivial your mortgage questions may seem to you, a great loan officer will be glad you asked and will help you make financial decisions you’ll be confident with.

Best mortgage questions

Awkward Mortgage Questions Aren’t as Scary as You Think

1. “Will I lose my deposit, and can I still qualify for a home loan if I lose my job before or during the homebuying process?”

Above all, it’s important to be upfront about everything. If you fail to disclose that you lost your job before closing, you increase your risk of defaulting on your loan and foreclosure.

Verification of employment and income plays a huge part in getting prequalified and approved for a mortgage. Your mortgage lender looks at your debt-to-income ratio, your W2s for the past two years, your credit history, and more.

When someone loses their job before or during the homebuying process, the mortgage lender:

  • Recalculates earnings
  • Submits a new mortgage application
  • Provides new options

Your new financial situation will give you two options to consider.

a. Qualify for a smaller loan and buy a house in that price range

b. Still qualify for the same loan amount if you have more than one job or a low debt-to-income ratio

Homebuying Tip: Show sellers you’re a serious buyer. Get prequalified. Prequalifying before you start house shopping helps you find and get into a home faster.

2. “Can my ex be removed from my mortgage after I get divorced?”

Everything comes into play in divorce – mortgage payments, utility bills, home size, and family living arrangements.

There are two options to resolve this:

a. Sell your house

b. One spouse can buy out the other

The easiest option is selling your house and dividing the profits.

But if one of you wants to keep the house, one spouse must buy out the other and an agreement on the amount of the buyout must be determined. To determine the amount of the buyout, subtract the cost of selling from the home’s appraised value to equal the amount of equity leftover. Then split this amount between both parties. The spouse keeping the house will pay that amount to the other.

If a spouse chooses to use a mortgage refinance to pay the buyout amount agreed upon, the other partner is removed from the home’s title. Fannie Mae lets a partner borrow up to 95 percent of the home’s appraised value in a buyout.

3. “Does my husband/wife have to be on the loan or deed?”

Signing mortgage papers

Your odds of qualification based on credit score, employment history, and income are greatly improved when both of you are on the loan application. But in the United States, both spouses’ names are not required to apply for the loan. So, if your partner’s debt or credit score could hurt you, it might be wise to leave them off the loan or deed.

But know this, your non-borrowing spouse may still need to get a credit check during the mortgage process. If this is what you choose to do, you are solely responsible for the mortgage. Your name will be the sole name listed on the deed. And you will be solely responsible for the mortgage payments.

And if you decide to add your non-borrowing spouse’s name to the title, you can. Use a quitclaim deed.

You can also choose to add your partner’s name to your mortgage later on with a mortgage modification or by refinancing your mortgage. By refinancing your mortgage (taking out a new loan to replace your current mortgage), you will apply for a new loan again as co-borrowers.

If you choose to add your spouse to your mortgage later on, let your mortgage lender know that you want to do so. They’ll either decline or accept.

4. “What happens to my mortgage if I file for bankruptcy?”

A mortgage lender cannot change your loan terms or raise your rate if you file for bankruptcy.

If you file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you may be at risk of losing your home.

But if you file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you may be permitted to keep your house and continue paying your monthly mortgage.

Again, now is the time to talk with your mortgage lender. It is their job to find ways to work with you to either modify or reaffirm your loan. Then you can continue paying on and living in your home.

5. “I owe back child support. Does that matter?”

Back child support

Yes, it does. If back child support has gone to collection or judgment, it will factor negatively into your mortgage prequalification. Back child support shows up as a negative on your credit and makes you appear to be a greater risk to a lender. Do not skip talking to your mortgage lender about this.

Also, discuss how paying down your child support debt improves your chances of getting approved for a home loan. Show your mortgage lender how you’re managing your debt. Get a court-approved repayment plan or proof of payment and show it to them.

And if you are able to, pay the debt in full. This will ease the burden on your credit and make you eligible for an FHA or VA loan.

6. “I received a letter from my lender because I didn’t pay my property taxes. What do I do?”

If you don’t or can’t pay your property tax bill, your local tax office charges monthly interest. Penalties for overdue payment may also be charged. When this continues month after month, eventually a tax lien is placed on your property. Now you can’t sell your home until the tax bill is paid.

So what do you do if a tax notice or a letter from your lender shows up in your mailbox? Contact both a tax attorney and your mortgage lender ASAP. Even when you are making monthly mortgage payments, failure to pay property taxes is considered an “event of default.” And this could put you at risk for foreclosure.

There are relief options available to help you get back on track. Ask your mortgage lender about these:

  • Making late payments
  • Requesting a tax deferral
  • Establishing a payment plan
  • Taking out a property tax loan to pay down the debt in monthly installments

7. Why do you need to know where the money deposited in my account comes from?

Large deposits that are unrelated to your earnings require explanation during the mortgage approval process. To make sure the large deposit came from an acceptable source, the underwriter asks for verification. Confirmation of a large deposit is another way for an underwriter to find out if you’ve taken out a new loan or line of credit.

New loans or lines of credit potentially affect your debt-to-income ratio and the loan amount you can afford. And mortgage lenders will always tell you not to take out a new loan or line of credit when you’re trying to buy a new home.

8. “Do I have to stick with the real estate agent I started with?”

Mortgage questions

Poor communication, lack of experience, weak negotiating skills, personality clashes, and more happens. And buyers break up with their real estate agent after the contract’s been signed. Know this: you’re making the investment. It is well within your rights to switch agents while in escrow. But how can you keep this from being awkward?

  • Go to the brokerage and request another agent
  • Select another agent from another brokerage
  • Ask your mortgage lender for a Realtor Partner referral

Sometimes an early termination fee is required in your listing contract.

But document each time you feel the ball was dropped to provide “proof” of your dissatisfaction with your agent. Most agents appreciate an honest explanation from a client as to why their services were terminated. And that’s fair. You can’t improve upon something you did or the way you did it when you don’t know about it. Right?

And there’s always the possibility of problems or miscommunications getting resolved before a breakup happens. Nonetheless, it’s well within your rights to terminate representation without providing an explanation.

9. “Will my mortgage be sold to another company after I buy a house?”

Selling a loan to a servicing company is commonplace and a way many lenders stay in business. By selling loans to servicing companies, the funds a lender needs to take on new borrowers are freed up. Plus, this allows a lender to continue offering affordable loans with competitive rates.

A lender has the right to sell your loan to a servicing company at any time. But in order to do so, you as the borrower must be notified no less than 15 days prior to the transfer. When a servicing company takes over your mortgage, there’s not much you need to do at all. Your mortgage terms and payment (with the exception of adjustable-rate interest) remains the same. You just send your mortgage payment to a new company every month.

Since mortgages are either 15 or 30-year mortgages, yes, it’s likely yours will be sold to another company. Lenders aren’t always able to service every home loan they fund. If they were, outstanding balances could add up to billions of dollars in available funds. This is why borrowers’ loans are bundled and sold to investors, like Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae for example, based on risk level.

10. “What do I do if my mortgage company loses my payment?”

It’s happened. People pay their mortgage payments by check, and they get lost in the mail. If yours has been lost in the mail, or you think your mortgage company or loan servicer lost your payment, contact their customer service department immediately. Your lender will help you track down your payment and get it credited to your account.

When paying your mortgage payment by check, your bank can see if it has cleared, verify when it was sent and deposited, and where, for proof of payment. Contact them if your payment is truly lost. And if your bank cannot verify that this check was processed, place a stop payment on the check. Then, call your servicing company. Inform them of the situation and let them know you are sending another payment.

Paying online and making sure each mortgage payment goes through each month prevents miscommunication and keeps your loan from going into default.

11. “If I can’t make my mortgage payment, what should I do?”

If you can no longer afford your mortgage, contact your mortgage lender. They want you to keep your home as much as you do. They’ll ask about your financial difficulties, whether they are permanent or temporary, and why you can no longer make your payment. Then, they’ll assess your financial situation and offer solutions that can help you. Your lender will explore mortgage refinance, loan modification, a repayment plan, mortgage assistance programs, forbearance, or short-selling your home before you’re faced with foreclosure or bankruptcy.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau also recommends meeting with a free HUD-approved housing counselor to receive professional guidance that can help you to avoid foreclosure.

Get Answers to Your Mortgage Questions

And the answer to the question, “What are the best mortgage questions you’re afraid to ask,” is all of them!

Don’t hesitate to ask your mortgage questions. Find a great mortgage lender and get the help you need from them each step of the way.

If you want help finding a great mortgage lender, contact me, Charles D’Alessandroyour Brooklyn Real Estate Agent with Fillmore Real Estate. With 30 plus years of experience in the real estate industry, I can help.

Our office is completely shut down and committed to your safety during the COVID-19 health crisis in compliance with the State of New York public health policies. I can be reached by phone at (718) 253-9600 ext. 1901 or by email at [email protected].


Charles D'Alessandro

Charles D’Alessandro
Your Brooklyn Real Estate Agent
718-253-9600 ext. 1901