10 Useful Closing Checklist Tips After Everything is Out of the House

May 15th, 2018
Closing checklist

Once the house is empty, use these useful closing checklist tips to help you efficiently wrap up the moving process for closing day.

There are certain things every responsible home seller should do once everything is out of the house. It seems the selling process just cannot be completed as needed until your personal belongings and furniture are out. Once the house is empty, these useful closing checklist tips will wrap up the moving process in an efficient way.

Closing Checklist Tips 1 Through 10

Tip #1: Keep It Together

Your escrow officer or closing agent will give you a closing package containing seller disclosures, the purchase contract, and closing statement. Keep them together in a file folder that is easily accessible in a safe place.

Tip #2: Clean It Up

Clean the house yourself or hire a cleaning professional to do it for you. “Clean” can be a relative term. Basically, leave the house in better condition than you would like to find your new home in.

  • Wipe down cabinets, inside and out, and shelves
  • Vacuum the floors
  • Clean kitchen appliances, inside the refrigerator and oven
  • Wipe down kitchen counters
  • Scour sinks, tubs, and toilets
  • Wash flooring
  • Throw away trash
  • Properly dispose of toxic chemicals
  • Sweep the garage floor
  • Stack paint cans, roofing materials, or extra flooring

This is your last opportunity to make a great impression on the buyer. Make a good one and go the extra mile.

Tip #3: Set It Aside

If you don’t already have a place for appliance manuals, receipts, building plans, and warranties, set them aside as you come across them. I’m talking manuals for the HVAC, security system, sprinkler system, contractor receipts for the awnings you added above the front and back doors, and their warranties. Staple the receipts to their manuals and put it all in a file folder. You can leave this file in a drawer or on the kitchen counter for the buyers. They’ll greatly appreciate the thoughtfulness!

Tip #4: Walk Through It

Attend the final walkthrough. There are lots of things about your home that only you as the home seller will know. Traits like how to reset the on-demand hot water heater when the water turns cold while showering. Attending the final walkthrough will give you the opportunity to graciously pass on any quirks or traits to the home buyer.

Tip #5: Turn It Off

Make sure the water shut-off valve to each appliance is completely turned off. Disconnecting the appliances from their water sources is not enough. Even a small but steady drip, can eventually flood a home. Some sellers are extra careful and will shut off water sources valves to sinks, toilets, and dishwashers, too.

Note: Leave a note for the buyers telling them which water source valves have been shut off.

Tip #6: Cancel It

When you know the deed has been recorded or the title transfer has formally taken place, call your insurance agent and cancel your insurance policies. There should be a refund check from a prepaid premium for your homeowner’s insurance due you.

Tip #7: Stop and Cancel It

Stop the newspaper and cancel the utilities. Write a list of your utility companies and their phone numbers, including the newspaper subscription if you have one. And don’t forget about the utilities you pay quarterly.

Tip #8:  Leave It

All of your house keys, remotes, shed keys, mailbox keys, and codes should be left in a kitchen drawer for the buyers. They’ll probably change the locks for safe measure, but you should still leave keys, codes, and remotes.

Tip #9: Run Through It One Last Time

Make a last pass through the house. Check every cabinet, drawer, and storage place for forgotten items. If your spouse, friend, or family member tells you they went through every room with a fine-toothed comb, run through everything one more time. You might find something insignificant, like an empty bottle, but it will give you peace of mind.

When we moved last year, we left the old toboggan that my dad bought for our family for Christmas when I was in 6th grade. We forgot about it up in the rafters of the garage. I loved that thing and the memories we have tied to it. Fortunately for us, the buyer texted us about it, and we were able to retrieve it.

Tip #10: Close It Up

Finally, latch the windows, turn off the lights, and lock the door. Yes, you’d be surprised by how many people forget to close up the house. And this is important. If no one can see inside, the chances of a break-in are less likely.

On the day of closing, you and the buyer will have separate chances to sign the closing documents. Your agent will congratulate you on the close of your escrow and everyone can celebrate.

With over 30 years of experience in the Brooklyn real estate market, Charles is a Brooklyn Real Estate Agent you can trust to sell your home and support you every step of the way in the process. He knows what it takes to get your home sold. Contact Charles D’Alessandroyour Brooklyn Real Estate Agent with Fillmore Real Estate at (718) 253-9600 ext.206 or email [email protected]. for the best closing checklist for your home.


 Charles D’Alessandro

Your Brooklyn Real Estate Agent

718-253-9600 ext. 206

[email protected]

 


What are Your Responsibilities for Closing the Sale?

April 30th, 2018
Closing

What are your responsibilities for closing the sale of your house?

Congratulations! You’ve sold your house and have agreed with your buyer on a closing date. And everything that happens from the time escrow is opened until the final paperwork is recorded at the county courthouse is known as the closing.

Escrow will order the preliminary title report, the payoff balances from your lenders, the property tax balance due either to you or the county and other essential paperwork needed to complete the sale. But as the seller, what are your responsibilities for closing the sale?

Your Responsibilities as the Seller

During this period known as the closing, your responsibilities as the seller are to:

  • Maintain the house
  • Negotiate and repair issues the buyer’s inspector finds. Make sure repairs agreed upon are completed for the buyer’s final walkthrough.
  • If your buyer’s lender requires a survey of the property, review the document. If you think something is wrong, question the boundaries.
  • Notify your utility companies of your last day of service
  • Finish packing, loading up and moving out by the closing date

But don’t cancel your homeowner’s insurance policy yet. Wait to cancel it until the transfer of ownership has been recorded.

Your Responsibilities on Closing Day

On the day your home transaction closes, your deed is sent to be filed at the county courthouse. You and the buyer will sign a stack of closing documents at the title agency at separate times. You as the seller usually sign your stack of documents before the buyer signs their stack.

Agent commissions, mortgage payoffs, and down payments will all be paid on closing day. And if there are proceeds coming to you, you will receive a proceeds check.

At the time the buyer signs their stack of documents, they will receive the keys, remotes for the garage doors, and possibly receipts from any work that was agreed on to be done.

Bring the following with you on closing day:

  • The deed to your home, if the home is paid off and has no mortgage or liens
  • Your driver’s license or passport for a photo ID
  • If required, bring a certified check for the amount told to you by escrow
  • The keys, garage door openers, and security codes for the house

If you have been keeping warranties and instructions for heating, cooling, and plumbing systems, as well as for the appliances that will stay with the house, leave them for the buyer when you move out.

Your Responsibilities for Expenses as the Seller

  • The outstanding mortgage
  • Real estate commissions
  • Property taxes, utility bills, homeowner’s insurance, and condominium dues, if any are due (most of this is prorated at closing)
  • Escrow, title and/or attorney fees

Warranties are a kind of insurance policy that guarantees the mechanical systems and appliances for the year. If you live where home warranties are popular, this could mean another expense for you.

If your sales price doesn’t cover the total cost of paying off your loan and the other costs of sale, whatever you agreed to pay at closing will be deducted from your selling price or proceeds.

You can determine your closing costs will be here.

For more information on what your responsibilities as seller on closing day are, contact Charles D’Alessandroyour Brooklyn Real Estate Agent with Fillmore Real Estate at (718) 253-9600 ext.206 or email [email protected]. With over 30 years of experience in the Brooklyn real estate market, Charles is a Brooklyn Real Estate Agent you can trust to sell your home from the beginning of the home selling process to closing day.


Charles D’Alessandro

Your Brooklyn Real Estate

718-253-9600 ext. 206

[email protected]

Resource: zillow.com


When You Need Home Improvement Projects with Great ROI Now

April 15th, 2018

carpenter installing crown moulding

Almost every home could use some updating here and there, now and then. How about yours? In the blog post, “How to Add Value to Your Property for a Quick Sale,” we listed a general overview of home improvements that can increase the value of your home. But here are some home projects with a great ROI (Return On Investment) based on Remodeling magazine’s newly-released Cost vs. Value Report for 2018. Not only will these projects bring a better selling price, they’ll also help your home sell faster.

Remodeling is far more cost-effective than replacing, but real estate pros say replacing is still the way to go. There’s a great ROI of 76.1 percent for replacement jobs. That’s a whole 20 percent more than remodeling jobs, which are at 56 percent this year.

6 Weekend Projects with a Great ROI

Projects that increase the value of your home don’t always take a ton of time, effort, and money.

  1. Update Your Kitchen Cabinets

Old oak cabinets with dated shiny brass hardware don’t require a complete gut job. Instead, spend a weekend repainting your old cabinets with a neutral color of paint. Finish the project off with new hardware to complete an updated look.

  1. Add Crown Molding

Make your home look bigger with crown molding. Yes, crown molding at the top of painted walls draws the eye upward, making a room appear bigger than it is. Start with rooms that are likely to yield a great ROI:

  • Kitchen
  • Bathrooms
  • Living spaces
  • Master bedroom
  1. Landscape the Yards

No one will want to walk through your front door unless the first impression is stunning. You can overhaul your front yard easily and quickly. Impress potential buyers by adding a path of pavers or sprucing up your flowerbeds with colorful blooms, for example. These two home improvement projects are fast and easy to do.

But don’t stop in the front yard. If your home entertains a lot of outdoor activity, landscape the backyard, too. A functioning fire pit, patio or deck furniture (a simple picnic table works well), and strings of outdoor lights make everyone, including potential buyers, envision themselves enjoying a meal or drinks outside.

  1. Replace Your Garage Door

Replacing the garage door is an easy way to increase the value of your home. And it has a great ROI. Garage door replacement has an ROI of 98.3 percent. That’s up from 85 percent year-over-year!

  1. Beautify Your Bathrooms

Bathrooms, like kitchens, have a major impact on potential buyers’ emotions toward a home. They expect clean, up-to-date bathrooms, just like they do kitchens. And, thankfully, bathroom improvement overhauls are easily done in a weekend.

Take a look at:

  • Lighting fixtures
  • Vanities
  • Hardware
  • Tile

Does everything need updating, or just an item or two? Again, you don’t have to shell out a ton of money to update a bathroom. And if you have the patience, you can demo and retile the bathroom yourself to save a lot of money.

  1. Say Goodbye to Dated Trends

What was once considered fresh and fashionable in the 70s, 80s, or 90s is out. All of those trends now give your home a very dated and ugly appearance. It’s time for all that is really old to “get outta town” to make room for the 21st century.

The list of outdated decorating trends is truly endless. But wallpaper, floor-to-ceiling wood paneling that may or not be wood, and popcorn ceilings are the three biggest offenders. Removing these three things alone (a popcorn ceiling doesn’t take much effort) will increase the value of your home and yield a great ROI.

6 Home Improvement Projects that Yield the Greatest ROI

Nationally, when it comes to home improvement projects with a great ROI, curb appeal yields the most. But here are the top six projects with the greatest ROI according to Remodeling magazine’s newly-released Cost vs. Value Report for 2018:

Garage Door Replacement – yields a 98.3% ROI

Manufactured Stone Veneer – yields a 97.1% ROI

Entry Door Replacement (Steel) – yields a 91.3% ROI

Deck Addition (Wood) – yields an 82.8% ROI

Minor Kitchen Remodel – yields an 81.1% ROI

Siding Replacement – yields a 76.7% ROI

If you live in Brooklyn Brownstone, a few of these home improvement projects may not apply. But go for the ones that will work to increase the value of your home, inside and out. Oh! And Mother’s Day is fast approaching. Why not gift one of these home improvement projects to Mom, even if she isn’t considering selling her home?

Do you need help deciding which home improvement(s) to make for a great ROI? Contact  Charles D’Alessandroyour Brooklyn Real Estate Agent with Fillmore Real Estate at (718) 253-9600 ext.206 or email [email protected]. With over 30 years of experience in the Brooklyn real estate market, he knows what it takes to sell your home quickly and for the best price.


Charles D’Alessandro

Your Brooklyn Real Estate Agent with Fillmore Real Estate

718-253-9600 ext. 206

[email protected]


How to Add Value to Your Property for a Quick Sale

March 30th, 2018
Quick sale

Consider doing whatever is necessary to enhance your home’s positives for a quick sale, like a fresh coat of neutral paint, for example.

Everyone hopes for a quick sale when they put their home on the market. And a quick sale is more of a possibility when you put some time and money into improvements before you list. Here’s how you can get the most out of your home.

Improvements That Will Increase Your Home’s Value for a Quick Sale

I’m not recommending that you go all out and start knocking down walls to create an open floor plan. I am, however, recommending that you consider doing whatever is necessary to enhance your home’s positives for a quick sale, like a fresh coat of neutral paint. It isn’t wise to invest more than you can honestly afford to spend on improvements. And if the ROI won’t happen in the price of your home, it isn’t worth it. Visit NAR’s Remodeling Impact Report to help you decide which improvement projects you should take on for a quick sale.

To Increase Your Home’s Value by:

30 Percent

  1. Convert your basement
  2. Split up your home into flats or apartments

15 Percent

  1. Add onto or extend your home’s living space
  2. Convert your loft
  3. Add central heating and/or air conditioning
  4. Go green with solar energy

10 Percent

  1. Boost your curb appeal
  2. Create off-street parking
  3. Add more insulation in the loft
  4. Make easy upgrades around the house
  5. Restore or refine your home’s character
  6. Keep and enhance period features
  7. Rewire your home

3 to 5 Percent

  1. Add a conservatory
  2. Add a garden room
  3. Update a bathroom
  4. Remove internal walls to create an open floor plan
  5. Fix structural defects (even if it’s just a bunch of small repairs, like tightening a handrail or replacing a broken tile, for example)
  6. Add double-paned windows
  7. Make room for natural light

1 to 3 Percent

  1. Add a feature to your garden
  2. Give your rooms a makeover with paint and/or new pillows, bedspreads, linens, …
  3. Improve air quality

Are you hoping for a quick sale? Do you need help deciding which home improvements will yield the best ROI (return on investment)? Avoid making costly improvements that won’t bring you the best ROI. Choose to work with Charles D’Alessandro. He’s got over 30 years of experience in the Brooklyn real estate market to help you sell your home for the best price. Call him at (718) 253-9600 ext. 206 or email [email protected] today.


Charles D’Alessandro

Your Brooklyn Real Estate Agent with Fillmore Real Estate

718-253-9600 ext. 206

[email protected]


Beware of the Latest Real Estate Wire Fraud Scams!

March 15th, 2018
Wire fraud scams

The latest real estate wire fraud scams can be prevented with encrypted email software and awareness. Be prepared and stay safe!

Beware! Individuals and law firms are falling victim to real estate wire fraud scams! Con artists today are sophisticated and tech-savvy. And we should all be “on our toes” about their latest ploys to scam us out of our livelihoods. Recently, buyers, sellers, real estate agents, and closing attorneys, who are involved in real estate closings, have been the targets of wire fraud scams. Victims are going bankrupt and law firms and real estate companies are going out of business because of this latest scam.

How are Con Artists Working Real Estate Wire Fraud Scams?

How do criminals attempt real estate wire fraud scams? They hack into the email accounts of those involved in a real estate transaction. Then, they gain unauthorized access to third-party email accounts due to the lack of use of email encryption software. And it takes only one person involved in the real estate transaction to be without this software for con artists to engage in wire fraud scams.

Here’s a scenario to help explain how it works.

The closing details are emailed to the buyer, buyer’s real estate agent, seller’s real estate agent, buyer’s attorney, and the seller’s attorney. And the particulars of the closing include sensitive information: wiring information, closing figures, names, contact information. If only one of the people involved in this real estate transaction fails to use encryption software to protect the email chain, a con artist can intercept the email chain and gain access to everything they need to engage in wire fraud scam. And it’s not hard for them to do this because this kind of computer software is readily available.

Variations of Wire Fraud Scams

There are two variations of wire fraud scams which are most common.

  1. A criminal intercepts the emails then sends a bogus email to the buyer posing as the closing attorney. The criminal, aka bogus closing attorney, requests that the buyer wire their purchase funds to the scammer’s bank account.
  2. A criminal intercepts the emails then sends a bogus email to the closing attorney posing as the seller. The criminal, aka bogus seller, requests that the closing attorney wire the seller’s proceeds to the scammer’s bank account.

In both cases, the money is wired to a bank located in another county or in the United States. The criminal withdraws the funds immediately and then wires the money to a bank in a foreign country. Sadly, before these wire fraud scams are discovered, the banks or the FBI cannot recover the funds.

Don’t Allow Yourself to be a Victim of Wire Fraud Scams

I know I’m stating the obvious here, but if you are involved in a real estate transaction, encrypted email software is a must. It is not an option! Protect yourself from real estate wire fraud scams. Don’t allow yourself to become a victim of the latest criminal scam. If you receive wiring instructions in an email, call your closing attorney at a number you know is valid to verify the wiring instructions. Do not call the number included in the email with wiring instructions.

If you have questions regarding encrypted email software, call Charles D’Allesandro, your Brooklyn Real Estate Agent with Fillmore Real Estate, at (718) 253-9600 ext. 206 or email [email protected]


Charles D’Alessandro

Your Brooklyn Real Estate Agent with Fillmore Real Estate

718-253-9600 ext. 206

[email protected]


How to Increase Your Selling Price without Going Broke

February 28th, 2018
Increase your selling price

There are many ways to update and stage your home to increase your selling price before you list. And most of them won’t break the bank to do.

Ahhh spring! It marks the beginning of new growth and welcome changes in our surroundings and in the weather. Frigid temps, cabin fever, followed by warmer weather encourage people to get out and about “for a change.”And that goes for real estate as well. People are tired of cold weather and being cooped up inside. They’re ready for a change. For many, that means a change of address. So if you’re thinking about listing your home this spring, get ahead of the rush. Increase your selling price with the following ways now, before you list it. And it’s possible to do it without breaking the bank, too.

15 Ways to Increase Your Selling Price Before You List Your Home This Spring

  1. Make a great first impression

Curb appeal is vital. Potential buyers have passed judgment on your home before they walk through your front door. Spruce up the outside of your home and make this first impression count. Try adding a faux finish to corner keystones with two tones of paint. Apply stone sealer to walkway pavers. Dig in the dirt and plant flowers in bloom to impress potential buyers before they get out of the car.

  1. Clean everything thoroughly

Cleaning is essential, and it is the simplest way to increase your selling price. Vacuum, dust, clean windows, scrub/mop floors. Remove unpleasant pet odors and stains from carpet and furniture. If that means the carpet needs to be replaced, go with a neutral color. Get rid of surface mold if you have any. Mix one part water with one part bleach in a spray bottle. Spray it on the mold, and watch it disappear. If your shower door is grimy, clean it with a mixture of one part muriatic acid and 10 parts water. Then scrub it with steel wool and wipe it down. It’ll look like new!

  1. Update the bathroom

Bathrooms sell houses. So, if your dated tile needs updating, use paint. First, apply a coat of high-adhesion primer. Next, apply a covering of special ceramic epoxy. Oh, and pedestal sinks appeal to potential buyers because they can see how much floor space the bathroom has.

  1. Pitch, pack, and stage

Clutter detracts from a home. Pack and/or get rid of stuff that will keep potential buyers from seeing the full potential of your home. Figurines, junk mail, newspapers, magazines, paper piles, clothes, shoes, even pictures and shelves on walls … There is much that you can and should put out of sight before you list your home. Rooms filled with unnecessary items and furniture tell potential buyers that your home lacks highly coveted storage space. And storage space sells.

Paint the walls a neutral tone, and furnish the space in each room to show off the single purpose of each and how functional each one is.

  1. Remove yourself

Remove personal items like family photos, for example. It’s important that potential buyers be able to imagine themselves living in your house. And they won’t be able to with loud paint colors, wall coverings, or accessories. Make it easy for them to see themselves in your house. Neutralize your home.

  1. Remember, less is more

Replace oversized couches, chairs or coffee tables with smaller pieces. If replacing them isn’t possible, get rid of as much as you can. Let potential buyers embrace the space your house has to offer.

  1. Make the master bedroom “neutrally” appealing

Get rid of anything that is specific to male or female buyers. Go with a neutral paint and bedding that matches. Accessorize with only a few items that complement the color scheme you chose.

  1. Paint the old fireplace and fireplace screen

If you have a brick fireplace that stands out like an eyesore, give it a good cleaning. Scrub it with soap and water. Then, you can either polish the bricks using a stone color enhancer to make them shine or tone it down with a light coat of paint that matches the walls. Rubbing a light coat of paint on each brick, one at a time, with rag or brush will make the fireplace take on a new tone and stand out in a favorable way.

Remove the dated brass fireplace screen and wipe it down. Cover the glass with paper and tape. Next, spray the screen with heat-resistant spray paint. Hold the can about 18 inches away, and use long, even strokes. This is an inexpensive quick fix that will make it look like new.

  1. Update the kitchen

Dated kitchens can break a sale. If yours is dated, stain or paint the cupboards and replace the hardware.

If removing old hardware strips the holes in your cabinets, dip a toothpick in glue and put it in the stripped hole. Once the glue is dry, cut off the excess toothpick and put in the updated hardware.

Granite countertops are still a huge selling feature, but they’re expensive. You could do the demo yourself, and ask the vendor for remnants from previous projects to save on this terrific investment. The value granite countertops add to a kitchen is worth any money you invest in them. For a great return on investment, go granite.

Studies show that new kitchen appliances bring high returns from sellers, so get rid of old appliances that date your kitchen. If you can’t afford to install new appliances, you can give your dishwasher an updated look at least. Instead of buying a new one, remove the front panels. Clean them well and apply stainless-steel stick-on covering to each panel.

  1. Dress up your windows inexpensively

Use placemats to make stylish inexpensive window treatments. Here’s how. Apply hook-and-loop fasteners to the placemats. Attach them to a basic curtain rod. Next, pin them together at the bottom. Click here for 18 examples of inexpensive ways to dress up your windows.

  1. Let the sunshine in

Potential buyers love bright and airy rooms. Open up your window shades to let as much light in as possible. Add to the brightness of a room with light-colored paint on the walls and lots of artificial lighting.

  1. Give outdated flooring some TLC

It’s not as difficult to accomplish as you might think it is. To update old wood flooring, isolate damaged boards, cut them out and replace them with new pieces. Rent a sander from a local hardware store, and sand the floor. Lastly, stain the boards with color.

Vinyl tile is an inexpensive way to update your home if it’s done right. When laying the tiles, avoid matching patterns perfectly. Instead, give your floor a natural look and feel. Switch up the direction and placement of the tiles to mix the tones.

  1. Stage built-in bookshelves simply

Everyone loves built-in bookshelves, but they can be easily cluttered. Choose only a few neutral items to arrange in clusters of three. Each item in the cluster should be different in height. Using neutral items will prevent one single item standing out and detracting from your beautiful bookshelves.

  1. Increase your selling price out back

Decks increase your selling price when they’re in good shape. Get your deck in good shape. Sand the wood and cover it with a light-colored stain. The stain will give it a rustic, grainy look. Furnish it with a picnic table or a couple of lawn chairs and make the backyard appealing.

What kind of shape is your patio in? Does the surface need updating? Give your red-brick patio new life. Roll a light coat of paint onto the bricks. Then, lightly spray them with water before they dry. Now, before the water dries, dab them with a cloth. Your patio will look fresh and appealing, too.

  1. Cover up wood paneling

Wood paneling dates your house, but you don’t need to rip out. Just cover it up! Use wood filler to fill in the grooves and cracks between the panels. Sponge away excess filler, and let it dry. Once the filler is dry, paint the paneling.

All of the above are a part of the staging process which will increase your selling price. Home staging has proved time and again to be one of the best ways to sell a home quickly and for more money.

And you can certainly do it yourself. But, if you don’t want to spend the time it will to learn how to stage your home properly to increase your selling price or know you’ll never be great at staging, just hire a professional.

Are you ready to list your home this spring? Call Charles D’Alessandro at (718) 253-9600 ext. 206 or email [email protected] today. He will walk through your home and let you know what you should do to increase the selling price of your home or give you the name and number of a home stager who can help.


Charles D’Alessandro

Your Brooklyn Real Estate Agent with Fillmore Real Estate

718-253-9600 ext. 206

[email protected]


Is Your Home Truly Ready to be Listed for Sale?

February 15th, 2018
Ready to be listed

Is your home truly ready to be listed for sale? Home safety checks are important to you as the seller to avoid possible negligent lawsuits.

Think your home is ready to be listed for sale? You may be tempted to list your home before it’s truly ready, for what you think are valid reasons. But don’t fall prey to that temptation. Because of the Breach of Duty regulations, you could be at risk of a lawsuit, if your home is listed before it is truly ready. If there are problems with your house, disclose them during negotiations.

What’s Most Important to Check to Make Sure Your Home is Truly Ready to be Listed for Sale?

Home safety includes everything from in-home to out-of-home safety. Visit ConsumerSafety.org for a thorough Home Safety Guide. Here are three home safety checks that are high on the list.

Important Safety Features in the Kitchen

The kitchen is one of the most hazardous areas in your home because of the high possibility of grease or electrical fires. Is there a working fire extinguisher in your kitchen? What is the expiration date listed on it?  If you don’t have one, purchase a fire extinguisher before you list your home and leave it in the kitchen. This will help you avoid a possible negligent lawsuit if an electrical or grease fire were to happen in that kitchen.

And if you rent out all or part of your home, make sure your kitchen is childproofed. Sharp utensils and harmful chemicals can be found in the kitchen and should be kept out of reach of children or secured with childproof locks.

Fire Safety

According to data collected by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), an average of $16,610 was the average monetary value of property damage caused by fire. And if you are accused of negligence, you will be required to pay for all damages. Take care to properly remove fire hazards in your home to make sure your home is truly ready to be listed for sale.

Damaged plugs and appliances, overloaded outlets, and multiple extension cords are home fire risks. Make sure outdoor grills and other outdoor cooking appliances are a safe distance from your house.

Home Safety Regarding Your Pool, Lawn, and Landscaping, too

Most Brooklyn homes do not have pools, but they are the most dangerous part of any residential home. One child under 14 drowns each day on average. If you happen to own a pool,

  • Install drain covers that are VGB-compliant
  • Store hazardous pool chemicals properly away from the pool, preferably in a locked shed
  • Cover your pool with an adequate safety cover

But what nearly every Brooklyn home does have is a lawn, even if it may be small at best. Potential safety hazards in a lawn, Charles, really? Yes! Make sure your home is truly ready to list by:

  • Removing pet feces and sharp items (rocks, glass, nails) from the yard
  • Check for and remove poisonous or harmful plants like poison ivy for example
  • Again, hazardous chemicals (weed killer and other hazardous lawn chemicals) should be stored properly away from the lawn, preferably under lock and key.

Make sure your home is truly ready to be listed for sale. Avoid a negligent lawsuit and keep the future homeowners of your house safe. Follow these and other guidelines listed in the Home Safety Guide offered at ConsumerSafety.org.


Charles D’Alessandro

Your Brooklyn Real Estate Agent with Fillmore Real Estate

718-253-9600 ext. 206

[email protected]


How Will the New Tax Law Affect You?

January 30th, 2018
New tax law

The new tax law: the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. How will it affect you as a Brooklyn homeowner?

A New Year brings with it new possibilities and changes, even in the world of real estate. Have you heard about the new tax law: the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act? Whether or not you have, you most likely won’t notice the changes that will affect you until you file your taxes in 2019. You may see changes made to next month’s paycheck because of this new tax law and its new tax rate deductions, however.

New Tax Law: How Its Policies Could Affect You as a Homeowner

  1. Capping Mortgage Interest Deduction

On December 15, 2017, the new tax law, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, reduced the amount of mortgage interest rate deduction for new loans from $1,000,000 to $750,000. If you took out a loan before December 15, 2017, you are grandfathered into the previous tax policy.

If you want to refinance your existing mortgage balance and still deduct the interest, you can do so up to $1,000,000, but your new loan cannot exceed the amount of your existing mortgage balance being refinanced.

The capping of the mortgage interest deduction poses a risk to large urban areas with high-priced homes such as those here in New York as well as in Washington, D.C., California, Hawaii, and Massachusetts.

The effect of these changes will not be noticed until you sell your home. But the newly purchased property would then come under the new regulations of the new tax law policies.

By limiting your buyer’s purchasing power and capping mortgage interest rate deduction, the growth of your home’s value could be slowed. This could then affect the profits you as a longtime homeowner would hope to gain when trying to sell.

  1. Introducing the New SALT Deduction Limit

Whether filing as an individual or married couple, taxpayers can itemize deductions up to $10,000 for their total state and local property taxes and income or sales taxes in the final bill. The cap is the same for both.

The new SALT limits will impact households that pay more than $10,000 in combined state and local taxes each year. Alexander Casey, Zillow Group Policy Advisor, says, “On one hand, taxpayers who still itemize deductions and whose total state and local tax liability exceeds $10,000 will get a smaller tax break; however, for other households, the continued availability of those deductions, even if they are capped, may be the deciding factor between whether or not they itemize deductions. This matters a lot in areas where SALT deductions were a relatively more significant reason for itemizing – areas with lower home prices, but higher taxes (e.g., upstate New York, Southern New Jersey, Inland California).”

In the law preceding this new tax law, the SALT deduction was unlimited.

Realtor.com® Senior Economist Joseph Kirchner, Ph.D. says, “The new SALT limit will have the greatest impact on states that provide a large number of services to their citizens by, first, reducing the benefit of tax cuts by disallowing the full value of this deduction, and, second, compounding the issue of the standard deduction vs. the mortgage interest rate deduction.”

  1. Preserving the Exclusion of Capital Gains

The previous law stated that homeowners must live in their home for two out of the past five years in order to qualify for the capital gains exclusion. This tax policy hasn’t changed.

Casey also says, “About 10 percent of home sellers last year sold their home after living in it between two and five years. Keeping the status quo means these sellers no longer need to make that difficult choice, and can instead feel more free to list their home on a more flexible schedule without fear of a potentially hefty tax hit.”

An increase to the residency requirement to five of the past eight years was proposed in the Senate bill, but it did not pass to the final version.

Kirchner stated, “Today, homeownership is imperative for middle-class wealth-building and financial stability. It allows people to invest in a long-term asset that pads their retirement savings, provides a safety net for unforeseen circumstances, and equity to back investment in education or small business. The survival of the capital gains exclusion means that the advantages of this type of investment will remain (except, of course, with regard to impact of changes to deductions).”

  1. Deducting on Home Equity Loans

According to the new law, taxpayers will no longer be able to deduct the interest paid on their home equity loans beginning in 2018, unless the funds are being used to improve their residence significantly. This provision expires in 2026 when it reverts back to the previous cap of $100,000 of home equity debt.

“Deductible interest on home equity loans used to provide homeowners another layer of financial security by giving them the ability to obtain low-cost financing,” Kirchner says. “Now, without the ability to deduct interest, owners effectively will have to pay more for their loans, which could put downward pressure on the homeownership rate.”

Casey believes removing this homeownership incentive will not dramatically impact the homeownership rate. But it will affect home renovations instead. About this, he says, “A lot of personal and economic factors matter more. This deduction is more important for financing major home renovations, so eliminating this deduction could contribute to underinvestment in the housing stock, making it more difficult for struggling communities to reinvent themselves.”

  1. Doubling of the Standard Deduction

Also in the previous law, $6,350 was the standard deduction for single taxpayers and married couples filing jointly. In the new law, this amount is nearly doubled to $12,000. The previous standard deduction for married couples filing jointly was $12,700. This has been increased to $24,000.

“A doubled standard deduction will have a big impact on how many homeowners ultimately decide to take advantage of the mortgage interest deduction,” says Casey. “When you combine a much larger standard deduction, with the fact that some itemized deductions have been capped or pared back, many filers may no longer find it financially advantageous to itemize deductions.”

According to Zillow’s calculations, Casey says that under the current tax code, itemizing and claiming the mortgage interest deduction is financially worthwhile on an estimated 44 percent of all U.S. homes. In addition, under the new law, itemizing and claiming the MID is worthwhile on only 14.4 percent of homes nationwide.

“The doubling of the standard deduction changes the equation for homeownership incentives and essentially renders the mortgage interest rate deduction ineffective for the majority of owners,” says Kirchner. “Until now, most households did not itemize their deductions until they bought a home, which added significant tax benefits to ownership. Based on the changes to the standard deduction, this benefit will disappear for all but those homeowners who have mortgages in excess of $550,000, depending on what other deductions they have.”

Location and Timing and the New Tax Law

How much you are impacted by the new tax law will be based largely on where you are located. If you are located in a high-cost state, you may see the biggest changes in how you file, especially with the new $10,000 SALT limit. According to Zillow Research, 51 percent of Americans surveyed last year said they agree with the statement that “the property tax rate in my community is unfair to me.” These sentiments may rise in response to residents of high-tax burdened markets receiving a higher tax bill because of the new limit.

For example, Zillow analysis conducted for the Wall Street Journal states that a top income earner in New York, who owns in the top-third price range of the metro, pays an estimated $23,000 in property and state income tax every year, which is double the amount now allowed for deductions. The analysis also reported $10,000 in similar circumstances for Raleigh, N.C., and $12,000 for a Chicagoan. These are just a few areas where high-earning taxpayers would be adversely impacted by the new SALT deduction cap. According to a Wall Street Journal article, Moody’s Analytics estimates that 80 percent of counties across the country will see a negative impact on home prices in the summer of 2019.

Low-tax states, however, may benefit from the new tax code. According to the WSJ, parts of North Carolina, Alabama, Nebraska, Indiana, and Tennessee may see boosts in their home prices and local economies. And the same Zillow analysis that surveyed high property and income taxes in other states says an individual in a similar financial situation would pay one-quarter of the amount in Nashville, Tennessee. For those that have been on the fence about moving, the tax overhaul may be their deciding factor. But those who live in high-tax states may not see the negative impact from taxes as reason enough to leave their homes.

According to NAR research, here are the five metro areas that will be most affected by the new tax law (based on homes with mortgages valued over $750,000):

  1. San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, Calif.
  2. San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, Calif.
  3. Santa Cruz-Watsonville, Calif.
  4. Santa Maria-Santa Barbara, Calif.
  5. Urban Honolulu, Hawaii

The top five metros based on share of owners that pay over $10,000 in real estate taxes:

  1. New York-Newark-Jersey City, N.Y., N.J., Pa.
  2. Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk, Conn.
  3. Trenton, N.J. Metro Area
  4. San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, Calif.
  5. San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, Calif.

In response to the bill’s passing, NAR President Elizabeth Mendenhall said, “Only 6 percent of homeowners have mortgages exceeding $750,000, and only 5 percent pay more than $10,000 in property taxes, but most homeowners won’t itemize under the new regime. While we’re pleased that important homeownership incentives such as the capital gains exclusion survived in conference, additional changes are required to truly incentivize homeownership in the tax code.”

But timing also plays a role. Many of the provisions in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, including individual tax cuts, expire in 2025 and therefore, may lead to tax hikes in the future, according to the Distributional Analysis of the Conference Agreement for the TCJA by the Tax Policy Center. The report states that taxes would be reduced by $1,600 on average in 2018, increasing after-tax incomes by 2.2 percent; however, in 2025, the average tax cut as a share of after-tax income would decrease by 1.7 percent for most income groups.

“The tax bill decreases homeownership incentives, but these benefits are not the only factors in the homeownership decision,” Kirchner says. “In the short run, homebuyers can look forward to more money in their pocket that can be used for a down payment or larger home.”

He adds that cuts in government services and economic development programs, along with the rescinding of tax cuts for individuals in a few years and the impact of tax reform-induced deficit on inflation, will weaken the impact of the after-tax income boost on homeownership.

“The change definitely removes some of the federal government’s preferential treatment towards homeownership,” Casey says. “Ultimately, with these new reforms, households will be more likely to maximize their tax breaks with a standard deduction. And when someone uses the standard deduction, it doesn’t matter if they spent an extra $5,000 on a house, a boat or a vacation—the spending is treated the same when tax season comes.

“It will be interesting to see how the temporary nature of some of these tax cuts shake out,” says Casey. “Will those households on the edge of homeownership make decisions based on what their new take-home income is in February, or will there be some apprehension if they think their taxes will rise down the road?”

According to an NAR statement, “As a result of the changes made throughout the legislative process, NAR is now projecting slower growth in home prices of 1-3 percent in 2018 as low inventories continue to spur price gains; however, some local markets, particularly in high-cost, higher-tax areas, will likely see price declines as a result of the legislation’s new restrictions on mortgage interest and state and local taxes.”

If you have any questions about how the new tax law will affect you, call Charles D’Alessandro at (718) 253-9600 ext. 206 today.

This article was largely taken from RISmedia.com’s article “Tax Reform: Here’s What Could Impact Homeowners Most.”

Charles D’Alessandro

Your Brooklyn Real Estate Agent with Fillmore Real Estate

718-253-9600 ext. 206

[email protected]


How to Get Organized for a Stress-Free Life Right Now

January 15th, 2018
Get organized

There’s no time like the present to get organized and begin living a stress-free life! Plus, you’ll be very prepared for a move if and when you need to. Organization is a win-win!

The year 2017 is history, and the New Year is well underway. (Time stops for no man, right?) But towards the end of the year, during the holidays, in particular, were you hiding stuff in closets or in the garage to keep guests from viewing your clutter? If you were, and you’re one who does New Year’s resolutions, getting organized may be on your list of goals to accomplish in 2018. A there’s no better time than right now to resolve to get organized! But it takes action to actually make a goal happen.

Why You Should Get Organized Now

Disorganization and being surrounded by clutter causes stress. Organization instills a sense of calm. It makes your life easier and more efficient. Think about how stressed you get when you can’t find something you need when you need it. Do you remember the time you couldn’t find your keys when it was time to leave to be on time for an appointment? What about the time when you couldn’t find that report you wrote for school which was due that day? Do you remember how it made you feel? During these times of panic, you produce stress hormones which escalate the situation causing inflammation, more stress, and memory loss.

As you work to get organized, don’t be too hard on yourself. Organization takes work, and it takes time, but a stress-free life is a great reward for your efforts. Instead of wasting time and energy looking for things, you’ll be relaxing or being more productive.

How to Get Organized Now

Not everyone has the same amount or kinds of space to work with. And everyone has different ideas about what organization looks like or means to them. But there are basically five steps to take when you want to get organized.

Before you take the first step, zero in on one small area of one room: a counter, a shelf, a drawer, a closet … you get the idea. Start small. Bring complete order to that one small area before you move on to another.

  1. Purge

Begin to get organized with a good purge. Start off easy. Throw away worn or broken items. Then grab three boxes or make three piles: keep, toss, donate. Keep only what you need, use, and love. If you don’t need it, use it, or love it, why keep it? By the way, keeping something you don’t need, use, and love because it was a gift is not a valid reason to hang on to it.

  1. Sort

Divide like things with like things in the small area you want to get organized. Put items together based on what they are and/or what they are used for. For example, a hammer, screwdriver, nails, and painting tape would all be grouped together, because they are all tools or hardware.

  1. Make a Place

“A place for everything, and everything in its place.” Now that you’ve organized your stuff into categories and thrown away all of the unnecessary stuff, make a place for everything. Knowing how you want to use an area will help you make places for items that belong there and remove items that don’t.

  1. Organize

Most people seem to love this step! Now that you’ve purged, sorted, and made a place for everything, it’s time to purchase containers (baskets, bins, boxes). It’s easier to determine the size and style of your containers now that you can see which items should be stored together.

For kids’ art projects, memorabilia, receipts, tax papers, and warranty information purchase accordion folders, photo boxes, or magazine organizers. When memento boxes become too full, it’s time to purge them.

  1. Label

With everything in its place, you should begin labeling your containers. This step helps you and your family to know how to get organized and stay organized.

Enjoy Less Stress!

“Ahhhh! Now, this is home!” How much easier will it be to care for home and enjoy life once you get organized? Our nervous systems respond negatively to stressful circumstances caused by clutter and disorganization. So say goodbye to stuff that is taking up precious space in your home and say hello to stress-free living.

Getting organized can be an overwhelming task, and life happens. But when you’re organized, the unpredictables life throws at us will be easier to deal with.


Charles D’Alessandro

Your Brooklyn Real Estate Agent with Fillmore Real Estate

718-253-9600 ext. 206

[email protected]


Is the Electrical Wiring in Your Home Up to Code?

December 30th, 2017
Electrical wiring

Maintain the safety of your Brooklyn home and family. Bring the electrical wiring in your house up to code, and start today. It’s that important!

If your Brooklyn home was built more than 35 years ago, as most were, bringing your electrical wiring up to code is worth serious consideration. Not only will you maintain the safety of your home and family, your house will meet updated building codes and national requirements for residential homes. Today’s households utilize more gadgets, devices, and appliances than ever before. And that means easily overloaded electrical systems and possible danger to families living in older homes with outdated and insufficient electrical wiring.

Indications Your Electrical Wiring is Not Up to Code

How do you as a homeowner know whether or not the electrical wiring in your home needs updating? Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do the lights in your home flicker?
  • Are breakers constantly tripping or fuses frequently blowing?
  • In order to use one appliance, do you need to another appliance off?
  • Have you discovered melted electrical wiring?
  • Do you have faulty circuit breakers that don’t trip causing shocks, overheating and fire?

The issues caused by outdated electrical wiring are easily resolved with the installation of a new electrical panel.

Tell-Tale Signs Your Home is in Need of a New Electrical Panel

Just as old electrical wiring needs to be brought up to code, your electrical panel needs to be updated or replaced. Look at and listen to your panel box.

  • Do you hear crackling sounds from your panel box?
  • Is there corrosion or rust on the breakers or panel?
  • Are any of the electrical service conductors overheating?

More Signs Your Electrical Panel Needs to be Replaced

Now take a walk through your house to look for and consider the following:

  • Do any appliances run at less than full power?
  • See any two-pronged outlets? Two-pronged outlets are non-grounded.
  • Are your kitchen and bathrooms equipped with GFCIs (ground fault circuit interrupters)?
  • How many extension cords do you own and how often must you use them?
  • Do you need surge protectors to protect the appliances in your home?
  • Was your home built with a 60-amp electrical service? Does it still run on that 60-amp electrical service?
  • Is your electrical panel a fuse block panel or split-buss panel? A split-buss panel is an electrical panel with no main breaker.
  • If your home has a 100-amp electrical service, is it sufficient to run necessary appliances?

Other Reasons You Need a New Electrical Panel

  • Kitchen renovation
  • Home addition
  • Installation of a major appliance: HVAC system, stoves, spas, power equipment, etc
  • More outlets are needed
  • Homeowners insurance requirements have to be met
  • A 240-volt circuit is needed
  • A sub-panel needs to be added

What is an Electrical Panel?

Your electrical panel is a painted or gray metal box mounted on a wall inside your home. It is easily accessible and usually located in a utility room, laundry room, garage, basement, or closet. In rare instances, an electrical panel may be located outside the home.

Your utility company provides power to your home via your electrical panel. Power is systematically distributed throughout your home through major and minor electrical wiring which branch out from your electrical panel. Thus a properly functioning electrical panel is essential for home safety and the use of your gadgets, devices, and appliances.

Just Because You’re Living in a Newer Home Doesn’t Mean Your Electrical Panel is Safe

Fuse boxes were designed before the 1950’s. And they were built to handle only 30-60 amps of power. Our appliances today require 100-200 amps or more. This is why fuse boxes pose huge fire and electrocution safety risks. If your home uses a fuse box or any of the following electrical panels, have a new electrical panel installed immediately:

  • Federal Pacific Electric Electrical Panel
  • Zinsco Electrical Panel
  • Pushmatic Electrical Panel

Is your electrical wiring in dire need of an update? Does your Brooklyn home need a new electrical panel? Schedule an electrical inspection of your older home. Update your electrical wiring in steps, if necessary, but start today. Prevent electrical emergencies, and protect your home and family.


Charles D’Alessandro

Your Brooklyn Real Estate Agent with Fillmore Real Estate

718-253-9600 ext. 206

[email protected]