How to Work Together as a Team and Get Through a Crisis

March 30th, 2020
Now’s the time to work together as a team and get through our current situation. Be kind. Stay home. And call your friends, family members, and neighbors.

When a crisis strikes, working quickly to get ahead of it is key. And working together as a team is the quickest way to work through any crisis because together we’re stronger. Everyone responds differently to a crisis. But we all have different and unique abilities. That’s why we need to work together! Together we complement each other’s strengths to manage and get through tough times. But how exactly, do we work together in crises?

What It Takes to Work Together as a Team in Crisis

Crises never show up at opportune times. And that’s why they’re stressful to go through. But when we prepare for a crisis before it hits, we can diminish a lot of that stress.

The first and best piece of advice offered is to anticipate a crisis. No one is immune to or exempt from major or minor crises. Simply, because you are alive, crises will happen.

3 Steps to Take to Emerge Out of a Crisis Situation Confidently

Getting your family, business, or community through a serious situation is emotionally challenging. Here are three steps you can take to help you out of troublesome times.

Step 1: Prepare in Advance 

Crisis plans make a difference when it matters most. So have an actionable plan ready to put into place before a crisis arises.

When we don’t prepare for a crisis situation ahead of time, we open ourselves up to panic and insecurity. It is stressful. Some of us go into denial. Others assume dealing with this crisis is someone else’s job. And many begin blaming or attacking someone in leadership. We react instead of enacting a well-planned strategy prepared ahead of time.

So avoid a lot of stress before disaster strikes. Prepare for life’s inevitable surprises in advance.

Step 2: Find the Facts

Empower your family, business, or community with the facts. When we know what we’re up against, what we’re dealing with, we can handle a tough situation with a lot more confidence.

Step 3: Reconnect and Maintain Social Connection

During a crisis, uncertainty and confusion abound. When a crisis hits, we want our basic needs met – security, warmth, food, and the absence of pain. If our basic needs are not met, we can cease to function.

Today, our livelihood has been threatened by COVID-19. Businesses are shutting down to help stop the spread of this virus creating financial hardship for many.

With so much uncertainty and confusion, it’s important to reconnect and maintain a social connection.

Most people really appreciate staying in touch during hard times. Contact your neighbors, friends, family, and business clients and colleagues by phone, text, or email. Make sure they are okay. Offer to help them in whatever way you can.

Creatively and safely socializing.

Implement creative ways to socialize without inviting others into your home or vice versa. Just today, I saw three moms park their vehicles in a large parking lot, open the rear doors of their vans, and visit with each other from a distance.

Work Together as a Team Through Loss

This time of crisis for us brings loss as well as gain – the loss of loved ones, the loss of a way of life as we knew it. And with all loss comes grief, pain, and suffering. It’s important that we allow help people grieve because we cannot move on until we grieve for that which is gone.

I challenge you to rise to the occasion during our present crisis through:

  • Creativity
  • Ingenuity
  • Optimism
  • A willingness to work hard
  • The ability to make difficult choices
  • Accepting sacrifices
  • Setting personal interests aside in favor of the interests of others

People are finding the stress and uncertainty of our present situation debilitating.

But troublesome times show us what we’re truly made of. They allow us to find out what really matters and who really cares. We discover what is important and what isn’t.

3 Assets to Anchor Us in Uncertain Times

When we feel fearful and anxious, it’s hard to manage our own thoughts and be mindful of others at the same time. But as challenging as it is, we must if we’re going to come through this crisis better than we were.

There are three key assets that anchor us in uncertain times:

  1. Hope
  2. Confidence
  3. Reasonable optimism

They help us to be more resilient and more creative, a better version of ourselves. We see our key values confirmed and our community working hard to preserve what we’ve always cared about.

With responsibility, mindfulness, kindness, compassion, and consideration, we can and will get through this crisis.

We will get through this. But it has to be together.

In what ways are you working together as a team to get through our present crisis? Are you working from home? How are you dealing with all the new challenges our new normal brings?

Charles D’Alessandroyour Brooklyn Real Estate Agent with Fillmore Real Estate 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. If you have any questions or need anything from me, reach out at (718) 253-9600 ext. 206 or email [email protected]. I’d love to help you find the perfect place to call home. Be kind. Stay home. And take care!


Charles D'Alessandro

Charles D’Alessandro
Your Brooklyn Real Estate Agent
718-253-9600 ext. 206


What You Need to Know About Reverse Mortgages

March 15th, 2020
About reverse mortgages
Before you sign any papers, it’s very important that you understand everything you need to know about Reverse Mortgages.

Seniors, are you having trouble getting through retirement? Have you’ve heard about Reverse Mortgages and how other seniors have pulled the equity out of their homes to help them get through retirement? Does all this Reverse Mortgage information confuse you?

It’s important to understand what a Reverse Mortgage is as well as the benefits and risks of this type of loan before you sign any papers. Banks offer information on these types of loans, but you may find attending a workshop to be more helpful.

What Is It?

Investopedia.com defines a reverse mortgage as “a loan. A homeowner who is 62 or older and has considerable home equity can borrow against the value of their home and receive funds as a lump sum, fixed monthly payment or line of credit. Unlike a forward mortgage – the type used to buy a home – a reverse mortgage doesn’t require the homeowner to make any loan payments.

”Instead, the entire loan balance becomes due and payable when the borrower dies, moves away permanently or sells the home. Federal regulations require lenders to structure the transaction so the loan amount doesn’t exceed the home’s value and the borrower or borrower’s estate won’t be held responsible for paying the difference if the loan balance does become larger than the home’s value. One way this could happen is through a drop in the home’s market value; another is if the borrower lives a long time.”

How Do Reverse Mortgages Work?

When you take out a reverse mortgage loan, you basically pull out the equity you have in your home to help you through retirement. You can choose to take out that equity in one of two ways:

  • One lump sum
  • Monthly payments

The loan does not need to be paid back until you either sell your home or stop living in it.

Your homeowner’s insurance needs to be maintained and the taxes on your home paid.

If you choose to, you can make payments on your reverse mortgage. But these payments are not required.

What Benefits Does a Reverse Mortgage Offer Seniors?

Most people who are over the age of 62 have half of their net worth tied up in their homes. A Reverse Mortgage allows you to cash out your equity when you need it while still living in your home. This is the most appealing feature of this type of loan. With a Reverse Mortgage, it’s quite possible to live comfortably in retirement.

Are There Risks Involved?

This all sounds great, but are there risks involved? Yes. A Reverse Mortgage puts your home at risk because it limits the amount of money you can pass on to your children when you die. How?

  1. When you die and your children inherit your home, they must either pay off the mortgage themselves or sell the property to pay off the loan.
  2. If you can no longer live independently in your home and must move into a nursing home, the reverse mortgage must be paid off. This usually means you must sell your home.
  3. The interest rates on a Reverse Mortgage loan may be high depending on your credit.
  4. If you put your home up as collateral and then borrow money against your home, you risk losing it.

Also, be aware of other possibly risky scenarios. For example, if you sign the reverse mortgage and go into a nursing home while your spouse lives in the home, the terms state the loan must be paid back. This means your spouse may no longer have a home to live in.

Risks can be reduced by limiting the amount you borrow on the loan. If the loan is smaller than the total equity, you can sell the home and still have enough to buy a smaller place live.

And since the risks could involve and affect your children greatly, talk with them when you take out a reverse mortgage.

Knowing About Reverse Mortgages

Maintaining your independence and solving a cash flow problem if your retirement benefits don’t cover your expenses is ideal. So carefully review all available information as well as the terms on a Reverse Mortgage. And once you understand the benefits as well as the risks of Reverse Mortgages, you can decide whether or not it’s good for you.

Many government agencies caution seniors to review the terms and consider all their options before taking out a Reverse Mortgage.

Are you confused about Reverse Mortgages? Contact me, Charles D’Alessandroyour Brooklyn Real Estate Agent with Fillmore Real Estate with your questions. I can help. Call (718) 253-9600 ext. 206 or email [email protected] today.


Charles D'Alessandro

Charles D’Alessandro
Your Brooklyn Real Estate Agent
718-253-9600 ext. 206


How to Find the Best Mortgage Lender with Confidence

February 29th, 2020
Best mortgage lender
Dreaming of buying your first home? Find the best mortgage lender with confidence! Here’s how.

Finding the best mortgage lender on your journey to homeownership is important. But it can be challenging, especially if you are a first-time homebuyer. It’s a big deal because picking a lender is an important part of the home buying process. And finding the best the right mortgage is crucial. Here’s some excellent information from NerdWallet to help you navigate this part of buying a home with confidence.

5 Things You Need to Know to Help You Find the Best Mortgage Lender

NerdWallet says, “The best mortgage lenders for first-time homebuyers embrace government loans, offer low down payment options, charge reasonable fees, and help you find financial assistance programs.”

1. Know Your Credit Score and Financial History

Lenders judge you on your credit score and financial history to determine your ability to get a mortgage and the interest rate you’ll pay. So you need to know it. Knowing your credit score allows you to determine your loan options.

Credit scores of 620 are good, and the higher, the better. Scores of 740 or more will help you get the lowest interest rates. But it’s not impossible to get a mortgage with a credit score that’s in the 500s.

Find out the credit score you need to buy a house here. But keep in mind, you may be able to borrow more than what you can actually afford to pay each month. So don’t overextend yourself from the get-go!

2. Inquire About First-Time Homebuyer Programs in New York

Some lenders and state housing finance agencies partner up in order to help first-time homebuyers. Then they can help you with rate discounts, a down payment, and closing costs, or educational resources to help you get into a home. Isn’t that nice to know? So do your research on assistance first-time homebuyer programs here in New York.

Take note: Not all lenders participate. So be sure to ask.

3. Look for Lenders Who Offer Government-Backed Home Loans

Why? Because most of the time, FHA, VA, and USDA loans offer relaxed income, credit, and down payment requirements. And this allows for easier qualification. But check out this list of homebuyer loans and programs! You could rack up some big savings if you don’t rush through this process.

  • FHA loan
  • VA loan
  • USDA loan
  • Fannie and Freddie
  • State first-time homebuyer program
  • Home renovation loan
  • Good Neighbor Next Door
  • Dollar Homes

And on another note, not all lenders offer FHA, VA and USDA home loans. Their options may be limited. So, when you do your comparison shopping, always ask about availability.

4. Ask for Quotes to Compare Interest Rates

Ask several lenders for quotes (at least three), and let them compete with each other for your business. One of them will rise to the top of your list with a lower rate and lower fees. You’re looking for APRs (annual percentage rates) to get a better picture of what you’ll end up paying over the life of the loan.

You’re also looking for fees when making lender comparisons. Application, appraisal, title, and loan origination fees affect closing costs. And they vary widely depending on the lender.

Again, don’t rush through this process either. Mortgages have pages and pages of details that loan officers know how to get through quickly. Ask for clarification as needed through every step and make sure you have all the facts. Choosing a loan that matches your needs and your budget with confidence isn’t something you should feel rushed through.

5. Get Preapproved

Getting preapproved before you begin house hunting helps you in three ways:

  • Proves a lender is willing to loan you a certain amount of money
  • Signals to the seller that you are a serious buyer who they can rely on
  • Helps you look for homes within your budget

Compare preapproval options, too. Some lenders provide approval online in minutes. Others require a phone call or that you visit a local branch office to pick up your documents in person.

Be prepared. You may run into preapproval barriers. If you have a low credit score or inconsistent income, ask lenders before you apply if they’re willing to work with you on this. Some lenders will gladly help you find errors and discrepancies on your application which could get you preapproved.

Lacking Confidence in Your Search for the Best Mortgage Lender?

Are you stumped trying to find the best mortgage lender? When you’re a first-time homebuyer, shopping for a mortgage lender can get overwhelming. Just take time to compare all your options, no rushing through the process. You’ll buy a home with confidence and save money, too.

Contact me, Charles D’Alessandroyour Brooklyn Real Estate Agent with Fillmore Real Estate with questions you have about finding the best mortgage lender. I can help. Call (718) 253-9600 ext. 206 or email [email protected] today.


Charles D'Alessandro

Charles D’Alessandro
Your Brooklyn Real Estate Agent
718-253-9600 ext. 206


What I Really Love About Brooklyn, New York

February 15th, 2020
Brooklyn, New York
I love my home in Brooklyn, New York!

Since February is all about love, let’s talk about it. Our love for the place we call home, that is. I am a Brooklyn native, a Brooklynite who speaks Brooklynese. This iconic NYC borough has been home to me for 62 years. And here’s what I really love about Brooklyn, New York, my home.

About Brooklyn, New York

There are many reasons to love Brooklyn, New York: colorful assortment of people, culture, food, activities to enjoy!

Size

Of the five boroughs of New York City – The Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens, and Staten Island, Brooklyn is the most populous. Also known as Kings County, it is the largest (69.5 square miles). In fact, if Brooklyn were its own city, it would be the third-largest city in the United States with over 2.5 million residents, second to Los Angeles and Chicago.

Cuisine

Brooklyn, New York
The famous Grimaldi’s

I love the food! Brooklyn is particularly well-known for its Italian food – especially its pizza. Anything you have a craving for can be found in Brooklyn! Our borough offers countless ethnic cuisines. And if you can’t quite find what it is you’re looking for, wait until next weekend or next month. New restaurants are constantly opening up for you to try with your date, family, or friends.

Crown Heights serves Jamaican jerk chicken and roti. You’ll find dim sum at Little Fuzhou in Sunset Park. Craving something sticky-sweet? Try the baklava in Sheepshead Bay.

Character

We are a melting pot, a miniature Manhattan, full of rich history everywhere you look. Even our most popular neighborhoods are famous!

Our borough is not the hustle and bustle you might think of when New York City comes to mind. We are a people defined by incredible diversity, creativity, community, and culture, and we’re proud of it. And unlike many neighborhoods in the Big Apple, we’ve maintained that diversity, that personality unique to each area of Brooklyn.

In the Past

We were once our own city until the late 1800s. And we used to be known as one of the more dangerous boroughs of New York.

Today

Brooklyn is a vibrant and peaceful place. It’s also exciting and family-friendly. And this makes many of our neighborhoods ideal for both families and young professionals.

Brooklyn, New York

The Brooklyn borough doesn’t fit any particular stereotype. so it appeals to everyone. We’ve literally transformed into what some say is the hottest, trendiest spot in all of New York City.

I’ve seen a lot of changes over the years, but one thing stays true about Brooklyn, New York. You can go five blocks, and because of the vast diverseness of each of our communities, the vibe totally changes.

Attributes that Make Us a World-Class Destination

We’re proud of Brooklyn, New York! And for good reason. People come from all over for:

  • Lively music venues
  • Trendy boutiques
  • Iconic restaurants
  • Independent artisanal coffee bars
  • Pro sports
  • Immigrant history
  • Diversified culture
  • Family-friendly activities
  • And communities to call home

We offer a large number of amazing parks, walkable sidewalks, and tight-knit communities. And compared to Manhattan, even reasonable rents.

Our Parks

Park near Brooklyn Bridge

There are over 40 parks in Brooklyn. The top four being Prospect Park, Brooklyn Bridge Park, Fort Greene Park, and Owl’s Head Park.

Means of Transportation

Subway

Brooklyn is incredibly walkable, especially within the neighborhood you call your own. Brooklyn offers many beautiful and safe walking routes.

And here, walking beats owning a vehicle and paying to park on the street, hands down. In fact, according to Tri-State Transportation, more than half of us live in car-free households. Owning a car isn’t necessary when you live in Brooklyn, because you can get anywhere you need to go by subway.

There are other means of public transportation here in Brooklyn, but the subway is still the fastest and most reliable way to get around.

Tight-Knit Communities

Brooklyn has an undeniably strong sense of community. And it is this sense of community that makes our borough not only unique but also popular for families and young professionals.

Also, we Brooklynites tend to define ourselves based on which neighborhood we settle into. We are loyal patrons to the shops, cafes, restaurants, and bars that are local to us.

I remember, as kids, we played street games one block against another. And we built friendships that have lasted a lifetime.

Brooklyn Heights, New York
BROOKLYN HEIGHTS, NY: Classic late 19th Century brownstone homes with stoops and arched doorways on Joralemon Street

From Coney Island, Sheepshead Bay, Midwood, and Flatbush to Bedford- Stuyvesant, Sunset Park, Park Slope, Red Hook, and so many others, each of our neighborhoods has a distinct history and personality all their own.

Reasonable Rents and the Cost of Living

According to a Streeteasy report put out in October 2019, the average price for a house is around $700,000. And the average cost to rent a place is about $2,700 a month. So compared to other places in the United States, Brooklyn is one of the most expensive places to live. But food, rent, clothing, and a lot of other things are less expensive here than they are in Manhattan. And this makes Brooklyn ideal for you if you’re beginning a career.

Brooklyn, New York
Colorful residential and commercial real estate for rent in Brooklyn

With plenty of searching (and a little help from your friend, Charles D’Alessandro), you can find a great place that suits your personality, home life, interests, and your budget.

Brooklyn, New York – Something for Everybody

Brooklyn grows on. People come from all over to be part of it. And I’m proud to be part of that on a daily basis.

We continue to attract new-comers and families from all over with our excellent schools, booming job market, and that strong sense of community we like to own.

But more than anything, we are proud of and celebrate our diversity, our people. There really is something for everybody in Brooklyn, New York, even you!

Moving to Brooklyn

If you plan to move to Brooklyn, you need to experience the unique personalities, charm, amenities, sense of community, and price tags of each one to find “your” place. There’s one that’s just right for you, one that best suits your needs.

Working as a real estate professional for over 30 years, I have seen the transformation of my home. Like the Beatles sang in “In My Life,”

“There are places I’ll remember
All my life, though some have changed
Some forever, not for better
Some have gone, and some remain …”

Brooklyn has grown. Our borough has changed. Some changes have been for the better, others, not so much. But I love her, and I’m proud to share my home, Brooklyn, New York, with you!

Want to build a life you can love in Brooklyn, New York? Contact me, Charles D’Alessandroyour Brooklyn Real Estate Agent with Fillmore Real Estate at (718) 253-9600 ext. 206 or email [email protected]. I’d love to help you find the area that’s just right for you!


Charles D’Alessandro
Your Brooklyn Real Estate Agent
718-253-9600 ext. 206


How to Improve Your Life by Ridding Your Life of Stuff

January 30th, 2020
Improve your life
Get rid of unused items and improve your life.

What comes to mind when you read the title, “How to Improve Your Life by Ridding Your Life of Stuff”?

As one year comes to an end and a new one begins, most of us inevitably ponder the following:

  • Make resolutions
  • Set goals
  • Decide to live more simply and economically
  • Get rid of stuff and organize what’s left

Truth be told, none of the above is very sexy. But every December and January we are challenged with how to improve our lives in one way or another. Let’s focus on the last point: Get rid of stuff and organize what’s left.

Improve Your Life by Ridding Yourself of Stuff

How is your life improved by getting rid of stuff?

Clutter causes frustration. When you get rid of stuff, you get rid of the frustration that goes hand-in-hand with it. And you make way for living peacefully and efficiently.

Have you ever felt a wave of anxiety hit you at the thought of someone stopping by unexpectedly? Keep sinks, flat surfaces, and floors free of unnecessary stuff, and say goodbye to anxiety whenever the doorbell rings.

Rediscover useful stuff you need and throw out or donate the rest. Not only will you avoid spending money unnecessarily by buying duplicates or triplets, but you’ll also improve the lives of others who truly need the stuff you don’t use.

Are you building more shelves and buying more boxes to put stuff in? If so, clutter has taken over! Getting rid of stuff saves money on storage and frees up space to enjoy.

Clutter also creates an unsafe environment. Accidents are more likely to occur when piles of stuff are everywhere. Stuff crammed on the top shelf of a closet can fall and land on your head. Piles stacked on the floor can cause you to trip and fall. Reduce the clutter and create a safer place to live in.

Sell unwanted, valuable belongings you aren’t using and make some money to pay a bill or finance a home project.   

How to Rid Yourself of Stuff That’s Taking Over

1. Start small. It’s easy to get overwhelmed and stop before you even get started. But if you pick one closet or area, declutter it completely before moving on to another space, you’ll be enjoying a clutter-free environment before you know it.

2. Make decisions quickly. Don’t overthink what to “Keep,” “Throw Out,” or “Donate.” Here’s a rule of thumb to help you decide what to keep: keep only the items you have used in the last three months and items that are heirlooms or keepsakes. Throw out or donate the rest.

3. Ask questions. With each item, ask yourself these questions:

  • Do I still use this?
  • Is this an heirloom or a keepsake?
  • Is this in usable condition?
  • Would someone else use this item?

Improve Your Life and Keep It That Way

The average household is overrun with unused belongings and stuff. Getting rid of stuff to improve your life is a time-consuming and tedious process. But once you’re rid of everything that doesn’t serve you and you’ve organized what does, a stress-free home environment is easy to maintain.

Is it time to improve your life with a new home? When you’re decluttered and organized, moving is a piece of cake. And when the time comes to sell your home, call me, Charles D’Alessandroyour Brooklyn Real Estate Agent with Fillmore Real Estate at (718) 253-9600 ext. 206 or email [email protected]. I’d love to help you find the perfect place to call home.


Charles D’Alessandro
Your Brooklyn Real Estate Agent
718-253-9600 ext. 206


How Much Should You Offer for a Fixer-Upper?

January 15th, 2020
Fixer-upper
Don’t make an offer on a fixer-upper until you’ve counted the cost of the renovations it needs first!

Are you thinking about buying a fixer-upper?

Can you really afford to buy it and fix it up, too?

How much will fixing it up really cost you?

These are key questions that need to be answered. It’s extremely important that you assess the real cost before you buy it. For without that information, you won’t know how much to offer for a fixer-upper.

But don’t fret about it. These seven steps will help you figure that out.

Step 1 – Determine What You Can Honestly Do Without Help

We all do it. We watch our favorite TV shows and YouTube videos and think we can do it all. All those home improvement pros make every project look super easy to do. But in reality, it just ain’t so.

Take that “simple” plumbing project you tackled. Remember it? How many times did you have to run to the hardware store to purchase something else that you needed to complete the job?

No, moving a staircase or even bringing wiring up to code requires much more time or skill than most folks can tout. They’re not a fix-it job like that leaky little toilet valve was.

So, since every project always takes longer than you think it will be brutally honest with yourself. Are you really able to DIY that project? Do you even want to do it yourself? And are you willing to accept the less-than-professional results that you could end up with? Less-than-professional results won’t increase the value of the home you’re working on.

Be Wise – Leave It to a Professional

Some fixes need to be left to the professionals. Remodels or updates can be dangerous when you aren’t trained or certified to do them, like electrical work, for example.

And one more thing. Will you be stressed out while you live in a demolished house month after month? You’ll most likely have time to complete home projects on the weekends only.

Step 2 – Determine the Cost of All Renovations and Then Some

Here’s a great tip! Ask your contractor to do a walk-through in the house you want to purchase and fix up. Then he can give you a written estimate on the cost of all he needs to do to bring the home up to par.

If you decide you can do the work yourself, price all the supplies needed for every renovation and upgrade.

And, whether you hire a contractor or choose to do the work yourself, tack on an additional 10 to 20 percent to the cost total. This prepares you for the surprise costs that inevitably pop up when fixing up a house.

Step 3 – Factor in Time, Costs, and Aggravation for Getting Permits

It’s a fact. Doing a home renovation without a permit saves money. But when it comes to selling the home you renovate, you could be asking for trouble. Play it safe. Ask your local officials whether or not you need a permit for the work you’re going to do. Be sure you ask about the cost of the permit you need, too.

If you decide to go with a contractor, they can make arrangements for the permits you’ll need. But if you decide you want to get the permits yourself, know this: getting permits can be time-consuming and frustrating. How? Before home inspectors give you the necessary permit for a particular renovation, they can force you to do additional work or change the way you want to do a project. Yeah …

Step 4 – Budget for Structural Work on the Fixer-Upper

Does the fixer-upper you’re looking to buy need major structural work done to it? Do a double-check. If it does, you’ll need to hire a structural engineer.

They charge $100 to $236 per hour just to inspect the house. But before you put in an offer, you’ll be confident all structural problems have been uncovered and conservatively budgeted for to the fullest extent.

Before you commit to buying a home with structural problems, get written estimates for the repairs.

A home that needs major structural work should be offered with a steep discount. So don’t commit to the purchase of a fixer-upper with structural problems without these three things:

  • Knowledge of the full extent of the problem
  • The certainty that the problem can be fixed
  • A binding written estimate for the cost of the repairs

Step 5 – Make Sure You Have Enough Funds Available to Fix a Fixer-Upper

Before you make an offer, do this:

  • Make sure you have enough money for a downpayment, closing costs, and all necessary repairs
  • If you’re going to fund the renovations with a home equity or home improvement loan, get pre-approved for both loans. Then make sure the deal is contingent on getting both the home equity loan and the home improvement loan. This safeguards you from being forced to close the sale when you have no loan to fix the house.

Have You Looked into an FHA Section 203(k) Program?

You might want to take a look into the Federal Housing Administration’s Section 203(k) program. It’s designed to help homeowners who are purchasing or refinancing a home that needs rehabilitation.

The FHA Section 203(k) program bundles purchase/refinance and rehabilitation costs into one monthly mortgage payment. But in order to qualify for this type of loan, the total value of the property must fall within the FHA mortgage limit for your area.

A 203(k) program is streamlined and much simpler to obtain than a standard 203(k) is. And it provides an additional amount for rehabilitation, up to $35,000, on top of an existing mortgage. It’s worth looking into, for sure.

Step 6 – Determine a Fair Purchase Price to Offer

Market value

This step isn’t a hard one. Just take the fair market value of the property and subtract the upgrade and repair costs. The fair market value of the fixer-upper is what it would be worth if it were in good condition with up-to-date remodels.

Let’s say the fixer-upper you’re considering has outdated design features such as:

  • Dark wood paneling
  • Beige walls
  • Popcorn ceilings
  • Pastel fixtures
  • Laminate countertops
  • Shiny gold fittings
  • Avocado green appliances
  • Built-in media cabinets
  • Chintz wallpaper
  • Millennial pink everything
  • Tile counters
  • Linoleum floors
  • Wallpaper border

And it has high levels of radon in the basement.

How to Determine a Fair Market Price

A comparison house or “comp” in the same Brooklyn neighborhood, sold last month for $490,100. That house had an updated kitchen with new appliances, no wallpaper, was recently re-carpeted, and has a radon mitigation system in the basement.

The cost to remodel the kitchen, remove the wallpaper, carpet the house, and put in a radon mitigation system is $100,000. Your fair purchase price bid for the fixer-upper should be $390,100.

As your real estate agent, I will let you know if it’s a good idea to share your cost estimates with the sellers, to prove whether or not your offer is fair. Be sure to ask!

Step 7 – Hire Pro Inspectors to Properly Assess Your Fixer-Upper

Hire pros to inspect your fixer-upper. This is key in helping you properly assess the value of the house and the cost of its repairs.

Home inspectors look for and uncover hidden issues in need of replacement or repair. You want to replace those 1980s kitchen cabinets, but the home inspector detects the water leak behind them.

What they don’t do:

  • Lead-based paint inspection
  • Well and septic system inspection
  • Sewer issues
  • Pest or termite inspection
  • Chimney inspection
  • Asbestos testing
  • Mold inspection
  • Lot size survey
  • Radon testing

Include Inspection Contingencies

Most home inspection contingencies allow you to go back to the sellers to ask them to do the repairs or when you close on the house, give you cash to pay for the repairs.

If the inspection turns up something major you don’t want to deal with, you or the seller can simply back out of the deal. If you or the seller back out of the deal, it’s okay. It just means this fixer-upper isn’t the right house for you.

Contact Charles D’Alessandro for Help

If you’re determined to find a fixer-upper to fix up, but you aren’t sure if you’re ready to take one on, call me. I’m Charles D’Alessandroyour Brooklyn Real Estate Agent with Fillmore Real Estate. You can reach me at (718) 253-9600 ext. 206 or [email protected] today. I’d love to help you find the perfect house to make a home.


Charles D’Alessandro
Your Brooklyn Real Estate Agent
718-253-9600 ext. 206


What are the Best New Year’s Resolutions for Homeowners?

December 30th, 2019

New Year's resolutions

As a Brooklyn homeowner, make New Year’s resolutions that save you money this year.

The start of a new year is the most popular time to make New Year’s resolutions. Do you make them? And what do resolutions have to do with homeownership?

What are New Year’s Resolutions?

First, let’s understand what New Year’s resolutions are.

They’re promises you make to yourself to better yourself in the new year. And depending on the kind of promise you make to yourself, they are quite often broken within the first three months of the new year.

Back in 2012, Time.com listed the Top 10 Commonly Broken New Year’s Resolutions. But according to TheHealthy.com, resolutions made today are still very much the same as they were back then.

Homeowners, Add These to Your List

The resolutions listed above are great for everybody to resolve to do. But if you’re a homeowner, you should add the following to your list.

Why? Because these save homeowners money. And they make the selling or buying process easier when the time to do so comes.

  1. Shorten the term of your mortgage

Put extra money toward your mortgage every month. The more you pay in a shorter period of time, the less you pay in the long run.

For example, let’s say you have a $150,000 mortgage with a 30-year term at an interest rate of 5.5 percent. Your monthly mortgage payment (principal and interest) would be $852. Paying just an additional $71 each month would shorten that 30-year term by five years and one month. It would also cut the interest down by $30,789.

That’s amazing! Right?

  1. Pay off a second mortgage

Pay off a second mortgage. Freedom from debt and interest is one of the greatest resolutions to keep. It takes a lot of discipline, but this is a challenge well worth the effort.

Choose to put an extra $100, $200 or $400 toward your home equity loan every month versus spending it on something else. The more consistent and disciplined you are to pay off a second mortgage, the better off you are.

If your second loan has a variable rate, it’s quite possible you could get socked with a painful payment increase if interest rates rise. And what if you’re not in a position to refinance that debt when that happens? Uh-oh or ouch!

  1. Lock in a low, fixed rate

There are a couple of great reasons to refinance your home loan:

If the only thing you do in the new year is change a variable mortgage into a fixed mortgage, you’ve done yourself a huge favor financially. (Go back and read that last paragraph in resolution number 2). Even if you end up with a higher payment, a fixed rate will save you from an increase in your interest rate in the future.

Take a look at this scenario.

On a $200,000 mortgage with a 30-year term and a variable rate starting at 3.5 percent, your monthly principal and interest add up to $898. If you refinanced that loan with a fixed rate of 5 percent, your monthly principal and interest add up to $1,073, an additional $175 a month.

But what if the variable rate jumped way up to 7.5 percent? Your monthly principal and interest would now add up to $1,389 which is an additional $491 per month.

You can see the benefit of locking in the extra $175 in 2020, right?

It might be difficult, but paying an extra $491 in the future could be harder to accomplish than an extra $175 each month.

  1. Challenge your property tax assessment

Has your home declined in value in recent years? If you answered, “Yes,” you might be able to save some money in 2020. Challenge your property tax assessment.

Review your property tax and request a hearing date within the required time if the assessed value is excessive. I will help you with comparable sales data for an appeal.

If your property values drop by 40 percent, your taxes should drop by 40 percent, too. The savings can be substantial, about $1,500 a year on average.

  1. Earn a discount or lower quote on homeowners insurance

Major repairs or improvements that you made to your home this past year can earn you a discount or a lower quote on the new year’s coverage.

A new roof, updated electrical and plumbing, for examples, are preventive home maintenance which save you money. Insurers appreciate the money home maintenance saves you; therefore, they are usually willing to give you a discount or lower quote on your homeowners insurance.

Call your agent today and update your file with them. Find out whether or not you qualify for a discount or lower quote on your homeowners insurance policy. You’ll be very glad you did!

  1. Take steps to improve your credit rating

Pay off debts and pay your bills on time. It strengthens your credit score. The higher your credit score, the more likely lenders are to lend you money at a lower interest rate and on more attractive terms.

Did you miss a few mortgage payments this year? Resolve to get and stay current as soon as possible.

Poor credit is not a forever thing. And the longer you remain current and on time with your bills after being late, the more your FICO score will improve. Lenders pay attention to current behavior. Older credit problems count for less with lenders.

Now You’re Ready to Save Money in 2020

New Year’s resolutions are great to make, especially when keeping them saves you money as a homeowner.

Contact me, Charles D’Alessandroyour Brooklyn Real Estate Agent with Fillmore Real Estate with any questions you have about how to save money as a homeowner. Call (718) 253-9600 ext. 206 or email [email protected] today.


Charles D’Alessandro
Your Brooklyn Real Estate Agent
718-253-9600 ext. 206


Where is the Place to Be for the Best Christmas Lights Now?

December 15th, 2019
Best Christmas lights
The best place to be for the best Christmas lights in Brooklyn is Dyker Heights!

Manhattan is known for its enormously large Christmas tree, nostalgic ice skating rink, and giant decorations at the Rockefeller Center. And Saks Fifth Avenue is a big hit every year with the light show displayed on its façade. But Brooklyn lays claim to the massive, professionally-decorated Christmas light displays of Dyker Heights since the 1980s. So, if you’re into quaint and cozy Christmas experiences with fewer tourists, visit Dyker Heights, Brooklyn. It is THE place to be for the best Christmas lights!

Ways to Tour Dyker Heights, Brooklyn for the Best Christmas Lights

Some of the best sights for Christmas lights are in Dyker Heights, Brooklyn. And this year you can feast your eyes on Christmas light displays costing upwards of $20,000.

If you choose to navigate this Winter Wonderland on your own, visit freetoursbyfoot.com first. They tell you where the best lights are and how to arrive in the neighborhood. And they created a Google Map to help you navigate Dyker Heights, too. The map comes complete with a list of notable homes to gaze upon. So don’t forget to take your smartphone with you! It will help you tour Dyker Heights and enjoy your DIY tour to the fullest.

Freetoursbyfoot.com also offers guided walking tours and two well-reviewed bus tours. Your tour guides show you all the important light displays and share the history behind each one.

The guided walking tours cost $19/person and require reservations. Book your reservations and get all the details for guided walking tours here.

Bus tours always sell out early. So if this sounds like the way you want to tour Brooklyn’s best Christmas light displays, book your tour here asap! Heads up. The rates are $55.00 to $65.00 for adults. Children under 12 are $45.00 – $55.00.

When to Tour Dyker Heights, Brooklyn

The best displays are on the weekends between 5 and 9pm. Dyker Heights lights start the weekend after Thanksgiving, but most of their displays are up and running by mid-December.

Helpful Tips to Make Your Dyker Heights Christmas Lights Tour Great!

  • Dyker Heights is a real neighborhood with real homeowners. Screaming, littering, ringing doorbells, and asking to use the bathroom are not permitted.
  • Many of the homeowners in Dyker Heights collect money for local charities. So bring $1 and $5 bills to contribute. Oh, and be on the lookout for hot cocoa stands to spend those dollar bills on as well.
  • Look for Santa at the Spata house and the 29-foot motorized wooden soldiers at the Polizzotto house. These two families were among the first to begin the Dyker Heights Christmas lights and decorations tradition in the 1980s. Yeah, they’re kinda special.
  • Be prepared to walk a lot. Wear your comfy shoes. Even if you are taking a guided bus tour, there are 15 to 20-minute walks you just can’t avoid without an Uber.
  • Since you’ll be out in the chilly air for a while, we recommend you dress warmly! Plan on buying hot drinks or bringing something hot to drink in a thermos, too.
  • You might want to take us up on another recommendation. Since the best time to tour the best Christmas lights in Brooklyn is from 5 to 9pm, why not stop at a local restaurant on 3rd, 4th, or 5th Street for a bite to eat?

There’s Something Extra-special About Christmas in New York

Enjoying the best Christmas lights in Brooklyn is a must-see, but it isn’t the only Christmas activity to experience this year. Freetoursbyfoot.com published this post as a guide to things to do in NYC during Christmas. They’ve listed markets, Christmas trees, tours, and shows for you to check out.

Yes, Dyker Heights in Brooklyn is truly a “must-see” for the best Christmas lights during the holidays. But quite simply there’s just something extra-special about spending Christmas in New York City.

Come visit the Big Apple during the holidays and enjoy one of the best Christmas lights displays in America.

Merry Christmas from Charles D’Alessandroyour Brooklyn Real Estate Agent with Fillmore Real Estate!

For all your real estate needs, contact Charles at (718) 253-9600 ext. 206 or email him at [email protected]


Charles D’Alessandro
Your Brooklyn Real Estate Agent
718-253-9600 ext. 206


How to Find a Home Quickly and Conveniently in the Cold

November 30th, 2019
Find a home quickly
Take advantage of the cold when house hunting. Here are 4 ways to find a home quickly in the cold winter months.

Baby, it’s cold outside! And you need to relocate now?! Here’s how you can find a home quickly and conveniently even while it’s frigid in Brooklyn.

4 Ways to Find a Home Quickly When It’s Cold Outside

Yeah, who actually wants to bundle up and tromp through biting cold temps and wind? Nobody does. Sometimes it’s necessary because you don’t really have a choice. But here are four ways to warm up to the process and find a home quickly in spite of the cold.

First, Do Your Research

When it’s cold outside, it’s the perfect time to get some quality research done. Grab a cup of your favorite hot beverage and read a few home inspection reports. I know it’s monotonous and boring to do, quite honestly. But it is a part of the moving process that needs to be done, especially when finding a home quickly matters.

Second, Check ‘Em Out

Wintertime is the best time to check out houses that are up for sale for two really good reasons.

  • Cold temperatures and freezing winds reveal gaps, drafts, and leaks you don’t think to look for in the spring or summer months
  • A home’s systems are working extremely hard to keep up with frigid temperatures allowing you to check them out, too

Third, Attend Open Houses

If there are open houses in the Brooklyn neighborhood you’re interested in moving to, attend as many of them as you can. Not only do you get to inspect a home you really want, but you also create opportunities to mingle and learn of other available homes nearby.

Chances are you won’t like every house you visit. But checking them out in person allows you to see what a house is like during the colder months. And that’s a real plus in your favor!

Fourth, Check Out Parking and Other Possible Problems

Parking close matters when it’s cold and snowy outside. So check out available parking near that perfect Brownstone you’ve got your buyer’s eye on.

Also, when there’s snow on the ground, you see problems such as poor access, poor drainage, and the lack of snowplowing that occurs.

Warm Up to Winter House Hunting

‘Tis the season to warm up to winter house hunting. So put on your boots, bundle up, and head out to those showings when the ground is white with snow and the cold air bites your nose!

The cold offers several advantages making the winter season better than others for you to find a home quickly. But to top it all off, if you don’t want to go out in the cold weather, then neither do other potential buyers. And that means less competition for you.

Happy house hunting!

When you need to find a home quickly, contact Charles D’Alessandroyour Brooklyn Real Estate Agent with Fillmore Real Estate right away. Call (718) 253-9600 ext. 206 or email [email protected] when the weather’s cold in Brooklyn.


Charles D’Alessandro
Your Brooklyn Real Estate Agent
718-253-9600 ext. 206


5 Ways to Make You and Your Home a Happier Place to Be

November 15th, 2019
Home a happier place
Start practicing gratefulness every day to make a happier you and your home a happier place to be.

What are you thankful for today? Gratefulness is the key that opens the door to happiness. Science tells us so. You see, simple acts of kindness practiced daily make you more optimistic and less negative. So in light of Thanksgiving Day next week and a new year next month, here are five ways to practice gratitude every day to make you and your home a happier place all year.

Ways to Practice Gratitude Daily to Make You and Your Home a Happier Place

Make time to think about all that you’re thankful for daily. When gratitude is a priority and you recognize what and who you appreciate most every single day, it becomes second nature.

1. Start writing

Purchase a notebook and keep it with you wherever you go, in your home and when you leave the house. Then take a few minutes each day to write in it. Write down one or two things that you are thankful for. They can be events, circumstances, acts of kindness others have shown to you, notes of appreciation you have received, and so forth. Just write down whatever you’re grateful for.

Journaling allows you to look back and reflect on how much you have to be thankful for. Because let’s face it, we are so prone to forgetting the “little” things. And when times get rough, reading through your abundance journal (or whatever you name it) is immensely encouraging.

2. Verbalize your appreciation

Whenever anyone does something above and beyond or goes the extra mile, let them know you noticed. Then show your appreciation. Express your gratitude to them. Treat them with lunch or a visit to their favorite coffee shop.

Make it a point to interact with others as much as possible. We make time for those who are important to us. Do you remember the impact it had on you when someone took time out of their day to do something with you or for you?

3. Practice the Golden Rule

Treat others better than the way you want to be treated. And give them the same level of courtesy you appreciate receiving. Respect others with a smile, kindness, patience, and a listening ear.

Here are a few examples:

  • Offer to bring back coffee for someone in the office when you make your daily coffee run
  • If you use the last paper towel on the roll, replace it
  • When you make yourself something to eat, clean up after yourself
  • If someone is running to the door to enter the same building or elevator you are, hold the door for them

4. Focus on the positive

Negative things happen, to us and others, often. That’s just the way it is when we are alive. Lines get long. Kids get sick. Clients are sometimes difficult to work with. And here in New York, you get cut off in traffic. But don’t complain or moan about your challenges. Instead, choose to focus on the positive. Complaining reinforces a negative state of mind, whether you complain out loud to someone else or to yourself in your thoughts.

Next time something gets on your nerves, breathe deeply and choose to be grateful for something positive.

5. Volunteer in your community

Volunteering gives you positive things to focus on. It’s a great way to give back to the community while making you and your home happier, too. Yes, showing kindness and doing things for others does more for you than it does for those on the receiving end. Why? Because “It is better to give than to receive.”

Daily Gratitude is Key to Make You and Your Home a Happier Place to Be All Year

Practicing gratitude daily is key to make you and your home a happier place to be every day and in the year to come. And a happier you and a happier home are definitely something to be grateful for!

You know how nice it feels when someone shows you kindness or expresses gratitude to you. Be that person to someone else. Practice gratitude daily.

Happy Thanksgiving from Charles D’Alessandroyour Brooklyn Real Estate Agent with Fillmore Real Estate with heart. Call (718) 253-9600 ext. 206 or email [email protected] when it’s time to buy or sell in Brooklyn.


Charles D’Alessandro
Your Brooklyn Real Estate Agent
718-253-9600 ext. 206