How to Take Care of Our Seniors All Year Long

August 15th, 2018
Take care of our seniors

What do we need to do today to take care of our seniors tomorrow?

Baby Boomers, those who were born from 1946 to 1964, are the largest generation in U.S. history. And they are now surging into what we call their golden years. According to Census.gov, projections of the senior population says that Seniors in the United States surpassed 50 million in November 2016. And this surge in the aging Baby Boomer population presents many challenges for us as a country. Why? Because there will be “more Medicare beneficiaries and higher Medicare spending with fewer citizens paying into the system.” So how will we take care of our seniors?

Plan Now to Take Care of Our Seniors Later

Aging happens. Since aging is inevitable, shouldn’t we take steps to take care of our seniors financially and medically? Shouldn’t we make sure their living needs will be met when it does happen? It’s kind of like Christmas, it comes every year, inevitably, so make a plan in January and start saving to make sure your gift-giving and festivities are not a financial burden.

What about your aging parents? Did they make sure they would be taken care of financially and medically as seniors? Did they make sure their living needs would be met in their golden years? If they didn’t, you need to start planning for their future now.

Start Here

No matter where your parents are in their golden years, plan now to take care of their financial, medical, and housing needs. I recommend you seek the assistance of an elder care attorney. They advise on legal issues and financial arrangements and draw up legal documents for you as well.

Get your parents in to see their doctor for a geriatric medical assessment. This will determine their overall health and whether or not there are any health problems that need to be addressed. Knowing about current health issues or the possibility of those that may occur in the future will help you plan ahead for their care. Your parents’ healthcare team can help you make sure their living arrangements are safe and that they will serve their needs in the years ahead.

Implement 5-Point Personal Security Plan

Seniors face many decisions later on in life. And although it isn’t particularly enjoyable to do, make time to talk about your parents’ money, healthcare, life and death, independence, and their home. Planning ahead makes the future easier for them and you if and when the time comes to deal with the following five issues:

  • Money – Saving for retirement is important. Make sure there is enough money for your parents to live on and enjoy life in their old age. You also want to make sure that their money is protected, that they can get to it if they need it and that they have enough to take care of themselves. Prepare a will or trust document and decide what should happen to their money if they were to die.
  • Healthcare – More healthcare may be needed in their old age than when your parents were younger. Health insurance coverage is important to have. Consider even a second plan to cover costs not covered by Medicare. Make sure you understand the coverage and that there is enough money on hand to cover whatever the plan doesn’t. Store their health and life insurance policy information in a safe place that you can access if necessary.
  • Life and Death – A debilitating illness such as Alzheimer’s disease, heart attack, terminal illness, or a serious stroke can quickly deplete your financial resources. And when they happen is not the best time to make important decisions. Prepare for such health crises in advance. Advance directives and other important documents should be in order before a health crisis hits. Determine your parents’ end-of-life wishes and get them documented legally.
  • Assisted care – One’s independence is priceless and tough to give up, no matter how old you are. It’s hard not to be able to take care of yourself, but that point may come to your parents. While your parents are healthy and able-bodied, encourage them to make decisions about potential living arrangements. Depending on their condition, would they prefer a nursing home or assisted living facility, hospice care, home health care, and some other available care option? They should choose which option they would prefer according to different situations. Then, talk about how each option will be paid for.
  • Their home – Their home may be comfortable and easy to navigate right now, but what if a wheelchair or walker becomes necessary? Are there stairs to the bedroom or laundry room? A house with stairs could become a big problem if your parents were to develop health or physical challenges. Assess their home’s layout. Consider selling their home and buying a ranch-style home with access to everything on one floor. Remodeling or safety modifications may be a possibility. But now is the time to purchase a home with a ranch floor plan or remodel.

Final Thoughts

Your parents might not be physically able to participate in many social events, but always ask,
invite, and keep them in various circles of social life. Depression is easy for seniors to develop if they feel alone and no longer productive. Let’s take care of our seniors today and all year long:

  • Check on them regularly
  • Encourage their independence as long as possible
  • Include seniors in your everyday social activities
  • Encourage them to volunteer and be active in the community
  • Be vigilant! Check for signs of elder abuse

Start planning and taking action today for their best tomorrow.

No one really likes to think about growing old or planning for the life you want to live in those golden years. But putting a plan in place now will give your parents and you great peace of mind later. Do you see how important it is to take care of our seniors today as well as all year long?

Charles D’Alessandro cares about our seniors who live in Brooklyn. Let’s take care of our seniors in Brooklyn now for their best life later. Contact Charles D’Alessandro, your Brooklyn Real Estate Agent with Fillmore Real Estate. Call (718) 253-9600 ext.206 or email [email protected] today.


Brooklyn Real Estate Agent

 Charles D’Alessandro

Your Brooklyn Real Estate Agent

718-253-9600 ext. 206

[email protected]


Why It’s Important to Talk About Money Matters Now

July 31st, 2018
Money matters

Money matters matter, a lot. Talk about them with your kids now and prevent the sadness of family discord after you’re gone.

You’re dead and buried. Your adult children are gathered around a table in your lawyer’s office. Fights among your children ensue … Your heart breaks thinking about the possibility of your family being torn apart. And there’s nothing you can do about it. Or is there? What can you do now to prevent bitter arguments over who gets what when “that” time comes? There is something you can do about it, and the solution is simple. Talk about money matters now.

When It’s Most Necessary to Talk about Money Matters

Do you struggle with talking about money matters with your children? Most parents and even grandparents do. But if you want to keep your children from making a scene at your estate attorney’s office, you really must overcome your feelings of discomfort now, while you are “of sound mind and body.” Here are three occasions when it’s important to start the money matters conversations:

  1. At retirement
  2. During health care planning
  3. And during estate planning

How to Prevent Family Feuds Over Money Matters

Michigan estate attorney P. Mark Accettura and Lori Sackler, a senior vice president at Morgan Stanley Wealth Management in New Jersey offer this advice:

  • Draw up an estate plan, and tell your children the basics.

Call a family meeting to discuss any plans that might impact adult children, such as money allotted for grandchildren’s education. It’s time to set children straight. “Sometimes they have a grandiose vision of an inheritance,” Sackler says. But there’s no need to go into detail. “Estate planning is not a democratic process. You don’t need children buying into it, and you don’t want to open a can of worms while you’re alive,” Accettura says.

  • Divide the estate equally.

Resist the temptation to give more to the neediest among your children; it often leaves the more successful kids feeling penalized and causes resentment among siblings, Sackler says. “The will that provides equal distribution is the will that probably provides the least conflict,” she adds. Accettura also is adamant that an estate should be divided equally. “Even getting a dollar less than another sibling can be a psychological blow,” he says.

  • Name an executor.

Try to have some reason for choosing one child over another. Perhaps it’s the oldest child (unless he or she lives too far away) or another child with specific legal or financial skills. Also, think about including a fee for the executor. “Handling an estate can be a lot of work, and if the executor is going to charge a fee, he probably deserves it,” Sackler says. Accettura suggests that parents include everyone in some capacity in the will. “Get people’s names on the pages either as executor or helping in another way.”

  • Specify gifts and loans.

If parents have given adult children money, they should make it clear in the will whether it’s a gift or a loan. If a loan, is it to be forgiven or repaid to the estate? When parents aren’t clear, it can cause conflict, Sackler says.

  • Make a plan for family jewels.

Even if it’s not expensive, Grandma’s engagement ring can cause fights because of the sentimental value attached. “Have a family conversation, and come up with a plan for people choosing and getting on board with the selection process,” Sackler says.

Mark Accettura wrote a book, Blood & Money on how to avoid family feuds. Lori Sackler is the author of The M Word. It is a guide to family financial matters that helps families overcome the difficulty felt when discussing money matters.

Take Care of Your Family Before You Die

Protect your family relationships after you’re gone. Get prepared now. You can prevent feuds over your inheritance by talking through your wishes with your children before you die. But getting prepared now goes beyond overcoming the difficulty of talking to your children and making sure your wishes are known to them. It also means taking care of them after you’re gone by getting your legal documents in order now.

Secure and protect your family assets and your family’s relationships long after you’re gone. Put the uncomfortable feelings you have in regards to talking about money matters with your children and get your legal documents in order today. Doing so will go a long way in keeping the peace tomorrow.

Charles D’Alessandro cares about all of us who live in the Brooklyn area. Do you have questions about getting your affairs in order or how to address money matters with your family before you die? Contact Charles D’Alessandro, your Brooklyn Real Estate Agent with Fillmore Real Estate. Call (718) 253-9600 ext.206 or email [email protected] today.


Brooklyn Real Estate Agent

 Charles D’Alessandro

Your Brooklyn Real Estate Agent

718-253-9600 ext. 206

[email protected]


Do You Think Being Organized is a Challenge?

July 15th, 2018
Organized bathroom shelf

Finish this 30-day challenge to get organized and bask in the warmth of a great accomplishment.

In the previous blog post, I challenged you to organize your space in the next 30 days. I also introduced the possibility of being completely organized in one month. How? By spending less than 60 minutes a day organizing your stuff for 30 days. Did you take on the challenge? How organized are you after the first 14 days? Do tell (in the comments below). Organizing your space yields great personal satisfaction. So keep going. Work through the next 16 days listed below to reach that personally satisfying state of accomplishment called “organized.” It will be worth it!

Organized in Less Than an Hour a Day: the Last 16 Days

Take the time to put your plan to get organized into action every day for another 16 days, and you’ll be organized by month’s end. Here are the next 16 steps, one step per day, for less than an hour a day, to reach a personally-satisfying goal.

Organized in the Living Room

Day 15. Gift or Donate Stuff on Your Shelves

Knickknacks, books, and stuff you’ve compiled over the years are probably taking up valuable space on shelves in your home. Donate those books you’ll never read to the library. Get rid of what doesn’t absolutely delight you. Now arrange the few items that do bring joy in ways you’ll love to look at every day.

Day 16. Control Your Cables

Tame the maze of cables behind your entertainment center. It’s easy to do. First, create ID tags made from bread wrapper tags or cable ties for each plug. Then, bundle the mayhem with Velcro strips or run them inside a heavy-duty paper roll center from newspaper end rolls. You could even paint it black to match the cables. Corrugated wire looms are a great idea, too.

Day 17. Switch Your Hangers

Slim hangers that grab your clothes well use less space and keep your clothes on the hangers. It’s worth switching all those bulky hangers to skinnier ones. And while you’re at it, go ahead and pitch or donate the clothes you haven’t worn in a year.

Organize your space where accessories are stored

Day 18. Give Your Accessories a Place

Belts, scarves, purses, and hats organize well in bins or clear, stackable boxes with lids. If your belts and scarves have a home in a drawer, you can roll them up and organize them in a drawer lined with dividers. A simple series of hooks will work well, too.

Day 19. Claim the Space Under Your Bed

Storing out-of-season clothing under your bed is ideal. But when you’re not wearing those clothes when they are in season, it’s time to donate them. How much storage space can you claim by booting those old clothes out from under the bed?

Organized in Your Office

Day 20. Declutter Your Workspace

When my workspace has too many things in addition to my to-do list, my thinking gets cluttered. A workspace with minimal items on it helps me gain clarity and allows me to focus on the task at hand.

Day 21. Feed the Shredder

Make sure you’re not wasting space with years of old paperwork. Shred all that is over seven years old. Consider digitizing paperwork to create more space. And don’t just throw your old paperwork in the trash. Shred them to ward off would-be identity thieves.

Organize your space in the office

Day 22. Organize Your Files

Once you’ve shredded all your old paperwork, tidy up your files. It’s the perfect time to do so. Organize and label them clearly. Use colorful folders to help you organize them by theme.

Day 23. Free Up the Drawer Full of Electronic Stuff

Do you own a drawer full of black cords you have no idea what they are for? Does it contain chargers and oddball electronic things, too? Take the mystery out of it and pair the items with what they work with IF you still have what they work with. Otherwise, throw them away. Why let dead and useless stuff take up valuable space?

Organized in Your Bathroom

Day 24. Throw Out Expired Personal Care Stuff

Check for expiration dates on cosmetics, skin care products, medicines, and even hair care products. If they’ve expired, throw them out.

Day 25. Claim Space Under the Sink

Because most of the items that end up under the sink are out of sight, they go out of mind. Pull out everything. Discover cleaners, tools, and gadgets that are still useful and use them. If they’re not useful or you can’t figure out why they were saved, discard them. And when you put what is still useful back under the sink, put it all into bins. It will be easier to take out and put away your under-the-sink stuff.

Day 26. Hang a Shelf

Mom always told me, “Get it off the counter and onto the wall.” There is lots of storage space on a wall that is often overlooked. If there is space for a shelf, and a shelf would solve a storage problem, by all means, hang a shelf there. I like the idea of hanging a ladder with wire baskets hooked on the rungs over the toilet for storing toilet paper, guest items, towels, washrags, and such.

Day 27. Reduce the Number of Towels and Linens

There are the towels you use every day and the towels you use for soaking up spills and cleaning the car. But how many of those old towels and rags do you really need? Donate most, if not all, to a local animal shelter and throw the really bad ones away. Same goes for pillowcases, napkins, dishtowels, pot holders, and such.

Organized in a Closet

Day 28. Install a Shoe Organizer

Hanging shoe organizers solve more than just shoe storage problems in a closet. Scarves, mittens, cleaning supplies, craft supplies are just a few of the things a shoe organizer can be good for. You can even cut them to custom-fit inside a cabinet door.

Organized in Your Garage (if you have one)

Organize your space in the garage

Day 29. Organize Your Tools

Finding the right tool for the right job should be a “piece of cake.” Wasting time looking for a hammer or the right screwdriver is frustrating. Arrange your tools on a pegboard and always put them back in their original spot.

Day 30. Enjoy Your Organized Space!

Now, sit down with your favorite beverage and ponder on what you have accomplished to get and be organized! As you put everything you use back in their places after each use, you’ll find that cleaning is actually easier to do. You’ll also find more time to plan and paint your bedroom or sew curtains for the kitchen window and door or do a bit of landscaping or ….

Space in your brownstone or studio apartment is a precious commodity. Make the most of it. Purge, sort, organize your space and keep it that way.

Organized space helps potential buyers fall in love with your place when selling. If you’re ready to enter the real estate market and list your home, contact Charles D’Alessandroyour Brooklyn Real Estate Agent with Fillmore Real Estate. Call (718) 253-9600 ext.206 or email [email protected] today.


Brooklyn Real Estate Agent

 Charles D’Alessandro

Your Brooklyn Real Estate Agent

718-253-9600 ext. 206

[email protected]


How to Take Action and Organize Your Space in No Time at All

July 15th, 2018
Organize your space

Organizing the place you call home is an action-packed self-improvement project that yields great personal satisfaction.

I challenge you to organize your space in the next 30 days! Organizing the place you call home is an action-packed self-improvement project that yields great personal satisfaction. But how do you move past the feeling of overwhelm and what feels like an insurmountable undertaking? In order to organize your space, you actually need to first organize a plan. For without a plan, you won’t reach that personally satisfying state of accomplishment called “organized.”

Organize Your Space in Less Than an Hour a Day

Say what? Organize your space in less than 60 minutes a day? Uh huh. And when you take the time to put your plan into action every day for less than 60 minutes every day, you’ll be organized in less than a month, too. “How,” you ask? With this 30-day or 30-step plan.

Organize Your Space in 30 Days: the First 14 Days

Day 1. Just Begin

Eat the frog first. Start with whatever it is that annoys or stresses you most. Tackle that paper pile in your office, no matter where it landed. Get rid of or put away the pile of clothes on your bedroom floor. And all that “stuff” on your counter in the kitchen? Pick up just one item, and put it in its place. Then, move to the next item. It’s amazing how simply starting on what feels so overwhelming will set you in motion on a path to completion.

Day 2. Create a Give Away Box

Put everything you want to move out of the house in a “give away” box. And set it by the door. As you come across items you wouldn’t miss “if you lost it in a fire,” put them in that box. Once it’s full, donate everything in that box to a friend or places like Goodwill and Salvation Army Adult Rehabilitation Center here in Brooklyn.

Day 3. Make Holidays Happy

You might have decorations for every holiday. After you decorate for the next holiday, donate anything you didn’t decorate with, and separate the rest of your decorations by holiday. Then, sort the decorations for each holiday in their own clear, stackable box. When it’s time to decorate for the next holiday, you won’t waste time or energy digging through your 4th of July decorations to find your Halloween decorations. Plus, your decorations won’t get tattered, dinked, crumpled, or worn as quickly either.

Day 4. Take Command of Your Entryway

Set up a “command center” at the door your family uses to come and go. Add hooks for coats, bins for shoes, and a mail sorter. Without hooks, bins, or a place to sort everyone’s mail, everything will “land” on the nearest flat spot available. Oh, and don’t forget to save a spot for your give away box.

Day 5. Put Your Pet’s Things in Convenient Places

It makes sense to put leashes, sweaters, water bottle/bowl, doggie waste bags, and other outside activity items in a bin conveniently near the front door. It also makes sense to put your pet’s dishes, treats, and food in their own convenient spot in the room where you feed them.

Organize Your Space in the Kitchen

Organize your space in the kitchen

Day 6. Organize the Spice Rack

Choose to arrange your herbs and spices in one of three ways: alphabetically, by cuisine, or by brand. Whatever works best for you or makes the best sense to you while you’re baking or cooking determines the arranging.

Day 7. Eliminate Unused or Unnecessary Utensils

The longer you’re married or on your own, the more utensils a body seems to acquire. Some are god-sends, and you use them all a lot But do you really need to create space for four of them?! I can’t imagine using fewer than two spatulas or sets of measuring spoons, but four can openers? If you can pare down your kitchen utensils to one or two of each, do. Then organize what’s left with drawer dividers.

Day 8. Organize Your Pots, Pans, and Lids

I speak from experience on this one. Digging around in a pile for the right lid is annoying, inefficient, and very noisy, especially when they fall. If you have pots or pans that you hardly ever or almost never use, donate them. Purchase and install cupboard organizers, like these for lids, to manage the rest.

Day 9. Check Expiration Dates

How often do you use figs or dates? Once a year? What about anchovy paste? Check the expiration dates on whatever is sitting in your refrigerator, freezer, or in your pantry. If it’s expired, pitch it. And when you need it for that annual dish you prepare, buy just enough to use for the recipe and throw the rest away.

Day 10. Sort and Stack Your Staples

Your pantry would be put to better use with airtight, stackable containers. Sort your flour, sugar, pasta, oatmeal, dry beans, rice, noodles, and other staple dry goods. Then put them in containers that are stackable. They’ll be much easier to retrieve when needed, and you’ll be pleased with the added space you now have.

Day 11. Get Rid of Unnecessary Kitchen Gadgets

Yes, that spiralizer. I have one, and I never use it. Maybe if I enjoyed eating zucchini noodles … I’m going to give mine to someone else who needs to discover why they don’t need one either.

Organize your space in the coffee mug cupboardDay 12. Just Say No to Another Coffee Mug

I have a coffee mug fetish. I collect them, on purpose. You can only use so many mugs at a time, right? Like how many times do you entertain coffee or tea drinkers 30 at a time? Keep one or two mugs per coffee or tea drinker in your family, and either donate or pack the rest. I like to change them out once a year.

Day 13. Pair Food Storage Containers with Lids

If you’ve got a container that has no lid, toss it. And if you have any lids that have no container to use with them, toss them, too.

Day 14. Organize Your Junk Drawer

Junk drawers are a necessary evil, and they exist in more than the kitchen. But wherever it is, why not organize it? How? Dump all of its contents onto a sheet in the floor. Then sort everything into piles. Add some drawer dividers to the drawer and place each pile in its own spot in the drawer.

Now that you’ve reached day 14, take time to think on what you accomplished. Wow! And there are only 16 days left to completely organize your space! Don’t let what you’ve done “go to pot,” as some say. If you use it, put it away. You are creating a place for everything, so put whatever you use back in its place. Space in your brownstone or studio apartment is a precious commodity. Make the most of it. Purge, sort, organize your space and keep it that way.

Organize your space and help potential buyers fall in love with your place. If you’re ready to enter the real estate market and list your home, contact Charles D’Alessandroyour Brooklyn Real Estate Agent with Fillmore Real Estate. Call (718) 253-9600 ext.206 or email [email protected] today.


Brooklyn Real Estate Agent

 Charles D’Alessandro

Your Brooklyn Real Estate Agent

718-253-9600 ext. 206

[email protected]


Epic Fireworks to be Seen in Brooklyn, New York

June 27th, 2018
Epic fireworks

Macy’s epic fireworks display on the East River July 4, 2018. It doesn’t get any better than this anywhere else in the USA!

More than 200 years ago, the very first 4th of July fireworks lit up the Philadelphia night sky. Our nation celebrated its first year of independence from England on July 4, 1777. Year after year, communities all over the United States continue this celebration of independence with epic fireworks shows. And it never grows old.

Macy’s fireworks show is an extraordinary American tradition that has wowed 3,000,000 people each year for the past 40 years. It’s the nation’s largest fireworks display and packed with star performances! There are no fireworks shows that surpass it! It’s massive, in a class all its own!

This year’s 25-minute-extravaganza will shoot 3,000 shells and effects per minute in 25 different hues. And Macy’s has added 20 new shells and effects this year!

Not a native New Yorker? We invite you to come to watch the 40th Annual Macy’s 4th of July Fireworks live. Come and celebrate Independence Day in New York fashion. If you’re not able to celebrate the 4th of July in person, tune into NBC’s 2-hour national broadcast at 8pm.

Past fireworks shows have included performances by popular artists such as Kelly Clarkson, Flo Rida, Meghan Trainor, Dierks Bentley and Brad Paisley. This year Kelly Clarkson returns to sing a soulful tribute to the Irving Berlin classic, “God Bless America.” And she’ll be backed by the West Point Band and Glee Club. Other performers hitting the stage include Ricky Martin and Blake Shelton.

The Best Places to View Macy’s Epic Fireworks in New York this Year

This year Macy’s is launching their epic fireworks show from seven barges along the East River between East 23rd and East 40th Streets. Fireworks may be viewed from any area in Brooklyn with an unobstructed view of the sky above the East River.

The fireworks will begin illuminating the New York skyline at about 9:20pm.

Watch the fireworks live from the following vantage points:

  • 42nd Street and FDR Drive
  • 34th Street and FDR Drive
  • 23rd Street and FDR Drive
  • 18th Street and Avenue C
  • Houston Street and FDR Drive

A Family-Friendly Patriotic Celebration in Saratoga Springs

If a family-friendly patriotic celebration is more your style, check out the annual All-American Celebration in downtown Saratoga Springs. It’s a one-of-a-kind event which includes a live reading of the Declaration of Independence.

This annual celebration begins on Tuesday, July 3rd with a children’s program with Benjamin Franklin, a Historic City Tour, and a fireside chat with General Burgoyne. After the Firecracker4 Road Race on Wednesday, July 4th, there will be an All-American Parade and Patriotic Pooches down Broadway, All-American BBQ and Dessert Fest, All-American Classic Car Show, and more.

Get to the best rooftops and open views of the skies to enjoy the spectacular views of red, white, and blue this 4th of July! NYC celebrates this patriotic holiday with a bang like no other place in the USA. There are plenty of options for great views of displays in other parts of the city and throughout the tri-state.

Let freedom ring with epic fireworks shows in New York! Have a safe and happy 4th of July, Brooklyn!

Charles D’Alessandro is a Brooklyn Real Estate Agent with over 30 years of experience in real estate.  Contact Charles D’Alessandroyour Brooklyn Real Estate Agent with Fillmore Real Estate at (718) 253-9600 ext.206 or email [email protected] today.


 Charles D’Alessandro

Your Brooklyn Real Estate Agent

718-253-9600 ext. 206

[email protected]


Which One of the 5 Types of Home Loans Will Work Best?

June 15th, 2018
Home loans

Knowing the pros and cons of home loans can alleviate the overwhelm financing can cause.

Buying a home is an exciting endeavor! The financing, however, can be a little overwhelming. But knowing the “in’s and out’s” of home loans can help subdue or even eliminate the overwhelm financing brings. So do your homework. Find out about the five types of home loans, and the different upfront and long-term costs of each. Then you’ll be able to confidently choose which loan will work best for you.

5 Types of Home Loans and Their Pros and Cons

  • Conventional loans
  • Jumbo loans
  • Government-insured loans
  • Fixed-rate loans
  • Adjustable-rate loans
  1. Conventional Loans

There are two types of conventional loans: conforming and non-conforming. Neither are insured by the federal government. Conforming means the loan amount falls within maximum limits set by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac. Non-conforming means the loan amount doesn’t fall within the maximum limits set by these government agencies.

When you put down less than 20 percent of the sales price on a conventional loan, lenders require you to pay private mortgage insurance (PMI).

If you have strong credit, a stable income and employment history, and a down payment of at least three percent, a conventional loan is ideal for you.

Pros

  • Can be used for a primary home, second home, or investment property
  • Overall borrowing costs tend to be lower than other types of mortgages, even if interest rates are slightly higher
  • Can ask your lender to cancel PMI once you’ve gained 20 percent equity
  • Can pay as little as three percent down for loans backed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac

Cons

  • Minimum FICO score of 620 or higher is required
  • Must have a debt-to-income ratio of 45 to 50 percent.
  • Must pay PMI if your down payment is less than 20 percent of the home’s purchase price.
  • Documentation is required to verify income, assets, down payment, and employment.
  1. Jumbo Loans

Jumbo mortgages are conventional home loans with non-conforming loan limits. This means the home price exceeds federal loan limits. For 2018, the maximum conforming loan limit for single-family homes in most of the U.S. is $453,100, according to the Federal Housing Finance Agency. In certain high-cost areas, the price ceiling is $679,650. Jumbo loans are more common in higher-cost areas and generally, require more in-depth documentation to qualify for one.

If you are an affluent buyer purchasing a high-end home, a jumbo home loan makes sense for you. To qualify for a jumbo loan, you should have good-to-excellent credit, a high income, and a substantial down payment (well above 30 percent). Many reputable lenders offer jumbo loans at competitive rates.

Pros

  • You can borrow more money to buy a home in a pricier area
  • Interest rates tend to be competitive with other conventional home loans

Cons

  • Down payment of at least ten to 20 percent is required
  • A FICO score of 700 or higher is required, although some lenders will accept a minimum score of 660
  • Debt-to-income ratio cannot be above 45 percent.
  • Must show you have assets that equal ten percent of the loan amount in cash or savings accounts 
  1. Government-Insured Loans

Although the U.S. government isn’t a mortgage lender, it does help Americans become homeowners. Three government agencies back loans: The Federal Housing Administration (FHA), the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) are three government agencies that back loans.

  • FHA loans

FHA loans are popular among mortgage borrowers. They help make homeownership possible for those with small down payments and less than pristine credit. A minimum FICO score of 580 is required to get the FHA’s maximum 3.5 percent financing. However, a credit score of 500 is acceptable with at least 10 percent down. If a homeowner puts less than ten percent down, the FHA requires two mortgage insurance premiums. One mortgage insurance premium is paid upfront and the other is paid annually for the life of the loan. Note: This can increase the overall cost of a mortgage.

  • VA loans

VA loans provide flexible, low-interest mortgages for active duty and veterans U.S. military members and their families. They do not require a down payment or PMI. Closing costs are generally capped and may be paid by the seller. To help offset the VA loan program’s cost to taxpayers, a percentage of the loan amount, known as a funding fee, is charged on VA loans. This fee, as well as other closing costs, can be rolled into most VA loans or paid upfront at closing.

  • USDA loans

USDA loans help moderate- to low-income borrowers buy homes in rural areas. To qualify for a USDA loan, you must purchase a home in a USDA-eligible area and meet certain income limits. There are even some USDA loans that do not require a down payment for eligible borrowers with low incomes.

If you have low cash savings, less-than-pristine credit, and cannot qualify for a conventional loan, a government-insured loan is ideal. Compared to other types of loans for military borrowers, VA loans tend to offer the best terms and most flexibility.

Pros

  • Help you finance a home when you don’t qualify for a conventional loan
  • Credit requirements are more relaxed
  • A large down payment is not required
  • Available to repeat and first-time buyers

Cons

  • Expect to pay mandatory mortgage insurance premiums that cannot be canceled on some loans
  • Higher overall borrowing costs
  • More documentation is required, depending on the loan type, to prove eligibility
  1. Fixed-Rate Loans

Fixed-rate loans keep the same interest rate over the life of your loan. This means your monthly mortgage payments always stay the same, and that’s a great thing! Fixed loans typically come in terms of 15, 20 or 30 years.

If you plan to stay in your home for seven to ten years, the stability with monthly payments make a fixed-rate mortgage ideal for you.

Pros

  • Monthly principal and interest payments stay the same throughout the life of the loan
  • Precisely budget other expenses month-to-month

Cons

  • Pay more interest with a longer-term, fixed-rate loan
  • Takes longer to build equity in your home
  • Interest rates typically are higher than rates on adjustable-rate mortgages
  1. Adjustable-Rate Mortgages

Adjustable-rate mortgages (ARMs) lack the stability of fixed-rate loans. Their interest rates go up or down with market conditions. ARMs may start out with a fixed interest rate, but after a few years will reset to a variable interest rate for the remainder of the term. If you are considering an ARM, look for one that caps how much your interest rate or monthly mortgage rate can increase. This will help you avoid financial trouble when the loan resets.

There is a certain level of risk associated with an ARM. You must be comfortable with that risk before obtaining one. An ARM may be ideal if you don’t plan to stay in your home for many years, saving you a lot in interest payments.

Pros

  • Lower fixed rate in the first few years of homeownership
  • Substantial amount of money on interest payments saved

Cons

  • Monthly mortgage payments could become unaffordable, resulting in defaulting on the loan
  • Home values may fall in a few years, making it harder to refinance or sell your home before the loan resets

It Pays to Know the Pros and Cons

From the very beginning of your house hunting efforts to closing day, then on to the day you sell your home or pay off your mortgage, it pays to know the pros and cons of home loans. The type of home loan you choose to obtain will make a big difference in costs upfront and long-term.

With over 30 years of experience in the Brooklyn real estate market, Charles D’Alessandro is a Brooklyn Real Estate Agent you can trust. He’ll help you understand the differences and benefits of home loans so you can choose one that’s best for you. Ready to enter the real estate market in search of the perfect home? Contact Charles D’Alessandroyour Brooklyn Real Estate Agent with Fillmore Real Estate at (718) 253-9600 ext.206 or email [email protected] today.

Resource: 5 Types of Mortgage Loans for Homebuyers at Bankrate.com


 Charles D’Alessandro

Your Brooklyn Real Estate Agent

718-253-9600 ext. 206

[email protected]


How to Afford the Most House Your Money Can Buy

May 30th, 2018
House your money

Before you begin searching for a new home, you need to know how much house you can afford to buy. Here are a few things to consider to help you prepare yourself for buying a home.

Since you are new to owning a home, you’re probably wondering how much house you can afford to buy? Everyone does. And it’s a great question to ask and get answered because if you get this wrong, you could end up foreclosing on your new home. And who wants that? No one. Certainly not me, and certainly not you. Here’s what you need to know to afford the most house your money can buy.

There is more to the cost of a house than what meets the eye. Long-term costs are there as well and must be calculated to find out how much house your money can buy. You need to fully understand how much a house will cost upfront in order to get into it and how much it will cost to live there month after month.

To Determine How Much House Your Money Can Buy

Have you saved enough for a down payment?

The down payment needs to be at least 10 percent of the price of the home you want to purchase. But the best loan terms are given to homebuyers who have at least 20 percent to give for a down payment. If you’re looking at a $300,000 home, a down payment of 10 percent is $30,000. A down payment of 20 percent is $60,000.

Will the housing costs exceed 28 percent of your monthly income?

In addition to the amount you have for a down payment, lenders look at the cost of housing in comparison to your income. Your monthly mortgage payment, taxes, and home insurance should not exceed 28 percent of your monthly income. If you bring home $5,000 a month, these housing costs should not exceed $1,400.

What is your debt-to-income ratio?

Successful, long-term homeownership depends a lot on a great debt-to-income ratio. Simply stated, this means more savings, less debt. Because the greater the amount in your savings account and the smaller your total debt, the more home buying power you’ll have.

Note, qualifying for a loan and being able to afford that loan are two very different things.

Lenders look at your total debt (credit card debt, car loans, student loans, personal loans, etc). If they see that you earn $5,000 a month gross, they’ll expect that you can afford to pay $1,400 a month on taxes, mortgage, and insurance. But if you don’t have additional debts, they’ll expect that you can afford to pay $1,800 a month on taxes, mortgage, and insurance.

Do you have a good credit history?

Paying your bills on time and paying more than the minimum gives you a good credit history. Get into the habit of paying more than the minimum on time month after month while building your down payment savings before you start looking for a home, and you’ll be off to a terrific start!

With over 30 years of experience in the Brooklyn real estate market, Charles D’Alessandro is a Brooklyn Real Estate Agent you can trust. He’ll help you find and purchase the most house your money can buy and guide you every step of the way. Contact Charles D’Alessandroyour Brooklyn Real Estate Agent with Fillmore Real Estate at (718) 253-9600 ext.206 or email [email protected] for your best start in the homebuying process.


 Charles D’Alessandro

Your Brooklyn Real Estate Agent

718-253-9600 ext. 206

[email protected]

 


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]