Baby Boomers And Retirement: Are You Financially Prepared?

July 15th, 2016
Financially prepared

Baby Boomers, are you financially prepared for retirement?

America, we’re getting older. Those of us born in the USA after World War II and before 1964 (ages 51-69 respectively) are known as Baby Boomers, and we’re nearing retirement. Are you financially prepared to get to retirement or through retirement? Is there a chance you will not get through retirement because you are not financially prepared to do so? It’s time we evaluate our fiscal health.

None of us knows what’s ahead in the next 1, 5 or 10 years, but there are ways to prepare financially to get us through retirement One of the best ways to ensure your money lasts through retirement is to plan on living longer than you think. Here are four ways for Baby Boomers nearing retirement to get financially prepared:

Reduce Your Expenses and Get Rid of Debt

Take charge of your spending. It’s important to create a budget that you can stick to now in case your income is reduced in the future. If you’re looking for ways to save money, look here: Federal Citizen Information Center.

Stop Self-Investing and Go Pro Instead

The pros can manage a lot of money cheaply. How?

  • Their costs to do what they do for their clients are at an institutional rate
  • They get lower commissions on buying/selling securities
  • They can manage money for a lot less

Your 401(k) and IRA returns can amount to little because money managers charge you “retail” and overcharge for their commissions for sales, management and securities. Costs matter. Find the lowest-cost provider in every retirement fund you have, particularly in your 401(k) if you have one.

Add to Your Income-Producing Investments

Take a look at your investment portfolio. Is it heavy on the stock funds side?  If so, now is a good time to increase the percentage of bond funds or other investments that are designed to provide a steady income for you throughout retirement. Ask your financial pro to review your money distributions.

Invest in Real Estate to be Financially Prepared for Retirement

Real estate is a secure investment, and homeownership is critical in building wealth and financial security over time. That’s important when planning your retirement. Owning is much wiser than supporting a landlord financially and having no equity to show for any of it. Homes appreciate. Owning is far superior to renting because it locks in your housing costs and over time your real costs decline.

In the past two years, home prices have increased more per year than the 4% average that rents have risen per year. And homeownership comes with valuable tax benefits, too.

If you don’t own a home, consider purchasing one. Real estate is a secure investment to use as your retirement fund.

Take advantage of the great real estate market situation. Brooklyn real estate is at an all-time high, but we don’t know for how long.

The bottom line

Because we are nearing retirement, don’t take unnecessary risks to get financially prepared. There is no wisdom in trying to recover losses we may have incurred by putting even more money in risky investments. We will need that money for living expenses throughout our retirement.

But do get financially prepared for your retirement now. Save with purpose and intensity, invest wisely and take advantage of the benefits of today’s great real estate market.

Are you financially prepared for retirement? Are you ready to downsize and simplify as you near retirement? Is it time to sell your real estate investment? Get the help of real estate agent Charles D’Alessandro, your Brooklyn real estate agent with Fillmore Real Estate. Call (718) 253-9700 ext. 206 or email him at [email protected] today!


Epic Fireworks To Be Seen In New York

June 29th, 2016

FireworksIn 1777 the very first 4th of July fireworks lit up the skies in Philadelphia more than 200 years ago to celebrate our nation’s 1st anniversary of independence from England. Year after year, communities all over the U.S. continue this celebration of independence with spectacular fireworks shows, and it never grows old.

An American tradition for the past 40 years, Macy’s will celebrate Independence Day with a spectacular fireworks show. It’s the nation’s largest! There’s no fireworks show that beats it! It’s massive! It is a 30-minute-extravaganza of 50,000 effects, 40,000 shells, and viewed live by 3 million people each year! It holds the record for extraordinary entertainment for 38 years.

Past fireworks shows have included performances by popular artists such as Kelly Clarkson, Flo Rida, Meghan Trainor, Dierks Bentley and Brad Paisley. This year Gloria Estefan will sing a new patriotic tune in the musical score.

Where are the best places to view fireworks in New York this year?

This year Macy’s is expanding their fireworks display to two locations on the East River.

  • Midtown – Four additional barges will be stationed in the East River between East 23rd and East 37th Streets near Midtown
  • The Brooklyn Bridge – One double-barge will be positioned south of the bridge

The fireworks will start at about 9:20pm. (Jersey City and Statue of Liberty fireworks start at 9:30pm. Jersey City will be displaying fireworks in front of the Statue of Liberty and in front of the Colgate Clock and Goldman Sachs building also).

The fireworks can be viewed from anywhere with open views of the sky above the East River: In Manhattan, the South Street Seaport or along FDR Drive; in Brooklyn, Brooklyn Bridge Park or the Brooklyn Heights Promenade; and in Queens, along the waterfront in Long Island City. Tune into NBC’s 2-hour national broadcast for the best views of the fireworks. If you are unable to make the trip to New York, tune into NBC at 8pm on July 4th.

The best spots to view the 39th Annual Macy’s 4th of July Fireworks and others in Brooklyn are listed below:

  • Brooklyn Bridge Park, DUMBO: For breathtaking views of Macy’s fireworks and our gorgeous Manhattan skyline, be sure to arrive here early. This is considered the “golden spot,” and it will get crowded quickly.
  • Brooklyn Heights and the Brooklyn Bridge Promenade: You’ll have to stand to watch Macy’s fireworks display from here, but these two spots offer great views. You won’t be disappointed.
  • Berry Park, Greenpoint: It’s required that you buy a drink to stay for views of all the barges from the roof deck at the watering hole off McCarren Park.
  • Fornino Pizza, Brooklyn Bridge Park: Pizza and fantastic views of great fireworks from lower Manhattan should make for an awesome 4th of July celebration for all who bought their tickets for this show early. Tickets for the roof deck are already sold out. Make plans for next year!
  • Brooklyn Grange, Greenpoint: Tickets to watch the fireworks and enjoy the sprawling rooftop farm views of Manhattan are no longer available for this spot either. If this sounds perfect to you, make plans to purchase your tickets A.S.A.P next year.
  • The Ides Rooftop Bar at the Wythe Hotel, Williamsburg: Doors to the bar open at 7:30pm, and there’s a $25 cover charge to view the 4th of July celebration from the here.
  • Grand Ferry Park, Williamsburg: The fireworks coming off the barges near midtown can be seen from the waterfront park in tony Williamsburg. It is sure to be crowded as well, so arrive here early if this looks like the spot for you.
  • MCU Park, Coney Island: Macy’s fireworks show can’t be seen from the Cyclones’ park, but the stadium will be shooting off their own, once the team’s game against the Williamsport Crosscutters is over. You should also be able to see that display from other parts of Coney Island.

If a family-friendly patriotic weekend is more your style, check out the 8th 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 just before a fireworks show set to patriotic music at dusk on the 4th of July.

The weekend will include events like a patriotic parade, BBQ and dessert fest, classic car show, favorite patriotic pooches and more. You’ll find actors dressed in period clothing at Congress Park, along with a family photo op with Ben Franklin and General Burgoyne. The Historic City Tour tells the story of the people and places of Saratoga Springs’ past. Just before the fireworks are shot off and light up the sky, Congress Park will also host a live reading of the Declaration of Independence.

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 fireworks in New York! Have a safe and happy 4th of July, Brooklyn!

Charles D’Alessandro at (718) 253-9600 ext. 206 or email [email protected]. With over 30 years of experience marketing Brooklyn homes, Charles D’Alessandro, your Brooklyn real estate agent with Fillmore Real Estate knows all things Brooklyn.


7 Things To Do First Before Hiring A Real Estate Agent

June 15th, 2016
Hiring a real estate agent

We’re retiring, selling and hiring a real estate agent. Here are 7 things we need to do first.

Congratulations to us! We’re retiring! We need to sell our home and downsize into a place that will cut our cost of living by about half each month, and we think we’ve found just the place. But there are a few things we must do before hiring a real estate agent.

Before hiring a real estate agent to sell our home, we need to do all we can to make their job easier. This will benefit us during the selling process. After all, we will be working very closely with this real estate agent on one of the biggest transactions of our whole lives. (Could You Be Losing Money On The Sale Of Your Brooklyn Home? discusses the importance of hiring a real estate agent who you can trust and who will represent you well).

Here are 7 things we need to do before hiring a real estate agent.

  1. Research comparable sales (comps) in the neighborhood to find the real value of our home. We have an idea of what our home should list for, but we must check comparable home values.

The local market conditions have changed since we bought our home over 15 years ago. The local market may or may not be in our favor today. Regardless of what we discover as we research today’s local real estate market, all our research will help us and our real estate agent. We need to be on the same page with a realistic listing price and strategy for selling our home.

Sellers can find neighborhood comps online. We can compare our home with other homes that have about the same square footage, number of bedrooms and bathrooms and amenities. Our home’s condition must be considered and compared as well.

  1. Know what we have left to pay on our home loan. We need to gather all home loan documents and find out how much we have paid on our home and how much we still owe before hiring a real estate agent. Knowing the amount of what is left yet to pay on our home will help the agent determine a great strategy for selling it. If we are prepared with precise dollar amounts, our real estate agent will be able to get a better estimate of what we could make from the sale. Who knows? We may find that waiting things out might be better than listing at this time, but I doubt it. Look here to find the lowest mortgage rate available in your area.
  1. Before hiring a real estate agent, we must be prepared to tell them of liens or issues, if any, that are tied to our house. An unencumbered property is property that is not subject to any claims by creditors. For example, securities bought with cash instead of on margin and homes with mortgages paid off. That’s not always possible, but the more we can tell our real estate agent up front about liens or other issues that could possibly hold up a sale, the better off we’ll all be. It helps an agent to know about liens and property disputes so they can deal with them all before the house lists. For example:
  • Tax issues
  • Disputes you have had with contractors
  • Problems that could have allowed a creditor to put a lien on the house
  • Disputes with neighbors regarding property lines
  • If you’re selling a property that belonged to a deceased relative. (Make sure the title to the house is clean before contacting an agent).
  1. Clean our home thoroughly inside and out before hiring a real estate agent. We want to make a great first impression on our real estate agent to persuade them to market it for a higher value. We don’t want the agent we hire to make us feel they are giving away a dump. We want to clean it up as if we’re having someone of great importance over for dinner. And cleaning it up goes for the outside, too! Curb appeal is important, too. Our goal is to give the agent a mental picture of our home as a prize to be won. Whatever it takes to give the agent the impression that they have a prize to sell instead of a dump, we’ll do it.
  1. Wait to make home improvements. It’s best to wait to make home improvements until after a real estate agent has been hired. They know what is trending in the market and what buyers in our area are looking to pay top dollar for. If we tell the real estate agent how much money we have to work with, they’ll let us know which improvements will appeal to buyers and which ones will give the best ROI.
  1. Gather and disclose details of home improvements made during ownership. If a seller makes any upgrades during the course of ownership, details on those upgrades should be ready to give to the agent. Knowing about home additions, new carpet or flooring and so forth, will help the agent price our home effectively to market it well. And we don’t need to tell the agent what was spent on each home improvement. Just knowing of the improvement made, will help the agent know what value to add to our home.
  1. Print up a daily schedule of availability. Printing out our daily schedule will help the real estate agent recommend ideal times that our home can be shown to potential buyers. The key is to be ready at all times to accommodate showings. Yes, this is a bit inconvenient, but it will help our home sell more quickly.

Will you be hiring a real estate agent to sell your Brooklyn home? Get prepared and then contact Charles D’Alessandro at (718) 253-9600 ext. 206 or email [email protected]. With over 30 years of experience marketing Brooklyn homes, Charles D’Alessandro, your Brooklyn real estate agent with Fillmore Real Estate knows what it takes to get your home sold quickly.


7 Questions To Ask Before You Make An Offer On A New Home

May 30th, 2016
Make an offer

We will make an offer on a Brooklyn home with confidence when we know the answers to these 7 questions.

Retirement has always seemed to be a distant term. Then all of a sudden, it is not so distant. Well, that time of life for us is here. Because we want to downsize, we are looking to make an offer on a small Brooklyn home in a quiet area. I really like it and have imagined us living there with our belongings thoughtfully placed inside. There are many things we must take care of and consider before we can make an offer and move. To feel confident that we are making the right move on that small Brooklyn home we must be well informed.

7 questions we will ask before we make an offer on that home

  1. What is the property worth in today’s market?

Charles can’t tell us how much we should make an offer for because that would be unethical. So we will investigate what we want to know about comparable sales instead of asking directly how much the home is worth. Charles will load us up with plenty of comps.

Comparable sales, or comps, list prices of nearby homes that have been sold recently. These homes are similar to the small Brooklyn home we are looking at. Comps list high and low ranges for the home we like also.

Charles can tell us how long homes in the area are staying on the market and how much of the asking price sellers are getting. This information will tell us how hot the market is, what the Brooklyn home we like is worth in today’s market and how much we should make an offer for.

We need to know how long the small home has been on the market. If it’s been on the market for months with hardly any offers, that could mean the market is slow or this Brooklyn home could be overpriced.

  1. Is the seller flexible on their asking price?

We can choose to speak directly with the seller’s agent or have Charles ask this question. To make an offer to the sellers that is really low could be an insult and run the risk of us missing out on this home we like so well. Charles has advised that we ask the seller’s agent how firm they are on the price. If we do decide to talk with the seller’s agent ourselves, we will ask, “How flexible are they on the price?” instead of, “How much less will they take?” Asking in these terms will allow us to assess the situation without offending the seller.

The sellers may or may not even be willing to negotiate. But, if they were, and if our strategy were to make low offers, Charles told us we would need to plan to make an offer on several different homes before we would find a seller who would want to negotiate.

“Is the seller willing to help with the closing costs?” This question kind of goes hand-in-hand with, “Is the seller flexible on their asking price?” It’s okay to ask this question, too. Even if the answer is “No,” you will never know unless you ask.

This question is usually answered with a “Yes,” on foreclosed homes though. With Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, it is common to have sellers help with closing costs. They want to sell their properties especially when they have equity in their property.

  1. What is wrong with this house?

Just because a home is listed as “in perfect condition” doesn’t mean it is. The home we want to make an offer on looks like it is in mint condition. However, knowing how badly today’s sellers want to move their properties and that many today are not disclosing any real problems, we must ask directly, “What is wrong with this house?”

Charles recommends that we remind the sellers that if there are any problems with the home, the problems will be discovered when the home inspection takes place. He also said we should encourage the sellers to just get it out in the open to avoid wasting each others’ time.

Charles also told us that if the sellers’ agent recommended a home inspection before putting the home on the market, we should ask to read the report.

The State of New York mandates disclosure forms in which sellers have to reveal any issues or problems with the house. Disclosures provide great information and can even start a dialogue with the seller. Read about New York disclosure obligation here: Selling A New York Home: What Are My Disclosure Obligations?

  1. Is this home in a flood plain?

We don’t think the Brooklyn home we are interested in is in a flood plain, but we still plan to ask this question. If this home is in a flood plain, we’ll have to budget for and pay for flood insurance, which will affect our cost of living in the house.

We can check with The Federal Emergency Management Agency. The agency posts online maps that show if a home is in a flood plain, and the maps are free to access. If we want to, we can double-check with the county and talk with Charles about this, too.

If we do discover that this home is in a flood plain, Charles told us we should ask to see the seller’s flood insurance bills. We need to know what type of flood plain the house is in and how much flood insurance will cost. Some ratings show higher risks than others and therefore, the flood insurance costs are higher.

If we find out that the house is in a flood plain and how much flood insurance will cost, we can then determine whether or not we can afford these additional costs. We can also decide whether or not we are still in love with this little Brooklyn home.

  1. Will the lender allow a short sale?

First, what’s a short sale? Charles told us a short sale means the bank will allow the home to be sold for less than what is left on the mortgage. But, a short sale on this home or any home won’t happen if the seller’s bank won’t give its consent.

Sellers sometimes list their properties as short sales without talking with their lenders first. Even if a buyer and the seller were to agree on a price, if the bank won’t give its consent, there won’t be a closing. A seller must find out whether or not their financials meet the lender’s criteria for short sales before listing their property as a short sale.

That’s why we will ask if the lender agreed to allow the home to be sold for less than what is left on the mortgage if it is listed as a short sale. We would dig a little deeper and also ask, “What is the bank’s reason for giving permission for a short sale?” Then we can decide if the reason (divorce, loss of income or a job transfer) sounds reasonable. If you ever wonder about banks granting short sale requests for any reason, just ask.

  1. Are there any foreclosures for sale in the area near this Brooklyn home?

Sellers and their agents hate this question. Foreclosures usually cost less, so we would have to figure this into our buying decision and the offer we make on this house.

We’ll ask if there are other houses for sale in the neighborhood, and we’ll ask if any of these sales are foreclosures. Foreclosures encourage price competition, and we could make an offer for less on this Brooklyn home.

  1. Do you have the paperwork for the mechanical systems, hardwood flooring, etc.?

This is one of those questions not many even think about. Thanks to Charles, we will ask it!

For example, this house has air conditioning. If the seller replaced the air conditioner or happened to replace it shortly before they put it on the market, it would be great to have the paperwork. Simply put, if the unit malfunctioned after buying the home, we could use the documentation for the warranty. Warranties on the mechanical systems are great if and when a unit malfunctions. We don’t want to pay out of pocket if we don’t have to, right?

The Brooklyn home we are interested in has hardwood flooring in the kitchen and dining area. It would be nice to have the paperwork on the hardwood. With paperwork in hand, we could get an exact match if we wanted to install hardwood flooring in the living room or bedrooms.

We will make an offer on this Brooklyn home with confidence. With over 30 years of experience marketing Brooklyn homes, we know Charles is the real estate agent for us. Call him, Charles D’Alessandro, your Brooklyn real estate agent with Fillmore Real Estate at (718) 253-9600 ext. 206 or email [email protected] today.


The Top 5 Reasons You Should Say No To FSBOing

May 15th, 2016
FSBOing

Get the most you can possibly get from the sale of your home. Don’t take FSBOing risks.

In today’s buyers market homes are selling quickly and prices keep going up. This could encourage homeowners to try their hand at selling their home themselves without the experience of a great real estate agent. This is called FSBOing (For Sale by Owner) in the real estate industry. As tempting as FSBOing may sound, there are several good reasons why you should say no to FSBOing. Here are the top 5:

  1. You must have negotiating skills

Negotiating is part of the home buying/selling process, and you must negotiate with lots of people. Are you good at it? Do you enjoy negotiating? Do you know how to negotiate? If you decide to FSBO, you must be prepared to negotiate with the people mentioned in this list:

  • The buyer
  • The buyer’s agent
  • The buyer’s attorney
  • The home inspector
  • The appraiser
  1. FSBOing inhibits your home from being seen by prospective buyers

A whopping 89% of buyers search the internet when looking for a home. Only 20% look at print advertising. Most real estate agents have experience using the internet to promote the sale of your home and they do it well. Do you know how to market your home for sale online?

  1. Statistics show how crucial a strong internet strategy is

Buyers find their homes online. Look at these numbers:

  • 44% of buyers found their home on the internet
  • 33% worked with a real estate agent to help them find their home
  • 9% bought their home from a yard sign
  • 1% bought their home from the newspaper

It’s pretty clear that buyers find the home they actually purchased online. The days of putting a sign up and putting it in the paper are over.

  1. FSBOing is more difficult than it used to be

There’s a lot more paperwork involved in selling and buying a home than there used to be. Industry disclosures and regulations have become mandatory. This increase in paperwork is one of the reasons that people don’t choose FSBOing. The statistics have gone from 19% down to 8% since 1981.

  1. You’ll end up with more money from the sale of your home if you use a real estate agent

Homeowners choose to FSBO because they believe they will save the real estate agent’s commission. Guess what? The main reason buyers look at FSBOs is because they believe they will save the real estate agent’s commission. But the seller and buyer cannot both save the 6% commission.

Studies have shown that the typical FSBO sells for $210,000. They also show the typical house sold by a real estate agent sells for $249,000. This doesn’t mean that a real estate agent gets $39,000 more when your home sells. Studies do show that FSBO’ing might not make the best sense.

You may be determined to go it alone and think FSBO’ing is still your best choice. Before skipping to work with a real estate agent, think hard about the time and effort you really want to spend trying to sell your home. It’s possible the process could drag on.

A real estate agent’s job is to help you set the right price and get buyers in the door. They have access to and stay abreast of up-to-date and current information about recent sales of comparable homes and the competing listings in your neighborhood.

Sit down with your Brooklyn real estate professional, Charles D’Alessandro and see what he has to offer. He will market your home aggressively, recommend what it will take to make your home look great and maximize your listing with quality photographs. He will “weed out” the serious prospects from the not-so-serious- prospects so you deal only with those who are serious, too.

And once you’ve found a buyer, he will negotiate, take care of paperwork and walk you through every step of the extensive home processes.

Just say no to the time-consuming drama and headaches of FSBOing. Contact Charles D’Alessandro. With over 30 years of experience marketing Brooklyn homes, Charles has the expert marketing skills needed to sell your home. Call Charles D’Alessandro, your Brooklyn real estate agent with Fillmore Real Estate at (718) 253-9600 ext. 206 or email [email protected] today.


Does Your Agent Have Expert Marketing Skills?

April 30th, 2016
Marketing skills

Hire a real estate agent who stands out from the competition. Hire someone who has expert marketing skills.

Remember the old days of marketing a home when a real estate agent could put up a sign in your front yard and buy an ad in your local newspaper? Marketing that way doesn’t work very well these days. Online activities have taken the world by storm, and to market well in today’s world your real estate agent must have expert online and offline marketing skills.

Since the housing financial crisis, competition among real estate agents has been heating up. Because the competition is fierce, real estate agents must set themselves apart from the crowd with expert online and offline marketing skills.

 Real estate agents must have online and offline marketing skills today

Working with a real estate agent is still key when buying or selling a home, but buyers are doing more work online before choosing an agent to work with. The National Association of Realtors conducted a study. Results from the study showed that 92% of buyers use the internet to begin their home search.

Is your real estate agent active online and offline? Are they social media savvy? If they are not active, engaging and networking online, YOU are missing out.

Investigate the online and offline marketing skills of your real estate agent. The following list marketing questions is extensive, but it will help you determine how well your real estate agent sets himself or herself apart from the crowd in today’s competitive market:

  • Do they have social media accounts on all the big networks – Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram? Do they interact with users, share great status updates and promote their clients’ properties on social media? Are they active on social media?
  • Are they reaching out to potential clients through ads on social media?
  • Visit their Pinterest boards. Do you see boards created for each one of their clients’ properties?
  • Are they easy to find in Google Search, Google Maps and Google+ because they set up a Google My Business account?
  • Are social sharing buttons added to their property pages? Is it easy for their home buyers to email and share properties online?
  • Are there testimonials from real, live people who endorse their services on their website and social networks?
  • Is their website attractive and user-friendly? Is the information on their website easy to access? Is the site easy to navigate?
  • Do they offer irresistible free content, like ebooks for example, to reach out to potential clients and to grow their real estate business?
  • Is their website mobile-friendly?
  • Is their contact information on every page of their website so that they are easy to contact? Is it eye-catching? Does it grab your attention?
  • Is there a shared scheduling app for you to schedule home tours and meetings with them?
  • Do they showcase the best that our Brooklyn area has to offer with high-quality, professional photos of Brooklyn, our landmarks, familiar sites in addition to their clients’ homes for sale?
  • Have they hired a professional photographer to take gorgeous photos of their clients’ properties?
  • Are comprehensive, enjoyable (not out dated) virtual tours of their clients’ properties available on their website?
  • Is there a short, cute, high-quality cartoon video that establishes their brand and showcases their personality? Or is there a video that features local Brooklyn landmarks or sites unique to Brooklyn? Maybe a video all about a small business owner in Brooklyn?
  • Have they partnered with local businesses?
  • Do they host webinars and create YouTube videos to share with potential clients on their website?
  • Do they host free seminars for home buyers?
  • Do they nurture their clients by interacting with clients based on their previous actions, such as attending an open house or a first-time homebuyer’s seminar, for example?
  • Do they have an awesome looking business card? Do they hand them out freely like coupons to a favorite New York pizza joint?
  • Do they sponsor local Brooklyn festivals, sports teams or school events? Getting their real estate business on t-shirts, pamphlets and flyers tells you they are working to stand out from the competition.
  • Have they got swag? (pens, pencils, bookmarkers, letter openers, t-shirts, keychains and other freebies that are branded with their real estate business)
  • Are they building client relationships with relevant email marketing? Do they send information about upcoming open houses, houses that recently listed, updates and such to subscribers via enewsletters?
  • Do they have a specific niche or target audience that they focus on taking care of? Charles’ niche is Baby Boomers, 50 years old and older.
  • Do they utilize postcards to reach out to potential buyers in addition to online marketing?
  • Do they showcase their knowledge about the current real estate market or how well Brooklyn is doing in local magazines or newspapers, for example?
  • Do they give a local care package or gifts to clients after home closings?
  • Are they building relationships with past buyers by staying in touch with anniversary cards, holiday cards and birthday cards?
  • Do they give incentives to clients for referrals to future homebuyers?

As you can see, to win the real estate marketing game you must hire a real estate agent who is working to stand out in today’s competitive market. They must have expert marketing skills both online and offline.

With over 30 years of experience marketing Brooklyn homes, I have the expert marketing skills needed to sell your home or help you find the home of your dreams. Call me, Charles D’Alessandro, your Brooklyn real estate agent with Fillmore Real Estate at (718) 253-9600 ext. 206 or email [email protected] today.


2 Reasons Why Your Home’s Proximity to Work Matters Most

April 15th, 2016
Proximity to work

Proximity to work impacts your disposable income, quality of life and the amount of time you have to spend with family at home. Think about it before you buy.

Where are homeowners dealing with the longest daily commutes to work? In New York!

Does it surprise you to know that a New Yorker’s morning commute is longer than anywhere else in the United States? But why should that matter to you? Well, if you are in the market to buy, a home’s proximity to work matters most for 2 reasons: Its effect on your pocketbook and your well-being.

Statista averaged morning commutes for 10 U.S. cities:

  • New Yorkers spend 39.4 minutes commuting to work every day.
  • Jersey City, NJ – 35.6
  • Newark, NJ – 33.9
  • Chicago, IL – 33.7
  • Philadelphia, PA – 32.3
  • San Francisco, CA – 31.0
  • Fremont, CA – 30.5
  • Baltimore, MD – 30.1
  • Washington D.C. – 29.8
  • Los Angeles, CA – 29.6

(If this piques your techy interest, find more morning commute statistics at Statista).

Why your Brooklyn home’s proximity to work matters

  1. It matters to your pocketbook in the long run.

Long daily commutes to work negatively impact your disposable income, quality of life and the amount of time you have to spend with family at home. Yes, there are financial and quality-of-life benefits provided by long daily commutes, but are they worth having less time to spend with your family at home?

There’s not a thing wrong with choosing to buy a home located beyond Brooklyn’s busy city life. However, it is important to avoid the temptation to buy a large home that forces you to stretch your budget and locks you into long daily commutes for a big-city salary in order to pay for that large home. I recommend buying a modest home based on the following Disposable Personal Income (DPI) formula.

Your household’s Disposable Personal Income is what you have available for spending and saving after taxes. Your salary minus the tax rate equals your DPI. For example, $100,000 – $35,000 (35% tax rate) = $65,000 DPI.

Don’t forget about the wear and tear on your vehicle and the cost of filling its tank with gas. Long daily commutes add higher vehicle maintenance costs and more money spent on gas to deplete your disposable income. There are more miles piling on your engine and wearing on your tires, the need for more oil changes and brake replacement, too.

  1. It matters to your well-being in the long run.

Long daily commutes matter to your health in the long as well. Outside of being more than inconvenient, long commutes to work negatively impact both your physical and mental health.

  • Sitting inactively for long periods of time can contribute to weight gain. The farther the commute, the more time you spend being inactive. People who commute every day are more likely to be overweight.
  • Spending long periods of time slumped forward in the driver’s seat can contribute to ongoing neck and back pain.
  • Long periods of time spent commuting affects your mood because you have less time to enjoy daily activities or concentrate.
  • Any amount of time spent commuting causes stress. The longer the commute, the more likely you will have elevated blood pressure.
  • Time spent commuting exposes you to air pollution. The longer the commute, the higher your exposure to harmful air pollution will be.

The decision to commute to work daily is clearly a matter of personal choice. You must determine how long your home’s proximity to work should be based on its effects to your pocketbook and your well-being. With over 30 years of experience in Brooklyn, I can help you determine the best location of a home to buy, a home that will meet the needs of your family. Call me, Charles D’Alessandro, your Brooklyn real estate agent with Fillmore Real Estate at (718) 253-9600 ext. 206 or email [email protected] today.


4 Misconceptions About Capital Gains And Your Brooklyn Home Sale

March 30th, 2016
Capital gains

It’s tax time. Don’t let the dreaded capital gains tax cause you dread. Learn more about it right here!

Your taxes are due. April 15th is just two weeks away. Are you ready? If you sold your Brooklyn home last year, there are a few things you should know about capital gains and your home sale.

High-fives to you! You made a positive financial move in 2015 and walked away with a profit on your Brooklyn home sale. Now it’s tax time and the dreaded capital gains tax threatens to burst your bubble of excitement. Maybe this will help.

What are capital gains?

According to nystax.net, capital gains are the profits that occur as a result of the difference between selling and purchasing price, on which sellers of a primary residence are taxed.

First, know this. The rules aren’t as rigid as they used to be, and there are plenty of exceptions and loopholes you should be aware of. Second, talk with your accountant in Brooklyn, and ask these important tax questions to help avoid any confusion on April 15.  See 10 Money-Saving Tax Questions Sellers Need to Ask.

Knowledge is power. Learning about capital gains on a positive home sale in Brooklyn will save you money. On that note, let’s break down 4 misconceptions you may have about capital gains and your Brooklyn home sale.

  1. All Brooklyn home sales are not treated equally

Flipper and homeowner sales are taxed differently. A homeowner who has uses their home as their primary residence for two out of the five years before it is sold will receive better tax treatment on their home sale profit. A flipper doesn’t usually use a home as a primary residence for two out of the five years before it is sold, so profit on the sale is taxed as capital gains. If you happen to flip houses regularly, your home purchases are inventory, not capital assets. The profit from these home sales are taxed as income. For most people, long-term capital gains tax is 15%, but if you happen to be in the top tax brackets, it is 20%. But, if the profits earned are considered taxable income, tax rates could range between 10% and 39.6% depending on the rest of your income. Homeowners can avoid the tax by rolling profits over into the next home they purchase. Those who flip houses can’t.

  1. What matters if you’re married or single

Thankfully, the once-in-a-lifetime tax exemption of $125,000, was done away with by the Taxpayer Relief Act, but limits still exist for claiming tax exemptions. If you’re married, you can claim a tax-free exemption up to $500,000 from the sale of each home. If you’re single, you can claim a tax-free exemption up to $250,000 from the sale of each home. Claiming this tax-free exemption can get a bit sticky for newly married couples though. Let’s say one person owned a house for two years before it sold, and his or her partner was added to the title for two months prior to the sale. That works. But, both the bride and groom must have lived in that home for two years before it was sold even if the one partner was only on the title for two months before they married. And, if either party sold a home within the last two years and claimed an exemption, the newlyweds will have to wait until that two-year window closes before claiming any profits from the home they now share.

  1. Is your home a primary residence, vacation home or a rental property?

What if you aren’t flipping homes? What if you have a second home or a rental property you’ve lived in for two years that you’d like to sell? For tax purposes, it won’t be treated as a primary residence. Before the 2008 shift in the tax code, second homes and rental properties received the same tax benefits even if the home became the primary residence for a time. Now a prorated amount is determined on the number of years the home or rental property was used as a second home or rented out after 2008.

Here’s a “story problem” to help me explain this scenario: If you used your vacation home for 15 years before 2010 when you began using it as your primary residence, 10% of the profit earned on the sale would be taxed. Here’s why: The 2 years following 2008 when your home was used as a vacation home equals 10% of the total 20 years you owned the home. As long as the rest of the profit from the sale of the home falls within the tax exemption limits, it won’t be taxed.

  1. The more my Brooklyn home sells for, the greater the capital gains tax will be

This isn’t true. For tax purposes, the capital gains tax you owe doesn’t depend on the price you sell your home for. It depends on the amount you profit from the sale. As long as you don’t profit more than the exemption amount allowed on the sale, your home could sell for $1 million and you would not owe any in taxes.

Selling your Brooklyn home can be complicated. There is a lot to know when it comes to taxes and capital gains in New York. For instance, you could be reaching your cap on tax exemptions but still qualify for a partial exemption and not know it. Be sure you talk with your tax accountant before you make a major financial real estate move. Ask important questions and avoid confusion. It’s your accountant’s job to know the details about capital gains taxes on the sale of your home and the tax exemptions available to you. Let them help you get the most from the sale of your Brooklyn home.

If you’re selling your Brooklyn home, contact Charles D’Alessandro, your Brooklyn real estate agent with Fillmore Real Estate at (718) 253-9600 ext. 206 or email [email protected] today. He can help you sell your home and get your questions about capital gains answered.


Home Inspections: Take ‘Em! Don’t Leave ‘Em!

March 15th, 2016
Home inspections

Home inspections are worth every dollar invested because they give the homebuyer peace of mind.

So, you’ve fallen in love with the home of your dreams in Brooklyn. The floor plan and colors on the walls, the flooring, kitchen cupboards and bathrooms … You wouldn’t change a thing. After all, what could possibly be wrong with this home? Everything is perfect!

Finding the perfect home in Brooklyn is a wonderful thing, but don’t allow the love you feel for the home of your dreams cause you to cast a blind eye to problems that may be lurking. A home is one of the largest purchases you will ever make, and a home inspection is a cost-effective way to determine its true condition.

If you’re tempted to waive the home inspection, resist. Here’s why:

  • Home inspections are important to avoid purchasing a home in need of major repairs. It is a home inspector’s job to let you know if something isn’t right. If any safety issues are uncovered, an inspection will help you prioritize the repairs needed. Thoughts: Have you thought about how much time, energy and investment will be required once you’ve purchased the home?
  • You need the facts about a home’s true condition to decide whether or not you should move forward with the purchase. A certified professional home inspector will investigate the home’s electrical wiring, plumbing, roofing, insulation and structural features. Think of a thorough home inspection as taking out an insurance policy against potential operating costs.
  • A good home inspection helps you, the buyer, know exactly what you’re purchasing. Problems with a home that could be costly to fix can be used as a tool in purchasing negotiations with the seller. You could negotiate with the seller to have them pay for repairs before closing, purchase the home as is or back out of the purchase.
  • A home inspection gives peace of mind to you as the buyer and put your mind at ease that the home is in good shape.
  • For buyers, choosing to waive the option to have a professional inspection can cause major repercussions in the future. Sellers like offers in which the inspection is waived because it means they are selling the home ‘as is.’ It means they are not responsible for anything that you cannot see immediately.
  • An inspection allows you as the buyer the right to make requests for additional repairs that aren’t agreed to at the time of signing the initial purchase contract.
  • A home inspection will increase your buyer confidence. A 2012 survey from the American Society of Home Inspectors found that 84% were more likely to purchase a property after a home inspection reported the home in good condition.
  • Waiving a home inspection contingency is never worth the risk. It provides an extra measure of security and helps you plan for the future in your new home.

Types of home inspections

Before you purchase the home of your dreams, it is best to hire a certified home inspector for all-encompassing examinations of these types:

  • General or residential inspection – structure, exterior, roof, electrical, plumbing, HVAC, interior, insulation and ventilation. As the buyer, you will receive a report suggesting improvements or repairs needed to bring the home up to current standards.
  • termite/wood destroying organism inspection – structural damage caused by wood boring insects. This inspection is done for an additional cost, or a WDO/WDI inspector could be recommended to the buyer.
  • radon inspection – radioactive gaseous element. Radon is formed by the breakdown of radium. It occurs naturally and is hazardous to health.  Radon gas from natural sources can accumulate in homes, especially in confined areas such as attics and basements. Testing for high levels is important. Ways to alleviate radon could be costly to fix. Radon testing can be done at an additional cost. Ask your inspector for recommendations if he does not perform radon testing.
  • Well water testing, oil tank testing and septic tank testing. Again, these tests and/or inspections may be done for additional fees. Find out if the general home inspector you hire is qualified to perform these tests.

The cost of a home inspection may vary depending upon the size, region and age of the home and may take anywhere from 2-5 hours. An inspector may recommend repairs, but it is not his responsibility to correct or repair any problems found in the home.

Home inspections usually take place at the time of the sale of the home, and it is recommended that you attend your home inspection.

Are home inspections really worth the investment? Absolutely! Money may be tight at the time of closing but what if you were moving in and found out that the air conditioning unit doesn’t cool the home? What if you find out that the electrical system is substandard after you move in? What if you discover the chimney needs work? Don’t forego the peace of mind home inspections give.

But what if you are the seller of someone’s dream home? Is it important for you to get your home inspected and appraised before putting it on the market? Yes, because there are many benefits to you as the seller in doing so.

Pre-home inspections and appraisals benefit sellers in the following ways:

  • They give you a strong selling point. People don’t like surprises. Buyers value the peace of mind of knowing there are no issues they will have to deal with once they are finally moved in.
  • They make way for higher offers by making you an honest seller to the buyer. It reassures the buyer that you are selling exactly what you say you are, and they have the appraiser’s signature to back it up. This trust can lead to higher offers.
  • And MORE offers! When you have had the home inspected, repaired and appraised, more people become interested in your home. Buyers appreciate knowing that you have taken extra steps to ensure that your home is “all that and a bag o’ chips”.  This trust can also lead to more offers.
  • Offering a home which has been pre-inspected, repaired and professionally appraised at the closing of your home tells the buyer you are someone they can trust which makes the closing process smoother.

Many buyers believe that sellers cover up problems with their home, talking or playing up on the home’s best qualities and features. Getting a pre-home inspection and appraisal before you list your home takes away potential buyers’ doubts that your house may not be all that you say it is. It’s just good practice, highly beneficial and powerful for you.

Call me, Charles D’Alessandro, your Brooklyn real estate agent with Fillmore Real Estate at (718) 253-9600 ext. 206 or email [email protected] today. With over 30 years of experience in Brooklyn, I can help you find the perfect home and the best home inspector for the peace of mind you deserve.


The Top 10 Real Estate Trends in 2016

February 29th, 2016
Real estate trends

The real estate trends for 2016 are positive and exciting! Are you following them?

Real estate trends for 2016 are positive. And in my opinion, number 10 is the best trend for you!

The top 10 real estate trends of special interest to keep your eye on this year are:

  1. People Prefer 18-Hour Cities Over 24-Hour Cities
    18-hour cities such as Nashville, San Antonio, Portland, Austin and Raleigh-Durham are “the place to live” for:
  • Being hip, cool or trendy
  • Having a lower cost of living
  • How easy it is to stay connected to the city from a far distance
  • Being affordable
  1. Parents of Millennials Will Move to the Suburbs

Baby Boomers, or the Gen-Y generation, expect that in five years they will live in single-family detached homes in the suburbs. Wikipedia defines this type of home as a single-detached dwelling, single-family residence (SFR) or separate house. It is a free-standing residential building defined in opposition to a multi-family residential dwelling. Gen-Y will look for homes in suburbs with transportation options to connect them to all that big cities offer. Suburbs that connect Baby Boomers to urban center activities will continue to grow in popularity.

  1. Office Space Will Keep Shrinking

Available office space is decreasing while rent is increasing. This combination will change the average square footage for office workers. An average 253 square feet in 2000 is predicted to shrink to 138 square feet by 2020.

  1. People Will Experiment with New Housing Options

Homeownership decreased from 70 percent before the Great Recession to 63.5 percent in the spring of 2015 for all age groups. This drop in homeownership has stirred up a demand for rental housing and microhousing.

  1. Parking Lots Will Change Into Better Pieces of Real Estate

The way people get around is changing. Many are choosing not to own a car and are trending toward ride-sharing (carpooling). This trend is eliminating the need for parking lots. City developers and officials are investigating how to put parking lots to better use.

  1. More Are Investing in Infrastructure

Buildings, roads and power supplies needed for operation or enterprise in America have been crumbling for years. This has been in the news for a while now. Since the need for new mass transit, better roads and highways and improved aircraft and rail transport facilities has not been met yet, interest in new infrastructure funding, public-private partnerships and real estate investment trusts (REITs) is growing.

  1. Real estate trendsUrban Farms and Rooftop Gardens Are On the Rise

Urban farms and rooftop gardens are growing in number. There’s one called Brooklyn Grange here in New York, large urban farm operations in Detroit, and a vertical farm in Newark, New Jersey will be completed soon.

  1. The Need for Niche Lenders is Increasing

The need for lenders to lend to specialized corners of the market is increasing this year. Many developers turn to larger banks to lend them money for bigger projects that require more lead-time and more capital. But larger banks are constrained by recent regulations allowing smaller banks and community lenders to fill the gaps.

  1. S. Real Estate Capital Isn’t Slowing Down This Year

The increased volume of real estate capital for 2016 is expected to be equal to or greater than it was in 2015. The real estate landscape will change because real estate capital isn’t slowing down this year.

  1. Human Touch Is Just As Important As Ever

In spite of the reliance on computers and technology, the good old-fashioned human touch is just as important as ever. People still need and desire intuition and authenticity of real estate professionals’ personal understanding of the market.

Are you interested in and following the real estate trends for 2016? I have over 30 years of experience to help buyers find new housing options, available lenders and more. Call Charles D’Alessandro, your Brooklyn real estate agent with Fillmore Real Estate at (718) 253-9600 ext. 206 or email, [email protected] today. With a personal understanding of the market here in Brooklyn, I’ll help you find just what you’re looking for.