Practical Summer Home Maintenance Tips To Complete Before Fall

July 30th, 2022

Woman doing summer home maintenance tips.

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure couldn’t be more true when it comes to home maintenance tips. Unfortunately, summer seems to be flying by quickly, and before you know it, we will be inundated with pumpkin-spiced everything!

When you spend the time handling home maintenance properly, you can save money on expensive repairs and extend the longevity of appliances and essential components of your home. 

Regular home maintenance may not prevent things from happening to your home, but it allows you to evaluate and plan for necessary replacement costs in advance. An emergency may cost you a lot for repairs, and your homeowner’s insurance coverage may not include it. To learn more about homeowners’ insurance coverage, you can read this previous blog post.

While the weather remains warm, it is an optimal time to do some outside evaluation of your home. 

Let’s look at some home maintenance tips to address on the outside of your home:

Gutters

A properly functioning gutter system should allow water to flow correctly and exit the downspouts, ideally 5 feet away from the home. Visually inspect the system for signs of wear, damage, or leakage. An easy way to check without standing out in a rain shower is to spray water on the roof and watch how it flows from the house. A blockage may need attention if you witness an overflow in any of the gutters. If you are considering adding gutter guards, now is an excellent time for installation before the leaves begin to fall. Even with gutter guards, mud and debris can build up in the gutters causing issues over time. Recommendations are that gutters be cleaned twice a year, even with gutter guards installed. This article describes the different types of gutter guards and how to clean gutters.

Roof

As a homeowner, you should visually inspect your roof periodically. A pair of binoculars will allow you to look closely at the roof for missing or loose shingles and potential flashing or ridge vent issues. You can also check your roof from the inside in your attic. Look for signs of moisture, discoloration, or mold. These are indicators that there may be water penetration through the roof that a professional roofer should address. While in the attic, check the insulation to see if it is adequate.

Paint

Check your exterior paint to determine if it is time for a fresh coat. Paint can help protect your home from winter leaks. Peeling and chipping paint expose wood elements to wrought. It is essential to paint exterior surfaces when the heat and humidity are lower. The beginning or end of summer is usually a better time to tackle exterior painting for proper coverage and curing. Spending the extra time to prepare the surfaces properly will help extend the life of your painted surfaces. Professionals estimate that a well-painted exterior surface should be good for up to 10 years.

Windows

Check window caulking to ensure they are correctly sealed. While checking the windows, a thorough cleaning is in order. The recommended method is to clean frames first where dirt accumulates. Then, remove the screens, and rinse and dry them. Clean the window and replace the screens when finished.

Decks

Inspecting your deck annually is a good safety habit to adopt. It is crucial if you have an elevated deck. The first thing to check for is mold, mildew, screw pops, and loose boards. Next, check where the deck meets the house for a solid connection. Also, check that handrails and railings are firmly secured. Finally, thoroughly clean the deck frequently. A proper seal will help to extend the life of your deck. Sprinkle water onto your deck; if it beads up, the seal coat is good; if it doesn’t, it is time to reseal it.

Grill

Deep clean your grill at least once per season by cleaning grates of any debris and burned grease. Another good practice is to turn burners on high and let them run with the lid closed to burn off any built-up grease periodically throughout the summer.

Mold

Check your home’s siding for any mold growth throughout the summer. It is more likely to occur in home areas that receive little sunshine. Clean the area with a mold solution or diluted chlorine. Be sure to test for colorfastness before washing with any mold-killing solution.

Gardens

Maintain plants to prevent overgrowth near air conditioners and sidewalks.  Periodic weeding is needed to maintain the appearance and keep plants healthy. 

These home maintenance tips will help to protect your home from unwanted emergency repairs and keep your home looking good. 

There are also areas of the interior of your home to maintain during the summer months. 

Refrigerators

In the summer, refrigerators may need more energy to cool. Keep the coils clean by vacuuming or gently wiping dust away. Check door gaskets for cracks or tears and wash with soap and water. Remember to replace the water and ice filters if you have them.

Sink Disposals

Sink disposals can become smelly and clogged. Ways of cleaning out your kitchen disposal vary from ice cubes to borax. Find the method you prefer, and be sure to clean the disposal to eliminate odors periodically.

Range Hood

The filter of your range hood or over the stove microwave vent needs cleaning to remove built-up grease and grime. You can soak the filter or run it through your dishwasher. Once removed, you can also gently clean the fan blades inside.

Dryer Vents

Keeping dryer vents clean will prevent fires. In addition, a clogged dryer vent can also damage your dryer. A proper ventilation system should include an exterior vent following building codes. You can hire a professional cleaner to do the job thoroughly. Depending on how long or hard it is to reach the vents, you may be able to do it yourself.

Bathroom Fans

Your bathroom fan removes moisture from the bathroom and keeps it from recirculating in your HVAC system. However, it can become clogged with dust and dirt because it draws moisture. Turn off the power to the fan, remove the cover to clean, and gently clean the blades inside.

Ceiling Fans

The blades of a ceiling fan collect dirt and dust. Therefore, periodically clean the fan blades. Keeping fan blades clean is especially important if you or a family member suffer from allergies or asthma. There are many products on the market that make this project easy. 

HVAC Filters

Checking your filters monthly is a good practice. Recommendations are to replace filters annually to optimize your system. Dirty filters can damage your unit or make it work harder, increasing your utility usage.

It is hard to think about interior home maintenance tips in the summer when we want to be outside enjoying ourselves. You may want to save these for a rainy day, but making the time to handle these tasks will pay off in the long run.

An excellent general home maintenance tip is to keep a checklist of the items you need to do for the season. Then, you can refer to this list and check off the tasks as you complete them. Of course, you will need to refine your checklist yearly.

Contact me, Charles D’Alessandro, your Brooklyn Real Estate Agent with Fillmore Real Estate, if you are considering buying or selling a home. As a Brooklyn real estate agent with over 30 years of experience, I help many home buyers and sellers through the entire process. Reach me by phone at (718) 253-9500 ext. 1901 or by email at [email protected]
Charles D'Allesandro

Is Now A Good Time To Buy Your Brooklyn Home?

July 18th, 2022

Couple considering if now is the right time to buy a Brooklyn home.

Many wonder if now is a good time to buy a Brooklyn Home. The news reports tell us interest rates are rising, and homes are not selling in a flash as they have been.

There is a cooling down in the market. But, this may be the right time for you if you are in the market for a home.

But, first, you need to ask yourself a couple of questions.

  1. Are you comfortable with the monthly payment?
  2. How long do you plan to stay in the home?

The federal government told us they would increase the interest rate late last year to curb inflation. In June 2022, they raised the interest rates by three-quarters of a percentage point. The increase was the most significant rate increase in nearly 30 years.

Inflation occurs when prices increase and purchasing power decreases. The loss of purchasing power affects your cost of living, which will cause a decline in economic growth. To keep inflation within acceptable levels, the federal government manages the supply of money and credit.

Inflation management may create a recession, but not a housing crisis as we saw in 2008. If inflation can be appropriately managed, the federal government may be able to avoid a recession. Unfortunately, economists are not as optimistic in their outlook and predicted a recession, while the Treasury Secretary, Jane Yellen, states a recession is not a certainty. 

Regardless of the expert’s prediction, the best time to buy a home is when you need one. 

I recently heard an analogy that says, “Marry the house, but date the mortgage.”

The analogy simply means if you find a home that is perfect for you and checks all the boxes on your must-have list, don’t pass it up. It may be a long time before you find a similar home. The mortgage rates rise and fall. If you are comfortable with the monthly payment and plan to stay in the house for the long term, you can refinance your mortgage when the rates fall low enough for it to make financial sense.

In the current market, inventory is generally still low, although there are more houses on the market than there were a few months ago. To put it in perspective, the June 2022 Monthly Housing Market Trend Report by Realtor.com indicates in June 2022; inventory was down 53.2% compared to June 2019. 

Although the time it takes a home to sell has increased in some areas, you will find most areas are still selling quickly, with a national average of 32 days on the market. Reports say that 32% of homes under contract in June 2022 had an accepted offer within one week of hitting the market. Additionally, Redfin reported that the average sale-to-list price ratio was 102.2% in June 2022.  Although these figures are down from a year earlier, they are still impressive statistics.

In the New York – Newark – Jersey City, NY, NJ, PA metro area, the median list price was $700,000, representing a 9.4% year-over-year increase. 

Mortgage rates are higher but still not considered high by historical standards. This chart shows the change in interest rates from the 70s. The quick rise in interest rates has caused the market to be in chaos. Typically, interest rates do not increase this rapidly. Rate increases have affected a buyer’s purchasing power.

Home prices do not decline when interest rates climb. As a result, the cost of a home will not drastically drop, but the rate at which prices increase is slowing. As a result, sellers may expect longer sales times. Remember that before the pandemic, it was not unusual to take up to 3 months (not days) to sell a home.

Buyers who were waiting on the sidelines should evaluate their motivations to move. Owning a Brooklyn home is a way to build your wealth; check out this previous blog post to find out how. The rental market has also changed, which may still make purchasing a home desirable.

There are many benefits to owning a Brooklyn home that may outweigh the higher mortgage interest rates.

Some benefits include:

  1. Strengthening credit with a good mortgage payment history.
  2. A fixed monthly payment is not affected by a landlord’s annual rent increase.
  3. Build equity as you pay down your mortgage.

If you determine you are comfortable with the monthly payment at the current interest rate, you will need to ask yourself a few additional questions.

  1. Do you have enough emergency savings in case something happens to the home?
  2. Is your credit score in good standing?
  3. What is your maximum price range?

You will need to contact a lender to evaluate your financial situation and pre-qualify you for a mortgage. A lender’s pre-approval is essential to:

  1. Provide a seller proof that you can afford their home and not take it off the market only to find out you can not obtain a mortgage.
  2. Ensure you are looking in the proper price range.

Talk with your lender about refinancing possibilities when interest rates drop. Be sure you understand any restrictions on your loan that would prevent you from taking advantage of lower interest rates in the future. 

Conventional loans tend to have less restrictive rules on refinancing. However, government-backed mortgages such as FHA, USDA, and VA loans are slightly different. As you discuss the type of mortgage you qualify for with a lender, be sure you understand the refinance rules for each program.

It is important to note that you will be charged closing costs to refinance. However, you may find a no-closing-cost refinance loan, or you may be able to roll the closing costs into your new loan balance.

There are many considerations to refinancing that you should discuss with your lender if you think that will be a future strategy if you are planning to marry the house, but date the mortgage!

Although the media reports a change in the market, it doesn’t mean we are in a lousy market. The unprecedented market that we have been experiencing wasn’t going to last. It lasted far longer than anyone imagined. The current activity in the market is stable and better than some years before the pandemic.

If you are considering a Brooklyn home purchase, Contact me, Charles D’Alessandro, your Brooklyn Real Estate Agent with Fillmore Real Estate. As a Brooklyn real estate agent with over 30 years of experience, I help many home buyers understand the home buying process. Reach me by phone at (718) 253-9500 ext. 1901 or by email at [email protected]

Charles D'Allesandro

Check Out These Home & Safety Tips For An Enjoyable Summer

June 30th, 2022

Well maintained home followed home & safety tips.

Prepare for an enjoyable summer by following these home & safety tips before you begin celebrating. The term ‘safety first’ became popular through the 20th-century movement to reduce workplace hazards and has been used since 1910 in the United States.

The concept of ‘safety first’ has been with us since then. And I think it is a wise way to approach our homes and summer activities.

It is that time for cookouts, bonfires, outdoor activities, and the lazy, hazy days of summer. But before you start enjoying those favorites, start with preparation for the fun ahead!

Home Maintenance

The best place to start our discussion about home & safety tips is with our home maintenance. Summer’s high temperatures and storms can take a toll on our homes. So begin by thoroughly checking your home to determine any overdue maintenance issues.

Some items that you should check around your home include:

  1. Security

Burglary rates are higher in the summer. Therefore, taking the time to check that locks, doors, and security systems are functioning properly will be time well spent. 

  1. Garage

Clean and declutter your garage. The ability to pull your car into your garage during an expected storm could prevent hail or wind damage to your vehicle.

  1. Weatherstripping and caulking

We don’t often consider the advantages of weatherstripping and caulking in the summer. However, checking and making necessary repairs can help prevent bugs from entering the home and keep your home cooler, lowering your cooling expenses. 

  1. Sump Pump

If your home has a sump pump, take some time to ensure it is fully functioning. Heavy rain can cause a water backup in your home. A functioning sump pump will remove excess water from the home’s interior and lessen the risk of mold growth.

  1. Exterminate 

Seal up any cracks in walls, and find a safe insect repellent to prevent future damage from insects.

  1. Home tech

Smart home technologies allow us to use light timers, motion detection lights, smart doorbells, cameras, and other security measures to keep our homes safe from intrusions.

  1. Tree and Shrub Maintenance

Trim any overhanging branches to prevent damage to your home. In addition, you should trim large shrubs back to prevent intruders from having a hiding place.

  1. Children

Check your home for potential hazards like pesticides, cleaning supplies, electrical wires, etc. Make sure all dangerous chemicals are not within reach. 

  1. Safety equipment

Be sure to have a fire extinguisher, first-aid kit, and emergency contact information accessible.

Fire and Grilling Safety

Whether cooking on the grill or enjoying an evening fire, remember there is a danger if not handled properly.

  1. Flammable materials 

Keep a clear zone of 10 feet of the grill or fire pit for flammable materials.

  1. Supervise

Don’t leave fires or grills unattended. Be sure to extinguish any fire before going in for the night thoroughly.

  1. Children and Pets

Keeping children and pets at least 3 feet from the fire is advisable.

Pool Safety

Relaxing poolside is a summertime favorite. However, precautions can prevent accidents in home pools and hot tubs.

  1. Swimming Lesson

Teach children how to swim and be comfortable around water. Provide water wings or swim vests to new or insecure swimmers. Supervising children in or near the pool is the best safety measure.

  1. Fencing and Gates

Your municipality may have fencing requirements. Even if they do not, installing a gate and fence can protect household members. In addition, consider installing an alarm on the gate or backdoor, so you are alerted when someone opens it.

  1. Safety equipment

Keep a floatation device, pole, and first-aid kit available poolside in case of emergencies. Also, consider having sunscreen available to reapply while swimming.

  1. CPR Certification

Maintaining CPR knowledge can be beneficial in an emergency. Familiarize yourself with the techniques to help someone who may be drowning or in distress. Here are some tips from the American Red Cross to help.

Personal Safety

Add personal safety to your list of home & safety tips for summer. Take care of yourself and others by paying attention to risks brought on by the summer weather. Understanding how to prevent weather-related harm will ensure an enjoyable summer.

  1. Hydration

Drink plenty of fluids. Water is the best choice, but you can also consider sports drinks, tea, coconut water, and fruit juice. Avoid soda, beer, wine, and hard liquor for hydration. If you are under a doctor’s care, ask your doctor for the best practices for your condition.

  1. Body Temperature

Air-conditioned areas are best to help maintain a safe body temperature when the temperatures are high. Locate a cooling center in the community if you do not have air conditioning in your home during high heat warnings. Avoid sitting in a car or leaving children or pets in the car. If you have to be outdoors, take breaks from the heat when possible. Use a cool shower or bath to cool down. 

  1. Protection

Wear sunscreen, hats with a wide brim, and lightweight, light-colored clothing outdoors. Avoid strenuous or high-energy activity during the high heat of the day.

  1. Heat Exhaustion

Familiarize yourself with the signs of heat exhaustion. Muscle pain, cramps, spasms, heavy sweating, paleness, weakness, dizziness, headache, nausea, confusion, rapid pulse, and fainting can all be warning signs.

Weather

Proper weather preparedness is encouraged by the National Weather Service year-round. However, summer weather can turn dangerous quickly and is a big part of our summer home & safety tips.

  1. Air quality

Summer air quality can cause a risk to older adults, children, and people with heart or lung disease. Stay inside if possible. Limit the amount of time spent outdoors to essential activities. Limit the use of cars, gas-powered lawn mowers, and other vehicles during this time. Do not burn during an air quality alert.

  1. Beach

Waves and currents can be affected by the weather. Before heading to the beach, check weather reports, tide, and conditions. Check the beach area for warnings. Familiarize yourself with the location of life stations on the beach.

  1. Drought

Lack of precipitation for an extended period and high heat can cause a drought. Dry conditions can lead to brush fires or wildfires. Comply with all burning restrictions and other directives during this time.

  1. Flood

Floods can occur anytime during the year. Learn what to do before, during, and after a flood to increase the chances of survival for you and your family and protect your property. Also, familiarize yourself with what to do if you are driving and hit a flooded road.

  1. Heat

Heat is one of the leading weather-related killers in the United States. It is particularly hard on young children, older adults, people with medical conditions, and pregnant women. 

  1. Hurricanes

Hurricanes and tropical storms can be devastating. Storm surges, heavy rain, damaging winds, tornadoes, high surf, and rip currents can all result from such a storm. Learn how to protect yourself, your family, and your property before a storm approaches your area. Proper preparation is the key.

  1. Severe Thunderstorms

Hail, wind gusts, and lightning can wreak havoc on property and personal safety. Be cautious and take cover.

Having fun in the sun is one of the greatest joys. I hope these home & safety tips help you have a wonderful, safe summer experience.

If you’d like some tips on transforming your outdoor space, check out this past blog post.

Contact me, Charles D’Alessandro, your Brooklyn Real Estate Agent with Fillmore Real Estate. As a Brooklyn real estate agent with over 30 years of experience, I help sellers and buyers achieve their real estate goals. Reach me by phone at (718) 253-9500 ext. 1901 or email at [email protected]

Why You Should Declutter Your Brooklyn Home Before You Organize It

June 15th, 2022

Declutter your Brooklyn home before you organize it

You need to begin to declutter your Brooklyn home before you start to organize it. We have been spending more time at home due to the pandemic. Living and working from home may take a toll on the organization you once had. Often when you are working from home, cleaning and organizing have taken a back seat to get out of the house.

If you find it is time to organize, the first step you need to take is to declutter your Brooklyn home.

Organizing and decluttering serve different purposes. If you begin to organize before you declutter, you merely move your clutter from one spot to another. 

Many clients get serious about decluttering before they are ready to sell their homes. However, once they have gone through the process, many remark that it was freeing, enjoyable, or something they wish they had done sooner!

An organizational system will not help you manage clutter. You accumulate clutter when you hold on to things you don’t need, love, or use. So the simple first step is to go through your belongings and determine what you want to keep. 

Organizers like Marie Kondo and The Home Edit have become so popular they now have highly viewed Netflix shows featuring these organizers in action.

You must decide how to tackle the decluttering process throughout your home. Room by room may make the most sense for you. Here are some thought provokers to declutter your Brooklyn home by room:

Living Room

  • Unused decor
  • Used candles
  • Old games
  • Unidentified cords for electronics
  • Broken furniture
  • Magazines and books

Kitchen

  • Expired food and spices
  • Old dish towels, sponges, etc.
  • Unused utensils
  • Broken glass or crockery
  • Plastic food storage without lids
  • Broken or infrequently used small appliances

Bedrooms

  • Unworn clothing and shoes
  • Old bedding, pillows, etc.
  • Unwanted accessories
  • Unused gifts
  • Outdated jewelry

Bathrooms

  • Old toiletries
  • Expired medicine
  • Unused makeup
  • Tattered/stained towels
  • Excess hair products
  • Out-of-date sunscreen
  • Unused personal appliances

Office

  • Old pens/stationery supplies
  • Unnecessary paperwork and receipts 
  • Unused books/CDs/DVDs
  • Unfunctional equipment
  • Old electronics
  • Unused inks/batteries/cords

Garage

  • Unused tools
  • Old paints and chemicals
  • Unnecessary bikes and sports equipment
  • Unused pet items
  • Miscellaneous stored items

Outdoors

  • Broken or unused yard tools
  • Old toys
  • Unused planters and pots
  • Broken furniture

When you organize without thorough decluttering, you are only temporarily solving your issues. Moving the clutter out of sight is not eliminating it. You are just moving the chaos around and temporarily creating the appearance of organization. In the end, this short-term solution does not fix the problem.

When you don’t declutter first, you waste your time, energy, space, and money. 

After you spend the initial time and energy organizing the clutter, you will inevitably need to spend more time reorganizing when the first system fails to provide the desired results.

When items that need decluttering take up space, where do you put the things you actually use? Freeing storage space will allow better storage options for the items you use in your home.

You can save money when you declutter your Brooklyn home by not repurchasing things you already own because you couldn’t find them. You will also save money on purchasing organizing materials such as baskets, bins, and other organizing staples because you have less to store.

Get Started

Start with one small step if it seems overwhelming. Then, when you feel the pleasure of tackling one drawer or one closet, you will be more likely to keep going.

Tips to declutter your Brooklyn home:

  • Start with a small time increment per day to build your momentum.
  • Create three categories: Keep, Donate, Sell
  • Donate items as soon as possible after each decluttering session.
  • If you haven’t worn a clothing item in the past six months, you probably can declutter it.
  • Create a checklist of areas to declutter
  • Before and after photos will help you see the potential for your entire home.
  • A friend may be able to help you discard items if you are struggling.
  • Determine if you should relocate an item to another area of your home.
  • Follow the one-in-one-out rule by removing one item for every new thing you bring into your home.
  • Use clear storage bins to keep you organized.
  • If an item needs repair, schedule it. If you don’t have it fixed in 30 days, you can let it go.
  • Do not multitask during a decluttering session.
  • Look at your home through the eyes of a visitor.
  • Understand that you will make a mess before you get organized.

Do yourself a favor and don’t strive for perfection. Judging yourself and your space against others or, heaven forbid, a television show will create unnecessary pressure. Instead, create a space and systems that work for you.

Mental Health Benefits of DeCluttering

When you declutter, the benefits to your mental health include feeling calmer, happier, and more in control. In addition, the absence of clutter and a tidier space can help you feel more mentally relaxed.

Believe it or not, cluttered environments can increase your stress levels. However, most people find they are more productive and improve their mental and physical health by decluttering. 

Benefits of decluttering include:

Lower the risk of asthma and allergies.

Keeping clutter to a minimum reduces the dust, mold, and mildew that triggers asthma and allergies.

Focus is improved.

Clutter can be distracting and make things difficult to find. It is easier to focus on your tasks when you know where to find needed items.

Self-esteem is affected.

Surprisingly, self-esteem can be improved when your living space is organized by restoring feelings of being in control and pride.

Relationships improve.

Conflicts seem to lessen when clutter is under control in your home.

Find the lost treasures.

You may find items on your shopping list or something you haven’t been able to locate for some time in your clutter.

Studies have shown some characteristics of people who find decluttering challenging:

  • Time management and follow-through are difficult for them.
  • Procrastination tendencies make it hard to get started on a project.
  • Easily sidetracked from their task.
  • Wanting everything to be perfect deters them from tackling the job.
  • Helping others first is more important to them.

Don’t despair; having a clutter issue in your home does not mean you are a hoarder. Only 2.5% of Americans suffer from a hoarding disorder, a diagnosed psychiatric disorder. Hoarders can’t organize or manage their current possessions, yet they collect more.

If you are considering selling your home, this past blog post discusses three tips to get top dollar for your home. Cleaning and decluttering is one of those tips!

Contact me, Charles D’Alessandro, your Brooklyn Real Estate Agent with Fillmore Real Estate. As a Brooklyn real estate agent with over 30 years of experience, I help sellers declutter and prepare their homes for sale. Reach me by phone at (718) 253-9500 ext. 1901 or email at [email protected]

Charles D'Allesandro

What Is A Home Warranty Protection Plan And Do Brooklyn Homeowners Need One?

May 31st, 2022
Computer moniter showing home warranty protection plan.

Have you seen a for sale sign in front of a home with a sign rider hanging from it that says home warranty protection plan included? What is a home warranty, and is it valuable?

I have found some confusion about what a home warranty is and how it works.

A home warranty protection plan is a service contract, not an insurance policy. 

Standard home warranties will cover all or components of a home’s major systems like electrical, plumbing, heating, and air conditioning systems. Coverage of home appliances and other components will vary depending on the company from which you purchase them.

Often you will see a seller offer a home warranty when they list their home for sale. This is because home warranties have become a popular inclusion in the sale of the house. However, if a seller does not include a home warranty with the sale of the property, a buyer can purchase a home warranty themselves. 

Existing homeowners can also purchase home warranties. They are not only for newly purchased homes.

What is the difference between a home warranty protection plan and homeowner’s insurance?. 

Homeowner’s insurance covers your home and personal belongings from significant dangers like fires, storms, and theft. Homeowner’s insurance also covers liability for injury of people who do not reside in your home if something occurs while on your property. In contrast, a home warranty will provide you with a reduced rate of repair expense for the covered systems and appliances defined in the policy coverage.

In this past blog post, you can learn more about homeowner’s insurance.

Although mortgage lenders require home insurance, a home warranty is an optional item. Both home insurance and a home warranty will be a safeguard if something goes wrong with your home but in different ways.

There are benefits to having a home warranty, but you need to understand how a warranty works.

Coverage varies by company. You need to thoroughly evaluate what is covered and what is not before deciding whether it is the right home warranty protection plan for you. You may want to look at several different warranty companies before deciding.

There are several reasons a seller would want to purchase one when they list their Brooklyn home for sale:

  1. They will receive coverage during the listing period.
  2. The seller is responsible for maintaining the property in its current condition until closing.
  3. If a covered item needs repairing before closing, its cost is limited to the service fee.
  4. A home warranty can be an incentive for a buyer, and they will likely ask for one in their offer.

The buyer also has several reasons they want to have a home warranty protection plan included in their home purchase:

  1. It provides buyers with the peace of mind that unexpected repair costs can be minimal shortly after closing a home.
  2. They may have to restore their savings after paying the closing costs before they can begin home repairs.
  3. If they are new to an area, they can access vetted service providers with one call.
  4. They don’t have the DIY experience to handle the repairs.

According to SoFi Learn, the average costs to repair are:

  • Electrical – $141 – $419 for minor repairs, $2,000 – $6,000 for full electrical wiring.
  • Roof Repair – $300 – $2,000 for partial repair.
  • HVAC – up to $577 for A/C repair, $5,000 – $12,500 for replacement.

Rocket Mortgage estimates an average home warranty costs between $300 – $600. One significant repair can cover the cost of the warranty.

Newly constructed home warranties are available.

The majority of home warranty plan purchases are for existing homes. You may not need to buy a home warranty when purchasing a newly constructed home. 

Many builders offer warranties on construction components. The new appliances should also have warranties provided by the manufacturer. Some private contractors may not have a warranty option; therefore, some home warranty companies offer an option for new homes. You can consider purchasing a home warranty protection plan when your builder and manufacture warranties expire.

Coverage under a home warranty will vary from company to company.

It is important to stress that not all home warranty coverage is the same, and you must read and understand the policy offered to you. In addition, if there are older systems in the home, they may not be able to be repaired due to the availability of replacement parts, making the replacement cost significantly higher.

How does a home warranty protection plan work?

Most home warranties have a required service fee. Service fees average around $100 per service call. 

You will need to contact the warranty company to file a warranty claim. Many companies require that you contact them first to receive a qualifying service provider’s contact information. However, many have exceptions for emergencies. Be sure to read the fine print.

When the service provider arrives, you will need to pay the service fee. After evaluating the situation, the service provider and warranty company will determine the necessary action to remedy the issue. Exclusions under warranty can incur additional expenses for the homeowner.

The pros and cons of home warranties include:

PROS

  • Peace of mind of paying for unexpected repairs.
  • Cost is limited to the service fee for covered items.
  • The convenience of using vetted service providers.
  • Reliability on the experience and skill of service providers.
  • The current warranty may be transferable if you sell your home.

CONS

  • Denial of claims due to coverage.
  • Contacting the home warranty company before contacting a service provider is often required.
  • A maximum dollar limit per year could apply.
  • The home warranty company has the authority to decide whether to repair or replace.
  • Appliance coverage is usually an additional cost.
  • Not all components and costs are covered.
  • Terms and conditions may be confusing or vague.
  • There are limitations and exceptions to a home warranty protection plan.

Do your research before selecting a home warranty plan.

Many real estate firms have recommendations based on their experience with home warranty companies. You may also want to check with friends and family to see if they have experience with any home warranty protection plans.

It is good practice to check with the Better Business Bureau rating on any company you consider using. 

The BBB bases ratings on:

  • The number of complaints.
  • The size of the business.
  • How well the company responds to complaints.
  • How quickly the company resolves complaints.
  • Whether the business made a good faith effort to resolve the complaint.

You can also search on the internet by merely typing the company name followed by “complaints” to find additional information.

Conclusion

A home warranty protection plan is often a reassurance to homeowners that they can save substantial expenses of repairs for their home. However, each individual must assess if a home warranty is right for them based on their financial situation, home condition, and knowledge of home repairs. Nevertheless, many homeowners have benefitted from having a policy.

Contact me, Charles D’Alessandro, your Brooklyn Real Estate Agent with Fillmore Real Estate. As a Brooklyn real estate agent with over 30 years of experience, I help buyers and sellers achieve their real estate goals. Reach me by phone at (718) 253-9500 ext. 1901 or email at [email protected]

Charles D'Allesandro

Why Should You Use A Real Estate Professional To Sell Your Home Now

May 15th, 2022
Real estate agent holding house.

It is tempting to forgo the services of a real estate professional when you are selling your home in a hot real estate market. Although we are still in a favorable market, the increasing interest rates will lower the buying pool.

As interest rates increase, buyers who were on the margins of qualifying for a higher mortgage may now have to lower the price range of the home they are looking to purchase. This may reduce the pool of buyers in any given price range.

Along with the higher interest rates, increased inflation can reduce the amount of cash a buyer is willing to invest in their new home. This will begin to decrease the amount of competition for homes.

A real estate professional has the skills, experience, and expertise it takes to navigate the highly detailed and involved process of selling a home. That may be why the percentage of people who list their houses on their own, known as a For Sale By Owner or FSBO, is decreasing. 

Here are five reasons why selling with a real estate professional makes more sense, even in today’s hot market:

1. They Know The Buyer’s Hot Buttons

Before deciding which projects and repairs to take on, connect with a real estate professional. They have first-hand experience with today’s buyers, what the buyer expects, and what you need to do to ensure your house shows well.

If you don’t lean on their expertise, you may spend your time and money on something that isn’t essential. Previously, I discussed the possibility of over-improving your home in this blog post. In today’s low-inventory market, buyers are willing to take on more renovation work themselves. A survey from Freddie Mac finds that:

“. . . nearly two-in-five potential homebuyers would consider purchasing a home requiring renovations.” 

 In the hot real estate market we have been experiencing, the home inspection process has been less contentious than before the market fired up.

Familiarity with staging techniques to make your home more appealing to buyers is a strength of most real estate professionals. They tour a  lot of houses and know what makes a buyer light up.

A professional can help you decide what you need to tackle. It’s not canned advice you could find online – it’s recommendations specific to your house, price range, and area.

2. They Help Maximize The Number Of Buyers Who Tour Your Home

Recently, the average home has been getting 4.8 offers per sale, according to recent data from the National Association of Realtors (NAR), and that competition is pushing prices up. While that’s promising for you as a seller, it’s essential to understand your agent’s role in bringing buyers to your home.

Real estate professionals have various tools at their disposal, such as social media followers, agency resources, and the MLS, to ensure that most qualifying buyers view your house. According to realtor.com:

“Only licensed real estate agents can list homes on the MLS, which is a one-stop online shop of sorts for getting a house seen by thousands of agents and home buyers. . . . This is certainly one of many good reasons why the majority of home sellers decide to employ the services of a listing agent rather than going it alone.”

The real estate community is well-connected. Real estate professionals network with other real estate professionals sharing information on upcoming homes for sale and the buyers they represent. As a result, a well-connected real estate agent may share information about your home before the house is available to the public with real estate professionals who have buyers interested in homes like yours. 

Without access to these tools and networks, your buyer pool is limited. And you want more buyers to view your house since buyer competition can drive your final sales price higher.

3. They Understand The Legal Requirements

Today, more disclosures and regulations are mandatory when selling a house, whether you are using a real estate agent or doing it yourself. Unfortunately, the number of legal documents you’ll need to understand and utilize is increasing. That’s why Investopedia says:

“One of the biggest risks of FSBO is not having the experience or expertise to navigate all of the legal and regulatory requirements that come with selling a home.”

A real estate professional knows exactly what needs to happen, what all the paperwork means, and how to work through it efficiently. They’ll help you review the documents and avoid any costly missteps that could occur if you try to handle them on your own.

There are many timelines to meet after a contract is signed in that fine print! Your real estate professional will make sure everyone meets their deadlines to keep the agreement moving forward, prevent any loopholes for the buyer, and that your home will close on time.

4. Real Estate Professionals Are Trained Negotiators

If you sell without a real estate professional, you’ll also be solely responsible for all the negotiations. That means you’ll have to coordinate with:

  • The buyer – who wants the best deal possible.
  • The buyer’s agent – who will use their expertise to advocate for the buyer.
  • The inspection company – that works for the buyer and will almost always find concerns with the house.
  • The appraiser – who assesses the property’s value to protect the lender.

Instead of going toe-to-toe with all these parties alone, lean on an expert. They’ll know what levers to pull, how to address everyone’s concerns, and when you may want to get a second opinion.

There may be issues that arise during the sale of a home. An experienced real estate professional knows how to put out fires that may otherwise kill the deal.

5. They Know How To Set the Right Price for Your House

If you sell your house on your own, you may overshoot your asking price. That means you’ll leave money on the table because you priced it too low, or your house will sit on the market because you priced it too high. Pricing a home requires expertise.

. . . There is no easy or universal way to determine market value for real estate.”

Real estate professionals know the ins and outs of how to price your house accurately and competitively. To do so, they compare your house to recently sold homes in your area and factor in the current condition of your house. These factors are crucial to making sure your home is appropriately priced to move quickly while getting you the highest possible final sale price.

An experienced real estate professional knows how to price ahead of the market. This means that the price should not necessarily reflect what is happening today but what will happen in the next few weeks or months ahead. For example, if the buyer pool begins to shrink due to increased interest rates, the competition will not be the same as a few months ago. With fewer buyers in the market, sales prices may begin to stabilize. Pricing your home too high is a risk. Traditionally, an overpriced house sells for less than if priced correctly.

For Sale By Owner homes typically sell for 14% less than similar homes listed by real estate professionals. Paying a real estate commission would still yield a for sale by owner more profit than going it alone.

Bottom Line

There’s a lot that goes into selling your house. So instead of tackling it alone, reach out to a trusted real estate professional to make sure you have an expert on your side throughout the entire process.

Contact me, Charles D’Alessandro, your Brooklyn Real Estate Agent with Fillmore Real Estate. I can help buyers and sellers achieve their real estate goals. Reach me by phone at (718) 253-9500 ext. 1901 or email at [email protected]

Charles D'Allesandro

Brooklyn Homeownership Is A Step Toward Wealth Building

May 1st, 2022
Property investment, house mortgage financial planning and real estate home refinancing concept with piggy bank saving budget and money coin stacks

Brooklyn homeownership is a foundational step to building your wealth.

Wealth building simply refers to increasing the net value of your total assets. Wealth building over time is one of the advantages of homeownership.

The calculation of net worth is simple. You calculate it by subtracting the amount of money you owe (liabilities) from the amount of money your possessions are worth (assets.) 

Net Worth = Assets – Liabilities

Brooklyn homeownership can help you build wealth in two ways. 

First, you build equity by paying down your mortgage. 

A percentage of each mortgage payment goes towards a reduction in the total amount owed. Typically, the first few years of mortgage payments apply to interest, not the principal. However, more and more of each payment is applied to the outstanding principal amount as time passes. Before you know it, your $300,000 loan is down to $50,000, and you’ve gained $250,000 in wealth.

The second way to build wealth through Brooklyn homeownership is appreciation. 

Each year, the value of your home will increase or decrease slightly based on market prices. However, over time, real estate has consistently appreciated. 

Home prices rose 18% in 2021, according to CoreLogic’s Home Price Index. Bank of America predicts a 10% appreciation rate through 2022, even with the expected interest rate increases.

Due to the unprecedented real estate market of 2021, home values rose thanks to low housing supply and high buyer demand. Unfortunately, there were not enough homes to meet this high buyer interest,  so bidding wars began driving home prices up. The rising prices mean your home is worth more in today’s market when you own a home. And as home values climb, your equity does too. 

How Rising Equity Impacts You

In addition to building your overall net worth, equity can also help you achieve other goals like buying your next home. It works like this: when you sell your house, the equity you built up comes back to you in the sale.

In a market where you’re gaining so much equity, it may be just what you need to cover a significant portion – if not all – of the down payment on your next home. So, if you’ve been holding off on selling and worried about being priced out of your next home because of today’s home price appreciation, rest assured your equity can help fuel your move.

As the mortgage interest rates begin to climb, buyers will be more eager to purchase now. So if you are considering selling, now is time to take advantage of the lack of inventory available to buyers.

Equity can be a real game-changer if you’re planning to make a move. 

Wealth Building Example

Let’s see a simple demonstration of how advantageous Brooklyn homeownership can be. Assume you bought a home in 2005 for $400,000 and, for simple mathematics, paid nothing for a downpayment. Over the next ten years, your mortgage payments reduce the outstanding mortgage by $100,000 and the home increases in value to $600,000. The value of your home as a net asset has grown to $300,000 [$600,000 minus $300,000 mortgage balance]! You would have missed out on $300,000 in wealth if you had rented during this period. 

Historically, homeownership is one of the best ways for families to build wealth. However, if you don’t currently own a home, you may want to consider purchasing now.

As inflation rises, the link between financial security and homeownership will become especially important.  As Leslie Rouda Smith, President of the National Association of Realtors (NAR), says:

“Homeownership is rewarding in so many ways and can serve as a vital component in achieving financial stability.”

Owning a Home Is a Building Block for Financial Success

Recently NAR conducted a report that details several homeownership trends and statistics. This information includes the difference between the net worth of homeowners and renters. The report stated that the net worth of a homeowner was about $300,000, while the wealth of a renter was about $8,000 in 2021. Therefore, a homeowner’s net worth is roughly 40 times higher than a renter’s. This report shows how owning a home can be a key factor when building your overall net worth.

Is the gap between a homeowner’s net worth and a renter’s surprising to you?

The net worth gap between owners and renters primarily exists because homeowners build equity. As a homeowner, your equity grows as your home appreciates in value and you make your mortgage payments each month.

In other words, when you own your home, you have the benefit of your mortgage payment acting as a contribution to a forced savings account. And when you sell, any equity you’ve built up comes back to you. But, as a renter, you’ll never see a return on the money you pay out in rent every month.

Additionally, homeownership provides you with a fixed monthly payment that will not increase with a fixed-rate mortgage. Renters expect an increase from year to year. Each annual increase affects your available cash for investing or saving.

If you are interested in buying a home, you need to ask yourself a few questions.

How much home can you afford? 

You need to meet with a mortgage lender to obtain a prequalification letter. The lender will review your financial information to determine your maximum mortgage amount. Your lender can explain the different mortgage options.

Where will you find the money?

Mortgages come at a cost. You most likely will need to have accessible cash for some portion of your purchase. Hopefully, you are actively saving for your home purchase. If you own a home, you may be able to tap into the equity to purchase a new home. In addition, some mortgages will allow you to receive gift money from a relative if you do not have adequate savings.

How can you continue to save money after buying?

Your lender will provide you with an amortization table that shows the total cost of the mortgage for the loan duration. It can be shocking to see the amount you will pay over time due to interest. You can cut the cost by paying your mortgage off early. Making additional payments toward your principal will save you on additional interest costs.

A biweekly mortgage instead of monthly can also save you money, Or simply add an extra payment each year, for a total of 13 payments and designate that it is to apply to your principal balance. This tactic could cut your mortgage by several years.

If you are interested in reducing the length of your home mortgage, speak with your lender and financial planner to see what will work best to meet your financial goals.

If you are a first-time homebuyer, you can find some helpful information in this previous blog post.

According to a recent Gallup Poll, real estate remains ranked top in America’s opinion of the best long-term investments since 2013. One significant advantage to Brooklyn homeownership, as opposed to other investment vehicles, is that you also have a place to live. 

Having a trusted real estate professional to help you, whether buying or selling, is crucial in this current real estate climate. In addition, an agent who knows the area and market well can be a valuable asset to your wealth-building team.

Contact me, Charles D’Alessandro, your Brooklyn Real Estate Agent with Fillmore Real Estate. As a Brooklyn real estate agent with over 30 years of experience, I can help buyers and sellers achieve their real estate goals. Reach me by phone at (718) 253-9500 ext. 1901 or by email at [email protected]
Charles D'Allesandro

Real Estate Appraisal: What A Brooklyn Buyer And Seller Need To Know

April 15th, 2022

Home appraiser

The buyer and seller need to know about a real estate appraisal in any home sale.

The buyer will have the real estate appraisal completed as part of their mortgage. The responsibility for paying for the appraisal is part of the buyer’s mortgage costs. Determining value is a key factor in the buyer’s ability to obtain a mortgage.

The seller will need to provide access to their property to complete the appraisal. Most sales agreements with a mortgage contingency will be subject to a real estate appraisal. The appraiser will justify the sales price through their assessment process for the buyer and seller.

The property’s fair market value must come in at or above the sales price. A lender will not loan money for the mortgage without a satisfactory appraisal. The buyer and seller will need to revisit their negotiation if the value is below the sales price.

The Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP) are the standards an appraiser must follow.

What is an appraisal?

Real estate appraisal or property valuation determines the property’s value based on the highest and best use of the real property (which basically translates into determining the property’s fair market value). 

A buyer and seller can request an appraisal for different reasons:

  1. Transfer of ownership of real property.
  2. Establish a basis for the exchange or reorganization for investors.
  3. Provide a mortgage underwriter a value of the security for a mortgage loan.
  4. Estimate value for tax or other legal purposes.
  5. Determine gift or inheritance taxes.
  6. Estimate the value of real property in an estate.

The person who performs this real estate appraisal is the real estate appraiser.

The value as determined by real estate appraisal is the fair market value. 

The real estate appraiser may use various methods to calculate value. However, a systematic approach will determine the fair market value.

  1. The sales comparison approach is commonly used to determine value based on recent sales of comparable properties in the local real estate market.
  2. An alternative method, the cost approach, would estimate the cost of rebuilding, minus an estimate for depreciation, plus the land value.
  3. The income capitalization approach can determine the net earning power the property will support for investment properties.

The appraiser will collect data on the market area, the subject property, and comparable properties. Once assembled, the appraiser must analyze the data collected. Supply and demand is a factor that helps to understand the competitive position of the property in the current market.

The appraiser will calculate the property’s fair market value from this analysis. A written appraisal report will show the methods used to determine the value and the information used in the analysis. Finally, the appraiser certifies that the report will be completed in an unbiased, objective manner.

Timing

There is no need for the seller to have a real estate appraisal completed before putting their home on the market unless there is an extenuating circumstance. The lender is the most interested party in the appraisal more than any other party in the sale. In fact, a lender is not likely to accept an appraisal done outside their network.

The lender will order the appraisal after the buyer applies for their mortgage. The appraiser will schedule a time with the seller to visit and examine the property based on their availability. 

Once they visit the home, the appraiser will begin the preparation of their appraisal report. It may take several days or weeks for the appraiser to deliver the information to the lender.

Sales Contract

One of the indications of value an appraiser considers is the contract between two unrelated parties, the buyer and seller, for the sale and purchase of the home. Thus, a copy of the executed sales agreement will be provided to the appraiser by the mortgage company.

Comparable Sales

In general, when you are selling your primary residence, the person buying it will make it his primary residence, too. However, if the buyer obtains a mortgage, the lender will require an evaluation of similar houses sold in the same neighborhood to prove the fair market value. The appraiser will generally find homes within a ½ mile radius of the subject property that has sold in the past six months. 

A real estate agent may choose to provide sales comps they used to determine the offering price to the appraiser, but the appraiser cannot just automatically use them in their appraisal. As an unbiased party to the sale, they must determine the comparability to the subject property.

What can a seller do to prepare for the appraiser’s visit?

If you’ve let your hair down, get your home back into “show” condition before the appraiser comes.

Everything you know about preparing your home for sale, well-mulched flower beds, minor repairs addressed, lack of fingerprints, lack of clutter, and all the rest apply.

The age of the home and the “effective age” are needed in the Uniform Residential Appraisal Report form under the “General Description.” Therefore, how well your home appears affects the number under “effective age.

The Uniform Appraisal Report requires information about materials (and their condition) used for floors, walls, trim and finishing elements, bathroom floors and wainscots, and interior doors. For this reason, appraisers train themselves to notice these detail. Provide a good impression by dusting, polishing, and eliminating scratches and fingerprints.

The Report also asks about kitchen equipment (refrigerator, range and oven, disposal, dishwasher, fan and hood, microwave, and washer and dryer). Be sure all appliances are clean and operating well.

Amenities such as fireplaces, patios, decks, porches, fences, and sheds will be included in the report. If an appraiser is going to take note of these things, they should be swept, cleaned, and in good condition. Also, clean out the gutters. If it rains on the day of your appraisal, you want your house to handle the rainwater well.

Here is an example of a  “comments” section of an appraisal: “The subject is well maintained, and no physical, functional, or external inadequacies are noted. Marketability is enhanced by hardwood flooring throughout most of the home, an updated kitchen, fresh interior and exterior paint, transom windows, built-ins, a front porch, a rear patio, large storage shed, and 4 fireplaces, etc.” An appraiser will evaluate your home carefully.

The importance of preparing your property before the listing is not only for potential buyers but also for the appraisal process. Be sure to keep your home free of clutter as best you can until the appraiser has visited.

An experienced real estate agent can help you price a property correctly before listing it for sale. They should use a similar method as the appraiser using the sales comparison approach. Understanding the appraisal process should help you understand why real estate agents place so much importance on pricing the house correctly.

Contact me, Charles D’Alessandro, your Brooklyn Real Estate Agent with Fillmore Real Estate. As a Brooklyn real estate agent with over 30 years of experience, I can help you prepare your home for potential buyers and the real estate appraisal. Reach me by phone at (718) 253-9500 ext. 1901 or by email at [email protected]
Charles D'Allesandro

Brooklyn Homeowners Can Make Small Changes To Help The Climate

March 30th, 2022

Brooklyn homeowners can make small changes to hel the climate

Climate change can begin with Brooklyn homeowners making some small changes. You might think that you need to do something grand to affect climate change. But, if made by most people, there are small changes that we would see a marked effect.

At the end of February 2022, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change published a report, “Climate Change 2022: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability.”

In all the ominous findings of the report, one thing that stands out is that it is not too late to do something that will help. The information does note that nearly half the world’s population is vulnerable to the threatening climate impacts. The report recommends that urgent action is needed.

Before discussing the small changes a Brooklyn homeowner can make, let’s define some of the terms we hear when talking about climate change.

Carbon Footprint 

The carbon footprint is the total amount of greenhouse gasses (including carbon dioxide and methane) generated by our actions. To reduce the carbon footprint, you must reduce the use of the top three highest emitters of greenhouse gasses, coal, oil, and natural gas.

Each of us has our own carbon footprint. You can calculate your carbon footprint at The Nature Conservancy: https://www.nature.org/en-us/get-involved/how-to-help/carbon-footprint-calculator/.

Greenhouse Gases 

Greenhouse gases are gases in the earth’s atmosphere that trap heat. They let the sun pass through the atmosphere but prevent the heat from leaving the atmosphere. Greenhouse gases are crucial to keeping the temperatures suitable here on earth.

Renewable Energy

Renewable energy comes from natural processes that continuously replenish. Sources of renewable energy include sunlight, geothermal heat, wind, tides, water, and biomass. Therefore, it cannot be exhausted.

Alternative Energy

Alternative energy refers to energy produced by means other than fossil fuels. Non-traditional and have a low environmental impact. 

Fossil Fuels

Fossil fuels come from fossilized plants and animals that lived millions of years ago. Coal, crude oil, and natural gas are all considered fossil fuels.

These are some of the standard terms used when talking about climate change. With this understanding, let’s look at some of the areas where you can make small changes that can make a difference.

According to the EPA recommendations, changing out the five most used light fixtures or light bulbs and replacing them with Energy Star rated products may save approximately $70 per year on your energy bills. Energy Star lighting generates 75% less heat and uses 75% less energy than standard lighting. In addition, this bright, warm light will last 10 to 50 times longer. 

What are some other areas where small changes will make a difference?

Energy Star products. 

Looking for the Energy Star seal will ensure you purchase the most energy-efficient product. Products include appliances, lighting, heating and cooling equipment, electronics, and office equipment. These products reduce greenhouse gas emissions and save you on your energy bill.

Heating and Cooling Habits. 

Simple steps like changing air filters regularly, properly using a programmable thermostat, and servicing your HVAC equipment regularly can help. 

Insulation and Sealing

You may not eliminate all, but you can reduce the number of air leaks through caulking, weather stripping, and insulation.  Properly insulating your home can save you up to 20% on your heating and cooling bills.

The 3 R’s (Reduce, reuse, recycle)

Find a recycling program to recycle newspapers, beverage containers, paper, and other goods in your area. Composting your food and yard waste reduces the amount of garbage you send to landfills reducing greenhouse gas emissions. 

Water Usage

Because it takes a lot of energy to pump, treat and heat water, conserving will reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Simple actions like not allowing the water to run while brushing your teeth or shaving, checking for leaking toilets and faucets, running your dishwasher only when full, watering lawns, and landscaping can help.

Making some small changes in your Brooklyn home is the best place to start. Here are some simple tips that can help. 

Programmable thermostats

Create new heating and cooling habits with a programmable thermostat in your home. Not only does it help the environment, but you will save money on heating and cooling costs. For example, you can program the thermostat to be lower when you are not at home or asleep in the winter. You can do the same in the summer for air conditioning.

Lightbulbs

Above, we mentioned how changing out only the five most-used lights in your home could make a difference. In addition, the use of bulbs like compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) or light-emitting diodes (LEDs) can help save energy and last longer than traditional light bulbs.

Insulation, Caulking, and Weather Stripping

The practice of sealing the air leaks in your home has been recommended for a long time. Preventing the warm or cold air from escaping your home allows your heating system to maintain the desired room temperature more efficiently.

Appliances

When you need to replace any home appliances, look for Energy Star rated products. Products that meet a high level of energy efficiency receive this designation. 

Reducing Water Usage

Some simple ways to reduce water use in the home are to install aerators on your faucets and low-flow showerheads. In addition, choosing native vegetation for your landscaping can help as these plants generally require less water, fertilizer, and pesticides. Another simple change is to wash your clothes in cold water and air dry whenever possible.

Green Power 

Enrolling in a utility provider that uses green power may be an option in some areas. Check with your utility companies to see if there is an option for clean, sustainable energy for your home.

Solar Energy

Converting sunlight into energy is becoming increasingly available for residential homeowners. Do your research to find the right solar solutions for your home should you desire.

Low VOC Products

VOC stands for volatile organic compounds. They can cause headaches, nausea, and irritation to the respiratory system, skin, and eyes. Cleaning products and paints around your home can contain VOCs. Search for no to low VOC options.

Composting

You can minimize greenhouse gas caused by food waste in landfills by composting food wastes (except meat) in a backyard composting bin.

The advantages of these small changes are not only for our environment, but you will also experience economic and health benefits.

Contact me, Charles D’Alessandro, your Brooklyn Real Estate Agent with Fillmore Real Estate. As a Brooklyn real estate agent with over 30 years of experience, I can help you buy or sell in the Brooklyn real estate market. Reach me by phone at (718) 253-9500 ext. 1901 or by email at [email protected]
Charles D'Allesandro

Curb Appeal Is Important To Get Buyers To Look Inside Your Brooklyn Home

March 15th, 2022

Your Brooklyn Home exterior with curb appeal.

No matter how beautifully decorated the inside of your Brooklyn home may be, if the outside of the house does not reflect what lies behind the front door, you may quickly lose potential buyers. 

As we begin to see signs of spring, it is time to start to pay attention to the outside of our home. 

Homebuyers frequently make a list of homes from various internet sites, advertisement listings, or through a real estate agent, they wish to see. They then drive by these homes to get a ‘feel’ for the property and the house.  Bottom line, if your home looks unappealing from the outside, there is a good possibility the buyer will cross your home off the list of potential purchases.

You will recoup your efforts when you decide to spend time sprucing up the outside of your Brooklyn home. 

Gather Ideas

Consult with a local landscaper to get ideas for the best ways to spruce up the exterior of your Brooklyn home with minimal cost. In some cases, you might be surprised that hiring a landscaper to beautify your yard or modify a portion of it is more affordable than you thought.

Things to consider would be adding greenery, flowering bushes, trimming existing trees and shrubs, pulling weeds, creating planting beds, and mulching. You may simply need to move some plantings or separate overgrown plants to make the yard look better.

When you are selecting new plants, you will need to consider the local growing season and plants that do well in your area. Bob Vila offers his advice on plants that help you sell your home in this article.

If you don’t have the time to do the work yourself, it may be an excellent investment to hire a landscaper to get the job done before your home hits the market. A professional will have access to the materials and the tools needed that you may not have.

Ask neighbors, friends, and family for recommendations. They may know someone who has a smaller operation or just starting that could help you at a lower fee. You may also do part of the work and have a landscaper do the more challenging tasks to save money.

Buyer’s Perspective

Stand at the curb of your property and look at the yard from the potential buyer’s perspective. Then, drive or walk down the street and see how your property compares to the neighbors’ properties. You can make your property shine by creating a well-cared-for look. If your neighbors’ landscaping is so-so, anything you do will make your home look amazing. Plan your landscape to stand out from the rest, and if your budget does not allow for the extras, then the following rule of thumb is just to make the property look neat.

Grass and Patches

When your grass begins to grow, trim the grass. Look for any areas of brown grass or bald spots that may need attention. Invest in a bag of grass seed to plant. Water daily and place a barrier around the area to protect it. 

Fertilizing will make a significant difference in creating a healthy and green lawn. If you do not have grass, you may want to create some grass areas. You may need to consider removing stone and laying some sod or planting seeds. Stone yards will look out of place if neighboring properties have grass lawns. Having a green lawn makes a huge difference in curb appeal. 

A Stager’s trick to consider is spray painting the brown patch if you do not have enough time to plant and grow new grass. You could also create a small container garden if it made sense with the rest of the landscaping.

Planting Beds

Once you have addressed the grass, you can fix up existing planting beds. If you do not have any beds on your property, you may choose to add some in areas that would make sense. Garden beds help soften the hard lines of sidewalks, walkways, and the rigid angle of homes. Begin by weeding the beds. Evaluate whether you need to reshape or connect existing beds for better flow. Consider planting similar plants and flowers to create a cohesive look. Soften any hard angles and create a fluid design. Try to create a gentle flow from one end of the house to the other. You do not need to use a lot of plantings to create a consistent and neat look.

Trees and Shrubs

Existing trees and bushes will also need your attention when creating curb appeal for your Brooklyn home. First, remove any dead branches or trees. Large trees can intimidate a buyer. Not only could it obstruct the view of the home, but fear of it falling and damaging the home is a worry for some buyers. Keep trees that could damage the home trimmed back. Overgrown bushes will also need to be cut or removed. The thought of cleaning out these areas may be overwhelming to many buyers and something they just don’t want to deal with as they are moving into a home. Not only can overgrown bushes affect the appearance of the home, but a safety concern would be the ability of someone to hide behind them who had less than honorable intentions.

Parking

Having cars parked in front of your Brooklyn home is also a concern when it comes to viewing the house from the street. Undoubtedly, you need to park your car somewhere, but if there is an opportunity to park away from the front of the home, it would be a good idea. If on-street parking is your only option, try to have the cars moved when a buyer comes to look at the home. Buyers need to visualize the house as it would be if they lived there and anything which detracts from this thought is a non-plus for you as the seller. Weekends are usually the busiest times for drive-by house viewing. If you can move your car to a neighbor’s driveway or off your driveway for a few hours, do so.  It may make a difference in the curb appeal of your home.

If you have any cars, boats, campers, or trailers parked in front of your home or in the driveway, which you do not need to be there, you should find a place to park them temporarily. If you have an inoperable vehicle, you may find a local charity that would take it as a donation and tow it away for you. You don’t want your property to look more like a car dealership or parking lot than a home.

Backyard Seating

If you have a rear patio or deck, make an outdoor oasis for the buyer to envision themselves relaxing on a summer evening. You can create a dining spot, seating area, or both. Be sure not to draw attention to any unsightly features. If you have a commercial property or have a neighbor who doesn’t maintain their property, try to camouflage the sightline somehow.

Front Porch

Do not forget the front porch! A buyer will spend more time than you realize on the front porch waiting for the real estate agent to open the lockbox to access the key. While they are waiting, they will be looking around. All painted areas should be free of peeling paint and be clean. Porch floors should be free of objects and debris. If you have a large porch, you could create a seating area with chairs, a side table, and an area rug. Don’t forget about the homey touches like potted plants, a throw blanket, and maybe a candle.

Homebuyers rate curb appeal high on their list of positive home features. Creating good curb appeal outside is as essential as staging your home inside. To find more about staging the interior of your Brooklyn home, check out this previous blog post.

Contact me, Charles D’Alessandro, your Brooklyn Real Estate Agent with Fillmore Real Estate. As a Brooklyn real estate agent with over 30 years of experience, I can help you sell your Brooklyn home. Reach me by phone at (718) 253-9500 ext. 1901 or by email at [email protected]

Charles D'Allesandro