Why A New Home is a School Supply Every Year

September 15th, 2016
New home

Buying a new home in a quality school district adds value to your home when it’s time to sell.

Advertisements for back-to-school clothes and supplies usually start appearing in the month of July. Families begin budgeting and planning to spend hundreds of dollars for everything from pencils, paper, crayons, safety scissors and erasers for their kindergartners to bedding, curtains, towels, wash cloths and even appliances for their college students. Some families will even buy a new home to get Junior into a good school or to keep from paying the college dorm costs for Sally. Buying a new home for school is not uncommon practice.

3 Reasons Why a New Home is Listed as a School Supply Each Year

  1. School Quality

The quality of schools in an area remains a crucial factor to parents when they buy a new home. For most parents, education is even more important than the price of a home, the time it takes to commute to and from work and nearby area amenities.

  1. Traditional Suburbs

Traditional suburbs are still the most attractive communities for young families with school-aged kids, like Cold Spring Harbor, on New York’s Long Island, for example. Parents are no longer interested in partying as they may have once been. They now have kids to deal with and take care of.

  1. Resale Value

Homes in areas with attractive school districts hold their value better when it comes time to sell, so there is a great economic reason to buy a home in also.

And This, Too …

Quality schools are often built into the price of homes, but parents are willing to change their lifestyles to compensate for the size of their new mortgage payments. They eat out less and try to pinch their pennies. A top-rated education for their kids is worth the expense of living in an attractive school district to a lot of parents.

Some parents will invest in a small home for their college freshman and rent the extra bedroom(s) out to other college students. This helps pay the monthly mortgage and avoid the high costs of college dorm living for four or more years of college. Then, when Sally earns her degree, her parents can sell the small home for a profit. The Pros and Cons of Buying a House in College talks more about reasons why college students should buy a house in college, if they can afford it.

Did you buy a new home for your kids this year? Maybe you like the idea of purchasing a small home and renting it out to other college students to live with your student(s). With over 30 years of experience in Brooklyn, I can help you find a new home in a quality school district for your young family or your college student. 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.


Fall is in the Air: Prepare for Winter Now

August 30th, 2016
Prepare for winter

Winter is on its way! Prepare for winter now and enjoy those long winter’s naps in comfort.

Summer’s come and almost gone. Fall has arrived, although not officially. That will happen September 22, 2016. The days are getting shorter and the mornings are turning crisp. Winter is on its way! Prepare for winter now and enjoy those long winter’s naps in comfort.

Prepare for winter outside your Brooklyn home

It’s time to wrap up summer’s outdoor lifestyle and prepare hearth and home for the beginning of the long cold spell.

  • Clean, cover and store patio furniture, umbrellas, decorations and toys.
  • Paint the trim, railings and decks or touch them up if that’s all they need. Remove flaking paint with a wire brush and prime bare wood before you paint.
  • Check around windows and doors. Re-caulk if needed.
  • Install weather-stripping and thresholds if external doors and garage doors need it in order to close tightly.
  • Wash windows, inside and out.
  • Drain and store garden hoses. Frost-proof spigots with a faucet insulator and blow the sprinkler system lines free of water.
  • Power wash gutters and downspouts. Consider installing heating cable to prevent ice dams.
  • Inspect and clean chimneys and flues.
  • Repair your roof. Check your roof for curling, loose or missing shingles.
  • Prepare your deck for winter. Sand splinters, repair damaged boards and reseal to protect it from rain and/or snowfall.
  • Switch out your screen doors for a storm door. Clean and repair screens prior to storing.

Prepare for winter inside your Brooklyn home

Fall means it is time for the “second spring cleaning.” It makes good sense to clean and store all things summer before you retreat to the warmth inside your Brooklyn home. Besides, the holidays are coming (and you may decide it’s time to sell after the winter thaw).

  • Start with the rooms where most of the household activity happens. Focus on one room and clean it from top to bottom. Vacuum or wash curtains and window treatments. Clean window sills and window wells. Vacuum and wipe down baseboards and corners.
  • Vacuum upholstered furniture, or clean it professionally. Move each piece of furniture and vacuum underneath and behind each piece. Don’t forget to vacuum underneath the couch and chair cushions!
  • If you haven’t already washed the windows inside and out as mentioned above, now’s the time for that chore.
  • Turn mattresses front-to-back and end-to-end to even out their wear and tear.
  • Wash or clean all bedding: mattress pads, pillows, duvets, blankets, comforters.
  • Make an appointment to have your carpets cleaned professionally. Do this early in September so that the remaining warm afternoons can help the carpet dry speedily. Carpet cleaners tend to get busy by the end of October.
  • Clean and organize kitchen cabinets.
  • Clear kitchen counters of all appliances. Store heavy appliances down low.
  • Vacuum refrigerator condenser coils of dust and debris. While the refrigerator is pulled out from the wall, clean the sides of the refrigerator, the sides of the cupboards on each side of it, the wall behind it and of course, the floor and baseboards.
  • Wash light fixture bowls from light fixtures and fans. Clean ceiling fans. Change the direction of your ceiling fans. In the spring and summer, your blades work best turning counter-clockwise. In the fall and winter, the blades work best turning clockwise.
  • Clean and store floor fans and box fans.
  • Stock up on water softener salt.
  • Do you have a central vacuum? Empty the collection area.
  • Clean electronic air cleaner elements. This should be done monthly for cost-effective efficiency.
  • Inspect your humidifier. Clean or replace elements before it is needed.
  • Inspect washer hoses for bulges, cracks, splits and a collection of “crud.” They should be replaced every other year.
  • Check dryer exhaust tube and vent for lint build-up and debris to eliminate a fire hazard in your home. Does the exterior vent door close tightly when the dryer isn’t being used?
  • Schedule furnace inspections now. Schedule an annual checkup for your furnace in the fall, September 22 – December 21. Don’t wait for frigid temperatures to arrive!
  • Buy six furnace filters and change them monthly for maximum efficiency, savings and comfort.
  • Drain the sediment from your hot water heater.

Prepare for winter or the sale of your Brooklyn home now. Contact Charles D’Alessandro, your Brooklyn real estate agent with Fillmore Real Estate at (718) 253-9700 ext. 206 or email [email protected] for a FREE consultation on how to get your home ready for what’s coming.


This Year’s Top 10 Senior Housing Trends for Baby Boomers

August 15th, 2016
Baby boomers

Baby Boomers are a force to be reckoned with! Retirement today is nothing like our grandmother’s retirement of yesterday.

Baby Boomers are shaping and changing the way seniors live – everywhere. We know what we want, and how we want to retire. Because we have our own unique ideas about retirement, the senior living industry is rapidly changing to meet up to our expectations and preferences. Baby Boomers are a force to be reckoned with! Retirement today is nothing like our grandmother’s retirement of yesterday.

Here are the top 10 housing trends for seniors thanks to us, the Baby Boomer Generation.

  1. Technology Today

Technology has made the aging process less challenging for us. Wearable devices that automatically alert caregivers, large-screen cell phones and remotes and more have given us high-quality care options like never before. For example, caregivers now have geo-fencing options to keep those with Alzheimer’s and dementia safe. What took them so long? Ingenious, right?

  1. Aging in Place and In-Home Care

Aging in place is a trend we Baby Boomers find attractive. Many of us want to live in our own homes for as long as we are able. The senior living industry and technology have made in-home care both affordable and viable. This will allow us to age in place for as long as possible.

Senior Planning Services is a tri-state area Medicaid planning firm. It cited a recent AARP study estimating that almost 90 percent of Baby Boomers who are over 65 years of age want the option to live in their home for as long as they able.

  1. Senior Care Providers

Our generation is giving senior providers increased impact as we hit our Golden Years because there are so many of us. Physicians, hospitals, insurance companies and other organizations in the health care system are working together to create comprehensive care that will meet the needs of seniors today.

  1. Person-Centered Care

What is person-centered care? Person-centered care is treating an aging senior as an individual instead of treating them for the abilities they no longer have. This isn’t a new trend, but it is gaining ground. Person-centered care from nursing homes, doctors, and other health care organizations are assuring people that they will be cared for with dignity and as a whole person.

  1. Life Plan Communities

Life plan communities are based on living in the moment. They encourage young Baby Boomers to live a full and active life right now while we are healthy, helping us get the most out of every moment for as long as we can.

  1. Memory Care Units and Reminiscent Therapy

Memory care units are embracing the theory behind reminiscence therapy. They stimulate sight, sound, smell and touch. Doing this creates communities that help many seniors retrieve long-term memories reminiscent of the world in which they grew up.

  1. Senior Co-Housing

Single-family dwelling, reduced costs and a sense of companionship are offered to Baby Boomers in senior co-housing. Here seniors share responsibilities and access to communal caregivers. The caregivers assist seniors with daily tasks. This is ideal for seniors who need the support of institutionalized living balanced with remaining at home.

  1. Embracing the Green Movement

Many assisted living facilities are going green to entice earth-conscious Baby Boomers, cut heating and cooling costs, conserve water and meet Energy Star standards.

  1. Location of Senior Living Communities

Senior living facilities are looking for ways to engage seniors with senior-friendly activities for Baby Boomers who are just starting to retire. They are learning to look for area amenities that will make a retirement destination great.

  1. Independent Living for Baby Boomers Instead of Assisted Living

We know that we can live comfortably on our own for a long time now. More and more senior living facilities are designing their facilities to provide independent living and celebrate independence. Those of us who are under 80 years old, who wish to live independently and without assistance find this trend quite appealing.

Developers and providers are creating environments around what we Baby Boomers want and need. They are considering where we want to live and where we need to live. They know they need to enhance senior living environments in a rapidly shifting market, because we won’t settle for anything less!

Follow today’s housing trends for Baby Boomers. Contact Charles D’Alessandro, your Brooklyn real estate agent with Fillmore Real Estate at (718) 253-9700 ext. 206 or email [email protected] for a FREE consultation today. We have so many senior housing options available to us, Baby Boomers.

This article originally appeared on RISMedia.com.


Don’t Make These 5 Mistakes When Selling Your Home

July 30th, 2016
Selling your home

Don’t make selling your home harder than it needs to be. Avoid making these 5 seller mistakes.

Selling your home can be difficult, but it doesn’t have to be.

There’s a lot to do before it goes on the market. There are questions to be asked, emotions to detach and many things to be aware of simply because you are selling. It can be overwhelming and daunting to say the least.

Don’t make the selling process harder than it needs to be. Start your home-selling process with your best foot forward and avoid making these 5 mistakes:

1. Don’t FSBO (For Sale By Owner) when selling your home

In 10 reasons why for-sale-by-owners fail, data from a National Association of Realtors survey on FSBOs is shared. It shows that less than 10 percent of all home sales are FSBOs. Less than 10 percent! You may feel you have the skills necessary to sell your home. You may want to avoid paying agent commission fees. But when only 8 percent of all home sales are FSBOs, it proves that going it alone is a mistake.

2. Don’t skip properly preparing your home for sale

If your home isn’t properly prepared or staged, it’ll be tough to sell.

  • Remove hard-to-clean odors when selling your home. If your home smells like smoke or you own a pet(s), invest in professional cleaning services.
  • Declutter your home. When selling your home, it should always be show-ready. Remove photos and knick-knacks. Clear countertops and downsize the contents in your closets. Yes, even the toaster should be put away.
  • Boost your home’s curb appeal. If your home doesn’t look good on the outside, it will be hard to get potential buyers to come inside.
  • Make improvements to your home, but don’t go overboard. Don’t think a home improvement expense is going to add dollar-for-dollar value to the home. A home maintenance expense adding a dollar value of any size to a home at all isn’t a for-sure thing.

3. Don’t stick around during a home tour

If you’re hesitant to hold a showing or refuse to leave as potential buyers tour your home, your chances for buyers making offers on it greatly diminishes. Potential buyers want to imagine themselves living there. Just looking at photos or trying to get a feel for the home with you lurking in the background will minimize the number of offers given, if you even receive any.

4. Don’t share too much on social media

Venting about the home-selling process and sharing incorrect listing information on social media is a big mistake. Keep things to yourself or between you and your real estate agent.

5. Don’t overprice your home

Overpricing your home and refusing to compromise is the biggest seller mistake. If you think your house is worth more than the market suggests or that a low commission will save you money, constantly turn down offers thinking a better offer will come eventually. You could end up with a home you don’t want.

Be smart about the offers that come to the table.

Don’t make selling your home tougher than it needs to be. Work with your real estate agent and avoid these seller mistakes to get your home sold. Call Charles D’Alessandro, your Brooklyn real estate agent with Fillmore Real Estate at (718) 253-9700 ext. 206 or email [email protected]. Put his 30+ years of excellent real estate experience to work for you today.


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.