Selling Your Brooklyn Home During The Winter

December 1st, 2020
Brooklyn Bridge in winter.

Some people may advise you that selling your Brooklyn home during the winter is a bad idea. Sometimes you just need to get the house on the market for various reasons regardless of the season. There isn’t a wrong time to sell a home if you do all the necessary steps to prepare for the sale. 

Houses sell at all times of the year. If you are considering putting your home on the market, I will encourage you to do so. You may be surprised to hear me say that. Let me explain why I would encourage you to consider selling your Brooklyn home during the winter.

Reasons to sell your Brooklyn home during the winter:

  • Competition – The competition from other sellers during the winter is lower because so many believe it is hard to sell a house in the cold winter months.
  • Searches Increase – internet searches are known to increase during the winter. Most home buyers start their searches online.
  • Transient Society – Our society has become more mobile with people continually moving for many reasons.
  • Relocations – Many people who are relocating for their job do not always have a lot of time deciding and getting their family moved. They do not get to select the time of year they make that move either. 
  • Year-End Bonuses – Many people find themselves working from home and now feel their home is just too small. Before 2020, many people invested their year-end bonus in a larger home. This year we may see significant interest in using that year-end bonus to gain the desired space they have found necessary.
  • Serious Buyers – Looking for a home in the colder weather is not for the faint of heart. Although we have seen many serious buyers during the warmer months, we still see some who aren’t quite sure if they want to purchase a home. Buyers who are willing to come out to view a home during the winter are serious about buying.

Preparing your home for sale is essential despite the time of year you choose to list your home. Check out this previous blog post for tips on preparing your home for sale.

Additional suggestions for selling your Brooklyn home during the winter:

  • Curb Appeal – Do not forget about the exterior of your home in the winter. If you have not attended to your landscaping after summer, be sure to take some time now to spruce things up. Pay particular attention to the area that the buyers will be entering the home. While the agent is opening the lockbox, the buyers will be looking and notice any apparent defects.
  • Clear Snow And Ice – Whether you are selling your home or not, it is essential to keep your sidewalks and steps clear of snow and ice for your safety and the safety of others. When selling your home, it is necessary to pay as much attention to the backyard as the front yard. Buyers will want to check out the backyard also.
  • Create A Cozy Atmosphere – When it is cold outside, having the home as cozy and warm as possible will create a welcoming feeling the buyers will remember. Keep the home toasty and play some soft music. Taking the extra effort to make your buyers feel at home may create a good return on your dollar when that awaited offer comes in.
  • Hire a Reputable Agent – You must find the right agent to work for you when selling your Brooklyn home during the holiday and winter months. Any agent can sell a house when the demand is high. It takes an experienced, well-versed agent to guide you when the market is slower.

There is no reason to postpone putting your home on the market due to the holidays if you need to get your home sold quickly. As mentioned above, buyers who look in the winter are more serious about purchasing. That also applies to buyers who are looking throughout the holidays. The buyers may be taking some vacation time during the holidays and decide to do some home searching during their time off.

Tips for selling your home during the holidays:

  • Decorating – You may wonder if you should put up your decorations when selling your Brooklyn home during the holidays. Homes do look beautiful during the holiday season. You will still want to celebrate with your family. You can decorate for the holidays while selling your home. Just don’t go overboard. A tastefully decorated home will appeal to everyone. Some outdoor decorating can make up for the lack of curb appeal due to winter weather.
  • Eliminate Stress – That is a tall order during the uncertainty we find ourselves in this year. Try to give yourself a break and simplify your holiday celebrations while also trying to sell your home.
  • Be Flexible – It isn’t always possible, but try to keep your schedule as open as you can. You do not want to turn away buyers who wish to see your home. Remember that buyers who want to look this time of year are usually more serious about purchasing. If they are out of town, relocating buyers, it may be the only time they can look at your home.

Facing challenges to selling your home can happen at any time of the year. Knowing the market status in your area when you list your home will prevent you from frustration. Your real estate agent will be able to give you an idea of what to expect, so you are not surprised. Having an agent who studies the trends, knows the local market, and updates you will be the most valuable tool you have. 

Some challenges to selling your home during the winter:

  • More Negotiation – During the winter, we see fewer multiple offer situations. If the buyer is not competing with another offer for your property, they may feel they have some room to negotiate. A misguided buyer may think that you are desperate to sell your home because you have it on the market in the winter months and come in with a lowball offer. Try not to be offended if you receive a low offer. Remember they are showing interest in your home. Engage in negotiation with them.
  • Financing And Closing Delays – If a company is closing for a period during the holidays or closings due to inclement weather occurrences, there could be a delay in processing the mortgage or preparing the closing documentation.
  • Curb Appeal – There is no doubt that the spring and summer create a beautiful curb appeal for your home. In the winter, beautiful flowers and lush shrubbery can not be seen. If you have pictures of your home in its prime summer glory, make them available to your agent and potential buyers.
  • Lighting – Not only does the darkness set in earlier than in the summer, but winter days can also be dreary. Check the lighting throughout your home. Take care and effort to be sure each room is illuminated appropriately. Turn on all the lights inside and out (depending on the time of day of the showing) before leaving home for a showing.
  • Snow Boots – Tracking in the snow is a problem during winter showings. Create a spot that will make it easy for the buyers and their agents to remove the snowy or wet shoes before touring your home. If possible, provide a space to sit that will make it a bit more comfortable.

You can achieve an appealing atmosphere with the right staging efforts. Spend some time creating a welcoming environment when buyers are touring your home during the winter.

Ways to set the stage:

  • Scents – The scent of fresh-baked cookies is hard to beat. You can get some slice and bake cookies from the grocery store to bake right before showings. Due to the current Covid status, it is not recommended that you leave treats out for the buyers. But, you can certainly enjoy those fresh-baked treats when you get home.
  • Comfort – What is better than coming home to a warm fire? Although I do not advise leaving a wood-burning fireplace unattended, if you have a self-contained gas fireplace, you may want to set the scene by turning on the fireplace for your visitors. Cozy throw blankets strategically placed will create an inviting setting. Turn the thermostat up, so all areas of the home are warm.
  • Lights – As mentioned, turning on the lights before you leave will not only help make your interior look its best; it will also create a welcoming appearance from the exterior.
  • Gutters – Before putting your home on the market, take the time to clean your gutters. A clogged gutter can cause a water or ice issue that may cause uncertainty for some buyers.

Winter 2020 – 2021 brings some new guidelines to the real estate industry due to Covid-19. Please be aware of the protocols when selling your Brooklyn home. Be sure to discuss this important topic with your real estate agent. The state and board of Realtors® have set guidelines to protect all parties.  Real estate agents, homeowners, and potential buyers have a responsibility to adhere to these guidelines.

Showing guidelines during Covid:

  • Homeowners or occupants of a property can not be present during a showing.
  • All showings should be scheduled in advance by appointment only and allow space between to disinfect.
  • All parties are required to wear face coverings.
  • Maintain a 6-foot distance between individuals.
  • Buyers should only touch necessary surfaces such as handrails. 
  • Showing agents should disinfect high-touch surfaces as they leave each room.
  • Real estate brokers or homeowners should limit showings to one party at a time. 
  • Buyers are encouraged not to bring children or additional people to look at the home.
  • Remote walkthroughs are encouraged whenever possible.
  • Real estate agents should open windows during a showing to improve air circulation.
Number 1 on brick wall

The Number One Tip

Following the above advice is essential when selling your Brooklyn home during the winter. The most crucial, not to be overlooked advice I can provide is to price your home correctly

Helping you establish the right price for your home is where an experienced agent is most valuable. Many considerations go into pricing a home for the current market. 

Although the change of seasons may mean you have fewer buyers, it does not necessarily mean you will get a lower price. 

Your agent should be providing you with comparable sales for the neighborhood to determine the asking price. Pay attention to these comparables. The buyer will be looking at these numbers as well.

Factors that can affect the price of your home are:

  • Previous sales – Real estate agents, home buyers, and appraisers all look at past sales to establish a home’s price.
  • Neighborhood – The neighborhood location of the home will affect the sales price of the house. School systems, crime rates, and previous sales all factor into the desirability of the neighborhood.
  • Market – Being in a buyer’s market or a seller’s market also affects a home’s pricing. Knowing when the shift is occurring is tricky.
  • Condition – The condition of your home is a factor in the pricing. Preparing the house for sale and making the necessary repairs will improve the home’s condition before listing.
  • Size – The size of your home can also affect price and desirability. 

Don’t make the mistake of overpricing to test the market. Statistically, a seller who overprices their home on the initial listing ends up selling the property for less than if they would have listed it at the right price for the current market.

There are pros and cons to selling your Brooklyn home in the winter. It is possible to list and sell your home during these colder months successfully. I know because I have helped many sellers over the years do just that!

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 maneuver the winter real estate market successfully.

In the event our office is shut down, we are always committed to your safety during the COVID-19 health crisis in compliance with the State of New York public health policies. I can be reached by phone at (718) 253-9500 ext. 1901 or by email at [email protected]

Charles D'Alessandro

Charles D’Alessandro
Your Brooklyn Real Estate Agent
718-253-9600 ext. 1901


Is Your Brooklyn Home Not Selling?

November 15th, 2020
Price reduced For Sale Sign

Selling your Brooklyn home can be a stressful time in the best of circumstances. But what happens if your home doesn’t sell as quickly as you had hoped? 

My highest recommendation is to maintain an open line of communication with your real estate agent. Ask questions if you have them. Don’t make assumptions and blame without verification. Your real estate agent is on your team.

Many factors affect the sale of a home. Some factors are in your control, some are in the control of others, and some are not in control of anyone involved in the transaction. 

Your responsibilities to consummate a successful sale of your Brooklyn home are items that you most likely can do something about.

Here are some factors in your control:

Price

The pricing of your home is one of the most important steps in the home selling process. It is a common misconception that you can ask for a higher price for your Brooklyn home and negotiate lower. This strategy frequently backfires, and the final sales price will be less than if the home were listed at the appropriate price.  A savvy real estate agent will find the most recent sales in your area for homes that compare to yours and guide you to a price that is substantiated by those comparable homes. A real estate appraiser will be looking at this information when it comes time for the appraisal. If there are negative factors about your home that you can not change, adjusting your price may be the only option.

Condition

As a seller, you will want to be sure that your home is in the best condition you can afford to present it in. If your home is equipped with the best the 70s had to offer, it may take more time to find the right buyer. If you have deferred maintenance that should be completed, do everything you can to get it ready for the market.

Preparation

Any repairs and preparation should occur before entering the home into the MLS. Preparing your Brooklyn home to sparkle and shine during the showings is always important even in a hot market. You may be wondering why. The buyer will form impressions from the moment they walk in the door. If they feel there are too many repairs or the home has not been well maintained, they will move on to the next home. Here is a link to a previous post that will help you prepare your home.

Limited Showing Availability

Preparing a home for showings can become monotonous if your Brooklyn home is on the market for a period of time. It takes a lot of effort to make sure everything is clean and show worthy. Getting the family and pets out the door can also become a chore. I’m sure there are days you just don’t feel like doing it. But, you never know when THE buyer is going to walk through the door. Understandably, there may be a time when it is not possible to allow for showings. You need to be as flexible as you can to allow the buyers access to your home. If they can’t see it, they won’t buy it. If necessary, ask your agent if it would be possible to request a few hours notice to show. That will give you time to prepare but won’t give the buyer too much time to find another house before they look at yours.

Odors

As the commercial says, we often become nose blind to the smells in our own home. There are many causes of odors that can turn off potential buyers. Pets, cooking, dampness, and mildew can all be factors that affect the smells in your Brooklyn home. Bring in a friend or relative who has a more sensitive nose than yours to do a walk through and point out any potential issues. It is important to eliminate the source of the odor and not just mask it with air fresheners.

Cluttered home office

Clutter

Clutter is a big problem and should be addressed in your preparation process. Yes, you still have to live in your home, but you have to give the buyer a feeling that there is enough space in the home. Closets are an area where clutter can turn a buyer off. When your closet is jam-packed full of clothing and accessories, you should remove the excess. Removing your clutter has a psychological effect, allowing the buyer to envision their belongings in the space.

Motivation

Your motivation as the seller will determine the trajectory of the sale. If you are listing your home for sale to “test” the market, you may not be open to any negotiation. This type of seller has a tendency to overprice their home. An unwillingness to cooperate with the buyer will make the completion of the sale very difficult.

Your responsibilities have a great contribution to the timing of your sale. Rely on your real estate agent to guide you through these steps. We sometimes put greater value on our own possessions than a potential buyer will. That is why it is so important to get the opinion of a professional who studies and understands the Brooklyn real estate market.

Let’s take a look at factors that someone other than you can control:

Marketing

Your real estate agent will be responsible for the marketing of your Brooklyn home. When interviewing real estate agents, you want to ask about their marketing plan. One of the least successful marketing plans is the three Ps:

  • Put a sign in the yard
  • Put it in the multi-list
  • Pray it sells

A good marketing plan will cover pricing, promotion, analysis of the competition, tracking, and timing adjustments if needed. Ask your real estate agent for their marketing plan before signing the listing agreement. Check out this blog post on marketing a Brooklyn home.

Photographing a room

Photos

Photos should be part of the marketing plan, but it is so important I wanted to mention it separately. First impressions of your home will come from the photos that potential buyers look at online. Most buyers start their Brooklyn home search online before they ever contact a real estate agent. Good quality photos make all the difference. These photos do not have to be done by a professional photographer, but they should be done with good equipment to provide clear, wide-angle shots of the rooms. Not having enough pictures is also a problem. There is a limit of photos an agent can add to the multi-list, but the agent should use all available. Some websites outside the MLS will also allow additional photos to be added. 

Unrealistic Buyers

There are always buyers who want to purchase a home in mint condition at bargain prices. Some buyers do not want to move into the home and make repairs, whether large or small. They will make a low-ball offer based on their feeling of what will need to be done in the home to meet their needs. Sometimes after the home inspections, they will ask for unreasonable amounts of repairs or a large credit.

Inspections

Many buyers are not educated that the home inspection aims to uncover any major ticket items or safety issues. These items are not always known by the seller. If the buyer has cold feet, they may decide to terminate their offer at this stage. Having a pre-inspection by a licensed home inspector is a good way to eliminate any surprises.

Appraisal

As mentioned in the Pricing obstacle, the appraiser uses information on homes that have recently sold in the area compared to your home to determine value. It is often hard to counter a low appraisal. If the buyer is financing through an FHA or VA mortgage, that low appraisal could remain with the property for several months.

 Lender

The lender’s approval of the mortgage can also become an obstacle. A pre-approval letter from a reputable lender is usually a confirmation that the buyer will not have any issues. On rare occasions, the buyer may go out and purchase a large ticket item before the approval of their loan that may change the amount they can borrow. A job loss, relocation, or other buyer’s employment changes have occurred, disqualifying the buyer for their mortgage.

Some factors are not within the control of the seller. Hiring an experienced, professional real estate agent can help you work through issues that may arise with the sale of your Brooklyn home. Coming up with innovative ideas to overcome an obstacle comes with experience.

The last category of factors is not within the control of anyone involved in the transaction. They include:

Location

The location of your home is a big factor in getting a home sold. However, short of picking up the house and moving it, you can not change the property’s location. Whether the location is good, bad, or indifferent is usually defined by each buyer based on their ideal. If your location is an issue, you will need to price accordingly.

Timing

Most markets experience busy seasons and less busy seasons of the sale cycle. If you happen to put your home on the market during a slow season, it may take longer to get your Brooklyn home under contract. That isn’t to say it will be impossible to sell. If fewer homes are coming on the market at that time, your competition will be lower. Buyers enter the market at many different times of the year for many different reasons. Selling during a slower sales season may work out well for you.

Market

The economy, the available inventory, and the interest rates all play a part in the local market. If we learned anything in 2020, things can change quickly. Keeping up on trends and predictions is an important part of a real estate agent’s business practice. But even then, the agent may not be able to predict what is going to happen with the market.

There are so many factors that can affect the sale of your Brooklyn home. A top-notch agent will be able to keep all the moving parts working to the same conclusion, a closing. As I mentioned earlier, it is important to interview the real estate agents you work with before signing the listing agreement.

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 manage the moving parts for both buyers and sellers.

In the event, our office is shut down, we are always committed to your safety during the COVID-19 health crisis in compliance with the State of New York public health policies. I can be reached by phone at (718) 253-9500 ext. 1901 or by email at [email protected].


It Takes a Village To Buy or Sell in the Brooklyn Real Estate Market!

October 30th, 2020
Couple Holding keys to their new home

Buying or Selling a home in the Brooklyn Real Estate market can be a complicated process. Truly it takes a village of people for the purpose of completing just one home sale.

Wikipedia explains the phrase “It takes a village to raise a child” as an African proverb. It means an entire community of people must interact with children to experience and grow in a safe and healthy environment.

The phrase “It Takes a Village” has been adapted over the years for other references. In fact, it is a great explanation of what the home buying and selling experience is like in the Brooklyn Real Estate Market.

How many different parties do you think are involved in one real estate transaction? You may find it surprising. Let’s take a look.

SELLER

First, you need to find someone ready to sell their home. We often hear the term “Motivated Seller.” What would make a homeowner a “motivated seller?” Motivation to sell a home can come for many reasons.

When a buyer hears the seller is motivated, it may trigger many thoughts.
  • There is room to negotiate the price.
  • The owner may be open to making concessions to consummate the sale.
  • There are material defects to the home or property that the seller doesn’t want to address.
  • The home is near foreclosure.
  • The seller is ready to take the home off the market and wants to see any offer.
  • The seller is in a financial bind.
  • The owner MUST sell now.

Determination, not desperation, may be what motivates a seller.

There are many reasons a seller would want to sell a property that is not related to the desperation thinking above.
  • Job relocation
  • Downsizing
  • Upsizing
  • Retiring to a new location
  • Divorce
  • Settle an estate

Knowing the seller’s motivation would be an advantage in negotiations. However, you may or may not understand the seller’s reason for selling when you place your offer. 

BUYER

Next, you need someone qualified and ready to purchase a new home. Obtaining a pre-approval from a reputable lending institution makes you a qualified buyer. They also have proven they have the necessary funds and qualifications to buy a home in the Brooklyn Real Estate Market. The reasons someone may be interested in purchasing a home vary as much as the reasons a seller would want to sell.

Some reasons to purchase may be:
  • Achievement of “The American Dream”
  • Sound investment
  • Build equity
  • Potential tax benefits

The buyer’s motivation is as important as the seller’s motivation. An apathetic buyer can take a home off the market for some time and then decide to terminate the sale. Your real estate agent can help you vet the buyer’s motivation. Unfortunately, you would need to have a crystal ball to definitely know what will happen.

LENDER

In hopes of financing the home, the buyer will choose a financial institution for their mortgage. Surprisingly, the lowest interest rate is not always the best option. You may want to compare several lenders.

Obtaining an estimate of the lender’s fees can be eye-opening. Some things you will want to compare are:

  • Interest rates
  • Lender fees
  • Cash required to bring to closing

By all means, it is essential to find a reputable lender who is knowledgeable in lending in your area. Out of state or internet mortgage companies may not know the intricacies of a home purchase in the Brooklyn Real Estate market.

The lender should do a thorough analysis of the buyer’s financial situation to determine if they qualify for a mortgage. The buyer should offer evidence of their qualifications when they make an offer on the property.

There is a difference between a pre-qualification and a pre-approval. A pre-qualification provides the buyer with a general estimate of what they can afford. A pre-approval is more valuable because the buyer’s credit has been checked, and documentation has been verified to approve the buyer for a specific loan amount. A pre-approval can be valid for 60-90 days and should be re-verified to confirm no buyer’s status changes.

REAL ESTATE AGENTS

Typically you will find two real estate agents involved in any Brooklyn Real Estate sale. The first agent works on behalf of the seller, helping them prepare their home and price it competitively. The second agent represents the buyer and helps evaluate an offering price and terms once the right home has been found.

The real estate agents work together, bringing the buyer and seller to an agreement on the best terms possible.

You will want to find a trustworthy agent to represent you in either a sale or purchase.

What are the qualities of a trustworthy agent?
  • Local Market Expert
  • Proactive
  • Knowledgeable
  • Good Communicator
  • Educated

Your real estate agent should hold the designation of Realtor®, which means they belong to the National Association of Realtors® and their local Board of Realtors®. Notably, a member of these associations must follow guidelines to ensure they are fair and ethical in their business practices.

Home Inspection Checkmark

HOME INSPECTORS

A critical component of the buying process is the home inspection. The purpose of the home inspection is to determine if there are any major ticket items or safety issues affecting the home. In reality, these are items that the seller may not have been aware of. Nitpicking the seller for trivial issues or updates that were visible upon your visit to the home is not the purpose of a home inspection.

The home inspector will usually look at the following areas of the home:
  • Exterior structure
  • Roof
  • HVAC System
  • Hot Water Heater
  • Electric Panel
  • Outlets
  • Windows
  • Plumbing in kitchen and baths
  • Attic

Be sure to check the credentials of the home inspector you choose. There are certifications required for home inspectors in the Brooklyn Real Estate market.

The home inspector will highlight areas of concern. You will also learn from the inspector the home components that may need to be replaced in the future. With this information in hand, you can make an informed decision about whether this is the right investment for you.

LAWYER

You will most likely need to hire an attorney to represent you either as a buyer or a seller when purchasing in the Brooklyn Real Estate market.

What is the lawyer’s role in a real estate transaction?
  • Write and negotiate the sales agreement.
  • Represent their client’s best interest.
  • Review closing documents.
  • Attend the closing to ensure a smooth transition.

For more information on the importance of real estate lawyers, see this previous blog post that explains it all in detail.

TITLE COMPANY

The title company researches the history of homeownership to determine the buyer receives a clean title to the property when they take possession of the home. In the event that they find any issues on the chain of title, they will resolve them before closing.

They will also research any judgments, liens, outstanding mortgages, or unpaid taxes on the property.

The title company will then prepare a report (abstract of title), revealing all the research findings. This document will validate the title of the property.

Title insurance is issued to protect the lender and new owner against any lawsuits or claims undetected on the original title search. The lender will require a title insurance policy.

If you are a cash buyer, it would be your decision to purchase title insurance. Although, if you are purchasing a home with cash it is highly recommended that you purchase the title insurance policy.

APPRAISER

An appraiser will visit the home to prepare an opinion of value for the lender. Do not confuse the appraisal with a home inspection but, the appraiser may note any safety issues that are apparent to them. Requirements for an appraiser and a home inspector are different. An appraisal is not a substitute for a home inspection.

An appraiser will prepare a report called an appraisal that will provide their opinion of value based on several factors.
  • Location
  • Structural Construction
  • Age
  • Bedrooms
  • Bathrooms
  • Condition
  • Square Footage
  • Recent Neighborhood Home Sales

Providing a fair and unbiased assessment of the property can be accomplished by randomly assigning appraiser through a third party.

The cost of the appraisal is an expense the buyer will pay. This is a requirement of the buyer’s lender.

In the event that the home does not appraise for the amount of the sales price, it can trigger a negotiation between the buyer and the seller. If both parties come to an agreement acceptable to the lender, the sale will be completed.

UNDERWRITER

The underwriter works for the lender. Their role is to review the buyer’s information and the appraiser’s opinion of value to determine if the mortgage can be issued for the purchase price agreed upon. The underwriter will evaluate that granting the mortgage to the buyer is a sound investment for the lender.

An underwriter will look at several different areas to determine any risk of the buyer defaulting.
  • Credit and payment history
  • Income and assets of the buyer
  • Downpayment
  • Appraised home value

The underwriter may need to request additional information to clarify any uncertainties that arise to be sure lending the money to the buyer is a solid investment for the bank/lender.

The last hurdle in the process of buying or selling a home is clearing underwriting. The type of loan, buyer’s financial situation, title issues, survey issues, and missing paperwork will all affect the time the underwriter will need to complete the process.

Once they have completed their review, the Underwriter will issue the loan a “Clear to Close” status!

TEAMWORK

Real Estate Team

Buying or selling a home in the Brooklyn Real Estate market involves many parties and this doesn’t include assistants and others within these companies who help. It really does take a village to pull all the pieces of buying or selling a home together.

That is why it is so important to hire the right Realtor® to work for you, whether you are buying or selling a home. Coordinating all these parties takes a thorough understanding of the sale process and experience in the local market.

Charles D'Alessandro

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 both buyers and sellers coordinate all the details.

In the event our office is shut down we are always committed to your safety during the COVID-19 health crisis in compliance with the State of New York public health policies. I can be reached by phone at (718) 253-9500 ext. 1901 or by email at [email protected].


How To Prepare Your Brooklyn Home For Fall 2020

October 15th, 2020

Fall has arrived and it is time to prepare your Brooklyn home before winter comes. It seems it was just the beginning of summer, and then I blinked, and we are talking about preparing for winter.

Front steps of Brooklyn home decorated for fall.

An essential part of homeownership is the proper maintenance of your home. Many of the items I see that turn up on home inspections are merely delayed maintenance. I often hear the homeowner remark how they wish they would have done it sooner so that they could enjoy the repairs also.

Proper preparation can save you potential problems later. You have heard the saying, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” That means taking the time to get things done before they become a problem will save you from the expense and frustration if you must make repairs.

Home maintenance may not be the most exciting way to spend a weekend, but it will be time well invested. Preventative maintenance can save you the unpleasantness of dealing with an emergency and will help prolong the life of the components of your home.

Create a plan, purchase any supplies you will need, and get to work!

There are areas inside and outside your Brooklyn home that will need your attention. Let’s look at some critical areas requiring attention before the cold weather sets in.

You will want to pay attention to the exterior of your home before the temperatures plummet. Completing the exterior work now will save you from freezing when something becomes an issue during the cold winter.

  • Gutters – Watching the leaves change color and fall from the trees is a favorite Fall activity. However, if those leaves fall into your gutter, you will want to be sure to remove them and clean your gutters. Sticks and other debris can also settle in your gutters and lead to blockages. Potential water damage inside and outside your home can result from such blockages. When your gutters are clogged, the water has no way to be diverted away from your house. The result can be rotten wood on the roof or facia. Rodents, insects, and birds can make a home in the leaves and cause havoc for you. If the water is not being diverted away from your home, it can damage your foundation.
  • Roof  – Along with proper gutter maintenance, you need to be sure your roof is ready for the winter weather. Take a good look at the roof shingles to ensure there are no missing or damaged ones. Clear all debris from the roof. Check the flashing to be sure it is not loose or needs to be repaired. As part of the roof maintenance, you also want to check your attic to ensure proper insulation and ventilation. The attic can affect the longevity of your roof. This is one area that you may want to spend the money to hire a professional to avoid the dangers of climbing out on your roof.
  • Outside Faucets and Irrigation Systems – Turn off the water source to your outdoor faucets and sinks. Open the tap and allow the water to drain out of the lines. Outdoor sinks may need an extra step of adding an antifreeze solution. Winterizing your sprinkler system is a more complicated process. It would be wise to hire a professional to maintain your sprinkler system.
  • Walkways – Take a good look at sidewalks and stairs to your home. Are there any cracks or loose areas that could cause a tripping hazard? It is essential to keep these areas clear of snow and ice during the winter months for your safety and others safety. Be sure to make any repairs now before the snow starts falling.
  • Outdoor Furniture – Proper care of your outdoor furniture will extend the life of your purchase. If you have storage space indoors, it is better to move the outdoor furniture inside during the harsh winter months. Cover the furniture with special covers or tarps if you cannot get the furniture indoors. Check throughout the winter that the coverings have not come loose or blown off.
  • Landscaping – Your exterior plants also need attention in preparation for winter. Remove any annual plants that are at the end of their life. Prune other plants as recommended to keep things looking tidy and preventing any unnecessary damage to the plant. Remove any weeds now and fertilize the soil if needed. Divide any perennials that need attention. If necessary, do one final cutting of the lawn. And when finished, clean and store your gardening tools, so they are ready for spring when you are anxious to get back in that garden.
  • Spring Bulbs – You may want to plant spring flower bulbs. If so, be sure to plant before the ground freezes. Getting them in the ground to allow them to establish their roots is important. The extra time spent planting your bulbs will provide you with joy in the spring as you start to see them sprouting. We all look for these signs of life emerging in the spring.
  • Leaves and Debris – Raking leaves is not quite as romantic as portrayed in the movies. Especially after you have performed this task several times throughout the Fall. It is vital to do a final clean up after all the leaves have fallen. Leaves that coat sidewalks and driveways can become a hazard and a haven for insects and unwanted critters. Also, check for other debris that should be cleared throughout the winter.
  • Lighting – Clean the fixtures to make sure that the light can illuminate the outdoors. Replace any burned-out bulbs. Consider replacing your bulbs with LED lightbulbs that are more energy efficient. Check the wiring to be sure there are no exposed or fraying wires. Adjust the lighting fixtures if needed. Time and elements can cause lighting fixtures to become misaligned. This ounce of prevention will keep your home safer, enhance its beauty at night, and keep intruders and vandals away.

Some projects will need to be addressed both inside and outside of your home. Focus on the exterior tasks first, but do not forget to take care of the indoor aspect later.

  • Seal Openings – Finding the gaps, cracks, and openings that allow air to penetrate your home and sealing them will save you the discomfort of drafts. It will also save you money on your heating expenses. Examine areas where different material types meet. A common area is around windows. Also, pay attention to areas where plumbing and wiring enter your home. On the interior, pay attention to areas where water is used. Concentrate on areas where the tub/shower meets the surround, where the sink meets the counter, and where the counter meets the backsplash. Check all doors and windows to be sure the weather stripping is not dry and brittle. Replace any caulking and weatherstripping as necessary.
  • Fireplace – The ambiance of a fire during a cold winter evening creates a cozy atmosphere. To make that relaxing and enjoyable experience, be sure to maintain your fireplace regularly. Whether you have a wood-burning or a gas fireplace, regular maintenance is required. Chimney maintenance may be necessary if you have a wood-burning fireplace or a gas fireplace that is vented through your chimney. Be sure the chimney has a cap to prevent debris and critters from entering. Check for cracks. Hire a chimney sweep to clean your chimney as recommended. Your interior maintenance is dependent on whether you have a wood-burning fireplace or a gas fireplace. Gas fireplaces need to be cleaned and checked periodically.
  • Storage Areas – Storage spaces can quickly become dumping grounds for the items we are not sure whether to keep or give away. Before storing away your summer items, take some time to clean the storage spaces inside and outside your home. Clear the area first and sort things into one of three different categories. The three types are keep, donate or discard, and repair. Next, clean the space. Now you can start placing items back into the area that you have decided to keep. Quickly handle the donate, discard, and repair items so they do not clutter your home.

Turn your attention to the inside of your Brooklyn home after the exterior items are completed. Addressing the interior will help you to maintain a comfortable and safe environment.

  • Furnace – The furnace is the most essential appliance in your home during our long Brooklyn winters. Make sure your furnace is running in tip-top shape before you are dependent on it for the full-blown heating season. Many homeowners choose a do-it-yourself approach. Be sure to refer to your owner’s manuals for the right way if you decide to DIY it. Hire a licensed professional to clean and check your furnace. Be sure to change the filters as needed throughout the heating season.
  • Smoke and CO Detectors – Smoke detectors and Carbon Monoxide detectors are known to save lives. Add any necessary devices throughout your home. Recommended areas include sleeping areas, common hallways, and living areas and should be installed on every level of your home. Be sure to test your alarms monthly. You can find a tip sheet on the New York City Fire Department website.
  • Ceiling Fans – Why do so many of us procrastinate cleaning those ceiling fan blades until we turn them off as the weather cools down? Your ceiling fan should be running in a clockwise direction to help pull the warm air from the ceiling down in the winter. Using a pillowcase to clean the blades is a genius idea. Simply slip the pillowcase over the fan blade and gently wipe it off. The dust remains in the pillowcase! Use a dust-repelling furniture spray to help prevent build-up. Clean the motor housing, light bulbs, and glass globes as well.
  • Thermostat – Consider installing a programable thermostat if you do not already have one. You will save money because you are not heating your home when you are not there or sleeping in the winter months. Recommendations are to lower the heat by 10 degrees when you are not home or are asleep. Program your thermostat to lower the temperature 20 – 30 minutes before you regularly leave home or 60 minutes before you go to bed. Set the thermostat to increase the temperature 30 minutes before you return home or wake up, and you will enjoy a comfortable home.
  • Entry – Create a spot by your front door and any other access your family uses to enter the home for shoes. This will save your floors from tracking the mud, water, snow, and ice our shoes bring in with us. Adding a drip tray to the entry can prevent you from cleaning floors quite as often. You can purchase a drip tray in many home stores. Add a decorative touch to your entryway by filling the drip tray with pebbles or stones to prevent the shoes and boots from sitting in the wet slush.

And lastly, there are a few items that will provide you with peace of mind. These are items that we often overlook but are well worth the investment of your time.

  • Pantry – We have learned to expect the unexpected. Take time to organize your pantry and restock non-perishable items you may need throughout the winter. Keep your frequently used staple items on hand. Consider stocking canned and dried beans, canned vegetables, canned or jar sauces, broth, rice, pasta, dehydrated fruits or vegetables, flour, sugar, shortening, canned meats, and condiments. Avoiding a trip to the store when an impending storm is announced will be a welcome relief. Remember to stock items such as matches or lighters, candles, flashlights, and batteries.
  • Medicine and First Aid Supplies – Unfortunately, we rarely get a warning when we are going to need first aid items or catch a common illness. Check your supply of bandages, ice packs, pain relievers, cold medicine, throat lozenges, vitamins, and supplements. After you have completed your inventory, restock the missing or low items. Do not forget to stock for your children’s and pets’ needs also.
  • Fire Escape Plan – A fire escape plan is also an important step. If you have not created a plan for your household, take some time to examine your home’s layout. Determine if you need to purchase any equipment such as fire escape ladders. Be sure all members of your household are oriented to this plan.

Bonus Tip

Don’t forget to prepare your car for the winter months. Regular maintenance of your vehicle is a given. You will need to stock your vehicle for unexpected winter weather. Create an emergency kit to keep in your car. Include flashlights, blanket, hand warmers, water, snacks, shovel, cat litter or sand, tool kit, jumper cables, and an extra set of clothing. Hopefully, you never need to use these items. It is always wise to be prepared.

I am sure this seems like a lot to add to your “to-do” list. You will find it to be time well spent in the long run. Regular maintenance around your home will help to keep everything running smoothly.

If you do not feel you have the expertise to address some of these items, professionals can certainly help you with these tasks. Do your research before hiring any professional. Ask friends or coworkers for references to someone they can recommend who has done satisfactory work for them. You can find some great advice on the Better Business Bureau’s website concerning hiring a contractor.

Plan your winter activities after your “to do” list is complete. You will enjoy the fruits of your labor by having the time for the things you “want” to do with friends and family. Enjoy your Brooklyn home this winter!

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 both buyers and sellers achieve their real estate dreams.

Our office is completely shut down and committed to your safety during the COVID-19 health crisis in compliance with the State of New York public health policies. I can be reached by phone at (718) 253-9500 ext. 1901 or by email at [email protected].

Charles D'Alessandro

Charles D’Alessandro
Your Brooklyn Real Estate Agent
718-253-9600 ext. 1901


How to Know You’ve Found the Perfect House for Sure

September 30th, 2020

Think you’ve found the perfect house to buy? But how do you know for sure it’s the perfect one?

Brooklyn Brownstone
How do you know you’ve found the perfect house? Ask the right questions.

Purchasing a home is one of life’s biggest undertakings. And there are lots of questions you need to ask before you make an offer on a home. Asking the right questions lets you know for sure you’re making a competitive offer on an affordable home that meets your needs long-term.

15 Questions to Ask About the Perfect House You’ve Found

Knowing the right questions to ask before making a competitive offer on a home with confidence takes research, good research. And according to bankrate.com, these are the fifteen questions you must ask and research the answers to.

1. What’s my total budget?

One common mistake homebuyers make is buying more house than they can afford. And this goes beyond budgeting for a monthly mortgage payment. There are property taxes, homeowners insurance, homeowners association dues, home maintenance and repair costs, and the cost of renovations to consider in addition to the price of a home.

Also, if you want your offer on the perfect house you’ve found to be accepted, get preapproved for a mortgage. This does three important things:

  • Gives you an idea of what you can afford
  • Shows the seller you have the financial means to buy their house
  • Assures the real estate agent that you are a qualified buyer and that you’re not wasting the seller’s time

2. Is the home in a flood zone or prone to other natural disasters?

If you’ve found the perfect home that’s in a flood zone or other natural disaster area, additional insurance coverage may be required. A property that’s in a flood zone or other natural disaster area may require additional insurance coverage. Homes located in federally-designated, high-risk flood zones require flood insurance. You can research whether or not a property is in a high-risk flood zone using FEMA’s Flood Map Service.

3. Why is the seller leaving?

Knowing the answer to this question could help you gauge how flexible or not the seller is. If they are downsizing, relocating for a job or because a major life event occurred for them, they may be highly motivated to sell and very willing to negotiate. A seller who needs to move quickly is much more willing to negotiate than one who isn’t in a hurry to move.

4. What’s included in the sale?

Modern kitchen

Cabinets, faucets, and window treatments, such as blinds and curtains, ceiling fans – anything that’s considered a fixture is typically included when purchasing a house. However, this depends on your state’s laws. Don’t assume that there are items included with the home. They just might not be. Listing descriptions are supposed to list exclusions the seller isn’t including in the sale. But since that’s not always the case, you should ask in your offer what is and isn’t included with the home, (like the washer and dryer or that stainless-steel refrigerator, for example).

5. Were there any additions or major renovations?

When you know a home’s major repair and renovation history, you can understand the seller’s asking price and even gauge its true condition. In some cases, sellers have a file available full of everything that has anything to do with the house. But in most other cases, this just isn’t so.

Sometimes property records and listing descriptions don’t always match up. For example, if a home is advertised as having four bedrooms, but one of those rooms is a non-conforming addition that doesn’t follow local building codes, it isn’t really a four-bedroom home.

  • Ask about major repairs or renovations the seller has done since owning the home
  • Request the original manufacturer warranties on any appliances or systems if those have been replaced

6. How old is the roof?

Roofs are necessary and expensive. If you must replace the roof of the perfect house you’ve found soon after you purchase it, you’ll spend thousands of dollars. Avoid this costly scenario. Ask about the roof’s age.

Also, if the roof has existing damage, your lender may require that it be repaired in order to approve your loan. Ask the question and check it out.

7. How old are the appliances and major systems?

Here’s where you ask about essential systems and appliances such as the air conditioner, furnace, water heater, washer, dryer, and stove. When you understand the anticipated lifespan of the essential systems and appliances, you can anticipate major repair or replacement expenses.

Have they already reached the end of their lifespan? Then ask the seller to purchase a home warranty. In certain instances, this can help cover the replacement costs.

8. How long has the house been on the market?

The amount of flexibility to negotiate a deal is reflected in the length of time a house has been on the market. The longer it’s been on the market, the more motivated the seller will be to make a deal. By asking this one question, you might be able to negotiate the price, contingencies, terms, and even credits to replace old carpet or other noticeable issues.

Brooklyn neighborhood

9. How much have homes sold for in the neighborhood?

Research the current local market. This helps you determine whether or not the seller’s asking price is too high or right on target. Listing data for similar homes on the market now or sold within that past six months give you a great basis for comparison. This in turn helps you gain confidence in negotiating the price of the perfect house you’ve found or asking the seller to pay for some of the closing costs. Your real estate agent can pull the comparable listing data for you.

10. Are there any health or safety hazards?

Health of safety hazards? I bet you hadn’t thought about asking this question. Am I right? This question is asking about things such as lead paint, radon, mold, or other major hazards. These health or safety hazards can be costly to fix. And they can stall your loan approval.

If there have been past issues,

  • Ask the seller to provide documentation
  • Find out exactly what was done to resolve those problems

This is an important question to ask because you might need to pay more for these types of specialized services If a home inspector suggests additional testing.

11. What’s the history of past insurance claims?

Bankrate.com recommends you get a copy of a Comprehensive Loss Underwriting Exchange, or C.L.U.E., report from the seller. A C.L.U.E. report allows you to see if there have been any homeowners insurance claims filed in the last seven years. It gives an insight into what, if any, damage the home has been through due to weather or vandalism. A home inspection doesn’t usually catch these kinds of damages to a home. And sellers might fail to mention them.

12. What are the neighbors like?

Yes, get to know the neighbors before you make an offer on the perfect house. To get the true feel of the neighborhood, ask the seller:

What are the neighbors like? Are they noisy or quiet?

Is it a pet-friendly neighborhood?

Are the existing neighbors friendly or do they keep to themselves?

Take a drive around the neighborhood and stop and talk with neighbors. They’re an excellent way to get to know about the community surrounding the perfect house you’ve found.

13. How is the neighborhood?

Brooklyn neighbors

Unlike a house, a neighborhood can’t be changed or fixed if you don’t like something about it. So it’s important that you like its community amenities, crime statistics, school ratings, and the amount of traffic there is on the street where you’ll be living.

Research the neighborhood’s schools, homeowners association rules (if applicable), nearby parks and other amenities online. And research the amount of time your commute to work will take.

14. Are there any problems with the house?

A disclosure form listing any known defects must be provided by a seller. Those defects you don’t know about could mean major issues for you later. This is why a home inspection is critical! As soon as a purchase agreement is signed, hire a professional home inspector and get a home inspection done.

A home’s overall condition is outlined in the inspection report. You can then negotiate future concessions for repairs or back out of a deal without penalty providing you included a home inspection contingency. And when this happens, your earnest money will be returned in most cases.

15. How much will I pay in closing costs?

And finally, research and ask about what is included in the closing costs, because the down payment isn’t the only money you’ll be paying someone on closing day. You are also responsible for closing costs.

You should expect to pay 2 to 5 percent of the home’s purchase price in closing costs. But depending on your area, this percentage can vary.

Closing costs include:

  • Loan origination fees
  • Third-party fees for title research
  • Fees for processing the paperwork
  • Appraisal fees
  • Administrative task fees

Lenders are required to provide you as a buyer the closing disclosure three business days before closing. It outlines all your loan fees and how much total cash you need to close.

And Now You’re a Homeowner!

Yes, when you think you’ve found the perfect house, you’ll know it because you asked the right questions and made an offer with confidence. You’ll sign the closing documents, pay the closing costs and fees on closing day, and move into the home you love!

Contact me, Charles D’Alessandroyour Brooklyn Real Estate Agent with Fillmore Real Estate. I help buyers find the home of their dreams and guide them in their research during these challenging times.

Our office is completely shut down and committed to your safety during the COVID-19 health crisis in compliance with the State of New York public health policies. I can be reached by phone at (718) 253-9600 ext. 1901 or by email at [email protected].


Charles D'Alessandro

Charles D’Alessandro
Your Brooklyn Real Estate Agent
718-253-9600 ext. 1901


How to Ensure Your Home is Appraised for Maximum Value

September 15th, 2020

Are you refinancing your home? If you are, the lender will require an appraisal. Also, did you know an appraised value difference of even a couple thousand dollars can make or break your loan approval? So what steps can you take to ensure your home is appraised for maximum value without getting denied for a loan? Here are a few tips to help know what to expect from a home appraisal and make sure your home comes out on top.

Appraised for maximum value
Getting your Brooklyn home appraised for maximum value is important when you’re refinancing.

What is an Appraisal?

Opendoor.com defines a home appraisal as “the process by which a licensed appraiser conducts a thorough inspection of a property to assess its true worth (which isn’t always the same as the listing price). The appraiser will then compile all of their findings into a report and generate the home’s appraised value.

Make Sure Your Home is Appraised for Maximum Value

Most appraisers perform inspections by:

  • Comparing sales of houses in your neighborhood
  • Determining a sales price per square foot
  • Applying that sales price per square foot to the square footage of your home

The appraisal should equal or exceed the amount you request for your loan in order for the lender to approve it. When home values in your area fall, refinancing becomes more difficult, especially when you have only a small amount of equity in your home.

And since an experienced appraiser has inspected thousands of homes, it’s quite easy for them to assess your home’s amenities quickly. An interior inspection can take about 30 minutes or less. And that’s not a lot of time in a home nor is it much time to make a good first impression.

The appraiser typically drives giving the outside of the house a cursory inspection. They don’t ask to see the inside unless something looks questionable. So it’s a good idea to request a walk-through appraisal from the lender. A walk-through inspection gives you the opportunity to point out the upgrades or improvements made to your home that comparable homes in your neighborhood don’t have.

When an appraiser determines the worth of your home, they take a lot into account. Some of the factors they must take into account can’t be helped, like your home’s location, for example. But there are things you as a homeowner can do to make certain your home is appraised for maximum value. So it’s recommended that you prepare in advance of the appraiser’s visit.

1. Prepare a Packet

Appraisal documentation

Prepare a packet of information to hand the appraiser as they hurry out your door after they inspect your home. Include the basics about your home and anything that helps back up your refinance offer.

Some upgrades that can improve a home’s value include upgraded countertops and flooring, extensive trim carpentry or built-ins, and energy-efficienct upgrades to appliances, windows and insulation.


Fact sheet about your home:

  • Address
  • Year your home was built
  • Square footage
  • Number of bedrooms and bathrooms
  • Size of the lot

List of recent sales:

The appraiser has access to recent home sales. But there’s always a chance they may miss something. Make a list of:

  • Any for-sale-by-owner homes
  • Homes sold to a relative
  • Owners who sold quickly to move out of town

List of improvements and upgrades you’ve made to your home:

  • List improvements and their dates
  • Include contact information each contractor who worked on each improvement

2. Fix What’s Broken

The appraiser assigns an “effective age” based on your home’s condition and how well you’ve maintained it. For example, fix the following (and then some):

  • Cracked windows
  • Thread-bare carpet
  • Missing tiles in the shower
  • Torn vinyl flooring
  • Damaged doors
  • Cracked or mildewed caulk
  • Hairline cracks in drywall
  • Peeling or flaky paint, inside and outside your home
  • Evidence of water damage that has been repaired

You want the effective age assigned to your home to be low. A higher effective age results in lower value. So, make repairs to anything that ages your home in the eyes of the appraiser!

3. Clean Whatever Needs Cleaning

Most appraisers say a clean or dirty home bears nothing on its value. But if a clean home adds to the appearance of a well-maintained home, affects the appraiser’s overall opinion of your home, and makes a better impression, what harm can a good cleaning do? Play it safe and clean up the following really well:

  • Overgrown landscaping
  • Carpet stains
  • Marks on walls
  • Clutter, inside and outside
  • Loose and rotten boards on your fence

Will Your Home Be Appraised for Maximum Value?

Getting your home appraised for maximum value without getting denied for a loan to refinance is possible with some preparatory work. Some things impact your home’s value more than others do. But remember, the inspection process varies by appraiser. And everything you can do to ensure your home is appraised for maximum value and streamline the appraisal process is worth the effort when refinancing your home.

Contact me, Charles D’Alessandroyour Brooklyn Real Estate Agent with Fillmore Real Estate. As a Brooklyn real estate agent and broker with over 30 years of experience, I can help you prepare your home to sell even during these challenging times.

Our office is completely shut down and committed to your safety during the COVID-19 health crisis in compliance with the State of New York public health policies. I can be reached by phone at (718) 253-9600 ext. 1901 or by email at [email protected].


Charles D'Alessandro

Charles D’Alessandro
Your Brooklyn Real Estate Agent
718-253-9600 ext. 1901


How to Take Care of Your Moth Problem in 5 Ways

August 30th, 2020
Clothes moth problem
Take care of your moth problem in these five ways.

I don’t know about you, but the first thing that comes to mind when you say “moth problem” is not an algebraic equation. It’s that nasty smell of mothballs. Yes? But what options do you as a homeowner have when clothes moths find their way into your stored items and munch holes in them?

This is an important question at this time of year. Fall is just around the corner. And we’ll be storing our summer wardrobes to don our fall sweaters and leather jackets. Will you find holes in your winter woolens? Is there a way to prevent holes from being munched into your comforters and down pillows? Yes!

Clothes moths are notorious for eating holes in more than clothes fibers. What they munch on includes hair, felt, and fur as well.

Getting to Know Your Moth Problem

If you’ve got one, your moth problem comes in the form of two types of clothes moths:

  • Webbing clothes moths – a solid pale colored moth with a patch of hair on its head.

Because this type of clothes moth does not fly well, it is commonly found in dark closets and storage areas.

  • Casemaking clothes moths – a bit darker than the webbing moth with dark spots on its wings

Don’t mistake clothes moths with Indian meal moths though. Indian meal moths eat herbs, nuts, flour, and other stored foods and are usually found in your pantry. And they are larger and darker in color than clothes moths and have dark brown tipped wings.     

Clothes moths are about 5 cm (1.9685 in) in size. Because they avoid the light, they are rarely seen. Female clothes moths run or hop to get around. So if you see a clothes moth flying around, it’s most likely a male.

Life Cycle of a Clothes Moth

Moth-eaten clothes

clothes moths do not feed. And most of them don’t live any longer than a month or so. This means they aren’t the pests eating holes in your stored items. It’s their larvae!

The adult clothes moth lays their eggs in the fibers stored in dark places. And when those eggs hatch, they become fabric-eating larvae.

The larvae feed on your belongings from several weeks to a couple of years, depending on environmental factors such as temperature, humidity, and even the quality of your belongings.

Once full grown, they spin a silk casing and transform into an adult moth. And when they break out of their silk casing, they immediately begin laying eggs as an adult moth. Yes, more larvae, more destruction to your belongings.

5 Ways to Take Care of Your Moth Problem

So whether you’re preparing to sell your home and storing items until you move or just putting away this season’s items, preventing a moth problem is important.

Protect your materials and take care of your moth problem. Here’s how:

1. Inspect your stuff

If you want to control your clothes moth infestation, it’s recommended that you hire a licensed pest management professional to do the job. They can facilitate the process and locate the sources of your infestation.

2. Store your stuff

Clothing and fabrics should be packed tightly in a container that is well sealed, no gaps. 

3. Dispose of or dry clean your stuff

Everything that is infested should be thrown away or dry cleaned.

4. Vacuum and clean your stuff

Vacuuming and cleaning helps remove and kill larvae already present in your home. So keep a clean home, of course, and pay close attention to the quiet, dark closets and cubbies that moths prefer.

5. Brush off and expose your stuff

Tackling a clothes moth problem includes periodically brushing off and exposing materials to sunlight.

Fall Maintenance or Preparing to Sell Your Home

Whether you are preparing to sell your home or getting ready for fall, taking proper care of your stored items is important. No one wants a clothes moth problem! And no one wants to throw away ruined belongings. Apply these five tips and save yourself a lot of money next year.

Contact me, Charles D’Alessandroyour Brooklyn Real Estate Agent with Fillmore Real Estate. As a Brooklyn real estate agent and broker with over 30 years of experience, I can help you prepare your home to sell even during these challenging times.

Our office is completely shut down and committed to your safety during the COVID-19 health crisis in compliance with the State of New York public health policies. I can be reached by phone at (718) 253-9600 ext. 1901 or by email at [email protected].


Charles D'Alessandro

Charles D’Alessandro
Your Brooklyn Real Estate Agent
718-253-9600 ext. 1901


The Best Checklist to Prepare Your Home to Sell

August 15th, 2020
Prepare your home to sell
It’s simple to prepare your home to sell.
Start here.

Yes! You decided to sell your home and hired the best real estate agent in Brooklyn. You’re off to a fantastic start. Now it’s time to prepare your home to sell. But what does that mean exactly? Your agent, of course, can guide you through the process of selling your home, but here’s a great checklist to get you started.

12-Step Checklist to Prepare Your Home to Sell

It’s time to roll up your sleeves and get to work. If you think selling a home is as simple as planting a “For Sale” sign in your yard and uploading a few photos from your iPhone, think again. There’s a lot more to it but only if you want it to sell for the best price.

Use this checklist and a little bit of elbow grease to prepare your home to sell:

1. Hire the Best Real Estate Agent in Brooklyn

Check this one off. You’ve got it covered. But let’s talk about why working with a great real estate agent is such a great idea when selling a home.

Selling your home yourself, and pocketing the cash you would otherwise pay a real estate agent is appealing to many, especially when the market is hot. But a “for sale by owner” almost always leads to sacrificing both your money and your time. So resist the temptation and hire a real estate agent.

When you work with an agent who is knowledgeable about your specific market, and you’re comfortable working with them, you can trust them to sell your house for top dollar. And you’ll save yourself a lot of headache and time, too.

2. Make a Good First Impression

Take good care of every potential buyer’s first impression of your home with updated curb appeal. When your curb appeal is great, they’ll want to see more.

Most curb appeal efforts are relatively simple to do. But if you’re not sure what you should do, ask your real estate agent for advice.

3. Do a Clean Sweep

When it comes to preparing your home to show, less is more. And that simply means decluttering all flat surfaces. After doing a clean sweep of the visible areas, declutter your closets, drawers, and cupboards. Remember, curious buyers open closets, drawers, and cupboards when they walk through a home. Nothing is off limits.

Also,a decluttered house is appealing allowing potential buyers to see its roominess. So trash, donate, gift, and pack up your stuff to prepare your home to sell.

4. Remove “You” From Your Space

This ties in with decluttering in Step 3. Buyers need to be able to visualize themselves and their family living in the property and loving it, too. So remove your personal items, family photos, even some artwork and furniture that may not appeal to the general public.

5. Go Neutral

Play it safe. If you haven’t already gone neutral on the walls in your home, start painting. Neutral colors are safe. Bright or bold colors are bound to be somebody’s least favorite and will turn away  interest in your home.  

Besides, lighter colors allow potential buyers to imagine what colors they would enjoy having on the walls when they’re living in the home.

6. Scrub Scuff Marks

This step should be done before your house goes on the market and requires a bit of elbow grease. If you don’t need to paint your walls, at least scrub off any scuff marks you see. And touch up those that won’t scrub off.

When potential buyers tour your home, they want to see a house that is in good repair and move-in ready. They don’t want to see a long list of repairs that need to be done before they can fall in love with the house.

7. Avoid Negativity

Loose handles, missing lightbulbs or lightbulbs that need to be replaced, have a negative effect on buyers. Such disrepair causes doubt in a potential buyer’s mind about the home you’re selling. Fix the “little things” to let them know that your house will make them a great home.

8. Stage a Welcoming Environment

Green plants create a welcoming environment that impress buyers upon entering your home. And that’s a good thing! Beautiful flowers or a bowl of fruit on the kitchen counter or dining room table add a warm, homey touch.

9. Eliminate Smelly Deal Breakers

Unpleasant odors, no matter how foul, even the slightest ones, are deal breakers. And some of them you may not even notice.

To help with that, invite someone over to try to detect any bad odors for you. You may grow accustomed to pet smells or odors from last night’s dinner. But an unbiased nose can help you determine whether or not deep cleaning is in order.

10. Keep Everything Clean and Tidy

Cleaning house

You want your property to look spotless. So, after you’ve cleaned your home, clean some more.

Imagine how your staged home would look in professional photos. That’s how you want your home looking, at its very best. Keep everything clean and tidy always, every time you leave it, looking its best for buyers coming to take a tour.

You never know when a buyer will schedule a last-minute tour. Always be prepared. Clean, clean, and clean some more.

11. Play it Safe

Hide your valuables, from art to jewelry. Lock them up, store them off-site, or at the very least, keep out of sight.

12. Invigorate with Staging

Nothing invigorates a house like staging it well. If your home furnishings or appliances scream 1980’s, seek help from a professional stager. Like a bold, orange wall, an out-dated home will not appeal to most potential buyers, no matter how nostalgic you are. 

A stager evaluates your home and your belongings. Then they determine and recommend what you must do to raise the bar. You might need to buy or rent some major pieces or purchase some baskets to stage an open shelf. Organizing your cleaning products on a laundry room closet shelf does wonders for your laundry space.

Trust your home stager. They know the real estate market and what sells. It’s their job to make your home appealing and interesting to potential buyers. 

Preparing to Sell is Simple

When you prepare your home to sell, the goal is to make potential buyers feel at home. With this checklist in hand, work through Steps 1 through 12 and impress lots of interested buyers.

Contact me, Charles D’Alessandroyour Brooklyn Real Estate Agent with Fillmore Real Estate. As a Brooklyn real estate agent and broker with over 30 years of experience, I can help you prepare your home to sell even during these challenging times.

Our office is completely shut down and committed to your safety during the COVID-19 health crisis in compliance with the State of New York public health policies. I can be reached by phone at (718) 253-9600 ext. 1901 or by email at [email protected].


Charles D'Alessandro

Charles D’Alessandro
Your Brooklyn Real Estate Agent
718-253-9600 ext. 1901


How to Boost Your Property’s Curb Appeal to the Best it Can Be

July 30th, 2020

COVID-19 and social distancing has changed the way we shop for homes. According to Realtor.com, homebuyers find the ability to take a virtual tour of a home helpful. And that means boosting your property’s curb appeal is a high-priority item on your to-do list.

Property's curb appeal
Your property’s curb appeal creates a make-or-break first impression in only eight seconds.

Why Your Property’s Curb Appeal is Important

Your property’s curb appeal is more important than ever now. And you have only eight seconds to beckon a second look or turn them off completely from the moment they lay eyes on your home.

Because of the coronavirus, homebuyers research and shop for houses online even more than they have in the past. They’re looking for plenty of high-quality photos of listings. They want to see a home’s interior and exterior and lots of both. They’re placing a lot more weight on photos of the exterior since they are limited to fewer in-person tours.

By the way, this makes walkthroughs of your property via video chat with an agent or thorough pre-recorded video available with your listing a great idea, too.

6 Ways to Make Homebuyers Eager to See What’s Inside Your Home

Investing in your property‘s curb appeal helps it sell faster and for more money, just as staging your home does. And you don’t need to spend thousands of dollars to create a great first impression either. Here are six of the best upgrades you can do for $100 or less:

1. Pay Attention to Your Driveway and/or Walkways

Your driveway and/or walkway lead the buyer’s eye toward your home’s front door and to the inside of your home.

  • Get rid of weeds
  • Patch minor cracks in the concrete with caulk
  • Hose down the driveway and/or walkway before photos, video, or in-person tours
  • Finish your concrete driveway and/or walkway with a clear, glossy sealer

2. Fix Up the Garage

The garage plays a big role in your property’s curb appeal, especially when it’s attached to your home.

  • Paint the garage doors the same color as your home’s trim
  • Add a garage door with a row of windows or swap out existing panels and add glass inserts
  • Stage the inside of your garage

3. Paint the Front Door

Front door curb appeal

Peeling paint, rusty hardware, and scuff marks are a big turn off, especially on the front door. But a fresh coat of paint immediately adds life to your home and catches the attention of onlookers. Show homebuyers that your house is loved and cared for.

  • Paint the front door with eye-catching color, such as red, yellow, or blue
  • Replace old hardware with updated doorknobs and hinges
  • Add a door with glass inserts to create a welcoming feeling

4. Keep Your Yard Green and Groomed

Your lawn, if you have one, is one of the first things a homebuyer sees when shopping online. And landscaping that is well-groomed creates a great first impression.

  • Mow the grass
  • Water the grass to keep it green
  • Prune shrubs
  • Weed flower beds and add fresh mulch

5. Turn On the Charm with Exterior Lighting

Create a warm, unified ambiance with nighttime lighting for your home. 

  • Add 60-watt LED bulbs with a warm tone to each side of your front door
  • Make sure all exterior lighting matches, on the house and on the garage

6. Make Your Front Porch More Welcoming

Give your property’s curb appeal a boost beyond just the front door. Replace your outdoor accents for an even greater first impression.

  • Add an attractive doormat
  • Replace your house numbers
  • Buy a new mailbox
  • Plant colorful annuals in pots and place them around your front porch
  • Clean windows
  • Sweep cobwebs

Look at Your Home From the Homebuyer’s Point of View

As more buyers shop for homes from a distance, paying close attention to the exterior of your listing is key. Look at your home through the eyes of the prospective homebuyer and provide plenty of great photos.

Remember, your property’s curb appeal has eight seconds to create a great first impression. Make it great, and they’ll eagerly walk through the rest of your home online.

Contact me, Charles D’Alessandroyour Brooklyn Real Estate Agent with Fillmore Real Estate. With over 30 plus years as a Brooklyn real estate agent and broker, I can help you navigate the selling process even during these challenging times.

Our office is completely shut down and committed to your safety during the COVID-19 health crisis in compliance with the State of New York public health policies. I can be reached by phone at (718) 253-9600 ext. 1901 or by email at [email protected].


Charles D'Alessandro

Charles D’Alessandro
Your Brooklyn Real Estate Agent
718-253-9600 ext. 1901


10 Easy Steps to Follow When You Decide to Sell Your Home

July 15th, 2020

Selling a home isn’t something we typically do very often. So when the time comes, and for whatever reason, you decide to sell your home, you may not know where to start. Here are ten easy steps to follow when you do make that decision to put your home up for sale.

Decide to sell your home
Follow these 10 steps when you decide to sell your home.

Our present circumstances call for better planning and preparation a little more than usual. But this checklist will help guide you in the planning and preparation from beginning to “SOLD.”

When You Decide to Sell Your Home, Hire a Real Estate Agent Right Away

When you decide to sell your home, it’s time to start interviewing real estate agents to handle your listing. I always recommend asking friends and family for recommendations. But it’s also a good idea to research agent reviews while checking out their credentials.

Once you find someone you’re confident will do a great job for you, you will sign a listing agreement. Your agent will work on a plan of action with you and discuss improvements that may be needed as well as remodeling work they believe will pay off.

Your Agent will Help You Select a Date

Opinions on the best times to sell a home are many, and they are varied. And sometimes those opinions don’t even really matter. For example, you retire from your current job in August and find a new place to work in a smaller, slower-paced town in October. Then you start working the new job the first week of December.

In this scenario, the sellers knew they would be moving because retirement would require a smaller, more affordable home. So they started packing and researching agents in August.

They found a great listing agent. And with their help, the sellers selected April 1st as the date to put their home on the market.

Research Your Local Market and Determine a Target Price

Again, a great listing agent will present you with “comps” when you hire them. What are comps? They are comparable properties in the neighborhood or surrounding area where you live. Comparing properties similar to yours that have sold or that are listed near you helps you better establish an asking price confidently.

But there’s nothing wrong with visiting a few open houses, too. This kind of “research” helps you see what’s for sale near you. And it gives you ideas for staging your home.

Prepare Your Home to Sell

Next, your agent will discuss needed improvements and updates as well as remodeling work they believe will pay off.

Allow your agent to be brutally honest with you. Voice your concerns and ideas with your agent. But trust their expertise and experience. They will let you know what to paint, clean, repair, and update or remodel.

An extensive kitchen remodel may not pay off. But replacing worn out old carpet with trending flooring might just do the trick. Oh, and that avocado green dishwasher? Yeah. Replace it with a white or stainless steel dishwasher. And fix anything that is broken or not working.

Now, start painting interior walls with a neutral color. If washing walls is all that is needed, start washing. Update or repair anything that will turn off buyers.

Start Moving Out Four Weeks Prior to Listing

Packing to move

Really. Get a storage pod or unit and start loading boxes you’ve packed into it a little at a time. This helps prepare you for the upcoming move and your house for proper staging. Remember, a well-staged home sells faster! Pack personal items and extra mixing bowls, pitchers, containers, furniture you can live without.

Because the sellers began working in a new town, they rented a storage unit there. Each morning they packed the pickup with whatever was packed the day before and unloaded it into the unit. They started moving out in December and had almost everything moved out by April 1st.

Know Your Financials and Keep Cleaning and Decluttering Two to Three Weeks Before Listing

You need to know your financials. If you need help with this and your agent hasn’t already let you know that this information is needed, ask them for help. They’ll tell you where to go and what information you need to gather from whom.

  • Get your loan payout information for your mortgage
  • Know how much you owe so you can figure out what your sales proceeds will be
  • Clear up liens on the property if there are any

And keep cleaning, decluttering, and packing. You want your home to look as much like a model home as possible. And a good agent will provide the services of a home stager and professional photographer to market your home well.

  • Pack personal items
  • Make sure furniture makes sense for the space
  • Keep painting and/or cleaning

One Week Before Listing, It’s Time to Market Your House

It’s time for your home’s glamour shots! Follow the home stager’s advice before picture day. You want your home’s glamour shots looking so good, they’ll make you have second thoughts about moving.

Your agent will create an engaging, accurate, and appealing description of your home. What made you fall in love with your home when you bought it? Share that in the description.

Listing your home

The Big Day – Listing Day!

Make sure your agent puts the “FOR SALE” sign up in your yard and stocks the flyer box with flyers. Your house should be listed on all the major online real estate sites, too.

Keep It Clean Until There’s a Contract

Until the house is actually SOLD, you must live keep it clean. Keep counters and other flat services free of clutter and put everything put away. Wash, dry, and put away whatever you use at meal time.

The sellers sold their home in just two short weeks, but they had being “on the ready” for a walkthroughs down to a science. They were ready to walk out the door even when a buyer’s agent requested to drop by “in a few minutes.”

Dishes were done. Bathrooms were clean. And everything was wiped down. Floors were swept. Carpets were vacuumed. And a checklist was placed in a laundry basket by the front door. Here are some of the items in the basket:

  • Garbage bags to remind them to take out all the trashes
  • Decorator towels for each bathroom, folded and ready to be hung.
  • Same for the kitchen
  • Clean throw for the overstuffed chair
  • Purse and keys
  • Coupons and snacks to eat while they were out of the house
  • Grocery and errands lists to conquer while they were gone, too

And they never forgot to take the dog with them.

Get Excited About How Quickly the Offers Come In


Your agent will receive feedback following each showing. And the sooner you sell, the higher the price you’ll receive for your house. So if you’re not seeing a steady flow of offers or interest, consider adjusting the price.

Celebrate the Sale!

When you decide to sell your house, there is a lot to do before you list it. But when you follow the plan laid out to you by your listing agent and consider their suggestions, the end result is a SOLD sign soon after it lists.

Before you decide to sell your home, contact me, Charles D’Alessandroyour Brooklyn Real Estate Agent with Fillmore Real Estate. With over 30 plus years as a Brooklyn real estate agent and broker, I can help you navigate the selling process from list to close.

Our office is completely shut down and committed to your safety during the COVID-19 health crisis in compliance with the State of New York public health policies. I can be reached by phone at (718) 253-9600 ext. 1901 or by email at [email protected].


Charles D'Alessandro

Charles D’Alessandro
Your Brooklyn Real Estate Agent
718-253-9600 ext. 1901