What Do You Need to Know About Rent Back Agreements?

May 15th, 2019
Rent Back Agreements can be advantageous to both buyers and sellers providing they are utilized judiciously.

Ever hear of rent back agreements? So what are they, and what are the advantages and disadvantages associated with this kind of real estate transaction?

Rent Back Agreements Defined

Wikpedia defines rent back agreements as “a form of property transaction involving the expeditious sale of an owner occupier’s residence to a landlord or property company and renting it back from the new owner.” They are also known as post-settlement occupancy agreements.

This kind of transaction allows a home seller to buy himself extra time to stay in the home after closing.

And why would a home seller need extra time beyond the closing date to stay in the home?

Rent Back Agreements Explained

Here are a couple of home sale stories to help explain what rent back agreements are.

The Story of the Brownstone

My wife and I paid a builder to build a getaway home outside of New York City limits. And now our builder is nearing completion.

We put our brownstone up for sale as soon as the builder broke ground, assuming that it could be on the market for a little while. But guess what? Our custom home isn’t quite finished, and we already have a buyer for our brownstone.

The buyer has come to an agreement on a reasonable closing date with us since our new home is almost built. But again, guess what? As our closing date approaches, the builder has informed us of a major delay. This snag is going to keep us out of our new home for another 30 days past the closing date.

So what can we do? We know the buyer wants to move into their brownstone on closing day. Wouldn’t you? Of course you would!

The Story of the Offer Too Good to Refuse

My friend was selling her condo. And it wasn’t long before she received a very attractive cash offer that was just too good to refuse. The cash offer, however, came with a very short time until closing. She expected and planned on having more time to find a new place to live. But she knew she couldn’t turn down the buyer’s cash offer.

So there she was, cash in hand and no home to move into at closing time. What could she do?

Benefits of Rent Back Agreements

In both of the stories, the sellers ended up with no place to go on closing day. And in both cases, their real estate agents proposed rent back agreements.

In the case of the condo seller, her buyer was an investor who was planning to rent the condo out anyway. And he readily accepted. For 40 days past the closing date, she paid a daily rate that was equivalent to her mortgage payment plus the condo fee.

Benefits for the Seller

  • Allowed to stay in the home until a specified date past closing
  • Able to put things together to close the deal (if used properly with the appropriate language inserted in the addendum to the contract)

Benefits for the Buyer

  • Extra income can offset mortgage payments and some closing costs, such as broker commissions, appraisal fees, and attorney fees
  • Agreeing to a rent back gets your offer accepted in multiple offer situations in most cases

Benefits for Both the Buyer and the Seller

  • Minimizes stress for everybody involved by wrapping the rent into the closing and delivering it as a single payment
  • Used judiciously, it’s a win-win for all parties

Before Agreeing to Rent Back Agreements

Before agreeing to rent-back agreements, think carefully about the terms. Spell out the details for the record to avoid misunderstandings.

  • Understand why the seller wants a rent-back agreement
  • Charge a fair price
  • Don’t sign a lease that lasts longer than 60 days
  • Charge a holdover fee if the seller stays longer than agreed
  • Collect a security deposit
  • Require renters insurance

Most people do their best to plan ahead. But life happens. When a seller gets an offer with a proposed settlement date, they might ask, “Now, how am I going to coordinate getting out of this house and into another without having movers lined up in the driveway?”

Take note: Rent back agreements should be treated the same as you would treat any other business relationship. Buyers, never let the sellers retain possession of the home without drawing up a formal occupancy agreement, never. Because with terms and conditions of the seller’s stay in the buyer’s new home, both parties are protected.

Have you ever needed rent back agreements? Did a real estate agent you were working with suggest using a rent back agreement? There’s a lot that goes into a good rent back agreement. And in order for it to do its best work for both parties, it must be used properly. I recommend consulting with a real estate lawyer for more information.


 Charles D’Alessandro
Your Brooklyn Real Estate Agent
718-253-9600 ext. 206
[email protected]

Should You Sell Your Home First?

April 30th, 2019
Sell your home

Should you sell your home first or wait until it sells to buy a new one?

If you’re moving soon, you might be questioning whether or not you should sell your home before buying a new one. There are a lot of factors involved in answering this question and making a decision. But hashed out below are the pros and cons of each. Now you can decide whether or not you should sell your home first before buying a one. And you can decide with confidence.

 

Yes, Sell Your Home First If You …

Want to get the most money for your home

If you’re not in any hurry, you won’t be tempted to take a low offer. It’s hard for you as a seller to hold firm on a price when you’re carrying two mortgages. And if you’re not in any hurry, you’ll also have negotiating power.

Can include a contingency clause in your contract of sale

You certainly don’t want to lose a buyer just to be able to stay in your home longer. But you can add a contingency clause to your contract that allows you to remain in your house for a short time after closing. A contingency of 30 to 60 days will give you enough time to close on a new property. It may be difficult to get the buyer to agree to this. But if they do, you’ll have plenty of time to find the perfect new house.

Can handle moving twice

If you sell your home first, you can always live in a short-term rental until you find a new place. This means moving twice, yes. But if you can handle it and are okay with that, it gives you an option.

Don’t want to be stressed about selling

No doubt about it. Selling a home is stressful, no matter how organized, prepared, or easy-going you may be. And carrying a second mortgage is stressful enough to elevate your blood pressure.

 

Yes, Buy a New Home First If …

It’s the Brooklyn home you’ve always wanted

 If you’re absolutely sure you’ve found your dream house, you should buy it now, even if your current house hasn’t sold. You might be full of regret later if you let your dream house pass you by.  Just make sure the house is truly worth it.

You’ve found a deal that’s too good to pass up

If you’ve researched the comps and you know the home you’ve found is too good a deal to pass up,  buy it. Waiting to sell your home might cost you more in the long run if you lose out on a good bargain.

The real estate market is a seller’s market

If it’s seller’s market, there are more buyers than there are houses selling, you won’t have any difficulty selling your Brooklyn property.

You have the money

Talk with Charles D’Alessandro, your Brooklyn Real Estate Agent. Find out how long homes that are comparable to yours are taking to sell these days. Then, do the math. Determine whether or not you have enough in savings to make the down payment and both monthly mortgage payments while you’re waiting to sell.

Do you need to sell your home? Should you buy a new home now or wait until the home you’re selling sells? Call Charles D’Alessandro, your Brooklyn Real Estate Agent with Fillmore Real Estate and ask him. Call (718) 253-9600 ext.206 email [email protected] With 30-plus years of real estate experience in Brooklyn, he’s got the answers.

 


 

Brooklyn Real Estate Agent

 Charles D’Alessandro
Your Brooklyn Real Estate Agent
718-253-9600 ext. 206
[email protected]

When You Need to Sell Your House Now But It Isn’t Selling

April 15th, 2019
Sell your house
Renting your home is a great option when you’ve been relocated and can’t sell your house.

Are you relocating? If you took a new job in a new place, and you just can’t get your house sold, you’re probably feeling like you’re in a bit of a pickle. Whenever a home sells, it’s always our hope to close the sale within a certain amount of time. This is especially true when you’re relocating or need to sell your house before buying another one. But sometimes it takes a lot longer than planned. Don’t fret. You can rent your home.

When You Need to Sell Your House but It Isn’t Selling, Rent It

The people who first came to mind when I started this blog post are those in military service.

Some friends of mine who serve in the Air Force relocated from South Dakota to Wyoming. Since they couldn’t live on base in the military housing provided to Air Force Officers, they bought a home. Then, two years later, the Air Force gave them orders to serve in Wyoming. But they couldn’t sell their house in South Dakota.

So what could they do?

Renting Until You Sell Your House

Renting your home is one way to generate cash flow while you wait for your home to sell. The monthly rent pays all or part of your mortgage costs and therefore, helps you avoid foreclosure. And if the market is slow like it was in 2008, renting allows you to:

  • Sell your home for a profit when the market recovers
  • Keep the mortgage paid until you find a qualified buyer

But you’ve got to weigh your pros and cons with renting.

What to Know Before Renting Your Home

There are important things to consider about renting before you’re a landlord.

  • Costs
  • Rates
  • Tenants
  • Benefits

 

Costs

The costs of becoming a landlord involve Homeowner’s Insurance, Property Management, and Capital Gains.

  1. Your Homeowner’s Insurance needs to change to a policy that covers landlords and rental properties specifically. And landlord policies cost more than a standard homeowners policy since landlords need more protection than the typical homeowner.
  1. Property management could cost you a lot of the monthly rent payment your tenants pay you, especially if you are a remote landlord. Unless you live near the rental, and you are skilled to take care of clogged drains, routine maintenance, or even deadbeat tenants, you will have to hire a property manager. And the cost to pay a property manager is generally around 10 percent of the monthly rent.
  1. Simply, you must live in your home for two of the five years prior to the sale of your home in order to avoid paying Capital Gains Taxes on:
  • up to $250,000 of profit if you are single
  • $500,000 of profit if you are married

However, if you rent your home for longer than three years after you relocate and then sell your house for a profit, taxes on that profit gained are due to the federal government.

Rates

What will you charge your renters to rent your home? What’s appropriate? This alone can be difficult to determine due to all the factors that need to be considered.

  • In general, it is suggested that you charge at least one percent of the mortgage. This should generate enough positive cash flow.
  • Charging one percent of the mortgage must also be reasonable for your neighborhood. Find out what the rental properties near your home are renting for to help you determine what is reasonable. To learn about rates, talk to property management agencies, search for similar rentals online, and check Craigslist, Rentometer, and Rent.com.
  • To get an idea about how much money you can expect to receive from a year of renting, you have to factor in your vacancy rates. It is suggested that investment property owners plan for only ten and a half months of occupancy per year.

What if you find that the rent you should charge, minus the costs and vacancy rate, won’t actually be enough to cover your monthly mortgage? It may still make sense to rent out your home until you sell your house instead of attempting to carry the mortgage all by yourself.

Tenants

After researching the costs involved as a landlord and the rates you should charge to rent your home, you still have to find reliable tenants. How?

  • Advertise – Advertise online, on rental sites like Rent.com and Craigslist, and on social media. And advertise on local relocation firms, HR departments, and local universities, too. Always advertise the good old-fashioned way, too. Put a sign in your yard.
  • Ask questions – Put every applicant through a screening process. Boilerplate applications and lease agreements can be found online, but you must ask your potential tenants about their: income, employment history, rental history.
  • Call all of their references.

Note: You can request Social Security numbers for background and credit checks through a website like E-Renter. Background and credit checks cost around $25, but that’s nothing compared to the number of headaches you could be spared.

Benefits

The benefits of renting your home until you sell your house shouldn’t be overlooked.

  • Capital Loss. Renting your home and then selling it at a loss allows you to claim the capital loss against your income. That can be a huge tax break!
  • Tax Breaks. There are other tax breaks available to you as a homeowner who rents your home. Landlords can deduct almost any expense related to the maintenance and marketing of their rental property. Insurance premiums, repairs, advertising costs, landscaping services, property management services, mortgage interest, and travel expenses related to the rental can be deducted.

 

More Notes Worth Considering Before You Rent Your Home

Renting your home until you sell your home is a great way to generate cash flow, cover your mortgage costs, and avoid foreclosure. But if you choose to rent your home:

  • Plan to rent it for at least one year.
  • Draw up a lease. Most renters prefer the security of a lease. But include a clause in the lease about the home being for sale. And see a real estate attorney for help with making your lease agreement clear, making sure it protects you.
  • Know the rental laws in New York.
  • Save money for repairs. You will have to make repairs before your renters move in and again after they move out. You are responsible for repairing anything major that breaks, such as the air conditioner or refrigerator.

Do you need 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 him at [email protected] Charles can help you sell your home or protect your home as a rental property.


Brooklyn Real Estate Agent

 Charles D’Alessandro

Your Brooklyn Real Estate Agent

718-253-9600 ext. 206

[email protected]


How to Overcome the Overwhelm of Buying a Home

March 30th, 2019
Overcome the overwhelm
Overcome the overwhelm of buying a new home. Find out the answers to these 7 important questions before you make an offer on that house.

Have you found THE home? How exciting! Are you feeling overwhelmed with a flood of questions that are coming to mind? If you are, it’s totally understandable since purchasing a home is probably the biggest decision you’ll make in your lifetime. But buying a home doesn’t have to be overwhelming. It can actually be a lot of fun. And obtaining the right information before buying THE home is just what you need to overcome the overwhelm.

Ask Questions to Overcome the Overwhelm

Take your time. Spend a lot of time planning and researching as much as you can. Here are seven great questions to ask to help you overcome the overwhelm you may be experiencing.

“How much money do I need for the down payment?”

You may have been saving money for quite a while, but is it enough? Should you wait another six months till you’ve saved more for a down payment?

In New York, the minimum for a down payment is almost always 20 percent of the selling price. If you secure a mortgage with a down payment of less than 20 percent, you’ll have to get mortgage insurance. But mortgage insurance doesn’t have to be a major stumbling block.

“How much house can I truly afford?”

There are almost always other costs beyond the purchase price of a new home. And first-time home-buyers are often surprised when they see how costs can add up.

  • Fees for other payments beyond the price of the home
  • Renovations
  • Repairs
  • Appliances
  • Blinds
  • Flooring
  • Lawn maintenance supplies
  • Maintenance fees

It’s wise to estimate your monthly mortgage payment first. Then make sure the other costs of items you’ll need beyond the monthly payments. You don’t want to go into more debt than you can pay for.

“Are my finances in good order?”

You need to show that you can close on the home you want to buy. Check your credit score and look for any discrepancies. If you find an error, get it corrected. If your credit history is blemished, you could be disqualified for the lowest mortgage rates. And it doesn’t matter if you show enough income.

Then, before you make an offer, get preapproved for a mortgage.

“What about the loan?”

Terms and differences in mortgages can be overwhelming. There are 15-year loans and 30-year loans, fixed-rate mortgages and variable-rate mortgages. And there is no one-size-fits-all home loan. So find a good lender who is very knowledgeable. They should know about every option that is available to you. And they should be able to show you how to get the most out of the loan process to get you as much house as you want.

“Were any claims filed on this property in the last seven years?”

This question may not have popped into your head, but it’s one you need to ask before you make an offer. What if the house had a termite problem in the past? Or was there damage of any kind to the house in the past? Request a copy of the C.L.U.E. report from the seller. C.L.U.E. is a database that maintains all insurance claims for homes and vehicles for up to the previous seven years.

“How much should I offer on this home?”

This is a good question to know the answer to if you want to overcome the overwhelm of buying a home. If you offer too little, you risk losing the home to someone else who offers more. Yet if you offer too much, you could wind up overpaying.

“Will there be more costs to prepare for at closing?”

Yes. There are closing costs in addition to the down payment. And depending on how you’re financing the home, there are more costs in addition to the one-time closing costs, such as:

  • Commissions fees
  • Appraisals
  • Surveying
  • Inspections and certifications
  • Tax and title services
  • Government record changes
  • Transfer taxes
  • Origination fee
  • Charge for specific interest rates
  • Real estate agent commissions
  • Home inspection charges
  • Title insurance

 And they are due at the time of signing.

Hire a Great Real Estate Agent to Overcome the Overwhelm

To overcome the overwhelm you need to hire a great real estate agent as soon as the house shopping begins. Charles D’Alessandro will tell you what comparable homes in the area have sold for. And he’ll help you make a solid offer the first time. If a counteroffer needs to be made, Charles will help you make one that fits your budget. And if multiple offers need to be made, he’ll guide you through them all. He’s here to help you, answer your questions, and guide you through the whole process from beginning to end.

Want to overcome the overwhelm that comes with buying a new home? Call Charles D’Alessandro, your Brooklyn Real Estate Agent with Fillmore Real Estate at (718) 253-9600 ext.206. Or email him at [email protected] right away.


Brooklyn Real Estate Agent

 Charles D’Alessandro

Your Brooklyn Real Estate Agent

718-253-9600 ext. 206

[email protected]


How to Stay Warm Safely in an Emergency Situation

March 15th, 2019
Stay warm
Be prepared. Stay warm. Be safe. Here’s what you can do if winter weather causes a power outage at home.

Spring arrives this month. Aren’t you glad? But it’s still very likely that extremely cold temperatures and severe winter storms will hit us between now and April 30th. Are you prepared to stay warm if the power goes out during a winter storm? Planning ahead is always your best option when it comes to an emergency situation. And here are some great ways to prepare ahead of time and be safe.

Invest in a Home Generator to Stay Warm

A generator is the best way to be prepared to make sure you stay warm in an emergency situation. But there are guidelines for using a generator safely.

Install a Woodstove

A woodstove with a bountiful supply of wood to use as fuel will keep you warm, provide light, and cook your food. There are such things as portable wood stoves that you can set up in your home in an emergency. But they take time to set up. You must set up a portable wood stove by a window and build a pipe chimney. Smoke from the burning wood has to be channeled outside.

Purchase Reliable Sources of Heat Beforehand


Kerosene Heater – Kerosene is a traditional fuel suitable for emergency heating. However, they must be used with caution indoors.

Candle Heater – Yes, you should have emergency candles and matches on hand for power outages to use as a source of light. But candles are not a very good source of heat since they don’t produce a lot of it. In spite of the fire hazard candles can be, you can build a candle heater for some heat and light when the power goes out.

Catalytic HeaterCatalytic heaters today are very efficient and safe to use in enclosed spaces. It’s still safest to use them near an open window. Typically, these heaters use propane to help you stay warm and require proper maintenance.

Soapstone HeaterSoapstone is a magnesium silicate that has amazing heat-retention properties. Store a soapstone block next to your stove or heater, and it will radiate heat for hours without the danger of fire.

Dress Warmly to Stay Warm

Did you know it’s more efficient to heat the body than trying to heat a room? When the power goes out, dress in warm layers and wrap up in blankets. Natural down fill works very well to keep you warm. And you can put chemical hand warmers in your pockets to help you stay warm, too.

Designate a Warm Room

A warm room is large enough for everyone to gather and set up mattresses if necessary. When the power goes out, send everyone into the warm room. Cover vents, windows, and doors with blankets. Set up your heat source(s). Don’t forget to bring some games, snacks, and water to drink into the warm room with you.

This is the perfect spot to mention Biofuel.

  • Organic, all-natural, non-toxic
  • Cost-effective – less expensive than traditional cooking and warming fuel. Lasts twice as long as a single can of Sterno cooking fuel
  • Environmentally-friendly – made in the USA with only all-natural, organic and non-hazardous materials. Easily biodegradable. Produces fewer carbon emissions
  • Reusable/Refillable: BioFuel cans can be reused and refilled
  • Great for home, camping, catering, and emergencies
  • Unlimited Shelf Life

And canned heat is the perfect addition to a car emergency kit if you were ever stranded in blizzard conditions on the road.

Prepare to Stay Warm and Be Safe

Stay warm and be safe if your electricity goes out this winter. A working wood, gas, or pellet stove is best for heating and cooking in emergency situations. But if there is no such stove in your home, be prepared with other safe ways to stay warm until the power is restored.

And, always make sure your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are working properly.

Charles D’Alessandro cares about his community in Brooklyn, New York. Stay warm and be safe this winter. Contact Charles D’Alessandro, your Brooklyn Real Estate Agent with Fillmore Real Estate at (718) 253-9600 ext.206. Or email him at [email protected] for all your real estate needs.


Brooklyn Real Estate Agent

 Charles D’Alessandro

Your Brooklyn Real Estate Agent

718-253-9600 ext. 206

[email protected]


What is the Best Way to Save Money by Going Green at Home?

February 28th, 2019
Going green at home
There are lots of things you can do when you want to go green. Choose a few from this list and start reaping the benefits of going green at home.

What comes to mind when you hear the words, “Going green” – St. Patrick’s Day, spring, being eco-friendly, money? Going green is about being good stewards of what we are given, and there’s certainly more to going green than just recycling. Let’s talk about going green at home and how we can be good stewards of what we have in and around Brooklyn.

What is a Green Home?

A green home is a structure built from recycled, sustainable, natural materials which do not emit toxins into the air inside your home. It also uses energy efficiently. But it can mean living a green lifestyle, too.

How to Be Green to Save Green

In order to achieve energy-efficiency status at home, you must:

  1. Use Energy Efficiently in your Home

  • Use energy-efficient appliances
  • Seal your home well
  • Properly insulate your home
  • Control the use of electricity, water, and fuel in your home

 

  1. Live a Green Lifestyle

  • Reduce the number of items you purchase each month
  • Reuse items for the same or different purpose
  • Recycle everything that can be or at least try to purchase items built with recycled stuff
  • Refuse excess. Start saying no and skip the need to reuse or recycle altogether.

 

Going Green at Home without Blowing Your Budget

You can save quite a bit of green by using less energy and water in your home. And over time, this adds up to huge savings. There are lots of doable suggestions, and I mean lots, for going green at home. I recommend choosing just three for starters and building from there. Here are some going green at home tips that won’t blow your budget:

 

  1. Reduce Pollution

  • Walk, bike, carpool, and use public transportation whenever you can. It will save you money, reduce pollution, keep you fit, and save energy.
  • Get your car serviced regularly. A car in need of a tune-up is a gas guzzler.
  • Drive the speed limit.
  • Run all your errands for one week in one trip.

 

  1. Use Reusable Containers and Stainless Steel Straws
  • Commit to using reusable containers and stainless steel straws instead of drinking bottled water and using plastic straws. Refilling a safe stainless steel water bottle with your own filtered tap water saves money and resources.
  • Bring your own reusable coffee mug to your favorite coffee shop.
  • When getting take out, bring your own food containers. You can even bring your own food containers to a restaurant to put your leftovers in.

 

  1. Cut Back on Water Usage

  • Take shorter showers
  • Install low-flow showerheads
  • Buy and use an energy-efficient dishwasher. They use less water than traditional dishwashing. Hallelujah! If you don’t have an energy-efficient dishwasher to use, switch up the way you wash your dishes so that the faucet runs for less time.
  • Only run your washer or dryer with a full load. And only wash truly dirty clothes.
  • If you have a lawn, ditch it. Grass demands a great deal of water and time to maintain.
  • Plant plants that are native to your soil. They require less care and water.
  • Collect rainwater. This conserves water because you can use the water from the rain barrel to water your garden, lawn, and houseplants or wash your bike or car.
  • Fix leaky toilets, faucets, and tanks. This could save up to 600 gallons of water in a month.
  • Put a bag or bottle filled with pebbles and water inside your toilet tank. Displacing the water in your toilet tank uses less water every time you flush. It saves about 5 to 10 gallons of water per day.
  • Always turn off the water in the sink when brushing your teeth or shaving. You could save up to 4 gallons of water per minute.

 

  1. Use Less Electricity

  • Don’t leave fans or lights on when you leave a room or leave home. Turn them off when not in use.
  • Always use free sunshine during the day. Don’t turn on your lights for as long as you can. Pull back the curtains or blinds and let the sun shine in.
  • If you’re going out of town, consider turning off your refrigerator.
  • Turn off all electronic gadgets at night. Many electronics consume energy even when they’re not actively “on.” This is called phantom energy because when they’re on standby mode, they are still using electricity. Always unplug chargers, microwaves, and computers, etc when not in use, or invest in “smart” surge protectors. They disable power when electronics aren’t in use.
  • Replace CFL and incandescent light bulbs with LEDs. It’s hard to beat the value offered by modern LEDs. Their prices get more affordable every day, and they last decades longer.
  • Buy properly sized appliances that fit your needs and save energy. Large appliances guzzle energy and require more space for installation.
  • Switch one appliance to an energy-efficient model. Look for the “energy star” label. If you’re buying a refrigerator, don’t buy one below 4 Energy Stars.
  • Line dry your laundry, inside or outside instead of using a dryer.
  • Consider using renewable energy sources such as a small solar power plant on your roof or a small wind turbine in your backyard.

 

  1. Responsibly Recycle E-Waste

  • Recycle your e-waste through a verified recycler. E-waste can contain all kinds of pollutants, including lead, mercury, beryllium, polyvinyl chloride, and flame-retardants. A verified recycler can break down an item into reusable or recyclable pieces. Toxic materials are appropriately handled. Look for recyclers on the EPA’s website.

 

  1. Eat Less Meat

  • Believe it or not, meat has a big impact on the environment. A study led by Gidon Eshel of Bard College suggests that meat has a bigger impact on our carbon footprint than cars do! Being a vegetarian isn’t for everyone, but you could try eating one meatless day each week. You’d save a little on your grocery bill by doing so.

 

  1. Buy Secondhand and Repurpose Items

  • Donate to and shop at thrift stores.  You’ll support your local economy, save money, and prolong the life of a perfectly usable item that may have otherwise gone to the landfill.
  • Before buying anything new, check your local Craigslist or Freecycle. Repurposing can be fun.

 

  1. Compost

  • Invest in your own backyard compost or see if Brooklyn has a compost program in your neighborhood. Many are cheap or even free to join. Composting reduces waste that is sent to landfills and transforms organic wastes into nutrient-dense soil for your garden beds.

 

  1. Streamline Your Mailbox

 

  1. Reduce Your Paper Towel Consumption

  • Use dishtowels for drying hands while cooking or washing up.
  • Consider using cloth napkins at dinnertime.
  • Use cloth instead of paper to clean your kitchen. Make rags out of old towels and t-shirts.

 

  1. Other Green Choices

  • Invest in home items like natural-fill and organic cotton bedding.
  • Cook with pans covered with lids. This saves energy and money and emits fewer gases into the air.
  • Buy non-chlorine-based bleach and detergents in your home.
  • Replace chemical cleaners, most of your bathroom cabinet, air fresheners, and even some personal care items with essential oils. Make your own household cleaners.
  • Avoid plastic bags. Instead, carry your groceries in reusable bags.
  • Reuse jars in your kitchen. Store bulk items in them. Repurpose glass jars as leftover containers and bulk storage.
  • Stop using disposable bags. Order reusable bags such as Flip & Tumble or make your own.
  • Paint with no-VOC paint. VOC paint emits harmful gases into the air and affects your health and surroundings negatively.
  • Reuse scrap paper for drawing, coloring, or calculating math.
  • Reuse toilet paper rolls to grow seedlings or stuff with dryer lint to make fire starters.
  • Plant an herb garden.
  • Eat local, organic Support your local economy and shop at your farmer’s market. Support local restaurants that use food derived less than 100 miles away. Learn more about the benefits of eating locally.
  • Research whether you can sign up for green power from your utility company.
  • Conduct a quick energy audit of your home.
  • Lower the temperature on your hot water heater.
  • Wash your laundry in cold water instead of hot.
  • Switch to cloth diapers or at least do a combination with disposables. Using one cloth diaper per day means 365 fewer disposables in the landfill each year.
  • Switch to shade-grown coffee with the “Fair Trade” label.

 

Going Green at Home Intentionally

Going green at home is just good economics. But it takes thought and effort. You must commit to being eco-wise to reap the benefits of good stewardship – saving money, energy, and passing on these important values to the next generation.

Contact Charles D’Alessandro, your Brooklyn Real Estate Agent with Fillmore Real Estate at (718) 253-9600 ext.206. Or email him at [email protected] for help with going green in Brooklyn.


 

Brooklyn Real Estate Agent

 Charles D’Alessandro

Your Brooklyn Real Estate Agent

718-253-9600 ext. 206

[email protected]


Do You Need to Challenge Your Property Tax Assessment?

February 15th, 2019
Property tax assessment
If you decide to challenge your property tax assessment, be prepared.

How high are your property taxes? Do you feel they are too high? Most homeowners pay property taxes once or twice a year. Some get their property taxes amortized into monthly mortgage payments. But before you write that check, consider challenging your property tax assessment. According to the National Taxpayers Union, a homeowner has a fifty percent chance of succeeding if they challenge their local assessor’s office about their property tax bill. So if you want to dispute your property tax assessment, here’s what you need to know.

First, How is the Amount of Your Property Tax Determined?

Your city’s tax rate is multiplied by the assessed value of your property and all of the structures on it. This determines the amount of property tax you pay. The value of the structures can change significantly if you make any improvements, like adding on a family room, for example.

Assessors determine the value of your house in one of three ways:

  • With a detailed inspection
  • By checking real estate documents to see how much you paid for your property
  • Looking at the median price paid for homes in your area and basing calculations on that information

 

Second, Why Would You Want to Challenge Your Property Tax Assessment?

Your reasons for disputing property tax assessments can vary:

  • You suspect that the assessed value of your house exceeds its true market value. (For example, if the assessed value of the house you just bought is higher than what you paid for it, producing the contract of sale could be enough to get the tax reduced without any further ado).
  • Your neighbors, who live in an identical brownstone one or two doors down, are paying less in taxes than you are
  • You’re entitled to exemptions that weren’t taken into account – homeowners renovating historic properties in some jurisdictions, for example.

 

Third, How Do You Challenge Your Property Tax Assessment?

So where do you start when you want to challenge your property tax assessment?

You don’t need a lawyer because most municipalities are more than willing to walk you through the appeals process. But since you might have only sixty days from the time the assessment arrives in your mailbox, you should call and ask about the review process of your local assessor’s office right away. And find out what the important timing points are, too.

Dispute forms are usually included with an assessment by most municipalities. Then, if you question the assessment, you can send the form back. Once you fill out that form and send it back, the process varies.

Most likely you’ll be asked to state your case at an informal hearing at your local assessor’s office. It’s possible to resolve the problem right then and there provided your argument is strong enough. (Like when you suspect that the assessed value of your house exceeds its true market value, for example)

If you’re unable to resolve the problem with a strong argument at an informal hearing, you may be asked to attend a formal hearing. At this second hearing, you must convince a review board of local assessors that their findings are inaccurate. Be prepared for this formal hearing and bring the following:

  • Detailed descriptions of properties similar to yours with comparable square footage, additions, etc. from a local real estate agent
  • Tax records which can be found by researching property rolls at the assessor’s office
  • Photos

 

In Review …

When your property tax assessment arrives in the mail:

  • Make sure all the deductions you’re entitled to were granted
  • Check the assessor’s math and the description of your property. If something looks off, investigate. Human error, like miscalculating square footage or recording an incorrect number of bedrooms, for example, happens.
  • Compare the assessments of at least five properties similar to your own
  • Make adjustments for differences between your property and the five similar to your own
  • If your assessment is too high, make an informal appeal to the assessor. File a formal appeal if the informal appeal doesn’t work.
  • Attend an appeals board hearing. (The National Taxpayers Union’s guide, How to Fight Property Taxes, is available for purchase if you’d like more information on the process and how it works).
  • Write a summary of your case and rehearse your presentation before you appear at your informal hearing

If you’re able to get the property tax assessment reduced, good job! But if you’re not able to get it reduced, you will only be out a $5 to $30 filing fee. In addition to the time spent trying to reduce your property tax assessment, the filing fee really isn’t all that costly. So it really is worth the try.

Remember, your latest property tax assessment bill does not have to be paid without question. So consider challenging it before you write your check. The deadline is March 15, 2019. If you need help disputing your assessment bill, contact Charles D’Alessandro, your Brooklyn Real Estate Agent with Fillmore Real Estate at (718) 253-9600 ext.206. Or you can email him at [email protected] He will be happy to assist you.


Brooklyn Real Estate Agent

 Charles D’Alessandro

Your Brooklyn Real Estate Agent

718-253-9600 ext. 206

[email protected]


What Makes Brooklyn a Great Place to Love?

January 30th, 2019
Great place to love
What makes Brooklyn a great place to love for you?

There’s no place like home. And there’s certainly no place quite like Brooklyn, New York. So what makes Brooklyn a great place to love?

6 of Many Reasons Why Brooklyn is a Great Place to Love

Whether or not you still live in the place you grew up, there are things about it that make that place your hometown. But some of us have moved from address to address so many times that “home” is a relative term. We use the word “home” to describe a great place we either loved living once or love living in currently.

Brooklyn is my home. And there are plenty of reasons why others who have moved to Brooklyn call it their home, too. Here’s why Brooklyn is a great place to love and call home.

1. Outstanding Coffee Shops

The coffee here is always served with a good attitude and a smile. Here are our five-star rated coffee shops:

There are many others with four stars, you’ll certainly have a difficult time choosing. But isn’t that fun to have so many choices for an outstanding cup of brew?

2. World-Class Eateries

We are home to amazing restaurants such as:

3. Fun Waterfronts

New York has been busy transforming from an industrial wasteland into fabulous green spaces, and it’s taken years. One of three major NYC parks opened in Brooklyn. In Brooklyn Bridge Park, the verdant Pier 3 debuted. If you enjoy panoramic views of the Manhattan skyline, this is the waterfront park to visit.

4. Amazing Parks

You probably don’t think of anything but a concrete jungle when someone mentions New York. But we’re home to a lot of amazing parks and greenspaces where you can get in touch with nature and enjoy the great outdoors.

5. Quiet Streets

Brooklyn is a borough of 30 distinct and unique neighborhoods. They are as diverse as those who live in them and rich with history. And it’s full of quiet streets and safe places to walk about and raise children. There are many excellent public and private schools, too.

6. A Strong Sense of Community

Brooklyn’s neighborhoods have been able to maintain their diversity and unique personalities. Some have even maintained their ethnic personality, like many of Brooklyn’s Italian neighborhoods, for example. They still enjoy their heritage and flavor.

Recent transplants and lifelong residents both share a genuine desire to see their unique neighborhoods thrive to be the best they can be. We care about each other and share important events together, and are hopeful about the future of Brooklyn. When there is a problem, the community rallies together to get it solved.

Much of this strong sense of community is seen in our efforts to provide green markets, community farms and gardens, cultural and historical non-profit organizations. Leaders of our community support and encourage shopping for goods made by local artists and designers.

But Wait – There’s so Much More that Makes Brooklyn a Great Place to Love

Brooklyn is a great place to love. It is a special place with a myriad of reasons to call it home. From community activities, trendy boutiques, lively music venues, amazing rooftop views, fun and diverse nightlife to a culinary scene to rival that of anywhere else in the world. Brooklyn has much to offer that compels us to love calling it our home.

Now that you know why Brooklyn is a great place to love, are you ready to call it your home? Call Charles D’Alessandro,
your Brooklyn Real Estate Agent with Fillmore Real Estate at (718) 253-9600 ext.206. Or you can email him at [email protected]



Brooklyn Real Estate Agent

 Charles D’Alessandro

Your Brooklyn Real Estate Agent

718-253-9600 ext. 206

[email protected]


A Fresh Start for a Fantastic Year

January 15th, 2019

Whether you are or are not planning to sell, there’s something about a fresh start each January. Everyone selling, moving, or staying put can appreciate the peace of mind a clean slate offers. So welcome the fresh start decluttering, downsizing, and organizing gives you or a loved one you are a caregiver to. There’s no better time.

Fresh start
Prepare now for a move later or simply enjoy a fresh start at home for peace of mind. Decluttering, downsizing, and organizing offers amazing benefits!

Great Benefits of a Fresh Start at Home

There are three “things” a fresh start at home gives to everyone who pursues this rewarding task: improved relationships, more productivity, and happier, healthier life.

For example, when you come home to clutter, how does that make you feel? If stuff is everywhere, feelings of depression, defeat, anxiety, and irritation usually take hold. Less stuff to push to the side, fewer dirty dishes, and less to trip over makes your home visually appealing and you just simply feel better. And peace of mind is the biggest and best benefit of a fresh start!

Here are some other great benefits you can have when you declutter, downsize, and organize your home:

Money

Simply, if you don’t spend money, you have more money. So, next time you go shopping, if you don’t absolutely love it, put it down and move on. Plus, the less you spend your money on, the less you have to make room for in your home. Storage systems or storage space rentals can cost you a pretty penny and fast.

Space

When you keep only what you need or want to keep, the space you have to store it is ample and sometimes more than enough. And storage space is valuable to the home owner and potential buyer.

Time

The less stuff you have in your home saves time. How? Because you have less to clean and less to clean around. Cleaning stuff takes time. And cleaning around a lot of stuff takes time, too. What about the time you spend just looking for something that you can’t find because there is so much stuff to look past to find it? That’s exasperating! Also, if you’re downsizing, there’s less stuff to pack and move to your smaller home.

Doing What You Love to Do

And that brings us to yet another great benefit of a fresh start. When you aren’t spending valuable time cleaning or unnecessarily looking for things, you have more time to spend doing what you love to do and with those you love to things with.

Stress

Less stuff means less stress. Cluttered homes cause stress, anxiety, and claustrophobia. Clutter also causes feelings of overwhelm, helplessness, guilt, or shame. If your home is a “mess,” how do you feel when someone stops by unexpectedly?

Pick a closet, drawer, one flat surface. Here’s how to get started on your fresh start and a stress free life now. No, you won’t be organized right away. But keep at it, one closet, drawer, or flat surface at a time. And remember, don’t move on to the next project until the one at hand is finished completely. Then before you know it, you’ll be done with your home (or even Mom’s) enjoying more space, time, and peace of mind.

Do you plan to stay in your Brooklyn home or are you thinking of selling? Decluttering, downsizing, and organizing to enjoy a fresh start now also prepares you for a stress-free move later. And that’s another benefit you may not have considered.

For suggestions and referrals for decluttering, downsizing, and organizing, call Charles D’Alessandro, your Brooklyn Real Estate Agent with Fillmore Real Estate at (718) 253-9600 ext.206. Or you can email him at [email protected]



Brooklyn Real Estate Agent

 Charles D’Alessandro

Your Brooklyn Real Estate Agent

718-253-9600 ext. 206

[email protected]


How to Declutter Christmas Decor and Store Only the Best

December 30th, 2018

Declutter Christmas decor
Enjoy extra space in your Brooklyn home all year and get yourself a step ahead in the selling process. Declutter Christmas decor now!

I have a confession to make. When it comes to Christmas décorations, I’ve got more than I can possibly use. But I struggle to part with any of it. Some have emotional and sentimental ties. Others I just hate to give away because I bought them on sale, and “they’re just too good to not use.” And what am I rewarded with each year? The feeling of overwhelm. Know what I’m talking about? This year, with the help of family, I am taking the decluttering “bull by the horns.” We will conscientiously declutter Christmas décor step by step.

How and When to Declutter Christmas Decor

Now is the perfect time to declutter Christmas décor. Christmas Day has passed and your favorite decorations are out. So purge what you no longer want, gather proper quantities of properly sized storage containers, and store only your best holiday items.

1. Declutter Holiday Decor You No Longer Want

As you bring your storage boxes back out, declutter the following items:

  • Items broken beyond repair or that you won’t take the time to repair (ornaments, strings of lights, etc.)
  • Anything you don’t love or even like very much
  • Everything you avoid putting out year after year

Check out this list of home storage solutions for even more ideas.

Remember, less is more, especially when it comes to holiday décorations. As you declutter Christmas décor, conscientiously keep only the best and throw out or donate the rest.

Note: Don’t donate broken items deserving of the trash. Also, these steps to declutter Christmas décor can be used when dealing with all holiday and seasonal decorations throughout the year.

2. Categorize Your Best Decorations2

Once you’ve purged and donated the items you no longer want, then categorize decorations into one of the following categories:

  • Decorations for the Christmas tree: ornaments, hooks, beads, lights, tree skirt, tree stand, tree topper
  • Indoor and outdoor light strands: extra bulbs, light clips. Mark each strand with its length.
  • Artificial tree(s), wreaths, and garlands. Mark each garland with its length and where it is displayed (atop kitchen cupboards, upstairs stair banister, etc.) Here are some great storage ideas:
  • TreeKeeper artificial Christmas tree storage bag. This allows you to keep your artificial tree assembled and ready to use next year.
  • And if you have room to do so, hang your garland instead of winding it up in a box or bag. You’ll save yourself a lot of time since you won’t need to fluff your garland.
  • Use WreathKeeper bags for hanging regular to oversized wreaths.
  • Nativity scenes, Christmas villages, and other freestanding decorations
  • Lawn ornaments and outdoor decorations
  • Christmas dishes
  • Candles
  • Miscellaneous

3. Gather Properly-Sized Containers to Store Your Christmas Decor3

Assess the amounts of decorations in each category. Then make sure you have enough of the right-sized containers to store everything properly and safely.

If you’re unable to buy a number of storage containers all at once (especially right after Christmas), keep these ideas in mind and purchase what you need as you have opportunity throughout the year.

How to Store Christmas DecorationsH

  • Pack decorations from the same category in one box. (For example, one box for everything that goes on or with the tree)
  • Don’t overstuff boxes. Everything should fit neatly with plenty of room to keep things from breaking or being damaged while in storage
  • Store all Christmas storage boxes together in one area in your home or garage. Then everything can be found easily next year!
  • Protect decorations from extreme temperatures, moisture, dirt, dust, rodents, and insects

Christmas Storage Solutions to ConsiderC

There are lots of great places to purchase storage containers in stores and on-line. Watch this video from Good Housekeeping for things around your home that can be repurposed into ingenious storage containers.

  • Instead of cardboard boxes, replace them with sturdy, plastic Christmas storage containers. They stack well and protect their contents effectively. “Clear” boxes allow you to view what’s in each box without lifting the lid, too.
  • Purchase tissue paper or newspaper end rolls to wrap ornaments, or use ornament storage boxes with divided containers. Ornament boxes are designed to keep the decorations from banging against each other in storage and getting damaged or broken.
  • Avoid the frustration of untangling Christmas lights next year. This year wrap your light strings around a Christmas light storage reel. You can purchase them or make them yourself.
  • Buy storage items designed specifically for storing large Christmas décor such things as an artificial tree or wreaths.

Store Only Your Best Christmas Decor in the Best WayS

Wherever you store your Christmas items, store the containers so that they are easily accessible when next Christmas arrives. You want to find what you want quickly. That means labeling your boxes with its contents and stacking the boxes so that the label is visible and easy to read.

Apply Patience Now for a Less Hectic Christmas Next Year

Whatever efforts you make to declutter Christmas décor this year will make decorating next year much easier. Yes, it takes time and patience, but the reward of added space and easier Christmas decorating will have you repeating, “I’m so glad I did that last year!” nce you’ve taken these steps this year, each year’s Christmas decoration process from now on will be so much easier. You’ll be able to find all the boxes you need quickly and easily, pull out clean undamaged decorations, and enjoy the process of decorating your home for the holidays.

Declutter Christmas décor now and enjoy the added space in your Brooklyn home all year. And if you decide to sell, you’ll be one step ahead in the selling process and getting your home ready to be shown. It’s another win-win for you and your potential buyers.

And when you’re ready to sell, call Charles D’Alessandro, your Brooklyn Real Estate Agent with Fillmore Real Estate at (718) 253-9600 ext.206 or email [email protected]



Brooklyn Real Estate Agent

 Charles D’Alessandro

Your Brooklyn Real Estate Agent

718-253-9600 ext. 206

[email protected]