Archive for October, 2011

Renters: Are You Ready to Buy Brooklyn Real Estate? Pros and Cons of Home Ownership

Monday, October 31st, 2011

Should You Rent or Buy a Brooklyn Home?

If you’re sitting in your apartment right now thinking: I wish I could paint it, but my lease doesn’t allow it, maybe it’s time to talk to a Brooklyn real estate agent about purchasing a new home.  Before you rush off to the store to look at paint samples or, more importantly, sign on the dotted line of any mortgages, consider the pros and cons of buying.

Pros

  1. Financial Investment: Given the gloomy news on foreclosure rates across the country, it is easy to forget that buying Brooklyn real estate is also a means of saving and investing.  The money you pay in rent to your landlord goes to your landlord; the money you put toward a mortgage goes toward building equity in your home.
  2. Pride of Ownership: By buying a home, you will be able to paint the interior walls any color, renovate to your heart’s content, put nails in the walls and know that it is truly your territory. As a homeowner, you have a level of control over your environment that renters lack.
  3. Putting Down Roots: Purchasing Brooklyn real estate is a commitment to a community, akin to staking a flag in the ground.  You’re not just passing through, if you own your own home.  Most mortgages are 15 to 30 years.  Certainly, you can sell before that time is up, but with closing and moving costs and an uncertain market, the era of flipping houses for fun and profit is at a close. Buying your first home may involve considerations on other long-term decisions such as where you want to raise your children.

Cons

  1. Additional Expenses: Even if the mortgage you secure on your home is less than your current rent, home ownership comes with a lot of extra bills. You may not have considered the cost of yearly real estate taxes, insurance, repairs, and maintenance.  If your water heater dies as a renter, your landlord is required to replace it.  As a homeowner, you’re looking at the time and expense of getting it replaced yourself.
  2. Less Flexibility: Rental leases often include provisions for leaving before the termination of the lease.  So, if you’ve decide to accept a job offer in Paris, while you might lose some money in security deposits, you can sever your connection relatively easily. That’s not the case with a mortgage.  You are responsible for the payment on the mortgage whether you live in your home, rent it out while you’re in Paris or leave it vacant. Buying [city] real estate is a serious, long-term commitment.
  3. Less Time: With most apartments, someone else is raking the leaves, shoveling the snow, mowing the lawn, and replacing that broken water heater.  As a homeowner, those duties would fall to you or someone you hire to tend to those issues.

Whether you’re ready to stop renting and buy a home or you need more information before taking the plunge, I can help. Give me a call today Charles D’Alessandro Your Brooklyn real estate agent with Fillmore Real Estate at 718/253-9600 ext 206 or email me at [email protected]

How to Sell Haunted Brooklyn Real Estate

Tuesday, October 25th, 2011

How to Sell a Haunted Brooklyn House

With Halloween right around the corner, you’re probably planning costumes, decorating for fall and maybe becoming aware of eerie home happenings that you wouldn’t normally notice. While the prospect of living in a haunted home could be scary to some, the idea of selling spooked Brooklyn real estate might be even more horrifying!

Rumored ghosts and past suspicious incidents could result in your home being moved from buyers’ purchase lists to their black lists. If you or your neighbors believe your home is haunted, take the following ghost-busting tactics into consideration before you put it on the market.

Follow the law – If you think your home is haunted, consult with a Brooklyn real estate agent to ensure you’re following the law. Every state’s legal procedures are different. You could be obligated to notify potential buyers or face legal ramifications down the road — or you may not have to utter a word.

  • Squash the rumors – If you don’t think your home is haunted but others do, it falls into the category of stigmatized property, which includes all houses with perceived problems. Talk openly and lightheartedly about the rumored problems, and put an end to scary stories. Also, host a ton of open houses so buyers can experience the home’s aura for themselves.
  • Seek out professional haunting help – Believe it or not, some mediums make a living from clearing houses of negative energy, ghosts or whatever you want to call the eerie feeling people get inside your home. If your Brooklyn real estate agent can tout that you’ve had your home cleansed of negative energy by professionals, you might be one step closer to a closing date.
  • Reduce and be rid – You might just have to bite the bullet and reduce the price drastically. The goal is to entice an investor who isn’t planning on actually living in the home, but has other plans for it.

If the cat’s out of the bag about your home for sale being haunted, please call me at Charles D’Alessandro Your Brooklyn real estate agent with Fillmore Real Estate at 718/253-9600 ext 206 or email me at [email protected], for more ghost-busting information.

FHFA Announces Expansion of Program for Underwater Homeowners

Monday, October 24th, 2011
by Jann Swanson
FHFA Announces Expansion of Program for Underwater Homeowners
Oct 24 2011, 11:25AM

In advance of a speech in Nevada later today in which President Obama is expected to expand on the initiative, the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) has announced major changes to the Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP).  FHFA unveiled what is essentially a widening of HARP to reach more borrowers in another effort to reverse the continuing flood of delinquent mortgages heading down the pipeline to foreclosure.

HARP is unique among programs designed to assist distressed borrowers in that it is intended to help those who are current on their mortgages but underwater, that is who owe more on their mortgages than the current market value of their homes.  Several studies have identified these borrowers as being likely to strategically default on or walk away from their mortgages.   Although Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the two government sponsored enterprises (GSEs) which are under FHFA conservatorship, have assisted about 9 million homeowners to refinance into lower-cost mortgages over the last few years, only about 10 percent of those were aided through HARP.  HARP, like the other major government foreclosure prevention initiative HAMP, the Home Affordable Modification Program, has been impeded by a lack of enthusiasm among lenders and servicers integral to the programs’ success.  In the case of HARP, the lenders objected to the possibility they might have to buy back delinquent loans if they weren’t scrupulously underwritten.  They thus tended to cherry pick the best loans which in turn limited borrowers from refinancing with other than their current lenders.

The current HARP limits the loan-to-value (LTV) ratio for a new loan to 125 percent (the program originally had a limit of 105 percent).  This effectively eliminates the most underwater homeowners and even leaves whole states, such as Nevada where large percentages of homeowners have negative equity above that amount, out of the program.

While regulations and guidance for the plan won’t be finalized for several weeks, relevant changes to HARP that were announced today include:

  • Removing the current 125 percent loan-to-value ceiling on refinanced mortgages;
  • Waiving risk-based fees on borrowers who take shorter term mortgages and reducing those fees for others;
  • Eliminating the need for a new property appraisal where there is a reliable AVM (automated valuation model) estimate provided by the GSEs;
  • Eliminating certain representations and warranties required of lenders to obtain the GSE guarantee. This will protect lenders from many of the buy-back requirements they face under current guidelines.
  • Extending availability of the program through the end of 2013.

FHFA said the changes to HARP were made with input from lenders, mortgage insurers, and other industry participants.  According to The Wall Street Journal, among the concessions made by the industry are agreements from private mortgage insurers to facilitate the transfer of existing mortgage insurance coverage and from most of the major lenders to ease the process of subordinating existing second mortgages to the new loans.

The changes in the program may double the number of borrowers using HARP according to some estimates, but still will serve only those borrowers who are current in their loans and who have loans owned or guaranteed by one of the GSE’s that were delivered to Fannie or Freddie prior to July 2009.  Thus it will impact only a small percentage of distressed borrowers in the country.

“We know that there are many homeowners who are eligible to refinance under HARP and those are the borrowers we want to reach,” said FHFA Acting Director Edward J. DeMarco. “Building on the industry’s experience with HARP over the last two years, we have identified several changes that will make the program accessible to more borrowers with mortgages owned or guaranteed by the Enterprises. Our goal in pursuing these changes is to create refinancing opportunities for these borrowers, while reducing risk for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and bringing a measure of stability to housing markets.”

Charles E. “Ed” Haldeman, Jr., Chief Executive Officer of Freddie Mac released the following statement on the program.  “This new phase of the Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP) will help reach more borrowers with negative equity so they can refinance into new Freddie Mac mortgages at today’s historically low-rates. These changes mark another step on the road to recovery for the nation’s housing market and underscore Freddie Mac’s vital role in making affordable mortgage financing available to America’s homeowners and future homebuyers.”

Find a Brooklyn Real Estate Agent with Social Media Experience

Sunday, October 23rd, 2011

Flyers, open houses and stagnant real estate websites don’t cut it anymore. Property buyers and sellers are more technologically savvy than they’ve ever been, and they rely on social media’s instant communication forums for information, advice, suggestions and reviews to guide their decision-making processes.

Real estate agents’ roles within the industry have evolved — they’re no longer just gatekeepers.  Now, they need to be interpreters between their clients and the constant stream of social media information.

To determine if a  Brooklyn  real estate agent is socially savvy online, ask the following questions:

Strategy – Before signing a listing agreement with an agent, find out what marketing strategies he or she usually implements. Is he or she using any social media platforms to promote their properties or gather feedback from buyers?

  • Following – Ask about how many people and organizations he or she reaches on a regular basis. The number of Facebook “Likes” or Twitter followers is a direct correlation to how many people could be exposed to your Brooklyn home for sale.
  • Activity – Ask how often he or she updates and posts on social media sites. Having 2,000 followers means nothing if the agent isn’t active on the social media site. A constant flow of information and communication is essential to effectively promote a property. If he or she just has a stagnant Facebook page with a biography on it, that doesn’t benefit you in any way.

From sending out tweets about houses for sale to posting new listings on Facebook walls, social media platforms are one of the quickest and most targeted ways to reach potential buyers. To achieve your real estate goals, seek out a Brooklyn real estate agent who uses social media as a tool to build loyal followers and promote properties.

If you’re looking for a Brooklyn real estate agent who successfully uses social media as a marketing tool, call me at (718) 253-9600 ext 206 or email me at [email protected]

Fall Maintenance Checklist for Your Brooklyn Home

Thursday, October 20th, 2011


The change of seasons is always a good time to pay attention to home maintenance. Here are some tips to get your Brooklyn home ready for winter.

ü      Put away garden hoses and turn off outdoor spigots. If you don’t, the first hard freeze could cause your hoses to burst, or even worse, freeze the water in outdoor pipes. This is a headache you can easily avoid.

ü      Clean out gutters. After the leaves have fallen is a great time to do it. While you’re at it, consider installing downspout extensions, which are inexpensive and easy to install.

ü      Pick up all outdoor extension cords and check all cords for potentially dangerous nicks or frayed spots. Store extension cords neatly in the garage or basement. Extension cords are for temporary use only.

ü      Find those air leaks. To find leaks in your Brooklyn home, turn on all of the exhaust fans in the house (including any kitchen fans that vent outside), and put the clothes dryer on the air dry setting. Then, light an incense stick. Use the smoke to detect drafts around windows, doors, and other gaps so you know where to caulk.

ü      Check around the furnace. Before you turn it on, make sure no flammables (like paint, turpentine and sealants) are being stored near the furnace. These create a fire hazard. While you’re there, go ahead and change the filter before heating season.

ü      Clean the filter in the hood of your kitchen range. You can just throw it in the dishwasher, and it’ll be as good as new.

ü      Check the toilet. Put some food coloring in the toilet tank. If the water in the toilet bowl changes color without flushing, your toilet is leaking and probably needs a new flapper or other seal.

For more handy tips like these for your Brooklyn home, subscribe to my blog. It’s free!

What to do with those Outdated Items in your Brooklyn Home

Sunday, October 16th, 2011

What to do with those Outdated Items in your Brooklyn Home

If your Brooklyn home is starting to look like a landfill, you’re not alone. You’d like to get rid of all the old stuff you don’t use anymore, but you want to be responsible and don’t know where to take it, right?

Here are some of the most common obsolete items and ideas on what to do with them.

·        Technotrash: This is computer-related waste, VHS tapes, cassette tapes, CDs, DVDs and other obsolete accessories.  A company called GreenDisk can handle all your technotrash disposal needs by safely and securely destroying your old data, recovering reusable components, and recycling all of the rest of your accumulated technotrash.

  • Old electronics: Also known as e-waste, this includes old appliances, TVs and monitors that contain valuable metals that can be recycled, along with other hazardous heavy metals that need to be handled responsibly. Many communities sponsor an E-waste Day, when everyone can bring their old appliances in for safe disposal. Some retailers have recycling programs where you can earn gift cards by trading in old electronics.
  • Shoes: Don’t trash those outdated shoes or ones you just don’t wear anymore. Soles4Souls is a charity that wants all gently-worn shoes. You can find drop-off locations near your Brooklyn home. The shoes will be sent to people in need around the world.
  • Old medicines: If you have medications that are past their expiration date or that you don’t want or need any longer, don’t flush them. Drugs are becoming a serious problem in water supplies and groundwater.  You can now buy a postage-paid envelope to responsibly dispose of many prescriptions and over-the-counter drugs. The Dispose My Meds program is an online resource to help you find local pharmacies that will take back expired or unwanted drugs.

Now that you know where to take your old obsolete stuff, you’re well on your way to getting your Brooklyn home clean and de-cluttered. If your next step is to get it on the market, I can help with that too! Contact me call today Charles D’Alessandro Your Brooklyn real estate agent with Fillmore Real Estate at 718/253-9600 ext 206 or email me at [email protected],

3 Tips to Get Short Sale Offers on Your Brooklyn Home Accepted by Your Lender

Wednesday, October 12th, 2011


When a buyer makes a short sale offer on your Brooklyn home, it’s impossible to know for sure if the offer will be accepted by the lender.  Even when you’ve negotiated the offer with the buyer and come to an agreement that meets both of your needs, there’s still no guarantee that the lender will say yes to the short sale.

Here are three tips to help get short sale offers on your Brooklyn home accepted by the lender:

  1. Convince the lender that you have a legitimate hardship. Submit a hardship letter, pay stubs, bank statements, monthly budget and profit and loss statement to demonstrate that you cannot make your monthly payments and have no disposable income. Here are examples of hardships to mention in your letter:
    1. lost your job
    2. reduced hours/pay at current job
    3. have to move more than 75 miles from home to get a new job
    4. death of a borrower
    5. divorce
    6. onset of a disabling illness
  1. Negotiate with the buyer to exclude terms and contingencies that complicate the sale. Lenders do not like to accept short sales when they include time contingencies or when the short sale is contingent on the sale of another home.

  1. Submit paperwork as a complete package. Ask your lender for a list of all documents needed. Fill out the paperwork and collect all other documents required. Make copies of everything. Put together a complete package, including all the documents your lender requested, and only then send the entire package to your lender. If the lender later tells you they can’t find a particular document, don’t waste your time arguing about it, just resend the information – it’s easy to do because you already have copies prepared!

If you’d like more information on the possibility of selling your Brooklyn home as a short sale, give me a call today Charles D’Alessandro Your Brooklyn real estate agent with Fillmore Real Estate at 718/253-9600 ext 206 or email me at [email protected],