Archive for April, 2021

Watch For Red Flags During Your Brooklyn Home Search

Thursday, April 15th, 2021

Unhappy homeowner doing house repair

When you begin your Brooklyn home search, you are full of excitement. You imagine yourself comfortably settled into your new home. The thrill of knowing you have achieved the American dream of homeownership is exhilarating.

You have found the home with the right number of bedrooms, baths, and a backyard that will be able to host a professional football game. You have mentally placed your furniture in every room of the house. It is understandable that you would be excited.

Purchasing a home is one of the most significant investments you will make. Protect your investment by watching for red flags along the way to ensure you are investing wisely.

It is easy to disregard some issues when your desire to own the home is at its peak level. I often hear buyers say, “that isn’t a big deal. We can take care of it after we move in.”

Before you dismiss a potential red flag, be sure you know what is involved. The issue may seem easy to remedy but have a more costly underlying problem. Unless you are an experienced contractor, it may be more than you can handle on your own. Hiring professionals to handle these large jobs can eat into your savings very quickly.

Red flags may arise in the home, the yard, or the neighborhood. Familiarize yourself with the area to learn what is happening in the community as an essential step in your Brooklyn home search.

Now is not a time to ditch your homework. As concerns arise, be sure to research to get to the bottom of the issue. You may need to have the seller clarify something, check with the local police department for crime statistics, or visit city hall to check on a building permit.

The interior of the home is usually the first place you investigate on your Brooklyn home search. You may find these red flags on your initial visit to the house.
  1. Doors that won’t close can be an indication that the framing has shifted. Sometimes homeowners will trim doors to close correctly but not fix the problem that caused the shifting in the first place. Ask the seller if they ever had a professional evaluate the situation.
  2. You may see or smell mold in areas of the home. All mold isn’t toxic, but it needs remediated. Mold needs moisture to grow. An undetected leak may be creating the issue. Check under sinks, around windows, and basements or crawl spaces for any indications of a leak.
  3. Water stains can also indicate a leak somewhere. Even if the leak hasn’t caused mold to grow, a leak can cause wood to rot over time. 
  4. A do-it-yourself addition may be a potential problem. Many homeowners can handle repairs around the home, but adding a structure is not a job for an unskilled homeowner. Check to see that the homeowner obtained the proper permits and the municipality performed any required inspections during the building process.
  5. Foundation cracks can be normal settling, or they can be a serious foundation issue. Look for cracks that seem to be patched or are wider than a ½ inch. It would be wise to have a foundation contractor or structural engineer look if you have concerns.
  6. Be wary of the strong smell of air fresheners. Is the homeowner trying to camouflage something? Is the carpet smelling of pet urine or cigarette smoke? Are there air fresheners in every room? 
  7. Are the heating and air conditioning systems aging? The average life of a furnace is 15-18 years, and the average life of an A/C unit is 10-12 years. Although the unit may be functioning, it may not have a long useful life and may be less efficient.
  8. Sloping floors could relate to a foundation issue. There may be some normal settling that occurs as the home ages. However, a more serious structural problem could result in a costly repair.
  9. Sagging ceilings can be the result of roof leaks or structural issues. You should investigate the cause of the problem before purchasing the home. 
  10. Fresh paint where it would seem to be out of place. It isn’t unusual for the seller to paint a room to neutralize their bold color choices. If the painting seems localized to one wall or spot on a wall, it should be questioned. For instance, the seller may try to hide a water stain by spot painting that area only.
  11. Active insect infestations can seem harmless and easily remedied with a phone call to your local exterminator. But, some types of wood-boring insects like termites and carpenter bees can do some serious damage to the foundation, walls, or floors of the home.
  12. Incomplete disclosures can be an indication of issues. Disclosures can be lengthy. If there are many questions left unanswered, be sure to get clarification from the sellers.

Your home inspector will catch most of these red flags during the home inspection. If you see something concerning you should ask the inspector to take a closer look. The cost of the home inspection is well worth the peace of mind you will receive. 

You may also uncover some red flags outside of the home.
  1. Lack of attic ventilation can be a severe issue. Intake vents should be visible under the roof eaves, and exhaust vents should be located along the roof’s ridge. An attic needs to be appropriately vented to prevent heat build-up in the summer that can damage the roof decking or shingles.
  2. The condition of the roof shingles can indicate a future replacement which is a major ticket item. If the shingles are curled, missing, or you can see exposed nail heads, the roof may need to be replaced sooner than later.
  3. Improper drainage in the yard can cause standing water. If the water puddles around the foundation, it can cause some issues. There should be a minimum of a 2 percent grade from the house. The puddles in the yard can cause soil erosion, not to mention a real mess if you have pets to let outside.

A home inspector will check the exterior of the home, but if it isn’t a rainy day, they may not see there is an issue with standing water. (I like showing homes on rainy days because you can learn a lot about the yard and foundation when it is raining.)

Some red flags are revealed before you even visit the home through the marketing of the property.
  1. Terms in the property description referring to “as-is condition,” “needs TLC,” or “fixer-upper” can mean the seller knows there are problems and doesn’t want to deal with them. When you purchase a home under these terms, you are assuming the cost for repairs. A home inspection would still be a good idea to determine the extent of the issues and whether or not you should purchase the home.
  2. In our most recent real estate market, if the home has been on the market for an extended time, there may be an issue with the house. It could also be that the seller set their initial asking price too high, and there is nothing physically wrong with the house. Buyers become skeptical when a home doesn’t sell in the average marketing time.
  3. When the house is priced below other homes in the neighborhood, you might have some concern. Ask questions and do your research on a bargain-basement-priced home. Don’t waive inspections on a home that may have some serious issues.
  4. No interior pictures on the property listing can be a red flag. The listing agent can easily take photos with their smartphones instead of professional photos. If a home is on the market for a week or longer without interior photos, I would want to know why.
  5. Buying directly from a For Sale By Owner sounds like it may save you money. Having the proper representation during your Brookly home search can save you money. A real estate transaction can be complex. Having an experienced professional guiding you through the steps is priceless. 
The final place to look for red flags is neighborhood and municipality.
  1. Have a lot of homes recently sold or are for sale in the neighborhood? That could indicate a problem such as rising crime rates, increased commercial spaces, or proposed environmental concerns such as a landfill. 
  2. If the home is advertised in an “up and coming” neighborhood, it may be a good selling point, or it could mean you’d be dealing with the inconvenience of development while living there. Find out precisely what “up and coming” means for this neighborhood.
  3. Economic factors can be a red flag that something is happening in the area. Are taxes increasing? Are businesses moving out of the area? Have there been recent zoning changes that will affect the neighborhood?
  4. The area schools can affect the value of your home. Don’t dismiss the local school’s reputation and statistics if you don’t have children who would be attending. It may affect you if you are going to sell in the future.

Discover.com has an excellent guide to researching a neighborhood before you buy. You can read it here.

Awareness of possible red flags will allow you to begin your Brooklyn home search with confidence. You will also have a team of professionals helping you along the way. Your real estate professional, home inspector, lender, title company, and the closing attorney will work with you to make a wise investment. You can read more about the role of each of these team players in this previous blog post.

Contact me, Charles D’Alessandro, your Brooklyn Real Estate Agent with Fillmore Real Estate. As a Brooklyn real estate agent with over 30 years of experience, I understand the local market, and can help you with your Brooklyn home search.
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'Allesandro

Considerations When Buying A Brooklyn Home

Friday, April 2nd, 2021

Couple looking at houses on laptop

Are you considering buying a Brooklyn home this year? There are many considerations you will need to work through before you are ready to purchase.

First, you need to decide whether purchasing a home is the best move for you at this time. Financially, buying a home can be a brilliant decision, but there are times when it doesn’t make sense. 

There are many reasons why you may decide to purchase a home. It may be the right time in your life – both financially and personally – and you may have found a home you love offered at the right price. 

Before you start your home search, you need to work with a lender. The lender will pre-qualify you for a mortgage. Your approval is determined by your collective income, financial assets, and debt. Your credit score and debt to income ratio are crucial elements to obtaining a mortgage. This review will help the lender determine the maximum loan amount they can provide to you.

Once you decide if you can afford to purchase a home, you should consider the area.

  • Is the location easily accessible for your needs? 
  • Which neighborhood would you prefer? 
  • What are the area amenities? 
  • Do you prefer a walkable neighborhood? 
  • Is there access to public transportation?

After determining your location preferences, you will need to select your dream Brooklyn home’s desired features.

  • Do you prefer a single-family home or condo?
  • Would you like a one-story or two-story home?
  • How many bedrooms and bathrooms do you need?
  • What type of parking do you prefer?
  • What size yard would you like?
  • How much living space do you need?

When you are ready to start looking for a Brooklyn home, you will need to find a real estate professional who can guide you through the process. We are experiencing an interesting market right now, and having an experienced professional working on your behalf is a definite advantage.

Before buying your Brooklyn home, interview more than one real estate agent. Some questions you should ask hiring are:

  • How long have they been a real estate agent?
  • Do they work full-time or part-time?
  • What is their track record?
  • Do they work in the areas you would like to purchase?
  • How do you help buyers compete in this market?

Now you can begin your home search. Communicate with your real estate agent your needs and wants for your new Brooklyn home. Be sure to provide your agent with honest feedback after each home you view. This information can help your real estate agent zone in on the right home for you.

When you’re ready to negotiate a price with a seller, work with your real estate agent to understand how to best structure an offer that will be intriguing to the seller. Be sure to review the neighborhood’s current sales prices to determine a fair sales price for the home. 

When buying a Brooklyn home, you’ll want to get the best value for your money, which happens during the negotiation phase with the seller. By conducting your research and consulting the realtor, you can be sure to optimize the money you’re spending.

Some tips for creating a good offer in the current market would include:

  • Include your pre-approval letter from your lender with your offer.
  • You may only have one chance, so present your best offer.
  • Consider an above-average earnest money deposit to show your sincerity in purchasing the home.
  • Shorten inspection periods if possible.
  • Include the seller’s preferred closing date.
  • Don’t ask the seller to pay fees that are outside ordinary seller expenses.
  • Make your offer as clean and uncomplicated as possible.

We have experienced multiple offers on homes, causing the infamous “bidding wars.” Negotiating in a multiple offer situation can be an emotional time for home buyers. Prepare yourself in advance. Before entering into the “bidding war,” you should determine the highest price you are willing to offer on the home. Setting a not-to-exceed number will help you make better decisions in the heat of the moment.

Review the comparable sales in the area to see the sales prices of similar homes.

Be sure you compare apples to apples; similar square footage, condition, bedrooms, baths, etc. Your real estate agent can help you access the most current information.

Take into consideration how long the home has been on the market. If the house has been on the market for some time, offering a lower price may be a reasonable tactic. If the home has just hit the market, an offer below asking may not interest the seller.

Another determination to keep in mind when determining your maximum offer price is the condition of the home.

Updated homes in good repair will receive higher offers than outdated homes. When evaluating the home’s condition, consider the home’s major components like the roof, foundation, plumbing, electrical, and HVAC system. Will any of these high ticket items need to be addressed sooner rather than later?

Home inspections can also be an area to negotiate.

Learn more about home inspections here. As mentioned previously, you may want to shorten the time frames if possible. The availability of inspectors would need to be confirmed. You may also like to express to the seller you are willing to accept any necessary repair costs to a maximum amount. If the inspections unveiled items that exceeded that amount, you would negotiate with the seller for repairs.

Your lender will most likely require an appraisal on the home.

Appraisers use the most current sales to make their determination of value. In some instances, the appraisal has come in lower than the sales price. Because the demand for homes exceeds the existing inventory of homes, this isn’t surprising. However, you will need to decide if you want to move forward with the purchase if the appraisal comes in low. You may need to put additional cash down to be able to close with a lower appraisal. You would need to consult with your lender to decide how to handle this situation if it arises.

One last thought to ponder when buying a Brooklyn home would be the closing date.

If the seller would need additional time to move, would you be willing to allow them the extra time? It may mean you would need to make some temporary housing arrangements for yourself. But will that be worth it to purchase the Brooklyn home of your dreams?

Making these decisions before entering negotiations will help prevent you from getting caught up in the emotions of winning the “bidding war.” Many buyers are surprised by how emotional this process can become. Entering the negotiation phase with a clear plan will allow you to make the right decisions as necessary.

After the seller receives your offer, the seller will make one of these 3 decisions:

  • Accept your offer.
  • Counter your offer.
  • Reject your offer.

Waiting for a response from the seller can put you on edge. Knowing that you have done your homework to draft the best offer you are willing to make for the property should be comforting. 

If the seller counters your offer, you will have the opportunity to negotiate the terms. Being prepared for the negotiations will allow you to make the best decisions.

When your offer is accepted, you will enter the closing phase. Read this blog post to find out more about the closing process.

In these unprecedented times, you need a professional, experienced real estate agent in your corner.

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 understand the local market and have helped many when buying a Brooklyn home.

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'Allesandro