Archive for the ‘Buying Real Estate’ Category

Is Now the Best Time to Consider Purchasing a Home

Wednesday, April 15th, 2020
Is this spring really the best time to purchase a home?

According to real estate experts, springtime is the best time to purchase a home. But this year, spring is different. It is anything but typical or ordinary. Many real estate agents are now working remotely and conducting most of their business online. And buyer and seller consultations are done virtually. But many home shoppers are wondering if now is really the best time to consider purchasing a home.

Coronavirus or Not, Always Weigh the Factors

Social distancing because of the coronavirus is attempting to cripple our economy in many ways. And to offset the negative effects this virus is having, the FED lowered interest rates significantly. But even as wonderful as that is, it’s still wise to weigh all the factors, negative and positive, before purchasing a home.

Exercise Caution When Purchasing a Home Now

It makes sense to pay less to borrow money, of course. And you should always exercise caution before taking on a mortgage. But since the possibility of a recession is at hand, it’s even more important that you purchase a home you can truly afford.

Caution: Can You Really Afford the Monthly Payment?

Amanda Abella, millennial business coach and author of Make Money Your Honey: A Spirited Entrepreneur’s Guide to Having a Love Affair with Work & Money says, “Assuming you can afford a mortgage and the other costs involved and your job is not in danger of being cut, then yes. Smart investors and people who are financially savvy know these times are ridden with opportunity because the general public is going to contract. But every individual situation is different. Unless you’re sitting on pretty hefty savings and know your industry won’t be impacted by what’s going on, then you should err on the side of caution.”

Amanda made two valid points.

1. “Assuming you can afford a mortgage and the other costs involved …”

With or without all that dealing with the cornonavirus has thrust upon us, low interest rates don’t have much to do with all of the costs associated with purchasing a home. There are property taxes, homeowner’s insurance, and closing costs, with every home purchase. The closing costs alone can cost you anywhere from one to five percent of the closing price. You must calculate your home-buying budget accurately, beyond the monthly mortgage payment alone.

2. “ … and your job is not in danger of being cut …”

Caution: Can You Secure a Mortgage?

Mortgage rates are low, but they’re not at zero percent. Here’s what Drew DeWitt, senior vice president of investments for Ivy Equities, a Greenwich, Connecticut-based real estate private equity firm has to say.

“Lower interest rates mean lower monthly mortgage payments on your home loan; therefore, you technically can pay more since your monthly costs are lower. However, it also means that there is greater risk in the economy in general. The FED drops rates to spur growth when there is risk of unemployment and people not being able to make their monthly mortgage payments. As a result, banks will tighten their lending standards, and it may be harder to actually secure a mortgage despite the lower rates. This is where people get confused.”

Caution: Are You Taking Logistic Difficulties into Consideration?

Danielle Lurie, a licensed real estate sales person with Compass sheds perspective on logistical issues that also need consideration. There are government agencies, such as notaries and title offices, which are now closed.

“Even if you could buy a home at a steal right now, most buyers would wish to physically go and see the property, bring a home inspector to assess the property, and—assuming you get an accepted offer and arrive at the virtual closing table—you will need to hire movers to move into the property. Depending on what amount of time is needed to contain this virus, those three things are all difficult if not impossible to do right now.”

Look for Win-Win Opportunities

If you’re determined to buy a home now, and you’re willing to walk through homes virtually instead of the traditional way, there is opportunity for a great deal out there. Some agents say now is the best buyer’s market they’ve ever seen!

According to Homelight’s recent poll of 600 top real estate agents across the country, you will have to work hard to find a great deal. Their poll found that “22% of respondents say sellers are taking their homes off the market in response to coronavirus concerns.” And there were reports of a housing shortage before life as we knew it changed, too.

Unmotivated and uncommitted buyers have dropped off which means less competition for you as a buyer. And that’s a good thing. With fewer home buyers out there looking, you have less competition to contend with. But the window of opportunity for buyers won’t stay open like it is right now forever.

Seize the Opportunity While Minimizing Your Risk

Once the quarantine guidelines are lifted, a strong rebound will likely follow the soft real estate market we’re now seeing. And the high demand of a strong rebound could push home prices up. And as Roger Ma, a New York-based financial planner and owner of lifelaidout, says, “Recession or not, it’s impossible to time the market, whether for buying stock or buying real estate.”

Yes, current market conditions offer incredible opportunities for you as a homebuyer since you can lock in a historically-low interest rate. But rates are actually going up, and quickly, too! Why? Because so many people are refinancing.

Prepare to Buy a Home Now

So, if you’re still employed, have the necessary resources, and want to take advantage of the low interest rate opportunities, do these things now:

1. Start browsing online

2. Get yourself familiar with the market

3. Look through your finances and prepare for the time when you are ready to buy

4. If you’ve already found your dream home, put in your offer and lock in your rate

5. Get pre-approved for a mortgage

Confused About Purchasing a Home Now?

Do you need help with your decision about purchasing a home now? Sellers are selling. Interest rates are low. And there are great deals to be had. Right now you can own a home for less per month than you can rent in most areas. But is now really the best time to consider purchasing a home?

Contact me, Charles D’Alessandroyour Brooklyn Real Estate Agent with Fillmore Real Estate. I can help you weigh economic concerns and help you determine if now is a good time for you to consider purchasing a home.

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

What You Need to Know About Reverse Mortgages

Sunday, March 15th, 2020
About reverse mortgages
Before you sign any papers, it’s very important that you understand everything you need to know about Reverse Mortgages.

Seniors, are you having trouble getting through retirement? Have you’ve heard about Reverse Mortgages and how other seniors have pulled the equity out of their homes to help them get through retirement? Does all this Reverse Mortgage information confuse you?

It’s important to understand what a Reverse Mortgage is as well as the benefits and risks of this type of loan before you sign any papers. Banks offer information on these types of loans, but you may find attending a workshop to be more helpful.

What Is It?

Investopedia.com defines a reverse mortgage as “a loan. A homeowner who is 62 or older and has considerable home equity can borrow against the value of their home and receive funds as a lump sum, fixed monthly payment or line of credit. Unlike a forward mortgage – the type used to buy a home – a reverse mortgage doesn’t require the homeowner to make any loan payments.

”Instead, the entire loan balance becomes due and payable when the borrower dies, moves away permanently or sells the home. Federal regulations require lenders to structure the transaction so the loan amount doesn’t exceed the home’s value and the borrower or borrower’s estate won’t be held responsible for paying the difference if the loan balance does become larger than the home’s value. One way this could happen is through a drop in the home’s market value; another is if the borrower lives a long time.”

How Do Reverse Mortgages Work?

When you take out a reverse mortgage loan, you basically pull out the equity you have in your home to help you through retirement. You can choose to take out that equity in one of two ways:

  • One lump sum
  • Monthly payments

The loan does not need to be paid back until you either sell your home or stop living in it.

Your homeowner’s insurance needs to be maintained and the taxes on your home paid.

If you choose to, you can make payments on your reverse mortgage. But these payments are not required.

What Benefits Does a Reverse Mortgage Offer Seniors?

Most people who are over the age of 62 have half of their net worth tied up in their homes. A Reverse Mortgage allows you to cash out your equity when you need it while still living in your home. This is the most appealing feature of this type of loan. With a Reverse Mortgage, it’s quite possible to live comfortably in retirement.

Are There Risks Involved?

This all sounds great, but are there risks involved? Yes. A Reverse Mortgage puts your home at risk because it limits the amount of money you can pass on to your children when you die. How?

  1. When you die and your children inherit your home, they must either pay off the mortgage themselves or sell the property to pay off the loan.
  2. If you can no longer live independently in your home and must move into a nursing home, the reverse mortgage must be paid off. This usually means you must sell your home.
  3. The interest rates on a Reverse Mortgage loan may be high depending on your credit.
  4. If you put your home up as collateral and then borrow money against your home, you risk losing it.

Also, be aware of other possibly risky scenarios. For example, if you sign the reverse mortgage and go into a nursing home while your spouse lives in the home, the terms state the loan must be paid back. This means your spouse may no longer have a home to live in.

Risks can be reduced by limiting the amount you borrow on the loan. If the loan is smaller than the total equity, you can sell the home and still have enough to buy a smaller place live.

And since the risks could involve and affect your children greatly, talk with them when you take out a reverse mortgage.

Knowing About Reverse Mortgages

Maintaining your independence and solving a cash flow problem if your retirement benefits don’t cover your expenses is ideal. So carefully review all available information as well as the terms on a Reverse Mortgage. And once you understand the benefits as well as the risks of Reverse Mortgages, you can decide whether or not it’s good for you.

Many government agencies caution seniors to review the terms and consider all their options before taking out a Reverse Mortgage.

Are you confused about Reverse Mortgages? Contact me, Charles D’Alessandroyour Brooklyn Real Estate Agent with Fillmore Real Estate with your questions. I can help. Call (718) 253-9600 ext. 206 or email [email protected] today.


Charles D'Alessandro

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

How Much Should You Offer for a Fixer-Upper?

Wednesday, January 15th, 2020
Fixer-upper
Don’t make an offer on a fixer-upper until you’ve counted the cost of the renovations it needs first!

Are you thinking about buying a fixer-upper?

Can you really afford to buy it and fix it up, too?

How much will fixing it up really cost you?

These are key questions that need to be answered. It’s extremely important that you assess the real cost before you buy it. For without that information, you won’t know how much to offer for a fixer-upper.

But don’t fret about it. These seven steps will help you figure that out.

Step 1 – Determine What You Can Honestly Do Without Help

We all do it. We watch our favorite TV shows and YouTube videos and think we can do it all. All those home improvement pros make every project look super easy to do. But in reality, it just ain’t so.

Take that “simple” plumbing project you tackled. Remember it? How many times did you have to run to the hardware store to purchase something else that you needed to complete the job?

No, moving a staircase or even bringing wiring up to code requires much more time or skill than most folks can tout. They’re not a fix-it job like that leaky little toilet valve was.

So, since every project always takes longer than you think it will be brutally honest with yourself. Are you really able to DIY that project? Do you even want to do it yourself? And are you willing to accept the less-than-professional results that you could end up with? Less-than-professional results won’t increase the value of the home you’re working on.

Be Wise – Leave It to a Professional

Some fixes need to be left to the professionals. Remodels or updates can be dangerous when you aren’t trained or certified to do them, like electrical work, for example.

And one more thing. Will you be stressed out while you live in a demolished house month after month? You’ll most likely have time to complete home projects on the weekends only.

Step 2 – Determine the Cost of All Renovations and Then Some

Here’s a great tip! Ask your contractor to do a walk-through in the house you want to purchase and fix up. Then he can give you a written estimate on the cost of all he needs to do to bring the home up to par.

If you decide you can do the work yourself, price all the supplies needed for every renovation and upgrade.

And, whether you hire a contractor or choose to do the work yourself, tack on an additional 10 to 20 percent to the cost total. This prepares you for the surprise costs that inevitably pop up when fixing up a house.

Step 3 – Factor in Time, Costs, and Aggravation for Getting Permits

It’s a fact. Doing a home renovation without a permit saves money. But when it comes to selling the home you renovate, you could be asking for trouble. Play it safe. Ask your local officials whether or not you need a permit for the work you’re going to do. Be sure you ask about the cost of the permit you need, too.

If you decide to go with a contractor, they can make arrangements for the permits you’ll need. But if you decide you want to get the permits yourself, know this: getting permits can be time-consuming and frustrating. How? Before home inspectors give you the necessary permit for a particular renovation, they can force you to do additional work or change the way you want to do a project. Yeah …

Step 4 – Budget for Structural Work on the Fixer-Upper

Does the fixer-upper you’re looking to buy need major structural work done to it? Do a double-check. If it does, you’ll need to hire a structural engineer.

They charge $100 to $236 per hour just to inspect the house. But before you put in an offer, you’ll be confident all structural problems have been uncovered and conservatively budgeted for to the fullest extent.

Before you commit to buying a home with structural problems, get written estimates for the repairs.

A home that needs major structural work should be offered with a steep discount. So don’t commit to the purchase of a fixer-upper with structural problems without these three things:

  • Knowledge of the full extent of the problem
  • The certainty that the problem can be fixed
  • A binding written estimate for the cost of the repairs

Step 5 – Make Sure You Have Enough Funds Available to Fix a Fixer-Upper

Before you make an offer, do this:

  • Make sure you have enough money for a downpayment, closing costs, and all necessary repairs
  • If you’re going to fund the renovations with a home equity or home improvement loan, get pre-approved for both loans. Then make sure the deal is contingent on getting both the home equity loan and the home improvement loan. This safeguards you from being forced to close the sale when you have no loan to fix the house.

Have You Looked into an FHA Section 203(k) Program?

You might want to take a look into the Federal Housing Administration’s Section 203(k) program. It’s designed to help homeowners who are purchasing or refinancing a home that needs rehabilitation.

The FHA Section 203(k) program bundles purchase/refinance and rehabilitation costs into one monthly mortgage payment. But in order to qualify for this type of loan, the total value of the property must fall within the FHA mortgage limit for your area.

A 203(k) program is streamlined and much simpler to obtain than a standard 203(k) is. And it provides an additional amount for rehabilitation, up to $35,000, on top of an existing mortgage. It’s worth looking into, for sure.

Step 6 – Determine a Fair Purchase Price to Offer

Market value

This step isn’t a hard one. Just take the fair market value of the property and subtract the upgrade and repair costs. The fair market value of the fixer-upper is what it would be worth if it were in good condition with up-to-date remodels.

Let’s say the fixer-upper you’re considering has outdated design features such as:

  • Dark wood paneling
  • Beige walls
  • Popcorn ceilings
  • Pastel fixtures
  • Laminate countertops
  • Shiny gold fittings
  • Avocado green appliances
  • Built-in media cabinets
  • Chintz wallpaper
  • Millennial pink everything
  • Tile counters
  • Linoleum floors
  • Wallpaper border

And it has high levels of radon in the basement.

How to Determine a Fair Market Price

A comparison house or “comp” in the same Brooklyn neighborhood, sold last month for $490,100. That house had an updated kitchen with new appliances, no wallpaper, was recently re-carpeted, and has a radon mitigation system in the basement.

The cost to remodel the kitchen, remove the wallpaper, carpet the house, and put in a radon mitigation system is $100,000. Your fair purchase price bid for the fixer-upper should be $390,100.

As your real estate agent, I will let you know if it’s a good idea to share your cost estimates with the sellers, to prove whether or not your offer is fair. Be sure to ask!

Step 7 – Hire Pro Inspectors to Properly Assess Your Fixer-Upper

Hire pros to inspect your fixer-upper. This is key in helping you properly assess the value of the house and the cost of its repairs.

Home inspectors look for and uncover hidden issues in need of replacement or repair. You want to replace those 1980s kitchen cabinets, but the home inspector detects the water leak behind them.

What they don’t do:

  • Lead-based paint inspection
  • Well and septic system inspection
  • Sewer issues
  • Pest or termite inspection
  • Chimney inspection
  • Asbestos testing
  • Mold inspection
  • Lot size survey
  • Radon testing

Include Inspection Contingencies

Most home inspection contingencies allow you to go back to the sellers to ask them to do the repairs or when you close on the house, give you cash to pay for the repairs.

If the inspection turns up something major you don’t want to deal with, you or the seller can simply back out of the deal. If you or the seller back out of the deal, it’s okay. It just means this fixer-upper isn’t the right house for you.

Contact Charles D’Alessandro for Help

If you’re determined to find a fixer-upper to fix up, but you aren’t sure if you’re ready to take one on, call me. I’m Charles D’Alessandroyour Brooklyn Real Estate Agent with Fillmore Real Estate. You can reach me at (718) 253-9600 ext. 206 or [email protected] today. I’d love to help you find the perfect house to make a home.


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

How to Find a Home Quickly and Conveniently in the Cold

Saturday, November 30th, 2019
Find a home quickly
Take advantage of the cold when house hunting. Here are 4 ways to find a home quickly in the cold winter months.

Baby, it’s cold outside! And you need to relocate now?! Here’s how you can find a home quickly and conveniently even while it’s frigid in Brooklyn.

4 Ways to Find a Home Quickly When It’s Cold Outside

Yeah, who actually wants to bundle up and tromp through biting cold temps and wind? Nobody does. Sometimes it’s necessary because you don’t really have a choice. But here are four ways to warm up to the process and find a home quickly in spite of the cold.

First, Do Your Research

When it’s cold outside, it’s the perfect time to get some quality research done. Grab a cup of your favorite hot beverage and read a few home inspection reports. I know it’s monotonous and boring to do, quite honestly. But it is a part of the moving process that needs to be done, especially when finding a home quickly matters.

Second, Check ‘Em Out

Wintertime is the best time to check out houses that are up for sale for two really good reasons.

  • Cold temperatures and freezing winds reveal gaps, drafts, and leaks you don’t think to look for in the spring or summer months
  • A home’s systems are working extremely hard to keep up with frigid temperatures allowing you to check them out, too

Third, Attend Open Houses

If there are open houses in the Brooklyn neighborhood you’re interested in moving to, attend as many of them as you can. Not only do you get to inspect a home you really want, but you also create opportunities to mingle and learn of other available homes nearby.

Chances are you won’t like every house you visit. But checking them out in person allows you to see what a house is like during the colder months. And that’s a real plus in your favor!

Fourth, Check Out Parking and Other Possible Problems

Parking close matters when it’s cold and snowy outside. So check out available parking near that perfect Brownstone you’ve got your buyer’s eye on.

Also, when there’s snow on the ground, you see problems such as poor access, poor drainage, and the lack of snowplowing that occurs.

Warm Up to Winter House Hunting

‘Tis the season to warm up to winter house hunting. So put on your boots, bundle up, and head out to those showings when the ground is white with snow and the cold air bites your nose!

The cold offers several advantages making the winter season better than others for you to find a home quickly. But to top it all off, if you don’t want to go out in the cold weather, then neither do other potential buyers. And that means less competition for you.

Happy house hunting!

When you need to find a home quickly, contact Charles D’Alessandroyour Brooklyn Real Estate Agent with Fillmore Real Estate right away. Call (718) 253-9600 ext. 206 or email [email protected] when the weather’s cold in Brooklyn.


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

Want to Celebrate the American Dream This Year?

Sunday, June 30th, 2019
American dream
Owning a home is part of the American dream. Start living your American dream this year!

What does the American Dream mean to you? How would you define it? Investopedia defines it as “the belief that anyone, regardless of where they were born or what class they were born into, can attain their own version of success in a society where upward mobility is possible for everyone.” James Truslow Adams described it as “that dream of a land in which life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement.”

The American Dream, A Home to Call Their Own

When my dad, Charles D’Alessandro Sr. and my mom, Rose, looked for a house in 1954, they were looking for a home. Above all, they were looking for a home to raise their family in an area they could afford to live in. They were looking for a home in an area that was close to friends and family too, The Neighborhood. In their minds, it was not an investment. It was a home they could call their own, their American Dream, their version of success.

They lived through the ups and downs of the real estate and financial markets paying the mortgage, raising their three children. They did as best they could, made sacrifices, and in the end paid that mortgage off.

The Opportunity to Achieve the American Dream

Again, Investopedia states, “The American Dream promises freedom and equality. It offers the freedom to make both the large and small decisions that affect one’s life, the freedom to aspire to bigger and better things and the possibility of achieving them, the freedom to accumulate wealth, the opportunity to lead a dignified life, and the freedom to live in accordance with one’s values – even if those values are not widely held or accepted.”

Ask anybody to define it in their own terms and somewhere in their answer the words “home ownership” will probably pop up. This is because for many of us, owning a home is an essential part of the American Dream.

Benefits of Achieving It

Homeownership conveys a number of economic benefits:

  • the ability to accumulate wealth
  • access credit by building home equity
  • reduce housing costs through the mortgage interest deduction
  • gain long-term savings over the cost of renting

Achieving Your Version of Success

Today interest rates are as low as 3.25 (4.856 APR). View the 10 Best Mortgage Rates of 2019 here. With a good credit score, you can achieve your version of success as a homeowner.

Celebrate the American Dream!

June is National Homeownership Month. And with the 4th of July “popping” up next week, I want to encourage everyone to pursue your version of success, your version of the American Dream.

Is homeownership is part of the American Dream for you? Contact me, Charles D’Alessandro, your Brooklyn Real Estate Agent with Fillmore Real Estate. Call (718) 253-9600 ext. 206 or email [email protected] today. There is a ton of information out there. But don’t get frustrated or confused by it all. I can help you sort through any confusion you may have. Let me guide you to make an informed and confident decision about your American Dream.


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

Do You Know How to Qualify for a Mortgage?

Saturday, June 15th, 2019
Qualify for a mortgage
Home ownership is more of a possibility than most people realize. Find out how you can qualify for a mortgage and start shopping.

If you don’t know what it takes to qualify for a mortgage, you’re not alone. This lack of knowledge prevents people from even trying to purchase their first home. Is this you? If so, understanding the whole process better will clear up a lot of confusion. Read on to find out how to qualify for a mortgage and which type of loan is best for you.

Down Payment Requirements

Are you wondering how much of a down payment you need to qualify for a mortgage? Most people are. In spite of all the mortgage information available online, a lot of it is insufficient. So many still overestimate the down payment needed to qualify for a mortgage. The answer used to be 20 percent. But nowadays you can qualify for a home loan with a low down payment. Some types of mortgages even require no down payment! And no, this isn’t some special offer for first-time home buyers only.

Here are some down payment guidelines for different types of home loans:

  • VA loans and USDA loans require no down payment
  • FHA loans are one of the most popular types of home loans. They require 3.5 percent down with a 580 credit score. If your credit score ranks 500-579, your FHA loan will require 10 percent down
  • 203k loans also require 3.5 percent down
  • A Conventional 97 loan requires only 3 percent down
  • Conventional loans require anywhere between 5 percent and 20 percent down.

Credit Score Requirements

How’s your credit score? Do you know the credit score you need to qualify for a mortgage? Again, most people don’t. And many can’t recall what their current credit score is even after checking it recently. Your credit score is one of the biggest factors in determining whether or not you qualify for a mortgage. And of course, an excellent credit score gives you lots of worry-free wiggle room in qualifying for a home loan.

A credit score of 680 or higher is ideal when you’re in need of getting approved for a home loan. Some lenders require a credit score of 640 while others will accept lower credit scores.

Each of the loan programs listed above have a set minimum qualifying credit score requirements.

  • VA loans and USDA loans require a credit score of 620. For VA loans, some lenders may  be able to approve a credit score of 580+
  • FHA loans require a 580 credit score
  • 203k and Conventional loans require a credit score of 640
  • Conventional 97 loans require a 620 credit score

But what if you have bad credit? If you need to improve your credit score to qualify for a mortgage, click here. Learn how to improve your credit score by 100 points in 30 days.

Mortgage Document Requirements

In order for your lender to process your loan, you must produce several documents. So be prepared ahead of time and get the following ready now:

  • W2’s from the past 2 years. You should have at least 2 years of income from the same company or industry documented
  • Pay-stubs for the last 3 months
  • Bank statements for the past 3 months
  • Tax returns for the previous 2 years
  • A list of your debts and assets
  • Divorce decree if you have gone through a divorce
  • Additional income documentation

Basic Guidelines for How to Qualify for a Mortgage

If you want to qualify for a home loan, follow these basic guidelines:

  • Prove your income is sufficient and consistent
  • Have at least 2 years of documented income from the same company or in the same industry
  • If you earn commissions, average your income from the last 2 years of tax returns

What income is considered “qualifying income”?

  • W-2 income/salary income from part-time jobs
  • Income from a second job
  • Overtime and bonuses
  • Seasonal jobs
  • Self-employed income
  • Alimony and child support (Documentation for this is required)
  • Non-qualifying VA income
  • Income from the lottery gambling
  • Unemployment pay
  • Single bonuses non-occupying co-signer income
  • Unverifiable income
  • Income from Rental Properties

Homeownership is a Possibility!

So if you are one of the 20 percent of consumers who believe a down payment of 10 percent or less is not enough to purchase a home, think again! There are mortgage financing options available that don’t require a 20 percent down payment. Providing you are a creditworthy prospective buyer, lenders now offer safe, sustainable loans with as little as 3 percent down. Obtaining a mortgage isn’t as difficult as it used to be. Homeownership is truly a possibility!

Contact Charles D’Alessandroyour Brooklyn Real Estate Agent with Fillmore Real Estate. Call (718) 253-9600 ext.206 or email [email protected] With 30-plus years of real estate experience in Brooklyn, he can answer your questions about how to qualify for a mortgage.


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

Taxes You Need to Pay When Selling Your Rental

Thursday, May 30th, 2019

Taxes – UGH! Unless you’re an accountant with a love for numbers, the word probably brings with it a feeling of dread when you hear it. Some folks pay them annually to the IRS. Others must pay them quarterly. And we all get to pay them daily when we purchase stuff. Like death, they cannot be avoided! And if you’re selling your rental, there are a couple tax basics you should know. First, your rental is a business asset. So the taxes you need to pay on it are due only when it sells at a profit. But if your rental sells at a loss, you can write off the loss to offset taxable income. The key to knowing the taxes you need to pay is found in correctly calculating the amount of gain or loss on the rental you sold.

How a Profit or Loss is Determined

Your profit or loss is determined by subtracting your property’s adjusted basis on the date of sale from the sales price you receive (plus expenses, such as real estate commissions).

To understand your property’s adjusted basis, you must first know what “basis in property” and “adjusted basis” mean. Basis in property is the amount of your total investment in a property. And it is not fixed. It changes over time to reflect the true amount of your investment. Each change or new basis is called the adjusted basis.

Taxes You Need to Pay When Selling Your Rental Property at a Profit

When you sell a rental property at a profit, you pay taxes on the gain (profit) you realize (earn). These taxes are called Capital Gains Tax.

Reductions in basis increase the gain or profit you realize and therefore increase your tax liability when you sell your rental.

Taxes You Need to Pay When Selling Your Rental Property at a Loss

If you sell at a loss or lose money, you’ll be able to deduct the loss, but not without being subject to important limitations.

Increases in basis are lower your tax liability because they lower your profits.

Here’s an example from Nolo.com:

Viola bought a small apartment building and sold it six years later for $300,000. Her starting basis was $200,000. During the time she owned the property she took $43,000 in depreciation deductions and paid $13,000 for a new roof (an improvement). Her depreciation deductions reduced the property’s basis, but the roof improvement increased it. Her basis at the time of the sale is $170,000. Viola calculates her taxable gain on the property by subtracting her adjusted basis from the sales price: $300,000 – $170,000 = $130,000.

As you can see, when you sell your property, you effectively give back the depreciation deductions you took on it. Since they reduce your adjusted basis, they increase your taxable gain. Thus, Viola’s taxable gain was increased by the $43,000 in depreciation deductions she took. The amount of your gain attributable to the depreciation deductions you took in prior years is taxed at a single 25% rate. Viola, for example, would have to pay a 25% tax on the $43,000 in depreciation deductions she received. The remaining gain on the sale is taxed at capital gains rates (usually 15%, 20% for taxpayers in the top tax bracket).

How to Avoid Taxes You Need to Pay When Selling a Rental Property

Rental properties generate a respectable profit each month, provided you choose the right rental properties. But they can cost you when you sell. Here are three strategies that help ease the burden of a significant tax bite when you sell a profitable rental.

  1. Offset gains with losses
  2. Take advantage of Section 1031 of the Tax Code
  3. Turn your rental property into your primary residence

Offsetting gains with losses through tax-loss harvesting is for those with capital losses in a given tax year. This strategy allows a landlord to subtract those losses from the capital gains from the sale of their rental.

Taking advantage of the IRS Section 1031 “Like-kind” exchange is for those who are able to reinvest the proceeds of selling their rental property in new real estate. This strategy allows them the ability to defer some or all of the taxes on the capital gain.

Converting your rental property into your primary residence is for people who want to do so for better tax treatment when they sell. Landlords who convert a rental into their home to live in are able to exclude as much as $500,000 in capital gains from taxes.

Hire the Right Financial Advisor

When it comes to investments and knowing what taxes you need to pay on the sale of a rental, it’s always best to find and hire the right financial advisor. And it doesn’t have to be hard to find one who fits your needs. SmartAsset offers a free tool to match you with fiduciary financial advisors in your area in five minutes.

Hire the Right Real Estate Agent

If you’re selling a rental property, contact Charles D’Alessandroyour Brooklyn Real Estate Agent with Fillmore Real Estate. Call (718) 253-9600 ext.206 or email [email protected] With 30-plus years of real estate experience in Brooklyn, he can help you with all your real estate needs.


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

How to Overcome the Overwhelm of Buying a Home

Saturday, 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]

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

Thursday, 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]

How to Declutter Christmas Decor and Store Only the Best

Sunday, 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]