Archive for the ‘Buying Brooklyn Real Estate’ Category

10 Useful Closing Checklist Tips After Everything is Out of the House

Tuesday, May 15th, 2018
Closing checklist

Once the house is empty, use these useful closing checklist tips to help you efficiently wrap up the moving process for closing day.

There are certain things every responsible home seller should do once everything is out of the house. It seems the selling process just cannot be completed as needed until your personal belongings and furniture are out. Once the house is empty, these useful closing checklist tips will wrap up the moving process in an efficient way.

Closing Checklist Tips 1 Through 10

Tip #1: Keep It Together

Your escrow officer or closing agent will give you a closing package containing seller disclosures, the purchase contract, and closing statement. Keep them together in a file folder that is easily accessible in a safe place.

Tip #2: Clean It Up

Clean the house yourself or hire a cleaning professional to do it for you. “Clean” can be a relative term. Basically, leave the house in better condition than you would like to find your new home in.

  • Wipe down cabinets, inside and out, and shelves
  • Vacuum the floors
  • Clean kitchen appliances, inside the refrigerator and oven
  • Wipe down kitchen counters
  • Scour sinks, tubs, and toilets
  • Wash flooring
  • Throw away trash
  • Properly dispose of toxic chemicals
  • Sweep the garage floor
  • Stack paint cans, roofing materials, or extra flooring

This is your last opportunity to make a great impression on the buyer. Make a good one and go the extra mile.

Tip #3: Set It Aside

If you don’t already have a place for appliance manuals, receipts, building plans, and warranties, set them aside as you come across them. I’m talking manuals for the HVAC, security system, sprinkler system, contractor receipts for the awnings you added above the front and back doors, and their warranties. Staple the receipts to their manuals and put it all in a file folder. You can leave this file in a drawer or on the kitchen counter for the buyers. They’ll greatly appreciate the thoughtfulness!

Tip #4: Walk Through It

Attend the final walkthrough. There are lots of things about your home that only you as the home seller will know. Traits like how to reset the on-demand hot water heater when the water turns cold while showering. Attending the final walkthrough will give you the opportunity to graciously pass on any quirks or traits to the home buyer.

Tip #5: Turn It Off

Make sure the water shut-off valve to each appliance is completely turned off. Disconnecting the appliances from their water sources is not enough. Even a small but steady drip, can eventually flood a home. Some sellers are extra careful and will shut off water sources valves to sinks, toilets, and dishwashers, too.

Note: Leave a note for the buyers telling them which water source valves have been shut off.

Tip #6: Cancel It

When you know the deed has been recorded or the title transfer has formally taken place, call your insurance agent and cancel your insurance policies. There should be a refund check from a prepaid premium for your homeowner’s insurance due you.

Tip #7: Stop and Cancel It

Stop the newspaper and cancel the utilities. Write a list of your utility companies and their phone numbers, including the newspaper subscription if you have one. And don’t forget about the utilities you pay quarterly.

Tip #8:  Leave It

All of your house keys, remotes, shed keys, mailbox keys, and codes should be left in a kitchen drawer for the buyers. They’ll probably change the locks for safe measure, but you should still leave keys, codes, and remotes.

Tip #9: Run Through It One Last Time

Make a last pass through the house. Check every cabinet, drawer, and storage place for forgotten items. If your spouse, friend, or family member tells you they went through every room with a fine-toothed comb, run through everything one more time. You might find something insignificant, like an empty bottle, but it will give you peace of mind.

When we moved last year, we left the old toboggan that my dad bought for our family for Christmas when I was in 6th grade. We forgot about it up in the rafters of the garage. I loved that thing and the memories we have tied to it. Fortunately for us, the buyer texted us about it, and we were able to retrieve it.

Tip #10: Close It Up

Finally, latch the windows, turn off the lights, and lock the door. Yes, you’d be surprised by how many people forget to close up the house. And this is important. If no one can see inside, the chances of a break-in are less likely.

On the day of closing, you and the buyer will have separate chances to sign the closing documents. Your agent will congratulate you on the close of your escrow and everyone can celebrate.

With over 30 years of experience in the Brooklyn real estate market, Charles is a Brooklyn Real Estate Agent you can trust to sell your home and support you every step of the way in the process. He knows what it takes to get your home sold. Contact Charles D’Alessandroyour Brooklyn Real Estate Agent with Fillmore Real Estate at (718) 253-9600 ext.206 or email [email protected]. for the best closing checklist for your home.


 Charles D’Alessandro

Your Brooklyn Real Estate Agent

718-253-9600 ext. 206

[email protected]

 

How Will the New Tax Law Affect You?

Tuesday, January 30th, 2018
New tax law

The new tax law: the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. How will it affect you as a Brooklyn homeowner?

A New Year brings with it new possibilities and changes, even in the world of real estate. Have you heard about the new tax law: the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act? Whether or not you have, you most likely won’t notice the changes that will affect you until you file your taxes in 2019. You may see changes made to next month’s paycheck because of this new tax law and its new tax rate deductions, however.

New Tax Law: How Its Policies Could Affect You as a Homeowner

  1. Capping Mortgage Interest Deduction

On December 15, 2017, the new tax law, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, reduced the amount of mortgage interest rate deduction for new loans from $1,000,000 to $750,000. If you took out a loan before December 15, 2017, you are grandfathered into the previous tax policy.

If you want to refinance your existing mortgage balance and still deduct the interest, you can do so up to $1,000,000, but your new loan cannot exceed the amount of your existing mortgage balance being refinanced.

The capping of the mortgage interest deduction poses a risk to large urban areas with high-priced homes such as those here in New York as well as in Washington, D.C., California, Hawaii, and Massachusetts.

The effect of these changes will not be noticed until you sell your home. But the newly purchased property would then come under the new regulations of the new tax law policies.

By limiting your buyer’s purchasing power and capping mortgage interest rate deduction, the growth of your home’s value could be slowed. This could then affect the profits you as a longtime homeowner would hope to gain when trying to sell.

  1. Introducing the New SALT Deduction Limit

Whether filing as an individual or married couple, taxpayers can itemize deductions up to $10,000 for their total state and local property taxes and income or sales taxes in the final bill. The cap is the same for both.

The new SALT limits will impact households that pay more than $10,000 in combined state and local taxes each year. Alexander Casey, Zillow Group Policy Advisor, says, “On one hand, taxpayers who still itemize deductions and whose total state and local tax liability exceeds $10,000 will get a smaller tax break; however, for other households, the continued availability of those deductions, even if they are capped, may be the deciding factor between whether or not they itemize deductions. This matters a lot in areas where SALT deductions were a relatively more significant reason for itemizing – areas with lower home prices, but higher taxes (e.g., upstate New York, Southern New Jersey, Inland California).”

In the law preceding this new tax law, the SALT deduction was unlimited.

Realtor.com® Senior Economist Joseph Kirchner, Ph.D. says, “The new SALT limit will have the greatest impact on states that provide a large number of services to their citizens by, first, reducing the benefit of tax cuts by disallowing the full value of this deduction, and, second, compounding the issue of the standard deduction vs. the mortgage interest rate deduction.”

  1. Preserving the Exclusion of Capital Gains

The previous law stated that homeowners must live in their home for two out of the past five years in order to qualify for the capital gains exclusion. This tax policy hasn’t changed.

Casey also says, “About 10 percent of home sellers last year sold their home after living in it between two and five years. Keeping the status quo means these sellers no longer need to make that difficult choice, and can instead feel more free to list their home on a more flexible schedule without fear of a potentially hefty tax hit.”

An increase to the residency requirement to five of the past eight years was proposed in the Senate bill, but it did not pass to the final version.

Kirchner stated, “Today, homeownership is imperative for middle-class wealth-building and financial stability. It allows people to invest in a long-term asset that pads their retirement savings, provides a safety net for unforeseen circumstances, and equity to back investment in education or small business. The survival of the capital gains exclusion means that the advantages of this type of investment will remain (except, of course, with regard to impact of changes to deductions).”

  1. Deducting on Home Equity Loans

According to the new law, taxpayers will no longer be able to deduct the interest paid on their home equity loans beginning in 2018, unless the funds are being used to improve their residence significantly. This provision expires in 2026 when it reverts back to the previous cap of $100,000 of home equity debt.

“Deductible interest on home equity loans used to provide homeowners another layer of financial security by giving them the ability to obtain low-cost financing,” Kirchner says. “Now, without the ability to deduct interest, owners effectively will have to pay more for their loans, which could put downward pressure on the homeownership rate.”

Casey believes removing this homeownership incentive will not dramatically impact the homeownership rate. But it will affect home renovations instead. About this, he says, “A lot of personal and economic factors matter more. This deduction is more important for financing major home renovations, so eliminating this deduction could contribute to underinvestment in the housing stock, making it more difficult for struggling communities to reinvent themselves.”

  1. Doubling of the Standard Deduction

Also in the previous law, $6,350 was the standard deduction for single taxpayers and married couples filing jointly. In the new law, this amount is nearly doubled to $12,000. The previous standard deduction for married couples filing jointly was $12,700. This has been increased to $24,000.

“A doubled standard deduction will have a big impact on how many homeowners ultimately decide to take advantage of the mortgage interest deduction,” says Casey. “When you combine a much larger standard deduction, with the fact that some itemized deductions have been capped or pared back, many filers may no longer find it financially advantageous to itemize deductions.”

According to Zillow’s calculations, Casey says that under the current tax code, itemizing and claiming the mortgage interest deduction is financially worthwhile on an estimated 44 percent of all U.S. homes. In addition, under the new law, itemizing and claiming the MID is worthwhile on only 14.4 percent of homes nationwide.

“The doubling of the standard deduction changes the equation for homeownership incentives and essentially renders the mortgage interest rate deduction ineffective for the majority of owners,” says Kirchner. “Until now, most households did not itemize their deductions until they bought a home, which added significant tax benefits to ownership. Based on the changes to the standard deduction, this benefit will disappear for all but those homeowners who have mortgages in excess of $550,000, depending on what other deductions they have.”

Location and Timing and the New Tax Law

How much you are impacted by the new tax law will be based largely on where you are located. If you are located in a high-cost state, you may see the biggest changes in how you file, especially with the new $10,000 SALT limit. According to Zillow Research, 51 percent of Americans surveyed last year said they agree with the statement that “the property tax rate in my community is unfair to me.” These sentiments may rise in response to residents of high-tax burdened markets receiving a higher tax bill because of the new limit.

For example, Zillow analysis conducted for the Wall Street Journal states that a top income earner in New York, who owns in the top-third price range of the metro, pays an estimated $23,000 in property and state income tax every year, which is double the amount now allowed for deductions. The analysis also reported $10,000 in similar circumstances for Raleigh, N.C., and $12,000 for a Chicagoan. These are just a few areas where high-earning taxpayers would be adversely impacted by the new SALT deduction cap. According to a Wall Street Journal article, Moody’s Analytics estimates that 80 percent of counties across the country will see a negative impact on home prices in the summer of 2019.

Low-tax states, however, may benefit from the new tax code. According to the WSJ, parts of North Carolina, Alabama, Nebraska, Indiana, and Tennessee may see boosts in their home prices and local economies. And the same Zillow analysis that surveyed high property and income taxes in other states says an individual in a similar financial situation would pay one-quarter of the amount in Nashville, Tennessee. For those that have been on the fence about moving, the tax overhaul may be their deciding factor. But those who live in high-tax states may not see the negative impact from taxes as reason enough to leave their homes.

According to NAR research, here are the five metro areas that will be most affected by the new tax law (based on homes with mortgages valued over $750,000):

  1. San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, Calif.
  2. San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, Calif.
  3. Santa Cruz-Watsonville, Calif.
  4. Santa Maria-Santa Barbara, Calif.
  5. Urban Honolulu, Hawaii

The top five metros based on share of owners that pay over $10,000 in real estate taxes:

  1. New York-Newark-Jersey City, N.Y., N.J., Pa.
  2. Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk, Conn.
  3. Trenton, N.J. Metro Area
  4. San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, Calif.
  5. San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, Calif.

In response to the bill’s passing, NAR President Elizabeth Mendenhall said, “Only 6 percent of homeowners have mortgages exceeding $750,000, and only 5 percent pay more than $10,000 in property taxes, but most homeowners won’t itemize under the new regime. While we’re pleased that important homeownership incentives such as the capital gains exclusion survived in conference, additional changes are required to truly incentivize homeownership in the tax code.”

But timing also plays a role. Many of the provisions in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, including individual tax cuts, expire in 2025 and therefore, may lead to tax hikes in the future, according to the Distributional Analysis of the Conference Agreement for the TCJA by the Tax Policy Center. The report states that taxes would be reduced by $1,600 on average in 2018, increasing after-tax incomes by 2.2 percent; however, in 2025, the average tax cut as a share of after-tax income would decrease by 1.7 percent for most income groups.

“The tax bill decreases homeownership incentives, but these benefits are not the only factors in the homeownership decision,” Kirchner says. “In the short run, homebuyers can look forward to more money in their pocket that can be used for a down payment or larger home.”

He adds that cuts in government services and economic development programs, along with the rescinding of tax cuts for individuals in a few years and the impact of tax reform-induced deficit on inflation, will weaken the impact of the after-tax income boost on homeownership.

“The change definitely removes some of the federal government’s preferential treatment towards homeownership,” Casey says. “Ultimately, with these new reforms, households will be more likely to maximize their tax breaks with a standard deduction. And when someone uses the standard deduction, it doesn’t matter if they spent an extra $5,000 on a house, a boat or a vacation—the spending is treated the same when tax season comes.

“It will be interesting to see how the temporary nature of some of these tax cuts shake out,” says Casey. “Will those households on the edge of homeownership make decisions based on what their new take-home income is in February, or will there be some apprehension if they think their taxes will rise down the road?”

According to an NAR statement, “As a result of the changes made throughout the legislative process, NAR is now projecting slower growth in home prices of 1-3 percent in 2018 as low inventories continue to spur price gains; however, some local markets, particularly in high-cost, higher-tax areas, will likely see price declines as a result of the legislation’s new restrictions on mortgage interest and state and local taxes.”

If you have any questions about how the new tax law will affect you, call Charles D’Alessandro at (718) 253-9600 ext. 206 today.

This article was largely taken from RISmedia.com’s article “Tax Reform: Here’s What Could Impact Homeowners Most.”

Charles D’Alessandro

Your Brooklyn Real Estate Agent with Fillmore Real Estate

718-253-9600 ext. 206

[email protected]

5 Great Reasons to Go House Hunting During the Holidays

Friday, December 15th, 2017
House hunting

House hunting in December provides a buyer numerous advantages. Take advantage of each one and start looking for your dream home today!

The kids return to school, trees lose their leaves, pumpkin-flavored everything hits the stores, and we don our favorite warm sweaters. Some celebrate Halloween and put candy makers in the black for another year. Then, before we know it, it’s time to plan a bountiful Thanksgiving Day feast and start decorating for Christmas. Are the holidays really a viable time to buy a home? With all the festivities and merrymaking taking place until New Years, who even has time to sell a home? But the holidays are the perfect time for house hunting, and here are five great reasons why it makes good sense.

Merry Christmas! Let’s Go House Hunting!

Because everyone else is planning feasts and vacations or checking off gifts from their gift list, house hunting during the holidays can pay off in a big way for a buyer.

  1. There are fewer buyers

Most people are busy celebrating, attending, hosting, and opting out of house hunting. I mean, who wants to be out in cold, snowy weather anyway? And fewer buyers means less competition and less stress for you.

  1. Home sellers are highly motivated

Since home sellers are highly motivated to sell in December, they are open to negotiations. The number of homes available to choose from may be small, but sellers are much more flexible. And you might get a better deal!

What makes a home seller so motivated to sell in December?

  • Relocation

If they have school-aged children, they may want to get into a new home before the last half of the school year begins.

  • Their Home was Listed in the Fall

Sellers may be feeling anxious that their home is still on the market after Thanksgiving after having listed it back in September. And they may have grown weary of staging and leaving their home each time strangers want to walk through it.

  • Tax Advantages

– A contract in hand before the end of the year can be beneficial to a seller for two reasons.

– A landlord incurs a loss on a rental property and wants to claim that loss as a deduction for the same calendar year.

– A seller expects a salary raise after January 1. This could subject them to a higher capital gains tax on the sale of their home if it sells for a large profit. It would be financially advantageous to sell the home before their raise in salary kicks in after the first of the new year.

3. Buying before year’s end brings tax perks in April

Homeownership allows you to deduct mortgage interest and property taxes in April. And that can add up to a lot in dollars saved. Property tax deduction caps at $10,000. Homeowners are allowed to deduct the interest on mortgages up to $500,000. This is down from the current $1 million.

And if you itemize your taxes, many closing fees are tax-deductible. Check with your accountant about this.

  1. You’ll get a more accurate idea of what you’re going to live in

Houses for sale in the spring always look irresistible due to their curb appeal. Newly-planted flowers, lots of natural light, budding trees, warm temperatures, and fresh air make house hunting an encouraging endeavor. But cold, dreary weather has a way of revealing things about a home that need attention. Ask yourself, “Can I live with this draftiness or poorly lit kitchen next year?”

Cold weather also reveals issues to inspectors that they wouldn’t normally find if the home was being inspected in a warmer season. But make sure your home inspector checks how well the air conditioning unit works and what condition the roof is in if it’s covered with snow.

  1. Professionals are more accessible

December is a slow month for movers, inspectors, and mortgage brokers, too. This makes them available to help you move right away.

Real estate agents and lenders usually have fewer clients in December which makes them eager to get your home purchase closed before December 31. And because they have fewer clients in December, they’ll be more readily available and have more time to answer questions.

House hunting during the holidays is advantageous for buyers because of the season’s activities. So, go ahead. Avoid overwhelm and ring in the New Year with the purchase of a lifetime! And don’t worry. Santa will find you in your new home!

Call Charles D’Alessandro to start house hunting in Brooklyn this month.  Contact Charles D’Alessandro, your Brooklyn real estate agent with Fillmore Real Estate, at (718) 253-9700 ext. 206 today or click here now.


Charles D’Alessandro

Your Brooklyn Real Estate Agent with Fillmore Real Estate

718-253-9600 ext. 206

[email protected]

How to Choose a Licensed Professional for a Home Inspection in Brooklyn

Wednesday, February 15th, 2017
Home inspection in Brooklyn

A good home inspection in Brooklyn is worth your time and money. Do your research to find a great home inspector for the home you are buying.

“Are home inspections worth the effort?” Yes, they are! “Would you recommend an inspection of the home we are buying?” Yes, I would! A home inspection in Brooklyn gives clear understanding of the current state of the home you are buying, and that’s important. Here’s why.

A home inspection is more than acquiring a list of problems to negotiate with a seller. It is assurance that you know exactly what you’re getting into when it comes to the condition of a home. It’s true that a home inspection could reveal something the seller needs to fix or something that will cause you to want to back out of buying a home. But it’s way more fun to think of it as an owner’s manual with maintenance tips and schedules for your new home instead.

Do Your Research to Find a Licensed, Professional Inspector for Your Home Inspection in Brooklyn

All home inspectors are not the same, nor do they offer the same things. With a little research of their websites, you can create a list of licensed, professional inspectors to choose from. Check their online reviews, study their websites and write down the answers to the following questions:

  1. How long have they been in business?
  2. Do they have testimonials listed on their website? If so, are they from happy clients or real estate agents? How many “5-star” testimonials are listed, 5 or 50?
  3. What are their qualifications and actual home inspection experience?
  4. Is there a sample inspection report available to view? A great home inspector will not hide a sample report from website visitors. Click HERE for an example of a good one.

What to Look for When Viewing a Sample Home Inspection Report

Believe it or not, there is much more than photos and illustrations to look for on a sample report. A good home inspection report will state the problem, explain the significance of the problem, and recommend a course of action.

Further inspections may be needed, and that’s fine. However, such recommendations should never be given lightly. Additional inspections require more time and money.

Finally …

Yes, you should hire a licensed, professional inspector to conduct a thorough home inspection in Brookly. Get recommendations and a sample report to make sure they will produce a thorough report on the home you are buying. Find out what is and isn’t included in the price of the inspection. Refer to this actual home inspector Home Inspection Checklist and ask what they will test for specifically. Be clear on exactly what is and isn’t included in the inspection price. For more tips on how to find a home inspector online, read: How Hard Can It Be to Find a Good Home Inspector?

Contact me, Charles D’Alessandro, your Brooklyn real estate agent with Fillmore Real Estate at (718) 253-9700 ext. 206 or email [email protected] for a list of inspectors with reviews in Brooklyn today.

Get a seller’s disclosure statement before the day of your inspection. This statement will help you pinpoint anything you want your inspector to look at. If the sellers disclosed a leaky window that was replaced or repaired, make sure your inspector looks at it.

After you’ve decided on an inspector, book the home inspection in Brooklyn. If you can’t decide between the final two on your list, go with price. Then, plan on being there with your agent on the day of the home inspection for the entire time.

You aren’t being a pest. Think of yourself as a student. Hearing and seeing what the inspector is inspecting is super helpful to you. They will explain your home’s systems and give maintenance tips which will also be in the final report.

Should This Be the Year You Sell your Home?

Monday, January 30th, 2017
Sell your home

Charles D’Alessandro knows how to accentuate the special and unique features of your home to help you sell your home fast and for top dollar.

Did you sell your home in 2016? 2016 was the best year for existing-home sales since 2006. Existing-home sales were 3.3 percent higher in 2016 than they were in 2015. If you didn’t, should this be the year you sell your home?

The National Association of Realtors predicts positive growth in the market this year in the following ways:

  1. Existing-home sales are predicted to grow modestly by 2 percent this year in spite of mortgage rate increases.
  2. The median price of homes being sold has been forecasted to increase by 4 percent.

These reasons are reason enough to make this year the year to sell your home. I encourage you to consider it.

The Brooklyn real estate market is unique as is your own financial situation. So find out how the 2017 Brooklyn housing market looks. I have over 30 years of real estate experience. With that experience I will help you decide whether or not the sale of your home makes financial sense. Contact me, Charles D’Alessandro, today at (718) 253-9700 ext. 206.

If you decide to sell your home, do these 3 things right now

If after a consultation with me you decide to put your home on the market, there are a few things you should do right now. Getting these to-do’s completed will give you a head start on selling your home this spring.

  1. Hire Charles D’Alessandro as your real estate agent.

Hiring a real estate with experience and great customer service is essential to a successful home sale. With me as your real estate agent, you can:

  • Rely on my expertise to make the decision to sell
  • Believe I’ll choose the right price for your home
  • Have confidence in how I market your home
  • Trust my skill to negotiate offers from buyers
  1. Get a home inspection scheduled before you list.

An early home inspection is a good idea. You want to find and fix any issues there may be with your home before the buyer does. If a buyer finds unseen issues when they conduct their own inspection, it could derail the sale. An early home inspection will give you extra time to address any problems uncovered.  I can advise you on whether it’s better to make the repairs or adjust your asking price instead.

  1. Declutter and stage your home.

Decluttering and packing while making home improvements is an efficient way to prepare your home for sale. Then, once your house is free of clutter, you can stage your home to impress.

  • Clean out your closets
  • Pack photos and knick-knacks
  • Put all that you can in storage
  • Make rooms look spacious. Live as minimally as you possibly can. Store extra furniture pieces, like the quilt rack, hope chest, tall dresser.
  • Clear kitchen countertops and keep them clear
  • Paint the entry way and keep it tidy
  • Invest in new throw pillows, towels, bedding and other accessories

Finally …

I will advise you on the best ways to attract buyers to sell your home. I know how to accentuate the special and unique features of your home and stay within your budget.

Sell your home fast and for top dollar. Contact Charles D’Alessandro, your Brooklyn real estate agent with Fillmore Real Estate at (718) 253-9700 ext. 206 or email [email protected] today. Take my advice and avoid the stress of getting your home ready to sell on a tight deadline. You’ll be way ahead of the competition, too.

New Year, New Year’s Resolutions for Homeowners

Friday, December 30th, 2016
New Year's Resolutions

As a Brooklyn homeowner, you can make new year’s resolutions that will save you money. Here are 6 ways to save significantly in 2017!

Have you made your New Year’s resolutions for 2017 yet? The start of a new year is a popular time to make them. What are New Year’s resolutions? They’re promises made to yourself to better yourself in the new year. Time.com lists the Top 10 Commonly Broken New Year’s Resolutions:

  • Lose weight and get fit
  • Quit smoking
  • Learn something new
  • Eat healthier and diet
  • Get out of debt and save money
  • Spend more time with family
  • Travel to new places
  • Be less stressed
  • Volunteer
  • Drink less

6 New Year’s Resolutions for Homeowners

Those are great promises to resolve to do, but if you’re a homeowner, add these to your list. These resolutions will save you money and make the selling or buying process easier.

  1. Shorten the term of your mortgage

Put extra money toward your mortgage every month. The more you pay in a shorter period of time, the less you’ll end up paying in the long run.

For example, let’s say you have a $150,000 mortgage with a 30-year term at an interest rate of 5.5 percent. Your monthly mortgage payment (principal and interest) would be $852. Paying just an additional $71 each month would shorten that 30-year term by five years and one month. It would also cut the interest down by $30,789. Amazing, right?

  1. Pay off a second mortgage

Paying off a second mortgage is well worth the challenge. Freedom from debt and interest is one of the greatest resolutions to discipline yourself to keep.

Put an extra $100, $200 or $400 toward your home equity loan every month, instead of spending it on something else. The more consistent and disciplined you are to pay off a second mortgage, the better off you are.

And if your second loan has a variable rate, you could get socked with a painful payment increase if interest rates rise. And what if you’re not in a position to refinance that debt? Uh-oh or ouch!

  1. Lock in a low, fixed rate

There are a couple of great reasons to refinance your home loan:

If the only thing you do in the new year is change a variable mortgage into a fixed mortgage, you’ve done yourself a huge favor financially. Even if you end up with a higher payment, a fixed rate will save you from an increase in your interest rate in the future.

Here’s another scenario to help explain: On a $200,000 mortgage with a 30-year term and a variable rate starting at 3.5 percent, your monthly principal and interest add up to $898. If you refinanced that loan with a fixed rate of 5 percent, your monthly principal and interest add up to $1,073, an additional $175 a month. But what if the variable rate jumped way up to 7.5 percent? Your monthly principal and interest would now add up to $1,389 which is an additional $491 per month.  You can see the benefit of locking in the extra $175 in 2017. It might be difficult, but paying an extra $491 in the future could be harder to accomplish than an extra $175 each month.

  1. Challenge your property tax assessment

Has your home declined in value in recent years? If you answered, “Yes,” you might be able to save some money in 2017. Challenge your property tax assessment.

Review your property tax and request a hearing date within the required time if the assessed value is excessive. I will help you with comparable sales data for an appeal.

If your property values drop by 40 percent, your taxes should drop by 40 percent, too. The savings can be substantial, about $1,500 a year on average.

  1. Earn a discount or lower quote on homeowners insurance

Major repairs or improvements that you made to your home this past year can earn you a discount or a lower quote on the new year’s coverage.

A new roof, updated electrical and plumbing, for examples, are preventive home maintenance which will save you money. Insurers appreciate the money home maintenance will save you and are usually willing to give you a discount or lower quote on your homeowners insurance. Call your agent today and update your file with them. Find out whether or not you qualify for a discount or lower quote on your homeowners insurance policy. You might be very glad you did!

  1. Take steps to improve your credit rating

Paying off debts and paying your bills on time will strengthen your credit score. The higher your credit score, the more likely lenders are to lend you money at a lower interest rate and on more attractive terms.

If you’ve missed a few mortgage payments this year, resolve to get and stay current as soon as possible.

Poor credit is not a forever thing. The longer you remain current and on time with your bills after being late, the more your FICO score will improve. Lenders pay attention to current behavior. Older credit problems count for less with lenders.

Do you want to save money or make the selling or buying process easier in 2017? Add these New Year’s resolutions to your list. Then contact me, Charles D’Alessandro, your Brooklyn real estate agent with Fillmore Real Estate at (718) 253-9700 ext. 206 or email [email protected] today. I can answer your questions and help you figure out how much money you’ll save by keeping these homeowner promises in 2017.

What is the Requirement for a Down Payment on a Home?

Thursday, December 15th, 2016
Down payment in Brooklyn

Bottom line: A bigger down payment equals more house.

We’ve found the perfect house, and interest rates are still low at just under 4%. We have been preapproved for the loan needed to purchase the home and have given the seller earnest money for the escrow account. The next step? Acquiring a down payment.

What is a down payment?

A down payment is the money given to the seller of the home you are buying. It is a percentage of the total price of the home. The remaining amount is paid to the seller from the mortgage secured.

The money for a down payment can come from:

  • Your personal savings account
  • The sale of a house
  • Gifts and grants from family, employers and nonprofits

Why is a down payment required when purchasing a home?

Lenders require a down payment because it gives the borrower incentive to make their monthly mortgage payments. If you as a homeowner can’t make the monthly mortgage payments on your home, you risk losing the down payment and going into foreclosure.

What is the minimum amount required to put down on a home?

For a while now, 20% has been the minimum down payment for standard loans. While a down payment of 20% or more allows you to avoid purchasing mortgage insurance, down payments less than 20% are becoming more common.

Because the housing market is improving, lenders are relaxing. Even 10% down payments are more widely accepted. That’s good news for all who need to buy a Brooklyn home.

Most lenders require at least 3% down. Mortgages insured by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA loans) require at least 3.5% down. Minimum down payments of 5%, 10%, 20% or more are determined based on your credit history, the type of dwelling and your reason for buying.

For the sake of explanation, look at these two examples. Let’s say you buy a house for $300,000:

  • A 20% down payment means you pay the seller $60,000 and borrow $240,000.
  • With a 10% down payment, you would pay the seller $30,000 and you would borrow $270,000.

Search for a low down-payment mortgage today. Click here.

Are there risks associated with down payments less than 20%?

Yes, if you can call them risks.

  • In order to qualify for a down payment less than 20%, you’ll need a credit score “in the green.”
  • You’ll have to but mortgage insurance, too. (Mortgage insurance protects the lender in case you default on the loan). There are two main types: Private mortgage insurance (PMI) and FHA insurance.
  • Lenders usually charge fees to borrowers who make down payments of less than 20%. The fees are on top of mortgage insurance premiums. The smaller the down payment, the higher the fees. Fees are paid at closing. Lenders sometimes charge higher interest rates instead of the fees.

When a down payment of 20% or more is put down on a home, the lender figures defaulting will be more detrimental to you than it will be to the bank. (This calculator will estimate the cost of mortgage insurance in your case.)

Because home values are improving, home prices are increasing. However, most economists predict they will not increase rapidly. Putting 10% down rather than 20% will make gaining equity in your home take longer. This matters only if you want to apply for a home equity line of credit in the future. You’ll have less to draw on.

Depending on your situation, 10% down may prove to be worth the complications that come with that. To make sure you’re making the right choice, talk with your lender. Discuss fees and factors that come with different sizes of down payments. (i.e, 10% versus 20% down as mentioned above).

In closing …

A bigger down payment equals more house. Again, talk with your lender. If you can, put 20% down. If you can’t, look at many different sizes of down payments and how each amount will affect your monthly house payments. A good lender will get creative and work with you to get you into your next home.

If you have questions about down payments, contact Charles D’Alessandro, your Brooklyn real estate agent with Fillmore Real Estate at (718) 253-9700 ext. 206 or email [email protected]. He’ll answer your questions or connect you with a great person who can. Call him today!

Mortgage Rates are on the Rise – Should You Lock in a Rate Now?

Wednesday, November 30th, 2016
Mortgage rates

Mortgage rates are on the rise, but don’t let their rise deter you from pursuing your dream home. Rates are still low.

What does the outcome of this year’s election have to do with you and real estate? Nothing, unless you’re thinking about refinancing or purchasing a home. Mortgage rates are climbing since the election, and they’re expected to continue to climb in the new year. However, they’re not expected to keep shooting upward.

So if you are in the market to buy a home, should you rush to lock in a mortgage rate now before they go up any higher? Is it possible that they will fall?

Should You Lock in Mortgage Rates Now or Hope for a Bounce Later?

As of November 16, 2016, rates climbed nearly 0.2% since the election. They climbed to 3.95% for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages of $417,000 or less, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association. They haven’t been this high since January. That may not sound like much, but as interest rates go, even a little can add up. Rising interest rates mean higher monthly mortgage payments. Buyers are obviously leary. The number of mortgage applications dropped by 10%. Refinance applications dropped by 11%.

Rates are still low, and buyers shouldn’t be deterred from buying a house. If you’re one of those leary buyers, think about this. In 1979, the mortgage rates were more than four times what they are today. Compare the rate of 16.75% to 3.95%, for example. That’s quite a difference, right?

Why Do Mortgage Rates Rise?

Mortgage rates rise because they typically follow the bond market. After Donald Trump won the presidential election, bond prices plunged and stocks started soaring. Many investors chose to get out of bonds and into the stock market. They expect that the economy will improve under his presidency which could increase inflation and lessen the value of the bonds. And there you have it: the reason why mortgage rates rise.

Does the Rise in Mortgage Rates Affect Homebuyers in Other Ways?

Yes. The rise in rates will affect borrowers’ debt-to-income ratios since buyers will be obligated to pay bigger bills each month. This affects a borrower’s credit score and cause lenders to approve smaller loans.

If You’re in the Market to Buy, Stay Calm and Keep Buying

No one really has any idea what’s going to happen, but if you’re planning to buy a home, be encouraged to keep looking. Read this housing economist’s perspective here: Postelection Prescription: Stay Calm and Keep Buying Homes.

Mortgage rates are always fluctuating. Most people either refinance when the rates go down or move within five to seven years no matter what the mortgage rates were when they purchased their home.

Although mortgage rates are on the rise, keep calm and keep pursuing your dream home. With over 30 years’ worth experience in the Brooklyn real estate market, Charles has seen the interest rates rise and fall. Call Charles D’Alessandro, your Brooklyn real estate agent with Fillmore Real Estate at (718) 253-9600 ext. 206 or email [email protected] with all of your questions today.

Why Should you Hire the Best Real Estate Team Possible?

Sunday, October 30th, 2016
Real estate team

Do your research and pick your real estate team wisely.

Buying a house is a huge investment and selling is just as big an undertaking. Whether you live nearby or miles away from Brooklyn, it’s important to hire the best real estate team possible. Each member of your team should be on your side to advise you through the buying or selling process, step by step, from start to finish. So, do your research and pick your team wisely.

Who should be on your real estate team?

Hiring the right real estate agent and mortgage broker is of number 1 importance, but you must first understand that you yourself have a role on your real estate team. You are your team’s leader. It is your job to assemble a team who will help you achieve your home buying or selling goals.

Your real estate team should include the following professionals:

  • Real estate agent or broker
  • Mortgage broker or loan officer
  • Home appraiser
  • Home inspector
  • Real estate attorney or settlement company
  • Insurance agent for required insurance, like flood insurance, for example
  • Home stager
  • Moving company and/or people to help with packing

First things first …

Before listing your house on the market, you need to hire:

  • A real estate agent – Your real estate agent should offer a market analysis of your home, help you determine your home’s listing price and give you a prioritized list of repairs and updates to get your home sold for the best price. In the Brooklyn market, the seller does not pay the buyer and the seller does not pick the title company, so the agent that you hire has to help with providing referrals to these services.
  • A home inspector – A home inspector finds what needs to be repaired before your home is listed. When these repairs are made, your home will look well-maintained and your home show better. These repairs also help to avoid delays leading up to the closing. Your home will appeal to prospective buyers as “move in ready.”
  • A home stager – A home stager knows how to present your home in the best way to attract buyers, from picking colors to removing personal photographs and more. They’ll choose new colors and suggest how to arrange furniture to make your home look as spacious as possible. This is the time you’ll want to declutter your home, by the way.
  • Don’t get so caught up on the inside of your home, though, that you neglect the outside. How your home looks to those who drive by or to those prospective buyers as they arrive for a tour is very important. Read Curb Appeal, A Quick Checklist for great insights on how to make a great first impression.

Your team needs to communicate well and on a very personal level

Buying and selling a home can be stressful and very personal. Make sure your team communicates with you well. If they’re not communicating with you or if they act like they don’t honestly care for your best, hire someone who does. You can’t do business with people who don’t respect you.

You want to work with a real estate agent like Charles D’Alessandro is a real estate agent with a heart for his clients.

  • Has experience and expertise with many of the problems his clients might run into
  • Provides his clients with advice and the best resources to get through the entire process efficiently
  • Knows there are emotions involved in buying or selling a home
  • Wants to get to know his clients and their families personally

Charles D’Alessandro, your Brooklyn real estate agent with Fillmore Real Estate has a heart for his clients. Put his very best to work for you today. Call (718) 253-9700 ext. 206 or email [email protected].

Want to Know How to Sell your Home Quickly?

Saturday, October 15th, 2016
Sell your home quickly

Want to sell your home quickly? Send your pet on vacation!

Whether Brooklyn’s housing market is hot or not, some homes seem to attract potential buyers and multiple bids without much effort. How does that happen? Is there a secret strategy that will sell your home quickly? No, there’s no secret, but there are 12 tried-and-true listing to-do’s that will help you sell your home – fast!

Want to sell your home quickly? Do this, this and this!

  1. Find a Top-notch Real Estate Agent

This to-do is listed first because it’s that important. Smart sellers hire the right real estate agent to sell their Brooklyn home. Charles D’Alessandro knows the local market inside and out and understands exactly how to position your home for potential buyers. Don’t settle for any less than the best!

  1. Hit the Perfect Price Point

You may think your home is worth top dollar, but charging top dollar isn’t always the best strategy to implement when you want to sell your home quickly. A whopping price could land your home on the market for a long spell. If you study the local comps carefully and follow Charles’ advice, you’ll hit the perfect price point.

  1. Focus on Maximizing Curb Appeal

If those who drive by your home like what they see, they’ll most likely show up at the open house. That’s why it pays to freshen up landscaping, trim bushes, paint the front door and add attractive outdoor lighting. Smart homeowners know that to sell your home quickly, you must focus on your home’s curb appeal.

  1. Update Kitchens and Bathrooms

An outdated kitchen or bathroom will turn prospective buyers off quicker than you can say, “Trick or treat?” Consider painting cabinets, updating faucet hardware, or replacing at least one of the kitchen appliances. This is an excellent strategy when you want to sell your home quickly, providing you update the rooms cautiously.

  1. Scrub the House Clean

Homes that are deep cleaned inside and out sell quickly. A thorough cleaning from top to bottom doesn’t cost much, but it takes a ton of time and elbow grease. Home buyers investigate every nook and cranny of a potential home. Smart sellers know this and will invest the extra time necessary to clean their closets, their basement, fans and baseboards, too.

  1. Address and Fix Potential Problems Before Inspection

It doesn’t make sense to spend a lot of money on renovations before you list your home, but it is smart to address any possible problems that might show up during inspection. Check the roof for leaks, look for sticky windows and make sure the wiring isn’t outdated. If a major problem is discovered during inspection, you may not get to sell your home quickly.

  1. Send Pets on Vacation

Dogs or cats, no matter how well-behaved or cute they are, aren’t selling points. Even potential buyers who happen to be animal lovers, too, won’t appreciate your pets. If you have pets and you want to sell your home quickly, send your family pet packing. Find a friend or relative to keep your pets and all their toys, crates, and bowls. Then open up the windows to let a lot of fresh air in.

  1. Hire the Pros

It’s true that certain up-front expenses can really pay off. Smart sellers hire floor refinishers, painters, and landscapers to spruce things up. Then they hire a professional real estate photographer to share images of their homes in their best light.

  1. Make Your Home Standout

Much like deep cleaning, a few spruce-ups can turn your house from boring into “Wow!” Add a coat of fresh paint in a warm neutral color to walls. Purchase some new and updated furniture and brighten up the room with new throws or pillows. Don’t forget to declutter counters, cabinets and closets. The “Wow Factor” will sell your home quickly.

  1. Talk About It, Talk About It, Talk About It

Your Brooklyn real estate agent, Charles D’Alessandro, will take care of the major marketing for your home, but word of mouth is an extremely effective tool to sell your home quickly. Let the world know about your listing. Share the news on Facebook, at the dentist’s office, on the playground, … everywhere you can.

  1. Be Show-ready, Always

The more people who tour your home, the greater your chances of finding a buyer quickly. Make your bed and fluff up the pillows as soon as you wake. Never leave a dirty dish in the sink. Set some fresh flowers on the dining room table. If your home is always neat and tidy, it is always ready to be shown at a moment’s notice.

  1. Time it Right

It’s a fact. Spring is the best time to list if you want to sell your home quickly. Listing a home during the months of March through May usually attracts more potential buyers, and curb appeal is at its best. But don’t discount selling in the fall. There are great reasons to list your home in the fall. Take a look at why listing in the fall is a smart move from the buyer’s perspective: 10 Reasons Why House Hunting in the Fall is a Wise Move.

Want to sell your home quickly? Contact Charles D’Alessandro, your Brooklyn real estate agent with Fillmore Real Estate at (718) 253-9700 ext. 206 or email [email protected]. Charles knows the Brooklyn market and what it takes to help you sell your home quickly.