Archive for the ‘Buying Real Estate’ Category

The Hidden Costs Of Brooklyn Homeownership

Tuesday, June 15th, 2021

Brooklyn homeownerhsip house and money

Finally, you are experiencing Brooklyn Homeownership. You found the perfect home and have settled in comfortably. You may have been surprised by the expenses you had incurred in the buying process. Closing costs, down payment, and moving costs added up to more than you expected.

There is more to the cost of Brooklyn homeownership than those initial costs incurred. Let’s take a look at some of the hidden costs of owning a home.

1. Home maintenance and repair.

Home maintenance and repair may be a significant expense of Brooklyn homeownership, depending on the age and condition of the home you purchased. Some items that fall into this category are:

  • Lawn maintenance
  • Cleaning
  • Gutter maintenance
  • Pest prevention
  • Weatherproofing
  • Exterior maintenance
  • Roof maintenance
  • HVAC maintenance
  • Plumbing maintenance
  • Emergency repairs

2. Home Owners Insurance

Home owner’s insurance is an expense you would expect to have during homeownership. Your mortgage lender most likely will require you escrow for your insurance payments. You must understand what your policy will cover, and your deductible amounts should you need to utilize the policy. 

It is also essential to determine if you would need any additional insurance. You may want to consider a personal property rider or a sewer and water line rider. Consult with your insurance agent to determine if you have all the coverage you need.

Review your policy periodically throughout your homeownership to keep it up to date.

3. Property Taxes

When you purchased your home, you were aware of the fact you would be paying property taxes. What you may not be prepared for is an increase in property taxes. If the tax rate increases or your property assessment were to change, the amount of property tax you would owe would increase.

4. Utility Expenses

Total utility expenses can often be surprising to new homeowners. If you were renting before your Brooklyn homeownership, you might not have paid for all your utilities yourself, and the expense may not be what you expected.

Costs can vary from season to season depending on the weather.

I recommend asking the homeowner about their utility expenses when you are considering your home purchase. Although your number of household members may be different, which would affect utility usage, you will have a good basis to budget your monthly expenses.

5. HOA Fees

If you live in a community with a homeowner’s association, you most likely will be paying a monthly, quarterly, or annual fee to the association. These fees vary from community to community based on what they will cover. 

You should investigate what is covered by your association before purchasing a home. I have seen homeowners assume something is covered only to discover when a repair is necessary that it is not and is the owner’s responsibility.

6. Furnishings

If you have more space in your new home, you most likely will want to furnish it. Purchasing new furnishings is where you can break your budget. You may consider waiting until you have made your first mortgage payment before buying anything new.

Create a plan and a budget. Make a list of the furnishing you need and a priority. Then you can estimate the cost for each. Try to avoid the urge to splurge when first moving into your home. After living in the space for a while, you may decide you need different items for the functionality of the rooms.

7. Commuting

Your new home may be further from your old home. Whether you are driving or taking public transportation, you may experience an increased cost in getting to work. If you didn’t own a vehicle and now find you need one to get around or need a second car for your spouse, you will be facing additional expenses.

Now that you know some of the hidden costs of Brooklyn homeownership, you need to create a budget. It is vital to develop a realistic spending plan, so you know you have enough money to cover the things you need along with the things that are important to you.

Start by calculating the costs of owning your home. Things to include are:

  • Monthly mortgage payment
  • Taxes and insurance if not included in your mortgage payment
  • Monthly utility costs
  • Maintenance and repairs
  • Updating and furnishing
  • Homeowner’s Association Fees
  • Emergency fund

It is important to save for an emergency fund should something unexpectedly need to be repaired or replaced in the home.

You will then need to include your other monthly expenses such as car payments, commuting expenses, groceries, student loan payments, entertainment, child care, and any additional recurring monthly payments.

After totaling your monthly expenses, compare that to your total monthly income. If your income is higher, you can plan to add to your savings for retirement or your dream vacation. If you need to shave your budget to save money, take a hard look at what adjustments you can make. 

Now that you have a budget set, you need to use it. Tracking your expenses is essential. You can avoid overspending by recording what you have spent each week. By logging your expenditures, you can identify any unnecessary spending in any category. 

Periodically review and adjust your budget as necessary. Consider reviewing your budget every quarter.

Now that you have a handle on the expenses of Brooklyn homeownership, you may want to start looking for ways to save money.

You can save money on home maintenance by:

1. Doing it yourself. 

Not all home maintenance issues require a professional. Lawn care, cleaning, painting, and other regular maintenance issues may be items you can do yourself. There are many available resources to help you learn these routine tasks. Knowing your abilities will determine what you choose to do around the home yourself.

2. Hire quality professionals

When you need something repaired that is beyond your skillset, the lowest-priced professional may not be your best bet. Do your research to know if the professional you are hiring is licensed and insured with a good reputation. You may get some good recommendations from friends and neighbors.

3. Don’t defer maintenance

There are regular maintenance items that need attention throughout your home. This helpful New York Times article breaks down home maintenance by season. Deferring home maintenance can cost you more money in repairs down the line.  For example, a running toilet can double or triple your water costs.

4. Check the insulation of your home

A well-insulated home can save energy costs. If you need to invest in better insulation, doing it early in your homeownership will save you money for years to come.

5. Install a programable thermostat

You can save money on heating and cooling expenses by installing a programable thermostat. You can adjust the temperature for the times you are sleeping or away from home. The thermostat can be programmed to readjust the temperature before waking up or arriving home to your comfort level.

6. Obtain a home warranty

When you purchase a home, the seller may be offering a home warranty. If they are not offering one upfront, you can negotiate with the seller to provide one or purchase one yourself. Be sure to discuss this with your real estate agent before closing. A home warranty can save you thousands of dollars in repair costs.

The home warranty will cover major components of the home and other repairs. They work as an insurance policy. You will be required to pay a service fee (deductible). If you have owned your home for a while, you may still be able to purchase a home warranty policy. Check the coverage carefully because it may vary from company to company.

Understanding the hidden costs of homeownership and budgeting for them is vital to anyone considering Brooklyn homeownership. If you are just starting your home search, check out my previous blog post to learn what to consider when you think you have found the perfect home.

Owning a home of your own is one of the best investments you can make. Proper planning will prevent you from becoming overwhelmed.

Contact me, Charles D’Alessandro, your Brooklyn Real Estate Agent with Fillmore Real Estate. As a Brooklyn real estate agent with over 30 years of experience, I understand homeownership costs and can help you prepare for them. I can be reached by phone at (718) 253-9500 ext. 1901 or by email at [email protected].

10 Brooklyn Homeownership Misunderstandings

Sunday, May 30th, 2021

Confused couple learning about Brooklyn homeownership misunderstandings.

There are many misunderstandings about Brooklyn homeownership that I have heard in my 30+ years of experience. I continue to listen to some of the same myths from homeowners and homebuyers. 

Today I discuss ten misunderstandings that I repeatedly hear about Brooklyn homeownership.

1. Renters don’t have to pay taxes and insurance. 

Although a renter does not directly pay these expenses to the governing bodies and insurance companies, the landlord will consider them in his rent calculation. When a landlord calculates the amount they will charge for rent, they look at several different factors. The home’s current market value is a top consideration. A landlord will also look at what the current local rent is for a similar property. They will also use their expenses as a factor in the calculation. These expenses could include the mortgage payment, taxes, insurance, HOA fees, maintenance costs, and property management costs. 

All renters need to obtain renters insurance. Renters insurance will cover the cost of your belongings should something happen in the home. Getting renters insurance may be a condition in your lease. Read your lease carefully. Protect yourself with renters insurance.

2. You only need a down payment to buy a home.

There are more costs to purchasing a home than just the down payment. You will need to cover expenses such as home inspections, pest inspections, and lender closings costs. Your lender can provide you with an estimate of what the closing costs would add up to when you obtain a pre-approval. Remember, this is just an estimate, and they can vary depending on municipal taxes, homeowners associations, and other factors. 

You must understand all the costs associated with a home purchase before you write an offer on any home.

3. If I have a mortgage pre-approval, I can afford the home.

Investment experts recommend that you do not spend more than 30% of your gross monthly income on a mortgage payment. Your lender may approve you for much more than that when they calculate your current income and expenses. Consider your lifestyle when deciding home much you want to invest monthly in your home. Suppose you like to go on vacations, eat out frequently, or have another big financial investment goal. In that case,l, you should not spend the maximum amount your lender will approve if you have other financial goals in addition to Brooklyn homeownership.

4. You need to put 20% down to purchase a home.

Ideally, you would want to put as large a down payment as possible when you purchase a home. Not only will it lower your monthly mortgage payment, but it will also build your equity quicker. However, many mortgage loan programs do not require a 20% down payment. If you are a veteran, you may qualify for a VA loan with no downpayment requirement. An FHA mortgage downpayment could be as low as 3.5%. Numerous other loan programs offer low down payments. Check with your lender to see what they have available. They can also discuss the advantages of each loan program with you. 

5. You need perfect credit to obtain a loan.

There are many different loan programs, and there are different levels of acceptable credit score per loan program. Credit scores run from 300 – 850. You don’t need a perfect 850 score to obtain a mortgage because there are different loan programs for varying credit score levels. If your credit score is below 580, you may need to work on credit repair before purchasing a home. It doesn’t take as long as you think to improve your credit. Working with a good credit repair professional will help you boost your score and get you into a home of your own sooner than you think possible. A mortgage lender should be able to help you find a reputable credit repair professional.

6. Having a home inspection will guarantee you won’t have problems with your home.

I wish this weren’t a misunderstanding, but it is. A home inspector does the most thorough inspection that they can. However, there are components of the home they can not examine with a typical home inspection. They can not see everything from their visual inspection. Only Superman has x-ray vision. Most home inspectors do a great job evaluating a home, but there may be unforeseen issues they may not be able to detect in a typical home inspection. That doesn’t mean you will have any problems with your home purchase. However, you need to discuss with your real estate agent and home inspector what they can and can not evaluate. If you are purchasing an existing home, you can expect something will arise during your ownership that will require maintenance or repair.

7. A newly constructed home is maintenance-free.

Maintenance requirements for a new home is a misunderstanding that takes many new homeowners by surprise. Owning a home means you will always be required to maintain the house. Unless you have purchased in a co-op where maintenance is part of the package, expect to invest time and money on maintaining your home. Better Homes and Gardens put together this comprehensive home maintenance checklist that is an excellent guide for homeowners. It is important to keep up with regular maintenance to prevent a significant expense for deferred maintenance of your home components.

8. All home improvements add value.

First of all, don’t expect any home improvement to bring back dollar for dollar of the cost. The return on investment varies from region to region. ROI can depend on the local area, weather, and cost of living. You can find many resources to help you calculate what you can expect. Another consideration when deciding on a home improvement is how long you intend to live in the home. Sometimes you just want to add an improvement for your use and enjoyment even if it doesn’t add additional value to the house. Here is a link to a recent blog post on my website addressing the possibility of over-improving your Brooklyn home. You will find some good food for thought as you decide on home improvements.

9. You can do whatever you want on your property when you own a home.

Local municipality regulations, zoning requirements, and homeowner associations can dictate what you can and can not do on your property. Before finalizing the purchase of a home that is part of a homeowner’s association, be sure to get a copy of the governing documents to review. In these documents, you will find their by-laws, rules and regulations, and policies. It is also wise to check the municipality regulations and zoning requirements, particularly if you purchase the property with a specific use in mind. Don’t rely on someone, including your real estate agent, to provide that information to you. Do your due diligence and ask questions. This is not an area where it is better to ask for forgiveness than permission. 

10. Home values always appreciate.

Many factors determine a home’s appreciation. It isn’t easy to predict what will happen in any local real estate market. But you need to know that homes do not always appreciate. One of the main factors is the location of the house. If the home is in a desirable area, you can expect appreciation. If the area is declining, it can have a negative effect. Be wary of buying the most expensive home in any neighborhood, especially when the houses surrounding the home for sale are smaller and less expensive. The economy in the area will also affect the rate of appreciation. If the economy is declining, you probably will not experience an increased appreciation of the home. Also, local development can play a factor in a home’s appreciation. Commercial construction in an area can either be a boost or a detriment to the rate of appreciation.

I hope these explanations clear up a few questions you may have about Brooklyn homeownership. Doing your homework is crucial when you are purchasing a home. And hiring an experienced real estate professional who is working on your behalf is priceless.

Contact me, Charles D’Alessandro, your Brooklyn Real Estate Agent with Fillmore Real Estate. As a Brooklyn real estate agent with over 30 years of experience, I  have helped many home buyers and sellers uncover the answers to their questions.

In the event our office is shut down, we are always committed to your safety during the COVID-19 health crisis in compliance with the State of New York public health policies. I can be reached by phone at (718) 253-9500 ext. 1901 or by email at [email protected].

Charles D'Allesandro

Smooth Move For Brooklyn Home Sellers

Monday, May 17th, 2021

Brooklyn Home Sellers resting after packing.

Once a Brooklyn Home Seller accepts a buyer’s offer on their home, it is time to prepare for the move. No rest for the weary when it comes to closing on a home and preparing to move.

Your preparation should begin before you put your home on the market. A big part of preparation is decluttering. Purging the items that you no longer need or use before listing your home for sale can save you time when you start packing your home for the move. You will also save money on moving expenses if you sell or donate your unwanted furniture, clothing, and household items before starting the packing process.

Brooklyn home sellers should consult with the real estate professional to understand the timelines of their sales agreement.

This previous blog post will help you understand the closing process. Now that you know the deadlines to meet, you need to get to work.

Remember that you will need to forward your mail delivery.

 You can find the information to set up your forwarding address on the USPS website. Consider leaving your forwarding address with the buyers if any packages or mail is delivered to the home.

Contact the utility companies that service the home to order a final meter reading and provide your forwarding address for the final bill.

 Your real estate agent will also give the utility company information to the buyer so that they can set up their accounts to transfer into their name upon possession of the home. Don’t forget to set up your new utility accounts for your new home also.

If you are using a professional mover, it is crucial to contact them right away to schedule the moving date you will need.

I would recommend getting quotes from several different companies to ensure you are not overpaying for your move. If you are doing it yourself, be sure to reserve a moving van in advance to ensure you have one available on moving day.

If you are doing the packing yourself, you will need to gather supplies. Some items you will need include:

  1. Boxes – you will need some standard moving boxes, but you may also need some specialty boxes. Dish packs are sturdier to handle the extra weight of kitchen items. Wardrobe boxes have a clothing rod so that you can move clothing on their hangers. You will also need varying sizes of boxes.
  2. Wrap – you will need some type of wrapping to cushion fragile items. You can purchase foam sheets, bubble wrap, or packing paper to cover and protect your items.
  3. Tape – You will need sturdy packing tape to secure your boxes. A tape gun can make the job of handling the tape quick and less frustrating. Purchasing multi-packs of tape can save you some money.
  4. Furniture pads or covers – Your mover may provide these for you, or you may be able to rent them. Using covers can help keep your furniture clean and prevent it from being damaged.
  5. Toolset – Having a toolset handy will help disassemble items. It would be a good idea to carry them with you to your new home to reassemble items as you set up your new home quickly.
  6. Stretch wrap – Using the stretch wrap to secure furniture drawers is a great idea. You can also wrap furniture pieces to protect them from damage.
  7. General cleaning supplies – You will need general cleaning items plus garbage bags, buckets, and brooms. Be sure to clean each room as you finish packing.
  8. Mattress bags – Protect your mattresses from getting dirty with a mattress bag. Your moving company may have them available. Or you can search online to find them.

Once the supplies are gathered, Brooklyn home sellers should create a packing plan. An excellent way to tackle this ominous task is to go room by room.

Some things to consider in your plan:

  1. Timeframe – allow enough time to get the job done. Most people underestimate the amount of time it will take to pack. Don’t create a stressful situation by waiting until the last minute to start.
  2. Pack Lightly – Consider what you are putting into each box. Be sure that you are not adding too much weight to any of your boxes. A weighty box could cause the movers trouble lifting the box and potentially damaging the contents if they were to drop it.
  3. Designated Station – Create a designated packing station where you have ample supplies. Ideally, you should have a nice-sized surface to wrap and pack your items.
  4. Packing materials – Don’t spare the packing paper or bubble wrap. Use plenty of packing materials to protect your fragile items and prevent items from moving inside the boxes.
  5. Quality boxes – Don’t be tempted to use free boxes from your local stores. Uniform-sized and sturdy boxes make packing the moving truck much more manageable.

Mark your boxes with as much detail as possible. You may need to access items before you have had a chance to unpack everything at your new home. Having a detailed description of the contents in each box can help you find things quickly.

Labeling and numbering boxes can be beneficial when you arrive at your new destination. The movers can move them into the proper rooms when they are marked.

One great tip I heard was to pack a “First Night” box with items you may need immediately when you reach your destination. Consider what you will need like personal items, pet foods or medications, clothing, towels, etc.

Be sure to double-check your sales agreement for items that are expected to convey with the sale. Mark those items with a post-it note so that they don’t inadvertently get packed.

At this point, our Brooklyn home sellers are ready for moving day. Some tips to keep in mind on moving day are:

  1. Keep your valuable items with you. It is always a wise idea to pack and move these items yourself to prevent any potential loss. Keep your jewelry, cash, expensive electronics, and prescription medications with you.
  2. Hire a sitter. Having small children and pets in the way on moving day can make it stressful for you and the movers. You may want to consider having someone watch them outside of the home on moving day.
  3. Be home on moving day. You need to oversee the process and be available to answer any questions the movers may have. If you can not be there, be sure to have someone you trust to oversee the process for you.
  4. Keep traffic flow clear. Be sure there is a clear traffic flow for the movers inside and outside your home, free of obstacles.
  5. Photograph your furnishings. It is wise to take photos of your precious and expensive to replace items before the movers arrive to prove the item’s condition before being moved.

Once the movers have your home packed up, it is time for one final cleaning. You can either do the cleaning yourself or hire a cleaning service.

Here is a checklist of suggested items:

  1. Check cabinets, drawers, and closets for any forgotten items. 
  2. Remove any remaining personal items.
  3. Sweep floors free of debris.
  4. Wipe down surfaces.
  5. Clean the kitchen appliances, especially the refrigerator.
  6. Give the bathrooms a good cleaning, including sinks, bathtubs, and toilets.
  7. Remove any nails and patch holes.
  8. Touch up any damage caused during the move.
  9. Remove all trash from the property.
  10. Don’t leave paint cans unless the buyer would like the extra paint for touchups.

Brooklyn home sellers often ask “how clean” is clean.  Most sales agreements reference “broom clean.” But, use your common sense and consideration for the buyer when working through the home. Clean as you finish packing a room, then a quick sweep of the floors and a few touch-ups may be all you need to do when the movers finish packing.

Make arrangements with your real estate agent for the keys and garage door openers. 

Whether you are moving out of town or just down the street, these tips will help you experience less stress with your move.

Contact me, Charles D’Alessandro, your Brooklyn Real Estate Agent with Fillmore Real Estate. As a Brooklyn real estate agent with over 30 years of experience, I  can answer your moving questions.

In the event our office is shut down, we are always committed to your safety during the COVID-19 health crisis in compliance with the State of New York public health policies. I can be reached by phone at (718) 253-9500 ext. 1901 or by email at [email protected].

Brooklyn Homeowners, Now Is The Time To Transform Your Outdoor Space!

Friday, April 30th, 2021

Backyard patio

Spring has sprung in the yards of Brooklyn homeowners. Our thoughts are turning from cozy fireplaces and warm blankets to outdoor grilling and relaxing. 

Entertaining options are opening up slowly, but entertainment choices may still be limited this summer. You may want to consider transforming your outdoor space for your summer enjoyment. 

An updated outdoor living space can add value and appeal to your home. Depending on the construction materials, a new deck addition can add anywhere from 73% to 77% value of the cost to construct. You can find more information on this website for Cost VS Value.

If you are not a Brooklyn homeowner and are renting, you can still create an outdoor space for you to enjoy. Be sure to check with your landlord about your transformation plans if you make any permanent changes to the property.

You can make outdoor transformations whether you have a large or a small space. With creativity, planning, and some elbow grease, you can create your personal oasis to enjoy all summer long.

Enhance the view.

If you have a fantastic view, don’t obstruct it. Create your oasis to make the most of that view. If you are adding any new plantings, be sure to pay attention to how large they grow. A small tree can grow quicker than you think and eventually impede your view. If you have a less than appealing view, you will want to camouflage that with plantings, trees, and possibly fencing. A design that blends into the local environment will create long-lasting appeal for any Brooklyn homeowner.

Declutter furnishings, play equipment, and landscaping.

 More is not always better. Take a close look at your furniture and accessories to assess whether they need repaired, replaced, or trashed. You may want to relocate or remove play equipment that may be taking up a prime spot in the yard. If your children no longer utilize the play equipment, it may be a good time to remove it. You can possibly sell it to another family who is sprucing up their outdoor space and earn some extra cash for your outdoor project. Don’t forget to evaluate your landscaping for any decluttering. Do you have plants that need to be separated or removed? Trim all shrubs and trees for a neat, manicured appearance.

Plan new landscaping.

After you have decluttered your existing landscaping, do you need to add a few things? Would you like to create a new planting bed? Carefully plan and select the plants for easy maintenance and longevity. Be sure the plants you choose are weather-resistant for the area. Find out which varieties attract animals that will eat and destroy the appearance of your hard work. Create some interest with hardscaping. Consider a stone path or steps in your yard.

Add, replace, or update a patio or deck.

A well-designed deck or patio will be the main stage for your outdoor oasis. If you have an existing patio or deck, does it need a facelift? Power washing will help tremendously to remove the excess dirt and grime from the winter weather. You may need to re-stain or paint the area as well. If you are building new, consider the traffic flow the deck may need. If you will need stairs, are they located in a position that will create good flow? Assess the skirting if you have an elevated deck. Replace it with an appealing material that could provide an interesting backdrop for plantings. If needed, create an open, airy privacy screen. Also, consider whether you would like to have a covering to provide shade. Would that be a permanent roof, a pergola, or a temporary canopy?

Create privacy.

 Many Brooklyn homeowners long for solitude when enjoying their outdoor spaces, even when they love their neighbors. You can create a sense of privacy with screens, walls, or fences, as well as landscaping. Arbors and roofing provide an extra feel of seclusion.

Enhance the lighting.

Many homes have an exterior light on the back wall as the primary source of light. Security lighting is your first consideration. Motion-sensor lighting is a way to deter burglars and destructive animals. Consider adding additional light with deck lighting and landscape lighting. There are many options to choose from when it comes to landscape lighting. You may want to add some fun with string lighting on the patio or deck.

Comfortable furnishings.

Create seating groups throughout your outdoor oasis if you have space. Consider a place for eating with dining furniture or picnic tables. You may want a relaxing space that has comfortable lounge chairs. If you entertain, you may want to consider sectional seating that may fit even more guests. How would you like a hammock in a quiet corner of the yard for those lazy, hazy summer days? When your outdoor furnishings are comfortable, you will be more inclined to utilize your outdoor space.

Water Features.

An outdoor water feature could be as elaborate as a swimming pool or as small as a birdbath. The sound of water flowing in a fountain is relaxing and can help you destress. You may want a small pond with fish to watch as you while away the afternoon. The sight and sound of water can be therapeutic, and you can add a water feature to your backyard on any budget.

Add some shade.

When the sun is beating down, you may not enjoy your outdoor space. Adding some much-needed shade can be the answer to getting the most enjoyment outdoors. If you don’t have a roof on your deck, you may consider an umbrella, canopy, or pergola. You can use these methods of shade throughout the yard if you have created different seating areas.

Make the entrance inviting.

If guests are entering from the outside directly to your backyard, make it as inviting as you do your front entry letting your guest know they have arrived. Some additional lighting can help evening visitors enter and exit safely. If you have a gate, be sure it is in good repair and easy to open and close.

Consider a she-shed or man-cave.

You can create unique spaces for exercise, reading, crafting, or whatever your heart desires. Having electricity and running water could take it over the top. A cozy backyard retreat may be the best gift you give yourself.

Create garden spaces.

A favorite summer outdoor activity is gardening. Whether you create a small herb garden or a vegetable garden, you can nurture the plants and harvest delectable delights all summer long.

With many still working from home due to the pandemic, Brooklyn homeowners will find a well-planned outdoor space can become the sanctuary you need to remove yourself from your work. It will also provide you an excellent area for enjoying the company of family and friends. 

Take the time to inventory what you currently have and plan for the ideal space that meets your budget. Some careful thought and planning will create years of enjoyment of your outdoor space.

Check with your municipality to determine their guidelines and restrictions. Brooklyn homeowners need to obtain any necessary building permits before they begin. 

While you are creating your outdoor spaces, you may want to spend some time improving the curb appeal of your home. You can find more information on the previous blog post to help you.

Contact me, Charles D’Alessandro, your Brooklyn Real Estate Agent with Fillmore Real Estate. As a Brooklyn real estate agent with over 30 years of experience, I have seen some great outdoor spaces and can help you decide what will add value to your home.
In the event our office is shut down, we are always committed to your safety during the COVID-19 health crisis in compliance with the State of New York public health policies. I can be reached by phone at (718) 253-9500 ext. 1901 or by email at [email protected].

Charles D'Allesandro

Watch For Red Flags During Your Brooklyn Home Search

Thursday, April 15th, 2021

Unhappy homeowner doing house repair

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Contact me, Charles D’Alessandro, your Brooklyn Real Estate Agent with Fillmore Real Estate. As a Brooklyn real estate agent with over 30 years of experience, I understand the local market, and can help you with your Brooklyn home search.
In the event our office is shut down, we are always committed to your safety during the COVID-19 health crisis in compliance with the State of New York public health policies. I can be reached by phone at (718) 253-9500 ext. 1901 or by email at [email protected].

Charles D'Allesandro

Considerations When Buying A Brooklyn Home

Friday, April 2nd, 2021

Couple looking at houses on laptop

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Home inspections can also be an area to negotiate.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Contact me, Charles D’Alessandro, your Brooklyn Real Estate Agent with Fillmore Real Estate. As a Brooklyn real estate agent with over 30 years of experience, I understand the local market and have helped many when buying a Brooklyn home.

In the event our office is shut down, we are always committed to your safety during the COVID-19 health crisis in compliance with the State of New York public health policies. I can be reached by phone at (718) 253-9500 ext. 1901 or by email at [email protected].

Charles D'Allesandro

Can You Over-Improve Your Brooklyn Home?

Monday, March 15th, 2021

Couple doing home improvements

Yes, you can over-improve your Brooklyn home. 

What does it mean to over-improve Brooklyn home? Simply put, you over-improve your Brooklyn home when you make improvements that are not typical for the neighborhood. More money is spent on the improvement than you can recoup when the property sells. A home’s value is determined by the location, square footage, and comparable home sales in a neighborhood. The finishes inside may help the home sell quicker but may not increase the home’s value equal to the cost.

You cannot expect a dollar-for-dollar return on improvements in most areas of the home. However, when you over-improve your Brooklyn home, you will get a small or no return on the improvement.

The return on improvements may vary from region to region also. For example, New York is located in the Mid-Atlantic region. If you were to do a mid-range bathroom update, you should expect a 51% return on your investment. If you were to improve the Pacific region, you could expect a 58% return on your investment. Remodeling Magazine has published a National Cost vs. Value comparison.

You may also expect a different return on investment from one local neighborhood to another.

If you update a kitchen with top-of-the-line cabinetry, appliances, and counters, you may not receive any return on investment if it is in a neighborhood that you would not expect that type of improvement. 

If your updates are too taste-specific, it is unlikely you would be able to recoup any costs. Your updates should appeal to a broad range of buyers to get the most bang for your buck if selling your home.

When you are considering an improvement or update, stop and think things through before you commit.

Is the update something that is needed? If the roof is leaking, you need to replace it. On the other hand, a hot tub may not improve the value and will not appeal to all buyers. Are you making this improvement because it is something you want to enjoy, or are you improving to increase your home’s appeal for potential buyers?

Can you do the work, or will you need to hire a professional to do the job? If you do not have the skill or the time, you should consider hiring a professional. You will be able to save on some of the costs if you can do the work yourself. But, if you cannot do the job well, you may end up losing in the long run.

Where is it wise to spend money on home improvements so as not to over-improve your Brooklyn home? Remember, if you are considering selling soon, the selections you make should appeal to a broad range of potential buyers.

  1. Kitchens – The old real estate adage is that kitchens and baths sell homes. Your kitchen update should be in line with other homes in the neighborhood. You should select the best quality cabinetry, counters, and appliances that will look good and function well for your budget. Changing a kitchen layout may make sense, but you need to account for the additional cost required to move water, sewage, or gas lines. 
  2. Bathrooms – A worn-out, tired bathroom can leave the impression that the home is not well maintained. If you watch any home improvement shows, you will see that the spa-like bathroom is trending.
  3. Flooring – Updating your flooring can be an easy fix compared to other improvements. Replace the worn-out flooring with something new and fresh looking. Whether you are updating carpet, tile, laminate, or wood, you should be able to find some cost-saving choices.
  4. Exterior – Think curb appeal. Flaking or peeling paint does not make a good first impression. If you need to replace siding, that is an investment that will return some costs and save the hassle of maintenance. Don’t neglect to landscape either. Fresh mulch, some new plantings, and a fresh-cut lawn certainly boost the curb appeal. Find out more about improving curb appeal from this previous blog post.
  5. Maintenance – Staying on top of home maintenance items is well worth the investment of time and money. Regular maintenance may extend the life of some high-priced home components and prevent safety issues from cropping up. Ensuring that your home’s structure and major components remain sound should be a priority for every homeowner.
  6. Addition – you may find you need more space but may not want to make a move to a larger home. Be careful not to overbuild for the neighborhood. The type of room you add will affect the value. A bathroom addition is one of the more valuable additions made to a home.
  7. Basement – Adding additional living space utilizing unfinished space in the basement can be a good investment. You may be able to create a man-cave, playroom, guest space, or home office to make good use of the area without the expense of adding an addition.

When taking on any home improvement project, you should consider how long you plan to stay in the home. If you know you will not be staying long-term, you may need to make different decisions on the improvements you make to avoid the chance you will over-improve your Brooklyn home.

Saving money is always a good idea whether you plan to stay in the home or sell it. Some ways to save money include:

  1. Budget – The word budget does not mean cheap. You should establish the amount of money you want to spend on a project. Determine how much you’d like to spend on this project before you start designing and planning. Next, make selections that fit within the money you have allotted. Buy the best quality products in your price range. 
  2. Reuse – You can save money by reusing cabinetry or fixtures and giving them an update. Consider buying items from salvage yards, and stores like Habitat for Humanity Restores to save money where you can.
  3. Estimates – Get estimates from several contractors. Compare the estimates to be sure they include the same things. Be sure to get references and check them before hiring any contractor.
  4. Classics – Choose classic design when possible on the higher-cost items. Trends come and go so quickly. If you select tiles with a bold pattern and color, you may tire of it quickly. The cost of replacing the tile may be a hefty expense down the road. Select a more classic style and add your trendy pieces with more manageable and less costly items to replace.
  5. Sell – If you are replacing items, try to sell the old ones. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure. You may be able to use the cash you generate on your project.

With home improvement projects, you will have some unexpected expenses. Be sure to allocate a contingency in your budget for those unknowns.

Every municipality has its regulations for home improvements. Check to see if you must have a building permit or inspections through your municipality before starting any project.

If you know you will be selling your home in the future, it is essential to understand which improvements could hurt resale:

  1. Covering up period details in older homes.
  2. Sacrificing bedroom space.
  3. Built-in furniture.
  4. High maintenance landscaping.
  5. Converting a garage.
  6. Installing solar panels.
  7. A swimming pool.

Although you may enjoy these items, potential home buyers may not hold the same enthusiasm. 

As a reminder, before you start any home improvement project, you should consider:

  1. How long do you plan to live in the home?
  2. Is the improvement similar to other homes in the neighborhood?
  3. Will the improvement increase the home’s value?

A good idea before undertaking improvements is to talk to friends, neighbors, and professionals for input on your ideas. As your real estate professional, I would be happy to discuss any improvements you are considering.  As a real estate agent, I see many homes and learn firsthand from buyers what they find appealing. Making decisions isn’t always easy. Gathering information and input from others can help you see things more clearly.

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

In the event our office is shut down, we are always committed to your safety during the COVID-19 health crisis in compliance with the State of New York public health policies. I can be reached by phone at (718) 253-9500 ext. 1901 or by email at [email protected].

Is Staging Important Before You List Your Brooklyn Home?

Sunday, February 28th, 2021

Is Staging Important Before You List Your Brooklyn Home?

If you want to list your Brooklyn home for sale, you have probably heard about home staging as part of the preparation process. What exactly is home staging?

Home staging is not to be confused with interior design or interior decorating. Home staging is a marketing tool used to help a home sell faster and for more money.

By preparing the home to appeal to most buyers, you will have more people looking at the house and possibly receive multiple offers.

According to statistics from the National Association of Realtors, 77% of buyers felt more able to see themselves moving into a staged home. 

What is home staging?

The purpose of home staging goes beyond decluttering and depersonalizing your home. The objective is to make your Brooklyn home more appealing by making the house look bigger, brighter, and inviting.

Home staging will enhance the positive features of the home and downplay any negative characteristics. 

It is setting the stage psychologically for the buyer to picture themselves living in the home. Home staging is essential to set the home apart from other homes on the market.

Here is how the majority of buyers think when viewing a home:
  1. They don’t want to do a lot of work in their new home. They want to move in with as little work as possible.
  2. If the seller can not make an effort to prepare their home for sale, they most likely neglected to do regular maintenance around the house as well. Staging your home for sale suggests that you take excellent care of your home.
  3. They are looking at how they can use the space in a home. Showing them the possibility is essential.
  4. Buyers feel a home that presents well is worth the asking price.
  5. Only 10% of buyers can visualize the potential of a home. The majority of buyers can not see beyond the clutter and un
  6. cleanliness.

How do you stage your home?

It is important to do all the home staging before you list your Brooklyn home. You want the photos of the house online to show the home in its best light.

Your real estate agent may be able to help you or recommend a home staging professional who can stage your home.

The amount of staging needed varies from home to home. If you live in the house, you should use your furnishings for the staging. If your home is vacant, the home stager may rent furniture and accessories for specific rooms.

Rearranging the furniture may be necessary to help with the traffic flow and make the room appear larger.

Cleaning will be necessary to make sure every inch of the home is sparkling.

Sometimes it will be necessary to paint and do some minor repair items. If you have used many bold colors personalized to your style, a fresh coat of paint will go a long way to appeal to a broader range of buyers. This article has some good information on suggested colors to use.

Removing personal items to ⅓ of what you had will help the buyer to visualize themselves and their belongings in the home.

Can You Stage Your Own Home?

The standard answer in real estate is always, “it depends.” If you can objectively look at your home without attachment, you may be able to do it yourself. You will need to commit to completing the work before you list your Brooklyn home. Having a 3rd party who is objective and not emotionally attached to the house may be advisable.

Where Do I Start?

To begin any staging project, you first need to clean and declutter your home. We are not talking about just a spring cleaning. We are talking about cleaning as you have never cleaned before. Ensure the grout is clean, the floors are sparkling, and the silverware drawer is free from those little crumbly things that always seem to end up there. 

As you are cleaning cabinets, pantries, and closets, start to declutter. Organization in these areas will create the appearance of substantial space. 

If your closets are packed with clothes, take out the seasonal items you are not using and pack them away. You need to show space between those hangars, so it feels like there is enough room for everything. The buyer will conclude that there isn’t enough space for their things either when they open a fully packed closet.

Should I Stage All Rooms?

You want to be sure that all rooms are cleaned and decluttered. The rooms to focus on are the Living Room, Kitchen, Master Bedroom, and Bathrooms.

Ideas for a Living Room:
  1. Make sure the natural light is coming through the windows. Be sure blinds are open and any heavy drapery removed. If the view isn’t so great, use a sheer window treatment to camouflage the view but let in light. 
  2. Update any light fixtures and be sure they have bright enough bulbs to illuminate the room properly.
  3. Paint dated or bold walls with a neutral color that will appeal to a broad range of buyers. A warm neutral is usually a good choice.
  4. Arrange the furniture so as not to block the traffic flow. Maximize the space. If you have too many furniture pieces in the room, you may need to remove some pieces to present a more spacious feel.
Ideas for a Kitchen:
  1. Give the cabinets a facelift if they need it. Make sure drawers and doors and in good working order. Clean the faces of the cabinets. Replacing drawer pulls can give the kitchen a more modern feel.
  2. Clear counters and only keep out the minimum things you need. If you have all your small kitchen appliances displayed, the buyers will feel there is not enough storage space to get them off the counters. Again, we want to create the feeling of space and eliminate clutter.
  3. It is vital to keep odors out of the kitchen while showing your Brooklyn home. Be conscious of the smells left behind from something you cooked, and the trash is emptied.
Ideas for Bedrooms:
  1. Keep these spaces gender-neutral whenever possible. 
  2. Make the room feel spacious by eliminating unnecessary furniture. Try keeping it to the bed, nightstands, and maybe a dresser for a good traffic flow. Keep the items on the surfaces to a minimum.
  3. A splash of color is fine with some accessories such as pillows or throws.
Ideas for Bathrooms:
  1. Be sure the sink, tub, and toilet are sparkling clean. Re-grout and replace caulk if necessary. 
  2. Keep all personal items and toiletries stored under the sink or in a linen closet. 
  3. Create a spa-like feel with a scented candle or potted plant. The scents of jasmine and lavender will create a calming feeling.

If you live in the home while it is for sale, you will need to be diligent about keeping the house in show-ready condition. You never know when a buyer is going to want to see the home. You can request a notice of a few hours before a showing, but if you have let things go too far, you may not be able to get it all done in time.

Don’t forget to pay attention to the outdoors.

This previous blog post will help you boost your curb appeal.  The front porch is an important place to stage as it is the first impression of your home. Create an inviting space that welcomes potential buyers. Tidy up the yard and landscaping as well.

Staging does not have to be expensive. A gallon of paint does wonders to make rooms feel fresh and modern. You may need to use more elbow grease than cash to complete your staging.

It may seem inconvenient to pack away so many things in your home. However, it will be worth the effort. You will eventually need to pack your belongings for a move. You can get a head start by decluttering before you list your Brooklyn home and pack away excess and personal items. It is a short-term inconvenience that may reward you greatly.

Contact me, Charles D’Alessandro, your Brooklyn Real Estate Agent with Fillmore Real Estate. As a Brooklyn real estate agent with over 30 years of experience, I can help you list your Brooklyn home utilizing my expertise to your advantage.

In the event our office is shut down, we are always committed to your safety during the COVID-19 health crisis in compliance with the State of New York public health policies. I can be reached by phone at (718) 253-9500 ext. 1901 or by email at [email protected]

Charles D'Alessandro

What To Expect In The Brooklyn Home Closing Process

Monday, February 15th, 2021

It is important to be familiar with the Brooklyn home closing process, whether you are a buyer or a seller.

Uncertainty of the next steps can be anxiety-provoking for both buyers and sellers.

Although your agent will walk you through step by step, there is some comfort in having an overview of the Brooklyn home closing process. Take the time to familiarize yourself now before you begin the buying or selling journey.

Your real estate agent should begin with a consultation, whether you are a buyer or a seller. Each role in the process has preliminary work to do before negotiating a contract. You will learn what you need to do to prepare as you enter the real estate market, whether you are looking to buy or sell.

Buyers need to have their finances in order, Identify the neighborhoods of interest, and create a list of needs & wants in their new home. After completing these tasks, you can begin visiting available homes for sale.

Sellers need to prepare and stage their home, set a realistic asking price, and determine their new living arrangements for after the sale. Here is a link to a recent blog post on how to price your home correctly, one of the essential preparation steps for a seller.

Once a buyer and seller have negotiated a contract, the Brookly home closing process will begin.

A lot of activity happens at the beginning of this process for the buyer and seller. Other parties are also working in the background to meet all the legal requirements to close. Here is a link to a previous blog post that explains the roles in the real estate sales process.

A buyer submits their offer to the home seller.  What happens next?

Negotiations

The seller and their real estate agent will review and evaluate the offer. If the seller is not satisfied with the terms, they may counter the buyer with terms they find more acceptable. Negotiations may go back and forth between the buyer and the seller a few times before both parties agree. The final sales agreement will be drafted with any changes, and all parties will sign.

Inspections

If the buyer has elected to have any inspections, they will have a specific time to complete all inspections. The seller will allow the buyer’s inspectors access to the home and have all utilities available. The home inspector will prepare a report of their findings. The buyer will respond to the seller with a request for any repairs or acceptance of the property in its current condition within the time allotted. The seller will be responsible for any agreed-upon repairs before closing and providing all receipts for the work completed to the buyer.

Loan Application

The buyer must make a formal mortgage application with their lender. There is a stipulated time period for this to be completed that will run parallel to the inspection period. The lender may have collected most of the information they need in the pre-approval process. The lender will need a copy of the sales agreement once all parties sign it. 

Attorney

In the State of New York, most buyers and sellers hire an attorney to facilitate the home closing process. Once a sales agreement has been negotiated and accepted, you will want to select your attorney. The attorney will be the overseer for their client, whether buyer or seller, to ensure that their client’s interest is protected.

Board Approval

If you are purchasing a condo or coop, you will need to complete the board’s package and submit it for approval. The board will accept or deny the purchase. It is important to note that some boards will not decide without a commitment letter from your lender. This may make the closing process a little longer and should be considered when establishing a projected closing date.

Title Work

An investigation into the home title will start to ensure that there are no liens or encumbrances on the property as a vital step in the Brooklyn home closing process. Any issues found will need to be cleared before the buyer assumes ownership. The title work research will ensure the buyer obtains a free and clear title to the property.

Mortgage Processing

The mortgage company will be processing the buyer’s loan application. They will need to verify the buyer’s information provided. The lender needs to confirm the buyer is capable of making the monthly payments. The mortgage underwriter will review the findings. The underwriter’s job is to reduce the risk of the investment to the bank. The underwriter may ask for some additional information or clarification during their review to clarify any questions.

Appraisal

Most likely, the buyer will need to have an appraisal on the home to meet the mortgage lender requirements. The appraiser will visit the property and establish a determination of value based on the comparable homes that have recently sold in the area. They will create a written report, which is the appraisal. All the factors used to determine the price of the home are detailed in the appraiser’s report. If the appraiser observes any repairs to be corrected, they will note them in the report also. The appraiser may need to visit the property to approve any repairs on the appraisal report.

Clear To Close

The lender will complete their processing, confirm the buyer’s ability to purchase and the property’s acceptable value. At this point, they will issue a clear to close. This is the green light needed to schedule the closing.

Set Closing Date

Now, you can schedule a closing date with the closing attorney, title company, real estate agents, buyer, and seller. All parties will need to agree upon the date and time if they plan to attend the closing.

Seller Move-out

 The seller will need to make arrangements to move out of the property before closing. The buyer will need to do a final walkthrough before closing after the seller completes their move.

Utility Transfer

The buyer will transfer all utility accounts into their name by the final closing date. The seller will also need to contact the utility companies to provide a forwarding address for their final billings.

Closing Disclosure

The lender is required to provide the buyer with a closing disclosure three business days before the closing. This disclosure provides the buyer with details of all costs, their final figures for cash needed to close, and monthly payments. The buyer must sign and return this promptly to ensure the closing occurs on time.

Final Walkthrough

The buyer completes a final walkthrough of the property confirming any negotiated repairs were completed correctly. They will also check that any items negotiated to remain in the home are still there. Finally, they will check that no damages have occurred to the property since their initial viewing.

Closing

Each party will meet to review and sign all documents required to finalize the sale. The buyer will receive the keys and ownership of the property. The seller will receive their proceeds. 

Congratulations! You either bought or sold a home. You made it through the Brookly home closing process. Now you can unpack and relax.

One of the overlooked steps in the moving process is to file a change of address form through the Post Office. You can find the change of address form here

It is customary in the State of New York to have a real estate agent and an attorney representing your best interests in the Brooklyn home closing process. This is true for both buyers and sellers. Each has a distinctive role in the process. Your real estate professional will be with you from the initial phases of the home buying or selling process to the closing. The real estate attorney will prepare the final sales agreement and review all the legal documents. The attorney will attend the closing with their client.

Become familiar with the Brooklyn home closing process now. Communication with your real estate professional is key to experiencing a smooth transaction. Although we can’t guarantee it will be stress-free, we strive to make your experience as stressless as possible. 

Contact me, Charles D’Alessandro, your Brooklyn Real Estate Agent with Fillmore Real Estate. As a Brooklyn real estate agent with over 30 years of experience, I can help Brooklyn home buyers, and home sellers navigate the real estate process.

In the event our office is shut down, we are always committed to your safety during the COVID-19 health crisis in compliance with the State of New York public health policies. I can be reached by phone at (718) 253-9500 ext. 1901 or by email at [email protected].

Charles D'Allesandro

Avoid These 10 Mistakes Brooklyn Homebuyers Make

Saturday, January 30th, 2021

Frustrated homebuyer

When buying a home, you want to avoid these ten mistakes that Brooklyn homebuyers make. The home buying process can be confusing if you do not have a real estate agent with the experience to guide you. 

You need to understand that the home buying process should start well before you are ready to go out and look at homes. Saving money and monitoring your credit score will set you up for a smoother experience. 

Like you would build a home on a solid foundation, you need to plan your home purchase with a solid foundation.

As a Brooklyn homebuyer, you can hire an agent to work on your behalf. This is called a buyer’s agency. The buyer’s agency provides the buyer with an advocate representing their interests in a real estate transaction.

Working in the Brooklyn real estate market for over 30 years, I have helped Brooklyn homebuyers avoid these ten buying mistakes.

1. Ignoring their credit rating.

Your credit rating is one of the primary considerations that a lender will use to determine whether you qualify for a home mortgage. It may also affect the amount of mortgage you can obtain. Therefore, it is important to look at your credit report periodically to review your credit score even before starting the homebuying process. In addition to your credit score, be sure there isn’t something on your credit report that doesn’t belong to you. If your credit rating is low, you will need to work on improving your score. You should consult with a financial professional to find out how to improve your score and how long it should take. You can learn more about understanding your credit score here.

2. Skipping the pre-qualification step.

A pre-qualification from a reputable lender is a crucial step for Brooklyn homebuyers. A lender will determine the amount of a mortgage you could qualify to borrow. They will look at your credit score, your income, and your current debts. Most loan programs establish an acceptable debt to income ratio. 28% of your monthly income is a good rule of thumb for housing expenses, including principal, interest, taxes, and insurance. When adding your additional debt payments, a lender generally likes to see the total not exceed 36% of your gross income. Each loan program has established its debt to income ratios, so it is essential to speak with a lender. Your mortgage payment in addition to principal and interest, but also taxes and insurance. Looking at homes in the wrong price range will waste your time if you can not afford to purchase at that price point.

3. Insufficient Savings Accounts.

Brooklyn homebuyers will need to have some cash saved to purchase a home. Even no money down advertisements doesn’t necessarily mean you won’t have to spend money in the homebuying process. We will talk about closing costs below, but you will also have the expense of inspections, moving, and purchasing necessary items for the new house. If you can increase your down payment, you may be able to save on your monthly mortgage payments. It is also important to have adequate savings available to cover any unexpected repairs or replacement of major components of the home.

4. Making a large purchase before closing.

I have seen homebuyers go out and purchase furniture for their new home on credit before closing. Another significant ding to your credit is buying a car right before you close on your home. You should wait until after you have completed your home purchase because the lender will do a last-minute credit check to make sure there were no significant changes to your credit score. A major purchase on credit could change your debt to income ratio that we spoke about earlier. If your debt to income ratio would change significantly, it could disqualify you for your mortgage.

5. Misunderstanding closing costs.

Closing costs cover a lot of different fees that are required to purchase a home. Average closing costs can run between 3% and 6% of the loan amount. The types of closing costs you will pay include lender fees, attorney fees, municipal and state fees, homeowner association fees, and inspection fees. There are loan types that allow the seller to pay a portion of the buyer’s closing costs, but there may be a limit to the amount the seller can cover, which may not cover all costs. Asking the seller to provide a closing cost credit would be part of your negotiations, and you should consult with your lender to be sure it will be acceptable. Many of the closing fees are set on a flat fee or a percentage of the sales price. Bargaining a lower price for the closing costs isn’t possible on most of these expenses.

6. Overlooking repair items.

The excitement of finding your dream home may cloud your judgment on the actual cost to repair things that come up in a home inspection. If there are items in the inspection that you agree to take care of after closing, be sure to get an estimate on what that type of repair will cost you. Sometimes the buyer will think it is an inexpensive item to fix, but once the contractor starts work, the problem is more extensive and more costly than previously thought. 

7. Buying a house you can’t afford.

Just because a lender will loan you the money doesn’t mean it is wise to borrow the maximum amount. Consider your lifestyle when you decide how much you want to spend on your home. If you enjoy taking vacations, owning a car, or going out to eat, you may want to spend less on your monthly mortgage payment so that you do not have to sacrifice the other things you love.

8. Ignoring hidden costs of homeownership.

There are other expenses related to owning a home that you may not have considered. One is higher utility bills. If you rent or own a smaller house than you are purchasing, you may be paying less for utilities than the new larger home will cost you. You may also have to pay for additional utilities you are not currently paying, such as trash removal or recycling. Costs related to your mortgage also need to be considered. Your mortgage company may or may not collect amounts for taxes and homeowner insurance. If they do not, you will need to reserve these amounts to pay when they become due. Some other costs to consider are outside maintenance, inside maintenance, and the tools required to accomplish the job. And lastly, don’t forget the cost of furniture to fill your space and updates you want to make.

9. Not researching the neighborhood.

Although your real estate agent will share with you what they know about the area, it makes good sense for you to do your research. Is there any development being planned that might affect the neighborhood? What is the community like at different times of the day? I usually recommend that my Brooklyn homebuyers visit the area at various times to get a feel for what goes on throughout the day.

10. Believing that working with the Listing agent will save you money.

The listing agent’s fiduciary responsibility is to the seller. They have signed a contract with the seller to represent their best interest. Essentially, working with the listing agent does not give you an advocate. As I mentioned earlier in this post, the buyer’s agency agreement creates a fiduciary relationship with a homebuyer and the agent. The agent representing the buyer is bound to work in the buyer’s best interest. Wouldn’t it be great if you could have that kind of representation when you made other significant purchases?

As you can see, these mistakes could affect your ability to own a home or cost you considerably after you have purchased the home. Learn from someone else’s mistakes and avoid repeating any of these. You should have a much better buying experience.

Hiring the right agent to work on your behalf is an essential step in the home buying process you don’t want to skip. Check out this past blog post that explains the buying process for you.

As the quote by Stephen Keague states, “ Proper preparation prevents poor performance.” The home buying offer process can be very competitive. When Brooklyn homebuyers spend the time to prepare correctly, they make their dream of homeownership come true!

Contact me, Charles D’Alessandro, your Brooklyn Real Estate Agent with Fillmore Real Estate. As a Brooklyn real estate agent with over 30 years of experience, I can help Brooklyn homebuyers navigate the homebuying process.

Charles D'Allesandro

In the event our office is shut down; we are always committed to your safety during the COVID-19 health crisis in compliance with the State of New York public health policies. I can be reached by phone at (718) 253-9500 ext. 1901 or by email at [email protected].