Archive for the ‘Buying Real Estate’ Category

Can You Increase Your Brooklyn Home’s Value?

Friday, September 16th, 2022

Can you increase your Brooklyn Home's value

Many home sellers are wondering if they can increase their Brooklyn Home’s Value now that the market seems to be shifting. With interest rate increases, the unprecedented hot market we were experiencing is cooling. 

However, the cooling market does not mean you can not sell your home for the best price. I have seen the markets shift over my full-time real estate professional career. Homes will continue to sell even in a market shift.

As a Brooklyn home seller, it is understandable that you want to sell your home for top dollar. Homes that are in good condition and priced correctly will sell in any market. Your real estate professional can help you prepare for the sale of your home.

Let’s look at 5 tips to help maximize your Brooklyn home’s value.

Do your homework.  

Research the local market conditions for your neighborhood.  Depending on your area, there may be better or worse times to sell.  

As the markets are shifting, it is best to use the services of a full-time real estate agent who knows your local market. If you want to market your property to the largest pool of possible buyers, list your property with a full-service real estate broker/firm.  Now, before you pick up the phonebook or check that postcard you received in the mail, make sure to take the time to interview more than one agent or agency.  

Find out if they are a REALTOR® — a member of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS, a trade organization of nearly 1 million members nationwide.  Members of NAR subscribe to a stringent code of ethics to guarantee the highest level of service and integrity.  You may also want to know if they have any special designations requiring that real estate professionals take additional specialized training.  In addition to qualifications, you should check the references of the agent.  Make sure to speak with former clients to see if the agent is responsive and is available to keep you up-to-date with progress.   You should have direct contact with your agent and be as comfortable as possible.  The agent that handles your listing should:

  • Include online and offline marketing in your marketing plan.
  • Prepare a Comparative Market Analysis (CMA) of properties in your area that have sold and are currently for sale.
  • Help you determine the best selling price for your house.
  • Provide recommendations for necessary home improvements.

When your house is on the market, potential buyers will make appointments to view your home, along with any planned open houses your agent may schedule. Try to evaluate the house for the first time. Buyers must envision living in the home, so take care to present the property in its best light.  Imagine yourself in the shoes of a prospective buyer and evaluate the property starting at the front, then list the improvements that will be most cost-effective.

Clean and prepare your home thoroughly.

To increase your Brooklyn home’s value, you will need to do a top-to-bottom cleaning and decluttering of your home. If possible, hire a cleaning service. 

You may need to paint walls (neutral colors are best) or remove dated wallpaper.  If your flooring is worn or dated, consider replacing it. Check and repair damaged or unsightly caulking in the tubs and showers.  Display your best linens, towels, and shower curtains. Make the beds, and put fresh flower arrangements on the table. Finally, make sure that there are no offensive odors in the house.  Odor is the first thing buyers notice and often a permanent turnoff.   

Make your home a potential buyer’s new home.  

Removing your personal pictures and other items will help potential buyers visualize themselves living in your home. There is an art to staging a home for sale. The psychology behind staging is to make rooms feel larger and help the buyer feel like they are at home. This article from the National Association of Realtors discusses the importance of staging even in a seller’s market.

Put away or pack small appliances and other items that might be sitting on countertops or tables throughout the house. You want buyers to visualize the space in each room, so removing as many smaller items as possible is best. By clearing shelves and bookcases, the buyer can begin to imagine their belongings in the space.  Move excess furniture to make rooms more spacious. Replace heavy curtains with sheer ones that let in more light.  Clean and organize the closets. You may want to rent a temporary storage unit to allow you to de-clutter every part of the house.

You can learn more about decluttering your home in this previous blog post.

The outside of the home is also essential.

A buyer’s first impression of your home may be a simple drive down your street. However, if the home’s exterior is neglected, the buyer’s impression may be that the inside of your home is also unkempt.

Proper landscaping can enhance the curb appeal of a home.  Eliminate weeds, patch bare spots, fertilize, and water. Take a good look at the shrubbery. Bushes that have grown to cover windows should be pruned to let sun and light into the home.   Fill in bare spots with small shrubs and colorful, fast-growing annuals, such as impatiens and petunias. A few well-placed flower pots by the front door can be very inviting. Today’s buyers want low maintenance. Ideally, you want an easy-to-maintain yard that looks beautiful.

Make your home available for showings.

When you’re selling a home, you need to be flexible. If buyers can not see your home when they are available, they will not see your Brooklyn home’s value. Your hard work to prepare the home will be to no avail.  It’s often disruptive to have a house ready to show on the spur of the moment, but the more often someone can see your home, the sooner you’ll find a buyer.

Buyers don’t want to offend current owners, so they may be more hesitant to consider your home if you are present for a showing or open house. They feel funny about opening cabinets and closet doors with you in the room. If you are present, the buyer may ask a question that you innocently answer but can affect the negotiation of the sale. For example, the buyer may ask, “Why are you moving?” If you are moving for a job transfer, they now know you have to get the home sold so you can move on.

Whether you are moving for a job transfer, upsizing, or downsizing, the experience can be overwhelming. So many factors go into the sale of a home. Every seller wants to maximize their Brooklyn home’s value. Your real estate professional can help you achieve your goal.

Remember, the best time to sell a home is when you are ready. Even though the market may differ, you can still sell your home for the best possible price if it is in good condition and priced appropriately.

Contact me, Charles D’Alessandro, your Brooklyn Real Estate Agent with Fillmore Real Estate, if you want to increase your Brooklyn home’s value. As a Brooklyn real estate agent with over 35 years of experience, I understand the real estate process, create a marketing plan, and can help you reach your real estate goals. Reach me by phone at (718) 253-9500 ext. 1901 or by email at [email protected].

Charles D'Allesandro

What Is A Service Line Protection Plan?

Tuesday, August 30th, 2022

Man digging water line for service line protection plan coverage.

If you are a homeowner, you may have received an advertisement for a service line protection plan. However, you may not understand the purpose of such a protection plan.

Many homeowners do not realize they are responsible for the lines or pipes that run through their property until an issue arises. As the property owner, you are responsible for any connecting lines from your home to the street. 

Let’s say your incoming water line springs a leak. It may be a slow leak that takes a long time to realize, or it can be more evident by discovering a prominent wet spot in your yard. Either way, you are responsible for repairing, not the water company.

An estimate for replacing a water line in your yard runs from $2,000 – $10,000 per HomeAdvisor. The total cost will depend on the distance from the street to the house, whether you need to dig a trench or whether using a trenchless process is possible. For example, the cost per linear foot to replace a water line ranges from $50 to $250. You will be hit with a hefty bill if your home sits far back off the street.

Homeowner’s insurance companies do not include service line protection as standard coverage.

However, your provider may be able to add a rider to your homeowner’s policy that will consist of service line protection coverage. You need to review your coverage with your insurance agent to be confident you have this coverage.

Many utility companies offer coverage as well. These are not insurance policies but function more like a home warranty. You can read this previous blog post for more information on how a home warranty plan works.

Read the fine print whether you go with a homeowner’s policy rider or a utility company coverage. For example, you may not have coverage for all the utility lines that enter your home. 

Policies can include:

  • Sewage
  • Water
  • Gas
  • Electricity
  • Internet
  • Telephone
  • Fiber Optics
  • Steam

These service lines can become damaged by many different means. For example, damage to underground lines can occur due to shifting ground caused by earthquakes or nearby construction, tree roots, or corrosion. 

Some common causes of damage come from:

  • Rodents
  • Freezing
  • Construction
  • Rust
  • Landscaping accidents
  • Digging into the property
  • Wear and tear
  • Electrical or mechanical breakdowns

Service line protection plans each have their distinct coverage policies. Be sure to read and compare programs before deciding which one to purchase.

Some items that may be covered include:

  • Repair of line
  • Line excavation
  • Loss of use if you must vacate
  • Outdoor property repairs
  • Replacement Costs

Again, it is imperative to read the service line protection plan you are considering to understand the coverage available to you. Do not assume all plans are alike.

Some common items not covered under a service line protection plan include:

  • Water well damage
  • Septic systems
  • HVAC systems
  • Fuel tanks
  • Sump pumps
  • Lines that run under but are not connected to the home.

A rider is necessary if you purchase through an insurance company and will increase your homeowner’s insurance bill. In addition, it would be added to your utility bill if you purchase through a utility company. The monthly charge varies.

New York City offers a service line protection plan covering water and sewer lines through American Water Resources (AWR).

Coverage is available to most residential and mixed-use properties with a 2-inch or smaller service line. The cost of coverage is added to your water and sewer bill and costs $66.84/year for water and $114.60/year for sewer.

The program offers unlimited protection for covered repairs with no service or deductible fees. You would simply contact AWR directly to schedule necessary repairs. Service requests will be answered promptly, and the timing depends on the type of repair.

Do you need a service line protection plan? Certainly, purchasing a service line protection plan is an individual choice. Some advice will tell you that a newer home might not need it. I have heard of a newer home having some issues. The age of the house may not be an issue, but it’s more likely that the older home is more likely to be something that can happen. Ask your neighbors if they have had previous problems. 

If you maintain a substantial emergency repair fund, you may choose not to purchase coverage. However, you may benefit from such a plan if you cannot save for a large emergency repair fund. Keep in mind that some policies have a waiting period of at least 30 days before coverage begins.

I have personally seen the value of having a service line protection plan and saved over $6,000 on a costly repair. Unfortunately, we will see more water line issues in our area as winter approaches due to the freezing temperatures. If you are considering adding a service line protection plan, now may be the best time to finalize your decision.

Contact me, Charles D’Alessandro, your Brooklyn Real Estate Agent with Fillmore Real Estate, if you are considering buying or selling a home. As a Brooklyn real estate agent with over 30 years of experience, I understand the real estate process and can help you reach your homeownership goals. Reach me by phone at (718) 253-9500 ext. 1901 or by email at [email protected].

Charles D'Allesandro

Why Do Lenders Check Your Debt-To-Income Ratio?

Monday, August 15th, 2022

Debt-to-income ratio

Your debt-to-income ratio (DTI) is a simple way of calculating how much of your monthly income goes toward debt payments. The DTI will reveal if your debt is out of proportion with your income. Maintaining a manageable debt level is essential to good financial health.

If you have applied for a mortgage, you most likely know about this calculation. Your debt-to-income ratio is how lenders determine your ability to make monthly payments on the money you plan to borrow.

Lenders use the DTI to determine how much money they can safely loan you toward a home purchase or mortgage refinancing without significant risk. Of course, everyone knows that their credit score is essential in qualifying for a loan. But in reality, the DTI is equally as important as the credit score.

Lenders usually apply a standard called the “28/36 rule” to your debt-to-income ratio to determine whether you’re loan-worthy. 

The first number, 28, is the maximum percentage of your gross monthly income that the lender will allow for housing expenses. The total includes payments on mortgage principal, interest, property taxes, and homeowner’s insurance. This is usually called PITI, which stands for principal, interest, taxes, and insurance. The lender may want to include additional cost like homeowner association dues into that number as well.

The second number, 36, refers to the maximum percentage of your gross monthly income the lender will allow for housing expenses PLUS recurring debt. When they calculate your recurring debt, they will include credit card payments, child support, car loans, and other obligations that are not short-term.

Let’s look at how to calculate your debt-to-income ratio.

Your monthly gross earnings $6,000

28% $1,680 maximum monthly mortgage payment*

*Your maximum monthly mortgage payment includes principal, interest, taxes, and insurance (PITI). This number is what a typical lender will allow for a conventional mortgage loan monthly payment. In other words, the 28 figure determines how much house you can afford.

Your monthly gross earnings $6,000

36% $2,160 total allowable monthly debt*

*This figure represents the TOTAL debt load that the lender will permit. 

Total allowable monthly debt $2,160

Less maximum monthly mortgage payment $1,680

Allowable additional recurring monthly debt $   480

If your monthly obligations on recurring debt exceed $480, the size of the mortgage you’ll qualify for will decrease proportionally. If you are paying $600 per month on recurring debt, for example, instead of $480, the lender must reduce your monthly mortgage payment by $120 to $1,560 or less. The difference means a lower mortgage amount and a smaller home.

Remember, if you have a car payment, it has to come out of that difference. So in our example, your car payment is included in the $480. However, with the recent escalation in the cost of cars, it isn’t unusual these days to reach a $500+/month car payment, even for a modest vehicle, so that doesn’t leave much room for other types of debt.

Some lenders will consider the maximum percentage over 36%. But the desired maximum is not to exceed 36%. Each lender determines its guidelines. 43% is the highest a borrower can have and still qualify for a loan.

The bottom line is that too much debt can ruin your chances of qualifying for a home mortgage. 

Remember, the debt-to-income ratio is something that lenders look at separately from your credit history. That’s because your credit score reflects your payment history. It’s a measurement of how responsibly you’ve managed your use of credit. Your credit score also reflects your debt-to-credit ratio or credit utilization. Credit utilization reflects how much credit you have used versus how much credit is available to you. But your credit score does not take into account your level of income. That’s why the DTI is treated separately as a critical filter on loan applications. This Equifax article explains the differences between debt-to-income and debt-to-credit ratios.

Even if you have a PERFECT payment history, but the mortgage you’ve applied for would cause you to exceed the 36% limit, you may still not qualify for the loan by reputable lenders.

The 28/36 rule for the debt-to-income ratio is a benchmark that has worked well in the mortgage industry for years. Of course, mortgage products may change as the lending market shifts, but a satisfactory credit score and the acceptable debt-to-income ratio have not changed. As a result, you may be able to qualify for a loan above these limits, but it may cost you more in interest or downpayment.

But make sure you understand the worst-case scenario before taking on one of these non-conforming loans. The 28/36 rule for debt-to-income has been around so long simply because it works to keep people out of risky loans.

Mortgages used to be pretty simple to understand. 

You paid a fixed interest rate for 30 years, or maybe 15 years. Today there are many mortgage programs, such as adjustable-rate, 40-year, interest-only, option-adjustable, or piggyback mortgages, each of which may be structured in various ways.

If your DTI disqualifies you for a conventional 30-year fixed rate mortgage, you should think twice before squeezing yourself into another type of mortgage just to keep the payment manageable. Be sure you understand the loan terms thoroughly before signing the closing paperwork.

Instead, consider increasing your initial down payment on the property to lower the amount you’ll need to finance. It may take you longer to get into your dream home using this more conservative approach, but that’s certainly better than losing that dream home to foreclosure because increasing monthly payments have driven your debt-to-income ratio sky-high.

You can also work on decreasing your debt to income-ratio. 

Ways to reduce your debt-to-income ratio are:

  1. Pay down your debt.
  2. Increase your income.
  3. Don’t incur additional debt.

Whether you are considering purchasing a home or not, keeping an eye on your debt-to-income ratio makes good financial sense. It is easy to get over your head when other lines of credit are more easily accessible.

It is also important to remember that you will have additional costs involved with home ownership, not just principal, interest, taxes, and insurance. You can read more about the other expenses involved in home ownership in this previous blog post

Planning for a home purchase is an exciting time. Learning all you can about the home buying process is essential whether you are a first-time or experienced homebuyer.

You can improve your financial life by understanding and monitoring your debt-to-income ratio. Whether you are buying a house, a car, or consolidating debt, this simple calculation will help your stay on track.

Contact me, Charles D’Alessandro, your Brooklyn Real Estate Agent with Fillmore Real Estate, if you are considering buying or selling a home. As a Brooklyn real estate agent with over 30 years of experience, I understand the real estate process and can help you reach your homeownership goals. Reach me by phone at (718) 253-9500 ext. 1901 or by email at [email protected]

Charles D'Allesandro

What Is A Home Warranty Protection Plan And Do Brooklyn Homeowners Need One?

Tuesday, May 31st, 2022
Computer moniter showing home warranty protection plan.

Have you seen a for sale sign in front of a home with a sign rider hanging from it that says home warranty protection plan included? What is a home warranty, and is it valuable?

I have found some confusion about what a home warranty is and how it works.

A home warranty protection plan is a service contract, not an insurance policy. 

Standard home warranties will cover all or components of a home’s major systems like electrical, plumbing, heating, and air conditioning systems. Coverage of home appliances and other components will vary depending on the company from which you purchase them.

Often you will see a seller offer a home warranty when they list their home for sale. This is because home warranties have become a popular inclusion in the sale of the house. However, if a seller does not include a home warranty with the sale of the property, a buyer can purchase a home warranty themselves. 

Existing homeowners can also purchase home warranties. They are not only for newly purchased homes.

What is the difference between a home warranty protection plan and homeowner’s insurance?. 

Homeowner’s insurance covers your home and personal belongings from significant dangers like fires, storms, and theft. Homeowner’s insurance also covers liability for injury of people who do not reside in your home if something occurs while on your property. In contrast, a home warranty will provide you with a reduced rate of repair expense for the covered systems and appliances defined in the policy coverage.

In this past blog post, you can learn more about homeowner’s insurance.

Although mortgage lenders require home insurance, a home warranty is an optional item. Both home insurance and a home warranty will be a safeguard if something goes wrong with your home but in different ways.

There are benefits to having a home warranty, but you need to understand how a warranty works.

Coverage varies by company. You need to thoroughly evaluate what is covered and what is not before deciding whether it is the right home warranty protection plan for you. You may want to look at several different warranty companies before deciding.

There are several reasons a seller would want to purchase one when they list their Brooklyn home for sale:

  1. They will receive coverage during the listing period.
  2. The seller is responsible for maintaining the property in its current condition until closing.
  3. If a covered item needs repairing before closing, its cost is limited to the service fee.
  4. A home warranty can be an incentive for a buyer, and they will likely ask for one in their offer.

The buyer also has several reasons they want to have a home warranty protection plan included in their home purchase:

  1. It provides buyers with the peace of mind that unexpected repair costs can be minimal shortly after closing a home.
  2. They may have to restore their savings after paying the closing costs before they can begin home repairs.
  3. If they are new to an area, they can access vetted service providers with one call.
  4. They don’t have the DIY experience to handle the repairs.

According to SoFi Learn, the average costs to repair are:

  • Electrical – $141 – $419 for minor repairs, $2,000 – $6,000 for full electrical wiring.
  • Roof Repair – $300 – $2,000 for partial repair.
  • HVAC – up to $577 for A/C repair, $5,000 – $12,500 for replacement.

Rocket Mortgage estimates an average home warranty costs between $300 – $600. One significant repair can cover the cost of the warranty.

Newly constructed home warranties are available.

The majority of home warranty plan purchases are for existing homes. You may not need to buy a home warranty when purchasing a newly constructed home. 

Many builders offer warranties on construction components. The new appliances should also have warranties provided by the manufacturer. Some private contractors may not have a warranty option; therefore, some home warranty companies offer an option for new homes. You can consider purchasing a home warranty protection plan when your builder and manufacture warranties expire.

Coverage under a home warranty will vary from company to company.

It is important to stress that not all home warranty coverage is the same, and you must read and understand the policy offered to you. In addition, if there are older systems in the home, they may not be able to be repaired due to the availability of replacement parts, making the replacement cost significantly higher.

How does a home warranty protection plan work?

Most home warranties have a required service fee. Service fees average around $100 per service call. 

You will need to contact the warranty company to file a warranty claim. Many companies require that you contact them first to receive a qualifying service provider’s contact information. However, many have exceptions for emergencies. Be sure to read the fine print.

When the service provider arrives, you will need to pay the service fee. After evaluating the situation, the service provider and warranty company will determine the necessary action to remedy the issue. Exclusions under warranty can incur additional expenses for the homeowner.

The pros and cons of home warranties include:

PROS

  • Peace of mind of paying for unexpected repairs.
  • Cost is limited to the service fee for covered items.
  • The convenience of using vetted service providers.
  • Reliability on the experience and skill of service providers.
  • The current warranty may be transferable if you sell your home.

CONS

  • Denial of claims due to coverage.
  • Contacting the home warranty company before contacting a service provider is often required.
  • A maximum dollar limit per year could apply.
  • The home warranty company has the authority to decide whether to repair or replace.
  • Appliance coverage is usually an additional cost.
  • Not all components and costs are covered.
  • Terms and conditions may be confusing or vague.
  • There are limitations and exceptions to a home warranty protection plan.

Do your research before selecting a home warranty plan.

Many real estate firms have recommendations based on their experience with home warranty companies. You may also want to check with friends and family to see if they have experience with any home warranty protection plans.

It is good practice to check with the Better Business Bureau rating on any company you consider using. 

The BBB bases ratings on:

  • The number of complaints.
  • The size of the business.
  • How well the company responds to complaints.
  • How quickly the company resolves complaints.
  • Whether the business made a good faith effort to resolve the complaint.

You can also search on the internet by merely typing the company name followed by “complaints” to find additional information.

Conclusion

A home warranty protection plan is often a reassurance to homeowners that they can save substantial expenses of repairs for their home. However, each individual must assess if a home warranty is right for them based on their financial situation, home condition, and knowledge of home repairs. Nevertheless, many homeowners have benefitted from having a policy.

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 help buyers and sellers achieve their real estate goals. Reach me by phone at (718) 253-9500 ext. 1901 or email at [email protected]

Charles D'Allesandro

Why Should You Use A Real Estate Professional To Sell Your Home Now

Sunday, May 15th, 2022
Real estate agent holding house.

It is tempting to forgo the services of a real estate professional when you are selling your home in a hot real estate market. Although we are still in a favorable market, the increasing interest rates will lower the buying pool.

As interest rates increase, buyers who were on the margins of qualifying for a higher mortgage may now have to lower the price range of the home they are looking to purchase. This may reduce the pool of buyers in any given price range.

Along with the higher interest rates, increased inflation can reduce the amount of cash a buyer is willing to invest in their new home. This will begin to decrease the amount of competition for homes.

A real estate professional has the skills, experience, and expertise it takes to navigate the highly detailed and involved process of selling a home. That may be why the percentage of people who list their houses on their own, known as a For Sale By Owner or FSBO, is decreasing. 

Here are five reasons why selling with a real estate professional makes more sense, even in today’s hot market:

1. They Know The Buyer’s Hot Buttons

Before deciding which projects and repairs to take on, connect with a real estate professional. They have first-hand experience with today’s buyers, what the buyer expects, and what you need to do to ensure your house shows well.

If you don’t lean on their expertise, you may spend your time and money on something that isn’t essential. Previously, I discussed the possibility of over-improving your home in this blog post. In today’s low-inventory market, buyers are willing to take on more renovation work themselves. A survey from Freddie Mac finds that:

“. . . nearly two-in-five potential homebuyers would consider purchasing a home requiring renovations.” 

 In the hot real estate market we have been experiencing, the home inspection process has been less contentious than before the market fired up.

Familiarity with staging techniques to make your home more appealing to buyers is a strength of most real estate professionals. They tour a  lot of houses and know what makes a buyer light up.

A professional can help you decide what you need to tackle. It’s not canned advice you could find online – it’s recommendations specific to your house, price range, and area.

2. They Help Maximize The Number Of Buyers Who Tour Your Home

Recently, the average home has been getting 4.8 offers per sale, according to recent data from the National Association of Realtors (NAR), and that competition is pushing prices up. While that’s promising for you as a seller, it’s essential to understand your agent’s role in bringing buyers to your home.

Real estate professionals have various tools at their disposal, such as social media followers, agency resources, and the MLS, to ensure that most qualifying buyers view your house. According to realtor.com:

“Only licensed real estate agents can list homes on the MLS, which is a one-stop online shop of sorts for getting a house seen by thousands of agents and home buyers. . . . This is certainly one of many good reasons why the majority of home sellers decide to employ the services of a listing agent rather than going it alone.”

The real estate community is well-connected. Real estate professionals network with other real estate professionals sharing information on upcoming homes for sale and the buyers they represent. As a result, a well-connected real estate agent may share information about your home before the house is available to the public with real estate professionals who have buyers interested in homes like yours. 

Without access to these tools and networks, your buyer pool is limited. And you want more buyers to view your house since buyer competition can drive your final sales price higher.

3. They Understand The Legal Requirements

Today, more disclosures and regulations are mandatory when selling a house, whether you are using a real estate agent or doing it yourself. Unfortunately, the number of legal documents you’ll need to understand and utilize is increasing. That’s why Investopedia says:

“One of the biggest risks of FSBO is not having the experience or expertise to navigate all of the legal and regulatory requirements that come with selling a home.”

A real estate professional knows exactly what needs to happen, what all the paperwork means, and how to work through it efficiently. They’ll help you review the documents and avoid any costly missteps that could occur if you try to handle them on your own.

There are many timelines to meet after a contract is signed in that fine print! Your real estate professional will make sure everyone meets their deadlines to keep the agreement moving forward, prevent any loopholes for the buyer, and that your home will close on time.

4. Real Estate Professionals Are Trained Negotiators

If you sell without a real estate professional, you’ll also be solely responsible for all the negotiations. That means you’ll have to coordinate with:

  • The buyer – who wants the best deal possible.
  • The buyer’s agent – who will use their expertise to advocate for the buyer.
  • The inspection company – that works for the buyer and will almost always find concerns with the house.
  • The appraiser – who assesses the property’s value to protect the lender.

Instead of going toe-to-toe with all these parties alone, lean on an expert. They’ll know what levers to pull, how to address everyone’s concerns, and when you may want to get a second opinion.

There may be issues that arise during the sale of a home. An experienced real estate professional knows how to put out fires that may otherwise kill the deal.

5. They Know How To Set the Right Price for Your House

If you sell your house on your own, you may overshoot your asking price. That means you’ll leave money on the table because you priced it too low, or your house will sit on the market because you priced it too high. Pricing a home requires expertise.

. . . There is no easy or universal way to determine market value for real estate.”

Real estate professionals know the ins and outs of how to price your house accurately and competitively. To do so, they compare your house to recently sold homes in your area and factor in the current condition of your house. These factors are crucial to making sure your home is appropriately priced to move quickly while getting you the highest possible final sale price.

An experienced real estate professional knows how to price ahead of the market. This means that the price should not necessarily reflect what is happening today but what will happen in the next few weeks or months ahead. For example, if the buyer pool begins to shrink due to increased interest rates, the competition will not be the same as a few months ago. With fewer buyers in the market, sales prices may begin to stabilize. Pricing your home too high is a risk. Traditionally, an overpriced house sells for less than if priced correctly.

For Sale By Owner homes typically sell for 14% less than similar homes listed by real estate professionals. Paying a real estate commission would still yield a for sale by owner more profit than going it alone.

Bottom Line

There’s a lot that goes into selling your house. So instead of tackling it alone, reach out to a trusted real estate professional to make sure you have an expert on your side throughout the entire process.

Contact me, Charles D’Alessandro, your Brooklyn Real Estate Agent with Fillmore Real Estate. I can help buyers and sellers achieve their real estate goals. Reach me by phone at (718) 253-9500 ext. 1901 or email at [email protected]

Charles D'Allesandro

Brooklyn Homeownership Is A Step Toward Wealth Building

Sunday, May 1st, 2022
Property investment, house mortgage financial planning and real estate home refinancing concept with piggy bank saving budget and money coin stacks

Brooklyn homeownership is a foundational step to building your wealth.

Wealth building simply refers to increasing the net value of your total assets. Wealth building over time is one of the advantages of homeownership.

The calculation of net worth is simple. You calculate it by subtracting the amount of money you owe (liabilities) from the amount of money your possessions are worth (assets.) 

Net Worth = Assets – Liabilities

Brooklyn homeownership can help you build wealth in two ways. 

First, you build equity by paying down your mortgage. 

A percentage of each mortgage payment goes towards a reduction in the total amount owed. Typically, the first few years of mortgage payments apply to interest, not the principal. However, more and more of each payment is applied to the outstanding principal amount as time passes. Before you know it, your $300,000 loan is down to $50,000, and you’ve gained $250,000 in wealth.

The second way to build wealth through Brooklyn homeownership is appreciation. 

Each year, the value of your home will increase or decrease slightly based on market prices. However, over time, real estate has consistently appreciated. 

Home prices rose 18% in 2021, according to CoreLogic’s Home Price Index. Bank of America predicts a 10% appreciation rate through 2022, even with the expected interest rate increases.

Due to the unprecedented real estate market of 2021, home values rose thanks to low housing supply and high buyer demand. Unfortunately, there were not enough homes to meet this high buyer interest,  so bidding wars began driving home prices up. The rising prices mean your home is worth more in today’s market when you own a home. And as home values climb, your equity does too. 

How Rising Equity Impacts You

In addition to building your overall net worth, equity can also help you achieve other goals like buying your next home. It works like this: when you sell your house, the equity you built up comes back to you in the sale.

In a market where you’re gaining so much equity, it may be just what you need to cover a significant portion – if not all – of the down payment on your next home. So, if you’ve been holding off on selling and worried about being priced out of your next home because of today’s home price appreciation, rest assured your equity can help fuel your move.

As the mortgage interest rates begin to climb, buyers will be more eager to purchase now. So if you are considering selling, now is time to take advantage of the lack of inventory available to buyers.

Equity can be a real game-changer if you’re planning to make a move. 

Wealth Building Example

Let’s see a simple demonstration of how advantageous Brooklyn homeownership can be. Assume you bought a home in 2005 for $400,000 and, for simple mathematics, paid nothing for a downpayment. Over the next ten years, your mortgage payments reduce the outstanding mortgage by $100,000 and the home increases in value to $600,000. The value of your home as a net asset has grown to $300,000 [$600,000 minus $300,000 mortgage balance]! You would have missed out on $300,000 in wealth if you had rented during this period. 

Historically, homeownership is one of the best ways for families to build wealth. However, if you don’t currently own a home, you may want to consider purchasing now.

As inflation rises, the link between financial security and homeownership will become especially important.  As Leslie Rouda Smith, President of the National Association of Realtors (NAR), says:

“Homeownership is rewarding in so many ways and can serve as a vital component in achieving financial stability.”

Owning a Home Is a Building Block for Financial Success

Recently NAR conducted a report that details several homeownership trends and statistics. This information includes the difference between the net worth of homeowners and renters. The report stated that the net worth of a homeowner was about $300,000, while the wealth of a renter was about $8,000 in 2021. Therefore, a homeowner’s net worth is roughly 40 times higher than a renter’s. This report shows how owning a home can be a key factor when building your overall net worth.

Is the gap between a homeowner’s net worth and a renter’s surprising to you?

The net worth gap between owners and renters primarily exists because homeowners build equity. As a homeowner, your equity grows as your home appreciates in value and you make your mortgage payments each month.

In other words, when you own your home, you have the benefit of your mortgage payment acting as a contribution to a forced savings account. And when you sell, any equity you’ve built up comes back to you. But, as a renter, you’ll never see a return on the money you pay out in rent every month.

Additionally, homeownership provides you with a fixed monthly payment that will not increase with a fixed-rate mortgage. Renters expect an increase from year to year. Each annual increase affects your available cash for investing or saving.

If you are interested in buying a home, you need to ask yourself a few questions.

How much home can you afford? 

You need to meet with a mortgage lender to obtain a prequalification letter. The lender will review your financial information to determine your maximum mortgage amount. Your lender can explain the different mortgage options.

Where will you find the money?

Mortgages come at a cost. You most likely will need to have accessible cash for some portion of your purchase. Hopefully, you are actively saving for your home purchase. If you own a home, you may be able to tap into the equity to purchase a new home. In addition, some mortgages will allow you to receive gift money from a relative if you do not have adequate savings.

How can you continue to save money after buying?

Your lender will provide you with an amortization table that shows the total cost of the mortgage for the loan duration. It can be shocking to see the amount you will pay over time due to interest. You can cut the cost by paying your mortgage off early. Making additional payments toward your principal will save you on additional interest costs.

A biweekly mortgage instead of monthly can also save you money, Or simply add an extra payment each year, for a total of 13 payments and designate that it is to apply to your principal balance. This tactic could cut your mortgage by several years.

If you are interested in reducing the length of your home mortgage, speak with your lender and financial planner to see what will work best to meet your financial goals.

If you are a first-time homebuyer, you can find some helpful information in this previous blog post.

According to a recent Gallup Poll, real estate remains ranked top in America’s opinion of the best long-term investments since 2013. One significant advantage to Brooklyn homeownership, as opposed to other investment vehicles, is that you also have a place to live. 

Having a trusted real estate professional to help you, whether buying or selling, is crucial in this current real estate climate. In addition, an agent who knows the area and market well can be a valuable asset to your wealth-building team.

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 buyers and sellers achieve their real estate goals. Reach me by phone at (718) 253-9500 ext. 1901 or by email at [email protected]
Charles D'Allesandro

Brooklyn Homeowners Can Make Small Changes To Help The Climate

Wednesday, March 30th, 2022

Brooklyn homeowners can make small changes to hel the climate

Climate change can begin with Brooklyn homeowners making some small changes. You might think that you need to do something grand to affect climate change. But, if made by most people, there are small changes that we would see a marked effect.

At the end of February 2022, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change published a report, “Climate Change 2022: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability.”

In all the ominous findings of the report, one thing that stands out is that it is not too late to do something that will help. The information does note that nearly half the world’s population is vulnerable to the threatening climate impacts. The report recommends that urgent action is needed.

Before discussing the small changes a Brooklyn homeowner can make, let’s define some of the terms we hear when talking about climate change.

Carbon Footprint 

The carbon footprint is the total amount of greenhouse gasses (including carbon dioxide and methane) generated by our actions. To reduce the carbon footprint, you must reduce the use of the top three highest emitters of greenhouse gasses, coal, oil, and natural gas.

Each of us has our own carbon footprint. You can calculate your carbon footprint at The Nature Conservancy: https://www.nature.org/en-us/get-involved/how-to-help/carbon-footprint-calculator/.

Greenhouse Gases 

Greenhouse gases are gases in the earth’s atmosphere that trap heat. They let the sun pass through the atmosphere but prevent the heat from leaving the atmosphere. Greenhouse gases are crucial to keeping the temperatures suitable here on earth.

Renewable Energy

Renewable energy comes from natural processes that continuously replenish. Sources of renewable energy include sunlight, geothermal heat, wind, tides, water, and biomass. Therefore, it cannot be exhausted.

Alternative Energy

Alternative energy refers to energy produced by means other than fossil fuels. Non-traditional and have a low environmental impact. 

Fossil Fuels

Fossil fuels come from fossilized plants and animals that lived millions of years ago. Coal, crude oil, and natural gas are all considered fossil fuels.

These are some of the standard terms used when talking about climate change. With this understanding, let’s look at some of the areas where you can make small changes that can make a difference.

According to the EPA recommendations, changing out the five most used light fixtures or light bulbs and replacing them with Energy Star rated products may save approximately $70 per year on your energy bills. Energy Star lighting generates 75% less heat and uses 75% less energy than standard lighting. In addition, this bright, warm light will last 10 to 50 times longer. 

What are some other areas where small changes will make a difference?

Energy Star products. 

Looking for the Energy Star seal will ensure you purchase the most energy-efficient product. Products include appliances, lighting, heating and cooling equipment, electronics, and office equipment. These products reduce greenhouse gas emissions and save you on your energy bill.

Heating and Cooling Habits. 

Simple steps like changing air filters regularly, properly using a programmable thermostat, and servicing your HVAC equipment regularly can help. 

Insulation and Sealing

You may not eliminate all, but you can reduce the number of air leaks through caulking, weather stripping, and insulation.  Properly insulating your home can save you up to 20% on your heating and cooling bills.

The 3 R’s (Reduce, reuse, recycle)

Find a recycling program to recycle newspapers, beverage containers, paper, and other goods in your area. Composting your food and yard waste reduces the amount of garbage you send to landfills reducing greenhouse gas emissions. 

Water Usage

Because it takes a lot of energy to pump, treat and heat water, conserving will reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Simple actions like not allowing the water to run while brushing your teeth or shaving, checking for leaking toilets and faucets, running your dishwasher only when full, watering lawns, and landscaping can help.

Making some small changes in your Brooklyn home is the best place to start. Here are some simple tips that can help. 

Programmable thermostats

Create new heating and cooling habits with a programmable thermostat in your home. Not only does it help the environment, but you will save money on heating and cooling costs. For example, you can program the thermostat to be lower when you are not at home or asleep in the winter. You can do the same in the summer for air conditioning.

Lightbulbs

Above, we mentioned how changing out only the five most-used lights in your home could make a difference. In addition, the use of bulbs like compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) or light-emitting diodes (LEDs) can help save energy and last longer than traditional light bulbs.

Insulation, Caulking, and Weather Stripping

The practice of sealing the air leaks in your home has been recommended for a long time. Preventing the warm or cold air from escaping your home allows your heating system to maintain the desired room temperature more efficiently.

Appliances

When you need to replace any home appliances, look for Energy Star rated products. Products that meet a high level of energy efficiency receive this designation. 

Reducing Water Usage

Some simple ways to reduce water use in the home are to install aerators on your faucets and low-flow showerheads. In addition, choosing native vegetation for your landscaping can help as these plants generally require less water, fertilizer, and pesticides. Another simple change is to wash your clothes in cold water and air dry whenever possible.

Green Power 

Enrolling in a utility provider that uses green power may be an option in some areas. Check with your utility companies to see if there is an option for clean, sustainable energy for your home.

Solar Energy

Converting sunlight into energy is becoming increasingly available for residential homeowners. Do your research to find the right solar solutions for your home should you desire.

Low VOC Products

VOC stands for volatile organic compounds. They can cause headaches, nausea, and irritation to the respiratory system, skin, and eyes. Cleaning products and paints around your home can contain VOCs. Search for no to low VOC options.

Composting

You can minimize greenhouse gas caused by food waste in landfills by composting food wastes (except meat) in a backyard composting bin.

The advantages of these small changes are not only for our environment, but you will also experience economic and health benefits.

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 buy or sell in the Brooklyn real estate market. Reach me by phone at (718) 253-9500 ext. 1901 or by email at [email protected]
Charles D'Allesandro

Curb Appeal Is Important To Get Buyers To Look Inside Your Brooklyn Home

Tuesday, March 15th, 2022

Your Brooklyn Home exterior with curb appeal.

No matter how beautifully decorated the inside of your Brooklyn home may be, if the outside of the house does not reflect what lies behind the front door, you may quickly lose potential buyers. 

As we begin to see signs of spring, it is time to start to pay attention to the outside of our home. 

Homebuyers frequently make a list of homes from various internet sites, advertisement listings, or through a real estate agent, they wish to see. They then drive by these homes to get a ‘feel’ for the property and the house.  Bottom line, if your home looks unappealing from the outside, there is a good possibility the buyer will cross your home off the list of potential purchases.

You will recoup your efforts when you decide to spend time sprucing up the outside of your Brooklyn home. 

Gather Ideas

Consult with a local landscaper to get ideas for the best ways to spruce up the exterior of your Brooklyn home with minimal cost. In some cases, you might be surprised that hiring a landscaper to beautify your yard or modify a portion of it is more affordable than you thought.

Things to consider would be adding greenery, flowering bushes, trimming existing trees and shrubs, pulling weeds, creating planting beds, and mulching. You may simply need to move some plantings or separate overgrown plants to make the yard look better.

When you are selecting new plants, you will need to consider the local growing season and plants that do well in your area. Bob Vila offers his advice on plants that help you sell your home in this article.

If you don’t have the time to do the work yourself, it may be an excellent investment to hire a landscaper to get the job done before your home hits the market. A professional will have access to the materials and the tools needed that you may not have.

Ask neighbors, friends, and family for recommendations. They may know someone who has a smaller operation or just starting that could help you at a lower fee. You may also do part of the work and have a landscaper do the more challenging tasks to save money.

Buyer’s Perspective

Stand at the curb of your property and look at the yard from the potential buyer’s perspective. Then, drive or walk down the street and see how your property compares to the neighbors’ properties. You can make your property shine by creating a well-cared-for look. If your neighbors’ landscaping is so-so, anything you do will make your home look amazing. Plan your landscape to stand out from the rest, and if your budget does not allow for the extras, then the following rule of thumb is just to make the property look neat.

Grass and Patches

When your grass begins to grow, trim the grass. Look for any areas of brown grass or bald spots that may need attention. Invest in a bag of grass seed to plant. Water daily and place a barrier around the area to protect it. 

Fertilizing will make a significant difference in creating a healthy and green lawn. If you do not have grass, you may want to create some grass areas. You may need to consider removing stone and laying some sod or planting seeds. Stone yards will look out of place if neighboring properties have grass lawns. Having a green lawn makes a huge difference in curb appeal. 

A Stager’s trick to consider is spray painting the brown patch if you do not have enough time to plant and grow new grass. You could also create a small container garden if it made sense with the rest of the landscaping.

Planting Beds

Once you have addressed the grass, you can fix up existing planting beds. If you do not have any beds on your property, you may choose to add some in areas that would make sense. Garden beds help soften the hard lines of sidewalks, walkways, and the rigid angle of homes. Begin by weeding the beds. Evaluate whether you need to reshape or connect existing beds for better flow. Consider planting similar plants and flowers to create a cohesive look. Soften any hard angles and create a fluid design. Try to create a gentle flow from one end of the house to the other. You do not need to use a lot of plantings to create a consistent and neat look.

Trees and Shrubs

Existing trees and bushes will also need your attention when creating curb appeal for your Brooklyn home. First, remove any dead branches or trees. Large trees can intimidate a buyer. Not only could it obstruct the view of the home, but fear of it falling and damaging the home is a worry for some buyers. Keep trees that could damage the home trimmed back. Overgrown bushes will also need to be cut or removed. The thought of cleaning out these areas may be overwhelming to many buyers and something they just don’t want to deal with as they are moving into a home. Not only can overgrown bushes affect the appearance of the home, but a safety concern would be the ability of someone to hide behind them who had less than honorable intentions.

Parking

Having cars parked in front of your Brooklyn home is also a concern when it comes to viewing the house from the street. Undoubtedly, you need to park your car somewhere, but if there is an opportunity to park away from the front of the home, it would be a good idea. If on-street parking is your only option, try to have the cars moved when a buyer comes to look at the home. Buyers need to visualize the house as it would be if they lived there and anything which detracts from this thought is a non-plus for you as the seller. Weekends are usually the busiest times for drive-by house viewing. If you can move your car to a neighbor’s driveway or off your driveway for a few hours, do so.  It may make a difference in the curb appeal of your home.

If you have any cars, boats, campers, or trailers parked in front of your home or in the driveway, which you do not need to be there, you should find a place to park them temporarily. If you have an inoperable vehicle, you may find a local charity that would take it as a donation and tow it away for you. You don’t want your property to look more like a car dealership or parking lot than a home.

Backyard Seating

If you have a rear patio or deck, make an outdoor oasis for the buyer to envision themselves relaxing on a summer evening. You can create a dining spot, seating area, or both. Be sure not to draw attention to any unsightly features. If you have a commercial property or have a neighbor who doesn’t maintain their property, try to camouflage the sightline somehow.

Front Porch

Do not forget the front porch! A buyer will spend more time than you realize on the front porch waiting for the real estate agent to open the lockbox to access the key. While they are waiting, they will be looking around. All painted areas should be free of peeling paint and be clean. Porch floors should be free of objects and debris. If you have a large porch, you could create a seating area with chairs, a side table, and an area rug. Don’t forget about the homey touches like potted plants, a throw blanket, and maybe a candle.

Homebuyers rate curb appeal high on their list of positive home features. Creating good curb appeal outside is as essential as staging your home inside. To find more about staging the interior of your Brooklyn home, check out 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 can help you sell your Brooklyn home. Reach me by phone at (718) 253-9500 ext. 1901 or by email at [email protected]

Charles D'Allesandro

Five Benefits of Brooklyn Homeownership

Monday, February 28th, 2022
Receiving keys to begin enjoying Brooklyn home ownership.

There are many benefits to Brooklyn homeownership. Homeownership has long been considered the American Dream. And it can mean different things to different people. There has been a steady rise in homeownership since the 1900s in the United States.

Let’s take a look at five benefits of Brooklyn Homeownership.

Financial Benefits

The most apparent benefits are financial benefits. A home purchase is one of the most significant financial investments one will make in their lifetime. The benefits to investing in a home are:

Strengthening Credit

Making your home mortgage payments on time consistently will build your credit rating, which allows you to obtain other types of credit like purchasing an automobile or investing in other properties. In addition, as you pay down your mortgage, your credit score will increase.

Fixed Housing Cost

A fixed monthly payment helps you budget your monthly income more consistently. Your landlord can increase your monthly payment at determined intervals when you rent. With a fixed-rate mortgage, your principal and interest payment remains the same throughout the life of the loan.

Equity

Each month, a portion of your mortgage payment goes to paying down the principal amount on your loan. Equity is the difference between what you owe and the current value of your home. Over time, appreciation and lowering of the principal amount will increase the equity in your home. You may be able to leverage the equity for other financial needs. Building equity contributes to your financial stability.

Personal and Emotional Benefits

Home has become our haven, primarily through the pandemic. Unison recently published a report, State of the American Homeowner. This report discusses how homeownership has become more important to us through the pandemic.

Sanctuary 

Through the pandemic, our homes became our office, our schools, our gyms, and even our churches and synagogues, in addition to a place to eat, sleep and be with family.

Security

Many homeowners felt a sense of safety in their homes throughout the pandemic by controlling any potential exposure. As a result, people found refuge in their homes.

Importance

Our homes have gained more significance in our lives. More homeowners admit they love their home more now than they did pre-pandemic.

Health

According to a study by the National Association of Realtors, more people feel they have better health due to homeownership, having more control over their lives, and higher self-esteem.

Social Benefits

Achieving the American Dream has long been associated with success. But, owning your home also provides some social benefits.

Community

Living in a community provides a level of stability. Homeowners have a vested interest in keeping the community vibrant which attributes to maintaining property values. Many become involved in community organizations and government to better the livability of their neighborhood.

Financial Education

As homeowners gain the financial knowledge that comes with homeownership, they are likely to pass this down through the generations. This unexpected benefit of homeownership can change generations as parents teach their children how to handle mortgage payments.

Privacy

Community involvement is part of homeownership, but having a place to unwind in private is also a benefit many homeowners enjoy. You are in control of when you invite others into your home and when you just need an evening of quiet enjoyment.

Tax Benefits

Our tax laws have changed, but some tax benefits are still available for homeowners. The IRS Publication 530 outlines the tax information homeowners need when filing their federal returns. 

You may have eligible deductions if you recently purchased a home. Check with your tax professional to determine what you can use as a qualified deduction.

The capital gains tax exclusion may allow you to exclude up to $250,000 of the gain on the sale of your home or up to $500,000 if filing a joint return and you meet the homeownership test. You can find out more information about the sale of your home on the IRS website.

Homeowners in New York State may also be eligible for some tax incentives. You can find out more information on their website

It is always wise advice to consult with a tax professional to determine if you have taken advantage of all the tax deductions you are eligible to receive. This is because the tax laws change frequently.

Brooklyn Homeownership versus Renting Benefits

Many individuals are not sure that homeownership is right for them. In addition to the benefits above, let’s look at some of the specified advantages home ownership has over renting. 

Building equity for yourself versus your landlord

Each month that you make a mortgage payment, you increase your equity. Likewise, your landlord benefits each month you make your rent payment.

Interest rates are low

With the currently low-interest rates, you are often paying less on a monthly mortgage than you would be paying for a similar home’s rent. 

Stability 

Homeownership is considered a long-term investment. Renting is regarded as a short-term solution. If you plan on staying in an area for the long term, you should consider owning versus renting.

More Freedom

When you rent a home, the landlord dictates what you can and can not do regarding painting, flooring, and updating. You will need permission from your landlord to make any changes. You would be increasing the value for the landlord if you were permitted to make any updates.

Building credit

Showing your ability to pay your mortgage consistently improves your credit rating. However, different types of loans have different weights when evaluating your credit. For example, car loans and credit card payments do not elevate your credit as quickly as a mortgage.

There are some reasons when renting is a better option, and you must decide what is right for you. For instance, if you are a seasonal employee, temporary employee, or expected to be working only short-term in the area, it may not be to your advantage to purchase a home.

So how do you determine if homeownership is right for you?

If you are thinking about Brooklyn Homeownership, ask yourself these questions:
  1. Do you qualify to purchase a home?

The first step is talking to a lender to determine if you will qualify for a mortgage. Many different loan programs require different percentages for down payments. Therefore, finding the right loan program is a significant determining factor.

  1. How long do you intend to live in this home?

When you buy and sell a home, you need to consider the added expenses of closing costs. It may not be an issue if you are in an area with a greater appreciation rate. However, if you are purchasing in an area with a history of lower appreciation, you may need to stay in a home for 3 – 5 years before selling to realize a profit.

  1. What are your total monthly costs?

The costs of homeownership can be more than just your monthly mortgage payment. 

This previous blog post describes some of the hidden costs of homeownership. You need to know your total monthly expenses before committing to purchasing a home.

Everyone needs to decide what is right for them in their current situation. If Brooklyn homeownership is something you would like to achieve, but you are not ready now, saving for your downpayment and closing costs and increasing your credit score will put you in a great position when you are ready to buy.

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 help many home buyers understand the home buying process. Reach me by phone at (718) 253-9500 ext. 1901 or by email at [email protected]
Charles D'Allesandro

Enjoy The Comfort Of Home By Preparing For The Winter Chill

Saturday, January 15th, 2022
Comfort of home - dog on chair in front of fireplace

Enjoying the comfort of home on a cold winter’s day can either be a relaxing experience, or a nightmare. Whether you are a fan of winter weather, or not, preparing your home for the winter chill is necessary to avoid those nightmare feelings. 

Preventative maintenance is a smart practice when you own a home. Spending the time to prepare for colder weather will not only help you save money, but it will provide peace of mind. 

You can even improve the resale value of your home by adding energy-efficient features. As a result, you can save money and ensure your family is safe and healthy.

Items will need to be addressed both inside and outside your home. I recommend you start outside before we are in the deepest, coldest part of winter.

Areas to evaluate outside include:

Roof

Inspect your roof for any broken, damaged, or missing shingles and flashing. Be sure there are no leaves or branches accumulating on the roof. Don’t forget to check inside your attic for evidence of water leakage that will indicate a roof issue.

Chimney

Not only do you want your chimney cleaned, but you also want to have the exterior inspected. Leaky flashing or a deteriorating crown or cap can allow water into your chimney, damaging your home. Obstructions in the chimney can occur from debris or critters that allow harmful vapors into the home. 

Gutters

While you are focused on the roof of your home, be sure to check your gutters. Before the first freeze, clean any debris and leaves from the gutters. A backed-up gutter will freeze over and cause damage to not only your roof and siding but also your home’s interior. In addition, the weight of the ice inside the gutter along with icicles can also cause damage to them.

Trees

Take a good look at the trees in your yard to determine if they need trimming so they are not hanging over your house, driveway, or fence. Branches quickly ice over in a storm. They can then snap and cause damage to your home, cars, and fences. Branches can also fall on power lines causing outages or fires.

Outdoor pipes and water features

Winterize outdoor pipes to prevent them from freezing and bursting. In addition, outdoor spigots, sprinkler systems, ponds, pools, and other outdoor lines need attention to prevent damage. Also, you need to know the location of your emergency water shut-off valve if you have a leak.

Outdoor Plants

Some of your outdoor plants may need some special attention to make it through the cold winter. First, check the types of plants in your yard to determine what they need to survive the colder temperatures. Some types of plants may need wrapping, covered, or mulched. If you want to save potted plants, you should bring them indoors before temperatures dip below 45 degrees Fahrenheit.

Sidewalks

For your safety, the safety of your family, delivery drivers, or guests, keep your sidewalks clear of ice and snow. Check with your municipality for snow removal requirements. For example, some municipalities dictate that owners or tenants are responsible for cleaning the exterior walks and possibly even fire hydrants. Depending on when the snow stops falling, these requirements may also be time-sensitive. Failure to meet these requirements may be finable.

Driveways

Keeping your driveways clear of snow and ice is also a necessity. Parking in a driveway with accumulated snow is not only a personal safety issue, but it can damage your vehicle as well. As you expose the underside of your car to moisture, it can cause rusting. When the snow melts and refreezes, you can also have issues with safety. The melting and freezing snow can damage the driveway widening cracks as the ice expands.

Now that the outside has been taken care of, you can move inside to handle some additional items to ensure you and your household members remain comfortable throughout the winter.

Smoke & CO Detectors

You should check your smoke & CO detectors every six months and replace the battery. Many find the daylight savings time change an excellent time to schedule this task. However, if you do not have that as a regular maintenance item for your home, be sure to check them now. Carbon monoxide is tasteless and odorless but can be deadly. Also, check the municipality requirements for smoke & CO detectors and the placement required throughout the home. 

Fireplace

We discussed having the chimney inspected on the outside of the home. You also want to have the fireplace inspected from the inside. Wood burning fireplaces and gas fireplaces can both pose issues to personal safety, and you should have them both checked. If you are using a wood-burning fireplace, be sure the wood is dried correctly and appropriate for burning in a fireplace. Creosote build-up in your chimney is the cause of many house fires.

Window & Doors

You can lose a lot of your heat through poorly insulated windows and doors. According to the energy.gov website, it is possible to lose 25%-30% of residential heating and cooling through windows. Some solutions to improve energy efficiency include caulking or weatherstripping around window seals and door frames, insulated window coverings, or allowing sunlight in during the day then covering windows at night.

Heating System

Maintaining a comfortable temperature is crucial to the comfort of home. A poorly maintained heating system can cost you more money to heat your home as well. Having an annual inspection of your heating system will prevent surprises from occurring in the dead of winter. Carbon monoxide can be emitted from gas furnaces. Proper maintenance of your furnace can avert this danger.

Programmable Thermostat

A programmable thermostat can help save heating costs. Programming the thermostat to lower while you are not at home or sleeping will prevent you from heating your home when you are not there or snuggled under blankets sleeping. You can set the temperature to rise before you arrive home or wake in the morning.

Boot Station

Creating a designated place for everyone to take off their wet shoes and boots as they enter the home will save you from having to clean up snow and ice melt from your floors. The deicing materials brought in on shoes can damage the flooring. Create a simple spot with a boot tray or rug to place boots and shoes.

Your winterization would not be complete without gathering supplies you should have on hand. Some items to consider having on hand include:

Snow Shovel

Snow shovels come in many styles. Be sure your snow shovel is sturdy and in good repair before the first snowfall. The prices and materials of snow shovels vary greatly. Be sure to choose one that is easy for you to use and gets the job done!

Ice Melter

There are many types of ice melting products on the market. Choose one that will not damage your sidewalks and driveway. If you have pets, you may also consider a pet-friendly product that does not irritate your pet’s paws when they walk on it.

Ice Scraper

If you own a car, you need to have an ice scraper and snow brush in the car during the winter. You need to remove the snow and ice from your vehicle for the safety of yourself and others.

Flashlights

If you have a power outage, you will need some light. Although our cell phones have flashlights built into them, you will use up a lot of the battery using that as your light source. So buy some emergency flashlights and batteries to have on hand. 

Back-up Cell Battery

An external power bank is a good idea to have ready. If power outages due to storms are widespread, it can take some time to restore the power. You can keep your cell phone and other electronics charged with a power bank.

Water

Having a supply of water on hand is a good idea. You may need water for drinking, cooking, and even flushing toilets.

Pantry Items

Having some easy-to-prepare pantry items can be a lifesaver. For example, you can eat canned foods such as tuna, vegetables, and fruit without cooking. Other things you may want to have on hand include peanut butter, crackers, cereal, juices, and granola. 

Maintaining the comfort of home is well worth the effort to complete preventative maintenance. Not only will you save yourself the stress of dealing with an emergency, but you will also save yourself money by not paying for expensive emergency repairs. 

You may be dreaming of warmer weather. Now that your home is ready for winter, you can start thinking about your outdoor space for spring and summer. Check out this previous blog post to spark your ideas.

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 like to help my clients with helpful tips and accumulated knowledge. I can be reached by phone at (718) 253-9500 ext. 1901 or by email at [email protected]

Charles D'Allesandro