Archive for the ‘Buying Real Estate’ Category

How Much Should You Offer for a Fixer-Upper?

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

Are you thinking about buying a fixer-upper?

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

How much will fixing it up really cost you?

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

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

Step 1 – Determine What You Can Honestly Do Without Help

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

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

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

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

Be Wise – Leave It to a Professional

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Before you make an offer, do this:

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

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

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

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

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

Step 6 – Determine a Fair Purchase Price to Offer

Market value

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

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

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

And it has high levels of radon in the basement.

How to Determine a Fair Market Price

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

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

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

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

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

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

What they don’t do:

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

Include Inspection Contingencies

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

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

Contact Charles D’Alessandro for Help

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


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

How to Find a Home Quickly and Conveniently in the Cold

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

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

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

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

First, Do Your Research

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

Second, Check ‘Em Out

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

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

Third, Attend Open Houses

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

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

Fourth, Check Out Parking and Other Possible Problems

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

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

Warm Up to Winter House Hunting

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

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

Happy house hunting!

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


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

Want to Celebrate the American Dream This Year?

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

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

The American Dream, A Home to Call Their Own

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

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

The Opportunity to Achieve the American Dream

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

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

Benefits of Achieving It

Homeownership conveys a number of economic benefits:

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

Achieving Your Version of Success

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

Celebrate the American Dream!

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

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


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

Do You Know How to Qualify for a Mortgage?

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

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

Down Payment Requirements

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

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

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

Credit Score Requirements

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

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

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

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

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

Mortgage Document Requirements

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

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

Basic Guidelines for How to Qualify for a Mortgage

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

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

What income is considered “qualifying income”?

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

Homeownership is a Possibility!

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

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


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

Taxes You Need to Pay When Selling Your Rental

Thursday, May 30th, 2019

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

How a Profit or Loss is Determined

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here’s an example from Nolo.com:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hire the Right Financial Advisor

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

Hire the Right Real Estate Agent

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


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

How to Overcome the Overwhelm of Buying a Home

Saturday, March 30th, 2019
Overcome the overwhelm
Overcome the overwhelm of buying a new home. Find out the answers to these 7 important questions before you make an offer on that house.

Have you found THE home? How exciting! Are you feeling overwhelmed with a flood of questions that are coming to mind? If you are, it’s totally understandable since purchasing a home is probably the biggest decision you’ll make in your lifetime. But buying a home doesn’t have to be overwhelming. It can actually be a lot of fun. And obtaining the right information before buying THE home is just what you need to overcome the overwhelm.

Ask Questions to Overcome the Overwhelm

Take your time. Spend a lot of time planning and researching as much as you can. Here are seven great questions to ask to help you overcome the overwhelm you may be experiencing.

“How much money do I need for the down payment?”

You may have been saving money for quite a while, but is it enough? Should you wait another six months till you’ve saved more for a down payment?

In New York, the minimum for a down payment is almost always 20 percent of the selling price. If you secure a mortgage with a down payment of less than 20 percent, you’ll have to get mortgage insurance. But mortgage insurance doesn’t have to be a major stumbling block.

“How much house can I truly afford?”

There are almost always other costs beyond the purchase price of a new home. And first-time home-buyers are often surprised when they see how costs can add up.

  • Fees for other payments beyond the price of the home
  • Renovations
  • Repairs
  • Appliances
  • Blinds
  • Flooring
  • Lawn maintenance supplies
  • Maintenance fees

It’s wise to estimate your monthly mortgage payment first. Then make sure the other costs of items you’ll need beyond the monthly payments. You don’t want to go into more debt than you can pay for.

“Are my finances in good order?”

You need to show that you can close on the home you want to buy. Check your credit score and look for any discrepancies. If you find an error, get it corrected. If your credit history is blemished, you could be disqualified for the lowest mortgage rates. And it doesn’t matter if you show enough income.

Then, before you make an offer, get preapproved for a mortgage.

“What about the loan?”

Terms and differences in mortgages can be overwhelming. There are 15-year loans and 30-year loans, fixed-rate mortgages and variable-rate mortgages. And there is no one-size-fits-all home loan. So find a good lender who is very knowledgeable. They should know about every option that is available to you. And they should be able to show you how to get the most out of the loan process to get you as much house as you want.

“Were any claims filed on this property in the last seven years?”

This question may not have popped into your head, but it’s one you need to ask before you make an offer. What if the house had a termite problem in the past? Or was there damage of any kind to the house in the past? Request a copy of the C.L.U.E. report from the seller. C.L.U.E. is a database that maintains all insurance claims for homes and vehicles for up to the previous seven years.

“How much should I offer on this home?”

This is a good question to know the answer to if you want to overcome the overwhelm of buying a home. If you offer too little, you risk losing the home to someone else who offers more. Yet if you offer too much, you could wind up overpaying.

“Will there be more costs to prepare for at closing?”

Yes. There are closing costs in addition to the down payment. And depending on how you’re financing the home, there are more costs in addition to the one-time closing costs, such as:

  • Commissions fees
  • Appraisals
  • Surveying
  • Inspections and certifications
  • Tax and title services
  • Government record changes
  • Transfer taxes
  • Origination fee
  • Charge for specific interest rates
  • Real estate agent commissions
  • Home inspection charges
  • Title insurance

 And they are due at the time of signing.

Hire a Great Real Estate Agent to Overcome the Overwhelm

To overcome the overwhelm you need to hire a great real estate agent as soon as the house shopping begins. Charles D’Alessandro will tell you what comparable homes in the area have sold for. And he’ll help you make a solid offer the first time. If a counteroffer needs to be made, Charles will help you make one that fits your budget. And if multiple offers need to be made, he’ll guide you through them all. He’s here to help you, answer your questions, and guide you through the whole process from beginning to end.

Want to overcome the overwhelm that comes with buying a new home? Call Charles D’Alessandro, your Brooklyn Real Estate Agent with Fillmore Real Estate at (718) 253-9600 ext.206. Or email him at [email protected] right away.


Brooklyn Real Estate Agent

 Charles D’Alessandro

Your Brooklyn Real Estate Agent

718-253-9600 ext. 206

[email protected]

How to Declutter Christmas Decor and Store Only the Best

Sunday, December 30th, 2018

Declutter Christmas decor
Enjoy extra space in your Brooklyn home all year and get yourself a step ahead in the selling process. Declutter Christmas decor now!

I have a confession to make. When it comes to Christmas décorations, I’ve got more than I can possibly use. But I struggle to part with any of it. Some have emotional and sentimental ties. Others I just hate to give away because I bought them on sale, and “they’re just too good to not use.” And what am I rewarded with each year? The feeling of overwhelm. Know what I’m talking about? This year, with the help of family, I am taking the decluttering “bull by the horns.” We will conscientiously declutter Christmas décor step by step.

How and When to Declutter Christmas Decor

Now is the perfect time to declutter Christmas décor. Christmas Day has passed and your favorite decorations are out. So purge what you no longer want, gather proper quantities of properly sized storage containers, and store only your best holiday items.

1. Declutter Holiday Decor You No Longer Want

As you bring your storage boxes back out, declutter the following items:

  • Items broken beyond repair or that you won’t take the time to repair (ornaments, strings of lights, etc.)
  • Anything you don’t love or even like very much
  • Everything you avoid putting out year after year

Check out this list of home storage solutions for even more ideas.

Remember, less is more, especially when it comes to holiday décorations. As you declutter Christmas décor, conscientiously keep only the best and throw out or donate the rest.

Note: Don’t donate broken items deserving of the trash. Also, these steps to declutter Christmas décor can be used when dealing with all holiday and seasonal decorations throughout the year.

2. Categorize Your Best Decorations2

Once you’ve purged and donated the items you no longer want, then categorize decorations into one of the following categories:

  • Decorations for the Christmas tree: ornaments, hooks, beads, lights, tree skirt, tree stand, tree topper
  • Indoor and outdoor light strands: extra bulbs, light clips. Mark each strand with its length.
  • Artificial tree(s), wreaths, and garlands. Mark each garland with its length and where it is displayed (atop kitchen cupboards, upstairs stair banister, etc.) Here are some great storage ideas:
  • TreeKeeper artificial Christmas tree storage bag. This allows you to keep your artificial tree assembled and ready to use next year.
  • And if you have room to do so, hang your garland instead of winding it up in a box or bag. You’ll save yourself a lot of time since you won’t need to fluff your garland.
  • Use WreathKeeper bags for hanging regular to oversized wreaths.
  • Nativity scenes, Christmas villages, and other freestanding decorations
  • Lawn ornaments and outdoor decorations
  • Christmas dishes
  • Candles
  • Miscellaneous

3. Gather Properly-Sized Containers to Store Your Christmas Decor3

Assess the amounts of decorations in each category. Then make sure you have enough of the right-sized containers to store everything properly and safely.

If you’re unable to buy a number of storage containers all at once (especially right after Christmas), keep these ideas in mind and purchase what you need as you have opportunity throughout the year.

How to Store Christmas DecorationsH

  • Pack decorations from the same category in one box. (For example, one box for everything that goes on or with the tree)
  • Don’t overstuff boxes. Everything should fit neatly with plenty of room to keep things from breaking or being damaged while in storage
  • Store all Christmas storage boxes together in one area in your home or garage. Then everything can be found easily next year!
  • Protect decorations from extreme temperatures, moisture, dirt, dust, rodents, and insects

Christmas Storage Solutions to ConsiderC

There are lots of great places to purchase storage containers in stores and on-line. Watch this video from Good Housekeeping for things around your home that can be repurposed into ingenious storage containers.

  • Instead of cardboard boxes, replace them with sturdy, plastic Christmas storage containers. They stack well and protect their contents effectively. “Clear” boxes allow you to view what’s in each box without lifting the lid, too.
  • Purchase tissue paper or newspaper end rolls to wrap ornaments, or use ornament storage boxes with divided containers. Ornament boxes are designed to keep the decorations from banging against each other in storage and getting damaged or broken.
  • Avoid the frustration of untangling Christmas lights next year. This year wrap your light strings around a Christmas light storage reel. You can purchase them or make them yourself.
  • Buy storage items designed specifically for storing large Christmas décor such things as an artificial tree or wreaths.

Store Only Your Best Christmas Decor in the Best WayS

Wherever you store your Christmas items, store the containers so that they are easily accessible when next Christmas arrives. You want to find what you want quickly. That means labeling your boxes with its contents and stacking the boxes so that the label is visible and easy to read.

Apply Patience Now for a Less Hectic Christmas Next Year

Whatever efforts you make to declutter Christmas décor this year will make decorating next year much easier. Yes, it takes time and patience, but the reward of added space and easier Christmas decorating will have you repeating, “I’m so glad I did that last year!” nce you’ve taken these steps this year, each year’s Christmas decoration process from now on will be so much easier. You’ll be able to find all the boxes you need quickly and easily, pull out clean undamaged decorations, and enjoy the process of decorating your home for the holidays.

Declutter Christmas décor now and enjoy the added space in your Brooklyn home all year. And if you decide to sell, you’ll be one step ahead in the selling process and getting your home ready to be shown. It’s another win-win for you and your potential buyers.

And when you’re ready to sell, call Charles D’Alessandro, your Brooklyn Real Estate Agent with Fillmore Real Estate at (718) 253-9600 ext.206 or email [email protected]



Brooklyn Real Estate Agent

 Charles D’Alessandro

Your Brooklyn Real Estate Agent

718-253-9600 ext. 206

[email protected]

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

Tuesday, May 15th, 2018

Closing checklist

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

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

Closing Checklist Tips 1 Through 10

Tip #1: Keep It Together

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

Tip #2: Clean It Up

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

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

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

Tip #3: Set It Aside

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

Tip #4: Walk Through It

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

Tip #5: Turn It Off

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

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

Tip #6: Cancel It

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

Tip #7: Stop and Cancel It

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

Tip #8:  Leave It

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

Tip #9: Run Through It One Last Time

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

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

Tip #10: Close It Up

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

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

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


 Charles D’Alessandro

Your Brooklyn Real Estate Agent

718-253-9600 ext. 206

[email protected]

 

How Will the New Tax Law Affect You?

Tuesday, January 30th, 2018

New tax law

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

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

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

  1. Capping Mortgage Interest Deduction

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

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

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

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

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

  1. Introducing the New SALT Deduction Limit

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

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

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

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

  1. Preserving the Exclusion of Capital Gains

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

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

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

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

  1. Deducting on Home Equity Loans

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

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

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

  1. Doubling of the Standard Deduction

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

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

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

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

Location and Timing and the New Tax Law

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Charles D’Alessandro

Your Brooklyn Real Estate Agent with Fillmore Real Estate

718-253-9600 ext. 206

[email protected]

5 Great Reasons to Go House Hunting During the Holidays

Friday, December 15th, 2017

House hunting

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

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

Merry Christmas! Let’s Go House Hunting!

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

  1. There are fewer buyers

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

  1. Home sellers are highly motivated

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

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

  • Relocation

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

  • Their Home was Listed in the Fall

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

  • Tax Advantages

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  1. Professionals are more accessible

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

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

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

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


Charles D’Alessandro

Your Brooklyn Real Estate Agent with Fillmore Real Estate

718-253-9600 ext. 206

[email protected]