Archive for the ‘Buying Brooklyn Real Estate’ Category

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

Wednesday, February 15th, 2017
Home inspection in Brooklyn

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

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

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

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

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

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

What to Look for When Viewing a Sample Home Inspection Report

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

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

Finally …

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

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

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

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

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

Should This Be the Year You Sell your Home?

Monday, January 30th, 2017
Sell your home

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  1. Declutter and stage your home.

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

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

Finally …

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

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

New Year, New Year’s Resolutions for Homeowners

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

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

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

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

6 New Year’s Resolutions for Homeowners

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

  1. Shorten the term of your mortgage

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

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

  1. Pay off a second mortgage

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

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

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

  1. Lock in a low, fixed rate

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

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

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

  1. Challenge your property tax assessment

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

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

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

  1. Earn a discount or lower quote on homeowners insurance

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

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

  1. Take steps to improve your credit rating

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, December 15th, 2016
Down payment in Brooklyn

Bottom line: A bigger down payment equals more house.

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

What is a down payment?

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

The money for a down payment can come from:

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

Why is a down payment required when purchasing a home?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yes, if you can call them risks.

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

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

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

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

In closing …

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

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

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

Wednesday, November 30th, 2016
Mortgage rates

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why Do Mortgage Rates Rise?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why Should you Hire the Best Real Estate Team Possible?

Sunday, October 30th, 2016
Real estate team

Do your research and pick your real estate team wisely.

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

Who should be on your real estate team?

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

Your real estate team should include the following professionals:

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

First things first …

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Want to Know How to Sell your Home Quickly?

Saturday, October 15th, 2016
Sell your home quickly

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

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

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

  1. Find a Top-notch Real Estate Agent

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

  1. Hit the Perfect Price Point

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

  1. Focus on Maximizing Curb Appeal

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

  1. Update Kitchens and Bathrooms

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

  1. Scrub the House Clean

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

  1. Address and Fix Potential Problems Before Inspection

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

  1. Send Pets on Vacation

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

  1. Hire the Pros

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

  1. Make Your Home Standout

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

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

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

  1. Be Show-ready, Always

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

  1. Time it Right

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

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

7 Questions To Ask Before You Make An Offer On A New Home

Monday, May 30th, 2016
Make an offer

We will make an offer on a Brooklyn home with confidence when we know the answers to these 7 questions.

Retirement has always seemed to be a distant term. Then all of a sudden, it is not so distant. Well, that time of life for us is here. Because we want to downsize, we are looking to make an offer on a small Brooklyn home in a quiet area. I really like it and have imagined us living there with our belongings thoughtfully placed inside. There are many things we must take care of and consider before we can make an offer and move. To feel confident that we are making the right move on that small Brooklyn home we must be well informed.

7 questions we will ask before we make an offer on that home

  1. What is the property worth in today’s market?

Charles can’t tell us how much we should make an offer for because that would be unethical. So we will investigate what we want to know about comparable sales instead of asking directly how much the home is worth. Charles will load us up with plenty of comps.

Comparable sales, or comps, list prices of nearby homes that have been sold recently. These homes are similar to the small Brooklyn home we are looking at. Comps list high and low ranges for the home we like also.

Charles can tell us how long homes in the area are staying on the market and how much of the asking price sellers are getting. This information will tell us how hot the market is, what the Brooklyn home we like is worth in today’s market and how much we should make an offer for.

We need to know how long the small home has been on the market. If it’s been on the market for months with hardly any offers, that could mean the market is slow or this Brooklyn home could be overpriced.

  1. Is the seller flexible on their asking price?

We can choose to speak directly with the seller’s agent or have Charles ask this question. To make an offer to the sellers that is really low could be an insult and run the risk of us missing out on this home we like so well. Charles has advised that we ask the seller’s agent how firm they are on the price. If we do decide to talk with the seller’s agent ourselves, we will ask, “How flexible are they on the price?” instead of, “How much less will they take?” Asking in these terms will allow us to assess the situation without offending the seller.

The sellers may or may not even be willing to negotiate. But, if they were, and if our strategy were to make low offers, Charles told us we would need to plan to make an offer on several different homes before we would find a seller who would want to negotiate.

“Is the seller willing to help with the closing costs?” This question kind of goes hand-in-hand with, “Is the seller flexible on their asking price?” It’s okay to ask this question, too. Even if the answer is “No,” you will never know unless you ask.

This question is usually answered with a “Yes,” on foreclosed homes though. With Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, it is common to have sellers help with closing costs. They want to sell their properties especially when they have equity in their property.

  1. What is wrong with this house?

Just because a home is listed as “in perfect condition” doesn’t mean it is. The home we want to make an offer on looks like it is in mint condition. However, knowing how badly today’s sellers want to move their properties and that many today are not disclosing any real problems, we must ask directly, “What is wrong with this house?”

Charles recommends that we remind the sellers that if there are any problems with the home, the problems will be discovered when the home inspection takes place. He also said we should encourage the sellers to just get it out in the open to avoid wasting each others’ time.

Charles also told us that if the sellers’ agent recommended a home inspection before putting the home on the market, we should ask to read the report.

The State of New York mandates disclosure forms in which sellers have to reveal any issues or problems with the house. Disclosures provide great information and can even start a dialogue with the seller. Read about New York disclosure obligation here: Selling A New York Home: What Are My Disclosure Obligations?

  1. Is this home in a flood plain?

We don’t think the Brooklyn home we are interested in is in a flood plain, but we still plan to ask this question. If this home is in a flood plain, we’ll have to budget for and pay for flood insurance, which will affect our cost of living in the house.

We can check with The Federal Emergency Management Agency. The agency posts online maps that show if a home is in a flood plain, and the maps are free to access. If we want to, we can double-check with the county and talk with Charles about this, too.

If we do discover that this home is in a flood plain, Charles told us we should ask to see the seller’s flood insurance bills. We need to know what type of flood plain the house is in and how much flood insurance will cost. Some ratings show higher risks than others and therefore, the flood insurance costs are higher.

If we find out that the house is in a flood plain and how much flood insurance will cost, we can then determine whether or not we can afford these additional costs. We can also decide whether or not we are still in love with this little Brooklyn home.

  1. Will the lender allow a short sale?

First, what’s a short sale? Charles told us a short sale means the bank will allow the home to be sold for less than what is left on the mortgage. But, a short sale on this home or any home won’t happen if the seller’s bank won’t give its consent.

Sellers sometimes list their properties as short sales without talking with their lenders first. Even if a buyer and the seller were to agree on a price, if the bank won’t give its consent, there won’t be a closing. A seller must find out whether or not their financials meet the lender’s criteria for short sales before listing their property as a short sale.

That’s why we will ask if the lender agreed to allow the home to be sold for less than what is left on the mortgage if it is listed as a short sale. We would dig a little deeper and also ask, “What is the bank’s reason for giving permission for a short sale?” Then we can decide if the reason (divorce, loss of income or a job transfer) sounds reasonable. If you ever wonder about banks granting short sale requests for any reason, just ask.

  1. Are there any foreclosures for sale in the area near this Brooklyn home?

Sellers and their agents hate this question. Foreclosures usually cost less, so we would have to figure this into our buying decision and the offer we make on this house.

We’ll ask if there are other houses for sale in the neighborhood, and we’ll ask if any of these sales are foreclosures. Foreclosures encourage price competition, and we could make an offer for less on this Brooklyn home.

  1. Do you have the paperwork for the mechanical systems, hardwood flooring, etc.?

This is one of those questions not many even think about. Thanks to Charles, we will ask it!

For example, this house has air conditioning. If the seller replaced the air conditioner or happened to replace it shortly before they put it on the market, it would be great to have the paperwork. Simply put, if the unit malfunctioned after buying the home, we could use the documentation for the warranty. Warranties on the mechanical systems are great if and when a unit malfunctions. We don’t want to pay out of pocket if we don’t have to, right?

The Brooklyn home we are interested in has hardwood flooring in the kitchen and dining area. It would be nice to have the paperwork on the hardwood. With paperwork in hand, we could get an exact match if we wanted to install hardwood flooring in the living room or bedrooms.

We will make an offer on this Brooklyn home with confidence. With over 30 years of experience marketing Brooklyn homes, we know Charles is the real estate agent for us. Call him, Charles D’Alessandro, your Brooklyn real estate agent with Fillmore Real Estate at (718) 253-9600 ext. 206 or email [email protected] today.

2 Reasons Why Your Home’s Proximity to Work Matters Most

Friday, April 15th, 2016
Proximity to work

Proximity to work impacts your disposable income, quality of life and the amount of time you have to spend with family at home. Think about it before you buy.

Where are homeowners dealing with the longest daily commutes to work? In New York!

Does it surprise you to know that a New Yorker’s morning commute is longer than anywhere else in the United States? But why should that matter to you? Well, if you are in the market to buy, a home’s proximity to work matters most for 2 reasons: Its effect on your pocketbook and your well-being.

Statista averaged morning commutes for 10 U.S. cities:

  • New Yorkers spend 39.4 minutes commuting to work every day.
  • Jersey City, NJ – 35.6
  • Newark, NJ – 33.9
  • Chicago, IL – 33.7
  • Philadelphia, PA – 32.3
  • San Francisco, CA – 31.0
  • Fremont, CA – 30.5
  • Baltimore, MD – 30.1
  • Washington D.C. – 29.8
  • Los Angeles, CA – 29.6

(If this piques your techy interest, find more morning commute statistics at Statista).

Why your Brooklyn home’s proximity to work matters

  1. It matters to your pocketbook in the long run.

Long daily commutes to work negatively impact your disposable income, quality of life and the amount of time you have to spend with family at home. Yes, there are financial and quality-of-life benefits provided by long daily commutes, but are they worth having less time to spend with your family at home?

There’s not a thing wrong with choosing to buy a home located beyond Brooklyn’s busy city life. However, it is important to avoid the temptation to buy a large home that forces you to stretch your budget and locks you into long daily commutes for a big-city salary in order to pay for that large home. I recommend buying a modest home based on the following Disposable Personal Income (DPI) formula.

Your household’s Disposable Personal Income is what you have available for spending and saving after taxes. Your salary minus the tax rate equals your DPI. For example, $100,000 – $35,000 (35% tax rate) = $65,000 DPI.

Don’t forget about the wear and tear on your vehicle and the cost of filling its tank with gas. Long daily commutes add higher vehicle maintenance costs and more money spent on gas to deplete your disposable income. There are more miles piling on your engine and wearing on your tires, the need for more oil changes and brake replacement, too.

  1. It matters to your well-being in the long run.

Long daily commutes matter to your health in the long as well. Outside of being more than inconvenient, long commutes to work negatively impact both your physical and mental health.

  • Sitting inactively for long periods of time can contribute to weight gain. The farther the commute, the more time you spend being inactive. People who commute every day are more likely to be overweight.
  • Spending long periods of time slumped forward in the driver’s seat can contribute to ongoing neck and back pain.
  • Long periods of time spent commuting affects your mood because you have less time to enjoy daily activities or concentrate.
  • Any amount of time spent commuting causes stress. The longer the commute, the more likely you will have elevated blood pressure.
  • Time spent commuting exposes you to air pollution. The longer the commute, the higher your exposure to harmful air pollution will be.

The decision to commute to work daily is clearly a matter of personal choice. You must determine how long your home’s proximity to work should be based on its effects to your pocketbook and your well-being. With over 30 years of experience in Brooklyn, I can help you determine the best location of a home to buy, a home that will meet the needs of your family. Call me, Charles D’Alessandro, your Brooklyn real estate agent with Fillmore Real Estate at (718) 253-9600 ext. 206 or email [email protected] today.

Home Inspections: Take ‘Em! Don’t Leave ‘Em!

Tuesday, March 15th, 2016
Home inspections

Home inspections are worth every dollar invested because they give the homebuyer peace of mind.

So, you’ve fallen in love with the home of your dreams in Brooklyn. The floor plan and colors on the walls, the flooring, kitchen cupboards and bathrooms … You wouldn’t change a thing. After all, what could possibly be wrong with this home? Everything is perfect!

Finding the perfect home in Brooklyn is a wonderful thing, but don’t allow the love you feel for the home of your dreams cause you to cast a blind eye to problems that may be lurking. A home is one of the largest purchases you will ever make, and a home inspection is a cost-effective way to determine its true condition.

If you’re tempted to waive the home inspection, resist. Here’s why:

  • Home inspections are important to avoid purchasing a home in need of major repairs. It is a home inspector’s job to let you know if something isn’t right. If any safety issues are uncovered, an inspection will help you prioritize the repairs needed. Thoughts: Have you thought about how much time, energy and investment will be required once you’ve purchased the home?
  • You need the facts about a home’s true condition to decide whether or not you should move forward with the purchase. A certified professional home inspector will investigate the home’s electrical wiring, plumbing, roofing, insulation and structural features. Think of a thorough home inspection as taking out an insurance policy against potential operating costs.
  • A good home inspection helps you, the buyer, know exactly what you’re purchasing. Problems with a home that could be costly to fix can be used as a tool in purchasing negotiations with the seller. You could negotiate with the seller to have them pay for repairs before closing, purchase the home as is or back out of the purchase.
  • A home inspection gives peace of mind to you as the buyer and put your mind at ease that the home is in good shape.
  • For buyers, choosing to waive the option to have a professional inspection can cause major repercussions in the future. Sellers like offers in which the inspection is waived because it means they are selling the home ‘as is.’ It means they are not responsible for anything that you cannot see immediately.
  • An inspection allows you as the buyer the right to make requests for additional repairs that aren’t agreed to at the time of signing the initial purchase contract.
  • A home inspection will increase your buyer confidence. A 2012 survey from the American Society of Home Inspectors found that 84% were more likely to purchase a property after a home inspection reported the home in good condition.
  • Waiving a home inspection contingency is never worth the risk. It provides an extra measure of security and helps you plan for the future in your new home.

Types of home inspections

Before you purchase the home of your dreams, it is best to hire a certified home inspector for all-encompassing examinations of these types:

  • General or residential inspection – structure, exterior, roof, electrical, plumbing, HVAC, interior, insulation and ventilation. As the buyer, you will receive a report suggesting improvements or repairs needed to bring the home up to current standards.
  • termite/wood destroying organism inspection – structural damage caused by wood boring insects. This inspection is done for an additional cost, or a WDO/WDI inspector could be recommended to the buyer.
  • radon inspection – radioactive gaseous element. Radon is formed by the breakdown of radium. It occurs naturally and is hazardous to health.  Radon gas from natural sources can accumulate in homes, especially in confined areas such as attics and basements. Testing for high levels is important. Ways to alleviate radon could be costly to fix. Radon testing can be done at an additional cost. Ask your inspector for recommendations if he does not perform radon testing.
  • Well water testing, oil tank testing and septic tank testing. Again, these tests and/or inspections may be done for additional fees. Find out if the general home inspector you hire is qualified to perform these tests.

The cost of a home inspection may vary depending upon the size, region and age of the home and may take anywhere from 2-5 hours. An inspector may recommend repairs, but it is not his responsibility to correct or repair any problems found in the home.

Home inspections usually take place at the time of the sale of the home, and it is recommended that you attend your home inspection.

Are home inspections really worth the investment? Absolutely! Money may be tight at the time of closing but what if you were moving in and found out that the air conditioning unit doesn’t cool the home? What if you find out that the electrical system is substandard after you move in? What if you discover the chimney needs work? Don’t forego the peace of mind home inspections give.

But what if you are the seller of someone’s dream home? Is it important for you to get your home inspected and appraised before putting it on the market? Yes, because there are many benefits to you as the seller in doing so.

Pre-home inspections and appraisals benefit sellers in the following ways:

  • They give you a strong selling point. People don’t like surprises. Buyers value the peace of mind of knowing there are no issues they will have to deal with once they are finally moved in.
  • They make way for higher offers by making you an honest seller to the buyer. It reassures the buyer that you are selling exactly what you say you are, and they have the appraiser’s signature to back it up. This trust can lead to higher offers.
  • And MORE offers! When you have had the home inspected, repaired and appraised, more people become interested in your home. Buyers appreciate knowing that you have taken extra steps to ensure that your home is “all that and a bag o’ chips”.  This trust can also lead to more offers.
  • Offering a home which has been pre-inspected, repaired and professionally appraised at the closing of your home tells the buyer you are someone they can trust which makes the closing process smoother.

Many buyers believe that sellers cover up problems with their home, talking or playing up on the home’s best qualities and features. Getting a pre-home inspection and appraisal before you list your home takes away potential buyers’ doubts that your house may not be all that you say it is. It’s just good practice, highly beneficial and powerful for you.

Call me, Charles D’Alessandro, your Brooklyn real estate agent with Fillmore Real Estate at (718) 253-9600 ext. 206 or email [email protected] today. With over 30 years of experience in Brooklyn, I can help you find the perfect home and the best home inspector for the peace of mind you deserve.