Real Estate Appraisal: What A Brooklyn Buyer And Seller Need To Know

April 15th, 2022

Home appraiser

The buyer and seller need to know about a real estate appraisal in any home sale.

The buyer will have the real estate appraisal completed as part of their mortgage. The responsibility for paying for the appraisal is part of the buyer’s mortgage costs. Determining value is a key factor in the buyer’s ability to obtain a mortgage.

The seller will need to provide access to their property to complete the appraisal. Most sales agreements with a mortgage contingency will be subject to a real estate appraisal. The appraiser will justify the sales price through their assessment process for the buyer and seller.

The property’s fair market value must come in at or above the sales price. A lender will not loan money for the mortgage without a satisfactory appraisal. The buyer and seller will need to revisit their negotiation if the value is below the sales price.

The Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP) are the standards an appraiser must follow.

What is an appraisal?

Real estate appraisal or property valuation determines the property’s value based on the highest and best use of the real property (which basically translates into determining the property’s fair market value). 

A buyer and seller can request an appraisal for different reasons:

  1. Transfer of ownership of real property.
  2. Establish a basis for the exchange or reorganization for investors.
  3. Provide a mortgage underwriter a value of the security for a mortgage loan.
  4. Estimate value for tax or other legal purposes.
  5. Determine gift or inheritance taxes.
  6. Estimate the value of real property in an estate.

The person who performs this real estate appraisal is the real estate appraiser.

The value as determined by real estate appraisal is the fair market value. 

The real estate appraiser may use various methods to calculate value. However, a systematic approach will determine the fair market value.

  1. The sales comparison approach is commonly used to determine value based on recent sales of comparable properties in the local real estate market.
  2. An alternative method, the cost approach, would estimate the cost of rebuilding, minus an estimate for depreciation, plus the land value.
  3. The income capitalization approach can determine the net earning power the property will support for investment properties.

The appraiser will collect data on the market area, the subject property, and comparable properties. Once assembled, the appraiser must analyze the data collected. Supply and demand is a factor that helps to understand the competitive position of the property in the current market.

The appraiser will calculate the property’s fair market value from this analysis. A written appraisal report will show the methods used to determine the value and the information used in the analysis. Finally, the appraiser certifies that the report will be completed in an unbiased, objective manner.

Timing

There is no need for the seller to have a real estate appraisal completed before putting their home on the market unless there is an extenuating circumstance. The lender is the most interested party in the appraisal more than any other party in the sale. In fact, a lender is not likely to accept an appraisal done outside their network.

The lender will order the appraisal after the buyer applies for their mortgage. The appraiser will schedule a time with the seller to visit and examine the property based on their availability. 

Once they visit the home, the appraiser will begin the preparation of their appraisal report. It may take several days or weeks for the appraiser to deliver the information to the lender.

Sales Contract

One of the indications of value an appraiser considers is the contract between two unrelated parties, the buyer and seller, for the sale and purchase of the home. Thus, a copy of the executed sales agreement will be provided to the appraiser by the mortgage company.

Comparable Sales

In general, when you are selling your primary residence, the person buying it will make it his primary residence, too. However, if the buyer obtains a mortgage, the lender will require an evaluation of similar houses sold in the same neighborhood to prove the fair market value. The appraiser will generally find homes within a ½ mile radius of the subject property that has sold in the past six months. 

A real estate agent may choose to provide sales comps they used to determine the offering price to the appraiser, but the appraiser cannot just automatically use them in their appraisal. As an unbiased party to the sale, they must determine the comparability to the subject property.

What can a seller do to prepare for the appraiser’s visit?

If you’ve let your hair down, get your home back into “show” condition before the appraiser comes.

Everything you know about preparing your home for sale, well-mulched flower beds, minor repairs addressed, lack of fingerprints, lack of clutter, and all the rest apply.

The age of the home and the “effective age” are needed in the Uniform Residential Appraisal Report form under the “General Description.” Therefore, how well your home appears affects the number under “effective age.

The Uniform Appraisal Report requires information about materials (and their condition) used for floors, walls, trim and finishing elements, bathroom floors and wainscots, and interior doors. For this reason, appraisers train themselves to notice these detail. Provide a good impression by dusting, polishing, and eliminating scratches and fingerprints.

The Report also asks about kitchen equipment (refrigerator, range and oven, disposal, dishwasher, fan and hood, microwave, and washer and dryer). Be sure all appliances are clean and operating well.

Amenities such as fireplaces, patios, decks, porches, fences, and sheds will be included in the report. If an appraiser is going to take note of these things, they should be swept, cleaned, and in good condition. Also, clean out the gutters. If it rains on the day of your appraisal, you want your house to handle the rainwater well.

Here is an example of a  “comments” section of an appraisal: “The subject is well maintained, and no physical, functional, or external inadequacies are noted. Marketability is enhanced by hardwood flooring throughout most of the home, an updated kitchen, fresh interior and exterior paint, transom windows, built-ins, a front porch, a rear patio, large storage shed, and 4 fireplaces, etc.” An appraiser will evaluate your home carefully.

The importance of preparing your property before the listing is not only for potential buyers but also for the appraisal process. Be sure to keep your home free of clutter as best you can until the appraiser has visited.

An experienced real estate agent can help you price a property correctly before listing it for sale. They should use a similar method as the appraiser using the sales comparison approach. Understanding the appraisal process should help you understand why real estate agents place so much importance on pricing the house correctly.

Contact me, Charles D’Alessandro, your Brooklyn Real Estate Agent with Fillmore Real Estate. As a Brooklyn real estate agent with over 30 years of experience, I can help you prepare your home for potential buyers and the real estate appraisal. Reach me by phone at (718) 253-9500 ext. 1901 or by email at [email protected]
Charles D'Allesandro

Brooklyn Homeowners Can Make Small Changes To Help The Climate

March 30th, 2022

Brooklyn homeowners can make small changes to hel the climate

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

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

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

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

Carbon Footprint 

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

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

Greenhouse Gases 

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

Renewable Energy

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

Alternative Energy

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

Fossil Fuels

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

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

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

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

Energy Star products. 

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

Heating and Cooling Habits. 

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

Insulation and Sealing

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

The 3 R’s (Reduce, reuse, recycle)

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

Water Usage

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

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

Programmable thermostats

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

Lightbulbs

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

Insulation, Caulking, and Weather Stripping

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

Appliances

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

Reducing Water Usage

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

Green Power 

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

Solar Energy

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

Low VOC Products

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

Composting

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

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

Contact me, Charles D’Alessandro, your Brooklyn Real Estate Agent with Fillmore Real Estate. As a Brooklyn real estate agent with over 30 years of experience, I can help you buy or sell in the Brooklyn real estate market. Reach me by phone at (718) 253-9500 ext. 1901 or by email at [email protected]
Charles D'Allesandro

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

March 15th, 2022

Your Brooklyn Home exterior with curb appeal.

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

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

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

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

Gather Ideas

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

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

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

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

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

Buyer’s Perspective

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

Grass and Patches

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

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

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

Planting Beds

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

Trees and Shrubs

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

Parking

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

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

Backyard Seating

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

Front Porch

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

Homebuyers rate curb appeal high on their list of positive home features. Creating good curb appeal outside is as essential as staging your home inside. To find more about staging the interior of your Brooklyn home, check out this previous blog post.

Contact me, Charles D’Alessandro, your Brooklyn Real Estate Agent with Fillmore Real Estate. As a Brooklyn real estate agent with over 30 years of experience, I can help you sell your Brooklyn home. Reach me by phone at (718) 253-9500 ext. 1901 or by email at [email protected]

Charles D'Allesandro

Five Benefits of Brooklyn Homeownership

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

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

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

Financial Benefits

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

Strengthening Credit

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

Fixed Housing Cost

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

Equity

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

Personal and Emotional Benefits

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

Sanctuary 

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

Security

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

Importance

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

Health

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

Social Benefits

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

Community

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

Financial Education

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

Privacy

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

Tax Benefits

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

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

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

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

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

Brooklyn Homeownership versus Renting Benefits

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

Building equity for yourself versus your landlord

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

Interest rates are low

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

Stability 

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

More Freedom

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

Building credit

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  1. What are your total monthly costs?

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

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

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

Contact me, Charles D’Alessandro, your Brooklyn Real Estate Agent with Fillmore Real Estate. As a Brooklyn real estate agent with over 30 years of experience, I help many home buyers understand the home buying process. Reach me by phone at (718) 253-9500 ext. 1901 or by email at [email protected]
Charles D'Allesandro

Important Real Estate Terms Brooklyn Home Buyers Or Sellers Need To Know

February 15th, 2022

dictionary of real estate terms for brooklyn home buyers or sellers

Real estate terminology can get confusing for Brooklyn Home Buyers or Sellers. After all, there is a lot of information you receive in the home buying or selling process. It may feel like you have to ask a hundred questions to understand the process clearly. 

Real estate professionals often forget that some of our terms are not common to clients. For this reason, I am sharing a simple explanation of some of the words you may need to know.

Adjustable-Rate Mortgage:

type of home loan with a variable interest rate set for a period of time and then the rate adjusts at predetermined intervals.

Amortization:

the schedule of your monthly payments showing how much of your mortgage payment goes to interest and principal until your mortgage is paid in full with the last payment.

Appraisal:

an independent evaluation initiated by the lender to determine a property’s value. An appraiser evaluates the home’s condition and comparable sales in the neighborhood. This report validates the purchase price.

Assessed Value:

a public assessor determines the property’s value for tax purposes.

Cash Reserves:

remaining funds after paying the down payment and closing costs. Lenders generally require some reserves to ensure you have the financial ability to make payments.

Closing Costs:

these are fees required to cover mortgage and title expenses for a property transfer. Both buyer and seller are responsible for a portion of the costs. 

Downpayment:

the amount of money paid upfront in a home purchase. Most lenders require a certain percentage based on the mortgage loan program you are obtaining.

Escrow:

a financial account set up by the lender and funded by the homeowner’s mortgage payments to cover property taxes and homeowner’s insurance when due.

Equity:

the difference between the property value and any outstanding mortgage amount owed on the property.

Interest Rate:

the percentage of interest charged for financing a mortgage. The lender determines interest rates.

Fixed-Rate Mortgage:

the interest rate remains the same for the life of the loan.

Loan-to-Value:

this is a ratio used by lenders to measure the loan amount to the value of the property. A larger down payment will lower the ratio and appeal to the lender.

Mortgage Broker:

an individual who acts as an intermediary between borrowers and lenders. Usually works with several different lenders to provide options.

Preapproval Letter:

the letter provided by a mortgage lender verifying the buyer’s financial ability to purchase a property. Sellers generally require this letter as part of the offer process.

Private Money Loan:  

is money borrowed from an individual investor, usually used by real estate investors to finance deals that may not qualify for a traditional loan.

Private Mortgage Insurance:

this fee is a percentage of the mortgage loan when a buyer puts down less than 20% and can be satisfied once the homeowner reaches a certain equity level. It is also known as PMI.

Proof of Funds:

a statement from a financial institution that verifies the buyer has enough funds available to complete a cash purchase offer.

Refinancing:

a homeowner will usually restructure their loan later after closing to either reduce the interest rate or pull out equity.

The first step for a home buyer is to work with a lender to determine the price range of the house they qualify for and the monthly payment that comfortably fits their budget. Understanding the above terms will help you when meeting with the lender. Nerdwallet discusses how to obtain a pre-approval in this article

The real estate purchase agreement or contract offers its terms for Brooklyn home buyers or sellers.

As-Is:

a property offered in “as-is” condition means the seller is unwilling to repair the home. It does not necessarily mean there is anything wrong with the property. The property frequently offers a lower to sell in “as-is” condition. A buyer can still elect to have a home inspection for informational purposes.

Addendum:

a separate form or addendum is used to add any additional terms and conditions included in the sale but not covered in the real estate purchase contract.

Buyer’s Agent:

is a real estate agent who represents the sole interest of the buyer in the home buying process.

Contingencies:

conditions the buyer or seller needs to meet before purchasing a property can close. Typical contingencies are inspections, mortgage approvals, and appraisals.

Disclosures:

sellers are required to complete property disclosures that may reveal various defects or improvements that may affect the home’s condition. Required disclosure varies by market. Typically, the areas covered in a disclosure include general information about the house, known environmental issues, known structural issues, and mechanical systems.

Due Diligence:

This is a time-specific opportunity for a buyer to examine the property thoroughly. Generally, this timeframe is for inspections or performing tests. 

Earnest Money Deposit:

a deposit made by the home buyer typically when they enter into a contract with the seller demonstrating their earnestness in purchasing the home. The amount is held in an escrow account until closing and deducted from the buyer’s cash needed for closing.

Inspections:

a buyer may choose to inspect the property before deciding to move forward with purchasing a home. Typical inspections are general home inspections, wood-boring insect or pest inspections, and radon inspections.

Listing Agent:

is a real estate agent who represents the sole interest of the seller in the home selling process.

Mortgage Contingency:

a condition in the purchase contract that the buyer must receive a mortgage commitment from the lender by an agreed-upon date.

Seller’s Contribution/Seller’s Assist:

the seller agrees to pay a percentage or defined dollar amount towards the buyer’s closing costs if negotiated.

Title Insurance:

usually required as part of the closing process, title insurance protects the buyer from the responsibility of an undiscovered lien after closing on their new home.

an examination of public records to confirm the property’s rightful legal owner and determine if any claims or liens on the property would affect the purchase.

Transfer Tax:

when property transfers from one owner to another in the state of New York, transfer tax is collected and typically paid by the seller.

That is a lot to remember, but your real estate agent can refresh your memory as you review the sales agreement together. This previous blog post will help you to learn more about how a real estate agent can help Brooklyn home buyers or sellers.

There is some miscellaneous terminology you may hear that may need some clarification:

Comparables:

are comparable, similar homes sold in a defined radius of the subject home used to establish a fair market value.

Distressed Property:

property can be in disrepair; an owner may have defaulted on their mortgage payments or property taxes are delinquent.

Fee Simple:

this term describes the most common type of homeownership. A property owner can transfer, or an heir can inherit the property rights at the owner’s discretion.

Flipping:

an investment strategy of purchasing a home, making improvements, and then reselling the property for a profit.

Foreclosure:

a bank repossesses a property due to the owner’s inability to make mortgage payments.

MLS:

the Multiple Listing Service is a database available to licensed real estate agents to view property listings.

Motivated Seller:

a homeowner may be pressed for time, nearing foreclosure, or own property out of state and are open to negotiating a favorable price for a property.

Probate Sale:

If the death of a homeowner occurs and they do not have a written will, the probate court authorizes an estate attorney or representative to hire a real estate agent to sell the home.

Real Estate Auction:

usually, a financial institution will sell repossessed homes through an auction to the public. Privately homeowners may also choose an auction to sell.

Short Sale:  

a homeowner can not sell their property for more than what they owe on the home. The lender must approve a short sale.

Real estate has specific acronyms and terms that can confuse those not working in the field like any other industry. However, when you hire a real estate professional to work on your behalf, they can answer your questions on anything you do not understand.

Contact me, Charles D’Alessandro, your Brooklyn Real Estate Agent with Fillmore Real Estate. As a Brooklyn real estate agent with over 30 years of experience, I help many home buyers and sellers with their real estate needs. Reach me by phone at (718) 253-9500 ext. 1901 or by email at [email protected]

Charles D'Allesandro

3 Tips To Get Top Dollar When You Sell Your Brooklyn Home

January 30th, 2022
Get top dollar when you sell your Brooklyn home

When you are ready to sell your Brooklyn home, I am sure you want to get top dollar for it. Your home may be your most significant investment, so it is an understandable goal. I can provide many tips to homeowners considering selling their homes. I have included three essential tips to help you. 

The winter doldrums have us looking towards spring. Many homeowners decide to sell their homes in the spring. The competition is always high at that time of year. Even in a hot real estate market, it is important to do some preliminary planning before the first buyer walks through your home.

Three main factors determine if a home will sell; condition, price, and location. Although you may not be able to change the location of your home, you can definitely address the condition and price to make it appealing to buyers.

To get top dollar, I recommend:

Deep Clean

Whether your home has some dated features or is updated throughout, one of the most important things you can do is deep cleaning. A neat and tidy home presents well to potential buyers. 

It is easiest to go room by room. Begin by decluttering excess items. It is essential to make each room look as spacious as possible. Don’t forget to declutter your closets also. When a buyer opens an overfilled closet with no room for extra hangers, they believe if there is no room for your clothes, there won’t be room for theirs either. Washing or painting the walls can make a big difference. Finally, take a look at the flooring. Do you need to shampoo carpets and deep clean hard surface floors to make them more appealing?

You will find some great articles on deep cleaning the inside of your home in this Better Homes and Gardens article.

Not only should you concentrate on the interior, but also the exterior. Power washing the siding and decks, cleaning windows, and attention to landscaping go far in creating the curb appeal that buyers are looking to find.  This article addresses the areas to focus on when cleaning the exterior of your home.

Sometimes we don’t see what needs to be done in our own homes because we have become used to living with it. Therefore, it may be helpful to have someone you trust to give you an honest opinion of what they think you need to address as well. 

It may take some effort and expense to prepare to sell your Brooklyn home. However, any money you spend on preparing your home outweighs the payoff you will receive from a quicker sale. 

Price Correctly

Pricing your home correctly starts with thorough research. Your real estate agent will become a valued source in helping you determine the best price to sell your Brooklyn home.

Several factors go into pricing your home. The first is the location of your home. The phrase “location, location, location” comes up in real estate regularly for a reason. The location of your home is one of the most critical factors. As I said, you can not change the location of your home. The contributors to a good or bad location include your lot location, neighborhood, schools, local amenities, and crime statistics, to mention a few. 

Your real estate agent will research comparable homes in your neighborhood. The sales price of homes similar to yours within a certain radius of your home is the first thing to evaluate. These homes should be similar in square footage, age, and lot size. Appraisers try to stay within a half-mile radius of the subject home to determine market value. 

Next, your real estate agent will look at pending homes. These are homes that have sold but have not yet closed. Based on the asking price, the information will indicate whether prices remain the same, increasing or decreasing. It also shows the types of homes buyers were interested in purchasing. You will not know the final sales price until it finally closes, but it does give some clues to the current pricing trends.

An agent will also look at homes currently for sale. These homes will be your competition. Comparing these homes will help price appropriately because buyers will also be looking at these homes in addition to yours. 

It is important to reiterate that the homes you are comparing to yours are of similar size, age, and lot size. Therefore, you need to be comparing apples to apples to determine the correct price for your home.

Overpricing a home can be detrimental to you. Unfortunately, many home sellers mistakenly feel they can negotiate a lower price. However, the truth is, you will lose the right buyers because they are not likely to look outside their price range.

Pricing a home correctly can be a difficult task. In this previous blog post, you can find more information about the importance of pricing your home correctly. With the proper guidance, you will discover the right price for your home to reflect the current pricing trends.

Hire a Real Estate Professional

Selling a home can be stressful. Hiring an agent to guide you through the process can alleviate some of that stress. There is a lot to know about the real estate process to attain a smooth transaction when you are ready to sell your Brooklyn home. 

A real estate professional can do the research and recommend a fair asking price. They know the process and have the negotiating skills to help you obtain the best results. 

They study the market and understand the current trends in the local area that may affect you as a home seller. Then, a real estate agent will guide you in presenting your home in the best possible light based on what the current buyers in your market want.

Your real estate agent will professionally market your home to obtain the proper exposure to the available buyers. Help with staging, professional photography, and internet exposure of the house are all part of a real estate marketing plan they will provide.

Statistically, homeowners who choose to sell their home for sale by owner end up selling their home 10 – 30% less than when using a real estate professional. Many homeowners believe that saving money on the commission will put more money in their pocket. But, if you are selling 10 – 30% more with the help of a real estate agent, you are ahead of the game paying the commission. In addition, you are not responsible for the tasks needed to get a home sold, like marketing, showing the house, writing contracts, negotiating sales price, negotiating inspections, and following the transaction through to closing.

Hiring the right real estate agent can be a process. First, interview several agents before deciding which one is right for you. Unfortunately, there are many misconceptions about real estate agents. I debunk some of those misunderstandings in this blog post.

When you sell your Brooklyn home you need to understand the process. These three tips can help the right buyer find your home.

Contact me, Charles D’Alessandro, your Brooklyn Real Estate Agent with Fillmore Real Estate. As a Brooklyn real estate agent with over 30 years of experience, I have helped many homeowners sell their homes quickly and profitably. I can be reached by phone at (718) 253-9500 ext. 1901 or by email at [email protected]

Charles D'Allesandro

Enjoy The Comfort Of Home By Preparing For The Winter Chill

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

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

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

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

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

Areas to evaluate outside include:

Roof

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

Chimney

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

Gutters

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

Trees

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

Outdoor pipes and water features

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

Outdoor Plants

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

Sidewalks

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

Driveways

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

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

Smoke & CO Detectors

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

Fireplace

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

Window & Doors

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

Heating System

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

Programmable Thermostat

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

Boot Station

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

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

Snow Shovel

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

Ice Melter

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

Ice Scraper

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

Flashlights

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

Back-up Cell Battery

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

Water

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

Pantry Items

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

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

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

Contact me, Charles D’Alessandro, your Brooklyn Real Estate Agent with Fillmore Real Estate. As a Brooklyn real estate agent with over 30 years of experience, I like to help my clients with helpful tips and accumulated knowledge. I can be reached by phone at (718) 253-9500 ext. 1901 or by email at [email protected]

Charles D'Allesandro

Can I Get A Deal On A Home Like They Do On Reality TV?

December 30th, 2021

Reality TV Deal on a home

Many ask, “Can I get a deal on a home like they do on reality TV?” And the answer is one of the most famous answers in the real estate industry, “It depends.”

Reality TV has brought the real estate industry to the forefront, with buyers, sellers, and investors eagerly watching. As a result, searching for a deal on a home has become the quest of many.

The real estate market has been one of the best we have seen in a while. However, this makes finding a bargain harder. Prices escalate during a hot market, even on the fixer-uppers. This may make it difficult to find a deal that is worth the investment.

Reality TV has changed some aspects of the real estate industry as we know it.

Condition

Buyers expect homes to be immaculately decorated and presented well. Sellers feel the pressure of preparing their homes even to renovate before putting their homes on the market. Find out more about staging a home in this previous blog post.

Vision

Buyers may have difficulty seeing a home’s potential that needs renovation. This is not a new phenomenon in the real estate industry. Many buyers have trouble envisioning the possibilities of a home. We also see this issue in new construction. As buyers walk through a model home, they see perfectly decorated rooms. Walking into a finished undecorated model can feel very different to them. But when they walk into an unfinished model with the same layout, they can’t envision what it will look like finished.

Timeframe

In most reality shows, there is not enough time to show the actual number of homes the buyer looked at before settling on one to purchase. Most of these shows depict the buyer looking at three houses and deciding on the one they want to buy. Statistically, that is not what happens in the real world. It would be fantastic if that were the norm. Several factors can affect the time it will take to find a home. The number of homes may vary depending on the local market, the time you can dedicate to looking, and the number of buyers looking for similar homes.

Finishes

Many buyers expect homes to have high-end finishes due to the television shows they watch. The type of finishes in a home can depend on the age of the house, the length of time owned, what is typical for the neighborhood, and other circumstances. Reality TV can lead one to believe all sellers update their homes.

Location

You have probably heard location is important. Location is vital for many reasons. If the home’s location is in a down-turning neighborhood, it may be a bargain but not a good investment. If a house is in a desirable area, the cost may be much higher. Often buyers will decide to move further out than the initial area they choose. If a long commute is involved, it may quickly become a decision they regret. 

Budgets

Budgets for renovations are not always accurately depicted. The television show can often get materials at lower costs than the average consumer. Local markets may also experience different contractors’ fees, inspections, and building permits. This article by Ramsey Solutions provides a guide for renovations. It is wise to obtain estimates for any anticipated work you would like to do to a home before purchasing.

Geography

The area of the country you live in will dictate the affordability of homes. If you are looking to find a home in a high-cost area, you will have to spend more on housing costs.

Investors are also affected by reality TV’s depiction of getting a deal on a home to flip.

Some shows falsely depict the possibility of purchasing, repairing, and re-selling a home in a matter of weeks for incredible profits. Unfortunately, these shows are very appealing around the globe to folks who want to become investors.

Although many viewers can accomplish these renovations, television does not accurately depict how hard the work may be. There is a lot of blood, sweat, and tears to complete a project successfully. Also, they rarely show a renovation that was a complete frustration or failure for the investor.

By no means is every project doomed to failure. But, things may not be as rosy as television makes them appear. Flipping a home requires a lot of hands-on work or a large budget to hire the contractors to do the job. It is hard to realize how much work goes into renovating a successful house flip. 

It is possible to turn a substantial profit in a relatively short amount of time if you keep your cool, use your head, and buy and sell in the right conditions. The problem is that many people do not consider the big picture and find themselves in over their heads and out of money before the project is anywhere near completion.

The popularity of these television shows has made the competition for flippable homes more fierce, making it difficult to find a deal on a home. The early bird in this business gets the worm. The cheapest houses are not always the best candidates for a flip. The apparent goal is to buy low and sell high. Right now, the problem is being able to buy low. 

Television has dramatically changed the way people invest in real estate.

I don’t think we can say whether it has been good or bad for the real estate industry. However, real estate is still one of the best investments you will make if you do your homework and invest wisely.

Fortunes can be made and lost in real estate. The trick is to always place your bets on the right property at the right time. Having the right team supporting you is equally as important. Your team should include a financial advisor, contractors, and a local real estate professional who knows and understands the local market.

Using the services of a real estate professional is important, even in reality TV.

Realtors are used frequently in reality shows to help locate properties, evaluate the feasibility of the purchase, determine a realistic offer based on needed updates, and help determine the final value after renovations.

The interest in these shows has inspired many people to obtain their real estate licenses. 

Although, not all shows accurately depict the real life of a real estate professional. There is a lot of behind-the-scenes work not reflected in these shows to accurately represent the time and effort to make these deals happen. Researching the properties, area, and local trends to identify a good investment is crucial whether the home is for a personal residence or a flip.

Reality TV is great entertainment.

The popularity of these shows speaks for itself. Needless to say, before you start your search for a deal on a home, be sure to do your homework. Work with a professional to help guide you through the process.

If you are ready to find your deal on a home, I can help you.

Contact me, Charles D’Alessandro, your Brooklyn Real Estate Agent with Fillmore Real Estate. As a Brooklyn real estate agent with over 30 years of experience, I study the local market and trends. I can be reached by phone at (718) 253-9500 ext. 1901 or by email at [email protected]

Charles D'Allesandro

Is Downsizing Your House The Right Move For You Now?

December 15th, 2021

Downsizing your house, couple with moving boxes.

Downsizing your house can come at any stage of your life. Many people consider downsizing when they become empty nesters or have trouble maneuvering their big old house. We hear a lot about the popularity of tiny houses too. The thought of downsizing is not an age-specific thought anymore.

Before you can downsize your house, you must think through many options.

If there is a safety issue that may prevent you from easily moving around your home, you need not look any further for a reason to make a move. It is best to make a move before you are forced to make one and cannot take your time to make the right decision.

Another reason can be that you just don’t use all the rooms in your home. This could be because your kids have graduated and moved out on their own, or your needs have changed,  and you no longer need a home office, workshop, or other spaces that you may have.

Sometimes a downsize is necessary for financial reasons. The expenses for your home may be high due to utility costs, upkeep, or even increasing taxes. You may have had an adjustment in your income that no longer affords you the extra income required to maintain your home.

You need to write a pros and cons list to determine whether you are ready to make this move. 

Downsizing Pros:

  • You will have less upkeep in a smaller home.
  • Bills for utilities, maintenance, and taxes may be lower.
  • You will save time by having less to maintain.
  • Your quality of life will improve.
  • The new home may be better suited for your needs.
  • You may have more free time for travel.
  • Aging in place is possible with the right choice of home.
  • You can relocate closer to family or friends.

Downsizing Cons:

  • You can’t find a home in your desired area.
  • Uncertain whether you can live in a smaller place.
  • Can’t find the right floorplan to accommodate your needs.
  • Not enough storage for the things you want to keep.

Before you make a final decision, I suggest you look at the available options to replace your current home. You may be looking for a single-family home, a townhouse or condominium, or even a retirement community. Do you want a place that provides exterior maintenance such as grass cutting and snow removal?

Some things to think about when looking for the right new home are:

  • Which floor plans are the right size for you?
  • Do you need one bedroom and one bath, or something bigger?
  • Will you need a kitchenette or a full-sized kitchen?
  • Is a balcony or patio space important to you?
  • What views would you prefer from your new home?
  • Do you need a washer/dryer in your home, or will a shared laundry be suitable?
  • Would you like to be close to the community activity or further out?
  • Do you want to be in a walkable community?
  • Is additional storage space needed?
  • Will you need a parking space?
  • Do you want/need to customize your residence in any way?
  • Will you need space for visitors, or is there a guest room available on-site?

When looking at a new home, you need to be sure you understand the total expenses required to live there and sell your home. These expenses may include:

  • Preparing your home for sale.
  • Moving expenses
  • Homeowner’s insurance and property taxes for a new home.
  • Homeowner’s association fee, if any.
  • Purchasing new items for the new home.
  • Modifications to the new home.
  • Storage unit, if needed.

Once you have decided that downsizing your house is the right move for you, you must start the sorting and packing process. 

Be sure to allow plenty of time to accomplish the move.

This can be a difficult process for many, especially if you have been in your home for a long time.

The first step is sorting through your belongings and determining what you want to take with you. 

The things you do not want to take with you can be passed to loved ones, sold, donated, or trashed. The easiest way to work through this process is one room at a time. Set a realistic timeline to sort through the entire house and break that down into daily goals to go through each room one by one. You will find different methods for decluttering in this article.

To determine what you want to keep and move to your new home, you will need to know the square footage of the house and the dimensions of the rooms, if possible. Ask if there is an available floor plan for the home. If not, you may want to measure the rooms yourself to know what will fit.

Another consideration is determining if the items you want to take with you will fit your new lifestyle. 

If you do not have a formal living room, you may not want to take the traditional pieces that aren’t comfortable for everyday use. If you plan to travel more, do you need to keep every small kitchen appliance you own when you aren’t home to cook?

It is helpful to set ground rules for your declutter. 

If you are going through your clothes and have not worn anything in a couple of years, it might be a good idea to get rid of them. Paring down is often tricky, but it is necessary to move to a smaller space.

Sentimental items are the hardest to part with for many people. 

Offer them to family members or friends who may also have a sentimental attachment to the item. If there is no one interested in taking the things and you can not take them with you, take photos of the items to look back at the pictures when you want to reminisce. You can create a memory book of your home as a keepsake.

You can sell items you decide you do not want to take with you.

Many online sites are great for reselling items. If you have a considerable amount, you may hire someone to handle an estate/moving sale for you. You can also do it yourself with a good old-fashioned garage sale. If things do not sell, donate them to an organization that can use them.

Sometimes you can repurpose items for different use in your new home.

Do you have a dresser you love that will not fit in a bedroom space? Can you use it as hallway decor and create extra storage for hats and gloves? In addition, you can make special clothing items into quilts, pillows, or stuffed animals.

Bringing in some help may be necessary. 

You may have family or friends who are willing to help. If not, some companies that specialize in organizing often offer services to people moving. They may also have some great resources for you to sell or donate items, along with packing tips. This blog post will provide you with some good advice for packing and moving.

Most importantly, you need to pace yourself. 

You will not be able to do it all in one day. Some rooms will take less time than others. You will want to have this decluttering done before putting your home on the market, so work with your real estate professional to determine a realistic timeline.

Prepare yourself for the emotions of downsizing your house. 

You will experience many emotions as you work through this process. Some of the things that may pop up are:

  • Memories
  • Fear of the Unknown
  • Stress
  • Family Pressure
  • Overwhelm

As these emotions start to sink in, remember you are making this move to change your life positively. No matter why you have decided to make this move, you have decided now is the right time. Once you are moved in and enjoying your new home, these emotions will subside.

If you consider downsizing your house, I’d be happy to consult with you to determine if this is the right move for you.

Contact me, Charles D’Alessandro, your Brooklyn Real Estate Agent with Fillmore Real Estate. As a Brooklyn real estate agent with over 30 years of experience, I have helped many people downsize their existing homes. I can be reached by phone at (718) 253-9500 ext. 1901 or by email at [email protected]

Charles D'Allesandro

Can You Create A Stress-Free Kitchen Update On A Budget?

November 30th, 2021

Man working on a kitchen update on a budget.

Many Brooklyn homeowners consider making a kitchen update on a budget. Thinking through the entire process before you begin the work can help create a stress-free experience for you.

The first step is to develop your budget and stick to it. Ask yourself these questions:

  1. How much do I want to spend?
  2. How long do I plan on staying in this home?
  3. What finishes are typical for this neighborhood?

These are essential questions to consider when you are working through your planning process. Don’t spend more than you can afford. The time you plan to live in this home will help you determine how much to spend and what types of finishes you want. If you are only staying in the house for a couple of years, you do not want to over-improve the kitchen by adding finishes that are not typical for the neighborhood. You may not get a return if the finishes are too upscale, or you may take longer to sell if they are lower than typical.

You will find that it is easy to go over budget when you remodel a kitchen. Thorough planning and budgeting will help you avoid the stress of overspending. It is a good idea to budget for any contingencies. Unforeseen expenses often occur.

Next, you will want to gather ideas.

You can gather some incredible ideas through internet searches, Pinterest, and visiting local building supply stores. Estimate the cost of each element you are considering. See if there are less expensive alternatives that will give you the same look. In a budget breakdown, HGTV suggests the percentage of your budget you should spend on:

  • Cabinets – 35%
  • Labor – 20%
  • Appliances – 20%
  • Windows – 10%
  • Fixtures – 5%
  • Fittings – 3%
  • Other – 7%

Keep these guidelines in mind as you make decisions on the design and materials of your kitchen update on a budget.

Before you set everything in motion, consider these points.

DIY or Contractor

With the popularity of home improvement shows, it may be tempting to do it yourself. However, if you are not skilled, you should budget for a professional contractor. Finding a reliable contractor requires some research. The best place to start is with family and friends who may have previously finished a kitchen update. Check references, and try to visit a job they recently completed. If the contractor has a good reputation, you may need to wait to get on their calendar. However, it is often a worthwhile wait.

Space and Layout

If your budget is tight, you may not be able to add additional space to your kitchen or change the layout. Adding space to a kitchen may require tearing down a wall which can be costly. If the change in layout requires relocating plumbing or electrical, you will need to account for extra in your budget.

Schedule

When you want to start the project may be determined by when you need the project complete. If you want it finished by a particular date, you will need to work backward to calculate the best time to start the project. If you plan on hosting any significant events at your home, proper planning can eliminate the stress of meeting deadlines.

Ventilation

Proper ventilation in a kitchen serves several purposes. First and foremost is your comfort. A ventilation system will keep your kitchen from getting too hot. It will also help you to eliminate cooking odors that permeate the home. Ventilation helps keep your smoke detectors from being set off by smoke and steam. Pay careful attention to how you can achieve good ventilation in your kitchen using an exhaust fan such as a hood.

Temporary Kitchen

While your kitchen is under construction, you may need to set up a temporary kitchen to prepare quick meals and snacks. Your time estimate may determine how extensive a setup you need. Going out to eat or getting take out for a few days may not be a problem, but you may want to be able to cook some simple meals as your timeframe extends. 

When you plan a kitchen update on a budget, you want to be sure to incorporate ideas that will help your home sell.

If you are not planning on moving right away, you can enjoy selections that may not necessarily appeal to a broad range of homebuyers. However, if you think there is even a remote possibility of moving within 2 – 3 years, I would recommend selections with a broad range of popularity. Check out other homes in your neighborhood that have recently sold, and take a good look at the kitchens. What sorts of finishes seem to be ordinary?

Some simple ideas that are appealing to a broad range of people are:

Kitchen Island

It may be a wise investment if you have the space for an island, especially with seating. The additional counter space is appealing, along with the extra seating. In addition, the ability to have family or guests sit in the kitchen while you are preparing meals keeps you involved in the interactions and creates some great memories.

Open Shelving

The use of open shelving is helpful to create a sense of space in a kitchen. As a result, this modern touch has become popular.

Pull Out Shelves

Cabinets and pantries that have pull-out shelves are appealing because it creates more efficient use of the space. It is also convenient to pull out the shelf to locate what you need, especially deep and lower cabinets. Corner cabinets with shelves that open out also make great use of that lost corner space.

Lighting

The use of different types of lighting can make an immense difference in the feel of the kitchen. Overhead, recessed, chandelier, task, and under-cabinet options illuminate an area differently and have specific purposes. Planning for a good mix of lighting will help make food preparation and eating meals more pleasurable.

Faucets

Like lighting, there are so many options for kitchen faucets. The price ranges vary drastically. Think of the function of your kitchen and your needs. You may not need a touchless faucet, but having a sprayer may be a necessity.

Coffee bar

Many people enjoy having a designated coffee or beverage bar in their kitchen—a space to house all the equipment and supplies you will need to prepare your favorite drink. Depending on your kitchen, a separate sink may also be an added touch you want to consider.

Appliances

You may not have the budget for top-of-the-line appliances, but updating with the best in your budget is a good idea. A home buyer would be concerned that older appliances will break or waste too much energy. Shop around to find the best deal within your budget.

Paint

A fresh coat of paint does wonders. But, again, if you are considering selling shortly, avoid bold or specific color palates with limited appeal. Neutral tones appeal to a wide range of people. 

Floors

If your floors are damaged or dated material, you should consider an update. If you have a tile floor, simply regrouting can make the floor look fresh. There are many affordable options in flooring. Research to find the best solution for your lifestyle and budget.

Cabinets

Your budget will determine whether you can replace the old cabinets with new ones. If you do not have a budget for new cabinets and your current cabinets need repairing, you can consider painting, stripping, and refinishing the wood or refacing. Using bright white paint can hide outdated cabinets and create a more modern feel. But, again, the solution for you will depend on your budget.

Average estimates for kitchen remodels include:

Low = $5,000 to $15,000

Medium = $15,000 to $30,000

High = $30,000 or more

With good planning and smart shopping, you can accomplish a stress-free kitchen update on a budget.

Caution – be careful not to over-improve for your neighborhood. For more tips, you can read my previous blog post.

Contact me, Charles D’Alessandro, your Brooklyn Real Estate Agent with Fillmore Real Estate. As a Brooklyn real estate agent with over 30 years of experience, I know what types of updates work to help sell a home quickly. I can be reached by phone at (718) 253-9500 ext. 1901 or by email at [email protected]

Charles D'Allesandro