For Buyers

  • Amenities Home Buyers Crave
  • Home Buyer Checklist
  • Spring Cleaning Tips that Will Help You Se...
  • What You Need to Know When Moving with a P...
  • New Year, New Home: Preparing to Buy in 20...
  • What to Expect in 2022’s Real Estate Mar...
  • What You Need to Know as a First-time Home...
  • Why Hiring a Real Estate Agent is Importan...
  • The Most Common Questions You Should Be As...
  • The Power of Community
  • Flipping Houses 101

Amenities Home Buyers Crave

If you are selling your home, it pays to know what modern buyers are looking for. The right amenities can make a world of difference, helping your home sell more quickly and for a higher price.

Part of selling a home is giving the buyer what they want. Here are some of the things modern buyers crave.

Modern Lighting

The right lighting can make any home look better, and upgrading your lights could make a world of difference. Something as simple as installing new spotlight on the front door or a set of solar-powered lights along your front walkway will enhance your home’s curb appeal and give would-be buyers a good first impression.

Updating the lighting inside your home is a smart move as well. Replacing your old light bulbs with new and brighter LEDs will make your home look airier and more inviting and save you money at the same time.

A Wireless Security System

Security is an important consideration for the modern home buyer, but many homeowners have come to dislike old-line security companies and hard-wired systems. Modern buyers are looking for a better solution – one that can be easily moved from home to home. Investing in a wireless security system can make your home more attractive to would-be buyers and even boost its selling price.

New Energy-Efficient Windows

Replacing the windows is a difficult job, one that few buyers will want to tackle. That makes a home with new and more energy-efficient windows more attractive than ever.

If you have recently replaced your old windows with newer models, be sure to let the Realtor® know. Today’s buyers love energy-efficient windows, and they know that those new windows will save them money every month.

A Home Office

These days a lot of people work from their homes, and the presence of a home office can be a big plus for those buyers. Adding a standalone office to your home prior to putting it on the market probably does not make sense, but if you already have one make sure it is prominently highlighted in any marketing materials.

Built-In Storage

Ample storage is an important consideration for modern home buyers, and built-in storage solutions are very popular know. From recessed bookcases built into the bedroom walls to shelving units incorporated into the garage, the presence of these storage solutions can be a major selling point.

Knowing what buyers are looking for is one of the best ways to sell your home quickly. The more attractive your home is to would-be buyers the easier it will be to sell. The amenities listed above are in especially high demand, so be sure to point them out to all potential buyers.



Home Buyer Checklist

Buying a home is not something to be taken lightly – or something to be entered into without preparation. Whether you are in the market for a $100,000 home or a $1,000,000 mansion, you need to prepare carefully and make sure everything is ready to go.

The home buying checklist below can help you get started and reduce the chances of an unpleasant surprise down the line. Taking care of these items before you start shopping is an important part of the home buying process.

Set a Monthly Housing Budget

Setting a realistic monthly housing budget is essential, and it should be the first step on your checklist. Financial experts recommend that the total cost of housing, including the mortgage payment, real estate taxes, maintenance and upkeep, should be no more than a third of your gross income.

You can use an online mortgage calculator to estimate the cost of your monthly mortgage payment and use it to determine a price range when you start to shop for a home. Remember it is best to err on the low side and buy less home than you can afford rather than stretch to make the monthly mortgage payment.

Check Your Credit Score

Your credit score will help determine the interest rate you pay on your mortgage, or if you qualify for a mortgage at all. If you do not yet know your credit score, make it the next item on your home buying checklist.

Many credit card issuers now include credit scores on their monthly statements. If yours does not, just contact the credit reporting agencies to get a copy of your most recent score.

Research the Local Neighborhoods

You will probably be shopping in more than one neighborhood, so it is important to research the local area thoroughly. Look at things like school graduation rates, trends in violent and nonviolent crime and home values as you select neighborhoods and make your home shopping list.

You want to buy in an up-and-coming neighborhood and avoid declining areas. The more you know about which neighborhood is which the easier it will be to make a wise decision.

Find a Great Realtor®

Once you have all your ducks in a row and know how much you can afford to spend, it is time to start interviewing local real estate agents. You want an agent who knows the local area and has specific expertise in the type of home you have in mind.

Look for a Realtor® who holds all the required licenses and has attained the necessary accreditations. Once you have selected a great agent, you can get on with choosing the right home for yourself and your family.



Spring Cleaning Tips that Will Help You Sell Your Home

After a long, cold winter, springtime is back and bringing with it bright sun, breezy filled days, and a breath of fresh air. People feel energized and ready to tackle the tasks of cleaning and decluttering.

Spring is long considered the best time to sell a home, but before contacting your local real estate agent, you’ll want to ensure your home is squeaky clean. This goes beyond the general housecleaning chores—you’re going to want to do a deeper dive which is sure to make a huge difference to potential buyers.

Like the saying goes, “you never get a second chance to make a first impression,” and when it comes to your home, you’re going to want to “wow” potential buyers from the moment they arrive.

The outside of a home is just as important as the inside and oftentimes, buyers will have already formed an opinion before they’ve made it to the front door. Which is why landscaping, even if it’s minimal, of the front and back property should be on your to-do list.

Whether you’re looking to put your home on the market now, or just want to clean away winter’s mess, we’ve put together a list of tips to help you get started.

 

Outside Cleanup 

  • In order to prep your lawn for spring, you’ll first need to clean away all of the debris left behind from winter.
  • Planting new flowers and adding some potted plants will give the front of your home some curb appeal. Local nurseries and garden centers are a great place to find everything from flowers and shrubbery.
  • Ensure walkways remain clear and easy for visitors to navigate.
  • Replace or repair the mailbox – if it’s old or damaged it’s going to stand out. You can purchase a new one at your local hardware store.
  • Pressure wash the outside of the house. If you don’t own a power washer, you can either rent the machine or employ the services of a company to do the job for you.
  • Other areas such as windows, fences, pavers, and decks are usually in need of a good cleaning to wash away the winter grime.
  • Don’t neglect the gutters. If clogged, they can overflow and cause water damage not just to the exterior, but also to the interior as well.

Stage the Backyard

  • When cleaning out the yard, make sure to get rid of anything that is old or broken. Chances are when you move, it won’t be something you’re going to take with you, so now is the best time to dispose of anything unwanted or in poor condition.
  • Just like you’ve done in the front of your home, remove any dying plants and scatter a few flowers or pots around to give the area a pop of color.

Steam Clean Carpets

  • Floors often take a beating from the outside winter weather that’s tracked inside. If you have carpets, get them steam cleaned. If your home consists of hardwood, use a wood cleaner to bring back the shine. Same goes if your floors are tile or marble. If it’s not a job you want to personally take on, consider a professional cleaning service to get them in pristine condition.
  • Floors, walls, and ceilings are all areas potential buyers pay close attention to so it’s important they’re as clean as possible.

 

Let in the Light

  • Wash windows, inside and out, to ensure they sparkle.
  • Wipe down all blinds, clean curtains and drapery, and polish the mirrors.
  • Dust all light fixtures, especially ceiling fans which tend to collect a lot of dust, and replace any burnt out bulbs.
  • Any time you show your home, you’ll want to let in as much natural sunlight as possible. A room filled with light will feel warmer and more inviting.

Deep Clean Kitchen and Bathrooms

  • These are the biggest selling points in a home, so it is extremely important they are not only sparkling clean, but also presented in the best light.
  • Cabinets should be wiped down, countertops and appliances cleaned, drawers and cabinets organized, grout between the tiles cleaned, and if necessary, re-grouted.
  • Countertops, whether in the kitchen or bathroom, tend to become cluttered. Whatever’s out that doesn’t need to be, remove it. At some point you’ll need to pack it up so why not get a head start. Having less out allows potential buyers to visualize the space and imagine themselves in it.

Declutter & Organize

  • To ensure rooms look as open as possible, leave out only the essentials, everything else, box up. A home will look bigger when it’s not filled with stuff. Remember, the goal is to have a potential buyer envision themselves living in the home.
  • Keep closets organized as buyers tend to always peek inside.
  • Boxing up possessions that aren’t used on a daily basis will not only make it easier for you to do a deep cleaning, but you’ll also have a head start on packing.

 



What You Need to Know When Moving with a Pet

It’s finally here, moving day! Whether you’re heading into a new home or apartment, the excitement, and stress that comes along with the process is one that cannot be avoided.

Did you know that moving is consistently rated as one of life’s most stressful events? It ranks right up there with death of a loved one, divorce, job loss, etc. Even if your move is a happy one, it doesn’t lessen the stress that comes along with it. It is still a massive disruption of your routine, combined with all that is familiar to you. And no matter how well you plan, that feeling will not change.

Now, you’ve spent weeks (maybe even months) planning and packing, so when the actual day arrives, you’re bound to be in overdrive. Along with all of things you’re going to have to take into consideration, if you’re a pet owner, add another item to your pre-moving check list.

If you think the process is tough, imagine just how stressful it can be for your pet. Dogs especially can easily become stressed out when there is unexpected activity in the home, or even when introduced to a new environment.

Animals are creatures of habit, and for them, change, no matter how big or small we think it may be, can be both confusing and stressful.

So while you’re planning out the specifics for moving day, it’s important to also plan ahead for your pet. In order to ensure he or she is relaxed, and safe, on the big day, we’ve compiled a few top tips to help make the move a success for all members of your family.

Contact your vet

If you’re moving out of state, or out of the local area, contact your vet to obtain your pet’s medical records along with any current prescriptions. Part of relocating involves finding new doctors and that includes a new veterinarian. Ask your current vet if they can recommend a new doctor before beginning to do so on your own.

Plan Ahead

Prior to moving, it’s a good idea to visit your vet. According to Dr. Rachel Barrack, Founder of concierge veterinary practice Animal Acupuncture, you should make sure your pet is up to date on all vaccinations. If you’re traveling by air, Dr. Barrack stresses the importance of checking with the airline beforehand to confirm all necessary paperwork prior to the day of departure. If traveling by car, make sure your pet is used to their crate and plan ahead for bathroom and water breaks.

Pack An Accessible Bag for Your Pet

Included in your pet’s to-go bag should be a leash, bowls for food and water, food, medications, wee-wee pads or litter box, bed, and favorite toys so when you get into your new home you won’t be rummaging through boxes, Dr. Barrack points out.

Keep pets away from the action

One of the best ways to help your pet remain calm is to keep them in a quiet area although that might not be possible on moving day. You don’t want them getting underfoot or accidentally getting out. A good idea to consider is either boarding for a night or two or doggy daycare. If that’s an option you’d like to explore, Brooklyn is home to a variety of options. A few local places include:

  • Fido’s Retreat – With a large indoor campus and fun open space for dogs to run around, Fido’s Retreat offers a variety of services ranging from daycare, to boarding, along with a few additional options for pet parents to choose from. Whether you decide to board or have your pup stay for the day, there are enough activities to keep them playing for hours. 230 Livingston Street, (between Hoyt & Bond), Brooklyn, NY 11201
  • Monster Mutt – Located in the Cobble Hill section of Brooklyn, Monster Mutt has been providing love and care to dogs since 2001. As Brooklyn’s first doggy daycare, they offer a variety of services, which includes half or full days of daycare, along with overnight or longer term boarding. 297 Warren Street, Brooklyn, NY 11201
  • Woofs ’n Whiskers – A unique alternative to other boarding facilities, Woofs ’n Whiskers is the ultimate dog and cat retreat. Featuring over 7,000 square foot outdoor space for the pups or a luxury condo for your feline friend, the facility offers both daycare and overnight care. 14 Coles Street, Brooklyn, New York 11231
  • Animal Loving Care – Under the watch of 24/7 caretakers, your pup can spend the day, or night here at this bi-level facility. Offering both indoor, and outdoor space, your dog will have the opportunity to play, rest, and if you’d like, be groomed as well. Offering a variety of services, ALC staff cares for their furry guests as if he or she is their own. 556 Court Street, Brooklyn, NY 11231

Keep in mind, before your pet is able to board or spend the day in daycare, most animal facilities require the animals go through an evaluation to ensure they’re a fit, and to protect the safety of all the animals already at the facility. All vaccinations will need to be up to date as well so make sure to find out from your veterinarian which ones your pet will need. And lastly, some months may be more popular than others at the facility, so once you have your moving dates, call to reserve your pet’s spot.

Move the house before you move your pet

Set up as much of your new home as best you can before introducing your pet to his or her new digs. Let them slowly adjust to their new surroundings. Re-introduce familiar objects and make sure to give your pup lots of attention in the process. You can even walk them from room to room to take in the new scents they’re sure to pick up on.

Update information

Once you’re settled, make sure to update your new contact information. That includes notifying your vet, ordering new ID tags, and if your dog is microchipped, calling the company and ensuring they have all of the new and most current information.

Stick to a Schedule

Dr. Barrack stresses the importance of sticking to a schedule once the move is complete. Even though you’re in a new place, sticking to their usual eating, exercise, and sleeping schedule as best as possible will help to minimize the stress.

Most pets love predictability and routine, so a move can throw them into a tailspin. Change can be confusing and stressful so be mindful of their needs as you prepare your move.

And most importantly, Dr. Barrack stresses the importance of being patient. Once you arrive at your new home, it will often take even the most well-behaved pets a few days to adjust to their new surroundings.  Consult with your vet as well on the best ways in which to ensure a smooth transition.



New Year, New Home: Preparing to Buy in 2022

As we prepare to wrap up a record-breaking year for real estate, potential homebuyers are wondering if 2022 will bring more of the same.  Despite the fact there were sellers a bit apprehensive to make a move during the pandemic due to economic volatility, the real estate market in 2021 saw a record setting boom.

Sales were at an all-time high while mortgage rates were at an all-time low. The combination of the two created a favorable sellers’ market with tighter competition amongst buyers. With interest rates expected to remain low in the upcoming year, homebuyers looking to make a move in the coming months should start preparing sooner rather than later.

Being one step ahead of the competition is a good idea especially if inventory remains low. While the housing market may pick up with additional inventory right after the new year to satisfy buyer demand, there’s no guarantee.

One way to stay on top of the real estate market is to work closely with an agent. Buying a home is not as simple as we’d like it to be, but the process doesn’t have to be as stressful as you might believe it will be. While buying a home is no simple task, working with a real estate agent offers you overall support each step of the way. Their knowledge of the local market coupled with the skills to get you where you need to be will alleviate some of the stress that often comes along with buying a home.

Before starting the home search and teaming up with a local real estate agent, there are a few questions to ask yourself so that when you do find the right place to call home you’ll be ready to move forward.

Credit Score

Ask yourself, is my credit score in good shape? If it isn’t, take the necessary time needed to boost it up to where it should be before you begin applying for a mortgage. Your credit score is an important factor when it comes to obtaining a loan. Not only does it affect whether you’ll get approved, it also affects the rate at which you’ll qualify.

The higher the score, the more likely you are to get approved at a more favorable interest rate. There are different types of mortgages, each with their own credit score requirements. It’s a good idea to talk with a mortgage lender ahead of time to gather information on all of the various loan requirements. That way, once you obtain your credit score, you’ll know exactly where you stand.

Boost your credit

Once you obtain your credit score, there may be a chance you’ll need to boost it up. Make sure all bills are paid on time and if possible, pay down as much of your existing credit card debt (if not all) before starting the mortgage process.

If you plan to purchase a home in the near future, resist opening any new lines of credit as this will affect your credit score. While the discount many stores offer with the opening of a new credit card may sound enticing, resist the urge to apply. You may save a few dollars today, but long-term this can hurt you when applying for a mortgage.

And lastly, when looking over your credit report, check it carefully for any potential errors. If anything looks incorrect or even suspicious, you’ll want to correct and/or rectify it before starting the mortgage application process.

Save, save, save

With home prices being on the higher end of the spectrum, agents and their buyers are seeing sales for over asking price, whether it be the result of a bidding war or anxious buyers offering higher to secure an acceptance.

To remain in the game in such a competitive market, having a strong down payment shows a strong interest in the property and a commitment to get the deal done. While there isn’t a specific number required to put down, many times buyers hope a larger number will help them get their offer accepted over the competition.

Plenty of lenders will allow you to put down less but on a conventional mortgage you’ll be required to pay private mortgage insurance (PMI).  While mortgage insurance isn’t a bad thing, it’s an additional expense homebuyers tend to try and avoid especially with home prices being falling on the higher side. Why add to your monthly payment if you don’t have to?

Research different neighborhoods

Before heading out with an agent, conduct a bit of research on home prices in the different neighborhoods. This will give you a better idea of which areas are more feasible. Together with your real estate agent you can create a game plan and focus on the properties that fit within your budget. There’s nothing worse than falling in love with a home that exceeds your finances.



What to Expect in 2022’s Real Estate Market

At the beginning of every New Year, most people make resolutions that involve some form of change. Whether that be professionally or personally, it’s a chance to give ourselves a goal to start anew. 

 

For anyone who has had their sights set on jumping into the real estate market then you know how crazy it’s been these past two years as the pandemic turned the home buying process completely upside down. It may be a New Year but is it a new market? 

 

With mortgage rates hitting a historic low, coupled with an inventory shortage, the red-hot real estate market saw homes selling within hours of being listed, bidding wars ensuing, and sale prices closing over asking price.  

 

When it comes to the real estate market, we know anything is possible, but housing experts predict that in this New Year, buyers will likely see similar trends to the last two years which included elevated prices, low-inventory, and fast turnaround. 

 

Another contributing factor fueling home buyers were the extremely low interest rates which hovered near historic lows for an extended period of time, a result of the Federal Reserve buying mortgage backed securities to support the economy. But in 2022, the Fed plans to lessen those purchases to curb rising inflation. As a result, mortgage rates are expected to rise.

 

How much they will increase is not entirely clear, but economic predictions estimate the Fed may raise interest rates three times in 2022. This potential change will have an effect on the home buying process although the new policy isn’t likely to “hurt” buyers in the next few months. Regardless, it’s safe to say anyone looking to purchase are encouraged to act sooner rather than later.

 

While the buyers are out there, it’s the sellers who are slowing down a tad bit.  When the pandemic started, the demand increased and pushed the home prices to an all-time high. And although we have rounded the corner when it comes to the pandemic, the 2022 housing market will likely continue to be costly, with home prices and rents remaining on the higher end of the spectrum.

 

Along with the demand for homes comes an increase in demand for rentals, especially as we head into the first quarter of 2022. The previous discounts that landlords had been giving out during the height of COVID are practically gone. As these concessions disappear, many renters are finding it difficult to afford their current apartments and will have to move. 

 

As a result, there will be an increase in availability with inventory opening up. The demand for rentals in the neighborhoods chock-full of amenities will also be greater. The areas most desirable are the ones with shopping, restaurants, and nightlife, especially as these sectors have re-opened their doors and welcomed back their customers. For many people, these amenities are an important factor when it comes to deciding where to live. Being close to all of these things, as well as transportation, is a luxury many potential renters, and even buyers, seek out. Areas such as Dumbo, Fort Greene, Bushwick, Gowanus, and Red Hook, will be some of the more attractive places to live for these reasons. 

 

Finding a place to call home, whether buying or renting, is never as easy as we hope it will be. The real estate market will always go through highs and lows, and this upcoming year is no exception. Keeping that in mind, here are a few things to consider for anyone planning to make a move in 2022.

Prices will remain high 

According to economists at Realtor.com and Zillow, the competition isn’t likely to die down this year. Economic trends such as low inventory, elevated demand, and low mortgage rates will continue to give sellers leverage in the market.

 

Buyers will continue to see potential bidding wars, particularly when the market picks up in the spring and summer months. Although it’s hard to predict exactly what’s going to happen, Zillow predicts home values will rise by 11% in 2022. While not as high as in 2021, it’s still a substantial increase. 

 

Increase in interest rates 

With the likelihood of interest rates rising multiple times this coming year means mortgage rates are likely to increase as well.  Home experts predict a 30-year fixed mortgage rate will reach 3.60% by the end of 2022 compared to the average of 3.30% as of now. The upside to an increase in mortgage rates is that buyers scooping up property for investment purposes may lessen, giving the people who buy homes to live in more of an advantage. 

Inventory will remain low 

The number of homes actively for sale fell to a record low at the end of last year, and the etnrance of new listings has been slow moving into 2022. Spring has generally been the time when the market picks up and while there are likely to be more listings come spring and into summer, there may not be enough to meet the demand. It will continue to be a strong sellers market. 

Home buyers, be prepared 

With the way the market is trending, it’s important for buyers to be on their A-game. That means doing research ahead of time, having the proper documents readily on hand, and being ready to act quickly. That includes making an offer almost immediately. For some buyers, purchasing out- of-state has them relying on photos and showings being done via computer and over zoom.  

 

From the realtor side, agents not only have their eye out for new listings, but listings that are “coming soon” to the market. Knowing what a client wants and how much they’re willing to spend allows agents to hone in on the right properties. There’s no sense in taking potential buyers to properties that don’t meet their needs or are out of their price range when the market is this competitive.

 

And while the 2022 real-estate market may not reach the incredible heights it did in 2021, don’t expect it to slow down anytime soon. In the meantime, do what you need to be prepared for when the right home comes along and work closely with your real estate agent who can guide you through the entire process. 



What You Need to Know as a First-time Home Buyer

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Congratulations, you’ve made the decision to purchase your first home and it’s an exciting time. You’re about to embark on one of the biggest financial decisions you will make in your lifetime so it’s important you understand what it is you’re about to take on. 

 

Information is power and educating yourself on one of the most important purchases beforehand will give you a clear understanding of what you’re getting yourself into before you actually do. The home buying process has a language of its own and taking the time early on to understand will put you ahead of the game when you officially begin your search. Don’t wait until it’s time to sign the contract to educate yourself on the process. 

 

Even if you’ve purchased before, it’s still a good idea to re-educate yourself and discover any new changes that have taken place in the real estate market. It’s a lot to wrap your head around but if you know what to expect then it doesn’t have to be as scary as you may think. 

 

Before you begin the search, it’s a smart idea to start saving early. Having a strong down payment is important. Not only does it lessen the amount of the loan, in some instances, the stronger the down payment, the better your chances of your offer being accepted, especially in such a competitive market. 

 

It’s also a good idea to find out your credit score and clean it up if need be. Credit scores typically range from 300 to 850 and while you don’t need a perfect score to get the best mortgage rates, there are certain credit score requirements you will need to meet in order to obtain a mortgage.  

 

To qualify for the best interest rates, prospective home buyers should aim to have a score of 760 or greater. However, the minimum credit score requirements vary based on the type of loan you’re going for along with who is insuring the loan so speak to your loan officer to find out where you need to be in order to secure funding.

 

Along with putting money aside early and cleaning up your credit, there are additional things to keep in mind as you prepare to jump into the home buying market. 

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How much can you afford? – A common mistake potential buyers make is house-hunting before knowing how much they can actually afford. 

 

“First they should get pre-approved so they know what they can afford,” explains Barbara LaBarca, Director at Brooklyn MLS and Broker/Owner at Coldwell Banker LaBarca.

 

Obtaining a pre-approval ahead of time is essential to the process. Why? Because you need to know the maximum loan amount you qualify for. You don’t want to have your heart set on a house only to find out you’re unable to afford it. Knowing the maximum amount you can spend will allow your agent to search for the homes in your range and save your time from viewing the ones that aren’t.  

 

And second, without a pre-approval in hand, it’s difficult to make an offer. Most real estate agents will not accept an offer to purchase without an accompanying pre-approval, especially in this competitive market. You need to come in strong, and that includes providing the documentation needed to show you can back up the offer you’ve made. 

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Choosing the right realtor – Chemistry is key.  You’re going to spend a lot of time with your agent so you need to mesh. You’re about to embark on one of the biggest purchases of your life and you want to have a trusted real estate agent by your side. Your agent should be able to explain the ins and outs of the home-buying process, be familiar with the area(s) you’re looking to purchase in, as well as understand exactly what it is you’re looking for. Overall, they need to be immersed in the local market.

 

Referrals are a great way to find an agent. Ask around, talk to people you know who have already gone through the real estate process and ask them to give you an honest opinion on what their experience was like. 

 

And mostly importantly, you need to find an agent you can trust. Are they honest, and do they have your best interest at heart? It’s always a good idea to speak to at least three agents before choosing someone to work with. Once you find the right agent, remember to be honest and transparent about what it is you’re looking for so that from day one they can being finding you the right options.

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There is no perfect home – It’s your first home and you’ve more than likely dreamed about the ideal place to put down roots. You don’t want to settle but before you start looking, it’s a good idea to write down the things you want out of your new home. 

 

What are non-negotiables and what are the aspects you can compromise on? No home is perfect and going into your search understanding that will make things easier. 

 

Maybe the home you fall in love with isn’t in the specific neighborhood you had hoped to move to, or the home in your chosen area is a bit smaller than you originally planned. Knowing what your deal breakers are ahead of time will make it easier to accept that the home buying process, and the home you choose, may not be 100% perfect, and that’s ok. 

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Do your homework – Ask yourself, what type of home fits your needs, what are your homeowner goals, and what type of property will best fit your lifestyle. Once you have the answers, start reading up on the different neighborhoods, taxes, schools, local attractions. Anything that is going to impact your life in a direct way once you settle down in a specific home / area, should be a part of your overall search. 

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Understand the buying process – There are a lot of moving parts to the home buying process so having an understanding of each is important. Even before you start looking, you’ll want to familiarize yourself with the different financing options available. Being informed could help you save money on interest, fees, and even your down payment. 

 

Knowing the different types of loans available will prove helpful when you sit down with your lender. Along with the conventional mortgage most people know about, other types of loans include the FHA, VA, USDA, Jumbo, and Adjustable Rate Mortgage loans. Each one has its pros and cons, and while they may not be right for everyone, understanding what is available will be helpful to the process.

 

“Besides their mortgage payment, buyers should consider that they will need to pay bills like 

their water bill, electric, and gas,” explains LaBarca. “Taxes and insurance are included in the mortgage.”

 

Choosing the right loan officer is as important as choosing the right agent. After your offer has been accepted, they will become the person you talk to often as they guide you through the next phase of the home buying process.

 

Whether you are obtaining funding directly from your bank, or working with a mortgage broker who serves as the middleman between lenders and borrowers, they should be able to help you in understanding the loan best suited for you, along with providing you the guidance needed when the application process begins. 

 

After you find a home, there are multiple steps (i.e home inspection, appraisal) that need to be completed before moving forward. This is when having a knowledgeable real estate agent is important. They will be able to explain these processes and continue to put your best interest first while these next steps take place. 

 

Buying a home can be overwhelming with many first time buyers dropping out of the market because they believe it’s going to be too difficult. The process does have its challenges, but with the right team in place, it doesn’t have to be as stressful as you envision. Working with the right people and educating yourself right from the beginning can make all the difference. 



Why Hiring a Real Estate Agent is Important

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For both sellers and buyers, working with a real estate agent is beneficial for a multitude of reasons. Depending on what side of the transaction you’re on, the reasons why you should work with an agent will differ. What doesn’t change is the invaluable experience a good agent brings to the table. 

 

When it comes to selling, many people think they can save time and money by going at it alone, without a realtor. What’s interesting is that FSBO (For Sale By Owner) sales often are less than the homes sold by real estate agents. Granted, the homeowner saves on paying the realtor’s commission, but that comes with a cost (literally). 

 

Statistics show that only 11% of sellers actually succeed at selling on their own and for the ones that do, their sales are about 26% less on average than properties represented by an agent. 

 

A lot goes into selling a home that you may not even realize. There are many challenges and if you’re going at it on your own, navigating all of the moving parts can be difficult. 

 

Real estate agents do a lot more than just bring potential buyers. They know the in’s and out’s of both buying and selling and are invaluable for a multitude of reasons. Michele Haas, President of the Brooklyn Multiple Listing Service (MLS), points out the following ways in which real estate agents are instrumental in the overall process.

 

Agents have:

Extensive knowledge of the market

Professional networks

Negotiating skills

Understand required documents

Fiduciary responsibility

Can readily find and identify comparable sales

Can recognize possible issues with a property

Must live up to the standards required by their license 

 

Based on the above, we dive a bit deeper into just how working with an agent is beneficial. 

 

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Time Consuming – Selling your home is a full-time job. Between fielding calls and messages for showings, hosting an open house, advertising, and all of the other minutiae that comes with listing a home, it’s an agent’s job to make sure it is taken care of. 

 

Experience – Real estate agents are trained for the job. They’ve studied and taken exams to become an agent and continuously refresh that knowledge with continuing education classes. They know how to navigate the market better than someone who isn’t in the business and their knowledge and experience can be the difference in getting a home sold quickly. 

 

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Pricing Advice – Agents understand the real estate market – they know the value of homes, they know the areas, and how to compare properties, all of which factor into pricing a home correctly. While you may have a certain number in mind, the price may not be reasonable. That’s why having an agent to research the comparable sales can help confirm if you are in the right price range. They know where to look and have access to this type of invaluable information. 

 

What they don’t possess is an attachment. As a homeowner, you’re attached to your home in one way or another. Maybe it is your first home, or where you raised your children. Because of reasons like these, it can be difficult to be objective and for many homeowners, it’s not easy to separate the two. That’s why having a real estate agent is important as they can help you to focus on the bigger picture and not get caught up in the emotional side. 

 

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Professional Negotiators – As hard as it can be to price your home correctly when you have an attachment to it, so can negotiating its worth. Real estate agents are removed from all of that. Their main goal is to get your house sold and if negotiations are involved, they aren’t going to hold onto emotional ties that will prevent them from making a good deal. Being removed allows agents to give you better guidance and advice. 

 

When it comes to negotiating, attention to detail is key. Your real estate agent knows what details need to be written into the contract. There are numerous documents involved in the process and having an agent to help navigate all of the paperwork is important, especially when questions or concerns arise, they can advise. This invaluable knowledge is helpful regardless of whether you are the seller or buyer. 

 

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Fiduciary Responsibility – Agents have a fiduciary responsibility to their clients, they must put your best interest first. Whether they’re working on your behalf to sell your home, or help you purchase one, their loyalty remains with you. 

 

Network of Professionals – It takes a team of various professionals to get you to closing day. From home inspectors, to mortgage brokers, to attorneys, etc, a real estate agent has a trusted network of other professionals to help you every step of the way.  

 

If you are on the other side of the real estate process and are looking to purchase a home, working with an agent is just as important. Buying a home is one of the largest financial transactions you’ll ever make and you want to have an expert on your side. Real estate agents are tapped into their network and have access to various sites, like the MLS, to get the most up-to-date listings. 

 

Whether buying or selling, either side can benefit significantly from hiring a real estate agent. The reasons may be different but the end goal is relatively the same, to ensure as smooth and stress-free process as possible. 



The Most Common Questions You Should Be Asking Your Realtor Before Buying a Home

Whether this is your first, second, or maybe even third home purchase, each experience likely feels like the first. Regardless of how many times you’ve actually done it, the home buying process creates an array of feelings and emotions. 

 

From excited to scared and everything in-between, buying can be intimidating. That’s why it’s important you’re working with the right realtor who will be able to guide you through each step of the way. 

 

The home buying process really begins before you even step foot into a home, and continues all the way up until the day of closing. There are numerous steps you’ll take with each stage which in turn creates a whole new set of questions. Keep in mind, nothing you ask is silly, if you are unsure about anything, speak up. 

 

Buying a home is one of the largest purchases you’ll make in your life which is why it is important to feel as comfortable, and informed as possible. Part of your real estate agent’s job is to help make the experience as stress-free as they can.

 

We know things can get overwhelming with all of the information you need to know beforehand, so to help alleviate some of it, we’ve put together a list of common questions buyers ask to help you navigate the process a bit easier. 

 

What’s the first step of the home-buying process?

Before you even get started in your search, it is important to have your mortgage pre-approval. Some agents will not begin working with potential clients if they don’t have an approval in hand. 

 

Why is this piece of paper so important? Because it tells you, and your agent, just how much you can afford. There is no reason to look at properties that you are unable to afford. It’s not fair to you, your agent, or the seller, to waste time looking at properties out of your price range. Knowing how much money a lender will approve for a loan is an important first step. 

 

How long does it take to buy a home? 

Unfortunately, there is no definitive answer as this timeline varies greatly from person to person. On average, it can take anywhere from a few weeks to several months to find a home. It also depends on the timing, as well as the circumstances. Do you need to move ASAP, or is this your first home? 

 

Once you find your home, it usually takes an additional 30-45 days to close after you’re in contract. Keep in mind this timeline can change for a variety of reasons. 

 

How much do I have to pay my real estate agent to help me find a home?

Great news–nothing! The seller pays the realtor fee/commission on their end. 

 

How much money do I need for a down payment?

The more you put down upfront, the less you will have to borrow from a lender. Generally, 20% of the purchase price is an ideal number for a few reasons. First, it lowers the monthly mortgage payments, avoids paying private mortgage insurance commonly referred to as PMI, improves the nature of your offer, and can help you lock in a better interest rate. 

 

That’s not to say you must put down 20%. The minimum amount depends on the type of loan you are obtaining to finance the purchase. Lower down payment loans, like an FHA loan, requiring a minimum down payment of 3.5%, were designed to make homeownership possible for first-time buyers. 

 

When it comes to the different types of loans available, this is where your mortgage broker steps in. It’s a conversation you should have even before the actual house hunting process begins. Knowing how much you can afford and the type of loans available are all part of the initial conversation you should be having when obtaining your pre-approval.

 

What additional fees are there besides the down payment?

Additional costs include the loan origination fee, which is not a single fee, but a set of lender-specific fees that are part of closing costs, as well as the closing cost itself. These are the fees paid at time of closing to complete the purchase. They may include the survey, underwriting fees, title search fees, documentation fees, legal fees, pre-paid property taxes, HOA, etc. Your mortgage broker will review these with you. While you do have these additional expenses, the down payment is usually the largest cost associated with buying a home. 

 

Do I really need to work with a real estate agent when buying?

It is strongly recommended that you work with an agent for many reasons. First, they have your best interest. Their goal is to help find you a home that fits your needs, and they will advocate on your behalf when needed. Real estate agents are skilled negotiators, and have access to a network of different people you will need throughout the process. Plus, it doesn’t cost anything to work with one.  

 

Can you recommend…..?

Whether you’re in need of a mortgage broker, appraiser, lawyer, moving company, or any other type of professional service associated with the home buying process, your real estate agent should be able to offer some recommendations. Mostly all real estate agents have a network of people they trust to provide the best possible service to their clients. 

 

While every home is different, the steps, especially in the early stages of purchasing, are generally similar. The same holds true for the questions you are more than likely to have. Remember, don’t be afraid to ask, it is part of an agent’s job to provide you with the information needed in order to make the most informed decision. 



The Power of Community

As humans, we naturally are drawn to other people who share similar interests. When we talk about community, we focus on a common thread used to bring people together to advocate and support one another. In its simplest form, a community is a group of people with something in common. 

 

That sense of belonging that comes along with being a part of a community gives people a supportive group to help them cope with difficult challenges, brings them together to solve problems, as well as celebrate life’s lighter moments. 

 

Whether it be through a physical group where members meet up on a regular basis, or via a virtual space like social media groups, connecting with your community is important, especially when you are new to the neighborhood.

 

Finding common connections with your new surroundings is beneficial to homeowners in a variety of ways. If the area is one that is completely new for you, finding organizations or groups  within your neighborhood will allow for the opportunity to learn all about your new surroundings. 

 

Whether that entails discovering local businesses to shop at, linking up with volunteer based organizations, joining a club. or discovering some of the history behind your town, creating these types of  relationships with other people helps foster a sense of belonging. 

 

One way to get involved is to check out the social events your local neighborhood has planned. Oftentimes seasonal events are organized for residents to get involved and enjoy some local hometown fun. Two upcoming fall events here in Brooklyn –  Blocktoberfest 2022 hosted by the NY Brewers Guild on Satruday, October 1st, at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. The annual fall festival celebrates beer brewed here in NYC.

 

Two weeks later, on Saturday October 15th, there is a Fall Festival taking place at Atlantic Terminal Mall with a host of fun activities for children and families. 

 

 A strong sense of community has also been shown to have positive effects on both mental and physical health. Connecting with your community helps prevent isolation and teaches people how to be more empathetic towards one another.

 

Curious to learn more on how being connected to your surroundings is important to your overall well-being? We’re sharing a few of the ways in which community enriches people’s lives for the better.

 

Community Enhances Your Sense of Belonging

A sense of belonging is one of the most significant needs that humans have. It is what draws us together with other like-minded individuals who we can turn to for friendship and support. It is here where we discover common ground with those around us. When people find themselves as the “new guy in town,” it helps to get to know your neighbors. Lifelong friendships have been made between people who met by chance due to geographic location. 

 

Community Encourages Social Support

Being part of a community enables us to show support to others. If you look within your neighborhood, you’re likely to find organizations that were created for the sole purpose of helping out the community. 

 

In Brooklyn, The Kiwanis Club of Brooklyn is dedicated to helping local children and families through a variety of wonderful programs. Being a part of such an organization means you’re making a difference in the lives of others while helping to build a better community.  

 

Community Reduces Anxiety and Depression

When people feel connected to a part of something bigger, it gives them a sense of purpose and need. Being able to help others, whether it be a nieghbor, or an organization, creates a feeling of accomplishment, and a sense of pride knowing that you have made a difference, no matter how large or small, in someone’s life. Providing support to others will in turn make others aid you in your time of need. 

 

Community Builds Trust 

When we build a strong sense of community, we’re also building trust with people who are not  in our immediate circle. Connecting in a community allows you to step outside your comfort zone. 

 

Oftentimes, when new to an area, it can be difficult to find some of the things we take for granted in more familiar surroundings. Doctors, childcare, petcare, repairmen, you name it, we all have questions when we move to a new location. 

 

Social media is a great resource for connecting with people within your local area. If you search platforms like Facebook, you can find private groups geared towards your particular area. Instagram is another great resource to search for groups. Join and follow the ones you find valuable to obtain a wealth of information. 

 

A great example on Facebook is the public group entitled, Brooklyn Food, dedicated to highlighting all things food related. On Instagram, check out Brooklyn Magazine, a page dedicated to all things for the borough. Whether you pose questions, or take notes on suggestions from other members, you are bound to find some true gems.

 

Social media has proven to be a valuable tool when it comes to connecting to your community. The internet is a great tool when it comes to finding local events and activities taking place in your neighborhood. Brooklyn residents can always check out the website, Happening Next, as well as Patch, to find out what is happening within the borough. 

 

Community Provides Opportunites for Businesses 

When people have a strong sense of community, they want to see their neighborood and its people flourish and one way in which to ensure that is by supporting local businesses. Whether it’s through online communities, or word of mouth, community’s assistance helps business owners interact with customers and gain valuable feedback.

 

There are many reasons why connecting with your community is important, finding a sense of belonging and purpose is truly at the heart of it all. Overall, it enhances our quality of life as well as enhancing our hometown.  

 



Flipping Houses 101

We’ve all seen the home renovation shows on networks like HGTV and thought to ourselves, that might be a good idea. The transformation of a house in shambles to a beautiful dream home is enough to make anyone consider the possibility. Granted some of the shows are geared towards personal home renovations, while others are renovating with the intent to flip. 

 

If you’re new to the process, house flipping entails purchasing a real estate property, updating it to add value, and then selling it for a profit.  Most home flips involve buying property at a less than average price, (either a fixer-upper or in foreclosure), rehabbing the property, and selling it for more than invested. 

 

Shows like the Property Brothers, Flip or Flop, and Christina on the Coast, to name just a few, give the illusion that the process of flipping a home can be fairly simple – all you have to do is just buy a house, make a few cosmetic changes, and sell the property for a good profit. Unfortunately it’s not as easy breezy as television portrays. 

 

What isn’t visible in that one hour is all of the behind the scenes happenings that get you to the finish line. Anyone who has ever had some type of home renovation done, knows it is not a quick and seamless process, there are always bumps along the way. 

 

Ask anyone who has flipped a home and they will tell you the truth – the process isn’t as fun or as profitable as you see on screen. Television has the power to glamorize and home flips are no exception. 

 

Flipping homes can be a lucrative way to earn good money in real estate but in order to be successful, you’ll need to be armed with a lot of knowledge, planning, patience, time, energy, and good judgement.  

 

It’s important to not only understand the process but also the basics of what flipping a home entails. Most people find themselves juggling both their day job and home renovation which can be extremely time consuming, not to mention super stressful. 

 

Before diving into your first home flip, there’s a lot to know and educating yourself is important. There are countless books and sites filled with information to help guide you in the process. We’ve broken down some of the basics:. 

How to Get Started 

 

First step is to develop a plan for your flip. What is your budget, how much do you want to spend on the purchase, and how much will be needed towards the renovations? When thinking about cost, keep in mind they include contractors and specialists along with the materials needed. 

You’ll want to have a team in place to help you get started before the home search gets under way. Ensuring the people you want to work with are available and align with your budget before making a purchase is important. 

 

The last thing you want is to find out after closing is that the cost of contractors is higher than expected, or availability is months away. A renovation takes time and the last thing you want to do is delay it even further because you didn’t assemble a team beforehand. Remember, time is of the essence. Every day you own the property it is costing you money.

 

Finding the Right House 

When it comes time to find the home, there are a few different ways to go about your search. Consider working with a real estate agent, especially if you’re unfamiliar with the area. A good agent can provide insight into the market and possibly help you sell the home once the renovations are complete.  

 

You want to find a home in a desirable location or one that is growing and promises a high resale value. 

 

If you have the ability to pay cash, auctions are another place to look for good opportunities for a discounted price. Just keep in mind they can carry some risk so before going this route, read and understand exactly how they work. 

 

Secure Financing 

In the world of real estate, cash is king. An all cash deal means that by the time of closing, the buyer will have unconditional liquid assets sufficient to pay all of the costs associated with the purchase, including the sales price and closing costs. If you ask any seller they’ll tell you they prefer this method of getting paid over an offer from a buyer who needs to secure funding in order to purchase. 

 

If you don’t have the funds to purchase outright, you’ll need to secure financing. There are different types of loans to explore which is why speaking to a mortgage broker ahead of time is a smart idea. If you have bad credit, options may be limited. If your credit is low, consider raising your score before starting the home search. 

 

Legal Representation 

Whether the deal is all cash or financed, there is always a lot of paperwork involved. It is important to seek out legal advice and have a real estate attorney look over all of the documents. Their job is to provide you with the best possible legal advice and will ensure all of the necessary steps are taken prior to closing. 

 

The Bottom Line

At the end of the day, the most important piece of advice is be prepared. Seek out the help of experienced professionals and ensure you have a great team in place to help you achieve success. 

 

Flipping homes can be a lucrative business and with the knowledge, skills, and motivation necessary it is possible to become successful. 



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