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 

Stage the Backyard

Steam Clean Carpets

 

Let in the Light

Deep Clean Kitchen and Bathrooms

Declutter & Organize

 

 

Whether you’re buying or selling, it’s always a good idea to ask your potential real estate agent a couple of questions first before deciding who is the best person to help you with your real estate needs.

 

As 2021 is underway, many people are thinking about their next move. For almost a year, they’ve been working from home, and as of now, they continue to do so. And as we move forward in coming out on the other side of this pandemic, there will likely be changes in where people ultimately decide to reside due to both their interests and needs.

 

While some people attempt to tackle real estate on their own, it’s best to leave things in the hands of a professional. Not only are licensed agents experienced, they know the market and will work hard for their clients.

 

In seeking out an agent, you’ll want to join forces with someone who is trustworthy and transparent. A good listener is another important quality in an agent. Whether you’re buying or selling, having someone who will listen to your wants, needs, and concerns, plays a big part in the overall process.

 

And it is a process that often takes time, which is another reason why it’s key to connect on both a professional as well as personal level. Working with an agent is like entering into a relationship; true partnership works both ways. You want to not only feel comfortable in being able to express your thoughts freely, you also want to feel heard.

 

Regardless of the side of the table you’re on, the whole real estate process can be overwhelming at times; having a real estate agent who can shoulder some of that stress is priceless.

Each agent has their own working style, their own personality. No two are the same and what it ultimately comes down to is finding the “right fit.”  You want to feel confident when you’re signing a contract; choosing the right agent will make a world of difference in your overall experience. To help you get started, we’re compiled a few basic questions to ask potential real estate agent.

 

  1. How Will You Market My Home?

As a seller, one of the reasons for hiring a real estate agent is to retain their marketing expertise. The various marketing tools agents employ aides in gaining the most exposure with prospective buyers as well as real estates agents within the area. Inquire as to what successful sales strategies they employ. Will they help prepare your space for the best possible photos and will those be professionally taken? Do they utilize social media marketing and if so, in what way? The market is a competitive one and it’s important to know just how the agent plans to make you’re home stand out amongst the rest.

 

  1. How Much is the Commission Fee?

When selling your home, it’s important to know before signing a contract exactly what percentage fee the real estate broker charges. The commission fee total is dependent upon the final sale which is taken out at closing. Keep in mind that different real estate agencies may charge a different percentage and the lowest fee does not always mean its the right choice.

 

If you are on the buying side, it’s also a good idea to know how this works. We know agents don’t work for free so understanding where their commission comes from is always helpful.

 

  1. What precautions are you taking during COVID?

Regardless of whether you’re selling or buying, you want to know what safety precautions are being taken during this time. For sellers, the thought of people coming in and out of your home can be stressful, so knowing ahead of time how an agent plans to ensure your safety is important.

 

The same goes for perspective buyers. Entering into another person’s home and potentially coming in contact with multiple individuals can be a bit unsettling for some people; knowing ahead of time the safety measures that have been put in place can ease your mind,

 

  1. What percentage of your clients are buyers? How many are sellers?

Whether buying or selling, it’s a good idea to find someone who has experience in the particular process you’re currently pursuing. Agents who work with both offer an additional value. Not only can they help in finding you a new home while trying to sell your current residence, they can provide you valuable assistance when transitioning from one place to another.

 

  1. How quickly can you help me view a home?

In popular areas, homes can fly off the market as fast as they’re listed. When you see homes you love, how quickly will the agent be able to accommodate your request? What is their schedule like and does it align with yours? Are they available to work with you full time, or only part-time? Make sure the real restate agent can accommodate your day to day needs and that your overall timeline aligns with their availability to help you get there.

 

  1. How many clients are you currently working with?

You want to be sure your agent isn’t overwhelmed and he/she has the time to dedicate to providing you the time needed. For example, if you’re selling, will your agent be available on weekends to host an open house? On the buying side, what is their availability when it comes to going out to look at homes?

 

  1. In what way will you keep in touch with me and how often can I expect updates?

Whether it’s a phone call, email, or text, make sure the agent is comfortable using the communication tool that works best for you. When it comes to signing documents, do they utilize electronic signing to make the process quicker? Time is always of the essence especially in a hot real estate market. You should also make your expectations on updates clear. Buyers and sellers often become frustrated when their agent doesn’t communicate with them as often as they’d like.

 

  1. Do they offer a recommended vendor list?

One of the many challenges in buying or selling, is knowing who you can trust for help. From lenders, to inspectors, to lawyers, a good agent has a strong network of professionals that can help you. Keep in mind that while an agent can offer suggestions, they are not requirements. Buyers and sellers have the right to choose whomever they want to work with.

 

  1. What questions do you have for me?

A good agent will ask you questions as well. They should inquire as to what your real estate goals are and be able to repeat them back to you along with an explanation as to how they’re going to help you achieve them. You want to work with an agent who understands your needs and will take all of your requests seriously.

 

Referrals are always a good starting point when looking to hire a real estate agent but in the end you must feel comfortable with whomever you choose. There is no magic number of questions to ask nor are there any right or wrong ones.  What it eventually comes down to is chemistry and connection, trusting your gut will be the deciding factor in choosing a real estate agent.

 

If there is one thing, we can all agree on is, this year has been like no other. Throughout almost all of 2020, things have looked a bit different and this holiday season is no exception.

 

As we brace for a potential second wave of COVID-19 shutdowns here in New York City, independent businesses, along with the local eateries, have shifted the way in which they operate. They have faced profound challenges throughout the year and have all had to creatively come up with different strategies to stay afloat.

 

Operating a lot differently than they’re used to has been tough, especially during the holiday season. With so much uncertainty looming ahead, it is extremely important to continue supporting the people and places we enjoy frequenting year-round.

 

Along with making customers happy, the locally owned businesses play a huge role in the economy as well as the community, moving both forward in a positive way. The success of one local business can have a trickle effect – if a business is doing well, they’ll need to hire additional staff or employees, and in turn, will look towards the community to fill those roles.

 

When shopping local, over 65 percent more of the dollar stays right in the local community compared to shopping online. Supporting these types of businesses helps keep stores open and their employees employed. Another reason why it’s important to support our local “neighbors.”

 

As we focus in on the good we can do as a community, we can support our local shops, even if it’s in a slightly different way then we’re used to. If you’re wondering how, consider some of the following ideas:

 

 

As we are days away from the holiday, there is still time to grab those last-minute gifts. Brooklyn neighborhoods are bustling with local shops and we’re sharing just a small sample of what the borough has to offer:

 

In addition to grabbing gifts (or even something for yourself) from these and other independent shops, remember to also check out your local eateries. Whether you’re looking for a meal for two, catering for a bit more guests, in search of some delicious desserts, coffees, or teas, check out some of these local spots:

 

As we close out a year that has been difficult for so many people, remember we can help make a difference by choosing small businesses.

After almost three months of sheltering in place, many people have had quite a few realizations about their lives and what’s most important to them. Certain aspects that were once high on the priority list are no longer the case, and things that were at one time “a must have” are being replaced by different wants. COVID-19 brought about an unexpected clarity and many people are now jumping into one of life’s biggest changes and moving out of larger cities to settle down in more suburban areas. The pandemic and the thought of what life will be like post-COVID has finally convinced city dwellers to give up on big-city living.

 

The reasons for moving vary; some people are looking to be closer to family, others are in search of more space, and for some, it’s more of a necessity due to the high cost of city living. Some moves have been temporary but it seems as if those short-term stays are becoming more permanent.

 

Now, in the wake of the pandemic, nearly one-third of Americans are considering the move to less populated areas. Crowded cities are no longer as appealing as they once were and living amongst millions of people in such close quarters no longer offers the same romanticism it might have even a year ago.

 

Gone are the days of squeezing into packed elevators, crowded subways, cramming into small neighborhood bars and restaurants, or even the bustle of walking closely next to each other down the street. In today’s era of social distancing, the ways of city living that residents took as “normal” will likely never be normal again.

The things that originally attracted residents to “city life” are currently unavailable and even as they start to reopen, people are still hesitant. They want to stay away from confined spaces and refrain from sharing common areas and amenities in order to continue social distancing.

 

Not being able to access those luxuries that once were attractive brought about a clarity and changed people’s perspective on where they want to live. For some, the allure of the trendier neighborhoods is waning. Instead of stepping out onto a small balcony for a breath of fresh air, they’d much rather step into a more spacious backyard, especially as family and friends these days find gathering at home a much more viable choice.

 

Another big change has been for the employees working from home, many whom have never experienced remote working up until now. Instead of working out of a cramped, small space, if you’re not required to be on premise in the foreseeable future, why not seek out a home that offers enough square footage to potentially create your own separate home office? That appears to be the question many work from home employees are asking themselves right now.

 

These past few months have shown many companies that employees can indeed work successfully off-site. If remote working becomes the “new norm,” then the desire to live close to the office will no longer factor into one’s decision on where best to reside.

 

And while many residents are packing up and heading out of the city, that doesn’t mean one has to completely leave the state (unless that is you want to). There are many surrounding areas outside of the larger cities that offer more spacious living without having to completely forfeit some of the comforts you’re used to and still hope to one day enjoy.

 

What’s unique about Brooklyn is the fact that in addition to the neighborhoods that give off that “city” living vibe, areas like Dumbo, Williamsburg, and Cobble Hill, there are also neighborhoods such as Bay Ridge, Bensonhurst, Bath Beach, Windsor Terrace, and Dyker Heights, which offer residents an environment that is more residential. With both one and two-family homes on the market, potential buyers have the option of purchasing a home that will allow for family members to move in for that additional rental income.

 

Without moving too far, residents of Brooklyn who do not want to leave the borough but want the luxuries that come with owning a home can find the best of both worlds here. At times, certain areas may have been overlooked for the trendier neighborhoods, but with people looking for larger living space that is no longer the case.

 

Sadly, COVID-19 has instilled in people a sense of dread when it comes to being close to others, and with the uncertainty of what the future holds, along with the changes cities are experiencing, residents are making the conscious choice to head out and purchase now when interest rates are low.

Technology has impacted as well as revolutionized the way in which we do business. Not only has it changed what we do and how we do it, it has brought about new and exciting ways for just about every industry, and real estate is no exception.

 

These days, no matter where you are, the majority of people you encounter can be seen with their heads down, looking at their smartphone or some other type of device. That’s because technology has given us access to information right at our fingertips and made it simple to perform just about every necessary task right online. From paying bills, shopping for clothes, food, even a home, it’s as easy as the click of a button.

 

Generally speaking, people spend about 7.6 hours online, with 1% of the time being spent browsing. Whether it’s surfing social media, checking email, watching videos, teaching yourself how to do something with the help of sites like Youtube, shopping online, or reading up on the latest news, a person’s attention is digitally focused.

 

When it comes to real estate, technology has proven to be a powerful tool for the industry. Brokers and agents continue to perform the most essential functions of the business, but with the help of technology, it has made certain areas faster, smoother, and much easier to navigate.

 

In essence, it’s changing the way in which real estate professionals do their job, to a degree. People still want a human connection with expertise in the field and that is something that will not change. The expert advice and knowledge provided cannot be replaced, only enhanced, by the use of technology.

 

With the use of the Internet, it has reshaped the way in which real estate is delivered to the consumer. Between the numerous websites, professional photography, and now virtual property tours, buying and selling a home looks a lot different than it did even 10+ years ago. These days, home buyers are tech-savvy and well-informed, they know exactly what they want, making it the job of the professional, regardless of the sector, to help deliver.

 

 

A few of the most obvious ways in which technology has been impacting the real estate sector include:

 

Transparency

Many websites that provide information to the consumer are free, allowing for the opportunity to educate oneself even before the process begins. These sites provide tools such as data, inventory, availability, and pricing for a potential buyer to browse through. Sly Symons, founder of the Syms company said it best, “An educated consumer is our best consumer.”

 

Marketing

With the aid of technology, marketing just about any type of product has become instantaneous. Broadcasting messages over multiple platforms allows professionals to reach a much wider audience than before. The visibility is not only easier to achieve but more cost-effective. With the use of technology, getting your product out to the marketplace can happen in mere seconds. The easier the platform to navigate, the quicker homes can be listed, which in turn allows potential homebuyers to find what they’re looking for faster. The end result is greater market activity and a pleasant experience for everyone involved.

 

Real-time data

Previously, much of the research and data comprised was focused on what happened in the past as opposed to what was happening in the current marketplace. With the use of technology, outdated data is no longer the case. Now, it’s never been easier to find out information such as pricing and availability in real-time.

 

Virtual Reality

One of the most important steps in the home buying process is the visual inspection of the property, both inside and out, along with the surrounding area. With the use of drone video, it’s possible to not only see the complete exterior of a home but the surrounding neighborhoods as well. Virtual reality (VR) is a relatively newer form of technology used in the real estate industry although there are agents who have already implemented it into their business.

 

Up until now, VR has been a great tool for buyers looking to relocate further away from their current location as well as for people who may be unable to view a property, such as an open house. But now, with the current climate of our country, the chances of VR being used to sell homes is even greater.

 

As we continue to move forward, virtual touring of a home right from a device will allow faster access to a property and the opportunity to narrow down selections. Instead of multiple in-person visits, clients can now scan through places without having to physically be there, making it possible to view numerous homes in a day and make decisions sooner than before.

 

Rich Schulhoff, CEO of the Brooklyn MLS, has also noticed an uptick in the number of listings being posted, which in turn results in using virtual tours. “People are also getting more creative with virtual tours,” says Schulhoff.

 

Social Media

The power of social media is strong and can be felt over a multitude of sectors. The days of buyers opening up a newspaper to look for a home or flipping through a phonebook for a sales agent are long gone. Instead, social media has become the place to go when it comes to finding just about anything you want, including a home, and are a great way for real estate professionals to grow their business. The ability to connect with others is instantaneous; whether it’s connecting with existing clients, potential new ones, or others in the industry, social media sites have made it possible to do so and are important tools to have in your real estate toolbox.

 

Facebook – With more than 2 billion users, creating a Facebook page can help attract an audience on a much larger scale than any marketing plan of yesterday could possibly ever do. Facebook posts should focus on both business and the consumer. Along with sharing your listings, share information that is focused on the home as well as the process. Everything from mortgages to DIY tips for decorating is helpful knowledge to an owner or a potential buyer. Share information on your borough or city; establishing yourself as a thought leader in your community is helpful in attracting new clients and followers.

 

Instagram – More than 700 million users can be found on this social media platform, making it another great resource for real estate professionals. Posting photos of available properties can help generate leads as well as showcase listings to available buyers. Another excellent way to engage potential buyers is by sharing short video clips of your listings. In addition, content you’ve published elsewhere can also be shared by providing a direct link in your bio. This is another great way to direct followers to any additional social media accounts you may have.

 

While there are a multitude of social media platforms and technologies available to real estate professionals, it’s important to remember that the tools are only effective if they are used correctly and consistently.

 

As technology continuously changes and reshapes the way in which we live, it’s imperative that businesses follow suit. Customers will find new and exciting ways to use it, that’s why it’s imperative to stay ahead of the curve in such a competitive market. If everyone else is moving forward and your business remains the same, then you’re actually falling behind. Change can be scary but embracing it will help take your business to new heights.

Since its inception in the late 1700s, women have been a part of the real estate industry, but it wasn’t until the 1840s that it was established as a legitimate business. In those early years, a woman’s role was much different than it is today; her duties consisted of filling office and clerical roles while her male counterparts were out selling. Fast forward 40 years later and women began moving, albeit slowly, into the roles of agents or brokers.

 

According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), approximately 67% of all certified realtors are women. But that wasn’t always the case, especially during the first few decades of NAR’s existence. Founded in 1908, membership was 100% male but by 1910, the organization saw its first woman member, Corrine Simpson. Soon after others began to follow in her footsteps although they were still in the minority during the first few decades. One of the reasons for the low numbers was due to NAR’s membership being restricted to brokers only, while women, at that time were primarily sales agents.

 

It wasn’t until 1973, when NAR opened up their membership to include sales agents, that those numbers rose and continued to steadily increase. By 1978, the majority of NAR members were women and in 1996, four years after the organization saw its first female president, did women represent the majority of broker licenses for the first time.

 

The real estate industry itself has transformed substantially, and each year the percentage of women continues to grow, bringing with them innovation and change. While women are leading the charge when it comes to the residential real estate market, commercial real estate, an area that has long had a history of being dominated by men is still lagging behind. While top-level positions have been maintained by men, improvements are being made to change those statistics thanks to initiatives in place to help address disproportions and develop women’s leadership skills.

 

Katherine Pontone, a Board Member of Brooklyn MLS, has been in the business since 1982 and can attest to the indifferences that existed between women and men. “In the past, the women took a back seat, they weren’t leaders,” says Pontone. “As time progressed, women became more vocal and present; instead of being agents, women are becoming brokers and business owners.”

 

Well respected in her field, Pontone has held multiple leadership roles throughout her years in the business, but admits, it was rare to see that happen early on. “I was fortunate,” she says.

Life as a real estate agent offers excellent earning potential and one of the most flexible schedules. It has long been an option for women looking to earn additional income, pursue a change in career, as well as work in a field where they can set their own hours.

 

When it comes to successful women in real estate, Barbara Corcoran, Founder of The Corcoran Group and currently one of the Shark’s on ABC’s “Shark Tank,” and Dottie Herman, CEO of Douglas Elliman, one of the nation’s oldest and largest real estate brokerage firms, have made an indelible mark on the industry. Both Corcoran and Herman have proven just how successful women can be in a field that was at one time male-dominated.

 

When Corcoran first started her brokerage firm in 1973, the real estate business was still a “man’s world,” but that fact didn’t hold her back. Building The Corcoran Group from the ground up, she grew her business into a billion-dollar enterprise, and in 2001 sold it for $66 million dollars.

 

Herman, recognized by Forbes magazine as one of “America’s Richest Self-Made Women” has created her own success and laid down the road map for other aspiring businesswomen to follow.

 

As women continue to dominate the industry, Barbara LaBarca, Chairwoman of Brooklyn MLS, has seen a growth in the percentage of women in real estate over the last 15 years. “It has gone from a male-focused world to the majority now being women,” says LaBarca. “Here on the Brooklyn MLS board, the past two presidents have been women, one including myself.”

 

These days, more and more women are working together to empower, encourage, and support one another as they continue to move the needle forward in the real estate industry. With March being Woman’s History Month, it’s only fitting that we continue to support, and celebrate, the many accomplishments of our fellow females everywhere.

With a new decade under way, the Brooklyn real estate market continues to remain strong. New York City as a whole is one of the hottest housing markets in the United States and from the way the New Year is shaping up, there are no signs of a decline in the borough.

A look at the statistics for both single and multi-family homes, in both price and days on market (DOM), has remained steady. The fact that it has held strong is another indicator of the Brooklyn market’s strength. The bottom line, the borough is booming and people are continuing to put down roots. Not only is it the most populous of the five boroughs in NYC, it is the second largest in size, with an estimated population of 2.6 million people.

Rich Schulhoff, CEO of the Brooklyn MLS, believes that one of the borough’s appeals is the fact that not only is it accessible to Manhattan, it is a great community to raise a family. “It is still a borough of neighborhoods,” says Schulhoff. “And I think that is the difference.”

Within Brooklyn there are many well-known neighborhoods which have gone through a revitalization or gentrification at some point over the years.  With the ever-changing times the process of change and growth promises to continue.

According to Schulhoff, a telltale sign of growth is due in part to new developments opening up within an area. “I’ve always found that when you see businesses, especially restaurants, opening up in areas that have been somewhat neglected, you know the next step is going to be people moving in and communities changing.”

 

One neighborhood in particular Schulhoff predicts is on the verge of exploding in the form of growth and development is East New York. This diverse and growing neighborhood is located in northeast Brooklyn and was once deemed “Little Pittsburgh” due to its many industrial businesses in the early twentieth century.

Settled by Dutch colonists in the 1650’s, East New York was originally founded as the town of New Lots. Unable to find room to farm in the area known as Flatbush, they came here to settle the new lots, hence the origin of the name. Streets such as Van Siclen Avenue and Wyckoff Street were named after farmers and still exist today.

Due to rezoning in 2016, East New York, a neighborhood that has not been as sought after a location as others, we will see many changes over the coming years, which all begins now. The development of affordable housing, new retail shops, community facilities, and a public plaza, will help to invigorate the economy by providing a home for new businesses along with helping families to grow and prosper.

As the neighborhood begins its transformation, some local spots to check out include:

Maxwell’s Bakery – Serving the community since 1928, the bakery was originally known as “Essential Cheesecake” during World War II but changed names in a bid to secure a contract to provide baked goods to the troops stationed at Fort Hamilton. 2700 Atlantic Avenue, Brooklyn NY  11207

Highland Park – Created in 1901, this park offers stunning views of Ridgewood Reservoir, the Rockaways, and the Atlantic Ocean. A popular spot amongst residents, the park plays an important role in the community. Designated BBQ areas make it a perfect spot for a picnic with family or friends, and for those looking for some athletic recreation, there are tennis courts, baseball fields, and handball and basketball courts. Cypress Hills Street, Brooklyn NY 11207

 Shirley Chisholm State Park – The park was named after Brooklyn-born pioneer Shirley Chisholm, the first African American Congressman as well as the first woman and African American to run for President. Resting atop the former Pennsylvania and Fountain Avenue landfills, it offers views of landmarks like the Empire State building, Verrazano Bridge, New York harbor, and Jamaica Bay. One section of the park opened up last year, with the expansion set to open up in 2021.

 

In addition to East New York, two additional neighborhoods where continued growth is projected is Greenpoint, which lies right next door to the popular Williamsburg, and Coney Island, a neighborhood that has long been synonymous with Brooklyn.

No longer just Williamsburg’s “neighbor,” Greenpoint is a destination that attracts residents due in part to its close proximity to Manhattan and more affordable housing than some of the surrounding areas.

What was once a quaint countryside is now a bustling community. Like most of the borough, the area was originally farmland and as time progressed, became a popular spot for families and workers to reside because of the abundance of factory jobs. A working class and immigrant neighborhood, it’s not uncommon now to find three generations of families living in the community.

Along with a number of great places to frequent, Greenpoint is also a popular location for both TV and film. Several shows like “Blue Bloods” house their permanent soundstages in the neighborhood’s industrial area between Greenpoint Avenue and Norman Boulevard. Other shows like, “Rescue Me,” “Boardwalk Empire,” and a scene from a music video featuring rapper Jay-Z and basketball legend Lebron James are just a few of the projects filmed here.

When looking for places to go, Greenpoint has no shortage of restaurants, trendy hotels, and watering holes to grab a drink or two. Check out some of the following:

Alameda – This beautiful neighborhood bistro has been serving up delish seasonal new American fare along with classic and modern cocktails since 2013. – 195 Franklin Street, Brooklyn NY 11222

Paulie Gee’s – This cozy pizzeria serves up some of the best pizza, soups, salads, and of course dessert. If you’re looking to grab a quick slice, you can visit their slice shop for takeout or delivery. – 60 Greenpoint Avenue (dine-in only) / 110 Franklin Street (slice shop) Brooklyn NY  11222

The Diamond – One of the few bars in Brooklyn where you can play shuffleboard, video games, grab a bite and a drink, all while keeping it causal and magical. 43 Franklin Street, Brooklyn NY 11222

Sunshine Laundromat and Pinball – Have you ever seen a laundromat that offers up pinball machines and beer? Who says doing laundry can’t be fun! 860 Manhattan Avenue, Brooklyn NY 11222

Henry Norman Hotel – Right in the heart of everything, visitors can stay at this distinct hotel offering unique loft style suites that were once home to a 19th century textile warehouse.

 

A “go-to” neighborhood for a long time, Coney Island continues to attract visitors, especially during warmer weather. During the mid-19th century, the neighborhood was a popular seaside resort town, and on busy summer days drew in millions of people between the beaches and amusement parks.

In 1916, an entrepreneur named Nathan Handwerker took advantage of the increased number of visitors and began selling hotdogs at Coney Island for a nickel each, eventually expanding his business into the world famous Nathan’s Hot Dog chain.

Today, the presence of casual new restaurants and development of hi-rise buildings are all signs Schulhoff says of more people coming into the neighborhood.

A few “staples” to check out the next time you’re in Coney Island include:

Coney Island Cyclones game at MCU park – What better way to watch a baseball game then with a view of the water. 1904 Surf Avenue, Brooklyn NY 11224

Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog eating contestHeld annually on the Fourth of July at Nathan’s world-famous establishment. 1320 Surf Avenue, Brooklyn NY 11224

Mermaid Parade – Since 1983, this annual event, invented by artists, showcases over 3,000 creative individuals from the five borough and beyond. Starts at West 21st & Surf Avenue

Luna ParkHome of the world famous cyclone, one of the oldest wooden rollercoasters still in operation. Making its debut in June of 1927, this all-time American classic ride is not for the faint of heart. Additional rides, shops, games, and dining make this amusement park the place to be. 100 Surf Avenue, Brooklyn NY 11224

Totonno’s Pizzeria Napolitano -For the past 93 years, Totonno’s has been serving the Coney Island community. Recognized as the best pizza in New York City, this neighborhood staple went through a “rebirth” after Hurricane Sandy. 1524 Neptune Avenue, Brooklyn NY 11224

Rubys Bar & Grill – Family owned and operated since 1972, Ruby’s is the oldest bar and grill on the boardwalk, and the only place where you can still walk under the original boardwalk. No visit to Coney Island is complete without a stop at this nostalgic establishment. 1213 Riegelmann Boardwalk, Brooklyn NY 11224

Margarita Island – Open all year round, this indoor/outdoor hot spot features live music, DJ, and a place to catch the latest game on TV. During the summer grab a drink at the outdoor Tiki Bar. 1105 Bowery Street, Brooklyn NY 11224

As neighborhoods such as these, as well as others, continue to prosper, Brooklyn remains a place where people want to live and the demand for property holds strong.

It’s the year of the White Metal Rat and beginning January 25th, the people of the culture, and others as well, will take part in celebrations for Chinese New Year (often referred to as Lunar New Year globally).

“The Lunar New Year means new beginnings, incoming good luck, and wiping away any ill fortune and bad luck from the prior year,” says Delton Cheng, Board of Director for Brooklyn MLS.

This time of celebration includes dinners, dragon and lion dances, lantern festivals, firecrackers, and lucky red envelopes (hongbaos) filled with cash. The dragons are a symbol of China’s culture and believed to bring good luck, therefore, the longer the dragon is in the dance, the more luck it brings to the community.

Cheng, who was born and raised in Flatbush, recalls New Year’s celebrations filled with fireworks, all types of Chinese candies, and the elders giving out the “good luck money” to unmarried young ones. Homes were also decorated with plum blossom and pussy willows as they are the most sought after flowers of this season.

“It’s all about gathering with family and enjoying a reunion dinner, the most important meal of the year,” says Cheng.

These festivities take place throughout the various Chinatown communities within NYC, including Sunset Park, the largest Chinatown in Brooklyn (and all of New York).

 

 

In research conducted back in 2017, it was shown that New York City is home to the largest Chinese-American population with over half a million people. In the city of Brooklyn alone, not only can Chinatown communities be found in Sunset Park, the next biggest areas are located in Bensonhurst and Sheepshead Bay (Avenue U), along with smaller, yet burgeoning communities within Bay Ridge, Borough Park, Coney Island, Dyker Heights, Gravesend, and Marine Park.

Dating back to the earlier part of the 20th century, Sunset Park, which got its name from the park itself, was then known as “Little Norway” due to the influx of Norwegian immigrants who comprised most of the neighborhood.

But by the 1950s things had changed; the people were moving out and the area increasingly turning sparse. It wasn’t until the 1980s, when Chinese immigrants started to settle into Sunset Park that one of the city’s most vibrant and thriving Chinatowns began to develop.

A few years later, the first Chinese-American grocery store, Winley Supermarket, laid down roots on the corner of 8th Avenue and 56th Street (34 years later they’re still serving the people of Brooklyn). While many storefronts remained abandoned, more and more immigrants began moving into the area, escaping the higher cost of rent in Manhattan’s Chinatown for the one that was beginning to grow right here in Brooklyn.

Fast forward to 2020 and the neighborhood has become one of the city’s most diverse, and “coolest” areas.  Along with beautiful brownstones are the breathtaking views of downtown Manhattan, downtown Brooklyn, Staten Island, and even some parts of New Jersey.

The community has seen a transformation since those earlier days when 8th Avenue was lined almost entirely with empty stores. Now, the main drag, which runs from 49th to 60th Street, is the heart of Brooklyn’s energetic Chinatown, having transformed the area into a bustling destination. It’s here you’ll find open air markets, selling things like fresh Chinese vegetables and seafood, a variety of specialty Asian foods and ingredients, especially at the Fei Long supermarket (which also has a food court on the third floor, offering a selection of nine different stalls serving up distinctly different styles of Chinese cuisine), along with numerous Chinese, Vietnamese, and Malaysian restaurants.

And while the community is consistently lively, things are about to kick into high gear as residents of Sunset Park prepare for one of their biggest and most anticipated events, the Brooklyn Chinese-American Association’s Lunar New Year Parade which will take place on Sunday, January 26th. The parade will begin at 50th Street and 8th Avenue with performances starting around 11am, although it’s a good idea to arrive earlier to ensure a good spot along the parade’s route.

Established in 1988, the “joyous celebration held on a dreary street brought together people of diverse ethnic backgrounds and successfully marked a turning point for Sunset Park,” according to the BAC’s website.

 

In addition, Brooklyn is also home to some of the best Chinese cuisine. With the New Year right around the corner, there is no reason why you will need to go any further then Brooklyn in search of excellent eats!

Mister Hotpot – One of the tastiest spots for Hong Kong-style hot pot, diners can dip a variety of meat, vegetables, and noodles into a bubbling broth (think fondue). Along with the food, you’ll also find pop music pumping throughout this trendy hot-spot. (5306 8th Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11220).

Grand Sichuan House – It’s been called the best in Bay Ridge, serving up authentic spicy Chinese food.  This traditional Sichuan- style cuisine offers up choices like Dan Dan noodles, soup dumplings, and cumin flavored beef, to name just a few. (8701 5th Avenue, Brooklyn, NY  11209).

Lucky 8 – This Cantonese style cooking focuses on both fresh meats and seafood, some of which you can see swimming in the restaurant’s tanks. Caught live and cooked on the spot, diners can choose from numerous types of fish. Whether you’re looking to take out or dine- in, it’s a great spot to enjoy the Chinese New Year. (5204 8th Avenue, Brooklyn, NY  11220)

Park Asia – Offering both dim sum and traditional Cantonese dishes, the restaurant offers diners two floors of beautiful dining space, making it a great location for events as well. (6521 Eighth Avenue, Brooklyn, NY  11220)

East Harbor Seafood Palace – Although this dining spot is located in Brooklyn, you’ll feel like you’re eating in a Manhattan hot-spot when you sit down at this wildly popular and always crowded Chinese restaurant. Offering a huge selection of classic dim sum dishes, diners will also find an extensive menu to choose from. (714 65th Street, Brooklyn, NY 11220)

Buntopia – If it’s low calories dishes you’re looking for, look no further than this vegan friendly sushi spot serving up fusion and healthy cuisine for everyone.  (994 Broadway, Brooklyn, NY  11221)

Kathy’s Dumplings – Whether you choose to dine in or take out, it’s here you’ll find both a variety of dumplings and a modern interpretation of classic Chinese dishes.  (7924 3rd Avenue, Brooklyn, NY  11209)

Joe’s Bakery – If you’re looking to get your dum sum fix on, this Chinese style bakery is the perfect choice. (8517 18th Avenue, Brooklyn, NY  11224)

As Brooklynites and the neighboring boroughs come out to enjoy and embrace the beauty of the culture, Cheng is proud, and thrilled to see the Chinese community flourishing in New York City. “Home ownership is the American dream and with support and contributions of Brooklyn MLS, the growing Chinese and Asian community here in Brooklyn can obtain that dream!”

 

What was once an isolated, rural summer resort town in the late 19th century, Bay Ridge, formerly known back then as “Yellow Hook,” is a neighborhood that continues to exude a small-town feel while still being part of a much larger city.

With an overall estimated population of 2.6 million, approximately 87,000 are residents of Bay Ridge, an area that is bounded by Sunset Park on the north, Dyker Heights on the east, the Narrows and Belt Parkway on the west, and Fort Hamilton Army Terminal and the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, visible from almost everywhere in this neighborhood on the south.

Renamed in 1853 to avoid any negative connotations with what was an outbreak of yellow fever, wealthy residents were drawn to the area’s natural beauty and built country homes along Shore Road, overlooking the water. Today, luxurious homes line this waterfront stretch between 80th and 83rd Street.

Bay Ridge is home to a mixture of co-ops, condos, and rentals, but is well-known for its single and multi-family homes. As a result of neighborhoods located closer to Manhattan (i.e. Williamsburg, Greenpoint, Bed-Stuy) becoming almost as expensive as the city itself, residents have been traveling a bit more south to look at property in Bay Ridge.

“Brooklyn residential real estate continues to evolve as we see the popularity of neighborhoods change each year,” says Rich Schulhoff, CEO of Brooklyn MLS.

Although the commute to Manhattan is a bit longer, potential home buyers who want to reside in Brooklyn are finding a substantial savings over the other areas, making Bay Ridge a bit more affordable.

Named in 2010 as the 12th most livable neighborhood in NYC by New York Magazine, what sets Bay Ridge apart from some of the other areas in the borough is not only more affordable prices, but the chance to be a part of a close-knit community.

Interesting fact – Almost 100 community organizations exist in Bay Ridge

Between Fourth and Fifth avenues is “Doctors’ Row,” the neighborhood’s first historic district consisting of 54 row houses on Bay Ridge Parkway. Dating back to the mid-20th century, doctors moved to the block and practiced medicine in their basements. Many long standing Brooklynites can recall traveling to the area when they were younger for a doctor visit.

Today, “Doctors’ Row” continues to be a hub for medical professionals, maintaining that long-standing tradition occupying the area.

The neighborhood’s main drag runs along 86th Street where shoppers can find both big chain stores like Century 21, TJ Maxx, and the Gap, along with smaller mom-and-pop shops.

 

When it comes to dining out, you can find just about anything you want in Bay Ridge as the borough has some of the best restaurants and bars. With so many options to choose from, you’ll never be at a loss on where to go. Some must-have spots include:

Gino’s – The Italian eatery first opened in 1964 and has been a staple amongst the locals ever since. (7414 Fifth Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11209)

Tuscany Grill – Serving contemporary Tuscan food, this cozy Italian restaurant serves up a comfortable vibe. (8620 3rd Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11209)

Tanoreen – Considered by many to be the best Middle Eastern eatery in the city, patrons will find a blend of classic Palestinian and Middle Eastern home-style cooking. (7523 3rd Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11209)

Elia – When you step inside you’ll feel as if you’ve been transported to a Greek village tavern, serving up some of the finest Greek dishes with the chef’s modern day interpretations. (8611 3rd Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11209)

Positano – This upbeat Italian restaurant features an outdoor dining area, perfect for when the weather is warmer. (10018 4th Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11209)

BaciAuthentic Italian cuisine with a classic modern twist in the heart of Bay Ridge. (8424 Third Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11209)

Ponte Vecchio A staple in Bay Ridge for over 35 years, this authentic Italian restaurant offers a large variety of options for even the pickiest of eaters. (8810 4th Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11209)

Paneantico – This bakery cafe has been serving family inspired recipes from Italy for the past 20 years. Along with a selection of pastries and desserts, breads, and coffee, diners can enjoy breakfast, lunch and dinner options as well. (9124 3rd Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11209)

Vesuvio Restaurant & Pizzeria – Established in 1953, this family-owned restaurant in the heart of Bay Ridge serves up Neapolitan home-style cooking. They also have a private party room and specialize in off-site catering.

 

Whether you’re looking to grab a sweet treat after dinner, or something to bring to family and friends, the following spots are a must if you’re in the neighborhood:

Little Cupcake Bake Shop – A neighborhood staple, the bakery specializes in wholesome traditional American desserts, and uses only the freshest, sustainable ingredients, which are locally sourced and made on-site every day. The “Brooklyn Blackout Cake” has been hailed by Food and Wine as the “Best Chocolate Cake in America.” (9102 Third Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11209)

Mike’s Donuts & Coffee – Serving Bay Ridge for over 30 years, this neighborhood staple is a family affair. With around 35 different kinds of donuts, baked fresh twice a day on premise, customers can grab a cup of coffee and a real “New York tasting donut.”

 

Along with excellent food, Bay Ridge is widely known for their bars, with over 40 different watering holes to choose from. Some of the popular spots include:

The Pour House – A bar with a real neighborhood vibe, patrons can choose from a variety of different beers and whisky while catching up with friends or making new ones. (7901 Third Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11209)

The Wicked Monk – An authentic Irish pub, offering live music on the weekends. Once you walk through the door, you’ll immediately feel as if you’ve been transported back to a Gothic Irish Monastery. (9510 Third Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11209)

Lock Yard – The 1300 square foot heated beer garden is the perfect spot to hang out with friends. (9221 5th Avenue, Brooklyn, NY  11209)

The Kettle Black -Serving up some of the best wings in town, Kettle Black was named by Food and Wine magazine as “One of The Top 5 Wing Joints in America.” (8622 3rd Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11209)

Salty Dog – This renovated fire station is a popular neighborhood hangout. You’ll find a vintage firetruck displayed inside this full service bar and restaurant. (7509 3rd Avenue, Brooklyn, NY11209)

The Owl’s Head – Named after a local park, this intimate bar offers up a curated wine and beer list along with small bites. (479 74th Street, Brooklyn, NY 11209)

 

When it comes to finding things to do in Bay Ridge, any one of these options is a great choice to explore:

Owls Head Park – Bay Ridge’s version of a mini Prospect Park, Owl’s Head is a great spot for a picnic or BBQ with family and friends. Dog owners can also bring their four-legged friend for a run in the dog park.

69th Street Pier, aka American Veteran’s Memorial Pier – This spot is a fisherman’s delight and the benches that line the pier are make it a great location to watch the sun set.

John Paul Jones Park, aka “Cannonball Park” – A landmark dedicated to Revolutionary War patriot John Paul Jones, the park received its nickname from the 58-ton Civil War Cannon that’s on display.

The Belt Parkway Promenade – The area measures approximately 4.5 miles along the Belt Parkway from 69th Street pier to Bensonhurst Park. The paths are wide enough for a bike ride, a run, or even a nice long walk. Along the way you can see Manhattan, the Statue of Liberty, and some of the most beautiful sunsets.

 

Bay Ridge still remains home to many lifelong residents who have grown up in this “small-town” neighborhood along with attracting a new generation of homebuyers looking to plant roots in the borough.

The Red Hook Grain Terminal in the Red Hook neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York.

What was once one of the busiest and most important shipping town’s in all of New York, Red Hook has gone through many changes since first being discovered.

Founded in 1635 by the Dutch, the waterfront  community was given the name Roode Hoek because of the color of the soil and the shape of the landmass. But even before the Dutch established this Brooklyn neighborhood, it was populated with the Lenape people, the original native New Yorker’s who lived along the marshy waterfront.

It is also a neighborhood steeped in history. The Battle of Brooklyn took place here in 1776 during the American Revolution, and many years later, this tough section of Brooklyn was the place where legendary mobster Al Capone got his start as a criminal.

As the years have progressed, this once battered section of Brooklyn has begun to see new life while still holding on to some of that “old world charm.”

Rich Schulhoff, CEO of the Brooklyn MLS, points out the beauty this waterfront neighborhood offers residents and tourists alike.

“Red Hook has great, close-up views of the Statue of Liberty and Brooklyn’s west coast,” says Schulhoff.

Coupled with these fabulous views of New York City are cobblestone streets, vacant warehouses which have become sought after locations for up-and-coming artists, and a flourishing hot spot for millennials and hipsters alike.

“It’s a neighborhood that also survived the likes of Hurricane Sandy,” Schulhoff points out.

While Red Hook remains a quiet neighborhood, it is also a neighborhood that’s growing, and this hidden treasure may not stay hidden for long. It still holds that industrial feel, but is now home to some of the top names in the industry (IKEA, Fairway) along with cafes, restaurants, and places of interest that are making Red Hook a sought after destination.

 

For foodies in search of a great meal, Red Hook offers up an array of choices. Next time you’re in the neighborhood check out some of the following:

Fort DefianceThis charming downtown restaurant serves up breakfast, lunch, and dinner along with weekend brunch and great cocktails daily. (365 Van Brunt Street, Brooklyn NY 1123

Hometown Bar-B-Que – Specializing in authentic pit-smoked meats. (454 Van Brunt Street, Brooklyn, NY 11231)

The Good Fork – A cozy restaurant / bar serving seasonal New American fare. Run by a husband and wife team, The Good Fork is a true neighborhood mom and pop establishment. (391 Van Brunt Street, Brooklyn, NY 11231)

Red Hook Lobster Pound – A restaurant that promises it’s customer the best crustacean in the nation, its here you can experience delicious lobster rolls along with other kinds of seafood strait from the coast of Maine. The menu also includes non-seafood options as well. (284 Van Brunt Street, Brooklyn, NY 11231)

Brooklyn Crab – Built on two decks overlooking the New York Harbor, this famous Brooklyn crab shack offers the freshest seafood, a variety of cocktails, and games, making it the perfect spot to eat and hang out. (24 Reed Street, Brooklyn, NY  11231)

Defontes Sandwich Shop – A true old-school Italian sandwich shop tucked away in the sleepy back-end of Red Hook, Defontes has been serving large Italian heroes to residents and tourists alike since 1922. (379 Columbia Street, Brooklyn, NY 11231)

 

We can’t forget dessert! These locations in Red Hook offer some of the best:

Steve’s Authentic Key Lime Pie – Steve’s Authentic has the best, fresh squeezed key lime pie this side of Florida. (185 Van Dyke Street, Brooklyn, NY 11231)

Ample Hills Brooklyn Ice cream Company – The ice cream company consists of a factory, museum, and store. Not only can you get ice cream, this location allows customers to see how it’s made, and the interactive free museum includes a 22-foot wide map of Brooklyn, and a model trolley car to a climb through tunnel and flavor smell station, all while learning the story behind Ample Hills. (421 Van Brunt Street, Brooklyn, NY  11231)

Baked This bakery and cafe is not only home to the most delicious cookies and other sweet treats, but they also offer a savory breakfast and lunch. (359 van Brunt Street, Brooklyn, NY 11231)

Cacao Prieto – From beans to bar, the chocolate bars and cacao based rums and liquors are made fresh daily using the finest organic cacao beans, straight from founder and owner Daniel Prieto Preston’s family’s farm. (218 Conover Street, Brooklyn NY 11231)

Raaka Chocolate – Raaka offers delicious chocolate made from scratch as well as classes and tours which are available several times a week. (64 Seabring Street, Brooklyn NY 11231)

 

If it’s a a cocktail you’re looking for, these neighborhood spots are a great place to meet up with friends:

Brooklyn Ice House – Here you’ll find an extensive beer selection (there’s over 50 different ones to choose from) along with a complete bar menu and a big backyard, fire pit and all, to hang out with friends. (318 Van Brunt Street, Brooklyn, NY 11231)

Sunny’s Bar – Operating since the 1890’s, this neighborhood relic once catered to the shipbuilders who worked nearby. These days, this family-owned business offers live music and drinks making any night here a good night to meet up with friends. (253 Conover Street, Brooklyn, NY 11231)

Rocky’s Sullivan’s – An Irish Pub offering live music and entertainment daily, including pub quiz on Thursday nights. The laid back atmosphere leaves patrons feeling right at home. (42 Beard Street, Brooklyn, NY  11231)

Red Hook Tavern – The classic American fare menu pays homage to the time honored old school taverns of New York City. (329 Van Brunt Street, Brooklyn, NY  11231)

Looking for something fun to do? Check out the following:

Red Hook Winery – Highlighting the best vineyards in New York State, Red Hook Winery produces all of it’s wine on site and offers daily tastings at The Tasting Room. (175 van Dyke Street Pier 41, Brooklyn, NY 11231)

Van Brunt Stillhouse – Producing farmhouse style whisky since 2012, the local distillery includes a tasting room and offers tours of the whisky making process. (6 Bay Street, Brooklyn, NY 11231)

Widow Jane Distillery Founded in 2012, this local whisky distillery is owned and housed inside Cacao Preito. Open seven days a week, private tours are available weekdays by appointment and weekends are open to the public.

Valentino Pier – A reminder of the shipping industry that once was, the Valentino Pier offers magnificent views and the best photo opportunities of the Statue of Liberty and New York Harbor. (Coffey Street & Ferris Street, Brooklyn, NY 11231)

Waterfront Museum and Showboat Barge – The historic vessel serves as a museum and performance space. Visitors can immerse themselves in the history of Red Hook as well as partake in scheduled events and activities. (290 Conover Street, Brooklyn, NY  11231)

 

Despite the fact that the neighborhood remains surrounded by water and not that easily accessible by public transportation, it remains a neighborhood rich in history and a deep sense of community. Ask anyone who lives here and they will tell you, there is no place like Red Hook.

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