Looking to Buy or Sell? Five Reasons Why Working with a Real Estate Agent is Important.

Regardless of whether you’re buying or selling your home, it is a major financial and emotional undertaking. In this day and age where social media and the Internet are part of our everyday lives, some people think the services of a professional real estate agent aren’t necessary because it’s a job they can take on themselves. But ask yourself this question, if you aren’t familiar with preparing a tax return would you chance filing your own taxes, or would you turn to an accountant for help?

Buying and selling is a time consuming and often stressful experience but working with a professional real estate agent can help alleviate some of the pressure and serve you in the long run. Navigating a real estate transaction, regardless of whether you are buying or selling can be tricky so having someone with experience besides you every step of the way is invaluable.

If you’re still thinking of flying solo, consider some of these important reasons why working with an agent can save you time and money in the long run.

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A few members of the Madison Estates team!

Better Access

Real estate agents have complete access to the MLS (Multiple Listing Service) database and regardless of which side of the sale you’re on this tool is your friend. If you’re selling your home a listing in the MLS will increase exposure of your house, opening it up to agents all across the area. If you’re trying to sell your home on your own this opportunity won’t be available to you.

If you’re on the buying side, your agent will be able to access listings that fit your search criteria, saving valuable time in looking at ones that don’t meet your requirements.

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Office Location: 2922 Avenue R, Marine Park

Real estate agents are also plugged into a network of other agents and through word of mouth can either share your listing or learn about homes for sale. When working on your own, your reach might not be as wide as theirs.

The Art of Negotiation

Negotiating is not for everyone so another benefit to hiring a real estate agent is that they’ll do it for you. Plus, an agent can take the emotional aspect out of the sale and provide objective advice on different aspects of the process.

Regardless of whether you’re buying or selling, your real estate agent is working in your best interest to negotiate the best deal possible. If you’re going at it alone and think the listing agent will be helpful if you should need assistance think again, they’re working in their client’s best interest and cannot provide you with that same loyalty.

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Creative Commons

Knowledge and Information

Whether you have questions about a particular neighborhood, comparable sales in the area, mortgage brokers, inspectors, lawyers, etc., real estate agents either have the answers or can point you in the right direction to find them. Because they work closely with many different people connected to the real estate process, there’s no need to worry if you don’t know any professionals in the field, they already do.

Price Guidance

Real estate agents are familiar with the current market climate and can ensure your home is priced right. While they cannot select prices for sellers to list at or buyers to offer, they can guide you in your choices. As a seller, your goal is to sell quickly and at the highest price. Homes that

are on the market too long are often reduced in price and can leave potential buyers wondering if there’s something wrong and they may not be willing to meet your asking price. As a buyer, the number you choose to offer is ultimately your decision but any good real estate agent will help guide you when it comes to determining an offer that will get you a great deal without turning off a seller. While nobody wants to overspend, having a realtor working for you will help in any back and forth counter negotiations.

Paperwork

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Office Location: 53 Douglass Street, Brownstone Brooklyn

With the sale or purchase of a home comes a volume of paperwork that will need to be filled out along the way, with some of these documents easier to complete than others. Working with an agent takes away the guesswork; they deal with the same contracts and conditions on a regular basis. Navigating a real estate sale or purchase can be tricky so it’s smarter to leave the work to a professional.

Although you might think doing this on your own can save you money, it might actually cost you more in the end, especially if you’re buying or selling a property for the first time. At Madison Estates we’re here to help guide you with all of your real estate needs.

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What Every First Time Home Buyer Should Know

A home is one of the biggest purchases you can make and if you’re about to venture into the world of real estate as a first time home buyer it can be a bit nerve-racking, to say the least.  What should be an exciting time can often be overshadowed by the multiple steps that are part of the home buying process and the unfamiliar lingo you’ll hear daily before you even turn that key in your new front door. It might sound stressful, and honestly a little scary, but it doesn’t have to be if you educate yourself and find a realtor who will guide you through the entire process.

Since it’s a lot to take in we’ve listed some first-time home buyer tips to get you thinking even before you begin looking at homes with your real estate agent.

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  1. Start saving early

If you can, start saving for your first home sooner rather than later. Saving more money now means having more for a down payment, which in turn lowers your monthly mortgage payment. While most homebuyers aim to put down 20%, it’s not required when buying a home. You will, however, incur PMI (private mortgage insurance), an additional cost added to your monthly mortgage payment.  Down payment calculator is a good way to figure out how much money you’ll need to put down based on various percentages. Just plug in the amount you are looking to spend, the amount of money you have or the percentage you want to put down, and it will calculate the rest for you.

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  1. How much can you afford

It’s important to know just how much you can afford to spend. This will allow your real estate agent to target a certain price range when searching the MLS (Multiple Listing Services) system. A home affordability calculator can help you determine that amount.

  1. Budget for closing costs and additional expenses

Once you know how much you can afford, keep in mind there are additional expenses, such as closing costs which vary state by state. For instance, in NYC you can anticipate closing costs somewhere in the range of 4 to 5% of your loan amount. Each homebuyer’s situation is different so it’s best to talk with a mortgage specialist early on.

Another good idea is to set aside some money for after you move in. You might need to purchase furniture, appliances, or do some work on your new home. As a homeowner, it’s safe to say unexpected expenses will arise when you least expect them.

  1. Check your credit score

Understand the importance of a high credit score; this is a major factor when applying for a mortgage.  It also determines approval, interest rate, and possible terms of the loan. If your score is on the lower side, work on getting it raised. Focus on paying off any outstanding debt(s) and stay away from opening up any new credit accounts or making large purchases. If your credit needs a bit more help, there are companies who can assist, for a fee, in repairing and raising your credit score.

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  1. Explore down payment options

A variety of first-time home buyer programs are available both through federal and state programs. Loans such as Federal Housing Administration (FHA) and Veteran Affairs (VA) loans are available for those who qualify. If you have less than perfect credit, a small amount of money saved, and do not qualify for a conventional mortgage, you might be eligible for the FHA loan. An FHA loan does require mortgage insurance which stays for the life of the loan, unlike a conventional mortgage which can be canceled after your loan is paid down to 80% or more of the appraised value of the home. Educate yourself on the pros and cons of an FHA loan.

A VA loan is available for qualified U.S. veterans, active military personnel, and certain surviving spouses. There are many benefits to this type of loan and one to look into if you meet the requirements.

  1. Pre-Approval

As you start the home buying process, a pre-approval letter will confirm in writing how much a lender is willing to lend you and at what terms. This letter shows both your real estate agent and the seller that you are a serious buyer, and in some cases will give you the upper hand over a potential buyer who has not taken this step. It’s also necessary to have when you’re ready to put in that offer.

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  1. Hire the right buyer’s agent

Now that you have everything in place and you’re ready to buy your home, it’s time to find a highly skilled, and motived agent who is both knowledgeable about the area you are looking to move in to, as well as the home buying process. Here at Madison Estates, we provide both the information and guidance you’ll need when purchasing your home along with saving you time. With access to one of the largest data basis in New York, we not only find you your dream home we will be there to advise you every step of the way.

Luxurious Living in Brooklyn Heights

In the stunning suburb that lies a subway stop away from Manhattan, Brooklyn Heights is a neighborhood rich in history, legacy, and culture. It is one of the most desirable residential locations offering an abundance of things to see and do.

In addition to the numerous locally owned restaurants and shops, the famous Brooklyn Heights promenade puts you face to face with beautiful, unobstructed views. Whether you want a glimpse of downtown Manhattan which is directly across the east river, Governors Island and the Statue of Liberty to your left, or the Brooklyn Bridge and Manhattan to your right, it is the perfect place to take in these iconic sights.

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And along with the glorious, centuries-old brownstones found along tree-lined streets, there are historic landmarks, like the Brooklyn Historical Society, that lend to the old world charm this neighborhood has sustained throughout the years. There’s even a website that gives you a step-by-step guide to exploring the neighborhood on foot.

“The Heights” has also become a popular place to put down roots and for someone looking for luxurious condominium living there is no better place than the development known as 70 Henry Street [named after its location]. The gorgeous building is the brainchild of Mettle Property Group, Madison Estates’ sister company, and their partner JMH Development.

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Located in the heart of Brooklyn Heights, the building was once home to the former Brooklyn Heights Cinema, New York City’s oldest independently owned cinema on the corner of Henry and Orange Street.

A magnificent structure originally built in 1835, it housed a variety of businesses before becoming a movie theatre in 1970. Now, with the original façade still intact as represented by the exterior of the first two floors, it boasts a five-story residence ranging from 1500 square feet to 3500 square feet per condo [there are four, plus an elegant maisonette with its own private entrance] with all the bells and whistles one could want in such a gorgeous residence.

70_Henry_livingRoom_1207.jpgDesigned by world-renowned architect, Morris Adjmi, each of the residences has 9′ ceilings, 7″ wide plank oak flooring throughout, custom windows and kitchen with Thermador appliances, and spa-like bathrooms. No detail was spared when it came to the design and execution of creating such a grand living space while still retaining the building’s historic charm.

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“Together we combined the historical architecture with contemporary designs for a pristine result,” said Gerard Longo, President of Mettle Property Group. Mettle is a leader in the preservation of historic ground-up construction in context with their historic neighborhood.

Being a part of the community means becoming a part of this neighborhood’s history.

Ensuring Your Home against a Fire

Fire safety is something that you should be prepared for at all times of the year but as we get into the winter season, and some of the coldest months of the year, it’s important to be vigilant about protecting our families and our home.

Our home is filled with loved ones and personal belongings that often time carry a sentimental value so safeguarding what’s closest to us should start from the moment you move in. During the final walkthrough with your realtor, test and make sure the smoke alarms in the residence you’re about to close on are working.

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Owners of one-and two family residences must have installed in their home a working smoke detector that provides an audible alarm within each sleeping area. This sound provides an early warning to those sleeping that there is a fire and a greater chance of getting out of the home immediately. It is a requirement for every home in New York State.

Did you know that if a fire starts you have less than two minutes to get out safely? In such a short amount of time you have to be ready to spring into action and one of the ways to do so safely without wasting a moment is to already have a fire escape plan in place that has been practiced on a regular basis. Once you move into your new home, formulate that plan early on and make sure everyone is prepared in the event a fire breaks out.

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Escape Plan

  • Know two ways out of every room.
  • A closed door can stop the spread of gas, heat and smoke.
  • Have a meeting place outside your home.
  • Know how to call 9-1-1 from outside to report a fire.
  • Practice your escape plan with everyone who lives in your home at least twice a year

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While there are many different reasons why fires break out here are the top five:

  • Kitchen – Cooking is the number one cause of home fires. It takes only seconds for a pot or a pan to overheat and grease to splatter. Most kitchen fires start because people get distracted; never leave an open flame unattended.
  • Heating Equipment – Have your furnace checked annually and if your home has a fireplace, make sure to have the chimney cleaned and inspected. During the colder months many people use portable space heaters; these can be dangerous if used improperly. Keep them away from anything that can burn and never use them to dry clothes or shoes.
  • Smoking – If you must smoke, try and do it outside. Your bedroom should be off limits; how many times do you get drowsy, just lying in bed, watching TV. A lit or improperly extinguished cigarette is dangerous. And never put an ashtray on or near anything that will burn.
  • Electrical equipment – With all of the gadgets and electronics that are out there these days it’s easy to overload outlets with plugs; do not overuse extension cords. Also, be careful of do-it-yourself electrical projects. Sometimes it’s best to leave those in the hands of a professional electrician. And check to ensure your appliances do not have loose or frayed cords/plugs.
  • Candles – Who doesn’t love the smell of a scented candle! But they be dangerous if not used properly. Keep all candles on a level surface in a sturdy holder away from combustible materials and out of the reach of children and pets.

Remember… only working smoke detectors save lives.

  • TEST your smoke detectors at least once a month. Push the test button or blow smoke into the detector.
  • CLEAN your detectors at least once a year to remove dust.
  • REPLACE the battery every year. Better yet, twice a year – when you change your clocks in the spring and fall. Replace the smoke detector after 10 years.

Getting to Know Joe Baglio…..

Joe Baglio

While other young kids were dreaming of becoming superheroes when they grew up, Joe Baglio, Managing Partner of Madison Estates, was thinking real estate, even if he wasn’t quite sure at the time what that meant.  “I was drawn to the business at a very young age and intrigued by the process,” he says. “The thought of owning property was always attractive to me as well.”

A Brooklyn boy at heart, Baglio has seen the borough he’s called home since birth go through changes and believes it’s come a long way since he was a kid growing up. It’s a place where home values continue to rise, and the bottom line is, buyers are attracted to what Brooklyn has to offer.

We spent some time chatting with Baglio to learn more about what he believes makes the Brooklyn real estate market so attractive….

How do you spot an area that is on the rise before it truly explodes on the market?

Real estate is like a living, breathing organism; it has a pulse and you can just feel it. There are certain subtleties that you have to look for. I am a big fan of people watching, which will usually give an area away. And it’s a combination of the properties, architecture, and people that will indicate if an area is exploding or about to.

As the real estate market continues to prosper and we get closer to the New Year, what areas would you say in your opinion are currently in demand?

Right now I am very bullish on Prospect Lefferets Gardens; it’s an area I’ve spent a lot of time in and have witnessed its change right before my eyes. It has amazing architecture with many limestone and brownstone blocks as well as new, larger scale rental buildings that are fully amenitised which are attracting a younger, artistic demographic.

The original roots of the area are still strong which makes it even cooler. There are lots of restaurants on Franklin, Bedford, and Washington Avenue, plus you can walk to Prospect Park and the Brooklyn Museum.   

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As homebuyers, sometimes finding the perfect place takes longer than we hope. As a seasoned broker, what advice do you have for those potential buyers who walk through Madison’s door?

To always be honest and transparent with your broker. You’re trusting them to help in finding one of the greatest investments of your life. A good broker should know what your wish list vs your needs list is.

What types of changes do you see happening in 2018 for Brooklyn?

I believe Brooklyn has far to go with many areas on the South Shore that still have not been tapped, or should I say discovered. Growing up I remember the backlash I would get when I would tell someone I was from Brooklyn; at that time it wasn’t very chic to say that’s where you were from; it’s still sounds crazy to me when I think about that.

For newcomers, what would you recommend are the “must see and do” things?

You must tour the “Gold Coast”; start in Greenpoint and follow the coast all the way to Coney Island. The diversity, architecture, cultures, and sites will blow your mind!

When you’re not on the hunt for the next great property/location, what do you enjoy doing?

I truly enjoy spending time with my family. I am blessed with a beautiful wife and two beautiful children. My kids allow me to tune out the world and shut down my engines. I get to unwind and jump onto their level which is not all that difficult for me considering I’m a child at heart!

Your greatest passions?

My family and my work.

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What’s In A Name….

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I’m sure most of us have never stopped to think about where the neighborhood’s we live in got their name, or even the history behind it. While some of the older areas are named after Dutch settlers, the newer, more industrialized locations that have turned residential over the past couple of years received their moniker based on geographical location. Take the area of DUMBO, Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass. When we set out with our real estate agent, we might have chosen the location based on a number of factors, but chances are it’s not because of a name.

If we stop and think about it for a moment, there is a lot of history that helped shape not only the borough of Brooklyn, but each of the 77 neighborhoods that comprise Kings County. It’s extremely fascinating, especially if you’re a history buff.  The Brooklyn Historical Society is a great place for more in-depth knowledge on such a fascinating topic.

The borough itself has the Dutch colonists to thank for their name. In the mid 1600’s Brooklyn consisted of six separate towns. One of these towns, settled in 1646, was named “Breuckelen,” named after a village in the Netherlands. In 1664, the English gained control of the area and the name was eventually anglicized to “Brooklyn” the name residents have come to know and love.

As for the areas that comprise the borough, let’s take a look at where a few originated.

Gerritsen Beach

 Gerritsen Beach

Located just 13 miles from New York City on Brooklyn’s southern shore, this quaint and close knit community was named for the Dutch settler, Wolphert Gerretse, who built his home and mill alongside Gerritsen Creek in the early 17th century. The area was mainly rural territory until the 1920’s when developers began building a resort community.

The allure of Gerritsen Beach for many multi-generational families is living amongst friends and the security of knowing your neighbors. While close to Marine Park and Sheepshead Bay, the neighborhood has a private beach which offers easy access to boating and parkland.

Neighborhood stores and commercial activity can be found along Gerritsen Avenue. Another interesting fact, the neighborhood is home to the only remaining volunteer fire department in Brooklyn and is one of nine that exist in NYC.

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Bensonhurst

Tucked between a multitude of neighborhoods on the southwestern side of Brooklyn, Bensonhurst was an area comprised of farmland back in the 1800’s. Originally owned by the Polhemus family, a landowning clan, they sold their acreage to the Benson family, descendants from some of America’s earliest Dutch settlers.

In 1889, a developer by the name of James Lynch bought the Benson family’s land; his plan was to turn the area into an exclusive resort, complete with a steam rail and trolley access. The Benson family agreed to the sale under one condition; that it would be known by their surname. For a brief time the neighborhood was referred to as Bensonhurst-by-the-Sea but over time it was eventually shortened.

Today, two main thoroughfares run through this popular neighborhood. Whether walking or driving along 18th Avenue you’ll find the streets lined with predominantly small, family-owned businesses; plus it is home to the popular 18th Avenue Feast which takes place yearly in late August/early September. There is also the ever popular 86th Street, filled with a slew of stores and restaurants. On the second Sunday after Memorial the annual 86th Street Festival is held and there you’ll find the streets lined with live music, food, carnival rides.

Carroll Gardens

Carroll Gardens

The residential area known as Carroll Gardens offers its residents a serene neighborhood filled with brownstone row houses, accompanied by beautiful front gardens. The area takes it name from Carroll Park which is a vital center of the community. The park, built in the late 1840’s, is comprised of playgrounds, walkways, and sitting areas that run between Court, Smith, Carroll, and President Streets.

Originally a private garden purchased by the city in 1853, it was named after Charles Carroll, a wealthy Maryland planter, who was also the first United States Senator for Maryland, and one of the signors of the Declaration of Independence.

You might be wondering why a man from Maryland had the honor of a NY neighborhood being named after him; Carroll led the 1st Maryland Regiment, a group of soldiers who were integral to the Battle of Brooklyn in August 1776. These brave men charged the enemy holed up at the Old Stone House at the Gowanus so Washington’s army would have time to escape. Their bravery changed the course of the Revolutionary War.

The gardens refer to the big gardens in the front yards of these beautiful homes. In 1846, a surveyor named Richard Butt planned gardens in front of the brownstone homes in the oldest section of the neighborhood when he developed it.

Originally considered to be a part of the Red Hook neighborhood, Carroll Gardens began to have its own identity in the 1960s.

A favorite area amongst many, the neighborhood is filled with local retailers, cafes, restaurants, and trendy bars, giving it a distinct and unique charm.

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Greenpoint

With views of the Manhattan skyline, Greenpoint is one of the more cozier and intimate areas of the borough even as they continue to grow in popularity amongst home buyers.

Originally an area of vast farmland, it was surrounded by blooming trees, beautiful meadows, fresh water creeks and briny marshes. European settlers originally referred to a small bluff of land jutting into the East River at what is now the westernmost end of Freeman Street as “Greenpoint” but eventually the name came to encompass the whole area.

Because it was once predominantly farmland, many of the farm owners family names, like  Meserole and Calyer, are still the street names of today.  It’s also been said that Brooklyn’s distinctive accent originates from Greenpoint.

The neighborhood is also home to McCarren Park which first opened in 1906 under the name Greenpoint Park and renamed two years later after State Senator Patrick H. McCarren. The park contains an outdoor pool, a recreational center, film and concerts in the summer months, and a greenmarket which is open for business on Saturdays. The neighborhood is also a popular filming location for TV and film.

Over the years the demand for housing has skyrocketed and many new developments have begun [although completion is a few years away], especially along the area’s waterfront, which along with the waterfront in Williamsburg, was rezoned in 2005 for increased residential projects.

In 2015, construction began on Greenpoint Landing, a project which includes ten residential towers, a public elementary and middle school, and 4 acres of parkland. While as of this past spring one building has opened, completion is expected to be before 2027.

 

 

A Look at One of Brooklyn’s Historic Landmarks

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A borough so deeply ensconced in history, you’d be hard pressed to find a neighborhood in Brooklyn that doesn’t have something historical tied to it. Located within the area of Sunset Park, the Brooklyn Army Terminal (BAT), which is now a premiere real estate location for businesses, is another one of Brooklyn’s landmarks that is rich in history. Originally constructed as a means to dispatch supplies and personnel to military fronts around the world, the terminal has served in a variety of capacities throughout its lifetime. “The Brooklyn Army Terminal is such a remarkable place because it connected to so much of the infrastructure that makes New York City work,” says Andrew Gustafson, owner of Turnstile Tours.

The four-million square foot structure, which will celebrate its 100th birthday next year, spans from 58th street to 63rd street and from 2nd avenue all the way to the waterfront. Surrounded by water, it’s like its own industrial city. Remarkable in sight, the most dramatic feature is the atrium inside Building B.

“When you step inside the vast atrium, you get a sense of the sheer volume of materials that was moved through these enormouswarehouses, but what you don’t see is what’s behind the walls,” says Gustafson.

Before Renovations:

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After Renovations:

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At one time this was the hub for all of the military transportation operations of New York Harbor. Freight cars would pull into the building and unload supplies with a five ton moveable crane that traveled the atrium from endto end, spanning the length of three football fields and the zig zag balconies you see today were once loading docks. The area is currently closed to the public but regular tours are available for those interested in taking a step back in time.

Essential during WWII, over 20,000 military and civilian personnel were employed at the terminal and millions of servicemen passed through as they began their journey overseas. The most famous soldier to come through was Elvis Presley when he set sail on an 18-month tour of Germany in 1958. Photographers, reporters, and fans arrived in droves to catch a glimpse of the iconic singer.

In addition to being a major nerve center during the war, the Brooklyn Army terminal, which was once considered the world’s largest structure, served the city in a variety of other ways. During prohibition, it housed confiscated liquor from NYC speakeasies. What was once a thriving piece of real estate for the city unfortunately fell into a state of decay throughout the ‘60s and the ‘70s.  In 1981, NYC acquired the space from the federal government and a few years later a massive renovation was under way.

Since the days of old, the Brooklyn Army terminal has come a long way. Today, the massive space is home to a host of different types of businesses. Once filled with mostly warehouses and distribution centers, manufacturing companies are also taking up residency.

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Mario Macaluso, whose family restaurant, Pete’s Brooklyn Eats, has been a staple in the area for the last 28 years, and opened up a second location in the BAT six years ago. “It was complete tumbleweeds but we built it from the ground up, even adding an outdoor garden,” says Macaluso. Having delivered to the people at the terminal for years, the family had established relationships that proved helpful when space became available.  “After my brother, who runs the original location helped them out during the tragedy of 9/11, they came to us when the opportunity to bid on the space opened up,” he says.  It’s taken some time but Macaluso says this past year he’s begun to see changes. “There’s a lot of history here.”

Other businesses like Chocolatier Jacque Torres, a chocolate manufacturer, Uncommon Goods, an on-line boutique store, TechShop, a high-tech manufacturing hub, and the Intelligence Division of the NYC Police Department, all call this location home. It is also widely used for film and photo shoots.

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In 1965, the area, once referred to as South Brooklyn, took on the name of the neighborhood’s largest park which was built in the late 1800’s. Made up of 25 acres of beautiful elevated terrain, it’s a location that offers residents and tourists magnificent views of NYC landmarks like the Brooklyn Bridge, Statue of Liberty, and the Manhattan skyline.

The neighborhood is also home to NYC’s second largest Chinatown, with excellent restaurants and markets. In the mood for something a little different, stroll along Fifth Avenue and you’re guaranteed to find a multitude of restaurants that specialize in cuisine from almost every country in Latin America.

Reinvented through an increase in residents and strong business growth, Sunset Park is full of diversity and charm, making it an attractive place to call home.

Staging Your Home for the Best Possible Sale

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You’ve made the decision to put your house up for sale and it goes without saying that you are hoping for a smooth and quick process that results in getting your asking price.

To ensure your home receives the attention it deserves there are techniques to give you an edge over other properties currently on the market.  Aside from some small repairs that might need to be completed as part of your pre-sale preparations, consider home staging, the art of decorating a house to sell quickly and for top dollar.

According to the U.S. Housing and Urban Development, research shows staged homes spend 73% less time on the market than non-staged homes and sell for up to 17% more.

It’s important to realize that home staging is not the same as preparing your home for sale. With home staging, the focus is more on the aesthetics, such as design, organization and the overall appearance, as opposed to the functionality of certain things inside and outside the property. You want to present your house in a way that appeals to the largest audience.

Regardless of the type of real estate market you’re in, it’s a win-win situation. In a sellers’ market, staging can help foster the process along a lot quicker and bring you the maximum sale you’re looking for. In a buyers’ market it’s a smart idea to have that additional edge over the competition.

Benefits to home staging:

  • You’ll think like a buyer – when you begin to set the stage you’ll start looking at your house the way a buyer would.
  • De-cluttering and organizing – Cleaning shelves, closets and cabinets is a big part of home staging. You want a potential buyer to get the feeling of space. Plus, you’ll have to pack these things at some point so why not get a head start.
  • Less time spent on the market –This is especially beneficial if you have a set date in which you need to be out of your home and into your new one.
  • Helps to justify the asking price – If it’s a sellers’ market you most likely won’t have to haggle over the asking price. If the market is in favor of the buyer, it’s beneficial to not have to justify your asking price.

Setting the Stage Room by Room

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Exterior – The outside of your home should be given the same attention to detail as the inside, especially since curb appeal is the first thing potential buyers see upon arrival. You want a positive first impression, anything that will draw away from that should be tended to. If the outside is pleasing on the eye, chances are that feeling of excitement will continue once inside.

  • Survey the outside and make notes on the things that need some extra TLC.
  • Areas like the lawn and bushes should be trimmed and depending on the season, potting some fresh flowers and plants will liven up the outside.
  • In the fall, keep the lawn and surrounding areas free of leaves.Photo 3 (Living Room).jpg

Living Rooms and Family Rooms –Two rooms families spend a lot of time in; they’re a place for gathering and entertainment, and what buyers will envision as they walk through.

  • To ensure a good feel for the space, make it not only warm and inviting but spacious.
  • Bring in neutral, warm tones; you can add things such as accent pillows to enhance appearance.
  • Items that give off the impression of overcrowding should be removed; you want the room to breathe.
  • Arrange furniture for the best possible flow; when people want to sit down and spend time in a room you know you’ve achieved your goal!

Kitchens – One of two rooms that hold the most resale value, the kitchen is another area people spend a great deal of time so placing extra attention here is key. Remember, even small improvements will have a big impact. If you must spend a little extra time and money bringing a room up to date this is the one to do it in.

  • De-cluttering counter tops and remove any unnecessary items.
  • To modernize cabinets consider installing a new set of knobs, or even a fresh coat of paint.
  • Keep everything spotless; clean the kitchen area like the sale of your house depends on it.
  • Leave the curtains or blinds open and make sure the lights are turned on; you want to leave the impression of clean and bright.
  • If you have an eat-in kitchen set the table so buyers can envision themselves sitting down to a meal.

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Bathrooms – The second of two rooms that will up your resale value, bathrooms should be up to date, immaculate and well lit.

  • If any fixtures are outdated replace them with ones that are more modern and current.
  • Hang towels that are color coordinated with your color scheme and consider placing some fresh flowers out; they look and smell nice.
  • Scrub everything down, including windows and shower doors till they sparkle. You want it to look like a model home not one that was recently used.

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Bedrooms – The goal for this room is cozy and comfortable. You want the room to appear spacious and again, neutral tones will help you achieve the look.

  • Limit the amount of furniture to eliminate the space feeling cramped.
  • Remove the bulk of the clothes you aren’t wearing from your closet; this will give off the feeling of a larger space. You’re going to have to pack them up anyway, so why not now.
  • Consider upgrading your bedding; it’s something you’re going to take with you and will improve the look of your room while it’s on the market.

While these are just a few ideas to consider for each room, remember, the goal of home staging is to make money. Based on your time and budget you will be able to determine what improvements are possible. If you’re in a sellers’ market the amount of changes might be minimal; in a buyers’ market you’ll most likely have to do a bit more work. The key is to find the right balance which will in turn help sell your home as quickly as possible. That, and of course a great real estate agent!

 

 

Discovering a bit of American History, In a Cemetery…..

Brooklyn is synonymous with quite a few things; the Cyclone, Coney Island, and of course, delicious food and restaurants. There are endless places to visit, but what many people might not know is there is a great piece of American history sitting on a span of 478 spectacular acres in south Brooklyn, otherwise known as Green-wood Cemetery that’s worth passing through.

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Founded in 1838, this historical landmark was one of the first rural cemeteries, and quickly developed a reputation for being one of the most beautiful and prestigious places to be buried. It’s no wonder it is the final resting home for many well-known Civil War generals, baseball legends, politicians, artists, entertainers and inventors.

Walking through the winding paths, visitors will notice names such as Leonard Bernstein, the famous composer, Samuel Morse, inventor of the telegraph, Henry Chadwick, the “Father of Baseball”, and William S. Hart, a silent movie star, to name just a few of Green-wood’s famous residents.

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With a quarter million visitors a year, it is second only to Niagara Falls as the nation’s greatest tourist attraction and provides breathtaking views of Manhattan. Built before Central Park [construction on the park began in 1857], Green-wood was part of the rural cemetery movement, which believed in creating cemeteries using landscaping in a park-like setting.

“This is New York City’s first urban greenspace which predates both Central Park and Prospect Park and was the inspiration for both,” says John Connolly, Manager of Public Engagement and Development for Green-wood. “It has a long history as being a place to find solace.”

One of the wonderful things about the cemetery is you can experience all of its beauty and history, even if you do not have a loved one buried there. Green-wood offers insightful tours aboard their historic trolley with guides who will share fascinating stories.

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Or if you prefer to stroll the grounds on your own, you can do so as well. Keep in mind when doing so that it’s also where President George Washington and his troops fought the Battle of Brooklyn in 1776 across what is now the grounds of Green-wood.

If you’re visiting in the fall, you’ll also be able to purchase the home grown honey from the beehives that are cultivated by Green-wood’s beekeeper.

Along with their rich history, Green-wood is also sought after for use in both television, with shows like “Gotham” and the “Blacklist” filming frequently, to films such as, “The Departed,” “The Girl on the Train,” and “John Wick,” taking advantage of the sprawling grounds.

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Designed in 1911, the beautiful limestone chapel is a popular venue for special events and film shoots. “We receive a lot of requests for weddings in the chapel,” says Connolly.

“It’s not just about burying people,” says Connolly. “It’s also about how we can use the space currently.”

Tips for Making Your Home More Desirable Before You Sell

Once you’ve made the decision to sell your home there are a few things to consider before finding a realtor and putting that “For Sale” sign in the ground.

While the most important factor is to set your price for the right amount of money for the neighborhood you’re located in, the next step is setting the stage and making your home stand out to potential buyers.

Because first impressions count, especially in real estate, small changes and touches can make all the difference.

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Make a Good First Impression

Before potential buyers step foot inside, they’re going to be looking at the outside and making a mental note of its curb appeal. You want the most appealing look from the sidewalk to your front door.

  • Landscaping –Clean up both the front and backyard (if you have one) to make sure it looks spotless. Trim any bushes or shrubs so they are well manicured. If you have a deck, you might want to consider pressure washing for a clean look.
  • Dress up your front door – If your door is old and worn, touch it up with a fresh coat of paint as opposed to replacing the door completely. Consider hanging a wreath that shows some of your personal style.
  • Swap outdated fixtures – Take a look at your door knobs, house numbers, mailbox, and outdoor light fixtures to make sure they’re all in good condition.

Create a Welcoming Environment

Once a potential buyer steps inside you’re going to want them to feel like they’ve just walked into their new home. The goal here is for them to visualize themselves living in your property and with a few touches you’ll be able to pull it off. Don’t go overboard though, less is always more!

  • Plants and Flowers – Fresh or not, quality plants and flowers are attractive to the eye when scattered throughout the home. Choose ones with a fresh, clean scent, nothing too over powering. Décor magazines are a great source of inspiration to help in choosing and placing the best greenery.
  • Fresh coat of paint – By giving walls a once over you’re breathing new life back into those rooms. Experts recommend neutral colors (think grays and beiges) because they’re not distracting. Plus, they make the space appear lighter and brighter which can be a big plus for a room that does not receive a lot of natural light.
  • Clean Up – Before each showing it’s important to make sure your home, both inside and outside, is spotless. It’s a common mistake people make when selling.

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Eliminate Clutter

By decluttering, buyers are able to visualize much easier than in a home that’s filled with tons of stuff. You want to showcase the amount of potential space the new owners will have, not the other way around so take a look and see what you can let go of.

  • Closets – Empty by at least half (rent a storage unit if you have to); this will give the buyer an idea of how much storage they’ll have. On the flip side, it’s a good opportunity to go through what you don’t want; that way you won’t have to pack up and move items that you no longer have a use for.
  • Den/Office area – Any bills, mail, papers that you absolutely do not need get rid of and for the rest of the things you do need, find an out of sight spot where they won’t be seen.
  • Play area – Children’s toys shouldn’t be visible; plus it’s a good time to go through everything and donate the ones they no longer play with.

Let There Be Light

The bigger your home feels the more it will appeal to buyers. While you can’t do anything to increase the size, you can make sure it’s as bright as possible.

  • Open your curtains – This will bring in as much natural light as possible.
  • Darker rooms – For those spaces that do not receive as much natural light as others, invest in some light fixtures and strategically place them around to illuminate even the darkest of spots.

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Take Advantage of Space

Sticking with the theme of creating a space that appears larger, lightening is not the only way to achieve that feel.

  • Rearrange and remove furniture – Removing bulky pieces of furniture is another way to open up a room. Those larger pieces make a space feel smaller so if you can eliminate a few it will give off a more open feeling.

Remember, you don’t have to spend a ton amount of money when creating a warm and inviting space that perspective homeowners can envision themselves living in, you just need to make some improvements that will help showcase the beauty of your home.