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  • Swap outdated fixtures – Take a look at your door knobs, house numbers, mailbox, and outdoor light fixtures to make sure they’re all in good condition.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.

Look Who’s Turning 90!

When you hear the name Brooklyn many things come to mind; whether its things like real estate, food, festivals, or landmarks, the borough has an abundance to offer that will not disappoint.

Nathan's Hotdog

At the top of that list is the Cyclone at Luna Park (formerly the grounds of Astroland) in Coney Island, an iconic attraction that cannot be missed. Whether you’re a resident or a tourist visiting New York, the cyclone is a part of Brooklyn’s history and an attraction not to be missed.

“As a New Yorker, the cyclone is one of the top things you have to do,” says Angie Morris, Luna Park’s brand manager. “It’s amazing to hear guests from all over the world add the Cyclone to their “must do” list.”

Cyclone

In just a few short weeks, the historic wooden roller coaster will turn 90 years old! Since it’s opening on June 26th, 1927, it has been giving thrill seekers a ride to remember. It’s not been without its hiccups; in the 1970’s due to economic turmoil the coaster was almost torn down but then mayor, Ed Koch, fought to save it, saying he wasn’t sure Coney Island could survive without it. “Brooklyn is the Cyclone,” says Morris. “It is a generational ride that is shared with all Brooklynites.”

In 1988, it was declared a landmark and placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1991.

It also holds a bit of history; famous celebrities have ridden it and aviator Charles Lindbergh, the first person to fly solo over the Atlantic Ocean, reportedly said a ride on this roller coaster was greater than flying a plane at top speed.

It’s also been featured in such action thriller movies such as, “The Warriors,” and “Shakedown” with actor Sam Elliot while stars like Diana Ross and Michael Jackson danced under it in the hit film “The Wiz.”

The Warriors

Soaring above Coney Island’s boardwalk at the corner of Surf Avenue and West 10th Street, the impressive coaster reaches an 85 foot peak before a roaring 60 mph plunge brings only the bravest to the bottom.  Overall, there are 12 drops throughout the 2,640 feet of swirling track and 27 elevation changes. For a minute and 50 seconds, passengers aboard the cyclone experience a thrill on the all wooden piece of machinery that’s like no other. It’s definitely not a ride for the faint of heart!

Rollercoaster Picture

To commemorate this milestone birthday, Luna Park will be celebrating the cyclone’s 90th on Saturday, June 25th with the biggest block party in Brooklyn. Rain or shine the party starts at 2pm and is free for all ages. The fun-filled day will include such activities as face painting, a photo booth, and appearances by the Harlem Globetrotters and a musical performance from Brooklyn’s own Fabolous.

Globetotters

Along with the rest of the rides, games and food, the famous Feltman’s of Coney Island which closed its doors in 1954 is returning this summer to the original spot where it first began.

“We celebrate milestones for the Cyclone because it is a NYC landmark,” says Morris. “As we’ve done in the past with the 75th, 85th, and now 90th; it’s our way of honoring an icon and as we gear up for the 100th!”

But don’t be deceived; while this coaster might be turning 90 there is nothing old about her. Fully refurbished last year, it has been repaired and restored throughout the years and is inspected daily for the safety of its riders.

Luna Park first opened in 2010 on the former grounds of Astroland and this summer they’ve removed their 4 hour wristband to introduce the All Day wristband which gives guests the opportunity to ride all of the rides unlimited times all day long. So if you’re brave enough you can conquer the Cyclone more than once in a day!

Luna Park

To Buy or Rent….that is the question!

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It’s one of those major questions you’re bound to ask yourself at some point and probably the biggest decision from a financial standpoint you’re going to make. The answer though isn’t always a simple one, there are a variety of factors to take into consideration. Ultimately, your decision will be based on what makes the most financial as well as emotional sense for your particular situation.

There is a general belief that owning a home is the ultimate goal, the key to the “American Dream.” And while there are many great reasons to support this thinking, numerous pros and cons should be weighed before signing on the dotted line. And regardless of whether you’re a first time home buyer or a repeat purchaser, be sure to ask yourself a few important questions before contacting a real estate agent to get started.

Thinking about buying, consider the following…

Pros

  • Building equity over time which creates stability and security for your family

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  • Tax benefits – great news, now you can deduct many home-related expenses
  • Potential for rental income
  • More creative freedom – you won’t need to ask anyone’s permission (well maybe your spouse) before tackling a new project
  • Unlimited pets (if you want) – there isn’t a no pet policy when you own your own home

Cons:

  • Potential for financial loss
  • Responsible for all maintenance and repairs

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  • Higher upfront costs

Considering renting…

Pros

  • You’re not responsible for maintenance and repairs
  • No real estate taxes to pay
  • No large down payment
  • Credit requirements are less strict
  • Some utilities might be included in the rental agreement
  • Relocating is easier

Cons

  • No chance to earn equity on your property
  • No tax benefits
  • Limited housing security

Regardless of whether you buy or rent these costs you just can’t escape!

Buying

  • Down payment
  • Home appraisal fee
  • Home inspection fee
  • Property tax
  • 1st years homeowners insurance
  • Any additional closing cost fees

Recurring costs

  • Mortgage loan payments
  • Property taxes
  • Homeowners insurance
  • Utilities
  • Maintenance
  • Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI) – if you put down less than 20% of the purchase price you’ll have this added monthly payment

Renting

  • Security Deposit
  • First month’s rent
  • Moving Costs

Recurring Costs:

  • Monthly rent
  • Renter’s insurance
  • Utilities (sometimes, certain utilities are included in the rental fee)
  • Laundry (not all rentals offer washer/dryer hookups)

As you’re going down your checklist, consider the following questions

  1. How long do you plan to stay? – The longer you anticipate you’ll be there the better off you are buying. Buying and selling a home requires a good deal of time and money so take that into consideration if you plan to stay less than five years.

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  1. Would you be happy staying longer than planned? – For first time home buyers, the idea of a starter home sounds great, but what if the time comes when you’re ready to sell and it’s not a sellers’ market? Or other unforeseen circumstances arise and you are unable to move when you thought you would?
  2. How stable is your job and your life? – If things both professionally and personally are not stable you might want to reconsider locking yourself into a big financial commitment at the moment.
  3. How do the monthly costs compare? – Do the math and be realistic. Consider all of the monthly costs that go along with owning verse renting.
  4. Do you have enough money for a down payment? – Sure you can get away with putting down less than 20% but that means you’ll be paying PMI along with a higher mortgage payment. Plus, sellers might choose offers with higher down payments and less contingencies.
  5. Do you have savings to pay for repairs? – All homes require repairs at some point, regardless of whether they’re brand new or not. If you’re leaning towards purchasing make sure you have some extra cash in your account for any unforeseen occurrences.

Whatever route you choose, finding the best real estate agent will help make either process as smooth and efficient as possible.

Jumping into Spring with Tips to Get Ready for a New Season

Spring has sprung and we couldn’t be happier to start packing away the winter clothes, snow boots and basically anything winter related. It’s time to embrace this new season with an appreciation for all it promises to bring. It’s a known fact that the shorter days and colder weather can make you feel down; there’s even a name for it, season affective disorder (SAD, an appropriate acronym). As a result, we are ready to not only dust off of our state of mind but also get our home in order. Just like us, they take a beating from the cold, so it’s important to take care of things we’ve had to neglect due to the weather.  Tackling these projects now will ensure you’re ready to enjoy spring before moving into summer!

Since the exterior of our homes bear the brunt of the cold season starting outside is best:

  • Check all windows and doors – the cold weather can break down the caulking and stripping that seals your doors and windows so take a walk around your home to check for any damage. Replace any old, cracked caulk and/or stripping for proper insulation. You don’t want to let the warm air inside especially when you’re running your air conditioner this summer!
  • Clean out gutters and downspouts – During the winter leaves and other debris can accumulate inside so it’s important to clean out and ensure proper functionality. Gutters direct water away from the perimeter of the home and with rainy months ahead you don’t want clogged gutters, they’ll only cause trouble.

Gutter

  • Service your air conditioner –To ensure you’re prepared for the hot summer days that follow spring, it’s a good idea to begin servicing your air conditioners Begin by replacing the filters to ensure the efficiency of the unit. Clogged filters make it difficult for the unit to work properly. For anyone with allergies, consider replacing the filter about every 60 days or so. For the more complicated servicing consult an HVAC professional at least once a year.
  • Landscaping – Check the surrounding areas of your home, both front and back, and sweep away any old leaves, debris, and tree branches. If your yard contains any bushes or plants give them a trim; most likely they’ve gotten a bit overgrown during these last few months. And don’t forget to replace that winter ravaged door mat for a fresh new look.

Trimming

  • Trim and siding maintenance – Icy and windy winter conditions can wreak havoc on the exterior which can be fragile. Contact a professional if you spot any damage.

Once you wrap up outside, here are some inside spring cleaning tips to get your home in order:

  • Replace damaged or torn window screens – For anyone who likes to keep their windows open it’s important the screens are in perfect condition. This will allow the maximum amount of fresh air to get into your home as well as keep insects like mosquitoes and flies outside where they belong.
  • A deep clean – Give extra care to cleaning your windows; take down and launder the window treatments, dust off the blinds, and clean them with a damp sponge. Carpets and rugs take a hit during the winter months so a deep steam clean will revitalize them. You can either hire a professional service or if you have some extra time, there are places that will rent the machine to you on an hourly basis.

Window Cleaning

  • Test all emergency systems – Check all of your systems (house, smoke, carbon monoxide alarms) to make sure they’re working properly. These units should be tested regularly and spring and fall maintenance are the best times to do this.
  • Ceiling Fans – You might not realize this but the direction of the blades makes a difference. In addition to giving the fan a good cleaning, you’ll want to change the direction of the fans to blow air down to give the room a breeze and make it feel cooler.
  • Store dry goods in airtight containers – With the warmer weather insects return so it’s important to store all your dry goods in sealed containers as well as wash out your pet’s bowls after every meal.

Food Storage

  • Organize, organize, organize – File, shred, and eliminate any clutter. Clean out cabinets, toss anything old such as medicines and cosmetics, and donate or discard get rid of any unnecessary items you don’t use or need.

Celebrating St. Patty’s Day: The Brooklyn Way

Screen Shot 2017-03-13 at 5.18.14 PMMarch has rolled back around and people everywhere are getting ready to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. Both a cultural and religious celebration acknowledged around the world, it’s celebrated in more countries than any other national festival. Whether you’re of Irish descent or not, and it seems like everyone is a little Irish on March 17th, it’s a day filled with fun and festivities. If you want to get in on the fun there are numerous things to do in Brooklyn, a borough once known for it’s large Irish population.

With a long history that dates back before Prohibition in the 1920’s, the neighborhood once known as “Irishtown” (roughly located between the Brooklyn Navy Yard and the Manhattan bridge, portions of which are currently known as Vinegar Hill) may no longer be in existence, but neighborhoods such as Bay Ridge and the combined areas of Park Slope and Windsor Terrace still reflect some of the borough’s Irish origins.

The celebration extends past the 17th with not one but three local St. Patrick Day parades along with numerous traditional Irish bars where you can toast with a pint of guinness. Grab your family and friends and be ready for some bagpipes, kilts, lots of green, and of course a good time!

If it’s drinks you’re looking for here are some pubs to check out:

  • The Wicked Monk – 9510 3rd Avenue – Located in the Bay Ridge section of Brooklyn, this neighborhood pub transports you back to a Gothic Irish Monastery when you walk through the door. The bar with its original wood and stained glass were shipped directly from the chapel in Greenmount Monastery (Gallows Green), Cork, Ireland, which was built in 1897, replacing a monastery, which stood on the site previously since 800 AD.

The Wicked Monk

  • The Harp – 7710 3rd Avenue – A friendly and causal Irish pub in Bay Ridge that boosts both a fireplace and a backyard beer garden for the nights you just want to be outside.
  • Farrell’s – 215 Prospect Park West – Located in Windsor Terrace Farrell’s has been a staple in the neighborhood since 1933, the year prohibition was repealed.

Farrell's

  • Peggy O’Neill’s – 1904 Surf Avenue – Once located in Bay Ridge, this Coney Island establishment offers both in and outdoor seating along with live music, DJs, and of course a selection of lager.
  • Irish Haven – 5721 4th Avenue – This old school Irish bar in Sunset Park was the location where Scorsese shot the infamous “cranberry juice” scene from the movie, “The Departed.”

Irish Haven

If a parade is on the agenda here’s what’s in store this year:

  • Saturday, March 18th at 1pm, Gerritsen Beach – The 8th annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade will gather at the VFW Post #107 at Gerritsen Avenue and Whitney Avenue.
  • Sunday, March 19th at 1pm, Park Slope Patrick’s Day Parade – The parade runs from Prospect Park West and 15th Street, then down 15th Street to 7th Avenue to Garfield Place, then to Prospect Park West back to the starting point.
  • Sunday, March 26th at 1pm, Bay Ridge St. Patrick’s Day – The parade will form at Saint Patrick’s Church at the corner of 95th Street and Fifth Avenue, then head to Marina Ave at 11am, and will begin at 1pm. Marchers will travel north bound on 3rd Avenue from Marine Ave to 94th St., then proceed onto 5th Avenue traveling north bound to 67th Street.

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