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  • Swap outdated fixtures – Take a look at your door knobs, house numbers, mailbox, and outdoor light fixtures to make sure they’re all in good condition.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

Let’s talk about six: What’s a classic six apartment?

Have you ever heard of a “classic six” apartment? From time-to-time in NYC you might’ve crossed this listing term and found yourself curious as to what it actually means. According to Brownstoner, a classic six apartment is “chic, desirable and great for raising a family”. But what makes this style of living just so appealing? What is it makes a “classic six” one of New York City’s most sought after apartment layouts? 

Let’s break it down.

 

The classic layout

A classic six is a prewar (“classic”) apartment with a certain number of separate rooms (you guessed it – “six”). However that’s not all, it must also include a living room, formal dining room with a window, a kitchen, two full bedrooms and a maid’s room (typically smaller than the main bedrooms and usually located off the kitchen). While a classic six can have any number of bathrooms, oftentimes you’ll find the maid’s room also boasts its own full or half-bath.

A Prospect Heights’ classic six floor plan. Image: Brownstoner
A Prospect Heights’ classic six floor plan. Image: Brownstoner

The “other” classics

You might have come across the phrases “classic five” (lacking the maid’s room), or “classic seven” (which includes an additional bedroom), however, the less common, rare surviving “classic eight” with a room for a second maid, also exists.

Searching for six

According to Brownstoner, “the Upper West Side and the Upper East Side are known for having the largest stocks of classic six units in New York, [but] even there, listings are scarce”. Many are in co-op buildings (and occasionally condo buildings) and it’s incredibly rare to find one for rent. 

A good place to start is Brooklyn – Brooklyn Heights, Crown Heights, Prospect Heights or Park Slope – places boasting large-scale pre-war apartment buildings.

Apartment appeal

In addition to the obvious, being the sheer size of a classic six, both the fact that they’re so hard to come across and the distinct layout play a big role in the appeal. More or less impossible to achieve in smaller NYC apartments, the layout of a classic six provides both privacy and a feel of openness. How? The kitchen, dining and entertaining/common areas are often separated from the main bedrooms by a distinct hallway. Because of this, these “apartments” actually have a layout more similar to a classic single family home.

The space separation of the maid’s room to the rest of the home, tucked away by the kitchen, is often a favorite of NYC youth who enjoy the privacy and the idea of occupying their own living quarters. Of course, being so close by the kitchen and that endless supply of coffee, this space also makes for a great home office or studio! If you’ve found yourself with a classic six with a maid’s room that boasts it’s own bathroom or half bath too, why not turn it into a guest bedroom?

A classic six kitchen with a maid’s room converted to a guest bedroom. Image: The Wall Street Journal
A classic six kitchen with a maid’s room converted to a guest bedroom. Image: The Wall Street Journal

Your pre-war classic six: The 2017 update

Given the original construction date on majority of these apartments, chances are, yours might be in need of a little upgrade. Or perhaps you’re ready to do a little renovating to turn that maid’s quarters into your new home office? You might like to enlist the help of someone like All Renovations – specialists in high-end Brooklyn and Manhattan brownstone renovations. Or Brooklyn-based Creative Renovations – whose past client list includes a number of Brooklyn brownstone landmarks!

Getting your deposit back – a moving out cleaning checklist

So you’re excited – you’re finally about to move into your new apartment! Of course, the last thing you want to do is clean out your current place, right? Unfortunately, if you want your deposit back, it’s something you’re just going to have to do! That’s why we’ve put together the following checklist to help you make sure you’ve covered your bases when it comes time for your moving out clean up.

#1 Everything – including the kitchen sink

  • Get rid of all old food from the cupboards and fridge. Come across some spare canned foods? Before you send them straight to the trash, why not donate them to a NYC charity for those in need? Organizations like The Bowery Mission accept donations 24/7 – plus, you’ll receive an in-kind gift receipt for your donation.
Image: Bowery Mission
Image: Bowery Mission
  •  Clean cabinets and liners
  • Clean and disinfect all countertops, including the sink and faucet
  • Clean your refrigerator inside and out
  • Scrub the oven inside and out. Handy hint: use steel wool to clean shelving, burners and drip pans
  • Clean the microwave inside and out

#2 Bathe in reassurance

  • Be sure to clear out the drawers, shelving and vanity of any personal belongings, not forgetting to remove any hair – you might need to remove liners too
  • Clean soap scum off the tiles in the tub/shower and around the sink
  • Clean the toilet
  • Wipe down and disinfect the mirror
  • Dust, sweep, vacuum and mop the floors and surrounding surfaces

Looking for the right products to clean your kitchen or bathroom? Check out Brooklyn’s Common Good – you’ll find cleaning products made of 100% natural ingredients and pure essential oils.

#3 Putting doubt to bed

  • Once you have cleared the room of all your belongings, don’t forget to dust, sweep, vacuum and mop all rooms
  • Wipe down window sills and around any window unit air conditioners

#4 Common (area) mistakes

  • Clean windows
  • Vacuum any carpeted areas. If you’ve come across any hard to remove stains or you think this particular job might be best let to the pros, enlist the help of a local carpet cleaner like Green Choice Carpet Cleaner in Williamsburg

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  • Wipe down/disinfect door knobs, doors, light switches and outlets
  • Clean all marks off the walls and kickboards
  • Dust ceiling fixtures
  • Remove anything hanging on the walls and take all fixtures out of the wall (nails, screws etc.) – you may need to putty these surfaces to cover holes
  • Ensure all rooms are empty and clean before leaving
  • Clean laundry areas
  • Dust, sweep, vacuum and mop entry way
  • Clean and dust the blinds
  • Remove all trash

#5 Thinking outside the house

  • Clean out and sweep the garage
  • Cut the grass and pull weeds (where applicable)
  • Clean and sweep patio

Now it’s time to relax, and enjoy moving to your new home!

Top 4 Ideas for Fun Stay-cations In Brooklyn

#1 Girl’s Night

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Photo by elycerose

Try out some new cosmetics like these face paints that are actually facial masks from  memeboxMemebox. Flex your artistic muscles painting masterpieces on your friends’ faces and nourish your skin in the process. The sets are customizeable so you can choose the exact treatments that you think you and your ladies will need.

Also, you can keep everyone’s glasses full and conversation flowing with a wine delivery from Minibar.

#2 Family Fun

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Photo by Tommy Ga-Ken Wan

Try organizing a scavenger hunt to keep the kids occupied and working together for hours. You can set up the hunt in your home or somewhere else like the Brooklyn Children’s Museum to bring some new excitement to a place that you might have already visited.

You can also try planning an indoor camping trip. Children have such vivid imaginations that simply sleeping somewhere besides their own beds can transport them to a different world. Eat s’mores, sing campfire songs, stay up a little past your bedtime and create memories that will last them a lifetime!

#3 Date Night

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enl150Lock the doors, set your phones to silent and plan some quality time with your other half. Heat things up with some sexy board games that are sure to elicit some giggles.

You may not be able to visit another country but you can try their food! If you do decide to venture out into the cold, try something a little more exotic than your usual pizza spot. Take a look at this epic list from Thrillist of the best places to find every cuisine in NYC.

#4 Singles’ Paradise

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Nothing beats curling up in your PJs and watching your favorite shows when you’re flying mestizohotchocolate_10ozsolo for the weekend. Netflix is releasing a bunch of new original series like White Rabbit Project and Chasing Cameron in December to fuel your next binge watching session. You can check out the line-up here. If movies are more your thing, Hulu has a whole list of great films being released in December.

Of course you need the proper refreshments to enhance your viewing experience. Marie Belle offers same day deliveries of their gourmet hot chocolate all over New York!

How to Find the Right Real Estate Agent for You

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Photo courtesy of coryccreamer

Buying or selling your home can be a scary prospect but with the right agent, the process can go much more smoothly. Just a few easy steps can insure that you’ll have a qualified person with your best interests at heart to guide you along your way.

Find out the word on the Street(easy)

With websites like Streeteasy, Zillow, Trulia, and , you can quickly check what others have to say about your prospective agent. People usually only take the time to write an online review if they’ve had an extraordinary experience. If the agent has more than a couple five star reviews it can be a good indication that your working relationship will be a good one.

Put them to the test

Don’t be afraid to ask your agent about how long they have been in the business, how long they have been working in this neighborhood, and info about their license. If you didn’t find enough info about them  online, go ahead and ask them for references. A good agent will have no problem answering these questions if it will put your mind at ease.

Communication is key

If you notice early on in your working relationship that it takes hours for your realtor to respond to you, you might want to consider moving on the someone else (during the day of course, we don’t recommend texting your realtor in the middle of the night!). An open line of communication will help you to feel more comfortable with the process. Also a few hours can mean the difference between closing a deal or not.

Get your figures straight

You will often be required to pay a commission to your realtor (especially if you are a seller). Be sure that you are clear about what will be expected from you so you won’t have a costly surprise when it comes time to sign the papers.

Go with your gut

Above all, trust your instincts. Ask yourself,” Do I feel like this person really wants what’s best for me?”. You can usually get a good sense of a person after working with them for a short period of time.  Listen to the answer you give yourself!

You can start the search for your next realtor by browsing our qualified agents here!