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.

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.