Category Archives: Real Estate Staten Island New York

7 Springtime Home Spruces to Boost Buyer Interest

One of the first things many home buyers look for are the unmistakable signs of something called ‘pride of ownership.’ As a whole, it’s a relatively intangible concept: there are just homes that have it – reeking of their owners’ love and meticulous care for the property — and homes that, well, don’t.

I’ve watched firsthand as buyers who like a cute home that is in generally good shape literally talk themselves into looking at more homes once they start to notice one rickety gate, which snowballed into a nit picky laundry list of little, tiny fixes the seller had left undone. The challenge is that between deciding whether and when to sell, staging, interviewing agents and determining a list price, it can be tempting for homeowners to fall into the trap of deferring maintenance on a home they might sell soon.

Whether you plan to put your home on the market next week or next year, here is a short list of home maintenance items you should put on your Spring to-do list, stat, if you want to attract qualified buyers and let your home sweet-talk them into making a sweet offer:

1. Banish chips, scuffs and the like with a fresh coat of paint. I believe that eliminating nicks, scuffs and scratches on any painted or finished surface is one of the cheapest, easiest and most impactful spruces a seller-to-be can do. That’s because these little tiny blemishes create a shabby appearance on a home that might otherwise be in great shape, but can be entirely banished with a good washing and some fresh paint.

This goes for interior and exterior walls, floors, and especially any sort of trims that are painted white, as is common with crown and floor moldings – scuff marks and blemishes seem to pop out from these items. Also, the edges of cupboards, doors and drawers are places where chips and nicks are so common that homeowners overlook them, but can be super visible to buyers who visit your home for the first time.

2. Brighten, polish and replace all trims. One day, I’ll do a scientific study, and I predict the results will reveal that if you put two identical homes side-by-side and give one a set of tricked-out trims – exterior shutters, front door, eaves – even your house numbers, door knockers, kick plates and other exterior hardware – people will rate the house with the beautiful trims way higher on the ‘pride of ownership’ scale than you’d expect.

Go stand on your own curb to get the buyer’s-eye view of your home, and then drive around your own neighborhood or the nicest part of town and flip through some home improvement mags or websites for ideas. If you can add attractive trims, freshen up the ones you have or paint them to create an unexpected but attractive color combination with the body of your house, you can skyrocket your home’s standing on my (newly invented) ‘pride of ownership’ scale.

3. Furry, drippy, noisy or broken HVAC systems. Maintaining your heating and air conditioning systems is not that expensive, but buyers think it is. In fact, your furnace and AC are precisely the sort of major household machinery that intimidate first-time home buyers. So, if they show up to the open house or a private showing of your home in June and the AC is making a funny knocking sound or just flat out doesn’t work well enough to keep the house cool, buyers might perceive that as a more serious red flag than it truly is.

Does your AC has that furry ‘science experiment’ look to it? Not only are you paying for the energy it’s probably wasting to push the air pass all that dust and dirt, the gross-out factor will have even the hardiest buyer wondering what else might be wrong with your home.

On the flip side, letting prospective buyers know that your home’s HVAC systems have been recently maintained or upgraded is a nice touch that makes itself obvious during showings and allows buyers to breathe a sigh of relief when it comes to concerns about short-term repair bills and the comfort level of family members who may have allergies and asthma.

Side note: if your AC does make a funny sound you might be so accustomed to you can’t hear it anymore – check in with your agent unless you know as a matter of fact that your AC is in tip-top shape. One more side note: if you live someplace where it gets cold around the holidays and you don’t plan to list your home until wintertime, right now may be the ideal time to have your heating system serviced. Off-season repairs and maintenance are often discounted.

4. Mend and tend to your fences, gates and screens. These items may not jump out at us in our own home – in fact, these are things I often see sellers skimp on or run out of time and money to tend to. And it’s easy to rationalize your way out of dealing with them, as they seem like relatively inexpensive fixes for buyers to make themselves. But screens with holes in them and gates that don’t budge or hang off their hinges are precisely the sorts of things I’ve seen make buyers walk back through a home looking for other flaws; and anything to do with fences makes them envision neighbor disputes over bills. You have the power to avoid sparking these concerns in the minds of house hunters by mending these items this Spring.

5. Doors, cupboards and drawers. One creaky door or squeaky cupboard does not kill a deal. But keep in mind that in some homes, other than the lights, these are the only functioning systems of your home that house hunting visitors will almost certainly use during the course of a viewing. Making sure your entry, interior closet and cupboard doors are in good cosmetic shape and that they work well and don’t stick is an easy, inexpensive way to position your home as a (literally) well-oiled machine.

One point of clarification – it’s less the case that buyers will notice, ooh and ahh over your smoothly sliding drawers than that they will notice and grow concerned if they don’t.

6. Have everything cleaned and washed. Even the most immaculate of housekeepers can realize a massive refresh to the look, feel, smell and the overall air quality of their homes by having professional cleaners come take a tour through the place. Springtime is a great time to ask your agent for referrals to the best local vendors to power wash your house, windows and driveway, as well as to have your carpets, rugs and window coverings cleaned. For those who are on a tight budget, many vendors offer Spring cleaning promotions for these services right about now (and if your budget is even tighter, there are products you can buy and machines you can rent to do these things yourself – just make sure you account for the value of your time).

7. Shred it up. Some might say this is more like Spring cleaning than home maintenance, but I’ve noticed that the clutter of boxes and boxes of paperwork, old file cabinets and the like have a tendency to contribute to the sense that a listed property might be unkempt, the aura of stagnation. If you have no cash to do anything else on this list, one thing you can do for free is to go through all your files and boxes, get rid of old papers and shred anything with sensitive information.

Just think – you’ll have to do it anyway when you move, so this is like giving yourself a head start and your attic, basement office or other rooms a fresh start. You can count it as a staging tactic as well, as it gives the rooms at issue some added visual white space, making them seem larger!

5 Things To Do NOW If You Want to Buy A Home In 2012

If you’re one of the millions who has an eye on 2012 as the year in which you’ll buy a home (first or not), here are five things you can do now to put yourself on the right path:

1.    Check your credit.
Take my word for it: there is no bad surprise worse than a bad credit surprise. Okay, maybe there is one thing worse – a credit surprise you receive while you’re in the midst of trying to buy a home!

Recent studies have revealed that a record high number of real estate transactions are falling out of escrow, and that credit “issues” are a leading cause of these dead deals. Your best chance at catching and correcting score-lowering errors and other derogatory items before they destroy your personal American Dream is to start checking and correcting while you still have time on your side.

2.    Do your research.  The more rapidly the real estate market changes, the more it behooves smart buyers to study up before they jump in.  And now’s the time – you can start doing online and in-person research into topics ranging from:

·    Target states, cities and neighborhoods. Whether you’re relocating or simply trying to narrow down the local districts to focus on during your 2012 house hunt, December is a great time to start your online research into decision-driving factors like tax rates, school districts, neighborhood character and even prices in various areas. Resident ratings and reviews sites like Trulia and NabeWise can help you make the neighborhood-lifestyle match.

Once you narrow things down and start speaking to local agents, ask them to brief you on the local market dynamics, including how long homes typically stay on the market and whether they generally go for more or less than the asking price, so you can be smart about how you search.

Real Estate and mortgage pros. If you don’t already have your pros picked out, now is the time to get on the horn or drop an email or Facebook message to your circle of contacts, asking them for a referral to a broker or agent they love.   Give them a ring and launch a conversation about whether you and they might be a good partnership.

·    Short sales and REOs.
Distressed property sales are not for the unwary. If you want to target upside down or foreclosed homes, or are planning to house hunt in an area where many of the listings are described as short sales or foreclosures, get educated about what you can expect from a distressed property purchase transaction before you get your heart set on a short sale.

·    What you get for the money. Online house hunting is a powerful tool – especially when it’s cold and wet! But there comes a point in your house hunt where you’ve got to just get out into the actual physical homes you’re seeing online in order to get a strong, accurate sense of what home features, aesthetics and location characteristics correlate with what price points.

·    Mortgage musts. You can read a bunch of articles about mortgages and get yourself pretty far down the path toward qualifying for a home loan, but you can only get a personalized action plan for a smooth road ‘home’ by talking with a local mortgage broker and having them assess your basic financials.  They might say you need to move funds around, pay a bill down or off or produce some sort of documentation from your employer.  And the time to start all that is now.

3.    Fluff up your cash cushion. So, you’ve saved up your 3.5 percent down payment. Perhaps you saved a little extra for closing costs.  Or maybe you’re even one of those aggressive 20-percent-down-ers.  No matter how much you’ve saved, you’ll find that you could use more once you activate your home buying action plan. Mark my words after closing, you’ll crave extra cash to do some repairs, upgrade a couple of things, buy appliances or even just to hold onto in order to minimize your anxiety about depleting your savings!

So, if home buying is on your personal 2012 action plan, don’t go hog wild on  gifts. Instead, wait until next year and give yourself the gift of a home.

4.    Shed some stuff.  Sell it. Donate it. Give it to relatives who’ve always coveted it.  Just get rid of it. If you do it before year’s end, you can kill three birds with one stone: (a) getting some cold hard cash to go toward your savings, (b) getting some tax receipts so you can deduct the value of your donations in January, (c) minimizing money spent on holiday gifts for loved ones and these two bonus birds – clearing the mental clutter that physical clutter creates and prepping for your move in advance.

5.    Sit very, very still.
  Sometimes, the best way to further our goals is to stop tripping ourselves up.  In that vein, commit right now to refrain from making any major financial moves until you buy your home.  Don’t quit your job to start that personal chef business (yet), don’t pull a bunch of cash out of your savings account (without getting clearance form your mortgage pro first), and don’t start buying cars and boats on credit – even if you do love the idea of putting the red bow on the car you give your wife, like in the commercials.

I assure you, the bow you’ll be able to put on that house or condo will be much bigger, redder and more tax-advantaged

5 Home Improvement Projects that Will Get You Top Dollar For Your Home

It’s a highly competitive market for home sellers right now. More homes to compete with means that the impression your homes makes – from the curb, and on the inside – matter now more than ever. You can increase your chances of selling faster – and at today’s top dollar – by investing in a select few home improvement projects that have been shown to make a big impact on buyers.

Bad news alert: it might cost you a little time, effort and cash.  The good news, though, is that the best projects for quickly increasing your home’s resale value tend to be cosmetic and fairly simple and inexpensive to do. Here are five projects with big-time return on investment for home sellers-to-be, in terms of their power to attract buyers, and to attract dollars from those buyers.

1. Painting:  Adding a fresh coat of paint to ceilings and walls is a tried and true way to increase your home’s appeal to buyers. Go for white or neutral tones that help lighten your rooms. (Now is not the time to show off your fascination with fuschia and lime green.) Buyers will have an easier time envisioning how they will infuse their own personalities into your home if they’re looking at a relatively blank slate.

Painting lightens and brightens rooms, instantly removes scuffs and dings and gives every room a fresh, polished feel.

Fresh exterior paint – even if your time or cash budget limits your efforts to accents like eaves, shutters, doors and trims – is also a quick, inexpensive way to polish the look of your home from the curb.

2. Landscaping:  Everything you’ve heard about curb appeal is true. First impressions matter – especially if your house is one of eight or nine a buyer has seen in one day. Buyers will be more excited to look at the inside your home if the outside looks clean, charming and inviting. Mow the lawn, trim the hedges, pull the weeds and plant some flowers, bushes or shrubs for the biggest impact – and be diligent about keeping your landscaping very well-manicured throughout the time your home is on the market.

Be sure to keep it low-key, relatively low maintenance and neutral, though. This is not the time to indulge your personal fantasies of living in an exotic paradise, unless that matches the existing look and feel of your home, nor is it the time to install a time-intensive English garden that buyers will love, but not want to take on. Think clean, simple and elegant for the biggest boost in value.

3. Cleaning and de-cluttering:  Start by removing all your family photos from the walls and all sorts of tchochkes and clutter from the tops of tables, desks, dressers and counters. Buyers want to be able to envision their lives in the house, not yours. Personal items – and the visual clutter they create – have been shown time and time again to block buyers’ ability to create this vision.

Also, remember that buyers are coming to see the house and evaluate its space, not to bear witness to all the fabulous furniture that means so much to you (no matter how amazing your personal taste). Remove furniture that takes up too much space and fills up rooms. Get rid of clutter such as clothes, boxes, piles of mail and other items.

And then clean – and keep cleaning obsessively, the entire time your place is on the market. Kitchens, bathrooms and bedrooms should look unlived in when they are shown.  And don’t forget to clean less obvious places like windows, walls, doors and  and floors, to dust off shelves and furniture, and to polish appliances.

4. Plumbing repairs and water stain/damage repair: Paying a plumber to make a few stops throughout your home can be well worth the investment. Leaky faucet in the master bathroom? Get it fixed. Does the space under your kitchen sink look like a science experiment? Leaks and water stains definitely provoke disgust and exasperation on the part of the buyers you want and need to impress.  And they can be pretty cost effective to fix – ask your agent for a referral, if you need one.

5. Staging:  Staging your home can make a dramatic difference in the price for which your home sells. Good staging is equal parts:

(a)    removing your personal belongings and replacing it with more  artwork, decor and cleaner-looking furniture,

(b)    and tweaking the home’s paint, wall coverings and even landscaping to show the place in its very best light.

When done well, staging can convert your home from just another listing on a buyer’s list to the setting for a fresh, new start to the fresh, new life of their dreams. Professional stagers, in particular, have special skills and materials they use, from convincing you to get rid of a bunch of things you value (but read: junk to a buyer), to  items like mirrors, plants, art work, lamps, pillows and even furniture that tells a visual story of the life buyers can fantasize about living in your home.

Talk to your agent about staging – some agents have the skill to do this on their own, while others might have a professional stager they frequently work with.

In some cases, you might want to take on even larger projects. Before you go that route, talk with a local real estate agent; they are well-positioned to know what sort of updates and features will make the most impact on local buyers. Not all major, non-cosmetic upgrades to your home will create a significant difference in the price it commands, so take advantage of your agent’s expertise as you make decisions about whichproperty preparation investments to make (and which to forego)

5 QUESTIONS TO ASK YOUR HOME’S INSPECTOR

Most home buyers feel like they are bona fide real estate experts after all the studying up on loans and neighborhoods, online house hunting and open house visiting it takes just to get into contract on a home these days. But for all but the most handy of house hunters, getting into contract and starting the home inspection process only surfaces how little you actually know about the nuts and bolts and brick and mortar of the massive investment you’re about to make: a home!

So, you hire a home inspector, but it seems like they’re speaking an entirely different language – riddled with terms like “serviceable condition” and “conducive to deterioration” – about your dream home!  Here are 5 questions you can use to decode your home inspector’s findings into knowledge you can use to make smart decisions as a homebuyer – and homeowner.

1.  How bad is it – really?  The best home inspectors are pretty even keeled, emotionally speaking.  They’re not alarmists that blow little things up into big ones, nor do they try to play down the importance of things.  They’re all about the facts.  But sometimes, that straightforwardness makes it hard for you, the home’s buyer, to understand what’s a big deal and what isn’t so much – the information you need to know whether to move forward with the deal, whether to renegotiate and what to plan ahead for.

I’ve seen things categorized in home inspection reports under “Health and Safety Hazards” that cost less than $100 to fix, like replacing a faucet that has hot and cold reversed.  And I’ve seen one-liners in inspection reports, like “extensive earth-to-wood contact” result, after further inspection, in foundation repair bids pricier than the whole cost of the home!

If you attend the inspection (which any good Realtor will recommend) and simply ask the inspector whether or not something they say needs fixing is a big deal, nine times out of ten they will verbally give you the information you need to understand the degree to which the issue is a serious problem (or not).

2.  Who should I have fix that?  I always ask this question of home inspectors, with dual motives.  First, very often, the inspector’s response is – “What do you mean?  You don’t need to pay someone to fix that.  Go down to Home Depot, pick up a ___fill in the blank__, and here’s how you pop it in.  Should cost you $15 – tops.”  And that’s useful information to know – it eliminates the horror of a laundry list of  repairs and maintenance items at the end of an inspection report to know that a number of them are really DIY-type maintenance items.  Even buyers who are really uncomfortable doing these things themselves then feel empowered to either (a) watch a few YouTube vids that show them how it’s done, or (b) hire a handyperson to do these small fixes, knowing they shouldn’t be too terribly costly.

And even on the larger repairs, your home inspector might be able to give you a few referrals to the plumbers, electricians or roofers you’ll need to get bids from during your contingency period, which you may be able to use to negotiate with your home’s seller, and to get the work done after you own the place.  Dropping the inspector’s name might get you an appointment booked with the urgency you need it order to get your repair bids and estimates in hand before your contingency or objection period expires.

And same goes for any further inspections they recommend – if neither you nor your agent knows a specialist, ask the general home inspector for a few referrals.

3.  If this was your house, what would you fix, and when?  Your home inspector’s job is to point out everything, within the scope of the inspection, that might need repair, replacement, maintenance or further inspection – or seems like it might be on its last leg.  But they also tend to be experienced enough with homes to know that no home is perfect.  Many times, I’ve asked this question about an item the inspector described as “at the end of its serviceable lifetime” and had them say, “I wouldn’t do a thing to it. Just know that it could break in the next 5 months, or in the next 5 years.  And keep your home warranty in effect, because that should cover it when it does break.”

This question positions your home inspector to help you:

  • understand what does and doesn’t need to be repaired,
  • prioritize the work you plan to do to your home (and budget or negotiate with the seller accordingly),
  • get used to the constant maintenance that is part and parcel of homeownership, and
  • understand the importance of having a home warranty plan.

4.  Can you point that out to me? Often, when you attend the home inspection, you’ll be multi-tasking, taking pictures of the interior, measuring for drapes or furniture, even meeting the neighbors, or fielding several inspectors at a time.  Worst case scenario is to get home, open up the inspector’s report and have no clue whatsoever what he or she was referring to when they called out the wax ring that needs replacement or the temperature-pressure release valve that is improperly installed.

Your best bet is to, at the end of the inspection and while you’re all still in the property, just ask the inspector to take 10 or 15 minutes and walk you through the place, pointing out all the items they’ve noted need repair, maintenance or further inspection.  When you get the report, then, you’ll know what and where the various items belong. (One more best practice is to choose an inspector who takes digital pictures and inserts them into their reports!)

5.  Can you show me how to work that? Many home inspectors are delighted to show you how to operate various mechanical or other systems in your home, and will walk you through the steps of operating everything from your thermostat, to your water heater, to your stove and dishwasher – and especially the emergency shutoffs for your gas, water and electrical utilities.  This one single item is such a time and stress saver it alone is worth the lost income of missing a day of work to attend your inspections.

Heartland Village-Staten Island,NY,Everything You Need To Know!

Heartland Village is a residential development located close to the geographic center of Staten Island, one of the five boroughs of New York City, USA.  Given its geographic location the Heartland Village community has grown rapidly into one of the most desirable areas to reside in. It boarders on the only Mall Staten Island has with such major retail store as Macy’s, J C Penny, Sears an a host of other upscale retailers. Want a great bagel with breakfast?  Heartland Village has several of the best bagel stores the Island offers, just like the ones you may have visited in Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan or elsewhere. Those commuters who drive to and from work in Manhattan can appreciate the variety of routes that can be taken to avoid traffic congestion. Many commuters are unaware of the forgot bridge “The Bayonne Bridge” which takes you towards the Holland tunnel a huge time saver.

For additional information about Heartland Village-Staten Island NY or to view properties for sale contact

Jeffrey Metzger at 646-509-8813 or visit my website

Appleseed Homes

Appleseed Home’s history dates back to 1977, when it was founded as an independent real estate office on Staten Island by broker/owner Henry Setaro. During that time, our organization was the recipient of multiple awards for excellence in productivity on the local, national, and international levels, as well as being recognized for superior customer service.

Through our pioneering marketing strategies, which have included print media, cable tv, web exposure, mailing campaigns, and innovative programs which include our extensive internet marketing, we have expanded to become a major force in the real estate marketplace today.

We are currently Staten Island’s, largest and most successful realty organization, with six state-of the art locations and a sales force of over 150 professional associates. Additionally, we have locations in Brooklyn and Queens.

We are members of the Staten Island Board of Realtors (SIBOR), the Long Island Board of Realtors (LIBOR), the Bay Ridge/Bensonhurst Multiple Listing Service (MLS), and the Brooklyn MLS. This combined coverage offers unparalleled exposure for both sellers and buyers alike, as well as for sales associates seeking maximum opportunities for success.

Our affiliation with MortgageLinks, a licensed New York State mortgage bank, give our customers and clients access to the most competitive rates and program available today, and paves the way for a smooth transaction.

In brief, we offer what no other agency can – total service at competitive rates, backed by a proven track record of success. Whether selling, buying, renting, or relocating, contact us to see what we can do for you!