Monday, January 11, 2016

Is It Your Time To Buy !

Many of my rental clients will often ask me for my advice when it comes to them renting or should they take the steps to purchase their first home. There are some specific questions you have to ask yourself when your deciding to rent or to buy. 

Do you have enough work history ? You don’t need to have worked at the same place but you will want to have worked steadily for about 2 years for most loans, if your applying with a co-signer than your work history can be a bit less if the other person has a good work history.

How is your credit ? The average credit score to be able to obtain a mortgage is about 625, running your own credit to make sure you don’t have too much outstanding debt is helpful and it can also help you correct any information that might not have updated on your report.

What kind of savings do you have ? There are costs that you will have to be able to meet to purchase starting with the down payment, and closing costs but you also home inspections and an attorney.

How much time do you have ? If your currently in a rental and your landlord is not open to you staying on a month-month basis you may not want to rush into a purchase because of those kinds of time constraints. 

Here is a great tool that Realtor.Com provides to help you decide if financially would be better suited to continue renting or making your first purchase ! Rent Vs Buy Calculator

There are also ways around the financing is some instances, there are options of grants, down payment assistance, flexible mortgage options that can put buyers in a perfect position to buy.

State/Town Grants - These are most common in Condo Developments where the State/Town is paying a large portion of the mortgage. 

Down Payment Assistance - There are some programs that will match what you are able to put down on a home, or larger programs that allow your down payment to come from your loan without paying interest on that down payment.
Mortgage Options - You have many different mortgage options you can add sellers concessions to help with closing costs, or choose a loan that is interest only, you also have mortgages that increase your payments as it progresses allowing you to pay more when you financially will be able to. 

Of course their are pro’s and con’s to both so here are a few that you should think about when your deciding which is a better fit for you ! 
Pro’s Of Buying
Creative Control - You won’t have the limitations of decor since it will be your own home to do what you would like. 
Investment - You are investing in your future with the current market conditions, buying will put you in a great position in the future.
Tax Breaks - You have the ability to take deductions that you ordinarily do not get simply just paying rent, even property tax has exemptions for just living in your home, and veterans as well. 
Pro’s Of Renting
Flexibility - You have the option to move around into different areas, this is important for those who maybe are thinking about switching jobs you can move where your work actually is, moving for those who own can be more difficult.
Less Maintenance - The responsibility of general maintenance in most cases does not fall on you, those details are handled by someone else.

Signature Premier Properties Hosts Freedom Mortgage (Continental Home Loans) Homebuyers Seminar on January 27th to review in detail the process of buying, and all the financing options that are available. All are welcome to attend this is event, and a detailed blog will follow to give everyone the additional details ! Be sure to check the event out on our Facebook page ! Home Buyers Seminar 

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

What Are Styles Of Homes For Sale !

Looking on MLS for a home can be an overwhelming task, so many options are presented on the search that you may not want to limit your results ! As realtors we tend to know what styles to pull for clients based on their wants and needs simply because we know what to look for, this blog will help you narrow your search on these sites and tips to make sure you don't miss "the one"! 

Styles: With these websites often will list dozens of styles because they cover such a large area, if your narrowing by style this list contains all styles used by Realtors on Long Island for these sites. 

Antique/Historical         Bungalow             Bungalow 
Colonial                        Contemporary       Cottage
Ranch/Exp Ranch         Cape/Exp Cape     Duplex
Farm Ranch                  Hi Ranch               Ranch/Expanded Ranch 
Splits                            Splanch                  Traditional
Tudor                           Victorian                2 Story 

Characteristics: These will help you find the home that will suite you the best allowing you to narrow by style, remember only use this if the layout is a "must have" 

Starter Homes (Comparable to sq.ft of Condo/Co-op)

Bedrooms All On One Floor 

Colonial                                  Contemporary
Farm Ranch                            Hi Ranch
Ranch/Expanded Ranch         Splits
Bedrooms Separate from Entertaining Areas
Cape/Expanded Cape             Colonial 
Contemporary                        Farm Ranch 
Splits                                      Splanch

Master Bedroom Suites On Separate Level 
Expanded Capes 

Legal Income Potential 
Hi Ranch

Historical Home (Built Prior to 1950) 

Tips For MLS: There are actually some very simply things that buyers will do during the search that are limiting their search results and you won't realize it.  

  • Eat In Kitchen - Many homes do not in reality have "eat-in kitchens" they actually have formal dining rooms in close proximity which gives the appearance of an eat in kitchen.  Normally I recommend buyers not use the offered preference - rather go by the pictures ! 
  • Wood Floors - If your ok with having original wood floors that need to be refinished this is not an option you want to specify - listing agents can only say "yes" to this if they are exposed ! 
  • Basements - If your looking for a home that is similar to a high ranch - that using the basement requirement will actually reduce your criteria - these homes are not considered to have a basement rather it is considered "first floor & second floor" 

Friday, August 7, 2015

Old Meets New

Many of my readers know that I truly am intrigued by historical homes, the charm of these homes come from the stories the walls could tell, the treasures found in a homes antique fixtures and woodwork give you the feeling of a different time and place.  The owners of this estate began planning for this home years before it was even built, with inspiration taken from the homes of Harry Knapp who owned estates in East Islip in the early 1900's -  the Creekside Estate as well as the more well known Brookwood.

Arriving at the estate you are greeted by nature, the tree lined driveway that winds past the front cottage instantly puts you in a different place, this is not your ordinary estate.  The cottage which boasts a full kitchen, living room, bathroom, 2 bedrooms, and private garage is not overwhelming in its appearance but fits it's surrounding perfectly ! The courtyard is lined with well manicured bushes and trees that soften the facade of the 1800 sq ft. main house.  The home was built in 2002 and took over 3 years to be completed, the builder began with a steel frame and than added the wood structure over the steel.

Walking into this homes entry you can see details that make this house not only a great home for the family who resides in it, but the impeccable attention to detail the tradesman who helped create this masterpiece put into there work.  During conversation with the family, you can sense the appreciation they have for all of the work these tradesman and the pride they have for their home.

The builder wanted the home to have an area that was formal, and an area that was more informal to make this separation he chose to do it with the flooring style.  Hardwood floors made of triple herringbone with mahogany details can be found through-out the entire formal area of the home, large mahogany windows & doors.  A wide staircase with a custom made mahogany banister & detailed woodwork leads up to the 2nd floor and gives you an unexpected surprise.  A small cut-out above the foyer front door allows you access to the widows walk and a view of the front grounds and courtyard.

Keeping the home feeling warm and welcoming was important to these homeowners, and you can feel it in the attention to details like the slight curve and seating area that overlooks the entry hall with a view of the Bevian Crystal chandelier purchased from a antique dealer in Great Neck.

The library is located in the formal area of the home at the west end featuring 12' ceilings, Walnut built-ins and paneling,  Your view through the 2 sets of Mahogany french doors lead out to a small patio & garden.  A gift from the owners wife was the fireplace mantle imported from England from the 1820's for the gas fireplace.  Across from the library is a formal study with a wood burning fireplace, 12' ceilings and plush furnishings.  From this part of the home you can also see one of this homes most talked about features, the 5 arches.

The 5 arches is a view that simply can not be described in words, stretching from the formal part of the home to the informal home with no obstructions.  The formal living room is the center of this home flanked on each side with large pillars.  The fireplace mantle that was commissioned and made in Italy of white marble to fit an antique fireplace screen is the perfect combination of the new and the old giving it the charm of a home rather than just a house.

This combination of the new and the old can be found in almost each room of this home.  The formal dining room has 2 service entrances that feature the hardware from the estate of Creekside Manor, large french doors from the entry hall, a custom mahogany & herringbone wood floor laid in individual pieces, coved ceiling and custom lighting give you the sense that this room could have been from another era rather than from a home that is less than 15 years old.

The one room that is usually not as grand in many historical homes is the kitchen, these were normally small and not seen by guests. This homes kitchen is the families & friends gathering space and combines the outdoor & indoor living spaces with floor to ceiling windows and french doors leading out to the place where the family spend the most time the brick patio & private garden.   Top of the line stainless steel appliances, sub-zero refrigeration are just some of the features in the chefs kitchen.  The kitchen flooring was brought in from the Carolinas and chosen for its wide wooden planks and extends into the eating area which is home to the homeowners favorite piece: a Rumsford word burning fireplace.

When this 3 story home was built both homeowner and builder wanted the bones of this home to be strong enough to stand the test of time, but also the Long Island whether.   The home was built with both a basement & a 5' crawl space with grounding rods from the peak of the home down to the crawlspace through the 5 chimneys.  The home has a generator that can power the entire house, and a 300 ft well in case of emergency but is the constant source for the 16 zone sprinkler system.

The informal area of the home is just as breathtaking and will remind you of a country villa, the builder chose a slate/blue stone for the flooring which leads from a small sitting room to the conservatory which is enclosed with floor to ceiling windows & a custom diamond skylight.  There is a large walk-in pantry, 1/2 bath, laundry room, access to the basement, and a additional 2 car garage.  Above the informal living area is a 2nd area for guest to stay if they want to be in the main house with a small kitchenette, sitting room, bedroom and full bath this area overlooks a vegetable & fruit garden.  

The 2nd floor is where all of the bedrooms are located 1 on the west side of the home featuring walk-in closets, 10' ceilings, fireplace, full bath and views of the greenhouse and the library garden.  The other 2 guest bedrooms also share the features of the other but they chose a full Jack & Jill style bathroom with pocket doors for these bedrooms which overlook the vegetable garden & docks.  Another feature that was inspired by Creekside and lifesaver as described by the homeowner is the small sink and storage area tucked away in one of the closets, this was her favorite feature of the Creekside home and a must have in her new home!

The master bedroom suite is exquisite with its large four poster bed and bay window seating area that gives you views of Champlins Creek and all the gardens that surround the home.  Champlins Creek is special because it has been maintained only by nature and those who are lucky enough to share it's shores enjoy the tranquility that it brings to their homes.  This master bedroom suite also has 2 walk-in closets, sitting room, and a full bath with a steam shower.

Finishing the 3rd floor was actually competed recently and was not done at the time of the original construction although the builder did have it ready for heating and air conditioning just in case !  The homeowners installed hardwood floors, cathedral ceilings, 2 cedar closets, and additional walk-in closets leaving a large open area for them to gather and relax !

This estate sits on  2.5 acres of property and the homeowners took just as much care when creating the outdoor entertaining areas as they did on the inside.  Making sure they protected the wildlife that resides in the area as well as protecting the expansive gardens & patios that were built.  The entire main house is surrounded by large iron gates & brickwork that allow full view of the grounds & Champlins Creek without any of obstruction but protects the deer and other wildlife.  The greenhouse & attached shed house all of the weather sensitive flowers during the winter months.

Of course no estate would be complete without the in-ground pool & jacuzzi but again they did not want the focus of this area to be over the top or flashy -  the pool area & brick patio for entertaining is enclosed by manicured shrubs and the pool house is shaded by large trees.  The pool house has a full bath, kitchen and seating area with large french doors looking out onto the property as well as the gas lines run for an additional fireplace.  If you prefer to be on the water rather than simply looking at the view their is over 100' feet of bulkhead, 2 pier styled docks, a floating dock and a lift.

This home is currently being sold privately for $3.9 million, and for the privacy of the homeowners the specific address is not disclosed.  If you would like additional about this home or additional photos contact The Matchmaker.

Monday, June 8, 2015

What You Should Know About MLS !

Specializing in expired listings one of the most common complaints I hear is the sellers "didn't like their listings".  I've written plenty of blogs reminding homeowners they are the boss but there is one entity higher up than the homeowner when it comes to your listing and it is the multiple listing service better known as MLS !

Many homeowners are unaware of certain rules when it comes to the listing and how they enforce these regulations.  There is also a separate entity that enforces actions of real estate agents and brokers which is the "ethics committee" but for this blog we will be focused on MLS regulations.  


  • First rule of MLS you must post a picture within 10 days of the home being listed.  If it is not MLS will be more than happy to take the picture for you and a hefty charge to your agent will be attached ! Keep in mind this will only be one picture and chances are not the best allowing your agent to keep an exclusive while waiting for pictures to be taken (hopefully by a professional) is the best way to deal with this.
  • Another regulation is the amount of photos and what it is allowed to contain.  While most homes do not get near the max limit higher end homes often can - MLS will only allow up to 20 photos per listing.    Signage is not permitted in any of the photos also "branding" is not permitted in any virtual tours.  
  • Let's take a moment and discuss one thing that should not actually become a regulation !  If your agent is taking pictures please relocate your animals so they are not in the photo, I'm an animal lover but they do not need to be the stars of your listing ! That being said if your agent takes photos with you in them you should find a new listing agent, this is one of a realtors pet peeves its up there with no photos at all!

Your Listing Description 

  • Biggest complaint I hear is homeowners want more information on the description, unfortunately sometimes it is just not possible to fit everything.  There is a character that we can not change.  In order to fit as much information as we can often abbreviations will be used this is not a lazy realtor or office staff tactic this is the way we are able to really describe the property !  Now some may take this to the extreme so I will give a brief list of common abbreviations.   EIK, LR, FDR, CAC, IGS 
  • This is also an area where agents are not allowed to put any information that will direct buyers to the listing agent.  The only way for the agent to get potential buyers to contact them directly is on sites in which they are able to be branded ! You will need to discuss with your Realtor prior to listing what websites that they will be branding.  


  • You may not think MLS couldn't possibly control how or when your listing is shown but they most definitely do ! Any home that is listed must be available to be shown within a timely manner.  Keep this in mind when your reviewing the showing instructions which you should be reviewing with your agent prior to signing anything ! 
  • If any home is unable to be shown for more than 10 days must be removed from MLS, there are times when you may not be available for a few days which is why the 10 days is allowed.  If your in need of this kind of break your agent can place it on TOM status on MLS with a date for showings to begin again which is important for other agents to know ! 
Any Changes Regarding Extensions or Price Changes 
  • This is more than likely the one thing that drives homeowners a bit crazy - simply verbally telling your agent you want to extend or change the price of their home is not an option.  MLS will randomly audit listings and if we do not have the "Report of Change" filed simply saying it was done verbally will not suffice.  For legal reasons this is also a protection for the seller that the listing can not be changed without them being aware of it.  

Now there are certain items that MLS will send to the ethics committee but homeowners should know about so they know if their listing is in compliance !

  • Financing  Terms - Unless your looking at a new development condo/co-op you will only be able to ask for a additional pre-approval ! You can not force a buyer to use a specific company for financing.  
  • Directions - This is another pet peeve for Realtors - if your agent writes "See Mapquest" or "Google Maps" they are illegal and is an ethics issue your agent must write actual directions ! 
  • Show Instructions - They can not include phrases like "Don't Bother Showing If ........ " that is an ethics violation ! This is the area to put if their is notice required or agent needs to accompany ! 
For the PDF File which includes all MLS Rules & Regulations Download Here

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Did You Wait Too Long To List ?

Many homeowners are seeing the high activity of homes coming on the market and how they are immediately coming off the market, many with multiple offers of list price and in many cases higher. Those same homeowners are now wondering .... is it to late to list ?  This blog will help you get your home listed and what you should look for to be one of those "sold" homes !

Make Sure You Choose The Right Agent ! 

  • This is always important but if when selling your home you need to also buy a home you will want to make sure that not only can your agent list your home but have the ability to work for you as a buyers agent.  
  • If your looking into re-locating outside of the area than you will not only want a good agent but a good company with offices & locations outside of Long Island.  Always remember in real estate the "last name" of the company is what matters ! 
Make Sure Your Realistic ! 
  • Before you put your home on the market, you should call a mortgage representative, once you know what you will be able to look for on the "buy side".  Just like inventory is low and your home well sell quickly if it is properly priced and marketed you will also be experiencing a very active competition of buyers ! 
  • If all goes well you will be okay with the inventory and ok with the competition of buyers.  Next you need to have a time-frame for when you want to be in your new home ! This is where working with an agent for both to make it a seamless transaction is important.  If you have flexibility of time and are ok with a small relocation in between this is something you must share with your agent.  
Get Ready To Move ! 
  • Any good agent will want to move quickly, but be sure not to forget that you still must be providing buyers with a complete listing ! Your listing is the groundwork for a successful sale and without it you will not see the results that you may be expecting.  You can find a full blog dedicated on what goes into a full listing here
  • Normally we tell homeowners that de-cluttering is a good idea, but with inventory moving quickly I suggest rather than decluttering you begin your move.  Many people do not want to pack twice looking into storage units or pods for items you know you will not need during the summer season can often time help sellers who want to make a quick transition.  
  • You should also prepare yourself for showings and open houses.  Make sure you find a realtor that you are comfortable with being in your home.  This will help make all those calls easier simply by you not having to be home for all of them ! You will also be spending a lot of time finding your new home so you will have the ability to have the time for shopping rather than showing ! 
If you are still considering selling your home than take the first step and have a Comparative Market Analysis done on your home ! This is the first step and if you choose a Full Service Brokerage than it is still possible than come the fall you can be in your dream home ! 

Monday, May 11, 2015

Why Are The Comparable Homes So Important ?

Often times sellers are confused/concerned about why a real estate agent is so focused on the comparable homes in the area.  This blog will hopefully explain why we must pay attention to them but also why they set the price range for your home !

The Bank & Your Buyer Will Use Them Not Only The Realtors - In realty your realtor will not just have to sell your house to the buyer but it is our job to make sure that come time for appraisal you will not encounter any additional hurtles.

  • Once you have gotten a buyer they will often be utilizing a Buyers Broker.  Any well educated Buyers Broker will be advising their buyers on the price to offer for the home, and they will do this by pulling comparable sales in your homes area.  Typically these agents will bring in higher offers than a buyer who is basing it on "gut feeling".  
  • The bank will also be using these homes, and the guidelines for which comparable homes are also very important.  The general rule is homes of the same style, within a mile of the home, closed or under contract within the past 90 days.  
When Will The Bank Use Comparables Homes That DO NOT meet the general guideline.  
  • Realtor, Buyers, Or Seller - None of us will be able to ask/tell the appraiser to use particular comps.  Although we will often suggest which ones they should use - but keep in mind they do not have to use them and some appraisers prefer finding the comparable homes on their own.  
  • If there is homes of similar style and correct area whether you like it or not those are going to be used.  They will give credits/debits for items that may not be the same between the 2 but they will never just not use them at all.  Unfortunately many homeowners will think just because the home is not in the same exact that they will be entitled to go outside those guidelines which is not the case.   
  • There are some cases where they will go outside of the area BUT when they do this they will do so in increments.  From 1 mile they will look in small increments so making sure you do also is important - jumping from looking at the 1 mile mark to even jumping to 2.5 miles is not a good idea because they bank will start looking outside the area only in 1/2 mile increments.  
What If I'm In A "Niche" Area, and Not Many Sales Are Available ? 
  • This is something we run into quite often here on Long Island.  There are specific areas that might not be large but pricing runs significantly different.  Some examples are South Of Montauk, Villages, & Waterfront Communities.  
  • When you are in these areas you will want to keep a close on eye on the homes that are currently on the market.   The appraiser might look at these to find the value of your home, but also the homes that come off and go under contract will be a sign not only for the appraiser but for the homeowner to see where the buyers are seeing the value of the home.  
What If It Doesn't Appraise Can An Appraisal Be Re-Done ? The answer to these questions is unfortunately different for both buyer & a seller. 
  •  For a buyer a home not appraising is an issue that can give them the right to not purchase the home for the agreed upon price.  This means they have the right to re-negotiate or walk away with the down payment that you otherwise would have gotten to keep if they had breached the contract.  
  • There are of course times where the appraiser is just downright incorrect but not all banks will allow for a 2nd appraisal to be done just because you disagree with the appraiser.  They specifically began using 3rd party appraisers to make sure they had a non-biased party doing the research.  
  • Most buyers will not want a 2nd appraisal done if after looking through it the appraiser was accurate with all the information.   If the appraiser was inaccurate which does happens a 2nd might be able to be order but it will be additional funds and time - sellers are unfortunately not entitled to a copy of the appraisal.  
These issue may seem "daunting" but the good news is they are all avoidable.  By listening to your agent and basing your price not on emotion but the facts you will be able to avoid all these possible issues ! 

Monday, April 27, 2015

Set Your Home Up For Success With Power Pricing !

The inventory has been much lower than expected and going into the full spring season we are slowly starting to see homes come back onto the market.  Many of these homes are taking advantage of a strategy that Coldwell Banker Residential has created an entire marketing plan for called "Power Pricing".  This blog will discuss how you go about find the right price for this strategy and what the benefits are ! 

Creating Your "Power Price" 

  • As with any sale you will of course be provided a complete CMA for your home.  You will receive the range where you home falls based on the comparable homes selling price.  This will normally be a $10,000 - $15,000 range of numbers depending on the area sometimes it can be a bit more on higher end homes.  
  • You will also look at the homes that are on the market but with a bit more detail.  Power pricing  is very much about being better than your competition.  In a perfect market all the homes will be priced within 1% - 2% of one another in which case power pricing would be from 3% - 5% under their values.  In a case where there is a larger range of pricing than looking at detailed views of each, and putting your home in price range where you are able to see the value in your home vs theirs is really where you want your home to be priced, but never where your home has less value.  
Creating Your Power Price Listing - The power pricing strategy is not all about the price, you can price it incredibly aggressive but if it is hard to show, or does not have a complete listing you will not see the results that it can offer. 

  •  Make sure your listing is full with complete photos of all the rooms in the home, also include information in the description that buyers look for.  Ex: Taxes W/Star, Upgrades Not Visible Like Sprinkler Systems, Age Of Appliances & Structures 
  • Pictures, pictures & more pictures ! This is extremely important, you want to show every room that is in your home.  Any room left out can make a buyer think "that's why the price is so low".  Make sure that the pictures are not only there but are of good quality ! Take the time to de-clutter and ask your Realtor if they have some staging tips that they think might enhance your home.  
  • Your home is going to begin to have a lot of "traffic" through those doors which can make homeowners apprehensive.  The traffic is the entire point to "power pricing" if your not able to accommodate the showings than having your Realtor accompany with a key, or convenient open houses are key ! 
Put Your Home & Town On Display ! 
  • When Coldwell Banker created the power pricing strategy we wanted to make sure that it was obvious to the buyers.  Additional advertising is given to these listings to make sure they got the exposure.  Also making sure your listing is branded with not only the power pricing information, but your realtors information is another key aspect, your realtors job is to make sure those buyers get in to see that home  ! 
  • You want to make the buyers viewing memorable, and in most cases the homes large amount of showings will often have potential buyers meeting in the driveway but you must make sure that you make it more than that.  Making sure that they are getting all the information they might need/want gets to them quickly will make them comfortable coming in with a higher price, and quickly ! This includes information about the school district, transportation, or even day cares in the area.  For this I have created a buyers packet which includes all the information in a town newsletter.  
The benefits of power pricing are all in the numbers these home almost always sell for full price, if not above within 30 - 45 days.  The most important advice I give to my homeowners that are deciding to use this method is that they can always say no ! Their inevitably will be buyers that are not up to date on the area or are not using a Realtor, these buyers might still come in lower than the asking price.  In any real estate negotiation you have the right to simply say no.  Never let the fear of low offers scare you off from aggressively marketing your home to the serious buyers who want your home !