Brooklyn News & Real Estate Trends 

You’ll find our blog to be a wealth of information, covering everything from local market statistics and home values to community happenings. That’s because we care about the community and want to help you find your place in it. Please reach out if you have any questions at all. We’d love to talk with you!

Dec. 4, 2018

Interior Design Trends in Real Estate

If you’re looking to either buy or sell a home in the new year, it’s important to be on top of the latest trends within interior design. This is essential for real estate agents to be aware of to stay ahead of the design curve in staging homes as well as hiring interior designers. With the holiday season approaching, it's time to look forward to 2019. Here are some of the most important trends you can expect to see in the coming year.

The Overturn of Trends Slowing Down
Trying to gauge when a trend has run its course can be a difficult decision to make. Trends are temporary, and at their peak, they can become outdated in as little as a season. But both housing and renovation costs are rising, and that looks like it isn't going to be changing anytime soon. As a result, interior design trends are starting to stick around a lot longer, and homeowners are looking to expand upon the pallets and decor they currently utilize within their homes.

More Modular Spaces
The increase in housing costs means that many residents are looking to do more with less. The notion of convertible dwellings might be coming back in a big way. That could include Murphy beds and movable walls that allow you to use any given room in multiple ways, but it also means maximizing your appliances and furniture with multi-use built-ins. Homeowners will be looking at design trends that add functionality to their home rather than focusing exclusively on aesthetics.

Moody Green is the New Black
Forget muted peaches, creams, and off-white in the coming year. PPG Paint has announced that the interior color of the year is a bold and dark shade of green known as Night Watch. This jade-like hue may be on the dark end of the spectrum, but interior designers see it having a diverse functionality in households. It can be used equally as well as an accent color or as a primary color that adds a sense of space and a natural vibe to increasingly artificial seeming interiors.

Houses With a Sense of Comfort
As people's work lives become more and more hectic, they're beginning to look at their homes as a sense of solace and peace. That means focusing on interior designs that stimulate all of the senses in a peaceful manner. It's one of the reasons why Night Watch green is looking to be so popular, but it can also involve the incorporation of warm colors, furniture with softer textures, and homey scents like citrus and pumpkin.

Interior design trends for the new year are incorporating homeowners and renters with living spaces of all sizes. No matter if you are looking to sell your home or just update your decor, you can follow the newest trends that are starting to stick around longer.

Nov. 8, 2018

Must See Attractions in Brooklyn

Tourists flock to New York City in droves each year. Residents know that the best Brooklyn attractions rank high among New York's must-see destinations. The next time you're in the city, make sure to add these stops to your Brooklyn itinerary.

The Brooklyn Bridge

Although it's no longer the largest suspension bridge in the world, the Brooklyn Bridge will always be an iconic landmark. Whether you’re traveling by car, foot, or bike, you'll experience stunning views of Brooklyn Heights and lower Manhattan.

Prospect Park

Prospect Park is a beautiful location for soaking up the sunshine and getting in touch with nature. You can take a guided hike to explore the ravine and wild herbs. Prospect Park also hosts free concerts all summer long.

Brooklyn Museum

This 560,000 square foot museum is the first American museum to display African artwork as objects. There are over 4,000 items to view in the Egyptian holdings, and pieces created by Monet, Degas, and Cezanne. There is also an entire section dedicated to feminist art.

Brooklyn Flea Market

This isn't your ordinary flea market, it's an elevated vintage-shopping experience. The Brooklyn Flea market has grown into one of New York's top attractions. Here you'll find collectibles, furniture, antiques, and a curated section of art, jewelry, and crafts.

Brooklyn Botanic Garden

If you're interested in some quiet time, the Brooklyn Botanic Garden is the place for you. Close to The Brooklyn Museum and Prospect Park, it features hundreds of varieties of flora spread out over 50 acres.

Brooklyn Heights Promenade

The pedestrian walkway provides picturesque views of the Brooklyn Bridge, the East River, Downtown Manhattan, and the Statue of Liberty. Rollerbladers, walkers, and joggers choose this destination for its quiet atmosphere. The Brooklyn Heights Promenade is lined with mansions, and grand townhomes, and is part of Brooklyn’s first Historic Preservation District.

Brooklyn Academy Of Music (BAM)

The Brooklyn Academy of Music is a multi-arts center that features emerging artists and out-of-town companies engaging both local and global communities. It has world-renowned programming in music, theater, opera, dance, and film. The Brooklyn Academy of Music is widely-known for its cutting-edge performances and broad array of aesthetic and cultural programs. There are over 200 stage performances every year and a four-screen cinema that features new movies and repertory films.

 

Oct. 5, 2018

Humans Aren't The Only Thing Getting Smarter: Houses Are Too

It's hard to believe, but only 10 years ago, smart light bulbs and thermostats started cropping up in homes. It was the first taste of the futuristic homes we've been waiting for since The Jetsons. It was easy to see why they caught on so quickly. While home buyers were amazed by these advances in technology, they don't hold a candle to what smart homes are capable of now. 

With all of the advances in smart technology, we aren't just working with timed programs but intuitive devices that can respond to our voices. You can now do things like lock your home, start your laundry, turn off lights, or start a vacuum cleaner all from your devices. You don't even have to be home to do it.

These smart features can even learn and adjust to your habits, allowing them to "predict" what will be helpful with your lifestyle. Imagine coming home after a busy day and having your home greet you, turn on the lights, start the coffee maker, and put on some of your favorite music. Smart homes can already do that and more. 

What distinguishes smart homes from homes with smart devices is the nature of communication; devices in a smart home—from dishwashers to entertainment systems—are capable of communicating signals and information between each other, which allows them to adapt and predict your habits.

 

Ecobee4 Smart Thermostat

The Ecobee4 Smart Thermostat is a prime example of the kind of communicative technology found in a smart home. Not only does the device react to its environment by using a remote sensor to gauge the temperature, but it can be connected to Google Assistant and Amazon’s Alexa, which allows it to access external information and provide the same service that those independent devices offer. This thermostat is highly rated because of its innovative technology which entails multiple sensors to assess temperature and occupancy, and it adjusts the temperature accordingly.

 

August Smart Lock

Another example of smart home technology is the August Smart Lock, which provides home security as its name suggests. Though this lock is not compatible with every deadbolt, it does possess the ability to connect with Siri and Apple’s HomeKit, which allows the user to interact with and control connected devices from nearly any location. This lock permits users to ensure their homes are safe and secure no matter how far away they are. It can also connect with other devices that use Xfinity Home, Nest, or Logitech Harmony, which further enhances the device’s network.

 

Phillips Hue Starter Kit

Other devices such as the Phillips Hue Starter Kit, which enables wireless control of light brightness and power, and the highly rated iRobot Roomba i7, one of the most recent iterations of the Roomba family which features WiFi connectivity and smartphone controls, all function in the guise of a smart home, communicating with other devices and networks in order to simplify your home life and complete tasks more efficiently.

The integration of smart homes is still a process, and though many homes make use of some smart devices, the network of communication between devices is often lacking. Smart devices have already affected how we navigate our lives. Someday, smart homes will revolutionize the way we think about technology and everyday tasks. With the steady influx of innovation and technological development, that future may be nearer than we think!

Sept. 17, 2018

The Best Food in Brooklyn Right Now

 

As the hottest borough in the New York City metropolitan area, Brooklyn has attracted some of the best restaurants in the city. The unique vibe of Brooklyn is the ideal launching ground for a variety of eclectic food and drink offerings.

Here are six of the best new offerings in Brooklyn:

 

SIENA RISTORANTE BAR

Open your palate to fine kosher wine and genuine Italian recipes at Siena Ristorante Bar. In collaboration with award-winning Chef Mark Strausman, the menu offers whole-grilled fish, house-made pastas, pizza and more! If you’re looking for the best of Italy in little ol’ Brooklyn, this is the place to be.

 

OXOMOCO

Greenpoint's new taco destination is the love child of Justin Bazdarich and Chris Walton. The authentic corn tortillas hail directly from Mexico, creating the perfect conduit for all of the unique fillings such as lamb barbacoa and soft shell crab. Just when you think you cannot stomach anymore, you will catch a glimpse of the massive desserts and want to make room for more.

 

DAVID'S RESTAURANT

Located on Kings Highway, David’s offers some of Brooklyn’s best Glatt Kosher, Mid-Eastern and Israeli cuisine. Their menu consists of wide variety from appetizers and soups, to breakfast, entrees, sandwiches and more. The best part about this place? They deliver! David’s also offers incredible catering, giving you great food for your private parties.

 

BAR BEAU

This trendy spot masquerades as a cafe during the day but comes alive at night as a hip cocktail bar. Owner Claire Chan uses a variety of Japanese influences to create a menu featuring udon noodles and cocktails infused with miso honey and black sesame. Coffee and food offerings from local favorites Ovenly and Bien Cuit draw in the morning crowds.

 

CAFE RENAISSANCE

A popular spot in the borough, Cafe Renaissance is a delectable Italian Kosher restaurant. Dine in at a chic table with white table cloths or place your order online. Customer’s say this place never disappoints! You can’t beat the decent prices for a business that started over 33 years ago. Pizza anyone?

 

GLADY'S JERK CENTER

Experience the bursting flavors and colorful vibe of the Caribbean in this Prospect-Lefferts Gardens restaurant and bar. Serving a variety of classic island dishes such as jerk chicken, curry goat, and Guyanese chow mein, this spot also boasts some of the most innovative frozen drinks in the city.

 

SOFREH

Nasim Alikhani brings Brooklyn a taste of Persian food in this new restaurant located in Prospect Heights. Diners begin the culinary adventure with freshly-baked bread offered with yogurt dipping sauces. Entrees include braised lamb shank and smoked eggplant, giving diners a cornucopia of unique flavors.

 

Posted in Food and Drink
Aug. 27, 2018

12 steps involved in buying a house

The original NBC New article can be found here: www.nbcnews.com...

It’s as easy as 1, 2, 3. And then 4 through 12. But here are - roughly - the steps you'll probably encounter.

Your brother-in-law may have different ideas about the order we've come up with. Your real estate agent or lawyer may add a few steps here or there. Through it all, keep in mind that while there are common milestones in most home sales, there’s no such thing as a “routine” real estate transaction. Each one usually has a few twists or turns – some little and some not so little. The basic steps are designed to protect buyer and seller from surprises that end up sending the deal badly off the rails.

You also need to take responsibility for keeping the process running smoothly. Even though you’re paying fees to an attorney and a mortgage broker – and the agent is getting a fee from the seller – these folks are working on multiple transactions and things sometime slip through the cracks.  As you proceed, ask how long each step should take. You (usually) don’t need to badger these players to keep things moving. But if you haven’t heard back at various stages along your timeline, call and find out how things are going.

We’re also assuming you gotten past the “nibbling” stage – reading the paper, maybe going to an open house or two - and you’re ready to get serious. So treat these as general guidelines.

Step 1: Go shopping for a mortgage. It may seem backwards to shop for a mortgage before you shop for the house, but there are several reasons for doing this. First, you’ll find our how much you can borrow, which has a lot to do with how much house you can buy. Be careful not to let the lender you push you into a monthly payment you don’t feel comfortable with. There are no “rules” here – only you know how much you can comfortably handle. (For more on this, check this week's Video Answer Desk .)

It’s okay to be a little stretched, at least at first. Most people “grow into” their mortgage payments. But it’s also very easy to get in over your head. Stay away from “alternative” loans – like interest only mortgages. If the value of the house goes down after you buy it (not unreasonable in today’s market) you’ll end up owing the bank more than the house is worth.

Shopping for a mortgage will also help if you can get “pre-approved” for the amount you’d like to borrow. This means the lender has looked over your credit and financial statement and agreed to lend you the money. Sellers like pre-approved buyers because there’s less risk the deal won’t go through.

Step 2: Find a good lawyer. Ask around. Check them out on the Web. Make sure you at least talk to them on the phone and ask them how much they charge: this should be a fixed fee. Ask as many questions as you can, but you probably away won’t get more than 5-10 minutes. Lawyers bill by the hour, so they don’t like to give time for free. You’re looking for someone who is honest, direct and takes the time to explain things.

Step 3: Find out what houses are selling for in your area – and how much you’ll have to pay for what you’re looking. Look at selling prices – not asking prices. You can get these from a real estate agent or from your local paper or town/county government. When you find a house roughly like the one you want, as for three “comparables” – recent sales of houses that are roughly your target house.

Step 4: Come up with a down payment – usually 15-20 percent of that price. (This is the hard part.) You may not have to put that much down (see step 1) – some lenders will go for 10 percent or even zero. But these loans are riskier and usually more expensive. Besides, without a down payment, you don’t own even a piece of the house. The bank owns the whole thing.

Step 5: Find an agent. You don’t have to have an agent, but the real estate industry has pretty much locked up the supply of houses in the hands of agents. Ask around. Check on the Web for your state's real estate licensing board to make sure they're registered and don't have any complaints or suspensions.

You’re trying to find someone you can trust, so the first time you catch them stretching the truth, find another one. Real estate agents speak their own language: what you or I would call a broken down shack becomes a “fixer-upper with charm.” (At all times, remember that the agent on both sides of the transaction is paid by the seller.)

Step 6: Now find your new home. (Pick up at Step 3 were you left off.) When the time comes, don’t fall in love with the house. You may not get it. Based on the other houses you’ve seen and recent sales of comparables, make a reasonable offer. You don’t have to offer asking price, but if you "lowball," the seller may tell you take a hike. Find out, if you can, what the seller’s circumstances are. If they’ve been waiting for years and are holding out for the best price, you may not have much room to negotiate. On the other hand, if they’ve already bought another house, they may be more “flexible.” Tailor your offer accordingly.

Step 7: Wait for a reply. If you’ve bid lower than the asking price, expect a “counter offer” higher than your bid. This can go a few rounds until you settle on a price.

Step 8: Once your offer is accepted (congratulations, by the way), you may be asked to put down a “binder” (a deposit of, say, one percent) until the contract is signed; some states give you a grace period of a few days to change your mind and walk away form the deal. Or you may go straight to contract. This process varies from state to state, something you want to ask your lawyer about before you get started. Before signing a contract to buy the house, go to step 9.

Step 9: Call your lawyer. The seller’s lawyer will send the contract to your lawyer for review. Read it carefully yourself. There are “standard” clauses, but there’s no such thing as a “standard” real estate contract. (You may hear many people try to tell you this.) Understand what each clause says even if you don’t follow the language in it. This is why you want an attorney who takes the time to explain things. If he can’t or won’t, that’s not a good sign.

Go over the “contingencies” very carefully. The contract is not the final sale: it says “if all goes well” you agree to buy the sellers house at the closing. The “all goes well” conditions are the contingencies. What if you don’t get a mortgage? Without a contingency, the contract says you have to buy the house anyway. (This is a common contingency.) Others: The house has to conform to local zoning laws, the seller has to have clear title, there are no “major” problems like a faulty foundation, etc. These are negotiable: you can try to put whatever you like in the contract and the seller is free to cross them out before they sign.

The contract will also set the closing date, which is also negotiable. You need time to get your mortgage approved and close up your old home, the seller needs time pack up and to move.

Step 10: If it all checks out, sign the contract and hand over a big check – usually at least 10 percent of the cost of the house, depending on the terms of the mortgage. You maybe able to find a lender who will hand you a "no money down" loan but we don't recommend it. Because this is a riskier loan, lenders usually have to charge you a higher rate to cover that risk.

You give the down payment check to your lawyer - but they don't get to keep it. Your money goes into escrow – neither you nor the seller own it until the deal closes. If something goes wrong, you may or may not get it back. If the sale is canceled because one of your contingencies wasn’t met, you should get it back. If not, be prepared to lose all or part of your down payment – even if you don’t buy the house. You may have cost the seller another buyer by signing a contract and then not following through.

Step 11: Submit your mortgage application, along with an application fee. If possible, get the lenders to “lock” your rate until the closing date. By law, lenders are required to give you an estimate of all closing costs. All in, these can run anywhere from $1,000 to $10,000. Review all the fees before you sign the loan contract. Some common closing costs include: attorney fee, title insurance (in case the title proves faulty), appraisal fee (for the lender’s benefit, not yours - to make sure you’re not overpaying with their money), home inspection, partial property taxes (if you close in the middle of a month), courier fees, mortgage “points” (a percentage of the loan amount), government recording fee, transfer taxes.

After a week or so, call the mortgage company to confirm that they have all the pieces of paper they asked for in the application. If you’ve locked in a rate, you want to make sure the process isn’t delayed by some missing document; don’t expect them to call you if it’s not there.

Step 12: Show up at the closing and sign the papers. Don’t forget to bring lots of blank checks: you’ll usually have to write separate checks for each of the closing costs. If you’d like, you can also ask to hold the bank check for the purchase price before handing it over to the seller. It’s probably the biggest check you’ll hold in your life.

Congratulations! You’re now in debt beyond your wildest dreams! If after a few days or weeks you find yourself thinking you’ve made the biggest mistake of your life, don’t worry: it’s called “buyers remorse” and lots of new homeowners contract this disease. Give it time, watch your mortgage principal go down, figure out how much you're tax deduction is saving your and enjoy the freedom of not paying rent into someone else’s bank account.

Aug. 13, 2018

Home Sale Secrets Only Real Estate Agents Know

There is more to selling a home than just simply putting a sign in the yard and waiting. In fact, successfully selling a home involves many real estate trade-secrets, which seasoned real estate agents are eager to share.

1. Overselling In Listings Turns Potential Buyers Off

When listing a property, photos or descriptions that exaggerate the property may work to peek buyers' attention initially. However, when they actually view the property in person, it can be a real let down if it does not live up to the advertisement causing them to turn away. Instead, real estate agents stress that you should detail the unique characteristics of the property, but don't oversell it to keep buyers interested.

2. Consider Using Price-Strategy Bands

Home buyers generally look to spend within a specific price range. For instance, a buyer looking for a $800,000 home may set a price range between $785,000-$810,000. Therefore, real estate agents suggest pricing the property at $799,000, which will attract buyers looking to purchase a home between $810,000-$835,000.

3. Avoid Real Estate Black Holes

A real estate black hole is a listing that buyers will never see and typically occurs when a property is listed during busy times, such as holiday weekends or family vacations, which can cause it to get lost in the excitement of things. Therefore, real estate agents recommend ?listing the property ?during more opportune times to avoid having the listing fall into a black hole.

4. Know The Home-Buying Month

Real estate agents advise that the month of June is usually the season that is consistently more profitable than all the other months in home sales. In fact, according to reports?, home sales during the month of June typically average about 29% higher.

5. Buyers Can't Resist A Healthy Lawn

Real estate agents stress that buyers love a beautiful lawn. In fact, some agents have even been known to order professional lawn care services just prior to showings in order to increase their sales.

6. Beware Of Agents Who Offer A Discount On Their Commissions

Real estate agents warn that sellers get what they pay for, therefore, beware of agents that offer commission discounts in order to try to gain business. Instead, they recommend hiring an above average agent who is skilled at handling deals perfectly and swiftly and sells the property at a favorable price, so sellers get their money's worth.

July 31, 2017

Curious About Local Real Estate?

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Curious about local real estate? So are we! Every month we review trends in our real estate market and consider the number of homes on the market in each price tier, the amount of time particular homes have been listed for sale, specific neighborhood trends, the median price and square footage of each home sold and so much more. We’d love to invite you to do the same!

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You can sign up here to receive your own market report, delivered as often as you like! It contains current information on pending, active and just sold properties so you can see actual homes in your neighborhood. You can review your area on a larger scale, as well, by refining your search to include properties across the city or county. As you notice price and size trends, please contact us for clarification or to have any questions answered.

We can definitely fill you in on details that are not listed on the report and help you determine the best home for you. If you are wondering if now is the time to sell, please try out our INSTANT home value tool. You’ll get an estimate on the value of your property in today’s market. Either way, we hope to hear from you soon as you get to know our neighborhoods and local real estate market better.

Posted in Market Updates