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March 5, 2021

The Best Video Doorbell For Your Home In 2021

real estate architecture

The first doorbell prototype was created by a Scottish inventor in 1817. They’ve alerted us to visitors both expected and unexpected for over 200 years. But in 2021 they’re becoming obsolete, superseded by superior technology, the smart doorbell. Also known as video doorbells, these nifty gadgets have a camera lens, speaker and microphone built into their front plate, combining a security camera and a doorbell all in one. When a visitor arrives at your front door, smart doorbells can transmit the video and audio they record to your phonePC or tablet computer in real time.

The possibilities are truly exciting, but trawling through review after review searching for the best video doorbell is much less so. To help you out, we’ve done the digging for you and put together this guide to the best video doorbell for your home in 2021. Read on to learn more about how you can choose the best video doorbell for you and see a few of our favourite picks!

Do I need a wireless video doorbell?

who is at door

Of course, you’re the only one who can answer that question, but if you’re on the fence about adopting this particular smart technology, there are lots of benefits you can enjoy from even the cheapest smart doorbell. 

The most obvious reason is security for your home. With a video doorbell installed on your property, you can check to see who’s at the door without opening it. This is true of a standard peephole, but a smart doorbell works even better. 

For one, the best smart doorbells are motion activated and can start recording as soon as someone approaches your front door. This evidence can be vital if the stranger has bad intentions. Many smart doorbells allow you to stream footage directly to a cloud computer service. This means if someone destroys or steals the doorbell itself, you’ll still have caught them in the act.

Security is one reason to invest in a Wi-Fi smart doorbell, but it’s far from the only one. Convenience is another! Most smart doorbells let you talk to someone at your front door no matter where you are in the world thanks to a two-way talk system. Expecting a package to be delivered but can’t leave work? With a smart doorbell, it’s no trouble!

How to choose the perfect smart doorbell

video doorbell

Picture quality is an important part of deciding which is the best video doorbell for you. You might think this is a simple choice: the more pixels the better, right? Well, it’s a little more complicated than that. Yes, definition is important. If your wireless video doorbell turns someone's face into a pixelated mush then there’s little point in purchasing it. We recommend video doorbells with a resolution of at least 720p, which will display someone’s face clearly. Most of the smart doorbells you’ll find on this list have higher definitions than that, letting you make out small details, like car licence plate numbers, from further away.

But if you only consider video quality, you’re neglecting to consider some important information. One of these is aspect ratio. Simply put, aspect ratio is the difference between the width of the video and it’s height, expressed as a ratio. For example, most widescreen TVs have an aspect ratio of 16:9. This is perfect for watching films and shows, but would be terrible for a Wi-Fi video doorbell because it would cut off the top of your visitor’s head.

Instead, we recommend looking for an aspect ratio that’s as square as possible (a perfectly square video has an aspect ratio of 1:1). 4:3, which is a familiar ratio for anyone old enough to remember CRT televisions, is an excellent choice for smart video doorbells.

Field of View (FOV) is also something you should consider when buying a wireless video doorbell. FOV is how much of the world that the doorbell’s camera lens can see (also known as a viewing angle), expressed in degrees. If this is too abstract, imagine a cone spreading out from your video doorbell. The higher the FOV number, the wider the cone. Some cameras have a massive 180° FOV, which is a cone so wide it's actually a semicircle. The tricky thing about FOV is that the higher that number climbs, the more the edges of the video will be distorted. Want an example? Check out this photograph taken with a 180° FOV lens:

fish eye door

As you can see, the edges of the photo have become twisted. Very dada-esque, but not super useful for security cameras. If an intruder is captured on the edge of a super-wide FOV video, you might not make out their face clearly. There are a few ways to solve this problem (one of our hot picks later on has made the grade for their solution), but normally we recommend an FOV between 155 and 166 degrees for a good compromise between wide view and picture clarity.

Other features to consider

smart doorbell features

Let’s move beyond video for now and think about audio. In order to communicate with people on the other side of your door you’ll need two-way talk capability. This must-have feature is integrated into all smart doorbells, but it’s not an equal playing field. Some smart doorbells have special noise-cancelling technology built into their microphones. This eliminates background noise so you can hear your visitor’s voice clearly. This is an amazing bonus for anyone who lives near a busy street!

You also need to consider whether you want to wire up your doorbell. Most video doorbells can run entirely from batteries, which is definitely convenient, but you also have to remember to charge or replace those power cells once they’ve run out of juice. Conversely, wiring a smart doorbell is a challenging and potential hazardous task. If you’re considering a wired video doorbell, you’re best off hiring a professional. Be careful when looking at products described as a wireless video doorbell, as this phrase might refer to the doorbell’s ability to transmit video wirelessly over Wi-Fi, not that it runs on batteries. 

Other features to look out for are night vision and waterproofing. The best video doorbell for you will have both of these as standard. Look out also for smart home connectivity, which will allow you to control your smart doorbell with your voice and connect it to other smart home devices like automatic door locks. If you’d like to know more about other smart home choices, you’re in luck: We’ve written an entire buyer’s guide about the best smart home products here.

Finally, let’s talk about storage options. Every Wi-Fi video doorbell will connect straight to your phone to broadcast live, but some also allow you to save video to an installed memory card or keep recordings in the cloud. You might not always have access to your phone, so a capacious storage solution is a great backup. Cloud storage is highly dependent on which video doorbell you choose, so we’ll go into that in more detail when we examine the products themselves. Speaking of which, let’s check out our list now!

The best video doorbells on the market today

best video doorbells

When it comes to picking out the best smart doorbell for your home, it all comes down to your needs and wants. With a plethora of features, functions and models to choose from, it’s unsurprising that entering the wonderful world of video doorbells can seem more like a minefield than an easy task. To help you make the right decision, we’ve gathered our top picks and put them all in the handy guide below. Browse our guide and prepare to discover the future of tech, today!

Ring 2nd Generation

ring 2 doorbell

Pros: Balances price and performance, full HD sensor 

Cons: Battery is difficult to charge, additional costs add up

We’re kicking off our list off with one of the top dogs of the smart home security world, Ring. Specifically, we’re talking about the 2nd Generation Ring Video Doorbell. There are lots of Ring doorbells to choose from (in fact there’s another on our list), but we’re starting with the company’s 2nd generation doorbell because it’s a great choice for the average user.

This video doorbell streams video in full HD 1080p, which is a big improvement over the 1st gen’s 720p camera. A reasonable 155 degree FOV means the view won’t be spoiled by distortion. Another bonus is that this Ring camera has a motion zones feature. This allows you to customise at what distance the motion sensor will activate the camera. Each of the four zones can be turned on or off independently, and you can tweak their values separately. Add to this an infrared night vision mode and great integration with Amazon’s Alexa smart home system and you’ve got a brilliant camera that won’t set you back that much compared to some of the video doorbells on our list.

So what’s the catch? There are two that give us pause for thought. The first is that in order to charge this wireless video doorbell you need to unscrew it completely from its mounting. It’s a minor problem but annoyingly inconvenient nonetheless. Second, to get the most out of this Ring camera, you’ll need to subscribe to the Ring Protect service. Without it, the camera will still stream live video to your phone, but you’ll get no cloud storage recording, and there’s no way to keep it on the wireless video doorbell itself. This subscription will cost between $3-$10 per month depending on which plan you go with.

Google Nest Hello Doorbell

google nest doorbell

Pros: Facial recognition, 2K video with HDR

Cons: Has to be wired into your home

The Amazon-owned Ring cameras might be the market leaders for video doorbells, but Google’s Nest products are right behind them. With our second choice, the Google Nest Hello Doorbell, they might just take the lead! 

This smart doorbell is slimmer than its Amazon competitor and has a better image sensor. It records in 2K definition (twice the resolution of the Ring doorbell), has an FOV of 160 degrees and includes High Dynamic Range (HDR) image processing that gives you more detail in shadows. 

What really puts the Google Nest Hello Doorbell in contention for best video doorbell is its powerful facial recognition technology. Every time someone appears at your door, the doorbell captures an image of their face. You can then assign names to those photos in the Google Nest Hello’s easy-to-use app. Combine this with a Google Nest smart home system and you’ll get audio alerts and notifications every time someone you know arrives at the door. It’s a great feature if you’ve got a busy social schedule, and the facial recognition will get more accurate over time as it processes more data.

Sounds perfect, right? Almost. The only downside to the Nest Hello is that it can’t be powered by batteries, so it must be wired into your home’s electrical grid. This inflates the price of the doorbell considerably, as you’ll have to pay for professional installation. This hidden cost means that it’s actually one of the pricier products in this guide.

Ranpo M7 Wi-Fi Doorbell

ranpo m7 doorbell

Pros: Onboard storage, low cost

Cons: Limited range, no information about the app

So far, you might be under the impression that smart doorbells are all triple figure investments, but that’s not strictly true! The Ranpo M7 Wi-Fi Doorbell is the first of three budget-friendly video doorbells that we’ve included in this guide. Despite costing less money, you can still expect a quality 720p HD video, two-way talk and night vision.

Unlike other, more expensive smart doorbells, the Ranpo M7 doesn’t have cloud storage. Instead, when its PIR motion sensor detects movement, it’ll send an alert to your phone and start streaming immediately. You can record video locally if you insert an SD card into the slot. It’s more limited than a dedicated cloud storage system, but you won’t have to worry about any subscription fees, allowing you to save even more money.

But budget products have to save money somewhere, and you’ll feel it in this video doorbell’s connectivity. There’s no option to integrate the Ranpo M7 with any smart home system. If you want voice activation and other customisation features, you’ll need to go with a more expensive Wi-Fi video doorbell. Additionally, we couldn’t find out any information about which app the Ranpo M7 uses, so we can’t tell you if it has lag issues or video dropoff problems. It’s a bit of a gamble, but for such a low price you won’t regret making it.

Ring Elite

ring elite doorbell

Pros: Smooth ethernet connection, full colour night vision

Cons: Rather expensive, requires installation

Now we move from one of the least expensive smart doorbells to one of the most costly. The Ring Elite is very expensive, but it’s also one of the most capable smart doorbells you can get your hands on right now, with a couple of killer features.

We’ve already mentioned how important night vision is when you’re looking for the best video doorbell. The Ring Elite takes this essential feature and makes it even better. Most night vision cameras can only provide footage in grainy black and white or shades of radioactive green, but this wireless video doorbell records at night in full colour. This isn’t about making things pretty. With full colour footage, it's easier to see someone’s face and discern fine background details.

Full colour night vision isn’t the only unique feature that this smart doorbell has up its proverbial sleeve. It’s also got its own dedicated ethernet port that plugs directly into your internet router, guaranteeing a solid connection. You won’t have to worry about your doorbell’s Wi-Fi signal being disrupted by interference from other sources.

As well as these unique benefits, you’ll also enjoy all of the positive features of the 2nd Generation Ring camera that appeared at the top of our list, so the Ring Elite is a truly exceptional wireless video doorbell. You’ll have to pay a lot for it, and that’s before installation costs. Because the Ring Elite needs a physical ethernet connection, it can’t run on batteries alone.

WT Smart Doorbell

wt smart doorbell

Pros: Automatic white balance and exposure adjustment, good night vision for the price

Cons: No cloud storage, limited app

Our next entry in our budget video doorbells class, the WT Smart Doorbell is another low cost smart doorbell that streams 720p video to your mobile device whenever its PIR sensor detects movement. Like the other budget friendly doorbells, the WT Smart Doorbell is limited to fairly basic functions. You can’t link it with other smart home devices and there’s no cloud storage functionality, but it does the basics rather well.

When the WT Smart Doorbell starts streaming or recording, it doesn’t keep its settings the same. It has software installed in its system that monitors key determiners of video quality and can adjust them instantly. It will modify the white balance, video gain and lighting exposure settings to reduce the graininess of your stream, ensuring you can always see clearly.

It also has excellent night vision, thanks to the six infrared lights that project an invisible spotlight onto the face of anyone who approaches your door in the dark. It’s not the most sophisticated item in this buyer’s guide, but if you’re looking for something cheap and dependable, this offering from WT might be the best video doorbell for you.

Ring 2nd Generation with SpotLight Cam

ring spotlight bundle

Pros: Both Ring cameras work well together, great for homes with gardens

Cons: Spotlight Cam Can be tricky to mount on brick, concrete or stucco, may be overkill for smaller homes

Experiencing deja vu? Don’t worry, it’s not a glitch in the matrix (at least we hope not), it’s that the 2nd Generation Ring camera has already appeared on this. So why have we included it twice? Because this time it comes bundled with a Ring Spotlight Cam. 

We’ve already extolled the virtues of the 2nd generation Ring, but the Spotlight Cam is an excellent product on its own. This camera also streams high quality 1080p video, will connect to Alexa systems and can upload it to the Ring Protect cloud service. It also comes with a pair of very bright LED spotlights. These don’t just provide illumination but act as a deterrent.

This smart Wi-Fi video bell bundle is perfect if your home has a garden at the rear or backs onto an alley. While your Ring video doorbell protects the front of your home, the Spotlight security camera can keep watch over the other entrance. 

While great for large homes, it’s wasteful to buy this bundle if you only need to keep watch in one direction. For example, if you live in a flat, buying an additional camera won’t help you much, as a smart doorbell on will be enough to see visitors approaching from any angle.

ZASelect Video Doorbell Camera

ze select smart doorbell

Pros: 166 degree FOV motion detection, IP55 water resistance

Cons: No motion control settings, almost too sensitive

The ZASelect Video Doorbell Camera 2020 is the last of our budget smart doorbells. It has many of the same strengths and weaknesses of the WT Smart Doorbell and the Ranpo M7, but with two key differences that mark it out as special.

The first is its superior water resistance. While most budget cameras have a water resistant that caps out at IP54, this smart doorbell is tested up to the IP55 standard. Without getting too technical, the IP55 rating means that it should withstand lashing rain without worry - a vital feature for any doorbell. It also has a 166 degree field of view, one of the widest in this entire guide, let alone budget video doorbells. 

The weakness of the ZASelect doorbell is that’s PIR sensor is rather sensitive, and can’t distinguish between objects moving in front of it and people. Combine that with a wide FOV with no ability to adjust the sensitivity profile in its app, and this Wi-Fi video doorbell can be very easy to trigger. If you position it in the wrong place it can very easily be triggered by movement outside your neighbour’s home or passing traffic.

Arlo Video Doorbell

arlo video doorbell

Pros: Superior object recognition, 180 degree FOV, 1:1 aspect ratio, intelligence alerts

Cons: Most distinguishing features are locked behind a subscription, hardwire only

The last product in this guide for buyers is the Arlo Video Doorbell. Arlo isn’t as well-known as Google or Amazon, but this camera is making waves in the smart home community thanks to its great package of features.

Speaking of packages, this Arlo machine could be the best video doorbell at recognising them. It’s all down to Arlo’s sophisticated object recognition software, which not only detects faces but also identifies animals, parcels and even traffic. This means less false alarms being sent to your phone. For example, you can set this wireless video doorbell up to only trigger alerts when it detects people or to prioritise packages if you’re expecting something in the mail.

We mentioned earlier that a 180 degree field of view was great in theory but could lead to problematic distortion. It seems that the Arlo Video Doorbell has solved that problem, thanks to its pursuit of a truly square 1:1 aspect ratio. While there’s certainly some curving going on, the aspect ratio means that the distortion is limited. It doesn’t look natural, but you won’t have any trouble to understand what’s going on in the frame.

Another amazing and unique feature is the intelligent alert. If you open up the Arlo app and see someone trying to break into your home, you can hit a panic button to trigger the alert. Depending on which setting you use, the intelligent alert can blast a loud siren from the Arlo’s speaker system or call your local police department. This feature could very well make it the best video doorbell for the security conscious.

Like many of the more advanced smart doorbells, the Arlo Video Doorbell doesn’t take batteries and must be wired by a professional. That’s certainly a disadvantage, but it’s not Arlo's only problem. Like most video doorbell providers, Arlo offers a cloud storage service for an additional fee. However, what’s different is that Arlo locks most of their best features behind this subscription. Without shelling out extra every month, you won’t have access to the doorbell’s alert system or its smart detection algorithm.

Ready to go smart?

smart doorbell

If this selection hasn’t convinced you of the awesome power of smart doorbells, be sure to check out our extensive range of doorbells. As well as their old-fashioned analogue cousins, you’ll find plenty more video doorbells to tempt you. There are many more great products on OnBuy that will help keep your home more secure, including security cameras and locks, latches and keys

Of course, if you link your smart doorbell with a smart home system, you can unlock extra features by combining it with other features. From lights to thermostats, you’ll find plenty of other options on OnBuy, all courtesy of our verified sellers!

Please note: The information in this buyer’s guide is correct at the time of publishing but may be subject to change.

Nov. 24, 2020

Smart Home 101: How to Outfit Your Home With Smart Devices

real estate architecture

Image via Pexels

 

Smart Home 101: How to Outfit Your Home With Smart Devices

 

This resource guide is just one example of the great content you can find on the CommunityDiggs website.

 

Enabling your home with smart devices can be a great upgrade to any house, whether it’s allowing you to control the thermostat from your bed or keeping an eye on the front door while you’re out at dinner. There are plenty of options out there for automating almost every part of your home and several products and brands to consider. Use this guide to help you navigate your options and for advice on how to get started.

 

Why make your home ‘smart’?

 

Homeowners choose to automate their homes for a number of reasons — safety being a chief reason. Along with making your home safer, smart home devices can help you manage multiple systems in your home, whether it’s managing the thermostat or turning on the lights in a different room. Smart devices can be controlled wirelessly with a smartphone or computer, making it easy and efficient for homeowners to automate almost anything.

 

Types of smart home systems

 

There are a few prominent smart home systems: Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, Wink Hub 2, and the Samsung SmartThings Hub.

 

Amazon Alexa is a great option for homeowners who want a wide range of smart home devices. It has over 20,000 third-party integrations — meaning you’ll be able to do almost everything from your phone. Alexa allows you to lock your doors, turn on the lights, adjust the thermostat, and even play music around your home.

 

Google Assistant is another popular option for homeowners. It rivals Alexa in its breadth of pairable components, but its ability to answer questions and complete commands are better than Alexa’s. Google has a better reputation for recognizing people’s natural speech — meaning it will better understand your commands and more often than not deliver more accurate responses.

 

Wink Hub is sometimes preferred because it doesn’t require brand loyalty — users can pair devices from a variety of brands. The Samsung SmartThings Hub also allows devices from other brands, so you could have a mix-and-match set of smart devices.

Types of devices

 

Some of the most common smart home devices will manage your home’s power systems, security, and entertainment. Devices that help manage your home’s power systems include light controls, outlet switches, and your thermostat. Smart security systems will be able to lock your doors with a simple command, open and close your garage door, and even watch your front door with built-in surveillance cameras.

 

Many smart home devices will be able to pair with your entertainment devices, allowing you to turn on music, turn on your TV, and even search recipes online without touching your computer.

Smart devices can even help you save money on utilities. By getting a system that connects to your thermostat, you’ll be able to control the temperature of your home while you’re out of the house. That way, if you left the heater on and you’re not home, you can shut it off to save money on your heating bill.

 

Key considerations

 

If you’re ready to make your home smart, there are some key considerations to keep in mind. For example, it’s vital to boost your digital security to protect all your devices from cyberattacks. One of the best options is to protect your router with a strong password — it’s your first line of defense against cyberattackers, so make it hard to guess.

 

Another consideration is thinking about how to make your devices blend in with your decor. Many people use houseplants to help hide speakers or the system’s router. A router works best when it’s out in the open, though, so avoid tucking it away in the cupboard.

 

Whether you want to create a smart home to let you control the thermostat from the bed, or you feel you need to boost your home security, there are plenty of options for smart devices and systems. Get the system that’s best for your budget and your needs, and take care to protect your devices with strong passwords to avoid having a cybersecurity issue.

 

Are you looking to buy or rent a home in the New York City area? Check out CommunityDiggs’ Featured Diggs to find a home that best suits your needs!

 

 

 

 

Sept. 1, 2020

Boost Your Home's Value Ahead of Your Appraisal

real estate home appraisal

man painting

Whether you're planning to sell or refinance, a home appraisal is a necessary step in determining the true value of your home. This means your home should be in the best possible condition, so it will be appraised at the highest potential value. While it may be tempting to swing for the fences with big-ticket renovations, there are smaller things you can do to efficiently raise the market value of your home.

man painting

Start Small with a Little Spackle

If you've lived in your home for any length of time, you've probably hung things on the walls, put up shelves, or simply had accidents that resulted in minor damage. Now is the time to repair those blemishes. Filling these holes and crevices with a little spackle and painting over the area will leave your walls looking like new. While this may not boost the value of your home, it will keep the appraiser from deducting for the damage.

As Long as You're Painting...

After you've touched up your walls, you might want to consider freshening up the paint. Repainting worn trim and moldings around the home can give it a fresh look. Venture outside and touch up the trim around the windows and doors too. This will boost curb appeal and help you add value to the home. Any area where the paint is peeling, chipping, or simply has lost its luster should be retouched with a fresh coat.

Do a Deep Clean

This is also the time to really clean your home from top to bottom. If you have young children and pets, there may be odors and damage that might not be noticeable to you, but strong odors and scuffed hardwood floors will be the first things your appraiser notices. Consider hiring professionals to wax the floors, shampoo the carpets, and conduct an intensive cleaning of the entire home.

Conduct Other Repairs

At some point, you should tour your home with the mindset of a home buyer. This will help you identify problems that you live with every day but just don't notice anymore. Look for things that need to be repaired, such as a loose handrail, a leaky faucet, or a shorted electrical outlet. Repairing these problems ahead of time will ensure you won't lose money on the appraisal.

By taking the time to spruce up the home ahead of the appraisal, you may be able to increase the value by thousands of dollars. The suggestions offered here should give you a head start, but if you have additional questions on how to add more value to your home, don't hesitate to reach out me.

 

 

 

Aug. 22, 2020

How to Stay Healthy and Happy as a Tenant Amid the COVID-19 Pandemic

woman washing mirrors

If you are a tenant with questions and concerns during the COVID-19 era, you are one of millions. For instance, what are the most effective ways to clean your apartment? How do you stay healthy when you can’t leave your home? Fortunately, tips and resources on questions like these abound on the web. And we’ve put together some of the best ones:

Talking to Your Landlord

Many landlords understand the challenges their renters are facing. Strike up a conversation with your landlord about any questions or concerns you may have.

The Conversations You Need to Have with Your Landlord Should You Tell Your Landlord if You Have Coronavirus?

Cleaning Effectively

Cleaning is one of the most important steps you can take as a tenant to keep you and others healthy and happy.

House Hygiene: How to Keep Coronavirus From Coming Home Cleaning Tips to Keep Your Home Free of Coronavirus Hand Washing Tips COVID-19 Cleaning and Safety Products You Can Make From Home

Maintaining a Healthy Routine

There has never been a more crucial time to create and maintain a solid wellness routine.

10 Quiet Apartment Exercises for Small Space Workouts Home Fitness: How to Choose Exercise Equipment and Where to Place It Shopping List: Basic Ingredients for a Healthy Kitchen Best Healthy Recipes Ever Why Getting More Sleep During the Coronavirus Pandemic Is Essential

Tenants across the country have a number of concerns when it comes to the COVID-19 pandemic. Look through these resources on communicating with your landlord, cleaning your apartment, and staying healthy. While there are plenty of other virus-related topics to consider as a tenant, these are a great place to start.

As father to three lively boys, Alex Robbins knows how quickly accidents can happen. As a result, he makes home safety a priority and encourages other parents to do the same. When he isn’t keeping up with his three energetic sons, Mr. Robbins enjoys researching and writing about home safety tips, advice, and life hacks for SafetyToday.org, which is a gathering of parents and professionals that have come together to help promote safety in the home and in the community.

Aug. 14, 2020

Pre foreclosures: Great Investment Opportunity or a Waste of Your Time?

pre foreclousers

You may have seen the term “pre-foreclosure” on a property listing and wondered what that means? It sort of sounds like maybe the right buyer will step in and get a swell deal on a property before anyone even knows about it, right? Or maybe it’s a secret handshake deal between a lender and a potential buyer just before they lower the boom on a property owner.

In reality the term pre-foreclosure generally refers to a property who’s owner is behind on their mortgage payments and has been notified by their lender that they need to take immediate steps to make the payments or risk being foreclosed. It doesn’t mean that the property is necessarily for sale or that the lender has the ability to step in and sell it. More often than not it means the owner knows they need to do something or risk having a foreclosure on their record, a damning prospect going forward.

An owner who is in pre-foreclosure may be motivated to sell at a loss and, if the property is in great shape, a potential buyer may get a great deal. There is also a chance that the owner has known for a while that they might lose the property and has neglected the upkeep, leaving behind a rehab nightmare for the next owner.

There is also an equally good chance that the primary mortgage holder may not be the only one in line to file a lien if the property is sold. Any potential buyer looking to pick up a property in pre-foreclosure should do all due diligence in researching title records and make sure that they understand where they stand if they intend to risk investing their money. Certain times these properties require an all cash purchase.

There is, however, a safer approach to investing in a pre-foreclosure opportunity. If you see such a listing or hear of one that piques your interest, contact a mortgage or foreclosure professional and talk to them about the potential purchase. They can help you assess the chances of the property actually hitting the market and whether or not there might be hidden risks associated with a purchase.

 

 

 

July 25, 2020

How Much House Can I Afford?

real estate architecture

Buying a home is usually the most expensive purchase people make in their lives. It is considered to be a symbol of success which signals to others that you are getting closer to fulfilling the American dream. Knowing that buying a home is a big financial and psychological commitment, finding out how much you can afford should be your number one priority.

To start your home buying journey, you need to be mindful of the following four things:

  1. Establish your priorities

    • Make a list of your ideal home (features, location, type of property, age, square footage)

  2. Calculate how much you can afford

  3. Plan for expenses

    • Home maintenance (gardening, heating and cooling, etc.)

    • Moving costs

  4. Have an emergency fund in place

    • 3-6 months’ worth of living expenses

    • Have 1% to 3% of your home’s value saved for emergency repairs

    • Hire a professional to inspect the home you are interested in

Having a plan in place can help you establish priorities. If you have additional debt like student loans, it might be best to see if you can prioritize paying those off first before purchasing a home — Keeping a list is always helpful.

Covid-19 and the Home Buying Process

With COVID-19 still very present in our daily lives, sellers and real estate agents gave started to offer virtual tours.

It is clear that most buyers will prefer an in-person tour before making an offer. Still, virtual tours are a great way for buyers to shop around and find their dream home. Dana Bull, realtor at Sagan Harborside Sotheby’s International Realty said “most [virtual tours] will include a contingency that allows them to walk away after a home inspection or physical walk through”.

Conclusion

If you are a first-time home buyer, knowing all of these four things will help with your home buying journey. You will at least have one foot ahead from those who do not have a plan at all.

Focusing on the preparation required to purchase as opposed to the excitement of it can help you stay on budget. “Try to the extent possible to separate emotion and logic,” says Keith Gumbinger, Vice President of HSH.com, an online consumer’s mortgage resource.

Once your plan is ready, it is time to start shopping for mortgage lenders. Some lenders are known for being the “Best for” with various clients such as first-time home buyers, active military members and veterans.

Read the full article here

 

 

 

July 9, 2020

What is the Impact of COVID-19 on the Real Estate Market?

real estate architecture

To say that COVID-19 devastated all areas of life is an understatement. With New York hit the hardest with the pandemic, real estate transactions ground to a halt as social distancing and business closures became the norm for slowing the spread. With restrictions slowly lifted, many homebuyers and sellers are wondering what the real estate industry will be like post-COVID-19. Let’s take a look.

Rebound

New York is already seeing a significant rebound in real estate activity and is expected to continue on this path, with major restrictions lifted. Those sellers who pulled their homes when the pandemic hit are slowly putting them back on the market, so expect to see an uptick in inventory and buyers. From here, several scenarios may take place in the coming months to a year.

real estate activity since march

Possible bargains

There may be bargains to be had out there, particularly with sellers who found themselves stuck with two properties when COVID-19 shut things down. After several months of paying two mortgages, sellers may simply be looking to get the added mortgage out of their hands as soon as possible. As a result, there is the possibility of negotiation and price drops to sell quickly.

house bargain

Possible exodus

While the city hasn’t announced its plan for schools in the fall, the eventual announcement could cause a shift in the real estate market. For concerned parents, opening schools may be the impetus to move from the city, and buyers should anticipate a flood of properties on the market around the time of announcement. Again, this is a possibility, not a probability. 

High-end properties to sit

The mass evacuation of the city by those with second homes will likely cause a continued lull in the high-end real estate market. As many of those buyers haven’t yet returned, and likely won’t until the end of summer, the luxury market is expected to continue on its slow trajectory. Expect this market to pick up in fall.

Differing list of must-haves

For those buyers who didn’t retreat to the suburbs when COVID-19 hit, the list of must-haves is different from pre-COVID-19 times. With many companies seeing remote and telework options as viable and productive, they’re allowing employees to continue work at home. As a result, buyers want more living area to work comfortably from home, in addition to specific amenities and perks such as in-unit washers and dryers and soundproofing. 

writting notes

Suburbs are hot

While there are many die-hard city dwellers, there will be an exodus to the suburbs as a result of COVID-19. Many New Yorkers are opting to head to the suburbs for larger living spaces and outdoor areas after experiencing remote work. While many won’t have the option to work 100 percent remotely, commuting into the city one or two days a week is much better than five.

suburb example

Home prices steady

While there is the possibility to find a bargain on the market, many homes will have prices that are equal, if not a little higher, than pre-COVID-19 rates. There will always be a demand for housing in Brooklyn, so buyers should expect to pay asking price. 

For sellers, now is the best time to sell before the recession hits, and uncertainty wreaks havoc on home prices. If you’re a seller considering selling in the next two years, this is the year to do it, when pricing is predictable, and you get fair market value for your property.

 

 

 

Posted in Market Updates
Jan. 7, 2020

CO-OP BOARD INTERVIEW QUESTIONS AND HOW TO ANSWER THEM

man rising a hand

1. Are you interested in serving on the board?

We recommend neutrality in your response if you are to ever be asked if you’re interested in serving. For example, you could say something like, ‘If the board or the building thought that I could make an important contribution, I would certainly be open to discussing it.’  You never want the board to think that you are aiming for a position.

Some application packages might ask applicants directly if they have any background or skills that may be useful to the board, in which case, it's fine to list expertise that might not be readily apparent from other parts of your board package.

2. Why are you downsizing?

This is a common but an unexpected question for applicants. You may have fewer family members living at home, or maybe you are trying to trim expenses. If it deals with expenses, keep that information to yourself.  It is better to focus on space, not money.  Co-op board members don’t want to hear you say that you want to move to save money.

3. How do you like your job?

With this question board members will most likely be trying to get a sense of your overall job security.  This is not the time to have a candid discussion about any crisis you might be experiencing at work, so no need to cause unnecessary alarm with throwaway lines.  Instead, it is recommended to be upbeat about your role and not give away too many details.

4. What are your political beliefs or with which political party are you affiliated?

While this question is completely legal, it might be unexpected and throw you off your game. We recommend that you just be honest and keep your answer simple.

5. Are you planning a renovation?

It is best to leave out any details of your proposed renovation until after closing.  It can be concerning to board members to hear about any renovation plans, you never know who may live adjacent to your apartment and might dread the disturbance of a renovation.

6. Do you have parties or entertain often?

This question is very common—and it's not a popularity test. The board wants to gauge whether your socializing will be disruptive. Your best answer might be to say you enjoy having occasional dinners with close friends and leaving it at that.

8. Why did you choose this apartment/neighborhood?

This is an opportunity for applicants to be complementary. Don’t bog down your response with a blow-by-blow description of the many apartments that you saw before this one, or that it is the only one you could afford.  This isn’t an invitation to overshare.

7. What do you do in your spare time?

Although this question seems innocent enough, this can trip buyers up.  Three easy suggestions when fielding this one: Keep it clean, keep it simple, and keep it quiet.  This means that now is not the time to tell the board about your plans for learning the clarinet or your annual Halloween party.

9. What was your last interaction with an attorney?

Of course, the best answer to this question would be something like, “My lawyer Father-in-Law just had dinner together,” however if you have something behind you it’s best to be honest.  However, temper your answer, Go with something like, 'I was unjustly sued by someone, we were able to resolve it quickly and cleanly and fortunately I've never had any legal involvement since.’  You want to give a clean, simple explanation that proves you are reasonable and weren't the source of the problem.

It’s worth doing an online search of your name before an interview to see what information comes up. Be prepared to answer questions related to the results.

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10. Why are there some inconsistencies in your application?

It’s a good idea to read through the application before you go to the interview to make sure that everything looks legit and be prepared to answer any questions you think it may have elicited.  Usually, some financials questions arise, like how much money a person has, especially if their assets are a combination of several business and or a trust.

If, say, you receive $60,000 a year from a trust, be sure to explain that that trust allows you to invade the principal if that's how you're planning on paying for the apartment.

And if you don't know the answer to a question, try not to seem flustered. Just say you don't know the answer, and that you'll get back to them as soon as you've spoken to your accountant.

11.  Do you have any questions?

While in other forums it is often useful to have questions at the ready as a demonstration of your interest, you really shouldn’t raise them during a co-op interview.  It is best to be boring.  A co-op interview is not a job interview—people do not have to fall in love with you. For instance, when the board asks you if you have any questions, say, ‘None that I can think of right now, but I’ll be sure to get back to you if any should occur.’ It is never about keeping the conversation going, as it often is at a job interview.

Finally, never ask about the board’s decision at the time of your interview. Instead, say something like "We look forward to hearing from you.

Jan. 3, 2020

What Real Estate Agents Know That Makes Them Indispensable When Buying/Selling A House?

When buying or selling a home one of the most crucial decisions you’ll have to make is whether you’ll  hire a real estate agent or go it alone.  We all know that if you hire a real estate agent, you’ll have an expert on your side – someone who is aware of the latest real estate trends and knows the neighborhoods where she works better than the people who live there.  She knows which houses are available, statistics about the schools in the area, and where the closest shuls are.  She understands the nuances of staging a home and knows the prices of homes in the area that have recently been sold – all great reasons to ask her to be your agent.

However, if you’re still considering buying/selling a house on your own, you should know that there is much more to a real estate agent than meets the eye.  It takes hard work, dedication, and perseverance to become a successful real estate agent.  You can’t wake up one day, decide to open a real estate agency, and start selling homes.  There’s way more involved.  New York real estate agents must be very intelligent, because they must complete a grueling 75-hour course approved by the secretary of state and pass a qualifying exam administered by the Department of State.

During the course, agents learn about licensing laws, rules and regulations, agency disclosure agreements, estates, liens, deeds, titles, closings, contract preparation, real estate finance, land use regulations, construction issues, environmental issues, pricing, human rights, fair housing, real estate math, property insurance, taxes and assessments, types of investment properties, commercial leases, income tax issues, property management, and more.  When they finish the course, they understand very complex transactions, and they can explain them to you in a way that you understand.  In addition, they can help you find an inspector, a real estate lawyer, and they can even help you find a mortgage. 

Even after the agent passes the exam, they can’t open a business of their own.  State law requires them to work under the guidance, tutelage, and protection of a real estate broker.  A broker helps them transition from school to the field.  A good broker will be a mentor, providing proper training and support. 

Once the agent has finished school and has worked for a broker, she will be able to handle any situation that comes along. 

If you’re still considering buying/selling on your own, answer these questions: what does the zoning board of appeals do and what does the municipal engineer’s office do?  Who is usually exempt from paying property taxes?  What clause in the deed describes the property and what is a loft lease? You probably can’t, but a real estate agent can. 

Chances are you wouldn’t defend yourself in court, so why would you buy or sell a house without the expertise of a real estate agent?

Jan. 14, 2019

Brooklyn's Best Ethnic Food Markets

food market

Anyone visiting New York, specifically Manhattan, knows you can go just about anywhere in the city to find an abundance of different culture’s cuisine. Brooklyn, on the other hand, rivals Manhattan with one of the most diverse food scenes around. With each neighborhood presenting a different culture of food, the opportunities are endless when it comes to the selection of ethnic food markets.

Sahadi's

Sahadi's has been a Brooklyn tradition since 1948, serving up authentic and delicious selections for all of your Mediterranean cravings. Planning on crafting your own snazzy charcuterie board for a dinner party? Stop by Sahadi's for juicy Calamata olives and smoked almonds, or skip the work and order up an antipasto or falafel platter from their catering services. They also offer convenient local delivery, so all you have to do is sit back, relax, and get ready to dive into some of the best hummus you've ever tasted.

 

Net Cost
Net Cost offers a delectable curation of Eastern European and Russian flavors, most notably, its expansive array of meats and inexpensive dairy products. Looking for something smoky, savory, and bursting with umami flavor? This is your place to go. You'll also find a wonderful assortment of root vegetables, leafy greens, and hearty mushrooms.

 

La Bella Market Place

La Bella Market Place is your neighborhood go-to for gourmet Italian. In addition to your typical groceries, you'll also find a tempting array of olives, artisan cheeses, imported sausage, European sweets, and a ridiculous smorgasbord of just about any pasta you could possibly imagine. If you can't wait to get home and cook the pasta yourself, don't fret; scoop up Caprese salad and Penne Alla Vodka to-go or order catering for the whole office!

 

Jmart

Who said you can't find fresh produce in the city? Not Jmart, that's for sure! From your typical fruit and vegetable needs to your more exotic hankerings, Jmart's extensive produce selection will have you excited to eat healthy. Jmart also offers a wide array of Asian groceries, including marinated eggs, steamed buns, chili sauces, various teas, and more.

 

Zion Kosher Market

New York is known for its incredible Jewish delis and restaurants. Those famous menu items begin with quality ingredients, many of which can be found at the Zion Kosher Market! While one trip through the doors will tempt senses towards vats of nuts and dried fruits (or perhaps towards the warm counter doling out servings of spiced eggplant and baba ganoush) and local will tell you: the bread selection is absolutely not to be missed!

 

Posted in Food and Drink