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!

Nov. 24, 2020

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

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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, 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”.


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, 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.


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


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 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!



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
Dec. 4, 2018

Interior Design Trends in Real Estate

interior design

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.