Contractors and What You Need to Know Before You Hire One

Posted by LeeAdmin on February 17, 2014
Attorney, condo, contractor, coop, real estate, Sabra Sasson / No Comments

The following is adapted from a real estate panel that I spoke on.  The contractor who presented during the event discussed important issues that a buyer will want to be aware of before hiring a contractor to make renovations and improvements to their property.

After you close on your purchase, if there is money left over, you may want to make some modifications, repairs, or renovations to your new home.  You will probably consult with various contractors who can help you with that process.  It is important to select a contractor who understands the laws in your state and locality.  Be wary of contractors who offer significantly lower proposals in comparison with other contractors – there may be a lot of “extras” built into their contracts, or maybe they are not familiar with the construction regulations in your area.  It can become more costly if they cannot process the permit and other paperwork properly and expeditiously.

When purchasing a coop or condo unit, you will be given an alteration agreement which stipulates exactly what the procedures are for your particular coop or condo, including what can be done and who needs to be insured. The biggest hurdle when dealing with an alteration is getting your plans approved by the Management Company. A contractor who is familiar with the construction process in coops and condos will work with the building to make sure the whole package is presented.

The best timeframe in which to finalize terms with your contractor is to meet with your contractor once you have a closing date set and firm up your plans and define what you want to do, your budget restraints, and discuss a timeline for how long the project will take. The time it will take for the project as well as the cost vary depending upon the scope and kind of work you are looking to do. Also, your taste, quality and whether you want custom designs all have a significance and impact as well. Pricing can vary from $75 to $300 per square foot.

If you have found the foregoing to be valuable, then you may also be interested in hearing more about the panelists and I’ve included an opportunity for that in the bonus below.

 

BONUS:  I recently spoke at a workshop with a few panelists on this topic.   There was a lot of information shared during the workshop.  You’re invited to claim your free instant access to a clip of the presentation. You’ll hear about the biggest mistakes that buyers make and avoiding them when purchasing real estate in New York.  Brought to you by Sabra Sasson, Esq., a New York City attorney dedicated to helping you secure your purchase, your legal interests and getting you title and the keys to your new home.  Get instant access here.  http://www.sassonrealestateattorney.com/mteSRSaudio

 

Things to Know When Financing Your Real Estate Purchase

Posted by LeeAdmin on February 03, 2014
Attorney, mortgage banker, mortgage broker, real estate, Sabra Sasson / No Comments

Most real estate buyers today are either “all cash” purchasers or they are purchasing with financing, i.e. with a mortgage or funding from a lender.  Assembling your team – your real estate agent, real estate attorney and mortgage banker or broker are the bare bones professionals whom you need in order to complete your purchase.

A mortgage broker can help you set up your finances and understand how much “home” you can afford.  They can also give you advice and help you to improve your financial snapshot depending upon your current assets and your credit history.

When planning to purchase with financing, there are various factors to consider so that you are sure that you will have enough money, even with the financing, to purchase your property. Aside from your mortgage, expenses will include your down payment of typically 10-20% of the purchase price and other various closing costs depending on your property. For a condo, 1, 2, 3, or 4 family house, you will have to purchase two types of title insurance – one for the property and another policy for the lender. There will also be a mortgage recording tax, bank fees, and various pre-payments, including mortgage interest , homeowner’s insurance and property tax. Closing costs on a co-op are much less, and include a lien search as well as other small fees.

Prior to signing a contract to purchase property, you will want to be sure that you will have sufficient funds to complete the purchase.  If you apply for financing with a lender, you will want to be prepared to provide the last two years tax returns and the last two months bank statements.  This means that the funds that you intend to use as the down payment for your purchase should be in your bank account for at least two months prior to your purchase.  If you cannot meet these basics, you will need to discuss your specific circumstances with your mortgage banker or broker and strategies for getting approved for a loan commitment.

 

BONUS:  I recently spoke at a workshop with a few panelists on this topic.   There was a lot of information shared during the workshop.  You’re invited to claim your free instant access to a clip of the presentation. You’ll hear about the biggest mistakes that buyers make and avoiding them when purchasing real estate in New York.  Brought to you by Sabra Sasson, Esq., a New York City attorney dedicated to helping you secure your purchase, your legal interests and getting you title and the keys to your new home.  Get instant access here.  http://www.sassonrealestateattorney.com/mteSRSaudio

Choosing Your Real Estate Attorney

Posted by LeeAdmin on January 20, 2014
Attorney, real estate, Real Estate Attorney, Sabra Sasson / No Comments

If you are in the market to purchase real estate, then you are probably going out regularly to visit property that is listed on the market.  You may have been looking for a while or you may have just started.

At some point during the process, when you find a place that you like, you will have to engage in negotiations – typically through a real estate agent who is representing the seller.  If you read my prior blog post about choosing your own real estate broker, you may be negotiating through one chosen by you, which is great.

Are you prepared for when an offer of yours is accepted? 

What I mean is that once your offer is accepted, the real estate broker will want you to move quickly into contract they will ask you for the name of your real estate attorney who will be representing you.  If you haven’t already chosen the attorney who will be representing you, then you are already “behind the eight ball” and if you take too long in deciding who to hire, you will probably feel rushed and pressured into finding somebody fast.

Choose the wrong real estate attorney and you could wind up unnecessarily risking your down payment or agreeing to contract provisions that don’t best protect you.  Be careful to choose a real estate attorney and not a generalist, a real estate attorney who practices in real estate law on a regular basis.  An experienced real estate attorney will represent your interest and help you to avoid unnecessary additional expenses. A real estate attorney will understand the real estate market and will understand what provisions you need in the contract.

So how can you get ahead of the eight ball?

You can choose your own attorney before an offer is ever placed on a property.  You can contact a few attorneys at the same time while you are shopping for a property. It doesn’t take too much time, but interviewing a few attorneys when you are not under pressure to select one will give you the time and the space to objectively choose one whom you like, someone who can answer your questions and whom you have pre-qualified to represent your best interest.

Why is it important to choose the “right” real estate attorney for you?

Your real estate attorney will be negotiating the most important aspect of your purchase – the Contract of Sale.  Get any of the provisions wrong and you are “stuck” with them to the end of the transaction.

I once received a telephone call from a buyer who was already represented by an attorney.  This buyer had “heard” that I was representing another prospective purchaser of another unit in the condominium building where they were also in contract to buy and they wanted a similar provision in their contract that I had negotiated into my clients’ contract.  Unfortunately, since they were already “in contract” – meaning that both they and they seller had already signed their Contract of Sale, it would be very difficult (impossible actually) to convince the seller at that time to amend the Contract of Sale to include a provision that would be very favorable to the buyer, and not to the seller.  And that buyer was “stuck” with the Contract that they had – for better or worse.

You see, sometimes contracts can be amended after they are signed by both parties, but as with any contract, the terms are negotiable until the contract is signed.  Once the agreement is signed by both sides, it is difficult to change the terms unless it would be beneficial to both parties.

As you can see, choosing an experience attorney is essential to your purchase.

 

BONUS:  I recently spoke at a workshop with a few panelists on this topic.   There was a lot of information shared during the workshop.  You’re invited to claim your free instant access to a clip of the presentation. You’ll hear about the biggest mistakes that buyers make and avoiding them when purchasing real estate in New York.  Brought to you by Sabra Sasson, Esq., a New York City attorney dedicated to helping you secure your purchase, your legal interests and getting you title and the keys to your new home.  Get instant access here.  http://www.sassonrealestateattorney.com/mteSRSaudio

 

 

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Purchasers Should Choose Their Own Real Estate Broker

Posted by LeeAdmin on January 06, 2014
New York, real estate, real estate agent, real estate broker / No Comments

When purchasing real estate, you will need to decide whether to use a real estate agent to assist you in your property search. Some buyers choose to do their own research – as there are many resources online which give a lot of information about properties.  However, real estate agents have access to the most recent and most current information out there – in particular, the MLS (multiple listing service) system which is not accessible to the public.  Moreover, real estate agents have the knowledge, expertise in negotiating and can guide you through the negotiation process so that your interests are best represented.  Plus it doesn’t cost you, the buyer, anything.

 

Though you will have access to a listing agent with information regarding the property, it would be in your best interest to “hire” or select your own real estate broker or agent who will represent your interests. The listing agent, is the real estate agent who listed the seller’s property and represents the seller.  When you negotiate with the listing broker, you are relying upon yourself to best represent your interest and anything that you say to the agent will most probably be communicated to the seller even if you ask them not to, since the agent is the seller’s agent. Again, choosing your own real estate agent to represent you, costs you nothing as the listing broker and your broker will work out an arrangement to share the broker commission that the seller pays to have its property sold.

 

Bidding wars and market statistics vary depending on the particular property. For instance, real estate agent, Teresa Staiano mentioned during a presentation recently that a bidding war for a brownstone in Manhattan ended up selling for $500,000 over the asking price! The market statistics are a simple understanding of supply and demand. When a particular property is “hot,” it can be sold very shortly after it is placed on the market, whereas a property that is not so popular can be on the market for years.

 

The best way to find a broker is through referrals, and the most popular way is via the internet. 86% of buyers start their searches using the internet, which is a good source of telling you which brokers know more about the particular property you may be interested in.

 

BONUS:  I recently spoke at a workshop with a few panelists on this topic.   There was a lot of information shared during the workshop.  You’re invited to claim your free instant access to a clip of the presentation. You’ll hear about the biggest mistakes that buyers make and avoiding them when purchasing real estate in New York. 0 Brought to you by Sabra Sasson, Esq., a New York City attorney dedicated to helping you secure your purchase, your legal interests and getting you title and the keys to your new home.  Get instant access here.  http://www.sassonrealestateattorney.com/mteSRSaudio

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The Importance of Self-Care When You’re in Transition

Strategies for Body and Mind When You’re Starting or Leaving a Marriage

Do you ever find yourself in pain?  Your body aches in your lower back, your shoulders or other type of discomfort?  And have you ever noticed that this may happen more often during times in your life that are stressful?  When you have a lot going on, or you are preparing for relocation, changing jobs, planning a wedding or getting divorced.

All of these are life events which cause stress and how we deal with stress can lead to different results.  Sometimes it manifests into pain somewhere in the body, other times we are able to “handle” the stress or manage it.

Stress is inevitable.

How does stress affect you?  And, what do you do when you are feeling stressed out?  Do you resist? Do you simply accept it and tell yourself “this too shall pass.” 

                           

I have found myself in different instances, managing stress that I experience in different ways.  Sometimes I feel stress when I have a lot on my plate – a very long “to do” or “action” list.  However, I often find that when I make a list of what needs to be completed, just that very activity makes me feel so much more at ease and that what needs to be completed, is finite, and I can assign dates or times when each item will be completed.

Other times, I find that I just need to get out and burn off some steam. I go to the gym and run on the treadmill, or go for a long bike ride along my favorite path.  And, sometimes just taking some down time and watching a movie or getting my nails done is all that I need.

Recently, I have incorporated massage and acupuncture into my regular routine and I have noticed that this has helped to reduce the stress that I experience in my day-to-day.

 I recently interviewed a colleague, Roberta Mittman, L.Ac., a dedicated alternative health care practitioner and licensed acupuncturist and founder of the Park Avenue Center for Wellbeing.  She spoke to me about the importance of self care and she shared strategies and tips that she recommends.  You can listen to the interview here:

 

To hear future broadcasts with many of our other professionals, please click here to visit this page to sign up for your unique call-in information

What types of ways do you manage stress in your life?  Share in the comments below.

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Real Estate: Tips for Buyers in this New Market

Did you notice the change in the real estate marketplace?

You didn’t notice?

Yes, even six months ago, it was a buyer’s market.  But, as things do, particularly in New York, the market changed, nearly overnight.

It is now a seller’s market.

In other words, there is very little inventory and there are many buyers for every property that is listed for sale.  Interest rates for mortgages are still very low and buyers have buying power, but because there is low inventory, purchase prices are increasing.

There are bidding wars.

So, how can you, as a buyer, position yourself as the “winning” buyer or the “winning” bidder?

I interviewed two stellar New York real estate agents and they spoke to me about what buyers can do to really set themselves apart from the pack.  You can hear the interview in the link below.  What you will hear them speak about includes:

What does that mean that buyers need to be more prepared?

How can a buyer prepare?

_____ kills deals

The importance of engaging in a “_________ negotiation”

It is possible to experience gazumping – and you don’t want to!

Importance of having the right team in place

 

You can listen in to the call with Leonard Gottlieb and Lori Winick if you missed it by clicking “play” below:


To hear future broadcasts with many of our other professionals, please visit this page to sign up for your unique call-in information.

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Tips for Selling Real Estate

Navigating the real estate market in New York, whether you are a buyer or seller, can be a daunting task.  As a seller, there is a lot that you can and need to do in order to sell your property, find a buyer, get the best sales price and get to the closing table.   If you were to do this on your own, you could probably eventually figure it out, but if you had the right agent on your side from the moment you decided to sell, the thorny path to selling can be paved for you so that you can go smoothly from listing your place for sale through closing.

Teresa Staiano, a real estate agent with Prudential Douglas Elliman shares some tips for sellers in a recent call with me which you can hear below, and some of those tips are outlined here:

 

Staging

A vacant home does not appear to most buyers.  In fact, only seven (7%) of people can actually visualize their furniture in it.  So staging is crucial to showing your property.  A staged home has a better chance of selling faster & for a higher price and can decrease the number of days that the property remains on the market.

(see pictures here)

Clutter

According to Teresa, “clutter eats equity” by making the home feel smaller.  It distracts buyers from seeing the property itself because of all of the nick-knacks.  Clutter can make a property feel dirty, cluttered and small which is not attractive to most buyers.  “I would suggest taking down family photos and personal items , as they make the home feel more impersonal and let’s the buyer potentially see themselves there”, says Teresa Staiano.

(see pictures here)

Professional Photos

Professional photographs are a must.  Many buyers today can do their own research online and can see pictures and sometimes take a “virtual tour” of a property before they go out to see it.  Which photographs would be more appealing?  Amateur photos or professional ones which can capture the true essence of your property. 

(see pictures here)

Implementing this tips and strategies may appear to be simple and easy, but using the right professionals and having an “eye” for what buyers are looking for are invaluable.  Listen for more tips from Teresa Staiano by clicking “play” below:


To hear future broadcasts with many of our other professionals, please visit this page to sign up for your unique call-in information.

 

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Do you have the right Will? Are you in control of your assets?

Have you ever thought about writing a Will and just haven’t gotten around to it yet?  Or, maybe you might be avoiding the conversation altogether because it’s kinda morbid and you don’t want to even think about your future death.

You can continue on that path, or face the reality, as you have heard many times,

“Two things are certain in life, death and taxes.” – Benjamin Franklin

Besides, if you don’t write a Will or do your own estate planning, New York State has its own statute which provides how your property will be distributed after your death.  However, the way it will be distributed may or may not be the way that you intend.  So, the best way to ensure that your property is passed along to your intended recipient is to write a Will or a Trust.

Another benefit of estate planning is tax planning and to protect family assets in the event of marriage or divorce.

I met with Jeffrey A. Asher, a trust and estates attorney last week during our weekly “Coffee Break With Sabra” and he talked more extensively about the importance of having a Will, who should have one and who would benefit from estate and tax planning to minimize the New York State and Federal estate tax due.  He also talked about a frequently used trust referred to as the Revocable Living Trust and its benefits.

You can listen in to the call with Jeffrey Asher to hear all about what he had to say by clicking “play” below:


To hear future broadcasts with many of our other professionals, please visit this page to sign up for your unique call-in information

 

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Do you have what it takes to secure a mortgage loan?

Posted by LeeAdmin on February 25, 2013
Coffee Break With Sabra, mortgage, New York, real estate, refi, refinance / No Comments

Inventory is low in the current New York real estate market, and, as a buyer, you will want to set yourself apart from the other buyers.  One of the ways that you can do that, is to show your prospective seller that you have your finances in order.  Soon after signing the contract of sale, you will need to immediately apply for your mortgage loan which can be overwhelming.  There are many documents and a lot of information that the bank or lending institution will request prior to granting your request for a loan.  And, if you already own property and you are seeking to refinance, many of those documents are the same. 

Jonathan Goldberg, a residential mortgage specialist with Sterling National Bank, met with me to share valuable information about what you need to have in order when applying for a mortgage or refinance an existing loan.  He says that the three most important things that the bank will evaluate are your (1) Credit profile, (2) Capacity to repay the loan profile, and (3) Collateral profile of the property to be collateralized or refinance.

Aside from the obvious in terms of providing the correct spelling of your name, social security number and current residence address, Jonathan provided a detailed list of the financial documents that the lender will request to see when doing its evaluation and he also shared some surprising information such as:

• While credit scores range from 350 to 850, according to Jonathan, even those with a credit score as low as 640 would be considered for a loan

• While most loans are in the range of 80% to 90% of the property value, there is a loan that may permit as much as 96.5% financing 

Also, you can visit www.annualcreditreport.com to get a headstart and get access to your credit report and credit profile from each of the three credit bureaus. 

To hear the full interview with Jonathan Goldberg, click the play button below

 

To hear future broadcasts with many of our other professionals, please visit this page to sign up for your unique call-in information

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You or Your Partner Can Get Your Landlord to Fix Stuff: Tips

Posted by LeeAdmin on January 23, 2012
divorce, landlord, landlord-tenant, mediation, New York, real estate, tenant / No Comments

Whether Married, Single or Just Living Together, if You’re a Renter You May Want to Know These Tips on Getting Your Landlord to Repair Stuff                

 

                                                                                           

Are one of the reasons you have chosen to rent an apartment due to the relative ease with which you can get your landlord to repair stuff?  Or maybe you didn’t really give that much thought until your dishwasher broke down, or some tiles fell off the bathroom wall or your kitchen cabinets came off its hinge from overuse or your windows leaked during the last rain.   What did you do?  Were you one of the fortunate ones who just called the landlord or managing agent and a building maintenance person came to repair or replace it?

What would you do if your landlord was not so responsive to your complaint?

1.       Follow Protocol.  Some buildings have a protocol for making complaints or reporting problems in your apartment.  Find out what that is and follow it.  Typically, it may require you to complete a form and give it to the super or inform the landlord or managing agent through the building’s website, or informing the doorman, if your building has one, would be sufficient to report the problem.

2.      Write a letter.  If there is no protocol or your complaint is not responded to, you may want to write a letter or an email to the Landlord or managing agent.  Putting it in writing is always a good idea.  It creates a paper trail and also documents the situation you are experiencing.

3.      Tip.  Approach the super or maintenance person directly and offer to tip them.  They may move your apartment to the front of the list of other units in your building also requiring repairs or your repair may be completed better.

4.      Dial 311.  If you’ve attempted to get your landlord’s attention using the foregoing methods and your complaint is still not addressed and affects your health and safety (such as vermin, bedbugs, lack of heat or hot water, exposed electrical wires or mold), you may call 311 to report the problem.  The City will send an inspector to investigate your complaint and if verified, the City may issue a fine which your landlord will have to pay.  While the problem may be fixed, this may affect your relationship with your landlord when it comes time to renegotiate your lease (though you may not want to stay anyway).

5.      Withhold Rent.  This would be considered a “last resort” option depending upon the severity of the problem you are complaining of.  You will want to look at the city’s Housing Maintenance Code to see what the courts would deem to be a serious problem before deciding to withhold any rent.  The reason you want to seriously evaluate whether to go this route is because you will likely be brought into court by your Landlord for failing to pay rent and you will need to defend yourself against eviction.  If the repair problem is not very serious, you might not prevail and your decision to withhold rent might cost you more than just the rent you didn’t pay and your time spent in court.  So consult an attorney before deciding to withhold rent.    Other repercussions if you wind up in court, is that you may find it difficult to rent another apartment since many NYC Landlords refuse to rent to someone who has previously been in litigation with another Landlord.

6.      Lawsuit.  You may want to sue your landlord for failing to comply with the law and sue the City for failing to enforce with the law.  You represent yourself or sometimes you can get the court clerks to help you with the papers and court filings so that you don’t need to hire a lawyer to represent you.  You will want to have documentation and proof to prove your case such as photographs, copies of any communications to your Landlord advising of the problem and your Landlord’s refusal to repair as well as a list of all of the problems in your apartment.  Be careful to list everything that is problematic since the court will only consider those items listed in your complaint.  Again, as in withholding rent, you may have difficulty renting another apartment if the landlord finds out that you had a lawsuit against your prior landlord.

7.      DIY.  Finally, you may want to repair the item yourself and then reduce your next rent payment by the cost of the repair.  Before you do that, get an estimate for the repair and send it to your Landlord with a request to repair.  If your Landlord refuses or fails to repair it within a reasonable time, you may want pay for the repair yourself and deduct the cost from your next rent payment.  There is a good chance that this may resolve your problem, but also, it is possible that your Landlord may decide to bring you to court for failure to pay the full rent.  So you need to decide whether you want to just pay for the cost of the repair yourself or repair it and deduct the cost from your next rent payment.  You will want to maintain a copy of your receipts in the event that your Landlord brings you to court. 

If you could get that darn dishwasher working again, more heat or fix the rodent problem in your apartment, how would that affect your relationship?  Try these tips and post your comments and your experiences below. 

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