Real Estate News

Since completing the National associations of Realtors GREEN Designation in 2010, I’ve received a steady stream of articles from friends and associates about anything to do with GREEN.

My personal favorites have to do with indoor air quality.  It’s not the first thing you might think of when you think GREEN.    We have been conditioned from a young age to believe a clean house smells like Clorox and Windex. It’s only recently that we’ve begun to read labels to discover what exactly I’m breathing in from all these chemical cleaners and what the possible side effects might be.   Public awareness is growing regarding the toxic emissions in an average home.  In my home we are experimenting with eco friendly cleaners.  Some are better than others but we are not quite ready to toss the Windex just yet.  Besides products you bring in to the home, there are toxic emissions that are already there.  Are you aware that most of the products in an average kitchen are made with materials that contain formaldehyde including, Formica, particle board and plywood?  Most carpeting releases over 31 different chemicals into the home, including formaldehyde.  Until recently many people believed that indoor air quality dangers referred only to mold & musty air.  Is it any wonder so many people have allergies and headaches at the very least.  One study I read about new carpeting mentioned that since there were so many off gasses in carpet, the EPA could not specifically say if carpet itself was the cause of any specific disease or ailment.  That makes me feel much better.   One thing the study did note was that carpet manufacturers must now label carpeting and list the chemical ingredients.

Many people suffer from illnesses that can be linked to the indoor air quality of their workplace or home.  If you are concerned about the air quality in your home or workplace you can have the air tested.  Contact me for more information.

As a result of my GREEN designation and GREEN awareness, I have become a chronic label reader, and for our own good health I hope it continues to catch on.


Joe Baratta, Broker, Green, SFR, ITI

Posted in:General
Posted by Joseph Baratta on April 20th, 2018 7:27 AM

Tarrytown NY holds many memories for me. Back in the early 80’s many of the office buildings along 119 were just being built. My dad Joseph Baratta Sr. was the engineer that designed most of those buildings, including the Westchester Marriott and the Christiania building both icons of Tarrytown.

     

  I was lucky enough to be sent on those job sites as an inspector on dad’s behalf, to ensure that the proper steel reinforcing was in place before concrete was to be poured. As a young man from Queens, Tarrytown was a great distance to travel. At the time I had never driven beyond the Tappanzee Bridge. It soon became a very easy and enjoyable commute. I ate at many of the local restaurants. My dad’s favorite was the Eldorado Diner on 119. Whenever he came up to the jobsite, he would take me there to eat. Recently that diner was torn down and will soon be the new Tarrytown Honda Dealership. It looks great so far and it will be an asset to the area. I’m pieces so I am drawn to the water. To this day I still love driving to the water front in Tarrytown. Occasionally I’ll drive to one of the many waterfront public spots to soak in the ambiance. I can sit there all day and look out at the water.

                  

Tarrytown is an area that fits all budgets. My personal favorite is Hudson Harbor Condominiums. Breathtaking views of the Hudson and The new Tappanzee Bridge. Just a quick walk to the train station and Main Street in Downtown Tarrytown. You’ll find some of the best places to eat and shop. I feel like I’m on vacation whenever I stroll through with my bride. We have several favorite eating places in town. I might end up living there one day myself once my nest empties out.

Check out Tarrytown for yourself one day. You might fall in love. If you do, give me a ring and I’ll find you somewhere great to own or rent.

Posted in:General
Posted by Joseph Baratta on March 24th, 2018 10:01 PM

A big question I get asked often is, is it it better to buy a turn key property or a fixer upper? 

Turn key is when everything is in such great shape that you could just move in with only a few minor changes like maybe changing the color of one room, or swapping out a carpet in one or 2 rooms. Things like that.  Or perhaps a bathroom tile isn’t your taste but it’s in excellent condition.  You could live with that for a few years.

Lost Places, Barracks, Leave, Old, Decay, Ruin, LapsedThen there’s the fixer upper.  They come in many levels. Some downright need skilled professionals to get them move in ready.  Several years ago I sold a home for a couple as part of their divorce.  The house was the only asset left to divide.  The kitchen, boiler, water tank & door knobs were all ripped out. I guess someone felt that those items belonged to them & not the house.   I wish I were kidding.  Besides the missing fixtures, the windows were old and paint was peeling wherever you looked.  Although it was a bargain when it sold, it wasn’t a home that was easily repairable for just anybody.   The buyer was a contractor with his own crew and was able to get the house completely restored in just a few months. 

I have met may buyers that lost a small fortune in a house that needed so much more than they were able to handle.  Don’t let that be you.  If you are looking to invest in a home or you know someone who might be, let me help.  I have a lifetime of construction experience.  I can offer advice and estimate costs of repairs and I can spot defects & problems that can cost you a bundle down the road. 

Posted in:Real Estate News and tagged: Fixer Upper
Posted by Joseph Baratta on March 8th, 2018 3:38 PM

Where you live should reflect your lifestyle. These questions will help you find the best community for you.

Is it close to my favorite spots?

Make a list of activities you engage in and stores you visit frequently. See how far you would have to travel from each neighborhood you’re considering to engage in your most common activities.

Is it safe?

Contact the police department to obtain neighborhood crime statistics. Consider not only the number of crimes but also the type and trend. (Is crime going up or down?). Pay attention to see where in the neighborhood the crime is happening.

Is it economically stable?

Check with your local economic development office to see if household income and property values in the neighborhood are stable or rising. What is the ratio of owner-occupied homes to rentals? Apartments don’t necessarily diminish value, but they indicate a more transient population. Are there vacant businesses or homes that have been on the market for months? Check news sources to find out if new development is planned.

Is it a good investment?

Ask a local REALTOR® about price appreciation in the neighborhood. Although past performance is no guarantee of future results, this information may give you a sense of how a home’s value might grow. A REALTOR ® also may be able to tell you about planned developments or other changes coming to the neighborhood — such as a new school or highway — that might affect its value.

Do I like what I see?

Once you’ve narrowed your focus to two or three neighborhoods, go and get a feel for what it might be like to live there. Take notes: Are homes tidy and well maintained? Are streets bustling or quiet? How does it feel? Pick a pleasant day if you can, and chat with people working or playing outside.

What’s the school district like?

This is especially important if you have children, but it also can affect resale value. The local school district can probably provide information on test scores, class size, the percentage of students who attend college, and special enrichment programs. If you have school-age children, visit schools in neighborhoods you’re considering.                  

Courtesy Realtor.com

Posted by Joseph Baratta on February 23rd, 2018 6:47 PM

The Federal Reserve voted last Wednesday to leave its benchmark interest rate unchanged, but it continues to leave the door open to future increases this year. The Fed’s benchmark rate will remain in the range of 1.25 percent to 1.5 percent, which is low by historical standards. Fed committee members said that by leaving the rate unchanged, they hope the low rates will help support broader job growth and stronger inflation.

Lawrence Yun, chief economist of the National Association of REALTORS®, predicts the Fed will still do three short-term rate hikes later this year—and that will have an impact on mortgage rates for home shoppers. “The series of rate hikes will nudge up mortgage rates, though not in one-to-one fashion,” Yun says. “Moreover, the Fed’s quantitative un-easing of selling the bonds and mortgage-backed securities into the market [after having purchased in recent years] will also force up longer-term interest rates, including mortgage rates.”

Yun predicts that mortgage rates will reach 4.5 percent by the second half of the year.

The Federal Reserve sounded a fairly upbeat tone in its economic outlook on Wednesday. It hinted that a rate hike is likely at its next meeting in March. The Fed said the economy is growing at a “solid rate.” The economy grew at 2.3 percent in 2017, and many economists are expecting faster growth this year. The unemployment rate was at 4.1 percent in December 2017. “The stance of monetary policy remains accommodative, thereby supporting strong labor market conditions and a sustained return to 2 percent inflation,” the Fed said in a post-meeting statement.

Fed Chair Janet L. Yellen will end her four-year tenure at the end of this week. Jerome H. Powell, a Fed governor since 2012, has been named as her replacement.

Source: REALTOR® Magazine and “Federal Reserve Leaves Rates Unchanged,” The New York Times (Jan. 31, 2018)

Posted by Joseph Baratta on February 7th, 2018 11:42 AM

If you’re buying an old house with pipes sticking out of the ground in your yard, beware.  You might have a buried oil tank somewhere at the property.   While the majority of homes today are heated with natural gas, there is still a large percentage of homes that are heated with fuel oil, and far more houses with abandoned oil tanks.

When a home gets converted from oil to natural gas, the old oil tank becomes abandoned.  Once the tank is abandoned, it needs to be dealt with.

If the tank is buried, it needs to be removed or filled in place  If a fuel oil tank is left buried, it could eventually leak.  A leaking underground storage tank (LUST) can contaminate the soil and ground water as well as the home, creating an environmental hazard that can cost thousands to clean up.  

The first step is to locate the tank.  Once located, a hole is cut large enough for a worker to fit inside.  Any residual oil is pumped out.  The worker climbs in & wipes down the entire inside surface of the tank with a special solvent.  If the tank is in exceptional condition, the contractor can fill the tank with sand in the presence of the local building inspector or code enforcement officer.  No longer common practice, since most municipalities require that all buried tanks must be extracted from the ground.

Extracting the tank must be done by a certified environmental contractor in the presence of the local building inspector or code enforcement officer.  Watch my video to see how it's done.  Once the tank is out of the ground, the inspector looks for any holes or signs of oil in the soil surrounding the tank.  If everything looks good, the inspector certifies the removal with the necessary paperwork. 

Home Inspectors & Standards of Practice

Home Inspection Standards of Practice specifically state that buried fuel oil tanks are not something that home inspectors are required to inspect.  

Does this mean that if a home inspector sees obvious clues that a buried fuel oil tank is present, they should keep their mouth shut?  Heck no.  A buried fuel oil tank is important to know about when buying a house.  If a home inspector has enough experience to suspect a buried fuel tank, they should say so, even though they’re not required to.

In my 33 years of experience in the construction / home improvement industry and 18 years as a real estate broker I have been in more homes than your average real estate professional.  Put my experience to work for you or someone you know looking for a home in Westchester County or Rockland County.  My office is in Tarrytown NY.


Posted by Joseph Baratta on January 22nd, 2018 7:26 AM

 

A short sale is when the homeowner's lender consents to collect a reduced payoff to release a mortgage. For more information, just call us through our site or Email us. We're happy to address questions you have regarding real estate short sales

Are short sales bargains?

The short answer is "sometimes". Many people hear the phrase "short sale" and routinely think of a seller that is in default and needs to sell their property quickly to avoid further financial problems. This is occasionally the case and can be an opportunity for a buyer to take advantage of another's misfortune. Alternatively, a lender may consider a short sale even if the seller isn't delinquent with their payments, but property values have fallen. In these cases the "bargain" price may in fact be consistent with actual market values instead of below.

Are you ready to buy a short sale property?
  • Prior to making any purchase offers, do your research. Using an experienced real estate agent from Joseph Baratta Realty to support your research of a property will help you make knowledgeable decisions. We can help reveal to whom the property is titled, the balance still owed to the lender, and whether or not a foreclosure notice has been filed. Finding this data can help you decide how much to offer.
  • Hire an agent with short sale knowledge. The real estate agents at Joseph  Baratta Realty can assist you in expediting the transaction and make sure you're protected. Don't allow inexperience to impede the closing process. Put our experience and knowledge to work in your favor.

  • Even with an experienced real estate agent and under the best of situations, buying a short sale property will probably take longer than a typical real estate transaction. Know that a majority of short sales will not close in 30 days or less. Remember that you're not only getting approval from the seller, but the lender must also agree to the terms of the sale. It's not uncommon that your offer will be seen by a committee to approve or disapprove, which will add time - sometimes even 2 to 3 months.

  • Home warranties, buyer credits and allowances, and closing cost concessions are usually non-negotiable when dealing with a short sale. The lender is selling the property as seen which means the lender won't be paying for repairs. Make sure you reserve the right to perform inspections for pests, HVAC, electrical, and other critical areas. At Joseph Baratta Realty, when we write an offer, we will be looking out for your interests first and foremost and will always advise you to make your offer contingent upon the inspection results.


When you are ready to buy, whether it is a short sale or a typical home sale, Call me,  Joseph Baratta I can help you. Utilize our experience and knowledge of real estate to make sure you are getting a fair deal and protect yourself during the entire matter.
Posted in:Real Estate News and tagged: Short Sale
Posted by Joseph Baratta on January 15th, 2018 12:57 PM

When the weather is in the single digits, I like to think about the places & things I like about New York.   One of my favorite places to visit is the village of Mamaroneck.  I take my lunch “to go” and stop at the marina for a peaceful, relaxing & calming break.


Mamaroneck has a great history.

Originally the farming community of  Mamaroneck was located on two sides of the Mamaroneck River. In the 1890s the two areas surrounding the river were joined into one commercial village, Mamaroneck, which was incorporated in 1895. The east side of the village lies in the town of Rye and is known as Rye Neck. Some controversy surrounded the incorporation of the village, but the State Appellate Court approved the village's election status. The population of Mamaroneck village in 1895 was 1,500.[4]

Along with the other shore communities of Westchester, Mamaroneck was at one time the location of summer residences for wealthy families from New York City. Summer residence neighborhoods included Greenhaven, Orienta and Shore Acres. The local railroad from New York City (now Metro-North) began to serve the village in 1848. Currently the village of Mamaroneck is a commuter town for individuals working in Manhattan. A harbor on the Long Island Sound supports facilities for pleasure boating and is the location of Harbor Island Park, a large public park with beach and sporting facilities.

The main commercial streets in Mamaroneck are the Boston Post Road (U.S. Route 1) and Mamaroneck Avenue, the site of several annual parades. Local industry is centered on Fenimore Road.

Other areas of the town include Heathcote Hill overlooking the harbor, Harbor Heights to the northeast, Old Rye Neck (settled in the 1880s), Rye Neck (settled in the 1920s and 1930s) and Washingtonville, better known as "The Flats", due to the flat, low-lying topography of the area.

I didn't know they were still around but Archie Comics is headquartered in the village of Mamaroneck.    
Marval Industries, a manufacturer of plastics, employing about 70 people. It is one of a very few businesses along Metro-North Railroad's New Haven Line that still utilize the freight trains.

Notable people from Mamaroneck NY

  • William Kunstler, radical lawyer and civil rights activist; lived on West Street
  • Gary Young (drummer), first drummer of the 90s seminal alternative band Pavement
  • Cat Greenleaf, News Reporter and Host of NBC's Emmy Award Winning Program, Talk Stoop
  • Matt Dillon grew up in Mamaroneck
  • Kevin Dillon grew up in Mamaroneck
  • Norman Rockwell lived in Mamaroneck
  • James Fenimore Cooper lived in Mamaroneck
  • Scott Leius (baseball player) lived in Mamaroneck
  • During the times of silent movies DW Griffith's studio was located on Orienta Point in Mamaroneck and the famous silent movie actresses the Gish sisters both lived there.
  • Edwin B. Dooley, former US Congressman
  • Robert Ripley had a home on BION (Believe It Or Not) Island, just off Taylor Lane
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia              Image credit:   WestchesterMagazine.com
 
Posted in:Real Estate News and tagged: Places
Posted by Joseph Baratta on January 8th, 2018 5:29 PM

Fundamentally the spring is the most perfect time to sell a house, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get it sold during the winter months. 

First off,  there’s much less competition this time of year and any buyers that are out house shopping in the cold are some seriously motivated buyers.


Most sellers are not thinking about listing their home for sale until the winter breaks its grip.  In fact most sellers don’t even make a plan to get their house ready for sale until the end of February or beginning of March, which is a bad idea in itself, but that’s a discussion for another day. 

Another reason it’s a good idea is that since there are fewer homes for sale, buyers have less to choose from.  Sellers do need to keep in mind that their homes need to be in neat showing condition at all times. 

Anyone taking the time to shop for a new home this time of year is highly motivated. Perhaps they are being transferred to this area, changing jobs, fast growing family, whatever the reason Mr. & Mrs. Seller; let’s make it easy for them by keeping the home looking in tip top condition and make sure you're flexible when it comes to making the home available to show.

Finally my last reason is that since there are fewer homes for sale, fewer transactions means everyone connected  has more time to invest on the sale.  Faster loan processing, quicker inspection reports, quicker closings.


Posted by Joseph Baratta on December 26th, 2017 9:10 PM

7 Things To Consider Before You Take The Plunge   

 

Enticing, right? If you're getting ready to plunk down cash for your own flip, here are a few things you need to think about.

1. Make sure you've got the money

Sounds obvious, but…do you really know the financial stakes involved? "The first expense is the property acquisition cost. While low/no money down financing claims abound, finding these deals from a legitimate vendor is easier said than done. Also, if you're financing the acquisition, that means you're paying interest," said Investopedia. "Every dollar spent on interest adds to the amount you will need to earn on the sale just to break even."

If you're planning to pay cash, you won't have to worry about interest, but you will have carrying costs including utilities, property taxes, and HOA fees where applicable.

Here are a few other options for buying property to flip, courtesy of Auction.com: "If you don't have enough cash to purchase a home, the next cheapest source is a home equity line of Credit (HELOC). These are low-interest, variable-rate lines of credit that are secured by either your primary residence or an investment property. Typically, the HELOC rate is set about 1–2% above the prime rate. You need to put the HELOC in place before you bid on any homes; then you can bid on the home as a ‘cash deal,' rather than as a ‘financing deal.' Many investors use hard money loans or other conventional mortgages to finance their flips. Because of the higher interest rates and points paid at closing, both will reduce your net profit considerably, and are not recommended for flips unless absolutely necessary."

2. Buy in the best location you can

"Expert house flippers can't stress this enough," said MoneyCrashers. "Find a home in a desirable neighborhood, or in a city where people want to live." And keep in mind the convenience factor—for the potential buyers, certainly, but also for you. "You will work on this house daily in the weeks and months to come. Do you really want to work all day, and then drive an hour to get home? Don't invest in a house too far away from where you live; you will spend more money on gas, and it will take longer to fix up the house."

3. Work with a realtor...or become one

Tying to maximize profit by selling a flip yourself rarely works out well if you don't know what you're doing. If you think trying to figure out if the wall you want to take down is load bearing is complicated, just try to figure out disclosures and conditions without going to real estate school. The money you spend on a Realtor commission can be well worth it for the ability to concentrate on other things and know the sale is in good hands.

Beyond getting the home sold, good real estate agents can be helpful in other important ways when it comes to flipping. "They can help you find great deals, get you comps, help you connect with lenders or contractors, and a lot more," said BiggerPockets. "Don't settle for an average agent though—find a great investor friendly agent."


Pinterest


4. Check the comps. And check them again

Speaking of comps…you can't make a smart decision on buying, fixing up, and flipping a house if you aren't aware of the prices in the neighborhood. And that might be easier said than done. In states like Texas, home sales are not reported and are not public record like they are in states like California. Do your research so you know what you're up against.

5. Make smart updates

Knowing where to spend your money is key to a successful flip. You don't want to leave key areas untouched but you also don't want to over-improve for the neighborhood. "Home improvements that increase the value of a home might include upgrading kitchen appliances, repainting the home's exteriors, installing additional closet storage space, upgrading the deck, and adding green energy technologies," said MoneyCrashers. "On the other hand, avoid home improvements that won't increase the selling price, like installing a pool, installing a whirlpool bath, or adding a sunroom to the house."

This is another good reason to use a Realtor who is a local expert: they'll be knowledgeable about specific updates that are important in your market.


How Stuff Works

6. Use good products

Scrimping on construction costs may seem like a good idea if it means your financial commitment is lower, but low-end materials might not get the home sold or fetch the sales price you want.

7. Work with good people

Everyone you work with has the ability to make your flip a success or derail it. Partner with those you can trust, and don't forget to make sure they're qualified for their role. A bargain basement subcontractor that does a shoddy job on your floors can end up costing you thousands when you have to have it redone by a professional.

On the flip side, "The real money in house flipping comes from sweat equity, said Investopedia. "If you're handy with a hammer, enjoy laying carpet, can hang drywall, roof a house and install a kitchen sink, you've got the skills to flip a house. On the other hand, if you've got to pay a professional to do all of this work, the odds of making a profit on your investment will be dramatically reduced."

Written by Jaymi Naciri Posted On Wednesday, 16 March 2016 20:16

Posted by Joseph Baratta on December 14th, 2017 11:43 AM

I installed my first laminate floor in 1995.  Each edge of each piece had to have glue applied. Once the pieces were joined the glue would have to be wiped off of the surface before it dried.  What a job that was.  I believe Swiffers were invented mainly for laminate floors for one main reason,  they cleaned the laminate floor with a minimal amount of moisture.

When Laminate flooring (Pergo) first came out we were told it was perfect for every room in the house, including kitchens & bathrooms.  I knew that would turn out to be a disaster after holding a piece in my hands for the first time. Most home owners insisted it be installed in bathrooms & kitchens since the manufacturer boasted how well it held up.   The earliest version of laminate flooring  (Pergo brand)  was made of the lowest density particle board with a thin melamine finish.  The surface was hard but the material behind it was soft and porous. It was not able to withstand any impacts. If you mopped it, the soft porous particleboard would soak up the water and delaminate in no time.   


Over the years the manufacturers have improved the density of the backing material and recently they have solved the moisture absorbing, swelling & delamination problem.

Pergo has found a new solution.  It’s called “Outlast+”   With “Spill Protect24”.


I hope in a few years we won’t be getting callbacks to replace it like we have using the standard laminate flooring.

Standard laminate flooring is relatively cheap and easy to install therefore it gets installed 4 times more than traditional kitchen & bath flooring like tile, and vinyl products.

Time will tell.

J.O.B.

Posted in:Real Estate News and tagged: FlooringKitchens
Posted by Joseph Baratta on November 22nd, 2017 8:05 AM

Hi All:

Welcome to my first blog post ever.  This is all new to me so hang in there while I get the hang of it.  I will do my best to post interesting, relevant & informative content so you will keep coming back to read it.   I will use this platform to share my experiences and  knowledge in the real estate world as well as the home improvement world. They are so deeply connected.  I plan to bring value to the time you spend reading what I have to say. Feel free to ask me anything related to my world.

Thank you.  J.O.B.

Posted in:Real Estate News and tagged: Introduction
Posted by Joseph Baratta on November 19th, 2017 11:06 AM