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How Do I Know What to Do In This Real Estate Market? Is It Time to Buy or Sell a Home or Not Do Anything?

The real estate market these days can be so confusing no matter where you live in America and one thing you have to understand is the national housing reports may not reflect your local real estate condition or it may.  With there being so many conflicting reports in the news about the housing market how are you supposed to be able to determine if it is a good time to buy a house, sell a house or just hold off from doing anything?

We understand that it can be difficult to figure our what you are supposed to be doing and looking in the newspaper or searching the internet news section to this answer may only make things more confusing for you.  The only way to get the honest opinion of what move is best for you in your areas real estate market whether you live or are looking at a home in Staten Island, Brooklyn or any other part of New York is to speak with a real estate expert.  Speaking with a real estate expert such as Steven Decker Staten Island real estate lawyer will help you determine what is good not only in your areas housing market but also what is best for you personally.

To speak with Steven Decker and our real estate team at Decker, Decker, Dito & Internicola, LLP call 800.976.4904 or email us and we will help you determind what move is best for you right now, if any.

Finding the Right Decisions in Real Estate Transactions

Whether you are purchasing a home or selling a home you always have many questions and throughout the real estate process you may often wonder if you are being too safe or too risky and if the decisions you are making are the right ones.

According to a recent article in the Staten Island Advance titled “Walking Real Estate Tightropes” The article explains the similarities between an documentary about a man who in 1974 walked between the twin towers on a tightrope and the current real estate situations and decision a person must make when buying or selling a home.

Often times questions may arise throughout your real estate process that require you to take the safe approach or the “risky” approach but sometimes the safe approach may not always be the correct choice.

For some the answer to certain real estate questions may not have an actual correct or incorrect answer but may just depend solely on the opinion and risk level that a person is willing to take while other times there may be a correct answer but you may not know what it is.  The article explains that in these type of situations where there is a correct answer out there it makes sense to not just move forward with a decision based on your own opinion but rather to seek advice from a real estate expert to help find out the correct decision you should be making.

Speaking with a real estate expert such as a real estate attorney will help clarify a lot of questions that are lingering over your head regarding the real estate process.  It is good to educate yourself by speaking to other homeowners who have been through similar situations, by speaking with a real estate lawyer and by reading real estate books.  If you would like more information regarding purchasing or selling a house in Staten Island or Brooklyn New York call Steven Decker Staten Island real estate lawyer at 800.976.4904 or email us by filling out our contact form.

Staten Island Homeowners Can Appeal their Property Assesments Until March 2010

If you are one of the unhappy Staten Island homeowners who received a property assessment amount that seems like it is wrong you have the opportunity to appeal with the Tax Commission.

Property assessment amounts were already mailed out and include the approximate property value of your home.  Taken into consideration when evaluating the property value amounts is the building size, lot size, tax class, contruction year and market value.

If you own a Staten Island home that is a one, two or three family home you have until March 15, 2010 to file an appeal.  If you own a co-op or condominium you have until March 1, 2010 to file your appeal for your property assessment.

Property owners who feel the market value listed for their home on the property assessment should fill out and file a Finance Request for Review which can be found on’s website under the forms section for valuation/assessment.

If you would like to file an appeal the New York officials want the residents to know that they do not need to appear in court to appeal the decision but if you would like to you can.

Quick and Inexpensive Home Fix-ups that Can Help Your Home Sell for More

If you are considering selling your home but know it needs some fixing up and do not have the money for expensive repairs and fix-ups there is still hope for selling your home.  Doing some quick fix-ups to the appearance of your home can help you get more for the value of your home and won’t cost you much either.

Here are 15 quick fix-ups that can get your more money for your home:

  • Remove excess furniture
  • Remove excess clutter
  • Clean out your closets and organize anything that needs to stay in there in an orderly fashion
  • Patch up any nail holes in the wall that do not have pictures hanging on them
  • Keep your lawn mowed
  • Wash exterior and interior or windows thouroughly
  • Paint or replace your front door if needed
  • Power spray the outside of the house to get rid of excessive dirt and cobwebs
  • Replace the welcome mat at the front steps if the one your currently  have looks used
  • Paint or replace your mailbox if necessary
  • Wash or replace the front porch light fixture
  • Make sure your house has the house number well displayed and that the display is clean
  • Thouroughly clean the house before you put it on the market – sweep, mop, scrub, shampoo your carpet or wax your floors
  • Re-do anything that is worn down in your kitchen and bathroom
  • Re-paint the interior of your house if you are in need of a paint job

Having any edge over everyone else in this economy will  help your house sell for more and will make your house look more appealing and like it is worth more.  Once you have a buyer for  your house you will need to find a real estate lawyer in your area.  If you are looking for a real estate lawyer in Staten Island or if you are selling your Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens or Bronx New York or New Jersey home you can contact us at 800.976.4904 to find out how we represent clients selling their home like you everyday and how we can be of assistance to you.

Staten Island Home Sales: What to Do if Your Home Is Worth Less Than the Mortgage

Many people who purchased a home prior to the economic downturn may be in a situation currently where their home is now worth less than the mortgage is on it.  When a mortgage is higher than what a home is worth it is called negative equity.  Currently a lot of homes appraise for much less than what their homes used to be worth because of the recession leaving many people with mortgages that are higher than what their home is worth.

Negative equity can affect people in many different ways.  Some people may find themselves able to still pay their mortgage and may not be affected by the negative equity situation and may eventually be able to recover from the negative equity in the long run if the worth of their home goes up. Other people may find themselves unable to pay for their mortgage anymore and may want to either try to make their monthly mortgage payments more affordable or may want to sell their home so that they do not need to make such expensive mortgage payments anymore.

When a homeowner is left with a negative equity home loan and they are unable to pay their monthly mortgage payments there may seem like there is no way out and no options to recover from the damage that has been done.  They may also feel like there is no way around this problem and may seem like you are on the bottom of a huge mountain looking up at nothing but an impossible situation.  Luckily there are options for you if you are one of these homeowners.

If you cant afford to live in your home anymore you have a couple of options that you can consider before ending up in foreclosure:

  • Loan Modification – A loan modification is when the bank agrees to modify the terms of the loan outside of the original terms of the contract.  In this option you will remain living in your home but will just have the terms of the mortgage changed to help reduce your monthly payments.
  • Short Sale – A short sale is when the bank agrees to take a lower amount for the sale of your house than what the loan has left on it.  For example if you have a mortgage with $245,000 left but you can only sell your house for $220,000 the bank will decide if the amount is acceptable if so they will release you of your lien once the sale takes place.  The bank will be loosing $25,000 but they will still be making more off of the house than if the house went into foreclosure. This process starts off similar to a regular home sale where the homeowner puts the house up for sale and finds a buyer. Once a buyer is found and a contract of sale is signed certain paperwork has to be submitted to your bank so the bank can decide if the offer for the house is acceptable to them.  If so the short sale process will continue and the house will be sold at closing.

These two choices are the best way route to go if you are unable to make your montly payments anymore and have a negative equity home loan.

For more information on loan modifications or short sales in Staten Island or Brooklyn, New York or New Jersey call 718.979.4300 or 800.976.4904 to speak with a Staten Island real estate lawyer.

Staten Island Real Estate: Latest Data from Case-Shiller Shows Now is the Time to Buy a Home

Some of you, especially if you are considering buying a home, may constantly be checking to see if the housing market is improving to base your decision of whether or not you should buy a house, may have recently seen the Case-Shiller report which recently was released.  According to a recent article in the Wall Street Journal the Case-Shiller report should be used as evidence that now is the time to purchase a home.

According to the Case-Shiller report two things are true and those same truths are reasons why now may be the perfect time to buy a home:

  • The Case-Shiller 10-city index shows that real estate prices have fallen 30% since 2005
  • Mortgage rates have fell.  Mortgage rates are currently 1.4% lower for a 30 year fixed loan than in 2006.

These two major points that were released in the Case-Shiller report show that individually it improves a buyers reason to purchase a home.  When these two things are put together it is an ideal time for someone to purchase a home as long as they have the funds to do so.

If you are interested in purchasing a home in New York and are looking for legal representation for your home purchase contact Steven T. Decker Staten Island and Brooklyn real estate attorney at 718.979.4300 or 800.976.4904.  We look forward to speaking with you and answering any legal questions you have regarding your Staten Island or Brooklyn real estate purchase.


First Time Homebuyers Were Very Active In Purchasing Homes in New Jersey in 2009 According to Survey

By now you probably know about the First Time Homebuyers Tax Credit that has been available to first time homebuyers and homebuyers who have not owned a  home in the past three years and you may have even heard that the first time homebuyers tax credit has been extended until spring of 2010.  But is this tax credit really working?  Well in New Jersey it seems to be.

According to the New Jersey Association of Realtors (NJAR) the number of first time home buyers rose in 2009 to account for 52% of the total real estate purchases that took place in the state of New Jersey.  In 2008 first time homebuyers accounted for 49% and in 2007 they accounted for only 36%.

Many people are saying that now is the perfect time to buy a home especially in the northeast area such as New York or New Jersey.  When compared with other national real estate market statistics the northeast seems to be experiencing an overall better housing market than the rest of America in many aspects such as house value along with the amount of equity earned in from the house.

When the first time homebuyers who bought homes in New Jersey recently what was the biggest reason for the move it was because of the First Time Homebuyers Tax Credit and because of low mortgage rates.

Currently if you are a first time homebuyer purchasing a home in New York, New Jersey or anywhere else in the United States you may be eligible to receive up to $8,000 back for the purchase of your first home.

If you would like to know more about the purchase process and are currently residing or wish to reside in New York or New Jersey you can contact our real estate law office for any questions you may have regarding the legal aspect of purchasing a home.  Steven T. Decker Staten Island real estate lawyer can be reached at 718.979.4300 or 800.976.4909.


The Most Common Mistakes Homebuyers Make when Having their Home Inspected

Purchasing a home is usually the most expensive purchase you will ever make in your life and you will not want to skimp on necessary things during your purchase process such as a home inspect or a real estate attorney. Making sure you included important precautionany steps during the home purchasing process will be key to you ultimately being happy with your new home.

One important aspect of purchasing a home is making sure that there are no hidden defects in the home’s structure or large appliances such as the hot water heater.  A home inspection report (also known as an engineers report) will reveal any problems with the house and will allow you to make an educated decision with your home purchase.  Having a home inspection done costs a few hundred dollars but if not done can potentially cost you tens of thousands in the long run.

Eventhough you have a home inspection done doesn’t mean that you are completely in the clear there are some guidelines that you will want to follow when choosing a home inspector and when the home inspection is taking place that will help ensure you get the most out of your home inspection and that you won’t get any unexpected unpleasant suprises a few months or years down the road after you move into your new home.

Some guidelines you will want to follow when having your home inspection done are as follows:

  • Make sure you get a home inspection done even if the property is newly constructed
  • Choose a home inspector based on the experience and knowledge of the person not by the cheapest price
  • Be present for the home inspection
  • Follow your home inspector’s recommendations (after all they are the expert in this field)

Following these steps will help ensure that you get the most out of your home inspection.

If you would like more information on purchasing a home you can contact us to receive a free copy of “5 Myths that Can Ruin the Purchase of Your Home“.  We are currently offering this real estate book written by Staten Island real estate lawyer Steven Decker at no cost to those purchasing a home in New York or New Jersey.


Short Sales Should Eventually Become a Shorter Process

If you are a troubled homeowner who was at risk of having their home foreclosed on you may be considering something called a short sale and you may or may not be familiar with the process of a short sale.  If you are considering the process of a short sale for your home as an alternative to foreclosure it may be the best things for you because unlike a foreclosure the debt does not stay with you and it does not go on your credit report that you have been involved in a foreclosure (foreclosures stay on your credit report for 7 years).  But one thing that short sales are known for in the past are for not being short.

Short sales usually never take under three months to close.  As a matter of a fact, short sales on average take six months or longer.  Eventhough the process is worth the wait for the seller and most of the time, as long as the sale goes though, for the buyer and bank also.  But that is not to say that the wait is not a time that many wish would go buy faster.

According to a recent announcement made the Department of Treasury has decided to step in and do something that sellers can’t do when they are involved in a short sale and that is tell the banks to make the short sale process and loan modification process go by faster.  The main thing motivating the Department of Treasury to make the short sale process faster is that currently 80% of all short sales fall through because the process is taking too long and the buyer decides they no longer want the home.

Other people than the seller and purchaser will profit from changes being made to the short sale process in the future also.  Real estate agents have been reluctant to take on short sales because a lot of times it results in the realtor’s commission being decreased in order to allow the sale to go through when the lender says that they would like the house to be sold at a higher price than what the purchaser is willing to offer.  Often times the real estate agent decreases their fee in order to allow the sale to still go through – under the new short sale rules this will no longer be able to happen so realtors may be less reluctant to accept short sale deals.

Under the new short sale rules lending institutions will be required to approve or disapprove a short sale within 10 days and will also have to excuse the individual applying for the short sale from all debt obligations once the short sale is completed.  The Department of Treasurty has advised banks and lending institutions that they have until April 5, 2010 to put the new short sale rules into effect.


The Importance of a New York Real Estate Attorney: Why You Need a Real Estate Lawyer When Purchasing a Home in New York?

Purchasing a home for many people may seem like a simple task from the outside looking in but once you have experienced the process of purchasing a house you quickly find out that there is more involved to it than just picking a nice house, signing one document and then arranging for your furniture to be moved into your new house.  In fact there are many smaller processes involved within the process of buying a home.

Buying a home requires the experience and skill of someone who will be able to guide you based on their legal expertise and will be able to look out for your best interest.  Many people who are purchasing a home in New York wonder why do I need a real estate lawyer when I purchase my home?

Here are some reason to consider why hiring a real estate attorney is helpful in the home purchasing process:

  • Negotiations – Although a real estate lawyer is not necessary during the negotiation stages of a real estate purchase it can be helpful to speak to an attorney if you have any questions regarding the purchase price and tax related issues is you are concerned at all.  Presenting your concerns and questions to your real estate attorney will give them the opportunity to address a situation prior to you already being bound to a house and will be able to ease your mind if you do not have that one question hanging over your head.
  • Contract of Sale – A contract of sale is not a simple document or at least it shouldn’t be.  This is one stage that a real estate attorney is especially necessary.  A New York contract of sale contains many different specifics associated with the purchase of the house and although the sellers attorney is normally the one who prepares the contract of sale the purchasers attorney is the one who will sit down with you, the purchaser, to explain everything you will need to know about what you are signing and what it means for you.  A real estate contract of sale usually includes many important factors such as: what is included in the sale, the purchase price, the amount of the downpayment which is to be paid, if the downpayment will be held in escrow by the seller’s attorney and what the provisions of the escrow are, how many days you have to obtain a mortgage commitment and what happens in the event that you are unable to obtain a mortgage committment, what will happen if substancial damages to the house are present or termites exist in the house, the requirement of a certificate of occupancy, the requirement of a clear title in order for closing to occur and what will happen if there is an issue that can not be cleared on the title, when the closing date is scheduled to be (the “on or about” date) and how long after that you have to close, what happens if the seller is not ready to close and you are and many other important issues As you can see having an attorney to explain the details, requirements and repercussions of these different topics is very helpful.
  • Obtaining a Mortgage – Most buyers finance the majority of their home purchases though a mortgage.  Not only is it important that the correct provisions be in the contract of sale regarding you obtaining a mortgage but it is also important to have an experienced attorney’s opinion on what mortgage is best for you individually and the terms and conditions that the mortgage comes with.
  • Title – In order to close on a property it is usually necessary that there be a clear title.  A title is something that is ordered from a title insurance company and will list any violations against the seller, you (the purchaser) and the property address.  Violations against the seller and buyer may include traffic tickets, warrants and many other areas and the violations that may show up on a house are fines that have been issued due to complaints and many other things.  An attorney will review the information and will make sure everything is clear on all ends before moving forward with the purchase of the home.
  • Zoning and Survey – Knowing where your property lines are is something that is very important when purchasing a home.  You want to make sure your fence and everything that is about to be yours is in your property lines.  Your attorney will be able to order a survey for you and have it certified to you.  This will help ensure where the property lines are and will show proof of when the survey was last done.  Your attorney will be able to explain the findings of the survey and will be able to answer any questions you may have.
  • Closing – The final step that your real estate attorney will handle is the closing of title.  This is when the deed is signed over to you.  Having an attorney present at closing will ensure that your deed and the supporting documents which include information for tax purposes are executed properly and have the proper language in them.  Your real estate attorney will also handle the distribution of closing costs to the proper parties and will be able to make sure that your funds are going to the right place.

If you would like to speak with an experienced real estate attorney in Staten Island, New York and would like to speak with one regarding representing you throughout your purchasing process please contact Steven T. Decker at 718.979.4300.