Home Buying in Brooklyn
I started this page because we were looking to buy a home in Brooklyn and wanted to keep links to Brooklyn real estate websites together. I moved those links to the bottom of this page because I wanted to describe the process we took in buying a house in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn. Although the process for buying a house in New York City was a lot easier than we thought, the time frame from beginning to closing was a lot longer than we thought too.
8/15/15: This August we will be here for six years and buying this house was the best decision we ever made!
1/2/2012 edit: I made this page because I couldn’t find specific info I needed to rest my nerves because I knew the total cost of buying a home in Brooklyn was higher than I was estimating in my head because of closing costs (see below) and I wanted to know EVERYTHING so there were no surprises. Everyone was so calm throughout the house buying process, but I was so nervous that we weren’t going to be ready for closing. Buying a home in Bay Ridge is one of the best things we ever did!
Here’s how we started our house buying process in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn:
A 1) Figure out what area of Brooklyn you want to live. For us, we narrowed our area down to Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights and the beginning of the Bath Beach area. We also looked in Park Slope, Windsor Terrace and Prospect Heights, but found the houses to be too small, plus most didn’t have driveways and the backyards were very small as well. We kept our options open and we even visited a house with a gorgeous interior in Bed Stuy as well as homes in Staten Island, Queens and Long Island. We love Brooklyn and realized Staten Island, NJ and Long Island weren’t for us right now. I work in Brooklyn and Lee works in Manhattan. We also like going out in the city on the weekend so we didn’t want to be too far away. If you know me, you know I’ve always loved Bay Ridge.
Some people purchase a home based on how well the local schools perform. If you are new to Brooklyn or New York and want to know which school your child will attend in NYC or how well a school performs, you can search Inside Schools or the Great Schools website. (You can also call go to http://www.zillow.com and put in the address of the home you are interested it. When you click on the home’s location on the map, it will show the public elementary school, junior high school and high school for that home).
If you are young/artsy, check out Williamsburg, Brooklyn. The place is loaded with hipsters, has a great vibe and it’s beautiful too.
*January 11, 2011 Update: A reader commented that Bay Ridge and Park Slope are expensive places to live. They are, but if you are buying a house in Brooklyn and plan to be here awhile, buy it in the best area you can afford to live…..Buy it in the area you love because you are probably going to buy a house only once (possibly twice)
2/19/13 edit: Reader question: What is the best part of Bay Ridge to purchase a home?
I think the area below fourth Avenue from about 78th Street to Marine Avenue is fantastic.
Where are the less expensive homes in Bay Ridge? Above fifth Avenue and before 70th Street
2) Decide what type of home you need. We wanted a standard house – living room, dining room and kitchen plus 3 bedrooms. We also really needed a garage in front so that the home so we would still have a big backyard. We didn’t want to share parking and have to deal with a neighbor who was always parking in the shared driveway. When we purchased the home, we wanted to put up a pool in the yard because we love having backyard parties and barbecues. *If you are thinking of living in Bay Ridge you definitely need parking. A friend who had purchased a frame home warned us that frame homes aren’t as as warm as a brick homes and that if you are going to buy a home in Bay Ridge it MUST have a driveaway. * Thankfully, most homes in Bay Ridge are brick, rather than frame homes.
We found a home in great condition with a driveway and garage after looking at many homes.
(1/17/12 edit: Don’t buy a house in Bay Ridge without parking (SERIOUSLY DON’T DO IT). Parking is crazy around here and I’ve met three Ridgites who bought homes with shared driveways and ended up purchasing the home next to them because they don’t want to have fights with new neighbors.) So many of our neighbors came up to us and said they would have been interested in purchasing our home JUST SO THEY COULD HAVE A PARKING SPOT…..parking is seriously crazy in this area. A tiny house sold on our block this past year and a few of my neighbors were thinking of purchasing it just for the driveway. August 2015 – Some buildings around here were sold and they plan to convert the building to condos and build upward. Buying a home in this area without a driveway or garage would be a big mistake.
8/15 I saw this sign that this Brooklyn comedian made except he’s not joking.
* The more we visited with realtors and went to open houses, the more we were sure that we wanted this type of home. If you don’t know what type of home you need/want, go and visit some homes during open house and note what is important to you. We saw 66 homes before deciding on the one we purchased. There were days I was frustrated because a lot of homes are poorly maintained and the owners still wanted a lot of money for them. I remained hopeful because I knew that our time would come. 1/13 Update: Remain hopeful – your home is out there!
Deciding on what condition your future home is going to be in is also important. Lee is super handy and can fix anything, but we didn’t want to buy a home that needed major construction on it. Why? Because just to start construction on a home in Brooklyn you need to have an engineer make the plans for you. The cost for the engineer’s plans is around $2500 to $5000 (the fee includes the expediting service and the printing of the blueprints). Plus the cost of a new kitchen ($30,000 – okay $22,000 if you are frugal) Plus there would be a lot of dust and a mess in the home while the renovations were being done. So expect to do some work, but my suggestion is to look for a home that you can move into and work on while you live in it.
3) Every time you go to an open house, take at least one picture of the house. It’s so easy to forget what they look like. When you enter one that you feel might be the one, start snapping a lot of pictures. Take the flash off so you aren’t so obvious.
1/12 edit: Who cares if you are obvious when you are taking pictures? You are investing a lot of money – take all the pics you like and use the flash. One tip: Ask to use the bathroom. Flush the toilet in the bathroom and run the water because some old homes in this area don’t have good water pressure. Ours is okay, but we checked it (and many other homes in the area) because we rented a place with poor pressure.
4) Take your time in the home and don’t be shy about asking to see it again. You are making a large purchase. (1/2/2012: Sit down in the home. We sat down in each room on each floor. No one cares if you sit down on the sofa. A friend told me to do this when I was considering a home. Can you picture yourself in that home? Our realtor was excellent and didn’t mind that we took our time while we were looking at the home. He knew we were serious buyers.)
B) Buy a looseleaf binder from Staples and place looseleaf and clear pocket sheets in the binder to keep the documents and paperwork that you need to present to the bank for your mortgage:
In the clear pocket sheets put:
a) A copy of your taxes for the last two years (we prepared our taxes on H&R Block website so this was easy to do)
b) Paystubs for the last few months
c) Two years worth of rent payments (we printed this from our online bank records)
d) Place a copy of your most recent bank and financial institution statements (401K, IRA, pension, stock and mutual fund papers)
On the looseleaf:
A) List all of your assets (bank accounts, stocks, retirement funds or any other items you have)
B) Then list your debts on another sheet.
C) On the third sheet, make a list of your monthly bills. List any car payments, credit card bills and then list your monthly cost for gas, electricity, phone and Internet.
D) Do some research for the area you want to live. How much have houses sold for? Make four columns: the house address, asking price and square footage and sale price/price per sq. This will help you figure out how much you should bid on the home you will purchase. It will also allow you to log how many houses you have seen. We used Trulia’s sold homes to check out prices.
Before Visiting a Realtor:
Before visiting real estate offices and looking for a home, visit the bank or lending institution to get preapproved. The bank loan officer does not need to run your credit report (and you need to let him or her know that you are not running your credit report until you are find the home and are ready to take a mortgage. Your credit score becomes lower each time information is requested about you). The bank loan officer can use your salary and assets/debts to determine what price range you can purchase in. Banks love to loan money so don’t go by their figures you see on websites.
After the loan agent tells you what you can be lent, calculate your monthly bills and figure out what you want to pay for a mortgage. You can use the calculator below or go to CNN Money and try their How Much Can You Afford Calculator. We also used some of the calculators on http://bankrate.com to help us decide what we wanted to spend for a home. You have to pay the mortgage AND be able to live comfortably as well.
We choose Chase Manhattan Bank – 86th Street and 5th Avenue for our mortgage. Do not use this bank! Our loan officer was unprofessional and denied us many documents that should have been given to us in the first three days of a loan application. RESPA laws have been set up to protect consumers like you and I. Chase violated RESPA laws by not providing a GFE (Good Faith Estimate) within three days and when we asked for help, the bank supervisor’s response was very poor as well. RESPA laws require that any bank supply the mortgage applicant with certain documents to disclose information to the applicant through the GFE. (Sample GFE or Another GFE Sample). This guide here explains the GFE. We had excellent credit and our paperwork was in order before we started the process, so we were shocked that Chase failed to provide adequate communication and service. Leon also banked with Chase for most of his life, so if they treated us this way, they aren’t going to treat you any better. We are not sure what the Chase Loan officer or his supervisors were trying to hide. When we filled out the application, the loan officer was always whispering to us, rather than talking in a normal tone. Chase’s Loan Officer also said that we may or may not have points put on by the underwriter, but we couldn’t understand why. At closing is when we found out that there were no points. When I called to check on the status of our mortgage application, the Chase’s Loan Officer still had my file on his desk. I started to use e-mail to document our contact with him. He never initiated contact with us, but he did return our phone calls. A bank which is doing business with people should be originating phone calls. Our loan officer’s supervisor did not answer phone calls or e-mail until after we contacted his supervisor. When he did answer e-mail, it was four or five days later and his knowledge of mortgages and banks was minimal. Do yourself a favor and find yourself a bank in which the employees understand their job is to help people. Clearly that is not this Brooklyn Branch of Chase Manhattan Banks goal. 12/3 Update: We went to another Chase Bank on 3rd Avenue and 92nd or 93rd Street….their bank reps are much more knowledgeable and helpful. 8/15/15 An associate at Chase Bank on 3rd Avenue between 92nd and 93rd Streets called me on my birthday after the branch office was closed. He wanted me to discuss my account with him over the phone, which I don’t do. I asked to speak to a manager because the call seemed fishy (I haven’t received any courtesy calls from Chase since we took the mortgage). I asked the bank manager if he was looking at my file. He said he was. I asked him to tell me what was significant about the date – he said nothing – he couldn’t tell me it was my birthday. Banks don’t feel that they need to offer customers any safety.
D) Find a realtor you want to work with. There are plenty of Brooklyn realty offices that we wanted to work with, but frankly, there are a lot of realtors who don’t follow through or who are just too busy. In a dead market, we thought that we would have received better service than we did. Many realtors after taking our personal information said, “I’ll call you.” and never called or would call two months after we met with them in their office. We even had realtors confidently tell us they would find us a home in 30 days.
I can only recommend one realtor, Ed Davis of Remax on 3rd Avenue and 95th Street. I didn’t know him prior to this house hunt in Bay Ridge, but I saw his (and his brother’s) name on signs all over Bay Ridge. Like all realtors in Brooklyn, Ed is a seller’s agent. This isn’t a terrible thing, it’s just the way real estate is sold in Brooklyn (Long Island too as we looked there early on). So even though Ed was a seller’s agent, we felt he was easy to work with. I contacted Ed through the Remax website and told him what we wanted. Since our needs were very specific, Ed didn’t call us just to see homes randomly throughout the area. Ed called us when an estate sale for a home like we described came into his Bay Ridge office. We met Ed for the first time that Saturday as we walked through the home. During some open houses that we attended, we’ve had realtors stand over us as we walked through the house. Ed gave us the time to look around and get a feel for the place and then he pointed out the house’s strengths. Throughout the home buying process, he was pleasant, professional and had great communication. One of the best things for us is that Ed uses and answered e-mail rapidly. I highly recommend him if you are serious about buying a home in Bay Ridge.
E) Contact an attorney. Yes, contact the attorney before you find the home. Go with someone’s recommendation! 2/15/13 Update: I wish I could recommend mine, but I can’t because he allowed a serious mistake on my paperwork that we discovered when we refinanced. Our home is a two family on the city register and the bank gave us paperwork where sometimes it said one family and sometimes it said two family. This mistake held up our refinance for months. When you hire someone, you think they are reading all the documents. Everyone makes mistakes, but this one was pretty big in the mortgage world. Update: A reader just wrote and asked me how do you hire an attorney for your home purchase. You call up the office and you tell the attorney you would be interested in using him/her to represent you in your home purchase. The attorney agrees and you just give your attorney info to the seller’s agent and the bank when the time comes. You pay the attorney at closing (closing rates didn’t vary much from attorney to attorney – most were around $1200 – $1500)
E) After finding a home you want, schedule a home inspection with a licensed engineer. A licensed engineer is great because he pointed out so many things that we missed on the walk through. I used Mike Baglivo, an engineer located on the corner of Ovington Avenue and 11th Avenue in Brooklyn 718-259-8799 (he works out of Afederal Exterminating and Home Inspection store front. August 2015 – Mike told me everything that was wrong with the home and I still consult the book he gave me.
12/3 Update: We were in awe of the house on the walk through and we missed things that were worth knowing before purchasing, rather than being annoyed later. We loved getting the engineer’s full report in a book (yes a huge binded book). It was very reassuring to hear his assessment of the house. We told the realtor that we were going to give the engineer his number. The realtor and engineer were there for the inspection as we both had to work. The engineer was at the home for over an hour and he tried all of the appliances (he filled the jacuzzi tub and ran the jets, tried all the air conditioners, microwave, lights, opened the awning on the deck, etc).
The inspection cost $250.00 and was well worth the money. The engineer also does the termite inspection which is needed for the closing (that termite inspection paper is also included in the $250 cost) I used Mike Baglivo, an engineer located on the corner of Ovington Avenue and 11th Avenue in Brooklyn 718-259-8799 (he works out of Afederal Exterminating and Home Inspection store front. If you are considering buying a house, you really should consider getting an engineer to check it out. (January 2012 edit: Over the past two years, we used that report to correct any of the small problems in our home. Mike was very thorough and I was very happy with his inspection).
F) Before bidding on your home, research the home. I almost bid on a home that had work stop orders because the former owners did a lot of illegal construction on the home. (7/28/14 edit: Five years later, the house still hasn’t sold!) 8/15/15 – it’s still not sold.
The house was gorgeous and I found out later that many people have gone into contract with the owners and lost some money (and time) because the owner has not corrected the illegal work. We are glad we didn’t get involved with it. The house still remains on the market almost a year later. So go to the New York Department of Buildings and put in the house’s address on the leftside of the page. There you will be able to see if there are any complaints or violations. If it says “0” the house is clear, but if there are open violations, check them out and see if they have been corrected.
Next, go to Acris and find the block and lot for your perspective home. (You can also find the any home’s Block and Lot in NYC by visiting the NYC Finance Site). After you have the block and lot, you can use Acris to see when the house was last sold and the price it has been sold at. You can check if this is someone’s attempt at a flip or if there is still a large mortgage on the home. Besides, it’s interesting to see the records of the home. You can see what year your potential home was built by scanning the map here.
Find the NYC property tax assessment for the house. Bay Ridge is in the section called Brooklyn 1 – then you select your street and find the address. You can also find out the neighbors on the block of your perspective home. And who doesn’t want to know who are the neighbors for their home? Blockshopper also has neighbors of the home listed (the oldest house in Bay Ridge appears to be 7313 Stewart Avenue or 524A – 94th Street)…. Built in 1800
Do a google search on the owner’s name. You can find out interesting information about the owner this way. Also search the home address to see if anything comes up. In one home that we looked at in Staten Island, there was a murder at the home seven months prior to the open house. Another home we looked at was only one the market with the current realtor for two weeks, but when we searched the address we found the home had been on the market for 8 months with several different realty offices. We found that many homes and condos in Brooklyn were at varying prices. Also do a Trulia search & Property Shark search on the home (put address midpage) and you will be able to find comparables for the home. Also do a Zillow Search on the home to see what Zillow is setting the price of the home at. Don’t be too upset if it isn’t as much as the home is worth. Zillow sets the price based on the area not the home’s amenities (jacuzzi bath tub, automatic garage door, new kitchen, etc.). Our home was slightly lower on the Zillow Zestimate ($12,000 less than we paid) when I initially searched, now it is just $3,000 under the price we paid. We found that some home price estimates like RealEstate.com and Yahoo Real Estate allowed a large span of prices and didn’t seem very accurate for Bay Ridge, but were good to find the comparable prices for the area.
There used to be a site called Rotten Neighbor where you could check out complaints neighbors have about others in the neighborhood, but the site is down. (2012 edit – the Rotten Neighbor site is gone) A new site called Street Advisor has comments from people who live in the neighborhood.
Finally, check that there are no creepy people (pedophiles) on the block or surrounding blocks to your home at weirdos by searching Crimereports with the home’s address. You can also go to Family Watchdog and put in your address. Yes, this may be extreme research, but buying a house was a big investment for us. We wanted to make sure the area was good. I have shown this site to many friends who are interested in purchasing a home and one friend decided against a home purchase because a neighboring home had a convicted rapist on it.
G) Bid on your home, win the bid and go into contract. Sounds simple, right? It is a lot easier than we thought.
– How much should you bid? We are in a buyers market. That doesn’t mean that you should low ball and bid 30% off comparable homes in the area. In Bay Ridge Brooklyn, we watched the market for awhile. We saw that people who won home bids were winning them at $30,000 – $50,000 under the asking price. (We created a notebook in which we listed the address, asking price and square footage. Then when property shark listed the price it sold for, we recorded that as well). 12/3/09 Update: It’s 98 days since we purchased our home. We realize that we got a wonderful deal on it and we love the house. We were afraid we were going to have buyer’s remorse, but we haven’t felt any remorse because the price was right. If you are thinking of buying a home, research asking price and selling prices for the area you are interested in purchasing. (1/2012: No buyer’s remorse ever – we loved the house from the start and felt we paid a fair price for it.)
Could you bid very low? Sure, you can do anything you want. But you want to appear as a serious buyer to the seller and the seller’s agent. Remember, the seller’s agent doesn’t want his/her time wasted either. The seller has an asking price in mind and you don’t want to low ball if you are interested in buying the home. After you make your initial offer, you will hear a counter offer from the seller. You can put in another bid with the seller’s agent. We didn’t. We bid, the seller split the difference and we felt it was a fair price so we accepted. We were asked to come to the office and sign a sheet stating that was our bid. We didn’t sign any other papers except the bid sheet and gave our attorney’s name and phone to the seller’s agent.
2/19/13: Reader Question: Where can I purchase a home with very little money down? Usually deals like that are offered in areas that selling is slow. I have seen deals in other states where the owner offers a car with the sale or even rent with the possibility of owning. Bay Ridge is a vibrant area and I have never seen anyone have an incentive offers or offer have money down offers. But maybe if your money and past credit is good, a bank could offer you a low money down deal for your home purchase.
A contract was drawn up by the seller’s attorney and sent to our attorney within three or four days. We went to our attorney’s office and signed the contract. We sat with our attorney and we went over the contract. He specifically wrote in certain things to protect our rights in case there was a problem with the home. We actually signed four or five copies of the contract. At that time, we also had to give our attorney a check for 10% of the total house cost to be put in escrow (so if the house is $800,000, then you need to give an $80,000 check for the escrow account). That money will be deducted later from your deposit ($800,000 – $80,000 – $720,000)
G) The Waiting Game – wait for your mortgage to be approved. The bank will tell you in a short time – about a week – if you are approved. We applied for a home loan Memorial Day weekend, finalized it with our paperwork the following week and we did not see any paperwork from the Chase Manhattan mortgage processor until the beginning of August. The communication from Chase Bank representatives was poor so hopefully, you won’t have to wait so long.
H) You need to get Home Insurance. We applied three weeks after we applied for the mortgage. I looked online and tried a bidding site, but that didn’t help. On a piece of paper, list the home address, square footage of the house, the number of rooms, mortgage amount and contact info of your mortgage company. Also you will pay less if you have smoke alarms and an alarm system that is connected with a company. You also should know the distance of your home to the nearest fire department (call 311 to ask which is your local fire department and then google map the address to the property).
We visited Allstate in Bay Ridge (7002 – 3rd Avenue). Initially, I liked this company, but after they lost my check and didn’t return a half dozen phone calls, I can’t recommend them. When my check was lost, the agent I dealt with said that it was no big deal and not to worry about it. She or the owner should have offered to pay the stop check fee as they lost the check. Update: 12/3/09: Two weeks ago, Lee wrote to them and told them they need to reimburse us $30 for the stop check fee. Although we were contacted by an associate of the owner, we have not been reimbursed yet – nor were we ever. (See blog post here) Update: 2/19/13: There is another office on 93rd Street 9309 3rd Ave Brooklyn NY (718) 748-0600
*Note to home buyers in Bay Ridge – many companies like Allstate and Geico do not want to sell insurance to Bay Ridge home owners who are less than 2500 feet from the water. A few years ago, there was a small tornado that went through a few blocks of Bay Ridge so not all insurance companies don’t want to take on new insurance policies with homeowners in the area. Our house is 2,100 feet away from the shore (below 4th Avenue) so finding an insurance company to cover us could have been difficult. Other Brooklynites have had trouble with AllState and State Farm dropping them as well. Liberty Mutual, America, the Brownstone Agency, Tristate (around $1600)and Chubb still insure the area. Chubb’s insurance is more expensive ~ about $3000 -$5000 for the year and they need to walk through the home prior to giving their bid. Many historic homes in Brooklyn use Chubb.
Insurance now runs just under $2000 for the year.
July 2015 Update: Our insurance company was downgraded by AMC (the insurance rating company) and then it merged with another company. So we have a new insurance company in case you are looking for insurance – this is the company.
12/26/09 Update: Closing
Closing is when you and the seller sign the documents to transfer the property to you and you get the keys to your new home. Closing is also the time when the Title Company does its work. I didn’t mention the title company before because in NYC, usually the attorney choose the title company that he usually uses. Before the closing, the title company checks city records that the house is free of liens. Then you pay the title company for title insurance. This is insurance that you will only pay for once. It’s not an outrageous price – a few thousand. I will add that cost here when I have a chance.
1/2012: Everyone is shocked by the high closing costs of buying a home in Brooklyn, NY because the mortgage tax is very high in NY.
Some people are surprised by mortgage tax. Uncle Sam loves to tax everything ya know! Closing costs didn’t take us by surprise because we had friends who closed on their homes and they shared their experience. If you don’t know anyone who has a closed on a home in New York then the mortgage recording tax will surprise you. The NYS/NYC mortgage tax is around 1.875% of the loan amount. You will probably pay around $13,000 – $16,000+ in mortgage in tax. You can use the Mortgage Tax Calculator here. The title company takes this amount, pays NY and then gives the documents to your attorney. Your attorney’s office will send them to you when they are ready.
A closing date will be given to you about 5-7 days before closing. You will be given the date, time and location. We posted ours on the refrigerator. When you have the closing date, call the real estate agent and schedule the final walk through.
The Walk Through
I didn’t have to call the agent to schedule my walk through because he called me first. We walked through the house and it was beautiful. Everything was clean and nice. I didn’t notice any holes in walls or anything broken. Everything seemed like it did when I first visited the house, except now there was no furniture in it. *If something is broken, then you can have your attorney ask at the closing table to subtract the cost to replace the item and they will. Some people sometimes discover broken windows, molding or cabinets. I have friends who have received credits from $150 – $4000 for damaged areas.
Bring to Closing:
– Check that you and your spouse (or whoever else is signing the mortgage with you) has a valid NY license. You need to present your identification to the closing.
-Your attorney will tell you to being two bank checks with you. One will be the balance of the down payment and the other will be for closing costs. It’s better to be over the amount then under because they can issue a check back to you right there at the table.
– Bring your checkbook just in case someone left out a fee and your bank checks are short.
– Bring a bottle of water as it takes awhile to sign all of the documents.
– Get your champagne and glasses ready as you will probably go to your new home after you close. If your bottle of champagne needs a cork screw, check that you have one. The people who sold us our home left us a bottle in each refrigerator.
Actual Closing Day:
Our closing took place in the office of the bank’s attorney. It was a small room with a oval table.
People at closing: You and your attorney, the seller and his/her attorney and the banks attorney. I was the only woman at a table with eight men. At one top of the table was the title closer and at the other end was the attorney for the bank. The seller sat with his attorney across from Lee, me and our attorney.
What happens at closing: When we first went in the room, we gave our licenses to the title closer. He made copies of our ID and then started marking up the title document. The attorney for the bank handed our attorney two stacks of documents 2 inches thick. Your attorney has read through the documents already and he will now be stamping, signing and showing you where to sign.
Be ready to sign your name about 40 times as there are many documents and several copies of each that need your signature. If you forget to sign any of the documents, the bank has the right to call you back to sign them (you actually sign a document which says this). I signed and then Lee signed and before handing the documents back to our attorney, I checked that we both signed because I didn’t want to be called back.
We had a delay at our closing so we went outside and called friends. After all of the documents arrived from the bank, checks were given to the banks attorney, the seller, the closing company and your attorney. The seller gave a check for NY tax and to the realty.
The seller gave us the keys and wished us well. He was cool and he gave us a copy of the original sale of the home to his grandmother. We thanked everyone and everyone left rapidly :)
1/2/12 They left very fast – I think they were hungry :)
We went to our new home and found that the seller had left us a bottle of champagne in the refrigerator. I brought champagne, but it got warm when we went in to sign the papers because it was summertime. When we got to the house, we discovered the sellers left us a bottle of champagne in the refrigerator. We drank the champagne, danced and ran through our empty new house. I am not sure I ever felt so much joy. We kept laughing just so we could hear our laugh echo in the house.
I brought a few things with us – champagne, champagne flutes, an American flag because I saw a flag holder outside. Lee loves flags and I thought that would show we arrived. I also brought a sign with the verse Jeremiah 29:11 (very similar to the one below) because without God none of this would have been possible.
I bought some suction cups and some stained glass from Etsy for the front windows too. The night before closing, I loaded the car with all of the paint I had purchased. I had a 5 gallon bucket of ceiling white paint and a 5 gallon bucket of primer. Plus, I purchased two gallons of Benjamin Moore paint for each room, brushes, drop clothes and I made a bag of rags from old shirts. We were ready to start our painting party that day! When we knew we were closing, we packed vigorously. We paid the following month’s rent because we wanted to have time to paint and get the house ready.
In the Week that Followed Closing: – Register here to receive any changes to your deed. Now don’t get freaked out, but their are crumby people who try to file fraudulent deeds (seriously do people have nothing better to do?)
We called the Gas, Electric and security companies to change the bills over to our name.Gas – We use what almost everyone uses – National Grid (formerly Keyspan and even formerly Brooklyn Union Gas) You can call them at 1-718-643-4050 and tell them to change the bill to your name. Ironically, they asked me to fax them my identification before it could be changed. I said I would, but I was busy painting and never sent it. Don’t worry though, I got the bill 6 days after calling them. Yes, I had to pay the bill for the few days of August that I owned the home (we bought the home on 8/27). 1-800-75-CONED (1-800-752-6633) Cable in Bay Ridge: FIOS and Time Warner are available in Bay Ridge. Time Warner sold my info to telemarketers and we received many calls before we gave the number to anyone). You can always call Cablevision and check with them 1-866-694-3660
– Find out about what tax rebates your home qualifies for.a) Star Basic Rebate: Apparently every 1-3 family NYC home owner qualifies for this discount. In 2009, it was about $201.00 off your home tax. More information on STAR here. At the time the application wasn’t on the site, so I called 311 and asked them to send me Star Rebate Form – it’s one for all home owners. We also qualified for the $8,000 tax rebate through the federal government (well some of it anyway). The federal government offered this until 2010. Your tax preparer will handle this for you.
Moving: The boxes at Home Depot and Lowes vary considerably. Home Depot has smaller size and cheaper, more manageable boxes, while Lowes boxes are a lot better quality. I’d recommend Home Depot’s boxes for books, toys, DVD’s and clothes, etc. I’d recommend Lowe’s boxes for your computer equipment, china and important items. We used the Lowes boxes over and over. Hire a reputable company. Before calling the company, count up the rooms in your house and write down the items of large furniture that will need to be wrapped well so they aren’t scratched (televisions, dining room table, antiques, etc.) Let the associate at the moving company know that these items need to be fabric wrapped so they can give you an accurate fee. Ask about sales tax on the move and get a final estimate. Be sure to ask if there are any additional fees. I’ve heard about companies tacking on fees during the move for additional covers or for additional trips (even though you may have agreed to pay by the hour).
Using colored paper from Staples, we printed out the words for each of our rooms: “First floor – first room” Kitchen, Bedroom front, Master bedroom, Hallway 2nd Floor – whatever you have. The day before the move, we labeled each room with the colored sheets of paper and that seemed to help on moving day. We knew we couldn’t be on three floors and at the old house with the movers.Buy soda and solo cups for your movers. The move is a lot of work and the men get thirsty.On the morning of the move, many movers like to begin earlier than the company stated. Be prepared for their early start by waking up even earlier.
Changing Your Address: We changed our address online with the US Post Office. It cost $1.00 and they change a lot of catalogs for you too. Lowes, Home Depot, West Elm and Williams Sonoma will send you the 10% off coupon. Benjamin Moore Paint also sent a few buy two get one free coupons. Sweveral other local companies will send welcome letters and coupons as well.Places to call/e-mail about your address: Your human resources department, union (if you have one), health care companies, credit card companies, any charities you give to, magazine subscriptions and any other companies you order from online (like Amazon.com) Utilities to Cancel: Electric, Gas, Home Phone and Cable. Be sure to return the cable box within 30 days or they will try to charge you almost $500 for the box. We got a warning bill and we returned the box right away to Cablevision.
First Mortgage Payment: The first month flew by fast. We didn’t have to make a Mortgage Payment until month two. Be sure to change to your new address at the bank. Chase did not do this for us. We would have thought that it would be a pretty obvious thing to do, but we had to call and change the address. The bill for the mortage comes just a few days before the mortgage is due.**Many banks including Chase have programs that if you set up automatic bill pay on your mortgage, you will receive 1% of your mortgage back. Ask the associate at your bank. 100 Days of Being Home Owners Lee and I celebrated 100 Days of Owning a Home and we are very happy. We don’t have any buyers remorse and we feel we got a great deal for this great home. 12/26/09: We just celebrated our first Thanksgiving and Christmas in our new home.We’re really happy here and we hope everyone can find their dream home! If you have any questions, you can always e-mail me at queenoftheclick AT yahoo Or catch me on twitter.
After moving to Bay Ridge, it’s time to enjoy the local community – here’s some great people/groups to follow
1/1/11 Purchasing this house was the best decision of our lives. We are so happy here. It’s a great area and neighborhood with very nice people.
1/3/12 It was the best thing we could have done. We love it here. There are a lot of fun community events throughout the year that I love to attend here in Bay Ridge.
1/2013: We refinanced and we love the home even more because our mortgage payments are lower!
7/28/14 It’s almost five years later and we still love out home, the neighborhood and our life here!
Good luck on your search. If you have any questions, please feel free to e-mail me:
Find Homes in Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights, Bath Beach & Bensonhurst
Bay Ridge Real Estate Offices
Alpine Real Estate – Bay Ridge real estate
Barbara Piazza Realty- Dyker Heights and Bensonhurst
Ben Bay Realty – Bensonhurst/Dyker Heights (Lori is very nice and returns e-mail/calls.)
Bove Real Estate – Dyker Heights/Bensonhurst – 11th Ave and 65th Street
Brooklyn Realty Center – Bay Ridge
Devonne Johnson at Coldwell Banker – Bay Ridge/Dyker Heights (Devonne knows how to show a house and is a very qualified agent)
Four Seasons – Dyker Heights – (Russell)
Jabour Realty -BayRidge
House and Key Real Estate – Beautiful office/nice people here
Petros Realty – Dyker Heights/Bensonhurst – (Markos)
Velsor Realty – Bayridge and Staten Island
Wilk Real Estate – Bay Ridge and Staten Island homes
Other Sites for Brooklyn Homes: