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First-Time Homebuyers Can Save Big With New FHA Program

2014-08-31 12:14:00

Filed under: News, Buying The HAWK is estimated to save buyers with an FHA-average $180,000 mortgage $9,800 over the life of a 30-year loan. By Kirk Haverkamp With their low down payments and credit requirements, FHA mortgages experienced a surge in popularity as other lending dried up in the wake of the housing market crash. More recently, however, they've lost some of that luster as a series of fee increases have made them a less attractive option than they were a few years ago. Now, the FHA is trying to restore some of their appeal by giving borrowers an opportunity to scale back some of those fee increases through a pilot program called FHA HAWK. Standing for Homeowners Armed With Knowledge, it will enable first-time homebuyers who receive housing First-time homebuyers who participate in housing counseling and education programs are 30 percent less likely to default or be delinquent on their loans than those who do not. education and counseling to reduce the fees they pay for FHA mortgage insurance. Here's how it works: First-time homebuyers who want to take advantage of the program sign up for and participate in a three-part education and counseling program from a HUD-approved nonprofit housing agency. In return, the upfront premium charged for FHA mortgage insurance will be reduced from 1.75 percent of the loan amount to 1.25 percent. In addition, they'll also get a 0.10 percentage point reduction in their annual mortgage premium, which presently runs as high as 1.35 percent. If they keep up with their mortgage payments for 18 months, with no 90-day delinquencies, they'll receive a further 0.15 percentage point reduction starting in the 25th month of the loan. The pilot program is scheduled to begin on Oct. 1, 2014 and last for four years. It's estimated to save buyers with an FHA-average $180,000 mortgage $325 a year, or $9,800 over the life of a 30-year loan. Getting an Education on Your Mortgage: The FHA says it is undertaking the program to expand access to mortgage credit for underserved borrowers. According to its figures, first-time homebuyers who participate in housing counseling and education programs are 30 percent less likely to default or be delinquent on their loans than those who do not. The education and counseling elements will be provided in three parts. Prospective borrowers must undergo a minimum of six hours of pre-contract education and counseling that must be completed at least 10 days before a purchase agreement is signed. They must undergo another hour of counseling after the contract is signed but prior to closing the loan, and a final hour of post-purchase counseling within the first year of owning the home. The education element of the program may be provided in a group or classroom session, through online instruction or other formats. Counseling will be tailored to borrowers' unique circumstances or financial challenges. Depending on the agency providing the service, borrowers may have to pay for their education and counseling sessions. The National Association of Realtors estimates these could run as high as $300-$500 for the whole program, although these could be subsidized or reimbursed, according to the FHA. Actual fees will be set by the individual agencies providing education and counseling services, subject to FHA guidelines. The program is being introduced in two phases. During the first phase, the program will be limited to select lenders and housing agencies who have been invited to participate. In the second, the program will be opened up to all FHA-approved lenders and HUD-approved housing agencies who wish to take part. The lists of approved lenders and counselors chosen for Phase I of the program has not yet been released. Names and contact information for HUD-approved housing counselors who will be eligible for the program can be obtained on the HUD website. For FHA-approved lenders in your area, visit the HUD Lender List page; most major banks and many local banks and mortgage brokers are FHA-approved. In the lead-up to getting a mortgage, it's also important to know what condition your credit is in. Checking your credit reports at least several months in advance of looking for a home can give you time to correct any mistakes or address problems that could be hurting your credit. Checking your credit scores during this period can help you gauge your standing, and determine whether you'll be able to qualify for an FHA loan, or if you need to take some time to work on improving your credit. You can check your credit reports for free once a year through AnnualCreditReport.com, and you can use a service like Credit.com to monitor your credit scores every month for free. Kirk Haverkamp is chief staff writer and editor for MortgageLoan.com. He covers the mortgage and personal finance industry from both a consumer and industry perspective, and provides guidance for consumers on how to approach the sometimes intimidating process of obtaining the right mortgage and personal finance products for their needs. Permalink | Email this | Comments

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'Professional Tenants' and How Not to Fall Victim to Them

2014-08-30 12:23:00

Filed under: News, How To, Renting ShutterstockThe Professional Tenant can leave the landlord with a worthless judgment for thousands in unpaid rent -- and a trashed apartment. I am an attorney who has practiced in landlord tenant law for over 15 years in Massachusetts, one, if not the most, tenant-friendly states in the country. I've seen the good, bad and the ugly when it comes to tenant shenanigans. I've written all about it on my Massachusetts Real Estate Law Blog. Most tenants are problem-free, yet there is a certain type who make even an experienced landlord cringe with fear: The Professional Tenant. Let me give you the profile of what I mean by a typical Professional Tenant. (This is a generalization based on my professional experience.) They have history of litigation, evictions and/or delinquency with prior landlords. They have a surprising (and dangerous) knowledge of local landlord-tenant law. They often have a background in real estate, engineering, contracting or law. They have marginal to poor credit, with a prior history of collections, judgments or bankruptcies. They have gaps in rental history. They have non-existent or incomplete prior landlord references. Now the above may sound simply like a poor rental applicant, and maybe that's true. But the Professional Tenant will make a landlord's life miserable and cost them thousands in lost rent and legal fees. Here's what a Professional Tenant will do to a landlord. The Professional Tenant's Scheme Shortly after moving in, the Professional Tenant will start to complain about small issues with the rental property. Some will complain to the local board of health to have the landlord cited for Professional rental screening techniques, experience and common sense instincts will help a landlord avoid a Professional Tenant. code violations. Often the tenant has caused these very code violations -- bathroom mold is a common situation. (Most state Sanitary Codes can trip up even the most conscientious landlord.) Based on the code violations, the Professional Tenant will stop paying rent, claiming that they are "withholding rent" due to bad property conditions. Under Massachusetts law, for example, a tenant can legally withhold rent for even the most innocuous code violations and there is no rent escrow requirement. The Professional Tenant will also assert that the landlord violated the local last-month-rent and security-deposit law, and ask for their deposit back, trying to set up the landlord for a hefty legal claim. In Massachusetts, tenants can win triple damages for deposit law violations. In the meantime, months may pass before the landlord will realize that they are being set up. The landlord will have repaired the minor code issues, only to have the tenant call the board of health again and again. The landlord is forced to start eviction proceedings, only to be met with a slew of counterclaims and defenses from the Professional Tenant. The Professional Tenant will then send the landlord a myriad of document requests and interrogatories which will often delay the eviction hearing. Months and thousands of dollars in attorneys' fees later, the landlord finally gets his day in court. And the Professional Tenant doesn't show up, leaving the landlord with a worthless judgment for thousands in unpaid rent -- and a trashed apartment. How Can Landlords Avoid the Professional Tenant? Professional rental screening techniques, experience and common sense instincts will help a landlord avoid a Professional Tenant. My advice to landlords is to make screening the most important thing you do as a landlord, and do the following: Invest in good credit history checks. Follow up with landlord references for all applicants. Call the past landlords and talk to them! Check and verify employment information. Check prior bankruptcies and court dockets. Personally interview all tenants and size them up! If someone seems fishy, they probably are. Trust your instincts! Do you have your own story about dealing with a Professional Tenant? If you do, please share them in the comments! Permalink | Email this | Comments

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Charming $100,000 Homes for Sale Across the U.S.

2014-08-30 08:01:00

Filed under: News, Buying ZillowThis Philadelphia home's stunning original details include a pillared entrance, hardwood floors and decorative windows. By Sharona Ott Purchasing a home can be a big financial step. Whether you are a first-time buyer departing from the rental market or an individual entering the investment market, finding an affordable home is of great importance. Considering that the median home value in the United States is up 6.5 percent from last year and currently sits at $174,800, finding a quality home under that price may seem like an unattainable feat. Fear not, prospective homebuyers! We've rounded up homes in well-known cities across the United States that cost approximately $100,000.  Read | Permalink | Email this | Comments

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Federal Gov't Seeks More Support for Poor Borrowers

2014-08-29 14:24:00

Filed under: News, Buying, Financing, Refinancing Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty ImagesA "Making Home Affordable" sign hangs inside Freddie Mac headquarters in McLean, Va. By Jason Lange WASHINGTON -- The regulator for U.S. housing finance giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac said Friday it wants the two firms to provide more support to some low-income Americans taking out mortgages and refinancing their home loans. The Federal Housing Finance Agency released proposed goals for the two state-owned firms for 2015-2017 that would advance agency chief Mel Watt's aim to widen access to housing credit. The FHFA said it wants Freddie Mac, which is second only to Fannie Mae in the amount of housing finance it provides, to gradually expand the number of loans it backs for low-income multifamily buildings, such as apartment buildings, to 230,000 in 2017 from its target of 200,000 this year. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have been owned by the U.S. government since taxpayers bailed them out in 2008 during a housing market implosion. The two firms don't lend money directly, but rather buy mortgages from lenders and sell them as packaged securities with a government guarantee. They back most new U.S. mortgages, and their purchases are a major driver of credit access. Under the FHFA proposal, the two firms would continue to make sure low-income families accounted for 23 percent of the firms' purchases of single-family home mortgages. However, the firms would raise the share of their purchases that back mortgages in low-income areas with large minority populations. The proposal would also have the firms increase the share of their mortgage refinancing operations that target low-income Americans. The proposal is part of the shift at the FHFA that began in January when Watt took the helm. Watt, a Democrat who was nominated to head the agency by President Barack Obama, mothballed his predecessor's plans to scale back limits on the sizes of loans backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Boosting support for low-income borrowers could stir controversy in the U.S. Congress. Many Republican lawmakers think Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac's policies to support mortgage access for the poor helped inflate the U.S. housing bubble that eventually burst around 2006.  Permalink | Email this | Comments

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Newlyweds Adam Levine, Behati Prinsloo Look to Trade Up

2014-08-29 08:03:00

Filed under: News, Buying, Celebrity Homes, Selling ZillowAdam Levine and Behati Prinsloo are in contract to buy this 2,700-square-foot SoHo loft for $4.55 million. APNewlyweds Adam Levine, left, and Behati Prinsloo By Catherine Sherman Maroon 5 frontman Adam Levine and Victoria's Secret model Behati Prinsloo made their first red-carpet appearance as newlyweds this week after tying the knot in Mexico last month. The husband and wife are also making real estate moves together, selling Prinsloo's East Village duplex while closing in on a SoHo loft. Property records show Prinsloo has sold her bachelorette pad for $1.65 million. The buyer, Renata "Noot" Seear, is also a fashion model. The duplex has one bedroom and 1.5 baths with an abundance of natural light. The New York Post notes the best feature is the 800-square-foot private-landscaped backyard - a rarity in Manhattan. Meanwhile, the newlyweds are in contract to buy a 2,700-square-foot SoHo loft with 13-foot ceilings for $4.55 million. According to New York's Daily News, Levine and Prinsloo were "spotted traipsing around SoHo with floor plans in hand" months ago. "[It's] a location to dream about [in] close proximity to all the major subways, best restaurants and great grocery stores," real estate agent Lucie Hold of Town Residential writes in the listing description. The co-op is in a historical cast-iron building with a sleek glass-and-steel structure. The interior has a modern, minimalist look with white-painted brick and floor-to-ceiling columns. Levine and Prinsloo's unit has three bedrooms and two luxurious bathrooms. Time will tell whether Levine plans to sell his Beverly Hills home or hold onto it. He purchased the historic Benedict House in October 2012 for $4.83 million.  Read | Permalink | Email this | Comments

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For Sale: Pitcher Randy Johnson's Opulent Arizona Estate

2014-08-28 23:35:00

Filed under: News, Buying, Celebrity Homes, Selling Zillow APRandy Johnson By Catherine Sherman "The Big Unit" is selling the big one. Randy Johnson's 25,000-square-foot estate will be officially listed for $25 million Monday. Located on a tiered, 5-acre parcel at 8055 N. Mummy Mountain Road in Paradise Valley, Arizona, the main residence has seven bedrooms and 12 bathrooms. There's also a detached guesthouse and commercial-grade fitness facility. "This is a very thoughtfully designed estate," said listing agent Robert Joffe of Berkshire Hathaway's The Joffe Group. "The layout works and feels comfortable, without being overwhelming. The craftsmanship is impeccable, and the finish materials are some of the finest I've ever seen." The main level has a massive Cantera stone fireplace, soaring 24-foot-high ceilings and a temperature-controlled wine cellar. The east wing shows off ornate wood-paneled walls, a study lounge, oversized eight-car motor court, billiards parlor and a dedicated "pet suite." The west wing offers a more secluded master retreat with his-and-hers oversized vanities, a jetted tub and multi-nozzle steam shower. The lower level of the home has a movie theater with a working ticket booth and fully stocked snack bar. But perhaps the holy grail of this baseball legend's estate is the 1,746-square-foot custom-designed workout facility. The space is filled with commercial-grade fitness equipment, showers and a locker room. It also provides direct access to tennis and sport courts on the property. Johnson, a retired MLB pitcher known for his fastball, is being considered for the Baseball Hall of Fame. During his career, the lefthander struck out 4,875 batters and posted 303 victories.  Read | Permalink | Email this | Comments

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How a Deferred Student Loan Hurts Your Chance for a Mortgage

2014-08-28 10:52:00

Filed under: News, Buying, Financing, Credit ShutterstockWhen it comes to getting a mortgage, the amount of student loan debt you have is only one of education's costs. By Scott Sheldon The cost of your education isn't just evident in your student loan debt. No, in fact, there is an ulterior cost lurking in the mix: the possibility of being ineligible for a mortgage. If you have a deferred student loan, it usually be will be counted against your income when you apply for the big-ticket debt. If you have a student loan, or multiple student loans, in deferment you'll need to take extra precautionary steps, working closely with your lender to ensure your chances of getting approved for a mortgage. Here are some of the obstacles a deferred student loan can impact your mortgage chances. Credit Reporting: Many student lenders report multiple credit accounts even if you have multiple loans through one lender to finance one education degree -- since loans are applied for and disbursed on an enrollment-period basis. So your credit report will show multiple student loans with the same creditor broken down into each loan's respective payments. This is typical, and it will also likely appear that way on a financial services credit report used by your lender in conjunction with a mortgage application. Why it's a concern: If your student loan payment appears to be more, based on how it's listed on the credit report, the lender has to go by the credit report figures when trying to qualify you for the home loan. In a case like this, it's essential to get a letter from the creditor stating what the total balance is along with each minimum payment. Deferred Loans: Depending on the type of student loan, you can be eligible for student loan deferment if you're enrolled in school at least half-time, or if you're having an economic hardship. In this case, the mortgage type you apply for is key. For conventional financing, you will need to provide a letter from the creditor identifying what the estimated monthly payments will be as the lender will use the estimated monthly payment in determining if you fit the requirements. Conversely, a government-insured loan type such as an FHA loan, is a bit more forgiving. If the student loan is deferred for 12 months or longer the lender does not need to account for the liability when qualifying you for the mortgage. The key here is it has to be a 12-month deferment on that the payment obligation associated with the student loan(s). Why it's a concern: A student loan could become very problematic if you try to qualify for the maximum loan size. Do your homework, erring on the side of caution by proactively obtaining an estimated payment letter from the creditor for any student loan account in deferment. Deferred, but Unable to Estimate Payments: Having difficulty in procuring an estimated payment letter from a creditor for the student loan? The lender will still have to account for the liability, so they will instead use a 5 percent payment factor. Why it's a concern: A 5 percent payment factor is 5 percent of the principle balance of the student loan, factored monthly! Ninety-nine percent of the time this payment is substantially higher than the minimum monthly payment the student loan obligation would otherwise be. This results in the borrower needing to show more income to qualify, or reducing the mortgage amount and purchase price. Why Deferred Student Loans Are the Wildcard: Student loans negatively affect your borrowing potential -- as they are liability, counted against your income when calculating your ability to make a potential house payment. When you apply for a mortgage, lenders qualify you by taking your monthly pretax income divided by your current payment liabilities and proposed housing payment. This is known in the lending world as a DTI (the debt-to-income ratio), sometimes also called a payment-to-income ratio. Reducing the Deferred Student Loan Burden: Looking for a mortgage? If you have a student loan, then take heed. Consider getting an additional co-signer for the mortgage (do so carefully, as that carries its risks) -- this can give you more income to offset the liability, and increases borrowing chances. Pay off the student loan entirely. This depends on what the minimum payment is and how much of that payment is affecting your qualifying numbers -- only your mortgage professional can answer this. Consolidate the student loans. If you haven't done so already, consolidating the student loans into one low minimum monthly payment encompassing all of the debt can also improve your chances of qualifying. Buy less house. This is easier said than done if you're already in contract to buy a home. It's best to handle this upfront when you're getting pre-approved to initiate the house hunt process. Put more money down. By borrowing less, the proposed monthly payment drops and can make the numbers work in your favor whether you're buying or remortgaging a home. Keeping your credit in good standing can also aid your cause, because it can result in lower interest rates, which translate into lower monthly payments. Before you search for a home, it's important to get your credit in good shape. Get your annual free credit reports to check for any problems that could be hurting your credit, and check your credit scores (which you can do for free on Credit.com) to see where you stand. It's also important to talk with your lender about your credit, and what moves you can make to get it in better home-buying condition. Depending on how much mortgage you are trying to qualify for, a deferred student loan may not adversely affect your qualifying chances, as long as your monthly debts (including the proposed mortgage payment) are not more than 40 percent of your income. Lenders may allow up to 45 percent of your income as the maximum debt ratio for both conventional and FHA mortgages types. By getting qualified with 40 percent or less in payment expenses, you're on the right track to successfully getting your new home loan. Permalink | Email this | Comments

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Pending Home Sales Bounce Back in July

2014-08-28 10:38:00

Filed under: News, Buying, Renting Michael Dwyer/AP By Jason Lange WASHINGTON -- Americans signed more contracts in July to buy previously owned homes than in any month in almost a year, suggesting the housing market was pulling out of its slump more quickly than expected. The National Association of Realtors said Thursday its pending home sales index, based on contracts signed last month, rose 3.3 percent to 105.9, the highest level since August 2013. Analysts polled by Reuters had expected an increase of 0.5 percent last month. The index plunged last summer after mortgage interest rates spiked, but it has been mostly rising since March of this year. Contracts signed last month rose in the Northeast, the South and the West of the country, but fell in the Midwest.  Permalink | Email this | Comments

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4 Natural Ways to Kill Weeds

2014-08-28 08:47:00

Filed under: News, Home Improvement, How ToWeeds are the worst. They compete with my flowers and shrubs for nutrients, water and sunlight. And since weeds are native and superbly adapted to my little slice of heaven, they usually win the war with my exotic perennials, which were propagated God-knows-where. I could spray the intruders with herbicides, and continue to pollute the watershed and kill the honeybees, vital pollinators whose populations are shrinking. Or I can get rid of weeds naturally, using my brawn and brain to defeat these plants, whose only real crime is growing where I don't want them:  Permalink | Email this | Comments

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For Sale: A Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz House

2014-08-27 17:03:00

Filed under: News, Buying, Celebrity Homes, Selling Nick SpringettDating back to 1926, the former home of Lucy and Desi elegantly mixes Spanish architecture with contemporary finishes. APLucille Ball and Desi Arnaz By Catherine Sherman The beds aren't pushed together, and Fred and Ethel don't live next door. But according to The Agency, "I Love Lucy" stars Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz lived in this Beverly Hills estate while their main residence down the street was being worked on. The home at 602 N. Roxbury Drive is currently on the market for $6.985 million, as first reported by The Los Angeles Times. Dating back to 1926, it elegantly mixes Spanish architecture with contemporary finishes. The main level features a formal entryway, step-down dining room, spacious living room and eat-in kitchen. French doors open to a trellised loggia/patio with a fireplace for outdoor entertaining. Ball was born in Jamestown, New York, and moved to Hollywood in the '30s to pursue her film career. In 1948, she was cast as the wife in "My Favorite Husband," a CBS radio program. Due to the show's success, it was developed for television as "I Love Lucy." Arnaz and Ball were married for 20 years, and Arnaz played Lucy's on-screen husband, Ricky Ricardo. In addition to living in the 90210 during their Hollywood days, the couple were known to have partied with Humphrey Bogart and Bob Hope at Walt Disney's Palm Desert retreat. Arnaz died at age 69 in 1986; Ball died three years later at age 77. Paul Lester and Aileen Comora are the listing agents. Read | Permalink | Email this | Comments

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Business Cell: 516-444-1221 Contact: 516-515-7255 NASSAU / QUEENS / SUFFOLK

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Information Deemed Reliable, but Not Guaranteed. The property information being provided is for consumers’ personal, non-commercial use and may not be used for any purpose other than to identify prospective properties consumers may be interested in purchasing. The data relating to real estate for sale on this web site comes in part from the participating Brokers.

Last updated on Sep 01, 2014.

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