I can represent you in buying or selling anywhere in Westchester County, NY but my main focus is southern Westchester: Ardsley, Dobbs Ferry, Eastchester, Edgemont, Elmsford, Greenburgh, Hartsdale, Irvington, Scarsdale, Tarrytown, Valhalla and White Plains. Our firm also has agents that support Orange, Putnam, Rockland and Dutchess Counties if you decide to move north.

We are committed to serving your best interests and being your advocate in all aspects of the real estate experience.

Lets “MOVE” to make your selling or buying experience a seamless, stress free venture!


Merry Christmas from Around the World

CHRISTMAS TIME, Life Thoughts

A good site to visit if you would like to know how the world says “Merry Christmas” is

http://www.santas.net/howmerrychristmasissaid.htm

Although there are numerous countries where there is only 10% of the country who practice the Christian faith, its always interesting to know how things are said globally.

Here is a partial list from the above website:

  • Afrikaans: Geseënde Kersfees

  • Arabic: Milad Majid

  • Argentine: Feliz Navidad

  • Armenian: Shenoraavor Nor Dari yev Pari Gaghand

  • Brazilian: Feliz Natal

  • Bulgarian: Tchestita Koleda; Tchestito Rojdestvo Hristovo

  • Chinese: (Cantonese) Gun Tso Sun Tan’Gung Haw Sun

  • Chinese: (Mandarin) Sheng Dan Kuai Le

  • Columbia: Feliz Navidad y Próspero Año Nuevo

  • Czech: Prejeme Vam Vesele Vanoce a stastny Novy Rok

  • Dutch: Vrolijk Kerstfeest en een Gelukkig Nieuwjaar! or Zalig Kerstfeast

  • English: Merry Christmas

  • French: Joyeux Noel

  • German: Fröhliche Weihnachten

  • Greek: Kala Christouyenna!

  • Haiti: (Creole) Jwaye Nowel or to Jesus Edo Bri’cho o Rish D’Shato Brichto

  • Hindi: Shub Naya Baras (good New Year not Merry Christmas)

  • Hungarian: Boldog Karácsonyt

  • Irish: Nollaig Shona Dhuit, or Nodlaig mhaith chugnat

  • Italian: Buone Feste Natalizie

  • Japanese: Shinnen omedeto. Kurisumasu Omedeto

  • Korean: Sung Tan Chuk Ha

  • Norwegian: God Jul, or Gledelig Jul

  • Philippines: Maligayang Pasko!

  • Polish: Wesolych Swiat Bozego Narodzenia or Boze Narodzenie

  • Russian: Pozdrevlyayu s prazdnikom Rozhdestva is Novim Godom

  • Spanish: Feliz Navidad

  • Swedish: God Jul and (Och) Ett Gott Nytt År

  • Switzerland (Swiss-German): Schöni Wienachte

  • Tagalog: Maligayamg Pasko. Masaganang Bagong Taon

  • Turkish: Noeliniz Ve Yeni Yiliniz Kutlu Olsun

A great site to visit to find out how Christmas is celebrated with different traditions and customs is http://www.whychristmas.com/customs/languages.shtml

Here is a sample of what you will find!

France, Yule Logs made out of Cherry Wood are often burned is French homes. The log is carried into the home on Christmas Eve and is sprinkled with red wine to make the log smell nice when it is burning. There is a custom that the log and candles are left burning all night with some food and drinks left out in case Mary and the baby Jesus come past during the night.

Italy:One of the most important ways of celebrating Christmas in Italy is the Nativity crib scene Having cribs in your own home became popular in the 16th century and it’s still popular today (before that only churches and monasteries had cribs). Cribs are traditionally put out on the 8th December. But the figure of the baby Jesus isn’t put into the crib until the evening/night of December 24th!

Germany: Christmas Trees are very important in Germany. They were first used in Germany during the Middle Ages. If there are young children in the house, the trees are usually secretly decorated by the Mother of the family. The Christmas tree was traditionally brought into the house on Christmas eve, and during that evening the family would read the Bible and sing Christmas songs such as O Tannenbaum, Ihr Kinderlein Kommet and Stille Nacht (Slient Night).

Spain, Children have some presents on Christmas Day, but most are opened at Epiphany. Some children believe that the Kings bring presents to them at Epiphany. They write letters to the Kings on Boxing Day, December 26th, asking for toys and presents. And on Epiphany Eve (January 5th) they leave shoes on windowsills or balconies or under the Christmas Tree to be filled with presents

Ghana: People in Ghana celebrate Christmas from the 20th of December to first week in January with lots of different activities. Many people travel to visit their relatives and friends in other parts of the country. Over 66 languages are spoken in Ghana and all these language groups have their own traditions and customs!

Look forward to assisting you with all of your Westchester Real Estate needs in 2015!  Barbara Bartell, 914-523-5087 or barbara@jphilip.com

Wishing all who  celebrate this festive holiday the Merriest of Christmas and Happy New Year!
No Comments

WHITE PLAINS CHRISTMAS LIGHT SHOW

CHRISTMAS TIME, Westchester Activities, westchester towns

northkeniscoxmaslights

For the sixth year families on North Kenisco in White Plains are holding their annual Christmas Lighting and Music Show from 11/30/2014 through 1/2/2015.

This will be held 7 days a week (not including rain or snow days), from 5:30 pm to 11:00 pm.  Over 10,000 lights will be displayed this year accompanied by music you can access on 107.7 FM.  On every 5th song, a Santa Claus will appear in the attic window.  Great time to take the children out and take pictures.

Visit their website to see a list of all of the songs you and your family can hear on the radio in comfort of your car. A fun evening out before watching all of the holiday shows on TV!

 

Wishing all of your a Happy Holiday Season.  If looking for a new home in the New Year in the White Plains area, feel free to call/text me at 914-523-5087 for information on new listings and the marketplace.  Regards, Barbara Bartell, SRES.
No Comments

Understanding importance of Pre-Approvals

Advice for buyers, real estate thoughts, Westchester Real Estate

First a buyer needs to know the difference between being “pre-qualified” and having a pre-approval.

Being pre-qualified is not necessarily necessary. But, if a buyer wants a quick way to know the ballpark of what they can afford, it is a quick way to find out. You can usually do these online or by phone with a lender by providing some basic credit, income and debt information.

Pre-approvals are more in-depth, but also can only take a few days if you provide the necessary financial paperwork.  Most real estate agents and almost all sellers require a pre-approval letter before showing or accepting an offer.  It is an invaluable document to have before you “hunt for your dream home”.

Why?  Because it shows you how much you can afford, what the costs will be on a monthly basis, and give you an idea if you are truly ready to purchase and maintain the costs of home ownership.

What do you generally need to get pre-approved?

- Credit report – Many lenders these days require 620 or more on your score.

- Bank Statements to show have money for downpayment. Most banks require

  the downpayment be in an account for more than 60 days

- Recent W-2 (some require 2 years) to show income

- Proof of other assets – retirement as well as non-retirement accounts such as

  stocks/mutual funds.

- Recent paystubs, employment information

What do you learn during the pre-approval process?

- Different types of loans and interest rates – conventional, FHA, VA, and others

  depending on your status you qualify for.

- If not conventional 20% down, learn what is PMI insurance and how much that

   will add to your monthly costs. In cases of FHA loans, that is incurred for the

   who length of the loan, unless you refinance to non FHA down the road.

- Find out the loan amount you qualify for.

- Cost of closing costs

Your pre-approval or GFE (Good Faith Estimate) which lists what you qualify for in terms of loan, what your interest rate will be and closing costs can be used when you cost compare among lenders.

One question I get is whether this will hurt a buyer’s credit score. The answer to that according to local lenders is “No”.  The credit agencies recognize this quick lender check process and do not penalize you.

Once you have your pre-approval in hand, and also determine how much you have in a cash reserve for any upgrades, repairs, or even cosmetic changes you may want to do to a home you find that is not “in mint condition”, you are ready to work with a real estate agent in finding that home, with confidence you can afford the homes you are looking at.

Look forward to assisting with your home search in Westchester County.

No Comments

Greenburgh Nature Preserve in Scarsdale Summer Events

Local Vacation Destinations, Town Events and Meetings, Westchester Activities, westchester towns
Greenburgh Nature Center

Greenburgh Nature Center

The Greenburgh Nature Center on Central Avenue in Scarsdale is a wonderful place to take the family for an environmental educational treat.

The Nature Preserve is 33 acres consistenting of 30 acres of woodlands, trails, a pond and gardens.  It is a true wildlife habitat where all different species of birds come to rest.  You can even see a box turtle around the pond.  There are both inside and outside activities.

On Sundays at 11:30 a.m. (this month June 8th, 15th and 22nd), there is a 45 minute guide walk among the trails of the woodlands.  On June 14th (for $8 for nonmembers, free for members), you can visit the bird aviary and see the Bald Eagle among other birds that habitat the woodlands.

From June 28th – August 3rd there is the annual “walk among live butterflies”  for a nominal fee.

If you enjoy it and return with the children, you may want to consider membership, which is nominal for the experience.  It ranges from $40/year for seniors to $90 for family with children below 18 years old, and $150 for family of all ages. This entitles you to free entrance to all their presentations.

The Greenburgh Nature Center is also a great place to have birthday parties or other events for the nature lovers.

So, for those of you who ride up and down Central Avenue each day, may want to take a break from the hustle and bustle and enjoy nature!

No Comments

Villaggios in Hartsdale is Not Just Pizza

Westchester Real Estate

pizza

Villaggios Restaurant and Pizza was one the first restaurants we visited 18 years ago when we moved to Hartsdale. The owners of the house we bought suggested Villaggios and we’ve been a customer ever since.

Located at 389 N. Central Avenue, Hartsdale in the shopping center that houses Christmas Tree Shop. Epsteins Deli and the new Mrs Green Supermarket, you would think it might just be a pizza place if quickly walking by.  The restaurant is the back and features really good specials on a nightly basis.  The restaurant is open from 11 a.m. to 10:00 pm daily. Phone 914-949-3427. Full menu on their website.

Besides thinking the pizza is the best in the area, their main courses, especially ones with tomato sauce like their chicken, veal or eggplant parmigiano are especially good. They also are a value since they include a salad and either pasta or vegetable.

Sitting in the back restaurant you can order anything from an individual pizza, to a wedge, to main course, and for those who aren’t into Italian food, they even have burgers.

Maria and her husband have owned the restaurant for 32 years. And, you can find Maria at the restaurant most days! Always wonder when she takes time off.

Besides eating at the restaurant and take out, Maria also has a catering menu displayed on her website. Great way to simplify those 8 people coming over to watch a sporting event.

 

If you looking to rent, buy or sell in  Hartsdale/Scarsdale/White Plains area and would some information on the area, I am available via email at barbara@jphilip.com or text/call on my cell at 914-523-5087.  Even if want to know where to eat. Ask!

No Comments

Hudson Grille in White Plains, NY

Westchester Real Estate

Hudson Grille is a popular restaurant on Mamaroneck Avenue in downtown White Plains.  What makes it a destination point is the special attention Executive Chef Donal O’Rourke takes to prepare a menu that appeals to all tastes.

Chef Donal O’Rourke graduated from Culinary Institute of Ireland and traveled the world to learn different cuisines, which he incorporates in his meals.

Hudson Grille offers lunch, brunch and dinner.  If you are grabbing lunch, or cocktails and quick dinner, you have a wide array of choices from burgers, to salads, to interesting sandwiches.  If you are looking to dine out, Hudson Grille has a dining room separate from the bar area where you can find a selection of “small plates”, salads, complemented by an interesting dinner menu. There is even a section for gluten free and vegetarian food if you like.  Chef Donal changes the menu 4 times a year to reflect seasonal changes. but also  He pays special attention to the presentation of the meals on the plate. Oh yes, and don’t forget to check out the in-house made dessert list.!

 

Our Executive Chef now also calls White Plains his home. I had the pleasure of working with Donal, his wife and family in closing on their new home that J. Philip Real Estate represented, just one mile from Hudson Grille!  Welcome to White Plains and we all look forward to coming to Hudson Grille in the near future.

 

No Comments

Many Options for Renting in White Plains NY

Westchester Real Estate
Main Street White Plains

Main Street White Plains

Whether you are relocating from out of town and want to rent before buying, are downsizing from a home and want to stay in the area, or have always been a renter, White Plains has a wide range of choices.

You can rent a condo, coop, house, or apartment building.  The price range is varied.  Prices vary  depending on how new the building is, how many amenities and whether it has parking.  Parking can be a challenge for many of the “train accessible non-doorman buildings”, but there are several municipal lots that tenants take advantage of. You can pay daily or get a monthly parking permit.

One bedrooms can start around $1300 for the non-doorman buildings along North Broadway, to $2200 for a one bedroom at a building like The Seasons on Martine,  and up to a whopping $5,000 a month for an apartment at The Ritz. Two bedrooms generally start around $1800 and up. Homes that are listed currently range from $1700 for a small older home up to $5,000 for a 3400 square foot more modern home.

If looking at the upscale apartment buildings like The Avalon or

Bank Street Commons you are looking at one bedrooms starting at $2300 and 2 bedrooms starting at $3,000/month. Additional cost for parking!

Whether you are renting an apartment, condo, coop or home, be prepared to furnish W-2’s, credit reports, employer information and references and in some cases bank statements with proof of funds.  In the case of renting a coop, you will also have to go before a coop board for approval.

Currently there are about 344 various rentals available in the White Plains area.

If you are considering renting in White Plains, feel free to text or call me at 914-523-5087 or email me at barbara@jphilip.com for further information.

No Comments

Hiring a Pet Sitting Service in Westchester County

Advice for buyers, advice for sellers, Uncategorized, Vendor recommendations, westchester towns

Finding the right Pet Sitting Service or Pet sitter is crucial to a happy pet when you return from vacation.P1010228

But, if you are just relocating from out of town, or even if you’ve lost your pet sitter you’ve had for years, its can be stressful

I’ve been through this several times over the last 20 years owning pure breed cats, so have had experience determining what makes a good pet sitting service and also what questions are really important to ask.

Pet sitting is a really growing field. There are numerous sites online you can go to first find your local pet sitter, but I prefer to first ask friends, second go to all of your local veterinary clinics and ask if they have any vet techs or staff that pet sit in the neighborhood.  Most of these will be just individuals who do it as extra income, and are not bonded and insured, but with enough references, finding out where they live (some may have a local phone #, but have actually moved 20 miles away!), you should be fine. You also know where you can find them!

If going the internet route, there are several sites you can use. Paid sites include Angie’s List, www.sittercity.com and  www.care.com .  I did not have any luck with care.com or sittercity.com.  I found that they they just had anyone who wanted to sign up list there. There were actually people who have never pet sit, just looking for extra income.

There is a free site that I recommend called www.petsitting.com This site is paid by their advertising and, not sure, by the petsitters who sign up for it.  Their website claims that the are not a directory, but have insured and bonded petsitters who are verifiable references. That is what you are really looking for.

Always having two pet sitters available I found has been key, in case one is on vacation. One of my cat sitters is a front desk person at a local veterinary clinic, and the other I found on www.petsitting.com.  I am using Susan Pfeiffer’s service called FetchPetCare.  She has 9 pet sitters in lower Westchester and is insured and bonded. Fetch Pet Care is a national franchise and align with good pet sitting principals. She personally comes over to meet with your pets (and has a really good petside manner) and introduces you to your pet sitter.  She has excellent follow-up when calling, texting or emailing her.

Wherever you are getting your in-home pet sitter, its important to do the following:

1) Call them, email or text them. If they don’t get back to you in a timely manner, on to the next.  If there is emergency while I’m gone, I don’t want someone who isn’t communicative.

2) Ask how long they’ve been petsitting, what hours and days they are available, and where they live.  Many have other jobs, so if you don’t want someone who comes at 5:00 a.m. and 8:00 pm.  Also, their telephone # many not reflect where they live. In a snowstorm, you want someone local.

3) Ask for references. These are key. I do them before meeting someone. I’ve had some references where person just cat sit once 3 years ago for one reference!

4) Have them meet your pet.  It is almost more important that your pet likes them than you and that they really like animals. Don’t laugh. I had two woman come over one day, and one admitted she really only liked dogs!

5) Ask how long do they spend with your pet and what do they charge? This can really vary.  In Lower Westchester the average is $17-$22 per visit.

6) Have all of your information about taking care of your home typed out.  Should include feeding, litter (if cat), mail, watering plants, lights on in different parts of house at night, music, to important things like who your vet is and where, alarm directions, where your fuse box is in case lights go out, neighbors who may have a spare key or they have emergency, to of course, where you can be reached!

For those of you who have dogs, cats, or whatever your pet preference, finding the right pet sitter should be taken seriously. You want your pet to be a happy when you return home!

If you are looking for that home in Lower Westchester County, don’t hesitate to call/text me at 914-523-5087 or email me at barbara@jphilip.com

No Comments

Westchester Housing Market Heats Up in 2nd Qtr.

Advice for buyers, real estate thoughts, Westchester Real Estate, westchester towns

The housing market is heating up in Westchester County!

According to HGAR (Hudson Gateway Association of Realtors@) 2nd quarter of 2013 outdid 2nd quarter 2012!

There were 23% more residential properties sold and an increase in prices of 5% bringing the median price of a home to $650,000.  Due to this increase in sales, the amount of inventory decreased by 13.1% compared to 2nd quarter last year.

In this competitive marketplace, it even more important to have a buyer real estate agent represent you. Why..you say?

Aren’t there a million websites you can scan each day and find a house and just call on them?  Most of the sites are not “real time” listings, some do not update on a daily basis, or even weekly and thus many listings are already gone by the time you call on them.  Soldhouse

Why not just go to Open Houses on a Sunday? Because, as some of my new buyers discovered, a house may already have several offers during the week, so you would be coming in behind the pack.

Having a dedicated buyer agent allows you to:

1) Have one person who knows exactly what you are looking for in terms of location, price, size, property size, garage, and all of the other amenities on your wish list.

2) Have your pre-approval letter in your data file and ready to attach to an offer. In this market, time is of the essence

3) Will set you up with a Listingbook or MLS Account. You can put in all of your parameters and whenever a new listing comes to market, you see it. No delay. Your agent is cc’d and keeps you informed of hot properties while you are busy at work.

4) Your buyer agent walks you through every step of the process to closing. They  should furnish you with a list of inspectors, attorneys, mortgage bankers, insurance agents to assure a seamless process.

4) Most important, they will negotiate on your behalf and offer advice when asked.

The market has definitely heated up over the last six months. I showed a house a day after it came on the market in White Plains (due to buyers schedule), to find that they already had 2 offers the first day. By end of week they have 5. Of course these houses are in good condition, on tree lined street neighborhoods,  but isn’t that what everyone wants?  This is particularly true for homes in the $350,000 – $650,000 range and especially true for multi-family homes in Yonkers, NY.

So, if you are serious about buying and not “just looking”, developing a loyal and open communicative relationship with a buyer agent is well worth your time.

No Comments

Buying your First Home. Its NOT just Mortgage and Taxes

Advice for buyers, real estate thoughts, Westchester Real Estate, westchester towns

Coffee and newspaperIt is exciting to think about buying that first home. But are you totally prepared for all of the expenses of owning a home rather than renting?  When I meet with first time homebuyers, they usually say, “we’ve saved enough money for a downpayment on a new home and have enough money to pay for the mortgage, taxes and insurance costs per month.”

That is great, but there are many other costs that have to be considered in your total monthly and yearly costs before knowing if you can truly afford to maintain your home for the long haul.

Lets start with Purchasing the Home.

1)How much do you want to put as a downpayment? Have you saved enough for the 20% conventional loan? Thats great. But many have less of a downpayment and some even go for a FHA 3.5% down loan to qualify.  If you do put down less than 20%, then you have to include an extra amount each month for PMI insurance, which continues until you reach that magic 20% downpayment.

2) Once your offer is accepted, there are several steps before you get to the closing costs.  You need to hire an inspector right away, and in New York, hire a real estate attorney to help with your transaction from start to finish. Inspections depend upon the size of your home. A 1800 square foot house can average $450 in Westchester County. An attorney can either charge a flat rate depending on house price or some put you on retainer. You need to compare a few. I always suggest having an inspector and attorney lined up before making an offer.

3) Generally speaking you will pay for an appraisal and may also have to pay for a survey if the owners do not have one. This can cost more than $1200, as one of my recent buyers discovered.  If it is an older house where the owners have lived for many years, you may want to have a survey so you know where your boundaries are in case you want to put up that fence!

4) Closing Costs.  There are a list of closing costs that your morgage banker will review with you. This can average 2-5% of the mortgage.

5) Insurance.  You will need homeowners insurance and possibly hazard or flood insurance. Its important to find out if you are in a flood zone. You can either go down to your town, or you can go on the FEMA site and put in the address you are moving to.

So, now you know what that will cost, lets look at

OWNING THE HOME!

1) Moving in!  Depending on where you are moving from, your moving costs need to include all of those boxes, wardrobes, as well as hiring the mover which can range from a local move to a cross country move.

2) All of your utilities that need to be turned on before you arrive. It is helpful if you can ask your real estate agent or owner if buying direct what their electric/gas/oil/water costs average per month. Also, if they have a security system, what they pay per year. If they don’t, that is something you may want to look into that is an added cost.

3) Maintenance. If you own a home, yearly maintenance is part of keeping the value of your home up! This can include gutter cleaning, chimney cleaning, checking your a/c and heating units. It may include pest control if you have notice there are ants, flying insects, or plants that seem to attract those pesty critters.

4) Lawn care/snow removal.  Right off the bat, if you are living in a rental, you will need to buy a lawnmower, rakes, and other lawn care products if you are doing it yourself. If not, then be prepared for 8 months of landscaping bills that can run $100 for small property upwards of $300-$350 for large lawns. Additional costs can occur if you have trees that need removing, or trees that come down during a storm.  Snowplowers are a good thing to have..unless you can shovel 3 feet of snow a little at a time!

5)  Repairs and Upgrades. Most experts suggest putting aside 1-2% of your mortgage for repairs and upgrades.  This can include anything from small repairs by a plumber or electrician, up to a roof that needs repair, painting inside or out, appliances, water heaters or furnaces that age and need to be replaced.

6) Of course, if you are moving from the city where you did not need a car, or have one but now need two, you have to include the insurance, gas and maintenance on that extra means of transportation!

Hope I haven’t scared all of you first home buyers off! Owning a home and having that independence from your upstairs neighbor is great. But, knowing the actual costs to run that house are critical to realize before you start the process!

No Comments
« Older Posts