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!

Should I buy or sell a house in the Fall?

Advice for buyers, advice for sellers, Life Thoughts, Moving Advice, real estate thoughts, Westchester Real Estate



FALL FOLIAGEANSWER IS YES!  There are a number of reasons both monetary and just practical reasons for buying or selling a home by year end.  The most obvious one is for tax reasons and does give a buyer a slight edge in finding a home.   As a buyer you can deduct the points, the taxes on your home, and mortgage loan interest (which is alot at the beginning of the mortgage) on your year end taxes.  The seller may be more motivated to sell since they would also like to take advantage of the same tax advantages on their new home or condo by year end.

On the practical side..if you are a seller, it is a good time to invite a real estate agent to your home. Holiday time gives a good impressions (especially if you have hot cider cooking on the oven!)..And, you can relax, discuss what the market has been, what it may look like and get a comparative market analysis so you are not surprised when you go to list your home in the spring!  For a buyer, it is a good time to start exploring different neighborhoods, get your name on a ListingBook Account to see what is coming on the market, the prices, taxes and areas that you may want to explore. It gives you time to research schools, and just the feeling of the neighborhoods!  Sometimes when the trees don’t have all of the leaves…you can see how close you really are to seeing in that next door neighbor’s window!

Either way, year end can be a good time to evaluate where you’d like to be, and have a “jumpstart” on looking in the spring..makes for a more relaxing search. And, if you are fortunate enough to find something between now and year end…a good tax advantage!

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Thinking of Selling your Home in the Spring?

advice for sellers, Moving Advice, real estate thoughts, Westchester Real Estate
You are sitting around the fireplace having a hot cup of chocolate and thinking about moving to a warmer climate! Or, perhaps after the first major snowstorm you are thinking about moving locally to a condo or co-op where the snowblowing is done by the complex!  Many baby boomers think about this once the weather gets cold!  Some think about just picking up after retiring and moving to a warmer climate. Others think about downsizing to a smaller house, condo or co-op up north and buying one of those bargains in the south before the market heats up!  Or just staying locally with less expenses and maintenance.

You also may be a young, growing family who is thinking of buying a bigger home starting in the spring, so that you can close when the children are out of school in June.

Whatever your thoughts of Moving, how do you begin and when?

Begin by doing your HOMEWORK AND RESEARCH!                     

Questions need to ask yourself:

1) What are our goals?  Do we want to downsize? If so, how much space do we really need to feel comfortable?  Do you want to stay in a home, or are you considering a condo, townhouse, or co-op?  What are the prices of these alternatives and costs attached to them? Do they allow pets, have garages, storage?

2) Perhaps you have a growing family and are considering a larger home. Where? In the same community, in another town or village in Westchester County or moving farther up to Putnam, Orange, Rockland counties may be considerations to afford more space.Will there be additional costs in taxes, maintenance, landscaping, electric bills, commutation costs if you move.

3) What is your home worth?  If you’ve lived in the home over 20 years, your home price will have more than likely increased. If you bought at the height of market, then that is something else you need to look at.  If its paid off that’s a good thing and you can apply that to a new home. If you have a mortgage, the price of your new home,  taxes, and other variables are all things you need to consider and weigh.

So, you actually have to think about both selling your current home and then what it will take to buy a new home!  The best way to do this is to talk to your real estate agent, and sign up for an account through them  where you can see what homes, condos or co-ops are selling for in your town or village or in the towns and villages you would like to move.

You can take advantage of doing your “homework” and research by signing up for a  free listingbook account.  You can search the MLS listings like a real estate agent, and be prepared to know where you want to move, whether a condo, co-op, townhouse is an option or if a larger home is worth the move!



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Buying a Westchester Home Useful Links

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

You are relocating to a new state or just moving to a neighborhood.  You have children who are school age and want a “certain type neighborhood”.  You know that a real estate agent will be critical in assisting you finding that dream home with everything you desire.

But, wait.  You need to know what a real estate agent can do for you and what they cannot say or do so that you don’t get angry when meeting them.  I have had potential new clients feel I’m not helping them when I refer them to websites or local authorities on the following questions, but its against Fair Housing Law.

What Real Estate agents can’t directly advise you on:

Schools.  You want to know is it a good or bad school district?  A real estate agent can refer to you to several sites to research to get local testimonials or state test scores.  Some of the sites include:





Religious communities.  A real estate agent can relay a list of local religious organizations that you can call and explore, but not say things like “it is predominantly this denomination.”.


Crime Statistics:  Again, this is against Fair Housing because it pinpoints a certain class of people.  You can call the local police departments to get a more personalized answer, or you can visit sites like  http://www.citi-data.com   or familywatchdog.us

Household income:  A question you may be thinking of asking is “is this an upscale neighborhood?”.  Or, I was told its a bad neighborhood to look in.

Our answer most likely will be to explore the various sites like www.citi-data.com  or even to walk around the neighborhood early morning, midday and evening and see if you are comfortable with who your neighbors are.

So, what can a real estate agent do for you, you ask?

A real estate agent is critical in the whole home buying process.  They are not just “door openers”, but also really participate in your search from the very beginning until the closing.  First, to determine where you’d like to focus and if new to an area, should give you a general tour of your various towns/cities.  In Westchester there is a broad range from small towns like Dobbs Ferry all the way up to a larger city like White Plains with an active downtown area.

They should give you the tools to research the above Fair Housing questions so that when you start your search, you have basic knowledge of the area.

Real estate agents are the main liaison between your attorney, mortgage banker, and listing agent, as well as providing you sources for an inspection which they attend for you.  They also let the appraiser in when the time comes. Most importantly, they provide you with the comps of a house that you are looking at and help with negotiating on your behalf. With knowledge of their local areas, they can tell you whether a house will go quickly.   I set up all of my buyers on their own personal MLS reporting system.  This way we can both view properties that interest them and share notes.  

So, don’t shoot the messenger if they say, I’m sorry but that is not a question I can answer, and give you sources to check.  Check those sources, become knowledgeable and then your home search will be a smooth one!

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New Homeowners Move in Checklist

Advice for buyers, Moving Advice, real estate thoughts, Westchester Real Estate

New Homeowners Before and After Moving in Checklist

No matter what type key opens the door to your new home, there are numerous sites that point out what you need to do once you open that door!  I read all of them the first time I moved and just found the written copy in my drawer.


1)  You will want to have water/electric/gas/oil on when you move in. Call the local companies and make sure its turned on the day before or day of moving.  

2) Call a few locksmiths, compare costs (make sure you know how many doors and types of locks you would like to install before calling the locksmith to get accurate cost. Set up appointment for first day.

3) Register your change of address online and start date to forward your current mail.

4) Call phone company (if you still have landline).

5) Can see what cable companies service your area and cost compare. Set up appointment if need to install lines.

6) Compare insurance rates with an insurance broker or various insurance companies.  Even if not in flood zone, check to see if there has been any issues with water in the area, and whether it would be worth getting it.  We know that is worthwhile call based upon Hurricane Sandy where many homes were flooded.


Make sure you buy a file cabinet – small or large!  This will be a critical item to have (outside your furniture and personal effects of course). First thing you will want is a bright colored file folder  to put in all of your documents for home purchase, from inspection report, to appraisals, to surveys and Closing Papers!



1)  Change those locks, install phone and cable.

2)  Make sure you buy a first aid kit for all of those “fixing” up the house chores and keep in a handy cabinet.

3)  Make sure you have smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms with plenty of batteries. Keep a fire extinquisher handy, especially if you have a fireplace.

4) Make sure you know where your breaker box and water switches are located.

5) Update your drivers license and vehicle registration.

6) If entitled to a Star Deduction (School Relief tax deduction in Westchester County), go online and see when and how to apply.

7) Look up your medical insurance websites and find local doctors, dentists, eye doctors or specialists. Call and find out hours and I suggest visiting them personally before signing up. Know where the nearest emergency room and walk in doctors are.

8) If have a pet, research local veterinary clinics so that you have them ready when you need them.!

8)  If there is an alarm system in the house, or if you want to add one, cost compare some in you new neighborhood.

9) If first time homeowner and moving from apartment, some items you may want to invest on is a snow shovel for winter and yard tools if moving in spring!

AND…Back to that File Cabinet.

Most people buying homes, whether brand new or already lived in will be making updates, or installing new kitchen, repointing fireplaces, adding a powder room, upgrading electrical and the list goes on!  Its important to keep track of all major, or even minor home expenditures, including money spent on the upgrades, copies of the warranties, assembly directions and repair services. Easy access is great for troubleshooting as your appliances get older, and can provide a tax advantage when you go to sell the house. So, keep the files in a safe place. It is also nice to have the purchases and warranties handy for future home buyers.

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Merry Christmas from Around the World


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


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!
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CHRISTMAS TIME, Westchester Activities, westchester towns


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.
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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.

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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!

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Villaggios in Hartsdale is Not Just Pizza

Westchester Real Estate


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!

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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.


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