Wednesday, February 13, 2019

HAPPY ST. VALENTINE'S DAY

Valentine’s Day is a lovely holiday that reminds us to express our love and appreciation to the people in our lives near and far.  Although the origin of this holiday of valentine hearts and roses and chocolates is a bit cloudy, here is the most popular legend. When Emperor Claudius II decided that single men made better soldiers, he outlawed marriage for young men. Valentino, a priest who served during the third century in Rome, realized the injustice of the decree, and continued to perform marriages for young lovers in secret. Valentino was put to death for his defiance of Claudius, and became a saint and champion of love.

Through the years, the holiday has grown to what we know today, with all the sweet sentiments and gifts of chocolates, flowers and cards.  In fact, the number of cards sent for Valentine’s Day is only surpassed by Christmas!

I want to share two letters about love with you. One has been deemed one of the most romantic love letters of all time, by Johnny Cash, and another has been memorialized in the Bible, by Saint Paul:

"We get old and get used to each other. We think alike. We read each other’s minds. We know what the other wants without asking.  Sometimes we irritate each other a little bit. Maybe sometimes take each other for granted.  But once in a while, like today, I meditate on it and realize how lucky I am to share my life with the greatest woman I ever met.  You still fascinate and inspire me.  You influence me for the better.  You’re the object of my desire, the #1 Earthly reason for my existence. I love you very much." 
Johnny Cash to June Carter Cash

“Love is patient, love is kind.  It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered.  It keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.  Love never fails.”
St. Paul to the Corinthians, 13:4-8.

Happy Valentine’s Day...celebrate!!!!

P.S. If you’re thinking of doing something really special for your Valentine, we have the perfect North Fork home for you to consider!!!






Sunday, February 10, 2019

HOW TO SAVE YOUR PIPES IN THE WINTER!



Colder winter months are tough on plumbing. This has been especially true lately where temperatures have dipped below zero with wind chill factors.  We often hear from clients about broken pipes and unfortunately water damage.  One good thing, with our frequent open houses and showings that we do for our clients we know if the heat is working in a home and have helped avoid larger problems.
It doesn’t take much for pipes to burst if they are exposed to the elements, or if they are in a cold house where the thermostat is too low or possibly broken.  To protect against costly repairs from broken water pipes, there are steps you should take to ensure that your plumbing stays operational especially if you are away for the winter or even for a few days. Here are some important things to consider to save your pipes from bursting:
Insulate pipes where possible
Cracked pipes caused by water freezing inside the pipes, is particularly likely if they are outside or in exterior walls that are not insulated. One of the best measures to prevent pipes from bursting is to insulate them with foam covers, or spiral-wrap or fiberglass insulation. You can do it yourself, or call a plumbing service to perform the installation.  If you have an older home that has poor insulation, look into home insulation alternatives – it will not only protect your pipes, but also reduces your fuel consumption. 
A slow drip in a faucet also may help pipes from freezing
Letting a faucet drip can help relieve some of the pressure on your pipes during the winter months because water running slowly through the pipes isn't likely to freeze.  This is a good idea for older homes that have pipes in exterior walls and poor insulation.  Leaving a faucet dripping may sound wasteful, but considering how much damage a burst pipe can cause, a slight increase in the use of water is a prudent option.  Remember to check that the drain is unstopped if you go away for more than a few hours.  Some people use the bath tub faucet as an added precaution.
Drain outside faucets and put hoses in storage
Never leave your garden hose connected to a faucet during the winter and drain outside faucets.  The cold will freeze not only the water remaining inside the hose, but also every single drop left inside the faucet. Disconnect the hose, empty it and put it away until spring.
Keep your outside drains clear
All your drains should be kept clear during the colder months, because the debris inside them can freeze, as well. Be sure that your drains aren't clogged—any amount of standing water inside your drain pipes will likely freeze and cause problems.
 Keep the heat running even when you're away for a day or on vacation
When no one will be home for several days, or even weeks, you can prevent your plumbing from freezing by keeping your heat on low while you're away.  Again, the extra cost for heating will be a mere fraction of the cost to repair damage caused by running water in your  house if a pipe bursts.
Consult with your plumber and determine whether you can close the water main inside your home if you are going to be away. This will minimize any damage from a pipe burst.  Also I had a plumber tell me that the water to the washer should always be closed when you leave the house because the rubber water connectors dry out and crack and most of us don’t think about replacing them until something happens!  Winter plumbing issues can quickly become major problems. Taking the necessary precautions and your chances of cracked or burst pipes this winter will be considerably diminished. 
 Source: Housecall, Winter Plumbing Tips, Victoria Brown, January 29, 2019




Sunday, February 3, 2019

SELF-DIRECTED IRA – FOR THE CONTROL FREAK IN YOU!


There are so many situations in life where we have little or no control – new regulations enacted by government that take away individual control albeit for the greater good, giant online portals like Zillow, that take control of individual home owners and realtors online listings and information. But you can have control over where you invest your retirement funds through a SELF-DIRECTED IRA.
With the recent stock market volatility, which seemed to come out of nowhere, one begins to wonder whether to diversify retirement money outside the stock market.  There is very little choice, banks are paying so little interest, “putting it under the mattress” seems like the only alternative! The good news, is you can set up a self-directed IRA and have more control over your assets.  You will be able to manage where your retirement funds or invested, as long as it is in the hands of a custodian and it follows IRS rules.  
You can invest in alternatives to securities such as: single and multi-family homes, condos, commercial property, undeveloped land; foreclosures, rehabs, in addition to equipment leasing, precious metals, livestock, and many other types of investments.
One of the most important IRS guidelines requires the investment be an arm’s length transaction. For example, you cannot personally use or benefit from the real estate in your self-directed IRA.  All expenses and revenues must come from and go directly to the IRA.  Also, you cannot buy from or sell an asset to a “disqualified person” - a close relative or the custodian or advisor of the IRA.
If you are thinking about diversifying, you may want to look into the creation of a self-directed IRA  to invest in real estate or other qualified types of investments.  Consult with your tax professional and retirement advisor.
 If you’d like help finding investment property for your self-directed IRA call  us at 631-765-5333, email me at Marie@BeninatiAssociates.com, or visit our office at the corner of Main Road and Horton’s Lane in Southold.  It’s a good time to explore alternatives and we’re here to help you!

Source: Equity Trust, Self-Directed Real Estate 101, www.TrustETC.com.




Sunday, January 27, 2019

How to Beat the “Housing Market Blues”


Housing market news hasn’t been front and center in the Wall Street Journal for quite some time.  But Wednesday, the decline in existing-home closings for December, made the front page. Existing home sales fell to a seasonally adjusted rate of 6.4% in December, 2018.  The fact is, sales have been declining somewhat for several months, although not significantly until “the surge in stock-market volatility...and rising interest rates, which pushed up mortgages rates in November to their highest levels in seven years.” 
Mortgage rates have come down in the past few weeks, as a result of the Federal Reserve dialing back on some of their earlier plans to raise rates in 2019.  It’s no surprise that housing sales would stumble - housing is a rate sensitive industry. The Fed’s position affected the stock market as well. The voluble stock market also contributed to lower activity in the fall and lower closings in December.
The important thing to keep in mind is to understand how all of this affects you as a buyer or as a seller and what you should do?  The key to besting the “housing market blues” is to get in front of the predicted trends and take action.
If you are a buyer, lucky you, it’s an opportune time to shop for a home and get a great deal.  Line up your financing, have your down payment in hand, and get going.  This is a window of opportunity that will likely change, perhaps even in a few months.  It may also be a good time to move some assets from the stock market to real estate with a self-directed IRA. 
If you are a seller, and your home is on the market, reassess your situation.  Sit down with your realtor and discuss options open to you - enhance presentation or condition of your home, address the pricing, and explore additional marketing opportunities.  Your agent is your partner – work with her/him. 
If you are planning to sell your home, move as quickly as possible – get your house in shape, and put it on the market.  Waiting is an option, but not in the short term, only if you’re prepared to put your plans on hold for a couple of years of more. 
Our advice is to put your plans in motion, don’t put your life on hold. Theodore Roosevelt said, “Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.”  We are here, ready to help you figure out what you can do with what you have, and then... get things going.  Just call us, 631-765-5333!


Sources: Slump in Housing Market Deepens, pages A1-A2; The Housing-Market Blues Aren’t Going to Be Over Soon, page B14, The Wall Street Journal, January 23, 2019. National Association of Realtors



Sunday, January 20, 2019

HOME SEARCH TIPS FOR SUCCESS


Over 90% of home searches today start with online large real estate portals such as Realtor.com and Zillow.  Most properties are available on all these websites as well as proprietary sites like ours – www.BeninatiAssociates.com.  Everyone wants the best house they can get. And we all want a “deal”.  When it comes to getting value – the old adage, “you get what you pay for” almost always holds true. 
The best way to go about shopping for a home is to define what’s important to you, your partner and family. Make a list of the six to ten features of the home and locations that are desirable to you. Then prioritize and decide where you can be flexible and where you cannot.  Sort you list into “must haves,” and “nice to have.”  You may also want to get input from your children, other family members and your financial advisor.
Now it’s time to CHOOSE your real estate agent. If you use an online real estate portal, you will likely be referred to an agent, usually not the listing agent, who has paid Zillow to refer their name to potential buyers making inquiries on the internet.  That’s the only criteria Zillow uses. The best way to find an agent who has experience in the particular area you are looking for, is by referral from friends and professionals you work with.  If you don’t have access to referrals, then do a little research online.  Remember real estate is very local, you will want an agent who knows the neighborhood but also one that you’re comfortable with and trust. This is especially true for sellers as well.  Once you have selected an agent, share your list of features with him/her and ask to see homes that match your “must haves.”  Be honest with your realtor especially about price – if you overstate what you wish to spend, you will see houses that exceed your planned expenditure and be disappointed with the homes in your targeted price range.
Make sure to look at a variety of houses and give your favorites a second look before making an offer.  Also, be open to your realtor’s suggestions.  A good realtor will be able to understand what you are looking for, after a just few showings. Stay focused and don’t be afraid to act if you find a house that has what you want, even if it’s the first house you see. Although the average buyer, nationally, will look at approximately 10 homes, our North Fork market has fewer choices, so look carefully, evaluate your options with your agent, and if this is the one, then go for it!
Beninati Associates is always here to help you.  We have over twenty years of experience on the North Fork.  We would be delighted to share that experience with you and help you find what you want.  It’s an opportune time to invest in real estate – and the right time of the year to get a good value on a home or land on which to build.  Call us at 631 765 5333, email me at Marie@BeninatiAssociates.com, or visit us at our office at the corner of Main Road and Hortons Lane in Southold.  We’re always happy to see you!



Sunday, January 13, 2019

FALLING MORTGAGE RATES: SIGN OF THE TIMES - TO BUY & TO SELL


Home mortgage rates fell to “their lowest level in eight months, offering a potential boost to the housing market, reported the Wall Street Journal,* earlier this week.  The decline in rates boosted mortgage applications  23.5%, reported CNBC, on Wednesday, January 9, 2019.
            The significant increase in home mortgage applications, suggests a demand that had been stifled by the rate increases toward the end of 2018 and the prediction of more increases in 2019. Mortgage applications fell 10% at the end of December.  It seems as if both the stock market and the housing market has been spooked by the Fed.
            If you are in the market to buy, this is a window of opportunity – take it!  There are good values here on the North Fork, and the housing market offers much more stability than the stock market nowadays. You can be in your new home before spring and enjoy your investment instead of worrying about it.
            If you are thinking about selling in the near future, this is also a window of opportunity – call us!  We’ll help you evaluate the equity in your home with an up-to-date comparative market analysis – your home versus other properties around you – and a detailed marketing plan to get you going.  We’ll also help you get your home ready for a speedy launch.
            Benjamin Franklin wisely advised us, “TIME IS MONEY.”  Don’t procrastinate if you truly wish to buy or sell a property on the North Fork this year – call me at 631 235 8980 or Lee at 631 766 60666. Let’s get together and make it happen for you!    
  
Sources: Falling Mortgage Rates Buoy Housing Market, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL, pages A1-A2, January 8, 2019.



Sunday, January 6, 2019

GET GOING ON THOSE NEW YEAR RESOLUTIONS!


Happy New Year! 2019 is here! It’s that time of year when we all make new year’s resolutions.  Whether it’s something simple like cleaning out your closet or a longer term goal, like putting your home on the market or buying a summer home on the North Fork, we all need to find a way to get things rolling. Sometimes it’s a push from the outside – your loved-ones urging you to stop smoking.  And sometimes it’s a push from the inside – that awareness that you have to get your finances in order and sell or invest in real estate. Here are some ideas on how to end procrastination, get things done and feel better about yourself!
               Do the hard stuff first.  If you’ve been putting off a task and doing lots of other things instead, do the difficult task first. There’s nothing worse than a task looming over your head that gives you a feeling of dread.  By tackling it head on, you move forward on the project and cut out the anxiety around it. 
               Cut a large project into smaller segments and create realistic daily goals. If it’s a larger task that may take days or weeks (like a big basement clean-out, painting  or decluttering your home), set smaller daily goals to keep yourself on track. For instance, choose one section to clean or declutter, every day, perhaps, even if it’s only for 15-minute.  As you start making progress you will spend more time doing what you dreaded and finish sooner.  The project will be done and you will feel good about accomplishing the task and yourself.  This is also a good way to start an exercise routine.  Just pick a type of exercise you like (or simply walk briskly around your house) and do it for just 10 minutes every day.  I read somewhere, “you can do almost anything for 10 minutes!”   After a few days, you’ll find yourself enjoying the activity and extending the time to 20 or 30 minutes!
               Make yourself accountable to someone.  Tell another person about your project or goal.  It’s one of the best ways to overcome procrastination—but choose carefully. You want to confide in someone who is vested in your success.
               Avoid temptations that take you off task.  Activities like social media or binge-watching on Netflix or Amazon,  may interfere with getting your goals accomplished.  Delay  those activities until you’ve completed your daily tasks and then relax and reward yourself.
               If one of your New Year’s resolutions is to buy or sell a home this year, start the process now.  The stock market volatility may make real estate a wise choice right now. Get your sprucing up done and put your house on the market before all the procrastinators!  Or if your planning on buying, come out and start looking – you’ll be in way before Memorial Day and have the whole summer to enjoy.  Call us – we’ll help you get going!  Together, we will put in place a plan of action.  We’ll help you prioritize the tasks that need to be done, and even help you get things done.  You’ve got a partner in us!  Call us at 631 765 5333; or email: broker@BeninatiAssociates.com, or brave the cold and come by our office (corner of Main Road and Horton’s Lane in Southold.  We’ll have hot tea or coffee together and get the ball rolling!