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Alexander Monticello, Esq.'s Blog

By Alexander H. Monticello | Broker in 12203
  • How Much Are Capital Region Property Taxes

    Posted Under: Market Conditions in Albany, Home Buying in Albany, Financing in Albany  |  March 7, 2013 12:19 PM  |  416 views  |  No comments

    Editor's Note: This blog post was originally published March 7, 2013 on Monticello's blog. For the full list of data and details, visit Monticello's blog. 

    “What are the property taxes,” asks the diligent buyer. This is a common question and worth getting answered before making an offer. Usually if the house is listed properly the listing agent will provide the tax amounts. As is the case with any information provided by the opposing side, trust but verify. It’s common to ask for actual copies of the tax bills, and in fact sometimes the lender will even require copies to process the mortgage application.

    But in the absence of reliable information from the the listing agent, or in the case of new construction, you can use a formula. The rates in the attached document are per $1,000 of assessed value. Therefore, to calculate the approximate total property tax bill (both municipal and school taxes), use this formula: (Tax Rate)x(Sale Price)/$1,000. The tax rates vary significantly from city to town, and from county to county. But the Empire Center for New York State Policy, has some helpful information from 2012 that shows the effective property tax rates by town and school district.

    For the full set of tax rates see below. The first list is sorted by municipality (city/town) and then the second document is sorted by tax rates (lowest to highest). In New York, school districts cross municipalities. So for example the Shenendahowa school district encompasses seven different municipalities with seven different tax rates. But for the most part the tax rates don’t significantly fluctuate within school districts, as school districts are the biggest drivers of tax bills.

    The tax rate, is the amount of money taxed per $1,000 of assessed value. So for example a house assessed at $200,000 in Albany would pay $36.40 per $1,000 of assessed value, or $7,280 in the total annual tax bill. This would not include any New York State Property Tax STAR exemption. All homeowners are entitled to a STAR property tax exemption on their primary home, (but not your secondary home). The basic exemption could be worth $400-$500 annually, and the Senior or Veterans STAR exemption could be worth over $1,000 in annual  tax savings.

    For the complete list check out the original blog post on Monticello's blog. 

  • GET UP TO $1,000 CASH BACK

    Posted Under: General Area in Albany, Home Buying in Albany, Financing in Albany  |  July 26, 2012 5:06 AM  |  463 views  |  No comments

    GET UP TO $1,000 CASH BACK

    Editor's Note: Visit the Monticello website for the full details on the Cash Back promotion.

    At Monticello, Licensed Real Estate Broker, we appreciate that finding a reliable and trustworthy real estate agent isn’t always easy. We invite you to take this opportunity to learn more about us.  Monticello is offering up to $1,000 Cash Back when you purchase your next home with us.

    Now that we’ve got your attention let’s cut to the chase. Yes, it’s really true. If you buy your next home with Monticello, we will give you 10% of our buyer’s commission up to $1,000 Cash Back. Typically Monticello earns between 2.0% – 2.5% of the purchase price on a buyer’s transaction, as our commission. For example, if you buy a home for $200,000 and Monticello earns $5,000, you would receive $500 Cash Back (or 10% of our commission).

    But to be honest you shouldn’t choose to work with Monticello – or any real estate agent – for $1,000. Your home is a much more important investment than this short term cash. You should look for a smart, hardworking, reliable, and honest real estate agent.

    Take a closer look at our experience, what other clients have said, and give us call. We promise you’ll be pleasantly surprised to learn we’re not your typical real estate firm. We provide honest advice with a sophisticated perspective, always protecting your financial interests. We continually advise clients against purchasing homes that are not right for the client, even when it means a financial loss to us.  Here is what one of many clients has said, and we can gaurantee you will have the same experience.

    He takes great effort to find properties that are best for my needs, rather than for his own profit. – Y.G.

    If you have questions or are interested in learning more about Monticello, contact us today.

    Fine Print. This offer is good for all new buyers who purchase their next home utilizing Monticello as their buyer broker in 2012. The client’s 10% Cash Back is calculated using the the commission that Monticello earns on the client’s transaction. Typically most sellers pay 2.5% to the buyer’s agent. For example, if you buy a $400,000 home and the seller offers a 2.5% buyer’s agent commission, Monticello would earn $10,000. Your 10% Cash Back would therefore be $1,000. If you purchased a home for $100,000 and the seller pays a 2.0% buyer’s commission, Monticello would earn $2,000 and your Cash Back would be $200. This offer is good for all new buyers who: 1.) mention this webpage in writing via an email to Info@MonticelloNYS.com with the subject line Cash Back; 2.) utilize Monticello as their buyer’s agent;  and 3.) close on their new home in 2012.

  • Choose Albany and Get up to $15,000 loan @ 0.0%

    Posted Under: General Area in Albany County, Home Buying in Albany County, Financing in Albany County  |  March 10, 2012 10:42 AM  |  460 views  |  No comments

    I’ve just added a new page to the website detailing the Choose Albany program available to homebuyers in the City of Albany.

    To learn more about the Choose Albany program, click here for the guidelines and application. According to the City: If you are interested in purchasing a home for sale in Albany, NY, you may be eligible for a 5 to 10-year loan at 0.0% interest, up to 8.0% of the purchase price. There are no income restrictions as long as the house is within the City of  Albany. However, the purchase price of the real estate in Albany, NY may not be more than $200,000. The total maximum available loan through Choose Albany for the purchase of houses for sale in Albany, NY is $15,000. The loan must be applied towards down payment assistance and closing costs.

    As you get started on your search, you can use the Monticello online search engine to find the latest listings for houses for sale in Albany, NY. Unlike other online websites such as Trulia or Zillow, the Monticello search engine pulls directly from the Capital Region Multiple Listing Service. If you find houses for sale in Albany, NY using our search engine, you’ll have the most up-to-date listings for houses for sale in Albany, NY.

    Check out the full dedicated page on the Choose Albany program. And as always if you have questions or need assistance don’t hesitate to contact us directly.

  • First-Time Homebuyers, Advice to Go By

    Posted Under: Market Conditions in Albany County, Home Buying in Albany County, Financing in Albany County  |  January 23, 2012 6:51 PM  |  424 views  |  1 comment

    If you’re a first time homebuyer looking to buy a home in Albany or buy a home in Saratoga, or for that matter any area in the Capital Region, I have a few important words of advice. When I’m working with clients, I make sure to review the steps and process of buying a home very early on in the process. Especially for first time buyers, buying a home is often your single largest investment so it’s important to not overlook these guidelines. 

    1. Remember, buying a home is not only a financial decision but an emotional decision. Find an honest and reputable real estate broker. You want an agent and advocate who will work hard to make sure your emotions do not cloud your financial analysis. It’s easy to fall in love with a home and forget all of the monthly payments and challenges that come with home ownership.
    2. Although the bank may pre-qualify you for a mortgage, do not forget the other costs associated with buying a home. Taxes, home owners insurance, utility bills, maintenance, and sometimes personal mortgage insurance (usually required if you’re making less than a 20% downpayment on the home purchase) are recurring costs that you should budget for on a monthly basis.
    3. When buying a home, make sure you use a reliable banker or mortgage broker. A good real estate agent will be able to recommend a competent banker to assist you in your mortgage application. If you have an honest and experienced real estate agent, use your agent’s recommended banker.  Relationships matter, and a good real estate agent will use experienced bankers who can handle the variety of challenges that may arise during the mortgage application process.
    4. Finally, your selection for a closing attorney will make a huge difference. No matter how experienced your agent, if you don’t have a strong and skillful attorney at your closing, you’re likely going to jeopardize your purchase. The possible issues that may arise during the contract period and closing are too many to list. Your attorney is going to be your primary insurance for protecting your interests and minimizing the potential issues at closing.

    As always, if you have questions or comments don’t hesitate to contact me. If you liked what you read, please like Monticello on facebook or tweet this post. Click on the icons below.

  • Is mortgage debt good?

    Posted Under: Market Conditions in Saratoga Springs, Home Buying in Saratoga Springs, Financing in Saratoga Springs  |  November 21, 2011 5:25 PM  |  536 views  |  1 comment
    I consider myself to be a fiscal conservative. But can you be conservative and still carry mortgage debt? Of course, mortgage debt in and of itself isn't bad. Certainly our tax code rewards mortgage debt, unlike other debt such as credit card debt. However, the question becomes whether home owners should aggressively pay down their mortgage or limit the size of their mortgage when buying a new home.  

    Ultimately the question becomes whether your money will earn a greater return in another investment than the interest on your mortgage. If your rate of return (ROR) is higher than the interest rate on your debt, it likely does not make sense to pay down your mortgage. Additionally, when you consider the historically low interest rates, you could very well find dividend bearing stocks or bonds that pay a higher return than 4.00%. [WSJ: noted that 30 fixed interest rates have fallen below 4.0%]. 

    The New York Times took a look at this issue and added this quantitive analysis:

    "Then there are the tax implications of losing the mortgage deduction. These are only relevant . . . to owners whose principal is less than two-thirds [of the mortgage] paid off. Once the two-thirds threshold has been reached, the interest deduction, if any, is small and doesn’t justify keeping the mortgage."

    The above quoted expert explains that once two-thirds of the mortgage has been paid off, there is very little remaining interest and thus a small amount to deduct. Again this analysis is contingent upon your interest rate and your expected rate of return on other investments. 

    For more click here. 
  • Getting a mortgage? Avoid some common pitfalls

    Posted Under: Home Buying in Albany County, Financing in Albany County, Credit Score in Albany County  |  November 4, 2011 5:11 PM  |  671 views  |  No comments
    As we are in the post housing-market-crash era, banks have taken a greater interest in reviewing mortgage applications. Motivated in part to ferret out fraud, banks are looking closer at applications to avoid lending to unqualified buyers. 

    According to the New York Times, banks' new efforts have lead to a 40% reduction in fraudulent mortgage applications as compared to 2010. Bankers look to specific triggers to determine whether the application contains fraud. 

    The New York Times has highlighted four known triggers. Below each trigger, I've provide a solution to avoid or minimize these triggers that may unnecessarily delay your valid application. 

    "A LARGE BANK DEPOSIT Lenders are required by federal regulators to confirm that funds in an account come from bona fide sources, like a gift from your grandmother for the down payment." 
    Solution: Disclose any gifts on your initial application. 

    "YOUR ADDRESS If you are buying a primary home three hours from Manhattan yet list your employment with a Midtown company, your case may draw scrutiny, said Jason Auerbach, the divisional manager for the Manhattan office of First Choice Loan Services."
    Solution: Get a letter from your employer verifying your employment history. 

    "NEW OR UNDISCLOSED DEBTS When you’re in the process of buying a home, avoid taking on other debt. Buying a sofa or a furnace on credit could also slow or even scuttle your mortgage closing, depending on your situation, if it pushed your total debt levels beyond acceptable limits."
    Solution: Do not take on any new debt obligations or open new credit cards during the process. 

    "INCOME ISSUES If you disclose that you earn twice what the average person in your occupation earns, you may need to document that discrepancy."
    Solution: Provide copies of your tax returns or authorize the release of your returns.

  • 4.5 Million Homeowners in Foreclosure may be Eligible for Damages

    Posted Under: Market Conditions in Saratoga County, Financing in Saratoga County, Foreclosure in Saratoga County  |  November 1, 2011 6:52 PM  |  642 views  |  No comments
    This is an interesting development on the mortgage financial front. The WSJ is reporting that over 4.5 million homeowners who were in some state of foreclosure during the past two years may be eligible for financial compensation. The compensation would come only after a review by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and the Federal Reserve, pertaining to the actions of the 14 largest banks and their foreclosure practices. Damages would be paid for harm ranging from fees to loss of a home. However, presumably if the bank engaged in fraud or other illegal activity to take the property, the homeowners may be entitled to much more. 

    The timing of this announcement is particularly interesting because it comes a day after the banks acknowledged that the total settlement for the robo signing fraud maybe $25 billion, up from $10 billion. However, this figure does not include damages that may be required pursuant to independent suits filed by Attorneys General from New York, Delaware, and most certainly other states not participating in the settlement. 

    If you believe you've been a victim of foreclosure fraud or unjust financial harm, you 
    must petition for a review by April 30, 2012. A petition may be filed over the phone at 1-888-952-9105, or online at the website www.independentforeclosurereview.com.

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