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Alexander Monticello, Esq.'s Blog

By Alexander H. Monticello | Broker in 12203
  • 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  |  446 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.

  • Looking for Homes for Sale in Loudonville NY?

    Posted Under: General Area in Loudonville, Home Buying in Loudonville, In My Neighborhood in Loudonville  |  February 18, 2012 4:05 PM  |  415 views  |  No comments

    EDITOR'S NOTE: This was originally published on www.MonticelloNYS.com. For other recent posts visit Monticello's Blog. 

    Loudonville, New York is a small hamlet within the town of Colonie, located minutes north of the city of Albany and south of Latham. If you’re scratching your head wondering what is a hamlet, you’re not alone. According to the New York Department of State, a hamlet is not a legally recognized form of government, it is merely a neighborhood demarcation. Despite it’s legal insignificance, Loudonville plays a large role in the Albany real estate market.

    So why all of the interest in Loudonville homes for sale, location, location, location. This hamlet is the home of many historic homes dating back to the 19th century. Loudonville used to be a summer retreat for many of the capital region’s wealthiest. To the credit of local officials, Loudonville has protected its historic character by limiting commercial development and preserving green space – all through strict zoning. 

    Loudonville homes for saleLoudonville homes for sale vary from quaint colonials to stately Jeffersonian mansions. The hamlet is known for its wooded areas – many of the streets are lined with old hardwoods providing shade, privacy, and history. Loudonville is home to Siena College, and the hamlet is located within the North Colonie school district.

    Best of all you can have the great quality of life benefits without high property taxes. Colonie boasts some of the lowest property tax rates in the regions, along with some of the most competitive public schools.

    So if you’re looking to move to Loudonville or just curious to see Loudonville homes for sale, search our customized page for all of the Loudonville homes for sale. And as always, if you have questions don’t hesitate to contact us.

  • Albany Real Estate: Foreclosure Crisis & Gov’t Response

    Posted Under: Market Conditions in Albany, Home Buying in Albany, Foreclosure in Albany  |  February 11, 2012 7:06 AM  |  437 views  |  No comments

    The following is my latest blog post at Monticello.
    Click here for the full blog. 

    This is a fascinating chart from the Wall Street Journal. We’ve known for awhile the Albany NY real estate market has been relatively insulated from the home foreclosure crisis. New York’s foreclosure rate is roughly 10% of the current homes for sale. By comparison, one of the worst states is Nevada – 50% of all homes for sale are in foreclosure.

    As part of the WSJ report they looked at the top foreclosure markets and the number of FHA, Fannie Mae, and Freddie Mac foreclosures listed for sale by state. According to the chart, less than 800 homes backed by FHA, Freddie, and Fannie that are in foreclosure are for sale in New York. As compared to over 4,500 homes in Atlanta, GA and surrounding suburbs, 8,943 in California, and 5,767 Florida foreclosed homes for sale. 

    New York’s numbers are lower than actual number of foreclosures, in part because the New York courts instituted a new rule which dramatically reduced foreclosure proceedings. I supported this move by the Chief Judge of the New York Court of Appeals.

    This leads us to two national stories from last week. As reported the President proposed a new Homeowner Loan Modification Program, allowing responsible home owners to refinance. This expensive proposition has a big hurdle to clear in the Congress. Second, the New York Attorney General has filed a lawsuit against the banks for methods and procedures relating to bundling mortgage backed securities.

    You don’t need an economics degree to know fraud and malfeasance undermine the free markets, and our real estate market. Many suggest, and I agree, these illegal actions were contributing factors to the crisis. So if mortgage brokers, banks, attorneys, or real estate brokers committed fraud, they should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law and all current market actors should take note.

    Buying and selling Albany real estate is complicated for all of the details and individualized steps in the sale. But the Albany NY real estate market, the Saratoga NY real estate market, and the surrounding Capital Region real estate market are all impacted by micro and macro market forces pushing and pulling on our regional economy.

    At Monticello, we’ll sort through the national stories and trends, so you don’t have to. We will analyze the impacts on the Albany real estate market and surrounding Capital Region. As always, if you have questions don’t hesitate to contact us.


    Alexander H. Monticello, Esq.
    Principal Broker & 
    Licensed Attorney
    T: 518.227.0718
    F: 518.223.8001

  • 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  |  417 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.

  • For Sale By Owner in Albany or Saratoga?

    Posted Under: Home Selling in Albany County, Property Q&A in Albany County  |  January 15, 2012 4:11 PM  |  438 views  |  No comments

    I write this post with a bit of trepidation. For Sale By Owner you say, what's the big deal? As a licensed real estate For Sale by owner in Albany and Saratogabroker, I can appreciate that for many of my colleagues, for sale by owner is competition. Some may go as far to view for sale by owner as a threat.

    The reality is that for sale by owner is likely less than 10% of the market of sold homes. It's difficult for busy home owners that may not have the time, energy, experience, tools, and perspective of a licensed broker, to sell for sale by owner. Especially in this down market, for sale by owner can be a challenge in Albany and Saratoga, but it can be done. If you are looking at for sale by owner, I encourage you to visit my website for tips and assistance in selling your home.

    As an example of how to properly execute for sale by owner, let me provide this advice. You will want to consider how you can increase the value and maximize the potential of your home. Some of these steps require more time and energy. But remember this is a competitive buyer's market. The more you can distinguish your property and simplify the transaction, the more likely buyers will find your home irresistible.

    1. Consider the timing of your listing - seasons matter as do regional, national, and international economic trends.
    2. Consider what comparable homes in your neighborhood have sold for in the last year.
    3. Organize your cabinets, basement, attic, and downsize the clutter.
    4. Make all repairs and improvements you would want in your home.
    5. Develop a custom website to feature your property's specifics and photos.
    6. Design flyers both for open houses as well as posting outside, usually attached to your for sale sign.
    7. Schedule an open house and consider advertising the date and time in your local paper.
    8. Pay for priority listing on popular real estate websites such as Trulia.com, Zillow.com, the Times Union, and Realtor.com.

    If you've got the ambition, the right house, the right time, the right tools, and the right eye you can sell your home for sale by owner. If you take the time now - months and even years in advance of your sale - to upgrade your home and do the necessary repairs, it will pay dividends when you sell.  You want the stresses of homebuying to evaporate as buyers enter your home and realize they don't have to do a thing to fully enjoy your house.

    Whether you're a home owner in Saratoga or Albany or parts in between, this advice applies. Remember, one of the most important factors in selling is the condition of your home. Check out the website for additional tips, and if you have questions do not hesitate to contact me.

  • 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  |  664 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.

  • Condo buying, going with the new or the old?

    Posted Under: Home Buying in Albany, Property Q&A in Albany, Home Insurance in Albany  |  October 28, 2011 2:25 AM  |  588 views  |  No comments
    With the increase in new condominium construction in Albany and Saratoga, buyers need to consider whether to purchase in an established building or new construction.

    As a buyer it's important to not only look at the finances, governing documents, offering plan, bylaws, and rules for the condo, but in the case of new construction higher a home inspector. The challenge with new construction, especially brand new, is some of the defects can be hidden.

    According to the New York Times, if you're buying new construction you should inspect the following:

    Joseph Pasaturo, the founder of AVT Engineering and the chairman of the New York State Home Inspection Council, said that in this market, developers sometimes have to sell units for less than they had planned, so corners may be cut to make up the difference. For example, he said, in many of the buildings he inspects, builders have left out return vents in bedrooms. That means that a central heater or air-conditioner will not work well when the doors are closed because the air in the room cannot escape to make room for the new hotter or cooler air that your system is trying to pump in.

    In other instances, he has seen developers save money by installing low-quality windows, and has found problems with wood floors, tile and even exterior stucco. “The building may meet the building code,” Mr. Pasaturo said, “but the shortcuts the developer took can affect your overall quality of life.”

    Read more here. 

    Perhaps the most noticeable pre-war neighborhood in the region, is Center Square in Albany (12210). Center Square is less than a half mile from the state Capitol, and it's home to many buildings built in the early 1900s, some as early as the late 1800s. While most of the buildings are townhouse, otherwise known as brownstones, there are a few well established condominium buildings that date back to 1905. Capital Hill Condominiums in one of the most recognized pre-war condo buildings in Center Square.

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