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By Christopher Pagli - ABR, GREEN | Agent in Westchester, NY
  • Steps To Purchasing A Coop In Westchester County NY

    Posted Under: Home Buying in Westchester County, Home Selling in Westchester County, Property Q&A in Westchester County  |  February 20, 2014 7:51 AM  |  334 views  |  No comments
    I have been receiving a lot of questions about Coop Apartments, what they are and how the operate. A Coop is a corporation made up of all the occupants of the building. When You buy a Coop you are not buying an actual unit, you are buying shares in a corporation. You will receive a stock certificate and a proprietary lease which entitles you to occupy the unit.

    Since the occupants do not own the unit they do not pay property taxes like you would in a condo or house. You pay a monthly maintenance fee which includes your pro-rata share of the buildings property taxes, and care for the grounds, etc. 

    If in NY you will qualify for the basic STAR reduction but will have to inquire with your particular Coop to see how they handle it. There are additional fees that vary from parking, assessments, flip tax, storage, etc. Again each building is different and you will have to inquire about any additional fees. There is a percentage of your maintenance that is tax deductible, usually 45%-55%, but it can vary. There is always a minimum down payment requirement which can range from 10%-50% down, depending on the Coop. Nowadays alot of Coops are requiring 20% down to protect themselves and make sure only the qualified apply. Even the banks are requiring this so times have changed a bit. On occasion you will find a "Sponsor Unit" available. This is a unit that is on the market by the sponsor for the first time. These are highly sought after because they usually don't require a board interview. This is good for the first time only, the next time it goes on the market a board interview will be required. Keep in mind just because at first you don't need an interview the board usually still looks at the package.

    When purchasing a coop part of the process is a board interview. Many people get scared and worry about what it will be like. Once you have an accepted offer on a unit you will receive a board package to fill out. This includes a standard application, request for financial information (bank statements, W-2s from previous and current years, pay stubs, etc.) 

    Here are a few major things the board will look at...1) Amount of down payment, where it came from, and how much you have in reserve after making it. Most Coops want to see about six months of maintenance in reserves after paying closing costs as well. 2) Credit scores, do you have any judgments against you, how much debt you have. They look at your "Front End Ratio" which is how much debt you'll have with just housing payments and "Back End Ratio" housing debt along with any other existing debt you have; credit cards, loans, etc (student loans sometimes get deferred, you'll have to inquire). They will have a debt-to-income ratio requirement which can vary. 3) 
    Current Income is important as well, they want to see that you make enough and aren't spending everything you have to pay your bills. Having a lot of cash in the bank doesn't impress them, that can be spent quickly. You will also get a copy of the by-laws (house rules) and the offering plan. The offering plan tells how many units are in the building, what the existing mortgage is on the building, how much the building has in reserves, etc. You will have a chance to review these with your attorney to make sure you are buying into a financially sound building.

    The application can be a bit intrusive but the Coop does this to make sure that they don't take on any financial liabilities to the building. They will only hurt the corporation. Once the package is complete it can be submitted for the management review and once they approve it, it's then passed on to the board members. Once the board reviews you will be contacted to come in for an informal interview. They might ask questions regarding your motivation for buying in the building, questions about your finances, or just general questions to get to know you further. They will have a pretty good sense of who you are by your package already.

    My advice to you...stay calm, don't over answer their questions, be positive! Make sure your agent fully understands the coop purchasing process so they can look into specific details in advance.  At times you will find out right away if you are approved and others you will be notified the next day, or so by the management company. The approval needs to be in writing and sent to the attorneys on the deal to make it official. 

    Once approved you can finalize everything with the bank and setup a closing. I hope this answers some of your questions and I welcome any further inquiries.

    Christopher Pagli - www.WestchesterCountyRealEstateMarket.com

    Accredited Buyer Representative

    Real Estate Associate Broker

    William Raveis Legends Realty Group

    914.332.6300 office

    914.406.9023 cell


  • Questions Any Home Seller Should Ask Their Agent

    Posted Under: Home Buying in Westchester County, Home Selling in Westchester County, Property Q&A in Westchester County  |  May 21, 2013 6:00 AM  |  1,277 views  |  No comments

    There are so many questions you can ask your agent but below are some very important ones that I voluntarily discuss at all of my listing appointments.

     1) How many years they have been in the business.  This shouldn't be your determining factor, an agent that has been in the business 30 years doesn't make then a better agent. You want an agent that is tech savvy, invests in their education, understands the local laws and buying/selling process thoroughly, and has the proper marketing skills.

     2) How they plan to market your property outside the MLS. Get a clear understanding before you sign and hold them to it. There is so much more to marketing a property then just putting it on the local MLS. I can't tell you how many times I see seasoned agents putting bad angle, dark photos of a listing on the internet. Any picture can be enhanced with online tools. Remember, buyers are making their decision to even view the home by what they see online. Make sure they have descriptions that talk about the homes functionality so a buyer can feel the flow before even seeing it.

     3) Ask them about their track record and success rate. How many homes have the help buy and sell in their career. Read past client testimonials to get a sense of how they work, look for a common thread. Avoid testimonials from their friends, you want real client testimonials.

     4) Find out what taxes and fees you are responsible for, including the commission. 

     5) Be very clear on what you are signing. Make sure the agent goes through the contract slowly and explains each section so you have a clear understanding. Ask them about the process of terminating the contract, any repercussions? If so what are they?

     6) How often they work with buyers.  An agent that works with buyers understands how the buyers think. This can help you with getting the home ready to list. Have a pre-listing inspection done so you know what may come up.

    7) Is this their full time job or are they doing it part-time. Part-time efforts get part time results.

    8) How well they know the local market, trends, etc.  You want to know how long they feel it will take to sell your home and what you should expect from the market.  It is so very important for your agent to set this expectation up front.

     You want an agent that is going to represent your property in the best, possible light and will always have your best interest in mind.  After all, it is a relationship that you will be forming so be comfortable with your choice.


  • 3 Tips To Freshen Up Your Home For Sale This Winter

    Posted Under: Home Buying in Westchester County, Home Selling in Westchester County, Property Q&A in Westchester County  |  November 7, 2012 9:34 AM  |  492 views  |  No comments

    The winter has proven to be a challenging time for selling a home.  If your immediate market is already struggling you have to be more thorough in presenting your home.  Below I've compiled some tips that will help you freshen up your listing.I have tested these tips with my own sellers and they work!

    1) Spring/Summer Photos - If you have a beautiful lawn, gardens, or stone work be sure to take photos so that when winter rolls around buyers can see what the home looks like in the warmer months.  Remember, buyers make decisions based on what they see online and curb appeal is paramount.

    2) Accessorize With Season Appropriate Color - Add splashes of inviting colors that work well with your interior and the current season via throw pillows, rugs, wall hangings, candles, etc..  Color plays a big part in a the overall mood of the home.  You can also make a home cozier with accessories if it enhances  the overall warmth and mood.  Imagine wearing a solid color dress and matching shoes, can be pretty boring right?  Now throw in the right accessories and you have one heck of an outfit!

    3) Lights - If you have small trees or bushes add white holiday lights to them.  Having them lit up takes away the dead tree look of winter.  They aren't holiday specific since they are white and will really make the home look beautiful, especially with snow on the ground.

  • Title Insurance Is Becoming More Important Then Ever

    Posted Under: Home Buying in Westchester County, Home Selling in Westchester County, Property Q&A in Westchester County  |  December 6, 2010 9:04 AM  |  767 views  |  No comments

    Understanding the tenets of title insurance is especially important considering the turmoil in the real estate industry.

    Title insurance is intended to protect the insured from improper titling, including defects in foreclosure proceedings, forgery, or impersonation or cases in which no title is legally conveyed. Other defects are partial, such as a neighboring fence or garage encroaching on the insured person’s property.

    The title insurance industry recently set down strict guidelines for when and if they will insure a title to a property on which there has been a foreclosure.

    The buyer should be equally vigilant, insisting on a 60-year search and paying for an owner’s policy as well as the lender’s policy that the bank will demand.

    Source: Washington Post, Harvey S. Jacobs (11/27/2010)
  • How Do Passive Solar Homes Work?

    Posted Under: Going Green in Westchester County, Design & Decor in Westchester County, Property Q&A in Westchester County  |  November 10, 2010 7:44 AM  |  2,061 views  |  No comments

    By having lots of windows facing south, you are enabling your home to capture optimal solar heat.

    Once the heat is captured, it must be absorbed. Brick walls or slab floors covered in tile (an exposed surface) work their magic by absorbing the natural energy.

    Then "thermal mass" is what stores the energy. These are the materials below the surface.

    Next, the solar heat must be distributed to other areas of the home. Many homeowners choose to use ductwork, vents, and fans.

    And finally, the home must work to minimize heat during the super hot summer months. This can be done through awnings, fans, and shades.

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