Top tips for increasing your home’s value from your local Real Estate experts

Thinking of doing a home renovation? Or perhaps putting your house on the market?

Then you should know what sells your house best!

The housing market is not slowing down and all signs point to a seller’s market. Your home won’t sell itself, so pay close attention to our expert tips on how to prepare your house for the market and how to increase the value of your home.

Learn to improve the value of your home based on your budget with our top cost-efficient tips. We put these tips together in order to help you improve the look and feel of your home.

Curb Appeal Increases your home's value
Curb Appeal Increases your home’s value


First impressions are everything. The way your house looks from the street – attractively landscaped and well maintained – can add thousands to its value. For a few hundred dollars, hire a lawn service company to trim your lawn and shape your hedges.

well landscaped outdoor area increases your living square footage
Well landscaped outdoor area increases your living square footage


Creating a comfortable and beautiful place to sit down and relax will increase a home’s livable square footage and look more appealing to prospective buyers when you decide to sell.

Outdoor living spaces allow you to get more use out of your property. Full outdoor living rooms, well-placed seating areas, outdoor dining areas and outdoor kitchens are all remodeling projects that can increase your home’s value.

Bathroom updates are always a good idea
Bathroom updates are always a good idea


Beautify your bathroom; updates in this room are always a good idea. People like to feel relaxed, like they are in a spa. Focus on your faucets, countertops, vanity, lighting fixtures and the tile floor. Upgrade your bath area. And remember to keep it clean!

Visual space affects the value
Visual space affects the value


Make the interior of your home shine from the moment someone walks through the door. Cleanliness counts.

One of the simplest, most cost-effective improvements of all is paint. Freshly painted rooms look clean and updated – that spells value.

Clear the clutter and remove everything that could turn the buyers away. If the potential buyer will see a mess in any of the areas in your home, they will conclude that you don’t take care of your property.

Visual space is important. If your house looks pristine and clutter free it will make a great first impression. The key is to make each room in your house feel larger.

For maximizing your home’s value, kitchen updates are key
For maximizing your home’s value, kitchen updates are key


The room that has the biggest impact on a homebuyer is undoubtedly your kitchen. For maximizing your home’s value, kitchen updates are key. Consider painting or refinishing your kitchen cabinets, installing a new tile backsplash, switching out your old appliances to new ones, adding an island, replacing the flooring and changing your lighting. A new and updated kitchen will surely grab the buyer’s attention.

Repair it and forget it
Repair it and forget it


Deteriorating roofs, termite infestation or outdated plumbing or electrical systems – you can’t fix it if you don’t know it’s broken. Hire an inspector to check out the areas of your home that you don’t normally see. They may discover hidden problems that could negatively impact your home’s value. Buyers want assurance that basic systems in your home are in working order and won’t need to be replaced or repaired in the near future, issues that will most likely be addressed in the home inspection.

Repair it and forget it!


Invite a realtor to tour your house. Spend an hour with a pro by requesting a consultation with your local real estate professional. After the tour they can give you lots of ideas for needed improvements. Even small suggested improvements, such as paint colors or furniture placement, can go a long way toward improving the look of your home. A good professional should also have a great network of local experts they can recommend for certain home improvement projects.



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3 Tips to help Increase the Sale of Your House in the Winter

The popular statement that ‘selling a home during the winter season is more difficult’ is not always the case. It is true that during the winter time there are fewer buyers and sellers on the marketplace. However, make no mistake, those that are looking at homes in this cold and snowy weather are the most serious, motivated and ready to buy.  Quite often those buyers face a life changing situation, such as a job relocation or a growing family, and have to move because they need to, not because they want to. Also, note to the winter sellers: buyers that need to move in quickly will often pay top dollar for the property. Please watch my ‘top 3 tips for selling your home in winter’ below and create a more attractive home for the potential buyers.

Oscar Nominated Real Estate on Staten Island

In honor of the Academy Awards, I decided to take a look at some of the luxurious and opulent homes on Staten Island, worthy of an Oscar nomination and a celebrity homeowner. Let’s look at the lineup together by checking out the photos of the high end properties that grace the list, where the houses are just as fascinating as the movie starts. Any one of these homes deserve a spotlight and a chance to show off their best assets. Grab a front row seat and join me as I feature some of my favorite homes that have captured my heart.

111 Benedict Rd Staten Island NY - luxury real estate

One of the break out stars is this beautiful and posh Todt Hill home, perfectly set on 13,150 sq ft manicured property. The 6 bedroom, 7 bath custom built home was completed in 2001, using superior quality construction materials and luxury finishes to create meticulously crafted amenities. The interior features radiant heat floors, roof top deck to take advantage of the gorgeous ocean views, outside kitchen and an inground pool for hosting the best summer parties in town, master bedroom suite with a fireplace, timeless gourmet kitchen, a pond in the front yard, security and intercom systems and much more. Check out the rest of this beauty’s decor here, Staten Island luxury homes.

79 Flagg Ct Staten Island NY - luxury real estate

If you’ve ever dreamed of living in a fairytale, then you will surely feel like royalty inside this castle. This home’s design is a reflection of its old world architecture and modern amenities. Immaculately kept circa 1890 Landmarked Stone Colonial Estate sits majestically in a quiet Hamlet in Todt Hill offering exceptional entertainment qualities. The breathtaking grand entry hall dressed with a glamorous chandelier and complete with a catwalk, makes a bold statement as you walk in and is perfect for hosting a Hollywood after-party where guests can dance the night away. A one time visit and you’ll never forget this magical place.

Staten Island Todt Hill Luxury Homes

Another one making a name for itself is this magnificent Todt Hill mansion. The 11,000 square foot stunning homes is superbly built featuring five true bedroom suites and 8 baths all exquisitely designed. Grand circular foyer opens to each individual room creating a perfect flow for the grandest of entertainment. The lowest level boasts an indoor basketball court, a theater room as well as a billiard room. Easy elevator access to each additional floor, up to and including the finished attic. The custom kitchen with center island is fit for a gourmet chef.  This exquisite private estate offers a perfect setting for a star studded affair.

35 Peter Ct Staten Island NY - luxury real estate

Which one is the ‘It’ house of the moment? This regal mansion definitely possesses all the star qualities of the ‘It’ home, a true A-lister. This spectacular one of a kind custom home boasts luxury living at its highest level. The residence has been built to call attention to the most lavish details that elevate the atmosphere and experience of living here. Glamorous and impressive, this one steals the show. Tour the rest of this luxury Staten Island home.

Which one, in your opinion, will take the highest honors?

The most expensive homes sold on Staten Island in 2012

This is one of the most enticing posts I write each year, giving you a run down on Staten Island’s Most Expensive Homes Sold in the previous year. Even if you are not in the market to buy a home, you will probably find this interesting. Money can’t buy you love, but from what we’ve seen, it can give you lavish homes and fairytale-like lifestyles.

The high-end of the luxury real estate market had a good 2012. Here’s the list of the biggest residential real estate transactions reported in the past 12 months:

#1 Most Expensive Home Sold in 2012 – Nicolosi Dr, S. E. Annadale

Sold Price: $4,300,000

The most expensive homes sold on Staten Island in 2012

This 5-time Chamber Award winner 11 room mansion sold in July, 2012 for a whopping $4,300,000. A lavish 12,000 square foot home on a water front property with over 1 acre of beach and panoramic views of the ocean features an open layout for grand entertaining. On the main floor you’ll find a two story entry, formal dining and living rooms, custom eat-in kitchen with double islands, a den and access to a beautiful yard with an in-ground pool, cabana and an outdoor kitchen. Upstairs is an ultra indulgent master suite with a sitting room and onyx fireplace, additional bedrooms, large recreational/observatory room. The grounds are manicured with expansive lawns, gardens and a private beach. Amenities include radiant heat floors, multiple fireplaces, maid quarters, marble floors, floating staircase, full finished basement, an elevator, 3 car garage and a huge patio for outdoor parties. Prime living in every way.

#2 Most Expensive Home Sold in 2012 – Helena Rd, Todt Hill

Sold Price: $3,400,000

The most expensive homes sold on Staten Island in 2012

Exquisite gated estate featuring 11,000 + square foot 20 room all brick mansion on just under 2 acres of land overlooking the golf course. In September this one-of–a-kind home was purchased by one lucky buyer for $3,400,000. Let’s take a look inside, shall we? On the first level of this spectacular home you will find a full walk out basement with recreational room, wine cellar, DJ booth, ice cream parlor, game room, basketball court, one bath and a 4 car garage. The main level features a dual staircase, formal dining room, a butler’s pantry, powder room, living room, a private gym, maids quarters, great room with a fireplace and custom built-ins, gourmet Smallbone kitchen with breakfast room, family room, billiard room and an elevator. Second and third level feature all bedroom suites with walk- in closets and private baths including a glamorous princess suite complete with an adjacent sitting room, custom closets and a beautiful bath. The enormous master suite features a sitting room, fireplace, an elaborate private bath with custom built-ins and dual walk-in closets.  The grounds feature an oversized landscaped yard, gunite pool, cabana and most importantly exceptional privacy.

#3 Most Expensive Home Sold in 2012 – Circle Rd, Todt Hill

Sold Price: $3,100,000

The most expensive homes sold on Staten Island in 2012

This beautiful new construction with high- end amenities was completed and sold in 2012 for $3,100,000. This special property is located in the exclusive Todt Hill neighborhood and features unsurpassed architectural detailing, enormous entertaining layout, 8 finely appointed rooms, two story entry, formal dining room, great room with fireplace, gorgeous custom kitchen, full finished basement, long sweeping tiled heated driveway, built in 2 car garage, private terrace overlooking a huge yard and much more.

There you have it, Staten Island’s top three most expensive homes sold in 2012. Which one is your favorite?

All information and photos are courtesy of the Staten Island Board of REALTORS®, our multiple listings service.



Changes in Income Tax, Capital Gains Tax, Tax on Investment Property, and Other Tax Changes in 2013

Guest post by Bella Fridman

Associate Attorney at Reznick Law PLLC

Corporate and Real Estate Law

Photo By 401(K) 2013
Photo By 401(K) 2013

“The only two certainties in life are death and taxes”. The famous phrase has been floating around for centuries, and although there may be more certainties in our lives these days, one certainty remains: every year on April 15 (or thereabouts) our income tax returns are due.  Now, if you are anything like me, just the thought of taxes makes you cringe. The rules and regulations governing our tax liabilities, for all their complexity, may as well have been written in a foreign language. And the New Year 2013, has brought on additional new changes, that do not help ease the confusion. I will attempt, though I do not promise to be successful, to summarize and simplify some of the changes as they may affect you:


–          The primary residence exclusion of $250,000 (for single filers) and $500,000 (for married joint-filing filers) remains untouched – this means that if you are selling your home (a residence in which you’ve resided for two out of the last 5 years), up to $250,000 of capital gains (for single filers) and $500,000 (for married filers) will be deducted from your gain on the sale of the house.

  • Example: You are a single woman who bought your home in 2009 for $200,000 (I know, I know – there are no homes for $200,000 to be bought, but let’s pretend we live in La La Land). You just sold your home for $350,000. What’s your liability?
    • Your basis is $200,000
    • Your capital gain is $150,000

Since it is less than the $250,000, you don’t have to pay any capital gains tax on the sale.

–          For most lower to middle class individuals, the income tax and capital gains tax rate have not increased.

–          If you are in an unfortunate situation, where your home has either been foreclosed on or was sold through short-sale, there is at least one thing that should make you feel a bit better. Prior to 2007, the amount of loan forgiveness received by a taxpayer (i.e. the principal amount of mortgage that was forgiven, because of the foreclosure/short-sale) was considered income, and was taxable. Since 2007, under a temporary rule, up to $2,000,000 of loan forgiveness is not taxed. This rule has been extended through 2013.

–          The following credits that you are allowed to take have been extended and/or made permanent:

  • Child Tax Credit – $1,000/per child
  • Higher Education Credit – a credit of up to $2500 per year for up to 4 years of college education (certain rules and limitations apply)
  • Higher Education Deduction – deduct up to $4000 per year for tuition costs i
  • Energy Efficient Home Improvement –  a tax credit of up to $500 for certain energy-saving improvements to your home
  • K-12 Educators’ Expense – if you are a teacher, you can deduct up to $250 for school-related expenses that were paid out of your own pocket.

–          The Alternative Minimum Tax – most of us won’t have to file for it, so we don’t have to worry about figuring out this complex structure – suffice it to say, that the Congress finally adjusted the AMT exemption for inflation, and has made it permanent, so much fewer households will be affected by it in the current and future years.


–          If you are not self-employed or a consultant and have already received your paycheck this year, this will not be news to you. Many of us saw reductions in our compensation and wondered why. The social security tax, which was reduced to 4.2% from 2010 – 2012, has now returned back to the original rate of 6.2%.

  • If you are self-employed or a consultant, you will also be hit – the social security component of the self-employment has returned to regular 12.4% from 10.4% in the previous two years, so your tax liability has increased, as well.

Let’s hope this is our prepayment, for prosperous retirement.

–          For those of you with adjustable gross income (AGI) over $450,000 (married couples) or $425,000 (for heads of household) or $400,000 (for single filers), the income tax rate has increased to 39.6% from 35%. Additionally, the capital gains tax for those in this high-tax bracket has increased to 20%.

–          If that’s not enough, you may also be subject to a NEW additional 3.8% Medicare tax surcharge, if your AGI exceeds $200,000 (for single filers) and $250,000 (for married joint-filing filers). This tax (oh so confusing) applies to investment income, and will be added to the amount that is the lesser of (i) your total investment income for the year; or (ii) the excess of the gross income over the above threshold.

  • Example: You are a single woman, who bought your home in 2009 for $1,000,000. Your AGI this year is $225,000. You just sold your home for $1,275,000.
    • Your capital gain is $275,000.
    • Your personal residence exemption is $250,000
    • Your taxable gain is $25,000 ($275,000 – $250,000)
    • Your new gross income (taking into account the taxable gain) is $250,000
    • The excess over AGI threshold of $200,000 is $50,000
    • You will pay tax on the lower amount, that is the taxable gain of $25,000 ($25,000 x 3.8%) = $950.

–          As in previous years, you are allowed to deduct the personal exemption for yourself, your spouse, and your children. The personal exemption was worth about $3,800 in 2012. With the new Personal Exemption Phase-out (PEP), however, the value of each personal exemption is reduced from its full value by 2% for each $2,500 above $250,000 (single filers), $300,000 (married joint-filing couples), $275,000 (heads of households), and $150,000 (married filing separately).

  • Example: You are a single woman with income of $300,000. Your personal exemption would be reduced by the following amount: (0.02 x 2500) x ($50,000/$2500) = $1000.

–          If you itemize your deductions, your tax liability may also be affected. Those with income over $250,000 (single filers), $300,000 (married joint-filing couples), $275,000 (heads of households), and $150,000 (married filing separately) will see the total amount of their itemized deductions decreased by 3% of the amount by which their income exceeds the above threshold, provided however, that the reduction will not exceed 80% of the itemized deductions. As a result, you can potentially lose up to 80% of your write-offs for mortgage interest, state and local income and property taxes, and charitable contributions if your gross income exceeds the applicable threshold.

  • Example: You are a single woman with income of $300,000. You file your tax return with $25,000 in itemized deductions. Your income is $50,000 above the above threshold, which would mean that your allowed itemized deductions will be reduced by (50,000 x 3%) = $1500.

I hope I was able to, at least, highlight some of the issues you should be on the look-out for in the upcoming tax season. Please note this list is by no means comprehensive and should not be relied on in making your tax decisions. You should always consult with your accountant if you have any questions in connection with your tax liability (and hopefully tax refunds, at least for some of us).


For more information please contact Bella Fridman directly by email at