Monthly Archives: December 2015

What’s it like to be a Realtor?

Giovanni GonzalezAt first glance, becoming a professional Realtor seems exciting – you get to present stylish and luxurious properties, helping buyers and their families find the ideal home.

Many don’t realize being in real estate can also be very stressful – you’re entrusted with one of the biggest transactions in someone else’s life, so there’s often very little room for error.

In case you’re thinking about a career in real estate or simply curious about how it’s like to work as a Realtor, here’s a look at some facts about the profession you may or may not know about:

  • The degree of difficulty and how long it takes to get a real estate license varies in each state. Every state has different licensing laws and requirements, which can also change over the years. Knowing what each state requires will give aspiring Realtors a good idea of what to expect, and will also save them plenty of time.
  • You may be your own boss, but that doesn’t exactly mean freedom. A Realtor may be in charge of his or her own hours, allowing them to work from home most of the time, but don’t forget: most of their customers have regular nine-to-five jobs. That means Realtors often have no choice but to work in the evening and during the weekends for open house tours.
  • Being a Realtor means playing multiple roles. There are a lot of emotions involved with buying or selling properties, so you’re responsible for counseling your clients and helping navigate them towards the right direction. At times, you’ll need to serve as their educator, counselor, life coach, financial advisor, and maybe even their babysitter.
  • Success depends on a variety of factors. The housing market is affected by many different factors, such as the time of the year, employment outlook, and the stock market. Slow seasons are the worst – competition is difficult, with different agents going after the same clients. On the other hand, a booming market can also be very challenging with too many buyers going after few properties and too many agents chasing after few prospective home sellers. Perhaps success in real estate sales only comes with excellent service, knowledge, consistency and the commitment to always serve the client’s best interest.

Must-visit coffeehouses in Westchester

EspressoA steaming cup of freshly brewed coffee in the morning is enjoyable for many reasons – the invigorating aroma, the strong and rich taste, and simply the warm, cozy feeling it brings as you sip from the cup.

What complements the experience is heading to your neighborhood coffeehouse, where the barista already knows your name, as well as your regular order.

When you’re a resident of Westchester, you’ll have no shortage of exceptional local coffeehouses to visit. Here are a few of them:

The Black Cow Coffee Company

4 Old Post Rd South, Croton-On-Hudson • 914-271-7544
7 Wheeler Ave, Pleasantville • 914-495-3726

The Black Cow Coffee Company, simply called “The Cow” by locals, is a neighborhood café with a very cozy atmosphere. Their coffee is roasted on-site, and customers can enjoy different varieties that come from all over the world, from Brazil to Costa Rica.

One interesting quirk about the café – regulars bring their own mugs, and the staff washes and stores them at the establishment.

Aroma Coffee Roast

1932 Palmer Ave, Larchmont • 914-834-0989

Aroma Coffee Roast has been in the business for over 20 years, and is a favorite among many locals. One of the biggest reasons for their longevity is their coffee’s superior quality. Coffee beans at Aroma are freshly roasted the second after each customer places his or her order. Six different coffee varieties are available daily, and customers get a discount by bringing their own mug.

Coffee Labs Roasters

7 Main St, Tarrytown • 914-332-1479

Friendly baristas, a cozy setting, and the best-tasting coffee blends all combine to make Coffee Labs Roasters one of the top coffeehouses in Westchester. Their baristas are experts when it comes to brewing a fresh cup of joe, and are skilled latte foam artists as well. The coffeehouse uses eight different methods to brew coffee, and seven different varieties are available daily.

To ensure that the coffeehouse always has a fresh selection of high-quality coffee, owner Mike Love scours the globe each year to look for the best blends.


Revisit your favorite fairy tales at Lyndhurst this Christmas


Photo courtesy of Lynhurst website.

Located in Tarrytown, New York, Lyndhurst is a Gothic Revival mansion overlooking the Hudson River. The sprawling estate was designed in 1838 by Alexander Jackson Davis, and is perfectly complemented by beautiful park-like gardens and grounds and an extensive collection of original art.

The mansion once served as the home to several noteworthy personalities who include railroad magnate Jay Gould, merchant George Merritt, and New York City mayor William Paulding.

Today, Lyndhurst is open to the public for guided tours, and is available as a venue for weddings, celebrations, and other private events.

A Christmas fairy tale at Lyndhurst

A trip to Lyndhurst is great during any time of the year, but the gorgeous estate is especially enchanting during the Christmas season, when each of its rooms is given different fairy tale themes.

A few sights you may see at Lyndhurst during Christmas include:

  • A Beauty & the Beast-inspired baronial dining room illuminated by an elegant golden chandelier, along with a feast fit for a king
  • A Rumpelstiltskin-inspired room with a glowing golden mantel display and a straw-covered floor
  • Sleeping Beauty surrounded by white poinsettias as she sleeps peacefully on a canopied bed
  • The apple tree bearing Snow White’s apple, as seen through a magic mirror on the wall

These are but a few of the interesting fairy tale rooms and displays visitors can find throughout Lyndhurst. If you’re searching for the perfect holiday destination for the entire family, you won’t find a more magical place than this fairy tale castle.

Tour schedule

Starting November 27 up to December, guests can enjoy tours every hour from Friday to Saturday, 10am to 4pm, and Sundays from 10am to 2pm (tour schedules are subject to change).

Tickets may be purchased online or at the Carriage House Visitor’s Center and Gift Shop located at the venue.

To find out more about Lyndhurst, visit their official website at


Featured Property: 200 Diplomat Drive #5H, Mount Kisco, NY 10549 for sale at $209,000

It’s not every day that you come across a home that will make you fall in love with it in a snap. Listed at $209,000, this property at the Diplomat Towers in New York has an excellent location, convenient amenities, and delightful features that you won’t be able to resist.

The home

4550058_1This corner unit at 200 Diplomat Drive, Mount Kisco boasts:

  • 1,200 square feet of space
  • 12 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms
  • 1Brazilian cherry hardwood floors
  • 1Gorgeous crown moldings and skim-coated ceilings
  • 1Easy access to Diplomat Towers’ many fine amenities

This apartment is ideal for a small family, or shared with a roommate looking for grand opportunities in the nearby Big Apple.

Diplomat Towers

4550058_0Diplomat Towers is a residential tower located in a wonderful New York neighborhood. Its residents can enjoy access to many useful amenities and areas including:

  • Laundry rooms
  • Storage rooms
  • Bicycle rooms
  • Playground
  • Swimming pools
  • Recreation room
  • Community garden
  • Fitness room
  • Basketball court/gym

Owning a condo unit at Diplomat Towers means living a short distance away from Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Long Island.

Living in Mount Kisco, NY

Mount Kisco is a town and village in Westchester County, an hour’s train ride north of New York City. Here, you’ll find attractions such as:

  • Grand Prix New York– Located at 333 North Bedford Road, this entertainment center is a town favorite for karting fun. It’s also a popular venue for parties, corporate events, and other celebrations.With its friendly staff, Grand Prix New York is a hit with both kids and adults.
  • Little Kabab Station – Craving for some ethnic fare? Locals head straight to Little Kabab Station to satisfy their appetite for delicious Indian cuisine. The restaurant is known for using fresh, high-quality ingredients. With an exciting menu and generous servings, Little Kabab Station can’t be beat when it comes to authentic Indian food.

Top 10 things every Westchester resident must do

Are you a new resident of Westchester? You’ve come to the right place.

Here’s a list of the ten essential things each Westchester resident must do:

1. Check the county’s income, sales, and rent limits.

The US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) sets income limits for individuals or households looking to qualify for housing programs. Westchester County regularly updates a fact sheet containing general information on the source of the income limits, as well as sales prices and rent limits.

View the county’s guide here.

2. Seek down payment and closing cost assistance.

There are several financial programs that can assist individuals planning to purchase a home using down payment grants and matched savings programs.

These programs include the Housing Action Council (HAC) , Westchester Residential Opportunites (WRO), And Community Housing Innovations, Inc.

3. Find a licensed home improvement contractor.

In order to find a licensed home improvement contractor, check out this handy search tool from Westchester County’s official government website.

4. Have your home’s heating oil system inspected.

In recent years, several homes in the county have experienced heating oil spills, which can cause devastating effects to properties and the environment. Residents can get a free inspection from these participating home heating oil dealers.

5. Read up on the county’s current alerts and scams.

Being prepared is always the best way to avoid any potential danger. Spend a few minutes reading about current alerts, known scams, and safety issues here.

6. Review energy prices in New York.

For information about current energy prices in New York, visit this site.

7. Know how to keep your family safe.

Westchester County’s official website contains all the information you need, including important phone numbers, handy tips, and other details that can help keep your family safe. Take a look at the county’s information on safety here.

8. Find a good school.

If you’re looking for a good school for your child, visit this site to get detailed information about the schools in Westchester.

9. Check out some of the events.

There’s always something happening around Westchester. Check out some of the activities and events happening around the county here.

10. Have some fun!

Westchester’s a fantastic place to live in – there’s no shortage of enjoyable things to do and interesting destinations to visit, whether you’re into arts & culture, sightseeing, dining, shopping, outdoor activities – Westchester has it all.

Take a look at some of the great things to do and must-visit destinations of Westchester here.


How homeowners associations impact your long-term expenses

Whenever you purchase a condominium or home in a planned development like a gated community or subdivision, you will be obligated to join that community’s Homeowner’s Association (HOA).

Your association dues go to the maintenance and upkeep of your neighborhood and common building areas. Fees are mandatory and can be made on a monthly, quarterly, or yearly basis.

Fees also pay for the care of amenities like the clubhouse, the recreational facilities, as well as services such as landscaping, general maintenance, and security.

HOA fees are not cheap

Depending on the community and type of amenities provided, HOA fees can cost homeowners anywhere from $200 to well over $1,000 per month.

Not cheap by any means, HOA fees add up quickly and become a burden if you don’t consider their impact on your buying process.

Therefore, make sure HOA fees are on your buyer checklist.

3 questions you need to ask

1. How does the neighborhood HOA govern things?
Do they hire full-time on-site managers, or rely simply on residents to volunteer for the job

2. Does the association have a reserve fund?
A reserve fund is an account dedicated to covering unexpected repairs to the property and range from between 70 to 100% of anticipated major maintenance costs.

Keep in mind that large expenditures are needed to maintain the integrity of the property, and HOA should have the funds necessary to pay for these items by accumulating reserves.

If not, you can expect HOA fees to rise and place an unexpected financial burden on you and fellow homeowners. 

3. What are your HOA’s covenants, conditions, and restrictions (CC&Rs)?

CC&Rs are the rules of your neighborhood. It might be mandatory for you to mow your front lawn or, if you live in a condo, throw your trash out only at certain times of the day.Failure to comply with CC&Rs can result in steep fines. In some cases, HOAs can also put you into foreclosure as a result of non-payment of accrued fines or from repeated violations of these regulations.If the consequences of noncompliance seem harsh, these CC&Rs are meant to protect the value of every homeowner’s property within the community…and create a nice environment for all residents to enjoy.So, check out in advance what you’re in for. If you think the rules are too restrictive, then consider moving elsewhere.

Working with the real estate professionals of the GioHomes team can provide you with all the information you need to decide if the HOA in that home or condo you’re planning to buy fits your temperament and finances.

Our agents will also walk you through the CC&Rs and HOA bylaws to determine if these rules best match your lifestyle and interests. Find out more by getting in touch with us today.


Buyer and Seller Tips: Property Disclosures and Real Estate Legalities

The road to becoming an informed buyer or seller is paved with good intentions. Here are the legal aspects of real estate in New York that you need to know.

As a home buyer

Familiarize yourself with certain disclosures you need to fulfill, as well as things you should be looking for in your real estate agent.

  • The rule of “caveat emptor” – As a buyer, you have your own duty to fulfill; to inspect the property and find defects, if any, before you buy a property. It’s important to note that under New York law, listing brokers are not required to disclose any information about property defects. Of course, certain exceptions apply for special cases, such misinformation and/or omitted information. Under these aspects can a listing broker be liable for damages.
  • Buyer’s broker disclosure requirements – A property’s listing agent might not be required to disclose any information to you, but your broker must provide you a complete disclosure of everything about the property.
  • You cannot sue a broker if he failed to inform you that the property is “stigmatized.” – There are special cases when a property up for sale is labeled as “stigmatized” due to being a scene of a crime or being a former home of an individual with a discriminated and transmittable disease (HIV, AIDS, etc.) You can’t sue the listing agent for failure to disclose such information – he’s not required by New York legislature. You can, however, make a written inquiry addressed to the seller’s agent or the seller himself for this information.


As a home seller

Here are some of the obligations you need to fulfill, as well as disclosures you should require from your listing agent.

  • Information disclosures – Your listing agent might not be mandated by New York law to disclose information about your property to interested buyers, but it’s still best to inform your agent about property information and defects to avoid misinformation in the selling process. While you’re not really liable to answer for misinformation or omitted information, it’s best to keep everything clean and open.
  • Disclosure requirements under the Property Disclosure Act (PCDA) – Disclosure requirements under PCDA are required under state laws (you can read all about them here
  • If your buyer isn’t represented by a buyer’s agent, your listing broker must notify him/her about the PCDA.


For additional reading, here are some links to help you get more acquainted with property laws and requirements:




If you have any concerns, don’t hesitate to give me a call at (914)-946-1067. You can also email me at


Price your Home Right without Giving it Away

Setting the right price for your home can be a hit-or-miss experience – either you set it too high, or you set it too low. There are several factors that can affect the selling price of your home. Here are things you should consider to avoid the hazards of overpricing and under-pricing.

Price your homeMarket trends are like the weather. They constantly change based on several things like the economic climate or the demand for homes in the area. Avoid basing your property’s asking price based on what you paid for it sometime ago.

Review the pricing trends in your area. Zoning in on a specific area will help you determine the prices of the home in your neighborhood more accurately, which can then affect the price of your home. Be on the lookout for homes recently sold in your area that roughly share the same features and amenities as your property. You can also ask your real estate agent to review records of selling prices from three months, six months, and even a year ago to gain a clear picture.

Understand your market. Is your property located in a desirable neighborhood? Does your area have many homes available for sale? Is it mostly made up for new constructions or older homes? Consider these factors to be able to set a competitive and reasonable price for your home. Your real estate agent should be able to provide a comprehensive market analysis for you to examine to be able to price your home properly and competitively.

Get an opinion from a professional appraiser. To get an accurate range of the value of your home, the best course to take is to hire a professional appraiser. Well-versed in his craft, he’ll inspect everything about your home to get a clear picture of its current value.

The first price is the best price. It’s a no-no to set your property’s asking price high on its first few days in the market, and then lower it on the following days. According to, the more days your property spends on the market, the lower your profits will be.


3 Biggest Seller Mistakes

There’s a lot of work involved in selling your home, and mistakes can be numerous.

Here are 3 of the biggest you should avoid:

  1. Overpricing

    Why do sellers overprice their homes?Sellers Mistakes - GioHomesPerhaps they’re aiming to squeeze a little more profit from their property. Perhaps they’re making room for negotiation. Perhaps their sentimental attachment is clouding their better judgment.Remember that your home is only worth what the market is willing to pay you for it, and overpricing will have serious consequences on the value of your property.

    For one thing, when you give your home a price that’s far above its market value, you will automatically lose a score of potential buyers who will find your price range far beyond their reach. Even those who are interested will not give your property a second look.

    Overpricing will also mean your home will remain unsold for a very long time – prompting wary buyers to question a piece of property that has been sitting on the market far longer than it should. Because, yes, what’s wrong with it?

    This, in turn, will make it even more difficult to sell the home, perpetuating the perception that there’s something wrong with the property.

    Keep in mind that in order to avoid frustration and many potential headaches, set the right price for your home at the start.

  2. Neglect

    When selling a home, it’s best to remember that first impressions count a lot to potential buyers.To make sure you see the house as they do, walk through your home as if you yourself were interested in buying it.Would you bet your hard-earned money on a place that looked rundown or neglected? Take note of features that need to be repaired or upgraded.

    Focus on low-cost but high-impact improvements like refinishing cabinets, installing granite countertops, painting surfaces, replacing fixtures, and enhancing curb appeal. These features are the top things buyers look for when they check out a home.

  3. Little or no marketing

    How your home is marketed to buyers plays a large role in its eventual purchase.Being complacent and thinking that buyers will simply find your home is a big mistake.What you need is effective and dynamic marketing.

    Working with a real estate agent with a good marketing plan is important. Your agent can expose your home to buyers through a variety of channels, from traditional advertising outlets to social media platforms.

    Having a real estate professional assist you in selling your home will prevent you from making these seller mistakes, while helping you get top dollar for your property in the quickest possible time.

Connect with the team at GioHomes Real Estate today to know more on how we can help you successfully sell your home.


Things to Do in Westchester County

Westchester County is filled to the brim with activities that will entertain a variety of individuals, regardless their interests and hobbies.

Explore the great outdoors

SnowshoeingAll throughout Westchester County are well-maintained forests and state parks that provide a break from the usual, monotonous routine. Rockefeller State Park Preserve in Pleasantville is one such place; here, visitors can go for a stroll or indulge in other pastimes such as horseback riding, cross-country skiing, and snowshoeing. The state park, a designated “Important Bird Area” by the National Audubon Society, is also a great place to spot some avian beauties. For anglers, the 22-acre Swan Lake is well-stocked, and so is the Pocantico River.

Other recommended places: Untermyer Gardens in Yonkers, New Croton Dam, Teatown Lake Reservation in Ossining, and Manor Park in Larchmont.

Delve into Westchester County’s rich history

Historic places and guided tours are commonplace in Westchester County – the area is, after all, undoubtedly rich in history. Lyndhurst in Tarrytown is a popular attraction. Also known as the Jay Gould Estate, the country home is a perfect example of Gothic Revival architecture.

For a unique take on history, a visit to the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery is a must. Aside from the grave of Washington Irving, the cemetery is also the resting place of prominent families such as the Rockefellers and the Astors.

Other recommendations: Kykuit in Sleepy Hollow, Washington Irving’s Sunnyside in Tarrytown, Hudson River Museum in Yonkers, and Thomas Paine Cottage Museum in New Rochelle.

Attend seasonal fairs and festivals

Fill your social calendar with Westchester County’s lineup of special events! Enjoy music and arts at the Caramoor Summer Music Festival held at the sprawling 90-acre grounds of the Caramoor Center for Music and the Arts in Katonah.

Crafts at Lyndhurst, on the other hand, is perfect for arts-and-crafts enthusiasts. Held at the Lyndhurst estate, the crafts fair is touted as one of the country’s most popular contemporary crafts events. Aside from the works of over 300 artists, Crafts at Lyndhurst also showcases gourmet specialty food and live music.

Other recommendations: Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze in Croton-on-Hudson, Yonkers Riverfest, and the Clearwater Festival in Croton-on-Hudson.