By Chanita Teitz

On Sunday morning, January 6, I attended a seminar for first-time buyers presented by Jordan Kadry, senior loan originator at FM Home Loans, and Ron Hirschhorn, producer at Sky Coverage Inc. insurance. They explained important information in a fact-filled morning. As a real estate broker, I explain these facts to new buyers all the time.

The most important thing to do before you start your house search is get your financial picture. What is your income, what are your other assets, what is your debt, and how is your credit score? Jordan stressed that you should meet with a mortgage broker or banker at least 4–6 months before you start house hunting so you have time to get your finances in order. There are things you can do to boost your credit score and you will need to produce two years’ tax returns and show proof of timely rent payments.

Jordan also explained the difference between prequalified and preapproved for a mortgage. Being prequalified is meaningless because it is only based on information you give your broker, while being preapproved is based on the banker actually looking at all your documents.

The higher your credit score, the better qualified you are to get a mortgage at a good interest rate. Pay down some of your credit card balances and keep your credit card debt under 50 percent of your credit limit. Do not max out your cards, do not close a card, and do not open any new cards. Also, don’t make any large purchases charged to your credit card. Now is not the time to buy a car or go on a fancy vacation.

He also mentioned title insurance, which guarantees your ownership of the home and insures you against any liens or other encumbrances to the sale.

Make sure that you have enough income to cover your closing costs, your monthly mortgage payments, plus your usual expenses and have a certain amount in reserve. You must know that if something breaks, you will be able to fix it and the bank wants to know that repairing something won’t interfere with your ability to make your monthly mortgage payment.

Ron Hirschhorn explained why homeowner’s insurance is so important. It covers you when certain things break and for major catastrophes. You need to discuss with your insurance broker the best policy with the best coverages at the best price.

The most common claim that homeowners make on their insurance policy is for water damage. Floods, leaks, or burst pipes can happen and you must be covered. You need liability coverage too so if someone falls on your property you are covered. He also explained why an umbrella policy in addition to the regular homeowner’s policy protects you from third-party lawsuits.

Finally, Amira Rubin, “matchmaker for your home” spoke. She is an agent at Astor Brokerage and explained how she helps buyers make good, informed decisions when buying a house. She also gave out a flyer that explains the importance of budgeting for the appraisal, the inspection, your lawyer’s fee, additional closing costs, and moving costs.

Finally, as a realtor, I will tell you that the winter is a good time to buy a house. Anyone who is selling a house during the winter is a very motivated seller and that goes for buyers as well. Both sides need to move and will probably be more flexible in their negotiations. An amicable transaction is a win-win for both sides and it can be done. We are all here to make your dream of home ownership come true.

Upcoming Events

  • Shalom bayit panel. January 12, 8 p.m. at Beth Gavriel, 66-35 108th St., Forest Hills. Presented by Chazaq and Emet Outreach. Free admission for men and women. For more information, call 718-285-9132.
  • Rabbi Professor Avraham Steinberg speaking on Modern Genetics and Halachah Sunday, January 13, 9:30 a.m. at the Young Israel of Holliswood, 86-25 Francis Lewis Blvd. Presented by the Young Israel of Holliswood and Young Israel of Jamaica Estates.
  • Rabbi Paysach Krohn speaking on Tuesday, January 15, 8:30 p.m. at the home of Golda Fried, 72-23 139th St. Presented by Our Jewish Children. All donations go to help pay tuition for public school children who want to go to yeshiva. For more information, call 718-258-2448 or visit
  • Shiur hachodesh for women by women, Wednesday, January 16, 7:30 p.m. at Congregation Etz Chaim, 147-19 73rd Avenue, Kew Gardens Hills. Presenting Dean Rachel Friedman speaking on Endangering our Ohel: The Challenge of Foreign Cultures. Suggested donation is $6. For more information, call 718-261-0766 or email
  • Save the date: YCQ Annual Dinner on Motzaei Shabbat, March 2 at Old Westbury Hebrew Congregation. For more information, call 718-793-8500, ext. 300 or email Visit the dinner website at

Chanita Teitz is a real-estate broker at Astor Brokerage in Kew Gardens Hills, serving the entire Queens vicinity. For all your real-estate needs, call her at 718-263-4500 or email


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