Merlino & Gonzalez - April 2021

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& Gonzalez. They’re professional, they’re organized, and they always put the client first. And they communicate with us well, which, as we already mentioned, is vital to any good relationship! Over the years, we’ve noticed that in the two boroughs we serve — Brooklyn and Staten Island — certain patterns have emerged. But with the new trend of people working from home, we’re seeing increased desire for space. For Brooklyn, that means sometimes upgrading to a larger home, often in Staten Island. In turn, people in Staten Island are selling their houses and using the money somewhere it will go a little further, like New Jersey, Pennsylvania, or Florida. We’ve seen a lot of trends in our time in real estate, and we’re interested to see where this one is heading! But no matter where you’re from, if you are doing business with us, we’re going to communicate with you, treat you right, and be considerate of the monumental decisions you face ahead. Real estate transactions aren’t something that most people do every day. In fact, it is often the biggest financial and emotional transaction a person makes in their lifetime. If we can make the whole process smoother, we’re here to help. – Claudia Oliva and Lori Fiorito

romantic partner, a good friend, or a coworker on your team — you have to be able to give and receive communication effectively. There are a lot of other things that factor into our success together — Claudia is a night owl, for example, and Lori’s a morning person, maximizing the hours that we’re available — but none of that stuff would matter if we couldn’t communicate with each other. After that, you really have to decide what matters to you. There’s so much you can focus on! For us, we broke it down to “Do right by people, and they’ll do right by you.” Not only is it the right thing to do in general, but it’s also the right thing to do from a business perspective. We don’t advertise or go out looking for new business, and we haven’t since the very beginning of our partnership. Why? It’s simple: If we treat our clients right, they’ll come back to us and they’ll send their friends to us. We haven’t had to go looking for prospects in a long time, and that’s because of the way we treat our clients. It’s similar to the way Ken and his firm treat their clients, which is one of the reasons why we do not hesitate to recommend him for our clients’ real estate legal needs. If you find the right attorneys, you won’t be able to imagine doing these transactions with anyone else, and that’s how it feels working with Merlino

This month, I wanted to introduce you to Claudia Oliva and Lori Fiorito, both of DiTommaso Real Estate. These two ladies have been realty partners for decades, but friends for even longer, and they’ve disproven the belief that partners in realty don’t usually work out. I have had the pleasure of working with Lori and Claudia and their clients on many occasions over the years, and they’re two special women who I think you’ll like as much as I do. If you or someone you know needs a top notch realty team, you can’t go wrong with this duo. When Ken asked us to write the letter in this edition of their newsletter, we were surprised. After all, who would want to hear from us? But the more we thought about it, the more we got excited. Although we don’t think a lot of ourselves, it’s true that over the years, people have paid attention to our unusually strong partnership in an industry where “teams” tend to fall apart. We’ve been working together from the start, 25 years ago, but have known each other for 36 years. At one point, our broker even gave us an award for being the dynamic duo that gets things done!

The key to any relationship is communication. We don’t care if you’re talking about a



1. The Undrinkable Juice You know what looks a lot like grape juice? Grape jello! To baffle your toddler (or even your 10-year-old), make a batch of jello and let it set in a juice glass. When they try to drink it later, enjoy the hilarity that ensues. 2. Rocks — It’s What’s for Dinner! If you want to confuse and horrify your kids, scatter chocolate rock candy (treats that look like real rocks) in the backyard before dinner. Then, when it’s time to eat, head outside and chow down on a handful of “rocks.” Your kids’ faces will be priceless! (Visit to score this candy for $8.99 per pound.) 3. Stinky Caramel ‘Apples’ Everyone loves caramel apples, but caramel-covered onions … not so much. This April Fools’ Day, swap the tasty fruit for its smelly vegetable counterpart and watch as everyone in the house falls for your trick!

Every year, a prankster makes headlines on April Fools’ Day for taking their joke too far. In 2001, a DJ in England famously broadcast that he’d spotted a replica of the Titanic floating off the coast. Hundreds of people scrambled to the spot, and their combined weight actually caused a cliff to collapse into the ocean! Luckily no one was hurt, but a Montana man who played a different joke years later wasn’t so lucky. He donned a Sasquatch outfit and leapt from the forest to scare travelers. Unfortunately, he traumatized two teens so much that they lost control of their car and ran him over. If you’re a prankster, you can probably understand what drove the radio DJ and Sasquatch to their doom. It’s easy to go down the April Fools’ rabbit hole and plan a prank that’s too elaborate for adults, let alone your kids. But don’t worry — the internet is full of funny ways to introduce your little ones to the holiday safely. Instead of concocting

3 Safe April Fools’ Pranks Your Kids Will Love DITCH THE DANGER AND PLAN FAMILY-FRIENDLY FUN

a potentially harmful prank, try one of these harmless jokes instead, courtesy of Parenting magazine. These are just a few pranks you can have up your sleeve for April Fools’ — or any day of the week. For even more hilarious ideas, check out the book “Pranklopedia: The Funniest, Grossest, Craziest, Not-Mean Pranks on the Planet!” from your local library. Up in Flames THE FYRE FESTIVAL’S LEGAL FALLOUT FOR INFLUENCERS

laborers working,” says Smith. “Fyre had such a high profile that I don’t think anyone could have assumed that it wouldn’t work out.”

Influencer marketing has long been a legal gray area, but recently settled celebrity lawsuits related to the Fyre Festival — a failed luxury musical festival — have definitely added some color to the debate. The idea for the Fyre Festival came from rapper Ja Rule and his business partner Billy McFarland, a 25-year-old CEO of a luxury concierge service. The duo created the event together and touted it as the world’s most expensive music festival. They’d also launched an attractive marketing campaign which included celebrity promotions by Kendall Jenner, Bella Hadid, and other influencers. All the while, the organizers knew the Fyre Festival was doomed from the start. In lieu of a multiday, luxury experience, thousands of people were scammed and left stranded in the Bahamas instead. “[The organizers] had six to eight weeks to pull off something that should have taken close to a year,” says Chris Smith, who directed a Netflix documentary on the festival. “But what was most surprising to me was going to the Bahamas and seeing the aftermath of what was left behind and the effect on the people there.”

As the Fyre Festival fell apart, Gregory Messer — the trustee in charge of overseeing the bankruptcy for Fyre Media — looked into the finances. He began to suspect that there had been “fraudulent transfers” between the founders and many of the event’s promoters, and he began to sue the celebrities and influencers that drove the hype behind the festival. For example, McFarland and Ja Rule reportedly paid Kendall Jenner over $275,000 to publish an Instagram post promoting the festival. Although Jenner denied liability, she did not disclose on the post that it was paid and sponsored. Messer’s attorney further argued that Jenner had not told her Instagram followers that she’d pulled out of the festival after learning of its disastrous problems. Although more legal parameters will likely spring up in the future to further define the limits of influencer marketing, this will certainly make any celebrity think twice about accepting money to promote events and brands. And that’s definitely for the best!

The local economy was devastated. “They had engaged with so much of the local community to try and pull this off. There were hundreds of day


From Pricing to Photos, We Break Down a Frustrating Dilemma Is the paint on your FOR SALE sign beginning to flake, while others move their property in a week? If you haven’t had a serious offer in 3–4 weeks, it’s wise to assume there’s something you’ve overlooked ... You’re Asking Too Much Why Isn’t My Home Selling?

Your House Isn’t Presenting Well For your home to sell, it must be eye-catching outside and attractive inside. Make sure the outside of your home looks well maintained. Inside, remember that less furniture makes your home look larger. And get photos taken by an expert photographer who understands real estate to show the house off. Multiple studies have shown that first-rate photos accelerate home sales. You’ve Got the Wrong Pros It’s easy to get taken in by a lackluster realtor. Start by consulting with a firm like ours — we can refer you to many highly professional and effective realtors. Don’t let your house sit for one more day without selling. Call Merlino & Gonzalez at 718- 698-2200 to learn why your house hasn’t sold and what you can do to fix it.

Because your home is meaningful to you — and usually your most valuable asset — it’s easy to think the value is higher than it actually is. Remember, at least 40% of sellers have to lower their price at least once. That’s usually better than to let it sit unsold, which often drives the final price down. Pricing low and letting buyers outbid one another is more effective than pricing too high. Your House Is … Unusual While certain features may add appeal, most buyers are looking for conventionally laid-out homes. That bathroom off the kitchen, tiny attic bedroom, or small pond in the yard may be unappealing to others. But don’t be discouraged — there are options. You might be able to alter an unusual feature to make your home more conventional. On the flip side, it may be a good idea to highlight the atypical aspect of your home to attract some yet discourage others who might be uninterested.


Inspired by


• 1/2 cup fresh chives, chopped and divided • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped and divided • 2 tsp minced garlic • 1/4 tsp salt • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided 3. Cover the dish tightly with foil and bake for 35 minutes. 4. Uncover and stir. At this point, check the pasta to make sure it is al dente. If it’s undercooked,

• 1 cup cooked chicken, diced • 1 14-oz can artichokes, drained and quartered • 1 cup fresh asparagus pieces • 1/2 cup carrots, grated • 1 1/2 cups uncooked penne pasta • 1 3/4 cups chicken broth


1. Preheat oven to 425 F and

grease an 8-inch square baking dish with cooking spray.

Take a Break

2. In the prepared dish, stir together cooked chicken,

cover the dish and return to the oven until pasta is tender.

artichokes, asparagus, carrots, uncooked pasta, chicken broth, half the chives, half the parsley, garlic, salt, and 2 tbsp Parmesan.

5. Remove from oven and garnish with remaining

Parmesan, chives, and parsley.



394 Manor Road Staten Island, NY 10314



718-698-2200 |


The Dynamic Duo of Real Estate Page 1

3 Safe April Fools’ Pranks Your Kids Will Love The Fyre Festival’s Legal Fallout for Influencers Page 2 Why Isn’t My Home Selling? Spring Vegetable and Chicken Pasta Bake Page 3 4 MLB Teams Poised for a Great Season Page 4

Don’t Count Them Out 4 Teams to Watch This Baseball Season

This is no joke: The 2021 Major League Baseball (MLB) season will begin on April 1. While you may wonder whether the Los Angeles Dodgers can repeat as champs or if the Tampa Bay Rays can exact their revenge, don’t count these four teams out just yet.

St. Louis Cardinals The award for best offseason ought to go to the Cardinals, who, all winter long, appear to have outwitted their Milwaukee and Chicago rivals — the Brewers and Cubs were the top two teams in the National League Central last year — by acquiring third baseman Nolan Arenado and re-signing Adam Wainwright and Yadier Molina. The Cardinals are favored to win the Central if those off-season moves pay off. San Diego Padres After acquiring Manny Machado in a big trade in 2019, the Padres have continued to improve, especially against difficult opponents. The Padres were a tough team last year, defeating the Cardinals in the wild card round and losing to the eventual World Series champions, the Los Angeles Dodgers. Expect them to be near the top of the standings in September.

Minnesota Twins You don’t make it to the playoffs with the best record in all of baseball and not make it into some kind of list. The Twins are going to be a fun team to watch because they have a chip on their shoulders. While the team managed to score 269 runs in just 60 games, they also lost their record-breaking 18th straight playoff game in 2020. If they can get consistent pitching, both starters and relievers, they will be in the hunt at the end of September. Detroit Tigers There is a benefit to repeatedly being near the bottom of the league: You get good draft picks. The Tigers are on the cusp of finding that special blend of offense and defense in the coming season thanks to some much- needed depth by up-and-coming pitchers and first-round draft picks — so much so that Jonathan Mayo of has them as the top team that missed the playoffs in 2020 who could make a solid run. 4

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