Posted by & filed under Buying.

Coming SoonComing soon in Fort Lee and Englewood are 2 new listings that are quite different.

Englewood Home

Englewood homes are mostly gracious period colonials.  These are beautiful, charming houses with high ceilings, wood detailing and large windows allowing abundant light inside.  Styles include Victorian, Greek Revival, Farm House, Queen Anne, Georgian, Italianate, Colonial Revival and Tudor Revival.  Englewood has a very special ambiance because of these gorgeous classic homes.

Coming soon on the market for sale is an early 20th century colonial.  Built in 1918 it has 3 bedrooms and 2 full baths.  The current owner has redone the entire house and added central air.  This is a 3 bedroom 2 bath home with a finished 3rd level.    Here’s the floor plan for you –

  • 1st floor has a living room, dining room, eat in kitchen and full bath
  • 2nd floor has 3 bedrooms and a bath
  • 3rd floor has a finished room and storage

I’m expecting to put it on the market somewhere around the mid 400’s.

Fort Lee

Fort Lee is known for it’s many high rise luxury buildings.  Because Fort Lee is literally connected to the George Washington Bridge, values there are high because demand is very strong.  There are more co-op buildings in Fort Lee than anywhere else in Bergen County and more condo buildings too.  People joke about this by calling Fort Lee Manhattan West.

Three high rise buildings were built in the mid 1960’s through the early 1970’s by the same group .  They are called Mediterranean North, Mediterranean South and Mediterranean West.  We call them Med North, Med South and Med West.  These are luxury high rises with concierge services, outdoor pools, exercise rooms and other amenities.

Coming soon is a Med North 1 bedroom co-op unit with an amazing high floor western view.  While a NYC skyline view is prized in Fort Lee, NYC views from Med North aren’t always terrific.  This is because Med North is on top of the George Washington Bridge and several blocks from the eastern edge of town.  As a result, the bridge itself blocks the view.  So do other high rise buildings between Med North and NYC.  Lights from the GW Bridge at night make it impossible to see past them too.  As a result, western views from a top floor are also popular.

This 1 bedroom unit is being painted and getting professionally cleaned.  New carpet has been ordered too.  The projected asking price is $129,900.

So this is what’s coming soon in Englewood and Fort Lee.  If you’re interested in either property or would like more information, just text or call me at 201-741-8490.

Posted by & filed under Bergen County LIfe.

The theater season begins in Bergen County this weekend.  Community theater is alive and well here because it’s a great alternative to Broadway.

theater season begins in bergen countyLocal Theater Advantages

You’ll be surprised at how good our local theater is.  Here’s why:  We have amazing performers many of whom have Broadway level talent.

It’s so demanding to be in show business.  There is no security and few job opportunities.  It’s impossible to have a full time job because you must be available for last minute auditions.  As a result, many highly talented people choose a conventional life style and join local theater groups.

Broadway is expensive while community theater is not.  Performing arts centers are around $35-100 while community theater groups are typically $15-25.  Parking is free too.  Broadway will cost you around $70 just to cross the GW Bridge and park in a NYC garage.  Rather than going to New York, stay local and eat out too for less.

Bergen County Theater Groups

There is a long tradition of supporting local theater here.  We have 2 Performing Arts Centers with all sorts of live entertainment as well as plays.  In addition, there are our fine community theaters.  The theater season begins this weekend with a great deal of anticipation.  Public support is so strong that it’s not unusual to have performances completely sold out.

Young people have great opportunities too.  We have classes, a performing arts school, a youth theater group and amazing productions in our high schools.

Performing Arts Centers

bergen pac

Bergen Performing Arts Center  Known as Bergen Pac locally, this is our major live theater located at 30 N Brunt Street in Englewood.  National headliners perform here from comics to symphony orchestras.  You will find at least one theatrical production every year.  There is a special outreach to children with a performing arts school and opportunities for school performances  held here.

Hackensack Performing Arts Center  is located at 108 State Street in Hackensack.  Barely 2 years old, HACPAC opened in November 2017 as a beautiful new theater.  In The Heights opens this Friday night; tickets are only $17-20.

hacpac.orgAtlantic Street Park was created in 2015 adjacent to HACPAC with an outdoor stage.  Enjoy free Shakespeare in the Park and many other events there during summer months.

Community Theater Groups

Bergen County Players   Bergen County Players begins it’s 87th season this Saturday night (Sept 14th) with the Tony award winning musical Pippin.  Performances are on weekends and typically run for 4-5 weekends.  In addition to Pippin are 6 more bergen county playerstheatrical productions through May.  This is a really neat theater – it’s in an old firehouse.  Small and intimate, this is a wonderful theater experience.

Skyline Theater Company is currently in residence at the George Frey Center for Arts and Recreation in Fair Lawn (10-10 20th St).  While they have a website, it’s best to go to their Facebook page  where you’ll find information on their current production.  September has a tribute to George M Cohan which looks like a lot of fun.

The Players Guild of Leonia  They have a unique location because 130 Grand Avenue is a Civil War drill hall.  This is also Bergen County’s oldest theater group having begun in 1919.  Their season begins with a production of Damn Yankees  on October 4th.  Productions here are excellent and they currently have 4 prestigious Perry Award nominations.

Youth Theater

Porch Light Studio, Stage & School  is a fabulous organization.  They are exclusively focused on performing arts education for Porch Lightchildren.  Go to their website.  You will be impressed with how much they have to offer.  Productions are often original although they do scripted ones too.  Currently they have The Drowsey Chaperone coming in November as a public production.  You’ll find this theater at 555 Broad St in Glen Rock.

Saddle River Youth Theater  is an award winning theater group for children from elementary through high school.  This is a comprehensive program that teaches everything from tap dancing to acting skills.  They put on several productions every year through their River Stage Company that are really outstanding.  Location is 37 E Allendale Ave in Allendale.

The theater season in Bergen County begins with 2 great productions this weekend – Pippin on Saturday night and In The Heights on Friday night.  Click on these links to get tickets before it’s too late

You can see that performing arts are very strong in Bergen County.  In addition to what I have here for you, there’s also events at Bergen Community College’s Ciccone Theater and, of course, our local high schools.  If you’d like more information you can always call or text me at 201-741-8490.

 

 

Posted by & filed under Bergen County LIfe.

car shows in bergen countySeptember car shows in Bergen County are always a big hit with the public. I thought you’d like to know what there is for enthusiasts.

Ridgewood, Friday Night Sept 6th

This is the 26th year for Ridgewood’s annual car show.  They close off the entire business district from 5-9 pm which turns it into a pedestrian mall.  Since there are over 400 cars to see, this is one of the most popular Bergen County car shows.  Go out to dinner at one of Ridgewood’s many restaurants, see gorgeous cars and enjoy the night!  This event benefits the Ridgewood High School Scholarship Fund.

Maywood, Saturday Sept 14th

Come to the Maywood American Legion Post 142 at 135 E Passaic St from 10 to 6 for the 3rd annual Fall Fling Car Show.  Because this is for pre 1972 classics, customs and hot rods, there will be something for everyone to see.  Admission is $10 and this is hosted by the Road Lords Car Club of New Jersey.

exotic car showRidgefield, Saturday Sept 14th

Join the fun at the Car Truck and Bike Show from 10-3 at St Matthews Church (555 Prospect Ave).  Hosted by the Knights of Columbus Council #3550, admission is free.  This is a very popular car show that does a lot of good.  Proceeds go to Homeless & Needy Veterans and to the NJ Special Olympics.

 

Englewood Field Club, Sunday Sept 15th  car show in bergen county

This is located at 341 Engle Street in Englewood and the show runs from 11 am through 3 pm.  This is their 2nd annual Exotic Car Show and it’s for a great cause.  Canine Companions for Independence is a service dog organization and all proceeds go to support this organization.  $15 at the door but kids at 12 and under are free.  If you want an intimate local car show with amazing exotics, don’t miss this one.

Teaneck, Sunday Sept 22nd

The Teaneck Armory is at the corner of Teaneck & Liberty Roads on the Bergenfield border.  This is the location for the annual Bergen Street Fest – an amazing food truck festival.  This year it’s being held on both Saturday and Sunday(9/21-9/22).  Sunday is also when the annual car show is held from 1-4.  So come on over, get food at one of the food trucks and have a blast looking at gorgeous classic cars.  Admission is free of course.

bergen county car showCloster, Saturday Sept 28th

Anthony DeCarlo started Joey’s Fund to honor his son’s (Joey’s) memory.  All proceeds go to Memorial Sloan Kettering Hospital to help families with sick kids handle medical and living expenses.  I wish this was one car show that didn’t exist while I sincerely applaud Mr. DeCarlo for honoring his son in this way.  The show will be held at 20 Legion Place from 11-4.  Please come because the bigger the crowd, more cars will come next year.  As a result, there will be  more dollars for Joey’s Fund.  Free admission too!

September Car Shows in Bergen County

I bet you didn’t know how many September car shows in Bergen County exist.  You can see that there’s a lot.  We have quite a variety and because we do, there’s something for everyone.  Bergen County is a really cool place to live!

Posted by & filed under Bergen County LIfe.

Feast of St JosephThings To Do In Bergen County Labor Day Weekend is a post I write every year.  I get calls asking me what’s going on for Labor Day so here are highlights.

3 Major Events

Lodi has the Feast of Saint Joseph at St. Joseph Church located at 40 Spring Street.  It starts Friday ending Labor Day night.  Traditional Italian food, rides, games and entertainment nightly all add up to a wonderful event.

Rutherford has the most amazing street fair every Labor Day.  From 10 am through 5 pm the entire business district becomes a walking street fair.  You will find local shops with special deals, antiques, crafts, food, entertainment and more.  Their website lists special events happening all day.

Teaneck is the place for the Annual Annual Filipino American Festival at Overpeck Park from 10 am – 8 pm.  Food, exhibitions, entertainment, a beauty pageant and all things Filipino are on display.

5K Runs

You’ll love Labor Day if you are a runner because there are still options for you to register at:  5k run

Closter Labor Day Weekend 5K Race is on Sunday September 1st.  REGISTRATION ENDS MONDAY AT MIDNIGHT.  There is also a 5K walk and a Kids Fun Run.

Glen Rock has their annual Jaycees Arboretum Run on Labor Day  This 5k run starts at 390 Doremus Avenue (Glen Rock Pool parking lot) and registration is open through Saturday the 31st.

Pony Rides, Petting Zoos and Farms

Bergen County still has 3 working farms left.  If you have young children, they have a petting zoo and Abma’s Farm has pony rides every Saturday through October.  Demarest Farms still has peach picking left and Apple Picking begins Labor Day Weekend.

Hillsdale is where Demarest Farms is located and Wyckoff is where Abma’s Farm is located.  Check out their websites.  You can get wonderful produce and baked goods including home made pies too!

Bergen County has a 3rd working farm – Secor Farms in Mahwah and they’re open all through Labor Day Weekend.  Right now they don’t have a petting zoo because that, hayrides and a pumpkin patch come mid September.  However Secor Farms is a wonderful place with fabulous organic produce.

things to do in bergen countyBergen County Parks and Recreation

Bergen County has a truly awesome public park system.  Look at all the links to the parks we have on the left  side of the page if you’ve just clicked this link.  You can camp, horseback ride, take the kids on a train ride, ride on a carousel, go to a zoo, hike, barbecue, use cycle paths or just relax with a walk in the park.  There are so many playgrounds for children including a handicap accessible area at Van Saun Park.  We have nearly 9,000 acres of parks for everyone to enjoy.

Golf is huge in Bergen County and our County Park system shows it.  There are 9 public golf courses.  All but 1 are 18 hole courses.  Bergen County Golf is open all Labor Day Weekend.

There you have it – plenty of things to do in Bergen County Labor Day Weekend.  If you’re home and not away, you can certainly have a lot of fun.

My parents always had a big barbecue over Labor Day Weekend growing up.  The entire family came along with tons of friends.  We often went to the Rutherford Street Fair on Monday and at some point in time to Little Italy in Manhattan too. Those are great memories.  So turn off the TV and video games and get out to make some of your own!

 

 

 

 

Posted by & filed under Buying.

how long does it take to buy a homeHow long does it take to buy a home is a question I hear a lot.  Because this is so important for you, let’s take a good look at what’s involved.

Everyone Is Not the Same

You want to buy a home and you’re not sure how long this will take.  Friends tell you they’ve looked forever.  Others found their home in a matter of weeks.  Going online doesn’t really help because the answers you find are vague.

The truth is that there is no perfect answer.  It depends on so many variables.  Home buyers come to me with different stages of readiness and preparedness.  As a result, it’s impossible to give you all the same answer.  I can, however, outline things so you can figure out how long you’ll need.

A Lot Depends On You

It is true that a lot depends on you.  How fast you get documents to your banker is important.  Additionally the banker and bank you choose matters a lot.

So is the time you commit to finding a home.  Do you go out to see homes every week or once per month?  Your agent calls to tell you a great house just came on the market.  Do you react quickly or not?

Preparing to Buy A House  buyer consultation

The most efficient start is the buyer consultation.  We get together at my office and in 1 hour or so you save yourself tons of time and avoid making mistakes.

I teach you the home buying process, what a true pre approval is and why you need it plus we identify your needs and wants.  We go over attorneys and home inspectors too.  Great agents take the time to do this for you.

It’s now time to get correctly pre-approved.  Budget 1 week for this because on top of your already full life, you have to gather financial documents.

The Next Steps

Most home buyers take 2-3 months or so of looking to find a home.  You might have to make several offers before you capture a house.  Let’s figure 2.5 months to get a contract on a house.

house huntingThe contract goes to the attorneys who review and adjust it to a final binding contract.  This takes 1 week typically.

Next comes the home inspections.  You have 10 days to get this done but plan on 2 weeks because the radon test might need 2 or 3 days extra for results.  Inspection issue negotiations can also take a few days.

It’s 1 month from when you first got your contract.  Next comes finishing off the mortgage and preparing for the closing.  Now it’s pretty much in the hands of your attorney, the title company and your banker.  During this time you will be asked for even more from your banker.  Additionally you’ll settle on your homeowner insurance and set up moving in.

How Long Does It Take To Buy A Home

So how long does it take to buy a home is answered by adding it all up.  It’s 2 months for the actual process and 2-3 months to find your home.  Can you do it quicker?  Yes but the less time you have, the more pressure you’re under.

Questions?  Call or text me at 201-741-8490.

 

 

 

 

Posted by & filed under Buying.

FHAThe new FHA loan rule for condominiums helps first time home buyers tremendously.  Announced yesterday in a press release, the new rule takes effect on October 15th.

FHA Approved Condominiums

The FHA Condominium Project Approval & Processing Guide  is 95 pages long.  Requirements are strict and it’s a costly, tedious process for any condo association.  Condominium associations simply don’t apply due to the cost and aggravation.

You use the FHA website to find out which condos are approved.  Sort by County, put in New Jersey as the State, Bergen as the County and click Send at the bottom of the page for results.  It is surprising to see how many buildings were rejected by the FHA.

Bergen County FHA Approved Condominiums

There are only 5 approved condominiums in Bergen County.  They are Baridge House and Carlyle Towers in Hackensack, Darlington Ridge and Paddington Square in Mahwah and Regency Park in Ramsey.  Several have approvals expiring this year.

It is shocking to learn only 5 are approved since there are hundreds of Bergen County condo buildings.  This makes it very tough for first time home buyers because condos are often affordable.  As a result many people who could qualify for an affordable condo are stuck in rentals.

The New FHA Condominium Loan Rule

The new FHA condominium loan rule aims to solve this problem.  It is no longer necessary for a building to be FHA approved.  The new rule states that just the unit itself can be approved.  That’s huge.  Federal Housing Authority

The FHA tells us that 84% of it’s borrowers are first time home buyers.  Condo apartments are often an affordable start to home ownership.  Because of this, the new FHA loan rule was created to increase the number of approved condos.

Additionally, this might force associations to apply for approval.  Condo owners will take notice and ask their associations to apply for building approval.  Similarly unit owners will hold association feet to the fire and ask why their building failed.

Please remember this takes effect on October 15th and change does take time.  If you have questions or need help, call or text me at 201-741-8490.

 

Posted by & filed under Bergen County LIfe.

coyoteCoyotes are everywhere in the NYC metro area.  I know this might sound strange but they’ve been spotted all over.  To name a few places, coyotes have been seen in Manhattan, Westchester County, Rockland County, Bergen County and Long Island.  It seems that no matter where you live these days around New York City, coyotes are there.  We find them 2 hours and more away from NYC too.

How to Recognize a Coyote

Because these animals are canines, people often mistake them for a dog.  Look at the picture above.  While nearly everyone will think this is a dog, it isn’t.  This is a coyote.  Since they have very bushy tails, it really is easy to recognize them.  Take a look at the next picture and you’ll see what I mean.  Dogs don’t have tails like this.  As a result, it’s easy to spot them. 

Predators

Coyotes are predators.  Because of this, they can be dangerous.  They feed on small animals but also animals as big as deers.  While they prefer small animals they will eat almost anything.  Whatever comes their way which is why they are called opportunistic feeders.

Because pets and small children can be prey for these animals, you must not leave them outside alone.  It’s important to be vigilant.  Since coyotes hunt in packs they can easily take down a dog or a small child.  Last week a sole coyote attacked a woman in Mahwah.

Don’t Invite Them

It’s true that coyotes are everywhere in the NYC metro area.  However that doesn’t have to mean you’ll meet one.  The key is to not leave food around outside and to keep your garbage cans securely shut.  Because they are opportunistic feeders, you invite them into your home by leaving food around outside.  Don’t give them a reason to come by leaving food around or access to your garbage cans.

If You See One

In all the articles I’ve found the first advice is to not run.  This is followed by make a loud noise and then throw something at them.  The lady in Mahwah who was attacked and bitten had started to run away when she saw a coyote on her property.  The best website I found is the Urban Coyote Research Project from Cook County (where Chicago is located) and Ohio State University.

Generally speaking, they won’t bother you if you don’t bother them.  This assumes that you are not inviting them in.  Coyotes are everywhere in the NYC metro area and across the US too.

 

 

Posted by & filed under Buying, For Sale or Rent.

new milford homeThis New Milford home is coming soon.  It will be in the MLS later this week with an open house on Sunday.  We are almost done getting it ready for the market because the current family needed to do a few things.

They lived here happily for a long time.  As a result, they had tons of things they no longer needed because they are retiring.  They are downsizing to a retirement home in South Jersey and needed time to give items to family members.

This is a 3 bedroom 3 bath house that is very unique.  It has 3 levels.  The first floor has a full sized living room and dining room.  There is also an eat in kitchen, bedroom and bath.  The side hall staircase leads you to a 2nd and 3rd level.  A large bedroom sits on the 2nd level and both another full bath and Master Bedroom is on the 3rd level.  You will also find a large open area ideal for a home office or sitting room.

The finished basement includes a rec room, summer kitchen, another room and full bath.  The unfinished area has the washer/dryer and utility area.

The yard is magnificent.  It’s private and so big.  The back of the house has a full width deck and concrete patio so barbecue parties with all your friends and family are easy.  Because the backyard is so big, it has a sprinkler system installed.  This makes keeping it watered a snap.

Heating is gas hot water with 4 zones and there’s central air too.

The reason this New Milford home is coming soon and not today is because we also need pictures.  I scheduled professional photography, a floor plan and a Matterport 3D Tour over the next few days.  It’s important to wait until everything is in place before you put a home on the market.

New Milford has a great school district too.  The State of New Jersey School Performance Report on New Milford shows a very respectable 559 and 560 SAT score for Reading/Writing and Math.  

Asking price is $479,000 and taxes are $10,581 currently.  If you want to see this home or know someone who would, call me at 201-741-8490.

Posted by & filed under Renting.

renting in bergen countyRenting in Bergen County can be done in several ways.  Let’s explore them now –

Privately

There are various ways to rent an apartment or a home or a condo privately.  You might know someone who has a property to rent or a friend of a friend.

NJ.com has a classified section of rental listings.  While a lot of the ads are from Realtors some are also directly from the landlord.  Zumper.com is another site to check out.

Craigslist has rental listings but be careful because there can be a lot of fraud there.  Criminals steal listings, post them as their own and tell you to send them money for access.

Management Company

There are property management companies with hundreds of apartments.  You meet the superintendent who shows you the property.  Management companies charge a processing fee which often comes to a few hundred dollars.  A good property management company where you might find a rental is Hekemian & Company in Hackensack (201-487-1500).

Through A Realtor

Using a real estate agent in northern New Jersey involves a 1 month broker fee paid by the tenant.  This is why, frankly, some tenants try the other options first.  Landlords use real estate agents because they feel more secure with the qualifying process and want professional marketing.  Agents can often find a tenant quicker too.  Why would a tenant use a real estate agent?  Because a lot of good properties are in the MLS system plus this saves a lot of time and effort.

What You Should Know About Renting in Bergen County

New Jersey discrimination law is reportedly the strictest in the US.  The only time things are more relaxed is when the landlord lives in a building of up to 4 units.  This is because landlords are entitled to “quiet enjoyment” in their primary residence.  As a result, landlords can deny a family with young children for an apartment right above them.

New Jersey’s booklet on tenant rights, the Truth in Renting Guide, is in both English and Spanish.  There is an appendix on window guards for children 10 years of age and younger.  If you have such children, please be sure to read this appendix.

It is illegal in NJ for a landlord to require more than 1.5 month’s rent as a security deposit.  Whether a private rental or one with a real estate agent, be prepared for this.  If you have a pet you might have to pay an additional monthly pet rent.

You need tenant insurance during the term of your lease.  I see a lot of landlords requiring a $300,000 liability amount so I guess this is a good idea. Most people pay $175-300 depending on the rental size.

I hope this article on renting in Bergen County has been of help.  If you need a rental or have a property to rent, I’d appreciate a call at 201-741-8490.

 

Posted by & filed under Selling.

Don’t allow a combination lock box when selling your home.  Allow me to explain why.

GE lock boxWhy Use A Lock box

Lock boxes make access easier.  Because other options to show a house are more challenging, lock boxes are often a preferred method.

There are times that a home can only be shown when the listing agent or homeowner can be there to open it up.  Since it is impossible for any listing agent or homeowner to always be available, a seller might miss showings.

There is another reason too.  Agents are more enthusiastic about showing homes with lock boxes because it’s easier and forgiving.  If your schedule is off by 10 or 15 minutes, you can still show the house without upsetting anyone.

Combination Lock Box vs Electronic

We’ve established the positive reasons for using a lock box.  There are negatives too which are important to understand.  I believe all of them have to do with combination lock boxes.  By the way, these are also called combo lock boxes in case you were wondering.

Combination lock boxes are opened by punching in a number.  Electronic lock boxes are very different.

The New Jersey MLS uses the Supra EKey electronic lockbox.  They open using blue tooth technology.  Agents do this using a fob or their cell phone.  There is a huge difference between these two systems.

Combination lock boxes can be purchased for as little as $10 on Amazon.  The NJMLS Supra units cost $106. combination lock box Agents have to pay fees for either the fob or cell phone methods.  A combo box costs an agent nothing after purchase.

With a combo box there is zero accountability.  There is no record keeping.  With the GE box there is an immediate record when an agent opens the box.  As a listing agent, I can get text or email alerts when someone opens it up and written reports of all showings.

Accountability and Security

Because the GE lock box records every showing there is accountability.  While I can’t prove this is true, my experience is that when a GE box is used, doors are locked and lights are off.  This is not my experience with a combo box listing.

Right now there’s a house for sale in Englewood on W Hudson Ave with a combo box.  I walk my dog by it at night and there’s always lights left on and windows opened.

Security is an issue too.  GE boxes can be set for what hours a house can be accessed and there’s no limit to how often you can adjust this.  Combination boxes can’t do this – agents can get in any time they wish and also without an appointment.

My Take On This

What I will tell you is this – if you list your house with me and we use a lock box, it will only be a MLS lock box.  I will never expose any listing I have to the lack of accountability and security that exists with a combination lock box.

My company, Weichert Realtors, has every office manager purchase enough MLS lock boxes for our needs. My office is so busy that we have MLS lock boxes from several different MLS systems.  This is the most professional standard of practice because it’s the most secure and accountable system.

So if you are selling your home or other property and want to use a lockbox, insist on an electronic MLS box.  Anything else in my view is not acceptable.