Posted by & filed under Buying.

All Agents Are Not The Same

While buyers often research their attorney, few do so when finding an agent.  The truth is that all agents are not the same.  You need to find a great agent for yourself.

Because so much information is available on the internet, many buyers devalue agents.  Buyers feel that they have all the information.  They look at real estate agents as door openers, less informed and just out to make a commission.

To be fair, some agents are part timers.  As a result they can’t have the expertise and market knowledge required.  If it were up to me, only full time real estate agents would represent buyers and sellers.  Oh well.

Finding A Great Agent

CRSA great agent is a full time professional.  They invest in their business.  If they’ve been an agent for several years, they should have a website and advanced designations.  The top designation for a sales agent is the CRS.  Less than 4% of all Realtors have achieved this.  Buyers will want to look for the ABR designation.

What are their reviews like?  Is there a common theme of caring professionalism?  Sometimes great agents don’t have a lot of reviews.  I don’t because I keep forgetting to send clients the required links.  And I haven’t asked my friends and relatives to recommend me………….

You may be surprised to know that new agents can be spectacular.  One of our new agents achieved the NJ State Circle of Excellence Award in her first year.  Fewer than 10% of all active agents achieve this award.

As a result, the number of years an agent is licensed or the number of reviews isn’t a reliable indication of ability.  ABR

A great agent should take the extra time to educate you.  If you go to the Buyers section of my website,you’ll see that I take a consultative approach.  This is because I want my customers to know what they’re doing in all aspects.

Excellent communication is essential.  If you and your agent don’t have good rapport, get someone else.

Choose Wisely

Because so many buyers think all agents are alike, they often choose unwisely.  You don’t need a charming “Yes Man” so to speak.  You need an agent who: is an expert on market values/trends, knows mortgages, can tell you about the towns/local information and can explain the process.

Circle of ExcellenceA great agent has integrity and truly cares.  Such a person has the strength and wisdom to guide you to a successful home purchase.

Do better than hire a charming smile.  Don’t overlook a newer agent.  Make sure the agent cares and is willing to do everything possible to make your real estate transaction a success.

 

Posted by & filed under Bergen County LIfe, Buying.

When you’re shopping for a home, you need local information.  Here are 5 great websites for Bergen County –

Bergen County’s Website

There is a tremendous information on the County of Bergen’s own website.  You’ll be amazed at how much there is in this website.  Here are some examples for you from the website’s ribbon menu:

  • County Officials has the Superintendent of Elections  Because we are so diverse, there are voter forms in English, Spanish and Korean.
  • You’ll find links to every town’s website under County Officials too.
  •  Departments and Services has Parks  Everything is here from camping to golf to a zoo and more.
  • About Bergen County is great too.  History and demographics are here.  As a result, you’ll get a very good understanding of our area.

There’s a lot more in Bergen County’s website.  This will get you started

Commuting

Bergen County is serviced by 2 companies for commuting to New York City.  NJ Transit offers both bus and train commuting.  Coach USA is solely bus commuting.  Buses go to either the George Washington Bridge Bus Terminal at 178th St or the Port Authority Bus Terminal at 41st Street.  Trains go to Penn Station in Manhattan.

There is also a Park & Ride option in some locations.  For example on Rte 17 in Ramsey, by the Garden State Parkway in Paramus and at the Lombardi gas station at the start of the Turnpike in Ridgefield.

Some towns, like Oradell, limit the train parking lots to only their residents.  As a result, just because you bought a home in a neighboring town does not mean you can park next to the train station in Oradell.  It can also be the case that a town charges for commuting parking.  Be sure to check out your commuting needs thoroughly.

Schools

Bergen County is renown for our public school systems.  House values here are based on 2 key factors – commuting/proximity to NYC and the school district.  While I know many people go to the Great Schools website, I’ve always found it to be very inadequate.  This is because the reviews are by parents.  You want a good independent source and we have one.

The State of NJ puts out a report on all of it’s school districts every 2 years.  As a result, you have an independent review using the same reporting parameters.  There is also another very watched report by NJ Monthly Magazine.  This bi-annual report ranking high schools in New Jersey comes out on news stands in August and sells out almost immediately even in this digital age.

Go to my website where I have comprehensive information on all Bergen County school districts including a link to the NJ bi-annual report and every school district’s website.

My Bergen

We have a lot of Bergen County focused magazines both in print and online.  A lot of them are highly social showing people at charitable events.  They also focus on style.  Not My Bergen.

I use the My Bergen website often because it has so much great information on what’s happening.  There’s a Kid’s section where you can find great events for your children.  No matter which Bergen County focused website, I’ve always found My Bergen to be the most informative and most comprehensive.  As a result, I recommend this as the go to website for Bergen County happenings.

BergenCountyHomes.com

My website has a ton of information for you.  I’ve written it specifically for people who haven’t bought or sold a home for the past several years because the process has changed quite a bit.  If you don’t understand the process of buying or selling a home, you will find it very stressful.  My goal is to eliminate the stress by educating you.  So go to Buyers or Sellers depending on what you need.  My blog has a lot of good informative articles that I’ve written for you.  Go to the Categories drop down menu to the left of the page so you can select what you wish.

So there you have it.  5 great websites for Bergen County to help you.  Call me if you’d like to talk about real estate or for any questions you might have at 201-741-8490

 

 

 

 

 

Posted by & filed under For Sale or Rent.

33 E Hudson Englewood RentalHere is a wonderful Englewood rental that is truly unique.  A cottage house that has been lovingly updated.  The new kitchen is truly beautiful.

Property Details

Custom designed with tons of storage, the new kitchen is both gorgeous and highly functional.  Wood cabinets, granite counter tops and stainless steel appliances are all here for you.  It opens onto a large room with sliding glass doors to a large deck.

The first level offers you a foyer, living room, dining room, kitchen opening to a large room, bedroom and updated full bath.  Upstairs are 2 smaller bedrooms and a new bath.  Downstairs you have a full unfinished basement for tons of storage and also a laundry area with a washer and dryer.

No parking problems with this home.  You can have several cars if you wish because there’s a 2 car garage and a long driveway.  As a result, guests can park several cars in your driveway as well as on the street.

Local Neighborhood 33 E Hudson

The local neighborhood has a lot to offer.  This is a fabulous commuting location because you are on top of NYC buses.  There is a great little business district 1 block away.  You have almost everything you need 1 block away.  Dutch Dry Cleaner, Spring Tree Bagel and Deli, Walgreens, Oprandy’s Wine & Liquor, Mr Tod’s PIes, Roman Inn Pizza and Subs, a men’s barbershop, lady’s salon and more.

Drop off dry cleaning, grab a bagel and coffee, jump on the bus and be in NYC 1 hour later!  This Englewood rental is simply an ideal spot for commuting to New York City for work.

Houses of worship are nearby.  Just up the street are 2 synagogues – Temple Sinai (Reformed) and the Orthodox Kesher Center.  A short 5-10 minute drive away are many Christian churches and a Mosque.

33 E Hudson Garage 33 E Hudson Ave is also on the Tenafly border.  As a result both Tenafly and Englewood are equally accessible to you.  Both towns have terrific business districts with wonderful local shopping and restaurants.  Tenafly has a movie theater while Englewood has the Bergen County Performing Arts Center with live entertainment.

Englewood NJ

The City of Englewood is one of the most popular locations in Bergen County.  It’s downtown is extensive with an urbane sophistication you will love.  Vibrant, proud and highly diverse this is a wonderful place to call home.  The magnificent turn of the century home, large East Hill Estates and modern condominium apartment development offers everyone the right choice in housing.

The eclectic kaleidoscope of cultures is on display when you go into the local Shoprite Supermarket.  This is a great town where there is always something for everyone.

Take a look at this cottage house rental.  Available at the end of the this year at $2,900 per month, you won’t want to miss this uniquely charming and quaint residence.  Add in a great yard (don’t worry – the landlord will have the grass cut) and an animal friendly landlord, this is a place you want to come home to every night.  Call me at 201-741-8490 for a private viewing.

 

 

 

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

400 Lantana Ave

400 Lantana Ave

I just listed this gorgeous colonial at 400 Lantana Ave in Englewood today for $625,000.  This is a very special home because it has a simply spectacular setting.  It sits on a half acre property that borders a stream below where you watch ducks floating by, wild turkeys walking around and deer too.  The architect was brilliant because he positioned the house for the utmost in privacy.  You feel the serenity here the moment you get out of your car.  It truly is a beautiful natural setting with park like grounds.

House Details

The house is itself a wonderful home.  The owner made great improvements.  They redid both baths upstairs, finished the basement and completely redecorated.  Condition is great so you can move right in.  The size is terrific too at 2,667 square feet.  Add in 939 square feet of finished basement for over 3,600 square feet of living space.

There are some terrific features.  Two bedrooms have bonus rooms, a library is on the first floor, the basement has an amazing rec room, a separate laundry room and another room used as a play room that could also be a home office or a dark room.  The living room is big with a fireplace and wait till you see the banquet sized dining room.  Entertaining flow is excellent and charm is throughout.

Manor Area of Englewood

Location is the prestigious Manor Area of Englewood.  This is the northwest corner of town starting above Dwight Morrow High School to the Tenafly border west of Knickerbocker Road.  East of Knickerbocker Road it runs from St Nicholas north up to Tenafly Road.  You’ll find picturesque streets filled with homes of character here.  It’s a wonderful area that’s highly diverse and extremely popular.  Houses here are always in demand.

Sunday Open House

If you’d like to see this beautiful home, we are having a public open house this Sunday from 1-4 pm.  Because the present owner takes such very good care of the home, we ask that you remove shoes indoors.  The weather is supposed to cooperate so come on by.  I have 2 other agents with me to make sure no one has to wait long to see this magnificent home. You are going to love 400 Lantana Ave!

 

 

 

Posted by & filed under Selling.

I know.  I’m not supposed to knock other agents and I won’t.  However there are things your listing agent shouldn’t do in my humble opinion yet I see it all the time.  So take a ride with me down the I Don’t Want This lane:

Photos

Did you know that a great many homes come on the market in the MLS system without pictures?  Some days as much as half of the newly listed homes have no pictures.  This can last for days.  Because pictures more than anything else are what captures a buyer, this is a huge mistake.  As a result, buyers looking in the internet skip by your home.

I get it.  It takes a few days to have professional pictures done.  While this is true, it’s also not impossible for a listing agent to at least take a photo of the front of your house.  Almost anything is better than nothing,   Well maybe not almost anything.

A group of agents I know every year have a contest.  It’s actually fun and very easy.  Who can find the worst picture of a listing?  IPhones and Galaxy 9’s are great but they can never replace a good digital SLR.  How about those pictures where the window looks like a light bulb in a dark room?  Or where the house is at a 45 degree angle?  Always have your agent get professional photographs.

Here’s another big mistake – file size.  Go online and look at some homes.  There are pictures you can sail through and there are pictures where you watch that little circle go round and round and round.  You’re selling a house.  You want the buyer to like your house.  Why do you irritate that buyer with file sizes that are too big to work?

Showings

Your agent tells you that your home is so special that we must have a 24-48 hour advance notice.  That stops all spontaneous showing requests and turns off agents.  I believe this is just fluff and puff to stroke a homeowner’s ego in order to get the listing.

Here is another mistake:  Your agent tells you that they will accompany all showings.  This is more fluff and puff because showings can never be scheduled perfectly.  Buyers can take more or less time than expected.  Having to be at any house at a specific time to satisfy a listing agent’s needs is too restrictive.  There are other instances where your agent is late.  While some homeowners do need a good deal of advance notice, this is rare.

We have electronic lockboxes.  This gives you full accountability.  Make your home accessible always.  You can’t sell it if you make it hard to get into.

Remarks

There are homes that are re-listed several times and the showing remarks never change.  There are homes that are on the market a long while with the same showing remarks.  IF you do it right, showing remarks should contain the right keywords to draw in your buyer.  They should also not be a repeat of the floor plan.  Remarks should paint an emotional picture to appeal to your buyer so that they can’t wait to see your home.

Here’s something else – why not change the remarks often to keep the listing fresh and draw out different buyer groups for a home?  For example, remarks can be written towards families or professionals or artists or empty nesters for the same house.

Check Your Listing

I see so many listings with horrible pictures, wrong file sizes, lousy remarks and, at times, incorrect information.  No kidding on this at all.  I just saw a home listed as a foreclosure when it was not.  Just a mistake but it was there.  Look at your home’s MLS listing from time to time.  Make sure what you see is what’s supposed to be there.  Don’t be a victim of things your listing agent shouldn’t do.

Posted by & filed under Uncategorized.

The weather has turned colder than normal so here are some indoor weekend ideas in Bergen Co

Tenafly Street Fair

unty for you and your family to enjoy:

Tenafly Street Fair and Craft Show

Do you love crafts?  Love street fairs?  Come to Tenafly because the entire downtown business district will be one big open event.  Local stores will have amazing specials, tons of vendors, music, food, plenty of crafts and rides for the kids.  This highly popular event will run from 11 to 5 on Saturday and Sunday.

Cabaret

CabaretBergen County has several live theater groups and one of the best is The Players Guild of Leonia.  I have gone to their productions and can tell you that this is a terrific local live theater group.  They are doing Cabaret right now and tickets this weekend are still available.  Performances are tonight and Saturday night at 8 pm and 3 pm on Sunday.  Tickets are only $25 for most of us and $20 for students and seniors.

Tenafly Nature Center

tenafly nature centerNature Centers in Bergen County usually have a full schedule.  One of the best is the Tenafly Nature Center.  This weekend their Apple Cider Making Event continues on Saturday afternoon.  Because this is such a popular event it gets sold out quickly.  However there are still spots available Saturday afternoon.  This is a no miss family event; the weather will be warm enough by the afternoon too.  If you like you can go hiking on their trails afterward.

There is another event going on at the Tenafly Nature Center this weekend for young children (age 3-7).  Nature Story Time is on Saturday starting at 10 am for 30 minutes.

National Stamp Show

Do you collect stamps?  One of the major stamp shows in the US is happening this weekend at the stamp showMeadowlands Hilton.  NOJEX 2018 is one of the biggest philatelic events and there will be many outstanding award winning stamp collection exhibits.  If you’ve never been to a stamp show go to this one.  It’s rare to have a major national show in our own backyard.  Bring the kids too.  Stamp collecting is fun, doesn’t have to be expensive and teaches children so many positive things.

Fish Show

There is a huge aquatic show this weekend with an amazing floor show.  If you are into aquariums and exotic fish, come to the Aquatic Experience  at the Meadowlands Exposition Center (355 Plaza Dr, Secaucus NJ) starting today this weekend.  Floor show tickets are $15 adults, $10 age 6-21 and under 5 free.  If you have a youngster who is into aquariums, you might want to check out the Kids Aquarium Contest too.

You can also read my last week’s blog article for hayrides, pumpkin patches and apple picking.  Weekend events in the Bergen County area happen every week of the year.  I’ll always include events nearby too because locations such as Secaucus are literally on the border.  Check back to find out what’s happening when you need ideas for fun.

 

 

 

Posted by & filed under Buying.

choosing a home inspectorChoosing a home inspector last minute is never a good idea.  Because there is so much at stake for you, it’s essential that you do things right when you’re buying a house.  Choosing a home inspector is one of the most important things you do so let’s do it right.

Understand the Process

Home inspections are done as soon as the Attorney Review process is concluded.  That’s because you don’t have a firm, binding contract on the house until then.  This really makes a lot of sense.  Why would you inspect a home before you have a solid contract to buy it?

10 Days to Get It Done

You typically have 10 days to get your inspections done.  Although this is enough time, many home buyers go into a meltdown.  Why?  Because they haven’t even begun to look for an inspector.

So here we go.  You scramble to find an inspector last minute.  High stress becomes part of your life because you only have 10 days to get it all done.  Choosing a home inspector last minute is no fun.  It’s also unnerving.  Since you’re doing this in a rush you can’t be sure you made the best choice.

Imagine how different this could be if you just got prepared early on.

Choosing A Home Inspector

Find your home inspector before you find your house.  As soon as you start seriously shopping for your home, get your ducks in order so you’re fully prepared.  Choosing a home inspector should be among your top priorities.  Ask friends who have recently purchased homes and ask your agent.  Do research through the web.

Once you’ve found several possibilities, call them.  Communication is important.  No matter how good an inspector may be, if you don’t communicate well then it won’t work.  Home inspectors explain the house, what they discover and how to maintain the house.  As a result, you must be able to communicate well with your inspector.

You might want to check out my blog article on the value of a home inspector.   Choosing a home inspector last minute is a risk you don’t want to take.  Call me at 201-741-8490 if you need help or have questions.

Posted by & filed under Bergen County LIfe.

OktoberfestFun Things To Do This Weekend

Here are some fun things to do in Bergen County this weekend.  If you know of any others, send them along to me and I’ll add them to this article.

  1. Demarest always has a wonderful Oktoberfest event at the Duck Pond in October.  It’s this Saturday, October 13th from 10 to 5.  You really don’t want to miss it.  There’s a wonderful craft fair, German music and food plus some special Korean items.
  2. Have children?  If so how about a hayride, pumpkin patch and farm animals?  We have Abma’s Farm in Wyckoff, Demarest Farms in Hillsdale,  Lupardi’s Nursery in ClosterRohsler’s Nursery in Allendale  and Secor Farms in Mahwah.   I’d call them now because some require hay ride reservations.
  3. The Tenafly Nature Center is having it’s popular Apple Cider making event starting this Saturday.  Again, call them or go online to book a time for this.
  4. Franklin Lakes has a huge Oktoberfest Celebration this coming Friday night, October 12th at McBride Field with everything from live music to rides for the kids to German food.  The fun starts at 7 pm and you have to purchase tickets with proceeds going to the Oasis shelter.
  5. The Woman’s Club of Englewood is having their Fall Harvest Fundraiser on Sunday, October 14th, at the Carriage House (187 Brinkerhoff Ct, Englewood, NJ) with all sorts of DJ music, food, face painting, 25+ vendors and more.  This is a really great fun event held from 11 to 5.

Apple Picking

apple pickingBecause it’s so much fun to go apple picking, it’s become an annual fall tradition.  While apple orchards are not in Bergen County they are reasonably nearby.  Here are 3 terrific orchards to consider.  These are family owned orchards that span several generations.  It isn’t unusual to see parents taking their children to orchards they themselves went to when young.

 

  1. Alstede Farms
  2. Masker Orchards
  3. Riamede Farm

So there you have it.  No need to be bored this weekend with so much going on.  You have a lot of fun things to do in Bergen County and nearby!

 

Posted by & filed under Selling.

407 Mountain ViewSold at full price is what every home owner wants when they put their house up for sale.  It doesn’t always happen.  Many homes, even in this strong seller’s market, go through a series of price reductions to get a buyer.  It doesn’t have to be this way.  When homes go through many reductions it hurts both buyers and sellers.

Marketing Matters

I have always said that marketing matters.  Because homeowners believe, for the most part, that all real estate agents are alike the only item on their horizon is the commission.  What should be foremost is marketing.

Marketing does matter because it makes the difference between a great price and a lousy price for a home.  If a buyer gets a deeply discounted price for a house, they’ve just devalued the entire neighborhood as well as the house they’re buying.  It’s a lose lose and not a win win.

The right marketing builds true value in a home.  Poor marketing detracts value.  It also costs a seller more than a loss in the price paid.  Because poorly marketed homes take longer to sell, it costs an owner more to hold the house.

Emotional Cost

Don’t you want to sell your home to people who love it as much as you do?  Doesn’t a buyer want to move into a home they’re excited about and love?  What kind of a real estate transaction will it be if no one feels good about it?  I can tell you that such a transaction will be like pulling teeth all the way through.

There is a very real emotional toll paid by both buyer and seller when the marketing can’t find the right buyer for a house.  Your home is more than just dollars and cents and it’s the same for your buyer.

407 Mountain View Road in Englewood

Consider what happened at 407 Mountain View Road in Englewood.  This is a classic example of what went wrong and what went right.

407 Mountain View Road was listed by another broker.  It was on the market for 218 days with zero success.  I listed the house and got it under contract in 5 days at the full asking price of $419,000 from terrific buyers.  The difference was the marketing and that difference was huge.

Marketing the House

The first listing was a disaster.  The photo’s were taken with a cell phone, internet postings were basic and the For Sale sign was a mess too.  It looked like it had been through a war – faded,  scratched and dumped in the middle of shrubs so it wasn’t visible.  Not 1 open house and no mailings.

Because I want my listings to have tremendous impact when they go up for sale, I have everything fully prepared.  The house is cleaned, professional photos and video tour taken, floor plan and house specific website done and the white post sign is ordered.

Next comes the online experience.  I usually use 3 MLS systems.  Weichert does extensive web postings while I work hard on social media.  Written descriptions use keywords too.

Open houses have neighborhood calls and mailings (I did nearly 500 for 407 Mountain View).  Eight directional signs were up by 11 am that Sunday with balloons for the 1-5 open house.  Because of all of this, we pulled in the right buyer.

Behind what might look like an easy process are years of experience, training and marketing know how from myself and the agents at the open house.

If you’re a homeowner and employ a Realtor to sell your home, you’re going to pay a commission.  Getting the best price is never about the commission.  It’s always about how the listing agent markets the house.  This seller had to wait over 7 months with no sale.  How much did that cost?  More than a commission difference I’ll bet.  Sold at full price doesn’t happen if the marketing is not right.

Don’t short change yourself or your home.  Call in a full time professional who’s expert at marketing homes.  If you want to call me, I’m at 201-741-8490.

Posted by & filed under Buying, Selling.

real estate is changingReal estate is changing.  It’s been happening for a while but most people haven’t noticed it.  We are in the very early stages of a transition and that’s good.

The housing market is cyclical.  There are times when prices go up and times when prices go down.  The long term trajectory is always up but moderately.  We’ve been up for nearly 10 years now.

We’re still in very positive territory.  Demand is strong inventory is low.  What’s happened is that pricing has flattened.  The law of supply and demand works when there’s value to be had.  When cost outstrips value, buyers react and this is where we are.

Up until a year or two ago, affordability was great. While the cost of housing had risen, interest rates were quite low (3-3.5%) keeping homes very affordable.  Since then rates are up and rising.  Last year at this time rates were at 3.85%; today they’re 4.6% and projected to rise again this fall.  As a result, homes are less affordable and this has had a decided effect. real estate is changing

It’s still a tough market for buyers because of continued low inventory.  We’re still in a seller’s market.  It’s just that things aren’t as robust as they were a while ago.  Real estate is changing and that’s good.

It’s a natural process for the market to flatten and even pull back a bit after an extended period of rising prices.  Nothing goes up forever and nothing falls forever.  What we had 10 years ago was unusual.  Severe recessions are not normal and there’s no cause for alarm.  So where does this leave you?

Let me repeat – there’s no cause for alarm.  This is a healthy and natural process.  For buyers, you’re buying a long term investment.  Over the course of the 20 or so years you’ll have your home, prices will indeed go up and down.  Where you’ll have problems will be with mortgage rates so it’s smarter to buy sooner than later.  The cost of your mortgage will affect you more than pricing now and mortgage rates are going up.

For seller’s, keep an eye on your immediate market.  Real estate is always extremely local.  According to Jeff Otteau (www.otteau.com), half of New Jersey real estate has flattened.  That means the other half hasn’t.  It may take another few years for the rest to flatten.  Meanwhile enjoy your advantage because low inventory doesn’t look like it’s going to end any time soon.

Real estate is changing and that’s a good thing.  The market is healthy and will remain so for the foreseeable future.  If you want to know about your specific market needs, call or text me at 201-741-8490.