Posted by & filed under Bergen County LIfe, Buying, Selling.

new jersey smoke detector requirementsNew Jersey smoke detector requirements changed this year and it’s a good thing.  I’m writing this blog article because almost everyone I’ve bumped into knows nothing about this.

The Scope of Things

Smoke detectors are not required to be wired in to homes built before 1977.  Doing a quick search in the New Jersey MLS, you find that around 65% of all single family homes on the market were built before 1977.  My guess is that this is pretty representative of how things really are.

Doing a search for new construction finds that this is 12% of the inventory.  What’s left is 23% of existing homes.  Almost all of these homes, in my experience, do not have a wired in smoke alarm system.  They are required to install one if they do a big enough renovation or expansion.

Of course there’s no way to know how many did.  We have a big need need for 10 year sealed battery units because Bergen County is huge with over 948,000 residents.

The US Census says we have 357,520 housing units.  This includes single family homes, apartments, multi family homes etc.  As a result that’s a lot of housing potentially needing smoke detectors or a smoke alarm system if we use the NJMLS new homes 12%.  Since we really can’t know for sure, if only half need smoke detectors that’s 178,760.

What Changed and Why

It seems that every week we see a news report about a massive fire.  People are rescued, sent to shelters, helped by the Red Cross because they’ve lost everything, firemen get hurt etc.  It happens all the time.

You also see reported that there were smoke detectors in the house but they weren’t working.  Very often the reason they did not work is because the batteries had been removed.  As a result of all this a change was needed.

As of Jan 1, 2019 the New Jersey State Building Code requires all residences built before 1977 to have 10 year sealed battery smoke detectors installed.  In Bergen County this has now been expanded to all residences without a wired in smoke alarm system.

How This Affects You

If you are selling or renting a residential property, New Jersey requires a Fire Code Certificate.  This requires battery operated or wired in smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors by bedrooms and a fire extinguisher near or in a kitchen.  You can not use the less expensive units with batteries that lasted barely 1 year.  New Jersey smoke detector requirements now mean a 10 year sealed battery unit if you don’t have a wired in system.

So how much more with this cost a property owner?  Not a lot.  It’s only a few dollars more per unit.  This is well worth it because of the increased safety these units bring.

Get one of these new units and install it.  Don’t gamble with your safety because the risk far outweighs the cost of a 10 year battery sealed smoke detector.

Need help?  Just get in touch with me.

 

 

 

 

Posted by & filed under Buying.

How to find school informationHow to find school information is a question I hear often.  Most of my customers are families with children so information on Bergen County schools is important.  Let’s find out about this.

Be Careful of What You Find

Everyone goes online to do research.  Whether it’s about buying a home or checking out the best price for a PC, we all do it.  The problem with this is that not all websites are valid.  It’s worth remembering that every time you click on a commercial website, that site makes money.  It’s also worth remembering that anyone can put up a website and publish information that’s not properly verified.

I have no doubt this is true about some school information websites.  There are so many school rating websites out there that it’s easy to be misled.  How  do those websites rate schools – by what protocol?  What I can tell you is that a lot of those websites have information based on standards I wouldn’t believe.  A very popular website uses parent reviews.  How does this make sense?  If a child doesn’t do well in a class, can you imagine the parents writing a good review on that school?

Where To Go For School Information

The State of New Jersey is the best and most comprehensive source of school information.  The New Jersey School Performance Report surveys every school district in the State.  This information is updated every 2 years.  I have all of this on my website.

Another great source of information are the schools themselves.  These websites can give you a good insight into a school along with valuable information. I have a link to every Bergen County school website.  Just scroll down this page and you’ll find “Local School Links” to every Bergen County school site.

New Jersey Monthly Magazine  has a very popular bi-annual report that rates the top high schools in New Jersey.  They are also completely transparent in how they do this because they publish how they rate schools.  This report is a very popular report and sells out in hours even though it’s online too.

Your Bergen County School Choice

I know that there are several popular school rating websites.  However I encourage you to use the New Jersey School Performance Report.  It’s on my website and you’ll also find a link to technical schools too.  Please consider this – a school district is more than SAT or ACT scores.  Bergen County is renown for the strength of our public schools.  No matter where you buy a Bergen County home, you’ll find a fine school district.

 

 

Posted by & filed under Bergen County LIfe.

softballOne of the really terrific advantages of living in any Bergen County town are the varied activities available to you.  From infants to senior citizens it seems that there’s something going on every week.  Now that Major League Baseball has begun and Little League is about to get underway, it’s natural to look forward to afternoons at the ball park enjoying our National Pastime with a hot dog and a soda.

Unfortunately for adult ladies watching is the operative word.  While there are plenty of men’s softball leagues, women haven’t had the same opportunities up until recently.  There’s a change that came for many from New Milford, NJ.

New Milford has a relatively new women’s softball league. Among the requirements are that you must be a New Milford resident and 30 years of age or older.  New Milford calls this a “fun league” and also posts on it’s website that it’s “regardless of skill level”.  I don’t think it matters how much over 30 you are and best of all for many of us, any degree of talent allowed!

This promises to be a lively softball league.  The schedule is very convenient because games will be played on Sundays.  They anticipate that this will run some time from mid May to August every year.  For the 2019 season, it starts on June 2nd  through the last Sunday in July (the 27th).  So if your sister, mom or grandmother has been looking at her other half of the family from the sidelines, she doesn’t have to any longer in New Milford.

New Milford is saying to all of it’s adult 30+ ladies “Batter up – let’s play softball!”

I wrote this article in 2017 based on information I had then.  Maura Henyecz contacted me to say that there are mistakes in my article.  Maura is the Assistant Director of New Milford’s Recreation Department.  Because Maura let me know this, I made changes.  Thank you Maura!

Posted by & filed under Buying.

radon and rainRadon and rain aren’t always a good combination.  Rain may or may not affect radon levels.  Because of this, you can have an issue during your home inspection.  You will also want to know about this as a homeowner.  Let me explain what just happened during a home inspection on a listing of mine.

What Is Radon

Let’s start with what is radon?  An expert in the field is Radata.  Radata is a company that’s been in the radon testing and mitigation business since 1984.  Here is their definition of radon:

“Radon is an odorless, tasteless and colorless gas formed by the natural radioactive breakdown of uranium in soil, rock, and water.  The radon outdoors is diluted by fresh air, but radon can penetrate any type of building, become trapped and can increase to high levels.”

Radon causes lung cancer.  The National Cancer Institute has an entire section on radon.  Since radon causes cancer, every home inspection should include a radon test.  If the test shows a level of 4 pico curies or less, this is considered an acceptable level.  Radon is not just in Bergen County – it occurs all over the US.

Radon and Rain

Radon fluctuates.  It’s not at the same level every day of the year.  Weather has a direct impact on radon levels in your home as well as other things.  The best explanation I found on this comes from a Littleton Colorado radon company website.  They explain how radon and rain sometimes don’t mix.  Light rain has no effect but downpours do.  I just dealt with this issue on a listing.

My homeowner has lived in the house for 20 years.  When they did their purchase home inspection, radon test results were 2.9 pico curies.  Their buyer did home inspections 1 week ago when we had days of heavy downpours.  Radon test results came back with an unacceptable 4.3 pico curies.

Susana G. Manna, Esq., is an outstanding attorney in Closter NJ.  With Susana’s help, I was able to convince the buyer and their agent to re-test the house.  Because of the heavy rain conditions which I argued invalidated the results, I was able to have the home inspector re-test with no additional cost to the buyer.  We just got the results of the 2nd test – 2.8 pico curies.

Radon Testing

What is important to take away from this is that radon testing can be affected by weather.  Talk to your home inspector about this.  He is the expert – not me.  You want to live in a healthy environment so always make a radon test part of your inspection.  If you own a home, why not test periodically?

If you have any questions or need advice, you can always contact me.  Also, if you want to call Susana G. Manna, Esq, her phone number is 201-750-7564.

Posted by & filed under Bergen County LIfe.

What’s happening this weekend is a question I get frequently.  Let’s see what’s happening this weekend in Bergen County and nearby that’s fun.  Weather predictions are for great weather – sunny all weekend with moderate temperatures.  So here goes:

a streetcar named desireA Streetcar Named Desire

The Bergen County Players begins it’s run of the most famous Tennesee Williams play, A Streetcar Name Desire.   Award winning, acclaimed and offered to the public countless times since it was first presented on Broadway, it opens this Saturday night and tickets are still available.  This is such an intimate theater that no matter where you sit, the view is great.  Tickets are only $21 or $17 each depending on the performance.

Bogota Golf and Sports Centermini golf

There is something for everyone here – batting cages, a driving range and mini golf are all open at this family oriented facility year round.  Call up the Bogota Golf and Sports Center to see if their winter special on driving range pricing is still going on.  Whether or not, this is a place where everyone can find something fun to  do.

Spring Campfire at The Tenafly Nature Center

Have you ever had a s’more that didn’t come out of a micro wave oven?   You are in for a treat because this Saturday night is the Tenafly Nature Center’s Spring Campfire event.  You will indeed roast marshmallows over an open fire and make yourself delicious, gooey s’mores while listening to all roasting marshmallowssorts of fun stories by an open fire.  So make a reservation and have fun!

Wayne Valley Spring Craft Fair

A really big crafts fair is coming this Sunday to the Wayne Valley High School at 551 Valley Road in Wayne NJ.  Sponsored by the Wayne PTO and promoted by PJ”s Promotions, this annual fundraiser is a major crafts event in our general area.  Over 100 exhibitors will be there at this highly popular show which runs from 10 to 5 pm.  Admission is $3 and there’s also food – breakfast, lunch and a bake sale.  This show has been going on annually for over 20 years according to PJ’s write up.

Bergen County Parks

Year round we have great parks to do all sorts of outdoor activities in.  Weather looks good so take a walk or hike, bring kids to the playgrounds, use a bike path, visit the zoo or just hang out in the sun.  There are so many wonderful County Parks all over Bergen County to enjoy.  Because we are transitioning over from winter to spring, some parts of the County website aren’t working.  Call or text me at 201-741-8490 if you need help in finding a County Park that’s near you.

 

 

Posted by & filed under Buying, Selling.

is is still a seller's marketIs it still a seller’s market in Bergen County?  The answer is that it depends.

Analyzing The Market

Because residential real estate is seasonal, it’s necessary to compare month to month.  While it’s also instructive to look at annual data, you can spot trends comparing month to month.

Over half of all single family homes are sold to families with school aged children.  As a result, it’s a seasonal market and most closings occur between June and mid August.  This is why the first quarter of each year gives you the picture for the year ahead.

Where We Are So Far

Where we are is recovered.  Mortgage rate increases began in late summer and culminated at 4.94% by November.  This upset home buyers and stalled the market.  However, rates then tumbled down and by January had dropped to 4.35%.

Home buyers came back and came back with a sense of urgency.  They see now as an opportunity to grab lower rates before they go up for good later in the year.  As a result, they’re out in force.

Comparing 2019 to 2018, January closings were flat while February was up 7%.  This makes a lot of sense because sales today originated 2-3 months before.  February closings originated when rates were lower.

Under Contract figures also demonstrate recovery.  January rose 5% and February 9%.  Because it typically takes 7-10 days to get a home Under Contract, this data originated when rates increasingly dropped.

The Year Ahead

The year ahead will have challenges for buyers and sellers alike.  Today the NJMLS has 1,987 homes fully available for sale (2,318 – 331 with accepted offers).  This is about 1,000 less than you’d expect.  With so few for sale there will be less closings this year.

Millennials make up the biggest group of home buyers.  They see homes as a lifestyle, not as an investment and are fed up with renting.  While millennials want to take advantage of low rates, they will still wait to get what they want.   As a result the days of ferocious bidding wars are pretty much over and appreciation will be moderate.

Is it still a seller’s market in Bergen County?  Yes but to a limited degree.  Low inventory will maintain appreciation albeit at a moderate level.  Buyers win with low mortgage rates keeping homes affordable for the spring market.  So there’s positives for both sides.  The bottom line?  Another good year for home sales in Bergen County.

Posted by & filed under Buying.

How do you know which town is right for you?  You can change the house, knock it down and build new, expand it or just keep it.  What you can not change is the land or where the house is located.  As a result, buying a home involves choosing a town.  You need to figure out which town is right for you.

70 Bergen County Towns

Bergen County has 70 different towns.  We have small hamlets, urban neighborhoods and country areas with horses.  Prices go from around $150,000 to just under $30 million.  Styles range from antique colonials to modern grand scale mansions.  While having so many choices is great, it can also be overwhelming.  Let’s figure out which town is right for you now.

Doing The Right Financials

Begin with an identified budget.  I know you do this online but online pre-approvals are often quite preliminary.  How come?  Because online systems usually lack accurate property tax and home insurance costs for a local area.

As a result, you don’t have a budget you can safely rely on.  A great banker is also an advisor.  He/She will listen to your needs and together you create a budget that is right for you.  Rick Casatelli in my office does this brilliantly.

Identifying Your Needs

Over half of all home buyers are families with children.  As a result, schools are very important to them.  I have an entire section on Bergen County’s schools to help you.

Getting to work is the other top consideration for most home buyers.  Do you drive to work?  If so you need a town that’s accessible to highways.  Do you use public transportation?  Use New Jersey Transit’s website  Put in a home’s address and they’ll tell you how to commute.

Relatives can be another consideration if they live here.  Is it important to be near them?  Bergen County is big – it can take just under 1 hour to go from one end to the other.

Your Choices

Once you’ve identified a budget and locations that work for you, then together with your agent you’ll find the right towns.  Once you do, you’ll find the right house too!

If you want my help, just contact me today

Posted by & filed under Bergen County LIfe.

Happy St Patrick's DayGet ready to wear green because it’s time for the Bergen County St Patrick’s Day Parade!  It’s the 38th year this popular parade is being held in, of course, Bergenfield.  The parade will begin at 2 pm and end at 4 pm or there about.  An annual tradition, it brings out thousands of people rain or shine every year and this Sunday will be no different.

The 2019 Grand Marshal is Patsy McLoughlin because of her contributions to Irish culture and Irish dance.  Patsy is the owner of McLoughlin School of Irish Dance.  For over 50 years her school has promoted Irish dance and she’s been a force in Bergen County’s Irish community.  This is a very well deserved honor.

The day begins with The Flag Raising Ceremony at 1 pm at the Roy Brown Middle School on Washington Ave.  The Parade then takes off from there at 2 pm.

Bergen County’s St Patrick’s Day Parade features Irish dancing by both children and adults, at least 3 bagpipe bands, antique cars, live music and more.  It really is a lot of fun.  Irish dance

Bergen County has a proud and strong Irish community.  Because there are so many people of Irish descent in Bergenfield the parade has always been held here.  Statewide, 10% of New Jersey residents have an Irish heritage according to Wikipedia.

So come on out this Sunday, March 10th, and enjoy the Bergen County St Patrick’s Day Parade.  Afterwards have a meal at one of our great local Irish restaurants – Tommy Fox’s Public House in Bergenfield or Biddy O’Malley’s in Englewood or Northvale.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted by & filed under Buying.

negotiating mistakesNegotiating mistakes that lose the house for a buyer are heartbreaking.  Imagine what it’s like to think you have finally found your new home only to learn you haven’t.  This just happened on my listing in Fair Lawn.  I want to tell you this story so it never happens to you.

Timing

There is an adage in real estate – time loses deals.  This is especially true today because there aren’t enough homes for sale.  As a result, the market favors the seller, not the buyer.

If you are competing against other home buyers for a house, is it a good idea to take a few days to get a contract to a seller?  Or is it better to act quickly?

While I realize this may seem obvious, timing is important for more reasons than you may expect.  When you are in a seller’s market, you must be completely prepared to act immediately.  It’s a race and you want to win.

Homeowners are impressed when a buyer looks at their house and delivers a sales contract within hours.  Timing an offer so quickly displays decisive action.  It definitely gives you a leg up.

Taking your time does the opposite.  It creates doubt in a homeowner’s mind because they rightly wonder if you are sincerely interested.  This is always a mistake.

Negotiating Mistakes in Fair Lawn

What happened in Fair Lawn is that a young couple who fell in love with my listing lost it.  They lost it for the most unacceptable of reasons.  It took several days to send in the final contract offer.

We negotiated price and terms concluding mid-day on a Friday.  I told the buyer’s agent that I will get the contract signed as soon as I could once I received it.  The answer was “I’ll get it to you  on Monday.”

I was shocked by this.  Why would the buyer wait?  The logical deduction was to keep shopping over the weekend.  At least that’s how this delay was interpreted by the seller.  It was also interpreted as a lack of commitment.  As a result, the buyer lost credibility with the seller.

By the time the buyer’s contract arrived on Monday, my listing had been shown 41 times (36 at Sunday’s open house) and a better offer arrived.  It was of course accepted.

Don’t let this happen to you.  Avoid negotiating mistakes.  When you find the house you want, move quickly and aggressively.  Impress the seller and leave the others behind.

If you want to discuss this further, just call or text me at 201-741-8490.

 

 

Posted by & filed under Buying.

0-34 Morlot Ave

A Special Fair Lawn Home For Sale

Pristine condition is what you’ll find in this beautiful family home.  It is a rare combination of traditional elegance and modern space.  You step inside to be greeted by an elegant formal living room.  This leads to the open floor plan kitchen and dining room space.  Because you have a unique combination of 2 distinct styles, this is indeed a very special home.

Custom Kitchen with Hi End Materials

Kitchens are the heart of any home.  This one is so beautiful that it truly is nothing like you’ve ever seen.  Magnificent walls of custom cherry cabinetry, gorgeous Italian tile, beautiful granite counter tops and a large center island are all here for you.  There is even a full sized Avanti wine refrigerator.  0-34 Morlot Ave

Light pours in through the sliding glass doors that lead to the deck outside.  As a result, even overcast days are bright inside. This magnificent room is highly functional.

While this is a modern floor plan, you are not overwhelmed by the wide open space.  Additionally the center island perfectly separates the kitchen and dining areas.

Because this room is created out of natural materials, it is both modern and warm.  Moreover the traditional part of this level is as charming as the kitchen area is dramatic.  As a result, 0-34 Morlot Ave captures your heart immediately.

0-34 morlotDetailed House Features

0-34 Morlot Ave is offered at $459,000 and has separate hot water heat and central air conditioning.  Taxes are $9,699 and lot size is 65 x 102.  There is a 1 car attached garage with an automatic door.  Bathrooms are updated and the outside deck is made of composite material.

There are 2 nice bedrooms on the main floor.  Upstairs is a 3rd bedroom plus walk in attic storage.  Additionally there is a generous sized rec room in the basement with a dry bar.  This is a terrific space set up for 2 uses – home theater and relaxing with friends.

In conclusion, this is a great family home with good space and pristine condition.