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.

 

Posted by & filed under Buying, Homeowner Tips.

Get your house ready for winterGet your house ready for winter now.  Doing just a few basic maintenance items will avoid huge and expensive problems later on.

Your Furnace

Have a professional heating contractor clean and service your furnace.  A well maintained furnace usually lasts longer than it’s rating, is more energy efficient and doesn’t break down during the heating season.

PSEG has a great maintenance program for a standard gas furnace at $8.99 per month.  Go to PSEG’s website  and scroll down for the furnace only option.  There are also many heating contractors who offer maintenance programs too.

Have your furnace and hot water heater exhaust pipes checked too.  If something’s not right, carbon monoxide gas can back up and enter your home.

Gutters & Roof

Because gutters are a key part of water management, they are critical to your home’s health.  Make sure your gutters are clean and down spouts run as they should.  Speaking of down spouts, be sure that they discharge water away from your house.

Roofs take a beating in winter weather.  Call a roof repair company in to inspect your roof for problems.  Small repairs now avoid major leaks later.  roof shingle repair

Lawns & Bushes

Rake, mow, water and fertilize your lawn and shrubs as needed.  You can speak to your landscaper about fertilizer or go to a local nursery.  Also ask about pruning shrubs.

Tree Care & Power Lines

Trees need care too before the winter.  Click Here to read my blog article on this.  Even though it talks about spring time, it applies to the Fall too.

Power lines snap during winter storms because tree branches hit or fall on them.  Read this blog article that gives you advice on what to do.

Equipment

Make sure your snow blower, shovels etc. are in good working order.  When it’s no longer time to mow the lawn, get your lawn mower serviced and clean/put away your gardening tools.  Get a supply of ice melt too.

Sealing Your House

Weather proofing and sealing up your home is always a good idea both inside and out.  If you’ve lived in your home through at least 1 winter, you pretty much know where the problems are.  You can call in a contractor and also check out PSEG’s website on this.

downed power linesDon’t forget about insulation.  You may need to add some.  Call in a contractor if you’re not expert on this.  You need the right placement and the right type.

Get your house ready for winter now.  This avoids havoc and saves you thousands in unwanted repairs.  Need more help?  Need a contractor?  Call me at 201-741-8490.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted by & filed under Buying.

white picket fenceRush Hour Traffic and House Shopping

Rush hour traffic is not on your mind when you’re out looking at homes.  Sunday afternoons are filled with open houses during which you look at a host of homes for sale in just a few hours.

When you get more serious you’re out with an agent on Saturdays as well.  Summer is great because sunlight lasts longer making it possible to look after work too.  This entire time rush hour traffic is never on your mind.

Why?  Because you’re looking when it’s quiet and your focus is on a house.

New York City commuter traffic is famously awful as it is as every other major city.  Highways become clogged with cars.  Drivers also use local streets as alternate routes and for short cuts.  This is what you should check out in your home’s location.

Leonia NJ

leonia

Leonia NJ is next to the George Washington Bridge.  Without traffic you can be in NYC in 10-15 minutes.  At rush hour the town streets were filled with commuting drivers.  Residents became so fed up that Leonia fought back by making it illegal to use their local side streets for commuting.

Leonia’s situation is extreme but commuting does affect all of Bergen County.  As a result, it’s important to take rush hour traffic into consideration when buying a home.

Make sure that quiet street on Sunday afternoon isn’t a commuting shortcut on Monday Morning.  Go back at rush hour in the morning and afternoon to see what happens.

To be fair, Leonia is a great place to live.  Although next to the GW Bridge, it has maintained it’s decidedly small town ambiance and is filled with charming, picturesque streets.  It also has a terrific school district and a vibrant business district.

It’s perfectly OK to live on a busy street.  I grew up on one.  You buy a much better home on busy streets.  What’s not all right is being surprised that your street is busy after you move in.  So check out rush hour traffic along with everything else.

Posted by & filed under Selling.

cancelled contractQualifying Buyers for Homeowners

Qualifying buyers for homeowners is serious business.  What I am going to write now may be harsh but it needs to be said.

No home should be shown to anyone who is not able to buy it.  No contract should be written or accepted from a buyer who can’t get financing.  This is irresponsible and unprofessional behavior with horrible consequences for a seller.  It does happen unfortunately.

Recent Examples

Here is what I heard about recently:

A closing was cancelled 2 weeks before the sale because the buyer did not qualify for a mortgage.

A luxury home was shown to a buyer who is a fraud.  Another was in contract before the buyer was found to be financially incapable.

A cash buyer wasn’t.  He was getting a mortgage all along.  As a result the quick closing the seller expected never happened.

A buyer didn’t admit he needed a co-signer until after Attorney Review.

The Effect on a Seller

When a home loses a contract, it rarely gets as much again.  The home’s value has diminished in the public eye so offers that come in next are lower.

There is the cost of lost time because every day a home is on the market is a real cost to a seller.

There can also be legal expenses for a seller depending on how much work the attorney did.

Don’t dismiss the very significant cost of disappointment.  This to me is the worst cost of all.

Due Diligence

Both buyer and seller agents need to do their due diligence on every buyer and every contract.  Beware of these:

Pre-approvals are often not real.  It’s a semantic game some banks play.  They define meaningless pre-qualifications as pre-approvals.

It is a pain in the neck to obtain a real pre-approval so a “don’t rock the boat” mentality sets in.  Better to keep a buyer happy; work on it after you have them in contract.  As a result mistakes are made.

Agents can be intimidated by high price ranges and rely on what a luxury buyer tells them.  This is always unacceptable.

There are also frauds at the high end.  I guess some just like to look at high end homes and others have more malevolent intentions.  Either way you can’t let them in and you can’t write up an offer if you do not know for sure that they are legitimate buyers.

My Experiences

Here are some of my own recent experiences:

A man called me saying he wanted to buy a home at $5-7 million.  Searching on my own I discovered that he lived  in a 2nd floor apartment over a local store in Maine and was unemployed.  My buddy who does forensic searches found that he’s been calling up agents all over the US for years pretending to be a high end buyer.

Another buyer wanted to purchase around $2 million.  He had plenty of income but too much debt because he had so many investment properties.  No bank would loan him.

I had to tell a young couple that they could not get a mortgage.  These folks were “pre approved” by a website.

The Bottom Line

I meet buyers every year who have been “pre-approved” but can’t get a mortgage.  I also receive contracts on listings from unqualified buyers.  Because I’m so careful I’ve never had a homeowner lose a contract over financing.

Qualifying buyers for homeowners is indeed serious business.  Don’t accept any offer unless you are sure of your buyer’s credentials.  When you interview listing agents, quiz them about how they qualify buyers.

Call me at 201-741-8490 if you’d like to discuss this further or need help.

 

 

 

 

 

Posted by & filed under Bergen County LIfe.

The Westwood Craft and Antique Show is THIS SUNDAY.  If you’re in Bergen County and have nothing special to do all day, come to Westwood NJ.  Because it’s nearly the end of August, many folks are home after taking their children to college or picking their kids up from camp.  As a result, having something to do the weekend before Labor Day can be a challenge.  Here’s your solution.  Read this article on My Bergen with all the information on this show.

If you want to know what’s going on, a great resource is the My Bergen website.  I use this site often to find things to do and you’ll love it.  Every fall we have a lot of outdoor fairs and shows throughout Bergen County.  The Westwood Craft and Antique Show is a great way to start this off.

This show is so popular that it attracts a large crowd.  There’s something for everyone at this outdoor show and the weather will be perfect.  You will have fun just walking around,  looking at all the vendor tables.  A big plus is that you can learn a lot about antiques and crafts too.  Don’t forget to read the article – it tells you when you can get free appraisals.

The fall is a time of year when there are a lot of outdoor fairs in Bergen County.  If you follow my page on Facebook you’ll find that I’ll be posting about them.  So go to my Facebook business page if you want or just go to the My Bergen website.

While you’re at the Westwood Craft and Antique Fair you might also want to include something else nearby.  Book a tee time for a round of golf at the Valley Brook Golf Course in River Vale  There’s also 2 local parks where you’ll find walking trails, playgrounds and dog runs.  Check out Westvale Park where there is a great dog park separating large and small dogs and at Brookside Park you can even go fishing.  Westwood’s Borough Website has a page just for it’s parks so take a look.

No matter what you choose to do, there’s plenty of great options in Westwood NJ.  Plus there are several terrific restaurants and an open Trader Joe’s too!

 

 

Posted by & filed under Bergen County LIfe.

hot dogs in bergen countyHot dogs in Bergen County

Hot dogs are popular in Bergen County.  Because they are so popular here we have many hot dog restaurants that are legendary.  Most span decades of gastronomic success and some have even been endorsed by celebrities.  Whether snow’s on the ground or the sun is baking at 90 degrees, we love our hot dog spots.

Some Local Spots to Try Out

I think the most well known is Hiram’s in Fort Lee.  There used to be 2 hot dog stands with a fierce rivalry between them – Hirams and Callahan’s.  They were next to each other when I grew up.  Callahan’s has relocated but Hiram’s is still here.  It’s a step back in time as are so many of these.  Hiram’s is as great as it’s always been.

Fort Lee property became so valuable that Callahan’s had to move when the lot was sold.  They’ve relocated to Norwood and nothing else has changed.  It’s still the same deep fried deliciousness that I hot dogs in bergen countyremember as a teenager.

The cutest hot dog stand ever is the Hot Dog Caboose.  It’s in a real train caboose and it’s painted that wonderful crimson red color.  Located in Midland Park it’s been the place to go for the southwest corner of Bergen County. They have outside tables when the weather permits as well.

Jolly Nick’s (201-501-0889) is a Dumont institution.  Have you ever eaten their chilli dog?  It’s amazing.  I also love their onion rings.  The original owner retired years ago; now his son does the cooking.  Small and cute Jolly Nick’s deserves a visit.

Johnny and Hanges opened on the day that Lou Gehrig announced his retirement in Yankee Stadium in 1939.  It’s modern reincarnation in Fair Lawn has maintained the original recipe for it’s famous chilli sauce.  It’s as popular today as it was nearly 80 years ago.

Highway Road Stands

If you’re driving on Route 17 South near Carlstadt and East Rutherford stop in at The Hot Dog House (201-935-5803).  This small family run establishment has been around for years with a loyal following.  Not open for dinner but try it for lunch.

hot dogs in bergen countyRoute 46 East in Lodi is where you’ll find Hank’s Franks (973-473-8589).  This is another local favorite that is famous for its big selection of homemade toppings as well as terriific sauerkraut.  Like The Hot Dog House these hot dog stands are what we used to call truck stops when I was growing up.  Truck stops always meant great food reasonably priced.

Not in Bergen County But….

You can’t talk about hot dogs without mentioning Rutt’s Hut.  Even though it’s located in neighboring Clifton many people here swear by it.  Famous and often voted #1 in northern New Jersey, you really have to experience it at least once.

I’m sure you’ll agree by now that hot dogs are very popular in Bergen County.  While you’re here go get a dog at any of these places – you won’t be disappointed.