Posted by & filed under Bergen County LIfe.

grazing horse

Bergen County is 1 mile across the river from Manhattan.  I bet you don’t expect horseback riding here.  Not next to New York City of course.  You are in for a happy surprise because Bergen County has great horseback riding.

There are excellent County run and private stables all over Bergen County.  No matter where you own a home, riding a horse is not far away.  Horseback riding is also year round weather permitting.

The County itself has 2 terrific facilities – Bergen Equestrian Center in Leonia and Saddle Ridge Riding Center in Franklin Lakes.  You can board horses, take lessons or just enjoy a ride.  Both have summer camps and programs for younger folks.

Want to book a pony party for a child’s birthday?  Check out Ironside Farm in Paramus.  Ironside Farm is on the Bergen County website because it’s conveniently located in Van Saun County Park.  They also offer pony rides and a summer camp for childPony Power Therapiesren.

Pony Power Therapies is a non-profit organization in Mahwah giving children and adults who are at risk or have special needs a unique opportunity to ride, care for and interact with horses.

Winter Haven Equestrian Center is a family run operation.  It is located on the western edge of the county in Oakland.  You can board your horse, enjoy a ride or take lessons in competitive and recreational riding.  In addition to an acre outdoor sand arena there is an indoor riding arena ideal for year round riding.Winter Haven Equestrian Center

Rockleigh Equestrian Centre is at the northeastern end of Bergen County in Rockleigh.  Their website has a separate section for adults, teens and kids.  You will find lessons, boarding, a summer riding program and even supervised cross country jumps for qualified riders.
Rockleigh Equestrian Centre

 

Both Winter Haven and Rockleigh offer leasing programs.  If you’re not committed to owning a horse but want more than a training pony, this may be right up your alley.

Ramapo Saddlery has everything you need to outfit yourself and your horse.  From boots to horse treats it’s a great tack shop that also has other sportswear and exercise items too.Ramapo Saddlery tack shop

Horseback riding is just another reason why Bergen County is such a great place to live.

 

 

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Posted by & filed under Selling.

The New Jersey realty transfer fee, aka the real estate transfer tax, is not always understood by home sellers.  It should be explained early on because you can’t get an accurate idea of your net proceeds without it.

This is important because most sellers want an idea of what they’ll net.  Homeowners don’t always get this information early on and that’s unfortunate.  As a result, the transfer fee can be an unhappy surprise just before the closing.

I blame both agents and attorneys.  Since real estate agents don’t set closing costs or do the actual closing, they’re often uncomfortable with this.  Closing costs are figured by the bank, title company and attorneys.  Real estate agents manage the transaction; lawyers, banks and title companies do the closing.

If a seller uses an attorney I recommend, I defer to that attorney.  If not then I do my best to explain closing costs although I’m no substitute for an attorney.

The New Jersey realty transfer fee is essentially a sales tax on your home.  It’s less than the NJ State Sales Tax of 7%.  You will want to calculate this because it comes to several thousand dollars.  

The realty transfer fee is based on the sales price of a home.  Here’s an easy calculator for you to use from the NJ Realtor Association.  All you have to do is to fill in the price and click on Calculate to get the figure.

The average sales price in Bergen County is around $499,000.  If we put that into the calculator, the transfer fee comes to $4,165.  If NJ were to apply it’s 7% sales tax the figure would be $34,930.  So while it’s not fun it is a whole lot better.

 

 

Posted by & filed under Buying.

The home inspection was awful – what do I do?

Sometimes serious problems are discovered during your home inspection.  This is always a big disappointment.  Think of what you’ve gone through.

Months of looking online.  Sunday afternoons going to open houses.  Trips with your agent to see houses.  The excitement and anxiety of making an offer.  Going through the Attorney Review process.  Looking forward to moving in and the house flunks inspection?

The home inspection was awful – what do I do? is the question you ask.  How you handle this is extremely important.  Here is what I typically advise:

  1. Go home and think it over.  Your initial reaction is emotional.  As they say cooler heads prevail.
  2. Wait for the written inspection report which arrives in 24-48 hours
  3. Consult with your attorney (and your realtor if you wish).
  4. Get estimates for fixing what’s wrong.
  5. Negotiate with the seller for repairs or credits.
  6. Decide after negotiations have reached their end whether or not you want to proceed.

While the focus is often on negotiating with the seller for repairs and/or credits, this is not what really counts.  Most of all do you still want the house even if the seller is willing to do things.

Buying a house is not just dollars and cents.  It’s your home.  As a result, if the problems found are so upsetting that you no longer want to live there, cancel the contract.

Furthermore there’s your budget.  Seller concessions rarely equal the cost of repairs.  Therefore if the cost is too high, you’ll probably cancel for this reason alone.

At the same time, over reacting can lose you a house you’ll regret for years.  Why?  Because prices continue to rise albeit slowly.  Hence the next house might be a bit more expensive or not have as many features.

The answer to The home inspection was awful – what do I do? is to carefully think it over, read the inspection report, listen to your attorney and then proceed as you wish.

If you decide that the problems are just too much for you, move on to another home.  If you are satisfied with the seller’s concessions, be happy that issues were found before you own it.

 

 

Posted by & filed under Bergen County LIfe.

Bergen County is not the focus of most home buyers. Buyers focus on the towns they’re considering because that’s what’s most important to them.  This makes perfect sense of course.

They’re not alone.  Most homeowners and residents don’t know much about the County they live in either.  As a result if you were to ask anyone you meet here how many people live in Bergen County, I bet they’d answer “A lot.”

The scale of this place is huge.  There are 70 different municipalities.  Each has it’s own personality.  We are also a highly diverse place.  While many counties in the US have a distinct flavor, we are a rainbow of options and choices.  If you only focus on a few towns, you’ll miss so much of what we have to offer.  Let’s take a look.

The US Census Bureau says that 939,151 people live here.  That’s nearly 1 million people packed into 246.61 square miles.  This makes us the most populous County in New Jersey.

Known as a bedroom community to NYC, the truth is that most people here don’t work in NYC. Half work in Bergen County and 15% commute to NYC.

Education is big.  We have a well deserved reputation for outstanding public school systems.   New Jersey Monthly Magazine  publishes a list of the top high NJ high schools every 2 years.  Bergen County has 22% of the top 50 which is more than any other County.

We are also very well educated because 91.6% of us graduated high school and 46.9% are college graduates.  As a result, we have the highest  median household income in the State at $85,806.

There are 9,000 acres of County Parks.  As a result it’s easy to see why Bergen County is so beautiful when you add in all the town parks and nature preserves.

Speaking of County Parks, we have golf courses, winter ski slopes, horseback riding, hiking trails, a zoo and more.

Diversity is amazing.  Did you know that the town in the US with the highest percentage of Korean Americans is Palisades Park?  That 18.5% of us are Italian Americans?  That Poland, South Korea and India are where most of our foreign born citizens come from?  About 20% of us are of Hispanic origin.  We have a large Jewish population too as well as African American.

Even people from my background – Armenian – have a sizable population.  I bet there is not 1 country missing here in our population.  The diversity of Bergen County is at times staggering.  Walk into a supermarket – it’s a kaleidoscope of cultures.

The diversity of Bergen County is wonderful in both what it has to offer in real estate and it’s people.  This is why Bergen County is both a dynamic and terrific place to live.  Come join us – you’ll love living here.

Posted by & filed under Selling.

Selling your home?  Getting your house ready is a big part of your success.  Let’s start with condition.

You’ve probably heard that it’s a seller’s market because Bergen County homes are in high demand.  While this is true it also misses the point.

The only thing that matters is how much you get for your house.  Condition will lift you high or devastate you in any real estate market.  So let’s get ready for the heights!

If your home is like almost all others, condition is something to be carefully considered. Most of all you want to add value so consequently whatever is done must make sense.

Most homeowners live with things for years that they just don’t see.  You get used to it or it doesn’t matter.  Selling a house makes it matter because condition issues steal value from you.Power Washing

Opening windows and airing a house out can do wonders.  How a house smells is a condition issue.  So open your windows and let fresh air in.

Odors will kill you.  Dogs get a bath.  Rugs need shampooing.  Oven vents should be cleaned.  Air scents need to be trashed.  Examine your home carefully.

Do you have a damp basement?  Water penetration may not be the issue.  What about those old basement windows that no longer open and the missing dehumidifier.  Get a dehumidifier and turn it on.  Forget the windows because once opened, they may not close.

Check your leaders and gutters. Overflowing gutters pour water into your foundation and create stains. Consequently gutters appear dirty and unattractive. Clean and power wash them so they operate properly and shine.

Power washing is always a good idea if your home’s exterior works with this.  Sidewalks and patios are helped too.

Look at your bathrooms.  Re-caulk the bath tub and steam clean the tiles because this will make it pop.

ProfessionCleaning Windowsal cleaning services are the best idea. They know how to get a house ready for the market. As a result, this is very cost effective.  Furthermore they get it done in quickly.

Cleaning windows is a must.  I wrote an entire article just on cleaning windows. because it’s so very important.

Wood floors are a huge deal with buyers therefore polish them up.  Covered with old carpet?  Almost always it’s smart to remove it.  This is a judgement call on your part.

Decide what’s best based on your budget and what adds the most value.  Selling your home is also getting your home ready.  You want the best price so pay attention to condition and put your best foot forward!

Thinking of selling your home?  Find out more about selling from Barbara here. 

 

Posted by & filed under Bergen County LIfe.

Northern Valley Earth FairThe Northern Valley Earth Fair is this weekend.  It’s going to be an amazing event.

Closter, Cresskill, Demarest, Norwood, Old Tappan and Tenafly worked together to create what is one of the most popular local fairs of the year.

The Northern Valley Earth Fair is really a festival.  It’s both a learning experience and fun filled day.   From youngsters to seniors, there’s something for everyone.  Because of it’s wide appeal, turnout is great.

The focus of this festival is learning about and appreciating the environment.  This is accomplished in entertaining ways.

Children enjoy a live animal petting zoo.  There’s a car show made up of green and hybrid cars.  You can learn how to become a bee keeper.  A walk along the Tenakill Brook teaches how to check the health of a stream. Owls and butterflies get up front and close to you.

There many more fun exhibits and activities that are also educational.  One item that really caught my eye is the soil sample test.

Bring a soil sample from home because you can get it tested for lead for free.  This is something you don’t normally think of.  Let alone know about.

Live music is on hand all day too and it’s quite varied – local high school bands playing jazz and contemporary tunes, West African, Indian, Classic Country, the best of the American Songbook and more.

Food comes from some notable local restaurants as well as a few further out.  All of it is delicious and there’s quite a selection from fresh made pizza to smoked barbecue.

owlThe Northern Valley Earth Fair keeps growing every year.  It adds more exhibits, activities and has increasingly welcomed crafts.  As a family fun day it can’t be beat but singles have a great time too.  It’s simply a fabulous day out and you’ll learn so much.  As a result, you’ll come away with a greater appreciation for our local environment as well as the entire earth.

This year Closter is hosting The Northern Valley Earth Fair.  It’s this Saturday, April 22nd,  from 11 to 4 at the Tenakill Middle School located at 275 High Street.  You really won’t want to miss it.

 

 

 

Posted by & filed under Bergen County LIfe.

Teaneck SealThe town-wide garage sale in Teaneck NJ is happening this weekend.  Are you ready to find some great bargains?

If you own a Teaneck home or are a Township resident, there’s still time to sign up and join in.  The cut off date for signing up is this Wednesday at 5 pm.

The garage sale dates are 8 am through 6 pm ogarage salen both Saturday, April 22nd, and Sunday, April 23rd.  If it’s rained out, the rain date is the following weekend on April 29 and April 30th.

The entire Township of Teaneck becomes one huge town-wide garage sale.  There are so many to choose from – right now there are over 40.  This has become one of the most popular local events of the year because it’s a win-win for everyone.

Residents sell items they would otherwise toss out and shoppers get some incredible bargains.  It’s a lot of fun for everyone.  Since this is such a popular event, Teaneck does this bi-annually. Over the years it has become a major event in Bergen County.

Here’s how it works –

There’s several ways for Teaneck residents to sign up for free –

  1. Use a sign up form online
  2. Call Omar Stovall at 201-837-1600, Ext. 1003
  3. Email Mr. Stovall at ostovall@teanecknj.gov

First and foremost, be sure to sign up by this Wednesday, April 19th, no later than 5 pm.

Shoppers go to the Township of Teaneck website for a list of garage sale addresses.

garage sale itemsEach participating resident puts their garage sale items out at their own private residence.  Teaneck posts the list of addresses on it’s website and publishes the final list on Friday, April 21st at 5 pm.

 

Right now the list posted on the Township website is through April 21st at 5 pm.  This totals 37 but there will be tons more. Because new applications are received daily, it’s simply too time consuming to constantly update it.

Come out this weekend and have fun at the Teaneck town-wide garage sale!

 

 

Posted by & filed under Buying.

Your home inspection is one of the most important parts of purchasing a house.  We’ve just gone over finding a home inspector; now it’s time to focus on the home inspection itself.

What do  you inspect for?  The typical home inspection is for the structure (aka the house), wood destroying insects and radon.  You should also do a tank sweep inspection to make sure there are no unknown abandoned oil tanks underground.

How long should it take?  Figure 2.5 to 3 hours from start to finish for an average home. You should be there too.

Believe it or not, I have had some customers who say they don’t have the time.  This is not a debate – you need to be at your home inspection.  We need to find a time that’s convenient for you.

You should stay with your home inspector as he goes through the house.  A good home inspector will teach you how to maintain your house, what to look for, what to be careful about.  So many things.  He will make himself available for questions afterward as well.

I advise my customers to think about what concerns they have and to write them down.  It’s easy to forget things.  Coming prepared with your questions is best.

When you meet your inspector don’t bombard him with your concerns because you’ll throw him off track.  As a result, you won’t get as good an inspection because he’ll be focused answering questions.  Once he’s at a pertinent part of the house, then ask him.

The inspection report is sent out one or two days later.  You discuss this with your attorney and agent.  Your attorney sends a letter to the seller’s attorney with any concerns you have.  You negotiate this with the seller and adjustments made become part of the contract.

Buyers work things out with sellers almost always because no one wants to cancel the contract and start over..

That is upsetting for both sides and hurtful.  Seller’s most of the time get lower offers after one fails.  Buyers have to go through the inconvenience of finding another house.  No one wants this so they work it out.

Posted by & filed under Bergen County LIfe.

2 Dogs With Stick

Give your dog a run at a dog park in Bergen County.  It’s good for you and your pet.

Dogs need exercise.  Without adequate exercise, dogs become frustrated and act out behaviorally in ways no owner appreciates.  A dog is a 10-15 year commitment and part of dog care is exercise.  As a result dog parks are often the best answer for many owners.

There are several Bergen County dog parks.  If you’re a dog park person you also know that it’s fun.  You get to socialize with the other owners while Fido is playing.

Moving can be tough on dogs.  Not only is your pup adjusting to a new environment, he’s not getting enough exercise while you’re in the middle of unpacking boxes.  Finding time to meet your neighbors isn’t easy either with all you have to do.  You can solve both problems by taking your dog to a local dog park.

Dog parks aren’t for everyone but if you and your dog enjoy going to them, the local dog park will help Fido run off some steam and socialize with other dogs. You’ll also get to meet many local residents and maybe book a play date or two for your pet.  running-dogs

There are 6 dog parks maintained by the Bergen County Parks Department. If you have a small dog Wood Dale Park in Woodcliff Lake lacks a separate area for small dogs. This park is being renovated so that might change.

You need to bring water for your pet because most parks don’t supply this.  You should know that all parks are closed at sun down.

Dog runs are located in following 6 Bergen County parks:

 

 

 

 

Posted by & filed under Buying.

 Weichert has a 1 week mortgage commitment including the appraisal.  This is nothing short of revolutionary.

Weichert Financial Services has been hiring processors, streamlining systems and doing everything possible to help buyers.  You really need an edge in this highly competitive market .  This explains why:

You find a home you love and make an offer.  The house has a crowd of buyers and consequently multiple offers.  Most likely many are similar to yours.  So how do you stand out and win?

This scenario happens every day and it’s been going on for a while.  It’s not fun and very stressful for home buyers.

Weichert introduced the escalation clause to help our buyers several years ago.  Since then the Bergen County real estate market has become tougher due to increased demand and low inventory.

So how can you stand out?  We can make you stand out with superior financials.  This is why Weichert has a 1 week mortgage commitment.

Conditions are simple.  You need a Weichert pre-approval, a signed contract and whatever documents are required.  No extra cost for this too.

Why do you need a Weichert pre-approval?  Because our pre-approvals are preliminarily underwritten loan approvals.  As a result, a lot has already been done toward mortgage processing.

Imagine what this does for you in a bidding war.

Homeowners always worry about the mortgage.  Most contracts these days have 30-45 day mortgage commitment times.  Sellers hate having to wait this long.  So which offer do you think they’ll choose?  One that makes them wait 30-45 days?  Or the offer that only asks for 7 days?

It seems like a no brainer.  Probably every offer you’ll make will be up against others.  Since you’re the only one with a 1 week commitment date, you’re very likely to be the offer they choose.

Jim Weichert puts his focus on customer service.  What better way to service a home buyer than this?