Posted by & filed under Renting.

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

Privately

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

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

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

Management Company

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

Through A Realtor

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

What You Should Know About Renting in Bergen County

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

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

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

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

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

 

Posted by & filed under Selling.

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

GE lock boxWhy Use A Lock box

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

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

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

Combination Lock Box vs Electronic

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

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

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

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

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

Accountability and Security

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

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

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

My Take On This

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

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

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

 

 

 

Posted by & filed under Bergen County LIfe.

Tenafly Summer ConcertsIt’s that time of year again.  Summer is here and with it are the 2019 free summer concerts.  Here is a lineup of 2019 free summer concerts for you –

Bergen County

Bergen County has an amazing assortment of summer activities.  This is titled Music & Movies in the Park with concerts held at Wortendyke Barn Museum (Music in the Barn) in Park Ridge, Overpeck Park Amphitheater in Leonia (Terrific Thursdays) and Riverside Park in North Arlington.  You’ll find all concert and movie schedules online.

Carlstadt

Carlstadt hosts summer concerts on Tuesday nights through August 13th.  Music starts at 7:30 for 2 hours every Tuesday night at the Village Green Park.  Carlstadt has some terrific restaurants so go out to dinner and enjoy the concert for a wonderful summer evening out.

Englewood

Englewood has a wonderful series of jazz concerts presented by the Englewood Public Library.  Jazz Under The Stars happens every Thursday night through August 8th at 7:30 pm.  Location is the library front lawn.  This is the 7th year for Jazz Under The Stars because it’s extremely popular.  It’s not easy to find great free jazz concerts so be sure you don’t miss it.

Hackensack

Hackensack has a series of free concerts this summer called Sounds of Summer.  Held on Fridays from 7 pm through 8:30 pm at Atlantic Street Park (102 State St), you’ll find a wide variety of musical themes.  This summer concert series runs through August 9th and covers everything from country music to R&B.

Hillsdale

Hillsdale renovated it’s bandshell this year in Beechwood Park on Hillsdale Avenue.  This is where it’s summer concert series is being held through August 21st on Wednesday nights starting at 7:30 pm.  You should take note of what happens on August 7th because it’s a combination concert and family fun night.  There will be all sorts of fun for children along with the concert later.  Festivities begin at 6 pm this night.

Mahwah

Mahwah has a very special concert series.  It is hosted by Ramapo College and sponsored by TD Bank with food trucks too.   Concerts begin July 11th and ends on August 1st starting at 8 pm.  Gates open at 6:30 pm so you can enjoy dinner from one of the many food trucks and then enjoy fabulous music.

Old Tappan

Oakes Park in Old Tappan is the place to be this summer.  Free concerts will be held at 7 pm on Wednesday nights through July.  Oakes Park is on Central Avenue across from 184 Central Avenue.  You will hear all sorts of music from classic rock to today’s R&B.

Ridgewood

Ridgewood is hosting free summer concerts for the 61st time this summer at the Kasschau Memorial Shell.  This is located in Veterans Field behind the library.  The concert schedule has so many offerings running through mid August.

Teaneck

Votee Park is where all the fun happens this summer.  Teaneck’s Summer Band Concert Series runs through July.  Location is the Votee Park Band Shell.  The concert begins at 8 pm and runs through 9:30 pm

Tenafly

Once again Tenafly is having free summer concerts twice weekly on Tuesday and Thursday nights through August.  Tuesday concerts are held downtown in Huyler Park.  Thursdays are at Davis-Johnson Park.  Concerts begin at 7 pm and the schedule of performances covers a wide variety of music genres.

Westwood

Not really fully in summer time, Westwood still has several weeks to go.  Westwood Recreation hosts free concerts for the next 3 Thursday nights at Veteran’s Memorial Park.  Concerts begin at 8 pm on the 11th, 18th and 25th in July.

Have fun going to the 2019 free summer concerts.  Bring friends too and make a night of it.  Have dinner downtown first and then enjoy some terrific music under the stars.

Posted by & filed under Buying.

irresponsible lendingIrresponsible lending is back.  It is back in real estate and I am sad to say that my Board of Realtors had a seminar on it today.  I did not go and neither should you.

What’s a QM

QM stands for Qualified Mortgage.  This came about in January of 2015 due to post Recession legislation.

It’s a very good thing because it protects consumers as well as banks.  Banks must now keep 5% of the mortgages that they lend.

Qualified mortgages are the only exception to this rule because they have stricter requirements.  As a result they have a much lower risk of default.

The goal is to ensure that borrowers are not treated unfairly and banks can reasonably expect the mortgage to be paid.  QM mortgages have, for example, limits on fees banks charge and how much debt to income is allowed.

Non QM Loans

Non QM loans exceed QM lending requirements.  These are loans tailored for people with bad credit.  Such borrowers have lower credit scores and higher debt to income ratios.

They are a good idea if you are self employed.  Self employed people don’t show enough income on their tax returns due to write offs.  As a result their debt to income ratios are high.  Prudently used this can be a great idea and not irresponsible.

While helping self employed people is positive, allowing others to get a mortgage with unsafe debt levels and bad credit is not.

Don’t Do This

Irresponsible lending is disastrous.  Because it’s so enticing, people fell for it and were destroyed.  They lost their savings, their homes and went bankrupt.  There are a lot of tenants today who will never be homeowners because of it.

Do not buy a home if you can’t afford it.  Please do not allow yourself to be fooled into thinking that a non QM mortgage is “an opportunity for the American Dream” because it isn’t.

To know how to do it right, go to the Buyers section on my website.  I wrote this for you – to teach you how to do the best for yourself.  If you have questions or want to start looking for a house, call or text me at 201-741-8490.

 

Posted by & filed under Buying, Homeowner Tips, Selling.

HouseLogic.comHouseLogic.com was a new website when I wrote a blog article about it in 2010.  Since then it has become an extremely popular resource for home owners as well as home buyers and sellers.  It has grown and evolved over the years to answer consumer feedback.

Your Money

My original article on House Logic  explained that this website is more than just instructions on how to paint a room.  It’s really very comprehensive.  The Your Money  section still has tips on how to repair your credit but there’s so much more for you.

I love the What To Know About Your Credit Before Buying A Home article under Financing.  Written by Mary Beth Storjohann, this is a great piece that answers so many questions about credit scores.

home remodelingMake Improvements

Under Improve, you’ll find 1 section by room, a 2nd on remodeling and a 3rd on how to be organized and take care of your home.

These are all very important topics because not doing any of this right creates expensive and disastrous results.  I’ve written several blog articles about how to maintain your home because this is so important.  House Logic has tons of great tips for you and do it yourself advice too.

Basement Flooding

While most real estate oriented websites paint rosy pictures – sometimes I think I’m in the Land of Oz things are so perfect – House Logic is realistic.  For example, would you expect a website from the National Association of Realtors to talk about basement flooding?  This site does.  flooded basement

There’s actually an article on what to do if your basement floods.  No kidding at all.  This is not something that might endear you to home ownership but it’s here.  How to Cleanup (and forget the Nightmare) of Basement Flooding is both well written and very helpful.

Summary

HouseLogic.com accomplishes what the National Association of Realtors wanted.  It is a terrific website that’s a great resource for everyone who has an interest in residential real estate.  Because it’s written with you in mind, it’s easy to navigate, has the information you want and important information you didn’t even know you need.

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

 

49 Walnut Dr

 

49 Walnut Dr in Tenafly

49 Walnut Dr is my new listing in Tenafly.  This is a large Sugar Maple Split Level house with 3 bedrooms, 2.5 baths and a simply beautiful 76 x 120 lot.  The current resident is the original owner of this 1961 built home.  She is retired and is moving to be near her daughter.  As a result, there is flexibility in a closing date.

The ground floor family room has been expanded with walls of windows overlooking the very pretty back yard.  We saw a mother deer and her newborn outside today.  It’s only minutes to the George Washington Bridge and yet you’re in a paradise of suburban living.

Location Advantages

Location is prestigious Walnut Manor.  Walnut Manor is an extremely quiet neighborhood where people are friendly, get to know one another and stay in their homes a long while.  There’s even a local park at the end of the street.

Stillman Elementary School is 1 block away, Sunnyside Park is 3 blocks away and the Tenafly Business District is a 5 minute drive.  It takes only 15 minutes by car to reach NYC.  Commuting is easy too.  It’s only a 10 minute walk to the NJ Transit express bus to Manhattan.  Walking takes you through local shops on your way to the bus.  This allows you to drop off dry cleaning and to grab a bagel and coffee too.

Some Details

49 Walnut Drive is an absolutely pristine home.  It has brightly lit rooms, large open spaces and a floor plan that’s ideal for formal and informal occasions.  Go out on the deck and unwind when the weather’s warm or enjoy the wood stove fireplace in winter.

Tenafly As A Town

Because Tenafly Schools have the highest SAT scores in Bergen County, young families are eager to come here.  Tenafly is more than a great school district.  It’s also a wonderful community where a wide variety of backgrounds and cultures come together with fierce pride in their town.

Come visit this Sunday from 1-5 pm.  We’re holding this wonderful family home open and you won’t want to miss it!

Posted by & filed under Buying, Selling.

comps don't workComps don’t work is a true statement.  Whether you are buying a home or selling a home one thing is for sure:  Eventually a bubbly Realtor will hand you a stack of comps.  Why?  Because that’s what agents are trained to do.

I guess if they trained us to give you lollipops you’d get a lot of those too.  Oh well.

What’s A Comp Anyway?

A comp is a comparable property.  Almost always sales are used but homes for sale and homes under contract are also comps.  The idea is to correctly establish a home’s value so a buyer or seller won’t make a mistake.

Sold Homes – The King of Comps

Sold homes are the King of Comps.  Recent sales are thrown at homeowners and buyers to explain value.  This does seem to make sense, doesn’t it?  After all, if a recent sale is like 1 Main St, then 1 Main St must be worth the same amount.  Sometimes yes and many times no.

Comparable sales should be similar in style, location and condition.  However 1 very important item is missing which can get you into trouble.  What’s missing is timing.

house value

Timing Counts

Today is May 29th.  Is a sale from December a good comparable?  I bet you would agree it is not.  Look at this hypothetical:

A home closes today.  It found a buyer on December 12th and went under contract on January 3rd.  Would you use this as a good comp for value today?

Look at when a home accepts an offer.  Any price adjustments made later on due to home inspections, etc. are done as a credit towards closing costs.  As a result, going back to when a house first accepts an offer is the right date to use.

Because some homes wait many months to close, not all recent closings necessarily prove value today.  It really depends on timing.

Market Conditions

Market conditions can also be very important.  Today the market is stable so this is not a major factor.  There have been times when market conditions changed severely.

For example, when prices are moving up or down quickly, sales beginning 4-6 months ago will be out of whack with values today.

Comps Don’t Work

Comps don’t work because they’re not always truly current.  Sometimes market conditions have a big effect.  Sometimes the sale began 6 months ago.  Because of this, it’s not always the best way for a seller to price their home or a buyer to figure value.

how to price your homeAs a result, always look up when an offer was accepted for both sales and under contract homes.  Check market conditions too.  Taking this big picture look helps both home buyer and home seller alike to stay out of trouble.

If you want help to price your home or to find value as a buyer, give me a call at 201-741-8490.

Posted by & filed under Things To Do.

bark for educationThere are plenty of Bergen County things to do this weekend.  Let’s take a look at what’s coming up –

Bark For Education

Cresskill High School is where Bark For Education is being held on Saturday from 12 noon to 4 pm.  This canine festival has everything you can imagine for dogs and it’s a great adoption event too.  So if you want to adopt a dog, there will be plenty of choices from Good Karma Dog Rescue.

In addition to all things dog there’ll be face painting and a bouncy house (kids love this), contests, prizes, music and food.  This event supports the Cresskill Education Foundation and, of course, will help get dogs adopted to loving families.

Rutherford Multicultural Festival

This Saturday you can enjoy food and cultural events from 12 noon through 7 pm at Lincoln Park in Rutherford NJ.  This amazing event displays the wonderful diversity that makes up Bergen County.

Today Bergen County is just under 950,000 residents and we are quite literally a melting pot of different backgrounds and cultures.  This festival is in it’s 16th year and seems to get bigger and more popular with every year.  You will not be disappointed and admission is free.

Festival Italiano Vintage Auto Show

Do you love Italian cars as much as I do?  If so, then spend Sunday morning at The Hermitage in FESTIVAL ITALIANO VINTAGE AUTO SHOWHo-Ho-Kus for the Festival Italiano Vintage Auto Show.  This is a spectacular Italian automotive festival where you’ll see cars you’ve always dreamed about.

I love Italian car design because I consider it art on wheels.  The festival runs from 9-2 so I can go and still be on time for my open house!  Go to The Hermitage’s website, click on Events and scroll down for the details.

Earthfest Overpeck 2019

Just when you thought Earth Day celebrations were over here comes Earthfest Overpeck 2019 on Sunday from 1 to 5.  A joint venture between Bergen County Parks and the Hackensack River Keeper, this event Earthfest Overpeck celebrates clean water and the environment. From free kayak and canoe rides to boats made from recycled materials plus food trucks, music, green presentations and vendors and more.  This is a major fun event that works for all ages.  Earthfest Overpeck 2019 is a great event.

Leonia Players Guild

Friday and Saturday night at 8 pm (also Sunday at 3) the Leonia Players Guild has performances of Calendar Girls.  This is a very funny play about some friends who decide to pose nude for a calendar to raise funds to install a new settee in the hospital after one of their husbands passes away.  Actually based on a true story, this well done production really makes for a riotous evening of theater.  It also comes at a bargain of a price – only $20 per ticket ($18 for seniors and students). Click here to order tickets.

You’ll always find Bergen County things to do but this weekend seemed more event filled than usual.  If you want help in the future on finding out what’s happening here, just contact me.

 

Posted by & filed under Buying, Selling.

bergen county real estate is soaringIt’s May 15th at 10 pm and I just took a look at the New Jersey MLS figures.  What I found is that Bergen County real estate is soaring.

Bergen County Real Estate

Right now there are 2,993 single family homes for sale and 1,531 under contract in the entire NJMLS.  That’s an astounding 2 to 1 ratio.  Let’s do the absorption rate for this.

Divide 2,993 active listings by the 801 houses that went under contract over the past month and you get a 3.74 month absorption rate.  This means that the entire inventory of homes for sale will be completely sold out in 3.74 months.

These basic figures are extremely strong.  While the inventory has been increasing, homes are getting snapped up quickly.  As a result, it’s still a tough market for home buyers.

Let’s Dig Deeper

Let’s dig deeper now and look at price ranges in the single family home market.

For homes up through $500,000, 793 are for sale and 709 under contract.  That’s an amazing 1.1 to 1 ratio. 393 went under contract in the past month for an equally amazing 2 month absorption rate.

Real estate at $500-1 million is also extremely strong:  1,291 homes for sale and 612 under contract equals a 2.1 to 1 ratio.  309 found contracts over the past month for a 4.2 month absorption rate.

Here’s Where It Changes

The market begins to change as you move up from $1 million sales.  It normally does because there are fewer buyers purchasing luxury homes than there are purchasing starter homes.

At $1-1.5 million there are 419 for sale and 132 under contract (3.35 to 1 ratio).  68 went under contract within the past month for a 6.1 month absorption rate.  These are very respectable figures at this level.

We begin to see changes at $1.5-2 million.  Here we have 181 for sale, 37 under contract (4.9 to 1 ratio) and 11 within the past month (16.45 months).  The ratio is solid but taking 16.45 month to sell out the inventory is not good.  Change is underfoot.

$2 million and up becomes, frankly, a problem.  We jump to a 12.5 to 1 ratio (263 for sale/21 under contract) and a 29,2 month absorption rate (9 under contract in the last month).

What Does This Mean

It’s easy to see that the action is where 1st time buyers are at – the under $500,000 price range. We continue to see excellent performance in $500-1 million sales and $1-1.5 million sales do well too.

However, we begin to see signs of change at $1-1.5 million because there’s a bit of a split.  Many resale homes in this price range need to be redone. Since rates are so low, it’s less expensive to move up to new construction at $1.3-1.5 million.

The facts verify that this is the case,  New construction homes have a much better 3.9 to 1 ratio.

At $2 million+ the market is in a stall.  While it’s true that luxury sellers can afford to wait, it’s also true that holding a house doesn’t make sense. Appreciation is moderate so waiting for a better price won’t work plus it costs more to hold a house than any gain in value will offset.

Realistically Bergen County real estate is soaring up through $1.5 million.  This is the majority of Bergen County homes.  I would bet that properly valued, so would luxury homes.  If you are thinking of selling or buying, call me at 201-741-8490 for a private consultation.

Posted by & filed under Bergen County LIfe.

Cinco de MayoEveryone wants to know what things to do this weekend.  Here in Bergen County we have plenty of things to do this weekend.

Cinco de Mayo

Cinco de Mayo is a celebration of the Mexican Army’s victory over the French Empire in 1862 on May 5th.  It’s a major national holiday in Mexico.  Here are 2 great options for celebrating Cinco de Mayo here –

 

Blue Moon Cafe

They have several locations here.  The party goes all weekend from Friday through Sunday night.  Every day is something special so get your friends and have a blast.

Pancho’s Burritos

Pancho’s Burrito’s at 214 Main St in New Milford is always looking for a reason to have a major party.  Cinco de Mayo is one of their major events with live music.  If you want to party hardy go to Pancho Burrito’s on Sunday starting at 11 am and ending at 2 am Monday morning.

Bergen County Zoo

There will be sheep shearing demonstrations all day on Saturday at the Bergen County Zoo  This starts at 10 am and goes through 4:30 pm.  Children have other things to do as well so click on the link I have here for you and enjoy a day at the zoo!

Local Live Theater in Leonia & Oradell

The Leonia Players Guild is opening their performances of Calendar Girls on Friday night.  Performances this weekend are Friday and Saturday night at 8 pm and Sunday at 3 pm.  I’ve gone to productions here and it’s a very intimate theater with great acting.

The Bergen County Players open a production of Neil Simon’s play “Rumors” this weekend.  Show times are 8 pm on Saturday night and Sunday at 2 pm.  If you don’t know about Neil Simon, he is one of our greatest playwrights.

Wyckoff Food Truck and Music Festival

Wyckoff is hosting it’s annual Food Truck and Music Festival this Friday from 5-9 pm.  There will be 12 different food trucks and a live band.  They usually have other things too and in the past featured laser tag.  You don’t have to cook dinner this Friday!  Just go to the Wyckoff Food Truck and Music Festival.  It’s located at the Eisenhower Middle School at 344 Calvin Ct in Wyckoff.

Westwood Crafts Fair & Antiques Show

Westwood NJ is the place to be this Sunday for 2 major fun events.  There will be both a crafts fair and an antiques fair from 10 am through 5 pm.  Held at Veteran’s Park this event draws thousands – and I mean thousands – of people.  So far there are 95 crafts and artists coming and 25 antiques dealers.  As a result, both shows are big with lots to offer.  There’s also food, music and I bet some things for the younger set.  Veterans Park is immediately behind the train station at the intersection of Washington & Broadway.

So here you have it, plenty of things to do this weekend in Bergen County!