Posted by & filed under Buying.

In the world of Bergen County real estate, one of the most popular style of homes is the split level.  It’s efficient design, open floor plan, bright sunlit interior and uncomplicated mechanical systems makes these homes highly sought after by buyers.  Bergen County saw an explosion of split level home construction from 1960 through the mid 1970’s.  A wonderful example of the split level design is found in my listing at 18 Ridge Road which is offered at $795,000:

18 Ridge Road     It’s easy to see the multi level feature of this style:

To the right is the upper level where you’ll find all 4 bedrooms.  The lower level of the left is the entry level where there is a formal entry hall, the living room, dining room and kitchen.  One level down on the ground level is the family room, power door with laundry and entrance to the 2 car garage.  There’s also a basement with a rec room and separate storage/utility room.  All in all, you get a lot of living space in these mutli level homes.

The present owner renovated and expanded the home in 2004 – take a look at how well done it is:

18 Ridge Road 18 Ridge Road

The living and dining rooms are filled with light.  The open floor plan allows for tremendous light to enter the house through the large window at front and sliding glass door across at the end of the dining room leading to the outdoor deck.

18 Ridge Road 18 Ridge Road

There was a lot of planning that went into this beautiful kitchen renovation and it shows.

18 Ridge RoadThis is the family room  on the left and the rec room is one level below – it’s a perfect set up because the adults can relax in the family room while the children are playing in the rec room.

18 Ridge Road

These 2 rooms in particular demonstrate the versatility of the split level home.

18 Ridge Road was constructed around 1960 and has only had 2 owners but that isn’t all that unusual.  People tend to stay here once they’ve moved in.  Cresskill is a highly prized location – it has an excellent school district, robust business district, terrific town services and a very strong community spirit.  It’s large enough to support it’s own school district but still very much a small town where one easily feels at home.  A classic Bergen County home located in a quiet family neighborhood with an easy commute to NYC, 18 Ridge Road is simply a wonderful home.

Posted by & filed under Buying, Selling.

I’m not an economist – I’m just a real estate agent.  But, as opposed to what some of my friends will tell you, I am not crazy and I have a lot of common sense.  This is why what has happened makes no sense at all to me.  If only people had behaved responsibly there would be no sub prime mortgage mess.

It all starts with the mortgage.  If you go to my website at www.BergenCountyHomes.com you will see an entire section devoted to how to buy a house the right way.  And what is the first thing I tell you to do?  Go to a licensed mortgage bank.  I refuse to work with any buyers who will not go to a credible financial institution.  Period.  End of story.  No way.  Can I be more direct?

It makes no sense at all for anyone to go to a credible banker who tells them they can afford $100 and then shop around on the internet and find a miracle – you can now afford $150!  Miracles, voodoo dolls, fortune tellers, glass balls with smoke inside, tarot cards etc. are not how you figure out what you can afford.

I keep telling people, the first thing you do before you look at one house is to work with a licensed mortgage banker.  This is why what happened makes no sense to me.   Realistically I understand how it happened – of course I do.  But it still makes no sense at all to me that so many people found miracles and believed them.  What’s even worse were the people stirring that miracle pot of magic and proclaiming that they were Merlin the Magician or the Wizard of Oz.  Where was Dorothy when we needed her?

And how about those Hedge Fund folks and all the others who churned those packages of bogus loans?  Years ago you had to justify the credit worthiness of a loan to get an investor to buy it.  Well, I guess that went out the window into some dark hole.  But, again, it all comes down to that individual who only wanted to buy a home and wanted a miracle.  But, it wasn’t entirely his fault.

Have you ever tried to read a mortgage document?  If you’ve bought a home in Bergen County, you’ll remember your closing as a blur of papers you had to sign.  They are supposed to be in understandable English but no one, perhaps not even the Pope, can understand it all.

So between greed from the mortgage broker (notice the expression mortgage broker – it doesn’t say licensed mortgage banker now does it?) who was motivated to sell a loan and get a commission, the real estate agent who was motivated to sell a home and get a commission, in many cases that agent’s manager and company who wanted even more transactions, the banking system who wanted that loan no matter whether or not the buyer could pay for the mortgage and the international investors who wanted US investments and took it “on faith” that what some salesperson was telling them (disguised as a financial advisor, trader, investment banker, hedge fund, international institution, etc) was the truth, we went down this road to a crash literally heard around the world.

So, for those of you who want to buy a home and are nice enough to work with me, understand why I have been telling people for over 20 years that you do not go to alphabet soup mortgage brokers, you go to such places as JP Morgan Chase, Huson City Savings & Loan, Classic Mortgage, New Jersey Lenders or ISB.  These are all strong, solid institutions and no they do not have the lowest rates published – I can almost guarantee you of that.  What they do have is something we used to call a “true rate” (as opposed to untrue?) which tells you what it really costs.

Remember, if these folks tell you can afford 100 or 150, that’s what you can afford.  Because not only do they figure in your mortgage amount, but good, ethical licensed mortgage bankers also figure in things like property taxes and home insurance.  As a result, the figure they give you is credible and usually not as terrific as ABC Mortgage’s phony pie in the sky miracle rate.  But, it is real and so you are protected.

If you need some good bankers to refinance or buy a home, go to http://bergencountyhomes.com/financing.htm (and in case you’re wondering, I receive no sponsorship from any of them; they don’t participate in conflict of interest behavior and neither do I)

Posted by & filed under Buying, Selling.

Although it’s very early in the year we can still get an idea of the real estate market.  Here is what I’ve found:

The spring market for real estate in Bergen County arrived in February.  We’ve noticed an increase in the number of buyer inquiries and in the number of people coming out on weekends to look at homes on Sunday afternoons which is pretty much what we expect every year.

Below is a quick study of how the market is doing as of February 17th based on New Jersey MLS data.  Over the years, I’ve found that it’s important to see the relationship between the number of homes for sale (A for Active Listings) and under contract (UC).  In a strong seller’s market, this ratio is at 2 to 1.  How long a home is on the market is also important and I’ve put this in the same order for you (A/UC).   I feel that this is a result of over pricing.  It’s pretty tough in any market to get an offer on an over priced home; it just doesn’t make sense to  a buyer.

For a more in depth look at the real estate market go to my market trends report which I’ll be updating monthly at  http://bergencountyhomes.com/market.htm

A/UC                Ratio                Days on the Market

Alpine                          43/1                 43 to 1             257/298

 

Closter                         74/10               7.4 to 1            136/224

 

Cresskill                       69:7                 10 to 1             132/128

 

Dumont                        44/12               3.7 to 1            117/81

 

Englewood                   123/16             7.7 to 1           155/110

 

Englewood Cliffs          45/1                 45 to 1             132/221

 

Harrington Park            18/3                 6 to 1                92/51

 

Haworth                       35/1                 35 to 1             122/83

 

Paramus                       114/25             4.5 to 1            146/103

 

Ridgewood                   98/14               7 to 1                94/105

 

River Edge                   34/11               3 to 1                73/95

 

Tenafly                         93/19               5 to 1              118/150          

This truly shows you the state of the real estate market in Bergen County.               

Posted by & filed under Bergen County LIfe.

Bergen County is next to New York City in the northeast corner of New Jersey.  I can give you an idea of how close we are to New York City by showing you these pictures:

next to new york city

George Washington Bridge NJ side

This picture to the right shows you the NJ side and the picture to the left shows you what you see looking at Manhattan from New Jersey.

next to new york city

George Washington Bridge View from NJ

No matter which side of the Hudson River you’re viewing, the distance across the George Washington Bridge between Bergen County and NYC is just under one mile at 4,760 feet (one mile equals 5,280 feet).

Mahwah is located at the northwest corner of Bergen County on the New York State border.  Even here Manhattan isn’t far/  It’s only 21 miles and a 30 minute drive away.

Such close proximity to Manhattan makes us an excellent commute to NYC and the Big Apple a major presence in our lives.

A large number of Bergen County residents work there.  Many of us go there on weekends to take advantage of it’s museums and other cultural activities such as Broadway plays, Lincoln Center concerts and art fairs.  This is a primary reason why Bergen County homes are so valuable to buyers.  Where else can you get the best of suburban living 15 minutes from one of the world’s major cities that is both an international cultural and financial center?

As a result Bergen County homes are highly sought after.  Being a river away from a major world capitol is a uniquely positive aspect of living here.  In fact, many people visiting Manhattan stay in less expensive Bergen County hotels taking public transportation back and forth to the City.

Bergen County has the best of suburban living and easy access to all that New York City has to offer.  Next to New York City is where we’re at and that is a very good thing indeed.

Posted by & filed under Bergen County LIfe.

high school reunionLast summer I did something I thought I’d never ever do – I went to my high school reunion.

It’s the oddest thing but during the past few years, we’ve all been finding each other again.  This is most definitely a very weird reaction to reaching the latter part of your middle age of life.   Not that all of us have separated from each other.  Among the advantages of living in Bergen County is that we’re next door to one of the greatest cities in the world – New York City.  There’s a lot here to make you stay when you have Manhattan in your back yard.

However the world is also a big place with plenty of opportunities and places to see. Many of us moved far away.  I keep in touch with some of my closest friends.  I recently connected with others. Its been great but it’s also got me thinking about what it was like to grow up in Bergen County and what’s changed and remained the same since then.  I guess it’s natural to go to a high school reunion when you begin such introspection.

Life in Bergen County is a combination of many things. There’s the commuting morning, relaxed day and busier late afternoons and early evenings. Saturdays are bustling and because we have “blue laws” from many years ago that do not allow most shopping on Sundays, Sundays are quiet. That part of Bergen County is the same as when I was growing up.

What’s changed here is the number of homes and families we have – the increase in both has been tremendous. Real estate has been a big growth industry here with almost all available land that could be developed gobbled up by builders. Today it’s common to see an older home knocked down so a new one can be built.  This is because there are no large tracts of undeveloped land left. Along with this development came a lot of diversity. There are so many different cultures here that are well represented. When I was growing up this was not so much the case. However, this greater diversity has maintained the vitality and economic health of our area.

What remains the same is our small town suburban lifestyle. People still come here to buy a home and raise their family. There are just more of us with a greater variety of backgrounds. I can still go to my local downtown shopping district and bump into people I know. There are still stores here that we call “institutions” because they’ve been here for generations. We still have Saturday football games, baseball in the spring but now we also have added soccer in the fall.

So when I met my classmates last summer at my high school reunion, we shard a lot of memories, opened up that high school yearbook and laughed at those young people inside those pages.  We were amazed to find that although much had changed, much still remained the same. For over the years people have come and always will come to live in Bergen County for the lifestyle and American values that it represents and maintains.

Posted by & filed under Bergen County LIfe.

The Revolutionary War era 1740 Bogert house still stands today and has quite a history.

Demarest NJ was a beautiful area of farms and mills in the 1700’s.  It was also the setting for one of the American Revolution’s major campaigns:  Washington’s Retreat from New York.  Washington’s army crossed the Hudson going through Bergen County where they camped in Fort Lee.  They eventually ended up in his famous Delaware Crossing into Pennsylvania.

Mattias Bogert was one of those farmers.  He built a house alongside what is today called Old County Road.  Mattias worked very hard.  As a result, he had a prosperous business.  Just to his north was the Demarest family.  They had a farm and grist mill.  Six or seven farmers settled here by the late 1700’s.  Most were patriots.  As a result they helped supply the Continental Army in Fort Lee with flour, produce etc.  The story is that one of their sons took off on horseback to warn General Washington that the Tory’s were coming down Closter Dock in pursuit of him.

This was the time of Washington’s famous retreat having been badly beaten by the British in New York.  On May 9, 1779 the Tory’s unleashed a brutal attack on these farmers because they knew they were patriots.  The British burned their homes, destroyed their crops, killed people and took many prisoners.  Matthias Bogert, his family, his home and his farm were not spared.  They suffered along with all the other patriots in the area.  Everyone returned after the war to rebuild their homes and farms.

The Bogert House is a registered National Landmark and preserved forever with a conservation easement.   Magnificently kept, the main part of the house is wonderfully elegant.  This beautiful Dutch Colonial estate home is constructed with the material of the day that all better properties shared – sandstone and wood.  The large front porch is an absolute delight and looks out upon most of the nearly 3 acres of property.  The 2 car garage was once a full sized barn with stables.  One stable still exists inside.  None of it’s original charm and appointments is missing.   Bergen County was a large part of the American Revolutionary War as one of the 13 Original States.  This wonderful 1740 Bogert House is part of that heritage for all of us.

Posted by & filed under Bergen County LIfe.

Here are some quick Bergen County facts to introduce you to us:

902,561 people – 234 Square Miles – Avg Family w/Children Income is $113,680 – 3,854 People Per Sq Mile

58.7% of us are married & 32.6% of us have children (no wonder we have so many parks & playgrounds)

90.1% of us have high school degrees and 42.9% of us have college degrees

Jobs – 24.1 % Professional, 20% Service, 19% Management, 16.6% Administrative Support & 6.6% & Laborer

Parks – 15 County Parks totalling 7,968 Acres, 3 State Parks, Hundreds of Municipal Parks, 5 County Golf Courses, 5 Dog Runs, 3 Camp Sites, 1 Downhill Skiing, 1 Swimming Lake, 2 Horseback Riding Facilities

A picture begins to emerge of what Bergen County is like when you look at all of these facts, :

This is one of the most affluent areas in the US (ranked the 18th most affluent US county) and also one of the most densely populated with nearly 1 million people.

We are highly educated and have a diverse and balanced employment profile.

Despite the large numbers of people living here, open space is important and there is a thriving parks system.

Because we are highly educated we value education.  As a result, we appreciate our local schools and parent involvement is high.  Because of this Bergen County is renown for its high scoring public school districts.   We have an outstanding  county run school system with its varied disciplined Academy System.  The County Academies include a wide spectrum from trade oriented schools through the most demanding academically.

Our location is unique because we are on top of Manhattan and yet we have preserved our suburban ambiance and lifestyle.  Bergen County is only 1 mile from Manhattan on the other side of the Hudson River.

When you put all of this together it’s more than impressive.  As a result it is no wonder that Bergen County is an extremely popular destination.  In fact we are one of the most sought after locations in the New York metropolitan area.  Because of all these positives Bergen County real estate has always done better in holding it’s value.

I will update these quick Bergen County facts from time to time.  If you need more information just get in touch with me.

Posted by & filed under Bergen County LIfe, Buying.

Greetings All and welcome to one of the most interesting and fun places to live in the New York City metropolitan area.  Bergen County NJ is at the north east corner of NJ next to the George Washington Bridge which means we’re on top of Manhattan.  Our homes are prized for our proximity to NYC our very strong school districts and our suburban lifestyle.  Even though Bergen County is one of the most desnsely populated areas in the US, we’re still filled with parks, nature preserves and all sorts of wooded spaces.  In fact, most of Bergen County is quite residential.

Bergen County is also very diverse – we have 70 different locations here and each has it’s own unique personality.  We go from small hamlets to a typical suburban town to a small city.  In fact, we have 5 cities here although they very often resemble big small towns – Englewood, Fort Lee, Garfield, Hackensack and Teaneck.

Diversity extends through racial ethnicities and religions.  We are indeed a melting pot of wide ranges.  This is one of our strengths and advantages.  No matter who your or where you come from, everyone is welcome.  Our diversity brings a dynamic element to life here and you will love all the varied cuisines our restaurants offer.

Not only are we the most populous county in New Jersey, we’re also one of the most affluent.  We have 925,000+ people here living in 246.671 square miles. There are 3 major highway systems and several more local highways.  Known as the shopping capitol of NJ with more malls than anywhere else, there is nothing you can’t find.

Introducing people to Bergen County is always fun – hopefully this blog will help you appreciate all we have to offer.