Posted by & filed under Bergen County LIfe.

Feast of St JosephThings To Do In Bergen County Labor Day Weekend is a post I write every year.  I get calls asking me what’s going on for Labor Day so here are highlights.

3 Major Events

Lodi has the Feast of Saint Joseph at St. Joseph Church located at 40 Spring Street.  It starts Friday ending Labor Day night.  Traditional Italian food, rides, games and entertainment nightly all add up to a wonderful event.

Rutherford has the most amazing street fair every Labor Day.  From 10 am through 5 pm the entire business district becomes a walking street fair.  You will find local shops with special deals, antiques, crafts, food, entertainment and more.  Their website lists special events happening all day.

Teaneck is the place for the Annual Annual Filipino American Festival at Overpeck Park from 10 am – 8 pm.  Food, exhibitions, entertainment, a beauty pageant and all things Filipino are on display.

5K Runs

You’ll love Labor Day if you are a runner because there are still options for you to register at:  5k run

Closter Labor Day Weekend 5K Race is on Sunday September 1st.  REGISTRATION ENDS MONDAY AT MIDNIGHT.  There is also a 5K walk and a Kids Fun Run.

Glen Rock has their annual Jaycees Arboretum Run on Labor Day  This 5k run starts at 390 Doremus Avenue (Glen Rock Pool parking lot) and registration is open through Saturday the 31st.

Pony Rides, Petting Zoos and Farms

Bergen County still has 3 working farms left.  If you have young children, they have a petting zoo and Abma’s Farm has pony rides every Saturday through October.  Demarest Farms still has peach picking left and Apple Picking begins Labor Day Weekend.

Hillsdale is where Demarest Farms is located and Wyckoff is where Abma’s Farm is located.  Check out their websites.  You can get wonderful produce and baked goods including home made pies too!

Bergen County has a 3rd working farm – Secor Farms in Mahwah and they’re open all through Labor Day Weekend.  Right now they don’t have a petting zoo because that, hayrides and a pumpkin patch come mid September.  However Secor Farms is a wonderful place with fabulous organic produce.

things to do in bergen countyBergen County Parks and Recreation

Bergen County has a truly awesome public park system.  Look at all the links to the parks we have on the left  side of the page if you’ve just clicked this link.  You can camp, horseback ride, take the kids on a train ride, ride on a carousel, go to a zoo, hike, barbecue, use cycle paths or just relax with a walk in the park.  There are so many playgrounds for children including a handicap accessible area at Van Saun Park.  We have nearly 9,000 acres of parks for everyone to enjoy.

Golf is huge in Bergen County and our County Park system shows it.  There are 9 public golf courses.  All but 1 are 18 hole courses.  Bergen County Golf is open all Labor Day Weekend.

There you have it – plenty of things to do in Bergen County Labor Day Weekend.  If you’re home and not away, you can certainly have a lot of fun.

My parents always had a big barbecue over Labor Day Weekend growing up.  The entire family came along with tons of friends.  We often went to the Rutherford Street Fair on Monday and at some point in time to Little Italy in Manhattan too. Those are great memories.  So turn off the TV and video games and get out to make some of your own!

 

 

 

 

Posted by & filed under Buying.

how long does it take to buy a homeHow long does it take to buy a home is a question I hear a lot.  Because this is so important for you, let’s take a good look at what’s involved.

Everyone Is Not the Same

You want to buy a home and you’re not sure how long this will take.  Friends tell you they’ve looked forever.  Others found their home in a matter of weeks.  Going online doesn’t really help because the answers you find are vague.

The truth is that there is no perfect answer.  It depends on so many variables.  Home buyers come to me with different stages of readiness and preparedness.  As a result, it’s impossible to give you all the same answer.  I can, however, outline things so you can figure out how long you’ll need.

A Lot Depends On You

It is true that a lot depends on you.  How fast you get documents to your banker is important.  Additionally the banker and bank you choose matters a lot.

So is the time you commit to finding a home.  Do you go out to see homes every week or once per month?  Your agent calls to tell you a great house just came on the market.  Do you react quickly or not?

Preparing to Buy A House  buyer consultation

The most efficient start is the buyer consultation.  We get together at my office and in 1 hour or so you save yourself tons of time and avoid making mistakes.

I teach you the home buying process, what a true pre approval is and why you need it plus we identify your needs and wants.  We go over attorneys and home inspectors too.  Great agents take the time to do this for you.

It’s now time to get correctly pre-approved.  Budget 1 week for this because on top of your already full life, you have to gather financial documents.

The Next Steps

Most home buyers take 2-3 months or so of looking to find a home.  You might have to make several offers before you capture a house.  Let’s figure 2.5 months to get a contract on a house.

house huntingThe contract goes to the attorneys who review and adjust it to a final binding contract.  This takes 1 week typically.

Next comes the home inspections.  You have 10 days to get this done but plan on 2 weeks because the radon test might need 2 or 3 days extra for results.  Inspection issue negotiations can also take a few days.

It’s 1 month from when you first got your contract.  Next comes finishing off the mortgage and preparing for the closing.  Now it’s pretty much in the hands of your attorney, the title company and your banker.  During this time you will be asked for even more from your banker.  Additionally you’ll settle on your homeowner insurance and set up moving in.

How Long Does It Take To Buy A Home

So how long does it take to buy a home is answered by adding it all up.  It’s 2 months for the actual process and 2-3 months to find your home.  Can you do it quicker?  Yes but the less time you have, the more pressure you’re under.

Questions?  Call or text me at 201-741-8490.

 

 

 

 

Posted by & filed under Buying.

FHAThe new FHA loan rule for condominiums helps first time home buyers tremendously.  Announced yesterday in a press release, the new rule takes effect on October 15th.

FHA Approved Condominiums

The FHA Condominium Project Approval & Processing Guide  is 95 pages long.  Requirements are strict and it’s a costly, tedious process for any condo association.  Condominium associations simply don’t apply due to the cost and aggravation.

You use the FHA website to find out which condos are approved.  Sort by County, put in New Jersey as the State, Bergen as the County and click Send at the bottom of the page for results.  It is surprising to see how many buildings were rejected by the FHA.

Bergen County FHA Approved Condominiums

There are only 5 approved condominiums in Bergen County.  They are Baridge House and Carlyle Towers in Hackensack, Darlington Ridge and Paddington Square in Mahwah and Regency Park in Ramsey.  Several have approvals expiring this year.

It is shocking to learn only 5 are approved since there are hundreds of Bergen County condo buildings.  This makes it very tough for first time home buyers because condos are often affordable.  As a result many people who could qualify for an affordable condo are stuck in rentals.

The New FHA Condominium Loan Rule

The new FHA condominium loan rule aims to solve this problem.  It is no longer necessary for a building to be FHA approved.  The new rule states that just the unit itself can be approved.  That’s huge.  Federal Housing Authority

The FHA tells us that 84% of it’s borrowers are first time home buyers.  Condo apartments are often an affordable start to home ownership.  Because of this, the new FHA loan rule was created to increase the number of approved condos.

Additionally, this might force associations to apply for approval.  Condo owners will take notice and ask their associations to apply for building approval.  Similarly unit owners will hold association feet to the fire and ask why their building failed.

Please remember this takes effect on October 15th and change does take time.  If you have questions or need help, call or text me at 201-741-8490.

 

Posted by & filed under Bergen County LIfe.

coyoteCoyotes are everywhere in the NYC metro area.  I know this might sound strange but they’ve been spotted all over.  To name a few places, coyotes have been seen in Manhattan, Westchester County, Rockland County, Bergen County and Long Island.  It seems that no matter where you live these days around New York City, coyotes are there.  We find them 2 hours and more away from NYC too.

How to Recognize a Coyote

Because these animals are canines, people often mistake them for a dog.  Look at the picture above.  While nearly everyone will think this is a dog, it isn’t.  This is a coyote.  Since they have very bushy tails, it really is easy to recognize them.  Take a look at the next picture and you’ll see what I mean.  Dogs don’t have tails like this.  As a result, it’s easy to spot them. 

Predators

Coyotes are predators.  Because of this, they can be dangerous.  They feed on small animals but also animals as big as deers.  While they prefer small animals they will eat almost anything.  Whatever comes their way is fine which is why they are called opportunistic feeders.

Because pets and small children can be prey for these animals, you must not leave them outside alone.  It’s important to be vigilant.  Since coyotes hunt in packs they can easily take down a dog or a small child.  Last week a sole coyote attacked a woman in Mahwah.

Don’t Invite Them

It’s true that coyotes are everywhere in the NYC metro area.  However that doesn’t have to mean you’ll meet one.  The key is to not leave food around outside and to keep your garbage cans securely shut.  Because they are opportunistic feeders, you invite them into your home by leaving food around outside.  Don’t give them a reason to come by leaving food around or access to your garbage cans.

If You See One

In all the articles I’ve found the first advice is to not run.  This is followed by make a loud noise and then throw something at them.  The lady in Mahwah who was attacked and bitten had started to run away when she saw a coyote on her property.  The best website I found is the Urban Coyote Research Project from Cook County (where Chicago is located) and Ohio State University.

Generally speaking, they won’t bother you if you don’t bother them.  This assumes that you are not inviting them in.  Coyotes are everywhere in the NYC metro area and across the US too.

 

 

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

new milford homeThis New Milford home is coming soon.  It will be in the MLS later this week with an open house on Sunday.  We are almost done getting it ready for the market because the current family needed to do a few things.

They lived here happily for a long time.  As a result, they had tons of things they no longer needed because they are retiring.  They are downsizing to a retirement home in South Jersey and needed time to give items to family members.

This is a 3 bedroom 3 bath house that is very unique.  It has 3 levels.  The first floor has a full sized living room and dining room.  There is also an eat in kitchen, bedroom and bath.  The side hall staircase leads you to a 2nd and 3rd level.  A large bedroom sits on the 2nd level and both another full bath and Master Bedroom is on the 3rd level.  You will also find a large open area ideal for a home office or sitting room.

The finished basement includes a rec room, summer kitchen, another room and full bath.  The unfinished area has the washer/dryer and utility area.

The yard is magnificent.  It’s private and so big.  The back of the house has a full width deck and concrete patio so barbecue parties with all your friends and family are easy.  Because the backyard is so big, it has a sprinkler system installed.  This makes keeping it watered a snap.

Heating is gas hot water with 4 zones and there’s central air too.

The reason this New Milford home is coming soon and not today is because we also need pictures.  I scheduled professional photography, a floor plan and a Matterport 3D Tour over the next few days.  It’s important to wait until everything is in place before you put a home on the market.

New Milford has a great school district too.  The State of New Jersey School Performance Report on New Milford shows a very respectable 559 and 560 SAT score for Reading/Writing and Math.  

Asking price is $479,000 and taxes are $10,581 currently.  If you want to see this home or know someone who would, call me at 201-741-8490.

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.