Posted by & filed under Bergen County LIfe, Buying, Homeowner Tips.

Bergen County has a great website that you will love.  It has a tremendous amount of information on what seems to be an endless number of topics.  You will be quite impressed with how comprehensive the site is.

Many people who own a Bergen County home are familiar with their own town’s website.  They’re much less familiar with the county website and a great number don’t even know it exists.

I always make sure my clients know about these websites.  Buyers especially love them.  If you haven’t checked out your town’s website, you really should.

Bergen County’s  site is gorgeous and an outstanding resource.  From the home page to deeper into it, you’ll find so much information on any topic you can imagine.

The website focuses on business development and the process for bidding on County projects.  I found this to be particularly impressive. Its under Work With Bergen County

Of course there’s the list of Departments and Services but even here you’ll be impressed with an amazing list of everything Bergen County has to offer.  The About Bergen County section does have what you’d expect – history, news, photos, demographics – but also a strong emphasis on family oriented activities.

Speaking of demographics, this section is awesome.  You will find an entire section on economic data .in addition to expected census figures.

There is no doubt that Bergen County has a great website  You will appreciate it more and more as the years go by.  Whether you need the help of a department or service, want information or are looking for a fun family event, this will be your go to place for everything the county has to offer.

It doesn’t matter if you live here already or are just thinking of moving in.  Bergen County’s website is one you can’t afford to miss.

Posted by & filed under Buying, Selling.

Whether you’re buying a house or selling a house title work is important. Ordering it late can hurt both home buyer and homeowner.  Unfortunately title is often ordered near a closing date.

Title work begins with a title search.  A title search verifies that the seller actually owns the house and finds liens on the house.  The buyer’s attorney orders the search to make sure the house is free and clear of all liens at closing.

Why is it a problem to order the title search late?  Because if a problem is discovered, there may not be enough time to fix it by the scheduled closing date.  This can create a horrible situation for everyone.

Currently there’s a major delay in a closing.  It’s an estate sale (seller is deceased) so no one knew the home was refinanced twice.  Both refi loans showed up as liens although paid in full because the banks didn’t record them properly.  One was cleared up in a few days but the other is a mess.  So far the closing is delayed nearly one month.

The buyer needs to move in – they’re nearly at the end of their lease with a new tenant coming in.  The heir is using the proceeds to buy the house of his dreams.  The buyer may end up in a hotel paying storage on her things and the seller  may lose the house he loves.

The attorney ordered title late to be certain the transaction will get to closing.  I feel this is an archaic procedure.  Title searches cost a few hundred dollars; this delay will cost both sides thousands.

It is true.  Whether you’re buying a house or selling a house, title work is important.  Ordering it late can create havoc. Everything in life is a risk.  Make sure your attorney orders title early on to avoid trouble like this.

Posted by & filed under Bergen County LIfe.

Unwanted guests are coming to Bergen County.  Winter is almost over.  In a few weeks we’ll be turning the clocks forward and soon after spring officially starts.  The 2017 winter has been quite mild; one of the warmest I’ve experienced.  Warm winters, however, bring unwanted guests – ticks.

This is not isolated to Bergen County – the entire eastern Mid-Atlantic region has had a mild winter.  A few semi major storms have kept our snowfall count near normal but a long period of freezing temperatures day after day as you’d expect never happened.  The result is a huge increase in the tick population.

I enjoy taking our dog, Mickey, to local parks for long walks.  It’s fun and good for both of us.  Last year in very early spring while it was still cold outside, I came home from one of those walks and was shocked to find a tick in Mickey’s fur .  I didn’t expect to worry about ticks for at least another month.

Dr. Suss of Bergen Veterinary Hospital saw Mickey right away and removed every tick.  She explained that because of the mild winter we were having (this was 2016) the tick population had increased tremendously.  Dr. Suss said that she advises all cat and dog owners to maintain flea and tick protection year round.

Dr. Suss made the point that rabbits as well as deer carry ticks.  Rabbits didn’t leave for the winter because it hasn’t been very cold  More rabbits mean more ticks she explained.

Mickey and I see deer and rabbits all the time when walking in Tenafly and Englewood. There are so many of them around here.  I took this picture of a deer across the street from my home.

2017 is another mild winter that will bring those unwanted guests, ticks, to Bergen County.  I know one thing – I’m prepared this year and you should be too.

If you have a child, call your pediatrician.  If you have a dog or cat, call your vet.  Take proper precautions so you don’t have ticks as unwanted guests in 2017.

Posted by & filed under Buying.

Do you know how to buy a house in Bergen County? If you don’t, you could find the home buying process a nightmare.  Even if you own a home now, the way you bought yours years ago is not the way it’s done today.

Here’s a brief review –

 

  • You find the home you want
  • You make an offer on the NJ State mandated contract with a pre-approval
  • Negotiations come next – let’s say you come to an agreement
  • The offer is revised to reflect the agreement and sent to the seller
  • The seller signs the offer so it is now a contract for sale
  • This contract is scanned and emailed to you and your attorney
  • Attorney Review is next.  As a result, a firm, binding contract is created.
  • Next comes the home inspection
  • Any issues found are often negotiated with the seller.
  • If you come to agreement on inspection issues, you move forward.  If not, the contract is cancelled.
  • Very often this is when the first part of the down payment is sent to the seller’s attorney
  • The mortgage is processed
  • Your attorney will order the title, survey, prepare the closing document.
  • The closing document document is sent to you at least 3 days before closing
  • You do a walk through inspection on the way to closing (sometimes 1 week earlier too)
  • Now you close on your new home in your attorney’s office.

I’ll fill in more details in future articles but this is basically how to buy a house in Bergen County.  You’ll need an attorney – that’s for a future article too.  Learning the home buying process early on puts you in control because you will know what you’re doing.  A lot of unnecessary stress is eliminated as a result.  It’s not hard to do this – I usually go over the 13 page contract with my customers in barely 30 minutes.

Have questions, want to go over this with me?  Contact me for help.

Posted by & filed under Selling.

Professional photography is a must when you are selling your house.  There is nothing more important in a marketing plan.  Nothing.

Homeowners ask about commission and technology when interviewing agents to list their home.  The National Association of Realtors agrees.  NAR surveys have these as the #1 and #2 seller concerns.

Almost all buyers – the last figure I saw was 95% – look for homes online.  Naturally sellers want to know what an agent will do to make their home visible in web searches. Sounds logical, doesn’t it?

However, if what a buyer sees doesn’t excite them when they look at your home online, you’ve lost.  And lost big.  Being visible online doesn’t guarantee interest in your home. 

Professional photography is a must because the first thing a buyer sees is a picture of your house.  Not a video.  Not a wonderful write up.  A picture.  If that photo of your house grabs them so they want to look at more, you’ve won.  Half the battle is over because now you have a buyer getting motivated about your home.

So does commission matter?  Does your home’s internet placement matter?  Not if the first picture isn’t a “Wow!” and the rest just as good.

You have 1-2 seconds to capture a buyer with the first picture they see.  If they like it, they’ll click on to see more (assuming those photos are also excellent) and read your home’s details.

I take great pictures with my Nikon d7200 but I’m not a professional.  For every home I list, I hire a photographer.  It is that crucial to my homeowner’s success.  Video tours are nice but that comes after you’ve captured a buyer’s interest with knock your socks off photography.

Professional photography is a must always.  There is no substitute if you want to get the most buyers in to your home and achieve the highest price the market will bring.

Posted by & filed under Homeowner Tips.

Spring rains are flooding this house

Spring rains are coming.  Is your house ready?  Not sure what this means?  Why would anyone worry about it now?  I’ve got answers for you.

1st – It’s New Jersey.  Bergen County to be precise and spring means rain.  A good amount of it and in the form of drenching storms that can last days on end.  Yikes!

2nd – Spring is only 6 weeks away.  That’s right folks, it’s coming sooner than you think.  March 20th to be exact but to be safe, back that up to early March.

If your home is not prepared you will be a VERY unhappy camper.

Water in the basement

Remember when you bought your home?  The home inspection?  How worried you were about mold and water in the basement?  If you don’t get that house of yours ready now, you might end up with water in the basement and mold.

Here’s what you do –

Examine the exterior.  Look for vulnerable areas – where caulking has worn away, raw wood is exposed, clogged gutters etc.  Check for loose or missing roof tiles, flashing issues etc.  Get gutters and leaders cleaned out.  Check the slope of dirt around your house – rain should run away from and not into your foundation. You can let roofing company do it for you aswell, there are many Portland companies that specialize in roofing but not many stand the test of time.

Clogged gutters and downspouts

I’m not an expert so I call in professionals – handyman, landscaper, roofer.  If your landscaper doesn’t do gutters, add in a gutter specialist.

Is your house ready for spring rains?  If not, it can cost you thousands and tons of aggravation.  The smart play is to spend a few hundred and avoid all this grief.  Be pro-active.  Don’t wait for trouble – eliminate it.

If you haven’t had trouble and think you’re safe, it can happen.

A Tenafly client who never had a problem like this for 23+ years ended up with a wet basement like the picture above due to clogged downspouts.  Don’t gamble with your house.

Need some help in finding the right professional like ASAP Waterproofing? Give us a call.

Posted by & filed under Buying.

63 W Hudson Ave in Englewood is a condominium complex known as Estates of Englewood.  I just listed unit A 11 there for $139,000.  This is a 1 bedroom condo apartment on the 2nd floor of what used to be a garden apartment complex.

Garden apartments were the subject of many condo and cooperative conversions in the mid to late 1980’s.  In fact many older apartment buildings were also converted into such shared ownership entities.  Estates of Englewood is popular for the following reasons – ease of commute and convenient to local shopping.

NJ Transit has a bus stop 2 blocks away where you can take the 166 bus into the Port Authority Bus Terminal at 41st Street in Manhattan and there’s also Coach USA’s 20 bus as well.  During rush hour, commuting express buses will get you there in less than 1 hour most mornings.

This location is also very convenient for your basic needs.  Within a 1-2 block walk you have nearly everything you’d need – dry cleaner, Walgreen’s, bagel/deli, luncheonette, coffee & pie shop, bank, Chinese takeout, liquor store and more.  Major shopping including a new expanded Shoprite Supermarket is 1 mile away along with Englewood’s wonderful business district and the Bergen County Performing Arts Center.

Because Estates of Englewood is a well run complex and so conveniently located, many condo units there have been purchased by investors.  55% (according to Preferred Management) are not owner occupied so you can’t get a mortgage.  When it comes to condo complexes, banks won’t loan unless the owner occupied rate is at least or over 50%.

A 11 is a very nice unit with a large living room, dining area and spacious bedroom. Floor are primarily oak hardwood and in good shape.  The living room faces the courtyard which is nice.

Maintenance is $250 per month (includes heat and water) and there’s on site coin operated laundry.   Property taxes are $3,940.  Just contact me to see this affordable start in ownership or investing at 63 W Hudson Ave in Englewood.

Posted by & filed under Buying.

14 N Browning Ave in Tenafly NJ is a handsome colonial home.  I just listed for $659,000.  It’s a great start to home ownership in Tenafly and might be exactly what you’re looking for.

This house has what most buyers ask for – good commute, great schools, updated condition, plenty of space, a deep yard and a quiet street.

Commuting to NYC is a breeze because there are 2 express buses to NYC (NJ Transit #166 and Coach USA #14) only 3 blocks away.  You will get to the Port Authority Bus Terminal in just under 1 hour most mornings.

Tenafly schools are renown for their excellence.  Tenafly, consequently, is a magnet for families with school aged children.  Go to the New Jersey School Performance Report This is a bi-annual survey New Jersey does on all of it’s school districts. You will find that Tenafly schools score very well.

Condition is great because 14 N Browning Ave in Tenafly is updated and renovated.  The kitchen is simply stunning.  it has beautiful granite counter tops, Italian tile back splash all from Floform, custom Fabuwood cabinets and Kitchenaid stainless steel appliances.  In addition, the bathroom renovations are just as beautiful and also done with high end materials.

The basement rec room is nicely updated.  There is new wall to wall carpet and the room has been painted along with the rest of the interior.

Main level wood floors are refinished and stained to a beautiful warm hue.  As a result, the living and dining rooms have a very sophisticated appeal.

Space is generous.  You won’t find that tiny 3rd bedroom you’re so used to seeing elsewhere.  Bedrooms are big as are the living and dining rooms.

An added plus is gas hot air heat with central air for warmer months.

14 North Browning Ave in Tenafly is located on a quiet street and has everything you want.  If you’re looking for a home in Tenafly I’m sure this one won’t disappoint.

The market for Tenafly homes is very strong.  Offers for houses in updated and/or renovated condition are often received in less than 2 weeks.  As a result it’s not unusual to have more than 1 offer.  Contact me soon to look at 14 N Browning Ave in Tenafly before it really is too late.

 

Posted by & filed under Buying.

Shopping for a mortgage on the internet seems like a natural thing to do.  After all, we do everything on the web from Amazon to YouTube.  However when buying a home the right mortgage banker isn’t a website.

In our “I can do it myself” world we don’t want to be told what to do.  We can find everything we need on the web.  There is, however, one problem – algorithms can’t figure out which mortgage is best for us.

You’ve been taught to do it the wrong way by marketing gurus.  It’s their job to sell you and they’ve sold you on shopping for rates and that websites are easy.  These flawed concepts can hurt you badly.

Let’s take shopping for rates.  How can one bank be so much higher or lower than another when they get their money from the same source?  Rates fluctuate so if Bank A quotes a rate at 10 am and Bank B at 3:15 pm it’s no wonder there’s a difference.  And what fees are included in the rate they’re quoting you?

Shopping for rates is a waste of your time.  Comparing bank fees is not.  Think about this too: Today’s interest rate doesn’t matter.  The rate you get can be months away when you lock in your mortgage.

The right banker is not a website.  Sitting down with a mortgage professional from a FDIC direct lender is best.  He or she will take the time to listen to you, understand your needs and give you several different options.  They’ll also teach you the mortgage process.

The bottom line is that while the internet has information, when buying a home the right mortgage banker is essential.  That banker will give you the guidance and knowledge you need to make the best decisions.  No website can do that.

If you want the names of some great mortgage bankers, just let me know.

 

Posted by & filed under Buying.

Young happy couple shopping for new homeBuying a home can be scary.  C’mon.  Admit it.  This IS a big deal. No matter how much you research on the web, no one tells you where’s the best place to start your home search.  But, everyone tries to sell you.

You’ll find tons of agents saying “I’ve got 1 million years of experience, I’ve sold 1 zillion houses, I’m the #1 agent” and banks promising a mortgage in 15 minutes or less.  Sound familiar?

The best place to start is with you.  While this will probably make most agents pass out, the first question to ask is “Do I want to do this or do I feel I have to?”.

Buying a “big ticket item” is stressful.  Deep in your gray matter a little voice asks “Are you sure?”  This is normal.  As a result you do some trial runs before committing to buying a house.

You surf the web, go to a few open houses, take it slow.  One day you say to yourself, OK, I’m in.  Let’s go get a house. So now you’re up at 2 am looking online, spending Sundays at open houses and eventually looking with an agent.  homesearch-online

This is what most home buyers do.  It’s always a mistake.  Why?  Because the best place to start is with a banker who insists on a full pre-approval before you begin your home search.

I know, it’s a royal pain in the neck.  That horrible banker wants tons of paperwork.  This is work!  Yes it is.

While it’s easy to learn what you qualify for, that’s not enough.  Most of all you must  know what monthly payment is right for you.  No internet algorithm does this.

BLACK COUPLE BEING GRANTED A BANK LOANAn excellent banker will put you into the best loan for your needs and budget.  They’ll take the time to go over several mortgage options and to educate you fully.

So forget the space ships, forget Happy Banker who asks for nothing and the lousy agent who allows this to “close you”.  Do it right.

Need help in finding a good banker?  Stay tuned – that’s my next article in this series on Buying A Home.