Bergen County Players presents Veronica’s Room starting this weekend. It is a play written by Ira Levin that opens this Saturday night, February 16th, with an 8 pm curtain. Performances run through March 9th on weekends. Tickets are priced at $21 for Fridays and Saturdays. Sundays are $17.
Ira Levin is a novelist and a playwright. Because his novels were so well received and filled with suspense, many were turned into movies. You might recognize some or all of these examples: Rosemary’s Baby, The Stepford Wives, The Boys from Brazil, Sliver and Deathtrap. Deathtrap remains the longest running comedy thriller on Broadway. Mr. Levin won many awards for his writing so it’s no wonder that play goers are eager to see Veronica’s Room.
Veronica’s Room is like so many of Ira Levin’s works. It is filled with suspense, adult themes and plot twists. It includes everything from false identities to murder. Programs identify the characters as Man, Woman, etc. This is because to do otherwise can reveal the plot and spoil your experience. I thought this was an interesting fact. Since Veronica’s room is adult in it’s theme and language, it’s not appropriate for children.
Bergen County Players
Bergen County Players is a local live theater group that I have written about often. They put on terrific plays year round. Ticket prices are moderate as you saw above. Parking is on the street or in a nearby municipal lot. It was once an old fire house and today is a fully equipped and recently renovated theater. Productions began in the 1950’s so there is a long history here. I love the fact that they also produce plays for children. It’s great fun to introduce a child to live theater here. Children love it and especially because after a performance, they get to meet the characters.
Go to Veronica’s Room. You get to see an Ira Levin play and support local live theater at the same time.
Hackensack Condo By The Train
I just listed a 1 bedroom Hackensack condo by the train for $139,000. New Jersey Transit trains go to Penn Station in Manhattan from here. The entire trip takes about 30 minutes so this is a fabulous commute. The building is located only a 5-7 minute walk to the train station
While this condo is on the 1st floor, it’s not on ground level because it’s 1 story above. Maintenance is $259.29 and property taxes are $3,710. The building has an elevator plus covered and outside parking spaces. There is a coin operated laundry room a few doors away from this unit. The floor plan is open. It really is one large space with a separate bedroom.
Sunlight flows in through the sliding glass doors. They open onto a nice balcony which the current tenant enjoys in warmer weather. Ceiling height is good too.
This Hackensack condo is in a location that is upgrading. There are several other buildings on the street and nearby new construction for more condo and rental buildings. Years ago this was a more industrial type area. Investment in Hackensack can be seen throughout the city.
Hackensack is one of 5 cities in Bergen County. We define a city as having 25,000 people or more. Because we are literally on top of Manhattan, Bergen County gets a lot of home buyers from New York City. By NYC standards our cities are suburbs. They do appear this way to be sure. In NYC there are apartment buildings with more than 25,000 people so our cities certainly don’t look like what they’re used to.
Buy It For What You’d Rent It
Hackensack condos are in big demand because they are more affordable than Fort Lee. Both locations have hi rise buildings and many garden and mid rise buildings.
One bedroom units are also very popular because they often cost the same as renting. This is true here too.
This condo would rent for at least $1,200 per month. Mortgage cost is $669.50 at 4.5% with a 5% down payment. Add maintenance ($259.29) and taxes ($310) for a total of $1,238.79 monthly. Insurance costs would be comparable so I didn’t factor that in.
This comfortable and bright Hackensack condo is a great start to home ownership and possibly a great investment too. If you want to take a look, contact me today.
Where is real estate going is a question that comes up at the beginning of every year. No one has a perfect crystal ball but looking at the dynamics of the market gives us a pretty good idea.
Mortgage rates rose in 2018 and will again in 2019. We began 2018 at 3.85% and rose to 5% by early fall. As rates go up, affordability goes down. This resulted in a steeper 3rd quarter decline than the year before.
Rates started falling throughout the fall and were back down to mid 4% by December and have been holding there since. Once people got through the holidays, buyers came back in a major way 2 weeks ago. Bankers tell me that rates should stay in this range for the next few months.
Stability is the word to use. While you need to look at a town specifically to really know what’s happening, overall the stabilization that began in 2017 continued.
The number of sales rose 1% from 12,624 to 12,700. Days on market reduced by about 5 days – from 66 to 60.8. That’s 4% fewer days but I’m sure you’ll agree selling a house 5 days quicker really isn’t dramatic. Prices were pretty flat too. The average sales price in Bergen County rose 2% from $511,282 to $523,087.
Inventory is the number of available homes for sale. If you’ve been looking for a home, you know the inventory stinks. There isn’t a lot to look at. Since the 14% rise between 2015 and 2016, inventory levels have been flat. We have sales of 12,257 in 2016, 12,624 in 2017 and 12,700 in 2018. This is just 4% more sales since 2016 (appreciation was only 5%).
Demand has increased tremendously since 2016. You see that by the sharp decline in how long a home stays for sale. Days on market dropped 17%. Homes sold nearly 2 weeks quicker and that’s huge.
The Bottom Line
Today there are only 2,178 Bergen County homes for sale in the New Jersey MLS. This is another low inventory year. Mortgage rates while good are nearly 1% higher than at the start of 2018. As a result the market will remain stabilized because higher rates + prices up a bit mean homes today cost more. 2019 seems like a repeat of 2018 and that’s good.
So where is real estate going in Bergen County? Its going to continue it’s positive, stable trend. This is a general view of the market; where you live or want to buy might be different. Contact me if you’d like to know about any particular area or neighborhood.
Lead in drinking water in Bergen County and northern Hudson County has been found by Suez Water. Because I’ve been asked about this lately, I thought writing an article would be helpful.
Suez Water is the water utility company servicing almost all of Bergen County and northern Hudson County. On January 16th they published their findings in an article on their website and at a public press conference. They tested 108 homes and found 16 (15%) with elevated levels of lead in the drinking water. They also tested the water they were sending out and found no lead at all.
How Lead Gets Into Your Water
So how did this happen? Suez came up with two reasons –
- Many homes built before 1986 used lead pipes to connect to the water main
- Many homes have lead solder and fixtures
Suez will test any home for lead in their drinking water for free. Click here to find out how to get your home tested.
The Good News
You might not think of this as good news but if you own an affected home, you’re not alone. This is not a NJ or Bergen County problem. Homes built before 1986 number in the millions all over the US.
The good news is that you can do something about this. Today you can buy NSF rated water filters that remove lead and other contaminants from water. It’s up to you and your budget on the system you use. You can do whole house systems or just a sink faucet. While it’s several thousand dollars, you can replace that old lead water pipe in your lawn too.
The EPA (US Environmental Protection Agency) has an entire section on lead in drinking water on their website. New Jersey’s DEP (Department of Environmental Protection) has a section on lead in drinking water as well on their website. Let’s not forget Suez Water either as another resource.
If you need more help, let me know.
What can I afford in a house is always the right question to ask. Why? Because what you can afford is more than a mortgage quote.
Affordability is Everything
Affordability is everything. It is no fun to be house poor. I bet you know these folks – they used to go out to dinner, to the movies etc. But they just bought a house and now nothing’s left over once the mortgage is paid. How did this happen? They didn’t understand affordability.
What Can I Afford In A House
Let’s look at the total cost of owning a house –
- Property Taxes
- Homeowner Insurance
- Utilities (Oil/Gas/Electric/Water)
- Maintenance (Landscaping/Snow Removal/Regular Maintenance)
I’m not including a few other items that may or may not apply – a home warranty for houses with appliances/furnaces etc. that are more than 5 years old, a termite warranty and oil tank insurance.
I’m also assuming that you have a few month’s worth of mortgage payments in a separate account for emergencies such as a new roof, upgrades etc. If not, you should budget in 3-6 month’s worth of mortgage payments for this. I’d say at least $100 per month until you have this saved up.
Using a $500,000 purchase with a 5% down payment, here’s what we have –
- $475,000 mortgage – $2,450 p/month
- $12,000 property taxes – $1,000 p/month
- Homeowner Insurance – $100 p/month
- Heat, cooling, gas, electric – $300 p/month
- Maintenance – $125 p/month
While your mortgage comes to $3,550 per month you have an additional $425 per month in expenses. Many home buyers focus on just the mortgage payment and that’s how you can get into trouble.
So here’s the formula for what’s affordable – mortgage + carrying costs. If that figure works for you, then the house is affordable.
To do this right, however, you must have accurate figures. I’ve seen a lot of mortgages figured with ridiculously low homeowner insurance and property tax figures. If you’d like help in getting the right figures to buy a home, just call or text me at 201-741-8490.
Multi family homes for sale in Bergen County NJ are always very popular. Serious investors, first time home buyers and just folks who want to begin a real estate portfolio all find multi family properties attractive. While 1-4 family homes are residential over 4 units becomes commercial real estate. Because I specialize in residential real estate, I’ll leave commercial to experts in that field. I do know a great commercial agent so contact me for this if your interest is commercial.
The Multi Family Home Market Today
There are 208 multi family homes for sale in the New Jersey MLS right now. They range in price from $145,000 up to $1,799,889. Most are 2 families – 192 to be exact. Since they are so popular, the ratio of for sale to under contract is always very strong. Today it’s 192 for sale/134 under contract for a 1.6 to 1 ratio.
Low inventory + strong demand = higher prices. It doesn’t look like this will change any time soon. More first time buyers are purchasing these properties simply because it makes good economic sense. I’ve always encouraged this with the goal to keep them as long term investments. I wrote a blog article on buying a 2 family home a few years ago about this.
For those of you who took my advice back then, your investment would have grown by a whopping 16% according to the New Jersey MLS (comparing all 1-4 family sales in 2016 against 2018). If you’re thinking about a multi family purchase, you really should read my article on buying a 2 family home.
What Buying A Multi Family Means to You
Investors look at multi family homes strictly for cash flow. They analyze expenses vs income to calculate the cap rate. They have a set goal because this is strictly a business investment. Some will consider doing major work as long as “the numbers work” .
Owner occupiers see things differently. Because they want a home and an investment, multi family homes are the answer. They use these properties to build equity quicker than with a single family purchase. They also see them as protection against future bumps in the road because at least some of the mortgage is covered every month.
Multi family homes for sale in Bergen County NJ are and will always be very popular. If you want to kick some ideas around or explore a purchase, call me at 201-741-8490.
There are cool things for kids in January happening in Bergen County. You might think that because the holidays are behind us, there isn’t much available. There is most definitely!
The Wizard of Oz
This is the 80th anniversary of The Wizard of Oz. It is considered to be one of the greatest films ever made and it’s also one of the most beloved. To celebrate it’s anniversary, there are special screenings in movie theaters throughout the US. Imagine how much fun it will be to take your children to see The Wizard of Oz in a movie theater. Dates are January 27, 29 and 30. You order your tickets at your local theater online – just click here.
Tenafly Nature Center
It’s time for the annual scavenger hunt at the Tenafly Nature Center. Held next weekend on Saturday, January 12th, this is a fun family activity that teaches children about nature. Because each family must work together, it teaches children team building skills as well. There’s still time to register for this event – just click here. This is great for young children because it’s only 1 hour long. Young children need activities that aren’t much more than that after all.
The date is January 17th for American Girl Live. Based upon the characters from the American Girl series of dolls, this is an all new original musical.
Bergen Pac also has a special series of events in it’s Kids Cabaret Series. January’s event has been sold out for quite a while but tickets are available for all others. This introduces young children to the performing arts. You should know that they are making a stronger effort towards children with autism and disabilities.
is Bergen County’s own ski resort. It is located in Mahwah and snow making should be in full force very shortly. There is tubing ,down hill skiing and special programs for children. Because Campgaw is part of Bergen County’s parks system, it’s more affordable. Since we don’t have huge mountains here, it’s not extremely challenging. As a result, it’s a great way to introduce children to skiing and to just have fun on the slopes.
Your Local Library
Your local library has ongoing programs for children. We forget what a treasure our local libraries are. Children gain a love of reading, learn how to find answers with the help of the research librarian and even develop habits of discipline all in a friendly, positive environment. Check your local library out to see what’s on their schedule for children. I’m sure you’ll be glad you did.
There are plenty of cool things for kids in January right here. If I’ve missed any, let me know and I’ll add them in.
Kwanzaa arrives this week. Christmas is upon us and that means Kwanzaa is right behind, It begins the day after Christmas and lasts 1 week. You might ask “What is Kwanza?” Here is the answer;
What is Kwanzaa
Kwanzaa is not a religious holiday. It is an African American cultural festival which was created in the United States by Professor Maulana Ndabezitha Karenga in 1966. It comes from the black nationalist and black power movements of the 1960’s and 1970’s. Professor Karenga was intimately involved in both as a major leading figure. He created Kwanzaa because he wanted African Americans to connect with their cultural heritage.
The word originates from the Swahili phrase “matunda ya kwanza” or first fruits. Professor Karenga used Swahili because Swahili is the most widely spoken African language. First fruits come from the first harvest. These celebrations go back thousands of years in Africa. As a result, this speaks to his goal of uniting the community through their African heritage. Kwanzaa expands every year and is celebrated in countries around the world.
Kwanzaa is spelled with 7 letters because it has 7 principles or Nguzo Saba. Since each day is focused on 1 of the 7 principles, it lasts 1 week. A candle is lit each day and on the 7th gifts are exchanged. The Kinara is the candle holder and it’s placed on a mat called the Mkeka. Because each candle represents a specific principle, candles are lit in a specific order. The black candle in the center is the first one lit. There are 3 red candles to the left and 3 green to the right.
These are the 7 principles if Kwanzaa:
- Umoja or Unity
- Kujichagulia or Self-Determination
- Ujima or Collective Work and Responsibility
- Ujamaa or Cooperative Economics
- Nia or Purpose
- Kuumba or Creativity
- Imani or Faith
Kwanzaa is a celebration of life principles as well as a gathering of the African community. It is filled with symbolism. This is why a bowl of fruit (Mazao), ears of corn (Muhindi) and a unity cup (Kikombe cha Umoja) are also placed around the Kinara.
You have a feast on the 6th day and people exchange gifts on the 7th day to end this holiday. African themed decorations, music and dress should be part of the celebration too. This is a time for people of African descent to come together as a community, commemorate the heritage of their ancestors and re-affirm the special life principles that make up their African culture.
Bergen County is highly diverse. Because we are, life here is wonderfully entwined with a large variety of cultures, backgrounds and religions. This is why I say we have something for everyone. The African American community is part of our fabric of life. If you know someone who is celebrating Kwanzaa great them with Have a Joyous Kwanzaa!
The December holidays are in full swing. Hanukkah has begun tonight and Christmas is coming next. Here are some Christmas events in Bergen County for you to enjoy –
Bergen County’s Winter Wonderland is back again this year and it’s bigger and better than ever. This event is located in Van Saun Park and is one of the most popular family activities of the season.
Young children will love Jack and the Beanstalk at the Bergen County Players in Oradell. This musical production is simply terrific and runs through December 16th. Because it’s aimed at young children, this play runs 1 hour in length which is ideal for youngsters. The cast meets with the children afterward for pictures and autographs.
The Hermitage is a fabulous historical museum that hosts non stop holiday events every year. Santa’s Workshop on December 16th is from 1 to 3 pm. Santa and his elves welcome children in and pictures can be taken. It’s a lot of fun. There’s also Home for the Holidays Tours depicting what Christmas was like for a family in the 1930’s. These tours run through January and
are held Wednesdays – Sundays at 1:15, 2:15 and 3:15.
Bergen Pac has several holiday specials. The Vienna Boys Choir is on December 13th and A Christmas Carol is on December 15th and 16th.
The Nunnbetter Dance Theater presents the Nutcracker once again on December 7th-9th at various times.
Many towns had Christmas tree lightings around Thanksgiving this year when public menorahs were lighted. There are some that still have Santa and holiday parades to come. Check with your town and local Chamber of Commerce to see if anything is on the horizon.
There are also commercial establishments where you can meet Santa. Of course you have the malls but there’s also Abma’s Farm in Wyckoff (through the 16th) and
Holiday Menorah Lighting
Hanukkah is 1 of the 2 major December holidays celebrated in Bergen County. Christmas is the other followed by Kwanza and New Year’s Eve. As a result many towns have both giant menorahs and Christmas trees in their town square or other public place. Holiday menorah lighting usually includes a celebration too so it’s a lot of fun for all of us.
Here are menorah lightings in Bergen County –
- Allendale is Dec 4th at 6 pm at the Borough Hall
- Closter is Dec 9th at 7 pm at the Borough Hall
- Cresskill is Dec 4th at the Cresskill Library
- Demarest is Dec 2nd at 7 pm at the Duck Pond Gazebo
- Englewood is Dec 2nd at 6 pm in front of City Hall
- Fair Lawn is Dec 2nd at 7 pm at the City Hall
- Franklin Lakes is Dec 4th at the Borough Hall
- Glen Rock is Dec 6th at 6 pm at Kilroy’s Wonder Market
- Hackensack is Dec 2nd at 5:30 pm at Bergen County Courthouse
- Mahwah is Dec 3rd at 6 pm at the Mahwah Senior Center
- Oradell is Dec 2nd at 6 pm on the Borough Hall front lawn
- Paramus Dec 6th at 6 pm inside the Borough Hall
- Ridgewood is Dec 2nd at 5:30 pm at Memorial Park
- River Vale is Dec 5th at 6-9 pm at at the Community Center
- Tenafly is Dec 3rd at 7 pm in Huyler Park
- Tenafly Holiday Parade Dec 7th featuring Hanukkah among other holiday traditions
- Wyckoff is Dec 2nd at 4:30 pm at the Wyckoff Town Hall
There may be towns I’ve missed in addition to these. While I’ve spent a good deal of time looking up Menorah lightings, there may be some I’ve not found. Please contact me with any I’ve missed.
Also I found a great website that has everything you want to know about Hanukkah. Because I’m not Jewish, this fun and informative website is a big help. As a result, I better understand and appreciate Hanukkah, the Festival of Lights. To quote Martha Stewart, that’s a good thing.