Posted by & filed under Buying, Selling.

agents hate Zillow

Why do agents hate Zillow ?  Haven’t you wondered about this?

You’re working with a real estate agent.  You mention Zillow.  Your agent rolls their eyes, tells you it stinks and to not go there.  You wonder what’s wrong with your Realtor.

Zillow is a presence in the real estate market; it’s important to understand both its positives and negatives.

Let’s start with the positives – You’ll find a tremendous amount of information.  In addition to what you’d expect – homes, buyer/seller advice, mortgages – there’s information on home design, a great blog called Porchlight and a section on market trends/research. It’s easy to use and loads quickly.

So why the agent attitude?  Because so much of it is incorrect and misleading.  The blame for this lies with both agents and the website itself.

Homes listed on Zillow are edited by the listing agent.  Agents don’t always keep on top of things.  Price, status, details can all be incorrect.  As incredible as it may seem, there have been times when a home sold over 1 year ago is still posted as active.

The more people who visit a website, the more it can charge advertisers.  Zillow depends on its inventory of homes to attract people and they increase it by including homes no longer for sale.  While such homes have a notice in light gray (not easy to see) saying the house isn’t for sale, many people miss this.  agents hate Zillow

Zillow puts a value on a house called a Zestimate.  Zestimates ignore the 2 primary factors of value – location and condition.  Zestimates, in my experience, are often .

Zillow said it’s error rate nationally is 8% in June 2016.  That’s huge.  A $500,000 home can be $460,000 or $540,000.

So why do agents hate Zillow?  Because buyers and sellers believe whatever is on it no matter how inaccurate.  You can really be hurt because of this.

Zillow has a lot of good information but their Zestimates and market guidance can be highly inaccurate.  The best information on a home’s status is still your local MLS website.

Want to talk more about this?  Call, text or email me.

 

Posted by & filed under Bergen County LIfe.

medical center medical center

Bergen County is the most populous county in New Jersey with an estimated population of 938,506 according to Wikipedia.  It’s also fairly large with 246,671 acres. With nearly 1 million residents and big size, it certainly makes sense that Bergen County has  7 major medical centers.

If you were to drive from one extreme end to the other in Bergen County, it would take you about 40 minutes.  6 major medical centers assures every Bergen County resident that they are no more than a 20 minutes away from medical help and often much less.

All of these hospital centers are highly rated, most are associated with major New York City teaching hospitals and several are themselves teaching hospitals for new physicians.  If you are wondering how health care is in Bergen County, rest assured that world class health care is no more than a 20 minute drive away, so you can take care of your health by assisting here and taking supplements as kratom capsules.

medical center medical center

These are our 6 major medical centers and a 7th in North Bergen, Hackensack University Medical Center Palisades.  I’m including this 7th medical center because it’s on the border of Bergen County and services the Bergen County towns along the Hudson River and adjoining areas.  So while Bergen County does have 6 major medical centers there is also this 7th that services us as well.

 

Bergen Regional Medical Center

230 E Ridgewood Ave, Paramus, NJ 07652

201-967-4000

 

Englewood Hospital and Medical Center

350 Engle St, Englewood, NJ 07631

201-894-3000

 

Hackensack University Medical Center

30 Prospect Ave, Hackensack, NJ 07601

551-996-2000

 

Hackensack University Medical Center Palisades

7600 River Road

North Bergen, NJ 07047

201-854-5000

 

Hackensack University Medical Center at Pascack Valley

250 Old Hook Road, Westwood, NJ 07676

201-383-1035

 

Holy Name Medical Center

718 Teaneck Rd, Teaneck, NJ 07666

201-833-3000

 

The Valley Hospital

223 N Van Dien Ave, Ridgewood, NJ 07450

201-447-8000

 

Bergen County has a 911 system which connects you in an emergency to the help you need.  So if you have an emergency, just dial 911 on your phone and you’ll be connected to the help you need.

As Bergen County’s population has grown, so have our medical centers.  We are proud of the outstanding health care centers we have here and I have no doubt that you’ll find the health care you need here.

 

Posted by & filed under Homeowner Tips.

oil heatDo you own a home or are you buying a home in Bergen County?  Is it one of those gracious colonials you find in towns like Tenafly, Ridgewood or Englewood?  Or perhaps it’s a charming cape cod in Dumont or New Milford?  Or a split level in Oradell or Paramus?  No matter what style you live in now or are thinking of buying, if it’s more than 25 years old chances are it had oil heat, but now that we´ve changed and ther´s more technology, most of the houses have  Air Source Heat Pumps.oil heat

It’s not always easy or possible to find out if it had oil heat in the past.  However, if you do know that the house had oil before and is heated by gas today, the chimney should be a concern; if you’re buying a home or own one and don’t know whether the chimney has been relined properly, this is also a concern for you.

Years ago when people converted from oil to gas heat they didn’t worry about the chimney.  They just changed their heating system and left it at that. This is the problem.

Oil heat produces sulfur deposits inside the chimney while gas heat produces water vapor.  Remember high school chemistry?  When you mix water with sulfur you create acid and that acid is very caustic.  It’s corrosive action over the years can severely damage a chimney and this can become a very unsafe condition.  oil heat

Today regulations are in place that require a conversion from oil to gas to include relining the chimney; a while ago no such regulations existed.  As a result, a large number of oil to gas heat conversions never included chimney relining.  Correcting this damage can be more than a little expensive.

Here’s what to do –

Have an excellent chimney contractor do a thorough inspection as a follow up to your home inspection when buying a house and if you own a home and haven’t done this, do it now (unless, of course, the chimney has been properly relined already).  You might be shocked by what you discover.oil heat

Craig Sharf of HomeTeam Inspections (201-297-4460) advised a buyer of mine to do a follow up chimney inspection on a colonial in River Edge.  While Craig found the exterior to be in great shape his visual inspection of the inside concerned him.  He advised us to call in Advanced Chimney Their inspection showed that the entire interior needed to be rebuilt; together with a new liner; the cost exceeded $7,000. Relining the chimney was only $1,700.

So be pro active – discuss getting a follow up chimney inspection with your home inspector when buying a home and if you own a home and don’t know for sure that your chimney has been properly relined and maintained, have a good contractor inspect it.

 

Posted by & filed under Buying, Selling.

Now that we’re through May, it’s time to see how Bergen County home sales scored.  We’ll look at Bergen County homes in total and then go on to some individual towns.  All data is directly from the New Jersey MLS.

Through May I can report the following comparing this year to 2015:

Sales increased tremendously.  Up 24% from 3,211 to 3,970 – that’s 759 more homes sold in 2016 through May.  Both the average sales price and median sales price were down by 2%.  The average sales price is $475,455 and the median price is $386,600.

Despite dire predictions that the October 3rd change in mortgage regulations would create months of delays, homes are selling faster.

This is a confusing picture. Low inventory, soaring demand and 2% lower prices?  What happened to the law of supply and demand?  2016 Bergen County homes sales data doesn’t make sense.  Let’s dig deeper.

Looking at the high end at $2 million + shows an increase of 6 to 34 sales with average sales prices up by 9% and median by 6% in 4.5 less days.  The average sales price is $2.776,471 and median is $2,520,000.

Look at the lower end, under $400,000, there were 27% more sales with an average sales price 2% higher and median prices up by 3%.  Homes here too sold 5 days quicker.  So where is the trouble?

The trouble with the market is in the middle.  At $500,000 to $1 million both average sales and median prices are down 3%.  There are 21% more closings with 6 less days on the market.  So it’s the middle of the market where we are losing ground with pricing.

There’s no way to precisely determine why but clearly Bergen County home sales are not doing as well here.  My observations being in the market every day are that many of these homes need to be redone.  Most of the homes that I see in this price range need updating and very often new kitchens and baths.  Homes that need work take a beating in this market.  With such a large group it pulls down the overall figures.

As always condition is important along with location.  Bergen County home sales so far this year reflect the fact that many mid range homes need work.

 

 

Posted by & filed under Bergen County LIfe.

Farmer's Market

Farmer’s Markets are opening this month throughout Bergen County.  From early June through late October these fresh produce markets come to many towns in Bergen County.  They bring delicious farm fresh produce, cheese, and baked goods.  Home made pies, fresh baked hearty breads, canned vegetables, bottled honey and, of course, all sorts of fresh vegetables and fruits come streaming in to Bergen County every week direct from the farm.   Farmer's Market

In fact, they’re so popular that some local fresh food stores find themselves there too.  For example at the Teaneck market you’ll find The Mortgage Apple Cake lady.

Demand is up sharply for these seasonal markets,.  As a result, opportunities to find them have increased.  Many towns find ways to extend their season because of increased demand.

River Vale solves their demand issues with indoor facilities for the colder months.  Because organic food is so important, people go to farmer’s market for this.  They offer a good number of organic produce and products from what I’ve seen.  If you’ve only been to commercial markets you really owe it to yourself to stop by and buy yourself from really fresh food.

Here’s where you can find them in Bergen County –

Allendale from June 4th to Oct 29th  Saturdays 9:30-2:30  500 W Crescent St  allendalefarmersmarket@gmail.com

Englewood from June 3rd to October 28th  Fridays 11-6  Corner of  N Van Brunt & Depot Square  tevans@cityofenglewood.org

Fort Lee from June 26th to November 20th  Sundays 8-2  Ft Lee Community Center 1355 Inwood Ter.  ftleefilm@gmail.com

Hasbrouck Heights from June 4th to Mid October  Tuesdays 12-6  Central Ave & The Boulevard  heightsflowershoppe@verizon.net

Paramus from June 15th to Oct 12th  Wednesdays 2-6:30  N Parking Lot of Petruska Park at 475 Farview Ave grm4161@aol.com

Ramsey from June through November on Sundays 9-2  Ramsey Main Street Train Station at W Main St & Erie Plaza  amorfeti@aol.com

Ridgewood from June 22nd to November 2nd  Sundays 9-3  At the West Side of the NJ Transit Train Station  info@ridgewoodchamber.com

River Vale from June 2nd through October 27th  Thursdays 12-6  406 Rivervale Rd across from the tennis courts wellness@rivervalenj.org  Call for colder months

Rutherford from June 15th to October 29th  Wednesdays 11-6  Park Ave at the Williams Center Plaza    office@downtownrutherfordnj.com 

Teaneck from June 2nd to October 27th  Thursdays 12-5  Beverly Road & Garrison Avenue   staff@cedarlane.net  home made pies

We had fresh food stands all over Bergen County years ago  because we had many small farms.  It wasn’t all that long ago.  Because land values are so high and profit margins so low, local farms have pretty much disappeared.  As a result, the only place to get fresh produce is at a farmer’s market.  You support small family farms by shopping at these markets.  It’s fun and you get to enjoy what you find there!

Posted by & filed under Selling.

Lockboxes.  Homeowners hate them.  Real estate agents love them.  If you are selling your home they’re very important; use a lockbox to get more showings.

lockbox20 years or so ago I never used a lockbox.  Back then there was no accountability.  A round shaped key opened up the front lid and inside was a key to the house.  It was impossible to know for certain who went into the house and when.

With no accountability came horrible behavior.  Doors were left unlocked, lights were left on, etc.  There was no way I’d put one of those lockboxes on my listings.  What I did do was to get a cell phone.

Back then cell phones were a trip.  Expensive, big and heavy (they had to be drilled into your car or you carried them around in a small suitcase) and with poor reception they still solved the problem.  Agents could call me and I’d meet them at the house.  lockbox

Sometimes I’d feel like a ping pong ball going back and forth but I got my listings sold faster and for higher prices.  Why?  Because using that cell phone allowed me to not miss showings.

Today lockboxes are digital using Bluetooth technology.  The NJMLS uses GE Supra lockboxes and they’re great.   lockbox

They record who enters, from what office, at what hour and minute and can be programmed so that no one can get in when the seller doesn’t want them. This is full accountability and agent behavior has significantly improved.

Even when a seller wants me to accompany all showings I still use a lockbox with their permission.  It’s not in the listing but when I can’t be 2 places at once, if it’s an agent I know then I’ll tell them it’s there.

When you’re selling your home you want showings.  If buyers can’t see your house, you can’t sell it.  Electronic lockboxes make your home accessible and attractive to agents.  It’s a win – you get more showings which enhances your opportunities in the market.

So use a lockbox to get more showings.

Posted by & filed under Buying.

2 family home

thinking of real estate

Ever thought about investing in real estate but didn’t know where to start?  Thinking about buying a home but not sure you want to tie up everything in 1 house?  Need a place to live but not sure what to buy?  Maybe you should start by investing and buy a 2 family home.

A 2 family home is a great long term investment (emphasis on long term).  Over the course of many years you’ll find that it is a fabulous addition to your investment portfolio.  I believe people get hurt because they don’t commit to what works best – long term investing within budget.

Real estate is cyclical – it goes up, it goes down.  However, held over the long term it works and does better as an investment than everything else for the average person.

A 2 family home purchase gives you several advantages:

  1.  Greater leverage because you can afford a2 family home more valuable property.
  2. Better equity growth while you use a tenant’s rent to pay off your loan.
  3. You get strong tax benefits which your accountant will explain.
  4. Best of all you get tax free income by refinancing in the future.

There are also disadvantages:

  1. You lose some privacy.
  2. You don’t get as much living space for yourself as with a single family purchase.
  3. Tenants can be a problem.
  4. There will be vacancy periods and maintenance issues that come up.
  5. This is essentially your own business so there’s the work of running a business.

To do it right, talk to a real estate attorney and accountant first.  The advice and counsel you will get from both is invaluable and if you need a financial loan click here to get help.  You’ll also need the help of contractors and a handyman for small jobs.  2 family home

Clients of mine who did it right were able to retire earlier, had well over $1 million in property value and rental income for a great retirement lifestyle.  So start by investing and buy a 2 family home.

For advice or questions, contact me when convenient.

Posted by & filed under Selling.

windows

It’s spring and you want to sell your home.  You get rid of clutter, paint some rooms and add color to the yard with flowering plants.  You might even go further and stage the house.  Now you’re ready, right?  Not yet. You need to clean your windows.

The impact a house has when a buyer drives up to the curb is extremely important.  Equally important is how the house feels when a buyer steps inside. This is often where the sale is made.  windows

Of course when you stage a home, de-clutter etc. it’s a big help but if the house is not bright inside, everything is defeated.  Brightening a home is more than turning on lights and opening the blinds.  If you are selling your home, get your windows professionally cleaned.

During the fall and winter, windows develop a film of grime that blocks out sunlight.  Rain, snow, wind storms etc. coat your windows with dirt.  It happens so gradually that you never notice it.  But it does happen and you lose some sunlight.

When you put your home on the market for sale you can’t afford to make any mistakes.  Having windows professionally cleaned makes them sparkle when a home buyer drives up and shine with light that flows inside when that buyer walks in the door. You should always get your doors in proper condition when selling your home and to maintain it, you need a good locksmith in brooklyn to help you.

This is a very cost effective tool for every homeowner. It makes a big impact and usually costs a few hundred dollars at most.

There’s an added plus too – professionals use solvents that last through several rain storms.  This keeps your windows sparkling much longer than if you used regular glass cleaner and paper towells.

If you need the name of a good local window cleaner, let me know.  You can call or text me at 201-741-8490 or email me through my website.

So if you’re selling your home call in a professional because you need to clean your windows!

 

Posted by & filed under Homeowner Tips.

spring stormsSpring storms, wind and falling trees come to Bergen County every year once we get into late March and April.  Most of the time windy conditions are moderate.  The are normally more of a nuisance than a problem but once in a while wind speeds reach high levels.  If you own a home in towns like Englewood, Leonia, Ridgewood, Teaneck or Tenafly spring storms with high winds can create trouble.

These towns are renown for their beautiful ambiance.  Their streets are lined with  magnificent towering mature trees and beautiful shrubs.  When wind gusts of 40-50 mph come during a spring storm, branches can go flying.  Entire trees crash down sometimes during severe storms too.

If you don’t take care of your trees properly, they become diseased and weak.  Falling trees don’t happen because of spring storms – they happen due to a lack of care.

Landscaping to most people means cutting and fertilizing the lawn with some trimming of your buses thrown in every once in a while.  Few of us think that trees need help too.  This is how you can get into trouble.

Here’s a picture of spring stormsa tree that fell down in Englewood on the border of Tenafly.  That’s not chopped wood you’re looking at – that’s the inside of the tree.  This poor tree was badly diseased and rotting away inside; when it fell it literally disintegrated.

To give you a better idea of what I’m talking about, take a look at this picture.  This was a very tall tree and you can see that its base actually split in half.  spring storms

 

The fact that this tree landed on the neighbor’s property does not mean that the neighbor’s insurance has to handle it.  If a tree falls on your property, you’re responsible for cleaning it up and whatever happens UNLESS you can prove that the tree fell because of neglect.  Clearly this tree was not well cared for because it was badly diseased.

All of this happened including damage to a car because no one took care of 1 tree.  HouseLogic.com has a great aricle about tree care to help you get started.

spring stormsspring storms

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Posted by & filed under Buying, Selling.

1st quarter sales1st quarter sales are up compared to 2015 and by quite a good margin.  According to the New Jersey MLS data, 2016 sales are up an average of 21% over the number of sales we had last year.  In plain numbers we went from 1,740 in 2015 to 2,109 this year.  What’s even more impressive is that this increase was pretty even in all 3 months of the 1st quarter sales.

Typically January isn’t a great closing month but this year is different.  All 3 months of the 1st quarter had similar numbers.  January was up 116 sales, February 118 and March 135.

Looking at pricing, both average sales and median prices were flat.  Average was -1% and median -0%  Hmmm….Can anyone explain what -0% means?  Seriously, the market held the gains made last year during the 1st quarter sales.

What about the future?  For that we need to compare Under Contract units and taking a look at those figures shows us that the gains we’ve had so far this year will continue.

Under Contract figures are higher by 19% this year.  The pattern for Under Contract follows the traditional pattern of a weak January with stronger figures for the following 2 months.  Increases this year, however, were very aggressive in both  February (29%) and March (20%) over what we had last year.  This strong performance means that 2016 is developing into a very strong year for residential sales.  1st quarter sales

Now let’s check out a few towns (using UC for Under Contract) –

 

Bergenfield – Sales up 22% and UC up 50%

Cresskill – Sales are even and UC up 50%

Dumont – Sales up 20% and UC up 13%

Englewood – Sales up 74% and UC up 25%

Leonia – Sales up 50% and UC up 60%

New MIlford – Sales up 15% and UC up 21%

Paramus – Sales up 10% and UC down 5%

Ridgewood – Sales are even and UC up 28%

River Vale – Sales up 33% and UC up 33%

Teaneck – Sales are even and UC down 5%

Tenafly – Sales up 19% and UC down 17%

 

If there’s a town you’d like me to analyze for you, just get in touch.  You can see that the trend is decidedly positive for 2016 when you factor into the negative UC figures that this represents a severe lack of inventory rather than a lack of demand.