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

how much can you negotiate on a houseHow much can you can negotiate on a house depends on the market as well as the house.  I can tell you this though – it’s not as much as you think.  It’s easy to find endless articles on the web telling you what to do.  While those so called experts are advising you, they have no knowledge of your market or the type of home you’re considering.

Because real estate values are extremely local, general advice is quite limited.  Whoever writes the article you’re reading doesn’t know your market and it’s housing styles.

Historical and Recent Averages

Let’s go to the New Jersey MLS for our data.  Because most sales involve 2 different brokers, I’m using this as our example.

The NJMLS tells us that from 2000 through 2019, homes sold at 96.3% of the asking price.  Days on the market are 74.  When I began in real estate, I was always taught that the historical average for Bergen County was within 5%s of asking.

2016 is the peak of this cycle from what I can tell.  The average for 2016-2019 is 97% of the asking price. The days on the market figure is shorter at 63.  Looking at 2018-2019, our most recent period, we find that it’s 97.1% of asking and 59 days on the market.  This is for Bergen County overall in the NJMLS.

Low Ball Offers Don’t Work

If you read any article on the web that tells you to start at 10% or more under the asking price, don’t.  Based on the above, it’s obvious why this won’t work.  NJMLS figures are the truth. They tell you what actually happened.

For a $500,000 house, 97% is $485,000.  Put yourself in the homeowner’s shoes.  How would you feel if someone sent in a $450,000 offer?  You wouldn’t be thrilled.  Let’s add in the fact that this is a seller’s market since there are more buyers than homes.  You wouldn’t be thrilled, you’d be angry.  “Why waste my time on a ridiculous offer?” is what would be going through your mind.

Imagine you’re the seller again.  Your agent tells you an offer is arriving.  You are excited and can’t wait to see it.  Then in comes 450 on a 500 house……..  Do you think the seller will want to work with that buyer?

Imagine you’re the buyer.  You have sent in your 450 offer expecting to hear a reply.  The reply you get is either no reply (“We’ll negotiate when you’re ready to send in a decent offer.”) or maybe the reply will be 448 or 449.  Can you imagine how you would feel?  Not happy I’d bet.  Frustrated and upset is what I would bet on.

Low ball offers don’t pull sellers down; they make sellers less agreeable.  Bottom line – you don’t get the house you want or you end up paying more for it.

How Much Can You Negotiate On A House

How much can you negotiate on a house depends on your specific market.  By the time you find a house you want, you should know what to expect.  Your agent should have taught you both market dynamics and housing values.

The key to all of this is indeed information.  How much you can negotiate on a house is only answered by knowledge.  Do the best you can but don’t expect magic.  This goes for sellers too.

Asking too high a price is a huge mistake.  You will start that series of price reductions which under sells your home.  Even in a seller’s market starting too high gives all advantage to the buyer.

Why?  Because you miss the market.  The buyer who would have paid you more can’t come because you’re over his price range.  By the time you reduce to the market, your home is old news and is passed by.  Now you only attract bargain hunters.  Ouch!

Do Your Homework

Do your homework.  Learn the values so you can tell if a house makes sense or not.  Then be prepared to pay a fair price.  Sellers please market your home at a price that attracts your buyers.  You’ll get your home sold for what it’s worth in a reasonable amount of time.

If you need advice on the market, negotiating or anything else, just text or call me at 201-741-8490.


Posted by & filed under Bergen County LIfe.

maple sugaringIt’s midweek.  You’re thinking of things to do this weekend in Bergen County as a result.  Let me help you with a few suggestions.  While I realize it’s February, the weather this weekend promises to be spectacular.  So let’s mix outdoor and indoor options.

Maple Sugaring

It’s that time of year again for maple sugaring at the Tenafly Nature Center.  Sessions are held every Sunday in February and March most often at 12:30, 2 and 3:30 pm.  Learn all about how maple trees are tapped to gather their sap.  Warm clothes are a must because part of the time you’ll be outside.  Going to see an actual maple tree tap is part of the program.  So is watching how the sap is boiled down to delicious maple syrup.

This is fun for adults and children alike but space is limited so make your reservations ASAP.  Maple sugaring is a very popular program.a lion in winter

The Lion in Winter

The Bergen County Players production of the Lion in Winter is still on this weekend.  This is an award winning play that ran on Broadway for a very long time.  You won’t want to miss it.

I love this theater group.  They put on terrific productions.  Parking is free (on the street) and you can’t beat the ticket prices.  It’s $22 on Friday and Saturday and $18 on Sunday.

Performances are held at 8 pm on Friday and Saturday while it’s 2 pm on Sunday.  Additionally BCP reserves seats for people with disabilities too.  Therefore call them in advance if you need this help.  The Bergen County Players is located in the old firehouse (just refurbished) at 298 Kinderkamack Road in Oradell NJ  You can call them at 201-261-4200

new bridge landingHistoric New Bridge Landing

Celebrate George Washington’s Birthday this Sunday at historic New Bridge Landing in River Edge NJ from 1-5 pm.  What a spectacular event this is!  Plan to stay a few hours because there is so much going on.

A special musical and dance program at the Steuben House is held at 1:30 and 3:30  Children are taught to make a tri-corner hat and have fun with a scavenger hunt.  Watch food being cooked just like Martha did for George.  Get to meet Revolutionary soldiers and say hello to General Washington and Martha.

Because this is so well done and very authentic, don’t miss it.  It’s only on this Sunday afternoon after all.  Bring yourself and your family to this very special event that takes you back to the Revolutionary era.  Tickets are $12 for adults and $7 for students.  Historic New Bridge Landing is located at 1201 Main St in River Edge NJ  Parking is free.

While I try to highlight events that are special, if you know of something I should add just text or call me at 201-741-8490.


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

how to handle an as is sale successfullyHow to handle an “as is” sale successfully isn’t hard or mysterious.  It’s strategic.  Because these situations can be managed fairly and openly, they’re a win for both sides.

What Is An “As Is” Sale?

Basically an “as is” sale is exactly that – the house is being sold as it is, take it or leave it.  The seller will do nothing so you buy the house in the condition it is. Period.

Homeowners want an “as is” sale.  Sales contracts include the words “as is” almost always.  While this is true, it almost always  is meaningless.  Because nearly all sales contracts have an inspection contingency, there is no “as is” sale in reality.  Also, unless a house is sold representing that a major system is broken (for example plumbing, no heat working etc), sales contracts also include that all major systems are working.

“As is” Is Often Meaningless

Buyers have a right to inspect a house because most contracts contain an inspection contingency.  Contingencies must be satisfied; if not, the contract is cancelled and the sale is dead.

If the inspection finds problems, buyers ask the seller to fix or give them a financial credit for those problems.  So this becomes another negotiation.  When buyers and sellers are reasonable (most of the time) this works out and the house is sold.  While “as is” may be in a sales contract, reality is different.

There are times, however, when a house is truly sold in “as is” condition.  There is no accommodation made whatsoever for any inspection or other issues.  Homes sold like this are usually foreclosures, short sales, or wrecks.

How To Handle An “as is” Sale Successfully

You are looking for a home to fix up.  You don’t want to pay a premium for a renovated or updated home.  As a result, you look for distressed properties or wrecks that have potential.  These are almost always “as is” sales.  The issue is how to handle an as is sale successfully so you don’t buy a mistake.

The answer is get the house inspected during Attorney Review.  (Go to my website where I explain the process and Attorney Review for you if you don’t remember.)  It’s easy to cancel during Attorney Review.

I urge my buyers to do this when it’s truly an “as is” sale.  Why?  To protect themselves.  Buyers ask me why they should inspect a house before they have a firm contract.  It costs money to inspect a house.  There is a risk to be sure.

You can lose the house during Attorney Review if a higher offer comes in.  The home inspection might show so many defects that you don’t proceed.  You’ve spent money on a house you won’t buy.  That’s the point however.  Sellers don’t lose a lot of time off the market too.

Get the home inspected during Attorney Review so you’re not stuck with a mistake in a true “as is” sale.  I think it’s worth spending $500-700 to avoid a calamity.  The decision is yours of course.  This is simply my best advice on how to handle an “as is” sale successfully.

Questions?  Need help with a home search?  Want information or advice? Call or text me at 201-741-8490


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

avoid mistakes when buying a homeAvoid mistakes when buying a home involves more than your home inspection report.  I just read an article that was a surprise to me from CNBC.  It spoke about regrets millennials have about their home purchase.  When I call my buyers months and years later, they almost always tell me how happy they are with the house.

I do have 1 exception which happened recently.  However that had to do with a relationship breakup.  Don’t buy a house thinking it will save your marriage.  It won’t.  Let’s look at the top reasons in the article from CNBC.

Closing Costs

If you bought a house from me, you know I made sure you knew about closing costs.  You were told to go over this carefully with the banker and your attorney.  You’ll also remember that I added in the cost of a home inspection, tank sweep and spoke about possible additional inspections your home inspector might suggest.  We also discussed the need for a survey, title insurance, homeowner insurance and perhaps a home warranty.  By the time we found a house, you had an excellent idea of what to expect.  closing costs

The CNBC article pointed out to me that a good number of millennial home buyers simply never got this information at all or completely.  Because closing costs come to thousands of dollars on top of the price of a home, make sure you get this information down to the penny.  Frankly if anyone you are dealing with isn’t doing this for you, fire them and get someone who has your interests at heart.

Ownership Costs

Can anyone explain to me why their so-called professionals in buying a home forget to tell you about what it costs to actually own a home?  This is SO frustrating to me.

utility costsDo your best to get an idea of utility costs.  Very unfortunately this has become more difficult due to privacy concerns.  Up until the very recent past I could get a budget plan for gas and electric and some notion of what water would run.  However, try your best to get an idea.  Heat, cooling and water are all things you need and they’re not free.

Also, how about being told to budget for lawn maintenance, snow removal, gutter cleaning?  Because this is important you should figure it too.  If I can get this from the current owner in occupied homes, that’s great.  Because everyone lives in a home differently, I caution my buyers accordingly.

For example, if the owner is 85 then the heat is really high so take that into consideration.  If the owner works in NYC and has a programmable thermostat, then heating bills will be higher if you work from home.  You really won’t know until you live there but there should be no major surprises.

The Home Itself

The article spoke about the house itself – it’s size and location – and why it’s important to see the house yourself.  While I love technology, anyone who buys a house strictly through the web is making a HUGE mistake.

No matter how good VR becomes, a house is a home.  It’s not now and never will be just a structure.  It’s a home, it’s your living environment.  It that wasn’t important, you wouldn’t worry about what color to paint a room, where to place that sofa etc.  Homes are emotional purchases.  It’s where you live your life.

Again, if you bought a home from me you will remember me pointing out that you can hear the street noise – is that ok? or telling you to come back at rush hour on Monday because everything is quiet on an open house Sunday afternoon.  You should drive around the neighborhood too because you don’t want to be surprised when they turn on the lights behind your house for that Little League evening baseball game.

Spend Time to be Prepared

In my initial conversation with my clients, I always ask them to spend a little extra time with me to get prepared.  If you go to the buyers section of my website you’ll see that it’s basically a mini course on how to do this right.  I want you to be fully prepared because that’s how you do the best for yourself.

It is very unfortunate that a large number of millennial buyers regret their home purchase.  All I can tell you is that my customers are happy with their homes.  The reason they are is simple – they agreed to spend a little extra time with me to get fully prepared.  You can avoid mistakes when buying a home.  If you want to know more or have any other questions, just text or call me at 201-741-8490.



Posted by & filed under Bergen County LIfe, Things To Do.

Ground Hog DayGroundhog Day is not a Bergen County event but I thought it would be fun to include it here because it’s this Sunday.  Groundhog Day is not only a US tradition; it’s celebrated in Canada too.  Both countries observe it on February 2nd.

This is really celebrated at many locations in both countries but ground zero is really the Borough of Punxsutawney in Pennsylvania.  Groundhog Day there has become a major national event swelling the town’s population from 6,000 to over 20,000 people.

So What Is Groundhog Day

Groundhog Day is all about predicting the weather.  Specifically it predicts when spring comes.  Now, think about the logic of this – a rodent’s behavior is going to tell us when spring begins.  Obviously this is a mythical event that’s become a lot of fun too.

IF the groundhog comes out of it’s burrow on February 2nd and it’s a clear day, the little rodent will see it’s shadow.  It will retreat to it’s den and we’ll have 6 more weeks of winter.  However, if the day is cloudy and overcast, then no shadow so spring will be early.  How accurate is this? Not even a little.  groundhog

Punxsutawney Phil

The powers that be in Punxsutawney PA have named their groundhog Punxsutawney Phil.  This ceremony has been going on since 1887 and Phil has always lived in a spot called Gobblers Knob.

There are 15 local volunteers who are the keepers of this legend known as the Inner Circle.  They are easy to spot because they all wear tuxedos and top hats.  Some are Phil’s handlers.

Every February 2nd at an appointed time they read a proclamation telling the world if Punxsutawney Phil has seen his shadow.  Phil is held up by his handler for all to see while this is going on.

Groundhog day is a fun and welcome diversion from the drabness of winter.  The Punxsutawney Groundhog Club even has their own website all about it. 





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

what negative inventory means for youLet’s see what negative inventory means for you in housing.  As a Realtor, this is something I track; it’s also something you need to understand.

What Is Negative Inventory

Negative inventory occurs when more homes leave than come on the market for sale.  The result is that you’re literally running out of homes for sale.

Let’s just take the previous 24 hours.  From Tuesday to Wednesday, here’s what we have for single family homes in the New Jersey MLS:

  • 168 new listings
  • 127 homes accepted offers
  •  63 homes went Under Contract

The math is obvious.  We had 22 more homes leaving than entering the market for sale.  It’s been like this for quite some time.  While 22 units doesn’t seem like much, the cumulative effect has been significant.

What Negative Inventory Means For You

For home buyers –

  • Not much to show you
  • It will take more time looking
  • You’ll often be in a multiple bid situation when you find a house
  • You might have to make several offers before you get a home

For homeowners –

  • Plenty of buyers
  • Often multiple offers
  • Leverage in negotiating terms
  • Less time on the market to get your home sold

I forecast a negative inventory market years ago.  It’s here to stay for quite a while too.  How did this happen?

The Boomer Effect

  • Baby Boomers may be aging, but they are aging in place more than any generation before them.
  • A great number are physically active, have a paid off mortgage and are still working
  • It often costs more to rent a 2 bedroom apartment than to own their home
  • Emotionally they don’t want to leave friends and family
  • Most, in my experience, leave when the stairs or taxes are too much.

Low Mortgage Rates

If you have good credentials, 30 year mortgages have been at 3.5% for months.  This week it dropped to 3.375%  That’s $442 per month; at 4% it’s 477 so let’s go to the middle at $460 for $100,000 in mortgage dollars.

The NJMLS has the average 2 bedroom rental at $2,143.  Let’s make that $2,000.  Now divide that by $460 for $435,000 in mortgage dollars.  With a 10% down payment and the ability to spend $1,500 more monthly (taxes, insurance, maintenance)  you can buy a home for $485,000.

Low rates have buyers jumping off the fence, out of their rentals and into home ownership because it makes sense.

 The Risk for Buyers & Sellers

  • Accepted offers fall apart because buyers get caught up in a bidding war only to regret it
  • Sellers can be too demanding – buyers answer back with unreasonable inspection issues
  • Rushing, poorly prepared buyers are not properly educated on costs
  • Sellers knowing the inventory is low, over price their homes

The Good News

  • The market is fundamentally solid; it will remain solid for years
  • Buyers are not over-paying making appreciation reasonable
  • Rates are low and will be so for the foreseeable future
  • The cost of owning a home is less than it was 3 years ago
  • Our negative inventory is challenging and not a crisis.

What negative inventory means for you depends on who you are.  It’s different for buyers and sellers but there is a message here:  Don’t over play your hand (sellers) and be completely educated and prepared (buyers).

Text or call me if you need a great agent at 201-741-8490  If you’re out of the Bergen County area, I know top agents across the country too.














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

How is real estate in Bergen County is a question I’m asked more often than I can count.  Everyone, it seems, wants to know how the market is doing.  This is especially true at the start of a new year.

Let’s use the best data source, the New Jersey MLS, and the most popular residential purchase, the single family home.

Bergen County Overall

  • 3% More Sales
  • 1% Appreciation
  • Marketing Time is Flat
  • Lower rates brought out buyers

One word explains 2019 – stable.  Bergen County overall had 3% more sales (6,921 to 7,121 or +200) with 7/10 of 1%  appreciation.  The average sales price went up by $4,264 from $600,349 to $604,613.  The median sales price was stable too; it rose from $495,000 to $497,000.

While we sold more homes with low inventory, buyers were not over paying.  The message is clear:  There has to be value for a buyer to act.  As a result, the law of supply and demand is limited.  Just because there aren’t enough homes does not mean prices will skyrocket.

The time it took to market a home was pretty flat too at 61 to 59.7 days.  It’s been running at 2 months for the past few years.

What did change in 2019 is mortgage rates.  They lowered as you moved further into the year.  As a result, many buyers jumped off the fence and into home ownership.  Thus 3% more sales in 2019.

The bottom line is a stable and solid real estate market.  This is positive for everyone.

Real Estate Market Segments

Let’s break things down to different parts of the market so you can see how your market did.  Homes up through $250,000 were eliminated because almost every one was either a foreclosure, short sale or in need of major renovation.  Most were purchased by investors.  These houses are rarely purchased by non-investors because they need major renovations.

  • $250-500,000
  • $500-$1 million
  • $1-1.5 million
  • 1.5-2 million
  • 2-3 million
  • $3 million+

Most of the market is at $250,000 – $1 million or 88% of all sales.  $250-500,000 has most of the 1st time buyers.  These 3,442 sales represent 48% of the market. Not far behind is $500,000 – $1 million with 2,858 sales for 40% of the market.  Both groups have 4% more sales and virtually no change elsewhere..

Once you cross the $1 million mark, things drop off dramatically.

  • $1-1.5 million = 429 sales or 6%
  • $1.5 – 2 million = 109 sales or 1.5%
  • $2-3 million = 53 or 1% (rounded off)
  • $3 million+ = 24 or .5% (rounded off)

For this upper tier group, things were flat until you reach $3 million and up.  Then we see major positive changes.

The high end luxury home made a major come back in 2019.  Homeowners adjusted to the market and houses sold.  For years this market has languished due to, in my humble view, ridiculous asking prices and poor marketing.  While luxury sellers can wait out a market, the same is true for their buyers.  And they do wait.  Only when a luxury buyer sees value will a home be sold.  Rampant over pricing especially when you get to $2 million and up created a terrible stall in the market.  2019 changed that.

$3 million+ sold 44% quicker (226.3 to 127 days) with a 20% rise in the average sales price ($3,722,000 to $4,516,712).  Impressive is an understatement.

How Is Real Estate in Bergen County

So how is real estate in Bergen County going to do this year?

Most home buyers will continue to have a tough time in 2019 because of very low inventory.  First time buyers in the $250-500,000 price range will almost always have to deal with multiple bid situations.  The $500,000 – $1 million group will see this often.  In spite of low inventory, if a home is poorly marketed it will not do well.  Over pricing is the most critical mistake a seller can make always and in this market, extremely so.  Buyers facing a tough market should get their ducks in order so they present themselves in the strongest possible way to a seller.

2020 will be another great year for residential sales.  Nothing dramatic expected; 2020 should be a repeat of 2019.  Mortgage rates should stay pretty much the same with maybe a half point up tick by year’s end but that’s still awfully low.  This is all stable and stability is very very good.

I have comprehensive information for home buyers and home owners on my website.  You can call or text me at 201-741-8490 (or if you prefer).  Let me know your thoughts – I’d appreciate it.








Posted by & filed under Bergen County LIfe, Things To Do.

Things to do this weekend in Bergen County are many and varied.  While the December holidays are nearly upon us, there’s more to do than just shopping.  Take a look and enjoy yourself!

  • bergen county winter wonderlandBergen County’s Winter Wonderland

This is the 4th year in a row that Bergen County has it’s wildly popular Winter Wonderland at Van Saun Park in Paramus.  This has become a major event here and opened last weekend.  There is a beginner and regular outdoor ice skating rink (you can rent skates for $10), unlimited carousel and train rides, Santa’s Dome where you meet Santa and Mrs Claus, unlimited access to the zoon and all sorts of other activities for children plus a heated area too.  Food trucks will be there and there’s a beer garden.  This Saturday is the tree lighting at 6:30 pm.  Disability Day is Dec 12th, Menorah lighting is Dec 22nd and Kwanza is celebrated Dec 23rd.  There is a schedule of times and dates.  Tickets from age 4 to 65 are $15 each.

Shirah Winter Concert in Tenafly JCC on the Palisades

.  The Shirah Winter Concert celebrating Chanukah happens this Sunday at the Kaplen JCC on the Palisades.  From 3 through 4:30 you will hear beautiful music in Hebrew and English celebrating the Festival of Lights.  Open to the public, it’s $16 for members and $20 for non members.  A reception follows too.

This concert is by the Thurnauer School of Music at the JCC.  It has become one of the premier music schools in the NYC area.  They put on 120 concerts annually.  Check out their Facebook page.

SantaSanta Saturday in Fort Lee

Come to Fort Lee this Saturday from 1-3 pm to meet Santa and enjoy Christmas fun.  The Business District Alliance of Fort Lee is hosting this annual treat at the Richard & Catherine Nest Adult Activity Center located on 319 Main Street.  Get your picture taken with Santa, listen to carolers and enjoy hot cocoa plus cookies and candy canes.  Bring your entire family so you can take a group photo with Santa!

Bergen County Players in Oradell  bergen county players

The Bergen County Players has a new musical play opening this weekend.  Beat Bugs: A Musical Adventure opens Friday and runs through Dec 22nd on weekends.  This features music by the Beatles and works for both children and adults.  Get your tickets before they’re sold out!

I’ve written before about this terrific live theater group along with others.  We are so lucky to have so many excellent live theater options in Bergen County.

Model Train Shows

Don’t forget about model trains.  Every Christmas season model train clubs open their doors to the public.  While it’s a great fund raising event for the clubs, it’s also so much fun for everyone.

There’s also the Bronx Botanical Garden.  While in New York City, it’s actually a short drive from Bergen County.  Every year they put on a fantastic model train display that’s become an annual tradition for many folks.  Go to my article on local model train shows that I just published.  I have a list of local shows and links to the BBG’s from now through December.  These holiday model train shows are held on weekends.  This was an annual ritual for me when my son was a little boy.

nutcracker balletNew Jersey Ballet’s Nutcracker

What could be more traditional than the Nutcracker ballet?  Go this weekend to the Bergen County Performing Arts Center for a real holiday treat.  The New Jersey Ballet is an outstanding ballet company that has been recognized for it’s excellence many times over it’s long history.  This world class company is notable for the fact that they leave their home and bring the beauty of ballet dance all over NJ.  The nutcracker is a must and Bergen Pac is doing something very special on Sunday.

From 12 noon to 1 pm there will be an instrument petting zoo.  This is an opportunity to touch, see and experience a variety of musical instruments.  What could be cooler than that?  Then you take your seat and see the Nutcracker Ballet.  Tickets are still available for this weekend but they’re going fast. 

Holiday Parades

Here’s something for you to check out by going to your own town’s website.  This weekend many towns are having a holiday parade to boost their local business districts.  These are always fun experiences for children and adults alike.  Often this is accompanied at night by a Christmas tree lighting and later on you’ll find Menorah lightings as well.

Meet Me in St Louis

Because it’s the 75th anniversary of this classic and much beloved film, there are special screenings for the public on only 2 days.  You can go to a movie theater to see this wonderful movie with Judy Garland on Sunday the 8th at 1pm or 4pm at the AMC Garden State 16 movie theater at Westfield’s Garden State Plaza.

This is the film where Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas was introduced.  Most of us will also remember Clang Clang Went the Trolley.  So take your family to see one of Hollywood’s best just the way your grandparents saw it in 1944.  If you can’t make it on Sunday, the other date is Wednesday the 11th.  Meet Me in St Louis probably will never have a screening like this again for at least another 25 years so don’t miss it.

Go out and have fun this weekend!  There’s plenty of options as you can see.  Need more information?  Text or call me at 201-741-8490




Posted by & filed under Bergen County LIfe.

holiday train showsHoliday model train shows begin this weekend.  I took my son to all the shows when he was a little boy.  We went all over New Jersey and had a lot of fun.  Children especially get a kick out of seeing these shows and adults have fun too.  Here are some for you beginning this weekend.

North Haledon

Let’s begin just outside of Bergen County in North Haledon NJ.  This is where you’ll find the Garden State Model Railway Club open house.  This club began in 1953 and this is their 62nd open house.  It runs Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 1 to 5.  They are located at 572 Mountain Road in North Haledon, NJ.  They also have open houses the next 2 weekends in December on Saturdays and Sundays.  It’s $6 for adults and kids 12 and under are free (when accompanied by an adult).


Because it’s name is the New York Society of Model Engineers you wouldn’t expect it in New Jersey.  Believe it or not, it’s located at 341 Hoboken Road in Carlstadt NJ.  This is another great model train club.  They have their exhibitions open to the public on Saturdays and Sundays from 1 to 6 beginning this weekend.  They continue every weekend through December.  Adults pay $4, children from 5-11 with 4 and under free.  To learn more about this club, go to the New York Society of Model Engineers website.


Beginning this Friday night from 6-8 pm and every Friday through December 20th, you can see the Donald Cooper Model Railroad in action. Weekends on Saturday and Sunday it’s open from 1-4 pm.  Located in the Mahwah museum, it’s free for children and museum members.  Other adults pay $5 each.  There’s a special guest coming December 20th from -7:30 pm.  Santa Claus is making an appearance then!  The museum is located at 201 Franklin Turnpike in Mahwah.

Bronx Botanical Garden

While it’s not in New Jersey, The Bronx is not all that far away either.  Time it right and you’re there 20 minutes past the George Washington Bridge.  Their Holiday Train Show has been a New York holiday tradition for decades.  This is a professionally designed model train show that highlights iconic New York City places.  Because it’s so popular with adults as well as children, they have evenings just for adults.  Bar Car Nights are a beautiful and unique way to spend a holiday evening.  This show is on now through January 26th weekdays and weekends.

Model train shows are part of the holiday season.  New Jersey club shows are more geared to families and less expensive than what you’ll find in the Bronx.  If you’d like to know about other holiday model train shows further out in New Jersey, text or call me at 201-741-8490.

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

The Right AttorneyThe right attorney is the attorney who is best for you.  You think an attorney is lousy because it’s simply not the right match for you and your needs.  There are, of course, lousy attorneys.  Just like lousy real estate agents, lousy painters, lousy teachers etc etc etc.  When you are buying a home or selling a home, choosing the wrong attorney can be catastrophic.  Let me explain why.  I’ll start with how you find one.

Why You Find Lousy Attorneys

Begin with trust.  Who do you trust to give you an attorney recommendation?

Some folks don’t trust their agent.  Be honest.  You know who you are.  I have a question for you:  Why are you working with anyone you don’t trust?  It doesn’t matter if it’s a Realtor or a doctor.  Why would you do that?  Find another agent.

You trust your family.  Uncle Joe is an attorney – he’ll do it for free.  Dad has a friend who’ll do it cheap because you’re his son or daughter.  This is so often a mistake.  Why?  Because Uncle Joe or Dad’s friend doesn’t do residential real estate.  It’s like asking a neurosurgeon to operate on a shattered leg.  They’re both surgeons but in totally different fields.

You trust your friends.  They bought a house recently so you ask them who they used.  They give you their attorney’s name and number.  You pick up the phone, dial the number and hire that attorney.  Because you didn’t check thoroughly, you find out later that it’s a bad match.

Shopping Online Surfing The Web

We shop for everything online.  It’s fun, efficient and allows us to do things in the middle of the night.  As a result, shopping for an attorney online makes sense.

You do a Google search, you check out Yelp, Martindale etc.  I have news for you; this does not work.  You can never verify the truthfulness of people who post reviews.  Gushing reviews might be from friends or relatives.  Bad reviews can come from people who no one can satisfy.

Right now I have a simple condo apartment sale. It should have closed 2 weeks ago.  My buyer is anxious to close as is the seller for valid reasons.  December is my buyer’s busiest month.  The seller is carrying the expense of a vacant condo.

The problem is the seller’s attorney.  He is a bankruptcy attorney who litigates in court.  It makes no sense at all to hire a bankruptcy attorney for a condo sale.  Why would anyone pick a bankruptcy attorney to sell a condo?  Because he’s a friend doing a favor.  Oh did I forget to tell you that this guy has a high rating on the web for real estate transactions?

The Right AttorneyNew York is not New Jersey

While Bergen County is next to New York City, it does not mean we are the same place.  New York and New Jersey are 2 separate States with 2 different sets of laws and regulations.  Residential real estate is practiced very differently in each State.  Since we are next to each other, some attorneys are licensed in both.  This does not mean that they know what they’re doing in both areas.

To add to this, the practice of residential sales can be widely different from one part of the same State to another.  Consider this as well – environmental issues in one area may not be the same in another.  This is also true of housing styles, construction methods and a myriad of other things.  Stick to a local attorney who knows what’s going on locally as well as the local housing inventory.

Lousy Attorneys Don’t Really Exist

Lousy attorneys don’t really exist.  If you choose the wrong person for any job, the result will be poor at best.  It’s really a matter of how you choose an attorney.  Choose wisely and you’ll get the right attorney.  Make a bad choice, however, and results will be disastrous.

The most important part of a transaction is the contract.  The attorney you choose to represent you is so very important.  I wrote about this in the Buyers section of my website.   You’ll also find great information in another blog article I wrote on this last year.

I hope this was helpful for you.  If you’d like the names of some great real estate attorneys or have questions, text or call me at 201-741-8490