Fort Lee NJ Real Estate Blog

11 Questions to Ask When Choosing Your REALTOR®

A home buyer or home seller can get a real estate agent or broker referrals from neighbors, friends, and family members. Or they can use tools like Trulia’s Find an Agent Directory or Zillow reviews to help find highly-recommended agents who know the target neighborhoods and who have a special skill set (e.g., relocation specialists, speaks a foreign language, etc.) to help with a house hunt.

For folks looking to hire a real estate sales professional, it’s important not to pick someone who’s not so close a friend that having a serious, no-nonsense business conversation is impossible. A professional Realtor needs to be someone with whom a buyer or seller can comfortably disagree. And keep in mind that this person will at some point become quite intimate with a buyer or seller’s entire financial picture.

Clients spend a lot of time with their agent so his or her style had better be compatible. Does the client need someone easygoing or someone aggressive? Maybe a seller is a self-proclaimed overachiever and likes the idea of working with someone similar, provided the agent has an easygoing personality and a great sense of humor. Remember too, if a client says, “I may not like him, but he is a real bulldog and will fight for a deal,” might not work either. If the client doesn’t like the agent, chances are no one else will either.

So choosing the most qualified person for the job will be someone who is easy to work with. The ideal person will be an experienced professional who knows the market, acts in an ethical manner, answers every question, addresses every concern, and, most importantly, will listen and be a teammate throughout the entire buying or selling process.

Selling or buying a home can be a time-consuming and emotionally challenging event. Here are some questions you can ask once you start interviewing your candidates.

  1. How long have you been in residential real estate sales?...

What do you need to do before you buy a home?

Buying a home is a complicated yet an exciting process especially if you are a first-time buyer. You think you are ready to buy a home, but do you have the knowledge you need when buying a home? There are many things to keep in mind while undergoing this big step of your life. In this article, I wrote some valuable tips you can use to make the home buying experience easier for you.

Credit History

Most likely you would need to get a mortgage to buy a house right? Then you must make sure that your Credit History is clean as much as possible. Before starting your home search, get copies of your credit report and make sure that everything is correct and fix any problems if there is one.

Don’t buy Stuff you Can’t Afford

This makes a lot of sense right? Rule of thumb is you need to look for a home you can really afford. You can buy a house that runs about two-and-one-half times your annual salary. To better handle your income, expenses and debts about this issue, you can use some mortgage calculators that are available online and it’s for free!

Look for a good School District

Who wants to send their kids into a mediocre school? Even if you don’t have school-age kids as of the moment, top priority of many home buyers is a good school district (if time comes you want to sell your house). Having a good school district increases your home value.

Get Pre-approved

By getting pre-approved, your home search would be easier. This gives you an advantage because you can narrow down the list of homes which you can afford. This is also gives a good impression to home sellers because they know that you have the means on financing the house. A home seller does not want to sell their home to people who just promise that they have the ability to pay right?

You also need help

Internet can be very helpful to you when it comes to your home search because of the vast numbers of listings available...

Benefits of an Open House

Much has been written about both the ups and downs of an open house, but there is a lot to be said for showing your home in this way. Here are just five reasons that an open house might result in a sale:

It gets eyes on your home. Open houses bring in potential buyers who would otherwise be too busy to book a showing. And they draw in visitors in more ways than a simple listing will. Your friends and family can mention the event to anyone they know who might be interested in taking a look at your home. Neighbors who drop by might just be angling to have someone they know move into your neighborhood. Add in advertising and signage, and you’re going to catch the eye of both casual and serious prospective buyers.

You can set the scene – your way. When prospective homebuyers stop by your home for a traditional showing, they often do it with little notice, which is why it can be stressful keeping your home “show ready” for the entire duration that it is on the market. It can be very consuming to keep wastebaskets emptied and floors free of clutter, ensure that the laundry doesn’t pile up, and make certain that floors are routinely swept and vacuumed. With an open house, you’ll be able to prepare for an event that has the potential to bring in many prospective buyers with one fell swoop. It’s much easier to do some deep cleaning that will leave your home spotless if you know exactly when people will be visiting. And you’re also able to sweeten the deal by baking cookies and setting them out or filling vases with fresh flowers.

You could lock in that interested buyer. There’s likely a limit to the number of times even the most interested buyer is willing to ask for a private showing. If your house has already caught the eye of a potential buyer, he or she might be more willing to come back for a second look in a less formal setting. An open house gives that buyer the opportunity to bring...

Simple Questions to Ask Neighbors Before Buying a Home

Before purchasing a new home, it is important to check out the neighborhood. You may have questions to ask neighbors, in the area, before you decide if the house is right for you. Potential homebuyers can learn about the prospective neighborhood by getting out of their cars and talking to the neighbors.

You may not be happy if neighboring activities, schools and people don’t fit with your lifestyle—even if the potential home has the amenities of your dreams.

As you walk the neighborhood, prepare yourself with a few questions to ask local residents. You are certain to find out some useful information as you meet and greet potential new friends on the block.

1. Ask about the house

Neighbors often have good insights into the history of the home and its surroundings. A house can look great and pass all of the usual inspections, but some faults may not show up. Neighbors may know if the house you want to buy suffers from hidden problems.

Alternatively, if all of the neighbors had tree roots damage their water pipes, you will know to get your home checked for similar problems.

Learning more about the condition of the house and why the sellers are selling may put you in a better bargaining position when it comes to making an offer.

2. Find out about the neighborhood vibe

Because you will be new to the neighborhood, ask about local amenities. Where is the best dry cleaner, dentist, hair stylist, etc.? Do they know of any house cleaners or dog walkers? Where do people in the neighborhood go for fun and to exercise?

In addition to getting a feel for the available amenities, also ask about neighborly activities and whether people get along. Is there a neighborhood association? Are there regular gatherings? Do neighbors share parking spaces, responsibilities or other common areas? Neighbors, for instance, might take turn trimming hedges and trees on the property line. While legal documents might dictate...

A Nice Home versus a Nice Neighborhood

When you start shopping for a home, you probably have a very specific image of what you would like that home to look like. You probably also see the perfect neighborhood surrounding that perfect home. Every buyer sets out with an image of the house they want to own, but in reality compromises are often necessary in order to stay within your budget.

Compromising On the House

There may be certain things that are non-negotiable when it comes to your new home, such as the number of bedrooms or a two-car garage. But as you take a look at the homes that are within your budget, you may discover that it is not likely you will get everything on your wish list. But the great thing about owning a home is that you have the power to remodel it at any time and bring your vision to it. Once you are in your new home, you can renovate or even add on if necessary to create the home you really want. And if you have managed to stay below your budget, you will even have the extra money each month to make some of those changes.

Compromising On the Neighborhood

So you’ve found the house of your dreams, but the neighborhood isn’t precisely what you were hoping for. Too much traffic, dated looking homes, no parks nearby. In most cases, you will have to accept you cannot change the neighborhood, and this means you have to decide if the concerns are things you can live with or without.

You know the old saying don’t buy the biggest and nicest house on the block, you may have trouble selling it down the line. If other houses in the area are available for less, why would anyone buy your expensive house to get into the same neighborhood?

So Which Matters More?

In the long run, when it comes down to choosing between the right house and the right neighborhood, you...

LIVING IN CLIFFSIDE PARK, NJ

Nicknamed as New Jersey’s Gold Coast, the waterfront across from Manhattan stretching to the new up and coming towns of Weehawken, West NY, Edgewater, North Bergen and Cliffside Park are just a stone’s throw away from Jersey City and Hoboken. As it also near to shops, restaurants, and waterfront walkways, with all the convenience you can wish to enjoy in a neighborhood are just minutes away. With a population of approximately 24,000, Cliffside Park is one of the most densely populated boroughs in the Garden State. You do not have to worry about Cliffside Park being jam-packed because it offers a wide variety of housing options, including single family homes, duplex’s, condominiums, and many more. The borough is home to an independent public school system that serves students of up to 12th grade. If you are looking to move to Cliffside Park, NJ and want to know more about the neighborhood in general, look no further than here for we have the answers you seek:

The selection of restaurants in Cliffside Park is unbeatable, with choices such as pizza, Armenian and Turkish, so your only problem will be deciding on where to go. In this place you'll find both big-name supermarkets and independent groceries so it is the best stop for all your grocery shopping. A good time is never far away in this borough with the many nightlife venues that line the streets. If an active lifestyle suits you, this vicinity is perfect with its year round activities. Stores in this area have a large variety of products to choose from, such as jewelers, electronics and eyewear stores, insuring that shoppers of all kinds are able to find something. Cliffside Park is served by a remarkable variety of public transportation services which many residents use to get to work.

POINTS OF INTEREST

Apollo Theater

The famous Apollo Theater has made momentous contributions...

Let’s Hear It for The Man!

You may not realize this, but you have Richard Nixon to thank for a nod to all the dads on Father’s Day.

Yes, it was President Nixon (he, of Watergate infamy) who signed a proclamation in 1972 making the second Sunday in June a federal holiday. The fact that Mother’s Day had a 58-year head start says everything about how we’re just now starting to realize the impact father’s have on their children’s happiness and sense of well-being.

“Paternal involvement seems to predict adult adjustment better than does maternal involvement,” Psychology Today reports.

Dads do all kinds of things to help their kids in life.

When it comes to real estate and the American Dream, fathers want their kids to be financially successful and not have to rent and pay their landlords mortgage. They want their sons and daughters to have a home of their own for the grandkids to be safe and happy.

Over the past 11 years in the business I have seen dads gift or loan money for down payments and co-sign to help qualify. I have seen fathers actually subsidize the house payment for a couple of years till the kid becomes a journeyman in the trades or until the kid finishes school and becomes an RN or doctor. I have also seen equity share agreements where the dad owns 50 percent of the house as a rental property and the daughter owns 50 percent as an owner occupant.

Sons and daughters help their aging parents with real estate. Kids can help with property maintenance and repairs and help their parents negotiate with contractors for home improvements. Grown children can help their parents by matching them up with qualified estate planners to avoid probate issues and in some...

Benefits of Home Ownership

The choice to buy a home is exciting and a key investment for your future because there is only so much of it to go around. Real estate is the top choice for many investors and the need for most families. This blog is designed to show some of the many paybacks of home ownership and how buying a home can often turn the American Dream into a reality.

One of the most money making markets in real estate is rentals, which means that many families are paying to live in a home that isn't their own.  In some cases, renting a home is needed. For all others, the money that would be spent on rent could instead be used to pay a mortgage. In fact, monthly rent payments often surpass that of a typical mortgage payment.  One of the greatest benefits of home ownership is putting money into something that you can call your own and knowing that the monthly payments are going toward your home's equity.

Speaking of equity, many properties experience a appreciation in value as more development moves into the area or the economy reinforces through an increase in job opportunities.  If this happens, home values rise and owners can bask in the glory of their newfound profit. When you purchase a new car, it devalues the moment that you drive off of the lot. When you buy a home, however, it has the possibility to appreciate year after year. There are few things in life that can offer you a return above and beyond your original purchase price, but a home can.

When you own a home, you will enjoy the liberty of decorating and making any upgrades that you choose without needing the permission of a landlord or property owner. In addition, you may even be able to use your home's equity to finance some needed upgrades and/or repairs. In some cases, these changes may even increase the value of your home. An upgraded kitchen or bathroom, hardwood flooring or an additional room are examples of changes that could...

Selling Your Home is Like Baking Cupcakes

You may ask yourself, how is selling a home like baking a cupcake? Well, we really like cupcakes so we thought it would be a great analogy for those who share our passion. You see cupcakes are usually baked for grand, happy occasions. A cupcake is baked with passion, love and attention to detail. That same type of passion and attention to detail is needed when you are selling your home.

First, you should be prepared and organized before beginning. First impressions are critical. A cupcake with a beautiful design is more appealing to the eye and more likely to be eaten first. A buyer should be impressed at the first glance when seeing a house. This means curb appeal. It is a good idea to clean, repair and repaint your front door (we may even discuss replacing it), garage door and front yard. You don’t want potential buyers to see obvious flaws at the beginning of the showing. A well-kept house will show potential buyers that you love your home and make it all the more attractive to potential buyers!

When you bake a cupcake, it smells delicious. Scents create powerful emotions in us. Those powerful emotions can be harnessed to help make your home more attractive to buyers. Light a scented candle, use an air freshener or better yet, bake a batch of cupcakes that can be left out for potential buyers to sample! By doing this, it will create a connection between your home and the buyers that view your home. Our team represents a lot of buyers. As a result we know that throughout the showing stage of choosing a house buyers begin to give nicknames to the homes they see. Being referred to as the “cupcake house” will bring back good memories and may be all that it takes to place your home on the top of their list.

Next, do you want to eat a dirty cupcake? Neither do home buyers. If a house they are visiting is cluttered and messy, buyers don’t want to stay...

Renting vs Buying

Extremely low mortgage rates and rising apartment rents in many cities have led some people to dive into homeownership more quickly than they’d originally planned. However, others are choosing to wait until the housing market recovers, in spite of the incentives to buy. The truth is, there’s no one right answer when it comes to determining whether to rent or buy a house.

There are a number of considerations you must make when making this decision. Renting and buying both present a number of pros and cons, and your own financial situation may be the biggest factor of all.

Pros & Cons of Renting

Pros

  • No Maintenance Is Required. If the garbage disposal breaks or you need a plumber, getting maintenance is as easy as calling the superintendent.

  • It’s Easier to Move. If you are not settled into your career or could have an opportunity to relocate in the near future, it is much easier to switch to a month-to-month lease or sublet than it is to sell your home.

  • You Can Avoid Owning a Depreciating Asset. While home prices have stabilized and are rising in most housing markets, there’s no guarantee that your home will increase in value over time.

cons

  • You Don’t Build Equity. When you rent, your housing payment provides you with a place to live, but will not provide you with an asset to sell when you are ready to move.

  • You Don’t Receive Tax Benefits. Homeowners can deduct their mortgage interest payments and their property taxes from their federal income tax, which reduces the final cost of homeownership. Renters cannot deduct any of their housing expenses....

Reasons To Work With A Real Estate Agent In North New Jersey in lieu of a FSBO

Everyone likes to save money, right? You’d be crazy not to! This is why many homeowners actually decide to complete a “For Sale By Owner” on their real estate property in the Northern New Jersey Area rather than work with an agent. It does make sense, after all. If you don’t use an agent, you don’t have to pay their commissions, therefore saving yourself the money. But, are you really saving yourself money?

Many real estate agents in North New Jersey and homeowners that have attempted FSBOs will tell you that the more economical way to go is by actually listing your home on the real estate market in the Northern New Jersey Area with an agent rather than by yourself. By doing this, you are actually able to sell your home faster and at a more accurate price point than if you were to attempt a FSBO. Many homeowners that have attempted a FSBO initially overprice their homes causing them to not have any interest from prospective buyers. In turn, they are required to continue lowering the price while their home sits on the real estate market in the Northern New Jersey Area; this costs them both time and money. When you list with a realtor they are able to help you determine an accurate price point for your home as well as market your property to sell it as quickly as possible. By using marketing avenues that homeowners don’t have access to, this also allows them to sell your real estate listing in North New Jersey sooner, the more money you end up saving yourself.

If this sounds like it may not make sense to you, the best thing you can do for yourself is speak with real estate agents in ...

Best Restaurants to Celebrate Mother’s Day

Mom’s love unconditionally; but you have to admit that they are extremely difficult to please. And when it’s her special day, the pressure is even more intense right? Taking Mom out for brunch or dinner on Mother’s Day is a tradition that’s becoming more popular each year. I’m sure you’ve been searching for places where you can celebrate and hang out with the family. So to help you plan, here are some of the best restaurants we recommend in Edgewater, Fort Lee and Cliffside Park where you can celebrate Mothers’ Day.

Edgewater

Haven Riverfront Restaurant and Bar sits on the banks of the Hudson River in Edgewater, New Jersey offering breathtaking views of the Manhattan skyline. Haven was Rated “very good” by the New York Times and awarded 3 stars by NJ Monthly Magazine, Haven has received widespread critical acclaim for its masterful, innovative twists on some of the most popular modern American dishes created by decorated Chef Ibrahim Sanz. Haven offers a Mother’s Day special, a 3 course Prixe-Fixe Menu for $75 from 11:30am – 8:00pm. Click here for reservations.

Fort Lee

Prime & Beyond is a family owned steakhouse and...

Boost your home value without breaking the bank

Looking for ways to boost your home value without breaking the bank? One of the misconceptions in selling your home is to not put money into it. Often times, home sellers want to get out of their home fast, and forget that marketing your home is essential. Whether you’re getting ready to sell your home or want to jazz it up a bit for your own enjoyment, we’ve got some hacks for you to try.

Curb Appeal: Your curb appeal is what the buyers sees when they first drive by your home so it is extremely important. Homebuyers make up their mind about your home before they step in the front door. Ensure your landscaping, lawn, and flowering beds are free of debris and weeds. Scout the house and remove toys, fix lighting, and sprinkler heads.  At the front entry consider repainting the front door and also add a pot of fresh flowers. Although it sounds obvious, a neatly mowed lawn, a few well-placed shrubs and a swept walkway makes a great first impression.

Make your kitchen really cook. The kitchen is considered the heart of the home. Most buyers focuses on this room when they first view a home for sale, so make sure your kitchen looks clean and reasonably updated

Do what you can afford, comfortably. For cheaper solutions, make sure appliances are clean and working, Resurface or paint cabinets. Adding new door pulls can make cabinets feel fresh and new. If countertops or flooring is damaged, replace with like material

Declutter: Believe it or not space is one of the top selling points for a home.  Don’t forget these places when decluttering: Closets, organization in cabinets, and shelving are crucial in home buying. Homebuyers will look in your closets (make sure there are no monsters...

Tips to Save Energy and Add Value

When it comes to energy efficiency, look for smart features and expertise to help you save energy and money and add value to your home.

1. Begin with a Right-Sized Home.

If the home you buy is simply too large for you or your family’s needs or plans, you stand a good chance of wasting energy through excessive heating and cooling costs. If it’s too small, you’ll feel cramped and uncomfortable. It’s a big investment, so seek balance and buy it “right” from the outset. 

2. Purchase Energy Star Appliances Such as Your TV, Dishwasher, Washer and Dryer, and Microwave.

And especially the refrigerator, as it alone contributes about 10 percent of the energy use in a home. Also, unplug electronics not in use or turn off power strips to avoid phantom charges. 

3. Install Efficient Lighting Such as Compact Fluorescent (CLF) or LED Bulbs in Every Fixture.

Lighting accounts for about 6 percent of an energy bill each year.

4. Get an Energy Audit and Have Tests Performed to Identify Ways of Improving Your Efficiency.

You can always upgrade your heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system as well as your thermal envelope, which includes insulation, windows, and doors  and the seals or weather stripping around them. Visit energy.gov/energytips for more tips.

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