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Monday, September 26, 2016

What Millennials Are Doing With Their Home Equity Should Terrify Us All

Well this doesn't sound good.

Realtor.com reports that millennials are using their home equity to fund vacations. If you're wondering why that's a big deal, maybe you don't remember the market crash of 2007. You know, that multi-year party during which more than seven million people lost their home, in part because of irresponsible spending and home equity management in the face of worsening economic conditions.

"Millennials are often described as prioritizing leisure and entertainment, but many are going into debt to fund them," said Realtor.com. "Most financial planners caution homeowners against using home-equity loans to fund short-term expenses, including vacations. Yet that is the most popular use of the money for the more than half of U.S. homeowners between the ages of 30 and 34 who have owned a home for three years or more and have taken out a home-equity loan, according to results of a Discover Home Equity Loans survey."

The survey showed that vacations topped the list at 43.3% followed by emergency cash at 41.8%. Medical expenses and weddings also made the list at 36.2% and 31.2%, respectively.

"Home-equity loans should never be used for something like a vacation or other short-term wants," wrote Ryan Fuchs, a financial planner with Ifrah Financial Services in Little Rock, Ark., told MarketWatch. However, "Using a home-equity loan for emergency cash can be wise in some cases, he added. "For example, if your home or car is damaged in a storm, and you need to get something fixed before the insurance check will be received, then that can make sense." Once the insurance money is in hand, that loan can be paid off."


kigo.net


Home equity or credit card?
In some parts of the country, we've barely recovered from the crash. Yet equity is being drained like a phone battery on a Pokémon Go binge. In many cases, millennials are choosing home equity loans over credit cards to fund their discretionary purchases - which may look like a smart decision if rates on the home equity loan are lower.
"Borrowing against a home can be a less expensive way to attain funds than credit cards," said MarketWatch. "The average interest rate on a home-equity loan was 4.88% for the week ending Aug. 17, according to Bankrate.com; the average rate on a home-equity line of credit was 4.75%. The average credit-card rate was 16.1%. Interest on home-equity loans is also tax deductible, said TJ Freeborn, spokeswoman for Discover Home Equity Loans."
But borrowing against your home has its inherent risks. "It's because people took money out of their homes that they went underwater," said Deidre Campbell, global chair of the financial services sector for Edelman, a communications marketing firm that has done research on millennials and money, on MarketWatch. "When housing prices fell during the last housing crash, some who took money out of their homes ended up owing more than the homes were worth - leading to a rise in foreclosures and short sales."
Are there signs we're heading in the same direction now? Good question. Bubble talk has been brewing as home prices have continued to rise, especially in overvalued markets where the "price appreciation appears to have overshot" growth, according to Forbes.

U.S. News

And, risking your financial future over a trip to Europe isn't the best strategy regardless of what the market is doing. As we've seen before, you never know when the market could take a turn, and that continued appreciation you were counting on is no longer a thing.

When is it OK to tap your home equity?

When it comes to using your equity, experts generally recommend doing so with caution, and focusing on those things that can help increase your home value. "Home remodels that add value to the property, such as redoing a kitchen or a master bath, can be a good use of home equity, Fuchs told MarketWatch. Home remodels (41.1%) were below vacations and emergency cash on the survey list - but they were there, which is somewhat encouraging.

Fuchs also expressed a preference for home-equity lines of credit over HELOCs, although both are on the rise.

"Popular in the early 2000s and often cited as a main cause of the subprime mortgage crisis, HELOCs are in vogue once again as home values are on the rise and interest rates remain low," said The Fiscal Times. "This loan allows you to regularly draw on a credit line by paying interest rates only for the first 10 years - at which point you start repaying the principal in addition to interest, typically for the next 15 years."

The site tracks the start of the rise of home equity lines and loans in this cycle to 2014 - "About $13 billion of new HELOCs and home-equity loans were issued in the first quarter" of that year, "up 8 percent from a year earlier and the most for that time frame since 2009, according to Inside Mortgage Finance," they said.

Written by Jaymi Naciri

Nancy M. Alexander Stone Harbor and Avalon NJ Real Estate, Long & Foster Avalon

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Understanding (And Avoiding) Private Mortgage Insurance


When you buy a house and have to borrow money from a mortgage lender, that lender will want to make sure there is adequate security (called equity) in the house. In the event you cannot make your monthly mortgage payments (i.e. are in default) and the lender has to foreclose on your property, they want to be able to re-sell the house and at least break even on the transaction.

Thus, for years, lenders would lend no more than 80 percent of the "loan to value ratio". This means that if your house costs $400,000, the most that a lender would lend you would be $320,000.

Obviously, many people just do not have twenty percent (i.e.$80,000 in our example) to put down when they purchase their new property. Keep in mind that a purchaser will also have closing and moving costs.

Thus, the Federal Housing Authority (FHA) loan was born. Under an FHA loan, you could borrow sometimes as much as 100 percent of the purchase price. However, to protect the lender, the FHA gave an assurance that should you go into default, and the lender was not made whole when the property was sold at a foreclosure sale, the government would back up -- i.e. insure -- that the lender would be made whole.

Over the years, a new industry was born -- called "private mortgage insurance". Here, instead of the government insuring the lender, the private mortgage company would be the insurer -- and you (the borrower) would be required to pay monthly insurance premiums in order to obtain a mortgage with a loan-to-value ratio of more than 80 percent.

However, consumers faced with private mortgage soon found that it was next to impossible to get rid of these monthly mortgage insurance premiums. Congress was besieged with horrible examples of abuse in this area, and finally enacted a consumer protection law -- called the "Homeowners Insurance Protection Act -- designed to relieve some of these abuses.

The effective date of this new law was July 29, 1999. Under this new law, private mortgage insurance on most loans originated after that date will automatically terminate once the mortgage has amortized to 78 percent of the original purchase price of the house. Lenders are required to advise their borrowers -- at closing -- when the mortgage will reach that 78 percent mark.




However, if your mortgage loan was placed prior to July 29,1999, you will still have to discuss your specific situation with your lender. If the lender refuses to allow you to drop this PMI, you might want to consider refinancing and paying off the old loan.

Finally, many lenders are offering potential homeowners an "80-10-10" loan arrangement. Under this procedure, the homeowner obtains a first mortgage (also called a "deed of trust") in the amount lf 80 percent of the purchase price. This avoids the private mortgage requirement. The homeowner also obtains a second deed of trust in the amount of 10 percent of the purchase price. This second trust usually carries a higher rate of interest -- but the interest is tax deductable and the mortgage should have no prepayment penalty. Under the 80-10-10 process, the homeowner is still required to put up 10 percent cash -- his own money -- in order to close on the property.


Before you commit yourself to any loan, do the numbers and compare the costs associated with a refinance. Make sure you know all of the facts and have done your comparative shopping. 


Written by Benny L. Kass

Nancy M. Alexander Stone Harbor and Avalon NJ Real Estate, Long & Foster Avalon

Friday, September 23, 2016

Kitchen Renovations That Will Give You The Biggest Bang For Your Buck

For some, the idea of a kitchen renovation is thrilling. They can't wait to get in there and rip out countertops, replace or paint cabinets, and choose shiny new finishes. Others just had a small anxiety attack upon reading the words "kitchen" and "renovation" together.

The idea of redoing a kitchen, especially if it involves demolition and you don't know what surprises await behind the walls, can be scary. And whether you're approaching a renovation with enthusiasm or something more closely resembling abject terror, you still want to make sure you get the value out. Those countertops might be gorgeous, but you'll probably love them even more if they bring in good ROI.

Mosaik Design reports that the national average of an 83% ROI, and the best way to achieve the max is to "focus on kitchen upgrades that are energy-efficient, reasonably priced, and low-maintenance." That's especially important if you're looking to sell your home sometime soon.

"If you have a dated kitchen…and a buyer walks into that kitchen, they're going to think that in order to redo that kitchen, they're going to have to spend $40,000 or $50,000," said US News. In reality, "the average cost of a minor kitchen remodel -- new cabinet doors, appliances, countertops, sink, faucet, paint and hardware" -- is $20,122 nationwide, according to the most recent Cost vs. Value report. "Savvy shoppers can do it for less than the buyer assumes."

Even if you have no plans of selling soon, or ever, choosing the kitchen upgrades that can have the biggest impact on the look and function of your space while providing the best return on your investment is key. Put your money in the following areas to give you the best shot at both.


decoist.com

Appliances
"Replace basic black appliances with stainless steel," said Forbes. That goes for white appliances as well. Stainless will instantly update the look of the space, and if your old appliances were, well, old, they probably weren't functioning great anyway, nor were they energy efficient. "To keep this upgrade within your budget, try to find a deeply discounted appliance at an outlet or local "scratch-and-dent" store — where almost-perfect pieces come with perfectly approachable price tags."


homedesignlover.com

Cabinets
"Cabinets make up a big chunk of the total cost for kitchen upgrades, sometimes one-third of your total budget," said Mosaik Design. But you can easily update your space by painting them. As long as your doors and drawers are in decent condition, a few coats of paint will make a huge difference. Choose white for a fresh look that will also make your space look larger. Doors not looking so hot? Refacing can save you tons of money over the cost of brand-new cabinets.

thisoldhouse.com


New hardware
You'd be surprised how impactful new hardware can be in making your cabinets look fresh and new, especially if they represent a fancy new trend, like the return of brass, which has never looked better.
"One of our favorite tips for updating a kitchen is to swap out standard hardware," Marika Meyer of Marika Meyer Interiors LLC told Money magazine. "Hardware can change the feel of the space, making an out-of-date kitchen feel more modern, or noncustom cabinetry feel like an upgrade."

Havertown Petite Kitchen

Countertops
Investing in new countertops can be pricey, and if you're getting ready to sell, you might not want to make the investment in high-end materials. "Make your decisions with thriftiness in mind: choose one of the more affordable granite countertops (such as Napoli, Baltic Brown, or St. Cecilia)," said Forbes. "Leave higher-end stone and more ornate beveling for your next home.


Add a backsplash
If your backsplash is icky, ugly, or barely warrants a mention, it's time to get it together. With the right materials and a good effort, you can make the backsplash a focal point, which can help emphasize the positive and downplay other features in the space that may need attention.
"Add a splash of color with a new backsplash," said HGTV. "New tile is attractive." And if you want to do it yourself, "Home improvement stores teach classes on this."
Not sure what to choose? Subway tile is both classic and trendy, which makes it safe, and thanks to about 10,000 kitchen renovations on TV, it's also one of the most sought-after options.

theoffiz.com


New lighting
The only thing worse than a dark and dreary kitchen is dark and dreary kitchen with ugly light fixtures. Swap out the chandelier in your eat-in kitchen for something more fresh, and concentrate on the area over your island or breakfast bar by adding a few trendy pendant lights.


"Jeffrey Osborne of Hark and Osborne Interior Design recommends sourcing ‘stylish yet affordable' pendant lights (he likes Schoolhouse Electric & Supply Co. Lighting) to hang above an island or countertop," said Money. Add undercabinet lighting to give the kitchen a higher-end look — or simply change out the bulbs in existing fixtures to cast the kitchen in a better light (you might be surprised at the results!)." 


Written by Jaymi Naciri



Nancy M. Alexander Stone Harbor and Avalon NJ Real Estate, Long & Foster Avalon

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Avalon/Stone Harbor NJ Weekly Update September 22nd, 2016



PENDING CONTRACTS UP:  August 2016 saw 53 pending sale contracts in the local market, up from 34 last August—a 56% increase!  That’s a reflection of the recent strength seen in the market.  Low and mid-priced segments have been the most active in the last several months.  For the latest Long & Foster Market Minute report, click here:  http://marketminute.longandfoster.com/Market-Minute/NJ/Avalon-Stone-Harbor.pdf


Click above for the latest Long & Foster Market Minute report!
 

A NEW COAST GUARD CUTTER will soon be stationed at the Coast Guard Base in Cape May.  The newly built 154-foot USCGC Rollin Fritch is named for a World War II era sailor who served aboard the USS Callaway in the Philippines in 1945.  The Fritch is part of the Sentinel-class of cutters, and can reach speeds of 28 knots (32 mph), while remaining at sea five days at a time.

SAVOR SEPTEMBER, THEN CABARET NIGHT!  Saturday, September 24th brings with it two favorite fall events. Savor September kicks off at noon in Stone Harbor’s 96th Street shopping district, and offers an array of activities including crafts, music, food, wine & beer, until 8pm.  Saturday evening it’s Cabaret Night at Avalon Community Hall, beginning at 7pm.  The Marinos Band will perform everything from Top 40 to Oldies, R&B, Classic Rock, and Dance tunes.  Visit www.AvalonPerformingArts.org for info.

ANNUAL DUNE GRASS PLANTING will take place in Avalon on Saturday, October 1st.  Volunteers should report to Avalon Community Hall at 8:30am for donuts and coffee, and a brief planting demonstration.  Volunteers will be transported to planting sites by borough trucks.  A complimentary lunch will follow at Community Hall.  If there is still planting to be completed, planting will resume after lunch for those who are able to continue.  Please contact Chuck McDonnell at Community Hall (609-967-3066) or Sue Keen at the Mayor’s Office (609-967-5924) for questions or to sign up.

STONE HARBOR BACK BAY DREDGING:  Equipment has been mobilized as the contractor prepares to resume dredging operations in Stone Harbor.  For a Borough update on progress, please click here:  http://stoneharbornj.org/stone-harbor-back-bay-dredge-update-9-16-16/  Bayfront property owners who wish to have their private slips dredged should click here for information: http://stoneharbornj.org/stone-harbor-backbay-project-private-boat-slip-dredging/

UPCOMING EVENTS:
  • Irish Fall Festival featuring music, dancing, food, crafts, more, along NJ Avenue in North Wildwood, Thursday-Sunday, September 22-25
  • Irish Festival Weekend, Sea Isle City, Friday-Sunday, September 23-25
  • Night Walk at the Cape May County Zoo, after-hours tour of the zoo, 6:30-8:30PM, Friday, September 23
  • Stone Harbor’s Savor September 5th Annual Food, Wine & Beer Festival, crafts, kids’ activities, music, more, 96th Street Shopping District, Noon-8PM, Saturday, September 24
  • Avalon Performing Arts Council Cabaret Night featuring  The Marino Dance Band, Avalon Community Hall, doors open at 6:30PM, show begins at 7:30PM, Saturday, September 24
  • Avalon’s Fall Dune Grass Planting, sign up by calling Chuck McDonnell at 609-967-3066, volunteers report to Avalon Community Hall, 8:30AM, Saturday, October 1 (Rain Date is Sunday, October 2)
  • IPad Workshop, Avalon Public Library, register at 609-967-7155, 10AM-Noon, Saturday, October 1
  • Basket Weaving Workshop, Avalon Public Library, register at 609-967-7155, 10AM-4PM, Saturday, October 1
  • Sea Isle City’s Harborfest, Marina Park, Saturday, October 1, 11AM-4PM
  • Beginner Genealogy Workshop, Avalon Public Library, register at 609-967-7155, 10AM-Noon, Saturday, October 8
  • Avalon’s Chamber of Commerce Seafood Festival, music, crafts, kids’ activities, food tent, more, 30th Street Parking Lot & Community Hall in Avalon, 10AM-5PM, Saturday & Sunday, October 8 & 9
  • Night Walk at the Cape May County Zoo, after-hours tour of the zoo, 6:30-8:30PM, Saturday, October 8
  • Big Band Dance featuring John Clark’s Little Big Band, Avalon’s Community Hall, 7PM, Saturday, October 8
  • Cape May Traditional Jazz Society presents the Al Harrison Dixieland Band, proceeds benefit the Food Bank of Southern Jersey, VFW Post #386, 419 Congress Street in Cape May, 2-4PM, Sunday, October 9
  • South Jersey District Surfing Contest, Sea Isle City’s 40th Street Beach, 7AM-5PM, Saturday, October 15
  • Mayor’s Cup Bocce Tournament, open to the public, 39th Street court in Avalon, 10AM, Saturday, October 15
  • Seashell Sunday at the Wetlands Institute, on-hands exhibits, learning & fun, 12:30PM, Sunday, October 16
  • Avalon Lions’ Club Pasta Night, Windrift Hotel at 80th Street & the beach, 4:30-7:30PM, Sunday, October 16
  • Boo at the Cape May County Zoo, family friendly free events, costume contest, craft stations, magic show, more,10AM-2PM, Saturday, October 22
  • Stone Harbor’s Harvest Festival, 96th Street Shopping District, hayrides, trick or treating in the shops, more, 11AM-5PM, Saturday, October 22
  • Snow Leopard Day at the Cape May County Zoo, snow leopard related programs, activities & zookeeper talks,11AM-2PM, Sunday, October 23
  • Avalon’s Trunk or Treat, trick or treating at the 30th Street parking lot by Avalon’s Community Hall, 5-7PM, Saturday, October 29
  • Big Band Dance featuring Marilyn & the Monroes, Avalon Community Hall, 7PM, Saturday, November 5

Featured Property:
Extraordinary luxury on the bay!

9911 Sunrise Drive, Stone Harbor, $5,995,000, ACTIVE MLS#: 165941
 








New Listings:

10 Seabass Lane, Avalon Manor, $275,000, ACTIVE MLS#: 172432

235 99th Street, Stone Harbor, $499,000, ACTIVE MLS#: 172342

214 32nd Street, Avalon, $699,000, ACTIVE MLS#: 172375

269 23rd Street, Avalon, $712,000, ACTIVE MLS#: 172396

263 7th Street, Avalon, $945,000, ACTIVE MLS#: 172365

284 86th Street, Stone Harbor, $1,099,000, ACTIVE MLS#: 172389

179 20th Street, Avalon, $1,369,000, ACTIVE MLS#: 172378

226 104th Street, Stone Harbor, $1,695,000, ACTIVE MLS#: 172422

4308 Ocean Drive, Avalon, $1,800,000, ACTIVE MLS#: 172357

312 114th Street, Stone Harbor, $2,629,000, ACTIVE MLS#: 172384

174 76th Street, Avalon, $4,195,000, ACTIVE MLS#: 172295


Properties Sold:

280 79th Street, Avalon, $550,000, SOLD MLS#: 171282

14 Hallman Drive, Stone Harbor Manor, $605,000, SOLD MLS#: 171377

1127 Stone Harbor Blvd A22, Stone Harbor Manor, $630,000, SOLD MLS#: 165514

332 87th Street, Front Unit, Stone Harbor, $700,000, SOLD MLS#: 170654

286 67th Street - Unit B, Avalon, $801,000, SOLD MLS#: 171341

273 34th Street, Avalon, $840,000, SOLD MLS#: 170699

129 19th Street, Avalon, $1,050,000, SOLD MLS#: 171523

3289 Ocean Drive, Avalon, $1,195,000, SOLD MLS#: 170688

6640 Ocean Drive Unit C-N, Avalon, $1,320,000, SOLD MLS#: 167701

179 29th Street, Avalon, $1,470,000, SOLD MLS#: 170866

161 103rd Street, Stone Harbor, $1,500,000, SOLD MLS#: 170437

75 W 21st, Avalon, $1,612,000, SOLD MLS#: 168947

1710 Avalon Avenue, Avalon, $1,690,000, SOLD MLS#: 170589

9801 First Avenue, Stone Harbor, $1,780,000, SOLD MLS#: 170675

7179 Dune Drive, Avalon, $2,050,000, SOLD MLS#: 170273

111 116th Street, Stone Harbor, $2,370,000, SOLD MLS#: 169887

3265 First Avenue, Avalon, $2,650,000, SOLD MLS#: 169370

11015 First Avenue, Stone Harbor, $3,250,000, SOLD MLS#: 162630

103 119th Street, Stone Harbor, $4,800,000, SOLD MLS#: 162648



Nancy M. Alexander Stone Harbor and Avalon NJ Real Estate, Long & Foster Avalon

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Avalon/Stone Harbor NJ Weekly Update September 15th, 2016


OCEAN DRIVE and its planned reconstruction  will be discussed at an informational meeting  hosted by the Avalon Home and Land Owners Association and the Borough of Avalon this Saturday, at 9am.  A section of the road from 29th Street to 62nd Street will receive new sewer service, followed by a reconstruction of the roadway.  A portion of the roadway will be elevated with new drainage added, to help alleviate nuisance flooding caused by rain.  Work is expected to begin in March 2017, then break for the summer season.  It will resume in September 2017 until completion.  Homeowners and the public are invited to attend the informational meeting, which will be held at the Avalon Community Center.

BRIDGE INSPECTIONS began earlier this week on the Avalon Boulevard Bridge over the Intracoastal Waterway.  Several additional bridges will be inspected over the next couple of weeks, including Sea Isle Boulevard, 96th Street Bridge, and Ocean Drive over Great Channel just south of Stone Harbor.  Lane closings will occur as each bridge is inspected; expect minor delays if traversing a bridge while an inspection is taking place.


A beautiful September afternoon along the bay in Stone Harbor.

STONE HARBOR BACK BAY DREDGING:  An update on Stone Harbor’s back bay dredging plan has been posted to the Borough’s website.   Instead of hydraulic dredging, which led to problems dewatering dredge material at the 81st Street Municipal Marina last year, mechanical dredging will be used moving forward.  A backhoe on a barge will excavate dredge material, which will be transported to the marina site and eventually mixed with Portland cement, before being hauled away.  To view the presentation slides click here: http://stoneharbornj.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/Year-II-Sumamry-and-path-Forward-Rev-1-9-8-16.pdf

IF YOU’VE DRIVEN NORTH on Ocean Drive through Sea Isle City in the past, you’ve probably taken note of the site used to test paint and other coatings in the seaside environment.  Ocean City Research has operated the site for many years, but it will not be renewing its lease.  Sea Isle City is currently exploring other possible uses for the site.  For details, see this Atlantic City Press article:  http://www.pressofatlanticcity.com/business/sea-isle-paint-test-site-removed-city-seeks-lessee/article_fdcb337e-76fd-11e6-9ff3-1f6347374164.html?utm_medium=social&utm_source=email&utm_campaign=user-share

SEPTEMBER & OCTOBER are great months to look at available properties if you’re considering a purchase!  Ready to look?  Please give me a call today!

UPCOMING EVENTS:
  • Cape May Lighthouse Full Moon Climb, call 609-884-5404 for info, Friday, September 16
  • 21st Annual Nun’s Beach Surf Contest, 111th Street Beach in Stone Harbor, 7AM, Saturday, September 17
  • Avalon Home & Land Owners’ Association & Borough of Avalon presentation on the Ocean Drive Construction Project, Avalon Community Hall, 9AM, Saturday, September 17
  • Wetlands Institute Fall Migration Festival, guided viewing of migratory birds, demonstrations, live animal presentations, more, 9:30AM-4:30PM, Saturday & Sunday, September 17 & 18
  • Sea Isle City Fall Family Festival, crafts, food, live music, amusement rides, kids’ activities, more, Saturday & Sunday, September 17 & 18
  • Creative Writing Seminar at the Avalon Public Library, register by calling 609-967-7155, 10AM-Noon, Saturday, September 17
  • International Red Panda Day at the Cape May County Zoo, red panda related programs, activities & zookeeper talks, 10AM-3PM, Saturday, September 17
  • Irish Fall Festival featuring music, dancing, food, crafts, more, along NJ Avenue in North Wildwood, Thursday-Sunday, September 22-25
  • Night Walk at the Cape May County Zoo, after-hours tour of the zoo, 6:30-8:30PM, Friday, September 23
  • Stone Harbor’s Savor September 5th Annual Food, Wine & Beer Festival, crafts, kids’ activities, music, more, 96th Street Shopping District, Noon-8PM, Saturday, September 24
  • Avalon Performing Arts Council Cabaret Night featuring Billy Joel Tribute & Marino Dance Band, Avalon Community Hall, doors open at 6:30PM, show begins at 7:30PM,Saturday, September 24
  • Avalon’s Fall Dune Grass Planting, sign up by calling Chuck McDonnell at 609-967-3066, volunteers report to Avalon Community Hall, 8:30AM, Saturday, October 1 (Rain Date is Sunday, October 2)
  • IPad Workshop, Avalon Public Library, register at 609-967-7155, 10AM-Noon, Saturday, October 1
  • Beginner Genealogy Workshop, Avalon Public Library, register at 609-967-7155, 10AM-Noon, Saturday, October 8
  • Avalon’s Chamber of Commerce Seafood Festival, music, crafts, kids’ activities, food tent, more, 30th Street Parking Lot & Community Hall in Avalon, 10AM-5PM,Saturday & Sunday, October 8 & 9
  • Big Band Dance featuring John Clark’s Little Big Band, Avalon’s Community Hall, 7PM, Saturday, October 8
  • Mayor’s Cup Bocce Tournament, open to the public, 39th Street court in Avalon, 10AM, Saturday, October 15
  • Seashell Sunday at the Wetlands Institute, on-hands exhibits, learning & fun, 12:30PM, Sunday, October 16
  • Avalon Lions’ Club Pasta Night, Windrift Hotel at 80th Street & the beach, 4:30-7:30PM, Sunday, October 16
  • Stone Harbor’s Harvest Festival, 96th Street Shopping District, hayrides, trick or treating in the shops, more, 11AM-5PM, Saturday, October 22

Featured Property:

On the bay in Stone Harbor, near 96th Street!
334 92nd Street, Stone Harbor, $1,300,000, ACTIVE MLS#: 170620




New Listings:

D14 Weber Court, Stone Harbor, $589,000, ACTIVE MLS#: 172285

360 89th Street, Stone Harbor, $1,099,000, ACTIVE MLS#: 172267

6680 Ocean, North Unit Drive, Avalon, $1,695,000, ACTIVE MLS#: 172272

3778 First Avenue, Avalon, $2,695,000, ACTIVE MLS#: 172178

135 87th Street, Stone Harbor, $3,025,000, ACTIVE MLS#: 172176

174 76th Street, Avalon, $4,195,000, ACTIVE MLS#: 172295

3 84th Street, Stone Harbor, $7,395,000, ACTIVE MLS#: 172269


Properties Sold:

184 26th Street, Avalon, $490,000, SOLD MLS#: 171434

1116 Stone Harbor Blvd # 101, Stone Harbor Manor, $699,000, SOLD MLS#: 171172

15 99th Unit J, Stone Harbor, $710,000, SOLD MLS#: 168750

282 50th Street, Avalon, $975,000, SOLD MLS#: 168786

276 43rd Street, Avalon, $1,095,000, SOLD MLS#: 171225

1918 First Avenue, Avalon, $1,155,000, SOLD MLS#: 166960

230 65th Street, Avalon, $1,200,000, SOLD MLS#: 171198

231 121st Street, Stone Harbor, $1,400,000, SOLD MLS#: 171765

7729 Sunset Drive, Avalon, $1,500,000, SOLD MLS#: 168089

222 122nd Street, Stone Harbor, $1,620,000, SOLD MLS#: 171378

7389 Dune Drive, Avalon, $2,450,000, SOLD MLS#: 170999

9905 Sunrise Drive, Stone Harbor, $3,250,000, SOLD MLS#: 169019


Nancy M. Alexander Stone Harbor and Avalon NJ Real Estate, Long & Foster Avalon

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Where You Work Should Help Decide Where To Buy Your Next Home

If you're entering into the real estate market for the first time, you'll hear the old adage: location, location, location. That's three of the key factors... I'm kidding but, location is, indeed, a very important concern.

However, many buyers think location is most important because of the surrounding area. So, if the neighborhood is nice, with parks, good schools, retail stores nearby, and somewhat close to freeways, it's a good location. But what also makes it a good location is how close it is to your work.

These days many people are telecommuting, which allows them to work from home and save gas. If that's the case, a 45-minute or hour-plus drive, one-way to the office, might not be too intimidating because you're not going to have to do it every day. But your long commute could still become a key factor when it comes to getting a mortgage.

Some lenders may factor in your long commute as part of your overall debt-to-income ratio, (DTI) which will directly impact how much money you can borrow. Regardless of whether the lender takes your extended commute into consideration, buyers should. With rising gas prices and increasing traffic, an extra long commute to the office can hurt your pocketbook.

A study from the Center for Housing Policy and the Center for Neighborhood Technology reported that transportation expenses for households in the largest metro areas increased 44 percent from 2000 to 2010. And about 600,000 full-time workers have a huge commute of at least 90 minutes and 50 miles to get to the office, according to U.S. Census data.

Sometimes the allure of rural areas with typically less expensive housing prices is so strong that buyers forget to consider how long they'll be on the road before they're home at night. They also don't factor in the gas costs that add up fast and can amount to hundreds of dollars in expenses each month.

If you do purchase a home with a long commute, talk to your company about possible commuting subsidies, arrange a carpool, or try to work remotely more frequently to reduce the back and forth commute. Craigslist.com andeRideShare.com help connect people with others who live and work nearby. Some cities even have their own sponsored program for free online matching services for carpooling. You can also ask your work to adjust your hours so that you can come in and leave at times when you'll miss rush hours. This way you're not just burning gas while sitting in tight, slow-moving traffic.





Cities with good mass transit are attracting buyers and providing options that help avoid putting extra unwanted miles on their vehicles. It makes sense. Sometimes the commute, if they don't have to drive, is a welcome break giving workers time to catch up on a good book, movie, or extra work. Plus, some cities have waterway ferries that make it a beautiful and enjoyable commute.


If you're shopping for a home and considering the long commute, spend a little time weighing the pros and cons. Also, do a little research. You can visit
commutesolutions.org to use their online calculator to determine the true cost of your driving commute. Having a road map that shows your expected expenses will help you accurately budget for them.

Written by Realty Times Staff



Nancy M. Alexander Stone Harbor and Avalon NJ Real Estate

Monday, September 12, 2016

Lease/Options Are Useful, But Can Be Tricky


A recently-revised memorandum (Option Contracts and Leases with Option to Purchase) has been released by the Legal Department of the California Association of REALTORS® (CAR). That is a good thing. A Lease with Option to Purchase (Lease/Option) is a useful tool in an agent's box, regardless of general market conditions. While lease/options more often are instruments of choice when financing is hard to come by, it seems there will always be some parties whose situation is well-suited for this method of acquisition.

A good lease/option agreement consists of three components: the option agreement, a purchase agreement, and a lease agreement. While terms are always negotiable between the parties, a typical scenario would be as follows:

Option agreement: The optionor (seller) grants the optionee (buyer) the right to buy the property within a certain amount of time. I might grant you an option to buy my property within the next twelve months. You could exercise the option -- buy the property -- in the third month or any other month right up until the end date specified in the option. Typically, the option is paid for at the outset and is not refundable. It is between the parties whether or not the option money will be credited toward the purchase price.

It is important that the option agreement specify the purchase price or a clear method of determining it. We might agree today what the price will be, but we could also agree that it would be determined by an appraisal, or an average of appraisals, or by an increase/decrease of the Dow Jones average, etc. at the time the option is exercised.

Purchase Agreement: It is also important to agree at the outset on the terms of the purchase. If I have an option to purchase your property for $500,000 -- but no terms are specified -- you won't be happy if next year I exercise the option saying, "OK, I'll give you $5,000 down and I will pay off the $495,000 balance at $5,000 per year."

Moreover, if a sample purchase agreement is spelled out, the optionor/seller may have the opportunity to confirm the buyer's financing plans.

Lease Agreement: The option agreement and a proposed purchase agreement are essential for any option to purchase. If the optionee is to have possession of the property, then a lease agreement is also needed. In general, a conventional lease is sufficient, but some special considerations might apply. Often the parties may agree to apply some portion of the rent to the downpayment. It is certainly OK to do this, but if there is going to be conventional third-party financing, it is a good idea to determine how the lender will treat the matter. Suppose, for example, that the parties agree that the total rent amount will be credited to the downpayment. Many lenders might not agree to this, arguing that you had to pay rent anyway, so you really can't count that as also accumulating a downpayment. Here, it is more plausible (from the lender's point of view) that you pay higher than a market rental rate, and let the overage be credited to the downpayment.

Also, many lease/option agreements automatically terminate if the tenant does not comply with the terms of the rental agreement. This matter should be clearly addressed at the outset.

Finally, both parties will benefit from having all disclosures and inspections performed at the beginning of the lease/option period. Surprises at the end can take all the fun out of it.

Bob Hunt is a director of the California Association of Realtors®. He is the author of Real Estate the Ethical Way. His email address is scbhunt@aol.com.


Written by Bob Hunt

Nancy M. Alexander Stone Harbor and Avalon NJ Real Estate

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Tax Treatment Of Your Vacation Home


Question: We own our principal residence which is located in the District of Columbia, and we also have a second home in Delaware by the ocean. I know that when we sell our principal residence, since we are married and have lived in house for many years, we are eligible for the up-to $500,000 exclusion of gain. I know that we can also deduct our mortgage interest and our real estate taxes when we file our annual income tax return. However, we do not know how to handle this for the vacation home. Can you give us some guidance?


Answer: It really depends on how you use your second home. Did you use it entirely for your personal use, or was is treated as an investment property for real estate tax purposes. For this column, I will assume that it is an investment, and that you have been renting for several years.

If, for example, you bought the home many years ago for $70,000, and added $30,000 worth of improvements, your basis in the property (excluding closing costs) would be $100,000. If you were to sell it for $200,000, your gain would be $100,000, less any real estate commissions or other expenses relating to the sale. Under current capital gains rules, you would probably have to pay 15% of this net profit to the IRS.

You do have a number of options available, however, and this column will address some of these. However, you are strongly urged to consult your own legal and tax advisors, before making any major decisions.



First, you could decide to keep the second home and continue to rent it out. If you believe there is a strong rental market, and that the house will continue to appreciate, why sell it and pay the tax? Perhaps while it is still your second home you can refinance, lowering your interest rate, so that your cash flow would not be too great. Obviously, this makes you a landlord, and unless you turn the property over to a property manager, you will have to endure the negative aspects of being a landlord as well as the positive.


Second, if you have children, leave it to them on your death, They will get what is known as a "stepped-up" basis in the property. In other words, even though your basis may be $100,000, if the value of the property on the date of your death is $200,000, the children's basis is the value on the date of your death.

Third, you might consider doing a like-kind exchange of the property. Under Section 1031 of the Internal Revenue Code, you can "swap" the beach property for any other like-kind property, and like-kind has been broadly defined to include any form of real property. It can be a farm in Ohio, an office building in New York City, or another beachfront lot or house in Florida.

This is a complex and tricky process, but under the right circumstances it would enable you to "sell" the ocean property and exchange it for some other property that may be more suitable for you. Keep in mind, however, that the new exchanged property (called the replacement property by the Internal Revenue Service) must be held for investment purposes, and -- at least for a reasonable period of time -- cannot be used as your principal residence. Some taxlawyers say the "safe harbor" is one year, while others say two years.

These are but a number of the options you should consider so as to avoid paying a considerable amount of money to Uncle Sam.


Written by Benny L. Kass

Nancy M. Alexander Stone Harbor and Avalon NJ Real Estate

Friday, September 9, 2016

Premise Liability Expanded


Most everyone who pays attention to real estate matters knows that along with ownership and/or control of real property comes various liabilities. If someone gets hurt on property that you own and/or control, then, depending on what happened and how, you may be held liable for their injury. Among other things, you have a duty to exercise reasonable care not to expose people to a risk of foreseeable harm. But what about property that is next to or around yours? Do you have any duties to prevent harm from occurring on them? In some circumstances, the answer may be ‘yes' according to a ruling by California's Third Appellate District Court of Appeal. (Vasilenko v. Grace Family Church, June 17, 2016)

Grace Family Church (GFC) in Sacramento regularly had more attendees at various events than could be accommodated by the church's parking lot. GFC entered into an agreement with a swim school across the street that allowed the church to use the school's lot as an overflow parking facility. When the church had an event requiring overflow parking, it staffed the school parking lot with two attendants: one to direct cars into the lot and one to show them where to park.

Between the school and the church is Marconi Avenue, which at that point consisted of two eastbound lanes, two westbound, and a central left turn lane. The nearest intersection to the church and the school is between 50 to 100 feet away. The intersection had neither a traffic light nor a marked crosswalk.

On the evening of November 19, 2010, the plaintiff, Aleksander Vasilenko, went to the church to attend an event. The main lot was full and he was directed to the overflow lot across the street. When Mr. Vasilenko parked there he did not receive any direction as to how or where he should cross the street in order to get back to the church. Along with two other people, Mr. Vasilenko attempted to cross Marconi Avenue directly to the church. En route the others saw a car coming and ran; Mr. Vasilenko was hit by the car and injured.

Subsequently, Vasilenko sued the church. He alleged that Grace Family Church had "created a foreseeable risk of harm by maintaining an overflow parking lot in a location that required its invitees to cross Marconi Avenue, was negligent in failing to protect against that risk, and as a result, he was hit by a car while crossing the street." At the trial, the church moved for summary judgment (essentially, dismissal) on the ground that it, "did not have a duty to assist [Vasilenko] with or provide instruction about how to safely cross a public street that it did not own, possess, or control." The trial court granted the dismissal, saying that the church "did not owe a duty of care to the plaintiff or other members of the public to assist them in safely crossing a public street, which it did not own or control."

Vasilenko appealed.

The appellate court disagreed with the trial court. While it noted that "usually a landowner has no duty to prevent injury on adjacent property;" nonetheless, the duty of care encompasses a duty to avoid exposing persons to risks of injury that occur off site if the landowner's property is maintained in such a manner as to expose persons to an unreasonable risk of injury offsite." [my emphasis] It said, "the salient fact is not that GFC did not control the public street where Vasilenko was injured, but that it did control the location and operation of its overflow parking lot…" [emphasis in original] Moreover, "GFC created the danger by maintaining the overflow lot in a location that required invitees to cross a busy thoroughfare that it knew lacked a crosswalk or traffic signal in order to reach the church."

The summary judgment was reversed and the matter was sent back to the trial court.

One wonders what a jury might do with this.

Bob Hunt is a director of the California Association of Realtors®. He is the author of Real Estate the Ethical Way. His email address is scbhunt@aol.com.


Written by Bob Hunt

Nancy M. Alexander Stone Harbor and Avalon NJ Real Estate

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Avalon/Stone Harbor NJ Weekly Update September 8th, 2016


THE “SECOND SUMMER” has begun!  Labor Day Weekend marks the unofficial end to summer, and the start of our “Second Summer” season.  C’mon down and enjoy cooler weather, smaller crowds, and a great lineup of fall activities & events!  The shore is a bit less hectic at this time of year, but there’s still plenty to enjoy while you’re here!

LAST WEEKEND’S WEATHER turned out to be far nicer than initially predicted, as tropical storm Hermine passed farther off the coast than it was first expected to.  This greatly lessened Hermine’s impact on the South Jersey Shore, which saw minimal wind, almost no rain, and very minimal coastal flooding.  Some have expressed frustration with the forecast…here’s your chance to hear from a panel of meteorologists and emergency management officials on that very subject.  Press of Atlantic City meteorologist Dan Skeldon will be joined by Fox29’s Kathy Orr from Philadelphia, Jonathan Carr of WeatherNJ, Avalon Mayor and Cape May County Emergency Management Director Marty Pagliughi, along with several others, for a two-hour Cape-Atlantic Severe Weather Forum at the Ocean City Music Pier September 15th, from 7pm to 9pm.  It’s a chance for the public to ask questions and express concerns about severe weather forecasting and the decisions that are made based on those forecasts.

LOCAL ARTIST DORIS ZOGAS passed away last week in Reading, PA.  Her well known watercolor paintings featured many Seven Mile Beach icons such as Hoys 5 & 10, the Avalon Hotel, Smuggler’s Cove, The Windrift, Uncle Bill’s Pancake House, and The Princeton, as well as many other island scenes.  Mrs. Zogas took up painting after attending a watercolor workshop in Stone Harbor in 1978.

Taking the plunge!  Why not take your own plunge and purchase your own place at the shore?  Whether you need a Bayfront home to park your boat, a low maintenance condo, or a palatial beachfront, I’ll help you find the perfect place! Call me today!

CLEANING OUT?  It’s time for bulk pickup in both Avalon & Stone Harbor!  In Avalon, bulk items may be placed curbside through September 11th, for collection on September 12th.  (No construction or remodeling materials will be collected.)  In Stone Harbor collection will occur on September 12th; items may be placed curbside up to 72 hours in advance.  (No construction or remodeling debris will be collected; no hazardous waste, propane, or paint will be collected.)

FALL MIGRATION FESTIVAL:  The Wetlands Institute’s annual Fall Migration Festival will take place September 17th & 18th.  The yearly favorite highlights Cape May County’s nature & marine life through a variety of presentations and tours.  Butterflies, birds, fish, turtles—come and learn about the beautiful creatures right in our own backyard.  Visit www.WetlandsInstitute.org/FMF for more info!

UPCOMING EVENTS:
  • Sea Isle City’s Fall Food Truck Festival, noonFridaySaturday & Sunday, September 9,10 & 11
  • South Jersey Surfcasters’ Fishing Tournament, 30th Street Beach, 5-7AM registration, Saturday, September 10
  • Stone Harbor Property Owners’ Association Fall Members’ Meeting, Harbor Square Theater, 9AMSaturday, September 10
  • Avalon Home & Land Owners’ Association Meeting, Christa Fitzsimmons will speak on Services for Seniors, Avalon Community Hall, 10AMSaturday, September 10
  • Avalon’s Chamber of Commerce End-of-Summer Shop Hop, Avalon Shopping District, Saturday & Sunday, September 10 & 11
  • Stone Harbor’s Go Green Fair featuring information on solar energy, re-purposed materials, electric cars, clean energy, natural products, more, 94th Street Parking Lot, 11AM-2PM, Saturday, September 10
  • Night Walk at the Cape May County Zoo, after hours tour of the zoo, 6:30-8:30PMSaturday, September 10
  • Avalon History Center Author Lecture featuring Robert Rawlins, author of ‘Tunes of the Twenties,’ 7PMSaturday, September 10
  • Big Band Dance featuring Tony DeLuca & the Paisans, Avalon Community Hall, 7PMSaturday, September 10
  • Stone Harbor’s 9/11 Remembrance Ceremony, Freedom Park at 96th Street & Seng Place, 11AM-1PMSunday, September 11
  • Cape May Lighthouse Full Moon Climb, call 609-884-5404 for info, Friday, September 16
  • 21st Annual Nun’s Beach Surf Contest, 111th Street Beach, 7AMSaturday, September 17
  • Wetlands Institute Fall Migration Festival, guided viewing of migratory birds, demonstrations, live animal presentations, more, 9:30AM-4:30PMSaturday &Sunday, September 17 & 18
  • Creative Writing Seminar at the Avalon Public Library, register by calling 609-967-715510AM-NoonSaturday, September 17
  • International Red Panda Day at the Cape May County Zoo, red panda related programs, activities & zookeeper talks, 10AM-3PMSaturday, September 17
  • Stone Harbor’s Savor September 5th Annual Food, Wine & Beer Festival, crafts, kids’ activities, music, more, 96th Street Shopping District, Noon-8PM,Saturday, September 24
  • Avalon Performing Arts Council Cabaret Night featuring Billy Joel Tribute & Marino Dance Band, Avalon Community Hall, doors open at 6:30PM, show begins at 7:30PMSaturday, September 24
  • Avalon’s Chamber of Commerce Seafood Festival, music, crafts, kids’ activities, food tent, more, 30th Street Parking Lot & Community Hall in Avalon, 10AM-5PMSaturday & Sunday, October 8 & 9
  • Big Band Dance featuring John Clark’s Little Big Band, Avalon’s Community Hall, 7PMSaturday, October 8

Featured Property:
Check out this one-bedroom Avalon getaway—it’s in the beachblock with a fantastic price!
7929 Dune Drive Unit 102, Avalon, $279,990, ACTIVE MLS#: 170802














New Listings:

345 86th Street, Stone Harbor, $949,500, ACTIVE MLS#: 172042

234 110th Street, Stone Harbor, $1,100,000, ACTIVE MLS#: 172130

8307 Second Avenue, Stone Harbor, $1,695,000, ACTIVE MLS#: 172084

213 76th Street, Avalon, $2,195,000, ACTIVE MLS#: 172008

8523 Sunset Drive, Stone Harbor, $2,395,000, ACTIVE MLS#: 172146

551 Berkley Road, Stone Harbor, $3,295,000, ACTIVE MLS#: 172086

19 S Pelican Drive, Avalon, $3,795,000, ACTIVE MLS#: 172083

4838 Ocean Drive, Avalon, $5,395,000, ACTIVE MLS#: 172016


Properties Sold:

9410 Second Avenue #200, Stone Harbor, $375,000, SOLD MLS#: 170610

351 96th Street #413, Stone Harbor, $555,000, SOLD MLS#: 168116

14 Hallman Drive, Stone Harbor Manor, $605,000, SOLD MLS#: 171377

20 Seabreeze Lane, Avalon Manor, $835,000, SOLD MLS#: 170393

139 94th Street, Stone Harbor, $1,230,000, SOLD MLS#: 167772

261 83rd Street, Stone Harbor, $1,425,000, SOLD MLS#: 170711

11 S Pelican Drive, Avalon, $2,375,000, SOLD MLS#: 169696

170 104th Street, Stone Harbor, $2,575,000, SOLD MLS#: 165284

218 120th Street, Stone Harbor, $3,100,000, SOLD MLS#: 171048


Nancy M. Alexander Stone Harbor and Avalon NJ Real Estate

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Three Sanity-Saving Tips For Moving-In Day

No matter how intensely you prepare for moving day, you may still face problems if you overlook three sanity-defeating challenges. Can you and your partner really think clearly when swamped by distractions, exhaustion, and disorientation?

If the ramped-up activity of moving day represents less pressure than a typical day for you, you'll probably find your upcoming move-in day a breeze. Most people do not regularly handle logistics and problem solving on so many levels at once, and can become distracted, exhausted, and disoriented by moving day.



This deflated state sets the moving-day stage for putting your foot in your mouth, saying something you'll regret disclosing, and blowing a fuse over a minor problem. The issue here is that the whole new neighborhood is watching — either from the sidewalk or from behind curtains — so none of this image-marring behavior goes unnoticed.

Adopt these 3 Crucial Sanity-Saving Tips for living happily beyond moving day and you'll make settling into your new home a great success:

#1: Anticipate Distraction and Prepare to Think Ahead

Distraction is not a physical state, but a mental one. In a car, you can have both hands on the wheel, eyes on the road, cell etc off, and still be distracted while driving. The moving experience represents a huge mental distraction, so that what you say to new neighbors can get you off on the wrong foot in spite of your best intentions. With your head packed full of moving details and your brain in a state of exhaustion from moving out of your last home and preparing to set up your new home, you are not as in charge of your brain and your mouth as usual.

Acknowledge you'll be distracted and be prepared. Just as celebrities prepare responses for paparazzi, think about what you want to say before the day arrives. If a wildfire of neighborhood curiosity engulfs you, how will you respond to:"What did you pay for the house?" or "Why did you have to move?" When asked personal questions about family and your occupation, a light-handed, but respectful response in "love to tell you more later"-style may be a friendlier response than disjointed descriptions or "not now please" rebuffs. Make politeness your goal for the day even if neighbor behavior tests your resolve.

#2 Fight Exhaustion and Prepare for Energy Plus

The sustained physical and mental stress of moving out of the old home and into the new one, even if you have lots of help, will disrupt your routines. Fast-food and junk food may seem like an easy fix, but your exhausted moving team (including you) needs more substance to be continually refreshed and recharged during the moving process. Expect this and stock up on nutritional supplements, healthy quick foods, bottled water, non-sugar drinks, and fruit, and encourage catnaps whenever feasible. Avoid sugar, caffeine, and alcohol until after the last box is safely inside and the moving truck leaves. Resolve to crash after everything is done not during a crisis.

#3 Counteract Disorientation and Prepare for the Worst

In even the most cohesive enclaves, there are undercurrents of past grievances, real and imagined, so step carefully. You will not know what sentiments were left behind by the previous owners.
Many of the new introductions may not stick, so prepare to re-greet. There's no way you'll remember who everyone is and who all the kids belong to.
Don't expect to have time to search solutions on your phone&emdash;if you can find it! If you're new to the area, make a list of the phone number and address for the nearest hardware store (with key cutting), grocery store, medical clinic, pharmacy, bank/ATM, and gas station in case an emergency run is required.
Neighbors usually only want to help, but they can be drains on attention, energy, and good humor. Decide who is doing what during the move, so one partner isn't trapped entertaining neighbors while the other slaves in fuming silence.
If you have very private or expensive things that you don't want the entire neighborhood to see, box or bag these treasures them.
Decide which typical moving-in problems would be a big deal for you and prepare for the worst, so you'll achieve the best outcome possible.
Parking issues regarding the moving truck and helpers' cars represent another prepare-ahead detail.
Engage your real estate professional to ensure you'll receive the right keys and copies when you expect to. Also ask what happens if there is a closing delay and the keys are not available. Who will pay any costs of this delay including issues with the moving truck?
You may be on top of all the hundreds of details involved in moving your family, but a successful move hinges on preparing to head off these three sanity-defeating problems — distractions, exhaustion, and disorientation — before they "move in" on moving day.


Written by PJ Wade


Nancy M. Alexander Stone Harbor and Avalon NJ Real Estate

Monday, September 5, 2016

What Sellers Should Know About Pets and Showings

Buyers and their agents need to feel welcome to look at the property at their leisure without danger or distractions. So while you adore your sweet-tempered pit bull rescue, he could turn territorial, barking and growling at potential homebuyers. And it could cost you the opportunity to sell your home.




Think of buyers as guests and work to make them feel comfortable as they consider your home for purchase. If you have a protective dog or one that isn't well-trained, drop her off at doggie day care when you know your home is going to be shown. Or call a pet sitter on call who can take your pet for a long walk while your home is being shown.

If you must leave the dog at home, don't expect real estate professionals to handle your dog. They are not dog trainers and should not be expected to risk a dog bite to show your home to buyers. This is where crate-training can be a huge advantage. At least your dog is secured and more inclined to relax while your home is being shown.

What you should not do is leave your dog loose in the backyard. Not only does the buyer not have access to part of the property, but your dog could bark so much that the din drives the buyer out of the house. Also, don't leave your dog at the neighbor's. It's just as bad if the buyer believes a noisy dog lives next door.

Housecats can also repel buyers. Most homes aren't designed with a convenient place for the litter box, so cat owners do the best they can. Owners get used to the smells of catboxes and fishy foods, which could be offensive to buyers who don't have cats.

While buyers aren't afraid of being cat-attacked, cats can still be startling -- they appear silently without warning and they jump on furniture and counters. And if you've taught your cat to jump on your shoulders, you can imagine what could happen to an unsuspecting buyer.

Exotic pets can be showing-stoppers, too. Birds are gorgeous, but a puffed-up screeching cockatoo can be intimidating and dangerous. Imagine a buyer bringing small children who can't resist sticking their fingers in the cage and quickly get rewarded with a nasty bite from a very strong beak.

When you're selling a home, keep in mind that the first two weeks on the market are crucial. That's the time you want your home to be pristine and move-in ready. You don't want any noise, smells or stains that could put buyers off.


Sell your home faster and for more money by making your home as inviting and accessible as possible, so that buyers have no barriers to overcome. Accessibility to your home is just as important as price, condition and location.

Written by Blanche Evans



Nancy M. Alexander Stone Harbor and Avalon NJ Real Estate