Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Top Home Décor Materials of 2018: A Look at This Year’s Trends

By Mike Wojtas
We’ve reached 2018’s halfway point, and that means the year's top fabrics, metallics and woods for home furnishings are coming into focus. What makes current trends so exciting is the sheer variety of materials that have grown in popularity. Whether you prioritize function, comfort or luxury, you’ll likely discover a new favorite material to experiment with (as well as some helpful hints on how to style it). So, if you’re trying to rethink an entire room, pick out your dream sofa or simply upgrade your décor, look to the latest material trends for some inspiration:
Lounge in Luxury
Shopping around for sofas? Remember one word: Velvet. Luxe and elevated, this material couldn’t be more fashionable for sofas. Appearance and texture are a major part of its appeal, but it’s the superior softness of velvet that’s especially well-suited to lounge seating.
Aside from the expected range of neutral hues, you’ll start finding velvet in rich blues, and playful pops of mustard yellow and blush pink. In addition to bold colors, eye-catching curved frames are also being paired with this exquisitely soft material.
Act Naturally
While velvet is fast on its way to becoming a new living room staple, natural fibers like rattan and raffia are trending choices for both indoor and outdoor seating. Of course, these natural woven materials aren’t new themselves. What is new, however, is the way they’re being incorporated into contemporary designs. Rattan weaves seem to be showing up everywhere, from armchairs with effortlessly cool mid-century profiles to sofas with bold, modern frames.
You can also go organic on a more limited scale by getting familiar with rattan kitchen accessories, as well as storage pieces big and small.
Concrete Chic
This year, concrete has also been making its mark on patios, decks and outdoor living spaces. Its durability and simple beauty make it an obvious choice for outdoor furniture, from tables and stools to planters and fire pits.
Couple these concrete accents and smaller furniture pieces alongside a woven sofa or chair for a striking blend of organic and modern. Want to take this tried-and-true material in a fresh direction? Bring it indoors. Lamps with concrete bases and end tables with concrete tops will lend a bit of industrial chic to living rooms, family rooms and bedrooms.
Mix in Metallics
For 2018, brass is shaping up to be the new go-to metallic. Subtler than gold or silver, brass is versatile while still retaining a hint of glam. A brass pendant light with vintage-influenced styling will undoubtedly dazzle, but this metallic is so easy to coordinate, you’ll also see it in more unlikely places (think a sofa lofted on brass legs, or desks that mix brass with wood).
Marvel at Marble
When it comes to tiling, terrazzo and marble are on-trend and always stunning. But let’s be honest—re-tiling a space is a major commitment. If you’re not ready to take this kind of chance on a material that’s new to you, get to know it via accent furniture (a white marble tabletop with a black base sets up a basic yet breathtaking contrast).
Also try playing with patterns inspired by the look of the real thing. Expect to spot plenty of rugs and blankets with prints that mimic the look of marbled materials. Go a step further by utilizing patterns in unexpected ways, such as creating a statement ceiling with lively wallpaper featuring a terrazzo motif.
Make It Personal
Concerned that a trend might not be here to stay? While that’s always a real possibility, it doesn’t mean that an of-the-moment look can’t provide your home with lasting value. If a particular material speaks to you, keep exploring it and see where it takes your personal style.

Nancy M. Alexander - Stone Harbor and Avalon NJ Real Estate

Monday, July 16, 2018

How to Ensure You’re Buying the Perfect Home

By Eliot Ward
For most people, buying a home is the biggest investment they'll make in their life. Not only is it a huge financial undertaking, but your final choice is a decision you’ll be living with for the foreseeable future. The process may sound daunting but, by taking the right steps, buying your perfect home doesn’t have to be stressful.
What is a Perfect Home?
The first step to ensuring you’re buying your ideal property is identifying what "perfect" means to you. It may sounds obvious, but the easiest way to start is by making a list of your priorities. What is a "must-have," what would be nice and what isn’t important? If you’re buying with a partner, make sure you compare lists and decide what can be compromised on and what will be the deal-breakers.
Experience is key here—we’ve all lived in places that on first-glance we thought were suitable, only to find out later that the kitchen we initially thought was cozy was actually far too small for our needs, or that the seemingly bright living room only gets direct sunlight for a few hours a day. Don’t be afraid to ask friends and relatives about their experiences either, as they may be aware of something you hadn’t thought of.
What Can You Really Afford?
Before scouring the market for your ideal property, you need to know what you can afford.  By getting pre-approved for a mortgage first, you'll know exactly how much you can borrow based on a professional assessment of your finances. Ultimately, this will make the whole process much easier. A trap that many buyers fall into is assuming that the maximum amount they can borrow is what they should spend on their new house. Look at what your monthly repayments would be and ensure that your budget factors in all ongoing maintenance costs, any fees you may incur from the buying process and any improvements you may want to make in the future.
Your budget should also allow you to put funds aside each month for emergency maintenance—if your heating system fails one winter, do you have the savings to fix it? Lastly, think about any potential changes to your income you may face in the next five to 10 years, how they could affect your ability to make payments and whether there are any safeguards you can put in place.
Choosing Your Professionals
Purchasing a home can be extremely difficult without assistance from industry professionals; having the right team can be the difference between a smooth buying process and a costly disaster. Hiring a real estate agent is not compulsory, but they'll provide numerous advantages. An experienced REALTOR® can find properties that you may otherwise miss, negotiate prices and recommend lenders. They’ll also be able to answer any questions you may have about a property, as well as any you may not have even thought to ask. When hiring an agent, compose a list of questions that you can use to check their credentials and make sure they'll have your best interests at heart.
When it comes to lenders, be aware of the different types of loans available to you and how they can impact your long-term finances—just because one lender is prepared to loan you more money doesn’t necessarily mean they’re your best option.
Location, Location, Location
It’s not uncommon for buyers to find their perfect home, only to discover too late that the area it's in is far from ideal. Take note of what you like about your current neighborhood and what you would change and bear this in mind when scoping out potential locations. Take the time to explore the two mile radius surrounding the property. Drive around in the daytime and at night—would you feel safe and comfortable walking around the neighborhood at these times? Test your commute between the property and your workplace during rush hour. Could you do it every day? You can even spend a Saturday afternoon politely knocking on a few doors and asking your potential neighbors how they feel about the area.
Finally, remember that just because certain aspects of the location won’t affect you, it doesn’t mean they won’t be important to someone else if you decide to sell the property in the future. Even if you don't have children, being in a good school district can add up to 20 percent to your house value.
Do Your Homework
Carrying out thorough research on a property and area before you buy can take time and money, but the benefits far outweigh the cost. Look at general property values in the local area and study how they have changed recently. What are similar homes in the neighborhood selling for? This will help you decide whether the asking price is fair and could indicate what may happen to the value of your property in the future.
A professional home inspection will cost a few hundred dollars but could end up saving you thousands in the long run. A home inspector’s report is impartial and is the only way to get a trustworthy third-party opinion. If they find any potential issues with the home, you can request the seller makes repairs on the property, or use it as a bargaining tool to lower the price (and cover any costs the repairs may cost you). It’s also worth having a map of the property—a survey of the land means you’ll know exactly what you own, which can resolve any possible border disputes should they arise.
Buying for Tomorrow
A perfect home isn’t just for now, it’s for the future and there are two ways to look at this. Firstly, it’s important to visualize whether you can see yourself living and growing there. Try and imagine yourself and your family in each room and whether it feels "right." You also need to look for the potential in the property if you decide to expand or refurbish parts of it. You might not be planning to do this anytime soon, but it’s important to know you’ll have the option later on.
The flip side to this is remembering that a dream home is something you build yourself. Don’t get put off  by superficial things like the color of the walls or the shade of the carpets. In the long run, these things can be changed relatively inexpensively. Not all houses are going to be in the best condition when you see them, but, with remodeling, you can add your own style and touch to a home and truly make it yours. Remember that houses are generally not perfect to begin with and there will always be things that could be different. If you’re flexible, it’s easier to move in and start creating your dream home!

Nancy M. Alexander - Stone Harbor and Avalon NJ Real Estate

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Avalon and Stone Harbor NJ Weekly Update July 12th, 2018 #RealEstate #NJ

OFFSHORE WIND POWER is being pursued again by the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities, which selected a firm to assist in the formation of an Offshore Wind Strategic Plan, after NJ Governor Murphy’s Executive Order setting a goal of producing 3,500 megawatts via offshore wind by 2030.  BPU will hold a public hearing near Trenton on July 19 regarding plans for producing the first 1,100 megawatts.

A large sport fishing vessel throttles up in the IntraCoastal Waterway behind Seven Mile Island.

NOR’EASTER NICK, of SNJ Today, will host the 1st Annual Hurricane & Severe Weather Seminar Wednesday, July 25th at 6:30pm, at the Stone Harbor Municipal Building.  Nor’Easter Nick provides weeknight television weather forecasts locally on channel 4’s South Jersey News broadcasts at 7pm and 11pm, and will be joined at the seminar by former CBS3 reporter Tom Lamaine, Joe Martucci of the AC Press, and several other weather experts.  The seminar is free, but registration is recommended:

TURTLE SURVEY:  The Wetlands Institute would like a few minutes of your help!  This brief survey about turtles crossing Stone Harbor Boulevard will take only a couple of moments, but the results will be used to reduce turtle fatalities on local roadways:  

SUMMER FLOUNDER are moving to deeper areas as the back bays continue to warm up.  Deeper holes which hold cooler water, plus the inlet areas are seeing large flounder caught.  Offshore tuna catches have been good, with more mahi mahi and white marlin moving into the area.  Want to try your luck?  Seek some advice from a local tackle shop, such as Avalon Hodge Podge or Moran’s Dockside in Avalon, or Smuggler’s Cove in Stone Harbor.  Any of the shops can tell you what’s hot (and what’s not), and they carry the best bait for the catch you’re seeking.

THE NATIONAL FLOOD INSURANCE PROGRAM, or NFIP, must be renewed by Congress by July 31st in order to continue issuing policies.  At issue is the fact that the NFIP operates in the red, even after $16 billion of debt was forgiven by Congress last year.  In the past,  Congress has authorized temporary extension of the program while debating long term solutions.  It’s important to note that in its fifty-year history the program has not lapsed, and even if it did, FEMA would still pay valid flood insurance claims.

TWIN CAPES PHOTOS:  The M/V Twin Capes, a Cape May-Lewes Ferry vessel intentionally sunk just a few weeks ago in order to form an artificial reef, can be seen in these photos:  Although the ferry can’t be seen in its entirety due to water conditions, it apparently sunk on its port side instead of its bottom.  The new reef is expected to provide a habitat for both bait fish and game fish for decades to come.

  • Avalon Free Public Library’s ‘Libraries Rock!’ Kid’s Reading Program, prizes every week, NOW through Friday, August 17
  • Children’s Mini Event, Bubble Trouble, Avalon Elementary School, 11AM-Noon, Thursday, July 12
  • Family Movie Night at the Stone Harbor Library featuring G-rated Coco, 5:30-7:30PM, Thursday, July 12
  • Avalon’s Thursdays on Dune Concert featuring 40 North, Veteran’s Plaza, activities beginning at 5:30PM, concert at 7PM, Thursday, July 12
  • Crabulous Crab Day, Wetlands Institute, 9:30AM-3PM, Friday, July 13
  • Sand Art Day, Avalon Community Hall, 10-11:30AM, Friday, July 13
  • 18th Annual Stone Harbor Triathlon, 9001 Sunset Drive, 7:30AM, Saturday, July 14
  • Avalon Flip Flop Walk, sponsored by,  boardwalk at 32nd Street & the beach, 8AM, Saturday, July 14
  • Big Band Dance featuring The Serenaders, Avalon Community Hall, 7PM, Saturday, July 14
  • Avalon Yacht Club ‘Run from the Sun’ 5K, Avalon Community Hall, 8AM, Sunday, July 15
  • Stone Harbor’s Farmer’s Market, 95th Street Water Tower Plaza, 8AM-12:30PM, Sunday, July 15
  • Stone Harbor Bird Sanctuary tour, meet at Egret Espy Trail at 114th Street & Second Avenue Entrance, 10AM, Sunday, July 15
  • Monday Funday summer reading program, activities for kids, Avalon History Center, 10AM, Monday, July 16
  • Children’s Mini Event:  Wild Wacky Challenge, Avalon Elementary School, 11AM, Tuesday, July 17
  • History of Avalon: 19th Century-1939, Avalon History Center, 6PM, Tuesday, July 17
  • Stone Harbor’s Tuesdays at the Tower Concert, Water Tower Plaza, 7-8:30PM, Tuesday, July 17
  • Avalon’s Beach Movie featuring Despicable Me 3, 30th Street & the Beach, dusk, Tuesday, July 17
  • Lego Club, Avalon Free Public Library, 10AM, Wednesday, July 18
  • An Evening with Best Selling Author Erik Larson, Avalon Free Public Library, 7PM, Wednesday, July 18
  • Children’s Mini Event: Yosi’s Friends Around the World, Avalon Elementary School, 11AM-Noon, Thursday, July 19
  • Thursdays on Dune Concert featuring Lima Bean Riot, Veteran’s Plaza, activities at 5:30PM, concert at 7PM, Thursday, July 19
  • Santa & Mrs. Claus vacation in Stone Harbor, town-wide event, Sunday, July 22-Saturday, 7/28
  • Avalon’s Christmas in July, Avalon Community Hall, 10AM-Noon, Tuesday, July 24
  • Boating Safety Class, 39th Street Tennis Building, 6:30-10PM, Tuesday, July 24

Featured Property:

Just steps away from beautiful beaches, this South-Avalon home awaits a lucky new owner!

205 68th Street, Avalon, $2,295,000, ACTIVE MLS#: 182671

New Listings:

7800 Dune Drive, Avalon, $285,500, ACTIVE MLS#: 182816

2778 Dune Drive, Avalon, $389,000, ACTIVE MLS#: 182793

1005 Dune Drive, Avalon, $1,199,000, ACTIVE MLS#: 182772

464 20th Street, Avalon, $1,249,000, ACTIVE MLS#: 182768

384 E. 40th Street, Avalon, $1,395,000, ACTIVE MLS#: 182794

384 W. 40th Street, Avalon, $1,395,000, ACTIVE MLS#: 182795

210 70th Street, Avalon, $1,849,000, ACTIVE MLS#: 182673

9803 Third Avenue, Stone Harbor, $2,250,000, ACTIVE MLS#: 182698

244 13th Street, Avalon, $2,399,000, ACTIVE MLS#: 182800

56 E. 12th Street, Avalon, $2,695,000, ACTIVE MLS#: 182824

226 108th Street, Stone Harbor, $2,750,000, ACTIVE MLS#: 182725

258 89th Street, Stone Harbor, $2,800,000, ACTIVE MLS#: 182721

5748 Dune Drive, Avalon, $2,895,000, ACTIVE MLS#: 182705

137 98th Street, Stone Harbor, $3,095,000, ACTIVE MLS#: 182706

4268 Dune Drive, Avalon, $3,795,000, ACTIVE MLS#: 182761

86 E. 23rd Street, Avalon, $4,499,000, ACTIVE MLS#: 182713

198 72nd Street, Avalon, $4,695,000, ACTIVE MLS#: 182722

11610 Second Ave, Stone Harbor, $4,699,000, ACTIVE MLS#: 182720

110 117th Street, Stone Harbor, $5,395,000, ACTIVE MLS#: 182783

4502 Fifth Avenue, Avalon, $5,750,000, ACTIVE MLS#: 182700

Properties Sold:
696 21st Street, Avalon, $642,500, SOLD MLS#: 180920

263 80th street, Avalon, $650,000, SOLD MLS#: 181318

801 Stone Harbor Blvd., Stone Harbor Manor, $745,000, SOLD MLS#: 179272

66 E. 20th Street, Avalon, $749,000, SOLD MLS#: 179905

148 18th Street, Avalon, $1,275,000, SOLD MLS#: 180906

138 18th Street, Avalon, $1,275,000, SOLD MLS#: 180905

11001 Second Avenue, Stone Harbor, $1,500,000, SOLD MLS#: 181469

262 64th Street, Avalon, $1,800,000, SOLD MLS#: 181022

65 E. 28th Street, Avalon, $1,895,000, SOLD MLS#: 181531

62 34th Street, Avalon, $2,150,000, SOLD MLS#: 178672

236 19th Street, Avalon, $2,225,000, SOLD MLS#: 181709

99 W. 23rd Street, Avalon, $2,235,000, SOLD MLS#: 182162

3107 Avalon Avenue, Avalon, $3,200,000, SOLD MLS#: 180242

10601 Golden Gate Drive, Stone Harbor, $4,400,000, SOLD MLS#: 181757

1 87th Street, Stone Harbor, $4,950,000, SOLD MLS#: 181015

312 114 Street, Stone Harbor, $5,850,000, SOLD MLS#: 181762

Nancy M. Alexander - Stone Harbor and Avalon NJ Real Estate

Friday, July 6, 2018

Top Security Tips for Your Investment Property

By Daniel Defendi
Looking after your tenants is key to a successful property investment strategy. If tenants don’t feel safe, they’re more likely to consider moving, which could cost you considerable time and money when it comes to covering rental losses.
Securing your property not only keeps existing tenants happy, but will also be an attractive selling point for future tenants should you need to release.
Adding security measures can increase the value of your property, protect it from vandalism and burglary and even contribute to lower insurance premiums. These factors can all benefit your long-term investment strategy. Here are some of the simple steps you can take to increase the security of your investment property:
Think Like a Burglar
Burglars are opportunists and will scan your house to see if it’s vulnerable. You can discourage crimes of opportunity by placing security devices and signs in highly visible locations. Obvious surveillance cameras or even quality false cameras can send a message to burglars that the house is protected. Many security products also come with stickers, which can be placed on vulnerable areas, such as windows, to deter potential break-ins.
Burglars will normally investigate a property first to see how many locks are on the doors and windows and if they are of a high quality. Making a burglar’s job harder will often discourage them, as they’re looking for properties which aren’t secure.
Tip: Consider installing a high quality digital lock. This will allow you to easily change the entrance code for new tenants, saving you money on changing locks and getting new keys cut.
Check Your Property
One of the biggest deterrents for a would-be burglar is the likelihood of being noticed. For that reason, houses which aren’t easily visible to neighbors can become targets. Bushes and uncleared yards will also give burglars the opportunity to hide and survey the property.
If the entrances to your property are hidden, you may need to think about taking additional steps to protect your property. Products such as motion-sensing lights can help to draw attention to darkened areas, while also providing a useful addition for your tenants.
Other security measures such as fences and cleared garden areas can make burglars’ lives harder, while also appealing to renters and improving the overall appearance of your property.
Consider Added Security Features
A security alarm system can also be a great choice for investors looking to protect their property. They’re easily noticed by burglars and will often deter them from attempting a break-in.
If a burglar does attempt to enter, the alarm will sound, alerting your tenants and their neighbors in the process. This arrangement can assist in helping your tenants feel safer whilst reducing the risk of damage to the property.
Having a security system can be an important and attractive feature for prospective tenants and some may even be willing to pay increased rent for the added peace of mind.
Taking measures to upgrade the security of your property can also help reduce the premiums on your insurance policies. Home alarm systems and other defined security purchases can sometimes be rewarded by insurance companies, as they lower the likelihood of a break-in and reduce the chance of potential insurance claims.
Get the Neighbors on Your Side
Neighbors can be another valuable safeguard when it comes to detecting unusual activity. Introducing yourself to neighbors can go a long way to protecting your property, as they are more likely to keep a look out.
If you set up security cameras outside your property, it’s also best to let the neighbors know. They’ll likely be happy to hear this, as it provides an added security measure for them and could even provide footage should one of their houses get broken into. However, if they're concerned about privacy, you can always consider installing fake cameras instead.
Remember to check with your investment property advisor before making any big changes to your property. They’ll be able to direct you on the best measures to ensure you get the greatest return on your investment.

Nancy M. Alexander - Stone Harbor and Avalon NJ Real Estate

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Avalon and Stone Harbor NJ Weekly Update July 3, 2018 #RealEstate

IT’S HOT!  After several hot & humid days in the 80s and several more in the forecast, summer weather is finally here!  Sea breezes have helped keep temperatures just a bit cooler than those on the mainland, and the ocean water temperature has been in the upper 70s, making it the perfect way to refresh on a hot day. 
IT FEELS LIKE SUMMER!  Both the real estate market and the Island are bustling with activity!  Island shops, restaurants and beaches are filled with visitors—with more expected during the holiday week. 

Happy 4th of July!  See below for the location & time of several area fireworks displays.

WISHING YOU a relaxing and fun-filled Independence Day!  Whether you’re on the beach, barbequing with family, or entertaining friends, best wishes to you & yours from me!
  • Avalon Free Public Library’s ‘Libraries Rock!’ Kid’s Reading Program, prizes every week, NOW through Friday, August 17
  • Children’s Mini Event: Fourth of July Fun, Avalon Elementary School, 11AM, Tuesday, July 3
  • Mummers & a Movie, 30th Street & the Beach, Mummers performance at 6PM, Movie ‘Wonder’ at dusk, Tuesday, July 3
  • Stone Harbor’s July 4th Field Day, 80th Street Recreation Field at 8100 Second Avenue, registration at 9AM for select activities & Home Run Derby, activities begin at 10AM, Wednesday, July 4
  • Avalon Boat Parade, High Tide, Wednesday, July 4
  • Beach Concert featuring Andrew Jude, 30th Street Beach, 1-3PM, Wednesday, July 4
  • Avalon Independence Day Celebration, 30th Street Parking lot, 6-8PM, Wednesday, July 4
  • Bay Atlantic Symphony Concert, Avalon Community Hall, 7PM, Wednesday, July 4
  • Avalon Fireworks off the 30th Street Beach, 8:45PM, Wednesday, July 4
  • Sea Isle City Fireworks, off the 50th Street beach, 9pm, Wednesday, July 4
  • Cape May Fireworks, off Congress Hall, 9pm, Wednesday, July 4
  • Wildwood Fireworks, Pine Avenue, 10pm, Wednesday, July 4
  • Children’s Mini Event: The Carrot Salesman Puppet Show, Avalon Elementary School, 11AM-Noon, Thursday, July 5
  • Avalon’s Thursdays on Dune Concert featuring Jonifin Marvin and The Philly Reggae Band, activities beginning at 5:30PM, Concert at 7PM, Veterans Plaza, Thursday, July 5
  • Cornhole Day, Avalon Community Hall, 10-11:30AM, Friday, July 6
  • CONTACT Cape-Atlantic 5 Mile Run, Avalon Community Hall, for info, 8AM, Saturday, July 7
  • Stone Harbor Fitness Challenge & 5K, Stone Harbor Recreation Field, 6:45AM registration, 8AM race with field challenge immediately following, Sunday, July 8
  • Stone Harbor’s Farmer’s Market, 95th Street Water Tower Plaza, 8AM-12:30PM, Sunday July 8
  • Stone Harbor Bird Sanctuary tour, meet at Egret Espy Trail at 114th Street & Second Avenue Entrance, 10AM, Sunday, July 8
  • Summer Reading Program: Monday Funday! activities for kids at the Avalon Free Public Library, 10AM, Monday, July 9
  • 55th Annual Stone Harbor Al Cunard Baby Parade, from the Wharf Parking Lot, along 96th Street to the Fire House, 5:30PM registration, 6PM parade start, Monday, July 9
  • Children’s Mini Event, Field Day, Avalon Elementary School, 11AM, Tuesday, July 10
  • Stone Harbor’s Tuesdays at the Tower Concert, Water Tower Plaza, 7-8:30PM, Tuesday, July 10
  • Avalon’s Beach Movie featuring Wonder Woman, 30th Street & the Beach, dusk, Tuesday, July 10
  • An Evening with Author Lisa Scottoline & her daughter, Avalon Free Public Library, 7PM, Wednesday, July 11
  • Children’s Mini Event, Bubble Trouble, Avalon Elementary School, 11AM-Noon, Thursday, July 12
  • Avalon’s Thursdays on Dune Concert featuring 40 North, Veteran’s Plaza, activities beginning at 5:30PM, concert at 7PM, Thursday, July 12

Nancy M. Alexander - Stone Harbor and Avalon NJ Real Estate

Is an Open House Necessary When Selling A Home?

When you go searching for a real estate agent, you are likely to hear a number of sales pitches speaking of the necessity and desirability of an open house. Many agents will speak of their enthusiasm for open houses and how they will do well for you with all the traffic they draw. What you may not realize, though, is that a real estate open house typically has far more benefits for your agent than for you. The question of course that is on the minds of many homeowners is does an open house sell homes? One thing is certain - statistics don't lie!
What may be a real shocker is the fact that less than two percent of all homes sold nationally are a direct result of a buyer visiting an open house unaccompanied by an agent. Real buyers are with real estate agents who schedule appointments. The people who come through your home on any given Sunday open house are not likely going to be the ones opening up their checkbook and handing over an escrow deposit!
So when people ask is an open house necessary when selling a home, the answer is clear, cut and dry - NO!
Problems with Open Houses
  • Wrong Kind of Traffic – One of the biggest issues with open houses is that real buyers rarely attend them. You may get a number of different people walking through and viewing your home, but legitimate buyers are usually rare. Your neighbors might come by to satisfy their curiosity and you may get people taking a walk-through to get ideas for their own renovations. You may even get a few people who dream of one day owning a home just like yours – only they do not currently have money to purchase something as expensive as yours.
  • The Unqualified Buyer - The likelihood you will get some buyers who are actually thinking about purchasing a home are pretty good. The problem however, is the vast majority of these people will not be qualified to pay your asking price. What is ironic is that most real estate agents will drive home the point about how important it is to qualify a buyer looking to purchase your home. This gets thrown out the window like the baby with the bath water when it comes to an open house.
  • Busy Work – Your REALTOR® wants to appear valuable to you and an open house is a great way to accomplish this. It is one of the few tasks a REALTOR® can engage in that is easily viewed by clients. You see all the work the REALTOR® puts into the open house and it makes you feel like you are getting your money’s worth.  In reality though, most of the work that goes into selling a home happens behind the scenes. Connecting with other REALTORS®, listing a property across a number of different marketing channels, and using social media all happen out of sight. Hence, clients don't always see everything they do.
  • Mainly for Your REALTOR® – All sorts of people will wander into your home, even if few of them are truly interested or capable of buying. This is not advantageous for you, but your REALTOR® knows how to utilize this traffic. It allows an agent to make connections or network – one of the most important components of growing a real estate business. The agent will meet your neighbors who may need to sell a home in the future. He or she will also meet those that don't qualify for a home as expensive as yours but who may be in the market for another home the agent happens to be selling. That home of course would be in their budget and not at the price point your home falls into. Your agent will also add another successful showing to his or her belt, and therefore be able to tell you, “I have shown your home X amount of times and drawn X amount of traffic.” Very few real estate agents are going to tell you that the real reason they are holding an open house is to get additional clients.
  • Security Issues - What many real estate agents fail to do is inform their clients about the drawbacks of an open house. Rarely are both the pro's and con's of an open housediscussed. It is usually just the potential benefits. Unfortunately an open house is the perfect invitation to invite unqualified strangers into your home. When you do this you are potentially opening yourself up to a whole set of issues you probably have not given much thought to. Numerous sellers have reported theft both during the open house as well as on a later date when thieves who have visited come back and take what they like. It's no surprise this happens as an open house invites anyone and everyone into the home. If the open house is busy, it is impossible for a real estate agent to watch everyone.
See Past the Curtain     
You certainly need a good agent to sell your home. A skilled REALTOR® can help you get a better price and move your home much more effectively than you can selling as a for sale by owner. However, do not be fooled by the illusion that an open house presents. Yes, some homes are sold through open houses, but the statistics are not encouraging. Far more homes are sold through hard work and the skill and talent of good REALTOR®.
If you still want to have an open house, by all means have one. But do not be fooled by claims from various real estate agents that having an open house is a “must” or that this or that agent is great because of them. Some agents are better at selling homes than others, but no one that is good will pretend that an open house should be a main priority. Very few top producing real estate agents hang out in someone’s home waiting for a buyer to show up.
The bottom line despite what some agents may tell you is this - a buyer who really wants to see your home will always schedule an appointment to see it. If you were in the market to purchase a home and saw something you really wanted to look at, would you be saying to yourself "If they don't have an open house I'm not interested,"? Of course not! Sounds pretty absurd when you think about it.
Like the popular old movie "The Wizard of Oz," make sure you know who is behind the curtain when selecting a REALTOR® to work with. The easiest way to do this is by asking good REALTOR® interview questions. When you do so, you will be more apt to find a true real estate wizard and not someone who will disappoint you.

Nancy M. Alexander - Stone Harbor and Avalon NJ Real Estate

Monday, July 2, 2018

Paint Color Can Get You a Higher Sale Price, Zillow Reports

It can be difficult to decide what to update and remodel if you're thinking of selling. While kitchens and bathrooms have typically been prioritized for their return on investment, the style in which you revamp your home can have a huge effect on its salability. One factor you may not have considered can have more of an impact than you think, and that's paint color.
Which paint colors will get you the most bang for your buck? Zillow's 2018 Paint Color Analysis examined over 135,000 photos from homes sold across the U.S. to see how sales prices compared for homes with colored walls versus homes with white walls. The results varied depending on room type.
Homes that feature charcoal gray or black doors typically sell for $6,271 more than expected. Low on the list for exterior paint colors? Yellow. Homes in this color reportedly sell for $3,408 less than expected.
Houses with kitchens that have a different color for the upper and lower cabinets, known as tuxedo cabinets, sell at a $1,547 premium. The most popular color combination? Dark, navy blue or black kitchen islands with white cabinets. In dining rooms, however, homes that feature oat brown to medium sandy brown walls, and with yellow undertones, typically sell for $1,684 less than expected.
As for bathrooms...light blue or periwinkle blue paint, specifically with a gray-blue tint, increases the average selling price of a home by $2,786.
However, don't discount neutral colors, especially if you're accentuating them with dark pops of color. Zillow found that homes with light taupe living rooms, particularly with tan, peach or pink undertones, sell for $2,793 more than expected, while homes with more boisterous colors, like raspberry red in a kitchen, typically sell for $2,310 less than expected.
"For a seller, painting a front door is one the least expensive home prep projects, but also one that can have a powerful impact on a home's sale price," says Kerrie Kelly, Zillow home design expert. "While cool, neutral wall colors like tan and light blue are still popular, we're seeing a notable shift in home design where pops of color—particularly in darker hues of blue and gray to even black—are becoming increasingly popular. Contrasting colors, especially in kitchens and home exteriors, add interest and dimension to a room that plays very well in listing photos and videos."
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Nancy M. Alexander - Stone Harbor and Avalon NJ Real Estate

Saturday, June 30, 2018

Real Estate Insights: What You Need to Know About Buying a Second Home

By Joy Bender
What better way to invest your money than snatching up your dream vacation home? If you think you're ready to purchase a second home, don't rush into it. Read this guide to ensure it's one of the best decisions you'll ever make in your life.
Buying a second home is one of those treasured rites of passage, like getting married or buying a car. It's a sign that you're doing well and can afford to reward yourself. Now can be a good time to take the plunge, as mortgage rates are still at an impressive low.
Here's everything you need to know before you call a REALTOR® and jump into the process:

Reasons to Buy a Second Home

First, let's talk about why you should buy a second house. Why? Because it tells you something about what priorities you need to have in order.
  • You Can Afford It
The first big one, for most people, is a question of finances. Most buyers of second homes are in their 40s and 50s, when their children may begin leaving the house. You're no longer tied to one place because of school, and since your kids are out of the house, you may be looking to establish traditions.
This is also the point in your life when you tend to be earning more, which grants you the freedom to look into a second property.
  • Long-Term Appreciation
As investments go, real estate can be a highly rewarding option. Of course, there are still risks involved with real estate, so you have to do it right. For example, investing in property in an up-and-coming town can improve your property value over time—good news for the savvy investor.
  • Comfortable Retirement
Given that most people looking into a second home are in their 40s and 50s, you're likely considering what retirement will look like. A second property is a great way to plan for the future.
Let's say you've always wanted to retire to the sunny beaches of California. When you're looking at another property, why not tailor your search with retirement in mind? That way, once you retire, you'll already have the property—and it'll have years to grow in value in the meantime.
  • Tax Benefits
Finally, we can't talk about another house without talking about the tax benefits involved. Good news for you: the IRS allows you to write off the property taxes on your second residence. This applies whether it's an investment property, a rental property, or solely for your own use.
Tax advantages don't end with property taxes, though. You can also deduct interest, insurance and depreciation against the home's value. For more, take a look at this tax guide for rental property owners.

Primary Residence vs. Second Home

Before you buy, you should be aware of a few key differences between your primary and secondary home. For one thing, it's a matter of priorities. When you chose your first home, you chose somewhere you could live day to day, so it had to meet a few key criteria, like the quality of the school system.
When you purchase your next residence, you're going to be more concerned with whether it has everything you need to enjoy yourself while on vacation. There are a few key differences between a primary and secondary residence that aren't just about the beach. Your mortgage and interest rates will change based on which home is your primary residence and which is your secondary.
In order for a home to be considered your primary, it must meet the following criteria: You must live there the majority of the year; it must be conveniently located near your job; and you need documentation to prove residence, like voter registration.
A secondary home has to meet the following criteria: It must be exclusively under your control; you must live there for some part of the year; it must be accessible by car year-round; and it must be a reasonable distance from your primary residence.
When we say "exclusively under your control," that means that the home cannot be subject to a rental agreement, timeshare or similar arrangement. You can rent the property out to others, but if you're renting it yourself, it doesn't qualify as a second residence.

Second Home vs. Investment Property

Then, there's the difference between a second home and an investment property. To put it simply, an investment property is a property purchased with the intent of earning a return on rental income, future resale or both.
While you can rent a second house, it's legally different from an investment property, which means it's subject to different loans and mortgages. Specifically, an investment property is purchased for the exclusive purpose of renting to tenants, not for your use as a vacation home.
A home qualifies as an investment property if you can prove the property is occupied by a tenant. This is usually done with a lease agreement; however, if the tenant has the ability to purchase the property from you, this must be secondary to the mortgage. And if your tenants are paying month-to-month rent, you'll also need to provide a letter to that effect.

Dos and Don'ts of Buying a Second Home

Now that you know your way around the basics, let's talk about a few dos and don'ts of buying a second home. Remember, you're not buying a house with the intention of moving there full-time; because of this, your priorities will be different.
  • Do Evaluate Long-Term Goals
The first question to ask yourself is what your goal is with the second property. Do you want to be able to go there for summer vacation every year? Do you want to rent it out full-time and retire there in 20 years? This will change where you purchase a house.
You also need to consider what your long-term needs will be. If your children will grow out of your current favorite vacation spot (or if your current favorite spot isn't super accessible), that may throw a wrench in your long-term planning.
  • Do Get to Know the Area
As with your primary residence, it's important to know the area. The difference is what you're evaluating the area for.
Let's say you've picked out a San Diego neighborhood. Thing is, you're not checking out the school system or the aspects related to permanent residence. And if you're choosing a place in your favorite vacation spot, chances are you haven't noticed some of the less obvious things that only show up when you live there—things like local politics, crime rates and property taxes.
The best way to get familiar with the area? Start chatting with people who live there. And not just about crime and politics either—ask about what there is to do year-round. If you plan to retire here but only like one event a year, you're going to be bored.
  • Do Get a Local Real Estate Agent
Let's be honest: Even if you've vacationed in an area, you just don't know it like a local. If you're looking to buy a home in the area as a non-local, you need a local real estate agent to point you in the right direction. There's also the fact that real estate is a highly-localized business. To get the best deal on a property, you need a real estate agent who knows the neighborhood like the back of their hand.
  • Do Know What Type of Home You Want/Need
Sure, there's appeal in a single-family house, but if you're not living there full-time, do you really need it? Think about it: If you purchase a second property, you need to maintain it. If it's a house, that means a lawn, heating and air conditioning, pipes and other tasks.
Also, if you're not living there for nine months of the year, that means you're either trekking out to the property once a week just to clean it, or you're paying someone else to clean it for you.
A condo, on the other hand, requires far less maintenance, and it's easy enough to delegate tasks to someone as needed. If you plan on retiring to your second residence, you'll also need to consider how your own needs and abilities may change as time wears on. You may not be able to maintain a house on your own, or may need a house with better accessibility.
  • Don't Impulse Buy
Above all else, do not impulse buy. There's any number of reasons for this: finances, for example, or not taking a long enough look at the area. The next thing you know, you're stuck paying a second mortgage on a house that isn't really the right fit for you.
When you buy, you should be in the right mindset to take a long, hard look at your finances and how much house you can afford. A second-home affordability calculator is a great tool to use in this situation. Similarly, you need to seriously consider what you and your family need from a second residence.

A Few Things to Know

Before you sign on the dotted line, pack up for San Diego, and break out your favorite moving tips, there are a few more things to keep in mind. Since this is your second residence, your mortgage situation will look a little different. There are also additional considerations since you won't be spending 365 days a year in the new house. The big thing to think about is what will happen to the house while you're not there. Will you rent it? Even if you don't, you have to think about upkeep when you're not there to dust and wash the windows in person.
  • Second-Home Mortgage
Unless you have enough cash on hand to pay for your second home out of pocket, you're going to have to get a second mortgage. Here's the thing: depending on who you ask, your house payments (including your mortgage, taxes, etc.) shouldn't cost more than 35-45 percent of your pre-tax income. If you're looking at a conservative estimate, it shouldn't be more than 25 percent of your take-home income.
Regardless of how conservative you want to be with your money, the ratio is consistent regardless of how many properties you own. There's also the fact that second mortgages are generally viewed as a higher risk.
The best approach is to talk to several lenders about your options and keep in mind that there may be a significant disparity between how much you're comfortable paying each month and how big of a loan you can qualify for.
  • Rental Strategy
If you're like most second-homebuyers, you're looking to earn a rental income through your second property. If this is the case, you need to figure out your rental strategy early on.
The easiest way to do this is to figure out what you'd like to earn in rental income from the property each month, and then take a look at rental prices in the area to see what you can reasonably charge for your property.
At a minimum, your rental income should equal the amount you have to spend on the mortgage and other expenses. If you can't meet that cost, then consider purchasing a cheaper house.
  • Taxes
As the old adage goes, only two things are certain: death and taxes. Fortunately, there are a few tax breaks on second residences to make your life a little easier, such as the ability to write off property taxes on your second home.
There are a number of deductions and tax credits you may receive on your first home that won't apply to your second. Rules about property tax deductions on second homes also vary based on what state you live in and how often you use the second residence for personal purposes.
If you're planning on infrequent renting, good news: If you rent out a property for less than two weeks of the year, the income is tax-free. If you rent it out longer, you'll need to declare the income and pay taxes on it.
The best approach here is to talk to a tax professional. They can walk you through the details of the tax code and let you know how your second residence will affect your tax situation.
  • Extra Expenses
Finally, you can't purchase a second home without considering the extra expenses associated with it. What other extra expenses? Think about all the extra money you spend on your house throughout the year: redecorating, renovation, but also basic maintenance and upkeep. There's also homeowner's association dues if it's somewhere with an association, and possibly a second insurance policy.
When you take a good look at your finances, be realistic about how much you can afford to pay for these additional expenses. Otherwise, you may still be losing money on your second home.

Nancy M. Alexander - Stone Harbor and Avalon NJ Real Estate