Keeping Current Matters

National Association of Realtors

Friday, December 30, 2016

Adding An Outdoor Fireplace: What To Choose And What You'll Spend

Depending on where you live, outdoor living could be a year-round reality. Or, maybe once December hits, the backyard is generally off-limits until the first signs of spring. But, no matter what your address, an outdoor fireplace can bring added enjoyment to your home, extend the usability of your outdoor space, and maybe add some value to at the same time.
One of the benefits to outdoor fireplaces is "their ability to add extra square footage to your living space by becoming an extension of your home's interior," said TMS Architects. "To enhance this effect, continue the style and color scheme you have used in your home and provide ample comfortable seating."

The cost of your outdoor fireplace will vary widely depending on what you choose. The first consideration is whether you want something prefabricated, which will start at a much lower cost and not require construction, or prefer to go custom. According to, a professionally installed outdoor fireplace can run a good $20,000, but expect the cost to climb even higher depending on the scale and materials.
You can cut costs dramatically by going prefab. "If you decide to opt for a prefabricated or modular fireplace purchased from a specialty retailer or home improvement store, your wallet will take a significantly smaller hit - more in the $1,000 to $10,000 range," said HGTV. "The size and materials will go a long way to determining the cost. Whatever you invest, the returns are likely to be hefty in terms of cozy and comfortable quality time spent with friends and family."
Here are a few ideas to "fire" you up.

Pre-fabricated options
For those who want the fire without a big price or space commitment, this Grandview 24-inch Propane Gas Outdoor Fireplace from Home Depot is a great choice. The freestanding unit gives off great warmth and provides a warm appearance for just $250.

Home Depot

The Jasper Steel and Faux Stack Stone Outdoor Fireplace gives more of a custom look without the custom price, and at 72 inches, is a substantial piece that can set the foundation for a gracious outdoor space. The cost: $1,398.

Home Depot

On the high end, there's this 78-inch Brown Natural Stone Propane Gas Outdoor Fireplace. It looks custom, provides an adjustable heat level, and requires no construction. But, you'll pay for the privilege of owning a large piece with this level of detail. The cost: $4,557.

Home Depot

Custom fireplaces
If you're not limited to where you can locate your fireplace because you've got the space, and you want to make it part of a focal point (while also showcasing some beautiful landscaping, as in this example), creating an outdoor entertainment area with the fireplace in the center is a great way to go. Here, the fireplace anchors the patio without detracting from the views, and also provides some additional seating.


Getting maximum usage out of your outdoor fireplace typically means a couple of things: ample seating, and coverage from the elements. Add in a TV and an outdoor kitchen, and you never have to stay inside again!


Really want to do something different? How about a fireplace that butts right up to your pool, so you can enjoy the warmth while lounging or swimming laps.

Fresh Patio

While many outdoor fireplaces tend to have a more traditional or rustic look, creating a sleek look in line with a more modern aesthetic is easy to achieve.

Fresh Patio

Written by Jaymi Naciri
Nancy M. Alexander - Stone Harbor and Avalon NJ Real Estate

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Seven 2017 Home Trends You're Going To Want Now

We know what you're thinking: New year, new style. But if you're getting ready to make some updates to your home or incorporate some stylish new pieces, how do you know which way to go? Trend forecasters have been hitting the interior design, furniture, and furnishings shows, and we've got our edit of the hot, upcoming looks right here.

Get colorful
Could gray be on its way out? The go-to color for walls and more walls and also kitchens and flooring and furnishings and everything else for several years running may have hit its peak. Paint companies like Sherwin-Williams have a few gray hues in their 2017 Color Forecast, mixed among bold jewel tones, global shades, and confident pastels. Industry insiders are embracing the rich colors, especially when juxtaposed against white.
"Color, color, color. Those boring grays are on their way out," said Gates Interior Design. Instead, they're seeing "fresh whites with pops of color...along with rich colors for walls." Their top five colors are: Navy, pink, coral, teal, and emerald green.

Elle Decor

Rose gold
Now that we've cycled through most of the other metal options in the past few years, it's rose gold's turn. "One of the biggest fashion trends over the past year or so has been rose gold," said PURSUITIST. "The pinky hue has become popular not just in jewelry and watches but also in clothing, shoes, and beauty products. It's even been spotted on phones and sunglasses."
And what happens in fashion often comes to interiors, which we're seeing in everything from fixtures to lighting to textiles. "No offense to silver, yellow gold, and brass, but there's just something special about rose gold—a warmth and uniqueness you don't get with other metallic," said Glamour. "Bring instant luster to a boring kitchen with industrial bar chairs in a high-gloss finish."


Donnbracht has released a new line of luxury bath and kitchen faucets called Cyprum that features a rose gold finish.


You can even DIY the finish on "surfaces including metal, ceramic, wood, and glass" with rose gold spray paint.

Furry accents
Texture is a great way to add layered interest to a space, and you can expect this trend to take your look next-level. "It's official: Furniture with fur accents will be huge in 2017. We've noticed sheepskin and Mongolian fur chairs in the latest fall collections, said MY DOMAINE. "Faux-fur chairs saw the most dramatic increase in searches this year, with a 487% uplift. Our word of warning? Tread carefully when trying this trend at home. Invest in one statement piece to take center stage in your apartment, and look for quality materials."


Industrial décor
"Industrial décor is here to stay," said MY DOMAINE, so why not use it in a standout way, like on these gorgeous bathroom lights.


The faux look
Love the look of marble countertops but don't want the upkeep? There's great news x two: Quartz materials are more realistic than ever, allowing you to get the appearance of marble with a practically indestructible finish, and faux looks are in.
"Luxury homeowners are warming to fake marble, faux barn wood and other imitators, which are often less expensive and easier to install than the real deal," said the Wall Street Journal.
According to designer Nicole Gibbons, "clients love the timeless look of Carrara marble, but may not be able to maintain the countertops, which can't get acidic foods on them, in their own homes," said Elle Décor. "People aren't coming to me and saying, 'I want fake marble,'" Gibbons says. "They're saying, 'I really like the look of marble, but it's too high maintenance,' or, 'I cook too much for that to be able to hold up. What do you recommend as an alternative?'"

Elle Decor

Black and white stripes
It's a new graphic pattern to obsess over, and in a classic color combination that plays well with practically everything! "After years of chevron, we're eager for stripes to make a comeback - especially if they're simple and black-and-white," said Elle Décor. The look is part of their article on, "13 Scandinavian Trends About To Take The States By Storm," so get ready to spend a lot of time at IKEA.

Elle Decor

Cork walls
Goodbye, reclaimed wood, hello cork. "Sustainability and practicality are popping up in home decor all over the place," said BRIT + CO. "Cork walls are not only a visually compelling choice, but they're awesome when it comes to blocking out sound and posting to-dos on the go."


Written by Jaymi Naciri

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

Saturday, December 24, 2016

An Easy Guide for Year-End Financial Planning

Today's News and Features

With your eyes on the new year, it can be easy to make fresh resolutions and forget to pay mind to your spending habits from the year past. Considering that an estimated one in three Americans will make a New Year’s resolution related to their finances, it's important to do a little end-of-year financial planning. Below are 5 tips offered by Fifth Third Bancorp.

1. Reduce taxable income 

In order to offset taxable income, the most important strategy for investors to consider is tax-loss selling and taking advantage of underwater securities.

“Selling stocks, bonds or mutual funds that have lost value should be a priority this time of year,” says Jeff Korzenik, chief investment strategist for Fifth Third. “When done in conjunction with rebalancing a portfolio, investors can minimize the tax consequences and impact.”

Additionally, Korzenik suggests taking interest rates into account throughout the planning process. Gradual interest rate increases are being monitored for next year, which are typically associated with the latter half of an economic expansion. With this in mind, investors should expect lower returns from the bonds portion of a portfolio and be more selective in their equity investments as they plan for next year.

2. Maximize investment opportunities

To wrap up 2016, Melissa Register, senior wealth planner for Fifth Third Private Bank, recommends being selective in investment decisions. By working with a wealth management advisor, you can ensure that your allocation aligns with your goals and time horizon for both your taxable and tax-deferred accounts. From this checkpoint, you can identify necessary adjustments.

“Investors can plan ahead by rebalancing portfolios and diversifying their investments before the close of the year,” said Register. “There are significant growth opportunities for 2017 in alternative investments and selective international exposure.”

3. Plan for charitable giving during the holidays 

When it comes to charitable giving, Glen Johnson, managing director of Mirador Family Wealth Advisors, suggests engaging family members in the decision-making process.

“More than half of charitable giving is done in one month of the entire year: December,” said Johnson. “Holiday gatherings are an opportune time for families to set joint year-end goals and develop a strategy for allocating philanthropic donations in 2017.”

Johnson also suggests using assets that have appreciated in value as gifts for charitable donations to avoid capital gains. “People often don’t think about real estate, collectibles or art as potential gifts, which could ultimately fund a new program or service for a charity,” said Johnson.


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

Friday, December 23, 2016

The Moving-Day Survival Kit Lifesaving Items and Niceties

Gather these must-haves in advance for a smooth move and more comfortable first days in your new home.

The day I moved into my very first house did not go smoothly. I had to drive from Boston to Atlanta, and I had tarried too long with friends in Virginia along the way, not realizing that every RV in the Southeast combined with seemingly endless construction between Roanoke and Charlotte would create Phish-concert-caliber traffic.

I spent moving-day eve somewhere outside of Greenville, South Carolina. After a restless night of worrying about all of my most important worldly possessions being stolen from my car at the roadside motel, I got up the next day and with bleary eyes beat the movers to my house by about 15 minutes, still wearing the same clothes as the day before. Ugh.

Thank God for my sister-in-law, who also happened to be my real estate agent. My sale was her first, and she set the bar very high. When I got to the house, there was a very practical plastic bucket full of lifesaving items for me. Every person moving into a house should have one of these. If your Realtor pales in comparison to my sister-in-law, put one together for yourself and keep it close for moving day.

It's all yours! Move-in day will wipe you out, and you'll likely be unpacking boxes for days, but this is a happy week. Make sure it stays happy with a few items that will get you through it. Also, make sure you wear shoes with good support the whole time; for some reason I unpacked shoeless for days, and it was a really bad idea.

What to Put in Your Moving-Day Kit:
At least a few rolls of toilet paper. This is the number-one most important thing to include, and you will never convince me otherwise.

PRIMO Standing Toilet Paper Holder by Blomus

Aspirin and all of your medications. This is the second-most important thing to include. I've never been so happy to see a little packet of aspirin as I was when I unearthed it at the bottom of my move-in bucket. It was a lifesaver. If you have antianxiety medication, moving day is a really good day to take some.
Of course, you will want all of your medications, important documents, laptop, jewelry and anything else that's very important or of great value somewhere that you're keeping track of and not with the movers.

Jonathan Adler Uppers in Vices

OK, you've taken care of t.p. and your aches and pains; how important the rest of these items are is more subjective. I'd love to know what you think is the number-one thing, so be sure to voice your opinion in the Comments section later.
Toilet plunger. If you have only one bathroom, this is very important. The more bathrooms you have, the less crucial a plunger is for move-in day.

Stainless Steel Plunger With Holder

Cash. You should tip your movers, unless they call you "baby girl" or "princess" throughout the entire move, and talk on the phone in the cab of the loudly running semi truck all day while charging by the hour. Actually, I think I wound up tipping that guy too, because he knew where I lived.

SmartFlex Card for iPhone 4S/4

Leatherman knife. While having the whole toolbox handy would be great, there are only so many things you can fit into the move-in-day survival kit, and a Leatherman or Swiss Army knife will fit in a pocket.
It's great for opening boxes, putting little pieces of furniture together and, most important, opening that bottle of wine you're saving for when the movers leave. If you don't think you'll be organized enough to have a Leatherman handy, make sure you have a box cutter and a box of wine.

Leatherman New Wave Multitool With Leather/Nylon Combination Sheath

Trash bags. You're going to want the big, sturdy yard trash bags as well as the clear recycling bags.
For those of you who still manage to be on the ball during moving chaos, look up what is recyclable locally before your trip so you can be sure to recycle all of your packing materials, or coordinate with someone else who is about to move to come pick up your boxes, Bubble Wrap and tissue paper when you're done.

Flings Pop-Up Trash Bin, Gingham

Power strip and mobile phone charger. The power strip will come in handy because you'll probably clear one little area to keep chaos at bay and wind up plugging in a lot of various things, like lamps, a laptop, your iPod dock and more.

Cable Management

Toothpaste and a toothbrush. Actually, expand this. You should pack a weekend overnight bag and Dopp kit for yourself, including soap, shampoo, deodorant, a razor and anything else you'd need for two to three days away.

Keep Calm & Cute Kids Bathroom

All-purpose cleaner, Clorox wipes and a roll of paper towels. Hopefully, move-in day will not be a big cleaning day. Good sellers will have your home thoroughly scoured for you before then, but you'll want to be prepared if they are bad sellers. (Don't let it come to this, though; if you're moving from out of town, have your Realtor scope it out and help you find some cleaning help before the moving truck ever pulls up.)
No matter what, you'll want to give the toilet a cleaning, and some of your furniture may be dusty and have a cobweb or two as it comes off the truck. An all-purpose cleaner and paper towels should be enough to tide you over.

Lemon Verbena All Purpose Cleaner

Bottled water and granola bars. You're not going to remember to eat until you are very hungry. Have some immediate snacks around for sustenance until you can get a meal together, and by "together," I mean "delivered."
Ideally you would have paper plates and plastic utensils at the ready, but you can make do with what comes with the food, your Leatherman knife and that roll of paper towels I already told you to bring.

Galvanized Metal 6-Pack Bottle Caddy

Local restaurant menus and phone numbers. Do some Yelping around and figure out what restaurants deliver or find a good local delivery service, because you are going to feel filthy and exhausted by the time you get around to foraging for food.


Bandages. While a complete first aid kit is great for overachievers, soap, water, paper towels and a box of bandages should take care of any move-in mishaps. If not, you should probably head to Urgent Care anyway. Also remember that a handful of cars come with first aid kits weirdly hidden in the backseat armrest. I just remembered for the first time in eight years that mine has one.

Metal First Aid Kit, Small

Notepad and pen. Moving day is a time when many to-do lists are made, new numbers are learned and names of neighbors who have stopped by and introduced themselves are furiously scribbled down before they fly out of your head. I realize that many tech-savvy folks and young whippersnappers do all of this on their phones, but I believe in the usefulness of pen and paper.

Postalco Notebooks

Something to freshen the air. Whether you prefer a Glade plug-in, a bottle of Febreze or a fancy candle, even the cleanest house in the world will smell a little musty when it's been closed up for awhile. Get your own favorite scent wafting through the air.

Scented Candle, Fresh Cut Grass

Flashlight. This will come in handy at night as well as for checking out your new crawl space or any other dark corners. Speaking of light, be sure to pack a few extra batteries, a few lightbulbs and a nightlight that will help guide you to the bathroom in this foreign place.

Jonas Damon Flashlight

Unpack certain boxes first. Hopefully, you've labeled everything well and the movers are putting the appropriate boxes in the appropriate rooms. While they are, watch like a hawk for linens and bathroom stuff. As soon as a bed is assembled and you've found the sheets, make up a bed. By the time you get to fall into it, you'll be way too tired to put the sheets on.
Also, unpacking the kitchen is a huge accomplishment that will make life from here seem much more normal. As soon as you have your own toaster oven, coffeemaker, blender and other appliances ready, you'll feel like you can do your first big grocery shop and start preparing meals that don't arrive in Styrofoam containers.

Cardboard Storage Trunk

Be nice to your own buyers. Conversely, if you are moving out of a place, try to make the moving process pleasant for the new owners, unless they were jerks at the closing — well, even then, take the high road. Make the place spotless, leave a welcome note, organize instruction manuals for any appliances they are inheriting from you, leave the names of service providers you recommend and the numbers of a few good food delivery spots (or if they were jerks at the closing, just leave them the number of the so-so spots). These moves will keep your moving karma clean so that all will go well on your end.

Kate Spade Long List Pad

Also See:
  • All-in-One-Place Checklist to Selling Your Home and Moving
  • Pack All Your Shower Supplies in One Caddy
  • Keep a Local Plumber's Number Handy

Written by

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

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Avalon and Stone Harbor Weekly Update December 22nd, 2016

BEACHFILL EXPECTED IN 2017:  Last week Avalon’s Borough Council approved a State Aid Agreement with the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection that will result in a substantial hydraulic beach fill project for both Avalon and Stone Harbor in 2017.  Sand will be pumped onto Avalon’s beach from Townsend’s Inlet, and onto Stone Harbor’s beach from Hereford Inlet.  It’s hoped the beach fill project will be completed sometime in the spring, ahead of the summer tourism season.
Downtown areas of Avalon and Stone Harbor are decked out for the holidays!

IF YOU’RE HERE over the holidays, be sure to visit the business districts in Avalon & Stone Harbor.  Both towns are decorated with enough lights to make you feel like a kid again!  And if you need an activity for the family, consider visiting the Cape May County Zoo (open every day except Christmas), or take in a movie at the Harbor Square Theater in Stone Harbor—it’s open every day including Christmas, when four movies will be shown, including Rogue One: A Star Wars Story!

NEW YEAR’S EVE dining options on the Island include Fred’s Tavern (609-368-5591), The Princeton (609-967-3456), Bobby Dee’s Rock ‘n Chair (609-967-3300), and The Reeds at Shelter Haven (609-368-0100).  Be sure to call ahead for reservations!  If you’d like to ring in the New Year with fireworks, check out Sea Isle City’s family friendly New Year’s Eve celebration—a crystal ball drops at 7pm, and fireworks follow at 8pm, at JFK Boulevard & the beach (   .  Just a bit further north, Ocean City’s First Night begins at 4pm and includes concerts, comedy, amusement park rides, and fireworks at midnight(

THANK YOU for making 2016 a great year!  I appreciate your business and referrals!

HAPPY HOLIDAYS to you & yours!  May the joy & warmth of the season be with you!

THE AVALON/STONE HARBOR UPDATE will return the week of January 2, 2017.

  • One Christmas Carol, festive family holiday show, Cape May Stage, visit for details, now through Saturday, December 31
  • Story Time at the Avalon Free Public Library, 10-10:45AMTuesday, December 27
  • Winter’s Wildlife Camp for ages 4-8, 4 day adventure camp at the Cape May County Zoo focusing on animal habitats, animal care, conservation & the environment, visit for info, Tuesday thru Friday, December 27-30
  • Story Time at the Avalon Free Public Library, 10-10:45AMThursday, December 29
  • Harpist on the Porch, classical & holiday music, Avalon Free Public Library, 1-3PMSaturday, December 31
  • Ocean City’s First Night Celebration, family fun including magic, rides on Wonderland Pier, the Greaseband, a Neil Diamond tribute concert on the Music Pier, giant fireworks display at midnight, visit for details, 4PM-MidnightSaturday, December 31
  • Story Time at the Avalon Free Public Library, 10-10:45AMTuesday, January 3
  • Story Time at the Avalon Free Public Library, 10-10:45AMThursday, January 5
  • ‘Guys With Guitars’ live performance featuring blues & rock music, Harbor Square Theater in Stone Harbor, Saturday, January 7
  • IPad Workshop designed for beginning users, Avalon Free Public Library, register at 609-967-715510AM-NoonSaturday, January 7
  • Cape May Traditional Jazz Society presents the Mary Lou Newman Jazz Band, VFW Post #386, 419 Congress Street in Cape May, 2-4PMSunday, January 8
  • Creative Writing Seminar, Avalon Free Public Library, register at 609-967-715510AM-NoonSaturday, January 21
  • A tribute to ‘The Last Waltz’ with live singers and musicians, Harbor Square Theater in Stone Harbor, Saturday, February 4

Featured Property:
Five bedrooms, Bayfront, on a 60x250 lot!

New Listings:

334 92nd Street, Stone Harbor, $1,300,000, ACTIVE MLS#: 173728

8801 First Avenue, Stone Harbor, $2,695,000, ACTIVE MLS#: 173715

7 86th Street, Stone Harbor, $3,600,000, ACTIVE MLS#: 173754

Properties Sold:

401 21st Street, Avalon, $499,999, SOLD MLS#: 171496

358 39th Street, Avalon, $635,000, SOLD MLS#: 172508

2527 Dune Drive, Avalon, $825,000, SOLD MLS#: 168539

323 40th Street, Avalon, $827,500, SOLD MLS#: 172542

389 95th Street, Stone Harbor, $850,000, SOLD MLS#: 171400

560 24th Street, Avalon, $1,025,000, SOLD MLS#: 166666

343 92nd Street, Stone Harbor, $1,080,000, SOLD MLS#: 172869

277 88th Street, Stone Harbor, $1,100,000, SOLD MLS#: 166164

250 54th Street, Avalon, $1,100,000, SOLD MLS#: 173293

115 20th Street, Avalon, $1,150,000, SOLD MLS#: 172416

4318 Fifth Avenue, Avalon, $2,800,000, SOLD MLS#: 173662

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

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Don't Be Naughty: Important Etiquette Tips When Visiting Open Houses

Looking for a home can be a tedious process, and if you've been to multiple showings and in and out of open houses - and, especially, if you've been outbid on one or more homes you were counting on - you might be starting to lose your cool.
On the flip side, if you've ever sold a home, you're probably well aware of the grueling process of cleaning up after folks who've been stomping through your home, leaving their mess and their footprints and their bad manners behind. So, don't be like them. Check your muddy shoes at the door, but bring your etiquette inside. Need more details about the do's and don'ts of touring homes? Read on.

Wipe your feet
Or, better yet, remove your shoes. Remember that the sellers have presumably gone to great links to clean and stage their home, which probably means freshly shampooed carpets. Your muddy footprints will not be received well.

End of Lease Cleaning

Don't leave a present behind
If you must use the restroom while touring homes for sale, make sure you do a few things first:
"In case you're wondering, yes, it's OK to use the bathroom if you absolutely can't wait, but asking the host first can avoid embarrassment," said The Tennessean.
Check that the plumbing is working - If it's a vacant or brand-new house, that might not be the case.

  • Look for toilet paper - You don't want to be left in a drip-dry situation.
  • Flush! - Sounds like a given, but you'd be surprised.
  • Clean up after yourself - Just because you don't lift the seat at home doesn't mean you shouldn't here. And if you just can't bring yourself to do it, wipe up the seat when you're done. Come on. You know this.

No stealing
Yeah, it happens. More than you might think. If your moral compass isn't enough to keep you from getting sticky fingers in an open house, consider this: More and more houses now have security cameras that will undoubtedly catch you in the act.

Keep your hands off the meds
Yes, this would seem to be a given as well. But prescription medication is a temptation for some visitors. In some cases, "fake buyers" tour homes for sale with the express purpose of stealing. In fact, "The most commonly stolen item is prescription medicine, followed closely by jewelry and small electronics" during home showings, said NOLO.


Home sellers who don't secure valuables and medications are "just asking for it," according to some housing experts. But that doesn't mean you have to answer. That goes for medications you may consider harmless, like Tylenol or Tums, too. Sellers probably can't keep people from looking in their medicine cabinet, because: storage. But touching their stuff is another story. When all else fails, remember the Golden Rule, and do unto others.

Don't rifle through the homeowners' things
Speaking of opening medicine cabinets…Is it acceptable to open and look inside closets and kitchen and bathroom cabinets and drawers? Absolutely. But going through dresser drawers, nightstands, and other private spaces that have zero relevance when it comes to purchasing the home - not so much. Remember, you're looking at the storage space, not casing the place. You can be curious all day. But acting on that curiosity is uncool.

Be careful where you sit
"Avoid sitting on the furniture. It might not be real," said The Tennessean. "Growing numbers of Realtors are using cardboard or inflatable furniture to decorate empty rooms." Messing up a newly made bed or smooshing perfectly placed pillows takes away from the staging, so, if you do have a seat on the furniture, it's good form to fluff it up again before you leave.

Don't disregard special requests
Is it frustrating that you can't get into the third bedroom because the seller's kitty is locked up in there during the showing? Sure. Do you want to be responsible for the cat escaping and getting hit by a car because you ignored the note that says, "Cat in here, please don't enter?" Nope. If you're really interested in the home and not seeing that room is a deal breaker, you can always set up a second visit.


Keep an eye your kids
You may be tempted to let them run off and see their potential bedrooms, but if they're out of eyesight and earshot, they could potentially be doing damage to the house, or getting injured. You don't want to create a situation where there's liability involved…especially when you're trying to buy a house! recommends letting the listing agent know if you plan to bring your kids so they can help you navigate any potential hazards.

Written by Jaymi Naciri

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

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

9 Gorgeous Ways To Use Today's Hottest Backsplash Material

Goodbye, subway tiles. Hello, fish scales. Yes, the hottest backsplash tile today is more mermaid than rectangle, and it's giving us all the dreamy kitchen renovation feels. Not sure how to use the material that Domino called the new "It Girl" in tile ("As you'll see, it is definitely making a splash," they said.)? We've got a few ideas.

Mable kitchens are one of today's most popular kitchen trends, but slathering marbled fish scale tile along the backsplash is a new way to feature the luxe material and achieve a unique, personalized look.

From floor to ceiling
Why be timid? Go for it with a big expanse of Moroccan tile in hand-painted jewel tones for a striking look in the bathroom. Add in a big soaker tub to complete the mermaid fantasty.


Unique focal point
Want to stay in the same watery color palette but add in some distinctive design cues in the kitchen? We love how the tiles at the top of this backsplash almost look like they're swimming away.

The Fairlane House

Cool gray
How about larger-scale scales in gray to complement white cabinetry? The tile creates dimension in a small kitchen. And did you notice how the shape of the tile is mimicked on the window covering?


White and bright
"If color just isn't your thing, you can always stick with classic white like this look featured by Mercury Mosiacs," said Apartment Therapy. The fish scale walls and hex tile floors are a magical combination.

Apartment Therapy

Bold and Beautiful
Expect to see a lot of green this year; Pantone just named "Greenery" its Color of the Year. Here, the splash of bold green tempers the black cabinetry and proves a worthy companion to the natural wood.

Homes To Love

Fish scales on the floor? Sure, why not? Choosing a mix of complementary colors adds just the right amount of "wow" for a small space.

A similar mix of colors transforms a small outdoor patio into something special.

Digs Digs

On the fireplace
Fish-scale tile in a soothing palette brings new life to this traditional fireplace mantel.

Living Fabric Therapy

Written by Jaymi Naciri

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

Monday, December 19, 2016

Protecting Your Home against Wicked Weather

Today's News and Features
By Maria Patterson

While the east coast recently suffered through Hurricane Matthew, severe weather can strike anywhere, anytime. The Massachusetts-based Hanover Insurance Group recently shared these tips to help homeowners protect both their families and their properties during a storm.

Know what's in your home. A home inventory is often overlooked. An industry poll indicated homeowners' insurance claims are processed nearly twice as fast if home inventories are completed in advance.

Gather supplies. It is always a good idea to create an emergency supplies kit. Consider including items such as flashlights, batteries, medicines, a first aid kit, cash, a battery-powered radio, and a week's worth of water and nonperishable food for the household.

Prepare your house. Make any necessary repairs to loose boards, shingles, downspouts or other items that can pose problems in high winds and torrential rain. Move any unsecured items indoors, including grills, toys, planters and lawn furniture. Trim or remove any decaying and damaged tree branches.

Have a plan. Learn the local evacuation routes and make note of where local shelters are located. Have key telephone numbers on hand, such as family, friends, fire and police departments, and your insurance agent.

Stay informed. Sign up for alerts if possible. Many towns offer weather alerts to help inform residents of ways to stay safe.

Check your insurance protection. An independent insurance agent can help ensure comprehensive coverages are in place. Some good questions to consider include:
Are current rebuilding costs covered?
Should separate flood insurance be considered?
Are there any gaps in coverage?

​Source: The Hanover Insurance Group, Inc.

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

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Financial Well-Being May Be Best Gift This Season

Today's News and Features
By Barbara Pronin

While gifting loved ones with holiday cash or gift cards has been a long-standing option, retailers are offering new ways this season give your favorite people some financial well-being instead of the latest toys, fads or fashions.

Among them, according to Sarah Skidmore Sell at the Associated Press, is Stockpile, a company whose gift cards can be redeemed for stock, which is rolling out its products to more than 14,000 stores this holiday season.

Sold at popular retail chains like Target, Kroger, and Safeway, the gift cards may be purchased for a dollar amount of stock rather than the price for a share – and purchases can be in any amount.

Gift of College, which gives people another way to contribute to college savings plans or pay down student loans, began selling its gift cards at Toys R Us and Babies R Us nationally this month.

All 529 college savings plans grow tax-free, and withdrawals for educational expenses are also untaxed. The giver may get also a tax break, as 34 states and the District of Columbia offer either a state income tax deduction or tax credits for such contributions.

Since the average debt at graduation with a bachelor’s degree was more than $35,000 last year, Gift of College gift cards are becoming so popular that some employers are offering them as holiday bonus gifts for their workers, Sell said.

Financial gifts, whether in the form of cash or gift cards, may have tax implications, so it may be advisable to check with a financial advisor if your gift will be substantial. But in most cases, gifts of cash or any of these new gift card options offer a unique opportunity to send love and best wishes in a way that may help recipients develop an interest in thrift and/or in future investing.

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

Friday, December 16, 2016

Make Your Home Just a Little Smarter

Today's News and Features
By Maria Patterson

According to a 2016 HomeAdvisor research report, Americans spent on average $564 - $2,260 to install a home automation system, with prices ranging as high as $15,000 to install a hard-wired system. While outfitting your home with a full suite of smart home technology can be pricey and intimidating, there are some smaller ways you can start to incorporate this all-the-rage trend into your abode.

Smart home automation deals with syncing household devices and systems with schedules or responsive sensors, says HomeAdvisor, which means that smart home technology is dependent upon  smartphone apps and wireless internet routers. The goal is to save on costs, and add convenience and security throughout your home.

A good place to start is with your thermostat. A variety of smart thermostats are available, allowing you to automate and control your home’s temperature from your smartphone. Some, like Nest, learn your habits throughout the day and set the temperature accordingly.

You might also want to consider a smart television. An evolution of the Roku and Apple TV external devices, smart televisions have integrated everything you could ever want right into your set - Netflix, Hulu, YouTube, HBO Go, Pandora, network TV, gaming and much more.

Another great feature to consider is smart shades or blinds. These programmable, remote-controlled window coverings allow you to schedule open-and-close times in conjunction with the room’s exposure, putting you in control of energy saving and setting the mood.

Speaking of setting the mood, a whole host of smart light dimmers give you the option to control the lights in your home from your smartphone. This is an especially useful security feature while you’re away from your home for extended periods of time.

Another great security option is smart smoke and carbon monoxide detectors—this technology alerts you to not only what the problem is but within which part of your home it’s happening.

While the smart home technology options are endless and fascinating, keep in mind that they are internet dependent, so if your home goes offline, so will your devices.

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