Keeping Current Matters

Saturday, May 18, 2019

Great Spaces: Gorgeous Grounds for May

With spring thawing out many areas of the country, this month, we're exploring homes with gorgeous grounds so that we can all set our sights on garden days to come.

Immaculate Mexico Mansion

This immaculate property located in Careyes, Mexico, is surrounded by the Pacific Ocean on three sides. Sprawling over three acres, this 18,000-square-foot, six-bedroom villa was designed by Mexico City-based architect Manolo Mestre. Currently owned by Dick Butera, former owner of Hotel Jerome in Aspen, Colo., Casa Millas is equipped with five infinity pools. The real standout feature, however, is its master suite. Acting as a private island in one of the home's pools, the master suite is a 1,000-square-foot circular structure with a private roof deck and patio terrace.
Listed by: Christie's International Real EstateListed for: $13 millionPhotos by: Christie's International Real Estate

Stunning Stone Home in Illinois

Just one jaunt up the magnificent foliage-lined drive at 325 East 8th Street in Hinsdale, Ill., and you know this gated European estate is a stunner. Built from stone and set on two lush acres, the gated property spans 16,000 square feet with six bedrooms and 10 bathrooms. Outside, you'll find lush gardens and a serene in-ground pool. Indoor/outdoor spaces include an outdoor dining area and living room decked out with a fireplace.
58 JASON ADRIAN PHOTOGRAPY-325 east 8th street(medium) 27 JASON ADRIAN PHOTOGRAPY-325 east 8th street(medium) 4 JASON ADRIAN PHOTOGRAPY-325 east 8th street(large)
Listed by: Jameson Sotheby's International RealtyListed for: $10 millionPhotos by: Jason Adrian Photography

Enchanting Florida Estate

"Enchanting" is the best word to describe the grounds at this 10-bedroom, 13-bathroom Coral Gables estate. The 2.87-acre gated property features a winding drive lined with 100 majestic oak trees, giving the 15,668-square-foot estate the signature sense that it was plucked from a fairy tale. Built in 2003, the property includes a pool with a fountain, a tennis court, home theater and study. The home is currently owned by Roy Donahue "Don" Peebles, real estate entrepreneur, author and political activist. - Irving Padron - 11501 Old Cutler Rd-3-Web (1) - Irving Padron - 11501 Old Cutler Rd-23-Web (1) - Irving Padron - 11501 Old Cutler Rd-1-Web (1)
Listed by: Engel & Völkers FloridaListed for: $12.9 millionPhotos by: Alex Tarajano Photography

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

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Moving House? How You Can Save Money by Buying New

By Meghan Belnap
If you’re ready to move, you can save a lot in the long run by buying a house that’s brand new. Many new homes on the real estate market include features that are designed to ultimately reduce household expenses, which will make it easier for you to pay your mortgage, utilities and other important bills on time.
Here are a few ways that buying a new house will save you money:

Fewer Costs for HVAC and Electrical Systems

With a new home, you’ll have a heating, air conditioning and ventilation system along with an electrical system that'll likely last a long time. Many modern systems are made with parts that are designed for longevity. The newest systems are also designed to run more efficiently so that less energy is consumed for the same output. This means that your utility bills will be significantly lower than with older systems.
Newer electrical wiring will also mean that you won’t have to pay for more outlets to be installed. Old homes have very few outlets with outdated socket types. Overall, newer homes are simply more up-to-date.

Avoiding Plumbing Failures

Old pipes are prone to cracking and leaking, which can result in costly repairs to your plumbing system and other parts of your home. A recently built home will come with a new plumbing system that'll likely feature state-of-the-art pipes and fixtures. With a modern plumbing system, you’ll also be less likely to experience faucet leaks that can make your water bill jump.
Having a new house also means that you don’t have to worry about the wear and tear on the plumbing caused by previous owners. Poor drain habits can cause serious damage to a system that may not even manifest itself for a year or more. Buying a newly built home means that you know exactly what you’re buying with your plumbing.

Cost-Effective Modern Building Design

The best new home builders who specialize in modern design can save you money by building a home from the ground up that will cut many of your household expenses. Advances have been made in regards to insulation materials and techniques. Low-E glass windows are just one of many new enhancements that weren’t available when older homes were being built. Having a modern construction also means that new, recycled materials can be used that are just as strong as traditional materials but come at a fraction of the cost. Recycled steel, timber, and even glass are just a few of these materials that aren’t available with older buildings.

Better Energy Efficiency

Energy efficiency is further enhanced when a modern home has a new roof and foundation. Money is often wasted when old roofs and foundations have cracks that allow heat and cold air to escape from a home. Having a professional modern builder handle the roof ventilation will also help ensure that you don’t lose more heat through your roof than you have to, easing the load on your appliances. Having a new foundation in place also means that you can ensure that it is properly sealed when you buy the home. This helps prevent water damage from leaks and flooding that may occur in your area.
There are many advantages of moving into a new house. Even though the initial cost of buying a recently built home may seem like a lot, you’ll likely experience plenty of benefits that can reduce your expenses and help you manage your household better over time. Whether you’re planning to stay for five, ten, or even fifty years, buying a new home will save you a great deal of money in repairs and maintenance later down the road.

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

Monday, May 13, 2019

9 Ways to Beautify Your Backyard

By Conner Flynn
Whether you're considering selling your house or you want to improve the appearance of your current property, there are many ways to beautify your backyard. A well-maintained backyard can make you enjoy coming home to relax and make you proud when you have friends and family over.
Here are nine tips to help you improve and beautify your backyard:

Add a Custom Shed

If you have random lawn equipment out on your yard, it can be unflattering. When you build a shed, you have a place to store your gardening and lawn equipment.
If you already have a small storage shed for this purpose, consider adding a customized shed to your yard for entertaining purposes. Also, an outdoor bar would make a fabulous addition to a yard, where friends and family could gather and be merry.

Create a Walkway

Most people put stone walkways in the front yard but neglect to add them to their backyard landscaping. Use stone or pavers to create a walkway that'll be inviting and give a clear path to your patio or pool. This will limit the amount of traffic going through your lawn, which could damage your grass. It will also make your yard more eye-appealing. Many people also include a walkway to their shed as well, so consider incorporating one into your plans as well!

Pergolas, Decks and Patios

Creating a definitive entertainment location can be a beautiful addition to your backyard. By adding a pergola, deck, or patio, you're making a place that immediately attracts your guests. You can add flowers and potted plants. A grill and outdoor lighting around your pergola or patio will make for the perfect finishing touches.

Outdoor Kitchen

An outdoor kitchen is great for locations that don't get a lot of rain and for people who like to entertain often—include a built-in grill, mini fridge, sink, etc. Anything that you would need to access inside your house, include it in your outdoor kitchen. This will eliminate much of the foot traffic through your house and give you a beautiful backyard.


Having either an above-ground or below-ground pool can be a great addition to your yard. Guests of all ages will enjoy being able to swim, and depending on how you stage it, a pool can be a real focal point to your backyard. Add a wrap around deck or have a separate porch area for the pool, and you can decide how you want your guests and pool to interact.

Paint Your Fence

If you have a fence in your yard that you don't necessarily like the looks of, you can paint it to make your backyard look better. Depending what look you want, you can either go with one standard color, or paint a mural on the fence to make it a talking point, rather than an eye sore.

Add Outdoor Seating

If you want your guests to feel comfortable and at home, add cozy outdoor seating to your backyard. Use wooden pallets, long benches and Adirondack chairs to give people an option of where they want to sit. Also, add a wrap around tree bench or a daybed and get creative with fabrics and color schemes.

Give the Kids a Place to Play

A tree house or playset can really add a cool note to your backyard. Get creative with walkways and ladders, add lighting and tree swings. The options are unlimited.

Add Eye-Popping Landscaping

Beautiful landscaping can be a wonderful addition to your backyard. Add hydrangeas, butterfly gardens and flower borders. You can change the entire look of your yard just by adding some pretty plants.
There are so many ways that you can beautify your backyard. With these tips you can have a stunning place for guests to visit and a relaxing spot to unwind at night.

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

Thursday, May 9, 2019

These Are the Best Days of the Year to Sell Your Home

If you're on the fence about listing your home, now is the perfect time to take the dive. According to a recent ATTOM Data Solutions analysis, 19 of the 20 best days to sell during the calendar year fall in May or June.
After analyzing more than 28 million single-family home and condo sales over the past eight years, ATTOM Data Solutions concluded that sellers listing around this time of the year—as the weather is warming up—will garner seller premiums.
"Since summer is a time for vacations and outings, it's no surprise that it's also a time when people are most likely to move," said Todd Teta, chief product officer with ATTOM Data Solutions.
Additionally, the company broke down their eight years' worth of research month by month. Here were the best months to sell, between 2011 and 2018, based on seller premiums for single-family home and condo sales:
1. June
  • Number of sales: 2,881,400
  • Median sales price: $200,000
  • Seller premium: 9.2%
2. May
  • Number of sales: 2,657,045
  • Median sales price: $190,000
  • Seller premium: 7.4%
3. July
  • Number of sales: 2,752,755
  • Median sales price: $199,500
  • Seller premium: 7.3%
4. April
  • Number of sales: 2,372,242
  • Median sales price: $184,063
  • Seller premium: 6.4%
5. March
  • Number of sales: 2,247,224
  • Median sales price: $178,000
  • Seller premium: 6.1%
6. August
  • Number of sales: 2,802,268
  • Median sales price: $195,706
  • Seller premium: 5.8%
7. February
  • Number of sales: 1,694,513
  • Median sales price: $170,000
  • Seller premium: 5.6%
8. September
  • Number of sales: 2,423,163
  • Median sales price: $190,000
  • Seller premium: 4.7%
9. November
  • Number of sales: 2,094,175
  • Median sales price: $188,173
  • Seller premium: 4.0%
10. January
  • Number of sales: 1,762,726
  • Median sales price: $170,000
  • Seller premium: 3.7%
11. October
  • Number of sales: 2,440,413
  • Median sales price: $188,000
  • Seller premium: 3.3%
12. December
  • Number of sales: 2,223,542
  • Median sales price: $188,000
  • Seller premium: 3.3%
And below is an infographic produced by ATTOM Data Solutions illustrating what they found to be some of the top days during the year to sell a home.

Image: ATTOM Data Solutions
To view the analysis and for a full breakdown of the company's methodology, click here.

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

Thursday, May 2, 2019

What Goes Into Assessing Land for Home Construction?

By Ryan Tollefsen
For some, the thought of designing and building their dream home can serve as motivation for a good portion of their lives. Others may be willing to take it a step further by not only building their dream home, but selecting the perfect building site for it to sit on. A large lot on a cul-de-sac may be ideal for some; others may desire a beach or lakefront view. And some may be drawn to the mountains and a home built up on a ridge.
Selecting a suitable building lot involves more than just buying a piece of land. Assessing land is an intricate process, and there are buildability considerations with any piece of land. From the type of soil to accessibility to zoning, there's a long list of potentially costly and time-consuming roadblocks that can stand in one's way. Knowing these obstacles and performing due diligence before purchasing a property can go a long way in keeping your dream home from becoming an expensive nightmare.
If you're considering a build-on-your-lot adventure, here are some tips and strategies to keep in mind when assessing land:

Choosing an Improved Lot or an Undeveloped Location

The first significant choice a homeowner will have to make is choosing the right location. This will generally involve selecting between an improved lot, where a new-home community is planned, or selecting an undeveloped site. An improved lot will make access to utilities like gas, water and electricity easier, but may not offer the privacy of an undeveloped site. A raw piece of land may offer the seclusion desired, but will be costly to upgrade and access.
You'll want to become familiar with any zoning issues, easements, property line restrictions and architectural requirements the property may have. Further research may be needed if the goal is to create a self-sustaining homestead—potentially needing professional opinions on soil quality and solar power potential.
Much of this information can be found on an accessor's parcel map in the local area. These tract maps will frequently contain notes about the parcel like "not an approved building site" or "subject to site approval." Your local office of zoning and planning can be helpful as well. Keep in mind that even an approved site can have its challenges, such as trees to be cleared, foundation requirements and other issues. This is where an experienced builder can be invaluable.

Choosing a Builder, Building a Team

The builder you choose should be based on whether you're building on an improved lot or an unimproved location. Selecting a builder experienced in the construction of the type of home you desire will reduce the odds that they are unequipped to complete this project efficiently. A builder with good experience, buying power and reputation—a builder who stands behind their work—will be ideal.
Many builders enjoy unique challenges in helping their clients create the perfect home. Depending on the uniqueness of the property you may also require the assistance of an architect and structural engineer. If you have plans to build a deck or add a pool, discuss this with your builder to ensure the lot size is sufficient to accommodate future plans.

Selecting an Existing Home Plan or a Custom Home Plan

Choosing between an existing or custom home plan may come down to preference, need, or some combination of the two. Many households decide to build their own home on their own lot by first selecting an existing home plan that appeals to their budget and lifestyle. These plans can usually be modified, at least to some degree, to fit the homeowner's desires.
When a lot or home plan is particularly unique, a homeowner may decide to choose a custom-built home to best suit the property. Custom-designed homes will typically be more expensive, but may be able to take full advantage of the lot, the view or vision of the buyer more effectively than an existing plan.

Approving Plans and Permitting

Once a site, builder and plan have been selected, there will be plans to approve, permits to apply for and inspections to be scheduled throughout the construction process. The outlining and due diligence performed in the early staging of planning your home can pay off through this period with fewer delay-causing surprises. When building on an improved lot, this process is generally pretty smooth—especially with an experienced builder, and barring any unforeseen hurdles.
The more unique a property is, the more potential there may be for challenges involving drainage, groundwater, soil composition, and more. For example, there will typically be fewer challenges when building on an improved lot in an existing neighborhood than there may be when building on the side of a mountain.

Preparation Is Everything

Building on your own lot, especially an unimproved one, is considered to be a bit more risky than purchasing an existing home. The best thing one can do is be prepared about the potential stumbling blocks that may need to be overcome. Keep in mind, a piece of property that is less accessible will also provide unique challenges during the construction process that can add significantly to the cost. You'll also want to imagine the property throughout the seasons of the year so you're choosing land that will bring joy and value. If the extra effort, planning, cost and potential challenges aren't too daunting, this path may be the one for you.
Some people want a home that reflects who they are. Some homeowners are willing to sacrifice some space and convenience in order to gain living space with a view they can enjoy for the rest of their lives. Before buying or building your next home, do your homework, look at all your options and choose the path that brings the lifestyle and excitement you desire

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

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Market Stats March 2019 and Upcoming Events this weekend in Avalon and Stone Harbor

MARKET STATS: With relatively few transactions, there was an increase in total units sold in March, with 27 sold this month in Avalon and Stone Harbor. This month's total units sold was higher than at this time last year, an increase from March 2018. For detailed look at the market, see the latest Long & Foster Market Minute links below:

View The Latest Long & Foster Market Minute Report  |  Download/Print PDF

Upcoming Events:

Author Talk: "Cape May County New Jersey: the Making of an American Resort Community"

May 4, 2019

Enjoy a lecture at the Avalon History Center given by Dr. Jeffery M. Dorwart, Professor Emeritus, Rutgers University, and author of the book "Cape May County, NJ: The Making of an American Resort Community". Hear and learn about the history of Cape May County from the first recorded discovery by Henry Hudson in 1609 to its emergence as the twentieth century vacation-land.

Cape May County New Jersey: the Making of an American Resort Community

Spring Tide Festival & Merchant Sidewalk Sale

May 4, 2019

Spring Sidewalk Sale throughout Stone Harbor, boats, pirates, good eats, artisans & family fun!

Avalon Garden Club Spring Plant & Bake Sale

May 4-5, 2019

Stop by and peruse through the tables of the many varieties of annuals and perennials in various sizes on sale; as well as baked goods.

Avalon Garden Club Spring Plant & Bake Sale

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

Monday, April 29, 2019

Baths, Beds and Kitchens: Key Projects for a $10,000 Renovation

When it comes to home improvement, additions to the bathrooms, bedrooms and kitchen are popular—and pricey—upgrades. According to Remodeling magazine's 2018 Cost vs. Value Report, the average cost of a kitchen remodel is $21,198; the average bath remodel runs $19,134; and adding a bed and bath combined for a master suite totals $123,420.
The average homeowner in a recent survey by Trulia is budgeting (a realistic) $8,879 for a remodel this year—and according to Trulia's Design Panel, they can defray expenses and stay on-target. The best projects (for a steal!) are:
  • Add storage (go the inexpensive route with shelving) and tile.
  • Install modern plumbing.
  • Replace the cabinets with a vanity.
  • Add a rug. (A design and disguise element.)
  • Brighten up with an accent wall and lighting.
  • Get a high-quality mattress, but lower-cost linens and pillows.
  • Add contemporary countertops and door knobs/pulls.
  • Customize the pantry with storage.
  • Give cabinets a facelift with new paint.
These budget-conscious improvements can keep you from overspending, the panel says, coming in, generally, at $10,000 or less for each room. It pays to spend wisely!
Trulia's Design Panel is comprised of experts in design, staging and storage.
Source: Trulia 

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

Saturday, April 27, 2019

Is Your Kitchen Top Chef-Worthy? You Could Pocket a Premium When You Sell

premium kitchen

The heart of the home is the kitchen—and buyers are eager to fork over for a showpiece.
According to an analysis conducted recently by Zillow, adding commercial-grade features to the kitchen pays a premium. Evaluating 4.6 million home listings in the past year, Zillow discovered that the features garnered anywhere from 24-34 percent more at sale.
Of the 10 biggest moneymakers, six are common in custom, entertainer's kitchens—and restaurants:
Steam Oven – 34 percent premium
Professional Appliance – 32 percent premium
Wine Cellar – 31 percent premium
Pot Filler – 27 percent premium
Waterfall Countertop – 26 percent premium
Prep Sink – 24 percent premium
The boost comes with a caveat: longer timelines. Because these amenities appeal to specific tastes, and are common in higher-end homes—and homes in the luxury market move slower, typically—cashing in could take a while. Against comps, homes outfitted with a steam oven, for instance, were on the market for 22 days more than the others.
What about buyers at the entry level, not in the luxury market? They're also drawn to well-appointed kitchens, and prepared to spend on them:
Pot Filler – 49 percent premium
Wine Cellar – 47 percent premium
Pizza Oven – 46 percent premium
Prep Sink – 39 percent premium
Dual-Range Oven – 36 percent premium
"Having a steam oven, a heated floor or other luxury features in the home is a signal that there are more than the home's basic features at play," says Skylar Olsen, director of Economic Research at Zillow. "These homes are special. They likely come with an elevated design sense and the extra touches valued by home shoppers who are willing to pay.
"If you have these features, flaunt them," Olsen says.
For more information, please visit

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