Keeping Current Matters

National Association of Realtors

Monday, July 1, 2019

6 Questions to Ask Your Lender Before Getting a Mortgage

By Miron Lulic
Asking the right questions when shopping for a mortgage is crucial, and failing to do so could cost you thousands.
The first question you need to ask yourself is, "How many mortgage loan applications am I going to fill?" You can save a significant amount of money long-term by investing in mortgage comparison shopping. For instance, the spread in 2018 for the highest and lowest mortgage rates was approximately 1 percent (3.95 percent vs. 4.94 percent). That's a pretty narrow range, historically speaking. In 1981, the mortgage rate spread was nearly 3 percent (14.8 percent vs. 18.63 percent). Even a 0.5 percent difference on a $300,000, 30-year mortgage can save you enough money to buy a 2019 Subaru Legacy in cash and still have enough left over to keep the gas tank full for a year ($31,600).
Incidentally, interest rates can vary by more than half a percent, even for people with good credit, depending on which lender you choose. Here are some questions you should ask your lender:
Is there anything I can do to apply for a better rate? 
You may be surprised by the options available. Some lenders may offer a lower rate if you increase your down payment or reduce your debt-to-income ratio. Adding a well-qualified cosigner can also improve your rates considerably, although that can come with its own issues.
Do I need to buy points to get the advertised rate?
Most lenders will offer a better rate if you buy points. Points are a form of prepaid interest that allows you to buy a lower interest rate for the duration of the mortgage. To illustrate, let's say your credit score and income qualify you for a 5.27 percent APR on your mortgage. Your lender may offer you a 0.27 percent reduction of your APR if you pay $2,000 for two points. 
Is buying points a good investment? It all depends on how long you plan to stay in your home, your cash flow and what returns you could obtain from your money if you invested it somewhere else. How long would you have to make mortgage payments before the points pay for themselves? On a $100,000 mortgage with a 30-year term, you would have to stay in your home approximately seven years before you could recover the cost of your investment in points.
The details will change depending on your mortgage terms, so be sure to ask your lender what your breakeven time is before you choose to buy points. Lenders are required to make disclaimers clear and conspicuous, but it's easy to miss a footnote when comparing multiple loan offers. Check that all the rates you're comparing don't have strings attached.
Can I pick my own homeowners insurance? 
Lenders are only allowed to pick your home insurance for you when you choose not to buy a policy and your mortgage terms require it; however, some unscrupulous lenders do push borrowers to buy overpriced policies from their insurance subsidiaries.
What is the rate lock and what happens if we haven't closed by the time it runs out?
A rate lock is an agreement between you and the lender to guarantee a rate for a specified time period. This is useful because your interest could change during the application process for all types of reasons: Your credit score could drop, the appraisal of your home may not go as you expected, your lender’s method of calculating your income may be different, and, of course, the market interest rates could change at any time.
Some rate locks come with a float down option, which allows you to take advantage of a better APR if the rate drops. In both cases, lenders may charge a lock fee for the service. Make sure you understand the cost and the consequences when the lock expires. Ask how much it will cost to extend the lock if the closing process lasts longer than expected. Note that initial loan estimates will specify the terms and cost of the rate lock, but will not tell you how much extending it will cost. You need to ask this specifically to avoid surprises.
How long should I expect to wait for the mortgage to close and when can I expect my letter of commitment? 
This information is particularly important when you're buying in a seller's market and properties sell fast. Look for lenders with a fast underwriting process that provide preapproval letters. 
Can you give an estimate of the total closing costs? 
Closing costs are the part of the mortgage process borrowers are least familiar with. Only 49 percent of buyers reported being very familiar with closing costs and 14 percent described themselves as completely unfamiliar, according to a recent survey by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
Again, the spread in costs from one lender to another is significant. The names of closing fees are often suspiciously vague. For example, origination fees can vary from 0 percent to 1.5 percent of the loan principal. Remember to be aware that lenders may also charge a document preparation fee (anything from $50 to $250) or charge "processing fees" that vary from $500 to $1,200.

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

Saturday, June 29, 2019

4 Top Modern Methods of Investing in Real Estate

By Meghan Belnap
Investing in real estate is a great way to earn some extra money for yourself. You can put the money that you make from real estate into a retirement fund, your children’s education or another important life expense. Here are four ways to invest your money in real estate that could pay off handsomely in the end:

Buy a Family Rental Home

Whether you want to purchase a single home or multiple houses to rent out to tenants, investing in a rental property is one of the best ways to earn continuous income. You can choose to rent to families on a short- or long-term basis. It’s important to establish rental terms with your tenants and specify these terms in a lease or another type of agreement.

Split Homes Into Stratas

Another way to capitalize on your real estate investment is by turning single-family homes into stratas so that multiple families can rent a single property. This will only work if your rental home is large enough to divide into separate units that have an adequate number of bedrooms and bathrooms. You may also need to install multiple kitchens so that renters in each unit have a place to cook. If you’re unsure of how to best go about dividing a rental home into stratas, a strata titling service in your area can provide assistance.

Purchase Apartments

If you have the finances, you can purchase an apartment building with multiple units that can be rented to tenants. There are also apartment units that are spread out on larger plots of land to give tenants more privacy—purchasing one of these properties may also be to your liking. You’ll likely have to deal with people moving in and out on a frequent basis, but rental apartments provide some of the surest forms of steady income.

Flip Houses

House flipping involves purchasing old homes that are often dilapidated and need a lot of work to become habitable again and then doing the necessary maintenance to make them livable and sellable. You can cash in on a major profit if you perform the right upgrades. In addition to the house itself, you’ll also likely need to invest money into having the yard landscaped and cleaned so that the property is more presentable to potential buyers.
Becoming a real estate investor can secure your future for the long term. Investing your money wisely into the right types of properties can lead to fast success!

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

Thursday, June 27, 2019

Market Minute Report Avalon and Stone Harbor NJ May 2019

Market Minute Report May 2019 

Units Sold
There was an increase in total units sold in May, with 46 sold this
month in Avalon and Stone Harbor. This month's total units sold was
higher than at this time last year.

Active Inventory
Versus last year, the total number of homes available this month is
lower by 6 units or 3%. The total number of active inventory this May
was 222 compared to 228 in May 2018. This month's total of 222 is
higher than the previous month's total supply of available inventory of
212, an increase of 5%.

Median Sale Price
Last May, the median sale price for Avalon and Stone Harbor Homes
was $837,500. This May, the median sale price was $1,622,500, an
increase of $785,000 compared to last year. The current median sold
price is lower than in April.

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

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Home Sellers: 4 Things to Replace Before You List Your Home

By Meghan Belnap
It's rare that a person can put a home on the market without doing any work. While you might have been concentrating on the big changes before you put the for-sale sign in your yard, it's important to remember the little things, as well. Below are four things you should consider replacing before you put your house up for sale:


Adding a fresh coat of paint is one of the best ways to liven up the look of your home. If you have the time and ability to do so, repainting both the exterior of your home and all of the rooms is a good way to go; however, if you're limited on funds, make sure to repaint any area that has seen significant wear and tear.

Broken Locks and Handles

If there are a number of broken locks and handles in your home (with which you have grown accustomed to dealing with), these can be major problems for new owners, especially if they make a prospective buyer feel unsafe. As such, it's a good idea to replace any broken locks and any broken door handles that might be in your home before listing.


Old carpet can wreak havoc on your attempts to sell your home. Not only does it have the possibility of making your rooms look dingy or out-of-date, but also, old carpeting can hold onto smells no matter how often you've attempted to have them cleaned. Consider getting entirely new carpet in your house before putting it on the market—or upgrade to hardwood or vinyl. Making this change can add a great deal of value to your house and remove serious stumbling blocks on the path to getting your home sold.

Garage Door Openers

How well does your current garage door opener remote work? If it's having trouble connecting to the overhead unit or you've given up on it entirely, it's time to get something new. A garage door specialist can help you find the equipment you'll need to get your garage door functioning like new.
Always make sure to budget for the things you need to replace before you sell your home. Having all of these items replaced will not only make your house look nicer, but also help the rest of your home look even better to prospective buyers. With a little work, you can make minor changes that can transform the way your house looks.

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

Saturday, June 22, 2019

5 Tips for Selling a Summer Home Quickly

By Seth Tilton
For many potential homebuyers, it's hard not to fantasize about owning a dreamy summer home this time of year. With that in mind, let's look at five tips for agents selling vacation homes:
Leverage technology, but be realistic. For many potential buyers, the ideal summer getaway is at least a plane or half-day car ride away. And while technology has made the remote buying process easier, statistics still tell us that most people are not willing to buy sight-unseen. Encourage your clients to engage with you on apps like Marco Polo and FaceTime, not as a replacement for seeing things in person, but as a time, money and travel saver for tying up loose ends after they've seen (and liked) the property for themselves.
Know what rents and what doesn't. Sure, investing in a second home of any sort is a big investment, but for buyers willing to supplement their personal stays with short-term rentals, knowing what "sells" in the rental market is key for generating cash. Time and time again, the best investments are properties that are close to the beach, outfitted with pools or pool access and allow pets.
Get real about risk management. While your client may have spent a lifetime dreaming about escaping to a remote country cabin, mitigating risk—and the hassle of dealing with unforeseen issues from a distance—should be a legitimate consideration for vacation homebuyers. While it may not seem quite as sexy on the surface, properties in complexes and neighborhoods with solid reserved funds are more protected against issues than their remote counterparts.
Help your clients factor in insurance upfront. For buyers new to tropical and waterfront real estate investments, forgetting to factor in necessary insurance costs, from flooding to hurricanes, is not uncommon. Educating clients on not only what necessary regional insurance looks like, such as how beach houses above a certain elevation don't require flood insurance, but also how and where it's baked into other monthly fees, builds trust and transparency.
Weigh out the pros and cons of property management options. For buyers who do plan to rent their vacation homes, working with a property management company can be hugely helpful for both visibility (i.e., marketing your property to potential renters) and day-to-day management. While the idea of "giving away" 15-20 percent of your rental income to a management company can be hard to stomach, so can acting as a landlord from afar.

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

Thursday, June 20, 2019

WalletHub Report: Home Is Where…It’s Safest?

The world can get a little overwhelming these days with news headlines giving us bad news at every turn. That's why safety is high on the priority list for homebuyers. And with help from WalletHub's newly released report—2019's Safest States in America—consumers can help narrow down their choices for a place to call home.
The report considers 52 key safety indicators across five categories: Personal and Residential Safety, Financial Safety, Road Safety, Workplace Safety and Emergency Preparedness. Here are the findings:
Source: WalletHub

These are the top 20 safest states in the U.S., according to the report:
  1. Minnesota
  2. Vermont
  3. Maine
  4. Utah
  5. Connecticut
  6. New Hampshire
  7. Iowa
  8. Hawaii
  9. Massachusetts
  10. Wyoming
  1. Washington
  2. Indiana
  3. Virginia
  4. Oregon
  5. Maryland
  6. Rhode Island
  7. Wisconsin
  8. North Carolina
  9. Idaho
  10. Nevada

 If safe roads are a must, check out Massachusetts, Minnesota or New Hampshire. For a stronger police presence, New Jersey and Louisiana are the top choices. And if you've got kids and bullying is on your mind, focus your search on Delaware, Florida or Virginia.
Obviously, there's no one single place that is completely danger-free, but if you have specific concerns, there are areas that'll give you more peace of mind. So determine what matters most to you, whether that be a low crime rate, better weather conditions or safer workplaces, and let those factors guide your home-buying decision.
To read the entire report, visit

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

Monday, June 17, 2019

Great Spaces: Michael Douglas Narrates His Own Real Estate Video

Looking for a unique way to market a real estate listing? Hire an A-lister to narrate it! This is much easier, of course, when you're the A-lister who's listed the home for sale. Actor Michael Douglas recently narrated the listing video for his $32.4 million property on the island of Mallorca, Spain.
Douglas spent the past 30 years modernizing the stunning cliffside estate—dubbed S'Estaca—which was built in the mid-19th century by Archduke Ludvig Salvator, as Douglas notes in his video. He originally purchased the estate in 1989 for $3.5 million.
The property sits upon 250 acres of land, with two cottages and five apartments housing 10 bedrooms total and, according Douglas, up to 20 people can stay here in style and comfort.
How much style? The estate also has a pool, private vineyard, olive grove, wine cellar and intense views of the Balearic Sea. Douglas and wife Catherine Zeta-Jones listed the home for a staggering $60 million back in 2014, but have nearly halved the price, making it seem like a billionaire's steal.  
View the full video below:

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

Friday, June 14, 2019

How to Afford a Luxury Family Home With a Reasonable Mortgage

By Meghan Belnap
Living in a luxury home is a lifelong dream for many people, but purchasing a beautiful piece of property could end up putting you in debt for 40 years or longer if you aren't careful. Luckily, with a little bit of planning and some patience, you should be able to buy the house of your dreams with a reasonable mortgage. Here's how:

Improve Your Credit Score

When it comes time to apply for a home loan, the loan officer is going to carefully scrutinize every aspect of your credit history. If you have blemishes on your credit history, or your credit score is low, you will need to spend some time dealing with those issues. Boosting your credit score by just a few points could greatly reduce your interest rate, which will allow you to pay off your home loan much quicker.

Avoid Coastal Properties

Buying a house on the beach might seem like a great idea, but those homes can be incredibly expensive. It's also important to note that beachfront property is very difficult to maintain. You could end up spending tens of thousands of dollars on maintenance every year, and that will quickly eat into your budget. Instead of coastal properties, you might want to take a look at waterfront homes near lakes and rivers. If you’re flexible on scenery, you can find luxury mountain homes for sale at much lower prices than coastal or waterside homes that still have stunning views.

Work With an Experienced Agent

Purchasing a luxury home without an experienced real estate professional by your side could be a serious and expensive mistake. Your real estate agent will be able to find homes that meet your criteria, schedule walkthroughs and negotiate on your behalf. Bringing the asking price down by a few thousand dollars could end up reducing the total length of your mortgage by multiple years. One of those professionals can also connect you to different lenders so that you can choose the best deal.

Head Outside of the City

There are quite a few benefits to living within a city, but you're going to pay for those advantages. If you want to save some money on your home, then you might want to take a look at local suburbs. Homes that are located outside city limits are almost always more affordable, and you won’t end up paying as much on property taxes. With the money you would have spent on property taxes and higher living expenses, you can aggressively work on your home loan.
In addition to these few tips, you also need to make sure that you remain as patient as possible. This process is going to take quite some time if you have a strict budget, and you don’t want to make an offer until you've found the perfect piece of property at a great price.

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

Monday, June 10, 2019

Market Minute Report Avalon and Stone Harbor Housing Market - April 2019

Avalon and Stone Harbor Housing Market - April 2019
(Read Full Report here:)

Units Sold 

There was an increase in total units sold in April, with 41 sold this month in Avalon and Stone Harbor. This month's total units sold was higher than at this time last year.

Active Inventory

Versus last year, the total number of homes available this month is lower by 10 units or 5%. The total number of active inventory this April was 211 compared to 221 in April 2018. This month's total of 211 is lower than the previous month's total supply of available inventory of 227, a decrease of 7%.

Median Sale Price 

Avalon and Stone Harbor Housing Market Last April, the median sale price for Avalon and Stone Harbor Homes was $1,035,000. This April, the median sale price was $1,975,000, an increase of $940,000 compared to last year. The current median sold price is higher than in March.

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

Friday, June 7, 2019

Three Ways to Invest In a Home and Not Get Hurt

Buy low, sell high. That's the investor's maxim that never fails. The trick is in knowing when to buy and when to sell. Investing in a home is never as easy or as quick to deliver returns as you may wish. We all want to ride the boom and avoid the crash. Here are three ways to buy a home safely.

Don't try to time the market
Some homebuyers believe that waiting for prices or interest rates to go lower is the way to buy a home. But there are two things wrong with that approach.

First, what is the market going to do? Unless you have a crystal ball, it's hard to know. Between 2006 and 2011, home prices fell an annualized 7.7% a year, or 27%, according to Fiserv Case/Shiller. Since 2011 and 2014, they've gained back that much and more on an annual basis.

Mortgage interest rates follow the U.S. Treasury yields. A quarter point rise in interest rates will cost you roughly $25 more per month. Lock in an interest rate with your lender and don't second-guess yourself. You'll have more peace of mind as well as a stronger negotiating position with the seller.

Buy within your means
Irresponsible lending led to one of the biggest recessions in modern history. Many homeowners lost their homes. You don't want to join them by buying a home that's bigger, more luxurious or pricier than you can reasonably afford.

Lenders are facing heavy government penalties for lending to unqualified borrowers, so they're insisting that lending standards return to historically safe and sustainable parameters.

That means you won't be able to pay half your income toward housing which was common during the housing boom. Today, you'll pay approximately no more than a quarter to a third of your gross monthly income for a home.

As your income improves, your home becomes even more affordable, allowing you to meet other life goals, such as adding new members to your family or starting a business of your own.

Buy long term
The longer you own your home, the more equity you build. Equity is the percent of ownership you have in the home. Think of equity as money you'll get back when it's time to sell.

To protect your equity, reinvest in your home to keep it in top condition. Then when it's time to sell, your home will be more appealing to buyers and sell for more money than similar homes that aren't as updated or attractive.

If you buy a new home every few years, you'll throw away thousands in moving and closing costs. It's far better to hold on to your first home for as long as you can. At some point, you can turn it into a rental property that produces income for you.

Choose the best home you can for the money and it will return the favor.

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

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Designing Your Outdoor Living Space This Summer: 4 Hot Trends

From bohemian cues to minimalistic touches, the decor in our homes is migrating outdoors for the summer—and balance, in both colors and materials, is the overarching theme, according to a new report by Zillow.
"The lines have been blurred between what's indoor-only and what you can use outside, which means it's never been easier to create an outdoor space that's cohesive with your indoor design," says Kerrie Kelly, design expert at Zillow.
The Hottest Outdoor Trends
Comforts of Indoors, Out
Most of us delineate our indoor living spaces in a structured way, from arranging anchor furniture and hanging lighting to rolling out rugs. According to the Zillow report, this approach is appropriate for outside, as well, in accents like chandeliers and cushions in durable materials, centered around a fireplace or fire pit—ideal for interaction, movement and warmth.

Bright, Saturated Shades
Beyond the comforts of the indoors, citrusy colors are a top trend, with the beginning of the rainbow specifically in vogue. From corals and scarlets to tangerines, these bright hues liven up outdoor spaces, as well as coordinate with less peppy shades, making them simple to swap.

Scandinavian Touches
Classified by minimalism and a monochromatic palette, Nordic/Scandinavian design is also heading outdoors—think aluminum furnishings and neutral textiles. The aesthetic beautifully pairs with wood, according to the design experts at Zillow, complementing a deck or porch well.

Green as a Statement
Eco-friendliness is having its moment, the report shows. To add "green" to your outdoor space, consider installing LED lighting powered by solar, or a dramatic living wall, which won't detract from the natural surroundings.

For more information, please visit

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

Friday, May 31, 2019

4 Tips to Help You Know When to Upsize or Downsize

By Meghan Belnap
Are you considering moving to a new home? Perhaps, you think a change will make everyone happier and help you keep up with the cost and upkeep of homeownership.
Right-sizing is a common term used to describe the process of choosing a home to fit your current needs. Here are four ways to tell that it's time to make the switch and look into purchasing a home that's better suited to your current situation:

More cleaning than you have time for

No one wants to spend a ton of free time scrubbing, sweeping, mopping and caring for a home. Consider how and where you're comfortable at home. According to Quicken Loans, many people spend most of their time in a few key spaces like the bedroom and kitchen. If you’re spending more time cleaning than living, you either don't have enough people cleaning—or you have too much space for the amount of living you do.

Too much or not enough lawn

With family, friends, work, extracurricular activities and cleaning house, the yard is one part of a property that many people don't have time to care for consistently. Other people love spending an hour or so in the garden each day or sipping a cup of coffee while the sun is coming up. Finding the right space to let you entertain, relax after a hard day or give the kids room to safely burn off some energy is important. Considering low-maintenance options and how often the family uses the outdoor space can help you decide if now is the time to buy a different home.

Too many children in one room

When you have several younger children, space is always an issue. When the kids grow up, things change—including the size of the home needed. Sellers can help prospective buyers find a property that's perfect for their current needs. Whether you're adding members, or the family dynamic is shifting so there are fewer people in the home, the size of the house is a big deal.

Kitchen space for the whole family

No one likes crowding into a tight space for dinners or special occasions like birthday parties and graduation celebrations. It's also tough to sit in a huge kitchen by yourself thinking about how much cleaning is necessary or the additional cost to remodel a huge space when there are only two or three people in the home. Right-sizing can help you discover the best property for your household after big changes like an elderly parent moving in, the kids going off to college, or several grandchildren coming along.
Thinking about recent life changes can help homeowners decide when it's time to make a move. Keeping your finances, life plans and schedule on track isn't always easy when you're living in a home that's too small or big for your present needs. As families evolve, mortgage fees, maintenance costs and time to care for the property become even more important.

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

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

5 Minor Home Upgrades for a Limited Budget

By Brentnie Daggett
If only your budget were as expansive as your imagination. We've all spent time daydreaming about how we would improve our homes if we had the time and money for a complete renovation. Grand kitchens, laundry rooms, in-ground swimming pools and walk-in closets top the dream home wish list for many.
If you don't have the budget, time, or energy to remodel your home, there are many small projects you can take on that will improve the look and function of your home without breaking the bank. If and when it comes time to sell, these minor upgrades can also add value to your property, potentially maximizing your return:
New Cabinet Hardware
You might not be ready to tackle an entire kitchen remodel, but swapping out the hardware on your cabinets and drawers is an inexpensive cosmetic change that will update the look of your space immediately. Old, outdated hardware can make the home's age more obvious. Look for a sleek and modern alternative that suits your taste and will be appealing even after the latest trend has passed.
If you're looking for something unique, hardware these days comes in a variety of materials, including leather pulls, acrylic and metal combinations, stone, and more. As long as you keep it tasteful, new cabinet hardware is a cheap investment with a high return.
Updated Faucets
Faucets are one of the fixtures that quickly show their age, yet we tend to forget that they're fairly easy to replace. Over time, faucets become dull and tarnished from constant use. Brighten up your bathroom or kitchen with an attractive, modern upgrade.
Figure out the configuration and mounting type of your current faucet to ensure you choose the right option. The existing holes in your sink, the material and thickness of your countertop, and your budget will all play a role in selecting new fixtures. Take a trip to your local hardware store and find a model that will work for you while still playing nicely with the style of your kitchen or bathroom. If you're replacing multiple fixtures throughout the home, look into ordering them in bulk online. There are instructions on how to complete the installation yourself if you don't want to hire help.
Modern Light Fixtures
One of the easiest ways to update the feel of a room is by replacing the light fixtures. This quick fix can add color and intrigue to any space and can update the lighting of the entire room depending on which fixture and light bulb you choose.
You can replace many ceiling-mount light fixtures without the need for rewiring, which means you'll be done with this project in less than an hour. Browse online or in your local home decor store for modern fixtures that agree with the look and feel of your home. Once you have your supplies, unscrew the old fixtures and replace them.
A Fresh Coat of Paint
A simple coat of paint can upgrade countless areas throughout your home—walls, cabinets, doors, trim, etc. Even if you aren't changing the color of the paint, a fresh coat can brighten things up and erase any wear and tear that may have occurred over time. Painting projects can be adjusted to fit any budget, as you can tackle them yourself or hire professionals.
Of course, there are a few tricks to ensuring a good paint job. You don't want your DIY project to leave you in a worse position than when you started. For whichever surface you're painting, be sure to research best practices in order to make it look professional.
Low-Cost Flooring
Flooring has one of the widest pricing ranges in home improvement projects due to the variety of options. Maybe you don't have the budget to redo the flooring throughout your entire house, but even minimal updates can have a dramatic impact on your home and its resale value.
Consider replacing particularly damaged or worn areas such as the kitchen, bathroom, mudroom or laundry room with laminate flooring options. There are many options in terms of style, from tile to hardwood. This material is durable to most wear and tear and relatively simple to install.
No matter the size of the project you decide to undertake, make sure to educate yourself completely on each step of the process, take your time and plan ahead. The old adage "measure twice, cut once" is a good rule of thumb. Maybe tackle a smaller project first and then move onto a larger task. You'll feel a sense of accomplishment every time you walk into your home.

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

Sunday, May 26, 2019

Living the American Dream, Ranked by City

by Zoe Eisenberg
Which city in the country is best for living the American Dream? A new study by SmartAsset analyzes just that—which city best offers its residents the ability to become a homeowner? To figure this out, SmartAsset broke down five key metrics: homeownership rate, diversity rate, upward mobility rate, median home value and unemployment rate.
Overall, the answers may surprise you. Aurora, Ill., ranked No. 1 this year, switching places with last year's reigning champion, West Valley City, Utah. In 2018, Aurora took fourth place.
Cities in Texas snagged four of the top 10 spots, with Odessa landing No. 2, and Midland coming in at No. 3. Furthermore, nine additional Texas cities made it into the top 25!
California doesn't enter the rankings until spot 15 with San Jose, the one and only ranking for the state, and New England is nowhere to be found. Here are the top 25 cities for living the American Dream:

For more information, visit SmartAsset's full findings.

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

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Love or Lust: 7 Ways to Know a House Is the One

By Adam Slivka
Whether you're a first-time homebuyer or looking for your forever home, purchasing a house can be a daunting task and the fear of buyer's remorse can cause serious anxiety.
How do I know this house is right for me? What should I be considering when purchasing? How do I avoid the dreaded buyer's remorse? These are all valid questions one could ask before entering into a purchase or sale agreement.
Here are some things you'll want to consider before making that decision:
Can I afford it?
Nothing is more disappointing than finding your dream home just to be told by the mortgage company that it's out of your price range.
Before venturing into the real estate market, have an in-depth look at your financial state and meet with a mortgage broker or bank representative to obtain an accurate number for purchase. This will help you to avoid heartache and allow you to consider real options versus something that's not feasible because of your budget.
Does this house meet my must-haves?
When considering homes for purchase, it's a good idea to make a list of your must-haves. Features such as number of bedrooms and bathrooms should be high on that list.
Things such as walk-in closets, an ensuite and lot size might be negotiable; however, if you're unwilling to compromise on certain amenities, be sure to only look at properties that offer them.
Is this property in the right area?
Whether it's a certain desired neighborhood or area of town, narrowing down where you want to live is crucial. Finding a perfect house that adds an additional half-hour to your commute can lead to disappointment—it may seem like no big deal, but it can easily turn into a major hassle.
Research the area you're considering. Are there parks? Trails? Do I add time to my commute? Am I near amenities important to me and my family? Questions like these will help determine if you're looking in the area that will best suit your needs.
Is this house right for my future?
For young couples, single buyers and small families especially, it's vital to ask yourself if this is a home you can grow into. What is your five-, 10- or even 15-year plan? Do I want to start a family here? If your answer is yes, then the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, as well as separate living space, are all things to take note of.
If not, you may want to consider resaleability when purchasing, especially if you are a first-time buyer. Having a home that you'll have no trouble reselling is peace of mind for the future.
Is there potential?
Many properties on today's market have good bones; however, the style or overall interior may not be exactly what you had in mind.
Is the structure solid? Are renovations an option? Will I be able to get the required permits for additions or structural changes? If your goal is to do some major overhauling, inquiring with the proper city officials will save you money and frustration.
You slept on it.
It's easy to get swept up in the excitement when walking through a potential new home. Emotions have a way of taking over and what might seem like the perfect property could be anything but after a day or two of thinking it over.
Although houses are moving fast and the market is competitive, carefully thinking about the decision and discussing it with your partner or family will ensure that everyone is on the same page and there are no second thoughts come closing day.
You can feel it.
Trust your gut when something feels off about a house. You'll know a house is right for you and your future by the feelings you have while looking at it, walking through it and when it comes time to move in.
If you're trying to convince yourself a house will work or that you love it, chances are it won't and you don't. At the end of the day, trusting your instincts will guide you to the perfect house while helping you avoid the ones that aren't.

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