Keeping Current Matters

National Association of Realtors

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

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.
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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