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Here's Why Montclair's New Hotels Are Good News for Home-Buyers

I often tell my clients that Montclair has everything they need — top-rated restaurants, an indie movie theater, a concert venue, parks and hiking trails, public pools and tennis courts, public gardens, an art museum, a jazz clubtea shops, coffee shops, ice cream shops and just plain shopping galore

But there’s one thing we haven’t had: a hotel.

As of next month, that will change. Montclair resident and celebrity make-up artist Bobbi Brown has converted a turn-of-the-century inn into a the town’s first boutique hotel. In fact, the forthcoming George Inn was featured in January’s Vogue magazine, along with some of my favorite local haunts – namely my go-to for sushi: Dai Kichi

On its heels will be a more traditional hotel right in the heart of downtown Montclair. The still-under-construction MC will be a luxury Marriot hotel that is also slated to open sometime this year. Both will provide guests the walkable experience of Montclair that we who live here so love. 

I couldn’t be more excited about these much needed additions, especially for home-buyers. When you know there are wonderful accommodations for your guests right in the neighborhood, you have more options in your home search. You can purchase something smaller, foregoing that extra bedroom. Or you can go ahead and commit the sun-room to a home office without alienating the in-laws.

If you’re coming from far off to give Montclair a look, The George will provide you lavish quarters while you’re here. Once it opens in March, we really will have everything we need.

Montclair to Montclair - There's No Place Like Home

These clients thought they'd need to leave Montclair to find the home they dreamed of. 

“David and I lived in the Bay Area for seven years, before coming back east to be near my parents when our daughter was born. I picked Montclair because it reminded me of the Upper West Side, where I grew up. 

We bought a unit in a side-by-side duplex and became very close to the family on the other side. We shared an interior wall, but also shared the driveway, the backyard, and the maintenance of the property. It was like a little commune – we even grew vegetables together! Eventually, though, we needed more space. So David and I decided to move back out west.

We’d first met Lina through our duplex neighbors and she knew what we were struggling with – loving this community, but needing a bigger place of our own. She understood all the factors that made Oregon seem like a better choice for us than Montclair. One day, out of the blue, she called and said, “I have the perfect house for you!” And she did.

I do not consider myself a religious person, but the way everything turned out was nothing short of miraculous. The new house was everything we were looking for and addressed almost every issue – issues that that had, earlier, seemed insurmountable. We were able to stay in this vibrant, creative community, and a major reason for that was Lina. She is so knowledgeable about every single aspect of the home-buying process that, each time an obstacle emerged (and unfortunately there were many), she was able to solve it. From top notch negotiation skills to being extremely well-versed in all aspects of financing, she went above and beyond when it came to helping us be able to purchase our perfect house and live in this community we adore.”

Arielle Eckstut, Montclair

A New Year, A New Listing

13 White St in West Orange is my first listing to kick off 2018.  While it came on the market back in December I think most people were too busy preparing for the holidays to realize that this little gem slipped in.

This 3 Bedroom, 2 Bathroom renovated colonial is right where all the action is.  Across the street from Llewellyn Park, steps to the Main Street Hardware Store and the heart of downtown West Orange you can walk to restaurants, entertainment, the West Orange Public Library and Thomas Edison National Park.

 

 

 

 

 

 

                                           

The house boasts a NEW open concept kitchen with stainless steel appliances, granite counters and marble tile floors.  NEW bathrooms; one with a Jacuzzi tub and updated plumbing & electric are just a few of the features this home has to offer.  Not to be overlooked is a deep back yard to house all of your friends and family for warm weather BBQ’s and entertaining.  Did I mention low taxes?

Come to the Open House this weekend on Saturday 1/6 from 12 – 2, or give me a call to set up a private showing; I’d love to show you around! 

Montclair: Walkable and Skateable

As I write this, the snow is falling outside my window, blanketing my bluestone patio and starting to coat the bushes in the backyard. It will snow for hours, and it will be beautiful.

The new year started cold. I don’t mind the cold, as long as I have a warm house with a fire to return to. Still, my first thought was: “How long until spring?” I’m not a big “resolution” maker, but one thing I want to try and do more of this year is notice what’s beautiful, and take the time to really take it in.

As I was driving past Edgemont Park yesterday, I did just that. 

Situated in the center of Montclair, Edgemont is one of the beautiful year-round gems of this town. Majestic trees, renovated playground, big fountain in the middle of the graceful pond. But when it gets cold — very cold — it turns into something right out of the Saturday Evening Post.

The pond doesn’t freeze solid every year, but when it does, it’s magical. The ice becomes thick enough to skate on and suddenly, the park is transformed. People come from all over town to skate Edgemont Pond, gliding past the statue or zipping around with hockey sticks, aiming at one of the goals that someone has hauled over in their SUV.  There have been years when the town provides hot chocolate on the bank of the pond — the type of memory many of us have from when we were kids. The type of memory many of us dream of for our own children.

I used to live right across the street from that pond. In fact, I taught all three of my children to skate at Edgemont. One thing I’ll admit, however, is that sometimes I took that magical view for granted. I love my new home, but my backyard is not a Norman Rockwell. 

Some clients are reluctant to put their homes on the market in the winter. They think their house will show better in the spring. But the cold has its own beauty, and there are plenty of great reasons to list before the spring thaw — the main one being less competition in the marketplace. If you’re thinking of selling — or buying — right now, give me a call. I’d love to take you through more of this beautiful place and time.

Photo credit: Michael Stahl at Portraits by Michael Stahl

 

Tag, You're It!

Most people I talk to have some kind of relationship with Facebook – they love it, or hate it, or…it’s complicated. I’m a Facebook enthusiast. My business page is a great, easy way to disseminate information about real estate issues; community pages provide quick access to all the local goings on; and local “swap” pages allow my clients to get rid of some of their excess stuff before putting their homes on the market. 

But nothing quite compares to the Facebook moments where I’ve found myself “tagged” in someone’s post and then gone on to read a comment like this one:

“If you want someone super smart, who doesn’t just know the market but has fully analyzed it (she has an MBA) AND who knows everything about things like the value of your particular boiler, then please choose Paulina “Lina” Panza – Walkable Suburb. I’ve sold a home and bought a home with her, my mother just bought a home with Lina, and one of my closest friends bought and sold with her. She is amazing.” 

Reading that felt great. 

If you know me at all, you know that it’s not really my style to point out a comment like this, but I’m biting the bullet today because I think it’s important for every buyer and seller to know that picking an agent to work with can be complicated – and checking out an agent’s areas of expertise can provide you with a partner that goes beyond merely showing homes and negotiating contracts. 

First, I just want to go on record as saying I do not know the exact value of every particular boiler off the top of my head. But I usually get pretty close. I do not consider this a superpower as much as the result of my innate interest in houses and homes. My father, Paul Weidlinger, was a noteworthy architect and engineer – designing and teaching design at some of the world’s most respected universities. So, maybe it’s in my DNA. But the fact is, I was brought up by a man that saw the world through the eyes of a structural problem-solver. I think this is what led me to study architecture as an undergrad, and also what fostered my lifelong passion for understanding the structural aspects of renovation.

Meaning: when I walk through homes with my clients, we can really get into what kind of changes can be made and how. 

Helping people find their right home – and helping them make their home right for them – are two things I love spending my time doing. If you or someone you know could benefit from my expertise and passion, give me a call. I can help you find (or create!) the house of your dreams!

Gratitude for Jodi Aishton (and Pie!)

As Thanksgiving approaches, I (like most) spend a lot of time thinking about food, but even more time thinking about all I’m grateful for. Work-wise, I immediately think of the people who have entrusted me to help them buy or sell their homes. (Thank you!) And my colleagues, who offer advice and guidance when I’m faced with a challenging real estate situation. (Thank you!) And, of course, the friends and former clients who refer me to people. (Thank you!)

But always at the top of that thanking list is Jodi Aishton. I seriously could not get through a single day without her.

My office-mate, Tamima, and I have “shared” an assistant for years. The woman who held that position previously was amazing – 30 years of real estate experience and the ability to anticipate our every need. When she left, we never thought we would find someone to fill her shoes.

Then, about eight months ago, Tamima happened upon Jodi at a fundraising committee meeting at their temple. Back in our office, Tamima said, “I met someone who would be a great real estate administrator -- if only she knew something about real estate.”

If you have ever bought or sold a home, you’re familiar with the vast number of details required to see a real estate transaction from contract to closing. Appraisals, inspections, paperwork sent here and there. Everything needs to happen by a certain time, and Jodi seamlessly manages it all.

She designs our postcards and brochures, gets them printed, coordinates photography shoots and attorney meetings. I am in awe of how she can set up six different Saturday showings that not only accommodate schedules of buyer and sellers, but also plan it all around the most efficient driving route. Working with her is like having our own personal 5-star app!

I know Thanksgiving is a holiday for “family,” but in the short time she’s been with us, Jodi has become family, and I am so incredibly thankful for that. Because of Jodi, I can serve my clients better. And because of Jodi, our office runs smooth as a pumpkin pie. 

(See how I moved right back to food?!)

And speaking of smooth pumpkin pie, The Pie Store on Watchung Avenue makes one of the smoothest.  

Happy Thanksgiving to you and those you cherish.

My Trip to the Montclair Farmer's Market

A few weeks ago, I was headed to Brooklyn for my brother’s 50th birthday, and on my way, I stopped at Little Daisy’s Bake Shop to pick up a birthday cake and some cookies for the occasion. Before I got on the highway, I decided to swing by the Montclair Farmer’s Market -- a regular Saturday destination, although usually one that I hit on my way home, not on my way out of town. 

I can’t really explain what came over me, but the next thing I knew, I was buying my brother Brussels sprouts. For his birthday. I’d never given my brother vegetables as a gift before. I don’t think I’d ever gifted vegetables to anyone. But when I saw the giant stalk with funny little cabbages hanging from it, it seemed so preposterous and funny. (Carrots aren’t funny, certainly not in the same way.)

I left the Farmer’s Market not even considering how I might present the Brussels sprouts. None of the farmers seemed to have gift wrap, so I just brought them along naked with the bakery confections. 

If you’re looking for gifts, the Farmer’s Market has plenty of more traditional fare: pies, local honey, granola, plants, and flowers. Sometimes they have shearling throws and often they have a variety of interesting spices. I love the fishmonger and the fresh-baked bread, and I’m also kind of a sucker for the pickles-on-a-stick. That was an idea whose time could not have come soon enough for me!

In the years since I’ve moved here, the Farmer’s Market has grown into a true marketplace, where people come to meet and gather. It’s like a party. And the Walnut Street eateries complete the scene, with Montclair Bread Company, Gina’s Bakery, Le Salbuen, Ray’s, Red Eye Café, The Spot, The Corner, and Egan’s offering all manner of delectable fare. 

For me, the Farmer’s Market was a happy pit stop that Saturday, but it’s a ritual destination for many every Saturday. I love seeing people walk and bike there from all over town – singles, couples, families, pets. If you’re coming to check out Montclair one Saturday, try and stop by. The offerings may not make you laugh, but I bet they'll make you happy.

Montclair Farmer’s Market
Walnut Street Train Station Parking Lot
Saturdays  8 a.m. until 2 p.m.
June through November
And some vendors stay throughout the year!

 

Queens to West Orange - We're 2 minutes from the New York bus!

We moved to this house about 10 months ago from Queens. I grew up in New Jersey but my husband was born and raised in Queens so this move was a big leap of faith for him. We had been renting, started looking to buy, and quickly discovered that the $450,000 we were considering spending on a 1-bedroom in Queens could get us a house in New Jersey.

We started looking in Maplewood and South Orange because they were on a train line, but Lina showed us some homes in West Orange in the same price range that were bigger and had more updates. Our house is 2 minutes from the New York bus – it’s super easy and in some ways more reliable than the train!

I love being in West Orange. Getting around is simple. The schools are great. There are plenty of parks and activities – including the zoo! – and we are constantly taking our two young children with us on hikes in South Mountain or Eagle Rock Reservations, or out to visit farms in New Jersey.

I love the proximity to Livingston and Montclair – two places we often go out to dinner or to shop. I love our neighborhood, which happens to be full of people like us – young families who moved from the city for more space. But mostly, I love walking into a house with a new kitchen and a finished basement. I’m excited to come home every day.

My friends come to visit from the city and they are shocked at the amount of space we have. I tell them, “You can have this too!”

 - Mary Kate, West Orange

New To The Market: 71 Beach Street, Bloomfield

Have you heard of the "Historic District," in Bloomfield?!  It's tucked away yet close to everything.  Classic colonials and Victorians, wide lots with mature trees and gardens abound on streets with names like Beach, Elm, Oak and Spruce.  This part of town feels more like Glen Ridge or Montclair than the rest of Bloomfield.

71 Beach St is my newest listing in this friendly neighborhood.  As soon as you pull up to the front of this charming property,  you feel like you're miles away from the downtown hustle and bustle, (but really you're just steps from shops, restaurants and NYC transportation).  Oversized bay windows and a well maintained garden in the front welcome you in to an easy flowing center hall colonial.  The living room boasts built-in bookcases, a colonial style mantle surrounding a wood burning fireplace.  Off of the living room is a French door leading to a private screened in porch with a paver stone patio and a lovely private yard with more lush greenery.

Walk out of this home and you're a few steps away from the Bloomfield Public Library, High School and College.  Bloomfield and Glen Ridge train stations are also a quick stroll away and with a 29 minute train ride, you'll be in midtown Manhattan before you even have a chance to doze off. 

Charm and convenience in one turn of a key.  This one is going to go fast! 

Come to the Open House Sunday, October 29th, or we can set up a private viewing by appointment.  Call me - I'd love to take you around!

Montclair - No Shortage of Porches

“Look at that porch!” says practically every client on our first tour of the town. “Oh, look at that one!”

Montclair and Glenridge are full of porches, and it stands to reason that my clients moving from the city would be drawn to them. A porch is the suburban version of a front stoop – it’s a way to be at home and be out in the world at the same time.

But it’s not just city dwellers who are drawn to porches. The National Association of Home Builders said earlier this month that of the 780,000 single family home constructions started last year, over 65% of them included porches – 10% more than a decade ago.

To me, there’s nothing better than a porch with a roof. I can’t think of many things as relaxing as an early autumn Sunday morning – watching the leaves dance around the yard or even listening to the rain – while sipping coffee in a big-cushioned chair on a cool, dry porch. I’ve seen many homeowners add a front porch and it completely transforms the feeling of the house. It just seems more welcoming.

A gracious front porch can be set up like a second living room, with rugs, table lamps, and ceiling fans. I have a friend who keeps a tea cart on her porch; it’s always stocked with glasses and an ice bucket for an impromptu evening gathering. Someone shows up with a bottle of wine and suddenly it’s a get-together. She says it’s been a great way to get to know her neighbors.

As you can tell, I’m pro-porch, even though I don’t have one of my own. But in this walkable suburb, I feel as though I benefit from the porches of others – for an evening chat or just a walk-by wave. It one of the many things that make a bustling town like Montclair truly feel like a tight community.