Montclair

New Listing: 12 Yale Terrace, Montclair - Walkable to Everything!

I love this bright, welcoming home. It’s one of my favorite neighborhoods and the whole block just feels good to walk down. Four bedrooms, 3 full baths, family room, deck, beautiful hardwood floors, AC, 2-car garage, lovely yard with sprinkler system.

If walkability were an Olympic sport, this house would get all 10s! This home is steps away from the train, bus (DeCamp 66), schools, banks, post office, bagels, book store, hardware store, clothing shops, restaurants, hair and nail salons, fitness studios, and one of my very favorite sandwich shops. There’s also a new coffee house that has already distinguished itself as “the place for coffee.”

Please stop by my OPEN HOUSE: 12 Yale Terrace, Montclair --  Sunday, May 14 between 1:00 and 4:00 p.m.  

Offered at $689,000. This home will not last, and I’d love for you to see it!

Stepping Out For A Movie ? The Magical Montclair Film Festival

There are plenty of things I’m proud of about Montclair. We have a magnet school system that is held up as a national model of how to provide integrated education in a diverse town. We have a volunteer-run online message board that allows thousands of people to provide  recommendations for services or help find the owner of a lost dog. We have an adult school that makes lessons about everything from interview skills to Qigong available to everyone in the community. This is a town that strives to bring people together, and it's a place where people want to be together. One of my favorite examples of this is the Montclair Film Festival.

For 10 days in May, Montclair turns into Movie Heaven. There are screenings everywhere, practically all the time – films that have been at Sundance as well as home-grown gems. The number of people who turn out to volunteer – as ushers, ticket takers, etc. – is amazing. It makes going to the movies a bigger, funner event.

On opening night, I went with friends to see “Step,” a documentary about teen girls from Baltimore whose step dance classes transformed their lives. This is the type of movie that I love, a story that reminds us how strong we can be when we band together for a common goal. There were live steppers who performed before the film and then afterwards, two people from the movie took the stage and spoke. And even though we were at the Wellmont Theater, probably the largest venue at the festival, it felt very intimate. We were all touched.

Before the show, my friends and I had dinner at one of Montclair’s newest additions: The Crosby on Glenridge Avenue. The place was hopping and it was only a short walk to the theater – another thing I love about this town that I may have mentioned once or twice.

So many of my clients come from the city at a time in their lives when they want a bit more space of their own, or maybe to grab a little privacy. But they come here because they want to feel a part of something too. And I’m so proud that Montclair can provide all of that. I don’t think I’m being overzealous when I give us five stars.

 

Montclair New Jersey: Your Vibe? Your Tribe?

As a destination suburb, It’s not unusual to find an article that features Montclair in the New York Times real estate section. But it’s not often that I come across two pieces on the same day.  

The first — How to Pick the Right New York City Suburb — is about how to “get the vibe” and “find your tribe” when you’re looking to move out of the city. I have long suggested to my clients to spend time here — as much time as you can manage — before committing to a home. Visit the schools, or better yet, take in a performance at one of the schools. As a magnet school district, families “request” particular elementary schools for their children, and each school is theme-based. If you have a little one who is drawn to the stage, there are plenty of stages here for him or her!

Last weekend was the Dance Show at the high school, which was simply outstanding.

This coming weekend is the first Montclair Literary Festival. As a town full of writers (and readers), it not only makes perfect sense to launch an event around the written word, it’s a bit surprising no one has done it until now.

The second piece  — Suburban? Just Don’t Call Her a “Jersey Girl” — reads like an ode to Montclair. A New York Times writer somewhat reluctantly left Brooklyn and, drawn here by the vibe and her tribe, goes on to name practically every amazing thing about living here.

Jodi Rudorun writes, “Maybe I’m just kidding myself, but I see Montclair as a city person’s suburb. It is filled with some 85 restaurants, ethnic and cheffy and twee. Fast-food chains are banned, and the Saturday farmers’ market goes year-round. We have an art museum (where my daughter went to digital photography and green-screen camp) and a film festival (through which my husband teaches improv). There are no cul-de-sacs or cookie-cutter developments; Montclair became a township in 1868, so our hundred-year-old home is in good company.”

If any of that sounds like your vibe or your tribe, let me show you around…or give you some ideas about how to spend some time here. I love to educate people about this special town.

Get Healthy: Run Your Errands in a Walkable Suburb

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I live about a mile from the drug store. A post office and a Starbucks are across the street. One block north is one of my favorite gift shops.

When I walk "uptown" to run some errands, it absolutely takes more time than if I drive. But the experience is 100 times better.

I love looking at people's gardens on my way to do my errands. I'm a sucker for pretty flowers - they remind me to pay attention to what's beautiful in the world.

I'm also bound to run into friends or acquaintances on my way there or back. We may not have time to sit and catch up over coffee, but a spontaneous 15-minute chat in front of the firehouse can be almost as soul-filling.

Plus, when I walk, my body feels better. Soaking up some sunshine, moving rather than sitting, taking in the fresh air. Turns out all the things my grandmother told me were good for me really are.

The medical community says when we're running our errands on bikes or on foot, we're healthier. When I do it, I'm happier.

With 7 train stations, myriad bus stops, 5 distinct retail centers and several more smaller clusters of shops, restaurants and services, Montclair offers plenty of opportunities to show up on foot. Wherever you live, there's always somewhere to walk.

If you want to find out more about this Walkable Suburb or even take a walk around town with me, please call! 973.809.5277

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New Listing: 182 Alexander Ave. Upper Montclair

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Sometimes Things Go Sideways

One thing I love about this area is how individual the homes are. Even within broad categories like Colonial or Tudor, there are so many variations. And even within all that individuality resides an extremely small subcategory.

I'm talking now about the Sideways House.

Sideways Houses are homes that have been built so the front entrance faces the side yard, rather than the street. This orientation gives the home a decidedly Country House feel, as it overlooks only landscaping. From the inside, Sideways Houses tend to feel very private and secluded, even though they might be smack dab in the middle of a neighborhood.

And that's exactly the case for this wonderful 5-bedroom 2-full/2-half bath home in beautiful Upper Montclair. Wonderful because it looks out on a big, open yard, wonderful because it offers a coveted wrap-around porch, and wonderful because the renovated kitchen has an unusually "artsy" vibe, featuring a large custom banquette for lazy Sunday brunches with family and friends.

Other features include: oversized rooms, central air conditioning, newly renovated, ensuite master bathroom,

This home is a 3-minute walk to the New York City bus; the train station about a 10-minute walk. It's also located at the Northern end of town, with quick and easy access to the highway.

Because they're so few and far between, Sideways Houses don't come on the market very often.

Priced at $799,000, this special house will not last. If you're looking for a wonderful family home in a remarkable community, please call me and let me show you the magic of Sideways Living.  973.809.5277 

Montclair Fireworks and Footpaths

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My mother grew up in Copenhagen near the Tivoli Gardens where there are fireworks every Saturday night. It was a source of great joy to her and I think she "infected" me because, come July 4th Weekend, there's nothing I'd rather do than sit back and watch the sky explode.

When I first moved here, the town fireworks display took place at the high school football stadium. My young family could easily walk there - it was about a mile away if you drove on the streets but the walk was made easier by some of the "shortcuts" between my house and the field.

When my kids were young, we referred to these shortcuts as "secret pathways," but with their own street markers, they are anything but. These little paved footways were created so that people walking to the bus or train didn't have to go all the way around a long block to reach the bus line. They allow you to "cut through," as if you were going through someone's backyard to take a more direct route to the bus line. There are about half a dozen of these little corridors throughout Montclair, and if you live in the middle of one of the longer avenues, they can cut your walking time in half.

We used to call them secret pathways because we often discovered them accidentally, while on a walk. This has been one of my great joys - discovering the quiet amenities of a town that upholds a commitment to walkability.

The fireworks have moved from the high school stadium to the stadium at Montclair State University - too far for us to walk, although there are always non-car options. That show always takes place on July 4th. There's another show each year at Brookdale Park - this year it's on Friday, July 1st. I, of course, go to both, because I can't get enough fireworks. If you're like that too, here's a list of all the surrounding fireworks shows this weekend.

And if you want a tour of Secret Pathways, or to talk about any of the other ways Montclair rules as a walkable suburb, please call me. It would be my pleasure to walk you through them! 973.809.5277

 

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4 Ways to Avoid Paying Too Much for a House in Montclair

Version 2Right now in Montclair, houses are selling for 103% of asking price. Meaning: on average, most sellers are getting 3 percent more than they list their home for. This is great for sellers! But how do buyers protect themselves from considerably overpaying for a house?

I tell my clients there are four things to seriously consider when buying.

1 - Understand the Market Conditions Most of us are familiar with the concept of supply and demand: The fewer there are of something, coupled with the more people who want the thing, the more expensive the thing is likely to be. In housing, this can be a function of many variables, but I advise buyers to become familiar with the Buyer to Seller Ratio and the Absorption Rate.

The current Buyer to Seller Ratio in Montclair is 37/100, or for every 100 sellers, there are 37 buyers. That's a lot of buyers for not much housing selection, which means the prices of "desirable" properties are likely to be bid way up.

The Absorption Rate right now is 2.7 months, which means that if no new houses come on the market, the current number of homes will sell out in less than 3 months. An Absorption Rate of under 6 months means that home prices are appreciating; under 3 months means that prices are escalating at approximately half a percent per month. In practical terms: if you bid on a house and lose it, by the time you put in a bid for the next house, it could be 1-2 percent more than it would have sold for a couple of months ago.

The lesson here is, if you find a great house in a rising market, don't underbid. You may end up paying more in the long run.

2 - It's Not Only About Price When you have to compete for a house, you can make your offer stronger by adjusting some of the terms in your contract. If you are savvy about home systems or have family who are in the trades, you might consider waiving your inspection contingency. This can be attractive to sellers for two reasons. 1. They know they won't be nickel-and-dimed for multiple repairs, and 2. They do not have to be bothered with estimates and scheduling contractors.

If you have the liquidity and you don't need a mortgage, you can make a cash offer, and waive you mortgage contingency, but you will likely have to show "proof of funds." Be mindful, however, that in the absence of a mortgage you will not need a bank appraisal, a measure that ensures that the bank is not loaning on a house for far more money than it's worth.

You can also increase the chances of your offer being accepted by writing a letter to the owners - sometimes an emotional appeal for a beloved house makes you a more popular candidate, especially if the seller has a home that's been in the family for years and is looking for just the right steward.

3 - Be Aware of Escalation Clauses and Buyer Fatigue Obviously, if you significantly overbid, you may get the house, but you'll be stuck with a big price tag. Some buyers include an Escalation Clause in their offer - agreeing to pay, say, $5,000 over the highest bidder. This can work well for some, but it wrests a lot of control from the buyer and often results in Buyer's Remorse, so most seller's agents advise against it.

If you underbid consistently, you put yourself at risk for Buyer Fatigue. You've lost 10 houses and a contender comes along and, no matter what, you will NOT lose this house. I don't have to tell you what happens in this scenario. Suffice it to say: you get your house, but at what cost?

4 - Make Your Offer Based on Your Expected Residency If you pay a bit more for a home than it's technically worth, you will feel it much more acutely if you're planning to put it back on the market in 5 years. However, if you're planning to stay for the long haul, and can ride out market conditions and amortize your investment, most consider the extra money far less of a "real" concern.

One of the things my clients seem to like about me is my interest in educating them about the housing market - in addition to finding them a great home. If you'd like to learn more or have questions about Absorption Rates and Buyer/Seller ratios in other towns- call me! 973.809.5277

May in Montclair 2016!

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I'm practically breathless, and it's not from the pollen. May in Montclair is in full bloom and there is truly not enough time in my days for it all.

"May in Montclair" is not simply a town during the spring. "May in Montclair" became a "thing," in 1979, when the town first distributed a calendar of events listing everything to see and do. From the Presby Iris Gardens to the blossoming Van Vleck estate, it's a month-long celebration of one of the most beautiful places in New Jersey during one of its most beautiful moments in time.

Do I already sound like a commercial? It may get worse.

As I write this, we're in the middle of the Montclair Film Festival, a 10-day extravaganza of screenings, discussions and parties that has grown so much since its inception in 2012,  it's hard to believe it hasn't been part of May in Montclair forever.

There are parent workshops, lectures, lunches, garden tours, walking tours, dance performances, choral performances, cooking demos, book sales, art talks and art walks. And garden events galore!

Also, over the next two weekends, the high school is staging Pippen on Friday and Saturday nights. Aside from being a wonderful show, this is a great way for parents to get a sense of the amazing arts education available in the district.

There's a bike tour and dining alfresco and Saturday night music on Church Street - and even though that kind of thing happens even in non-May months - well, it just feels more special in May.

If you're considering buying here, please spend some of your May in Montclair. It's like seeing our town in its most flattering outfit and having its best possible hair day. I know you know what I'm talking about. Dig in!

Montclair, NJ School Tours Start Soon!

There's so much to say about the Montclair Public SchoolMontclair School M system, it's hard to know where to start. It's a magnet system, with six elementary schools (technically seven, but one pair together comprises K-5th) and three middle schools that all ultimately funnel into a single high school. Children don't automatically attend the closest, neighborhood school, but rather submit their school preference in rank order. Almost all are granted their first or second choice.

This is an incredible system that was initiated decades ago to integrate the schools. Each elementary school has a magnet theme - STEM, Montessori, Gifted and Talented, Environmental Studies, etc. - in addition to its district-wide offerings, so while they all provide the same curriculum, they all have a slightly different vibe.

When a child starts school in this district, the family fills out a Placement Request Form. In order to help families become familiar with the schools, there are a few weeks in March where parents and kids can tour the schools. Also, this year, there are Virtual Tours available, where each elementary and middle school is showcased in a 2-4 minute video.

I sometimes jokingly refer to this process as the Tyranny of Choice. For me, it's like going to a diner hungry and having too many yummy options on the menu. When we came to Montclair, I could literally see one of the elementary schools from my house. Charming and unbelievably close, this was not the school we ended up requesting. We thought my son would thrive more at a different (larger) school and also our school of choice had a later start time and provided busing, something I came to cherish as I started working more. (I know...me...the Walkability Queen!)

I have lots of information about the schools -- as a real estate agent, a community member, and a parent who has watched three kids rise through many of them. My clients say I am a wealth of information, and I'm always delighted to share the wealth. Call me! 973.809.5277

4 Things Every Home Buyer Should Know About Montclair

As a real estate agent, and a person who loves living in Montclair, much of what I talk about focuses on the experience of being here (and walking here!). But there's plenty to know about the landscape of Montclair when buying a home, and here I'm not talking about lawns and shrubbery.

  1. Montclair homes appreciated 8 percent in 2015. I tell my clients all the time: do not look at your home as an investment. This is because there are so many factors that affect the market. I advise my clients to buy in a place that they love. Still, it's always great to hear that your home has gone up in value.
  2. On average, Montclair homes sell for 4 percent over list price. This is good information to have when you're about to make an offer. When montclair-welcomeyou do find the home you love, an experienced agent can guide you both through buying trend data and personal knowledge of the market.
  3. Currently, the median price of a home in Montclair is $600,000. This comes as a surprise to many buyers who think Montclair is out of their price range. I can show you houses in wonderful neighborhoods, whatever your budget is.
  4. The average time to sell a house in Montclair is 41 days. Knowing this helps set up realistic expectations if you're selling, but it's also useful information for buyers as well. Houses here don't tend to linger. If you see something that speaks to you, act on it. Don't snooze and lose.

The most consistent piece of feedback I get from clients is how well I'm able to educate them about all aspects of home buying and selling. It's one of my favorite things about my job. So if you want to talk about what your home is worth, or how to strategize your next move - or even if you just want to walk around and take in the landscape - call me: 973.809.5277