Blog :: 11-2010

Two Dalebrook Road: Walkable in Bloomfield

Sometimes a house just has the right combination of elements  --  location, price and space.  2 Dalebrook Road, in Bloomfield earns high marks on any walkability scale. It's close to Brookdale' s  interesting ethnic restaurants-- Stamna (Greek), Boonsong  (Thai) and Bar Cara (Italian).  Houses of worship-- Temple Ner Tamid and the Watchung Presbyterian Church-- are literally steps away, as is Bloomfield Middle School. For commuters, the DeCamp bus to New York City stops right around the corner, and Brookdale Park is a five-minute up Watchung Avenue.

Location is not the only virtue of this property. 2 Dalebrook Rd is a well-maintained split-level with 3 bedrooms, 2.5 bathrooms, a den and an oversized rec-room - great for table tennis, billiards or a child's playroom. Oak hardwood floors and lots of windows make the house bright and airy. A newly carpeted and painted rec room, a new shower in the master bath, new front steps, and central air-conditioning (you guessed it, also new) make this house move-in ready, all at an affordable $379,000. Happen to be looking for homes in Bloomfield?  Check out this great house in a great neighborhood at a great price.

Axing the Arc Commuter Rail Tunnel is Penny Wise, Pound Foolish

I had a lovely client who along with her partner wanted to rent a house on a big property so their dogs could run.   We found her a great place, and the lease was signed.  She paid all the fees and deposits. And then days before the move in date, she had to back out of the deal because she lost her job.  She was a project manager on the ARC tunnel project planned to link NJ to NY with an additional rail tube across the Hudson river.  She had been working on it for eleven years. And then it was over. Her job was just one small casualty of the Christie administration's cancellation of a major project that would have provided a vital additional link between New Jersey and New York.

As any commuter knows, our single tunnel just isn't enough.   And the easy access of our state to one of the biggest economic center's in the western world has always created enormous opportunities for New Jersey's own economy and its citizens.   As reported by The New York Times,  the tunnel would have shortened commute times and linked additional communities.

As any New Jersey Realtor will tell you, one of the single most effective ways to boost property values is to offer a quick commute to Manhattan.  Bigger property values equals bigger tax revenues for the state.   One non-profit research group estimated that home values within two miles of the rail station would have risen by $19,000 and by $29,000 for homes within half a mile.  Given the estimated $18 billion increase in property values, NJ would have immediately started raking in an additional  $375 million in tax receipts per year.

Consider too the additional jobs that would have resulted directly from the tunnel project and indirectly from easier access to other business markets. And let us not forget the benefits to our environment and to our communities that always follow from better public transit and increased walkability.  We all know that Governor Christie inherited one of the most difficult fiscal situations since World War II.  And we know that the budget needs to be balanced. No one would deny that these are tough economic times, but axing the ARC midtown direct tunnel project was penny wise, pound foolish.

Perfect Schmerfect: Searching for your Montclair dream home

When Voltaire said "The perfect is the enemy of the good," he wasn't philosophizing about buying real estate in Essex County NJ, but I often remind my buyers of the wisdom of his words and how it applies to their home search. During my years as a New Jersey real estate agent I have watched many good houses get passed over by clients who are looking for the perfect Montclair house. The houses that fall short are often the ones they later realize had lots of potential and manageable flaws. Perhaps the search for the perfect house is something all home buyers have to go through, and losing a few good ones along the way is just part of the real estate process. Still, I thought I would offer a strategy based on my own home buying experience. First, try to define the things that are non-negotiable. Perhaps lots of natural light is one of those things. Maybe you want to be in the Montclair school district. Or perhaps it's a walk of less than 10 minutes to the train station or an extra room for your mom to stay in.  List your top ten things.  Then get a fat black marker and be prepared to cross half of them out. When I bought my Montclair house there were 3 less-than-perfect things that I thought I could live with.  I used my fat black marker to cross off  1.) Quiet Street  2.)Lots of privacy  3.)Renovated kitchen and bathrooms.

3 compromises and how I dealt with them when buying my house in Montclair:

  1. Busy road on side yard. Put up a nice fence all the way around the property and planted lots of trees and bushes.
  2. Too close to house next door. Put frosted glass in some windows, Put up a high fence. Planted trees. Got nice wooden blinds.
  3. Kitchens and bathrooms were old. Painted kitchen cabinets & got new hardware. Renovated the master bath. Changed fixtures in other bathrooms.

But here's what I got that was important to me (and that was not always found in Montclair real estate in my price range):

  1. Near the park, village and transportation
  2. Lots of light, good flow, clean lines.
  3. Powder room on the 1st floor.
  4. Master bathroom
  5. 1st floor den/playroom/tv room for the kids

No matter what your price range, there will always be something you want that is slightly out of reach. So get your black marker ready, work from your shortened list and you just might find the house that is actually the perfect house for you.