Blog :: 2018

You're Welcome!

I usually stay away from anything political in my blog, but this week I am making an exception. On Wednesday, June 27, I had the great honor of attending a local reading staged to raise money to support one of the many organizations fighting to help immigrant children being separated from their parents. 

Montclair, New Jersey is a liberal town. That’s no secret. But this event, like so many initiatives – big and small -- started by residents who cannot sit by and watch people being treated inhumanely, reminds me so why I’m so proud to live here. This is a town that speaks out for families – all families.

Families come in all shapes, sizes, and colors – and that is one of the many reasons people want to live here. We all want our children to grow up in a community where families with two moms, or two dads, or no mom, or no dad, or different color moms and dads, or grandmas as moms, or grandpas as dads are all as commonplace as families with one mom and one dad. That’s the community mindset that sparked an event like Borders of the Heart: Writers Read in Support of Migrant Families.

In eight days, a few local writers put together this reading in an effort to do something to help. Donations were collected through Facebook and at the event. Nearly two dozen writers read pieces on the subject of immigration. Some readers were people I knew personally and never knew their story. It was heart-wrenching and uplifting, and I walked out of that room –appropriately, a local temple sanctuary – feeling so very right about the work I get to do: helping people find a community where their values and ideals can thrive.

I write this on July 4th, the “birthday” of my country. Today, I will dress for the heat as I walk the few blocks to Midland Avenue and take a spot on the curb to watch Montclair’s 90-minute July 4th Parade. I will cheer for floats celebrating local ice cream and local music lessons and the local Irish pub. I will cheer for organizations that provide free tutoring for kids and free meals for adults. I will cheer for the bike advocates and the football team and the Community Pre-K. And, of course, I will cheer for my home away from home, Keller Williams Realty.

Like the reading, our parade reminds me how we take care of each other here. Everyone is welcome to show up with their stories. 

Everyone is welcome.

New to Market: 107 Montclair Ave, Montclair, NJ

OPEN HOUSE

Saturday 6/23 and Sunday 6/24

2-4 p.m.

107 Montclair Ave

Offered at $989,000

 

As a Walkability Devotee, 107 Montclair Avenue is an absolute dream. It's spacious enough to grow with a family and offers premiere walkability at every stage.

The house itself is gorgeous. A 1923 Colonial with 5 bedrooms and 4 full baths. Beautiful wood floors throughout. Wood-burning fireplace. Updated kitchen and baths. A second-floor laundry room (believe me, if you’ve never lived in a home with this feature, you will count your newfound blessings with every load). An elegant master suite. 

And there’s more. New central AC. New hot water heater. New appliances. New garage. 

One of the things I love about this home is the fully renovated basement with its elegant ceramic tile floor. This is an enormous, inviting space to kick back in – and it has its own outside entrance!

The other thing I love is the bluestone patio – how the gentle curve of the low brick wall defines the space. And how it benefits from the nearby shade trees. There’s also a built-in Viking grill, a feature that many use all year long. 

True, it’s not often difficult to find a Montclair home with amenities. The challenge is finding a home with everything you’re looking for and walkability too.

If you’re familiar with the area, you will love being in the center of town. You will love the carpool ease. You will love that kids can walk to the high school. Or to the nearby ice-skating rink. Or to one of the town pools. Or the playground. Or the sports fields. 

This home also offers an easy walk to the New York City train, the Saturday Farmer’s Market, and all the restaurants and shops at Walnut and Grove. Or to Ruthie’s for barbeque and blues.

Montclair Avenue has always been one of the most beautiful and sought-after blocks in Montclair. Stop by my open house June 23rd or 24th and see why.

Open House this Saturday and Sunday, 2-4pm

Or call me for a private showing: 973-809-5277

 

New to Market: 222 Highview Drive, Clifton

OPEN HOUSE

Sunday, June 10

2-4 p.m.

222 Highview Drive, Clifton

Easy commute. Gorgeous interiors. Four bedrooms, 2 full baths.

Listed at $449,000, 222 Highview offers, and in that price point everyone seems to be looking for.

I was instantly taken with the kitchen in this home — newly renovated and just the right size. 

The first floor has a great flow for entertaining, the fireplace adding a warm, welcoming vibe. 

Baths are all luxurious and new. 

I especially love the basement — another complete living space with access to the attached garage.

The New York City bus stops on the corner. Also, Route 3 and the Parkway are a minute away, providing instant access to literally every direction. 

Stop by for a visit and I’ll tell you about the schools, local shopping, and my favorite plant nursery right up the road!

Come to the Open House Sunday, June 10th from 2-4pm

Or call me for a private showing: 973-809-5277

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New to Market: 653 Grove Street, Montclair

Open House

this Saturday, May 12 and Sunday, May 13

2 - 4 p.m.

653 Grove Street, Montclair

I’m always excited to get a Montclair listing in the $500,000 price range. They’re not plentiful. But I’m even more excited to list a house like 653 Grove Street, because not only is the price right – everything feels right.

Set back and side-facing, this house feels private and secluded. I love the expansive, flat yard, and the entertainment patio off the great room. 

I love the open layout, the spacious kitchen, and that the master suite has its own floor. It’s sunny and bright, and feels easy to be in.

Northeast Elementary School is a short walk, but with Montclair’s renowned magnet school system, you can request one of the other five elementary schools – each with its own theme. 

Also close by: Applegate Farms Ice Cream, a Montclair institution that draws ice cream lovers from far and wide. The Alonzo Bonsal Wildlife Preserve – a 20-plus acre nature preserve that feels so “secret,” people blog about how to find the entrance. And Yantacaw Brook Park, another off-the-beaten-path treasure for long walks, scenic runs, and duck feeding. (Also, Northeast School has a great sledding hill in the back.)

Four bedrooms. Two full baths. Eat-in kitchen. Wood-burning stove and fireplace. Beautiful floors. Lots of built-ins. Detached garage. Quick walk to the New York City bus. And all that Montclair has to offer: exhibits and classes at Montclair Art Museum and Montclair State UniversityWhole Foods, CSAs and a Saturday Farmers Market. Montclair Film Festival, Montclair Jazz Festival, and the Presby Iris Gardens. Team sports for everyone – kids and grown-ups alike. Coffee shops. Tea shops. Yoga studios and independent book stores. 

Does this sound good to be true? Come visit the town I love to show off. 

Come to the Open House Saturday 5/12 or Sunday, 5/13 2-4pm

Or call me for a private showing: 973-809-5277

 

New to the Market: 25 Mountain Avenue, Caldwell

Open House this Sunday, April 29  2-4PM

25 Mountain Avenue, Caldwell, NJ

Convenient to shopping and nature, this house is not only situated between two cute downtowns (W. Caldwell and Verona) and two Olmsted-designed county parks, it’s steps away from the New York City bus. The perfect location for starting a family or for folks who are ready to let go of their too-big house. Homes like this – with its classic design, big, flat yard, garage with plenty of extra room, and real-estate taxes that won’t launch your mortgage payment into the stratosphere – have become what so many of my clients are looking for. Properties in this price range are always in high demand.

25 Mountain Avenue is bright and inviting from the moment you walk through the door. The centerpiece wood-burning stove offers both a warm glow and a cool vibe to the clean lines of this open Colonial.

Luscious wood floors lead you through the easy-flowing layout. Swing open the living room French doors to discover an expansive back deck overlooking a spacious back yard. Whether you’re sipping evening cocktails and listening to crickets humming or sipping morning coffee listening to the birds sing, there is nothing better than being able to take a little time outside to relax into or out of your day. 

Three bedrooms, 1.5 baths, den, full basement and easy attic. Oversized walk-in closet for extra storage. Walkable to shops, restaurants, and public transportation. Drive 10 minutes to downtown Montclair for dinner and a movie, or take the kids to nearby Cody Arena to the newly renovated Turtle Back Zoo. Family-friendly community, easy to get to and from, and plenty of walkability! 

Come to the Open House Sunday, 2-4pm

Or call me for a private showing: 973-809-5277

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When You Want To Go Small

Many of my clients begin dreaming of a simpler, more streamlined life long before they feel able to do anything about it. And that is because most of them are overwhelmed by their “stuff.” 

I understand. So was I.

When I downsized a few years ago, it seemed as if I kept thinking the same few thoughts: How are we all going to manage in a small, cramped space. How will I fit all my furniture? How can I possibly get rid of these things that I love? And the loudest thought of all: How did I end up with so much stuff to begin with?

Going through a significant downsize myself taught me valuable lessons I pass onto my clients daily. Probably the most poignant of all being: My perfect living conditions have very little to do with my “stuff.”

In the move from big to smaller, clients often mistakenly focus on what they think they’re going to lose: spare rooms, storage, places for all their stuff. Having a life that has long revolved around the upkeep of a big home, they’re not quick consider how much is time and money is saved with less house to make repairs on, and fewer things to keep track of in general.

I never imagined how much better I would feel with a fresh start – the ability to imagine my daily life with all of the things I love around me, and without any that had become a burden.

As a student of architecture and design, I can help you envision your new living space. Together we can make a plan for what should come along. I have lots of tricks to make the most of modest spaces and a long list of vendors who can make it all happen. 

As a fellow down-sizer, I can help you envision your new life. My clients tell me that talking to me about what they imagine for their next chapter has helped them get to know themselves better and has also helped them attain the things they truly want. 

And as a life-long lover of second-hand selling, I can guide you through staging your current home, and moving that “stuff” you don’t need anymore into the hands of someone who may.

Going small can be an energizing, exciting journey when you have the right person to guide you. If you’ve been dreaming of simpler for a little too long, give me a call. I really can help. 

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    The Arts Are Alive and Well in Montclair

    It’s no secret: some of my clients start out afraid to leave the city. Of course they are! We live in cities because there is so much going on and it’s unsettling to think we’re giving that up.

    For those who have already taken the leap, there was plenty going on here last weekend, as is true most weekends.

    The Montclair Literary Festival launched in 2017. Given how many journalists, authors, playwrights and poets call this area home, it’s almost shocking that we didn’t have a weekend-long celebration of writers and writing before now. The festival included readings, talks, workshops and panels by writers of all genres. There were events devoted to politics and events devoted to rock’n’roll. There were lots of events for kids. Most everything was within an easy walk to everything else. And a lot of it was free!

    On Sunday night, we were graced by a reading and musical performance by Patti Smith who arrived with her longtime producer Lenny Kaye. The two took the stage in the sanctuary of the spectacular First Congregational Church and captivated the audience for nearly two hours.

    Being in that audience reminded most of us why we came to this area in the first place. It reminded us that we live in a community that can support two independent books stores, even in the age of Amazon and Kindle. It reminded us that, as a town, we believe that the arts are worth making room for – lots of room. And it reminded us how many of our friends and neighbors work so hard to fill our town with intellect and beauty everywhere you turn. Just like the city.

    When you take the leap, you will find yourself in a town with two libraries, an art museum, a film festival, a jazz festival, fabulous restaurants, an indie movie theatre, a concert venue, a jazz club, art galleries, art walks, avant-garde dance, opera and musical theatre, and a university with lectures, performance art, and minor league baseball. You’ll also find lots and lots of coffee shops!

    The other not so secret truth I remind my clients: Montclair is surrounded by plenty of great towns — Bloomfield, West Orange, Glen Ridge, Verona, Cedar Grove. If you’re looking for a community with easy access to the arts, these are towns that you should consider as well. 

    Patti Smith photo by Jacqueline Mroz

     

    From Montclair to East Orange: Ready For A Change

     

    Their nest was empty, but these downsizing buyers did not want to go small. 

    “My husband and I weren’t the typical ‘downsizers.’ We weren’t looking for ‘smaller’ as much as for ‘different.’ And we weren’t in a big hurry to move, which gave us the opportunity to become curious about what other our options might be.

    We wanted to stay in the general area, a home with a similar amount of space and an easy commute to the city. We wanted an interesting community where people seemed invested in where they lived. Really, most of the things that brought us to Montclair in the first place.  

    But that was 20 years ago, when we also wanted a progressive school system for our young children. Now we needed to pay college tuition.  

    I started looking at listings all over North Jersey. I became intrigued by a house in East Orange and called Lina to get her opinion. She said it was already under contract, but another house in the neighborhood was coming on the market the following week.

    Long story short: right away, we felt that house could be “the one.” Then Lina provided us all the information we needed to make our decision. 

    Lina knows about houses – especially architecturally. This one had great bones and an open layout. She helped us understand what and how we may need to renovate.

    She knows about neighborhoods. This house was right next to Bloomfield’s Watsessing Park. We had lived adjacent to Brookdale Park – also an Olmsted designed space – when we were in Montclair, so Lina gave us the rundown on this park. I joined the conservancy not long after we moved! Also, as a true champion of the walkable lifestyle, Lina also sold us on the nearby train and bus, but also the walkable shopping and restaurants

    She knows about communities. A good realtor has the kind of inside information you simply cannot get from just reading listings. Our new community is ethnically diverse, with residents of all ages. The people are extremely welcoming, and very proud of their neighborhood. Because Lina is a great listener, she knew we would respond to all those things.

    Our new home is not far from Montclair – maybe a 15 minute drive. Early on, I considered that a major selling point of the new house -- the ability to keep my entire Montclair life intact. But now, most of my Montclair travels are to see friends. I do everything else here, in our new home!"

    — Nancy, from East Orange

    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