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Montclair is Committed to Community

Early last Friday evening, on Montclair’s cobblestoned Church Street, I met an old friend for a glass of wine at Amanti Vino’s outdoor wine café. The wine was delicious, the night was clear and cool, and we were surrounded by hundreds of friends and neighbors. 

This area can get busy on a clear summer night, but Friday pulled a crowd that was sizable even by Church Street standards, with the entire block closed to traffic in order to host a community dinner –  the first of its kind.

The dinner was one of the launch events of a brand new, week-long local festival called “Bounce,” designed to celebrate resilience and optimism. There were dozens of long tables set up end-to-end, running the length of Church Street like a spine. Each “place setting” had a festival brochure listing all the events for the week – art exhibits, musical performances, dance, lectures, and tons of “experiential” activities for both adults and kids – as well as a simple, typewritten message of positivity that was taped to the paper table cloth. People could pick up a free sandwich and pasta salad at one of the serving tables or buy a to-go meal from one of the many area restaurants and eat family-style with others from the community.

It was actually very cool.

I was struck by many things that evening. One was that, even though I’ve made this town my home for 20 years, there were lots of people I had never seen before. Another was that, after making this my home for so long, it was great fun to run into people I use to work with on PTA committees or work out next to at the gym. 

I was also amazed – as I usually am – at how people in this town are continually motivated to put together yet another engaging community event. Since I’ve moved here, Montclair has launched a Film Festival, a Jazz Festival, an Art Walk, a town-wide Music Day, an outdoor public Dance Performance, a Farmers Market, a few Road Races and Garden Tours, and a host of other free entertainment offerings designed with a single goal in mind: creating a strong sense of community.

And, as far as I can tell, it’s worked.

There are always so many people here working hard on everyone else’s behalf. I love that about our community. There’s always something to do. 

If you’re interested in a vibrant town with direct NYC access and something for everyone, let me take you around. Beyond all our fabulous festivals, we have some pretty great houses for sale too.  

TALK OR TEXT: 973-809-5277

Open House Alert: 17 Bradley Terrace, West Orange

OPEN HOUSE

Saturday 6/1 & Sunday 6/2

2 PM - 4 PM

Offered at $399,000

Freshly painted walls and refinished hardwood floors are just the beginning in this thoughtfully laid out home.  Great flow between the living room, dining room and kitchen plus a nice family room and powder room complete the first floor.

  

On the second floor there are three good bedrooms and an updated full bathroom. The third floor is a blank canvas for a generous sized guest suite, den or office.

  

The partially finished basement with attached garage offers endless opportunities as a game room or hang out space. 

With privacy galore,  the deep backyard with wooded views will entice any nature lover or outdoor explorer.

  

17 Bradley Terrace has all that and then some. Offered at $399,000 this home won't be on the market for long.

With it's proximity to Route 280, Essex Green Shopping Center and dine-in Movie Theater, Eagle Rock Reservation and West Orange's Main Street, commuting and recreation are steps away.

Stop by for a visit and see for yourself. Can't make it to an open house? Call me and I will arrange a private showing: 973-809-5277 

Removing Your Oil Tank – Just Do It

I was talking to a potential client – someone who wants to sell next year – about how to get her home ready for sale. She was surprised when I advised her to remove her underground oil tank. “It was decommissioned,” she said. “I have the paperwork.”

Unfortunately, that’s not good enough anymore.

The problem with underground oil tanks has always been soil contamination, which is a big risk whether your tank is active or inactive. And mortgage underwriters no longer want to take that risk. In the past, you could do some soil testing around the tank and then decommission it, which entails cutting into the top, vacuuming out all the sludge, and filling it back up with sand or foam. However, if there’s a leak – even a small one – on the underside of the tank, it’s nearly impossible to test for. So, it has become common practice to have the tank removed altogether.

Active tanks carry special insurance, which can typically be transferred to the new owner. However, if a buyer is planning to convert to gas, there are complexities with oil tank insurance, usually requiring the owner to take an intermediate step of switching to an inside tank.

Oil tank removal itself is not usually complicated but, for many reasons, it can be stressful. Your yard will be dug up, which means replanting and restoring the area once the tank is removed. Beyond that, if there has been a leak, the soil must be remediated, and that can be an extremely expensive process as well as a lengthy one, as the Department of Environmental Protection must get involved.

Tank removal starts with a quote from a tank removal/remediation company. Some companies offer “a la carte” service. They’ll remove the tank for $2,000, but if a leak is found, you must pay to remove all contaminated soil. In other cases, you can pay a flat rate – maybe $12,000 – and in the event of a leak, the company assumes the cost of all soil removal.

If all goes smoothly, the removal itself – including securing permits – can be done within a few weeks. (In addition to any landscaping work, the homeowner may be responsible for any permit fees.) But if it is not smooth, remediation can take months – and sometimes over a year – so you want that over and done with before you put your house on the market.

My advice is always to do it sooner rather than later. 

If you want to talk about oil tanks, or anything else you may want to take care of in preparation for a future sale, please give me a call!

973-809-5277

New to Market: 12 Wilde Place, Montclair

OPEN HOUSE

Saturday 5/18 & Sunday 5/19

2 PM - 4 PM

Offered at $689,000

It doesn't get more walkable than 12 Wilde Place! Located on one of Montclair's favorite blocks, this home offers the best of urban and suburban living in a move in ready, authentic Craftsman Colonial.

A charming stone walkway leads you through specimen plantings and mature Japanese maples to an inviting solarium. Special details like a stained-glass transom welcome you into a well appointed living room with a wood burning fireplace and custom oak built-in shelving.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This jewel box of a house has several bonus features throughout including the 2nd floor sun porch - ideal for your morning coffee and watching the sunset at dusk. The private backyard deck with under-deck storage is also not to be missed. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Just steps to Church StreetThe Wellmont Theater, Montclair Public Library and countless other downtown cafes, restaurants and shops you can leave your car in the driveway and start exploring all that walkable Montclair has to offer.  

Join me at one of the two public open houses on Saturday 5/18 & Sunday 5/19 or call me to schedule a private showing: 973-809-5277.

 

5 Biggest Client Complaints

It’s been a long time since I sat in Real Estate School classes, gulping down the many facts and rules and equations necessary to get my licensure. But like any job, many of the most important lessons I’ve learned as an agent were not taught in the classroom.

They were taught to me by my clients – buyers and sellers, alike.

Yes, agents have to know the most up-to-date information about oil tanks, and yes, it’s handy to have a list of great vendors for clients – from floor finishers to structural engineers. However, there are a few things that may be more important, and I know that because clients have come to me with these complaints about their previous agent. Here are the top five:

  1. "After we signed the listing papers, our agent handed us off to others." One client told me she never saw her agent again after her house was officially listed. Instead, she was assigned to a listing manager, a stager, and various office assistants. There is nothing wrong with having an assistant follow up on details. However, I consider my listings my direct responsibility, and I make sure to be in touch with sellers regularly throughout the marketing and sale of their home.
  2. "My listing agent would schedule house showings and then no one showed up." To be fair, buyers often change plans, even after a seller has filled the morning tidying, stashing kids’ toys, and relocating a pet to the neighbor’s. It's understandably annoying to ready a house that no one comes to see. If a buyer cancels, I consider it my first responsibility to let the seller know  – whether they are my clients, or theirs is a home was going to show my buyers. Having sold my own house recently, I am very attuned to the effort that goes into a showing.
  3. "The agent who was showing me houses didn’t know the town." It’s easy to show homes in your own town, especially if you’ve lived there awhile. However, if agents are showing homes in an unfamiliar town, they have to do their homework. A good agent should be able to tell you distances to grocery stores and have a working knowledge of commuter options. I live in Montclair, but spend a lot of time in Glenridge, Cedar Grove, South Orange, Maplewood and other nearby Essex County suburbs for the sole purpose of providing my clients with the most accurate information possible.
  4. "I felt constant pressure to increase my bids." Buying a home can be stressful and, in my opinion, an agent’s job is to try and reduce that stress. Not add to it. We should provide data, insight and knowledge. We should not make a client feel insecure about a bid (which, apparently happens a lot). My only agenda with my clients is that they find the home that suits them best. 
  5. "My agent never answered my calls." I will confess: I do not answer the phone while driving, but beyond that, I respond to my clients – calls, texts, and emails – immediately or, at least, quickly. That’s just good business.

So, as you can see, I’ve learned a lot over these 14 years. If you want to put me to the test, I’d relish the opportunity. Then again, maybe there are a few things I could learn from you too!

Call or text:  973-809-5277  If I'm driving, I'll call you back!

Plant. Shred. Recycle. Upcoming Events To Make Your Spring Cleaner

Whether you’re buying, selling, or just staying put, spring always feels like the right time to clean up. Still, sometimes we could use a little extra motivation. Here are a few upcoming events that may inspire you to tackle one of those spring-cleaning projects sooner rather than later. 

 

Paper Shredding – two low or no-cost options.

April 20 Montclair Shred-fest - 9am - 1pm at the Community Service Yard 219 N Fullerton. Montclair residents only. Free.

April  27 - Homecorp Shred Day - 9:30am - 12:30pm. 8 Hillside Ave. Open to the public. Donation requested.

 

Plant Sale - Annual event to benefit Van Vleck Gardens. Experts on-site for advice.

May 3 - 6 — Times vary. Van Vleck Gardens.

 

Hazardous Waste Collection - Goodbye old paint! (Oil paint, that is. And fluorescent light bulbs. And old fire extinguishers. And anti-freeze.)

May 4 - 8:30am-4pm at the Essex County Public Works site, 99 West Bradford Ave, Cedar Grove

 

Electronics Recycling - Computers, DVDs, 8-Track Tape players (don’t laugh, I still see some around).

May 18 - 9am - 3pm at the Essex County Public Works site, 99 West Bradford Ave, Cedar Grove

Saturdays - 9am - 4pm at Montclair Community Service Yard, 219 N Fullerton. Residents only. Also 2-4pm Wednesdays and Fridays.

 

Book Donations - Ongoing collections for book sales to benefit education.

Sep - May - Lacordaire Academy at Park St. and Lorraine Ave. Drop off this year before May 3, 2019.

May - August/Saturdays 8:30—11:30am -  Montclair College Women’s Club Book Sale. Collections at 26 Park Street, Montclair. Check website for May start-up dates.

 

Most websites will spell out what the organizations do and don’t accept as well as any other details you may need.

 

If you’re planning a garage sale, I always suggest timing it so you can take advantage of bulk waste pick up or any relevant recycling events afterwards. (Most towns require permits; here's info for Montclair.)

 

For anything else that you might want to sell (or buy) — furniture, clothing, sports equipment, old lawn mowers — I always check out the local swap pages on Facebook (here's one for non-clothing items). One person’s trash is another person’s treasure!

New to Market: 47 Ardsley Road, Montclair

OPEN HOUSE

Saturday 4/13 & Sunday 4/14

1 PM - 4 PM

Offered at $699,000

 

47 Ardsley Road is a walkable home at its best. Located on one of Montclair's prettiest streets and only 0.4 miles from the Walnut Street train station and business district, you won't be able to decide whether to relax at home or hang out at one of Montclair's venerable institutions like Egan & Sons, The Corner, Montclair Bread Company or one of the newer trendy bakery/cafes, Layers of Flavors.  In warmer months, the farmer's market is a draw where you can pick up organic veggies, local cheese and honey and then tote them all home in your wagon.

A standout in this quintessential center hall colonial is the sunny oversized kitchen with loads of counter space, separate breakfast area and easy access to the mudroom, back door and large flat backyard.

     

Other classic features include a formal wainscoted dining room, living room with wood burning fireplace and sun room which works well as your TV room, play room or library.

   

You'll have plenty of room to grow with four floors of living space to move right into. 

Please join us for our public open house on Saturday 4/13 & Sunday 4/14 or call me to schedule a private showing: 973-809-5277.

My 5 Tips for Clutter

Clutter is a topic that my clients and I can talk about for hours. 

It’s no secret that one of a real estate agent’s first directives to a potential seller is “Get rid of the clutter.” This is obviously easier said than done.

I just came across some research studies that tie an organized, uncluttered home to feelings of well-being, particularly in women. I have definitely found this in my own life. A few years ago, I downsized and had to deal with a lot of my stuff for the first time in a long time. I like “things,” so since then, I have had to adopt some new habits to keep may spaces streamlined. I can personally attest to the fact that, in stressful times, a calm, organized environment can act as a salve.

Here are some of my suggestions for getting started on your own Decluttering Journey.

1. Binge Watch Marie Kondo on Netflix – I know many roll their eyes about her, but she has been a motivator for many of my clients. I read her book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, a few years ago, but the TV show seems more relatable. People can see their own “issues” in the stories of her clients and are inspired to overcome them.

2. Read The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning by Margareta Magnusson – I have not read this book yet, but my mother was Danish and essentially lived by the philosophy, “Don’t leave a big mess for your family to sort out after you pass.” Mom would come to visit, happily toting my old soccer trophies from seventh grade. She didn’t want them and neither did I. Sometimes we hold onto things thinking our children will want them in their future. And oftentimes we are mistaken.

3. Declutter By Time Rather Than By Area – Sometimes, just the idea of decluttering an area – the closet, the pantry, the basement – can feel overwhelming. Some people have luck with allotting successive amounts of time to an organizing project. I might set my timer for 30 minutes and then tackle whatever I can get done with the linen closet in that time, giving myself permission to spend ONLY 30 minutes today and come back to it for more 30-minute intervals during the week.

4. Hire a Professional – My assistant, Jodi,  is a professional organizer and she has been a life saver in helping people who cannot find the time to declutter on their own. I actually use several different organizers, each with their own super-power, so I can pair a client with the organizer that will best suit them. One organizer is so lovely and patient, she will listen to a client's every anecdote about each teacup as they goes through the cabinets.

5. Stage to Stay – Many think of professional stagers as people who bring things into a home to make it look a certain way. But most of “staging” really involves taking things away. When a house is going to market, there is usually a time-line and an urgency for staging. However, if you just want to make your home more streamlined, stagers are a wonderful resource for simplifying spaces. Again, I use different stagers for different clients, depending on their needs.

Most of us own at least twice as much “stuff” as we need. Not only does decluttering make a house present better, it makes the owner feel better – so much so that, on a few occasions, my clients decided they liked their home so much more they wanted to stay there for a few more years!

If you want to talk clutter, give me a call: 973-809-5277

New to Market: 230 Raymond Ave, South Orange, NJ

OPEN HOUSE

Saturday 3/16 & Sunday 3/17

2 - 4 PM

Offered at: $625,000

Montrose beauty, perfectly nestled between Grove Park and downtown South Orange

With 6 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms a kitchen, living room, formal dining room and sunny family room this craftsman colonial offers spaciousness both inside and out.  

Unique architectural details such as high ceilings, fabulous windows and wainscoting, combined with practical features like central air conditioning make this house a winner. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lovingly maintained by one owner for that last 26 years, this wonderful home is awaiting the personal touches of its new owner. 

Don’t miss the Open House:  Saturday and Sunday from 2-4 .

or call me to schedule a private showing: 973-809-5277

Five Tips for Your Yard That Will Add Appeal When You Sell

If you own your own home, you know that landscaping can be expensive. This is one of the reasons that sellers who attend to their exterior – as well as their interior – add more than just curb appeal. They add actual value to their home.

Obviously, a backyard with terraced bluestone patios and a custom brick pizza oven offers that much-coveted Wow Factor. But there are plenty of small improvements that can make a big difference in how even a modest house shows on the market.

Here’s my top advice for clients – whether they’re listing their house next month or making landscaping decisions for the next ten years.

Stay On Top of Trees – Get your trees inspected regularly and deal with any that are dead or dying. West Orange now requires a tree inspection in order to get a certificate of occupancy before a home sale. If they find any dying trees or large dead limbs, they will require that you take them down. This may become a practice in other towns as well. Regular care can greatly improve the health of your trees.

Keep Foundation Plantings Small – Besides obscuring the house, tall or expansive plantings around your home’s foundation often limits the natural light that comes into your rooms. If you have foundation plantings that are overgrown and blocking windows, I usually advise having them removed before listing. Trimming rarely works unless you’ve pruned them back yearly. No one wants to hear this advice, but it makes a huge difference. If you’re considering tall plantings for privacy – on a busy street, say – you’re better off with a hedge by the sidewalk.

Make Your Walkway Night-Friendly – Homes are often shown after dark, so you want to make sure your buyers can find their way easily and safely to your front (and back) door. If you’re on a budget, there’s no need for either extravagant flood lighting or even hiring an electrician. Places like Home Depot carry solar powered lanterns that you can stick in the ground yourself.

Don't Worry About Planting Bulbs – If you’re planning to list in the spring, you might envision your house with dozens of tulips or daffodils brightening your front beds and be tempted to spend a lot of money on bulbs for the occasion. However, unless you’re happy to tend the garden, I usually say, don’t bother. Bulbs look great when they bloom, but their majesty is not only short-lived, they look pretty awful on their way out. Also, it’s hard to coordinate an open house with the weekend the tulips are in their prime. Instead, find some flowering plants that you can put in the ground as needed.

Clean Beds, Dark Mulch – This simple advice can truly transform the exterior vibe of a house. Edging your beds and applying fresh mulch signals that a yard is being tended to. And dark mulch provides a pleasing aesthetic. 

If you’re considering selling in the next year and want to do an exterior walk-about, give me a call. 973-809-5277