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Lina Panza

May in Montclair 2022

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For all the years I’ve lived here in Montclair, the month of May has been an event. With winter in the rear-view mirror and everything flowering, May in Montclair always felt like a season unto itself -- 31-day celebration of the arts and culture of this special town. 

These last two years, May in Montclair took a hiatus, and I was excited to discover that this year, it has started to make its way back. [...]

Tired of Losing Offers? 5 Strategies to Help Buyers Win

Tired of losing offers in a seller’s market?  Here are 5 strategies to help buyers win.

In the last two years, buying a home has gone from finding the right house to finding a way to win a bid on a house. And the truth is, people who are the most savvy and flexible are often the ones whose offer ends up being accepted. In light of that, I’ve [...]

What My Clients Are Asking These Days

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It’s not news to anyone that the housing market continues to favor sellers. One of the questions I’ve been getting regularly from buyers is:

“Are houses selling for way over the list price everywhere in Northern New Jersey?”

In real estate parlance, this is what we call sale price to list price ratio and the short answer is: No. 

These days, [...]

To Stage or Not To Stage

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One of the main questions I get from sellers is do I have to stage my house in order to sell it? Or, as one client put it, “Will I have to paint my walls gray?” 

The short answer is, no. In this market, a house need not be staged in order to sell. It will sell. The question is, for how much?

Two Parts of Staging

Staging can be fairly easy with the right plan. There are usually two parts to getting a house ready for [...]

Montclair and Pets - Perfect Together

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I recently read something in a real estate publication that both surprised me and didn’t surprise me: people were asked whether they would change their living situation for the benefit of their pet and 43 percent answered “yes.”

As a pet lover, I believe that most people moving from an apartment into a house are creating an improved set of circumstances for their dogs or cats. I bought a new house in Montclair about 6 years ago, and in hindsight, I think my move was partly motivated by my cat situation. (I have four!) Letting an animal out into a fenced-in yard is an obvious benefit for everyone.

After my move from a busy corner to a quieter location, I put in a 7-foot deer fence in my backyard to safeguard my plantings. It’s worked beautifully and has offered the added bonus of creating a safe haven for my cats. They have their own cat door and can come and go as they please, perching on a rock amidst the catnip or finding the perfect vantage point to keep an eye on the neighborhood. 

If fencing is not possible, some folks build “catios” – specialty screened-in porches from which their cats can enjoy a hybrid outdoor experience! 

For dog owners, the Montclair area is heavenly. In addition to the near-constant parade of dog-walking throughout the many local parks, there are countless reasons for people to set out on foot, no matter where in town they live. From hitting the farmer’s market on a Saturday morning to picking up a snack in the afternoon, there are little shops or distinct shopping areas all over town. I’m trying to think of a house that’s more than a mile from something delicious to snack on, and there aren’t many. And the few there are, have access to the other undeniable aspect of dog paradise: hiking trails. With two multi-mile hiking reservations and a nature preserve, there are plenty of choices for dogs of all sizes and stamina.

To me, that right there is the magic of Montclair. Wilderness and Starbucks, both at your fingertips.

If you’d like me to take you around this walkable suburb from a pet-lover’s perspective, reach out! Talk or Text: 973-809-5277

Photos: Two of my cats in my backyard. Top - Oscar enjoying Pride Rock; Bottom - The Bodhisattva and the The Catnip.

Why Montclair Is a Great Place to Retire

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Like most real estate agents, I work with many young couples coming from the city looking for a bigger space for their growing families. However, I also want to give a shout out to what might be my fastest growing client base: the downsizers.

These are couples, or singles, who are retired or close to retiring. Whose kids are grown. Who have a lot more leisure time. And who invariably say to me, “I’ve always wanted to live in Montclair.”

I’m not surprised. We are a destination for fabulous restaurant meals of every imaginable cuisine and concerts and musical performances of every imaginable genre. We are home to one of the few New Jersey movie theaters that show independent films – not to mention hosting our own Film Festival. Everywhere you turn, there are stimulating, provocative, culturally relevant offerings that keep a mind vibrant – from art galleries to lecture series to performance art

If you’re looking to make social change, you’d be hard-pressed to find a cause that doesn’t have a local chapter. We have garden clubs, Improv classes, a state university that offers older folks the opportunity to audit classes. If you’re looking to make friends, there are wonderful offerings for seniors through the Montclair Institute for Lifelong Learning, from yoga and exercise classes to art classes and hosted lunches. There’s stuff to do every day. And a lot of it is free!

There are trails to hike. Parks to stroll. Ducks to watch (but not to feed, please!). There are several tennis courts, golf courses, and three town pools. We also have seven train stations throughout the town in case you want to pop into Manhattan, because, yes, Montclair Art Museum is a gem, but it is not The MoMA. 

Book stores. Antique stores. Coffee shops. Tea shops. A pie store (just one, I think). Spas for pampering. Bistros for people-watching. 

I know. It sounds too good to be true. But to be fair, Montclair does not have everything. We don’t host any hot-air ballooning. If you’re looking for something like that, Montclair cannot deliver. 

However, if you’re looking for a suburb that does not feel like a suburb -- that's walkable and always abuzz with people, places, and things -- call me. I’d love to show you around the town I love.

Talk or Text: 973-809-5277

Keeping Your Dream House Dry

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New boiler. New roof. New electrical panel. These are some of the many “unsexy” improvements that homeowners may need to spend money on -- things that will never be admired by guests. One of these “invisible upgrades” that I’ve been discussing a lot with clients these days is water management.

Because Montclair and some of the surrounding towns are built on a mountain, rainwater is often running down a slope. Most of the time, this is no big deal. The soil will absorb the rain as it falls. But when the rain falls too fast or too hard, it can end up making a mess in yards and, sometimes, basements. 

Keeping water out of a basement is truly an unsexy quest, but a completely worthwhile one. French drains, sump pumps and battery operated back up pumps decrease the likelihood of flooding and increase the value of your home. But sometimes water mitigation needs to start outside.

When I first moved into my house on a hill, my basement crawl space was damp – sometimes wet – all the time, rain or not! Some of the things I’ve done have made a huge difference, and I recommend exploring options like this for buyers and sellers alike:

  • Regrade patios that butt up against the house, so water is moving away from the foundation.
  • Consider an exterior French drain system to move water out to the curb.
  • Minimize the amount of impervious, non-soil space in the yard (Less patio, more grass or planting beds).
  • Create a swale or valley for water to collect away from the house to give the soil time to absorb it. (I haven’t actually needed to do this, though it was suggested by a landscaper.)

I’ve discovered that working with a good landscaper can be as beneficial as hiring a waterproofing company. Whether you are buying or selling, I’m happy to share my expertise and experience about all the inner workings of a home. I can provide a lot of information about how your dream house can remain dreamy, even in the rain.

Musical Montclair

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I admit, I don't think of myself as a “jazz person.” So, every time I tell my clients about this amazing festival taking place here each summer, I feel like I may be speaking a bit out of my element. This year, aside from the music, I realized that one of the most special things about the Montclair Jazz Festival is that it’s such a far-reaching community event. This year, the theme was “Bringing Us Back Together Again!” 

Honestly, I don’t think anything is able to do that better than outdoor music!

The 2021 festival took place in a different (more central) part of town than in years past, and it was spread over several weekends, rather than just one – changes that I think made the event even better. I stopped by one day and listened to trumpeter Ingrid Jensen, a musician I was wholly unfamiliar with, and was blown away -- moved by the music, which was great, but also by all of us being together again. With hundreds of people relaxing on a beautiful August day, it almost felt like the pre-pandemic days.

There have been outdoor music events that I’ve come to rely on for igniting that feeling of community fun I always equate with living in Montclair. Weekend blues on the back patio of Ruthie’s BBQ on Chestnut Street. Live music on Saturdays at the Montclair Farmers Market. The mini outdoor concerts at Center Stage on Church Street (which don’t seem to be up and running again this year – but soon!).

Then there are all the surprising “concerts” that I seem to happen upon accidentally, either strolling through Edgemont Park or grabbing a coffee in Watchung Plaza. The other day I saw a flyer for an outdoor concert by the Chamber Music Society of North Jersey (Saturday, Aug 28 at 7pm in Anderson Park – bring lawn chairs/blankets!) which looks like it will be magical.

This is one of the things I absolutely love about Montclair: it is a community of people who love to use their talents to strengthen community.  

In addition to the return of live music, another things that has been feeling like the “old days” is that the highly aggressive bidding on homes seems to be starting to wane. People don’t have that “at any price” attitude that has prevailed over the last year. The market will shift yet again, and I am always available to go through the implications of those shifts, for buyers or sellers, in practical, actionable terms. 

Call or text anytime to talk about Montclair market conditions, musical events, or anything thing else I can help you with regarding my favorite Walkable Suburb!    973-809-5277