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Client Stories

Montclair to Bloomfield – A New Cozy Community

Carol and John moved to Montclair in 1995. They have three grown children, two of whom are out on their own; the youngest is living at home. John works from home, a partner in a media marketing company. Carol commutes to New York City four days a week for her job at a non-profit. This past summer, after 24 years in their Montclair home, they sold and bought a home in Bloomfield.

Why Bloomfield?

We wanted to stay in the Montclair area – close to friends and all the places we like to go. Our original plan was to downsize, but the house we bought is not much smaller than what we had been in. However, it was less expensive, and it’s also a much better configuration for our current situation. We wanted to be close to the New York bus and able to walk to things, and we were lucky enough to get a house in the Brookdale section, right off the park.

What’s your favorite thing about living here?

We love the neighborhood. Not just the proximity to the park, but also the coziness of block. It’s a dead-end street, so the only people driving on the block, live here. The houses are closer together and closer to the street, so it feels more like a little community. Everyone is extremely friendly, so it just feels really good to be here. 

Any challenges along the way?

We bought and sold with Lina, and for us, the buying was very easy. We went to an open house that checked off all our boxes; she came back with us the next week and everything fell into place quickly and smoothly, even in this neighborhood where houses go fast. The selling was more complicated for us, and there, Lina was amazing. We had her come over almost a year earlier and advise us what we should do to prepare the house. We discovered there was a lot that needed updating, projects we often did ourselves. (That was the hard part.)  Our prep work included repainting every room, refinishing floors, finishing off the 3rd floor more completely, updating kitchen cabinets and counters, and installing some new light fixtures. Lina’s advice was spot on. She really understands the market and what it takes to make a house marketable. From the timing, to the paint colors, we just did everything she told us to do and it worked. Our Montclair house was our nest egg and she helped us maximize what we could get for it. 

What’s turned out better than you expected?

Our other challenge was the endless decluttering. We had to get rid of so much! It was hard to let go of what we’d held onto for decades. For months, we spent most weekends giving things away and filling up a dumpster. But now, it feels so good to live a more streamlined life. It’s been great to learn that we can make do with a lot less “stuff.” The fact that we didn’t have to let go of our relationships in the area probably made the whole move a little easier.

Photos: Top - Carol and John in front of their new home; Bottom - their former Montclair home. 

Manhattan to Montclair – “No pressure with Lina”

 

Rachel and Tom just celebrated their one-year wedding anniversary last September and had their first child in December. Rachel was born and raised in Washington, DC and Tom grew up in Brooklyn, NY. Both went to college in Boston and when they graduated, moved to NYC to begin their careers -- Rachel in sales & marketing and Tom as an accountant. Last August, they left their 1-bedroom apartment in Chelsea and moved to a 3-bedroom home in Montclair, NJ. 

Why Montclair?

We explored several neighborhoods in the area and decided that Montclair was the place that we wanted to start our family. We fell in love with the downtown area and all of the villages throughout the town. We love the history and charm of all the homes, and we had heard nothing but great things about the people and the schools, which was really important to us. We also picked it because of the close proximity to Manhattan and have since found that the commute is very manageable. 

What’s your favorite thing about living here?

We love how walkable the neighborhood is and have really enjoyed exploring Upper Montclair village and all of the restaurants this town has to offer. 

Any challenges along the way?

Before we got pregnant, we knew we wanted to buy a house, but in our minds, we had a longer timeline. The pregnancy definitely expedited the process. We were slightly nervous that the home buying process would be very overwhelming and stressful; since we had been renting an apartment, there were a several things we had to learn about home ownership in general. There were also times we got a bit discouraged that we might not find something in our budget in the neighborhood we wanted, but in time, we ended up landing on the perfect home in the perfect neighborhood and we couldn't be happier. 

What’s turned out better than you expected?

We’ve found the move and transition to be fairly easy and were so pleasantly surprised with how seamless the process was. This was thanks to Lina, who we’d met at an Open House. She made the entire home buying process so enjoyable for us. We had never worked with a real estate agent before and didn't really know what to expect. She was so patient, answering all of our questions, and, as first-time buyers, we had a ton of questions. All along, she was a calming and reassuring resource. We always felt like she had our best interest in mind and never felt pressured. We are so grateful for her guidance and advice and would recommend her a million times over!

Long Island City to Bloomfield – The Scootable Suburb

Nicki and Dani both grew up in Florida, moving to the New York area where they both went to law school. After renting in the East Village, Astoria, Ossining, and Long Island City, they bought a house in Bloomfield, NJ in November 2018. Both commute to NYC for work, Nicki to her midtown law firm, Dani to her sales job in Soho.

Why Bloomfield?

We’d visit friends who live in Bloomfield and we thought the town was cute. When my mother moved into our apartment with us, Dani and I decided it was time for more space. We chose this area for its proximity to Montclair, which was a town that had a lot going on. Coming from the city, we wanted to live somewhere that felt lively. 

What’s your favorite thing about living here?

It’s great to have outdoor space to entertain friends. Dani had wanted a backyard for a while and we even “renovated” our garage to be a hang-out space, which includes an inflatable hot tub! One of the very best things we did was, after a recent trip to Europe, bought ourselves each an electric scooter, which people ride constantly over there. It’s insanely fun to ride up and down Ridgewood Avenue, and we often scoot over to Rita’s Ices or to have breakfast at The Corner in Montclair. 

What was your buying experience like?

Even though our friends had recommended Lina as an agent, Dani actually discovered the house herself on Zillow, where she had, coincidentally, once worked. We went to an Open House and really loved the Bloomfield place, but it was more than we could afford, and we weren’t in a position to move so quickly. A few weeks later, we got in touch with Lina and she took us to a few houses in different towns so we could see the variety of what was available. They dropped the price on the first house and Lina counseled us on how to bid. Then she counseled us on everything else, including attending the home inspection and asking all the follow-up questions that we had no idea to ask. She was a great resource every step of the way, including after the sale when we had water in the basement. She actually came over on a Saturday during the holidays to help us figure out how to solve our problem. 

What’s turned out better than you expected?

Getting to and from the city is easier than we thought. The bus is a few houses away. It’s a longer commute than from Long Island City, but we don’t mind it. A lot of our social life involves our city friends, so we’re often there, or our friends come here. If we’re out late, we don’t typically splurge on Ubers from the city. Instead, we figured out that if we miss that last bus, we can take a slightly later train to Secaucus and Uber from there, which is a lot cheaper. And if we’re driving, it’s so much quicker than Ossining (which was our “test suburb”). Here, we're close to New York, close to big box stores (which, I’m embarrassed to admit, is a plus!), and close to anything we want to do in Montclair. Our next purchase may be a guest scooter.

From Brooklyn to Maplewood with Jersey

Rebecca works in a Brooklyn-based consulting firm and Dave is a freelance musician. They were living in an apartment in the Kensington section of Brooklyn with their dog, Jersey, for 7 years. In February 2019, they moved to Maplewood and into their first house. 

Why Maplewood? 

After years of renting, Dave and I decided we needed more space. We looked at towns that were on the train line, relatively close and affordable, which ruled out most New York suburbs. I grew up in Edison, NJ and, in my mind, all New Jersey towns were like that – kind of bland suburbia. I know it seems crazy, but I didn’t even know New Jersey had cute, fun towns like Maplewood.  

What’s your favorite thing about living here?

I love walking Jersey around town, with all the trees and greenery. (Coincidentally, we named our dog Jersey long before we ever moved here.) I now work from home four days a week, and there’s a coffee shop that I can walk to from my house, which I love. We both love Maplewood’s downtown, and it’s been easy to become a part of the community. I joined the planning committee for our block party, which was a great experience. We didn’t have anything like that where we lived in Brooklyn.

Any challenges you care to share?

As first-time buyers, we knew very little about the process of buying a house. When you have no clue what you’re doing, it can feel like you’re constantly jumping through hoops. Lina was this extremely knowledgeable presence, guiding us every step of the way. She kept us on our deadlines. She knew what to do when, who to hire for what. She is frank and direct and completely no BS, which we both really appreciated. If not for her, we would have thrown up our hands. 

What’s turned out better than you expected? 

I didn’t realize how great it would be to have jitney service to the train. We could walk, but it’s a long walk, especially if it’s raining. Dave is super psyched to have a driveway where he can now easily load all his equipment for a gig. I think the biggest surprise, though, was how easy the transition was. It felt like no adjustment at all. We moved in, and we were like, ok, we’re home.