NJ Real Estate

New To Market: 152 Forest Hill Rd. West Orange

This 4-bedroom renovated English colonial has so much going on inside. Majestic stone fireplace in the living room. New kitchen and formal dining room. Cozy den and a completely finished basement. Plus, a master bedroom suite with fireplace and dressing room. I happen to adore the third-floor retreat – a paneled enclave with a view of New York City.

There’s a lot to love about living in West Orange. This home is very close to two of my favorite hiking destinations: Eagle Rock Reservation and South Mountain Reservation. When I hit the ridge of Eagle Rock, I look out onto the Manhattan skyline and marvel at how lucky we are here to be so close to New York City and still be able to spend hours hiking trails that are literally a few minutes drive from our house.

This home has the added bonus of having quick access to Route 280 and is steps away from the commuter jitney. It’s also an easy drive to the nearly new South Mountain Recreation Complex (zoo, ice-skating, mini-golf, paddle boats, zip line, and reservoir walkway), an expansive Whole Foods Market and the inimitable Short Hills Mall.

If you’d like to see this or other homes in the area, please call or text! I love showing people around!  (973) 809-5277



Tax Appeals Due April 1 !!

tax season

I pride myself on being with my clients for the long haul. Not just showing properties and taking someone through the sale, but also helping them get acclimated to the town. The schools, the arts scene, the night life, the outdoor recreation - this area has so much to offer (truly SO MUCH) that I often feel like I get to know some of my clients better after they're settled in and they call on me for info.

This time of year is especially busy as the market starts to explode with listings, and also as the deadline looms for filing tax appeals. Many of my clients call on me for comps - one of the many factors involved in filing an appeal. The deadline for filing is April 1.

I'm also happy to talk to my clients about what kind of improvements will yield the best return when it's time to sell. Some folks worry that they're asking me for too much extra customer service. Hardly. In fact, that's what I've built my reputation on!

A Great Value in Glen Ridge: 8 Hathaway Place

8 Hathaway PlaceGood news for prospective buyers looking for homes in Glen Ridge: I have a new listing for a great house at a great price. 8 Hathaway Place is a very pretty four-bedroom Colonial in the north end of town. This home has all the charming architectural details one would expect from a home built in 1920, but it also has modern conveniences such as central air-conditioning, an open floor plan  and a finished rec room in the basement. Hathaway Place is a not a through street so this house offers a low-traffic location. It is available for $499,000.

8 Hathaway Place is also ideally located for commuters: it is walking distance to both bus and train service to New York City. The town of Glen Ridge boasts an excellent school district; New Jersey Monthly last year ranked its high school 12th overall out of 328 public high schools surveyed.  The town is also known for its charming gas lamps on every street corner. So if a lovely home at a reasonable price in a charming town with great schools appeals to you, don't hesitate to get in touch with me. I'd love to show it to you or join me at our open house Sunday 10/13 from 2 to 4pm.

Tips for Montclair Bicycle Commuters

bicyclecommuterAccording to the Natural Resources Defense Council, Americans are increasingly choosing to live in walkable communities, like Montclair, where there are more transportation choices that allow residents to live free of traffic jams and closer to their jobs, shopping and schools. The personal freedom, minimized carbon footprint, and cost-saving routines combine to create a vibrant and less stressful way of life.

While the notion of commuting at least part way by bike sounds idyllic, forewarned is definitely forearmed. Here are some tips to consider before strapping on your helmet and loading your briefcase onto the luggage rack.

Unless your office has a handy shower available to you, consider carefully what you to choose to wear on your commute. There's nothing worse than arriving sweaty with no reasonable way to freshen up. Ride slowly, and choose clothing that breathes. Always carry a packable rain jacket, preferably one with armpit zippers, which you can throw on quickly in the event of rain or brisk winds.

Saddlebags are a great way to carry your gear - lock, pump, tools, raincoat, lunch, laptop, what have you. Choose a model that's weatherproof. It will keep rain, snow and puddles at bay. They also keep the weight off your back, letting you balance your bicycle for optimum stability. Most come with quick release catches, allowing you to grab and go once you've parked the bike for the day.

Don't forget about the bike. Keeping your bike in good condition and well-tuned is the best way to minimize the amount of energy it will take to ride back and forth to work or the station. Check your tire pressure regularly, and make sure that your gears are properly adjusted.

Bicycle or multi-modal commuting is a great way to enjoy both the urban experience as well as the great outdoors, and Montclair offers the best of both. Built before the advent of the automobile, it is pedestrian-friendly and architecturally eclectic, and I'd love to help you make it your home. Visit my website, give me a call on my mobile at 973-809-5277, or send me an email at info@walkablesuburb.com, and let's find you the perfect Montclair home.


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      Living Green with Gray

      gray_russell_01_5x71Yet another reason why I love Montclair: Gray Russell, our Environmental Affairs Coordinator (how many towns even have an Environmental Affairs Coordinator?), was recently honored as New Jersey's "greenest" public official. According to an article on Baristanet.com, Russell received his Garden State Green Award on May 18 at Kean University. The award is also known as a Boggie, a reference to the bog turtle, once abundant in New Jersey and now endangered.

      At the awards ceremony, Russell said, "We've come a long way in our efforts toward lowering our carbon footprint, but there's much more that we can do," which really resonated with me. I love that, with its bike lanes and EV charging stations, Montclair is trying to move away from fossil fuel-dependent cars.

      Another factor in our becoming known as a green community is our layout. Unlike newer towns, where residential and commercial areas are often separated by highways, Montclair has always integrated the two. Many of my clients have told me how much they enjoy being able to walk to restaurants, shops, even a movie theater. While we wait to see what new initiatives Russell is planning, this Montclair Realtor will be reducing her own carbon footprint just by using her feet.



      There! I Said It: You'll Be Happier Living in Montclair...

      You'll be happier living in Montclair than in  most other suburbs - A bold statement, I know. It's subjective, but there are in fact, a three key predictors of happiness -  1. health 2. wealth and 3. social connectedness.  Because of its  street layout, design and diversity of housing  Montclair offers  opportunities to foster all three.  Here are some examples.



      • Many parks and sports facilities where you can exercise and meet people.
      • Places to walk and bike to.
      • Streets with sidewalks so you can interact with other walkers.
      • Mixed-use and diverse housing styles/prices - from thrifty to extravagant.
      • Good public transportation so you don't always need to take your car.
      • Small, owner operated businesses - where they know you by name.
      • Lots of cultural venues for music, art and entertainment
      • A certain density of population so you don't feel isolated

      I'm sure there are some die hard cul-de-sac fans out there as well as few Office Max aficionados.  So for those of us whose suburban dream is a three car garage and good access to the mall, I propose that Montclair may not be a good fit.  There's always Mt. Olive though.

      A Prophet Speaks: When to Buy a Home

      As someone who makes a living helping people buy and sell homes in New Jersey, I have a lot of respect for a former Goldman Sachs banker named John R. Talbott. Talbott clearly understands housing markets; he saw the coming collapse long before many industry professionals did. In 2003 he published The Coming Crash in the Housing Market and followed it up three years later with Sell Now! The End of the Housing Bubble. So when I saw his piece "Homes--Buy Now!" in the Huffington Post last month, I was intrigued.

      Talbott notes that home prices have tumbled: adjusted for inflation, homes are currently selling for around what they were back in pre-bubble 1997. In addition, mortgage rates are at historic lows. Talbot doesn't necessarily think that these ultra-low rates are good for the American economy when our national debt is equal to our total GDP and more than four times the amount of total tax revenues. He foresees the return of  inflation and high interest rates as the only solution to our huge national debt. If he is correct, as he has been in the past, then this really is the best possible time to buy a home.

      2011: Healthy Homes and More Walking

      I wanted to share this link to home design trends for 2011, which I found on the "Greenhouse" blog on usatoday.com.  This Montclair Realtor is happy to report that among the trends listed is a growing interest in urbanism, and correspondingly, walkable suburbs.

      The New Urbanism movement originated back in the early 1980s as a reaction to suburban sprawl; now it appears to be going mainstream.  According to Jenny Sullivan, a senior editor at  Builder (a construction industry publication), "suburbs are starting to feel more like little cities as planners and developers find ways to weave density and walkability into existing hot spots."  Obviously I'm a huge proponent of walkability, so I find this development very encouraging. A walkable suburb provides more opportunities for exercise and interaction with one's neighbors, not to mention less air pollution from car exhaust fumes.

      Another major trend is a push for environmentally friendly homes. According to Sullivan, today's homebuyers want to "extend their wellness equation to where they live." As a result, they are increasingly demanding low-VOC (volatile organic compound) paints, stains and sealants, as well as cabinets and furniture made of  sustainable natural materials such as bamboo and eucalyptus. For more on 2011 home design trends go to the Greenhouse blog on the USA Today website.

      Wishing you a happy and healthy 2011.

      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.