Nutley Spring Cleaning: a Stitch in Time

There’s nothing like being able to bask in the warm glow of well-being a Nutley homeowner gets after finishing a thorough spring cleaning. It’s especially true when you realize how important the annual ritual can be in protecting your greatest asset: your Nutley property.

That warm glow results from doing more than just cleaning your home’s interior, though. It involves maintaining the property in the ways that will prevent having to take more costly steps later. There are three different tasks you can complete to get your home ready for the warm weather that’s on the way. If you follow these basic tips, your home will be looking its best – and the resulting beauty will be more than skin deep.

One of the most overlooked areas for most Nutley properties is its foundation. It is important to check your foundation for damage, and to patch and seal any cracks as soon as you discover them. The foundation is one of the first areas potential buyers (and their inspectors) examine when they get serious about writing an offer on a home. A sound foundation is essential for the obvious structural reasons — and it can even have an impact on utility bills.

May is also prime time for cleaning out all of the gutters on your property. When gutters clog, you can end up with leaks inside walls and into basements.  For the ladder-shy, the cost of a once-yearly gutter clearing service can be a prudent and cost-conscious choice (as anyone who’s experienced the major costs that result from neglecting the gutters will tell you)!

Spring is also a great time to paint the outside of your home. A fresh paint job gives your Nutley property the fresh look nothing else can. You don’t have to be selling your property to appreciate the ‘curb appeal’ – the real difference a fresh coat gives to any house. That paint job will also be more than just attractive: it will also prevent premature aging of the whole exterior.

Whether your current plans are to sell, rent, or stay put in your Nutley property, you’ll be rewarded by taking a day or two each spring to focus on these preventative care details.  If you need a referral for a handyman or other maintenance service, I’m always happy to recommend some of our reliable Nutley vendors. Call me anytime!

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        Closings Open the Door To Your New Nutley Home

        Surprises can be a lot of fun. Being blindsided when friends throw you a surprise birthday party is a fine example. Getting an unexpectedly large tax return is another. But when you’re about to close escrow on a new Nutley home, surprises are the last thing you need.

        One of the most important services I provide as your experienced Nutley real estate agent is to be there to help you sail through the process of a surprise-less closing. Even so, it’s important for you to review some basics of the steps we need to accomplish in advance. I consider it ‘surprise insurance’ for a successful closing.

        Financing

        Proper financing is the first step in being able to close on the home you’ve just fallen in love with. Ideally, this was arranged before you even began looking at Nutley homes for sale, but if you waited, time to get that financing secured is ASAP.  I help my clients pre-qualify for a loan well before we make it into escrow.

        Appraisal

        Equally vital is getting the subject property appraised by an experienced Nutley professional. This will give you the true value of the property. Even after you’ve fallen in love with a home (or maybe especially after), you need assurance that the price you are paying is what it is worth. As important, that appraisal will be one of the key points helping the bank decide to issue your loan.  I can help with a referral to a qualified professional (if the bank doesn’t require their own appraiser).

        Title

        Finally, selecting and hiring a reputable Nutley title company can help make the process of closing go much more smoothly.  This allows all of the parties to be protected through the entire closing process. Neglecting this important step can lead to surprises in the final closing – exactly what we’ve been working to avoid. It will also be important that you check every line of the estimated closing costs when presented – small mistakes here can cause big problems later, so plan your day to allow time to review the important parts of those documents.

        When your preparations have included these steps, you will find yourself well prepared to close your escrow without a hitch. And no surprises. If you are considering looking at homes to buy in Nutley, call me anytime – if you have questions, I have answers!

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          Think “Staging” — Selling A House is Theater!

          Deciding to put your house on the market? Recruiting an experienced Nutley listing agent will give you a leg up on the competition.  He or she will know where you need to spend money, and where you don’t.

          A good example is dealing with staging – the ‘show biz’ of the real estate world.  Complete staging is expensive and sometimes just is not practical.  A great listing agent will help you decide whether staging is imperative for your home – and if it is not, will offer some basic fixes to help you work with what you have.

          1. The first stage to set? The front yard. If the street view is untidy or the yard overgrown, you can lose your audience before the performance even begins. Of course, you will keep the lawn cut and fix the fences and gates – but also think creatively. People’s eyes are drawn to color, so adding a few cheerful annuals in pots and hanging baskets and placing them strategically can do wonders. If the front or garage doors are even a little bit chipped or flaking, sand and paint them. If trees or bushes are blocking sunlight from the front windows, take the trimming shears to them. All of this should take no longer than a weekend (and cost less than $150).

          2. Buyers are not really just an audience: you want them to be participants. You want them to be able to visualize their furnishings in your space. Professional stagers have a simple arithmetic rule:

          Subtracting Furniture = Adding Space

          You add space by removing bulky, old or mismatched furniture. As your listing agent, I can help you walk through the house and decide what should stay and what should go into storage. Moving them can take about a weekend; cost will be the price of storage (or half of your garage – the next best option).

          3. Have you ever walked into an expertly staged home and seen dirty socks hanging out in the bedroom?  Didn’t think so.  Nothing is quite as off-putting as evidence of personal hygiene.  Kitchens, bedrooms and bathrooms need special hospital-clean sparkle. Do laundry frequently, and why not use a stagers’ extra? Light candles, set air fresheners — and open windows wherever you can.

          The market has begun to show signs of new activity, but even so, similar homes are still competing for the same group of buyers. That’s why it is vital that you present your home as favorably as possible.  Staging decisions are a good example of how I, as a listing agent with comprehensive knowledge of our Nutley market, help you maximize your home’s potential. It is one of the ways I work hard for you – – just part of the complete service I am proud to offer. If you are considering listing a home in nutley, call me anytime for a consultation!

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            Selling Your Home in Nutley On Your Own? (For Sale By Owner)

            Here are some things you can do to Market Your Home on Your Own.

            All of life’s major projects take preparation, and selling a home in Nutley requires just that. Contacting my office is a pretty good place to begin, because selling a home efficiently and within a reasonable amount of time most often takes extensive knowledge of the Nutley market. A checklist is a good way to introduce the steps you can take to prepare for selling a home. Here’s a quick overview of five of the items I include in that checklist:

            1. The obvious first step is identifying any major problems and determining what should be done about them. Decide whether you are going to fix items like roof leaks, rewiring, insect infestations or the presence of asbestos — or whether you are going to reduce your asking price to reflect any unremediated issues. I can provide input to help you establish where possible value may be added or lost, and what is worth your time and investment to fix.

            2. Whenever you return home, take a moment to pause and visualize what someone driving by for the first time will see. Make a solid first impression by tidying the front yard and keeping the lawn neatly cut and edged. Strategically place colorful flowers in planters where that is appropriate. Repair fences and gates, and be certain that they look freshly painted. And if Fido has the run of the place, be sure that his (ahem!) evidence is nowhere to be seen.

            3. Stage your home to maximize its appeal – and keep in mind that staging needs to be fresh for every prospect. Remove any unnecessary furniture. That may well mean renting a storage unit to place it and all other clutter into (it’s bound to be a better solution than trying to jam everything into closets or the garage!). Paint walls in light, neutral colors. Remove heavy window treatments to let in as much light as you can (the ‘cheeriness factor’). Keep the kitchen and bathroom as spotless as possible. Make sure that your home smells fresh by opening windows and using flowers, candles or air fresheners; but be careful not to overdo it. I can be especially helpful at this stage, and if it’s indicated, we can discuss whether it makes sense to hire a professional stager.

            4. Have the property’s value appraised, and educate yourself about the competition. For a bank to issue a loan, your home must compare favorably with similar properties on the market. When we sit down to establish a list price, we’ll need to keep that research and the recent and best comparables in mind.

            5. This is my favorite to-do item: Be prepared to go! If a move is going to be in your future, you should begin the hunt for a new home, and be prepared to move quickly once you have an executed offer!

            These are just a few of the steps I help my clients take before listing to get top dollar for their properties. If you are considering selling a home in Nutley, call me today to see how I can put my marketing experience to work for you.

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                Nutley House for Sale? 3 Quick Fixes

                For those who are just about ready to list their Nutley house for sale this April, several simple yet cost-effective projects can be sure-fire buyer-pleasers. I am often asked to help my clients identify areas in their home that will benefit from improvements. I like to point to some simple changes that materially help a property’s ability to compete with any other house for sale in the Nutley area.

                Here are three of my favorite inexpensive fixes:

                1. Painting walls in pale neutral colors. Freshly painted walls erase years of wear from any room. They send prospective buyers a subtle message: here is a home where your family can create your own memories. Neutral tones are important, too. While you may personally prefer rich or bright colors, potential buyers may not. Beyond ensuring that rooms look as big, bright and airy as possible, you want potential buyers to picture spaces where their furnishings will fit in without redecorating. Pale beige or grey rooms work with furnishings of all colors, and wind up appealing to the greatest number of potential buyers.

                2. Clearing clutter. Clear kitchen and bathroom countertops, consign heavy furniture to storage, and stow the kids’ toys neatly out of sight. The object is to emphasize the impression of sufficient space. When buyers visit any house for sale, they are most drawn to those where it’s easy to picture all of their belongings fitting in easily – and that takes space.

                3. Keeping your cool. You want buyers to be comfortable as they walk through your house for sale, and at the same time want to signal that heating and cooling are not going to be problematic. Have your heating and air conditioning systems serviced so that they are in efficient working order. If you have a working fireplace, have the chimney swept, and light the fire in case we run into an unexpected chilly rainy day during a springtime open house. If the weather cooperates and the sun is shining, open windows and doors to create a nice fresh breeze. But if it’s too hot, be willing to crank up the AC!

                Whenever you list a house for sale, it’s important that you put yourself in the buyers’ shoes. Ask what are the key factors you would look for, and be sure your home reflects the answers. For any and all other questions you might have about selling your Nutley home, I’m here to help!

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                  What Nutley Mortgage Applicants Needed to Know

                  For credit-worthy Nutley homebuyers, getting a mortgage can be a walk in the park…or a nerve-wracking nightmare. The difference usually has to do with those ubiquitous Credit Reports – the ones TV commercials want to send you for free (at which point they will try to sell you not-so-free monthly services).

                  Anyone who has ever been stalled just as they reached the final stages of getting a mortgage or refinancing knows that getting mad doesn’t solve anything. But avoiding a last-minute problem is easy to do if you plan ahead. At least six months ahead. We like to assume that outfits as important as the reporting agencies know what they are doing, and in fact, they do. But they must start with the right information, which is where we come in. Nobody ever told us this in school, but it’s ultimately our responsibility to see that our credit reports are accurate.

                  Whether or not you think you will getting a mortgage or refi soon, here are some plan-ahead, proactive steps everyone can and should take. Monitor for these common stumbling blocks:

                  1. Inaccurate information on the credit report. The first step is to read your reports. It is very important that you request those free copies of your credit reports and dispute any negative items that seem to have appeared for no reason. All three credit bureaus are required to remove inaccurate information, and they will do so, but only after you tell them to. My experience is that the agencies can be quick to respond…or as slow as molasses in January. In Antarctica. The only sure way to set things right is to allow them time to correct or to ask for more information.

                  2. Carrying too much revolving debt adds an unnecessary obstacle for getting a mortgage. A large part of a credit score is based on your revolving debt ratios. Revolving debt should be kept at or under 20%. If you are carrying more revolving debt than that, take this lead-time to whittle it down to a more loan-attracting ratio.

                  3. Taking on new debt less than six months before getting a mortgage: bad idea. If you are planning on getting a mortgage or refinance, avoid taking on other new debt in the six months leading up to your application. This solves any question over whether you will be able to pay the new debt as well as the mortgage amount.

                  Time spent planning ahead and getting your financing in order will be well worth it once you find the home of your dreams and are ready to write an offer. Questions? Contact me anytime you wish to discuss pre-qualifying for a Nutley home.

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                    Nutley Residents Keep Ears Tuned to Tax Issues

                    This is usually the time of year when Nutley residents have gotten through tax season, heaved a sign of relief, and gone back to working on more important matters – like earning enough to make reducing taxes a goal worth pursuing.

                    This year, the latter part of April may be a little different. Because this is an election year, tax matters are already being widely debated, and changes that could affect everyone are more possible than usual. I am bringing these topics up for discussion with the firm caveat that your own planning (including Nutley home buying decisions) should always be made after consultation with the financial experts you trust. Currently, federal and NJ rules carry tax benefits that can greatly reduce a homeowner’s tax liability. They are very unlikely to be eliminated, but you may want to keep your ear tuned whenever you hear these topics under discussion, because seemingly minor changes can have major impacts.

                    Mortgage Interest and Points
                    Many renters found that they were able to use the standard deduction tables to simplify their federal filings. Homeowners, on the other hand, were usually better off using itemized deductions because of the welcome mortgage interest deduction. Qualifying points paid to obtain a mortgage can also generally be deducted in the year they are paid.

                    IRA Penalties
                    Everyone with a standard Individual Retirement Account has heard about the penalties for withdrawing funds before retirement age. But currently there is an exception in some home buying situations. Generally, some IRA funds can be applied to home buying (or building) a first home without those tax penalties. The catch is that you can only withdraw up to $10,000 over your entire lifetime (not annually). Those with Roth IRAs may find additional tax advantages, too.

                    Real Estate Taxes
                    Qualifying local and NJ property taxes can amount to sizeable deductions. If, in the home buying process, you reimbursed a seller for prepaid property taxes, that amount can qualify, too.

                    As in all financial planning, you should consult your accountant or other tax professional before making any important decisions. And whenever buying or selling a Nutley property makes sense for your family, I’m standing by to answer all of your real estate questions.

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