Are You Considering Selling Your Home This Spring?

Are You Considering Selling Your Home This Spring?

For Morris, Essex and Union counties, 2013 was a great year. Some of these local markets are up 12-18% and with interest rates on the rise, people are still wanting to buy. If you have been considering selling your home, the spring 2014 market will be a great time for you to sell.

If you are thinking about selling your home this spring, there a few things you need to know. First of all, the spring market tends to start earlier here than other parts of the country because our market is affected by Wall Street bonuses. These bonuses usually come out in December and January causing these buyers to start early. Secondly, if there are things you need to do with your house, I would be happy to advise you on what requires attention when preparing to sell.

To check your current value and neighborhood activity in your area please visit

If you have any questions, call me at (973) 214-0691. Happy holidays to all and the very the best in 2014!

Is Now the Time to Sell Your Home?

Is Now the Time to Sell Your Home?

I am often asked if people are doing themselves a disservice by listing their home before or during the holidays. There are some great reasons for listing your home in the “slower” months (i.e. November and December). First of all, the buyers who are shopping around this time of year are serious buyers and the window shoppers usually stay home this time of year. There is also a lot less inventory this time of year so you have less competition for those serious buyers that are out there. With this time of year also prime for job relocation, those buyers are serious and motivated and are willing to pay top dollar for a great home. Homes typically look the best during the holidays due to the decorations and homes being in order to host family. With your home looking its best, it can be a great time to show your home. Finally, with your selling your home now, you are positioning yourself to be a buyer in the spring and allowing yourself a head start when there are more buyers and more homes on the market.

If this is something you are considering and would like consultation, I am happy to speak with you on a one-on-one basis. Give me a call at (973) 214-0691. Thanks and have a great day!

New Home Construction in the Short Hills Area

New Home Construction in the Short Hills Area

I wanted to focus on some of the high-end homes on the market, specifically in Millburn and Short Hills. Many of our clients are interested in new construction and there are many misconceptions about what it takes to get into new construction and what you get for the money. First, there is very little new construction under $2 million. Actively on the market, there are two homes that are under $2 million and they are both on White Oak Road.

Of the 37 homes that are on the market above $1.7 million, one-third is new construction. Comparatively, 1/3 of the houses that have sold in that $1.7 million range were new construction as well. In the past 12 months, 81 homes have sold in that price point and 25 of those were new construction.

In regards to the $2-2.5 million price point, you typically get between 0.3-0.4 acre lot, 6-7 bedrooms and 6-7 bathrooms. When you breach the $2.5 million price point, you can expect to get between about a ½-3/4 of an acre lot. The average days on market for these homes is 75 days, but this can be larger due to the fact that some homes are re-listed and the selling price is about 95% of the list price. Since the homes are built on spec by the builders, it takes time for the price to come down to market value; this is where the buyers usually come in. The most raved about features for new homes is the high ceilings, low maintenance and ten year warranty.

If you have any questions or interests in these homes, please call me (973) 214-0691. Thanks and have a great day!

Where are the best places to trick-or-treat in Summit, NJ?

I’m here in Summit with Julie Sondhi, the lead buyer agent on my team. This time of year always has people looking to move to Summit. Julie is here to give us a taste of the town and what to do in this Fall/Halloween season. “There are loads of things to do here in summit,” Julie said. “The YMCA is just across the street from us and they have a haunted house, which is amazing,” she continued, “It’s really scary.” Julie also explained that the fall atmosphere of Summit is truly special, “The kids come out Halloween night to trick or treat around here which is fantastic, because there are some streets particularly around the Brayton School and everyone wants to go to because they have the best treats around.”

Speaking of that area, there are some houses that are coming up so don’t hesitate to call Julie at 908-418-3390 for a showing! It still remains a great time to buy as interest rates have stayed low and for people that are thinking of selling in Summit, the demand is very high due to the extremely low inventory. If you are thinking about buyer or selling, please give us a call! Thanks and have a great day.

In Millburn Short Hills The Real Estate News Is Good for Sellers

With October upon us, the market is in extreme favor of the sellers. In Millburn, the total tax assessment versus the price that homes are sold for at the end of 2012 was 108%. Fast forward to August 2013, that number rose to 126%. The homes that are clean and ready to move in are hitting the top of this range while homes that need a lot of work are falling far below that.

Homes are not just selling, but selling quickly. For homes that closed in August, the average time spent on the market was 25 days (for all of 2012, the number was 56 days). The average home that has sold in Millburn year to date is $1.3 million, which last year was just under $1.2 million. Although the market is extremely positive for sellers, buyers are becoming extremely frustrated due to the minimal selection. The buyers have every right to be upset as there are 20% less homes on the market than this time last year.

With a shortage of homes, historically low rates and buyer’s moods more than willing to pull the trigger and write a contract, great things are happening for sellers. So if you are thinking about selling, this is the best time to do so. If you have any questions or would like to know the value of your home, call me at (973) 214-0691.

Shira Rost Joins our Team!

Help Us Welcome Our Newest Team Member

I am so excited to introduce the newest member of our team, Shira Rost. We couldn't be happier to have her join us in better serving you. Find out why Shira chose our team to work with and what stood out most to her!

Should I renovate or sell my home?

Should I renovate or sell my home?

Today, I’m with Ileana Martin-Novoa of Katz Novoa Architects. Ileana is an extraordinary architect and she is here to tell us about what’s going on with all the renovations in town and how to add value to your home.

Ileana Martin-Novoa

There is a lot of rebuilding and renovations going on. Some of it’s because of the storm, but a lot of people are finally ready to start those projects they have been putting off. The economy is bouncing back and people feel more confident.

It’s important to always keep in mind resale value when deciding to renovate.  Right now we are seeing a lot of homeowners renovating kitchens, master bathrooms and even adding mudrooms.

We like to help our clients stay on track by guiding them in a direction that will help add value to their home. We know that new construction can be overwhelming, that’s why we make sure we are with our clients from the very beginning to the very end. At Katz Novoa Architects we help with the coordinating, the building and the budgeting.

If you want to renovate your home, we’d be more than happy to help.  You can call us at 973.379.1331 or visit our website at

Or if you want to find out the value of your home call Shannon at 973.214.0691 or email me at

Millburn and Short Hills School System – Continued Excellence

When you have children, I know how important it is for you to find a home with a great school system nearby. A lot of clients I talk to say the reason they chose this area to live in is because of the great schools. Today, I am standing in front of Millburn New Jersey High School and I want to tell you about the 2013 graduating class.

This was an exceptional class; ten percent of the class will be attending Ivy League schools in the fall and 40% will be attending schools ranked within the top 50 in the United States by US News and World.

There is excellence in all of the schools here. So let me and my team help you find a great home in this area. Or if you are looking to sell, give us a call! Now is a great time, inventory is low!

Summit NJ Offers Several Great Fitness, Health and Sports Facilities

It’s gorgeous outside! And when there is beautiful weather, naturally people want to get out there and get active! So today, we wanted to share with you some of the fantastic options that are available to Summit NJ and area residents when it comes to getting out and getting busy.

We have some great fitness and health facilities, starting with the traditional sports clubs like the YMCA and other community centers. There are also some great options and various programs offered by places like the Lifetime Club in Berkeley Heights or the newest craze to hit the Summit area, Equinox – a city gym that has branched over to our neck of the woods.

Julie and her family spends a lot of time at the Chatham Club – a unique club that offers all the typical stuff you would expect from a sports club but with so much more. You can engage in squash and fencing plus the facility is used by many area private schools as a training spot for squash and other sports.

How about a tour of these and other great things in the lovely Summit area? Just give us a call. As your trusted real estate advisors we’d love the opportunity to show you around...

908 418 3390

Summit, New Jersey Offers Many Things – Diversity, Great Schools, Cosmopolitan Lifestyle and More

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When people shop around for locales to establish their roots there are many factors that contribute to their decision. Some of the standard things for families are the obvious – education systems, economic growth, extra curricular activities, availability of entertainment options and parks or recreation facilities.

But another aspect of establishing a life in a new area is the community itself – more precisely the diversity of a community. As we spend time among others around us that have come from around the globe, we enjoy varied cultures, new and different ways of doing things, different languages and more. It enhances our lives, expands our children’s experiences in school and provides a wider understanding of our world around us.

With our unique advantage of being a small town yet within such close reach to the Big City, many of our residents thoroughly enjoy this aspect of what the Summit and surrounding areas has to offer.

So as you consider the excellent schools, gorgeous greens, exciting shopping, great restaurants and fantastic community of our towns – remember that you will also be gaining a family of people from all walks of life and all corners of the earth.

Call us today and make this area home!
908 418 3390

The Craze For New Construction

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When you consider moving to this area you will notice that many people tend to gravitate toward new construction homes. There are several reasons for that. It’s safe to say that most people love new and shiny things – and when buying a home it’s no different. But aside from that, quality brand new homes are constructed with the latest trends in mind. They are built to code, sometimes using state-of-the-art features and materials and often have high trending features that buyers today want.

Depending on when you get in on the process of buying a brand new home, there is the added benefit of being able to customize homes to suit them to one’s specific needs. The luxury features that come with new construction are exactly what buyers are often seeking and no matter how updated a resale home is sometimes it’s just not enough.

Currently in our marketplace we have homes that are completely move-in ready, some are waiting for your input on things like counters, floors, and other finishes and still more homes are so early on in the process that you can completely customize them.

New homes are a little harder to come by – there is not always enough land in the areas that people want new homes in so unless builders come in and tear down existing homes sometimes finding the perfect combination is a stretch. Most of these homes in our area start at around $2M; if you’d like to see one of my listings or any other on the market right now – call me today!

Downsizing to Condos Offers Much Relief to Longtime Homeowners and Renters

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When you think of downsizing from your home, usually the word “condo” comes to mind. The switch is an ideal one for people from many walks of life, whether a young professional looking for the amenities you get with a condo or an older couple wanting to slow down on maintenance.

What makes a condo so attractive in the downsizing process?

Live More, Work Less
The number one most popular reason for many condo buyers is that owners no longer have the need to worry about maintenance. Most condo associations include lawn and garden upkeep plus snow and trash removal. Gone are the days of needing to  water your lawn, shovel the driveway or deal with some utility companies month after month.

Resort-Like Amenities
Unlike single-family homes, condo associations often come with some amazing amenities. Pools, hot tubs, club houses, fitness centers and other features depending on the association – are just a few of the perks condo owners get to enjoy. Your Realtor® will help you choose an association that meets all your needs, including finding one with association fees that work with your budget.

Convenience and Ease
Oftentimes people that sell their larger homes and choose to go to smaller condos do so for the ease and convenience as they get older. Single floor and apartment-like living is an added benefit of the condo lifestyle, a choice many people make as they moving to the next stage in their lives.

Added Insurance Coverage
Since the association has a master insurance coverage that typically includes exterior surfaces of the home, condo owners enjoy some perks when it comes to home insurance premiums. The association is also under pressure to maintain the exterior for consistency almost guaranteeing a home that is kept up.

New or Newer Construction Available
There are a lot of new or newer condos that have built in the recent past, allowing buyers to enjoy the amenities and finish that comes with newly built homes. Depending on price range and specific condo association, some units are not small at all and they are decked out with all the bells and whistles you may have wanted in a single-family home!


We are seeing a lot of condo sales moving and the price range varies widely, anywhere from $300,000 to as high as $1.5M on average.

The process of making a decision to downsize, then getting rid of years worth of belongings to move to a smaller place can be overwhelming. Having a professional by your side will help you to organize the process as well as assist you to get through some of the hurdles that come with such a big lifestyle change.

Contact us today!

Multiple Offers – How to Win

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Everyone’s talking about it. The market is on fire and if you’re a seller, THAT’S GREAT! But if you’re out there trying to find a home to purchase right now there is plenty of competition and quite frankly, it’s probably getting to be very difficult.

But through my many years of experience and dealing with multiple offer situations while representing the buyer’s side of the transaction, I’ve developed some very effective strategies to help you win the bid. Here are five tried and true ways to turn up the heat on your offer and get it noticed.

Know Your Limits Then Reach for the Sky
Now’s definitely not the time to be playing negotiating games. Sure, that might have been a strong strategy just a few years ago when there was an overabundance of homes on the market and not near as enough buyers to accommodate them. But today, it’s a completely different story. Figure out the highest price you are able and willing to comfortably pay in a multiple offer situation and don’t be afraid to offer that much.

Make It Clean, Make It Simple
As a Realtor® that also represents sellers, I often come across a stack of offers and am sitting there sorting through them with the expectation they will be presented to the seller. The last thing I want to do is confuse the seller with jumbled language, lengthy verbiage or unreadable handwriting leaving us both to wonder what an offer says. Write a simple, clean offer with as little room for confusion as possible without being vague. A simple cover letter summary page is a great way to highlight the bullet points of your offer.

Demonstrate Financial Strength
No seller wants to dapple with offers that are not 100% solid in terms of financial viability. When looking at several offers, a small earnest money deposit or limited down payment can be viewed as lack of interest of worse, appear to be an inability to afford the property. If you are offering to make a down payment, show proof of funds through a letter from your bank or investment firm and make sure to include a preapproval letter from your lender.

With Down Payment and Deposit, Less Is Not More
When sellers are reviewing offers they are looking for what they perceive as strong interest. It goes without saying that more money is a demonstration of high interest level but how you offer to pay is another consideration. Cash offers are always very attractive since they entail fewer contingencies and procedural hurdles to jump through. But even a larger down payment is more attractive than very little money down. If you can afford it, put down at least 10 percent on the home and submit an earnest deposit amount of at least 1% of the purchase price.

Minimize Contingencies
Many offers contain contingencies, upon which the purchase agreements depend before being executed. For instance, a buyer might make an offer on a home contingent of the sale of their existing home. There are also inspection and mortgage contingencies. You may not be able to eliminate all of them but whenever possible try to be flexible. Shorten the length of time for buyer investigations by offering to schedule your inspections soon after your offer is accepted.
These are just a few of the strategies we employ when serving our buyer clients in what is a very strong seller-controlled marketplace. If you’d like to hear some more of the tricks we have to get you the home of your dreams, contact me today at 973-214-0691.

Real Estate Market Update – March 2013

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As we speak, there are more sales and homes going under contract than we have seen in a long time. And when you consider that our inventory levels are also at an all-time low, it’s apparent just how hot the real estate market really is these days! We did a review of this year’s numbers compared to the same time last year and the numbers are staggering. Here’s a look:

Buyers Want to Buy But There is Almost No Inventory Out There

Our marketplace has seen some interesting ups and downs throughout the past but who could have predicted such low inventory levels? In fact, if you look across the board at all our towns hitting the MIdTown Direct Train lines, we have tons of buyers out there eager to buy and hardly any houses for them to choose from.

Multiple Offers, Bidding Wars and Artificially Inflated Prices Are Back

With the staggeringly few homes available on the market, homes that are priced well and in great condition are the first to go. And they go with a bang – with multiple offers and bidding wars that have been resulting in artificially inflated prices. Sellers are enjoying the upper hand, often getting more than asking price for the sale of their homes.

Inventory Levels Drastically Reduced from Last Year’s Numbers

In South Orange we currently have 20% fewer homes on the market compared to the same time last year.  West Orange is down by 30% and Berkeley is also down on inventory. Conversely, the number of homes going under contract is dramatically higher, with New Providence experiencing the highest jump at 79% more homes under contract this year. Chatham Township saw a 169% increase in pending contracts in the year’s first three months. Chatham Borough has a 50% increase of pending homes, Berkeley Heights is up 61% -- the list goes on.
All this means one thing for sellers; now is the time to jump off the fence! If you’ve been wondering if your home would sell or if you haven’t been sure whether it’s the right time – trust me when I tell you that it could not be a better time.

Tax Appeals 101 for the State of New Jersey; How to Save Money on Property Taxes

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Nobody likes to pay taxes. So when it comes time to pay taxes on your property, it’s the same drill every year; when on the one hand homeowners like to think their home has a high property value, at tax time they do their best to “lower” that value and pay less taxes.

Tax Appeal Filings Window Jan 1 to April 1, 2013
Right now, we are nearing the end of our window where homeowners can appeal their property taxes to their local municipality and attempt to lower their taxes. There is only one window of opportunity each year to do this and it has saved countless homeowners a lot of money. First, you need to find out whether your taxes are too high.

How to Investigate Your Property Taxes
The first thing you will need to do is to find out your tax ratio. This is the assessed value of your home, divided by the actual market value. The reason property values from the municipality are often different than what you might expect to sell your home for is that often due to limited resources a tax assessment can be one from a while back. Towns do not go back and assess all properties too often because of the sheer expense involved.

First, determine your home’s market value. Your Realtor® will pull comparable sales in your market to see what other similar homes have sold for in the previous year – and then come up with todays’ market value. Next, determine the ratio between your assessed value and the market value.

Finally, look up your municipality in Chapter 123 (New Jersey’s Statute that governs how properties are taxed) and if your ratio is more than 15% of the average ratio there is a good chance you will have a successful tax appeal.

Choosing a Real Estate Attorney for Your Tax Appeal
Once you realize there is a chance your tax appeal will be successful, meet with a qualified and reputable real estate attorney for a consultation. It is important to share accurate information and it is equally as important that you choose a good attorney that will be honest about your property. The risk with a failed attempt to appeal your property taxes is that you could end up having to pay higher property taxes.

Keep in mind, a good attorney will assess the likelihood of success in your case and let you know. Choose an attorney that will charge you based on a contingent fee, so that you only end up paying for their services if and when you have a successful tax appeal.
For more information on this topic or anything else real estate related, please contact our office today. You can reach Evan Drachman directly via phone or email and also visit his firm’s website (below).

Evan R. Drachman, Esq. | Dollinger Drachman, LLC
293 Eisenhower Parkway | Suite 310 | Livingston, New Jersey | 07039
p: 973-992-1700 x 106 | f: 973-992-6835 | direct fax: 973-629-1303 |

Great Places to Eat in Summit, New Jersey

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What is the cornerstone of a good life? Being happy! And how do many people define happiness? Being among the ones they love, in a place they adore, doing things they enjoy with the backdrop of fine entertainment and great food.

So today, we’re covering two aspects of this definition of happiness; a fantastic place and fabulous food. Summit, NJ is one of the most sought-after places to live with such amenities as gorgeous greens nestled among gardens, amazing parks and recreational facilities plus easy access to all areas in the region through the MidTOWN DIRECT train line. Add to that the many things to do and you’ll never tire of spending time in this laid back New England town.

Restaurants in Summit
There are a lot of great places to dine in Summit and here are just a few of our favorites. Although we only mention a few, there is much variety and ample availability of so many different types of cuisine in Summit. Enjoy!

La Pastaria
Nice family-owned Italian restaurant, perfect for dining indoors or outside for lunch or dinner.

This “contemporary comfort” restaurant, in their own words, provides delicious food for dining outside or inside.

Roots Steak House
The quintessential evening-out place for steak (and more)! This very popular restaurant rivals any high-end restaurant in NYC. Must try!
Visit their website for choice of menus

The Bombay Bistro (formerly Dabbawalla)
Enjoy delicious Indian cuisine through a variety of seasonal menus, with tasty Indian classics such as Chicken Tikka, Biryani, curries and more.

Residents of Summit know and love all the wonderful things to do and places to go – and the delicious array of restaurants is no exception. If you’d like to explore this great town, contact us today! We’d love to show you around and help you find the perfect place so you, too, can call Summit NJ home.

973 214 0691