Happy 10th Anniversary to Us! Century 21 Cedarcrest Realty Celebrates Ten Years of Consistent Growth and Superior Service

In June 2009, John Sass became broker/owner of CENTURY 21 Cedarcrest Realty, Inc. at its Caldwell office. John and the team are celebrating the agency’s tenth anniversary this month, marking the milestone with pride, a shelf full of regional and national real estate industry awards, and a second office in Little Falls to better serve home buyers and sellers as well as commercial clients throughout North Jersey.

Prior to taking ownership of Cedarcrest Realty, John had worked in other CENTURY 21 offices in recruiting and training—a major driver in the agency’s professional development program for real estate agents at all experience levels. All agents receive training in sales and customer care, the transaction process, contracts, and using the digital marketing tools provided by CENTURY 21 Real Estate most effectively to their clients’ advantage.

The company, which started with six people in 2009, has grown 15-fold to over 80 real estate agents today—some among the region’s highest producers—plus a director of career development and two sales managers. Here’s a look at some of our achievements over the past decade:

Ten years of growth and recognition

  • Grew sales volume by 500%, from $20 million in 2009 to $110 million today
  • Multiple awards for sales volume, gross closed commissions and customer service:
    • CENTURY 21 Quality Service Pinnacle Award every year since 2010, based on a high level of customer satisfaction
    • CENTURY 21 Gold Medallion Office Award for production, 2012-2017
    • CENTURY 21 CENTURION® Award for superior production, 2018
    • CENTURY 21 President’s Award, 2018 – the most prestigious award given by the system to producers, teams and offices that achieve both CENTURION® level production and the Quality Service Pinnacle Award in the same year
    • Gold medal as “Best Realtor” in the Suburban Essex magazine’s Best of Essex Readers’ Choice Awards, 2015-2018
    • Numerous New Jersey REALTORS® Circle of Excellence awards for sales
  • Added Fine Homes & Estates division in 2015
  • Designated by CENTURY 21 Real Estate as a certified commercial specialist in 2018
  • Opened second office at 44 Main Street in Little Falls in March 2019
  • Top donation site for 10 years in a row for the U.S. Marines Toys for Tots holiday gift program in addition to supporting Easter Seals, NJ Special Olympics and area charities that aid the local community

“I’ve always cultivated a family feeling that values teamwork, which translates into better customer service out in the field,” said John as he looks toward the future. “We are well-positioned to continue our forward trajectory as we strive to always deliver—in the words of CENTURY 21 Real Estate—relentless service and commitment, and a superior experience for everyone involved.”

Working with Millennial First-Time Home Buyers

With most first-time home buyers falling within the millennial age range (those born between 1981 and 1996, ages 23 to 38 this year), real estate professionals might be interested in findings revealed in a recent Chase Home Lending survey. The survey was done among 1000 millennials about home ownership.

It turns out that they making smart financial decisions and saving money to make home ownership a reality. In fact, responses point to millennials being hyper-focused on the home buying journey. More than two-thirds of respondents said they want to talk about the process and about real estate topics, such as affordability and neighborhoods, with their friends.

Some other key findings include:

  • Seventy percent say they are willing to cut back on weekend activities in order to buy a home within the next 12 months – they are curtailing their shopping, dining out, movie-going and spa visits among their expense reduction tactics
  • Women are slightly more open to this idea than men
  • Fifty-two percent of first-time home buyers feel financially ready now
  • Many are optimistic about the home buying process
  • Seventy-one percent of women are willing to discuss real estate topics with friends while over 50 percent of men are comfortable talking about these on social media

Our takeaways at Century 21 Cedarcrest

1 – Real estate agents who provide an excellent transaction process with millennial homebuyers are likely to receive more referrals. After all, if these buyers are talking to their peers about the home buying journey, they are more likely to refer those agents with whom they are having a positive experience. This group values peer opinions; make sure you’re part of that.
2 – Members of this demographic are serious about positioning themselves for home ownership; and they want to learn more about becoming home owners. Whatever information or guidance you can provide will be a positive part of the transaction and help position you, as their real estate agent, as a trusted resource worth their referrals.
3 – If improving their credit score is an issue they are working on, or if they want to better understand home mortgages, look at your network to see who you can refer to help these home buyers make their dream of ownership a reality.
4 – With more than half of millennial first-time home buyers stating they feel financially ready to purchase a home, help them keep up the anticipation and excitement with relentlessly excellent service.

At Century 21 Cedarcrest Realty, we pride ourselves on making the process as smooth as possible for first-time home buyers. We understand you’ll have lots of questions and our team has the answers—and the listings that meet your criteria, from neighborhoods to school systems to town services and more. Whether it’s a condominium, townhouse, or single-family home, contact Century 21 Cedarcrest about what you’re looking for.

Is It Possible to Sell a Home in the Winter?

Is It Possible to Sell a Home in the Winter?

A lot of people look at the winter season as an absolutely horrific time of year to purchase a home. Truth be told, it’s not always the most pleasant time of the year, but it’s still possible to sell.

What are the Drawbacks?

You’re fighting a lot in the winter months. First, you have to compete with the holiday season, during which everyone tends to focus on each day and generally not on moving. Then you have the deepest part of the winter to contend with, including bitter cold, ice, and snow. People just don’t want to go out in the dark, especially in dreary conditions.

The Benefits of a Winter Sale

The benefits are, of course, that any buyer you do meet is very likely moving quickly and with purpose. Many winter buyers do so for a reason – a job relocation, a divorce – some sort of need. They don’t tend to have a ton of time to shop around and aren’t interested in prolonging the process.

Believe it or not, the numbers support not waiting until the Spring to put your home on the market. According to the Redfin Research Center, winter listings are 9% more likely to sell, are likely to sell a week faster than other homes, and generally sell for 1.2% more than home sold during other times of the year. That’s huge!

How to Sell Faster in the Winter

You will, of course, need to make some effort to make your home appealing during the winter months. Make sure your home is always well-list, especially since people looking to buy may be visiting after work, when it’s colder. Make sure your driveway and walkways are cleared of snow and are salted to prevent dangerous ice accumulation.

Make sure the inside of your home is warm and inviting as well, and ensure your holiday clutter is carefully put away. A warm, clean home will allow potential visitors to envision themselves living in your space, no matter how dreary it is outside.

Not sure if winter is right for you? Talk to your real estate agent. We can help you decide when and how to list your home and what price points are best.

 

7 Simple Secrets for First-Time Home Buyers

7 Simple Secrets for First-Time Home Buyers

Psst! Hey, you! Buying your first house? We know a few things we think you should know. Things that will ensure you end up in a house you can afford in a neighborhood you love – without having to shell out a ton of money later on to make avoidable repairs. Ready? Here we go…

Counseling is Available – for Free

There are a lot of non-profit organizations who provide housing counselors. Talk to one. These individuals can help you to assess your finances, life situation, and other considerations and help you determine if it’s really the right time for you to buy.

You Need to Understand Your Lifestyle

We’d like nothing better than to sell you the house of your dreams, but the realist inside knows that not everyone has a lifestyle that makes homeownership feasible. Take a close look at your field of work, the current economy, and recent trends. Does buying a home make financial sense?

Assess Your Finances

A lot of people look at homes before looking at their finances and this is a HUGE mistake. You need to consider your credit history, capital for a down payment, capacity to pay your bills, and the collateral (condition of the house you want to buy). There are a lot of online estimators you can use to assess your finances. Try one.

Have a Bottom Line

Walk into every situation using your head, not your heart. You may be in love with a home, but if the seller won’t budge on the price, you have to know when to walk away. Just because you’re approved for a certain mortgage amount doesn’t mean you should buy a house for that same high price.

Shopping for Necessities

A lot of people look at the home but forget about the rest. Make sure you consider the amount of money you’ll need to spend on renovations. Oh, and appliances – the fridge, washer, dryer, and oven are important. If this is truly your first home, you’ll need furniture, too. Shop around and consider the prices as you calculate the total you’ll really need.

You’re Allowed to Make a Low Offer

That house you’re interested in has been sitting empty for a very, very long time. No one seems particularly interested and it’s still there despite you spending weeks looking at other homes. You want to make an offer, but you want to make a low offer. Do it. The worst that can happen is that the seller says no. And you never know; he might just say yes.

Have a Home Inspection

You’ve made your choice. Great! Now make sure you get a professional home inspection. Your offer should be contingent upon the results of the home inspection so that you can back out if the inspector finds something wrong with the home that can’t be handled reasonably. Make sure your offer includes this condition. It’s important.

Your real estate agent is here to help, no matter what. Give us a call and we’ll walk you through the process from start to finish. We can’t wait to see you settle into your first home!

 

Buying a Home: What Type of Insurance Do I Need?

Buying a Home: What Type of Insurance Do I Need?

Congratulations on your decision to buy a home! No matter where you end up, you’re going to need some sort of insurance to protect your new investment. Here’s what you need to know.

Buying a Condo

If you’re buying a condo, you’re going to need what is referred to as an HO-6 policy. Condominiums are interesting because while you own the inside of your unit (everything “from the walls in”), your association owns everything from the studs out. This includes common areas, the roof, and any other area not in your unit. Your insurance will specifically state that it only covers the area inside your unit, including permanent fixtures. You’ll also receive coverage for your personal property, loss of use if you need to rent a place to live after a covered cause of loss, and liability coverage to protect you if someone is hurt on your property.

Buying a House You’ll Live In

The most commonly known type of homeowner’s insurance policy, for a house in which you’ll live, is the HO-3, though there are now other variations. The traditional homeowner’s policy includes coverage for the house itself, coverage for additional structures (like a detached shed or garage), personal property coverage for your belongings, loss of use coverage, and personal liability coverage.

Buying a House As an Investment Property

Are you buying a home as an investment property or to rent to others? In this case you’ll need a HO-2 policy, or a dwelling policy. This type of policy protects your interest in the building and the detached structures, and also includes personal liability coverage. If you rent the home to someone else, he’ll need to buy his own renter’s insurance policy to protect her personal property and his personal liability. Talk to your insurance agent if you’re renting your home to ensure you get the exact coverage you need.

A lot of mortgage companies will require you to purchase insurance upfront for the first year while others will include the cost in the mortgage payments. Ask your real estate agent if you need help finding someone to write your insurance policy, or if you aren’t sure what you need to satisfy closing requirements.

7 Tips for Negotiating the Purchase of Your Next Home

7 Tips for Negotiating the Purchase of Your Next Home

You’ve been pre-approved for a mortgage. You’ve done your homework and you know what you can realistically fit into your budget. You’ve found your dream house bit it’s just slightly out of range. What can you do? Negotiate, of course.

Don’t Be Afraid of a Low Offer

Don’t be afraid of a low offer – ever. It doesn’t take a lot of work for your real estate agent to share your bid with a potential seller, so start low (lower even than you think they might take) and work your way back up. Just make sure you know where your stop point is.

Don’t Plan on Reopening Negotiations

If you do place an offer, make sure it is contingent upon a home inspection. If you do find something wrong with the house, don’t assume the seller will renegotiate. You may be eligible for a credit at closing to pay for the repairs yourself, but don’t assume you’ll be able to drop the price of the house significantly. Be prepared to walk away.

Ask for Repairs

That said, don’t be afraid to ask for repairs. If you don’t ask, you’ll ever know, and you certainly won’t receive. Wait until your inspection is finished and then ask for all of your repairs at once.

Do Your Homework

Find out why the seller is moving. This info will help you determine how quickly the seller may want to go to closing, or even if he may want or need to rent the house back for a short period of time. You should also find out if the house is in foreclosure, how long it’s been on the market, and what neighboring homes have gone for.

Move Quickly

Don’t assume you’re the only buyer placing an offer. If you receive a counteroffer, respond to it very quickly. The longer you wait, the more time other buyers may have to make a better deal with the seller. Once your offer is accepted, you’re in!

Never Bypass Your Agent

You have a quick question about the house? Never, ever go to the seller directly. It sounds complicated, but going through your agent and allowing her to ask the seller’s agent is the safer route. It protects you from misunderstanding legal jargon and, to be honest, it’s part of what you’re paying for.

Communicate with Your Lender

Keep tabs on your offer numbers and ask your mortgage broker to recalculate your monthly payment as you make changes. This will help you to avoid surprises if your offer ends up being higher than you anticipated (or lower, for that matter).

At the end of the day, your real estate agent is there to help you with negotiations. Never be afraid to ask questions or request negotiations. Doing so could land you in your dream home!