You Found Your Dream House Online – Now What?

Online shopping and e-commerce work great for clothing and housewares—but what about a house?

Many people start their home buying journey with online searches, made easy today by multiple listing services that real estate brokerages like CENTURY 21 Cedarcrest Realty subscribe to. Once only accessible to real estate professionals, these MLS listings are now readily available to consumers. But once you find a house online you want, then what do you do?

The importance of representation for buyers and sellers
If you think working without a real estate agent is easy—on either the home buying or selling side of the transaction—you might want to think again. According to CENTURY 21 Real Estate, there are around 180 steps involved in every successful real estate transaction.

Direct-to-consumer sales of homes or commercial properties lack a critical element in the sale or purchase of real estate—representation by a real estate professional, someone who works in your best interest to get you to the closing as smoothly as possible. There’s a lot at stake, and no real estate agent means you won’t having someone guiding you through all the steps in a DIY transaction.

When you work with a real estate agent, especially one who’s backed by an experienced, respected brokerage, you get service from start to finish, adding tremendous value and peace of mind, step by step.

  • Writing the contract of sale
  • Buyer pre-qualifications
  • Arranging and conducting showings
  • Staging the home
  • Pricing and marketing the property
  • Preparing buyers to make a strong offer that will be accepted
  • Presenting the buyer to the seller
  • Negotiations between buyer and seller
  • Mortgage pre-approval and follow-through on the loan
  • Setting up home inspection and appraisal

For many consumers, this is the largest dollar transaction they’ll conduct in their lives. There are numerous details to track during this important person-to-person arrangement. Having an experienced third party to handle the details is a key to success.

Award-winning service
At CENTURY 21 Cedarcrest Realty, we know what it takes to get buyers and sellers to the closing table, with annual service awards that recognize our commitment to our customers.

As a full-service real estate brokerage, we don’t skimp on service; rather, we invest in each transaction.

  • We work closely with our buyers to show them how to structure a strong offer, which is especially important in a tight real estate market like North Jersey.
  • We personally present buyers to sellers the old-fashioned way—with meaningful conversation.
  • Our team will help stage your home or recommend professional home stagers to attract more prospective buyers.
  • We set pricing at the right level for sale.
  • We market your property to get the most people looking—from photos and videos to listings where they matter most.
  • Follow up with all parties to keep the transaction moving forward – inspectors, lender, attorneys, etc.
  • Coordinate the closing down and migration of utilities

When you work with CENTURY 21 Cedarcrest, you work with real estate agents who make sure every aspect of the process is set up, timed right, and followed through. As REALTORs we are also bound by a strict code of ethic and abide by the stated rules and regulations that protect buyers and sellers from illegal or unethical practices. If you’re on the market for a home or are preparing to sell yours, we’re here to help—every step of the way.

How to Handle a Real Estate Bidding War

In northern New Jersey, the inventory of homes for sale has been relatively tight for several years, with more prospective buyers vying for homes on the market. That often means a bidding war, as home buyers attempt to be the one who gets the house they want.

Also driving this demand right now is the trend forecasted a couple of months ago (in the early weeks of the pandemic) and is now a reality—people are leaving the cities for more space in the suburbs. We’re seeing not only an increased number of people in our sales lead pipeline, but also where they are from—the majority being from congested urban areas outside of the suburban Essex County and Passaic County towns. These are well-qualified buyers, usually in their mid-30s and starting families. They are looking for homes across price ranges and they’re bringing large down payments to secure the home of their dreams.

That said, we’re seeing every property—whether single family or two-family (another popular property type right now) being bid upon by multiple buyers. Some properties are selling for $50,000 over asking price and, with tight inventory, many go to contract within a week, especially those that are priced right at market level and are professionally staged.

Here are some recommendations for buyers in a tight housing market, to engage smartly in a bidding war:

1 – Before you even go out to look at houses, get pre-approved for a mortgage. We cannot stress this enough. This is more rigorous than pre-qualification because the mortgage lender will run your credit, check your job information, and verify income. Based on that, the lender will tell you how much money the bank is prepared to lend you with a commitment to an actual amount (subject to appraisal).

2 – Make a larger-than-normal down payment. This shows you have serious intention of buying.

3 – Accelerate the time frame for making the second deposit after signing the contract (within 5 to 7 days instead of 10). As soon as the contract is signed, make that next payment!

4 – Accelerate the home inspection as well; get it done within one business week instead of two.

Advice to sellers
Before you put your house on the market, invest in cosmetic upgrades and basic repairs, like painting, refinishing floors or replacing old carpet, or replacing a tired-looking bathroom vanity. Fix what’s broken, clean out the attic, and organize the garage and the basement. Consider getting a pre-inspection so you’ll have a home inspector’s report on the major issues to take care of in advance.

Also invest in real estate staging to visually merchandise your home. A professionally staged home sells more quickly, and that more inviting interior may invite higher bids.

With a house that shows well and hungry buyers at your door, it’s tempting to accept the highest price; but at CENTURY 21 Cedarcrest Realty, we feel it’s more important to accept the strongest buyers (see list above). Terms are so important now, especially as people are dealing with the effects of the pandemic, with layoffs, furloughs, or reduced hours. You want to make sure the buyer can complete the contract process without issue. Your Cedarcrest Realty real estate agent, as your partner, can help you assess your buyer pool.

Contact us if you’re thinking of listing your home for sale in northern New Jersey, or if you’re looking for a great house that checks off all the boxes for you. We have two offices to serve you, in Caldwell (973) 228-1050 and Little Falls (973) 364-1111.

Buying and Selling Real Estate During the Pandemic

John Sass, broker owner of CENTURY 21 Cedarcrest Realty

While we all work through the COVID-19 pandemic, the business of real estate continues in different ways. For homeowners wishing to sell and prospective buyers looking for their new home, conducting real estate transactions continues, with modifications.

CENTURY 21® Real Estate LLC has been a national leader in real estate technology, with strong marketing and listing tools. Technology now plays a central and highly visible role in how real estate is done now—from the virtual sales meetings that brokerages hold for their agents to virtual tours posted online for buyers.

Technology brings efficiency and safety
At CENTURY 21 Cedarcrest Realty, we had already been doing extensive virtual tours, created by our system automatically with images shot by professional photographers. These provide buyers with a full view of a home’s interior and exterior; they’re a great way for buyers to save time as they get a feel for home styles, narrow down their search to which properties to see in person, and make informed decisions about what they can afford. These video tours are augmented by floor plans of each home on the MLS listing, which further help buyers in their decision-making process.

Buyers appreciate the ability to view homes online at their convenience and from any distance; and in today’s environment, sellers appreciate that this limits the number of people coming into their home.

We also stay in touch with our customers via video chat and Facebook Live (as well as phone and email, of course) and are using various online meeting platforms to connect with our sales associates and strategic partners as more people work remotely.

Coronavirus safety protocols
Early in the pandemic, CENTURY 21 Cedarcrest Realty implemented our nationwide system’s buyer and seller showing protocols, which are designed to protect all parties involved and ensure that everyone who works with our team is comfortable. In fact, we will only work with other professionals and customers who follow our prescribed safety measures.

  • Anyone entering a home must wear gloves, a mask, and shoe booties: real estate agents, buyers, photographers, appraisers, and home inspectors.
  • The homeowners are asked to turn on all the lights in the house and leave while the photographer is there to take pictures. This avoids unnecessary contact with light switches and people.
  • We conduct in-person, one-on-one showings only (no open houses). Again, all the lights are on in advance and buyers and agents (and sellers) adhere to the six-foot distancing rule.
  • Our agents must state in writing that they have not had the virus, as do all buyers and sellers with whom we do business. If any party to the transaction did have the virus, this must be disclosed, and all parties must acknowledge this and consent to moving forward.
  • Buyers must get preapprovals from their mortgage company before seeing a property. This limits the number of people viewing a home in a certain price range; and in today’s market, with historically low interest rates, this prequalification also benefits the buyer to lock into a low rate now.
  • Attorneys and title companies are working virtually, with electronic documents and e-signature capabilities for contactless paperwork and closings with limited contact.
  • Our two office locations are disinfected regularly, conference room use is limited, and measures are in place to reduce the potential for infection from secondary contact from surfaces.


At CENTURY 21 Cedarcrest, we have the experience, market knowledge, and real estate technology to adapt to the rapidly changing world we are now in. We have a range of listings—single-family homes, condos, and townhouses—in great suburban locations. After you’ve taken a few virtual video tours, contact us to arrange a showing.

CENTURY 21 Cedarcrest Realty Announces 2019 Award Winners for Service and Sales from CENTURY 21® System and NJ REALTORS®

Cedarcrest Realty’s John Sass and Lynn DeLuccia with (l. to r.): Michael Miedler, president & CEO of CENTURY 21 Real Estate Corporation, and Fernando and Antonia Semiao of CENTURY 21 Semiao & Associates at the annual awards ceremony.

It’s awards season again at CENTURY 21 Cedarcrest Realty!

Broker owner John Sass and members of the Cedarcrest Realty team recently attended the CENTURY 21® annual awards gala at the Venetian in Garfield. We celebrated and honored the winners from our office of several CENTURY 21® awards, which are presented to agents and offices that consistently provide high levels of customer service and sales production.

Here is our lineup of the 2019 CENTURY 21 Cedarcrest all-stars, based on customer service and gross closed commissions.:

  • Quality Service Pinnacle Award – Paula Cano, Yaw “Tracy” Chan, Bruno Marino, Joseph Scotto
  • Masters Ruby Award – Joseph Scotto
  • CENTURION® Award and Presidents Producer Award – Yaw “Tracy” Chan
  • Gold Medallion Award – CENTURY 21 Cedarcrest Realty, for sales production
  • Quality Service Pinnacle Office Award – For the ninth year in a row, CENTURY 21 Cedarcrest Realty won this prestigious award for delivering superior customer service, which is CENTURY 21’s top honor for service

In addition, our office has some winners of the NJ Realtors® Circle of Excellence® Sales Award®. The Circle of Excellence® recognizes real estate professionals who have demonstrated excellence in the field of salesmanship.

  • Bronze Award – Patrick Smith, Paula Cano
  • Silver Award – Joseph Scotto
  • Gold Award – Yaw “Tracy” Chan

Congratulations to our hard-working real estate associates!

Winter Home Improvement Projects for North Jersey Homeowners

In northeast New Jersey where our offices are located, snow, ice and cold temperatures make outdoor renovation and home improvement projects unlikely in the winter. However, there are some projects you can do now to get your home ready for an early spring showing, or to beautify and update your home for your pleasure.

If your project requires a contractor or home improvement specialist, you may be able to take advantage of these professionals’ off season in terms of scheduling and rates., before they get into the spring hustle.

TIP: Remember to check your municipality regarding which kinds of projects require permits from the building department and build that into your timeline.

Paint and accessories

Painting your home’s interior is a great indoor project and instantly refreshes rooms (we recommend you choose light neutral tones if your home is going on the market). After you’re done painting, you might be inspired to change out carpeting or area rugs, add toss pillows in new colors, or hang new drapes in coordinating colors.

Bathroom or kitchen remodel

Whether you’re considering cosmetic changes such as new kitchen counters and cabinets, or a new bathroom vanity, or a more large-scale renovation, remodeling will bring new life to your home. A full kitchen renovation may not pay off in terms of sale price, since tastes and lifestyles differ, but appliance upgrades, freshening up cabinetry, and new lighting are great ways to update a kitchen.

A popular bathroom upgrade is to replace the traditional showerhead with a spa-style showerhead that offer a more luxurious shower experience. Handheld shower heads are also a great (and less expensive) shower upgrade. If you’re going for a full bathroom remodel, heated floors, overhead heat lamp, and heated towel bars are other luxuries to consider including.

Even low-cost updates, such as painting walls a new color or adding a colorful backsplash can perk up these spaces and add value to your home. If you’re prepping your home for sale, these changes will also give you new ideas for real estate staging.

Weatherproofing

There are many ways to make your home more energy efficient and comfortable, from adding insulation to walls or the attic to sealing up cracks and caulking around windows. Even your high-hat lighting cans can be an entry point for cold or hot air. Replacing old exterior doors with insulated models will also “tighten the envelope.” Installing smart thermostats also help control energy costs. A more expensive project with long-term benefits is to replace old windows with top-quality energy-efficient windows.

Organize the garage

Grab a jacket and get out there to organize your gardening, snow and hand tools. Hang wall units made specially for holding and hanging these items, and shelves above or in front of vehicles to stack boxes, cans and large objects. If you have a workbench, hang a peg board for hand tools and store large items underneath the table. Clean out what you no longer need (including old boxes of stuff that came with you from the last move).

Prune and nourish your trees

OK, this one’s outdoors . . . but late winter is a great time to trim trees and shrubs before the spring bloom starts. The bare limbs give you clear visibility and because the trees and shrubs are dormant, they are less likely to attract insects or disease. This is also a time to add fertilizer in preparation for spring. Take time now to plan out any landscaping updates as well.

Install a security system

From smart doorbells to connected alarms, these products will keep your family and belongings safer and are a great selling point to prospective buyers.

Finish the basement

This is a highly worthwhile project, providing extra (and insulated) workspace, storage, a playroom or entertainment area for your family-even a guest bedroom depending on the home’s structure. A finished basement also increases your home’s value. It’s like adding on a room without breaking ground.

At CENTURY 21 Cedarcrest Realty, our sales associates will review your home improvement plans or discuss timely projects that make good sense to handle right now. Contact us for questions about listing your North Jersey real estate.

Spotlight on . . . Eugenia France

Veteran real estate professional Eugenia France joined Cedarcrest Realty in November 2019 and is already making her mark in terms of transactions at our agency. Eugenia, who came to the U.S. in 1987, has been working in real estate since 1992 and according to broker owner John Sass, “Eugenia’s experience really shows. She has already done half a dozen transactions to date, with two currently under contract. She knows the system and comes to work every day ready to get things done. We’re delighted to have her on the Cedarcrest team.”

And this is with Eugenia, a native of Brazil, spending several weeks visiting family in her home country!

Early in her career, she was at another CENTURY 21 office, working with home buyers and sellers primarily in Belleville, Bloomfield, Glen Ridge, Newark, and Nutley. It was there that she first met John, who at the time was doing training and recruiting for the system. She was most recently with a brokerage in Newark and although she was the top producer there, she was not happy with the work environment and decided to make a move last fall. She came across John’s name and contacted him to find out if there were any opportunities at CENTURY 21 Cedarcrest.

As someone who has been self-employed since coming to the States, Eugenia said real estate appealed to her because, “You can make your own schedule and develop a business. I enjoy dealing with people and making them happy when they find the right house—and it feels great when that happens. But it’s also a great feeling when those customers refer me to someone else; it means I’ve done a good job.”

Although she’s done some commercial real estate work before, Eugenia prefers residential real estate. “You participate more in the residential transaction and I like guiding the contract process, which I didn’t get to do as much in commercial deals.”

Of her decision to join the Cedarcrest team, she said, “It’s a much nicer workplace; people treat each other well, John respects his team, and there are opportunities to grow here.” She works in our Caldwell office-and we’re glad she’s there!

Spotlight on . . . Armand Michael DiVirgilio

After 30 years in the field of facilities engineering and asset protection, Michael DiVirgilio felt it was time to start a new career. Taking his in-depth experience in commercial and industrial properties, he brings fresh insights into his work today, working with residential and commercial real estate buyers and sellers.

“There are a lot of things I see right away when I walk into a home or a commercial establishment,” said Michael. “I’ve covered many aspects of facilities and property management, so my prior career brings additional skills and knowledge to my real estate clients and the Cedarcrest team.” He also has firsthand experience remodeling several homes, so he’s always looking for the positives and the potential negatives in a property he’s showing.

Michael moved to New Jersey from Florida with his wife back in March and obtained his real estate license in New Jersey and New York in April. (He is also a Florida State licensed community association manager and a New Jersey notary public.) He began his real estate career at a small office in Tenafly but after he and his wife bought a condo in Bloomfield, he looked for an agency closer to home. He’d met Tom Siso, a CENTURY 21 Cedarcrest Realty agent, during the condo-hunting process and Tom introduced him to broker owner, John Sass.

“I really feel like a part of a great family here; the people are fantastic,” said Michael, who works out of our Caldwell office. “Cedarcrest Realty is well structured and organized and John and his team care deeply about the clients they serve.” Having served in the U.S. Air Force after high school, Michael appreciates the structure at the brokerage. “I’m glad to be in this tight-knit, family-feeling organization.” From a large family himself, and with seven kids, it’s no wonder that the family feeling at CENTURY 21 Cedarcrest was a pull for him.

Michael said he was drawn to real estate sales because, “It allows me to help people find that perfect home. I love working with people and seeing that expression on their faces when you show them a place that’s the right fit. Seeing them light up like that brings me tremendous satisfaction. I’ve always been about helping people.” That helping spirit is reflected in the community service work he and his wife do in soup kitchens and through other charitable endeavors.

He’s enjoying learning from the Cedarcrest Realty team and appreciates the ongoing training available in the office. “I have more to learn and there are great people with a plethora of knowledge that they’re sharing,” he said.

CENTURY 21 Cedarcrest Realty Is Collection Site for Marines Toys for Tots Foundation

North Jersey Real Estate Agency is Helping to Brighten Holidays for Underprivileged Children with Annual Toy Drive; Encourages Area Residents to Help Support Needy Families


CALDWELL, N.J., November 25, 2019 – CENTURY 21 Cedarcrest Realty, Inc., a real estate agency with offices in Caldwell and Little Falls, N.J., is a host site for the U.S. Marines’ annual Toys for Tots toy and fund drive. This is the 12th year in a row that Century 21 Cedarcrest is supporting the charitable effort.

Area residents are encouraged to drop off new, boxed and unwrapped toys and games at either of the Cedarcrest Realty offices, at 460 Bloomfield Avenue in Caldwell or 44 Main Street in Little Falls, until December 15, 2019. Hours are 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Monday through Friday and on weekends from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. The donated toys and games will be delivered by the Cedarcrest Realty team to the Marines at the official drop-off site in Dover; the items will be distributed to less fortunate families and children from babies to teens, through various non-profit organizations.

The objectives of Toys for Tots are to help less fortunate children throughout the United States experience the joy of Christmas; to play an active role in the development of one of our nation’s most valuable resources—our children; to unite all members of local communities in a common cause for three months each year during the annual toy collection and distribution campaign; and to contribute to better communities in the future.

“My associates and I feel strongly about giving back to others in the communities we serve and are honored to support the Toys for Tots initiative every year,” said John Sass, broker owner of CENTURY 21 Cedarcrest Realty. “In addition to toys and games, we also encourage our neighbors to consider giving a monetary donation on the Toys for Tots website, www.toysfortots.org, to brighten the holidays for families in need.”

For more information about what to donate, contact CENTURY 21 Cedarcrest Realty at (973) 228-1050. For more information about the award-winning real estate brokerage, visit http://century21cedarcrest.com/.

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About Century 21 Cedarcrest Realty, Inc.
Located in Caldwell, N.J., CENTURY 21 Cedarcrest Realty, Inc. (Cedarcrest Realty) works with property buyers and sellers throughout northern New Jersey, including Morris, Essex, Passaic, and Bergen counties. Under the guidance of broker/owner John Sass, nearly 70 real estate agents and REALTORs® work in both residential and commercial real estate. Sass joined the CENTURY 21® Real Estate System as a real estate associate in 1983, and advanced to Management in 1987. He is a licensed broker in the State of New Jersey, as well as a graduate of the REALTOR® Institute (GRI). In 2018, CENTURY 21 Cedarcrest Realty was designated a Certified Commercial Specialist by CENTURY 21 Real Estate LLC.

About John Sass