Agent spotlight on . . . Michelle Christenson

Michelle Christenson loves CENTURY 21® and Little Falls so much, she couldn’t stay away! Having worked at another CENTURY 21 office for about 14 years earlier in her career—which had been located in Little Falls—Michelle reached out to John Sass to discuss joining Cedarcrest Realty when she heard about our new Little Falls office. She was more recently with another group, and was eager to rejoin CENTURY 21 and work in Little Falls.

“It’s so nice to be back at CENTURY 21,” said Michelle, a licensed REALTOR® in New Jersey for 19 years. “The system and support is superior to what is available at competitors, no question. And I’m delighted to be working at Cedarcrest Realty with a great team of real estate agents. Once I talked to John, I knew it was a good fit for me.”

Although she and John have not worked together before, their paths have crossed many times in the North Jersey real estate world, and she contacted him when she knew she was ready to make a change. Michelle said she is excited about the opportunities in Passaic County.

“There is a lot of new development in Little Falls, townhouses are going up in the area, and it’s an expanding market. Plus, downtown Little Falls is experiencing a resurgence that’s been great to see. I really like the area.”

Michelle, who lives in Cedar Grove, got into real estate when she was raising her children (who are now grown). As a career, it offered her the opportunity to arrange her schedule to meet family commitments while also meeting her customers’ needs. The flexibility has also enabled the lifelong animal lover to volunteer throughout the years with various animal rescue and foster organizations. But in real estate, for Michelle it’s all about the people.

“I love working with and helping all the different people I meet, from first-time home buyers to sellers. It’s the people aspect that keeps me in this business. Here I am, 19 years later and still loving it. And now that I’m back in Little Falls, I told John that’s it, I’m never leaving.”

Spotlight on . . . Nancy Scancarella

Nancy Scancarella waited until her children were a little older before going to work as a real estate agent . . . and wasted no time making her mark in the field.

That was 27 years ago and since then, the Woodland Park resident—who started her career in another CENTURY 21® office—became a licensed real estate broker and later ran a boutique real estate agency for another company. She joined the CENTURY 21 Cedarcrest Realty team in November 2018.

“I’d had a good experience the first time around with CENTURY 21®, so I was delighted when the opportunity came along to work with John Sass at Cedarcrest Realty. I’m looking forward to building up the new Little Falls office,” said Nancy. (At the time of this writing, we are nearly done with the extensive renovations to our new space at 44 Main Street in the heart of Little Falls.)

Nancy loves the energy that many of the younger agents bring to CENTURY 21 Cedarcrest, as well as the training programs and technology that help her to better serve her customers.

“All the new programs are great and the training at Cedarcrest is phenomenal,” said Nancy, “especially for seasoned agents who may not adopt new technology as readily. John and Susan Mazzetta (director of training & development) made it so easy to understand, learn, and use.”

While she acknowledges that many of today’s buyers are doing a lot of research online, Nancy feels that the experience and insights of a real estate agent remain a valuable part of the transaction. For instance, she noted that the information posted on various sites is sometimes inaccurate or out of date, or not pertinent to the area, which can misguide home buyers and sellers.

“Although today’s customers are very savvy, it is so important to gain their trust at the outset, and show them what your real estate expertise brings to their home buying or selling experience,” said Nancy. “We know the towns—the neighborhoods, schools and taxes—from our own firsthand knowledge as well as from industry resources and tools that are not available to consumers.”

Nancy especially loves working with first-time home buyers, whose needs are generally different from others’. “You have to have the patience and willingness to show first-time buyers dozens of houses in many different areas, as they hone in on the type of house they want, the towns they like, and what they can afford,” she explained. ‘I enjoy nurturing them along the path to home ownership and it’s so rewarding when we get to that closing.”

Having raised her family in Totowa and having worked before in Little Falls, Nancy really knows Passaic County well. However, she’s also worked with home buyers and sellers up through northern Bergen County and throughout Essex County.

As for CENTURY 21 Cedarcrest, Little Falls, Nancy is eager to get into the office and has brought five real estate sales associates with her. “It’s a new, modern office in the heart of Little Falls, which is developing into a great little walking downtown,” said Nancy. “I’m really excited about our potential here.”

Announcing our CENTURY 21 Cedarcrest Realty 2018 Award Winners for Service and Sales

Award Winning CENTURY 21 Cedarcrest RealtyAs always, our annual awards breakfast was filled with applause as John Sass announced the winners of CENTURY 21® and NJ REALTORS® awards for 2018, based on customer service and gross closed commissions.

John shared the good news that for the ninth year in a row, CENTURY 21 Cedarcrest grew in terms of gross closed commissions (23 percent higher than 2017!). Our team closed transactions in 57 towns throughout New Jersey, and our office is in the top ten in our entire region, which comprises New Jersey and Delaware. But the best news of all: For the first time ever, we are thrilled to share that CENTURY 21 Cedarcrest Realty has won the CENTURY 21 President’s Award. It is given to producers, teams and offices that achieve both CENTURION® level production and the Quality Service Pinnacle Award in the same year. We can’t wait to add this prestigious trophy to our awards shelf!

2018 service award winners
The CENTURY 21 Quality Service awards are presented to agents and offices that consistently provide high levels of customer service. The winners will be recognized at the New Jersey Brokers Council gala in March. Drum roll, please, for our Cedarcrest Realty winners:

  • Quality Service Award – Paula Cano and Susan McGarrity (minimum 90 percent overall approval rating and 8 returned surveys in a calendar year)
  • Quality Service Pinnacle Producer Award – Tracy Chan, Bruno Marino and Joey Scotto (minimum 95 percent overall approval rating and 8 returned surveys for two or more consecutive years)

In addition, CENTURY 21 Cedarcrest Realty won the Quality Service Pinnacle Office Award, CENTURY 21’s top award for quality service.

2018 production award winners
These are awarded based on real estate agents’ gross closed commissions for the year.

  • New Jersey REALTORS® (NJR) Circle of Excellence® Bronze Award – Nancy Scancarella and Paula Cano
  • CENTURY 21 CENTURION Individual Producer Level Award
    • Yaw “Tracy” Chan was our #2 producer last year. Tracy has consistently earned top honors for sales and service at CENTURY 21 Cedarcrest and was recently inducted into the CENTURY 21 CENTURION Honor Society.
    • Joey Scotto earned the top spot as #1 producer, adding this honor to the others he’s won since starting his real estate career with us less than three years ago.
  • NJR Circle of Excellence® Gold Award – Tracy Chan and Joey Scotto; double congratulations to them this year!
  • CENTURY 21 Masters Team Level Award – The Rick Lodato Team (Rick Lodato, Lizette Brown and Peter Locurto), who joined Cedarcrest Realty last year.

What’s our winning formula at CENTURY 21 Cedarcrest?
The positive, long-term relationships our agents build with home buyers and sellers.

Using all the available real estate technology available to us to source and nurture leads more effectively and to better serve their customers.

Our ongoing in-house training and development, with courses offered to agents at all levels of experience, so newer agents can build their skills and knowledge while our more experienced agents are refreshing theirs.

Now, on to a successful 2019 with the CENTURY 21 Cedarcrest team!

Going into a Commercial Space? Follow These Five Steps.

CENTURY 21 Cedarcrest - Commercial Space TipsCENTURY 21 Cedarcrest is expanding and—if all goes well—we hope to move into a second office in the Township of Little Falls, in Passaic County. The last couple of months have been hectic, to say the least, with choosing a location and then dealing with all the aspects of the build out in our new space.

John Sass, broker owner of Cedarcrest Realty, shares these tips for companies that are moving into a new commercial space, and are undergoing renovation.

  1. Have a plan. Know in advance exactly how you envision the space, from its design to how it will be used and by whom. Plan down to the smallest details, with the help of your design and construction team. It might sound crazy but even the number and placement of electrical outlets and Wi-Fi connections will make a difference for your staff—so think about your number of employees, their jobs, where customers will be greeted or wait for service.
    1. For example, if it’s a retail location, your selling space is key; your back office, less so. Are you opening a restaurant? There is so much that goes into planning your back of the house as well as front of the house.
    2. Make sure, as part of your plan, that you hire professionals with experience in your type of commercial space or who have worked with the municipality before (always a good idea when dealing with a building department) or with your landlord.
    3. Also plan for delays that you cannot control (whether it’s a scheduling issue, equipment that has not arrived when expected, weather-related delays, etc.). No matter how well prepared you are, your project will take three times longer than anticipated (and probably cost twice as much!).
  2. Check with the town for all requirement and permitted uses for the property. Find out exactly which permits you’ll be required to take out, how you may use the property (is it retail only or can you put an office in that storefront?), and what will trigger a variance hearing with the zoning board. Ask the building department what it requires in terms of drawings or anything else that could catch you off guard during construction (and hold up the project).
  3. Get contractor estimates in writing. Make sure your general contractor (or any trades you hire) put their estimates in writing and commit to them. Get their timelines for getting your work down as well (do they have other jobs that will make it difficult for them to get to your project?)
    1. Be sure they are all licensed and insured and that those numbers are readily available to you.
    2. Before you sign, check references, their ratings, and see if there are any complaints against them at the NJ Division of Consumer Affairs.
  4. Maintain good communication with all parties. Keep an open line of communication with your architect, interior designer or space planner, the contractor, and the landlord. When everyone knows what’s going on, things will progress more smoothly, problems will be solved more efficiently, and you’ll avoid nasty surprises.
  5. Understand your landlord’s expectations. Bottom line—it’s the landlord’s building, not yours. The landlord expects the renovation work or installations to be completed in a timely fashion, and performed in accordance with the property. You cannot alter something that does not belong to you without the landlord signing off on the plan. Check your lease for any build out requirements or restrictions for both interior and, if applicable, exterior work. This includes awnings and signage.

Above all else, stay calm and remain flexible. Moving into a new commercial space is exciting but a lot will happen between finding the right location, signing the lease, and move-in day—even when there is little work to be done (perhaps just a coat of fresh paint or new flooring in an office). Even as a certified commercial specialist, we are tackling the challenges of building out a new office every day!

Is a Winter Season Home Sale the Right Time for You?

Photo by Emil Vilsek on Unsplash

Even in northern New Jersey, which has a healthy real estate market, it’s hard to know whether or not seasons play in the home sale cycle. With the cold temperatures and inevitable snow and ice, many homeowners—and home buyers—may feel it’s better to wait until spring.

Not so fast!

There are actually strong reasons to put your home on the market now. The common belief is that the spring market—when birds are chirping and gardens are blooming—is the best time to buy and sell real estate but here are some good reasons to put your house on the market in the late fall or winter.

  1. You attract more serious buyers. Really—these people are on the hunt and want a house now. Motivated buyers, for whatever their reason, are always searching for the right home in the right town for them. The winter months also gives these buyers a chance to scope out potential neighborhoods when other things are going on besides landscaping and swimming pools. They may love or abhor lots of holiday lights, for example, and want to see what goes on around the block during December and January (or even February for Valentine’s Day and March for St. Patrick’s Day). Or they may have concerns about whether the neighbors are keeping sidewalks clear of snow and ice (and whether the town snowplows are doing a good job).
  2. Wintertime staging possibilities. A well-staged home attracts buyers and offers, and winter greenery, cozy throws and blankets, and the aroma of pumpkin spice can be very alluring.
  3. Competition is lighter. It’s all about supply and demand. With less “for sale” signs around town, yours will catch attention and yield calls to the real estate agency to see the house. Fewer homes on the market drives up buyer demand, increases the probability of showings and with those, strong offers.
  4. Speedier transactions (and less stress). Think of the real estate market as a highway; with fewer “cars” in the buying lane, there are no processing traffic jams for all parties involved and transactions can move along more quickly. Mortgage lenders have fewer loans to process, real estate attorneys are dealing with a lighter closing load, and home inspectors are more available.
  5. Your real estate agent is always ready! Good real estate agents know that any time of year is a good time to list a home and bring buyers around. Marketing tactics may shift with the seasons and these professionals are ready with tips to help sell your home at any time of year.

If you’re thinking of putting your home up for sale now, or are looking for a home in Essex County or throughout northern New Jersey, the real estate agents at CENTURY 21 Cedarcrest Realty are ready to help. Contact us at (973) 228-1050 to get started.

Agent Spotlight on … our Newest Real Estate Team Members

CENTURY 21 Cedarcrest Realty has been growing significantly this year, with three new agents joining our team in the last two months.

Krystle Delgado - Century 21 CedarcrestKRYSTLE DELGADO is new to real estate but her dream of working in real estate dates back to her high school graduation! After some other endeavors and dealing with a serious health issue, Krystle examined her life and made her career goal a priority. During her recovery, she took the real estate course and passed the exam.

She was looking for schedule flexibility and was talking to several agencies but none felt right. A conversation with a family friend led to her contacting Susan Mazzetta, CENTURY 21 Cedarcrest’s director of training and development.

“Susan made me feel very comfortable and at ease, and right away, I knew that Cedarcrest Realty was a good fit for me.” Krystle, who lives in Bloomfield, joined our agency in early October.

As to “why real estate,” she has a strong sales background and values independence and self-sufficiency. “I like the idea of being in charge of my own business; if I’m not successful, there’s no one to blame but myself.”

Regarding CENTURY 21 Cedarcrest, Krystle says, “Everyone is very willing to help and answer questions; I never feel intimidated. Everyone walks you through the processes and offers assistance. I also like to learn new things and there’s a lot of training here, which is great.”

Natasha Barinas - Century 21 CedarcrestNATASHA BARINAS also joined CENTURY 21 Cedarcrest in October after several years selling real estate in Los Angeles. Prior to that, she worked in fashion design and production, in retail, and owned her own swimwear line.

“I like real estate because you’re independent, taking responsibility for your business,” she says. “I also like the dynamic of working with so many different people; every day is different.”

She finds similarities between real estate and her work in fashion, where she did a lot of negotiating and interpreting ideas into reality. “With real estate you help buyers determine where they really belong. I love helping them discover the dream home they truly feel is right for them.”

After moving to Verona this past summer, Natasha enrolled in the NJ state licensing classes; she told her instructor she wanted to connect to a more intimate, boutique-style brokerage, like the one in California. “CENTURY 21 is exactly what you’re describing” was the advice she received. She says that she felt that immediately when she interviewed with Susan at Cedarcrest Realty.

“In Los Angeles I interviewed at around 30 agencies before finding the right one but here, I found exactly where I want to be right away. The way the agents joke around and really know each other—it felt like family.”

Carolina Marin - Century 21 CedarcrestCAROLINA MARIN of Clifton, who’d worked a few years ago at a Coldwell Banker office, has returned to real estate after a brief hiatus into other fields. She joined CENTURY 21 Cedarcrest in early November after a chance meeting with a friend, Paula Cano, one of our real estate agents.

“I mentioned that I wanted to get back into real estate and was looking for an agency that offered training and development. Paula recommended CENTURY 21 Cedarcrest because of the training and professional development here,” says Carolina. “I really appreciate that Cedarcrest Realty gives us the tools to develop our real estate practice.”

She says she likes helping clients find the home they’ll love, and that being at the closing and seeing them so happy makes her day. She also likes that “Everyone is very helpful and so nice about answering questions. In some offices, they leave you on your own with no support. But at CENTURY 21 Cedarcrest, everyone is willing to assist you.”

If you’re looking for a real estate office that supports its people—from new agents to seasoned pros—contact Susan Mazzetta for a confidential interview at (973) 228-1050.

CENTURY 21® Cedarcrest Realty is now a Designated Certified Commercial Specialist

We have expanded our expertise at CENTURY 21® Cedarcrest Realty, Inc., having achieved the designation of Certified Commercial Specialist by CENTURY 21 Real Estate LLC. In addition to the office, Broker Owner John J. Sass, Sales Manager Dennis DiSabato, and sales associates Adrienne Wheeler and Joseph Scotto have also been certified as commercial specialists. They all completed an intensive three-day training through CENTURY 21’s Commercial Management Academy, which covered a broad range of topics related to marketing commercial real estate; among them were:

  • Market opportunities, trends
  • Investment analysis, CAP rates
  • Identifying quality leads and prospects
  • Talent recruitment
  • Lease analysis, negotiations, best practices
  • Developing and managing a commercial real estate division

CENTURY 21 Commercial®
The CENTURY 21 Commercial® program helps real estate offices and agents leverage the core strengths of the CENTURY 21 System in the small-to-mid-tier commercial real estate and investment property markets. As a designated member of CENTURY 21 Commercial, CENTURY 21 Cedarcrest joins a network of 375 commercial designated offices throughout the United States.

Commercial real estate at CENTURY 21 Cedarcrest
Our office will market retail centers, office and industrial buildings, multi-family properties and hospitality properties for sale or lease, working with commercial real estate investors, owners and lessees in Essex County and surrounding areas. We look forward to growing our portfolio with quality commercial properties to list, lease or sell.

Join our team in commercial or residential real estate
We’re also looking forward to adding experienced real estate agents to our team, in both residential and commercial real estate. For a confidential conversation about joining our award-winning office, contact John Sass at (973) 228-1050.

Looking for a Job as a Real Estate Agent?

Here’s What We Look for in a Candidate at Century 21 Cedarcrest Realty


ID 122235067 © Pattanaphong Khuankaew | Dreamstime.com

All employers want to hire people with a passion for their work . . . and so many job candidates say they went into their field because of that passion. But what does that really mean? At Century 21 Cedarcrest Realty, we dig deeper to find out what makes candidates tick when we are interviewing real estate agents for our Caldwell, NJ office.

  1. What drives the person?

    How is that true passion for real estate sales expressed? What is that person’s “why?” Are they motivated by the need to support a family or to create a better life for themselves? Are they driven to help others get a piece of the American dream? Can they actually tell us?

  2. Does the candidate truly understand what the job entails?

    Although real estate is a “people person” occupation, it is foremost about sales. Therefore, the agents who come through our doors must demonstrate that they truly understand what the job entails—and be excited about it. Getting your real estate license is a first step but far from the last one any successful agent will take. We look for people who take the job seriously, who are open-minded about getting sales and marketing direction, and who want to continue their real estate education beyond the licensing course and exam. Continuing education—whether about sales techniques, real estate trends, or the latest technology tools—is a given at Century 21 Cedarcrest Realty.

  3. Is the candidate a business person?

    Real estate is a business. Each agent is responsible for building his or her book of business, cultivating leads, nurturing clients along the transaction process; the brokerage is responsible for providing the tools and support.

    Prospective agents must understand that, as with any other business, there is an investment involved in maintaining and growing it. Licensing fees, dues to the New Jersey Board of Realtors (or local boards), insurance coverage (errors & omissions) are part of the investment agents make as they develop their sales pipeline. They invest in the time it takes to bring a transaction to a closing. And they must invest in training and education, vital to growing their business.

  4. Does the agent have integrity?

    Real estate is a field with intense interpersonal activity and a lot of paperwork; there are listings and showings, contracts to draw up and sign, and people’s futures are on the line. Transparency about each transaction is a must; there’s never a reason to lie about an offer, a buyer, or a seller. Never.

Some other “can-do” elements we look for when hiring real estate agents are:

  • Past success in door-to-door/outside sales (such as pharmaceutical or medical sales) or multi-level marketing are strong indicators that the person is a good fit for real estate sales.
  • Prior sales positions that required strong follow-through, attention to detail, and customer service, such as insurance or retail.
  • Those who understand real estate’s longer sales cycle and the pace of closings and commission payments (and therefore, understand the need to always feed the sales pipeline).
  • Individuals who are highly disciplined and organized, but like the flexibility a real estate career offers, especially as a second career; younger retirees, military veterans, and first responders are among those we’re interested in talking to at Century 21 Cedarcrest Realty.
  • People who are involved in their community and have a wide network to tap—and know how to network effectively.
  • Team-oriented individuals who are willing to give help and accept it, try new techniques or technologies, and support others in the office as needed. Our office is a family atmosphere that values collaboration and cooperative efforts.

Are you nearing retirement but would like to pursue a new career that fits with your lifestyle? Have you completed your military service and want to continue helping others through your work? Have you had your fill of a large sales territory, and prefer to focus your sales efforts on Essex County or surrounding areas? Contact Susan Mazzetta, Century 21 Cedarcrest Realty’s director of career development, at 973-228-1050 to arrange an interview.