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.

Five Reasons to Forego a FSBO (For Sale By Owner)

For Sale By Owner - Century 21 CedarcrestYou’ve probably passed For Sale by Owner signs and wondered whether you could sell your house by yourself–and if it makes sense financially. The quick answer for most people: it’s a lot of work, for no guaranteed payoff. And the risks really aren’t worth it.

With FSBO (pronounced fizz-bow) transactions, sellers think they’ll save on commissions. But they’ll be missing out on what seasoned real estate agents do best–negotiating a great deal that could net you much more money than you’re likely to get on your own.

Factor in the hidden or unexpected expenses, say from potential legal or other problems, and it’s no wonder only 8% of homeowners in New Jersey decide to sell solo, according to the latest data from New Jersey Realtors®.

Here are some key reasons to work with a good real estate agent, backed by a solid brokerage, instead of FSBO:

  1. Pricing strategy

    Sure, you can look up comps and use online assessment tools, but there’s no substitute for local market knowledge. Experienced agents have a deep understanding of neighborhood and industry trends to help you determine the actual value of your home based on a detailed market analysis and any improvements you’ve made.

    The goal is to pinpoint the optimal price; too high, and your home sits on the market, a red flag for buyers. Too low, and you’ll get a bad return on perhaps your biggest investment.

  2. Prepping your property

    So what are buyers looking for these days? A good agent will know the answer, and how to position the look and feel of your property. Does a room need painting or minor repairs? How about swapping out some things, like furniture or a faucet? If you’re tackling a sale on your own, you might be tempted to do a major, unnecessary overhaul–or do nothing, which could turn off potential buyers immediately.

    Real estate agents also have relationships with professional stagers and photographers who can present your home in the best light for onsite showings and online photos.

  3. Marketing your home

    The more buyers who know about your home sale, the more likely you’ll get the price you’re looking for, in the shortest amount of time. Brokers and real estate agents have access to extensive resources and technology that will quickly broaden your field of serious prospects.

    Nearly all buyers start online, and that’s where FSBOs can have limited exposure. Agents get the word out through online portal listings, most notably the Multiple Listing Service (MLS), which updates constantly. And, they reach a wider audience through social media channels, professional networks, and name recognition. You can list on the MLS as a FSBO, but it will cost you.

  4. Handling all those people

    A home that’s for sale is at the busy intersection of gawkers, serious buyers, buyers’ agents and attorneys, home inspectors, and possibly appraisers, to name a few. Showings alone can be exhausting. And with a FSBO, no one else is looking out for your interests or representing you.

    An experienced real estate agent will streamline the process, bring in more pre-approved buyers, and collect valuable feedback. You’ll yield the strongest offers and the most motivated sellers, plus get recommendations on appropriate counteroffers. Having a broker or agent experienced in such negotiations, and advising on final terms and conditions, will reduce stress and anxiety for you.

  5. Paper, paper, everywhere

    The closing process involves a huge stack of complicated paperwork, knowledge of local real estate law, and attention to detail to make sure the sale goes through. If you fail to disclose something crucial about your property, for example, you could face serious financial or legal repercussions and perhaps a buyer who walks away.

    Do you want the burden of making sure all the documentation is complete and accurate? And are you comfortable knowing all the regulations affecting your sale?

Our sign is a good sign
At Century 21 Cedarcrest Realty, our real estate pros will support you throughout the entire selling or buying process. We’re Essex County and northern New Jersey experts with a successful track record. Our agency has been voted “Best Realtor” four years in a row (and counting!) in Suburban Essex magazine’s Best of Essex Readers’ Choice Awards. Give us a call at 973-228-1050 to discuss your listing.

Spotlight on … Claudette Seide

For Claudette Seide, who recently joined Century 21 Cedarcrest, service to others has always been at the foundation of her life—reflected in her passion for helping people find their perfect home as a real estate agent.

Claudette had been working at another real estate company for four years, and decided to make a career move to Century 21 Cedarcrest for its global exposure and access to the latest technology, tools, and data to help her more effectively market her listings. She says she found so much more.

“I wanted an office that offered stability and opportunity for growth; one with a comfortable working atmosphere, which I felt right away. I was also looking for an agency that fostered strong working relationships—among the agents and between agents and management—which I was not finding elsewhere. (Broker owner) John Sass made me feel so comfortable right from the beginning and (director of career development) Susan Mazzetta was wonderful. When you walk in here, you feel an immediate sense of belonging.”

She was also attracted to Century 21 Cedarcrest’s award-winning history for production and service. “That’s where you want to be—with the best, with a company that’s thriving, which in turn will help me grow my book of business.” A big factor in her growing business is her skill at negotiating; Claudette is adept at helping her customers buy and sell their homes at the best price, making sure they receive the best service and value in every transaction.

In her prior professional life, Claudette was a healthcare professional in various disciplines, including as an EKG and phlebotomy technician, for over 20 years. She is also certified in medical coding and billing, is licensed to sell life insurance, and is a notary public. All of these endeavors have helped Claudette develop a vast professional network.

Serving others is a big part of her personal life, too. Claudette does ministry work in her church, helping at-risk children locally and abroad. She has traveled to Guatemala to help children escape lives of desperation and poverty, and her ministry partners with World Mission orphanage and other groups to help develop churches and schools, and shelter and educate children. The Bloomfield resident also mentors area high school girls who need a positive role model in their lives.

Claudette is a member of the National Association of REALTORS®, the Passaic County Board of REALTORS, and the Garden State and New Jersey MLS; she works in Essex County and surrounding areas. “Wherever clients need service, it’s my pleasure to help guide them through the process of buying or selling a home.”

Spotlight on … Patrick Smith

Patrick Smith - Century 21 Cedarcrest RealtyPatrick Smith has served in the U.S. Navy as a hospital corpsman, worked for various retail establishments, sold cars at dealerships, and provided customer service at the MetLife Stadium. His multitude of early work experiences and broad skills were all rooted in his love for helping others, which guided him to becoming a real estate agent.

Pat found his love for real estate by mistake. He enrolled in a real estate licensing course with his mother to spend time with her and coach her through the material; they both passed the exam. Engaged to be married, working long hours in retail, Patrick realized it was time for a career change and took a chance on his new real estate license. It didn’t take him long to fall in love with his choice.

“I cannot imagine doing anything else,” he says. “No two days are ever alike and each one is an adventure.”

A resident of Bloomfield, Pat has been helping residential real estate customers in Essex and Passaic counties for approximately 25 years, all within the Century 21 system. Patrick joined Century 21 Cedarcrest Realty about three years ago for one reason: broker owner John Sass.

“John is a people person with great understanding and a keen ability to train others,” says Pat. “The family atmosphere we enjoy in our office and everything that makes Cedarcrest Realty what it is, is a direct reflection of John.”

Today, Pat specializes in working with homeowners dealing with short sales. This allows him to help people going through hard times to reach their ideal end goal.

He works closely with the banks to arrive at a sales figure the lender will accept, noting that short sales have a much longer closing process than typical transactions because of the negotiating these transactions entail. He is accustomed to working in divorce situations as well as estate sales, balancing the competing interests of multiple parties to make sure the contract gets signed. He is also involved in commercial work with multifamily rental and investment properties.

Pat’s hard work has paid off in many ways. He is a member of the National Association of Realtors and a New Jersey Association of Realtors Circle of Excellence multi-year award winner, and he has acquired the E-Pro for Realtors and Certified Negotiator designations, and the Military Relocation Professional and Short Sales and Foreclosure Resource certifications.

When asked for advice to new real estate agents and what he values about his career, Pat says that he values the flexibility. “As a real estate agent your sales will fluctuate, so you must become an expert at budgeting. However, you also have the option to create the availability in your schedule to be with your children; for me as a dad, that’s my favorite job of all.”