Creating Curb Appeal North Jersey Buyers Can’t Resist (with Plantings that Deer Avoid)

Ah, the merry month of May when all those April showers bring May flowers. It’s planting and gardening time in northern NJ!

Beautiful landscaping creates awesome curb appeal that your neighbors and potential home buyers will enjoy looking at. And as a North Jersey homeowner, you’ll love driving up to your home and seeing lush plantings and colorful flowers, or stepping out into your backyard where you’ve created a landscaped oasis.

Although the New Jersey real estate market is still super-hot, it’s still important to make your property as attractive as possible to buyers—while also deterring hungry deer who roam many of our North Jersey suburban towns. Here are some landscaping tips to boost curb appeal and reduce deer appeal.

Spring planting for optimal color and beauty

Most flowers bloom in mid-spring and there is plenty of late-spring color to enjoy in North Jersey. Later bloomers include lilacs, mountain laurels, and hawthorns.

If you like tending a vegetable garden and have a sunny spot, it’s time to get your veggies on—and harvest them during the summer into the fall. Corn, melons, squash, beans, peas, carrots and radishes can be planted in May; greens may still be planted (spinach, lettuce). And let’s not forget those Jersey tomatoes!

Get the green going

If you use a landscaping company, talk to your contractor about how to keep your green grass healthy. You may need to plant a different variety of grass depending on your property’s soil and sun conditions. Watering and feeding your lawn is important, of course. In addition to traditional fertilizers, there are organic options that don’t rely on harmful chemicals to nourish your lawn. Edge the grass around sidewalks, paths, and garden beds to keep it neat.

Pop the color

Add fresh greenery, bushes with colored leaves or flowering shrubs to your garden beds. Hanging plants on the porch add a colorful touch as do planters near your doorway, around the pool, or on the patio. Laying mulch down in the garden beds also adds color (shades of brown, black) and helps keep in the moisture. You can plant flowers around standalone trees, and add brick or stone borders to dress up your beds.
Add planters with seasonal flowers around your patio, porch, and under the windows.

Tactics for keeping deer out of your garden bed

Many NJ homeowners want to take the natural route and avoid chemical deer sprays and repellents. Or they don’t want to install (and see) deer fencing around their shrubs. Deer are easily startled, so hanging wind chimes or placing wind spinners around garden can help, as will a motion-activated water sprinkler to scare them away.

You can use botanical solutions as well. Deer do not like strong fragrances. For this reason, many homeowners:

  • Sprinkle aromatic spices on their plantings
  • Tie scented bar soap around their gardens
  • Plant aromatic perennial herbs throughout the garden such as thyme, mint, lavender, tarragon, chives, sage, and rosemary
  • Plant a deer-resistant wildflower mix
  • Use a little chemical-free repellent (and fertilizer) such as blood meal or fish emulsion

Deer-resistant plants

There is an extensive array of deer-resistant plants available in New Jersey, but they are not all surefire solutions and may not fully deter deer. Aromatic plants and shrubs with thorn-like leaves will help keep them away. Rutgers University has compiled a comprehensive list of plants, rated from A to D, depending on how frequently they may appear on deer menus (and be destroyed). There are annuals and perennials (shade and sun varieties), ornamental grasses, groundcover, and shrubs.

Get ready to show your home

If you’re listing your home on the real estate market, and you’ve completed your curb-appeal preparations, contact CENTURY 21 Cedarcrest Realty. We’ll market your home to buyers who are ready, pre-approved, and anxious to continue the beautiful work you’ve done. We’re experts in Essex County and Passaic County real estate, and work with home buyers and sellers throughout northern NJ. We’ll guide you through every step of the transaction. And your real estate associate might even bring you flowers to celebrate your closing . . . or a beautiful plant for your next home.

How a Renovation Loan Helps Get You into the Home You Want (Warts and All!)

Home Inspection - Century 21 Cedarcrest RealtyYou’ve been looking at houses with your Cedarcrest Realty agent and found one that fits your budget—but needs a lot of cosmetic work to get them looking their best. You see the potential, but you might not see how you can pay for the remodeling the house requires.

You can get a renovation loan to finance the remodeling costs, and get into a home you might not otherwise be able to afford.

What is a home renovation loan?

Renovation financing is used when the home buyer purchases a property in disrepair to the point that it would not pass a regular appraisal inspection. Issues may be a bad heating system, faulty septic system, or substandard roof. The main criterion is that there is something that will not meet government health and safety requirements for a domicile.

A home renovation loan is bundled as part of your mortgage to finance your purchase and proposed renovation. Jeff Greenberg of Guaranteed Rate Mortgage, a CENTURY 21 Cedarcrest Realty expert resource, explains it this way:

“This type of loan product is not for distressed fix-and-flip properties. Renovation financing is meant for buyers to use on neglected properties they intend to use as their primary residence. The renovation loan is backed by a government agency and can help people buy homes that they ordinarily couldn’t afford to get into due to the subsequent renovation costs they’d have to finance.”

How a renovation loan works

If the buyer is using renovation financing, this information is included in the contract’s comment so the seller knows this is part of the transaction, and understands that the timing for the closing may be longer.

  • These loans require 45 to 60 days and have many elements to them. There are various disclosures to sign, a checklist for the contractor to complete, and a HUD consultant report must be prepared.
  • The home appraiser comes in and provides a report on the necessary work and the contractor writes up estimates based on the report.
  • The building contractor must be licensed and insured, provide three references, and understand how the money is disbursed. For example, the first payment is not disbursed until the first phase of work is completed.
  • The lender conducts a feasibility study before processing the loan to make sure the home’s value will be enhanced within fair market value.
    • The buyer cannot over-improve the home to the point it is taken out of the prevailing market price for similar properties
    • The lender will assess if the contractor’s estimates are in line with prevailing renovation costs
  • The renovation costs are financed into the mortgage (the seller won’t have to finance the construction costs on a credit card or go for a separate loan after the closing)
  • Rates are about .5% higher than a typical mortgage due to the risk involved if the contractor does not complete the job. (An incomplete house is not loan collateral in this circumstance.) The debt-to-income qualifications are the same as a first mortgage.
  • The buyer gives a down payment on the sale price and renovation amounts, and can also finance the closing costs on the renovation portion.
    • For example, a home sells for $400,000 and needs $50,000 in renovations. The buyer gives a down payment on the full $450,000 and finances the rest together in one mortgage product.
  • The buyer has six months from time of closing to complete the work and must hold the loan for at least six months. The buyer can extend the work timeline for another six months if time is needed to complete renovations.

Each government agency for mortgages (FHA, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, VA) has a renovation product with its own parameters in terms of loan amount and work allowed. The least restrictive is the FHA, which allows buyers to do any kind of remodeling work as long as you maintain foundation footprint.

Benefits of renovation financing

Renovation financing provides flexibility for buyers and gets everyone to the closing table when a distressed property is for sale.

If a house is in disrepair, you as the buyer are likely be bidding against fewer buyers (since move-in-ready homes are more competitive). If the seller is unwilling or unable to take on the needed repairs, you can close the transaction with the financing needed to get the home in good condition and ready to move in.

“We were delighted to have Jeff present a seminar about renovation loans to our agents, who now have another tool in their real estate toolbox to benefit our customers,” said John Sass, broker owner of CENTURY 21 Cedarcrest Realty. “These loans present our buyers with more opportunities in the North Jersey real estate market, since they can get into a house that has good bones but needs a lot of work. Buyers can take advantage of this loan product to buy the house they want and get to work on it with the financing already in place—and enjoy their new home knowing important cosmetic and structural renovations are taken care of from the start.”

Tips for Finding the Right House for People with Disabilities

Physical disabilities require that homeowners have greater accessibility in their homes. Finding a house that meets your aesthetic desires and mobility needs can be somewhat challenging. And accessibility means different things to different people.

At CENTURY 21 Cedarcrest, our goal is to always make the home buying journey as stress-free as possible. We offer these tips for house hunters with disabilities.

  1. Check with your real estate agent about listings specific to accessible housing. Choose a real estate brokerage that knows the areas you prefer very well, including the neighborhoods and town amenities that support residents with different needs. When the real estate agent pulls listings for you, they should also be homes that meet accessibility criteria, or properties that could be modified to do so.
  2. Be specific about your needs or preferences, based on your abilities. A checklist of your requirements will help your real estate agent pinpoint the most sensible listings for you. Older adults with declining mobility or other conditions will have different requirements than those who use wheelchairs and need wider hallways and doorways (a minimum of 32 inches).

    For example, if steps are completely out of the question, a single-floor home with an accessibility ramp (either existing or added) or a condo in an elevator building make the most sense. However, even those may have a few steps to deal with between rooms (such as a sunken living room).

  3. Take a virtual tour in advance to refine your search. The video or images should cover all rooms including kitchen and bathrooms, and show the layout. That way, you’ll see any potential barriers or modifications that can be addressed with the seller, or cross a property off your list.
  4. Think of future modifications you may need. This is especially true of older home buyers who are downsizing. They may not be thinking about walk-in or roll-in showers, grab bars, wider doorways, or closets with lower shelving for easy reach. Look at properties that can change along with your evolving needs as you age—or properties that can be modified with relative ease to meet current needs.
  5. Develop a renovation budget. Unless you are moving into a housing community that’s purpose-built for individuals with disabilities, you will likely have to make some renovations for safety and accessibility. These may include widening doorways, altering the kitchen layout, remodeling the bathroom, or building indoor ramps between rooms. Include these figures into your overall housing budget so you stay within your comfortable price range. Also ask your real estate agency to recommend reputable general contractors in the area who are familiar with ADA specifications.
  6. Check the home’s lighting. Good lighting helps reduce household accidents. Is there good natural light during the day? Are there ample light fixtures in the hallways? Are there places to add light fixtures safely?
  7. Check out the community. What amenities does the town offer? How is the parking situation in your target neighborhood and local shopping district? Are streets well-maintained? Although municipal buildings will adhere to ADA requirements, are the local restaurants and stores accessible to all patrons?
  8. Contact CENTURY 21 Cedarcrest Realty. Our team works closely with every home buyer who’s looking and homeowner who’s selling. We take the time to understand what our customers are looking for, within their budget. We guide home buyers through the entire process with care, and can provide referrals to professional resources in the area as needed. Give us a call at 973-228-1050 to get started. Or visit our accessible offices in Caldwell or Little Falls.

CENTURY 21 supports Easterseals, a leading advocate for people with disabilities. You’ll find helpful information regarding accessibility on the organization’s website here. At Cedarcrest Realty, we look forward to helping you find a home that meets your particular needs.

Selling an Unusual Property?

Cedarcrest Realty Offers Tips for Home Sellers

Are you selling a home with unique features? This may be a piece of real estate that stands out in its area, such as a farm or ranch in an area not typically known for this (like our northern NJ suburbs) or a waterfront property in a little-known cove.

Perhaps your home was once a church or a stable. Maybe it’s perched atop a mountain, situated deep in the woods, or has all glass walls. You may have built a home inspired by nature with “woodsy” architecture, or built it into a mountainside or a cave. Does it have a nautical or outer space theme that caters to a niche audience?

Your unusual property may be a home with spaces that are not commonly found in your neighborhood, such as:

  • A basketball court or indoor swimming pool
  • A garage converted into a guest suite, home office, or recording studio
  • A basement space tricked out as a cigar bar and wine room, a media room with projection and surround sound, or a well-equipped home gym
  • Large property with a guest house or other outer buildings (raw or renovated)

You can see some truly unique real estate from around the world here and here.

Marketing your unusual property

Communication
Marketing a unique property takes some skill and savvy—and knowledge of the local market and what prospective home buyers are looking for. This also means working with a real estate agent who understands how to get those unusual listings shown to the right people. It’s important to communicate from the start so that both agent and customer are on the same real estate page in terms of types of buyers to attract (or if you’re the buyer, types of homes to show you).

  • For a musician, the house with the recording studio or purpose-built rehearsal space will be attractive.
  • Someone who loves the great outdoors may gravitate to a home in the woods or with scenic mountain views.
  • The weekend farmer may love the potential to do some tilling and growing on that farm property.
  • The woodworking enthusiast, weekend mechanic or artist will appreciate the barn that can be turned into a workshop or studio.
  • Fitness buffs will see the benefits of that indoor pool or home gym right away
  • Film lovers will flip over the home theatre

Digital marketing
As your Cedarcrest Realty agent will explain, online marketing that uses specific keywords in the listing to attract specialty buyers is a start, as is creating marketing materials that celebrate the home’s unusual features or location. This will help market the property to target buyers who may not be looking for a “three-bedroom ranch with updated kitchen and bath.”

Social media—especially Instagram and Facebook—is an excellent vehicle for showing off a home’s unusual aspects. At CENTURY 21 Cedarcrest, we recommend hiring a professional photographer with experience in real estate photography to create compelling social media posts and put together a powerful virtual tour. If that’s not in your budget, you can capture high-resolution digital photos from your camera (even a new cell phone); be sure to stage the rooms before shooting. If your home is on a large or extraordinary piece of land, or has exterior features of note, drone photography is a great way to show the setting and adds drama to your listing.

Real estate staging
As with any home on the market, real estate staging is an excellent way to show the space and give prospective buyers the ability to visualize themselves and their furnishings in the rooms. Even if you’re attached to your Star Trek memorabilia in your Enterprise-shaped house, your Cedarcrest Realty agent will likely recommend you pack away most of it to clear the clutter. If you’ve chosen dark colors for your walls, buyers may turn away because of all the work it takes to paint light over dark (primer, two coats of paint …) so you may have to repaint the walls in more neutral tones, even though that deep blue matches the captain’s quarters on the cruise ship.

Be flexible
You may have made some home improvements that appeal to you but are making it difficult to sell your house—whether it’s an odd addition or level, choice of construction materials, or using a space differently from its intended use. Your real estate agent may suggest reverting a private office into a den or repurpose a large addition into a great room that appeals to families. Remember, your agent is there to help you get the best offer in the shortest amount of time!

At CENTURY 21 Cedarcrest Realty, we work with home sellers and buyers across northern New Jersey, with a specialty in Essex County and Passaic County. Our agents have helped thousands of buyers and sellers throughout our 12 years in business, making successful, happy matches with all types of properties in all price ranges. Contact us at 973-228-1050 to get your home listed or to start your home buying journey with our experienced real estate team.

First-Time Home Buyer? Cedarcrest Realty is Here to Help

You’ve been renting an apartment or house but now you’re thinking about buying your first home in North Jersey. There are many considerations for first-time home buyers—from determining your budget to locating your target neighborhoods.

Entering the real estate market can be exciting—and for first-time buyers, a bit daunting (we promise it gets easier after your first home purchase!). It’s no secret that we live in an expensive part of the country with high real estate taxes. But don’t let that deter you from finding a great starter home in Bergen, Essex, Morris, or Passaic counties (or beyond). There are many wonderful towns and homes in all price ranges.

Let’s break it down for you.

Considerations for first-time home buyers

  1. Budget – determining your home-buying budget will then determine many other factors involved in your decision—size of the house, neighborhood/town, type of mortgage, and more. The sale price of any home is not the only cost consideration—there will be approximate monthly mortgage payments, real estate taxes, and utility costs. In the case of a condominium or townhouse community, common area charges and/or homeowner association (HOA) fees must be included. Your real estate agent can go over all the typical expenses involved, and help you formulate a comfortable working budget.
  2. Settling on a budget will lead you to the next steps in the house hunt. Knowing what you can comfortably afford will help you zero in on certain towns or areas, and the type of house in your budget. Choosing the area and type of home are highly subjective decisions and many criteria play into it. For example:
    1. Do you prefer urban, suburban, or more rural communities?
    2. Do you need bus or rail availability, or access to highways?
    3. Is the public school system important to you if you plan to raise children there?
    4. What features are must-haves vs. want-to-have in the home?
    5. A fixer-upper in an urban location may be right for you—if you have the funds to invest in the needed renovations or can tackle those yourself.
    6. Perhaps a smaller house in a desirable town is a great starter home, with room to expand or move up in later years.
    7. Or maybe, despite renting all those years, you’ve socked away a hefty amount for a down payment and your income supports a jumbo mortgage on a big house on a large piece of land. Go for it!
  3. Our Cedarcrest Realty associates can provide valuable information about the towns in the counties we serve, with relevant tax rate figures, the town amenities (recreation facilities, programming for residents, shopping, and dining options) and what your local real estate taxes cover (such as garbage and recycling pickup). Your agent will also provide the comparative sales analyses that will help you arrive at a competitive offer price.

  4. Mortgage pre-approval – at CENTURY 21 Cedarcrest Realty, we strongly recommend (especially in the crowded North Jersey real estate market) to get pre-approved for a mortgage (not just pre-qualified). A lender’s pre-approval letter, while not a guarantee of a loan, is a commitment by the lender to a certain amount (pending appraisal). This shows you are serious about making an offer, as it is a more rigorous process than pre-qualification.
  5. About that mortgage: Having a strong credit score will help you qualify for a favorable program, so it’s important to know your credit score and take steps to improve it if necessary. Review your finances to see how you can save as much as possible (while also meeting your existing financial obligations, of course), and assess where you can cut if necessary. The traditional down payment is 20% of the purchase price but there are programs available for home buyers who have less set aside for the down payment.

  6. The offer – once you find the right house, your real estate agent will help you negotiate an offer and guide you through the next steps once your offer is accepted. There are a lot of them! There will be certain disclosures to consider and items you may want repaired before the sale (or use as a bargaining tool if you agree to handle those once the sale is completed). There will be a home inspection, appraisal, title search, and mortgage approvals. Your Cedarcrest agent will also explain the closing costs associated with your transaction so you can be prepared for everything in that exciting home stretch.

Your real estate agent at CENTURY 21 Cedarcest Realty will walk you through the entire home buying process, and provide guidance at each step. Our team also has many in-office resources as well as trusted professionals in related fields such as mortgage lenders and home inspectors. The New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency has a helpful guide with lots of information about what to expect during your first-time home search, and our specialists in North Jersey real estate are here to help. Call our Caldwell office at 973-228-1050 or in Little Falls at 973-364-1111 to get started on your home-buying journey.

The Benefits of Real Estate Staging

The practice of real estate staging isn’t new—it was first introduced in the 1970s—but it has become an increasingly popular and important tool for real estate agents and homeowners selling a home. Staging a home enables potential buyers to really see the full view of the property and helps them envision how they would use it.

According to the National Association of REALTORS® 2021 Profile of Home Staging, home staging is a significant part of home buying and selling. The report notes that:

  • Eighty-two percent of buyers’ agents said staging made it easier for a buyer to visualize the property as a future home.
  • Twenty-three percent of both buyers’ and seller’s agents said that home staging raised the dollar value offered between 1% and 5%, compared to similar homes on the market that hadn’t been staged.
    • Eighteen percent of sellers’ agents said home staging increased a residence’s dollar value by 6% to 10%.
    • Thirty-one percent said that home staging greatly decreased the amount of time a home spent on the market.

What is real estate staging
Staging originally meant decluttering rooms, arranging the furniture, and making basic or cosmetic repairs. Today—especially in competitive markets like northern New Jersey—home stagers may recommend steps that totally transform rooms. The idea is to show off the spaces to their best advantage by creating an updated, clean, appealing environment—the ultimate model home. That may entail:

  • Removing or replacing some furniture (to make the room look larger and to utilize the space more efficiently or to show off special features)
  • Accessorizing with pillows, plants, towels, new bed covers, and lifestyle accessories
  • Removing many personal family photos and knickknacks that can distract prospective buyers and add clutter to shelves and tables
  • Repainting rooms to be more neutral backdrops, replacing carpeting or flooring if necessary.
  • Update lighting
  • Add some artwork to walls or shelves for pops of color and interest
  • Include seasonal or location-specific décor or accessories

According to the NAR report, the living room is the most important and most common room to stage, followed by the master bedroom and kitchen. However, with more people working from home at least part of the time these days, staging a home office could be just as important.

The value of strong visuals
The expression “You never have a second chance to make a good first impression” certainly plays out when it comes to staging. As real estate professionals, we understand the value of having great photography and video to help show a home and give buyers a first look that entices them to see the home with their real estate agent. A professionally staged home photographs beautifully and shows better on video tours and walkthroughs as well.

Work staging into the budget
Staging an empty home may be easier than working with existing furnishings, and the costs will also depend on the size and condition of the home. Factor in the local market competition and estimated return on staging investment—which for luxury listings will be nominal. Even for homes in the mid-market range, sellers should consider the few thousand dollars it costs to be money very well spent. You’ll see good ROI when you sell your home in less time, getting asking price or above (avoiding a price reduction) for a beautifully staged home that attracts motivated buyers.

At CENTURY 21 Cedarcrest Realty, we are experts in North Jersey real estate, and we know what it takes to market a home in our highly competitive area. Our goal is to provide superior customer service throughout every step of every transaction. Our real estate associates will walk through your home and make suggestions for decluttering areas, rearranging or removing furniture, making simple repairs, and painting where needed. If a larger-scale staging effort is needed, we can make recommendations for certified home stagers as well as professional organizers, cleanout experts, and other service providers that can help get your house in order, inside and out, before listing it for sale.

Contact our Caldwell office at 973-228-1050 or in Little Falls at 973-364-1111 if you’re putting your house on the market or if you’re shopping for a new house, condo, or townhouse. We’re here to help!

Luxury Property Real Estate Transactions: CENTURY 21 Cedarcrest’s Fine Homes & Estates

We are blessed to have offices in Essex County and Passaic County, where many high-end homes are also located, with proximity to other luxury markets in Bergen County and Morris County. As a real estate brokerage that is part of the CENTURY 21 Fine Homes & Estates® program, we have the knowledge and resources to market luxury homes in our market. This is a specialized division that caters to the home buyers and sellers in the luxury market.

What constitutes a luxury home?
According to CENTURY 21 Real Estate, a luxury listing is one that is priced at three times the market area’s median price, and typically is in the top 10% tier of the local real estate market.

According to the New Jersey REALTORS®, the single-family median sales price was $458,675 in June 2021 (up by about 29% over the prior year); given that figure, a luxury listing in our area would start at approximately $1,380,000. In addition to price point, other criteria may include the home’s condition, size (property and house), number of bedrooms and bathrooms, location (neighborhood as well as environment such as waterfront property or golf/country club community), and high-end amenities.

Who are today’s luxury-home buyers?
Urban buyers who came out to North Jersey during the pandemic, seeking more house and space drove luxury home sales over the past year, as the money they were paying to live in New York City went (and still goes) further in our suburbs. These buyers are often well-positioned to buy the prestigious properties within our Fine Homes & Estates portfolio.

Further, they are usually millennials who postponed buying a “starter home” as their parents probably did, and now have the purchasing power to go big. In fact, according to the National Association of REALTORs, millennials comprise the largest cohort of home buyers nationwide followed by Gen Xers. Given they have delayed their residential real estate purchases and with mortgage rates historically low, it’s prime time for this population to enter the luxury market.

What do they want in an upscale home?
Some high-end amenities are based on the home’s location or the buyer’s profile, but some common sought-after upgrades include:

  • Expansive outdoor entertaining space (complete with chef-worthy outdoor kitchen, built-in fireplace, multi-level patio or deck, spa, lush gardens)
  • Kitchens with work/dining island, European appliances, industrial stoves
  • Private dock and/or beach for waterfront properties
  • Wine cellar
  • Smart appliances/connected home
  • Fully equipped media room.
  • Home office(s) or playroom
  • Guest/caregiver bedroom and bath
  • Energy efficiency features from solar panels to tankless water heaters

Tools to market luxury homes
Preparing to list and market these distinctive homes requires a higher level of preparation and attention to detail. With the CENTURY 21 Fine Homes & Estates program, Cedarcrest Realty has access to specialized marketing tools to effectively market distinctive homes and address the expectations of the more affluent buyer or seller. For example, our real estate associates who work within this segment understand that they may be expected to work with or negotiate with other individuals such as trusted advisors (attorneys, accountants, business managers) or professional associates of the buyers or sellers.

Marketing your New Jersey luxury home

Every listing in Cedarcrest Realty’s Fine Homes & Estates program receives extensive exposure to potential buyers and their real estate agents through multimedia marketing and advertising support, which includes:

  • Strong curbside visibility with our “Fine Homes and Estates” signage
  • Exposure nationwide and internationally on hundreds of websites that cater to exclusive lifestyles, including Wall Street Journal (WSJ.com), RobbReport. com, duPontREGISTRY.com, LuxuryHomes.com, James Edition, MansionGlobal.com
  • Professional real estate photography
  • Professionally written and designed marketing collateral that highlights the property’s unique high-end features
  • Property brochures distributed to potential luxury home buyers and the area’s finest real estate offices
  • Featured listing in Suburban Essex magazine, Essex County’s upscale lifestyle magazine read by your potential buyers
  • Outreach to our extensive Global Broker Referral Network℠

Remarkable homes for sale require remarkable service and attention. At CENTURY 21 Cedarcrest Realty, we have won multiple industry and consumer awards in recognition of our high level of customer service (as well as sales). Rest assured, our Fine Homes & Estates team will create an award-winning experience for your luxury home listing or to help you find the distinctive property you seek in North Jersey. Contact our office in Caldwell at (973) 228-1050 to get started.

Agent Spotlight on . . . Jo Ann Restrepo

Jo Ann Restrepo - Century 21 Cedarcrest RealtyJo Ann Restrepo has worked in real estate since 1998 and joined CENTURY 21 Cedarcrest Realty in May. You might say she grew up in the business—her mother and aunt were real estate agents for decades, which is how she met broker owner John Sass. Jo Ann used to visit her mother at another CENTURY 21 office where she worked and over time, mom and the other agents talked her into getting into the business.

A long-time Hawthorne resident, Jo Ann works mostly in Passaic and Bergen counties as well as Essex and Morris. Before coming to Cedarcrest Realty, she worked in several Passaic County brokerages. She enjoys working most with buyers and managing the buying process for them.

“Once they make an offer and it’s accepted by the seller, I work closely with all the related professionals—home inspectors, attorneys, mortgage brokers—throughout each step of the process, and make sure the deal goes through,” said Jo Ann.

Prior to becoming a real estate agent, Jo Ann was a payroll supervisor for construction companies, handling union payrolls and benefits for projects in New York City and New Jersey, some in the billions of dollars. She’d also been an executive secretary, so details, numbers, and integrity count strongly for her when it comes to real estate transactions.

As someone who manages each buyer’s journey with care, Jo Ann noted she’s also not afraid to express her opinion.

“I deal honestly with people and treat my customers like family. If something comes up during the inspection that concerns me, I will advise buyers about whether or not they should buy the house.”

Over the past 20+ years, Jo Ann has seen many changes in the way real estate is transacted. While she acknowledges that technology saves agents time and paper—no more multiple originals of all the paperwork—she prefers the personal touch when it comes to presenting offers to the sellers.

“I like presenting my buyers and telling their story; this is especially helpful when you’re in a situation with multiple offers or a bidding war,” said Jo Ann. “Electronic filing has streamlined the logistics of the transaction and has changed the way we represent our clients, but for me, real estate is still a personal business and it always will be.”

John Sass agrees. “We’re delighted to have an agent with so much experience in our core areas join the CENTURY 21 Cedarcrest Realty family,” said John. “Jo Ann shares our commitment to great customer service with that personal touch that makes such a difference in how we conduct our business.”