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!

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.

The Business of Being a Commercial Real Estate Agent

Working in commercial real estate is quite different from helping home buyers and sellers—you’re working with business owners and investors with a very different inventory.

A commercial transaction might deal with multi-family, mixed-use, retail, or office space. Therefore, successful commercial real estate agents must know about sales and leasing in a broad array of property types. There are different kinds of tenant negotiations that occur, and different types of marketing strategies. And a transaction could be for an owner occupied property or as a commercial real estate investment, adding additional factors to the transaction.

What do investors, buyers and tenants want from a commercial real estate professional

First off, commercial is a specialty, so it’s best that an agent gain experience and knowledge in this specific sector of the real estate field. Know (or learn) how to deal with commercial transactions—there are no uniform contracts or cookie cutter leases. That means sharpening your negotiation skills as well as understanding the leasing or commercial buying process.

Of course, just as with residential sales professionals, being proactive is important. Aside from canvassing the local market for properties and leads, research is key to commercial transactions.

  • Use your office’s systems and tools to research market rates for rentals
  • Become conversant in investment packages
  • Gain a full understanding of the different areas in your market. Do properties in certain areas attract certain kinds of businesses? Do the listing prices make sense for sale properties?
  • Can you provide a detailed and accurate financial analysis for commercial investors?

Aside from research, developing good relationships with area business owners can help create strong database and referral network. When that investor calls the office looking for help finding the right property, you’ll not only have the listings services as a resource, you’ll have local people to contact and potential space to visit because you’ve done your homework.

Speaking of referrals—remember that commercial real estate transactions often involve build outs and other improvements as part of the lease negotiations. Therefore, good power partners are architects, general contractors, and others involved in lease improvements.

More complicated investment deals may require partnering with others to make a successful transaction, so it’s important to know the players in your area or your office to create a winning team.

If you are working with tenants, it’s important that you show them you understand their businesses and that you are showing them space that makes sense for their needs. Whether it’s a restaurant, retailer, healthcare facility or law practice, every client has different needs in terms of square footage, utilities, parking and leasehold improvements.

When working with building owners, these clients want to know that you have a good performance record when it comes to finding strong tenants or solid buyers; your experience will speak for itself. They will also count on you to represent their interests to potential buyers or tenants, and that you can negotiate a strong deal on their behalf. Like the buyer or tenant, the seller or landlord will want to know that you have his/her best interests in mind throughout the transaction.

From any side of the transaction, building trust builds relationships that will in turn build business.

Build your book of business at Century 21 Cedarcrest Realty

Our office is growing—and we’re always looking for savvy commercial real estate agents to join our team. When you join our northern New Jersey office, you become part of one of the country’s most well-respected real estate organizations, with business-building tools and apps designed for commercial real estate agents. You can take advantage of commercial investment training that will position you for a broader range of transactions. Plus, you’ll benefit from our ongoing in-office training and development for agents at all stages of their careers—an important way we support our team, and why Century 21 Cedarcrest Realty consistently wins industry awards for sales volume and customer service—and accolades and awards from consumers as well.

Interested in learning more? Contact Susan Mazzetta at (973) 228-1050, ext. 126 for a confidential interview.

Getting Ready to List Your Home – Steps You Can Take to Add Value for Buyers

Getting your home prepared for a listing with a real estate agency is an exciting time. Of course, your agent will want to be excited about your listing and bring as many qualified prospects as possible. Is your real estate professional providing you with guidance about how to add value to your home? These home maintenance and repair tips will help you increase your chances of a sale more quickly.

De-clutter and organize. No one wants to step through clutter, look in rooms or closets that are overflowing with unnecessary items, or have to imagine what the space could look like without a homeowners personal effects clouding the “scenery.” Before you list your home for sale, start going through all the rooms, from attic to basement, and clean out and organize. You can create piles for discard, donate and store; once you’ve done the first two, it’s time to organize your storage needs. Closet storage systems will help you keep clothes organized and make a great presentation. Garage and basement storage solutions are also available to keep items off the floor and in a safe place.

Refresh rooms with paint. That first impression will be largely influenced by the look and feel of your rooms. After you’ve cleaned and cleared, a fresh coat of paint in neutral colors will help rooms look larger and make prospective buyers feel better about your space. Bright colors might be your style but not theirs so avoid making too much of a “statement” in your color choice.

Update bathroom fixtures. Swap out those tired old bathroom faucets and the old sink; install a new vanity or a shower head; or put on new toilet seats if necessary. You need not spend lots of money to do these simple updates and a little goes a long way. Remember, clean and new is better than tired and worn.

Update kitchen appliances and fixtures. If this is in your budget, it is well worth the expenditure on this end of the sales process. There’s no need for a full remodel but a face lift is well worth it for making a quicker sale. New cabinet doors and hardware or a new sink or new faucet with sprayer (a popular feature) are good investments. If you can swing it and your dishwasher or refrigerator are outdated, consider installing new models that prospective home buyers will appreciate.

Boost your curb appeal. Landscaping and driveway appearance are what prospective home buyers will see first—and will encourage or discourage them about coming inside for a closer look. Get your lawn in shape, plant your garden beds, prune your trees and shrubs. Outdoor lighting is also a benefit, from the front porch to the walkway or gardens. If the driveway is in poor shape, have it repaired.

Make necessary exterior repairs. In addition to the driveway, your front steps should be in good condition; your gutters should be in place and doing their jobs to prevent water damage to the home; missing roof shingles should be replaced; problems with paver or concrete walkways, your sidewalk, patio and deck (where applicable) should be remediated. Remember, you don’t want to give anyone a reason to walk away (and you wouldn’t want anyone to trip and get hurt).

Insulate for energy efficiency. One way to show prospective home buyers that your home is prepared for 21st century living is to add insulation in order to improve your energy efficiency and reduce heating and cooling costs. This is a also good time to look at your windows to see where you can seal any seams or cracks where air penetrates.

At Century 21 Cedarcrest Realty, we guide our clients to make sure their homes are in “ready for sale” condition, in order to make the sales process as stress-free as possible for everyone involved. As part of our client service, our real estate agents will go over what we feel your home needs to prepare it for a listing, and help you hash out the pros and cons of certain upgrades and repairs. Want to find out more about the best way to sell your home in Essex County or other northern New Jersey areas? Call Century 21 Cedarcrest at (973) 228-1050 or visit our website to get started.

The Advantages of Owning vs. Renting

If you’re currently renting your home and have always dreamed of buying, this might be the right time for you to make the choice to swap over to home ownership. Many people are worried about this step in life. They fear they are not ready yet, that they won’t get approved or that they won’t be able to afford buying a home. However, in many cases, buying your home can be more affordable than renting. Let’s take a look at some of the other advantages.

Here are some of the advantages of owning vs. renting your home:

  • Your monthly mortgage might be less than the rent you are already paying so buying could save you money and you’re building equity at the same time.
  • You have control of the creativity and flow of your home more when you own than most renters. You can redecorate, renovate and otherwise personalize your home. You usually cannot do this when you rent.
  • There are also tax deductions that come with owning your own home. You can deduct your mortgage interest as well as your property taxes and these are not benefits you get as a renter. There are also tax breaks on the sale of your home.
  • Your housing payments are also stable when you own vs. renting, where rent can go up. If you choose a fixed-rate mortgage, your principal and interest payments will be the same for the duration of the loan.
  • Your home is an investment. You will own it and whether you decide to live in it forever, resell it or rent it out, you are investing into something that you will own. This gives you more leverage with whatever you do decide to do with it in the future. You don’t have this power when you rent.

Of course there are also disadvantages to buying. You will be responsible for all of your maintenance fees, you could lose value in the home over time, you have to pay property taxes which could be very high depending on where you live, and it requires a cash investment.

Now that you know the advantages of owning vs. renting your home, you can make this decision for yourself. Only you can truly know if this is the right decision for you at this point in your life but there are people who can help you with the process. A credit counselor and your real estate agent or broker can help you determine if home ownership vs. renting is right for you.

House Flipping: Is It for You?

Maybe you’ve heard of house flipping or seen it on TV. It’s really grown as a method of making money and there are even reality TV shows about it. So how do you know if house flipping is for you? Really, no one else can make that decision except for you. You’re the only person who knows if you can afford it, if you can risk it, and if you will enjoy it.

Here are some situations where house flipping may not be right for you:

  • You don’t have the money – It takes money to invest in real estate and if you can’t afford it, you don’t want to risk it right now. Flipping houses can pay off big but you might also lose in some of your investments and if you don’t have the money to take the risk, you shouldn’t do it.
  • You don’t have the time – Flipping houses is going to take time. To really do this successfully, you’re going to need to invest time. You need to research houses, watch the market for quick sales and auctions and good deals, invest time in doing appraisals and also in putting time and money into fixing up the home. Then, you’re also going to need to invest time in reselling it. So if you don’t have the time, this is not for you.
  • You don’t have the knowledge – If you don’t know anything about real estate, the value of properties and the current market, this might not be right for you. If you don’t have the industry knowledge, you’re not going to know how to find good deals and make profits.

Here are some things that may make house flipping good for you:

  • Have a support network – If you have a good network of friends, family members and associates that can help you, this puts you in a good position for doing something like house flipping.
  • Have a feel for DIY and handyman stuff – If you enjoy DIY and other handyman work, you might enjoy house flipping because you can do a lot of this work hands-on for yourself. If you’re interested in it and passionate about it, then this could be a great choice for you.
  • Experience in real estate – If you already have experience in real estate, you’re going to have the upper hand in the world of house flipping.

With these ideas in mind, you can decide if house flipping is the right choice for you. If you have the money to invest and the time and you enjoy it, this can be a great part-time job or even a full time career for you.

How to Deal with Buyer’s Remorse in Real Estate

How to Deal with Buyer’s Remorse in Real Estate

 

Buyer’s remorse is not uncommon at all. Buying a house is a major decision and every person who has the mindset of an adult is going to question major decisions they make. They have fears concerning their finances and future, and that’s actually healthy. It prevents them from making decisions on the fly and considering all of the angles rather than making decisions based on things that aren’t really important. As a realtor, it’s your job to let them know how common this is and walk them through a few steps that will help them make the right decision in the end.

 

Explain Commonalities

 

Sometimes people need to know they aren’t alone. You can explain to the buyer that many people experience this same feeling. You might even relate this situation to a decision about getting married, though you might want to avoid this route if they are recently divorced. Explain that any life decision this big is bound to cause a bit of anxiety. That doesn’t mean that they are making a bad decision.

 

Go Back in Time

 

Talk about why they chose this house to begin with. Point out that those things still exist. If there are elements about the house that they don’t like, address how those might be dealt with. For example, if they don’t like the fact that there are stairs in a house, you can discuss how this is a commitment and a great buy, but that in the future, when the kids are grown and moved out, they might actually make a profit off the house when they sell it and buy something smaller with only one floor. Just be sure to return the focus to the things that they loved about the house and which caused them to claim it as their own.

 

Discuss Options

 

The buyer might still have the option of backing out. Talk with them about what might happen if they do back out and what they would look for in the next house. If possible, reveal some of the ways they might incorporate those elements into the house they are set to buy right now.

 

Sometimes it helps to write things out, so you might sit down with the client and list the pros and cons as they see it. Make a special note in any areas where the cons are going to be the same in any house they choose. Encourage them to take the list home and consider it before making any kind of decision to back out of their existing real estate transaction. Sometimes they just need a bit of time to calm themselves down and see all the potential that their new house has.