Tips for Boosting Curb Appeal This Fall

Curb Appeal Tips for the Fall - Century 21 CedarcrestIn North Jersey, fall and spring offer great opportunities to jazz up your home’s curb appeal. Before the grass goes dormant and snow covers the ground, there are some easy ways to help your home catch the eye of home buyers in your market—and have real estate agents anxious to show it to their customers.

Power wash your driveway and pathways
Pressure washing revitalizes patios, walkways, and driveways and gives an overall cleaner appearance to your property. If your house’s siding or foundation, or the tool shed could use some sparkle, pressure wash them as well.

Clean up the house’s exterior
Look for areas that need some TLC, such as

  • Gutters– check for leaks and seal those up, clean out the leaves and clear downspouts
  • The deck, which may require a fresh coat of stain or paint, or have wood spindles, railings or floor planks that need repair/replacement
  • Shutters and trim
  • Garage doors and windows – check for any needed repairs, painting, or sealing needs
  • Light fixtures – clean the shades, make sure bulbs are working
  • Railings – clean and repaint rusted spots, check to make sure railings are not wobbling or coming loose from the house or stoop
  • The front door should be as inviting as possible. If it needs to be replaced, there are many options at various price points.

Clean out garden beds
With all the leave falling and summer plants “closing up” for the season, it’s time to rake out the old, wilted flowers and greenery. Remove any annual flowers, pull out the weeds, and bag up the dried leaves along with what’s falling on your lawn. Fall is also a good time to put down a fresh layer of mulch to liven up the garden beds and help retain moisture.

Plant colorful autumn flowers
Your garden beds needn’t look so sad after spring and summer flowers have completed their bloom cycle. There are some wonderful colors to add to your flower beds with cool-season plantings such as mums, asters, flowering kale, celosia, goldenrod, and sumac. If you have flower boxes under your front window, clean those out and plant fall-friendly flowers.

Rake the leaves
A layer of colorful leaves looks pretty on your lawn, but a thick covering of leaves will smother the grass, which reduces air flow and blocks sunlight (and can create a sick lawn). If you have a compost bin, you can turn your dry leaves into a natural fertilizer to enhance the soil in your vegetable garden and flower beds next spring.

Prune hedges, trees and shrubs
Keep your trees and shrubs looking cared for by trimming back overgrowth and dead branches (now that there is less foliage to cover them up). Removing dead blooms can also reduce potential for plant disease and rodent nests. If your trees are growing too close to the house, have the branches professionally pruned to avoid damage from fallen limbs during winter storms.

Take care of patio and porch furniture
If you are showing your home, porch and patio furniture sets a welcoming tone and gives prospective buyers an idea of how lovely it will be to entertain in your backyard or sit on the porch and watch the world go by. Clean the tables and chairs, repaint wicker or wrought iron furnishings if it’s been a while, and consider replacing cushions if they are worn and faded.

Decorate for the season
You don’t need a tractor and pumpkin patch to get into the harvest-season spirit. Dress up your porch with hay bales, displays of pumpkins and gourds, hang a festive wreath on the front door, and swap out your door mat for something in fall colors. The pumpkins can be cut up and tossed around your property later for animals to nibble on as they prepare for the winter. If you have lawn decorations that need some refurbishing (gnomes, deer), fix the chips and paint where needed.

Add landscape lighting
Extra lighting around your property helps your home stand out and offers some security. Solar lights or low-wattage landscape lights connected to a light sensor are easy ways to add lighting. Of course, a licensed electrician can install permanent hard-wire landscape lighting along your front walkway, driveway, or around your patio. These are also excellent ways to spotlight interesting landscape features.

At CENTURY 21 Cedarcrest Realty, our real estate associates will offer suggestions to stage your home—inside and outside—to make sure it always looks its best for home buyers. If you’re thinking of putting your home on the market, contact us at 973-228-1050.

Winter Home Improvement Projects for North Jersey Homeowners

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

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

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

Paint and accessories

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

Bathroom or kitchen remodel

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

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

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


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

Organize the garage

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

Prune and nourish your trees

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

Install a security system

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

Finish the basement

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

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

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.

Why Winter 2018 is a Great Time to Purchase a Home

It’s no secret in the real estate business that the housing inventory in New Jersey is tight; there are far more buyers than sellers and it’s been that way for a while. This level of competition drives up housing prices (it seems we all know someone who ended up in a bidding war, whether as a home buyer or home seller, or have heard the stories). Another factor that drives home purchases: mortgage interest rates.

How do interest rates originate?
Interest rates are typically determined by a central bank in most countries. In the United States, representatives from the Federal Reserve Board and Federal Reserve Bank comprise the Federal Open Market Committee, which assesses the economic status of the country throughout the year and adjusts interest rates accordingly.

The central bank lends money to retail banks at a discount and then consumers borrow from the retail banks. The rates assigned by the central bank to the retail banks determine interest rates or Prime Interest Rates.

Why interest rates fluctuate
If the central bank wants to discourage consumer borrowing and encourage more saving, it raises interest rates. The banks rely on those deposits in order to raise their worth and have money to lend to another party, which generates additional income from interest collected. When the central bank wants to encourage consumer borrowing and increase spending, it will lower interest rates.

Mortgage interest rates today
Interest rates started creeping up a little bit late in the fall and continue a modest rise—from 3/8 to ½ of a percentage point. Bankrate predicts a slow and steady climb throughout the first half of this year due to various pressures on the U.S. bond market.

The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage rate rose .08 percent in the first week of January, a significant jump after a prior rate drop (it is currently slightly over 4 percent). That said, with New Jersey’s housing inventory being so tight and home values remaining fairly steady, why not strike while the iron is hot?

Some figures from the Mortgage Bankers Association:

  • The 15-year fixed-rate mortgage rose to 3.57 percent from 3.49 percent.
  • The 5/1 adjustable-rate mortgage rose to 3.77 percent from 3.70 percent.
  • The 30-year fixed-rate jumbo mortgage rose to 4.21 percent from 4.14 percent.

Although the difference in monthly mortgage payments is quite small today as interest rates rise (a few dollars a month for most borrowers), there’s no telling where it could end up six months from now—and besides, why pay any more than you have to on a home loan?

Some Americans appear to be catching the clue. According to the Mortgage Bankers Association’s Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey, mortgage applications overall rose 8.3 percent for the week ending January 5, 2017; 52.9 percent of those were refinances (up nearly a full percentage point from the week before). Homeowners and those on the market to purchase a home are locking into rates now.

Get into a new home sooner than later
Again, there is tremendous competition for good houses in northern New Jersey, so if you are planning to purchase a home, there’s no time like the present to get into the real estate market. And, if your credit history is strong, it’s a great time to pre-qualify for a favorable mortgage program at preferential rates.

Another great reason to purchase a home now: you’ll beat the typical spring/summer rush, so there are fewer buyers to compete with. Fewer buyers may help keep prices moderated in your favor. Sellers may also be more willing to negotiate with you.

The real estate agents at Century 21 Cedarcrest Realty will help you zero in on the right towns to meet your criteria and your budget, and work hard to help make your transaction as smooth as possible. We’re experts in Essex County, where our office is located … but we work throughout northern New Jersey, from Hudson County to Warren County and everywhere in between. We’re here with our heavy winter coats, ready to show you our listings, so contact us to get into a new home this winter at (973) 228-1050.

Staying on Top of Home Maintenance: A Spring Checklist

Staying on Top of Home Maintenance: A Spring Checklist

Home maintenance is important whether you plan to sell your home or not, but it becomes critical if you really do want to move. The winter months are notoriously harsh on homes and the spring months are a great time to work down a general maintenance checklist in order to ensure there is no surprise damage later on. So where should you start?

Roofing, Siding, Chimneys, and Gutters

Check them all for damage from ice, storms, and general wear and tear. Look at your roof from afar to see if you can identify any loose or damaged shingles. Check the siding to be sure it isn’t raised or chipped. Make sure your gutters are cleaned out and weren’t damaged by ice or snow. Have a professional come out to perform regular maintenance on your chimney, ensuring there is no masonry damage and that it is clean.

If you do plan on selling your home, you may want to invest in renting a power washer to make the house look a little cleaner and brighter.

Sidewalks and Driveways

The expansion and contraction caused by freezing and melting can really do a number on driveways and sidewalks. Survey your property for cracks that may need to be filled and be especially conscious of any raised areas that could become fall hazards. The property will need to be in great shape for a sale, but this type of repair will also help you to avoid being sued by someone who falls and gets hurt.

Survey the Foundation

Look around your home and make sure there are no low or sunken areas of ground, especially near your foundation. Any areas that look low can be filled in with dirt and compacted. This prevents danger areas from uneven surfaces and, when hear the foundation, prevents water from pooling towards your home instead of away from it. It’s also important for keeping bugs away, as water won’t have a place to stand after storms.

Fire up the A/C

Have a professional come out and service your HVAC unit. There is nothing worse than having a potential buyer walk into a home on a hot spring or summer day only to be greeted by more heat. We guarantee they won’t give your home a second thought once they walk out the door.

Regular home maintenance will make it easier for you to sell your home when you’re ready – even if that time isn’t right now. If you are ready, talk to your real estate agent about special home maintenance items or staging tasks you should be paying attention to. Every little bit counts.


Caldwell NJ Public Library Holiday 2014 Events

Caldwell NJ Public Library Holiday 2014 Events

It’s that time of year again to celebrate the holidays. Here are a few events coming up at the Caldwell (New Jersey) Public Library.

Wednesday December 3, 6:30pm to 7:30pm
Make and Take craft workshop.  Create crafts and take them home.

The workshop is for ages 12+ with families welcome.

*Registration required and space is limited.

Tuesday December 16, 1pm-2pm
Happy Hannukah!

Stop in to celebrate and enjoy a jelly donut treat. While supplies last.

Saturday December 20, 10am-Noon
Parent shopping day free babysitting

Caldwell Public Library hosts a babysitting morning of crafts, treats and a movie for children ages 5+ to help parents get some holiday shopping done. Registration required.

In general the library is open the following days and times:

Monday 9am to 5pm
Tuesday 9am to 8pm
Wednesday 12pm to 8pm
Thursday 9am to 8pm
Friday 9am to 5pm
Saturday 9am to 12pm

Have questions? Contact the Library or head on over and speak with a librarian:

268 Bloomfield Ave

Caldwell, NJ 07006

Spring Cleaning Tips Before Listing Your Home

Before you set that ‘for sale’ sign in front of your yard, there are certain things you need to do to get your home ready to sell. In this post, we want to discuss spring cleaning tips that will get your home looking its best, and hopefully, selling quickly. Now is a great time to go through your clutter and clean the home because you’ll need to do this when you pack anyway. So, let’s get a head start and get cleaning!

De-Clutter the Home

Going through your stuff isn’t always easy, because it means having to make decisions as to what to keep and what to get rid of. Some people do well in getting rid of the things they no longer want or use, and others dwell over it. To help, give yourself limitations so that you can still keep things but within a reasonable limit. For instance, if you have a collection of baseball cards, keep only those that will fit within one plastic container.

You may be able to sell some stuff in a garage sale or online and make a few extra bucks. Or, donate the things you don’t want to the many charities available, many of which will come to your home to pick everything up!

De-Personalize the Home

Next, you’ll need to take the ‘you’ out of your home. Potential buyers need to be able to walk through your home and envision their own life there, so keep your home tasteful but simple and minimal. Picture frames, collections, knick knacks and so on are the things to pack and put in storage. For tasteful decorating, use general items like candles, bowls of potpourri and fresh plants and flowers.

Clean Hard-to-Reach Areas

How long has it been since you washed the windows? Dusted the blinds? Scrubbed the shower? Vacuumed the baseboards and vents? These areas are often looked over, but they need to be cleaned before showing your home. You don’t want your dust and dirt overshadowing your space. If you need help, enlist a cleaning service and then keep up on the work from there.

Also, don’t forget the very basic tasks of vacuuming the floors each day, wiping down counters, keeping dishes out of the sink and dusting surfaces.

Still Living in Your Starter Home? Make the Most of the Small Space

It’s no secret that the housing market has been slow to recover, but at least we’re moving in the right direction. Still, millions of families across the U.S. are finding themselves in the home they purchased years ago as a starter home, even though their family has outgrown the space. For some homeowners, it will still take years before they break free from being underwater in their loan, but that doesn’t mean that homes can’t be modified to fit new needs. Here are some of the best tips for making the most of your space.

Use Your Home’s Space from Bottom to Top

If you don’t have a lot of floor space to work with, see what you can do when you start working upwards. A popular idea is hanging multiple shelves on the wall to be used for displaying collectibles, photo frames or books. Use the tops of your cabinets to add plants or cookbooks. Cabinets hung on the walls can also help in bathrooms and kitchens.

Include Dual Purpose Furniture in Main Rooms

There are many pieces of furniture that are dedicated to helping homeowners with small spaces. If you need space for a laptop but don’t want a desk sitting in your family room, try a stylish armoire. These are also great for storing toys inconspicuously. If you enjoy entertaining, try a compact table with leaves that can be inserted. If you lack seating space, try an ottoman that has chairs underneath.

Make Functional Use of Your Garage or Basement

Garages are different for everyone. Some people park their cars in them, others use them to store all of their extra stuff. When you’re tight on space, you need to utilize extra spaces in your home that can offer you more flexibility. Turn your garage into a useful storage space with overhead storage and shelving, or create a workspace for your favorite hobby. Sheds are also a great way to create additional space and can be used for a guest home or hobby space.

Rent a Storage Unit

Sometimes, we accumulate so much stuff, we just can’t house it all anymore. If you plan on moving in the near future and want to save items for this purpose, it makes sense to purchase a storage unit in the meantime. You’ll find that it will make your home much more comfortable, and keep you feeling organized, too. Since storage units cost a monthly fee, it’s best to store only necessary items you know you’ll need.