4 Tips for Building Your Credit Without a Card


Paying down your credit card isn’t the only way to build good credit. Here are four equally-as-effective alternatives.

Buying in Northern New Jersey? Get a Full Home Search
Selling in Northern New Jersey? Free Home Price Evaluation

It really is possible to build credit without a credit card–you’ll just have to take a different approach. If you don’t trust yourself with a credit card quite yet, here are some tips:

1. Start repaying your student loans. Assuming you have them, you can start repaying your loans while you’re still in school to begin building your credit score. Waiting until you’ve graduated is also an option. Either way, be sure to pay on time each month to build your score without a card.

2. Use a credit builder loan. This is similar to a secured credit card. Once you’re approved, the funds in the loan are placed in a savings account or a CD until you’ve repaid the loan. At that point, the money in your savings is yours to keep. 

3. Repay a mortgage or car loan. Since both mortgages and car loans report to credit bureaus, either of these will help you build your credit score. The difficult part in getting approved for either of these without an established credit history can be remedied by having a steady income and a good down payment. 


“  
A credit builder loan is similar to a secured credit card.


4. Make sure you pay your rent and all your bills on time. Also, beware of advanced fee loans and other loan scams that prey on people with no or bad credit. These loans typically guarantee approval and ask for some type of upfront payment. Be careful.

As always, if you have any questions about your credit or about real estate in general, don’t hesitate to give us a call or send us an email today. We look forward to hearing from you soon.

A Thanksgiving Message for You


Thanksgiving is right around the corner. We wanted to share this message of gratitude from our family to yours.

Buying in Northern New Jersey? Get a Full Home Search
Selling in Northern New Jersey? Free Home Price Evaluation

It’s that time of year where everyone is expressing their gratitude and appreciation. We love that, but we believe in doing so all year long. We’re so grateful and blessed to be able to keep in touch with so many of our past and present clients. We’re so grateful for you remembering us and referring us to help serve all of your real estate needs. We hope you all have a very happy and healthy holiday season and a wonderful Thanksgiving.

If You Want a Good Return, Steer Clear of These 5 Home Improvement Projects


Today I’ll be discussing the five worst home updates that a homeowner can do. Avoid these to keep yourself from wasting money on projects that bring poor returns.

Buying in Northern New Jersey? Get a Full Home Search
Selling in Northern New Jersey? Free Home Price Evaluation

We often talk about the best home renovation projects that people do to add some value to their property; today, let’s discuss the worst. These are five home updates that you should avoid if you don’t want to invest more money in your renovation than these projects are worth.

1. Over-the-top improvements. Before your minor upgrade turns into a home improvement disaster, ask yourself whether potential buyers in your area are likely to pony up for some posh upgrades. Unless you’re planning to stay in your home forever, we would suggest forgoing that steam shower and carved marble tub.

2. Home office overhauls.
  Home offices don’t generally pay off in resales, but if you’re working from home, they’re a must. Keep the structure of the space intact, especially if your office was once a bedroom or garage; those rooms can easily be restaged when it comes time to put the house on the market.

3. Swimming pools. They’re great to have, but they’re really controversial from a buyer’s standpoint. Pools are neutral to some people, and some people just hate them and won’t even come look at your home knowing that you have a pool.
 


“  
Just keep it simple!


4. New roofing.
 Replacing your roof can help with resale, but don’t go overboard with the material—clay, tile, and architectural shingles don’t usually have as much of return on investment. If you’re in a townhouse or condo development, make sure that you check with them before replacing your roof, as some might require you to use certain materials.


5. Specialized spaces.
There is a limited audience for certain upgrades like wine cellars, slides that go between floors, and playrooms.

My overall advice when it comes to home upgrades: Just keep it simple!

Silly Things That Could Sabotage Your Home Sale, Pt. 2


Poor furniture arrangement, junk drawers and crammed cabinets, over-filled closets, and cluttered countertops could sabotage your home sale if you’re not careful.  

Buying in Northern New Jersey? Get a Full Home Search
Selling in Northern New Jersey? Free Home Price Evaluation

Last time, I discussed five seemingly minor things that you should avoid doing at the risk sabotaging your home sale (which you can recap here). Today, I'll continue the discussion with four more silly things to watch out for before you list your home on the market:

6. Poor furniture arrangement. You might be rolling your eyes right now and thinking “What do you mean? You don’t like the way my living room is laid out?” or “How could that make a difference in whether or not my home sells?” Think back to when you saw the home you’re living in for the first time. Were you able to picture your own furniture in there or was the space too cluttered with the previous owners’ furniture? We’re not saying there’s anything wrong with your furniture or how it’s arranged, but you have to look at things through the eyes of a potential buyer and take yourself out of the picture. 

7. Junk drawers and crammed cabinets. Buyers who are genuinely interested in your home will likely open everything and look everywhere. Don’t get nervous, though—they won’t open any bedroom drawers or anything like that. They will, however, open kitchen drawers and cabinets to get an idea of how much storage the home has. This is why decluttering is key. You may be forgiven for having one junk drawer, but the neater and cleaner you can make everything else, the better. You want people to see your space, not your stuff. 

“  
   You have to look at things through the eyes of a potential buyer

8. Over-filled closets. The need to showcase your space, not your stuff, goesdouble for closets. Whether it’s a hallway closet or a master suite walk-in closet, your home’s closets will make a major impression on prospective buyers. Again, you need to look at these areas through the eyes of a buyer and box-up any offseason apparel or put away anything you’re not using. Just like with drawers, they’ll want to see how their stuff will fit in your closets, so it really pays off to have them clear and organized. 

9. Cluttered countertops. Eliminating (or at least cutting down on) clutter in your home is key to getting it sale-ready. This is especially important in kitchens and bathrooms. While people may be impressed by your professional-looking juicers, blenders, espresso machines, etc., they’re much more interested in knowing whether they’ll have ample countertop room for their own stuff. 

As always, if you have any questions about this or any other real estate-related topic or you’re thinking of buying or selling a home soon, don’t hesitate to reach out to us. We’d love to help you. 

5 Things That Could Be Sabotaging Your Home Sale


Today I am looking at five silly things that may be sabotaging your home sale. 

Buying in Northern New Jersey? Get a Full Home Search
Selling in Northern New Jersey? Free Home Price Evaluation

If your home is in decent shape and not really in need of a huge, total overhaul, then you might think that it’s ready to go on the market as it is. However, little things that you really wouldn't expect can end up being deal breakers for potential buyers. This is why today I want to share part one of a two-part series on the nine silly little things that could be sabotaging your home sale. 

To start, you want to give your home a good look by going through it as if you had buyer's eyes. You have to detach yourself so that you can see what the problems are and fix them now before they become big problems when buyers are doing their inspections. Here are the first five things you need to watch out for that could be sabotaging your home sale:

1. Cords hanging from your mounted TV. This is really one of those things that tend to fade into the background in a home that we live in every day. While you may not notice it, new eyes may go straight to those dangling cords and wonder why you didn't take the next step and hide them in the wall. Anything that makes a potential buyer question whether you cut corners or were lazy elsewhere could spell bad news for your home sale. Once they see one thing, they think there could be more.

2. Unkempt yard. After you take all the time and effort to clean up the flower beds, plant new blooms, and mulch everything, a storm comes through only to blow leaves into your yard. Unfortunately, you can't leave those leaves strewn all over the yard because it gives a poor first impression, so you will have to get them cleaned up. Remember, you can't make another first impression.


“  
While most homebuyers may not mind if animals live in the home that they are considering purchasing, they really don't want to see and smell evidence of them.

3. Dingy front door. Buyers look at your front door for curb appeal and, once again, to decide their first impression. You want them to see a nice-looking door with fresh paint, not a chipped door with old cobwebs and worn hardware. If it is a glass door, make sure it is clean and shiny. Your home may look great inside, but you need to make a great first impression, or your potential buyers may not get passed it. Luckily, this is an easy fix that consistently rates high on the return-on-investment scale.

4. Animals. While most homebuyers may not mind if animals live in the home that they are considering purchasing, unless of course there are severe allergy issues, they really don't want to see and smell evidence of them. You have probably gathered up and stowed away the box of toys, bowls, etc., but have you considered the smell? You may not notice a smell, but first-time visitors will notice it immediately. You can visit PetMD to get tips on how to make your home smell pet-free. 

5. Cobwebs. These sneak up on you. Even if you have a pretty clean home, there still may be areas that need attention, like ceiling fans, window sills that are out of reach, etc. You may not have a housekeeper on a regular basis, but having one come in for a one-time deep clean before you put your home on the market is really a good investment. It will help ensure that potential buyers don't nitpick or find a reason to question your home's condition.

Next time, I’ll share the rest of the items you need to watch out for that could sabotage your home sale. If you have any questions about this topic or are interested in buying or selling, please feel free to contact me. I look forward to speaking with you soon.

How to Buy a Home in Your 20s


If you’re a 20-something millennial who is looking to buy a home, these tips will help set you up to get started.
Buying in Northern New Jersey? Get a Full Home Search
Selling in Northern New Jersey? Free Home Price Evaluation

We’ve really got to hand it to the millennial generation—they’re an educated, tech-savvy bunch who really know what they want. Lately we’ve been finding that many 20-somethings are deciding that they want to buy their first home and leave renting behind. Today I’m here to explain just how a millennial first-time homebuyer can purchase a home with as little stress as possible.

1. Decide if you’re really ready to commit. Buying a home is the largest purchase that you’ll likely ever make in your life. You probably shouldn’t purchase a home if you can’t commit to living there for at least three to five years. 


2. Understand your finances. Lenders are going to consider every part of your financial profile, including your salary, your bills, your spending habits, and any debt you’ve incurred. Remember: homeownership doesn’t end with your mortgage payment, so be sure to budget appropriately.


3. Consider credit and savings. The better your credit score, the better the interest rate you’ll be offered. Banks know those who have better credit scores are less risky, so be mindful of paying off your bills and other payments in a timely manner.



We’ll listen to what your needs are and guide you to a successful and sustainable outcome. We are here for you.

4. Look at your savings account. You’ll need some cash to cover some of the fees involved, like attorney fees, mortgage fees, etc.


5. Find a lender and get pre-approved. This is the most important thing you can do before beginning your home search. If you do this, you’ll know what your spending power is and what price range you should stick to. I can recommend a number of mortgage lenders out there who my clients have worked with and trust.


6. Work with an agent you trust. You’ll need professional help, and our team is very good at providing it. We’ll listen to what your needs are and guide you to a successful and sustainable outcome. We are here for you.

If you have any questions about buying your first home, all you need to do is reach out to us. We would be glad to have an open discussion about what you’ll need to do in order to make your homeownership goals a reality.


How to Reduce Your Home Selling Stress


Selling a home is stressful. Here’s how we make the process easier for our clients.

Buying in Northern New Jersey? Get a Full Home Search
Selling in Northern New Jersey? Free Home Price Evaluation

Today I am here to talk to you about reducing your home selling stress. Most home sellers think that the work is done after they have decided to sell, but many are rudely awakened by a more stressful experience than they had previously expected. Here are a few ways that you can reduce home selling stress when it comes time for you to list.

The first thing you need to do is recruit a great Realtor. A truly great Realtor bears the responsibility of carrying the stress for their sellers. We are the ones with the background experience and training to navigate most circumstances that you will come across. As a matter of fact, we recently closed on a property that needed a new septic system. That held up closing, which caused the sellers to be very stressed out wondering if the sale would close. However, we were able to be there for our clients, keep everyone calm, and get the transaction through to closing with minimal hiccups.

In our experience, the most stressful times for sellers occur as a result of not sharing all of the information with their agents. Not being forthright with your agent is a huge mistake because your agent is not just your Realtor, they are your advisor as well. We have done this many times and we have the experience and knowledge necessary to make things as easy as possible for you.



It’s our job to be proactive and look for solutions.

We really want to make sure that you have the feeling that we treat your home sale as if it is our own. We want to be your Realtors for life, so making sure you have a positive, non-stressful experience is one of our main goals.

It is our job to be proactive and look for solutions. We are always here to help our clients get through the process, and the more information we have from them the better.

If you have any questions for us at any time or you have any real estate needs that we can assist with, don’t hesitate to give us a call or send us an email. We would love to hear from you soon.

Protect Yourself Against These 3 Real Estate Scams


 There are three real estate scams I’ve become aware of recently that you need to know how to protect yourself against. 


Buying in Northern New Jersey? Get a Full Home Search
Selling in Northern New Jersey? Free Home Price Evaluation

It can be a scary world out there. While the majority of people are good and honest, a few bad apples always try to take advantage of others.

Unfortunately, the real estate market is no different. Today I wanted to let you know about some real estate scams I've become aware of recently:

1. The mortgage closing scam. This scam is spreading across the country. It has become so prevalent that the FBI estimates it has led to over $1 billion in stolen or diverted funds in 2017 alone. It starts when hackers gain access to a real estate agent's email account. Then, when it's time to close a deal, the hackers, posing as the real estate agent, send instructions to the homebuyer on where to wire the money.

Of course, it is only after the buyer has sent thousands of dollars to an unknown bank account that the truth comes out—the real estate agent wasn't actually the one reaching out, and the buyer has been scammed.

2. Fake real estate lawyers. This scam is similar to the first one, in that the scammers will impersonate somebody legitimately involved with a deal. In this case, the hackers will impersonate a real estate lawyer who is associated with a particular home sale.

Then, at the time of closing, they will contact the buyer, either by email or over the phone, and tell them the wire destination has been changed. If this scam works, the homebuyer could again be out thousands of dollars.




Find a real estate agent you trust to represent your best interests.


3. The bait-and-switch. Unlike the first two scams, this scam targets sellers. It also doesn't require any hacking or impersonation—just a dishonest buyer. Here's how it works: A buyer makes an offer that's well above the listed price, the seller happily agrees, and the contract is signed.

But then, the buyer starts procrastinating, making excuses, and dragging out the process for months or even a year. In the meantime, the seller continues to pay costs for the home, and is getting more and more emotionally worn out. In the end, the unscrupulous buyer flatly says they can only buy the home at a lower price, usually under the listed price. And the seller, desperate by now, frequently agrees.

So, how can you protect yourself against these and other scams?

For one thing, avoid sending account information over email. Confirm everything over a phone call (to a number that you already know to be valid)—or even better, in person. And ultimately, find a real estate agent you trust to represent your best interests. 

If you are ever in need of a trustworthy real estate agent, my doors are always open. If you have any other questions or you are interested in buying or selling a home, don’t hesitate to give me a call or send me an email. I would be happy to help you.

Not Later, Right Now: Stop Procrastinating


 Most everyone puts off doing something until later. Here are two tips you can use to curb your habit of procrastination.


Buying in Northern New Jersey? Get a Full Home Search
Selling in Northern New Jersey? Free Home Price Evaluation

The word ‘procrastination’ comes from the Latin roots ‘pro’ and ‘cras',  meaning ‘belonging to tomorrow.’

If you’re like anyone else on Earth, you put things off until tomorrow. There are things you can do and should do, but for one reason or another, you put it off. We’re here to help with two tips to stop procrastinating.

1. A little goes a long way. The Japanese call it ‘kaizen.’ Author James Clear calls it the ‘two-minute rule.’ The idea is if you do something for a small amount of time, it is easy; you won’t feel guilty about stopping after two minutes because that was the time you gave yourself. More than likely, you will continue a bit longer. Those two minutes, however, are arbitrary—it can be 30 seconds. There are so many tasks that we put off that could be completed in about a minute, and it helps to create habits without weighing yourself down.



There are so many tasks that we put off that could be complete in about a minute.


2. Procrastinate correctly. Contrary to what you might think, procrastination isn’t a bad thing. Many amazing people we consider to be geniuses and effective individuals were chronic procrastinators. The architect Frank Lloyd Wright completed what was arguably his most famous work, a landmark home called Falling Water, in two hours after procrastinating. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart regularly and intentionally procrastinated on his masterpieces, so much that pages were often still wet with ink at performance time. Many procrastinate to light a fire under themselves, and the desperation to complete something leaves little space for hesitation and self-criticism that so often gets in the way of the creative process.

As always, we are here for anything you need. We’re grateful to be your community resource and are ready to serve you, your friends, family, relatives and neighbors. Feel free to reach out to us at any time.

How Can You Find a Great Agent Anywhere in the Country?


Being a part of Keller Williams Realty allows us to help you find a great agent anywhere in the country.

Buying in Northern New Jersey? Get a Full Home Search
Selling in Northern New Jersey? Free Home Price Evaluation

Are you moving to another part of the country but you’re not sure where to find the best real estate agent in that area? You’re in luck.

Being a part of Keller Williams Realty allows my team to help you in New Jersey and other parts of the country. We’ve formed relationships with many people in a variety of industries. Anywhere in New Jersey, we can put you in contact with the best agent in town.

If you’re considering an out-of-state move, we have top connections with mortgage brokers, financial planners, accountants, and contractors all around the country. Whether it’s New York, California, or anywhere in between, just let us know your needs and we’ll make the conversation happen.



We’ve formed relationships with many people in a variety of industries.



We’re also here for any other real estate needs you may have as well. We’re grateful to be your real estate resource, and we’re ready to serve you, your friends, relatives, and neighbors in any community.

If you have any questions at all or you’re thinking of buying or selling a home, don’t hesitate to reach out to us. We’d be happy to help you.

5 Tips for Moving With Pets


If you’re moving, you need to think about your four-legged friend, too. Here are a few ways to make the move easier on your dog.

Buying in Northern New Jersey? Get a Full Home Search
Selling in Northern New Jersey? Free Home Price Evaluation

If you think the process of moving is stressful for you, think about what your dog is feeling! Moving from an old home to a new one can confuse your pet, but there are a few easy things you can do to make this an easier and more enjoyable experience for your best friend: 

1. Tell your dog you are moving. I know it might sound silly, but we all talk to our dogs. Although they can’t understand the words we are saying, they can understand and become accustomed to change. A good idea is to take your dog on some walks in your new neighborhood near your new home before you move in.

2. Arrange your new home in a similar manner. Organizing your new home like your old one can help bring a nice level of comfort to your pets quickly. Put their treats and toys in similar places, too.


Getting a new dog tag is a good idea.



3. Research local vets before moving. Print that information out and save it for after you move. You’ll be happy you did.

4. Get an updated dog tag. If you’re moving addresses, getting a new tag is smart. If your dog happens to get out, your neighbors will know how to reach you and where you live.

5. Research the local laws regarding pets. You may have to re-register your pup with the new state or city you’re moving to.

Keep in mind that change is scary for your dog, too. Try to comfort your pup as much as possible during the move by showing a ton of affection. After all, moving can be RUFF!

As always, we’re here for you anytime you have a question about real estate or a need we can help serve. Feel free to reach out to us via phone or email any time. We look forward to hearing from you soon.