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Archive for the ‘Union County’ Category

How do you choose a house?

What criteria are you looking for in a home?

When you are ready to start looking at homes, you and your agent will go through all of the homes offered for sale in your neighborhood in your price range. From the list, and there could be many, you’ll select the homes that meet the criteria you need and want in a home. Some things to consider are:

  •  How many bedrooms do you want?
  • How many bathrooms do you want?
  • What’s your preference in terms of outdoor space? Do you want a backyard, a garden, a lawn, a patio, a deck?
  • Do you want a garage?
  • Do you want a basement? Do you want a finished basement?
  • What room sizes are you comfortable with?
  • What floor plans or styles of homes do you like? Do you like split level homes, colonial homes, ranch homes, bi-levels, Tudors, Victorians, expanded ranch, Cape Cod or contemporary homes?
  • How much storage space is essential to you?
  • What upgrades are you looking for – gourmet kitchens, hardwood floors, granite countertops, and skylights?
  • Do you want a swimming pool?
  • Are you comfortable with a fixer-upper?

You’ll probably be able to take a list of all of the homes in your neighborhood in your price range and then narrow it down to a few that appeal to you based upon these characteristics.  Finally, your agent will schedule times for you to see each home on your list!


On your first showing day, you may find yourself getting confused by all the possibilities. Your agent will help you by pointing out the comparisons between the homes and helping you to see the home’s best features.

It often helps to keep a record of the homes that you’ve seen, their location, list price, and features that you love and don’t love about each home.

Buying a home is a financial decision and a business decision, but it’s also a very emotional decision. It might take two or three or even more showing days to find the right home for you and  your family. If you are exceptionally clear about the criteria that you want and don’t want in a home, your agent will be able to help you find the right home more quickly.


Writing an Offer on a Home

Once you’ve found a home, your agent will help you write an offer.

An offer takes the form of a contract and specifies everything about the conveyance of the property. Then, your agent will present the offer to the listing agent who will present it to the owners.

How Much Should You Offer?

In writing an offer, some buyers are concerned about offering too much. They think that if their offer is accepted, that means they could have offered less and still gotten the house. Other buyers are concerned about making an offer that is too low. They’re afraid that the sellers will be insulted and will refuse to negotiate.

Our advice to you is to make an offer that reflects what the property is worth. The only way to find out what it’s worth is to compare it to other similar properties that have sold in the same neighborhood. Your Realtor will call that a Comparative Market Analysis (CMA). For more information on how CMAs are written, please read this article.yellow

What Other Information is in the Offer?

In addition to how much money you’re willing to offer for the home, there are other factorsthat are included in your offer and may impact the seller. One factor is the time frame. Your seller might want to close quickly or slowly to accommodate some event so your offer might be more appealing if you’re offering a flexible closing date. The type of financing you’re securing and the amount of your down payment are also important to your seller. They may feel more secure if your down payment is large or if your loan is a certain type.

You will also be asked to provide a check as earnest money. This is money, usually $1000, that indicates that you really intend to follow through with this contract as it is written if it is accepted by the seller. Of course, if the contract fails to be accepted, you will be refunded that money. If the sale gets to closing, this money will count as part of your down payment.

Then What?

Your agent will present the offer to the sellers. Possibly, they’ll have you write a letter telling the sellers a little about yourself to make the offer more personal. Additionally, your agent may present the offer in person to negotiate on the spot, with your permission.

The seller will either accept the offer as written, make a counter offer, or simply say no. If they accept the offer as written, congratulations! You’re on your way to owning the home you’ve chosen! If they make a counter offer, then your agent will negotiate on your behalf to try to reach a meeting of the minds. If they say no, then you’re back to the drawing board.


How to choose a neighborhood


An old joke goes like this:

Q: What are the three most important factors in a home?

A: Location, location, location.

But it’s not really a joke. Where you choose to live will have as much, or more, of an impact on your quality of life as the home you choose. westdown

What characteristics do you want in your neighborhood? Some things to consider are:

  •  How do you feel about your commute? Do you want to live 5 minutes from work or are you ok with living 30 or 60 minutes from work? Are you willing to drive on highways and take bridges or tunnels to get there, or will you be willing to take mass transit? Select neighborhoods that allow you to have the commute you prefer.
  • How important are the quality and proximity of schools to you? If you have, or will have children, then you want to do some research into the schools in the neighborhoods before you commit to a house. How close do you want to be to the schools – is walking distance necessary, or will you drop your children off at school or will they take a school bus?
  • Do you want community parks, green space, lakes, playgrounds, or other recreation available near by? If so, then make sure that the neighborhoods you choose have those amenities.
  • Is it important to you that shopping be within walking distance or within a short car ride? Are you comfortable driving 20-30 minutes for groceries?
  • The type of restaurants in a neighborhood might be an important factor for you. If you like to dine out, then you’ll want to choose a neighborhood that provides the types of restaurants that you enjoy.
  • For many home buyers, the proximity of a House of Worship to their home is an important factor.

This is the most important advice we can give you – Spend some time in each of the neighborhoods you’re considering. Get to know the neighborhood and the people in it – eat in the restaurants, shop in the stores, visit the library. Go to the post office and the convenience store. Do these people seem like people you want to live near? What’s the “feel” of the neighborhood?

Should you buy a Home?

There are many reasons why people choose to purchase their own home. The most common reasons are:hand-over-keys-to-house

1. Quality of life. Living in your own home allows you the opportunity to make decisions about your lifestyle that renting doesn’t always allow – decisions about room decor, pets, noise levels, carpeting, gardening. Owning your own home also provides you with participation in a community and homeowners report a higher satisfaction with their life, higher self-esteem, happiness, and higher perceived control over their lives (Social Benefits of Homeownership and Stable Housing).

2. Price appreciation. Real estate is a good investment. From 2013 to 2014, home prices increased nationally almost 14% and are predicted to rise another 5% by 2015 (Why 2014 is a good year to buy a home). Additionally, money paid in rent is gone, whereas money paid in mortgage principal increases your net worth.

3. Tax benefits. The interest you pay on your mortgage is tax-deductible. You can also deduct any payment toward points to reduce the interest rate of your mortgage. You don’t have to pay taxes on up to $250,000 profit ($500,000 if you are a couple who files jointly) you make when you sell your principal home (Tax benefits of owning a home).

There are also reasons why some people choose not to purchase their own home. These include:

1. The cost of owning a home can be great. Upkeep and maintenance can take a chunk of your budget, depending on the home, and can take a chunk of your free time. Painting walls or fixing plumbing over the weekend isn’t everyone’s cup of tea.

2. Real Estate taxes. Renters don’t pay real estate taxes, which, for parts of Union County, can be very high.

3. Insurance. Homeowners insurance for a $400,000 home is around $1,200 per year (Measuring The Benefits Of Home Ownership).

4. Job or family insecurity. If your financial situation is in flux, now might be the best time for you to invest a large amount of money. If there is a possibility that you will be transferring to a new job location in the near future, now isn’t the right time to settle down.

If you’ve decided that buying a home is right for you, then Team Zuhl is here to help you on every step of the way!

The dangers of overpricing your home

Some homeowners are of the (mistaken) belief that they should price their home a tad above what it’s worth – say, $340k for a home worth $300k – so that there’s “room for negotiation.”


Pricing your home above its value actually decreases its value, and here’s why:

  1. Timing is everything. The greatest potential for buyer traffic is the first 30 days. This is an actual graph for the number of showings that a listing of ours recently had in its time on the market.  Internet activity follows an identical pattern. The only time the number of showings will actually increase is when the price drops – but that bump is never as high as the number of showings in that critical first week.showings


  1. Showings shut out. Buyers’ agents have an ethical obligation to do what is best for their clients. Showing them overpriced listings does not meet that criteria. Agents will always choose to show properties that are within their buyer’s price range and that are priced appropriately.
  2. Benefits the competition. Imagine that you’re in a grocery store. Two identical loaves of bread are sitting next to each other on the shelf – one is priced $5 and the other is priced $4. If there is no additional value to the higher priced bread, the lower priced bread is more likely to get purchased. The same is true of your home. When a home is overpriced, it not only sits on the market but also acts as a selling point for correctly priced homes. It’s a cue for buyers to say “I can get the same house for less!”
  3. Lender trouble. Even if there is a buyer willing to pay $340k for your $300k house, these buyers will not be able to get a mortgage. Today’s lenders are extraordinarily cautious and base their loans on accurate appraisals.
  4. Time on market. Overpriced homes will sit on the market. Extended time on the market makes buyers think that there are problems with the house and are loathe to even see the house.
  5. Lower proceeds. When a home is listed above its value, it almost always sells for less than its value. Simply put, buyers presume that the seller is getting desperate to sell and therefore make a low offer.

If you’re serious about selling your home, contact us today to help determine the best possible listing price to get the results you want in the quickest time possible!


Visit Thomas Edison’s Laboratory and Estate

Here’s a perfect way to spend an afternoon soaking up some of the history that makes New Jersey so proud.

Thomas Edison is, of course, credited with the discovery of hundreds of practical devices such as the electric light bulb, phonograph, and motion picture camera.  “The Wizard of Menlo Park” held 1093 patents in the US and many others in Europe. 

At the laboratory and estate, you can view a 20 minute orientation film called the Invention Factory.

You can also watch “The Great Train Robbery,” which is a silent movie from 1903.

The Great Train Robbery - Resampled Edition (1903) - Thomas Edison


All three floors of the main laboratory are available for your exploration as is the Chemistry lab.


You can walk the courtyard and see the Black Maria.

At Glenmont, you can tour Edison’s 29 room mansion and explore the grounds and outbuildings.

Thomas Edison’s laboratory is open to the public every day except Monday and Tuesday from 10am to 4 pm. The Glenmont Estate is open on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays from 11:30-4:00. House tours are only offered between 12 noon and 3:00. The entrance fee is $7.00 but children under the age of 16 years are admitted for free. An optional audio tour can be purchased for $5.00.  An annual park pass can be purchased for $30.00 and allows the card holder plus 3 guests free admission for a year. It is located at 211 Main Street, West Orange, NJ.



Spacious Split Level in Rahway

161 Cornell Avenue

Rahway, NJ


This spacious 4 bedroom, 2 bath split level home features a beautifully landscaped private yard, an open floor plan, and plenty of storage.

Newer windows, HWH, roof, furnace, Central AC

2 zone heating and cooling

Offered for $299,000

To schedule your private showing, please contact Team Zuhl at 908-917-4189!

A Tour of Cranford

Cranford is a beautiful town located in central Union County.  About 23,000 people call Cranford home and New Jersey Monthly magazine ranked Cranford as its 34th best place to live in its 2010 rankings.

Here’s a quick tour to help give you an idea of the great amenities that Cranford has to offer its residents:



If you’re thinking of buying a home in Cranford, let us know and we’ll help make it happen!

For more information:




What is curb appeal?

Curb appeal is that enigmatic attraction of buyers to your home. Unfortunatly, no one can predict exactly what every buyer is looking for, but here are some tricks to make your home more attractive to the average buyer:

  • Your front yard must be immaculately landscaped. The lawn must be cut and trimmed neatly, preferably on the diagonal.
  • In autumn, leaves must be removed daily. In winter, snow and ice must be removed daily.
  • Sweep the sidewalks and pathways.
  • Your front yard plantings should be neat and attractive. No weeds. No dead branches. New mulch.
  • The border between your plantings and lawn must be neat.
  • Your front porch must be swept daily.
  • Put out a new colorful welcome mat.
  • Paint your front door so it looks clean and bright. A new door is probably worth your investment. Nationally, new front doors recoup 102 percent of their cost in market value.
  • Wash the windows in the front of the house.
  • Be sure that there are neat and clean window treatments in the windows.
  • The light fixtures in the front of your house must be in working condition and should provide soft lighting to all walkways and stairs without causing a glare. Take down the fixture and clean it, or replace it.
  • Be sure your house number is easily visible.
  • Plant yellow flowers. The color yellow sells.
  • Buy new hardware for the front door, including a new mailbox.
  • Power wash the front of the house to remove dirt.
  • Maintain a neat and clean place for your garbage cans, preferably out of view on the side of the house.


Liberty Hall

20140710_124224Liberty Hall was a 14 room Georgian style home when it was first built in 1772 by William Livingston, a lawyer who became a member of the First and Second Continental Congress and later the first Governor of New Jersey. Livingston’s gardens and orchards are still intact and can be toured year round.

Many famous visitors spent time in Liberty Hall including Alexander Hamilton, and George and Martha Washington. Peter Kean purchased the house in 1811 for his mother who was a niece of William Livingston. The Kean family owned the house for several generations during which time they modified the home to make it a 50 room Victorian Italianate mansion. 20140710_123537They also added running water, gas lighting, and hot-air heating. Mary Alice Kean spearheaded the restoration of Liberty Hall in the 1940s.

Liberty Hall is located on the corner of Morris and North Avenues on the Liberty Hall Campus of Kean University. Liberty Hall is  and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is a National Historic Landmark. The collection includes furniture, clothing, manuscripts, pictures and other historical artifacts including a signed letter from George Washington and an invitation to Abraham Lincoln’s inauguration.

There is a farmers market at Liberty Hall every Thursday this summer from 12-7 until October 30th.







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