Making Your Real Estate Dreams Come True

Archive for August, 2013

Baltusrol Golf Club

The Baltusrol Golf Club  is a private 36-hole golf club in Springfield, New Jersey and was rated by Golf Magazine as one of the “First 100 Clubs in America.”balt

Baltusrol, which opened for play in June of 1922, has been the site of many prestigious tournaments, most recently the PGA Championship in 2005 but including 15 USGA sponsored tournaments.  In 1985, it became the first club to have hosted both the U.S. Open and Women’s U.S. Open on two different courses and has hosted the US Open seven times, most recently in 1993.

Baltusrol is built on land originally purchased in the 1890s by Louis Keller, who was the publisher of the New York Social Register and is named for Baltus Roll, an apple farmer who was murdered at his home in 1831. Roll was murdered by Peter B. Davis and Lycidias Baldwin  who thought that there was a treasure hidden in his farmhouse on Baltusrol mountain. Baldwin fled to a tavern in Morristown and overdosed on drugs. Davis stood trial but was acquitted. He eventually was sentenced to 24 years in Trenton State Prison for a different crime and died there.

There are two courses at Baltusrol – the Upper course and the Lower course – designed to be equally challenging but different in design. The Lower course is built on rolling parkland and the Upper course runs along the Baltusrol Mountain ridge line. Both courses were designed by A. W. Tillinghast and are par 72. The Dual Courses are the first contiguous 36 hole golf course built in the United States.The clubhouse at Baltusrol was the first clubhouse to host a President of the United States, William Howard Taft.

National Dog Day – 5 Truisms I’ve learned from my dog

Samantha the Wonder Dog was adopted into our family

back in 2001, and she’s been the princess in our house ever since. Here are 5 things she’s taught us that have made us better Realtors, and, dare I say, better people:

1. Always go for the treat.  Treats are rare indeed, and they are always worth whatever the treat holder asks.

2. When you get caught chasing your tail, just

sit down and wait it out. The urge will pass.

3. Work hard but play harder. Sam’s job is to protect the house – and our house is completely monster free, thanks to her zealous barking. But when she plays, she’s all about the game. Dozens (hundreds?) of stuffed ducks have been routinely fetched and chomped and played tug of war with.

4. When you’re in the car, open the windows and smell the fresh air. Every day is an exciting adventure, even when you’re just going to the post office.

5. Your people are much more important than anything else. Protect them at all cost, and make sure you love them every chance you get. If they don’t feel like loving you back right at that moment, nuzzle them harder.

I hope there’s a Samantha the Wonder Dog in your life. If not, we can always use a dog sitter for a weekend 🙂

Use your Blog for Good!

Bloggers and Social Media users unite!

Blog Action Day is a day when all blogger all over the world will use their blog as a forum to promote one important global topic on the same day.  In previous years, topics ranged from poverty to climate change and thousands of blogs took part.

This year’s theme is Human Rights and  will be held on October 16. and you can click here to register your blog and take part!  You can see the list of 2013 participants here – more than 700 bloggers have already registered, from locations all over the globe!

Be a part of it! Use the power of your blog to do something good for the world!

Hurricanes and your Home – A Quiz

Hurricane Season is upon us. Do you know how to protect your home if a hurricane hits? Take this short quiz.

1. Your homeowners insurance won’t cover damage to your home if a named storm hits.

2. Hurricane insurance is like flood insurance – there’s nothing you can do to lower the cost.

3. First aid supplies, flashlight, water and food, and changes of clothing are all that is needed in your emergency grab-and-go bag in the event of a hurricane.

4. Your roof  is the place in your home that is most vulnerable to hurricane damage.

5. Boarding up or taping windows will prevent them from being damaged.

Answers. All of the above statements are false.

1. Few policies exclude named storms. The time to check for exclusions is before a hurricane hits. You may need to add a hurricane insurance policy – costs range from $300 to $20,000 depending on the value of your home and the level of risk.

2. Your agent will be able to determine if you can lower the cost of your hurricane insurance by doing some simple things like installing storm shutters or garage door braces.

3. You should include an inventory of the items in your home, a backup drive for the files on your computers, your important papers like insurance documents and deeds and birth certificates (or scanned copies of them on a USB key),

4. Your garage door is the most vulnerable place. Most don’t provide a tight seal, and they open at ground level – perfect for water to get in.

5. Boarding up and taping windows will prevent shards of broken glass from hurting the people inside, and will help to keep the window, although broken, intact, therefore preventing wind and rain from further damaging the interior.

So how did you do? Are you ready for Hurricane Season?

Hot Water Heater Health


What’s the most ignored household appliance? The hot water heater.

It’s one of the biggest uses of energy in your home, accounting for 14% to 18% of most household’s total energy costs — between $400 and $600 per year.

The average hot water heater lasts about 10-12 years, but there are ways to extend its life.  

  • For starters, keep the area around the hot water heater clean.
  • Two or three times a year, empty about 1/4 of the water into a garden hose that leads outside to remove any sediment. This will help increase its efficiency.
  • It’s also not a bad idea to be sure the temperature-pressure relief by discharging it and then looking for leaks.
  • If you have an older unit, you could wrap it in fiberglass to improve efficiency. The hot water pipes leading out of the unit can be wrapped to increase efficiency also. All units should be set no higher than 120 degrees to prevent scalding.
  • Many units have a “Vacation” setting which you can use when you’re away so that the hot water heater won’t keep heating water.

Is it better to repair or replace a faulty hot water heater?

There are some inexpensive (under $300) fixes that might repair your hot water heater. For example, if the pilot light flickers out or if the thermostat fails, they can usually be repaired pretty easily. But if the hot water heater is leaking or is already at the end of its life, a newer model will save you plenty of money in the long run because the newer models are more efficient.

Treat your hot water heater well, and it should give you more than a decade of hot water.

Price Reduced on this beautiful Union home!

 team zuhl and hallmark are proud to present




a price correction for


1937 Arbor Lane, Union


The price has just been reduced to $329,900!!!!

1937 Arbor Lane

This home is absolutely stunning!  



  •  4/5 bedrooms

  • beautiful handcrafted woodwork throughout

  • open floor plan

  • LOTS of storage space.

  • bright kitchen

  • large dining room

  • bright family room with handcrafted entertainment center

  • The second floor can be used as an in-law suite.  It features a kitchen, 2 bedrooms and a large living room.

  • porch, fenced in yard

  • attached garage

  • partially finished basement

  • located on a beautiful dead end street in the Orchard Park section of Union

  • Renovation Loan financing is available

Contact us for more information.

Bad Neighbors!

Messy yard next door?

Loud parties at the neighbor’s?

Smelly garbage coming from next door?

Ferocious snarling dogs?

Turns out that 60% of Americans have a complaint about someone they live near. Bad neighbors can make your life difficult, but that’s not all. Money Magazine reports that a bad neighbor can actually reduce your home’s value by up to 5%.

So what’s a neighbor to do?

You could move somewhere where you won’t have any neighbors.

Or you could learn to live with them.

  • Experts say that stomping next door when you’re angry won’t solve anything. It’s far better to invite the neighbor over to your house, maybe for coffee. This offers two advantages – first, the neighbor will see, from your perspective, what you’re complaining about. Secondly, your neighbor will know that your goal isn’t to punish your neighbor but to seek a way to live peacefully.
  • You should also be aware of any local or State laws that your neighbor is violating. Instead of complaining about the rusted out chassis of a 1945 Ford on the front lawn, you want to know if it’s actually unlawful. Instead of whining about the loud dogs, it pays to know the neighborhood statutes on quiet hours.
  • When you state your case, be sure that your neighbor knows that your goal is to find a solution. If they have dangerous branches hanging over your yard, perhaps you can recommend a landscaper.
  • Worse case scenario – if you and your neighbor can’t reach an accord, you might suggest mediation. This may cost $100 or so, but you’re more likely to reach a solution than if you hired a lawyer.

How have you solved your bad neighbor problems?

How much more are you paying for a house this year?

Picture this.

August, 2012. You found your perfect home. It’s got everything you want, you’re pre-approved for the price, and you love it.


But you’re scared. You’ve heard that interest rates and home prices are at an all-time low, and you think they might still go lower. So you pass on the dream home.

Fast forward to August 2013. Another perfect home. Everything you want, pre-approved for the price, you love it.


How much more are you going to pay today for the home you could have bought last year? Ignoring the fact that home prices have gone up over the past year, we still have to figure out how the change in mortgage rates have affected your buying power.

In August of 2012, a 30 year fixed rate mortgage cost 2.74%. For a $300,000 loan, that’s a principal and interest payment of $1223.14 and a total payment over the life of the loan of $440,330.40.

Now it’s August 2013, a 30 year fixed rate mortgage costs 4.58%. A $300,000 loan results in a principal and interest payment of $1534.35 and a total payment of $552,366.00 over the life of the loan.

No one knows what the mortgage rates will be. But imagine what you would have done with the extra $110,000 you would have saved if you had bought the home last year.

Analyzing School Ratings

How’s your school doing?

Among other factors, home values are directly linked to schools. Great schools bring up the prices of homes, and bad schools bring down the prices.

If you haven’t seen the news, this year’s School Ratings by Inside New Jersey has been published. Inside New Jersey is not the only school rating system but it is the first to publish their results this year.

Inside New Jersey used 4 years of data to evaluate schools. The criteria they used were the HSPA (High School Proficiency Assessment) and SAT (Scholastic Aptitude Test) results. Each school was given a letter grade – A, B, C or D. They didn’t score schools the way you would predict – in other words, a score of “A” isn’t the best. A score of A means, according to  Inside New Jersey, “above average score, below average growth,” whereas a B means “above average score, above average growth.” A C means “below average score, below average growth” and a D means “below average score, above average growth.”

Here are the scores:

School Town SAT 08 score 12 score Pct Change Grade
Union Cty. Magnet Hs Scotch Plains 1940 396.8 427.8 7.80% B
Academy For Information Technology Scotch Plains 1763 358.9 397.6 10.80% B
Westfield High School Westfuekd 1741 358.7 377.9 5.30% B
Summit Senior H.S. Summit 1713 351.5 369.9 5.20% B
New Providence H.S. New Providence 1742 368.7 368.4 -0.10% A
Governor Livingston H.S. Berkeley Heights 1667 351.3 360 2.50% A
Scotch Plains-Fanwood H.S Scotch Plains 1591 337 354.7 5.20% B
Cranford Senior H.S. Cranford 1606 343.2 353 2.90% A
Union Cty. Vo-Tech Hs Scotch Plains 1510 319.8 347.1 8.50% B
Jonathan Dayton Springfield 1535 320.6 331.1 3.20% A
Arthur L. Johnson Clark 1497 318.3 325.7 2.30% A
Roselle Park High School Roselle Park 1396 285.3 317.5 11.30% B
David Brearley Hs Kenilworth 1398 297.5 299.1 0.60% D
Rahway H.S. Rahway 1291 248.8 277.2 11.40% C
Union Sr High Union 1358 269.9 277 2.60% D
Linden H.S. Linden 1268 243.6 261.3 7.30% C
Hillside H.S. Hillside 1232 227.2 246.2 8.40% C
Abraham Clark H.S. Roselle 1188 220.7 232.5 5.30% C

When these scores are correlated to home values, the average value of a home in an A school district is $519,660. The average value of a home in a B district is $482,271. The average home in a C school district is valued at $280,825 and the average home in a D school district is valued at $361,800.

For more information on schools in Union County, click here. For more information on home values, click here.

How to Sell Your Home!

In many parts of Union County, we’re experiencing a weak seller’s market or a diminishing buyer’s market. If you want to get in on the summer market, here are some things you need to know before you list your home:Image

  1. Make repairs before you list your home! Things like leaky roofs, dead light bulbs, and broken windows,  will make it harder for potential buyers to see your home’s attributes. Take care of them before you list your home.
  2. Make home improvements that will increase the value of your home. If your budget and time frame allow, making these repairs now will help get your home sold quicker and for a higher price.
  3. Educate yourself about the home selling process. Here is a link to a free video called “Preparing your home to sell.”
  4. Interview real estate agents. Most sellers hire the first agent they interview, while others continue looking. Be sure to choose an agent who shows you a vibrant marketing plan that you trust.
  5. Research market conditions in your neighborhood so that you can make an intelligent decision about pricing your home.  We’ve linked some local market reports below to help you get started.

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