Making Your Real Estate Dreams Come True

Archive for September, 2013

PRIDE in selling your home

Once you’ve made the decision to sell your home, there are 5 steps you need to make before you put your home on the market.

  1. Pick – Interview real estate agents. Most sellers hire the first agent they interview, while others continue looking. You want to choose an agent with a vibrant marketing plan that you trust
  2. Repair – Make any necessary repairs in your home before you list it! Things like leaky roofs, dead light bulbs, and broken windows need to be in working condition before you show your home.
  3. Improve – Depending on your time frame and budget, make home improvements that will increase the value of your home. There are some home improvements – like a new front door, for example – that will help to sell your home faster and will increase the price you get for your home.
  4. Declutter – Throw away, or store, anything and everything that you absolutely don’t need. The more stuff in your home, the less likely it will sell. Consider staging your home to eliminate rooms that are confusing (a bedroom being used as an office, for example).
  5. Educate yourself. Here is a link to a free video called“Preparing your home to sell.” It’s filled with information that can help you make decisions about what to do. Research market conditions in your neighborhood so that you can make an intelligent decision about pricing your home.  

When you sell your home, be sure you tell everyone that you sold it with PRIDE!


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Buying a Home? How a Government Shutdown could affect you

Mortgage rates dropped a tiny bit last week, and prospective home buyers are crawling through the woodwork to take advantage of low prices and low rates.

If you don’t have the 20% necessary for a conventional loan, you are probably considering a government backed loan like an FHA.  Under a FHA (Federal Housing Administration) loan, you only need 3.5% of the purchase price as a downpayment and can borrow the remaining 96.5%. You can even get the 3.5% as a gift. FHA secures the loan so lenders love it. Of course, you’re doing this with an approved lender and working with a Realtor that you can trust.

So what happens if the government has a shutdown? First of all, of course, all government employees have a day (or days) off without pay. National Parks and all “non-essential” Federal offices are closed. But how does a shutdown affect the home buyer?

FHA loans must be approved by the Federal Government. If the government shuts down, FHA loan processors will be out on furlough. If your loan is not already approved, the process will be halted until the office reopens.

Selling Your Vacant Home

Listing a vacant home presents challenges. None of these challenges are insurmountable, but homeowners who want to sell a home that is vacant need to be aware of potential problems.

First, your home is vacant and therefore unprotected. We had a vacant listing get broken into this week. The copper pipes were all stolen. You could attract squatters. You could attract rodents or insects or both. Intruders of the human variety can be prevented with a good alarm system. Critter intruders can be prevented by ensuring that the home is spotless – not a crumb to be found – and that all openings are secure.


Secondly, your home is vacant and therefore uncared for. The lawn won’t get done, the weeds won’t get pulled – and there will be no one to care for it. Simple solution is to hire a landscaper to come regularly – once a week is best when your home is on the market.


Thirdly, your home is vacant and therefore devoid of the niceties that make a home inviting and comfortable. Without furniture, buyers have a tough time seeing the home as a place where they’d like to live. Simple solution – hire a stager. You could go whole hog and fully furnish the home – place settings and all – but  even minimal staging – an area rug here or a vase of dried flowers there – can make all the difference in the world. 


When you’re ready to sell your home, even if it’s after you’ve moved out, call us for some personalized help in getting it sold!

Beautiful Union Home for sale!


Team Zuhl and Hallmark Realtors are proud to present


1937 Arbor Lane, Union


This beautifully finished home features an in-law suite, gorgeous hardwood floors, fireplace, large kitchen, and tons of storage.

  • 5 bedrooms
  • 2 full baths, 1 half bath
  • large eat in kitchen
  • second kitchen upstairs
  • large property – 57′ x 145′
  • fenced yard
  • offered for $329,900

Call Wayne at 908-917-4189 to see this home!


Can’t Sell Your Home? Have you thought about burying a statue?

All over the country, people who want to sell their home are seeking help from an unlikely source – Saint Joseph. Many would-be sellers bury a statue of Saint Joseph in their yards with the hope that the Saint’s intercession will bring them offers. Some people say that the position the Saint is buried in makes a difference – he should be upside down and facing the street, say some believers. Others say he should face the home. Or perhaps lie horizontal on its back. Many just put the statue in a flowerpot on the front porch.  Everyone agrees that he shouldn’t be dug up until after closing, but some people stipulate that the statue should be given a place of honor in the new home. Saint Joseph, traditionally the patron saint of home and family, has become the patron saint of real estate.

Even has an article on the practice. Stephen J. Binz wrote a book called Saint Joseph, My Real Estate Agent in which he details many success stories of the buried Saint and depicts the practice as a prayerful ritual.
Saint Joseph was a carpenter and the earthly father of Jesus.  How he became the patron saint of real estate is unclear and several stories exist.Where did this superstition begin?

One story tells that nuns buried a statue of the Saint to help them sell their convent during the Middle Ages. Other stories claim that the nuns were trying to buy land for a new convent and buried the statue on the land they wanted to buy.

Another story claims that the tradition was begun by German carpenters, honoring the carpenter Saint by burying his statue in the homes that they built.

A fourth story says that the practice began in Montreal in the late 1800s when Brother Andre Bessette buried statues on land that he wanted to buy  for a new oratory.

However the story started, one manufacturer of Saint Joseph statues claims that sales of the statue increase dramatically whenever home sales decrease.  Statues of Saint Joseph retail for $4-6 and up.

Beautiful, affordable townhouse in Clark

team zuhl and hallmark realtors are proud to present.....

35 School Street, Clark, NJ


  • This bright open townhouse features lots of updates.
  • In move in condition.
  • Partially finished basement,
  • Walk-in-closet.
  • New HWH.
  • 2 bedrooms, family room, LR/DR, 1 1/2 bath
  • Near shopping, restaurants and very easy access to the Parkway. 
  • Offered by Team Zuhl and Hallmark Realtors for $229,000.
  • Call 908-917-4189 today!

When to convert from oil to gas during a real estate transaction

We have a multi family home listed that is now in the pending file which we call Attorney Review in NJ.  The attorneys are going back and forth over an oil tank issue.   

The home is currently heated by an oil burning furnace which the buyer does not like.  The seller has agreed to have the underground oil tank removed (it’s almost impossible to get a mortgage with a buried tank) and have an above ground tank installed in the basement.  


Here’s where it gets sticky.  The buyer would like to convert to gas heat as it’s more efficient and a bit more “green.”  The problem is that a gas conversion is probably in the range of $5,000 to $15,000.  The seller’s cost to remove the old tank and have a new one installed is about $4,000.  

If the seller has the old tank removed and a new tank installed the buyer can get the property and convert to gas whenever they want.  But the buyer would like the conversion done to coincide with the closing (which is scheduled for a time when heat is needed.)  The buyer and seller agree that doing the conversion at the same time as the tank removal saves money.

Removing the tank before closing and completing the conversion afterward isn’t feasible because there is a tenant occupying the property and the closing is scheduled for November – the beginning of the heating season in NJ.


Which makes more sense?

The seller removes the tank and pays for the conversion and is credited at closing….


The buyer removes the tank and does the conversion after the sale with money held in escrow to pay for the tank removal….



Are there options we haven’t considered?


If the seller does the removal and conversion, what happens if the transaction doesn’t close for some reason?  There is a tenant living in the property, so they can’t be without heat.  

If the buyer does the removal and conversion, they run the possibility of not being approved for their mortgage because of the underground tank.

What is the best solution?

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