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Articles Tagged "Homeseller Tips"


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How a Stager Prepares a Home for Market

Getting a home ready to sell in any market can seem daunting to anyone. While it may take some extra motivation and hard work, staging a home can make it a standout property that grabs any buyers' attention.

Here are some examples of how the best home stagers show off a home to nab multiple offers—often above the listing price.

Cue inviting curb appeal

A home stager may refresh a property's exterior by updating the original siding with vinyl, adding new shutters, and replacing outdoor light fixtures. A few weeks before listing, weeding, mulching, and powerwashing the walkways also go a long way.

Depersonalize and neutralize

Buyers want to envision themselves in the home. A stager will remove any personal elements like family photos, children's toys, and collectibles. They may choose neutral palettes, furnishings with clean lines, modern sectionals, new window treatments, cozy-chic accents, and pops of warm colors to brighten the space.


When staging something like a kitchen eat-in area, they will look for ways to simplify and brighten. For example, removing personal wall art and extra objects can help make the space feel larger and more inviting.

Create a cozy bedroom

Bedrooms are key spaces for buyers to connect with. After removing personal items, stagers often repaint the owner's suite and extra bedrooms, and follow up with fresh bedding, colorful pillows, inviting lighting, and modern area rugs that showcase hardwood floors.


Put simply, staging "sets the stage" for potential buyers. By redecorating, rearranging furniture, cleaning, and employing other aesthetic strategies, a professional home stager makes the property look as appealing as possible to get top-dollar from buyers and to secure happy clients.


Contact us for more trick and tips in real estate.


Ready to buy or sell? Whether you are moving across the street or across the country our agents have years of experience and are ready to help.

Call Today!! (732) 634-9100




Home Improvement Projects You Should Not Ignore

When the temperatures drop and the leaves start to fall, it's time to take a good look at your home's plumbing. Preventative measures are key to avoiding damage and pricey repairs. To help you with your maintenance efforts, we've gathered some of the most common plumbing problems that start in the fall season.

Preventable Plumbing Problems

  1. Cluttered gutters
    There's plenty of beauty to be found in the changing leaves but you don't want them to settle into your home's gutters when they fall. From roof damage to foundation issues to cracks, full gutters can lead to costly repairs. Prevent this by putting on some thick gloves, grabbing a ladder and a small shovel, and clearing out the clutter. Follow up with a good rinse of the gutters with a hose and inspect them for damage or cracks.
  2. Clogged cleanouts
    Falling leaves can land in the cleanout—the outdoor pipe that provides access to the plumbing—if the cover or cap is opened or damaged. To prevent a backup of water flow leading to plumbing issues, call in a professional who can perform a camera inspection and drain snaking to ensure there's no obstruction.
  3. Dirty sump pump
    A quick visual inspection can tell you whether or not the sump pump is working—and catching it early is crucial. The pump's filter screen can collect leaves, mud, pebbles, and debris, which can lead to clogs, premature pump shut-off, or even standing water in the basement. To be safe, check it by slowly pouring a bucket of water into the sump pit. If it doesn't automatically start up, it needs maintenance.
  4. Leaks
    If there's a hidden leak in the plumbing system, water can seep into electric wiring and start a fire. Keep an eye out for discolored spots after a rainy day or unexpectedly high water bills. Then call a plumber who can diagnose the problem.

Plumbing issues can happen at any time, but fall and winter are the prime times for pipe damage. Instead of waiting until it's too late, use these tips and stay ahead of it.

Contact us today for more tips for selling your home.


Ready to buy or sell? Whether you are moving across the street or across the country our agents have years of experience and are ready to help.

Call Today!! (732) 634-9100




Here's How to Build Equity in Your New Home

Now that you've invested in a new home, what does it take to increase its market value? Building equity is one the biggest financial benefits of home ownership. Here are some ways you can start building yours today.

Make the most of mortgage payments

A portion of every mortgage payment pays off your loan's principal, with most of it going to interest in the loan's early years. To make the best use of your money, consider the following:

  • Pay faster: Speak with your lender about dividing your monthly mortgage payment into two bi-weekly payments, for a total of 26, thus paying down your mortgage faster and gaining more equity
  • Pay more: If you have a 30-year mortgage, increase your payment either monthly or when you have extra cash from your tax refund, a bonus from work, or an inheritance

  • Refinance: If you have a 30-year mortgage, consider refinancing to a 15-year loan, which has a lower rate

Make smart renovations

Adding the right amenities and making smart improvements can also increase your home's market value, which ultimately means more equity for you. Which projects will bring the best return on your investment? Popular features can vary by area and home type but many of today's buyers typically love updates and enhancements to:

  • Attics
  • Bathrooms
  • Entrances
  • Garage doors
  • Kitchens
  • Siding

Be Mindful of the Market

The realities of a buyer's or seller's market will have an impact on how much return you'll get when you sell. Work with a professional real estate agent and financial professional when the time comes. Contact JJ Elek to learn more.


Ready to buy or sell? Whether you are moving across the street or across the country our agents have years of experience and are ready to help.

Call Today!! (732) 634-9100




Existing Homes versus New Construction: What's Best for You?

In today's red-hot real estate market, more and more people are searching for homes in New Jersey. As you begin your home-buying journey, it's important to know what type of construction suits your unique situation — a resale or newly built home. Let's break down some of the benefits and drawbacks of each.

3 Pros of Buying an Existing Home

  1. Established neighborhood
    For many homebuyers, local amenities, school districts, and a sense of community are key. When you buy an existing home, you're joining a neighborhood with schools, parks, shopping, and commuter routes already in place. In newer communities, many of those amenities have yet to be built.
  2. Lower-priced options
    Existing homes tend to be less expensive than new construction. According to recent estimates, the median sales price of an existing US home in fall of 2021 was $354,000 versus $400,000 for a brand-new home. Add inflation and material shortages into the mix, and these differences are likely to persist into the near future.

3.Architectural details and history
Older homes are more likely to offer aesthetic details that would be difficult and expensive to replicate. Many older properties also have great stories behind them, which you become part of when you move in.

The Drawbacks of Existing Homes

Outdated floor plans
Barring extensive remodeling, you're unlikely to find modern floor plans in existing homes. The kitchens, bedrooms, and living rooms may not match the style you're seeking.

Potential for more repairs and maintenance
Unplanned repairs to roofing, heating systems, and appliances can have you spending money where you didn't expect to.

Energy inefficient
Older houses may be poorly insulated and rely on environmentally unfriendly resources like oil for heat.

3 Pros of Buying New Construction

  1. Modern and customizable floor plans
    If you're buying a new construction that's already complete, there's a good chance the layout will be more modern, with wide-open floor plans. If you're going for a custom-built home, you can work with the contractor to create a layout that works for your life.
  2. Lower maintenance
    With brand-new appliances, roofing, and HVAC systems, newly built homes usually require less maintenance. That means you can better predict monthly costs. Plus, newer homes often come with builder warranties that protect elements of the house for years before you need to address any major repairs.

    3. Smart and safe
    Newer homes often integrate "smart" technology components allowing you to automate internet, cable, speakers, and alarm systems. And new homes often use low- and zero-VOC (volatile organic compound) building materials, improving indoor air quality.

The Drawbacks of New Construction

Higher costs
New construction is typically more expensive than a resale home. For example, the median sale of an existing home in the US jumped to nearly $391,200 in April 2022, while a brand-new home topped $450,600 that same month.

If you're signing up for a home during the construction phase or building a custom home, it could take several months longer to move in compared with an existing property. This will vary by market and builder, so consider budgeting time for potential delays. If the construction is complete, this won't be an issue.

Lackluster landscaping
The area where the earth has been cleared to make way for new construction can feel stark and exposed with a newly constructed home. This is because it takes years for landscaping to grow and bring natural life to the property.

Still Deciding What's Right for You? Let JJ Elek help.

JJ Elek agents have years of experience with existing homes and new construction in the NJ market. We're ready to help you find exactly what you're looking for. Contact us today.


Ready to buy or sell? Whether you are moving across the street or across the country our agents have years of experience and are ready to help.

Call Today!! (732) 634-9100




Home Projects for You and Your Little Helpers

When your children are home more often, and you're looking for ways to keep them safe and busy, why not engage them in some fun projects to do around the house?

There are plenty of creative ways to alleviate the boredom and frustration they may be feeling after spending less time at school. With just a few supplies and some tools you likely have lying around the house, you can keep those little hands busy while giving your house some TLC.

3 DIY Projects for Home Improvement and Kid Enjoyment

  1. Makeover your mailbox

A fun way to brighten up the entrance to your home is to give an older mailbox a makeover. All it takes is a few supplies and extra time to deliver a smile to your child's face–and the mail carrier's!  Here's what you need

  • Protective facemasks
  • Aluminum primer
  • Medium-grit sandpaper
  • Painters tape
  • Metal paint spray paint in a vibrant color

Once you both have your facemasks on, it's time to start. First, sand off any rust and old paint on your mailbox. Then have your child assist you with placing painters tape over the mail flag or any address numbers to protect them from the paint. Spray the box with aluminum primer, allowing it to dry before using the metal spray paint. Consider customizing your mailbox with stencils to create designs, letters, or flowers for some flair.

  1. Create raised garden beds

The gardening trend is hot right now. If you join in, you'll enjoy your own fresh vegetables, herbs, or flowers right outside your house. Raised garden beds are a fairly easy project for children to assist with and these beds are easy to maintain. This project also provides a natural outdoor classroom where you can help your kids learn measurements, basic botany facts, while boosting their physical and mental well-being. To make a 4×4 raised garden bed, all you need are the following:

  • A drill
  • A box of 4-inch wood screws
  • 8 untreated 2x4s that are 4 feet long
  • 4 untreated 12-inch 4×4 corner posts

Construct the rectangular box by attaching two 2x4s to each corner post (stacked vertically). Have your older child hold the boards securely in place as you drill. When you're finished building your structure, kids of all ages can assist you with picking out a sunny spot in the backyard for your raised garden bed and help you pour in the soil and plant flowers or vegetables.

  1. Build a birdhouse

It's nice for birds to have a safe spot to land in your backyard and even nicer for the whole family to watch as they come and go. With this project, you have options. You can construct your birdhouse using a pre-cut birdhouse kit available at most home improvement stores or make the cuts yourself on a 2×6 or even a spare fence post. Older kids can help wood glue or nail the house together while little ones can personalize it with paint.

Get Creative

There are so many ways to keep kids busy and entertained with super-easy DIY projects. Not only do you get to spend quality time with them, but your house can get some sprucing up in the meantime.


Tips & Advice to Downsize Your Home

Moving into a new house can be bittersweet. You may be excited for the change but sad to leave a home so full of memories. Downsizing can be even more of a challenge because a smaller place won't provide the space you need for all your current possessions.

The truth is, spending the time and effort downsizing and decluttering can have a very positive impact on your life. Here's how you start the process successfully (and without feeling like you're letting go of a memory).

Your Downsizing Plan

Whether you're downsizing or simply want to clear out some clutter, it can be a challenge without a plan. Of course you'll want to keep the most meaningful pieces, but holding onto too many things can become a clutter problem in itself. Here are some tips to declutter and downsize, without sacrificing your meaningful belongings.

Make room for minimalism

Downsizing doesn't have to mean getting rid of every single unused item you own. It's perfectly fine to keep some special pieces, within reason. Be a little ruthless by setting some kind of limit while decluttering sentimental items. Does it really have as much meaning or usefulness as you think it does?

Ask yourself why you're saving it

As you dive through boxes and storage, ask yourself why you want to hold onto a particular item. Does it remind you of a special moment? Is it for your kids when they're adults? Is there a sense of obligation making you feel like you have to keep it? We all have different reactions to sentimental items, so be honest about the motivation behind wanting to keep them.

Take photos

Once you've narrowed down your limit of saved items, take photos of things you'd like to remember, but don't necessarily need to keep. Whether it's a kid's trophy or an old costume, this is a simple and meaningful way to preserve the memories associated with them.


Instead of storing sentimental items, find ways to use or repurpose them. For example, if you're downsizing for retirement, instead of buying new generic décor, display memorable pieces that are meaningful to you. Then you can enjoy and appreciate them every day.

Remember, all the effort that goes into downsizing and decluttering ends up giving you more space and freedom to enjoy. Don't be hard on yourself. It's a journey, and even small steps mean you're making progress.

Contact us at JJ Elek for more tips on downsizing your home.


Looking for the Right Real Estate Agent? Stay Local.

Having the right real estate agent by your side can make or break your home buying or selling experience. No one knows the local area and local market like a well-known and established local agent. They will serve as your guide and expert along the journey—and save you an enormous amount of time and stress.

3 Advantages of Hiring a Local Agent

  1. Knowledge of local area and community

    An experienced local agent knows the area inside and out—the best neighborhoods, school districts, attractions, amenities, and more. They're also more likely to be familiar with the average market price for both home selling and buying, and may even have insight on homes not yet listed on the market. Having an insider's tip can be beneficial once you've established your list of non-negotiables.
  2. A great network of other local experts

Local  agents are surrounded by a circle of local experts and influencers in real estate. At JJ Elek Realty, our team works with the most renowned local industry experts to make sure you have access to local home inspectors, contractors, interior designers, service providers, property managers, lending professionals, title and escrow companies, painters, gardeners, plumbers, electricians home warranty companies, and more to provide you with the best service possible.

  1. Availability

If you're buying a new home, a local real estate agent can meet you in-person to show you what's available and schedule the showings for you. If you're selling your home, your agent can stage your home based on the latest market trends and host open houses. Working with a real estate agent in person is much easier than attempting to communicate all the details by phone or email.

Partner with the Local Experts at JJ Elek Realty

Located in the heart of Middlesex County, JJ Elek is proud to call Woodbridge, NJ home. Our office is located in a convenient location right on Main Street. If you'd like to get started buying or selling today, feel free to contact our Woodbridge-based real estate agents—we'd love to help! Contact us today!


Home Cleaning Tips That Can Help You Sell Faster


Selling a home can be difficult, but one of the easiest and most important steps is to make sure your space is spotlessly clean for potential homebuyers that walk through the door. Whether you hire a professional cleaning service or do it yourself, a few simple tasks will help your home look and feel brand new.


Emphasize the entrance

With any home tour, it's important to make a strong first impression. Consider replacing or painting the front door to liven up the outdoor entrance. Clean and polish any door knobs and fixtures. Place seasonal decorations like flowers on either side of the door or choose a wreath.


Declutter, depersonalize, and organize

Your home will look cleaner and bigger when it's not full of so much stuff. Keep only the essentials and put everything else in storage, or donate it. Be sure to remove any personal items like family photos, collectibles, and mementos, which make it more difficult for potential buyers to envision themselves living there. 


Focus on floors

Take the time to steam clean all carpets, mop any vinyl flooring, and use a wood-cleaning product on any hardwood floors. Consider hiring a professional cleaning service for marble or tile.


Freshen up the paint

When was the last time you really looked at your walls? Painting the inside and/or exterior of your home can dramatically improve its appearance and make it feel fresh. Stick to neutral colors such as white, beige, or alabaster to appeal to more people. For the exterior, choose simple paint that matches other homes in the neighborhood.


Clean up the yard

Doing a simple landscaping cleanup can have a major effect on curb appeal. Start by mowing the lawn, weeding the flowerbeds, and pruning the bushes. Consider planting small flowers to add a pop of color.


Deep clean the kitchen and bath

The rooms buyers most closely inspect (and judge) in a house are the kitchen and bathroom. Wipe down or paint the kitchen cupboards, clear everything off the counters, and clean the grout between the backsplash tiles. Deep-clean the tile and grout in the bathrooms, and organize the medicine cabinets (buyers will open them). Make sure everything is sparkling clean. Nobody wants to imagine soaking in a dingy tub. Lastly, make sure no mold is present. Nothing is more off-putting to potential homebuyers than seeing mold in the kitchen or bathroom.


Looking for more tips on cleaning your home before putting it on the market? Reach out to one of our agents at 732-634-9100 for some recommendations.


Should You Stage Your House to Sell It?


When you decide to list your house for sale, you may wonder whether or not to stage it. How much does staging cost? How do you do it right? Will it increase buyer interest? Let's take a closer look at the process.


What is home staging?

Home staging is the art of decorating your house to appeal to potential homebuyers. It allows potential buyers to envision themselves living in your home, which could increase the number of offers and size of the offers you get. Staging has many benefits that can lead to a successful sale without having to pay the many costs of a full redesign. Your best bet is to hire a professional stager who knows the elements of design and what appeals to buyers in your area.


Will staging help your home sell?

According to the International Association of Home Staging Professionals (IAHSP), an investment in home staging is always less than a price reduction or lower starting price. It's a proven, up-front investment to help get the highest rate of return on the sale of a property. In fact, it can net 5-20% more in the sale, according to statistics tracked by IAHSP and National Association of Realtors.


How much does it cost to stage a house?

Home staging costs around $1,500 on average but can range anywhere from $600 to $4,000. The pricing depends on the location, size, and list price of the property, as well as the number of rooms being staged, the type of furniture and decor, the duration of the initial staging agreement, and whether or not the property is vacant. The 2022 Home Staging industry statistics showed that $3,250 is the average investment for staging a vacant property.


Here's a breakdown of the costs you're likely to see:


  • Initial consultation: From $150 to $600 and typically takes about two hours


  • Room-by-room staging: The individual cost of staging a room is about $500 to $600


  • Price per hour: Ranges from $25 to $150


  • Price per project: Most stagers provide an estimate for the project after your design consultation, ranging from $800 to $1,000


  • Furniture rental: For vacant homes or as needed, rentals can cost anywhere from $500 to $600 per room, adding up to $2,000 a month


  • Maintenance projects: Costs for things like light fixtures, refinishing, hiring a cleaning service, or painting will range depending on your needs


Is home staging worth the price?

When it comes to staging your home to sell, the cost of staging is usually worth it. There are plenty of affordable ways to get the jobs done and the experts at JJ Elek realty can help. Contact one of our agents at 732-634-9100 for more information.



How to Sell Your House in 2022

Thinking about selling your home? It can be an overwhelming, with tasks like home inspections, staging, and marketing piling up on your to-do list. To make the process a little less daunting, we've put together a quick guide to selling your house in 2022.

10 Steps to Selling Your Home

  1. Hire a home inspector

While it's the buyer's responsibility to get the home inspected, hiring your own home inspector before negotiations is a more proactive approach. Known as a "pre-listing home inspection," this step will reveal the exact condition of your property, and if you've already addressed repairs, it's less likely that anything new will arise and impact your negotiation.

  1. Make small upgrades

After you've addressed necessary repairs, take the extra step of making small upgrades to help increase your home value. Some ideas include:

  • Enhancing your outdoor space with landscaping
  • Brighten your home by painting your ceilings white, adding mirrors, and adding light sources like recessed lighting
  • Upgrade your kitchen with new appliances or countertops
  1. Declutter

Limit the amount of stuff in your space to help potential buyers be able to envision themselves and their belongings in it. Clear off tabletops, remove personal photos, pack away toys. If you're looking for a quick turnaround, bring in a professional organizer to help get your house in order.

  1. Find a real estate agent

Real estate agents are easy to find, but finding the one for you can be a challenge. Get referrals and read online reviews to narrow down your options. Once you select one, you and your agent should come up with a plan of action with timelines.

  1. Price your home to sell

When thinking about how to price your house:

  • Use online tools to get an idea of what your house is worth
  • Look up homes in your area that were sold within the last few months and are similar in size, location
  • Don't lump your house in with other comps in the area. Factor in your home's unique features
  • Conduct an appraisal

Remember that market conditions and buyer behavior change often, so work with your real estate agent to ensure your home is priced accordingly.

  1. Stage your home
    Whether you work with a professional or take on this task on your own, this list may help you stage your house successfully:
  • Clear the clutter
  • Deep clean your house's interior
  • Add accent pieces like flowers, small plants, or a bowl of fruit in the kitchen
  • Bring in light by removing curtains and open blinds to let in natural light
  • Organize all closets and drawers
  1. Get professional photos taken

Nothing sells a house faster than professional photos, so consider hiring a professional to take some of your home. Aerial photography with a drone can offer a bird's eye view of your property and the surrounding area has become increasingly popular with buyers looking online. You may also want to consider having your home digitally scanned for a 3D online tour.

  1. List your house

Your real estate agent will list your home online on the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) so that it shows up on real estate websites. You should also do some marketing of your own. Spread the word through family and friends. Share your listing on social media and send out emails.

  1. Be prepared to negotiate the sale price
    Your agent will help you navigate the negotiation process when offers are being made. Depending on a variety of circumstances, you may not get the exact price you set, but your agent will ensure you get the best one.
  2. Sign and close
    During the closing process, property ownership is officially transferred from the seller to the buyer through the transfer of the deed and signing of documents. Once you've signed all of the paperwork— congratulations, you've sold your house!

When you're ready to sell your home, partner with an agent at JJ Elek Realty. We offer well-developed, strategic programs that accelerate our clients—both buyers and sellers—to the top of the market.





Choosing the Real Estate Company That's Right For You

When you decide to pursue a career in real estate, it's important to remember that there's no one-size-fits-all real estate company. To find the one that's best for you, consider the following factors.

While technology has given us a great deal of mobility, you'll want to consider how long it will take to commute to your prospective office for meetings, checking mail, and gathering marketing materials.


Would you like the buzz of a larger company or the calm focus of a smaller one? In metropolitan areas, your choice can range from 10-agent companies to hundreds. The larger companies might have more than one office, so office size might be a more important consideration than company size. It's strictly a personal preference.

Brand Reputation

It can be a major selling point to be able to tout your company's local market share when potentially listing a seller's property. However, you'll also a company with brand recognition can mean a lot of competition with people in your office—more so than if you were with a smaller office. You have to weigh the pros and cons and decide what works for you.

Company Culture

After interviewing a prospective manager or broker, think about how they described their company and how they came across. Follow your intuition. Also remember to explore the company's website, call a few agents who work there, and get a sense of what it's like to work with the team.


It's good to have guidance the first few times you evaluate a property, list a sale, and structure and negotiate complex purchase transaction. A company with continuing education courses can help immensely after you obtain your license.

Administrative Support

It's nice to have an office that handles tasks like uploading your listings to MLS and transaction paperwork processing. The accounting department will also be important to you in terms of receiving your commission.

At the end of the day, the right company for you is the one where you feel comfortable, supported, and successful. JJ Elek Realty is that and more for so many agents in New Jersey. Contact us today for more information at 732-634-9100.


Tips to Downsize Your Home

Whether you're a recent empty-nester, eager for a change, want to simplify your life, need to move closer to family, there are plenty of reasons to downsize your home. There are also plenty of ways to do it wrong!

Have no fear. We've seen it all when it comes to the downsizing, and we've created a short checklist to make it a little easier.

Your Downsizing Checklist

  • Start as soon as possible and pace yourself. A general rule of thumb is to start at least three months before you plan to move.

  • Once you start decluttering and combing through items, stick to a strong set of ground rules and options for sorting your items, such as keep, donate, sell, trash, or recycle, and pass it down or memorialize (take a photo).


  • Get rid of things. Our favorite tactic is the one-a-day method. Let go of one item per day or let go of the number of items that corresponds with the date (i.e., giving away 12 items on the 12th of a given month).


  • Focus on one room at a time. Try creating a plan or schedule broken down by room or smaller projects within a room to make sure that you stay on track but don't get overwhelmed.


  • Organize as you go. Leave each space more organized than you found it. This will improve your current day-to-day list, and make packing much easier.


  • Solicit help if needed. Downsizing can be time consuming and overwhelming. If you feel like any step is above your ability or you don't have the time, bring in some help. Put the feelers out for family or friends, or looking for a paid service.


The best tip for downsizing is to know your strengths and weaknesses. If you're a super organizer, maybe you'll just need help moving boxes on moving day. If you have a hard time letting go of items, a professional organizer could be well worth your money.

Whatever your situation, once you've completed the process, you're likely to find it was a great decision financially and mentally.



How to Get Started Selling Your Home


If you're planning on moving, downsizing, or just want to trade in on years of good homeowning for an experience someplace else, you'll have to get ready to sell your home. It's a big task with many complicated steps, but the hardest thing is organize a moving van. The legal stuff? That can be handled by professionals. Here's how.

Hire an Agent

It would be nice if we could just shake hands and take a check for our house, but it's not that simple. Land and property ownership requires much more time and official approval to transfer. That's why you should look for an agent to help you.


A JJ Elek agent can get you on the market and handle all the paperwork. Even if you already know who you're selling it to, they'll speed up the process and get the keys in their hands. Want to get the best price on an open market? An agent is a must. They know all the details and have the connections to help buyers to find your home.


Set the Scene

There's a good chance there are things left to do to the home before it can be sold. An agent can help set a deadline and determine the best time is to sell based on the market trends. Then they can help get the house inspected so it can be approved for future ownership.


There's no need to overspend to prepare a home. If there are problems, fix them simply and conclusively, but don't lavish it with costly upgrades. Spending more won't necessarily raise the price in the end. Clean it up and take photos that show the house from room to room. You can do it yourself, but a professional will know what buyers want to see.


Hit the Market

Once your house is on the market, your agent will receive the requests and run the best ones by you. Make sure your expectations are well tempered. If you try to set the bar too high, buyers will pass it over. No one settles on just one house when they're looking to buy. Once you set a good price, expect it to alter as tours begin. Once that's set, an agent can help arrange the taxes that will be incurred and produce a final profit.


Closing Up

The last step is the closing paperwork to finalize the sale, and you're set if you have an agent to facilitate the process.


If you'd like more information about selling a home in the Woodbridge, NJ, area, we can help. Contact JJ Elek Realty to get started today.


Everything You Need to Know About Closing Costs

If you've ever wondered what closing costs are and who pays them, you're not alone. They're often a mystery to first-time home buyers — and even first-time sellers. Here's a breakdown of what they are and who's responsible for them.

What Are Closing Costs?

Closing costs are fees paid to third parties to help facilitate the sale of a home. The total can range from 2 to 7 percent of a home's purchase price. This means a $250,000 house can expect the amount to run anywhere from $5,000 to $17, 500.

Who Pays the Closing Costs?

While both buyers and sellers pitch in to cover the fee, the majority of the cost is paid by the buyer since many of the fees are associated with the mortgage. Often, you'll see the buyer's share running about 3 to 4 percent compared to the seller's share of 1 to 3 percent.

When Are Closing Costs Paid?

While some of the closing expenses, like the home inspection fee, must be paid upfront before the home is officially sold, the bulk of the closing costs are paid upon the exchange of the keys.

What Fees Can the Home Buyer Expect to Pay?

Buyers should expect to pay the following (among others) as part of closing costs:

  • Home inspection
  • Mortgage loan amount origination, which covers the cost of processing the paperwork
  • Running of credit report and underwriting
  • Appraisal of the home to make sure its value matches the size of the loan

Keep in mind that at least three days prior to closing, the lender is required by federal law to send the buyer a closing disclosure outlining these costs.

What Fees Can the Seller Expect to Pay?

Home sellers typically cover fees associated with:

  • The title insurance company or attorney's office where everyone meets to close on the home
  • Taxes on the home sale
  • Attorney fee (if the seller has one)
  • Title transfer to new owners

A Real Estate Agent Can Help

If you're curious what your closing costs will be, you can find many closing calculators online where you can plug in the numbers yourself. Otherwise, your best bet is to consult a real estate agent, lender, or mortgage broker for a more accurate estimate. Remember, before you close, you'll want to check all documentation to make sure all the costs line up with what you originally quoted. Contact JJ Elek today for more information about closing on a home


Selling Real Estate in 2021? Central Jersey is the Place to Be.

For Central New Jersey, a combination of pandemic-paused homebuyers, record-low mortgage rates, limited inventory and families leaving cities for the suburbs has created the perfect storm.   You're set up for success if you're selling real estate in 2021. Let's explore why.

People are ready to buy again

Not only are housing prices expected to continuously rise, but due to increased demand, sellers should expect a competitive market. In fact, some sellers are seeing up to 30 offers on their property, and buyers are offering up to $130,000 over the asking price!


People will continue to leave New York City for the NJ suburbs

The New York Times found that about 5% of New York City residents and 18% of Manhattanites left the city between March and May of 2020. The pandemic's low mortgage rates and remote learning/work environment have accelerated the movement because families have more flexibility. Add to this concerns about health, safety, and reduced quality of life, and it looks like this migration will continue for the foreseeable future, which is great for home sellers.


Remote work is driving the demand for more space

Digital collaborations and hybrid learning continue to transform our daily routines, prompting home buyers to look for space that can support work and learning from home. More time in and around the home means home offices, multi-purpose living spaces, spacious backyards, and walkable communities will be on top of buyers' lists.

Mortgage rates are enticing buyers
Affordability is the best it's ever been, and all indicators point to another great year for home buyers, despite rising prices. A wide range of buyers can secure 2.5 to 2.9% for a 30-year fixed mortgage.


With so much uncertainty affecting the economy and day-to-day life, it can seem difficult to plan for the future. But thanks to expert forecasts and market patterns, we know to expect a red-hot seller's market in 2021. If you're ready to list your home, JJ Elek is here to help you sell it.


Home Improvement Concept

First-Time Homeowner? Tackle These Improvements First.

Recent low mortgage rates continue to motivate first-time home buyers, but competitive inventory means many will end up purchasing a house that requires repairs.

Where do you start when figuring out your financial planning? Which problems are the most pressing? 

A thorough home inspection is a good start, but many people skip it to make their offer more appealing to sellers in today's competitive market. Fortunately, real estate professionals at JJ Elek can help you look past the shiny new home you just bought and see problematic signs, such as energy inefficiencies, a leaky roof, or cracked pipes.

Home Improvement Checklist for FIrst-Time Buyers

  • Check for leaks. More and more heavy rains and storms are plaguing the East Coast, making stable gutters and downspouts more important than ever. To avoid problems with interior leaks and standing water in the yard, clear your gutters annually or semi-annually. Also consider regradeding your yard if it slants downward toward the house.

  • Make sure the house is well sealed. If you want to avoid warm air from escaping in the winter and cool air in the summer, be sure your home is well sealed. Openings make it easier for bugs and rodents to find their way inside. Use caulk to seal air ducts, around windows, and areas where the walls meet the foundation.

  • Stabilize the foundation. Noticing cracks in the foundation, stains on walls, or bad odors? Without immediate attention, they can spread and cause even more severe problems. An expert can help you waterproof down to the footings or install a sump pump and battery backup system to remove future water.

  • Inspect the roof. Unless your roof is missing some shingles, this topmost layer can become an expensive repair if it's badly damaged or aging. Be sure to ask sellers how old the roof is and how it was constructed.

  • Upgrade lighting. Energy costs tend to increase when you use old incandescent light bulbs. Using LEDs is an easy, affordable lighting update that increases energy efficiency. Also avoid compact fluorescent lights, which take time to warm up and be as bright as a floodlight.

  • Prepare for outages. Electricity outages continue to be a problem, which makes investing in a solar-battery backup system a wise decision. Plus, you get the added benefit of a federal solar tax credit.

  • Maintain wood. Wood flooring, siding, decking, and railings require regular maintenance. Even new boards can rot due to weather and insects. Maintain its integrity by sealing wood well with quality paint and pressure-washing wooden areas to remove mold if present.

  • Care for your trees. Trees are a beautiful addition to a property, but they come with some risks. Larger limbs can come down during storms, insects can feast on wood, and rotting roots can even clog sewers. New homeowners should hire an arborist to examine their property's trees.


It's common for new homeowners to focus on the aesthetics of the property rather than what's invisible or behind the scenes. But if you care for your home from both a lifestyle and economic perspective, you can enjoy a long, happy life in your new home.




Man at real estate agency sitting agent giving house figurine cheerful close-up Young man at real estate agency sitting at table agent giving house figurine to customer smiling cheerful close-up tips real estate for sale stock pictures, royalty-free photos & images

Tips for Selling Homes with Ease in Spring 2021

As the world faces a new normal in 2021, real estate agents face new opportunities and challenges. Make-up buying from the disruption of the pandemic will propel a demand of home purchases, with a healthy share of Millennial and Gen-Z first-time buyers along with trade-up buyers older generations.

How can real estate agents prepare for the surge in consumer spending and availability of homes on the market? Here are some tips to set yourself up for easy sales in spring of 2021.

Focus on Digital Marketing

Many people are still working remotely and practicing social distancing, and that means most potential buyers will be searching for homes online. Capitalize on SEO to showcase listings and attract new clients. Start a blog to share updates about local market conditions and available properties.

Stay Active on Social Media

Home buyers and sellers often check social media to find out more about an agent. Make sure your profiles are professional, approachable, and up to date. Provide consistent updates, with useful information for buyers and sellers, and links to available homes. Be interactive to start building a network of potential clients.

Master Photography

During these times, many sellers are concerned about showing their homes and buyers are reluctant to visit them. Agents who excel at photography can offer quality images and video for virtual tours to be posted on websites and social media. Showcase large properties with aerial photography using a drone, if possible.

Maintain Safety Protocols

Fear is common with the new normal. Agents must know and maintain safe protocols for showing homes and interacting with clients. Have hand sanitizer, masks, and cleaning supplies ready for use at all times. Confident agents who know how to handle all situations make buyers and sellers feel comfortable to take action.


As everyone remains curious about what 2021 will bring, real estate agents have opportunities to connect with clients in a meaningful way. JJ Elek agents are ready for the challenge.



Step-by-Step Guide to Creating a Virtual Home Tour

The COVID-19 economy has drastically increased consumer demand for virtual home tours. Using 360-degree and 3D tour technology, you can deliver an immersive experience to view potential homes while limiting in-person contact.

And it's not as complicated as you might think. This step-by-step guide includes everything from the equipment to the execution needed to set up a successful virtual home tour.

  1. Use the best equipment and technology

Anyone who's doing any volume of home sales should invest in a 360-degree camera. You can capture and turn thousands of square feet into a dynamic home tour in less than 20 minutes. Most models cost between $250 and $500. Whichever 360-degree camera you use, you'll also want to purchase a tripod or monopod, an extra battery, and a battery-charging station. You'll also need to download a smartphone app or invest in a hosting platform to store, edit, and share your photos. There are hundreds of 360-degree tour providers and hosting platforms, including Giraffe360, and EyeSpy360, Immoviewer, Matterport, Ricoh360 Tours, and Box Brownie. Choose one that allows you to upload and store your photos as you take them, and you're ahead of the game.

  1. Organize and set up a photo shoot

Before you take any pictures, plan your shoot, preferably during the daytime.

  • Take your photos just like you would walk through the property, starting with the exterior.
  • Place your camera on a tripod or monopod, and take one photo from the street, one in the front yard, and one in the backyard.
  • Before taking interior shots, open all doors and turn on all lights. Open blinds and curtains unless the view detracts from the shot.
  • Place the tripod in the center of each room at eye height set at eye height, above furniture and countertops.
  • Navigate through the house, taking as many photos as possible to give a sense of the flow — one photo per room, or two or three for larger rooms.
  1. Create the tour from walkthrough to exit

Many editing programs, including Box Brownie and Immoviewer, will put your photos in the right sequence as they upload, as long as you've taken them following the floorplan. If you have the editing skills to stitch the images together yourself, you can use Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop, available as a monthly online subscription.

  1. Publish and market your virtual home tour

Once the images and 3D model have been created, it's time to share it. MLSs, platforms like Realtor.com, and social media are key places to publish your virtual home tour. You can share the link on Facebook, and even embed it in email campaigns and text messages

Moving forward as an agent, it's vital to make sure to make virtual home tours a part of your process. At JJ Elek, we empower our team with cutting-edge technology, education, and 100% administrative support for successful marketing campaigns. This makes all the difference.


Why Working from Home May Impact Buyer Preferences

COVID-19 has profoundly changed the ways we think, interact, shop, and work. We used to have in-person meetings, go to conventions, and meet for cocktails. Yes, we're socially distant these days, but how much is it affecting real estate? Has buyer desire changed?

With so many businesses rolling out work-from-home policies in 2020, finding the right house matters more than ever. Home buyers are drawn to more spacious homes with effective working spaces, according to recent Zillow research. In fact, for-sale listings in spring 2020 had 10% more focus on home workspaces than the previous spring. The fact is, appealing to work-from-home buyers can boost your home's profile.

Think like a remote worker when selling a home

Right now, remote-workers are getting by with what they have. Some were forced to convert a room into a home office. Others already had a home office space, but want something better now that they're using it more. Some are simply working at the kitchen counter or on their couch. Those on the market for a new home are specifically looking for more room, with dedicated office spaces — and many will consider new geographic locations to get it.

Broaden your advertising scope to attract geographically flexible buyers

The length of a commute isn't much of a factor now. Given their newfound ability to work from practically anywhere, home buyers are ready to migrate away from the expensive cities they previously chose for career reasons. Secondary cities are rebounding more quickly than the downtown markets where larger homes were always much harder to come by.

Highlight usability of space for activities
Homeowners aren't just looking for a room for a home office. The desire to have a home gym, an updated kitchen, laundry rooms, storage, and more space in general – indoor and outdoor – are all key factors motivating buyers to change their home search parameters.

Bottom Line

If you want to get the most bang for your buck, focus on the features that today's home buyers really want to see. The agents at JJ Elek can help you do just that.


Sold HomeSelling a home can be a stressful, complex process—but it doesn't have to be. Whether you need to sell quickly for a new job or you simply don't know where to start, there are a few tactics you can use to increase your home's marketability and decrease your time on the market. And the first step is partnering with JJ Elek Realty.

A JJ Elek Realtor can help you at every stage, from setting a price to marketing the property to closing the sale.

Preparing to Sell Your Home
Assessing your home is important at the beginning of the home-selling process. Problems like chipped paint, dirty walls, unfinished remodeling projects and cluttered garages can leave room for improvement. Our agents can help you make a list of the interior and exterior projects to complete before placing your home on the market.

Determining Property Value

Many factors go into determining the value of a home. The selling price is not cut and dry. The seller can negotiate the price, split closing costs, or offer different allowances, to make the sale of the home complete. A qualified JJ Elek agent can provide a fair market analysis of the homes for sale in your area.

Marketing Your Home to Sell

Working with a JJ Elek agent is the best way to harness some great marketing strategies for both traditional and online promotion of your home. There are a number of different ways that an agent can drive traffic to view your home, including:

  • Multiple Listing Service (MLS)
  • Open Houses
  • Websites
  • Print Advertising
  • HOMES™ Magazines

Selling Your Home

When negotiating the offer and the counter-offer, a professional agent can help you sell your home faster and easier. Is the proposed offer near the asking price? What if several offers are received at the same time? Is the counter-offer fair? This negotiating process can seem very complicated, but if you're backed by the right JJ Elek agent, all of this can be made hassle-free.

Home-Closing Process for Sellers

The home-closing process is always changing. JJ Elek agents keep up with all the best practices to assist with evaluating the buyer's financing availability, successful home inspection completion, and various lender conditions (ex. title search, title insurance, termite inspections, surveys, and appraisals).

Survive the Move with JJ Elek

Moving can be one of the most emotional times in your life. We can help you with all of the questions you may have about the selling process. Contact us today to see how easy and stress-free our experienced agents can make it for you!


Each year, U.S.companies transfer 500,000 - 600,000 employees, and about 60 percent of the moves involve the purchase or sale of a home (and often both). Numbers like these show the demand for real estate agents with relocation expertise to make the move as painless as possible.

If you're relocating out of state for any reason, your real estate agent can help at every stage of the relocation process, from before moving day to settling in. Let's get into some specifics.

Finding a moving company

Agents can take some of the pressure off of a hectic moving schedule by finding a reputable moving service and booking you a great price. Since they often refer clients to movers, there's a good change they can get you a better deal than you'd find on your own.

Need someone to pack and ship your things to you? Have any items that require special care in moving? Real estate agents can provide tons of tips. From getting your hands on moving boxes and optimizing the packing process to advice on disposing toxic or recyclable items, having an expert on your side during this stressful part of relocating helps a lot.

Visas and immigration compliance
If your move is international, your agent or a relocation specialist can help ensure you can legally enter and work in your new home country.

Finding a new home
Whether you're buying or renting, a real estate agent can put you in contact with a vetted real estate agent who is an expert in your new home area. They can also help navigate the closing process if you buy. Some states use a lawyer to close while others don't, and earnest money totals can vary from a few hundred dollars to 10 percent of the purchase price. It's good to have an expert fielding these issues and any questions.

Transferring services
Updating legal information, transferring services to a new home, and switching service providers all happens during different stages of the moving process. An agent will know how and when to update each to avoid stressful moving surprises.

At JJ Elek, we know how stressful relocation can be, so we put extra care into making the process as smooth as possible. If you're relocating to or from New Jersey, contact us today for more information.


As real estate agents pivot to technology for showing homes and properties, anyone selling a home must include a virtual tour as part of their listing. If you don't prepare for your virtual tour far in advance, you could miss out on some big opportunities.

What is a Virtual Tour?

Unlike virtual open houses or showings which are real-time scheduled events, virtual tours are pre-recorded walk-throughs hosted online for anytime viewing. They're often the first impression potential buyers get, so you want to make sure you're putting in your best effort.

But it's more than just showing the highlights of your home. If you expect buyers to show interest or even make an offer based on your virtual tour (it happens!), they need a nitty-gritty, granular look into everything your place has to offer. We've compiled these tips to help you get thinking.

Look the Part

In many ways, prepping for a virtual tour is similar to getting ready for a traditional showing or open house. Deep clean, declutter every room, and depersonalize to help buyers imagine the place as theirs. But with virtual tours in the time of coronavirus, believe it or not, you'll need to take your prep work to another level.

  • Clean surfaces to a sparkling degree: Spend extra time focusing on cleaning techniques that ensure your house look amazing on video. Make stainless steel look like new again. Buff the kitchen countertops. Eliminate foggy or streaky windows.
  • Declutter main areas: Stage your interior with special attention to the kitchen, living room, bedrooms. Any clutter to the naked eye will look worse through the camera lens. Some quick tricks:
    • Kitchen - Stow away countertop appliances, like coffeemakers, toasters, and blenders.
    • Living room - Remove family photos, pare down knick-knacks from shelves, remove a chair or for space.
    • Bedroom - Remove all but essential furniture and furnishings (i.e. bed, dressers, area rugs). Clear off tops of bureaus. Store toys or clutter from kids' rooms
    • Closets – Clear out or stage your closets. A good rule of thumb for every closet is to get rid of or relocate 50 percent of all items for staging purposes.

  • Turn off electronics and wrangle power cords: Turn off all TVs and LED screens that might look distracting on camera. Be sure to tame any cords coming from flatscreens and other entertainment systems.

  • Include demos when possible: Viewers want to know that your sink and shower fixtures are not only good-looking, but high functioning. Demonstrations of quality features will only enhance your video.

  • Clear a path for the walkthrough: Regardless of who's filming your virtual tour, the camera needs to move from room to room as seamlessly as possible. Use these spacing suggestions as a guide:
    • Keep 14-18 inches between sofas and coffee tables
    • Seating should be 30-36 inches apart
    • Keep 12-24 inches of space between the wall and area rugs
    • When in doubt, remove furniture that will cause too much bobbing and weaving to get around
  • Keep legal issues in mind: If you're using a vendor's or third-party's recordings or photographs, be sure to obtain or have the rights necessary to use them.

Now more than ever virtual tours are a key tool in the home-selling arsenal. Since they can be customized to fit your budget, technological skills, and your unique needs, there's no reason not to take advantage of them!

JJ Elek Realty can assist in helping you through this virtual home tour process.


Virtual prices on homes in a neighborhood

If you're trying to buy a home while social distancing, you can take advantage of virtual open houses, 3D tours, and video conferencing with real estate agents. But is that enough for such a valuable investment?

Apparently so. According to a recent survey by the National Association of REALTORS®, 25 percent of agents have had at least one buyer put in a contract on a home without physically seeing the property.

Technology to the Rescue

There's no doubt purchasing or selling a home during the pandemic is more challenging, but it's not impossible. Transactions are still happening with the help of technology.

Obviously, we all still prefer to see a home in person before making a purchase, but for those who can't pump the brakes on this big life event, things like accurate listing data, detailed photos, and virtual and live video tours are there to assist.

Low Mortgage Rates Are a Motivator, Too

Buying a home now also has its advantages from a financial perspective. With mortgage interest rates at an historic low, your monthly housing payments will be lower, too, giving you more control than staying in a rental where costs might go up.

Buyers May Have the Upper Hand

While some home sellers are waiting for better market conditions to list their homes, others don't have that luxury. This gives buyers the upper hand, for at least a short period of time. That said, you don't want to turn the seller off with a lowball offer. Instead, start by playing it safe and offer a modest discount off the asking price.

One positive takeaway in the face of all these uncertainties is that the real estate market was in a good position before the pandemic hit. This should help it recover as life moves toward the new normal.


When social distancing guidelines and the stay at home mandate took effect, many real estate professionals wondered how they'd do their jobs. The good news is, people are still buying—and that means focusing on showing homes in the safest way possible is paramount. Here are some best practices for listing and showing a home in the time of COVID-19.

Show homes remotely
From first look to final walk-through, you can complete your entire transaction remotely. But do you really want to? Although most people still prefer to see a home in person before making a purchase, a recent realtor.com survey found that 24 percent of people would be willing to buy a home sight unseen with virtual and live video tours. So, if you're not quite ready for in-person interactions, you can still get the job done.

Perfect your disinfecting skills
Disinfectant wipes and hand sanitizer have become essential in the time of coronavirus. If you're conducting physical home showings, keep both in your car so you can clean your hands and all frequently touched surfaces. Need some tips on how to disinfect?

  • Use the right cleaning solution. The best cleaners are either a bleach solution or a 70 percent alcohol solution. Or make your own bleach-based cleaner with 5 tablespoons (1/3 cup) of bleach per gallon of water, or 4 teaspoons of bleach per quart of water. No bleach on hand? Use 70 percent rubbing alcohol, which is already diluted.
  • Allow the solution to sit on the surface before wiping it. If using a bleach solution, experts say to leave it on the surface for 10 minutes before wiping it off. Also, be sure to follow the instructions on the container if using disinfecting wipes.

Share the protection
Keeping masks, hand sanitizer, and shoe covers at the door has become normal practice. If you're showing a property in person, be sure to have these items available for use.

Remember, one of the most important elements of a successful real estate transaction is consumer confidence. Going out of your way to make buyers and sellers comfortable during this time will go a long way for all involved.


If you're looking for a way to manage the stress and expense of unexpected home system and appliance breakdowns, a home warranty is your solution.

But what does a home warranty cover? Are there coverage options? How can you purchase one? Let's take a look at how home warranties work, and how they differ from homeowner's insurance.

How Do Home Warranties Work?

Most home appliances and systems suffer wear and tear with age. A home warranty is a service contract that offers financial protection against the resulting repairs or replacements. Homeowner's insurance, on the other hand, covers accidental damage to your home and belongings due to natural disasters or theft.

Who Pays for a Home Warranty?

Either the buyer or seller purchases the home warranty. The seller might purchase the warranty as a marketing tool to provide the buyer with peace of mind. A buyer might purchase one if they don't have an emergency fund to cover unexpected repairs.

What's Covered?

You'll want to confirm with your provider what's covered by your home warranty, but here's a brief list to give you an idea:

Home Systems
AC & Heating
Ceiling fans
Central vacuums
Garbage disposals
Smoke detectors
Water heaters

Garage door openers

How to Buy a Home Warranty

Your real estate agent may recommend some options, but some of the highest-rated companies include Liberty Home Guard, American Home Shield and Select Home Warranty. The purchase usually occurs during the closing process, so the buyer has the coverage from the moment they receive the keys to the new home. Some providers even offer a discount if you purchase a plan within 30 days of closing.

While a home warranty coverage can save you from expensive repair bills, it doesn't mean you're in the clear for everything. Be sure to read your contract thoroughly to understand what's covered and if service fees are incurred when used.


Real estate has long been an industry based on the traditional model of offices on high streets and agents in suits working from a desk. Times have changed. More and more real estate professionals are seeking flexible work environments that can meet their businesses needs and work better for their lifestyles.

Working from home has its advantages—as long as you have a handle on distractions and time management. Check out some of the benefits you can enjoy as a real estate agent working remotely.

Save time and money
Real estate agents save a great deal of time by eliminating their commute, which ultimately makes you more productive. When you work from home, you're also saving money on gas, clothes, food, parking, and in some cases, daycare costs. That's because remote work often allows for additional flexibility in family home environments.

Plenty of technology to help
There are tons of online tools that enable collaboration and communication. Software like Slack lets you communicate in real time with co-workers, clients and partners. In lieu of in-person open houses and home tours, you can hold them virtually. Simply use any online communication platform, such as Zoom, FaceTime or Microsoft Teams to schedule a live online walkthrough of the home. Homebuyers or agents can join and view the video, and even ask questions in real time.

Security from afar
Most real estate agencies will take the time to ensure all staff are set up with a virtual
private network (VPN) to ensure everyone can access and communicate sensitive information completely securely. VPNs are also beneficial to those working in international real estate who may need something to help them get around online censorship or access geo-restricted content online.

Boost your health
When you work from home, you have more control over your work environments and schedules. This can lead to reduced stress, increased happiness and even more time to exercise. Plus, you can limit your exposure to airborne illnesses and occupational hazards.

Now more than ever, it's important to have a home office that nurtures productivity—and profits. At JJ Elek, we set our agents up for success with all the tools and technology needed to thrive. Learn more about what we can do for you.


The first step toward having a successful real estate career is choosing the right broker to work for—and knowing which questions to ask to find them.

From compensation and benefits to working environment and support, the variance between what's offered to employees from one company to the next can be drastic. These questions will help guide you through the process of interviewing multiple firms to help you suss out which is the best personal fit.

What's Your Employee Happiness Index?

This sounds complicated, but it isn't. How happy are the people who work for the agency? Would you want to join a company where many employees felt under appreciated, underpaid, or under constant threat of termination? Of course not. While it's unlikely you'd get a straight answer if you just come out and ask, these key questions can help determine the exact nature of the company's culture: 

How many people work in the office and/or for the organization?
How much time do agents typically spend working from the office?
Are company social gatherings encouraged? How frequent are they?
Would you mind if I speak directly to someone already in this position?
Can you describe the daily office environment?

What Exactly Are You Expecting?

The approach and attitude of every boss is different. It's best to find out in advance what exactly will be expected of you on a daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly basis. 

Can you list the responsibilities for this position?
Does the company have a monthly quota?
Will support like business cards, lock boxes, technology, and advertising be provided, or are they the responsibility of each employee?
Are there must-attend company meetings? Can they be attended remotely by phone or computer?
Does the company provide a centralized Customer Relationship Management (CRM) utility, or is this the responsibility of each agent? If so, is it a requirement to upload personal contacts and leads? 

Let's Discuss Compensation.

While it's not all about the money, we can't deny it's a huge part of any job hunt. It would be foolish to take a position that didn't allow for a high upside earning potential. There are certain standards that can be reasonably expected within the industry, but there are no guarantees, and every organization does things differently. It's important to find out the following specifics.

Does the position provide a base salary or is it commission only?
What is the commission split? Are franchise fees included, if there are any? Is the brokerage's share of the commission split capped annually or is it unlimited?
What benefits are provided? (i.e. healthcare, 401k, paid leave, etc.)
Are there any additional fees related to working with the firm? (i.e. continued education, certification, supplies, desk fees, etc.)
How does the agency market services? Are a certain number of sales leads guaranteed each month?

This is YOUR Interview

Remember, a job interview is as much about you evaluating the company as it is about that company evaluating you. Consider your worth to any agency, speak confidently, and never fear asking questions. If the person interviewing you is unwilling or unable to answer the questions we've provided here or any others you ask, it's a good bet that the organization will be a bad fit. 

When it comes to a satisfying career in real estate, JJ Elek Realty is proud of our long history of supporting agents as they realize their dreams. If you're interested in a career with us, contact us today.



Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, that has affected us all, our office is temporarily closed to ensure the health and safety of our employees and clients.

However, our Realtors are hard at work, doing their jobs remotely, and we are just a phone call away to help with any of your questions or concerns.

In times of uncertainty like this, we will do our very best to be there for all of you who need us.

Our thoughts are with you and your families during this challenging time.



Thinking of selling your home? Getting top dollar and doing so quickly requires a sound strategy. Is it best to price your home lower than everyone else in hopes it will sell fast—and maybe even spark a bidding war? Or should you go high assuming you could always drop the price if no one bites?

Ultimately, it's not you who decides your home's value—it's the buyers. The best plan of action is to put yourself in the buyers' heads, see your home as they do, and price it accordingly. (And it wouldn't hurt to wait until summer when prices experience the largest gains, according to the National Association of Realtors). Here are some other helpful tips.

Don't get emotionally attached
You've spent years creating memories in your home. It's understandable that it may be difficult to make business decisions with that as a backdrop. Try to keep emotions out of the picture. Take advice with an open mind and you'll end up with a more realistic view of your home value. 

Get the property in peak condition

If you're planning to set the price ambitiously, it better be the best-looking property in its price range. Before you list it, make all necessary repairs, give it a deep cleaning, and upgrade carpets, paint, and fixtures. Be sure to give the landscaping a good sprucing as well. After all, it gives the first impression.

Tour competing listings

Be sure to get acquainted with the local competition before you list your home. View all the properties for sale in your market that fall into your price bracket. If you do this several weeks in advance of putting your home on the market, you'll have a good picture of what buyers are dealing with.

Get a comparative market analysis

Even better than touring properties, your agent can gather data on the homes recently sold in your area nearby. These "comparables" or "comps" show you what's happening with nearby homes in your price range.

Be real with your agent

If you feel like your agent is recommending a lower price than you feel is justified, be sure to have a conversation. It's important to understand their reasoning. Some agents are quick to make a commission and move on to the next client. Agents with integrity will balance your needs with theirs and use the best strategies.

Hire an appraiser

You can go one step further than the market analysis and hire an appraiser. This professional will determine the market value of your home for a fee. Perform due diligence and make sure your appraiser has plenty of experience with homes in your neighborhood, market, and price bracket.

Have an open house for family and friends

Before you have an open house for the public, do yourself a favor and present your home to your family and friends. Once you feel it's in shape to be listed, give them a tour and ask their advice on pricing. They're likely to be honest, realistic, and helpful in determining its value.

When it comes to selling your home for the best price, you can't cut corners. Partner with a top real estate agent at JJ Elek, use technology wisely, and stage your home beautifully. It won't be long until your home is sold for a price that just might exceed your expectations.



The country is full of people who sell real estate, but they're not all the best one for your property. Some of them are willing to go the extra mile while others are just looking for a commission. What can you do to make sure you find the best listing agent for your property?  

It all starts with the right questions.

Interview at least three possible listing agents before you make your decision. Here are some questions to help you along the way.

  1. How much can you sell my home for?
    Ask all three agents how much they think your home can sell for. If two of them say $400,000 and the third says $500,000, the latter may be a ploy to get your business (AKA "buying" a listing). The higher bid may scare away potential buyers and cause you to inevitably lower the price.
  1. What is your specialty? 
    If you're a senior looking to sell your home and your agent specializes in younger families with starter homes, they're probably not the best choice for you.
  2. How many clients are you selling homes for at this moment?
    One highly experienced agent may be able to juggle 12 properties, but you're less likely to get personalized attention directly from them as opposed to their assistant. On the other hand, an agent with less experience and no other current clients might be hungry. Use your gut and go with the one who feels right.
  3. What do you expect of me? 
    A good listing agent has expectations of the seller. Maybe they prefer you leave the home when they're showing your home. Or perhaps they have very specific suggestions on how to prepare the home for the market. This is typically a good sign that they think like a buyer.
  4. Do you have references?
    Past and current clients have great insight into the type of listing agent you're dealing with. Ask them up front if they're willing to share some contacts with you, and if they are, be sure to follow up.
  5. What's your fee? 
    If you don't ask agent about the commission, you may not learn about it until the closing, and that's really too late to negotiate anything. Agents have their reasons for not wanting to negotiate commissions and they aren't all tied to financial gains. If you don't ask, you don't really know what you're getting.


You've decided to sell your home and the listing agent is eager to put it on the market. But is it ready to be on the market? The truth is, it's up to you as the homeowner to make a good first impression. From the landscaping to the interior to having a designated place for you and your listing agent to work in, here's a handy checklist to use to help you get ready for an agent to advertise.

  • Research the market: Learn what homes similar to yours are selling for so you can get a better sense of what your home is worth. Although you'll probably make some adjustments as you get closer to your listing date, it doesn't hurt to run the comps early.

  • Assess the property: Understanding the condition of your home will help you match it to comparable properties in your area. It also gives you the opportunity to make necessary repairs before listing. If you're unsure of what needs fixing in your home, get a pre-listing home inspection. It allows you to discover potential issues and address them, instead of the buyer finding them and calling off the deal.

  • Address repairs: Certain property damage, like flooding, may have to be disclosed depending on where you live. It might be worth fixing it now, so you don't have to disclose. Now it also the time to patch up any holes, replace broken hardware, and fix plumbing issues.

  • Build marketing plan: Work with your listing agent to develop ways to spread the word about your house for sale on social networks, in the community, and to family and friends. You'll have great insight to helping with the listing description.

  • Organize paperwork: When it's time to sell, you'll need copies of taxes and utility bills. permits for past renovations, home warranties, land surveys, and more. Gather them together so you don't have to worry about it at the last minute. Knowing the estimated mortgage payoff amount can also help you determine your profit when you sell.
  • Set the listing price: Sit with your agent and run comparisons roughly 30 days before listing. This will help you gauge your home's current market value and set the right listing price.
  • Start staging: It's time to make your home look its best. Declutter, pack up lesser-used items, do a final pass at donating unused items, and move as much as you can to an off-site storage unit. A nearly blank canvas makes staging your home much easier.
  • Paint: About a month before listing for a fresh-looking coat when our home goes on the market. It's best to choose a neutral tone.

  • Add curb appeal: Make the right impression with the exterior. After all, it's the first thing potential buyers see both online photos and in person. It's as easy as adding flowers, cutting the lawn regularly, painting the door, and adding accent lighting.

  • Do a deep clean: Get any carpets professionally cleaned in addition to the windows, screens, bathrooms and kitchen appliances. Also clean regularly the whole time your home is on the market.

  • Hire a photographer: Before your set an appointment, make sure your home is camera-ready. See if your photographer can create a virtual 3D house tour to give your listing an edge.

  • Plan for showings: Consider some logistics like where you'll go during showings, how much notice your listing agent needs, and whether you'll have lockbox tours.

If both you and your listing agent feel your home is ready for the world, you've done your job!


selling a house for the best value!

Selling your home for the most money requires an understanding of local market trends and the best method of selling to meet your goals. The highest offer isn't always the best offer and time constraints don't have to guide your decisions.

Here are five tips to get the most money from the sale of your home.

  1. Know the local market
    Is it currently a buyer's or seller's market? Find out by taking a look at the average days on the market (DOM) for similar homes in your area. If they're selling faster than the average DOM, there's strong demand. You can also check home price appreciation in your market to see how quickly home prices are rising. A sharp increase can mean buyers are paying more. Trends like these will impact how you price your home and negotiate offer contingencies.
  2. Choose the right time to sell
    To get the most money for your house, try to sell when you have enough equity in your home to pay off your current mortgage, and the costs of moving and selling. Most homeowners don't offset these costs until they've been in their home about five years.
  3. Consider minor renovations
    You can add value at minimal cost with some renovating. Look for things that a reasonable buyer would want to repair, including anything that affects the safety, structure and function of the home.
  4. Set the right price
    Most buyers search within a price range. Price your house beyond what a typical person would pay, and your home will be harder to find. Your agent can help you calculate your home value based on information you provide about your house, current market trends and data from recent comparable home sales.
  5. Don't be blinded by the highest offer
    We'd all love to grab the highest offer and run, but the terms of the purchase are just as important. Most offers include contingencies regarding inspections, finances and the home sale. Based on these contingencies, the highest offer may not yield the most money, especially if the closing timeline doesn't match yours.

If you're planning to sell your home, your best bet is to work a renowned real estate company. They'll have experienced agents who've likely seen and dealt with it all, making the process that much easier for you.


buying and selling

In an ideal world, a homeowner would be able to buy a new house, move in, and sell their old home once the dust settles. But most people have to handle both simultaneously. This just adds a whole layer of stress to an already hectic home-buying process.

Not to worry. You can find success with some planning. Here's what you need to know to make sure both processes go as smoothly as possible.

Understand the local market

Develop a thorough understanding of the local market before you put your house on the market or start searching for a new home. Is the market learning toward sellers or buyers? Your strategy depends on whether sellers or buyers have the upper hand.

Keep an open mind

If it's a seller's market, your home may sell quickly. Try to find multiple homes you're interested in so you'll be less likely to find yourself standed if a purchase falls through.

In a buyer's market, your house will be up against a lot of competition. Seek the help of an appraiser to set a reasonable price that pique buyer interest. Remember, if you refuse to come down on your price, your house may stay on the market for up to three more months—and that means triple mortgages.

Schedule everything carefully

There are risks and rewards for buying first or selling first. It's easier to get a mortgage if you sell first, but you may need to find a temporary place to live. Buying first makes moving easier, but it affects your debt-to-income ratio, making it more difficult to qualify for a new mortgage (plus, you'll have two monthly housing payments to deal with).

And let's not forget, you're not the only party in this scenario. For every buyer there's a seller and vice versa. Your master plan may be moving along without a hitch, but others may be hitting roadblocks. Closings come with delays. Buyers struggle to secure mortgages. And home inspectors find issues that need fixing before moving day. Do your best to stick to your plan but be prepared for the unexpected.

Explore financial solutions

Choosing to sell first? You may be able to to remain in the property for 60 to 90 in exchange for a lower selling price or for rent paid to the buyers. This rent-back agreement can give you additional time to house hunt.

If you're buying first, explore ways to limit your financial burden and risk. Solutions include:

  • Bridge loans: If you want to sell your home first, this short-term loan can help with the purchase of your new home. It's given with the understanding that it will be repaid upon the sale of your original house.
  • Contract contingency: As a buyer, you can request the purchase of your new home be contingent on the sale of your old home. If the seller of your soon-to-be home has difficulty attracting interest, this is usually ends up being a good deal for all parties involved.

Don't let fear rule your actions

Time constraints can easily push you toward a poor decision. Don't accept a bid that's lower than what you want just because you're strained by two mortgages. Consider having a preemptive plan like a short-term rental, so you're less likely to compromise.

Selling and buying a house simultaneously is bound to be stressful, but having a plan and an open mind can only help.



When it comes to success in real estate, the basics don't change. Deliver knowledge, value, and honesty and business is sure to follow. It's all about building strong relationships, which keeps clients coming back and referrals coming in. But if you really want to get those listings noticed and up your sales game, you have to go the extra mile.

So, what are today's real estate agents doing to nail the sale? We've compiled some of the top tips from profitable professionals in the industry.

Price it right from the start
Big commission checks are great, but if it takes years and price cuts to get them, is it really worth it? You'll attract more qualified buyers with a right-sized listing price, ensuring a quicker sale and heftier commissions on the whole.

Build a staging inventory
While there's plenty of power in a blank slate, a vacant home can feel cold and "soulless." A little staging goes a long way. Not all sellers will be receptive to this idea at first, but for the most part, homes that spend too much time on the market are often turned around with a little "oomph." Make it easier on yourself by building an inventory of staging pieces. Start by purchasing one item per quarter—perhaps a lamp, some artwork, or a throw rug. Over time, you'll build up a solid inventory of staging items you can use to warm up a home before listing it.

Focus on the front
If a fully staged house isn't an option, put your time and effort into the front of the house. You'll make a great first impression if you spruce up the yard, porch, and exterior paint. Buyers should feel welcome from the moment they pull up to the property.

Be available
In today's thriving market, time is on the line. You're not expected to answer your phone 24/7, but be sure to have a process in place to respond to buyer's agents or the buyers themselves. They're often in a rush to get more information so they won't be outbid by competitors.

Leverage support
Sellers have a lot on their plates. If you're worried that they won't keep up with maintenance or be ready for a showing, you can always bring in reinforcements. Call a landscaper, cleaning service, or staging expert to help—and consider splitting the cost or bartering with the seller. If your own plate is getting full, leverage the latest technology, like a virtual assistant to handle phone calls, answer questions, or schedule showings.

Show and tell
Buyers are always looking for great listing photos, but today they expect a lot more. From 3D tours, to videos and interactive floor plans, the more they can see, the more likely the property will spark their interest. Utilizing this technology will require an initial investment, but it's well worth the payoff you'll see in the long run.

Educate your client
Be honest and set realistic expectations with your clients. Tell them what their home is likely to sell for. Discuss repairs, concessions, and potential negotiations. Encourage them to be flexible with showings. It may be inconvenient for them to hold them on nights or weekends, but that will work for buyers and help the home sell faster. Your knowledge will only benefit them.

Have your disclosures ready
It may seem risky to offer your seller's disclosures upfront, but it can improve the quality of your offers. You'll end up with people who are aware of the home's flaws and are willing to move forward despite them.

Happy home selling!



When you're ready to put your home on the market, one of the first things you'll have to do is have an open house. Hopefully you've listed your home with a real estate agent who can help you prepare, but even if you haven't, you should have a plan. Here are some recommendations to make sure loads of people come to see your house, so you boost the chances of it selling quickly and profitably.

Remember first impressions count
Before you invite potential buyers into your home, they're going to see the outside first. Be sure to spruce up the landscaping, exterior paint, driveways and walkways. Keep cars away from the front so that it's easy to see your house as people drive by.

Set the stage
If you're still living in the house, you'll have to give up some of the "comforts of home" during the open house phase. Remove clutter, clean the carpets, and consider getting rid of any unnecessary furniture pieces. Less is more. If you have any valuables lying around, be sure to put them somewhere for safe keeping. If your house is vacant, you'll need to stage it with furniture and accessories.

Take pictures
Once you're happy with the interior and exterior appearance, take photos. These will serve you well as you begin promoting your open house.

Start spreading the word
Start by sharing your open house dates with friends, family and neighbors. Word of mouth, flyers, and open house signs on the lawn and nearby can do a lot to spark interest. You can even tie balloons on the signs to garner more attention.

Get online
The internet has changed the nature of real estate quite a bit. While you can still advertise in the local paper and put up open house signs, there's a good chance interested buyers are going look for their home online first. In fact, according to 2018 data from the National Association of Realtors, 93 percent of homebuyers use the internet when searching for a home, which makes listing your open house online crucial. This is also where those photos come will into play.

List it everywhere
Your listing agent can add your open house dates to the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) and have it syndicated to other sites like Trulia and Zillow. If you're marketing it on your own, you'll have to enter listings yourself. You can also promote it on Nextdoor.com and any neighborhood email lists that you know of. And of course, social media can be your best friend. Share, share, share every open house date!

Share information
Potential buyers should never leave empty-handed. Have some printed materials ready for them to take away, such as an informational brochure or flyer with photos of your house, competitive analyses of home sales and community statistics.

Go unnoticed
It's best if you're not around during the open house, but if you're handling it yourself, stay in the background. If you're working with an agent, leave it to them to interact with potential buyers.

Listen to feedback
Try to gather names and contact information from everyone who visits and contact them afterward. (Your agent will do this if you have one.) If many people believe the house is overpriced, it probably is. Their opinions matter, especially when they're shared by many others.
Remember that not all agents and sellers agree on what makes an open house successful. You should feel like you're on the same page if you're working with one or feel like you're making progress if you're going it alone.


When you put your house on the market, it's important that it looks its best to entice potential buyers. From the moment someone walks through the front door, they should be able to envision themselves living in the home. This is where home staging comes into play.

Of course, it's never easy to go through the process of selling your home when you're still living there. You have to give up some comfort in order to present a fresh, inviting environment. While it may feel like you're living in a fishbowl, setting the stage for a sale makes all the difference. Here are five tips to get you going.

  1. Don't make it personal.
    The best way to help buyers visualize your home as their own is to create as much of a blank canvas as you can. It should have style and appeal, but there should be no personal touches. Remove family photos, store clothes and clear bathrooms of toothbrushes and makeup. Remove anything overtly political or religious as well.
  2. Focus on the rooms that matter most.
    Some rooms have more influence on the buyer's decision than others. According to the National Association of Realtors, the living room, kitchen and master bathroom have the most impact. Be sure to give the most attention to these rooms when staging your home.
  3. Clear out the clutter.
    When you live in the same home for a number of years, you tend to accumulate "stuff." Now's the time to declutter. Pack up and store anything you don't use on a daily basis. Things like paper piles, pet toys and games take up space. The less clutter you have, the bigger your house will look and the more appealing it will be to buyers. Remember also that visitors will be looking in closets, so pack up any off-season jackets and clothing too.
  4. Get things sparkling clean.
    A squeaky-clean home shows buyers that the property has been well taken care of. Every square inch should gleam, from the floorboards to the ceilings. Consider hiring a professional cleaning service for the first deep clean and then manage the upkeep yourself thereafter.
  5. Use neutrals.
    Bright, bold color can do wonders for your home, but some buyers may find it a turnoff. Consider investing in neutral wall paints, furniture and décor, which can boost the sale price and reduce the time on the market. White, taupe and gray are wise choices.

It doesn't take a lot of money to stage a home, it just takes smart decisions. Your real estate agent can advise you on ways to add value and entice potential buyers who show up for viewings.


We are proud to offer top notch home staging, selling and relocation services for all of our clients, contact us today!

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