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Articles Tagged "Selling "


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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




How to Negotiate like a Real Estate Pro

Most real estate brokers fall into one of three categories when it comes to negotiations. Some are unaware or nervous. Others are savvy and prepared. And the rest land somewhere in between. To become a confident negotiator with successful outcomes, equip yourself with the following tools.

  • Determine your deal points
    Prioritize which terms are most important to your client and which are less so. Is it price or a specific deadline? Updated appliances? Identify where you would like to be in each priority area—and put that in writing to support meeting those points.

  • Ask about the other side's deal points
    By asking the other side to explain their deal points, you can find ways to work within a framework that will address their concerns, find solutions to their problems, and achieve their goals. You're bound to find bargaining chips that you can give up to get a concession of value.

  • Collect and leverage data
    The person armed with the most amount of information is more likely to win the negotiation. That's why forward-thinking real estate brokers focus on key data to inform an offer, including:
    • Recent sales of comparable homes
    • A property's location
    • Lot size
    • Neighborhood
    • Current market supply and time
    • Taxes
    • Homeowner association fees
    • Seller's point of view

Adding these practical tools to your arsenal can boost your negotiating confidence and support successful outcomes for you, your team, and your clients. At JJ Elek, you'll be a part of a team that sets you up for success. Contact us if you're interested in taking your career to the next level.


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




Recent Home-Selling Rules You Should Break

The pandemic created a seller's dream in the real estate market, but many of the trends have changed. If you're looking to sell and get the best possible outcome, you may want to consider breaking some of the common home-selling rules you may have heard recently.


"Set your price as high as you want"

At the peak of the pandemic, you could easily price your home above market value and still create a bidding war. With more options becoming available in the current market, you're better off setting the right price at the start. Most markets will see at least a 10% decrease in sales price over the next year and a half.


"Sell as is"

Many sellers were able to get multiple offers without much-needed repairs, but post-pandemic, this isn't the case. A recent HarrisX and Realtor.com survey of 449 Americans who sold their home in the past 12 months found that sellers "are giving into buyers' requests on a number of things that might have seemed unthinkable just months ago." Buyers are looking for the home inspection contingency again and requesting repairs pre-sale. In fact, now that the inventory is increasing, you're more likely to get the best offer by also taking the time to stage your home before listing it.

"Your home will sell fast"

Pre-pandemic, the average home took anywhere from three months to a year to sell. Once COVID hit, homes sold within days of listing because of the limited amount on the market. Today, the trend is moving toward more days on market. In fact, recent statistics found the average time on the market for a home is 50 days. That's seven days more than last year, but still 18 days less than the typical time before the pandemic.

"It doesn't matter when you list your home"

During the pandemic, you'd get offers regardless of the season. Now, trends are showing a return to the more traditional selling cycle, with spring and summer getting the most sales.

Despite this gradual shift in buyer behavior, there's no denying that there's still plenty of interest. If you're looking to sell your home, partner with an agent at JJ Elek Realty. We'll help you navigate the market and get the best deal possible.


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




Continued buyer interest boosts Middlesex county real estate markets

Real estate markets in Middlesex county remain strong as continued interest from buyers and low inventories are bolstering prices. Although new listings are up from where they were from a year ago, housing inventories are still not keeping up with buyer demand in markets throughout New Jersey.

Locally, there were 585 new listings in August, and the median sales price for houses in Middlesex county rose to $516,000. Statewide, prices remain about 20% higher than a year ago. Interest from buyers has not cooled despite the increase in mortgage rates, although some buyers have had to adjust their price ranges to quality for home mortgage loans.

Meanwhile, houses continue to sell at a fast pace. Typical transactions are moving quickly and homes in the hottest markets are selling within a few days. 


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




What's Hot and What's Not in Home Design


From dark hardwood flooring to home offices hidden away in closets, we're taking a look at what's hot and what's hot in-home design trends in 2022.


Not hot: The Cloffice

Early on in the pandemic, people started turning their closets into a home office. Coined the "cloffice," these makeshift offices served their purpose at a time when we all needed a quiet place to work. Homeowners are no longer looking for temporary workspaces, and if they are still working remotely, they're now looking for a more permanent, clearly defined home office (with windows!).


Hot: Light-colored flooring

After years of preferring dark hardwood flooring, we're seeing a resurgence in lighter wood plank flooring. One of the hottest trends is a color known as greige, a blend of gray and beige. It can offer a fresh look to bedrooms, living rooms and entryways. Darker colors can overpower a room at times. Lighter tones can make a room look brighter and larger, plus they camouflage dirt and dust much better than hardwood.


Hot: Wallpaper

Wallpaper has been rising in popularity in recent years, but it's made a full comeback for 2022—just not in ways you might expect. You can use wallpaper to create a statement wall, provide a colorful backing for cabinets or line your shelving. Another outside-the-box idea is to use wallpaper on a ceiling to add dimension and excitement to your room.


Hot: Murphy beds
Creative furniture solutions, such as Murphy beds are coming back in a big way. These items are functional, allow us to do more in a small area, and have greater flexibility when designing a space.


Not hot: Minimalism

An uncluttered, sparsely decorated home can feel sad with a lack of personality. As we spend more time at home, they're seeking more meaningful interiors and placing more personal accents on display.


Hot: Plants

If you've always wanted to turn your home into a plant paradise, now's the time to do it. Rather than going the faux plants route, which may have been convenient in the past, this year you should go for the real deal. After all, plants add a little joy to your surroundings.

When it comes down to it, trust your own personal style. The design elements that make you happy are the best ones to choose!

JJ Elek Realty -Trusted for over 50 years! Call Today 732-634-9100.


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.





How the Delta Variant Could Affect the Housing Market

When the COVID-19 pandemic first struck the world, housing experts predicted that stay-at-home orders, closed businesses, and general uneasiness would result in a drop in home prices. Instead, we saw an unexpected hike in prices due to a significant lack of homes for sale.  Buyers became more competitive as sellers became more hesitant to sell.


When vaccines became available and a semblance of normalcy returned, we started to see home prices level out. But then the Delta variant hit. Experts have been debating how the new variant will impact the housing market, so what can we expect?


Declining Mortgage Rates


The housing market may get an even bigger blow caused by a drop in mortgage rates. Since the Delta variant emerged, investors have begun shifting their overseas money into mortgage bonds, which has dropped mortgage rates to as low as 2.37% in some areas. If the pandemic worsens, these rates will drop even lower.


While this may inspire would-be buyers to begin shopping again in larger numbers, the increased transmission of COVID, plus any newly introduced stay-at-home mandates, could decrease the amount of people willing to sell, which would result in a boost to home prices.


No Reason to Panic


It goes without saying that buyers would love for more homes to become available, and for those homes to not be priced over market value, but the Delta variant doesn't appear to be cooperating with that goal. This doesn't mean you should expect things to get worse. In fact, the market may end up showing little to no change. 


Vaccinated individuals may feel comfortable enough to continue home shopping as they have been, even with the rise of the new variant. And since no new stay-at-home orders have been issued, home prices will likely stay where they're at.


Looking to the Future


As it stands, the housing market hasn't changed drastically since the introduction of the Delta variant, but experts agree that more time is needed to determine its overall impact. Until then, it's important to stay informed and to contact a JJ Elk agent if you have any questions about buying or selling a home in the coming months.


The Eviction Moratorium and What It Means

The COVID-19 pandemic has been an unprecedented time for everyone across the world, including landlords and their tenants. Financial hardship, businesses shuttering, and loss of work have contributed to many Americans being unable to pay their rent.


The federal government, as well various states, have begun taking action to limit the impact COVID has had on tenants, including a moratorium on evictions, a halt of late rent fees, and prevention of utility shutdowns due to non-payment.


What is the Current Status of the Moratorium?


On August 3rd, 2021, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued an Agency Order on the current eviction moratorium in place until October 3rd, 2021. Titled Temporary Halt in Residential Evictions in Communities with Substantial or High Levels of Community Transmission of COVID-19 to Prevent the Further Spread of COVID-19, the order protects people from eviction if they're unable to pay their rent and meet the criteria below.


Eviction-Protection Criteria


  • Best efforts used to obtain government assisted housing
  • Inability to pay their rent due to a substantial loss of income
  • Continue effort to make timely partial rent payments
  • Risk of homelessness, if evicted
  • Earnings of no more than $99,000 (or $198,000 if filing jointly)
  • No requirement to report income to the IRS in 2020
  • Received stimulus check related to Section 2201 of the CARES Act, Section 9601 of the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, or any other similar federally authorized payments made to individuals in 2020 and 2021
  • Reside in a county experiencing a substantially high transmission rate of Covid-19, with a website in place from the CDC for citizens to learn the rate of their own county


This order also requires that tenants who meet any of these criteria complete a declaration form. Since US states can put their own moratoriums in place, a tenant may still be protected by their state orders if they fail to meet the federal criteria listed by the CDC.


Contact JJ Elek Realty for More Information


Find out if your state has any tenant protections in place by visiting your state or governor's website. If you live in New Jersey, feel free to reach out to a JJ Elek Realty agent for more information.


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


4 Surprising Factors That Can Boost Home Value

Making your house more energy efficient, adding square footage, and upgrading the landscaping are some of the more well-known ways to increase its worth. There are thousands of data points like these that correlate to sale prices — but there are many others that aren't so obvious.

Here are some of the surprising factors that can affect either the existing value of your home or the price buyers are willing to pay for it.

  1. Proximity to a city

If you own a home in the major metropolitan area, there's a good chance you're sitting on a rapidly appreciating financial asset. While many people may be leaving the city for the suburbs, they still want to be near a major city. According to a recent Zillow analysis, home values in the New York metro area are worth $2.6 trillion.

  1. Proximity to Starbucks and Dunkin'

Between 1997 and 2014, homes within a ¼ mile of a Starbucks saw a 96 percent boost in value, on average, compared to 65 percent for all U.S. homes. Those with a Dunkin' nearby appreciated 80 percent, on average, during the same 17-year period.

  1. Trendy features

HGTV's Chip and Joanna Gaines inspire many homeowners with their identifiable aesthetic seen on their show Fixer Upper. Some of their favorite features like farmhouse sinks and barn doors actually contribute to homes selling faster and for a premium in the real world. According to a recent Zillow analysis of over 2 million homes sold nationwide, listings with "barn door" in the description sold for 13.4 percent more than expected and 57 days faster than comparable homes without the keyword. Listings boasting a "farmhouse sink" led to a nearly 8 percent sales premium.

  1. Blue bathrooms and kitchens

Walls painted in cool neutrals like blue and gray have been shown to convey that a home is well cared for or has other desirable features. A recent paint color analysis by Zillow examined 32,000 photos from sold homes around the country, finding that blue kitchens sold for a $1,809 premium compared to similar homes with white kitchens, and pale-blue to soft periwinkle-blue bathrooms sold for $5,440 more.

If you're in the market to buy or sell a home in New Jersey, JJ Elek can help you dig up useful tidbits like these to help you in the process. Contact us today to learn more.


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.


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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.

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