Flood Zone? Flooding your home? In can happen!

When you’re buying a property, it is important to know if it’s in a Flood Zone! Why? Because, if it is, it can require costly flood insurance and negatively affect your ability to re-sell it!  Note:  This is something the listing broker (if there is one) should know and disclose. The listing broker may not know, however it is incumbent on you to ask…and do your “due diligence” to find out.  We learned this lesson the hard way once….at it could have cost us dearly!

But first, understand that FEMA has mapped out most of the US with regard to flood zones.  Using GPS and other very modern tools, they charted out the topography of the land as it relates to the various bodies of water, streams and rivers.  From their calculations, including weather data and history, they have created maps with grids on them covering every possible address.  It is rather complicated to explain, but suffice it to say that your property will fall into a particular zone with a certain flood “rating”.  From which you can determine what your flood zone status.

The red pointer in the following screen shot below shows our house on the FEMA maps. We simply went on the FEMA site and typed in our address. From there you get the “map number” and take it from there. (See hyper links below on how to look up the address you’re researching).FloodOutlook_Spring2017_620

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We are house “flippers” and once early on, as relative new-comers, we bought a house, completely unaware that it was partially located on the edge of a “100 year storm flood” zone.  It was several blocks away from a local creek, which we would never have considered a flood threat.  Yet, if we’d done our research we would have discovered that the FEMA map showed that once every 100 years the basement of this house could flood potentially. According to the data, the flood surge of this type of catastrophic flooding would only reach (& potentially fill) the basement of our house!

Flooded Basement

 

This means that if a flood occurred, this house would possibly have its furnace, water heater, washer & dryer (all presently located in the basement) and any wall and floor finishes ruined. Although certainly not a pleasant prospect, it wouldn’t be catastrophic, and would only require clean-up and the replacement of these fixtures and appliances.

We were lucky!  The house’s location required “flood insurance” of only a nominal amount, and our buyers were OK with that!  Whew! Other houses, located closer to that stream, however, had a worse flood rating because more of the structure of those homes could be far more adversely affected by flooding (possibly flooding first floors or even more, again depending on the home’s elevation, etc.   As a result, the flood insurance rates are much higher.  When that happens, the value of the house declines.

Illustration of a flooded street with house and car partly underwater, and people travelling in a boat

So, what if you’re considering a house and you want to check out their “flood zone” situation?

The easy way is to check http://www.freeflood.net, which is fairly accurate. If you need, however, to be doubly sure, then you’ll want to go to http://www.fema.gov for a flood map or get flood certification from a title company.

Remember….don’t leave it to luck!  Do your research and be happy…..and dry!  Happy House cartoon

Also, keep in mind that Flood Insurance is only required when you take out a mortgage.  So if you’re buying a home for cash, you may decide to take your chances on a “100 year flood”.  However, most buyers will have a mortgage and the bank will require flood insurance.  So whether you’re ‘flipping’ or ‘holding’…it’s good to know!

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The Benefits of a Great School District When Buying a Home! Consider Scotch Plains, NJ!

There are so many factors to consider when looking for a new home. Location is typically a huge determiner for home buyers.

Another important factor to consider is the strength of the school district within the area in which you want to live. There are so many benefits for a homeowner in a great school district, even if you do not have children!  Scotch Plains schools are ranked highly in national and New Jersey surveys!

IMG_5703hdrProtection from the Market’s Ups and Downs 

Choosing to purchasing a home in a good school district is important because these homes tend to retain their value even during difficult economic times, resulting in downturns in the residential real estate market. This makes sense because of the fact that parents will always try to buy a home in a high-ranking school district regardless of the real estate market trends! Purchasing a home is a big decision, so knowing your investment will hold its value is important.

 

 

451A1165Faster Resale

Houses in strong school districts tend to sell faster than a lower-quality school districts. Life changes constantly, and that might mean you may have to move someday. So, even if you are searching for a “forever” home, it is a good idea to consider how your new home’s resale will fare in a future market!

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Thinking of Starting a Family Down the Road

You may not have kids now, but children might be a possibility in your future. So you may need to weigh the decision to spend slightly more purchasing a home in a great school district versus having to spend extra money on a costly private school education (in a district where the school systems are sub par).

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Scotch Plains High School is  ranked 210th out of 500 nationally!

Ranked 76th in New Jersey out of 337 School Districts.  This is comparable to the 73rd position of the highly regarded Montclair school!

If you are in the market for a beautiful home in a great district, check out GreenRose Enterprises latest project in Scotch Plains. Click on the picture below for the video!

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Tips for Staging a House for Sale

Preparing a house for sale is a multi-faceted project. This post will cover tips for staging a house for sale.

Here is a video of an apartment we recently had staged. The apartment sold almost immediately, in large part because it was staged!

The saying “you only get one chance to make a first impression is appropriate here.  In our combined over 45 years of real estate sales experience, one of the most important things a seller must accomplish is to make a great first impression!  That said, how do you do it?  You stage your home…as if you were preparing for a magazine shoot. Or you can hire a professional stager.

How do you Stage?  The golden rule is to “put yourself in their shoes!” Buyers are looking for their new home, and they’re not interested in visiting yours!  You must create a space which lends itself to someone else moving in!

Staging occurs both in occupied homes and empty homes.

Occupied Homes

  • Clean and de-clutter spaces:  Move or completely remove items.  Your plan is to move to another home, right?  When moving day comes, are you going to take all of your “stuff” with you?  No, you’re not!  So get out the trash bags and prepare to make 3 piles:
    • Keeping
    • Donating/Giving Away
    • Trash
  • Look around each room of your house objectively and move things you still use into cabinets, closets, etc. and REMOVE items which really don’t belong.  Organize closets so they’re not overflowing (no clothes hanging on doors please!)
  • The Kitchen:  The most important room in the house is the kitchen.  So make the space as clear and serene as you can.  Tuck away pots and pans, hide prescription bottles, and remove all the personal pictures and magnets from your refrigerator.
  • REMOVE most (if not all) of the personal photos and items which relate only to you and your family.  Buyers will have a harder time relating to their living in the space if you have all your pictures everywhere.
  • Odors?  It happens!  If you have pets, you’ll most likely have pet odors in your home.   Have someone you trust honestly tell you about any detecting odors. Be prepared to eliminate lingering odors. Remove pet fur from couches and other surfaces, wash blankets and bedding, and clean litter boxes several times a day.  Have a professional come in to clean and deodorize carpeting and furniture.

Occupied and Empty Homes

Keep in mind our best advice when it comes to staging:  Staging is the opposite of interior design.  Although similar in many respects, staging is to present a home for someone else…not you.

1. Paint Colors must be colors which are popular, in general. When in doubt, go neutral. Do you like gray? Or pink? Or blue? There are over 1,000 shades of white, which can bring in hints of any color you like, while still remaining neutral. However, we often advise that a room have one (or sometimes two) walls with an accent color. Perhaps a “Verizon” red….or maybe a deep, rich chocolate brown!  Doing this brings drama into a room and can accent and enhance architectural features or home furnishings.   Look at the boring white of the condo before (in the pics below)….and how a fresh color palate brightened and modernized the space!

2. Lighting is key:

  • Natural lighting & views:  Clean all the windows and open all the shades & draperies open.  Let in as much natural light as possible.  And if your lucky enough to have a view…..feature it!
  • Interior lighting: Turn on all lights when showing.  Bring in lighting (and accent lighting) when needed.

3. Furniture & Accessories:  You want your home to feel spacious and livable; serene and          practical.

  • So if you have too much furniture, remember to “remove” some. It’s about making the space look its best!
  • Accessorize: Bring in coffee table books, interesting objects d’art.  Utilize artificial  flower arrangements and large house plants only if they look real!
  • If your home is empty:  bring in the items of furniture that will give buyers the sense that the rooms are large enough, that the home can accommodate their furniture.  You can use your own furniture or you can rent furniture…or you can hire a professional stager!
    • In the video (above) you can see where we put a small breakfast table in a small space which, if l we had left empty, might have appeared too small for one.
    • Also in the video, notice how we put a desk in the entry foyer to show buyers that this condo even had room for a small home office!
  • Professional Staging: The pro will be able to come in and furnish/stage as many rooms as you’d like. Plus, they know what furniture is not only appropriate for the spaces…but the furniture which is popular….the right color…..and will help you sell your home! In our experience, staged homes sell quicker AND for more money than a home that isn’t staged!  Believe us….It’s money very well spent!

Credit here for the staging shown in the video above goes to Sid Pinkerton in NYC at Manhattan Staging. He’s simply the best in the business!

 

living room

Living room: before staging;  This was a large, 585 sq ft studio with a working fireplace.  Boring white color, boring furniture layout  Check out the final staged condo in the video, above.

 

LRFurnished

Living room: before staging (with previous tenant’s furniture).  Ok for rental, but we really changed it when we were ready to sell it!

 

bathroom

Bathroom: before staging;  just adding some towels, plants & a new shower curtain helped dramatically.  Check it out in the video, above.

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Living in Edgewater NJ; Gracious Condo Living With Easy Commute to NYC!

One of the amazing things about Edgewater real estate is the easy commuting to NYC.

Travel By Land… or Sea

Residents of Edgewater have easy and convenient access to direct bus service to New York Port Authority on 42nd Street in the heart of Manhattan. Or…..a quick jitney ride to thEdgewater Ferry Terminal offers commuters spectacular New York Waterway service.
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Edgewater Bus Terminal

Edgewater Livin’

Of all of the Edgewater condos for sale, 18 Massa Lane is truly special! Two penthouses were combined to create one sensational apartment, offering an elegant and sprawling “open concept” living space. This luxury home features two bedrooms (with a possible 3rd conversion), two baths, and 1 half bath – all newly refurbished. 

Stay toasty with not one, but two working fireplaces – one in the Living Room, and one in the Master Suite. The Master Suite also includes a sitting room, a large walk-in closet, and a deluxe bathroom with a steam shower.

The renovated granite kitchen overlooks large living and dining rooms, as well as gorgeous views of the Hudson River and New York City.

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dining room

18 massa ln

Exterior Balcony with Hudson Rivers & NYC views

The condo also comes with indoor parking access + an additional private one-car garage.

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Private Parking

And one of the best things about this space are the very low condo common charges!

FOR PRIVATE SHOWING…..CALL STEVE MORAN @ 917 319 0698

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Best Towns in Northern New Jersey…Best Commuter Towns in NJ? Glen Ridge is Both!

 Are you looking for a home in one of the best neighborhoods in New Jersey? Are you interested in living in one of the best New Jersey commuter towns? Glen Ridge encompasses both of these aspects! This small town is less than a 30 minute drive from Manhattan, a direct train in to Newark, Hoboken, and NY Penn Station, or an easy bus ride direct to the Port Authority Bus Terminal.  

Just a two block walk to either the train station or bus stop!

OPEN HOUSE THIS SUNDAY!  1-4 PM

at 31 HIGHLAND AVENUE, GLEN RIDGE!

or by appointment with Steve Moran (917 319 0698)

 

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Front exterior

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Side exterior

This exquisite 12 room home blends the best of craftsman and tudor style, and features 8 bedrooms and 3.5 bathrooms!

int. hall

Foyer interior

The grand entry way to the home features hand-carved roses in the detailed woodwork and leads to the gracious entertaining rooms, including a parlor, a large formal living room (with wood burning fireplace), as well as the formal dining room and the enormous modern eat-in kitchen.

int. kitchen

Kitchen interior

The kitchen features an over-size stainless steel sub-zero refrigerator, a full gas range, an electric oven, a dishwasher, a large granite island, and an enormous dining area.

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Bathroom interior

The Master Bedroom Bath is en-suite and re-done in period style. It leads to a very large walk-in closet as well as a large home office.

int. living room

UPSTAIRS FAMILY ROOM

The large upstairs family room has windows (& light) on 3 sides & features a wood-burning fireplace.

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Floor plan

 

ext. back

REAR EXTERIOR

The over-sized, fully landscaped lot also features two outdoor areas: A stone patio off the dining room, as well as a large covered porch off the formal living room.

The enormous basement features a large laundry room, home gym, work-bench area, and oodles of storage!  There is a fully-integrated natural gas, whole house generator as well as a separate garage.

Glen Ridge is one of the best places to live in NJ and commute to NYC …

…and 31 Highland is a great example! 

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Investing in Multifamily Housing – Step 1: Figure Out the “Cap Rate”

Renovating a multifamily house can be a fantastic way to build your family’s fortune! Many people dream about “buying and holding” real estate for the income it provides. But before you buy a property to hold for income, you must calculate the property’s “cap rate.  Cap is short for capitalization.  This cap rate is the percentage return the property brings in after the rental income is reduced by the annual expenses, incurred in “running” the property.

The investor decides what “cap rate” he or she is looking for. The cap rate is inversely proportional to the popularity of the area. In very desirable areas, the rate might only be 4% (because costs of real estate are higher) and in lower demand areas,  more transitional areas, the rate should be higher, because the real estate is cheaper. Generally, a cap-rate between 4% and 10% is a good one.  But you have to decide for yourself.  What rate are YOU looking for?

Once you have that cap rate in mind, you apply the following calculation to the numbers involved. You essentially take the annual rent, minus costs. The costs include mortgage payments, if any; real estate taxes; insurance, an allowance for vacancy periods (say 5% of the income) and “maintenance” (things like heating and electric for common areas, etc.

So, hypothetically, the real estate property costs $200,000 & there is no mortgage.

TAKE TOTAL ANNUAL INCOME:  

If the rental income is $3,000 per month, that = $36,000 per year.

SUBTRACT COSTS:

If the mortgage payment is $1,000 per month, that = $12,000 per year.

Taxes: = $5000 per year.

Other costs:  (insurance, utilities, maintenance, etc.) = $7,000 per year .

TOTAL COSTS:  $24,000;

NET INCOME = $12,000

$12,000 (net income) divided by $200,000 (the price of the property) = 6%.

That means the cap rate is 6%.  Excellent!

Let’s take a look at a recent acquisition and how the cap rate works out…

Front

Sears Pl. Clifton, NJ

 

 

This two-family home offers 2 bedrooms in one unit and 3 bedrooms in the other. We calculate the rental income to be $2,500 per month. That equals $30,000 per year;  Taxes are $8,000; insurance will be $3,600 and we’ll subtract $1,500 for a 5% vacancy rate, and we’ll put aside $1,200 per year for a “reserve fund.” Income is $30,000 minus $14,300 = $15,700.  Divide $15,700 by the cost basis in the house of $200,000 and the cap rate for this house is 7.8%!   Excellent!

Front right side

Sears Pl. Clifton, NJ

 7.8% is an excellent cap rate! Should we keep it for income…or sell it…..?  

What’s your opinion?

Front left side

Sears Pl. Clifton, NJ

Stay tuned for our next blog about Investing in Multifamily Housing (Step 2)!

 

 

 

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The Advantages of Bamboo Flooring

Have you ever wondered about the advantages of bamboo flooring?

With its unique versatility, ease of instillation, and cost-efficiency, it’s no wonder designers, contractors, and homeowners alike are choosing bamboo.

GreenRose Fine Homes was honored by This Old House Magazine in their Jan/Feb 2016 issue. Our interior design and renovation was featured in an article, entitled All About Bamboo Flooring.The article provides readers with a comprehensive guide to the advantages of bamboo flooring.

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Moso Bamboo

Eco friendly bamboo flooring: As a giant woody grass, the bamboo variety used for flooring significantly differs from that of a potted plantMoso Bamboo (pictured above) grows to heights of 40 to 80 feet in its first year alone, and thickens to 6 to 8 inches in diameter over the course of five years. 

Durability of bamboo flooring: Bamboo flooring, as a sustainable material, provides a variety of unique design options while generally being durable and cost-effective. As a material almost three times as hard as red oak, the superdense “strand-woven” bamboo is woven, ground, and bound into boards under astonishing pressure, and mimics the look of a traditional hardwood floor. The introduction of “Strand-woven” bamboo into the manufacturing process has drastically enhanced function, as well as diversifying the material’s physical appearance. Joel Hirshberg, President of Green Building Supply – a company that has been selling bamboo floors for over 15 years – says, “Strand-woven has changed bamboo’s reputation from an eco product to a major player, delivering the look and durability of Brazilian hardwoods for two-thirds of the cost.”

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Bamboo Flooring Manufacturing Process, This Old House Magazine

Putting the BAM in bamboo – the material offers a variety of customizable designs that rival the look of favorite hardwood staples such as maple, tigerwood, walnut, and hickory. With so many diverse options, everyone is sure to find something they’ll love!

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Bamboo Flooring Varieties, This Old House Magazine

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GreenRose Fine Homes, Ridgewood Ave home, Glen Ridge, NJ featured in This Old House Magazine, Jan/Feb 2016 Issue

GreenRose’s renovation with bamboo floors featured a simple, yet elegant blonde strand-woven bamboo throughout the first and second floors of this charming century-old home. With its sleek durability, we are sure these gorgeous bamboo floors will last long into the home’s 2nd 100 years!

Read This Old House Magazine’s Jan/Feb 2016 feature here 

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Best Place to Live Near NYC

If you’re looking for the best place to live near NYC in one of the Best New York suburbs, come to Verona, NJ.

Verona to NYC map

Located just 19 miles from NYC, Verona was ranked #1 in Essex County and #3 in New Jersey as “Top Places to Live in New Jersey” by NJ Monthly Magazine!

The NJ TRANSIT train (from Bay Street, Montclair is only 1.9 miles away and the) comfortable train commute takes between 35-45 minutes DIRECTLY to Penn Station, NYC (or the WFC)!  Or, by car, the trip to mid-town is just 29 minutes! This is one of the best towns to commute to NYC!

verona park 1 Verona Parkverona park 5

Verona offers excellent schools, wonderful parks, great restaurants and a terrific life for singles, couples and families….just a quick trip to NYC too!

Montclair, NJ,  immediate neighbor to Verona also offers a complete range of entertainment, many parks, concert venues,  & is widely known for dozens and dozens of restaurants with cuisines

If you’re looking to buy a home in one of the best commuter towns in NJ, come see this spectacular mid-century modern, completely renovated home, offering a contemporary life style in a private setting.

Come to the Open House @ 54 Afterglow Avenue, Verona, NJ , this Sunday, April 3, 2016 from 1 to 4PM!   Situated in the best neighborhood of Verona, this gorgeous contemporary has 4+ BRs, 4.5 new baths, gorgeous open kitchen with enormous island, Family Room, huge deck, and more offered @ $1,095,000.  Or, get in touch with us for a private viewing!

CLICK HERE TO SEE THE COMPLETE VIDEO

Verona House after edit

The only new “mid-century” modern home on the best block in Verona, NJ!

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Walls of glass, with 3 sliders, bring the outdoors inside and access enormous deck with built in gas grill!

Twenty foot ceiling creates large home office overlooking formal living room.

Twenty foot ceiling creates large home office overlooking formal living room.

Verona, NJ is one of the best places to live to commute to NYC!

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Adding Curb Appeal to Ranch Home

How to give curb appeal to a ranch!

This modest exterior was about to undergo a complete transformation!

This modest exterior was about to undergo a complete transformation!

Location!  Location! Location!  The “Afterglow” neighborhood of Verona, New Jersey is home to some of the area’s most beautiful abodes. The quiet winding roads and lush tree-lined avenues welcome warmth, solitude, and tranquility.  Large, beautiful colonials, tudors and stucco estate-like homes grace the area.

Neighboring home

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On top of that, what really convinced us to buy our flip home in this neighborhood of beautiful properties was the fact that, right around the corner, a 30,000 sq. ft. home was being built from the ground, up. Location! Location!

Neighboring home construction

Our house, nestled in amongst the grand traditional Victorian and Colonial homes, was a rather non-traditional mid-century Ranch.  This “ugly duckling” sat on the market for over a year, with no takers.  Not only did it lack curb appeal, but inside the house, the layout made little sense.

Exterior Before

With the GreenRose Design team’s plan in place, and nine months of labor, we finished a unique home that holds its own on Afterglow Avenue.

Voila! A mid-century ranch transformed: What once was a humble house, became a sleek and modern loft-like getaway; a true one-of-a-kind gem in this beautiful Afterglow neighborhood.  This stunning home now has LOTS of curb appeal and holds its own in this beautiful neighborhood!

Verona House after edit

The finished house features a new, raised roof with over-size fixed pane windows, allowing for a new, full height loft room with glass railings overlooking the new 20 ft tall living room.  Additionally,  a large awning over a zen-like stone path, real cedar siding, large working fountain and a modern glass garage door all complete the picture!

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Reglaze vintage “mid-century” tub; modernize and save while doing it!

       This mid-century “tub” was great but the color definitely dated!  What was the craze for pink all about, anyway?

This mid-century "tub" was great but the color definitely dated!

This was a recent project which required complete renovation of the bathrooms. While we took this hallway bathroom “to the studs”, we loved the vintage, mid-century ‘corner tub-shower’ fixture and so the decision was made to re-glaze it, saving it….and budget dollars!

Keep in mind, when you’re planning your bath remodel, it isn’t always necessary to “throw the bath out with the bath.”  And, not having to demolish the old (dispose of the heavy pieces) and either build in a custom glass shower or purchase a new tub,  there was a significant savings too!

The tub was re-glazed and “brand-new” in one day!  At a cost of about $300 we saved a ton of money (not having to demolish and remove and replace it)!

Hall tub glazed copy

And look how beautifully it fits in the brand new bathroom!

Finished bathroom

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