ChathamChatham TwpCondoCondominiumMadison LivingMorris CountyMorris TwpMorristownTownhouse February 7, 2021

TOWNHOUSE VS. CONDO: WHICH SHOULD YOU BUY?

Whether it’s your first time buying or you just want to purchase something smaller, townhouses and condos are both great options. Check out the differences between the two to help aid you in your search!

Condominiums

Condominiums are similar to apartments in that you purchase an individual unit inside of a larger building, but not the property it sits on. This generally includes access to the building’s amenities, such as the clubhouse, pool, and gym. However, condo owners are not responsible for the upkeep and repair of these common areas. Because of the number of shared spaces, living in a condo often allows for meeting new people and building a strong sense of community. There is a fairly similar vetting process for loan approval as for a full-sized home; however, the lender will also look at the health of the condo association.

Townhouses

Those who purchase a townhome are generally purchasing the complete unit, both inside and out, including the land it sits on. This might also include the driveway, yard, or roof. Traditionally, these units are two- or three-stories tall and may also include common areas like pools and parks. Townhome owners pay a fee to a homeowners association every month and the loan process is the same as buying a full-sized home.

Which is the best choice?

Both townhomes and condos offer less maintenance than a traditional home and generally offer great shared areas. Your decision ultimately comes down to you and your family’s needs and wants. Things you’ll want to take into consideration include location, lifestyle, family growth, and price.

Morris County December 20, 2020

ORGANIC FOOD ON A BUDGET

Organic food usually tastes better and is better for you, but it can also be very expensive compared to non-organic products. Organic food can cost nearly 50 percent more, thanks to the extra labor required to produce it and consumers’ demand exceeding supply.

So how do you get tasty organic food without spending a ton of extra money? Follow these tips to get more bang for your buck.

Shop at farmers’ markets: You can get fresh organic produce for far less at a farmers’ market than you’d pay at the grocery store. It’ll taste just as good, and you’re getting your food straight from the source.

Choose seasonal produce: Out-of-season produce usually has to be imported, and that can really drive up the price. Focus your meals on in-season fruits and vegetables so that you don’t end up paying $6.00 for a pound of organic asparagus.

Shop more frequently, and plan your meals around bulk sales: The trick here is to only buy what’s needed for your meals, and to only plan for a week of meals at most. That way you’re less likely to throw food away, because you can use leftover produce for more meals before it goes bad.

Grow your own: A home vegetable garden will provide some extremely cheap organic produce, and gardening can also be a fun and rewarding hobby.

Morris County December 14, 2020

TOP TIPS FOR HOUSE HUNTING ONLINE

Hunting for a new home online is a great place to start your search, but it should not be your end all be all. Good listing agents are excellent at highlighting the best features of the home, but keep in mind there may be more than meets the eye. To make the most of your time and efforts and gather a well-rounded picture of home listings online, keep the following three things in mind.

  1. Stay up to date. When you start your search, make sure you find a site that pulls up-to-date listings directly from the multiple listing service (MLS) where real estate agents actively post their most current homes for sale. Many online resources update less often or fail to remove listings that are off the market, making it more difficult to sort through the clutter.
  2. Pictures can be deceiving. Real estate photographers are experts at showing a home in the best possible light. Many use tools and strategies to boost appeal, such as a fisheye lens to make areas look larger and creative editing to make colors and textures really pop. But, often listings will not contain photos of unappealing parts of the home, like small closets or outdated bathrooms.
  3. See it to believe it. Once you find what appears to be your dream home online, call up your real estate agent and schedule a showing. You want to take the opportunity to vet the home in person and explore every part of it before beginning the offer process. Your real estate agent will help you cover all your bases and will ask questions you may not have thought of.
Morris CountyUncategorized December 3, 2020

WHICH DOWN PAYMENT STRATEGY IS RIGHT FOR YOU?

Down Payment StrategyYou’ve most likely heard the rule: Save for a 20-percent down payment before you buy a home. The logic behind saving 20 percent is solid, as it shows that you have the financial discipline and stability to save for a long-term goal. It also helps you get favorable rates from lenders.

But there can actually be financial benefits to putting down a small down payment—as low as three percent—rather than parting with so much cash upfront, even if you have the money available.

THE DOWNSIDE

The downsides of a small down payment are pretty well known. You’ll have to pay Private Mortgage Insurance for years, and the lower your down payment, the more you’ll pay. You’ll also be offered a lesser loan amount than borrowers who have a 20-percent down payment, which will eliminate some homes from your search.

THE UPSIDE

The national average for home appreciation is about five percent. The appreciation is independent from your home payment, so whether you put down 20 percent or three percent, the increase in equity is the same. If you’re looking at your home as an investment, putting down a smaller amount can lead to a higher return on investment, while also leaving more of your savings free for home repairs, upgrades, or other investment opportunities.

THE HAPPY MEDIUM

Of course, your home payment options aren’t binary. Most borrowers can find some common ground between the security of a traditional 20 percent and an investment-focused, small down payment. Your trusted real estate professional can provide some answers as you explore your financing options.

ChathamChatham TwpClosing CostFinancingHome DecorMadison LivingMorris CountyMorris TwpMorristown November 30, 2020

How You Can Finance Your Home Renovation

Outdated kitchen. Overrun backyard. Unusable basement space. If you have a home renovation project on the mind, the first thing you have to consider is how you are going to finance it. Here are the most common options to make your dreams become a reality.

Cash. Paying in cash is the most straightforward financing option, just save until you have enough money to cover the expenses. This will help eliminate spending outside your budget; however, it can also extend your timeline.

Mortgage Refinance. If you’ve been making payments on your home for a few years and your interest rate is higher than current market rates, you may be eligible for a mortgage refinance, reducing your payments and freeing up some money.

Cash-Out Refinance. You can tap into your home equity and borrow up to 80 percent of your home’s value to pay off your current mortgage plus take out more cash to cover the renovations. This option is encouraged only when you’re making improvements that will increase the value of your home, as it can add a lot of interest and fees.

Home Equity. Getting a home equity line of credit allows you to borrow money against the value of your home. You receive usually up to 80 percent of your home’s value, minus the amount of your loan.

Retirement Funds. Homeowners can consider pulling money from a 401K or IRA account, even though they aren’t specifically meant to cover a home renovation. This option might incur additional penalties or tax payments, but may be worth it when making improvements that will benefit them financially in the long run.

ChathamChatham TwpMadison LivingMorris CountyMorris TwpMorristownUncategorized November 2, 2020

THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN HOME WARRANTY & HOME INSURANCE

When purchasing a new home, it’s important to do in-depth research on all facets of the homebuying process. One thing you’ll need to understand is how to best protect yourself and your investment if anything were to go wrong. Check out the information on home insurance versus home warranty below to educate yourself on your options.

Home Insurance

Homeowners insurance pays for any accidental damages and loss that are caused by fire, lightning strikes, windstorms, and hail, however, damage from earthquakes and floods is typically not covered. It also covers the replacement of personal property in case of theft or damage and liability if a person were to get injured in your home or on your property. According to American Home Shield, the average annual cost of a homeowner’s insurance policy ranges between $300 and $1,000, and the bank usually asks you to obtain a policy before the mortgage is issued. Make sure to keep in mind that each type of coverage in the policy is subject to a limit and, in most cases, you will have to pay a deductible.

Home Warranty

A home warranty is designed to cover the cost of repairs and replacements of larger appliances and crucial systems in your home that may fail or break due to age and wear and tear. This includes but isn’t limited to HVAC, electrical, or plumbing components, kitchen appliances, and your washer and dryer. With a home warranty, you are required to pay premiums year-round, even if you do not use it, and it won’t cover damages if appliances were not maintained properly or if the damage is from a fire or other disaster.

ChathamChatham TwpMadison LivingMorris CountyMorris TwpMorristown October 19, 2020

TIPS FOR STORING WINE AT HOME

If you are a big wine connoisseur or just saving a few bottles to crack open on special occasions, it’s important to understand how best to store them safely until you’re ready to partake. Follow the guidelines below!

Temperature

To ensure each wine bottle maintains the proper flavor and aroma, storing it at the correct temperature is essential. Regardless if it is red, white, or sparkling, storing your bottles at 53°F to 57°F is most ideal. Keeping your bottles in a room where the temperature is much warmer than that may cause the flavor to become flat. Keep your wine in the dark and away from direct UV rays as much as you can to protect the wine’s flavor.

Moisture

Controlling the humidity in the room is important if you plan to store bottles for more than a couple of years. The ideal humidity for storage is between 50 to 75 percent and anything below that could cause the corks to dry out, letting air seep into the bottle.

Positioning

Generally, it is advised to store wine bottles on their sides. This allows the wine to stay up against the cork which should aid in keeping it from drying out. However, if you don’t plan to store the wine for long or if the bottle has a screw top or plastic cork, this is not required for safe storage.

Timing

Not all wine is designed to have a long shelf life or be aged. Make sure you know what the winemaker’s intention was for that particular bottle. It is always better to open it a little early and enjoy it!

ChathamChatham TwpMadison LivingMorris CountyMorris TwpMorristown October 13, 2020

MUST-HAVE TOOLS FOR HOMEOWNERS

When you own your home, things are going to break and, unless you want to spend your money on visits from a neighborhood handyman, you’re going to need to fix them yourself. Luckily, you don’t need an arsenal of tools to handle most home maintenance fixes. These five tools will cover most of your basic projects.

  1. Cordless drill. A cordless drill is a must-have for installing cabinets, drawer pulls, hinges, picture frames, shelves and hooks, and more. Whether it’s for do-it-yourself projects or repairs, you’ll use your cordless drill just about every month.
  2. Drain cleaners. Shower and bathroom sink drains are susceptible to clogs because of the daily buildup of hair and whisker clippings. You can use chemical clog removers like Drano, but they’re expensive and the lingering chemical scent is unpleasant. Instead, buy some plastic drain cleaners that can reach into the drain to pull out the clog of hair and gunk. You can purchase them on Amazon or at a local hardware store for a low price.
  3. Shop-vac. No matter how careful you are, spills and accidents will happen and there are some tasks that just can’t be handled with paper towels or a standard vacuum, like pet messes or broken glass.
  4. Loppers. Even the minimum amount of care for your landscaping will require some loppers to remove damaged branches, vines, thick weeds, and any other unruly plants in your yard.
  5. Flashlight. You’re going to want something a little more powerful than your iPhone flashlight when you’re in the crawlspace!
ChathamChatham TwpClosing CostFinancingMadison LivingMorris CountyMorris TwpMorristown October 7, 2020

IS REFINANCING A SCARY?…. NOT FOR YOU!

“Refinancing” is a scary word for many people, but that shouldn’t be the case for you. For many home

owners, refinancing can not only lower your monthly payments and help with your monthly budget, but it can save you thousands of dollars in the long run.

YOU’RE NOT TOO LATE.

For years now, we’ve been hearing that interest rates will be on the rise, and although there have been some small increases, you’re still in a great position to drastically lower your interest rate. The general rule is if your mortgage interest rate is more than one percent above the current market rate, you should consider refinancing.

IT’S NOT TOO TIME CONSUMING.

Don’t brush

 

off refinancing just because it seems like a long and daunting process. An informational call with a lender to see how rates compare will only take a few minutes. There are also some programs for streamlining the application process. And besides, isn’t the amount of money you could save worth the time and effort?

ARMS CAN BE REFINANCED, TOO.

Seeing your Adjustable Rate Mortgage (ARM) increase after the introductory period can be incredibly stressful and place a squeeze on your budget. Many people assume they’re stuck, but ARMs can be refinanced, just like fixed-rate mortgages. You can even switch to a shorter-termfixed-rate mortgage, such as 15 or 23 years. The longer you’re planning to stay in the home, the more sense it makes to look into refinancing.

Morris CountyMorris TwpMorristown October 5, 2020

FINDING THE RIGHT MATTRESS

You’ve got more options than ever when mattress shopping these days with no shortage of brick-and-mortar and online-only retailers to choose from. Here are the factors you should consider when you’re shopping for a perfect night’s sleep.

  1. Mattress construction: The most popular mattress types are innerspring mattresses, memory foam mattresses, and adjustable air mattresses. Each has pros and cons when it comes to durability and comfort customization.
  2. Firmness: Mattress firmness plays a huge role in the quality of your sleep. Mattresses that are too firm or too soft can cause aches and pains, so it‘s recommended that you test a mattress for 10- to 15 minutes in-store before making a purchase.
  3. Sleeping position: Your mattress should match your sleeping style (side, back, face-down, etc.). You want a mattress that keeps your spine in proper alignment. For example, some mattresses are better for side sleepers, while others are better for back sleepers.
  4. Size: It’s not quite as simple as choosing between a king and a queen mattress. You should also consider your height, as some mattresses are a better fit for shorter people while tall people will want a longer mattress so their limbs aren’t hanging over the edge of the bed.
  5. Stability: For couples, you should consider how the mattress reacts when one person moves, so the other person’s sleep isn’t disturbed in the middle of the night.