Category Archives: Marketing Your Home

Bergen County Home Sales Report 2013

The time has come for some home sellers to raise their prices.  And it’s time for others to lower theirs

I’ve been hearing a lot of chatter out there from realtors, proclaiming how great the market is in the luxury side, and I knew from my research that I wasn’t quite seeing that.  So I decided to check out the numbers once again to see what the real facts are.

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This is what I found for luxury sales:

  • Luxury home sales…$2 million +…is down 22% in 2013
  • It’s really yucky, in that only 14 homes have sold thus far in this price range.  18 homes sold in Bergen County for the same time period in 2012

A 22% sales decline on already anemic sales volume isn’t considered a great market.  In fact it borders on a market condition that sucks.

Here we are soooo close to the hyper active market in Manhattan and the borough’s, yet the Bergen County suburbs is on life support.  We’ll talk about why this is happening in future post, but for now let’s just say that it’s bothersome at best.

As for the market below $2 million…it’s a different world…night and day:

  • For overall homes priced up to $2 million the number of sales have increased by 14%.  That’s a huge number!
  • Homes priced to $499k…home sales increased 9%
  • Homes priced between $500k-$999k…sales increased by 26%
  • For homes priced $$1,999M…home sales increased by 31 %

Tell me that this isn’t great news!!!

So…if your home is for sale in this price …it’s time to raise your price!

Go for it!

For the first time in a long time, sales of homes priced from $500k-999k outsold homes priced below $500k.  But from what I can see, this is due to a lack of inventory of homes for sale below $500k…so people have to gravitate to higher priced homes if they want to live in Bergen County

It’s time for the realtors to see the light and start raising sales prices.

In the past they have used negative sales data as scare tactics to deflate prices, but now they have the ammunition to increase prices.

If raising prices creates less sales, then that’s fine, because higher prices leads to higher values, and higher appraisals….and given the complaint that appraisers are low with their value estimates, this will help to end that practice.

  • dramatic increases in sales volume means there’s more demand
  • more demand means more sales
  • more sales means…the market is improving and people are more confident to make a big purchase
  • Low inventory means more competition, and more competition brings higher price

And best of all…price increases creates confidence in the market.

If prices don’t start increasing then why would anyone want to risk their money with such an investment.  At that point you’d be better off putting tou money into the stock market.


Hey Tenafly and Alpine…The Architectural Digest Home Design Show Is In Full Swing

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If you’re looking to buy, sell, build, design, renovate or decorate a home in Tenafly and Alpine, New Jersey (or anywhere else in Bergen County for that matter), then you have to get yourself over to the Architectural Digest, Home Design Show at Pier 94…55th St at 12th Ave.

The show takes place March 22-24th

This is the place to go to check out all the products and services, that you may very well want to include in your home…and to steal some of the best design ideas that you could ever imagine.

This show is pure Architectural Digest

Check out their web site

Check out the list of exhibitors 

Check out the New York Times Seminars

I’m heading over there now, and I’ll come back with lots of helpful info and photos.

Always providing you with valuable information about our local housing market…building, design and renovation ideas…and sales stats.

It’s everything realtors should be doing but don’t

Northern New Jersey luxury market getting clobbered by NYC luxury sales

Why is New York City having a banner year(s) selling incredibly expensive ultra luxury homes (and everything else for that matter), and Bergen County, New Jersey is having another only soso year…and a another horrible year for the ultra expensive end of the market.

Usually when NYC condo sales and prices skyrocket, and rents increase, buyers start flocking out of the city to the New York suburbs. Bergen County has always reeled in a huge portion of the exodus….but that’s not happening now.

The Iconic New York by Gehry building

Sales of ultra luxury homes in Bergen County are down 47% in 2012, and 2010-2011 wasn’t any better. But sales  of ultra luxury units (trophy properties) in Manhattan have been booming the past several years.

The New York Times reported that Kiefer Sutherland recently sold NYC his townhome for $17+ million, which is just a drop in the bucket compared to all of the trophy sales that have been happening north of $50 million.  Yet in the affluent New Jersey suburbs, the high end of the market is gasping for air.

Even luxury home sales in the Hampton have hit the breaks.

The end effect, is that the NYC housing market is further killing the suburban market…and the effects are painful for the suburbs.  A lack of buyers leaving NYC coupled with an incredible number of rentals in the planning stages, and already under construction will make things  even more painful for areas on the other side of the Hudson River.

All these new rental projects in Jersey City, Hoboken, Edgewater and Fort Lee, and in NYC will have a devastating effect on suburban home sales.

Looking ahead, if the suburbs don’t learn real fast how to compete for buyers, then they’ll start failing.  And it will happen fast:

  • Downtown’s are already failing
  • taxes are rising and home prices aren’t
  • the market above $1 million is hurting
  • Very few single family homes are being built
  • The suburban office market isn’t recovering

These aren’t good signs. And there’s nothing pointing to things getting any better in the future.

More on this later.

Check out the Kiefer Sutherland article…Big Ticket: Sold for $17.5 million

Also check out…New York By Gehry

Cnbc: do mortgage rates affect me?

Article via

How does the fed help my house, my mortgage?…by Diana Olick

For those of you who expected to wake up to a 30-year fixed rate mortgage below 3 percent, you may as well go back to sleep.

Yes, rates moved down, 0.125 percent, according to several sources, but that was not as low as some had predicted. Remember, we hit the low of 3.49 percent in July, but then we jumped back into the mid to high threes. (Read More: Fed Pulls Trigger, to Buy Mortgages in Effort to Lower Rates.)

“Hasn’t everyone learned by now that home sales, have very little to do with low interest rates and low prices?  More homes sold at much higher rates and prices.” 

“Short term, people who are thinking about moving really need to lock in,” says Craig Strent of Maryland-based Apex Home Loans. He is concerned that the strong consumer sentiment number that came in today could cause the Federal Reserve to pull back on its buying in the future. “When this thing turns, it’s going to be fast. Just pulling back a little sends a message,” adds Strent.

But others argue that the housing market is still on such shaky ground that that’s unlikely to happen. Mortgage applications to purchase a home have declined five of the last six months, according to Diane Swonk of Mesirow Financial.

“I think that this will be a trillion dollar commitment from the Fed,” said Swonk on CNBC’s “Squawk on the Street.” “Home values appreciating, that’s something very important in this economy getting more legs and moving forward more rapidly.” (You can watch the interview here.)

So say mortgage rates could dip lower than the latest record, perhaps to around 3.25 percent. How does that help me? Does it boost my home price? (Read More: Will Fed’s Mortgage Buying Juice the Housing Recovery?)

On the one hand, lower mortgage rates give potential buyers more purchasing power. “A 0.125 percent drop in rates adds 1.5 percent to your maximum purchase price (given all the other fees),” according to Dan Green at Waterstone Mortgage. “Assuming a mortgage payment of $1500, that’s the difference between $404,800 and $411,000-ish.” So that is how much more house you can buy. If people can buy more house, then perhaps home prices will rise.

30 yr fixed    3.53%        3.25%
30 yr fixed jumbo    4.19%        4.13%
15 yr fixed    2.94%        2.83%
15 yr fixed jumbo    3.39%        3.40%
5/1 ARM    2.93%        2.81%
5/1 jumbo ARM    2.86%        3.01%
Find personalized rates:
But as we’ve noted so many times before, the great low rate doesn’t mean anything if you can’t qualify, if you don’t have the down payment or credit scores to get it.

“They’re also not talking about other factors that will continue to contribute to fewer home sales…even when the market does start improving…such as demographics, competition from rentals, and the risk that many people don’t want to take after being beat up by the crash”

“Instead, the underlying improvement in housing demand is still very reliant on cash buyers and investors,” notes Paul Diggle of Capital Economics, who does not believe mortgage rates will fall dramatically. “Admittedly, low bond yields and savings rates more generally are probably playing a part in the strength of investor demand for housing.”

Lower rates could cause a boost in refinances, but so many have already refied at record low rates that it would take a pretty large drop to lure more in, given the fees and hassle involved. And of course negative equity keeps millions of potential refinancers out of the game. The government’s refinance program for underwater borrowers (HARP) has helped over half a million borrowers get lower rates since the beginning of this year, but unless you have a Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac [FNMA  0.2773     0.0053  (+1.95%)       ] backed loan, you’re not eligible.

There is a push by Democrats in Congress to expand the government’s refi program, and lower mortgage rates could help more Republicans come on board, but that is unlikely to happen before election day. (Read More: Wealthiest Counties Rake In Government-Backed Mortgages)

“To ensure as many voters as possible can benefit from this, we believe there will be another push to enact HARP expansion legislation during the lame duck session that will start after the election,” says Jaret Seiberg of Guggenheim Partners. “Lower mortgage rates only matter if people can refinance and plow that extra cash into the economy. Given that as many as a quarter of borrowers may be underwater, the HARP is the way to translate the Federal Reserve’s effort into economic stimulus.”

It is hard to say now just how low rates will go and just who will be able to benefit from lower mortgage rates. In today’s tricky housing recovery, so dependent on investors and so sensitive to a still-swollen pipeline of foreclosed properties and delinquent loans, mortgage rates are just one piece of the recovery puzzle.

In other words…they have no idea what’s going to happen!

Why real estate marketing sucks

This beautiful home has a FLR, FDR, FR W/FPL, MEIK, MBR…is it a wonder why homes take so long to sell, and why they always sell for less than they should

If you know me, or have been reading my blog, then you know that I hate real estate marketing.

A listing isn’t marketing.  It’s just a listing.

It’s the same exact listing as all of the millions of other homes listed on all of these free real estate web sites.  And not that it matters that there are millions of other homes that are listed, because your only concern needs to be how your home stands out from the crowd…in your local market.

Realtors like to hype that your home is out there for millions of buyers to see.  But that’s the biggest fallacy out there.  It’s really a bunch of bulls*%t.

The fact is, at any given time, there’s not all that many people who are looking to buy a home in Tenafly, or for that matter in Cresskill, Alpine, Closter or Englewood.

That’s why it’s so important to make your home stand out from the crowd!

Tenafly had 150+ home sales in 2011, and it’ll be close to the same this year.  So how many people at any given time are considering to buy a home in Tenafly.  And those who are, are also looking at other towns as well.  And when you start breaking the formula down by price ranges, then the numbers dramatically decrease for each price niche.

So maybe there’s a few hundred people at best who are considering various price ranges in Tenafly, throughout the entire year!

Now to my point of why I hate real estate marketing.

Read this:


This is the opening line for a home that is for sale in the Tenafly area.

What the hell is it?

  • What are they trying to sell?
  • What are they trying to convey? Is it a catering hall?  Can’t you entertain you friends in every size home?
  • Do people get excited that you can entertain, and is it their most important concern when looking to buy a home…is it even in the top 5 concerns?  In 35 years of building homes and condos etc. entertaining people has never been a topic of concer with any of my buyers.  Ever!

Don’t Realtors ever read Architectural Digest, or any of the other home magazines?  I guess not.
Because, if they did then they would see that it’s not all about the pictures.  Pictures are important, but it’s the story that starts the sales process, creates interest and starts the love connection.

“Nina Garcia has had to do quite a bit more than click her vertiginous Tom Ford heels to make herself feel at home.” …first line of an AD story-line

Without a compelling story you have nothing for marketing.

It’s all about the story!!

To just list the rooms by name and include a few items the the most idiotic way to make your home stand out from the crowd.

And to say…”it’s a must see” is even dumber.

No it’s not a must see.There’s no shortage of homes for sale in Tenafly, so no one has to see this home.

Selling homes is now all about telling viewers, (who most you’ll never talk to…or will ever see your home) why they should drop everything that they’re busy with, and take a trip to see your home

It’s a Realtors job to convince someone to see it.  And if that agent doesn’t have the ability to attract buyers, that agent has no value.  Trying it the old way will cause your home to remain unsold for a longer period of time, and it will decrease the value of your home at the same time.

And it’s something that doesn’t need to happen.

Selling your home is all about marketing, and making your home stand out from the crowd.

If you want your home to get noticed faster, sold faster and sold for it’s highest price, then email me at  It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure this out…so why isn’t anyone doing it!

It’s all about the story…check out these articles:

Forbes…Tell To Win Book Review

Arianna Huffington…Why Peter Guber’s book Tell To Win is a Game Changer

New Range Rover U.S. debut tonight at Stone Mansion in Alpine

Range Rover is making its U.S. debut tonight at a special event at the magnificent $56 million Stone Mansion that is listed for sale in Alpine, New Jersey.

The all new Range Rover

This is one way to draw a crowd…and to try to sell a home.

Guess they’re hoping that someone at the event is chummy with a billionaire, who can be enticed to buy this incredible home.

It’s good word of mouth marketing.

I wonder if a few local agent will try to crash the party just to give out some business cards.

Maybe there will even be a fly-over with someone tossing their cards from a helicopter.

It’s rumored that Jay-Z and Beyonce will be in attendance, as well as some our local pro sports players and other celebrities.

You may want to drive by the entrance on Closter Dock Road, to catch a glimpse of the stars…and the car

The paparazzi will be out in Alpine tonight!

Check it out!

Read about the new Range Rover

Is Tenafly High School really #3 in New Jersey? You decide

So what is it with all of these school rankings?

Last week I blogged that Tenafly High School was ranked as #3 in New Jersey by New Jersey Monthly Magazine.  And now I just came a cross a rating of the Best High Schools in America on The Daily Beast (Newsweek)…and their ratings were considerably different:
Why is there such a huge discrepancy in the ratings?

In my post… Tenafly High School Rated #3…New Jersey monthly came up with the following ratings:

  • New Providence #1
  • Tenafly #3
  • Millburn #8
  • Cresskill #28

The Daily Beast ratings…America’s Best High Schools 2012:

  • New Providence #224
  • Tenafly #198
  • Millburn #83
  • Cresskill #166

Go figure!

Either way, the ratings are a great thing for the school districts who made either one of these lists. And it’s also great for local real estate values.

As usual with the real estate industry, sales people will quote the New Jersey Monthly rating and never mention the Daily Beast rating.  Or worse, most realtors won’t know about either rating, and they’ll just continue saying that “xyz school system has award winning school”…or the other one is…”it’s a blue ribbon school system”.

Or if they do it the NAR way…they’ll just make something up that sounds good.

I’ll just sit back and watch the schools fight it out for the bragging rights.

Tenafly High School Rated #3 in New Jersey. Great News For Real Estate

For those you you (including me) who complain about our insanely high property taxes in Tenafly, here’s some great news pointing out how a majority of our taxes are being spent to the benefit of our community and especially for our children.  And this is why Tenafly is the hottest home market in the region, and people want to live in Tenafly regardless of our ever increasing property taxes..  Home sales in Tenafly are blowing away all of the other town by a huge margin with the number of home sales, as well as in the dollar volume of sales.

New Jersey Monthly magazine just published it’s yearly school rating for New Jersey…NJ’s Top Public High Schools…and for the second year in a row Tenafly High School is the #3 High School in the State!

This is a big deal!

Since I started building homes in Tenafly in 1997, and moved here in 1998, the Tenafly school system has  been touted as one of the best school systems in the State.  Not having had kids in the school system until 2003, this hype really didn’t mean that much to me, other than a marketing tool to aid me in selling the homes I was building…and selling the Tenafly school system was the key to making sales. But now that both of my girls are in the system, I’m bow getting my money’s worth.

Everyone moves to Tenafly specifically for the great school system that we have in place…and have paid so dearly to create (and sometimes way too much money..but that’s for another post)

Because of our extravagant and sometimes unwarranted taxes, we have few, if anyone moving into Tenafly who don’t already have kids who are either school age, or darn close to it.  Only stupid me lived here for 5 years prior to using the school…and it was an expensive wait. But now that I’m getting my money’s worth out of it, I’m happy.

The New jersey Monthly rating is a great acknowledgement of our school systems accomplishments at Tenafly High, but living it and being able to see it in action is a thousand times better.

It’s a great thing to see that both of my girls go to school and come home from school, with smiles on their face…and I see that with almost every kid when I drop them off every morning and pick them up from school.  When you have happy kids, life becomes much easier.

It’s not to say that they don’t have lots of homework and the pressure of learning something new every day…because here is pressure.  But all of the schools handle this amazingly well.  Kids learn here!

Note: I have to take the opportunity to once again state that Tenafly is a hot market and is in big demand.  Tenafly is a sellers market!

  • #3 rated high school in the State and one of the best overall school systems as well
  • highest number of home sales in the area
  • highest dollar home sales volume in the area

What more could Realtors ask for?  And why aren’t they screaming this out and promoting it to the public?

More articles of interest:

Rating New Jersey’s Teachers

Crappy photos decrease the value of your home

Crappy listing pictures are worth a fast click to another home

Crappy pictures have no excitement value.  They’re a turn off.

Crappy pictures will not create a memorable, and they won’t make your home stand out from the crowd

And most of all, crappy pictures decrease the value of your home.

And don’t let anyone tell you differently.

The first thing that I recommend if you have crappy listing pictures, isn’t to fix the pictures, it’s to fire your agent…then put up new pictures.  If using crappy pictures to promote your home is the best that a Realtor can do, then just imagine how bad they’ll be when they’re finally in front of a potential buyer…who’s also looking at other homes.

Taking great pictures is no easy task.  It takes talent and it takes desire…and it even takes a few minutes or even hours working photoshop…all aimed at creating a WOW MOMENT every time someone sees your home online or in print.

And don’t let anyone tell you that it’s not important, because they would just be lying to you.  Look at the great brokerage firms in New Yor City…Corcoran, Elliman, Hallstead and Town…all who have gone to extreme efforts to produce some of the most spectacular full screen HD photos of their listings.  They understand the importance of a visual WOW.  It may have taken them way too long to “get it”, but they got it!

It’s been far too long here in Bergen County, for Realtors to accept disposable camera looking pictures.  It’s time for a change.

It’s all about marketing!

Realtors in Tenafly, Alpine, Cresskill, Englewood and everywhere else in Bergen County now have to compete with listings in the city…and with all the rental projects that will soon be competing with sellers in the suburbs.

Continuing down the path of mediocrity will hurt every home owner…and agent.  Because your home and listing will become less valuable.

And it’s all because of an outdated marketing approach and mindset, where good enough is fine.

But good enough isn’t fine.  And it never way…but in the high flying days you could get away with it.  But not anymore.

Now you have to ferociously compete for far fewer sales..

Mediocrity fails us all.

It’s time to step up to the plate, and perform.

It’s no longer good enough to just list your home on a few free web sites with anything less than electrifying pictures, and captivating descriptions.

It’s all about marketing…and it’s all about the quality of the marketing!

Consumers see the difference, and so do the developers who are building all those beautiful new rental complexes.

And now it’s also time for Realtors to see the difference…and to do something about it.

Hey, and if you don’t care what price your home sells for and how long it takes to sell, then keep doing what you’ve been doing, and keep reducing your price.

Run from everyone who tells you that selling your home in Tenafly is all about price. They’re wrong!

This is for all of the Realtors who are making a push to lower home prices in Tenafly.

You’re out of your mind!  You have it all wrong!

I don’t get it…Tenafly is still the hottest town in the region, yet Realtors are still pushing lower prices.  They should be pushing higher prices!

It’s time for homeowners in Tenafly to start recouping some of their losses.

Unnecessarily pushing lower prices causes instability in the marketplace

Tenafly is a sellers market…and here’s the data to back it up!

  • To date there have been 110 home sales in Tenafly.  The next closest is 72 home sales in Englewood, and 55 home sales in Closter.  That’s a 35% to 50% sales lead over it’s two nearest town
  • Tenafly has double + the dollar sales volume over its nearest rival…Englewood Cliffs (which is also on fire in 2012)
  • Since 2001 Tenafly has more home sales than 8 of its neighboring towns (except for 2006…Englewood)

Run from anyone who tells you that it’s all about price, because it’s not!

If you go by the average sales price date, Tenafly is #4 on the list (only because there has been a drop in the sales volume over $2 million in 2012)…and yet the sales volume has remained consistently high even after the market crashed in 2006…compared to all the other towns:

  • the sales volume far exceeds all the other towns by a whopping percentage
  • and property taxes are the highest in Tenafly

And none of this has changed the desirability for living in Tenafly…yet.

Prices did not come down in Tenafly!!

Every smart business person knows, that when your market or product is hot,  you don’t lower your price…you raise it!  Except if you’re a Realtor… who regardless of data to the contrary, still believe that lower prices create more sales…and that’s totally false.

  • We’ve had the lowest prices in a decade….and sales have been stable
  • We’ve also had the lowest interest rates in our lifetime, since the market crashed…and sales have NOT increased

The data shows that the only thing you get from lower prices…are lower prices.  Not more sales!

The value of your home is dependent on the facts…not the industry pov.

If someone is pushing you to lower your prices…find another Realtor!

Selling your home is all about marketing!

Let me know what you think