3 Easy Ways to Illuminate Your Home for the Holidays

holiday(StatePoint) ‘Tis the season of friends, family and entertaining! If you’re planning on hosting guests — whether for an entire week of family fun or a one-night celebration — now’s the time to get your home in the holiday spirit.

“Preparing a home for the holidays doesn’t have to require adding extensive decorations or undergoing a total remodel to update favorite spaces,” says Jennifer Kis, director of marketing communications for Progress Lighting. “Small changes through lighting can create a festive and comfortable environment with minimal effort and investment.”

Here are three easy tips to try:

Update Entryways and Foyers. Your entryway is your opportunity to make an exceptional first impression and set the tone for the rest of the interior. Add drama to your foyer with a grouping of striking, oversized pendant lights in lieu of a traditional chandelier.

Pay Attention to Shared Spaces. Popular spaces where friends and family are likely to gather most during the holidays include great rooms, living rooms and dining areas. A large statement chandelier in a common living space creates a focal point and also ensures there is enough illumination for card games, movies and coffee and cocoa by the fireside.

Illuminate Walkways to Enhance Curb Appeal. Simple outdoor lighting techniques can improve a home’s appearance and also offer functional features during the holidays and beyond. Added illumination will improve safety and enhance security, while bringing a new bold look to the front of your home. To create instant curb appeal, hang a large lantern on either side of your front door, or install a post lantern at the front of your walkway.

For more design inspiration and to view on-trend lighting collections, visit progresslighting.com.

In a few easy steps, you can light up your home for a warm and welcoming holiday season.  If you would like more holiday ideas or you are looking for  homes in the West Essex area,  contact me and I will be happy to help you find the home of your dreams.

Living in Caldwell, NJ from the NY Times

Today’s NY Times Real Estate Section “ Living In” column features Caldwell, NJ.  An “appealing alternative to pricier areas nearby”, Caldwell has much to offer including  great IMG_1270schools, many recreation activities, low crime, diverse restaurant  offerings, a reasonable commute  and the ability to walk to it all.

Located less than 20 miles from midtown Manhattan, Caldwell, and the entire West Essex Area, is very easy to access from New York City and area airports.

Do you have any questions about Caldwell or any of the communities that make up  the West Essex area?  Fill in the form below  and I will be happy to answer your questions!   You can also email me @ kim.fiore@century21.com .

 

 

Upgrade Your Kitchen to Cook Like a Professional Chef

kitchen(StatePoint) Of course, cooking like a chef at home requires talent and practice. But there’s no doubt about it — having the right culinary tools, appliances and prep space is essential, too.

To upgrade your kitchen so that you can cook like a chef, consider the following:

Prep Like a Pro

Save time and energy and get a cleaner cut by maintaining your knives. Properly clean, dry and store knives directly after use and regularly sharpen them. Whether that’s on a magnetic strip on the wall or an in-drawer organizer, the best options will allow you to see all your knives at once so you can reach for the correct one. Precision slicing? You may also wish to invest in a mandoline.

Bake a lot? Consider ditching the measuring cups by using a digital scale instead. You’ll get faster, more accurate results. And the bonus of less to clean-up.

Cook Like a Pro

When it comes to ensuring that there are no limits to what you can do in the kitchen, it’s all about having top-notch appliances. Check out the Pro Series Collection of free-standing ranges from ILVE. Known for their handcrafted Italian appliances, the new series offers chef-quality features such as a removable griddle, high BTU brass burners and a built-in warm drawer to keep cooked food at an ideal temperature for serving. Available in a 36-inch single or unique double oven configuration as well as 40-inch and 48-inch sizes with double ovens, the electric ovens feature multi-function cooking options and included rotisserie accessory. The Pro Series is equipped with features that professional chefs dream of at a price point that the home culinarian can afford. Offered in stainless steel and matte graphite colors, you can get a professional-style cooking experience while maintaining the sleek design of your kitchen.

Move Like a Pro

Do an audit of your current cooking habits, bearing in mind the layout of your kitchen and the organization of go-to ingredients. Are you expending time and energy walking all the way around the kitchen island just to get to the fridge? Are you spending too much time poking around for a particular spice or oil? The optimal flow in your kitchen space will allow for more intuitive food preparation and help you stay light on your feet.

Want to cook like a professional? Update your kitchen accordingly. A few upgrades can help you become a better chef.

3 Unexpected Upgrades to Add Beauty and Comfort to Your Home

home updates(StatePoint) While a simple home upgrade once meant a new area rug or fresh coat of paint, these days, there are new and unexpected ways to update your space in order to add beauty and comfort to your home.

• Think Smart: New technology can add unexpected convenience and luxury to your everyday life. Virtual assistants like Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant and Apple HomeKit, can help make your space cozy, comfortable and secure, giving you the ability to control light bulbs, door locks, blinds, music and more with voice commands. Companion apps also allow you to control home elements through your phone from anywhere.

Particular about your shower? Create the perfect experience every day by programming temperature and water flow settings to your liking.

Enjoying family movie night and don’t want to get off the couch? With a WiFi-enabled SIMPLEconnect smart fan from Hunter Fan Company, for example, you can turn the light and breeze on and off with simple voice commands.

• Living gallery wall: Add vitality and beauty to your space with a living gallery wall, whereby plant life becomes a work of art. Known as a vertical garden, there are many ways to go about it, whether it’s affixing planters in a pattern to your wall or hanging a flat panel of succulents and moss and bordering it with a picture frame. This will create a lively visual and a healthy one at that — adding oxygen to the rooms of your home, or even nutrition, should you choose to plant herbs.

• Add a breeze: Whether you live in an old house where central air is non-existent or you just want to add some ventilation to your space with a low-key upgrade, there’s no need to call in an HVAC team. Adding a ceiling fan to the landing of your staircase, for example, can help pull and circulate cool air into the upstairs space. Or, consider transforming the traditionally neglected laundry room into a space that’s comfortable for getting chores done. The addition of a ceiling fan can create a breeze and alleviate the heat created by the dryer. Low-profile versions like the Cranbrook from Hunter Fan Company, are a good fit for the small square footage of a laundry room.

For more design or upgrade tips, follow Hunter Fan Company on instagram at @Hunterfanco or visit itsaHunter.com.

Thinking outside the box when updating your space can go a long way toward adding beauty and comfort to your home.

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PHOTO SOURCE: (c) Diana Elizabeth Blog for Hunter Fan Company

New Listing – 29 Francisco Ave West Caldwell

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29 Francisco Ave W. Caldwell

Classic 3 bedroom brick, slate roof colonial in desirable Presidential Section. Located on a quiet street with Francisco Park on  one end and a cul-de-sac on the other. The classic center hall layout directs traffic left to the spacious living room with fireplace and built-in bookcases, right into the formal dining room, or back to the jalousied porch. Be sure to notice the beautiful wide-plank hardwood floors. The kitchen includes a walk-in pantry and connected breakfast room complete with a wall of built-ins. A wood paneled den and powder room complete the first floor. The second floor features a huge master bedroom with bath, 2 additional bedrooms and a full bath. Your updates can turn this special house into the home of your dreams!

To see this property call me today  @ 973-349-6731

For more information visit 29franciscoave.c21.com

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Interest Rates are Rising: Should You Buy a Home or Wait?

(StatePoint) With heightened talk of rising interest rates, many prospective home buyers are understandably concerned about whether it’s the right time to purchase a home.

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Indeed, you may be wondering if you waited too long and let the historically low interest rates pass you by or if you can still find a dream home that fits within your current budget.

Experts say that it’s true that rates are at their highest in almost four years and that this year has been particularly rough, however, it’s not all bad news. Rates are still well below the levels seen 10, 20 and 30 years ago.

“Rates are still low by historical standards, helping make mortgage payments affordable for many, but your wallet might take a hit if rates continue to go up,” says Freddie Mac deputy chief economist, Len Kiefer.

How big will the hit be? Assume you buy a home with a 20 percent down payment, take out a $200,000 mortgage and are getting a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage. At a 4.5 percent interest rate, your monthly payment would be $811 with total interest paid over the life of the loan being $131,851. With a 7.5 percent interest rate, your monthly payment would be $1,119 with a total interest paid of $242,748. With an 18 percent interest rate, your monthly payment skyrockets to $2,411 with a total interest paid of $708,081.

If rates jump a half percentage, you’ll pay a bit more each month, which isn’t ideal, but the added expense will unlikely be a deal-breaker. However, if rates jump to the levels they were in 1981 (an average of 18 percent), you can expect to pay a whopping $1,600 more per month, which may cause you to think twice about taking the plunge into home ownership.

To find out how much you’ll pay, check out Freddie Mac’s free Fixed-Rate Mortgage Calculator at calculators.freddiemac.com. For other free tools and resources, visit myhome.freddiemac.com.

Don’t let current rising interest rates prevent you from buying a home this year. Experts suggest that while rates have risen recently, historically speaking, it is still an overall great time to buy.

Are Common Myths Holding You Back from Buying a Home?

(StatePoint) Aspirations of home ownership is strong for America’s families, yet findings from the fifth annual America at Home survey from NeighborWorks America indicate several perceived barriers to home ownership among the majority of consumers.pexels-photo-106399.jpeg

Findings from the survey, which consisted of 1,000 U.S. adults and 500 millennials include many misconceptions about what it takes to buy a home:

  • The average millennial mistakenly thinks the minimum required down payment is 21.6 percent.
  • Approximately 73 percent of all consumers and 62 percent of millennials said they were not aware of or are unsure about down payment assistance programs in their communities for middle-income home buyers.
  • Seventy percent of adults feel they don’t have enough money saved for a down payment.

Experts believe that confusion about down payment requirements and lack of awareness about assistance programs are holding back many people from pursuing homeownership. “Before deciding if owning a home is right for you, take time to understand your down payment options, and separate myths from facts,” says Freddie Mac Vice President, Danny Gardner.

For example, the average down payment among first-time home buyers in 2016 was just 6 percent and, for repeat buyers, just 14 percent. What’s more, mortgage options, such as Freddie Mac’s Home Possible Mortgages, make it possible for qualified borrowers to put down as little as 3 percent.

If your down payment is less than 20 percent with a conventional loan, you’ll have to pay private mortgage insurance, an added insurance policy that protects the lender if you are unable to pay your mortgage. However, mortgage rates — despite their rise in recent years — remain at historic lows, providing you with a significant advantage.

There are also millions of dollars available for down payment assistance. A great place to start is right where you live. Many state, county, and city governments provide financial assistance for people in their communities who are well qualified and ready for home ownership.

To help demystify down payments and the home buying process, free tools and resources are available at myhome.freddiemac.com.

Don’t let misconceptions hold you back from pursuing home ownership. Check out the facts to learn how much home you can afford.

Is it time for you to make your move?  Email me at kim.fiore@century21.com  to get started.

How to Find the Right Home Mortgage So You Don’t Overpay

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(StatePoint) Ample bedrooms and bathrooms? Check. A roomy kitchen? Check. A nice-sized backyard, storage space in the attic and just the right amount of curb appeal? Check, check and check.

Once you’ve found your perfect home, the next step is finding the right mortgage — which can sometimes feel like you’re competing in a contact sport, being blindsided by confusing requests or financial surprises as you go through the application process.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 63.7 percent of Americans own their home. But getting there wasn’t necessarily easy. A 2017 NerdWallet survey reports that 42 percent of homeowners felt the home-buying process was stressful, a third said it was complicated, and 21 percent found it intimidating.

To help make you a mortgage all-star, Ally Home has created “The Mortgage Playbook,” a free, easy-to-read resource. Authored by members of the Ally Home Team, a dedicated group of loan experts, the “Playbook” features four sections that cover the entire field — from a getting-started game plan to approval and closing on a mortgage. It also breaks down confusing financial terms, helping applicants avoid pain during the home buying process.

To help you prepare for your mortgage game day, here are three top tips from the experts at Ally:

• Maximize your financial fitness. There are five steps consumers should take to improve their “financial fitness” before applying for a mortgage. These include demonstrating stable employment, managing debt, paying down credit accounts, accumulating assets like savings or retirement accounts to boost credit histories, and reviewing (and correcting, if necessary) your credit reports.

• Know your numbers. Borrowers can take advantage of free online tools, such as the Affordability Calculator available at Ally.com, to determine how much house they can afford. Using two pieces of data — monthly income and monthly debt — a borrower can quickly calculate their debt-to-income ratio. In most instances, this ratio should not exceed 43 percent, meaning your monthly mortgage payment and other debt obligations (car loan, school loan, credit card payments) should not comprise more than 43 percent of your gross monthly income.

• Know what type of mortgage is best for you. One of the biggest decisions borrowers make is whether to get a fixed-rate or adjustable-rate mortgage. When interest rates are low, a fixed-rate mortgage may be the better option. But if interest rates are higher, an adjustable rate mortgage could make sense because its lower initial rate means lower monthly payments for a specific time period (usually five, seven or 10 years) before the rate could change.

For more valuable tips, visit ally.com/docs/bank/ally-home-playbook to download the complete “Mortgage Playbook.” This free resource was created by Ally Home, whose mortgage products are offered by Ally Bank, Member FDIC, Equal Housing Lender.

Just like you wouldn’t hit the field without training and preparation, don’t head into the home buying process without the right knowledge. Leverage free resources that can help you be prepared.

 

$10 Home in Montclair NJ, (and yes there’s a catch)

Montclair NJ

If you have ever dreamed of living in an historic home designed by  a famous architect now is your chance. The 3,900 square foot house at 44 Pleasant Ave by prominent  Montclair architect Dudley S. Van Antwerp is up for sale for $10 but of course there’s a catch.

The Montclair Planning Board approved a subdivision application for the property with a condition of the Board’s approval being a buyer must move the house from its present location to a site within approximately one-quarter mile of its current location.

The Township of Montclair requirements are:

Historic “Aubrey Lewis” house available for purchase. The premises are purchased “as is,” “where is.” The structure must be removed from its present location at 44 Pleasant Avenue, Montclair, NJ, to a location within approximately ¼ mile. The purchaser shall be required to enter into a contract with seller in which: (a) the purchase price not to exceed $10.00; (b) the purchaser shall perform all necessary remediation before the move and the costs of the move shall be borne by purchaser; (c) the seller will contribute a maximum of $10,000 toward the move cost; (d) all other incidental costs, if any, shall be borne entirely by the purchaser; (e) purchaser shall indemnify seller from any and all liability, including attorneys’ fees and costs; and (f) purchaser shall provide appropriate insurance guarantees. Contract must be executed on or before August 31, 2017; the movement of the structure shall be negotiated in good faith.

All offers are to be submitted to 44pleasantave@gmail.com

Summer Projects with the Kids

butterflSummer is here and it’s time to get the kids outside. John Riha, writing for houselogic.com, has some ideas to spark their creativity with fun, simple home improvement projects. It’s a win-win as you will get to spend time with your kids while you’ll boost your home’s curb appeal.

When making stuff with kids, remember the Keep-It rules:

Keep it safe. Use gloves and safety glasses when necessary.
Keep it simple. They’ll come away with a sense of accomplishment if it’s a project they can handle easily.
Keep it under an hour. Kids’ attention spans are short.

1. Make Stepping Stones

This classic kids’ project never gets old — it’s gooey, messy, and arty. You’ll make the stones using ready-mix concrete or mortar; a 40-lb. bag makes 3-5 stones. Make your own forms with wood, or use old pans, aluminum cake pans, or anything that’ll create a 2-inch-thick stone.

While the concrete is still wet, decorate with beads, tiles, marbles, and polished pebbles. Wait 48 hours until the concrete is dry to remove it from the form.

2. Painting Your Mailbox

Put a little sizzle in your snail mail when you let your kids paint the mailbox.

Un-mount the box and clean it first. When dry, give it a coat of metal primer, then let your kids’ muse take over. Inexpensive craft store stencils help keep designs on track. Take the kids to the store and let them pick out designs. Don’t forget to include house numbers.

3. Planting a Shrub That Attracts Hummingbirds and Butterflies

There’s some delayed gratification with this project — the payoff doesn’t happen until the critters find the shrub — but the fun factor is high when they do.

Keep the digging to a minimum — one or two plants are plenty. Make a generous hole and have the kids fill it with outdoor potting soil, and put them in charge of watering as the plant roots in. Hold a contest to see who spots the first wildlife visitor.

Nectar-producing shrubs that attract hummingbirds include Hibiscus, flowering quince (Chaenomeles), and Lantana. Butterflies like butterfly bush (Buddleja) and Potentilla.

4. Building a Garden Gate Arbor

It’s easier than it sounds. You’ll find simple DIY kits at home improvement centers that you and your team can put together in 1 to 2 hours. If that challenges younger kids’ attention span limit, let them wander away for a bit, then call them back when it’s done. They’ll love carrying the finished arbor to the garden and setting it in the ground.

Cost: $150-$250 for a wooden kit.

5. Adding Solar Lights

This is one of the easiest projects. Gather up some solar walkway lights — the kind mounted on a stake — and have your kids put them along your sidewalk, paths, and at the edge of garden beds. When the sun goes down, they’ll get a kick out of seeing the lights switch on.

Cost: Outdoor lighting comes in all styles and prices, but you’ll find an 8-pack of solar stake lights under $50 at your home improvement center.

6. Stacking a Tipsy-Pot Plant Tower

Here’s a great optical illusion that kids will really dig. Stick a ½-inch diameter wooden dowel or piece of copper pipe firmly into the ground or a big pot. Put clay pots of various sizes onto the pipe, threading the pipe through the drain holes. Fill the pots with soil and tilt them at crazy angles — the rod holds all the pots upright. Plant easy-care plants like impatiens or petunias.

For more real estate and home info and ideas follow me on Twitter  @kimfiorenj