Builders’ Secrets

Hiring a Contractor: Before You Sign

Residential Deals

Corrections or additions?

Tight Market: Bids Are Up

This article by Barbara Fox was published in U.S. 1

Newspaper on April 7, 1999. All rights reserved.

Low interest rates, move-up buyers, a flourishing

economy — all are contributing to an inventory crisis, a regional

paucity of homes. This scarcity is causing stress on both sides of

the real estate table and has fomented a trend to "more than full

price" offers.

Pam Parsons, marketing director of N.T. Callaway Real Estate,

tells of a house that was listed on a Friday, "a dynamite property

in the $300,000s in move-in condition, not a year old. It was sold

on Saturday with two offers, full price and above." Another went

for $20,000 more than asking price on the second day of showings.

"We are not really enjoying this market," says Alice Schoemann,

manager of the Coldwell Banker office on Princeton Hightstown Road.

"People are unhappy because they are losing homes and they are

spending more than they had planned or they are going back to what

they had rejected. We are all just exhausted. You write contract after

contract and some buyers lose several houses. Or they may just change

their requirements and then have to start over."

"Inventory in the industry is very low," says Linda Feldstein

of the Nassau Street office of Weidel Realtors. "If we don’t have

inventory we can’t sell and we can’t rent."

"It’s awful," says Susan Dietze of ERA Cross County.

"We have all these buyers and no houses for sale."

Because of the low inventory, many of the real estate agents that

contribute listings for sale to U.S. 1’s biannual residential real

estate survey had no houses to offer this spring.

Of 11 properties that the Callaway firm offered for

U.S. 1’s listings last fall, for example, only one did not sell, and

that one is priced at the highest end of the market, at $2.1 million.

"Houses sell within a matter of days, if they are fresh, in good

condition, in a good location, and appealing. Decent properties go

very quickly, and there is a lot of pressure to get your customer

to them very quickly. You have to keep your nose to the computer screen

all the time," says Parsons.

Everyone agrees that buyers need to come in with a really solid offer,

and to work with an experienced agent who understands the market.

If yours is the first offer you could go just $1,000 over the asking

price. If it is the second or third — go higher. One successful

buyer put in an extra $20,000 to sweeten the pot. You want the sellers

to be so pleased they don’t ask anyone else.

The terms of the offer — when the buyer needs to move in or whether

the buyer is prequalified for the mortgage — can also tip the

balance.

But should you bid more than full price? And if so, how much?

"If you find a house that you really want," says Feldstein,

"I would come in at my highest and best and present it that way.

Previously you would try to shave off $1,000, but in this market come

in strong."

"Do you bid up because of the excitement? Or because you really

want the house and don’t mind paying top dollar?"

"In any auction, something has a value to you, whether it is a

right or wrong value. Go with it and don’t be carried away by the

excitement. If you want it for $300,000, don’t pay $325,000 if you

don’t feel it’s worth it. You may be sorry in the long run."

"If you don’t get it, were you wrong for not going higher? You

don’t have the house. But you didn’t want to spend $25,000 more. In

this market there is no right or wrong and you should stay with the

numbers you are comfortable with," says Feldstein.

"Any agent who knows his or her salt knows to tell a client —

if you really love it, take it," says Parsons. "Ask the agent

if it is properly priced, if at full price it will be OK if you sell

in three to five years or whatever your situation is. It is up to

the agent to do the research to prove that this is a price that holds

to the comparisons, to say to the buyer, `I think you are going to

be fine.’ Most agents — if you would have to take a loss, they

would say so."

— Barbara Fox

Top Of Page
Builders’ Secrets

It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it. So the March/April

newsletter of the Central Jersey Builders Association primes its members

with the "Seven `Dirty’ Words to Avoid. Listen for them, and see

which ones your contractor is hearing. Herewith some excerpts:

Upgrades. This word implies that what we include isn’t

very good. Instead, use available option to indicate a choice

of quality features.

Allowances. Are we "allowing" customers to do

something, or do they have a "choice" when it comes to flooring,

cabinets, and light fixtures? By calling allowances owner choice,

the decision belongs to the customer.

Subs. Call them trade contractors or craftsmen

to create an atmosphere of respect rather than subservience.

Extras. If the customer requests changes, call them change

orders .

Contract. Too imposing and formal. A much friendlier word

is agreement, and it means the same thing, that both parties

know what their rights and responsibilities are.

Profit. Avoid this word at all times, except when talking

to your accountant. Instead, explain that your cost of doing business

must be deducted from your margin.

Cheaper. Never use this word. As a quality builder, you

couldn’t allow a cheap product or method in constructing a home. Instead,

explain there are less expensive alternatives available.

Top Of Page
Hiring a Contractor: Before You Sign

New Jersey does not license or keep track of people

who do home improvements for cash — only those who sell home repairs

on credit. So before you sign a contract, be sure you can find the

contractor if you have a problem later. This means getting not just

the name and address of the business owner, but also the names and

addresses of any salespersons — including the license plates of

their cars and trucks.

These tips come from "You and the Law in New Jersey" by Melville

D. Miller and Leighton A. Holness and the staff of Legal Services

of New Jersey, published by Rutgers University Press. They also advise

you to:

Get estimates from more than one contractor.

Get references from past customers.

Get all the promises in writing.

Read the contract first and if anything is missing, write

it in and have the contractor initial it.

Confirm that the contractor has insurance such as workers

compensation, and that the insurance includes the contractor, workers,

and visitors to your home.

Get your own loan. Don’t let the contractor "arrange"

financing.

Most important, pay by check. If you do, you will have access

to his or her checking account number and bank, revealed on the back

of the returned check.

Top Of Page
Residential Deals

Less Than $96,000

East Windsor

82 Teal Court. Taxes: $2,703. Listed, Weidel/Susan

Robertson, 609-586-1400.

3 bedrooms; 2.5 baths. Townhouse with family room, cathedral

ceilings, fireplace, sliders leading to private patio with evergreens.

$92,500.

Hamilton

1346 Deutz Avenue. Lot size: 20 x 155. Taxes: $1,473.

Listed, R.A. Weidel Corp./Elaine Gutowski, 609-586-1400 extension

254.

3 bedrooms; 2 baths; full basement. Semi with new bath,

enclosed front porch, vinyl sided, and mudroom. $75,000.

312 Park Lane. Lot size: 40 x 250. Taxes: $2,618. Listed,

Weidel-Hamilton Square/Susan Robertson, 609-586-1400 extension

259.

3 bedrooms; 1 bath; full basement. Colonial on large lot

with enclosed front porch, and basement bay window. $89,888.

Hightstown

23 Huber Court. Lot size: 41 x 37. Taxes: $2,874. Listed,

Prudential Fox and Roach/Rudra Bhatt, 609-799-2022.

2 bedrooms; 2 baths. Condo. $86,900.

Hopewell Township

74 North Greenwood Avenue. Taxes: $1,925. Listed, Gloria

Nilson Realtors/Henderson Division/Eva Sesztak, 609-737-9100.

2 bedrooms; 1 bath. Condo with new parquet floors, new

appliances, close to town center. $92,500.

Jamesburg

6 New Street. Lot size: 85 x 134. Taxes: $2,601. Listed,

Weichert/Susan Baker, 732-297-0200.

2 bedrooms; 1 bath; full basement. Colonial with dining

room and eat-in kitchen. $79,000.

Lawrence

423 Lawrence Road. Listed, Coldwell Banker/Connie

Cornish, 609-921-1411.

1 bedroom; 1 bath; condo in Meadow Woods with updated

kitchen & bath, deck, eat-in kitchen, quick closing needed. $48,900.

21 Kite Court. Taxes: $1,830. Listed, Prudential Fox

and Roach/Rudra Bhatt, 609-799-2022.

2 bedrooms; 2 baths. Penthouse in Lawrenceville. $82,500.

11 Fairbanks Place. Taxes: $2,077. Listed, Weidel/Nancy

Cash, 609-586-8383 extension 212.

2 bedrooms; 2.5 baths. Townhouse with fireplace, security

system, near pool. $87,500.

Monroe

277-36 Crosse Drive. Taxes: $591. Listed, ERA Allen

and Stults/Sol Cohon, 609-655-0042.

1 bedroom; 1 bath. Third floor efficiency condo in adult

community, with new carpeting, kitchen, living/dining room, and

elevator. $39,900.

43 C Concord Lane. Listed, ERA Allen and Stults/Lee

Sahner, 609-655-0042.

2 bedrooms; 1 bath. Ranch in adult community on treed

lot with Florida room, custom window treatments. $64,900.

256-N Old Nassau Road. Taxes: $1,364. Listed, ERA Allen

and Stults/Edith Warner, 609-655-0042.

2 bedrooms; 2 baths. Colonial with carport, new kitchen,

new appliances, in Rossmoor adult community. $69,900.

335D Old Nassau Road. Taxes: $1,418. Listed, Era Allen

and Stults/Roz Schachat, 609-655-0042.

2 bedrooms; 2 baths. Ranch condo with upgraded carpeting,

family room, and carport. $75,000.

151-B Providence Way. Taxes: $1,418. Listed, ERA Allen

and Stults/Marie Dey, 609-655-0042.

2 bedrooms; 1 bath. Colonial in Rossmoor adult community

with dining room, enclosed patio, appliances, and wall to wall carpeting.

$75,900.

70 A Gloucester Way. Listed, ERA Allen and Stults/Ilene

Cashman, 609-655-0042.

2 bedrooms; 1 bath. Ranch in adult community with family

room, carport, close to club house. $77,900.

71-D Rossmoor Drive. Listed, ERA Allen and Stults/Marie

Dey, 609-655-0042.

2 bedrooms; 1 bath. Colonial in Rossmoor adult community,

with dining room, den, and carport. $79,900.

167A Portland Lane. Taxes: $1,872. Listed, ERA Allen

and Stults/Roz Schachat, 609-655-0042.

2 bedrooms; 2 baths. Ranch condo with enclosed patio and

carport. $85,000.

76-C Rossmoor Drive. Listed, ERA Allen and Stults/Marie

Dey, 609-655-0042.

2 bedrooms; 1 bath. Colonial ranch in Rossmoor, with dining

room, and carport. $89,103.

123 B Concordia Circle. Taxes: $2,056. Listed, ERA Allen

and Stults/Lee Sahner, 609-655-0042.

2 bedrooms; 2 baths. Upstairs manor in adult community

with carport, den, dining room, all amenities, clubhouse, pools, on

treed lot. $92,900.

New Brunswick

312 Seaman Street. Lot size: 21.8 x 100. Taxes: $2,158.

Listed, ERA Cross County/Ed Rosen, 732-940-1300.

1-2 bedrooms; 1 bath; full basement. Two-family house,

two apartments, each has 1 or 2 bedrooms, 1 bath. $65,900.

1 Laurel Place. Lot size: 25 x 100. Taxes: $2,603. Listed,

Weichert/Steve Walters, 732-297-0200.

2 bedrooms; 1.5 baths; full basement. Colonial with dining

room and eat-in kitchen, located in the fifth ward. $95,499.

Princeton Borough

49L Palmer Square West. Taxes: $1,497. Listed, Princeton

Crossroads/June Gulick, 609-924-4677.

Studio; 1 bath. $81,500.

Robbinsville

59 Wyndham Place. Taxes: $1,788. Listed, Weidel/Dave

Gelaszw, 609-586-1400 extension 234.

2 bedrooms; 2 baths. First floor condo with all appliances.

$88,000.

South Brunswick

6131 Cedar Court. Taxes: $1,945. Listed, Weichert/Steve

Walters, 732-297-0200.

2 bedrooms; 2 baths. Ground floor condo with dining room,

new carpet, backing to woods. $89,900.

Trenton

212 Emory Avenue. Lot size: 13.9 x 75. Taxes: $2,388.

Listed, R.A. Weidel Corp/Elaine Gutowski, 609-586-1400 extension

254.

3 bedrooms; 1 bath; full basement. Row townhouse, with

cement patio and brick exterior. $42,000.

1206 Anderson Street. Lot size: 13 x 100. Taxes: $2,336.

Listed, Weidel/Dave Gelaszw, 609-586-1400 extension 234.

3 bedrooms; 1 bath; basement Semi-detached with walk-up

to attic, and fenced rear yard. $47,500.

75 Grand Street. Lot size: 15 x 93. Taxes: $1,988. Listed,

Doolan Realty/Carmine Armenti, 609-882-8058.

3 bedrooms; 1 bath; full basement. Townhouse with dining

room. $49,900.

30 Washington Street. Lot size: 14 x 100. Taxes: $1,888.

Listed, Weidel-Hamilton/Richard Learn, 609-586-1400.

3 bedrooms; 1 bath; full basement. Row house in the Burg

with remodeled kitchen with ceramic tiles, mud room, finished attic,

fenced-in yard, appliance package with one year homeowner’s warranty.

$49,950.

317 Cummings Avenue. Listed, Prudential Fox and Roach/Robin

Gottfried, 609-737-8210 extension 136.

3 bedrooms; 1 bath; full basement. Townhome with aluminum

sided new windows, newer kitchen, and laundry. $52,000.

989 South Broad Street. Lot size: 17.6 x 100. Taxes:

$2,509. Listed, Weidel/Susan Robertson, 609-586-1400.

3 bedrooms; 2 baths; full basement. Semi-attached with

modern kitchen, laundry, dining room, and full walk-up attic. $59,613.

1023 Chestnut Avenue. Lot size: 17 x 76. Taxes: $3,174.

Listed, Burgdorff-ERA/Ted Begun, 609-252-2305.

4 bedrooms; 2 baths; partial basement; 1-car garage. Three

story rowhouse with dining room, finished attic, currently used as

two family. $59,900.

$100,000 +-

East Windsor

9 Teal Court. Taxes: $2,928. Listed, Weidel-Hamilton

Square/Susan Robertson, 609-586-1400.

3 bedrooms; 2.5 baths. 1-car garage. Townhouse with family

room, fireplace, dining room, and sliders leading out to patio. $99,000.

Hillsborough

851 Robin Road. Taxes: $2,093. Listed, Coldwell Banker/Judith

Perrine, 609-921-1411.

2 bedrooms; 2.5 baths; basement. Partially finished basement

townhouse with living/dining room, new kitchen flooring, new carpeting

on stairs. $109,700.

Monroe

277-B Milford Lane. Taxes: $1,662. Listed, ERA Allen

and Stults/Edith Warner, 609-655-0042.

2 bedrooms; 2 baths. Colonial with carport, with built-in

book cases in den, enclosed porch and Florida room, in Rossmoor adult

community. $97,500.

431-A Redding Lane. Taxes: $1,774. Listed, ERA Allen

and Stults/Bob Warner, 609-655-0042.

2 bedrooms; 2 baths. Colonial first level home with dining

room, enclosed porch and carport in Rossmoor adult community. $98,500.

364 A Old Nassau Road. Taxes: $1,921. Listed, ERA Allen

and Stults/, 609-655-0042.

2 bedrooms; 2 baths. Ranch in adult community with brand

new carpeting, enclosed sunroom with heat and air conditioning, and

carport. $102,500.

182-A Old Nassau Road. Taxes: $1,883. Listed, ERA Allen

and Stults/Edith Warner, 609-655-0042.

2 bedrooms; 2 baths. Colonial ranch with carport, corner

property overlooking golf course, fireplace, heated and air conditioned

Florida room in Rossmoor adult community. $104,500.

South Brunswick

34 Deerberry Lane. Taxes: $2,373. Listed, Weichert/Victoria

Ledingham, 732-297-0200.

3 bedrooms; 2 baths. End unit condo with fireplace, dining

room, eat-in kitchen, loft, laundry, skylights, and sliding doors

to balcony. $99,900.

$110,000-135,000

East Windsor

78 Winchester Drive. Taxes: $3,900. Listed, Prudential

Fox and Roach/Ginny Sheehan, 609-799-2204 extension 165.

3 bedrooms; 2.5 baths. 1-car garage. Barclay model colonial

with dining room, family room, eat-in kitchen, and walk-in closets.

$132,500.

10 Winchester Drive. .088 acre. Taxes: $3,922. Listed,

Prudential Fox and Roach/Judy Perrine, 609-799-2204 extension 166.

3 bedrooms; 2.5 baths; 1-car garage. Two story with dining

room, family room, skylights, fireplace, three walk-in closets, new

sliding doors and front windows. $132,900.

Ewing

21 Kinney Drive. Taxes: $3,909. Listed, Prudential Fox

and Roach/Jackie Stockman, 609-737-7900.

3 bedrooms; 2 baths; full basement; 2-car garage. Cape

with dining room, sunroom, fireplace, hardwood floors, security system.

$119,900.

2 Revere Court. Lot size: 29 x 75. Taxes: $2,961. Listed,

Doolan Realty/Carmine Armenti, 609-882-8058.

3 bedrooms; 2.5 baths. 1-car garage. Townhouse with dining

room, remodeled kitchen, utility room, and central air conditioning.

$122,800.

Franklin

141 Lindsey Court. Taxes: $2,566. Listed, Weichert/Victoria

Ledingham, 732-297-0200.

3 bedrooms; 2.5 baths; full basement. End-unit townhouse

with fireplace, dining room, eat-in kitchen, laundry, backing to woods

$119,900.

2 Veros Lane. Taxes: $2,400. Listed, Weichert/Patty

Leopold, 732-297-0200.

3 bedrooms; 2.5 baths. Townhouse with fireplace, hardwood

entry, dining room, laundry, and large deck. $120,000.

107 Pear Tree. Taxes: $2,559. Listed, Weichert/Irene

Solomon, 732-297-0200.

3 bedrooms; 2.5 baths; full basement. Two story townhouse

with brick front, floor-to-ceiling fireplace, dining room, and step-down

living room. $125,900.

Hamilton

37 Leuckel Avenue. Lot size: 50 x 110. Taxes: $2,900.

Listed, Weidel/Dave Gelaszw, 609-586-1400 extension 234.

3 bedrooms; 1 bath; full basement. Cape Cod with central

air conditioning. $111,000.

18 Fitzrandolph Avenue. Lot size: 48 x 100. Taxes: $2,916.

Listed, Weidel/Dave Gelaszw, 609-586-1400 extension 234.

3 bedrooms; 1 bath; full basement; 2-car garage. Dutch

colonial with walk-up attic and fenced rear yard. $112,000.

358 Churchill Avenue. Lot size: 84 x 107. Taxes: $3,767.

Listed, Weidel/Dave Gelaszw, 609-586-1400 extension 234.

3 bedrooms; 1 bath; full basement. Cape cod with family

room, fireplace, central air conditioning on double lot. $114,000.

123 Smith Avenue. Lot size: 77 x 50. Taxes: $2,489.

Listed, Weidel/Susan Robertson, 609-586-1400.

3 bedrooms; 1 bath; partial basement. Cape cod with cathedral

ceilings, skylights, dining room, sliders leading to deck, and plenty

of parking space. $119,102.

14 Holt Circle. Listed, Prudential Fox and Roach/Robin

Gottfried, 609-737-8210 extension 136.

4 bedrooms; 1 bath; full basement. Cape cod in established

tree lined neighborhood. $134,900.

New Brunswick

45 Hazel Hurst Street. Lot size: 60 x 70. Taxes: $2,924.

Listed, Weichert/Steve Walters, 732-297-0200.

4 bedrooms; 2 baths; full basement; 1-car garage. Two

family cape, with two living rooms, two eat-in kitchens, spare kitchen,

carport, fully fenced yard. $119,900.


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