All posts by Ellen


REALTORS® Promise to Send Help to Texas

With the awful destruction of Hurricane Harvey, Texas is a sad place right now. People are left with no homes. Family members are dead. Animals left to fend for themselves. Its like a scene from a war movie. With the destruction the National Association of REALTORS® is calling on members nationwide to donate funds to the REALTORS® Relief Foundation to support storm victims. 

“This may require our REALTOR® family’s largest effort since Hurricane Katrina—or even 9/11,” RRF President Martin Edwards wrote in an internal memo to NAR directors and staff. “Hopefully, REALTORS® across America will heed the call to donate without precedent, as the on-the-ground membership in Texas will be stretched beyond belief.”  - DAILY REAL ESTATE NEWS



Any donation could help!


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Small Home, Big Yard

Properties that offer a great outdoor space are taking a higher priority among home buyers. In fact, home shoppers recently surveyed and said they would be willing to sacrifice some space from a larger house in order to get a bigger yard. (DAILY REAL ESTATE NEWS)


More people want an outdoor space for children to play and to hold family gatherings.  Also, according to surveys Women wanted outdoor space more than men (62 percent of women surveyed saying they prefer less home square footage for a larger yard, compared to 51 percent of men).

Not only do people prefer a larger yard but they basically want an outdoor living space. People are willing to pay extra to have a modernized outdoor area with a living room theme. For example: glass walls that open to the yard, tiles that match the home and extend it for a seamless flow from inside to outside. Outdoor kitchen islands and cabinets are on top of the list as well.

Maybe one day indoor homes won’t be a thing and we will live outdoors in our yards.



Simple Home Repairs to Attract Buyers




If your sellers are looking for easy/quick ways to increase a home’s value and get buyers’ attention before their home hits the market, here are a few quick fixes.

1. Refresh with color.  When it comes to selecting a palette that looks fresh and has broad appeal, it’s best to go with whites and neutrals. Plus, if your seller is working with a small bathroom or kitchen,  pale colors will make the space look larger. Sellers could also add a border of metallic tile as an accent to the room to give it a more modernized appearance.

2. Update the floors and walls. These areas receive serious wear and tear,  so a smart move is to upgrade to a durable porcelain tile. Current design trends are replicating classic terrazzo and even wood textures. Porcelain tiles are great alternatives to traditional flooring materials.

3. Choose larger tiles. Oversized tiles not only are cost -effective (bigger tiles cover a larger area) but also help make a small room seem larger. Also, keep the tiles looking simple and clean. Avoid tiles that have “too much going on” that way it looks modern and not messy.



Young Luxury Buyers Want BoHo Inspired Homes

We are living in a world where people think the grass is greener on the other side, literally.

More developers are finding that young luxury buyers want modernized boho inspired homes.


For example, a luxury rental complex on Staten Island in New York, called Urby Staten Island, features a communal kitchen, a 5,000-square-foot urban farm, a 20-hive apiary (tended by farmers and beekeepers), and kombucha workshops. (DAILY REAL ESTATE NEWS)

 Developers in other complexes are adding yoga and meditation studios, bike shares, infrared saunas, and even adult treehouses. Home gardens are also becoming a must for these luxury boho homes. Gardens on roofs are also becoming a plus for these young buyers, whereas roof gardens would not be a plus for the older generation buyers.

Christine Blackburn, an associate broker at Compass real estate, told The New York Times the rooftop garden was the most important amenity to a buyer of a condo she recently sold. (DAILY REAL ESTATE NEWS)

These young buyers are all about living an organic life. Gardening for some consumers is the new version of meditation.


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Being Aware of Flooding Can Save You a TON of Money.

Flooding caused by heavy rain and storms are common in New Jersey. Being aware can help you prevent flooding, and save you a ton of money in the long run.


  1. Everyone is at risk for flooding. Even if you are in low- to moderate-risk (PRP) areas your home can be affected. Many affected homes were uninsured, and owners had to pay for damages out of pocket.
  2. Manmade barriers can escalate flooding. This can act as a levee and increase the depth of floodwater by 3 feet on one side, contributing to the damage.
  3. Major disasters can deplete resources quickly. Because so many homes and buildings were damaged, materials to rebuild became scarce and expensive, so the speed of insurance payments is critical and could become a major headache.
  4. Always plan for the worst when building. It’s better to be safe than sorry. If you have the mindset that “it won’t happen to me” your wrong. It most definitely can happen to you.
  5. Know your options if your home is uninhabitable. In certain events flood victims can be forced from their homes, and FEMA trailer homes are not always available. Flood insurance can help pay for alternative living arrangements. WATCH HERE (Credit to CBS News)






Why you should invest in real estate!

Many individuals are successful in their primary business ventures. Sometimes though they ofter wonder what ways they can invest their hard earned money. As a New Jersey realtor and team leader of The Platinum Group at Keller Williams Monmouth/Ocean office located in Jackson, NJ I have come to learn the the best way to invest your money is through real estate. Below is a short list of why I have this opinion on real estate investing.

REASON ONE- Gain More Leverage

Real estate is one of the fewinvestment vehicles where using the bank’s money couldn’t be easier. The ability to make a down payment, leverage your capital, and thus increase your overall return on investment is incredible.

REASON TWO- Tax Free Cash Flow

It’s no secret that because of depreciation and mortgage interest deductions, your cash flow should be tax-free. That’s right! The far majority of the time an investor will never pay taxes on their cash flow and can wait for capital gains on the sale of the property in the future.

Reason Three- More Tax Deduction

Rental property affords investors with another incredible opportunity to convert personal expenses to potentially valid business deductions. Don’t forget that rental real estate is a business. This means that travel expenses to check on your properties and payments to family members who manage your properties can be deductible and increase the tax benefits when it comes to cash flow and the future sale of the property.

REASON FOUR- Rentals for Retirement

Americans are terrible savers. We lack the self-discipline to put a monthly deposit into our IRA, SEP or 401k as small-business owners. However, buying a rental property is a significant commitment that you are required to commit to and maintain. You will always be grateful in the long-run when you don’t give up on it and build future cash flow and wealth.

After Reading this short post you are probably thinking that investing in real estate is the best thing since sliced bread. Don’t get me wrong it can produce a huge amount of cash flow but there are also risks involved when investing (we will get to that on a post in the near future). If you are interested in finding some investment properties or are interested in talking to one of The Platinum Group from Keller Williams team members located in Jackson, NJ visit my website



4 Ways to Stop Being Late

Real Estate Home

In the Real Estate business being late should be part of your resume. I mean, last minute things always come up. Here are some ways that can help you to not be late as often:

1. Keep things where you can find them. We all know how important items such as your cell phone, car keys, certain files, or business cards are. If you keep them in the same spot every time you’ll always know exactly where they are when you have to go.

2. Always prepare the night before. If you have an early appointment the next day don’t put it off till the morning of. Chances are you’re going to hit your snooze button a few times that morning and putting your stuff together is going to be the last thing you want to do. Especially when your half sleeping.

3. Know the difference between “load time” and “leave time.” Sometimes you make yourself late, but sometimes life unexpectedly hits you. Example: you get a phone call from a client, or an agent wants to chat about a deal. It’s hard to interrupt or say no. That’s why “load time”—getting ready to leave—can be drastically different that the actual “leave time.”

4. Always keep a planner. Sometimes we run late because we lose track and start “last minute panicking”. If you have a planner or calendar you can easily keep track of all your real estate business plus personal life

Real Estate Time


Updates That Will Add Value to Your Home

  1. Indoor Systems – Unfortunately these are the things you don’t see in your home, but buyers want assurance these things are in perfect working order and won’t need to be fixed in the near future. Your major indoor systems include your plumbing and sewer systems, electrical wiring, heating and cooling units and vents. It is important all of these things are in great working order before doing any other updates. You can’t see them, but they add value to your home. Also, if you start another project first, you may realize you need new electrical or plumbing. If that happens, you could be in way over your head.
  2. Outdoor Projects – According to remodeling magazine, replacement projects will give you more added value that remodeling projects. These projects also add curb appeal, which is another thing that helps boost your home’s value. Consider adding a new garage door, new siding, new windows or a new front door. The ROI on replacing garage doors, siding, front doors and windows is almost 72%!
  3. Attic Bedroom - As far as getting the best return on your investment, adding an attic bedroom is the number one project. (According to Remodeling Magazine) You can expect up to a 72.5% return on the cost of adding your attic bedroom.
  4. An Additional Bathroom – Buyers love bathrooms! In 2011, bathrooms became more important to most buyers than kitchens. The addition of a bathroom, even a half-bath, adds significant value to your home according to the experts at the National Association of Home Builders. Remodeling magazine states that you will recoup almost 67% when you add an additional bathroom.
  5. Kitchen Updates – Kitchens are also very important to most buyers. They are the heart of the family, so anything you do to improve your kitchen should add value. Things to improve your kitchen would be new cabinetry, lighting, counter tops, matching appliances and new flooring. Stainless steel appliances are the most popular. Also do not add vinyl flooring, that makes your home look dated. Consider updating your flooring with laminate or tile. You could also sand and paint your cabinets if you are on a tight budget.
  6. Curb Appeal – Curb appeal is very important! It is the first impression of your home by any buyers! Unless they walk into your home blindfolded, they will see the outside first. See my other blog on boosting curb appeal.
  7. Finished Basement – Finished basements become fabulous extra rooms! They add useable square footage to your house, which of course adds value. Plus it can be anything you want! Do you want a Man Cave or sports den with a big screen TV and sports memorabilia? You could also have a game room with a pool table and bar. Are the kids loud and annoying? Give them a playroom downstairs where you can’t hear them!

One of the most important things to keep in mind when considering any home improvement project, don’t go overboard. The value of your home is partially determined by the value of your neighbor’s homes. So don’t make improvements that bring your home’s value significantly over the general value of other homes in your neighborhood or it could be a hard sell later.


Signs That it May be Time to Move

Has the thought of moving crossed your mind? Moving is no easy feat, but sometimes it’s necessary. So I put together a list of reasons that it may be time to move:

1. You have Out Grown Your Home

Is your family growing? Are you sick of waiting in line to use the bathroom every morning? One of the biggest reasons to buy a new home is to accommodate a growing family. The older your kids get, the more space they need for themselves as well.

2. Empty Nest

Have your kids all moved out? Do you walk into rooms and can’t even remember the last time you cleaned in there? Maybe your house is just too big for you now. Downsizing to a smaller home is a reason to sell.

3. Winter Thaw

Are you just tired of the cold winters and snow in New Jersey? Have you been looking online for houses in warmer climates? Maybe it is time to sell your house and move somewhere warmer. You just have to decide for yourself if you have hit your “freezing point.”

4. A Significant Other

If you are about to get married or move in with your significant other, it is probably time to move out of your cute little condo and into a real home. Your condo or home is probably perfect for you, but your closet is already filled. Where are they going to put their clothes? Moving in with a significant other is a great reason to move out of your place and get a new home.

5. The Upgrade

This is probably the most fun reason to get a new home. Things have been going great for you at work, you got a nice promotion or landed some more clients. You have been looking at upgraded kitchens online and watching HGTV drooling over these dream homes. Maybe it is time to move out and get your own dream home!

6. Retirement

Are you ready to retire? Can you afford the house you are in at retirement? Do you want to retire somewhere warmer? Retiring and down grading or retiring and moving somewhere with better weather, may be just what you need.

7. Tight finances

If you are stressing over utility bills, repairs or mortgages, it may be time to sell your house and get something more affordable. Stressing over bills is not a fun way to live. You may be a lot happier if you move somewhere else more affordable to you.

8. Seeking a Shorter Commute

Do you spend more time in the car than at your house? Is the long commute to work making you less and less motivated? If you have a long-term secure job, maybe it is time for you to move closer to work. You will notice you have a lot more free time and probably be much happier in the long run.

9. Time to Cash Out

After years of paying your mortgage and keeping up your home’s condition, you probably have built up equity. Ready to move some of that money into your cash and investment accounts? Selling and moving into a less expensive home can allow you to put that extra equity to work in other ways.

Credit Score

Get Better Buying Power With Your Credit Score

The best way to have great buying power when searching for a new home, is to have a great credit score. The better your credit score, the better your chances of getting a lower interest rate. You should watch your credit score regularly, so that you can fix any errors that occur as quickly as possible. If you know you have a great credit score, you will be much more confident when it comes time to purchase your next house.

There are a few ways you can improve your credit score and many future home buyers are doing this in preparation of buying a home. The most common way to improve your score is to pay down your debt. Another one is to always pay your bills on time. You could also keep a balance on a low interest rate credit card to help build a good credit history without spending too much in fees. You should also be in programs that protect your accounts from fraud or identity theft. Also, if you are planning to buy a home soon, do not open anymore credit card accounts. If you have too many accounts open, it will affect your credit score.

So if you are keeping an eye on your credit score and are taking these steps to improve your score, you will feel ready to buy a home when the time comes. Knowing your score and having a god score will give you plenty of buyer power. This will help you get preapproved faster and may give you the ability to close on a house faster than other buyers. If you end up in a bidding war or a situation where you are competing with multiple offers, this will give you the upper hand.