Spectacular new listing in Apple Ridge, Wall Township!

Super Storm Sandy may have redefined “home for the holidays” for many on the Jersey Shore. Sandy caused much devastation along the coast – people lost their homes, their belongings, their decorations. But the one thing Sandy couldn’t take from the people of the Jersey Shore was our spirit. Apparently, there’s nothing like a devastating storm to bring out the best in us: people helping people, cleaning the mess together, rebuilding side by side – some tears, many hugs, and a great deal of heart.

After the devastation, the people who could help jumped in – they didn’t stop to ponder what color people were, what level of education they completed, what income level they were at. They just helped whoever was in need. It was a most beautiful sight, and a tradition we can only hope will continue as the Shore is rebuilt.

Many will find that this particular holiday season will bring them wonderful memories like no other. For those that escaped Sandy’s wrath mostly unscathed, the devastation has presented an opportunity to really do some good – and it’s an amazing feeling to know that you were able to have a direct, positive impact on someone else’s life. Down trees became a backdrop for Christmas cards. Extra decorations were given to people who lost theirs in the storm. Town tree lightings have carried a different kind of warmth. Hugs have seemed so much more abundant.

The outpouring of love and care for neighbors has never been so evident. That, to me, is the true meaning of Christmas.

So, yes, “home for the holidays” will take on a whole new meaning at the Jersey Shore this year. Homes that withstood the storm will have extra places set for friends and family who did not fare as well. Many will give to others what they might have spent on themselves. Parties may not be as extravagant as in the past, but are sure to be more inclusive.

Hopefully, this will be a year where memories of the destruction of homes, boardwalks, and storefronts will quickly be replaced by lasting memories of kindness, love, and goodwill. And if home is where the heart is, for many home is at the Jersey Shore. We are Jersey Strong!


Merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year,
Barbara Scaffidi
Jersey Shore Specialist

Jersey Grille

This review was actually written during the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. As anyone who experienced the storm at the shore would know, there were long periods of time without power. People were scrambling to find working outlets to charge their phones, iPads, and laptops and in some areas people were stranded in their homes due to down power lines. When things started to loosen up a little, I really needed to eat a good meal – so I decided to go to Jersey Grille in Orchards at Wall Plaza.

I had been there before but I didn’t really challenge the chef – I just ordered a burger and fries (which turned out to be some of the best fries I’ve ever had). This time, I went in for lunch and checked out the dinner specials, deciding on the chicken parm over linguine. What they gave me was a meal that could have easily fed 2 people – if I wasn’t so hungry. It was a nice thick chicken cutlet covered in tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese, served with pasta and garlic bread. The entire meal was delicious! Just what I needed.

After I finished, the owner came over to our table to find out how we were doing after the storm. I told him we were still without power and heat, and he invited me to come in anytime to warm up, charge my phone, watch a game on the tv, or bring the kids to get them out if the house for awhile – without obligation to order anything. He was just looking for a way to help during the post-Sandy craziness, and was very sincere in his offer.

This restaurant is clean with excellent service, delicious entrées, and a great overall dining experience. They are a kid-friendly BYOB establishment, and they offer organic and gluten-free options. Their menu includes everything – awesome burgers, salmon burgers, chicken, meat, and fish specials – and their hospitality is unparalleled!

The Jersey Grille

There’s nothing like living near the beach – but with so many unique towns on the Jersey Shore, how do you choose which one is best for you? There are all sorts of questions to consider when deciding where to purchase a new home: Are you moving down the shore permanently, or are you looking for a beach house? Do you want a condo/townhome with no maintenance, or do you need a backyard to barbecue and a private pool? Do you have a boat that you need to dock in the backyard? Is it important that you are able to walk to the beach; the town? How about accessibility to NYC?

The answers to questions like these will help determine which town will suit you best.

If you want to be on the water without the responsibility of maintaining a home then Sea Bright, Monmouth Beach, and Long Branch offer the largest selection – and also the easiest commute to NYC. You can also find a few great properties in Bradley Beach, Belmar, Manasquan, and Brielle. If you want the ocean, Brielle is out – however, there are some beautiful complexes on the river. Do you have a pet? I’ve had clients tell me that they would “sooner give up their children than their pets,” but this will also your limit your choices because many condo complex bylaws have pet restrictions. If you want easy access to the river or you have a boat, kayak, or wave runner, then you need to look at places on the river or the bay.

There are many towns that will meet your needs, but here are my top picks based on which towns have the most properties to choose from:

There are unique qualities to all the many towns that make up the Jersey Shore. Contact me for some expert advice, and I’ll help you find the area where the home of your dreams is waiting.

Barbara Scaffidi
Jersey Shore Specialist

 

Pastaio in Spring Lake

Jersey Shore Restaurant Week is a promotion during which participating restaurants offer a 3-course meal for $20.12 or $30.12. It has allowed me to sample some of the area’s best restaurants, and since I’ve never been to Pastaio in Spring Lake, it seemed the perfect time to give it a try.

They did not create a separate Restaurant Week menu, but instead offered specific selections from their regular menu which, incidentally, changes weekly. There were 3 appetizers, 3 entrees, and 3 dessert options to choose from. The three of us dining each ordered one of the appetizers to share. The Crostini was a delicious blend of mozzarella spiedini, anchovies, capers, lemon, and pomodoro. We also had a salad of mixed spring greens, grape tomatoes, radishes, fig goat cheese, and chopped hazelnuts. And finally, we had the mozzarella tower. It was to die for.

We followed the mouth-watering appetizers with two incredible entrees. The wrapped spinach-stuffed chicken with shiitake mushrooms was delightful, but I now know why they call their Meatballs in a Pomodoro sauce with homemade pasta “World Famous!” It was a truly amazing experience. We finished the meal with three different flavors of gelato: pomegranate, mint chip, and toasted almond…a perfect end to a perfect meal.

Pastaio means “pasta maker” in Italian, so it’s only fitting that they make their own fresh pasta daily and focus on “locally grown, sustainable fresh ingredients.” And let me tell you – you can taste the difference. They also offer gluten-free pasta, and can accommodate a variety of different dietary needs. So, BYOB and get to downtown Spring Lake for a delicious meal in a serene setting!

Lubrano's

One of the hidden gems at the Jersey Shore is Lubrano’s Trattoria. One of the main reasons I call this a “hidden gem” is because if you don’t know better, you might dismiss it as just another pizza parlor – and while they do serve a large selection of delicious pizza, it is so much more. This family-owned restaurant, located in the Shoprite plaza on Route 34 in Manasquan, actually has some of the best Italian dishes in the area.

We were shown to a table where a warm loaf of rosemary bread and olive oil awaited us. There were many different salads to choose from, but I started my night with traditional mozzarella caprese: four slices of homemade cheese served with Roma tomatoes and seasoned with olive oil, basil, and vinegar. We then ordered a couple of appetizers for the table: Spicy Shrimp, Mussels Marinara, and Lobrano’s Cutting Board – a combination of Italian meats, cheeses and olives. All three dishes were delicious, and it was plenty of food for the 6 adults at the table to share.

Then, the main course – there were so many appealing options to choose from including pasta, fish, steak, and veal dishes as well as gluten-free options. I decided on the Steak Murphy: a NY strip steak in a spicy Murphy sauce and smothered in peppers, onions, and potatoes. This steak was cooked to perfection, and had the perfect spicy flavor. Also at our table were the salmon special, seafood Fra Diavolo, and a few of the pasta dishes – all of which looked and smelled awesome and were enjoyed to the last bite. After dinner, we enjoyed coffee, cappuccino, espresso, and traditional Italian desserts including cannolis, chocolate cake, and ice cream.

Overall, this was a great meal and an excellent dining experience. The only drawback is the wait – it’s difficult to get in on weekends and the service is also a little slow since the dining area is usually packed and all the meals are made freshly to order. The place is BYOB and very kid friendly. If you’re looking for great food at an unassuming and convenient location, look no further!

According to the S&P/Case-Schiller index, home prices have seen the biggest percentage gain in over two years. Mortgage rates and foreclosures have hit a record low and the job market is improving: these are great signs for our economy, but what do rising real estate prices mean for those who are in the market? Whether you’re trying to buy or sell, there are important things to consider.

Advice for buyers

We are probably as close to hitting bottom as anyone can truly predict, so chances are the longer you wait to buy, the higher the price you will have to pay. Also, good inventory is low right now – the longer you wait, the greater the chance you will be in a bidding war with other buyers. Mortgage rates are incredibly low right now too, so if you are qualified to buy there is no reason to wait. Although, historically, mortgage rates tend to affect prices rather than the other way around, as available real estate goes down and demand goes up it’s likely that mortgage rates will rise too. Also, deals can often be structured in such a way so that a portion of the buyer’s closing costs can be covered by the seller, leaving the buyer more disposable cash to pay for some immediate improvements on a home that they may want to make. In addition, all-cash buyers still have a brief window of opportunity to save even more: there is 3.8% real estate tax that kicks in as of January 1, so sellers may be willing to offer a deal to a buyer who can close in December in order to avoid this tax. As home prices continue to increase and mortgages do too, one way to save money is by buying sooner rather than later – a house you can afford today may soon be out of reach.

Advice for sellers

Buyers are out there buying right now – but stale, overpriced properties are still sitting. Sellers who recognize that they need to be realistic about pricing their homes are the ones who will successfully sell – and get the highest prices. Those who refuse to price their property correctly when first listing will ultimately have to sell for less than they could have gotten if they had priced their homes right in the first place. It’s the low mortgage rates and small amount of “attractive” inventory that is causing the increase in real estate prices – so it’s crucial to remember that it’s the realistically priced homes that are selling and attaining the increased prices. Also, it’s worth noting that there is a new real estate tax that takes effect January 1: sellers in higher income brackets will have to pay an additional 3.8% tax on the amount of money gained on the sale for gains over a specific threshold.

In the future, prices most likely will continue to rise – but at a slow, steady rate. It’s unlikely they will get back to the prices they were at the height of the market. If you’re buying, do it while mortgage rates and prices are still low; if you’re selling, remember that it is as important as ever to price your real estate correctly the first time around.