Spectacular new listing in Apple Ridge, Wall Township!

Hartshorne Mansion

It’s that time of the year: once again, the Visiting Nurse Association Health Group presents its Stately Homes by the Sea. This will be the fourth Stately Homes by the Sea Designer Showcase sponsored by the VNA Health Group. The VNAHG was founded in 1912 and is the largest voluntary non-profit home health, private care, hospice and community wellness association in NJ, caring for more than 120,000 individuals each year. Since its inception, the Show House has attracted more than 13,000 attendees to each home. Understandably, those in the design world find it to be a most coveted event.

This year’s Designer Show House is the Hartshorne Mansion in Little Silver. The home is also listed for sale by my esteemed company, Coldwell Banker. The historic home is an 8-bedroom, 11,000sf tudor-style estate situated on approximately 4.5 acres on the banks of the Shrewsbury River. The house was designed by renowned architect Roger Bullard, and built by Olympic medalist and world champion figure skater Harold Hartshorne in 1929. The amazing property comes complete with tennis court, pool, lush gardens, a dock with riparian grant, and a pond.

I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to preview the designer rooms at a black-tie-optional dinner dance held under a massive tent on the property this past Saturday night. It’s always enjoyable to tour the Show Homes, and this one was no different: more than 50 of the tri-state areas leading designers, decorators and landscape artists have brought their talents to individual rooms. My personal favorite was the blue and teal bedroom on the second floor. The colors were soothing and cool, and the designer even color coordinated her outfit to the room – loved it!

The formal was also a lot of fun. The cocktail hour included a delicious array of hors d’oeuvres and signups for a silent auction. We then entered the main area of the event, where there was a 15 piece band. The dinner started with an auction, including items such as swimming lessons for two with Ryan Lochte. In true form, I did a lot of talking – and as I am very animated and normally speak with my hands, I found I needed to actually sit on them to avoid unknowingly purchasing some very expensive items.

We were then treated to a touching story about the home from its owner. He talked about how much he and his family loved the home, but with the children growing up they no longer had a need for such a large space. The house was on the market and had a buyer – but just as they were supposed to close, Sandy hit. You guessed it…the home took a beating, and the buyers walked away. He had an agreement to host the VNA event, but didn’t think the home could ever be ready on time. Well against all odds, the home was not only ready on time for the event – but it looked spectacular. That seems to be the way at my beloved Jersey Shore…everyone pitches in to rebuild and make things happen.

Now, you too can tour this magnificent estate. Starting today, April 30th and running through June 9th, the home is open for tour Tuesday-Sunday 10am-4pm. Tickets are $35 general admission and $25 for seniors, with all proceeds going to the VNA. Make a day of it with lunch at the Show House Café – you won’t regret any time spent on this beautiful property. If you decide you don’t want to leave, contact me to learn more about purchasing this gorgeous home! Additional information about the VNA, visiting the property, and even beautiful photos and a detailed floor plan can be found here.

If you are not getting many showings, or if you’ve had a number of people look at your property but no offers, your realtor needs to evaluate the situation. The first thing the listing agent should do is to re-run the comps . Are you sure you are priced competitively? Establishing the right price is key to selling a home. However, pricing is not an exact science so the listing needs to be continuously monitored.

While price is often the reason that a house won’t sell, there are also many other factors that come into play. A good realtor will have access to data that allows them to monitor a home’s activity and that lets them make proactive changes to get the most money for a home in the quickest amount of time.

Sometimes the listing can become stale:

The description may need some tweaking. Make sure your description adequately describes the main benefits of the property. Identify the positives of the property and be sure to accentuate those qualities in the listing. For example, “generous room sizes” or “wonderful outdoor space” are great words to throw into a listing – if they are true, of course. It’s also very important not to over-exaggerate a home’s qualities. If you make a home sound much better in the description than it truly is, people will be disappointed when they get to the home and find that “amazing water views” can only be achieved if you stretch your body and lean over the balcony at just the right angle without falling off. When the written description does not meet the buyers’ expectations, it will cause them to devalue the home more than they should.

Photos may need to be retaken. With a large percentage of homebuyers scouring the internet before calling their realtor, the right photos are of utmost importance. Photos will date a listing : for instance, if you originally listed the property after a big snowstorm but now it is three months later and Spring has sprung, be sure to take a new picture with the tulips adorning the front porch. If you change something important in the home, retake the photo of that room. You changed it up for a reason – make sure you document it in a photo. And DON’T include photos that are not flattering simply because you were told that the more pictures you have online, the better – remember, often less is more. No one needs to see photos of your toilet – unless it is some sort of state-of-the–art device, in which case refer to “The description may need some tweaking” above.

Listen to what buyers are saying about the home. A good realtor will get feedback after every showing. This feedback will help them give you advice on things you can do to make your home more appealing – sometimes making small changes makes all the difference. For example, I had a great listing: the home was in a great neighborhood, had a great floor plan, and was maintained exceptionally well by the original owners…but decoratively, it was a little dated. The feedback I was getting was that prospective buyers felt the home required too much work.

Now, I knew the home was in great move-in condition, in a great neighborhood. But I also knew the home did not have the decorative upgrades buyers might be looking for. There were no granite counters or stainless steel appliances in the kitchen. There was carpet where they might desire hardwood floors. The home was priced for the lack of decorative upgrades – if the home had all of these qualities, it would have been priced much higher. These were all easy, decorative fixes that did not entail “too much work.” To me, “too much work” means the kitchen needs to be gutted – not that some walls need to be painted a different color. So after listening to the feedback, I knew changes needed to be made so buyers’ perception met reality: We needed to “un-date” the home somehow.

This home has a large kitchen with a deep pantry, great counter space, and lots of cabinets – but I needed a visual of what it could look like with granite counters, stainless steel appliances, and white cabinets so I could show buyers what just a little bit of work would do. I had a kitchen remodeling company measure the space and give me a rendition of what it would look like with these simple decorative upgrades. Here’s what I now have to show prospective buyers:

There was a little too much clutter in the living room, so I removed many of the items that were dating the space and strategically replaced them with some updated items. I moved some furniture around, and then added a couple of mirrors to reflect light and give it some depth.

Finally, the one major project I felt the sellers really needed to invest in was removing the outdated flowered wallpaper from the dining room and replacing it with a neutral color. We picked a great shade, and they found a painter who did a fantastic job for $500. It completely transformed the look of the dining room.

Some other minor changes were made to two of the upstairs bedrooms. One of the rooms had a couple of large desks that were perceptually stunting the size of the room, so I asked the sellers to remove them. The buyers would now see that this was a large, bright bedroom.

The bed in one of the rooms had a flowered bedspread which made the room appear dark. I replaced it with crisp, white sheets, laid a blue comforter on top, and then added some artwork that complemented the colors in the comforter and the pillows. I also changed the peach lamp shades to pure white ones. The result was the beautiful, bright room that had been hiding under all the flowers.

So without a lot of money and without a lot of changes, we were able to transform the home from “too much work” to “could use some updating, but we can move right into this great home, on this great lot, in this great neighborhood, and make the decorative changes in our own time.”

I am happy to report that we received an accepted offer within days of making these changes.

Sneakers from Miles Ahead

Have you ever had a great shopping experience – when you go into a store and they have exactly what you want, and the people in the store are friendly, knowledgeable and helpful? I had that experience yesterday. I needed a pair of running shoes – I have never been a runner, so I didn’t really know what I was looking for. All I knew was that my feet and legs hurt from running in my current sneakers. So I did a little research and found Miles Ahead Sports on Route 35 in the Sea Girt Square in Wall. I have purchased sneakers from them in the past, but they changed locations and this was my first visit to their new place. When I purchased from them in the past, I basically bought sneakers that looked good and fit well but now I need sneakers that will help me run more comfortably.

I entered the store and told the salesperson what I was looking for. I expected, as had been my experience in other shoe stores, that he would ask my size (perhaps measure me), and bring me a pair of sneakers that he deemed suitable. Well, I found out immediately that this was going to be a different experience.

The first thing he did was have me walk around without shoes so he could see the way my feet are shaped. It turns out that I have what is called a “high arch.” Who knew? He also discovered that my feet are wider than normal. At that point, he went into the back and came out with 6 pairs of running shoes. As I tried them on, he took the time to explain to me the differences between each pair. I had no idea that so much went into selecting a running shoe! I tried them all on – more than once. I even tried them on with one shoe on one foot and a different model on the other, just to try and feel the subtle differences between them. I finally decided on a pair that may just be the most comfortable running shoes I have ever owned – very light with great support.

Overall, I was in the store for about 40 minutes. The salesperson took his time to make sure I got exactly what I needed. I am so happy with my purchase experience that I don’t think that I will ever be able to buy sneakers anywhere else ever again! Best of all, it didn’t cost me any more money to shop there than it would have if I had gone to the mall. To sum it all up…I got a great pair of sneakers, at a great price, from a knowledgeable salesperson, at a local store. I had a top-notch experience and supported my local community all at the same time!

Home with a pool

I get asked all the time if a pool adds value to a home. The answer is yes…and no. I know, a very noncommittal answer. But the truth is, whether a pool adds value to a home is a very subjective one. In other words, it’s only worth what someone is willing to pay for it.

If a buyer has no interest in a pool, he/she is going to place zero value on it. In fact, the buyer who has no interest in a pool may be so opposed to a pool that he/she will never look at your home at all. That’s okay though – they’re not your buyers.

You may find that there’s a buyer who doesn’t really care if there is a pool or not. That buyer may have an interest in your home, but will not assign any extra value to the pool when deciding on the offer price.

Then you have the buyers who have to either have a pool or a property large enough to add their own. Even these buyers, though, may not add a price value to the home. For the buyer who wants a pool – or doesn’t care if there is one – there are additional factors that help determine value.

Lot Size

Does the pool take up the majority of the backyard? Even people who want a pool typically want some yard space as well. So if the pool uses the bulk of the outdoor space, this can actually detract from the value.

Condition and Landscaping

It goes without saying: just like the home itself, a pool that is in poor condition from lack of maintenance will take away from the value. The condition of items extraneous to the pool, like landscaping and fencing, will also impact the value. If a home has a beautifully maintained pool with great landscaping (maybe even a waterfall), value will be added to the home.

However, it is important to note: even a pool that may add value will not command even close to the value that it costs to install it. According to the National Association of Realtors National Center for Real Estate Research, “An in-ground swimming pool adds about eight percent to value while an above-ground pool adds no value.”

My recommendation is that you shouldn’t think of a pool as an investment – you will never get out of it what you put into it. But if you want a pool for your own personal enjoyment, I say go ahead…live a little! Just know that you are doing it for yourself and not to enhance the value of your property. And, like anything else in your home, be sure to maintain it.

D'Jais Dance Floor

Nothing says summer in Belmar like D’Jais on Ocean Ave! This iconic night spot has been a staple for vacationers and locals alike since 1959 – it’s the place to go when you get off the beach and want to grab a quick bite and a cocktail. They have a full lunch and dinner menu with outdoor seating overlooking the ocean, but that’s not typically what people think about when they think about D’Jais. It’s the nightlife that’s most memorable: this legendary dance club has been the hot spot at the Jersey shore for over 50 years! All summer long the club has the best beats to dance to into the night. They have a couple of huge bars and, of course, their dance floor.

How many people can remember clocking in hours of pure fun on D’Jais dance floor? Well, it is exactly this dance floor that I want to tell you about. When Super Storm Sandy devastated Belmar, D’Jais was unfortunately not spared – and neither was that famous dance floor. But in the process of their total remodel, they are giving back to the community. Now, you can own a piece of Jersey Shore history. D’Jais is offering the opportunity to buy a piece of the dance floor for $25.00, and they are donating the proceeds to Belmar Hurricane Sandy Relief and Recovery.

Isn’t that a fantastic idea? I started spending my summer nights at D’Jais in the late 1980s – the chance to own a piece of the very same dance floor that I danced on all those years ago is too good to pass up! Aside from all of the great memories it will bring back every time I look at it, I will also have the opportunity to support my beloved Jersey Shore. The best way to get your piece of the historic dance floor is to visit their website. I just bought mine and can’t wait for it to arrive!

I have no doubt that D’Jais will come back better than ever this summer – but while we wait for the conclusion of the construction, you can help the community by purchasing this piece of Jersey Shore history!

9th ave pier restaurant

Last summer, The 9th Ave. Pier Restaurant in Belmar opened its doors. It was a great place to sit by the water and enjoy a meal or just have a cocktail – until Hurricane Sandy washed it away. Well last week it reopened, totally rebuilt and better than ever! This is further proof that the Jersey Shore is coming back strong.

Located on the pier next to the party boats, The 9th Ave. Pier has something for everyone. It has a large bar and tables that overlook the Shark River, and this year they even opened up a miniature golf course – something Belmar has been missing since they closed down the rooftop mini golf.

If you have never been there, they have a very different way of ordering your meal. The waitress brings you menus and your beverages and then you go up to the counter where you order and pay. They give you a number to put on your table, and bring your food to you when it is ready. Afterwards, you get a separate check for your drinks. I know – it sounds like a lot of work! But it really isn’t a big deal, and it is actually sort of fun.

Lunch at the 9th ave pier restaurant

The menu has a list of starters a mile long – wings, mozzarella sticks, fries, and even fried pickles. You will have no problems finding something that you will like. They also have a raw bar featuring clams, oysters and shrimp. The 9th Ave Pier Restaurant also has great sandwiches – my personal favorite is the crab cake sandwich, a homemade crab cake with a roasted red pepper sauce served on a soft bun. If you like crab, this is the only way to go. They also have a large selection of fried baskets including shrimp, clams, chicken tenders and crab cakes. If you are looking for some real boardwalk favorites, 9th Ave Pier has that covered also: Cheesesteaks, hot dogs, burgers, and my favorite- sausage and peppers.

The 9th Ave Pier is a kid-friendly place in a great location with a little something for everyone!

Jersey Shore Restaurant Week

This past Tuesday, the tradition continued as the Circus Drive-In on Route 35 in Wall opened its doors. The Circus Drive-In has been opening every spring for the last 59 years. If you have never been to the Circus, you don’t know what you are missing! At this old fashioned drive-in, you pull into a parking spot and stay in your car as the waitress brings you a menu, puts a tray on your half-opened window, and then brings your food out to you. I prefer the car service for the pure novelty, but if that is not your style they also offer a sit-down restaurant.

The Circus Drive-In’s menu is sure to please the whole family. They have a long list of starters including spicy wings, pizza bagels, mozzarella sticks, and a whole lot more. If you are looking for something on the lighter side they have a selection of fresh and delicious salads – make sure you try the Mexicali, a bed of crisp lettuce covered in tortilla chips, chili, cheese, and tomatoes.

If it is a sandwich that you crave, they have everything you can think of – from wraps to grilled cheese and everything in between. My favorite is their pulled pork sandwich, served on a fresh roll. If you are in the mood for seafood, the Circus Drive-In has that covered as well. They offer a large selection of fried seafood platters, but my personal favorite is their New England style lobster roll: fresh lobster salad served on a hot dog bun. But what would a drive-in be without burgers, hot dogs, fries, and milk shakes? The Circus Drive-In offers all the traditional drive-in favorites.

Besides the great food and fun atmosphere, the Circus has a couple of special events which are open and free to the public. They have three classic car nights, when people from miles around invade the Jersey shore just to show off their classic hot rods. If you love classic cars, these events shouldn’t be missed. They also have two clown nights – a couple of very funny clowns come in to entertain children and adults alike.

The Circus Drive-In is a rare find in this day and age, and a visit is sure to evoke fun images of poodle skirts and rock-n-roll. So, what are you waiting for?

Happy Easter from Barbara Scaffidi, Jersey Shore Specialist

All around the world, Easter weekend brings bunnies, Easter egg hunts, and bonnets. This weekend at the Jersey Shore was no different – except that there’s always the added fun of the beach! Our bunnies donned sunglasses, the Easter eggs were hidden in the sand, and more people wore flip flops than bonnets.

This is the weekend the Jersey Shore begins readying for the summer season. And despite initial fears that Superstorm Sandy would crush our 2013 summer, our Spring events went off without a hitch.

Jenkinson’s boardwalk in Point Pleasant Beach took quite a beating from Sandy, but she didn’t win: their annual two-for-one ride ticket sale – held every Easter weekend – was up and running as usual. Saturday brought A Hoppin’ Hunt…candy, stickers, and prizes were hidden beneath the sand. Jenkinson’s South Beach Arcade re-opened with all new machines and their Facebook page broadcasted “Sorry Sandy…We’re Back!”

image from Jenkinson's Facebook

Pier Village in Long Branch held their annual Easter egg hunt in Festival Plaza. Children of all ages enjoyed fun activities on the oceanfront, with an appearance from the Easter Bunny himself.

Belmar’s Easter Egg Hunt took place on the 1st Avenue beach on Saturday, just 5 months after Sandy destroyed the town’s boardwalk. Thousands of plastic-filled eggs were hidden in the sand for the children to search for. It was a wonderful event that a few months ago, many would have never believed possible.

Even Manasquan was prepared with beach-themed festivities. “Miracle on Main Street,” a large-scale fundraiser for rebuilding Manasquan, began early on Saturday with Easter themed games, hula hooping, Lulu the Clown, and prizes for the children. Late afternoon and into the evening, the fun turned to the adults with a bar crawl through Manasquan, Brielle, Spring Lake, Sea Girt and Spring Lake Heights. Presented by Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out, participating bars/restaurants had live entertainment and a free buffet.

Despite Superstorm Sandy, this summer at the Jersey Shore proves to be just as memorable as ever – contact me today for your perfect beach home or seasonal rental. There’s still time to close for the start of the summer season!