General Real Estate Information

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Thinking about starting a home search or selling your home soon? The 2016 real estate season is upon us, and if you are anticipating a home search, or selling a property, here are some top tips to help you navigate the real estate market in your area this spring and summer.



While you might be inclined to get into a bidding war over your dream home (the market is pretty competitive), don’t overspend to the point where if the market stabilizes your home will have an overly inflated price and make it difficult to resell in the future. If you plan on living in the property for a long time, then paying a high price isn’t a bad thing, but it’s a good idea to set a limit on how high you’re willing to bid for a home.


If you’re already looking into purchasing a home or property, and you know you’ll need a mortgage, you should already be shopping for a loan. Buyers with a mortgage pre-approval are a step above those that haven’t even looked into loans. You can also help your purchase game by having fewer contingencies or conditions that affect the purchase. If you can start your home search with some of your bases covered, and the ability to be flexible, you’ll already be far ahead of those just entering the real estate race.


While we all dream of buying a brand new home, complete with absolutely no projects, it’s not always realistic in our market place.  If you are fortunate enough to be able to purchase new, it is quite common for brand new construction to have issues. The reality is that builders can and do cut corners, and the last thing you want is to invest your money into a brand new home only to find out that certain things were not completed 100 percent. If you’re looking to buy new construction, it’s not a bad idea to hire an independent inspector to make sure your new home is up to all current building codes and standards.


While you might find a home that is the perfect price for your budget, beware of the hidden costs that come along with buying a property. You may or may not have a mortgage, but you will have yearly property taxes that will either be monthly payments or a large payment once a year. If you do need a mortgage, you can expect an origination fee, and depending on the amount of your down payment or you credit rating, you can also expect to pay private mortgage insurance. You can also expect fees by way of the home inspection, appraisal, and in some communities there will be monthly HOA fees.


Many buyers have a specific neighborhood, town or city picked out before they begin their property search. With the our local real estate market being as competitive as it is for buyers, know your market area and avoid losing out on the house of your dreams by under bidding.



The local real estate market is being called a seller’s market, meaning there are more people trying to buy houses and properties than there are actual properties to buy. Because of this, as a seller, you can play to your advantages: you can likely get away with not paying closing costs; you can dictate the terms of the sale and any contingencies a buyer might have; you can entertain multiple offers and choose the best one for you. But in all of this,you still need to be realistic when pricing your home based on condition, don’t try to price your property outside of your area — you want to sell your home, not keep it on the market forever.


If you’re considering selling your property, there are two room updates almost every buyer appreciates: kitchens and bathrooms. If you have the time and money to invest in updating these two areas of your home, try a basic face lift (you don’t need to go overboard!). Add some fresh paint, clean up the cabinets, and install new lighting or hardware. Make the kitchen and bathrooms pop: buyers always react best to a fresh, clean and clutter free kitchen and bathroom.


You might be considering selling your home or property — have you started your property search yet? With the market being as competitive as it is, it’s a good idea to start your property search when you put your own property on the market, and sometimes even before. You don’t want your home to sell before you have a place picked out. If you do find yourself in a bind, you can always work with your agent to make the closing period longer. Whatever you decide to do, make sure you start your property search as soon as possible

The month of April showed a rise in house sales over March of 2%. The average days of Randolph homes on the market that sold last month were 55 days. The average sale price to list price, SP/LP, for these homes was 98%.  We continue to see inventory rise as we head deeper into the spring market, we are also seeing homes receive offers within the first week, most of them receiving multiple offers. There are currently 151 Active homes on the market, which is considerably lower than past years at this time. With interest rates still low, it is a great time to buy or sell your home. Below are the closed sales for Randolph for the month of April.

Please check in monthly for the RANDOLPH MONTHLY MARKET UPDATE.


imagesIt seems as though in the past few years gardening and backyard farms have become more and more popular throughout the United States with more people want to partake in the farm to table lifestyle. With spring quickly approaching in the northern hemisphere, many homeowners throughout the U.S. will take to the outdoors with the intention of sprucing up winter-wrecked yards. While many homeowners will concentrate on their yard, many others will focus on their backyard gardens. Traditionally, a garden is assumed to be a place to grow fruits and vegetables, but gardens can take on a many different looks and styles. Whether mainly for food, or for the beauty and aroma only flowers can produce, home gardens have a number of benefits for homeowners, and should you consider giving your yard a revamp this spring, consider adding a garden or a small garden area to your outdoor space.


Gardens, whether for the joy of flowers or for fruits and vegetables, come in a number of shapes and sizes. While providing a great sensory experience and a way to reconnect to the natural world around us, gardens also help to keep the body limber and improve overall mood. A study done in the Netherlands suggests that the relaxing nature of gardening can help fight stress, and a study in Norway found that people who suffered from depression and other mood disorders showed measurable improvements in their symptoms after three months of gardening (where six hours per week were spent in the garden). If you’re not interested in the potential health benefits of gardening, adding plants and flowers to your yard is a great way of updating a meager outdoor space and makes a backyard more enticing to potential buyers from additional textures, scents and organization. Also, adding touches of color by way of plants and flowers is an excellent way of improving curb appeal should you consider putting your home on the market in the coming months.


Don’t have time for an outdoor garden, or are you lacking a space large enough for a garden? There are a number of alternatives to bring the joy of gardening into your home or life. A very popular option that has popped up around the U.S. is community gardens. Located throughout communities from the east to the west, community gardens have helped provide a place of retreat from urban areas plagued by noise, or for those individuals who want a relaxing place to go to when they have free time. Community gardens provide a number of benefits, from a place for recreation and exercise, to providing health benefits by easing stress and helping to improve overall mood. Studies have also shown that those who participate in a community garden generally eat healthier, more nutrient dense diets, and a community garden helps to create and foster relationships throughout a community.


Another option for those who don’t have a yard or outdoor area large enough for a traditional garden is a container garden. Another trend gaining popularity throughout the U.S., container gardens allow homeowners to have small gardens in tight spaces. Plants (which can be anything from traditional flowers and shrubs to fruits, vegetables and herbs) are placed in containers, usually one plant per container, and allow the gardener the ability to choose specific plants for their needs and wants. Only interested in succulents, or just interested in plants that require little water and maintenance? A container garden is a great option. Container gardens can range from small to robust, and they provide an excellent alternative to a traditional garden. Other popular options for ‘alternative’ gardens are hanging gardens and indoor gardens. These gardens can be fully indoors and very much take on a container garden feel. Container gardens can also help add pops of color to porches and patios, and they are a great way of adding appeal to drab areas for potential home viewings.


Do you feel particularly adventurous when it comes to adding a garden or outdoor feature? If you have the time, resources and space, consider a backyard farm. Chickens have become a popular backyard feature throughout the U.S., in both urban and rural communities. Chickens can provide a number of benefits to a yard or outdoor area: they act as natural pest control; they produce eggs; they will eat table scraps as well as weeds and garden clippings, and chicken manure is also considered one of the best fertilizers for gardens due to its high nitrogen, potassium and phosphorous content. While not for every homeowner, backyard chickens can be fun for every member of a household.

Putting a price tag on a home you’re trying to sell is a tricky thing. For one, it’s your home, crammed full of memories, hopes, and dreams—and all that stuff can cloud your thinking and lead you toward the wrong price. There are consequences: Shoot too high, and your home could languish on the market for months and maybe not sell at all. Price it too low and you could bilk yourself out of a whole lot of dough.

That’s why we’re here to guide you through this tough but critical decision.  Read on to pinpoint a price that’s just right.

Repeat after me: What you paid doesn’t matter

You may have a dollar figure in mind—perhaps based on what you paid originally, add the money you put in for repairs and updates, plus a little extra. Because homes appreciate, right? Maybe yes, maybe no. While a hefty increase in value is nice in theory—and in general, it’s expected to be a seller’s market this year—“ultimately, it’s up to the market.” The market dictates the price, not the seller or the realtor but the combined influences of the market.

Think of it this way: Would you buy a banana for $1 if those same bananas were on sale down the block for 69 cents? Of course not! And, of course, a home ain’t no banana.

No matter what you paid for your home, market values fluctuate—both up and down. This can work for you or against you. But all that matters on the open market is what buyers are willing to pay now.

Use all your tools: Comps, AVMs, and your Realtor®

The best way to get a handle on your home’s sales price are the prices of similarly sized homes in your neighborhood—otherwise known as “comparables,” or “comps.” For example, if a house near yours with the same square footage and numbers of bedrooms and bathrooms, and in similar condition, sold for $230,000 within the past three months, you can bet your own price will be in that ballpark.

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For a quick snapshot, several websites (including this one) offer automated valuation models, or AVMs, where you type in your address and then get a price based on an algorithm that factors in comps in your area. But AVMs are just a starting point.

No one has actually put eyes on your house, so an AVM can’t really give you an accurate price. That’s why you need your Realtor to visit your home, so she can factor in your home’s unique strengths and weaknesses along with comps to come to a better estimate.

When your Realtor tells you a price, check it. Ask her how she came up with the amount, and look into the comps in your area yourself. Once you’re able to pore over the info, you’ll be able to see a price range for yourself, so you won’t feel like you’re just having to blindly trust your Realtor.

Factor in upgrades with a grain (or two) of salt

Yep, you poured $25,000 into your brand-new chef’s kitchen, or $35,000 to install an in-ground swimming pool. Sweet! So it stands to reason that you’d make that money back when you sell, right? Well, not quite. Surveys by the National Association of Realtors® show that your return on investment for home improvements depends on what kind of renovation you’ve pulled off—and how much prospective buyers want it in your area. Refinishing hardwood floors, for instance, will reap a 100% return, paying for itself. Convert a basement to a living area, and you’ll recoup only 69% of those costs. The harsh truth: Not everyone is going to fall head over heels with your five-seat built-in hot tub.So do your research and find out what those upgrades will really get you.

Leave some wiggle room

Most buyers love to negotiate when you’re trying to sell your house. So it helps to let them win one. Instead of starting out with the absolute lowest price you can afford to go, add a bit of a cushion. How much? Crouch says you should round off your asking price in $5,000 increments. “It’s just how people think”. So if you know you want $347,000 for your house, you can play it safe and round up to $350,000. Keep in mind that we have been are currently in a sellers market in Randolph and in the past week, while putting in 3 separate contracts on homes in town, I have encountered 3 multiple offer situations! Price and condition are the reason why these homes are so desirable.

Price with Internet browsing in mind

Once you find yourself a ballpark price you’re happy with, it’s time to fine-tune it. Keep shoppers’ online search parameters firmly in mind—small differences in your price can spell a big difference in your exposure.

Home buyers typically fill out a Web form that has a minimum price and maximum price. If you’re a dollar outside of that range it is going to be like your house didn’t exist—they’ll never see it. In other words: Price your home at $300,000, and you could miss out on a whole lot of people who are searching in the $250,000–$299,999 price range. So if you’re on the cusp, consider rounding down to capture more eyeballs. Remember what we said about padding? It cuts both ways.

 Randolph, NJ

Is it really March 2016 already?  For those of you who happen to be planning on buying a home in the new year—or even just trying to—there’s a whole lot to celebrate. Why? A variety of financial vectors have dovetailed to make this the perfect storm for home buyers to get out there and make a (winning) offer. Here are six home-buying reasons to be thankful this year:

Reason No. 1: Interest rates are still at record lows

Even though they may creep up at any moment, it’s nonetheless a fact that interest rates on home loans are at historic lows, with a 30-year fixed-rate home loan still hovering around 4%.

“Remember 18.5% in the ’80s?” It is likely that we’ll never see interest rates this low again. So while prices are high in some markets, the savings in interest payments could easily amount to hundreds of thousands of dollars over the life of the mortgage.

Reason No. 2: Rents have skyrocketed

Another reason home buyers are lucky is that rents are going up, up, up! (This, on the other hand, is a reason not to be thankful if you’re a renter.) In fact, rents outpaced home values in 20 of the 35 biggest housing markets in 2015. What’s more, according to the2015 Rental Market Report, 88% of property managers raised their rent in the past 12 months, and an 8% hike is predicted for 2016.

In most metropolitan cities, monthly rent is comparable to that of a monthly mortgage payment, sometimes more,  Doesn’t it make more sense to put those monthly chunks of money into your own appreciating asset rather than handing it over to your landlord and saying goodbye to it forever?

Reason No. 3: Home prices are stabilizing

For the first time in years, prices that have been climbing steadily upward are stabilizing, restoring a level playing field that helps buyers drive a harder bargain with sellers, even in heated markets.

Local markets vary, but generally we are experiencing a cooling period and currently in our Randolph market we are in a sellers market, with many homes seeing multiple offers!

Reason No. 4: Down payments don’t need to break the bank

Probably the biggest obstacle that prevents renters from becoming homeowners is pulling together a down payment. But today, that chunk of change can be smaller, thanks to a variety of programs to help home buyers. For instance, the new Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac Home Possible Advantage Program allows for a 3% down payment for credit scores as low as 620.

Reason No. 5: Mortgage insurance is a deal, too

If you do decide to put less than 20% down on a home, you are then required to have mortgage insurance (basically in case you default). A workaround to handle this, however, is to take out a loan from the Federal Housing Administration—a government mortgage insurer that backs loans with down payments as low as 3.5% and credit scores as low as 580. The fees are way down from 1.35% to 0.85% of the mortgage balance, meaning your monthly mortgage total will be significantly lower if you fund it this way. In fact, the FHA predicts this 37% annual premium cut will bring 250,000 first-time buyers into the market. Why not be one of them?

Reason No. 6: You’ll reap major tax breaks

Tax laws continue to favor homeowners, so you’re not just buying a place to live—you’re getting a tax break! The biggest one is that unless your home loan is more than $1 million, you can deduct all the monthly interest you are paying on that loan. Homeowners may also deduct certain home-related expenses and home property taxes.

So what are you waiting for, take advantage of these great reasons to own a piece of the American Dream!

Daylight Saving Time begins Sunday, March 13th. Set your clocks ahead one hour the night before and you’ll be right on time Sunday morning. This is also a great opportunity to take the time to replace your smoke alarm batteries and test your home fire extinguishers. I hope this reminder was helpful to you. Please don’t hesitate to contact me at any time should you need assistance or wish to pass on a referral.


Millennials and young Gen X’ers are flocking to bigger cities to be close to the action. But with the rising cost of city living, they’re being forced to either pay a premium for rent or find affordable housing outside of the city.
These first-time homebuyers aren’t just migrating to any suburb. They’re looking for amenity-rich suburbs that have more of an urban feel with restaurants, nightspots, entertainment, stores and public transportation – all within walking or biking distance.

They aren’t interested in sinking every hard-earned penny into their house. They prefer smaller, more modest single-family homes and want to allow room in their budget for other things they find important, like travel. And the suburbs are just the place for them to find this.

A shorter commute between home and work is also very important, and contrary to what many may think, the suburbs represent a major share of the jobs base. In fact, in the top 40 metro areas, 84% of all jobs are outside of the center-city core.

Plus, suburbs also typically offer better quality school systems and a safer setting than major metropolitan cities, making them even more ideal for younger families.

To capitalize on this increased demand and make themselves even more appealing, many suburbs will be investing more in their downtown commerce areas and expanding their public transportation offerings.

Randolph, NJ is a great place and is attracting many of these homebuyers because of it’s proximity to Morristown and the train system and also its easy access to New York City. Though we are a large town at approximately 25 sq miles we are a SMALL community with so much to offer!

Moving or ……Entering into a world of psychoses

It all begins with a decision to move.  Simple. Easy. Effortless.

You do some research to find the best realtor that you can find with the hopes of making as much money as possible on your life long investment. Afterall…this is the money that you will be using for your retirement. You’re energized and excited! You know that your house is worth $850,000 but the market seems to have just turned.  According to the “comps”, your house is now only worth $660,000. After three days of depression and living in a coma-like state, you somehow rationalize all of this. You meet again with the realtor and take a powerful stand,  stating that “we will NOT go 1 penny below $670,000”. The realtor agrees and  we will discover that this will be  the only moment in the process…where I will feel like a victor!

After the meeting with the realtor, it is determined that the house needs to be “prepped” for showing so that you can make as much money as possible (as close to the $670,000 as possible). Afterall, you can’t show a house that doesn’t “show well”.

So, you begin with hiring a painter to remove all of the expensive wallpaper that your decorator had chosen. Then, you have to have all of the walls painted a “neutral” color. Mind you, not white…that is too sterile. It has to be something “potterybarn ish”  like GInger, or lemon grass or Jute from the Ralph Lauren collection. This way, the buyers won’t be too put off by the distraction of the colors and they will have a better idea of what colors they will paint the house when they move in.

Now you realize that the floors don’t match the Ginger walls that you just had painted and the house isn’t going to “show well”. So, you decide to take the plunge and put new carpet in the house even though no one likes carpet. Everyone seems to need hard wood floors. We are already $6,000 in the hole and hard wood floors would eat too much $$ from our life long investment. I hate hardwood floors and I’m beginning to hate people.

Wallpaper off, rooms painted, carpet installed, $2,000 of mulch put down, new plants planted, and house professionally cleaned, you are now ready to put the house on the market.

The hard work is over!



It hasn’t even begun.

The phone rings. A realtor will be over in 2 hours to show the house.  Huh? It’s 6PM and we just sat down to eat. We shovel the food in our mouth, clean the kitchen and get the hell out of the house. Where are we going to go at this hour in the middle of the week? So, we circle around our neighborhood. Someone calls the police because they see a suspicious car “cruising” this residential area. We explain to the police that we are driving around because a realtor is showing our house and we are not allowed inside.

As it turned out, the buyers didn’t like the “ginger” walls or carpet, but the good news is that we didn’t get arrested.

This ordeal goes on with great intensity during the first week that the house hits the market. I suppose that it’s good news that so many realtors are walking their buyers through. Then…..we get that phone call that has been so greatly anticipated. There is a buyer that is VERY interested in the house and they want to make an offer.  They want to offer $610,000 for the house. THAT’S $60,000 LESS THAN WE LISTED IT FOR”.  Apparently, they also weren’t crazy about the “Ginger” paint color, but they would make a concession for $60,000 less than the asking price. Anyway…thank you, but no thank you.

The very next day, we got an offer for the asking price.  Well…that is…the asking price based upon the “comps” with the downturn in the market.  I felt like I was giving my child away for FREE!  So be it…..It’s over. It’s done. Life goes on. At least we won’t be getting anymore last minute phone calls from realtors. At least we won’t have to keep our house so neat and clean. Who lives like that? We like to live with a mess. In fact, we only clean up when we have company…which thankfully isn’t too often.

Some contracts to be signed, and deposits to be made. Phew! I’m glad that’s over.



There is the inspection process. The buyers found some guy that does house inspections. THis individual is an EXPERT in plumbing, electrical, masonry, landscaping, cooking, astronomy, neuroscience, chimneys, finance, and basically everything and anything that GOD has ever created.  He walks through the house with white gloves and magnifying glass and inspects every square inch of your home.  What’s more, he finds a problem with every one of those square inches. All of this goes into his 20 page report. After reading this report, I felt compelled to take my $850,000 home that is being listed for $670,000  (less the carpet, paint,and landscaping) and hanging a big “CONDEMNED” sign on the door. According to this expert, it was a miracle that my house was still standing. Not only did he discover multiple problems with our house, but he apparently started finding things wrong with our neighbors house as well. This guy was on an  INSPECTION FRENZY. The good news is that it is all fixable. It would only cost …yes…..$60,000.  Okay..that’s an exaggeration, but that’s what it felt like.  What isn’t an exaggeration, is that the contractors that I hired to “remediate” (I love that word- it means to fix all of the imagined crap that the inspector found wrong with the house to make it possible for humans to live there) the situation, all laughed and were completely empathetic to me. They’ve seen this type of thing many times in the past and I could see their pity in their face as they charged me their customary $1,000 each for their service.

After three days of depression,  and living in a coma like state (once again), and a bottle of tequila in hand…you decide to let it all go and move on. But you can’t (this is where the tequila comes in)! You want to kill that expert inspector who gets back on his white horse and rides into the sunset looking for his next victim.

It is at this point that your realtor stops being a realtor. You find that she/he is now becoming your much needed personal  psychotherapist.  I find that I am confessing every detail of my life to a person that I just hired a few months ago to sell my house.  I am moody, depressed and somehow I am estranged from my loving wife. My world of peace is being turned inside out and upside down. Well,  at least  the hard part is over with.




We have to select a mover.  Who thinks about movers in their life..unless they are ready to move?  So you look online and read horror story after horror story about people’s moving experiences.. Then we are told to contract three movers and get three quotes. So…we do. The movers have a small ipad type thingy. They walk around the house going from one room to the next. They spend approximately 1 minute (60 seconds)  per room pushing little things on their Ipad software.  At the end…we compare all three quotes only to discover that somehow….mysteriously….they are all exactly the same. Are they all friends? Is there one big gigantic moving company that controls all of the business? How do they come up with the same exact number?  So..we picked the mover that we thought would “hurt us the least”.

On Packing!!

There is a mathematical formula that was developed some time ago by one of the brilliant Greek scientists. It goes something like this

If you Pack 10 boxes before midnight.  when you wake up the next morning , the amount of items in your home that will still need to be packed, will increase by   1 ½ x’s.

So, while you think you are reducing your inventory by 10 packed boxes, you are actually increasing the amount of boxes that need to be packed by 15 boxes. I’m not sure how that works….but it does.

‘Nough said!


On Time!!

There was another Greek mathematician who discovered that the speed of time increases significantly the closer you are to closing on your house.  So..if you are moving in 1 week (seven days),  it will actually feel like you are moving in 2 days.

The only thing that seems to go in slow motion….is the PACKING!  


On Stress

There is a reason why GOD created alcohol, Drugs and fast food! It’s needed for those that are moving!!

If we could place our stress levels  on a scale of  0 (the ultimate peace), to 10 (where you want to rip someone’s eyeballs out), you find that during the moving process  you vascillate somewhere between 11 to 30.   Experiencing an 11 becomes the new normal at this point in time. This is where psychosis sets in. You wander from room to room aimlessly. You begin talking to….??????  You begin answering????  You hate your partner, you hate the buyer or seller (depending on which side of the fence  on. You hate your  life, you  hate the fact that you just ate too much and drank too much and are now sick to your stomach. That Sickness is what I was going for anyway. It is a nice diversion from the intensity of feelings. There is only one person in the world that you can count on…your realtor..your confidant..your new best friend (only friend), you psychiatrist, your “moving Guru”.

There is a point in time when you reach “overload”.  The definition of overload is when the stress is so incredibly high, that you are no longer functioning like a normal human being. This is when you enter what psychiatrists know as PSYCHOSIS. Everyone handles overload differently. Me? I entered into a state of “numbness”. I looked like one of the participants from One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s nest.  In essence, I just shut down and started operating on remote control.

To add just a little more to the overload, my wife gets off of the phone with her brother. He proceeds to tell her the story of friends of his that just moved. The very day that the couple arrived in their new home, the wife dropped dead from a heart attack. Now why would anyone want to share a story like that with someone that was in the midst of moving? If the move kills you  (which apparently it could)…so be it. But why add any extra stress to a loved one??

We are getting to the end……




Three days before the move (Day before Christmas), we detach our washing machine (instructions from the mover). I unhook the hoses and guess what? The shut off valve continues to leak after I turned it off.  I  am told that over the course of the past 20 years, one is supposed to turn the valve off and on so it doesn’t’ “freeze” and then leak when you try to turn it off. Now who the  %$^*&^&  has a life, where all they think about is periodically turning off and on the shut off valve of their washing machine? Not me! I am too busy trying to survive on a daily bases in this life to be concerned about shut off valves.

So…you call in a plumber that you find on the web and $150.00 later, you are back in business….only to discover that now it is Christmas day….you are moving in 2 days and you ran out of BOXES.




I remember NOTHING. Someone (something) other than me showed up that day. Where was I?  Who knows? My body was there but somewhere along the line I became disconnected from myself.

The movers were great! They brought everything into the house. Nothing was broken. All went well…..

We are in our new home.



I begin to relax. All of that stress begins to dissolve. I have been constipated  now for 3 weeks. Is that possible?  I begin to feel my body again. I now regret the overdoses of burger king, pizza, and other assorted foods that I used to numb the trauma of moving..

As I sit back and relax, and look at the mountain of boxes before me, I realize that at this moment, the most important possession in my life is nowhere to be found…….


It’s in one of the 85 boxes sitting before me.


Someone shoot me………


Written by, Howard Gorman, by far one of my favorite sellers…

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