Thursday, May 31, 2007

Are the Best 'Burbs Midwest 'Burbs?

One of the more intriguing questions at last week's candidates forum was the suggestion of another urban or suburban model for Bloomfield. The folks at Sperling's BestPlaces may have the best research on the subject -- their most recent report is "The Best Suburbs in the MidWest."
Rankings are based on crime stats and school quality along with median home prices. Appleton, Wis., stands out from the rest with a median home price of just $119,500, the lowest on the top 25. Business Week has a slide show of all the towns.
"The MidWestern 'Burbs have the best combination of affordability and quality that we have seen in any U.S. region so far. Half of the suburbs on the list have a median home price below $239,800, and only five of the 25 have median home prices above $300,000. The average cost of living index among these suburbs falls just short of the average for the country (100), at 98.4.
In many other parts of the country, schools and safety suffer as affordability increases, but this doesn't seem to be the case in the Midwest. The secondary school test score indexes on our list range from 93.2 (Rochester, Minn.) to 210.5 (Columbia, Mo.), compared to each state's average of 100. The average violent crime index on the list is just 57, vs. the nation's average of 100—so you may be able to leave that door unlocked after all."

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Selling Like Pancakes

It's getting near the end game for Crisco sales. Three of the six Schweppe listings on the MLS are fully Under Contract with closing dates scheduled in late June and July. Two more are an attorney review including the higher priced number 4 Christopher. When the closing papers are signed, "happy residents" names and bottom line price will be in the public record. For more info on which sold first, new assessment figures, association fees, etc, look here.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Memorial Day, Bloomfield

Sunday's Star Ledger examined concerns of increasingly small turnouts at Memorial Day parades under a photo of Bloomfield's Finest marching past empty sidewalks. Here's what we found this morning.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Presby is Peaking

Today was their family garden party and art show, but many more events are scheduled between now and June 1, including daily tours of the Victorian gardens.

Friday, May 25, 2007

To Be There or Not

Traditionally, it's incumbent candidates who drag their feet on holding public forums that would give newbies free exposure. This year in Bloomfield it's the "challengers" Line A ticket for Town Council that has the excess funds along with the luxury of being coy about attending tonight's Candidate's Forum at Bloomfield College. RSVPs have yet to be received from the Line A folks by the Bloomfield Neighborhood Association organizers. One candidate was quoted as saying only: "you'll get a letter!" Maybe they're trying to create a buzz by holding out. Maybe they're not used to being deciders. It could be an interesting evening. 7:30 at Van Fossen Hall at Franklin and Fremont.

Monday, May 21, 2007

How to Sell Your Home in 5 Days

From The Inman Blog:
We know there are areas where Realtors are scratching their heads, wondering how to get homes sold. And, we know from this week's round of statistics that more sellers are listing their homes, sales are slowing and prices are dropping even more slowly....

Is it a marketing issue? The buyers are there but need to be more highly motivated in order to jump off the fence? .... is there nothing that will get your property noticed?

Bill Effros is a regular guy -- by his own admission -- but he is making the rounds talking about his solution to the problem. His book is called How to Sell Your House in 5 Days (3rd Edition).
Basically Bill suggests putting your own house up for auction doing a number of really smart things, including pricing the house at half of what you think it's worth... The book has sold more than 125,000 copies in the past 17 years.

Our own Century 21 office has begun testing a similar strategy. Stay tuned for updates.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Going from green to blue in Orange

Compared to recent local struggles between developers and residents, Orange's latest development may seem hard to follow. It seems that Bloomfield developer Rosmar Industries had the perfect plan for an upscale 10 unit condo complex that appealed to both residents and environmentalists. This time it was the planning board that stepped in and made Rosmar scale down to 5 single-family homes and thereby eliminate the eco-friendly design features. Why? Today's Star Ledger has a detailed explanation.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Paparazzi Real Estate


Does being a celebrity help or hurt when it comes to buying and selling real estate? Do celebrity sellers get higher prices by virtue of their fame? Is it an easier sell? Are famous buyers paying more because sellers won’t budge much for them or because they can afford to?

Inquiring minds want to know...

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Crunch time for open space in Bloomfield

Tonight the planning board will probably wrap up the Fefferman amendment to it's application for 104 Townhouses along The Third River. This may be the last chance for residents to voice their opinions.
The Bloomfield Third Riverbank Association hopes you can attend. Come late if you can't be there at 7:30, and if you can't be there the whole time, try to stay for a little while.


Sunday, May 13, 2007

Wetland Woes off the Parkway

What do Paramus & Bloomfield have in common? Both have have active open space preservation groups currently holding off developers applications to the DEP.
The save Paramus Wetlands website is a bit newer than Bloomfield's Third Riverbank site, but no less dedicated. They also face a deep pockets developer(aren't they all?) with the resources to keep resubmitting rejected applications to develop a 35 acre site along Soldier Hill Brook. Unlike the BTRA, however, they even have the Mayor on their side.
Here's a deja vu excerpt from the Paramus folks:
It appears as if the developer is resubmitting as their first application, dated 1/24/2007, was rejected. The NJ DEP informed Maser Consulting of the rejection via a letter dated 2/14/2007. Maser replied in a letter ...claiming that they would address all of the items/deficiencies and resubmit within 30 days. Although nearly 73 days have passed the LURP will be asked to review yet another application pertaining to this property. They have also requested a "hardship waiver".

Bloomfield's day of reckoning is at Tuesday night's planning board meeting at Town Hall.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Volunteers Needed

Jerry Broyer & Jane Calif joined dozens of volunteers at recent Friends of Clark's Pond cleanup in Bloomfield.

Today's Star Ledger opened an interesting can of worms with their story of two historic Montclair events that have hat to curtail or cancel planned events do to a lack of volunteers.
The latest to go is the parade portion of Montclair's 18th annual African-American Heritage Parade and Festival in the Glenfield Park area. In Upper Montclair, the British Country Faire at Edgemont recently shut down.Changing demographics and a disinterested younger generation are often cited as contributing factors, but no one can say for sure.
Established institutions like hospitals, animal shelters, and environmental groups can usually count on a base of young volunteers.
While "May in Montclair" continues to draw on volunteers for most of it's daily events, more are needed for major ones like Saturday's Olmstead festival in Anderson Park.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Bloomfield Brawlers: Roller Derby or Council Meeting?

Inspired by a the April Bloomfield Neighborhood Association meeting we hyped here, town Administrator, Louise Palagano tried extending the idea of public presentations by Department heads to the town Council. In contrast to the enlightening discourse with concerned citizens at the BNA meeting(top photo), the Mayor and council wound up in a verbal brawl.

Having attended the BNA meeting, we noted three added ingredients that may have contributed to the Council's disfunctionality:
1) It's an election year,
2) TV Cameras were rolling,
3) Dialogue was not on the agenda

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Where Graduation Day = Moving Day

It's not just sky high home prices and bidding wars that are causing many Glen Ridgers and Montclairians to downsize their real estate moves down the hill to "less fashionable" towns like Bloomfield.

From USA Today:

GLEN RIDGE, N.J. — In towns such as this, where highly rated public schools are supported by even higher property taxes, many parents faced with college bills are selling the empty nest while it's still warm.
By moving only as far as the next town, they can cut their local taxes in half. As a result, Graduation Day and Moving Day are getting closer and closer. In the weeks before high school ends, "you'll see the for-sale signs going up," says Ros Schulman, whose son is college-bound.
Once their kids graduate, parents don't need a big house or good schools; they need money for tuition. So some move to a smaller house in a less fashionable community that has less prestigious schools and less oppressive taxes....

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Blue Acres Bill could relieve flood pressures

From The Record:

Environmentalists, politicians and flood-weary residents found common ground on the soggy banks of the Passaic River on Wednesday, urging adoption of a $1.75 billion bond through a referendum that would pour more money into the state's buyout program, Blue Acres.

In the wake of the latest flood, Democrats and Republicans in the state Legislature are pushing to place a bond referendum on the November ballot to restore funding to the Garden State Preservation Trust Fund. The fund is the pool of money New Jersey draws upon to preserve open space, farms and historic sites, and to buy up homes and land in the flood plains around New Jersey.

A bill (ACR-10) that would put a $1.75 billion bond referendum on the November ballot to fund open space purchases -- including flood buyouts -- is in the Assembly Environment Committee.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Flood Zones: Don't ask, Do tell!

These days, it's hard to look at a "value-priced" home listing in river towns like Wayne and Little Falls without assuming it's had flood damage. Some street-names like Riverlawn, or Riveredge are giveaways, but all MLS listings are required to state whether or not any property is in a flood zone or requires flood insurance. Even in non-flood areas, sellers are required to disclose if they have ever had water damage -- even in unfinished basements. This can be the best time to find bargains since even two weeks after the record water levels have receded, tell-tale garbage piles can still be found in front lawns. We're starting to see new listings proudly proclaim "No April '07 flooding!" We just checked out two listings west of Rt. 23 in Wayne --both in the 350k range. One had a finished basement with wood stairs and rugs that were totally dry. The other (by an out of county agent) claimed not to know. A brief talk with the owner revealed the sad story of the Big Nor'easter. Fortunately he was insured -- still no mention of Insurance in the listing.