Home Buying Tip #108:

Buy a home in an excellent school district.

Even if you do not have children who are school-age or children who attend public schools, this is sound advice. The main reason is because if you ever decide to sell your home, a really good school district is often one of the highest priorities for home buyers. This fact not only makes your home more attractive to potential buyers but will help your home maintain a high property value over time.

We invite you to visit us at 106A East Main Street, Mendham.

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Featured Mendham Community:
 Mendham Township, NJ

By June Cantwell

Brookrace, a custom designed community of 86 luxury homes on cul de sac sites, offers a unique and healthy lifestyle.  Adjoining Brookrace is the 423 acre Schiff Nature Preserve providing residents access to more than 10 miles of hiking and jogging trails as well as nature programs for all ages.  Schiff Natural Lands Trust, Inc. owns 640 acres of preserved land and conservation easements in this tranquil area.  Brookrace homeowners enjoy boating, fishing and skating on the private  20 acre Lake Therese which marks the entry to this beautiful community.  The Pavillion is a gathering place for picnics and neighborhood  events.

Underground wiring adds to the pleasing aesthetics of the streetscape.  The community features public water and sewer which is not the norm in Mendham Township.  The Mendhams boast highly ranked schools at all grade levels.  NJ Transit stations are within a few miles at Peapack, Gladstone, Bernardsville and Morristown as well as convenient access to Interstates 287, 78 and 80.

The scenic area is dotted with historic markers referencing George Washington and Revolutionary War happenings. There is also a marker for the saw mill at McVickers Brook which was typical of early land use in the heavily forested area. Its rich history includes the Gilded Age social scene in the grand mansions of nearby “Millionaires’ Mountain.”  Having been part of these social fetes and inspired by the beautiful land Colonel Richard H. Williams bought 560 acres for a manor house and barns as a wedding gift for his son.  In 1914-18 “Brookrace,” a Colonial Revival and French Eclectic manor, was built on the site.  Subsequently, the property was purchased by the Mortimer L. Schiff family and given to Boy Scouts of America in 1932. The Scouts used the complex as a retreat and an international training facility for leaders.  Ross Perot provided the incentive for Boy Scouts of America to relocate to Texas.

AT&T purchased the Schiff complex for a retreat center which was not popular with town residents. The outcry resulted in the sale in the late 1990s to a developer with the concept of cluster zoning which left hundreds of acres as permanent open space.

Brookrace residents appreciate how unique their community is.  One former mid-western family reports that one of the top features for selecting their home was that it bordered Schiff Preserve.  “We’ve had years of enjoyment hiking, walking our dog, cross country skiing, exploring, mountain biking and learning.  We appreciate how the Schiff Preserve has brought Nature to our back yard.”  A homeowner from Northern California ranks Brookrace as “the most beautiful community in America!”  Brookrace is an enjoyable, active community for all ages.

For information about available homes call Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage and Previews International, Mendham Office, 973-543-2552. Or visit the office at 106A East Main St, Mendham, NJ, 07945. 

Mendham's Maggie Doyne Named 2015 Hero of The Year by CNN:

From CNN, November 19, 2015: "Maggie Doyne, a Mendham woman who used her babysitting savings to change the lives of hundreds of Nepalese women and children, was named the 2015 CNN Hero of the Year on Tuesday at a star-studded awards ceremony in New York.

A decade ago Doyne's backpacking trip to Nepal transformed into a long-term commitment. Spending $5,000 in savings from her babysitting days, Doyne bought land and worked with the community to build a school, a women's center and the Kopila Valley Children's Home. Doyne's BlinkNow Foundation supports these efforts."

Read full article at CNN.com>>>

Read article about Maggie Doyne at DailyRecord.com>>>

New Jersey Monthly Names the State’s Top Public High Schools:

Mendham High School ranks #4 out of 339 schools rated. Click here for details.

The Star Ledger Names New Jersey's Best High Schools for Academics and the Arts:

Mendham High School ranks #2. Click here for details.

New Jersey Monthly Names Mendham Borough #1.

Mendham Bourough was ranked #1 overall out of 514 NJ towns. Click here for details.

Mendham TV Interview with Sandi Laughlin:

Discussion includes Coldwell Banker's sponsorship of Mendham High School Sports, community service projects like Toys for Tots and Habitat for Humanity, and the current state of the Mendham housing market.

When Should I Start to Look For a Home?

By Jacqueline Haynes

Sold SignThis question seems to have come up on a regular basis of late and why not? This is the best home buying opportunity in my memory and in the memory of most. Home prices in Morris and Somerset counties, New Jersey, are at 2002/2003 levels and on top of that, interest rates are at a historic low.

The financially astute understand that every 1% increase in interest rates means an affordability reduction of 9%. AKA an inferior home. So what are you waiting for?!

Jump in the pool and make hay while the sun shines! OK – that really is a total metaphor mix-up, but you get the picture! Now that you’ve decided to get off the fence, you need to bear in mind some general house-hunting tips:

1) Once you find a house, there is typically 60-90 days before you actually close on it.

2) OCCASIONALLY there are sellers that want a 30 day closing. In my experience, most people panic at the idea of having to move in quite such a hurry and need a longer lead time

3) Negotiations can take time. To give you an idea of just how long it can take, I currently have buyers who presented an offer 4 weeks ago. The terms are still being negotiated. Do I like this? Heck, no! However, if the seller isn’t motivated there is only so much that can be done. It’s a testimony to the will power and determination of my clients that we’re still in the game!

4) Even when you negotiate a close date, it can change. Sometimes drastically. Especially with townhomes and condos. The reasons are:

a) because the mortgage company has to make sure that there is no litigation against the homeowners association. If there is – it can delay (and occasionally prevent) a sale.

b) The mortgage company has certain guidelines to follow. One caveat is that there can be no more than a certain percentage of renters in the development – otherwise, no mortgage.

c) Arguments regarding whether the development is a condo (where you just own the airspace) or a PUD (where you own the building and the land). My last sale of a townhouse in Bedminster closed 2 weeks ago and about 3 weeks after the expected closing date. This was because the appraiser insisted that the home was a condo and everyone else said it was a PUD. They couldn’t agree and the closing was delayed. My clients rental was nearly up and it was nerve-racking whether we would close before she needed to vacate her rental.

d) Mortgage companies ask for documentation at the time of application then ask for more just when you think everything is completed and that you’re seconds away from closing. Don’t be surprised to find that the underwriter requires intricate, time-consuming information on the day of closing.

What I’m trying to say is the following:
If, for example, you are out of your rental at the end of December, plan to close on your new home either the end of November or the beginning of December. It gives you time in case of delay.

Assume a 90 day closing. That means that you will want to put a contract on a home about October 3rd in order to close December 3rd.

Now, you can see that this whole process is on top of you and you haven’t even started looking for a house yet! Don’t worry – we’ve given ourselves some lead-time. But in order to close in December, you should certainly anticipate going under contract on a home sometime during the month of October.

Mortgages. What can I say? The process is exasperating and can be exhausting, so it is important to work with the best people. If it’s frustrating when you work with good people, imagine what it’s like if you work with bad people. The same goes for Realtors. Try to work with someone who is full-time and who has been in the industry awhile. Qualifications are good! It means that person that is helping you make the biggest financial investment of your life, has a good chance of knowing what they’re doing – and THAT is the person that you want on your side!

Jacqueline Haynes is a full-time agent with Coldwell Banker in Mendham. In addition to her salespersons license, she is both a licensed real estate broker and instructor.

The House is For Sale: Don't Forget Your Pet!

By Evelyn Wierichs

Pet photoFor many of us, moving is part of our lives, but we all have to be honest when we say it isn't the easiest thing to do. Once the steps have been taken to put the "for sale" sign outside, the routine of everyday living can be stressful. We want the house to show its best so we can sell and move to our new home.

One important element we should always consider is how this move will affect our pets? Our everyday routine will be different. People will be making appointments to see the house. What should we remember? We need to not fall into the mindset that leaving our furry family members in the house will be fine, because sometimes it just doesn't work. A potential buyer maybe afraid of the cat or dog and refuse to go into the house. Sometimes we think I'll leave a note with directions of not allowing the furry friend out the door. What happens when as soon as the door is opened by the agent the dog or cat runs out? No one wants to have the experience of running after the pet or possibly even losing it.

We have to stop and plan ahead for the safety of the family pet. Find a safe area, where no one will have to disturb the pet while the house is being shown. Be sure your agent has instructions in the showing remarks. If you, the homeowner, can't take the dog out for a walk when there is a showing make arrangements with a local pet sitter to come and take the dog out. This helps the potential buyer focus on the house and all its wonderful features without being distracted by the family pet. As the homeowner, check to make sure all devices regarding your pets are in working order. A good example of this would be to check the battery of your dog's invisible fence collar to make sure it is charged. Be sure the connections for the invisible fence have no holes in it. Also, if you have a battery operated kitty box check this as well. Nothing is more of a turn off to a potential buyer than the smell of a dirty kitty box.

Your pet is a valuable member of your family. The pet will be affected by the new routine of having the house on the market. Don't forget them, keeping in mind that they can pick-up on the stress in the household. Make their safety one of your top priorities. This way, when your house sells, you can all move happily together.

Evelyn Wierichs is a sales agent at Coldwell Banker Mendham.
Cell: (973) 738-3009

So You're Getting Divorced...

By Jacqueline Haynes

Divorce DecreeI’m so sorry to hear that.  Yet it’s something that we hear constantly.  We all know someone who is ‘going through it’.  I’ve been there myself, pretty recently.

This time can be from hell.  Angst in the relationship.  Fears over the children.  Questions from family.  Blame from friends.  And affordability issues with the house.

Trust me.  The time eventually passes and you do get through it but while you’re in the midst, it can be the worst time of your life.  It feels like you’re sinking into the mire and the more you struggle to free yourself, the deeper you go.

So, I can’t fix marriage issues or the surrounding problems.  What I can do, is help you make sensible and rational decisions about the house.

Go to full article>>>

Maggie DoyneMendham High School Graduate Builds School in Nepal

Maggie Doyne started the orphanage and school with $5,000 she had saved from her babysitting money when she was at Mendham High. In 2010 she won the $100,000 grand prize in a contest run by DoSomething.org. This money enabled her to start her 220 student school (K - 6th). Maggie plans to add 1 grade per year until the high school years are complete. We are so proud of you, Maggie! Link to photos from the New York Times Maggie, the school and children: http://www.nytimes.com/slideshow/2010/10/24/magazine/nepal-aid.html