Friday, September 12, 2014

Architectural Styles at a Glance

When beginning your home search, it’s easy to become overwhelmed by the onslaught of both real estate terminology and architectural descriptions. For the uninitiated, phrases like “French Colonial” or “post-war bungalow” seem like another layer of jargon designed to confuse the average buyer. The overview below will help you familiarize yourself with the basic characteristics of some of the most common residential architectural styles in the U.S.

Victorian Style

Victorian architecture refers to several styles developed during the reign of Queen Victoria. The Victorian styles evolved largely from the Victorian idea that architecture (along with fashion, furnishings, among other things) should be beautiful rather than practical. The last true Victorians were constructed in the early 1900s, but contemporary builders often borrow Victorian ideas, designing eclectic "neo-Victorians." These homes combine modern materials with 19th century details, such as curved towers and spindled porches.
Common Elements:
  • Any and all exterior finishes, from brick to shingles to terra cotta
  • Different exterior wall textures or materials on the same facade
  • Asymmetrical facade with extensive wood or brick patterning or detailing
  • Extensive ornamental and decorative accents, usually in one of the following themes: delicate posts and spindles, raised classical columns, fancy half-timbering, or intricately patterned stone or brick
  • Front entryway and significant part (or all) of front facade covered by a porch


The name "bungalow" originates from India, where it indicated a small, thatched home. In the United States what we call bungalows became popular during the 1880’s in California, in part as a reaction to the elaborate nature of Victorian style. The style grew in popularity throughout the early 20th century.
Common Elements:
  • One or one-and-a-half stories
  • Wood, brick or stone exterior finishes
  • Rectangular building with low profile
  • Simple facade with few decorative details
  • Projecting, covered front porch with entryway set off to one side
  • Interior Characteristics: Kitchen, bedrooms and bathrooms laid around central living room


A descendent of the bungalow style, the craftsman gained popularity at the turn of the 20th century. Often called the “California bungalow,” these homes feature overhanging eaves, a low-slung gabled roof, and wide front porches supported by columns.
Common Elements:
  • Exterior or natural materials, like wood or stone
  • Asymmetrical facade
  • Large porch with square pillars or columns holding up the corners
  • Ornamental braces
  • Stone chimney
  • One story
  • Relatively low-pitched (flat) roof
  • Interior Characteristics: Built-in china cabinets, nooks, desks, etc.
  • Exposed beams. The beams on the porch and inside the house are often exposed.
  • Open floor plan. The Arts and Crafts Movement rejected the small, boxy rooms like those in Victorian houses.

Ranch Style

The ranch style home emerged in the 1930s and grew in popularity during the 1950s and 1960s, coinciding with the growing role of the automobile in American lifestyle. The style draws on elements of Spanish Colonial and Prairie and Craftsman homes, and is characterized by its one-story, pitched-roof construction, built-in garage, wood or brick exterior walls, sliding and picture windows, and sliding doors leading to patios.
Common Elements:
  • Exterior finished in stucco, wood, brick or some combination thereof
  • Low-pitched roof with medium to wide overhanging eaves
  • Side or rear glass doors which slide open to a porch or patio area
  • Attached garage

Cape Cod

Many of the first homes built in the United States were Cape Cod-style homes constructed in the New England colonies. Many of the Cape Cod homes on the market today were built after World War II, when thousands of returning soldiers and their young families needed inexpensive housing. A 20th-century Cape Cod is square or rectangular with one or one-and-a-half stories and steeply pitched, gabled roofs. It may have dormers and shutters. The siding is usually clapboard or brick.
Common Elements:
  • Large, central chimney. The large, central chimney is located directly behind the front door, with the rooms clustered around it in a rectangular shape.
  • Steep roof. Cape Cods have steep roofs to quickly shed rain and snow, and a shallow roof overhang.
  • Windows and dormers. Two windows on each side of the door, and often a dormer on each side of the chimney to open up the attic.
  • Captain's stairway. "The second floor, often kept for boarders or 'seafaring' men, was accessed by a narrow stair, or 'captain's stairway,' which has incredibly steep risers and shallow treads to minimize the use of the first-floor space," explains David Karam, an architect and builder from Brewster, Mass.
  • Shingle siding. Weathered gray shingles are one of the most recognizable elements of a classic Cape Cod, but newer homes are built of brick, stucco and stone.


As the nations of Europe settled the new world, they brought their unique architectural styles to the Americas, building their new homes in styles that reminded them of, well, home. “Colonial architecture” encompasses a number of individual styles including Georgian Colonial, Spanish Colonial, French Colonial, Dutch Colonial, and Federal — although Georgian is often the style referred to in the colloquial sense of “colonial.” Georgian homes find their roots in both Italian Renaissance and the classical architecture of ancient Greece and Rome. These homes are often marked by a centrally located front door, evenly spaced double-hung windows and simple side-gabled roof. Traditional Colonial homes have paired chimneys, decorative doorways and plain, symmetrical fronts along with a generally rectangular and formal style.
Common Elements:
  • Brick or wood exterior
  • Small front porch with white rectangular columns topped by a triangular gable or pediment leading up to the front door
  • Rectangular building
  • Symmetrical facade -- same number of windows on either side of the front door, etc.
  • Two or more stories
  • Relatively steep roof pitch
  • Interior Characteristics: Living rooms on first floor and bedrooms on higher floors


Spanish Colonial homes date back to the original Spanish colonies and missions throughout the American Southwest, and are characterized by stucco walls, tile roofs and enclosed courtyards. Today the term Spanish Colonial Revival is used to describe homes built in the early 20th century that incorporate various elements of Mediterranean architecture. The stucco siding and small windows of the Spanish Colonial style make the homes very energy efficient.
Common Elements:
  • Stucco exterior finish (usually in earthy, cream, or pinkish tones)
  • Flat, red-tiled roof
  • Small, circular accent windows
  • Wide, square pillars on front facade
  • Arches over doors, large windows and porch
  • Square or polygonal towers
  • Interior Characteristics: Tile floors, arches, wrought iron light fixtures


Built mostly in the first half of the 20th century, Tudor homes can be found in established communities in practically every region of the country. Tudors have half-timbering on bay windows and upper floors, and facades dominated by steep cross gables. While this highly recognizable style was often the choice of the wealthy for grand mansions, modest interpretations of the style are prevalent as well.
Common Elements:
  • Steeply pitched roof, sometimes with mock thatch
  • Large rectangular chimney with an ornate, cylindrical pipe-or "chimney pot"-on top
  • Patterned brick or stone exterior, or plaster with half-timbers
  • Decorative exposed wood framing known as "half-timbered" construction
  • Asymmetrical façade
  • Entryways are often arched and outlined with decorative brick or stonework.
  • Windows placed in groups of two, three or four.
  • Tall or narrow windows, multi-paned, with panes sometimes arranged in a diamond pattern.
  • Front door of vertical wood planks


Modern architecture refers to designs influenced and inspired by the modernism movement in art and literature. Modern architecture was a rebellion against classical architectural tradition, and as a broad movement that spanned many decades, it incorporated elements of art deco, arts and crafts, and ranch home design.
Common Elements:
  • Open living spaces - Modernist homes usually feature open floor plans that combine spaces for dining, relaxing and entertaining.
  • Clean, geometric lines - modernist homes emphasize spare geometric forms.
  • Technologically advanced materials - Rather than traditional wood and plaster, modernism advanced the use of new materials like iron, concrete, steel and glass. 

The article is taken from one of our recent Newsletters that was e-mailed to all registered subscribers, via our RE/MAX of New Jersey web site.

Visit my web site for real estate services and support: [NJ/PA]
and visit to find the latest New Jersey Real Estate property listings (Residential, Commercial, Multi-Family, Farm, Land). 

Copyright 2014 by Lawrence Yerkes. All Rights Reserved.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Getting Through the Big Move

Cut Back — Moving can be a difficult task. Don’t make it more work than necessary by moving furniture, clothing, art or other belongings that you don’t actually want or need anymore. Look for opportunities to de-clutter your life and get rid of excess possessions.
Hand it Down: Tell your friends and family you're paring down possessions. You'll feel better, and it'll be easier giving up that expensive couch or antique bureau if you know your best friend will make good use of it.
Yard Sale: The tried and true yard sale can help you get rid of things you don't use and avoid paying to move them. As a bonus, you'll make some extra cash that you can spend on new things in your next home.
Donate: Consider donating unwanted or unsold items to charity. Many charitable causes have free pickup services for donations that make giving your unwanted furniture and items as easy as picking up the phone and scheduling a pickup time.


The thought of organizing and packing up a house’s worth of clothing, kitchenware, and other items can be daunting to say the least. Even if you are using professional movers, you likely will want to pack and organize certain items yourself. By having a packing strategy, you can make it through the first stage of the move with your sanity intact and avoid last minute panic as the moving trucks pull up.
Inventory: Taking a rough inventory of your stuff will give you a general idea of how many moving boxes you will need. If you will be using a moving company, it’s not a bad idea to make a written or photographic inventory to make sure you don’t lose anything during the move.
Box Right: Make use of suitcases and plastic storage tubs you already own before searching out moving boxes. You can re-use old cardboard moving boxes, but make sure the cardboard is still in good shape rather than risk damaging any of your items. Purchase frame boxes to protect your pictures and mirrors.
Other Supplies: Purchase high-quality packing tape and plenty of bubble wrap to help safeguard your belongings during the move. Specialty packingff paper or packing fill can be used for box fill instead of newspaper to remove the risk of scratching fragile items.
If you will be moving on your own, you should rent furniture pads, straps and furniture dollies from the rental truck company.
Have a Packing Plan: Begin by packing the items you use least often. Pack one room at a time, making sure to clearly label the contents and which room they are intended for. You can also use a numbering or color coded system to help indicate which boxes have the most frequently used items.
Pack Smart: Large boxes should be filled with lighter items such as clothing. Save heavy items like books and dishes for smaller boxes that will allow for easy lifting. Make sure each box is packed full, but also check the weight of packed boxes before sealing.
“Essentials” Box: Pack one box to keep close at hand (i.e., not buried in the back of the moving truck). The idea is to have easy access to items you may need during the move or immediately after your arrival at the new home.

  • ID
  • Your wallet, checkbook and/or ATM card
  • Bottled water
  • Toothbrush, toothpaste and soap
  • Any prescription medications
  • Aspirin
  • Snacks that don't require refrigeration or cooking (granola bars, nuts, bread, PB, etc)
  • Paper cups, paper plates and plastic utensils
  • Towels
  • Sheets
  • Scissors and tape
  • Closing documents if you're buying a new home
  • Important files
  • Medical records
  • Pet food and pet littler, if applicable

Before Moving Day —

Keep People Updated: Contact or visit your local Post Office to obtain a Change of Address form. You can also obtain this form online at Give a change of address to the following: banks, schools, friends & family, insurance companies, doctors and specialists, cell phone providers, credit card companies and magazine and newspaper subscriptions.
Clean in Waves: Trying to clean your whole house at once (either before or after moving day) can be an overwhelming prospect. Instead, begin cleaning any rooms in your house that have been emptied such as closets, basements or attics.

Get Help—

One of the most important moving tips: you don’t have to do it alone.
Move with the Pros: A professional moving company can take the care of all the hard work, leaving you to kick back and supervise. If you feel like avoiding the packing stage as well, most companies will pack your items for an additional fee. Prices and reliability can vary widely between companies, so compare quotes from at least three local companies before choosing a moving company. Don’t rely on over-the-phone price quotes from the moving company you select: make sure the moving company comes to your home to accurately assess the space and approximate weight of your shipment. Make sure to check their history with the Better Business Bureau or American Moving & Storage Association.
Moving Consultant: If the mere sight of a cardboard box leaves you feeling overwhelmed, consider hiring someone to handle the nitty-gritty of your move. These consultants are the relocation industry's answer to wedding planners and travel agents -- they can arrange for movers, pack your stuff, switch over your utilities, and transfer school and medical records. If you can swing the price tag, or if your company is covering relocation costs, a consultant can make your move relatively stress-free.
Portable storage: Companies like PODS, U Haul and 1-800-PACKRAT will deliver a portable storage unit right outside your door. Before making the call, make sure you have enough parking on your property to accommodate the size of the temporary storage unit. Fill the storage space at your own pace. When you're finally ready to move, give the service a call and they will deliver the storage pod to your new home. Portable storage units still force you to do all the work, but they are a low cost solution and can serve as an alternative if there is a gap between the time you need to leave your old home and can access the new property.
Rental trucks: Renting a box truck can be a cost-effective alternative to hiring a moving company -- as long as you plan ahead. A 10-foot moving truck will generally hold an apartment's worth of stuff; while a 24-foot truck can accommodate a three-bedroom house. It’s best to choose a larger truck; you won’t have to cram items into a smaller space, and for cross-town moves you will avoid wasting time on multiple trips. Read the fine print about mileage allowances and fuel surcharges, and make sure you know the rules regarding when and where you can return the truck. Depending on the size of the truck and length of the move, you may consider adding supplemental insurance through the rental company in the event of dings or dents to the truck.
Friends and family: Free labor is great, but you’ll likely still need to rent a moving truck (unless everyone in your family has a super duty pickup). Make sure you have every possible detail taken care of before your volunteer labor force shows up; the last thing you want is to leave your friends and family waiting while you pack the last boxes or run to go pick up the rental truck. Ask friends and family to help with packing and loading to a reasonable degree, and expect to return the favor when it's their turn to move. And common courtesy calls for you to provide lunch and refreshments for your friendly work crew.

After the Truck is Loaded —

Once you have everything packed away into the trucks, you’ll want to pass through your house and check off a few final items before getting on to your new home.
Damage Control: Check for any damages to walls, doors or frames caused by furniture being moved. The last hassle you need is to lose part of your security deposit or have any issues with the homebuyers because your furniture dinged a door frame or left a scratch in the wall.
Leave Behinds: Re-check the house for anything you might have accidently forgotten. Look through the attic, all closets, the garage, any crawl spaces, the medicine cabinet, and the drawer under your oven.

The article is taken from one of our recent Newsletters that was e-mailed to all registered subscribers, via our RE/MAX of New Jersey web site.

Visit my web site for real estate services and support: [NJ/PA]
and visit to find the latest New Jersey Real Estate property listings (Residential, Commercial, Multi-Family, Farm, Land). 

Copyright 2014 by Lawrence Yerkes. All Rights Reserved.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Negotiating Tips for Buyers

Even with the help of an experienced real estate agent, the negotiating process can be frustrating and confusing. Many of us aren’t involved in high-level business negotiations in our day-to-day lives, and even buyers who are savvy businesspersons aren’t used to having a personal stake in the outcome. Good negotiating in real estate isn’t about coming out victorious over the other side, it's about understanding the seller's motivations and striking a deal that satisfies all parties as much as possible.

The following tips can help you survive the negotiation of a real estate purchase:

Don’t focus on price only

Many buyers make the mistake of thinking that price is the only point up for negotiation. Buyers can often negotiate quite a bit of value into a contract in addition to the number on the bottom line, such as a preferred closing date, the seller paying or contributing toward closing costs, concessions for home repairs, and so on.

Don’t move too slowly

Real estate can be an aggressive commodity, and buyers who rest on their laurels run the risk of losing out on desired properties. On the other hand, buyers who have their financing in order from the start are best positioned to make aggressive offers and negotiate from a position of strength. The first step to jumping on a hot property is having your ducks in a row from the start.

Should you find a property that matches many of your wish list items, don’t make the mistake of being overly hesitant. Make a firm, direct and quick offer to a motivated seller, stipulating a time limit for the response, and you just might get the terms you request.

Avoid responding on the spot

While you want to move fast, particularly in a hot buyer’s market, never respond verbally to an offer or counteroffer. Ask for all offers in writing and respond in kind. You can still move quickly and with the help of your real estate and legal representation, but don't make any “handshake agreements” on the spot that may lead to issues later on.

Keep negotiations professional

It can be difficult not to take negotiations personally, especially when your potential home is at stake. The need to stay calm and removed from the situation is a strong reason to have the guidance of a dedicated real estate professional who will represent your interests while keeping an even keel. As negotiations progress, remain composed and direct in all your dealings. Ask the seller to be specific about any terms they aren’t satisfied with and ask for simple clarifications regarding the changes they would like to see. If a seller doesn’t respond well to that sort of request, be prepared to walk away. Remember that ultimately this is just business, even if from a personal standpoint the stakes are raised.

Don’t make a lowball offer without a reason

There can be very valid reasons for making an offer significantly below the seller’s asking price. The home may be priced well above comparable homes in the market, may have recently been assessed at a lower value, or may require costly repairs or updates. Making a lower offer under these circumstances is well within reason and, if done tactfully, can persuade the seller to adjust their asking price down.

If you’re hoping to get the seller to greatly reduce the price simply to meet your budget or ensure a good “deal,” you’re not negotiating in good faith and risk alienating the seller entirely. Keep the seller’s desire to get a good value for their home in mind when submitting an offer below the asking price, and be prepared to justify the difference.

Don’t be afraid to ask

Shrewd negotiators assume that nothing is ever truly off the table, at least not entirely. When done correctly, it doesn’t hurt to ask the seller for special concessions. Interested in a piece of antique furniture or the barbeque on the back patio? Hoping the seller will pay to replace worn roofing or siding? Ask for what you want, within reason. As always, be prepared to remain flexible on other terms that the seller may ask for.

Don’t obsess

When it comes to the negotiation for what may be your next home, it's easy to become anxious and follow the process relentlessly. Try to remember to relax, and if at all possible leave as much of the process to your professional guides. Doing so will leave you less stressed and more able to approach the negotiation without frayed nerves.

The article is taken from one of our recent Newsletters that was e-mailed to all registered subscribers, via our RE/MAX of New Jersey web site.

Visit my web site for real estate services and support: [NJ/PA]
and visit to find the latest New Jersey Real Estate property listings (Residential, Commercial, Multi-Family, Farm, Land). 

Copyright 2014 by Lawrence Yerkes. All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Water-Saving Landscaping Tips

As signs of sunshine start to peek through the fog of winter, we grow nearer to the season marked by the hum of lawnmowers and the smell of freshly churned soil. Spring, and the joys (or chores) of landscaping, are nearly upon us.
Depending on your point of view, gardening and yard work can either be a necessary evil or a cherished escape into the fresh air. But whether you're a minimalist landscaper or have the greenest of thumbs, the added expense of landscaping water bills can be an unpleasant reality every spring and summer. The tips below are just a few ways you can responsibly make it rain without draining your wallet dry.

Harvest the Downpours —

Setting up your own rain barrel is an easy way to save a significant amount of money each season. For every inch of rain that falls on 750 sq ft of roof, you can collect 450 gallons of water. That means many areas can gather upwards of a thousand gallons of water every year. That’s water you can use to hydrate your houseplants, flowers, vegetable garden or lawn. In addition to saving you money on water bills, using natural water is environmentally sustainable (cities spend a lot of money and energy treating and pumping water into homes). Plants will also grow better with rainwater compared to chlorinated and fluoridated tap water.

Rain barrels can be fairly easily constructed out of old garbage cans, a few washers, a spigot, caulking, and a hose clamp. By connecting one of your home’s downspouts to the barrel, you will harness some of the rain collecting power of your roof. If Do-It-Yourself is not your cup of tea, premade rain barrels can be purchased at most home improvement stores, usually ranging from $100-$200. When setting up your rain barrel, make sure to place it on a platform (bricks, etc.) roughly a foot or so off of the ground to make it easier to fill up watering cans and also to give more pressure if you decide to hook it up to a hose.

Mulch Ado —

Adding a layer of mulch to landscaped areas doesn’t just serve as an aesthetic touch; it’s also one of the most effective and environmentally-friendly defenses against weeds that threaten to steal moisture from your plants. Mulch layers are air and water permeable, making them easy to plant into. Organic mulches such as hay, grass clippings, leaves and shredded bark will also improve the soil quality as they decay over time. Rubber, plastic or rock/gravel mulch layers can also be used with positive results.

Clamp Down —

Nothing wastes water quite as much as a needlessly running hose. Attach spray nozzles to all garden hoses to avoid leaving the water running. Spray nozzles also provide you with a little extra “oomph” of water pressure for watering hard to reach plants.

Hold the Sprinklers —

Using sprinklers can be a hassle-free way to water your lawn and plants, but if left on too long they can cost you a bundle while over-saturating your landscaping. Some sprinklers nowadays are equipped with built-in timing mechanisms and routines. As an alternative, you can install a simple faucet-mounted timer that remembers to shut off the water supply so that you don’t have to.

Pay Attention to the Weather —

Overwatering your plants and lawn costs you money, isn’t good for the plants and results in a great deal of water runoff. Keep in tune with just how much rainfall (roughly speaking) your yard is soaking in. This can be accomplished either by monitoring local weather sites or by setting up a simple rain gauge in your yard. Typically, plants need about an inch of water per week during the growing season. If you have sprinklers set on an automatic timer, make sure to adjust it as needed during periods of seasonal rainfall.

Let it All Soak In —

Unlike traditional sprinklers, soaker hoses aren’t susceptible to water loss through evaporation. Soaker hoses slowly drip water into the soil. When covered over with mulch, they have proven to be an extremely efficient watering method.

The article is taken from one of our recent Newsletters that was e-mailed to all registered subscribers, via our RE/MAX of New Jersey web site.

Visit my web site for real estate services and support: [NJ/PA]
and visit to find the latest New Jersey Real Estate property listings (Residential, Commercial, Multi-Family, Farm, Land). 

Copyright 2014 by Lawrence Yerkes. All Rights Reserved.

Monday, September 08, 2014

Setting Home Repair Priorities

When it comes to home maintenance and repair, deciding where to start can be a daunting task. Beyond the "fix-it-after-it-breaks" emergency situations, prioritizing preventative maintenance can be a bit challenging.
When looking at the laundry list of potential home repairs for your house, you'll want to move to the top items that threaten your family's safety and security, and the structure of your home and its critical systems.

Safety First

Potential safety concerns should always be fixed as soon as they are identified. Any problem area in your home that could adversely affect the health or well-being of your family members or pets is not a "to-do" list item that you schedule when time and budget allows.

Some of the most commonly needed "safety" home repairs include:

  • Railings and banisters: Ensure all hardware is securely fastened to the wall or support structures to prevent serious falls. Split or worn railings should be replaced with new hardware.

  • Walkway cracks/uneven walkways: Outdoor footpaths are often overlooked, but cracked or wobbly walkways can easily lead to slip-and-fall injuries.

  • Smoke detectors: Smoke detectors should be tested monthly as part of your home safety plan, and batteries should be replaced semi-annually. Consider adding additional smoke detectors in bedrooms or guest rooms where they do not already exist.

  • Lighting: When lights burn out in walkways and stairwells, move quickly to replace the bulbs to prevent any potential night-time slips or falls.

  • Porch steps: A porch step that falters or feels springy may be on the verge of giving out, potentially leading to a nasty landing. Secure loose steps as soon as the issue is noticed, and repair any stairs that show signs of wear or structural issues.

  • Electrical outlets: Outlets should be periodically tested to ensure the ground-fault circuits are working. 


    Addressing security concerns should be another top priority when considering home repairs or upgrade projects. Protecting your home, your family and your possessions often involves investing in your home's indoor and outdoor security.
    Some common security-related home repair and upgrade projects include:

  • Windows: Repair any loose or faulty window latches, and carefully check the security on lower level windows that could be accessed from the outside.

  • Doors: That loose exterior door knob is more than a slight nuisance, it also represents a security risk inviting potential burglars into your home. Promptly fix any finicky doorknobs, deadbolts that won't turn or other door security problems.

  • Outdoor lighting: Just as replacing lighting indoors can be a safety measure, making sure your home is adequately lit outdoors adds another layer of security. Exterior security lights, often operating on motion sensors, illuminate the darkness around your home when someone enters the immediate vicinity. Promptly replacing burnt out bulbs in exterior security lights, porch lights, and outdoor walkway lighting helps make your home a less attractive target for would-be thieves.

  • Garage doors: Burglars frequently target garages as a weak point by which to gain entry into the homes they rob. Garage doors that aren't closing properly or unreliable automatic garage door systems represent a significant home security disadvantage. Promptly address garage door problems as soon as they crop up to avoid leaving your home vulnerable.

  • Security systems: Adding even a basic electronic security system can enhance your piece of mind and provide added security to your home. Alarm systems provide a deterring factor, but they also need to be maintained to work effectively.

    Water Hazards

    Water damage is one of the most costly foes a homeowner can face. Many home inspectors consider water related issues the number one concern for homeowners. Not only does water damage affect the walls and floor in the room where a leak or flood occurs, water issues can easily lead to long-term structural problems for the house as a whole. Repairing any potential sources of water leaks or water-related damage should be a top priority for any homeowner.
    Common "water" fixes at home include:

  • Gutters and downspouts: Cleaning out rain gutters and downspouts should be a regular checklist item to prevent unexpected overflows. Don't ignore gutters or spouts that appear bent, cracked or twisted - misdirected rainwater can quickly become a huge headache.

  • Stucco: Repair cracks in exterior wall stucco to avoid leaks.

  • Exterior paint: Often seen as purely a cosmetic upgrade, replacing cracked and worn exterior paint with a new paint job or touch up paint (using high quality materials) can help prevent wood rot or other water issues.

  • Re-caulking: Re-caulking around showers, bathtubs, sinks and toilets can help keep water from spreading through to walls and floors.

  • Window leaks: Repair and re-seal window leaks to prevent mold issues and structural damage to your home.

    The Roof Over Your Head

    Keeping your roof in good condition helps protect your home from potentially catastrophic water leaks. Water issues stemming from roof problems can lead to a number of costly home repairs in the future. Periodic roof inspections should be a part of your proactive home repair strategy. The frequency at which you schedule professional roof inspections for your home will vary depending on the age, style and materials of your roof.
    A full-scale roof replacement is one of the more costly home repair projects you can undertake, but periodic inspections and subsequent smaller repairs can extend the life of this vital structure. 

  • The article is taken from one of our recent Newsletters that was e-mailed to all registered subscribers, via our RE/MAX of New Jersey web site.

    Visit my web site for real estate services and support: [NJ/PA]
    and visit to find the latest New Jersey Real Estate property listings (Residential, Commercial, Multi-Family, Farm, Land). 

    Copyright 2014 by Lawrence Yerkes. All Rights Reserved.

    Monday, December 02, 2013

    Delaware Valley Land Use Organizations

    Here's a quick list of online links for land use organizations in the Delaware Valley:

    Note: this will be expanded in a later blog. 

    The article is taken from one of our recent Newsletters that was e-mailed to all registered subscribers, via our RE/MAX of New Jersey web site.

    Visit my web site for real estate services and support: [NJ/PA]
    and visit to find the latest New Jersey Real Estate property listings (Residential, Commercial, Multi-Family, Farm, Land).  
    Copyright 2013 by Lawrence Yerkes. All Rights Reserved.

    Monday, December 03, 2012

    Reverse Mortgages

    Reverse Mortgages - Convert Home Equity into Usable Dollars
    Maybe you’ve watched the value of your home skyrocket but wonder how it really benefits you, especially if you’re feeling house-rich and cash-poor. Many seniors find maintaining a home daunting, especially while they’re trying to enjoy a quality retirement, meet daily living and medical expenses, and fund hobbies. Some are overcoming such financial hurdles by taking out reverse mortgages. Such loans allow you to convert your home equity into dollars. Those dollars then can be used for anything from upgrading your current home to paying for medicine or home-based health care. You poured money into your house for years and now you’re reversing the process—taking money out. A reverse mortgage is a loan, yet functions as if you sold your home early and you’re getting paid while still occupying the propertyClick here for the full article:Reverse Mortgages, including the The Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM)Related Books:-Reverse Mortgages for Dummies by Sarah Glendon Lyons and John E. Lucas (Wiley Publishing, Inc., 2005)-The New Reverse Mortgage Formula: How to Convert Home Equity into Tax-Free Income by Tom Kelly (Wiley, 2005)

    HUD HECM or Reverse Mortgages for Seniors
    The HECM FHA insured reverse mortgage can be used by senior homeowners age 62 and older to convert the equity in their home into monthly streams of income and/or a line of credit to be repaid when they no longer occupy the home. The loan, commonly known by HUD as HECM (for Home Equity Conversion Mortgage), is funded by a lending institution such as a mortgage lender, bank, credit union or savings and loan association
    Seniors Live Large On A Reverse Home Mortgage(April 26, 2005) -- Reverse mortgages have become one of the fastest-growing products in the residential-finance industry, and the increase is being fueled by elderly people who want to tap the equity in their homes so that they can live a pampered lifestyle.Mortgage industry observers say seniors are now taking out reverse mortgages to purchase airplanes and recreational vehicles, rent apartments in cities such as Paris, and buy second homes as vacation properties."The product has evolved from needs-based reasons," says James Mahoney, senior funding CEO of Financial Freedom, of reverse mortgages, which initially were used primarily to avoid foreclosure, make needed home repairs, and cover prescription drug costs and other living expenses.The federally insured reverse mortgage product has doubled to about 38,000 loans worth approximately $6 billion for the fiscal year ended Sept. 30.Source: The Wall Street Journal (04/26/05); Greene, KellySee prior blog entry: Real Estate Matters: News & Issues for the Mature Market - 1st Quarter 2004 > Considering A Reverse Mortgage

    Real Estate Matters - Silver Edition
    News & Issues for the Mature MarketQuarterly Newsletter – January 2004

    Considering A Reverse Mortgage
    Today’s steadily rising home values, lower interest rates, and greater public awareness are slowly fueling a jump in reverse mortgages. In contrast to past borrowers that tended to be widows in their late 70’s in desperate need of income, younger couples are starting to see reverse mortgages as a way to finance the lifestyle they want and need. Reverse mortgages allow homeowners 62 years and older to turn their home equity into tax-free csh.The loans are expensive – with fees that range from $6,000 to $12,000 per loan – and because the loans diminish the value of the home to heirs, family members need to be part of the decision. However, older Americans in need of sources of cash may greatly benefit from a reverse mortgage. There are few up-front costs, and federal safeguards ensure homeowners will never owe more than the home’s value. The loan is repaid from the proceeds of the home sale after the borrower passes away or moves.A reverse mortgage can offer an interesting solution for seniors who need cash to pay for long- term care services or insurance, home repair, or day- to-day expenses that become a burden in retirement. It is wise to consider all other options first, including local programs or services in your community that may be quicker and cheaper. Besides getting individual counseling before considering a reverse mortgage, other tips before borrowing include:· Do your research – The Internet can provide general tips and in-depth details on how reverse mortgages works. Check out AARP’s reverse mortgage site at, and the National Center for Home Equity Conversion’s site,· Be prepared to make complex decisions – Borrowers have to assess how they’d like payouts as well as choosing when to take adjustments on their variable interest rate.· Tax and other considerations – Homeowners remain responsible for property tax, insurance and maintenance and payouts may affect Medicaid payments.

    (Source: Reverse Mortgages Gaining. 7 Dec 2003. )

    HUD's web site has a wealth of homeowner resources for maintaining a home and maximizing the value of a home as an investment. Topics include: "Maintaining and Improving Your Home", "Energy and Your Home Environment", "Paying Your Mortgage", "Refinancing", "Reverse Mortgages", "Refinancing", "Manufactured Homes", "Disaster Relief" and more.Check it out at:

    The article is taken from one of our recent Newsletters that was e-mailed to all registered subscribers, via our RE/MAX of New Jersey web site.

    Visit my web site for real estate services and support: [NJ/PA]
    and visit to find the latest New Jersey Real Estate property listings (Residential, Commercial, Multi-Family, Farm, Land). 

    Copyright 2012 by Lawrence Yerkes. All Rights Reserved.

    Saturday, September 24, 2011

    Buying a Waterfront Home

    For homebuyers, deciding what you want – and need – in a home is crucial. Savvy buyers take time to research and gather information in order to make the most informed decision possible. For those interested in buying a waterfront home, knowing the ins and outs of this specialty market is absolutely essential. Whether drawn to the ocean shore or the river’s bank, the primer below will guide interested homebuyers on how to purchase that little slice of paradise by the water’s edge.
    What is your waterfront lifestyle? As with any home, understanding your needs will help you better evaluate eligible properties. If you are considering the purchase of a waterfront property as a vacation or second home, you may want to get a feel for how active the vacation rental market is for the periods that you will not be using the home. However, if you are looking to find a waterfront home to serve as your primary residence, you will be less concerned about the local vacation rental market and likely more concerned with access to important services in the area.

    Likewise, you’ll want to consider the types of activities you enjoy. This is of particular importance if you’re considering the home as a vacation getaway. Whether summer home or full-time abode, you want to make sure the property you choose makes it easy for you to enjoy your favorite pastimes.

    • Swimming – The thought of being able to step out one’s back door for a casual swim is enough to entice many to a home on the shore. If swimming is high on your list, you’ll want to evaluate potential properties both for the quality of swimming as well as ease of access and safety. For riverfront properties, how fast is the current during hot summer months? For coastlines, are there any rip tides or outbound currents that could present danger? Is the potential swimming area near boating lanes or docks? How easily can the shore be accessed (for instance, is the best potential swimming area down a steep trail or long set of stairs)? Remember to evaluate safety concerns not only in terms of you and your family, but your potential houseguests that may include young children.
    • Boating - For avid boaters, the size of the boat becomes a crucial part of finding a waterfront property. Many waterfront properties are not suitable for a larger boat due to river depth, oyster beds or tides. Even if the overall body of water is deep enough for bigger vessels, there may not be adequate access all the way up to your property. You will also want to consider the type of boating activities you like the most. Many smaller lakes do not allow waterskiing or jet skiing.
    • Fishing - Fishermen will want to stick to properties with easy access to the water. Talk to homeowners and residents throughout the area to get a feel for the quality of local fishing. From there, it largely depends on the type of fishing you like most.
    • Kayaking or canoeing - While large, active bodies of water are a good fit for many boaters, some buyers may be looking for a more intimate waterfront experience. Rivers and smaller lakes are especially good fits for kayakers or canoe enthusiasts, especially those who prefer to enjoy the quiet of nature rather than compete with jet skis and power boats.

    Carefully evaluate the property – Some homeowners will fall in love with a waterfront home without paying much heed to the property it sits on. An idyllic waterfront home may turn out to be a disappointment if you later realize that views are obscured from inside, there is poor access to the water, or you’re 30 feet from a noisy public boat launch.

    Don’t lose sight of the home itself – By the same token, it can be tempting to fall in love with a perfect patch of property that houses a less than perfect structure. Unless you have the appetite for a major remodel or teardown and rebuild project in the future, you’ll want to openly and honestly review each home independent of the surrounding property. Does the house meet the basic criteria you defined at the outset of your search? Does the home compliment the property? Is it someplace you could see yourself happily living?

    Look into loans early - Many waterfront properties are more expensive than other properties and home loans can often fall into the jumbo mortgage category. Lenders will therefore only consider very qualified buyers. Begin the process of mortgage shopping sooner rather than later.

    Weather the weather - In general, waterfront homes receive more abuse from the elements than the average home. Extra measures should be taken to protect homes near water, especially those along open coasts. Depending on the area, the home may need storm shutters, corrosion-resistant stainless-steel locks, and special landscaping measures.

    What is the insurance like? Savvy buyers will investigate home insurance in the area in order to understand what they're getting into. Waterfront homeowners may be required to buy additional policies such as wind policies, flood policies and general hazard policies. In addition, obtaining standard homeowner’s insurance may be more complicated and costly due to the liabilities and hazards of living on or near a body of water.

    Find out what you can do with the property - If you are contemplating the idea of any changes to the waterfront property, such as adding a dock or a seawall, investigate the process before buying to ensure that these updates will be possible. Government agencies often have strict and unyielding land use regulations, and you don't want to commit to the considerable commitment of a home purchase without knowing that you can safely do what you want to make it your own. As mentioned above, you should check with local regulatory agencies to find out what kind of activities are allowed on the body of water, as some areas have restrictions on jet skis, speedboats and other watercraft.

    Talk to neighbors and local residents – Ask neighbors and other locals whether or not they enjoy living in the community. Find out if there are any problems associated with owning waterfront property in the area. If at all possible, ask if there are any issues with the individual property or properties you are considering.

    Check on the utilities – In many cases, waterfront properties are not necessarily on the beaten path. Buyers accustomed to the city or suburbs may assume that electricity, city water, septic system, cable and high-speed Internet will be readily available at their new waterfront home, but things may not be so simple. Many waterfront homes operate on well systems, and homes near bodies of water often have delicate plumbing. In addition, many rural waterfront areas are not wired for high speed internet or broadband cable. Adding some of these services may be expensive, or simply not possible.

    How’s the view from there? More than anything else, the kind of view a waterfront home affords is the one attribute that can be universally enjoyed. A home with a picturesque view allows you to enjoy your waterfront setting regardless of whether or not you engage in activities in, on, and around the water. When looking at potential properties, consider how well the home takes advantage of available views. Are windows large and well placed? Are common gathering rooms situated around viewpoints, or are the best angles relegated to kitchen window peek-a-boos? Do outdoor patios, porches, or decks provide an open air view venue?

    How level is the property? Often overlooked, the terrain of the home’s property is actually quite important. Flatter lots allow easier access to the water for people of all ages, and allow for a wider range of outdoor activities.

    Privacy concerns – The amount of water frontage the property has will influence just how much privacy you and your family are afforded. Properties with 50 feet of frontage or less will offer very little privacy. At 100 feet of frontage, you will have more privacy, while 150-200 feet gives you a strong degree of privacy. In general, however, if you have a great water view it can work both ways – those on the water can also see you as well.

    Bargains - Buying a waterfront home can be a pricey prospect. Here are a few simple strategies to save without heading for the hills.

    • Buy a street or two away from the water - Second-row beach and lake homes drop dramatically in price, yet usually are only a short trip away from the water. Homes farther from waterfront are also less affected by storm weather.
    • Go condo - Condos are traditionally good buys because developers can put more of them on a smaller amount of property, giving their investment a bigger payoff and passing some of the savings along to the buyers. Don't forget to consider maintenance and homeowners association fees when you calculate your payments.
    • Consider a duplex - Duplexes are particularly popular at the beach and are a great way to land a freestanding home at a lower price.

    The article is taken from one of our recent Newsletters that was e-mailed to all registered subscribers, via our RE/MAX of New Jersey web site.

    Visit my web site for real estate services and support: [NJ/PA]
    and visit to find the latest New Jersey Real Estate property listings (Residential, Commercial, Multi-Family, Farm, Land). 

    Copyright 2011 by Lawrence Yerkes. All Rights Reserved.