Winter Outdoor Staging Tips – NJ Real Estate Appraisal Suggestions

Houses sell all year long. During the winter season, it can be more challenging. It is essential to maintain the curb appeal to get the buyer from the curb to the front door. There are ways to accomplish it THOUGH. If you know that the house will be on the market during the winter, preparation should begin in September.

  • If you use a lawn service, explain to them the house will be on the market during the winter. They can provide some ideas and suggestions. Make sure all the leaves have been raked up, all the outside furniture is layout well, all hoses and miscellaneous outdoor items are put away to create a pleasant and organized appearance. Finally, ensure that the front lawn has had the final cut for the season, and all the brushes and plants have been trimmed.
  • The front door painted and steps have been cleaned. If there is snow or ice, be sure that the walkway and driveway are shoveled and maintained.
  • On the front door, you may want to place a wreath or have planters on the porch. A suggestion is during the winter put something that will hold up like evergreens.
  • The address numbers should be well displayed.
  • Some outdoor lighting can brighten the front of the house nicely. Contact a company that specializes in it.


Before you finish, go to the curb, stand there and look at your work. As always, work with the local Realtor for their ideas and suggestions. Remember serious buyers are looking all year long.

How to prepare for Tax appeals

Filing a tax appeal can be a big challenge, but with the proper planning and timing, you can be successful. In New Jersey depending upon which county you reside in, the due dates for a tax appeal will vary. Some counties like Monmouth County the filing date is January 15th and in the other counties are April 1st. Before you decide to file a tax appeal find out which date is correct for your county. In counties where there is a municipal-wide reassessment has been performed the deadline is May 1st.

The first step you should do is meet with your local tax assessor and discuss the property record card. Make sure all the information on it is correct.

If you are not satisfied with your local municipalities assessment, then fill out the paperwork for a tax appeal. You will have to provide to the tax board reasons you believe your property is over-assessed. You will have to supply closed sales that are similar to your property. An example would be the size of and the number of rooms, land features and property amenities.

Do not let this keep you from reaching out to your local tax assessor any time during the tax year. Before filing a tax appeal, we can accurately evaluate and discuss your tax assessment.

Some people hire real estate appraisers such Coast Appraisers and Consultants to prepare a property appraisal. In some extreme cases, people hire firms specializing in tax appeals and attorneys.

Remember that in your county with revised calendars the reassessment date may be different, so check with your municipality. It is essential to give yourself enough time to gather your facts and records to ensure you are on track to validating a reassessment of your property.


It is essential to give yourself enough time to gather your facts and records to ensure you are on track to validating a reassessment of your property.

Property permits— What you need to know

When you are looking to do work on your house or property some work requires a property permit. It is suggested you contact your construction (permit) department to find out what the requirements are. If you are looking to do an addition, you may be required to get the property surveyed.

If you are doing the addition yourself, the town may require a drawing and or architect plans. If you are looking to hire someone to do the work, you should get a few quotes. Make sure you get references and check if they have insurance and the specific license to do the work. If they are using sub-contractors, you need to make sure they have insurance and license also.

If the work is on the property make sure the utility companies are notified the saying is “call before you dig.” Doing renovation/construction work outside may change the coverage a lot. An example would be adding a patio, deck, pool or an extended the driveway. You need to check with the town if there are ordinance’s pertaining to exterior work.

In New Jersey, there have been some recent changes that some work does not require permits, such as installing a roof, siding, alarm systems (residential), etc.

It is suggested even though they do not require a permit, that you have the construction department come out and inspect the work. To make sure it was done in a workmanlike manner. FYI the construction department will only come out if a permit is filed.

When you decide on a contractor to do the work be careful not to pay them all the money up front. You should set up a draw system when some of the work is done they are paid for the work finish. It is essential that you and the contractor are on the same page with the type of material and color before it is delivered or installed.

If the contractor is using sub-contractors make sure they have been paid because if they are not paid by the contractor. You might be responsible for paying them. You should check that no mechanic liens have been placed on the property after the work is completed.

Title Insurance–Know the details even after a closing

When you are purchasing a house, many things occupy your time. One thing is that you need title insurance not because you want to spend the money, but the Bank, Lender or Mortgage Company requires it. Since title insurance is required and you’ve hired a lawyer or the title company to do your closing, you let these other professionals handle such things.You concentrate on your work, and you pay others to do theirs. And you assume it is being done correctly.

Below is case in point:

I recently was selling my house, and to my surprise, I found out that my title had a cloud or defect. A defect or cloud is defined as “any irregularity in the chain of title of property (usually real property) that would give a reasonable person pause before accepting a conveyance of title.” My defect/cloud pertained to a 2003 mortgage that was paid off but not recorded correctly or discharged properly and remained outstanding.

As one can imagine this was quite a shock! My home was under contract, and the buyer wanted to close quickly. With the attorney representing me for the potential sale, a firm specializing in defected title retained. More infuriating was that I had refinanced in 2005 and that title company did not correct the issue either
Or made an “exception.” This became extremely frustrating especially since I had paid other “professionals” to do their job and now I could lose the buyer of my home. The closing on my house was delayed, and the deal almost fell thru.

When I found out, I contacted the title company and informed them of their mistakes and the did not care. I had to spend my own money and time to track down the original loan officer, attorney, mortgage company and bank. The mortgage company and the bank were out of business, and the loan officer and attorney were retired. I was able thru research to find out the bank assets were sold to another bank. They informed me the loan was paid in full.

I contacted Mortgage Electronic Registration MERS with this information, and they said they would research into this. The new bank had an email with documentation showing the loan was paid off, I submit that to MERS also. Unfortunately, you need to make sure that the person is handling your title insurance not only on the mortgage but coverage for yourself.

If you are doing a refinance you should see if you can get a title insurance coverage for your self not just covering the mortgage. It is called ALTA lenders title policy with no deletions. I would suggest to everyone when you close on a house or do a refinance. You should run a title search 30 to 60 days afterward to make sure everything was filed correctly. Every few years you should do a title search to make sure there are no liens or errors.

Recently I completed an appraisal assignment, and the lender told me I did not report a recent sale of the subject property per their title company. I told the lender there must be fraud involved, my information was from the tax records showing a previous sale a few years earlier. The conclusion was I was correct, and the title company made the error. I took this issue from the lender serious for me it is USPAP violation, and I could have a problem with the state license board. The title company has no responsibility it is called a scribe error.

The reason I mention this about the title company it is the same one that damaged me personally years ago and was now hurting me professionally.

Cost vs. Value, the truth before you start

Cost does not always equal value when you are looking to do a renovation. Over-improving the kitchen, bathroom, and other critical sections of the property, you will not always get dollar for dollar back. You should discuss your project with a home improvement person, realtor or real estate appraiser if you are planning a renovation.

If you do the renovation try not to make it too customized. When you go to sell the home, the typical buyer may not want that type of customization.

When some people do additions, they do not expect to get back their full cost, because they made special improvements. Ex. An example is doing an addition for their relatives. The market is not always willing to pay for this special improvement.

With new construction, there is sometimes a lot of premium. A discussion with some appraisers that the cost of the lot premium does not always increase or stay the same over time. It has actually decreased over time. In one marketplace a builder was adding inground pools with new construction purchases. They did a few and stopped. The market did not support it.

When I did an addition on my house, I did cedar impression siding on the whole house. It looked good I did not get my cost back. The old siding was replaced with the cedar impression. I added a front cover porch, it looks good. Again, I did not recover my cost from it.

You can go into the marketplace and see what people are paying or looking at to see if cost equals value.

If the improvements are not common in the area, there may be a more substantial difference cost to value. The “principle of substitution” also plays a part with the cost to value. The principle of substitution says that one person may not pay the same for that renovation as the next person.
These are well accepted and document theories.

Keep in mind that when making adjustments, we are attempting to estimate the contributory value ( positive or negative ) of each characteristic or amenity of the subject versus the comparable’ s and not necessarily the financial cost of each item.

4th Annual Strategic Real Estate & Lending Summit

4th Annual Strategic Real Estate & Lending Summit Coast Appraisers & Consultants will be participating in the 4th Annual Strategic Real Estate & Lending Summit on June 19th, 2018 in New York City. This full-day educational-filled summit will cover residential and commercial markets, highlighting regulatory and compliance challenges, and will explore emerging technology trends influencing the industry.

If you are a banker, realtor, real estate appraiser, mortgage rep, title company or attorney this is a good conference to attend.