Don’t Think You Need to Stage Before Selling? Think Again

One of the hardest parts of a Realtor’s job is winning the listing vis-a-vis competitive Realtors and then persuading the seller to make changes to their home.  Right now I have three listings of magnificent homes in South Orange, NJ. South Orange is very well known for having classic homes on beautiful lots with impressive curb appeal. And, all 3 of my listings fit this bill.

However, just because they are beautiful doesn’t mean they don’t require staging to get sold. While I fully appreciate the seller’s tastes and style, they just don’t match up with the tastes and style of today’s home buyers. Today’s buyers are 2 generations behind many empty nesters and their ideas of what makes a house a home are completely different. They want clean lines, pops of color, modern rooms and an open flow. But many sellers decorated heir homes more traditionally – which was the style when they purchased them. Many times that means floral prints, dark color palettes, light floors etc.

Here’s the biggest hint of all. Want to sell your house quickly? Here are 5 things you need to do:

  • If you have wood floors, stain them “Espresso.” That is an actual stain color
  • Paint the walls a light gray and the trim and ceiling bright white
  • Place solid color upholstered pieces sparingly
  • Add decorative pillows with a pop of color
  • Remove all formal drapery from windows – replace with panels or sheers

That’s it – in a nut shell. I was able to update 2 of my listings without painting or re-staining floors. I was able to work around their furniture by repositioning it to open the space more and added accessories in bright colors and varied textures to make it feel crisper. The draperies were all removed and new area rugs were essential. Don’t think you need to stage before selling? Think Again. Here are some before and after shots of 2 homes I recently staged myself after they were already listed.

First Home

Living Room Before

Living Room Before













Living Room After

Living Room After

Alternate View of Living Room Before

Alternate View of Living Room Before














Alternae View of Living Room After















Dining Room Before

Dining Room Before













Dining Room After

Dining Room After














Master Bedroom Before
























Master Bedroom After

Master Bedroom After















Second Home

Entryway Before

Entryway Before

Entryway After

Entryway After

Living Room Before- Alternate View

Living Room Before

Living Room After

Living Room After


Living Room Before – Alternative View

Living Room Alternate View - After

Living Room Alternate View – After


Family Room Before

Family Room Before

Family Room After

Family Room After

Hall Bath Before

Hall Bath Before

Hall Bath After

Hall Bath After




Master Bedroom Before

Master Bedroom Before

Master Bed with vcurtains good

Master Bedroom After








3 South Orange Homes for Sale

Three South Orange homes are now for sale in various locations and price points and at least one is sure to meet your needs.

Option I – 535 Longview Road South Orange, NJ 07079

A large Tudor style home perched high on a hilltop with sweeping NYC skyline views. Located in the Newstead section of South Orange. It has 6 bedrooms / 5 1/2 baths, totally renovated on .71 acres. List Price $1,250,000.

Option II – 635 Longview Road South Orange, NJ 07079 

Brick, center hall colonial home also located in the Newstead section of South Orange. A corner property with great space 5 bedrooms, 3 1/2 baths, brand new kitchen, family room off kitchen, central air, built-in generator. The jitney stops right in front making it an ideal spot for NYC commuters. List price $799,000.

Option III – 391 Thornden Street, South Orange, NJ 07079

Stone front, side hall colonial – perfect for NYC commuters since it is just 3,600 feet to the town and train. It has 5 bedrooms 3/12 baths, eat-in kitchen, first floor family room and professionally landscaped backyard. List Price $730,000.

View All South Orange Homes Currently for Sale

View Newstead Homes for Sale

Want to Learn more About South Orange? Get a free neighborhood report.

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Help Me Find a House


635 Longview Road South Orange NJ 07079 – For Sale

635 Lonview Road South Orange NJ 07079

This stately, brick, colonial home located at 635 Longview Road, South Orange, NJ 07079 will be for sale very shortly. It has amazing curbside appeal, sitting on a large corner lot in the highly sought after Newstead section of South Orange (read more about what makes Newstead so special).

There are numerous amenities that will make this home a “must buy” for those seeking a traditional colonial updated for today’s lifestyle. The kitchen was gutted and renovated in 2014. It has great counter space and a smart layout for those who enjoy cooking and entertaining. It has a center island, Subzero refrigerator with 2 freezer drawers, 2 Thermador wall ovens, Wolf gas cooktop with exhaust and warming drawer. It has also has multi zone central air conditioning and a built in generator.

Upon entering you are welcomed by an impressive, light filled, center hall flanked by the formal dining and living rooms. There are 2 bonus rooms on the first floor. One is a family room off the kitchen and the other is currently used as an entertaining space.

On the second floor there are 4 spacious bedrooms, the hall bath and the master bath that includes a jetted tub and stall shower.

There is a full finished basement that has a built in bar, large family/rec room, tile floor, windows, the laundry room and a full bedroom and bath.

The backyard has a custom designed patio and the sweeping side yard is surrounded by mature plantings providing  open space and privacy.

635 Lonview Road South Orange NJ 07079 side yard

The list price is $819,000.

If you, or someone you know is interested in seeing this beautiful home please call/text me at (917) 327-0701 and I can give you a private showing

Home for Sale in South Orange – 535 Longview Road

This home for sale in South Orange – 535 Longview Road is in the Newstead neighborhood of South Orange, one of the premier areas in town. It will be coming on the market about June 1, 2015, but I couldn’t resist sneaking some pictures in when I was there today. It has 6 bedrooms and 5 1/2 fully renovated bathrooms a gourmet kitchen, formal living and dining rooms, a family room, media room, rec room and more.

What makes this such a distinctive home is the architectural detail and its prime location. It sits perched up high on a hill with panoramic New York skyline views. The individual rooms are generously proportioned and are defined by arched door ways, wooden beams and wainscot panels. Leaded glass windows also attribute to this homes gracious charm.

535 longview road south orange for sale










classic tudor style vestibule









formal dining room with wood beams and wood panels










The kitchen was completely renovated top to bottom and maintains the integrity of a true Tudor style home. It is surrounded by windows and French doors which lead to the back patio and barbeque. There is ample seating around the center island and  also in the breakfast area.


gourmet chefs kitchen










kitchen center island










There are 6 bedrooms, 5 full baths and 1 powder room. All of the bathrooms have been renovated, the house central air conditioning, gas heat and digital music system with speakers throughout the house. It is a true one-of-a-kind-home ideal for those who want something extra-ordinary.

The property and location are incredible

new york skyline view
View the interactive floor plan below for more details


 For a private showing please call or text Amy at (917) 327-0701

Where Do You Stand on the Nail Salon Debate?

handsLast week, the New York Times ran an investigative report about the inner workings of nail salons in the New York/New Jersey area. We’ve all benefitted from these sanctuaries where we can walk in without an appointment, be seated and experience a good quality manicure at an incredibly low price. While manicures used to be an indulgence for the affluent, these salons have enabled us to make it a weekly activity – especially for professional women who need to look “polished.”

But, now that I know what is involved in keeping the prices so low – it makes me feel guilty about patronizing them. How about you? Where do you stand on the nail salon debate? While we all enjoy a good set of nails, can we really indulge the salon’s practices of providing below minimum wage labor and poor living conditions for their employees? The article revealed that most manicurists work for free or have to actually pay their employers during their training period. This can last from several months to a year.

Newer immigrants that are desperate for an opportunity live in small, crowded apartments with a mattress on the floor and a mere curtain as a room divider from the many other “trainees” also living there. It’s a warehousing approach and is often the only opportunity young, largely female immigrants have for a ticket out of their own poverty stricken country to the USA. Knowing this, where do you stand on the nail salon debate?

I equate it to the incredibly attractive prices of clothing and accessories found ant Old Navy or The Gap. Its great style for not slot of money. However, do you wonder how they make this possible? Many investigative reports reveal they use factories in third world countries who often employ child labor and pay practically no wages. Does this type of business model make you feel guilty for patronizing these stores?

Shouldn’t these employers be forced to pay a fair wage? If a manicure cost $25 instead of $10 would it prevent you from getting one? Or would it mean you get one less often?  In true capitalism, competition is good. However, unfair competitors, who don’t play by the rules, ruin it for the business environment and for the economy. If nail salon owners paid fair wages their employees would have more money to buy goods and services, therefore improving the economy. By keeping these employees “working poor” we deny them the true American Dream for our own selfish need to have nice nails at a cheap price. Giulty as charged!


391 Thornden Street, South Orange, NJ Coming Soon

391 Thornden Street, South Orange, NJ

Boy, you won’t want to miss out on seeing 391 Thornden Street in South Orange, NJ coming soon to market. Unless of course you want to see it before hand. With an exclusive listing Realtors can show buyers homes that are not yet available to the public and therefor not on any of the portal sites like Zillow, Trulia, or It’s one of the great benefits of having a good working relationship with a Realtor and gives you the competitive edge you need in the current market.

Step inside this stone front colonial style home, just steps from the train, and enjoy total relaxation and comfort. With an updated eat-in kitchen, formal living room with wood burning fireplace, family room, 2 car attached garage and mudroom it provides a great floor plan for today’s living.The second floor has 4 generous sized bedrooms with 2 full baths including a master suite.

But perhaps the best part of this house is the beautifully landscaped backyard with stone patio that is incredibly hard to find so close to town.  The list price is $730,000. For more information or to schedule a showing text (917) 327-0701.

garden2 - Copy

391 Thornden Street South Orange NJ

Newstead South Orange

Newstead, South Orange is one of the 5 neighborhoods within the South Orange Village Township. It is located north and west of the downtown and is a very quiet enclave. The topography is very flat making it a great place for kids who love to bike and skateboard. It sits up high in the Watchung hills which makes for great New York skyline views from many backyards — especially those on Crest Drive, Crestwood Drive and Longview. It also backs up to the Essex County South Mountain Reservation which has hundreds of acres of protected land and makes an ideal place for hikes, walks and biking.

Newstead was developed later than the Historic Montrose neighborhood (the other neighborhood with larger homes and sizable property) so the homes are  a bit newer and vary in style. While Montrose homes fall into the three main categories (Colonials, Tudors and Victorians) Newstead also offers some classic Mid Century style homes as well.

Newstead Schools:
The Newstead resident’s children attend The Annex (located in Newstead) for K-1st grade. Then they attend South Mountain Elementary for grades 2-5th, South Orange Middle School, followed by Columbia High School. You can check out South Mountain’s school rankings here.

Newstead Neighborhood Association:
The Newstead Neighborhood Association was started about 15 years ago by members of the community. It has been a great way for new residents to meet their  neighbors and for the entire neighborhood to socialize together. They host everything from wine tastings to cocktail parties, family days etc. You can read more the Newstead Neighborhood Association here.

Commuting from Newstead
The South Orange Village Jitney has several stops in Newstead to take residents to the village train station. Its about a 10 minute ride and costs about $1.00 per ride. Learn more about the stops and the schedule here.

Newstead Real Estate:
Newstead real estate is doing very well in the current market (spring 2015).  Prices are rising and it is really a seller’s market. Here are some of my favorite styles of homes you can expect to find in Newstead

Newstead South Orange NJ Tudor Home Sold


Mid Century Ranch in Newstead South Orange NJClick here to view current homes for sale in Newstead.


US Home Sales and Prices Continue to Rise

Most of my blog posts regarding market insights pertain to the communities I serve. But sometimes it is wise to take a step back and see how the housing market in the US is doing overall. The good news is US home sales and prices continue to rise. Back a few years ago it was predicted by many leading real estate experts that 2015 would be the year for real estate – and boy were they right.US home sales May 2015


The reasons? Well, there are many ways we can dissect this cycle. First —  it is just that–a cycle and after things go down they generally go up. Secondly, today’s home buyers feel a whole lot more secure about their job and their future within their profession. Third – houses are still relatively cheap. With interest rates still under 4% mortgages are really cheap, hence making the price of a home much more affordable.

Fourth, the buyers who are moving up, can do just that since their current home has greater value and they have increased their equity in it. Fifth, the lenders are easing up a bit on lending money. There are a huge array of products in the mortgage industry and not every institution offers the same thing, so make sure to compare. Some even offer 5% down loans.

Put it all together and real estate is probably the best investment you can make right now.




Let’s Talk About Racism

Its hard to watch so much civil unrest in cities across the nation without having compassion for those who are protesting police brutality. We are fortunate to live in diverse communities where our police departments seem to be fair minded. In South Orange police personnel actually write tickets for “good behavior” so that youngsters will have a positive interaction with them and to show they are not only “out to get you.”

But, our reality is not everyone’s reality. We still have so much work to do so that black youth are not marginalized and profiled across the country. That’s why I find my work at The Community Coalition on Race so critical. We strive to keep the balance of diversity with true integration. Not only do we live side by side, but we also pray and socialize together as well.

The Community Coalition on Race

One of the most important programs we run is our “Conversations on Race.” It’s not enough  to have diversity in our community, we also need to have the right platform to talk about it. Our next big conversation will feature the topic Micro Aggression – a term used to define everyday racism, or those small, unconscious racist expressions that offend. A good example is a woman holding her purse tighter when a young black man steps into the elevator with her. Believe me he saw her reaction and was offended. I admit I have done this at one time or another and maybe you have too. That’s why we need to talk. So please join the discussion on May 13th at our Conversations on Race event (see details here).

Our country still has a great deal of work to do with regard to civil rights, but watching all of the protests on television makes feel proud and optimistic about their resolve.  Change on a large scale only happens with effective protesting. Make your voices heard.

What Do You Get For $5,000,000 or More in NJ?

Have you ever wondered “what do you get for $5,000,000 or more in the high end neighborhoods of Short Hills, Livingston and Summit NJ?” Well, wonder no more. Below are all the homes currently listed for $5,000,000 or more in these 3 towns.

Listed for $5,000,000+ in Short Hills

Short Hills home for sale

In Short Hills there are currently two properties for sale priced at $5,000,000+. This one is at 44 Montview in the Old Short Hills section that was built in 1908 and sits on 2.3 acres, has 6 bedrooms, 6 full baths, 4 half baths and 12,500 of living space. No Dorothy, we are not in Beverly Hills- we are clearly in Short Hills. Listed for $7,995,000 this estate has a salt water pool, putting green and formal gardens.  View details here.



Homes for Sale Short HillsThis estate is also located in the Old Short Hills section and has been on the market for an extended period of time. It is listed at $5,999,000 – a major price reduction – and has 17,000 square feet of living space. Unfortunately it does not have a pool, but it does have 7 bedrooms, 6 full baths, 3 half baths, a formal music room, a conservatory,  a library, and 2 master baths. This home is ideal for a couple who like their independence. View more pics and details here.

Listed for $5,000,000+ in Livingston

Listed for $5,000,000 or more in Livingston NJOnce the home of Governor Kean’s father, you can have this 5 acre estate in Livingston for $7,888,002 . It is a Georgian style stone mansion also built in 1900. That’s pretty rare for Livingston when much of the town’s housing stock was developed in the 1960’s-1970’s. This home offers 14 bedrooms, yes 14, 7 full baths, 2 full kitchens, 15 fireplaces and an elevator. It comes with a pool, tennis court, garden house, indoor squash court and a 6 car garage.  View more pics and details here.



homes for sale in livingston

Want to live like you are on a permanent vacation? Then this estate in the very exclusive Bell-Air section of Livingston may be just right for you. It has 20,000 square feet of living space including 10 bedrooms and 11 full baths. The amenities include a full sized in-door pool, full sized racquetball court and a Jacuzzi tub.  All of this and so much more for $6,800,000. View details and pics here.




Listed for $5,000,000+ in Summit

summit home for saleLocated in the desirable Northside neighborhood of Summit is this Spanish colonial revival estate that sits on 2.3 acres. There is 13,000 square feet of living space including 7 bedrooms and 9 full baths. Aside from the high ceilings, carved moldings and mahogany floors, this home also includes a recreation room, pub room, exercise room and locker room. Not bad for a list price of $8,250,000. See pics and details here.




home for sale in Summit designed by Henry BacThis estate offers the unique opportunity to own a piece of history. Designed by famed architect Henry Bacon – best known for designing the Lincoln Memorial, this home comes with a name- La Ferta.  It was built in 1901, in the Beaux Arts style that Bacon was famous for.  It offers 10,000 square feet of living space including 9 bedrooms, 7 full baths listed for $6,900,000.   Enjoy the gallery of photos here.




homes for sale in summitThis listing is for a home to be custom built in the Northside neighborhood of Summit. It will offer 9,000 square feet of living space on 1.9 acres with  a pool and unobstructed views of the Manhattan skyline.  List price- $6,000,000. View more details here.