Category Archives: Home Ownership

Say Bye-Bye to Mosquitoes and Ticks!

We’re well into spring, the flowers are blooming, the sun is shining, and it SHOULD be a wonderful time to get some fresh air! But two things can majorly get in the way of enjoying the great outdoors: TICKS and MOSQUITOES. I don’t know about you, but I’d like to enjoy my patio without having to worry incessantly about either of those pests!

 

With the large population of deer combined with the rivers and ponds in our area, it’s an unfortunate truth that we have to deal with ticks and mosquitoes. The threat of Lyme disease makes ticks particularly worrisome, and their tiny size means that many bites go unnoticed. As for mosquitoes: not only do their bites itch like crazy (and they just loooove biting some people more than others–you know who you are!), they also carry dangerous diseases and can cause secondary infections.

Last Bite MosquitoIn recent years I’d heard glowing reviews of businesses that will treat your yard periodically to ward off ticks and mosquitoes. One friend said it was “life changing,” now that her family was able to enjoy pest-free backyard living after suffering endless mosquito bites in years past. It almost sounded too good to be true. I caught up with the co-owner of Last Bite Mosquito Control to discuss these services and see what all the fuss is about. 

Last Bite is based out of Monmouth County but services all of Union County. They are members of the Westfield Chamber of Commerce and will soon be opening an office in town. Twin brothers and physical education teachers Jason and Jeremy Julio launched the company in 2013, after Jeremy’s son had contracted a staph infection from an infected mosquito bite (scary!). They thoroughly researched mosquito and tick prevention, got licensed, and their family company has grown exponentially ever since. 

When it comes to preventing mosquitoes in your own backyard, home remedies just don’t cut it. Jason said, “Mosquitoes can breed in something as small as a bottlecap.” So even if you get rid of a couple of mosquitoes here and there, it takes an expert to locate and treat the breeding areas of mosquitoes. 

The treatment process is described as follows on Last Bite’s website: 

Last Bite Mosquito Control has highly trained and licensed technicians that will survey your yard and identify any high risk areas that could be used as mosquito breeding grounds.  A fine mist of our Barrier Spray (derived from the chrysanthemum plant) will be applied to the perimeter of your home. cThe treatment will include trees, shrubs, evergreens, flowers, foliage plants and all landscaping within the treatment area. Larvicide will then be placed to all mosquito breeding grounds at no additional charge. Our Barrier Spray treatment kills mosquitoes and ticks on contact and continues to provide protection for up to 21 days. All products we use are EPA approved.

You and your pets can use your yard as soon as 30 minutes after it’s been treated by Last Bite! They offer a package where they will come spray every 21 days from spring through fall; a pay-as-you go plan; or or you can purchase a one-time spray, which could be a life-saver for a backyard party you might be hosting. Jason said, “We encourage our customers to have open communication with us to let us know if there’s ever a problem, and we will always come back to your property. Our treatments are 100 percent guaranteed.” 

I’m looking forward to getting my yard treated by Last Bite this month so I can put my feet up on the patio and relax without having to swat myself every five minutes! 

For more information about Last Bite call 866-742-4887 or visit http://www.lastbitemosquito.com

Stop by Last Bite’s booth at Westfield’s Spring Fling on May 7th and tell them Sharon says hello! 

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Another Iconic Cranford Home Sold!

307 Prospect Ave Cranford

 

Sometimes I can’t help but fall in love with a home that my clients are buying or selling. Just take one look at this stunning colonial on Prospect Ave in Cranford, and you’ll see why it was such a pleasure to help my clients Amy and Rich purchase this dream house! It is truly an iconic home with so many standout features that this family will get to enjoy for years to come. My personal favorite feature is the AMAZING sleeping porch at the top of the grand staircase! Currently used as a fantastic family room, it is not difficult to picture it being used during warm summer evenings long ago. It is so charming! And I couldn’t imagine a more wonderful town for anyone to buy a home in…that is why I love living and working in Cranford!

307 Prospect Ave Cranford

If you’re not living in your dream house yet, don’t worry … IT’S OUT THERE! And I can help you find it. You can search properties through this site, but better yet, give me a call or email me so we can discuss your goals. I’m always one step ahead of the market trends and often I know of properties before they hit the MLS. Let’s schedule an appointment to meet to discuss YOUR specific needs! Coffee on me!

 

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ADD VALUE TO YOUR HOME WITH A NEW PATIO!

Patio According to some studies, homeowners could see up to a 75 percent return on investment for the addition of a patio or deck to their property. cAnd a 2016 “Consumer Reports” article suggests that adding a patio or deck could boost the sale price of your home by 3-5 percent! Besides the added monetary value, a deck or patio can provide years of enjoyment and extra entertainment space for any homeowner.

I caught up with Nikki and Jeff Murale of Westfield, who completely renovated their patio this summer and have already been enjoying every square inch of it. I asked Nikki why they decided to expand the patio, and she replied: “We both grew up in homes with fairly small backyards. So when we bought our home with a relatively nice size yard, we knew from day one that we would renovate it someday.  The existing patio was in good condition, but since we both have large families and like to entertain for family, friends and neighbors, expanding the patio seemed like a natural choice for our lifestyle.”

img_0359The Murales’ original patio was a basic stamped concrete square, not large enough for their entertaining goals. Achieving those goals was a multi-step process, which started with years of contemplation and then coming up with their own patio design, which a contractor then implemented. According to Nikki: “The existing concrete patio was ripped out and the yard was graded. A much larger patio made out of paving stones including a border and inlay around the perimeter was installed. We installed a retaining wall including a curved sitting wall, flanked by two lighted pillars, which not only provides function but gives a cohesive look to the patio space. The final touch was installing an outside kitchen/bar, which was customized around our existing equipment of a grill, refrigerated prep table, and beverage refrigerator. The end result is exactly how we envisioned it would be.”

As you can see from the photos, the patio combines beauty with spaciousness and functionality, and the area has truly become an outdoor room. Up next will be the landscaping aspect of the Murales’ backyard. Nikki said, “Landscaping is what we’re calling Phase II, which is scheduled to begin in this month. We’ve been advised by many that the best and safest time to plant trees is in the fall. Future landscaping concept includes trees bordering the entire backyard for privacy as well as beautifying the space. We also plan on planting some small shrubs and dwarf trees on the area where the patio ends and the grass begins. Finally, we intend to start a small vegetable garden for our children to tend to – their idea so it’s their baby!”

Nikki has some valuable advice for those who are considering similar renovations to their property: “The beauty is in the details. Give long and careful consideration on how you plan to use the space. Make it your own. Consider the placement of the grill in relation to where the dining table is, the distance of the kitchen to the sliding doors and the outside entrance point, the flow of the space, etc. To take a small patio and convert it into an outdoor entertaining area that feels like an extension of the house takes time to plan and think through. We found this was best accomplished while sitting outside having cocktails with a sketch pad next to us. So crack open a bottle of wine and let the ideas flow! We are so happy that we did.”

I can’t wait to see the Murales’ patio in the spring with the added landscaping in bloom! I have no doubt that they’ve added value to their already beautiful home, and now they can enjoy it all the more with their kids, their extended family, and their lucky friends!

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Coming Soon In Cranford NJ!!

Every once in a while a truly special home becomes available in Cranford…. here is a sneak peek of one coming soon! Don’t you LOVE the wrap around porch and white picket fence?

319 high st

 

This home features FIVE bedrooms and THREE full baths! Tons of charm and potential!

Address: 319 High St, Cranford

Price: $525,000

Available for showings beginning  Friday, June 24…. Contact us for more details and to schedule an appointment!  

 

Broker of Record: Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage (Harold Maxwell) 908-233-0065
Privacy Policy & Terms Of Service – Copyright 2014, Sharon Steele, All Rights Reserved
Sharon Steele – Licensed Realtor® #0789515 – 600 North Ave. West, Westfield NJ, 07090

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Sneak Peak of an AMAZING Cranford Colonial! Coming Soon!

Sneak Peak!

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This beautiful Cranford Colonial home was built in approximately 1907 and features all the charm of yesterday with the modern amenities of today! It offers three bright and airy bedrooms, one full bath and one half bath, a beautifully updated kitchen, and so much more. You will love sitting on the gracious open front porch which is perfect for sipping lemonade!

 

 

This property will be available for showings beginning on Thursday, April 28, 2016, and is priced at $525,000. Public Open House scheduled May 1 from 1-4pm. 505 Orange Ave, Cranford

 

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You Will LOVE This Cranford Home! Open House Sunday 4/10 1-4pm

16 wadsworth terr

OPEN HOUSE SUNDAY, APRIL 10, 2016 FROM 1-4PM.

PRICED AT $500,000

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

16 Wadsworth TerrWell maintained Home located on beautiful tree lined dead end street * Spacious Rooms, hardwood floors, gas heat, central air, on gorgeous serene lot with patio *Ideally located to Bloomingdale and  Orange Avenue Schools, Cranford Outdoor Pool, Parks and Playgrounds, Downtown Shops & Restaurants, NY Bus & Train Commuter Transportation * Bring your personal touches and make this home your own * Not A Flood Zone* New roof 2013, new steps retaining wall 2012, New Sump Pump and drainage system 2012, New furnace 2013, New Water Heater 2015, Basement renovation 2012, renovated family and powder room 2013, landscaping 2013, new propane generator.

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GSMLS Open House List For Cranford, Westfield, and Surrounding Towns for 12/8/2013

Here is the list of scheduled  GSMLS Open Houses in Cranford, Westfield, Clark, Garwood, Kenilworth, Scotch Plains and Fanwood for Sunday, December 8, 2013. Open Houses are from 1-4pm unless otherwise noted. Please let me know if you would like information about these, or any other properties, and please let the hosting agents know that I sent you!  

Complete the form below if you would like a  No Obligation Market Analysis on your home..

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Preparing Your New Jersey House For Trick Or Treaters

Halloween pumpkin 

 

New Jersey is an AWESOME place to be on Halloween!  Virtually the whole area turns into one giant stage for Halloween performance art.  The streets are filled with huge groups of trick or treaters, and equally excited groups of parents who have just as much fun walking around together.  And if you are the one who stays home  to be in charge of “treat disbursement,” you get to see the parade of adorable little costumes come right to your door.  If you want to optimize this Halloween experience, there are a few things you can do to prepare your home for those little candy-beggars.

Decorate your home’s entrance.   Kids are not going to be excited by your mailbox and a welcome mat.  Even if you just throw some cheesy spider webs and pumpkins around, it makes the whole doorbell-ringing process seem so much more festive! If you decide to go with a lit pumpkin, make sure it’s placed well away from areas that trick-or-treaters will be walking through.  Nothing is more of a buzz-kill than setting your visitors on fire.  Of course, if you’re one of those who likes to get more elaborate on Halloween, then go all out with the decorations!  The spookier the better.  Just keep in mind that there are trick or treaters of all ages, and very young ones will be thwarted by things that are TOO spooky.  And if you’ve ever watched “America’s Funniest Home Videos,” You know NOT to try to be clever, dress up as a scarecrow, and jump out and surprise trick-or-treaters, unless you like getting punched in the face . . . . or . . . other places.

It’s pretty doubtful that anyone wants to spend their post-Halloween days in litigation with those who have tripped and fallen on your property, so be sure your walkway is clear and well-lit.   If you don’t have any exterior lights over your front door, consider adding a few lanterns along your walkway so you don’t have children falling down in your yard.  . If you have anything breakable, such as delicate statues, flowerpots, etc., around your front door, relocate them until the holiday is over. Fake blood on Halloween is great.  Real blood – not so much.

 

Buy plenty of candy. As much as you THINK you’re going to need – double it.  There is nothing more tragic than running out of trick or treat candy.  The later-in-the-evening trick or treaters do NOT want your scavenged Milk Bones or tuna fish cans.  Consider going to a wholesale store like Costco or BJ’s to get the REALLY big bags of candy, where it is probably cheaper than the grocery store.  Dollar Stores are good places to stock up, too.  If you want to insure that YOU won’t eat it all before the trick or treaters get there, buy a kind that you can’t like.  And considering how very many kids there are with peanut allergies, try to find something allergen-free.  Those kids have a hard enough time being different throughout the year.  It really stinks to have to give away your trick or treat candy to avoid anaphylactic shock.

 

Please don’t answer your door in a housedress and curlers.  That’s WAY scarier than mummies or monsters.  You don’t have to go all out, but get a funny hat, goofy glasses, or festive headband.  Make the experience fun! The thrill is in the unexpected!

 

Keep the treats IN, and the tricks OUT, of this year’s trick or treating!

 

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Tips to Protect Your Home From Burglary

Protect Your Home From Burglary

It’s probably one of every homeowner’s greatest fears.  It can rob you, not only of your belongings, but of your peace of mind, as well.  It is a personal invasion as well as a property invasion.  It is burglary, and it is something every homeowner wants to protect against.

Probably the first thing that comes to mind for most in terms of burglary protection is some type of alarm system.  There is a huge variety to choose from, with a huge variety of pricetags.  The cheapest of systems provide noise alone, to deter would-be trespassers, and awaken residents and neighbors to phone emergency services.  The more expensive ones will hook directly up TO a service, which will then contact emergency services for you.  There are even those that can be controlled remotely, from your computer or your phone, whether you are home or not.  These usually offer a lot more than just burglary protection . . . . possibly even allowing you to control your lights, thermostat, and video feeds from home.  It pays to research before having an alarm system installed, to make sure it is the right one to suit your needs, and your wallet.

If an alarm service is not realistic for you, then don’t despair.  There are a great many things, most of which are extremely simple, that homeowners can do to protect themselves from thieves and break-ins.  A little thought and care can actually go a long, long way towards protecting your home and your family.

Burglary is a crime of opportunity, and nobody window shops better than a burglar.  Don’t allow your home to be a storefront of opportunity and marketing.  Don’t, for example, draw undue attention to your home by discarding empty boxes at the curb with your trash.  Lining up empty boxes from TV’s, gaming systems, or appliances after Christmas or a birthday is like displaying a menu of available items in your home.   Break those boxes down and hide them amongst your recyclables.  Use shades, drapes and other window treatments to keep indoor household items that may be tempting out of view and out of temptation.  Essentially, make window shopping at your home impossible.
No burglar wants to walk the red carpet of conspicuousness into your home.  Trim back bushes, shrubs, and trees so that all doors, windows, and porches are visible from the street and sidewalk.  A dark or poorly lit property area makes it easier for a burglar to go about unseen.  Motion-sensored lighting is often a perfect solution, as it prevents the need to have lights on ALL the time.  It is also relatively inexpensive and easy to install.  Using timers is another excellent way to thwart burglary, especially if you are not going to be home for any extended period of time, such as leaving for a vacation.  Timers that are hooked up to indoor lights, as well as radios or televisions, are a great idea. They can run from about $5 – $40, depending on their sophistication, but even a basic plug-in unit can turn a light on and off once or twice a day. A more expensively wired digital outlet switch can switch lights on at any number of set or random times.
The majority of all burglaries take place at ground floor doors and windows, All entry doors should be solid wood or steel-wrapped wood-core doors, because, despite the care you may take to use a variety of locks,  hollow-core doors or old wood-panel doors can be kicked in easily from their frames, and don’t offer much protection. For doors with imbedded windows, installing a protective barrier of quarter-inch Plexiglas over any existing glass can offer added protection, and can prevent burglars from breaking the window and either opening the door’s lock from the inside or getting into the house through the opening itself.

Deadbolt locks should be installed in every outdoor entry door.   Insurance companies and locksmiths usually recommend Grade 1 or Grade 2 American National Standards Institute deadbolt locks on exterior entryways. There are two main types of deadbolts – single cylinder and double cylinder locks. A single cylinder deadbolt has a keyed opening on one side, and a knob or latch that can be turned by hand on the other side. A double cylinder deadbolt lock, which may be slightly more expensive, is keyed on BOTH sides.  Each offers plusses and minuses.  A double cylinder lock might be a better choice on doors with an imbedded window, or one near a window, as it prevents a burglar from breaking the glass, reaching in, and opening a latch…… he would need a key to open it from the inside, as well.  But, keep in mind, this means that it would also be more difficult for residents to open, and they can impede a speedy exit from a home in case of fire. Leaving the key IN the inside lock would completely defeat the purpose.

It seems almost silly to say, but, honestly, the best protection you can offer your home is a little common sense.   Insure all of your more expensive household belongings, and keep a list of them.  It is also a very good idea to keep photographs of things (including jewelry and more personal items), as well as all insurance information, in a folder that you can refer to.  Lock all your doors and windows whenever you leave your home.  Be aware of your surroundings or strangers lurking about.  Make friends with your neighbors, tell them when you won’t be home for any length of time, and have them take in your mail.  Look out for each other and for each others’ homes.  In the end, a tight-knit community is the very best protection against burglary.  Being neighborly, and being smart, can offer you the greatest protection of all.

 

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MOLD – The Dreaded Four Letter Word

Remember, back in the day, when the scariest thing about mold that we had to worry about was accidentally biting into a piece of bread that had “gone green?” It was something you grew in your refrigerator for the science fair. Heck, we even learned that scientists made life-saving penicillin from mold! How bad could it be, right? Well, in more recent years, we have LEARNED how bad it can be. The EPA has estimated that over 100 million Americans live in toxic indoor air environments, and that more than 100,000 types of mold exist. Varieties of mold can cause illness, depression, irritate asthma, and, in extreme cases, be related to death. (And they let us grow this stuff for the middle school science fair?!) No matter who you are, or where you live, everyone needs to reduce the amount of mold and mildew in the air they are breathing in. If you smell a musty odor in your home or workplace, there is a good chance that it’s probably mold or mildew. Of course, once you actually see mold in your home or office, then you know you have a problem. The bad news is, most of the toxic mold floating around in our air is actually invisible to the naked eye, but it still may be seriously affecting your health. Basements are often a culprit. They act as a catch basin for rain and melting snow, and are often damp, in general. Wet or damp basements can cause mold to grow and, subsequently, affect your family’s health, without your even knowing about it. Bathrooms, which, by their very definition and use are creators of warm moisture, are another culprit. Ironically, efforts by well-meaning homeowners can often exacerbate mold growth instead of fixing it. Most of us learned over the years that bleach is the enemy of mold. Bleach does remove TOPICAL mold, but it does not address the underlying moisture problem. Not only that, but since most of us would be using a mixture of bleach and WATER . . . . well, therein lies the problem. Likewise, using UV lights or high-heat drying only provides temporary benefits. Oh, and, by the way . . . . “mold-resistant” does NOT mean “mold-proof.” So do not be lulled into a false sense of security about the products used in your basement!

If you suspect that your home might be damp, mildewed, or moldy, here are a few things you can do:

• First of all, investigate your home for moisture leakage. If you find any moisture leaks, clean them up with a dry towel immediately and find the source of the leak. If it is a plumbing issue, get it taken care of.  Moisture breeds mold, so controlling moisture leaks in your home or place of work will reduce the mold’s ability to thrive. Be sure to check window and skylights for leaks.

• Mold LOVES warm and wet places! Invest in a high-quality dehumidifier and test your home for mold over-growth. If you can, invest in a good quality air purification system that employs both a HEPA filter and UV & negative ion technologies.

• VENTILATE!!! Temperatures above 75° F, as well as poorly lit rooms and unmoving air, can actually create more mold. Keep fresh air moving in your home, as well as bright sunlight coming in through your windows. This will help reduce toxic mold. Open a window while you take a shower, if possible.

• Change air filters regularly in heating and air-conditioning vents. This is something we often forget to do, but it can be so important! Make sure your clothes dryer has an anti-humidity vent, as well.

• Keep your home at a moderate temperature, at around 68 – 72 degrees during the day, and keep the humidity level low.

• Check closets for mold growth. This is especially important if you have ever placed wet or damp clothing in your closets. If you find mold in your closet, wash ALL of your clothes immediately to help clean any possible mold spores, and do not return those clothes to the closet until after it is cleaned.

• If you will be cleaning up or removing active or dead mold, be absolutely sure to protect yourself! Wear a mask, eye protection, and protective gloves that filter mold. When cleaning, slightly wet the mold to lessen the amount of airborne spores in the breathing atmosphere while you are cleaning. This can be done with a wet cloth. Scrub hard surfaces infested in mold with a non-ammonia soap. Non-toxic, organic soap is best for the environment. Porous surface cannot be cleaned of mold. Things like moldy carpeting, drywall, wallpaper, fabric, or other porous surfaces, must be completely removed and replaced. If you have mold on the structural support of your home or office building, it may not be cleaned out by scrubbing alone. It may have to be sanded. Don’t forget to wear the appropriate protective coverings.

• Remember, the best prevention for mold is to KEEP THINGS DRY and always use a good air purification system!

And, if you have a serious mold problem, don’t fool around with it! Call a professional! Mold can be tough. But you’re tougher! Just a few preventive measures, and small clean-ups, can keep you and your family safe, and protect the investment that is your home. And, hey, if the kids want to grow some mold for the science fair, let ‘em. Just keep it contained and controlled. The world doesn’t really need one more erupting tabletop volcano, anyway. And let’s make the world a better place by banishing Mold – The

 

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