Spring Fling

Well, it looks like Spring has finally arrived in Cape May County. Thank goodness! It is time to shed those winter blahs and get out and see what our area has to offer besides sun and surf.

My husband and I recently rescued a small mixed breed dog and named her Molly. She is adorable (yes, I am biased) and she has gotten me off my lazy winter butt with her unbridled joy of walking all the trails and beaches around our West Cape May home.

One of our favorite spots is Higbee Beach. Located at the end of New England Road it is a one and one half mile stretch of beach at the tip of Cape Island. Once there, Molly is freed from her lease to roam the beach, chase seagulls while I scour the sand for beach glass and Cape May diamonds. Or, sometimes we head along the fields down to the freshwater lake so Molly can take a little dip.

This is a fabulous area for birding. There are several large observation stands set up along the trails giving views of the marshes that are spectacular. We have met many of a birder taking advantage of the change of the seasons.

Higbee Beach has always been somewhat remote, and has been reportedly known as the “nude beach”. Well, I have to say that I haven’t seen anyone nude … yet. Hopefully when we do, they will be much younger than me and in much better shape.

For ALL Your Real Estate Needs

Dagmer Chew, Broker/Owner, GRI, ABR

Founded in 1998 with visions of a first class real estate office blending cutting edge technology and old fashioned personal service HomeStead Real Estate was born. In 2001 the first website was hatched. Through the years and having experienced several revisions, HomeStead has taken another step forward and separated our website into two entities: Real Estate Sales and Vacation Rentals.

After thoughtful research the name HomeSteadCapeMay.com was established for Real Estate Sales. We can now concentrate on developing pages more appropriate to the Real Estate industry. We’ve added a scrolling picture show of all of our listings on the home page, and a Sold Portfolio to show potential buyers that inventory is indeed moving here in Cape May County.

CapeMayShoreRentals.com was selected to showcase the Vacation Rentals. Several years ago we created a separate department for Rentals so we could focus our staff and energy to better serve clients and guests. A dedicated website became a natural evolution of this division. We’ve always tried to keep the rental pages easy to wander through; now we’ve eliminated the confusion of landing on inappropriate pages. Our new look reflects the beach with fun pictures to trigger memories of the Cape May experience, and/or inspire new ones.

Don’t worry about the old domain name of HomeSteadRealEstate.net. It still works and will get you to the new sites. Both sites link back to each other so you’ll never really lose us; if you find one, you can easily navigate to the other. And we’ve given our logo a fresh clean look to blend better with the beach – which is the main reason our visitors flock to the area.

So now our clients, customers, and guests have the best of both worlds. We’re still at the same location on Broadway in West Cape May. We still service the Cape Mays and surrounding areas. We still advocate good old fashioned personal service. We just have separate websites for separate departments so we can concentrate on each relevant entity – and better serve our clients. If you’re considering Buying or Selling your home, visit us at www.HomeSteadCapeMay.com. If you’re looking for the perfect Vacation Rental, see us at www.CapeMayShoreRentals.com. Two new websites – for all your Real Estate needs!

Dagmer Chew, Broker/Owner, GRI, ABR

HomeStead Real Estate Co.


January is coming to an end and the spring is just around the corner. NOW is the time to start preparing your home for the spring market. That’s right preparing your home which entails the following list of tasks. Even if you complete the entire list below but you do not combine your efforts with the right price you will be sitting a very long time on the market. If you do not choose to listen to your Realtor by staging the home and pricing your home to sell then don’t be mad or disappointed 6 months to a year later when your home has not sold. Preparing your home to sell and choosing the right professional to guide you through the process is more important than ever before.
1. De-Clutter every room.
2. Clean a SUPER DUPER cleaning – better than your best spring cleaning.
3. Clean the kitchen every inch. Remove everything off the counters with the exception of the coffee maker only. That’s right everything off the counters. Remove any and all pictures or magnets on the outside of the refrigerator door. If your appliances are avocado green or mustard yellows it is time to replace them. You would be surprised the price difference you will receive if you replace the out dated Formica counters with granite. If the flooring is outdated it is time to replace that as well.
4. First impressions are lasting. Your front door MUST be shiny clean and freshly painted or replaced. A beautiful welcome mat and a fresh pot of pansies alongside the doorway or leading up the walkway. Replace the broken down mailbox with something fresh new and clean.
5. Curb appeal is so……..important. If I drive up with clients to the front of your home often times they will say no……just drive on we are not interested. The potential buyer needs to be excited from the moment they pull up out front. A brand new American Flag flying high and a nicely manicured lawn and manicured shrubs is imperative. NO junk in the yard, NONE!!
6. Beds Made – that’s right everyday make your bed and if the bedspreads are old and worn out a trip to the linen outlet is a must.
7. Clean the Carpets – shampoo the rugs and clean and polish the hardwood floors. If the rugs are stretched out call a professional to fix them. Replace the carpet if necessary.
8. Prepare to Move by boxing up the extras and begin to store things in the attic or in a storage unit off premises. It is important that you make the home warm and inviting but devoid of clutter and collectables. If you are starting to pack now it won’t be as overwhelming once the house is sold.
9. Bathrooms need to shine like a new penny. All new shower curtains and rugs are imperative! Add new modern fixtures and lighting to give your bathrooms a bright new appearance. New faucets and lights from Lowes or Home Depot are affordable and imperative to get your home sold quickly.
10. Lighting and lighting fixtures throughout your home need to be updated and or shining clean. If they are outdated, replace. Lighting should be bright and welcoming.
11. Curtains and Drapes need to be clean and less is best. Open up the house with lots of light shining in. A most often complaint from buyers is not enough light, too dark. Brighten up the house let the light shine in!!
12. Animal smells – this can be highly offensive to potential purchasers. Put the kitty litter away out of sight out of mind. Animal bowls, toys and cages out of sight. Do you want to sell your home? Then listen to your professional. Animals are often a huge turnoff. Clean up the yard; doggie diamonds must be removed daily. Have the animals out of the house for your showings. Some buyers will not even go past the front door if an animal is on the premises. Put your pets in the car and take them for a drive while the house is being shown.
13. Do not be home during a showing. I know you think that you will be able to assist in the showing of your home because you know it best but a good professional will insist that you not be home during showings. Buyers need to feel comfortable and need to be able to picture themselves in your house. They need to make an emotional connection without the owner following them from room to room. I just recently purchased a new home in Florida and the owner literally led the way from room to room standing in the doorway of each room pointing out its every feature. He talked to us from the moment we entered to the moment we left. We were never able to really get a good look. My Realtor even started to body block him and tried to keep him distracted in order for us to get a moment in peace but to no avail. Since I’m in the business I knew I needed to come back a second time and this time without the owner being home. I had my realtor make that request to the Sellers’ Realtor; it was not well received by the Sellers but we insisted anyway. After our second showing without the home owner I was able to really envision myself and my things in this home. I was then able to make the decision to purchase. This well intentioned owner felt that he was insuring the sale by being home and informing his buyers of every detail. What he did not realize was that his overzealous showmanship had quite the opposite effect. That home was on the market for over a year and my suspicion is that it would have sold sooner and for perhaps a higher value had it not been for the owner showing his home for sale.
I have tried to give you as many helpful hints as possible and I can hear many of you saying oh my goodness is she kidding this is simply too much to do. I need you to know that I told you about my purchase experience but I also had to sell a home in Florida in order to purchase that new home. I listed my house in one of the toughest selling markets in the country in May only to get it sold to the very first buyer who looked. By June 10th we were at the closing table. There were four identical units for sale in our development similarly priced and unfortunately today they are all still for sale.
It was not a coincidence my home sold to a well qualified cash buyer in a timely manner. They went on to look at many homes but my house kept drawing them back. Do you want to know why? Remember the list above. That is why, because I had replaced the outdated kitchen counters, all the hardware throughout the cabinets in the kitchen and bathrooms were updated, the old wallpaper was removed and the entire house interior was freshly painted throughout. My front door was replaced; the house was decorated with warm and inviting materials indicative of a beach house, the lighting fixtures were updated throughout, my garden beds were mulched and filled with fresh plantings. I had wonderful soft music playing throughout the house and all the lamps were on in the house and lights were lit throughout. Our home was immaculate shining from head to toe and we left the house prior to the showing allowing for them to arrive in comfort and we made it as easy as possible for the Realtor. We had a lockbox on our front door allowing ease of access. Most importantly we were nowhere around allowing the potential buyers to make a true emotional connection. We staged the house allowing for the experience that every buyer wants.
Do you want to sell your home in a timely manner? The first two weeks of a showing are the most important. Price it right which means competitively. Stage your home; hire a professional. Follow my suggestions and you too can be in your new home in no time.

2010 Reflections – by Dagmer Chew

Dagmer Chew, Broker/ Owner, GRI, ABR

Finishing up the year 2010 brings my reflection on the Real Estate Market in general.  We have been on a downward spiral after an over inflated few years of what some would remember as a real estate frenzy.  Ever since the close of 2005 real estate has become more and more difficult to buy and to sell.  Being overly qualified is a necessity for those looking to purchase.  No longer available is the stated income, no doc loans that were so prevalent.  People were buying beyond their means with their hopes filled with “speculation” of the market bubble never bursting. 

Now in the end of 2010 we have seen this year prove that inventory is high and interest rates are at their all time low but buyers are still moving with great caution, as well they should.  With jobs being in question the lack there of or the fear of the unknown has made many qualified buyers sit the fence.  Many second home buyers, which is our primary market share, have the old adage we don’t “need” a home so we will just wait it out till the bottom of the market hits.  Well folks it looks like we are at the bottom and the interest rates are starting to climb so there is “No better time to buy than now and no better place to be then here”.

HomeStead offers the experienced and knowledgeable agents that you need in order to navigate your way through the more challenging days ahead.  When buying or selling Real Estate Call a HomeStead professional who will guide you through the process with professionalism and ease.

Pre-Recession Pricing

In my reading today of the Kiplinger Report my thoughts went to so many of our clients that have been effected by the most current recession and the disappointment in the current recession pricing of the housing industry. Kipplinger reports, “the sad fact is, it will take a decade to regain the pre-recession high sales of homes” “Even a return to the pre-bubble levels will take years”. This is often a hard pill to swallow but none the less a reality check for all who want to sell their homes today. When all efforts are exahusted such as staging, fresh painting inside and out, landscaping etc it more often then not comes back to pricing. The market is often unable to sustain the clients desired price. My job is to tell the client the truth and that truth is that they will need to reduce the price immediately in order to attmept to bring about a sale. Unfortunatley the market conditions have changed drastically and none of us could have predicted this. The market will only bare certain prices and I do not have any control over that factor. With the cooperation of the client in reducing the price or properly pricing from the onset we can get a well qualified buyer to purchase the home but until the price matches the market condtions we will all be simply spinning our wheels. Frustration on our part is when inexperienced or over zealous fellow realtors go in with Over inflated pricing we can not compete with that listing strategy. Our policy at HomeStead is to tell the potential client the TRUTH because the first two weeks of any new listing is the most important time to have the home priced accurately. When you or someone you know over inflates the true market value you will lose out to a REAL qualified buyer to the homes around you that are priced properly. Our Job at HomeStead is to NOT tell the client what they want to hear but tell them the truth right up front. Don’t always be fooled by high pricing stategies these will work to get you to list but it will not get your home sold in a timely manner for the highest and best TRUE market value.

Renovation Progress

     It has been a while since I have had something to blog about… but finally some progress on our rental property.

     The whole permit process took longer than expected, and the addition of new storm drains on the street really added to the problem.  It was difficult for workmen to get to the property, deliveries were at a standstill, and to deliver the dumpster for the demolition work was an engineering feat in itself.

     All that aside, the demotlition work is all but finished, and the framing of the kitchen is complete.  Unfortunately, when we went to have new windows added to the porch, the whole structure was sitting on just a few cinderblocks.  We decided that we needed to correct that situation and not just try to make it cosmetically pretty. 

     That being said, it is important for Buyers to remember that even though a property looks great, they should still spend the extra money to have a home inspection prior to buying.  Also, if the home has been recently renovated, make sure you ask your agent to get the permits.  If the Seller has done everything above-board, they will have no problem producing the necessary paperwork.

     Hopefully, things are in full swing now and we’ll be in full swing by 4th of July.

Value of the Team

Well, here it is Friday morning and I’m not in the office! Since this is one of those rare days when I am still home ( mini-working) I have the time to realize what it took for me to take this day. I certainly could not have done it without the help of other agents in the office. Most people don’t realize that besides writing contracts and listing  properties, most agents are scheduled to be in the office during certain time frames. Our office having 7 full time agents ( we only have full time sales agents) schedules our time a month in advance. This is great except when the “phone call” comes. Now this” phone call” can be many different things. Client that is coming down last minute, closing that is re-scheduled,appointments cancelled or even something on a personal note such as doctors appointment. Or it can be something like the call I had last week, you know the call, Mom, could you? Well, let me say I am happy to get those calls since my children are adults and anytime I can be with them I do my best. But in today’s life my best is really “we.” Thus the “Value of the Team.”  It takes team work to be able to rearrange my schedule. Another agent is covering my office time and if a client needs to see a property there are 5 other agents there to help. I can do more than one thing at a time but can only be in one place at a time.  In our HomeStead office we work together.  The Broker could not  give me this benefit. It comes with working with a group of good people. Well, I’m off to Belmar today to be with my daughter, the Principal. Thanks. Team!

Seems Home Design is following the Market

Seems to me that as the Real Estate Market is reaching the end of the downturn and  the design of today’s homes are doing the same. No longer looking for the mini-mansions, today’s buyers are looking for economical, low maintenance properties. Although the homes may be smaller in square footage the amenities remain a top priority. The days of a one  bath house are gone.  3 bedrooms and 2 baths are the minimum must for many. This transcends generations with the Baby Boomers  looking for a one story home or  a master bedroom and bath on the first floor. Generation X is looking for at least that with minimum upkeep to enable them to continue with  their busy lifestyle. This generation does not want to be house poor. Although the size of the property may be smaller, people still want the amenities – but they too have changed.  I was reading an article showing the Consumers’ 10 most sought after features. A few  features included a master bath with tub and shower, energy-efficient appliances and laundry room.  9 foot ceilings are still on the list and not surprisingly since everyone seems to be so much taller than me. I know my two 6 foot grandsons appreciate the space.  Not on the list was granite countertops, 15 ft. ceilings, 3 car garage etc. I’m not surprized, eventually we had to get back to the real world. Family room,great room, bonus room call it what you want everyone still goes to the kitchen. Ever notice when you go to a party you are escorted to the media room from the kitchen?  And don’t forget the popcorn!  Even the mansions are making the kitchens bigger with direct contact to the family space-open space. I think this trend is going to help the stability of the real estate market.   Now we need to get the builders on board.


Our permits are in, now we wait to get our approvals.  In the meantime, we have found out that the City of Cape May has adopted several ordinances to establish a Housing and Fair Share Plan, a Developer Fee and a Spending Plan.  All these things are to gain full compliance with the State of New Jersey Council on Affordable Housing (COAH Fee). coah-fee

Basically, this is going to cost us 1.5% to put an addition on our house.  This fee could turn out to be pretty expensive to anyone considering buying a “tear-down”.  It is my understanding (from reading the ordinance) that the tax assessor makes the determination based on Equalized Assessed Value (EAV) based on plans and requests for permits.  The money must be paid prior to receiving a Certificate of Occupancy.

If you are like me, you are probably wondering what the hell is Equalized Assessed Value.  It is something I should know, because the fee is going to be determined on this amount.  The definition in the ordinance says it is the assessed value of a property divided by the current average ration of assessed to true value for the municipality in which the property is situated.  Yeah, I still don’t understand it, but I will  before I have to write the check.

What I do know is this, if you are planning to purchase in New Jersey, and are planning to add on to the existing structure or tear down the home that is there and build new, you will have to pay this fee.  The fee if you tear down and start again can be 2.5%.  So, if you bought a house on an existing lot and tear the house down and build a new home that cost you $200,000.00 to build, it will cost you an additional fee of at least $5,000.00 in Cape May.

The other thing I am trying to find out is if my plumber gave me a quote of $20,000.00, does that mean I have to pay 1.5% of that quote?  The quote was to fix the house and the addition, not just the addition.  Shouldn’t I be able to separate the two?  Does that mean every time you do work on your home in Cape May and take out a permit, they can enforce this rule?  Won’t that lead to people trying to avoid taking out permits?

I have a lot of questions and not all of the answers.  The people at the construction office have been very helpful, but I still don’t understand the basis of the tax.  But I will.

Giving Thanks

As everyone is digging out- or have finished digging out of the snowstorm on Sat. and are now getting ready for the next storm on the horizon. We must reach out and give thanks to all those emergency workers from the fire departments, city works departments, generous people who manned the shelters, state road crews, and the endless on going efforts of the electric company and all who came out in the disastrous conditions and made every effort to keep our towns and families safe. We at HomeStead THANK YOU!Cape May SnowSnow in Cape May, NJLook Closer to see the pole on the wires.

Snow covered street