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Real Estate: Million Dollar Homes Moving Quickly

Plus regular maintenance can help your home's value.

August is usually a month where the real estate market starts to slow down, but it has been very active in Millburn-Short Hills.

According to Garden State MLS, 25 homes were sold—15 of which were priced over $1 million. An additional 17 houses were put under contract during the month with asking prices between $500,000 and $1.5 million. Also, 19 more houses were added to the roster, with new listings ranging between $525,000 and $4.1 million.

Overall, the houses that sold were on the market an average of 56 days, but the million dollar plus homes were put under contract faster at an average of 44 days.

It's a good sign for the community. While home prices are still lower than they had been in the past, there seems to be a stronger consumer confidence in the marketplace.

The following is a summary of what sold in the last month:

Home Sales, Aug. 1-31, 2010:

  • 12 Norwood Terrace – Colonial – 2 Bed/1.5 Bath - $455,000
  • 448 Wyoming Ave. – Cottage – 3 Bed/2 Bath - $500,000
  • 1 Deerfield Rd.  – Ranch – 3 Bed/1.5 Bath - $590,000
  • 29 Myrtle Ave. – Victorian – 4 Bed/2 Full & 2 Half Bath - $693,500
  • 57 Chestnut St. – Colonial – 3 Bed/2.5 Bath - $703,000
  • 602 White Oak Ridge Rd. – Colonial – 4 Bed/4 Bath - $725,000
  • 10 Ferncliff Terrace – Colonial – 3 Bed/3.5 Bath - $795,000
  • 85 Whitney Rd. – Colonial – 5 Bed/2 Full & 2 Half Bath - $789,000
  • 24 Meadowbrook Rd. – Colonial – 3 Bed/2.5 Bath - $812,000
  • 138 Silver Spring Rd. – Split Level – 4 Bed/3 Bath - $867,500
  • 34 Keats Rd. – Split Level – 4 Bed/3.5 Bath - $1,117,000
  • 258 Long Hill Dr. – Split Level – 4 Bed/2.5 Bath - $1,129,000
  • 56 Hilltop Rd. – Colonial – 5 Bed/4 Bath - $1,251,000
  • 21 Pine Terrace West – Colonial – 5 Bed/2.5 Bath - $1,251,000
  • 29 Pine Terrace East – Colonial – 5 Bed/4.5 Bath - $1,245,000
  • 24 Thackeray Dr. – Split Level – 5 Bed/4 Bath - $1,396,000
  • 125 N. Forest Dr. – Colonial – 4 Bed/3.5 Bath - $1,400,000
  • 11 Hemlock Rd. – Expanded Ranch – 5 Bed/3.5 Bath - $1,455,000
  • 20 Knollwood Rd. – Colonial – 4 Bed/3 Full & 2 Half Bath - $1,475,000
  • 48 Delwick La. – Tudor – 6 Bed/4 Full & 2 Half Bath - $1,675,000
  • 36 Spenser Dr. – Colonial – 6 Bed/5.5 Bath - $1,925,000
  • 7 Fox Hill La. – Colonial – 6 Bed/6.5 Bath - $1,925,000
  • 115 Fairfield Dr. – Colonial – 5 Bed/6 Bath - $2,250,000
  • 177 Highland Ave. – Colonial – 6 Bed/5.5 Bath - $2,400,000
  • 474 Long Hill Dr. – Colonial – 7 Bed/6.5 Bath - $2,934,000

Maintenance enhances property value

If you think home maintenance is an unavoidable series of weekend-eating chores, remember the age-old advice of Benjamin Franklin: "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure." Proactive maintenance is essential to preserving the value of your home—without it, your home could lose 10 percent of its value. Regular, routine maintenance enhances curb appeal, ensures safety and prevents neglected upkeep from turning into costly major repairs.

A house that is worn out and has a shabby appearance (chipped or faded paint, sagging gutters, worn out carpets, etc.) is bound to turn off prospective buyers and depress the selling price. It's basic marketing—first impressions will either support or hinder your asking price.

Outright damage to your house is just one of the consequences of neglected maintenance. Without regular upkeep, the overall property value is affected. A well-maintained house with a long, healthy economic age depreciates at a much slower rate than a poorly maintained house, helping to preserve value.  A study by the University of Connecticut and Syracuse University suggests that maintenance actually increases the value of a house by about 1 percent each year. However, the cost of maintenance would usually offset any gains, but the net effect of regular maintenance is that it slows the rate of depreciation.

The annual expenditure required for maintenance varies. Some years, you may only have routine tasks such as cleaning gutters and changing furnace filters, and your total expenditures may be a few hundred dollars. Other years may include major replacements, such as a new roof at a cost of $10,000 or more. Over time, annual maintenance costs average a little more than $3,000 (according to data from the U.S. Census).

Take the Offensive 

Proactive maintenance is key to preventing small problems from becoming big issues. Take the initiative with regular inspections. Create and faithfully follow a maintenance schedule. If you're unsure of what needs to be done, a $200-$300 visit from a professional inspector can be invaluable in pointing out quick fixes and potential problems.

Keep a log all your maintenance and upgrades, along with receipts. This is a powerful tool when it comes to sell your home, as it gets rid of any doubts for the buyer, and it says you are a meticulous, caring homeowner.  A maintenance record also proves repairs and replacements for systems, such as wiring and plumbing, which might not be readily apparent.

It's the little things that homeowners neglect. Consider some cracked caulk around the windows, or maybe a furnace filter that hasn't been changed in awhile. It may not seem like much, but behind that caulk, water could get into your sheathing, causing mold and rot. Before you know it, you're looking at a $5,000 repair that could have been prevented by a $4 tube of caulk and a half hour of your time.

If you want to make improvements but keep your expenses low, pick a different room every year to work on. That helps keep maintenance fun and interesting.

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