The 2008 real estate market officially kicks off on Saturday. 

I am letting you know before anyone that there is an area record-breaking deal, brokered by Susan McCarthy of John Conover Realtor, under contract right now.  Final details are just being worked out on the sale of my friends Dennis and Patrick’s house. 

The home is absolutely spectacular all around – a genuine one-of-a-kind designer’s showcase, including:  unparalleled 180 degree views of Deal Lake, ultra top tier renovation, at least 100 feet of lake frontage, guest house, Oprah-worthy kitchen, exclusive, quiet and secluded location and tons more.  We are talking way more than $1 million for a single family home here guys – and well worth every penny. 

Money is attracted to quality and top quality is selling at record-breaking prices in our area. 

For the first in a three part series of columns focusing on the local real estate market, I spoke with some of the best and the brightest realtors.  Here is the scoop:

The B Plot:  What is your overall perspective regarding the real estate climate in our area?

Carl Chesna, broker, Prudential Zach Shore:  I’ve done more business in the past six weeks than in the past six months.  Home prices have stabilized, interest rates have come down even more and consumer confidence and real estate is beginning to take a turn positive again.  I believe we’ve bottomed out in the valley of the dolls, and are beginning our broke climb back up the real estate mountain!

TBP:  What, in 2008, is the typical buyer looking for in a home here?

Janet Manni, broker and associate, James J. Pentz Realtors:  Clients want more bathrooms.  Older houses typically didn’t have master baths or even more than one bathroom. 

Carl:  I see more buyers, than four years ago, wanting homes that are renovated, so they can just move right in.  It’s impossible for a seller to overspend on a luxury kitchen or bathroom renovation.  I also see more and more people looking for energy efficient homes and renewable resources – things like on-demand hot water and bamboo flooring.  

TBP:  Gotcha – forget the Home Depot renovations.  What can sellers do, for $500, to make their homes more desirable to buyers?

Carl:  Hire a good cleaning lady and landscaper to make the entire property neat and tidy.  What is clean to you may not be what’s clean to a buyer.  And keep it neat until the house is sold.

Anthony Gonzalez, realtor, Weichert in Ocean Township:  Get rid of the terrible wallpaper – you love it however the future buyer of your home may not.

TBP:  What can sellers do for no cost?

Anthony:  Air out the house and clean out the basement and garage – very important.  A buyer’s opinion of a home is made in the first 35 seconds of entering it.

Janet:  Put away the kid’s toys and make sure the cat’s litter box is always clean.

TBP:  What advice do you have for sellers in this market?

Carl:  Don’t beat yourself up about not having sold when the market was at its highest.  The fact is that right now we’re going into the spring market – so if you need to sell this year – now is the time to list your home.  Being on the shore, we have a serious seasonal cycle of buyers (more in the spring and summer).   Don’t forget to look at the little picture!

TBP:  Ever walk into a home and see something crazy?

Janet:  Most surprising was a very naked, comfortably napping tenant.

Carl:  I’ve seen everything!  Absolutely nothing surprises me.  One time it was tons of nude photos of the homeowner all around the house.

Next week, where our real estate stars would put Hollywood stars like Simon Cowell, Andy Warhol, Hanna Montana and Pee Wee Herman, in town.