Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Couple Weren't Deceived by Looks

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Couple Weren't Deceived by Looks

Article excerpt

A pair of first-time home buyers from Clifton learned that there's more to a house than just an attractive exterior as their agent prodded them to look at possible trouble spots like a faulty furnace or foundation that can cost a lot of money if a problem is discovered too late.

That kind of thorough approach to home selection paid off when Marisa and Don French, moving up from a Clifton apartment, became serious about a raised ranch they liked in Bloomingdale, a tiny suburb known for its lakes in northern Passaic County.

"Buying a house is not just what you see cosmetically. You really have to know the guts of the house," Don, a 36-year-old assistant manager, said of a lesson they learned from their structure-minded agent, Warren Frerichs of Realty Executives, Exceptional Realtors.

Hidden trouble

Marisa, a 35-year-old middle school secretary in Wayne, remembers that when their house hunt began in June, she was more focused on the appearance of a home but came to realize that an attractive facade could be hiding a world of issues.

The couple had already learned that lesson by last August when they saw the ranch they eventually bought on Sunrise Avenue. The house had everything their Clifton rental lacked. At the Bloomingdale house, their 4-year-old son, Devin, gravitates to the window as rain pounds the green lawn outside. The view includes Oakwood Lake where Devin and 1-year-old Jason will grow up close to nature. They have almost a half-acre, which is why the couple focused largely on the northern area of Passaic County that Marisa knew well as a Pompton Lakes native. Don grew up in Clifton, and he wanted a more suburban life for his family.

While their rental of three years was starting to look like a "day-care center," with no place to store all the toys, Marisa said, in Bloomingdale, she expects the family room with its stone fireplace will continue to look like a family room. They also plan to finish the basement as a playroom for the boys. Though the house lacks a third bedroom, the bedrooms are big enough that the boys can share, she said. …

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