Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Their Dream House, Plus a Pool

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Their Dream House, Plus a Pool

Article excerpt

Allison and Erik Fitzgerald, both 29 years old, had no intention of raising their family in a split-level "starter" home they purchased in Northvale three years ago.

It was just a means to make the real-estate journey complete for Allison, a senior clinical trial manager in pharmaceuticals, and Erik, a senior advertising account manager.

When Allison became pregnant with their second child, they immediately put their three-bedroom house up for sale in mid- September. But this wasn't a spontaneous move.

As Paula Clark, their sales agent from Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in Hillsdale, explained, the Fitzgeralds impressed her by laying the financial groundwork for this decision long before the pending arrival of a second child made it a necessity.

"They were very smart the way they did it," Clark said. "It's a good buy-up market because of the interest rates."

Clark said that for many buyers, it's just too big a jump financially to begin at the $600,000 price range.

Even if it is just a starter house, she said, "it's great to invest in buying a house and having equity in something," as opposed to renting, which would have given the Fitzgeralds no return for their monthly output.

The key was making sure of the starter home's resale value, which Clark did when she sold them the Northvale house initially. Then the Fitzgeralds renovated the home, from paint to a new kitchen, many times tackling the projects themselves, so in the end they were able to realize a profit they could sink into their new house.

In addition, they refinanced to take advantage of reduced interest rates, and made a point of saving up for the new house as well.

That well-maintained starter house sold in less than two weeks, again through Clark, for $385,000.

Although the Fitzgeralds are thrilled today with the four- bedroom, center-hall colonial they landed in Hillsdale for $600,000 (listing price $618,900), they almost walked away. …

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