Category Archives: the basics…

Tips For a Stellar 2016

Tips For a Stellar 2016


Want 2016 to be AWESOME???  Follow these tips, you’ll be well on your way!


1. Live everyday with an attitude of gratitude.

Every day, be thankful for another beautiful day. Whether it’s raining, snowing, or completely sunny, you know the old saying: Every day above ground, no matter how bad a day, is still a good day.

2. You create your perception of life.

If you see lack, loss, fear, that’s what you’ll get. If you stay positive, look for the good in life, you’ll appreciate so much more in life and enjoy it.

3. Happiness is a conscious choice.

Every day, you need to choose to be happy. Why? You create how you feel. When you feel miserable, or angry, you choose to feel that way, it’s a conscious choice. Choose happiness.

4. Surround yourself with positive people.

Did you ever notice how negative people suck the life out of you? How the more misery they spew at you, the more it drags you down? If you surround yourself with positive people, you’re getting positive vibes all day long.

5. Don’t waste time on idle gossip.

It’s just another form of negativity, and it creates nothing but headaches. Again, surround yourself with positive people all day long.

6. Do you hear yourself?

I mean REALLY listen to yourself? All of that negative talk that you do to yourself? Instead, talk positivity. Talk motivation. You hear every word that you say to yourself, whether directly or indirectly, and it does affect you subconsciously when you think it. Stop.

7. Everything you put out is energy.

Every word that comes out of your mouth needs to be positive. When you talk negative, negative comes back. We attract to us whatever we speak out, so make sure it’s positive!

8. Create new, good habits.

We all know that we can create good habits by repetition. Replace one bad action with a new good one. By the 4th or 5th time, it will usually become habit.

9. Don’t react, respond. When you react, you speak before you think. It’s automatic, and there’s usually a bad result. Speaking in anger, you can say things that you can’t take back by reacting. Responding is a conscious choice. You choose your actions and choose your words. Reacting is based on emotion, responding is based in logic.  Think, then respond.

10. My favorite, the law of reciprocity.

Zig Ziglar once said you can have everything in life you want if you will just help enough other people get what they want. It’s not just that when you help people that good comes back to you, you have the fulfillment that comes with giving and doing for others. You also really need to love what you do. Ask yourself, why did you start doing what you do? Again, by helping others you feel joy, YOU feel good, and that is a reward in and of itself. Do your job because you want to, not because you have to.

(~Abraham Lincoln)

In order to be successful at anything in life, you have to EMBRACE THE SUCK.

In order to be successful at anything in life, you have to EMBRACE THE SUCK.

What is the suck you ask? The suck is anything that you have to do, that you KNOW you have to do, that you really don’t want to have to do, EVER. The fact remains, you GOTTA do it. This goes for real estate, sales, really life in general. I mean don’t get me wrong, will have to do suck things in life. Cleaning, working. But what I’m talking about are the calls that you KNOW you have to make that you don’t WANT to make. Cold calling. Calling clients to tell them that you haven’t gotten a single bite on their property. BPOs that you know are under deadline. Door knocking. Anything that involves going outside of your comfort level is also known as the suck.

Unfortunately, in real estate, the suck is the cornerstone of your business. This is why you MUST embrace it. If you don’t, you will have no business, end of subject. You need to get past it, get over it, or learn to love it, in other words, EMBRACE THE SUCK. Hate cold calling? Too bad. Hate dealing with irate clients? You better learn how to deal with it, and fast. Hate going out and showing houses full of bed bugs termites and cockroaches? Guess what? If that’s all your client wants to look at, you better embrace the suck, or they’ll find another agent that will.

embrace the suck
embrace the suck








(photoFound on

When I got started I used to work in an office of veteran agents that refused to work after 1 p.m. on Friday until 9 a.m. on Monday. They couldn’t be bothered with answering phone calls from “newbie home buyers” on the weekends. Let me tell you something, that was the beginning foundation of my business when I started. I told those agents please shut your phone off. I’ll take your money all day long. To which they said, “I don’t care, SOMEBODY will sell it, but it won’t be ME on a weekend.”

They also hated doing open houses for their clients in the fall and winter, so they’d have other agents do them for them. Again, that was the beginning foundation of my business. God knows I froze my tail off in vacant houses my first winter with no heat on.  In two of them, it was colder in the house than it was outside! But, I had to…EMBRACE THE SUCK.  Believe it or not, each of those two iceboxes brought me my first sales!

So, YES, there are things we HAVE to do that we HATE having to do.  But, NOT doing them will cost us business.  But, when we DO them, that’s what sets us apart from everybody else.  And THAT, my friend, is where the magic happens.  EMBRACE THE SUCK!


Black Mold: An Occupational Hazard

There have always been jokes about the state you live in concerning the weather.  In New Mexico, “It’s a DRY heat…”  Well, when it comes to Jersey, not so much.  South Jersey, as in the Jersey Shore, has a TON of humidity.  Last few summers have been brutal.  You get used to it.  BUT.  In vacant, locked up homes, it can be a HUGE problem.  Why?  In a word: MOLD.

More specifically, BLACK mold.

Ever since Hurricane Sandy, mold, for me, has become an occupational hazard.  Homes were inundated with salt water.  People in Ocean City and Atlantic City weren’t even allowed to go back to check on their homes for DAYS.  Salt water(or any water for that matter) locked up in a closed up house spells trouble.  Sheetrock is organic, since it has paper on the outside.  Sheetrock gets wet, takes forever to dry.  Mold starts to grow.  Now it gets hot outside, windows are closed, no air circulation, and the mold literally starts to grow, and spread.

Listen, we’ve all seen a little mold, especially homes with bathrooms that have no fans for your hot shower steam.  If there’s nowhere for that humidity to go, and you have anything organic, like wood or sheetrock exposed, mold will grow.  Now you may remember that earlier this year, I got a bank owned property that was overrun with mold in the basement.  I was on meds for 60 days, and anybody that went into the upper part only still got sore throats.  I thought THAT was bad…

Fast forward to 3 days ago, I was given another bank owned property.  I had taken my husband with me.  He opened the front door and quickly slammed it shut.  I just looked at him,and he told me to go get my N-95 mask.  He wouldn’t open the door without it.  Much to my horror, that last home had been a walk in the park, like KINDERGARTEN compared to this :

black mold
black mold






Apparently, the home was foreclosed on, the pipes froze and burst in the walls while vacant.  Look at the wall on the left:

mold grows fast!
mold grows fast!

Guys, this is NOTHING to play with.  I’ve ordered a respirator, as this is my third encounter with this massive a dose of mold.  I would rather look RIDICULOUS with it on than to be as sick as I was again after the last one!  I can tell you within a minute and a half if there’s mold in a house; my throat literally starts to ache almost immediately.  You can usually smell it in the air.  The last home, remediation for the basement alone was $15k.  Every shred of carpet in the entire 3 floors of the home had to be removed.  Same for the sheetrock in the basement.

basement mold
basement mold

Then they did an air treatment and filtration.  Then you need to worry about the vents for the heat and central air systems.  The spores will grow and spread in the vents as well.






mold on walls
mold on walls






moldy sheetrock removed
moldy sheetrock removed

I used to think that mold thrived at about 80 degrees?  Really?  Guess what?  It’s still going strong at 32 degrees!  You need to understand that you have to remove the cause of the moisture to effectively treat the issue.  You have to remove the moisture.  Use a dehumidifier if necessary.  Remove wet sheetrock and insulation. Keep rooms vented.  Bathrooms especially.  Use Kilz paint or paint treatment when necessary.  Change air filters.  Treat all ventilation systems.  But, most importantly, if you can see that you’re in over your head, HIRE A MOLD REMEDIATION SPECIALIST!

So, You’ve Decided To Sell Your Home…

So, You’ve Decided To Sell Your Home…

Ok, so you’ve decided to sell.  What next?

You’re going to need to become RUTHLESS.  Ruthless with CLEANING.  Ruthless with PURGING.  Ruthless with REPAIRS.  But most importantly…

You’re going to need to get a thicker skin.  Your Realtor may look at, and through your home, and probably going to tell you a ton of things you’re not going to like.  Like, that you need to remove things, and DE-PERSONALIZE.

Listen, it’s not that we don’t like your STUFF.  We may actually LIKE your STUFF, but a buyer can’t see THEIR STUFF in your house if all of YOUR STUFF is still there!  Your potential buyer need to be able to envision their personal belongings  in the house to really realizr that your home may be the one they want to buy…

So you’re gonna have to de-personalize.  De-clutter.  Clean clean CLEAN!  Get your stuff into boxes, out of the house, or at LEAST out of sight.  Boxes, closets, basement, garage, wherever.  Garage sale!  Free to a good home!  Just get rid of it.

nj real estate mama

Next is repairs.  Guys, anything wrong with your home becomes BARGAINING LEVERAGE.  Read: LESS MONEY FOR YOUR HOME.  Don’t let stupid, easy, cheap to fix things like leaky faucets, broken locks on windows, missing door pulls, etc., bring down the price of your home.  Carpet stains?  Carpet smells?  Rent a steam cleaner and DO IT.  Pet smells are unacceptable.  You need to neutralize odors.

Lastly, curb appeal.  Guys, if you can’t get people to NOTICE your home, you won’t get them IN your home.  You need curb appeal.  Keep the grass mowed.  Keep the hedges trimmed.  Make sure all of your windows are clean.  If you can, power wash the exterior of the house.  Last, fresh paint on the window trim, door trim and the door, if it applies.  It’s an instant face lift for the house!  Maybe a seasonal plant or two on the porch.  Azaleas for a splash of color.

So, when you decide to sell, become ruthless!

~Christine Gerbehy

About the Author: Christine Gerbehy is a Realtor for Berkshire Hathaway Fox & Roach Realtors in Northfield, NJ. and is e-Pro certified. Realtor, writer, blogger, wife, mother and zookeeper, I LOVE what I do. ALL of it. Let me help you to buy or sell your property, ’cause This Mama Sells Real Estate!

Need to see some MLS listings?  You can use mine! Just go to and click on “search homes.”



Home Loans for Beginners 101

Home Loans for Beginners 101

Today we’re going to cover the most common kinds of home loans that are used today. Depending upon your financial situation, your income, your credit score, the kind of house you’re buying, how much money you need to borrow, how much down payment money you have, the price of the home and the taxes on the home will determine which mortgage would work best for you and your situation.

First, we have FHA financing. These are run by the Federal Housing Administration. There are tons of advantages of getting an FHA loan. First off, there’s a low down payment; you can go in with only a three and a half percent down payment. Then, they’re a little bit more lenient with credit scores. With other financing, you must have a 640 credit score to be able to qualify. With FHA, some companies will finance you with a 620 credit score, some 600, and now there are some that will finance you with as low as a 580 credit score you may need to shop around, but they do exist. I’ve just found one that will do a 560! You can find these. You can get FHA financing not only for home purchase, but also for home renovation, which is another bonus. They usually run 30 year fixed rate, you can also get 15 year.

Then we have conventional mortgages. Those are run by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. You need to have good credit, 640 minimum, but you have more financing options available to you. There are terms for 10 to 30 years, and you can get them for home purchase and renovation and home refinancing. Not for the faint of heart, but if you’re feeling lucky, you can also get 5, 7, 10 year adjustable rate. The only disadvantage is that with interest rates so low, your payments can only go up. It’s a scary thought, lol!

Then we have USDA Rural Housing loans. There’s a few different ways that the USDA goes when it comes to mortgages.You can get in with zero money down, because they will roll your down payment into the total mortgageprice. All you need to have is closing costs. Think about it, that’s 3.5% of the purchase price (for your down payment) that you’ll now have left in your bank account to put towards closing costs! Awesome for people looking to buy with no cash out of pocket. They have a specific criteria that you need to meet, you need a good credit score, about 620 to 640. The only disadvantage is that you’re limited to certain areas thay qualify. There’s actually a population maximim number that considers a town to be rural to qualify. You can go to the USDA website and check it out here: These loans are good for single-family homes and condominiums. There are a number of loan financing programs that they have, go through their website and call the office most local to your area. You can check to see if the home you want to buy is in an eligible area, and you can also check to see if YOU meet the criteria, as a buyer, on the website.

Then, last but not least, we have VA loans. Those are run by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs. These are awesome for veterans. There are 0 money down payments, you can get super low payments and there is no PMI. You can use these to buy a home or refinance a home mortgage. Some mortgages are assumable. That means that you, the home purchaser, can assume the payments that are left on the owners mortgage, as long as the lender agrees to it. That could save you a TON of money on a house! Of course, these are limited to eligible veterans.

So there you have it. Those are the most popular and common mortgage options that you will more than likely face when you go to buy your home. Check with your mortgage lender for the best possible way to go for your circumstances. So many options, and low interest rates, there’s never been a better time to buy!

~Christine Gerbehy

About the Author: Christine Gerbehy is a Realtor for Berkshire Hathaway Fox & Roach Realtors in Northfield, NJ. and is e-Pro certified. Realtor, writer, blogger, wife, mother and zookeeper, I LOVE what I do. ALL of it. Let me help you to buy or sell your property, ’cause This Mama Sells Real Estate!

Need to see some MLS listings?  You can use mine! Just go to and click on “search homes.”

Logo of the Federal Housing Administration.
Logo of the Federal Housing Administration. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)