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Why I Love Working With Merlino & Gonzalez
It’s one of the greatest decisions I’ve ever made. My job hardly feels like a job at all. Going on a journey with couples looking to buy, sell, or move homes never stops being rewarding. A real estate purchase is often the most expensive and important financial expenditure of somebody’s life. To be trusted to help shepherd people through this process is a great privilege and a serious responsibility — one which I can promise you I don’t take lightly. I treat all my clients like they are my mother, my sister, my aunt, or my best friend. I still talk to all my clients, and I care about them in a way that transcends a simple working relationship. One of the steps of any real estate journey is working with a lawyer, which is how I met the excellent folks at Merlino & Gonzalez. I was working with a client I met from a Zillow lead. This client was looking to move from Staten Island to Ocean County. Through them, I met Alexandra and Michele from Merlino & Gonzalez. I absolutely adored working with them and John. Upon completion of helping that client move, I found myself hoping I’d have the chance to work with them again. Every time since, I’ve enjoyed it just as much. The team at Merlino & Gonzalez know what they need to do, and they do it exceptionally well. You never need to worry about them or hold their hand to get the process moving. They’re also exceptional communicators, and, in this business, communication is everything. I could tell instantly that they were just as passionate about their work as I am about mine. When I’m done working with a client, they thank me, but the truth is that I’m the one who feels grateful. I’m honored to have helped somebody make a huge, positive change in their life. I think everyone at Merlino & Gonzalez feels the same way. That, above all, is what makes them special. –Denise Scala
One of the great joys of practicing real estate law is the chance to work alongside skilled Realtors who help people find the home of their dreams. Denise Scala of Porter Plus Realty in Jackson, New Jersey, is one such Realtor. We’ve worked with Denise on a number of occasions, and each time, it has been a wonderful experience. We recommend her unreservedly and are proud to give her some space to tell her story.
My path to becoming a Realtor began as something of a happy accident. A number of years ago, I began purchasing condos in an attempt to fix them up and flip them. My husband, Steven Katz, works in construction and didn’t want me to take half-measures when it came to my new direction. “You’re not going to be the kind of person who stages condos and calls it a day,” he said. “If you’re going to do this, you should learn about Sheetrock, tile, and everything else that goes into a property. You should do it right.”
I am very glad I took his advice. I fell in love with the transformation process and enjoyed learning about all the details the average apartment hunter or homebuyer overlooks. I started to be able to pick out quality features that could stay and those that needed upgrades quickly and accurately. What I realized over time, though, was that as amazing as it was to do the work to enhance a property, the feeling of handing over the keys to an excited buyer was even better. With a sense that I stumbled on a new and unexpected career, I began the process of getting my license as a full-fledged Realtor.
STAYING CONNECTED How to Keep Your Family Close in a Busy World
together? Whether it’s eating dinner at the same table each evening, watching a movie together every Thursday night, or going on a monthly getaway, make sure these traditions aren’t canceled. If your family doesn’t have many rituals, a great way to connect is to start some. MAKE EVERY MOMENT COUNT As cliche as it sounds, when you don’t have much time together, it’s crucial to be present for every minute of it. If you have a rare half hour at home with one of your kids, make a point to spend it in the same room and try to start a conversation. If you squeeze in a romantic dinner with your spouse, turn off your phones before the food comes. Listening to each other without distractions will strengthen your relationship. HUG IT OUT Physical contact is vital for closeness. When you get the chance, hug your kids, hold hands with your spouse, and do physical activities as a family, like hiking, biking, or even playing group sports. It’s been scientifically proven that physical closeness leads to emotional closeness, so if you’re low on time, take advantage of that shortcut!
If you feel like you’ve hardly seen your kids since the school year started, you’re not alone. Americans are way too busy — from childhood onward, we’re always running hither and thither, packing in as many after- school activities, work-related meetings, and social engagements as possible. It’s a problem so pervasive that it has a name: time scarcity. Families feel time scarcity keenly after school starts in September, when children’s schedules explode with engagements. But all hope for close ties isn’t lost; there are ways to stay connected with your spouse and kids, even in an increasingly busy world. Here are some ideas from counselors, teachers, and psychologists who claim to have mastered the art. REMEMBER YOUR RITUALS Rituals make up the backbone of individual families and society at large. Most people wouldn’t dream of abandoning their holiday traditions, so why forgo the smaller rituals that bring families
ROOTS OF OKTOBERFEST Oktoberfest Outside Munich
With Oktoberfest right around the corner, you may start hearing some of these fun sayings: “I don’t give a Schnitzel,” “Keep calm, and Prost on,” or “You can’t buy happiness, but you can buy beer.” But what exactly is Oktoberfest, and why do so many people celebrate it? Here are some fun facts about it. ROYAL BEGINNINGS Oktoberfest is deeply rooted in Munich culture. It all started with the marriage of Crown Prince Ludwig and Princess Therese von Sachsen- Hildburghausen on Oct. 12, 1810, and the citizens of Munich were invited to attend the celebration just outside the gates of the city. The celebration’s main attraction was horse racing, which was also a staple event for the next year but has since been removed from the current celebrations. In 1811, a large agricultural fair was mixed into the event, and in 1817, beer pubs and performers were added. Perhaps one of the most famous events during Oktoberfest is the costume parade, where men and women alike dress in old-fashioned garb and march through the streets in honor of Ludwig and Therese’s marriage. The rest you could say is history, or geschichte ! OKTOBERFEST IN … CANADA? While Oktoberfest in Munich traditionally starts on Sept. 22, the Canadians celebrate during the week of Oct. 6–14. The twin cities
Kitchener-Waterloo host the largest Oktoberfest outside of Munich, boasting more than 700,000 people in attendance each year. The event has a musical concert dubbed “Rocktober” and a dog parade known as “Dogtober.” Even though the Ontario area is becoming more and more popular, you can still enjoy Oktoberfest on a budget. You can find hotels in the area and surrounding cities for well under $100 per night. Not everyone can make their way to Munich or even Canada to celebrate the fantastical event, but most areas will have something going on. If you love German culture, do a little bit of digging, and you’re sure to find an Oktoberfest event near you!
A NEW KIND OF ROOMMATE THE RISE OF CO-LIVING IN NYC
Many of the biggest tech companies have made their bones and billions altering traditional industries forever. Netflix destroyed Blockbuster, Uber and Lyft are crushing cabs, and so on. In an age where everybody wants to be a “disrupter,” it’s no surprise that tech- centric businesses are scrambling to find new rental arrangements. In New York City, companies like Common, Ollie, WeLive, and Quarters are rapidly developing so-called co-living spaces. As they grow in popularity, they are beginning to alter the rental markets. Co-living spaces are essentially a dressed-up version of dorm living. They usually come in the form of private bedrooms with shared spaces of various types, including bathrooms, living rooms, and larger spaces to be shared by floors or entire buildings. They also include millennial-approved creature comforts, like coffee bars, cleaning services, and high-speed internet. All of these bonuses are included in the price of rent, so residents don’t have to untangle who pays for what as you would have to in a traditional roommate situation.
It’s not hard to see why so many companies are flooding the co-living space. Young people continue to move toward urban centers in huge numbers, and the cost of living is outpacing wage gains. People are also less likely to be married in their 20s and have kids by the time their 30, creating an interim period where co-living spaces can be desirable from a social perspective as well as a mere living arrangement. Generally, co-living costs about 10–30% less than market rates in a given area. “It’s not cheaper than finding a roommate on Craigslist,” says Brad Hargreaves, CEO of Common. “But people are coming to Common because they’re looking for something more reliable and high-quality than finding a room on Craigslist.” Whether these co-living spaces are a techno-utopic dreamland, as some of the brand’s marketing would have you believe, or just a flash in the pan remains to be seen. But for now, they are the hottest trend in NYC real estate.
CLASSIC APPLE CRISP MICHELE’S RECIPE CORNER
take a break
Filling: • 5 lbs Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and chopped • 1/4 cup pecans, finely chopped • 3 tbsp all-purpose flour • 2 tbsp maple syrup • 1 tbsp lemon juice Topping: • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour • 1/3 cup brown sugar • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
• 1/4 tsp salt • 6 tbsp chilled butter, cut into pieces • 1/4 cup pecans, coarsely chopped
1. Heat oven to 350 F. 2. In a mixing bowl, mix all filling ingredients together. Transfer to individual serving ramekins. 3. In a different mixing bowl, combine flour, sugar, cinnamon, and salt for the topping. Mix in butter until it forms lumps roughly the size of a pea, then stir in pecans. Sprinkle topping over filling. 4. Bake for 35–40 minutes, let stand for 10 minutes, and serve.
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INSIDE THIS ISSUE
The Joys of Being a Realtor How to Keep Your Family Close in a Busy World Origins of Oktoberfest and Popular Events The Newest Trend in NYC Real Estate Classic Apple Crisp Honoring the Canines of 9/11
conditions: Many dogs burned their paws as they dug through hot rubble, and both handlers and canines inhaled toxic dust. The task was both physically and mentally exhausting for the dogs during their shifts. Some dogs that found deceased victims refused to eat or interact with other animals. Search and rescue dogs became increasingly stressed and depressed the longer they searched without any results, mirroring their handlers. It wasn’t uncommon for handlers to stage mock “findings” of survivors to keep the dogs’ spirits up. Fortunately, the sacrifices these dogs and their handlers made did not go unnoticed. Many dog owners were inspired to earn their search and rescue certifications after the events of 9/11, promising to aid in future disasters and hopefully lessen the impact of such catastrophes. After 9/11, various researchers conducted many studies examining the effect this kind of work has on animals, both physically and mentally. Many of these studies wouldn’t be possible without the AKC Canine Health Foundation, so if you’re looking to give back this September, visit them at their website to see how you can help: AKCCHF.org . THE 4-LEGGED HEROES OF GROUND ZERO Honoring the Canines of 9/11
In the immediate aftermath of 9/11, thousands of New Yorkers took to the streets to clear rubble, offer supplies, and search for survivors. It was a powerful act of resilience in a deeply trying time, and while most of the individuals helping with the disaster stood on two feet, more than 300 canines also answered the call to service. Dogs of all breeds and backgrounds, including search and rescue dogs, police dogs, service dogs, and therapy dogs, were brought in to help find and care for survivors in the wake of the destruction. They worked tirelessly alongside rescue crews as they searched through the debris. Search and rescue dogs and their handlers worked 12–16-hour days, searching for survivors and victims. They worked through dangerous
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