How to Meet Your Neighbors: Icebreakers Even Introverts Can Pull Off


Want to know the secret of how to meet your neighbors? It’s this: Stop waiting for people to swing by with an apple pie. These days you have to be proactive and get out there yourself!

So how do you do that?

Granted, whether you’ve just moved in or lived someplace for eons, many find this simple act of reaching out amazingly hard. If that sounds like you, it’s OK: It’s all about knowing a few icebreakers. Here are a few that even the shyest of shy can try.


1. Hold A Garage Sale

This project doubles as decluttering—and works whether you’ve lived in a place for years or just moved in and didn’t get a chance to fully purge before you packed up for your new digs.

Not only will a garage sale provide you with a clean slate, it’s also a low-key way to meet your neighbors. Even if you don’t make a sale, you might be meeting your new best friend for the first time.

2. Ask To Borrow Something

Tools are one of the more popular items you may not have dug out of the box yet but find you’ll need right away. Don’t be too shy to ring the neighbors door and ask to borrow that hammer or screwdriver.

And remember, this is an equal opportunity endeavor: Sooner or later you’re bound to have something a neighbor might need, from a rake to cup of sugar. Go ahead and let your neighbors know to stop by “if you need anything”.

3. Do A Good Deed

Sometimes the best way to break the ice is to look for a way to pull someone out of it.

Three years ago, during an East Coast polar vortex, one of our client’s was leaving their home at 4 a.m. to attempt to get to work when he happened to see water gushing out of his neighbor’s garage. No one was home, so he called the fire department.

A sprinkler system had burst on the third floor and was destroying their home. Our client ultimately broke into the home but only to turn off the water and managed to save the home in the process.

Once his neighbors returned from their vacation they were very appreciative and are close friends to this day.

Not that you have to wait for disaster to strike. There are opportunities year-round; from plant-sitting during Spring Break and Summer Vacation to offering to clear leaves from gutters in the Fall or shovel snow in the winter. Who could refuse? And now you’ve got a friend whom, odds are, you can depend on in a pinch, too.

4. Find A Common Cause

Last summer a feral cat had a litter of kittens in the yard of one of our client’s homes. Concerned about their welfare—not to mention the number of cats already roaming her neighborhood—our client went door to door to bring the issue to her neighbors’ attention. Ten houses down, she found a neighbor eager to help the free-range cats. Today, cats in their community are well cared for—and these two neighbors are fast friends.

When you work together toward something that matters to you, you can’t help but bond.

Don’t have a passionate cause of your own? Then get involved in an HOA or local community group.

Volunteering is one of the best ways to get to know people because you move quickly past small talk.

5. Sometimes, Going Online Is A Good Idea

So maybe you want to be part of your community but work crazy hours. Or you’re always shuttling your kids from one after school activity to another and your schedule looks like that of an air traffic controller.

Maybe your nearest neighbor is a mile (or more) away. If meeting your neighbors “IRL” is a challenge, then maybe you do need to pick up that tablet or smartphone and join a local online group.

JOIN: The Bradley Beach Residents Group

JOIN: The Ocean Township Residents Group

JOIN: The Jersey Shore and Eastern Monmouth County Lifestyle Group

Have a goal though. Try and build relationships online that will lead to offline interactions.

You hear that? Your iPhone addiction actually can lead to meaningful connections outside your front door.


How did you break the ice with your neighbors? Do you have any tips to add to our list? Sound off on The Patrick Parker Realty Facebook Page or our Twitter or Instagram feeds. And don’t forget to subscribe to our monthly HOME ADVICEtm email newsletter for articles like this delivered straight to your inbox. You may unsubscribe at any time.

Get More Natural Light:
4 Ways to Make the Most of Your Windows


Feel like your home on the Jersey Shore is a bit too dark?  With the beach at your fingertips you want your home to reflect your nautical-loving lifestyle, and that means taking ultimate advantage of natural light.

And it’s about more than just sheer taste.  When it comes to lighting sources, natural light tends to be best. A 2015 study from Northwestern University showed that employees who got plenty of natural light in their offices experienced more sleep at night and were more physically active. Daylight matters at home, too, as it can help reduce your energy costs and make a home feel more inviting.

If your home is a bit darker than you’d like, there are 4 ways to make the most of your windows to increase daylight and brighten up the scene:

1. Choose Window Treatments Carefully
The more light you can get into your home, the better. One way to maximize natural light is to lighten up the windows you do have. Although you do want to give yourself some privacy, you also want to avoid heavy drapes and blackout curtains, which keep the sun out. Stick with sheer or lightly woven curtains or shades, so that some light filters in, but people passing by aren’t able to see what you’re up to. You can also layer your window treatments, if you want to keep light out to get a better night’s sleep. Hang the sheer or lightweight curtains closest to the windows, then the heavier drapes behind, so that you can pull them shut at night and open them wide in the daytime.
2. Get Reflective
A well positioned mirror can make a dark and dim home that much brighter. Hang a mirror on the wall next to a window to make it look as though your home has two adjacent windows. The window will be reflected in the mirror, tricking the eye. If you hang the mirror on the wall across from the window, the light from the window will bounce off of it, magnifying the natural light.

3. Keep Your Windows Clean
Dirty windows keep the light from shining in as well as it could. Although window washing might not top many people’s lists of fun chores to do, it’s essential for improving the natural light in your home.

Vinegar, mixed with an equal amount of hot water, is one of the most effective ways to clean windows inside and out. Mix the vinegar and water together, then soak a sponge with the solution. Wipe the glass of the window with the vinegar solution to sweep away dirt and grime. Use a damp squeegee to sweep the excess vinegar solution away, using long vertical strokes.

4. Add More Windows
If your budget allows, a simple way to increase the natural light in your Jersey Shore home is to add more windows to it. Obviously, you can’t put windows on the party walls, unless you want to get really friendly with your neighbors. But it might be worth considering trading a solid front or back door for one with a clear or frosted glass window in it. Inside the house you can replace solid, room dividing doors with a glass paneled doors or get rid of the doors completely, if you don’t need them for privacy.

Along with getting the most out of your windows, keeping a house clean and choosing light reflecting paint colors can help it feel brighter and lighter.


What are your tips for a brighter and lighter home?

Sound of on our Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn pages and don’t forget to subscribe to the Patrick Parker Realty monthly Newsletter for articles like this delivered straight to your inbox.

So You Think You Can Be a Landlord? 7 Things to Consider…

for-RentFirst-time homebuyers are a declining group. Historically, 40 percent of homebuyers have been first-time buyers, calculated yearly from July to June. But that percentage continues to shrink, even if the true homeownership rate among millennials climbed ever so slightly last year.

If you’re already a homeowner, your wheels might be spinning right about now — if people aren’t buying starter homes, then the rental market has to be booming, right? It is in many areas, particularly where unemployment is low, the population is high, and homes aren’t overpriced.

You might think you’re ready to become a landlord, but learning how to be one by trial and error is not necessarily the best way.

Here are seven tips to consider before you take the plunge:

1. Ideally, you want to live near your rental property
That way, you can check on it periodically (after giving your tenants proper notice), take care of repairs yourself, and show the property when it’s time to re-rent it.

2. Know landlord-tenant law
Most states have specific landlord-tenant provisions that cover issues such as security deposits, what sort of access to your rental property you can expect to have, and how much notice you need to give your tenants when you want them to leave. There also are federal laws you need to know, such as habitability and anti-discrimination laws.

Ron Leshnower, real estate attorney and author of Fair Housing Helper for Apartment Professionals, says that “many landlords gloss over housing discrimination laws because they assume that as long as they’re not racist or sexist, they needn’t worry about fair housing violations.”

But fair housing liability traps can arise in many ways, so it’s important that you fully understand the law and ensure that you aren’t breaking it.

FREE DOWNLOAD: New Jersey Landlord-Tenant Law

3. Make sure you can enforce the rent being paid on time
This seems like a no-brainer, but if you get too friendly with your tenants, you might just let them slide a couple of weeks here and a partial payment there. Before you know it, your tenants are six months behind.

But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t treat tenants with respect. Creating rapport shows respect and makes the job of collecting rents and dealing with repair requests that much easier.

4. Screen potential tenants
It’s worth the time to do a background and credit check on all potential tenants. Use an online tenant-screening service for this. Credit score alone is not always a reason to accept or deny an applicant, but it is a useful screening tool. You should also conduct an interview and check their references.

Your Patrick Parker Realty Listing Agent takes care of all of this for you. We run all prospects through tenant-screening after completion of an application. Don’t underestimate the importance of using a Listing Agent when renting.

5. Customize the lease
If you don’t hire an attorney or a property manager, you can use a standard lease form from Nolo, for example, but you should tweak it to fit your situation. For example, if you allow pets, specify how many, what kind, and any rules that apply.

Again, this is where having a Listing Agent will come in handy. They have the lease custom to your state’s laws and applications and will walk both you and your new tenant through any customization should it be needed.

6. Inspect the property regularly
Always do a move-in and move-out inspection. This should go without saying. Take pictures to establish a base line and complete a Rental Property Condition Checklist and suggest your tenant do the same and submit it to you so you’re on the same page from the get-go.

FREE DOWNLOAD: Checklist of Rental Property Condition

Consider having language regarding inspections clearly written in your lease documents. Maybe you want to conduct an inspection at six months. If you find problems, consider issuing a compliance notice and re-inspecting in 30 days. Eventually you’ll find whether or not this will be necessary in the future.

7. Understand this is not a get-rich-quick scheme
Being a landlord is not just sitting around collecting a big wad of cash each month. You’ll need to spend some money to ready the property for tenants, buy landlord insurance, register as a landlord in your town, acquire a C.O. and pay property taxes. If you’re taking out a mortgage, be prepared to fork over at least a 20 percent down payment.

Think of being a landlord as part of your overall investment strategy and realistically aim for getting around a 5 percent return on your investment.


Are you a Landlord with tips to share? What lessons have you learned? What lessons have you learned the hard way?  Sound off in Comments, on the Patrick Parker Realty Facebook or Twitter pages and don’t forget to sign up for the monthly Patrick Parker Realty eNewsletter for more articles like this delivered straight to your inbox.

What are some safety tips for apartment hunting?

Everyone wants to live in a safe and secure environment, and apartment tenants are no exception. In fact, living in close proximity with others can sometimes increase those concerns.

It pays to keep these things in mind when you are looking, so make sure you consider the following safety tips for apartment hunting:

  • A Secure Mail System
    Many apartments have lock-and-key mailboxes so that the only people who have access are the mail carrier and the tenant. Check to make sure any potential rental has this feature or something equally secure.
  • Safety Devices
    Check for fire extinguishers in hallways and good locks on doors and windows. Ask about fire alarms, smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors.
  • Exterior Safety
    Is there a gate? Is the parking area lighted? Are there motion detector lights outside? Does the landlord keep bushes and trees trimmed so that there is good visibility near exits and entrances?
  • Entrance Security
    What is the system for letting people in? Buzzer? Intercom? Key only?
  • Multi-Floor Dwelling
    Do the stairways feel safe? If there are elevators, are they maintained regularly?

Take a good look at the inside and outside of the building and make sure you are comfortable with the level of security and safety before you make your choice. It is an important feature.

Your Turn

What has your experience been when apartment hunting? Sound off in Comments, on Facebook or Twitter and don’t forget to subscribe to the monthly Patrick Parker Realty eNewsletter for articles, tips and guides like this one delivered straight to your inbox. And if you have any questions about getting started with renting, a Patrick Parker Realty Agent is here to help! Contact Us today!

Patrick Parker Realty Press Contact:

Chuck Cutaia
Patrick Parker Realty


Business and Real Estate:

Patrick Parker Realty Signs Lease for Expansion and Relocation of Their Main Office in Bradley Beach

With a goal of maintaining growth, superior client service and job creation, Patrick Parker Realty has expanded and relocated to a new main office location at 523 Main Street, Bradley Beach.

Bradley Beach, NJ (PHANTOM POWER Marketing) March 30, 2015
Patrick Parker, Broker and Owner of Record at leading Bradley Beach Real Estate firm Patrick Parker Realty, announced the brokerage has moved their headquarters to support the rapid growth of the business and ongoing client service and relations for which they’ve become known throughout the area. The new office space is located at 523 Main Street. With remodeling and refurnishing of this historical location now complete, the move is effective immediately.

With the goal of maintaining growth, superior client service and job creation, along with a strong commitment to community involvement, Patrick Parker Realty remains in the heart of Bradley Beach – just a 2 minute walk from their previous office – now conveniently located next to the Bradley Beach train station at the corner of Brinley and Main.

Our growth has been so exciting and more space is essential to continue to support that growth,” said Parker.

With careful consideration and help from my team of seasoned Real Estate Agents, we have outfitted a new space that truly reflects the core values on which Patrick Parker Realty was founded and has grown. Values of Integrity, Responsibility, Collaboration, Innovation, Compassion and Community that have served our clients and the Monmouth County Jersey Shore area at large.

Plus, our new location reflects our commitment to make Patrick Parker Realty a great place to work and thrive professionally, and we’re thrilled to be able to punctuate that effort this year with our move and new space,” continues Parker.

Keeping the brand’s headquarters in Bradley Beach was a priority for Patrick Parker Realty. Their new corner office location includes open workspaces, greater energy efficiency, creative and collaborative spaces for their team, varied meeting areas for clients and partners, continued access to the area’s talented work pool and work-life amenities such that the Bradley Beach area affords.

The new Patrick Parker Realty corner office location at 523 Main Street is easily found via Google Maps or any GPS tool or application. For more precise directions you may call 732.455.5252 or visit


For more information:

Patrick Parker Realty Website:

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About Patrick Parker Realty

Patrick Parker Realty, an independent boutique brokerage located in the heart of Bradley Beach is your local market leader. We understand the demands of a changing real estate market and avail ourselves of the latest industry information and tools to ensure excellent results.

Our seasoned Real Estate Agents are committed to providing all of our clients, from first time sellers to veteran real estate investors, quality and friendly service. We walk you through every step of the sale process offering the guidance, feedback, and expertise needed to ensure your complete satisfaction.

Patrick Parker Realty is more than just a brokerage; we are your strategic marketing partner boasting a dedicated marketing department to effectively promote your house via modern channels that yield the quickest, most effective results. We do this by monitoring the latest technologies, using effective communication methods and leveraging our knowledge of all things real estate so our efforts are informed by activities that yield results.

From the Patrick Parker Realty Tax Season Blog Series:
Tax Implications: Converting A Second Home Into A Primary Residence

ppre-refundAlthough the rule that allows homeowners to take up to $500,000 of profit tax-free applies only to the sale of your principal residence, it has been possible to extend the break to a second home by converting it to your principal residence before you sell. Once you live in that home for two years, you have been able to exclude up to $500,000 of profit again. That way, savvy taxpayers can claim the exclusion on multiple homes.

Note: Congress has clamped down on this break for taxpayers who convert a second home into a principal residence after 2008. A portion of the gain on a subsequent sale of the home will be ineligible for the home-sale exclusion, even if the seller meets the two-year ownership-and-use tests.

The portion of the profit subject to tax is based on the ratio of the time after 2008 when the house was a second home or a rental unit, to the total amount of time you owned it. So if you have owned a vacation home for 18 years and make it your main residence in 2013 for two years before selling it, only 10 percent of the gain (two years of nonqualified second home use divided by 20 years of total ownership) is taxed. The rest would qualify for the exclusion of up to $500,000.

Keep in mind that this is general information designed to help you put these valuable deductions on your radar. Patrick Parker Realty Agents and Realtors are not certified accountants. Please be sure to check with your tax adviser to see if you qualify for a particular credit or deduction.


The Patrick Parker Realty Tax Season Blog Series will cover many topics as they relate to real estate and increasing your income tax refund. Such topics will include Home Ownership Tax Breaks, Hidden Tax Deductions, Deductions on Mortgage Interest, Reporting on the Sale of Your Home, Home Purchase Tax Credits and more. In addition, our Blog Series will explore Tax Incentives as they relate to major transitions and lifestyles; Marriage, Birth, Divorce, Death of Spouse, Health Insurance, Caretaking of Dependents, Business Owners, Commuters and more.

Check in to The Patrick Parker Realty Blog each Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday through Tax Day for new posts. You can also follow The Patrick Parker Realty Tax Season Blog Series on Facebook and Twitter using #taxseasonblog.

More Info About The Patrick Parker Realty Tax Season Blog Series >
Tax Terms Glossary >
More Tax Aspects of Home Ownership >

For more information about paying taxes on the sale or purchase of your home or any other questions you have about this article please speak with your tax professional or visit

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