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Achieving the Dream of Homeownership

Homeownership has long been considered the American Dream, and it’s one every American should feel confident and powerful pursuing. But owning a home is also a deeply personal dream. Our home provides us with safety and security, and it’s a place where we can grow and flourish.

Today, we remember the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Many of us will remember his passion and determination for the causes he championed, including his famous I Have a Dream speech in 1963. As we reflect on his message today, it may inspire your own dream of homeownership. And if so, know you’re not alone. With a trusted real estate advisor at your side, you can begin your journey toward homeownership by answering the questions below.

1. Where Do I Start?

The process of buying a home is not one to enter into lightly. You need to decide on key things like how long you plan on living in an area, how much space you need, what kind of commute works for you, and how much you can spend.

Then, when you decide you’re ready to buy, you’ll need to apply for a mortgage. Your lender will look at several factors to determine how much you’re able to borrow, including your credit history. Lenders want to understand how well you’ve managed paying your student loans, credit cards, car loans, and other past debts.

According to Freddie Mac:

To get a rough estimate of what you can afford, most lenders suggest that you should spend no more than 28% of your monthly gross (pre-tax) income on your mortgage payment, including principal, interest, taxes and insurance.

2. How Do I Save Enough for a Down Payment?

Speaking of how much you can afford, you’ll want to know what to save for a down payment. While the idea of saving for a down payment can be daunting, there are many different options and resources that can help.

According to Business Insider, automatic savings can bring you one step closer to achieving your target down payment:

If you receive your paycheck as a direct deposit, you may want to arrange for your company to send a percentage of each check directly into a savings account for the down payment. . . . The automatic-savings strategy makes it so you don’t have to constantly remember to save money.

Before you know it, you’ll have enough for a down payment if you’re disciplined and thoughtful about your process. And the best part is, you may need to save less for your down payment than you think. Your agent and lender can help you understand your options.

3. How Can I Reach My Financial Goals?

Another way to increase your savings is by sticking to a planned budget. If you’ve never budgeted before, there are tools available. For example, MoneyFit.org provides a budgeting worksheet you can use to create your own plan and five rules to follow when you’re saving. They recommend you:

  1. Identify Goals
  2. Record Expenses
  3. Record Earnings
  4. Compare and Calculate
  5. Fix Weak Spots

If you’re already budgeting, consider finding ways to tighten your spending a bit more to accelerate your journey to homeownership. After all, putting even a little extra into your savings each month can truly add up over time.

The Bottom Line

As you set out to realize your dream of homeownership this year, know that it’s achievable with careful planning. Most importantly, let’s connect today so you don’t have to walk alone on this journey.

Portions of content supplied by KCM (Keeping Current Matters).

The information contained, and the opinions expressed, in this article are not intended to be construed as investment advice. The Lisa Mathena Group does not guarantee or warrant the accuracy or completeness of the information or opinions contained herein. Nothing herein should be construed as investment advice. You should always conduct your own research and due diligence and obtain professional advice before making any investment decision. The Lisa Mathena Group will not be liable for any loss or damage caused by your reliance on the information or opinions contained herein.

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Multiple Offers = Holiday Cheer

Thinking about selling your house right now? Not sure you’ll have the time to do so as the holidays draw near? Think Again: even as the holiday season approaches, there are plenty of buyers out there, and they really want your house. Here’s why selling this winter is a win for you.

Today’s buyers are still dealing with a limited number of homes for sale. Thanks to continued low inventory, those buyers are competing with one another for their dream home. And when that happens, if your house is one of the few on the market, it will rise to the top of the pool – and it will be worth it.

According to the latest data from the National Association of Realtors (NAR), the average seller received 3.7 offers on their house in September. For a view into what’s happening at the state level, take a look at the map below:

Nationwide, the average seller today is getting nearly four offers. That number is significant because it means you’ll likely have multiple offers to pick from if you sell your house this season. To put things into perspective, no matter where your state falls, remember that you really only need one good offer to close the deal.

Any offer you receive will likely be from a highly motivated buyer who’s doing everything they can to beat the competition. The stakes for buyers are high. They’ve been looking for a house and they want to lock in their dream home before prices and mortgage rates rise further next year. Chances are, they’ll get creative with the terms of their offer, which could include waiving contingencies and offering over the asking price – both of which are great news for you.

If you’re on the fence about when to sell, remember your house is a hot commodity this season. As other sellers take a break for the holidays with plans to re-list their homes in the new year, you can put your house in front of motivated buyers by making your move today. That means your house will be the center of attention, and likely the center of a bidding war too.

The Bottom Line: Selling now gives you even more opportunity to win big as buyers compete for your house in today’s market. Questions? Call Lisa Mathena 302-236-6232 or email lisa@lisamathena.com

Portions of content supplied by KCM (Keeping Current Matters).

The information contained, and the opinions expressed, in this article are not intended to be construed as investment advice. The Lisa Mathena Group does not guarantee or warrant the accuracy or completeness of the information or opinions contained herein. Nothing herein should be construed as investment advice. You should always conduct your own research and due diligence and obtain professional advice before making any investment decision. The Lisa Mathena Group will not be liable for any loss or damage caused by your reliance on the information or opinions contained herein.

The information contained, and the opinions expressed, in this article are not intended to be construed as investment advice. The Lisa Mathena Group does not guarantee or warrant the accuracy or completeness of the information or opinions contained herein. Nothing herein should be construed as investment advice. You should always conduct your own research and due diligence and obtain professional advice before making any investment decision. The Lisa Mathena Group will not be liable for any loss or damage caused by your reliance on the information or opinions contained herein.

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Typical Summer Housing Market? NOT!

Image of vintage house in the grass, garden or park at sunset light

In real estate, it’s normal to see ebbs and flows in the market. Typically, the summer months are slower-paced than the traditionally busy spring. But this isn’t a typical summer. As the economy rebounds and life is returning to normal, the real estate market is expected to have an unusually strong summer season.

Here’s how this summer is stacking up against the norm and what it means for you.

Inventory is increasing.

According to the latest Existing Home Sales Report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR), inventory levels have been rising since February of this year. Currently, there’s roughly a 2.5 months’ supply of homes for sale. And while inventory is trending up as more houses are coming to the market, it’s still much lower than several of the previous summers.

If you’re looking to buy, some relief is on the way in the form of more homes coming to the market. Just remember, we still have less inventory than the norm, so be patient in your search.

If you’re thinking of selling, now is the time. Work with your agent to list your house before it has more competition on the market.

Days on the market is still shorter than normal.

Unlike the typical summer trend, time on the market is moving at the fastest speed we’ve seen since NAR started collecting this survey-based information in 2011. The most recent Realtors Confidence Index shows that the average home is on the market for just 17 days; locally here in Delaware, the median days on market in June 2021 was 7 DAYS.

Median DOM (Days on Market)

If you want to buy, this means you need to be prepared to move fast. Brace for a quick pace and rely on your agent to stay in the know on the available homes in your area.

If you’re thinking of selling, data shows your house will likely sell quickly. If you’re worried about where you’ll go once your house sells, consider a newly built home as a good way to move up.

Prices are still rising.

The last big factor making this an unusually strong market this summer is home price appreciation. According to the State House Price Index from the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), the US is currently experiencing double-digit house price appreciation with an average of 12.6% appreciation across the country. Locally, the state of Delaware has an average of 13.53% appreciation. In June, the median sale price in Sussex County increased 14.3% in June 2021 vs. June 2020. Year-to-date, the average sale price in Sussex County in 2021 is up 16.7% versus 2020.

If you’re looking to buy, competition and bidding wars are driving prices up. Getting pre-approved can show the seller you’re serious and help you know what you can afford. Once you do, work with your agent to make a strong offer that stands out.

If you’re thinking of selling, seize this opportunity to use your additional equity from this price appreciation to power your next move.

The Bottom Line

This isn’t a typical summer. Whether you’re buying or selling, let’s connect to talk about how you can capitalize on today’s market conditions to sell your house or find your dream home. Call/text Lisa Mathena at 302-236-6232 or email lisa@lisamathena.com to get started.

The information contained, and the opinions expressed, in this article are not intended to be construed as investment advice. The Lisa Mathena Group does not guarantee or warrant the accuracy or completeness of the information or opinions contained herein. Nothing herein should be construed as investment advice. You should always conduct your own research and due diligence and obtain professional advice before making any investment decision. The Lisa Mathena Group will not be liable for any loss or damage caused by your reliance on the information or opinions contained herein.

Portions of content supplied by KCM (Keeping Current Matters).

The information contained, and the opinions expressed, in this article are not intended to be construed as investment advice. The Lisa Mathena Group does not guarantee or warrant the accuracy or completeness of the information or opinions contained herein. Nothing herein should be construed as investment advice. You should always conduct your own research and due diligence and obtain professional advice before making any investment decision. The Lisa Mathena Group will not be liable for any loss or damage caused by your reliance on the information or opinions contained herein.

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How To Stand Out In A Crowded Market: Top Summer Upgrades To Help You Sell

We’ve finally made it ladies and gentlemen! Summer is almost here and President Biden has given us the OK to have gatherings without masks or social distancing if you’re fully vaccinated! According to insights from top agents, 97% of agents say their markets favor sellers, so it’s a great time to finally put your house on the market. Or, if you need to sell quickly, there are some great backyard upgrades that’ll attract buyers! 

So what backyard upgrades should you begin with? It depends on your budget, but here are the key features buyers are looking for when shopping for a new abode:

Swimming pools

A swimming pool is the penultimate symbol of summertime entertainment. It’s the key feature that buyers want in their new home. More specifically, buyers are keen on in-ground pools over above ground pools. 

The beauty of installing an in-ground pool is that you can enjoy the pool while the house is on the market. Plus when you get an appraisal, the pool may increase your home’s value by $8,000 to $16,000 depending on which region you live in. 

Improving lighting in the backyard

Forget the single light fixture on the back patio – buyers are interested in a lighting scheme that has a wow factor. They’re drawn to homes with spotlights that highlight special features of the home. They’re interested in recessed lighting along walkways or under covered patios for both safety and ambiance. Lanterns or light posts are also great options to add to the front of walkways or even around the pool!

Building a better grilling station

A popular activity for the summertime is grilling. You may have the run of the mill gas or charcoal grill that can be taken out of storage, but buyers are impressed by built-in units. They like the sophisticated look that comes with a brick surround, a dedicated work space, and a shiny grill. 

You can get extra bonus points if you do a full outdoor kitchen, or at least have a wet bar or snack bar. These features are perfect for the homeowner who loves to entertain, but hates people going in and out of the house – especially if they don’t dry off after swimming!

Extending living spaces to the outdoors

Who doesn’t like curling up next to a fire with a good book, a glass of wine, and good company? An outdoor living space with comfortable outdoor furniture, nice accessories, and ambient lighting is a fantastic way to bring the comforts of the living room outside. You can create a cozy space if you have a covered (or screened in) porch, convert a shed into a little hide away, or even buy a gazebo for a more intimate setting. 

Clear yard for summertime games

Summertime is the perfect time to go outside, run around and enjoy the fresh air. If your yard has the space, you can create a play area for the kids. You can do this by sectioning off space for a swing set and cover the ground with mulch or something similar. You could even build a sandpit if that’s something your kids like. 

For the adults, you could create a space to play cornhole or horseshoes, or set up a net so you can get a game of volleyball or badminton. The possibilities are endless!

Buying a house right now may be difficult because housing inventory is low across much of the country. However, if you’re working with a trustworthy realtor, they should be able to get your house sold and find a new home that checks off all of your “wants” lists. It all begins with making a few upgrades and putting your house on the market!

The Lisa Mathena Group provides property owners and buyers, landlords and tenants with comprehensive real estate services you can trust. We do this by first listening to our clients, and then delivering information and services to meet our clients’ needs with passion and professionalism. Call us at 855-334-6637 XT 700 or email lisa@lisamathena.com.

The information contained, and the opinions expressed, in this article are not intended to be construed as investment advice. The Lisa Mathena Group does not guarantee or warrant the accuracy or completeness of the information or opinions contained herein. Nothing herein should be construed as investment advice. You should always conduct your own research and due diligence and obtain professional advice before making any investment decision. The Lisa Mathena Group will not be liable for any loss or damage caused by your reliance on the information or opinions contained herein.

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Lisa’s Homemade Ravioli-Mangia!

We’re trying something new with Lisa’s latest recipe-we’re doing a Video Blog, or “Vlog”!

Ever want to try and make your own ravioli? It CAN be done-and Lisa shows you how, step-by-step. You can watch the video (below)…

…and we’ve also given you written instructions (continue reading). You will need a good stand mixer such as a KitchenAid, with a wide beater and a dough-hook, as well as pasta attachments for the mixer. You will also need a rolling pin and ravioli forms including the dough mold so that you can shape your ravioli, as shown below:

Ingredients for the Pasta dough:

3-1/2 cups of flour, 4 eggs, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, 2 tablespoons of water, 1 tablespoon of olive oil.

Ingredients for the Ravioli Filling:

1 qt. ricotta cheese, 1/4 cup grated parmesan and/or romano cheese, approximately 2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley, and a “pinch” of mozzarrella.

Directions for the Pasta dough-Part 1: Sift the flour & salt. Place into a mixing bowl, and mix using the large beater. Add in wet ingredients (eggs & water and a smidge of oil). Then stop the mixer, switch from the beater to the dough-hook which helps knead the dough. Once the dough has consistency, remove from the bowl, knead the dough into a mound. Place into a sealed container and allow to rise for 30 minutes.

Directions for the filling: While the dough is “resting”, prepare the ravioli filling. Combine all the cheeses, parsley and mix well. Grab a pastry bag, and set the filling aside. Take your ravioli forms and spread a generous amount of flour on them so that the dough doesn’t stick.

The Pasta dough, Part 2: Make sure you have installed the Pasta Roller attachment on your mixer. After 30 minutes, remove the risen dough from the sealed container and place it on a floured cutting board. Slice the dough, and then feed the slices repeatedly into the pasta roller until you have two separate sheets each long enough to cover the ravioli form.

Filling The Dough: Take one sheet and place onto the ravioli form. Sprinkle some flour on the sheet, then take your ravioli mold and gently dimple the pasta so that you have “pockets” for the filling. Fill your pastry bag with filling and begin filling each pocket. Once all are filled, cover the filling with the top sheet of pasta, using your rolling pin to press out the air from around the filling. Use your rolling pin, press firmly around the filling to seal it, then remove the excess pasta from around the form.

Take the ravioli form over to a floured cookie sheet and empty the form onto the sheet. If you’ve made multiples, then you can put them into freezer bags and freeze until you’re ready to cook them. Otherwise, you can begin to cook them to eat same day-Mangia!

Portions of content supplied by KCM (Keeping Current Matters).

The information contained, and the opinions expressed, in this article are not intended to be construed as investment advice. The Lisa Mathena Group does not guarantee or warrant the accuracy or completeness of the information or opinions contained herein. Nothing herein should be construed as investment advice. You should always conduct your own research and due diligence and obtain professional advice before making any investment decision. The Lisa Mathena Group will not be liable for any loss or damage caused by your reliance on the information or opinions contained herein.

Pre-Approval Is a Must!

If you’re planning to buy a home this year, you might have heard that pre-approval is a necessary step to take before starting out on your journey. But why is that? And is it still important in today’s shifting market?

The truth is, getting a pre-approval letter from your lender is critical, and when it comes to your home search, it can be a game changer in so many ways.

To better understand why, it’s important to know what pre-approval is. Freddie Mac defines the process like this:

“A pre-approval is an indication from your lender that they are willing to lend you a certain amount of money to buy your future home. The lender you work with will provide you with a pre-approval letter, which is an official document that states the maximum amount they are willing to lend you, . . .”

Put simply, pre-approval from a lender helps you understand your true price range and how much money you can borrow for your loan. That can make it easier when you set out to search for homes. And since you’ll know what you’re approved for, it’ll also help once it’s time to submit an offer on the home of your dreams.

Another added benefit is that pre-approval lets the seller know you’re qualified to buy their house.

The Bottom Line:

Getting pre-approved for a mortgage helps you better understand what you can borrow and shows sellers you’re serious about purchasing their home. Email lisa@lisamathena.com so you have the tools you need to succeed as a homebuyer in today’s shifting market.

Portions of content supplied by KCM (Keeping Current Matters).

The information contained, and the opinions expressed, in this article are not intended to be construed as investment advice. The Lisa Mathena Group does not guarantee or warrant the accuracy or completeness of the information or opinions contained herein. Nothing herein should be construed as investment advice. You should always conduct your own research and due diligence and obtain professional advice before making any investment decision. The Lisa Mathena Group will not be liable for any loss or damage caused by your reliance on the information or opinions contained herein.

Real Estate Voted the Best Investment Eight Years in a Row

In an annual Gallup poll, Americans chose real estate as the best long-term investment. And it’s not the first time it’s topped the list, either. Real estate has been on a winning streak for the past eight years, consistently gaining traction as the best long-term investment (see graph below):

If you’re thinking about purchasing a home this year, this poll should reassure you. Even when inflation is rising like it is today, Americans agree an investment like real estate truly shines.

Why Is Real Estate a Great Investment During Times of High Inflation?

With inflation reaching its highest level in 40 years, it’s more important than ever to understand the financial benefits of homeownership. Rising inflation means prices are increasing across the board. That includes goods, services, housing costs, and more. But when you purchase your home, you lock in your monthly housing payments, effectively shielding yourself from increasing housing payments. James Royal, Senior Wealth Management Reporter at Bankrate, explains it like this:

A fixed-rate mortgage allows you to maintain the biggest portion of housing expenses at the same payment. Sure, property taxes will rise and other expenses may creep up, but your monthly housing payment remains the same.”

James Royal, Senior Wealth Management Reporter at Bankrate.com

If you’re a renter, you don’t have that same benefit, and you aren’t protected from increases in your housing costs, especially rising rents.

History Shows During Inflationary Periods, Home Prices Rise as Well

As a homeowner, your house is an asset that typically increases in value over time, even during inflation. That‘s because, as prices rise, the value of your home does, too. And that makes buying a home a great hedge during periods of high inflation. Natalie Campisi, Staff Advisor for Forbes, notes:

Tangible assets like real estate get more valuable over time, which makes buying a home a good way to spend your money during inflationary times.

Natalie Campisi, Staff Advisor for Forbes Magazine

The Bottom Line:

Housing truly is a strong investment, especially when inflation is high. When you lock in a mortgage payment, you’re shielded from housing cost increases, and you own an asset that typically gains value with time. If you want to better understand how buying a home could be a great investment for you, let’s connect today. Email Lisa Mathena or call 855-334-6637 Ext. 700

4 Incentives For Homeowners To Sell NOW!

The housing market keeps sailing along. The only headwind that could take it off course is the lack of inventory for sale. The National Association of Realtors (NAR) reports that there were 410,000 fewer single-family homes for sale this March than in March of 2020. According to NAR’s chief economist Lawrence Yun, “the sales for March would have been measurably higher, had there been more inventory. Days-on-market are swift, multiple offers are prevalent, and buyer confidence is rising.”

The key to continued success in the residential housing market is for more listings to come on the market. However, many homeowners are concerned that selling their homes could be challenging for several reasons.

Recently, Homes.com released the findings of a survey that identified these concerns, as well as what it will take for homeowners to feel comfortable selling their houses. Here are the four major homeowner concerns and a quick explanation of what’s actually happening in the housing market today:

1. Homeowners don’t know if they’ll be able to buy their next home before selling.

In negotiations, leverage is the power that one side may have to influence the other side while moving closer to their negotiating position. A party’s leverage is based on the ability to award benefits or eliminate costs on the other side.

In today’s market, buyers have compelling reasons to purchase a home now:

  • To own a home of their own
  • To buy before prices continue to appreciate
  • To secure a mortgage at a historically low rate, while they last

These buyer needs give the seller tremendous leverage. Most already realize this leverage enables the homeowner to sell at a good price. However, this leverage may also be used to negotiate time to find their next home. The homeowner could sell their home to the buyer at today’s price, which will enable the purchaser to take advantage of current mortgage rates. In return, the buyer might lease the house back to the seller for a pre-determined length of time while the seller finds a new home or has one built.

This gives the buyer what they want while also giving the seller what they need. It’s a true win-win negotiation.

2. Homeowners don’t know if their current home will sell for the asking price or top market price.

This is the perfect time to maximize profits while selling a house. NAR just released a study showing that bidding wars are at an all-time high. The study reveals that when comparing the first quarter of last year to the first quarter of this year, the number of offers on homes for sale doubled from an average of 2.4 to 4.8 offers.

Whenever there’s a bidding war, the price of the item for sale escalates. Bloomberg recently reported:

For the first time ever, the average U.S. home is selling for above its list price. If a seller is looking for a top-dollar sale, there’s no better time to sell than right now.

3. Homeowners don’t know if they will get an offer without their home requiring work or updates.

Again, leverage is the greatest strength a seller has in this market. Due to the lack of homes for sale, many buyers are more willing to take on home improvement projects themselves in order to get the home they’re after.

A recent post on whether or not to renovate before selling notes:

It may be wise to let future homeowners remodel the bathroom or the kitchen to make design decisions that are best for their specific taste and lifestyle. As a seller, your dollars and time might be better spent working on small cosmetic updates, like refreshing some paint and power washing the exterior. Instead of over-investing in your home with upgrades that the buyers may change anyway, work with a real estate professional to determine the key projects that will maximize your listing, without overdoing it. If a seller is worried about doing work or updates on their home, they must realize that today’s historically low inventory likely renders these projects less critical to the sale of the house.

4. Homeowners don’t know if they can have a quick closing process.

When speed is important, there are two points sellers should look at:

  • The time it takes to find a buyer for the home
  • The time it takes to close the transaction

In the latest Existing Home Sales Report, NAR explains:

Properties typically remained on the market for 18 days in March, down from 20 days in February and from 29 days in March 2020. Eighty-three percent of the homes sold in March 2021 were on the market for less than a month.

Eighteen days is fast, and it’s a new record. Locally, in Sussex County, Delaware, it was even LESS, at 11 days on the market for March 2021:

And in Kent County, the median DOM was 8 DAYS during March, 2021:

Regarding the time it will take to close the transaction, all-cash sales accounted for 23% of all home purchase transactions in March. All-cash sales can usually be closed in thirty days.

If a mortgage is necessary, the most recent Origination Insight Report from Ellie Mae shows:

Time to close all loans decreased in March. The average time to close a purchase fell to 51 days, down from 53 the month prior.

If you’re looking for a quick closing process, there’s never been a market in which the two-step process (finding a buyer and closing the deal) has taken less time.

Bottom Line:

Selling your house can be daunting, especially in a fast-paced market. However, the fact that we’re in such a strong sellers’ market clearly eliminates many common concerns. Call Lisa Mathena today at 302-236-6232 so you can learn more about the opportunities for homeowners who are ready to sell.

The information contained, and the opinions expressed, in this article are not intended to be construed as investment advice. The Lisa Mathena Group does not guarantee or warrant the accuracy or completeness of the information or opinions contained herein. Nothing herein should be construed as investment advice. You should always conduct your own research and due diligence and obtain professional advice before making any investment decision. The Lisa Mathena Group will not be liable for any loss or damage caused by your reliance on the information or opinions contained herein.

Makin’ Meatballs: Lisa’s Own Recipe

After countless videos of Lisa in the kitchen whipping up her favorite Italian specialties, you can safely say that Lisa loves to COOK. Big-time. She’s shown you how to make Eggplant Parmesan, homemade Ravioli, Italian Chicken Cutlets. And, by request, Lisa’s newest recipe is Italian Meatballs and Marinara Gravy (Is it Gravy? Sauce? There’s a story here…). Lisa shows you how, step-by-step. You can watch the video (below)…

Or you can keep reading for all the details below.

Now, what’s this about a controversy over sauce/gravy?

According to Lisa, growing up in an Italian household meant that every Sunday her parents would have a big pot of marinara “sauce” on the stove. “However, we called it ‘gravy’ because we put meat in it”, says Lisa when asked for an explanation.

According to the website Italian Sons And Daughters of America “no one really knows who coined the term gravy, or when the sauce-gravy controversy started; however, every Italian-American knows what side they’re on.” Further, we find that in the U.S. there are areas where ‘gravy’ is the accepted term—areas of Philadelphia, South Philly in particular, east Boston and Chicago. But travel to New York and it’s a completely different story: in New York City’s 5 boroughs (Manhattan, the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island) the majority of people prefer ‘sauce’ as the terminology. And yet, just across the Hudson River in northern New Jersey, specifically Essex County-the Oranges (Orange, East Orange, West Orange and South Orange), Newark, Nutley and Millburn-and you’ll find the population prefers ‘gravy’.

The controversy is not limited to the Northeastern United States either: venture down South into New Orleans and you’ll find that NOLA also prefers to call it ‘gravy’.

Enough Controversy-Let’s Get Messy!

You will need a pot large enough to cook both the gravy and the meatballs (Lisa likes cooking the meatballs right within the gravy).

Gravy/Sauce Ingredients: Yields approx. 5 pounds of sauce. To make a smaller batch, i.e. half, just cut the ingredients by half.

  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 can of diced tomatoes, 1 can of crushed tomatoes
  • 3 cans of tomato puree
  • 2 Tablespoons (TBSP) basil
  • 2 TBSP parsley
  • 1 TBSP black pepper
  • 2 TBSP salt
  • 1 TBSP onion powder
  • 1.5-2 TBSP olive oil (for the pan, to cook the marinara)

Meatball Ingredients: Yields approx. 4 pounds of meatballs. To reduce the amount i.e. by half, simply cut the ingredients in half.

(Hint: You can use ground meat (pork, turkey, chicken, beef) for your meatballs, but for a really optimum meatball Lisa recommends meatloaf mix!)

  • 3-1.3 lb packets of meatloaf mix
  • 1 cup Progresso Italian bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan/romano cheese (or whatever cheese you like)
  • 2 TBSP parsley
  • 2 TBSP basil
  • Not quite a TBSP of pepper
  • 1 TSP onion powder
  • 2 TSP salt
  • Approx. ¼ cup half & half

Making the Marinara: Allow up to 5 hours for cooking the marinara.

The best marinara comes from “Low and Slow”-cooking it for several hours on Low heat. So, when we say making Sunday dinner is an all-day affair, we really mean it! You should start cooking the marinara in the morning and let it simmer for several hours before adding the meatballs.

  • Heat up your pot with the olive oil on the stove (get it nice and HOT!).
  • Then turn the heat to “Low” and add the diced onions into the pot. The onions should be sauteed “Low and Slow” so they don’t burn. Sautee the onions until they are translucent.
  • Add the 5 cans of tomato products, along with ¾ can of water. Adding the diced and crushed tomatoes helps add more “body” to the marinara.
  • Add all the spices to the mix (basil, parsley, pepper, salt and onion powder). Remember: “Low and Slow”-cooking it for several hours on Low heat with the lid ON to maintain consistency. (Tip: if you want your sauce/gravy to be thicker, take the lid OFF the pot while it’s cooking so it will thicken more).
  • While you’re waiting for the marinara to cook…

It’s Time to Make The Meatballs!

Okay, we know the first question is: Why half & half in the meatballs?

Answer: It cuts down on the denseness, and gives the meatballs a richer flavor.

  • Take your meatloaf mix and place it into a large bowl.
  • Add the eggs – careful, don’t crack the eggs directly over the bowl!
  • Add the cheese, then breadcrumbs, and then all the spices.
  • Let’s get messy! Use your hands to knead the mixture, blending everything together.
  • Now it’s time to form the meatballs and cook them.
  • When it comes to cooking the meatballs, you have options. You can:
    • Fry them in a frying pan;
    • Bake them in the oven: Place them on a baking sheet and bake in the oven 15 minutes on each side @ 225-250 degrees.
    • Cook them in the GRAVY! (that’s how we do it!)
  • Roll the meatballs by hand. Make them as small/large as you prefer. Here’s where the half & half really makes a difference: the meat is more pliable and easy to roll.
  • Allow them about 1 hour to cook in the pot so that they are fully cooked. You will probably have to skim a small amount of grease off the top as a result of cooking the meatballs in the sauce/gravy.
    • **See below regarding Health & Human Services recommendations on food safety and cooking temperatures.

You can then store the sauce and meatballs in containers in your freezer for enjoyment later, or you can serve it. For more of In The Kitchen With Lisa, visit her YouTube channel-and please subscribe!

Mangia!

Portions of content supplied by KCM (Keeping Current Matters).

The information contained, and the opinions expressed, in this article are not intended to be construed as investment advice. The Lisa Mathena Group does not guarantee or warrant the accuracy or completeness of the information or opinions contained herein. Nothing herein should be construed as investment advice. You should always conduct your own research and due diligence and obtain professional advice before making any investment decision. The Lisa Mathena Group will not be liable for any loss or damage caused by your reliance on the information or opinions contained herein.

Is Spring Really The Best Time To Sell?

When selling a house, most homeowners hope for a quick and profitable transaction that puts them in a position to make a great move. If you’re waiting for the best time to win as a seller, the market is calling your name this spring. Here are five reasons why this is the perfect time to sell your house if you’re ready.

1. There’s high demand from homebuyers. Buyer demand is strong right now, and buyers are active in the market. ShowingTime, which tracks the average number of buyer showings on residential properties, recently announced that buyer showings were up 55.1% in January of 2021 compared to January of last year.

2. There aren’t enough houses for sale.

Purchaser demand is so high, the market is running out of available houses for sale. Recently, realtor.com reported:

“Nationally, the inventory of homes for sale in February decreased by 48.6% over the past year, a higher rate of decline compared to the 42.6% drop in January. This amounted to 496,000 fewer homes for sale compared to February of last year.” The National Association of Realtors (NAR) also reveals that, while home sales are skyrocketing, the inventory of existing homes for sale is continuing to drop dramatically. Houses are essentially selling as fast as they’re hitting the market – in fact, NAR reports that the average house is on the market for only 21 days.

3. You have a lot of leverage in today’s market.

Clearly, many more people are interested in buying than selling this spring, creating the ultimate sellers’ market. When this happens, homeowners in a position to sell have the upper hand in negotiations. According to NAR, agents are reporting an average of 3.7 offers per house and an increase in bidding wars. As a seller, this means the ball is in your court – so much so that you can use your leverage to negotiate the best possible contract. Demand is there, and now is the perfect time to sell for the most favorable terms.

4. It’s a great way to use your home equity. According to the latest data from CoreLogic, as of the third quarter of 2020, the average homeowner gained $17,000 in equity over the past year, and that number continues to grow as home values appreciate. Equity is a type of forced savings that grows during your time as a homeowner and can be put toward bigger goals like buying your next dream home.

5. It’s a chance to find a home that meets your needs.

So much has changed over the past year, including what many of us need in a home. Spending extra time where we currently live is enabling many of us to re-evaluate homeownership and what we find most important in a home.

Whether it’s a house that has the features suited to working remotely, space for virtual or hybrid schooling, a home gym or theater, or something else, selling this spring gives you a chance to make a move and find the home of your dreams.

Bottom Line Today’s housing market belongs to the sellers. If you’ve considered making a move but have been waiting for the right market conditions, your wait may be over. Contact Lisa Mathena or call 302-236-6232 so you’ll be positioned to win when you sell your house this spring!

The information contained, and the opinions expressed, in this article are not intended to be construed as investment advice. The Lisa Mathena Group does not guarantee or warrant the accuracy or completeness of the information or opinions contained herein. Nothing herein should be construed as investment advice. You should always conduct your own research and due diligence and obtain professional advice before making any investment decision. The Lisa Mathena Group will not be liable for any loss or damage caused by your reliance on the information or opinions contained herein.