February 3, 2014 at 9:30 AM
CRANFORD, NJ — Mitch Harris saves homeowners money. Lots of it. By managing people’s homes physically as well as fiscally, the Westfield resident and owner of Experts of H.O.M.E. in Cranford saves people cash on everything from dishwasher repair to major renovations.
And Harris knows his stuff. A licensed New Jersey real estate broker for over 25 years, he has completed more than $750 million of transactions. He is also a construction expert who has been involved in the construction of almost 600 new homes, thousands and thousands of square feet of commercial build-outs and hundreds of large-scale residential additions and renovations. He is a licensed Black Seal Boiler Operator, Certified Pool Operator, licensed & insured General Contractor, and his RCS Building Inspectors license is pending.
The “H.O.M.E.” in Experts of H.O.M.E stands for “Houses - Ownership - Maintenance – Efficiency.”
“For every $100 that they pay me, the homeowner saves $750, on average,” said Harris. “Which makes me really happy."
But money isn’t the only reason clients love Experts of H.O.M.E.
“What I notice most is the feeling of relief when people sign up with me,” said Harris. “It's interesting to me that you’re more likely to take care of your $30,000 car than your half-a-million dollar or your million-dollar home. I don’t know why that is. Maybe it’s just scary.”
“For me, it’s the combination of cost savings and peace of mind,” said Chris Miller, who was Experts of H.O.M.E.’s first customer. A single working mom, Miller said Harris has saved her over $10,000 since she hired him to manage her home over a year ago, and has helped her avoid disasters, too.
When a homeowner signs up for a plan with Experts of H.O.M.E., the first thing Harris does is inspect the house top to bottom, inside and out. One of the first things he noticed about the Miller home? Their smoke detectors weren’t up to code.
“I never would have known that if one was triggered they should all go off,” said Miller. Among other immediate fixes, Harris also cleaned the dryer vents (the leading cause of home fires) and the dishwasher filter.
“I didn’t even know dishwashers had filters,” said Miller.
Harris then sat down with Miller to prioritize what needed to be done to keep the house running smoothly and create “wish list” so that she could budget for what she really wanted to improve in her home. They determined that Miller’s roof needed work and began to work on a plan that was soon pushed forward by Superstorm Sandy.
No sooner had Harris begun interviewing contractors about fixing Miller’s roof than two trees fell on it during Superstorm Sandy. When she called, Harris immediately came to her home and installed a tarp over the roof to keep the elements out. Then he helped her hire contractors and negotiated the best price to fix the roof. While the work was being done, Harris came to her home to oversee it all.
“More than the money, the stressors are what bother people the most—knowing you have to take a day or two off of work, discussing things with contractors that you don’t necessarily know about,” said Harris.
Harris was also instrumental in appealing Miller’s insurance claim, fighting with the provider to recoup thousands of dollars more than the company was initially willing to pay.
All the Little Stuff
“Mitch has been an enormous help to me when needing to fix day-to-day issues with the house, such as a backed up drain, frozen pipes and minor electrical and plumbing improvements,” said customer Mike Kahn, who hired Harris with wife Sharon.
When Harris first inspected the Kahn’s house, he immediately saved them hundreds of dollars with baking soda and vinegar. The washing machine wasn’t draining properly, and the Kahns had been prepared to call a repairman or a plumber, but Harris knew better. The real cost to fix a slow drain tube? Maybe 50 cents.
A few minutes later, Harris saved the Kahn family $600 on the tree pruning they were about to start by negotiating with the landscaper. Later, Experts of H.O.M.E. saved them approximately $3,500 on HVAC replacement.
Most homeowners aren’t properly equipped to negotiate, Harris explained. They don’t know the market prices and they often don’t know what’s really required of the contractor or company.
“If I answer the door instead of the homeowner, the conversation is immediately different,” said Harris.
“His knowledge of what exactly is needed and his ability to efficiently bid out the job is a huge time and money saver,” said Kahn. “Mitch is a pleasure to work with. Not only is he helpful and informative, but also extremely timely, honest and hard-working. I intend to be a client of ‘the Experts’ for many, many years to come.”
To hear Harris’s recent interview with Bernie Wagenblast on Cranford Radio, click here.