b"Fifth Time's the CharmD I N G H ON MIF E Working with the Allison Ziefert Real Estate GroupBY ELLEN DONKERK evinandOliviaMullersays, They knew what they wanted. They didnt expect to be enter- keptwithitanddidnttapout.Some ing the real estate mar- advice that Ginge gave the Mullers kept ket so soon. They werethem focused. Olivia says: The paradigm quite happy in their 800that she set for us that we really took to squarefootapartmentheart[was] you have to love 80 percent inBrooklyn.Butwhenof the house and the 20 percent that you the pandemic hit, Olivia says, the idea ofdont love, you need to be able to change. quarantining all four of us with both of usUltimately,withtheirfifthbid,they working from home in a small apartmentfound their center hall Colonial with a big with no outdoor space, it wasnt sustainable.Kevin and Olivia Muller with Lucy and Jack. yard in South Orange. Situated on a quiet So they loaded up the car and temporarilystreet thats walkable to the town center, its moved in with Olivias parents in Rockaway, NJ. Thats when two-year-old Jackperfect for this commuting couple. True to Ginges 80/20 rule, Kevin says, I discovered what a back yard is and decided he wanted one of his own. just saw a ton of potential in the house. Last May, the Mullers decided to grant his wish and started researchingAlthough they closed on the house on January 4, the Mullers didnt move commutable suburbs. An article in The New York Times convinced them thatin until May. Extending their stay at Olivias parents, they were fortunate to be Maplewood and South Orange offered the kind of community they were look- able to modernize the house so it could function for their family. During that ing for, and a friend recommended they connect with Allison Ziefert and Sarahtime, they added central air conditioning, updated the bathrooms and painted Ginge Calhoun of the Allison Ziefert Real Estate Group. just about every room. Since they knew that the market was hot and theyd be paying significantlyThe childrenLucy is 4 and Jack is now 3are in love with the back yard. more than the asking price, the Mullers looked for a house that would meet theirOlivia marvels that their basement, where the kids often play, is as large as their needs for many years. Kevin says, Ifell in love with the center hall Colonial,Brooklyn apartment. so whenever we were look- Looking into the future, Olivia describes another box that this house ing at a placeI rememberchecked, saying, One of my criteriawas that if Jack or Lucyever have therewasonehousethatto move into this house, with their families down the line, I want to be able soldliketheweekwegotto accommodate that, the same way that my parents were able to accom-into the marketthat wasmodate us.always the benchmark. For now, though, TheMullersputinof- theMullersareen-fers on several houses but injoying meeting their such a competitive market,neighbors.Theyre they were outbid. It startedexploring the restau-to take its toll. Olivia says,rants and parks, and Therewerecertainhousesthe children have al-that I saw, that we were bothreadymadefriends The Mullers found a center hall Colonial that's startingtoconsider,thatin the neighborhood perfect for their family. were outside of the criteriaandonthesoccer that we wanted. But Imfield.Whatstarted really grateful for [Ginge], that she really kept us grounded and reminded us ofwith Jacks wish for a what we wanted. Ginge cautioned them that being persistent in this market isback yard has turned so important. Its often a marathon versus a sprint. intohisfamilysLeft to right: Ginge Calhoun, Jaime Richter and AllisonAllison gives the Mullers credit for staying strong despite the letdowns. Shedream house.Ziefert of the Allison Ziefert Real Estate Group.finding home /29"