Flipping South Orange

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317 Meeker Street in South Orange is getting a makeover.

317 Meeker Street in South Orange is getting a makeover.


Usman Sharif and Jill Sockwell are on a mission.

They’ve teamed up to renovate a mid-century split-level in the West Montrose neighborhood of South Orange and transform it into a dream house.

Sharif purchased the house, which was in foreclosure, for $225,000 this summer. With the help of architect Harold Tullis and a team of electricians, plumbers and contractors, Sharif will expand, update and renovate the house, at 317 Meeker, over the next several weeks.


Usman Sharif outside of 317 Meeker

The size of the house will grow from 1,828 sf to 2,740 sf, increasing the footprint 15 feet into the backyard, raising the roof 10 feet to add a third-level master suite, adding a two-level deck, and opening up interior spaces.

The first-level expansion will allow for a more open interior space and larger, modern kitchen — plus a powder room. However, the third-level master suite sounds like the house’s ultimate calling card. It will include a sitting area, walk-in closet, master bath and its own private deck.


Usman Sharif and Jill Sockwell review architectural drawings for 317 Meeker.

Sharif is experienced at flipping houses, having started back in the 1990s when he went in on a four-family home in Roselle, NJ. When he and his family members sold the building in 2001, “We made such good money, we said, ‘Wait a minute!'” and a new career path was born.

Since then, Sharif has purchased and renovated about 100 properties throughout Essex and Union counties.

Sharif also has another career as an actor and producer, splitting his time between New Jersey/New York, Los Angeles and Atlanta. He starred in the 2013 film Criminal Behavior, and you may have caught him in smaller roles in The Wire and House of Payne (check out his IMDB page here).

Sockwell, who also has the looks of a movie star, is a real estate agent with Keller Williams Mid-Town Direct where she is a member of the Robert Northfield Team. Sockwell is on board to help Sharif in choosing details and finishes.

“I can let him know trends, what people are looking for.”


Jill Sockwell inside a gutted 317 Meeker.

Right now, Sockwell says that mid-century split-levels are making a comeback. “Not everyone wants a Colonial.”

Sockwell explained that many buyers are now “embracing” the split-level and the “modern, clean, open feel.” 317 Meeker, in particular, will be “open, you’ll see all the light. You’ll have the energy and the feel,” said Sockwell. She was quick to add that the house is close to the Mountain Avenue train station and down the street from park land at Cameron Field and Flood’s Hill.

Sharif is excited to work on this South Orange home. “There are less and less of these in Maplewood in South Orange,” he said.

When Sharif and his team complete the work in about eight weeks, Sockwell’s team will take over, tacking on another week to do photography and set up marketing.

Sockwell said that, as is the plan with any flip, the house will go for much more than the last purchase price: “With any house the list price is something that we like to make our final decision on right before a home goes on the market. That said, based on Usman’s vision and architectural plans for the home, I project that we will list it somewhere between $505k-$530k.”

The Village Green will be checking in with Sharif and Sockwell to document the progress at 317 Meeker over the next few months. But first, enjoy our gallery of the house PRE-makeover:


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