Market conditions – Affordability & Inventory

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The spring housing market has been similar to 2017, inventory is tight and housing prices are strong. Hesitancy over new tax laws and the deductibility of prepaid property taxes has caused some sellers to ‘wait-and-see’, limiting supply, and causing New Jersey home buyers to wonder whether there is any relief in sight.
Trends to know for 2018:
1. Recent tax changes are keeping some home sellers on the sidelines.  The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act may have far-reaching effects for the New Jersey real estate market. In 2018, homeowners will have their state and local tax (SALT) deductions capped at $10,000. A work-around has been approved by Gov Murphy but how the feds react to it is still to be determined.
2. When the new tax bill was announced, many New Jersey residents prepaid their first and second quarter 2018 property taxes in the hopes they could deduct those payments on their 2017 tax returns. As it turns out, the treatment of these payments may differ for Federal and State returns.
New Jersey home prices continue to rise – Reduced inventory is underpinning home prices in NJ. Early indications for the 2018 spring market show strong demand for homes, due in part to wage growth and a strong job market. Both have contributed to a very competitive housing market, and home prices continue to rise. The Home Buying Institute anticipates home prices could increase by 3-5% this year in the United States, and northern New Jersey is seeing strong markets particularly along the Midtown Direct train line in towns such as South Orange and Maplewood.
3.  Although mortgage rates are expected to rise in 2018, they remain historically low. Current 30-year fixed mortgage rates are hovering at about 4.5%, and many forecasters predict they will end the year higher. Low interest rates are keeping home buyers (especially families) active. Many want housing contracts in place before the start of the school year in the fall so children can take advantage of highly-rated school districts along the Midtown Direct.
4. Millennials are moving to the suburbs from New York City
Although New York City rents are softening, Millennials are still migrating to the suburbs where there’s more square footage for the price. While overall rent levels may be starting to drift down, according to StreetEasy; New York City rents are still increasing twice as fast as wages. Compounded by the fact that many Millennials are starting families, city dwellers are leaving New York City in search of nice neighborhoods, more space, and excellent schools. And with plenty of options to facilitate the daily commute into New York, New Jersey has become a go-to place to live. In addition to Maplewood & South Orange, towns such as Montclair, Summit, Chatham, and Westfield are just a few more that are top of the Millennial list due to their walkable & fun downtowns, entertainment, shopping, and trending restaurant scenes.
Are you considering a move to northern New Jersey? I would love to assist you.
With 9 years of experience buying and selling homes, I can help you take advantage of current housing trends and find the home of your dreams. Contact me at 201 600 8141 or ken@kenkrasnerhomes.com

Link to Forbes article and more details

 

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Live, Relax & Entertain (repeat)

I have an inspiring new home on the market. The absolutely beautiful head-to-toe renovations were curated by a prominent advertising exec with excellent taste.   Get a look at some beautiful images and vibes in the link below and in the MLS link too.

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Yin Yang
What happens when you balance a high-powered job in the city with the opportunity to exhale … nightly? Well, that’s now on the market at 497 Prospect Street in Maplewood (NJ). The proximity facilitates a job in the city. The suburbs allow for four spacious floors, two wet bars, a designer kitchen and a heated, saltwater pool in a backyard oasis. Check out this home’s vibe at www.MaplewoodYall.com.

MLS link

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Ex-Brooklyners Find Style and Substance In Maplewood
It’s dubbed “Brooklyn West.” Maplewood (NJ) has become home to many from the NYC’s mammoth borough. Some say Maplewood is about 75% Brooklyn refugees. Naturally, the town is getting some high-style upgrades that adhere to its contented lifestyles. A good example: 497 Prospect Street on the market now. Its vibe and restoration are captured here: www.MaplewoodYall.com. We would be much obliged if you share this with your friends.
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Lifestyle meet Functionality
Maplewood (NJ) has become the darling of families and couples looking to “nest” in an environment that’s diversity-minded, up-tempo, near to the city … and good value. Few places offer all four … and that’s because the Township is a bastion of Brooklyn refugees. They’ve brought their verve, their unconventional lifestyles and their good taste to this NYC suburb. That’s all evidenced at 497 Prospect Street which is on the market now (MLS link). This space is ideal for the couple or family that appreciates the thoughtfulness of design, the attention to detail and the emphasis on entertaining. The home’s vibe is captured here: www.MaplewoodYall.com.
KITCHEN_eatin
An Entertaining Mecca
The one-bedroom Brooklyn flat may have been close to your friends but how many of them could you invite at the same time to that space? What if you had four floors, two wet bars, a designer kitchen and a heated saltwater pool in a backyard oasis? Well, your friends would bring their friends. Just 30 minutes from the city is Maplewood (NJ) and a home that’s ready for your guest list. Check out the vibe of 497 Prospect Street  which is on the market now: www.MaplewoodYall.com.

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Preparing in advance for a buyer’s inspection

inspection 

Most home buyers are paying an inspector to find issues in the house they are buying and expect to at least have the seller respond positively to the important items on their inspection list.  Of course, how much the seller offers to address depends on a number of issues beyond the actual ‘imperfections’ that the inspection has uncovered.

While a seller often gets a much bigger return on investment by improving kitchens and bathrooms, it is advisable to keep up with routine maintenance to address minor problems before they escalate into major inspection issues.
Here are some of the most common issues.
1) Furnace, Hot Water Heater.
2) Masonry around front steps and walkways
3) Recaulk around exterior doors and windows
4) Fireplace and chimney cleaned and checked by a pro
5) Make sure gutters and leaders are working & depositing water far away from the foundation of the home.
6) Address any leaking pipes
7) Knob & Tube electric needs to be addressed
8) And the most important, remove buried oil tank from the ground

Home

At the top of the hill in Maplewood sits a really beautiful home I just listed with lots of conveniences, fine details, a view and a history.  Check out the link below for more details.

Front View

http://7981collinwoodrds.thebestlisting.com/

 

 

The New Tax Bill and NJ real estate. Moody’s vs Otteau

Among those of us who live in Northern NJ, there seems to be a general view that the new tax law will negatively impact our individual finances (as shown in the map using Moody’s analytics) .  While it is understandable to feel that way, there is a more optimistic (or resilient) view of the new tax law’s effect on NJ real estate, which will be covered here by real estate guru, Jeffrey Otteau.

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My political tendencies may be showing here but, Paul Ryan and Donald Trump basically admitted to trying to penalize high tax states like CA, NJ and IL  (para 5,6,7 of this link  Ryan’s blue state comments  ), even though those states contribute more to the federal coffers than they receive.  Among those being rewarded by the law, MS, KY, AL and many other red states generally receive more than they contribute – New Mexico is the main state that doesn’t fit the pattern. – state contributions
So if you’re worried the new Republican tax law will crush home prices in New Jersey and you’re listening to the media coverage coming out of Washington, then you’re looking to assess impact and take appropriate action.  According to Moody’s, the tax plan will most likely hit NJ and other suburban areas of the bigger, mostly coastal cities harder than it will hit rural, southern, Rocky and Great Plains areas.
But here’s real estate guru Jeffrey Otteau’s optimistic take on the recent changes to the tax code earlier this week.  “There’s no reason to panic here,” said Otteau, president of The Otteau Group. “I heard some bold predictions about Armageddon, about house prices collapsing and losing 10 to 15 percent in value.  There’s NO basis for that.” 
Otteau believes overall NJ home prices will continue to climb in 2018, but at a slower rate than previously predicted, as would-be new homebuyers step back to assess the new law’s impact on their pocketbooks with their accountants.  From my personal view of the market, January has already begun strongly with multiple bids on a few good area listings.
Otteau has a few other reasons for (short term) optimism:

1 – The lower tax brackets will somewhat offset the elimination of deductions

2 – People buy homes for lots of reasons – schools, proximity to work, the freedom and pride home ownership provides, the vibe and culture of an area. Taxes rank lower on the ladder of reasons

3 – The economy has continued to improve (since the lows of 2009) – jobs up and unemployment still low

4 – Interest rates are forecast to rise this year and that will compel buyers to act before they rise higher.

5 – And finally Otteau believes the reduction in the corporate rate will compel more hiring.  I’m yet to be convinced of this one as I believe most of this money will end up with management and in company stocks.

Finally, and said long before Otteau was born, Owning is usually a far better long term financial strategy than renting.

Many locals and their municipalities have already begun taking measures to lessen the impact of this new bill.   South Orange and Maplewood among other towns have made pre-paying property taxes early simpler, but there are more ways to lessen the impact.  Below are six additional suggestions (see link – prep for new tax law – for more explanation of each measure).  Prep for the new tax law
1- increase charitable deductions
2- expenses, which include travel, professional dues, education costs, conference fees, cars and electronic equipment, can be deducted to the extent they exceed 2 percent of adjusted gross income.
3-medical
4-delay income
5-moving for work do it sooner
6-alimony

A tale of two parklets

 

millburn_avenue_parklet     parklet

 

 

 

 

 


 

Millburn will receive a Complete Streets Excellence award at Rutgers on October 24 for the changes made in Downtown Millburn,   The $8.2 million Complete Streets program was developed with traffic calming & improvements that include road-diets, curb bump-outs, bicycle parking, widened sidewalks and corners, high-visibility crosswalks, pedestrian lighting, signage and more.

According to town officials, positive changes have resulted. Speeds have decreased in the reconfigured areas of Millburn Avenue (average motorist now travels at 29 mph). Compared to the three years preceding construction, the Main Street intersections of both Millburn Ave. & Essex St. have experienced a 23% decrease in motor vehicle and pedestrian accidents.

A new app called mPay2Park makes paying for parking simpler allowing for mobile payments with no transaction fees. Zone C along Millburn Avenue now offers free 15 minute parking at the pay stations for those that just want to run a quick errand.  However, some residents have expressed concern about traffic during peak hours.

The parklet in downtown South Orange is also getting recognition. SO Environmental Commission receiving ANJEC award.  The scope and the budget of the project was a fraction of Millburn’s

Its the work of the S.O. Environmental Commission, Neil Chambers of Chambers Design, South Orange Village Center Alliance’s Bob Zuckerman, Matt Glass, Steve Pedigo, town trustee Walter Clarke, Village President Sheena Collum, South Orange Parking Authority, Essex County and donations from Tito’s Burritos, Yoni Kreger, Eventage and others.

According to Sheena, “A parklet is an emerging trend in public space design that encourages towns and cities to rethink auto-oriented concrete spaces into public, passerby-friendly ‘hotspots.’ So yeah, we gave up a couple parking spots temporarily from carbon producing automobiles (we’re promoting more sustainability in this town, remember? #ParisAgreement) and instead, created a new mini destination for all our residents, businesses and guests to use. This is called ‘tactical urbanism’ – and is very popular in the planning field.”

 

Kari Capone, SOMA’s knitwear designer

 

SOMA’s knitwear designer is Kari Capone and she’s been knitting clothing for SOMA and beyond since 2007. To see her creations, visit her at Etsy (below), at the Bizarre Bazaar, or find her in action knitting while walking down Maplewood Ave or at the Able Baker.

Kari is not just about wool and needles; she recently set up a great event.  She will be hosting a dance/birthday party/Under the Sea-themed charity event to raise money for Parkinson’s disease at Maplewood’s The Woodland on Sunday, November 12, from 2-5 pm.  Here are a few questions and answers with Kari…

1 You are a prolific creator, were you always interested in knitting and sewing?
I learned to knit when I was about 21 years old from my great-aunt Mary. But I’ve always been crafty! Starting at age 6, I learned to crochet & needlepoint. I also loved to latch hook & made rugs for my two younger brothers. I was a rabid cross-stitcher (it used to be a thing) until knitting took over as my passion.

2 You’re staging an ‘ENCHANTMENT UNDER THE SEA’ dance party and benefit for Parkinson’s at the woodland in Maplewood.   what’s the most important thing to you about it?  Not everyone knows this, but the Enchantment Under the Sea dance is also my 40th birthday party celebration. My dad died from Parkinson’s two years ago. He was only 66 years old. He and I LOVED the Back to the Future movies. One of his favorite lines was, “Roads? Where we’re going we don’t need roads.” My goal is to raise $4000 for the foundation – it seems like a nice round number for my 40th birthday. 🙂

3 Who is the most famous person that you’ve knitted for?  I haven’t knit anything for someone famous (yet) but one fun fact… I knitted about 125 pussy hats in the year 2017!  I met Vanna White this year at a crafting conference and would love to teach her to knit. She’s more of a crocheter.

4 What’s the strangest thing you’ve knitted, sewn or created?  The strangest thing I’ve ever knitted would have to be a full-length body suit, for an interpretive dance costume. A close second was an extra-large, Pepto-Bismol pink, double-breasted sweater coat with white fuzzy trim.

5 What drew you to live in SOMA?   My ex-husband & I moved to South Orange and bought our first house here in 2005. We loved raising Andrew on a dead-end street; he could play with the other kids and we could walk him downtown to see the “choo-choos.”  Now, we all live in Maplewood. Andrew’s dad and I live only a mile away from each other, and we’ve had such great experience in the schools (Marshall, Seth Boyden, MMS, & now CHS).

6 Who’s your favorite musician/band/singer?  It’s difficult to choose my favorite musician. My favorite singer is Ella Fitzgerald. I also love Gillian Welch.

7 If you could have three people at a dinner party who would they be?  If I could have three people at a dinner party, I’d invite Marie Forleo (marietv.com), Tim Ferriss (timferriss.com), and Kanye West. That would be an epic party.

8 What’s your favorite place in the world? I love many places, but I must say the Able Baker is one of my happiest places.

9 What would you like to see more of in SOMA?   I used to own a cafe on Springfield Ave. I have a real heart for the neighborhood; I’ve lived there for ten years now. I’d love to see Julie Doran’s and Vic Deluca’s work on Springfield Avenue continue. I’m especially looking forward to the day when the vacant lot near my building is a public park, or a tea house, or an artist’s cooperative, or…