Real Estate – 2021 begins

Happy New Years all, I’m hoping this year brings you health and prosperity. I would guess that more people than ever before celebrated (at home) the arrival of 2021 as an overwhelming relief. So here’s my year-end wrap on real estate.

Real Estate will be one of a few industries that helps pull us out of the economic downturn as opposed to 2008 when it dragged us into the downturn. While home prices continued to appreciate in the train towns of North Jersey and across the country, the real driver of this year’s booming real estate market were record-low mortgage rates making homes more affordable despite rising home prices.

As a result, Affordability reached its highest level in 30 years in 2020 and buyer demand surged. Mortgage Rates are projected to stay low until economic activity begins returning to pre-Covid levels. According to Lawrence Yun of the National Association of Realtors, “In 2021, Rates will be similar or modestly higher, maybe 3%…” So the trends will most likely stick around in 2021 even if we end up with a slight increase in mortgage rates and a more moderate increase in prices. It’s a great time to Refinance.

So Low Inventory helped drive prices higher in 2020. Many of the sellers who listed in the last 9 months were rewarded with multiple bids and a sale price above list. So despite the currently rising number of Covid cases wreaking havoc on many peoples’ lives and employment, the hope of vaccinations eventually ending the pandemic will probably give more sellers confidence about finally putting their home up for sale this year. As a result, 2021 inventory will most likely rise above 2020 levels but still remain low historically. Take advantage of low inventory by being one of the few homes on the market in your price range.

The wave of unemployment that accompanied the pandemic probably sent a good number of homeowners into Mortgage Forbearance. However, since the level of inventory has been at record lows, there’s room for the market to largely absorb the foreclosures resulting from job losses. So no doubt foreclosures are coming, there will most likely be a lower chance of an inventory/foreclosure glut.

As a result of more (but not too much) inventory, experts are predicting a 7% increase in the number of home sales compared to last year. Home prices will continue to rise, but at a more steady and slower pace – Danielle Hale, Chief Economist, Realtor.com

The graph below shows the underlying Strength of Demand year over year as 2020 showing traffic was far above 2019 levels except for the months of March and April. With rates expected to stay low, expect demand to remain strong.

With eleven years of experience helping sellers and buyers, I’d love to help you map your next move. Let’s chat – 201 600 8141

Quickly find your home’s value

Home Showings – Real Estate Demand

Here’s an Interesting graph showing increase in home showings (as measured by the company, Showing Time) from 2019 (blue) to 2020 (orange). After plummeting as the country locked down, buyers returned en masse in May and for the rest of the year. Showing Time is a company that arranges and monitors showings for realtors.

It’s interesting to see the dips show the traffic decreases during holidays that I communicate to sellers and buyers.

Downsizing

The kids are in college. Do the Math on downsizing.

Finances, Savings

From a $1 milion dollar Train town home to a $600,000 Train town home. You could save $1,800 on your mortgage per month. Your taxes might drop from 28k to 16k which could save you an additional $1,000 per month

Also factor in insurance, utilities, landscaping, cleaning, maintenance savings and it’s possible your savings could total $3,200 per month

Square Footage

Going from a 2,500 foot home to a 1,200-1,400 square foot cottage or condo means lots of ‘things’ won’t fit. What to do with the second bedroom, office, studio, guest bedroom?

One thing’s for sure, you’ll have to declutter and decide between storing, eliminating or selling some things.

Pros

  1. Lower costs
  2. More options (finances & living experiences)
  3. Easier to maintain
  4. Travel more
  5. Other adventures
  6. Invest cash-out equity

Cons

  1. We love our home
  2. Might not get back into this neighborhood
  3. Less Storage
  4. Harder to host guests or big parties
  5. Moving

If getting started is still daunting, contact me for a downsizing consultation at ken@kenkrasnerhomes.com or 201 600 8141.

Home Affordability boosted by low mortgage rates and…

With all the bidding wars that are occurring in NJ real estate transactions, it would appear that conditions favor sellers. However, today’s ‘affordability index’ makes it a win-win situation for buyers too. The chart from Keeping Current Matters below illustrates why buyers should be taking advantage of this situation as NJ homes are actually more affordable now than at anytime since 2013.

The three main factors that contribute to how affordable homes are for buyers are:

  1. Mortgage Rates
  2. Mortgage Payments as a Percentage of Income
  3. Home Prices

In July, house-buying power got a big boost as the 30-year, fixed mortgage rate made history by moving below three percent. That drop in rate to 2.98% increased house-buying power by nearly $15,000.

Below is a table showing the history of this affordability.

Two Questions

  1. Is it safe?
  2. How strong is the market ?

1. Is it Safe? New virus cases in NJ dropped significantly from 4,229 on April 4, to 462 on June 4 and the governor is opening up more of the economy every week.

Numbers aside, your safety is priority number one, so I have procedures to follow during showings to help keep both buyer and seller safe. I also have virtual tools to provide more info, so only the more serious buyers actually show up. For details, please check out the bottom of the previous post. https://kenkrasnerhomes.wordpress.com/2020/05/12/may-2020-real-estate-clawing-back/

2. How strong is the market? Stay-at-home orders are gradually being lifted in our area and homebuyers are coming back into the market. After many put their plans on hold due to the pandemic, the action is shifting into a higher gear later this year – Summer is the new Spring.

For Buyers?

“Applications for home purchases continue to recover from April’s sizable drop and have now increased for five consecutive weeks…” – Joel Kan, Economist at Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA). Google Trends scores search terms online, and searches for real estate increased from 68 points the week of March 15th, to 92 points last week. As I mentioned in the previous blogpost, more potential homebuyers who were stuck indoors began looking for homes online.

The most current unemployment numbers have improved and there are now historically low mortgage rates. “For the fourth consecutive week, the 30 year mortgage has been below 3.3 percent, giving potential buyers a good reason to continue shopping even amid the pandemic… With mortgage rates at such low levels and states gradually beginning to reopen, there’s more incentive than ever to buy a home this summer – Sam Khater, Chief Economist at Freddie Mac.

For Sellers?

Finding a home to buy, can still be a challenge, as earlier this spring, sellers removed listings from the market. Though more people are finally listing their homes for sale this month compared to last, current inventory is still well below last year’s level.

New listings declined 28% compared with a year ago, as sellers hesitated to bring homes to market. Total listings dropped 20% year on year, a faster rate than in prior weeks, leaving very few homes available for sale. As Time on Market was 15 days slower (YOY), asking prices moved up 1.5% YOY.” – Weekly Economic and Housing Market Update from Realtor.com. This past week, I’ve noticed more listings appearing, so inventory may finally begin to broaden.

If you’re thinking of selling your house this year, now may actually be your best opportunity. With so few homes on the market for buyers to purchase, early summer may be the time for your house to stand out from the crowd. I can help you list safely and effectively, keeping your family’s needs top of mind.

Please reach out to me soon to make sure you can get your house in on the action.

May 2020 – Real Estate clawing back

TRAFFIC VS INVENTORY

While many sellers and buyers understandably put home selling and buying plans on hold in March and April, the last three weeks have shown that making a move is looking much more do-able than it was a month ago.

First of all the number of buyer showings is coming back as shown by the chart above (courtesy of Showing Time). With technology and many fewer sellers listing their homes, you can list your house and make it happen safely and effectively and follow guidelines set by Gov Murphy,  the CDC and the NAR. Since most people are sheltering at home, people are spending a lot of time on the INTERNET and some are buyers actively looking at homes for sale online. But despite buyer traffic being low compared to normal spring markets, there are currently still buyers competing for the scarce inventory and having offers accepted. So the number of homes going Under Contract in area towns did not drop nearly as much as the number of Active Listings.

Less Competition – Quite a few sellers in April removed their homes from the market, but listings will pick up again soon, as a high percentage of sellers are only planning to delay the process by a couple of months. If you need to sell right now, don’t wait for the competition to get back into the market again. If the curve continues to flatten, delayed listings from the typically busy spring season will push into the summer months, so more competition will be coming to the market as the pandemic passes. Getting ahead of that wave now might be your opportunity.

Tech – We utilize tech to help both buyers & sellers who need to continue with their plans. We use virtual tours to show homes currently on the market, staying connected with the buyers and sellers thru video chats, and completing transactions more electronically. We’re making sure families remain safe and can keep their real estate needs on track.

Here are the types of clients we currently see:

  1. Families living in urban apartments in NYC, eager to move into a safe and spacious suburban home with a yard and less Covid risk.
  2. Families sheltering in place, seeing the need for first-floor living quarters that their aging parents can move into
  3. Renters with leases ending, and need to purchase a home ASAP
  4. Sellers planning to relocate and sell their current home
  5. Buyers with the intention of relocating for a job

Navigating through the pandemic, we face the challenge of keeping our community safe, while helping our clients meet essential housing needs. We have come up with a virtual way of showing homes to those who have to currently buy or sell. Here’s the menu to choose from to meet your needs.

DIGITAL BUFFET: My listings now have a fuller digital selection for interested Buyers to review prior to scheduling a showing. Each home features 25+ photos, a Video Walk-Through, a Floor Plan, a Virtual Brochure with full details on the house, and a Survey (if available), as well as photos of the mechanicals and ceiling height, and a Seller’s Property Disclosure, which are available upon request.

NO TOUCH SHOWINGS:

Each Buyer and Seller has different needs, and we tailor the showing process for them. We offer FaceTime or Zoom showings, both of which can be done individually or thru Virtual Open Houses.

For the buyers who wish to schedule an in-person showing in order to make an informed purchase decision, we have specific safety measures in place. They must be ready for the following:

  1. Buyer and Seller to sign COVID-19 disclosures prior to the showing
  2. Seller to leave all lights on, open some windows for ventilation and open all interior doors so that clients do not need to touch anything while in the home
  3. Buyer and Agent to arrive with their own gloves and masks. Booties will be supplied
  4. Agent to access the key in the lockbox and open the front door
  5. Ensure the practice of social distancing
  6. Questions, Answers & Discussion take place outdoors
  7. If arriving with young children, parents please alternate viewing home with one parent remaining in car with child
  8. Six people or less in home at a time and no overlapping in rooms

Bottom Line – Homes are still being bought and sold in the midst of this pandemic. If you or anyone you know need to sell your house and would like to know the current status in your local market, contact me to create a safe and effective plan that works for you and your family.

Find your home’s value quickly.

So Now What?

April 2020

Prior to the spread of Coronavirus, the NJ real estate market was still in good shape.  But let’s be real, things have changed. The good news is that agents/brokers, attorneys and lenders are still making sure their current transactions get to the closing table. However, the bad news is that the number of buyers and sellers interested in jumping in now has fallen off very significantly.

So now what?  It mostly depends on how quickly those who lost their jobs and income because of the pandemic can recover.

OVER SIX MILLION Americans filed for unemployment last week, an enormous number that is only going to grow.  According to Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the National Association of Realtors, “Housing, like most other industries, suffered from the coronavirus crisis, but once this predicament is behind us and the habit of social distancing is respected, I’m encouraged there will be continued home transactions, with more virtual tours, electronic signatures, and external home appraisals. Many of the home sales likely to be missed during the first part of 2020 may be pushed into late summer and autumn parts of the year.” 

Gov. Murphy is calling Real Estate an essential business and is now allowing the basic unit of real estate, ‘in person appointments’, or one single showing of a home link to Murphy executive order.  Open houses are still currently off the table. Murphy worked with more than 40 financial institutions, including Citi & Chase to NOT initiate foreclosure or eviction proceedings for at least 60 days.  HUD announced this month that the FHA has been authorized to implement an immediate foreclosure and eviction moratorium for single-family homeowners with FHA-insured mortgages for the next 60 days.

I’m working with several buyers and sellers who would understandably rather wait, and despite a significant number of people deciding to ‘hold off’, there are still people needing to buy or sell, but they’re nervous.   So is everyone else involved in real estate transactions.  So as mentioned above, agents, attorneys, lenders and title companies are all working hard to get the closings/settlements that were already underway completed (including yours truly in the pic above doing just that).

Technology steps into the breach.  Expect more virtual showings, videos, and zoom chats to replace or precede anything previously conducted in-person. Expect digital documents to eliminate even more paper and signature pens.  Expect attorneys to limit the number of people at the closing table to comply with new federal and the World Health Organization guidelines.

Sellers – Agents are, for now taking less listings, and are trying to reassure sellers that they will only bring through qualified buyers, instructing them not to touch anything, escorting them the entire time they are in the home and then disinfecting door handles. Check your home value here. Buyers – Those that left assets in a bear market, may wind up with less cash for down payments. Interest rates are now at rock-bottom lows, but that won’t prevent sales from slowing and prices from coming down, as the economy flips from a strong seller’s market to a buyer’s market.

As interest rates fall, the demand for refinancing seems to be skyrocketing, but is volatile. In March, 30-year fixed-rate mortgages were hovering around 3.25 percent to 3.5 percent. Then, they were at 4 percent, as investors flocked to 10-year Treasuries, and the Fed announced it would buy mortgage-backed securities. Demand for bonds won’t help mortgage interest rates or housing affordability. If you’re looking to REFI, I have contact info for excellent area lenders, so reach out.

An expanding demand is city dwellers looking to flock to the suburbs to rent for more space and an easier time social distancing as Covid spikes and urban crowding becomes too difficult for many to handle.

Stay safe and help flatten the curve.

NJ Wind Power

njwind

You want clean energy NJ?  Here it comes.  So now the question is are you really ready for clean power in NJ or are you feeling a NIMBY attitude coming on?  People in Atlantic City, Margate, Ventnor, Longport and Brigantine may initially be worried about seeing wind turbines from their homes.

Hopefully building the wind turbines 15 miles out to sea is a good enough distance.  That far out officials believe you won’t see it most of the time from the shore because of the ocean haze.  The other reason for the distance is that there are also far fewer birds who could be hurt or hurt the equipment.

So the state’s first award for offshore wind to the Danish energy company Ørsted and Public Service Enterprise Group (PSEG) for a proposed 1,100-megawatt Ocean Wind project was granted by the NJ Board of Public Utilities.  This is all part of a push by Governor Murphy to raise the proportion of energy in NJ derived from cleaner sources.

So the plans for this $1.6 billion wind-energy farm is the largest of its kind in the U.S.  Let’s do this!

 

link to Wind Power article

link to deeper Wind Power dive

 

160 Highfield Lane & ON3

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I’m very excited about my newest exclusive & extraordinary listing.  160 Highfield Lane is a beautifully renovated side hall colonial with a killer kitchen, marvelous master suite and is bursting with so many fine details.  Get a look at some of the beautiful images in the home’s stylish link directly below.

160highfieldlane.com

Nutley is becoming a hot destination as nearby Montclair and Glen Ridge prices have exploded in the last few years.  Highfield Lane is part of the old Satterthwaite estate with gorgeous, wide, tree-lined streets that look like they could be in Montclair or Glen Ridge.  Nutley has a fun, small-town vibe with a walkable, centralized business district and it’s located close to transportation and entertainment  (New York is a super easy commute)  The town is poised for more growth as the old Hoffman-LaRoche industrial campus is being renovated for both high profile and smaller businesses that are bringing jobs.

One of which is Modern Meadow, a biotech company that produces “animal-free leather” from living cells. Check this link for more info about what new businesses are coming here  ON3 – Nutley’s new scene

Contact me at 201 600 8141 if you’d like to get a look

You can also use this link which is more real estate oriented 160highfield

 

2019 Real Estate Projections

Where is the real estate market going in 2019?

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Here are a few points I’ve boiled down and expanded upon (sourced from Realtor.com) that are likely to influence and illustrate the 2019 real estate market’s performance.

To see how this will affect you personally use the quick & complimentary home value estimator here – FIND YOUR HOME’S VALUE

  1. Home price growth will slow – perhaps down to 2%.  Many homes are still selling for a strong price, but receiving 8 or more offers as some did from 2014-2017 is becoming a much rarer occurrence.  For more info on local sales click this link – HOUSING MARKET TRENDS   for more specific HOUSING MARKET TRENDS
  2. Inventory will most likely remain moderate with only small increases, except for high-priced homes which will have significant inventory increases.  LOCAL INVENTORY INFO
  3. Millennials getting mortgages will slightly outpace GenerationX’ers and far outpace Boomers getting mortgages.
  4. The new tax law will be good for renters (keeping more income) and a mixed bag, but mostly negative for homeowners who may keep more income but will lose the SALT deductions.  The law no longer allows taxpayers the ability to deduct state and local taxes (SALT), so we’re being taxed twice on the same income. Those deductions on property taxes, along with a deduction on mortgage interest, used to provide a strong incentive for homeownership.  Maybe the new house representative class recently elected will stick up for the suburban voters who put them there and try to pass legislation to reverse or lessen the impact of the new laws, but I’m not holding my breath.
  5. Most experts are predicting that mortgage rates will most likely hit 5.5 percent by the end of the year. Some buyers will be motivated to purchase before the rates get too high and some may begin sitting on the sidelines waiting for the next dip. HOWEVER, after a recent meeting between China and the US about trade and tariffs, interest rates actually dropped. So ‘most experts’ may change their tune if the tariffs/trade wars keep putting a scare into the market.  For more about Mortgage-related questions – link instantly to expert MORTGAGE RATE, FINANCE INFO & PRE-APPROVALS  
  6. Most experts don’t see an obvious buyer’s market for awhile, because of moderate inventory and prices holding steady. Buyers will have to adapt their strategies to deal with higher rates and lower inventory.  Since higher end homes will have more inventory and more stagnant prices, there are more opportunities for buyers in the higher price ranges than in the entry level price ranges which have more buyer competition and less inventory.
  7. Despite remaining nominally a seller’s market, increasing competition from increased inventory will most likely bring down expectations for bidding wars, multiple offers  and getting whatever price a seller thinks he can get.. Sellers who price competitively should still be able to come away with a good amount of equity if they didn’t buy at the 2006 peak.
  8. The total number of home sales declined in 2018 compared to 2017 and is expected to decline further in 2019

link to full Realtor.com projections & article