Posts Tagged 'maplewood'

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.

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

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

 

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 brief Q&A with Sam Finlay

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finlaybass
Finlay & Gage, SOMA’s’ new ‘string shop’ will celebrate their grand opening on Sept. 16 (from 11 til 5) at 1677 Springfield Ave., #19 in Maplewood.  It will be such a convenience and pleasure to have a music center in town for string players from professional to beginner.  The shop will rent, sell and repair stringed instruments. Sam Finlay, the manager lives in South Orange and here is a bit of Q&A with the renaissance man himself!
1  were you always interested in music? what instrument(s) do you play?  I started on viola in Junior high, took up string bass in high school & studied it in college, too.  While in school & for a while after, I played bass professionally.
2  what gave you the idea to open the Finlay & Gage stringed instrument store locally?  When I moved here, I was inspired by the level of artistry in the people I met here. When I saw the quality of instruments that the kids had access to and the fact that adults couldn’t get a decent repair without driving a distance, it seemed like I would be doing a disservice if I didn’t offer them something better.
At first, I thought I would just bring instruments from NY, where we have a large store. And then my good friend Matt Smollon, cofounder of SOMa film fest, showed me a location in Maplewood & it seemed like too perfect an opportunity to pass up.


3  what drew you to live in south orange?   My wife, daughter & I came here for backyards, sense of community, & school system. I grew up in the city and was looking for something a little different for my kid. I didn’t want to give up the city altogether, so this seemed like the perfect place.
4  who’s your favorite musician/band/singer? Beethoven, Charles Mingus, The Clash, George Jones, Clutch, Tom Waits, Frank Sinatra, NAS and the Wu Tang Clan

5  if you could have three people at a dinner party who would they be?As a musical instrument nerd, many of these folks might not be familiar to every reader. I’d like to hear what it was like to invent the Violin from Andreas Amati, what it was like to run a busy store in a city like Milan from the young maker Carlo Antonio Testore. Finally, the French inventor-instrument maker-broker Vouillaume seems like he would have been a hoot. I’d like to finish a bottle of wine with him.

6  what does success for Finlay & Gage look like?  I’d like the store to be successful, but more, I’d like for it to work to support a thriving musical community here.

7  what’s the most recent concert/show you’ve attended? I went to see South Orange royalty Mandy Gonzalez in beginning of the summer & she blew my mind. Soon after, I saw Clutch and Primus in Asbury park and they were incredible.

8  what’s your favorite place in the world?  That’s tough, but I would have to say my house. I love to be here with my family. Every time I get home I feel like the luckiest guy in the world.
 
9  what would you like to see more of in SOMA?  I’d like to see more bike lanes, rehearsal spaces & schools in SOMA.
We all like to ride our bikes & bike lanes would make this area a lot less dependent on cars.  Rehearsal spaces for musicians make for excellent art communities – just look at Williamsburg in the early days. And as popular as this area I gets, it would be a shame if we forgot to build enough schools for all the kids who are bound to come with the families moving here.

Q&A with MAPSO bookfest mastermind, Robert Lasner

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photo courtesy or Gregory Burrus

Robert Lasner is bringing the first ever Book Festival to South Orange & Maplewood on June 9th & 10th.  Please find a bit of Q&A and a link to more info at the website link to BOOKFEST website

1  what gave you the idea to do the MAPSO bookfest?

LSD. Actually, I was at Play Day in South Orange in 2015. Walking down South Orange Ave, which was filled with booths, games and people, reminded me of the set-up of a book festival. I have run my own press, Ig Publishing (www.igpub.com) for fifteen years, so I always have books on the mind.

2  were you always a writer and editor?

I started writing poetry when I was in high school, but wasn’t serious about it. I actually had a featured poem in the high school English yearbook my senior year, but to show how you little I cared at the time, the only reason it made it in was because they forced us all to write a poem for the yearbook because they didn’t have enough submissions.  I got serious about writing in college, after reading Yeats, Pound, and especially, TS Eliot. It was Eliot in particular who made me look at language in an entirely different way.  I didn’t get involved in the editorial side until 15 years ago, when I started my press.

3  name your three favorite books

Hard one, as books that were very influential to me when younger, like Tropic of Cancer or Ethan Frome, I haven’t picked up in years, so I don’t know how my older brain would feel about them. There are also the books I publish, which almost feels like shouldn’t count, or should count more, I don’t know. At this moment, I’ll go with Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut, Ask the Dust by John Fante, & Growth of the Soil by Knut Hamsu.
4  if you could have three people at a dinner party who would they be?
I’m not a big fan of wanting to meet this celebrity, or this famous person from history, mainly because, while you might admire their work or accomplishments, you have no idea how interesting they would be to talk to, or how much of their public persona is real. I’ll go with Pete Townshend, because he seems quite chatty in interviews, any one of the Three Stooges except for Joe because he wasn’t funny, and Albert Einstein, not because of his genius, but because he used to do these public events where he would talk on stage to thousands of people, accompanied by a pretty girl, like a magician with an assistant, and one of those pretty girls was my grandmother. Einstein actually wanted her to go on tour with him, but my grandparents were engaged, and my future grandfather didn’t want her to go. A few years ago, before she died–my grandmother lived to be almost 100–she told me, I should have gone on tour with Einstein first, then married your grandfather when I came back.

5  do you read on kindle?

Only manuscripts for my press, mainly so I didn’t have to print them out. For “real” books, nothing beats holding paper in your hands.
6  what are your thoughts on Amazon in three words? Rules Don’t Apply
7  who’s your favorite band/singer?  The Who
8  what’s your favorite place in the world?  A place I’ve never been
9  are there any movies that you liked much better than the book? if so, which one?
Not really. The closest was John Huston’s version of The Dead, which matches the power and intensity of the James Joyce story on which it is based. I read the story first, and was amazed that the way I had imagined it in my head when reading matched the images on the screen. Perfect story, perfect film.

 

The Clarus in downtown Maplewood

clarus
Tom and Jennifer Carlin, Maplewood residents and local chef/restaurateurs will open a restaurant and bar at the Clarus in Maplewood, the mixed-use development rising at the site of the former Post Office.  Tom & Jennifer, the husband-and-wife team behind the Gladstone Tavern in Gladstone, signed a lease for a roughly 4,000 square-foot ground floor space on Friday.  The restaurant and bar will open its doors in the summer and will occupy much of the retail space in the new development joining two other signed tenants, Starbucks and BCB Bank.
The developer, Joe Forgione is negotiating with other potential retail tenants for the remaining space. He said there has been a great deal of interest from a variety of businesses, but wanted to ensure that tenants would not compete directly with other local businesses and would “bring vitality to Maplewood Avenue.” Forgione helped secure the liquor license for the venture and it will need to be approved by the Maplewood Township Committee (which acts as the local Alcoholic Beverage Control.)

All apartment residents on the second and third floors will have access to amenities including a state-of-the-art fitness center, yoga and spin studio, package center, resident lounge, billiards, and a beautifully-designed luxe lobby with double-sided fireplace. A digital, fitness-on-demand personal trainer will also be available 24 hours a day in the virtual fitness room. The building also includes a 20-car parking garage “with an electric car charger, personal storage space for residents, secured bike storage, and elevator service.”

 

West Village Clothing Co., Maplewood

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About a month ago, after a coffee and nibble at Cedar Ridge Cafe, my wife & I wandered over to West Village Clothing Company at nearby 410 Ridgewood Av. in Maplewood.  She purchased some cool boots and I said hello to Stephen Hayden who was presiding there.  I knew him from our Academy Heights neighborhood. Here’s a brief conversation with his wife, the owner, Sarah Hayden about the shop and…
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Also, they’re having a crazy  Bag Sale event this Saturday!

1  when did West Village Clothing Co open?  August of 2016
2  did you run a clothes shop before that?  I have a background in urban planning. When my girls were born, I stayed home. When they started preschool, I worked part time at a local kids consignment store. I truly enjoyed working there & thought it would be great to do on my own. I decided to jump in & bought this business. I fell in love with the homey Ridgewood Row strip of stores. I love talking to the local cast of characters, my regulars and meeting new customers too! An added plus is that I can walk to work from home & my littlest kid is right around the corner at South Mountain Elementary. Win-win! 
3  if you could choose any person in the world to walk into your shop and buy something who would it be & what would they buy? Ina Garten (squee!). I could see her buying a wrap or a pashmina.
4  would you ask them for a quick selfie or photo?  Selfie of course
5  if you didn’t run a clothes shop what would you do?  I’d own a candy store (a la Dylan’s Candy Bar) where I would also resurrect my calligraphy business.
6  if you could own one item of clothing that you don’t currently own, what would it be?Hmmm…. I’m happy with what I have!
7  who’s your favorite band/singer?  shoes
The Smiths/Morrissey
8  if you could choose any 3 people in the world for a dinner party, who would they be?  Morrissey, Paul Rudd and Ina Garten. I think that would be interesting! My husband, Steve, would be there as well 🙂
9  what’s your favorite place in the whole world?
Quebec City during the Winter Carnival! 
 

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