Posts Tagged 'Real Estate'

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.

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

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

DR 2

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.
KITCHEN_view
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.

LIVINGROOM2

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/

 

 

Yet two more Valley St. area projects

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There are two more sites near Valley St. in South Orange that are making their way thru the ‘process.’
NAPA PROJECT (top image) – The first project up to bat at the design meeting in January was the site where NAPA Autoparts and the dilapidated building next door currently sit. The developer wanted to construct 8 units. The Design Board commented on the stucco features of the building façade and asked them to make it a darker color.
The parking lot on the south side of the building will remain.  Thankfully the developer is limiting the project to 3 storeys and they have not tried to get tax abatements either.  The Planning Board at SOPAC will take up the matter and get deeper into the project.
70 SECOND STREET PROJECT (bottom image) – Next project was from developer Henry Szwed of Eclipse Real Estate Partners.  His group were willing to listen to the Design Board and the neighborhood who were tough on the design. They asked him to reorient the building to FACE the street instead of facing inward and up the hill.   The Design Board had some images on their computers and offered those as ideas and along with the residents tried to steer the developer toward making the building fit in with the homes on that street which are small & simple Victorian style homes and not as ‘South Philly’ as above.
The developer is hoping to SELL (not rent) five apartments of 3 bedrooms each.   As the building seeks a variance to be so close to the street, the DB suggested downsizing the building to 4 apartments if it would still be economically feasible.   In the parking lot after the meeting, speaking with neighbors,  the developer picked up on the idea of creating age-friendly apartments and might incorporate that as a way to shrink the streetside unit to be farther from the street.   The DB strongly urged him to rework his design to fit into the streetscape and then return.

Fourth & Valley

 

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I was encouraged at the most recent public SOPAC meeting which discussed plans for the proposed 106-unit development on the Southwest corner of 4th & Valley in South Orange. After many prior meetings over two years in which Village officials and neighbors worked with Meridia, the redeveloper, it appears that area residents are finally feeling that the project will improve the area and deal with potential issues regarding parking and traffic.
Architect James Haley of Haley Donovan made many changes requested by Academy Heights residents, breaking up the facades, setbacks and heights of the building to make it look more varied and organic to the neighborhood. The newest plan also shows a generous amount of public space to be enjoyed by neighbors – something residents said was missing at the Third & Valley development.  Now featured are extra wide (20′) sidewalks – generating more public space and potentially allowing for the widening of Valley Street should traffic studies call for a turning lane or other improvement.

Village President, Sheena Collum said the Village hoped to re-introduce the plan and agreements in January at a Board of Trustees meeting.  The redevelopment plan would then be referred to the Planning Board for approval, then back to the Board of Trustees for a hearing and a vote.

“Third & Valley did not have the robust public process this has had,” said Collum. “Credit the neighborhood for mobilizing.”  Neighborhood residents, David Kraiker, Andrew Kit, Linda Cappaze, Catherine Fisher and myself (and others) got together many times in preparation for our meetings with the town on this project.  Speaking at the SOPAC meeting, Andrew Kit said, “This is the ideal of what a public process should be like.”  We also were vocal about the 320 Valley project that has broken ground nearby.

As the town’s ‘vision plan’ has named the Valley St. corridor as one of the prime areas it’s looking to redevelop (in addition to South Orange Av & Irvington Av), it is very likely there will be interest in other sites nearby in the near future. If you’d like to get involved with contributing to shaping the future of the Valley St. corridor projects, please reach out to me – ken@kenkrasnerhomes.com

 

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Living Trust

guardianship-probate-realtor

Dealing with a loved one’s assets before they pass away may be a good way to avoid many headaches.

A living trust is one way to avoid the length of a drawn out probate proceeding and the unwanted publicity that may result from dealing with a loved one’s assets prior to death. There are advantages and disadvantages.

Find out if a living trust is a good way for you to deal with family assets. Below is a good article about living trusts and avoiding probate.

Link to Living Trust article

New in West Orange

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From the Edison battery factory and new high-end stores opening up on Main Street to Essex Green Shopping Center additions such as LA Fitness and a new Cambria Suites hotel opening soon behind the Courtyard Marriot, it appears that the town’s commercial areas are beginning to perk up.

Also opening this past year is the City Workshop Men’s Supply Company on Main St, and a new high-end bakery and chocolatier will soon be opening on Main Street along with the Diamond Cuts Salon & Spa on Prospect Avenue.  A new diner will be moving in where the old Eagle Rock Diner used to be.

This growth in business interest in West Orange is helping to strengthen the township’s residential real estate market. “Destination downtowns drive housing values in towns,” Mayor Parisi said. “As our downtown improves, every owner of real estate in West Orange will have more equity.”

The greater demand for West Orange residential real estate is reflected by the fact that a much higher percentage of homes under contract in the last year ended up closing, as opposed to the prior 12-month periods.

Average DOM (days on market) are down from approximately 120 days (5 years ago) to 72 days.  Many are also going over list.

Average home values are also up across all neighborhoods, especially in the Gregory section which has an easy shuttle to the South Orange and Orange train stations and is attractive for people priced out of South Orange and Maplewood or just looking for more for their mone

The West Orange Downtown Alliance is also playing a part by assisting owners with the permit process, and provides grants to help them get their facade in place.

 

link to w.o. downtown alliance

 


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