Posted by & filed under Buying, Selling.

Property values in Bergen County are definitely on the rise.  We’re through the 1st quarter of the year and New Jersey MLS residential figures are all positive comparing 2017 to 2016.

Bergen County had 3% more closings with an average sales price that’s 5% higher.  Median prices rose 2% and it took 1 week less to get a home sold.

Under contract figures point to an even stronger year ahead. Demand certainly has grown with 5% more homes going under contract.  This means more closings for 2016.

Property values in Bergen County are doing better this year with solid price appreciation, quicker sales and stronger demand.

It’s way too early to track average and median pricing for individual towns.  We use under contract figures to show us what’s happening.  Inventory issues have affected this.

For example, Fort Lee shows 35% fewer homes under contract.  However this past Sunday a Weichert agent held an open house at a Fort Lee home where 100 people came.  They were lined up outside waiting to get in.  So why 35% fewer homes under contract?  Lack of inventory.

Same situation with Bergenfield.  Bergenfield homes are flying – 1.5 month absorption rate.  That is a blistering pace.  Even so, there are 11% fewer under contract transactions.  Again, lack of inventory.  There just aren’t enough homes to meet the demand.

While under contract figures can be useful, the lack of inventory is so severe that you can’t always rely on this.

Tenafly, where the market is more balanced, has a tremendous 25% increase in the number of homes going under contract.  Neighboring Cresskill is up 22% and Dumont is up 2

This is not going to get better.  For the coming years we will continue to see a lack of inventory and that puts pressure on prices. Look at the Home Price Expectation Survey results for appreciation over the next 5 years.  Bulls see it 26.7% higher, bears 6.3% and all projections at 19.4%.

The 1st quarter of 2017 tells us that this will be a terrific year for property values in Bergen County and the reasons for it project things to continue for years to come.

 

 

 

Golf Is In Full Swing In Bergen County

Posted by & filed under Bergen County LIfe.

Golf is in full swing in Bergen County.  Once you get to mid March, Bergen County opens it’s 5 golf courses to the public – weather permitting of course.

March 13th was the official opening date but the weather hasn’t been cooperating.  Once we get past this rainy week all courses should be playable.  Call 201-336-7280 to get the daily status and course conditions.

Our 5 public golf courses are no more than a 15-20 drive away from any Bergen County home. They are Darlington in Mahwah, Orchard Hills in Paramus, Overpeck in Teaneck , Rockleigh near Northvale in Rockleigh, and Valley Brook in River Vale.

Every course except Orchard Hills is 18 holes.  Rockleigh has both an 18 and 9 hole course designed so both courses can be played simultaneously.

During the golf season there are a variety of tournaments from Parent/Child to Scrambles to Seniors.  These tournaments are a lot of fun and very popular.

The Pioneer Program is an excellent opportunity for young golfers from 8 to 18.   There are 3 separate programs for junior golfers from teaching them the game of golf to competitive play with their own tournaments.

Children under 12 can play any course after 4 pm with an adult once they’ve earned a Pioneer Tour Card.  Those who haven’t are restricted to Rockleigh’s 9 hole course.

Golf is in full swing for children with autism too. AllPar Golf  is a wonderful, carefully designed program to meet the needs of autistic children.  Call Bergenfield School’s Special Services Office at 201-385-3600 for more information.

Once you register you can book your tee times online.  You need to bring cash.  The system can’t handle credit cards.

Bergen County has every reason to be proud of it’s beautiful and challenging public golf courses.  Golf is huge here and the County estimates 90,000 of us play golf.  That’s nearly 10% of us.  Commercial driving ranges are often filled with duffers practicing before they go out on the links. Many are set up for year round play too.

Golf is in full swing in Bergen County adding a wonderful fabric to life here.

 

 

 

 

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Rockleigh in Rockleigh near Northvale

Posted by & filed under Buying, Selling.

Moving into Bergen County or changing towns?  Get there by mid August if you have children and to make your life easier.

Most people want to close at the end of the month and Friday is the most popular day of the week.  During summer it seems everyone wants to move in at the end of August.

This can become quite a problem for you.  The end of the month and Fridays in particular get crazy.  When you’re talking about late August, it’s even worse.

There are only so many hours in a day.  Banks can handle only so many closings in a day.  If everyone wants to buy their home at the same time it’s simply not possible.

I bet you’ve heard horror stories about closings delayed last minute by the bank.  I’ll also bet you’ve heard how everyone waited and waited for the bank to clear the loan to close.

Evil bank?  Nope.  Impossible situation.

One day I’ll have my wish – home buyers and sellers will be told that closing on a Friday at the end of a month is not always assured.  It’s a whole lot safer to avoid end of month Friday closings.

I understand why you want to close then – its expensive to pay rent and a mortgage at the same time.  Some folks do want an overlap to spruce up their new home.  If you don’t, consider moderating things even a little bit.  You will be much safer.  Imagine what it will cost you to stay in a motel for 1 week with your things in storage.

 Do you have school aged children?  Then closing earlier is extremely important.

Registering a child for school is quite a project.  It takes a lot of documentation from you and it takes a school more than a few days.  If you want your child to start school on the first day of school in September you can’t wait past mid August.

If you’re moving into Bergen County or changing towns, get there by mid August.

Posted by & filed under Buying.

Get your home inspector now and you’ll be so glad you did. Unless, of course, you enjoy being stressed out while buying your home.

Here’s what usually happens:  Attorney Review concludes and your lawyer gives you a call.  He explains that it’s time to do the home inspection.  He also says that you have 10 days to get your home inspection done.

OMG! 10 days??? is what goes through your mind.  You call your real estate agent in a near panic telling the agent A – How can I do this in only 10 days? and B – Do you know any good home inspectors?  Your agent gives you some names and insists that you get it scheduled for the upcoming weekend.

Pressure, pressure, pressure.  Is this any way to buy a house?  Do you need this kind of stress?  I don’t think so.  The solution is to get a home inspector and research home inspections now.

Do you have friends in the area who own a home?  Ask them about their home inspector.  It’s better if they’ve been in the home a while – not just moved in.  Problems missed don’t always show up the first week.

Ask your attorney.  Attorney’s don’t recommend inspectors but might know who’s not doing the best job because they see hundreds of inspection reports every year.

Check to see if the inspector is currently licensed.  NJ has a verification website for all licensees.  Under Profession Type go to Home Inspector and then fill in the inspector’s name.

Check to see if the inspector is a member of The American Society of Home Inspectors, aka ASHI.  Go to this website where you’ll also find helpful information.

You should also go to the National Association of Realtors website for consumers called House Logic  They have a terrific article there on home inspections and tons of excellent tips and information.  

Be prepared as much as you can so the home buying process is fun and as stress free as possible.  This is the theme of all my articles on buying a home.  Get a home inspector and start learning about inspections before you find your home.  That’s the right way to go.

Posted by & filed under Buying, Selling.

The best time to list your home and the best time to buy a home are really the same – it should always be the best time for you.

The National Association of Realtors has tracked this for decades.  The #1 answer is “Because it was the right time.”  There is no need to turn yourself inside out because you want to move.

The NAR also tracks when homes go on the market; for 2016 here is what they found:

The most popular months for listing are April followed by March, May, June and July.

The top 10 listing dates in 2016 are:  April 1st, April 15th, March 1st, June 1st, April 8th, April 14th, April 28th, March 31st, June 3 and April 22nd.

Clearly homeowners feel that the best time to list your home is spring.  Winter is over and flowers are blooming.  Most buyers want to move during summer.  It’s either due to school schedules or because it’s easier to take time off then.  They look during spring so they can schedule a summer closing.  It sure seems that the best time to list your home and the best time to buy a home is spring.

There are positives and negatives to this.  Sellers do have more buyers looking but they also have more homes to compete against.  Buyers have more homes to look at but face much stiffer competition.

What if you want to stay this summer and move at the end of the year?  What is your company transfers you in the middle of winter?  That’s OK too.  Homes are sold every day of the year.  The fall market can be just as strong and with less competition, the 1st quarter can be very advantageous.

The best time to list your home and the best time to buy a home does seem to be spring strategically.  However, strategy doesn’t matter if that’s the worst time for you.  A great real estate agent will get you excellent results any day of the year.

Posted by & filed under Buying.

You need a lawyer to buy a house

You need an attorney to buy a home in Bergen County.  New Jersey requires licensed real estate agents to use the NJ State Contract for residential transactions.  If you use a contract, you need a lawyer.

Residential properties are single family homes, condominiums, 1-4 family homes and land zoned for single family use.  No matter which agent or which company, it’s the same NJ sanctioned contract.

You make an offer on this form; when the seller signs it, it becomes a legal contract to buy the house. The agents email a copy to buyer and seller attorneys right away to begin their review.  This process is called Attorney Review.

Attorney Review

Attorney Review takes 1 week usually and when concluded, gives you a firm binding contract of sale on the house.  During Attorney Review both lawyers work with their clients to adjust the original contract to fit their specific transaction.

Real estate agents are not attorneys; we can’t help you with this.  This is why you need an attorney to buy a home.  Only your attorney can make sure that the contract protects your interests.

Your lawyer is so very important. There is no substitute for legal representation.

Attorneys negotiate inspection issues.  I’ll help too but only your lawyer can make sure any concession negotiated is part of the contract.

Lawyers also inspect the title search.  Sometimes title errors are missed.  You need an attorney who carefully reviews the title work so you are fully protected.  And, of course, attorneys prepare for and do the closing.

The right attorney primarily practices residential real estate – commercial is another world.  Normally you don’t meet face to face until the closing so you need great communication over the phone.  This is a must.  Here’s something else:  What an attorney charges has nothing to do with the ability to represent you.

No doubt about it.  You need an attorney to buy a home in Bergen County.

Have questions, want to go over this with me?  Contact me for help.

 

 

Posted by & filed under Bergen County LIfe, Buying, Homeowner Tips.

Bergen County has a great website that you will love.  It has a tremendous amount of information on what seems to be an endless number of topics.  You will be quite impressed with how comprehensive the site is.

Many people who own a Bergen County home are familiar with their own town’s website.  They’re much less familiar with the county website and a great number don’t even know it exists.

I always make sure my clients know about these websites.  Buyers especially love them.  If you haven’t checked out your town’s website, you really should.

Bergen County’s  site is gorgeous and an outstanding resource.  From the home page to deeper into it, you’ll find so much information on any topic you can imagine.

The website focuses on business development and the process for bidding on County projects.  I found this to be particularly impressive. Its under Work With Bergen County

Of course there’s the list of Departments and Services but even here you’ll be impressed with an amazing list of everything Bergen County has to offer.  The About Bergen County section does have what you’d expect – history, news, photos, demographics – but also a strong emphasis on family oriented activities.

Speaking of demographics, this section is awesome.  You will find an entire section on economic data .in addition to expected census figures.

There is no doubt that Bergen County has a great website  You will appreciate it more and more as the years go by.  Whether you need the help of a department or service, want information or are looking for a fun family event, this will be your go to place for everything the county has to offer.

It doesn’t matter if you live here already or are just thinking of moving in.  Bergen County’s website is one you can’t afford to miss.

Posted by & filed under Buying, Selling.

Whether you’re buying a house or selling a house title work is important. Ordering it late can hurt both home buyer and homeowner.  Unfortunately title is often ordered near a closing date.

Title work begins with a title search.  A title search verifies that the seller actually owns the house and finds liens on the house.  The buyer’s attorney orders the search to make sure the house is free and clear of all liens at closing.

Why is it a problem to order the title search late?  Because if a problem is discovered, there may not be enough time to fix it by the scheduled closing date.  This can create a horrible situation for everyone.

Currently there’s a major delay in a closing.  It’s an estate sale (seller is deceased) so no one knew the home was refinanced twice.  Both refi loans showed up as liens although paid in full because the banks didn’t record them properly.  One was cleared up in a few days but the other is a mess.  So far the closing is delayed nearly one month.

The buyer needs to move in – they’re nearly at the end of their lease with a new tenant coming in.  The heir is using the proceeds to buy the house of his dreams.  The buyer may end up in a hotel paying storage on her things and the seller  may lose the house he loves.

The attorney ordered title late to be certain the transaction will get to closing.  I feel this is an archaic procedure.  Title searches cost a few hundred dollars; this delay will cost both sides thousands.

It is true.  Whether you’re buying a house or selling a house, title work is important.  Ordering it late can create havoc. Everything in life is a risk.  Make sure your attorney orders title early on to avoid trouble like this.

Posted by & filed under Bergen County LIfe.

Unwanted guests are coming to Bergen County.  Winter is almost over.  In a few weeks we’ll be turning the clocks forward and soon after spring officially starts.  The 2017 winter has been quite mild; one of the warmest I’ve experienced.  Warm winters, however, bring unwanted guests – ticks.

This is not isolated to Bergen County – the entire eastern Mid-Atlantic region has had a mild winter.  A few semi major storms have kept our snowfall count near normal but a long period of freezing temperatures day after day as you’d expect never happened.  The result is a huge increase in the tick population.

I enjoy taking our dog, Mickey, to local parks for long walks.  It’s fun and good for both of us.  Last year in very early spring while it was still cold outside, I came home from one of those walks and was shocked to find a tick in Mickey’s fur .  I didn’t expect to worry about ticks for at least another month.

Dr. Suss of Bergen Veterinary Hospital saw Mickey right away and removed every tick.  She explained that because of the mild winter we were having (this was 2016) the tick population had increased tremendously.  Dr. Suss said that she advises all cat and dog owners to maintain flea and tick protection year round.

Dr. Suss made the point that rabbits as well as deer carry ticks.  Rabbits didn’t leave for the winter because it hasn’t been very cold  More rabbits mean more ticks she explained.

Mickey and I see deer and rabbits all the time when walking in Tenafly and Englewood. There are so many of them around here.  I took this picture of a deer across the street from my home.

2017 is another mild winter that will bring those unwanted guests, ticks, to Bergen County.  I know one thing – I’m prepared this year and you should be too.

If you have a child, call your pediatrician.  If you have a dog or cat, call your vet.  Take proper precautions so you don’t have ticks as unwanted guests in 2017.

Posted by & filed under Buying.

Do you know how to buy a house in Bergen County? If you don’t, you could find the home buying process a nightmare.  Even if you own a home now, the way you bought yours years ago is not the way it’s done today.

Here’s a brief review –

 

  • You find the home you want
  • You make an offer on the NJ State mandated contract with a pre-approval
  • Negotiations come next – let’s say you come to an agreement
  • The offer is revised to reflect the agreement and sent to the seller
  • The seller signs the offer so it is now a contract for sale
  • This contract is scanned and emailed to you and your attorney
  • Attorney Review is next.  As a result, a firm, binding contract is created.
  • Next comes the home inspection
  • Any issues found are often negotiated with the seller.
  • If you come to agreement on inspection issues, you move forward.  If not, the contract is cancelled.
  • Very often this is when the first part of the down payment is sent to the seller’s attorney
  • The mortgage is processed
  • Your attorney will order the title, survey, prepare the closing document.
  • The closing document document is sent to you at least 3 days before closing
  • You do a walk through inspection on the way to closing (sometimes 1 week earlier too)
  • Now you close on your new home in your attorney’s office.

I’ll fill in more details in future articles but this is basically how to buy a house in Bergen County.  You’ll need an attorney – that’s for a future article too.  Learning the home buying process early on puts you in control because you will know what you’re doing.  A lot of unnecessary stress is eliminated as a result.  It’s not hard to do this – I usually go over the 13 page contract with my customers in barely 30 minutes.

Have questions, want to go over this with me?  Contact me for help.