Posted by & filed under Buying, Selling.

NJMLS

New Jersey MLS

2 Months In & Real Estate Is Rocking! is the news of the day.

I always say it because I believe it – nothing is stronger than the truth.  The truth doesn’t come from Zillow or Trulia.  It comes from your local MLS system because that’s where accurate data and information exists for you.

The local MLS system for Bergen County homes is the New Jersey MLS.  The NJMLS has many statistical reports and one of my favorites is the Comparison Report.  This report compares year to year data which I feel is very valuable.  So what is it telling us now?

Only 2 months into the year, it’s telling us a lot.  For the first 2 months of 2016 we have a very impressive 19% increase in the number of homes going under contract.  County wide we have 1,776 homes going under contract this year as opposed to 1,497 last year for an increase of 279 units or 19%.   Moving Up Graph

What is Under Contract or UC status?  A house has accepted an offer and completed the Attorney Review process which means there is now a firm, binding contract.  Usually this takes about 7-14 calendar days.

Because of the time it takes to get a home under contract, some January units began in December.  I’d say that all of February UC’s originated this year so the difference between January and February is very significant:  51 more in January for +7% but 228 more in February for +29%.

Next month we’ll have this through March and I expect things to be just as strong.  What I’m seeing (especially since mid January) is a flood of buyers at open houses, bidding wars at all price levels and offers at or exceeding the listing price.

Real estate is definitely rocking in Bergen County.  All projections for a very strong market were right on target.  Great news if you’re selling a home; tough news if you’re buying a home.

So we are 2 months in & real estate is rocking!

 

Posted by & filed under Buying.

TRID mortgage review

TRID changes home buying

TRID mortgage changes for home buyers are profound and positive.  It’s important for you to understand this.

WHAT IS TRID?  A new way to process mortgages; as a Federal law it applies to all US home mortgages.

WHEN DID THIS HAPPEN?  It went into effect for all mortgages applied for on October 3rd, 2015 or later.

WHY IS THIS DIFFERENT?  New forms, process and time requirements.

  1.  Forms – There are only 2, the Loan Estimate & Closing Disclosure, which are user friendly.
  2.  Process – Streamlined and transparent now.
  3. Time Requirements – Must be sent with enough time to review them.
TRID mortgage

Mortgage docs were impossible to read

While buyers had mortgage documents before, they were difficult to understand.  Furthermore buyers never saw closing documents until signing them at the closing.

TRID requires that the Loan Estimate is sent to you no later than 3 days after application.  In addition, you must receive the Closing Disclosure no less than 3 days before closing.  Both are now easy to read.

TRID allows waiting for the mortgage commitment to order title, survey etc.  Before buyers were forced to do this right away to tie them to the purchase.  Discuss this with your attorney because waiting might delay your closing.

TRID mortgage fraudOutrageous fees were charged to borrowers by horrible mortgage brokers who knew the buyer could not qualify for the loan.  I can tell you this – I have always refused to sell a home to anyone who does not use a good, ethical bank.  We will discuss shopping for a loan in another article.

 

A POTENTIAL CLOSING PROBLEM

A safeguard to protect you in buying a home can actually backfire and cause a last minute delay.

happy home buyers

TRID is a better way to buy a home

TRID requires an automatic 3 day delay in closing if there are any changes within 3 days of the scheduled closing. Changes are a rise in the rate of 1/8 pt. or more, a change in the type of loan or adding a pre-payment penalty.  It can also be a credit to the buyer for a last minute problem such as a missing appliance, damage caused by movers etc.  As a result, buyers will now do 2 walk through inspections to make sure everything is on track.

TRID mortgage changes for home buyers are wonderful because it protects them and makes the entire process much more transparent.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted by & filed under Buying, Selling.

Champagne bottleNow that we’ve closed the door on 2015, the full year’s data is available in the New Jersey MLS and I’ll begin a series of articles on how the Bergen County housing market performed.  Because there are a lot of closings at the end of the year and not all listing agents report their house sales in a timely manner to be frank, I like to wait a little while before focusing in on individual towns but here’s what we have so far for Bergen County as a whole –house money

2015 had 11% more single family home sales.  In 2014 there were 5,568 and in 2015 there were 608 more for a total of 6,176.  The time it took to do this decreased slightly by about 6 days so there’s nothing dramatic there.

What may surprise you is the fact that county wide the figures were flat.  The average sales price was $574,450 for a 0% change.  The average median price was $456,317 for a 2% rise.  However, a lot of business happened.  We had just over $3.5 billion worth of single family house sales last year.

So what does this mean?  In one word – stability.  Overall homes for sale in Bergen County performed well.  They made it to closing efficiently with 72 days on the market and didn’t lose any ground in value.  This is very positive.  A healthy and strong real estate market does not lose ground; it house-soldmoves forward in small increments after a recession once it bounces back.

The first year or two after a recession ends will see aggressive performance but you want that to level off and maintain a moderate appreciation rate that holds.  This is precisely what’s happening.

As we look at individual towns, you’ll see some that did better than others and some that did worse.  But the trend is a stable, strong real estate market and that’s good for both home buyers and home sellers.

 

 

Posted by & filed under Bergen County LIfe, Buying.

Korean Folk Dancers

Korean fan dancers

When you’re out looking at homes for sale in Englewood, you’re focused on house hunting.  You’re trying to find a house that will become a home for you. Sounds about right, doesn’t it?

Hispanic Heritage Festival

Hispanic culture is strong

You should also be looking at what the City of Englewood has to offer you.  There’s no better place to start than downtown and the Shoprite Supermarket.

Centrally located, the Shoprite is a  kaleidoscope of cultures that defines Englewood.  It’s easy living here to take it for granted – you’re surrounded by diversity.  But, the Shoprite is truly an amazing display of different cultures.

Just walk down any aisle.  You may be surprised to find the following foods – Caribbean/Jamaican, Hispanic, Indian, Korean, Kosher and Southern US.  There’s also a Halal meat section.

In the deli are all the staples you’d expect plus Cuban style sandwiches, French Quiches and Irish Shepard’s Pie. Next door in the baked goods Kwanzaa2section you’ll find Naan bread (Indian) and Croissants (French) as well as Kosher Cheese Cake and Challah.

1st Pres Xmas

Many Christian churches of all denominations

You’ll also hear the following languages being spoken – English, Spanish, Hebrew, Farsi, French, German, Patois, Arabic, Tagalog, Chinese, Korean and Ashanti.

In addition to the Shoprite, there’s a large Korean H-Mart supermarket and Jerry’s of Englewood – an Italian grocery store that has simply amazing homemade Italian specialties.

Take a 5 minute walk downtown.  The diversity of Englewood will be all around you.

Consider the variety of restaurants there: Chinese, Caribbean, Colombian, French, Greek, Israeli, Italian, Jamaican, Japanese, Korean, Kosher, Lebanese, Mexican, Puerto Rican, Syrian, Spanish, Thai and Turkish.

There’s also your basics –  a bagel store, local delis, an American steakhouse, a diner and pizza parlor.

This kaleidoscope of cultures creates an ambience and energy that is uniquely Englewood.  People enjoyMuslim symbol each other’s backgrounds and celebrate each other’s festivals together.

Whether your family traces it’s roots back to the 1600’s or you’re a newcomer, the City of Englewood will embrace you.  Simply put – this is a very cool town!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted by & filed under Homeowner Tips.

icicles on gutter

Overflowing with ice

Have a home in Bergen County?  If so then winter and freezing temperatures are part of your year.  It’s essential to get your house ready for the effects of winter weather. With the proper preparation, your home will do just fine.  Here’s a maintenance tip about gutters:

Take advantage of the below freezing weather we still have and get your gutters cleaned now if you haven’t done so already.  After all, winter is only a few weeks away; snow and ice will be here before you know it.

Most of us don’t realize how much damage clogged gutters can do to a house.  Let’s face it, they aren’t the most glamorous part of anyone’s home but they’re one of the most important.

Gutters keep water away from your home which is critical to maintaining the structure.  Water is the most damaging element outside of fire for a house.  When gutters become clogged with leaves and grit, the water they carry gets inside the house; during the winter it freezes and damage becomes severe.

All sorts of havoc occurs when water gets inside your exterior walls – mold, termites and leaks that get into your foundation,  When frozen these clogged systems are the perfect recipe for ice dams which seriously damage your roof and cause leaks inside your home from the ceiling.

Frozen Gutter Brick Wall

About to damage the roof

Having a leaf guard system doesn’t eliminate the need for cleaning gutters either.  While these systems help to keep out leaves, they don’t stop a grit build up which can easily clog things up.

Getting your gutters cleaned is one of the least expensive maintenance items and, if you know how, you can do this yourself.  I’m not that adventurous so I always hired someone to do it.  If you’re in Bergen County and need a recommendation, just let me know.

Take advantage of our milder temperatures this week, get your gutters cleaned and avoid thousands in repair bills.

Posted by & filed under Bergen County LIfe.

Vote buttonsTomorrow is Election Day in New Jersey and while every year it’s important to vote, tomorrow something is happening that hasn’t in 16 years – all 80 seats in the New Jersey State Assembly is up for election.  The State Assembly is the lower house of the New Jersey State Legislature.  This is a very big deal.

So whether or not you live in Bergen County, you’ll be voting for State Assembly seats along with your local municipal positions and in some cases Board of Education seats as well.

Over the past few years, more and more Bergen County towns have moved their Board of Ed elections to the general election in November.  This has saved towns substantial sums because it’s clearly less expensive to run one election than two.

There’s also the fact that voter turnout for Board of Ed elections is notoriously low.  The hope is that more people will participate in Board of Education elections by having them together with the regular political elections.  I’m not really sure how more informed and interested people have become in who’s running for the Board of Ed but having it all on one day does save a town money.

If you’re not sure where to go to vote, just call up your local town clerk.  Don’t worry if you end up at the wrong spot – there are always plenty of people there to help you.

Voting is more than a right – it’s a privilege in our free society.  Voting polls open tomorrow at 6 am and close at 8 pm.  That’s enough time for everyone to get there.  So be a good citizen and cast your ballot tomorrow.  Every vote does count!

Posted by & filed under Buying.

TRID tila-picture

It’s Oct 3rd – The TRID mortgage begins and how you buy a home with a mortgage is forever changed.

How mortgages are processed changes today.  And the change is tremendous.  New forms, procedures and time constraints – closing on a home is now a different world for both buyer and seller.

Born out of the sub prime mortgage meltdown that was the catalyst for the recession, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has demanded change.   It has integrated the Truth in Lending Act and the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act.  As a result, we have a completely streamlined and transparent system. Added in are components from the Dodd Frank Bill as well.

The result is a home loan process that is pro consumer and so much easier for a mortgage borrower to understand. I think this is terrific but I do have some reservations as well.    CFPB Logo

TRID has two new forms that replace the Good Faith Estimate and HUD-1 Closing Statement: It replaces their 4 forms with just 2 -The Loan Estimate and Closing Disclosure.  Happily both are written in language you can understand.

The Loan Estimate must be sent to a borrower 3 business days after application.  Home buyers didn’t often receive a copy of the documents they signed previously.  Hence this new rule.

The Closing Disclosure replaces what was known as the HUD-1.  This must be received no less than 3 business days before closing.  AND (here’s the kicker) if there are any changes within those 3 business days, the closing must be delayed 3 more business days.

This can create a last minute delay because if there is any change within that 3 day period, the closing must be pushed back 3 days.  CFPB says that all home buyers must have the closing document at least 3 full days before closing.  While this might create a delay, it’s also good.

Having so much time to go over these documents means you are able to review them carefully before you buy the house.  I’ll post more articles to explain TRID further but know this – TRID is a very positive change for both home buyers and home sellers.

Posted by & filed under Homeowner Tips.

water spigotHoles are all over the outside of your house.  No one thinks about this but if you own a Bergen County home you should.

Holes are punched through the exterior of your home for all sorts of reasons that most of us never realize.  The water spigot you connected to your hose, the electrical lines bringing power, the cable lines connecting you to the internet, your central air compressor – every one of these is a hole in your home’s exterior.

Every hole is an opening and every opening can leak or let in anything from rain water that destroys your electrical panel box to mice.

In my time as a real estate agent I have seen home inspectors take the cover off an electrical panel box that looked perfectly fine from the outside.  Once the cover was off we saw rust all over the inside.  The power supply line coming into the house not brought electricity but rain water droplets too.

outside supply linesThat homeowner had to spend nearly $2,000 to fix what less than $2 worth of exterior sealant would have prevented.

Water can also, over time, create a mold issue and invite in termites (who love damp wood).  Over time unsealed openings can deteriorate to a point where they allow unwelcome pests including mice.

Here’s something else too – those electrical lines along the side of your house.  Are they secure?  Is the outside cover (actually important insulation) intact?  If not that must be fixed ASAP.

So every fall inspect your exterior to make sure all openings are sealed tight and all supply lines are in good shape before freezing temperatures come.  You can certainly do this yourself or you can hire a handyman.me

Posted by & filed under Bergen County LIfe.

Apple orchardThere are so many things to do in the fall – it’s a beautiful time of year in Bergen County.  When my son was little, we always went apple picking.  It was a family tradition that we always looked forward to every year.

Have you ever gone apple picking?  If not, you have to do this at least once in your life.  There is simply nothing that equals the taste of a freshly picked apple right off the tree.  No matter which gourmet grocer you go to, it’s at best a faint shadow of the delicious taste you get with a freshly picked apple.

No matter where you live in Bergen County whether it’s Ridgewood, Tenafly, Paramus or Fort Lee, you’re within 1 hour of an apple orchard.  If you wish to drive further out and make a day of it, that’s another option too.

Dating back to the 1600’s but really getting into the retail business in the 1970’s is Demarest Farms  in Hillsdale.  An institution here for generations of families, you can pick apples, pumpkins and peaches.  Their home made goods are famous and you can’t beat those pies.  If you have children. this is the place to go in Bergen County.

A bit further out in the Hudson Valley of New York is Masker’s Orchards  This isn’t all that far away – less than 1 hour from Paramus.  apple hay ride

In Chester New Jersey (roughly 1 hour away) is Riamede Farm with over 30 varieties of apples.  Did you know there were so many to choose from?  I sure didn’t until I got there.  There’s also another choice in Chester that’s been in business over 100 years –Apple_picking Alstede Farms  

All of these are great places to visit and have a wonderful fall day.  If you have children, they absolutely love this.  So get out in the fresh air, pick some apples, have a hay ride and bring home fresh apple cider and home made donuts and pies too!

 

Posted by & filed under Homeowner Tips.

crabgrass pic There is nothing prettier than a thick green lawn around your house.  For many Bergen County homeowners it’s also a sense of pride.  A lawn can also be a source of extreme frustration.

You work hard, keep it watered, mow it regularly and it looks great until you get into the worst part of the summer for grass – those scorching  hot days in July and August.  That’s when trouble really begins and your lovely green lawn morphs into a monster to deal with.

Almost overnight it seems there’s crabgrass everywhere.  The truth is that it was there all the time and once you see it, it’s really too late to get rid of it.

Crabgrass plants spew millions of seeds.  No matter what you do, it’s impossible to eliminate all of them.  Crabgrass seeds are always in the ground.  The best way to stop crabgrass is early in the spring with a preemergent treatment.  Pesticides are often used but you can fight crabgrass with natural products too.

crabgrass  spray

Very often lawns are mowed too low.  Even if things were fine in the spring, once it gets hot you must raise your lawn mower blade.  Over watering or watering your lawn at the wrong time of day always creates havoc.

Crabgrass and other problems happen when grass is weak and vulnerable.  The bottom line is that if you use the right fertilizer and preemergent weed controls, water correctly and don’t mow too low you will have a beautiful, thick and healthy green lawn.

When I bought a Tenafly home, the lawn and shrubs were a mess.  With the help of local professionals we were able to create gorgeous landscaped grounds.  Wcrabgrass baking sodahether you’re in Tenafly, Bergenfield, Teaneck, Englewood or anywhere in Bergen County, you can have a gorgeous lawn too!