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cheap contractors don't workCheap contractors don’t work.  Period.  You do get what you pay for.

Contractor Bids

Owning a home is like owning a car.  You have to take care of it.  When it’s time to do major work, it’s smart to get several bids.  However it’s almost always wrong to use the guy who’s so much cheaper.

Let’s say you need a new roof.  Your bid requests a price for 25 year rated shingles. Five contractors come and send in bids for the job.  What happens is surprising.  One bid is ridiculously high, three are pretty close and one is so much cheaper.

How do you make sense of this?  The guys in the middle are around $6,000.  There’s also a $7,100 and a $4,950.  That’s quite a spread.  You throw out the highest and talk to the lowest.  The lowest tells you that he’s cheaper because his overhead is less.  He’s a small business, not like the others with their shiny trucks and answering services.

It sounds logical, the price is a huge savings and he’s charming.  As a result, you choose the lowest bid.

Problems Surface

He starts the job and there’s debris all over your yard.  Nails, parts of the shingles he’s removing, etc.  Don’t worry, he says, I’ll rake the lawn when I’m done.  You begin to worry.  There’s a dumpster on the driveway to handle the debris so why is it all over your yard?  Next comes the Building Inspector.

Oops!  No permit.  Work stops while you get a permit.  There goes 2 weeks.  You get your permit and now you’re on the phone begging your contractor to come back and finish the job.  One month or so later he shows up, does 1/2 day’s work and vanishes.  Finally 3-4 months later it’s all done with a gift left behind.  Debris is decorating your lawn.

The dumpster leaves giving you another present.  Because there were no wood blocks under the dumpster’s feet, you now have 4 depressions on your driveway.  I’m sure you can imagine how that works out in northern NJ with our freeze and thaw cycle.  Damaging a driveway is one of the gifts you get from Mr. Cheap.

Over the course of the next few years your roof gives you a lot to talk about.  During a fall hurricane like storm, many shingles blow off or are disturbed.  Bad installation.  The new gutters and leaders don’t work right.  Gutters are not angled correctly and leaders aren’t extended.  As a result you get ice dams in winter and a damp basement.

This is not an exaggeration.  Allow me to give you a siding example.

Home Inspectors

Please don’t get I Can Pass Anything Inspections.  You know, the guy who charges less and promises to not take too much of your time………………

While I really don’t know specific inspector fees, I do know that good ones aren’t cheap.  I have an offer on a house in Glen Rock NJ.  We do the home inspection and the vinyl siding which looks good to me flunks.  I’m a great real estate agent but I’m not a home inspector or a contractor.  As a result, I can be surprised at times and I sure was this time.

A Siding Nightmare in Glen Rock NJ

Craig Sharf is a terrific home inspector.   He is more than worth whatever he charges in my opinion.  Craig failed the home’s siding.  As a result, I called in an excellent siding contractor, Pascack Siding Company.  What Mark from Pascack Siding discovered was stunning.

He confirmed Craig’s report and added more.  Four different siding materials were used including aluminum on the 2nd floor (where it’s hard to see from the ground).  The other 3 are vinyl but of different weights.  Workmanship is as Craig Sharf found – amateurish in nature.

Apparently siding left over from 4 different jobs which all looked the same was used.  As a result, siding material cost was zero.  Pretty slick but also pretty awful.

This can’t be repaired according to Mark.  The cost to remove the existing mess and re-side this colonial home is around $17,000.  Quite a shock to both buyer and seller.

Cheap Contractors Don’t Work

Cheap contractors don’t work.  As they say, when something is too good to be true, it isn’t  I tell everyone to save even a small amount every month for repairs.  Put it in a separate savings account.  You’ll be so glad you did when you need a major repair.  Consider getting a home warranty.  That mitigates your exposure to many high cost repairs.  Want information on a home warranty?  Ask me to email you a brochure.

Need help finding good contractors? Tell me what you need.

 

 

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bergen county homesBergen County homes bounced back in spite of an onslaught of never before seen obstacles.  While we’re still down from last year we are far from out.

Obstacles Against The Market

Because we had to face unprecedented obstacles against the market, it took a little while to adjust.  Since the lock down began in the middle of  March, real estate like all of us had to figure it out.

The lock down itself made everyone stop in their tracks.  It took 1-2 weeks to figure it all out in order to continue.  A large number of sellers took their homes off the market.  As a result, our “spring market” had an extraordinarily weak inventory.  Banks found themselves having to increase requirements for a mortgage because investors worried about whether buyers would lose their jobs in the future.  Buyers became uncertain about a purchase for the same reason.  Additionally we had a stock market crash wiping out many buyer down payments and/or rattling confidence.

The Positives That Made A Difference

Because shattering change initially stuns you, it takes time to adjust.  However Bergen County real estate has adjusted.Backyard

Technology allows virtual tours of homes; in the house viewings use masks, disposable gloves and booties.  Closings are done virtually as well.  While home inspections require the inspector to go inside, appraisers no longer visit a home.  As a result, homes are being shown and sold thanks to technology.

Mortgage rates have dropped from the previous 4.75-5% to 3-3.5% which is a tremendous change.  For every 1% drop in rates, buyers get 9 times buying power.  For example, with a 1% drop in rates a $500,000 buyer can afford a $545,000 home at the same mortgage cost.

Covid 19 accelerated an already present movement.  Milennials make up the largest number of buyers.  They’re really getting old now as they’re nearly 40.  A lot of them have kids.  While it was so cool to have that Soho or NJ waterfront apartment, it’s not fun with kids.  Add in $30,000 per year (if not more) for private schools. Nirvana is now the suburbs.

Suburbs give you space, privacy, a yard and good public schools.  Covid 19 made this natural movement a firestorm.  People want out of congested cities where social distancing is impossible.

County Wide

Looking at Bergen County as a whole, it’s easy to see the devastating impact of Covid 19.  Let’s dismiss sales because a lot of them began pre-Covid.  It makes the most sense to look at homes that went under contract:

  • January and February both had 15% more homes going under contract than in 2019
  • March is when Covid came into view and we had the lock down so that’s only 5% less
  • April is the worst month when things looked so impossible – 55% less
  • May recovered a good deal of that loss although it’s still  at -32%

Let’s look at the average and median listing price for these under contract homes:

  • January +4% Average & +10% Median
  • February +8% Average & +9% Median
  • March – No change for both
  • April – -8% Average & -1% Median
  • May – +6% Average & +6% Median

Clearly we were, as predicted, ahead of 2019 until Covid hit in mid March.  March reversed whatever gain occurred and we had significant loss in April.  The market adjusted by April’s end and has been gaining ground since

bergen county real estateInventory Is Our Challenge – Great for Sellers & Tough for Buyers

Today as I write this article, there are 1,987 homes for sale in the New Jersey MLS.  I’d guess 5-7% have accepted offers.  As a result we have about 1,800 homes for sale in our 70 Bergen County locations.  We should have around 4,300.

Over the past 2 weeks I’ve seen more homes coming back on the market.  It’s still going to be a tough market for buyers because low inventory will be with us for the next several years.

Right now this is an unusually great moment for sellers.  Extremely low inventory and mortgage rates create a very special opportunity for sellers.  Home buyers are going to have a tough time.  Expect that when you find a house, so have several others.  As a result, you’ll be in bidding wars.  It might take a few attempts to get a house and expect to pay nearly full to 5% over asking.

As I wrote in a previous article, Bergen County real estate is strong.  The only thing holding us back is not enough homes to sell.  Remember this when you see articles screaming doom and gloom because sales numbers are down.  If the inventory is down, what else would you expect?

The bottom line is that Bergen County homes bounced back in May and it will remain a sellers market in the future.  Mortgage rates are an extraordinary advantage right now for buyers too.  For figures on a particular town or neighborhood or anything else you’d like, just click here to tell me.

 

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Manor Area SaleManor Area Sale

I just had a Manor Area sale on Valley View Road.  This charming 3 bedroom 1.5 bath colonial is very typical of what you’ll find in this part of Englewood NJ.

Lot size is 50 x 100 and the layout is classic colonial.  You have the living room, formal dining room and kitchen on the 1st floor.  Bedrooms are upstairs on the 2nd floor.  Additionally there are 2 more rooms on the 1st floor – a den (converted into a bedroom) and a sun room.  Sun rooms are often found on 1st floors in this area.

Be sure to have a tank sweep

Expect to find steam heat in this area too.  Most homes here were built between 1920 and 1940.  Steam heat is how homes were heated back then.  Buying a home of this vintage means coal or oil heat before gas was available.  It’s essential for home buyers to include a tank sweep in their home inspections as a result.  I wrote a blog article on tank sweep inspections which you will find helpful.  

Beautiful Englewood Homes in the Manor Area  Manor Area

Englewood homes are known for their character.  You won’t find block after block of 1960’s and 1970’s tract developments.  A great many of these homes were built in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s.  Englewood also has more than it’s share of historic houses too.

Located in the northwest corner of town, the Manor Area runs from Tenafly Road west starting at Ivy Lane down to Dwight Morrow High School.  Since the price range is high 300’s to high 500’s, this is more than a step up from starter homes.  Filled with beautiful colonials in a variety of architectural styles, the ambiance is quaint.  There is everything from open porch Queen Anne Victorians to center hall brick and Tudor colonials.  Streets are lined with towering trees and mature plantings.  People get to know each other in the quiet neighborhoods here.  It’s a truly delightful place to live and, additionally, very popular with the home buying public.

Manor AreaThe American Dream

This sale is the culmination of hard work over many years.  The family that purchased this home came from another country.  They worked hard to save money for a down payment and will have their US citizenship soon.  As a result, this home truly represents their American Dream.  It’s not only the American Dream of home ownership.  It is also the American Dream of US citizenship.

 

 

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bergen county luxury homesBergen County luxury homes are flying.  They are selling in substantially greater numbers than they have for the past several years.  This is because of Covid 19 as well as the high cost of living, dense population and quality of life in cities.  Let’s take a look at a few areas comparing 2019 to 2020 through April.

Alpine

Alpine New Jersey is well known as one of the most exclusive luxury home destinations in the world.  High end homes here on 1 and 2 acre lots typically begin at well over $2 million.  Because of it’s proximity to Manhattan (20 minute drive) and the fact that Alpine students attend Tenafly High School (highest SAT scores in the County), this town is a destination for celebrities as well as captains of industry.

Additionally Alpine has a very private aspect.  Set back homes are on lots filled with mature foliage or gated walls.  As a result, Alpine NJ is one of the most coveted high end destinations in the NY metro area if not the world.

Using New Jersey MLS data we find that sales nearly doubled (from 5 to 9), the time it took is down 44% and the average sales price is up 26%.  This is a significant improvement.

Franklin Lakes

Franklin Lakes is one of the most expensive communities in New Jersey with an average household income of $233,389.  It’s acre properties are often heavily treed.  Additionally there are several unincorporated lake centered neighborhoods.  As a result, Franklin Lakes has a distinctive country ambiance.  The public schools are among the best in Bergen County and you’ll find 2 major shopping centers in town with everything you’d need. alpine nj home for sale

While we only had 26 sales through April, 40 homes went under contract.  Prices are higher too – up 6% for sales and up 12% for under contract list prices.  86 homes were listed, 40 went under contract and 27 were withdrawn.  This is a strong and accelerating market.

Saddle River

With the highest average household income ($275,156) and gorgeous 2+ acre properties, Saddle River is the most exclusive of all Bergen County communities.  The foliage here is so mature and dense that at times you feel like you’re driving through a forest or on a country lane.  Homes are set far back from the street giving it’s gorgeous residences a degree of privacy not found elsewhere.  This small town in population (3,379 people) has a world wide reputation for the utmost in luxury living.

The real estate market in Saddle River has dramatically improved this year.  Sales went from 9 last year to 13 in 2020 with a 32% rise in the average sales price to $2.3 million.  Under contracts kept pace with 2019 in spite of the large number of withdrawals due to Covid (28).

Tenafly

Known as the #1 demand town in the eastern half of Bergen County, Tenafly does have it all.  This highly affluent town where nearly 25% are acre lots, has a nationally renown school district (normally the highest SAT score in the County) terrific town Tenafly homesservices, great business district and only 6 miles to the George Washington Bridge and NYC  While it has an abundance of wealthy households, the demographics are wider here than one would think.  As a result, Tenafly truly is an all American apple pie, Little League town.

Sales increased 50% this year with a very strong 16% rise in the average sales price.  Equally impressive is the 35% drop in how long it took to close those sales.  Under contract figures are also strong.  Tenafly had an increase here of 71% with listing prices 7% higher.  The Tenafly East Hill with it’s beautiful luxury homes is selling well indeed.

Bergen County Luxury Homes

Bergen County luxury homes are flying as you can see from these examples.  We have several more high end locations but this group gives you a pretty good picture.  Moving out of cities has been going on for some time; Covid 19 only increased the pace.  Luxury homes have benefited along with the rest of the market.

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38 Warren Rd38 Warren Road in Fair Lawn is a new listing I have that went on the market today.  It’s a 3 bedroom 1.5 bath cape cod home with a great location.  It’s in the coveted Radburn area but it’s not a Radburn house.  As a result, you get the positives of this location without the Radburn community fees.

The asking price is $459,000 and lot size is deep at 52 x 126 feet.  Taxes are moderate too at $9,587.65  The heat is gas fueled hot air plus there’s central air conditioning too.  Updates are throughout too.  As a result this is a very good value in an affordable home.

Great Updates

Because interest rates are so very low now it makes sense to look for a house where there’s little to do.  It’s easier to have everything in a mortgage rather than use after tax dollars to update a house.  This is why 38 Warren Rd is terrific value.Great Room

The impressive Great Room addition is the major update to the home but don’t forget the modern kitchen.  The Great Room is big with a vaulted ceiling and a gorgeous Palladium style window.   There is so much sunlight streaming through this room that, as a result, it sparkles with brightness.

Quality shows in the modern kitchen.  Wood cabinets, granite counter tops, ceramic tile back splash and stain steel appliances are all here for you.  Because it’s custom designed, the kitchen designer even fit in more cabinets by the refrigerator.

38 Warren Rd Fair Lawn NJBathrooms are updated, the exterior is vinyl sided and you’ll find replacement windows too.  There is no deed to redo a bathroom, put in a new kitchen or replace all the windows.

38 Warren Rd is such a well maintained home that you really can move right in.  You will want to decorate with paint etc to make it your own but there’s nothing crazy to do here.

backyard

Everyone Wants A Backyard

Yards are important.  Everyone wants a backyard when they buy a home.  Sometimes you want a house with a small yard, other times a big yard is requested.  Either way backyards come with houses.  Because the lot size is 126 feet deep, you still have a yard even with the large Great Room addition.

The patio is a good size too.  As a result, it’s ideal for summer barbecues or just hanging out with the family.  There is also a large shed where you can store all your outside gear.

38 Warren Rd Location

Radburn is a well known part of Fair Lawn.  It was constructed in 1929 as a garden community of attached homes in multiple cul de sacs.  Radburn is like a town within Fair Lawn.  It’s big because it has 149 acres and over 500 homes most of which are attached dwellings.  There’s also a 93 unit apartment complex.  This is a private community where residents pay a quarterly fee that takes care of the pools, tennis courts, grounds etc.  In addition a school, business district and train station was constructed.  This is a very prestigious part of town.

Since 38 Warren Rd is right on the edge of the Radburn community, it has all the benefits that area gives you.  A great local shopping area and close to the NJ Transit train to NYC.  You’re also near a house of worship, commuting buses and a bird sanctuary.  All this plus the high scoring Fair Lawn School District.

Check out my website for this house where you’ll find more pictures and details.

 

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Bergen Count Real Estate Today

The historic Van Allen house in Oakland, NJ

Bergen County Real Estate Today

Bergen County Real Estate today is still moving forward at a pretty good clip.  I’m writing this article at 4:20 pm today and here’s what we have:

  • 1,820 are for sale
  • 1,063 are under contract
  • 225 are withdrawn from the market (over the past 30 days)

It’s important to remember that a good number of homes for sale have accepted offers.  Because there is no separate category for accepted offers, they remain in the active inventory.

Activity Since April 27th

Let’s consider what’s happened over the last 30 days.  This period is completely impacted by Covid 19.

  • 325 homes are listed for sale
  • 316 homes go under contract
  • 225 are withdrawn

These figures display a strong real estate market for Bergen County homes.

 

Upper Tier Homes

Much has been written about the beating luxury homes have taken.  They did have had a hard time since the Great Recession but things really turned around over the past few years.  The market for high end real estate came on big time.  As a result, this market had momentum along with the market in general going into the lock down.

Here’s what we have for Jan 1st to now:

  • 82 homes listed for sale
  • 13 under contract
  • 54 withdrawn

Corona virus concerns motivated many affluent families to withdraw from the market.  Luxury sellers can afford to wait.  In spite of this, we have a fine 6.3 to 1 ratio of active to under contract.

Currently the fully inventory is 175 homes for sale and 20 under contract for a ratio of 8.75 to 1.  That’s not great but sill much improved over the double digit recent past.

Let’s see what happened since March 27th:

  • 11 listed for sale
  • 3 under contract
  • 16 withdrawn

These are much more encouraging figures.  The ratio is a very impressive 3.67 to 1.

Entry Level Homes

Entry level homes are at $500,000 and below.  Here’s how it looks today:

  • 433 homes are for sale
  • 481 are under contract
  • 181 withdrawn over the past 3 months

We have more homes going under contract than are coming on the market.  This is called negative inventory.  Let’s look next at the past 30 days:

  • 314 listed
  • 316 under contract
  • 61 withdrawn

It’s the same story.  More homes going under contract than coming on the market although it’s nearly identical.  Bear in mind that when the ratio of active to under contract goes below 4, it’s a strong selling market.  Here it’s 1 to 1.

Bergen County Real Estate Today

Analyzing a market means you look at both ends because the middle follows.  Entry level homes are moving fast; high end homes continue to soundly recover.  If I took you through mid range homes, you’d see negative inventory there too.

I keep saying I know this sounds crazy but figures don’t lie.  Bergen County real estate today is fine; it’s in demand and selling well.  Can you imagine what will happen when we open up?

You can go into the New Jersey MLS and search the inventory yourself now.

 

 

 

 

 

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buying a house is differentBuying a house is different today because of Covid 19 concerns.  The good news is that you can do it because it’s not all that impossible.

Viewing A Home

Everyone looks at homes online.  What’s different is that you don’t go out to see them.  Virtual showings and the virtual open house have taken over.  Homes are increasingly sold online using virtual technology.  The buyer never goes into the house until he owns it.

Some homeowners cooperate with actual showings.  We at Weichert have very strict protocols for this as do other companies.

There are also homes sold virtually with the buyer reserving the right for 1 viewing.  I advise doing this in the first days of Attorney Review.

Home Inspections and Appraisals

Home inspections and appraisals are handled very differently too:

  • Only the home inspector is allowed in the house.
  • The seller, buyer and agents cannot be at or in the house.
  • Appraisers are allowed to do drive by appraisals.

buying a homeNormally both I and my buyers are at the home inspection.  Often a young couple will have a parent along with them too.  This can’t happen today.

Appraisers used to go inside, do a visual inspection and measure all the rooms while drawing a floor plan.  Not today.  I will say that the appraisers I’ve met are highly experienced so I feel this will be fine.

Mortgages

You see a bank advertising loans with a 620 credit score.  That’s the bank’s policy.  You have 690 so you’re good.  Not at all because Wall Street investors who buy mortgage loans want 700.  What’s going on?

It’s the economy or lack thereof.  Investors rule and they are getting nervous.  43% of all workers are laid off, furloughed or cut back severely.  As a result, they are asking for more stringent qualifying.

To fully protect yourself, get an underwritten mortgage loan pre-approval.  Do it now.  Before you find the house.  Don’t be like everyone else and wait.  You might be very unhappily surprised when you get denied later on.  You’ve spent thousands on a house you can’t buy and let’s not even think about how upset you’ll be.

SurveyorClosing

You need a survey and title search; that’s easy.  Surveyors work outside and title searches can be done through the web.

Pre closing walk through inspections are a snap because (with rare exception) the seller has moved out.

Closings were done in the buyer’s attorney’s office.  It was a very nice experience for everyone and especially so for first time home buyers.  We can’t do this now.

Attorneys review documents before a closing with buyers on the phone.  Because banks insist on real signatures for some docs, title companies send notaries to buyers for this.  There is, however, momentum towards electronic signatures on everything.

Another change is wiring funds.  While there are concerns about wire fraud, funds are wired almost always.

Buying A House Is Different Today

Buying a house is different today but not impossible.  It’s up to you whether or not you move forward.  If you want to see what a 3D Matterport tour looks like, take a look at how I do things.

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166 Stonegate 106 Stonegate Trail

Cresskill, New Jersey

$640,000

A Multi Level Luxury Townhouse

3 Bedrooms – 3.5 Baths

106 Stonegate Trail is a beautifully decorated luxury townhouse in prestigious Cresskill New Jersey.  Wonderfully designed, this multi level townhouse has over 2,400 square feet of living space.

106 Stonegate Trail Custom Touches

Custom touches are found throughout this elegant home.  You’ll find 106 Stonegategorgeous hardwood floors, granite counter tops and newer stainless appliances in the kitchen, a breakfast nook with it’s own balcony and a simply stunning Master Suite.

Because this truly is an upscale property, quality is evident throughout.  You enter the ground floor level through the oversized 2 car garage.  Garage storage  is more than ample as a result.

Step inside and you’re in a nicely finished room; there’s a full bath on this level too.  This makes the ground floor level ideal for a variety of uses. Use it as guest quarters, a rec room or even a home office.

Cresskill NJMain Level

Light sparkles across hardwood flooring throughout the expansive main level.  Imagine the entertaining you’ll do with it’s open floor plan that’s perfect for large scale parties.  While this is a modern luxury townhouse, the ambiance is also very warm and family friendly.  Intimate moments work well here.  Relax together in the family room, hang out with coffee in the kitchen or enjoy informal meals together in the breakfast nook.

Cresskill NJ

Cresskill offers convenience to Manhattan and a top scoring school district.  Because it does, Cresskill is one of the more popular locations in Bergen County.  It’s housing ranges from entry level to among the most expensive Bergen County homes.  Additionally you have outstanding town services.  The Recreation Department has robust programs and events year round.  The business district has pretty much everything you need too.

106 Stonegate Trail is a gorgeous townhouse in one of Bergen County’s most sought after locations.  Call or text me about it today at 201-741-8490.

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Bergen County Real Estate Market UpdateTo do a current Bergen County market update, I have to go back 30 days.  If you look at what I wrote about the market on March 25th,  you’ll see that we were holding our own.  The data from the New Jersey MLS was nearly identical comparing 2020 to 2019.  While this was true, I also saw storms on the horizon.

Since then things have changed.  We began the lock down and in a matter of a few days days the US economy was closed.  Real estate is among essential services so we’ve been moving forward.

Let’s Look At The Facts

Here’s the New Jersey MLS data for March 15th to April 15th comparing 2020 to 2019:

  • Active – 903 to 2,503
  • Attorney Review – 448 to 1,091
  • Under Contract – 466 to 882
  • Withdrawn – 372 to 289
  • Price Changes – 222 to 667

How Bad Is this?

Although Corona virus has a definite effect on the market, it did not stop Bergen County real estate.  We’ve lost  what I call optional buying.  There are people who don’t have to move now.  It’s optional.

There’s still plenty of time to get into a house by the start of school in September (this is over half of all sales).  It usually takes 60 days to close on a house.  You can do it in 45 days if you’re properly prepared.

Back it up 60 days.  That’s July 1st and 45 days takes you to July 15th.  Plenty of time to wait it out while you’re watching the market.  Get ready for lots of homes and buyers in another 4-6 weeks.

So how bad is this?  Interest rates are great at +/- 4% by a little (good for buyers) and inventory is thin (good for sellers).  The primary difference is that any homeowner or buyer out there now is serious.  So how bad is this really?  It’s just different.

Bergen County Real Estate Market UpdateBergen County Market Update

The bottom line is that there is still activity.  Just not as much as you’d see in a normal spring market.  Consider a big picture view.  This is an abnormal time.  It is a man made forced recession.  The best economy the US has seen was closed down in 2-3 days.  That’s abnormal.

The President announced today that the economy will begin opening up now.  While it will take a while for us to heal the economy fully, there is tremendous pent up demand.  Imagine where we’ll be in 1 month.

Home Values

Here’s the key ingredient most people have missed – Pricing.  I have not seen an unusual degree of price reductions and NJMLS figures prove this.  Taken as a percentage of actives, price changes are 25% in 2020 and 27% in 2019.  Wouldn’t you expect values to nosedive as they do in negative times?  Remember the big picture – this is an abnormal time.  Economic fundamentals remain strong.  The Federal Government made sure of this.

Buying and Selling Now

Yes you can buy and sell now.  It’s just a different process.  Everything is done through the internet with a few exceptions.  Buyers will ask for at least 1 visit to make certain this is the home they want and home inspectors need to come inside.  Plus I need my marketing team in to do photos, 3D Matterport tour and floor plans.  If you are not comfortable with this, wait it out.

Data proves that we are moving at the same pace as last year.  Look at the price change figures; they’re nearly identical.  Now look at the ratio of active listings for sale against those under contract:

  • 2019 903 to 466 – 2,29 to 1
  • 2020 2,503 to 1,091 – 1.94 to 1

I know this sounds crazy but we’re actually doing better in 2020.  It’s just that there are fewer transactions happening so far this year.  That is going to change once Bergen County is opened up.

The Bottom Line

You can see now that the market is moving forward.  Homeowners have an envious position compared to what’s coming.  When the market is flooded with homes, this advantage is gone.  Buyers can save a lot now because services such as movers and inspectors are competing for your business.  Plus you won’t bump up against multiple buyers for the house you want as you will later on.  Right now there truly is opportunity for both that will disappear soon

Weichert’s been doing 3D Matterport tours for years (aka virtual tours) as well as remote transactions from document signings to Attorney amendments.  From our perspective the only change is with actual showings.  Now we’re doing them virtually.

Call or text me at 201-741-8490 if you have questions or want a market report.  As they say, I’m ready when you’re ready.

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Covid 19 and Real EstateCovid 19 and real estate.  What can I say?  I can tell you how I feel and I will.  The decision whether to move now is ultimately yours.  Let’s look at things for residential buyers and sellers.  Please understand that this is my view.  There are others with different views of how to proceed of course.

Virtual Showings

What is a virtual showing?  The truth is that we’ve been doing this for years.  Weichert has been promoting professional 3D Matterport tours for a very long time now.  Many others call photograph slideshows a virtual tour but that really isn’t it.  Here is an example for you to check out I did for a listing.  As you can see, it’s quite literally a walk through the house.

Virtual tours are nothing new for us.  There are others using video but customers really like Matterport 3D tours.  This is because it gives them full control.  They can go back and forth as they wish and zoom in on a specific part of the house.

Floor Plans

Having a good floor plan is also something we’ve been doing for years.  Today it’s more important than ever since Covid 19 entered our world.  A good floor plan helps you understand a home’s flow and figure out furniture placement.  Matterport

Actual Showings

We didn’t need New Jersey to tell us to stop open houses.  Weichert did that early on along with limitations on how people are allowed in a house.  New Jersey Realtors has a web page on this that will most likely answer all your questions.  Only very serious buyers should be considered with strong behavior restrictions.

This means only 1 buyer at a time (immediate family OK) and the seller is out of the house.  CDC protocols must be observed along with New Jersey’s.  The seller should open all closet doors, some kitchen cabinets etc. so that no one needs to touch anything.

Home Inspectors and Appraisers

There are typically 2 contingencies in a sales contract – the home inspection and mortgage.  While buyers are usually at their home inspections, only the inspector is allowed to come now.  Sellers have to be out then too.

Mortgages require that both buyer and house meet the bank’s requirements.  The buyer does this by income, credit score, etc.  Appraisals are how a house does it.  Normally appraisers go inside to inspect and measure.  Because of Covid 19, inspectors are no longer required to do this.  As a result, appraisers must rely on MLS and online information.

Home AppraisalClosings

You need to have a walk through inspection before closing on your home.  This is to make sure everything is as it’s supposed to be.  No one but the buyer and their attorney need go to the closing with the settlement agent (often the title company).  Banks still need original signatures on documents.  As a result closings are not done remotely so far.

 

Does This Work For Covid 19 and Real Estate Concerns?

Yes it can and for many people it does.  Every day homes come on the market and homes are sold.  Whether or not you choose to become active is entirely up to you.  It is your decision.

Many homes are being sold entirely remotely.  In plain English, through the internet with no actual showings.  I would suggest doing it this way:

Once you’re in Attorney Review, see the house then.  I know that articles are in the web advising buyers to do this at the home inspection so they can be there with their inspector too.  This is a mistake because it hurts both buyer and seller.  Taking a home off the market for weeks isn’t fair to the seller.  Having a buyer pay for a home inspection on a house they may not buy isn’t fair either.

Additionally the contract should include that the house is disinfected by a cleaning company for closing.  Regardless I’d have my own company disinfect the house immediately after closing and then move into it.

The Bottom Line

As a result of all the above, the answer is Yes to Covid 19 and real estate.  You can buy and sell a home now.  Should you?  I would wait if you don’t have to move because I can not guarantee your safety 100%.  It’s not fun for me to tell you this but it’s my best advice.  If you don’t have to move now, don’t risk it.  Nothing is worth it.

Hopefully you will call upon me when this is over.  Meanwhile I will keep you fully updated on the market.  If, however, you choose to move on, I will do my very best for you as always.  We will just do everything remotely.  Questions?  Call or text at 201-741-8490 and Stay Safe!