Posted by & filed under For Sale or Rent, Renting.

I have a 2 bedroom apartment for rent in Englewood NJ for $1,875 per month.  It’s located at 373 Knickerbocker Road in between Ivy Lane and Hudson Avenue.  This is the Manor Area of Englewood – the most prized location on the west side of town.  Let’s take a look at this apartment:

373 Knickerbocker 373 Knickerbocker Road

373 Knickerbocker Road is a top/bottom 2 family house.  This is a 2nd floor apartment with 3 very special features.  You have a pull down staircase to attic storage, a wonderful 3 season porch and central air.

You can enjoy this room most of the year since the windows are double pane replacements.  It’s an extension to the back of the house.  As a result, it’s like your own adult tree house.  Imagine how peaceful this room is.  You are literally high off the ground surrounded by large tree branches.

 

Great Interior Space  2 bedroom apartment in Englewood

The living room is 20 feet long and just over 11 feet wide.  Because it’s so big, there is room for a combination dining and living room.  You have a kitchen that’s truly eat in sized as well.  Bedrooms are Queen sized and the ceiling height is fine.  Because there are a lot of windows, this is a very bright and airy apartment.  Sunlight sparkles on the beautifully polished hardwood floors.  Simply put – this is a great apartment to call home.

Eat In Kitchen

Kitchens are important rooms.  Most apartments in this price range have small aisle kitchens.  That’s not the case in this 2 bedroom apartment for rent.  You get a full sized kitchen with enough room for a table and chairs.  Included is a dishwasher and a refrigerator.  Cabinets are plenty plus counter space is terrific.

You get to the kitchen through the living room so it’s ideal for a dining/living room configuration.  The 3 season porch is right off the kitchen which is great.  Make yourself a cup of tea and relax in the porch.

Englewood NJ apartment for rentLocation

This is a very convenient location in the prestigious Manor Area of Englewood.  If you’re not familiar with this part of town, I wrote an article recently about a home here that I sold recently.  In the article I write about this district.

You are no more than a 1 mile walk to so many things – houses of worship, local shopping where there’s a Walgreens, elementary, middle and high schools plus commuter buses to NYC.

This is a very sweet 2 bedroom apartment for rent in a prestigious location.  The only reason tenants have left is because they had to.  Everyone has loved living here and you will too.

Call or text me at 201-741-8490 to see this great apartment.

Posted by & filed under Buying, For Sale or Rent.

mortgage denialHow do you handle a mortgage denial?  What happens next?  Do I get my deposit back?  Why did this happen?

Mortgages are denied for a variety of reasons.  Is this a common occurrence for home buyers?  Not at all.

There are exceptions.  For example, a buyer lost their job.  You can’t get a mortgage if you have no income.  This is a rare occurrence because home buyers commit to a house when they are financially secure almost always.

A mortgage denial is a disaster.  This just happened.  Let’s start at the beginning so you can learn from this.

The Buyers

The home buyers are both doctors.  They are early in their careers because one is on a fellowship and the other is a hospital resident.  Credit scores are excellent plus they have a good down payment.  Since they came to the US from overseas, they both have visas are planning to become US citizens.

Doesn’t this sound great?  Solid verifiable income, excellent credit and a great down payment.  What could go wrong?

Shopping For A Mortgage

Although I sent them my article on why mortgage rates don’t count, they went rate shopping.  Read this article and you’ll understand why this is a mistake.

Shopping for a mortgage should involve more than the rate of the day.  There can be a huge disconnect between the banker and loan processing.  Problems found that can be easily handled early on become last minute emergencies.  Bankers I recommend are on top of their loans and work directly with processing.

Some folks dismiss the value of a banker relationship.  They shop online exclusively.  Often that online “bank” is really a  referral service.  Did you know that Weichert Financial is one of the real banks behind that online portal?  Think Lending Tree, Rocket Mortgage etc.  Your fees might be higher because referrals have referral fees.  Oops!

A Mortgage Denial in the Making

My couple went with Chase because the man they spoke to quoted them the lowest rate that particular day.

One of their visas is not accepted by Chase.  If they had focused on finding a great professional, this issue would have been identified 1-2 days after formally applying for their mortgage.  Because the man they chose was basically an order taker, he had no idea for nearly 1 month that there was a problem.

During that time the buyers spent about $3,000.  They hired an attorney who spent hours working for them.  Additionally there was $1,000 on home inspections, $750 for a survey and around $350 for a title search.

Worst of all is what this did to the buyers.  Imagine how upset they were!  Think about the seller too with their house in moving boxes ready to close.

There is nothing you can do when your mortgage is denied.  All of your expenses are lost.  You do get your deposit back once you send the bank denial letter to the seller.  While this is a relief, it doesn’t make you feel better.

Why Did This Happen?

This didn’t happen because Chase doesn’t accept a type of visa.  This happened because my buyers chose a mortgage rate, not an experienced banking professional.

Weichert Financial Services is working hard right now to fix this mess.  They were supposed to close soon.  That won’t happen but Weichert Financial has found a way to fund their mortgage at a normal competitive rate in a few weeks.

Whether you’re buying a house or finding a landscaper, always make sure the person you hire is an experienced, capable professional. Buying a home is emotional.  I’m sure my customers were advised by their family or friends to go to the local branch office.  That’s not how you find the best mortgage banker.  Ask me; I know several. 

Posted by & filed under Buying, For Sale or Rent, Selling.

why the future of housing is positiveThe future of housing is positive because of several fundamental reasons.  While the US economy is officially in a recession, this recession is very different.

This Recession is Different

How do you define a recession?  When you have 2 consecutive quarters of negative economic growth you’re in a recession. This one, however, is different.

Begin with the fact that it’s man made.  There was no structural economic reason for this; it was a reaction to Covid 19.  The best economy ever was shut down.  This never happened before.

During the Great Recession unemployment went from 5% to 10%.  In a matter of weeks we went from 3.6% to 13%.  TARP cost $475 million in the Great Recession.  So far this year stimulus packages are at $2 trillion.

While unemployment is improving, it won’t be 3.6% again this year.  Additionally, we don’t know how much more the economy will need.

Interest Rates Will Stay Low

Today the Fed will issue a report as it closes it’s 2 day meeting.  Don’t expect much to change.  We’ve just had our biggest drop why the future of housing is positive in inflation since 1947 according to CPI data.  Bond yields remain anemic and the Fed is at zero.  I bet it stays there.

Mortgage rates are correspondingly low and forecasts are for this to continue throughout next year.  CNBC’s Steve Liesman as well as guests on Squawk Box this morning all say that rates will remain low until 2022.

You don’t have to be an economist to know that low mortgage rates are a stimulus for housing.  Every 1% drop in rates = 9% more buying power (a $600,000 buyer becomes a $654,000 buyer).  We are more than 1% lower than in January.

The Inventory Crisis is Real

The inventory crisis is real.  The New Jersey MLS just crossed the 2,000 mark with 2,034 homes for sale.  This is half of what you’d expect at this time of year.  I believe there are 2 reasons for this:

  1. Baby Boomers
  2. Covid 19

Baby BoomersBaby boomers are not moving out of their homes as quickly as generations before them.  People in their 70’s and 80’s without a major illness happily stay in their homes.  Their mortgages are paid off and with the high cost of rentals, it’s usually cheaper to stay put.  Since Boomers are 2nd only to Milennials in size, this has a major impact on available inventory.

Covid 19 panic caused many sellers  to withdraw their homes from the market.  People have calmed down since mid March and houses are coming back on the market.  However there’s still a good number waiting for next spring.

This is Why The Future of Housing is Positive

MilennialsCovid 19 only made worse an ongoing inventory crisis fueled by Boomers staying in their homes longer.  When Covid 19 concerns no longer exist, we’ll still have low inventory.

Consider the facts.  Milennials are the biggest demographic and they are 24-39 years old.  As they start families, they naturally move out of their city apartments to Bergen County and other suburbs where they have space, a yard and good public schools.  Boomers, the 2nd biggest demographic at 56-76, are not quick to move.

What do you have?  Increasing numbers of buyers (Milennials) with decreasing numbers of sellers (Boomers).  This will last for the next 15 years at least.

Not fun for buyers but great for sellers.  Even when mortgage rates go up in the future, there will still be more buyers than available homes.  This is why the future of housing is positive. This is no bubble.  This is reality.

 

Posted by & filed under Buying, For Sale or Rent, Selling.

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.

 

 

Posted by & filed under Buying, For Sale or Rent, Selling.

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.

 

Posted by & filed under Buying, For Sale or Rent.

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.

 

 

Posted by & filed under Buying, For Sale or Rent, Selling.

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.

 

Posted by & filed under Buying, For Sale or Rent, Selling.

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.

 

 

 

 

 

Posted by & filed under Buying, For Sale or Rent.

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.