Christmas at The Olde Mill Inn

December 17th – 21st: Holiday Lunch Buffet (11:30am – 2:30pm). A cozy fireside lunch in the historic Grain House Restaurant for the whole family! Dec 18, Dec 19, Dec 20, Dec 21. 

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December 24th: Christmas Eve Buffet (4pm – 8pm).

December 31st: New Year’s Eve Dinner (5pm – 10pm).

Reservations for all events strongly recommended: 908-696-2315

225 Route 202, Basking Ridge, NJ 07920

Trends to Track – Mortgages

Two interesting developments were reported this week and both involved mortgage rates.

Mortgage rates fell this week, according to Mortgage News Daily. The average rate on the 30-year fixed mortgage fell 21 basis points in the past week, from 4.94% to 4.73%. This shows a reversal from trends posted back in November when mortgage rates hit an eight-year high of 5.05%.

Just as stocks were falling, real estate may again show some bounce-back.

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The drop in the rates could translate into a $70 per-month savings for home buyers on a $300,000 loan and translating into a yearly savings of $900 a year.

Many buyers are anticipating rates will only go higher in 2019, which brings me to the second story.

It was reported by The Mortgage Bankers Association that total mortgage applications rose by 2% over the course of the last week. Even though the number of applications is significantly lower than it was in 2017 by 19%, the uptick during the month of December shows that people still have an appetite to own their own home.

Overall mortgage interest rates remains 89 basis points higher than it was a year ago while home prices are also higher than they were in 2017. Affordability, inventory shortages, and slow housing starts are all contributing to a tighter housing market.



Mall Overhaul After Christmas

Just two more weekends to shop for Christmas and then comes the big change.

Monmouth Mall appears to be destined for a massive overhaul. This will all start with the closing of the storied Lord & Taylor, which has been an anchor tenant of the mall for over three decades.


Monmouth Mall is not the only mall anticipating major transformation over the next few years. According to CNBC, mall owners across the country are now ready to do whatever it takes to make their properties relevant and viable.

According to the CNBC report, more than 146 million square feet of retail space will be shut down across the United States, impacting malls and shopping centers. These numbers were generated by the research group CoStar.

In some ways this is the Amazon effect. Millennials find it easier and more convenient to just click their purchases on their smartphones and accept deliveries at home.

This is not just an Amazon phenomenon but rather many brands are choosing to go completely digital, such as the shirt brand UNTUCKit.

The amount of floor space shutting down in 2018 went up approximately 40% as compared to the reported 105 million square feet of space that was closed in 2017.

In Monmouth County Sears recently closed down their store, which represents approximately 100,000 square feet.

The other major retailer based in New Jersey, Toys R Us, recently closed down all of its stores.

This is all good news for the liquidators, who seem to be catching an uptick in Christmas spending.

New Jersey Old Fashion Christmas

Christmas at Smithville, New Jersey
http://www.historicsmithville.com/

Holiday Light Show!
The whole family will love the display of the brilliantly lit-up historic village of Smithville. Over 120 trees will light up on Lake Meone in various musical patterns, creating dazzling illusions and wonderment for children and adults alike. The Holiday Lights Show, which takes place in Galloway, NJ, has been a tradition at Historic Smithville for many years and each year is better than the last. Don’t miss the amazing light show and the Victorian-style Christmas decor around the village! Bring the whole family and all your friends for this merry attraction! The event runs Thursday – Sunday from 5:30pm – 8:30pm.

This Christmas you can also meet the Magical Talking Tree, a figure that wakes every weekend just to have a conversation with the young visitors! There will also be a Train Ride that runs daily and allows you and your family to take in the truly whimsical Smithville Village. Little ones may find Story Time with Mrs. Claus fun and entertaining. Come out to the Christmas Cottage and listen to Mrs. Clause read stories of the holiday season!


December 3rd is Hospitality Night and all are welcome to attend! From 6 – 8 pm the town will be overflowing with generous merchants offering food samples, discounts and drawings. Don’t miss out on the fun!

Now thru January 6th

Christmas Time In New Jersey

European Holiday Market
http://www.asburybiergarten.com/
Weekends from November 26 through December 24 come out to Asbury Park for the 2016 Rooftop Weihnachtsmarkt, an authentic European Holiday Market! From 12-7pm, weather permitting, shop various items from 30 curated vendors. Items for sale include artisanal gifts, specialty foods and handcrafted toys. You will be sure to find unique items for everyone on your Holiday and Christmas lists! On December 10, the outdoor market will host a Children’s Choir “Hlas” from 1-4pm. As this is an outdoor event, call in advance to make sure they will be open.

On Saturday, December 10 at 11am come out to the Asbury Festhalle Biergarten for a Gingerbread Cookie Workshop. You will learn how to make delicious and authentic Austrian gingerbread cookies, then decorate your cookie to your liking! Afterwards, kids will receive a free lunch! All supplies included in cost. Register by calling or click http://www.asburybiergarten.com/ for more information.

The Asbury Festhalle Biergarten is also collecting gifts for the Asbury Park Toy Drive from December 1 – 16. Drop off a toy to help families in the community in need. Toys needed for ages 0-15. When you donate, you’ll receive 10% off of your bill!

November 26th – December 24th

Millennial Homeownership Part 2

According to Ernst & Young, the Millennials are expected to increase their share of market from 27% to 47% over the next two years. 

On a positive note, the Millennials are seeing increases in their wages and income, which will allow them to manage with greater ease the still large student debt that they carry.

Even though the pending home sales index fell in October to 102.1, down from 104.8 in September, the sales continue to maintain.

Not all markets are created equal and so the 10 straight months of the downward trend by the National Association of Realtors does not actually reflect the same kind of trend that may be experienced in certain hot markets such as Brooklyn, North Carolina and even New Jersey, which continues to show an uptick.

According to the National Association of Realtors, the long-term looks very solid. There just has to be some comfort with the current increased in mortgage rates and the income necessary to account for those increase charges.

Pending home sales declined in the South and in the West, but in the state of New Jersey we continue to see a healthy robust demand for housing.

Overall the National Association of Realtors expects existing home sales to decrease by 3.1% to 5.34 million properties and the median existing home price increased by 4.7%. The NAR is projecting that 2019 will account for an increase in the average home price of approximately 2.5% nationwide.

If you have any questions about this information or title insurance, please contact Ralph Aponte: 732.914.1400.

Counsellors Title Agency, www.counsellorstitle.net, founded in 1996, is one of New Jersey’s most respected title agencies, serving all 21 New Jersey counties with title insurance, clearing title, escrow, tidelands searches, and closing and settlement services for commercial or industrial properties, waterfront properties and marinas, condominiums, townhouses or residential single family homes. Counsellors Title also features its own Attorney Settlement Assistance Program™ [ASAP], which is an individual resource customized to fit the needs specifically of real estate attorneys, including, Documentation, Preparation, Disbursement of Funds, Attendance at Closing, HUD Preparation or Post-Closing Matters.

NJ Home Prices and Millennials Part 1

October 2018 marked another month in which single-family median prices increased, as well as townhomes and adult community sales increased. It did not seem to affect the escalation in home prices when the stock market fell in October and November.

Even though single family inventory has dipped to 5.2 months from 5.8 months in 2017, the days on market have only fallen just slightly from 70 days to 67 days.

And the average sales price for a single-family home on a year-to-year comparison this October climbed only 3.5% in New Jersey.

Today on a year-to-date comparison 2017 with 2018, the number of clothed sales increased by just 100 in 2018.

As far as the mortgage industry, Millennials will represent the largest segment of home buyers in 2019, representing 45% of all mortgages. This compares with 17% of Baby Boomers and 37% for Gen Xers.

According to a Housing Wire report, the Millennial home buyer is expected to peak in activity in the year 2020.

If you have any questions about this information or title insurance, please contact Ralph Aponte: 732.914.1400.

Counsellors Title Agency, www.counsellorstitle.net, founded in 1996, is one of New Jersey’s most respected title agencies, serving all 21 New Jersey counties with title insurance, clearing title, escrow, tidelands searches, and closing and settlement services for commercial or industrial properties, waterfront properties and marinas, condominiums, townhouses or residential single family homes. Counsellors Title also features its own Attorney Settlement Assistance Program™ [ASAP], which is an individual resource customized to fit the needs specifically of real estate attorneys, including, Documentation, Preparation, Disbursement of Funds, Attendance at Closing, HUD Preparation or Post-Closing Matters.

Trends to Track – Low Inventory and Buyers

During the prior 20 months, one of the big hurdles that buyers had to deal with was the scarcity of inventory. Inventory of available homes on the market truly has been reduced from prior periods and prior years. 

Some agents are expecting the rising interest rates to create a barrier that will throw another kink in the pipeline of home purchases. But this may not be the case at all. Even as home prices escalate and mortgage rates increase, the economy is robust and real wage growth is impacting the prospective home buyer of today. Even Millennials have jumped into the market and are representing a higher percentage of first-time home buyers than has been the case in the prior 24 months.

Interest rates are projected to hit between 5.3% and 5.5% by the end of 2019. What this may ultimately end up doing is creating a higher buyer demand for those looking to get into the market.

Buyers may not wait till spring to make that new home purchase, considering the anticipated hike in fed rates over the next 12 months.

Home price growth has slowed to about the 2% level in much of the country, but that still does not impact New Jersey in some ways, because New Jersey’s value has many times reflected the very high prices in the New York market. Even New York City’s outer boroughs are seeing a significant climb in their values. Certain homes in Brooklyn that were once considered affordable to just about any family with decent credit scores are now priced above the million-dollar mark. Brooklyn is now $1,000,000 for most homes on the market.

As for home sellers, there will be more competition from more sellers who have also jumped into the market, but that still does not mitigate the fact that inventories are still usually under 6 months, which had been considered standard. Many of New Jersey’s counties, including Essex, Hudson, Passaic, Union, Middlesex and Monmouth County, have under 5 months worth of inventory; some even drop down to 4 months worth of inventory.

If you have any questions about this information or title insurance, please contact Ralph Aponte: 732.914.1400.

Counsellors Title Agency, www.counsellorstitle.net, founded in 1996, is one of New Jersey’s most respected title agencies, serving all 21 New Jersey counties with title insurance, clearing title, escrow, tidelands searches, and closing and settlement services for commercial or industrial properties, waterfront properties and marinas, condominiums, townhouses or residential single family homes. Counsellors Title also features its own Attorney Settlement Assistance Program™ [ASAP], which is an individual resource customized to fit the needs specifically of real estate attorneys, including, Documentation, Preparation, Disbursement of Funds, Attendance at Closing, HUD Preparation or Post-Closing Matters.

 

Trends to Track – Mortgages

According to a Housingwire article, one type of lender is actually excelling in this market, despite many thousands of others losing their jobs. One kind of lender that seems to be improving and excelling is those mortgage brokers.

According to this article United Wholesale Mortgage saw a 52% annual increase in volume this past third quarter. Part of that increase reflects an increase in the number of people hired by United Wholesale Mortgage.

It appears that mortgage brokers understand the mortgage industry in a way that easily gives borrowers access to assets.

According to the article, there is a shift to brokers because they are able to provide a more personal service and product. 

Another reason that some groups are able to increase their volume and their market share is the turnaround time. Speed is truly reflected in increased the referral business in mortgages.

Some mortgage brokers are also taking advantage of the increased equity that homeowners currently have in their homes. By getting this information out to individuals who are trying to update their homes, they can maintain a flow of business even when transactions of home sales may be dipping.

If you have any questions about this information or title insurance, please contact Ralph Aponte: 732.914.1400.

Counsellors Title Agency, www.counsellorstitle.net, founded in 1996, is one of New Jersey’s most respected title agencies, serving all 21 New Jersey counties with title insurance, clearing title, escrow, tidelands searches, and closing and settlement services for commercial or industrial properties, waterfront properties and marinas, condominiums, townhouses or residential single family homes. Counsellors Title also features its own Attorney Settlement Assistance Program™ [ASAP], which is an individual resource customized to fit the needs specifically of real estate attorneys, including, Documentation, Preparation, Disbursement of Funds, Attendance at Closing, HUD Preparation or Post-Closing Matters.

A Closer Look – Monmouth County

The October sales numbers for Monmouth County came in a few days ago. Even though much of the nation is showing a slowdown not only in the price of homes but also in the number of transactions and sales, Monmouth County continues its upward trend in new listings, closed sales, median sales price and even percent of price received.  
The months supply of inventory fell as published by the National Association of Realtors indicates that total inventory for sale during the month of October fell from 3,198 to 2,784. This represents a 13% decrease in the number of homes for sale. The seller’s market continues unabated in Monmouth County.
In addition to the inventory available in Monmouth County, it appears that the months supply of homes on the market has also dipped by 13% from 5.4 months to 4.7 months.
In the Townhouse/Condo sector in Monmouth County, the numbers are also positive. New listings increased by 12.7% over 2017. Also closed sales increased by nearly 2% in October from those numbers in 2017. The mean sales price for a townhome in Monmouth County jumped dramatically from $256,000 to $291,000, an increase of 13.5%. There is also a significant shortage of condos available on the market, which fell to just 3.1 months of inventory available, represented by just 500 condos available on the market.
The adult community also increased in the median sales price jumping from $260,000 to $316,000, an increase of 21.5% year-over-year. The inventory of adult community homes on the market also fell down to three point two months.

If you have any questions about this information or title insurance, please contact Ralph Aponte: 732.914.1400.

Counsellors Title Agency, www.counsellorstitle.net, founded in 1996, is one of New Jersey’s most respected title agencies, serving all 21 New Jersey counties with title insurance, clearing title, escrow, tidelands searches, and closing and settlement services for commercial or industrial properties, waterfront properties and marinas, condominiums, townhouses or residential single family homes. Counsellors Title also features its own Attorney Settlement Assistance Program™ [ASAP], which is an individual resource customized to fit the needs specifically of real estate attorneys, including, Documentation, Preparation, Disbursement of Funds, Attendance at Closing, HUD Preparation or Post-Closing Matters.

Meet Us at Triple Play Booth 840

Counsellors Title Agency will be in attendance at

Triple Play Realtor Convention & Expo

Meet our team on the trade show floor down in Atlantic City!

Tuesday, Dec 4th and Wednesday, Dec 5th
Booth 840Atlantic City Convention Center
1 Convention Blvd, Atlantic City, NJ 08401
Ralph Aponte, President

Toms River Demos Over 4,000 Damaged Properties

According to a published report, Toms River had over 4,000 substantially damaged properties after Hurricane Sandy. Now it is down to a few hundred that remain in 2018. It is estimated that approximately 90% of these homes were rebuilt. The number of housing units that were demolished from 2008 to 2017 in Toms River totaled 2,587.

According to the report there were 1,108 demolitions in Toms River in 2013 and an additional 1,117 through 2017.

The second area that represented the largest number of demolished housing units from 2008 to 2017 was Ocean City in Cape May County. The total number of those demolished equaled 1,460.  Downtown Toms River

In Camden City, Camden County, the number of housing units demolished between 2008 and 2017 equaled 1,343. One of the largest residential demolition projects in New Jersey State history was launched in 2015, the county eliminated 591 structures.

Due to its close proximity and low-lying area, Jersey City in Hudson County came in at number four with 1,328 housing units demolished between 2008 and 2017.

Jersey City demolished 483 structures starting in 2015 and into the next two years.
A big reason why damaged houses have been in the bull’s-eye for many municipalities is that those residential properties have a negative impact upon neighborhoods, which bring down the quality of life and the value of neighboring properties.
Statistically Ocean County holds the number one spot for total demolitions between 2008 and 2017, equaling 10,496. Monmouth County came in second with 4,873. Bergen County came in at number 3 with 4,296 demolished properties. And then in the number 4 spot came Cape May with 3,799 properties that were demolished.
The county with the least number of demolitions due to storm damage was Warren County with 246 demolitions.
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