NJ Gets a Month’s Worth of Rain

This past Tuesday’s thunderstorms dropped over a month’s worth of rain in some Jersey Shore towns, most of which fell in a few hours.

One, not-so–lucky town received nearly 5 inches of rain, while others recorded rainfall of 3 inches to over 1 inch.

Flash flooding occurred across the region. especially in Princeton, Edison, Cherry Hill and Willingboro.

All 21 New Jersey municipalities recorded least 1 inch of rain.
Here are some of the unofficial totals:

1. Brick: 4.55 inches of rain
2. Point Pleasant: 3.56 inches
3. Seaside Heights: 3.19 inches
4. Manasquan: 3.06 inches
5. Piney Hollow in Franklin, Gloucester County: 2.43 inches
6. Berkeley: 2.26
7. Wall. 2.18

 

Working With Google Reviews Part 1

Google Reviews are becoming more important within the digital world of AI [artificial intelligence]. Since the Google My Business listing is part of Google Maps, the listing is used not only for directional information, but it becomes another way that a business can achieve accreditation within its business niche, especially if it conducts business from a location where clients need to come to Counsellors Title location for their closings real estate closings.   A Google search page for the word “analytics” on a mobile phone

Research has found that a whopping 92 percent of consumers check online reviews for local businesses, with 73 percent of these people making a decision after reading six reviews or less.

It’s clear that online reviews are incredibly important, which makes tracking and managing them essential for business owners. But why are consumers drawn to these reviews in the first place?

The Importance of Good Reviews

A digital review, especially on Google, is a classic example of Word of Mouth Marketing.  According to a ReeVoo reported: It found that  68% of consumers trust reviews more when they see both good and bad scores, while 30% suspect censorship or faked reviews when they don’t see anything negative at all. Reviews, especially good reviews aren’t left to chance; you should take steps to encourage customers to leave reviews. Also, you should respond appropriately to negative feedback. The result of good reviews called social proof.

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.

Monmouth County Sees Low Vacancy Rates

A press release issued by Gebroe-Hammer reports record low vacancy rates within the Middlesex, and Monmouth counties of New Jersey. 

The company cited that markets including East Middlesex, Bradley Beach, Perth Amboy, Eatontown and Neptune are areas that continue to attract investment.

The press release cited that there are over 177,000 apartment units within this central New Jersey metro area. According to the press release, the region has a historically stable occupancy rate which is projected to exceed 97% through 2022. This positive trend is expected to see a modest increase for rents within the region.

Generally speaking, the Central Jersey region has limited tracts of land for potential new construction, and those that are available are being purchased now at a speedy rate.

Certain towns, such as Bradley Beach about a mile south of Asbury Park, recently sold a multi-unit property that was just one block from the oceanfront. The units contained studios, one and two-bedroom units. One of the features that Bradley Beach offers is its dedicated New Jersey Transit railroad station.

According to the press release, the vacancy rate within this Shore submarket is around 2.7% and it is expected to shrink further by the end of 2019 to 2.5%. Rents are expected to increase by 1.5% in 2018 and potentially going to rise by 2.2% and 2.0%, respectively for the years 2019 and 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.

Is New Jersey Affordable?

If you consider California or Seattle as markets compared to New Jersey, New Jersey clearly is an affordable market.

Considering the appreciation and the cost of a mortgage currently, the rate of home purchases has slowed slightly over the past few months, but New Jersey still represents a seller’s market.

Higher interest rates and the inability of the construction industry to keep up with demand has kept buyers for the most part in a tight market. Even though the percent of price received by sellers in most cases is in the 97-98% bracket, it’s still not California, where homes are frequently subject to bidding wars.

As mentioned in a CNBC report, San Diego reported the largest growth of inventory coming in at 22% year-over-year. This is compounded by the shift from increased inventory to decrease inventory.

In New Jersey, closed sales for May fell to 7,362 single-family homes. This decrease of 1.8% year-over-year is reflecting the 17.2% decrease in homes for sale on the market. Also, days-on-market continue to shrink from 71 days in 2017 to 64 days in 2018. Additionally, the month supply of homes has fallen from 6.5 months to 5.1 months, according to New Jersey Realtors Association.

There is a small bit of good news for the buyers out there: new listings jumped to 13,000, up from the 12,713 reported 12 months prior.

Probably the group that has felt the brunt of the inventory shortage is the loan officers, as there has been reported in June a decrease of 9% in mortgage applications.

Slowly, the average sale price for a single-family home has been creeping up from September 2017, but is not near the $414,000 mark reported back in June 2017.

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.

Home Prices Aren’t the Only Things Rising

We recently cited a number of industry reporting agencies indicating that home prices over the last 12 months have grown between 6 and 7% on an annual basis.

But the 7% growth rate for single family homes isn’t the only thing that continues to go higher.

On top of projected home price increases for 2019 of 5-6%, mortgage rates are also moving higher as home buyers are scurrying for homes and paying more due to the rise in interest rates. Mortgage rates and home prices are not alone in driving prices higher; there are other factors including the cost of materials and wages for skilled workers.

It is no secret that builders are having a hard time keeping up with the demand and finding workers for the projects.

But New York City seems to be showing signs of a stall, where buyers are holding off on paying more to purchase a property.

In New Jersey, the days-on-market are flat, where the average home stays on the market between 55-60 days. On the West Coast, properties in Seattle and San Francisco are selling at a faster pace, sometimes within a week. Considering Jersey’s abundant foreclosure inventory and its slow economic recovery, compared to the rest of the nation, New Jersey seems to have found an even rhythm to the buy and sell ‘beat of the market.’

 

Small Business Cyber Security

Businesses today must take cyber security more seriously than they do.
Some of the statistics surrounding cyber-attacks see more than 4,000 attacks taking place every single day.

And according to the FBI, 90% of the small and medium size businesses in the United States do not use data protection for their company and their customers’ information.

One reason that small businesses do not take cyber security more seriously is the cost attached to protecting a business on the web.

A sobering statistic from the National Cyber Security Alliance states that, “60% of small businesses will go out of business within 6 months following a cyber-attack.”

Here are some ways that small businesses can protect their data better:
1. Maintain secure access points. This includes password protection, multi-factor authentication and other access controls.
2. Employ necessary software solutions that block malware, viruses, spyware, and ransomware.
3. Put together a recovery plan. The important factor involving a recovery plan is the way that companies back up their data. According to the FCC, 47% of businesses say that they never backed up the data.

The way to implement a back-up plan is to employ cloud backup services that call for automatically backing up new and changed files.

 

The Wave Continues

The wave isn’t, in this case, the tide on the Jersey Shore, but the prices of homes nationwide. According to the reports that have been coming out in 2018, home prices are on the rise and are going to continue to do so for the next 12 months.

The numbers, across the board, are quite impressive. CoreLogic reported last week that home prices have increased by 7.1% nationally from May 2017 to May 2018. In just the last month, from April to May 2017, home prices have increased 1.1%, representing a double-digit appreciation trend line.

Right now, the engine of the economy is firing on all cylinders. Jobs are being created, pay is increasing, and optimism is leading the way in this historic economic and real estate boom.

Most likely, the biggest factor for home appreciation is the scarcity of inventory nationwide.

With the supply shortage, that have been affecting this market for the last 2 years, buyers who have the cash for the down payment and the credit line are much less patient to wait and shop for the perfect dream home.

Even in the higher mortgage rate environment of the second quarter, where the average May mortgage rate was 4.6%, is increasing numbers of homeowners are willing (and having) to pay rather than miss out, and have to pay significantly more in the months and the years to come.

Over-Valuation
What is causing some concern is that many of the reporting agencies, including CoreLogic, see that 40% of metropolitan areas are overvalued as of May 2018.

What makes this different from the grand market collapse that occurred in 2007 is that 26% of the top 100 metropolitan areas are looked upon as being undervalued, with another 34% seen as valued correctly.

According to CoreLogic, the Home Price Index is projected to increase by 5.1% over the next 12 months.

 

New Jersey Is Attracting Home Buyers

We recently reported: New Jersey’s population broke the 9 million person mark this year. Obviously the strong economy that we experienced for the last 2 years has contributed to some of this.

But there are a few facts that are moving the needle forward, especially in the case of New Jersey real estate. New Jersey has seen a marked increase in home sales; even though the national numbers have dipped, New Jersey hasn’t.

Other factors changing the dynamics of the Jersey real estate market includes entrance of the first-time home buyer. As compared to Queens, Brooklyn, Westchester and Connecticut, New Jersey is seen as a value market, especially when it comes to its educational system, which ranks tops in the nation.

Proximity is also a value seen by newly formed families: good neighborhoods, good schools, and its transportation infrastructure.

According to some recently published stories, Rutgers is about to publish a report indicating that New Jersey is showing a shift in positive migration patterns.

In a comparison with the New York boroughs, New Jersey is starting to look good again.

But Brooklyn, for the first time, seems to be losing people. In 2017, according to a report, it lost 2,000 people. But what was happening in New Jersey is that in 2017, the population migration shifted and it is basically flat right now. Brooklyn prices are surging out of reach, especially for the first-time home buyer. One report shows that the average sales price for a Brooklyn home was $788,000, while the average price for a Queens home came in at $452,000.
Brooklyn also showed a 9.6% increase in the average median home value. Zillow is reporting that this is expected to continue to rise throughout 2018 by 6.6%.
What is especially attractive is that certain counties, such as Monmouth, show a renaissance of businesses and attractions, including the Arts Center and the new Monmouth Medical Center 10-story expansion.
And everyone knows that Asbury Park real estate is booming.

Even the Monmouth Mall is set for a complete redevelopment.

Other important metrics contributing to New Jersey’s economic stability include:
■ New Jersey’s job growth, in the past 12 months, climbed from 39th in the nation, to 25th in the nation according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.
■ Consumers are in better financial shape, with 3.7% of New Jerseyans showing that debt balances were down significantly in the second quarter of 2017.
■ The median household income climbed to $76,126, which is third in the nation, an improvement from just one year ago when it was fifth in the nation.
■ According to the New Jersey Realtors, the median sales price for a single-family home in Monmouth County climbed to $416,000.

Stay tuned for more.

NJ Towns Targeting DWI Driving

As we officially enter the 2018 summer Jersey Shore season of fun, there are certain towns that appear to be on the lookout for those individuals who are a bit careless with their alcohol intake. Some of these towns you might expect to be high on DWI arrests but some of them are a little smaller than others, and based upon the square mileage of the town, they represent a higher percentage of DWI arrests for the year 2016-2017. 

Topping the list is Seaside Heights which, for 2016-17, reported a total of 140 DWI arrests. Good news is that were there fewer arrests than they had in the prior year period.

In some cases the number of DWIs is actually falling, and this benefit we are saying possibly is the result of more Uber drivers out there helping people to stay out of their cars when they’ve had too much to drink.

The town that came in number 2 is Wildwood city, which during the 2016-17 season reported 140 DWI arrests, which is 23 fewer than they had in the previous year. During the 2015-16 season, they reported 163 people being arrested for DWI.

Now here comes a town that you wouldn’t expect: Allenhurst, New Jersey. Allenhurst, reported for 2016-17, a total of 24 DWI arrests, which is 9 more than the previous year.

Coming in at number 4 is Deal, New Jersey, which reported a total of 52 DWI arrests during the 2016-17 season.

In the number 5 spot comes Bradley Beach, New Jersey. Bradley Beach reported a total of 23 DWI arrests, which is a slight increase from the prior period.

Number 6 is Loch Arbour, which, despite its small square mileage, reported five DWI arrests.

Number 7 and 8 are Wildwood Crest, which reported a total of 44 DWIs, and Belmar, which reported a total of 51 arrested as compared to 34 for the prior year.

 

The Role of Title Insurance

Traditional insurance policies protect insureds against future losses. Title insurance relates to the ownership of property title and liabilities that may effect that stem from claims for past occurrences. 

Who does title insurance protect?

Two different types of title insurance exist. A real estate owner can choose to purchase title insurance and lenders can elect to do so as well. Lenders will require title insurance by mortgagors in order to secure their security interest in the property. Furthermore, a property owner will purchase title insurance to protect their investment in their property.

How the purchase of title insurance differs from other types of insurance.

As with traditional insurance companies, that often involve required monthly payments, title insurance only requires a one-time payment. This insurance will vary according to the price on your home and according to the state that you will purchase a home.

The necessity of title insurance.

The fact is that title insurance has protected a large amount of insureds. An estimated 4-5% of title insureds have been paid been paid out on their policy. However, these problems protected by the claims were unlikely to be detected by an ordinary purchaser. Only title insurance would protect the homeowner purchasers.

Common types of title insurance claims include:

  • Undiscovered Liens
  • Omitted Heirs
  • Fraud
  • Errors in the public record

What specific claims does title insurance cover?

These claims include certain errors that were made in inputting information into the public record. A title examiner will assess the title by analyzing the chain of ownership of the house. They will insure that the property passed either by sale, through will, or maybe even in a gift to the correct and intended person.

The short end is that a title policy protects that small group that has a problem. Title insurance is a valuable protection for home purchasers since this group really has no way of detecting the problem before it arises. To be safe, it it is worth to spend the average cost of $834 for title insurance.

For more information about title insurance and how it protects home owners, contact Ralph Aponte, President, Counsellors Title Agency. 732.914.1400.

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