Department of Housing and Urban Development Accuses Facebook

The politics of advertising has now come home to roost, and in this case the rooster is Facebook. In an unexpected move on Friday, August 17th, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development said that Facebook allows advertisers to discriminate based on their race, color, religion, sex, familial status, national origin, disability, or other factors. 

According to HUD’s complaint, Facebook allows for advertisers to violate the Fair Housing Act in the following ways:

  • Display housing ads either only to men or women
  • Not show ads to Facebook users interested in an “assistance dog,” “mobility scooter,” “accessibility” or “deaf culture”
  • Not show ads to users whom Facebook categorizes as interested in “child care” or “parenting,” or show ads only to users with children above a specified age
  • To display/not display ads to users whom Facebook categorizes as interested in a particular place of worship, religion or tenet, such as the “Christian Church,” “Sikhism,” “Hinduism,” or the “Bible”
  • Not show ads to users whom Facebook categorizes as interested in “Latin America,” “Canada,” “Southeast Asia,” “China,” “Honduras,” or “Somalia”
  • Draw a red line around ZIP codes and then not display ads to Facebook users who live in specific ZIP codes

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

Counsellors Title Agency,, 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.


Economic Growth Increasing Mortgage Debt

There has been a lot of good economic news lately, but debit is growing.   A woman showing off her apple watch and the amazing display on the watch screen

Mortgage rates are basically stable right now; real estate appreciation has slowed down, supported by a stronger economy. In addition, consumer confidence is stronger with wages going higher and unemployment going lower. The optimism is the primary force causing people to take on additional debt; primarily mortgage debt.

But it’s not just one kind of debt. In addition to mortgage debt there, are auto loans, credit cards, and even student loans.

The Federal Reserve Bank of New York issued its latest quarterly report on Household Debt and Credit in which it indicates in the second quarter of 2018, total household debt in the United States increased by $82 billion. This translates into a collective total of $13.29 trillion in overall debt.

It’s a little disconcerting that this number has increased now for the 16th consecutive quarter.

How does this look in the light of historic numbers? According to the Fed report, the overall debt now is $618 billion higher than the previous peak or high, which was $12.68 trillion in the third quarter of 2008.

There’s both good news and bad news in this: it appears that $82 billion of this debt came from mortgages. Mortgages represented a $60 billion bump from the first quarter, to the second quarter and right now the total debt attributed to mortgages stands at $9 trillion. To some this can be concerning, but back in 2008 and 2009, the credit criteria for getting a loan was much more flexible and generous. Today, the criteria for getting a loan on a home are much stricter. Also it appears that the economy, the true economy, is growing at a strong 3% annual rate.

Even the Fed states that the small increase in mortgage originations represents a relatively stable movement which has taken place over the last six quarters.

Other statistics
■ The median credit score for new originating borrowers was 760.
■ Mortgage delinquencies have been falling with approximately 1% of current balance moving into delinquency status.
■ Only 76,000 individuals had a foreclosure notation added to a credit report between April 1st and June 30th.
■ HELOC balances saw a drop of $4 billion for the second quarter and now are at $432, a $20 billion reduction from where we were in 2017.
■ Student loans increased year-over-year by $61 billion to $1.41 trillion.
■ Auto debt rose by $9 billion to $1.24 trillion.
■ Credit card debt increased $14 billion in the second quarter and now is $829 billion.

First-time Home Buyers Jumping In

According to the report published by the Urban Institute, first-time home buyers are beginning to represent a broader percentage of total mortgage applications.

Despite the fact that affordability continues to thwart many first-timers, they are still forging in to enter the home-buying market.

This is a relatively new trend considering the fact that first-timers haven’t been a major factor in the housing market since the Great Recession of 2007-08.

According to the report, first-time home buyers represent a higher percentage for FHA loans. The FHA loan allows for a lower down payment with a lower credit score. The recent report showed that the FHA first-time home buyers accounted for 83% of today’s market, which is higher than the historical average of 80%. Back during the recession, FHA first-time home buyers represented only 75% of the loans.

The rising percentage of first-time home buyers is being attributed to a decrease in the number of repeat-buyers and current owners, according to the report. Repeat-buyers from 2001 to 2007 represented 1.4 to 1.8 million homes per year, but now repeat-buyers account for about 1 million homes.

The Urban Institute indicated that as the market has improved, home equity has increased to the point where now it has incentivized homeowners to jump back into the market. But instead of ‘jumping-in’ they are doing home renovations. Analysts believe that current homeowners with accumulated home equity are investing in their homes rather than upgrading. This is being seen as the reason Home Depot reported such strong sales for the second quarter of 2018.

The view is that current owners are sitting tight, and first-timers are jumping in because they don’t see the market trend slowing down. This shift comes on the heels of the fourth quarter 2017 where first-time home buyers fell to the lowest level since 1981. Now with the resurgence of the economy, first-time home buyers are willing to battle the rise in home prices, unaffordability, and shortage of available homes including starter homes.

New Jersey Weather: Flooding, States of Emergency, Waterspout

This summer New Jersey almost qualifies as the rainforest state, with the huge amount of rainfall including Monday’s plus the 10 inches of rain that fell during the month of July. In just the last 45 days, some places in the Garden State have received 20 inches of rain.

Overall, this has been one crazy wet summer: flooding, states of emergency being declared, waterspouts off the coast of Long Beach Island, National Weather Service issuing flash flood warnings, thunderstorms, and Spring Lake had a three-block section completely closed due to flooded roads.

Brick Township again reported nearly 8 inches of rain by Monday afternoon. Remember that it was Brick Township that reported nearly 8 inches of rain for the month of July, a record.

Flash flood warnings were issued throughout Ocean and southeastern Monmouth Counties on Monday as well.

The Passaic River also rose significantly to 19.6 ft, which is half a foot above flood stage.

In Sea Girt, numerous roads were flooded and closed to traffic Monday morning, and some traffic signals were out, according to the weather service.

Other areas receiving significant rainfall totals were:
Berkeley Township in Ocean County, with 3.85 inches
Pennsauken in Camden County, with 3.63 inches
Cedar Bridge in Ocean County, with 2.46 inches

New Jersey’s Prime Logistics Lease Rents Up

New Jersey’s central location is proving to be an advantage when it comes to commercial rents.

According to a recent report issued by CBRE, New Jersey’s Prime Logistics Lease Rents, the highest achievable lease rates for top quality warehouses and distribution center space have increased by a whopping 9.5% year-over-year.

Part of the rise for the prime logistic rent rates is the result of the booming economy over the last 18 months, domestically as well as globally, and its dramatic impact on both domestic and international shipments of products.

According to the report, there is a greater demand for distribution of goods coming from both online and traditional retail stores.

Since New Jersey has numerous shopping malls, strip malls and retail shops, this is particularly good news.

These statistics point to a healthy barometer of the strength and momentum of the global markets and the demand across the country.

Other markets experiencing bumps in logistic rents were Oakland and Seattle.

These numbers, coupled with July’s employment report, indicate that, according to CBRE, the U.S. economy remains on solid footing.

Unfortunately New Jersey’s Toys R Us bankruptcy had an impact upon the total U.S. job gain, as well as New Jersey’s GDP.

Conversely, since the majority of New Jersey’s major employers are health care providers, that sector shows strong growth in jobs, wages, and employers.

Monmouth County’s Top 10 Employers

1 Hackensack Meridian Health  
Number of Employees: 12,794
2 Saker Shoprites Inc.
Number of Employees: 3,319
3 CentraState Healthcare Inc.
Number of Employees: 2,646
4 RWJ Barnabas – Monmouth Medical Center
Number of Employees: 1,920
5 Monmouth University
Number of Employees: 1,506
6 NJ Resources
Number of Employees: 1,020
7 Visiting Nurse Association of Central Jersey
Number of Employees: 1,020
8 Commvault
Number of Employees: 892
9 Erickson Living – Seabrook Village
Number of Employees: 850
10 Food Circus Supermarkets Inc.
Number of Employees: 750



Low Inventory + Inflation = Unaffordability

A recent report published by Case-Shiller indicates that home prices are growing at least twice the rate of inflation. This creates a gap between growth of business, wages, income and the price of a home, especially in tony West Coast markets.

In the case of West Coast homes, the double-digit increases for the average home price in May may only be temporary. Overall, average prices nationally, according to Case-Shiller, increased only 6.4% in May.

Still, there is some trepidation and concern stemming from higher-end markets such as Seattle, so much so that it appears that new inventory is coming onto the market that will ultimately stabilize the accelerating trends. Too much inventory is never good for any market.

Even in trendy Southampton, Long Island, the average medium-sized home dipped below one million dollars just recently. This reflects that buyers are becoming more judicious in what they’re willing to pay for a house. It also may be the result of less demand for higher-priced homes due to the income tax deduction limits from the recently passed tax reform.

As reported, Seattle, Las Vegas, and San Francisco increased over 10% in the last year.

Now it appears over the last few years that year-to-year increases of 5% are the new normal.

As new construction continues to help fill-in the inventory gap, and foreclosures and REOs are drying up, we’re starting to see a more normal market, normal in that it has no shadow inventory and with mortgage rates that reflect a recovered economy.

In addition, rent growth has basically stabilized to sustainable levels, which is another healthy sign that we are arriving at some level of equilibrium.

How Property Closings Differ in Ocean Grove

Most counties and townships throughout the state of New Jersey deal with questions of title and deed in the same way. One town in Monmouth County requires that any properties that are purchased call for what is described as a leasehold deed.

Ocean Grove is an area owned by the Camp Meeting Association.

Homes are bought and sold using what is described as a leasehold deed.

Such a legal instrument provides an individual with the functionality and their rights that are associated with the actual ownership of the land but is not the actual ownership of the property. That property belongs to the Camp Meeting Association and it is leased to the individual occupying the house on that property.

In the case of Ocean Grove, these leaseholds are issued on 99-year leases. Such leasehold can be passed down to the individuals heirs.

These leasehold deeds permit the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association to collect ground rent. In the case of Ocean Grove, such ground rent is typically $10 per year.

Such leasehold Deeds or ground leases for residential properties are extremely unique and unusual.

The Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association does not collect property taxes for such properties, but rather that property tax is assessed and collected by Neptune Township.

This brings about the need for a clear understanding on the difference between a title and a deed. Titles are different from Deeds.

The title for property is the specific and legal term given to identifying an individual as having the right to something. In most cases, title indicates that you have the legal right to the use of that property.

A title may give the individual access to the land but also the potential ability to modify it as seen fit. The title also indicates that the title holder can transfer their interest or portion of that property to others.

Deeds, on the other hand, are different. The deed is actually the legal document that transfers the title from one individual to another individual. One of the requirements for a Deed is that it must be a written document.

In the case of a deed, all Deeds must be recorded in the courthouse or the assessor’s office in order to make them fully binding in the states that they are in.

In the event that a deed has not been filed with the assessor or courthouse in that county or district, that deed is determined to be not perfected.

This article contains general information and does not contain legal advice. Counsellors Title is not a law firm or a substitute for an attorney or a law firm. Any matter dealing with the law or issues of the law require the attention of professional legal advice coming from an attorney. Please consult with your own attorney with respect to matters of title, deed, transfer a property of property purchases.

NJ Unemployment at 4.3%

Employment in the Garden State was essentially unchanged in June, while the state’s unemployment rate continued its downward trend, dipping to 4.3 percent.

Overall, the growth of the recent economy is giving everybody a great deal of optimism. Total number of new construction jobs over the past year equal 308,000. In July alone, construction employment increased by 19,000. This bodes well for the construction of new and starter homes, which are in short supply. But the cost of those homes in general will go up because of the cost of materials, the cost of labor, and the scarcity of available land on which to build. According to the NJ Department of Labor, “Looking at the longer-term, over the year June 2017 – June 2018, employment in New Jersey was higher by 43,900, with the majority of the gains recorded by private-sector employers (+42,100). Since February 2010 (the low point of the last recession), New Jersey’s private sector employers have added 372,100 jobs.”

The positive thing about a recovered economy is that it gives everybody more buying power. The downside of more buying power is everything costs more because people are able to pay more.

The Wall Street Journal reported, “Executives at some of America’s largest companies are struggling to raise prices, a move that’s aimed at offsetting higher costs for raw materials and labor.”

The Bureau of Labor came out with excellent numbers of 3.9% unemployment. For the various demographic segments, these were the numbers:

■ Unemployment for men was 3.4%
■ Unemployment for teenagers was 12.6%
■ Unemployment for whites was 3.4%
■ Unemployment for blacks was 6.6%
■ Unemployment for Asians was 3.1%
■ Unemployment for Hispanics 4.5%

The non-farm payroll employment increased by 157,000 jobs in July. This compared with the average monthly gain of 203,000 over the last 12 months.

Areas that showed the highest gains in employment were:

■ Professional and business services increased 51,000
■ Manufacturing increased 37,000
■ Health care and social assistance increased 34,000
■ Construction increased 19,000

Counsellors Title Agency currently serves all 21 counties in New Jersey.

About Counsellors Title and Ralph Aponte
Ralph Aponte began his business career as a title searcher in 1983. After founding Counsellors Title Agency in 1996, his hard work and collegial enthusiasm grew the title/escrow agency into one of New Jersey’s premier property title agencies, writing thousands of policies for home owners, businesses and institutions since inception. He is a lifelong New Jersey resident and businessman. With over 30 years’ experience specializing in title insurance and title research, Ralph has built his repertoire of business tools to include management, commercial and business development. Counsellors Title Agency [CTA] maintains an outstanding customer retention record of over 95 percent. Today, CTA’s impeccable track record over the last 21 years is one on which hundreds of attorneys, loan officers and Realtors have come to rely. Counsellors Title Agency, Inc. has consistently provided swift and knowledgeable title insurance settlement and search expertise for thousands of New Jersey’s attorneys, loan officers, Realtors, borrowers and purchasers. CTA’s detail-oriented team of professionals streamlines the complexities of a real estate transaction to make each one stress and glitch-free.

Counsellors Title Agency is a full service agency specializing in delivering reliable, professional title insurance and settlement services to the New Jersey real estate industry and those who serve it. For more information, please contact Ralph Aponte, 732.914.1400 or go to the company website for a free quote or more information.

U.S. Homebuilding: Outlook Stays Positive on Employment, Low Inventory, Aging Millennials

Momentum in key underlying drivers of housing demand offset signs of nascent headwinds, with the homebuilding expansion and the overall economic expansion showing few signs of slowing.

Housing Market

The outlook for the US homebuilding sector remains positive, reflecting Moody’s analysts’ expectations with respect to the fundamental business conditions in the industry over the next 12 to 18 months.

Among the highlights:

■ Momentum in key underlying drivers of housing demand offset signs of nascent headwinds, with the homebuilding expansion, now in year seven, and the overall economic expansion, now in year nine, showing few signs of slowing
■ Millennials, the biggest population cohort in the US, are entering the housing market – both for purchases and for rentals – in powerful and increasing numbers

■ Consolidation within the homebuilding industry continues briskly, with homebuilders finding it cheaper and quicker to enter new markets, and easier to go much deeper in existing markets, by buying competitors rather than “green fielding”

Credit metrics continue to improve for much of the homebuilding industry, with debt leverage gradually being reduced, interest coverage strengthening, and gross margins slowing and even stopping their recent declines

Moody’s analysts weighed in on the homebuilding outlook and analysts’ expectations for ongoing industry consolidation.

“We remain positive on the US homebuilding market, as momentum in key underlying drivers of housing demand offsets signs of nascent headwinds,” stated Joseph A. Snider, Moody’s vice president. “The homebuilding expansion, now in year seven, and the overall economic expansion, now in year nine, show few signs of slowing, despite rising interest rates and trade war anxieties that are beginning to raise recession fears.”

“We view the homebuilding industry as still having significant further room for consolidation,” added Natalia Gluschuk, Moody’s assistant vice president. “We believe acquisitions will be selective and well-spaced out, and expect public-to-public large transformational purchases to continue as builders compete for market share, while public-to-private purchases will extend reach into new and existing markets.”

July New Jersey Rain-Out

July was not just a wet month, it was most likely one of the rainiest July’s in recorded for the state of New Jersey in recent memory. But as far as being the wettest, it ranks as only the 24th wettest July on record, according to Rutgers University.

The town claiming the highest amount of rain in the month of July was Woodbridge, where a total of 10.24 inches fell.

Based on averages by the National Weather Service, New Jersey receives on average 4.57 inches of rain during a typical July. This month was not typical.

The northern section of the state usually receives 4.75 inches of rain, and Monmouth and Ocean counties received an average of 4.16 inches for the month of July.

The overall record for the amount of rain for the state of New Jersey is 11.37 inches and that was recorded back in 1897.

County Rainfall Inches Town       Inches Average
Hudson County:                   Harrison       5.96 / 4.75
Middlesex County:               Woodbridge 10.24 / 4.49
Monmouth County:             Howell             7.25 / 4.30
Morris County:                     Roxbury         9.65 / 4.75
Ocean County:                      Brick Twsp    9.66 / 4.30
Passaic County:                    Ringwood      7.98 / 4.75
Sussex County:                     Hardyston    9.39 / 4.75
Union County:                      Cranford       7.04 / 4.75

This soggy July balances out June, which ranks as the 57th driest June, tied with 2011.



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