NJ Investing in Business for Tomorrow

In light of the $7 billion incentive to lure Amazon to call NJ home to its new HQ2 headquarters, New Jersey has ‘invested’ billions more to bring the jobs to the Garden State.

Since 1996, the state has issued $8.9 billion in subsidies, attracting some of Wall Street’s biggest players.

The Economic Development Authority (EDA), the state group responsible for overseeing and administering subsidy packages, said not every company that signs an incentive agreement receives the entire subsidy award. In fact, several of largest incentive deals in this list have yet to be initiated, which means the companies have not received the full payout of the subsidy.

That’s because companies need to pass several thresholds in order to get the payout. It needs to complete construction, invest a certain amount of capital and hire a specific number of people before the EDA grants it certification for subsidy payouts.

Available state data indicates that for many of these projects, little of the money awarded by the EDA has been credited to companies.

JPMorgan Chase Bank
JPMorgan Chase used the 2014 subsidy award to expand its presence in New Jersey, according to the Economic Development Authority. The state required the company to transfer its 2,612 employees working elsewhere in the state to Jersey City and to create 1,000 new jobs. The Economic Development Authority has so far certified about $22 million in credits.
Subsidy size: $224,835,000 over 10 years, awarded in 2014 and located in Jersey City.

Sayreville Seaport Associates
Sayreville Seaport Associates, which is majority owned by Prudential, received the subsidy award in 2014 to build Luxury Point, a new shopping mall and housing development, according to the Economic Development Authority. State data shows the company said in 2014 it would create 3,900 new jobs. The EDA has not yet certified subsidy credits for the company.
Subsidy size: $223,277,590 over 20 years, awarded in 2014, located in Sayreville.

Prudential Financial
New Jersey gave Prudential the subsidy in 2012 to leave its Gateway complex and build a new office tower in Newark. The company said it would create 400 new jobs, bringing in 100 employees from out of state. State data shows the EDA has so far approved $21 million in subsidy credits. The tower opened in September 2015.
Subsidy size: $210,828,357 over 20 years, awarded in 2011 and located in Newark.

JPMorgan Chase Bank
JPMorgan Chase used the 2015 subsidy award to move about 2,000 jobs from New York to Jersey City, bringing the company’s numbers at the campus up to 7,000. The company has not begun receiving subsidy credits, according to state data. Subsidy size: $187,800,000 over 10 years, awarded in 2015; located in Jersey City

Goldman Sachs
The company used the 2002 award to move its equity sales, trading operations, and its research and data departments to Jersey City. The company created about 2,400 jobs, most of them employees who transferred from New York, according to the Economic Development Authority. The state has approved about $115 million in subsidy credits.
Subsidy size: $164,300,000 over 10 years and was awarded in 2000; located in Jersey City

American Water Works Company
American Water is the largest publicly traded water and wastewater utility company in the U.S., according to its website. State data shows the state gave the company the subsidy to build its new headquarters in Camden. American Water said it would retain about 600 jobs and add an additional 100. The company has not begun receiving subsidy credits, according to state data.
Subsidy size: $164,200,000 over 10 years; it was awarded in 2015, located in Camden

Merry Christmas

Wishing all of our friends, clients, and associates a Wonderful, Merry Christmas.

The office will reopen on Tuesday, December 26th at 8:30am.

Merry Christmas to All

Counsellors Title Agency will close December 222 at 5:00pm
and reopen on December 26 at 8:30am.


Celebrating the Battle of Trenton

The battles won in 2017 will pave the way to the victories obtained in 2018.

Some of the things that I refer to as battles are the daily disciplines that are necessary to pave the way to success in the coming seasons.

Maybe we can learn a little bit from history but our nation was actually born from the battles fought and won in the state of New Jersey. The United States of America wouldn’t have been born without the Battle of Trenton.

It appears that George Washington was on his way to losing the Revolutionary War. It was a war that no one expected the colonies to win. His enemies, the British and the for-hire army of German Hessians, appeared to have matters in hand, and were celebrating the victory before the final capitulation.

Washington was in retreat, leaving New York and moving through New Jersey during one of the most severe winters ever recorded in 1776-7.

But instead of running from the battle, he took the battle to places the enemy never expected. Washington achieved the spectacular surprise success at the Battle of Trenton on December 26th, 1776. He gathered his men and had them row across the Delaware in the middle of the night. They attacked the Hessian garrison at sunrise while the men were still drunk and sleepy from their Christmas celebrations the night before.

Washington was successful because he was willing to keep his head and think outside the box. He was also willing to do the thing that was uncomfortable but necessary.

Instead of fighting his battles in a traditional manner, he employed guerrilla tactics. Later, using the same type of tactics, he successfully wiped out a British column on the road to Princeton. But with the help of the French, he pushed the British back into the peninsula at Yorktown and brought the war to a close. His ability to continually maneuver (a French word) and innovate in the midst of war would be the key to victory.

January Looks Piping-Hot For Sellers in 2018

Inventory Shortages Still a Big Factor
National Housing Inventory Decreases 10.5% in the Fourth Quarter

In New Jersey, inventory has had some demonstrative changes:
In October 2015, there were 49,552 single family homes on the market.
In October 2017, there were 36,543 single family homes on the market.
In October 2015, there was 9.2 months’ supply of single family homes on the market.
In October 2017, there was 5.3 months’ supply of single family homes on the market.
In October 2016 in Monmouth County, there were 3,595 single family homes on the market.
In October 2017 in Monmouth County, there were just 2,808 single family homes on the market.
This represents a 21.9% decrease in the inventories but also in the overall market conditions.

Ocean County did not match Monmouth County’s loss in inventory, but still, it posted sizable decreases in single family inventory of homes for sale with 4,864 on the market in October 2016 and just 4,095 in October 2017, a 15.8% decrease.

Overall, as the economy continues to heat up, we can expect that January is going to reflect an atypical buying frenzy to start 2018.

We have seen some dramatic changes in the number of closed sales in New Jersey.
In September 2011 that number was 3,916.
In October 2017 that compared to 6,871, representing almost 100% improvement.

It also appears that the demand for homes is still there but the price appreciation is not. Some of this can be attributed to the fact that the economy in New Jersey has basically flatlined for about a decade. In addition to that, taxes on real estate had moved up significantly.

Another area where there are shifts is found in the inventory of homes for sale.

  • In September 2011 the number of single-family homes listed for sale was 56,092
  • In October 2017 that number was dramatically lower at 36,543

In some parts of the country, they are beginning to see sluggish signs of growth. As the economy continues to gain momentum and housing inventory remains anemic, demand for homes will continue to rise, ultimately pushing prices higher. The fact that home prices are not skyrocketing is a very healthy sign of a good economy.

Since it’s obvious that home prices are not going down, and wages – especially blue-collar wages – are getting stronger, many potential buyers are stepping up to buy.

In addition, another factor supporting this market is the relatively low mortgage rates that are giving first-time buyers an opportunity to jump into this market.

Credit scores for individuals are also on the rise, giving individuals a better crack at offering a winning bid for a house. According to the Federal Reserve survey, 60% of newly originated mortgages have gone to those with a credit core score of 760 or above. Back when the market crashed that figure was 30% lower. Credit is still tight but credit is available.

Since 1996, Counsellors Title Agency had provided swift, proven 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.

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

Builder Confidence Erupts to 18-Year High

Highest Since 1999
The National Association of Home Builders’ index climbed dramatically in December reflecting a robust expectation for a stronger economy moving into 2018. The monthly homebuilder index rose five points to 74, with 50 being the threshold point determining whether builders are positive or negative. This is the highest reading since 1999. This report reflects an approximate jump of nearly 9% since December 2016, when builder sentiment was measured at just 69.

This seems to reflect a shift in builders’ opinion of the new tax plan proposed, seeing more incentives in the plan than negatives. Initially, the homebuilders had opposed the Republican tax plan, which will make significant changes to both the mortgage interest deduction and property tax deductions. What appeared to be the turning point in builder sentiment were three elements that go into the index: buyer traffic, sales conditions, and sales expectations. Buyer traffic jumped eight points to 58; current sales conditions rose four points to 81; and sales expectations in the next six months increased three points to 79.

Low Inventory? No Problem

We’ve heard all about how bad the inventory problem is and how the affordability is putting a pinch on first-time buyers. But some individuals just don’t take No for an answer. There are people who take homeownership to a new level.

Here is an example of two containers being converted into a container home.

With an exterior that defies convention and an interior that is light and airy, this home seems to have it all.





Energize Your Business for 2018

One of the most useful bloggers out there is Melyssa Griffin.

She has compiled a list of 20 things you can do to re-energize your business.
1. Put something on the calendar: A meeting, an event, a deadline.
2. Reach out to new contacts: Are there a couple business people out there who you totally admire?
3. Reconnect with old contacts: Whether it’s someone you met at an event, a former client, or someone who used to be a big part of your life. If it’s been a while, maybe it’s time to take them out for a work lunch!
4. Sign up for a conference: Meeting others in your line of work face-to-face is a wonderful thing to increase your opportunity matrix.
5. Find a meetup: If you’re looking for a way to connect with professionals in your area, a meetup is the way to go.
6. Start planning a creative event: Plan your very own event or luncheon.
7. Actually make phone calls: Too much of business is conducted over email. Buck the trend and call someone.
8. Schedule time with a mentor: Reach out to them today and schedule a time to meet up, strategize, and work through some of your current roadblocks.
9. Craft your business plan for 2018: Map out your 2018 goals.
10. Take an inventory of your last 6 months: Sometimes to move forward, it’s important to look back. Think through your last 6 months. What worked and what didn’t?
11. Brainstorm with those you trust: All of those ideas you’ve got rattling around in your brain? Write them down. And then run them past others you know.
12. Set aside time for research: Read a book, scour a blog, download a podcast. Take time to find out how others have hit the big time.
13. Invest in something that will help grow your business: Start to invest in your business give you the chance to up-level some area of your work.
14. Organize: That crowded inbox, that messy workspace, that drawer full of papers you call a filing system need to be put into order.
15. Spruce up your website:  TODAY — to make your website an even better.
16. Sign up for a class/workshop: How can you expect to truly up-level your business if you’re reading all the same, free info that everyone else is?
17. Host a promotion or create a freebie: Offer your audience something (a printable, desktop art, a product, etc.) for free! It’s a great way to give folks a taste of what you have to offer.
18. Survey your audience: Ask your audience what they find important or challenging.
19. Be a social media active: Take some time today to Tweet, post, like, fav.
20. Lastly, and most obviously, BLOG


CoreLogic Projects: Potential Affordability Crisis

The 2018 Outlook for U.S. Housing Markets was framed by the possibility of an erosion of housing affordability spreading to more markets.

A central theme for the 2018 housing market will be the continuing erosion of housing affordability, an issue that will permeate a growing list of American neighborhoods. Today housing affordability is already a major concern in many high-cost markets, and will spread to more moderate-cost places across the nation. Let’s look at the economic factors that we expect will further weaken affordability in the coming year.

One is the projected rise in interest rates. The Federal Reserve has signaled its plan to increase its federal funds target, pushing other short-term interest rates up including initial rates on ARMs, and to reduce its portfolio of long-term Treasury and mortgage-backed securities. And while fixed-rate mortgage rates remain at historically low levels, they are already up about three-fourths of a percentage point above their record low. Fixed-rate loans are forecast to rise in 2018 by at least one-half a percentage point to as much as a full percentage point. (Figure 1)

A second factor is the increasing price of buying a home. CoreLogic’s national Home Price Index has been rising at a 6% or better clip over the past year with less expensive homes rising even faster. When combined with the rise in mortgage rates, the price increase for lower-priced homes translates into approximately a 15% rise over the last year in the monthly principal and interest payment for a first-time buyer. We expect this trend to continue in 2018, with the CoreLogic Home Price Index for the U.S. up another 5%.

Third, we expect the very low for-sale inventory, especially for ‘starter’ homes, to continue. As low inventory confronts the rising desire for homeownership by a growing number of Millennials, home sale conditions will favor the seller with low time-on-market, multiple contracts per home, and more homes that sell at or above list price. These phenomena will be particularly acute in the first-time buyer segment, where there is already a shortage of for-sale inventory.

Declining affordability can be alleviated by new construction and rehabilitation of older housing stock. We expect housing starts to increase 5 percent in 2018, but more building is necessary to alleviate the affordability challenges in many higher-cost American cities.
Link to the report: http://bit.ly/2kraEjw

Jersey Shore Town Receives New Designation

Ocean Grove, New Jersey recently was designated as one of the greatest neighborhoods in New Jersey for 2017. This year’s award given to Ocean Grove as the Best Neighborhood Award was under the great places in New Jersey program.

The program is sponsored by the New Jersey Division of American Planning Association.

The award was given based upon a number of broad range qualifications with each nominee needing to have a definable sense of quality.

Many people consider Ocean Grove to be the Crown Jewel of the Jersey Shore. The designation is a high point for the town, which many considered to be in a renewal and resurgent neighborhood along the Jersey Shore.

Ocean Grove population is approximately 3,400. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is recognized for having an abundant number of examples of Victorian architecture.

Ocean Grove was founded in 1869 as a result of the camp meeting movement within the United States.

During the 1990s through 2006 Ocean Grove experienced a dramatic increase in property values as there was a revival in the fortune of the town, which brought about a restoration of all the structures that had deteriorated over the years. It was during the 1960s to the 1980s that the town declined along with much of the New Jersey seashore.

This is truly an important threshold event since it shows that the town has returned back to a heyday time that it had enjoyed many years ago.

Since 1996, Counsellors Title Agency had provided swift, proven 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.

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


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