Leading Causes of Home Fires

The ranking of fire causes can vary from year to year. The rankings here are based on the annual average percentage of fires and losses in 2012–2016. The likely severity of a reported fire can be measured in deaths or injuries per 1,000 fires and average loss per fire.

Causes for Most Home Fires  silhouette of houses during nighttime
Leading causes of home structure fires: 2012–2016
    40% – Cooking Equipment
    15% – Heating Equipment
    10% – Electrical Lighting and Distribution
    8% – Intentional
    5% – Smoking

When Do Most Home Fires Occur?
Not surprisingly, home structure fires are more common in cooler months when people spend more time inside and in the hours when people are awake in the home. In 2012–2016, 47% of home structure fires and 56% of home structure fire deaths occurred in the five months of November through March.

Cooking was the leading cause of reported home structure fires and civilian fire injuries and the second leading cause of fire deaths. Cooking activities caused an average of 172,100 home fires per year. These fires caused annual averages of 530 civilian deaths, 5,270 civilian injuries and $1.1 billion dollars in property damage. Cooking was the leading cause of fires in both one- or two-family homes and apartments or other multi-family homes, but caused a much larger share of fires in the latter (72%) than in one- or two-family homes (38%). While cooking was the leading cause of fires and fire injuries, it ranked lower on the casualties (3 deaths and 31 injuries) per 1,000 reported fires and last among the major causes in average loss per reported fire ($6,600).

Other statistics on fires:

  • There were 1,342,000 fires reported in the United States. These fires caused 3,390 civilian deaths, 14,650 civilian injuries, and $10.6 billion in property damage.     
  • 475,500 were structure fires, causing 2,950 civilian deaths, 12,775 civilian injuries, and $7.9 billion in property damage.    
  • 173,000 were vehicle fires, causing 280 civilian fire deaths, 1,075 civilian fire injuries, and $933 million in property damage.    
  • 662,500 were outside and other fires, causing 85 civilian fire deaths, 650 civilian fire injuries, and $1.4 billion in property damage.

The information in this post was published by National Fire Protection Association.

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.

The full report can be downloaded by clicking on this link.

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2019 Factors – Inventory, Higher Rates & Affordability

The most recent index metric was published last week by the National Association of Realtors’ [NAR] Housing Affordability Index.

Housing affordability declined from a year ago in December moving the index down 8.4% from 161.2 to 147.6. The median sales price for a single family home sold in December in the US was $256,400 up 3.4% from a year ago.

The demand for new housing will obviously be the single-biggest factor with respect to keeping housing affordable, coupled with a

strong economic climate and reasonable mortgage rates.

“Housing affordability will be the key to sustained healthy growth in the housing market in the upcoming years,” stated NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun.

Currently, according to the report, the monthly mortgage rate came in unchanged from November at 4.99%. This compares with the median family income which was up to $77,940 from $77,216 in November, according to the report. As stated earlier, climbing mortgage rates will continue to impact the ability of Millennials entering into the market, as the average family currently pays 17.1% of family’s income towards rent or a mortgage in 2018; this compares to 15.8% in 2017 and 15% in 2016.

Based upon the current figures, to purchase a single-family home at the national median price, a family will need an overall income of $62,954 to make a 5% down payment. The purchase of a home with a 10% down payment requires an income of $59,640; and a 20% down payment will further reduce the necessary annual income to just $53,013.

Experts predict that, even as the current streak of fast home value growth reaches its peak, affordability will continue to be a problem for first-time and lower-income homebuyers.

The experts see the market requiring approximately 15 million new homes to be constructed in order to satisfy the demand. Presently, new housing starts fell short of historically normal levels, adding only 9.6 million new housing units added in the past decade. As the report shows, home values will continue to trend higher until inventory increases.

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.

 

Daniel Shea Joins Counsellors Title Agency

Counsellors Title Agency Continues to Expand Its Efforts into Monmouth, Morris Ocean and Union Counties

TOMS RIVER, NJCounsellors Title Agency, Inc., www.counsellorstitle.net, is pleased to announce that Daniel Shea has joined the agency’s sales force of licensed title producers. Daniel Shea arrives at Counsellors Title Agency with a distinguished career in the industry and in-depth knowledge of title insurance. 

“This is one of the greatest career opportunities I have had. Counsellors Title brings so much value in its passion for service, reputation for glitch-free closings and a trajectory of growth, that I fully expect to build upon the momentum that Ralph Aponte began back in 1996. It is truly a privilege and frankly quite exciting for me as a title professional,” stated Daniel Shea.

Background & Experience
Daniel Shea started in the title insurance business back in 1987 as the Marketing Director/Closing Coordinator for Hovnanian Enterprises/Eastern Title Agency Division. He was part of the brand new Hovnanian team that launched the business in New Jersey from Galloway to Mahwah.

His title experience spans 4 decades, which includes working with the Red Bank Title Agency as an Account Executive and most recently with Two Rivers Title Company as a title producer Account Executive and a Preferred Closer. Daniel Shea specializes in both Commercial and Residential closings, delivering the highest level of customer service, assisting in the smooth transition of property title ownership for real estate attorneys, Realtors, loan officers and developers.

His extraordinary experience has enabled him to minimize risks of the purchaser through search for liens, encumbrances and title defects.

“We are delighted to announce that Dan Shea has joined the Counsellors Title team of professionals. His knowledge of the industry and reputation as a consummate professional committed to the highest level of customer satisfaction make Dan an ideal fit for our agency and company culture of excellence,” stated Ralph Aponte, President and Founder of Counsellors Title Agency.

Counsellors Title Agency, Inc., a New Jersey-based title company, offers title insurance and closing services to sellers and home buyers throughout the state. Through its agency headquarters in Toms River, and its branch offices in Monmouth, Morris, Ocean and Union counties, Counsellors provides title services such as title insurance, settlement services, document preparation and legal secretarial services for its attorneys.

The title insurance policy protects the home buyer and mortgage lender from issues arising during the transfer of title ownership and as such seeks to avoid potential financial loss stemming from a lawsuit or claim after the property has been purchased. The search process which precedes the title policy seeks to provide a clean history that is free of fraud, unpaid taxes and legal obligations.

Counsellors Title Agency currently serves all 21 counties in New Jersey through its four county locations: Ocean, Morris, Monmouth and Union.

About Counsellors Title
Counsellors Title Agency was founded in 1996 by Ralph Aponte. 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.

Ocean County Listings Surge 25 Percent

Ocean County
January results for Ocean County came in very strong. New listings surged forward over 25% from 2018, from 1,001 to 1,254.

In addition to the number of new listings climbing, closed sales also increased by double digits from 476 to 534, a 12.2% improvement.The median sales price for a single-family home stayed the same, $295,000. 

The inventory in Ocean County seems to be stabilizing and only decreased 3.5% from 2018. This is the first time in over 24 months that the number of homes for sale did not decrease by double digits.In addition, the months supply of inventory dropped to 5.5 months, which is still considered to be the normal rate.

Monmouth County
Monmouth County new listings climbed 4.6% from 804 to 841 listings. The number of closed sales for the month of January remained basically flat.

Meanwhile, the days on market fell by 12.2% from 74 days to 65 days.Where there was additional improvement was in the median sales price, which climbed from $400,000 to $417,000, a 4.4% improvement. Still inventory in Monmouth County is problematic; it fell from 2,647 to 2,254, a 14.8% decrease from 2018.

The number of months supply of single-family homes in Monmouth County right now is 3.8 months, which is a 13.6% decrease. This is of course ridiculously low. We will have to see how the numbers come in for February.

As opposed to most of the rest of the country, Monmouth County continues to be a seller’s market going into the spring season. We’ll see how long that holds out.

As opposed to most of the rest of the country, Monmouth County continues to be a seller’s market going into the spring season. We’ll see how long that holds out.

Ocean County
Single Family January 2019
Key Market Metrics 2018 2019 Change
■ New Listings:         1,001 1,254    +25.3%
■ Closed Sales         477    534   +12.2%
■ DOM*                     86      87      +1.2%
■ Median Px          $295K  $295K  +0.0%
■ % of Px Rec’d   95.5% 96.2%  +0.7%
■ Inventory           3,901   3,764    -3.5%
■ Months of Inventory  6.0 5.5 – 8.3%
* Days on Market Until Sale

Monmouth County
Single Family January 2019
Key Market Metrics     2018    2019    Change
■ New Listings              804      841    +4.6%
■ Closed Sales             452      444    -1.8%
■ DOM*                         74        65     12.2%
■ Median Px              $400.0K  $417K   +4.4%
■ % of Px Rec’d         96.5%    96.8% +0.3%
■ Inventory                 2,647    2,254    -14.8%
■ Months of Inventory     4.4       3.8     -13.6%
* Days on Market Until Sale

 

NJ January Single Family Sales

Despite a strong U.S. economy, historically low unemployment and steady wage growth, home sales began to slow across the nation late last year. Blame was given to a combination of high prices and a steady stream of interest rate hikes by the Federal Reserve. This month, the Fed responded to the growing affordability conundrum. In a move described as a patient approach to further rate changes, the Fed did not increase rates during January 2019.

  • Single Family Closed Sales were down 3.9% to 5,004.
  • Townhouse-Condo Closed Sales were down 4.5% to 1,430.
  • Adult Communities Closed Sales were down 11.9% to 420.
  • Single Family Median Sales Price increased 4.7% to $300,000.
  • Townhouse-Condo Median Sales Price increased 6.1% to $260,000.
  • Adult Communities Median Sales Price decreased 5.5% to $199,500.

While the home affordability topic will continue to set the tone for the 2019 housing market, early signs point to an improving inventory situation, including in several mars that are beginning to show regular year-over-year percentage increases. As motivated sellers attempt to get a jump on annual goals, many new listings enter the market immediately after the turn of a calendar year. If home price appreciation falls more in line with wage growth, and rates can hold firm, consumer confidence and affordability are likely to improve.

The Age of Artificial Intelligence

It artificial intelligence ushering in the the fourth Industrial Revolution?
 
Ignoring change within the economy can become the very devices that will make us obsolete in the services and the businesses that we are involved in.

One of the places that we should look at as the incubator for the future are our schools. Students, parents, and teachers are becoming more digitalized with technology. What was once a briefcase is now a tablet.

What this translates to in everyday life for the business professional are the shift and change in the competencies required to work and to succeed in daily life. As technology becomes more mainstream, we need to begin to integrate these new competencies into our everyday schedules and business practices.

According to the Brookings Institute, the competencies required for this changing world will affect critical thinking, problem solving, creativity and innovation along with collaboration and teamwork.

Communication and information literacy are going to be key elements to the way we conduct business.

This also will require us to become acclimated to the new VUCA environment we live in. VUCA stands for volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity. We will need to navigate the new landscape of competency as is defined through the prism of technology and the cloud.

Information is not going to provide the straightforward solution. We are now being inundated by too much information, and what is needed now are filters and protocols to navigate this circuitous geography.

According to some experts, this will require the cultivation of the four C’s: critical thinking, creative thinking, communication and collaboration.

One of the obvious aspects of this new disruptive economy is that it will necessitate a continuous commitment to ongoing education. High school, college degrees, certificates and even post- graduate work will not suffice at the speed of change.

There are five ways in which technology is dramatically reconfiguring the real estate landscape as we know it today.
1. Online listings
2. Virtual tours
3. Electronic signing
4. Mobile apps
5. Online investing

 

February Builder Confidence Rises

Homebuilder confidence inched higher in February, according to the National Association of Home Builders by 4 points to 62.

The report, which is the Housing Market Index (HMI), reflects builder confidence in the market for newly-built single-family homes.

The reason given for the bump in confidence was based on “reduction in mortgage rates in recent weeks coupled with continued strength in the job market.” Additionally, what continues to fuel new construction is the ongoing scarcity of available homes for sale, which in most markets has not improved significantly.

According to NAHB Chairman Randy Noel, a custom home builder from LaPlace, La., “In the aftermath of the fall slowdown, many builders are reporting positive expectations for the spring selling season.”

The jump on the six-month sales expectation for the HMI is due to a reduction in mortgage interest rates (falling from 5% to just 4.4%)

But the housing market continues to face a number of very real hurdles when it comes to continued growth:
■ Affordability remains problematic
■ Rising costs from excessive regulations
■ A shortage of buildable lots
■ Ongoing skilled labor shortages in most markets
■ Tariffs on lumber and other building materials

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.

LET’S CONNECT ONLINE!

Connect with Ralph on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CounsellorsTitleAgency/

Connect with Ralph on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/ralphaponte/

Renters Pay Less Than Owners

Just the Facts: Homeowners with a mortgage spend more money per month than renters on housing. That means that renters are saving money every month, statistically.

These figures are based upon data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2013-2017 American Community Survey five-year estimates, which tracks median housing costs across the country.

Unfortunately, for the New Jersey homeowner, the gap between the median monthly cost for renters and those with a mortgage is significant – more than $1,149. That’s $45 more than the median cost to rent in New York, where the median rent cost is $1,194.

The reason for this is that the costs for homeownership includes related costs such as maintenance, property taxes, repairs, insurance, and the monthly mortgage payments.

The monthly costs of buying and owning a home are up 14% year-over-year, which is more than the annual average rent increase nationally, which are up just 4 percent according to the National Association of Realtors.
At this point, it looks like most renters are saving money.

New Jersey
Median monthly cost for homeowners with a mortgage: $2,398
Median rent cost: $1,249
Difference between owning and renting: $1,149

Connecticut
Median monthly cost for homeowners with a mortgage: $2,065
Median rent cost: $1,123
Difference between owning and renting: $942

New York
Median monthly cost for homeowners with a mortgage: $2,064
Median rent cost: $1,194
Difference between owning and renting: $870

Pennsylvania
Median monthly cost for homeowners with a mortgage: $1,446
Median rent cost: $885
Difference between owning and renting: $561

New Hampshire
Median monthly cost for homeowners with a mortgage: $1,878
Median rent cost: $1,052
Difference between owning and renting: $826

Vermont
Median monthly cost for homeowners with a mortgage: $1,563
Median rent cost: $945
Difference between owning and renting: $618

Mortgage Apps Remain Steady

WASHINGTON, D.C.  – The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) Builder Application Survey (BAS) data for January 2019 shows mortgage applications for new home purchases remained unchanged from a year ago. Compared to December 2018, applications increased by 43 percent. This change does not include any adjustment for typical seasonal patterns.

“After two lackluster months, new home sales surged almost 30 percent in January to the fastest pace since our survey began in 2013,” said Joel Kan, MBA’s Associate Vice President of Economic and Industry Forecasting. ” The healthy job market, faster wage growth, moderating price gains and lower mortgage rates,  all helped home sales recover. Additionally, builders seem to be seeing improvement in their labor shortages, as government survey data showed increases in construction hiring and openings in December.”

MBA estimates new single-family home sales were running at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 713,000 units in January 2019, based on data from the BAS. The new home sales estimate is derived using mortgage application information from the BAS, as well as assumptions regarding market coverage and other factors.

The seasonally adjusted estimate for January is an increase of 29.2 percent from the December pace of 552,000 units. On an unadjusted basis, MBA estimates that there were 54,000 new home sales in January 2019, an increase of 45.9 percent from 37,000 new home sales in December.

By product type, conventional loans composed 68.7 percent of loan applications, FHA loans composed 18.6 percent, RHS/USDA loans composed 0.5 percent and VA loans composed 12.2 percent. The average loan size of new homes decreased from $334,944 in December to $334,532 in January.

MBA’s Builder Application Survey tracks application volume from mortgage subsidiaries of home builders across the country. Utilizing this data, as well as data from other sources, MBA is able to provide an early estimate of new home sales volumes at the national, state, and metro level. This data also provides information regarding the types of loans used by new home buyers. Official new home sales estimates are conducted by the Census Bureau on a monthly basis. In that data, new home sales are recorded at contract signing, which is typically coincident with the mortgage application.

Amazon Takes a Hike

Amazon has officially pulled the plug on its move to New York City, specifically to Long Island City.

What is amazing is that the internet behemoth retailer felt that its decision to move to the Big Apple would not be in its best interest, considering the public outcry against the company.

So now that Amazon has officially canceled plans to build a headquarters in New York, the quest is where will it go now. The reality that this huge deal could be hijacked by local politicians who were incensed by the tax breaks given to this company came at a time when Jeff Bezos didn’t have the stomach for the vitriol.

This decision comes after years of politicking and pitching the company, with plans coming from over 20 other potential sites. Obviously, such a massive project would impact people, no matter where they eventually ended up.

Now the bar is reset, and those cities back in competition for the 25,000+ jobs know that solidarity is going to play into the strategy for any plan.

Even though the company stated that it will not reopen a search for a new location, instead focusing on its plans to build a second headquarters in Arlington, Virginia, no doubt other cities will attempt to pitch a deal that is too good to turn away from. It will continue to operate its center in Nashville, as well as growing the 17 other offices and tech hubs it runs in the U.S. and Canada.

“While polls show that 70% of New Yorkers support our plans and investment, a number of state and local politicians have made it clear that they oppose our presence and will not work with us to build the type of relationships that are required to go forward with the project we and many others envisioned in Long Island City,” the company wrote in a statement posted to its website.

Amazon’s current 5,000 employees in Brooklyn, Manhattan and Staten Island will stay put, and the company expects to expand these teams. This rebuff from Amazon is clearly a big political black-eye for Governor Cuomo, who prides himself as a people’s governor.

“We are disappointed to have reached this conclusion – we love New York, its incomparable dynamism, people, and culture – and particularly the community of Long Island City, where we have gotten to know so many optimistic, forward-leaning community leaders, small business owners, and residents,” Amazon wrote.

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 Love at First Sight?

The whole idea of buying a home is the American Dream – that is until you find out all the things you didn’t know or didn’t see when you first walked through the property.

Buying a home is a BIG DEAL! So make sure you set some guidelines.

Understand that the probability of you buying the first house you see is HIGHLY UNLIKELY! It’s like marrying the first person you date.

It is said that the average homebuyer looks through at least 10 homes over an 8-week period before making their first offer.

As on many of the property shows where they film buyers reviewing at least 3 properties before settling on one, the same rule should hold for any buyer: you should compare at least 3 homes before making a decision to make an offer.

You will probably:
■ Find similar features in another home.
■ Learn about the comparables in the same neighborhood.
■ Recognize that if you buy the best home on the block or neighborhood, chances are that it won’t appreciate as quickly as the rest of the neighborhood.
■ Open every door – if any rooms are “unavailable” during the showing, make sure to see them at a later time with your home inspector to examine them.

Other Costs
■ Appraisal fees can run between $300 to $800.

■ Professional home inspection fees also range from $300 to $800.
■ If you’re buying in a subdivision, homeowner’s association fees.
■ Have an ample budget for repairs, renovations and upgrades. It can cost as much as 1% of the purchase price per year to maintain your home.

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