The Right Time to Buy

Buying a home for the first time is always more than an adventure. Your home will become not only the basecamp for your life, but depending upon its location, the economic trends and population migration, can help become the cornerstone to your future financial stability.

But the facts are clear that buying your first home earlier rather than later in your life can make a significant difference in the quality of life later on.

So if you’re considering purchasing a home, and waiting for the right time to invest in the market, chances are you may be putting off an opportunity to accumulate a significant amount in what is called home equity.

Individuals who buy their first home before they reach the age of 34 turn out to be financially more secure in their 60s, which usually translates into the home equity they’re able to amass.

Currently, Millennial home ownership ranks at about 38%, which is just a bit above the national rate. How does that compare with prior generations? Well, baby boomers and generation Xers became homeowners on a comparative basis at about 20% earlier.

In many cases, Millennials may be laden with student debt, making such a purchase harder to do. The down payment blues is very real, and Millennials are even choosing to live with their parents longer. Instead of just living with their parents, it would prove to be prudent to use that windfall to put away some of the down payment necessary to buy their first home.

The other smart fact is that with a 20% down payment, they will not have to pay for mortgage insurance, which translates into even greater savings.

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!

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Landmark Ocean Grove Building Burns

At about 11:00am, a fire broke out on the beachfront structure containing The Dunes Boardwalk Cafe. The fire spread so quickly that

it burst into a 5-Alarm inferno within minutes. Over 25 emergency vehicles from all over Monmouth County and beyond responded.

Ultimately, the fire broke out a second time forcing firefighters to quickly escape the flames that were engulfing the entire structure.

Fire engines were pulled as close to the building as possible at about 1:00 pm, but the effort appeared to be too little and

much too late.

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/

 

 

Slashing Your Energy Costs This Summer

Considering that summer is less than 60 days away, we can actually take some steps now to cut back on the cost of energy the summer.

Small and medium-sized businesses are those that can best benefit from taking certain steps now to cut back on costs.

According to an article in Entrepreneur magazine, approximately 10% of small business owners rank energy cost as their single greatest overhead cost. This is taking into consideration salaries, materials, and other costs within an organization.

In addition to the 10% of business owners that feel energy comprises their biggest cost, another 25% of businesses feel that energy is their second to third largest business cost.

Some ideas are:
  • Energy-efficient thermostats
  • Insulation
  • Energy-efficient appliances
  • Switch to LED light bulbs
  • Install high-efficiency products and appliances
  • Change business hours to accommodate high temperatures
  • Tap into utility incentives

 

Zillow Looming on the Horizon

Is Zillow My Friend? Google My Business Fights for Agents!

A great deal is being written lately about how Zillow is growing.

Today Zillow is the number one website in the real estate industry. It is followed by realtor.com, which is number two.

Zillow’s global rank stands at 119, whereas realtor.com’s global rank is 280. In the scheme of things, that difference may not amount to as much as one might think, but it does speak volumes as to the digital footprint Zillow has been able to establish since its founding.

Currently total annual traffic to the Zillow website is 168 million visitors; this compares to 72 million annual visitors to the realtor.com website.

The organic search for both real estate websites is very close to each other; realtor.com comes in at 95.72% and Zillow stands at 96.2%. But there are a lot of questions arising from the business model that Zillow is pursuing.

Zillow derives approximately 85% of all its business from selling leads and services to real estate agents and loan officers.

In 2018, Zillow reported $1.33 billion in total revenue. It is projecting an annual revenue target of $22 billion in the next 5 years.

Zillow’s revenue verticals are represented by agents, lenders, rental and new construction leads and services. It is also providing mortgages to approximately 3,000 homes for home buyers a month.

Zillow is also committing to buy 5,000 homes per month, which it will resell on the market. Its progress appears to put Zillow in head-to-head competition with its own customers, but this may not be the case since the current real estate industry is put at $33.3 trillion dollars.

Still, Zillow is gaining massive market share. But there is one tiny little factor squeezed into all those numbers, and that is that in order for a home buyer or home seller to get to the Zillow website, they have to use Google. And this is where the real estate agent has a chance to take some ground.

In one very real way, Google may provide the leverage to the real estate agents that they need in order to gain visibility, customers and ultimately market share.

Google is now committing enormous resources to building-out its Google My Business platform for small businesses and entrepreneurs.

Even if you don’t have a website, and you’re a home-based business, you can have your own Google My Business page without the address showing.

What makes the Google My Business platform so powerful is that you can have all of your favorite customers and fans posting their rave reviews of your goods and services. This gives immediate credibility without a single dime being spent in advertising.

In addition, Google My Business can also post blog posts.

And just recently Google My Business is now allowing videos to be posted right there on your Google My Business site. And it’s all free.

The verification of your own Google My Business listing can take a few days and even up to two weeks, but it is well worth the effort.

There is nothing Zillow can do to stop the success of a single real estate agent Google My Business page, since Google is the one that provides the algorithm.

Toms River NJ Today

As of the 2010 United States Census, the township had a total population of 91,239. The median home value in Toms River is $273,200. Toms River home values have risen 3.3% over the past year. 

The Toms River was known as Goose Creek until it was renamed in the early 18th century for English captain William Toms, farmer and ferryman.

A Safe City: In 2006, Toms River was ranked by Morgan Quitno Press as the 15th safest city in the United States, of 369 cities nationwide. In 2007, Toms River was again ranked as the 14th-safest city in the United States of 371 cities nationwide.

The Census Bureau’s 2006–2010 American Community Survey showed that median household income was $71,934 and the median family income was $83,924. Males had a median income of $59,860 versus $42,192 for females.

Ocean County, NJ – 2011 vs 2019

As of February 2019, the average days on market for single-family homes came in at just 80 days. That is down by almost 40% from the time reported in 2011. Properties are selling significantly faster than they were back in 2011. Plus, sellers are getting approximately 5% more on the actual list price than they were back in 2011. The appreciation isn’t huge, but as properties sell quicker, the appreciation will reflect the higher demand.  

As we look at the numbers from nearly 10 years ago compared to today, there are other significant changes:

■ Back in September 2011 there were 787 new listings. This compares somewhat to February 2019, where there were 1,225 new listings. This marks a significant increase in new listings and closed sales.

■ Closed sales have tracked with the jump in listings, with 361 closed sales in September 2011 vs 432 for February 2019.

But some numbers speak louder than others. I found the big difference between then and now was back in September 2011 the number of homes on market was 5,547. This compares with 3,989 for February 2019.

Another significant metric when comparing what was happening in 2011 versus what is happening in 2019 is the months of supply of inventory. Back in September 2011 the months supply of inventory was calculated to be 16.7 months. This compares with a new low for February 2019, which came in at 5.8 months.

The difference in the median sales price back in September 2011 was $258,000, which compares with February 2019 of $285,000. That’s roughly a $30,000 difference. But where the real change can be found is in the days on market. Back in 2011 that was 125 days; now it’s only 80 days.

All this translates into a stronger and healthier Ocean County real estate market, which took longer than many expected but is now showing itself to be on very solid ground.

New Threshold $300,000

According to the website Realtor.com, the March average home listing price hit $300,000 for the first time ever.

What is driving prices higher can be attributed to the shortage of inventory, the shortage of new construction, the stronger economy, and the increased buyer demand, the result of higher overall rent costs.

The analysis provided by Realtor.com indicates that homes priced below $200,000 decreased by 9% year-over-year, representing a greater squeeze on first-time home buyers to pay more.

The good news reported by the website is that there were an additional 56,000 homes for sale in March 2019 as compared with 2018. This calculates into a 4% increase year-over-year.

On a negative note, the number of newly listed properties fell by 0.4% in 2019 as compared to 2018.

The New Jersey Market
Many markets continue to suffer from significant inventory shortages, including New Jersey’s Bergen, Monmouth and Morris Counties, all of which have less than six months supply. Passaic County recently reported that its supply of properties for sale has fallen to 3.5 months supply with only 945 properties on the market. Even Ocean County, which historically has had up to 15 months supply of homes for sale, has fallen down to just 5.8 months supply or only 3,989 properties.

What is even more remarkable is that Salem County, located in Southwest New Jersey, has seen a remarkable recovery from 2018. The number of homes for sale has fallen dramatically from 668 to 545, representing an 18.4% decline. In addition, the total month supply of inventory has fallen by 27.5% from 9.1 months to 6.6 months from 2018 to 2019. On the value end for Salem County, the median sales price jumped remarkably by 19.3% from $110,000 to $130,250.

The expectation is that spring 2019 home prices are expected to continue to rise as inventory lags behind due to shortages in building supplies and skilled labor.

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/

New Jersey, A Better Option

The negative factors forcing buyers to flee New York City, high income tax, high sellers’ prices and limitations on deductibility, seem to have made buyers turn into New Jersey’s adjoining Bergen County, looking to get a bigger bang for their bucks.

Bergen County only saw a slight dip in the median sales price of a single-family home from $442,000 to $440,000 year-over-year.

But the demand for properties in Bergen County has not abated as it has in New York City, with closed sales for the month of February climbing 12% year-over-year and days on market falling by 14% from 86 days to 74 days. Currently there is 4.2 months supply of homes on the market in Bergen, which is a drop of 14.3% from 2018, representing a serious inventory shortage.

The other factor that has to be considered in this decline is that a New Yorker pays the most in state income taxes, out of all 50 states. This information comes from the Tax Foundation, calculating that New Yorkers pay $2,249 per capita is state income taxes. Connecticut came in number two, with individuals paying $2,218, and Massachusetts coming in third, with individuals paying $2,146.It is no wonder why properties are selling faster in Bergen County with more reasonable prices and taxes than Manhattan. According to the Elliman Report, New York City now has a 9-month supply of homes available for sale, which is a jump of 9%, whereas Bergen County earlier reported a cut of total properties for sale.

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/

New York City Real Estate Struggles

Some news from across the Hudson: New York City’s first quarter sales declined again, according to Douglas Elliman. This represents the sixth consecutive quarter of declines for the Big Apple, the longest downward trend in the last 30 years.

Obviously, as the economy has come back to life, new construction has boomed in New York City, causing a surge in the construction of high-end apartments. But there seems to be a convergence of factors that are causing the number of sales and median prices to fall concomitantly. One reason can be attributed to the new limits on deductibility of state real estate taxes. A second reason for the drop-off being an unusual scarcity of foreign buyers.

At this point, even New York’s entry-level properties appear to be feeling the pinch in buyer demand as sellers at all levels cut their prices.

Currently New York City’s entry point threshold stands short of a million dollars.

Basically, a New York City studio goes for an average of $480,000; a one-bedroom goes for $800,000; a two-bedroom costs about $1,550,000; and a four-bedroom plus property goes for an average of $5,350,000.

In the four-bedroom plus category, prices have fallen significantly from 2018, which averaged $6,850,000, a decline of $1.5 million from 2018 to 2019.

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/

Part 3 National Foreclosure Rates Fall

According to the new CoreLogic report, the nation’s overall delinquency rate fell to 4.1% as of December 2018.

The good news is that no state in the Union posted an increase in its overall or serious delinquency rate. This includes foreclosures, as well.

The 4.1% reported in December 2018 was a 20% reduction from the 5.3% rate reported in December 2017. This represents the lowest percentage for the month of December in 18 years.

The delinquency rate calculated in the CoreLogic loan performance report includes home loans 30 days or more past due and homes in some stage of foreclosure.

According to the report, the worst month ever reported since the statistics began being compiled was December 2009, which reported an 11.6% share of homes in some state of distress or delinquency. Since March of 2018, this delinquency rate has been falling.

In the category of serious delinquency rate, which is defined as 90 days or more past due, including loans and foreclosure, this came in at 1.5% in December 2018. This is down from the 2.1% reported in January 2017.

The Foreclosure Inventory Rate, which translates into the share of mortgages in some stage of foreclosure process, was 0.4% in December 2018, which is down from 0.6% from December 2017.

In the category of mortgages between 30 and 59 days past due, considered to be early stage delinquencies, the rate was 2% in December 2018, which is down from 2.4% in December 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.

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/

Part 2 Trenton Targets New Foreclosure Legislation

Trenton legislators are looking to pass a series of bills that will streamline the foreclosure process.

Included in the package of bills was a measure that would codify a mediation program which would help in the mediation of cases to resolve issues through loan modification, short sale, or other strategies.

With this measure, the lender would have to provide a homeowner with written notice of the option to participate in mediation when first providing notice of the intent to foreclose and again on the filing of a foreclosure complaint. Then, such homeowners could request a mediation session with a lender and receive help during that meeting process from a counselor specializing in foreclosure prevention and default mitigation.

The benefit to this measure would give alternatives to the homeowner in danger of foreclosure.

Another aspect and key measure of the new bill would revise the Fair Foreclosure Act by lengthening the time a lender is required to file a notice of intent to foreclose from 30 days to six months before a lender begins legal action to take possession of a home.

The bottom line is that homeowners with enough notice could find ways to avoid the foreclosure of their home.

One of the best features of the package would limit the amount of time an abandoned property can remain vacant. This is important in that the contagion of vacant homes can have less impact upon the adjacent properties by forcing the vacant home back onto the market. The bill would require lenders to take action to foreclose on these properties, and oblige the sheriff to conduct a sale within 60 days of a court-determined foreclosure judgment. Limiting the amount of time a property could remain vacant may alleviate the problem zombie foreclosures.

Other aspects of this package bill include:
■ The creation of a statewide database with an interactive map of foreclosed properties. The database would use the information provided by the courts.
■ The visual map would allow public officials to better track and monitor what actions are being taken within the regions. The visual database would also work to assist developers and prospective buyers in locating properties for renovation or remarketing.
■ A current protocol or system to publicly track the inventory of properties in some stage of foreclosure. The public database would definitely have the effect of reducing the number of unoccupied properties — those occurring when an owner moves out after receiving notice but neither the bank nor another owner ever takes ownership — within neighborhoods, and provide a viable strategy for dealing with “zombie” foreclosures.
■ This bill requires the creditor that initiates a foreclosure proceeding on a residence to including in that filing the contact information of the person responsible for property maintenance and code violations, thus help officials prevent zombie foreclosures from becoming blights on a neighborhood.
■ Other bills being considered would require and enforce licensing requirements for mortgage lenders, brokers and servicers, and loan originators, both those based in New Jersey and those out-of-state. It would require individuals working as a mortgage servicer to be licensed by and file a surety bond with the state Department of Banking and Insurance.
■ Another bill would require licensing of out-of-state mortgage lenders, brokers and loan originators.
■ The new legislation empowers the state banking commissioner to investigate mortgage servicers and suspend, revoke, or refuse to renew a servicer’s license. Such violators would risk being charged with a crime and be subject to civil penalties of up to $25,000.

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/

NJ’s Foreclosure Rate Falls

The Garden State still accounts for 20,000 active foreclosure cases congesting the state’s courts.

Foreclosures are not new for New Jersey since the Great Recession. Consistently, the number of foreclosures has been one of the highest in the country.

So it would make tons of sense to tackle this problem now, when the real estate market is strong, and is projected to continue to be strong through 2019.

Governor Phil Murphy is reviewing a package of bills that will accomplish a number of things to make this on-going foreclosure crisis in New Jersey more manageable. These bills propose to:
■ Keep more property owners in their homes
■ Shorten the amount of time a house sits vacant
■ Prevent vacant properties from becoming eyesores

According to RealtyTrac, New Jersey has more than twice the national rate of foreclosures. This translates into one of every 1,006 homes in some stage of the foreclosure process. According to RealtyTrac, the national rate is one in 2,471 mortgages.

New Jersey has actually improved by falling by 6% in February from January 2019, and a whopping 24% lower than in 2018. Though New Jersey’s 20,000 active foreclosure cases is the most in the nation, it is an 85% improvement from what it had been in 2011.

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/

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