Existing Home Sales Surge Again As Inventory Shrinks

US existing home sales surged in March hitting levels not seen since 2007, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR). The NAR reported that existing home sales climbed 4.4% for March 2017 to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.71 million units, based upon the report issued by the NAR.

■ Existing homes are still significantly cheaper than newly constructed homes by approximately 25.3%.
■ Existing homes sold for a median $237,800, up 6.6% over the same month a year earlier.
■ Newly constructed homes sold for a median $296,200 in February 2017, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
■ Sales were up 4.3% from February and 6.1% from the same month in the previous year.
■ Condos and co-ops also moved up higher; both monthly and annual sales rose 5% in March.
■ Prices rose even faster, at 8% annually, to reach a median $224,700.
■ Inventory increased 5.8% at the end of March from a month earlier, but it was still down 6.6% from a year earlier, representing just a 3.8-month supply.
■ U.S. housing starts declined 6.8% in March, but were up 8.1% in the first quarter compared to the same period in 2016.

The trend does not track with the constricting metrics based upon conventional market inventory.
As expected, the 1.83 million units of homes for sale for March 2017 did increase by 5.8%. What is even more telling is that according to the NAR, properties typically remained on the market for 34 days in March, as compared to 45 days in February.

The uptick in March is in some ways the result of lower February home resales.

Housing shortages continue to push prices higher, significantly shortening the amount of time a home stays on the market until it is sold.

The Ripple Effect

The aphorism ‘a rising tide lifts all boats’ is associated with the idea that improvements in the general economy will benefit all participants in that economy, and that economic policy, particularly government economic policy, should therefore focus on the general macroeconomic environment first and foremost.

While Manhattan is now plateauing in its sales and prices, surrounding areas such as Brooklyn seem to be hitting it out of the park, according to a Wall Street Journal report.

Signs that this ‘wave’ will be hitting the shores of New Jersey are already showing up. And in Bergen County, for February 2017, new listings have fallen by 5.1% from 2016, but days on market have also fallen by over 15% since 2016. Demand is outstripping supply, and the inventory available has fallen a dramatic 28% from 2016 to 2,482 homes from 3,489 in 2016.

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 Digital Crime Wave

We live in a digital world which means we have access to more things and areas of our lives than ever! But access not only becomes a convenience, but also a vulnerability which makes it more important than ever to protect our digital identities from digital threats.

Identity theft is a serious, escalating problem. According to the U.S Department of Justice, 17.6 million people-or a full 7% of those 16 and older-experienced some form of identity theft in 2014.

That’s more than twice as many as suffered a broken bone, which is routinely covered by medical benefits. Several trends are increasing the risk of identity theft. As we interact digitally in more ways with more organizations, there are more places for our identities to be stolen. Our vulnerability to identity theft grows even further as those organizations propagate data across a larger number of information systems and share it with third parties.

Download the free report by clicking here!

Fast Facts on Foreclosures

■  Foreclosure inventory rates decreased to 0.8%, down from 1.1% last year.
■  Serious delinquency rate, loans 90 days or more past due, dropped to 2.5%, which is down from 3.2% in 2016.
■  Early-stage delinquencies, loans 30 to 59 days past due, decreased in January to 2.1%, from 2016’s 2.4%.
■  The share of mortgages 60 to 89 days past due decreased to 0.7%, which is down from 0.8% in 2016.

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.

Rising Rents Are Still A Factor

According to the U.S. Commerce Department, fewer Americans own homes than ever. One reason appears to be that renters are staying put by necessity. Results from Freddie Mac reflect that the number of respondents who said they expect to move during the next two years fell to 33% from 38% since September.

■  Renters today feel better about their finances, and like where they are living.
■  A Zillow survey reported that more than two-thirds of renters said that saving for a down payment was keeping them from buying a home.
■  Zillow’s “Housing Aspirations Report” found that approximately half of renters surveyed said high levels of debt are a principal reason for them not being able to qualify for a mortgage.
■  For many, a 20% down payment was a big hurdle to overcome.
■  Bank of America surveys found that millennials were looking for cheaper starter homes.
■  The U.S. Commerce Department reported that housing starts surged to their highest level in 9.5 years.

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.

Spring Sales Update: Homes Flying Off the Shelves This Spring

According to the report by CNBC:
■  Home sales jumped nearly 9% in March compared with March 2016.
■  The number of homes for sale plunged 13% according to a new report from Redfin.
■  Demand increased causing the fastest average sales pace since 2010.
■  The average home went to contract in 49 days, falling from an average of 60 days in 2016.
■  The median price of a home sold in March to $273,000, up 7.5% year over year.
■  Mortgage applications rose 1.5 percent last week
■  The average loan size for existing homes reached the highest on record this month.

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.

Looks Like Fishing for Jersey is No Fluke

Breaking News: The Wall Street Journal reported that “the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission voted to reduce the recreational fishing quota for the East Coast summer flounder by 30% this year, following a 10% quota cut last year.”

Bob Martin, New Jersey’s environmental protection commissioner, stated that “the stricter quota would cost jobs and hurt summer tourism at the New Jersey shore, where recreational fishing is a $1.5 billion industry.”

The impact will be felt by many businesses up and down the fish food chain, including:

■ Charter boats
■ Marinas
■ Local tackle shops
■ Local diners
■ Delis

The fluke population has rebounded back from an overfished condition back in 1989, measured at 5,000 metric tons, to 36,000 metric tons in 2015. The decline from 2010 showed federal data indicating the stock declined an estimated 22% between 2010 and 2015.

No clear reason was given for the declining numbers of fluke since 2010, when they were 46,222 metric tons, but it is believed to be the combined result of low reproduction and overzealous fishing.

Pockets in New Jersey Turn Golden

In the midst of a very strong real estate market, some communities have fared better than others: one is Ocean Grove, New Jersey.

According to Wikipedia, “Ocean Grove was founded in 1869 as an outgrowth of the camp meeting movement in the United States, when a group of Methodist clergymen, led by William B. Osborn and Ellwood H. Stokes, formed the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association to develop and operate a summer camp meeting site on the New Jersey seashore.”

The religiously historic town now has a three-story home located on Ocean Pathway in Ocean Grove, listed for $1.35 million. For some beach towns, that price-tag might be normal, but this house was bought for $135,000 in 2008. Not even the stock market provides returns like that!

The aphorism “a rising tide lifts all boats” is associated with the idea that improvements in the general economy will benefit all participants in that economy is surely raising the real estate values within the Ocean Grove market.

One of the reasons for this real estate revival is due to the renewal of Ocean Grove’s neighboring towns, including Asbury Park and Bradley Beach. According to some reports, millions of dollars have been spent renovating Asbury Park since the years of the Great Recession, making Asbury Park one of New Jersey’s new destination locations.  Asbury Park’s recent investment to build a multi-billion-dollar redevelopment plan for the town’s waterfront will add 2,100 homes, 300 hotel rooms and various other mixed-use developments.

Property values have increased by more than 25 percent since 2014 in Ocean Grove.

Ocean Grove’s average tax bill is $6,176; this compares to Asbury Park’s average of $5,150.

In one of Counsellors Title’s recent blogs, we noted that Ocean and Monmouth counties posted the most pending sales for February in New Jersey.

Using the Free Facebook Targeting Tool

Facebook has some incredibly advanced (yet simple to use) targeting features within its Ad Manager, but an under-discussed free tool is its Targeting option for organic posts, which can be used to improve the relevancy of posts. Although this might actually limit the number of people who see the post, the recipients have expressed interest in the topic – making them more primed for conversion. To get started, simply create a new post and click on the crosshairs icon to set a preferred audience.

News from the National Association of Realtors

The National Association of Realtors see the biggest bottleneck to purchases is the shortage of inventory. But that isn’t all.

Mixed signals on the economy. Home sales are down while contract signings are up. The one common statistic, though, is that households want to buy. They just can’t always find much inventory to look at and often homes are out of their price range. The Voice for Real Estate for the week of April 3 also looks at the coming tax reform debate, how reauthorization of federal flood insurance is shaping up, and the challenges facing the appraisal industry. A quick look at the AE Institute in Denver is covered as well.

Generational Wealth and Millennials Rising

Approximately 70% of the wealth and affluent market is comprised of Americans age 52 or older who have at least $100,000 in investable assets. Baby Boomers account for more than half (55%) of the market while the Silent Generation represents 15%. Approximately 13% of the wealth and affluent market now is composed of the Millennial generation, who are age 36 or younger. They are gaining on the members of Generation X, who make up the remaining 17% of the market, and who are faced with financial challenges of aging parents and education costs for their children.

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

Counsellors Title Agency, www.counsellorstitle.com, 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 American Dream of Homeownership

Spending on housing declined to 15.6% of GDP, according to a study expected to be released Monday by the Rosen Consulting Group, a real-estate consultant.

How this comparatively factors into the overall picture is compared with a 60-year average of just under 19%. In addition, the share of spending linked to new-home construction and remodeling has fallen to 3.6% of GDP, which is approximately half what it was in 2005.

Some of the factors contributing to this strained recovery are the credit standards that the industry is now subject to, as well as a highly regulated environment, which is ham-stringing both middle-class families and the overall economic growth. Additionally, construction is slow to meet the needs for new housing. In some markets, some builders have built only 10% of what they had back in 2006.

Homeownership Rates According to U.S. Census

2016: 63.5
2015: 63.7%
2014: 64.8%
2013: 65.0%
2012: 65.4%
2011: 66.4%
2010: 67.1%
2009: 67.3%
2008: 67.8%
2007: 68.4%
2006: 68.5%
2005: 69.1%

Economic Disruption

  • Mortgage lending standards
  • Households putting off marriage and children
  • Inventory shortages
  • Increasing mortgage rates
  • Labor shortages
  • Regulatory barriers
  • Rising home prices

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