New Jersey’s Municipal Mania

It appears that New Jersey’s plethora of municipal governments is the key factor for the high rate of property taxes. The costs to run each of these disparate operations is costly. Here are the facts:

New Jersey has 565 municipalities
New Jersey also has more than 600 school districts
New Jersey also has more than 600 school superintendents
There are the 21 county governments and their bureaucracies
Public worker salaries and benefits are very high in New Jersey
The high cost of goods & services throughout New York-New Jersey-Philadelphia regions

Two Examples:
Bergen County
Bergen County has 70 municipalities and 70 fire departments.
Bergen County has about a tenth of New York City’s population but more pieces of firefighting equipment than New York does.

Maryland vs. New Jersey
Maryland, which is about the size of New Jersey, ye it only has 157 municipalities as compared to New Jersey’s 565. Maryland’s median property tax bill is $3,305 compared to New Jersey’s $7,905.

S&P-Case-Shiller Report Trends Higher

Homes hit another milestone high, according to the S&P/Case-Shiller U.S. National Home Price Index, which reported that home prices rose 5.9% year-over-year in January. This figure eclipsed December’s 5.7% annual gain.

The S&P/Case Shiller 20-City Composite Index, which tracks the nation’s largest cities, gained 5.7% year-over-year in January, up from December’s 5.5% gain.

The S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller Indices is a monthly report published on the last Tuesday of each month, constructed to accurately track the price path of typical single-family homes located in each metropolitan area provided.

 

Real Estate & the National Picture

Sales of all existing homes nationwide fell 3.7% to an annual rate of 5.48 million in February from January’s rate of 5.69 million.

The February 2017 median price increased for the 60th straight month, for year-over-year price gains, for all types of existing homes. It was reported to be $228,400, a 7.7% increase from February 2016’s median price of $212,100.

Housing supply continues to be the single major factor impacting this market: the number of homes for sale at the end of February increased by 4.2% to 1.75 million units, representing a 3.8-month supply.

Notwithstanding, February’s inventory was 6.4% lower than February 2016’s 1.87 million homes. The inventory story continues with February marking the 21st consecutive month of year-over-year inventory attenuation.

Good News for New Home Sales
February’s new home sales were 12.8% higher than February 2016’s pace of 525,000. The sales of new, single-family houses during February grew 6.1%, hitting an annual rate of 592,000, according to a report from the Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Fast Facts
February’s median sales price for new homes was $296,200
February’s average price was $390,400
The number of new houses for sale at the end of February totaled 266,000
The warm winter gave builders the opportunity to keep construction projects going

Ocean and Monmouth Counties Most in Pending Sales

New Jersey Realtor YouTube

  • Buyer Activity Outpacing Seller Activity
  • Faster Selling Times
  • Demand Remains Strong in February
  • Closed Sales Increased 16.2% from February 2016
  • The Number of Sales Shot Up from 7,877 to 9,155
  • Seems that there aren’t enough homes to go around
  • The number of homes for sale fell by 18.8% from 2016
  • Ocean County had the most active listings
  • Median Sales Price Rose by 1.2%
  • Months Supply of Inventory fell 27%
  • Percent of Price Received Rose to 96.7% up from 95.9%

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.

Your Company Must-Have Website Checklist

Items you should check on your website navigation:

■ Your business name and logo featured prominently.
■ Your phone number with a click-to-call option for smartphone users.
■ A description of your business and services.
■ Photos.
■ Links to your company Facebook page.
■ The address of your main location at the bottom of each page.
■ A navigation menu at the top of each page.
■ An “about” page with your company’s story and history
■ A “contact us” page that includes hours of operation, a map to your location, your address, email and phone number.

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.

 

 

LinkedIn Changes

LinkedIn has changed their format. It is now more of a newsfeed. The purpose of the redesign of the LinkedIn platform was made to reflect the trends of video, graphic and engagement optimization easier for all those who are in your network. The end-game is to increase total overall user engagement, so I will expect to see more changes.

Maximize your engagement with the recent newsfeed – and interact with those posts that you think are relevant and may be important for your network, and share them.

Track those items that garner a lot of attention, and contribute to the feed! If the post comes through one of your influencers, make sure you ‘like it’ and ‘share it.’

Try to be intentional about your engagement: any posts that you get from outside of LinkedIn, copy the link and then during the course of the week, usually on Wednesdays and Thursdays, share them.

Use meaningful images: pictures still speak louder than words.

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.

Meals and Money

Recently I came across some facts about food, family and finances. The disparate information was helpful, but combined, all these findings gave me pause as to how our behavior when it comes to buying food, eating it and who we eat it with produces some very meaningful takeaways.

We all love to eat out for a lot of reasons: first of all because it gets us out of the house, which during winter is a good thing. Yet, there are some hidden drawbacks to such a “mobile menu”:

■  The average restaurant dish contains 60% more calories than a homemade meal
■  The average restaurant meal costs between $9 and $25 per person
■  The average spent for a family of four weekly at restaurants is more than $200
■  A 2000 survey found that the 9- to 14-year-olds who ate dinner with their families most frequently ate more fruits and vegetables and less soda and fried foods.
■  Diets eaten at home also had higher amounts of many key nutrients, like calcium, iron, and fiber.
■  Eating family dinners at least five times a week drastically lowers a teen’s chance of smoking, drinking, and using drugs. Teens who had fewer than three family dinners a week were 3.5 times more likely to have abused prescription drugs and to have used illegal drugs other than marijuana, three times more likely to have used marijuana, more than 2.5 times more likely to have smoked cigarettes, and 1.5 times more likely to have tried alcohol, according to the CASA report.
■  Of teens who eat with their family fewer than three times a week, 20% get C’s or lower on their report cards, according to the CASA report. Only 9% of teens who eat frequently with their families do this poorly in school.  A Columbia University study found that adolescents who enjoy five to seven family dinners per week were twice as likely to earn A’s and B’s at school, compared to those teens who have fewer than three family dinners per week.
■  If you have a demanding job, finding time to eat with your family may actually leave you feeling less stressed. In 2008, researchers at Brigham Young University conducted a study of IBM workers.
■  Researchers found that young children learned 1,000 rare words at the dinner table, compared to only 143 from parents reading storybooks aloud.
■  When meal time is used to converse and bond, the impact is palpable: reports show teens who eat with their families at home show fewer signs of depression and feel more supported than those who do not.

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 Seller Checklist

■  Educate yourself about your market. If you price your home correctly, in New Jersey at least, you will get approximately 96% of your list price. Overpricing your home can hurt you in the short and long run by pushing away buyers who are prepared to spend what your home is worth. If you overprice, buyers will think that if they wait, they can get a better price.

■  In addition, a home that has been on the market a longer time than what is normal for the area will produce an impression that there is something very wrong with the home.
■  Get a real estate agent to represent you. There is a lot of groundwork that goes into every property transaction, and agents are knowledgeable in transactions.
■  Be prepared by getting a home estimate. There are online resources that will help give you a good idea of what your home is worth.
■  Calculate what the cost of selling your home will be.
■  Get a reputable real estate attorney.
■  Know what the mortgage payoff will be.
■  When you sell your home, there are other costs associated with the purchase, which can include moving expenses and rent for where you are moving.
■  Make sure you are up to date on your property taxes.
■  Finally, plan out your move.

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.

February 2017 Monmouth & Ocean Results

Monmouth County 2017 Single Family
Key Metrics        2016       2017       Percent Change
New Listings       912         979         + 7.3%
Closed Sales       325         350         + 7.7%
Days on Mrkt     81           74            – 8.6%
Median Px       $380K   $371.75K  – 2.2%
%o Px Rcvd         95.5%    97.6%    + 2.2%
Inventory            3,305     2,770      – 16.2%
Month Supply   6.8          4.9           – 27.9%

 

Ocean County Single Family Homes Feb 2017

Key Metrics         2016       2017       Percent Change
New Listings       1,191       1,134         – 4.8%
Closed Sales          376         425         + 13.0%
Days on Mrkt        109         97            – 11.0%
Median Px          $260K    $271.75K  + 4.5%
% of Px Rcvd        95.6%    96.2%       + 0.6%
Inventory              4,853     3,926         – 19.1%
Month Supply          9.3          6.2         – 33.3%

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.

Seller Optimism Sizzles

The National Association of Realtors report also found that 69% of homeowners think “now is a good time to sell,” which is up from 62% from the fourth quarter and up from 56% from this time in 2016.

Optimism Soars for U.S. Households
According to the most recent National Association of Realtors sturdy, 62% of U.S. households believe the economy is improving, hitting its highest mark since creating the survey five quarters ago.

This represents a significant improvement   soared to its highest share in the survey’s five-quarter history in comparison to the 54% from the last quarter in 2016 and 48% for March 2016.

The report stated that its, “Personal Financial Outlook Index showing respondents’ confidence that their financial situation will be better in six months, jumped to its highest reading in the survey, climbing to 62.6% in March from 59.8% in December 2016. In 2016, the index was 58.1%.”

“…most households believe now is a good time to buy a home. However, confidence continues to trickle backwards among renters… 80% of homeowners (78% in December 2016; 82% in March 2016) think now is a good time to make a home purchase.”

The report noted that buyers will continue to face the same three challenges:

  • Shortage of inventory
  • Rising mortgage rates
  • A surging buyer pool

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.

Part 2 Foreclosure Story

When the Wall Street Journal reported that Goldman Sachs purchased of a portfolio of non-performing loans from Fannie Mae, it wasn’t the first time. No, this has been an ongoing process in which Goldman has made purchases of severely delinquent home loans from the government-sponsored agency.

Since 2015, the big bank has been placing some betting money on the table so to speak: as much as $9.6 billion in the way of buying Fannie Mae loans.

With this recent purchase of three of the four non-performing loan pools, totaling $1.43 billion in unpaid principal balance, this may be a very positive signal for the real estate industry overall.

The Journal believes that, “Goldman is trying to make money even as it looks to fulfill terms of a government settlement that calls for it to help struggling homeowners.”

“The bank’s immediate goal is to get credit for the settlement, though the longer-term goal is to make money over time, the people said. That can happen by the firm collecting mortgage payments if it gets borrowers back on track, or by selling the loans once the borrowers are up-to-date again.”

But the timing for this investment points to something larger: it is most likely that the Goldman number crunchers see the signs of a new bull market, but this time it will come in the form of real estate appreciation.

Goldman isn’t the only Wall Street firm dipping its toe back into the water: Neuberger Berman via PRMF Acquisition acquired three pools of NPLs from Fannie Mae it purchased 4,721 loans with an aggregate unpaid principal balance of $759,860,824.

In this latest sale, PRMF Acquisition acquired 1,551 NPLs with an aggregate unpaid principal balance of $234,057,619.

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.

Foreclosures Hit New Low

ATTOM Data Solutions released their recent February report showing 17 consecutive months of annual decreases. The report presents foreclosure data hitting an 11-year low, dating back to November 2005.

Still, there were a score of states reporting increases in foreclosure activity which includes New Jersey posting a jump of 16%. Notwithstanding, foreclosure activity still remains below pre-recession levels.

Other states reporting increases in foreclosure activity were:
■  Delaware – 14%
■  Louisiana – 12%
■  Alabama – 10%
■  Hawaii – 8%

States seeing annual increases in foreclosure starts:
■  Alabama up 40%
■  Texas up 26% (Foreclosure starts increased three of the last four months in Texas. 33% of foreclosures are tied to bubble-era loans)
■  New Jersey up 24% (Foreclosure starts increased two of the last three months in New Jersey. Bubble-era loans still represent approximately 61%)
■  Florida up 12% (bubble-era loans still represent approximately 56% in Florida)
■  Illinois up 11%
■  Arizona up 9% (Foreclosure starts increased six of the last 12 months in Arizona. only 39% of foreclosures are tied to bubble-era loans)

For the first-time in a decade, CoreLogic issued its own report on the state of foreclosures, “The report examines the path of the residential foreclosure crisis beginning with the relatively healthy years early in the 2000s, through the peak of the crisis, to present day. The country has started to normalize, recording approximately 22,000 completed foreclosures a month.”

Overview from Corelogic Report
Since the beginning of 2007, there have been approximately 7.8 million completed foreclosures nationally. Beginning in Q2 2004 when homeownership rates peaked, there have been approximately 8.6 million homes lost to foreclosure.

At the end of 2016, the national foreclosure inventory, which reflects all homes in some stage of the foreclosure process, included approximately 336,000, or 0.9%, of all homes with a mortgage compared with 1.4 million homes, or 3.3%, at the peak of the residential foreclosure crisis in September 2010.

CoreLogic, reported during the housing crisis that the number of mortgages in serious delinquency, defined as 90 days or more past due, hit a peak of 3.7 million mortgages, or 8.6% of homes with a mortgage in January 2010. By the end of 2016, 1 million mortgages, or 2.6% of homes with a mortgage, were in serious delinquency.

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.

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