Happy President’s Day

Presidents’ Day is an American holiday celebrated on the third Monday in February. Originally established in 1885 in recognition of President George Washington, it is still officially called “Washington’s Birthday” by the federal government. Traditionally celebrated on February 22—Washington’s actual day of birth—the holiday became popularly known as Presidents’ Day after it was moved as part of 1971’s Uniform Monday Holiday Act, an attempt to create more three-day weekends for the nation’s workers. While several states still have individual holidays honoring the birthdays of Washington, Abraham Lincoln and other figures, Presidents’ Day is now popularly viewed as a day to celebrate all U.S. presidents past and present.

77 Percent of Americans Own a Smartphone

Nearly nine-in-ten Americans today are online, up from about half in the early 2000s. Pew Research Center has chronicled this trend and others through more than 15 years of surveys on Internet and technology use. They released a new set of fact sheets that will be updated as they collect new data and can serve as a one-st

77% of Americans Own a Smart Phone

op shop for anyone looking for information on key trends in digital technology.

To mark the occasion, here are four key trends illustrating the current technology landscape in the U.S.

1. Three-quarters of Americans (77%) now own a smartphone, with lower-income Americans and those ages 50 and older exhibiting a sharp uptick in ownership over the past year, according a Pew Research Center survey conducted in November 2016. Smartphone adoption has more than doubled since the Center began surveying on this topic in 2011: That year, 35% of Americans reported that they owned a smartphone of some kind.

Smartphones are nearly ubiquitous among younger adults, with 92% of 18- to 29-year-olds owning one. But growth in smartphone ownership over the past year has been especially pronounced among Americans 50 and older. Nearly three-quarters (74%) of Americans ages 50-64 are now smartphone owners (a 16-percentage-point increase compared with 2015), as are 42% of those 65 and older (up 12 points from 2015). There has also been a 12-point increase in smartphone ownership among households earning less than $30,000 per year: 64% of these lower-income Americans now own a smartphone.

2. After a modest decline between 2013 and 2015, the share of Americans with broadband service at home increased by 6 percentage points in 2016. Between 2013 and 2015, the share of Americans with home broadband service decreased slightly – from 70% to 67%. But in the past year, broadband adoption rates have returned to an upward trajectory. As of November 2016, nearly three-quarters (73%) of Americans indicate that they have broadband service at home. But although broadband adoption has increased to its highest level since the Center began tracking this topic in early 2000, not all Americans have shared in these gains. For instance, those who have not graduated from high school are nearly three times less likely than college graduates to have home broadband service (34% vs. 91%). Broadband adoption also varies by factors such as age, household income, geographic location and racial and ethnic background.

Even as broadband adoption has been on the rise, 12% of Americans say they are “smartphone dependent” when it comes to their online access – meaning they own a smartphone but lack traditional broadband service at home. The share of Americans who are smartphone dependent has increased 4 percentage points since 2013, and smartphone reliance is especially pronounced among young adults, nonwhites and those with relatively low household incomes.

3. Nearly seven-in-ten Americans now use social media. When the Center started tracking social media adoption in 2005, just 5% of Americans said they used these platforms. Today, 69% of U.S. adults are social media users. Social media is especially popular among younger adults, as 86% of 18- to 29-year-olds are social media users. But a substantial majority of those ages 30-49 (80%) and 50-64 (64%) use social media as well. Only about one-third (34%) of Americans 65 and older currently use social media, but that figure has grown dramatically in recent years: As recently as 2010, only around one-in-ten Americans age 65 and older used social media.

4. Half the public now owns a tablet computer. Though less widespread than smartphones, tablet computers have also become highly common in a very short period of time. When the Center first began tracking tablet ownership in 2010, just 3% of Americans owned a tablet of some kind. That figure has risen to 51% as of November 2016.

Word From NJ – Summer Shore Looks Good

Shore properties were being scooped up in the second weak in January in some shore towns

Life Guard Chair Avon By the Sea

such as Bradley Beach. Usually rentals don’t post until February, but this year seems the inventory shortage is having an effect on summer rentals as well.

The good thing about early rentals is that they are paying the asking price, and being paid six months ahead of time.

Some rentals are meriting $4,000 for a week in high season, some report!

According to an article in the Philadelphia Inquirer, “Rentals in Ocean City’s prime ‘high season’ — from mid-July to mid-August — start at around $1,500 a week for a one-bedroom condo and go as high as $18,000 a week for a seven-bedroom house on the beach…[and] a four-bedroom apartment that rents for $4,000 a week in Ocean City.”

According to the article, the number of signed contracts is up over 33% from 2016.

In a lot of ways, 2017 represents a return to normal, after the chaos of Superstorm Sandy that left many of the quaint shore towns without adequate roads and properties still waiting for renovation.

The good news is that the 2017 summer tourist season is going to have a complete complement of restaurants, amusement parks, beach retail shops, and plenty of events to keep everyone busy.

Tourism is New Jersey’s second-largest industry, pulling 95 million people and $43.4 billion down to its 130 miles of coastline, spanning from Sandy Hook to Cape May. The thing about rentals is that if the weather holds up, and the renters are careful about the property, many come back year-after-year.

It is also great for the 318,000 jobs it created back in 2015: most likely that number will be significantly higher.

Blue Apron Expands New Jersey Presence

Another Internet Company in NJ

It was recently reported that Blue Apron is planning to expand its operations to Linden, New Jersey.

Blue Apron in New Jersey

Blue Apron is a leading fresh-meal kit delivery company based in New York City.

The company expects to employ over 2,000 people in the new Linden facility upon construction of a new 495,000-square-foot fulfillment center by the end of 2017.

One of the reasons for Blue Apron’s expansion is to meet strong customer demand and to help improve operational logistics and efficiencies.

Currently, Blue Apron operates fulfillment centers in Jersey City; Arlington, Texas; and Richmond, California. The company is also planning to roll out an additional fulfillment center in Fairfield, California, in 2018.

The decision to build out a Linden facility was the result of efforts in part by Choose New Jersey, the privately-funded business attraction and retention arm of New Jersey. Blue Apron’s decision was based upon Linden’s proximity to more than 22 million consumers. Nearly 40% of the U.S. population also can be reached within two days from New Jersey via its transportation and rail infrastructure.

Equity Rich Properties Climb to Nearly 14 Million

Seriously underwater properties are down by 1 million from 2015.

According to ATTOM Data Solutions, curator of the nation’s largest fused property database, the number of equity rich U.S. properties increased by 1.3 million from 2015.

U.S. Equity Rich Properties Climb Higher

The ATTOM Data Solutions report shows that as of the end of 2016, there were 5.4 million (5,408,323) U.S. properties seriously underwater — where the combined loan amount secured by the property was at least 25% higher than the property’s estimated market value — a decrease of more than 1 million properties (1,028,058) from a year ago.

The 5.4 million seriously underwater properties at the end of 2016 represented 9.6% of all U.S. properties with a mortgage. This figure is down from the 10.8% at the end of Q3 2016 and down from 11.5% at the end of 2015.

Daren Blomquist, senior vice president with ATTOM Data Solutions, said, “Meanwhile, the number of equity rich homeowners has increased by nearly 4.8 million over the past three years, a rate of about 1.6 million each year. Between 2000 and 2008, our data shows the average homeownership tenure nationwide was 4.26 years, but that average tenure has been trending steadily higher since 2009, reaching a new record high of 7.88 years for homeowners who sold in 2016.”

The report also found that as of the end of 2016 there were 13.9 million (13,877,315) U.S. properties that were equity rich.

The 13.9 million equity rich properties at the end of 2016 represented 24.6% of all U.S. properties with a mortgage, up from 23.4% at the end of Q3 2016 and up from 22.5% at the end of 2015.

Valentine’s Day Ideas for New Jersey

Checking out a great article on NJ.com it offers some wonderful and romantic ideas for Valentine’s Day 2017.

Even though Valentine Day’s comes along in the dead of winter, there are some great spots you can go with your sweetheart.  Here are Jersey’s ten most romantic spots, with several off the beaten path or with a decidedly Jersey spin.

Click this link to check 

 

Mortgage Applications Pop

According to the Mortgage Bankers Association mortgage applications increased by 2.3% on a seasonally adjusted basis for the week from the previous week. This bodes well for the upcoming spring buying season, reflecting that there will be significant buying interest this coming spring 2017.

On a comparative basis, when matched with 2016 applications, the total number of mortgage applications has fallen by 23% which is attributed to the significant drop in refinancings, reflecting the pool of potential refinancers has contracted.

Overall Stats
■  Mortgage applications to purchase a home rose by 2% from the prior week.
■  Mortgage applications to purchase a home are 3.6% higher than in 2016.
■  Buyer demand has been increasing steadily.
■  The inventory of homes for sale remains historically low.
■  Buyers appear to be competitively positioned.

American Dream Stays Strong

According to the National Association of Realtors® over 90% of homeowners polled believed that owning a home is still part of the American Dream. Even among non-homeowners, approximately 80% of those polled felt the same way about owning a home.

Yet, it appears that the shadow of the crash of 2008 still looms large in their understanding. Increased home prices, taxes, student debt for those recently graduated and a lack of understanding about down payments may be creating barriers to entry.

The survey also found that among non-homeowners, there was less optimism about the possibility of purchasing a home: with those who believed it was a good time to buy declining from 63% in the first quarter to 55% in the fourth quarter of 2016.

The survey showed that among all non-homeowners 87% said that they want to own a home in the future.

It appears that high rents, rising home prices and limited inventory especially in the starter home category has restricted entry to the homeownership market.

Homeownership is also not the only thing being postponed; so is marriage, starting families and saving for retirement.

A separate NAR study from 2016 showed that approximately three-quarters of non-homeowners who are employed and repaying their student loans on time feel their debt is holding them back.

Real Facts About the Down Payment
The NAR’s Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers has shown that the median down payment for first-time buyers has been 6% for three straight years and 14% for repeat buyers in three of the past four years. Yet, when non-homeowners were asked about the amount of a down payment needed to purchase a home, 87% of non-owners felt that a down payment of 10% or more is a prerequisite.

If you have any questions about this information or title insurance, please contact Counsellors Title at 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 Is Buyers Month

February is Black History Month. It also includes two other famous national holidays: Presidents Day and Valentine’s Day.

But February is also, according to ATTOM Data Solutions, the best month to buy a home.

The data solutions company discovered, based upon metrics, that buyers get more bang for their buck during this seasonally slow month for real estate.

According to the website, buyers “are likely to get the best deal of the year.”

ATTOM Data Solutions analyzed the numbers and found that over a span of 16 years and more than 50 million single family and condo sales, February is the best month for home buying bargains, and eight of the top 10 best days for buying a home are in February.

Stats

  • Median Price per square foot in February offers a 6.1% discount
  • Median Price per square foot in January offers a 5.6% discount

If you have any questions about this information or title insurance, please contact Counsellors Title at 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.

Mindful Mondays-The Benefits of Adding Some Weight

No, not that kind of weight; barbell weight.

There some wonderful reasons that you should build into your daily rituals that habit of a short weight-lifting program. Besides the fact that it will make you look better and feel better, here are just a few of the benefits:

1. Living longer: muscle mass reduces the risk of death
Strength training possesses some very specific benefits. According to a 2014 UCLA study, the more muscle mass we have, the less likely we are to die prematurely.

2. Improves the quality of sleep: resistance training reduces nighttime wake-ups
Men who integrate resistance training into their lives report better sleep. Especially in older men, research shows that resistance training reduced the number of times the men woke up during the night.

3. Results in a better frame of mind
A better frame of body results in a better frame of mind. Often, one’s physical strength will produce a strength of mind and spirit to tackle tough projects at work.

4. Produces a sense of well-being: capacity corresponds to higher level of emotional stamina
In a culture and society that ‘thrives’ on disruption, the sense of control will produce self-control and focus.

5. Increases bone density: fortifies your bone mass
Studies show that weight-bearing exercise and strength training increases bone density. This is important because this will reduce the risk of fractures and breaks in older adults.

6. Improves your balance: the body becomes accustomed to balancing itself
Weightlifting’s benefit improves strength, agility and balance. The big benefit is fewer falls – by as much as 30%.

7. Quality of Mind: Quality of Relationships
Frankly, if you are in better condition you will feel good, and if you feel good (and look good) you will mostly likely make the effort to connect with people. Weight-training has been found to reduce the symptoms of depression and increase your cognitive abilities.

8. Increases your metabolism: you burn more calories
Simply having more muscle on your frame helps your body burn up extra calories — even when you’re sitting completely still.

9. Fast-track training: 60 minutes a week
Adding a strength workout of around 30 to 60 minutes a week, total, is plenty, according to Runner’s Times.

10. No monthly memberships: do it in a commercial-free zone at home
You can do it in your own home.

Macy’s Real Estate Clearance Rack

Back in August, the company announced plans to close about 100 stores. Last week, it identified about two-thirds of the locations that will be shuttered. It is expected that they will close within a few months.

The objective of the closures is most likely to eliminate under-performing locations, but there is a silver lining, and that being the company can free up lots of cash by liquidating the real estate it owns.

According to the Fox Business article, “A few of the stores that Macy’s is closing this year are getting the ax specifically because they are sitting on valuable real estate. Selling these will generate the vast majority of Macy’s real estate proceeds. On the other hand, most of the stores slated for closure are located in subpar malls and thus aren’t worth very much… The top 150-200 properties in Macy’s real estate portfolio (out of its more than 700 locations) account for the vast majority of its real estate value. However, these stores are strongly profitable despite the company’s recent struggles.”

According to some experts, Macy’s flagship store in NYC on 34th Street could be worth $4 billion.

Macy’s has been selling-off some of its city-center real estate: in November, Macy’s announced that it was selling the building containing its men’s store in San Francisco for $250 million and leasing it back, freeing up a chunk of cash.

Macy’s also reported that it had signed a contract to sell its downtown store in Portland, Oregon, for $54 million, which will be closing in the next few months.

The company also chose to close its Minneapolis flagship store and sell the property, with a value of approximately $40 million.

 

Stores Closing in the NY/NJ/PA Region

  • Douglaston, Douglaston, NY (158,000 square feet; opened in 1981; 144 associates)
  • Moorestown, Moorestown, NJ (200,000 square feet; opened in 1999; 107 associates)
  • Voorhees Town Center, Voorhees, NJ (224,000 square feet; opened in 1970; 77 associates)
  • Preakness, Wayne, NJ (81,000 square feet; opened in 1963; 72 associates)
  • Great Northern, Clay, NY (88,000 square feet; opened in 1989; 55 associates)
  • Oakdale Mall, Johnson City, NY (140,000 square feet; opened in 2000; 58 associates)
  • The Marketplace, Rochester, NY (149,000 square feet; opened in 1982; 77 associates)
  • Neshaminy, Bensalem, PA (211,000 square feet; opened in 1968; 89 associates)
  • Shenango Valley, Hermitage, PA (106,000 square feet; opened in 1976; 69 associates)
  • Beaver Valley, Monaca, PA (203,000 square feet; opened in 1987; 78 associates)
  • Lycoming, Muncy, PA (120,000 square feet; opened in 1995; 61 associates)
  • Plymouth Meeting, Plymouth Meeting, PA (214,000 square feet; opened in 1966; 74 associates)
  • Washington Crown Center, Washington, PA (148,000 square feet; opened in 1999; 67 associates)

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