Get Your Jaws Around an Italian
To consume a Jimmy Buff’s Italian hot dog like a normal sandwich, you need an elastic jaw like a python’s. Short of that, the pleasure is in the deconstruction, bite by bite, of deep-fried potatoes, onions and peppers stuffed into a half loaf of soft pizza bread on top of one or two deep-fried hot dogs or Italian sausages. Jimmy Buff’s has been serving hot dogs this way since 1932. Then as now—the health-conscious will appreciate this—everything is fried in soybean oil. (East Hanover, Scotch Plains, West Orange, Kenilworth and Randolph; jimmybuff.com)
Get a Blowout at the Jerseylicious Salon
Nobody ever said just because you live in New Jersey you have to look the part—the one portrayed by the many reality-TV series set here, that is—but that doesn’t mean a few hours spent in pursuit of the Jersey Girl look is not an essential New Jersey experience. And why go halfway? Skip the spray tan and head straight to Green Brook and Gatsby Salon, home of the Style Network’s Jerseylicious. It takes a while to get an appointment, and your blow-dry-and-style (starting at $30) is not apt to be administered by owner/star Gayle Giacomo herself. But you will walk out with Texas-sized hair and a feeling of superiority to Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi, a poser from Marlboro, New York. (215 U.S. Highway 22; 732-752-4247; gatsbysalon.com)
One of the most common questions we get at this time of year is, “What’s going on in the market?” It’s not just potential buyers and sellers who are curious; homeowners always want reassurance their home’s value is going up. The good news is the American real estate market is strong and healthy: home values are up, prices and sales are strong, and millennial first-time buyers are eager to become homeowners.
We often use national real estate numbers to give us a clearer view of our local market. However, real estate is local, and while statistics and predictions help us understand the overall real estate market, our local market may be different. If you’re thinking of buying or selling, or just want to know how much your home is worth, give us a call!
What to Expect in the Real Estate Market in 2017
The American housing market is stronger than ever! Home values, prices and sales had their strongest numbers in 2016, a sure sign the market is healthy and strong. According to the Home Price Index from the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), property values have increased in 58 of the last 62 months and have increased more than 35 percent nationally. Homeowners continue to build equity in their largest investment—their homes.
First-time buyers are back.
Housing forecasts from the National Association of REALTORS (NAR), the Mortgage Bankers’ Association, Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae all predict existing-home sales will surpass 6 million in 2017, higher than anticipated sales for 2016. Who’s driving the surge? According to NAR, millennials who have put off buying a home are ready to buy. While they may have avoided buying a home due to student debt and limited employment, many are entering their 30s, a time when their attention turns to marriage, family and setting roots with homeownership. They’re predicted to be the driving force behind home and condominium sales from now until into 2020. (Source: MarketWatch)
What does this mean to you? If you’re a millennial who’s been on the fence about buying, now is the time to act. Give us a call to answer your questions about the market and the buying process.
Renters are embracing homeownership
Additionally, many renters who’ve resisted buying are starting home searches due to the economic weight of rising rents. This year’s home buyers seek to take advantage of comparatively low interest rates and, in most cases, static payments each month—an advantage of home ownership. Rental costs will only continue to rise; if you’re thinking of buying, now is an ideal time to do so.
What does this mean to you? Every month you pay rent, you lose the opportunity to build equity in a home of your own. Break free from the limits of renting and invest in your financial future. Come in the office and we’ll discuss your options.
Home prices are on the rise.
According to NAR, the median existing-home price not only increased 6.0 percent year-over-year in October, it’s also the 56th consecutive month of year-over-year increases. Prices are approaching the pre-recession peak.
What does this mean to you? Home prices, and subsequently home values, are increasing. If you’ve been waiting to list your home until you know you can sell it for what you think it’s worth, now is a great time to do so. We’ll be happy to give you a comparative market assessment of your home and help you get your home in list-ready shape.
If you’re in the market to buy, be prepared to act.
Homes were on the market for the shortest amount of time recorded since 2009: 52 days. The increase of qualified buyers in the market along with the increasing efficiency of the real estate process means homes are selling faster than ever, and in many cases buyers are engaging in bidding wars and paying over the list price to get the home of their dreams.
What does this mean to you? The home you have your eye on one day may be gone the next. In competitive markets, be prepared to come to the table with a competitive bid.
Looking for a new home?
New-home construction will increase to an average of 1.5 million per year to 2024, according to a report from NAR. However, experts anticipate housing starts will only increase to 1.22 million in 2017, which is less than the 1.5 million new homes required to keep up with growing demand. This inventory shortage of new entry-level homes—typically purchased by first-time buyers—may drive up prices in some areas. Home builders have been focusing on multi-family construction for the last few years, but this type of construction has begun to level off providing hope that builders will once again focus on single-family home construction. However, stricter proposed immigration policies may impact new home construction and tighten inventory.
What does this mean to you? First-time and repeat home buyers agree—there are plenty of advantages of buying a new home. Whether you want a home customized to your family’s needs or you don’t want to bother with age-related maintenance, a new home has much to offer. Give us a call to discuss your options.
Affordability pressures are increasing in many markets
Housing affordability in many of the nation’s largest cities has declined over the past few years, a trend that is expected to continue in 2017. However, there is hope. NAR created the Affordability Index to measure the affordability of homes across the United States. The Affordability Index assesses whether the typical family earning the median family income can qualify for a mortgage on a typical home based on the prevailing mortgage interest rate on loans closed on existing homes from the Federal Housing Finance Board.
The NAR Affordability Index is 170.2 (composite) and 169.8 (fixed), meaning a family earning the median family income has 170.2 percent of the income necessary to buy a median-priced, single-family home. Nationally, the qualifying income is $41,616, but it varies by region. In the Northeast, the qualifying income is $45,024. In the Midwest, it’s $32,640. In the South, it’s $36,960. In the West, it’s $61,824.
What does this mean to you? If you’ve had your eye on a new home, but weren’t sure if you could afford it, you may be pleasantly surprised. We may have homes in our area that meet your needs and budget. Give us a call today to discuss your home search.
3 Things to Do Now if You Plan to Buy This Year
- Get pre-approved for a mortgage. If you’re like most buyers who plan to finance part of the home purchase, getting pre-approved for a mortgage will allow you to put in an offer on a home and may give you an advantage over other buyers. The added bonus: you can see how much home you can afford and budget accordingly.
- Start looking. While most buyers start their searches online, be sure to look at homes in neighborhoods you’d like to live in as well. Keep a notebook to write down what you like and dislike about each home you view in person or online. This will help you narrow down where to look and what to look for in your next home.
- Come to our office. The buying process can be tricky. We’d love to guide you through it. We can help you find a home that fits your needs and budget. Give us a call to make an appointment today!
3 Things to Do Now if You Plan to Sell This Year
- Make repairs. Most buyers want a home they can move into right away, without having to make extensive repairs. While the repairs may or may not add value, making them will give your home a competitive advantage over other similar homes on the market.
- Get a Comparative Market Analysis (CMA). A CMA not only gives you the current market value of your home, it’ll also show how your home compares to others in the area. This will help us price your home to sell in our market. Call us for your free CMA!
- Start packing. Help your buyers see themselves in your home by packing up items you don’t use regularly and storing them in an attic or a storage space. This will make your home easier to stage as well as make it easier to move later on.
Are you thinking of buying or selling?
Whether you’d like to buy or sell a home this year, want to know how much your home is worth, or have general questions about our local market, give us a call! We’d love to discuss the market with you.
Go Victorian in Cape May
You don’t need to know the difference between a Queen Anne and a Gothic Revival to fall in love with Cape May Victoriana, which earned the town its designation as a National Historic Landmark. Here, “painted ladies” done up in bold color schemes and bedecked with gingerbread sit majestically, sometimes sweetly, along narrow streets in this increasingly hip seashore town. Bed-and-breakfasts, like the well-loved Chalfonte, abound, but daytrippers can take in the flavor through hourly walking and trolley tours. And don’t count out a wintertime visit: During Christmas in Cape May, through January, the town takes on a charming Dickensian vibe, with twinkling gaslights and robes of fragrant garland.
1. Seek Out Your Roots
Most Jersey folks have immigrant roots. Explore your own at the Ellis Island Immigration Museum, a short ferry ride from Jersey City’s Liberty State Park. The museum is located in the main building of the former immigration station complex, where 22 million new arrivals entered the country between 1892 and 1924, after passing the nearby Statue of Liberty. Take a self-guided interactive tour, check out the American Immigrant Wall of Honor and talk to a historian who will help you look up your family’s records. (ellisisland.org; 201-604-2800)