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Exterior Updates to Boost Resale Value

Exterior Updates to Boost Resale Value

One of the best tools in a seller's arsenal is curb appeal. The outside of a home or property is one of the first things a buyer sees, and while many times it's not on the outside that counts, when it comes to real estate, the outside of a home plays a huge part in whether a buyer is going to want to take a look inside.

If a property can catch a buyer's eye from the get go, the probability that the buyer will want to look inside exponentially grows. If you've put your property on the market and are not attracting the number of potential buyers you'd like, or you're considering putting your property on the market and would like to give it a step above the other options on the market, consider these exterior home updates to help attract more buyers and help the resale value of your home or property.


Unless your home or property is in an urban environment, say the middle of the city, it's highly likely you have some kind of yard or landscape. While not all homeowners enjoy working in the yard, a front yard or outdoor area makes a huge first impression on house hunters. Not to mention that 92 percent of home buyers now begin their search online, looking at pictures of homes, so showcasing the front of your home by landscaping or adding natural elements will undoubtedly help attract buyers and overall add to the total value of the home.

Real Estate UpdateAugust 2016

Hello, ladies and  gentlemen.  This is  Gloria Benaroch with  the  August  edition  of  Keeping  Current  Matters.  what I’m going to do is, first, cover the news, and then cover updates.
First off, the market is really doing very well  so far in  the  first six  months of  the  year.  As a matter  of fact, gave us this information: 
Number one, nationwide total home sales are up 5% compared with the first half of 2015, Overall,  we  had  the  best  spring  in  a  decade, and the summer’s looking pretty good also.  Insert Monmouth county slide

Monmouth County total single family sales year to date are up 19.7%  
Days on market have increased slight from last year from 63 to 78
Monmouth County total Condo Sales year to date are up  13.5% 
Days on market for condo sales are up slightly from 59 day to 69

Robust appreciation has restored home equity for many home owners, encouraging them to consider selling and buying  again,  which  is  exactly  what  we’re  looking  for.  And,  ladies  and  gentlemen,  I  wanted  to    give  you  a graph, on the existing home sales and pending home sales, so we can compare how far we’ve come over the last couple of years.

The grey that you see right here is 2014. That’s number of sales. Overlaid over that are 2015 and we can see it’s outside of last November, every single month beat 2014. And then we have 2016, the dark blue at  the  top. And every  month so far, we’re beaten 2015. So, we’re really doing  very,  well,      and  we’re blowing some numbers away, which makes the end of this year look very, promising.

Pending home sales is the same situation. Last month, we fell a little bit behind 2015, the first time we didn’t beat the same month year before in two years.].

This month, we’re just about the same as we were in 2015. Now, I don’t think that the pending sales aren’t doing as well because there’s not enough buyers out there.

I believe that we still have an inventory shortage that we have to work on. The good news is, with prices going up, some of that inventory is coming to market. And even Lawrence Yun chief economist let us know that the modest bump in June sales of first time buyers can be attributed to mortgage rates being at  all time lows and perhaps a hopeful indication  that more affordable lower priced homes are beginning to make their way onto the market. Now, let’s take a look at two maps, the seller traffic map in May and the seller traffic map in June. What we can see, ladies and gentlemen, is the dark blue states are showing very strong seller traffic, meaning people are starting to list their homes. 

So, in May, we had thirteen states that were either strong or very strong, the light blue. And this past month, in June, we’ve had twenty states that are strong or very strong. The nationwide housing supply year over year for the last twelve months, every single month over the last twelve months, has been below where we were the year before. So, though we made up some ground in June, we’re still almost 6% below where we were last year that month. So, what do we know? There are more and more people selling, purchasing homes. There are more and more people putting homes into contract. But, we don’t have as many homes for sale as we did last year nationwide. And that can create a challenge.

Another way of looking at it is, went ahead and said, “Alright. Fine. Let’s take a look at this summer versus last summer.”  Demand for housing  this summer  is  up  13%,  according     to,  while  supply  of  homes for sale is down 5%. So, we’re still not out of the woods yet, ladies and gentlemen, by any stretch of the imagination.  We  know  there’s  still  a  lot  of  excitement  about  people  purchasing  homes,  even  though  the  economy is not doing as well. We just got some numbers last week showing that it’s dismal the growth of the economy. Remember, as we told you over the last couple of months, all the economists, all the experts are calling for housing market to remain strong even when the economy is not. As a matter of fact, Peter Maul (ph), the  Ten  X  chief  economist,  more  jobs  are  being  added  while  unemployment  continues  to  drop,  and  low  mortgage  rates  are  enticing  homebuyers.  So,  solid  demand  should  continue  to  fuel  the  housing  market. 

And in the latest homebuyer pulse survey, and this is people that they were talking to that were not currently homeowners  but  are  considering  purchasing  a  home  in  the  next  five years.  This is  what the survey  showed.  Seventy‐seven percent cited mortgage rates as the most important factor when purchasing a home. Ladies and gentlemen, as we’ll talk about in a few seconds, mortgage rates leveled out and actually starting to pick up a little bit. That could cause another wave of buyers coming to the market. Thirty‐five percent of millennials are putting less than 20% down payment. That’s good news, ladies and gentlemen. The more they get educated to the fact that they don’t need 20% down, the easier it’s going to be for us to help them. Sixty‐three percent will buy a home in the next two years with 21% currently looking. 

Sixty‐three percent of the people they surveyed are going to purchase a home in the next two years. And of that 63%,  21% is  currently looking. So, we  definitely know  demand is  going  to  remain  strong.  And  that  shouldn’t  surprise us, ladies and gentlemen. As Sterling White the cofounder of Holdfolio said, houses are tangible. You can physically see and feel the product. So, you know where your money is going. It’s going into that house. And that’s what makes people feel comfortable about investing in homes. And let’s just take a look at three recent surveys. One by  the Morning consult Survey. Percentage of those surveyed  who  think  each  of  the  following  is  an  excellent  investment.  Forty‐nine  percent  of  the  people  surveyed  think almost one out of two, that owning your own home is an excellent investment. And if you look at number three on the list, 16% think that owning other real estate is also an excellent investment. 

So, ladies and gentlemen, people purchasing their first house or people moving up into the home that they want or moving down into the home that they want, that’s showing that people believe in the American dream, not just from  the social benefits of owning  a home, but  also the financial benefits. And a Gallup  poll a  couple of  months ago showed that, if you compare it against each other, Americans choice for best long term investment is, in fact, real estate. They picked that over stocks and mutual funds, gold, savings accounts, and CDs and bonds. And the recent bank rate financial security index showed when they asked a question, “Which would be the best way to invest money you wouldn’t need for ten years,” 25% said real estate. Again, real estate was the number one  choice  as  a  great  investment.  So,  houses  are  selling.  People  are  saying  they’re  going  to  continue  to  buy.  Now, some  people  might be  saying, “But, wait  a  minute,  Gloria. We’ve read  recent headlines that  said the homeownership rate is actually declining.”

I want you to understand what the homeownership rate really means because it doesn’t mean the number of homeowners are declining. So, let me give you an example. Let’s assume that you had six friends that owned a home, and let’s assume that you had three friends that are currently renting. In that scenario, six out of the nine friends you had are homeowners. That means the homeownership rate amongst your friends is about 67%. Let’s assume that you had four more friends living with their parents. We’ve already established that you friends that are already out on their own, either a homeowner or renter, it’s at 67%. Now, let’s assume that your friends that are living with their parents start to jump into a household of their own, leave their parents’ house. Let’s assume two of them jumped over to be renters, and only one of your friends can afford to be a homeowner right now. 

So, now, you have seven friends that are homeowners, and you have five friends that are not. The number of friends you have that are homeowners went up by one. But, let’s take a look at what the homeownership rate of your friends are. It drops down to 58%. So, understand the homeownership rate doesn’t mean that there are less people that own a home, but because the number of households starting, more and more people move out of their parents’ home. Most of them start as renters. So, for over the next year or so, we’re going to see most people  jumping  out  of  their  parents’  home,  jumping  into  a  rental.  And  that’s  going  to  continue  to  lower  the  homeownership  rate.  Once  they’re  at  a  point  where  they  have  the  student  loan  paid  off,  they’re  getting married, they’re having kids, they’re going to jump from the renter pool over to the homeownership pool, and that’s  going  to  cause  that  number  to  go  back  up  again.  So,  I  don’t  want  you  thinking  that  because  the  homeownership rate is going down, the number of homeowners in this country are going down. That’s not the case. 

And the reason is important that you understand that is because we have to help these people. Let me tell you why in one simple graph. Let’s take a look at the average effect of rent in the United States since 2009 and how much it’s climbed. What we can see, ladies and gentlemen, is the fact that, if you have a friend that’s out there renting right now or if you have the son and daughter of a friend that’s out there renting, their rent is stifling them. We have to help as many of those people, especially those  that are coming right out of  their parents’  home, if they can, to get into a house of their own, if they can afford it and if it makes sense for them. But, if not, and they move into a rental, let’s get them out of that rental situation as soon as possible. Especially because, if we take a look at it, what we see is that, in the lower end departments, the year over year increase in rent in the top fifteen markets in this country has really climbed, meaning that if they’re moving out, especially those young couples of young people moving in an apartment of their own, they’re moving into the lower end apartments. 

That  rent  increase  is  dramatic  compared  to  the  overall  rent  increase.  It’s  important  that  we  help  them  understand  that  they  may  be  able  to  go  ahead  and  purchase  a  home. As a  matter  of fact, from, here is a map of the entire United States. And let’s take a look at which states it’s actually a lot cheaper to own than it is to rent. All those dark blue states are places where it’s a lot cheaper to own. The light blue states, it’s a little cheaper to own. But, if you take a look at across the whole board there, we can see that the vast majority of the country is some shade of blue.

Now, the states where it’s a lot cheaper to rent, Montana and Utah, the states where it’s a little cheaper to rent, Idaho and Colorado and Hawaii. There’s only five states here in the entire country where it’s cheaper to rent than it is to own. In the other forty‐five states, we have to make sure that we let them know, that it’s either a lot cheaper to own, cheaper to own, or you’re going to break even, which are the grey states. I’m not sure they understand that, ladies and gentlemen. Now, this map is set up with… In the resource center, you can actually go back to the actual page that gave us this information. But, it’s set up with a 20% down payment. So, it’s going to be different if they put less than 20% down. And the reason I’m bringing that up, ladies and gentlemen, we have to realize we have to help some of these people. Part of the reason they’re not purchasing a home is many of them still believe that you need 20% down. 

his is directly from Freddy Mac. The three steps to 3% down. Talk to your agent and lender. Find out what is required for 3% down mortgage and take the steps necessary to qualify. Number two, plan to live in a home. One of the biggest requirements is the fact that you must live  in the home you’re buying in order to qualify.  Three percent down mortgages are not for investors. And number three, gather the down payment. Find out if savings you already have will be enough to get you into the dream home. If not, find out what other sources you may be able to use to make your dream a reality. We’re going to continue to delve into that. Alright? Exactly what the cost is and exactly where the help is as we move forward over the next couple of months because we think it’s important as we go through the end of the year that more and more millennials that are moving out of their parents’ home actually do move into a home of their own, actually pay their mortgage off instead of paying their landlord’s mortgage off. So, that’s important to us, and, again, we’re going to spend some time on that over the next couple of months. [00:13:58]

But, ladies and gentlemen, if you just think about putting a down payment on a house versus renting, renting you need first month’s rent, last month’s rent, a security deposit, in many cases, a commission to the broker. When you add that money up, that’s not that far off from a 3% down payment on an average priced home in this  country.  That’s what  we have  to  make sure  that they’re thinking  about.  Now,  not  everyone  should  be  a  homeowner right now. I get that. But, those that should, we should help. Because, ladies and gentlemen, we’re hearing  a  lot  in  the  election  year  about  the  divide  between  those  that  have  and  those  that  don’t  have.  Understand  what  US  Representative  from  Massachusetts,  Mike  Capuano  said  is  true.  The  way  into  the middle  class  for  many  people,  included  me,  he  said,  is  homeownership.  That’s  crucially  important  that  we  understand that. The faster we get people into their first home, the quicker they can start building wealth for their family. [00:15:05]

The quicker they can start building equity in that home, equity that later on could be used maybe to help their kids with their college tuition, equity that can maybe later on be the source of a down payment or seed money for a company they’re thinking about starting. There are direct ties by study after study that are showing that homeownership is exactly that. Not only the way into the middle class for many people, for many people, it’s the only way into the middle class. Let’s make sure we find those people and help them. As) at a time when quickly rising rents, mortgage rates at all‐time lows, and increasing housing wealth, a lot of young adults  in  their  prime  buying  years  are  struggling  to  enter  the  market and  are ultimately  missing  out  on the  stability and wealth accumulation that owning home can provide. [00:15:58]

Let’s make sure we’re on top of that. Let’s make sure that we’re doing what we need to do to help as many people as possible at least understand their options. Again, maybe not everyone’s ready to buy a home. Maybe they’re not financially ready. Maybe they still want to be very mobile as far as their job is concerned. But, those that are ready to  settle down, let them  settle  down  to a home  of  their  own  instead  of  again  a  home  where  they’re paying the landlord’s mortgage every single month. That’s what we do here at KCM. It’s important. Let’s go to the updates. Sales, average days in the market, you can take that and take a look at it as far as where your state is at compared to the rest of the country. We can still see that the vast majority of the country, houses are on the market for less than ninety days. Existing home sales, going all the way back to January 2012, again, these are updates. Some people like to go back and take a look at the historic significance of whatever the sales are right now. And we’re giving you that all the way to 2012. 

If you want to crunch that a little bit, we’re saying, “Alright. Let’s take a look at it for the last two years.” Existing home sales this month, in every single region, they’re up except for the West and the biggest challenge in the West, ladies and gentlemen, is a lack of inventory, not a lack of buyers. Believe me on that. Existing home sales in the 1,000 as compared to last year. And, again, every single month, we beat last year. Last year was a good year.  This year  was  a  better year. And, ladies  and  gentlemen, it’s  my  belief,  a  very  strong  belief  that  2017  is  really going to do much better than even 2016.  New home sales, we started out at an  even match. But look what’s happened since March. Month over month, we’ve done much better than we did last year. People are starting to build right now, and they’re starting to build the houses people need. [00:18:06]

New home sales on an annualized basis in the thousands. Again, we’re seeing it go in the right direction. New home sales by percentage of sales by price range. So, we have to get more of the 150 to 199 home built right now. Alright?  But, we  can  take a look at  exactly  what  the home  builders  are  building  from  a  price  range  standpoint. New home sales, they’re selling fast, ladies and gentlemen. They may be a month from completion to sold. That’s pretty cool. Total home sales, if we add the two of them together, again, month over month we beat last year and, I think, 2017 is going to be even be stronger for us. I’ve already showed you this earlier on, pending home sales.

We dipped a little bit last month compared to last year. But, we’re back even with last year, and I think that number, that dark blue is going to increase as we move forward where last year it decreased pretty dramatically. Pending home sales since 2012, since 2014, again, some of the agents love to have this historic data available to them in case somebody asks a question. Pending home sales last month, year over year, by region. Again, every single region did better than the year before except for the West. And, again, what’s the biggest challenge in the West? Lack of inventory. Part of the reason for lack of inventory, ladies and gentlemen, very simply is there’s a lot less distressed properties for sale. That’s all good news. Except for the fact we have less houses for sale. At this time last year, 10% of all the properties sold were distressed properties, short sales and foreclosures. This year, that number has dropped to 6%, and we can see how far it’s dropped since all the way back in January 2012. 

Let’s jump over to prices for a second. Home prices, again, because there’s a lack of inventory across the board, prices are showing very, very strong. Remember I told you about the West? The West was showing that home sales were down. But, if we take a look at prices, what we can go ahead and see is that prices are in a situation in the West, they’ve rising the most. Why? There’s a lack of inventory. Percent change in sales from last year by price range, the only reason the, on the 100,000 houses have fallen pretty dramatically is because foreclosures and short sales are dried up. Every other price point ends in some cases, as you move up the price points, the numbers are ever greater. (inaudible at00:20:56) price range, going all the way back to June 2012 year over year comparisons,  we’re  not  going  back  to  another  bubble.  We’re  not  getting  into  that  situation.  But,  they  are  remaining strong, ladies and gentlemen. 

As a matter of fact, if we draw a line across the 5%, we can see that every single month since last September, prices are 5% or greater above where they were the year before. What’s the forecast moving forward? Here’s it by state,  as  per Core  Logic.  And again,  every  single state is  showing  a  positive.  Alright?  And  in  many  cases,  they’re showing very strong positives, more than a 5% appreciation. That causes us challenges, which we discuss every single month. The appraised home value opinions compared to homeowner estimates. We’re still off on that by almost 2% on a $250,000 house, that means the appraisal will come in $5,000 short. 

We have to know how to deal with that. Let’s take a look at housing inventory. As I mentioned, seller traffic in June really has shown much better than it has I previous months. Across the south of the United States, we’re starting to see strong and very strong markets. We hope that those blue colors spread across the country. But, that’s  up  to  us,  ladies  and  gentlemen,  to  make  sure  that  that  happens.  Month’s  inventory  homes  for  sales,  historically, going all the way back to January 2011. Months for sale, over the last two years. And, again, once that number drops below that 5% number, that’s what those tannish bars look at. Months inventory of homes over the last twelve months. So, you see exactly what the situation is. Is it getting a little bit better? Yes, a little bit better. 

We’re not under the 4.5%, or 4.5 months, I should say, four and a half months. But, what we can see is we’re nowhere  near the six month’s inventory that  we need.  That’s  why,  I  think,  2017  is  going  to  be  much  better,  ladies and gentlemen. I think that, as prices continue to rise, more and more people are going to be in a position to sell their homes. More and more people are going ahead and put their houses on the market. Because the only thing that’s stopping us from having an unbelievable year this year, and I think that will happen in 2017, is a lack of inventory. And I think that inventory is about to come to market. We look at year over year inventory levels going all the way back. Where’s the housing supply? I show you this already earlier, but we also keep it in the updates. Where is housing supply in the last twelve months? Every single month, we had less houses for sale than we did the same month a year before. New home inventory? Well, that’s a little bit better. But, we see we’re even falling off of last year this past month in June, last year’s numbers.

That’s because new homes are selling, and that’s really, really good. But, we have to make sure that supply is replaced. New inventory of the last twelve months. Now, this is pretty interesting, ladies and gentlemen. We were getting close to September of last year, even the early couple months of this year, we’re getting close to that six month’s inventory, a number that’s so crucial. But, we’re falling again. Again, new homes are selling, and they’re selling faster than they’re putting them up. If you have builders in your marketplace, make sure they see these slides. Make sure they realize the market’s there for them in a very strong way. Jumping over to buyer demand, buyer demand has been strong. Pretty much outside of a few couple of states, Delaware, Connecticut, where  it’s  weak  and  every  other  part  of  the  country  it’s  either moderate,  strong, or  very strong. And the  medium blue and dark blue numbers dominate the country. Strong and very strong buyer traffic.

Foot traffic has fallen off. What has foot traffic fallen off? Remember that’s an indicator of how many people are actually going into houses and taking a look at them. Well, if there’s less houses for sale, there are less people going into those houses. That’s the challenge right now, not demand, but houses for sale that they can actually go look at. We break that down over the last twelve months, and we look at it compared to last year. Again, this does not mean that there’s less demand out there. What this means is there are less houses out there to satisfy that demand. Interest rates, well, they drop like a rock right after Brexit. But, take a look over the last three weeks. They’ve actually turned a corner and are starting to jump a little bit. Where are they going to be going forward? Anyone’s guess is as good as my guess. But, what we promise you we’ll give you every single month is not what our guess is, but what the mortgage rate projections are for the four organizations that are supposed to  know.  Fanny  Mae,  Freddy  Mac,  the  Mortgage  Bank  Association,  and  the  National  Association  of  Realtors.  

And what we can see, looking forward, based on what their numbers are, that this time next year, rates could be almost a half a point higher than where they are now. And if we look at Freddy Mac’s numbers, we can see that, by the end of 2017, those numbers can be dramatically higher than where they are now. No one knows for sure, including these four entities. They’ve been wrong over the last couple of years. People are shocked at how low interest rates have stayed. But, I want you to understand that where we’re at with that is eventually rates are going  to  go  up.  There’s  no  question  about  that.  And  we’re  going to  keep you abreast of  when that  might  happen. As far as mortgage availability is concerned, ladies and gentlemen, it’s getting actually a little bit tighter. Remember, as that drops down, that means mortgage credit availability is tighter. I don’t really understand why that’s taking place right now.

ow, part of the reason we’re part of the equation on that… And if you take a look at that, it’s nowhere near where it was back in June 2004, 2005. We give this to you in case somebody starts saying, “Well, it’s too easy to get a mortgage.” But, if we go back and we look at the mortgage credit availability, it’s falling. I think that part ofthe reason for that is part of that measurement is what it takes to close a loan right now. If we look, as far as days are concerned, we’re still in good shape. We’ve fallen off of the problem that we have with tread at the end of last year, the beginning of this year. And we’re getting back to normal numbers. But, if we look at FICO score, ladies and gentlemen, the FICO  score has dramatically increased over the last couple of months. Now,  part of the reason for this is there are too many people that don’t understand that they can get a mortgage with a lesser FICO score. So, those people are not applying for mortgages, and the only people that are applying for mortgages are people with a higher credit score. That’s part of the reason that number is going up. It’s part of the reason the mortgage availability, credit availability is going down because it looks like it’s taking more to go ahead and close a loan. 

In reality, ladies and gentlemen, part of this is based on the fact that there are people qualified for a lesser FICO score or lesser (inaudible at00:28:20)  or a lesser down payment. They just  don’t know it. So, they’re keeping  themselves out of the market. As we talked about last month, they’re self‐sidelining. FICO score distribution, a lot of people know that 53.9% of the loans that closed, as per Ellie Mae (ph), had FICO scores between 600 and 750. They don’t need a 780 FICO score. But, more and more people are believing that that’s the case. Let’s make sure that they understand that there are loans available out there for them. Let’s not, again… I’ve said this for the third time. Let’s not let them go ahead and pay their landlord’s mortgage. Let’s get them started on paying their own mortgage and building their own wealth. 

Average FICO score, by loan… And we can see an FHA loan and a lot of first time homebuyers will use that loan. It’s 686, not 786. The average backend debt is not that thirty‐six that so many people think it is. Alright? Let them  understand  that.  Help  them  with  that.  If  you  need  help  with  that,  get  together  with  the  mortgage  professional that you’re dealing with and put a presentation together to help people understand. We know that there are more and more people coming and forming a household of their own. Let’s help whatever number of those people that are ready, willing, and able to buy, just don’t know it, well, they’re ready and willing, they don’t know they’re able, let’s make sure that they understand they’re able. 

Now, the election is going to have a big part in this. But, the Wall Street  Journal  just  within  the  last  couple  of  weeks,  showed  what  is  going  to  be  the  breakdown  of  household  formations. And that’s not going to be people buying houses. It’s people leaving their parents’ home and getting a home of their own, whether they’re renting or whether they’re purchasing. 

But, we know a certain percentage of those people will be purchasing. Take a look at this, ladies and gentlemen, because it’s pretty dramatic. From now until 2020, 39% of all the household formations will be Hispanic. And 23% will be white. Moving forward, from 2020 to 2030, that number dramatically changes with forty‐six being Hispanic and 12% being white. To (inaudible at00:33:32) there are Hispanics and other minorities. Ladies and gentlemen,  let’s  make  sure  we’re  prepared  for  that,  especially  in  those  big  numbers.  Forty‐six  percent  of  household  formations,  almost  one  out  of  two  is  going  to  be  a  Hispanic  family.  And  this,  I  downloaded  from Univision. Hispanics in the US that don’t know English well or not at all, by numbers.

That rent  slide  we  did,  and  we want  to keep  it color coordinated  because  we  want  you  to  put  one  of  these  slides, one of these JPEGs on social media each week, just one a week. We’re not asking you to do more than that.  But,  we  want  to  keep  it  color  coordinated  for  each  month, the same  look.  Here’s the average effect  of  renting in the United States. Let people see that. Get that all over the social media. The cost of renting versus owning a home, where it’s cheaper, a lot cheaper to own a home, where it’s somewhat cheaper to own a home because,  ladies  and  gentlemen,  there’s  only  five  states  that  it’s  not  cheaper.  That  same  slide  I  showed  you  before, this summer versus last summer, demand for housing is up, supply of homes is down. Let’s get all of these colored slides into your social media because I think it’s crucially important. 

Ladies and gentlemen, we’re hearing a lot this election year about the fact that we have to somehow even up this income situation, this wealth situation. Both sides are making the argument. Ladies and gentlemen, we have some sort of control over that. The more people we help get into a home of their own, the more people we help start building family wealth. And, as I said before, that wealth could be used in a lot of different ways. Maybe thirty years from now, it’s their retirement account. Maybe then years from now, they’re helping their kid with their college tuition instead of student loans. Maybe five years from now you come up with this brilliant idea, and  they  just  need  this  little  seed  capital  to  start  a  company  of  their  own  out  of  their  garage,  as  so  many  companies in this country started, including us. 

That seed capital is available there, as long as they own a home and are building equity. I’ve often said, ladies and gentlemen, we don’t list and sell houses for a living. We change people’s lives as our living. The way we do that is list and sell houses. But, what we do is we change families’ lives.

Living by and between the Boxes

Did you know the old adage, "Location, Location, Location" has new twists on what that means. Data shows that having a Starbucks in your neighborhood has a positive impact on home values.

How about the big box retailer? Realty Trac found some  compelling data that the proximity to a Walmart or Target does impact property values.

It turns out that living near a Target may empty your wallet, and it could boost the value of your home.

While living near a Walmart saw an increase in value the homes appreciated at a lower rate than the national average.

Among homeowners who sold in 2015 in the same zip code as that of Target saw a 27% increase in home prices since they purchased their home. That's about 5% higher than the national average which is 22%.

Meanwhile those homes within the same Walmart zip code saw only a 16% price gain falling short of the national average.

So when looking to sell or buy a house you can boast that not only living near a Target is convenient it may actually mean price appreciation down the road.

positive change for markets where housing inventory has been stagnant.

The year ahead holds the promise of positive change for markets where housing inventory has been stagnant. Rising home prices are serving to lift the market – and homeowners – above the low-equity tide. That's a good thing for several reasons.

Increasing home prices = possible inventory boom
Over the next 15 or so months, 8.3 million homeowners (that's 18% of homeowners with mortgages), are expected to gain enough equity in their homes to be able to sell them without being forced into a short sale, according to a recent report by RealtyTrac.1 This assumes that home prices continue to increase at the rate they have since March 2012 – 1.33% per month.

The report shows that this segment of homeowners' equity currently ranges anywhere from 10% negative equity to 10% positive equity. As their equity improves, so does their ability to sell their homes. Another bright spot in the report: 1 in 4 homeowners in foreclosure has positive equity, meaning they stand a better chance to sell their homes before foreclosure proceedings are completed.

The "big boost"
More home inventory is good news for the housing market overall, with buyers having a greater number of choices as the spring season approaches. Rising home prices also contribute to an overall sense of security and optimism. People who feel more financially stable are more likely to spend. "Fewer underwater homeowners is a big plus for the economy," says Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's Analytics. "The home is still the most important asset most Americans have."2

1 More than 8 million homeowners are 'resurfacing' by Teke Wiggin
2 Rising home prices lift underwater homeowners by Julie Schmit

Underground Stroage Tanks

UST Funds Depleted/Program Suspended

The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection has sent out notification that the “Petroleum Underground Storage Tank Remediation, Upgrade & Closure Fund (UST Fund) has been depleted. Therefore retroactive to May 3rd new UST Fund applications for both “leaking” and “non-leaking” tank programs will not be processed. These programs had previously provided grants to property owners for the removal, replacement and if needed remediation of petroleum tanks. Both programs are suspended until further funding becomes available. Applications are no longer being accepted for the “non-leaking” tank program however, applications for the “leaking” tank program will continue to be accepted and will be processed in the order which they were received once funding is secured. To view the NJDEP letter that was sent to NJAR®,.Download USTProgramCancellation letter.


Governor Signs Underground Storage Tank Funding Law

On October 1, 2009, Governor Jon S. Corzine signedA-3739 into law. This new law, which NJAR® strongly supported, allows homeowners replacing or closing petroleum underground storage tanks (UST's) to apply for reimbursement from the state before actually doing work on their UST. Prior to this law, homeowners had to expend their own funds before applying for reimbursement. In addition, the state will have to issue written confirmation to a homeowner that they are eligible for reimbursement funds to close or replace their UST before any work is actually done.

Legislature Approves Underground Storage Tank Fund Legislation

On June 25, 2009, the New Jersey State Senate approved A-3739, legislation which allows certain homeowners to apply for funding to replace or close an underground storage tank (UST) before they begin replacing or closing it. Under current law, homeowners must use their own funds to replace or close a UST before they can apply for funding. A-3739 changes this and also requires that written confirmation be given to homeowners stating their eligibility for reimbursement from the Petroleum Underground Storage Tank Remediation, Upgrade and Closure Fund. This legislation was previously approved by the General Assembly on March 16, 2009 and is now pending the approval of Governor Jon Corzine.


New Jersey law now provides grants and loans to homeowners and business owners who qualify from the Petroleum Underground Storage Tank Remediation, Upgrade and Closure Fund to help finance closure and associated remediation of unregulated underground storage tanks (USTs)before they begin to leak. For further details, read the full text of the law.

6 Worth The Price Fix Ups

1. Cleaning and Decluttering Remove any personal items, unclutter countertops, organixe closets and shelves nd make the home sprakling clean. ($299 cost $1990 RETURN)

2. Brightening. Clean all the windows inside and out, replace old curtains, update lighting fixtures and REMOVE ANYTHING BLOCKING the windows, that means also on the outside any shrubs, flowers that have not been trimmed in years. ($375 cost $1550 RETURN)

3. Smart Staging Rearrange furniture, bring in new accessories and furnishings to enhance rooms.incorporate artwork and play soft music in the background.($550 cost $2194 RETURN)

4. Landscaping enhancements Punch up the homes curb appeal in the front and back yards by adding mulch, bushes and flowers and ensuring current plants and grass are well cared for and manicured. ($540 cost $1392 RETURN)

5. Reparing electrical and plumbing. Fix leaks under sinks, remove any mildew stains, and make sure the plumbing is in working order. Update the homes electrical by updating outlets and any lights that don't work. ($535 cost $1505 RETURN)

6. Replacing or shampooing dirty carpets. Steam clean carpets, replace any worn carpets and repair any floors that creak. ($647 Cost $1739 RETURN)

All this is good and worth it as long as it has been taken care of PRIOR to putting the house on the market. So that it is in the best possible light when it first comes on the market. Doing it while it is on the market diminishes all that is being done because the first few weeks any one seeing the house already as their impression of it.

costs excerpted from home gain 2011 home sle maximizer survey.



Property Tax to

All properties have been assessed for 2011, so many homeowners start wondering whethter they should start a tax appeal or not.

Here are some guidlines about tax appeals I hope this helps you

1. Both buyers and sellers can benefit from tax appeals
    a. the seller can make thier property more appealing to prospective purchasers
    b. the buyer can potentially reduce their taxes by using their purchase price.

2. The Appeal Process:

    a.Filing deadline: APRIL 1st in ALL municipalities that have not had a municipal wide revaluation or   reassessment.

    b. MAY 1st or 45 days after the Final Notice pf Assessment in municipilaties that have undergone a Municipal wide revaluation or assessment.

    c. The filing deadline is STRICTLY ENFORCED. Failure to file your appeal by the deadline will result in you appeal being rejected.

3. Where will the appeal take place?

    a. COUNTY BOARD OF TAXATION    if the assesment is $1,000,000 or less, you must file with the County Board of Taxation (for me it is Monmouth)

    b. TAX COURT OF NEW JERSEY  if the assessment is more than $1,000,000 you have the right to file with   the Tax Court directly.

4. When is the date of Valuation?
    a. The Valuation date for Tax Appeals is  October 1st of the previous year. So in todays case it would be Oct. 1st 2010.

5. How Can I tell whether I am over- assessed?
    a. In New Jersey, most municipalities do not assess at 100% of true value.
    b. At what percentage of true value is my municipality assessing?
                Rumson:         84.96%
                Little Silver:   76.84%
                Sea Bright:     67.90%
                Red Bank:      100%

To find your municipality percentage value :  Tax equalization rate

6. How Does Assesed Value Compare to Implied Value?
     In the following hypothetical example I will use the above towns as an example:
            If your 2011 assessment is $500,000

            In Rumson your property is worth $588,512 using the 84.96%
I took the assessed value of $500,000 and divided it by town percentage value which in Rumson is 84.96%
            Little Silver: $650,703 using 76.84%
            Red Bank:     $500,000 using 100%

7. What does the homeowner have to prove?

    Assessing is not an exact science.

            You must Prove that the Implied Value is 15% TOO High
using the above example the Rumson owner is assessed at $500,000- the owner will have to demnstrate that the value was less than $511,771 as of October 2010 for any relief.

            How did I come up with this number?  on the chart that you clicked the above link, already has it done for you. 
If you want to do it manually you would take the percentage rate in this case 84.96% x1.15= 97.70 (upper rate). move the decimals over to the left. Then divide the assessed value again in this case $500,000ivided by .9770 =$511,770.726 and that' how it is done :)

 8. Appeal at Your Peril!!!
   a. When a homeowner appeals and their assessment is too low, their assessment can be INCREASED!
     b. The possibility of an increase is another reason that it is vital to consider engaging an attorney who focuses mainly on real estate tax appeals to examine the case.

9. Tax Court Value

    Residential Properties
Tax Court Value generally equals Actual Market Value
        Sales Comparison Approach
        Cannot compare assessments or taxes to other properties -  
                    The question is what was the Property Worth as of October 1 2010?
                    in other words Is YOUR VALUE too versus the comparable sales?

10. How can a Realtor Help YOU the Homeowner?
a. A Realtor can gather the information on comparable sale.
      b. A Realtor can use the MLS to locate sales data between October 1, 2009 and October 1, 2010.

            What is a comparable?
            It must have similar location, square feet, acreage, HOME TYPE, age, condition, amenities (pool, basement etc.)

     c. Make sure that the Comparable Sales are high Quality.
     d Questions to ask:
            -Was the sale marked non-usable? ( the SR1A's will have that marked, these are the papers that the town has on each property sale).
Was the property exposed on the market for a very long time?
            -Were there several offers made?
            -Was the seller UNUSUALLY motivated to sell?

Monmuth County Appeal paperwork

for more detailed information on assessments

Before starting the appeal proces you may want to get an appraisal done cost can be anywhere from $450 up.

As a buyer who has a contract on a property and feels that taxes and assessment is high can legally start an appeal before they close on the property. This way they can benefit from the appeal during their first year in the new home.

Please feel free to contact me or Ted Kuch contact below for more information. 

This information was obtained by me from a seminar that Edward Kuch held. He and his firm handle Real Estate Tax Appeals to contact them:
                                                    Edward J Kuch III 
                                                    Skoloff & Wolfe ,P.C. 
                                                    [email protected]

Let them know where you got your information.

This information is deemed reliable and nnot guaranteed. Consult your professionals for accurate information pertaining to your individual situation.



Top 10 Cities Buy vs Rent

  1. Minneapolis
  2. Arlington, Texas
  3. Miami
  4. Fresno, Calif
  5. San Antonio
  6. Mesa, Ariz
  7. Jacksonville, Fl
  8. Phoenix
  9. El Paso,Texas
  10. Las Vegas

Minneapolis tops the list of US cities where home prices have become affordable that it makes more sense to buy a home than rent one according to the recent buy vs rent index published by the online website Trulia. The index's price to rent ratio is calculated using average list price compared with the average rent on a 2 bedroom apartment, condo or townhouse listing.



Just Listed in Rumson

17 Somerset Drive, Rumson NJ

In one of Rumson's most desirable neighborhoods and on a very private street you will find a home to love.  It is a short stroll to the Navesink River, shopping, restaurants and activities.

Former neighbors include Jon Bon Jovi and an owner of the New York Jets.  The home features a gas-lit drive patio overlookin, beautifully manicured and mature landscaping as well as a garden with old brick patio overlooking a secluded yard.

Set on an acre and a half property this elegant home features craftsmanship and architectural detail which include natural stone countertops, marble baths, exquisite moulding and old growth hardwood floors.

The open floor plan affords great space for entertaining groups of friends in either a formal or casual atmosphere.

Please come visit this lovely 4 bedroom, 3 1/2 baths sprawling home and enjoy the ambiance of quality features and elegant appointments.

The laundry room and pantry are adjoining the kitchen and have a rear entryway to the gardens.  Stainless steel counters create the ideal environment for washday chores which can substitute as a welcoming potting station.

The Master Suite has a marble bath, walk in his/hers closet and ample wall space for TV monitor and bookcases.  The other bedrooms are spacious with ample wardrobe closets.

Another rare, yet very special room, is the den/home office with fireplace (more built in cabinets!) which has a beautiful year round sunroom overlooking the patio, gardens and private yard.

Not to be overlooked is a fully finished media center/recreation area on the lower level.  Billiards, table tennis and screening space can all be accomodated.  A family with youngsters will find this living space just perfect as a play area for friends and neighbors.

The 2 car garage is equipped with plenty of storage for seasonal and holiday items.  A portion of the basement is set aside for storage as well.

This elegant home is a 'not to missed' opportunity in prestigious Rumson.  The ferry and trains are nearby for the NY commuter.