Do you Look Both Ways?

Traditionally Groundhog Day is a time when onlookers wait for the groundhog to emerge from its burrow and look to see if it casts a shadow.

The ritual suggests that if the groundhog sees a shadow, we look back for 6 more weeks of winter. If there is no shadow cast, we look forward and anticipate an early spring.

Last year 16 out of 22 groundhogs from around the world suggested we look forward to spring, while the remaining six said look back to more winter. Who was right? That depends on your perspective.

Since we don’t really make decisions based on our shadows, what can we actually learn from Groundhog Day? The only certain answer is to look both ways before making a decision.

When you have something important to accomplish, looking forward gives you the opportunity to plan, motivate and move towards your goals and desires. While looking back allows you to examine past mistakes and successes so that you create a path based in experience.

Groundhog Day reminds us to look where we’ve been and where we are going to have the best of both worlds.

The Best Times of Year for Real Estate

The Best Times of Year for Real Estate

For many in the United States it seems as though real estate season starts in the spring and ends just as the kids head back to school in the early fall. While many home and property sales take place in the spring and summer, the reality of the real estate market in the United States is that it's all about timing. Whether you're a buyer or a seller of a home or property, there are optimal times throughout the year, but for the most part, the real estate market and when it's 'hot' depends on where you're located and the time of year or season.

Spring and Summer

Real estate inventory fluctuates with each season. For many of us that peruse the market throughout the year, the spring and summer months (for the majority of the country) seem to be when the most properties are available. Spring and summer and even early fall are considered the best times for real estate for buyers as the market will see a wide variety of properties, but it also likely means more competition from other buyers. The reality of this, though, is that if you live in a competitive real estate market, no matter the time of year people will search for real estate and sellers will be able to sell their properties.

One of the main things that drives an influx of real estate in the spring and summer are households with children - parents want and like to move when kids are out of school. If you live in an area where there are a number of families, or where schools are relatively close, spring and summer are great seasons for properties.

Location plays a huge part in the best time to list a property. Areas that are known for their seasonal visitors (think snowbirds) will see more traffic during those seasonal times when people are in town. For example, if you live in a mountain area that sees more visitors in the winter because of snow or winter sports, listing in the winter might be a better way to attract potential buyers than listing in the summer when visitors are limited.

A handy tip for sellers: if you're going to have an open house, the first Sunday of every month is considered the best day to host it. Many listings will hit the market on Thursday afternoon or Friday morning and have a rushed open house the Sunday after. To create intrigue and build momentum for your property, talk with your agent or Realtor to have your listing appear on Monday or Tuesday and follow with an open house

52 Things a New Jerseyan Must Do Bucket List...4

No. 4
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;

52 Things a New Jerseyan Must Do Bucket List...3

No. 3 
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;

Real Estate 2017: What to Expect

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

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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

  1. 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.
  2. 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!
  3. 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.





52 Things a New Jerseyan Must Do Bucket List...2


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.

52 Things a New Jerseyan Must Do Bucket List...1

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. (; 201-604-2800)

Christmas Tree Lighting in Red Bank, Long Branch and surrounding towns in Monmouth County Area


Friday, November 25

Red Bank – 7:00 PM - Broad Street & Monmouth Street


Saturday, November 26

Keyport – 5:00 PM - West Front Street Mini Park

Shrewsbury – 4:00PM Municipal Complex  419 Sycamore Ave

Tuesday, November 29

Bradley Beach – 4:00 PM – Riley Park, Main Street

Long Branch – 4:00 PM – Pier Village, Festival Plaza, 1 Chelsea Avenue


Thursday, December 1

Freehold – 5:00 PM – Hall of Records, 1 East Main Street

Friday, December 2

Belmar – 5:30 PM - Pyanoe Plaza, 9th Ave & Main Street

Highlands – 6:00 PM – Huddy Park

Manasquan – 6:00 PM – Main Street

Monday, December 5

Asbury Park – 5:00 PM – Press Plaza, Cookman Avenue at Emory Street

Tuesday, December 6

Colts Neck – 4:15 PM – Town Hall, 124 Cedar Drive

Middletown – 5:00 PM – Middletown Arts Center, 36 Church Street

Monday, December 12

Ocean Grove – 6:00 PM – Auditorium Park, 21 Pilgrim Pathway

Are Boomers downsizing or Up-sizing and Living On Golden Pond?

It used to be that retirees downsized because they no longer needed a large living space. Today, the boomers mindset has shifted. Over the last year generational trend reports and aging studies from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) and Age Wave (the nation’s foremost thought leader on issues relating to an aging population) have shown that more and more boomers are making retirement housing decisions (in reference to size) based on family.  

In 2015, for those boomers who up-sized their living space, 33% did so in order to have a home large and comfortable enough for children and grandchildren to visit, and some 20% up-sized so that family members would even be comfortable enough to live with them.  Click here to view the 2016 NAR Generational Trends Report.

To better service our 51-69 population clients (whether buying or selling) we wanted to know more about boomers up-sizing for family in Monmouth County. Nationally boomers between the ages of 51-69 make up 31% of the buying population and in Monmouth County it’s 28%.  So what are these 28% of retiring buyers in Monmouth County doing – downsizing or up-sizing?  Local reports confirm they are doing both. And those that do up-size in Monmouth County typically do so for family, most especially having room for grandchildren to visit, stay and play.

We decided to take the survey one step further and ask one of our retired clients what motivated them.  We asked the question: “Why did you buy a larger home in retirement?”  It was to our delight that we were told the story of “On Golden Pond.”  We share this story with you because it is special and because as Realtors it is our responsibility to tell the story of every property we market; whether it be verbally, in a property brochure, in a marketing piece, through video or with extraordinary photography.  A home’s story may guide the decision for the next family that is looking for a similar motivation – no matter the age group.

Our “On Golden Pond” clients are now selling their home and moving on to another lifestyle, also motivated by family.  The story of 97 Davis Lane, Middletown, NJ.

“When I was young, five or six years old, my grandparents bought a Victorian home near the water in Island Heights, NJ.  I spent all my summers either in the water or on the dock crabbing.  For safety, the Red Cross showed up every week to teach us to swim and we learned to dive watching the more accomplished divers who sometimes visited on weekends.  It was nothing but summer bliss.

The memories of my generous grandparents and the wonderful summers on the water never left me.  Grown up and married, I wanted to share this with my grown children. The house in Island Heights was not in the family, so we improvised with renting summer homes on Long Beach Island for a week or two every summer.

As our grandchildren came, it became even more important to have a place near water and do what I believed grandparents should do for their grandchildren – make lasting memories.  When it came time to retire I knew I wanted to retire on the water and have the living space for my grandchildren to spend summers and create memories like I did as a young child.

I had “On Golden Pond” in my head – we looked for about a year and a half.  I could see it, but we were having no luck finding it when someone told us about homes along Shadow Lake in Middletown, NJ – one of Monmouth County’s best keep secrets. We viewed 97 Davis and bought it on the spot.  Two days later, the current owner and I stood on the deck overlooking the lake, crying in each other’s arms.  I was crying because I found “On Golden Pond” and she was crying because she was leaving it.  It has been everything I had imagined for us as grandparents and for my grandchildren.  They now have their own glorious summer memories.” Click here to see “On Golden Pond.”

Heritage House Sotheby’s International Realty is an independently owned and operated full-service brokerage serving Monmouth, Middlesex and Ocean counties, New Jersey with four sales offices in Holmdel, Middletown, Rumson and Shrewsbury. The firm’s Corporate Headquarters is located at 834 Broad Street, Shrewsbury, New Jersey. For additional information on the property in this article, as well as office locations and phone numbers, please visit the firm’s website at

The Sotheby’s International Realty® network currently has more than 18,800 independent sales associates located in approximately 835 offices in 63 countries and territories worldwide. Each office is independently owned and operated.

posted by Julia Miller