Market Update: More Evidence of a Stabilizing Market

A national housing index based on the number of contracts signed by people buying houses rose to its highest level in two years last week, generating more assurances that the real estate market is stabilizing and the time to buy or sell a home is now. That national view reflects what The Holmquist Team has been seeing in Chester, Long Valley, Mount Olive and elsewhere.

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Yet another index is reporting that more homes are being sold, adding evidence to the fact that it’s becoming a good time to buy or sell a home.

Indicators that the housing market is settling down have been growing, so if you’ve been waiting for a better market to buy a house, it’s here.

The latest information from the National Association of Realtors says contract signings were up 5.9 percent in May compared to April and 13.3 percent above a year ago. These are measured in an index called Pending Home Sales, and measure the sale of residential properties. Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist, suggested looking at longer-term comparisons.

“The housing market is clearly superior this year compared with the past four years,” he said in NAR’s news release. “The latest increase in home contract signings marks 13 consecutive months of year-over-year gains. Actual closings for existing-home sales have been notably higher since the beginning of the year and we’re on track to see a 9 to 10 percent improvement in total sales for 2012.”

Take a look at these other bits of information:

  • Nationally and locally, mortgage rates remain at near or record lows. Don’t expect them to stay that way.
  • Both S&P/Case Shiller and the Federal Housing Finance Agency say house prices overall are stabilizing and, in fact, are rising in some places.
  • The National Association of Homebuilders monitors improving metro areas. Those that enjoy sustained improvement in employment, housing pricing and single-family home permits over six months make it into their index. Nationally, they started with 11 markets; now they’re up to 83 including one in South Jersey.

Locally, Holmquist Team agents are seeing modest improvements in the market both allegorically and through hard data. For instance, comparing Morris County from June 2011 to June 2012:

  • There were more sales (427 in 2011 vs. 290 in 2012),
  • Fewer homes available (3,949 in 2011 vs. 3,365 in 2012),  and
  • Fewer sellers for each buyer (meaning more buyers in the market) as illustrated by the 9:1 seller-to-buyer ratio in 2011 vs. the 7:1 ratio in 2012
  • There was a 9.2-month inventory of homes on the market in June 2011 vs. 6.9 in June this year.

Challenges remain, of course, on both sides of the sales equation. But those working with a reputable Realtor instead of going it alone will receive good counsel and discover that conditions have rarely been better to buy and are rapidly improving to sell. In fact, in some areas, there are inventory shortages of certain types of homes.

“The market,” of course, is the immediate area where you’re buying or selling a home. If you’ve been thinking about doing either, give us a call at The Holmquist Team. We knows these markets. Talk about all your concerns and fears. We will help you decide whether the time is right, how to accomplish your goals and how to get the best deal.

Summer Weather Puts Homes with Swimming Pools In the Spotlight

LONG VALLEY, N.J. — Summer temperatures are making backyard pools a hot topic among those buying and selling homes in our area. While a swimming pool may be a cool idea in many ways, agents with The Holmquist Team have found that it requires some extra attention on both sides of the sales equation.

A house with a pool is a great place to learn to swim, but requires more steps than other houses for sale or homes for sale.

A home with a swimming pool is a great place to learn to swim, cool off in private or entertain. But these homes for sale with a pool require some extra steps on both sides of the sales equation.

There are three kinds of homebuyers: (1) Those who absolutely don’t want a swimming pool in their backyard, (2) those who definitely do want a pool and (3) those who haven’t thought about it but are willing to when they see the right home. For buyers in the second two categories,  here are some things to think about when considering homes for sale with swimming pools:

  • Whether or not you’ll have to pay more for that house for sale with a pool depends on the neighborhood where you’re looking. A 2003 study in the Philadelphia area said pools added 8 percent to the price of a home, but a lot has happened in the housing market since then. Your Realtor will be able to counsel you about the impact of the pool on the home’s value.
  • Check out the condition of the swimming pool and its surface or liner and the age of the filter and other maintenance equipment.
  • Review the impact of the pool on the homeowner’s water and electricity costs. Again, your Realtor can help you compare bills for the home with a pool to homes in the neighborhood without a pool.
  • Check  with your insurance broker about the cost of insurance.
  • Does  the home comply with local safety and other
  • Bring in a reputable pool maintenance expert to look over the pool and equipment, and listen to what he or she has to say.
  • Think  about the investment in time as well as money: Are you ready to commit to the responsibilities of pool ownership, including maintenance and watching your kids…and possibly the neighbors’ kids?

For many people, a pool means a great place to throw a party and a private place to cool off and relax. For those folks, a home with a pool in the backyard can be a great buy.

But how do you attract that person to your home if you’re selling a home with a pool? Again, your Realtor’s expertise in target marketing will help you find that person. Here are some things for sellers to think about:

  • Reread everything buyers think about and get ready for the questions those tips create.
  • Dismiss  the idea that your home will bring many extra dollars (or lose many extra dollars) because of your beautiful pool.
  • As it is with the rest of your home, staging is all-important. Make your pool area looks like an idyllic summer retreat that nobody can resist.
  • Work with your pool maintenance team and your Realtor to be sure your pool is ready for the scrutiny a new buyer will give it. If it needs resurfacing or your filter needs replacing, either take care of it or be prepared to adjust your pricing accordingly.
  • Have  documents ready to show how well your pool is maintained and how little it costs to maintain it compared to how much you enjoy it.
  • Make  sure it’s sparkling clean. That means no discolored bottoms, no leaves floating in the pool.

Two final thoughts: First, if you’re thinking about putting your home on the market this fall or winter, take some photos of the pool with and without people. Second, think about your response if someone is interested in  your home only if you get rid of the swimming pool.

A swimming pool can make a home unique, but before jumping into a sale, make sure you work with The Holmquist Team or another real estate and other professionals to make sure you don’t find yourself in over your head.