Fall Starts With Great News About The Housing Market

The lazy days of summer may be over, and with it the summer real estate market, but members of The Holmquist Team are seeing every sign pointing to an active housing market nationally and right in our backyard, with houses selling quickly.

The real estate market is heating up and homes for sale are selling quicklyOn the national scene, The Wall Street Journal’s Marketwatch Chief Economist writes, “As the U.S. economy rounds the Labor Day turn, it appears that the long-depressed housing market is climbing out of the basement.”  He notes that, “For the first time in a number of years, the supply of both new and used homes available for sale has dropped below demand.” While all real estate is local, that’s a trend we definitely see in our area.

Speaking of our area, Jeffrey Otteau, an appraiser who has earned the reputation as one of the foremost experts on the New Jersey housing market, points out that July saw a 24 percent increase in home purchase contracts compared with a year ago. Equally important, inventory is down 17 percent.

“The combined effects of the decline in unsold inventory with the increase in purchase demand are rebalancing the dynamics of the housing market toward price stability in 2012,” writes Otteau in his latest studies.

Those of dealing with homes for sale in the Chester/Long Valley/Mount Olive area are actually seeing many of the same trends.  Fifty-two homes were sold in those three towns during July 2012, compared to 40 a year ago. We’re seeing bidding contests for well-staged, properly priced homes in our area.  As of July 31, there were 527 homes on the market in the four communities. A year ago, there were 607 homes for sale in those towns.

What does all this mean for you? Aside from the math and economics, it means if you’ve been waiting to buy or sell a home, it’s time to make your move. With interest rates rising, and the market stabilizing, demand up and inventory down, there is nothing to be gained by more waiting.

If you’re selling, talk to us about how your home fits into the current market. Homes that are well-staged and properly priced and marketed are selling, sometimes very quickly. Your Realtor will help you make decisions about pricing, staging, marketing and getting the best deal.

If you’re buying, you should speak with The Holmquist Team. Desirable homes are moving quickly and while prices are stabilizing, interest rates are not. They’re starting back up. If you see a home you like, you need to move carefully, but quickly, to make it yours.

And if you’d like to sell, but you owe too much on your home, The Holmquist Team is well-versed and experienced in short sales. Banks are moving more quickly now, and a good agent – teamed with a specialized attorney – can help you get out from under an oppressive mortgage.

It really is a good time to take another look at the housing market. People who move soon can be in a new home by the time the winter holidays arrive. One thing is clear, though: While temperatures are cooling off, it looks like the housing market is just warming up.  Call The Holmquist Team today.

If You’re Thinking About Buying Or Selling A Home, You’re Definitely Not Alone

If you’re among those watching the real estate market and thinking seriously about buying or selling a house, you’re not alone. A recent survey by real estate website Trulia revealed that 78 percent of the renters surveyed want to buy a new home. Those strong national numbers reflect what members of The Holmquist Team are seeing in Chester, LongValley, MountOlive and the surrounding areas.

The recent survey, called the American Dream Survey, was conducted by Trulia in May. It surveyed 2,205 homeowners and renters to see how people felt about housing after the rescission. In a word, they feel good.

Here are some interesting facts from the survey:

  • Despite reports that homes are shrinking in size, Americans still like big houses. Of those surveyed, 27 percent considered the ideal size for a home to be more than 2,500 square feet. Interestingly, Trulia says the majority of homes on its website are between 800 and 2,000 square feet.  And while we’d like to have more homes above 2,600 square feet to show, the ones we have sell quickly and often close to the asking price.
  • Buyers have definite ideas about what they want: 63 percent want a master bedroom, 56 percent want a walk-in closet, 50 percent want to make dinner in a gourmet kitchen, and whatever room they’re in, 35 percent want wood floors.
  • If you’re worried about downpayments or mortgages, you’re not alone there either. Almost half (47 percent) of those surveyed worried that they wouldn’t be able to find the downpayment and another 25 percent are unsure if they’d qualify for a mortgage. Members of The Holmquist Team can help you find out if you can qualify and connect you with banks with a variety of special programs.
  • More than half of those surveyed (61 percent) think home prices will increase in the next year and 58 percent think prices will soar to 2005-06 levels within the next decade. While predicting the market that far in advance is risky, home prices already are stabilizing and, in some places, beginning to rise.

Whatever your opinions are, the facts are these: Well-staged and well-marketed homes that come on the market are selling within a reasonable time frame at reasonable prices. If you’re thinking about selling your home or buying a home, we should talk. A member of The Holmquist Team can help you explore the local market, determine what options will work best for you. Call us today at 908-867-7109 or by clicking here.

New Website Fights to Preserve Homeownership Opportunities For All of Us

LONG VALLEY, N.J. – Whether you own a home, or you’re a renter who would like to be a homeowner someday, a series of legal proposals and events are threatening long-held ideas about home ownership. Holmquist Team members have been urging people to visit a new website that talks about those challenges and gives people an opportunity to be heard on the topic.

The site, http://www.protecthomeownership.com, was created by the National Association of Homebuilders. It explores the mortgage-interest deduction, affordable housing issues, foreclosures and the threats to the many jobs created by the housing industry. And it’s information every homeowner or perspective homeowner should be aware of, whether you’re selling a home or not.

You might think it’s a little self-serving for a Realtor to be promoting a site supporting homeownership, but there is a lot more at stake here than a few listings.

Home ownership has always been a goal of many Americans. While a house is usually a good investment, that’s not the primary purpose of owning a home. It’s a safe place to relax, raise a family, escape from work and live life one’s own way.  It creates wealth and promotes financial security for individuals and also builds stable communities where people feel a strong stake in what happens.

Equally important, new home construction and the resale of existing homes create jobs for millions and generate revenues for businesses and government. Think about it: Ever know anyone who bought a home and didn’t spend a lot of money on redecorating and refurnishing? That money stays in our communities!

For reasons that are beyond me, government officials are considering a lot of policies that will harm homeowners, home buyers, homebuilders and the millions of people connected to the industry. For example:

  • Debate continues about cutting or eliminating the mortgage-interest deduction from your income taxes.
  • With few regulations governing appraisals, it is difficult sometimes to get a fair appraisal without having foreclosed or distressed properties included and pulling down the price of a home.
  • Six federal agencies have proposed a mortgage standard that would make 20 percent down payments the “new normal.”
  • Surprisingly, there is a lack of inventory in many types of homes, and places where the demand for new homes is rising. Banks, however, are doing to builders what they’ve done to homeowners: They’ve cut them off from credit for land acquisition and construction. The housing market – and all the jobs it creates — can’t make a comeback without credit for builders. Legislation addressing the issue has been introduced.

As Realtors, we talk every day with people who want to buy and sell homes and people who are pursuing their dream of homeownership for the first time. For many, owning a home is milestone that means they’ve become part of a community and achieved the American dream. For others, it’s a financial and social shelter that provides them with security. For all, homeownership is one of the rewards of working hard and being successful.

People in Washington seem to have forgotten about those feelings. Homeowners and those who want to become homeowners need to understand that there are threats out there, and must take some action against those threats. At the same time, they need to support legislation and regulations that support homeownership.

The NAHB’s website, www.protecthomeownership.com, is a good way to start learning about the federal issues and how to get involved. There are state issues, also, that impact you as a homeowner or homebuyer. And if you have questions about any of these issues, or want  help buying or selling a home, call us at (908) 867-7109 or a http://theholmquistteam.net.

 

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This beautiful home is available in Long Valley.

bedroom home includes a two-story family room, study and updated kitchen with stainless steel appliances, corian countertops, breakfast bar and beautiful cabinets. Upstairs, the master suite includes a luxurious master bath with jetted tub and lots of closet space. Outside, there’s an in-ground swimming pool with waterfall and beautiful grounds. In addition, the home is close to shopping, restaurants, highways and trains and buses for commuting. Children attend the highly rated Long Valley and West Morris schools. Priced in the mid $600s, more information is available about this home at (973) 867-7109 or by clicking here.

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.

Job opportunities may trigger a need to sell your home: Short sales and other solutions

Job opportunities beckoning from a distance are exciting, but in this house market, those selling a home consider their likelihood of success a major part of the decision whether or not to pursue one of those opportunities. An experienced Realtor can help you make that decision.

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A moving van may be in your future if a job opportunity beckons. First, though, you have to sell your home.

Recent figures released by the Otteau Valuation Group show some improvement in the real estate market since last year in MorrisCounty. For instance, last month, there were 483 homes sold in Morris County. A year ago, there were only 439 homes sold during May. Inventory is lower and there are fewer sellers for each buyer.

Those statistics don’t mean much if you’re living in a home you purchased at the top of the market that will never sell for a high enough sum to pay off the mortgage. That can mean a quick end to pursuing a dream job out of town.

That was the situation for Kathy and Bruce, who have a business and a home in Succasunna. They have a terrific opportunity waiting for them in Derby, Kan.  The couple knows they can’t sell their home for what they paid for it, and they are considering working with The Holmquist Team and attorney Marty Egan to use a short sell to sell their home.

“We have questions about the effect on our credit scores,” said Bruce, who will be meeting with us to discuss such issues.

The key for people like Kathy and Bruce is to find a Realtor and an attorney that they trust. They need advice from both, working as a team on your behalf, to decide whether they can sell their home through aggressive marketing, keep and rent the home, sell the home through a short sale or pursue another alternative.

All signs seem to be pointing to an economy that is slowly beginning to improve. That can mean the creation of new opportunities. If you’re thinking about pursuing them, if you want to get out from under an oppressive mortgage, or if you need to sell your home for any other reason, work with a Realtor to determine if selling your home will be a challenge.

For instance, if you purchased your home 30 years ago, you don’t have a mortgage and you want to sell it and move to an active-adult community somewhere, your home needs a relatively simple but professional marketing program by a Realtor who understands the current market.

But if your home is “under water,” meaning it isn’t worth what you owe on it, you may face special challenges, even if you are current with your mortgage. That’s when you need a Realtor and an attorney with extensive experience with distressed properties.

With interest rates low and the market coming to life, now really is the time to put your home on the market. If you need help determining how best to do that, please give us a call.

Holmquist Team, Other Realtors, Will See More Short Sales In Coming Days

Short sales a way out for those swamped by mortgages

For those swamped by their mortgages, short sales may help avoid the coming tide of new foreclosures.

Although the news media and real estate blogs have been talking about the improving real estate market, there’s an unpleasant fact that people in the market have to face: Even as home sales are increasing, The Holmquist Team and other Realtors in New Jersey soon will see many more foreclosures and short sales.

The housing marketing is improving. Home sales in theNorthwesternMorrisCounty area up, days on market are down and the number of buyers per home is increasing. But a recent report by the Mortgage Bankers Association saysNew Jersey now has the second highest percentage of mortgage loans in foreclosure in the country. With 8.4 percent of homes in foreclosure,New Jersey is second only behindFlorida.

The problem is a 2010 court-ordered moratorium on foreclosure filings as part of the “robo-signing” scandal. Banks and mortgage companies were signing so many documents so quickly, that they often didn’t have proper documentation when a home was sold and couldn’t prove ownership when foreclosures were challenged. Add to that New Jersey’s court process that stretches out for more than a year, and you loans due for foreclosure just piling up.

Now the courts have cleared the way for the floodgates to open. While Realtors, economists and government officials will say that the housing market can’t stabilize until the foreclosures are dealt with, it doesn’t help those who are drowning in debt and facing foreclosure.

For some, foreclosure can’t be avoided. But for others, there are ways out. For those behind in the mortgages or barely keeping up, the issue may soon be unavoidable.

For those folks, attorneys and knowledgeable, experienced Realtors can provide information about the many federal, state and non-governmental programs that are available.

There are programs to help people in foreclosure. Others help people readjust their mortgages. For many, short sales are a good answer. In fact, several experts are predicting an increase in the number of short sales.

A short sale is when the bank allows a homeowner to sell a home for less than what’s owed on it. The seller gets to stay in the home until closing. Short sales have less of an impact on the seller’s credit rating.

On the other hand, there are complicated negotiations and there could be tax implications to a short sale.  It takes a team of experienced Realtors and attorneys to do a successful short sale.

If a short sale seems like a good idea, talk with your Realtor or attorney. Make sure they are experienced in dealing with short sales.

And plan on spending Monday evening, June 11, with us at Cinders on Route 46. I’ll be there with attorney Marty Eagan, an attorney who specializes in short sales and other distressed sales. Call (908) 867-7109 or email me at kholmquist@comcast.net.net for more information about our free workshop.