Our Wish For Your Success in 2013 Comes Tempered With Reality

We hope you had a great holiday season and that 2013 holds lots of success for you. When it comes to real estate, however, our wishes for your success are tempered with the reality of our local markets .

Kelly Holmquist, the Holmquist Team; Morris County Realtor, Long Valley Realtor, Chester Realtor; short sales, foreclosures, selling homes, buying homes

Kelly Holmquist discusses real estate at a recent workshop

You’ll be hearing from the experts about how well the market is doing, and indeed, it is doing better. Zillow, for instance, last week talked about their expectation that homes in the United States will gain more than $1.3 trillion in cumulative value in 2012, the first annual increase since 2006. Zillow looked at 177 metros and said that more than 75 percent of them saw “historic affordability and sustained investor interest” keeping “demand at a boil.” That’s great –if you happen to be in one of the neighborhoods they looked at where homes are increasing in value.

But others are sounding caution. Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics and a well-known commentator on the national real estate picture, is among those urging caution. He warns that increases in inventory could steal growth away and that our economy, while growing at 2% to 2.5% over the next year, is basically stable. He also predicts a tough economic climate in the first half of 2013, especially if Congress can’t agree on getting nation’s finances in order.

I’m with Zandi. We are seeing some improvement in the market here in Northwest New Jersey. We’re seeing some stabilization in prices and we’re seeing some good inventory coming on.

But we still have a lot of homes – as many as a quarter in some area towns – being sold short and more heading toward foreclosure. Those buyers who already are underwater are too deep to be saved by any slight increases in prices and the potential for tax increases could push them further into debt. Our economy is doing OK, but we’re not generating that many new jobs in the area.

It’s a time to be optimistic but act cautiously.

So does this mean you should give up on buying or selling your home? Absolutely not. We’re able to sell well-staged homes that are appropriately priced and in areas with good schools and transportation for a reasonable price in a reasonable amount of time. The key is your definition of reasonable.
That’s where a Realtor can help you. Realtors are experts at buying and selling homes in a particular market. They can help you understand what “reasonable” is for the neighborhood in which you’re listing or buying a home. They can tell you how to get the most out of the home you’re listing and how to get the best deal for the home you want to buy. It’s a time where a The real estate market is heating up and homes for sale are selling quicklyRealtor’s experience and expertise is a key part of the process.

Your first step if you want to sell your home or buy a new one is to learn what you can about the area in which you’re selling or buying and who the Realtors are who service those areas. Pick someone good and listen to their advice.

Buying and selling a home, even when done correctly, is never easy. While it’s not as challenging as it was a year or two ago, it’s still requires good counsel, homework, flexibility and patience.

It’s our wish that your real estate goals are all met during 2013…and our job to make that happens. If The Holmquist Team can be of assistance, please call us at (908) 867-7109 or email me at kholmquist@comcast.net.

A Dozen Morris County People Talk With Realtor Kelly Holmquist, Attorney Marty Eagan About Avoiding Foreclosures

(We just issued the following release:)

The Holmquist Team, Kelly Holmquist, Morris County Realtor, houses for sale in Long Valley, houses for sale in Chester, houses for sale in Mount OliveCHESTER – The headlines may be shouting about an improving housing market, but for a dozen people at a workshop in Chester earlier this month, the topic of a quieter discussion is avoiding foreclosure. They heard two experts – Kelly Holmquist of The Holmquist Team, part of Keller Williams-Towne Square Realtors and Morristown Real Estate Attorney Martin Eagan – talk about ways to do that.

Ms.Kelly Holmquist, the Holmquist Team; Morris County Realtor, Long Valley Realtor, Chester Realtor; short sales, foreclosures Holmquist and Mr. Eagan work together to help people sell homes short, meaning the bank agrees to allow a house to be sold for market value, even when that sum is less than what is owed to the bank.

“It’s a traditional sale,” explained Eagan. “You’re selling to a buyer. It’s not a foreclosure. It’s just the bank agrees to take less than you owe.”

As they have at several previous workshops, the duo explained to those around the table how a short sale works and the role of the attorney and the Realtor in the sale. The bank agrees to accept the lower price, but it does want market value. It’s a tight rope, said Eagan.

“We want to upsell it to the buyer and downsell it to the bank,” said Eagan. “Kelly’s great at that.”

Ms. Holmquist explained that the home will be appraised by the bank, which will set a target asking price. The house is then aggressively marketed like any other home. It must be listed on the MLS, for instance. And home sellers are encouraged to properly stage their homes so it sells quickly. When an offer is received, the bank has to approve the offer.  In fact, said Ms. Holmquist, the only difference between a short sale and regular sale is the negotiations are done by the attorney with the bank and others owed money from the proceeds of the sale.

“On the front side, everything appears to be a traditional sale,” said Ms. Holmquist. “It’s on the back side that it’s different.”

While past workshops have been attended by an array of people, many of them have been younger homeowners who can no longer afford their mortgages or who need to move for a better job, but can’t sell their depreciated homes. This group was a different, said Ms. Holmquist and Mr. Eagan. One couple, for instance, was collecting information for their daughter who is going through a divorce. Another couple is trying without success to sell a home owned by the woman’s mother, now in her 80s in assisted living and with no income. A third woman, in her 70s, had taken multiple mortgages to pay medical expenses. Although she’s never missed a mortgage payment, the failure of the real estate market and the devaluation of her savings now has created financial problems.

“All sorts of people are facing foreclosure or are so far underwater that they may never recover, even though they’re making their payments,” said Ms. Holmquist. “It’s not at all uncommon.”

In fact, she said, about 29 percent of the homes being sold in Long Valley and Mount Olive are short sales. In the Chesters, that number is about 9 percent.

“Working with an established team of an attorney and a Realtor to sell short offers a good way out for many people,” said Ms. Holmquist. “The improving real estate market improves their chances of selling short, but it’s still the best answer for some people.”

Ms. Holmquist said people with questions about short sales or any other facet of buying or selling real estate can call her office at (908) 867-7109 or by sending her an email at kholmquist@comcast.net.

Ms. Holmquist is the team leader for the Holmquist Team, part of Keller Williams Towne Square Realty, and one of the top-producing real estate teams in Morris County, N.J.  She has been in real estate since 1997, specializing in residential home sales. After working at other agencies, she founded The Holmquist Team in 2008. A Certified Residential Specialist (CRS), she holds a bachelor of science from PennStateUniversity. More information is at http://www.kellysellshouses.com or by calling (908) 867-7109.

Eagan heads an office that focuses on real estate and is one of New Jersey’s fastest growing specialty law firms. The firm has successfully represented thousands of individuals and business clients across the state in residential and commercial real estate transactions. More information is available at (973) 898-7300 or www.martyeagan.com.

News Release: Realtor Kelly Holmquist Offers Three Bits Of Advice On Buying Or Selling a Storm-Damaged Home

LONG VALLEY, N.J. — As power is restored to Northwest Jersey homes and homeowners assess and recover from the impact of Hurricane Sandy, some will discover that they are buying or selling a house that has been damaged.  For those people, Morris County Realtor Kelly Holmquist, team leader for The Holmquist Team, part of Keller-Williams Towne-Square Realty, has some advice.

“We tell people to follow the same advice we always give our clients,” said Ms. Holmquist. “Make a realistic assessment of your situation and develop a well thought-out response.”

Noting that only a year ago people were digging out from a catastrophic blizzard and just 16 months ago that they were dealing with Hurricane Irene, Ms. Holmquist acknowledged that there are different levels of disaster.

“If a home has suffered catastrophic damage, that’s a special discussion and everyone’s first concern needs to be the safety and welfare of you and your family,” she said. “Most of the homes in this area, however, suffered damage ranging from minor to significant, but not catastrophic.”

For homes suffering from missing siding and roof shingles, damage from trees, and damp basements, Ms. Holmquist offered three suggestions for buyers and sellers:

  1. Be safe. No house is worth getting injured. Follow guidelines from local safety authorities and from FEMA. Make sure the home is safe. Check for structural damage, broken glass or flood waters. Treat all downed power lines as live and be certain no gas lines are leaking. Keep the power off until you’re certain the electrical system is safe. Listen to experts’ guidance about structural damage, appliances damaged by water or electrical surges, contaminated food and other flooding results. Keep in mind that wildlife may also seek shelter in the home, so watch for them. Check for local disaster assistance information on the web. Morris County homebuyers and sellers, for instance, can go to http://www.morrisoem.org or call (973) 829-8600. Check also your municipality’s website for information.
  2.  If needed, enlist the help of professionals, including your Realtor and your insurance agent. Your insurance agent may be able to help you recover some damages. Both professionals can recommend electricians, plumbers, engineers and others who can confirm that the home is safe and its systems are working properly.  Be careful of scam artists.
  3. Work with your Realtor to determine your next steps.

If you’re selling, decide together whether your home needs to come off the market while you make repairs and how that will impact the sale. You and your agent will need to discuss whether any changes in disclosure are necessary.

Buyers with their eye on that now-damaged perfect home will need to work with their agent to run down facts that will help decide if the home is still perfect. Your Realtor can help determine how best to move forward. If a contract is already is in place, your Realtor can help navigate negotiations.

 “Every case is different,” Ms. Holmquist said. “We have clients taking their homes off the market while being repaired and others who feel they can make their repairs quickly. We have some buyers who are asking about moving forward with a purchase on a damaged home for some extra consideration since they know they’ll be putting a lot of work into the home anyway. Like other situations in real estate, you have to put emotions aside to determine how to go forward.”

Ms. Holmquist said she and members of her team are available to answer questions without obligation. The team can be reached at http://www.theholmquistteam.net or by calling (908) 867-7109.

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.

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.

National Housing Numbers Deceiving – Local Market Warming Up

(You can see a video of Kelly Holmquist talking about the market in Northwest New Jersey by clicking here. )

LONG VALLEY, N.J. – The National Association of Realtors last week said that the number of existing homes sold across the country was down in March, but the numbers for the first calendar quarter were the best in several years.

Announcement about pending home sales – homes that went into contract and will close later – are to be announced Thursday.

National numbers tell you nothing about what’s going on locally. You need a Realtor who is familiar with the neighborhoods you’re interested in. It really doesn’t matter how well the market is doing in Timbuktu if you’re interested a specific neighborhood in Chester, Mendham, Mount Olive, Long Valley or somewhere else in this area.

More sold signs are popping up.

Speaking of those towns and our area, the market is warming up to be a great spring. That doesn’t mean the market has changed, but we’re definitely seeing signs that this is the best market we’ve seen in a long time, and if you need to buy or sell a home, well, you know the rest of the line: It’s a good time to do it.

Recent reports say that the number of homes that went into contract in March in the Chesters (two in the Borough, nine in the Township), the Mendhams (14) , Mount Olive (21) and Long Valley (19 for Washington Township) were the highest number of pending home sales since the beginning of the year. In fact, acrossMorrisCounty, 502 homes went into contract in March, the highest since the year began. Last year, only 383 homes were sold in March acrossMorrisCounty, so it’s an increase since last year, also.

It’s not a trend yet, but here’s a news release and video we issued when the existing  home sales report came out late last week:

 

LONG VALLEY, N.J.– The volume of existing home sales in Northwest New Jerseyhas been “tremendous” during the last month, according to Kelly Holmquist, a prominent Realtor in the area.

Ms. Holmquist, who leads The Holmquist Team, part of Keller-Williams Towne Square Realty, made her remarks as the National Association of Realtors announces its monthly report on existing home sales. That report says that home sales fell slightly nationally, but that sales for the first three months of the year were better than the same period last year.

Saying there is no national real estate market, Ms. Holmquist said real estate is very local. While she did not disclose specific numbers, Ms. Holmquist said sales in the northwestMorrisCountyarea have been very strong during March and April, with homes selling in a week our two and sellers receiving multiple offers.

“The buyers are finally getting it,” said Ms. Holmquist. “Interest rates are down, prices are down and there’s a good selection of homes. It’s not going to get much better.”

While prices may slip a little more, she anticipates that interest rates will begin to rise soon. The rising rates will erase any price decreases. That, of course, is not the best news for home sellers.

“The good news is that there are buyers, so if you need to move, you can sell your home,” said Ms Holmquist.

While she sees the current conditions as excellent, she’s not ready to declare the market changed. That, she says, can only be determined by looking back at six months worth of market statistics. While she’s hoping current conditions become a trend, she’s concerned that the spring selling season could slow down because it started so early. She notes, however, that in most towns in her area, homes are being sold very quickly. That keeps the inventory fairly low.

The brisk activity is a bit of a game changer for those buying or selling homes, says Ms. Holmquist.

“There are a lot of homes coming on where the Sellers are realistic and aggressive with their pricing,” she said. “Buyers are competing with multiple offers. You need to study the comps and really know the value of the home you want.”

Sellers also need to compete knowledgeably.

“Stage your house,” she said. “Make it look great. Houses that look great and are priced well are the homes that are moving.”

Ms. Holmquist is the team leader for The Holmquist Team, part of Keller Williams Towne Square Realty, and one of the top-producing real estate teams in Morris County, N.J.  She has been in real estate since 1997, specializing in residential home sales. After working at other agencies, she founded The Holmquist Team in 2008. A Certified Residential Specialist (CRS), she holds a bachelor of science fromPennStateUniversity. More information is at http://www.kellysellshouses.com or by calling (908) 867-7109. 

So…what are you seeing in your neighborhood? More “For Sale” signs? More “Sold” signs?