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.

Advertisements

Dare We Say It? Has The Housing Market Recovered?

LONG VALLEY, N.J. – Shhhh. Don’t read this too loudly yet….but it appears that more and more experts believe that the housing market recovery is finally here. Those of us at The Holmquist Team don’t want to jinx things…but we agree.

Those experts are drawing that conclusion based on how well homes are sellingand a variety of other data.  For example:

home market recovering

More and more experts say statistics point to a recovered or recovering housing market. We agree.

  • Nationally, CNNMoney talked with 14 leading economists about home prices. Nine of them say home prices already have turned higher or will make that turn later this year.
  • According to the economists, housing started adding to economic growth in the Fourth Quarter. Housing always has been a key part of the economy, but has been a drag on financial markets since 2008.
  • Some of those economists say they believe that buyers who postponed housing purchases while the market was panting on the floor are now more comfortable with the economy and their own prospects. They have their checkbooks out and they’re jumping into the housing market.

“Economists have been encouraged by a variety of readings, including three straight months of increases in the S&P/Case-Shiller home price index, a pick-up in sales of existing homes and home construction and a big jump in the price of new home sales,” writes Chris Isidore at CNNMoney. “Mortgage rates are also likely to remain near record lows thanks to the Federal Reserve’s purchase of $40 billion in mortgages a month for the foreseeable future.”

These figures coincide with what we’re seeing in the Morris County area.  Members of The Holmquist Team are seeing well-priced and well-staged homes sell fairly quickly. We’ve even seen bidding wars. We’re also seeing more homes coming on the market. And other Realtors tell us they’re seeing the same thing

Jeff Otteau, a well-known observer of the New Jersey real estate market, this week said that sales contracts for homes in New Jersey increased by 29 percent over the same period last year. It’s the eleventh consecutive month for such an increase.  What’s more, the sales pace this year is 10 percent higher than it was in 2010, when government tax credits were spurring on the market.  He adds that the number of homes for sale in New Jersey is at the lowest level since 2007.

Otteau attributes the strong market to lower home prices, lower mortgage rates and a “favorable rent-to-own comparison.”

Are we ready to declare the housing market recovered? I’m not sure. But I can tell you that we’re busier – and more successful — than ever and that if you’re thinking about buying or selling a home, now is the time.  Give us a call at (908) 867-7109 or take a look at our website,  http://www.theholmquistteam.net. It’s time.

######

featured home

Our featured home is an end-unit condo with three bedrooms and two baths, priced in the low $200s.

Our featured home this week is a beautiful end-unit condominium in Budd Lake. With three bedrooms, two baths, an updated kitchen and finished basement, this is a great place for a young family. The bedrooms are large and the home is beautifully maintained. Priced in the low $200s, this home is in an FHA-approved neighborhood. Call our office at (908) 867-7109 or click here for more information.

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.

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?