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.

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More Housing Numbers: Confusion or Clarity?

A new set of numbers recently released says home prices in our area are stabilizing, but still need to adjust a bit. The problem is that numbers never tell the whole story.

The same study shows that across Morris County, home sales are up a bit and inventory is down, all good signs for our economy and for the housing market. The figures come from a monthly tally distributed by Jeffrey Otteau of Otteau Valuation Group, a highly respected property appraiser who is a recognized expert on New Jersey real estate.

Closer to home, Otteau reported that October home sales were up from September in the Chesters and inventory is down. Both communities report about a six-month supply of inventory, which puts them in the stable category. Home sales in Mount Olive and Long Valley were down in October, compared to September, but so was inventory. Mount Olive reports an 11.8-month inventory during October, which means prices there may continue to fall as the market stabilizes. Washington Township has a seven-month inventory supply, which means it has a shorter way to go to stability than Mount Olive.

Figures like these are ways of looking at the real estate market which, by all accounts is improving. If you put this information with longer term information and you begin to get a better picture. For instance, across Morris County, 299 homes were sold in October 2011, 383 homes were sold in October 2012.
But these figures are general. If you are interested in buying or selling a home, you have to look at what’s happening in your neighborhood or in the neighborhood where you’re buying. A town may report slow sales yet the street you’re interested may be selling well. And your house, if properly priced, staged and marketed, may create a bidding war…or not.

National news stories may be interesting, but every home, home seller and homebuyer is different. The best action is contacting a professional. Realtors can get information about each neighborhood. They can help determine a competitive price for your home, discuss its staging and marketing, and help you survive the challenge of selling it. Similarly, a Realtor can help you set an aggressive but fair offer for a home you’re interested in.

Numbers are always interesting, especially since they’ve become so encouraging. But reading the signals that will help sell a specific home takes more than reading a few articles. It’s a job for a professional. If you don’t have a Realtor, but have questions, feel free to give us a call. There’s never an obligation.

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.

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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.

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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Featured Home

The Holmquist Team can show you a wide variety of single-family homes and condominiums in the area, including this featured home:

76 W. Springtown Road in Long Valley is an elegant, spacious colonial on more than six private acres. This four-

home for sale in Long Valley by The Holmqust Team

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.

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.