Thursday, March 25, 2010

February Real Estate Report by NAR Mirrors Hamilton NJ Home Activity

The National Assn of Realtors reports that existing-home sales declined slightly in February, with modest gains in the Northeast and Midwest offset by softer sales in the South and West.

Existing-home sales, which are finalized transactions that include single-family, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops, slipped 0.6 percent nationally to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.02 million units in February from 5.05 million in January, but are 7.0 percent higher than the 4.69 million-unit pace in February 2009.

Those of us in New Jersey can certainly agree with Lawrence Yun's, NAR chief economist, conclusion that widespread winter storms in February may mask underlying demand. "Some closings were simply postponed by winter storms, but buyers couldn't get out to look at homes in some areas and that should negatively impact near-term contract activity," he said. "Although sales have been higher than year-ago levels for eight straight months and home prices are much more stable compared to the past few years, the housing recovery is fragile at the moment."
He continued, "The key test for a durable recovery comes in the next few months as the tax credit deadline approaches.  If we see a surge in home buying comparable to last fall in the months leading up to the original tax credit deadline, then enough inventory should be absorbed to ensure a broad home price stabilization."
The national median existing-home price for all housing types was $165,100 in February, which is 1.8 percent below February 2009. Distressed homes, generally sold at discount, accounted for 35 percent of sales last month.

A parallel NAR practitioner survey shows first-time buyers purchased 42 percent of homes in February, up from 40 percent in January. Investors accounted for 19 percent of transactions in February, compared with 17 percent in January; the remaining sales were to repeat buyers.

Regionally, existing-home sales in the Northeast rose 2.4 percent to an annual pace of 840,000 in February and are 12.0 percent above a year ago. The median price in the Northeast was $254,700, up 7.5 percent from February 2009.
The numbers will improve as Spring arrives and it warms up.  Search homes for sale in Hamilton, NJ on my web site.  You'll be amazed at what you can purchase now at low prices.  Remember, the 1st Time Buyer tax credit expires April 30, so start looking now.
Joe Giancarli, Sales Associate

Thursday, March 18, 2010

New Federal Program will Encourage Short Sales in New Jersey

Beginning April 5, the administration will encourage delinquent borrowers to avoid foreclosure and instead give up their homes in short sales by streamlining the process.

The program will offer a cash payment to the home owner, as well as to the servicer and second-lien holder; and protect borrowers from future lender lawsuits for the unpaid mortgage balance.

To curtail fraud, lenders will have to consult real estate practitioners to assess home value and minimum acceptable offer; they then must accept any offer that is equal to or higher than that.

If you are having trouble making your mortgage payments, realize there are options to foreclosure.  Contact me today - don't get too far behind.  I can help sell your Mercer County home.

Joe Giancarli, Sales Associate

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Remodeling your Hamilton, NJ Home

With the weather we've had lately, you are probably thinking of Spring projects.  If you aren't ready or willing to sell in the New Jersey real estate market of today, remodeling - at least small projects - probably sounds intriguing.  It could be a way to change part of your home to make it more livable for you, or perhaps add an improvement for when you do sell.  Here are 5 Tips for Remodeling your Mercer County home.

1.  Make a list of ideas and prepare a budget
You probably already have some projects in mind.  Prioritize them, then invite a professional remodeler to visit your home and give you cost estimates.

2.  Hire a Professional
Start by searching NAHB's Directory of Professional Remodelers at You'll get a list of nearby remodelers to contact. Asking realtors, friends, and neighbors for names of qualified remodelers will also help you find a match for your project.

3.  Check his or her references
After you narrow down the professionals who match your project's needs, conduct some background research by checking with the Better Business Bureau, talking to their references, and asking if they are a trade association member (such as NAHB Remodelers). Remodelers with these qualities tend to be more reliable, better educated, and more likely to stay on top of construction and design trends.

4.  Prepare and sign a contract
Don't hire any professional without a thorough understanding of what they will accomplish and charge and get it in writing.  You'll want to check the remodelers' insurance coverage, ask about any warranties on their work, know who is responsible for obtaining any building permits, and understand the process for making any change orders after the contract is signed. Make sure that you and your remodeler see eye to eye before you sign on the dotted line.

5.  Use the energy efficiency tax credits now available
There are credits for doors, wndows, insulation, heating, air condtioning, water heater, energy-generation products, and more.  Make sure the professional you hire uses the latest green materials and design, and informs you of the tax savings for each item.

I've had many years of experience in the building trades and can help you choose a remodeler or advise on which projects will bring you the most value for the cost.  A good place to start thinking of what remodel you might want is to look at the sales prices of your neighbors' homes.  Use the search page on my web site, and contact me for real estate specifics on any Mercer County or Hamilton NJ community.

Joe Giancarli, Sales Associate

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Tips for Staging your Hamilton NJ Home to Sell

In the market we've experienced for the last year, Buyers are in the driver's seat and sales have been driven totally by what buyers want.  It has been, and still is, imperative that if you want to sell your property, you need to make the home stand out from your competition.  The competition means foreclosures, short sales, and fixers - in other words, Deals for Buyers.  If your home is in good condition, then you need to maximize the value - or stage the home to sell - before the buyers walk through your front door.

Here are some tips to stage your Hamilton home so you will be able to sell it faster for a better price.

1.  You only get one chance to make a first impression.  More than 50% of buyers won't even get out of the car to come to your door, so you have to make it inviting for the rest as they pull up to the curb.  Repair, clean, do what you can about the weather (don't leave the snow shovel by the driveway), and set the tone to entice buyers.

2.  You will strategize with your Realtor (hopefully me) about the best way to market your home, both online and through open houses and showings.  Staging takes this strategy one step further.  It allows the buyer both the mental space to imagine their own belongings in the rooms and the ability to get excited about the life they could have in your home.

3.  Declutter:  remove unnecessary momentos, trinkets, pictures and more.  Rule #1 - you will be moving. Start the process now.  The buyer wants to see themselves in your home, not you.

4.  Remove furniture:  this goes a long way to helping declutter.  Keep enough furniture to show how a space could be used but not so much that the room will seem smaller and stuffed with pieces. 

5.  Single spaces:  if you have a great room, or bonus room, don't try to show more than one use for that space.  For instance, stage a family room or office but not both in the same space.

6.  Along this same idea, if you have a "themed" room, get rid of the theme and make it neutral.  No buyer wants to see your idea of the best football team or rock band.  Rule #2 - you need to appeal to the largest number of buyers.  Don't discourage anyone by showcasing your own tastes.

7.  Neutrality:  good in color, good in decor.  Many homes now have a wall that is painted an offset color.  Just be sure you don't have a totally pink or purple room.  Think of all those buyers who don't like pink or purple.  They won't buy your house.

8.  Clean and clean again:  even if you have to hire help, the importance of this step cannot be overemphasized.  Think of what appeals to you - probably not fingerprints on the windows and mirrors, hair in the shower, brown on the white tile grout - you get the idea.

9. Use your senses - no pet odors, no diaper odors, no heavy use of scented candles.  Remember #8 - neutrality applies here too.

10. Finally, staging usually means accessorizing.  Do what you can with your budget - throw pillows for color, a kitchen cookbook opened to an appealing photo, dinner table set with attractive mats and flowers.

If you can, complete some inexpensive updates.  I can help advise you which will bring you the best return.  Outdated light fixtures can be changed rather inexpensively. Paint or stain patios and concrete that look dingy. Vinyl tile can be laid using easy snap lines. Carpet squares can be pieced together to freshen up tired flooring. Think about buying new appliances; these are great selling points, especially ENERGY STAR, and the stainless steel version.

Contact me to develop a marketing plan for your home, to discuss how you can attract the highest number of buyers, and present your "product" in the most attractive way.  I have the experience in Mercer County real estate to help you stage your home to sell.

Joe Giancarli, Realtor