Thursday, April 22, 2010

Make your Hamilton NJ Home Healthier

A lot of ideas are currently in vogue to make your home greener, but many of our older Hamilton homes could be updated to be healthier too.  For instance, the air inside could be several times more polluted than the outside air.  Because we live in a climate where the windows are closed much of the year, this can be more of a health issue than in warmer states.  As you alter your lifestyle choices to become more environmentally sensitive, make smarter choices about what is inside your home as well.

When shopping for furniture, find out how the pieces were made and whether they will emit toxins into your home.  Avoid pressed woods like particleboard, plywood, and medium density fiberboard.  These all contain urea-formaldehyde resin; the fiberboard has the highest amount.  Formaldehyde is a colorless gas that can cause skin rashes, chronic headaches, and is a suspected carcinogen.

Paint also can give off gases into the inside air.  Paints and finishes are the leading sources of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which can cause breathing problems, and have been linked to asthma rates in children.  When you redecorate a room or refinish furniture, shop for low or no-VOC products.  Most paint companies now have these options, and paints without VOC are just as durable and cost-effective.

Buy only the amount of paint, thinner, or finish that you need for the project on your Hamilton home.  Any leftover products are considered household hazardous waste and need to be disposed of in a special manner.

Another area that can be toxic to your home health are the cleaners you use inside.  Household cleaners that are chemically based can also pollute - toxins evaporate into the air or are left behind on cleaned surfaces.  If the product has a warning or danger label, it most probably is not good for you, your family, or your environment.  Choose a plant-based cleaner, like vinegar or baking soda, that will help reduce the pollution inside your Hamilton home.

Do your part to make your home healthier and you and your family will breathe easier.

Joe Giancarli, Sales Associate

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Investor Interest in Real Estate Triples - Consider the Great Deals in Hamilton Twp NJ

According to a new Move, Inc., survey, interest in real estate as an investment has more than tripled in the past year. In fact, 17.2% of potential home buyers today say they plan to purchase a home in the near future as an investment compared to just 5.6% in March 2009.

The survey also found that 12.3% of Americans planning to purchase investment property in the near future will pay for the property using 100% cash, and 12.8% will use cash for more than 50% of the purchase price. Almost half (49.2%) say they will buy the property with less than 50% cash down and finance the remainder. The U.S. Census Bureau reported that one in three U.S. homes are owned free and clear, without a mortgage.
46.5% of these potential real estate investors say they plan to own the property for six or more years, 16% expect to hold the property between two and five years, while 10.6%between six and 24 months.
Reports released this week show foreclosures across the country rose in March.  But, while interest by potential home buyers in purchasing a foreclosure to live in themselves has dropped in the past five months to 26.5%, this survey found interest in purchasing a foreclosure as an investment on the rise. In fact, interest in purchasing a foreclosure as an investment to fix it up and resell it rose from 11.3% in October 2009 to 16% in March 2010, a 42% increase.

Mercer County homeowners mirror the rest of the country in the finding that 49% of all homeowners would buy another home today if they could sell their current home for what they paid for it or more. This is especially true for homeowners ages 25 to 34 (68.2%).  The economy is a very large factor in Hamilton real estate, and Mercer County in general.  Move Chief Revenue Officer, Errol Samuelson, said, “Concerns around employment and their overall economic situation are causing many people to wait until the economy improves before they commit to one of the largest purchases they’ll most likely make in their lives. The findings of this newest survey make it clear the desire and motivation to be a homeowner remains strong, and as the economy continues to strengthen and improve, so will the housing market.”

To read more of the survey results, visit and  Certainly, there are bargains for the asking, not just in Hamilton but Ewing, West and East Windsor, Robbinsville - all the communities in Mercer County.  Contact me for some ideas on how you can turn your real estate purchase into an investment.

Joe Giancarli, Sales Associate

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Hamilton NJ Homeowners May be Eligible for Flood Emergency Loans

As reported in this week, "Mercer County residents and businesses whose property were damaged by flooding or storm activity around the March 12 nor'easter may apply for loans through the Federal Emergency Management Agency, county officials said.

"The Mercer County administration and the County Office of Emergency Management worked with all 13 municipalities to assess and compile storm damage countywide and submitted those findings to the state. In turn, President Barack Obama recently issued a Presidential Disaster Declaration for 12 New Jersey counties, including Mercer.

"Disaster loans up to $200,000 are available to homeowners to repair or replace damaged or destroyed real estate. Homeowners and renters are eligible for up to $40,000 to repair or replace damaged or destroyed personal property.

"Businesses and nonprofit organizations of any size may borrow up to $2 million to repair or replace damaged or destroyed real estate, machinery and equipment, inventory, and other business assets.

"Affected residents and business owners can begin the disaster application process by registering online at or registering by phone at 800-621-FEMA (3362) or 800-462-7585 (TTY) for the hearing- and speech-impaired."

Joe Giancarli, Sales Associate

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Mercer County NJ Buyers - Mortgage Rates are Starting Up

It appears the window for buyers to find loans with low mortgage rates is closing.  The average rate on a 30-year loan has jumped from about 5 percent to more than 5.3 percent in just the past week.  Many analysts forecast rates will rise as high as 6 percent by early next year.

If you were hoping to obtain financing, but were relying on a certain low rate, you may soon be priced out of the market to buy a New Jersey home.   For every 1 percentage point rise in rates, 300,000 to 400,000 would-be buyers are priced out of the market in a given year, according to the National Association of Realtors.

Rates are going up because of the improving economy and the end of a government push to make mortgages cheaper.  U.S. government debt, a safe haven during the recession, is losing its appeal as investors turn to stocks and riskier corporate bonds.  Also, Last week, the Fed ended its program to push mortgage rates down by buying up mortgage-backed securities.

The rule of thumb is that every 1 percentage point increase in mortgage rates reduces a buyer's purchasing power by about 10 percent.  This may be good news for sellers, as buyers race to complete their purchases and lock in rates before they rise farther. 
For example, taking out a 30-year mortgage for $300,000 at a rate of 5 percent will cost you about $1,600 a month, not including taxes and insurance. But the same monthly payment at a rate of 6 percent will only get you a loan of $270,000.

So, start looking now.  Think of a new home in Hamilton NJ which is more affordable now than in many years, or a resale in Ewing or Lawrence or West Windsor.  Foreclosures are plentiful too.  Think about your buying power and plan ahead to purchase that Mercer County home this Spring or Summer.

Joe Giancarli, Sales Associate

Mercer County NonProfits Forced to Get Creative

In a recent article on nonprofits for Hamilton Space, Rob Anthes addressed the problems nonprofits in New Jersey have had just trying to stay in business during this rough economy.  Many have changed the basic way they operate, including doing with fewer people, fewer resources, and fewer outreach programs.

Anthes states, "Half of New Jersey nonprofits responding to a survey conducted by the Center for Nonprofits had frozen staff salaries, 33 percent had cut staff and 42 percent expected to spend more money than they earned in 2009.

"But while 61 percent of respondents experienced decreased funding between January 2009 and October 2009, demand for service increased for 54 percent of organizations in that time period. Throw in the looming threat of cuts in state funding, and many organizations have started to wonder how much longer they can continue to hold up under the opposing forces of more need for services and less money to provide those services.

"It’s a hefty problem for a sector of New Jersey’s economy that spent $33 billion in 2007."

Mercer County is home to 2,524 nonprofit organizations, according to the Center for Nonprofits. Mercer has the third most nonprofits of any New Jersey county.

An example of changing strategies is Allies NJ, a Hamilton, NJ-based organization that helps people with disabilities find housing, health care and employment. Allies receives much of its funding from the state, not a reliable source as state officials try to solve the budget shortfall.  In response, Allies has partnered with the New Jersey branch of the Friends of the Guard and Reserve, which supports military personnel from the National Guard and the Reserves, in its fundraising efforts.

Anthes reports, "The Center for Nonprofits’ survey showed 39 percent of nonprofits that responded to its October survey had formed similar partnerships in 2009, with 42 percent working on launching new partnerships."

He cautions, "That nonprofits could be approaching their breaking point is a thought some municipal governments — beneficiaries of the work of nonprofits — don’t want to consider. Lawrence NJ Mayor Michael Powers pointed to several projects in his town that wouldn’t have happened without an organization offering the government assistance. Neighborhood groups like the Greater Eldridge Park Neighborhood Association and Lawrenceville Main Street have offered to help with rejuvenation projects.

"'They’re a true community partner,' Powers said. 'We wouldn’t be able to do half of what we do without them. We really appreciate their help. It makes my job as mayor easier. The town tries to meet the nonprofits halfway. We try to help them out when we can.'”

What's the solution?  With 2,524 nonprofit organizations in our Mercer County back yard, we can each see if we can help at least one with time, if not money.  Their work is too important and valuable to find out how we can serve the community without them.

Joe Giancarli, Sales Associate

Friday, April 2, 2010

New Mortgage Plan for Hamlton NJ

The government has released another program to stimulate the real estate industry, which will be helpful to buyers and sellers in Hamilton Township, and Mercer County, NJ.

Here are the key points:

  • As much as $14 billion of the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) will be made available to pay for writing down second liens for loans whose borrowers refinance through the Federal Housing Administration.
  • Lenders that facilitate refinances through the FHA will be required to write down the principal of the first mortgage by at least 10 percent so the home owner has a loan-to-value ratio no higher than 97.75 percent.
  • Lenders of second liens will be offered incentives of 10 cents to 21 cents per dollar of principal they write down in connection with an FHA refinance.
  • Borrowers who lose their jobs can apply to have their mortgage payments reduced for three to six months while they search for a new job.
  • Borrowers with a payment still greater than 31 percent of income after they find a job will be considered for a permanent loan modification.
  • To encourage more short sales and “deed in lieu” of foreclosure transactions in which the lender settles the loan for less than is owed, the government will double assistance to borrowers to $3,000 and increase incentives to subordinate lien holders and investors to $6,000.
If you are having problems paying your mortgage, you do have options to foreclosure.  Contact me right away so we can work on some of these modifications and get your house on the market to sell.

Joe Giancarli, Sales Associate