Thursday, June 24, 2010

May Home Sales in Northeast Continue to Rise over 2009

As expected because of the end of the tax credit April 30, the numbers for home sales in May declined 2.2% from April.  But NAR (National Assn of Realtors) reported that existing-home sales remained at elevated levels in May, characterized by stabilizing home prices and historically low mortgage interest rates. Gains in the West and South were offset by a decline in the Northeast; the Midwest was steady.  Existing-home sales, which are completed transactions that include single-family, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops, were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.66 million units in May, down 2.2% from an upwardly revised surge of 5.79 million units in April

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, said he expects one more month of elevated home sales. "We are witnessing the ongoing effects of the home buyer tax credit, which we'll also see in June real estate closings."
The national median existing-home price for all housing types was $179,600 in May, up 2.7% from May 2009. Distressed homes decreased to 31% of sales last month, compared with 33% in April; it was also 33% in May 2009.
More figures from NAR showed first-time buyers purchased 46% of homes in May, down from 49% in April. Investors accounted for 14% of transactions in May compared with 15% in April; the remaining sales were to repeat buyers. All-cash sales were at 25% in May, edging down from 26% in April.
Regionally, existing-home sales in the Northeast fell 18.3% to an annual level of 890,000 in May from a surge in April, but are 12.7% higher than a year ago. The median price in the Northeast was $240,200, down 2.2% from May 2009.
Home sales in New Jersey continue to be a buyer's real estate market.  Contact me for ideas on how you can get look at some great bargains in Mercer County homes for sale.
Joe Giancarli, Sales Associate

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Staging your Hamilton NJ Home to Sell and Look Green

The Green movement isn't just a pretty word any more.  It helps sell homes, helps you save money, and preserve and protect our environment.  Here are some ideas to help you market your Mercer County home and emphasize its green features.

1.  Do an energy audit of your home and make a list of the changes and upgrades you have made.  This could include new caulking, insulation, lighting, EnergyStar appliances (those you will leave in the home), hot water heater, and solar panels.  If you have the records, show prospective buyers how much you have saved in your energy bills since you have made these changes.

2.  Market your green features in a special way, through a web site or book you leave in the home for showings.  Illustrate inside and outside features, from hot water heater, to bamboo flooring, to water-saving changes you have made in your landscaping.  This book will be the visual presentation of the list in #1.

3.  Start using green products so when buyers open your cupboards, they see green cleaning supplies.

4.  If you don't have one now, create a recycling center.  Even just labeling boxes or bins in the garage "Newspaper" and "aluminum cans" will show buyers you live the lifestyle.

5.  Do a sniff test in your home.  Do you smell paint or chemical cleaners?  A vinyl shower curtain?  These aren't as healthy and green, odor-free products.  The sniff test includes, of course, food and pet odors.  Try to make your home odor-neutral.

6.  Decorate with natural products.  Instead of buying a silk plant for the living room, buy a live one.  This time of year you can find flowering plants for low prices almost everywhere.  Use them for color and aesthetic appeal.

7.  If there are items in your home that you know buyers will replace, like old carpet or flooring, be ready with suggestions on green materials and where they can find out more.  Other items you can consider would be window coverings and bath fixtures as well.

8.  Improving the Green curb appeal of a home can include a small vegetable garden, water-saving fixtures, native grasses, lawn alternatives, collecting rain water, and a compost bin.  Whatever you have the time and the inclination to use yourself, will help the Green appeal of your Hamilton home.

Visit the GreenResourceCouncil for more information and ideas.  And call or email me to talk about making your Mercer County home stand out from the competition as a Green Home.

Joe Giancarli, Sales Associate

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Bank-approved Short Sale - Reduced - Make Offer - Bordentown, NJ - Bordentown Rd

554 Bordentown Rd, in Bordentown Twp, is a well-cared for Dutch Colonial, priced just right. The home features an updated kitchen, hardwood floors, stone fireplace (not working), finished half basement, enclosed front porch, comfortable rear yard, concrete driveway with room for 6+ cars, and mature landscaping. This three bedroom home could be converted back to a four bedroom home if needed. The full bathroom has newer shower, tub, toilet and sink fixtures, and flooring. Just minutes to 295, 195, and light rail, with connections to Philadelphia and New York.  This is a short sale opportunity.

For a private showing, contact Joe Giancarli, Sales Associate, 609-658-2612.

Friday, June 11, 2010

New Jersey Real Estate Recovery will be Slow

Economists speaking at the recent annual meeting of the National Association of Real Estate Editors said the housing market likely will not recover until 2013.

Stan Humphries, Zillow chief economist, said home prices continue to decrease, and he sees the "tremendous amount of shadow inventory" delaying recovery. "We think the market will be flat in nominal terms for three to five years," remarked Humphries. "We are not going to hit bottom and see a V-shaped recovery."

Meanwhile, Fannie Mae chief economist Doug Duncan said it will be another three years before new household formation and housing starts pick up. Duncan believes home prices will fall another 1 percent to 3 percent before bottoming out in the third quarter.

Both Humphries and Duncan said the federal home buyer tax credits shifted demand so that buyers took action earlier than they would have otherwise. "We're going to see a payback in July and August," noted Humphries.

If you think of our Mercer County real estate as a glass half full, there are plenty of buyer opportunities waiting for you in Hamilton, Ewing, East and West Windsor, and all our Mercer County communities.  Call or email and let's discuss adding real estate to your investment portfolio.

Joe Giancarli, Sales Associate

House Passes FHA Reform Bill

The US House of Representatives has overwhelmingly passed legislation to allow the Federal Housing Administration to adjust monthly premiums on mortgage insurance.

The bill, H.R. 5072, FHA Reform Act of 2010, would strengthen the FHA loan insurance program while keeping it available and affordable to responsible home buyers. Allowing FHA to raise the monthly insurance premium would let FHA lower the up-front premium that places a burden on cash-strapped borrowers at closing.

In the process of crafting a final bill, the House defeated an amendment that would have increased the FHA down payment from 3.5% to 5%, which would have disenfranchised more than 300,000 potential homeowners and would not have contributed significantly to FHA cash reserves.  

If you support this bill, contact your Senators and Representatives now.  Not sure what FHA down payments and mortgage insurance will mean to you when you buy a home in Mercer County?  Just call or email and let's talk.

Joe Giancarli, Sales Associate

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Long-term Effects of Housing Crisis on Hamilton NJ Real Estate

A recent study by the Mortgage Bankers Association, conducted by Kentucky economics professor Joe Peek, concludes that “the current financial crisis and recession exceeded the devastation created by other post-World War II recessions.”

Saving rates have risen substantially. Many Americans will continue to cut spending sharply out of necessity, “others out of fear of what the future holds,” Peek said.  When it comes to housing, he added, it was unlikely that the dramatic rise in loan delinquencies, foreclosures and bankruptcies would show a “meaningful” decrease in the foreseeable future.  “High unemployment and low house prices are widely projected to remain for an extended period, as well as the rise in problem loans at banks that will restrain their willingness and ability to provide credit,” Peek explained.

The two buying groups who will be most affected are the 1st Time Buyers and downsizing "seniors."  Peek said, “The impact of a higher unemployment rate for Americans ages 16 to 24 could have a lasting effect on lifetime earnings and attitudes toward risk and social policies."  In addition, those nearing retirement are delaying it and re-entering the labor force “in an effort to rebuild some of the retirement wealth that was wiped out by the recession,” he said.

Although the housing industry had been hoping for these groups to sustain growth over the next couple of decades, Mark Zandt, Moody's chief economist in West Chester, Pa. emphasized, “The tougher economic circumstances for twenty-somethings and fifty-somethings will weigh on housing demand over the coming decade."  Today’s housing market is imposing a bit more discipline in the pre-ownership period, by requiring bigger down payments and better credit scores.

Although it is probably likely that the lack of good-paying jobs will delay the entry of the current 16- to 24-year-olds into the home-buying market, “it’s less clear what effect the reentry into the workforce of baby boomers is going to have,” said Rick Sharga, chief economist of RealtyTrac.  “In some cases, this may keep inventory levels down, as the boomers stay in their current homes while going back to work,” Sharga said. “On the other hand, they may opt to ‘trade down’ in an effort to maximize their retirement dollars while they’re replenishing their IRAs and 401(k) accounts,” he said. “At best, this all suggests a pretty slow, marginal recovery over the next few years,” Sharga added.

The bottom line for buyers will continue to be high levels of inventory giving buyers wide choices, low rates, and pressure on prices from short sales and bank-owned properties for the forseeable future.  Contact me by phone or email to talk about buying a home in Hamilton or any community in Mercer County.

Joe Giancarli, Sales Associate

(resource: and The Philadelphia Inquirer)