Thursday, July 29, 2010

US Home Prices Stay Flat in 2010

According to Standard & Poor's S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices, the annual growth rates in 15 of the 20 MSAs and the 10- and 20-City Composites improved in May compared to those reported for April 2010.

The 10-City Composite is up 5.4% and the 20-City Composite is up 4.6% from where they were in May 2009. While 19 MSAs and both Composites reported positive monthly changes in May over April, only 12 of the MSAs (Metropolitan Sector Areas) and the two Composites saw better month-over-month growth rates in May than those reported in April.

"While May's report on its own looks somewhat positive, a broader look at home price levels over the past year still do not indicate that the housing market is in any form of sustained recovery," says David M. Blitzer, Chairman of the Index Committee at Standard & Poor's. "Since reaching its recent trough in April 2009, the housing market has really only stabilized at this lower level. The two Composites have improved between 5 and 6% since then, but this is no better than the improvement they had registered as of October 2009. The last seven months have basically been flat."

Contact me for a specific analysis of our Hamilton and Mercer County real estate sales figures.

Joe Giancarli
Short Sale Specialist
Real Estate Advisor


Homeownership Level at 10-Year Low

The homeownership rate fell to 66.9% in the second quarter, down from 67.1% in the first quarter, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. This was the lowest level since 1999.

The homeownership rate reached a record high of 69.2% in the second and fourth quarters of 2004.

Rising foreclosures are driving the decline. A record 4.6% of U.S. mortgages were in foreclosure in the first three months of 2010, the Mortgage Bankers Association reported in May.

I couldn't find information on how this compares to our local figures in Hamilton, NJ.  I would suspect we would mirror the numbers, though, because our region also has been hard hit by foreclosures and short sale competition.

Homeownership is still a viable investment in Hamilton and Mercer County - you just have to be careful with the property you choose.  Contact me to discuss how to purchase a home.

Joe Giancarli
Short Sales Specialist
Real Estate Advisor

Source: Bloomberg, Kathleen M. Howley (07/27/2010)

Friday, July 23, 2010

Home Sales Slow but Better than 2009 in US, Hamilton NJ Above Average

With the scheduled closing deadline for the home buyer tax credits, existing-home sales slowed in June but remained at relatively elevated levels, according to the National Association of REALTORS®.

Existing-home sales, which are completed transactions that include single-family, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops, fell 5.1% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.37 million units in June from 5.66 million in May, but are 9.8% higher than the 4.89 million-unit pace in June 2009.

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, said the market shows uncharacteristic yet understandable swings as buyers responded to the tax credits. “June home sales still reflect a tax credit impact with some sales not closed due to delays, which will show up in the next two months,” he said. “Broadly speaking, sales closed after the home buyer tax credit will be significantly lower compared to the credit-induced spring surge. Only when jobs are created at a sufficient pace will home sales return to sustainable healthy levels.”

According to Freddie Mac, the national average commitment rate for a 30-year, conventional, fixed-rate mortgage fell to a record low 4.74% in June from 4.89% in May; the rate was 5.42% in June 2009.

The national median existing-home price for all housing types was $183,700 in June, which is 1.0% higher than a year ago. Distressed homes were at 32% of sales last month, compared with 31% in May; it was also 31% in June 2009.

Total housing inventory at the end of June rose 2.5% to 3.99 million existing homes available for sale, which represents an 8.9-month supply at the current sales pace, up from an 8.3-month supply in May.  “The supply of homes on the market is higher than we’d like to see. But home prices are still holding their ground because prices had already overcorrected in many local markets,” Yun said. Raw unsold inventory remains 12.7% below the record of 4.58 million in July 2008.

Single-family home sales fell 5.6 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.70 million in June from a level of 4.98 million in May, but are 8.5% above the 4.33 million pace in June 2009. The median existing single-family home price was $184,200 in June, up 1.3% from a year ago.

Existing condominium and co-op sales slipped 1.5% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 670,000 in June from 680,000 in May, but are 20.5% higher than the 556,000-unit pace in June 2009. The median existing condo price was $180,100 in June, which is 1.4% below a year ago.

Regionally, existing-home sales in the Northeast rose 7.9 percent to an annual level of 960,000 in June and are 17.1% above June 2009. The median price in the Northeast was $244,300, down 1.2 % from a year ago.

Read my Active Rain blog for detailed numbers on our local sales in Hamilton, and other Mercer County areas.

Joe Giancarli, Sales Associate
Real Estate Advisor

(resource:  RealtorMag)

Short Sales in Hamilton and Mercer Co NJ Rising

Reflecting the market nationwide, short sales in our part of New Jersey - Mercer County and surrounding areas - are on the rise.
The number of Short Sales flooding the U.S. real estate market has drastically increased in the past year – and will continue to rise, according to reports from Equator Financial Solutions and Campbell Communications.

Equator announced on July 15 that 300,000 Short Sales have been initiated on its system since November, according to a DSNews article. The company, which provides an online platform for 7 of the top 10 U.S. banks to manage their REO and Short Sale inventory, reported that it had hit the 200,000 mark for Short Sale initiations in June. In just a month's time, that number has increased by 50 percent.

Short Sales made up 18% of buy-side real estate transactions in June, according to an independent survey of more than 2,500 real estate agents across the country.

The survey, conducted by Campbell Communications, found that Short Sales constituted 12.5% of property sales in July 2009. That's compared with move-in ready and damaged REOs, which comprised 17.9 and 19.8%, respectively, of all closed transactions during the same time frame.That trend has apparently reversed. In June, move-in ready REOs and damaged REOs comprised 15.2% and 13%, respectively, of closed transactions.

"These numbers are encouraging because it tells us that more people are avoiding foreclosure," says RE/MAX Chairman and Co-Founder Dave Liniger (ABR, CDPE, CRB). "Short Sales are infinitely more complex and time-consuming transactions, so agents need to be educated on how to assist homeowners in this situation. We'll see an even greater influx of Short Sales flood the market as people take advantage of the government's Home Affordable Foreclosure Alternatives program."

The HAFA program, which streamlines the Short Sale process, was created to help both homeowners and banks avoid foreclosure, through the use of Short Sales or a deed-in-lieu of foreclosure when homeowners don’t qualify for or maintain a loan modification.

About HAFA

The HAFA program is crucial in streamlining the Short Sale process for homeowners, lenders and real estate agents as an alternative to foreclosure. Here are some of the key program guidelines:

  • Lenders must respond to Short Sale requests within 10 business days of receipt of the offer package.
  • The seller will be released from all liability for repayment of the primary mortgage debt.
  • Subsequently, the seller is entitled to a relocation incentive of $3,000, which will be deducted from the gross sale proceeds at closing.
  • The lender will be paid $1,500 to cover administrative and processing costs for a Short Sale or a deed-in-lieu.
  • The property must be listed with a licensed real estate professional who does regular business in the community where the property is located.
  • The lender is prohibited from requiring, as a condition of approving the Short Sale, a reduction in the agreed-upon real estate commission.
I am experienced and qualified to help you negotiate the short sale process, as a seller or buyer.  If you are having trouble meeting your mortgage payments, call me now.  You have options to foreclosure.

Joe Giancarli, Sales Associate
Real Estate Advisor

© 2010 RE/MAX, LLC.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Mercer County NJ Home Prices Continue Gains

U.S. home prices, including distressed sales, increased by 2.9% compared to the same month last year, according to CoreLogic in its monthly index.

May was the fourth straight month prices showed a year-over-year increase. 

"Home price appreciation stabilized as home buyer tax credit-driven sales peaked in late spring," says Mark Fleming, chief economist for CoreLogic. "But given that the labor market and income growth remain tepid, we expect prices to moderate and possibly decline the rest of the year."

To see numbers for Mercer County communities, visit my Active Rain blog.

Joe Giancarli
Real Estate Advisor
Sales Associate

Flood Insurance Reform Bill would help Hamilton Residents - Now Passed by House

The U.S. House of Representatives approved a flood insurance reform bill that would reauthorize the National Flood Insurance Program to Sept. 30, 2015.

“This longer-term reauthorization of the NFIP is critical to millions of taxpaying American families who rely on the program for flood insurance, which is required to obtain a mortgage in nearly 20,000 communities across the nation. This would restore flagging confidence in a vital program by ensuring its continuation for several years without further disruption to real estate markets upon which our nation’s economic recovery depends,” said Vicki Cox Golder, NAR president.

Golder noted that the authority has been allowed to expire twice in the past two years while Congress approved eight short-term extensions, resulting in multi-week delays if not cancellation of thousands of real estate transactions. Such stop-gap measures have caused many hardships and lost sales for property buyers, sellers and their communities, she said. 

The bill now goes to the Senate.  If you have an opinion, contact one or both of our New Jersey Senators.

Joe Giancarli, Sales Associate
Real Estate Advisor

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Bordentown, NJ - Spring St - SOLD

Short Sale and priced to sell. Charming circa “1868” 3 bedroom/1.5 bath Colonial, located in historic Bordentown City. This home reflects the historic history of Bordentown.  Features include hardwood wide-plank flooring, rocking-chair front porch,  an updated eat-in kitchen, 200 amp electric, large rear and side yard, 1-car garage, and off-street parking. Just a short distance to local shops, restaurants, parks, school, River Line, and minutes away from many major transportation routes. This is city living at its best.

Contact Joe Giancarli, Sales Associate, 609-658-2612 for a private showing.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Hamilton NJ Home Prices Up from 1st Time Buyer Tax Credits

While prices have increased nationwide, this is very apparent in Mercer County for June.  Take a look at the numbers on my recent blog about the Real Estate Market Statistics.

According to Clear Capital's latest Home Data Index (HDI), federal homebuyer tax credits magnified springtime price gains as national quarter-over-quarter price increases reach 5.2%; year-over-year prices up 8.8%.

"Price trends nationwide have a seen a considerable upswing driven in large part by the flurry of recent sales attributed to the tax credit and springtime buying activity," said Dr. Alex Villacorta, Senior Statistician, Clear Capital. "This month's national quarterly gains are certainly a positive sign that many markets have responded to the tax credit incentive, but overall markets remain volatile as evidenced by the six month price change keeping mostly flat."

National / Four Region Overview: Across the U.S., home prices posted 5.2% quarter-over-quarter gains, placing prices firmly 8.8% above levels experienced one year ago. Regionally, the Midwest and South saw the largest quarterly price growth, while the West and Northeast show more stable quarterly gains.

Home prices across the nation made strong moves in a positive direction. Thanks to an increase in springtime sales and the continued residual effects of the federal housing home buyer tax credits, all four regions posted positive gains. Across the U.S., home prices rose 5.2 percent this quarter, bringing the nation back to within one percent of last fall's levels and placing prices firmly 8.8 percent above levels of a year ago. Regionally, the Midwest and South saw the largest quarterly price growth, while the West and Northeast show more stable quarterly gains.

If you want a current real estate market analysis of your property, just call or email and let's see what your home might sell for this summer.

Joe Giancarli, Sales Associate

2009 Housing Survey by HUD Helpful to Hamilton NJ Homeowners

A comprehensive national sample of the more than 130 million residential housing units was released recently by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.  HUD’s 2009 American Housing Survey (AHS) provides one of the most thorough views inside the homes of millions of Americans and reveals everything from the square footage of the unit to how many homes have front porches, garages or even usable fireplaces. First conducted in 1973, the survey’s long-term design allows analysts to trace the characteristics of U.S. housing units and their occupants.

For example, the 2009 survey reveals that significantly more American homes are larger and have more bedrooms and bathrooms than homes 37 years ago. In addition, homes of 1973 were significantly less likely to have central air conditioning and other amenities considered commonplace today.  There are 130,112,000 residential housing units in the U.S.; 86% of these are occupied. The median age of ‘the American home’ is 36 years.
The 2009 AHS includes enhanced data for five metropolitan areas: Chicago, Detroit, Philadelphia, New York and Northern New Jersey.  Some of the other key findings of the 2009 AHS include: 68% of U.S. homes are owner-occupied; 51% are located in suburban areas; 29% in central cities; and 20% outside metropolitan areas; and 18% are located in the Northeast; 23% in the Midwest; 37% in the South; and 22% in the West.

To see how your home compares to the average, visit and read findings about size, rooms, equipment, heating, plumbing, amenities, and neighborhood at RisMedia.

How does this affect you if you want to sell your Hamilton NJ home?  For instance, if your home only has two bedrooms, or 1800 SF or less, or no community amenities, realize your property may be harder to sell.  It's a good idea to check your "competition" and see what price other homes in your neighborhood are advertising, before you settle on a price.

I'm familiar with all the Mercer County communities, and am a native.  Call or email to discuss selling your home and what sales price you can expect.

Joe Giancarli, Sales Associate

Friday, July 2, 2010

What Hamilton NJ Sellers Need to Know about the Short Sale Process

Our real estate inventory in Hamilton NJ has, unfortunately, a large number of distressed properties on the market, either bank-owned homes or short sales.  A short sale is when a seller must sell their home and the value of the property is not sufficient to cover the balance owed to the existing lender. In order to accomplish this, the seller must work with their existing lender(s), and any other lien holders, to request approval of the sales price, the sale terms, and payoff of their loan to be at a reduced amount.  Here is a brief primer on the process.

  • The owner or their agent/negotiator must contact the existing lender.
  • The lender will direct them to their website, or will advise how to obtain specific forms, instructions and lender requirements.
  • This group of documents, along with the lender’s financial forms (Short Sale Package*) is then sent to the lender as per the lender’s instructions.
  • After the lender receives the package it is then assigned to a contact person in the lender’s Loss Mitigation Department. This process can take anywhere from two weeks to two months and sometimes even longer.
  • At this point the Loss Mitigation Dept reviews the package, and contacts the homeowner to request any additional items that may be required. This request is usually made verbally to the homeowner or negotiator but can sometimes be found via the lender’s website.
  • The lender will then request a Broker’s Price Opinion (BPO) from a Realtor chosen by the lender.
  • Once the lender has received the BPO as well as the Short Sale Package, they submit it for final review. When the lender has completed their final review, they may give approval "as is" or the approval may be subject to changes, such as sales price or terms. Or the lender may decide that the seller did not have ample reason for the short sale and therefore deny the request for the short sale.
The *Short Sale Package can consist of 100 to 200 pages including, but not limited to, the following items:

1. Listing Agreement
2. Short Sale Addendum
3. Offer to Purchase
4. Proof of Buyer’s funds
5. Owner’s Tax returns
6. Paystubs
7. Owner’s Bank Statements
8. Hardship letter from owner (explaining why the short sale is needed)

Every lender and situation is unique.  Short sales in Hamilton and, indeed, all of Mercer County, NJ, are complicated and require a professional at your service.  You need an experienced Realtor representing you who will guide you through the process and make sure you are kept informed.  I have the knowledge and New Jersey experience to help.  Remember, you have options to foreclosure but contact me now if you are having problems paying the mortgage on your Hamilton NJ home.

Joe Giancarli, Sales Associate