Thursday, December 30, 2010

Cost vs Value - What Remodeling Projects Bring the Highest Return

As part of the 2010-11 Remodeling Cost vs. Value Report, REALTORS® recently rated exterior replacement projects among the most cost-effective home improvement projects, demonstrating that curb appeal remains one of the most important aspects of a home at resale time.

“This year’s Remodeling Cost vs. Value Report highlights the importance of exterior projects, which not only provide the most value, but also are among the least expensive improvements for a home,” said National Association of REALTORS® President Ron Phipps.

Nine of the top 10 most cost-effective projects nationally in terms of value recouped are exterior replacement projects. The steel entry door replacement remained the project that returned the most money, with an estimated 102.1% of cost recouped upon resale; it is also the only project in this year’s report that is expected to return more than the cost. The midrange garage door replacement, a new addition to the report this year, is expected to recoup 83.9% of costs. Both projects are small investments that cost little more than $1,200 each, on average.  These projects can significantly improve a home’s curb appeal. “Curb appeal remains king – it’s the first thing potential buyers notice when looking for a home, and it also demonstrates pride of ownership,” said Phipps.

The 2010-11 Remodeling Cost vs. Value Report compares construction costs with resale values for 35 midrange and upscale remodeling projects comprising additions, remodels and replacements in 80 markets across the country. Data are grouped in nine U.S. regions, following the divisions established by the U.S. Census Bureau. This is the 13th consecutive year that the report, which is produced by Remodeling magazine publisher Hanley Wood LLC, was completed in cooperation with REALTOR® Magazine.

According to the report, replacement projects usually outperform remodel and addition projects in resale value because they are among the least expensive, and contribute to curb appeal. Various types of siding and window replacement projects were estimated to return more than 70% of costs. Upscale fiber-cement siding replacement was judged the most cost effective among siding projects, recouping 80% of costs. Among window projects, upscale vinyl window replacements were expected to recoup the most, 72.6% upon resale. A wood deck addition, with a minor kitchen remodel, was the fourth most profitable project, recouping an estimated 72.8% of costs.

The top interior projects for resale value included an attic bedroom and a basement remodel. Both add living space without extending the footprint of the house. An attic bedroom addition costs more than $51,000 and recoups an estimated 72.2% nationally upon resale; a basement remodel costs more than $64,000 and recoups an estimated 70%. Improvement projects that are expected to return the least are a midrange home office remodel, recouping an estimated 45.8%; a backup power generator, recouping 48.5%; and a sunroom addition, recouping 48.6% of costs.

Although most regions followed the national trends, the regions that consistently were estimated to return a higher percentage of remodeling costs upon resale were the Pacific region of Alaska, California, Hawaii, Oregon and Washington; the West South Central region of Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, and Texas; the East South Central region of Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi and Tennessee; and the South Atlantic region of the District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia.

The regions where REALTORS® generally reported the lowest percentage of costs recouped were New England (Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont), East North Central (Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin), West North Central (Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota), and Middle Atlantic (New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania).

“It’s important to remember that the resale value of a particular improvement project depends on several factors,” said Phipps. “Things such as the home’s overall condition, availability and condition of surrounding properties, location and the regional economic climate contribute to an estimated resale value. That’s why it is imperative to work with a REALTOR® who can provide insight and guidance into local market conditions whether you’re buying, selling or improving a home.”

I have many years of experience in the building trades, and New Jersey real estate.  Call or email me to discuss the project you have in mind so you can decide if it makes sense to spend your money.

Joe Giancarli, SA
Real Estate Advisor
Short Sale Specialist
Source:  National Assn of Realtors

Home Affordability Continues in Mercer Co, NJ

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the U.S. Department of the Treasury have released the December edition of the Obama Administration’s Housing Scorecard. The figures show continued home affordability in the housing market, with interest rates near record lows.  The market, however, remains fragile.  Prices are unsettled in many areas (contact me to find out about your own community), but foreclosure starts and completions dropped significantly in November. 

“The Obama Administration’s broad set of programs have helped promote stability for the housing market, neighborhoods, and the nation’s homeowners, but there is much more work to be done,” said HUD Assistant Secretary Raphael Bostic. “Since taking office in 2009, the Administration’s efforts have helped millions of families stay in their homes and helped millions more refinance, but the data clearly show that the market remains extremely fragile. That’s why we’re continuing to focus on successfully implementing the programs we’ve put in place—such as additional refinancing assistance and emergency loans to help unemployed homeowners—and ensuring that help is available to homeowners as early as possible.”

Key points of the HUD report:
-Foreclosure starts and completions dropped significantly in November. As lenders review internal procedures related to foreclosure processing, many foreclosure actions have been delayed, leading to a 21% drop in foreclosure activity in November. While this is the biggest month-over-month decrease since 2005, the decline is likely to be temporary, as lenders eventually revise and resubmit foreclosure paperwork in the coming months.
-As expected with the expiration of the Home Buyer Tax Credit, new and existing home sales have remained below levels seen in the first half of 2010. However, the report shows that home prices and home equity declined moderately, as prices remain unsettled at this fragile stage of the recovery.
-More than 3.9 million mortgage aid offers were initiated between April 2009 and the end of October 2010—more than double the number of foreclosure completions during that time. These actions included over 1.4 million Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) trial modification starts, more than 600,000 Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loss mitigation and early delinquency interventions, and nearly 1.8 million proprietary modifications under HOPE Now. While some homeowners may have received help from more than one program, the number of agreements offered were more than double the number of foreclosure completions for the same period (1.7 million).

If you want to find out the value of your Hamilton NJ home in today's market, call or email.  If you are having trouble paying your mortgage, don't wait - call or email me today.  You have options to foreclosure.

Joe Giancarli, SA
Short Sale Specialist
Real Estate Advisor

Thursday, December 23, 2010

First Time Buyers Still Driving our Real Estate Market

According to the latest Campbell/Inside Mortgage Finance HousingPulse Tracking Survey, rising mortgage rates helped push first-time homebuyers to buy properties in November, surging from 34.4% in October to 37.2% last month. 

Investors lost some of their enthusiasm for distressed properties last month, falling from 21.4% for home purchase transactions in October to 19.9% in November. During September, investor participation peaked at 22.3%, a 15-month high, according to the closely watched survey.   The large inventory of distressed properties is making investors nervous that prices will decline in 2011, Popik reported, adding that many investors see their previous business model - buy, rehab, and immediately sell - becoming increasingly difficult to execute and are now being forced to rent their properties.

"The recent surge in interest rates has made potential homebuyers nervous," explained Thomas Popik, director of the HousingPulse survey. "If rates go up much more, then a good percentage of them will no longer qualify for the properties they want. As a result, they're making bids on homes and quickly closing before their rate locks expire."

Our New Jersey real estate market is still in a state of flux with constantly changing conditions.  Call or email me to discuss your options and where you can find the best home for your needs.

Joe Giancarli, SA
Real Estate Advisor
Short Sale Specialist

US Home Sales Rise 5.6% in November

According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), existing home sales rose 5.6% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.68 million in November from 4.43 million in October, but are still 27.9% below the cyclical peak of 6.49 million in November 2009, which was the initial deadline for the first-time buyer tax credit.

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, explained, ""Continuing gains in home sales are encouraging, and the positive impact of steady job creation will more than trump some negative impact from a modest rise in mortgage interest rates, which remain historically favorable."   He added that home buyers are responding to improved affordability conditions. "The relationship recently between mortgage interest rates, home prices and family income has been the most favorable on record for buying a home since we started measuring in 1970," he said. "Therefore, the market is recovering and we should trend up to a healthy, sustainable level in 2011."

Distressed homes have been a fairly stable market share, accounting for 33% of sales in November; they were 34% in October and 33% in November 2009.  Foreclosures, which accounted for two-thirds of the distressed sales share, sold at a median discount of 15% in November, while short sales were discounted 10% in comparison with traditional home sales.  The national median existing-home price for all housing types was $170,600 in November, up 0.4% from November 2009.

Another recent NAR survey shows first-time buyers purchased 32% of homes in November, the same as in October, but are below a 51% share in November 2009.  Investors accounted for 19% of transactions in November, also unchanged from October, but are up from 12% in November 2009.  All-cash sales were at 31% in November, up from 29% in October and 19% a year ago. "The elevated level of all-cash transactions continues to reflect tight credit market conditions," Yun said.

Regionally, existing-home sales in the Northeast rose 2.7% to an annual pace of 770,000 in November but are 33.0% below the cyclical peak in November 2009. The median price in the Northeast was $242,500, which is 9.2% higher than a year ago.

Call or email me to discuss your housing needs in the new year.  Inventory is still high, but rates are rising, so start planning now to purchase that Hamilton NJ home.

Joe Giancarli, SA
Real Estate Advisor
Short Sale Specialist

Friday, December 17, 2010

Predictions for 2011 in our Hamilton NJ Real Estate Market

Freddie Mac analysts point to five features they believe will characterize the 2011 housing and mortgage markets:

1. Low mortgage rates. With Fed observers expecting the central bank to keep the federal funds rate at its current target range of 0% to 0.25% for most (or all) of 2011, relatively low mortgage rates will be a feature of the 2011 mortgage market. Thirty-year fixed-rate loans are likely to remain below 5% throughout the year, and initial rates of 5/1 hybrid adjustable-rate mortgages will likely remain below 4% in 2011.

2. Prices have hit bottom. House prices are likely to begin a gradual, but sustained recovery in the second half of 2011.

3. Housing will remain affordable. With affordability high, many first-time buyers will be attracted to the housing market in the New Year, likely translating into more home sales in 2011 than in 2010.

4. Refinances will dwindle. Many eligible borrowers have already refinanced and the federal Making Home Affordable refinance program expires June 30. While fixed-rate loans are likely to remain low, they will move up gradually, making it even less likely that refinances will be attractive to most home owners.

5. Delinquency rates will decline. Based on the last several business cycles, the share of loans that are 90 or more days delinquent or in foreclosure proceedings — known as the "seriously delinquent rate" — generally crests within a year of the start of the recovery in payroll employment, and this economic recovery appears to fit within that pattern. Payrolls began to rise last January, and by the spring the seriously delinquent rate had begun to fall.

For buyers and sellers faced with the real estate market of the past 2-3 years, all of these predictions are positive and reason to start thinking about a move.  #2 and #3 directly will affect our real estate market in Hamilton and Mercer County.  Contact me now to sign up for automatic notices of new listings and price changes, and to study prices in the neighborhood(s) of your choice.

Joe Giancarli, SA
Real Estate Advisor
Short Sale Specialist

Foreclosure Activity Down Nationwide in November

RealtyTrac has released its U.S. Foreclosure Market Report for November 2010, which shows foreclosure filings—default notices, scheduled auctions and bank repossessions—were reported on 262,339 U.S. properties in November, a 21% decrease from the previous month and a 14% decrease from November 2009. One in every 492 U.S. housing units received a foreclosure filing during the month.

“Foreclosure activity decreased dramatically in November, with fewer than 300,000 properties receiving a foreclosure notice for the first time since February 2009,” said James J. Saccacio, chief executive officer at RealtyTrac. “While part of the decrease can be attributed to a seasonal drop of 7 to 10% that typically occurs in November, fallout from the foreclosure robo-signing controversy forced lenders and servicers to hit the pause button on many foreclosures while they scrambled to revamp their internal procedures and revise or resubmit questionable paperwork.”

Both the 21% month-over-month decrease and 14% year-over-year decrease in foreclosure activity were the highest drops recorded since RealtyTrac began publishing the U.S. Foreclosure Report in January 2005.

If you are having problems paying your mortgage, don't wait to become a foreclosure statistic.  Contact me today.  I am experienced in short sales and distressed properties and can give you options to foreclosure.

Joe Giancarli, SA
Real Estate Advisor
Short Sale Specialist

Number of Homes that have been Reduced in Price Up Substantially from Last Year

It comes as no surprise to anyone who has been watching our real estate market in Hamilton NJ and Mercer County, to read the news that the number of price-reduced homes on the market in November increased dramatically nationwide, compared to the same time last year, rising 24.1% according to ZipRealty’s Price Reduction Index (a monthly review of 26 markets).

For the second straight month, total inventory dropped with November seeing a 3.8% decrease as compared to October. The percentage of inventory that has been reduced edged up 0.1% as the number of price-reduced listings fell at a slightly slower rate of 3.7%.  This is normal for New Jersey, because of weather-related issues and builder inventory slowdown.

“Typically, November is a slower month for sales,” said John Oldham, Director of Marketing for ZipRealty. “Inventory peaked in September and has dropped over the last two months. The increase in price-reduced listings is evidence that sellers are still trying to find the right price point to get the property to sell.”  While some homeowners may wait until after the holidays to sell; those selling now are listing homes for lower prices as the median list price dropped 2.8% from October to $234,484.

Highlights of the report:
-Nearly half (48.4%) of listed homes in November included at least one price reduction, an increase of 24.1% over last year and 0.1% over October
-The median list price dropped by 2.8% from October to $234,484, and the average percentage of price reduction amount to list price rose to 7.6% in November, a 1.7% change from October
-In 17 of the 26 markets surveyed, listings have experienced an average of two price reductions

Price reductions aren't good for sellers, but they mean value for buyers.  Call or email me to find some great prices for a Hamilton NJ home to fit your needs.

Joe Giancarli, SA

Homeownership is Still a Goal - and Possible in Hamilton, NJ

The desire to own a home hasn’t been diminished by the downturn in the industry, according to a survey by Fannie Mae.  Of owners and renters surveyed, 51% say that the housing crisis has not affected their overall willingness to buy a home. About 27%  say they are more likely to buy since the crisis, presumably because of lowered prices, and 19% say they are more likely to rent.

However, about 33% say they would be more likely to rent their next home than buy, up from 30%  in January. Among renters, 59% said they would continue to rent in their next move, compared to 54%  in January 2010.

66% say they believe that housing is a safe investment, as safe as an IRA or a 401(k) plan.

About 50% say they believe that owning is a good idea, even if they plan to stay in the home less than three years.

86%  identify tax benefits as a reason to buy.

Call or email me and let's talk about how you can meet your housing needs and dreams by owning a home in Hamilton NJ or Mercer County.

Joe Giancarli, SA
Real Estate Advisor
Short Sale Specialist

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Anatomy of a Short Sale in Hamilton, NJ

Basically, a short sale is one in which there is more debt owing on the property than the property's value - termed "underwater" in many markets.  In countless cities across the country, short sales and distressed property or bank-owned homes account for more than 40% of all real estate sales.

Who is involved in a short sale?  First, the homeowner(s).  Second the lender (mortgage company or companies).  The sellers will have to explain their financial situation to the lender and convince them of their inability to pay the full balance owing on their home loan.  The lender will require documentation of the seller's finances. 

The lender wants a) to the paid the full amount of the loan, b) if that seems impossible, to minimize their loss.  A short sale is next-to last resort (last is foreclosure, expensive and tedious for the lender and the worst scenario for the homeowner).  Once the foreclosure process has started, it becomes more difficult to work out a possible solution with the lender, because of legal timeframes and filings which must be met.  Loan servicers are working on behalf of investors and are expected to negotiate the highest possible sales price for the property, which the lender may feel it can get through the foreclosure auction.

Another player in a short sale is the financial advisor or tax professional.  A short sale where a portion of the debt is “forgiven” is considered relief of debt, and may be treated as income for tax purposes. When debt is forgiven, the creditor (homeowner) must submit a Form 1099 to the IRS.  For more information, visit  You may want to discuss with a tax professional future tax liability and consequences of the short sale in your situation.

The 4th player in this scenario is an attorney.  You should understand the law related to release of liens, mortgage liability, and future obligations.  Some government programs currently offered to homeowners facing foreclosure do not allow the lender to pursue any deficiency balance; however, not all homeowners will qualify for these programs.

Finally, and not the least important, the 5th player is your REALTOR®.  I am experienced in short sales with both buyers and sellers in all counties of central New Jersey, from Hamilton to the Shore.  So call or email me and let's discuss your options, the value of your home, and your future needs.  Should it be necessary for you to proceed with a short sale, the lender will require the property to be listed with a licensed REALTOR®.

If you are having problems paying your mortgage, don't wait.  A Short Sale is your best alternative to foreclosure.

Joe Giancarli, SA
Real Estate Advisor
Short Sale Specialist

Plan Now to Buy that Home in Hamilton NJ Next Year

It is easy to overspend during the holiday season.  But with home prices and interest rates starting to rise, if you want to be a new homeowner in 2011 you should plan ahead, and start now. 

1.  Minimize your holiday spending.  Not many folks in this economy will expect you to overspend to give them presents this season, so be frugal and put any extra cash right into savings.  If you are serious about buying a home next year, don't run up additional credit card debt on gifts.  This includes your kids, who can probably do with less Stuff anyway.
2.  Find a high-interest savings account, probably online, and open a New Home account.  Set up an automatic deposit, in any amount, so you will have the discipline and reward that come with regular savings.  If you are starting off with some money, look ahead to 20% downpayment to get the best interest rate.  If you are cash-poor, think of 3.5% for a FHA loan.  Add 3% more for closing costs and loan fees to your savings goal.  To be able to purchase a $200,000 home in Hamilton, NJ, that means about $13,000 to cover your downpayment and fees.
3.  Now is our slow real estate time, with bad weather and short daylight hours.  Use the time to become familiar with neighborhoods, communities, and schools you will consider, home prices there, and amenities.  I was born and raised in Mercer County, so can answer your questions on real estate values in any area.  Also set up a personal search for home sale prices on my site, .
4.  Get copies of your credit reports (  from the main 3 credit bureaus, and work on clearing anything that isn't yours or improving the score. 
5.  While you are working on the numbers, get comfortable with what you can afford in a monthly house payment + taxes + insurance + reserve for repairs.  Know your buying power.  Again, email me and I can recommend lenders who - free of charge - can preapprove you for a loan.

Buying a home is a serious decision, and if you start now, you can be ready when Spring comes and you are ready to actually preview some homes.  Let me help - call or email with your home buying questions.

Joe Giancarli, SA
Real Estate Advisor
Short Sale Specialist

Thursday, December 2, 2010

US Home Prices Declined in 3rd Quarter

According to Standard & Poor's S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices, the U.S. National Home Price Index declined 2.0% in the third quarter of 2010, after having risen 4.7% in the second quarter.  Nationally, home prices are 1.5% below the levels last year. In September, 18 of the 20 MSAs covered by S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices and both monthly composites were down; and only the two composites and five MSAs showed year-over-year gains. While housing prices are still above their spring 2009 lows, the end of the tax incentives and still active foreclosures appear to be weighing down the market.

"While some of the bad numbers may reflect the end of the government's tax incentive for first time home-buyers, there are other problems weighing on the housing market," said David M. Blitzer, Chairman of the Index Committee at Standard & Poor's. "The national economy is certainly the number one issue for housing. Additionally, there is a large supply of houses on the market and further, hidden, supply due to delinquent mortgages, pending foreclosures or vacant homes. New construction is running at less than half the pace needed to meet normal demand, so a sustained recovery could be a ways off."

Every market is different and even some neighborhoods have stronger price recovery than others.  Contact me to find out about prices in your local community of Hamilton NJ or Mercer County.

Joe Giancarli, SA
Real Estate Advisor
Short Sale Specialist

Hamilton, NJ - Nottinghill - Home for Sale - Brockton Rd

28 Brockton Rd in Mercerville is a well-built 4 bedroom, 1.5 bath Cape, with a first floor recreation room ideal for an in-law suite. Features include a full finished basement with outside entrance, newer roof, vinyl siding and windows, and beautiful hardwood floors under wall-to-wall carpeting.  All appliances are included.  There is a full bath on the second floor, and half bath on the first floor with room to be converted into a full bath, and 2 bedrooms. The fenced yard is ideal for a garden or sports play, and the wood deck is ready for your summer BBQs. This Estate sale has been home to one family for many years, lovingly maintained, and needs only a little updating. This affordable home is a great opportunity for an investor or first-time buyer, and in an established neighborhood of well-maintained Cape homes with yards and mature landscaping.  Take advantage of the immediate closing available and the great rates for qualified Buyers.

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

Nottinghill - Hamilton Twp - In-law suite - Basement - Yard







Single Family Home

Main Features

4 Bedrooms
1 Bathroom
1 Partial Bathroom
Interior: 1500 sqft
Lot: 5,500 sqft


28 Brockton Rd
Hamilton, NJ 08619

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Joseph Joe Giancarli

Joseph Joe Giancarli

RE/MAX Tri-County
(609) 587-9300 (Office)

Listed by: RE/MAX Tri County

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