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Re: Now is a good time to buy in Hudson County, analysts say
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designknob wrote:

Okay, I'll bite. The pre-approval is not done by the realtor. Anyone could search and find a place these days via MLS, negotiating a price is about 10 minutes, or a few phone calls, the contracts are standard and used over & over. Provide an attorney list? please. the legal riders are supposed to be explained by your attorney. represent me during an inspection? no thanks, I want to be there myself, and my attorney will negotiate anything wrong with the sellers attorney. Come on now. lead paint forms etc. those are a dime a dozen, and again I will state the realtor knows nothing of the property. These "forms" state to the "best of the sellers knowledge." Guess what? Most houses do have lead paint in them if they are older. And I'll worry about my own finances, not the realtor. I'm sorry, you may do a lot of work and be worth every penny, but trying to sell me on these "services" does not make them come anywhere close to being worth 6% of a $500k+ property. Just my $.02.


The fact of the matter is that most people don't know as much as you seem to know.

Drop the 6% notion, it barely exists anymore. My office works as a team, we're not individuals. So if you hire us to list your home for 5% (much more common), you have someone listing and marketing your home, someone fielding appointments and scheduling showings and someone negotiating offers and seeing it to closing. Not to mention the unlicensed staff that assists the Realtors (with CMA's, marketing materials and general office duties). That's 5 people sharing the 5% commission you've agreed to. Does that sound fair to you? It works for us. 5 people on one transaction makes things happen a lot easier and faster. We run our office like a business. Egos are not allowed inside. If they're not putting the client first, they can work for any other office.

It makes sense doesn't it? When I'm 50, I want a business that is ALL referral. I don't want to be spending the same marketing dollars I do today. And the only way to create that is to do right by the client and understand my market. It's that simple.

Negotiating a price in 10 minutes was back in 2005. It's not happening here. I have a client that has lost out on 3 condos in downtown JC (not to mention Hoboken) because of multiple offers and price negotiations. I may know what the market will yield but will he? By law, I am obligated to present his offer even if it's $100. A lot of people are looking for a "steal" today and unfortunately there aren't a lot in downtown JC. So here we are in month 3 and he's nowhere closer to finding a new home. It takes a lot of work to try to educate a buyer to understand the market you work in and to offer realistically. Therefore, it takes a lot of time to understand the market yourself, if you want to feed your family. Nothing sells easy anymore unless all parties are realistic and that's not happening these days.

My office works as a team like I said, we don't work as individual Realtors. I've often previewed homes for clients before taking them there to keep from wasting their time. However, when a home is posted for sale, very little information is given out aside from the layout and amenities. If there is interest, then we dig further and get all of the client's questions answered. It's too much work to fill out disclosures and present full information BEFORE interest is shown. Plus it's bad business. Like any other profession, it's better to get the client into the home to see things for themselves before they eliminate it on paper.

It's one thing if you don't trust your Realtor to represent you, that's a whole other story. But a Realtor can and will keep a deal together when it's on the brink of falling apart. Our clients have more than once had us present for the home inspection because they had to work or had kids to take care of or they had an emergency. It's nice for them to know that we have their back and that's our job.

As for attorneys, unfortunately most Realtors don't have a good relationship with them but I won't get into that. Many times a Realtor has to step in and explain things that the attorney, who has NOT seen the property, doesn't understand.

Contracts are not as standard as you think. I've received contracts from potential buyer's agents that have turned my stomach. There definitely is a lot of incompetence out there. But when dealing with new construction, most builders have their own contracts that can be up to 50 pages long. That's not too easy to explain to each potential buyer that walks through the door.

And in response to fat-ass-bike (to keep from adding more posts than necessary), kick backs? Real estate is incredibly regulated. So much so that there's a real estate commission for every state and they can make surprise visits whenever they like and go through your documents. They also send out "testers", undercover individuals that may disguise themselves as low income clients just to make sure we uphold the Fair Housing laws. New Jersey has more real estate laws than any other state. If a deal receives an offer but doesn't go anywhere, we must keep the paperwork for 6 months. If a deal goes under contract, whether it closes or not, we must keep the paperwork for 6 years. We will be shut down if the commission comes in to see the work and we've thrown it away. And believe me, they will come.

And the college thing, come on. Most millionaires didn't make their wealth from college studied professions and these days, most people don't end up in the profession they studied for.

We take our business very seriously. I couldn't sleep at night knowing I didn't do everything I could to provide for my family. And if that means giving my all to my clients, proving my worth and building relationships, that's exactly what I'm going to do.

Posted on: 2008/9/9 10:17
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Re: Now is a good time to buy in Hudson County, analysts say
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fat-ass-bike wrote:

Isn't that all just a matter of filling in the blanks for those documents and the current landlord to tender if they want to sell and supply all the other stuff ?

Doesn't a building inspector make reports and recommendations prior the sale and a final inspection before signing over ?

'pre-approve', 'finances' = more kickbacks and commissions ?

What is the pre-requisite to be a realtor these days - finance broker, building inspector, attorney, health and environmental inspector, liason officer, mediator ?

Is being a realtor a 4 year college course ?

Is the real estate business regulated ?


Although I do agree with most of the above, I will state that just because being a realtor may not be a 4 year college course, I don't think it's not a legitimate business. If the realtor that responded is an exception to the rule, then more power to him/her. Because honestly, I think with all the crappy realtors out there, it wouldn't be that hard to really excel and do really well at this profession. It's just that my experiences have not found that to be the case yet, and I was responding to the answers I received from my post. I still don't think it justifies the commission(s) based on those responses. If a realtor does more than I'm aware of, please let me know.

Posted on: 2008/9/9 5:33
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Re: Now is a good time to buy in Hudson County, analysts say
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JimmyB wrote:

Someone had to pre-approve you, search and find this place for you to buy, set up the appointment, negotiate the best price for you, draft the contracts, supply you with a choice of attorneys (if you don't have any), explain the legal riders that go back and forth from the attorneys, schedule the home inspection (and supply you with an inspector if you didn't already have one), represent you during the inspection, negotiate any repairs or credits for inspection issues, make sure all parties (your attorney, mortgage lender, the seller's agent, the seller's attorney, the appraiser) has all the proper documents (contracts, tax records, lead paint forms, disclosures, smoke/carbon monoxide cert, certificate of occupancy) and last but not least, pray that your finances are in order and you are approved of a mortgage. Otherwise all that time spent (usually 45 days) with no pay.


Isn't that all just a matter of filling in the blanks for those documents and the current landlord to tender if they want to sell and supply all the other stuff ?

Doesn't a building inspector make reports and recommendations prior the sale and a final inspection before signing over ?

'pre-approve', 'finances' = more kickbacks and commissions ?

What is the pre-requisite to be a realtor these days - finance broker, building inspector, attorney, health and environmental inspector, liason officer, mediator ?

Is being a realtor a 4 year college course ?

Is the real estate business regulated ?

Posted on: 2008/9/9 2:21
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Re: Now is a good time to buy in Hudson County, analysts say
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JimmyB wrote:


Someone had to pre-approve you, search and find this place for you to buy, set up the appointment, negotiate the best price for you, draft the contracts, supply you with a choice of attorneys (if you don't have any), explain the legal riders that go back and forth from the attorneys, schedule the home inspection (and supply you with an inspector if you didn't already have one), represent you during the inspection, negotiate any repairs or credits for inspection issues, make sure all parties (your attorney, mortgage lender, the seller's agent, the seller's attorney, the appraiser) has all the proper documents (contracts, tax records, lead paint forms, disclosures, smoke/carbon monoxide cert, certificate of occupancy) and last but not least, pray that your finances are in order and you are approved of a mortgage. Otherwise all that time spent (usually 45 days) with no pay.


Okay, I'll bite. The pre-approval is not done by the realtor. Anyone could search and find a place these days via MLS, negotiating a price is about 10 minutes, or a few phone calls, the contracts are standard and used over & over. Provide an attorney list? please. the legal riders are supposed to be explained by your attorney. represent me during an inspection? no thanks, I want to be there myself, and my attorney will negotiate anything wrong with the sellers attorney. Come on now. lead paint forms etc. those are a dime a dozen, and again I will state the realtor knows nothing of the property. These "forms" state to the "best of the sellers knowledge." Guess what? Most houses do have lead paint in them if they are older. And I'll worry about my own finances, not the realtor. I'm sorry, you may do a lot of work and be worth every penny, but trying to sell me on these "services" does not make them come anywhere close to being worth 6% of a $500k+ property. Just my $.02.

Posted on: 2008/9/9 2:02
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Re: Now is a good time to buy in Hudson County, analysts say
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designknob wrote:
Most realtors around here are indeed useless. They know absolutely nothing about the properties, history, etc. All they do is get the keys and let you in. A lot haven't even seen the place before you walk in with them. So tell me again why a realtor is so useful? I'm all for people getting paid for their time, but that should be it. If you make a commission selling a 600k place that the only thing you've done is let the buyer in the door, then I think you're making far too much!


This sounds more like 2005 when anyone could sell anything for any price. There's a lot more involved these days.

Someone had to pre-approve you, search and find this place for you to buy, set up the appointment, negotiate the best price for you, draft the contracts, supply you with a choice of attorneys (if you don't have any), explain the legal riders that go back and forth from the attorneys, schedule the home inspection (and supply you with an inspector if you didn't already have one), represent you during the inspection, negotiate any repairs or credits for inspection issues, make sure all parties (your attorney, mortgage lender, the seller's agent, the seller's attorney, the appraiser) has all the proper documents (contracts, tax records, lead paint forms, disclosures, smoke/carbon monoxide cert, certificate of occupancy) and last but not least, pray that your finances are in order and you are approved of a mortgage. Otherwise all that time spent (usually 45 days) with no pay.

Posted on: 2008/9/9 1:24
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Re: Now is a good time to buy in Hudson County, analysts say
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Most realtors around here are indeed useless. They know absolutely nothing about the properties, history, etc. All they do is get the keys and let you in. A lot haven't even seen the place before you walk in with them. So tell me again why a realtor is so useful? I'm all for people getting paid for their time, but that should be it. If you make a commission selling a 600k place that the only thing you've done is let the buyer in the door, then I think you're making far too much!

Real estate around here reminds me of the old Honda commercials where they sell themselves. Realtors let you in the door and stand there. Then when you ask a question, they know nothing about the property. Is it too much to ask to do a little research before you try to sell something this expensive? Most pimply faced kids in Best Buy know more about the TV's they are selling than your average realtor knows about the million dollar properties they are selling around here. And I personally find that sad!

Posted on: 2008/9/9 1:07
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Re: Now is a good time to buy in Hudson County, analysts say
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If thats the case and you do disclose everything that would be expected of a professional realtor, then you are certainly a rare breed.
Taking you on your word, keep up the ethical approach to your job, without the sugar coating.

Posted on: 2008/9/9 0:55
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Re: Now is a good time to buy in Hudson County, analysts say
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fat-ass-bike wrote:
how many realtors would talk about sewage, flooding, gang issues at local schools and crime issues in a neighborhood.

going by some posts who have bought in JC, would they now have second thoughts if they were better informed - for 6% a realtor should inform their buyers - not just be a tour guide for homes and say how lovely things are and the ease of access to NY (we won't mention the overcrowding on the PATH either) !

Ask yourself how good REALLY was your realtor when you purchased or rented ?


Where does this 6% notion come from? That's a rare number, especially these days.

Before we take buyers to see homes, we tell them to drive around the neighborhoods they are interested in at night. If they don't feel comfortable with what they see, we move on. We have laws that prevent us from "blockbusting" and "steering".

It's really too bad that many unprofessional Realtors have created such a bad taste. I guess that would explain why now, in a market where one has to work hard, we have lost over 1000 Realtors in Hudson County alone in less than a year. I'm curious as to what kind of Realtors are still around, now that the "good times" of 2005 are long behind us.

Besides, do you really think it's a good idea for us to mislead our clients? I'm proud to say most of our business is referral business and that's not because we mislead our clients.

Who is going to negotiate the best price for you? Do you know if the house you are buying is overpriced?

Are you aware of what Radon and Lead Paint are? Do you know what year they outlawed Lead Paint so you don't have to worry about it when buying a home?

Did the seller fill out a seller's disclosure? Do you know if a seller is legally obligated to fill one out?

Did you know a seller doesn't have to tell you if there are mice in the house? Are you aware of any easements or assessments? Are there any other offers that you are competing with?

Is the seller in violation of any building codes? Would you rather know BEFORE having a home inspection and already under contract?

Posted on: 2008/9/9 0:10
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Re: Now is a good time to buy in Hudson County, analysts say
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wibbit wrote:

with all due respect, most realtors will price the property at any ridiculus price the seller wants just to get the contract signed. I have worked with a lot of realtors, there are less than a handful that would make a point to show actual research and tell the seller they are full of shit (in a nice way) about the price.

Then out of those, a few is the opposite and will lowball your property to a ridculus amount just so they can make a quick sale (back during the good times)

When i was selling both of my condos back in 06/07, i start off by throwing out a ridculus high number and see how the realtors respond, that's a big criterial for picking the right agent for me. Worked out good both times.


Unfortunately, there are many like that. But most Realtors don't understand that this kind of behavior really hurts their business for multiple reasons:

1. An overpriced house will not sell. A Realtor is spending gobs of money on marketing and in the end will probably be withdrawn

2. If it's not withdrawn, they will usually find themselves fighting with the sellers for a price reduction. That's not fun and kinda kills the rapport.

3. There's nothing worse than having 80 listings, all overpriced. Everyone then knows you as the "guy with overpriced listings" and guess what, they won't show your listings anymore. That's a DANGEROUS reputation to have.

I'm not at all ashamed to tell you that we walked away from a 1million+ townhouse on Jersey Avenue on the far side of Hamilton Park because the seller wanted too much money.

We have less listings than most offices because of this but it's quite amazing to see a home sell in 9 days (246 6th Street) and 14 days (201 3rd Street) because we price them correctly. It's smart business, the only business worth doing.

Overpriced listings hurt the industry and hurt the community.

Posted on: 2008/9/9 0:02
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Re: Now is a good time to buy in Hudson County, analysts say
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JadedJC wrote:
JimmyB: One more question for you. The August home sales data you posted gave the average time on market for a downtown condo at 90 days. Am I right in assuming this is the average time between when the home was first listed and the actual closing date? (and not the number of days it was listed before it received an accetable offer and went under contract).


In the way the Hudson County MLS works, it means the number of days it was listed until it came out of attorney review and went under contract.

It definitely means what it says by "days on market". If you are under contract, a Realtor MUST take it off the market (no more showings).

45 days is the standard closing time from the day an offer is accepted and contracts are signed. It all depends on how long it is in attorney review, the home inspection and any issues, the appraisal and mortgage approval. It really is up to the attorneys and how fast or slow they work.

If you don't have to wait for the spring market, don't. The fall is a good market as well until the holidays start kicking in. But with things so uncertain, don't wait if you don't have to.

Posted on: 2008/9/8 23:55
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Re: Now is a good time to buy in Hudson County, analysts say
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how many realtors would talk about sewage, flooding, gang issues at local schools and crime issues in a neighborhood.

going by some posts who have bought in JC, would they now have second thoughts if they were better informed - for 6% a realtor should inform their buyers - not just be a tour guide for homes and say how lovely things are and the ease of access to NY (we won't mention the overcrowding on the PATH either) !

Ask yourself how good REALLY was your realtor when you purchased or rented ?

Posted on: 2008/9/8 23:52
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Re: Now is a good time to buy in Hudson County, analysts say
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JadedJC wrote:
Are you saying there's room to negotiate on the commission? I had been led to believe that 6% was pretty much set in stone, and that at best, the realtor might go down to 5%. I've seen FSBO cases in which a home was priced a bit less than comparable ones on the same street/neighborhood. So for a home that might price around 400K, the owner might drop the asking down to 385K or 390K on the rationale that he keeps a bit more while the buyer pays a bit less. There are, of course, pitfalls to doing an FSBO, but I can see why some sellers are tempted to go it alone. I'm asking this because I am considering putting my condo on the market in the spring (assuming there's no collapse in the local market), and the average price of $453/square foot is interesting. Would you say proximity to the Grove PATH station is a bigger selling point than a "wow!" interior? I'm in a "historic" building, so there's naturally some wear and tear.


Commission can absolutely be negotiated. Some Realtors won't take no for an answer. My office? We give the sellers a few commission choices, some with more marketing than others.

Proximity to the PATH station is a HUGE selling point, more so than a great interior. Great interiors are everywhere, closeness to the PATH is not. But you have to look at your competition as well. Would someone be willing to pay more maintenance to be in a luxury high rise with new appliances, a doorman and perhaps a pool?

What you want to do is try to fix up as much as you can. We live in a hybrid neighborhood now with new construction all around us and we have to compete. For every little thing that is wrong, a buyer will use that to lower the price as much as they can. The less issues they can use against you, the better your chance to keep your price.

As for a FSBO, if the house next door sold for $400,000 and I put mine on the market for $375000 to avoid Realtor commissions, I'd be pretty silly. That is unless I'm in a rush and need to sell right away.

You always have to go with what the market dictates. Don't ever price your home because of the commission a Realtor is asking for.

Posted on: 2008/9/8 23:50
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Re: Now is a good time to buy in Hudson County, analysts say
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JimmyB: One more question for you. The August home sales data you posted gave the average time on market for a downtown condo at 90 days. Am I right in assuming this is the average time between when the home was first listed and the actual closing date? (and not the number of days it was listed before it received an accetable offer and went under contract).

Posted on: 2008/9/8 23:44
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Re: Now is a good time to buy in Hudson County, analysts say
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JimmyB wrote:

Yes and no. Most Realtors price homes according to the market.



with all due respect, most realtors will price the property at any ridiculus price the seller wants just to get the contract signed. I have worked with a lot of realtors, there are less than a handful that would make a point to show actual research and tell the seller they are full of shit (in a nice way) about the price.

Then out of those, a few is the opposite and will lowball your property to a ridculus amount just so they can make a quick sale (back during the good times)

When i was selling both of my condos back in 06/07, i start off by throwing out a ridculus high number and see how the realtors respond, that's a big criterial for picking the right agent for me. Worked out good both times.

Posted on: 2008/9/8 23:37
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Re: Now is a good time to buy in Hudson County, analysts say
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Yes and no. Most Realtors price homes according to the market. Then it's up to the seller to decide, based on the Realtor's marketing plan and knowledge/experience, how much they would be willing to pay to the Realtor. If homes were priced with commissions built in first, they probably wouldn't sell.


Are you saying there's room to negotiate on the commission? I had been led to believe that 6% was pretty much set in stone, and that at best, the realtor might go down to 5%. I've seen FSBO cases in which a home was priced a bit less than comparable ones on the same street/neighborhood. So for a home that might price around 400K, the owner might drop the asking down to 385K or 390K on the rationale that he keeps a bit more while the buyer pays a bit less. There are, of course, pitfalls to doing an FSBO, but I can see why some sellers are tempted to go it alone. I'm asking this because I am considering putting my condo on the market in the spring (assuming there's no collapse in the local market), and the average price of $453/square foot is interesting. Would you say proximity to the Grove PATH station is a bigger selling point than a "wow!" interior? I'm in a "historic" building, so there's naturally some wear and tear.

Posted on: 2008/9/8 23:33
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Re: Now is a good time to buy in Hudson County, analysts say
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JadedJC wrote:
No, but the 6% commission is built into the seller's asking price. There are good realtors out there who really work their tail off for the commission and others who are useless (like any profession).


Yes and no. Most Realtors price homes according to the market. Then it's up to the seller to decide, based on the Realtor's marketing plan and knowledge/experience, how much they would be willing to pay to the Realtor.

If homes were priced with commissions built in first, they probably wouldn't sell. If a home across the street identical to yours sold at 400,000, that's the ballpark I would price yours (depending on condition of course), I wouldn't add my commission to the list price. Some Realtors may do that but it's very unlikely the home will sell thus losing out on commission all together.

Posted on: 2008/9/8 23:17
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Re: Now is a good time to buy in Hudson County, analysts say
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I wish more people knew that they didn't have to pay a Realtor when using one to buy a house.


No, but the 6% commission is built into the seller's asking price. There are good realtors out there who really work their tail off for the commission and others who are useless (like any profession).

Posted on: 2008/9/8 23:12
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Re: Now is a good time to buy in Hudson County, analysts say
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brewster wrote:
that "fact sheet" is nothing but propaganda


Give me a break, any dumb-ass with basic communication skills can be a realtor.
Their only motivation is their own greed for commissions, like the Banks and used car salesmen.

If you're itching to spend money, rent for a year and buy some furniture. Lets see what happens after the elections and what they have planned for us.


So wait a minute, when you ask for your paycheck, you're a hard-workin', blue-collar, salt-of-the-earth hero, but when a realtor asks to get paid the fee that they openly negotiated with their client who signed a contract to use their services, they're being "greedy"?

LOL.

Posted on: 2008/9/8 23:11
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Re: Now is a good time to buy in Hudson County, analysts say
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fat-ass-bike wrote:
Give me a break, any dumb-ass with basic communication skills can be a realtor.
Their only motivation is their own greed for commissions, like the Banks and used car salesmen.

If you're itching to spend money, rent for a year and buy some furniture. Lets see what happens after the elections and what they have planned for us.


I wish more people knew that they didn't have to pay a Realtor when using one to buy a house.

Posted on: 2008/9/8 23:01
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Re: Now is a good time to buy in Hudson County, analysts say
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brewster wrote:
that "fact sheet" is nothing but propaganda


Give me a break, any dumb-ass with basic communication skills can be a realtor.
Their only motivation is their own greed for commissions, like the Banks and used car salesmen.

If you're itching to spend money, rent for a year and buy some furniture. Lets see what happens after the elections and what they have planned for us.

Posted on: 2008/9/8 22:51
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Re: Now is a good time to buy in Hudson County, analysts say
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brewster wrote:
Jimmy, I believe in RE, but that "fact sheet" is nothing but propaganda, basically saying "bubble, what bubble?". If they were honest they would use 20 or 30 years as the overview not the past 7, which were extraordinary by any standard you want to use.


They're using the past 7 years because that's been the greatest peak we've ever seen. Never before could so many people get mortgages at such low rates. It was a huge build up and while most came crashing down, NJ real estate has not crashed (yet?). Real estate has always been a rollercoaster ride but nothing like we've seen since 2001.

Florida and SoCal are hurting because they were the highest peaks seen and so they came slamming down when things went sour. We haven't felt that kind of damage and probably won't since we didn't see those types of numbers.

In fact, most of the mass media uses S&P stats which only cover a fraction of the real estate activity.

Posted on: 2008/9/8 22:49
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Re: Now is a good time to buy in Hudson County, analysts say
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Jimmy, I believe in RE, but that "fact sheet" is nothing but propaganda, basically saying "bubble, what bubble?". If they were honest they would use 20 or 30 years as the overview not the past 7, which were extraordinary by any standard you want to use.

Posted on: 2008/9/8 22:42
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Re: Now is a good time to buy in Hudson County, analysts say
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Thank you for posting the article, it surely helps.

Here is a fact sheet that was specifically sent out to Realtors, in hopes of combating the mass media's depiction of the real estate market.

http://www.realstorynj.com/pdf/facts.pdf

Visit the website as it explains a lot about what's happening in NJ and why a "national real estate forecast" doesn't inform us of anything. The New Jersey Association of Realtors had to create this campaign to help Realtors educate their client base. They poured a lot of money into this project just to keep the NJ public properly informed.

I receive this type of information all the time and if anyone is interested, I'll work on a way to get it out to all of you on a regular basis.

Posted on: 2008/9/8 22:23
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Now is a good time to buy in Hudson County, analysts say
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Now is a good time to buy in Hudson County, analysts say

by Amy Sara Clark
The Jersey Journal
Monday September 08, 2008

Resized Image
Thinking of making the home-ownership plunge? Now may be the time.

For those dreaming of moving from renting to owning, now is the time to act, but you'd better act fast, a New York Times article says.

The next few months will be particularly propitious for those looking for an "entry level" home, and the pickings are greatest in Hudson and Essex county, analysts said in the article -- which mentioned several properties in Hoboken, Union City and Bayonne by name.

Why now?

The subprime crisis has made lenders wary, making it harder for people with lower incomes to qualify for mortgages, analysts say.

That has caused an unusually large stock of unsold apartments in the under $400,000 range.

So, if you have good credit, right now you'll have your choice of places. But only for a few months, analysts say. By spring the market should correct itself leading to a lowering of the bar to qualify for a mortgage. So by next summer, those apartments will be snapped up.

===============================

First-Timers? Charm

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BUYING MADE EASIER With no house to sell before they could buy, Constantine Rose and Maria Gizas snapped up a one-bedroom in a converted school building in Hoboken. Unlike some other first-time buyers, they were able to secure a mortgage.

The New York Times
By ANTOINETTE MARTIN
Published: September 5, 2008

EARLIER this summer, Constantine M. Rose and Maria Gizas accomplished the American dream at age 25: Having saved enough money for a down payment by living with their respective families for two years, they bought their first home, a one-bedroom condominium in a lavishly marbled converted school building in Hoboken for $360,000.

?As first-time home buyers, I think we lucked out in terms of what?s going on with the housing market,? said Mr. Rose, an accountant, who proposed to Ms. Gizas, an advertising copy writer, days after signing the purchase agreement.

?We didn?t have to take a hit on an existing property we had to sell,? he said, ?and we benefited from lowered prices.?

Indeed, the latest figures on the market for houses priced at ?entry level? ? in New Jersey, that would be $400,000 or less ? do peg this as a propitious moment for buyers, if they can just qualify for a mortgage.

The moment, however, is likely to last only about another six months, said Jeffrey Otteau, a market analyst whose Otteau Appraisal Group monitors statewide sales data and provides monthly reports to the real estate industry.

He predicted that by next spring the subprime lending crisis, which primarily affects the lower-priced end of the market, will come to an end with the automatic resetting of interest rates on the final round of subprime loans made two years before. Wary lenders will then begin to loosen purse strings again to higher-leverage buyers.

?The first-time buyers? market will be the first sector to show dramatic improvement, and the first where prices will begin to rise,? Mr. Otteau said, ?probably in 2009.?

During any slump, he explained, the first-time buyers? market remains much stronger than the overall market, with prices proportionately higher and a livelier sales pace.

This is because the supply of homes under $400,000 is relatively small in New Jersey, while demand from first-time buyers remains unwaveringly high ?no matter what the economy is doing,? he said.

What warped the pattern over the past couple of years, Mr. Otteau added, was the tightening credit for lower-income buyers. He pointed to current sales data showing that the overall inventory of unsold homes statewide represents a 10.9-month supply, while the inventory of unsold homes priced below $400,000 amounts to a 10.2-month supply, which he termed only a ?slight? difference.

In both Essex and Hudson Counties, the unsold inventory of the lowest-price homes was actually greater than the rest of the inventory.

?That is direct evidence of how the credit crunch is disproportionately affecting the first-time market,? he said. ?Essex and Hudson Counties contain cities that are more urbanized, with higher concentrations of potential first-time buyers of lower-priced homes ? and what they need first and foremost is financing, which has been increasingly hard to come by.?

But for those who, like Mr. Rose and Ms. Gizas, are able to qualify for a mortgage, the situation is excellent. Prices and interest rates are still low, and supply is unusually abundant in the price range for a first-time buyer.

David Schoner, a vice president of Coldwell Banker?s new homes division, said his company was marketing more than 25 developments around the state with units priced below $400,000. ?The quandary for the first-time home buyer,? he said, ?is do they desire an urban setting, more convenient to the workplace, or possibly a bigger home in a more rural area??

Quickly running down a list of new construction projects, Mr. Schoner mentioned the Ardan House in Union City, a 12-unit structure ?with all the trimmings? and a five-minute commute to Manhattan. It will be opening its two-bedroom apartments priced at $350,000 in September. ?There are already 100 people on the waiting list,? he said.

In Bayonne, at the Carlton Tower, a rental building being converted to condos, one- and two-bedroom units are available for $150,000 to $250,000, he said. In Newark, on Ferry Street in the Ironbound section, 68 two- and three-bedroom apartments start in the low $300,000s.

Recently, Vikram Arjuva, a 28-year-old computer software programmer who is married and has a year-old child, bought a four-bedroom two-and-a-half-bath town home in Burlington County, at American Property Realty?s Heritage at Chesterfield, for $370,000. The house has 2,400 square feet of living space, a one-car garage, a two-story foyer and granite countertops.

?I did not go to look for a house when the market was booming,? Mr. Arjuva said. ?We were renting in South Brunswick, but then I saw it come ? a good buyer?s market.?

Like Mr. Rose in Hoboken, Mr. Arjuva does not think he will remain in his starter home forever (Mr. Rose?s time limit was ?five years, maximum?), but he does think he will be there long enough for its value to increase.

?The market will come back because that is what it always does,? Mr. Arjuva said. ?For now, we are living in our own home, new construction, a peaceful neighborhood and plenty of space.?

Posted on: 2008/9/8 22:11
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