NJ adds jobs at a lackluster pace

From the Record:

New Jersey’s unemployment rate holds at 5.3 percent

The New Jersey economy generated 2,700 total jobs in September, according to preliminary estimates from the U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, continuing to produce jobs at a moderate, unspectacular pace. The jobless rate, which had risen the previous six months, was unchanged at 5.3 percent.

The state added 3,300 private-sector jobs last month, while the public sector retrenched, losing 600 jobs.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics also said employment growth in August for private-sector jobs was revised up by 1,500 to show an over-the-month employment gain of 3,700 jobs.

While the jobs gain was positive, one former state economist said the overall numbers presented “a dull report.”

“I would say this is pretty much a status quo report,” said Charles Steindel, who served as state economist under Governor Christie and now is now resident scholar at the Anisfield School of Business at Ramapo College of New Jersey.

“It’s really humdrum,” Steindel added. “The unemployment rate is about where it’s been basically…a little elevated, but nothing spectacular.”

He said the additional jobs eliminate losses sustained in the July report, bringing the state employment picture back to where it was in June.

James Wooster, chief economist for the state Department of Treasury, saw a more positive trend in the most recent report.

“In the 12-month period ending September, the Garden State’s private-sector employers added 54,200 jobs, Wooster said. “We’re encouraged by the positive employment trends and confident that as employment opportunities continue to grow, so, too, will people’s wages.”

But James Hughes, a professor and dean of the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy, noted that in the first nine months of the year, New Jersey has posted private-sector job gains totaling 12,500. If that rate holds steady, the state will end the year with the lowest pace of private-sector job growth since 2010.

“We still haven’t gotten real traction,” Hughes said.

Posted in Economics, New Jersey Real Estate | 15 Comments

Is the housing business ready for millennials?

From HousingWire:

When it comes to Millennial homebuyers, time really is money

To some degree, the Millennial homebuyer market (especially the first-time homebuyer) must seem like the Holy Grail or a unicorn herd to mortgage lenders. It’s a large segment — about one quarter of the American population at about 80 million people. Some estimate that at about $200 billion in purchase power. Plus, it’s only now growing into its purchase potential. It’s reaching an average age when Americans traditionally begin purchasing homes. And yet, by all accounts, they’re not. Not yet.

The peripheral numbers add up for potential. The Deloitte Millennial Survey, 2016, asserts that Millennials want to, at some point, be homeowners.

However, a recent Forbes survey of influential Millennial-aged professionals suggests that Millennials are in no rush to purchase a home, even if it is a long-term goal. Only 19% told Forbes that their highest financial priority involved purchasing a home. Conversely, 44% stated that “funding an entrepreneurial venture” was, instead, their highest financial aspiration.

Similarly, the same survey suggested that, while 80% of respondents still “believe in the American Dream,” only 5% reported that they felt that dream was “owning your own home.” In contrast, 33% felt that “owning your own company” is, in fact, the American dream.

There are numbers to be found for and against the argument that Millennials will be settling into the role of traditional homebuyers any time now. However, what we do know for sure about this generation is that it isn’t like any previous consumer generation we’ve seen. As a result, it’s time to ask what — if anything — will provide the “typical” Millennial incentive to accelerate her home purchase plans.

So what do we know about the Millennial (or, at least, what seems reasonably established if we are to paint 80 million people with broad strokes)? A 2015 survey by Elite Daily set forth findings that seem to confirm some of the assumptions we’ve seen made about Millennials. Dan Schwebel, a contributor to Forbes, summarized some of these findings:

Millennials would rather buy a car and lease a house.
Millennials were hit hard by student debt, compounded by the consequences of the “Great Recession.” As a result, they tend to be debt-averse.
They are virtually oblivious to traditional advertising, preferring authenticity and referral to sales pitches and puffery.
They do not base purchases upon their potential, but rather need and value.
They expect brands to give back to society, but are loyal to brands that do.
They are early adopters when it comes to technology.
So what does this mean for those seeking to sell mortgage loans to Millennials?

Posted in Demographics, National Real Estate | 64 Comments

First signs of foreclosure timeline speeding up

From RealtyTrac:

September Foreclosure Activity Decreases 24 Percent From a Year Ago to Lowest Level Since December 2005

Average time to foreclose decreases annually for first time in report history

Properties foreclosed in Q3 2016 took an average of 625 days to complete foreclosure, down from 631 days in the previous quarter and down from 630 days a year ago — the first year-over-year decrease since ATTOM began tracking average foreclosure timelines in Q1 2007.

The average time to foreclose decreased from a year ago in 19 states, including Nevada (down 22 percent), Massachusetts (down 22 percent), Michigan (down 21 percent), Oregon (down 20 percent), and Texas (down 20 percent).

States with the shortest foreclosure timelines for properties foreclosed in the third quarter were Virginia (196 days), New Hampshire (230 days), Texas (246 days), Minnesota (250 days), and Mississippi (253 days). All five states with the shortest foreclosure timelines employ the non-judicial foreclosure process.

New Jersey, Hawaii, New York, Florida, Illinois with longest foreclosure timelines

Counter to the national trend, the average time to foreclose in Q3 2016 increased from a year ago in 27 states, including Pennsylvania (up 28 percent), Wisconsin (up 25 percent), Maryland (up 22 percent), Arizona (up 21 percent), and Colorado (up 20 percent).

States with the longest average foreclosure timelines for properties foreclosed in the third quarter were New Jersey (1,262 days); Hawaii (1,241 days); New York (1,070 days); Florida (1,038 days); and Illinois (942 days). All five states with the longest foreclosure timelines primarily employ the judicial foreclosure process.

Posted in Foreclosures, National Real Estate | 144 Comments

Approaching Buildout?

From the Record:

Single-family homes stay in the game, but North Jersey land scarce to build them

Buyers looking for new, single-family homes in New Jersey once had plenty to choose from. As the state’s suburbs boomed in the second half of the 20th century, developers blanketed farm fields with new houses aimed at middle-income buyers.

But those days are no more. Now, close to two-thirds of the home construction in the state is multifamily, led by rentals along the Hudson River. Single-family construction is piecemeal and pricey — a new home here or there, on pockets of land that open up, often when an older house is knocked down.

A new development on Roosevelt Boulevard in Paramus, not far from Route 17, is an example.

Six colonials with a shingle-style feel are being built on 2 1/2 acres that belonged to a longtime Paramus family, the Schreibers. Landscape architect William Comery approached the family about the property before the death of matriarch Alice Schreiber, and he is now working with two partners on the homes, which have asking prices of more than $1 million each.

Through August of this year, builders have started about 6,500 single-family homes in the state, about 36 percent of the total number of housing units started.

The main reason for this shift away from single-family: There’s just not enough space, especially in North Jersey. The state is already largely developed, and regulations bar further development in environmentally sensitive areas, such as the Highlands. As a result, land in the state has just become too scarce and too expensive to support a mass of single-family homes — particularly homes affordable to middle-income families.

“There’s very, very little developable land left for any significant size of single-family subdivision,” said George Vallone, president of the Hoboken Brownstone Co. in Jersey City and a past president of the New Jersey Builders Association. “This is the most built-out state in the country.”

There are a couple of larger-scale single-family developments on the horizon. Toll Brothers plans to build 78 luxury single-family homes on the site of the old Apple Ridge country club in Mahwah and Upper Saddle River. Toll also is planning to build 60 single-family homes, along with 160 town houses, on the site of the former High Mountain golf course in Franklin Lakes. Prices haven’t been set yet, but these homes will likely go for more than $1 million, said Craig Cherry, Toll’s division vice president for the New Jersey suburbs. He said Bergen County’s strong schools and location near New York City’s strong job market help support that price.

“We have found the market is very strong in this price point,” Cherry said.

Because the land is so scarce, it is expensive, which in turn drives up the price of the homes. New single-family homes in Bergen County — often on a lot where the developer has torn down an older home — tend to be pricey, and builders say the market of potential buyers thins out as the price tag heads toward (or above) $1 million.

“The problem is, if you’re paying $300,000 or $400,000 for the property and knocking it down, you can’t put up something and charge a couple of hundred thousand,” said Lou Chiellini, a Park Ridge builder who is active in Park Ridge and nearby towns. “I’m looking at a few new lots for $300,000 or $350,000. That means I can keep the house in the $850,000-$900,000 range.” Chiellini likes to keep the price under $1 million, because at $1 million, a state “mansion tax” of 1 percent kicks in, adding at least $10,000 to the buyer’s cost.

Chiellini said that as the housing market has improved, he’s notched up his production from two or three houses a year to four or five. The buyers are typically two-career couples with a child or two, moving from Manhattan, Brooklyn or Hoboken to the suburbs for the highly rated schools and more space for their children.

Posted in New Development, New Jersey Real Estate | 74 Comments

Can Uber save NJ towns money?

From CleanTechnica:

Town Of Summit (NJ) Using Uber To Relieve Congestion At Train Station Parking Lot

While Uber is currently used mainly as a taxi substitute/alternative, services like Uber (or Lyft) could be used in a number of other fashions as well.

One example is the way that the town of Summit, New Jersey, is now using the service as part of a new pilot program that aims to potentially reduce congestion at the parking lots used by the town’s train station.

The train station in question is a common point of departure for those who work in or near New York City, so it is heavily used by commuters. Naturally, this leads to traffic.

Green Car Reports provides more: “The program is the first of its kind in New Jersey, and will allow the town to avoid spending money on a new parking lot, according to The Verge. … Initially, 100 commuters who have purchased parking passes will be eligible for free Uber rides to and from the station. Others will be able to ride for $2.00 each way, meaning a round trip will cost the same as a daily parking pass at the station. During the experiment, these rides will be subsidized by the local government.”

From the Philly Voice:

Subsidized Uber? New Jersey town taking leap to limit parking woes

The city of Summit, located in Union County, announced earlier this month that the partnership with Uber will extend to residents whose trips begin or end in Summit, or at the train station, between the hours of 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday to Friday. Rides will cost $2 each way to replace the daily $4 parking fee in a long-term commuter lot.

“As an alternative transportation option, ridesharing is not new,” Summit Mayor Nora Radest said. “But our program is the first of its kind in the United States to use ridesharing technology as a parking solution. Our innovation has the potential to shape how municipalities think about and implement parking options in the future.”

City records indicate that 39 percent of morning commuter trips in Summit end at the train station, while 29 percent of evening trips from the station end within Summit. Rather than spend taxpayer dollars on a new public parking lot, the city will effectively save 100 spaces by launching the Uber program.

Local officials estimate the city, whose population stands at about 22,000, will save residents $5 million in taxes over the next 20 years by forgoing a new parking lot.

Posted in Economics, New Jersey Real Estate | 39 Comments

Welcome the immigrants, expel the millennials

From HousingWire:

Immigrants becoming most important group for housing?

The homeownership gap between immigrants and the native-born is closing as more foreign-born U.S. residents move towards buying homes, according to a new report from Trulia.

Trulia used the U.S. Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey and American Community Survey data for this study. For calculations involving the American Community Survey data, the company used five-year 2014 data.

Not only are immigrants closing the gap, but states where immigrants resided in the U.S. for longer periods of time also have higher rates of immigrant homeownership, according to the report.

While those born outside the U.S. still lag behind those born in the U.S., the homeownership gap has been shrinking since 2000. The gap now rests at 15.4 percentage points, down from 20.7 percentage points in 2001.

The homeownership rate for those born in the U.S. remained roughly unchanged from 1994 to 2015, however the rate for immigrants increased 2.3 percentage points.

Posted in Demographics, Economics, National Real Estate | 127 Comments

If Brooklyn is “cool”, they can keep it.

From the Jersey Journal:

Jersey City ‘not cool,’ has ‘no vibe,’ N.Y.C. exec says

An executive with co-working firm WeWork, which is slated to open a location in Journal Square, doesn’t appear to think much of Jersey City.

Sean Black, a WeWork executive vice president, told the crowd at a real-estate panel in Manhattan that he is looking to open a WeWork location in Brooklyn because it’s “cool” — unlike Jersey City, according to a report in Real Estate Weekly.

“Brooklyn has really emerged as this epicenter of where people want to be,” Black said, the website says. “If you look at Jersey City, it’s so far ahead relative to a lot of different product it has, but it doesn’t have life, it doesn’t have vibrancy, it’s not cool, it’s got no vibe.”

The comments are being panned by Rich Boggiano, who represents Journal Square on the City Council.

“Jersey City has more life and vitality than any other city in the United States of America,” Boggiano said. “Stay in New York where you belong then.”

A WeWork spokesman said Black’s comments “do not reflect the view of our company.

“Jersey City has a vibrant and innovative community that we would love to be a part of,” the spokesman said. “We’re looking at opportunities there and we hope to have more to announce in the near future.”

Posted in Humor | 89 Comments

What Foreclosures?

From HousingWire:

Foreclosure inventory drops to less than 1% nationally

Foreclosure inventory in August declined significantly from last year, hitting its lowest point since the housing boom, according to the August 2016 National Foreclosure Report from CoreLogic, a property information, analytics and data-enabled solutions provider.

Foreclosure inventory decreased 29.6% while completed foreclosures decreased 42.4% to 37,000, down from last year’s 64,000, according to the report. This is down slightly from last month’s 38,000 completed foreclosures. The decrease is 69% less than its peak of 118,551 in September 2010.

In August, the national foreclosure inventory hit 351,000, or 0.9% of all homes with a mortgage. This is down from 499,000, or 1.3%, in August 2015. This inventory is the lowest it’s been since July 2007.

“Foreclosure inventory fell by 30% from the previous year, the largest year-over-year decline since January 2015,” CoreLogic Chief Economist Frank Nothaft said.

“The large decline in the distressed inventory has been one of the drivers of steady home price growth which helps Americans increase their home equity to support increased spending or cushion future economic risk,” Nothaft said.

The number of mortgages in serious delinquency, mortgages that are 90 days or more past due including loans in foreclosure or real estate owned, saw a significant decrease of 20.6% from last year. At 1.1 million mortgages, or 2.8%, mortgages in serious delinquency hit its lowest point since Sept. 2007.

“Foreclosure rates and serious delinquency continued to trend down in August as real estate markets across many parts of the U.S. exhibit strong demand growth and rising prices,” CoreLogic President and CEO Anand Nallathambi said.

Posted in Foreclosures, National Real Estate | 142 Comments

“Inner Cities” Thriving?

From Forbes:

Trump May Think Inner Cities Are A Disaster, But Home Prices Tell Another Story

Donald Trump mentioned “inner cities” 10 times in last night’s second presidential debate, using words like “disaster” and “devastating” to describe them. When neighborhoods decay, home prices decrease. However, a look at home prices in the “inner cities” of most major U.S. metro areas shows that the opposite is happening. Instead of falling, the median price per square foot of homes sold in the inner cities of 31 major metro areas has jumped 52 percent over the last six years, outpacing price growth in the surrounding metro areas by 18 percentage points. The only inner cities where price growth has fallen behind that of the surrounding metro area are Chicago, Houston and Miami. For this analysis, we defined “inner city” as the 5 kilometers around the city center of a given metro area.

Not only have they seen stronger price growth in the past five years, inner-city homes tend to cost 92 percent more per square foot than homes in the surrounding metro area. In Boston, a typical inner-city home costs more than twice as much as a typical home in greater Boston. In only seven of the inner cities we looked at, homes were less expensive than those farther out.

The concept of the inner city has changed radically since the 1970s when central districts were synonymous with crime and poverty. In recent years, cities have undergone an economic and cultural Renaissance, making the urban core a popular and highly demanded place to live and to work. New light-rail infrastructure has been built in many inner-city areas, and nowadays the high-paying jobs are showing up downtown instead of in suburban office parks.

That’s not to say that people aren’t struggling, but Donald’s Trump’s picture of the urban core doesn’t match the real estate market, and he more than anyone should know that when it comes to house prices, it’s all about location.

Posted in Economics, National Real Estate, Politics | 100 Comments

Conforming loan limit holding back prices?

From HousingWire:

Is it now time to finally raise conforming loan limits?

The chances the Federal Housing Finance Agency will raise the maximum conforming loan limits for mortgages to be acquired by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in 2017 is high now after meeting one certain condition.

Despite predictions that the loan limits would rise for 2016, the FHFA announced in November of 2015 that the conforming loan limits would remain unchanged for much of the country.

Now that a year has passed, it’s time again for the FHFA to announce what the limits will be for next year, and according to at least one industry expert, the signs point to yes.

Raising the conforming loans limits for mortgages to be acquired by the GSEs depends on one fact. According to the FHFA, the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008 established the baseline loan limit at $417,000 and mandated that, after a period of price declines, the baseline loan limit cannot rise again until home prices return to pre-decline levels. And now home prices have.

The FHFA defines pre-crisis levels as the level of the expanded-data HPI in the third quarter of 2007, and according to the Mortgage Bankers Association, in the second quarter of 2016, the FHFA’s house price index was almost identical to the level of the index in the third quarter of 2007.

Posted in Mortgages, National Real Estate, Risky Lending | 111 Comments

Tax tax tax tax tax tax tax

From the Star Ledger:

N.J. Legislature passes 23-cent gas tax hike, road funding plan

New Jersey is poised to lose its claim to the second-lowest gas taxes in the nation.

The state Legislature on Friday passed legislation raising the tax on gasoline sold in New Jersey by 23 cents a gallon, the centerpiece of a controversial tax package that also includes $1.4 billion in tax cuts.

As part of the deal, lawmakers voted to give a tax break for people with pension and retirement income, low-income workers and veterans. In addition, they voted to eliminate the estate tax over the next 15 months and roll back the sales tax slightly.

The most recent iteration of the tax bills never got a public hearing. The deal was struck last Friday afternoon by Gov. Chris Christie, a Republican, and Senate President Stephen Sweeney (D-Gloucester) and Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto (D-Hudson).

The 23-cent increase to 37.5 cents a gallon will drive the state’s gas tax from second-lowest to seventh-highest, though still below neighboring Pennsylvania and New York. The tax has not been raised since 1988.

The Senate passed the tax package 24-14, with 19 Democrats and five Republicans in favor, and the Assembly, 44-27, with 37 Democrats and seven Republicans in favor, sending it to Christie’s desk.

It will go into effect Nov. 1 or two weeks after it is signed by the governor, whichever is later.

Lawmakers say the increase will finance an eight-year, $16 billion Transportation Trust Fund, which pays for road, bridge and rail projects across the state.

“Today, that difficult vote will allow us to make a significant investment in a crumbling infrastructure,” said Sen. Paul Sarlo (D-Bergen), a bill sponsor. “Our state is ranked at the bottom when it comes to investment in our roads, our bridges, our utilities. We are at the bottom. For a state that has so much promise, so much wealth to be ranked at the bottom … is not a good position to be.”

The compromise tax package comes after years of growing concern about the future of funding for a declining transportation network and after months of political wrangling.

Posted in Economics, New Jersey Real Estate, Politics | 88 Comments

NY Metro finally catching up?

From the Real Deal:

Home prices in NY area climbed 5.1% year-over-year in August

August prices for single-family homes in the New York metro area rose 5.1 percent compared to the same time last year, according to a new report from CoreLogic.

CoreLogic released its monthly Home Price Index and Home Price Index Forecast for August on Tuesday, covering all single-family home transactions in New York City, Jersey City and White Plains. The analysis also shows prices rose 1.7 percent month-over-month.

The slight rise is in keeping with a national trend, which CoreLogic TRData LogoTINY CEO Anand Nallathambi attributed to investor-fueled demand and lack of adequate supply.

“This continued price appreciation is contributing to a growing affordability crisis in many market around the country,” Nallathambi said.

Nationwide house prices increased by 6.2 percent year-over-year, and 1.1 percent on a month-over-month basis, the data showed.
CoreLogic predicts U.S. home prices will increase by 5.3 percent on a year-over-year basis between August 2016 and August 2017. The month-over-month prices are expected to rise by 0.4 percent.

Posted in North Jersey Real Estate, NYC | 136 Comments

Peak 2017

From HousingWire:

CoreLogic expects home prices to peak in 2017

Home prices increased in August both monthly and annually, according to the Home Price Index and HPI Forecast released by CoreLogic, a global property information analytics and data-enabled solutions provider.

Home prices, including distressed sales, increased 6.2% annually in August and 1.1% from July, according to the CoreLogic HPI.

“Home prices are now just 6% below the nominal peak reached in April 2006,” said CoreLogic Chief Economist Frank Nothaft. “With prices forecasted to increase by 5% over the next year, prices will be back to their peak level in 2017.”

Posted in Housing Bubble | 72 Comments

Affordability Sucks, Inventory Sucks, Housing Sucks

From HousingWire:

Looking to buy a home? Now is not the time

The summer heat also brought with it rising home prices, which reached levels not seen since before the housing crisis. Now, however, as the heat subsides and we move into autumn, high home prices are not leaving.

Actually, data from realtor.com predicts we will have the hottest fall in a decade, and I’m not talking about temperatures. The housing market continues to see a rise in home prices and a drop in inventory.

While this is great news for sellers or homeowners, the news isn’t as welcome to potential homebuyers.

In other words, here’s why you should wait to buy a home.

Inventory also remains down as less than 450,000 new listings came on the market in September, while the median home price rose 9% from last year to $250,000, a new high for the month, according to the data from realtor.com.

In August, Lawrence Yun, the National Association of Realtors Chief Economist, said that without new housing construction, the housing recovery could stall.

Housing inventory declined annually for 15 consecutive months, and properties closed 11 days quicker than August last year, according to the Pending Home sales report by NAR.

These constraints keep home buyers out of the market, despite mortgage rates being at historical lows. Last week, the 30-year fixed rate mortgage decreased again to a 10-week low, according to Freddie Mac’s weekly survey.

This trend looks like it will continue not just in the fall, but even into 2017.

Nationally, home affordability is at its worst level in seven years, with 24% of the U.S. county housing markets less affordable than their historic affordability averages in the third quarter, the most recent ATTOM Data Solutions Home Affordability Index for third quarter 2016 recorded.

However, not all hope is lost. The most recent S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller Indices results showed that household incomes are actually rising faster than home prices, leading some experts to believe the affordability crisis could be almost over.

Posted in Demographics, Economics, Employment, Housing Bubble, National Real Estate | 65 Comments

Want to sell your house? Wrap it in bacon.

From the Star Ledger:

When it’s time to sell your home, words matter

So you’re selling your house. You could keep the listing short and simple: “3BR, 1BA, eat-in kitchen.”

Or you could do what real estate agent Maryanne Elsaesser did when she wrote this listing description for a client’s home:

“With magical, embracing arms, this home can whisk you right back to your childhood. Remember racing down the street with your brand new Schwinn bike to be greeted by the smell of bacon frying for your special BLT lunch….”

There are as many ways to describe a home as there are homes. And many experts agree with Elsaesser that it’s not enough to dryly recite a home’s features; it’s also smart to touch a buyer’s emotions and tell a story about the property. Just as photos are crucial, choosing the right words can make a difference in how fast a home sells, and for what price.

“It’s important to give a little bit of the flavor and character of the home,” said Lisa Sammataro, a Keller Williams agent in Ridgewood (and a former English major). “Sometimes you try to create an image of what it might be like to live there.”

“Words play on the imagination in a way that a photograph cannot,” said Beth Freed of Prominent Properties Sotheby’s International Realty in Ridgewood, who likes to evoke images like the wedding you could someday host in the backyard of the home.

One thing seems clear: there’s no need to be terse. Zillow executives Spencer Rascoff and Stan Humphries analyzed tons of listings on the online real estate site for their 2015 book, “Zillow Talk.” They found that longer descriptions — up to 250 words — tend to boost the sale price.

Rascoff and Humphries also found that sellers do best when they highlight a home’s specific advantages. So if you’ve got granite counters, let the world know. At the same time, bland words like “nice” are deadly, because they suggest you don’t have anything very meaningful to say about the home.

And “cute” or “cozy”? Everyone knows that means “small.” Rascoff and Humphries also say you should avoid “unique” because homebuyers take that to mean it’s a place only a few people will love.

Property poets face some constraints, of course. You can’t write a novel, because the multiple listing services limit how many words agents can use. In the case of the New Jersey Multiple Listing Service, it’s 1,000 characters, or about 250 words, which happens to be the magic number cited by “Zillow Talk.”

Posted in Humor, National Real Estate | 72 Comments