Everything wrong with NJ, summed up.

From Jersey Digs:

Orange City Council Ignores all Budget Cut Suggestions, Voting to Raise Property Taxes

The Citizens Budget Advisory Committee (CBAC), a nine-member board comprised of local business professionals, opposed the 6.35 percent increase in the municipal budget, proposing 11 recommendations in hopes of staving off a tax hike, but to no avail. Suggestions included repairing broken parking meters, putting a freeze on new hires, capping overtime pay, and limiting perks such as the police department’s dry-cleaning expenses that totaled $40,000 last year.

“I think if we are going to have a CBAC and we, as a council, are not going to look at anything that they say,” said Adrienne Wooten, Councilwoman-at-Large, “I think we owe them a line by line excuse why we’re not doing it.”

Wooten, who joined councilmembers Jamie Summers-Johnson and Weldon M. Montague in voting no, had previously served on the CBAC and remembered the committee’s proposal “fell on deaf ears” that year also.

However, Nile Clements, Chief Finance Officer, defended the new budget citing two critical expenses — a snow removal expense for $190,000 and settling a costly issue with pensions — as well as the purchase of three new fire trucks.

Meanwhile, there is a growing number of homeowners in Orange who believe the rate they are paying in property taxes — which, at 5.6 percent, is the second-highest in Essex County — doesn’t square with the services they are receiving from the city.

“I could pay the same amount of money or less to live in South Orange, and the schools would be better, the neighborhood would be better,” said Zonasha Ward, a CBAC member. “We have to take our children to South Orange, West Orange, or Maplewood to play or be in an activity.”

Near the top of most residents’ complaint lists is the ongoing fiasco at the public library that was detailed in a Jersey Digs report. In that story, an anonymous source alleges thousands of dollars in unpaid bills at the library. Since publication, all three of the librarians were terminated, leaving the city no choice but to shutter its doors.

Posted in New Jersey Real Estate, Politics, Property Taxes | 447 Comments

Hey Clot!

Fron the NY Post:

‘Jersey Shore’ star Nicole ‘Snooki’ Polizzi sells $740K N.J. beach house

Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi doubled her investment on a New Jersey beach house, property records show.

The former “Jersey Shore” star and her husband, Jionni LaValle, purchased the five-bedroom, two-and-a-half-bathroom home in Brick for $370,000 in November 2015 and sold it for exactly twice that much on Jan. 21, property records show.

Then they put “sweat equity” into the 4,792-square-foot home, a process they documented in a 2016 nine-episode series “Nicole & Jionni’s Shore Flip.”

“This house was perfect [for a quick flip],” Polizzi told The Post when the show premiered.

Posted in General | 297 Comments

The school vax window is closing

From the Daily Record:

NJ officials to parents: Get your teens a first COVID shot this week in time for school

With most schools about four weeks away from opening, New Jersey officials are urging parents to get their adolescents a first COVID shot this week in order to be close to fully vaccinated by opening day. 

The state Department of Health plans to have back-to-school vaccination clinics in districts across the state to raise the vaccination rate for 12- to 17-year-olds, which sits below 40%. There are nine clinics this week in Bergen County alone.

“For the folks who are eligible in both of those groups, 12 to 15 and 16 to 17, we need more of you to step up,” Gov. Phil Murphy said Monday.

The push comes as the delta variant continues to spread across New Jersey causing a rise in cases and hospitalizations, including among those younger than 18. Last week, Murphy reversed his stance and is now requiring students, teachers and visitors in all K-12 schools to wear masks when the new academic year begins with an anticipated in-person, full-time schedule.

Posted in General | 245 Comments

More bureaucracy? Why not!

From NJ Spotlight:

Ongoing warehouse boom prompts renewed calls for broader regulation

After new data showed New Jersey’s warehouse boom continues unabated, advocates renewed calls for state or regional control over where they can be built and for limits on local authority of the process.

Opponents of the current surge in warehouse construction say it can only be controlled by handing more authority to county, regional or statewide bodies. They can set policies that recognize that the impact from such buildings spreads beyond the individual towns that currently decide whether a warehouse can be built and under what, if any, limitations.

Municipalities, many of them cash-strapped, are lured by the prospect of more property-tax revenue that comes with the giant buildings, and those considerations often outweigh community concerns about more truck traffic, declining air quality or consumption of New Jersey’s scarce open space, critics say.

Without broader oversight, the critics predict local roads will be choked with truck traffic, farms and forests will be developed and the state’s remaining rural corners will be industrialized.

But shifting power to state or regional authorities is a heavy lift, said Jim Gilbert, a former chairman of the State Planning Commission, because that body does not have control over warehouse siting and because any attempt to weaken municipal power will meet strong resistance from defenders of New Jersey’s home-rule tradition.

“As soon as you start talking about comprehensive regional planning, the towns go crazy because they don’t understand that it’s really fundamentally in their interests,” said Gilbert, who advocates for broader authority over warehousing. “Home rule is a religion in New Jersey.”

Posted in New Development, New Jersey Real Estate | 216 Comments

All eyes on jobs

From CNBC:

Friday’s jobs report is a wild card, with economists’ estimates all over the map

The economy is expected to have added about 845,000 payrolls in July, according to Dow Jones consensus estimate, as America’s workforce gradually rebuilds from its sharp pandemic-induced job losses.

But the uncertainty of Covid — spreading again at a rapid pace — has become a wild card for the labor market, just as it has for the broader economy. The rate of new infections in the U.S. is edging toward 100,000 per day, faster than last summer when there were no widely available vaccines.

Wall Street forecasts are wide-ranging for the July employment report, which is slated for release Friday at 8:30 a.m. ET. Wilmington Trust economists, for instance, expect just 350,000 payrolls, while Jefferies economists predict 1.2 million jobs were added.

“The range is 1.2 million to 350,000. That just tells you there’s very little confidence in those numbers,” Wells Fargo director of rates strategy Michael Schumacher said.

Posted in General | 202 Comments

Home prices to moderate? Or not?

From HousingWire:

Home prices are still rising, but relief for buyers is coming

Home prices continue to increase as national inventory levels remain low heading into August. But relief for buyers could be coming in the next 12 months.

Home prices increased 2.3% from May to June, and 17.2% year-over-year, according to the latest CoreLogic report on home prices. However, CoreLogic officials said price gains could slow to as low as a 3.2%-gain by this time next year, as ongoing affordability challenges deter potential buyers — as well as an uptick in new for sale listings.

“Home prices have been rising in the mid single-digits for some years now, and the recent surge to double digit price jumps reflect the convergence of exceptional demand persistent low supply,” said Frank Marshall, CoreLogic CEO and president. “Affordability will become a more acute issue for the foreseeable future.”

The 17.2% growth is the largest annual growth reported since 1979, as supply and demand pressures endure and construction costs continue to rise, said Frank Nothaft, CoreLogic’s chief economist. Low- and middle-income Americans, he said, are being impacted the most.

At the residential level, the COVID-19 pandemic sparked an increase in buyer desire for lower density neighborhoods and more living space, Nothaft said. This, he said, led to detached homes having the highest annual growth (+19.1%) in June since 1976. 

“Communities with single-family detached houses fill the need [for more space],” Nothaft said.

May home prices also jumped 16.6% annually in the latest S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller National Home Price Index report. Home prices in May stood at all-time highs in 18 of the 20 S&P cities surveyed, and five cities – Charlotte, Cleveland, Dallas, Denver, and Seattle – recorded their all-time highest 12-month gains. 

Phoenix’s 25.9% increase led all cities for the 24th consecutive month in accelerating home prices, with San Diego (+24.7%) and Seattle (+23.4%) close behind. Prices were strongest in the West (+19.9%) and Southwest (+19.8%), but every region logged double-digit gains from April to May.

Posted in General | 190 Comments

Philly on fire

From Philly Magazine:

Philly Houses Are Selling Faster — and for More Money — Than Ever. How Long Can That Last?

Right now, the competition for properties is so fierce that decent houses get a flood of offers and sell quickly, and even the turkeys find buyers at asking price.

According to Kevin C. Gillen, senior research fellow at Drexel University’s Lindy Institute for Urban Innovation, this market is like none he’s seen in his years of analyzing Philadelphia residential real estate sales. Since last summer, he says, the market has outstripped even the 2008 market, the peak year of the real-estate bubble: “It’s the hottest market I’ve ever seen in terms of turnover rate, the amount of sales, the million-dollar sales, the price appreciation, the rapid turnover of homes once they’re listed. On any metric you want to bring to bear, the market is between red-hot and white-hot.”

Some of this, Gillen says, is due to cyclical factors that routinely affect the housing market. One of those is interest rates that stand at all-time lows: “When interest rates are low, houses become more affordable, and that tends to push prices up.” Combine that with extremely low inventories of houses for sale, and the prices rise even further. “But the other big factor is that after the pandemic, there’s been a structural shift in the economy, from spending outside of the house to spending in the house.”

That’s due to two main factors, he says. “First of all, you have more people working remotely from home than ever before, so your house isn’t just where you live; it’s now your office. Since you spend more time there, you’re incentivized to make the house more pleasant for you.

“On top of that, because of COVID, you couldn’t go out, so all the money that would be spent on dining out or going to the theater and museums or traveling on vacation, people are spending in their home. So your home isn’t just where you live and work; it’s where you play — it’s your gym, it’s your spa, it’s your theater, it’s your restaurant. Your yard is your park.” And people have been willing to spend on home amenities as well as on homes that have them. Gillen says that since the pandemic began, outdoor items such as swimming pools and tennis courts, which usually add no value to a property at best, have skyrocketed in worth. Broker Mike McCann of Keller Williams Philly says that in the suburbs, “People are telling me it takes a year or more to get a pool installed. Even getting servicing for a pool is taking forever.”

Posted in General | 171 Comments

Pending home sales dip in June

From CNBC:

Pending home sales drop in June — more evidence of a housing turnaround

Pending sales of existing homes in June as measured by signed contracts fell 1.9% from May, according to the National Association of Realtors.

Sales were also down 1.9% compared with June 2020. Pending sales are a forward-looking indicator of closed sales in one to two months.

“Pending sales have seesawed since January, indicating a turning point for the market,” said Lawrence Yun, Realtors’ chief economist. “Buyers are still interested and want to own a home, but record-high home prices are causing some to retreat.”

Prices in May were up nearly 17% compared with May 2020, according to the latest reading from the S&P Case-Shiller national home price index. That is the largest annual gain on record. Prices in June could very well top that, given the still tight supply of homes for sale, especially on the low end of the market.

Posted in General | 124 Comments

Slow slog upwards

Updated Vaccination by Age Range for NJ:
7/17 vs 7/29

At Least 1 Dose
Total Pop: 9.2m
Total 1st Doses: 5.7m – 62% of total pop (Up from 61%) – Bloomberg reporting 65.6%

12-15 – 450k population – 171k dosed – 38% 1 Dose (Up from 37%)
16-17 – 240k population – 114k dosed – 48% 1 Dose (Up from 47%)
18-29 – 1.5m population – 855k dosed – 57% 1 Dose (Up from 52%)
30-49 – 2.4m population – 1.65m dosed – 69% 1 Dose (Up from 68%)
50-64 – 2m population – 1.54m dosed – 77% 1 Dose (Up from 76%)
65-79 – 1.1m population – 1.03m dosed – 93% 1 Dose (Down from 96%)
80+ – 415k population – 342k dosed – 82% 1 Dose (Up from 81%)

Posted in General | 96 Comments

What, no pool?

Not much summer left to get your C19 pool installed:

These Are the Most Luxurious Pools Now For Sale in New Jersey

Something a bit lighter I guess. Anyway, this is my favorite, but I’m not sure what the hole on the right is. The round columns and balusters were clearly the wrong design choice given the angular nature of the rest of the design.

Posted in General | 168 Comments

56,000 Pending Eviction Cases

From the Star Ledger:

As eviction moratorium nears end, N.J. to begin settlement conferences for renters, landlords

The first mandatory settlement conferences in more than 56,000 pending landlord-tenant cases will begin next week, nearly a year-and-a-half since a statewide eviction moratoriumbegan amid the coronavirus pandemic.

If the landlord does not appear at the settlement conference, the case will be dismissed. If the tenant does not appear and the landlord establishes entitlement to relief, the court will enter a default judgment.

If no settlement is reached after both parties attend the settlement conference, a trial will be set for a date after Aug. 31. Even as cases begin to be heard, residential evictions will still not occur until the eviction moratorium ends — which could be Dec. 31.

But that date still hangs in the balance, pending a bill that was passed by the state Legislature and has yet to be signed by Gov. Phil Murphy. The bill (S3691) would move up the end date of the moratorium to Aug. 31 for renters if their annual household income is above 80% of their county’s median income. Those who make less than that would remain under the moratorium until Dec. 31.

“The result could be that someone settles a case today and agrees to vacate, and then all of the sudden the legislation is passed and they have all these protections and they arguably couldn’t be put out,” said Lawrence Sindoni, an attorney with Northeast New Jersey Legal Services, of the legislation that hasn’t been signed yet. “So that’s certainly going to raise issues.”

The bill would also give millions in rental assistance. Renters who file for the financial help would have their eviction cases dismissed for nonpayment of rent or failure to pay rent increases between March 2020 and Aug. 31, 2021.

Posted in Economics, New Jersey Real Estate | 155 Comments

It’s just not possible here

From Bloomberg:

Zero-Down Mortgages Stoke U.S. Subprime-Like Fears in Canada

They’re the kind of exotic mortgages that one typically associates with the reckless, go-go housing market that gripped the U.S., circa 2005: Put down 5% cash and get 3% back; or, wilder yet, put down nothing at all. So when these products — and others like them — started popping up in the normally cautious Canadian financial industry, it raised alarm among policy makers in Ottawa.

This is year twenty-five of the great Canadian housing bull market, a nearly uninterrupted straight line up that has few parallels in the world. At a time of soaring real-estate prices all over the globe, only one major economy — New Zealand — has a frothier housing market than Canada, according to an analysis by Bloomberg Economics. And after all those years of price gains, including a 21% surge since the pandemic began, millions of middle-class Canadians have no chance of scrounging together the money needed to make a conventional down payment of 20%.

In Whitby, a booming Toronto suburb nestled against the banks of Lake Ontario, this is a lament that mortgage broker Sherry Corbitt hears constantly from first-time home buyers. More than half of them, she says, are opting for loans that either allow them to borrow the money for their down payment or that provide cash back after the closing. A year ago, these products made up a small fraction of her business.

Asked whether this worries her at all, Corbitt, who works with some of Canada’s biggest banks, whips out a statistic she’s proud of: In her 13 years in the industry, not a single client has defaulted. “We’re never going to see what happened in the States,” she declares. “It’s just not possible here.”

Posted in Housing Bubble, Risky Lending | 377 Comments

Mid July Vax Stats

Updated Vaccination by Age Range for NJ:
6/30 vs 7/17

At Least 1 Dose
Total Pop: 9.2m
Total 1st Doses: 5.6m – 61% of total pop (Up from 59%) – Bloomberg reporting 64.5%

12-15 – 450k population – 168k dosed – 37% 1 Dose (Up from 36%)
16-17 – 240k population – 112k dosed – 47% 1 Dose (Up from 45%)
18-29 – 1.5m population – 784k dosed – 52% 1 Dose (Up from 50%)
30-49 – 2.4m population – 1.62m dosed – 68% 1 Dose (Up from 65%)
50-64 – 2m population – 1.51m dosed – 76% 1 Dose (Up from 73%)
65-79 – 1.1m population – 1.06m dosed – 96% 1 Dose (Up from 93%)
80+ – 415k population – 336k dosed – 81% 1 Dose (Up from 78%)

Posted in General | 354 Comments

“I think we’ve just got so many unknowns right now”

From the Asbury Park Press:

There’s more to NJ’s labor shortage than unemployment benefits. Here’s why

It’s been more than a year since Ken Gaughran lost his job in radio promotions due to the pandemic, and he is slowly losing hope of getting back into that field.

So in recent months, the 27-year-old Toms River resident has searched for employers that offer a decent wage and benefits, all while wondering how long he can wait before he needs to search for a restaurant or retail job.

“We all had our careers, now what are we going to do?” Gaughran said. “They’re gone. That’s been the toughest part.”

If Gaughran sounds confused, he’s not alone. New Jersey’s labor market continued to emerge from its pandemic freeze in June, gaining thousands of jobs and convincing more unemployed workers to get off the sidelines.

But the state’s job growth doesn’t appear to be fast enough to bring relief to employers who have struggled to find enough staff to operate.

And a state report provided little clarity about what the post-pandemic economy will look like. Will workers surge back into the labor force in September when schools reopen and enhanced federal unemployment benefits expire? Or are they in the same boat as Guaghran, wondering if their careers are gone?

Posted in General | 53 Comments

Getting deductions back! Maybe?

Hat tip to Joyce for this gem, from the Star Ledger:

Property tax breaks would be restored under Senate budget bill, Menendez says

A $3.5 trillion spending bill for health care, child care, education and climate change also will address the $10,000 cap on deducting state and local income and property taxes, a key senator said Wednesday.

U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez, a member of the tax-writing Senate Finance Committee that will help draft the spending bill, said the measure will deal with the deduction, known as SALT.

“My understanding is there is a SALT provision in there that would provide relief,” Menendez told NJ Advance Media.

It’s unlikely that the deduction would be fully restored immediately because that would cost $673 billion over ten years, according to the Tax Foundation, a conservative research group.

But raising the deduction cap by thousands of dollars would benefit middle class homeowners who were hit hard by the provision, including those in New Jersey, which has the nation’s highest property taxes. 

Menendez said the details have yet to be worked out.

Posted in General | 266 Comments