Weekend Open Discussion

Open Discussion for this weekend

Observations about your local areas, comments on news stories or the New Jersey housing bubble, Open House reports, etc. If you have any questions you wanted to ask earlier in the week but never posted them up, let’s have them.

For readers that have never commented, there is a small link on the bottom of each new message that reads “# Comments”. Go ahead and give that a click, you might be missing out on a world of information you didn’t know about. While you are there, introduce yourselves to everyone.

For new readers that have only read the messages displayed on the main page, take a look through the archives, a substantial amount of information has been put online in the past 6 months. The archives can be found at the bottom of the right hand menu and are categorized by month.

Caveat Emptor!

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34 Responses to Weekend Open Discussion

  1. Metroplexual says:


    Did you get the data?

  2. metro:

    this is NJ

    you should say “did you get the thing?”

    “I got it at the Tick Tock Diner on Rte. 3.”

    the Feds might have tapped your Blog

    Don’t you watch the Sopranos?

  3. Metroplexual says:

    I don’t because I am too cheap to get HBO. But you right I do need to keep up my Jersey. I like to “Eat Heavy” too.

    About tapping blogs. NYT magazines ethics column has a cautionary tale for bloggers. A blogger was to interview at a job in a university. She apparently said some bad stuff about one of the hiring professors in her blog, he googled her and found the comments. Interview was called off.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Ya hear that, Grim?

    Kiss that Associate Economist position at the NAR goodbye.

  5. grim says:

    Seeing that I likely have more integrity than the current chief economist, I wouldn’t settle for anything less.

    No, but in all seriousness, my hope is that I’m making more allies than enemies through this blog.

    While we’re on the subject of economics. If I ever find myself with some free time, I’d love to do a PhD in ec.


  6. Anonymous says:

    $570,000 2 family in Cresskill, 2 bedrooms and 1 bath each floor, 2nd floor just renovated – all new and rented for $ 1300., 1st floor rented for $ 1300 and lease to expire on 5/31/06. for sale by owner for one more week otherwise price will go up and get listed with a broker, owner has NJREL

    Listen…If you are a Realtor and can’t sell it on your own, then you are pretty damn stupid. We are not buying your piece of crap. Chances are you will list it higher, then have to come down significantly because with 25 -30% down, the rents won’t service the mortgage debt.

  7. Anonymous says:

    My real estate agent tells me today that the house on the busy street is a risky investment. I think this is great because she is drinking the Kool-Aid, my flavor, my brand.

    I like her being that she is becoming very frank with me lately on potential opportunities. Is she looking out for my best interest? Remember as the tide turns, their (RE agents) future revenue stream depends on my perception of how fairly I was treated. Remember the good ole days? It’s right around the corner.

  8. Michelle says:

    Small observation:

    I was driving down Main Street in Wharton last week. I’ve been driving there every day on my way to the train station for the past few months. Three properties hae been for sale on the same block since at least December, when I started taking that route. Well last week all of a sudden all three of them had signs on top of the For Sale sign: “PRICE REDUCED!” “NEW PRICE!” PRICE REDUCED!” All lined up in a row…..

    We move into our house on Tuesday so I won’t be in this area anymore so I won’t get to see if/when they sell.

    I’ve seen a ton of these signs popping up but this was interesting as it was three on the same day on the same block.

  9. Anonymous says:

    “A blogger was to interview at a job in a university. She apparently said some bad stuff about one of the hiring professors in her blog, he googled her and found the comments. Interview was called off.”

    What an idiot, sounds like he made the right move.

  10. Michelle says:

    Does anyone have any info on the Philadelphia Main Line real estate market? My brother and sister in law are in the market for a house in the $1.3M-$1.8M range as he’s been transferred.

    They’ve looked at some places which are just insanely overpriced for the money in towns like Gladwyne, Bryn Mawr, Etc. But these houses are all going into contract lately! One house they were going to fly in to look at went on the market 2 days ago and went into contract yesterday! They’ve lowballed some offers but no one has even COUNTERED them – they are holding their prices FIRM.

    Anyone know why this area in this price segment would be so robust right now? Also, any recommendations for sites or blogs that might have good info on RE trends in that area?

    Thanks in advance!!!

  11. Bubbled Out says:

    Hello Grim & fellow North NJ bubble watchers…

    There’s this beautiful Mountain Lakes NJ house right on the lake

    GSMLS #2109902 $2,950,000
    mortgage payment: $15,979 p/month
    (6.5% interest only)


    I can rent it for $6,000
    GSMLS #2209496

    Should I rent it for $72,000 p/year?
    Or “own it” for $192,000 p/year in interest and $25,000 in taxes plus maintenance?

    Can anyone help me decide?

    (only kidding, not considering it, just thought it was ridiculous)

  12. Anonymous says:

    Can someone explain the difference between the following, and how they relate to each other at a Real Estate office?

    1) Broker
    2) Realtor ™
    3) Sales Associate

    (Also, is dealing with one over another preferable?)

  13. Anonymous says:

    “They’ve lowballed some offers but no one has even COUNTERED them – they are holding their prices FIRM.”

    It’s called denial, tell your brother to rent a nice place for 6 months if possible.

    When sellers face reality, your brother will save some cash.

  14. Michelle says:

    Thanks, Anon 11:29. I understand your point but the thing that’s weird is that the houses they’ve been looking at don’t stay on the market very long, like under 30 days and some as little as 1 day with multiple offers, so there is still strong demand there. Something is going on.

    It’s a small segment of the market ($1.3M and above) and although I know it’s taken a hit in other markets it seems extraordinarily strong on the Main Line. I need to know why the demand is still so solid there before assuming that it will wane and therefore make renting the best option for them.

    Also, bro-in-law’s company is giving him a “house buying bonus” which he negotiated due to the pricing in the area, so he basically has to buy. I don’t know how long he could rent for before his bosses would get angry about that…it’s worth looking into but still there’s a trend-bucking there that I’m dying to understand.

  15. Anonymous says:

    Amazing nyt story on the 24th:

    Increasingly, the Home Is Paying for Retirement

    Published: February 24, 2006
    Two years ago, George and Mollie Weiner were scraping by on $1,800 a month in Social Security payments and just $100 in monthly payouts from their individual retirement accounts.

    Skip to next paragraph

    The New York Times

    Text: Consumer Finances Survey But last year, the couple, both 80, realized they could generate more income from their two-bedroom condo near Tampa, Fla., which had more than doubled in value since they bought it in 1997. They took out a “reverse mortgage,” a loan that does not require monthly repayments, giving them access to more than $100,000.

    “We are very relaxed now because we have extra spending money,” Mr. Weiner said. “And the house is taking care of it.”

    An increasing number of retirees may be starting to follow the Weiners’ example. New data released yesterday from the Federal Reserve shows that for the elderly, like Americans in general, housing wealth has soared even as other forms of savings have declined.

    The Fed’s latest survey of consumer finance showed that overall wealth increased very little for most American families from 2001 to 2004. For the typical American household, net worth — the sum of all assets less debts — barely increased, to $93,100 from $91,700. Their savings dropped by 23 percent while the value of their homes rose 22 percent.

    For retirees, this shifting financial status is likely to force many of them into a decision no other generation has faced: to use their home as the centerpiece of their retirement plan.

    Americans have not traditionally used their homes to finance retirement, choosing instead to pay down the mortgage and bequeath the house to their children. But the increasing wealth that has concentrated in homes during the boom of the last decade, compared with dwindling pension benefits and lackluster market returns, means that many retirees are finding that their largest source of additional income could come, in fact, from their homes.

    “People are living longer and longer, so over time they’re going to be draining their retirement accounts,” said Gillette Edmunds, an investor and author, with Jim Keene, of “Retire on the House: Using Real Estate to Secure Your Retirement” (John Wiley & Sons: 2005.)

    “The only thing they are not draining yet is their houses,” Mr. Edmunds said, “and that’s what they’re going to have to turn to.”

    The Fed’s 2004 survey, released yesterday, painted a precarious tableau of retirement planning.

    Just under half of all families held retirement accounts in 2004, down from 52.2 percent in 2001, the date of the previous survey. The stock market has rebounded from its low in 2002, but the Fed’s survey illustrates the lingering damage inflicted by the stock market collapse and the 2001 recession on Americans’ net worth. At the same time, it underscores how the surge in housing prices has propped up otherwise shaky balance sheets, even as housing prices in some markets appear to have peaked.

    The typical family’s savings — either in retirement accounts or elsewhere — fell to $23,000, almost $7,000 less than three years earlier. Meanwhile, the median indebtedness of the three out of four families who had some form of debt rose by a third, to $55,300.

    The erosion of savings affected the wealthy and the poor alike. The savings of people at the top 10 percent of the income scale declined by 6 percent, to $365,100; their income, on average, fell by about the same proportion. (Meanwhile, the typical American’s income rose marginally.)

    The financial picture is particularly unsettling for those households headed by a retired person. The typical savings of such a family fell to $26,500 in 2004, from $34,400 in 2001.

    “Everybody is having a terrible time,” said Alicia Munnell, who heads the retirement research center at Boston College. “Nobody is enjoying much in terms of growth in net worth. No one has enough to support themselves in retirement for 20 years.”

    According to calculations by Ms. Munnell, even the group aged between 55 and 64 — the only age category to increase savings in the last three years — has only amassed a small fraction of what people need to maintain their lifestyle in retirement.

    Home prices provided pretty much the only upbeat news. Just over 69 percent of Americans owned their own homes in 2004, according to the Fed data. The median value of their homes jumped to $160,000 in 2004 from $131,000 three years before, a rise of 22 percent.

    Among households headed by retirees, nearly 76 percent owned their homes in 2004. The median value of their homes also jumped 22 percent, to $130,000, compared with $106,500 in 2001.

  16. Anonymous says:

    Today is a big day for open houses, just check the Sunday RE section. Every POS is on the market! With these creative mortgages the unregulated industry has dreamed up I can buy a future foreclosure with no money down!

  17. Anonymous says:

    Small 2 bedrooms+den and 2 baths house in Englewood Cliffs, NJ was listed for a rent asking $2200 last year. No takers…. and now it is listed for sale asking $850K. So….the market will probably go up by double or triple from where it is now. This house is so old with no property. You have to be kidding… If this house sells for this much, I am moving out of NJ!

  18. … not the best day to have an open house – my thermometer reads 18 degrees, and the winds are really gusting!

  19. Metroplexual says:

    But man have I seen alot of open house posters, Remaxed, Whychert, Coldwell Wanker. NNJ firesale may not be immediate but reality is setting in for some.

  20. Anonymous says:

    At the supermarket today and overheard 2 old ladies talking about real estate. It’s funny how closely these people follow the activity. Both were agreeing that the market is slowing and peaked.

  21. Anonymous says:

    “and the winds are really gusting!”

    All this wind this year hasn’t helped the open houses in Hoboken. All those signs on the corners are getting blown over. The helium filled balloons are all over the place.


  22. Anonymous says:

    Drove out to Ridgewood, as per a recommendation posted here, and there were about 15 open houses.

    The taxes are quite high there, but the architecture of the homes is excellent.

    Anyone have any thoughts on Ridgewood in general? I’m not that familiar with Ridgewood, or Bergen county.

  23. Anonymous says:

    Just back from a few days in Fort Myers FL. In the Sunday paper, the RE “section” was FOUR SECTIONS. Flags, sign spinners EVERYWHERE. Taxis to and from the airport with drivers RAVING about the “new stock market.” On, and the new (leased) MB CLS in the lot of the resort where we were staying — with the plate “ISELL RE”.

  24. Anonymous says:

    I found this for sale ad on Craigslist. See why do you have to use this person’s mortgage broker??? To me this deal smells foul. What are your thoughts?

    Good Condition 2 Legal family house
    3 UNITS House. 3Bedroom/1Bathroom 3Bedroom/1Bathroom 1Bedroom/1Bathroom
    Rents $1200 $1200 $650
    Total Rent $3050 Potential $1000 monthly CA$H FLOW

    I am Offering at a nice discount. This is a white beautifu deal! The house is worth over $480,000. Asking $430,000. This will not last!
    When you want to go inside, call me and I’ll arrange for a viewing.
    Fantastic and exciting investment/home ownership opportunity!

    I will take back a mortgage note in order to fund a no down payment transaction with adjustment of purchase price!!!
    I will finance all the closing costs with adjustment of purchase price!!!
    I can even get you ca$h back at closing!!!

    You can buy this house with absolutely no money out of your pocket. Just a few signatures and it’s yours!!! We can guide you on how this is transaction is accomplished, as We do them all the time.

    Credit score of 680 or better is required for this deal. I will recommend an excellent mortgage banker that you have to use. He can get these deals done!!!. This is due to the time you will save us by doing so. 680 credit score and proof is required

  25. Ridgewood is a great community with a good school system. The taxes are high, but you get what you pay for.

    It is filled with old money, blue-blood types. I hate to stereotype, but it is very descriptive. My wife worked in the school district about 10 years ago, and we have some family ties there. Given the location, convenience, and amenities [including a proper downtown with direct train service to NYC], you would be hard pressed to find a better place.

    Additionally, there is only one bad town in the vicinity [Paterson], and most of the other towns are in the same class, but quite as elite.

  26. Franklin Lakes and Wyckoff are adjacent, but more purely residential and do not have the train.

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