Thursday, April 14, 2016

Why This One Little Town Is New Jersey’s Best Kept Secret

While most of us New Jerseyans have heard of Morristown, this little gem is a secret to much of the world. When tourists come to the Garden State, it’s often to see the bigger cities surrounding us or visit our beautiful shore towns. Historic Morristown, with its 18,000 residents, often gets overlooked. Even those of us familiar with Morristown may not know all that it has to offer. Here are 20 things to do and see in Morristown, the “Military Capital of the American Revolution.”

1. Ford Mansion

1. Ford Mansion Flickr/Shinya Suzuki

One of the town's most popular attractions, this stately mansion served as the winter headquarters for George Washington between 1779-1780. It now operates in conjunction with the Washington's Headquarters Museum and is furnished as it would have been during Washington's 6-month stay. Established as a museum site back in the 1870s, this house was one of the first house museums in the United States.

2. Jockey Hollow

2. Jockey Hollow Wikipedia/Lebrsm

While Washington stayed in Ford Mansion, his troops were housed in Jockey Hollow. You'll find a reconstructed hut here to get an idea of the conditions soldiers lived in. Huts were typically 14' x 16' and housed 12 men. Each hut had a dirt floor and a fireplace, any furniture was built by the soldiers themselves. There were once over 1000 huts on the property.

You'll also find the slightly fancier Wick House here, pictured. This home was built sometime between 1747-1750 by a fairly wealthy farmer - Henry Wick. Several majors and generals briefly called this spot home during the Revolutionary War including Major Joseph Bloomfield who went on to become the 4th Governor of New Jersey.

3. Fort Nonsense

3. Fort Nonsense Wikipedia/Jared Kofsky/PlaceNJ.com

I love the name, but its origins are unknown. The area was originally called Kinney's Hill, and its elevated location made it an ideal spot for a lookout. Its primary purpose was to serve as a retreat, but the British never attacked Morristown. Though it went unused, it still offers some scenic views.

4. Morris Museum

4. Morris Museum Facebook/Morris Museum

This magical museum is housed in the historic Twin Oaks mansion and offers a little bit of everything. You'll find over 40,000 unique objects ranging from rocks and minerals to model trains, and interesting exhibits of art, science, culture and history. This museum is home to one of the largest collections of mechanical musical instruments in the country, along with the Bickford Theatre, which puts on performances throughout the year.

5. Morristown Game Vault

5. Morristown Game Vault Facebook/Morristown Game Vault

This recently opened attraction housed in the former PNC Bank building is already garnering some serious praise. You'll find a collection of over 85 retro arcade games and pinball machines that visitors of all ages can enjoy. Games date back to the 1970s, although there are also several more modern favorites in the mix.

6. Historic Speedwell

6. Historic Speedwell Wikipedia/Leifern

Speedwell Village is a National Historic Landmark comprised of nine buildings furnished to depict life at Speedwell during the early 19th century. These buildings include the Vail House, a restored home which serves as a museum, the Wheel House, which features an operational 24-foot waterwheel, and the Factory Building, pictured. The Factory Building is where Samuel Morse and Alfred Vail first publicly demonstrated the electric telegraph.

7. Frelinghuysen Arboretum

7. Frelinghuysen Arboretum Yelp/Jason P.

This 127-acre park is open daily to the public, free of charge. It features several gardens including collections of ornamental grasses, summer shrubs, flowering plants and fruit bearing trees. You'll also find a selection of entertaining events and numerous hiking trails. Check out "Flowers Galore Tea and Tour" on select Wednesdays, with May 11th being the next available date.

8. Mayo Performing Arts Center

8. Mayo Performing Arts Center Facebook/Mayo Performing Arts Center

This small town theater brings in some big names; Jewel, Jennifer Nettles, Kathy Griffin and Kevin James all have upcoming performances. You'll also find high quality theater with shows like "Let It Be," a celebration of The Beatles, and "Mama Mia."

9. Loantaka Brook Reservation

9. Loantaka Brook Reservation Flickr/Robert DeCroce

A great picnicking spot offering grills, restrooms, and a playground, you'll also find 5 miles of trails for hiking, biking, rollerblading and horseback riding.

10. Seaton Hackney Stables

10. Seaton Hackney Stables Facebook/Seaton Hackney Stables

Speaking of horseback riding, the Seaton Hackney Stables are located adjacent to the Loantaka Brook Reservation. They offer group and private lessons, schooling shows, trail rides, birthday parties, equestrian summer camps, and specialty riding clinics.

11. The Seeing Eye

11. The Seeing Eye Facebook/The Seeing Eye, Inc.

The national non-profit organization is headquartered in Morristown and offers those interested a chance to visit. Public programs are held every Thursday and once a month on Saturdays. The program includes a presentation by an instructor with a Seeing Eye® dog and a question-and-answer session with a Seeing Eye graduate. You can also learn about ways to support The Seeing Eye.

12. Glassworks Studio

12. Glassworks Studio Facebook/Glassworks Studio

Glassworks Studio opened in December 2002 as the only public, walk-in glass fusing studio in the country. Now you can find similar studios everywhere, but Morristown is home to the first. They offer walk-ins, parties, group events and classes. Design your own unique creations or learn to "paint" using crushed pieces of glass.

13. Lewis Morris County Park

13. Lewis Morris County Park Yelp/Nora M.

Did you know Morristown is also a beach town? Kind of... This 1,154-acre county park is named for New Jersey's first governor. It features trails for hiking, cross-country skiing, and a swimming beach with paddle boating on Sunrise Lake.

14. Acorn Hall

14. Acorn Hall Wikipedia/Mitchell Speert

Acorn Hall is an 1853 Victorian Italianate mansion that operates as a museum. Tours of the home are offered, and there are also several exhibits which highlight Morris County history and Victorian culture. You'll also find gorgeous gardens and access to the Patriot's Path trail.

15. Jockey Hollow Bar & Kitchen

15. Jockey Hollow Bar & Kitchen Facebook/Jockey Hollow Bar & Kitchen

This 4-part concept restaurant is one extravagant eatery. Housed in the historic Vail Mansion, you'll find The Vail Bar, The Oyster & Wine Bar, The Dining Room and The Rathskellar. Amazing architecture, unique works of art, and fantastic food abound.

16. Morristown Green

16. Morristown Green Facebook/Wally Gobetz

The historic town center hosts numerous events throughout the year and has won several awards for design. George Washington once camped here, and the location was used as a ground for executions until 1833.

17. Fosterfields Living Historical Farm

17. Fosterfields Living Historical Farm Flickr/wck

This working farm has been in operation since 1760. An interactive experience for visitors, you can see cows milked the old fashioned way and butter churning in action. Stuck in time, the farm operates as it would have between approximately 1890-1920 featuring antique machinery and methods. There are also several authentic structures on the property including a 1920s farmhouse and The Willows, a Gothic Revival-style mansion built in 1854.

18. Macculloch Hall Historical Museum

18. Macculloch Hall Historical Museum Facebook/Macculloch Hall Historical Museum

This magnificent museum's collections focus on art and history, with exhibits featuring the work of famed cartoonist Thomas Nast. Adult admission is $8 but discounts are available for students and seniors; access to the surrounding gardens is free. Enjoy tours, talks and unique events including National Public Gardens Day. On May 6th, you can meet a beekeeper and see honeybees in action, explore the garden in a scavenger hunt and talk about dirt with a soil scientist. The event is free, so check it out.

19. Wightman’s Farms

19. Wightman's Farms Facebook/Wightman's Farms

This modern farm is the place to be each fall. Visitors can enjoy pumpkin picking, a corn maze, hayrides and farm tours. In the spring and summer, stop by the farmers market and take the opportunity to pick your own herbs and flowers.

20. The Madison Hotel

20. The Madison Hotel Facebook/The Madison Hotel

You can easily spend several days here and may need overnight accommodations. While there are several chain hotels in Morristown, the local Madison Hotel provides an experience like no other. Elegant and architecturally stunning, amenities include a fitness center, pool, complimentary continental breakfast, business center and room service. You'll also find the award-winning restaurant, Rod's Steak & Seafood Grille.

Art, architecture, history, culture, entertainment, and a wide variety of cuisine… What doesn’t Morristown have to offer? Everyone in New Jersey should visit this truly spectacular town, and it’s definitely worthy of being a destination for tourists from all over. Morristown may be just under an hour from New York City and under 90 miles from Philadelphia, but it certainly holds its own as an incredible place for a weekend getaway.

Article originally posted here. Written by .

National award-winners and seasoned Realtors with over many years of experience in Northern & Central New Jersey, Rahul & Smitha and their team have become New Jersey’s “Go To” agents and consistent leaders with a reputation for tenaciously protecting their clients’ interests. They specialize in Morris, Somerset, Essex, Union and Passaic counties.

www.SRRealEstateGroup.com | www.Morris-Homes.com | www.TheTownhouseExpert.com

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Past, Present & Future Home Values

house on quarters



In CoreLogic’s latest Home Price Index, they revealed home appreciation in three categories: percentage appreciation over the last year, over the last month, and projected appreciation over the next twelve months.

Here are state maps for each category:


The Past – home appreciation over the last 12 months

Appreciation 2015-2016


The Present – home appreciation over the last month

Appreciation Last Month


The Future – home appreciation projected over the next 12 months

Appreciation Next 12 Months


Bottom Line

Homes across the country are appreciating at different rates. The rate of home price appreciation across the country is due to a strong housing market reacting to supply and demand, not a new housing bubble.

If you plan on relocating to another state, and are waiting for your home to appreciate more, you need to know that the home you will buy in another state may be appreciating even faster.

Meet with a local real estate professional who can guide you through the next steps and help you decide what's right for you.

National award-winners and seasoned Realtors with over many years of experience in Northern & Central New Jersey, Rahul & Smitha and their team have become New Jersey’s “Go To” agents and consistent leaders with a reputation for tenaciously protecting their clients’ interests. They specialize in Morris, Somerset, Essex, Union and Passaic counties.

www.SRRealEstateGroup.com | www.Morris-Homes.com | www.TheTownhouseExpert.com

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

3 Charts That Scream ‘List Your Home Today’

In school we all learned the Theory of Supply and Demand. When the demand for an item is greater than the supply of that item, the price will surely rise.

SUPPLY

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) recently reported that the inventory of homes for sale stands at a 4.4-month supply. This is considerably lower than the 6-month inventory necessary for a normal market.

Inventory-KCM 201603


DEMAND

Every month NAR reports on the amount of buyers that are actually out in the market looking for homes, or foot traffic. As seen in the graph below, buyer demand in February significantly outpaced the last six months. Many buyers are being confronted with a very competitive market in which they must compete with other buyers for their dream home (if they even are able to find a home they wish to purchase). Listing your house for sale now will allow you to capitalize on the shortage of homes for sale in the market, which will translate into a better pricing situation.

Foot-Traffic-KCM

HOME EQUITY

Many homeowners underestimate the amount of equity they currently have in their home. According to a recent Fannie Mae study, 37% of homeowners believe that they have more than 20% equity in their home. In reality, CoreLogic’s latest Equity Report tells us that 72.6% actually do! Many homeowners who are undervaluing their home equity may feel trapped in their current home, which may be contributing to the lack of inventory in the market.

Equity-KCM


Bottom Line

If you are debating selling your home this year, meet with a local real estate professional that can evaluate the equity you have in your home and the opportunities available in your market.

National award-winners and seasoned Realtors with over many years of experience in Northern & Central New Jersey, Rahul & Smitha and their team have become New Jersey’s “Go To” agents and consistent leaders with a reputation for tenaciously protecting their clients’ interests. They specialize in Morris, Somerset, Essex, Union and Passaic counties.

www.SRRealEstateGroup.com | www.Morris-Homes.com | www.TheTownhouseExpert.com

Saturday, March 12, 2016

This Spring, Expect Higher Home Prices

As we enter the busy season of home selling, buyers can expect lower inventories and higher prices, experts say, but low interest rates take away some of the sting.

WSJ - OG-AG763_201503_M_20160309105118
ILLUSTRATION: CHRIS GASH
Originally posted on WSJ.com and written by Anya Martin.
As winter draws to a close, homeowners coming out of hibernation are looking for new homes. And those who sleep too late can expect to pay top dollar for the house they want.

Buyers are anticipated to outnumber sellers this spring, creating a shortfall in inventory that is driving up asking prices, says Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the National Association of Realtors, or NAR.

“Given that prices are rising, more people will be pushed on the borderline of conventional mortgage limits and may need a large down payment or a jumbo mortgage,” Mr. Yun says. Jumbo mortgages have limits higher than conforming loan limits of $417,000 and up to $625,500 in some high-priced areas.

The nationwide median price for an existing single-family home was $213,800 in January, up 8.2% from this time a year ago, according to NAR. Price appreciation was at the highest rate since April 2015 and part of a 47-month upward trend of gains. ( News Corp, which owns The Wall Street Journal, also owns Realtor.com, NAR’s listing website.)

Lenders also are predicting a busy borrowing season. “There’s a decade of pent-up demand,” says Bob Walters, chief economist of Quicken Loans. With loans volume for home purchases at its highest level in four months, and low interest rates fueling a mini-refinance boom, buyers seeking the best mortgage deals should ask lenders how long closings are taking, Mr. Walters says.

Borrowers got a sweet surprise when mortgage rates fell earlier this year—despite the Federal Reserve’s short-term rates increase in December. The average interest rate for a 30-year, fixed-rate jumbo mortgage was 3.75% for the week ending March 4, according to mortgage rate website HSH.com.

Rates aren't expected to rise above 4% before May, says Keith Gumbinger, vice president of HSH.com. With a softened economy, the Fed isn't predicted to raise short-term rates at its March meeting, with the next opportunity being June, he adds.

To avoid traffic jams that could delay closings, get into the market sooner, advises Paul Anastos, president of the Walpole, Mass.-based Mortgage Master, a division of Foothill Ranch, Calif.-based loanDepot. He compares it to morning traffic gridlock: “Every minute later you leave costs you 10 minutes,” he adds. “Every day, the audience looking for houses increases exponentially.”

Mr. Anastos also advises borrowers to skip prequalification, which is based on stated income and assets, and go to the full step of preapproval, which requires submitting full documentation to an underwriter, Mr. Anastos says.

Preapproval can save as much as seven to 10 days in the closing period, Mr. Anastos says. “If you find a home this weekend, you look highly competitive.” he adds.

One silver lining of rising home prices is greater lender confidence in jumbo mortgages, leading to looser credit qualification, Mr. Walters says. Borrowers typically need a credit score of 740 or more to secure the best interest rates, but now most lenders will accept a 700 score, and some will take a 680 or occasionally even lower, he adds. And while a 20% down payment remains the industry standard for jumbos, more lenders are also offering lower down payment jumbos (15% or even 10% down), Mr. Walters says.

Here are a few more tips for jumbo borrowers:
  • Appraisals may come in low. Sales are contingent on a home appraisal, and if the home doesn’t appraise at the price offered, the borrower may have to come up with more cash, says Norman T. Koenigsberg, president and CEO of East Brunswick, N.J.-based First Choice Loan Services. About 10% of First Choice applicants’ homes have been appraising under market prices. Until spring sales begin to close, appraisers may be comparing prices of homes sold as far back as October with current prices, he adds.
  • Save money on shorter stay. Most jumbo borrowers are locking in fixed-rate loans, but those who expect to relocate within five to 10 years can still get the lowest rates with adjustable-rate mortgages, Mr. Koenigsberg says. Average rates for the five-year ARM on March 4 were 2.84%, according to HSH.com.
  • Longer lock-ins. The typical rate lock is 45 days, but if a borrower is preapproved and still looking, many lenders will lock longer for a slight premium, usually one-eighth to one-half a percentage point, Mr. Walters says.
National award-winners and seasoned Realtors with over many years of experience in Northern & Central New Jersey, Rahul & Smitha and their team have become New Jersey’s “Go To” agents and consistent leaders with a reputation for tenaciously protecting their clients’ interests. They specialize in Morris, Somerset, Essex, Union and Passaic counties.

www.SRRealEstateGroup.com | www.Morris-Homes.com | www.TheTownhouseExpert.com

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Home Prices Up 5.76% Across The Country!

Some Highlights:

  • The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) recently released their latest Quarterly Home Price Index report.
  • In the report, home prices are compared both regionally and by state.
  • Based on the latest numbers, waiting to move may end up costing you more!
Click the graphic to see a larger version:

FHFA-Home-Prices-KCM

National award-winners and seasoned Realtors with over many years of experience in Northern & Central New Jersey, Rahul & Smitha and their team have become New Jersey’s “Go To” agents and consistent leaders with a reputation for tenaciously protecting their clients’ interests. They specialize in Morris, Somerset, Essex, Union and Passaic counties.

www.SRRealEstateGroup.com | www.Morris-Homes.com | www.TheTownhouseExpert.com

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Mortgage Rates Again at Historic Lows




Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, the Mortgage Bankers’ Association and the National Association of Realtors each predicted that interest rates would begin to rise slowly and steadily throughout 2016. However, shaky economic news and a volatile stock market have actually caused rates to drop six out of the last seven weeks, and have remained at 3.65% for the past two weeks.

Bottom Line

If you are thinking of buying your first home or moving up to your ultimate dream home, now is a great time to get a sensational rate on your mortgage.

National award-winners and seasoned Realtors with over many years of experience in Northern & Central New Jersey, Rahul & Smitha and their team have become New Jersey’s “Go To” agents and consistent leaders with a reputation for tenaciously protecting their clients’ interests. They specialize in Morris, Somerset, Essex, Union and Passaic counties.

www.SRRealEstateGroup.com | www.Morris-Homes.com | www.TheTownhouseExpert.com

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Are the Kids Finally Moving Out?

millenials signing paperworkDuring the recession, many young adults graduating from college were forced to move back in with their parents. This caused new household formations to drop dramatically from the long term average of 1.2 million formations annually to half that number. However, this may be the year this turns back around. According to the Urban Land Institute’s report, Emerging Trends in Real Estate, household formations will increase dramatically. They project that 3.68 million additional households will be formed in the next three years. This brings household formations back to pre-recession numbers of 1.2 million a year.

What will happen in 2016?

One of the key indicators to an improving housing market is household formation: How many people are moving out and forming an independent living unit? Many of the people “moving out on their own” will be those Millennials who can finally move from their parents’ basements to their first home. Not every person moving out will decide on an apartment. A certain percentage of consumers will decide that homeownership is a better option for themselves and their families. Jonathan Smoke, Chief Economist at realtor.com, believes:

“Demand for for-sale housing will grow and will continue to be dominated by older millennials, aged 25 to 34. This demographic has the potential to claim a third of home sales in 2016 and represent 2 million home purchases.”

What about household formations moving forward?

And Louis Keely, the President of The Demand Institute, predicts strong household growth will continue over the next ten years:

“We expect new household formation to be robust over the next decade as the large millennial generation ages and forms new households of their own.”

Bottom Line


Here come the Millennials!! They will finally be entering the housing market in 2016 and will dominate real estate sales over the next decade.

National award-winners and seasoned Realtors with over many years of experience in Northern & Central New Jersey, Rahul & Smitha and their team have become New Jersey’s “Go To” agents and consistent leaders with a reputation for tenaciously protecting their clients’ interests. They specialize in Morris, Somerset, Essex, Union and Passaic counties.

www.SRRealEstateGroup.com | www.Morris-Homes.com | www.TheTownhouseExpert.com

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Investors With Cash Edging Out First-Time Home Buyers




Easy pickings from foreclosures may be gone, but investors continue to swarm over housing markets

Article originally posted on WSJ.com. Written by Joe Light.
During the housing bust, investors pounced on foreclosures and short sales—houses that sell for less than the amount owed on the mortgage—to use for cheap homes they could rent out or flip for a quick profit. Now, those easy pickings are gone, but the investors are still swarming over local housing markets, offering all-cash deals and creating headaches for the first-time home buyers who compete with them.

Regan Austin, 25 years old, and her husband lost out on an Orlando, Fla., area home earlier this year to an all-cash buyer. “It was very disappointing. We had our heart set on that home,” said Ms. Austin. She and her husband, who are first-time home buyers, are still looking. “We never thought of the concept of having a cash buyer come in and take that out from under you.” During the housing bubble, investors, lured by easy mortgages, helped send home prices to record levels. In the crash that followed, investors appeared again, this time offering all-cash deals on thousands of bank-owned properties to sell or rent out.

Some economists and real-estate agents say the market is going through an uneasy transition. While the foreclosure starts rate is back down to where it was before the crisis, cash and investor buying in some cities remains far above historical levels. That creates difficulty for buyers of low-price homes because more buyers are competing for fewer properties. In October, 25% of home sales nationwide were to investors, down from a 32% peak in 2012, according to real-estate data firm CoreLogic, CLGX -1.66 % but still 8 percentage points greater than in 2000, before the housing boom and bust.

Meanwhile, the supply of homes for sale dwindled to 1.79 million in December, according to the National Association of Realtors, enough to last 3.9 months at the current sales pace and well below the six months considered a normal market. The problem has become acute for buyers focused on low-price properties. According to the NAR, between December 2014 and 2015 the number of homes for sale priced below $100,000 fell 11.1%, in part because of a decline in foreclosure sales.

“Home supply is diminishing but investor demand is not going away,” said NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun.

Many economists expect housing prices to cool over the coming year, and rather than try to flip homes for a profit, some investors say they are making a long-term bet on demand for rentals, which has boomed in many parts of the country. The U.S. Census Bureau last month said 7% of rental units were vacant in the fourth quarter, near the low for the last decade and down from the peak of 11.1% in 2009. The median asking rent was $850, up 11% in the past year.

Some housing advocates say they have mixed feelings about the strong investor demand.

“Low inventory is a problem and making sure first-time home buyers have a shot should be a priority. But on the other hand, we have a rental affordability crisis,” said Sarah Edelman, director of housing policy for the left-leaning Center for American Progress.

Investor Ken Weiner, a former financial-services executive who lives in Wantagh, N.Y., didn’t buy his first single-family rental property until November, but since then has closed with an investment partner on six homes and on another three on his own, including ones in South Carolina, Illinois and Georgia. He said he plans to close on at least another seven properties by mid-year. Mr. Weiner, who is buying homes sight unseen through investor startup Home Union, said he thinks demand for rentals among millennials and others delaying homeownership will make investing in single-family homes a fixture of the market. “I’m not counting on appreciation,” he said. “If that comes, that’s great. I’m looking for income.”

saving for houseSome real-estate agents in cities that have seen their foreclosure crisis ease said investors have moved up from bank-owned properties and now are competing for traditional, low-price homes that normally would be fodder for first-time buyers. Lisa C. Ford, secretary for the Orlando Regional Realtor Association, said buyers there can expect to compete against at least one cash offer for any home priced below $300,000. In Orlando, 39% of sales in October were all-cash, according to the latest data available from CoreLogic, down 5.6 percentage points from a year earlier but 23 percentage points greater than in 2006. Miami and West Palm Beach, Fla., also have seen declines but about half of homes there still sell for cash.

Don Ganguly, CEO of investor startup Home Union, has recently expanded the company’s business to facilitate investor purchases in markets such as Columbia, S.C., and Huntsville, Ala., which some investors think could have strong rental demand despite little price appreciation recently. Some investors through the site are buying newly constructed homes directly from home builders, he said.

In some cities still suffering from foreclosures, such as Newark, N.J., and New Orleans, cash purchases climbed in the past year through October, according to CoreLogic. Of the 100 largest metro areas, nearly all in the year through October saw the all-cash share of purchases fall, but only 10 have fewer all-cash sales than in 2006.

Daniel Brown, an investor who lives outside Los Angeles, met with real-estate agents in Kansas City, Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit, Pittsburgh and other cities looking for investment opportunities. He bought his first U.S. home in January 2015, and said he now owns about 60 homes with 75 units. “An average normal city goes through its ups and downs, but most people there need somewhere to live, and next year, they’ll still need somewhere to live,” said Mr. Brown.

National award-winners and seasoned Realtors with over many years of experience in Northern & Central New Jersey, Rahul & Smitha and their team have become New Jersey’s “Go To” agents and consistent leaders with a reputation for tenaciously protecting their clients’ interests. They specialize in Morris, Somerset, Essex, Union and Passaic counties.

www.SRRealEstateGroup.com | www.Morris-Homes.com | www.TheTownhouseExpert.com

Thursday, February 4, 2016

The Renovation Revolution: 203K And HomeStyle Mortgage Loans




WSJ-960x0 
You can get a mortgage to buy a house and fix it up at the same time using the same loan. (Photographer: Jim R. Bounds/Bloomberg)
Written by Mark Greene for Forbes
Many of the existing homes that are listed for sale in today’s markets, are functionally obsolete because they are older and don’t have the amenities today’s buyers are looking for in a home.

And according to the National Association of Realtors, there is a limited inventory of existing housing stock. If we add in foreclosures and short sale candidates, then maybe the reason Existing Home Sales are down is because there are so few houses on the market and many of those need lots of TLC. Properties that have languished in default and foreclosure or are short sale candidates tend to develop can’t miss evidence that pride of ownership moved out a long time ago. Location, location, location may not always be powerful enough to overcome neglected and dated homes long overdue for modernization.

A 2014 NAR survey of homebuyers revealed that 53% of those polled said finding the right home is the biggest problem even when they find the right neighborhood.

For many buyers, especially first time homebuyers, renovating a home post-closing may seem out of reach because they do not have the liquid assets to do desired renovations. This can obviously have a big influence on a buying decision when the needy property is in the right location for a particular buyer. So just how can a prospective homebuyer make improvements to a property without cash and with little equity?

The answer is this; you can get a mortgage to buy a house and fix it up at the same time using the same loan. Renovation financing otherwise known as FHA 203K and Fannie Mae HomeStyle loans; provide solutions for this stalled market segment. The renovation financing revolution is in full bloom as home buyers are taking properties in need of attention and turning them into dream homes with help from the FHA and Fannie Mae.

diy-617763_1280
My colleague and long-time mortgage guru; Matt Gratalo says “a lot of first time homebuyers are bargain hunting but thin inventory does not give them much opportunity. Renovation financing lets them buy the ugly duckling house at a discount and turn into the neighborhood swan.”

To understand how renovation financing works, a basic tutorial about the valuation mechanics for these loans will be helpful. A traditional, straightforward purchase or refinance mortgage loan relies on the current market value of a property based on an appraisal. Renovation financing considers the purchase or acquisition price supported by an appraisal, then adds in the proposed improvements (using architectural plans and specs and builder costs estimates), and allows the appraiser to make a determination of what the “after improved value” would be. Essentially determining and relying on what the value of the property will be once the improvements are done. The financing is then based on that after improved value.

For example; if the purchase price of a house is $300,000 with improvements estimated to be $100,000 and the appraiser determines the after improved value to be $400,000, then the down payment and mortgage financing will be based on the $400,000 after improved value. For an FHA 203K loan, the down payment can be as little as 3.5% of that $400,000 AIV, for a Fannie Mae HomeStyle loan, the minimum down payment would be 5%.
Renovation financing can also be used to refinance current mortgage obligations and make improvements to the home you currently own!

Short sales and foreclosures are often “as is” sales, and lenders want any defects fixed before closing. This is not an issue with 203K and HomeStyle financing as correcting the defects are included in the improvements, allowing closings to proceed without having to address any “as is” issues.

These are not exotic loans, they are actually pretty straightforward but they have more moving parts than a traditional mortgage loan. And more people are involved in the process (contractors, architects, and renovation lending staff to name just a few!), so experience and expertise are important, taking the time to vet prospective lenders will pay efficiency and cost dividends throughout the process.

So head on out to Open Houses this Sunday and take your creative vision with you, because that neglected, diamond-in-the-rough-needs-work-so-nobody-wants-it-house, might just be the dream home where you will raise your family.

National award-winners and seasoned Realtors with over many years of experience in Northern & Central New Jersey, Rahul & Smitha and their team have become New Jersey’s “Go To” agents and consistent leaders with a reputation for tenaciously protecting their clients’ interests. They specialize in Morris, Somerset, Essex, Union and Passaic counties.

www.SRRealEstateGroup.com | www.Morris-Homes.com | www.TheTownhouseExpert.com

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

5 Open Houses on Sunday, 1/31 in Denville, Randolph, and Montville

We'd love to see you this weekend at one or more of our FIVE open houses in Denville, Randolph, and Montville, NJ! We will be showcasing 3 townhomes in the Berkshire Hills community in Denville, a fabulous luxurious Colonial in Randolph, and a magnificent luxurious Contemporary house in Montville. Homes to fit every lifestyle and budget in some of the most desirable and convenient communities!

Click the addresses below for more details and pictures. Please contact us with any questions. If you can't make it on Sunday, just contact us to arrange a private showing!

WHEN: Sunday, January 31st, 1-4 PM


29 Windsor Drive, Montville | Offered at $1,299,000 | 5 beds, 4.2 baths, 3-car garage

P106026709 DR_IMG_5283_IMG_5288 copy


47 Barbara Drive, Randolph | Offered at $749,900 | 5 beds, 3.1 baths, 3-car garage

01 Outside_IMG_2025 copy (Large) 05 Kitch_IMG_2124_IMG_2126 copy (Large)


1804 Middlefield Court, Denville (Berkshire Hills) | Offered at $362,000 | 2 beds, 2.1 baths, 2-car garage

02 LR_P1060452 (Large) 05 Kitch_P1060463 (Large)


915 Hawley Court, Denville (Berkshire Hills) | Offered at $289,900 | 2 beds, 1.1 baths, 1-car garage

02 LR_P1060285 (Large) 08 BR1_P1060318 (Large)


807 Buckland Court, Denville (Berkshire Hills) | Offered at $284,900 | 2 beds, 1.1 baths, 1-car garage

03 LR_IMG_8568_IMG_8577 copy (Large) 06 Kitch_IMG_8591_IMG_8596 copy (Large)

National award-winners and seasoned Realtors with over many years of experience in Northern & Central New Jersey, Rahul & Smitha and their team have become New Jersey’s “Go To” agents and consistent leaders with a reputation for tenaciously protecting their clients’ interests. They specialize in Morris, Somerset, Essex, Union and Passaic counties.

www.SRRealEstateGroup.com | www.Morris-Homes.com | www.TheTownhouseExpert.com

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

3 Open Houses on Sunday, 1/24 in Berkshire Hills, Denville, NJ!

Please be our guest this weekend at 3 open houses in the Berkshire Hills townhome community in Denville, NJ! Take advantage of this rare opportunity to see multiple beautiful homes in the same neighborhood.

This quiet, serene community offers a sparkling outdoor pool and playground for its residents enjoyment, and is close to freeways, shopping & dining. The interiors of the homes are bright, spacious and open, and have features to fit every lifestyle. Each includes central A/C, gas heat, attached garages, and a balcony or patio to enjoy the outdoors.

Click the links below for more details and pictures. Please contact us with any questions. If you can't make it on Sunday, just contact us to arrange a private showing!

WHEN: Sunday, January 24th, 1-4 PM


1804 Middlefield Court | Offered at $362,000 | 2 beds, 2.1 baths, 2-car garage

02 LR_P1060452 (Large) 05 Kitch_P1060463 (Large)

915 Hawley Court | Offered at $289,900 | 2 beds, 1.1 baths, 1-car garage

02 LR_P1060285 (Large) 08 BR1_P1060318 (Large)

807 Buckland Court | Offered at $284,900 | 2 beds, 1.1 baths, 1-car garage

03 LR_IMG_8568_IMG_8577 copy (Large) 06 Kitch_IMG_8591_IMG_8596 copy (Large)


National award-winners and seasoned Realtors with over many years of experience in Northern & Central New Jersey, Rahul & Smitha and their team have become New Jersey’s “Go To” agents and consistent leaders with a reputation for tenaciously protecting their clients’ interests. They specialize in Morris, Somerset, Essex, Union and Passaic counties.

www.SRRealEstateGroup.com | www.Morris-Homes.com | www.TheTownhouseExpert.com