A Thought for Thanksgiving

Selling a home is, if nothing else, an incredibly personal and intimate experience.  This is often a transference of real property, but also a passing of the torch in a manner of speaking.  Every house carries with it an energy and history – the pencil marks on the doorframe that mark the passing of years as a child grows and matures….the counter where grandma mashed potatoes for every Thanksgiving over the past 15 years…the corner of the hall where the baby took a magic marker to your freshly painted wall.  Years of memory, both good and bad, all imbued with love and hope into these 4 walls.

That being said, the selling of a home is also a transaction – an exchange of money for goods – in this case, 4 physical walls and all the pieces and parts in between.  Often, this is the most important purchase in the life of a young family.  On the other hand, a successful sale could mean the difference between a safe retirement for a homeowner, or the looming fear of financial struggle for years to come.  Both of these circumstances are too important to both parties, financial and emotionally, to be taken lightly.

Given this precarious balance of practical housing need and the emotional desire for the transference of a HOME in the true sense of the word, I would encourage all those who buy and sell to find the most human approach to the experience – to walk a mile in another’s proverbial shoes, so to speak.  Offers to purchase made in generosity, negotiations in good faith and a little understanding of the predicaments of the other side.  Transactions born of positive beginnings result in the strongest sense of belonging – and karma likes to see to it that we get what we give in this world.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone – to all my friends, clients and their families, from this very grateful NJ Realtor.  Looking forward to our continued relationship and all the success in the world to you.

New House is All That: Part 1

The “Ugly Duckling” Phase

I bought the Rachel Leigh Cook of all houses, and I’m going to have to hire a Freddie Prinze Jr. contractor to make it gorgeous. There’s a beautiful personality hiding under all that wood paneling…but we’re going to remove it anyway. Carpets will be removed, tiles will be torn out, wallpaper will be scraped off. When we’re through with this house, it’ll be unrecognizable. I’ll be posting updates as we make progress, so stay tuned and watch this home transform!

Spring Market To Crazy Town


42 offers on a house in Livingston this weekend. 42 offers, I said. This is a town with inventory usually around 150+ houses on the market at once. Granted, so far, this winter has been a poor showing of sad listings that have sat, over-priced and unwanted for months, so this listing was a breath of fresh air. Well priced (well, actually, I thought it was a bit underpriced…and 42 offers clearly demonstrates that to be the case), nice layout, but an estate sale that needed to be renovated from top to bottom. Undoubtedly, half the offers were likely investors or contactors looking to flip the house, but many of were hopeful families looking for their dream home. Many offers for this house were cash only, waiving of inspection remediation, waiving appraisal contingencies, fastclosings.

Hey to all the buyers out there, this is a sign – an indicator of what the new market may look like. Put on your helmets and pads, this is going to be a fight and you are going to get bruised. We need to talk strategy.

Sellers, don’t overprice. As a matter of fact, take a lesson from the house above.

Have a look at this excerpt from Chris Trapani’s INMAN Article titled, “WHY IS HOUSING INVENTORY SO LOW?

Reason 1: Sustained low-rate environment:

Given the sustained low interest rate environment, many homeowners and investors have either purchased or have now refinanced and are locked into tremendously low interest rates over the past six years. It is highly unlikely that these homes will be coming up for sale anytime soon as a result of this favorable financing.

Reason 2: Value disruption/reset in 08/09:

In addition to the sustained low interest rate environment and its potential damper on those properties actually coming up for sale anytime during the life of their loans, we should mention the “value disruption” factor that occurred between 2007 and 2010.  A number of areas experienced a complete “reset” of values and in some cases to nearly half their peak values. Buyers purchased properties in these marketplaces at significant discounts from the high point, resulting in additional “frozen inventory.”  If you combine the sustained low interest rate climate with the thousands of homes purchased at up to 50 percent discounts or more, it’s unreasonable to expect that these homes will be coming up for sale anytime soon.  In addition, an unprecedented number of institutional investors entered the residential real estate market acquiring large pools and blocks of properties. This inventory is now also frozen and held.

Reason 3: Values not at peak levels across the country & sense that values will continue to climb:

In some regional areas sales prices have reached or even surpassed the peak levels in 2007. However, this not a national phenomenon; some cities and regions across the U.S. are still below the historical highs of the mid-2000s. Until prices reach peak levels across the board these homeowners won’t be listing their homes for sale.  Additionally, there is the current mentality among some homeowners that home values will continue to rise. Very similar to the mindset of people holding on to a stock because they expect it to rise, people believe their properties will increase over time. Right or wrong, this mindset has become another factor in the tightening of inventory. What typically happens is that once homeowners realize the up cycle has turned, they electively decide or are forced to sell due to job loss or other negative economic pressures. This would result in a significant inventory increase.

Reason 4: Where would I go? Move up:

We have already mentioned a few of the constraints on the move-up buyer. The aforementioned forces feed on each other and further exacerbate the move-up opportunity. Lower inventory begets lower inventory; a downward pressure cycle continues. If one cannot find properties to move up to, they will not list or sell their current homes.  This same dilemma plagues retirees finding limited or no options for retirement communities in their local area. This also limits housing supply on the top end of the market since seniors are not motivated to sell unless they know exactly where they are going.

I think this excerpt paints a clear picture of why there may be less inventory so far this year – and while sellers think this is THEIR market, they may not take into account the looming interest rate increase and fact that today’s buyers and savvy, and if they don’t perceive value, they just will NOT look at your over-priced house.

Call me for proper guidance & strategy in this market – there are 39 other buyersout there looking for the next house – your house. 917-992-3098.

#realestate #realestatenewjersey #Northjerseyrealtor #belleville #westorange #bloomfield #rosellepark #caldwell #nutley #eastorange #livingston #union #littlefalls #montclair #orange #mortgage #housinginventory #housingmarket #realestateagent #strategy


Ok, home sellers, for those of you that are looking to put your house on the market this spring, now is the time to get ready and prep your home – maintenance work, repairs, and the ever important “freshening” of your home.  Which inevitably means little upgrades in kitchen and baths, repainting.  Take a little hint from the fashion world – new colors for 2016 have been announced and they are bright, colorful and tranquil – all at once.  Have a look a the Pantone colors for fashion – http://www.pantone.com/pages/fcr/?season=spring&year=2016&pid=11.  They should give you a nice jumping off point.

If you are a little hesitant with lots of color, there is still a very strong trend of gray-neutrals, but with a lot of whites, contrast and the use of accent walls.  Here are some wall colors projected for 2016 – http://www.benjaminmoore.com/en-us/for-your-home/benjamin-moore-color-trends-2016.

Remember, this biggest overall trend for 2016 is going to be colors that go with natural materials – woods, linen/cotton fabrics, etc. – and expecially used in creative ways – think wall of wood behind headboard, like this – http://www.houzz.com/wood-wall-behind-bed.

Keep this in mind, especially those home sellers in towns in northern NJ where the buyer base tends to come from Brooklyn, NYC and now more than ever, Queens.  Hip and trendy, but with timeless finishes – that is your palette for a successful home sale.

Don’t forget, if you are looking to sell a home in NJ, call Nancy Chu-Ricci Homes at 917-992-3098 for a home sale consultation.

#nancychuhomes  #homestaging


I wanted to share this particular article by the very informed  – while this is an older article, I find it still very much holds today.  I had a client recently who called because she was being pursued by her mortgage company (one I wasn’t familiar with) to do a “repositioning” of her mortgage – I researched and had difficulty distinguishing whether or not it was a refinance or a modification.  And the abiguity was purposeful – I am sure of it.  This client was a woman in her late 60’s, an immigrant and a recent widow.  I felt as though she was ripe for advantage, and my stomach fell as I realized she had already signed paperwork to do this.  I do know that they wanted her to take “cash-out” which for her, is potentially devistating due to the loss of house value in her area.  If her eventual goal is to sell the house, any “cash-out” taken will out her under water if she tries to sell in the next few years – I am certain of it.

In addition, many baby boomers with college aged childen found themselves using their homes like a “revolving credit card” – encouraged by the idea that they could get home equity lines of credit to extract cash from their homes to pay for things like college, home repair and even other property or to pay off tax debt or credit cards.  Valuations of their homes prior to 2008 has allowed them to borrow in excess of over 20% more than their houses are currently worth.  There is, in my opinion, a potential tidal wave of distressed properties as these folks look to extricate themselves from these burdensome homes.

I encourage all of my clients to look at their longer term goals before making any decisions that may be effect the value of their real estate. Please read and call with any questions.  917-992-3098.  www.NancyChuHomes.com

A growing number of U.S. homeowners reach retirement still owing money on their houses. The share of Americans 65 and older with mortgage debt rose to 30 percent in 2011, from 22 percent in 2001, according to a May analysis by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). Loan balances also increased, with the median amount owed almost doubling, to $79,000 from $43,400, after adjusting for inflation.

The increase in mortgage debt may be keeping older Americans from retiring and crimping their spending on things such as vacations and visits to grandchildren. In the long term, it may make them more vulnerable to swings in the economy. “Hit with a financial downturn or an unexpected cost, they often are in a position where they don’t have the ability to recoup whatever losses they may have suffered,” says Stacy Canan, deputy assistant director at the CFPB’s Office for Older Americans in Washington.

The refinancing boom of the early 2000s—and to some extent a more recent wave in the post-recession years—is one reason mortgage debt grew, according to a 2012 analysis led by John Gist, a research professor at George Washington University’s Institute of Public Policy in Washington. The opportunity to make smaller down payments during the housing boom and the acquisition of vacation homes also contributed to the amount of mortgage debt.

STORY: Getting a Mortgage Is Finally Getting Easier

Older Americans with housing debt have the highest rates of refinancing, with more than half of those born from 1946 to 1964 going through the process in 2004 and 2007, Gist found. They also tapped their home equity more often than younger generations, he says.

Leo Zawacky, 66, and his wife took out a 30-year mortgage in 2003 to buy a duplex a mile from the ocean in Atlantic Beach, Fla. They added a home-equity loan a few years later. Those debts became harder to service when Zawacky lost his job as a carpenter in the housing crisis and was forced into retirement. “It is stressful to have that hanging on us, but we try very hard not to let it bother us,” says Zawacky, who makes crafts with his wife to sell at local arts shows to supplement their income. Still, he says, “we can’t do a lot of things we’d like to do.”

About 65 percent of homeowners with mortgages are still working at age 64, compared with 54 percent of those without housing debt, according to a December analysis by Washington-based Urban Institute researchers Barbara Butrica and Nadia Karamcheva.

STORY: The Shared-Responsibility Mortgage Could Help Bubbleproof the Housing Market

The trend toward having a bigger mortgage later in life is probably here to stay, especially with millennials waiting longer to buy a home, says Sam Khater, deputy chief economist at mortgage and real estate information provider CoreLogic(CLGX). The homeownership rate for Americans 35 and younger fell to 35.9 percent in the second quarter, the lowest level in quarterly data going back to 1994, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. That compares with a high of 43.6 percent a decade ago.

“A lot of today’s millennials are entering the market quite a bit later than their parents, so just by definition they’re going to be carrying more debt later in life,” Khater says. In the past borrowers looked forward to burning their note. “Over the next couple decades, that’s going to happen in much smaller percentages,” he says.

The bottom line: The share of Americans 65 and older still paying off a mortgage rose to 30 percent in 2011, from 22 percent in 2001.

By  Stilwell is a reporter for Bloomberg News in Washington.

#nancychuhomes    #mortgagenews     #babyboomers    #NJhomesales    #CFPB     #retirement    #distressedproperties    #millennials    #HELOC    #yourrealtorforlife    #SellyourNJhome

Affordable homes lagging behind in recovery – what does than mean for you?

I don’t always like to do reposts, but this one I found very interesting – mainly because I have noticed it to be somewhat true in Northern NJ.  I’ve noticed that houses under 300K in towns with a NJ Transit train to NYC (Montclair, Glen Ridge, Maplewood, South Orange, Bloomfield, Summit, Millburn, Short Hills, Westfield, Cranford, Chatham, Madison, New Providence, Berkeley Heights, to name a few…even West Orange, who lives and dies by the jitney to the train) have either all but disappeared….(ok some of these towns don’t even have houses that low)…or they are lingering in a state of limbo: sitting in the cold, often in disrepair and unloved by any first time home buyer and too small for serious consideration from investors.  Some of these houses have amazing potential, and it seems a shame for them not to be loved.  My point is, if you can’t compete for a turn-key home because multiple offers keep shutting you out, then find the smaller house that needs love and get your self a good deal on a fixer upper – you’ll spend less money and end up with a house that has all the features you want because you put them in.  Enjoy the article:

Black Knight: Affordable homes lagging behind in home price recovery

Lower price homes appreciated more, faster in the bubble

In the 10 states where prices are still furthest from their pre-crisis peaks, homes in the bottom 20% value tier are lagging – sometimes considerably – in recovery as compared to the highest valued properties, according to Black Knight’s November Mortgage Monitor.

In California, for example, properties in the top 20% price tier are now just over 3% behind their pre-crisis peaks; the lowest 20% are still 32% off those peaks.
In many cases, these disparities boil down to the fact that during the bubble, lower-tier properties appreciated at much higher rates than higher-valued properties, then fell harder and further when the bubble broke.

According to Trey Barnes, Black Knight’s senior vice president of Loan Data Products, home price recovery for the lowest 20% of property values has lagged behind those at the top in America’s hardest hit states.

“We looked at HPI appreciation from pre-crisis peaks to today in the 10 states currently trailing the furthest behind their pre-crisis housing maximums,” said Barnes. “The data showed a clear difference in the levels of recovery among home price tiers. The Black Knight HPI separates home values for every geographical division into five equal tiers; those in the lowest 20% of home values have been lagging behind their higher-valued counterparts in recovery to pre-crisis peaks, sometimes considerably.

“For example, in Nevada – overall, still more than 39% off its pre-crisis peak – properties in the lowest tier are nearly 47% off their peaks, as compared to 36% for those in the highest tier. In California, an even starker contrast emerges: properties in the highest tier have now come within just over 3% of their pre-crisis peak, while those in the lowest 20% are still almost 32% down. In many cases, these disparities between price tiers can be attributed to the fact that during the bubble, lower-tier properties appreciated at much higher rates than higher-valued properties and likewise fell harder and further when the bubble broke.”

Black Knight also looked into the current state of play with regard to loan modifications and found overall activity was down in 2014.

HAMP mods accounted for over half of all modifications performed last year, with the majority of HAMP activity shifting overwhelmingly to FHA/VA mortgages (close to 70% of 2014 HAMP mods, as compared to just 13% of the same in 2013).

HAMP mods re-default at much lower rates than proprietary mods, but 2014 HAMP mods are re-defaulting at higher rate than either of the prior two years.

Finally, Black Knight performed a deeper analysis on this month’s 11.8% spike in the national delinquency rate.

While seasonality suggests that such increases can be expected each November, this was the largest such jump in six years; in fact, it was the largest month-over-month increase for any month since November 2008. However, the size of the increase can be largely attributed to a reduced number of payment processing days for the month (given two federal holidays and the month ending on a Sunday).

Trey Garrison is the Senior Financial Reporter for HousingWire.com. Trey has served as real estate editor for the Dallas Business Journal, and was one of the founding editors of D CEO Magazine. He has been an editor for D Magazine — considered among the best city magazines in the United States — and a contributor for Reason magazine.

2014 strong for NJ Real Estate Market…What Does the Future Hold?

NJ realtors have a vital resource for the somewhat tricky business of projecting what the real estate market will be like over the next few years – information provided for by statistical guru Jeffrey Otteau of the Otteau Valuation Group is a key.  Like the Nate Silver of Real Estate! 

His most recent spring assessment has some enlightening and somewhat sobering news about how the numbers will likely move, and below is a highlight reel of information that buyers and sellers might find really useful. 

Prices in NJ will likely rise an average of about 6% this year, then by 2015, there will be a plateauing – a move sideways.  Not a major bust but a combination of rising interest rates and an assault on entry level job growth are going to be a factor.  What is that?  An “assault” on job growth?  Well, example…the food chain Applebees is doing away with their wait staff and moving their order system to a self-serve tablet system – see link here: http://www.dailyfinance.com/on/applebees-tablets-tables-customers-order-pay-automation/.  Businesses that have the ability to automate are already doing so, and it will affect the buying power of the first time home buyer, without a doubt, which in turns affects sellers looking to sell their entry level home into a more “move up” sized home.

On the other end of the age spectrum, baby boomers who are a huge part of the ebb and flow of money in this country will be stepping back from the previously ubiquitous role they took in the marketplace.  They will pull back, prep for retirement, move onto fixed incomes and spend less.  This, coupled with the fact that many industries are actually relocating into areas closer to the future talent pool of workers, will affect the real estate market.  Where is this talent pool of the future you ask?  Proximity to urban centers – such as the City, boroughs…oh and lovely towns with easy access to NYC in 45 minutes or less…(Montclair, Glen Ridge, Bloomfield, West Orange, South Orange, Ridgewood, Summit, Millburn, Livingston, Maplewood, Clifton, Caldwells, Verona, Cedar Grove, New Providence, Short Hills, Chatham, Madison to name a few…)

The upshot?  The market is strong right now – a good time to buy or sell.  The interest rates are low enough to maximize your buying power and prices are still reasonable.  For sellers, the market is healthy enough for 2014, and a little harder to predict for 2015.  If you are on the fence about a move, ask me more about the process and I will be happy to review some facts and figures for you.  Education is your best tool to help you navigate the changing real estate market of our times.