Friday, February 29, 2008

The Big Leap In Jumbo Loans

The less publicized second part of the recently signed Economic Stimulus Package includes a temporary jump(from July through December) in Jumbo home loan limits from from the current $417,000 to about $600,000 in the NY Metro area.
According to the NY Times:

...the Department of Housing and Urban Development will multiply the median sales price for the area by 125 percent. The National Association of Realtors says the area’s median is now $476,100. HUD could use a different source or a combination of sources to determine its median figure. In any case, the agency said it would announce its decision next month.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Record Jury Award for NNJ Asbestos Death

We've dealt with many buyers who've nearly walked away from their Dream Home because of asbestos issues that turned up during the home inspection. If "friable" or exposed in worn insulation, it usually becomes the responsibility of the seller to cure the issue.
In a job related death, it can take years to prove liability in the courts. On Wednesday, a Bergen County jury found two Industrial giants liable for 30.3 million in the death of a former Glen Ridge resident, Mark Buttotta in 2002. He had worked in GM warehouses in Bloomfield(where he grew up) and Englewood.
From AP and

The award is believed to be the largest in New Jersey for mesothelioma, an aggressive lung cancer.

However, Buttitta's father worked there, and his brother also spent summers at the warehouse, their lawyer said. The three men wore the same work clothes for several days "bringing home cancer-causing fibers every day from work, unknowingly letting the microscopic fibers fragments waft throughout their home and settle," said Moshe Maimon, who specializes in asbestos cases.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Railing on Transit

While PATH was celebrating its 80th anniversary with free rides for all today, NJ Transit was pooping at the party in Bloomfield with parking fees for it's popular Grove Street commuter lot. Starting March 1, the daily rate will be $2 or $40 monthly.
Adding insult to injury was the Sunday Times mostly glowing report on NJ Transit Village success stories that singled out Bloomfield lagging efforts. Since winning the designation in 2003, the township is still looking for the light at the end of its tunnelvision:

Nine years after it was officially created, the state's Transit Village program has been extended to 19 communities eligible for grants and aid to revitalize the deteriorated neighborhoods around train and bus stations.

In a number of those communities — notably Hoboken, Jersey City, New Brunswick and Cranford — the program has generated tangible success, with thriving shopping areas and new condominiums and rental apartments enlivening once empty streets.

In other towns, change is clearly in the works. In Montclair, for instance, new housing and retailing is in place beside the downtown train station, and a large mixed-use building is under construction. In a few communities, like Bloomfield and Hamilton, progress has mostly been stalled by local land-use debates.

Right now, though, even as the overall real estate market languishes, developers and analysts report that many Transit Village projects are proceeding and more communities are applying to the program.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Re-Listing Secrets Exposed

Tonight's ABC's Nightline highlighted Realtors' "dirty little secret" for refreshing stale listings featuring NJ's legendary whistleblower--:James Bednar
......[Relisting guru Niece]“So a buyer’s going to be way more positive as they look through a home that says 25 days versus 125 days.”

Niece believes that re-listing is an important marketing tool in tough periods like this, because first impressions are crucial.

But Bednar says re-listing is simply unethical. “As a buyer, it does make me angry,” he said. “I need to know how long a home’s been on the market or what the original price is.”

“Hiding that market information from consumers is wrong, and it’s got to stop,” he added.
Bednar started blogging in 2005 after growing aggravated with realtors during his own house-hunting search.

“The issue here is that when a re-listed home is sold, it skews the market transaction data,” he said. “When an agent typically says they can sell a home in 30 or 60 days, is that really true? If they’ve re-listed a home, that might not necessarily be true.” In an effort to gain access to market data, he actually got a real estate license and a membership with his local listing service. With a few key strokes he can find the true history of any listing in his northern New Jersey neighborhood.

“The most common outcome is probably that a buyer overpayss...."

We never let our buyers make an offer without first checking the property's MLS history.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Blogs R Us

The polls have closed and the results are in from

It seems over a quarter of us are writing web posts!

Simultaneous Media Survey (SIMM 11) studied15,727 participants on the subject of the blogosphere.

26% of all adults say they regularly or occasionally blog.

* Of those, 53.7% are male
* 44.7% are married.
* 28.4% hold a professional or managerial position
* 10.4% are students.

Average age of a blogger? 37.6

More blograta:

* 69.7% of Bloggers are White/Caucasian
* 12.2% are African American/Black
* 3.7% are Asian
* 20% are Hispanic

* 24.6% of registered voters say they regularly or occasionally blog.
* 37.6% of Libertarians regularly/occasionally blog
* Democrats (26.9%)
* Independents (25.7%)
* Republicans (22.9%)

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Renting In the Heart of Rush Hour

From The Star Ledger:

When Catherine Valero tells people where she lives, some assume she's homeless. She and her mother, Karen, live in a train station.

But the pair aren't squatters -- they're renters. For seven years, they have called Montclair's Mountain Avenue Station home.

Theirs is the only home that doubles as an active NJ Transit station,

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Packing It In -- To Save the Landfill

Fellow packrats of the world unite! In our own small way, we're all trying to save the planet.

Ari Derfel likes living with his garbage. He hasn't thrown anything away in more than a year, but he insists he doesn't suffer from any compulsive hoarding disorders.
Rather, Derfel views the bins of bottles, boxes, leaflets, cartons, and wrappers he's stacked in his Berkeley, Calif., home as fruits of a continued meditation about sustainability.

Derfel, 35, is joined by a handful of bloggers who are going to extremes to keep their trash out of the landfill. Motivated by global warming, they say they are fed up with promiscuously packaged, toxic products and other evils of conspicuous consumption they say are trashing the planet.

These pack rats are stashing their trash at home and then writing about, photographing, and even weighing it. They belong to a growing cadre of " lifestyle bloggers" who provide a personal angle to broader issues covered by big-name ecoblogs such as

To avoid packaging, Derfel and other trash bloggers tote reusable bags to the grocery store, carry reusable water canteens, and buy in bulk. They even count their nail clippings, rip off the paper tablecloths from chic restaurants, and fly home with waste from Hawaii vacations. Composting food scraps for garden fertilizer keeps them from dwelling with a vermin-infested stench. "Not In My Backyard" environmentalism it's not.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Housing Sales vs Inventory

From the North Jersey Real Estate Reports comes this revealing comparison of sales to inventory in recent years.(click to enlarge)

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Shooting the Breeze in Wayne

There’s not much talk of property taxes, national politics or even the Giants on Wayne’s NJO forum these days. Topic A is the effect of wind mills on property values.

Wayne has recently won national attention for it’s
pioneering efforts to generate a measurable degree of energy
self-sufficiency with an experimental wind mill and turbine. State agencies and organizations have already taken notice of Wayne's plan. The Sierra Club, the state League of Municipalities and the New Jersey Public Interest Research Group have all praised it.

Robert Burke recently announced plans to add his own wind mill and turbines to his “eco-friendly “Auto Spa” on Wayne’s Hamburg Pike.
His proposal comes before the town’s zoning board Feb. 11, but most Wayne residents seem to already have a position on the issue.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Slowing Developers

If you're interested in what others have to say about the Slow Home movement check out this site. is one of the best sites we've seen for resources and inspiration for sensible development and planning.