Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Arnold's Pad -- Yours for 23M

There are many ways to market a hot listing. It was described this way at

The Ultimate California Lifestyle! An Equestrian compound adjacent to Will Rogers State Park on approx 2.5 acres mostly level. A Completely remodeled seven bedroom estate with a grand master suite and gracious entertainment rooms plus guest house. Other amenities include championship N/S tennis court, pool and spa, huge lawn where you can set up horse jumps or play soccer, duck pond, multiple animal corrals, natural year-round stream. Totally private and secluded...

Curbed .com had bigger pix and was less circumspect with such comments as :"Was this the site of the fateful betrayal?"

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

April Home Sales Reach 4 Month High

New U.S. single-family home sales rose unexpectedly in April to notch their second straight month of gains and prices increased, according to a government report on Tuesday that offered some hope for the stagnant housing market.

The Commerce Department said sales increased 7.3 percent to a seasonally adjusted 323,000 unit annual rate, the highest level since December, from a slightly upwardly revised 301,000-unit pace in March. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast new home sales unchanged at a previously reported 300,000-unit rate. All four regions recorded gains in sales, with the West reporting a 15.1 percent rise.

However, compared to April last year sales were down 23.1 percent.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

New Window on Presby in Bloom

It's almost full bloom time in Montclair's best known gardens. The Essex County Presby Memorial Iris Gardens was established in 1927 to honor Frank H. Presby of Montclair, a leading horticulturalist and a founder of The American Iris Society. This living museum, listed on the State and National Registers of Historic Sites, offers a spectacular display of thousands of iris varieties to visitors from all over the world.

Along with special event info, a great new addition to the informative Presby website is their live webcam. Scroll town to the bottom of the home page and click on a live streaming stop motion overview of the garden that continually displays the blooming irises as well as the flow of visitors around the garden.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Rates Drop for 5th Week In Row

Inman News reported that mortgage rates are down from 4.68 percent last week and 4.84 percent a year ago. There are many local and personal factors that can drop this even lower. Our Zillow calculator (at right) is showing an even lower 4.42%. Rates on 30-year fixed-rate mortgages hit an all-time low in Freddie Mac records dating to 1971 of 4.17 percent during the week ending Nov. 11, 2010, before climbing to a 2011 high of 5.05 percent in February.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The View From the Space Station has compiled a truly awesome selection of the" best of the best" views of the Space Ship Earth from the International Space Station -- courtesy of NASA.

Monday, May 16, 2011

How to Get a Mortgage after a Foreclosure or Short Sale

The guidelines for new mortgages are changing. Everything we take for granted about home loans (and being a home owner) is being debated now in Washington D.C.

Its clear that required mortgage down payments will increase along with other key elements that many of us have taken for granted. For example, there is growing support to eliminate the mortgage interest tax deduction. There are also political rumblings behind getting rid of the ‘As American As Apple Pie’ 30 year mortgage and replacing it with a 15 or 20 year term.

The Real Estate Insider News is reporting that a new approved guideline, the new QRM (Qualified Residential Mortgage) rules will be in full effect April 2012. (Its widely believed that the QRM rules will force minium down payments to increase to 20%). As Fannie and Freddie are ‘scaled down’ and their continued roles in the mortgage markets are in flux expect lots of heated debate about mortgage requirements. Stay tuned and be vigilant.
The question remains, given today’s guidelines what are the absolute bare-minimums to obtain a mortgage?
….and perhaps more interesting…how to obtain a mortgage immediately after a Short Sale. The answer is still the ever popular FHA. Here are the main requirements:

1) 3.5 percent down payment, based on the purchase price of the home (e.g., $7,000 on a $200,000 home), or a gift of that same amount;
2) 3 percent to 6 percent of the purchase price, on top of the down payment, for closing costs, or a credit from the seller of the same amount; and
3) 640 FICO credit score —
Lenders will want you to document income, asset and job history documentation, current paycheck stubs, two months’ bank statements and two years of W-2 forms or tax returns, and:
a minimum of two years have passed since the discharge of a bankruptcy;
a minimum of three years have passed since a foreclosure;
anywhere from zero to three years have passed since a short sale, depending on the circumstances surrounding the short sale.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Sunday Open Houses

Despite the showery weather, we're expecting big turnouts at our office's 16 open houses in North Jersey.
My open house is the lowest priced of the lot by far. 149k for a partially renovated cape.
I'll be at 28 Dietrichs in Little Ferry from 1 to 4.More about this and our other open houses can be seen here.
Geoff Gove 917-370-6400
Century 21 Van Der Wende

Saturday, May 14, 2011

It's Official- Cell Phones are Killing Bees | Inhabitat

The signals cause the bees to become lost and disoriented. The impact has already been felt the world over, as the population of bees in the U.S. and the U.K. has decreased by almost half in the last thirty years – which coincides with the popularization and acceptance of cell phones as a personal device.

Read more: It's Official- Cell Phones are Killing Bees | Inhabitat - Green Design Will Save the World It's Official- Cell Phones are Killing Bees | Inhabitat

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Foreclosures Up in NY/NJ Area while Dropping in Most of US

DS News is reporting that the latest data from RealtyTrac shows foreclosure activity in the U.S. has fallen to its lowest level in 40 months. Filings were reported on 219,258 properties in April, down 34 percent from a year earlier. RealtyTrac says these figures don’t necessarily mean we’ve turned the corner since the slowdown can be traced to delays in processing. The curb in activity wasn’t entirely widespread. Foreclosures hit a new record high in Nevada, while defaults spiked in Massachusetts and New Jersey.

The foreclosure process is taking much longer in some states. The average timeframe from initial default notice to REO in New Jersey and New York was over 900 days in the first quarter of 2011, more than three times the average timeline in the first quarter of 2007 for both states.

Saturday, May 07, 2011

Bin-Ladin Fixer-Upper for Sale in Florida

For sale: Large, abandoned Mediterranean-style home with 5 bedrooms, 5 bathrooms. $1,999,000.

Location:: Just 30 minutes north of DisneyWorld

Notable history: Once owned by Khalil bin Laden, brother of the world’s once most-wanted man, Osama bin Laden. Abandoned after the family fled the U.S. immediately after 9/11, the home sold in 2006, at the height of the Florida real estate boom, for $4,043,800. However, the new owner went bankrupt and was sentenced to prison for fraud.The mansion was then foreclosed on in 2007 and re-listed for sale in 2009.

Unfortunately, the bin Laden home needs a major facelift. The home was marred by vandalism, including broken windows, and other “damages including a safe thrown down a stairway and bullet holes in the walls.” While there has been some interest in the home, real estate agent Autumn Norris-Maker told NBC News that finding financing for a home this run down has always been a sticking point.

More details at

Friday, May 06, 2011

Live Where You Work?

The Live Where You Work program is a home mortgage incentive program that provides low-interest mortgage loans to homebuyers purchasing homes in towns where they are employed. The goal of LWYW is to build stronger communities by promoting homeownership and encouraging people to live closer to their jobs. This, in turn, will reduce the need for cars and increase the use of alternative transportation such as walking, biking and public transit.

If you would like to buy a house in the town where you currently work, then LWYW might be right for you. Employees benefit from attractive mortgage rates, more flexible loan application review and underwriting criteria, and reduced commuting times to work. Municipalities benefit from having a committed workforce living nearby, and the activity and economic vibrancy that comes with people living near where they work.

Eligible Properties: Properties must be located in a participating Live Where You Work municipality. Eligible properties include one-family units, including condominiums, (new and existing), and existing 2 to 4-family unit properties that are more than 5 years old. Some Live Where You Work municipalities include *Urban Target Areas (UTA). In Urban Target Areas eligible properties can also include new two-unit residential dwellings. Properties must be located in State designated Smart Growth locations.

(*) To determine if your proposed house is within an Urban Target Area (UTA), visit the Smart Growth Locator at, follow the instructions and look up UTAs by using the UTA list.

Further details are available on their Fact Sheet or call 1-800-NJ-HOUSE.

Municipalities Currently Participating in the LWYW Program include
• Atlantic City • Jersey City • Paterson • Bayonne • Keyport • Plainfield • Belmar • Morristown • Rahway • Carteret • Neptune • Trenton • Cherry Hill • Newark • Washington Twp • Edgewater Park • New Brunswick • Woodbridge • Elizabeth • Old Bridge • Orange • Passaic

(*) Urban Target Areas (UTA) are based upon census data. To find out if an address is located in a UTA, you will need to identify the census tract within which the address is located. Email me if you would like to be updated on any changes to the above list as a result of the 2010 Census or changes to the Spart Growth parameters.

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Un-Natural Selection -- How We Affect the Evolution of Other Species

Most of us understand the basic mechanism of natural selection: Those creatures that can adapt best to their changing environment survive to reproduce, and those individuals that can't die out.
It turns out that we've become our own unforgiving environment especially in the past century. While animal breeding may be the most pro-active example of man's conscious attempts to speed up the evolutionary proces, there are countless other examples of unnatural selection. From elephant tusks to resistant bacteria, this month's New Scientist lays out a long list showing how we've inadvertently changed the nature of the Flora and Fauna that surround us,

Millions of years ago, the natural environment was shaping us into the species we are now. Today, we create our own environments, which has its consequences for many other species. And we have no one to blame but ourselves.

Star Trek used to emphasize the premise that their planetary explorers should do nothing that would change the natural order of things wherever they landed. What would Captain Kirk say today?