Monday, December 31, 2012

2012 Highlights

These thumbnails suggest some of the factors that helped make this a turnaround year for Real Estate.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Independent Foreclosure Review Deadline is Monday

The program stems from orders issued by the Treasury to “14 large residential mortgage servicers and two third-party vendors,” according to a statement from the Treasury’s Office of the Comptroller of the Currency In April 2011, the government determined that 16 companies had used “unsafe and unsound practices related to residential mortgage servicing and foreclosure processing,” the statement said.

As a result of those determinations, the consent orders were issued. The orders require the servicers to pay for independent consultants to evaluate whether borrowers lost money because of the servicers’ bad behavior during foreclosure proceedings. If the independent reviewer finds errors in a particular case, the servicer is required to pay restitution to the harmed borrower or offer some other form of remediation — including the suspension or cancellation of a foreclosure.

But the opportunity for homeowners to apply for a no-cost review by a third-party consultant is coming to a close. Homeowners who “believe they suffered financial injury as a result of errors, misrepresentations, or other deficiencies in foreclosure proceedings related to their primary residence between January 1, 2009 and December 31, 2010” must submit a request for the review of their foreclosure proceedings by Dec. 31, the Comptroller of the Currency’s Office said.

Examples of injuries that homeowners may have suffered because of errors include, but are not limited to: a foreclosure sale that occurred while the homeowner was waiting for a decision on a mortgage modification, a balance at the time of foreclosure that was higher than what was actually owed and a foreclosure that went forward although the homeowner was following a loan modification plan.

Monday, December 17, 2012

At Home With the Hobbits

Probably the real reason Tolkien put the hobbits in earth sheltered houses is that he knew them from Ireland and Iceland, two countries where people did it because it was much warmer in the winter. It so happens that it is also much cooler in the summer. has put together a grand tour of the latest in hobbit-friendly housing.
They point out that many of these home building techniques have been around for thousands of years.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Harp 2 is Humming Along.

The Home Affordable Refinance Program was launched in early-2009. It was meant to give homeowners whose homes had lost value access to the same low rates as everyone else. The recession had started, mortgage rates had been dropping, and the government wanted to use HARP as economic stimulus.

As homeowners refinanced in California, Arizona, Florida and Michigan, among other states, monthly mortgage payments were reduced, helping households to save or spend to meet other financial needs.
The original HARP program, however, failed to gain much traction because of loan-to-value (LTV) restrictions and far-reaching default liability which was placed on banks making HARP loans.

So, to help broaden HARP's base, the program was re-written and relaunched in October 2011. "HARP 2", as the program is commonly called, was meant to expand the reach of the Home Affordable Refinance Program and it has. Prior to HARP 2, the refinance program was reaching fewer than 30,000 households monthly, tallying fewer than one million closed loans through its first 30 months. Since March 2012, the Home Affordable Refinance Program has nearly tripled its volume, closing 87,000 loans per month, on average.

More than 1,000,000 HARP loans are expected for 2012. While HARP 2 is considered a success, the program likely to fall short of its original goal to help 7,000,000 U.S. households. This is just one reason why Congress has considered launching HARP 3. More details can be found in Dan Green's Mortgage Report.

Saturday, December 08, 2012

Fully Insured? Allstate's Not Sure....

Just posted on Facebook by Tori Cardinale, a Staten Islander friend of a friend:
HI Everyone, This is my house. We walked in through a HOLE in the front to the entire first floor COMPLETELY gone. We are fully insured. Allstate had just quoted us on the amount we are receiving. $165.38. Notice the RED tag on the door (WE ARE NOT ALLOWED IN) This is not acceptable, and basically a slap in the face. Please re-post this, Share or Whatever everyone does to make this Viral. To make Allstate know what its like to be jerked around, we are hanging the Banner in hopes of some Media Attention. Everyone who was helping from the storm, Just repost this! Thanks!

Friday, December 07, 2012

Unemployment Falls Along with Mortgage Rates

 Sandy blew a hole in not in the nation’s labor market but economists’ crystal balls as the economy added 146,000 jobs and the unemployment rate fell to 7.7 percent, the lowest level since December.

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Half-way Back to Normall -- Almost

Each month, Trulia’s Housing Barometer charts how quickly the housing market is moving back to “normal.” We summarize three key housing market indicators: construction starts (Census), existing-home sales (NAR), and the delinquency+ foreclosure rate (LPS First Look). For each indicator, we compare this month’s data to (1) how bad the numbers got at their worst and (2) their pre-bubble “normal” levels.

In October 2012, all three housing measures improved: construction starts increased again, existing-home sales rose, and the delinquency + foreclosure rate dropped considerably. Even though construction and sales declined month-over-month in the Northeast region, stronger activity in the rest of the country outweighed the impact of Hurricane Sandy.

Sunday, December 02, 2012

"Modern Family" is Becoming New Model for Modern Families

The multi-Emmy award winning sitcom Modern Family may have seemed to some viewers to be atypical, but recent economic and cultural changes have made it a new reality for a growing number of extended families.

"We've seen a 25 percent increase in demand for multigenerational housing structures over the past two years and expect to see more,"
said Luis Tusino, CEO of the GBI-Avis building group, which specializes in building custom modular homes.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Sea Levels Rising 60% Faster Than Expected is reporting that new research from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research shows that global sea level rise is happening 60% faster than IPCC projections, even though temperatures are rising much as expected.
The new findings highlight that the IPCC is far from being alarmist, and in fact in some cases rather underestimates possible risks. So how fast are sea levels actually rising? This latest research, based on satellite data, shows that sea levels are rising on average 3.2mm each year—and not because of any temporary event like ice discharges from the ice sheets of Greenland or Antarctica, or because of internal variability in the climate system.

Friday, November 23, 2012

The Vanishing FSBO

During the last five years of the downturn in Real Estate, For Sale signs have been a familiar sight on most major streets. But one of the biggest casualties of the sluggish housing market has been the Realtors call these sellers "Fizzbo's" and have been increasingly successful in converting them to happy clients. In the past 20 years,the percentage of sellers who sell on their own has dropped from 19% to about 10%.

Most of those who choose to go it alone either have s background in Real Estate or know their buyers personally. Even then, buyers feel uncomfortable looking at a home with the seller looking over their shoulders. Even if the seller steps outside, the buyer is acutely aware that the seller is paying close attention to how long the buyer spends in the home. Buyers tend to leave much more quickly if the seller is nearby.

 One shift we’re seeing is that FSBOs are increasingly private transactions. In 2003, the first year NAR started looking at the question, a little more than a third of FSBOs, or 36 percent, knew who their buyers were upfront. By last year, that number had increased to 50 percent. That’s a 38 percent shift.

That suggests FSBOs are increasingly hesitant to go it alone unless they have their buyer lined up before they take the plunge

Monday, November 19, 2012

Mortgage Programs for 620 and Up FICOs

Our local go-to guy on mortgage approvals,  Ken Lombardi,  just posted this useful update on his FB page:
Today, stocks are up, so it looks like rates may edge up. After election thet dropped, but now it looks like we may retreat from the lows, so act fast. Dont forget November is when the bond market fiscal year ends, thats why rates rise in Nov. and Dec. They are taking huge profits they made this year!. Important, new data shows average person closing on a real estate transaction has a 760 credit score. The 620-660 market is not taking advantage of low rates and the best time in history ever to buy!!
They may think they cant get a loan, because banks want 700 or better in most cases. We have special programs for people down to 620 scores, lower for VA. Call me for details, Yes there are even no money down programs where closings costs are paid. Buying or refinancing.
We are a full service Mortgage Banker with our own funds, we can help!! 973-632-3487.
Get informed and know how to get prepared
As if to prove his prediction, Zillow 30 year rates, in column at right, have today just jumped from 3.2& to 3.27%.

Just tell him Geoff sent you!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

2 - 4 Legged Food Drives for Sandy Victims

The Four Legged Food Drive aims to bring pet food to dogs cats who are victims of the home foreclosure crisis, through your donations. This year, Keller Wiliams Realty in Montclair is leading the drive to feed pets that have fallen victim to Hurricane Sandy. Most are in the devastated NJ Shore towns.

For the rest of our two legged folks in North Essex, we're assisting the Food Pantry of Montclair.  Right now, they're looking for donations of Thanksgiving related food. For their ongoing needs, check out their website.

Monday, November 12, 2012

The ABC's of 203k's

You don't have to be a victim of Sandy's wrath to get government help for home repairs and renovations. Whether you're a first time buyer looking for a great deal in a home that needs a little TLC, or you own a home that is overdue for an upgrade, a 203k loans may be the perfect solution. It's not a new program, having been around for over 30 years but, since it was streamlined in 1994, it is now far and away the fastest growing home repair loan program.

The Federal Housing Administration has specified that their 203k loans must be for improvements that cost at least $5,000, and work must be completed within 6 months. For small projects under $35,000 you may want to use a Streamlined 203k instead; the process is less cumbersome.

 If you underestimate costs, you cannot increase your loan amount so it's important to work with good contractors. Interest rates on FHA 203k loans are a little higher than other FHA loans (by about
1% or so), so you’ll pay more over the life of your loan.

Lenders have to do extra work to track your project and lock an interest rate for the longer application process. However, FHA 203k loans are guaranteed so lenders have less risk. Rates may still be lower than you can find without FHA backing.

Thursday, November 08, 2012

DEP Issues Water Conservation Advisory for NNJ

In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, DEP Commissioner Don Martin has issued the following advisory:
We are asking residents and businesses served by the PVSC to heed the Governor’s Executive Order for mandatory water use restrictions, and to be even more diligent in conserving water to help us reduce the flow of effluents into the harbor and limit environmental impacts until we get this plant fully operational.
Among the restrictions:

  • All indoor water use, including showers, baths and domestic cleaning, must be conducted with minimum amounts of water.
  • Non-essential indoor water use is prohibited.
  • Watering of grass, lawns and landscapes is prohibited except for newly sodded or seeded areas done by professional. landscapers or immediately following a commercial application of fertilizer, pesticide or herbicides; minimum amount of water should be used during these applications.
  • Use of water for washing paved surfaces, such as streets, sidewalks, driveways, garages, parking lots and patios is prohibited.
  • Outdoor use of water for ornamental or aesthetic purposes, including fountains, artificial waterfalls, and reflecting pools is prohibited, except to preserve or support wildlife.
  • Use of water for power washing of buildings is prohibited except for commercial enterprises engaged in power washing, and with minimum water use.
  • Car and truck washing, except for emergency vehicles, is prohibited.

Monday, November 05, 2012

Still Recovering from Sandy? FEMA Can Help

More than 49,000 have registered with FEMA in NJ for disaster relief and more than $31M in assistance has already been approved. A major disaster declaration has been issued for 12 NJ Counties. The number of those assisted will continue to increase as residential power is restored and those affected are able to register for assistance with FEMA online, as well as through their 800#.

If you live in one of the counties affected by Hurricane Sandy, we encourage you to apply for assistance by calling 1-800-621-FEMA(3362) TTY 1-800-462-7585 or if you have access to the internet, applying online at You can download a FEMA smartphone app here.

The SBA, Small Business Administration, is making Economic Injury Disaster Loans available to small businesses and most private non-profit organizations in eligible Counties. Disaster loans up to $2 million to repair or replace disaster damaged or destroyed real estate, machinery and equipment, inventory, and other business assets are available at low interest rates.

 Apply at: Find the nearest FEMA Disaster Recovery Center by inputting an address at the following site:

Friday, November 02, 2012

Power Failures From the Top Down

I don't usually agree with NY Post editorial views, but their cover story on Mayor Bloomberg's making Sunday's NY Marathon a priority over the region's current crisis with power outages and gas shortages reflects a good chunk of public opinion.
It reinforces today's comments by Steve Crooks, good friend who is always thinking out side the box. He just posted this observation on his Facebook wall:
I'm wondering, who remembers the oil embargo back in the '70s? The closed-up gas stations everywhere, the long lines? Remember 'odd and even days'? Why on Earth isn't some genius mandating something like that? Or some alphabetical system? At least you would KNOW when your turn was! Because these endless gas station lines are obscene, glutting up traffic and eating away at our police forces, just to keep the peace. Jesus, during World War II the federal government was rationing EVERYTHING, and the general public pitched in for the effort. Are our current officials so gun-shy that they are afraid, with an election coming on, to mandate ANYTHING, even if it were the smart thing to do? What say you? Because I really want to know...

Maybe our local governors could learn from the past and  get a bit more pro-active in dealing with this escalating crisis.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Some Useful Emergency Links for Sandy

Here's a new one for PSE&G tweeted updates on power restoration:

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Outlook for Continued Western Drought

Forbes recently reported, "Droughts, floods, hurricanes and other extreme weather cost the U.S. economy at least $55 billion in 2011, according to NOAA, with 14 separate events exceeding $1 billion. The devastating drought and associated wildfires in Texas and Oklahoma alone cost American crop farmers $7.6 billion and the cotton and cattle industries around $5.4 billion."
(click on Graphic to enlarge it.)

Saturday, October 27, 2012

6 of the Most Common Errors in Your Credit Report

Your credit report tells the world a lot about you. What if it's saying something it shouldn't? Can you dispute your credit report?

The short answer is "yes." But before you raise that red flag, you should know about the types of errors that typically occur, and which ones are more harmful than others.
As more Americans learn how to pull their credit histories, many are finding their reports aren't giving a clear picture to potential creditors.

Read more: When Should You Dispute Credit Report? |

Thursday, October 25, 2012

20 Creative Uses for Duct Tape

With the impending arrival of The Frankenstorm to much of the east coast, there's beginning to be a mad rush to a variety of local stores load up on survival items. Duct tape is one of those things you never want to run out of. It can do wonders for minimizing and repairing damage, stopping leaks, patching broken glass. and reinforcing weakened structures.

If all goes well, the folks at have some suggestions for using up your stash --  starting with Halloween.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

QE3 Policy Pushes Rates Lower -- Trump Says "Buy Now!"

Although skeptical about the third round of "Quantitative Easing," Donald Trump agrees that this is a better time than ever to buy or refinance: "Try buying the house from a bank, because if you buy it from a bank, they'll loan you the money to buy it because they want to get it off their books, so it's a great time to buy a house. Pick a beautiful house, enjoy yourselves, and try buying it from a bank."

Maybe another reason why rates are hitting new record lows. Our Zillow calculator(at right now) shows a 40 year ragte of 3.25%.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

New Housing Permits Rise to 4 Year High

New-home construction in the U.S. surged in September to the highest level in four years, a sign the industry is on the road to recovery. Housing sta
rts overall have jumped 15 percent to an 872,000 annual rate last month.

It's the largest increase since July 2008 and surpasses all forecasts in a Bloomberg survey of economists, Commerce Department figures showed today in Washington. The median estimate of 81 economists surveyed by Bloomberg called for 770,000. An increase in building permits may mean the gains will be sustained.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

When Modern Homes Become Abandoned Relics

Flavorwire has just posted a stunning collection of "contemporary" homes from around the world which, for a variety of reasons, are not currently livable.

Most are salvageable "fixer-uppers" that may be patched up, renovated, or redesigned for current tastes. There are a few major markets where you can now find Realtors who specialize in what can best be described as "mid-century modern."

Saturday, October 06, 2012

Positive Job Report Causes Uptick in Mortgage Rates

The September jobs report hit at 8:30 AM ET Friday and mortgage bonds immediately worsened, eventually closing the day at their worst levels in two weeks. This is in part because economic growth is inversely linked to mortgage rates, and in part because of the Federal Reserve's QE3 program.
The link between job growth and mortgage rates is fairly straight-forward :
  • When more people work, more income is earned and more taxes are paid  
  • When more income is earned, consumer spending tend to rise; when more taxes are collected, government spending tends to rise
  • An increase in spending results in more sales, more services, and the need for more jobs
Job growth can be a self-reinforcing cycle; one that leads to economic growth and, in general, when the economy is improving, mortgage rates tend to rise. That said, today's rates are still very close to their wll time lows. As of Saturday AM, our Zillpw calculater at right has updated to 3.23%.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Jersey Shore May Be Shore No More By 2052

Inhabitat is sharing studies showing that the entire stretch of east coast beach is slowly sinking due to rising water levels, and global warming is the culprit.

The area’s Long Beach Island has been identified as the highest risk location, but some researchers say the whole shore could be underwater in just 40 years. Area residents and summer transplants have been busily adding height to sand dunes and trying to replenish shoreline sand in an effort not to lose their summer getaways, but if climate change continues steadily on the path its been traveling on, those efforts will all be in vain.

Read more: Scientists Say Entire Jersey Shore Could Be Underwater in 40 Years | Inhabitat New York City

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Big Jump in August Existing Home Sales and New Starts

From DSNews: Existing home sales rose 7.8 percent to 4.82 million in August – the highest level since May 2010 – the National Association of Realtors reported Wednesday.

The median price of an existing single-family home in August was $187,400, down $400 from July but up $16,200 or 9.5 percent from August 2011. The August increase was the strongest since January 2006 when the median price rose 10.2 percent from a year earlier.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

NJ Defaults Still on the Rise

Bloomberg News is reporting via that our state passed Nevada in the second quarter in the rate of homeowners with seriously delinquent loans -- those 90 days late or in foreclosure -- according to the Mortgage Bankers Association. Only Florida had a higher rate of serious delinquencies, and that fell 1.2 percentage points from a year earlier to 17.5 percent of mortgages. In comparison, New Jersey’s rose 1.3 percentage points to 12.7 percent.

While home values increased in July from a year earlier in 42 states, New Jersey prices fell 0.8 percent, according to CoreLogic.
Higher-income markets, such as New Jersey’s Morris and Bergen counties, will probably avoid the worst pain because there’s a shortage of homes and when distressed properties are listed, “the housing market will swallow them whole,” according to Jeffrey G. Otteau, president of Otteau Valuation Group Inc.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Falling Into the Best Time of Year for Home Buyers

AOL Real Estate is reminding us that the real estate market supposedly shines in the spring and summer sun, but fall is where the deals are found.

 Existing home sales are up more than 10 percent since last year, while the price of those homes has risen 9.4% over the same span, according to the National Association of Realtors.

Meanwhile, the backlog of homes on the market has dwindled 31 percent from a more than nine-month supply of 3.15 million last July to a 6.4-month supply of 2.4 million this summer.

Sunday, September 02, 2012

Options for Avoiding Foreclosure

If you have missed a payment or payments or feel that you will soon miss a payment because your mortgage is no longer affordable to you, you should call your mortgage servicer. The number should be on your monthly mortgage bill or coupon book. You may also contact a housing counseling agency in the county in which you live. See pages 3 and 4 of the Foreclosure Fast Fact sheet for a list of counseling agencies.
The counseling agencies listed here are non-profit, HUD certified and trained in foreclosure prevention. On top of the list, for struggling New Jersey homeowners, facing a quickening rate of foreclosures, are supposed to have a lifeline: the HomeKeeper program, run by the state and funded with $300 million from the federal bank bailout. But 15 months after the program was launched, the state says only 10 percent of that money has been spent, to help just 750 homeowners. According to a report from a U.S. special inspector general, New Jersey has drawn the lowest percentage of federal money available to the 18 "hardest-hit" states. Call Today, Do Not Delay! The sooner you call the more options you will have.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

NY, NJ, Still Among Leading States in Foreclosure Inventory

NY's  Real Deal blog reports that there were a recorded 58,000 completed foreclosures across America in July 2012 — down nearly 7 percent month-over-month and 19 percent year-over-year, according to data released today by CoreLogic. However, both New York and New Jersey ranked among the five states with the highest foreclosure inventory. More specifically, New Jersey ticked in at 5.7 percent — making it take the second-highest foreclosure inventory — and New York at 5.2 percent, right behind New Jersey. 

Speculation about the reason for the growing number of foreclosed properties in New York centered around a major backlog of distressed properties still making their way through the court system.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Home Sales Improve Despite Mortgage Hurdles

Signs continue to come in that the housing market is seeing slow but steady improvement, although overly tight lending standards continue to hold back the market given the amount of pent-up demad that’s out there.

Existing-home sales increased 2.3 percent in July from a month earlier to a sales pace of 4.47 million. The new pace is more than 10 percent above where it was at this time last year.

And the median home sales price is up significantly as well, to $187,300, or 9.4 percent higher than this time last year, although NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun in his monthly press conference in Washington yesterday attributed the gain to an increase in sales of high-cost homes. Sales of homes at the $100,000 or less price point declined nationally, reflecting the continuing shortgage of distressed and other inventory in markets around the country.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

NYC's Ultimate Trailer Park

"Trailer Park" is a portable, natural, public park housed inside an 18' x 8’ x 7' mobile Coachmen Travel Trailer. The interior is fully planted, designed, and treated as a "real" park. Hand-laid brick planter beds containing lush shrubs, trees, and plants are complimented by masonry laid in the same tradition as public parks. Concrete and wooden benches provide seating. Skylights allow rain and air to pass to the plants below.

It's probably the best know creation of Kim Holleman, a prominent environmental artist based in Bushwick, Brooklyn. Since its first showing at The Storefront For Art and Architecture, Trailer Park has shown in Chelsea, Soho, The Lower East Side, The Cooper Union, The Supreme Court at Foley Square and continues to evolve as a community based project.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Beware of Foreclosure Prevention Scams

Some of the worst perpetrators have been in New Jersey. NEWARK, N.J. – A Piscataway man who owned and operated multiple foreclosure rescue companies was sentenced today to 46 months in prison for his role in a mortgage fraud scheme that defrauded numerous mortgage lenders of more than $10 million, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced. The details are worth keeping in mind.

Thursday, August 09, 2012

Rent Rises Lead to Shrinking Apartment Sizes

Rents nationwide are rising faster than home prices, leading several major cities to encourage developers to develop more apartment complexes. Some cities believe the answer is to shrink the minimum apartment size, to build 'micro-units' for singles and couples.

Good Magazine reports that San Francisco is currently considering a proposal that would allow living spaces as small as 150 square feet, plus kitchenette, bathroom, and closet -- basically the size of a parking space and a one-car garage. The immediate goal is to create more housing and lower rent prices, which in San Francisco climbed 15 percent in June.

(Condos aren't immune from this trend. The 175 sq. ft, studio pictured here recently sold in Manhattan for 195k.)

Boston is talking about shrinking the minimum unit size from 450 to 350 square feet, and New York recently introduced the adAPT challenge to design 275-300 square-foot apartments in Manhattan, addressing the fact that some 800,000 people are expected to move to the Big Apple over the next 20 years, and there's only room for about 100,000 of them.

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Phelps Waterfront Condo For Sale

Since winning 19 Olympic medals this week, Michael Phelps is ready to move on.

The Olympic swimmer’s name is reportedly not mentioned in the actual listing, but Baltimore property records indicate the address is the condo Phelps bought in 2007 for $1.69 million. It was assessed for $1.5 million in 2010.  The 4,000-square-foot condo has three bedrooms, three and a half baths, floor-to-ceiling windows and a fireplace.

There are not only Real Estate sites that specialize in celebrity homes, but there are also sites that only track celebrity athletes' homes. One such site is

 Radar online has the pictures.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Rates Down Again As Prices Finally Turn Back Up

“After four months with rising home values and increasingly positive forecast data, it seems clear that the country has hit a bottom in home values,” said Zillow Chief Economist Dr. Stan Humphries. “The housing recovery is holding together despite lower-than-expected job growth, indicating that it has some organic strength of its own.” The chart(click to enlarge) shows recent price changes in major U.S. markets. More charts and predictions from

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Looking to Invest in Some Green Land?

For several days this month, Greenland's surface ice cover melted over a larger area than at any time in more than 30 years of satellite observations. Nearly the entire ice cover of Greenland, from its thin, low-lying coastal edges to its two-mile-thick center, experienced some degree of melting at its surface, according to measurements from three independent satellites analyzed by NASA and university scientists.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

FHA Introduces New Distressed Sale Asset Program

On Monday, the Federal Housing Administration is announcing the expansion of the Distressed Asset Sale Program (DASP).

This program is not quite the same bulk sale program being offered by the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) and the government sponsored enterprises, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
The DASP is a “paper sale” where FHA sells the loans, in bulk, to investors in a competitive bid process. The loans can only be sold after the borrower has gone through the entire FHA loss mitigation process.

Prior to the formal foreclosure proceeding the loans are sold to investors. The Foreclosure is delayed for at least six months while the investor attempts a work out with the borrower (short sale, loan modification, etc.). As many as half of the loans sold are retained by the investor -- if there is not a work out to avoid flooding local markets.

FHA initially hoped to sell 5,000 loans quarterly but decided to increase it's goal to 9,000 loans.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Teenager's Plan to Turn Plastic Waste Into Biofuel

Egyptian teenagers are on a roll lately – if they’re not proposing the next-generation of space propulsion systems, then they’re figuring out how to use the country’s plastic waste for fuel! Sixteen-year-old Azza Abdel Hamid Falad has found that an inexpensive catalyst could be used to create $78 million worth of biofuel each year. Egypt’s plastic consumption is estimated to total one million tons per year, so Azza’s proposal could transform the country’s economy, allowing it to make money from recycled plastic.
More from Inhabitat

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Tax-Lien Foreclosures on the Rise

A report released this week by the National Consumer Law Center (NCLC), says the number of foreclosures tied to delinquent tax payments is climbing. The NCLC, an advocacy group, estimates that $15 billion of tax-lien foreclosures happened in 2010, the latest year for which data are available. Rising tax-lien problems stem from two overlapping trends associated with the weak economy: To close budget deficits, some local governments are increasing proxy taxes to raise additional revenue. But a growing number of homeowners, many unemployed or living on fixed incomes, are finding those tax bills—even before rate increases—a strain. When homeowners fail to pay, municipalities have the legal authority to foreclose or auction off the tax lien to debt collectors, who can charge interest rates as high as 50% on the outstanding balances. If the homeowner doesn't pay —- the deadlines to do so vary across the nation —- many states allow the tax-lien holders to take ownership of the properties and resell them.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

7 Ways to Kill Weeds With Household Items

Here are 7 ways to murder weeds with household items. You’ll save money and show no mercy to your garden’s uninvited guests. Nothing ruins your garden or yard like weeds, those uninvited guests that rob your plants of space and nutrients. So murder those weeds most foul, but without harmful chemicals that can do you in, too. Who says you need standard weeding tools to kill weeds? Here are 7 ways to kill weeds with weapons you already have around your house. Details from Lisa Kaplan Gordon in HouseLogic: (REMINDER: You can find dozens of other House Logic articles at your convenience, by scrolling down the right hand column)

Saturday, July 07, 2012

Christie Vetoes Foreclosure Relief Bill

Law 360 reports that Gov. Chris Christie, on Friday, vetoed legislation empowering the state to buy foreclosed properties from lenders and turn them into affordable housing along with other measures from the Democrat-controlled Legislature.

 The veto drew criticism from supporters of the bill, who contend it would have helped New Jersey address its affordable housing needs and revitalize communities impacted by a wave of foreclosures in the state.
 Said one supporter: “The governor took the side of sprawl and overdevelopment over good planning and environmental protection."

 Another commented:"This was a serious bill that attempted to solve the most serious problem still facing this state and this country. We need to stabalized our housing prices. This would have done more than any tax cut would ever do to stimulate our economy."

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

One Family's Independence Insurrection

This is a day for reflecting on our country's roots in the human need for "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." For my extended family, I can't help reflecting on my ancestor's little known contribution to the revolutionary fervor that culminated in the events of 1776.  Doug Gove has submitted the following account of the man he calls "my grandfather":

     Traveling back in time out 308 years. The King has given Robert Tufton Mason the authority to take care of the affairs of the new province. He is a failure and appoints Unprincipled Governor Cranfield to become his tool. The governor disbands the January 1683 assembly. The people considered this an unreasonable act and an unwarrantable abuse of power. Most however, though indignant at Cranfield's conduct, considered themselves good citizens and remained passive. Not so for Gove and a few others under his leadership who, in the exuberance of patriotism, "determined to revolutionize the government or at least to effect a reform." Friday, January 26, 1688, Reuben Hull, a Portsmouth merchant, was in Dover to pick up. a load of barrel hoops when he met Gove who had his sword and boots on, and said to him, "How now Gove, where are you bound? What's the matter with you?"
"Matter?" said Gove, "matter enough. We at Hampton have had a town meeting and we resolved as one man that. things shall not be carried on as it is like to be, and we have all our guns ready to stand upon our guard. I have been at Exeter and they are resolved to do the same. I have my sword at my side, and brought my carbine also with me which I have left some where."
Gove undoubtedly expected that when his arrest was attempted, there would be resistance and then a general uprising. It didn't happen. He returned to Hampton Saturday,Jan.27,1683. He and 11 other rebels, all on horseback, moved in two lines into the tiny colonial village on the New Hampshire Seacoast, shouting, "Freemen, come out and stand for your liberties."
Led by Gove, they were nearly all from Hampton, with their leader waving his sword and the trumpeter sounding their arrival with a military medley. Gove, seeing no demonstration in his favor at his appearance, lay down his arms and gave himself up to the authorities of the town, as did the others.
They were taken into custody by the militia, except the trumpeter, who escaped. They were brought before the governor and his council, where Gove behaved himself very insolently. Each of the prisoners then defended himself and his activities. Edward Gove acknowledged that the testimony against him was true. He "railed" at Governor Cranfield, saying he was a traitor and acted under a pretended commission and demeaned himself with "insolence and impudence." Judge Richard Waldren pounded his mallet, then solemnly pronounced the sentence. (The followers of Gove were to be held for a later judgment, and most of them were pardoned).
"You, Edward Gove, be drawn on a hedge to the place of execution, and there you shall be hanged by ye neck, and when yet living, be cut down and cast on the ground, and your bowels shall be taken out of your belly, and your privy member cut off and burnt while you are yet alive, your head shall be cut off and your body divided in four parts, and your head and quarters shall be placed where our Sovereign Lord the King pleaseth to appoint. And the Lord have mercy on your soul."
After the trial in Portsmouth in Feb. 1683, Cranfield, fearing to execute the sentence on Gove, sent him to England for the King to deal with. Gove was on board the ship Richard of Boston when it left port March 29. The Tower of London is in the east end of the city, a group of stone buildings including an ancient fortress, a dark prison, and a royal residence surrounded by a shallow moat and a high stone wall. This was the destination of Edward Gove, where he was sadly to spend the next three years. Many letters were written by the prisoner and people on his behalf during this time. Finally, Gove, in his cell, took up his quill pen and sent a petition to the King which brought results. In it he stated, "want of rest for 18 days before my apprehension deprived your Petitioner of the use of his reason and the control of his tongue and was the cause of your Petitioner's indiscreet actions towards the said Mr. Cranfield." He was released on his own recognizance to plead his pardon April 9, 1686. After Gove's incarceration in the the spring of 1683, the rule under Cranfield continued in its arbitrary and cruel manner.
From the Gove Book, written by William Henry Gove and published at Salem, Mass., in 1922, most of the preceding information has been researched. The author wrote, "the people were horrified at the bloody sentence of Gove and cried aloud for vengeance. It was already whispered about that public meetings would be held to express the indignation at the baseness of the manner in which the conviction was obtained and the cruel barbarity of the sentence, which was intended to awe the people into submission. It had a directly contrary effect." Like returning from the dead, Gove came back to his home and renewed his life in Hampton. He had the respect of the people of the province. From the earliest days of the Province of New Hampshire, Gove was involved in its government. He was elected as a member of the assembly from Hampton. He must have known the widespread disaffection and determination of the people not to yield to the demands of the Cranfield regime, and his views were well known to them because of his outspoken sentiments. He was thought to be the right man for the assembly. Gove died in Hampton on July 29, 1691, at the age of 61. He always contended that a slow poison was administered to him while in prison.

Monday, July 02, 2012

Global Burning Predictions Become Reality

Nearly two years ago, President Obama's science adviser, Dr. John Holdren, gave a presentation on the causes and effects of global warming. One of his slides indicated the areas in the west that were most susceptible to fires for each additional degree of average annual temperature. Since 16 of the past 17 years have broken all historic records, this summer's fire outbreaks should come as no surprise.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Building Permit Extension Expected to Become Law Despite Eco-Opposition

Despite strong opposition from NJ Environmental groups, a bill extending expiring building permits to 2014 to help developers in a sluggish economy has passed both houses of the state legislature. The NJ Sierra Club's Jeff Tittel has strongly criticized the measure: “This bill targets environmentally sensitive areas throughout New Jersey especially the Highlands, Pinelands, and Barnegat Bay. This legislation takes the side of developers interests over public interest. It takes the side of sprawl and over development over protecting water supply and natural resources.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Pending Home Sales Bounce Back

Showing more evidence of a receding "buyers market," pending home sales bounced back in May, matching the highest level in the past two years, and are well above year-ago levels, according to the National Association of Realtors. Both monthly and annual gains were seen in every region. The Pending Home Sales Index, a forward-looking indicator based on contract signings, rose 5.9 percent to 101.1 in May from 95.5 in April and is 13.3 percent above May 2011 when it was 89.2. The data reflect contracts but not closings. The index also reached 101.1 in March, which is the highest level since April 2010 when buyers were rushing to beat the deadline for the home buyer tax credit.

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, said longer term comparisons are more relevant. “The housing market is clearly superior this year compared with the past four years. The latest increase in home contract signings marks 13 consecutive months of year-over-year gains,” he said. “Actual closings for existing-home sales have been notably higher since the beginning of the year and we’re on track to see a 9 to 10 percent improvement in total sales for 2012.” The national median existing-home price is expected to rise 3.0 percent this year and another 5.7 percent in 2013. “If housing starts do not rise in a meaningful way over the next two years due to the difficulty in getting construction loans, and barring an unexpected shift in the economy, the steady shedding of inventory could lead to shortages where home prices could get bid up close to 10 percent in 2013,” Yun said.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Slicing the NNJ Job Pie

New Jersey's economy is growing, but decelerated from last month's 1.22% change and lags the rest of the nation.
(Click on graphic to enlarge)

Housing Trends eNewsletter is filled with U.S. Census Bureau key market indicators, consumer videos, blogs, a real estate glossary, mortgage rates and calculators, consumer articles, real estate radio, local community reports and local and national real estate sales and price activity provided by local MLSs and the National Association of REALTORS®. At right is a small sample tof the charts and stats included in my monthly Housing Trends eNewsletter. You can find this month's NNJ area newsletter here. To join my mailing list for future newsletters, drop me email at

Saturday, June 23, 2012

MegaDeveloper Pays EPA Mega Fines for Pollution in 23 States

The Times of Trenton reports that Toll Brothers Inc., one of the nation's largest homebuilders, will pay a $741,000 civil penalty for violating the Clean Water Act at 600 developments in 23 states, including dozens in New Jersey.

The consent agreement — negotiated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Justice Department and authorities in Maryland and Virginia — includes hundreds of water pollution violations. Toll Brothers also will invest in a company-wide stormwater compliance program to improve employee training and increase management oversight at all current and future residential construction sites across the nation. The company is required to inspect its current and future construction sites routinely to minimize stormwater runoff.

The company allegedly failed to comply with permits issued under the Clean Water Act that resulted in the discharge of pollutants from construction through stormwater runoff, settlement documents said. New Jersey had 43 sites that violated the federal law, the second largest number out of the 23 states.

The company allegedly failed to comply with permits issued under the Clean Water Act that resulted in the discharge of pollutants from construction through stormwater runoff, settlement documents said. Toll Brothers will pay a civil penalty of $741,000 to resolve the alleged violation of the Clean Water Act. About $702,000 will go to the federal government, with smaller amounts going to Maryland and Virginia. Toll Bros. Inc. have, so far, declined any comment on the settlement.

New Jersey will not receive any of the settlement money since it did not report any of the violations to the EPA or participate in the settlement. (Readers of this blog may recall our post on NJDEP's new LSRP policy and how it is letting the DEP skirt it;s responsibility for oversight of pollution violations. Is the DEP intentionally ignoring it's own regulations? Many environmental groups are coming to this conclusion.  NJ Spotlight has published an  interactive map of the NJ sites for which the Toll Bros. have made setttlemrent agreements.
(Photo by Geoff Gove)

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Steal of an Island Deal in NYC

Who would have thought that you can still find waterfront property in New York City for less than a standard 50 x 100 foot lot in suburban NNJ?

Alex Schibli was thrilled to learn, last fall, that he made the winning bid of $176,000 for a 2.6 acre "fixer upper" island off the South Bronx. The 72 year old retired Port Authority worker who lives on nearby City Island is planning to build his dream home on the stone foundation of the previous house.

That structure was flattened by a hurricane in 1938. Schibli and his 61 year old girl friend are planning to build an eco-friendly solar powered home out of reclaimed wood, which would be off the grid.

 The last house on Rat Island, once used as an artists’ hangout, was destroyed by a hurricane in 1938, but the stone foundations remain.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Echo Boomer Generation Replacing Baby Boomers

The legendary Baby Boomers have finally reached retirement age and have led the trend towards downsizing and/or looking for retirement communities to spend their "Golden Years."  Replacing them are their "Echo Boomer" children. 
An estimated 84.7 million young adults in the Echo Boomer generation, the oldest of whom turned 25 in 2010, are expected to enter the housing market within the next 20 years. A recent Harvard study states that, as housing markets improve, more fence-sitting young adults will convert from renters into first-time home buyers. If the Harvard study is right, by next year, home values -- and mortgage rates -- will be higher. 

Thursday, June 07, 2012

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Sunday, June 03, 2012

"Art-ification" of an Abandoned Detroit Neighborhood

The Heidelberg Project is an art environment that spans two Detroit city blocks. Tyree Guyton began the project almost twenty years ago in 1986, in response to the deterioration of his neighborhood, which was being consumed by drugs, poverty, and violence. He began by cleaning up vacant lots, working alongside his grandfather and local children.
He reused the detritus they collected from the lots to build what has become both a piece of art and vision of his community. Attaching found items on the walls of deserted homes, he transformed the structures into art sculptures. Empty lots became public art gardens. Soon the neighborhood had polka-dotted streets. Shopping carts peeked out of trees and stuffed animals hang from houses. Guyton, who began with a devastated city space, has slowly converted Heidelberg Street into a colorful, imaginative artscape that inspires play, dialogue, and new ideas about how to rebuild a community. More from with photos (c)K.Scott Kreider:

Friday, June 01, 2012


Anyone remember LSMFT?  LSRP may share an association with a pollution issue, but not much else.

Although New Jersey may be approaching the tipping point in acronym overload, LSRPs are here to stay and a major factor in monitoring the cleanup of toxins from contaminated sites. As of May 7, 2012, the newly implemented Site Remediation Reform Act (SRRA) is requiring all remediations in the state of New Jersey to proceed under the supervision of a Licensed Site Remediation Professional (LSRP).
Only LSRPs will be authorized to sign and certify reports through the site investigation and cleanup process.

In many situations, DEP will no longer be required or authorized to review and approve investigation and cleanup plans in advance, or to issue No Further Action letters and Covenants Not To Sue at the conclusion of cleanups. Instead, the LSRPs will determine the propriety and conclusion of investigations and cleanups, and will issue the final sign-off document, to be known as a Response Action Outcome (RAO). The goal is to increase the pace of remediation and help decrease the threat of contamination to public health and safety and of the environment, and to quickly return underutilized properties to productive use.

The new regulations have spawned a cottage industry of freelance LSRP consultants shopping themselves out to developers as well as towns affected by planned developments on contaminated sites.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Upward Movement in New Home Sales

Sales of newly built, single-family homes rose 3.3% in April to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 343,000 units, according to newly released data from HUD and the US Census Bureau. “The increase in April sales activity is in line with other important housing measures that have shown continued, gradual improvement from the first quarter as more consumers look to take advantage of today’s low interest rates and affordable home prices,” noted National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) Chairman Barry Rutenberg, a home builder from Gainesville, Fla. “In markets where demand is rising, we could be seeing a faster pace of recovery if not for persistently tight lending conditions that are slowing both the building and buying of new homes.”

“Today’s report is representative of the kind of modest but consistent gains that we expect to see in new-home sales through the remainder of 2012,” said NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe. “As indicated by our most recent builder surveys, more consumers are taking advantage of historically low mortgage rates amidst firming economic and job market conditions in certain areas.”

On a regional basis, new-home sales rose 7.7% in the Northeast, 28.2% in the Midwest and 27.5% in the West in April. The South was the only region to post a decline for the month, of 10.6%.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Christie's DEP Waiver Fails in Assembly Committee

A measure sponsored by Assembly Democrats aimed at halting the state Department of Environmental Protection from circumventing existing environmental regulations was approved by an Assembly panel on Monday by a 5 - 2 vote. "The DEP does not have the statutory authority to promulgate one set of rules and regulations in order to waive other rules and regulations previously adopted as a result of legislation," said Barnes (D-Middlesex). "Not only does this go against the very purpose of creating legislation, but it also has the potential to harm the environment and the residents of this state."

A coalition of 28 environmental and labor groups sued the Department of Environmental Protection on the grounds that the agency does not have the authority to simply waive requirements of at least 85 statutes put in place by the legislature as part of 40 years of environmental protection legislation. The asked the Democratic legislature to exercise the authority given to them by an obscure constitutional amendment that allows them to strike down an agency rule if the legislature determines that the rule is not in keeping with the legislative intent behind the law.

 "This is an attempt by the department to completely circumvent a great deal of the environmental protections we have put in place to protect the people of this state," said McKeon (D-Essex/Morris). "This is a classic example of this administration acting without regard for the laws of this state, a pattern we've seen repeatedly over the last two years."

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Why Short Sales are Becoming the Best Option for Underwater Homeowners

Can you short sale your home even if you are not late on your mortgage and may be able to make the payments. In the industry that is called a ‘strategic short sale.‘
A short sale happens just like any other home sale. A Realtor lists the home, an offer is received, you (the seller) decide if you want to accept, reject, or counter the offer. Once terms are finalized the home is pending/ in contract just like a normal sale. You and the buyer sign the contract.
You don't need prior approval from your lender to do a Short Sale.
You DO NOT need to be late on you mortgage to do a short sale. In fact, there is an advantage now in remaining current on your payments.
Beginning on June 1, 2012, the 3 major credit reporting agencies have announced they will change the impact of  short sales on a borrowers credit (assuming they missed no payments and weren’t late) to a ‘neutral’ -- with little to no negative credit ramifications. 

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Mortgage Rates Bottoming Out -- Or Going Even Lower?

Long-term mortgage rates fell still lower last week, with the average rate on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage falling to a new all-time low of 3.83 percent. More details fron The National Mortgage News....

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Dramatic Montville Price Drop Illustrates the Reality of Luxury Home Pricing in NJ

Melissa and Joe Gorga first put their home on the market in 2010 for $4.5 million shortly before becoming part of Real Housewives of New Jersey. They took it off the market when the hit reality show began -- perhaps thinking that the growing popularity of the show would add to the home's value.
This week they relisted their 13,500 ft. mansion for $3.8 Million -- a hefty %700,000 price drop. Tax rcords indicate that Joe Gorga, a developer who builds custom homes to order, bought the property in 2008 before building their French Chateau style mansion.

Perhaps the Gorgas  lowered their asking price to compete with this comparably sized mansion now under constructioin in their neighborhood listed at $3.89 Million.

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

FHA vs Conventional Mortgages -- Which is Better for You?

Whether an FHA mortgage is better than a conventional one depends on a number of factors including current interest rates, current mortgage insurance rates, and your expected downpayment/equity percentage.
The 30-year fixed rate mortgage comes in multiple flavors. 
There is the 30-year fixed rate mortgage from the VA; the 30-year fixed rate mortgage from the USDA; and jumbo lenders offer 30-year fixed rate mortgages, too. Each is slightly different in terms of qualification standards and payment schedules 
The two most popular 30-year fixed rate mortgages are the conventional 30-year fixed rate mortgage as offered by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and the FHA 30-year fixed rate mortgage 
 Mortgage expert Dan Green goes into detail on this subject in his Mortgage Reports blog...

Monday, May 07, 2012

Looking for an Asian Paradise? Phuket!

Phuket Island, in Thailand, is now increasingly recognized as one of the prime locations to buy real estate in South East Asia. The surrounding islands of the Andaman Sea offer a sailing and boating environment second to none in the world. The nearby Similan Islands is recognized as one of the top scuba diving destinations in the world. Fishing, windsurfing, biking and five first-class golf courses make Phuket a sportsman’s paradise. Rapidly improving infrastructure is giving Phuket all the facilities of any modern community, with big shopping complexes, international colleges, such as British Curriculum International School and QSI International School of Phuket, well-equipped hospitals, and marinas.

All of the above information is factual. But the basis for the viral photo at right titled: "Botanical Apartment Therapy in Phuket, Thailand," is still a mystery. In the 3 months since it was originally posted there has been no credit or supporting info given.  This has led to speculation that it may be a Photoshop creation -- perhaps as part of a marketing campaign.

Hopefully, it is at least a work in progress for a dream development in the making -- somewhere.

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Highest Q1 Pendings in 5 Years Spurs Recovery Predictions

Pending home sales increased in March and are well above a year ago, another signal the housing market is recovering, according to the National Association of Realtors(R).
The Pending Home Sales Index,* a forward-looking indicator based on contract signings, rose 4.1 percent to 101.4 in March from an upwardly revised 97.4 in February and is 12.8 percent above March 2011 when it was 89.9. The data reflects contracts but not closings.
The index is now at the highest level since April 2010 when it reached 111.3.
Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, said 2012 is expected to be a year of recovery for housing. “First quarter sales closings were the highest first quarter sales in five years. The latest contract signing activity suggests the second quarter will be equally good,” he said.
“The housing market has clearly turned the corner. Rising sales are bringing down inventory and creating much more balanced conditions around the county, which means home prices will be rising in more areas as the year progresses,” Yun said.

Monday, April 30, 2012

NJ Foreclosure Streams Starting to Flow Again

According to the Mortgage Bankers Association, a record 16.7 percent of home mortgages in the state of New Jersey are late on their monthly payments, or in foreclosure. That is above the 12.5 nationwide percentage.

In addition, after the foreclosure slow down last year in the wake of reports of mortgage service abuse and investigations, the process is coming back online for both residential and commercial properties. In fact, foreclosure activity numbers in New Jersey last month rose nearly 72 percent compared to March of 2011. Foreclosure filings and sheriff auctions are up drastically compared to this time last year, but significantly below the numbers we saw in 2010. New Jersey was part of a $25 billion settlement between five large mortgage lenders and state and federal officials that were accused of "robo-signing" foreclosure paperwork and cutting corners to get people evicted quicker.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Mortgages Now Available through Costco

Costco shoppers are used to shopping big. They can now can now shop for the biggest item they'll probably ever buy - a mortgage.
Costco has signed up 11 lenders to provide a mortgage lending service to its shoppers. Whether it's a new loan, or a refi. The warehouse club is rolling out a full service mortgage lending program on its web site. Members can log in, fill in their information anonymously and then get a price comparison from several lenders, although most borrowers still need some level of personal contact from both a real estate professional and their lender. The company already offers financial products like auto insurance and health insurance and stock brokerage services, and will soon offer auto and student loans.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Missouri EcoVillage Goes On and Off the Grid

Alex Whitcroft, an architectural designer from the UK, first came to Dancing Rabbit EcoVillage in rural Missouri to learn natural building techniques. He returned two years later in 2011 as one of its 60 or so residents. Like most buildings at Dancing Rabbit, the home Whitcroft shares with his partner, Jennifer Martin, and two of her children is made with natural materials: sustainably harvested or reclaimed wood, natural plasters, and straw bales harvested from surrounding fields for insulation.
While half of their community reconnected to the grid in 2011, Dancing Rabbit is net positive — producing more energy than it consumes.

Friday, April 20, 2012

NNJ Foreclosures on the Rise

Bergen and Passaic counties have both seen an increase in properties sold at sheriff's auction in the first three months of this year.  And RealtyTrac, a California company that follows the foreclosure market, recently reported that foreclosure activity in New Jersey rose almost 72 percent from March 2011 to March 2012.

Because of last year's slowdown in foreclosure activity, troubled mortgages are piling up in New Jersey. The Mortgage Bankers Association recently reported that a record 16.7 percent of mortgages in the state are either late on monthly payments or in foreclosure, compared with 12.5 percent nationwide.

The uneven pace of foreclosure activity suggests that New Jersey will not quickly clear the market of distressed properties, which tend to sell at a discount.  More from

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Pyramid Scheme

Rising above the Arizona desert like a phoenix, this property causes double takes from all who drive by.  Situated on 13 acres, it has over over 3,000 square feet of living space and two master bedrooms.  However, unlike the Egyptian pyramids, this architectural wonder is for sale.

At an asking price of $495,000 an estimated mortgage payment on the Maricopa Arizona pyramid would be $1,865 a month, with 20 percent down on a conventional 30-year mortgage.

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Freddie Mac Forecasts Spring Housing Recovery

“A variety of encouraging indicators suggest that the housing market may be feeling a nascent recovery ... and more neighborhoods may see a stabilization in overall demand and housing values this spring,” says Frank Nothaft, Freddie Mac’s chief economist.
In fact, the signs have prompted Freddie Mac to revise its forecast upwards for home sales and originations. One economic contributor that’s helping to stabilize housing: The drop in the unemployment rate to 8.3 percent, its lowest level in three years, according to the report.