Why Winter 2018 is a Great Time to Purchase a Home

It’s no secret in the real estate business that the housing inventory in New Jersey is tight; there are far more buyers than sellers and it’s been that way for a while. This level of competition drives up housing prices (it seems we all know someone who ended up in a bidding war, whether as a home buyer or home seller, or have heard the stories). Another factor that drives home purchases: mortgage interest rates.

How do interest rates originate?
Interest rates are typically determined by a central bank in most countries. In the United States, representatives from the Federal Reserve Board and Federal Reserve Bank comprise the Federal Open Market Committee, which assesses the economic status of the country throughout the year and adjusts interest rates accordingly.

The central bank lends money to retail banks at a discount and then consumers borrow from the retail banks. The rates assigned by the central bank to the retail banks determine interest rates or Prime Interest Rates.

Why interest rates fluctuate
If the central bank wants to discourage consumer borrowing and encourage more saving, it raises interest rates. The banks rely on those deposits in order to raise their worth and have money to lend to another party, which generates additional income from interest collected. When the central bank wants to encourage consumer borrowing and increase spending, it will lower interest rates.

Mortgage interest rates today
Interest rates started creeping up a little bit late in the fall and continue a modest rise—from 3/8 to ½ of a percentage point. Bankrate predicts a slow and steady climb throughout the first half of this year due to various pressures on the U.S. bond market.

The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage rate rose .08 percent in the first week of January, a significant jump after a prior rate drop (it is currently slightly over 4 percent). That said, with New Jersey’s housing inventory being so tight and home values remaining fairly steady, why not strike while the iron is hot?

Some figures from the Mortgage Bankers Association:

  • The 15-year fixed-rate mortgage rose to 3.57 percent from 3.49 percent.
  • The 5/1 adjustable-rate mortgage rose to 3.77 percent from 3.70 percent.
  • The 30-year fixed-rate jumbo mortgage rose to 4.21 percent from 4.14 percent.

Although the difference in monthly mortgage payments is quite small today as interest rates rise (a few dollars a month for most borrowers), there’s no telling where it could end up six months from now—and besides, why pay any more than you have to on a home loan?

Some Americans appear to be catching the clue. According to the Mortgage Bankers Association’s Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey, mortgage applications overall rose 8.3 percent for the week ending January 5, 2017; 52.9 percent of those were refinances (up nearly a full percentage point from the week before). Homeowners and those on the market to purchase a home are locking into rates now.

Get into a new home sooner than later
Again, there is tremendous competition for good houses in northern New Jersey, so if you are planning to purchase a home, there’s no time like the present to get into the real estate market. And, if your credit history is strong, it’s a great time to pre-qualify for a favorable mortgage program at preferential rates.

Another great reason to purchase a home now: you’ll beat the typical spring/summer rush, so there are fewer buyers to compete with. Fewer buyers may help keep prices moderated in your favor. Sellers may also be more willing to negotiate with you.

The real estate agents at Century 21 Cedarcrest Realty will help you zero in on the right towns to meet your criteria and your budget, and work hard to help make your transaction as smooth as possible. We’re experts in Essex County, where our office is located … but we work throughout northern New Jersey, from Hudson County to Warren County and everywhere in between. We’re here with our heavy winter coats, ready to show you our listings, so contact us to get into a new home this winter at (973) 228-1050.

Staying on Top of Home Maintenance: A Spring Checklist

Staying on Top of Home Maintenance: A Spring Checklist

Home maintenance is important whether you plan to sell your home or not, but it becomes critical if you really do want to move. The winter months are notoriously harsh on homes and the spring months are a great time to work down a general maintenance checklist in order to ensure there is no surprise damage later on. So where should you start?

Roofing, Siding, Chimneys, and Gutters

Check them all for damage from ice, storms, and general wear and tear. Look at your roof from afar to see if you can identify any loose or damaged shingles. Check the siding to be sure it isn’t raised or chipped. Make sure your gutters are cleaned out and weren’t damaged by ice or snow. Have a professional come out to perform regular maintenance on your chimney, ensuring there is no masonry damage and that it is clean.

If you do plan on selling your home, you may want to invest in renting a power washer to make the house look a little cleaner and brighter.

Sidewalks and Driveways

The expansion and contraction caused by freezing and melting can really do a number on driveways and sidewalks. Survey your property for cracks that may need to be filled and be especially conscious of any raised areas that could become fall hazards. The property will need to be in great shape for a sale, but this type of repair will also help you to avoid being sued by someone who falls and gets hurt.

Survey the Foundation

Look around your home and make sure there are no low or sunken areas of ground, especially near your foundation. Any areas that look low can be filled in with dirt and compacted. This prevents danger areas from uneven surfaces and, when hear the foundation, prevents water from pooling towards your home instead of away from it. It’s also important for keeping bugs away, as water won’t have a place to stand after storms.

Fire up the A/C

Have a professional come out and service your HVAC unit. There is nothing worse than having a potential buyer walk into a home on a hot spring or summer day only to be greeted by more heat. We guarantee they won’t give your home a second thought once they walk out the door.

Regular home maintenance will make it easier for you to sell your home when you’re ready – even if that time isn’t right now. If you are ready, talk to your real estate agent about special home maintenance items or staging tasks you should be paying attention to. Every little bit counts.

 

Caldwell NJ Public Library Holiday 2014 Events

Caldwell NJ Public Library Holiday 2014 Events

It’s that time of year again to celebrate the holidays. Here are a few events coming up at the Caldwell (New Jersey) Public Library.

Wednesday December 3, 6:30pm to 7:30pm
Make and Take craft workshop.  Create crafts and take them home.

The workshop is for ages 12+ with families welcome.

*Registration required and space is limited.

Tuesday December 16, 1pm-2pm
Happy Hannukah!

Stop in to celebrate and enjoy a jelly donut treat. While supplies last.

Saturday December 20, 10am-Noon
Parent shopping day free babysitting

Caldwell Public Library hosts a babysitting morning of crafts, treats and a movie for children ages 5+ to help parents get some holiday shopping done. Registration required.

In general the library is open the following days and times:

Monday 9am to 5pm
Tuesday 9am to 8pm
Wednesday 12pm to 8pm
Thursday 9am to 8pm
Friday 9am to 5pm
Saturday 9am to 12pm

Have questions? Contact the Library or head on over and speak with a librarian:

268 Bloomfield Ave

Caldwell, NJ 07006
librarian@caldwellpl.org
973-226-2837

Spring Cleaning Tips Before Listing Your Home

Before you set that ‘for sale’ sign in front of your yard, there are certain things you need to do to get your home ready to sell. In this post, we want to discuss spring cleaning tips that will get your home looking its best, and hopefully, selling quickly. Now is a great time to go through your clutter and clean the home because you’ll need to do this when you pack anyway. So, let’s get a head start and get cleaning!

De-Clutter the Home

Going through your stuff isn’t always easy, because it means having to make decisions as to what to keep and what to get rid of. Some people do well in getting rid of the things they no longer want or use, and others dwell over it. To help, give yourself limitations so that you can still keep things but within a reasonable limit. For instance, if you have a collection of baseball cards, keep only those that will fit within one plastic container.

You may be able to sell some stuff in a garage sale or online and make a few extra bucks. Or, donate the things you don’t want to the many charities available, many of which will come to your home to pick everything up!

De-Personalize the Home

Next, you’ll need to take the ‘you’ out of your home. Potential buyers need to be able to walk through your home and envision their own life there, so keep your home tasteful but simple and minimal. Picture frames, collections, knick knacks and so on are the things to pack and put in storage. For tasteful decorating, use general items like candles, bowls of potpourri and fresh plants and flowers.

Clean Hard-to-Reach Areas

How long has it been since you washed the windows? Dusted the blinds? Scrubbed the shower? Vacuumed the baseboards and vents? These areas are often looked over, but they need to be cleaned before showing your home. You don’t want your dust and dirt overshadowing your space. If you need help, enlist a cleaning service and then keep up on the work from there.

Also, don’t forget the very basic tasks of vacuuming the floors each day, wiping down counters, keeping dishes out of the sink and dusting surfaces.

Still Living in Your Starter Home? Make the Most of the Small Space

It’s no secret that the housing market has been slow to recover, but at least we’re moving in the right direction. Still, millions of families across the U.S. are finding themselves in the home they purchased years ago as a starter home, even though their family has outgrown the space. For some homeowners, it will still take years before they break free from being underwater in their loan, but that doesn’t mean that homes can’t be modified to fit new needs. Here are some of the best tips for making the most of your space.

Use Your Home’s Space from Bottom to Top

If you don’t have a lot of floor space to work with, see what you can do when you start working upwards. A popular idea is hanging multiple shelves on the wall to be used for displaying collectibles, photo frames or books. Use the tops of your cabinets to add plants or cookbooks. Cabinets hung on the walls can also help in bathrooms and kitchens.

Include Dual Purpose Furniture in Main Rooms

There are many pieces of furniture that are dedicated to helping homeowners with small spaces. If you need space for a laptop but don’t want a desk sitting in your family room, try a stylish armoire. These are also great for storing toys inconspicuously. If you enjoy entertaining, try a compact table with leaves that can be inserted. If you lack seating space, try an ottoman that has chairs underneath.

Make Functional Use of Your Garage or Basement

Garages are different for everyone. Some people park their cars in them, others use them to store all of their extra stuff. When you’re tight on space, you need to utilize extra spaces in your home that can offer you more flexibility. Turn your garage into a useful storage space with overhead storage and shelving, or create a workspace for your favorite hobby. Sheds are also a great way to create additional space and can be used for a guest home or hobby space.

Rent a Storage Unit

Sometimes, we accumulate so much stuff, we just can’t house it all anymore. If you plan on moving in the near future and want to save items for this purpose, it makes sense to purchase a storage unit in the meantime. You’ll find that it will make your home much more comfortable, and keep you feeling organized, too. Since storage units cost a monthly fee, it’s best to store only necessary items you know you’ll need.