Baby Boomers are Downsizing in Hunterdon and Somerset Counties, Are You Ready to Move?

Baby Boomers are Downsizing in Hunterdon and Somerset Counties, Are You Ready to Move?

For a while now baby boomers have been blamed for a portion of the housing market’s current lack of housing inventory, but should they really be getting the blame?

Here’s what some of the experts have to say on the subject:

Aaron Terrazas, Senior Economist at Zillow, says that “Boomers are healthier and working longer than previous generations, which means they aren’t yet ready to sell their homes.

According to a study by Realtor.com, 85% of baby boomers indicated they were not planning to sell their homes.

It is true that baby boomers are healthier and are thus working and living longer, but are they also refusing to sell their homes? 

Last month, Trulia looked at the housing situation of seniors (aged 65+) today compared to that of a decade ago. Trulia’s study revealed that:

Although seniors appear to be delaying downsizing until later in life, as a group, households 65 and over are still downsizing at roughly the same rate as in years past.”

Trulia also explains that, 

5.5% of households 65 and over moved, pretty evenly split between moves to single family (2.7%) and multifamily (2.4%) homes. In 2005, these percentages were virtually the same, with 5.5% of senior households moving, including 2.5% into single family and 2.5% into multifamily homes.”

So, if these percentages are the same, what is the challenge?

Recent reports tell us that the older population grew from 3 million in 1900 to 47.8 million in 2017.

In addition, the Census recently revised the numbers from their National Population Projections:

The aging of baby boomers means that within just a couple decades, older people are projected to outnumber children for the first time in U.S. history…By 2035, there will be 78.0 million people 65 years and older compared to 76.7 million under the age of 18.

Bottom Line

If you are a baby boomer who is not sure whether you should downsize or move to a warmer climate (other people are doing it, why not you?), let’s get together so we can help you evaluate your options today!

 


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5 Tips for Starting Your Home Search in Hunterdon and Somerset Counties

5 Tips for Starting Your Home Search in Hunterdon and Somerset Counties

In today’s real estate market, with low inventory dominating the conversation in many areas of the country, it can often be frustrating to be a first-time homebuyer if you aren’t prepared.

In a recent realtor.com article entitled, “How to Find Your Dream Home—Without Losing Your Mind,” the author highlights some steps that first-time homebuyers can take to help carry their excitement of buying a home throughout the whole process.

1. Get Pre-Approved for a Mortgage Before You Start Your Search

One way to show you are serious about buying your dream home is to get pre-qualified or pre-approved for a mortgage before starting your search. Even if you are in a market that is not as competitive, understanding your budget will give you the confidence of knowing whether or not your dream home is within your reach.

This step will also help you narrow your search based on your budget and won’t leave you disappointed if the home you tour, and love, ends up being outside your budget!

2. Know the Difference Between Your ‘Must-Haves’ and ‘Would-Like-To-Haves’

Do you really need that farmhouse sink in the kitchen to be happy with your home choice? Would a two-car garage be a convenience or a necessity? Could the ‘man cave’ of your dreams be a future renovation project instead of a make-or-break right now?

Before you start your search, list all the features of a home you would like and then qualify them as ‘must-haves’, ‘should-haves’, or ‘absolute-wish list’ items. This will help keep you focused on what’s most important.

3. Research and Choose a Neighborhood You Want to Live In

Every neighborhood has its own charm. Before you commit to a home based solely on the house itself, the article suggests test-driving the area. Make sure that the area meets your needs for “amenities, commute, school district, etc. and then spend a weekend exploring before you commit.”

4. Pick a House Style You Love and Stick to It

Evaluate your family’s needs and settle on a style of home that would best serve those needs. Just because you’ve narrowed your search to a zip code, doesn’t mean that you need to tour every listing in that zip code.

An example from the article says, “if you have several younger kids and don’t want your bedroom on a different level, steer clear of Cape Cod–style homes, which typically feature two or more bedrooms on the upper level and the master on the main.”

5. Document Your Home Visits

Once you start touring homes, the features of each individual home will start to blur together. The article suggests keeping your camera handy and documenting what you love and don’t love about each property you visit. They even go as far as to suggest snapping a photo of the ‘for sale’ sign on the way into the property to help keep the listings divided in your photo gallery.

Making notes on the listing sheet as you tour the property will also help you remember what the photos mean, or what you were feeling while touring the home.

Bottom Line

In a high-paced, competitive environment, any advantage you can give yourself will help you on your path to buying your dream home.

 

 


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Flemington Borough OKs financial agreement with Union Hotel redeveloper

Flemington Borough OKs financial agreement with Union Hotel redeveloper

Reposted from MyCentralJersey.com

FLEMINGTON – In what was called “the most important decision ever made in the history of the town,” the borough council approved on Tuesday evening a financial agreement with the redeveloper of the Union Hotel.

Like most votes on the redevelopment, the council split 3-3 on the agreement with Mayor Phil Greiner breaking the tie after nearly three hours of public comment and occasionally contentious debate among council members.

The action now shifts to the borough planning/zoning board, where a review of the Courthouse Square site plan continues Thursday evening, and Superior Court, where the grassroots organization, Friends of Historic Flemington, has filed suit challenging the plan.

EARLIER: Flemington: Council votes on financial pact for Union Hotel project

READ: $1M renovation completed at Travel Inn & Suites of Flemington

“I am very pleased that the Borough Council voted to approve the financial agreement required to move the development forward,” said developer Jack Cust on Wednesday. “I was also appreciative of the large number of people that came out and spoke up in support of Courthouse Square. I look forward to moving this to the next phase and continuing to work with the municipal officials to continue the quest to help make Flemington a great place to live work and visit.”

Adding to the meeting’s charged atmosphere was the prospect that the fate of the project could be determined in next month’s election for mayor and two borough council seats. The election, seen as a referendum on the project, pits Councilwoman Betsy Driver, an opponent of the project, against Greiner and the two incumbent council members, Brooke Warden and Marc Hain, supporters of the project, being challenged by Christopher Runion and Caitlin Giles-McCormick.

Tuesday’s debate fell along the same lines that have marked the discussions about the project since it was first proposed by developer Jack Cust two years ago.

Supporters of the $80 million proposal said it was time to move the project forward, while opponents argued that the borough should take a step back and negotiate better terms with Cust.

“There are so many holes in there I can drain a pot of spaghetti,” Driver said, adding that the agreement had no “safeguards” if the project falls through or is abandoned.

Debate

One of the primary points of contention was a clause in the Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) agreement that raises what Cust has to pay the borough 5 percent every five years. The amount of the PILOT, which will be phased in as construction is completed, is based on the number of hotel rooms, apartments and square footage of the other uses.

Many said that the increase is too little and should be pegged to annual coast of living increases.

“The payment should be adjusted every year,” said Lois Stewart, a project opponent.Is this the best deal we can get?” Robert Shore asked the council, saying that it makes “good sense” to tie the payment to the rate of inflation

Others said the financial agreement should not be adopted until the scale of the project is approved by the planning/zoning board.

“We don’t know what the final project will look like,” said Councilwoman Susan Peterson.

Peterson added that a vote on the financial agreement should be delayed until “we get a plan we can all live with.”

Peterson said there had been “a “lack of communication” among council members. “We need to talk as a group,” she said

“I feel as if we’re just getting started,” she said, adding that quality of life issues have not been addressed

Councilman Michael Harris also said the vote should be delayed because the borough now has “leverage” with Cust and he has a “narrow” list of concerns with the agreement.

“We have the leverage now and we had it before but we chose not to use it,” he said, adding that the borough has yet to decide where to relocate police headquarters which will be demolished as part of the project.

The vote to table a decision was 3-3 with again Greiner breaking the tie to proceed with the vote.

Councilman John Gorman said the opponents were using stalling tactics. “It’s been going on long enough,” he said.

Hain said the project has to move forward because Main Street in the area of the vacant hotel has “the smell of death.”

“We need to make this happen,” he said.

Warden said the council was not ramming through the agreement. “We could have done this a long time ago,” she said.

Greiner said the opponents will always have one more question about the project “until Hell freezes over.”

“It never stops,” he said. “It has to stop.”

Greiner also said that the Friends of Historic Flemington had not made serious negotiations to settle the lawsuits, though borough officials were willing to meet.

Former Hunterdon County Freeholder George Muller, the former owner of Flemington Cut Glass, said the vote would be “the most important decision ever made in the history of the town” because it will “reverse the downward spiral” of the county seat.

“I can lay down on Main Street on any night and not be run over,” said Ron Van Horn, the organizer of the Main Street car shows.

Without the PILOT, the redevelopment of the hotel and neighboring properties would not be possible, Greiner said.

“We’re getting a reasonable deal,” he said.

The agreement outlines a 30-year PILOT program that advocates say will bring a windfall to borough residents, including a possible $350 reduction in the average homeowner’s property bill, while opponents say the borough accepted the terms that are overly generous to Cust. Opponents also say that projected is being rushed and more negotiations are required.

$20 million

A PILOT program, allowed under state law and used by municipalities throughout New Jersey to encourage development of blighted properties, offers developers a tax abatement for up to 30 years in exchangefor annual payments. PILOT payments can be calculated based on gross annual revenue or as a percentage of total project cost.

The redevelopment of the Union Hotel could bring the borough more than $20 million in revenue in the next three decades, according to an independent financial analysis of the project.

The study concludes the borough could yield the borough an average of $694,126 a year over the 30-year life time of the proposed PILOT.

In 2017, the properties in the 4.28-acre redevelopment area generated $182,449 in property taxes. According to the study, that would mean an additional $500,000 a year to fund the borough’s budget, which this year is $5.5 million funded by $4.2 million in property taxes.

The 89-page report, available on the borough’s website, was prepared by the Otteau Group, one of the leading real estate consultants and appraisers in the metropolitan area.

The report concludes that the proposed PILOT, which includes incremental increases, is “reasonable” for a development with a $68 million value.

The Courthouse Square project, which its supporters believe will be the savior of downtown Flemington, calls for the preservation of the Union Hotel facade as part of a new hotel, 200 to 250 residential units, a building that will house a campus of Georgian Court University and a medical facility, a parking garage for 900 vehicles, stores, restaurants and a pedestrian plaza.

But opponents say the development is too large and will destroy the historic character of Main Street and the borough.

 

 


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Buying a Home in Hunterdon or Somerset County? Do You Know the Lingo?

Buying a Home in Hunterdon or Somerset County? Do You Know the Lingo?

Some Highlights:

  • Buying a home can be intimidating if you are not familiar with the terms used during the process.
  • To start you on your path with confidence, we have compiled a list of some of the most common terms used when buying a home.
  • The best way to ensure that your home-buying process is a confident one is to find a real estate professional who not only puts your family’s needs first, but will guide you through every aspect of the transaction with ‘the heart of a teacher.’ 

    With the heart of a teaches, this is where I can be of help…


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Dispelling the Myth About Home Affordability in Hunterdon and Somerset Counties

Dispelling the Myth About Home Affordability in Hunterdon and Somerset Counties

 

We have all seen the headlines that report that buying a home is less affordable today than it was at any other time in the last ten years, and those headlines are accurate. But, have you ever wondered why the headlines don’t say the last 25 years, the last 20 years, or even the last 11 years?

The reason is that homes were less affordable 25, 20, or even 11 years ago than they are today.

Obviously, buying a home is more expensive now than during the ten years immediately following one of the worst housing crashes in American history.

Over the past decade, the market was flooded with distressed properties (foreclosures and short sales) that were selling at 10-50% discounts. There were so many distressed properties that the prices of non-distressed properties in the same neighborhoods were lowered and mortgage rates were kept low to help the economy.

Low Prices + Low Mortgage Rates = High Affordability

Prices have since recovered and mortgage rates have increased as the economy has gained strength. This has and will continue to impact housing affordability moving forward.

However, let’s give affordability some historical context. The National Association of Realtors (NAR) issues their Affordability Index each month. According to NAR:

“The Monthly Housing Affordability Index measures whether or not a typical family earns enough income to qualify for a mortgage loan on a typical home at the national and regional levels based on the most recent monthly price and income data.”

NAR’s current index stands at 138.8. The index had been higher each of the last ten years, peaking at 197 in 2012 (the higher the index the more affordable houses are).

But, the average index between 1990 and 2007 was just 123 and there were no years with an index above 133. That means that homes are more affordable today than at any time during the eighteen years between 1990 and 2007.

Bottom Line

With home prices continuing to appreciate and mortgage rates increasing, home affordability will likely continue to slide. However, this does not mean that buying a house is not an attainable goal in most markets as it is less expensive today than during the eighteen-year stretch immediately preceding the housing bubble and crash.

 

 


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