From time to time, the housing market undergoes changes that may affect my clients. It’s my responsibility to pass along industry news and keep clients informed.
As of April 1, 2013, annual mortgage insurance premiums for most FHA loans will increase by 10 basis points. The increase is one of a series of changes to be issued to allow the agency to better manage risk and further strengthen the health of the MMI Fund, the FHA’s Mutual Mortgage Insurance Fund. The changes also state that the length of time the borrower is required to pay mortgage insurance will be extended if the loan is applied for on or after June 3, 2013. At that time, borrowers with a Loan to Value (LTV) that begins above 90% will pay mortgage insurance for the life of the loan.
The changes are being made to protect FHA’s single-family insurance programs and to make sure the FHA remains a vital source of affordable mortgage financing for future generations of homebuyers. Borrowers that have already been preapproved for FHA financing that file their case numbers prior to these changes will not be impacted. However, buyers in the market now may want to act quickly before the changes take place. Spring is here and new inventory is cropping up every day.
If you have any questions regarding the HUD changes or other specific financing concerns, please do not hesitate to contact myself or a member of my team. Whether you are in the market today or in the future, we are always here to lend a hand and continually yours to count on.
In 1929, The Summit Historical Society was formed, however, it was not active until the early 1960’s. By the year 1962, the Summit Herald noted that there was no historical society in Summit, only to find out that one already existed. Motivated by the renewed interest in the history of the town, The Summit Historical Society began to actively pursue the preservation of its history, as well as the dissemination of information regarding its past. Currently, there are a large archive of photos, genealogy files, house files, maps, newspapers, postcards and yearbooks on display. This archive also includes city directories which date back to 1890.
Throughout the years, The Summit Historical Society had a number of “homes” before it finally settled at the Carter House located at 90 Butler Parkway in Summit. During the early years of the society, the collection was stored in basements and attics of the founders’ homes, and even in boxes under their beds. Later on, a room in the Wilson School was reconfigured. But by the year 1986, the Society finally moved to the Carter House, the permanent home to materials of Summit’s history.
Volunteers are generally available during Tuesday mornings from 9 am to to noon, Wednesday afternoons from 1pm to 4pm and Thursdays from 3pm to 5pm. All the materials found in the archive of the society is available to the public. The society’s major annual fund raiser event is called as “The Taste of Summit,” a highly anticipated yearly event.
The Carter House
The Carter House is believed to be the oldest existing building in all of Summit. It is a property along the Passaic River, now known as River Road. The land was previously owned by Benjamin Carter in 1740. In the mid-1980s, the home was sold to Glenn Johnson who was approached by historians regarding the preservation of the house. By the year 1986, the home was moved to its current location on Butler Parkway. Johnson did not only donate the house, but also funded part of the cost of moving it, and for the rest of his life he remained a supporter and friend of The Summit Historical Society.
And today, the home is fully refurbished. The first floor features an exhibit room and Victorian library lined with local history books. There is also an early 1800s-style dining area, modern kitchen facility and a colonial-era kitchen. The private caretaker’s apartment is on the second floor.
The Summit Historical Society Details
We’ve come so far so fast! I remember not so long ago when I relocated to our amazing Midtown Direct towns in New Jersey and we opened up our KW office, people would ask me ” Keller who?” and of course I was “Sue who?” back then too. I’m proud to say that Keller Williams is now the #1 Real Estate company in the United States, and locally we have whizzed past our competitors as well. I am very proud to be leading the #1 KW team in our region, and to be a part of the #1 company in the US of A! No wonder we are the only real estate company to be on the Best Places To Work list!
Need an evening out or simply a break from the humdrum weekly cooking routine? Are you a foodie craving a new cuisine or meal at a favorite haunt? Maybe you skipped dinner out on Valentine’s Day in order to avoid the crowds and an overpriced meal. One of the area’s best Restaurant Weeks begins Sunday, February 17 and goes through February 28 (excluding Friday and Saturday) in downtown Westfield.
Downtown Westfield’s most popular restaurants will participate in this two week long celebration when you can enjoy lunch or dinner at one of your favorite spots. This is also a good time to reach out of your comfort zone and try a new fare or even two – your taste buds will thank you.
Prices have been fixed to include any two-course lunch for $10, any two-course dinner for $20 or three-course dinner for $30. Beverages, tax and gratuities are not included in the price-fixed menus.
Mark your calendars and take advantage of this chance to sample one of the great Westfield restaurants. Restaurants are accepting reservations, so call now to book and assure you get a table. And to make the deal even sweeter, The Downtown Westfield Corporation, as part of Restaurant Week is holding a random drawing to win one of four $25 parking cards. The cards can be used in any lot or metered on-street spot. Now that’s almost better than dessert. You must enter online by going to http://events.constantcontact.com/register/event?llr=hkdmqgcab&oeidk=a07e70lprtp766486d6.
Good luck and good eating!
For a list of participating restaurants, click here.
And look out for more information on another Westfield extravaganza. On Sunday, May 5 head to Westfield when its downtown streets are transformed into a marketplace of over 300 vendors with festival foods, entertainment and a KidsZone for the Westfield Spring Fling Street Fair. It marks the beginning of spring.
Super Bowl Sunday is only a few days away. What an experience it would be to have tickets to this much anticipated sporting event, but better yet this typically wintry day is best spent gathering with friends either at home by the fire or at a local restaurant or pub. It’s a great reason to get loud and throw a party or go out and enjoy a few healthy and sometimes not-so-healthy snacks and drinks and cheer on your favorite team.
So where will you go this Sunday in our Midtown Direct communities to watch the San Francisco 49ers take on the Baltimore Ravens? Here are a few good options…
Madison is a great choice. As a college town, there are hosts of fun places for a large noisy gathering. 54 on Main in the heart of downtown Madison usually draws a crowd for big sports events. With a spacious bar serving 37 beer varieties and 17 flat screen TV’s, it’s a crowd pleaser, but a good idea to get there early. Poor Herbie’s also in Madison has TV’s at the bar and a wide selection of draught beers and good old fashioned comfort food. This neighborhood establishment was selected as a Patch Readers’ Choice Award 2012. There’s also Madison’s Prospect Tavern situated in an1880s Tudor building serving delicious food and with a cozy fireplace it’s an ideal cold weather eatery. This establishment is a hop, skip and jump from the train if you prefer public transportation to driving.
Chatham also has some good game watching spots like Charley’s Aunt. As one Yelper describes “a great place to grab a burger and beer and watch the game.” River Grille in Chatham Borough has an expansive menu which includes healthy alternatives as well as traditional game dishes and the area’s best microbrew selections.
The quaint and charming Maplewood Village hosts a few local hangouts to cheer on your favorite team. Stop by St. James Gate Pub and enjoy a warm fire and cozy atmosphere and savor an authentic Irish dish. There’s also Coda Kitchen and Bar for a larger space and plenty of room to make noise. South Orange gets in on the fun too. An old neighborhood favorite is Bunny’s Sports Bar, a family owned business where you’ll get a great game view with 18 high definition TV’s throughout the bar and special Super Bowl drinks during game time. Great pizza to go with it. Gaslight Brewery in South Orange is another family run restaurant and brewery offering a unique selection of beers and good game viewing.
No matter what team you’re rooting for enjoy an evening with friends and have a few laughs. Monday morning will be here before we know it.
This is news you can’t ignore if you are considering taking on a new mortgage or refinancing in the near future It may not seem to make that much of a difference in the short term but take a closer look and consider how just a 1% rate change changes your mortgage payment for the year and over the life of the loan. Read what our good friend Cathy Haddad, from Atlantic Home Mortgage and Loans, has put together for us explaining what is happening this week with rates and how it may affect future mortgage rates.
Mortgage rates skyrocketed to their highest levels since August on Friday, both as a part of an ongoing move higher that began yesterday and more specifically in reaction to overnight events in Europe. Strong economic data in Germany sent interest rates initially higher overnight, but the bigger surge followed an ECB announcement detailing the 278 of 523 European banks that had already begun paying back 3-year loans made by the ECB in late 2011. MBS (the mortgage-backed securities that most directly influence rates) opened in much weaker territory and continued to sell-off throughout the day.
When MBS “sell-off,” prices are falling, meaning investors are paying less for mortgages. This causes closing costs, rates, or both to move higher. Depending on the lender and the particulars of the scenario, many borrowers will be looking at actual adjustments higher in RATE today, whereas most days simply see fluctuations in COST. Best-Execution for 30yr Fixed, Conventional loans is in transit between 3.5% and 3.75% at the moment, after being closer to 3.375% to begin the week. We haven’t seen 3.75% Best-Ex since QE3.
As we’ve sometimes discussed in the past two years, European market events can definitely have an impact on interest rates in the US. Last night’s news was significant because it constituted an acid test of the short-term funding stability in the Euro-zone, something that’s at the heart of push to all-time low rates in 2012. Markets new that the ECB would be announcing details about repayments but the number of banks as well as the €137 billion total repayments were higher than markets expected.
We know that US Treasuries have been a major beneficiary of the “safe-haven” demand stemming from fears of a Euro-zone collapse. And we’ve seen a volatile, but noticeable shift away from that safe-haven demand over the last 6 months. Mortgage-backed-securities have been relatively more insulated from that shift due to the mid-September QE3 announcement when the Fed began buying MBS outright (again). Treasuries carry lower risk and thus lower yields, but the Fed’s support via QE3 got mortgage rates closer to Treasury yields. Still, there’s only so much room for that gap to close before mortgage rates are forced to follow Treasury yields higher.
That gap or “spread” as it’s referred to in bond market jargon was already in the process of adjusting after QE3 and by the new year, it was clear that mortgages weren’t going any lower relative to Treasuries. Ipso facto, a big shock for Treasuries–one that moves yields significantly higher–is also a big shock for mortgage rates.
We’ve experienced those big shocks both at home and abroad, but it’s the combination of the two that’s posed the most insidious risk to the interest rate outlook. Not only did the European news hurt rates overnight, but yesterday’s strong Jobless Claims report (2nd week in a row) causes concerns about next week’s bigger Employment Report as well as the Fed policy statement on Wednesday. The Fed policy statement currently includes employment thresholds, leaving nothing to doubt as to labor markets being a lynchpin for policy changes. If markets think that employment will continue to improve, they’ll view the Fed as less likely to continue Quantitative Easing, which is a major driver of low mortgage rates.
Because of that, there could be an extra bit of defensiveness baked into interest rates as we head into the weekend. The positive eventuality would be that the Fed stands firm in their accommodative resolve and that Friday’s jobs report is weaker-than-expected. The downside is that the fears markets may be defending against, are realized if either (or both) of those things don’t happen. In that second situation, rates could easily continue higher, but in any event should be rather volatile next week.
There’s no two ways to say it… It sucks to be forced to lock a rate after a big move higher. We don’t know where rates will open up on Monday, and historically, big moves like today’s tend to get a few brief instances of respite even if rates ultimately continue higher. It could even be the case that today’s rates are the highest we’ll see for weeks to come. But most importantly, we’d note that the aforementioned instances of respite don’t always happen, and when they don’t, things tend to move in the other direction in a big way. Please be aware that this is a risk in floating at the moment, should you be considering trying to take advantage of any potential pull-backs.
Midtown Direct Community Cultural Venues Nominated for the 5th Annual JerseyArts.com “People’s Choice” Awards
And the winner is…..stay tuned when Discover Jersey Arts, a partnership between the New Jersey State Council on the Arts and ArtPride New Jersey Foundation, announces the winners of the 5th Annual JerseyArts.com “People’s Choice” awards.
It’s no surprise that several Midtown Direct Community institutions have made the nominations list – we are an area rich in arts and culture – making our communities a definite top arts destination. Just like the celebrity People’s Choice Awards, you can voice your choice, pay tribute and show support for your favorite places. It’s a really fun idea.
The Midtown Direct nominating list includes:
SOPAC (South Orange Performing Arts Center – “Favorite Performing Arts Center
Paper Mill Playhouse – “Favorite Theater to See a Musical”
Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey – “Favorite Theater to See a Play”
Visual Arts Center of New Jersey – “Favorite Art Gallery”
South Orange International Blues Festival – “Favorite Music Festival”
These five cultural gems are a great source of pride for our Midtown Direct residents and visitors. Click here for a full list of nominees and cast your ballot in support of your favorite local nonprofit arts groups. Five lucky voters will be selected to win an item of their choice from the JerseyArts.com online store. Online voting runs from December 11 through January 22.
Discover New Jersey Arts was created to increase awareness and participation of the arts in the Garden State. Other participating organizations include the New Jersey Theatre Alliance, South Jersey Cultural Alliance and New Jersey Division of Travel and Tourism.
The winners will be announced in February 2013. Then plan a visit to one of these great venues for a play, art exhibit or symphony. It’s a true joy to experience top notch productions and talent so close to home.
One of my primary responsibilities is to share the latest trends and offer tips to help buyers and sellers in every way possible. This month KCM’s (Keeping Matters Current) blog features a post by Ken H. Johnson, Ph.D., Florida International University & Editor of the Journal of Housing Research, well worth sharing and some food for thought for my community clients and friends.
The good news — the housing market is on the upswing and starting to show signs of recovery. This means that sellers often think they can list their property at a higher price and then adjust when necessary. But is that really the best strategy? Are there adverse effects from changing the listing price of your home? This is an age-old question that has been troubling real estate professionals as well as sellers almost every day. Research scientifically conducted by John R. Knight, has no clear results or consensus, but his conclusions certainly ring true.
Knight’s findings are very interesting as he investigates changing a property’s listing price. The research indicates that, on average, properties which experience a listing price change take longer to sell and suffer a greater price discount in the end than similar properties. What’s more, the bigger the price change the longer the marketing time and ultimately even greater price reductions. Finally, as for which properties are most likely to experience a price change, Knight concludes the greater the initial mark-up; the higher the likelihood that this property will experience a listing price change.
Bottom Line Implications
Sellers as well as Brokers/Agents must be aware of the importance of getting the price correct from the start. That’s where my team and I can help – we have our pulse on this market and the experience and knowledge to get your home sold quickly and profitably. At our initial consultation, we will give you all the information needed about the market in your particular neighborhood; discuss timing and a personalized marketing strategy. After all, according to Knight, sellers wanting to over list will have a house sitting longer on the market that will end up selling for less.
Interestingly, Mr. Johnson’s research shows that changing the listing price up or down both lead to similar results found in Knight’s work – longer marketing times and lower selling price. Count on my team to get the price right at the start and to work incredibly hard to get your house sold.
One of the most beautiful sights every holiday season is the Turtleback Zoo Holiday Light Spectacular when more than 100,000 lights and 50 winter wonderland figures are illuminated. You’ll enter the zoo and gaze upon a breathtaking scene.
Now in its 5th year, the show seems to get bigger and brighter. This year there is no admission fee so that more Midtown Direct community families can enjoy the extraordinary magic of the lights. The kids will have fun posing for pictures with costumed characters and illuminated figures of animals, holiday scenes and snowflakes – everything from turtles to toy soldiers and even Santa and his reindeer. Many of the animals become more active in the cold presenting a good chance to observe the night habits of the various species. In addition, the Essex Farm, Tam-ring Gibbons Reserve, Tropical Currents Aquarium and the Reptile House will remain open.
In lieu of admission, the zoo will collect non-perishable food items, new unwrapped toys and new or gently used winter coats. Last year, the zoo was able to donate almost six tons of food to the Community Food Bank of New Jersey and present close to 1,500 toys for Toys for Tots and the Make a Wish Foundation. This is the true spirit of the holidays and what our communities are all about.
The holiday light show is sponsored this year by Covanta Energy, PSE&G, MsLoone’s Boathouse, The Zoological Society of New Jersey and the Essex County Parks Foundation. The Spectacular will run from 5 pm to 9pm on December 7 – 9 and daily from December 14 through January 1. The zoo will be closed December 24 and 25. Photographs with Santa Claus will be taken at the zoo every Friday, Saturday and Sunday until December 23. The Turtleback Zoo is part of The Association of Zoos & Aquariums and one of our community’s treasures.
Remember to bundle up, bring your camera and head to Essex County’s Turtleback Zoo. Hot cocoa and other refreshments can be purchased in the zoo’s cafeteria. Light up the holidays this season while strolling the paths of the zoo and enjoy a memorable family celebration. Visit their website for more information.
Wishing all a happy and peaceful holiday season.
This article is very timely given that we are in a very low inventory market. Many people think they need to wait til spring to sell in their homes in the communities of Millburn, Short Hills, Chatham, Summit, Livingston, Maplewood and Westfield to get the best price, but that’s not always true… you will have more competition in the spring, but the buyers who are out there right now are very serious and will jump on that perfect house.I am happy to meet with you for a consultation and discuss timing with you. Feel free to call me on my cell. 973-200-6261 There’s no obligation whatsoever, I just want to help you weigh your options and make the best decision for your family. CLICK HERE TO READ ARTICLE