Category Archives: Englewood

The art of selling homes for less #1

A new segment for Eating Real Estate, is to highlight for sellers the many ways that most realtors market homes homes so they sell for less than they should sell for.  The Art Of Selling Homes For Less will show you how typical real estate marketing works to decrease the value of homes, rather than to increase it.

It’s mediocrity at it’s best.  And it costs sellers a fortune.

If your listing description is anything less than what you would read in Architectural Digest, then your home will take longer to sell and it will sell for less than it should.  And if your photos are anything less than the staged rooms and professional quality that you would see in any home magazine (locally 201 Magazine), then your home won’t stand out from the crowd like it needs to….and WOW someone, then your home will sell for less than it should.

Great marketing creates better results than mediocre marketing.  Guaranteed!

Would you rather see your Tenafly, Cresskill or Englewood New Jersey home marketed to look like something from Sears or Kmart.  Or would you rather have a Neiman’s look?

Which one do you think will help to increase your homes value?

The Art Of Selling Homes For Less #1

What are they trying to tell us in these photos?  From the midget low angle, to the the lack of flash lighting, this room looks yuck!  Looks like the photos were taken using a disposable CVS camera. This makes Kmart furnishings look good.

Would this make you want to rush out and see this home? If not, then what good is it.

Make no mistake about it…this is one of the main reasons why homes sell for less than they should, and why it takes so long to sell them.

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Home Sales Report: Closter, Cresskill, Demarest, Englewood, Englewood Cliffs, Haworth, Norwood, Tenafly

The numbers are in, and they are what they are…good, bad or indifferent

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Here’s the stats for the number of homes sold, and the dollar volume for the sales for the following towns in Bergen County, New Jersey:

  • Closter
  • Cresskill
  • Demarest
  • Englewood
  • Englewood Cliffs
  • Haworth
  • Norwood
  • Tenafly

Sorry, but for this post I’m only providing the cold hard facts.  Commentary will follow in a future post.

Just remember…in real estate, numbers can be misleading, and they often are.

Even though the number of homes of homes sold, and the dollar volume had dramatically decreased for this time period for Tenafly…should we really be concerned?

If you need a quick fix on the facts behind the numbers, you can email me at Snkonefsky@gmail and we can have a short chat.

Another blow to the housing market

A refreshing look at the housing market and what makes it tick.  The future will be nothing like the past, so it’s time to stop dreaming of the past, and start seeing the new reality…and start changing the suburbs, so they thrive, rather than fail.

Towns like Tenafly, Cresskill, Englewood, and Alpine New Jersey need to begin looking at the future of their communities, because as of now they have neglected to do so, and things are only going to get worse.

What are they waiting for

As if the housing market didn’t have enough problems, here’s one more to add to the pile: Student loan debt

Move up buyers make only a small portion of today’s home buyers…so how will towns like Tenafly attract new buyers over the next decade

As an article in today’s New York Times points out…Report details woes of student loan deb…

outstanding student loan debt has risen to more than $1 trillion.

The housing market in Tenafly, Cresskill, Alpine…and everywhere else will start feeling the pinch.  DFor those who get a jump on it and start creating a new type of suburb will prosper.  Those that don’t…well they’ll just fail

For first time buyers who make up a majority of today’s home buyers, this is a killer, because how will they raise the down payments necessary to qualify for a mortgage.  And what’s even worse, many of these loans were “subprime styled loans” made to people who really couldn’t afford to pay them back.

This is another part of a massive problem that will affect home sales going forward.

But just because this affects home sales doesn’t mean it’s all bad news. When people can’t afford to buy a home, then they have little choice but to rent something…and this is a major incentive for developers, and investors who build and own apartment projects.

I realize that home sales are an important part of our economy, but all is not doom when people rent apartments rather than purchase homes.

This is one of many reasons why I believe that suburban communities need to revitalize their communities to attract a new generation of residents…not just first time buyers…but all buyers and renters.

As people flee the burbs for less expensive housing and taxes, communities are left with little choice but to adapt to a new need.  We simply don’t need the burbs like we used to.

Let me know what you think

Home sales data for Tenafly and surrounding towns. There are some surprises

Here is a close look at how the local housing markets are performing in our area: It’s all facts, and no fiction or misrepresentation of the numbers

  • Closter
  • Cresskill
  • Demarest
  • Englewood
  • Englewood Cliffs
  • Haworth
  • Norwood
  • Tenafly

Remember, real estate is local, so it really doesn’t matter what all the broad based reports are reporting.  It only matter what is happening locally.

Tenafly is still the king of home sales in our region.  Even though the sales figures are down across the board, the number of homes sold and the dollar volume for those home sales is still considerably more than all the other towns.

Tenafly is still considered the best place to buy a home, even if it costs more to live here compared to the other towns:

  • Tenafly dollar sales volume is 4xs more than in Norwood and Haworth
  • And it’s 1.5 –  2xs more than most of the other towns on the chart
  • Tenafly has more hoes sales than in all the other towns
  • Tenafly represents 23% of all homes sold in all of the towns combined on this chart
  • Tenafly ranks #3  for the average sales price, but considering the the number of homes sold and the dollar volume, the ranking is closer because of the diversity of homes that have been sold
  • In 2011 the dollar sales volume in Tenafly was 50% + higher than any other town on this chart
  • And the average sales price in Tenafly was only beat out Englewood Cliffs…but EC had only 46 homes sold compared to 158 homes sold in Tenafly

In the next post, I’ll discuss a major misrepresentation of the housing market in Tenafly.  One agent stared that sales in Tenafly had increased by double digits, when the facts show that Tenafly is in fact at -9% for the year to date. That’s about a 20 point mistake.  That’s a big difference, and it’s misleading..  Catch the data in my next post…”keeping the facts honest“.

As always. this sit5e is about homes and up to date market information and how using these number can help sellers to batter market their homes to buyers. And we aim to help buyers, by providing them with information that will help them analyze their purchase decisions based on facts…not fiction.  And that will help to avoid making a huge mistake.

New home, no worries. No way! They have it wrong

New home buyer beware

An article in northjersey.com and in The Record…New home, no worries. No way! is the perfect example of why home buyers should only consider purchasing new homes from quality builders, who have years of a long standing and proven track record, and not just buy a home because it’s priced at the right number.

When buying a new home in Englewood, Tenafly or anywhere else in Bergen County, you get what you pay for.

Years ago when the market was hot, so many people pooled their money with small investors and over night became builders.  Theses “builders” bought up lots of property, and in most cases over paid for them, built substandard, but fairly attractive homes. But the builders either cut back on certain things because they wanted to make more money.  These people hired the contractors who cave then the cheapest bids…and that’s where all the problems started.

When I was building, I rarely hired the cheapest contractor, and when I did it was always a disaster.  It cost me more to fix their lousy workmanship, then if I had hired the most expensive contractor.

…The ironic thing here is that, this practice is even a bigger problem for people who are renovating their homes.  The hire the contractor with the cheapest price, and that’s the worst thing they could do.

Here’s the problem for consumers…either hire the best contractors who have the best sub-contractors…who charge more money, or hire a contractor with the cheapest bid, and roll the dice, because you’re going to have a lot of sleepless nights.

These buyers were happy to have this home, but once they moved in, they started noticing a multitude of problems: substandard heating and air conditioning systems, plumbing that didn’t work right, windows that leaked, roof leaks, unlevel floors, doors that wouldn’t open and shut right, cracks in walls and a whole host of other problems.

Often by the builder was either out of business and were untouchable because they built under a shell corporation with no assets, or they were just unresponsive to the buyers.

And the buyer just as in this article were left with major problem problems to deal with.

In the case pointed out in this article, it’s misleading and erroneous to state that the warranty has no protection for the purchasers.

The New Home Warranty Act is by no means a light-weight program.  It was started in the late 1970’s by the National Association of Homebuilders as a way to protect the building industry and builders from the problems that were being created by people and companies who didn’t have the qualifications to be great builders.  So they started this program to differentiate the good builders from the bad ones…and to set quality work standards that went far beyond any building code.

Building codes are meant to protect people from safety and structural problems.  It’s a minimum set of standards, and doesn’t guarantee that products will even be installed according to the manufactures specifications.  That responsibility falls on the builders and contractors.

Fact

Building inspectors are not empowered to deal with most quality control issues.  Their job is to inspect homes are built to a statewide code, which are mainly safety and structural issues. Licensed building inspectors are not trained construction experts…and that’s why they are called code officials….and for good reason.

The States and local municipalities do not want to shoulder the liabilities for quality control issues, such as the ones in this article.  They don’t want to be blamed or have to defend disputes that could easily hurt a town financially, if they were found responsible for causing a defect.  Municipal code officials and the towns, cannot be held liable for construction defects, unless they were found to be grossly negligent…which is almost impossible.

In New Jersey we have a State wide building code that building officials must follow.  So no matter where a home is built in New Jersey that home was built to the same code standards as all the other homes.  This is a good thing for consumers and builders.

Warranties

  • The New Home Warranty Act makes New Jersey the only State in the nation to mandate a 10 warranty for every new home that is built by a builder, and sold to consumers.
  • The New Jersey Home Builders Association started this program on their own and builders could elect to participate or not to participate.  The program was designed to protect buyers from shoddy construction and to promote those builders who provided this warranty, as quality builders…it was the gold standard of quality.  Builders in other states offer 10 year insured warranties, but they’re not mandated.
  • The builders program was called Home Owners Warrant (HOW), and it was written by the NAHB and underwritten buy a major insurance company. The New Jersey Home Builders Association started offering this program on the own, The State then recognized the benefits for consumers, and it became law. It is an insured warranty that stays with the home even if the builder is no longer in business.  And the standards are fairly strict, and it covers every aspect of the home.  It’s a program that is aimed at quality control.  If there is a dispute that can’t be worked out between the builder and buyer, either party can ask for an arbitration to be held.  And that arbitration is binding on the builder.
  • The few warranty companies that are approved to do business in NJ are set up to deal with these problems fairly and within a reasonable time frame. The offer of a $200,000 settlement is considered extremely high.

Unfortunately for these buyers, the builder had to have known that there were leaks, because I’m sure it rained numerous times during the construction process. Good builders continually look for evidence of such problems and correct the problem as soon as it arises. Though there are times that every builder has had some water leakage that didn’t occur until long after the home was completed…the reputable builders fix the problem, and bad builders don’t.

It’s basically impossible for the repairs on this home to cost $1million, unless the contractors giving the estimates were trying to rip off the owner. The replacement value for the this home isn’t $1million…even if the home was destroyed by a fire.

Home Inspectors

Though they are licensed, using a home inspector when you purchase a home by no means is a guarantee that the home you buy will be free of latent defects. That good they’re not. But it’s better than taking the word from a realtor that it’s a great home and you’ll live happily ever after there.

Home inspectors are a valuable asset to buyers, but they don’t have x-ray vision to see behind walls

Though I’ve seen numerous inspector reports filled with erroneous information and insane assumptions, they are for the most part unbiased in their reports, and anal at the least in their inspections and reporting. And yes, they can and do blow deals that sometimes shouldn’t be blown. But it is what it is.

Sorry to say that it’s buyer beware when buying a home.  But in most instances you unfortunately get what you pay for.  So be smart, ask a million questions, and research your purchase.  Don’t just take anyone’s word when buying a home…new or old.

A home inspector wouldn’t have been able to tell this that there were potential because the home was completed, and it was impossible to see structural defects that were behind enclosed walls.

Disclosure: The reason I’m well versed on this topic is from 1980-1984 I was the Northeast Regional Underwriting Manager, and the east coast Multi-Family Manager for the HOW Corporation…which was a subsidiary of the National Association of Home Builders.  They hired me in 1980 to find out why they were paying out so much money for construction claims.  In a one-year period I conducted thousands of site investigations of homes being built by our builder members from New York to South Carolina.  Needless to say I found that there were some builders who were building the worst homes imaginable.  We threw those builders out of the program.  However, I also found that a vast majority of builders built quality homes.

During my stay at HOW, I revoked our insurance from a number of builders in NJ, and as a result, those builders were no longer allowed to build homes in the state…unless the State allowed them to use their program at a tremendous premium surcharge, and with periodic inspections.

I also worked with the NAHB, NJHBA and the NJ DCA redrafting the warranty programs coverage so that it worked even better for consumers. And the re-drafts came about at the request of the NJHBA.  They demanded a quality program.  They’re proud to be the only State to mandate this requirement.

And from 1984-1985 I was the Northeast Regional Underwriting Manager for the 2-10 Warranty Company that is mentioned in this article.  I was responsible for setting the ground work for them to become an approved warranty provider in New Jersey.

Even though this owner has a different opinion, this is a program that protects home buyers.

I have been building homes for more than 30 years, and in 1986 I started building homes in northern New Jersey and proudly used the HOW warranty program.

Next time you’re looking at a new home for sale in Tenafly or anywhere else in New Jersey, ask about the builder and his experience.  If it’s a group of investors who don’t have a track record…run!