The Importance of Mortgage Pre-Approvals

Bathroom Style Décor Move Defies Home Resale Effect

It was tucked away in a backwater of The Wall Street Journal’s online Design tab, which is actually just a sub-section of their Real Estate section. “The Rise of the Colorful Bathroom” was like a conceptual hand grenade tossed into the placid lagoon of home decor orthodoxy.

As far as design insights likely to affect our Northern New Jersey’s home resale market, the pointers found in Design lately haven’t been particularly noteworthy. Earlier this month, there had been a piece about metal versions of “The Classic Peacock Chair.” That might have had some impact in Rangoon, but here in Ringwood, Wanaque, Pompton Lakes and Wayne, where peacock chairs are few and far in between, it scarcely ruffled a feather. Similarly, there had appeared “A Décor Lesson in Subtle Patriotism” with marginally subtle red, white and blue illustrations—but especially since it first appeared after the July 4th weekend, Passaic County readers were unlikely to run that one up the flagpole…

But now, tucked away beside a Most Popular Videos sidebar, came this subversive “Rise of the Colorful Bathroom.” A generous illustration showed an example of how far the author was willing to go: it portrayed a stark blue bathroom wall and sink featuring clapboard-like blue-and-gray porcelain tiles: theblue plank special. Did this mark a warning shot over the bow of one of the longest unchallenged home décor conventions—that the American bathroom palette should be, in the author’s phrase, “compulsively neutral”?

If so, would the new trend force homeowners poised to enter the Northern New Jersey’s home resale market to have to expensively retool their bathrooms’ calm33-Gold-white-bathroom-decoring hues?

Fortunately for the budgets
of Passaic County home sellers, a close reading made that unlikely. Although the National Kitchen and Bath Association (NKBA) does report some tip-toeing by their members in the direction of bathroom color infusions, no more than 10%-15% of them actually expect to decorate more baths “in green, blue and black”—at least for this year. There were also tacit admissions that the Rise of the Colorful Bathroom might become somewhat diluted before it spreads much further. “Muted beats candy bright” was the caption describing a mid-toned bathroom, displaying an almost traditional “quiet, palatable personality.”

Some designers also expressed some reluctance to jump on the Colorful Bathroom train—at least in one part of the rainbow. Palm Springs designer Christopher Kennedy may opt for small touches of bright color, but will always “avoid pea greens and acid greens” because “they aren’t so great on the skin.” He goes in a rosier direction, with hip colors like blush “because it makes you look beautiful.”

As far as Ringwood, Wanaque, Pompton Lakes and Wayne home resale prospects are concerned, one devil-may-care subhead gives away a quite possible impact. The truly cool blues to emphatic blacksare labelled “resale-be-damned” colors. As we near the end of the hectic peak selling period, most PassaicCounty sellers are continuing to choose much more of a “resale-be-welcomed” disposition. If that describes your own stance, you’ll find it echoed when you give me a call!

Homes Listed In Northern New Jersey Sometimes Cause A ‘5-Year Rule’ Breach

The “5-Year Rule” as it applies to Northern New Jersey homes listed for sale is a pretty good one, as far as real estate rules-of-thumb go. It’s part of the family of truisms that have been around long enough that you’d figure they have to be reliable—like the rule that you should plan on maintenance costing 1% of a listed home’s selling price per year; or the one the government often quotes that housing costs should be no more than 30% of income.

The 5-Year Rule has it that if you don’t know you will remain in a new home for at least 5 years, you’d be better off not buying. The reasons are the oft-cited dollars and cents issues. In addition to the closing costs, commissions, and costs of moving your household, emotional issues are often cited: as in the familiar “moving is one of the most stressful events in life.

But like most other similar guidelines, the 5-Year Rule is useful as a starting point only. If you have no overriding issues that have set you to checking out the homes listed in Ringwood, Wanaque, Pompton Lakes and Wayne, it’s a reasonable starting point. But if other factors are nudging you into action, it’s only one way to look at the practicality of buying a home—not the final verdict. Some outside factors that might make it worth at least considering overruling the 5-Year Rule:

  • shutterstock_84147931One of the homes listed is a perfect fit AND a genuine steal. When you come across a property that is exactly what you have been looking for and the asking price is clearly below what comparable Passaic County homes are currently commanding at market, it might make sense to reconsider the 5-Year Rule. The reason is simple: if you have to move, you have reason to believe that you will be able to sell at a price that offsets the costs of the transactions.
  • The emotional cost of not owning your home is substantial. This is easily overlooked, but for some people (often, for those whose entire childhood was centered in one home) the feeling of being untethered—or of delaying the familial commitment that accompanies the institution of homeownership—can be emotionally disruptive. It’s impossible to put a price on this, but it can make a real difference in well-being.
  • Knowing what you don’t know. The 5-Year Rule is based upon a certainty: that you will be moving away from Ringwood, Wanaque, Pompton Lakes and Wayne in at most 5 years. But what if there is less certainty? What if you simply don’t know? This is a fairly common 21st century conundrum, and it can lead to paralysis in any number of decision-making situations. Especially right now, when the homes listed in the Northern New Jersey are qualifying for today’s incredibly low mortgage interest rates, it may be worthwhile to pencil in the cash flow tradeoff versus the renting alternative. If you still don’t know 5 years from now, that same tradeoff might look a lot less worth doing!

When the 5-Year Rule isn’t at issue (or if it might give way to one of the overriding factors), you want to be sure you are being shown the listed Passaic County homes that offer the best value in your price range. That’s where I will be certain to be your strongest asset. Call me!


Northern New Jersey Homeownership—And A Benefit For Children

Homeownership is the bedrock of the American Dream!” was long an unchallenged byword in American culture. Certainly most Ringwood, Wanaque, Pompton Lakes and Wayne homeowners agreed during most of the 20th Century. That premise may have been rocked a little during the early phases of the Great Recession that shook the country starting in 2008, but as the housing recovery gathered steam, faith in the concept eventually returned for most folks.

The economic advantages of owning your own Northern New Jersey home have been particularly dramatic lately, as historically low mortgage interest rates have made the benefits of homeownership on the family budget dazzlingly apparent. One of the further benefits was just offered in a seminar given by aprominent research economist.

homeownerAs you might guess from the description of the speaker, some of the details in the hour-long presentation tended to get a little obscure. When economists have something to say, often their verbiage is less than easy to fathom—so when a research economist speaks, the audience had better pay close attention. The impenetrability factor can be daunting. Nonetheless, since this talk was presented by the National Association of Realtors®, I thought its message would be worth tuning in on.

The title of the summary was “House Price Growth When Children are Teenagers—A Path to Higher Earnings?” The question mark was a hopeful indication of the unbiased scientific nature of the research (and there’s no reason to doubt that)—but the body of evidence described doesn’t leave much question.

The answer is “yes.”

It’s the details that are somewhat challenging, but the compact explanation is that when house prices rise in a household with a 17-year-old, that teenager’s income as an adult can be expected to be above average. Likewise, a 17-year-old in a household that rents the family residence while house prices are going up has a higher likelihood of earning less in their adult years.

No explanation is confirmed for why there is such an impact, except a suggestion that they are more likely to attend a top-ranked college. In any case, the effect was marked in a sample of 892 respondents:

“For every 10% increase in home prices that occurred when children were 17 years old, the income of homeowners’ children as adults was 9% higher on average, while the income of renters’ children as adults was 15% lower.”

The takeaway for Northern New Jersey homeowners is assuredly positive. It’s long been known that research shows many economic and social benefits to homeownership—among them a boost in the likelihood of educational achievement for children—probably because of the effects of a stable housing environment. Currently, since rising home values have been with us for quite a while, these latest findings of a positive outlook for “the economic trajectory of the homeowner’s children” is welcome news.

Fostering homeownership in Ringwood, Wanaque, Pompton Lakes and Wayne is my principal professional goal, so it’s good to hear confirmation of what seems clear on a daily basis (not to mention, another good reason to give me a call)!

Slow Economic News = Even Lower Mortgage Rates

If you keep track of the ebb and flow of U.S. economic news, you might also be aware of how it relates to some things that happen here. Particularly in the way the Northern New Jersey’s mortgage rates have been responding to the ups and downs of announcements from Washington, the cause and effect relationship has settled into a fairly predictable tango. Last week was no exception, with a dip from afar leading to some more good news here.

The less-than-buoyant news from Washington came in the form of what CNBC called a “weak” Gross Domestic Product reading for the second quarter. That news caused a drop in mortgage interest rates, which triggered an increase in home purchase applications (now 13% higher than a year ago) and a 10% increase in refinance activity from the previous week. Any time our Ringwood, Wanaque, Pompton Lakes and Wayne’s mortgage interest rates fall, it of course it spells opportunity for both buyers and sellers here: the asking price for a home in Ringwood, Wanaque, Pompton Lakes anLowest-Mortgage-Ratesd Wayne is one thing, but sooner or later, most prospective buyers get down to what the monthly cost of buying will be—and at current historically low interest rates, that number is often surprisingly affordable.

Why a drop in the U.S. GDP—which is certainly not a welcome news item—should result in good mortgage news in Ringwood, Wanaque, Pompton Lakes and Wayne is due to a mix of elements. The Wall Street Journal provided a few hints. After noting that recent data releases (retail sales stalled in July; wholesale prices fell) caused Treasury note yields to briefly hit their “second lowest level in history,” they concluded that such news “suggests September and perhaps December rate hikes are less than likely.” Readers were on their own, left to grapple with why that should be. If previous history is a guide, they probably remembered that the Federal Reserve is afraid of weakening the economy by closing the taps on borrowing—which is what results from rate raises. Looked at another way (as economists always do), strong economic news spurs activity and borrowing, so lenders expect that higher rates won’t discourage loan applicants. When the opposite happens, only temptingly lower rates keep the borrowing cycle going.

Passaic County rate-watchers didn’t have to wade through the WSJ financial analyses, though. Passaic County Twitter addicts were invited to follow along as well. It turns out that the Mortgage Bankers Association tweets all the time. By late Friday, they were welcoming the weekend with such TGIF mortgage tidbits as, “average interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgage drops to 3.65%.”

The bad news wasn’t really terrible; in fact, it was moderated by some healthier employment statistics. All in all, though, the effect of the rock-bottom mortgage interest rate news gives Northern New Jersey buyers and sellers a strong reason for optimism—as well as an excellent reason to give me a call!

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4 Ways Northern New Jersey Open Houses Can Beat The Heat

If you happened upon the Weather Channel’s site last week and were greeted with headlines like, “Massive Heat Dome Inbound” and “Excessive Heat in the East and West,” it could have let you feel better about our Northern New Jersey’s own weather. After all, what do you expect from August in Ringwood, Wanaque, Pompton Lakes and Wayne? At least we weren’t under a massive heat dome… (or were we)?

The fact is, no matter how uncomfortable the warmup was here, the Weather Channel reported that “Russia and the Southern Ocean” reportedly had the worst of it. In Russia, fires were said to have broken out because of the heat spell. An anthrax outbreak was blamed on it. Since the “Southern Ocean” isn’t a country, it complained less than Russia. And with no anthrax at all, we here in Ringwood, Wanaque, Pompton Lakes and Wayne should probably count our blessings.

When it comes to holding open houses in this Northern New Jersey, though, weather is always an issue. In the winter, really bad weather can derail open houses altogether: cascading re-scheduling has been known to result.

Summer open houses are generally less risky, scheduling-wise…but when true heat waves send those massive heat domes our way, even uncomfortably warm weather can be countered via a few simple countermeasures. Four common suggestions for creating happier open house visitors:

1.Move the air. Whether yoheatur home has central air conditioning, strategically-placed window units or splits, a swamp cooling setup or dehumidifiers, the comfort factor advances when inside air is on the move. Fan power settings should be set to minimize noise while assuring that the atmosphere isn’t stuck in one place.

2.Adjust the shades. This is a rare circumstance when you can abandon the open house commonplace that advises maximizing sunlight. If it’s a hot afternoon, pull the shades lest the sun-facing windows magnify the blast furnace effect.

3.Put out chilly refreshments. Let’s face it: those whose open houses happen to fall on 90+ temperature days could probably turn a nice profit if they let Junior run a lemonade stand out front. Even if Junior isn’t around, pitchers of ice water in the kitchen are a minimum. Instead of the standard chocolate chip cookies, consider putting out a tray of chilled watermelon cubes, or ice-cooled grape clusters. And if the neighbor’s kids have a lemonade stand going down the street, consider bribing them to move it onto your lawn (when a ‘free lemonade’ sign is added, open house success is in the bag)!

4.For Ringwood, Wanaque, Pompton Lakes and Wayne open houses with swimming pools—make the most of it! Short of inviting your visitors to jump right in, you can capitalize on what makes a pool such an asset. Consider setting your listing literature out there on the table beneath the welcoming poolside umbrella, with a few chairs inviting a sit-down. The prospects will be grateful for the breather…and won’t be able to help drinking in the poolside ambiance is at its best!

We’re still in the summer selling season—which has been “hot” in more ways than one. Open houses can definitely do well in Ringwood, Wanaque, Pompton Lakes and Wayne, with a little creativity. For instance, there was the time And it’s definitely still a great time of year to give me a call! or Email me at for your Real Estate Needs!