Friday, January 30, 2009

Existing-Home Sales Show Surprising Gains

Existing-home sales rose unexpectedly in December while inventory declined, led by a surge of sales in the West, according to the National Association of Realtors®.

Existing-home sales – including single-family, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops – jumped 6.5 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.74 million units in December. The number compares to a downwardly revised pace of 4.45 million units in November, but 3.5 percent below the 4.91 million-unit pace in December 2007.

For all of 2008, there were about 4.9 million existing-home sales -- 13.1 percent below the 5.65 million transactions recorded in 2007. This is the lowest volume since 1997 when there were 4,371,000 sales.

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, said home prices continue to fall significantly.
“It appears some buyers are taking advantage of much lower home prices,” he said. “The higher monthly sales gain and falling inventory are steps in the right direction, but the market is still far from normal balanced conditions. Buyers will continue to have an edge over sellers for the foreseeable future.”

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Border Wars in Woodland Park

From The Clifton Journal:

A real estate developer is still eyeing a residential road atop Garret Mountain for service to a Woodland Park (formerly West Paterson) housing project, despite a City zoning board's unanimous decision to reject the proposal.

Since October of 2006, Garret Pointe Associates, based in Short Hills, has been battling Clifton's Zoning Board of Adjustment for permission to use Paxton Street as an entrance to 144 housing units that would sit on approximately 9 acres of an old quarry in Woodland Park, formerly West Paterson. A small fraction of the units would be designated as low and moderate income housing.

Last month, the Board voted to deny an application for a use variance to turn Paxton Street into an ingress for the complex.

"The access to the site that existed in West Paterson was to be built on the side of a cliff in Clifton. In preserving our namesake, as per our Master Plan and as per the state plan in protecting the environment, we chose what we could do to protect the mountain," said City Planner Dennis Kirwan.

Frank Carlet, the Clifton-based attorney for Garret Pointe, said the developer is not finished pushing for use of the roadway. He said the firm would take their case to court because Paxton Street is the only option for access to the apartments.

Holzi and fellow neighbors formed Mountainside Organization and have been fighting against development along the mountain for about 30 years. The West Paterson planning board originally denied the Garret Pointe application in 2002, but a state judge overturned the ruling.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Big Belly

Convincing cities throughout the U.S. to go green is not as easy as it appears. There will always be resistance from skeptics who don’t believe in green house gases, as well as from those who fear change. Take for example DEC Green Corp., a Bronx based green company which manufactures The Big Belly -- the world’s first and only solar powered compacting receptacle, designed to reduce the need for the deployment of garbage trucks by as much as 70%. With Big Belly, municipalities can reduce the carbon footprint by not having to run their trucks multiple times each day or week. The benefits include reduction in fuel emmissions, less vehicular congestion and compacted trash occupies less space in our landfills. The Big Belly site links to a video report which appeared on The Discovery Channel(and many more media clips).

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Tale of Two Towns

We've discussed Sperling's Best Places web site in regards to other towns in our area. Besides their top 10 lists, the site provides many other resources for comparing communities. Clifton & Little Falls are next door neighbors of very different sizes, but similar demographics(click on graphic to enlarge).

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Day One

Our challenges may be new. The instruments with which we meet them may be new. But those values upon which our success depends - hard work and honesty, courage and fair play, tolerance and curiosity, loyalty and patriotism - these things are old. These things are true. They have been the quiet force of progress throughout our history. What is demanded then is a return to these truths. What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility - a recognition, on the part of every American, that we have duties to ourselves, our nation, and the world, duties that we do not grudgingly accept but rather seize gladly, firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit, so defining of our character, than giving our all to a difficult task,

Monday, January 19, 2009

A Time For Service

Our incoming President has helped transform this Martin Luther King day into a day of service. It signals the beginning of a new era of community service that is energizing our nation. A good place to start is by getting involved with charities such as the Community FoodBank of New Jersey.
Food Donors annually contribute 56% of the 21 million pounds of food distributed by the FoodBank in the 2006 - 2007 fiscal year. This is a valuable contribution to our effort to fight hunger close to home. These donations enable the FoodBank to meet the food and nutrition needs of the hungry in their 18 county service territory.

· Canned Meat and Fish (Tuna)
· Canned Fruit and Fruit Juice
· Canned Pasta, chili, soup
· Pasta, Dried Beans, and Brown Rice
· Peanut Butter and Jelly
· Baby Food, Diapers, Formula

Sunday, January 18, 2009

30 Year Rates Continue to Dip Below 5%

Freddie Mac's latest surveys are showing the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 4.89 % with an average 0.7 point drop for the week ending January 15. Last year at this time, the 30-year FRM averaged 5.69 percent. The 30-year FRM has not been lower since Freddie Mac started the survey in 1971. 15 year morgages can now be had for 4.6%

Friday, January 16, 2009

3 Into 1 -- Wow!

(click on graphic to enlarge)
It's taken 3 years of flogging this blog, but we've finally reached a pinnacle of NJ eco/real blogdom. We've tried to focus on the positive and timely aspects of real estate, land/use and environmental innovation with a mix of optimimism and realism. For most of the last couple of years, one of our favorite portals, has had us on its Top Ten list of "Influencial NJ Liberal Blogs"(we're still not sure what's so liberal about real estate, land use or environmental consciousness). We were pleasantly surprised, this week, to see that they moved us up to the top of it's ranking. Next week, we'll try to do better.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Green House Gets A Mood Ring

The BrightBuilt Barn is an attempt to push the envelope of sustainable design. It is the practical outcome of an in-depth collaboration by a Who's-Who team of Maine's green engineers and professionals, and a visionary client to create a super green, offsite fabricated net-zero building that can be adapted and replicated over time. Designers, building fabricators, high performance building experts and solar energy professionals from all over the northeast have participated in the project.

The barn glows green when it is producing more energy than it consumes; yellow indicates a borderline condition; red means that energy usage is currently higher than required to meet our yearly Net Energy goal.

This could add a whole new dimension to "keeping up with the Jones'es".

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Perception vs Reality

Although home values in the Northeast have declined an a slower rate than most of the country, home ownerrs are still in denial about their local market. (click to enlarge)

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Essex Goes EBay

In the bad old days, it took serious political connections -- or an eagle eye for those small print classifieds -- for a vendor to find out about government contracts in time to submit a serious bid. Essex County Executive Joe DiVincenzo has just unveiled the new Essex County Purchasing Portal, an interactive web site that enables vendors of all sizes to learn about procurement opportunities with Essex County. The site is his latest initiative to improve operating efficiency and enhance outreach to the business community.

"This uniquely designed web page is our latest tool to inform and link vendors with procurement opportunities with Essex County," DiVincenzo said. "Through this portal, vendors can register their company with Essex County and be automatically notified about various procurement opportunities that fit the business profile they submit.

The Executive also noted the potential savings for Essex County in photocopying and postage costs, and the amount of hours employees spend mailing and faxing documents, could reach into the hundreds of thousands of dollars. It should also lead to increased competition among vendors.

The easy-to-navigate web site can be accessed directly or by clicking on the Purchasing Portal link found on the Essex County web site,The cyber portal includes listings of all contracts for competitively bid goods and services, requests for proposals and qualifications, and cooperative purchasing opportunities.

Vendors who want to do business with Essex County must register their business on-line and provide contact information and their New Jersey Business Registration Certificate. Vendors can then select the types of contracts they would like to be notified about from a list of 83 commodities. This information can be easily accessed by vendors or members of the public. Those interested in easier access to other government clients can look here.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Resolving to Green Up Your Home

Why not make some resolutions now that will help you lower your carbon footprint and increase the energy-efficiency of your home throughout the winter and for years to come. You don't have to wait for an act of congress. Planet Green will ease you into the coming "Green Year" with these 10 money-saving green home improvement ideas.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted. - Albert Einstein

Friday, January 02, 2009

First Aid for Homeowners

The number one resolution for many this year will be getting our financial house in order. If making your mortgage payments is becoming problematic, the place to look in New Jersey for help is the
Homeownership Preservation Refinance Program. HPRP is an affordable financing alternative to borrowers whose current mortgage is no longer appropriate for their current financial situation. The program provides a 30 or 40 year mortgage loan that is fixed at a low interest rate for the life of the loan. Both 30 year and 40 year loans are available. The HPRP program provides one on one mortgage and financial counseling to help with bills, closing cost assistance, and aid is available to all families earning up to 140% of area median income.

The loan provided can be equal to 100% of the appraised value of your house or 103% of the appraised value if you include private mortgage insurance in the mortgage loan.
You may be eligible for this assistance if you have recently experienced a financial hardship because your mortgage payment has increased due to terms such as a rate reset, and if you have been denied a mortgage modification.

You can also locate additional assistance programs offered by the state of New Jersey that can help you with paying many other types of bills and debt.