General Real Estate Information

Fresh paint on the walls, professional staging and an asking price that ends in 999 — when you’re selling your home, you’ll do whatever you can to help it stand out and sell faster. Because the National Association of Realtors is predicting modest growth for the 2017 real estate market, as a seller you want every edge you can get. And on the heels of the popular Consumer Electronics Show in January, perhaps that edge is a smarter home.

“Smart home features are designed to make homes more convenient, appealing, secure and energy-efficient — all of which are bonuses when you’re trying to sell a house,” says Geoff Lewis, president of RE/MAX, LLC. “Sellers who want to move their homes faster may benefit from adding smart features that make their properties more appealing to tech-minded buyers.”

According to IHS Markit and CNBC, 80 million smart home devices were delivered worldwide last year. That’s a 64 percent increase from 2015.

Here are six trending smart home features that might catch buyers’ attention and help sell your home faster:

* Keyless/remote entry door locks — Have you ever left the house and worried that you left the front door unlocked? If your home is equipped with a keyless/remote entry door lock — available from multiple manufacturers — you can use an app on your smartphone to lock the door from wherever you are. Some manufacturers make versions that will also send a text or email to your phone when the door opens. Locks that can be programmed with multiple entry codes also allow you to see who comes and goes and when.

* Smart lighting — From lighting automation that allows you to control lights remotely and wirelessly, to energy-efficient LED bulbs that can change color to match your mood and decor, lighting has come a long way. Some smart lights work in tandem with home automation systems to allow you to turn them on or off, or even dim them, from an app on a smartphone or tablet. Others require no communication hub and can be controlled directly from your mobile device. You can also put some smart bulbs on timers (using your wireless device), sync them with certain TV shows or movies, and integrate them with security cameras and thermostats.

* DIY security systems — Don’t want to sign a contract or deal with complex security systems? Install-it-yourself security systems are affordable and offer security features like cameras, sensors, motion detectors and alarms or sirens, without the need for a security service to monitor them.

* Smart appliances — The Internet of Things (IoT) — everyday objects that have network connectivity — includes a growing list of smart appliances. Many manufacturers are offering washers, dryers, refrigerators and other home appliances that can communicate with you — and each other — wirelessly. Many can be controlled remotely from your smartphone — so if you leave the house and can’t remember if you turned off the stove, you can check in and turn it off using your smartphone app.

While appliances aren’t always included in a home sale, they do make for interesting features that keep your home top of mind to buyers.

* Smart plugs — One of the easiest, most affordable smart home upgrades you can make is to add smart plugs to your home. These Wi-Fi-enabled plugs fit existing outlets and can be controlled from a smartphone app. Plug anything into a smart plug, like lights or a television, and you can turn it on or off remotely, track energy consumption, or even create an on-off schedule.

* Temperature controls — Programmable thermostats were just the beginning; today’s home temperature controls are even smarter. Like other smart home features, smart thermostats can be controlled remotely from your mobile device. You can program them to make automatic temperature adjustments and then use your smartphone to override the program like turning up the heat on a particularly cold day. Some smart thermostats learn from household behavior and adjust the temperature to meet your family’s needs and save energy, while others adjust based on the number of people in a room. And several can now be operated via voice-controlled virtual assistants.

“Many of these smart home features are surprisingly easy and affordable to install,” Lewis says. “Sellers who are open to the idea of investing a little money to possibly help get a speedier sale, may want to consider adding the smart features buyers will be looking for in 2017.”

If you’re thinking of selling your home, find more helpful information at Randolph-NJ-Homes.com.

As we head into the spring market, our 2017 has been one of the most active real estate markets in the past years as far as I can remember. With consistently low inventory and homes receiving contracts right away we are finally back into a sellers market. So far to date, we have not exceeded over 95 homes on the market when in the past we would have already seen 130-140 active homes at this time of the year. In any given 30 day period since January, we are seeing anywhere from 25-35 homes Under Contract.

The reason this is so important is because these numbers provide us with our towns absorption rate. An absorption rate simply put is the months it would take for current inventory to be absorbed based on the following equation, the number of active homes on the market divided by how many homes have gone under contract in the past 30 days. For example, as of today March 5th there are currently 95 homes on the market and in addition 27 homes went under contract in the past 30 days which gives a 3.5 month supply. Anywhere from 0-6 months is considered a sellers market, from 6 months plus is a buyers market and 5-6 months is a normal market where we saw ourselves in most of 2016.

So what does this mean for sellers? Your home still needs to be priced according to condition but with fewer homes as competition we are seeing more multiple offer situations.

For a complete list of homes that sold in Randolph & Shongum Lake, please visit Randolp-NJ-Homes.com for the most updated home sale information.

As your neighborhood resource, my real estate blogs are filled with advice and weekly triumphs and troubles that the road of real estate leads us through. Let me be your guide, I can provide you with the local market expertise and knowledge to give you the best advantage in today’s market.

 

 Randolph & Shongum Lake Real Estate

Thank you to all my past and present clients for making 2016 an amazing year! Circle of Excellence Gold is a great achievement and I could not have attained it without your trust and loyalty!

The process of buying and selling a house has evolved over the years but one thing has remained the same, taxes. When buying, selling, or even renovating a home, there are tax benefits and penalties that all homeowners must be aware of. The last thing a homeowner needs is to receive a penalty letter for not paying taxes on something they should have. Worse than that, you could end up paying too much in taxes by failing to take advantage of the exclusions and deductions made available by the IRS.

Home Ownership

When purchasing a home there are three important deductions to be aware of: points, mortgage interest, and property tax deductions. There are other tax benefits for homeowners, but they vary based on the state in which you own your home.

Mortgage points are a fee charged by the lender that is usually 1-2 percent of the total loan amount. Most buyers are not aware that these “points” can be used as deductions on your tax return. The handling of the mortgage points depends on who pays the fee and if it meets certain criteria set forth by the IRS. The criteria that the IRS specifies are this: It must stay within regional averages and not exceed certain yearly set limits. If the mortgage points meet these requirements and are paid by the buyer, they can use this payment as a deduction similar to paying interest on your mortgage. If the seller pays the fee, they can use the points to increase their basis in the home. An owner’s basis in a home is the amount they originally paid for the home plus any additional renovations and fees (ex. Points). There are some instances where the basis can be decreased as well. Once the basis in the home is determined, that is the number that the IRS will use to determine the gain/loss the owner receives from selling their home. If the points paid do not meet the criteria set forth by the IRS, they are not eligible to be deducted the year they are paid. They can, however, be deducted in even amounts over the life of the loan. So if you have a 30-year mortgage, you can take the points paid and divide it out over the 30 years.

Interest expense is any amount of interest you are charged on your mortgage during the year. Your primary home interest expense can be used as a deduction on your yearly taxes. For secondary homes, you can deduct your interest expense only if you live in the home for 14 days, or at least long enough to equal 10% of the time it is rented during the year. This allows you to deduct the interest from both your primary residence and your secondary home. As a homeowner, you will receive a Form 1098 from your mortgage company that will breakdown the amount of mortgage interest you paid during the year.

Property taxes paid to your local township are also deductible on your federal tax return. As a homeowner, if your property taxes are paid through your mortgage, you will receive a statement with the breakdown of property taxes paid during the year. If you do not have a mortgage, or property taxes are not included in your mortgage, then you can simply keep track of your payments and include what you paid during that calendar year. (Topic 504-505, IRS)

Renovations on a Home

Typically, home renovations are not eligible for tax deduction but there are a few exceptions. Improvements that fall under the energy efficiency guidelines set forth by the IRS like energy efficient air conditioners and hot water heaters are eligible for tax deduction. If you replace your air conditioner or hot water heater and it is energy efficient, then you can receive a deduction either in the year of purchase/installation or over the expected life of the unit.

If you make improvements to your home like a kitchen or bathroom remodeling, then this is not deductible on your taxes. However, there are benefits to keeping track of the cost of these renovations. The amount you spend on the remodeling of a room or adding a deck/patio to your home can be added to your basis in the home. This means that when you sell the home your realized gain will actually be lower, making it more likely to fall under the exclusion amount. A realized gain is the amount that the IRS qualifies as your gain on the sale of your home. This is calculated using the owner’s basis in the home as mentioned above. The realized gain is what the government uses to determine if you qualify for the Capital Gain Exclusion that will be explained more in the next section. Even if you are over the exclusion amount, your taxable gain (the amount of gain from your sale that the IRS can tax) will be lower due to the renovations or improvements you made being added to the cost you paid for the home.

Selling a Home

Though very exciting, selling a home can be stressful, as the transaction will certainly affect your tax position for the year. When selling a home, we are always focused on making as much on the house as possible but remember if you’re making money, Uncle Sam wants his share.

There are two things that all sellers must remember for tax purposes. 1.) Sellers should maintain records to establish their basis in the home (as explained in the home Renovations Section) and 2.) The realized gain as a result of the sale. For someone selling their primary residence (resided in the home two of the previous five years) you are allowed to use the Capital Gain Exclusion, as long as your gain does not exceed $250,000 if you are single, or $500,000 if you are married filing jointly. Capital Gain Exclusion allows you to exclude the gain up to those limits from your income on your federal tax return. Maintaining proper documentation for home improvements is important because it could result in you keeping your realized gain below the threshold and, therefore, not having to report any income from the sale in your total income for the year.

There are a couple of reasons that the IRS would allow you to take advantage of this exclusion if you haven’t lived in the house two of the previous five years. Those reasons include the following: death, divorce, job loss, employment changes that force the owner to move, multiple births from the same pregnancy, and partial exclusion if the sale is caused by damage done by a major storm. This exclusion can also be used for second homes. You will not be allowed to use the full amount, but if you can prove that you’ve lived in the home for a certain period of time, you will be allowed to take a partial exclusion based on the time lived in the home. (Topic 701 Selling your Home, IRS)

Conclusion

So whenever it comes to buying, selling, or renovating a home, you must be aware of the tax opportunities available through the IRS. Maintaining proper documentation allows you or your tax preparer to make the most of the available deductions. Just like no one wants to over pay for their home, no one wants to give more to the government than legally required. Best of luck!

Sources-RE/MAX NJ

For many in our area it seems as though real estate season starts in the spring and ends just as the kids head back to school in the early fall. While many home and property sales take place in the spring and summer, the reality of the real estate market is that it’s all about timing. Whether you’re a buyer or a seller of a home or property, there are optimal times throughout the year, but for the most part, the real estate market and when it’s ‘hot’ depends on many reasons.

SPRING AND SUMMER

Real estate inventory fluctuates with each season. For many of us that peruse the market throughout the year, the spring and summer months (for the majority of the country) seem to be when the most properties are available. Spring and summer and even early fall are considered the best times for real estate for buyers as the market will see a wide variety of properties, but it also likely means more competition from other buyers. The reality of this, though, is that if you live in a competitive real estate market, no matter the time of year people will search for real estate and sellers will be able to sell their properties.

One of the main things that drives an influx of real estate in the spring and summer are households with children – parents want and like to move when kids are out of school. If you live in an area where there are a number of families, or where schools are relatively close, spring and summer are great seasons for properties.

A handy tip for sellers: if you’re going to have an open house, the first Sunday of every month is considered the best day to host it. Many listings will hit the market on Thursday afternoon or Friday morning and have a rushed open house the Sunday after. To create intrigue and build momentum for your property, talk with your agent or Realtor to have your listing appear on Monday or Tuesday and follow with an open house the following weekend.

FALL AND WINTER

Early fall is also a very popular time to list property. Buyers will find a good number of listings hitting the market by those sellers who were not quite ready to list over the summer. If you’re a buyer, the winter is also a great time of year for buyers as sellers who are motivated and eager to sell will have no issue listing in the winter and making a deal. Listing in the winter allows sellers to get what they want for their property rather than feel pressured to make quick decisions in the spring or summer when competition is hot.

REAL ESTATE IN GENERAL

I have found that there are motivated sellers and buyers throughout the year and that this time of the year, January & February are more favorable because the inventory is so low and the buyers that come out in the winter are SERIOUS buyers. There are times in each season when listings and properties will be more plentiful. But it’s important to remember that while there might be more properties in the summer, that doesn’t mean the market will be any less competitive. Competition is the name of the game in real estate markets; if you’re interested in a new home or property, start your search as soon as possible.

Spring and summer will see more properties and greater competition while the late fall and winter will attract more serious sellers and buyers will find less competition overall. If you’re looking to buy or sell remember to enjoy yourself, and work with your agent or Realtor so you have the best real estate experience you can have.

Visit my website at Randolph-NJ-Homes.com to get the most up to date information on the recent homes sales.

I remember when we purchased our first home back in 1988 and mortgage interest rates were 11%! I worked for a bank at the time and was elated to get a discounted rate of 8% which helped us tremendously to purchase our brand new condominium which at the time was $125,000, a stretch for our budget.

Well luckily it is now 2016 right around the corner from 2017 and though the mortgage rates have slightly creeped up, they are still historically low. When buyers and sellers ask me questions about predicting the future market, I give them my professional opinion of course, but I always say “if I only had a crystal ball”, which I do not, I could predict with certainty the future of the real estate market.

So why do you ask is the real estate market so HOT? Because no one can predict where the mortgage interest rates will go to in the New Year and most people don’t realize how even the smallest increase in the rate can effect a buyers buying power. That my friends is getting buyers off the fence even in the midst of a cold holiday season when most sellers think no one is buying…think again.

Mortgage rates profound effect on affordability. Below is an example of how the price of waiting can affect your buying power;

Rate Payment Max Price Buying Power Difference
3.875%  $1,900  $380,000  $0
4.375%  $1,900  $363,000  -$17,000
4.875%  $1,900  $345,000  -$35,000

So what are you waiting for, with home prices at their lowest in years and definitely on the rise and historically low interest rates, there has never been a better time to buy a piece of the American dream and buy your own home!

For the latest Randolph market update, go onto www.Randolph-NJ-Homes.com to view monthly home sales.

autumn-home-mnt-checklistAs the summer heat fades into cool, crisp fall weather, it’s time to start thinking about preparing your home for the winter months. Colder, wet weather can take its toll on your home, and the cost of repairs can mount quickly if you don’t take the time to guard against it. Truly, an ounce of prevention can be worth several pounds of cure when it comes to prepping your home in October.

In addition to home maintenance, autumn offers an excellent time to review some key home safety items and ways to save on heating costs, as well. Let’s take a look at what you can do now to help give you some peace of mind for the winter ahead.

Makes sure your home properly drains.

If your gutters get clogged and pool up with water, you could suffer costly roof damage. Clean your rain gutters completely with a scraper or trowel, and then rinse them out with a hose to ensure the gutters and the downspouts freely drain. Also, tend to your yard’s drainage. Ensure your yard provides proper grading around the entire perimeter of your home so that water can’t collect around your foundation.

Prepare your yard.

While you’re in the yard, clean your patio furniture and either store or cover it. Don’t forget to turn off the water leading to outside water spigots, including sprinklers, and switch off any electronic sprinkler controllers, as well. Also, remove and store any hoses connected to spigots.

Tend to your garage door.

Inspect your garage door for any loose hinges and hardware. Lubricate them along with the rollers using a good penetrating oil. If you find any major repairs, especially those involving the springs, leave them to the professionals. If your garage door is wood, determine whether or not it needs a fresh coat of paint to protect it from the cold and wet ahead.

Check your doors and windows.

The seams and weather stripping around your doors and windows can leak hot air, and drive up costs. To check them turn on any exhaust fans in your home (such as bathroom fans or oven hoods), and then carefully move a lit candle or lit incense around the seams of your doors and windows. If the flame flickers or the smoke shifts, then you know air is leaking in (or out) at that point. Also, if you have screen doors or window covers that you typically remove before winter, now is the time to do it.

Keep your water heater clean and cozy.

If you have a gas-fired hot water heater, cut heating costs by insulating the tank so it keeps water warmer longer. These insulating wraps are available at most home stores, and provide installation instructions. While you’re at it, turn off the heater and water, release the pressure valve and drain out a bucket or two of water from the tank. Focus on fire safety. More home fires occur in winter than any other time of year. So, replace the batteries in all your smoke detectors, and test them to ensure they work properly. Also, create a family fire evacuation plan and meeting point and practice it. Map out escape routes for each room, and determine if you will need portable fire ladders. Place easily accessible fire extinguishers in key areas, and make sure they are charged.

By tackling these few simple chores, you’ll make winter more pleasant and prevent some nasty surprises next spring!

https://www.tapinto.net/towns/randolph/articles/nj-monthly-ranks-randolph-high-school-as-number-1

NJ Monthly Ranks Randolph High School as Number 16 in State Close this NJ Monthly Ranks Randolph High School as Number 16 in State.
Courtesy of TAP INTO
By WENDI MANDERIOLI

RANDOLPH, NJ – In its September issue, New Jersey Monthly ranked Randolph High School No. 16 on its’ list of top 100 public high schools in the state.

In 2014, Randolph High School was ranked 63 and in 2012 Randolph was number 37.

The rankings are based entirely on data reported by the schools to the State Department of Education, according to the magazine. The categories and indicators used in the ranking include school environment, student performance and student outcomes.

“Randolph strives to give our students the best education possible and prepare them for success in college and careers,” said Superintendent Jennifer A. Fano. “I am thrilled with the top 20 ranking by New Jersey Monthly and will continue to lead and support an amazing team that truly deserves such positive recognition.”

The top 20 Schools in the state according to NJ Monthly are:

1- Chatham High School

2-West Windsor-Plainsboro North.
3-Kinnelon.

4-Millburn.

5-Haddonfield Memorial.

6-Livingston.

7-Holmdel.

8-Westfield.

9-West Windsor-Plainsboro South.

10-Glen Rock

11-Watchung Hills Regional.

12-Montgomery.

13-New Providence.

14-Basking Ridge.

15-Princeton.

16-Randolph.

17-Mountain Lakes.

18-Summit.

19-Gov. Livingston.

20-Park Ridge.

The full list of 337 ranked high schools will be available when the issue hits the newsstands August 30 or online starting September 1 at njmonthly.com.

 

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