Saturday, January 22, 2022

We’ve endured the COVID pandemic since 2020, with the hopes that each New Year would bring salvation and respite. Unfortunately, as the last digits 20 turned to 22 two years later, the concern of spread and sickness loomed further. Being assured now that the latest strain, omicron, is not as fatal and typically does not go deep into the lungs, the downside at this time is the amount of contagious spread with more minimal cold-like symptoms, and concerns that what lies ahead remain a mystery. Variants, flu, vaccinations, testing, antibodies continue to be the “talk of the town.”

But, as always, life will hopefully continue to balance as Hashem orchestrates it all while we still aspire as best we can to achieve our goals and dreams through thick and thin. As a realtor, I continue to witness strong home interest as a mainstay in society, nurturing individual needs since people will always need a roof over our heads.

While the economy is improving even with the threat of inflation, unemployment is falling and the U.S. real estate market continues to remain strong throughout this past holiday season.

The National Association of Realtors reports a robust interest in single-family existing home sales while prices rose 16% in the the third quarter of this year to a healthy $363,700. In spite of persistent labor and supply chain challenges with a shortage of available land, builder confidence and new construction continued to increase in November, in contrast to analysts’ expectation of slowing down. As reported by the NJMLS, single family closed sales were down before the end of the year to 1,155, which is also attributed to housing availability while townhouse-condos closed sales were up 11.1% to 440. The median sales price increased 6.8% to $550,000, with an increase as well in both townhouse-condo 6.3% to $372,000 and adult communities 24.6% to $429000. In Teaneck, in the last 30 days the average sold price is $512,819, up 2.8%, while the ratio of sold to listings is at a whopping 99.2%. It is therefore not surprising that homes are still selling quickly with long wait lines at open houses and strong competitive offers on the table.

So, depending what stage of life you are in or what your needs are, the data could be both good and bad information.

But one caution in signing off. Know your facts, compare the information and make prudent decisions factoring in both costs and emotions. One particular buyer insisted that within Bergen County her friends cautioned that one particular town’s property taxes are higher than another. I immediately shared my expertise and divulged both the actual rate and equalization ratio of each town of interest, which does vary. Take the three contiguous areas around Teaneck as an example of comparison. The Bergenfield tax rate is 3.3 with an equalization ratio of 83.97, New Milford’s tax rate is slighter higher at 3.605 with a lower equalization ratio of 80.08, whereas Teaneck’s tax rate is 3.234, the lowest tax rate, with an equalization ratio of 82.34 whose percentage falls in-between the two other towns. The town of Englewood actually reports the lowest rate of 2.815 with a higher equalization ratio of 86.79.

Please note that a question many of my clients ask, which is a good one, is if the tax-assessed value will be adjusted after a purchase. Even if there is a glaring disparity between purchase price and assessed value on record, it does not warrant justification for change of information at the time of purchase and deed transfer, and the tax data remains the same. The assessed value on record is reviewed only when homeowners apply for permits to enlarge, upgrade or build and when towns are mandated to do an assessment evaluation for the whole area, which does not occur annually.

So let’s do the math. Take a home that is assessed at $500,000 multiplied by the varying rates. At a rate of 3.3, the tax amount will be $16,500 compared to a rate of 3.234, resulting in $16,170 and finally, $18,025 property taxes with the higher tax rate of 3.605.

Other factors in consideration of costs include busing, garbage and town programs, which with all other variables and differences could make a difference in deciding which locale is right for you. Are they deal breakers? The decision-making will reflect the needs of the family based on the community of interest, costs, location and home availability. The consumer will choose the town that is right for their family overall with all the information combined. Knowledge is powerful—use it to your advantage.

Overall, purchasing a home is where your heart is. Differentials could make the difference but the end result will culminate when the cost is right, the timing is at its peak, and voila … heart and pocketbook will be the determining factors within a maze of emotions and enthusiasm.

Good luck in this hot real estate market … and, if you are curious about your market and home valuation, reach out to your professional. Happy to share more facts. Being in the know is the best advice. Good luck with your housing goals and dreams—and finding what is right for you!

Ruby Kaplan is a seasoned realtor with many years of experience, licensed in both New Jersey and New York. She partners with her husband, Bobby, as a realtor team to fully service the housing needs of their seller and buyer clients jointly. Their passion is to help people realize their housing goals and dreams. They are sensitive to their clients’ needs and have a driven commitment to oversee all transactions with integrity, knowledge and dedication. Sellers will receive 21st-century social media exposure while buyers will get alerts on all new housing information within their area of criteria. Ruby can be reached at 917-576-4177/ [email protected]; Bobby at 201-314-4152/[email protected]


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