Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Top 10 Project Paybacks in Toms River, NJ

According to Remodeling Magazine's, 2008 Cost vs. Value Report, 9 out of the top 10 project paybacks are "exterior" remodeling projects: 

Once again, exterior remodeling projects lead the way for recovery on dollars spent in this year's Cost vs. Value survey. When you compare the national averages, replacement projects that boost curb appeal—siding, windows, and decks—give you the greatest chance of recouping your money. Inside, only kitchen remodels can compare, at least on a national level. 

1. Upscale fiber cement siding (86.7%)

2. Midrange wood deck (81.8%)

3. Midrange vinyl siding (80.7%)

4. Upscale foam-backed vinyl (80.4%)

5. Midrange minor kitchen remodel (79.5%) 

6. Upscale vinyl window replacement (79.2%)

7. Midrange wood window replacement (77.7%)

8. Midrange vinyl window replacement (77.2%)

9. Upscale wood window replacement (76.5%

10. Midrange major kitchen remodel (76.0%)

So, if you have to sell and you've made any of these improvements to your property in the last year, all is not doom and gloom. Today's BUYER sees the value in these remodeling projects and is willing to pay you back on your investment!



Friday, December 19, 2008

Part 2: Insanity Wins a Round

They say the sequel is always worse than the original. Well, here's the response I received from yesterday's "Unfortunate Seller". You be the judge:

"Thank you for your input.  The house is empty now and we already have another home.  We realize we will have to drop the price, but we're trying to minimize our loss.  We purchased it in 2006 on the high side at $***,*** because of it's upgrades.  Along with reducing the price (we're not sure yet to what, but not by $100,000), we are shopping around for a realtor who will reduce the commission so that we can at least minimize our loss."

Am I the only one who sees a whole lot of "pain" in their future? Not "pain" in the compound fracture sense, but "pain" in the incapability of accepting the reality of their situation sense.

"…but not by $100,000"…

"…so that we can at least minimize our loss."

These poor souls actually "believe" someone is going to buy their home. Hopefully, they are well off enough to survive the next decade owning two homes. Did I mention this particular home is located in a "Retirement Village"? Hopefully, their "Retirement Fund" doesn't also include a 401K!

Here's my reply to their response:

"I empathize with your situation.  My wife and I purchased a "brand new" home in 2005; it's worth $120,000.00 less now!

Unfortunately, the local real estate market is not going to improve anytime soon.  In my professional opinion, prices will not return to 2006 levels for at least another 10 years.  Do you have that much time to "waste" chasing the market?  How much is this home costing you in carrying costs (taxes, association fees, maintenance, etc.)?  And, as your home is unoccupied at this time, it makes selling in this market even more challenging!

If you really want to "minimize" your losses, hire a "sales and marketing" professional based on their success in selling in this market NOT a "listing" brokerage based on commission…that will only prolong the pain and end up costing you more!  I apologize for sounding so negative but telling you anything but the truth would be a greater disservice."

Does anyone think I will get another response?


Thursday, December 18, 2008

Insanity vs. the “Code of Ethics”

Here's an ACTUAL e-mail I received earlier today from the owner of a home that is listed with another broker and about to "expire". (I've changed the name of the brokerage for obvious reasons):

"We are the owners of the above home for sale.  Our current listing agreement with 1a2b3c Realty will soon be expiring and we are shopping around for a reduced real estate commission.  What's the lowest percentage commission you would be willing to list it for?"

An analysis of similar homes to theirs clearly showed they were at least $100,000.00 over-priced!

On how many different levels is this situation ABSURD?

Please don't get me wrong. I'm not just frustrated with the mindset of the homeowners. What possessed the real estate agent to take that listing at that price in the first place? What was the Broker/Manager thinking when they permitted this disservice to their client?

Now, 6 months later, these misguided folks are shopping for another brokerage based on "lowest commission percentage" via the internet! The saddest part of this tragic story is; it's not over yet. They will succeed in finding exactly what they are looking for; a brokerage to take their listing, at their price, for the lowest commission. Another 6 months will pass, without anyone looking at their home, and the cycle will continue…unless…

Unless we as an industry remember and practice the REALTOR "Code of Ethics" by being honest and professional! Let's STOP the insanity one e-mail at a time. Here's a copy of my response:

Thank you for remembering and considering Coldwell Banker Flanagan Realty.  Unfortunately, to enter into a "service agreement" based solely on the amount of the real estate commission would be another disservice to you; the first was an agent and brokerage listing your home at "that" price in the first place.

Please understand, I'm not trying to insult you or your home, but an analysis of your model, in your Village, clearly shows your home was "overpriced" for the current real estate market by at least $100,000.00.

I'm confident your home is far superior to other models in your village but just as the stock market determines the current value of any particular stock, the real estate market determines the current value of any particular home.  So, attempting to market and sell your home above the "market range" would be like trying to sell penny stocks for a dollar.

Re-listing your home based on a reduced commission will only lead to more frustration and disappointment for everyone involved.  May I ask, "Why are you attempting to sell your home?"  "Where would you like to move to?"  And, "How soon would you like to get there?"

Please feel free to post your comments.




Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The Ocean County Board of Realtors' 2008 REALTOR of the Year!

How often do we, as practitioners, criticize the decisions of our local boards? Well, I'm proud to report that our local board, the Ocean County Board of Realtors, located in Toms River, NJ, has made a decision that is indisputable. Their decision to bestow the honor of "2008 Realtor of the Year" to Robin Bahr is perhaps, in my opinion, one of the best decisions made in 2008!

Not only is Robin the "consummate professional", (GRI, CRS, SRES), but she also personifies the REALTOR "Code of Ethics"! Everyone and anyone, who has had the privilege of working with Robin, will acknowledge her dedication, passion and compassion. Aside from her many contributions throughout the years to the Ocean County Board of Realtors, Mrs. Bahr was instrumental in the re-formation and development of the Women's Council of Realtors, Ocean County Chapter, serving as it's President in 2008!

When Robin is not serving her clients and customers, or volunteering her time with the WCR and OCBR, she may be found at one of many of her charitable pursuits; including but not limited to the "Relay for Life" for the American Cancer Society of Toms River, NJ. Robin believes in the ultimate goal of equality for all women in the areas business, opportunity, growth, health and well-being by serving on the Business and Professional Women's Association of Ocean County.

I'm quite sure I'm leaving out many more of Robin's contributions to our industry and our community, but suffice it to say, in my decade of real estate experience, I have yet to meet her equal!

Monday, December 8, 2008

What is the definition of “insanity”?

What's the definition of "insanity"? Answer; doing the same thing over and over again, expecting different results.

Today, The Washington Post reported, Homeowners redefaulting after getting aid. According to John Poirier's and Patrick Rucker's article, "more than half of mortgages modified in a bid to avoid foreclosure fell delinquent within six months"! They go on to report that Comptroller of the Currency, John Dugan, suggests the following reasons why (or a combination of all of them):

  • Was it because modifications did not reduce monthly payments enough?
  • Was it because consumers replaced lower mortgage payments with increased credit card debt?
  • Was it because the mortgages were so badly underwritten that borrowers simply could not afford them, even at reduced payments?

The one question Mr. Dugan forgot was; was it because these borrowers never should have been approved for a mortgage in the first place? What makes us, anyone, think that by reducing the SAME borrowers' payment, the BORROWERS' behavior will change???

Unfortunately, sometimes we must be "cruel to be kind". Nature has its own primitive way of ensuring the survival of the species; the weak, sick and old are picked off by the predators. It's the "Natural Order" of things. Let's take a lesson from Nature and save our, the tax payers money, by allowing this round of foreclosures to run its course. Save the "bail out" for the borrowers' who deserve it; Mr. & Mrs. Homeowner, who can no longer afford their mortgage because he or she lost their job, NOT because he or she NEVER should have received a mortgage in the first place!


Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Outbreak of RDS (Rampant Denial Syndrome) Hits Toms River, NJ!

Some FASCINATING statistics for November in Toms River, NJ:

Statistics Summaries Report

Category - SingleFamily / Area: TOM - TOMS RIVER TWP / County: OceanStatistics for Entire MLS from 11/01/2008 to 11/30/2008


Total List / Closed $

Avg List $

Avg Closed $


Median Price $




$53,993,900 / n/a






Under Contract


$14,936,496 / n/a








$19,293,212 / $18,131,450








$36,429,631 / n/a






Currently Active (as of today)


$360,865,054 / n/a






--Information deemed reliable but not guaranteed--Copyright: 2008 by the Monmouth County Association of REALTORSR
We Never Stop Moving!


Why would I call them "fascinating"? Let's take a closer look, shall we?

  • 46 Homes CLOSED during November at an average price of $394,162
  • And ONLY 38 homes went UNDER CONTRACT at an average price of $393,066
  • SO, why did 109 NEW homes LIST for an average of $495,357 when…
  • 77 homes EXPIRED at an average LIST price of $473,112????????????

Here's my Official Diagnosis:

Toms River, NJ, continues to suffer from RDS (Rampant Denial Syndrome). When 109 Sellers think they will sell for more money than 77 unsuccessful sellers FAILED to sell for; that's RAMPANT DENIAL SYNDROME! When real estate agents continue to LIST homes for an average of $100,000 OVER the current CLOSED price; that's RAMPANT DENIAL SYNDROME! When, despite the OVERWHELMING EVIDENCE ABOVE, sellers and agents REFUSE to accept REALITY; that is RAMPANT DENIAL SYNDROME!

CAUTION: Failure to seek immediate treatment for RDS could result in catastrophic consequences such as "short sales", "foreclosures", "bankruptcies", "insanity" and in certain cases DEATH (of a real estate agent's career)!!!