Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Eastern Monmouth MLS at 4355

Last week the count was 4306.

16 Comments:

Anonymous rbyzell said...

great article in today's wall street journal 6/21/06 pg. A2. "the gap between starts and sales traffic was at the highest level in at least the past 20 years, a development that would lead to even higher inventory and more pricing pressure." and on and on. read the article, very informative.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006 9:50:00 PM  
Anonymous josh said...

THE BUBBLE IS ABOUT TO BURST !....does that mean prices will go poof....back to zero ?

Thursday, June 22, 2006 7:49:00 AM  
Blogger new 200 Mbps BROADBAND over POWER LINES said...

Region's housing market deflates

By NOREEN SEEBACHER
noreenseebacher@aol.com
FOR THE JOURNAL NEWS
Original publication: June 22, 2006)



It's over.



The crazed phase of frenetic home buying in Westchester, Rockland and Putnam counties has screeched to a halt — leaving some industry experts wondering if the sound they hear now is the housing bubble bursting.

"The market isn't soft. It isn't even slow. It's dead," said Liz Rosenblatt, an agent with Fuerst & Fuerst Inc., a real estate firm in New Hempstead.

Scott Stiefvater, a broker-owner at Stiefvater Real Estate Inc. in Pelham, said prospective homeowners are still looking at properties. "They just aren't buying," he said. "I'm getting a little worried."

After nearly seven years of unprecedented strength, the housing market has taken an unexpectedly steep slide, real estate professionals throughout the Lower Hudson Valley concur. It's gone from multiple offers for more than asking price just hours after properties were listed for sale to no offers at all, even after price reductions.

In Wesley Hills, for instance, Rosenblatt recently dropped the price on a four-bedroom, 2.5-bath raised ranch to $495,000 from $545,000. "There still aren't any offers," she said.

Christine Garafola, an associate broker at Coldwell Banker Gumbo Realty in Armonk, dropped the price on a four-bedroom, 2.5-bath center-hall Colonial in Mahopac from $949,000 to $889,000 in less than three months. The owner still isn't getting what he's asking.

Stiefvater said potential buyers are looking for value but skeptical of bargains. He cited an impeccably maintained four-bedroom, three-bath Cape Colonial recently reduced to $659,000 from about $700,000. "The current list price is below market value. But now buyers think something is wrong with the house," he said.

Both P. Gilbert Mercurio, chief executive officer of the White Plains-based Westchester County Board of Realtors and Westchester-Putnam Multiple Listing Service, and Ann Garti, chief executive officer of the Greater Hudson Valley Multiple Listing Service in Goshen, said sales are down and inventories are up.

The number of homes on the market in Westchester and Putnam counties has swelled from about 1,000 at the end of the first quarter of 2005 to about 1,500 at the end of the first quarter this year. In Rockland, inventory soared from 734 at the end of the first quarter of 2005 to 1,325 at the end of the first quarter this year.

Real estate brokers have concerns because inventory continues to grow, at an average pace of five to 10 listings in most communities each week. Stiefvater said there usually are about 25 homes for sale in Pelham. Now, he added, it has climbed to more than 80. In Clarkstown, Rosenblatt said, there usually are about six residential properties for sale. "Right now, we have about 45," she said.

Despite the higher inventories, Mercurio said prices, overall, are at least stable and, in some cases, up slightly from a year ago. "By no means has the market collapsed," he said. "We perceive it as a return to what we have historically considered a normal market."

The problem, real estate agents and sellers agree, is that normal feels uncomfortably slow — at least in comparison to the pace of sales and price appreciation during the past few years. Garti said, "It only takes one or two years of a superheated market for people to forget that what they are experiencing is not normal. What is happening now is a leveling off."

Data for the second quarter won't be available until July, but signs of a slowdown already were evident in the first-quarter numbers.

In Westchester and Putnam, for example, the report released in April shows that there were 1,823 closings in the first quarter of this year, down 9 percent from a year earlier. Single-family home sales fell 14 percent, compared to the first quarter of 2005, while co-op sales slipped 5.7 percent in that same period. Only condominium sales were strong, posting a gain of 3.8 percent.

In Putnam, first-quarter home sales were 11 percent lower this year than 12 months earlier, the report continued. Rockland had a more modest decline in the first quarter, when 323 homes and 134 condominiums were sold, compared with 325 and 136, respectively.

Real estate agents and brokers speculate that second-quarter statistics will show an even steeper decline in sales.

Nationwide, the National Association of Realtors projects that sales of both new and existing homes will drop significantly this year. David Lereah, NAR's chief economist, expects new home sales to drop 13.4 percent and existing home sales to drop 6.8 percent nationwide in 2006. But he said neither buyers nor sellers should panic.

"In recent years, we were occasionally challenged to find appropriate superlatives to describe surprisingly high home sales," Lereah said. "Now the housing market has cooled, but 2006 is still expected to be the third strongest on record."

Lereah said the economy actually would benefit from the slowdown in the housing market. "We need a solid housing sector to provide an underlying base to the economy, and slower appreciation will help to preserve long-term affordability," he said.

At least some homeowners, however, are panicking. Worried that increased supply will lead to rapid price deceleration, they are rushing to put their homes up for sale. Some of them think the market will only get worse, real estate agents said.

Peter Bell, broker-owner of Balch Buyers Realty in Mamaroneck, said most sellers are willing to negotiate and are eager for offers. "Last year, only about 10 percent of all homes in this area had been on the market for more than three months. Now, at least a third have been on for more than three months. Since more properties are on for a longer periods, you see more price reductions to more reasonable levels.

"Sellers are also entertaining lower down payments and more contingencies in the contract, including delayed closings to allow time for the sale of the buyer's home," Bell said.

One sign of the slowing market is the return of bridge financing, or short-term loans that allow a buyer to close on the sale of one home while waiting on the sale of another. During the heyday of the sellers' market, buyers could comfortably sign contracts to purchase a home before they even put their own property on the market, because they knew it would sell in a matter of days.

Now, as David Moore, a mortgage broker with Concorde Funding in Greenwich, explained more buyers are experiencing a time lag between the purchase of one property and the sale of another. If they have an existing home equity line of credit, they may be able to tap the equity in their existing homes to finance the purchase of another.

However, Moore said lenders would not approve home equity lines on homes that already are on the market. In those cases, the owners may need to get a bridge loan for a term of three to 12 months.

Moore said another option for buyers is a double decker or piggyback loan. The buyer obtains one mortgage for 80 percent of the cost of the property and a second mortgage for an additional 10 percent to 15 percent of the cost. "This way, when they sell their original home, they can use the proceeds to pay off the second mortgage," he said.

In a slow market, Moore said, the key to making deals is creativity.

Thursday, June 22, 2006 10:50:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

4366 as of 3pm Thursday.

Thursday, June 22, 2006 3:09:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

4386 at 6:42 pm Thursday

Thursday, June 22, 2006 6:50:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

10,872 as of 7pm Thursday. 2009

Thursday, June 22, 2006 7:16:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You may be right

Thursday, June 22, 2006 7:29:00 PM  
Anonymous mary-jane said...

I know you won't believe it, but ,
I just rented my condo for 2k a WEEK, for the entire summer. Original cost of condo = 280k

Mercy, I love real estate. I am just ecstatic. It was a such stretch to buy this place, (bought my clothes at thrift shops for years) but it has really paid off.

In fact, all the real estate I bought has done unbelievably well, whether it was at a "peak" or during a crash. I was too ignorant to know one way or the other, I just knew a great property when I saw one. It just goes to show, time is a great leveler.

Friday, June 23, 2006 8:31:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

mary jane, in what town is this condo located? If it's near a beach, I'm not surprised you got $2k for peak weeks during the summer. When did you purchase this for $280k and what do you think it's worth today? If it's appreciated at all, you must have purchased several years ago because the current RE mkt is headed for the crapper.

Friday, June 23, 2006 9:12:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Toms River, NJ: Officials: New testing proves leak at Ciba site

Company denies link to pollution
Posted by the Asbury Park Press on 06/23/06
BY JEAN MIKLE
TOMS RIVER BUREAU

DOVER TOWNSHIP — Groundwater testing conducted at the former Ciba-Geigy Corp. Superfund site shows a lined landfill on the property is leaking, presenting a "substantial environmental health hazard," township officials said Thursday.

Mayor Paul C. Brush and Council President Gregory P. McGuckin contend that the test results will bolster Dover's efforts to force Ciba to remove more than 35,000 drums from the lined landfill.

"We've contended all along that there is a problem with Cell 1 out there," Brush said, referring to a lined landfill on the land now owned by Ciba Specialty Chemicals Corp. "Our two scientists have taken tests, and the tests confirm what we've said all along."

McGuckin said Ciba's contention that groundwater pollution in the area cannot be linked to the landfill is not viable.

"They admit there is a plume of contamination, and that plume just happens to be under, around and next to Cell 1. But it's not coming from Cell 1, according to Ciba," McGuckin said. "I say, "If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and talks like a duck, it's a duck.' "

Carcinogens found

McGuckin and Brush, along with the rest of the Township Council, received a closed-session presentation Tuesday on the experts' findings. They said Thursday that the testing showed that several hazardous materials, including known carcinogens, were found in the water samples, which they plan to turn over to the state Department of Environmental Protection.

In their joint statement, McGuckin and Brush stressed that the contaminants they contend are leaking from Cell 1 do not appear to jeopardize the public water supply. They expressed concern, however, that the pollutants could pose a risk to irrigation wells in the neighborhood.

Ciba Specialty Chemicals spokeswoman Donna M. Jakubowski said the township still cannot prove that the pollutants come from the landfill.

"The existence of contaminants is not proof that the landfill is leaking," Jakubowski said. "We know that there is groundwater contamination at the site. That is why we have the pump-and-treat system."

Jakubowski was referring to the massive groundwater cleanup that is ongoing at the Ciba site, which includes pumping more than 2 million gallons of water from the ground each day, treating it to remove pollutants, and then depositing the water on the site's northeast corner.

Past problems

The pollution is the result of Ciba's former industrial-dye and resin-making operations. The 1,350-acre Ciba property has been on the federal Superfund list since 1982. All production work ceased on the site in December 1996.

Ciba is paying for the cleanup of pollution source areas on its property, and last year more than 40,000 drums were removed from an unlined landfill on the site. The drums were taken from the ground, opened to determine their contents, and then hauled off-site for disposal.

The company is also using the bioremediation process to remove contaminants from polluted soil on its property. The process relies on bacteria that already exist at the Ciba site to break down and remove pollutants.

But Ciba officials have contended for years that the lined landfill, which is thought to contain about 38,000 drums of waste, is functioning properly and should not be disturbed. Township officials contend that the landfill is leaking and will eventually present a health hazard to Dover residents.

Political squabbling

In 2003, the Township Committee, led by Mayor John F. Russo Jr., filed suit against Ciba Specialty Chemicals Corp. in an effort to have the drums removed. The lawsuit was criticized by Brush, who ran against and eventually defeated Russo in a bitter election campaign.

After his election, Brush, who had initially vowed to stop the lawsuit, said that after he received more information from the township's environmental attorney, he decided the suit should continue.

A court order stemming from the lawsuit allowed the township's experts onto the Ciba property in late April to perform the groundwater sampling.

"All that we said in 2003 has now been borne out by the expert report and the testing that has just been completed by the town," Russo said Thursday. "The landfill is leaking, and that was what we contended when we filed the suit."

The landfill, which receives a monitoring permit from the state Department of Environmental Protection, was never licensed to accept hazardous waste. But DEP officials have said it is clear that hazardous substances were dumped there while the landfill was operating, between 1977 and 1982.

A concerned community

Bruce Anderson, who is president of Toxic Environment Affects Children's Health, a group formed by families of children with cancer, said the groundwater testing results confirm what he has believed for almost a decade: that the lined landfill is leaking.

"I think it's very important for the community to have these drums removed to protect the children and the community as a whole," Anderson said. "These drums need to be removed because they contain highly toxic waste."

Anderson and his family have been demanding the removal of the Ciba drums for years and have occasionally picketed by the company's Oak Ridge Parkway entrance in an effort to draw attention to the issue.

Last year, then-DEP Commissioner Bradley M. Campbell sided with the township and threatened Ciba with litigation if the drums were not removed from the landfill. Dover officials are hopeful that Campbell's successor, Lisa P. Jackson, will take a similar stance.

Campbell noted in a letter to Ciba officials that the landfill's liner was not meant to resist the corrosive effects of some of the hazardous wastes dumped there. Ciba countered that the landfill's cap and containment system was improved in the early 1990s and that Campbell was relying on outdated data.

Brush said it is time for Ciba to work with the township to remove the drums.

"They have a legal and moral obligation to our residents to clean up Cell 1," the mayor said. "They've been a corporate resident of this town for more than 50 years and they've done a lot of damage to this town."

Friday, June 23, 2006 11:26:00 AM  
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