Friday, August 19, 2016

What If Your Home Appraisal Is Too Low?

You have signed a contract to purchase a house. Your potential lender has qualified you for the mortgage loan, on the condition that the house will appraise high enough to support the loan. Now you have learned that the appraisal has come in too low, and the lender is not prepared to commit the loan.

You have a number of options.

Let's take this example. Your contract price is $500,000, and you are seeking a loan which will be 80 percent of the purchase price -- or $400,000. Such a loan will help you avoid paying private mortgage insurance (PMI) premiums. However, the lender has appraised the house for only $480,000, and will only lend you $384,000.

Here are some of your options.

1. Cancel the deal. Read your sales contract carefully. Do you have a financing contingency, and do you still have time to terminate the contract if you cannot get the financing spelled out in the contract. If you have any questions about this, check it out with your attorney. Did you include a contingency for obtaining an acceptable appraisal? Read your contract carefully.

2. Put up more cash. You originally intended to put down $100,000 of your own money and get a $400,000 loan. Since the lender is only willing to lend you $384,000, you can -- if you have the cash and want to use it -- put up the additional $16,000 (or $116,000), and still buy the house. However, if the appraisal is truly accurate, give serious thought as to whether you may have overbid on the price. And don't forget to plug into your equation closing costs -- such as title insurance, recording taxes, title search, etc.

3. Change the terms of the loan. Obtain a first trust in the amount of $400,000, and a second trust in the amount of $16,000. This will help you avoid PMI. Talk with your lender about this; not all lenders like to use this approach.

4. Challenge the appraisal. You have the absolute right to obtain a copy of the appraisal. Read it carefully, and discuss it with your attorney and your real estate agent. You should then talk with the appraiser and/or the lender. If you believe there were errors in the appraisal, demand that the appraiser return to the property, and reevaluate the situation.

Keep in mind, however, that appraising property is not a science; at best, it is an attempt to determine what a piece of property is worth, based on a number of different methods of evaluation. While appraisers use such benchmarks as square footage, replacement value and other similar concepts, the bottom line in my opinion is that appraising a house is a very subjective exercise. Since no two houses are really similar, there has to be a lot of subjectivity involved in any assessment.

The best test of market value: what a buyer is willing to pay and a seller is willing to accept for the house.

Written by Benny L. Kass

Nancy M. Alexander Stone Harbor and Avalon NJ Real Estate

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Avalon/Stone Harbor NJ Weekly Update August 18th, 2016

AN OCEAN DRIVE PROJECT between 29th and 62nd Streets in Avalon is anticipated next spring.  The county project would bring that section of the roadway into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act with new sidewalks, and also elevate the roadway to help alleviate flooding and improve drainage.  Work is anticipated to begin in March 2017, breaking in June for the summer season, and then resuming in September.

Click above for the latest report on the Avalon/Stone Harbor market!

FROM 83 TO 69! The ocean surf temperature reached a record 83.3 degrees last Wednesday in Atlantic City, with Cape May seeing 81.7 degrees.  By Friday the wind had shifted to a southwesterly direction, moving the warm water offshore.  “Upwelling” brought cooler water to the surface, taking the surf temperature back down to a refreshing 69 degrees.  The average surf temperature at this time of year is 74 degrees.

FALLFORTHEJERSEYCAPE.COM highlights great fall and events in Cape May County.  The county’s Department of Tourism operates the site as part of their “Boomerang” marketing campaign, designed to bring visitors back to the Jersey Cape for fall (and spring) getaways, in addition to traditional summer vacations.  From classic car shows to theater events to nature celebrations to airshows—you will find a great line up of Jersey Cape events on the site!  Visit to check it out!

FALL MIGRATION FESTIVAL:  Speaking of fall activities, one of the most popular is The Wetland’s Institute’s annual Fall Migration Festival, which will be held Saturday & Sunday, September 17-18.  This year’s festival will feature guided nature walks, back-bay boat and kayak tours, live butterfly presentations, crafts, and more.  Single day tickets are $10 for adults and $8 for a child; two-day tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for a child.  Visit more details.

SUMMER BUCKET LIST TIME!  With just a couple of weeks of “prime” summer season left, it’s time to check your Summer Bucket List for those “gotta do it!” items.  Take a little time for you and your family—enjoy the summer and make some memories!

  • Avalon’s Thursdays on Dune Concert featuring The Star Band, Veteran’s Plaza, 7PM, Thursday, August 18
  • Cape May Lighthouse Full Moon Climb, call 609-884-5404 for info, Thursday, August 18
  • Creative Writing Workshop, Avalon Public Library, register at 609-967-7155, 10AM-Noon, Saturday, August 20
  • Stone Harbor Bird Sanctuary Tour led by a Wetlands Institute docent, meet at the Egret Espy Trail entrance at 114th Street & Second Avenue, 10AM, Saturday & Sunday, August 20 & 21
  • Stone Harbor Farmer’s Market, 95th Street Water Tower Plaza, 8AM-12:30PM, Sunday, August 21
  • 3rd Annual American Legion Post #331 Seafood Festival & Seabillys Concert, 11617 Second Avenue, 5PM,Sunday, August 21
  • Stone Harbor’s Family Night featuring Steve Serwatka’s New Jersey Nature Animal Show, Stone Harbor Fire House, 7PM, Monday, August 22
  • Stone Harbor’s Tuesdays at the Tower featuring Dane Anthony Band, 95th Street Water Tower Plaza, 7PM,Tuesday, August 23
  • Avalon’s Big Beach Movie featuring Zootopia, 30th Street and the Beach, dusk, Tuesday, August 23
  • Stone Harbor Family Movie Night on the Lawn featuring Finding Nemo, Stone Harbor Elementary School, 8PM,Wednesday, August 24
  • Avalon’s Thursdays on Dune Concert featuring Steel:30, Veteran’s Plaza in Avalon, 7PM, Thursday, August 25
  • Stone Harbor’s Sidewalk Sale, downtown shopping district, 9AM-7PM, Saturday, August 27
  • Stone Harbor Bird Sanctuary Tour led by a Wetlands Institute docent, meet at the Egret Espy Trail entrance at 114th Street & Second Avenue, 10AM, Saturday & Sunday, August 27 & 28
  • Stone Harbor Farmer’s Market, 95th Street Water Tower Plaza, 8AM-12:30PM, Sunday, August 28
  • Stone Harbor’s Family Night featuring Cape May Library Story Telling and Puppet Show, Stone Harbor Fire House, 7PM, Monday, August 29
  • Stone Harbor’s Tuesdays at the Tower featuring Soulshine, 95th Street Water Tower Plaza, 7PM, Tuesday, August 30
  • Stone Harbor Family Movie Night on the Lawn featuring Cars 2, Stone Harbor Elementary School, 8PM,Wednesday, August 31
  • IPad Workshop at the Avalon Public Library, register at 609-967-7155, 10AM-Noon, Saturday, September 3
  • Stone Harbor Green Fair featuring information on solar energy, re-purposed materials, electric cars, clean energy, natural products, more, 94th Street Parking Lot, 11AM-2PM, Saturday, September 10
  • Night Walk at the Cape May County Zoo, after hours tour of the zoo, 6:30-8:30PM, Saturday, September 10
  • 21st Annual Nun’s Beach Surf Contest, 111th Street Beach, 7AM, Saturday, September 17
  • Wetlands Institute Fall Migration Festival, guided viewing of migratory birds, demonstrations, live animal presentations, more, 9:30AM-4:30PM, Saturday & Sunday, September 17 & 18

Featured Property:

Extraordinary home, extraordinary price!  This unbelievable Bayfront home will exceed your every expectation—and the owner is ready for an offer!  Think it might be the right home for you?  Please call me today!

9911 Sunrise Drive, Stone Harbor, $6,250,000, ACTIVE MLS#: 165941

New Listings:

432 Avalon Boulevard, Avalon Manor, $389,000, ACTIVE MLS#: 171732

1114 Stone Harbor Blvd, Stone Harbor Manor, $525,000, ACTIVE MLS#: 171783

238 43rd Street, Avalon, $1,225,000, ACTIVE MLS#: 171799

10121 Second Avenue, Stone Harbor, $1,275,000, ACTIVE MLS#: 171784

298 46th Street, Avalon, $1,300,000, ACTIVE MLS#: 171753

183 13th Street, Avalon, $1,350,000, ACTIVE MLS#: 171800

7036 Ocean Drive, Avalon, $1,750,000, ACTIVE MLS#: 171792

8800 Sunset Drive, Stone Harbor, $2,200,000, ACTIVE MLS#: 171745

261 90th Street, Stone Harbor, $2,395,000, ACTIVE MLS#: 171738

26 E 14th Street, Avalon, $2,695,000, ACTIVE MLS#: 171774

9001 First Avenue, Stone Harbor, $3,295,000, ACTIVE MLS#: 171710

157 69th Street, Avalon, $4,499,000, ACTIVE MLS#: 171812

Properties Sold:

9511 Sunset Drive #200, Stone Harbor, $185,000, SOLD MLS#: 167699

281 16th Street, Avalon, $867,500, SOLD MLS#: 167643

237 44th Street, Avalon, $972,000, SOLD MLS#: 168770

46 W 22nd Street, Avalon, $1,650,000, SOLD MLS#: 170757

74 W 38th Street, Avalon, $4,350,000, SOLD MLS#: 166859

Nancy M. Alexander Stone Harbor and Avalon NJ Real Estate

Living Single: Buying A House Without A Spouse

Home purchases among single people are a growing trend, as buyers take advantage of low rates and available funds to transition from renting to homeownership.

And by and large, those singles are not men.

"A few decades ago, a single woman buying real estate on her own was a rarity. Before the Fair Housing Act of 1968, few women could get approved for a credit card, much less a mortgage, without a husband's or father's signature," said US News. "Now that's all changed. In fact, the National Association of Realtors reports that since the mid-1990s, single women have purchased homes at nearly twice the rate of single men. Last year, single female homeowners made up 18 percent of household composition in the association's Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, compared to 10 percent for single men."

Think you're ready to take the leap?

"By educating and empowering themselves, single women have acquired a sense of homebuying confidence, making the dream of homeownership a reality," said the Shriver Report. "It's a process that doesn't necessarily begin with love first - unless it's for her dream house. She just needs a good real estate agent, an educated understanding of navigating the homebuying process, and a glass of champagne to celebrate after signing on the 50,000 dotted lines at closing."

Here are a few things to consider:

Make sure you have enough money to make the purchase

First-time buyers may be saving for a down payment and not thinking about the other costs of buying a house, like closing costs, which can add thousands of dollars that you pay upfront. Be prepared to come up with an additional 2–5 percent of the purchase price of your home to cover them.

If the upfront money is hard to come by, FrontDoor advises that down payment assistance may be available depending on where you live. Some states have affordable housing programs that that can provide "first-time homebuyers with $7,500," they said.

Make sure you can afford it monthly

Figure out the monthly payment of a house on any number of online mortgage calculators, and you might think it's far more affordable than it is, because you're only calculating principal and interest. Now factor in taxes, insurance, homeowner's association fees, and Private Mortgage Insurance if you're putting down less than 20 percent. This can add hundreds of dollars to your monthly payment. Even if you are approved by a lender, can you really swing it?

"Mortgage lenders may approve borrowers with good credit and other favorable factors for a home mortgage that—combined with their other regularly occurring debts—takes up one-third or more of the borrower's gross pay. However, experts caution it could be a mistake to borrow as big a home loan as a lender will approve."

Forbes recommends that the "home's principal, interest, taxes and insurance not exceed 28% of your net income," and Bankrate adds that "You should not have a mortgage that's so big you still don't put at least 10 percent of your income in a retirement plan."

Be realistic about your goals

If you're looking for pride of ownership and to improve your way of life, homeownership can be a great move. If your goal is fast cash, maybe not.

"It is a mistake to expect a quick run-up in property values," said Bankrate. But "Owning a home can help women enter a more secure retirement if they pay down their loan balance over time."

Don't be afraid to shop for mortgages

You might be loyal to a friend who is a loan officer, but it doesn't hurt to look around. Especially when "A Consumer Federation of America study in 2006 found that women received an outsized share of subprime mortgages," said Bankrate. "Mortgage lenders may not provide women with all loan information and options because of stereotypes about women's alleged lack of financial sophistication. Have the loan officer lay out all the options."

They recommend "checking rates with several mortgage lenders, and don't simply select a lender based on a recommendation from a friend. A recent study "found women head of households pay 40 basis points—nearly 0.5 percent - more on home mortgages than other borrowers. The co-author of the study asserted that, "The cost variance is due to the fact that 41 percent of women say they relied on a recommendation, while only 25 percent of men did."

No matter which lender you go with, it's important to get pre-approved before you shop.

You want to know what you can afford before you fall in love with something that's way out of your budget. Being pre-approved will also mean you can move forward quickly when you find the right house instead of potentially losing out to another buyer who was better prepared.

Written by Jaymi Naciri

Nancy M. Alexander Stone Harbor and Avalon NJ Real Estate

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Simple Staging Tips to Sell a Home Fast

When you are hosting an open house or showing your property to potential home buyers, you want them to see it as a home they could live in. That's where staging comes in. According to Coldwell Banker, homes that were staged spent half the time on the market than homes that were not, and they also sold for about 6 percent more. There are several ways you can stage the home you're selling without spending a fortune on a decorator or doing any major renovations. Here are a few to consider.

Don’t Underestimate Curb Appeal

The outside is the first thing buyers see when you show them a house, and if they don’t like it, it can turn them off to the entire property. Updating the curb appeal of your home will draw house hunters in immediately and may even attract buyers you wouldn’t expect from simply driving by. Fixing the outer aesthetic of the home doesn’t have to be pricey or time consuming, either. Houzz suggests some simple upgrades you can do yourself around the property, including power washing the sidewalks and sides of the house, cutting the lawn, planting new flowers and shrubs, and repainting house numbers so people can easily find it. A fresh coat of paint on the front porch or door is another good way to refresh the outside of your home.

Create A Scene

The National Association of REALTORS® suggests creating lifestyle vignettes to show potential buyers what their life could be like in specific rooms. This can be especially helpful in houses with odd spaces, as many buyers do not have the imagination to see how an empty space can be used. Think about what demographic the home appeals to and create scenes that way. For example, a young couple might appreciate a game room with a bar area, whereas an older crowd might appreciate a library with a reading corner. Professional stagers often research the cultural and community interests in a neighborhood and stage according to their preferences. Buyers want to see what their life would look like in each room.

Be sure to use lifestyle elements throughout the house everyone is familiar with, such as subtly scented candles, freshly arranged bouquets or a tray of drinks and baked goods for guests.

Clear Out The Clutter

While staging may make you want to decorate the entire house the way you would want it, a common mistake is to use too many items throughout the house. It can make the home seem smaller and dirty, as well as distract from some of the better features of the property. Pack up about 90 percent of what is in the home before showing it. Kid’s toys, personal photos and mementos and anything worn out or broken should be put away.

Go Neutral

While bright purple might be this season’s color, it won't be the most appealing design approach for everyone. The same goes for decor that is too masculine or too feminine. You want people or families to see themselves living in the home, so using neutral colors and decor can help them imagine their own stylish touches throughout each room — especially the master bedroom. Make sure the walls and bedding are a neutral color and use clean linens and modern artwork to create a fashionable space with potential.

Written by Realty Times Staff

Nancy M. Alexander Stone Harbor and Avalon NJ Real Estate

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Today's News and Features -- 5 Ways to Start Saving Without Feeling the Pinch

Saving money is challenging when your sole focus is on paying the bills—but financial planners concede there are at least five ways to get savings underway, no matter your circumstances:

Start a Budget Based on Fact, Not Fantasy – The first step toward a workable budget (and savings plan) is knowing where your money goes. For 30 days, track every single daily expense, from paying the gas bill to picking up the dry cleaning to the ice cream cones you bought for the kids. Once you’ve added it all up, compare the total to your income.

Find and Trim the Fat – What can you live without? Cull any services you really don’t need—the all-inclusive cable plan, a rarely-used gym membership, a morning latte every day on the way to work.

Save Your Change – Get into the habit of emptying your pocket or purse each night into a piggy bank. You’ll never miss it, and you'll be amazed at how quickly the change adds up.

Boost Your Income – There are many ways to make extra pocket money these days, from getting a part-time job, to selling items on eBay, to participating in a paid online survey. You may even be able to channel your talents—photography, ad writing, Pie-baking, Babysitting—into a lucrative sideline.

Start with an Emergency Fund – Place your initial savings into an emergency fund. Determine a safe balance to work toward—once you've met that balance, move your savings into an interest-bearing account.

By Barbara Pronin

Nancy M. Alexander Stone Harbor and Avalon NJ Real Estate

Monday, August 15, 2016

Today's News and Features -- Are You Making Clear Decisions About Replacement Windows?

When is the right time to replace windows?

That's a question I recently had to weigh, and, lucikly, my decision turned out to be a good one.

For those weighing that decision themselves, Window World of Altoona, Pa., offers a list of questions to help make a clear decision about whether to replace a window.

Should you DIY or hire a pro? The window fit, installation and type can make or break a replacement project. If you’re hiring a company to replace wood or metal windows, research the reputation of the firm. Look for a professional that backs their installation with a warranty on labor and parts, in addition to a product warranty.

How long do you plan to be living with your new windows? While aesthetic, energy savings and maintenance are common considerations, keep in mind that vinyl windows recoup an average of 78 percent at resale, and can be a selling point to prospective homebuyers—especially if providing a transferable warranty to the new homeowner.

Have you done your homework? Look for credible, independent, third-party endorsements on the windows you're considering, such as those from Good Housekeeping, AAMA (American Architectural Manufacturers Association), NFRC (National Fenestration Rating Council) and the ENERGY STAR® label.

Have you considered your energy efficiency options? If your home is located in a warmer, sunny area, a product's Solar Heat Gain Coefficient measurement is important. Consider a window with heat-reflective, low-emissive glass to not only block the sun’s rays in summer, but to also prevent heat loss in winter.

To learn more about window replacement—and check out a handy window design tool—visit

Nancy M. Alexander Stone Harbor and Avalon NJ Real Estate

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Today's News and Features -- Check These Late Summer Tips to Ready Your Home for Fall

Fall is fast approaching, and with it, the need for home maintenance. According to, the most important tasks for late summer are:

Painting the Exterior

Lower humidity and cooler temperatures make late summer and early fall ideal times to paint the exterior of the home.

Cleaning Gutters and Downspouts

Clear all drainage areas of leaves and debris, and consider installing gutter guards.

Inspecting the Roof

Hire a licensed professional to examine the roof for wear and tear. (If the shingles are buckling, cracking or curling, it is time to replace them.) Be sure the professional assesses the flashing around chimneys, pipes and/or skylights.

Turning Off Hose Valves

Turn off the valves to exterior hose bibs to prevent water pipes from bursting when the weather dips below freezing. Wrap pipes that run along exterior walls with heating tape.

Replacing Filters

Replace the filter in the furnace or heating system. Consider consulting with a licensed heating contractor to inspect and servicethe unit before the season turns.

Checking Insulation

Check the insulation in the attic to ensure the vapor barrier is facing down toward the living space.Cut slits in the vapor barrier to allow moisture to escape.

For more seasonal maintenance tips, visit

By John Voket

Nancy M. Alexander Stone Harbor and Avalon NJ Real Estate