New Jersey Realtor®—July/August 2021

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July/August 2021: VOLUME 7 ISSUE 4




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NEW JERSEY REALTOR® A publication of New Jersey Realtors®

10 Hamilton Avenue Trenton, NJ 08611 Phone: 609-341-7100


Jarrod C. Grasso, RCE Chief Executive Officer PUBLIC RELATIONS AND MARKETING DEPARTMENT Colleen King Oliver Director of Public Relations &

Marketing |

Erin McFeeters

Dana Fiori

Communications Coordinator

CONTENTS July/August 2021

Content Coordinator


Important Dates & Deadlines


President’s View: The Keys to Homeownership


CEO’s Desk: Legislation We’re Watching


Legislative Update: Annual Hill Visits Go Virtual

2021 OFFICERS Jeffrey Jones


Robert White


Nick Manis

First Vice President

Kathleen Morin


ADVERTISING SALES Laura Lemos | 973-822-9274 DESIGN Rebecca Ryan McQuigg | Encompass Media Group

New Jersey Realtors® provides legal and legislative updates as well as information on a variety of real estate related topics solely for the use of its members.


Due to the wide range of issues affecting its members, NJ Realtors® publishes information concerning those

Corporate Real Estate Rebounds from Pandemic Recession


Putting Grants to Work


2020 Profile of New Jersey Buyers and Sellers


C5 Summit


Supporting Realtor® Champions


Triple Play Save the Date

issues that NJ Realtors®, in its sole discretion, deems the most important for its members. The content and accuracy of all articles and/or


Town Spotlight: Flemington Borough


Spring Market Fueled by Buyer Demand


Current Issues We’re Watching


Board/Association News

advertisements by persons not employed by or agents of NJ Realtor® are the sole responsibility of their author. NJ Realtors® disclaims any liability or responsibility for their content or accuracy. Where such articles and/or advertisements contain legal advice or standards, NJ Realtors® recommends that NJ Realtors® seek legal counsel with regard to any

Sudoku puzzle solution:

specific situation to which they may seek to apply the article. New


Realtor ® ,



13260. Published bi-monthly each year. Member subscriptions allocated annually from annual dues:


New Jersey Realtors® Helps Defeat Rent Control in Asbury Park

$3. Non-member annual subscription: $10. Known office of publication: 10 Hamilton Avenue, Trenton, NJ 08611. Periodicals postage paid at Trenton, NJ 08611 and at additional mailing offices. POSTMASTER: Send address change to Editor, 10 Hamilton Avenue, Trenton, NJ 08611.



2 | NEW JERSEY REALTOR® | July/August 2021



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Independence Day






National Financial Awareness Day

NJ Realtors® Office Closed—Labor Day


Eid al-Adha Begins

Rosh Hashanah Begins


NJ Realtors® Quarter Century Club Application Deadline


Grandparents Day




NJ Realtors® Circle of Excellence Sales Award® RPAC Investment Deadline


Indigenous Peoples’ Day


Columbus Day


Boss’s Day



Yom Kippur


New Jersey Realtors® Good Neighbor Award Application Deadline


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The Keys to Homeownership BY JEFFREY JONES


t’s true; New Jersey is one of the most expensive states to

In response, we worked with members of the State Legislature

live in the U.S. Does that mean homeownership is out of

to introduce legislation to help first-time homebuyers along

reach? Absolutely not. As the conversations around the state

the path to homeownership. The legislation establishes the

have focused on high prices and low inventory, we’ve seen

New Jersey First-Time Home Buyer Savings Account Program

many potential homeowners count themselves out of their own

which will provide tax benefits for certain contributions

American Dream. There are obstacles to overcome in order

and earnings on assets maintained in accounts that were

for New Jerseyans to make the leap to become a homebuyer,

established under the program. The bill was reported out of

but with the right guidance they can get there, and that’s

the Senate Community and Urban Affairs Committee, and

exactly what our new Keys to Homeownership webinar series

now is in front of the Senate Budget and Appropriations

focuses on.

Committee for its second reading.

With the help of a Consumer Advocacy Grant from the

Under the bill, certified first-time homebuyers are allowed a

National Association of Realtors , we’ve assembled a team of

five percent tax credit of up to $15,000, or up to $7,500 if

experts for a series of free virtual seminars around the state.

married and filing taxes separately. The bill excludes the gross

We’re focusing on the positive aspects of the housing market

income earnings on a first-time home buyer savings account,

right now and how, despite some conversations, it is certainly

and the earnings on these accounts are tax-free until they

possibly to buy a home right now.

are distributed from the account. Then, the earnings and the


contributions are allowed as a tax credit. The combined knowledge from NJ Realtors and our expert ®

friends from other organizations will provide seminar attendees

For more information visit

with a head start along the path towards homeownership. It’s homeownership 101 with no obligation and no sell. After hosting our first two seminars, we’ve learned the biggest concern consumers have is the cost of entry into the housing market, as demand continues to rise.

NEW JERSEY REALTOR® | July/August 2021 | 5


Legislation We’re Watching T

hroughout the year, our Government Affairs Department stays active in pushing legislation through the State Legislature that is helpful to Realtors® and promotes homeownership. At times, we personally work with legislators in crafting these pieces of legislation and are there every step along the way. In June, we had two pieces of legislation appear before the legislature: A-1712/S-1047; sponsored by Asm. John J. Burzichelli and Sen. Joseph Cryan, and A-5536/S-3590; sponsored by Asm. Burzichelli and Sen. Patrick J. Diegnan Jr. These bills are extremely important to the real estate industry, and we testified before the Regulated Professions Committee to ensure the rest of the legislature knew our stance on these bills. The first bill we testified on was the Consumer Fraud Protections for Buyer’s Agents—A-1712/S-1047 which pertains to the disclosure of certain information obtained from an Open Public Records Act request prior to a real estate sale. Under the current state law, only the sellers’ agents are exempt from damages resulting from inaccurate information from an OPRA request given to clients. We introduced this legislation to provide buyers’ agents the same protections as sellers’ agents.

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The second bill we testified on was the LLC and Promotions Legislation— A-5536/S-3590 which was introduced into the legislature by Sen. Diegnan to allow limited liability companies (formed by real estate salespersons and broker-salespersons) to receive commission income through their broker. This will allow agents to take advantage of the pass-through business income deduction made available under the 2017 Tax Cut and Jobs Act. We also included those who are paid commissions through LLCs are not to be considered employees which provides another layer of protection for our industry’s independent contractor status. The bill also provides that brokers who participate in promotions or offer free

or discounted services to attract new clients must provide written disclosure if it exceeds $1,000. Both of these bills have passed out of the Senate. The next stop is approval by the General Assembly, and then signature by the governor. Once the NJ Real Estate Commission promulgates regulations for the LLC New Jersey Realtors® will be able to enjoy expanded protections and tools to reach our goal of helping consumers achieve the American Dream of homeownership.


MADE UP 33 PERCENT OF ALL HOMEBUYERS For New Jersey residents looking to buy their first home, saving enough money for a down payment often comes second to more immediate costs of living – student loans, childcare, rent, insurance, and additional expenses. There is a significant income ready segment of the New Jersey population poised to become first-time homebuyers, yet this initial down payment and closing cost hurdle is the # 1 impediment to their owning a home. New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency can help them over this hurdle.

FIRST-TIME HOMEBUYER DOWN PAYMENT ASSISTANCE PROGRAM NJHMFA’s Down Payment Assistance (DPA) program provides $10,000 in down payment and closing cost assistance to first-time homebuyers. These funds need never be repaid if the borrower lives in their new home for at least five years. Learn more at To partner on homebuying webinars for your current and potential clients, email NJHMFA is a self-sufficient agency of state government dedicated to offering New Jersey residents affordable and accessible housing.


Annual Hill Visits Go Virtual T

he National Association of Realtors® held its 2021 Realtors® Legislative Meetings, Home Front, virtually during the first two weeks of May. Over the course of the month, New Jersey Realtors® members, leadership team, and staff met with federal elected officials or their offices to discuss topics important to the real estate industry and homeownership. Although we miss being in-person for the annual Hill Visits, moving to a virtual platform allows us to meet with more offices and allows for higher Realtor® participation. Overall, we had 300 participants this year.

When we first went into lockdown last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it was the relationships like the ones fostered through Annual Hill Visits that helped the real estate industry stay open for business in New Jersey,” said 2021 New Jersey Realtors® President Jeff Jones. “Our connections and continued conversations with elected officials help keep the real estate industry, homeowners, and private property rights top of mind when representatives are voting for or crafting legislation.

This year New Jersey Realtors® had the opportunity to meet with the entire New Jersey Congressional Delegation. This includes the offices of Sen. Menendez, Sen. Booker, Rep. Norcross, Rep. Van Drew, Rep. Kim, Rep. Smith, Rep. Gottheimer, Rep. Pallone, Rep. Malinowski, Rep. Sires, Rep. Pascrell, Rep. Payne, Rep. Sherrill, and Rep. Watson Coleman.

2021 Hill Visits Agenda With limited time with each elected official or their staff, it’s vital to have key topics of interest to discuss. This year, we focused on topics that impact the Garden State’s real estate industry, homeowners, and private property rights. Here are some examples of issues we discussed. State and Local Taxes—New Jersey Realtors® believes measures to control and reduce property tax increases should be enacted.


A5454 – Mazzeo (D2), Armato (D2)

A5495 – Quijano (D20)/S3788 – Weinberg (D37)

A5536 – Burzichelli (D3)/S3590 – Diegnan (D18)

Requires the installation and maintenance of video surveillance cameras in construction of new multiple dwellings and existing multiple dwellings undergoing substantial renovations in certain municipalities.

Establishes penalties on planned real estate development associations for failure to provide association members timely access to certain meeting minutes.

Allows formation of limited liability companies by real estate salespersons and broker-salespersons to receive commission income and requires certain disclosures on promotions.

New Jersey Realtors® Position:

MONITOR We are monitoring this bill as it currently only applies to multiple dwellings. Bill History: 3/15/2021 – Introduced in Assembly and referred to Assembly Housing Committee

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New Jersey Realtors® Position: New Jersey Realtors® Position:

SUPPORT We support this bill as way to increase transparency for homeowners in planned real estate communities so they have access to meeting materials to make them aware of decisions being made in their communities. Bill History: 3/17/2021 – Introduced in Assembly and referred to Assembly Housing Committee 5/20/2021 – Introduced in Senate and referred to Senate Community and Urban Affairs Committee

STRONG SUPPORT We strongly support this bill allowing for certain real estate licensees to be paid commission through an LLC in compliance with federal tax law and creating a higher threshold for certain promotional items so long as they are disclosed. Bill History: 3/25/2021 – Introduced in Senate and referred to Senate Community and Urban Affairs Committee 5/5/2021 – Introduced in Assembly and referred to Assembly Regulated Professions Committee 5/6/2021 – Reported from Senate Committee, 2nd reading in Senate 6/3/2021 – Passed by the Senate 38-0

Independent Contractor Status— New Jersey Realtors® strongly supports maintaining the independent contractor status so real estate professionals may continue to operate and serve New Jersey home buyers and sellers. Lead Paint—New Jersey Realtors® has advocated for additional funding to address this issue on a larger scale while also avoiding stigmatizing properties. Increasing Housing Inventory—NJ Realtors® has advocated for legislation and incentives to rehabilitate old housing and unutilized commercial properties to address the nation’s housing shortage. Fair Housing—NJ Realtors® supports legislation that would reauthorize and increase funding for HUD fair housing testing and enforcement programs. For more information on these issues flip to page 16.



JERSEY $902,000.00

$539,824.41 raised as of June 8, 2021


this Summer


2 3

Attend a Summerset Patriots Game July 22 RPAC of New Jersey looks forward to hosting its first in-person event in well over a year at a Somerset Patriots game in Bridgewater on July 22. The Somerset Patriots, who recently became the Double-A minor league team for the New York Yankees, will play the Altoona Curve, beginning at 7 p.m. Those attending will be in one of two private boxes RPAC will have at the game. For two tickets, the price will be $250.

Virtual California Wine Tasting August 5 While COVID-19 conditions have improved, we realize there are still many who may not feel comfortable attending an inperson event. On Aug. 5 at 6 p.m., RPAC of New Jersey will be hosting a virtual wine tasting. Tickets to participate will be $150 per person and those attending will receive a flight of eight California wines shipped directly to your house prior to the event. On the evening of the event, attendees will participate in a virtual wine tasting led by a wine sommelier from In Good Taste Wines. Tickets will be available for purchase online soon.

RPAC Auctions Invest by bidding in the RPAC auctions conducted online at From gift cards to your favorite coffee shop to waffle makers and air fryers to fun backyard games, there are a lot of great items to bid on and possibly win. As with any other RPAC investment, whether it be to a fundraiser or winning an item on the auction website, any investment totaling $100 made by Oct. 1 will also count for one New Jersey Realtors® Circle of Excellence Sales Award® Credit.

Contributions to RPAC are not deductible for federal income tax purposes. Contributions are voluntary and are used for political purposes. The amounts indicated are merely guidelines and you may contribute more or less than the suggested amounts provided your contribution is within applicable contribution limits. The National Association of REALTORS® and its state and local associations will not favor or disadvantage any member because of the amount contributed or a decision not to contribute. You may refuse to contribute without reprisal. Unless otherwise required by applicable law, any request for the refund of a contribution must be made within two (2) business days of the date on which you authorize RPAC to charge you for said contribution. Your contribution is split between National RPAC and the State PAC in your state. Contact your State Association or PAC for information about the percentages of your contribution provided to National RPAC and to the State PAC. The National RPAC portion is used to support federal candidates and is charged against your limits under 52 U.S.C. 30116.

NEW JERSEY REALTOR® | July/August 2021 | 9



he impact of the shocking spread of COVID-19 and accompanying economic shutdown beginning in March 2020 continues to reverberate through commercial real estate markets more than a year after it began. Virtual schooling, social distancing, and remote work changed lifestyles and habits—some of which are expected to continue for the long term.

While the pandemic’s impact was swift and deep, commercial developers and investors were well-positioned before the pandemic, which made them better able to handle the crisis, said William Pattison, head of the real estate research and strategy team within the risk, research, and analytics group of MetLife Investment Management in New York.

“It’s an interesting time for commercial real estate in New Jersey,” said Adrian Ponsen, an economist and director of analytics with the CoStar Group in Philadelphia. “Prior to the pandemic, the market was slow moving for most property types. Now there’s a big divergence depending on the region and property type.”

“Investors were better prepared than they were before the dot-com bust in the early 2000s and the 2008 financial crisis,” said Pattison. “The construction pipeline was already a little depressed because of the tariffs that raised the costs of materials and high labor costs, so the pipeline of projects was slow. Vacancy rates were low, and rents were

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PERFORMANCE BY THE SECTORS Regional variations exist in New Jersey for some property types depending on whether they’re located in the New York metro area or central and southern counties.

INDUSTRIAL The rise of e-commerce and expectations for fast delivery was already driving demand higher for industrial spaces and when the pandemic began online shopping soared, said Ponsen. “New Jersey has a heavy concentration of large warehouses along the I-95 corridor because it sits between New York City, Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington, the number one largest market in the world for consumers,” said Ponsen. “Developers can’t keep up with the demand for warehouse space and rents are up 6.5 percent year-overyear.” Northern New Jersey is nearly built out, so industrial developers are expanding to central and southern New Jersey, said Ponsen. Photo by mandritoiu –

up in most sectors. Even the retail sector was in better shape because there was so little construction of retail sites over the past decade.” As the country begins to emerge from the pandemic and the economy rebounds, the industrial and multifamily sectors are the healthiest in commercial real estate, while retail and office sectors continue to face challenges, said Ponsen. “Everyone wants industrial properties right now,” said Bud Emig, a Realtor® with Long & Foster Real Estate in Devon, Pa. who works with commercial investors in seven counties in South Jersey. “Multifamily buildings and medical offices are strong, too, but very few people want to buy a retail site or restaurant right now.” Joe Ridolfi, a Realtor® and commercial real estate broker owner of Ridolfi Associates in Hamilton Township, said he’s seeing a crescendo of interest in commercial estate investing from everyone from mom-and-pop investors to wealth managers. Looking ahead, Emig anticipates continued economic growth to help the commercial property sector. “Some developers are holding off a little now because construction costs are so high, but there are still opportunities in a variety of property sectors,” said Emig.

Thousands of acres of farmland and vacant land are being converted to warehouse space in New Jersey, especially in Gloucester County, said Emig. “Most investors think the demand for industrial space is growing because of ecommerce sales, but we think the real driver is consumer demand for faster delivery,” said Pattison. “Right now, people expect one- or two-day delivery but in the future, we think people will demand delivery within a four-hour window.”

MULTIFAMILY Unemployment rates spiked early in the pandemic, reaching a record 15 percent in April 2020. The assumption was that tenants would be unable to pay their rent, but federal and state programs allowed many to continue to pay. Rents were up 3.5 percent year-over-year statewide, the biggest increase in years, said Ponsen, but there was also a wide divergence in performance by location. “For example, Monmouth County saw rents rise 7 percent to 10 percent because renters relocating from New York and Burlington County benefitted from people relocating from Philadelphia,” said Ponsen. “But in Hudson County, rents dropped 2 percent and occupancy rates dropped 5 percent to 10 percent because of people leaving New York.” Transactions have slowed since the pandemic, partly because many owners of apartments in strong suburban markets want to keep reaping the rewards of rent increases NEW JERSEY REALTOR® | July/August 2021 | 11

and high occupancy rates, said Ponsen. Owners in urban markets anticipate a rebound and don’t want to sell at a lower rate. “There’s a huge shortage of housing statewide and demand is high, too,” said Ridolfi. “Developers can’t build apartments fast enough and investors will pay top dollar for apartments. That’s great for apartment owners but hard for new investors.” Demand for apartments is especially high for both millennials and baby boomers in town center locations that offer amenities such as restaurants, bars and shops without the density of a city, said Emig. “Rent increases were highest for two and three-bedroom apartments because of the demand for more space,” said Pattison. “Studio and one-bedroom apartment rents were mostly flat. Probably the lowest demand is for a studio in New York City, while the highest demand is for a 1,200-square-foot apartment in the suburbs.”

OFFICE The ability to work remotely depends on the industry, but a recent report by benefits consulting firm Willis Towers Watson found that employers expect 37 percent of employees to still be working remotely at the end of 2021, compared to 11 percent before the pandemic. That means that many companies will need less space.

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“Some of the studies I’ve seen say that baby boomers want to continue to work at home, but millennials prefer the office,” said Emig. “We’re in the middle of a big shift in offices and it’s hard to know whether existing offices will get restructured.” Monthly surveys of Fortune 500 companies have been gradually turning more positive to returning to offices since last summer, said Pattison, because companies feel that productivity has declined, and turnover has increased among remote workers. “Offices have long-term leases and lower interest rates, so they’ve been surprisingly holding their value so far,” said Pattison. “There’s no measurable difference between the performance of offices in different parts of the state, either.” When the pandemic began, approximately 60 percent to 70 percent of the companies in MetLife’s portfolio were anticipated to renew their lease for the same space, said Pattison. “Surprisingly, 75 percent renewed their leases, which is in line with a normal market,” said Pattison. “Expansion of office space has slowed though, so vacancy rates are rising.” Ponsen is less optimistic about the office market. “We’ve seen a widespread pattern of tenants putting up their office space for sublet for the rest of their lease in both

suburban and urban locations,” Ponsen said. “It’s hard to know about the long-term impact, but we anticipate that trophy office space will fill up quickly when tenants are ready to downsize but willing to pay a higher price per square foot.”

RETAIL The retail sector was in a difficult environment even before the pandemic, said Ponsen, especially malls and department stores. “Initially, vacancy rates jumped 20 percent, but those rates are declining in 2021 as the economy gets back on its feet,” said Ponsen. Even before the pandemic, shopping centers and malls were being repurposed or reconfigured, said Emig. “Some of the malls have been converted to storage facilities or warehouses,” Emig said. “At shopping centers, we sometimes see a big anchor tenant like a Target take over the whole space.” Cooper University Health Care announced that it will open a health care center in the former Sears location at Moorestown Mall, said Ponsen, just one example of mall space being converted to non-retail use.

snapped up at a fast pace in 2021, which means that more people may return to hotels, he said.

INVESTOR OPPORTUNITIES While the full measure of the economic recovery remains to be seen, Ponsen believes that investors can find some opportunities in the industrial, apartment and even the retail sector. “As larger companies gobble up industrial sites, that creates a market for some older and smaller properties that are needed to serve contractors and smaller businesses,” said Ponsen. “I expect strong rent growth in older and smaller apartment buildings, although investors need to recognize that it’s a sellers’ market.” The retail sector could begin to see more transactions as shops, bars and restaurants begin to make a comeback and developers look for ways to repurpose larger spaces, Ponsen said. Economists anticipate strong GDP growth in 2021 and beyond as well as a return of consumer spending, all of which bodes well for the rebound of the commercial property sector.

Older Class B and Class C retail sites are priced for redevelopment into warehouses, apartments, or self-storage facilities, said Pattison, which could be an opportunity for investors. “One opportunity in the retail sector, especially for smaller investors, is to own a franchise such as a Dunkin Donuts or other small restaurant or business,” said Ridolfi. “We’ve worked with a number of investors who start with one and then build wealth by owning several locations.”

HOSPITALITY The pandemic hit the hotel industry hardest, said Pattison, in part because hotels don’t have any long-term leases such as the typical 5 to 10-year leases for office and retail sites and the one-year leases typical of apartments. “The majority of hotels shut down completely for a few months, but they still had to pay their mortgage, insurance and utility bills,” said Pattison. “The hotel industry continues to be distressed because business travel has yet to come back even as domestic leisure travel slowly restarts.” However, hotels in New Jersey’s beach communities appear to be making a comeback this spring and summer, said Emig, since so many people want a vacation at a destination within driving distance. Beach house rentals have been

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n the heart of Hunterdon County, surrounded by Raritan Township, lies the Borough of Flemington. Named after Samuel Fleming, who built the first real home in Felmington in 1756, this 1.077 square mile town packs a lot of history and culture. The courthouse, which still stands on Main Street, was built after the previous burnt down in 1826. Across the street stands the famous Union Hotel, built in 1814. It closed its doors for good in 2008, but progress is being made to transform the hotel back into a place Flemington residents and visitors can enjoy. The courthouse, Union Hotel, and the home of Samuel Fleming, which is now a museum, are just a few places in Flemington with long, interesting history behind them. In fact, by 1980, 65 percent of Flemington Borough was listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Beyond the history, Flemington is also known and sought-after for the

surrounding ample and fertile farmland. According to, Flemington’s Community Partnership organization, “Flemington is minutes from the best of country life— roadside and pick-your-own farms, dairy and buffalo farms, hayrides, corn mazes, pumpkin picking, Christmas tree farms, and beautiful vineyards.” On Saturdays throughout the year, Flemington residents enjoy the locally sourced fruits, vegetables, meats, cheeses, artisan breads, local honey and more at the Stangl Factory Farmers Market.

14 | NEW JERSEY REALTOR® | July/August 2021


Photo Courtesy of Hardy’s Coffee Bar.

According to New Jersey Realtors® Monthly Housing Data, the median sales price for a single-family home was $485,000 in April 2021. With Victorian-style homes in the heart of downtown to new builds and Colonials in the countryside, there is truly something for everyone in this charming small town. Flemington is also known for its variety of small businesses from tea shops to breweries to mom-and-pop shops where everyone knows one another. “Running a business in Flemington has been a great experience,” said

Todd Becker, owner of Lone Eagle Brewing. “As the first brewery in historic Flemington, the community has rallied around Lone Eagle and it is now the place to meet and hang out with friends. Around the holiday season when families come back together, we hear from customers that their child or parents are in town for the holidays, and they had to bring them to Lone Eagle.” Since opening its doors in 2016, this award-winning brewery has opened a second location with the help and support of the community. “Flemington is built around small

businesses and we receive a lot of support from the Mayor and Flemington Community Partnership,” said Becker. Along with Lone Eagle Brewing, in downtown Flemington there are countless shops, restaurants, cafes, and even premium outlet stores. “There is loads of foot traffic up and down the streets of Flemington,” said Danielle Hardy, co-owner of Hardy’s Coffee Bar. “It’s very refreshing to see everyone pop in for their daily caffeine fix getting to know us and one another.

Bloomfield Avenue is where our businesses are located along with some other hotspots that everyone frequents.” According to Hardy, all summer long Flemington hosts car shows, music nights, and other fun festivals to bring the people together. Although it is small, Flemington proves to offer an array of opportunities, activities and atmospheres for the community and its visitors. Enjoy the shops and eats of downtown or the scenic rolling hills of the countryside—Flemington Borough is the perfect destination for anyone.

NEW JERSEY REALTOR® | July/August 2021 | 15

Current Issues We’re Watching F

or more than a century, New Jersey Realtors® has been at the forefront of issues impacting private property rights and real estate, advocating on behalf of approximately 60,000 members, but also the almost 9 million residents in the Garden State. New Jersey Realtors® believes owning a home or business is the American Dream and essential for the growth of the economy. Here are seven vital industry issues New Jersey Realtors® is watching to support that belief.

1 Government Transparency New Jersey Realtors® has long supported policies that ensure the public has access to public records and official documents such as public meeting agendas, ordinances, and meeting minutes. Legislation should continue to be put forward to make it easier to access public records. By ensuring the public has access, we can be sure they are aware and have the opportunity to be a part of the policies enacted by elected officials. This in turn will lead to good government and tax savings for all New Jersey residents.

16 | NEW JERSEY REALTOR® | July/August 2021


State Budget Every March, the governor proposes a new budget for the next Fiscal Year. The State Legislature must then consider and vote on the proposal before June 30. During this process, New Jersey Realtors® reviews the budget proposal and works with the Administration and State Legislature to ensure no new taxes or fees affecting the real estate industry or homeownership are proposed. New Jersey Realtors® works to make homeownership more affordable by opposing new or increased taxes and fees, and advocating for programs beneficial to homeowners and the real estate industry.

REALTY TRANSFER FEE (RTF) In 1968, the RTF was enacted in New Jersey with the sole purpose of recording deed transfers during a real estate transaction. In the mid-2000’s, the fee increased by nearly 50 percent, which made it more expensive to buy and sell homes and businesses in New Jersey. In 2018, an RTF increase was proposed, but not adopted, on properties sold for over $1 million from one percent to two percent. If it was enacted, it would have increased taxes on those properties by a minimum of $10,000. New Jersey Realtors® strongly opposes any RTF increase proposals and believes the State Legislature should instead focus on ways to reduce the fee back to pre-2003 levels. New Jersey Realtors® also remains opposed to any efforts to allow individual municipalities to enact their own RTF.

PROFESSIONAL SERVICES TAX The association strongly opposes extending the Sales and Use Tax to commissions earned by real estate

professionals, which is already taxed under the state income tax. Double taxing commission payments would equate to a tax increase of over $1,000 on a home sold in New Jersey, making it more expensive for consumers to buy or sell a home.

SEASONAL RENTAL TAX New Jersey Realtors® strongly opposes any legislation that would extend the transient accommodation tax adopted in 2018 to traditional seasonal rentals in New Jersey.

Currently, the transient accommodation tax applies to rentals of less than 90 days rented through online marketplaces. Extending this tax to apply to traditional seasonal rentals could cost over $20 million in tax revenue and more than 2,000 jobs. At a time when more families are opting to vacation locally, taxing seasonal rentals would be detrimental to New Jersey’s tourism economy.

REAL ESTATE COMMISSION OPERATING FUNDS To protect the integrity of New Jersey’s real estate industry and consumers, New Jersey Realtors® believes it is essential the REC maintain a sufficient level of funding.

In order to do so, the State Legislature must ensure funds collected by the commission remain with it. Maintaining funding is especially important since in recent years, the REC has experienced difficulty updating its rules and providing important information to real estate licensees.

Time of Sale Requirements


Many proposed time-of-sale requirements, while wellintentioned, make it longer and far more expensive to buy or sell a home in New Jersey.

Fire Extinguishers In prior legislative sessions, legislation has been considered that would amend state law and remove the time-of-sale fire extinguisher mandate. This legislation was passed in the State Legislature but conditionally vetoed by former Gov. Christie. New Jersey Realtors® believes the presence of a fire extinguisher should not be tied to time-of-sale and believes legislation should be reintroduced and approved repealing this requirement.

Mold Currently no standards exist to determine acceptable or safe levels of mold due to the difficulty in ascertaining whether a mold specie is harmful. New Jersey Realtors® believes the State Legislature should consider a bill, which has been introduced, that would create mold procedures and inspection criteria since it is nearly impossible to determine what species of mold are hazardous and which levels dangerous.

Lead Paint Numerous proposals have been put forward in the State Legislature that would create time-of-sale requirements focused on remediation of lead paint, lead in the water supply, and lead in soil. Lead paint remediation can cost, on average, $15 per square foot of a pre-1978 home, which potentially adds tens of thousands of dollars to the home’s cost while also making it more difficult to sell.

Property Taxes


New Jersey continues to have the highest property taxes in the United States. For the first time ever, in 2020, the average property tax exceeded $9,000— seven of New Jersey’s 21 counties had average property taxes of over $10,000. While progress has been made in recent years in to control property tax increases, there is still work to be done to make New Jersey an affordable place for families to live and retire. New Jersey Realtors® believes measures to control and reduce property tax increases should be enacted.

While the state property tax deduction was recently increased as a way to offset the State and Local Tax deduction cap, additional measures are still needed. New Jersey must continue to find ways to reduce the property tax burden. Comprehensive solutions by the state, county, and local governments to address this issue. This cap on the SALT deduction comes at a great cost to New Jersey residents. New Jersey Realtors® and the National Association of Realtors® are working tirelessly with members of Congress to eliminate the cap on the SALT deduction to lighten the tax burden on our residents. The widespread problem of property taxes will only be solved by the adoption of innovative and comprehensive solutions on the municipal and state levels.

New Jersey Realtors® has advocated for additional funding to address this issue on a larger scale while also avoiding stigmatizing properties. Existing revenues from the realty transfer fee should be used to create a program to provide funding for lead testing and remediation.

Making the Garden State more affordable will halt the outmigration of young people, attract new residents, and incentivize new businesses to invest our state.

Funding allocated in the FY 2021 state budget should annually go towards the Lead Safe Home Renovation Pilot Program and Single-Family Home Lead Hazard Remediation Fund. Legislation should also be approved that adds a lead in the water supply question to the Consumer Information Disclosure Statement.

Visit for compiled reports on these exact issues. We encourage policymakers to utilize this data when crafting new measures leading to lower property taxes.

NEW JERSEY REALTOR® | July/August 2021 | 17


First-Time Homeowner Program

Risk Reduction

New Jersey Realtors® is in strong support of legislation which establishes a First-Time Home Buyer Savings Account Program in New Jersey.

Independent Contractors Across the country and in New Jersey, real estate licensees are allowed to be classified as independent contractors, a designation of critical importance to the real estate profession. The real estate profession has long maintained independent contractor relationships, and in these relationships, real estate brokers oversee their agents, but do so while giving them the discretion they need to best represent their clients. If real estate licensees lost their independent contractor status, it would make it untenable for the industry to continue and professionals to represent consumers buying and selling homes. New Jersey Realtors® strongly supports maintaining the independent contractor status so real estate professionals may continue to operate and serve New Jersey home buyers and sellers.

This program would help those interested in purchasing a home for the first time to build up the savings they would need to purchase their first home. By providing tax benefits to encourage those to set aside funds in a savings account that would be used to buy a first-time home, the state would provide a necessary tool that would assist New Jerseyans in having the funds they need to purchase their first home. The State Legislature should also continue to provide funds annually through the state budget for the First-Time Homebuyer Down Payment Assistance Program to help New Jerseyans achieve the American Dream of purchasing their own home. By supporting these and other programs, the State Legislature will show its support for policies that will increase diversity in homeownership, a position strongly supported by New Jersey Realtors®.

The state should be enacting policies that will make it more affordable and easier to expand homeownership opportunities across New Jersey, making us a model across the nation as a State working to support diversity in homeownership.

Consumer Fraud Law New Jersey Realtors® supports legislation amending the state’s consumer fraud law. The amendment ensures agents representing buyers are treated with the same protections as those representing sellers. Currently, under the consumer fraud law, agents representing sellers are not liable if they unknowingly provide inaccurate property information to a client. The protections provided to sellers’ agents should be extended to those representing a buyer if they can demonstrate they did their due diligence regarding obtaining information about a property. New Jersey Realtors® strongly believes the consumer fraud law should be amended to provide equal protections to real estate agents representing buyers and sellers.

18 | NEW JERSEY REALTOR® | July/August 2021


Flood Insurance


New Jersey Realtors® believes in the continuation of the National Flood Insurance Program is crucial to a strong real estate market in New Jersey.

Given the large numbers of rivers as well as the proximity to the Atlantic Ocean, it is vital the NFIP be reauthorized on a long-term basis with reforms to make it more affordable. While the federal government continues to debate a long-term reauthorization of the NFIP, the State Legislature should look at policies to make flood insurance more affordable on the state level. The Department of Banking and Insurance and Department of Environmental Protection can also play a larger role to ensure policies are enacted to protect homes in flood zones and make flood insurance more affordable.

New Jersey Realtors® Helps Defeat Rent Control in Asbury Park BY BRUCE SHAPIRO


hile issues being debated in Washington D.C. and Trenton can have a great impact on the real estate profession, policies enacted in local communities can have just as much of an impact on the industry, especially if they spread from one town to another. Earlier this year, New Jersey Realtors® worked with Monmouth Ocean Regional Realtors® and engaged in a successful campaign to defeat a new rent control policy in Asbury Park. The city council adopted an ordinance supported by MORR and New Jersey Realtors® which created a vacancy policy and exempts one to four-family homes from rent control. However, a group of residents in favor of a stricter rent control policy had a question placed on the April 2021 ballot that, if approved, would have mandated rent control in all rentals in Asbury Park and eliminated the vacancy decontrol policy. In response to this, using both National Association of Realtors® and New Jersey Realtors® Issues Mobilization Funds, Residents for Asbury Park, Inc. was created to oppose the stricter rent control ballot question. This group conducted a campaign to ask residents to keep the city’s rent control policy in place only for properties with five or

more units and to maintain vacancy decontrol by voting no on the ballot question. Residents for Asbury Park, Inc. also conducted a campaign to remind residents to vote in the April elections. The ballot question was defeated. On Election Day, 63 percent of Asbury Park residents voted to oppose the ballot question and maintain the city’s rent control policy. This represented a huge win not just in Asbury Park, but for all New Jersey Realtors®. The campaign conducted in Asbury Park is just one example of the work done by New Jersey Realtors® on the local level. Over the years, New Jersey Realtors® has advocated for or against local issues including certificates of occupancy inspections, sign ordinances, land use and short-term rentals, and more. If you know of an issue affecting real estate, homeownership, or private property rights, contact the New Jersey Realtors® Government Affairs department and we will work with your local board or association to determine the best course of action on that issue. NEW JERSEY REALTOR® | July/August 2021 | 19

Oilheat. Know more, sell more. Secure More Listings with Three Easy Steps In a seller’s market like the one we’re in, the Realtors who succeed are the ones with the most listings. And the fastest way to more listings is to market yourself as the agent best suited to sell all types of homes. Here are three surefire steps for securing more listings of oil-heated homes:

1. Communicate your

knowledge. Be ready to talk about Bioheat® and the advent of ultra-low-sulfur heating oil in New Jersey. Sellers want to know that you’ll be able to position their home in the most positive light, and being familiar with today’s new oilheat will go a long way.

2. Show off your connections. Let the sellers know that no matter what questions come up during the process, you will know exactly whom to call. Have a list of local heating oil companies, tank testing companies, homeowner’s insurance providers, etc., who will be able to handle any issues that arise.

3. Showcase your marketing tools. During the listing presentation, give the sellers a copy of the Homebuyer Welcome Pack, available FREE to you. Explain that you’ll use the Welcome Pack to help buyers get familiar with oilheated homes and use it as a tool to let sellers know you’re better positioned to sell the home than other Realtors.

To learn more or to order copies of the Homebuyer Welcome Pack, visit

PRO$ Corner Equipment Rebates Available for Your Customers! Did you know that homeowners are now eligible to receive an equipment rebate when they upgrade their oilheat system to a new, higher-efficiency system in 2021? Homeowners who live in New Jersey and install a new oilheat boiler, furnace or heating and hot water system that meets the minimum efficiency standards of the New Jersey Clean Energy Program can receive a rebate of up to $700. All your clients need to do is connect with their local heating oil company and agree to have the work completed. They will receive the rebate up front and the heating oil company will do the rest! Your clients can also “double up” their rebates by securing one rebate through their heating oil company and a second rebate directly through the NJ Clean Energy Program, for a maximum of $1,400! Learn more at:

15 Minutes Can Make All the Difference Realtors know better than anyone that time is money. And PRO$ is here to help you make more money with just a few minutes of your time. When you schedule a brief, 15-minute presentation with PRO$, you’ll learn everything you need to secure more listings and close more sales. Our local experts will meet with you in your office, bring our FREE materials and get you answers to the tough questions that can blow up a sale. Visit or contact Program Director Susan Janett at to schedule your presentation today!

Paid for by the Fuel Merchants Association of New Jersey and the National Oilheat Research Alliance

Putting Grants to Work Working to Revitalize Trenton When New Jersey Realtors® began its journey to moving its headquarters to Trenton, they set out with the goal to help revitalize the state capital. What was once a bustling industrial city is now suffering from an abundance of distressed residential and commercial properties. With help of the National Association of Realtors® Transforming Neighborhoods Grant, New Jersey Realtors® is funding a technical assessment of the housing system in Trenton. The assessment will look for underlying reasons as to why there is an abundance of neglected or abandoned properties in the city. Currently, Trenton has over 5,000 vacant properties which makes up nearly 20 percent of all properties in the city. Additionally, Trenton continues to have one of the highest local property tax levies in the state, due to high volume of tax-exempt properties such as federal and county courthouses, hospitals, and churches, and because of this, residential and commercial redevelopment has been detrimentally impacted. Through proper data utilization, issue areas can be identified and policies can be enacted to combat them.

The grant will also fund educational sessions to teach the community and the city different strategies to deal with issue properties and revitalize Trenton. Resident-led organizations are key to making change and New Jersey Realtors® plans to engage and take them as partners to revitalize the city. These organizations can help obtain real, accurate information on what residents are currently experiencing regarding the housing crisis. These organizations will be also be vital in getting the community into education classes to learn about these issues and find new solutions. It’s all about community-driven progress and New Jersey Realtors® is excited to be a part of that community.

Helping First-Time Buyers Achieve the Dream of Homeownership As President Jeff Jones mentioned in his column on page 5, this year, New Jersey Realtors® is also the proud recipient of a National Association of Realtors® Consumer Advocacy Grant to address the obstacles that firsttime homebuyers face when trying to purchase a home in New Jersey. With the funds, throughout the summer and into the fall, New Jersey Realtors® is hosting virtual panel discussions—the Keys to Homeownership—to educate potential buyers about ways to mitigate the burdens of buying a home and promote the newly introduced legislation that creates the New Jersey First-Time Home Buyers Savings Account Program.

Finance Agency, a mortgage expert, and a Realtor®. They’ll discuss the processes that first-time homebuyers should expect to face when purchasing their first home, as well as some of the programs available to them from the state and federal government. By holding these sessions throughout the state, New Jersey Realtors® can gain a better understanding of the top burdens of current consumers in New Jersey, advocate for easing the burdens that new homebuyers face, gain support and pass the legislation currently in the legislature to create a first-time homebuyer savings account, and ultimately boost the rate of new homeowners in New Jersey.

The panel consists of NJ Realtors® President, a Local Board President, a representative from NJ Housing and Mortgage

For more information about these sessions visit NEW JERSEY REALTOR® | July/August 2021 | 21

2020 Profile of New Jersey Home Buyers and Sellers


The typical buyer was years old


of home buyers were first-time home buyers




of sellers found their agent through a referral from a friend, neighbor, or relative or used an agent they had worked with before to buy or sell a home

recent buyers purchased and the homes that they moved from



of home buyers are veterans and are active duty % service members




For recently sold homes, the final sales price was



of the final listing price

The typical home that was recently purchased had


square feet and was built in


years old



of sellers contacted only one agent before finding the right one to sell their home

single males


unmarried couples



% contacted a real


% 75 of homes

as gay or lesbian, and

sold are detached single-family homes


of sellers were very satisfied with the selling process


of buyers identified as heterosexual,

estate agent first


74 78 %


of recent buyers looked online for a home first

The typical seller had a median household income of


single females


of buyers purchased a multi-generational home




of buyers desired to own a home of their own

The typical seller was

of buyers were married couples


15 miles between the homes that %



There was a median of



The median household income of home buyers was



as bisexual

worked with a real estate agent to sell their home

of recent sellers stated that they would definitely recommend their agent for future services


sellers listed their % of homes on the Multiple Listing Service

Sellers typically lived in their home for

15 years

before selling

*Data courtesy of the National Association of Realtors® 2020 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers New Jersey Report

22 | NEW JERSEY REALTOR® | July/August 2021



Supporting Realtor® Champions BY CATHERINE BEST


n 2021, the entire state legislature and the governor are up for re-election. The winners of the primaries in June will go on to run in the general election in November. This makes the primaries very important for the Democrat and Republican parties. In New Jersey, there is what is known as the “party line”— typically there is an office at the top of the ticket (for example, in 2020 the Presidential Candidate was at the top, and in 2021 it will be the governor) and then the other offices are listed “down ballot.” Getting the “party line” is vital for candidates as generally, on election day, voters vote “down the line.” This year, there were several races that had contested primaries from strong “off the line” candidates.

that would allow LLCs to accept payments. Polling in this district indicated that while Senator Diegnan would likely be safe, the Assembly candidates were in danger of losing their seats. NJ CORE focused its efforts on their work during the COVID-19 pandemic, which included their work on environmental issues and school funding. NJ CORE NJ CORE did three mail pieces, digital ads, text messaging and emails to Realtors® who are registered Democrats. The Senator and two Assemblymen were re-elected by a large margin.

As you may know, NJ CORE is New Jersey Realtors® Super PAC. Super PACs run independent expenditures, which are campaigns in support of a candidate, but run “independently” without the candidate’s knowledge. NJ CORE supports candidates who are proven Realtor® champions. Two of the hotly contested primaries were against Realtor® champions and NJ CORE decided to run campaigns in support of their re-elections. In Legislative District 18, which encompasses parts of Middlesex County, Senator Pat Diegnan and his running mates Assemblyman Rob Karabinchak and Assemblyman Sterley Stanley, were facing a primary challenge from a slate of candidates who were upset with the party line system. Senator Diegnan has been a long time Realtor® champion, having recently introduced, at our request, legislation

24 | NEW JERSEY REALTOR® | July/August 2021

In Legislative District 26, which has towns in Passaic, Morris and Essex Counties, Assemblywoman and Realtor® BettyLou DeCroce was facing a primary challenge after losing the party line in Morris County. As Morris County is 78 percent of that district, she was in for a real fight. Polling indicated she was in second place but only by a very close margin. In this race, NJ CORE did mail pieces, phone calls, digital ads, online “pre-roll” video, text messaging, emails and another round of emails to Realtors® who are registered Republicans. All our messaging was based around her work on making New Jersey a more affordable place to live and pointing out where Assemblywoman DeCroce was listed on the ballot. Unfortunately, the combination of her placement on the ballot, a fourth candidate entering the race who pulled votes away from her, and a focus on attack ads from the leading candidate proved to be an insurmountable task. Assemblywoman DeCroce came in third place, trailing the second-place candidate by less than 500 votes.


THE DATE December 6-9, 2021

REALTOR® Convention & Trade Expo

Save the Date! Triple Play Set for Dec. 6-9, 2021! It is our hope that Triple Play 2021 will occur in person and on schedule. The COVID-19 pandemic has been unpredictable. Please understand that government-mandated protocols for large group meetings such as Triple Play, including its outright cancellation, remain a possibility.

NEW JERSEY REALTOR® | July/August 2021 | 25

Spring Market Fueled by Buyer Demand D

espite a continued inventory crisis, April was a strong month for home sales, with buyer activity remaining high, fueled by continued low interest rates. Throughout the state, there were 10,083 closed sales for the month of April, up 33.4 percent over April 2020, which was the height of the pandemic. The average 30year fixed-year mortgage rate was 3 percent, as of May 25, 2021, which has helped buyers remain positive in their home searches, despite being limited in their options.

Closed Sales

In most areas of the state, properties are moving fast. The percent of list price received passed 100 percent this month, with 101 percent of list price received noted for April 2021, a 2.9 percent increase over April 2020. The average number of days a property was on the market in April was just 43 days, down 29.5 percent from 61 days in April 2020. Inventory is at historic lows, with just two months of inventory remaining in April, down a staggering 53.5 percent from April 2021, where the market had already been impacted by the ongoing


pandemic. The number of homes for sale throughout the state in April (single-family homes, townhomes and condominiums, and adult community properties) was just 23,680—down 40.9 percent over last year. Still, buyer activity is high over last year. For 2021 so far—January through April—pending sales are up 36.7 percent to 43,437; closed sales are up 22.6 percent to 37,327; new listings are up 7.3 percent to 51,547; and, notably, the median sales price was up 20 percent to $375,000.

New Listings

April 2020 (7,559)

April 2020 (4.3)

YTD 2020 ( 48,035 )

April 2021 (10,083)

April 2021 (2.0)

YTD 2021 (51,547)




Pending Sales

Days on Market

Median Sales Price

YTD 2020 (31,775)

April 2020 (61)

YTD 2020 ($312,500)

YTD 2021 (43,437)

April 2021 (43)

YTD 2021 ($375,000)




“The numbers validate the story we’ve been hearing over and over,” said 2021 New Jersey Realtors® President Jeff Jones. “But it’s important to remember that a lot of these numbers are comparable to the height of the pandemic last year when a lot of business stalled. As more and more restrictions are lifted and homeowners become more comfortable, we remain hopeful there will be new inventory hitting the market. Even with these hurdles, buyers are attracted to low-interest rates and continue to stay in the market.” 26 | NEW JERSEY REALTOR® | July/August 2021

Did You Know? Did you know New Jersey Realtors® conducts a quarterly survey about the housing market that we call the Heat Map? The data is collected and then populated on a map of New Jersey. These surveys help add color to the raw housing data figures, but they are only successful if you respond! The next survey will be sent out in the summer—the email comes from American Strategies and we urge you to complete it! Here are some highlights from the April 2021 survey: • Economic conditions continue to improve. Almost three-fourths (72 percent) of members now rate current economic conditions as excellent or good. This marks a continued positive shift in economic outlook from the low point in April 2020. • Inventory is an increasingly serious problem. A broad majority (88 percent) of members see housing inventory as a very serious or serious problem. • Fewer clients are withdrawing from the market due to COVID-19. Fortyseven percent of members report clients decided to hold off on selling or buying because of Covid-19, down from 85 percent at the beginning of the pandemic. • Clients are not finding what they want within their price range. Members continue to report less satisfaction with available housing options. • Members’ personal finances have rebounded. One third (35 percent) of members say they are better off financially than they were a year ago, up from 17 percent last April. You have full access to the Heat Map with your membership—learn more at

Login info: Username: njrealtor Password: data2020!

NEW JERSEY REALTOR® | July/August 2021 | 27

B O A R D / A S S O C I AT I O N N E W S

Realtors® Raise Donations for Local Library During the month of May, the Warren County Board of Realtors® conducted an outreach program to help the Warren County Local Library Branches. Members could make donations online to help the county library branch of their choosing.

Take a Swing for a Good Cause In April, the Ocean City Board of Realtors® held their Annual Spring Gold Outing, their first event since the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown last year. The event raised funds for R.E.A.C.H., a [501 (c) (3)] non profit organization whose mission is to help those in need. The money from the event was used to provide scholarships and funds for individuals in need with medical or other family issues.

MOORR Announces New CEO In March, the Monmouth Ocean Regional Realtors® named Bryan Hutchinson, CAE, RCE, CMLX, ePro, C2EX as its new Chief Executive Officer. Previously, Hutchinson was the CEO of Williamson County Realtors® in Texas and worked as an independent contractor providing interim leadership to non-profit organizations. He was also the managing partner and broker of The Victor Myers Companies. Hutchinson is a U.S. Army veteran, and he has a bachelor’s degree in business and a master’s degree in professional development. “We are beyond excited to welcome Bryan as our new leader,” said MORR President Wendy Smith. “Bryan’s knowledge of the real estate industry, passion for the Realtor® association, and forwardthinking and innovative ideas will guide us toward a prosperous future. We are sure he will be dedicated to our association, members, and staff I look forward to where this organization is headed with him at the helm.”

SUDOKU Have a few minutes? Challenge yourself!

Golfers excited to tee up for a good cause.

28 | NEW JERSEY REALTOR® | July/August 2021

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