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Distressed Sales Volume Remains at Elevated Levels Despite Big Boost in Non-Distressed Sales in Recovering Economy Source: CoStar Group Mark Heschmeyer

Distressed Sales Volume Remains at Elevated Levels Despite Big Boost in Non-Distressed Sales in Recovering Economy 2012 Could Match $21 Billion in Distressed CRE Property Sales Last Year -- But It Hasn't Proved To Be Easy Money Distressed trading volume has stabilized but continues to remain at elevated levels, increasing by approximately 2% last year over 2010. However, a surge in non-distressed property trading driven by improving economic conditions has begun to mitigate its impact on commercial real estate pricing levels overall. According to CoStar Group data, the volume of distressed transactions in December 2011 remained well above the average monthly volume for the full year, yet the distress percentage of total observed transaction volume fell 30.1% in January 2011 to 21.1% in January 2012. Atlantic County Balsley/Losco Realty is the leading Real Estate Company in South Jersey. Visit our real estate website : www.blhomes.com. Northfield: 08225 Linwood 08221 EHT 08234 By way of comparison, distressed sales made up less than 3% of total sales volume in 2008. Based on year-end 2011 data for sales of office, industrial, retail and multifamily properties, distressed property sales totaled $21 billion last year. That compares to $20.6 billion in 2010. CoStar Group's Property and Portfolio Research (PPR) subsidiary expects distress transaction activity will continue to be elevated in 2012, according to Mark Fitzgerald, debt strategist for PPR, which he said should provide plenty of opportunities for other capital sources to enter the field. "In particular, private equity has maintained 30% of its total transaction activity in the distress space, despite overall acquisitions increasing nearly threefold from 2009 to 2011," Fitzgerald said. REITs, which have been the largest net buyers of assets by a significant amount over the past two years, have also not been significant players in distressed properties. "REIT transaction activity has been driven by the low cost of capital and strong access to the public markets," Fitzgerald said. "This has enabled REITs to be highly competitive in core markets with low cap rates. However, one area that public REITs have generally avoided is distressed properties. Of the major equity capital sources, REITs have seen the lowest percentage of their acquisitions consist of distressed assets." There are contradictory indications whether other major equity sources might be coming into the picture. On the plus side, this past week, USAA Real Estate Co., with more than $7 billion of assets under management, made a strategic investment in Square Mile Capital Management LLC, a New York City-based real estate investment firm. Square Mile has emerged in recent years as a prominent opportunistic real estate investor with a recognized specialty in distressed and high-yield debt, recapitalizations and undervalued equity situations. "USAA Real Estate Co. continues to diversify its assets, and by investing in the Square Mile platform, we hope to broaden the investment opportunities we can offer our clients," said Pat Duncan,USAA Real Estate chairman and CEO. Atlantic County Balsley/Losco Realty is the leading Real Estate Company in South Jersey. Visit our real estate website : www.blhomes.com. Northfield: 08225 Linwood 08221 EHT 08234 "While we have made great strides as a firm in recent years, our platform's alliance with USAA Real Estate Co. will help us to open new doors and provide us with even more firepower in the marketplace," said Jeff Citrin, managing principal of Square Mile. Also, TA Associates Realty, one of the largest private real estate advisors in the country, has been out raising money in the market for its Realty Associates Fund X. TA Associates has raised nearly $833 million on its way to raising $1.25 billion. According to presentations by TA Associates, Realty Associates Fund X intends to execute value-added strategies, acquiring quality assets at favorable pricing. It's shooting for a target gross internal rate of return of 14% to 15% and expects to make its first purchase this quarter. Where Is the Value in Value Add? However, it does not appear to be easy to make a buck in the distressed investment arena, based on some of the numbers that have come in from public pension funds for their 2011 fiscal years. Atlantic County Balsley/Losco Realty is the leading Real Estate Company in South Jersey. Visit our real estate website : www.blhomes.com. Northfield: 08225 Linwood 08221 EHT 08234 For its year ended June 30, 2011, the California Public Employees Retirement System (CalPERS), the country's largest public pension fund, reported negative returns from its value added portfolio over the last 10 years - with the 10-year performance coming in at a negative 7.1%. It has posted a negative 20% return over the last three years. According to Pension Consulting Alliance Inc., one of CalPERS investment advisors, the value add returns have hindered CalPERS overall real estate investment returns. The fund has had 3-year and 5-year overall real estate returns of negative 17.8% and negative 13.2% respectively. For the last 10 years, it has posted an overall positive, though insignificant 1.6% return. "The performance of the real estate portfolio has been hindered by three primary factors: significant amounts of CalPERS’ capital were invested during the 2005 to 2007 period, which exposed the portfolio to the risk of vintage-year concentration; the high proportion of the portfolio invested for capital appreciation (not current income) in riskier, non-stabilized properties; and high amounts of leverage employed at the peak of the cycle," PCA reported. "These final two factors have exacerbated historical underperformance to the benchmark during the economic crisis. Non-stabilized assets provide less income to insulate against valuation declines," PCA reported. Over the last 12 months, CalPERS has been implementing a plan to shift its real estate emphasis towards strategic, stabilized, domestic core assets held for a longer term, and away from more tactical, opportunistic, appreciation-oriented investments held for a shorter term. The California State Teachers Retirement System (CalSTRS) the nation's second largest public pension fund, also has been shifting its real estate funds towards core properties. The fund did not break out its value add returns separately for the quarter ended Dec. 31, 2011, but noted that it will overweight in core strategies for the time being. Atlantic County Balsley/Losco Realty is the leading Real Estate Company in South Jersey. Visit our real estate website : www.blhomes.com. Northfield: 08225 Linwood 08221 EHT 08234 "We continue to work with our partners to transfer assets from the value add and opportunistic categories to core once the assets are stabilized," CalSTRS noted. The New York State Teachers Retirement System reported mixed results from its value add real estate investments. Its $22 million investment in Hines Interests: U.S. Office Value Added fund had returned a positive 17%. This investment was made in January 2005, two years before commercial real estate values peaked. However, the $12 million NYSRS invested at the peak of the market in August 2007 in Hines Interests: U.S. Office Value Added II fund has posted a negative 38% return. Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund, which started investing in value added funds late in 2008 -- after the market had collapsed -- has yet to see a return on its investments. As of April 2011, IMRF reported a negative 11.75% return. Source: http://www.costar.com/News/Article/Distressed-Sales-Volume-Remains-at-Elevated-Levels-Despite-Big-Boost-in-Non-Distressed-Sales-in-Recovering-Economy/136675?ref=100&iid=272&cid=760E33174489522915F3F6C95E2DEED0
Balsley/ Losco Realty loves keeping Atlantic County informed on the latest Real Estate News!


What the Crystal Ball Says about the housnig market in 2012. Source: Trulia

As we wrap up 2011, Trulia’s Chief Economist looks ahead at what’s in store for the battered housing market and which cities have a big reason to celebrate the New Year. Atlantic County Balsley/Losco Realty is the leading Real Estate Company in South Jersey. Visit our real estate website : www.blhomes.com. Northfield: 08225 Linwood 08221 EHT 08234 My crystal ball is never as crystal-clear as I’d like, but I do think that we can expect a gradual economic recovery to move the housing market a few steps back toward normal in 2012. Before getting into the predictions, let me be upfront about what I’m assuming. After 14 months of job gains, I expect the economy to continue its slow but determined recovery. I don’t do my own macroeconomic forecasts, but every single one of the fifty-ish economic forecasters surveyed by the Wall Street Journal expects the economy to grow throughout 2012, and that makes sense to me. Atlantic County Balsley/Losco Realty is the leading Real Estate Company in South Jersey. Visit our real estate website : www.blhomes.com. Northfield: 08225 Linwood 08221 EHT 08234 Here’s what I expect in 2012 and what it means for agents: Delinquencies will go down, but foreclosures will go up. Fewer borrowers will fall behind on their payments next year, thanks to the strengthening economy and refinancings. The share of delinquent borrowers is already down more than a quarter from the peak a couple of years ago. But many borrowers who fell behind on their payments during the housing crisis are still in limbo: last year’s robo-signing controversy threw a wrench in the gears of the foreclosure process. That means that some delinquent loans haven’t yet gone through the foreclosure process. Once a settlement is reached with banks over robo-signing, we’ll see a new wave of foreclosures and foreclosure sales. Atlantic County Balsley/Losco Realty is the leading Real Estate Company in South Jersey. Visit our real estate website : www.blhomes.com. Northfield: 08225 Linwood 08221 EHT 08234 What it means for agents: Despite the decline in delinquencies, the wave of foreclosures will hurt. New foreclosures will depress prices for several reasons – foreclosed homes are often sold at a discount and used as comps for non-distressed homes; vacant homes bring down the value of their neighbors; and high foreclosures are the worst thing for consumer confidence in the housing market. That will hurt seller motivation even more than buyer motivation since lower prices will mean deals for some buyers. Agents should be gearing up with competitive pricing strategies to catch buyers and preparing to counsel their traditional seller-clients about the depressed prices to come in high-foreclosure areas. Rents will rise – which is a bad thing. With fewer people buying homes and more people losing their homes to foreclosures, rental demand is increasing. High rents will hold back economic growth if businesses can’t pay workers enough to have a roof over their heads. Squeezed city-dwellers won’t get relief until late 2012: that’s when a wave of new multi-unit construction projects that started late this year will be completed and available for rent. To tackle growth-killing high living costs in the priciest cities head on, local governments need to get rid of height restrictions and arduous permitting processes, which hold back urban construction and push development to the suburbs. Atlantic County Balsley/Losco Realty is the leading Real Estate Company in South Jersey. Visit our real estate website : www.blhomes.com. Northfield: 08225 Linwood 08221 EHT 08234 What it means for agents: Rising rents and falling prices make buying a great deal – but only for prospective buyers who can afford the downpayment and qualify for a mortgage. When counseling buyers, agents need to be aware of the struggle and sacrifice required to save for down payments in this climate. But the good news is that there will be clients motivated by available inventory and low prices – even though these clients may require more hand-holding around financing options. Mortgage rates will inch up – which will probably be a good thing. A stronger economy will push Treasury bonds and mortgage rates up because inflation becomes more likely and investors demand higher rates to hold bonds. But lots of factors can push rates up or down. For the housing market, which direction rates go is less important than why. Gradual economic recovery is good news for the housing market even if it means higher mortgage rates – because higher mortgage rates should go hand-in-hand with greater housing demand. Atlantic County Balsley/Losco Realty is the leading Real Estate Company in South Jersey. Visit our real estate website : www.blhomes.com. Northfield: 08225 Linwood 08221 EHT 08234 What it means for agents: Higher mortgage rates mean higher monthly payments for buyers, but a stronger economy means that buyers will be better able to afford those rates. Higher rates probably won’t hold back buyers much: rates are only one of many factors that enter into the cost of buying a home, and for many buyers the downpayment is a much bigger barrier to homeownership than the monthly payments. Also, buyers need to be reminded that homeownership has other costs on top of the monthly mortgage payment, like insurance and maintenance, which can add half again as much to the cost of owning a home. Agents should help buyers figure out the overall costs and benefits of homeownership, not just the monthly mortgage payment. Government will sit on its hands. In election years, politicians don’t take risks: they’re more talk and less action, so don’t expect any bold housing policy reforms next year. What’s more, with the housing market now recovering, we’re not in enough of a crisis to force political opponents together. Instead, in 2012 we’ll see the effects of modest housing proposals from this year: easier refinancing under the expanded HARP program, and more government-owned homes coming to market for sale or rent. But the bitter debate in Washington over the budget deficit and debt will continue. Atlantic County Balsley/Losco Realty is the leading Real Estate Company in South Jersey. Visit our real estate website : www.blhomes.com. Northfield: 08225 Linwood 08221 EHT 08234 What it means for agents: No news may be good news: I don’t expect major changes in policy that will upend the housing market. But government is slowly scaling back support for housing, both to encourage the private sector to come back in and also to help deal with the federal budget deficit. Late this year we saw increased fees on Fannie and Freddie to help fund the payroll tax cut, lower conforming loan limits, and proposals to scale back mortgage interest deduction. Agents should explain to buyers what these changes means for their mortgage costs, both before and after taxes. Smart cities are hot. In 2012, the local housing markets that will enjoy rising prices, new construction or both, are those that start the year with stronger job growth and fewer empty homes holding back the market. My top five cities to watch are Austin TX, Houston TX, San Jose CA, the Boston suburbs, and Rochester NY. Most of these cities have strong high-tech industries or high-skill workforces. During the housing boom, the go-go cities tended to be lower-skill, lower-education metros. But in 2012, smart is hot. Atlantic County Balsley/Losco Realty is the leading Real Estate Company in South Jersey. Visit our real estate website : www.blhomes.com. Northfield: 08225 Linwood 08221 EHT 08234 What it means for agents: All markets are local. Even though the housing bubble and bust affected nearly all markets, each local market is recovering – or not – at its own pace. National indicators are helpful in understanding where the market is going overall, but buyers and sellers need to understand what’s happening in your local market – which could be very different from the national pi
Balsley/ Losco Realty is happy to share real estate predictions for 2012!


Realtors at Atlantic City convention debut new continuing-education system Source: ACPRESS

Realtors at Atlantic City convention debut new continuing-education system By KEVIN POST The New Jersey Association of Realtors - having successfully lobbied the state to require continuing education for real estate agents - has created an ultra-convenient system for members to keep up with changes in their field and maintain their licenses. NJAR rolled out its new Academy of Continuing Education this past week at its Triple Play Realtor Convention & Trade Expo in Atlantic City. The program is worthy of its acronym, ACE, creating a lineup of state-approved live and online courses, making them available through the convention and local Realtor boards, and giving members easy online signup and record keeping. And ACE automatically reports the individual's completed credits to the state Real Estate Commission. "We're really enthused about it, and the response has been great," said Allan "Dutch" Dechert, whose term as NJAR president ended Thursday with the swearing in of Gary Large, a real estate agent in Morristown, Morris County. Atlantic County Balsley/Losco Realty is the leading Real Estate Company in South Jersey. Visit our real estate website : www.blhomes.com. Northfield: 08225 Linwood 08221 EHT 08234 "I think ACE could be an incentive for people to join their local board and the association," Dechert said, referring to the minority of real estate professionals who are not members of the Realtor organization. Dechert said NJAR worked with the state on legislation requiring continuing education for real estate brokers, broker-salespeople and sales representatives, and was prepared to implement the rules. "New Jersey was the only one out of the 50 states that didn't have a continuing education requirement," he said. Dechert said continuing education will be good for the public and for real estate agents, who will maintain strong skills in industry basics and develop abilities in niches within real estate. As of July 1, 2013, every person renewing their real estate license must have completed 12 hours of continuing education. At least six of the 12 credit hours must be in core courses such as Top Legal Issues Facing Real Estate Agents and Ethical Behavior in a Wired World, among more than two dozen courses that were offered Tuesday through Thursday at Triple Play in the Atlantic City Convention Center. Atlantic County Balsley/Losco Realty is the leading Real Estate Company in South Jersey. Visit our real estate website : www.blhomes.com. Northfield: 08225 Linwood 08221 EHT 08234 The remaining six credit hours can be in elective, more specialized courses such as Letting Go: Counseling Boomers on Winding Down Their Real Estate Portfolio, or The Reverse for Purchase Mortgage. Despite a deadline a year and a half away, Realtors were keen on getting started on their continuing education requirement, mobbing courses that were free with admission and boosting attendance overall. "The classes have been packed. People have been lined up out in the halls ready for the next session," said Dechert, co-owner of of Ferguson Dechert Real Estate in Avalon. "We're up about 30 percent in overall convention registration (to about 7,400)." NJAR made getting credit easy by scanning the bar-coded badges of attendees when they entered and left the courses, relieving them of paperwork and ensuring that they attended the full session. The ACE website makes the continuing education process just as easy for those taking online courses - convention attendees were offered one such course for free as well - or future live courses. "What NJAR has done is create a campus for the state organization and all of the local boards," said John Shehata, director of technology for NJAR. "The local boards can offer whatever education they want as long as it meets the guidelines of the continuing education program and is approved by the state." He said each board - such as the Atlantic City & County Board of Realtors and the Cape May County Association of Realtors - will have its own branding on its ACE website. Atlantic County Balsley/Losco Realty is the leading Real Estate Company in South Jersey. Visit our real estate website : www.blhomes.com. Northfield: 08225 Linwood 08221 EHT 08234 Shehata gave a demonstration of ACE on Tuesday at the NJAR booth on the busy Trade Expo floor. "When a student logs in, they'll be able to see all of the classes they've enrolled in. They can choose to enroll in other live or online courses and see their history and credits earned," he said. Credits are automatically reported to the state and Realtors can print continuing education certificates. "They don't have to do anything to report their data," he said. Shehata said NJAR spent a year and a half developing the ACE system. It also allows the organization to track the progress of its membership. ACE went live as of the Triple Play Realtor Convention, and this week members can log in and see the courses they took at the convention and the credits received, he said. And if local Realtor boards are interested in creating a new course, a NJAR panel will review the proposal, possibly submitting it to the Commission on Real Estate for approval, and then include it in ACE, he said. "We'll load the course in and the local boards can then schedule classes as they see fit with those instructors," he said. Atlantic County Balsley/Losco Realty is the leading Real Estate Company in South Jersey. Visit our real estate website : www.blhomes.com. Northfield: 08225 Linwood 08221 EHT 08234
Balsley/ Losco Realty is happy to participate in continuing-education!!


Prices down, sales up: Local values fall less than nationwide Source: AC PRESS By Kevin Post

The housing market shared in the summer economic slump, brought on by the downgrade of the U.S. credit rating, impotent congressional squabbling over deficit reduction and Europe’s self-inflicted debt crisis. Home prices fell again, but by less in the southern New Jersey shore market, the latest data from the National Association of Realtors show. Home sales, though, increased everywhere from a year ago — up 13 percent in New Jersey — helped by record low mortgage interest rates. In the Atlantic, Cape May and Cumberland counties region, the median home price in the third quarter was down 3.8 percent from a year ago to $220,600. That was better than the 4.7 percent decline nationwide and 6.5 percent drop in the Northeast. Anthony D’Alicandro, president of the Atlantic City & Atlantic County Board of Realtors and broker/owner of Coldwell Banker Casa Bella Realtors in Linwood, said the price drop is a function of supply and demand, with too much inventory and too many distressed properties on the market. Another factor is low consumer confidence, which is lower than it was in 2008, he said. But overall, D’Alicandro said he feels good about the housing market and “the little bit of growth we’re seeing.” A healthy market grows slowly, as it did in the early 1990s, he said, not like the housing bubble in the following decade that ended in the current oversupply. “We will see an initial decline in prices, and then nine to 12 months from now, we’ll start to see true stabilization and a little bit of growth by the end of 2012,” D’Alicandro said. Mortgage rates that remain about 4 percent will continue to motivate buyers as long as they last, and the shore region will remain an appealing market to home buyers, especially those looking forward to retirement, he said. Atlantic County Balsley/Losco Realty is the leading Real Estate Company in South Jersey. Visit our real estate website : www.blhomes.com. Northfield: 08225 Linwood 08221 EHT 08234 “We have an attractive place to live, near the shore, with lots of things to do, near the big cities of Philadelphia and New York, with a nice climate, and we’ve seen a tremendous increase in the quality of health care, which is important,” D’Alicandro said. Jarrod Grasso, the chief executive officer of the New Jersey Association of Realtors, expressed a similar sentiment about the statewide market in explaining the strength of New Jersey home sales. “The resiliency of Garden State infrastructure and industry, plus our location between the New York City and Philadelphia markets, places us in a strong position for employment and stability,”Grasso said in a statement. Thanks to low mortgage rates and fallen housing prices, home affordability continues at record-high levels. NAR’s Housing Affordability Index was 183.8 in the third quarter, the highest ever except for the record level in the first quarter this year. The index gauges how readily those with a median income could afford a mortgage for a median-priced home. The median is where half are higher and half lower. A third of home purchases in the third quarter were for cash, and two-thirds of those cash buyers were investors, the Realtors said. Atlantic County Balsley/Losco Realty is the leading Real Estate Company in South Jersey. Visit our real estate website : www.blhomes.com. Northfield: 08225 Linwood 08221 EHT 08234 D’Alicandro said that with rents for homes soaring, housing makes sense as an investment again. “We’re seeing rates of return in the 9 percent to 11 percent range. Distressed properties — either short sales or foreclosures — made up 30 percent of home sales in the quarter, down from 33 percent in the second quarter, the Realtor survey said. Those houses typically sold at a discount of about 20 percent. D’Alicandro said that while there is a large backlog of distressed properties from the legal system’s slowdown of foreclosure processing, he doesn’t expect those to undercut demand much for normal homes. “If you think about a 28-year-old who is exceptionally good at writing HTML code, I don’t know that he wants to buy the house that’s been sitting vacant for three years,” he said. The 3.8 percent decline in the regional home price follows a 5.8 percent increase in area home prices in the second quarter. The current median price in Atlantic, Cape May and Cumberland counties is about the same as it was in 2009, and 13 percent lower than it was in 2008. Atlantic County Balsley/Losco Realty is the leading Real Estate Company in South Jersey. Visit our real estate website : www.blhomes.com. Northfield: 08225 Linwood 08221 EHT 08234
Balsley/ Losco Realty loves keeping Atlantic County informed on the latest Real Estate News!


October Home Sales Surprise (only slightly) Source: the WSJ Developments Blog:

Here’s a reason for America’s real-estate agents to start celebrating Thanksgiving a few days early: Sales of previously owned homes in the U.S. — the biggest part of the market — unexpectedly climbed in October. As we report, existing-home sales ticked up 1.4% from a month earlier, the National Association of Realtors trade group reports. Sales rose in the West, South and Midwest, but fell in the Northeast, which may have been slowed by an early-season snowstorm. Economists surveyed by Dow Jones Newswires had expected home sales to fall by 2.2%. While beating expectations is a good thing — and the hard-hit housing market could be near a bottom — demand remains weak because of the limping economy, elevated unemployment and tight lending standards that are preventing many would-be buyers from securing mortgage funding. Atlantic County Balsley/Losco Realty is the leading Real Estate Company in South Jersey. Visit our real estate website : www.blhomes.com. Northfield: 08225 Linwood 08221 EHT 08234 Plenty of consumers are also afraid that home prices, down 30% or more from the peak, aren’t done falling. And it doesn’t look like they are: October’s median sales price was $162,500, down 4.7% from $170,600 a year earlier. … Paul Diggle, economist, Capital Economics: “The modest rise in existing home sales in October may reflect the recent improvements in economic activity and the labor market. But a sustained and significant recovery in home sales is just not on the cards when large numbers of potential buyers are constrained by negative equity and tight credit conditions.” Joshua Shapiro, economist, MFR: “Inventories are high relative to sales rates, and would be even more so if all those wishing to sell their home actually had the house on the market instead of keeping it off in the face of eroding prices.” Atlantic County Balsley/Losco Realty is the leading Real Estate Company in South Jersey. Visit our real estate website : www.blhomes.com. Northfield: 08225 Linwood 08221 EHT 08234 Ellen Zentner, economist, Nomura: “Despite more job gains this year, affordability remaining near record highs, and rising rents generally steering renters to buying, home sales have been unable to break out of a narrow range. Programs such as bulk sales to investors and speeding the process of foreclosure would go far in dispensing of the incredible overhang of REO properties.”
Balsley/ Losco Realty is happy to be apart of the uprise of sales in October! www.blhomes.com


Real estate agencies’ apps, online tools simplify market research Sorce: Atlantic City Press

By KEVIN POST Business Editor | The real estate industry got into digital technology at the dawn of the Internet era, about 15 years ago. We want to know all about the homes we might live in, and online research makes that far easier. But digital network technology hasn’t stopped there — evolving to smartphones and social media, for example — and real estate firms have gone with it. Today, the endless competition to represent buyers and sellers of properties is focused on optimizing the client-agent relationship. The recent efforts of three big companies nicely exemplify the directions real estate technology is heading. New capabilities take advantage of GPS location, Facebook and online databases to offer clients unprecedented convenience. Balsley Losco Real Estate, a large independent firm in Northfield, has started offering a free smartphone app that puts the home market in the palm of your hand. On phones capable of GPS location, users of the app in front of a house automatically get the price, square footage, estimated mortgage payment, taxes, features, photos and more for the home. Atlantic County Balsley/Losco Realty is the leading Real Estate Company in South Jersey. Visit our real estate website : www.blhomes.com. Northfield: 08225 Linwood 08221 EHT 08234 The Balsley Losco app provides such information about the 10 homes for sale nearest to the customer and their phone. “It gives you up-to-date research right to any smartphone, and access to all homes for sale listed in the MLS (Multiple Listing Service) throughout our entire South Jersey-area market,” said Carlo Losco, president of Balsley Losco. Users can refine their home search to see only their desired type of property in a certain price range, with the number of bedrooms and baths they need. And if they have a question, pressing a button connects them to a Balsley Losco agent. The Balsley Losco app is available for all types of phones, including iPhone, BlackBerry, Android and the Palm OS. For phones without GPS capability, entering an address or ZIP code yields the same results. The app can be downloaded for free from app stores, Losco said, where it is listed as the Balsley Losco White Label app, or by texting BLHOMES to 87778, which will get the app sent to the phone. And Balsley Losco agents will provide it to their clients. Losco said the firm partnered with Smarter Agent, a leader in realty technology, to develop an app that’s highly customized for his independent agency. “Now all of my agents, when they cast out that code, the client becomes theirs,” he said. “So the application costs several thousand dollars a month to route this to our agents, but I feel it’s worth it so our agents can route this to our customers.” Atlantic County Balsley/Losco Realty is the leading Real Estate Company in South Jersey. Visit our real estate website : www.blhomes.com. Northfield: 08225 Linwood 08221 EHT 08234 The app also gives the agency the ability to track how many people have viewed a particular home. Prudential Fox & Roach, the nation’s fourth largest realty firm, has set a new standard for residential market websites with its first major rebuild of its website since 2000. “What we’ve done is some next-stage programming in HTML-5, the cutting edge website language, connecting to a lot more information about communities, market statistics and a lot better mapping,”said Steve Storti, senior vice president of marketing. One result is the ability to search for neighborhoods based on one’s lifestyle. A visitor indicates how important such criteria as good schools, public transportation, cultural activities, nightlife and amenities are to them, and the site’s Lifestyle Search reveals which communities rank highly for those preferences. “We think this will be especially good for people moving from afar, and who maybe only know where they’ll be working,” Storti said. A Market Update on the site allows visitors to search for open houses, price reductions, new listings and short sales. It’s also able to show only activity since the last visit. And on every home listing, the click of a button now pulls up a profile of market activities in that area, he said. For the Jersey Shore and Philadelphia markets, a map-based search helps visitors visualize the property location with multiple map and street views. Storti said the firm developed the site with IDC Global, with the main work involving setting up the underlying databases and smoothing how they work together. “Our next step will be to launch a mobile version of this in the next couple of weeks, all keyed to GPS location and for use on iPhone, Droid and Blackberry smartphones,” he said. The latest technology upgrade from Century 21 Real Estate, which already has a smartphone app available, helps its brokers make the most of the leading social media site, Facebook. The firm’s Facebook Application makes it easy for Century 21 offices to optimize their Facebook business pages. “People don’t typically think of real estate as social media, but it’s all about where you live, how you raise your family, so bringing together the buying and selling of homes onto social media is just progressing to where we are in 2011,” said Bev Thorne, chief marketing officer. Atlantic County Balsley/Losco Realty is the leading Real Estate Company in South Jersey. Visit our real estate website : www.blhomes.com. Northfield: 08225 Linwood 08221 EHT 08234 The resulting Facebook pages allow potential clients to contact Century 21 agents directly from the site, give them access to current listings and provide them with many tools for the home-buying process. Facebook users can estimate their mortgage payments, determine how much home they can afford and begin the mortgage pre-approval process. They can also stay connected by Twitter to the local Century 21 office and keep informed with the company’s Home Matters blog. “Most brokers are not Facebook-familiar, so this simplifies it for them,” Thorne said.
Balsley/ Losco Realty Loves to Be Up-to-Date on Marketing Tools! Visit our website www.blhomes.com


10 Tips to Boost Your Appraisal: From The Wall Street Journal

10 tips to boost your home's appraisal Lowball appraisals can kill deals. Here are the top ways to keep your home's look, feel and condition as updated and cared-for as possible. By S. Mitra Kalita of The Wall Street Journal Homeownership rate climbs: Blip or early trend? Blueprint for the new American home A new study says financial smarts decline with age The appraiser was due in an hour. The beds were unmade, breakfast dishes in the sink and toys scattered about the playroom. Would she care? I got moving — and cleaning. At 34 weeks pregnant, that's not so easy. After all, I know lowball appraisals can kill deals. They can also kill a refinancing application, which we are in the midst of for our 1920s Georgian-style house in Queens. If an appraisal comes in too low, it's not worth refinancing, or you might need to put in a whole lot more equity. We don't know how ours turned out yet, but after talking to a handful of appraisers, I felt great regret at not doing more to plan and prepare. Here are some tips based on those conversations. Caution: Some of the advice — like home valuations themselves these days — might seem contradictory. But what all the appraisers agree on is the importance of keeping the look, feel and condition of the property as updated and cared-for as possible. Listed: 42% of buyers except 7% annual return on their home, survey says 1. Spruce up the house. Appraisers say that you don't need to deep-clean under couches and that a few dirty dishes won't hurt your home's value. But rats, cockroaches and that car you've been tinkering on might. "Things like overgrown landscaping, soiled carpeting, marks on walls — those do affect value and are part of the property's overall condition rating," said Dean Zibas, the president and chief appraiser for Zibas Appraisal in San Clemente, Calif. In other words, think broom clean, not set design for a home-decorating magazine. Add to your home’s value with outdoor upgrades TODAY contributor George Oliphant reveals how to give added beauty and value to your home with outdoor upgrades and ways to enjoy those improvements in the warm months ahead. 2. Curb appeal also matters, so mow the lawn, hack those weeds and trim those hedges. This can also help offset your house from unfair comparisons with foreclosures nearby. "In today's climate, I can't stress enough: condition, condition, condition," said Doreen Zimmerman, an appraiser in Paradise, Calif. "An hour or two, for the most part, will set your home apart in the actual picture that the lender gets from the appraiser versus the actual picture that the appraiser will provide of the (foreclosure) down the street." 3. Keep a list of all the updates you've made and be ready to hand it over; a sketch plan of the house indicating square footage also helps. "Have a list of updating done within the past 15 years. Itemize each update with the approximate date and approximate cost. Also highlight the notable features of the property," says Matthew George, the chief appraiser of Eagle Appraisals in Denver. Remember the items that an appraiser might not notice, such as a new roof or insulation. Don't forget the minor items. For example, I mistakenly told the appraiser we hadn't updated one bathroom, but actually we had installed a new sink and had the tub sealed. That counts, the experts say. Balsley/Losco Realty is the leading Real Estate Company in South Jersey. Visit our real estate : www.blhomes.com How much are homes worth near you? 4. Have comps on hand. Yes, this is the appraiser's job, but every little bit helps -- especially if you are aware of a nearby property that sold without the aid of a real-estate agent, says Mark T. Smith, the owner and president of Smith Appraisal Services in St. Augustine, Fla. That can mean it wasn't posted on the multiple listing service, and can result in other delays by the time it gets posted through other government data sources. 5. Be mindful of peeling paint. Loans insured by government agencies, such as the Federal Housing Administration or the Veterans Administration, will require peeling paint to be removed in houses built before 1978. But don't worry too much about a child's scrawling on his bedroom wall, unless it's going to require a whole new paint job. 6. Focus. "Don't spend money that won't yield a return on the investment. The best expenditures for most markets are paint, carpet, light and plumbing fixtures," George says. Prioritize what you do; if you're the type of homeowner who has upgraded and fixed items as they broke, you should be fine. 7. Location still matters. If there have been changes to the neighborhood, mention them, from a new playground to a new Whole Foods. If the area has been declared a historic or landmark district, let the appraiser know. Read: 5 future-proofing tips for home remodeling projects 8. Keep the $500 rule in mind. Appraisers often value houses in $500 increments, so if there's a repair costing more than $500 that can or should be made, it will count against the property. Fix leaky faucets, cracked windows, missing handrails and structural damage. 9. Remember the concept of "effective age," the age the appraiser can assign to a home after taking into consideration updating and condition. "Say you have a cracked window, threadbare carpet, some tiles falling off the shower surround, vinyl torn in the laundry room and the dog ate the corner of the fireplace hearth," says Zimmerman, who wrote the book "Challenge Your Home Appraisal" and runs a website by the same name. "These items could still add up to an overall average condition rating as the home is still habitable. However, your effective age will be higher, resulting in comparables being utilized which will have the same effective age and resulting lower value." 10. Lock up Fido and Fifi. Appraisers say they get annoyed enough by homeowners following them around, but a snarling, growling dog is even worse. Along the same lines, try to make the appraiser comfortable — if it's cold out, put the heat on; if it's hot out, the air conditioning. "If it's 100 degrees out and you never put the air conditioning on, put it on for the appraiser so they don't question that your unit is broken," Zimmerman says. With those things in mind, let the appraiser do his job. "Questions and banter may make the inspection go slow or make the appraiser miss something," said James R. Gerot, a residential appraiser in Ottumwa, Iowa. "My inspections have a rhythm to them, so once I get started, interruptions are just that. Save questions until after." Balsley/Losco Realty is the leading Real Estate Company in South Jersey. Visit our real estate : www.blhomes.com
Balsley/Losco Realty is happy to give you Real Estate Tips! www.blhomes.com


Veterans Day 2011: Why It's Today, How It's Changed Source: National Geographic News

for National Geographic News Updated November 11, 2011 At Veterans Day events across the country, people in the United States gathered today to honor the millions of men and women who have served or are serving in the nation's armed forces. But why was November 11 set aside for the holiday, and how has its meaning changed over time? Veterans Day was originally called Armistice Day, and the date was chosen for its symbolic significance, John Raughter, communications director for the American Legion, an organization of veterans helping other veterans, said in 2010. "November 11 was intended to observe the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, which marked the armistice of World War I," Raughter said. (Related: "Veterans Say Dogs of War Deserve a Memorial.") The first Armistice Day in the U.S. occurred on November 11, 1919, when President Woodrow Wilson declared that "to us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with lots of pride in the heroism of those who died in the country's service and with gratitude for the victory. ... " Armistice Day was declared a legal holiday by Congress nearly 20 years later. In 1954 the name was changed to Veterans Day, following a national campaign to have the day honor all veterans, not just those who served in World War I. (Also see Veterans Day in National Geographic: "The Nation's Cemetery.") Why Poppies for Armistice Day? Veterans Day is still celebrated as Armistice Day or Remembrance Day in other parts of the world, including the United Kingdom and other past and present nations of the British Commonwealth. World War I veterans are remembered by the wearing of real and artificial red poppies, like those found in Belgium, in reference to "In Flanders Fields," the name of a popular World War I poem eulogizing fallen soldiers. Armistice Day is also marked with two minutes of silence at 11:00 a.m. For honoring service members in general, the U.K. has its own Veterans Day—renamed Armed Forces Day in 2009—which falls in June of each year. How Veterans Day Stands Apart In the U.S., Veterans Day was moved, by a 1968 act of Congress, to the fourth Monday in October. This shift of Veterans Day—as well as similar moves for Washington's Birthday, Memorial Day, and Columbus Day—started in 1971 and was designed to create a three-day weekend for government employees. Balsley/Losco Realty is the leading Real Estate Company in South Jersey. Visit our real estate : www.blhomes.com The Veterans Day long weekend, though, was resisted by many states, localities, and veteran's groups. By 1978 Veterans Day was again rescheduled for annual observance on November 11. Veterans Day remains a related but unique holiday from Memorial Day, which falls on the last Monday of May each year. "Veterans Day is to honor and observe the sacrifices made by all veterans, whereas Memorial Day is to honor the fallen—those who have given their lives for the defense of this country," said Raughter, who served in the Marine Corps from 1983 to 1990. Veterans Day Visits Today Veterans Day in the U.S. is marked by parades and remembrance events across the country. (See pictures of Arlington National Cemetery, site of the annual U.S. national Veterans Day ceremony.) Not surprisingly, it's also a busy day for war museums, such as the National World War II Museum in New Orleans. On November 11, 2011, all veterans will receive free admission to the museum, which is also hosting a Celebration of Heroes to honor the service of all veterans in attendance, according to the museum's website. (Related: "U.S. Veterans Day Marked by Release of Vets' Stories.") On any day, museum spokesperson Kacey Hill encourages people to seek out and spend time with a veteran, especially WWII vets, a population that is slowly disappearing. In 2000 the number of living U.S. WWII veterans was estimated at 5.5 million. Today there are fewer than two million WWI veterans thought to be alive. "I think, in general, it's a holiday that a lot of people don't necessarily think about," Hill said in 2010. "But something as simple as finding one veteran and saying thank you, it doesn't just light up their life, but it's amazing how good you feel when you see their reaction." And the American Legion's Raughter believes that Veterans Day is "a day to teach young people about the sacrifices made by their fathers and grandfathers, uncles and neighbors, and mothers and grandmothers." "It's about making sure that when the children of today hear the history lessons and traditions of our great country, they know that it would not be possible without veterans." Balsley/Losco Realty is the leading Real Estate Company in South Jersey. Visit our real estate : www.blhomes.com
Balsley/Losco Realty is proud to support our Vets! www.blhomes.com


Realtor Open House Weekend Results

Buyer traffic was up for the month of May. We experienced an increase of 38% into our company website and 21% throughout our enhanced feeds to Trulia, Zillow and Realtor.com. Settled sales for May were up 12% over May 2010. Realtors Open House weekend produced fantastic results with over 85 visitors resulting from our office participation.
Carlo Losco


Balsley Losco Website Release

Balsley Losco has released its new website. It is a new concept in real estate marketing offering a smooth and easy way for consumers to find ALL homes and business for sale from ALL brokers in the Atlantic, Cape May & Ocean Counties. When asked why they included listings from their competitors, Carlo Losco (president) replied "our goal was to make the consumer's life as easy as possible. Including all competitor-listings is a no-brainer as our agents are licensed to help our buyers with any property listed by any broker in the state of NJ". The official release date is slated for March 21st 2011.
Published: 3/17/2011