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When New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy and Democrat Senate President Steve Sweeney recently reached an agreement on a budget deal, it was welcome news to many as it avoided another government shutdown. Governor Murphy signed the $37.4 billion bill into law on July 2, 2018.

Much of the negotiations centered on how much to raise taxes. Murphy wanted a tax on income over $1 million but lawmakers felt this would cause millionaires to flee the State. In the end Murphy agreed to an increase in taxes on income over $5 million at 10.75 percent. The other compromise was to raise the tax on businesses making more than $1 million by an average of 2 percent over four years, with the increase expiring after four years. The sales tax also remains unchanged.

So what do we know about how aspects of the deal will affect matters relating to New Jersey real estate?

Everyone loves to see a good before and after shot. Regardless of whether it's a personal weight loss journey or a newly painted piece of furniture, it's all about the dramatic reveal and being able to see change happen right before your very eyes.

So, why hasn't the real estate industry jumped on the #transformationtuesday bandwagon? It's the perfect opportunity for agents to showcase their real-life or virtual staging skills. On Instagram alone, the hashtag has appeared in 12.5 million posts. The best part? This specific hashtag makes the rounds on all major social media platforms. Agents can market their listing transformations on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter and more.

The U.S Department of Labor has finalized its rule to expand the definition of “employer” to include “working owners,” allowing real estate professionals and other self-employed individuals to participate in association health plans. The ruling also makes AHPs available to independent contractors who are offered coverage through a spouse, the current source of coverage for roughly 40 percent of Realtors®.

BBQs, pools, fire pits and other features are often associated with double-digit price premiums

With summer heating up, Realtor.com® identified some of the hottest summer-related keywords currently being used in home listings to entice buyers and boost prices.

Whether it’s being able to enjoy a weekend barbecue, splash at a pool party or roast marshmallows in a backyard fire pit, Realtor.com® data shows that that homes with amenities geared toward summer activities appeal to buyers and often have significantly higher prices per square foot than similar homes that lack those features.

Frequently, those features are associated with double-digit home-price premiums when compared to other listings by square footage in each respective state.

SYLLABUS

Dunbar Homes, Inc. v. Zoning Board of Adjustment of Franklin Township
(A-89-16) (079076)

Argued April 9, 2018 -- Decided June 20, 2018

SOLOMON, J., writing for the Court.

N.J.S.A. 40:55D-10.5, a section of the Municipal Land Use Law (MLUL), N.J.S.A. 40:55D-1 to -136, provides that “development regulations which are in effect on the date of submission of an application for development shall govern the review of that application for development.” That rule is known as the Time of Application Rule (TOA Rule), and this appeal turns on whether an incomplete application triggers the TOA Rule’s protections.

A recent Realtors Confidence Index Survey released by the National Association of Realtors gathered information from REALTORS about local real estate market conditions, characteristics of buyers and sellers, and issues affecting homeownership and real estate transactions. The online survey was completed by 4,555 REALTORS from May 1-9, 2018.

Some of the highlights of the report showed that when a closing is delayed, the causes were obtaining financing (30 percent), home inspection / environmental (19 percent), appraisals (18 percent) and title issues (11 percent). Properties were typically on the market for 26 days (down from 29 days a year ago) and cash sales made up 21 percent of all sales (unchanged from 2017).

The average number of listings per agent was 3.2 and the average number of clients taken on a home tour by an agent was 5.1. When it comes to the age of buyers, 47 percent were age 35-55, 31 percent were age 34 and under, and 22 percent were age 56 and older.

For agents and brokers, Facebook is a key marketing spoke. Now, other platforms are on the rise—channels that Generation Z, the next home-buying wave, are flocking to in force.

Generation Z — teenagers today — are connecting not on Facebook, but on Instagram, Snapchat and YouTube, according to a new Pew Research Center survey. Facebook has fallen out of favor with Gen Z, with 51 percent usage—a steep tumble from 71 percent three years ago. By comparison, 72 percent are on Instagram, 69 percent are on Snapchat, and 85 percent (the highest share) are on YouTube. When asked which channel they log onto most, Snapchat won with 35 percent of the vote, followed by YouTube (32 percent), Instagram (15 percent) and Facebook (10 percent).

The Federal Reserve raised interest rates by a quarter of a percentage point today, June 13, 2018 and signaled it might raise rates two more times this year. Fed Chairman Jerome Powell said the US economy is in “great shape” and that “most people who want to find jobs are finding them.”

In a press release, the Federal Reserve stated that "in view of realized and expected labor market conditions and inflation, the Committee decided to raise the target range for the federal funds rate to 1-3/4 to 2 percent. The stance of monetary policy remains accommodative, thereby supporting strong labor market conditions and a sustained return to 2 percent inflation."

Confidence in housing is at a new record, with the Fannie Mae Home Purchase Sentiment Index® (HPSI) outdoing its past peak. The boost was ignited by optimism from sellers, who are benefitting from increasing prices. At 92.3, the Index rose 0.6 percentage points month-over-month and 6.1 points year-over-year. 

"The HPSI edged up to another survey high in May, bolstered in part by a fresh record high in the net share of consumers who say it's a good time to sell a home," says Doug Duncan, chief economist and senior vice president at Fannie Mae. "However, the perception of high home prices that underlies this optimism cuts both ways, boosting not only the good-time-to-sell sentiment but also the view that it's a bad time to buy, and presenting a potential dilemma for repeat buyers."

Federal authorities announced today a significant coordinated effort to disrupt Business Email Compromise (BEC) schemes that are designed to intercept and hijack wire transfers from businesses and individuals. Operation Wire Wire, a coordinated law enforcement effort by the U.S. Department of Justice, U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Department of the Treasury and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, was conducted over a six month period, culminating in over two weeks of intensified law enforcement activity resulting in 74 arrests in the United States and overseas, including 29 in Nigeria, and three in Canada, Mauritius and Poland. The operation also resulted in the seizure of nearly $2.4 million, and the disruption and recovery of approximately $14 million in fraudulent wire transfers.