Heritage House SIR’s president honored at Cabaret for Life gala

Mary Burke Graham, president, owner and broker of record, Heritage House Sotheby’s International Realty, Shrewsbury, and her husband David Graham, retired international captain for American Airlines, were honored for their personal and financial support to Cabaret for Life on Nov. 14 at the 20-year anniversary gala celebration, held at the Berkeley Oceanfront Hotel in Asbury Park. Cabaret for Life is a non-profit organization dedicated to raising funds for service organizations that help people coping with life-threatening illnesses, through the production of musical theater. Since its inception, the original founders and hundreds of volunteers have help support more than 20 health-related charities in New Jersey and beyond.

The Grahams, residents of Rumson, are lifelong supporters of numerous local and national charities supporting those in need of financial assistance during difficult times. “It was a very easy decision for us to give our support to Cabaret for Life,” said the Grahams. “We don’t understand many things about the process of producing and directing musical theater, but what we do understand is that there are qualities here so necessary to achieve the successful events this organization accomplishes flawlessly time after time — leadership, teamwork, volunteerism, creativity, goal setting, instruction, youth development, encouragement and charity. We are honored to support this wonderful organization.”

Filling the 250+ seat ballroom to almost standing room only, families, friends, co-workers, volunteers and supporters applauded the honorees for their generous support and dedication to Cabaret for Life. Throughout the evening attendees participated in a silent auction funded with generous donations from businesses throughout New Jersey. The evening was topped off with a series of live-performance musical clips from Cabaret for Life’s numerous productions.

Also honored that evening were Jose de la Cuesta, Father Bob Keating, Tim McLoone and Barbara Owens, all of whom work closely with and support Cabaret for Life, as well as numerous charities throughout New Jersey.

To learn more about supporting Cabaret for Life, visit www.CabaretFor- Life.net.

Heritage House Sotheby’s International Realty is an independently owned and operated full-service brokerage serving Monmouth, Middlesex and Ocean counties, with sales offices in Holmdel, Middletown, Rumson and Shrewsbury. For additional information, including office locations and phone numbers, visit www.HeritageHouseSothebysRealty.com.

Weichert of Brick collecting items for local organizations and animal shelters

Frances Graffeo, manager of Weichert, Realtors’ Brick office, has announced that her office will be joining forces with several local organizations and animal shelters to make a difference within the community this holiday season.

The local community is invited to participate by bringing their donations for the following drives to Weichert’s Brick office, located at 740 Brick Blvd., between the hours of 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. daily:

 As part of the 37th Annual Weichert Toy Drive, the local community is invited to donate new, unwrapped toys through Dec. 18, to benefit the Brick HeadStart Program.

 The office will be also collecting nonperishable food items through Dec. 15, to benefit the Destiny Community Food Pantry.

 Blankets, sheets, towels and comforters, as well as dog food and cat food, are being collected through Dec. 14, and will be donated to a number of local animal shelters.

“This is our way of giving back to the community that has given us so much,” said Graffeo. “The holidays mark a time of year when charitable organizations receive their greatest demand for assistance, and it is our hope that through these drives we will be able to bring joy to many deserving families and animals.”

For more information or to make a donation, contact Weichert’s Brick office at 740 Brick Blvd., or by phone at 732-920- 7900.

America’s ‘hottest’ cars

By Jim Gorzelany
CTW Features

 And by ‘hot’ we mean stolen. Here’s where motorists face the highest car-theft rates and how to best protect your ride no matter where you reside. And by ‘hot’ we mean stolen. Here’s where motorists face the highest car-theft rates and how to best protect your ride no matter where you reside. It seems the Golden State is indeed golden — for auto thieves. Seven out of the 10 U.S. cities suffering the most stolen cars are situated in California, according to the latest “Hot Spots” report issues by the National Insurance Crime Bureau in Des Plaines, Ill.

San Francisco leads all metro areas in the nation in per-capita car thefts, with more than 29,000 vehicles purloined during 2014. The only non-California cities on the NICB’s top-10 list were Odessa, Texas, and the Spokane and Seattle, Wash. regions (see the accompanying box for the full list).

On the plus side, the Federal Bureau of Investigation says car thefts are steadily on the decline, with a 5.7 percent reduction in motor vehicle thefts reported during 2013 and 2014; they’re down by a whopping 42.8 percent since 2003. The National Highway Safety Administration attributes the decrease to a variety of factors including the increased use of standard antitheft devices (especially coded keys, engine immobilizers and vehicle locating systems), parts marking, increased and improved prosecution efforts by law enforcement organizations and heightened public awareness.

As before, older cars are most often valued for the sum of their parts; they’re usually driven away and quickly disassembled at so-called chop shops and sold off piecemeal to shady auto supply stores and mechanics. Meanwhile, newer and flashier stolen cars are more typically sold overseas or offered domestically with altered titles, or are simply taken for what amounts to a joyride.

The latest trend in auto theft involves models being quickly and efficiently dismantled on the spot for top-dollar components, with flashy alloy wheels being increasingly targeted by crooks. “Because it’s harder to steal an entire vehicle these days, thieves are stealing the parts,” says Terri Miller, executive director of the organization Help Eliminate Auto Thefts in Livonia, Mich. “Tires and rims are not marked (for identification) and they are very, very marketable.”

No matter where you live or what you drive, it’s important to take every precaution to protect what is one of a family’s largest expenditures. Aside from the surprisingly often ignored common sense tips like closing the windows and locking the doors, parking in a well-lit area and never leaving the keys in the ignition while the vehicle is unattended, the NICB advises motorists make their vehicles as theftproof as possible.

This includes using an antitheft device, which will often also warrant a discount on your car insurance. Having a simple ignition “kill switch” installed in a hidden location makes it more difficult for a crook to start a car or truck and drive it away.

It’s also a good idea to have your car or truck’s vehicle identification number etched on the windshield and major components to make them more difficult for chop shops to sell as replacement parts.

And especially if you’re driving a costly luxury sedan or sports car, go the extra mile and use a subscription based telematics system like General Motors’ OnStar or similar technology offered by other automakers. Such systems use GPS technology and can help police departments locate cars and trucks if they are stolen. Some cars can even notify their owners if they’re broken into or moved via a connected smartphone app.

© CTW Features

Hot spots’ for stolen cars

1. San Francisco- Oakland-Hayward, Calif.

2. Bakersfield, Calif.

3. Stockton-Lodi, Calif.

4. Odessa, Texas

5. Modesto, Calif.

6. Spokane-Spokane Valley, Wash.

7. Vallejo-Fairfield, Calif.

8. Seattle-Tacoma- Bellevue, Wash.

9. Fresno, Calif.

10. San Jose-Sunnyvale- Santa Clara, Calif.

Note: Ranking is relative to population size. Source: National Insurance Crime Bureau.

Big Brothers Big Sisters partners with Freehold Subaru for ‘Share the Love’ event

Purchase a new Subaru by Jan. 2 and help make a big difference in a child’s life! Freehold Subaru has chosen Big Brothers Big Sisters of Monmouth & Middlesex Counties (BBBSMMC) for a second year as their hometown charity for the Annual “Share the Love” Event. For each car that is purchased, Freehold Subaru will donate $250 to BBBSMMC or one of four other national organizations selected by the purchaser. Last year, Subaru raised an astounding $15,000 to support and expand the 1:1 mentoring programs offered by BBBSMMC.

“Freehold Subaru chose Big Brothers Big Sisters as our hometown charity because we know how important mentoring is for children to be successful in school and in life. The agency depends on the local community to help spread the word about their programs and the need for more people to step up and become role models. We are happy to provide the opportunity to spread awareness and raise funds for this worthy organization,” stated General Manager Steve Boyce.

The public is invited to join Big Brothers Big Sisters’ staff and Bigs and Littles at the dealership located at 299 South St. in Freehold on Dec. 5 between 11a.m. and 1pm.. Visitors will enjoy free lunch, giveaways, and the opportunity to learn more about the mentoring organization. “We are grateful to Freehold Subaru for their support of our agency through the “Share the Love” event for a second year. This is a great opportunity to raise needed funds and awareness about our quality 1:1 mentoring programs for children facing challenges in their lives,” commented William Salcedo, executive director of BBBSMMC.

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Monmouth & Middlesex Counties is a donor-supported, volunteer agency that is currently serving more than 650 children by providing them with caring mentors. The agency is funded by the community through individual gifts, grants and special events.

For more information, visit www.bbbsmmc.org or call 732-544-2224.

Playing the price is right

By Marilyn Kennedy Melia

Who knows a home better than its owner? No one recognizes details, like the subtle “swoosh” the furnace makes firing up, or how the morning sun shines on kitchen counters, than a proud owner.

But there’s one important aspect of their home that owners often can’t grasp: It’s current value. When they’re selling or refinancing, sellers must “price based on today’s existing marketplace, not what they hope it’s worth,” notes John Pinto, broker-owner, Realty World, San Jose.

In a monthly survey that Quicken Loans has been conducting since 2006, which compares the value that a professional appraiser puts on a home against the owner’s opinion, the appraised value usually is lower. Indeed, in September 2015, for the eighth month in a row, owners have overestimated their home’s market value.

Luckily, though, the difference is minimal, just 2 percent. That’s a sign that the housing market overall hasn’t seen quick drops or upticks, notes Quicken chief economist Bob Walters.

In the period from 2008 through 2011, owners’ estimates were 10 to 15 percent under appraisal values. That was the immediate aftermath of the housing crisis, when prices were falling rapidly, notes Walters.

“Appraisers are looking at prices everyday,” he explains, and in markets with quick prices rises or falls, appraisers see the trends more clearly.

Still, appraisal is “combination of judgment and scientific methods, so it’s entirely possible for two well-qualified appraisers to arrive at different opinions for the same property,” says Lance Coyle, president of the Appraisal Institute. It’s fairly rare for a purchase to be derailed because buyer is paying above the appraised value, says Walters.

But it’s not uncommon for an owner to think his home’s value has risen so much that he can refinance and get cash-back, Walters adds.

While “homeowners don’t have access to the same data as appraisers,” says Coyle, “visiting open houses in the neighborhood could give a good indication of how similar properties are priced.”

CTW Features

REAL ESTATE BRIEFS

Carlo Siracusa, regional vice president of Weichert, Realtors, announced that sales associate Karen Maurer of the Rumson office was recognized for her exceptional industry success during the month of October. Maurer led the region, which consists of parts of Ocean and Monmouth counties, for new home dollar volume. Maurer can be reached in Weichert’s Rumson office at 30 Ridge Road, or call 732-747-8282 for more information.

Weichert, Realtors and the N.Y. Jets join forces to spread holiday joy this season

The Weichert Family of Companies recently announced the start of the 37th Annual Weichert Toy Drive. Members of the community are invited to drop off new, unwrapped toys at Weichert sales offices through Dec. 11. The toys will be delivered throughout the holidays to local charities that assist financially and physically disadvantaged children. Additionally, employees working at both the Weichert corporate headquarters in Morris Plains and the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center in Florham Park, will participate. The toys collected by employees of both organizations will be donated to the United Way of Northern New Jersey and distributed through their Gifts of the Season program.

“As we get into the holiday spirit, it’s important to remember those children who are less fortunate, and to do our part to help brighten their holiday season,” said Jim Weichert, president and founder of Weichert, Realtors. “We are delighted to have the opportunity to work hand in hand with the New York Jets for this year’s toy drive, as together we give back to our local communities.”

To date, the annual toy drive has yielded hundreds of thousands of items for underprivileged children in the communities Weichert serves. Last year more than 13,000 toys were distributed to charitable and service organizations.

To make a donation, visit any Weichert, Realtors sales office. To find your local office, go to www.weichert.com/offices/.

Car buyers deeper in debt

New-vehicle sales are up, but so are transaction prices, loan terms and monthly payments

By Jim Gorzelany
CTW Features

While new-car sales continue to skyrocket — the National Automobile Dealers Association in McLean, Va., predicts that close to 17 million units will be delivered to customers this year, which is the highest number recorded since 2005 — their prices likewise are heading upward. According to Kelley Blue Book in Irvine, Calif., the average cost of a new vehicle is now $33,340; that’s about $1,000 higher than it was a year ago.

And it seems Americans are going deeper into debt and for longer periods to accommodate the higher sticker prices. According to Experian Automotive in Schaumburg, Ill., longer-term new-car loans that last as long as 84 months (that’s seven years, or about four years longer than the typical new-car warranty period) now account for a record-setting 29.5 percent of all new vehicles financed.

What’s more, both the amount financed and consumers’ monthly car payments are reaching stratospheric heights as well. The average new-car loan is now up to $28,711 (likewise up by about $1,000 compared to 2014), with a payment of $488. The average interest rate for new-car loans vehicles is now at 4.71 percent, versus 4.54 percent in 2014. On top of that, Experian data indicates the average credit score required to qualify for a new vehicle loan dropped slightly over the past year, to a FICO score of 713.

Experian says this is nothing but good news as far as the car business is concerned, with increases in financing being taken as a sign of a strong automotive market, though consumers need to be careful they’re not over extending themselves in the process.

“Longer-term loans help consumers keep monthly payments manageable, while allowing them to purchase the vehicles they need without having to break the bank,” says Melinda Zabritski, Experian’s senior director of automotive finance. “However, it’s critical for consumers to understand that if they take a long-term loan, they could face negative equity should they choose to trade it in after only a few years.”

At the other end of the automotive marketplace, Experian notes that used-car financing debt is likewise continuing its upward trend — it stands at an average $18,213 per vehicle, which is up from $17,927 in 2014. Interest rates are likewise ticking upward, with the average used-car loan being financed at 9.17 percent.

If there is any good news for cashstrapped consumers it involves new-car leasing. Leasing isn’t for everyone, but with interest rates remaining low and resale values still relatively healthy, the deals are plentiful and affordable. For those who may still be new to the game, vehicle leases are largely based on the difference between a car’s transaction price and what it’s predicted to be worth at the end of the term — called its residual value — financed at a given rate of interest (though automakers will sometimes offer cheap financing, a cash rebate or other incentive to lower the monthly payment for a given model).

Lease payments have dropped over the past 12 months from an average $412/month to $405. At that, we found many popular midsize cars leasing for a monthly charge of $200 or less with a down payment in the $2,000 range; compact sedans often lease for around $150/month. If you can settle for the diminutive two-seat Smart ForTwo coupe, we found monthly payments as low as $99/month, which is less than the cost of a daily cup of cappuccino at Starbucks.

Not surprisingly, the popularity of leasing among new-car shoppers continues to grow. Experian notes that new car leasing now accounts for a record high 31.40 percent of all new models financed, compared to a still robust 30.22 percent last year.

© CTW Features

BUSINESS BRIEFS

Warshauer Electric Supply has announced Joe Vanore is the company’s vice president of finance. As a member of the executive management team, he will report directly to President Jim Warshauer and will oversee all accounting, financial, information technology and human resources for the company.

Previously, Vanore was the controller/treasurer at The Main Tape Corporation, a leading manufacturer in protection films and application tapes. His leadership skills and financial experience will help Warshauer reach its long-term goals and profitable growth.

He will be based at Warshauer’s Corporate

Headquarters at 800 Shrewsbury Ave. in Tinton Falls.

United Methodist Homes of New Jersey Foundation announced Samuel B. Preston was recently elected the chair of its Board of Trustees.

Preston is an adjunct professor of business ethics at the Stern School of Business at New York University and has over 35 years of experience in banking and consulting in the U.S. and abroad.

He most recently held positions at Rabobank, N.A. in Netherlands and Chase Manhattan Bank and Salomon Brothers in New York.

Coldwell Banker completes launch of new consumer website

Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in New Jersey and Rockland County, N.Y. announces the completion of the launch of ColdwellBanker- Homes.com, a new consumer website that unifies 17 brokerage websites that served 50 of the largest 100 metropolitan areas in the United States. The new site features all of NRT’s Coldwell Banker branded and MLS property listings in the regions the company serves. NRT is the parent company of Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage. Local listings can be viewed directly at www.ColdwellBankerHomes.com/tri-states.

The site replaces ColdwelBanker- Moves.com, and visitors to that site will automatically be transferred to Coldwell- BankerHomes.com. Visitors will be prompted to search for a property in their local market area, and will have the ability to search in markets across the country.

“ColdwellBankerHomes.com competes directly with some of the leading real estate websites in the nation, and our visitors now have access to some of the largest markets across the country all on one site,” said Hal Maxwell, president of Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in New Jersey and Rockland County, N.Y.

“The new site still retains our customers’ most popular features, and new functions have been introduced to greatly enhance their experience,” Maxwell said. “We are confident that homebuyers and sellers will greatly appreciate the design and functionality of ColdwellBanker- Homes.com and will make this site their primary location for all of their real estate needs.”

The responsive-design site offers virtual tours, photos, property videos, community profiles, city and school reports, interactive maps, tips for buying and selling a home, and Coldwell Banker property management and rental listings. Consumers can also request a report on their home’s value in today’s market. The site effortlessly converts to computer, mobile and tablet format. Agents affiliated with Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in New Jersey and Rockland County, N.Y. receive a free personal profile page, and have the ability to upload a video profile, unlimited photos for each property, and send automatic email alerts on new properties, price reductions and open houses to customers who opt-in. Leads on properties listed by a Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerageaffiliated agent will be sent directly to the agent through HomeBase InTouch, Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage ‘s customer relationship management system.

Visit www.ColdwellBankerHomes.com/tristates for more information.