Coldwell Banker reports ranks most expensive, most affordable markets in New Jersey

Coldwell Banker Real Estate LLC has released its 2015 Home Listing Report (HLR), which ranks the affordability of 188 real estate markets in New Jersey. The Coldwell Banker HLR named Chatham Township the most expensive market in New Jersey, with an average listing price of $882,260, while Willingboro ranked as the most affordable market in the state, with an average listing price of $134,853.

The annual report is the most extensive home price comparison tool currently available in the United States, ranking the average listing price of four-bedroom, two-bathroom homes in more than 2,700 markets. While other affordability reports provide average or median prices for all homes in a given area, the Coldwell Banker HLR analyzes more than 81,000 four-bedroom, two-bathroom home listings to better address how much a home in one market would cost if the same home were located somewhere else in the country.

“The Coldwell Banker Home Listing Report illustrates the wide variety of housing options available in New Jersey. Whether you want to live on the outskirts of Manhattan, in the scenic Appalachian and Highlands regions, or along the beautiful New Jersey shoreline, this state offers just about any lifestyle you desire. The HLR is an excellent resource for potential home buyers who want to compare home prices in New Jersey and across the United States,” said Hal Maxwell, president of Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in New Jersey and Rockland County, N.Y.

The Top 10 Most Expensive
Real Estate Markets in N.J.
by Average Listing Price

1. Chatham Township, $882,260
2. Madison Borough, $847,494
3. Bernards Township, $816,920
4. Westfield Town/Westfield,
$788,976
5. New Providence Borough,
$727,242
6. Glen Rock, $725,162
7. Holmdel, $712,088
8. Princeton Junction/West Windsor,
$711,442
9. Englewood/Englewood Cliffs,
$705,375
10. Ridgewood, $682,495

The Top 10 Most Affordable
Real Estate Markets in N.J.
1. Willingboro, $134,853
2. East Orange, $150,107
3. Newark, $159,448
4. Bridgeton, $162,310

5. Roselle, $182,229
6. Atco, $182,369
7. Woodbury/Woodbury Heights,
$185,120
8. Paterson, $190,622
9. Clayton, $200,100
10. Millville, $200,865

According to the HLR, half of the top 100 most expensive markets in the United States are in California; Newport Beach topped the list with an average listing price of $2,291,764 for a four-bedroom, two-bathroom home. In contrast, Cleveland ranked as the most affordable market in the Unites States for the third consecutive year, with an average listing price of $74,502 for a four-bedroom, two-bathroom home. There is a difference of $2.2 million between the nation’s most affordable and most expensive average listing price, according to the HLR.

Full data for the United States, including affordability rankings of local markets in New Jersey, is available on the Coldwell Banker Home Listing Report website at hlr.coldwellbanker.com.

About the 2015 U.S. Home Listing

Report (Methodology):

The Coldwell Banker U.S. Home Listing Report analyzes the average listing price of four-bedroom, two-bathroom real estate properties on coldwellbanker.com between December 2014 and June 2015 for 81,417 listings in 2,722 markets. The Coldwell Banker franchised affiliates, as well as other franchise brands associated with Realogy Holdings Corp, contribute to listings on coldwellbanker.com. Markets without at least 10 four-bedroom, two-bathroom listings on coldwellbanker.com between December 2014 and June 2015 were excluded from the ranking.

About Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in New Jersey and Rockland

County, N.Y.:

Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in New Jersey and Rockland County, N.Y., a leading residential real estate brokerage company, operates approximately 50 offices with more than 3,100 affiliated sales associates serving all communities from Rockland County, N.Y. to Monmouth County. Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in New Jersey and Rockland County, N.Y. is part of NRT LLC, the nation’s largest residential real estate brokerage company. Visit https://www.ColdwellBankerHomes.com/t ri-states for more information.

Unequal DUI laws

with Sharon Peters

Q: My nephew has been picked up for driving impaired at least four times. Very little in the way of punishment ever happens. And still he drives. In my part of the country, he would have lost his license years ago, and probably would have done time. He lives in Pennsylvania. Is that known as a state that does nothing about DUI? A:

You are correct in supposing that law enforcement/ courts can treat such individuals very differently from state to state. Pennsylvania is among the 10 most lenient states (ranking number 49 out of the 50 states and District of Columbia) when it comes to how strictly DUIs are approached, according to WalletHub, which did a recent analysis of DUI enforcement rules across the country. The group examined 15 metrics, including minimum jail sentences to ignition interlock devices (which are regarded by many as a highly effective deterrent to keeping drivers who have driven drunk or stoned in the past from repeating that behavior).

Any number of approaches could be used, of course, to assess how harsh or lenient the laws relating to DUI are written … and, especially, applied. This methodology may or may not lock in on all that contributes to whether a state is a crackdown state or a soft one.

MADD, using different methodology, also put together a list of the 14 most lenient states. Pennsylvania was on that group’s list, too.

All this seems to confirm your suspicions.

Readers comment: Several terrific readers got in touch with me after a recent column in which I answered a question about gas caps not consistently being on the same side of cars, and that can lead to confusion at the pumps when one is driving a rental car or the vehicle of a spouse or someone else. “I agree with all you wrote,” one reader commented, “that it would be easier if you could count on them being on one side or the other. You should have pointed out, though, as I remember you did several months ago, that in most vehicles there is a symbol on the gas gauge that indicates which side the gas cap is on.” Indeed I should have. I always appreciate the reminders!

© CTW Features

What’s your question? Sharon Peters would like to hear about what’s on your mind when it comes to caring for, driving and repairing your vehicle. Email Sharon@ctwfeatures.com.

Your next car could apply the brakes on its own to help avoid a collision

By Jim Gorzelany
CTW Features

Perhaps as the first step toward driverless cars, expect advanced safety systems that can help drivers avoid, or at least lessen the effects of a crash to become widespread in the not-too-distant future.

Ten automakers recently committed to making the potentially life saving systems standard in all their vehicles sold in the U.S., presumably over the next few model years. They include Audi, BMW, Ford, General Motors, Mazda, Mercedes- Benz, Tesla, Toyota, Volkswagen and Volvo. Together, these companies were responsible for 57 percent of U.S. light-duty vehicle sales in 2014.

Other automakers could follow suit, and has been the case with important safety features like antilock brakes and electronic stability control, there’s a possibility frontal crash protection could one day be mandated for use in all cars by the federal government.

Until recently limited to the luxury car segment, frontal crash-avoidance systems are fast becoming prevalent among more affordable cars and crossovers, though they’re usually offered only on costlier versions within a given car line, and are often bundled with other features in expensive options packages.

A forward collision warning/prevention system uses radar, cameras or lasers to monitor the distance between a vehicle and the traffic or other obstructions in its path. The same hardware is also used in a vehicle’s adaptive cruise control system that maintains both a set speed and distance from the traffic ahead. Basic systems will engage visual and audible alerts if it determines the car is closing in at a potentially hazardous rate of speed and pre-charge the brakes to maximize their stopping power. A full-blown collision avoidance system will go a step further and automatically apply the brakes at full force if the driver isn’t reacting quickly enough.

Most such systems operate at higher speeds with the intent of saving lives, though a few models, specifically those from Volvo and Mazda, are also selling separate auto-braking systems that operate at slower speeds to avoid fender benders in stop-and-go traffic. A few Infiniti models further offer lowspeed systems that will automatically apply the brakes while backing up to avoid hitting pedestrians and other vehicles.

According to a report conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety in Arlington, Va., autobraking technology can reduce insurance injury claims by as much as 35 percent. “The evidence is mounting that AEB is making a difference,” says IIHS’ president Adrian Lund. “Most crashes involve driver error. This technology can compensate for the mistakes every driver makes because the systems are always on alert, monitoring the road ahead and never getting tired or distracted.”

In order for a vehicle to earn IIHS’s highest Top Safety Pick++ designation, it must offer an automatic braking system in one or more of its versions. Vehicles earning a “superior” rating are able to successfully avoid a crash or substantially reduce a vehicle’s speed in tests conducted at 12 and 25 mph. To garner an “advanced” rating a vehicle must include an autobraking function and be able to avoid a crash or reduce speeds by at least 5 mph in either of the two tests. Forward collision warning systems that meet performance criteria set by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and autobrake systems that provide only minimal speed reduction in IIHS tests earn a “basic” rating.

As of this writing, the IIHS has given a record number of models a “superior” rating for forward crash avoidance when properly equipped, including the 2016 Acura ILX, MDX, RDX and RLX; 2016 BMW X3; 2015 Chrysler 300 and its twin, the 2015 Dodge Charger; 2016 Honda Accord Coupe and Sedan, 2015 Mercedes-Benz C-Class, CLA and E-Class; and the 2016 Mazda 6 and CX-5. The 2016 Volkswagen Golf, Golf SportWagen, Jetta and 2015 Volkswagen Touareg are deemed “advanced” for front crash prevention.

© CTW Features

Hopeful buyers’ big question: Help?

Many potential buyers seek help with down payment. But asking for it can be difficult

How do you ask a question when no one wants to talk about the subject? Often, it’s quite clumsily, without much effort at sparking an honest exchange.

That’s what Dave Hardin, of Hardin Financial Group in Troy, Mich., has observed after working with parents whose adult children have asked for money to assist with a down payment for a home purchase.

“It is so important to be careful when thinking about asking your parents for help,” Hardin says. “Many parents are unable to be honest with their children about their own financial situation … We often see parents spending down their retirement funds.”

Money may be a sensitive topic, but necessity has driven many to ask, with first-time buyers since the recession began circa 2008 twice as likely to receive down payment help from family and friends than those who bought before, according to a report from Zillow’s Aaron Terrazas, a senior economist for the real estate company.

What’s more, high rents, still-tight credit availability and student debt have combined to make down-payment assistance key to struggling buyers, notes Terrazas.

Before asking, hopeful buyers should investigate options, says David Reiss, a real estate professor at The Brooklyn Law School.

“You would want to press your lenders to identify all first-time homebuyer programs you might be eligible for,” Reiss suggests. The Federal Housing Administration offers loans with low down payments, and many state housing finance agencies offer low or no-down loans to eligible buyers, he notes.

In any case, says Reiss, “It would be helpful to know your options when speaking with family members about a gift.

“They might be willing to give a smaller gift for an FHA mortgage, or they might be willing to make a larger gift if they see that it would result in lower monthly payments for you,” Reiss says

“And, the mere fact you did this type of research is evidence that you are a financially responsible adult,” he concludes.

— Marilyn Kennedy Melia

© CTW Features

Stop and start

Q&A

with Sharon Peters

Q: I read or heard there’s a mid-size American car (the U.S. part is important to us) — not a hybrid — that has an automatic cut-off/cuton function for when you’re at stoplights. I haven’t been able to learn what car that is. Can you help? A:

The 2014 Chevy Malibu got a lot of attention for being the first mainstream midsize sold in the U.S. with what’s termed “stopstart technology” as a standard feature. Fact is, this feature is increasingly available, sometimes standard and sometimes for extra cash.

Here’s how it works: The engine shuts off when the vehicle comes to a complete stop (as when you’re stopped at a stoplight or in a traffic jam). The car turns back on in a fraction of a second once the pressure on the brake pedal is released.

It’s regarded as a fuel-saver (though, of course, that depends on the kind of driving you do — how many stoplights you regularly hit; how much stop-and-go traffic you encounter). Chevrolet reported that its firstyear Malibu provided a 14 percent gain in city fuel economy. Most manufacturers say the savings is 5 percent to 10 percent or so.

It’s available from many carmakers, including some models of Chevrolets, Chryslers, Fords, Hondas and BMWs. It’s safe to say it will be offered on an even greater proportion of the 2016 crop of vehicles that’ll be at dealerships soon. Ford, for one, said last year its stop-start technology would be on about half of its models by 2017.

Some who have purchased vehicles with the feature have loved it; others have said it has taken much getting used to (especially when parking). Worse, some hapless buyers have reported that they wound up with this feature without realizing it (poor sales people?) and believed the car was acting up or breaking down within minutes of driving away from the lot.

So, note to all soon-to-be buyers: ask whether this is on the car you’re buying, on the chance that your salesperson might not think to mention it. (The function can be switched off — at least in the vehicles that have offered so far — but you’ve got to be aware of its existence to know it’s possible to make it disappear.)

© CTW Features

What’s your question? Sharon Peters would like to hear about what’s on your mind when it comes to caring for, driving and repairing your vehicle. Email Sharon@ctwfeatures.com.

Where motorists spend the most time in traffic

With more cars and trucks on the road, commuters are paying the price with increased travel times. Here’s where to find (or avoid) the worst gridlock while driving.

By Jim Gorzelany
CTW Features

It should come as no surprise to commuters that traffic on our nation’s highways is worse than its ever been, due largely to the increase in cars and trucks on the road spurred by a healthy economy. Unfortunately, what’s good for the nation’s financial fortunes can be bad for both car- and truck-drivers alike, and it’s shocking to see the actual impact — both personal and financial — of the country’s growing gridlock.

According to the 2015 Urban Mobility Scorecard compiled by traffic information and driver services provider INRIX and the Texas A&M Transportation Institute, motorists wasted a collective 7 billion extra hours last year sitting in traffic — that’s 42 hours per rush-hour commuter. What’s more, all those vehicles burned more than 3 billion gallons of fuel crawling their way to and from the office.

For many motorists, that amounts to a week’s vacation time and income down drain each year, and that’s not counting the potential productivity wasted just sitting in a car. Add up the numbers and the total value of time and fuel wasted amounts to an annual $160 billion, or $960 per commuter.

Findings from the 2015 Urban Mobility Scorecard are based on traffic speed data collected by INRIX on 1.3 million miles of urban streets and highways, along with highway performance data provided by the Federal Highway Administration.

By comparison, INRIX reports that back in 1982, when there were fewer vehicles sharing the road, the average traffic delay per consumer was just 18 hours per year with 0.5 billion gallons of fuel burned at a total cost of $42 billion. Though extreme gridlock affected only one out of every in nine commutes in 1982, it caused delays in an average of 25 percent of automotive excursions during 2014.

What’s more, the study found that traffic is getting so onerous in big cities that drivers find they have to allow more than twice as much travel time as they would otherwise require just to account for the unforeseen effects of bad weather, collisions, and construction zones. Drivers traversing America’s most congested roads typically waste 84 hours — that’s 3.5 days a year — sitting in traffic, which is twice the national average.

And the report’s findings indicate that the nation’s clogged arteries are spreading beyond the most populated areas. Though the average travel delay per vehicle is more than double what it was in 1982, it’s gotten four times worse in cities having populations with fewer than 500,000 people. And INRIX predicts commuters will be spending more time behind the wheel in the years ahead. Assuming the nation’s economic fortunes remain strong, by 2020, the annual rush-hour delay per U.S. motorist will swell to 47 hours, with a shared nationwide delay of 8.3 billion hours at a cost of $192 billion.

According to INRIX data, Washington, D.C. is the nation’s most traffic clogged city, where commuters suffered an average of 82 hours of delay last year, with Los Angeles coming in a close second at 80 hours, followed by San Francisco at 78 hours, New York City at 74 hours, San Jose, Calif. at 67 hours, Boston at 64 hours, Seattle at 63 hours and Chicago and Houston tied at 61 hours.

Unfortunately, there’s no easy way for the nation to simply build its way out of its traffic woes. “Our growing traffic problem is too massive for any one entity to handle — state and local agencies can’t do it alone,” says Tim Lomax, a report co-author and Regents Fellow at TTI. “Businesses can give their employees more flexibility in where, when and how they work, individual workers can adjust their commuting patterns, and we can have better thinking when it comes to longterm land use planning.”

© CTW Features

Business Briefs

Barnabas Health Medical Group has announced the addition of fellowshiptrained breast surgeon Manpreet K. Kohli, M.D., to its network of primary and specialty care physicians. She is affiliated with the Jacqueline M. Wilentz Comprehensive Breast Center at Monmouth Medical Center in Long Branch.

Kohli provides comprehensive breast care as well as medical and surgical expertise. She earned her medical degree from Kasturba Medical College at Manipal University, India. She completed her breastsurgery oncology fellowship at Mount Sinai St. Luke’s Roosevelt/New York Beth Israel Medical Center in New York.

She is a member of the American College of Surgeons, American Medical Association, American College of Physicians, Society of American Gastrointestinal and Endoscopic Surgeons and the Association of Women Surgeons.

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.

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.