Industry news :: The Construction Management Pro

Christie Administration Announces Launch of “reNew Jersey Stronger” Housing Assistance Initiative

May 28, 2013

$780 Million Available for Homeowners Impacted by Superstorm Sandy

Beginning May 24, 2013, eligible homeowners can now apply for grant assistance at www.renewjerseystronger.org or by calling 1-855-SANDYHM (1-855-726-3946).

The housing assistance programs comes less than a month after the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) approved New Jersey’s Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Disaster Recovery Action Plan. The Action Plan details how the State will utilize $1,829,520,000 in federal funding to help homeowners, renters, businesses and communities impacted by Superstorm Sandy. The reNew Jersey Stronger housing assistance initiative will utilize $780 million of the allocation.

Homeowners will be able to apply online and by phone starting today. They will also be able to apply in-person starting June 8 at Sandy Housing Assistance Centers which will be located in those counties most impacted by the storm. “Housing counselors both at the centers and over the phone can help applicants navigate the entire process by providing support and clear guidance,” said Richard E. Constable, III, Commissioner of the NJ Department of Community Affairs (DCA), which will administer the distribution of CDBG Disaster Recovery funds for New Jersey.

Under the reNew Jersey Stronger housing initiative, homeowners whose primary residences were damaged by the storm in the nine most-impacted counties (Atlantic, Bergen, Cape May, Essex, Hudson, Middlesex, Monmouth, Ocean, and Union) may apply for two grant programs. Vacation homes, second homes and recreational vehicles or trailers are not eligible for the programs based on federal restrictions on the use of the funds.

  • Homeowner Reconstruction, Rehabilitation, Elevation and Mitigation (RREM) Program: This $600 million program will provide eligible homeowners up to $150,000 in grant funds to aid the reconstruction, rehabilitation, elevation and mitigation of damaged primary homes. The program is intended to fill the gap between the costs needed to repair the home and other sources of funds the homeowner has received to repair their home such as insurance payments or assistance from FEMA or the U.S. Small Business Administration. Additionally, the program will help homeowners with the construction process by developing repair specifications, identifying qualified builders to do the construction work, and ensuring the quality of the work completed. Seventy percent of the funds will be reserved for low-to-moderate-income households in accordance with federal requirements.

All applicants under the RREM Program must have registered for assistance with FEMA and must have a household adjusted gross annual income of less than $250,000. Priority will be given to homes that are deemed “substantially damaged” (damages exceed 50% of a home’s assessed value) as a result of Sandy.

  • Homeowner Resettlement Program: This $180 million program is aimed at encouraging Sandy-impacted homeowners to remain in the nine counties that were most seriously affected by the storm. This program will provide $10,000 grants to eligible homeowners to encourage them to resettle in their existing home or resettle in the same county and in so doing will help to restore home values and stabilize many devastated communities. Homeowners must agree to remain in the county of their damaged residence for three consecutive years following the grant award. Sixty percent of the funds will be reserved for low-to-moderate-income households in accordance with federal requirements.

All applicants under the Resettlement Program must have registered for assistance with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and must have sustained at least $8,000 in damages or more than one foot of flooding on the first floor as a result of Sandy. There is no formal deadline for accepting applications, there will be an initial application period that will run from May 24, 2013 to June 30, 2013. All completed RREM and Resettlement applications received by June 30 will then be in the first group to be processed. Once the application period closes, selection will prioritize those homeowners with the most damage (i.e., substantial, severe and major), whose homes are in the most impacted counties (i.e., Atlantic, Monmouth and Ocean), and who are of low- to moderate-income.

In early July, applicants will be notified of their place on the list and whether they will receive an award out of HUD’s initial allocation of funding. Anyone who is not successful in getting an award will be placed on a waiting list pending a future allocation from HUD. An announcement on future allocations is expected in September.

Applications will continue to be accepted after June 30, 2013, but these applicants will be processed only after all the most impacted homeowners from the first group have been served.

For more information on the reNew Jersey Stronger housing assistance initiative, including details about the application process, determination of eligibility, and award calculation, visit www.renewjerseystronger.org or call the hotline number 1-855-SANDYHM (1-855-726-3946). Locations and directions to the Sandy Housing Assistance Centers that are opening June 8 will be posted at www.renewjerseystronger.org as the information becomes available.

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Now Available: Stronger NJ Business Grant program

May 2, 2013

Now Available: Stronger NJ Business Grant program 

Source: New Jersey Builder’s Association

The New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA) is accepting applications for the Stronger NJ Business Grant program. This program provides up to $50,000 per impacted location and up to $250,000 per entity to eligible small businesses and non-profit organizations which sustained a minimum of $5,000 in physical damage from Superstorm Sandy.

Governor Chris Christie has tasked the NJEDA to administer $460 million of Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funding to support the recovery of storm-impacted businesses. Of this total, $260 million will fund the Stronger NJ Business Grant program.

For more information regarding the Stronger NJ Business Grant program, including eligibility information and application instructions, please visit: http://application.njeda.com/strongernjbusinessgrant.

The NJEDA Office of Recovery Superstorm Sandy hotline is also open at 1-855-SANDY-BZ to answer any questions you may have regarding the program and application process.

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Foreclosure Settlement

March 30, 2013

In January 2013, an agreement between 11 mortgage servicers and the Federal Bank regulators was reached. That agreement ended the independent Foreclosure review program.

Parties to the agreement included Aurora, Bank of America, Citibank, JPMorgan Chase, HSBC, MetLife Bank, PNC, Sovereign, SunTrust, US Bank, Wells Fargo and their affiliates or acquired loan servicing companies.

The agreement stipulates that borrowers whose mortgage loans were serviced by any of the participating entities and were involved in a foreclosure proceeding between January 1, 2009 and December 21, 2010 will receive compensation even if a request for review form was not submitted by the December 21, 2010 deadline.

Eligible borrowers should have been to be contacted by the Paying Agent, Rust Consulting, Inc., by March 31, 2013 with payment details. Borrowers can call the Paying Agent at 1-888-952-9105 to update their contact information or to verify that they are covered by the agreement’s amendments.

for more information:

https://independentforeclosurereview.com/faqs.aspx#FAQ_AGREEMENT

 

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Hurricane Sandy Resources

January 2, 2013

Some time has passed since Super Storm Sandy hit. However, if you know someone who is still in need please make use of the following resources:
Call 211 or go online at www.nj211.org for help with non-emergency issues, including basic human needs, support for seniors or persons with disabilities, children, or mental health issues.

To file a claim with FEMA:
• Call 800-621-FEMA (800-621-3362). Make sure you register with FEMA. Make sure your insurance company is informed about your issues even if you have contacted FEMA!
To file an insurance claim, if you can’t find the company or agent’s number:
• Call the NJ Department of Banking and Insurance at 1-800-446-7467 or go to www.dobi.nj.gov.
To provide volunteer assistance in the cleanup and restoration effort:
• Call 1-800-JERSEY-7 (1-800-537-7397). Backup numbers: 609-775-5236 or 908-303-0471.
• Volunteers may also send an email to rowena.madden@sos.state.nj.us. This service is managed by the NJ Business Action Center and the Governor’s Office of Volunteerism, both divisions within the NJ Department of State.
To request volunteer assistance:
• Call 211 or go online at www.nj211.org.
State Aid:
• Department of Health and Senior Services
• New Jersey Department of Health – Directory of Local Health Departments in New Jersey
• NJ DEP’s Hurricane Sandy Page – precautionary wastewater measures, how municipalities can apply for emergency land use permits, when to boil their water, and much more.

Do You Have Property Available to Assist Sandy Evacuees?
NJAR® continues to seek properties available for short-term or long-term rental for those affected by Hurricane Sandy. If you’d like more information on temporary housing for Sandy evacuees at age-restricted communities or if you currently have a listing you’d like placed on FEMA’s Housing Portal and the NJ Housing Resource Center’s webpage, please contact NJAR® Local Government and Regulatory Affairs Coordinator Bruce Shapiro at (732) 494-4713 or bshapiro@njar.com.
In addition, more resources geared to both REALTORS® and the public have been added to the Get the REAL Story® Relief webpage. They include tips from the New Jersey Housing Resource Center (HRC) and a timeline of updates on the Fort Monmouth temporary housing efforts.

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Real Estate Development & Economic Summit

September 17, 2012

Rutgers Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy presents a Real Estate Development & Economic Summit to be held on September 27, 4:00 – 6:00 P.M. at the Special Events Forum, Civic Square Building New Brunswick, NJ.

Expert presenters will share news, trends in commercial real estate development, regional cooperation, infrastructure construction, best-practices in commercial real estate investment and pricing, finance and debt, economics and land policy, sustainable development, and occupational strategies.

Moderated by James W. Hughes, Dean of the Bloustein School, who will present the broad national and global economic outlook. Panelists to include Joseph Seneca, University Professor, Bloustein School; Gil Medina, Executive Managing Director, Cushman & Wakefield; Jose Cruz, Senior Managing Director, Holliday Fenoglio Fowler, LP; and Jeffrey M. Schotz, Executive Vice President, SJP Properties.

Light Refreshments & Networking to follow. The event is free and open to the public. RSVP is requested by September 24 to RSVP@policy.rutgers.edu

Visit policy.rutgers.edu for more information.

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Foreclosure Bills Released From Committee

August 10, 2012

Source: NJ Builders Association

Two NJBA strongly supported bills were released by the Senate Economic Growth Committee. NJBA CEO Timothy Touhey testified in support of bills and warned that an excess inventory of foreclosed homes or distressed properties will only continue to be a drain on the housing market, depress home values and delay an economic recovery.

S2156 (Lesniak) would establish an expedited foreclosure procedure for vacant and abandoned property in uncontested matters. This bill would give the Courts the tools necessary to handle not only the existing backlog of pending foreclosures, but also the large number of expected foreclosures now that the judicial moratorium has been lifted.

S2157 (Lesniak) would establish the “Foreclosure Relief Corporation” as a temporary entity within the New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency (HMFA). Its mission will be to act as a clearing house for foreclosed residential properties and to work with municipal governments, housing non-profits and qualified investors to effectively address the excess inventory of foreclosed residential properties in an expedited fashion.

The Senate bills are likely to be referred to the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee. The companion Assembly bills are likely to be introduced in the near future.

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Lumber Prices Moving Higher – SLA Could Become a Factor

May 3, 2012

May 2, 2012

A mill fire in British Columbia sent lumber prices higher, adding to a number of supply side developments that moved the Random Lengths Framing Lumber Composite Price (FLCP) to $316 on Friday. This price, if maintained, would trigger provisions in the US-Canadian Softwood Lumber Agreement (SLA) reducing tariffs on imports of Canadian lumber. An average price above the $315 limit for the period from April 20 to May 11 would result in reduced tariffs for the month of June.

The mill fire, the second this year, coupled with already lean inventories helped push up the FLCP which has climbed steadily from a low of $252 in early November 2011. But the fire, the result of wood dust from the harvesting of beetle killed timber, also renewed focus on the longer term supply implications of the bug kill. One study estimates the British Columbia Interior timber supply could be reduced by one third over the next 20 years.

On the demand side, a slow but improving US housing recovery, combined with slower but still strong growth in China will keep upward pressure on lumber prices.

But some downward pressure on lumber prices, in addition to the possible tariff reductions, could come from Russia’s entry into the World Trade Organization. Membership is expected to increase competitiveness through reduced tariffs on Russian lumber exports, increasing exports to China and European markets. Theoretically, this would ease price pressures in the US market, but procedural issues of implementation could delay this effect.

NAHB

Monday Morning Briefing

 

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Home Appraisal Process Flawed, Government Report Finds

March 14, 2012

The Government Accounting Office has come to the same conclusion many home builders have: the home loan appraisal process remains flawed.

“Some 20 years after the passage of Title XI [which establishes rules about appraiser qualifications and independence] questions remain about the oversight of the appraisal industry and the quality of appraisals,” says the recently released GAO report.

Appraisal fraud, the deliberate overstatement or understatement of a home’s value, remains a concern. Of the 816 mortgage fraud cases the FBI closed from the fourth quarter of 2010 to the third quarter of 2011, 92 involved appraisal fraud, the report said.

And there are still worries within the industry that the increased use of appraisal management companies, which are often accused of focusing more on the bottom line and quick processing, is sacrificing quality, the report continued.

A much-simplified summation of the GAO’s study is that the appraisal process needs better monitoring. The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) agrees and said there is evidence that the flawed system is continuing to hamper the home building industry’s recovery by derailing sales.

A recent NAHB poll showed that one out of three builders surveyed lost signed sales contracts because of flawed appraisals. And a National Association of Realtors survey conducted last fall found 18% of Realtors reporting recent contract cancellations or delays as a result of a low appraisal.

“The current system is not working,” said NAHB Chairman Bob Nielsen in Nation’s Building News. “We must resolve a flawed appraisal process that produces inaccurate assessment of home values because this fosters price instability, puts more families in danger of default or foreclosure, and undermines the housing and economic recoveries.”

The GAO specifically looked at the workings of the Appraisal Subcommittee, which is tasked with monitoring states’ compliance with Title XI as well as monitoring appraisal requirements of the federal financial institution’s regulators. The GAO concludes that the subcommittee hasn’t developed clearly defined criteria for assessing whether states are complying with Title XI, and the subcommittee’s monitoring of compliance has been limited.

The subcommittee was also faulted for lacking policies to evaluate whether the activities of the Appraisal Foundation, a non-profit organization that gets government grants and sets the criteria for appraisers and appraisals, are related to complying with Title XI.

In its defense, the GAO report points out that the Appraisal Subcommittee is funded by fees paid by appraisal registration fees, which have dropped off as appraisers left the industry. To make matters worse, the subcommittee got more duties under the Dodd-Frank Act. It is now charged with creating a national appraiser complaint hotline and provides grants to state appraiser regulatory agencies, which have complained they are under-funded. The report expresses concern over whether the subcommittee will be able to meet those requirements with its current resources.

In addition, the GAO expresses concern that the subcommittee might not have the teeth it needs to enforce the regulations anyway.

“These findings underscore the need to establish an effective oversight system to ensure that appraisals accurately reflect true market values and don’t harm aspiring home buyers or builders,” says NAHB’s Nielsen.

Teresa Burney is a senior editor for BUILDER magazine.

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What Does the Real Estate Commission Rebate Law Change Mean to Home Buyers?

March 8, 2012

January 19, 2010 was an exciting day. Then New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine signed into law a bill sponsored by state Assemblyman Patrick J. Diegnan, Jr., Paul D. Moriarty and Joseph Vas  that allows New Jersey home buyers across the state to receive a cash rebate, once they close on their home, from real estate brokerages. With people being asked to come up with higher down payments and meet more stringent lending standards than ever these days, to purchase a house, the ability to get a check after closing – or even cover the closing costs with a rebate from your real estate agent, is sure to be a boon for both cash-strapped buyers and the New Jersey housing market overall.

The real estate industry, historically, has been about what’s best for the agent.  With the new Internet era coming into the real estate market place, the old industry model is broken. It is now permissible for Realtors to rebate a portion of the buyer Agent’s commission to the buyer.

Please contact me at 609-575-8564 if you are interested in purchasing 18 Lenox St., Newark, NJ and getting a check for more than $2,000 at closing.

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Free Pre-Apprenticeship Opportunity

December 28, 2011

The Finishing Trades Institute of the Mid-Atlantic Region received a Green Jobs Innovation Fund grant which makes available a free education and training opportunity for Out of School Youth, Dislocated Workers, Unemployed Workers and Veterans.  The Tri-Green Pre-Apprenticeship Program offers 160 hours of classroom and hands on instruction leading to three industry recognized certifications (Green Advantage, OSHA 10 and First Aid/CPR) and 10 college credits as described in the attachment.  Successful completers are offered advanced standing for the available apprenticeship seats at The Finishing Trades Institute.

The initial Philadelphia area offering will be conducted January 9 – February 3, 2012.

To read more about the program follow this link: http://www.fti.edu/certificate_program.html

To register for the program online (recommended) follow this link:  https://fti.unionlogic.net/trigreen

To print a registration form to drop off or mail, follow this link: http://www.fti.edu/pdf/tri_green_application2011-2012.pdf

Your support to identify Out of School Youth, Dislocated Workers, Unemployed Workers and Veterans interested in learning more about the construction trades, gaining knowledge and skills, advancing their education and or increasing their employability would be appreciated.

Please feel free to contact me at your convenience.  Thank you for your time and attention.

Sincerely,

Susan Shaffer

Tri-Green Outreach Coordinator

The Finishing Trades Institute

2190 Hornig Rd

Philadelphia, PA 19116

C: 570-885-9612

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