2009 Apr 21st

Don’t Forget To Vote Today! 2pm to 9pm. Board of Ed & Budget.

Some more interesting info about your choice for School Board to consider:


Censored Letter to the Editor?

Here is the letter to the editor of the Hoboken Reporter which they refused to print this week.  They claim they don’t print ‘negative’ letters the week prior to the election.  Can you say censorship?  Yet they printed Frank (Pupie) Raia’s letter on the same subject.  So in fairness, (thank you Hoboken411.com) you can read the other side here:

“To The Editor-

I was educated in New Jersey public schools and am the son of a parent who served three-terms as a trustee of the Board of Education. I believe in the importance of public schools and in the 23 years that I have lived in Hoboken I have always voted for the school budget. However, on April 21st, for the first time in my life, I will vote NO on the school budget and wanted to explain why.

We in Hoboken are suffering through an unprecedented fiscal crisis. The shocks to the financial industry have cost large number of our residents their jobs and those residents who are fortunate to still have their jobs worry about their job security and are trying to cut back in many ways to protect against things getting worse in their lives. At the same time, property taxes, which support the public schools, have increased 47%. People are hurting and need help.

Unfortunately, the leadership of Hoboken’s Teachers’ Union, just doesn’t get it. Thomas L. Friedman, in his March 17, 2009 column in the New York Times wrote about how teachers in other public school districts “get it” and have responded in the public interest. He wrote:

“The schoolteachers here [in Montgomery County, Maryland], who make on average $67,000 a year, recently voted to voluntarily give up their 5 percent pay raise that was contractually agreed to for next year, saving our school system $89 million — so programs and teachers would not have to be terminated.”

Here, in Hoboken, Gary Enrico, President of the Hoboken Education Association, screams at Board of Education meetings, threatening Trustees who do not support retroactive raises and orchestrates massive demonstrations of municipal employees at Board Meetings and leads walkouts at Board of Education meetings when the meetings do not go as he likes. He also has threatened retaliation at the polls for any trustee who dares to vote against the union’s demands. Not satisfied with delivering an extraordinary contract for himself and his members, now that it is election time, Mr. Enrico is following through on his threats for revenge.

On April 7, 2009, Mr. Enrico wrote every single teacher in the Hoboken school district in response to one slate of Board of Education candidates’ suggestion that Hoboken teachers should pay a health care deductible and part of their insurance premiums to reduce costs. Mr. Enrico responded that “This will never happen as long as I am president.” His April 7, 2009 letter threatens teachers with the consequences of losing their benefits and their jobs if they do not mobilize on behalf of the other team of candidates for the Board of Education and orders his members to fight for the school budget. He commanded all teachers to attend a General Membership meeting on Monday April 20th @3:00 pm in the Hoboken High School Cafeteria where “I will lay out our plans for Election Day. No excuses.”

It is clear that our fine and hard-working teachers are not being well-served by their union leadership. Mr. Enrico just doesn’t get it, and the Board of Education’s current leadership does not have the will to stand up to the union. We need to send a clear message at the polls that it’s time for our teachers to find a new leader, one who does not divide our teachers from our community and who is sensitive to the real pain that we taxpayers of Hoboken are feeling.

On April 21, please join me and vote NO on the school budget. A NO vote on the budget is a vote for fiscal sanity to return to our public schools.

Phil Cohen

If you own property in Hoboken, you are paying for the schools. If you are selling, this affects your property value. If you are thinking of buying, this matters! Even if you rent, your landlord’s property tax increases can legally be passed on to you, the tenant! PLEASE TAKE THE TIME TO VOTE TODAY!

Posted by Lori Turoff | Currently 17 Comments »

2008 Mar 17th

Hoboken Condo Buyers’ 7 Biggest Mistakes

1. Location Location Location

Location has been, and always will be, one of the most important factors in any real estate deal. From the time Hoboken was settled, the place to be was on the waterfront. That hasn’t changed. If you’re buying a condo in a marginal part of Hoboken, no matter how nice the particular unit, you’re still getting marginal property. In an uncertain economic environment, buying a Hoboken condo in the most desirable part of town, Hudson Street, Bloomfield Street, Garden Street, Hudson Tea or the Shipyard, is your best hedge against a potential downturn. So with all the inventory currently on the market why are you even considering Jackson or Harrison?
The Vanguard at The Shipyard Complex

2. A Few Thousand Dollars Over 30 Years is Not Worth Much

Buyers get all hung up over a few thousand dollars. They will be negotiating with a seller on a half-million dollar condo and walk away from the place of their dreams because they are a few thousand dollars apart. Even for $3,000, we’re talking about less than 1% of the purchase price. Moreover, when you add that $3,000 onto a 30 year mortgage and amortize it, the difference in the monthly payment is negligible.

3. Know What You Can Afford

Hoboken Mortgage Brokers
Many buyers start the house hunt without ever speaking with a financial advisor, bank or mortgage lender. They have no real idea of their budget, how much they will need to put down in cash, or how large a mortgage they can manage. They either look at condos that don’t meet their needs, not realizing that they could afford to spend more or they look at condos beyond their means and then are dissatisfied when they take a step down to those within their budget. Know your numbers before you start looking!

4. Be Committed

If you are really serious about buying a condo in Hoboken you need to do some homework. In addition to knowing your budget (#3), you should have a game plan and follow it. When you go looking at condos, bring a camera and a notebook. Take pictures and take notes. After a few dozen, they will all start to blur together in your head. Look in one area at a time. Start with the nicest part of town you can possibly afford (#1) and exhaust it before moving on to lesser areas. When you see a condo you like, go back to see it again during different times of day – in the morning to check out the light, during rush hour to assess traffic, after school to see where the kids hang out. Make a written list of your priorities and rank them. Compare your list with your spouse’s. Decide what’s negotiable and what’s not in advance. Don’t waste your time looking at units that don’t match your agreed-upon, prioritized needs. If you have a realtor who is taking you to see units that don’t have what you’ve made clear you want in a condo, find another realtor!

5. Beauty Isn’t Everything

Hoboken Condo Detail

As much as everyone wants a gorgeous condo, some units just don’t show well. You have to use a little imagination. You’re not buying the sellers’ furniture. Paint is cheap. I see buyers overlook great properties because they can’t visualize the potential. Often, the seller has failed to do the work needed to market his or her property. A unit that shows poorly may actually benefit a buyer. If the condo has been sitting on the market for a while, the seller may be getting desperate. He may be more willing to accept a low offer.

6. Beauty Isn’t Everything II

When you find a condo you like and are ready to make an offer, insist that the seller provide you with the financials for the condo association. So many buyers are fooled by the pretty appearance of a condo only to be surprised down the road when they learn the association is practically bankrupt and they are looking at a hefty increase in their maintenance. Not all Hoboken condo associations are well run or well funded. Many, especially in smaller buildings, have no reserve funds. So get the whole picture before you move forward.

7. Use a Hoboken Lawyer and Local Bank

Hoboken is a peculiar little city with it’s own way of doing things. Local real estate lawyers are familiar with the peculiarities of doing a real estate deal here. They also all know each other and have likely worked together before. Using your cousin from out of town is not going to save you anything in the long run. The same problem arises with large, national banks. They are used to lending according to certain standards and few Hoboken condo buildings meet those requirements. Yet the local lenders write mortgages for Hoboken condos all the time. Haven Savings or Hudson City Savings Bank are way less likely to have a problem with the condo questionnaire that shows that the building only has 3 units than a Citibank or Chase.

See also: Five Familiar Problems When Buying Hoboken Real Estate

Posted by Lori Turoff | Currently 7 Comments »

2008 Mar 10th

The 3 Most Important Reasons to Pay Condo Maintenance Fees

Where Does My Maintenance Fee Money Go?

This is a common question I’m asked when working with buyers searching for a new Hoboken condo, especially when they are first time home buyers. Almost every condo association has the right to and requires the unit owners to pay a monthy fee, the maintenance fee. These fees typically range from $100 to $250 for smaller units and can be as high as $300 to $600 or more for units that are larger, or in more luxurious condo buildings like the Shipyard or Maxwell Place. So what is the fee, what determines how large it should be and where does the money go? Here are the three main uses of these very necessary funds:

1. Maintenance of the common areas of the building & grounds

2. To build up a reserve fund for future capital account item repairs

3. To the management company that manages the condo.

Condo Lobbies Cannot Be Left in the DarkHoboken Condo Hallway

You pay to heat and light your own unit but someone has to pay the utility bills for the common areas. The lobby and hallways of any condo building need lights and heat. Your condo maintenance fee pays the gas and electric bill. Some condo buildings in Hoboken even have a heated garage. Other regular maintenace items may include cleaning the hallways, taking out the trash and recycling, servicing the elevators, shoveling snow, landscaping, pool care, the doorman’s salary, and more. The fancier the building, like the Shipyard, the more it costs for things like pools, health clubs and elevators, security systems and doormen.

Every condo also needs insurance. Most Hoboken condos also need flood insurance. This is in addition to each unit owners homeowners insurance. Unfortunatly, Hoboken has had its share of floods and fires. What if your condo building were to be destroyed? Or the UPS guy trips and falls on the front steps of the building and sues the condo association? Insurance is important.

Roofs Cannot Leak and Bricks Cannot Fall

Beyond the day-to-day maintenance of the building (and grounds) there are certain big-ticket items in every building, especially in the Hoboken condos in 100+ year old buildings, that need to be repaired and replaced over time. Things like leaking roofs and crumbling brick facades. There are two ways to pay for this. The right way is to plan ahead and make a budget. The wrong way is by special assessment – the subject of another post.

Every capital item (roofs, furnaces, elevators) has a useful life. If you know your roof is going to last 10 years and you know about what it will cost to replace it you can figure out how much to put aside today so that the association will have money to install a new roof. This budgeting process should be done for each capital item. Add it all up and now you know how much has to go into the condo association reserve fund each year. There are rules about what can be done with the reserve money. It’s not supposed to be used for the day-to-day stuff. It’s for capital items only.

Who Has Time to Deal With This Condo Association Stuff?

Most of us are pretty busy and don’t want to deal with cleaning hallways, shoveling snow, figuring out useful lives and worse. Someone has to collect the maintenance fee from each unit owner, do the banking and pay the bills. For a fee, a condo association can hire a management company to handle these tasks. Of course the management company has to be paid from the condo maintenance fees, too. Some smaller condo buildings do choose to ‘self-manage’ but it can be a time consuming and thankless job. There are management companies that will, for a very reasonable fee, manage a smaller condo. When it comes to sell your condo in Hoboken, having a unit in a professionally managed condo building may be very attractive to potential buyers.

Posted by Lori Turoff | Currently 2 Comments »

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