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Thanks to heavy contributions by employers to the tax base, property taxes are low in Mahwah, New Jersey and quality of life is high, say local Realtors. In addition, Fed interest rate cuts are making property purchases attractive with low interest mortgages.

"Mahwah covers a large area bordering the New York state line," says Realtor Becky Boomsma ( Luxury Real Estate Bathrooms Homes, Condos, Mansions and Estates Photo Gallery ), "The terrain is made up of gently rolling hills, and the Ramapo River runs through it. There will soon be a commuter train station near the Mahwah/Ramsey border near Route 17. Mahwah doesn't have a village, per se, but has many areas with strip shopping and major commerce lining Route 17 and Franklin Turnpike. The schools rank competitively against other area school districts and the property taxes are low, comparatively, due to the heavy business contributions.The housing consists mainly of detached homes, with many condo and townhouse developments. The housing prices generally range from the upper 200ks to just under three million dollars. The location is very desirable with immediate access to major thoroughfares."

Says Boomsma, "The economists have issued favorable forecasts for a continued surge in the real estate market, although activity should be slightly lower than 2002. The historic low interest rates continue to be instrumental in driving this activity. It's been 40 years since our country has had the pleasure of securing mortgages at such bargain rates, and what a blessing this has been for our struggling economy! In fact, the real estate market has been so healthy that folks have withdrawn funds from the stock market and reinvested it in real property where the gains have been remarkably strong. Average percentage increases country-wide in real estate over last year ranged from 5 percent - 22 percent. The real estate boom was unprecedented. However, the economists have not been able to agree on whether we are still in a recession or on the way out. We also need to carefully consider what impact an impending war would have on employment and our economy. As long as interest rates remain low it's an advantageous time to buy or refinance. Currently, interest levels are predicted to remain low well into mid-year. This will maintain strong home sales figures and reinforce consumer confidence in supporting an economic upswing.

"Locally, most buyers are on a serious quest to secure their dream home, although February typically sees less activity than the spring/summer market," advises Boomsma. "There are still a few reports of bidding wars and contracts submitted with no contingencies to secure a "premium property". It is imperative that buyers have mortgage preapproval in hand when the submit a contract of sale. The seller may not wait for this if presented with another subsequent strong offer. The seller's market in general has softened slightly to moderately, particularly in the high-end price range, and more inventory continues to become available."

Says Realtor Dianne Carroll , "Mahwah is blessed with magnificent mountains, gently rolling hills and sloping valleys. Mahwah is Bergen County's largest township. Broad, tree-lined trees, low taxes, consistently attractive homes are hallmarks of Mahwah. The town offers numerous town home and condominium communities, more than in any other town in the area."

She says, "The real estate market on fire.The good news is that even though it may be another bum year for the economy and the stock market, it looks like the good times will continue to roll in real estate. The housing market is in stark contrast with the stock market. Year 2002 could be the first year since 1988 in which stock-fund withdrawals exceeded purchases. In the last two years wealth losses have exceeded $7 trillion dollars in the equity market.

"Do people feel that their money is safer in real estate? I think so. The evidence is in this year's remarkable sales."

Advises Carroll, "Now, more than ever, homeowners are depending upon their home equity for their future, for their retirement. We are spoiled here in the Northeast. There are few places that you could buy a home and live off its appreciation when you sell it for the rest of your life. Americans entrust their futures in the housing market today just as some banked on the equity market during the tech stock boom.

"Prices in Bergen County are eye-popping. The average price of a home in Bergen County's 70 towns rose nearly 14 percent, and Northwest Bergen Home Prices were up 10.79 percent. Average Sold Price $615,646 In 2002-- four times higher than U.S. Average. The average sales price of a home sold in Northwest Bergen in 2002 was $615,646. Compare that to the national median sales price for single-family homes as of May 25, 2002 of $154,600. (Source: National Association of Realtors)"

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