Hazlet Isn’t The Town It Was 40 Years Ago
When we first moved into our modest home in Hazlet, the town was new, the homes were reasonably priced and it looked like the kind of town we wanted to bring up our family. Our block was full of young families like ours and was made up of many families that purchased homes for the first time. We all knew each other, the kids went to the same schools and belonged to the same little league or soccer teams and it was not uncommon to have a neighbor lend a hand when one needed it.
Today many people don’t understand the concept of reaching out to their neighbors, when they need help, I suppose it is the way society is today.
Maybe one of the reasons is we are in the digital age and only have digital friends on a social media site. We no longer know who are neighbors are, unless we happen to find them online. The street we live on has changed hands a number of times over the past 40 years. Our children are grown now and have their own families. So the new home owners, who have no idea who their neighbors are, no longer realize they can ask for help or even offer their help to their neighbors. I try to help anyone I feel needs a little help, especially about gardening or lawn care.
People have become so involved in their own lives, they don’t have the time or desire to help others. We are no longer the same society we were years ago. Today many people will only do something for some one else if there is some benefit to them. It is the “what’s in it for me” attitude.
We Often Help Those In Need
In many towns and countries, there are organizations set up to help those that can’t help themselves. Of course we understand the need and the importance of helping ones neighbor, but we normally would see this in action during a crisis. Many of us have risen to the occasion and have given of ourselves in those dire situations.
During Hurricane Sandy, which devastated so many New Jersey residents, many of us stepped up to help those that were in need. Of course during these emergency agencies set up to enlist this help. Unfortunately Hazlet has no such agency or committee set up to help homeowners now who are in need. This is why I have decided to publish the Hazlet News website, it will be a tool to bring residents together and join others in a community effort to make some positive changes.
Hazlet is a town going through a transition, the same way many other cities and towns are. We have all been affected by the poor economy, and many have lost their jobs or businesses. Some are deeply in debt because they bought homes at the height of the market. Now they are paying mortgages on homes, that are worth less than what they owe the banks. Some can no longer afford it and have chosen to walk away from their homes completely .
Those Hazlet home owners that were under water financially, have lost their homes to foreclosures. On our street alone there are three homes that have or will be sold at auction. These are not easy times and no one really knows what the future will bring, but for those of us that intend on staying, we must continue to maintain our homes. We need to not only to protect the value for the day we decide to sell or homes, but to also enable us to live comfortably in our homes.
Hazlet Businesses Are Suffering Too
Local Hazlet merchants are also struggling with hopes that their business will improve. They aren’t quite sure what to do to improve their businesses or how to compete with the big box retailers and the internet. The small business owner including my wife, who owns a small travel agency, no longer have the answers, but continue to hold onto the business they have left. At a recent meeting I attended of a group of Hazlet business members, I could see their frustration. We need to shop local and see what our smaller business owners offer in terms of product, service and value. Shop Hazlet…
So with them in mind and my plan to help the town, I decided to move forward with the Hazlet News and see if I could help them as well. Watch for a complete listing of businesses in Hazlet and more information on this site.
Some Hazlet Homes Need To Be Revitalized
In Hazlet, especially in Raritan Valley, most of the homes have been updated. They really had to be since the original homes could never withstand the test of time. The siding was made of Asbestos, the interiors were very basic and lacked sufficient insulation and the windows were not energy-efficient. So most of us have made investments and have updated and improved the original home. Investing in ones home meant a commitment we made to our families, who would enjoy the improvements and to the confidence we had in Hazlet.
Little did many of us realize, that this would not be easy. The taxes would rise to a point that many older homeowners were forced to leave Hazlet and find adult communities that didn’t have to support a school system that took over 57% of the tax dollars. The average $340,000 home in Hazlet today, pays $9,000 per year in real estate tax. Not easy for those that live on social security or a small pension.
However, in the years to follow, we have seen a decline in the condition of some of the homes and of course the appearance of our town. Some people are no longer investing in major home improvements or expansions as they did years ago. The economy took a few hits and some of us lost a lot of our savings in the stock market or purchased homes during the real estate boom, only to find themselves now underwater and unable to pay the escalating interest rates.
So we are now seeing homes that are neglected for lack of the money to maintain them and the high taxes we pay in Hazlet. After all one does tend to give up when they feel helpless or about to lose their homes. On our street alone we see three homes that are now or were foreclosed.
The two latest homes that are in pre-foreclosure were purchased at around $420,000 dollars and now have a value of under $340,000. So it is easy to understand some of our problems. Multiply this by all the home in Hazlet and you will understand part of our problem.
As you view some of my photos below you can see that this corner home in particular is obscured from a view from the street with overgrown trees and shrubs. It will be on the auction block in September 2014. The photos of his weed filled lawn is typical of the many homes in Hazlet that are in trouble.
Now the purpose of this site is to help those that are not in foreclosure but rather the rest of us that want to maintain the value and the beauty in our homes. We want healthy lawns and beautiful landscaping and may want to help those that have neglected their property to do so, even if it means lending your knowledge or physical help. Some of our homeowners are seniors and simply can’t do what they could years ago, lets help them if we can.
Home’s In Trouble
My heart goes out to anyone that has suffered the way those that bought into their dream home during the real estate bubble, followed by the economic crisis. It was a double whammy for them and a true hardship for many. Even in my family, I have a son that was caught up in the mess in Florida, so I understand what they must be going through. When you are about to lose your home, you give up completely. You stop mowing the lawn, you neglect things that need repairs, you give up because, soon this home will no longer be yours.
By offering our help to these neighbors, we can at least help them enjoy the time they have left in these homes. It will also help maintain the appearance of our street and town. So if you have a neighbor in trouble or looks like they need some help or guidance, step up and offer your assistance. They may thank you and say no, but let them know you will and can help when they do. Be a caring neighbor…
Can You Do It Yourself?
Homeowners that want to improve their homes, often have to learn how to do it themselves, as I have. At an average cost of just about $80 for a repair or handyman to come to fix anything in your home, plus the actual cost of the repair makes it vital for homeowners to tackle some of the chores themselves.
I recently had a lift wire on my garage door break. I had previously replaced the garage door springs myself, but decided to call and get a quote on a professional to do the replacement. Cost was almost $90 just to come out, another $90 or more to replace both wires and $40 for the parts. Total was around $220 plus tax. I went to Home Depot, bought the wires needed for about $10 and it took me 15 minuter each side to replace the lift wires. Half hour of work, a cost of $10 and I saved $210. So you see being handy and having some skills can save thousands of dollars over the years. If you don’t have the skills, reach out to your neighbors for help.
So if you are a homeowner, there are tons of helpful videos on how to do any kind of repair on YouTube and a vast number of articles by doing a simple Google search. I have been able to purchase parts I needed to fix my oven, needed a new igniter, cost $15 and saved over $150 on a repair. So if you have some ability or know someone who does, Do It Yourself.