Understanding Your NJ Mortgage Contract

NJ real estate attorney

Besides the possible decision of choosing a college, getting married, and the myriad of decisions that come along with having children, purchasing a home is perhaps one of the most momentous decisions you’ll make in life. It will almost certainly be your most expensive purchase. Our own human desire for control tempts us to turn to our own intuition when working through challenges – thinking we can “do it all.” Though it’s not mandatory, seeking out a real estate attorney will smooth out the home buying process from start to finish and ensure that this important transaction is a positive one.

Working with Veitengruber Law on your New Jersey real estate transactions guarantees that every aspect of your real estate experience will flow smoothly. Real estate transactions are very complex, and many legal minutiae are involved in reviewing contracts and throughout the closing process. New Jersey real estate sales and purchases are very multifaceted and “high stakes” transactions. With any real estate transaction, a huge amount of paperwork is involved. A real estate attorney can decipher and explain the real estate “legalese” in laymen’s terms as well as make sure the transaction is fair and equitable.

Not utilizing a real estate attorney in conducting these important transactions could make room for potential mistakes resulting in an unsuccessful transaction such as:

  • Not thoroughly reviewing and properly drafting the real estate contract
  • Real estate disclosure documents being misunderstood and/or misinterpreted
  • Due diligence not being carried out when searching the title

Whether your NJ real estate purchase or sale is straightforward or more complex, it is always smart to have an experienced NJ lawyer look over the contract before closing. It is highly advisable to work closely with a real estate attorney when you’re involved in more intricate real estate transactions such as foreclosure sales, short sales and deed in lieu of foreclosure matters.

Promises made by the seller to the buyer, called “covenants” (i.e. repairing a roof) are only enforceable as long as the contract is in effect. Once the transaction is complete, these promises are no longer enforceable. The seller then has no obligation to the buyer to follow through.

Making sure you have a reasonable amount of time to review the documents prior to closing is very important. You don’t want to see these documents for the first time when you’re sitting down prior to the start of the closing meeting.

In some cases, you must bring certified funds, payable to yourself for payment at closing. An experienced real estate attorney can provide you in advance the amount you will need to have at closing. Your real estate attorney can also guide you in purchasing title insurance that protects you and your heirs for as long as you own the property.

When closing the title of a real estate transaction, the process can sometimes be overwhelming. Without an ex

perienced real estate attorney involved, an important step or steps could be missed in executing the deed successfully. Having a real estate attorney present when completing the closing paperwork ensures it is done correctly and the deed is accurate when signed over to the new owner.

Contact Veitengruber Law today for an experienced, reliable and trustworthy New Jersey real estate attorney and legal team. Get closer to living in your dream home with a lot less stress along the way.

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Is a NJ Real Estate Survey Really Necessary?

NJ real estate

Typically, a survey of a property listed for sale in the state of New Jersey is facilitated by a licensed surveyor who follows regulations enforced by NJ laws. These surveys are generally performed prior to a new owner buying the property. Although a buyer may not feel that a survey is necessary, if they are utilizing a mortgage loan to finance, many lenders in NJ will require a survey prior to closing. If your lender does not require a survey be performed, you can skip it, but there are a lot of good reasons to consider going through with a survey anyway.

What does a survey of the property typically include?

A survey of a property includes VERY important information for you to know before jumping into purchasing. For instance, it will state exactly where your property line starts and ends as well as any renovations or work that has been done to the property. It will also disclaim building lines and setbacks, which you’ll need if you decide to make changes to your home or property. With an official survey completed, you will know the zoning laws concerning adjacent buildings or sidewalks.  Other things like utility easements (such as where lines, poles, pipes etc. lie or run) will also be included so that you know if everything is up to code. A survey also contains details of any neighbor-shared part of the property such as a driveway or a neighbor’s ability to drive on your property to get to their own.

Why should I obtain a survey of my potential future home?

In addition to the reasons mentioned above, there are even more ways a survey can help you in the future – after purchasing. Some of these details include information on existing fences that may be encroaching onto your property. Suppose you wanted to start something as simple as a garden or build a patio but the property backs up to a stream/creek/pond or other body of water? It is imperative to know about flood history or underground waters that are not visible to the naked eye. Furthermore if the property is next to a cemetery, the survey will reveal any family plots or cemeteries existing on the land.

There may also be zoning restrictions that are revealed during a survey. Zoning restrictions can affect how you may use the property. This would be extremely important, especially if you were thinking of renovations that include something like an underground pool. Even if there were NOT any zoning restrictions found, you would still need and want to know things like where pipelines, water lines, catch basins, vaults, and wires may run. Additionally, any existing trees on the property may affect utility lines. If so, local utility company/ies may have established privilege to use part of the property for upkeep of the lines. They may even have a say on how tall trees can grow on your lot.

Lastly, before a contract on the home can be drawn up, the seller has to show a good standing title for the home. A survey can be very helpful in showing any zoning violations, easements, or other defects in the title. These are just several of many important disclosures you will want to know prior to signing your John Hancock on the contract paperwork.

 

How can I get more information about NJ real estate surveys?

At Veitengruber Law, we can help you navigate the ins and outs of buying a potential property. We can help you fully understand just what you may be getting into before making a potentially huge mistake in an investment. Just contact us for a FREE one-hour consultation, and we can begin helping you make the best decision about obtaining a survey, and so much more.

 

 

 

When “Time is of the Essence” in a NJ Real Estate Contract

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Whether you are buying or selling a property, knowing the details of NJ real estate laws is important to help you make the right legal decisions. For instance, many people believe the closing date written in the contract for sale is the actual closing date on the purchase or sale of a property. However, in New Jersey the closing date is not essential to the terms of the contract and is therefore not binding. This means the date of closing on the contract is not a hard date, but is instead an estimate of when the closing will take place. Either the buyer or the seller in the contract can request—and must be legally afforded—a reasonable postponement of the closing date. This can be an unwelcome surprise for a party that is ready to close. At Veitengruber Law, our goal is to eliminate confusion by ensuring legal clarity in every real estate contract we oversee.

In New Jersey, the only way to ensure a binding closing date is if both parties agree to “time is of the essence” terms. “Time is of the essence” is a legal phrase used to remind everyone involved in a real estate transaction that the clock is ticking. Once “time is of the essence” is introduced into a NJ real estate contract, the closing date becomes essential to the terms of the contract and is therefore legally binding.

Failure to close on the specified date when time is of the essence constitutes a material breach of contract, opening the non-complying party to liability. Many attorneys will not agree to make a closing date essential in a contract because it opens up their clients to increased liability, even if the client is unable to close because of circumstances outside of their control.


Veitengruber Law handles essential closing dates with ease for clients who are buying or selling a NJ property.


Veitengruber Law provides our clients with a clear understanding of how “time is of the essence” works in a real estate contract. The party who declares“time is of the essence” has to provide clear written notice to the non-declaring party. The notice must comply with the requirements set forth in the contract of sale and be sent to all parties indicated in the contract, typically by certified mail. If the party receiving the notice believes the notice is improper, they must object to the notice in a timely manner. In order to reject the notice, they must list the reasons for objection and similarly notify all concerned parties of the contract via certified and regular mail. Failure to provide a timely notice of objection may waive the non-declaring party’s ability to do so at a later date.

The declaring party must also give the non-declaring party a sufficient or “reasonable” amount of time in which to close the contract. “Reasonable” in this specific capacity, is determined by the courts on a case by case basis. The courts will decide what is reasonable by:

  • Considering the nature of the contract
  • Examining past conduct of both parties
  • Determining whether or not good faith was practiced during the negotiations, and finally,
  • Concluding whether potential hardships or prejudices exist that could affect either party’s ability to close on time

Two weeks is a customary “time is of the essence” extension for residential NJ real estate transactions and more time may be provided for commercial real estate contracts.


If one party is ready to close and the other party will not agree to a closing date, it may be wise to implement “time is of the essence” language in your NJ contract of sale. Once the original date of closing in the contract passes, the party that is ready to close can set a new closing date declaring “time is of the essence.” This new date will contractually obligate the other party to close on that date or be in breach of contract. If the non-declaring party still does not close by the date set forth under “time is of the essence,” the declaring party can seek legal remedies against the party in breach. With “time is of the essence,” we can save our clients valuable time, money and stress throughout their real estate transactions.


At Veitengruber Law, we strive to eliminate any confusion by ensuring legal clarity in all of the real estate contracts we handle.


Declaring “time is of the essence” is a valuable tool for real estate contract negotiations in New Jersey. It ensures a hard close date and legal recourse for parties ready to close on a contract. It is important to be smart about introducing “time is of the essence” to a real estate contract. Veitengruber Law has years of experience handling commercial and residential real estate transactions. Our attorneys can advise on even the most complex real estate cases with efficiency and professional expertise. Call us today to get knowledgeable guidance on any aspect(s) of your NJ real estate negotiations.

Why Owning NJ Real Estate is the Best Long-Term Investment

NJ real estate

For the majority of Americans, the most colossal expense that they face each year is housing. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, housing costs account for about 30 percent of total yearly expenditures. Depending on your location, renting or owning costs can differ tremendously. One thing you should know while deciding whether to rent or buy: purchasing a home, if financially possible, is a significantly smarter decision than renting.

Here’s a rundown on America’s current situation: across all income levels, more and more Americans are renting. Obtaining a job, purchasing a car, buying a home, getting married and having kids are a few of the features that make up the notorious “American Dream.” Notice that renting isn’t necessarily included in that list, though it could present itself as a necessary stepping stone. We know that to purchase a home, we have to be financially stable, which is not always an easy task. Buying a home, which aids in building equity, sets you in the fast lane to build wealth, the cynosure of the American Dream. Renting, on the other hand, does zilch in establishing a financial foundation.

In order to purchase any item that requires a loan or a large sum of money, it’s necessary to have built up noteworthy credit. Since a home is likely the most expensive purchase you’ll make in a lifetime, a good credit score is critical to be able to do that. Not only is a worthy credit score important, but having a plan as to how to afford buying said home deserves your attention.

Why is buying better than renting?

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs spells it out at the most fundamental level: shelter is a basic necessity. Purchasing a home as a place to live provides stability and safety for you and your loved ones. That’s not to say that renting will not satisfy this need, but when renting you are at the mercy of another individual. Buying a home means that you don’t have to worry about a landlord changing terms or deciding to sell the property. With each mortgage payment towards your new home, you’re one step closer to full ownership. It’s essentially an enforced savings plan.

While renting typically comes with a fluctuating monthly payment, buying a home is characterized by a steady mortgage payment. In terms of budgeting, steady cash flow, and a normal financial plan, you can strategically plan for a monthly payment as well as any unexpected surprises. Leaky roofs or broken appliances will undoubtedly pop up at some point, but because of your careful planning, the financial aspect of repairs shouldn’t be an issue. If a landlord is in charge of repairs, it runs on their timeline, so you may be waiting for quite a while until your broken washer receives some TLC. Owning a home places you in charge of maintenance; you’re on your own time schedule and you choose the personnel, appliances and/or materials that you prefer.

If you are able to buy and still decide to rent, your housing payments are doing you no good, except for securing you a place to live from month to month. In other words, you are not investing in a home or building equity. Equity is built by making on-time mortgage payments each month, hopefully lowering your cost of living during retirement. With more equity, you have access to more credit. In the case of an emergency, you have the option of refinancing by borrowing against it.


For the fifth year in a row, Gallup stated that Americans chose real estate as the most intelligent long-term investment.


Investors have predicted that the housing market will only grow stronger in the years to come. Like everything else, home values are on the rise, which means there’s no better time than the present to purchase your first (or next) home. If you’re renting, it’s also an ideal time to steer towards the path of owning a home. According to the National Association of Realtors, 51% of renters would meet the requirements for a mortgage if they applied now. Before you take that first step towards buying a home, contact us to meet with an experienced NJ real estate legal team that will help you make the best home ownership decisions.

How “Keeping up with the Joneses” can Send You into Bankruptcy

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What exactly is “Keeping up with the Joneses”?

 

“Keeping up with the Joneses” is a phrase that originates from a 1913 New York Globe comic strip by Arthur (Pop) Momand. The use of this coined phrase now refers to the actions of striving to keeping up with one’s neighbors in reference to social status and spending. “Keeping up with the Joneses” sometimes begins to happen for an individual when they bear witness to a neighbor or loved one coming into a large financial windfall – perhaps by winning the lottery. The neighbor may start to spend their newfound money on luxuries like cars, vacations, clothing, etc. This inspires said person to begin spending money outside their means to compensate for jealousy of the newly rich neighbor. Unfortunately, these actions can lead to debt, financial crisis, and bankruptcy.

 

Take the story of NJ lottery winner Pedro Quezada, formerly from the Dominican Republic. Quezada was from Passaic, New Jersey, and winner of $338 million. After hitting the jackpot, Quezada (owner of a local bodega) proclaimed he was thrilled because he could properly take care of his family.  Spending immediately began, but maybe not in the exact way his neighbors anticipated.  He was constantly approached by frequent customers of his bodega and friends of his looking for handouts, some traveling from as far as Colombia. There were even several false reports on news outlets claiming he declared to pay the rent for his neighbors, and eventually this led to a falling out with them. In fact, Quezada was even sued by his live in girlfriend of ten years for half of his winnings a year after winning the lottery. Eventually Quezada’s attorney won the case because the couple had never been married therefore his ex-girlfriend was not entitled to any of the winnings.

 

Unrealistic expectations

 

Suppose you have a neighbor (or family member) who just won the lottery. They decide to throw a lavish party to celebrate and show off their windfall. Maybe they add in that in-ground pool they have always wanted, or purchase that car or boat they had been dreaming of, and while they’re at it they make upgrades to their landscaping and home. These types of actions can cause a trigger effect with neighboring individuals who begin to look for ways to get rich quick or take out a loan much larger than they are capable of repaying just to be able to unrealistically and irrationally upgrade their lifestyle to keep up with their newly rich friend or loved one. This is a common theme that leads more often than not to bankruptcy and financial crisis.

 

Managing your money well

 

Watching someone win the lottery may seem like a super exciting event, and you may feel inspired to make rash decisions which can then result in irresponsible spending. Our advice? Forget about “Keeping up with the Joneses.”

As an NJ bankruptcy attorney firm, we at Veitengruber Law focus on aiding individuals with managing their debt and finances more realistically to protect their assets in order to avoid bankruptcy. If you feel as though you are lost in your expenses and debts because you’ve tried to live beyond your means, please reach out to us PRONTO. We can help, and we WANT to help.

After Foreclosure: What is the Legal NJ Eviction Process?

nj eviction

What is a Sheriff’s Sale in NJ?

At Veitengruber Law, we understand the intricacies surrounding losing a property or navigating the options one may have when their property is in jeopardy. Part of understanding New Jersey law and the legal NJ eviction process may also involve understanding what a Sherriff’s Sale is, and we can help.

 

A Sheriff’s Sale in NJ is a sale handled by a Sheriff that is ordered by a court when the owner has unsuccessfully paid the judgment. According to New Jersey law, a Sheriff’s Sale is navigated within the local rules of each County Sheriff’s Department, and takes place at each said office. Anyone interested in purchasing a Sheriff’s Sale property can easily find the list of real estate properties available online at the county court website or at the actual Sheriff’s Department during normal business hours.

 

A Sheriff’s Sale (when referring to real estate) generally involves a property that is in danger of/or in foreclosure. The property is sold “as is” and any money generated from the Sheriff’s Sale is applied toward the outstanding lien owed on the judgment. If someone were to become the highest bidder at the sale, they would be required to place a deposit on the property, while understanding the risk of losing the property and part of the deposit in accordance with New Jersey law. The risk of the buyer losing the property has to do with the New Jersey law that states the debtor has a 10 day redemption period in which they may try to pay the lien and recover their property or object to the sale formally through court. If the 10 day redemption period expires and the new buyer pays the the sale price in full, the transaction is deemed complete and the title will then be given to the buyer.


What Happens Next?

The process following a Sherriff’s Sale can be confusing and frustrating, but we can expertly help you navigate this next phase. Once the new owner is in possession of the deed to the home, they cannot simply “kick you out” – this is illegal and would be considered an Unlawful Detainer. New Jersey law has specific rules about the eviction process and the steps that must occur for official eviction to take place.

 

The first step the new buyer must take is to file for a Writ of Possession which allows the County Sherriff to evict any occupants of the home. The County Sherriff then has to deliver notice to the occupants, at which point you have several choices. You could wait out the 30-90 day time-frame and attempt to save money to be prepared to move out of the property. Another option for you may be to ask for “cash for keys” where the new buyer may be inclined to cover moving out expenses for you to leave the home sooner. Veitengruber Law could also help you navigate other options such as a hearing to stay the eviction in front of a judge where you would appear before the judge with valid concrete reasons to postpone the eviction. The final resort could be filing a bankruptcy petition, in which case an automatic stay would occur and the eviction process would be halted indefinitely.

 

How Do I Determine What is the Best Option?

 

Veitengruber Law can help you understand all of your options, and we strongly urge you to take advantage of our expertise! Call today for your FREE one-hour comprehensive consultation to start understanding what the right answer is for YOU.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Short Payoff vs. NJ Short Sale: Which is Right for You?

nj short sale

Understanding Short Payoff

 At Veitengruber Law we strive to help our clients in individualistic ways. When referring to New Jersey law and short payoff there are requirements that we can help you more easily navigate with the lender. In a situation where a short payoff might be a better financial solution for you than a NJ short sale, here is some preliminary information that will be helpful.

 

Short Payoff is a newer, alternative option for the borrower to consider when facing a foreclosure. This involves the option for the borrower to keep the property and pay back the lender at a reduced amount, especially if the homeowner owes more than what the property is currently worth. This could be the ideal answer if the borrower is NOT having trouble with mortgage payments.

 

Not all lenders will be willing to work with this option however, and as mentioned before, Veitengruber Law can help you in navigating key requirements.

 

Short Sale Basics

 

A short payoff should not be confused with a short sale. A short sale would inevitably involve you losing your home but you would also be able to avoid foreclosure. The process of a short sale and New Jersey law involves selling the property to a third party at a price that is less than the amount the homeowner owes on their mortgage. This option also involves the lender agreeing to the sale price as satisfying the homeowner’s debt. For example: the home is valued at $250,000 and the homeowner finds a buyer for $200,000; the lender must then agree to the price of $200,000 and release the mortgage despite being “short” of what was originally owed, thus resulting in a short sale. The homeowner must also be able to show that the market value of the home was decreased.

 

This is generally the right solution if a homeowner is having trouble making the monthly mortgage payments on time or at all, because continuing along this path usually leads to default, which then leads to foreclosure.

 

Short Payoff Key Requirements

 

There are clear criteria you must meet in order for a lender to consider a short payoff as a means to resolving your debt. You would be required to pay off the debt in a single payment because there are no payment plans. This would also entail you being able to acquire the funds with respect to your damaged credit, which often involves another person becoming involved who is not a borrower on the loan. On the flipside, if you have good credit, a short payoff can be beneficial if you are simply looking for an option allowing you to move away from the property.  This may require establishing a substantial market value decrease while also being able to show a proper income and excellent credit. Short payoff also requires the completion of an application similar to a short sale or modification instead of facing foreclosure.

 

 

How Do I Decide?

 

Now the question is ultimately:  Short Payoff or. Short Sale?  How do you decide which is the best option for you?  A short payoff would likely leave you with little negative affect to your credit while getting rid of the property.  A short sale would be ideal if you are behind or will begin to be behind on mortgage payments, in order to avoid foreclosure.

 

Veitengruber Law can help you navigate with lenders and New Jersey law regarding both options. We pride ourselves on offering a thorough FREE holistic debt relief evaluation to get you started on the right answer for your situation.

 

 

 

Debt Limits in a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy

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For most people, the word bankruptcy doesn’t incite a positive response, especially if it’s a personal obstacle that you’ve faced. Despite its often negative reputation, bankruptcy does provide a second chance to start fresh. It’s not the easiest monetary maze to navigate, but in a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, a significant emphasis is placed on devising a repayment plan, which offers direction to a financially divergent individual.

When a debtor files a petition through the bankruptcy court, the bankruptcy case is initiated. Though there are various types/chapters of bankruptcy, Chapter 13 can only be filed by individuals. In order for you to qualify for Chapter 13 bankruptcy, your total debt cannot exceed a specific limit according to the bankruptcy law. At first glance, if your debt exceeds the set amount, don’t panic. It’s still possible to qualify for Chapter 13, and we’ll explain what that looks like.

Some parts of debts can be contingent, disputed, or not yet liquidated and therefore will not be combined with the rest of your debt. Unliquidated debt occurs when the amount that you may be required to pay has not yet been determined or cannot easily be determined. This can be a common occurrence in personal injury or auto accident claims. A debt that you are not mandated to pay unless a specific event takes place is known as contingency debt. If the event never occurs, you will not be obligated to pay the debt.

Every 3 years, the Chapter 13 debt limits are altered. Set on April 1, 2016, if your secured debts, such as mortgages and liens, amount to more than $1,184,200 or unsecured debt totals more than $394,725, you may not be eligible for Chapter 13. These amounts are not negotiable, but there are steps you can take in order to get your debt total below the limits.

Review and Separate Types of Debt

1.      Distinguish which debts are not counted into the debt limit.

You are not obligated to pay contingency debts unless the contingency event occurs. Be careful; cosigned debts are not contingent.
Example: You cosign on your sister’s car loan with the assumption that she will repay the debt. Legally, you are just as responsible for the debt, even if you and your sister are in agreement that she will be responsible for repayment.

Unliquidated debts are easy to understand, but know that breach of contract claims are not normally deemed unliquidated.

2.      Separate debt into unsecured and secured categories.

What is the difference between unsecured and secured debt? Connected to a property, mortgages and car loans are standard examples of secured debt. Since the borrower has an incorporated motivation to make payments, the property linked to the debt is said to “secure” the loan. If the individual ceases to make payments, the lender can take hold of the property that is associated with the loan.

Unsecured debt includes credit card debt and student loans. In other words, it’s debt that is unattached to property. The creditor can take action against the debtor, but they are not able to seize property to make up for ignored payments.

If you have secured property in bankruptcy, it’s possible to strip down a lien or part of a lien. Any portion that is removed turns into unsecured debt. The conversion of some secured debt to unsecured debt can assist you in remaining beneath the debt limit.

Other Filing Requirements

In order to file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy, it’s not only necessary that you meet the debt limits; there are a few additional requirements. It’s suggested that you have a steady, reliable income. This is crucial because a repayment plan occurs over the course of 3 to 5 years and you need to be sure that you will have a paying job throughout the life of your plan.

A credit counseling session is also mandated before an individual can file for Chapter 13. You’ll be required to submit a certificate that states that the counseling was completed before your bankruptcy case can be opened.

If you find that you do not meet the debt limits for Chapter 13 bankruptcy even after taking our suggested steps, there are other options that you can pursue. Chapter 11 bankruptcy offers reorganization and many of the benefits of Chapter 13 bankruptcy, but it’s typically less stream-lined. Chapter 7 would also be an option, but it only provides liquidation.

If you’re considering filing for Chapter 13 bankruptcy and have questions about the process or even more specifically, debt limits, be sure to contact our office. We offer all new clients a free, holistic debt evaluation, which will help you determine what action(s) will help your financial situation the most.