Financing a Home as a Single Parent: What are my Options?

home ownership

Being a single parent isn’t easy. There are many unique financial challenges single moms and dads face as a one income household. For many single parents, buying a home can truly seem like an impossibility. But don’t give up on your dream of homeownership just yet. There are plenty of loan and assistance programs single parents can take advantage of, you just need to know where to look. In New Jersey, there are many state and federal assistance programs for home buyers with specific circumstances. While none of these categories explicitly list “single parents,” they can be a great benefit for those looking to buy a home with one income.

HUD 

One of the best places for single parents to start their home search is the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Contacting your local New Jersey HUD office can give you access to resources that will help you find housing options as well as demystify the home-buying process. A HUD housing counselor can fill you in on local home buying programs you might not be aware of or help you obtain a loan. Some single parents may also qualify for subsidies and extra assistance that will help you afford decent housing (depending on your income and employment).

FHA

Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loans are popular for many first time home-buyers, including singles on their own as well as single parents. FHA loans are government insured and easier to qualify for than other similar loans. There are many benefits associated with FHA loans that make them appealing to single parents, including a 3.5% down payment, lower credit score minimums, and low monthly mortgage insurance rates. FHA loans are also flexible about how a first-time homebuyer is defined. If you are recently divorced or become a displaced homemaker, you can qualify as a first-time homebuyer as long as the only residence you’ve ever owned was with a former spouse.

VA

Veteran Affairs (VA) loans are also an excellent resource for single parents. If you are a single service member, a veteran, or the surviving spouse of a veteran, you could be eligible for VA loan programs. There are a number of benefits for qualified buyers, including waived down payments and mortgage insurance, low-interest rates, and on-going support throughout home ownership. If you are facing foreclosure, the VA can step in to help you keep your home or find a new residence. In the event of a work-related disability, there may be additional Veteran’s benefits you can take advantage of.

USDA

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) offers a few different programs for low- and moderate-income home buyers in rural areas. Even if you aren’t sure that you live in a “rural” area, the USDA’s programs are still worth looking into. Many of the regions where programs are offered are located just outside major cities. USDA loan programs offer low interest rates and zero down payment options. Qualified borrowers can get 100% financing and the mortgage insurance premium is one of the lowest offered in any program. USDA loans do have an income maximum, but most single parents do not meet this maximum.

Private Lenders

Some private lenders will offer loan programs for single income borrowers. These custom loan programs can cater terms to your specific needs to help ensure that loan applicants get pre-approved for a mortgage. These custom loan programs can include help with your credit score or assistance with your down payment, among other things. While not all lenders will offer these kinds of programs for single parents, it is worth looking into as you begin your home search.

 

As a single parent, you aren’t limited to these programs. Your county, city, or even township might offer their own programs to help the single parent home buyer. Don’t lose hope in your dreams of owning a home. If you would like help getting started or with the application process, Veitengruber Law is more than happy to help you get on the path to home ownership!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You’re Ready to Move in New Jersey – But is Your Dream Home Move-in Ready?

When you’re buying a house, unless you’re into flipping investments or you crave big DIY and home renovation projects, you probably just want to unpack all your boxes and start enjoying your new “home sweet home.” But before asking your real estate agent to show you “move-in ready” properties, you should be aware of what that phrase actually means.

It turns out that, like beauty, “move-in ready” is in the eye of the beholder. To you, it might mean everything not only works, but it also matches your style, right down to the door knobs and paint colors. To a lawyer using Black’s Law Dictionary, though, it simply means that the municipality has approved the property as a place approved for people to live – the plumbing and electricity are up to code, the windows and doors lock, and no pesky pests are creeping around within. And yet, to the seller, it could mean the kitchen was recently remodeled – but there’s only one tiny bathroom, and the living room still sports ‘70s orange shag carpeting in passably good condition.

So rather than get tangled in terminology, here are five things to keep in mind when you’re doing a walk-through on that “move-in ready” property.

  1. Start at the Bottom: Flooring
    You may have opinions on whether you prefer carpet or hardwood, but regardless of what is on the floor, make sure it’s a solid base for your new home. That means no peeling tiles, no ripped or odorous carpeting, and no ominous creaks. And here’s an insider tip – bring a marble to place on the floors along your tour. If it rolls a lot, the floors may be uneven, indicating potential issues with settling or even the actual foundation.
  2. Plumb the Depths: Kitchens and Bathrooms
    Though a stainless-steel refrigerator, granite countertops, and a double vanity may be high on your “must-have” wish list, what makes a house move-in ready is ovens and dishwashers that work and toilets that flush. Make sure the faucets don’t leak and the water pressure is good. Ask about the capacity and age of the water heater and any pumps to be sure they can handle your family’s needs. (Most water heaters should last eight to 12 years.) Poke around the cabinets to see – and smell – that there’s no water damage or mold hidden among the pipes, and that nothing is rusted. Taste the water – if you move in, you’re going to be drinking it for a long time!
  3. Don’t Be Shocked: Electric
    Check the wiring to be sure your hot property isn’t a fire hazard. Confirm with the seller’s agent that everything associated with the electrical current is indeed current and meets the local codes. There should be no archaic knob-and-tube wiring in the walls, the breaker box should be powerful enough to handle the load, and the outlets and switches should all work without any issues.
  4. Take Comfort: Heating and Cooling
    Pause during your house tour, and just breathe. Are you too warm? Too cold? Or, like Baby Bear, do you feel “just right?” Ensure that there’s proper insulation in the attic and around the heating ducts and water pipes. Find out how old the furnace and HVAC systems are, too; their average lifespan is about 15 years.
    Make sure the windows open and close easily, and whenever possible, look for double-paned windows for the double benefit of protection from both temperature and noise.
  1. Think Outside the House: Roofing and Siding
    Don’t go through the roof – figuratively or literally. Find out how old the roof is; a roof typically lasts about 20 to 30 years depending on what it’s made of and what climate it has faced. Do at least a visual check for leaks, loose or missing shingles, or areas where the structure might be sinking a bit. Similarly, examine the siding and window frames for discoloration or warping that could indicate not simply water damage, but also underlying mold and other costly concerns.

 

You should always engage the services of an experienced home inspector to thoroughly examine these and other elements of the property to be sure your dream home doesn’t turn into a nightmare. And whether your house hunt takes you to New Jersey’s friendly southwestern suburbs, its gorgeous northern mountains, the bustling outskirts of New York City, or those sunny beaches down the shore, Veitengruber Law can help with title searches, title insurance, and due diligence to help you turn that “move-in ready” house tour into a “we’re really moving!” experience.

 

How Much House Can You Afford in the NJ Real Estate Market?

NJ real estate

As a prospective first time home owner, it can be easy to get caught up in the dream of finding the perfect house without adequately taking your finances into account. In the rush of excitement, things like down payments, property taxes, and closing fees can be pushed to the back of your mind. You might find yourself in love with a property only to realize it is way out of your budget when the final numbers are laid out. When you first start the home buying process, it can be hard to know how much house you can actually afford. Before you jump into looking at houses, it is important to determine a realistic real estate budget. If you are looking own NJ real estate, here are some tips:

Know your take home pay.

Before you can start browsing property listings, you’ll need to become uber familiar with your current financial situation. Determining your take-home pay is a great first step to figuring out how much house you can afford. Your take-home pay is how much money you bring home in a month once taxes and other contributions are taken out of your paycheck. Unless you have a hefty savings that can cover the full price of a house, this monthly take-home pay is the money you will be using to cover your monthly mortgage payments on the loan you will take out to purchase the house.

Determine the length of your loan.

When it comes to a real estate loan, there are three major aspects to consider: the term, the interest rate, and the principal. The term of the loan is how long it will take for you to pay back the loan in full, including interest. The average mortgage term in NJ is 30 years.  Every home loan will come with interest. Interest is the amount that is in addition to the principal amount you will pay back to your lender. Mortgages have compound interest, meaning the interest is calculated monthly based on the overall debt you owe that month. You will be able to pay less in interest if you can afford higher monthly payments over a shorter period of time.

Decide on “fixed rate” or “adjustable rate.”

The amount of interest that will accrue on your loan will depend on whether you have a fixed rate mortgage or an adjustable rate mortgage. A fixed-rate loan has a locked interest rate. If it starts out at 4.2% it will always be 4.2%. This is typically the better option, especially if you can lock in a low interest rate, because your monthly payment will never change. With an adjustable mortgage, your interest rate will change with the fluctuations of the real estate market. This means you could end up with a very high interest rate over time.


Your total monthly loan payment is the biggest determining factor in determining how much house you can afford.


Allocate funds for an adequate down payment.

Most real estate experts suggest allocating no more than 25% of your take-home pay on housing expenses. If you can keep your housing expenses to less than 25% of your take-home pay, you should be able to manage the rest of your monthly living expenses comfortably. The size of your down payment can make your monthly more affordable. The more money you put down, the less money you will have to borrow (and repay.) It is generally suggested to put down at least 10-20% of the purchase price of the home. If you can afford a 20% down payment, you will not have to pay for private mortgage insurance (PMI), which can result in big savings on your monthly loan payment.

Of course, the money you borrow from a lender isn’t the only thing to consider when buying a home. You must also remember to calculate and prepare for:

  • Property taxes
  • Homeowners insurance
  • Closing costs
  • Renovations (if applicable)

All of these things will have an impact on your monthly costs for housing and your ability to afford a particular property. Buying a house is a major financial investment. Thankfully, there are plenty of online tools to help simplify the process for you. SmartAsset.com offers a free mortgage calculating tool that includes the home insurance and taxes you can expect to pay as a home owner in New Jersey.

Becoming a homeowner is a cause for celebration, but the process itself can also be very stressful. Veitengruber Law is a full service real estate law firm in NJ. We can help you through all of the financial aspects of the real estate process so you can focus on the excitement of your new home.

Mortgage Relief Scams: What You Need to Know

mortgage scam

If you’re in over your head on your mortgage, you may be starting to feel desperate. In these difficult times, it can be easy to see a mortgage relief scam as a lifeline to financial stability. By the time people realize the phony promises and baggage attached to these scams, it can be too late. The best way to avoid mortgage relief scams is to be informed of your rights and what warning signs to look for in a potential scam. Even if an offer looks legitimate, here are some basic precautions you can use to protect yourself against fraud.

The most important thing you can do is understand your rights as a homeowner. In 2010, the Federal Trade Commission published the Mortgage Assistance Relief Services (MARS) rule in order to protect homeowners from mortgage relief scams. This rule holds companies promising mortgage assistance accountable by prohibiting them from collecting any fees until after fulfilling their promises. This means that even if you agree to accept help from one of these companies, you don’t have to pay any money at all until you have received and accepted a written mortgage relief offer from your lender. The MARS rule also bars these companies from saying they work for the government or your lender and requires them to warn you that your lender may not agree to modify the loan.

When trying to spot a scam, a good rule of thumb is that any organization that tries to charge you a fee for mortgage counseling or loan modification is not legitimate. Other than accredited attorneys, the programs that can help struggling homeowners are almost always free. If a company asks you to pay up front or with a cashier’s check/wire transfer, it’s most likely a scam. Other red flags: if they guarantee results, pressure you to “sign now,” or attempt to cut you off from contacting your mortgage lender.

Here are some precautions you can take as a homeowner to protect yourself from mortgage relief scams:

1. Do your research.

Check to see if the establishment has a website and verify that the contact information listed matches the information you have. Make sure the business address is legitimate, and not just a P.O. box. The Better Business Bureau can also provide helpful information; more specifically if the company is associated with any known scams. Do not provide any personal information until you have taken the time to do ample research.

2. Don’t sign without reading the fine print.

Be careful what you sign. Make sure you have read the document thoroughly and understand it completely before you put pen to paper. It is very important for you to understand what you are agreeing to when you sign a document. If you are in doubt about anything, recruit the help of a lawyer to look over the document and explain to you in plain language what the agreement will be.

3. Keep up with mortgage payments.

Some scams advise homeowners to stop making regular payments on their mortgage while they “negotiate” with your lender. Never do this. Missing monthly mortgage payments can increase your risk of foreclosure and damage your credit, putting you into a deeper financial hole. It is also important to note that you should never be sending your mortgage payments to anyone other than your lender unless your lender has directly told you, in writing, to do so.

4. Never sign over your deed.

Under no circumstances should a mortgage relief company ask you to sign over your deed to a third party. There are two times you can sign your deed over: when you sell the home or if you sign it over to your lender in order to fulfill a debt forgiveness agreement. Signing your deed over to a third party will not save your home.

If you do find yourself the victim of one of these scams, the best thing you can do is to report it. This will give you the best chance of recovering some of your money, although the process may be lengthy. You can file reports through the FTC, the Better Business Bureau, the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau, or through an attorney.

Most people fall for mortgage relief scams looking for a quick way to get out of a financial jam, but getting on top of debt takes time and commitment to financial responsibility. If you find yourself in trouble with your mortgage, the best thing you can do is work with your lender to come to an agreement on the situation. Going to your lender directly can be intimidating. Veitengruber Law is here to help. Our experienced NJ real estate legal team can work with you to determine real debt relief solutions for your specific situation.

Bidding on a NJ Foreclosure Property: The Lowdown

NJ foreclosure

Buying a home at a NJ foreclosure sale (or sheriff’s sale, as they are commonly called) can be a fantastic way to score a property at below-market price. While there are some risks and pitfalls to be aware of when bidding at a foreclosure auction, if you’re well-informed, you’ll likely come out of the process happy and (hopefully) successful!

Naturally, the most obvious advantage of purchasing a home via sheriff’s sale is the low price you’re likely to pay. Foreclosure sales are a great way to gain ownership of a rental property or a home you intend to “flip.” Homes that are being auctioned at a New Jersey foreclosure sale have been through the judicial foreclosure process that our state requires, and the lender has been permitted by the court to move forward with selling via auction.

How can I find out about upcoming NJ foreclosure sales?

This is one of the best parts about buying a foreclosed property in New Jersey. Sheriff’s sales are required to be advertised for a minimum of 30 days. You can find listings of upcoming sheriff’s sales in local newspapers for each county. Many jurisdictions also have sheriff’s sale listings online on their county court website.

How does a sheriff’s sale work?

In New Jersey, foreclosure auctions are controlled or led by the sheriff’s department of the property’s county. All local county rules must be followed, however, there are several general rules that are consistent across all counties, according to NJ law.

  1. NJ foreclosure properties up for sale must be sold subject to the first mortgage held on the property. This information can usually be found within the property’s first lien.
  2. Any NJ foreclosure sale will also be subject to any/all local state or federal liens on the property.

Because of the above information, all bidders at NJ sheriff’s sales would be remiss to fail to run a complete title search on the property in question before even considering bidding. Failure to do so could land you with a property that is deeply encumbered by multiple liens, for which you will be 100% responsible.

In New Jersey, foreclosure sales usually start with the lender being given an opportunity to open the bidding. Most lenders will start with a $100 bid. Bidding on the property continues via voice auction between all of the interested parties present at the auction.

The usual course of a NJ sheriff’s sale/auction continues with bidding the price of the property higher and higher until a highest bidder remains. If you are the lucky bidder, you will be required to pay a 20% deposit of your bid price.

Upon conclusion of the bidding, the sale is considered to have ended. However, the end of the sale triggers what is known as the Redemption Period. This is a ten day period during which the original owner (who was foreclosed upon) is allowed to “redeem” the property. This can only be done if the original owner can completely pay off the foreclosure judgement amount, including any additional fees and costs (and potential liens).

At the end of the Redemption Period, if the original homeowner does not choose to redeem the home, you will be given a sheriff’s sale deed. When you receive this deed, it is expected that you will make full payment of the balance of your successful auction bid. You’ll also have to handle any fines that accrued relating to the property, after which you will be able to officially transfer the title from the former owner to yourself!

NJ Foreclosure Sale: What is an Arm’s Length Transaction?

When a piece of real property is scheduled for NJ foreclosure sale (also known as and commonly referred to as the Sheriff’s Sale), an interested buyer, investor or “house hunter” may reach out directly to the homeowner. Even when a homeowner’s property is in foreclosure with the Sheriff’s Sale scheduled, they (the owner) have the legal right to attempt to sell the home.

A home that is in NJ foreclosure is likely to sell at Sheriff’s Sale for substantially less than its real value. This can end with the original homeowner owing the lender the difference between how much they still owed on their mortgage loan and the foreclosure sale price. This is called a deficiency, and although lenders do not always pursue a deficiency judgement from the court, sellers should know that it is always a possibility.

Armed with information about a potential deficiency judgement, a homeowner going through the foreclosure process is smart to attempt to find a buyer before the Sheriff’s Sale date. In fact, should the homeowner find an “arm’s length” buyer prior to the foreclosure sale, it’s good news all around. The lender doesn’t have to move forward with their sale, which saves them time and money, and of course, the original homeowner may very well receive a better offer outside of a Sheriff’s Sale. Lastly, the new buyer can feel good about purchasing a foreclosure property before it is up for public sale, eliminating the competition.

What is an Arm’s Length Transaction?

When a homeowner’s lender moves forward with foreclosure, the homeowner still retains ownership and the ability to sell the property before the Sheriff’s Sale, but there are several stipulations in order to guarantee that a seller in this situation can only sell to a party who is considered an Arm’s Length buyer.

For a transaction like this to be considered fair, New Jersey real estate laws state that both the buyer and the seller must not be in any kind of relationship that is closer than “arm’s length.” The following are examples of relationships that are not arm’s length, and therefore would not be ideal buyers before the Sheriff’s Sale:

  • Family members
  • Close friends
  • Employer/employee
  • Parent company/subsidiary
  • Trust/beneficiary

As long as the homeowner is negotiating with someone who is not acting in the homeowner’s best interest (for example, a parent buying the home below market value only to allow their child, the seller, to keep living there), the end result of a transaction prior to foreclosure sale is typically a good idea.

An Arm’s Length Transaction must involve two parties who are independently acting for their own self-interest. Also, the best and fairest deal that is close to the home’s market value should ultimately be the goal of this type of transaction.

Is it Illegal to Participate in a Non-Arm’s Length Transaction?

While it is not necessarily illegal to sell to a non-arm’s length buyer, when a homeowner is already immersed in the foreclosure process, it is advisable to follow the recommendations of an experienced NJ foreclosure/real estate attorney. Ask your attorney to hook you up with a reputable tax professional as well, because transferring property to a non-arm’s length buyer comes with additional tax implications.

Learn more about your rights during foreclosure!

 

NJ Foreclosure Redemption: Explained

If you have recently “lost” your home to New Jersey foreclosure, you may be wondering if there is anything you can do to get your home back before it is sold at auction. In fact, there are some very effective, tried and true methods that can be used to prevent your lender from proceeding with the Sheriff’s Sale – as long as you take action before the sale has already commenced.

Unfortunately, many people who are in similar situations to yours live in denial for a long period of time before taking any action regarding their home’s foreclosure. Burying your head in the sand is common in times like these because this is such an undesirable life event that can be very hard to face. Most people dealing with foreclosure never intended to lose their home and can spend months hoping for a miracle.

This leads to homeowners who finally take action at the last minute (or very close to the last minute). While it is easy to panic if your home is scheduled for Sheriff’s Sale very soon, is not recommended. The same is true if your home has already been sold at Sheriff’s Sale.

Remaining calm is key. If you have not taken action before the date of your foreclosure sale, you have likely already experienced the start of the eviction process. After your home has been sold via foreclosure sale, your last Hail Mary option is to take advantage of the redemption period.

In the State of New Jersey, the foreclosure redemption period is an extremely small window of time during which you may still be able to save your home. The New Jersey foreclosure redemption time-frame is 10 days. Therefore, you have 10 days after your home has been sold at Sheriff’s Sale to redeem the property and take back ownership.

It should be noted that there are no exceptions made during the NJ foreclosure redemption period. If you do not take action within the 10 days immediately following the foreclosure sale, you will have lost the last opportunity to buy back your home.

In NJ, homeowners who are attempting to redeem, or buy back, their previously owned home after it has been sold at a foreclosure sale, must refinance or pay the outstanding balance on their mortgage in full.

Insider Info: Because New Jersey is a judicial foreclosure state, lenders are required to file a lawsuit when they proceed with foreclosing on a home. The entire foreclosure process must be documented within the New Jersey court system. This gives some New Jersey homeowners a second opportunity to buy back their foreclosed homes, but only if their lender files a deficiency judgment after the Sheriff’s Sale.

If your lender files a deficiency judgment after your home sells at foreclosure sale, your New Jersey foreclosure defense attorney can help you bring action for redemption within six months after your lender has filed for deficiency judgment. This is a feat designated for experienced foreclosure and real estate attorneys and should not be attempted with a less-experienced professional.

To learn how to buy back your home via redemption after deficiency judgment, ask your NJ attorney ASAP.

If your home has been sold at a New Jersey Sheriff Sale and you’re interested in redeeming either during the 10 day redemption period or after a deficiency judgment – you must contact an experienced New Jersey foreclosure defense attorney TODAY.

Take action now before your chance to redeem your home truly passes. Be sure to ask your attorney about the new Senate proposal regarding NJ foreclosure stays to find out if it can be of help in your unique situation.

Image: “Keys.” by Linus Bohman – licensed under CC 2.0

Understanding a NJ Home Inspection Report

For those who are looking to buy or sell a home, the home inspection is a crucial part of the process.Whether you are the buyer or the seller of a property, you must have a solid understanding of all of the details found in your New Jersey home inspection report. This report will ultimately determine the overall condition of the property in question, and will specifically itemize any problems, both large and small.

Typically, the home inspection is ordered by the home buyer after they have signed a purchase contract. It is important to work with a professional, licensed and well-respected home inspector to ensure that nothing substantial is missed.

While the seller is required to disclose any and all existing issues with the house, they can only disclose problems that they are aware of. The job of the home inspector is to dig beneath the surface to find problems that may not be visible to the untrained eye, such as damage to any area of the home including: the foundation, pipes and plumbing, HVAC system(s), electrical systems, roof, walls, attic, ceilings, floors, doors and windows.

After he has inspected your potential future home, your NJ home inspector will provide you with a detailed report. This report will explain any and all findings of the home inspection. Some home inspection reports can run upwards of 30 pages, which can be a little bit intimidating to the novice home buyer.

Understanding Your Home Inspection Report

Home inspection reports can also come in different formats. Some home inspection teams report with a checklist, while others use a summary along with a longer narrative portion explaining the summary in detail.

Typically, home inspection reports will include a table of contents for ease of navigating through each portion of the report. Professional home inspection teams will include an introductory portion that provides important industry definitions along with details about the report, including: date completed, home address, age of the home, weather conditions during the report, and people who were present during the inspection.

Following any introductory sections will be the meat of any home inspection report. This portion of the report should be divided into areas of the home or home components that the inspector evaluated. Here, notes will be made and details will be listed about the condition of each home area/component (roof, plumbing etc.) along with suggestions, recommendations and any applicable photos and or videos that the home inspection team acquired during their review of the home.

Is a Home Inspection Really Necessary?

It is extremely important that anyone looking to purchase a home invests in a home inspection during the contingency period of the home purchase. Any New Jersey real estate contract/purchase contract is conditional until the home inspection has been completed. This means that the contract is not official until after the home inspection and can be terminated if there are significant issues discovered by the home inspector.

Many times, minor issues can be negotiated between the buyer and the seller, allowing the sale to proceed. Aesthetic changes, such as fresh paint or minor kitchen repairs can be added to the contract as the seller’s responsibility. Before closing, the buyer will have a final walk-through of the home, at which time they can determine whether or not all of the requested repairs have been made as agreed to in the contract.

 

Image by Andy Piper – licensed under CC 2.0

How the New Jersey Senior Freeze is Making a Difference

Property taxes are defined as taxes that are collected by the local jurisdiction in which a real property is located; the amount of property taxes any homeowner owes is based on the assessed value of the home(s) they own multiplied by the current tax rate in their local jurisdiction. New Jersey’s average property tax rate is one of the highest in the United States.

Owning a home in the Garden State has a lot of benefits, and those of us who are living and raising a family here wouldn’t dream of doing it anywhere else. We may have to grit our teeth every time the quarterly tax bill makes its appearance, but pay it we do. Life in New Jersey is worth it – offering tight-knit neighborhoods, reputable public schools, and, of course, the Jersey Shore! However, as NJ homeowners reach retirement age, many have begun struggling to keep their homes, in many cases because they’ve fallen behind on their property taxes.

As New Jersey’s real estate market continues to take hits, lawmakers are now taking steps to help struggling seniors so they don’t have to leave the state in order to afford to own a home. The Property Tax Reimbursement Plan, commonly called the “Senior Freeze,” is one of the programs that is making a real difference.

Under the Senior Freeze, or the PTRP, New Jersey seniors who meet a list of requirements will be eligible for reimbursement of the cumulative increase in their property taxes since the first year they became eligible, which is called the base year.

In order to qualify for property tax increase reimbursement under the Senior Freeze program, New Jersey seniors:

  • Must have lived in New Jersey for at least ten consecutive years – either renting or owning their own home
  • Have resided in the home they currently own for a minimum of the last three consecutive years
  • Should be at least age 65 or have a spouse who is at least 65 year of age – ALTERNATIVELY – those who do not meet the age requirement but are receiving Federal SSDI (disability) benefit payments can also qualify
  • Must meet specific income requirements

The year in which New Jersey seniors are able to meet all of the above eligibility requirements is considered their base year. The base year is essentially the year in which their property taxes will be “frozen,” so to speak. Any increase in their NJ property taxes that they have paid out since the base year will be repaid to them.

Ex: Ruth turned 65 in the year 2010. She has lived in and owned her current New Jersey home with her husband for 20 years, and she also met all of the additional requirements in 2010. Ruth will be reimbursed using this formula: The property tax amount she paid in 2017 (current year) minus the amount she paid in property taxes in her base year (2010). The difference equals her reimbursement amount.

Every year forward, Ruth’s property taxes will remain frozen at the amount she paid in her base year of 2010. Combined with assistance from the Homestead Benefit Program, New Jersey senior citizens have a better chance at maintaining their standard of living into retirement, and they can continue to enjoy the wonderful Garden State for many years to come.

 

 

 

 

Hiring the Right Professionals for Your NJ Real Estate Purchase

When it comes time to purchase a home, whether you’re a first-time home buyer or an experienced home buyer, you want to put together a superior professional team. In doing so, you will give yourself the best chance at landing the home of your dreams within your price range and ideally, within your desired timeframe.

Living in the technology era makes it extraordinarily easy to access information regarding almost any topic – and this includes the real estate market. While any tech savvy home buyer can access a home’s stats, asking price and any other information associated with the listing, does this mean that you don’t need to hire a realtor? And while were at it, who else do you need to hire help you bring this thing “home?”

Real estate professional/agent

While it’s true that you can easily access listing information about virtually any property that is listed on the MLS (Multiple Listing Service), it is imperative that you take the time to research, interview and select the right real estate agent.

Real estate agents have so much more to offer you than what you can find with the click of your computer mouse, namely: experience. The right real estate agent for you will become your advocate and will help you get the best deal possible. Experienced real estate professionals can also make the home buying process more effective by helping you narrow down specifically what you are looking for in a home.

While it is possible for you to go it on your own without a real estate agent, it is not advisable unless you have solid experience in the real estate field yourself.

Lending agent/mortgage company

Naturally, you’re likely going to need to mortgage this significant purchase, and choosing the right mortgage company can make a big difference in your overall satisfaction with the home buying process.

Look for a lender who is highly reputable in your area and has solid reviews from customers as well as a good BBB rating. The ideal lender will present you with a variety of different mortgage programs and down payment options. They should be able to tell you rather quickly how much house you can afford. Quick response time and a history of in-house processing, underwriting and funding are also important factors that many home buyers find invaluable.

Real estate attorney

The process of buying a home is a very serious transaction with a plethora of details and minutiae. A financial decision as large as buying real property has many legal issues that only an experienced New Jersey real estate attorney is qualified to answer properly. No real estate agent should be giving you legal advice about your home purchase. Everything from translating legalese within the purchase contract to tax obligations and any existing or surprise property liens is best handled by your lawyer.

Working with a real estate attorney is especially crucial if you are purchasing a home via NJ short sale or Sheriff’s Sale (foreclosure). The added legal implications surrounding these types of home buying cement your need for a New Jersey real estate attorney who also specializes in foreclosure defense.

Title agent/company

Most experienced real estate attorneys can also perform title searches, but title companies have one job and one job only: making sure the home that you purchase has a clear title search. You will probably still want to purchase title insurance, as there is no guarantee that long-lost liens on the property will pop up in the distant future, but this is a decision that your real estate attorney can help you make along with your title agent.

Home inspector

Soon after you sign a purchase contract, you will be given the opportunity to do a professional home inspection on the property before the contract becomes official. In order to avoid making a significant financial blunder in purchasing a house that is wrought with problems, it is essential that you hire a home inspection company or professional home inspector who has substantial experience under his belt. Your home inspector will be able to discover any existing structural problems with the home that either weren’t disclosed by the seller or weren’t known to the seller. You will then be able to work with your real estate agent to either negotiate to have repairs made (at the seller’s expense), or, cancel the transaction if a satisfactory compromise cannot be made.