Tips for Buying NJ Real Estate During the Competitive Summer Season

NJ real estateIt’s no secret that the NJ real estate market belongs to sellers these days. Homes don’t stay on the market long—one to two weeks in New Jersey, if you get lucky, and some are gone within a single day in the more desirable neighborhoods. If you’re preparing to buy a home during the popular and highly competitive summer season, you’ll have very little time to identify the home you want, submit your offer, and defeat all competing bids.

As daunting as the prospect might seem, there are compelling reasons to take the plunge as soon as you’re financially prepared to do so. With rents climbing relentlessly all over the country (not to mention throughout New Jersey) and mortgage rates showing no signs of reversing their matching upward trend, there’s little to gain financially by continuing to rent.

Although the inventory available for the number of prospective home buyers is not ideal, spring and summer are the busiest times of the year for home sales in NJ. Unless you want to move in the rain or the snow, it’s time to gear up to get out there and find the right home for you.


With inventory throughout the state being as scarce as it is, you may need to be willing to be flexible regarding the superficial aesthetics of a home.


When you imagine your dream home, it probably has all the latest upgrades, a certain type of kitchen layout, and glistening hardwood floors. Realistically, you will probably find that you can be fully happy with a home that needs a few upgrades over the next handful of years, gradually transforming it into the perfect reflection of your tastes.

We understand that enduring home renovations isn’t for everyone, but if you find a home in the style you like in the neighborhood you desire that only needs a few tweaks, you should seriously consider moving quickly and locking down the property in that area while you can.

Once you’ve found the home, of course, it’s time for the nerve-wracking process of winning out over the competition. Here are our best tips for ensuring that your offer is the one that stands out from the pack.

  1. Get preapproved before you start shopping.

You know your credit score, you’re sure your healthy income is entirely stable, and you know you have a very manageable level of debt compared to said income. However, the home’s current owner doesn’t have any of that information unless you show up with paperwork proving that you’ve been preapproved for the appropriate amount by a mortgage lender.

This act alone will make your offer more enticing to a buyer, clearly. Although you’d think buyers would realize they should have an offer to substantiate their bid, many prospective buyers still begin touring available homes without any kind of approval letter.

Submitting an offer accompanied by a preapproval is the only way to demonstrate that you’re a truly serious buyer, prepared to move quickly and decisively.

  1. Show up to see a home with a blank contract.

If you find the one, you’ll have no time to lose in placing a bid. Even an hour could make a difference between snagging a great home or missing your chance.

  1. Don’t submit an offer with a contingency contract.

Otherwise, your offer is going to get shuffled to the bottom of a thick stack of stronger offers. Try not to have any hint of hesitance or uncertainty. If you want a home, go for it as clearly and cleanly as you possibly can. If you aren’t sure, move along swiftly so you don’t miss out on the home that’s right for you.

  1. Arrive with the biggest down payment you can.

Average down payments have continued to rise, following trends that have become more entrenched over the last four years. Sellers are more likely to be attracted to larger down payments, often linking such offers to financial stability and a smooth transaction. While gathering funds for a strong down payment might be a pinch in the short-term, the payoff is likely going to be worth it.

  1. Don’t bid below asking.

It goes without saying that there are times when a home is priced far above what it’s really worth, and your real estate agent will advise you in such cases. However, in any of the hot New Jersey markets, you’ll need to stay within 5 – 10% of the asking price. Your agent is probably going to advise you to make a strong, bold offer for the home you’re sure you want.

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Reverse Mortgage Foreclosures: Can They Be Stopped?

nj reverse mortgage

What are reverse mortgages?

Reverse mortgages allow homeowners ages 62 and up to borrow against the equity of their primary residence to receive a loan in the form of either a revenue stream or a lump sum of money from their lender. In order to be eligible for a reverse mortgage, homeowners must first meet a few basic requirements.

The homeowner(s) have to be at least 62 years old and either own their home outright or have a very strong equity built up and owe very little on their mortgage. They must also occupy their home as their primary residence and hold the title to their home. While they typically get a bad rap, reverse mortgages oftentimes provide senior citizens with a valuable and much-needed source of funding to assist with a wide variety of needs that can occur with aging.

Some common reasons seniors seek reverse mortgages are to:

  • Finance a child’s college education
  • Pay for necessary medical expenses and bills
  • Fund home repairs and remodels
  • Supplement social security income to maintain an adequate standard of living throughout retirement.

It is worth noting that while the homeowner gets to remain living in their home and keep the title to the home as collateral, they are still required to pay all necessary taxes, property maintenance and repair costs, homeowner’s insurance payments, and interest and fees on their loan.

What happens if circumstances change?

While reverse mortgages can be a feasible and even financially sound option for certain people, there are some potential pitfalls to take into consideration before ever opting for a reverse mortgage in the first place. It is important to understand the specifics of what you are undertaking as a homeowner. For instance, a reverse mortgage is immediately owed back to the lender upon the occurrence of any of the following circumstances:

  • The borrower(s) decide to transfer the title or sell the home and succeed in doing so.
  • The borrower(s) reside elsewhere for over a year, thereby relinquishing the primary residence status of the home in the eyes of the lender.
  • The borrower(s) fail to meet the terms and conditions of the mortgage; for instance falling delinquent in homeowner’s dues or property taxes, or allowing the condition of the property to substantially deteriorate.
  • The borrower(s) pass away.

If in the near future you are considering moving, living away from your home for more than a year, or if you currently have a terminal illness, you may want to look into alternatives to a reverse mortgage so that you do not leave your loved ones in a bad financial situation upon your departure.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Once the reverse mortgage becomes due for any of the aforementioned reasons, the homeowner(s) (or their heirs) are legally liable to pay back the lender in full, including any applicable taxes and fees.

Can a reverse mortgage foreclosure really be stopped?

If you find yourself or your loved ones on the verge of a reverse mortgage foreclosure, you are not entirely without viable options. Contact a NJ real estate lawyer or foreclosure defense attorney who can help determine if you are eligible for a reputable loan modification on the reverse mortgage. There is also the option of selling the property yourself or allowing a relative or friend to pay off the remaining balance owed on your reverse mortgage.

A real estate attorney with experience in NJ reverse mortgage foreclosures will be best equipped to help answer any questions you may have and help you weigh the pros and cons of all your options. They will walk you through every step of the decision-making process with the end goal of ultimately helping you avoid a reverse mortgage foreclosure.

Why Post-Sheriff’s Sale Mortgage Modifications are Unicorns

mortgage modifications

Homeowners who have found themselves struggling to make their mortgage payments may end up in foreclosure sooner rather than later. Even missing a few payments, even if you then get back on track, can cause some lenders to initiate foreclosure proceedings.

It’s true that it can be easier to ignore a potential “foreclosure warning,” even if you know you’re behind on your mortgage. Believe us when we say that burying your head in the sand is something A LOT of people do. The problem with this coping technique is that it almost always ends up with the homeowner losing their home to foreclosure – even if that is not what they want.

If you’ve found yourself at risk for foreclosure, it’s important to seek help NOW from a NJ foreclosure defense attorney before your home is foreclosed by your lender. Once your home is sold at Sheriff’s Sale, it is much more difficult to redeem your mortgage (read: get your home back).

When a property has already been foreclosed upon and the Sheriff’s Sale has passed, the original homeowner has ten (10) days to redeem the mortgage. As you can imagine, ten days is a very short period of time for any legal process. (NJ foreclosures fall under the category of “judicial foreclosures,” which means all documentation and proceedings must go through the New Jersey Court system.)

Because the ten-day time limit post-Sheriff’s Sale is so painfully short, we often say that a mortgage modification after foreclosure sale is a unicorn. They are rare, hard to accomplish, and almost impossible to find examples of.

UNLESS…

You can increase your odds of being approved for a mortgage modification after foreclosure sale – and that is by filing for bankruptcy. In New Jersey, filing for bankruptcy gives foreclosed homeowners sixty (60) days post Sheriff’s Sale for redemption.

Sixty days is a whole lot better than ten days! In two months, Veitengruber Law can help you apply for and obtain a mortgage modification even after your home has been sold at Sheriff’s Sale. HOWEVER, the odds of success of receiving a loan modification within that 60 period is fairly low.  It requires the homeowner to be organized and diligent in document production. It also may require a short sale or a hard money loan (or 401K loan, pension loan, or personal [family] loan).

A mortgage modification is necessary because your previous monthly mortgage payment was obviously too high. Redeeming (re-assuming) your mortgage as is will only end badly. You also have the option to attempt to sell the home via sale, short sale or Deed-in-lieu.

For whatever reason, if you don’t want to file for bankruptcy, the chances of saving your home via redemption after the foreclosure sale are low due to the ten-day bankruptcy guideline and you will have a relatively short amount of time to vacate your home after the sheriff sale occurs.

On the flip side, homeowners who proactively approach a foreclosure defense attorney before their home has sold at Sheriff’s Sale have a much better chance of being approved for a mortgage modification. This will allow you to keep your home without struggling so hard to make your mortgage payments, as they will be reduced to fit within your budget. Once you are approved for a mortgage modification, your foreclosure case will be closed.

NOTE: If your home is scheduled for Sheriff’s Sale within 37 days or less, you will need to file for bankruptcy in order to apply for a mortgage modification. This is further proof that taking action as soon as possible is best if you want to keep your home. When you come to your NJ foreclosure defense attorney more than 37 days before your Sheriff’s Sale, you’ll have more options, and you will not have to file for bankruptcy.

 

 

NJ Mortgage Down Payment Help: The Family Gift Option

You’re ready to buy your first home but lack a sufficient down payment. With a stable income and a solid credit score, your lack of a down payment need not prohibit you from purchasing a home. There are several feasible financing options available, including a few you likely haven’t yet considered.

In addition to certain conventional loans, FHA loans and VA loans are programs that offer very low down payment options. It is also a common misconception that most conventional home loans require a down payment of at least 20% of the purchase price of the home. In most cases, you will still be able to purchase a home without the 20% down payment. The caveat with most conventional loans is that you may be expected to pay private mortgage insurance (PMI) to help protect the lender until you have obtained 20% equity in the home.

FHA and VA loans do not require private mortgage insurance and have low down payment options, but have more specific eligibility requirements. If you have parents or relatives who are financially secure and willing to help you with a down payment, consider asking them to gift you the funds. This may be the most convenient option of all. It is relatively simple and efficient to incorporate the family gift option into the processing of your mortgage.

Many different mortgage programs allow for a family gift option in the financing of your home as long as a few basic requirements are met. Conventional loans and FHA loans both typically allow for the family gift option.

Proof of relationship

While the funds gifted to you don’t necessarily have to be from a family member, if they are not from a close relative, you may have to prove that the relationship is a close one in order for the lender to accept the plausibility of them gifting you the funds. Make sure the contributor of your funds understands that they may be liable for a gift tax depending on the amount of funds they are giving away. It is always wise for your donor to obtain legal advice in this situation –  especially when gifting a substantial sum of money. When handled properly, they may actually be able to avoid any tax liability.

Signed proof of gifted funds

The lender will also require a legal document (this letter is customarily provided by the lender) to be signed by both parties that states that you will not be expected to repay your family member for any of the down payment funds gifted to you, and that it is truly a gift and not an interpersonal loan of any kind. This letter helps protect you immensely as a buyer.

Obtain funding from family

Once you have met with your lender and consulted with a NJ real estate lawyer to determine your best options, your donor will need write you a check for the funds to be deposited into your bank account. The mortgage underwriter will then make sure the funds provided by your family member are well-documented and that you can proceed smoothly with the rest of the financing process.

If you are fortunate to have generous family or friends to gift you a down payment, please let them know just how grateful to you are. It may be the most valuable gift you ever receive from a monetary standpoint, as well as a gift that will help to establish your financial security for the rest of your life.

What Does the Recent Tax Reform Mean for the NJ Real Estate Market?

It is not a “Happy New Year” for New Jersey residents and prospective homeowners when it comes to the new tax plan that was unveiled at the White House last week. Essentially, a tax increase is the way these homeowners are starting 2018, as the cap on state and local tax deductions is now $10,000. Not only did taxes go up, but the state housing market is also affected.

New Jersey residents pay one of the highest tax rates in the federal government but experience one of the lowest returns of federal spending of any state. At the center of the first federal tax code reform in 31 years is a steep corporate tax cut that proponents of the legislation hope will unleash the nations’ economy. Of course, to make up for dramatic corporate tax cuts, deductions are placed under the microscope. Unfortunately, some of these targeted deductions have been particularly beneficial to New Jersey residents in the past.

If a current or prospective homeowner was paying $10,000 with pre-tax dollars and they’re now paying $14,000, in reality they will have to pay about $5,000 to pay the additional difference of $4,000. Fourteen thousand dollars in real estate taxes doesn’t compare with the top 5 New Jersey towns when it comes to their 2016 Average Residential Tax Bill. The municipality of Tavistock comes in at number one with the 2016 average bill at $31,132.

As a current homeowner, you may wonder how this will affect your property value. The landscape doesn’t look very green. Nobody knows for sure; as real estate markets are affected by more variables than just real estate taxes. The most affected consumer lives in 1 of 7 New Jersey counties that make up the top 10 in the United States. These are the consumers who will lose the most in home prices across the nation.  At the top of the Average House Price Decline list is Essex County which will take a hit of 10.5%.

Some grim scenarios propose that high-income residents would migrate to other states, a slowdown in home sales would affect contractors and home building businesses and stores, and the already high-taxed state would see even higher taxes.

As mentioned before, there are many factors that enter into the real estate market and New Jersey realtors must continue to sell the same way even with the uncertainty created by the new tax plan. With a low-inventory market or, in other words, when there are more buyers than sellers, and when you write off your full real estate tax amount, the real estate market is much more stable. It has been considered a sellers’ market for some time now with sellers getting considerably more than just their asking price in many cases. Eager buyers may now delay making a move from renting to buying or purchasing a bigger home for their growing family. Those who invest in real estate and current landlords will be able to pass along these tax increases to their tenants.

Normally, if the economy holds steady, the real estate market follows suit or self-corrects. Of course, the true impact won’t be known until spring has sprung and the real estate market begins to bloom.

How to Sell Your Home Before Your Lender Forecloses

nj bankruptcy attorney

Many times here on our bankruptcy blog, we describe situations where homeowners want to save their homes. Filing for bankruptcy sets the Automatic Stay into motion, which in turn prevents a home from being foreclosed upon. The length of the bankruptcy case and the anticipated outcome of a discharge of debts allows those homeowners (who desire it) the ability to adjust their debt-to-income ratio enough to keep their home via reaffirmation.

However, sometimes, a financially distressed homeowner doesn’t want to save their home. They may wish to downsize or move into a more affordable geographical location. Foreclosure, then, is not their ideal outcome, because they’ll end up with no money from the sale of the home, their credit scores will drop, and they could end up owing a deficiency judgment.

In these situations, selling the home is the desired outcome.

What’s the problem, then? Just sell the house and get on with things, right? The dilemma arises when homeowners have fallen behind on their mortgage payments and their lender is threatening to foreclose before they have a chance to get the house listed on the market.

If you do not want to keep your current house, but you’re simply short on time due to the immediate threat of foreclosure and sheriff’s sale, you’re in luck. You came to the right place, because we can help gain you enough time to get your property sold to a proper buyer rather than through a foreclosure bidding auction.

Why not just let your home go to foreclosure sale? A sale’s a sale, right?

Actually, no. Very, very much NO. However, many homeowners who’ve found themselves face-to-face with a foreclosure don’t realize they can take action toward an end goal of selling their home even when the home is actively being foreclosed upon. That’s right – this is possible even if you’re behind on your mortgage payments – or not making them at all.

Homes that sell via foreclosure auction or “sheriff’s sale” (find out why it’s called that here) almost always sell for significantly less than their real time market value. That is the #1 reason that you should consider trying to list your home for sale before sheriff’s sale.

For those homeowners who know they cannot continue living and maintaining their current lifestyle (i.e. high mortgage payments and property taxes), the last thing needed is the possibility of a deficiency judgement.

A deficiency judgement isn’t the only reason to avoid foreclosure.

By beating your lender to the punch and selling your home before they have a chance to pull the rug out from under you, you gain the opportunity for a substantially higher sale price. This will guarantee that all of your missed payments, late fees and interest is paid back to your lender, causing a domino effect of good results:

  1. Your foreclosure will be dismissed.
  2. You may end up with some equity in your pocket.
  3. Other dischargeable debts can be eliminated or greatly reduced.

Filing for bankruptcy in New Jersey should be viewed as a valuable tool that can be used to right a financial situation gone awry. The key to getting all of your ducks in a row, however, is working with the right NJ bankruptcy attorney. Timing is everything; don’t delay making a move on what can potentially turn into a disaster. Take action now, and you can walk right into a story with a happy ending.

 

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!

 

Can I “Cramdown” my Mortgage in a NJ Chapter 13 Bankruptcy?

While it may invoke images of a young parent’s attempt to eat dinner in between meeting the constant needs of a new baby, the term “cramdown” actually has nothing to do with food (at least in our context).

Debtors who file for a chapter 13 bankruptcy have determined that they can no longer stay above water paying their monthly expenses for their current lifestyle. Chapter 13 applicants typically have a dependable job with a decent income, and they are able to pay back at least a portion of the money they owe to creditors.

During NJ chapter 13 bankruptcy proceedings, a reconfigured payment plan will be laid out for the debtor that will allow them to avoid losing valuable assets. A home loan modification and a reorganization of other unsecured debts may also be part of a chapter 13 plan.

What exactly is a “cramdown?”

Another very effective strategy employed in many chapter 13 reorganization plan is called a “cramdown.” In order for a debtor to “cram” a loan down, it must be a personal property loan, like a loan for a car, home furnishings or appliances, or investment property. An important restriction here is that, unfortunately, mortgages on principle residences cannot be crammed down.

Here’s how it works:

Let’s make it easy and use a car loan as an example. These types of loans are often crammed down in chapter 13 cases due to the rapid depreciation of all vehicles immediately upon being purchased.

If a debtor borrowed $30,000 to buy a car a number of years ago, and today still owes $20,000 on that loan, it’s important to learn the current market value of the car. Let’s say the vehicle is only “worth” $15,000 now (we’re using easy figures for this example – your numbers may vary). Even though the debtor technically owes $20,000 to the creditor, a chapter 13 allows them to cram that balance down to the amount the car is actually worth. In this case, the debtor will benefit from a reduction of his loan balance by $5,000, only owing the current value of the vehicle, or $15,000.

This same process can be applied to other personal property loans that are currently upside down. To be upside down on a loan means that a debtor owes more than the property is currently worth. The cramdown strategy can only be used during a chapter 13 bankruptcy.

The amount “left over” when a loan is crammed down in a chapter 13 will be treated like the rest of the debtor’s unsecured debts, which include loans for things that are not physical property. A portion of a debtor’s total unsecured debts can be discharged, but only after they have completed their chapter 13 payment plan (which is usually spread out over 3-5 years).

The most common types of unsecured debts in New Jersey today are credit card debt and medical debt. Other examples include personal loans, student loans, alimony arrears and child support arrears. Not all debt is dischargeable in bankruptcy. Discuss your specific debt with your bankruptcy attorney.

In addition to the lump sum reduction in the amount due on a loan, a chapter 13 bankruptcy cramdown allows many debtors to reduce the interest rate they are currently paying on some (or all) of their personal property loans.

There are other benefits to a loan cramdown as well as some limitations and timelines that must be closely adhered to. Talk to your New Jersey bankruptcy attorney to learn more, and to find out of a chapter 13 bankruptcy could be the answer you’ve been seeking.

What to Expect When You’re Expecting to Close

Now that you’ve invested extensive time and energy into the process of buying a home in NJ, it can feel a bit overwhelming to realize that you still have one hurdle to clear – the closing. Most people have at least a vague, general knowledge of the fact that you have to “close” on a property before it officially becomes yours. But what exactly does this mysterious “closing” entail?

The How (to prepare):

To ensure that your closing (or settlement, as it is often called) goes smoothly, it’s best to be fully prepared in advance. Because contract language can be confusing and lengthy, it is in your best interest to have an experienced New Jersey real estate attorney review all of your loan statements and the purchase contract during your three day attorney review period, which is required by law to begin within three business days of your official closing date.

Along with having your attorney carefully review all of your paperwork, you should be allowed to do a last walk-through of the home 24 hours before the closing. This walk-through has two main purposes: to ensure that everything is in the condition that the seller agreed to in the contract, and to make sure that the seller has fully and completely vacated the premises (unless it has been otherwise negotiated in the contract).

The Who:

State laws dictate who must be present at a real estate closing. In New Jersey, the buyer(s) must be present to sign all of the official paperwork and final loan documents. The buyer’s attorney can be present if there are any questions still left unanswered, but your NJ real estate attorney is not required to attend the closing. Your real estate agent and/or title company representative will typically handle all of the closing details.

Other people who may attend the closing include: the seller, the seller’s real estate agent and occasionally, a representative from your lending institution.

The Where:

New Jersey real estate closings most often take place at the buyer’s attorney’s office or at the buyer’s realtor’s office. The location is negotiable so that it is as accommodating as possible for everyone involved.

The What (to bring):

On the day of your closing, you’ll to bring proof of your identity, proof of your homeowners insurance policy, any home inspection reports and a copy of the contract that you have reviewed with your attorney. You’ll need this copy to verify that no changes have been made to the official contract that you will be signing.

This is also the time to fork over your down payment and closing costs. You cannot make these payments with a personal check, so be sure to verify with your closing agent beforehand what form of payment is preferred. It will likely be a cashier’s check or, in some cases, a wire transfer. If there are any smaller surprise fees that need to be paid at closing, you should be able to pay for those with a check.

The What (to expect):

Once you arrive at your closing or settlement meeting, you can expect to do a lot (and we mean A LOT) of signing your name on all of the closing documents and final loan paperwork.

The transaction will be recorded by a representative from the title company, who will then file the deed with the appropriate township/municipality.

Just as your hand starts to cramp uncontrollably from all of the signing you have to do, it will be over and you’ll be handed the keys to your new NJ home!

 

 

 

 

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.