How NJ Title Insurance Protects You from Hidden Ownership Hazards

When purchasing real estate in New Jersey, it is imperative that buyers take care to familiarize themselves with the lengthy checklist of steps that must be completed throughout the process of purchasing a home. Neglecting to do so can result in delays, missed deadlines, or additional fees.

One of these important tasks is purchasing title insurance. However, if buyers encounter this fee as an unexpected add-on, they may resent it, or even wonder if title insurance is necessary at all. Of course, title insurance is necessary because it provides a financial shield against a slew of potential pitfalls, even title-related issues that could crop up down the road.

Questions related to title insurance often include:

Before the closing date, there is going to be a title search. What does that mean?

The party listed on a home’s title is the rightful owner of the property. When your NJ real estate attorney or the title insurance company performs a title search on a property before the sale, they are attempting to find anything in the home’s history that could become problematic when it’s time to transfer the title.

This is a preliminary examination, but it is quite thorough. Records commonly examined include divorce agreements, judgments, liens, tax records, trusts, wills, and yes, deeds. If there is an obstacle that is fairly minor (remaining liens, clerical errors, or missing signatures), it can often be quickly remedied. In such cases, a sale can usually proceed unencumbered.

The initial title search was clear. Do I still need title insurance?

Even when a title search is initially clear, it is nearly impossible for even the most thorough of title searches to fully eliminate the potential for future conflict. A contesting claim can be filed for a number of reasons, including clerical errors, newly-discovered family connections, and estate planning mistakes. Unfortunately, such a claim could crop up at any point – even years after you’ve closed on the home.

Additionally, all reputable lenders will require you to secure title insurance before they will even consider your mortgage request, and NJ real estate attorneys simply won’t represent you if you are unable to secure it. No attorney wants to take on a client who has left themselves so vulnerable to unpredictable future events.

Title insurance can sound superfluous at first, but clearly, it is an absolutely essential cog in the machinery of actions that represent responsible, successful home ownership.

What does title insurance cover?

A standard owner’s title insurance policy normally protects you financially in the event of any of the following:

  • Displacement by a contesting claimant
  • Forgery and fraud with regard to prior documentation
  • Clerical or typographical errors
  • Mistakes on records or in methods of record-keeping
  • Outstanding liens or legal judgments
  • Restrictive covenants, i.e. easements that have been undocumented

If something goes wrong with the title years from now, how can title insurance help?

Your policy will be your safety net, even if a long-buried issue crops up down the line and presents a valid obstruction to your ownership.

Now, a long-lost party can still take a claim to the courts; if they happen to win ownership of the property, your policy will pay off the remaining balance on your mortgage. If you have also taken out a homeowner’s insurance policy, that will be activated as well, so that some – or perhaps all – of the money you’ve invested (i.e. down payments and mortgage payments) can be recovered.

What is the total cost of title insurance?

The lender’s policy will cost a one-time initial cost of roughly $1,000. An owner’s policy costs less than $100. Even if you never file a claim against your policy, though, this is still money well spent.

Why? Because on the (admittedly small) chance that a missed claim does crop up and catches you without title insurance, you stand to lose a large sum of money as well as the home you’ve fallen in love with.

Who should I speak to about purchasing title insurance?

Your escrow or closing agent will pursue title insurance for you once your purchasing agreement for your new property has been completed. Feel free to reach out to us at Veitengruber Law if you have questions about title insurance, title searches, or any other aspect of the New Jersey real estate process!

 

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Should You Buy a Fixer-Upper?

fixer upperWith the success of popular HGTV shows like Fixer Upper and the prominence of DIY house projects, purchasing a fixer-upper is a common dream for some potential home buyers. Fixer-upper properties are often lower-priced while offering the opportunity to greatly increase the value of the home far beyond what the buyer paid for it. At the same time, fixer-upper properties can sometimes be more work than people think they will be. The final product may not be worth the time, effort, and money it took to get there. So how can you tell if buying a fixer upper is the right move for you?

A lot of factors go into determining if the fixer-upper you are looking for is a good investment. Fixer-uppers can offer ample opportunity for creativity, personalization, and savings. But they can also come with costly renovations, increased risk, and a monopoly on your time. Ultimately, whether or not you should buy a fixer-upper comes down to you and your unique circumstances as a home buyer. Here are some ways to decide if you have what it takes to buy a fixer-upper:

1. Are You Ready For the Work?

Doing all the work needed to bring your vision for a fixer-upper to life is time consuming and stressful. It is a huge undertaking even for the savviest DIY enthusiast. There is a reason many home buyers will spend the extra money for a newly renovated and updated home. The price tag of a fixer-upper might not seem worth it after you calculate the cost, time, and labor you will have to put into the home after purchase.

The commitment required of your time and energy is no small order. If you’ll be doing the renovations yourself, you need to be up to the physical task. If you are hiring professionals for the renovations, you will still need to be on site regularly and be able to take the time to shop for materials and appliances. The work can quickly become overwhelming, so make sure you are prepared.

2. Are You Connected?

When it comes to home renovations, hiring the right people can make or break a project—and your bank account! Time is money with contract work. Do you know trustworthy professionals to help you achieve your vision? Knowing architects, contractors, project managers, and other people in the construction business can be a major leg forward for your project. If you do not know anyone personally, ask trusted friends or family if they know any reliable project managers or general contractors. These professionals can make the renovation process more efficient and cost-effective for your bottom line.

3. Where Will You Live?

Are you prepared to live in a construction zone for months on end? Alternatively, if your renovations don’t allow you to live on site (if you’re gutting your bathroom, for instance), are you financially prepared to maintain two residences simultaneously? Make sure you look into all of your options. If a close friend or family member has room for you nearby, you could save money by bunking with them throughout the reno project. Finding an economical rental is also a good option if you cannot live in your new property while it is being renovated.

4. Do You Have the Vision?

Sure, it looks easy when Joanna and Chip Gaines do it on HGTV, but bringing a housing vision into reality isn’t something everyone is capable of doing. Getting a realistic mental image of how you want your home to look and then explaining that vision to the professionals helping you can be difficult. Some creative preferences and ideas can get lost in translation, leaving you with something you didn’t exactly want. A lot of creativity goes into renovating a home. Make sure you have thought through your ideas before you sign the dotted line for a fixer-upper.

A fixer-upper can be a fantastic investment opportunity for potential homebuyers. As with any real estate transaction, there are a lot of details and complex contracts involved in buying and fixing up an outdated home. Veitengruber Law is a full-service real estate law office with experience in all areas of contract review, real estate representation, and closing services. We can help ensure you are protected and supported as you purchase your dream home.

Reasons Why a NJ Foreclosure Property is a Great Investment

NJ foreclosure

Buying a home is often the biggest investment an individual can make. Depending on where you live and the status of the market at the time, you may face heavy competition for homes in your price range. Including NJ foreclosure properties could widen your pool of potential homes while simultaneously saving you some money. It can seem to some potential buyers that foreclosed homes may be a bad investment. If you get what you pay for, the low prices of foreclosed homes may make it seem like you’re paying for a house with a lot of problems. But foreclosed homes can be a great investment for the right homebuyer.

Foreclosure status on a potential home can mean a lot of different things. In most cases, you will not be able to gather as much information on homes in foreclosure as compared to properties that are simply listed for sale. It is also a good bet that the home is in need of some upkeep, especially if it has been empty for an extended period of time. If the previous owners fell behind on payments, it stands to reason that they may have fallen behind on regular home maintenance as well. This is not always the case though – and every foreclosed home will come with different needs. A foreclosed home could be in perfectly good shape or in need of a substantial amount of hard work.

Pre-Foreclosure

Sometimes, buying a home in pre-foreclosure can be a “best of both worlds” situation. Pre-foreclosure means the home is being sold by the owners to avoid losing the home at Sheriff’s Sale. The owners have likely already received legal notice from their lender, but the foreclosure process hasn’t officially started yet. Sellers who know foreclosure is imminent are facing serious legal and financial consequences; therefore, they are often very motivated.

If you’re lucky enough to find a house just before it goes into the NJ foreclosure system, you’ll have the opportunity to tour the property before making an offer, which doesn’t always happen if you’re buying a foreclosed home at auction. It can be difficult, however, to find these homes or confirm that they are actually on the market. Often, your local newspaper will list foreclosure notices and some real estate websites have filters for “potential listings.” If you’re up for some detective work, or have a NJ real estate attorney with a vast network of real estate agents, you could get a great deal on an awesome property.

Buying a Home at Sheriff’s Sale

Once a home has officially entered the foreclosure process, there are two main ways for you to purchase it. The first is through auction. Banks and lenders prefer auctions because they are an easy, straightforward way for them to recuperate at least some of their losses and get the home off the market. For a potential homebuyer, though, auctions can be a little scary. Buying a home via NJ Sheriff’s Sale means you likely will not be able to see the inside of the home before the day of the sale. Properties are sold as-is in auctions, so you could be taking a huge risk buying a home without seeing it first. Hiring a professional home inspector to accompany you to the Sheriff’s Sale to indicate any potential repairs or major issues is one way to avoid making a huge mistake.

Additionally, you can do some research on your own to help you make an informed decision. Ownership records, building permits, and previous inspections will all be part of public record. Drive to the property yourself and see what you can from the outside. Ask neighbors what they know about the home. You will want all the information you can possibly get to make sure you are making a worthwhile investment.

Direct Purchase from the Lender

The second way to buy a foreclosed home is directly through the bank. Like with an auction, the property will be sold as-is and the seller may not have all the information you would want on important records about house maintenance or potential repairs. Unlike an auction, however, you will have more time to get the property professionally inspected and determine if the repairs are worth the investment. If you choose to go through with the purchase, be prepared for a long wait. Because you are dealing with a corporation instead of an individual, it can take a long time for these kinds of foreclosure sales to go through.

While foreclosed homes are certainly a bargain, you still may need help financing your investment. When buying a foreclosed home at auction, you will probably need cash up front for the quick transaction. However, you will have financing options if you buy a home in pre-foreclosure or directly through the lender. Your purchase will likely be similar to a traditional home buying process in that you will still have regular mortgage payments over 15 or 30 years. The only difference might come from the level of repairs needed on the home. If your inspection reveals major repairs will be necessary, you should consider getting an FHA 203(k) renovation loan. This type of mortgage loan will cover the purchase price in addition to any renovations needed.

Sometimes buying a foreclosed home comes down to luck and timing, but if you’re willing to put in some time and research it could be worth your while. Making the decision to purchase a foreclosed home doesn’t have to be intimidating. Veitengruber Law can help ensure you are getting the most out of your investment. It is possible to become the owner of a great home at a low cost – you just have to know where to look.

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.

Help! I Want out of my NJ Real Estate Contract!

NJ real estate

The main goal of the negotiations surrounding a NJ real estate deal is for all parties involved to sign a contract they’re happy with. Sellers want to make a profit on their property and buyers want to have confidence in the huge investment they just made for their future. Sometimes, though, both parties sign on the dotted line only to find themselves second-guessing their decision. If something doesn’t seem right or you start to realize you didn’t get as much out of the deal as you had hoped, you may find yourself wanting out of the deal.

Is it possible to back out of a signed NJ real estate contract?

The good news is that even after you sign, there are still some ways to get yourself out of a real estate contract, but you have to act quickly. In New Jersey, the 3 day attorney review period will allow you to work with an attorney to bring your concerns back into negotiation. It is critical that you take advantage of New Jersey’s unique 3 day review period. During this time, you will work with your real estate attorney to review all aspects of the contract. As long as you’re within the attorney review period, you can make changes to the contract or walk away from the deal altogether.

What if I missed the attorney review period but still want out of my contract?

After the 3 day review period has passed, it is much more difficult to “un-sign” your name from your NJ real estate contract. In our experience, the three main reasons for a broken real estate contract are:

  1. Unsatisfactory appraisal
  2. Significant inspection issues
  3. Contingency clauses

Many real estate contracts include a contingency stating that the buyer and their lender must approve of the inspection and appraisal before a deal can move forward. If the buyer or lender is unsatisfied with the results of the inspection, appraisal (or both), it could open the door for further negotiations.

An appraisal price that is significantly lower than the purchase price will raise huge red flags for a lender and can give the buyer leverage to re-open contract negotiations. Likewise, a home inspection that turns up significant issues could give the buyer cause to break the contract if a seller is unwilling to make the necessary repairs.

While issues with inspection or appraisal can help the buyer back out of a contract, the “kick-out” clause of a real estate contract can be utilized by sellers. Traditionally, real estate contracts include a contingency clause that protects buyers from carrying two mortgages. The language usually reads like: “Buyer’s obligation to purchase this property is contingent on the sale of their current home.”

In today’s real estate market, many contracts now include contingency clauses that protect the seller if closing is dependent on the buyer selling their current home (as shown in the example above). Known as the “kick-out” clause, this contingency allows the seller to entertain other, potentially better offers on a property as long as the original potential buyer’s property has not sold. If a new buyer is found, the seller can “kick out” the original buyer and accept the new offer.

The key to getting out of a real estate contract is working closely with a trusted real estate attorney. In addition to helping you legally back out of a contract, your New Jersey real estate attorney will use the law to work in your best interest throughout the entirety of contract negotiations. Veitengruber Law will point out any issues or reservations about a contract early in the process. Understanding the ins and outs of a contract before you sign can save you the trouble of backing out later.

Our NJ real estate team is experienced in handling all of the complex legal details that go into real estate contracts. Working with us will ensure a smoother transaction and will get what you want! Don’t wait until you sign the contract to realize you need the advice of an expert attorney. Call us today for your free consultation about your real estate goals.

NJ Real Estate Lingo Explained

NJ real estate

In New Jersey, real estate contracts are required to be written in “plain language” to make sure even those inexperienced with buying and selling real estate can understand the terms of the agreement. However, a lot of real estate terms that are considered
“plain language” can still be confusing. Unfamiliar real estate terms can make it seem like the people around you are speaking a foreign language. This list of 14 real estate terms will help you make informed decisions during your future NJ real estate transactions.

Amortization:

This is a method of adjusting the ratio of principal to interest over time in order to equalize the monthly payment over the life of a mortgage or loan. So, while initially the interest payment will be high and the principal payment will be low, by the end of the loan the interest payments will be low and the principal payments will be high. Amortization of a loan will impact your ability to finance your property, making your payments standardized throughout the life of the loan.

Appraisal:

A lender will require a licensed appraiser to estimate the value of a home based on an investigation of the property and the selling price of similar homes in the area. This will help the lender determine if they will agree to mortgage a property.

Competitive Market Analysis (CMA):

CMA is a comparison of one property to other properties of similar size, style, location, and internal/external features that have recently sold or are on the market. This helps real estate agents determine how much money a house may be worth at any given time and help establish a listing price.

Contingencies:

In real estate, a contingency is a specific condition that must be met before closing. There are several different kinds of contingencies for the buyer and seller in a real estate transaction. The buyer will need to make sure they can get financing for the sale while the seller must ensure the home can pass an inspection, among other responsibilities.

Closing & Closing Fees:

Closing is the final step in a real estate transaction process. This is where the documents are submitted and carried out and when the sale of the property is complete. At closing, a closing statement will be issued listing the financial responsibilities of both buyer and seller. Closing costs include loan origination fees, attorney fees, discount points, and recording fees. This is typically somewhere between 3% and 5% of the price of the property.

Down Payment:

This is the amount of money a buyer will pay in cash initially in order to purchase a property. This is not financed and is typically anywhere from 5% and 25% of the overall value of the property. The bigger the down payment, the less a buyer will have to finance.

Escrow:

Escrow is when a neutral third party is hired during a real estate transaction to handle money transactions and hold documents as agreed upon by the buyer and seller of a property. They basically ensure the smooth transfer of ownership from seller to buyer and make sure all paperwork is handled correctly.

Fixed-rate mortgage and Adjustable-rate mortgage:

There are two kinds of conventional loans: fixed-rate and adjustable-rate. Under a fixed-rate mortgage, the interest rate stays the same throughout the entirety of the loan. Under an adjustable-rate mortgage, the interest rate can change over the course of the loan at the five, seven, and ten year marks. Depending on market conditions, this means your loan rate could increase drastically.

Inspection:

Once an offer is made on a home, the potential buyer will schedule an inspection. This typically costs between $500 and $800 and includes a full assessment of the property, including plumbing, structural stability, heating, electricity, and any appliances included in the sale.

Lien:

This is a legal claim or action on a property used as security for the payment of debt. A lien may be in place on a property for issues like an unpaid contractor or unpaid taxes.

Listing:

A listing is a home or property that is for sale. The home is often listed on online real estate sites or in real estate publications. This is how sellers alert potential buyers that their property is for sale.

Offer:

An offer is made by the buyer as an initial price offered to the seller. The offer can be accepted, rejected, or countered with a different offer by the seller.

Pre-approval Letter:

This is a letter from a bank or lending institution indicating the estimated amount they are willing to lend. This letter will help you determine how much you can afford as you start looking for houses and allows the seller to see that you will be able to get a loan when you need it.

Title Insurance:

Most mortgage lenders will require a buyer to pay title insurance as part of closing costs on a property. After a seller has accepted a buyer’s offer, title insurers will search through public records to determine whether or not the home seller had rights to the title of the house and that there are no liens on the property. This report is typically done within a week.

Veitengruber Law has extensive experience handling complex real estate transactions, from short sales to closings to refinancing and mortgage modification. Real estate transactions often involve complicated legal contracts. When you partner with us, we will advocate for your best interests and make sure you can make informed decisions about your real estate goals.

NJ Real Estate: Understanding the 3 Day Attorney Review Period

nj attorney review period

When it comes to NJ real estate transactions, first-time buyers or sellers can find themselves under-informed when it comes to their rights and responsibilities during the sale of a home. Real estate contracts are complex documents that may be difficult for many people to understand as well as they need to. In New Jersey, buyers and sellers have the right to a 3 day attorney review period to ensure that their best interests are being met.

 


The attorney review period is unique to New Jersey and protects both buyers and sellers from entering into unwise real estate contracts.

 

The Contract

In New Jersey, as well as in every US state, the contract is far and away the most important document in the entire real estate transaction process. Almost all real estate transactions begin with the signing of this document and it sets forth the rights and responsibilities of the buyer and seller for the remainder of the transaction. These rights and responsibilities are the essential terms of the contract and identify the following information:

  • Purchase price
  • Closing date
  • Paperwork each party must provide
  • Specific details about the sale of the property

Plans for inspections, repairs, and many other agreements between the buyer and seller will also be part of the contract. Because the real estate contract is so essential to the legal transfer of property, it is imperative that both parties utilize their legal right to an attorney review.

Attorney Review Period

The state of New Jersey allows for a 3 day attorney review period to begin after a contract of sale has been signed by the buyer and seller and a copy has been delivered to both parties. This 3 day period allows both parties ample time to retain a real estate attorney who will review the contract. The attorney will either accept/approve the contract as-is, make changes to it, or cancel it all together.

If there are changes to be made to the contract, the attorney must send a disapproval letter to the other party’s attorney for review within the 3 day review period. At the end of the allotted time period, if the contract has not been disapproved or canceled by either the buyer or the seller, both parties are henceforth legally bound by the contract.

Beware of “Legalese”

Taking advantage of the attorney review period is important for both buyers and sellers. While all real estate contracts in NJ must be written in “plain language,” the fact remains that some confusing legal concepts (legalese) will make their way into virtually every real estate transaction. Working with an experienced real estate attorney can ensure you are getting the best advice on the ins and outs and specific legal language of real estate law. You do not want to find yourself bound to a contract that includes terms that you never fully understood. The attorney review period gives you time to work closely with your attorney so that you have a solid grasp on your rights and responsibilities as set forth in the contract.

 


 Realtors are not legally permitted to give legal advice to either party engaged in a real estate contract.

 

Contract missing the Attorney Review Clause? DO NOT SIGN.

Real estate contracts will differ from realtor to realtor. Some may not even include an attorney review clause. It is important to know that in New Jersey, the attorney review period is your right as a buyer or a seller in a residential real estate transaction. If the contract does not include an attorney review clause, do not sign the contract until it has been reviewed by your attorney.

Veitengruber Law has extensive experience working with clients in the attorney review process. We know how intimidating, nerve wracking (and at times overwhelming) it can be to buy or sell a home. Our goal is to ensure that your rights are protected so you can make clear-headed, informed decisions during the real estate transaction process. Reach out to us for help at any time during your NJ real estate transaction!

How to Buy a Home After NJ Bankruptcy

NJ bankruptcy

Buying a home is at the core of the American dream. The advantages are clear: tax incentives, stability, investment, and being independent of a landlord. Since the housing market crash of 2008, banks have become much more scrutinous of potential homebuyers’ credit history. Do you have to give up on your dream of home ownership if you’ve had a NJ bankruptcy discharge? You may be surprised to learn that owning a home is a real possibility.

In chapter seven bankruptcies, an individual’s assets are liquidated and used to repay their debts, with any remaining debts are discharged, or cleared. This will give you a clean financial slate to start over with. In a chapter thirteen bankruptcy, you can keep some assets but you will have to abide by a payment schedule for repaying your debts over three to five years. After the time period is over, your remaining debts are often dismissed. There are several different types of home loans that have different requirements for post-bankruptcy discharge.

New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency (NJHMFA) Down Payment Assistance (DPA)

If you are a potential first-time home buyer you may want to look into the NJHMFA Down Payment Assistance program. It provides $10,000 towards a down payment and/or closing costs. The DPA is considered a second loan with no interest or payments. Once a buyer has lived in their home for five years, the loan is considered paid. There are several qualifications that must be met in order to participate in the program:

  • You must wait 24 months after chapter seven or chapter thirteen bankruptcy discharge.
  • You need to have a FICO credit score of 620 or above and meet debt-to-income requirements.
  • Only homes purchased in New Jersey are eligible.
  • The DPA must be paired with an NJHMFA first mortgage loan which is a 30-year fixed interest, government-insured loan through participating lenders.
  • The property must fall below purchase price limits.
  • The borrower’s income must fall below limits of 140% of median area income.

Qualifying for $10,000 interest-free is a huge incentive to acquiring an NJHMFA loan. After your bankruptcy discharge you can work towards meeting these requirements and getting your credit score above 620.

Federal Housing Authority (FHA) Loan

If you’re not a first-time home buyer or don’t otherwise qualify for the NJHMFA loan, an FHA loan is your next best bet. An FHA loan is a government-insured loan which has less requirements than conventional loans.

In regards to chapter seven filings, you’ll need to wait two years after the date of discharge (with a notable exception). If you can prove that you filed for bankruptcy due to no fault of your own, you can apply for a twelve-month exception. These circumstances may include illness, divorce, or theft. You will also need to demonstrate responsible financial behaviors in the months following the discharge.

Chapter thirteen filings require ongoing payments for three to five years so if you wish to purchase a home during that time, you will need to involve the court in your loan application. This is where a skilled bankruptcy attorney like George Veitengruber can assist you and present your purchase in the best possible light. First, you must make twelve months of payments to creditors. You will need to show the court that the reason you filed for bankruptcy was an anomaly.

Conventional Loans

Conventional home loans have tougher requirements for post-bankruptcy home buyers. Both chapter seven and chapter thirteen bankruptcies require a waiting period of 48 months after discharge to apply. In the exception of bankruptcy that was beyond your control, the waiting period can be reduced to 24 months. A conventional loan requires a twenty percent down payment on a property. Down payments of less than twenty percent are subject to mortgage insurance, which can be removed after the 20% has been paid. Conventional loans also traditionally require a higher credit score than an FHA loan.

The good news is that bankruptcy does NOT mean the end of your financial independence. You can rewrite your story and craft your new future. Since each of these loans requires a waiting period, take that time to plan carefully rebuild your credit so that you can embark on your new home purchase with a solid financial foundation.

How Much Does it Cost to Sell your NJ home?

sell your nj home

You’ve made the decision to sell your NJ home. This can be an exciting time for many reasons, not the least of which is the proceeds from selling your old house. But what a lot of sellers don’t realize is that selling a house can sometimes be a costly experience. Zillow estimates that an average U.S. homeowner spends more than $18,000 in extra costs when trying to sell their home. These extra costs can eat away at your proceeds. Here, we take a look at the major costs of selling your house.

Closing Costs

Typically, it is up to the buyer to cover the majority of closing costs, which end up to be an average of 2%-5% of the sale price of the home. However, sellers should be aware that they may have to pay some closing costs as well. The seller will have to pay any legal fees and fees associated with money going into escrow. New Jersey also requires the seller to pay a real estate transfer fee, which would be about $800 for a house with a sale price of $180,000.00.

 

Real Estate Agent Commission

Commission costs typically make up the majority of the seller’s extra expenses. Normally, the seller splits the commission with the buyer’s agent, typically about 6% of the final sales price. This 6% reflects all the hard work that goes into selling a home. The agent will market the home, hold open houses, show the home to interested buyers, and answer inquiries about the home. While this 6% commission can sometimes be negotiated, many experienced real estate agents will not negotiate their commission.

 

Home Repair and Maintenance

A lot goes into getting a home physically prepared to sell. According to Zillow, homeowners spend an average of $2,000.00 on home repairs and maintenance and sellers who enlist professional help can spend upwards of $5,000.00. These costs include putting up fresh, neutral paint in the interior, carpet and floor cleaning, lawn care and landscaping to increase curb appeal, and a full, thorough house cleaning before the buyers move in. You will also need to repair any items that are not working properly. If a buyer has a home inspection performed on the property, any findings will need to be addressed and repaired before sale.

 

Mortgage Payoff

The proceeds of selling your home will be used to pay off your mortgage. The money you receive is what is leftover once your remaining mortgage is paid and all other fees and costs are deducted. As an example, if you still owe $80,000 on your mortgage and you sell your home for $180,000, you will have $100,000 after paying off the remainder of your mortgage. Subtract $10,800 in commission fees and you will have $89,200—and this isn’t even counting any closing costs, home repairs, and preparing your home for sale.

There are a lot of costs that come with selling a home. Not all homeowners consider these costs before jumping into the real estate market. Veitengruber Law provides experienced real estate representation in New Jersey. We will make sure that you are prepared for these fees and expenses. We can also review and draft the complex legal contracts involved in real estate transactions. Our team can help you negotiate a deal that will keep as much money in your pocket as possible. Call us today at 732-852-7295 for your free consultation.

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.