Posted by & filed under Buying.

Do you know how to buy a house in Bergen County? If you don’t, you could find the home buying process a nightmare.  Even if you own a home now, the way you bought yours years ago is not the way it’s done today.

Here’s a brief review –

 

  • You find the home you want
  • You make an offer on the NJ State mandated contract with a pre-approval
  • You negotiate – let’s say you come to an agreement with the owner
  • The offer is revised to reflect the agreement and sent to the seller
  • The seller signs the offer – it is now a contract for sale
  • This contract is scanned and emailed to you and your attorney
  • Attorney Review begins – this process creates a firm, binding contract
  • Now you do the home inspection
  • If there are issues with the home inspection, this becomes another negotiation
  • If you come to agreement on inspection issues, you move forward.  If not, the contract is cancelled.
  • Very often this is when the first part of the down payment is sent to the seller’s attorney
  • The mortgage is processed
  • The bank appraises the house to make sure it’s worth what you’re paying
  • Your attorney will order the title, survey, prepare the closing document.
  • You must receive the closing document no less than 3 business days before closing
  • You do a walk through inspection on the way to closing (sometimes 1 week earlier too)
  • You close on your new home at your attorney’s office.  You get the keys – it’s now yours!

I’ll fill in more details in future articles but this is basically how to buy a house in Bergen County.  You’ll need an attorney – that’s for a future article too.  Learning the home buying process early on puts you in control and eliminates unnecessary stress.  It’s not hard to do this – I usually go over the 13 page contract with my customers in barely 30 minutes.

Have questions, want to go over this with me?  Contact me for help.

Posted by & filed under Selling.

Professional photography is a must when you are selling your house.  There is nothing more important in a marketing plan.  Nothing.

Homeowners ask about commission and technology when interviewing agents to list their home.  The National Association of Realtors agrees.  NAR surveys have these as the #1 and #2 seller concerns.

Almost all buyers – the last figure I saw was 95% – look for homes online.  Naturally sellers want to know what an agent will do to make their home visible in web searches. Sounds logical, doesn’t it?

However, if what a buyer sees doesn’t excite them when they look at your home online, you’ve lost.  And lost big.  Being visible online doesn’t guarantee interest in your home. 

Professional photography is a must because the first thing a buyer sees is a picture of your house.  Not a video.  Not a wonderful write up.  A picture.  If that photo of your house grabs them so they want to look at more, you’ve won.  Half the battle is over because now you have a buyer getting motivated about your home.

So does commission matter?  Does your home’s internet placement matter?  Not if the first picture isn’t a “Wow!” and the rest just as good.

You have 1-2 seconds to capture a buyer with the first picture they see.  If they like it, they’ll click on to see more (assuming those photos are also excellent) and read your home’s details.

I take great pictures with my Nikon d7200 but I’m not a professional.  For every home I list, I hire a photographer.  It is that crucial to my homeowner’s success.  Video tours are nice but that comes after you’ve captured a buyer’s interest with knock your socks off photography.

Professional photography is a must always.  There is no substitute if you want to get the most buyers in to your home and achieve the highest price the market will bring.

Posted by & filed under Homeowner Tips.

Spring rains are flooding this house

Spring rains are coming.  Is your house ready?  Not sure what this means?  Why would anyone worry about it now?  I’ve got answers for you.

1st – It’s New Jersey.  Bergen County to be precise and spring means rain.  A good amount of it and in the form of drenching storms that can last days on end.  Yikes!

2nd – Spring is only 6 weeks away.  That’s right folks, it’s coming sooner than you think.  March 20th to be exact but to be safe, back that up to early March.

If your home is not prepared you will be a VERY unhappy camper.

Water in the basement

Remember when you bought your home?  The home inspection?  How worried you were about mold and water in the basement?  If you don’t get that house of yours ready now, you might end up with water in the basement and mold.

Here’s what you do –

Examine the exterior.  Look for vulnerable areas – where caulking has worn away, raw wood is exposed, clogged gutters etc.  Check for loose or missing roof tiles, flashing issues etc.  Get gutters and leaders cleaned out.  Check the slope of dirt around your house – rain should run away from and not into your foundation.

Clogged gutters and downspouts

I’m not an expert so I call in professionals – handyman, landscaper, roofer.  If your landscaper doesn’t do gutters, add in a gutter specialist.

Is your house ready for spring rains?  If not, it can cost you thousands and tons of aggravation.  The smart play is to spend a few hundred and avoid all this grief.  Be pro-active.  Don’t wait for trouble – eliminate it.

If you haven’t had trouble and think you’re safe, it can happen.

A Tenafly client who never had a problem like this for 23+ years ended up with a wet basement like the picture above due to clogged downspouts.  Don’t gamble with your house.

Need some help in finding the right professional like ASAP Waterproofing? Give us a call.

Posted by & filed under Buying.

63 W Hudson Ave in Englewood is a condominium complex known as Estates of Englewood.  I just listed unit A 11 there for $139,000.  This is a 1 bedroom condo apartment on the 2nd floor of what used to be a garden apartment complex.

Garden apartments were the subject of many condo and cooperative conversions in the mid to late 1980’s.  In fact many older apartment buildings were also converted into such shared ownership entities.  Estates of Englewood is popular for the following reasons – ease of commute and convenient to local shopping.

NJ Transit has a bus stop 2 blocks away where you can take the 166 bus into the Port Authority Bus Terminal at 41st Street in Manhattan and there’s also Coach USA’s 20 bus as well.  During rush hour, commuting express buses will get you there in less than 1 hour most mornings.

This location is also very convenient for your basic needs.  Within a 1-2 block walk you have nearly everything you’d need – dry cleaner, Walgreen’s, bagel/deli, luncheonette, coffee & pie shop, bank, Chinese takeout, liquor store and more.  Major shopping including a new expanded Shoprite Supermarket is 1 mile away along with Englewood’s wonderful business district and the Bergen County Performing Arts Center.

Because Estates of Englewood is a well run complex and so conveniently located, many condo units there have been purchased by investors.  55% (according to Preferred Management) are not owner occupied so you can’t get a mortgage.  When it comes to condo complexes, banks won’t loan unless the owner occupied rate is at least or over 50%.

A 11 is a very nice unit with a large living room, dining area and spacious bedroom. Floor are primarily oak hardwood and in good shape.  The living room faces the courtyard which is nice.

Maintenance is $250 per month (includes heat and water) and there’s on site coin operated laundry.   Property taxes are $3,940.  Just contact me to see this affordable start in ownership or investing at 63 W Hudson Ave in Englewood.

Posted by & filed under Buying.

14 N Browning Ave in Tenafly NJ is a handsome colonial home.  I just listed for $659,000.  It’s a great start to home ownership in Tenafly and might be exactly what you’re looking for.

This house has what most buyers ask for – good commute, great schools, updated condition, plenty of space, a deep yard and a quiet street.

Commuting to NYC is a breeze because there are 2 express buses to NYC (NJ Transit #166 and Coach USA #14) only 3 blocks away.  You will get to the Port Authority Bus Terminal in just under 1 hour most mornings.

Tenafly schools are renown for their excellence.  Tenafly, consequently, is a magnet for families with school aged children.  Go to the New Jersey School Performance Report This is a bi-annual survey New Jersey does on all of it’s school districts. You will find that Tenafly schools score very well.

Condition is great because 14 N Browning Ave in Tenafly is updated and renovated.  The kitchen is simply stunning.  it has beautiful granite counter tops, Italian tile back splash, custom Fabuwood cabinets and Kitchenaid stainless steel appliances.  In addition, the bathroom renovations are just as beautiful and also done with high end materials.

The basement rec room is nicely updated.  There is new wall to wall carpet and the room has been painted along with the rest of the interior.

Main level wood floors are refinished and stained to a beautiful warm hue.  As a result, the living and dining rooms have a very sophisticated appeal.

Space is generous.  You won’t find that tiny 3rd bedroom you’re so used to seeing elsewhere.  Bedrooms are big as are the living and dining rooms.

An added plus is gas hot air heat with central air for warmer months.

14 North Browning Ave in Tenafly is located on a quiet street and has everything you want.  If you’re looking for a home in Tenafly I’m sure this one won’t disappoint.

The market for Tenafly homes is very strong.  Offers for houses in updated and/or renovated condition are often received in less than 2 weeks.  As a result it’s not unusual to have more than 1 offer.  Contact me soon to look at 14 N Browning Ave in Tenafly before it really is too late.

 

Posted by & filed under Buying.

Shopping for a mortgage on the internet seems like a natural thing to do.  After all, we do everything on the web from Amazon to YouTube.  However when buying a home the right mortgage banker isn’t a website.

In our “I can do it myself” world we don’t want to be told what to do.  We can find everything we need on the web.  There is, however, one problem – algorithms can’t figure out which mortgage is best for us.

You’ve been taught to do it the wrong way by marketing gurus.  It’s their job to sell you and they’ve sold you on shopping for rates and that websites are easy.  These flawed concepts can hurt you badly.

Let’s take shopping for rates.  How can one bank be so much higher or lower than another when they get their money from the same source?  Rates fluctuate so if Bank A quotes a rate at 10 am and Bank B at 3:15 pm it’s no wonder there’s a difference.  And what fees are included in the rate they’re quoting you?

Shopping for rates is a waste of your time.  Comparing bank fees is not.  Think about this too: Today’s interest rate doesn’t matter.  The rate you get can be months away when you lock in your mortgage.

The right banker is not a website.  Sitting down with a mortgage professional from a FDIC direct lender is best.  He or she will take the time to listen to you, understand your needs and give you several different options.  They’ll also teach you the mortgage process.

The bottom line is that while the internet has information, when buying a home the right mortgage banker is essential.  That banker will give you the guidance and knowledge you need to make the best decisions.  No website can do that.

If you want the names of some great mortgage bankers, just let me know.

 

Posted by & filed under Buying.

Young happy couple shopping for new homeBuying a home can be scary.  C’mon.  Admit it.  This IS a big deal. No matter how much you research on the web, no one tells you where’s the best place to start your home search.  But, everyone tries to sell you.

You’ll find tons of agents saying “I’ve got 1 million years of experience, I’ve sold 1 zillion houses, I’m the #1 agent” and banks promising a mortgage in 15 minutes or less.  Sound familiar?

The best place to start is with you.  While this will probably make most agents pass out, the first question to ask is “Do I want to do this or do I feel I have to?”.

Buying a “big ticket item” is stressful.  Deep in your gray matter a little voice asks “Are you sure?”  This is normal.  As a result you do some trial runs before committing to buying a house.

You surf the web, go to a few open houses, take it slow.  One day you say to yourself, OK, I’m in.  Let’s go get a house. So now you’re up at 2 am looking online, spending Sundays at open houses and eventually looking with an agent.  homesearch-online

This is what most home buyers do.  It’s always a mistake.  Why?  Because the best place to start is with a banker who insists on a full pre-approval before you begin your home search.

I know, it’s a royal pain in the neck.  That horrible banker wants tons of paperwork.  This is work!  Yes it is.

While it’s easy to learn what you qualify for, that’s not enough.  Most of all you must  know what monthly payment is right for you.  No internet algorithm does this.

BLACK COUPLE BEING GRANTED A BANK LOANAn excellent banker will put you into the best loan for your needs and budget.  They’ll take the time to go over several mortgage options and to educate you fully.

So forget the space ships, forget Happy Banker who asks for nothing and the lousy agent who allows this to “close you”.  Do it right.

Need help in finding a good banker?  Stay tuned – that’s my next article in this series on Buying A Home.

 

Posted by & filed under Buying.

thinking-clip-artShould I wait until spring to buy a house? It seems to make sense.  I haven’t found a house yet, there’s not a lot to look at, I don’t want to move in lousy weather and all the holidays are coming up.  I’m stressed out enough.

Sounds like a typical home buyer at this time of year, doesn’t it?  You might view this as self serving but waiting until spring is not always the best idea.  Strategically, you have more leverage now than at any other time of year.

The National Association of Realtors tracks buyers.  A question they ask is “Why did you decide to buy a house when you did?”  The #1 answer has nothing to do with the market – it has to do with personal choice.

Home buyers bought their home because they felt it was the right time.  So if you thought it was the right time before, why isn’t it the right time now?  This question is why many home buyers have a nagging doubt about ending their home search and waiting until spring.

You’re right – waiting until Spring has some definite advantages.  There are more homes on best-time-to-buy-home-new-yorkthe market, the weather is nicer and it’s a lot easier to see the exterior when it isn’t covered by snow or falling leaves.  But in the spring there are many more buyers out so you have much more competition; sellers typically have the advantage in springtime.

This year waiting can definitely hurt you with rising mortgage rates.  Two weeks ago rates were 3.5%; now they’re 4% and moving higher as I write this.  No one has a perfect view of the future but it’s not realistic to expect rates to do anything but go up and that costs you more every month.

So the answer to the annual question of Should I wait until spring? is No.  My advice is to keep looking.  I know holidays are hectic but go out and look a few times over the next 7 weeks.  You might catch more of a bargain at the end of this year than you will in April or May.

Posted by & filed under Selling.

You’ve decided to sell your home so you call in some real estate agents for their opinions.  You select one after considering all the options and go on the market.  This seems reasonable but you’ve forgotten a very important step.  When selling your home be sure to get a home inspector first.

You want to get the most you can for your home.  You chose an agent based on marketing because marketing builds value.  A pre-listing home inspection does this too.  If you get a home inspector first you might save thousands.

Here’s how it works – You put your home up for sale, a buyer comes along with an offer you accept, the contract gets finalized and then the buyer does a home inspection.  If the inspection reveals issues, the buyer will try to:

A.  Negotiate to lower the sales price.

B  Make you fix something.hen

C.  Make you give them a credit towards their closing costs

D.  Do a combination of these.

Can you blame them for trying?  Can you blame them for being concerned if, for example, their home inspector tells them that your roof needs to be replaced in 6 months?  roof-inspector

Living in a house for years doesn’t always mean we know our homes intimately well.  I don’t know about you but I never went on top of my roof to see how it was doing or took the cover off my electrical box to check its wiring.  We really don’t know what a home inspector will find which is exactly why you do a pre-listing inspection.

home-inspector-elec Doing a pre-listing inspection gives you a huge advantage.  You can fix things often for much less than what a buyer will be quoted and eliminate minor issues that look like a list of headaches in an inspector’s report.

You’ve heard the cliche – the best defense is a good offense.  Put your offense on when selling your home.  Get a home inspector first and do a pre-listing inspection.

 

 

Posted by & filed under Bergen County LIfe.

halloween

Halloween happenings are beginning in many towns as recreation departments have costume parades scheduled, scary haunted houses and other events going on between now and October 31st.  If you have a little ghoul or goblin in your home and you live here, make sure you check out what your local school and recreation department have planned.

There are also some really neat events not connected to your school or rec department so check these Halloween happenings out –

Glen Rock’s Porch Light Theater has performances of it’s award winning original musical Stage Fright on October 28th and 30th.  A musical comedy about trick or treaters, this is a fun night out for the entire family.  halloween-witch-1600x900

The annual Zoo Boo at the Bergen County Zoo located inside Van Saun County Park in Paramus is another terrific Halloween happening for children.  This does tend to get sold out quickly so get your tickets right away.

In New Milford there is the amazing Nightmare on River Road with two levels which they describe as Under 13 and Adult.  This is an annual fund raiser that has become so popular that it runs for an entire month.

In Ridgewood tghosthe Ridgewood Y has a pumpkin painting event for young children that’s free and open to the public from 1-3:30 on October 29th.  All you have to do is bring your pumpkin with you and they’ll supply everything else.

For more Halloween happenings be sure to check with your local town hall, school and nature center.  Another great source of local event information are the following 2 websites – www.MyBergen.com as well as www.Bergen.com  Halloween happenings are all over Bergen County – find one that’s right for you and have a safe and happy Halloween!