Buying a Home in New Jersey
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- First Steps
- Finding Your Dream Home
- Featured Homes
- Choose a Realtor
- Find a Neighborhood
- Get Directions
First Steps in Home Buying
To start the ball rolling, you should:
Check Your Credit Rating:
Even if you are sure that your credit is excellent, it is wise to check on it at the outset. You’d be surprised how many mistakes are made due to faulty social security numbers, similar names or errors made by retailers. If there is an error, write a letter to the appropriate credit bureau. They are required to assist you in sorting things out and usually take about 30 days.
Determine How Much House You Can Afford
To save wasting time and energy looking for a home and, even worse, finding the home you want and not being able to afford it, it is best to talk with a mortgage counselor before starting your search. They will tell you how much house you can afford: this will be the amount of mortgage you qualify for plus the amount of your down payment. They will also be able to advise you on how to select from the many different programs they offer, and on current interest rates. Don’t forget that you will also have to factor in closing costs. These usually run at about 3% to 5% of the total purchase price.
Pre-qualification vs. Pre-Approval for a Mortgage
Any reputable mortgage representative will “pre-qualify” you. This is an informal estimate of your income, assets and present debt to estimate the approximate price range you should be looking in for your new home.
Obtaining a mortgage “pre-approval” is something different. It means that you have a lender’s written commitment to put together a loan for you, subject to certain contingencies including the house you want to purchase passing the lender’s appraisal. It also tells the seller that a mortgage lender has reviewed your credit, so that there are no hidden surprises. A pre-approval makes you a stronger buyer and puts you at an advantage in bidding for a home.
Look in newspapers and use the internet to investigate which neighborhoods offer homes that are in your price range. Drive around and visit neighborhoods that might interest you. You will soon get a feeling for your likes and dislikes.
Make a Wish List
Make a list of your priorities for your home. How many bedrooms and bathrooms do you need? How important is being close to public transportation? What about schools, community facilities, parking? If, like most people, you are working on a budget, separate your needs from your wants. If you happen to find a home offering some of the extras on your wish list, that’s a nice bonus, but remember that ultimately every home purchase is a compromise.
Choose a Realtor
You are ready to buy a home! The first place to start is by finding an experienced REALTOR® to help you. The right real estate professional can guide you through the entire process and help you to find your dream home. Remember you will be spending a lot of time talking to and working with your chosen REALTOR®, so make sure it is someone you really think you can work with.
The following are some questions to ask the agent you are considering working with:
- Do you represent the buyer or the seller? (See the consumer info statement on my home page).
- Are there any fees and who pays them?
- How much time will you be able to spend with me in my home search?
- Are you a full-time REALTOR®?
- How often will you communicate with me and how can I contact you?
- Do you have access to the Multiple Listing Service in your area and surrounding areas?
- Are you able to show me all the homes listed in my price range, including those listed by other agencies?
- Are you able to e-mail me new listings immediately as they come on the market?
- Will you show me the comparative pricing and sales for any neighborhood or area that I may consider purchasing a home in?
- Can you help me with local attorneys and home inspectors?
Buying a home from a “For Sale by Owner”.
Many buyers feel they can get a better price from someone selling their own home. Wrong! The sellers are trying to save the commission that a real estate professional would charge. They are not looking to save you money. In fact, you might pay more if the home is overpriced as you will have no one to guide you. There are other problems too:
- You will be dealing with an untrained novice who has no knowledge of real estate law, the code of ethics or disclosure.
- You will need an attorney to draw up your sales contract who will not have seen the property you are purchasing and may omit certain safeguards your REALTOR® may suggest.
- You will have to be your own negotiator. Remember that purchasing and selling a home is an emotional experience and this can cloud negotiations. You will also have to ensure that all the necessary details are taken care of before closing.