Buying Tips, First Time Buyer, Researching to Buy, The Buying Process, Tips For the Buyer

Do I Need An Inspection?

  • To protect your interests, ensure that you have the financial & physical means necessary to complete the purchase and have the desired move in, it is advised to conduct your real estate transaction utilizing licensed and professional inspectors.  What will an inspector do?:​
  • Follow the standards of practice for the given inspection type.  You cannot utilize a report from a family friend who is a contractor in negotiations for example. Hire a professional, licensed inspector! ​
  • An inspector will not grant you a pass / fail.  He/she will provide you the information you need to continue on.​
  • An inspector may recommend consulting repair specialists – perform your due diligence!​
  • Once your inspection is complete, you can then create a repair/request list.  It can be specific items that you wish to have addressed or you can ask for a credit which typically you would want an estimate from a repair company to back it up.  Offer the seller the opportunity to review and respond.  Sellers can offer to fix items, offer a credit or do nothing.​
  • Keep your expectations in check.  Sellers are not going to necessarily offer a credit for cosmetic items nor for items that you failed to notice during the initial process.  For example, the price of the home may have already taken into account it needing a new roof.  I always advise to look up, look down, look around prior to making an offer!  The seller may have accepted a lower offer from you and if you then ask for an additional dollar amount back, they may not be financially able to do so.  As in turn, you need to ensure you are financially able to carry on with the purchase.​
  • Every home will generate a report! There is​
    no perfect house.  Utilize it as a to do list!​
Buying Tips, Choosing An Agent, Choosing An Agent- Buyer, Researching to Buy, Tips For the Buyer

Buyer’s Agent Role

For most people, buying a home is generally the most expensive transaction they will make in their lifetime. And during this costly purchase, there are a lot of processes to go through. Hiring a real estate agent such as myself as your exclusive buyers agent to represent you in the purchase of your home will prove beneficial. ​

Buyers aren’t responsible for the commission payout for their agent. (With the exception of special, rare circumstances.) So without the cost of paying an agent out of pocket, you’ll receive the experience and guidance to help you through a process that could otherwise be emotionally exhausting if you are going it alone. You also get to have access to view more homes and have a clearer view on how the market is in your area as I have magic keys & localized data!  Buyers agents such as myself, are trained negotiators and know the process! Need help aligning your other professionals?  I can help!  ​

Unfortunately, sites like Zillow, Trulia and REALTOR.COM can contain outdated listings, properties that are not available and misrepresent property values. I will be able to send you a list of active properties for sale, help you go out to view them and obtain exclusive information from the sellers and agents.  I can help you find the perfect home BEFORE somebody else gets it under contract!  ​

I will work hard to help you find your dream home and avoid the pitfalls of buying a home by doing it on your own.  I am an agent who knows the area, the market and  love to find dream homes!   Contact me for all previews and questions so that I can guide you through the process and continue to ​
adapt to your needs. ​

Laws in NJ about agency can be found in the ​
Consumer Information Statement. ​

Buying Tips, Choosing An Agent- Buyer, First Time Buyer, Researching to Buy, The Buying Process, Tips For the Buyer

Your Dream Home Questionnaire

Here are some questions to help you establish your search parameters and allow your agent to assist you.  This will help you set  a realistic understanding of what the market offers in your price point while searching! 

  • Town(s)You’d Like To Buy In:  ________________________________________________ ​
  • What is your primary reason for searching? 1st Time Buyer / Upsize / Downsize / Relocation / Secondary  ​
  • Current living situation? Rent / Own / with Family ​
  • When Do You Want To Purchase By: ___________________________________________​
  • Do you have a Pre-approval? Yes / No​
  • Maximum Price that you are Pre-Approved for:  __________________________________​
  • Has the mortgage pro reviewed documents ie tax returns, statements, pay stubs? Yes / No​
  • Are you currently working with an agent? Yes / No​
  • How long have you been actively home searching? Just started / 1 month / 3 months / 6 months /Longer​
  • Do you prefer a 1 Floor / 2 Floor home / Something different?​
  • Minimum Bedrooms: _______________    Minimum Bathrooms  ______________​
  • Do you prefer a Tub / Stall Shower in the main bathroom? ​
  • Preferred Square Footage?:  ________________​
  • Basement? Yes Has to Have / Wouldn’t mind / No​
  • Garage? 1 car / 2 car / 3 car / Added Bonus if it has one/ Has to have (circle then car#)​
  • Your Most Desired Features:  _________________________________________________​
  • What do you not want?  ____________________________________________________​
  • How long do you anticipate owning the home? <5 years / 5-10 years / 10 years +​
  • Do you entertain a lot? Yes / No   Where do you entertain most? ____________________​
  • Do you have any pets? Yes / No    If so, how many pets? (HOA restrictions) ____________​
  • Do you need a Fenced Yard? Yes / No ​
  • Do you want a Formal Living Room AND a family room? Yes / No​
  • Do you want a Dining Room? Yes / No​
  • Do you want a Kitchen Island? Yes / No​
  • Do you want a Kitchen Pantry? Yes / NO​
  • Do you want a Fireplace? Yes – woodburning/ Yes – Gas /  No / Wouldn’t mind​
  • Do you need a Home Office? Yes / No  Can it be on the 2nd floor? Yes / No​
  • Do you want a Pool? Inground / Above / Either / No​
  • Do you have a particular lot type in mind? ______________________________________​
  • Do you have to have Central air conditioning? Yes / No ​
  • What kind of parking do you require? Driveway / On street / Garage​
  • What condition do you prefer? Move In / Average / Fix up​
  • Are you purchasing with: Cash / Conventional / FHA / VA / 203k or rehab / Alternate​
  • What kind of down payment? 0% / 3.5% (FHA) / 5% / 10% / 15% / 20% / Over 20%​
  • Do you have cash for closing costs? Yes / No / Will need seller credit​
Buying Tips, Choosing An Agent- Buyer, First Time Buyer, Renting vs. Buying, Researching to Buy, Tips For the Buyer, Uncategorized

Before You Start House Hunting


  1. Is owning a home right for you?​
  2. Have you determined the desired location? ​
  3. What is your lifestyle? Condo / Single Family / 55+​
  4. Are you financially prepared for the purchase? ​
  5. Have you considered the costs of home ownership​
  6. Have you established credit & credit history?  ​
  7. Have you planned on a down payment? 20% is a misconception! Beyond a down payment, you will need prepaid items & closing costs (seller concessions can help to offset the closing costs) ​
  8. What are your current & immediate future needs?​
  9. What is your current situation- Renting / Own / Family​
  10. Speak to a mortgage professional! They can let you know if your credit history / score is sufficient (and guide you if it isn’t)!  They will calculate your affordability based on debt to income ratio (and guide you if you need to improve it to obtain a higher budget)!  They will assist you… ​
  • By reviewing documents & getting you Pre-Approved !​
  • Advise of down payment needed & cash for closing ​
  • Provide estimated monthly mortgage payments​
  • Advise you of mortgage types that exist and what you qualify for​
  • Advise on the conditions of the loan that you will need to satisfy prior to closing​
  • Your closing time frame​
  • Remain in constant contact with you through your purchase!​
  • Advise you on what to do and NOT to do during the purchase – ie change jobs, make large purchases, open new credit accounts, etc.​
  • Be a KEY part in your purchase! ​
  • Help you with all of your mortgage needs!​
Buying Tips, Choosing An Agent- Buyer, Researching to Buy, The Buying Process, Uncategorized

Buyer Questionnaire

No matter where you are in the buying process- just researching, ready to look, ready to purchase, you are going to need to know what it is you are looking for. Searches many times evolve.  But thinking about what you may want and knowing what you are initially starting with, helps significantly in the process and can reduce the amount of time you spend actively looking.

Initially, you begin looking online and driving by listings or through neighborhoods.  That is a great first step.  This however, is very different than physically walking through homes.  Every home is different in design/structure and every person has different uses for the home.

Sit down and think about your use for the home and what it is you need for your life.  Using the below sheet (there is a jpg and pdf printable), you may be able to identify some items to focus on.

I always tell my clients, you can change paint and flooring, you can do some remodeling with walls, however, you can’t change the location or the property lines.  Adding rooms will require additions to be put on down the line as well.

As you are going through homes, you will begin to narrow it down.  You will sometimes wish that you could take the kitchen from one home, the yard from a second home and the pool from a third home and then one day, it’ll click.

When agents are working for you searching for listings, we type in your parameters which gives us the results to share with you.  The biggest ones are generally: Township(s), Bedrooms, Bathrooms, Garage, Basement, Budget.  As I said, when you start going inside homes, you may realize that the 4 bedrooms your search started with, is too big or too small for your family.  It’s a process.  I try and keep it as stress free as possible 🙂


buyer questionnaireNJ Real Estate Buyer Questionnaire – Printable PDF

Researching to Buy, Tips For the Buyer, Uncategorized

How to Select a Neighborhood When Buying a Home in NJ

Whether you are buying a home in a town that you are familiar with, or a town that you will be new to, you still have to choose a home and a neighborhood.

How many times do you see a home online and think wow i love that home!  Only to drive by it and see that the neighborhood isn’t what you are looking for.  Every person has their own wish list.  Ensure that you have an idea of what it is that you are looking for.  You clearly don’t have a crystal ball, but think about, how long will I be in that home?  Will I be having children next year?  Will we fit?  Will my children be moving out to college in a couple of years?  This will not only decide possibly on the home you buy, but also the neighborhood in which you choose to live.

For example, if you have small children, you may wish to move to a neighborhood with a park in it or one where the children can ride their bikes to the park.  For example, Barnegat Pines in Lacey, NJ has a great park over by the lake for kids to play in.  Do you want for them to walk or ride their bike?  Or will you drive them?

Perhaps you know that you will be retiring in 2 years and you love to fish.  You may decide that now is the right time to move into a community such as Sunrise Beach or off Beach Blvd so that you can walk, drive or ride your bike down to the bay beach, sit and fish.  Are you a boater or looking to buy a boat?  You may wish to buy a home in Beach Blvd so that you have access to a dock as opposed to Cranberry Hill or Barnegat Pines where you are inland.

Everybody has their own needs, wants, wish list.  Choosing a neighborhood isn’t all that easy, especially if you are not familiar with the area.  So what do you do?  Research!  Talk to people.  Drive around and walk around at different times of day and night.  Not everything can be done online nowadays.  You can’t ask Alexa what she thinks of Cranberry Hill for a boater.  The best suggestion I can give is – do your research!  This isn’t a shirt you bought online and want to return!

First Time Buyer, Researching to Buy, Tips For the Buyer, Uncategorized

Don’t Be Naughty: Important Etiquette Tips When Visiting Open Houses

Looking for a home can be a tedious process, and if you’ve been to multiple showings and in and out of open houses – and, especially, if you’ve been outbid on one or more homes you were counting on – you might be starting to lose your cool.
On the flip side, if you’ve ever sold a home, you’re probably well aware of the grueling process of cleaning up after folks who’ve been stomping through your home, leaving their mess and their footprints and their bad manners behind. So, don’t be like them. Check your muddy shoes at
the door, but bring your etiquette inside. Need more details about the do’s and don’ts of touring homes? Read on.
open house tips nj
Wipe your feet
Or, better yet, remove your shoes. Remember that the sellers have presumably gone to great links to clean and stage their home, which probably means freshly shampooed carpets. Your muddy footprints will not be received well.
Don’t leave a present behind
If you must use the restroom while touring homes for sale, make sure you do a few things first:
“In case you’re wondering, yes, it’s OK to use the bathroom if you absolutely can’t wait, but asking the host first can avoid embarrassment,” said The Tennessean.
Check that the plumbing is working – If it’s a vacant or brand-new house, that might not be the case.
Look for toilet paper – You don’t want to be left in a drip-dry situation.
Flush! – Sounds like a given, but you’d be surprised.
Clean up after yourself – Just because you don’t lift the seat at home doesn’t mean you shouldn’t here. And if you just can’t bring yourself to do it, wipe up the seat when you’re done. Come on. You know this.
No stealing
Yeah, it happens. More than you might think. If your moral compass isn’t enough to keep you from getting sticky fingers in an open house, consider this: More and more houses now have security cameras that will undoubtedly catch you in the act.
Keep your hands off the meds
Yes, this would seem to be a given as well. But prescription medication is a temptation for some visitors. In some cases, “fake buyers” tour homes for sale with the express purpose of stealing. In fact, “The most commonly stolen item is prescription medicine, followed closely by jewelry and small electronics” during home showings, said NOLO.
Home sellers who don’t secure valuables and medications are “just asking for it,” according to some housing experts. But that doesn’t mean you have to answer. That goes for medications you may consider harmless, like Tylenol or Tums, too. Sellers probably can’t keep people from looking in their medicine cabinet, because: storage. But touching their stuff is another story. When all else fails, remember the Golden Rule, and do unto others.
Don’t rifle through the homeowners’ things
Speaking of opening medicine cabinets…Is it acceptable to open and look inside closets and kitchen and bathroom cabinets and drawers? Absolutely. But going through dresser drawers, nightstands, and other private spaces that have zero relevance when it comes to purchasing the home – not so much. Remember, you’re looking at the storage space, not casing the place. You can be curious all day. But acting on that curiosity is uncool.
Be careful where you sit
“Avoid sitting on the furniture. It might not be real,” said The Tennessean. “Growing numbers of Realtors are using cardboard or inflatable furniture to decorate empty rooms.” Messing up a newly made bed or smooshing perfectly placed pillows takes away from the staging, so, if you do have a seat on the furniture, it’s good form to fluff it up again before you leave.
Don’t disregard special requests
Is it frustrating that you can’t get into the third bedroom because the seller’s kitty is locked up in there during the showing? Sure. Do you want to be responsible for the cat escaping and getting hit by a car because you ignored the note that says, “Cat in here, please don’t enter?” Nope. If you’re really interested in the home and not seeing that room is a deal breaker, you can always set up a second visit.
Keep an eye your kids
You may be tempted to let them run off and see their potential bedrooms, but if they’re out of eyesight and earshot, they could potentially be doing damage to the house, or getting injured. You don’t want to create a situation where there’s liability involved…especially when you’re trying to buy a house! recommends letting the listing agent know if you plan to bring your kids so they can help you navigate any potential hazards.



First Time Buyer, Researching to Buy, The Buying Process

Don’t Be Shocked by These Hidden Costs of Buying a Home

When you’re thinking about buying your first home, it might seem like it’s all about the down payment. You save for years to have it, and you base a good portion of your home-buying budget on it.
Next comes the mortgage. How much will you owe each month in principal, interest, taxes, and insurance? How does that compare with how much you currently pay as a renter?
If you’ve figured out how to tackle those two huge expenses, you might think you have it made in the shade. With lemonade! But the hard truth is that those are far from the only expenses you’ll incur when you buy a house.
In fact, there are lots of hidden costs to anticipate. These fees might affect your overall budget, timeline for buying, and what kind of home you want to buy. It’s important to consider them early in the process, before you fall in love with a place you can’t afford.

Expenses you’ll learn about while home shopping

1. Closing costs and other fees
The house has to be appraised to find its fair market value, the property records must be checked to make sure the seller has full rights to sell you the home, the real estate agent has to be paid for her work, and so on.
The seller might pick up some of these costs, but you’ll have to shoulder some of the burden. We’re talking about fees that, all together, can add up to a few thousand dollars. And you can expect closing costs to run from 2% to 5% of your home’s value.
Your mortgage lender must explain all the fees to you, so if anything confuses you, ask for more information.
2. Home inspection
This is a must to make sure you’re not buying a home with major structural issues. A home inspection will take a few hours and cost up to $500, but it can save you a lot of grief in the future.
3. Home warranty
If you’re buying an older home with appliances that are no longer covered by manufacturer warranties, getting a home warranty could be a good call. They generally cost a few hundred dollars per year and protect things such as kitchen appliances, ceiling and exhaust fans, plumbing, the furnace, and the sump pump. Inevitably, you’ll face a major repair on your new home, so consider whether a home warranty will save you from that expense.

Expenses you’ll encounter after you move in

Owning a home is full of hidden costs. Some cost you actual money, while others cost you time, energy, and happiness (which, let’s face it, also have an equivalent in money!). So even though you might not have to deal with these expenses until after you move in, you should definitely factor them into your decision.
1. HOA and condo fees
If your new home is a condo, or part of a community with a homeowners association, you’ll pay a monthly fee toward maintenance of shared community features. The more amenities you get (e.g., a pool, doorman, roof deck, or community center), the more you’ll pay.
The upside: Your HOA might care for things that save you money and time, like maintaining the landscaping around your townhouse.
If you’re considering a condo, ask for information about the HOA’s budget and cash reserves. If it decides to make a repair to the building that’s not part of its annual budget, you and your neighbors could be slapped with a special assessment to raise money for the unanticipated project—and this could cost you a few thousand bucks!
2. Maintenance, repairs, renovations, and redecorating
Maintaining your home—e.g., cleaning windows and gutters, keeping up the landscaping, and making small updates—typically costs about 1% of your home’s value each year. And that’s not including large unexpected repairs, which can get pricey.
Plus, once you move into your new home, you’re going to want to put your stamp on it.
“People always buy new furniture when they move. The apartment furniture isn’t good enough for the new house,” says Sophia Bera, a financial planner and founder of Gen Y Planning. “This can be really expensive, and I’ve known a few people who’ve financed the furniture, but then they spend more than they were planning on.”
You might also opt to renovate part of the house right when you move in; if that’s the case, make sure to take that into account when considering what home you can afford.
3. Utilities
Those first few utility bills might shock you. For one thing, renters often don’t pay separately for water, trash pickup, and sewer. And if your new home is larger than your previous rental, you’ll pay considerably more for electricity and gas.
4. Commuting
If your daily commute changes, you might need to buy a new car, or pay more to maintain and fuel the car you have.
A longer commute also bleeds into your free time. Don’t underestimate how much you’ll be affected by “just” another 15 minutes each way.
5. Community
Sometimes finding a home that has the amenities you want for the price you can afford means moving to a totally different part of town—and leaving your neighborhood friends behind.
Bera, who opted to spend a bit more to live near friends when she recently moved to Austin, TX, counsels her financial planning clients who are buying their first homes. All too often, people don’t consider the effect of moving miles away for the perfect house.
“The big thing I see is how much it changes their lifestyle. It might not be as convenient to do the activities they love or see their close friends, so they miss out on a lot of these things.” she said. “They have to create a whole new community. One thing we often don’t ask ourselves is: What is the price of community?”


After reading this article, Melissa Christopher, Ocean County, NJ Realtor® Associate has the following insight:
Speak with your mortgage professional and your real estate agent to ensure that you have the funds to cover the expenses of buying a home.  Don’t skimp on the essentials though!  There are programs and negotiation tactics for buyers.  Do your research and consult a professional to assist you!
First Time Buyer, Researching to Buy, The Buying Process, Tips For the Buyer

9 Reasons To Visit A Home At Night Before Buying

Everyone knows someone who knows someone who moved into what seemed like a perfectly great house on a perfectly nice street only to have a complete nightmare unfold. But the truth is that your neighbor doesn’t have to be practicing Santeria on the front lawn for you to hate where you live. So many things can turn what seems like your dream home into a disaster. You may not be able to avoid every one of them, but doing your due diligence can help.
Step #1: Visit the homes you are considering at night. You may get a completely different perspective on the neighborhood once the streetlights go out – one that could change how you feel about living there. Need some concrete reasons to visit at night? How about:
1. To find out if your neighbors are weird
If you toured the house during a weekday or even on a weekend, you may not have gotten a true feel for who your neighbors could be. Come at night, and you might see the guy next door walking his pet iguana in the nude (the guy, not the iguana), or see the shady couple from around the corner make their nightly pilgrimage to the elementary school to ride the swings in a very curiously happy state.
2. To figure out if it’s not active enough
Do you even have neighbors? You may not be too sure if they never emerge from their house. If you’re looking for a social experience in your new neighborhood and the one your potential new house is in looks like a ghost town after 5, this might give you second thoughts.
3. To see if it’s too active
There can be too much of a good thing. If you swing by and see that everyone is out mixing, it may make you look further into how often this occurs. Does living there mean you’ll never have time to play a board game with the family or sit and watch your reality shows, or even prepare your own dinner or take a bath? That could be a deal breaker.
4. To gauge the noise level
Noise ordinances aren’t something homebuyers want to have to familiarize themselves with, but, for some, that’s the reality of life in a loud neighborhood. You may not know that the dog across the street barks for 20 minutes every time the sun goes down – and then every time someone has the nerve to walk by the house – or that several teenagers on the street have formed a garage band and their practice schedule is not compatible with your children’s sleeping schedules until you’re spent some time there at night.
5. To figure out the commute
Drive from work to your potential new house and make sure the commute is doable. Even if it’s around the same distance to work as your current home, traffic patterns could make the drive unbearable.
6. To make sure there are enough kids
Envisioning a neighborhood where the kids all play together on the street and ride their bikes and families are out walking with their dogs and strollers (just not every minute of every day!)? Spend some time in the neighborhood before and after dinner. If you don’t see much activity in the time before the sun goes down, there may not be much to see at all.
7. To make sure the mixed-use neighborhood isn’t a little too mixed
The idea of being within walking distance to shops, cafes, and restaurants sounds great to many people. But have you thought about how the noise and traffic that’s created in areas like this might affect your peace of mind at night?
8. To ensure it’s safe
A neighborhood can look fine during the day and transform to something a little iffy when the lights go out. Make sure you check out the park down the street to make sure it isn’t a drug hang and that area businesses don’t attract a questionable crowd in the evenings.
9. Because there could be a serial killer living next door
Are you going to find out in one night of sitting outside in your car or strolling down the street? No, but you may observe some odd behavior that gives you pause. Maybe it’s just a gut feeling you get spending time in the neighborhood at night. If you’re trying to decide between a few homes, this may provide the tipping point you need to make the right choice.


After reading this article, Melissa Christopher, Ocean County, NJ Realtor® Associate  has the following insight:
Before you buy a home, research!  Driving by at all times of the day and night will show you the type of environment in which you are moving into.  Every neighborhood has their own schematics, by driving by throughout the day you’ll learn about your neighbors, traffic, the environment and any outside factors such as airplanes!  Know before you buy by doing your own research.  As every person has their own wants and needs.  For example, are you in a school zone where you will be stopped for buses before and after school?  There is a neighborhood I love in Lacey, NJ- the homes are gorgeous! But… it is located essentially bordering the Middle School.  In the mornings and afternoons, with my work schedule the buses would be a thorn.  But to somebody who travels different times, it won’t bother them!