First Time Buyer, Tips For the Buyer

7 Important Steps To Help You Buy Your First NJ Home In 2017

Thinking about buying your first home? What an exciting time this is bound to be. And, also, what a (potentially) overwhelming, confusing, and stress-filled time. It can easily veer into scary territory if you’re not prepared and not surrounding yourself with professionals who can help guide you in the right direction.
buy your first home nj ocean county
These seven tips can help you make that dream of home ownership come true in 2017.
1. Work with the right real estate agent
The guy next door or your brother’s girlfriend’s cousin who just got his real estate license may be hungry to get your business, but that doesn’t mean he’s your best bet. An experienced agent quite simply knows things that someone who is brand new probably doesn’t. An experienced agent will also have important relationships in place that may be able to help buyers in every facet of the home purchase, including:
  • Finding houses that aren’t even listed yet
  • Finding homes that may be slightly outside of a buyer’s criteria but that are worthy of consideration
  • Leveraging industry relationships to get you great deals or better terms
  • Managing appraisals and inspections
  • Working through every step of the purchase process and handling any issues that pop up along the way
  • Negotiating a deal that works for both sides
2. Don’t be afraid to talk to multiple lenders
Your Realtor will most likely have several lenders they have worked with and can refer you to. You may also want to speak to loved ones and get a referral or two from someone they’ve worked with successfully. Each lender may have a different recommendation and/or knowledge of a special loan that works for you, so it makes sense to look at a few different options.
3. Mind your credit
Many people have no idea what their credit score is, but if you’re thinking about buying a home, knowledge is power. Different loans have different minimum credit score requirements, and it could be that your score doesn’t measure up for the best loan rates, or maybe you need to do some work to qualify for even the most lenient loan.
A good mortgage lender can advise you on your best options to raise your score, from removing any errors on your credit report, to paying any delinquent accounts, to exploring credit repair options. The earlier you learn your score and delve into the details with a qualified lender, the more time you have to address any issues you find.
4. Save, save, save
For many people, getting the down payment together is the hardest part of buying a home. And the closing costs can be an unwelcome surprise for those who weren’t expecting to have to come up with even more cash. When you first set out to buy a home, make sure you know how much you have to save. Your lender should be able to give you a pretty good ballpark based on a certain home price. Housing experts recommend adding 5% to that number just to be safe.
Even if you’ve never been a great saver in the past, there are strategies you can use that will help you build the nest egg you need for your down payment and closing costs, including these tips from nerdwallet:
  • Automatic transfers from your checking account to your savings can help to make the process mandatory – and maybe a little less painful.
  • Save raises and bonuses rather than spending them.
  • Set aside tax refunds.
  • Keep the change. At least a couple of banks have variations on this theme. For example, Bank of America allows debit card users to sign up for a service that rounds up purchases to the nearest dollar and puts the change into a linked savings account.
  • Visualize your goal. Slap big, beautiful photos of your dream house on the refrigerator, near your office workspace – and wrap a small one around the primary credit card in your wallet. You might charge less and save more.”
As for where to put that money while you watch it grow, experts recommend that “If the plan is to become a homeowner in the next 12 months, the money should be kept completely liquid. That means you can easily access it at any time,” said CNN Money. “The best way to do that is in a good old-fashioned savings account, Schulte said. Look for one with a higher yield. In today’s low rate environment, that probably means an online-only account like Ally or Synchrony Bank, which currently pay around 1% annually.”
5. Lock in your rate
Rates can be unpredictable. Locking in a rate when you get close to buying, which your lender will undoubtedly recommend, can protect you if rates rise. Many lenders also offer a one-time adjustment in case rates go down.
6. Stay at your job
Not happy at work and thinking about making a change? If you’re looking to buy a home, you may have to delay that plan. Part of your qualification for a mortgage will be based on your job history. Making a big change just before you buy or during the escrow process will be problematic. Lenders advise buyers to stay the course until after the home closes escrow.
7. Don’t open new credit cards or buy a new car
Your lender will spell out the do’s and don’ts of how to protect your credit when trying to buy a house, but if you haven’t yet talked to anyone and you think you’re getting close to be purchase-ready, that Kohl’s card you take out to save 20% on your $100 bill could cost you. Before you take out any new debt, check with a lender.
After reading this article, Melissa Christopher, Ocean County, NJ Realtor Associate® has the following insight:
Prior to your home search, you will work with a mortgage officer to get pre-qualified.  These tips, the professional will most likely go over with you.  Heed their advice! Do not think oh it won’t matter if you go and buy a new car during the process.  I assure you it will!


Buying Tips, Choosing An Agent, Choosing An Agent- Buyer, Preparing to Sell, Uncategorized

6 Reasons You Should Never Buy or Sell a Home Without an Agent

 It’s a slow Sunday morning. You’ve just brewed your Nespresso and popped open your laptop to check out the latest home listings before you hit the road for a day of open houses.

You’re DIYing this real estate thing, and you think you’re doing pretty well—after all, any info you might need is at your fingertips online, right? That and your own sterling judgment.

Oh, dear home buyer (or seller!)—we know you can do it on your own. But you really, really shouldn’t. This is likely the biggest financial decision of your entire life, and you need a Realtor® if you want to do it right. Here’s why.

1. They have loads of expertise

Want to check the MLS for a 4B/2B with an EIK and a W/D? Real estate has its own language, full of acronyms and semi-arcane jargon, and your Realtor is trained to speak that language fluently.

Plus, buying or selling a home usually requires dozens of forms, reports, disclosures, and other technical documents. Realtors have the expertise to help you prepare a killer deal—while avoiding delays or costly mistakes that can seriously mess you up.

2. They have turbocharged searching power

The Internet is awesome. You can find almost anything—anything! And with online real estate listing sites such as yours truly, you can find up-to-date home listings on your own, any time you want. But guess what? Realtors have access to even more listings. Sometimes properties are available but not actively advertised. A Realtor can help you find those hidden gems.

Plus, a good local Realtor is going to know the search area way better than you ever could. Have your eye on a particular neighborhood, but it’s just out of your price range? Your Realtor is equipped to know the ins and outs of every neighborhood, so she can direct you toward a home in your price range that you may have overlooked.

3. They have bullish negotiating chops

Any time you buy or sell a home, you’re going to encounter negotiations—and as today’s housing market heats up, those negotiations are more likely than ever to get a little heated.

You can expect lots of competition, cutthroat tactics, all-cash offers, and bidding wars. Don’t you want a savvy and professional negotiator on your side to seal the best deal for you?

And it’s not just about how much money you end up spending or netting. A Realtor will help draw up a purchase agreement that allows enough time for inspections, contingencies, and anything else that’s crucial to your particular needs.

4. They’re connected to everyone

Realtors might not know everything, but they make it their mission to know just about everyone who can possibly help in the process of buying or selling a home. Mortgage brokers, real estate attorneys, home inspectors, home stagers, interior designers—the list goes on—and they’re all in your Realtor’s network. Use them.

5. They adhere to a strict code of ethics

Not every real estate agent is a Realtor, who is a licensed real estate salesperson who belongs to the National Association of Realtors®, the largest trade group in the country.

What difference does it make? Realtors are held to a higher ethical standard than licensed agents and must adhere to a Code of Ethics.

6. They’re your sage parent/data analyst/therapist—all rolled into one

The thing about Realtors: They wear a lot of different hats. Sure, they’re salespeople, but they actually do a whole heck of a lot to earn their commission. They’re constantly driving around, checking out listings for you. They spend their own money on marketing your home (if you’re selling). They’re researching comps to make sure you’re getting the best deal.

And, of course, they’re working for you at nearly all hours of the day and night—whether you need more info on a home or just someone to talk to in order to feel at ease with the offer you just put in. This is the biggest financial (and possibly emotional) decision of your life, and guiding you through it isn’t a responsibility Realtors take lightly.

After reading this article, Melissa Christopher, Ocean County, NJ Realtor has the following insight:

Think you can sell a home without an agent?  You can, but…. Are you a seasoned pro?  Trust the real estate professionals with your largest investment.  Although you may be able to get a buyer on your home and you think save your commission, most FSBO contacts we have met will tell you it was a roller coaster/stressful transaction.  Let me make it as easy as possible for you, by being your listing agent.  Contact me with questions you may have anytime.  Not only do we guide you on price, we market the home bringing in buyers and ultimately work on getting you to the table.  Don’t be blinded because you wanted to save some money at the closing table or through the process.  Hire a real estate professional in your area!

Buying Tips, Choosing An Agent- Buyer, First Time Buyer, Researching to Buy, Uncategorized

Real Estate Survival Guide: Buyer’s Checklist

Refer to this 10-step checklist to get you through the homebuying process.

1. Figure out how much house you can afford.

  • Calculate your monthly income and debt.

  • Check your credit report and FICO score.

  • Use FrontDoor’s mortgage calculator.

  • Figure out your down payment.

2. Get pre-approved for a mortgage.

  • Choose a type of mortgage.

  • Speak to at least five lenders and mortgage brokers.

  • Shop for the best interest rates and programs.

3. Determine what you want and need in a home.

  • Choose a location (downtown, urban, suburban, rural).

  • Choose a type (single family, townhouse, condo, loft).

  • Choose a price range.

  • Choose a size.

  • Choose an architectural style.

4. Research your target neighborhoods.

  • Look online for information on schools, crime rate, traffic and zoning.

  • Determine your work commute.

  • Scout local amenities, such as parks, shops and restaurants.

5. Work with a buyer’s agent who knows the neighborhood.

  • Get referrals.

  • Consider working with an exclusive buyer’s agent.

  • Interview at least three agents.

  • Look for experience and good chemistry.

6. Search for homes in the MLS and For Sale By Owner (FSBO).

  • Browse listings online, including

  • Ask your agent to set up tours of homes that fit your criteria.

  • Check local newspapers.

  • Pick up flyers and attend open houses.

7. Research each home you want to buy.

  • Ask your agent for comps to estimate the property’s fair market value.

  • Ask the seller’s reason for selling.

  • Review all property disclosures.

  • Find out about liens, easements or other restrictions.

8. Make an offer and negotiate.

  • Determine the purchase price.

  • Include contingencies, such as financial, inspection or purchase.

  • Spell out any special requests and repairs you want included in the sale.

  • Determine an earnest money amount.

  • Define a move-in date.

  • Once both parties agree to the terms, sign the Purchase and Sale Agreement.

9. Finalize the deal.

  • Get the house appraised.

  • Get a professional home inspection.

  • Consider getting specific inspections for structural engineering, roof and termites.

  • Use the appraisal and inspection reports to re-negotiate if necessary.

  • Choose a home insurance company.

  • Complete the loan process with the lender.

  • Do a walk-through inspection prior to closing.

  • Set aside cash for the closing costs and down payment.

10. Close the purchase.

  • Review the settlement document at least 2 days before closing to see how funds will be collected and distributed.

  • Get a cashier’s check for the amount you need to bring to closing, including the down payment and closing costs.

Researching to Buy, Tips For the Buyer

It’s Warming Up Outside, How About the Housing Market to Buy?

If you have been waiting for the warm weather so you can begin your home search, the time is almost here for you.  With any luck, the weather will stay warm and you’ll see the sellers who have been holding out until Spring, begin listing.

Don’t forget though, there are homes on the market now!  You can get a jump start and begin your search so when new inventory comes on, you’ve already been through the homes that are on now and can view new homes as they come on so you don’t miss out.  Get your paperwork together, get pre-qualified, and find a Realtor in your area that you wish to work with.  There area many real estate listings now that are just waiting for the perfect new owners… YOU!

Need home buying tips?  Check out my top 5 blog posts for tips for home buyers.  Remember, you can contact me at anytime.  I’m here to help!

1. 10 Things Every New Home Buyer Needs to Know

2. Real Estate Survival Guide- Buyers Checklist

3. Home Buyers 7 Biggest Regrets: Which Will Haunt You?

4. Is Your Dream Home Out of Your Price Range? There’s Hope!

5.  5 Ways You Didn’t Know You Could Save For A Down Payment