Creating Curb Appeal North Jersey Buyers Can’t Resist (with Plantings that Deer Avoid)

Ah, the merry month of May when all those April showers bring May flowers. It’s planting and gardening time in northern NJ!

Beautiful landscaping creates awesome curb appeal that your neighbors and potential home buyers will enjoy looking at. And as a North Jersey homeowner, you’ll love driving up to your home and seeing lush plantings and colorful flowers, or stepping out into your backyard where you’ve created a landscaped oasis.

Although the New Jersey real estate market is still super-hot, it’s still important to make your property as attractive as possible to buyers—while also deterring hungry deer who roam many of our North Jersey suburban towns. Here are some landscaping tips to boost curb appeal and reduce deer appeal.

Spring planting for optimal color and beauty

Most flowers bloom in mid-spring and there is plenty of late-spring color to enjoy in North Jersey. Later bloomers include lilacs, mountain laurels, and hawthorns.

If you like tending a vegetable garden and have a sunny spot, it’s time to get your veggies on—and harvest them during the summer into the fall. Corn, melons, squash, beans, peas, carrots and radishes can be planted in May; greens may still be planted (spinach, lettuce). And let’s not forget those Jersey tomatoes!

Get the green going

If you use a landscaping company, talk to your contractor about how to keep your green grass healthy. You may need to plant a different variety of grass depending on your property’s soil and sun conditions. Watering and feeding your lawn is important, of course. In addition to traditional fertilizers, there are organic options that don’t rely on harmful chemicals to nourish your lawn. Edge the grass around sidewalks, paths, and garden beds to keep it neat.

Pop the color

Add fresh greenery, bushes with colored leaves or flowering shrubs to your garden beds. Hanging plants on the porch add a colorful touch as do planters near your doorway, around the pool, or on the patio. Laying mulch down in the garden beds also adds color (shades of brown, black) and helps keep in the moisture. You can plant flowers around standalone trees, and add brick or stone borders to dress up your beds.
Add planters with seasonal flowers around your patio, porch, and under the windows.

Tactics for keeping deer out of your garden bed

Many NJ homeowners want to take the natural route and avoid chemical deer sprays and repellents. Or they don’t want to install (and see) deer fencing around their shrubs. Deer are easily startled, so hanging wind chimes or placing wind spinners around garden can help, as will a motion-activated water sprinkler to scare them away.

You can use botanical solutions as well. Deer do not like strong fragrances. For this reason, many homeowners:

  • Sprinkle aromatic spices on their plantings
  • Tie scented bar soap around their gardens
  • Plant aromatic perennial herbs throughout the garden such as thyme, mint, lavender, tarragon, chives, sage, and rosemary
  • Plant a deer-resistant wildflower mix
  • Use a little chemical-free repellent (and fertilizer) such as blood meal or fish emulsion

Deer-resistant plants

There is an extensive array of deer-resistant plants available in New Jersey, but they are not all surefire solutions and may not fully deter deer. Aromatic plants and shrubs with thorn-like leaves will help keep them away. Rutgers University has compiled a comprehensive list of plants, rated from A to D, depending on how frequently they may appear on deer menus (and be destroyed). There are annuals and perennials (shade and sun varieties), ornamental grasses, groundcover, and shrubs.

Get ready to show your home

If you’re listing your home on the real estate market, and you’ve completed your curb-appeal preparations, contact CENTURY 21 Cedarcrest Realty. We’ll market your home to buyers who are ready, pre-approved, and anxious to continue the beautiful work you’ve done. We’re experts in Essex County and Passaic County real estate, and work with home buyers and sellers throughout northern NJ. We’ll guide you through every step of the transaction. And your real estate associate might even bring you flowers to celebrate your closing . . . or a beautiful plant for your next home.

Tips for Finding the Right House for People with Disabilities

Physical disabilities require that homeowners have greater accessibility in their homes. Finding a house that meets your aesthetic desires and mobility needs can be somewhat challenging. And accessibility means different things to different people.

At CENTURY 21 Cedarcrest, our goal is to always make the home buying journey as stress-free as possible. We offer these tips for house hunters with disabilities.

  1. Check with your real estate agent about listings specific to accessible housing. Choose a real estate brokerage that knows the areas you prefer very well, including the neighborhoods and town amenities that support residents with different needs. When the real estate agent pulls listings for you, they should also be homes that meet accessibility criteria, or properties that could be modified to do so.
  2. Be specific about your needs or preferences, based on your abilities. A checklist of your requirements will help your real estate agent pinpoint the most sensible listings for you. Older adults with declining mobility or other conditions will have different requirements than those who use wheelchairs and need wider hallways and doorways (a minimum of 32 inches).

    For example, if steps are completely out of the question, a single-floor home with an accessibility ramp (either existing or added) or a condo in an elevator building make the most sense. However, even those may have a few steps to deal with between rooms (such as a sunken living room).

  3. Take a virtual tour in advance to refine your search. The video or images should cover all rooms including kitchen and bathrooms, and show the layout. That way, you’ll see any potential barriers or modifications that can be addressed with the seller, or cross a property off your list.
  4. Think of future modifications you may need. This is especially true of older home buyers who are downsizing. They may not be thinking about walk-in or roll-in showers, grab bars, wider doorways, or closets with lower shelving for easy reach. Look at properties that can change along with your evolving needs as you age—or properties that can be modified with relative ease to meet current needs.
  5. Develop a renovation budget. Unless you are moving into a housing community that’s purpose-built for individuals with disabilities, you will likely have to make some renovations for safety and accessibility. These may include widening doorways, altering the kitchen layout, remodeling the bathroom, or building indoor ramps between rooms. Include these figures into your overall housing budget so you stay within your comfortable price range. Also ask your real estate agency to recommend reputable general contractors in the area who are familiar with ADA specifications.
  6. Check the home’s lighting. Good lighting helps reduce household accidents. Is there good natural light during the day? Are there ample light fixtures in the hallways? Are there places to add light fixtures safely?
  7. Check out the community. What amenities does the town offer? How is the parking situation in your target neighborhood and local shopping district? Are streets well-maintained? Although municipal buildings will adhere to ADA requirements, are the local restaurants and stores accessible to all patrons?
  8. Contact CENTURY 21 Cedarcrest Realty. Our team works closely with every home buyer who’s looking and homeowner who’s selling. We take the time to understand what our customers are looking for, within their budget. We guide home buyers through the entire process with care, and can provide referrals to professional resources in the area as needed. Give us a call at 973-228-1050 to get started. Or visit our accessible offices in Caldwell or Little Falls.

CENTURY 21 supports Easterseals, a leading advocate for people with disabilities. You’ll find helpful information regarding accessibility on the organization’s website here. At Cedarcrest Realty, we look forward to helping you find a home that meets your particular needs.

Tips for Boosting Curb Appeal This Fall

Curb Appeal Tips for the Fall - Century 21 CedarcrestIn North Jersey, fall and spring offer great opportunities to jazz up your home’s curb appeal. Before the grass goes dormant and snow covers the ground, there are some easy ways to help your home catch the eye of home buyers in your market—and have real estate agents anxious to show it to their customers.

Power wash your driveway and pathways
Pressure washing revitalizes patios, walkways, and driveways and gives an overall cleaner appearance to your property. If your house’s siding or foundation, or the tool shed could use some sparkle, pressure wash them as well.

Clean up the house’s exterior
Look for areas that need some TLC, such as

  • Gutters– check for leaks and seal those up, clean out the leaves and clear downspouts
  • The deck, which may require a fresh coat of stain or paint, or have wood spindles, railings or floor planks that need repair/replacement
  • Shutters and trim
  • Garage doors and windows – check for any needed repairs, painting, or sealing needs
  • Light fixtures – clean the shades, make sure bulbs are working
  • Railings – clean and repaint rusted spots, check to make sure railings are not wobbling or coming loose from the house or stoop
  • The front door should be as inviting as possible. If it needs to be replaced, there are many options at various price points.

Clean out garden beds
With all the leave falling and summer plants “closing up” for the season, it’s time to rake out the old, wilted flowers and greenery. Remove any annual flowers, pull out the weeds, and bag up the dried leaves along with what’s falling on your lawn. Fall is also a good time to put down a fresh layer of mulch to liven up the garden beds and help retain moisture.

Plant colorful autumn flowers
Your garden beds needn’t look so sad after spring and summer flowers have completed their bloom cycle. There are some wonderful colors to add to your flower beds with cool-season plantings such as mums, asters, flowering kale, celosia, goldenrod, and sumac. If you have flower boxes under your front window, clean those out and plant fall-friendly flowers.

Rake the leaves
A layer of colorful leaves looks pretty on your lawn, but a thick covering of leaves will smother the grass, which reduces air flow and blocks sunlight (and can create a sick lawn). If you have a compost bin, you can turn your dry leaves into a natural fertilizer to enhance the soil in your vegetable garden and flower beds next spring.

Prune hedges, trees and shrubs
Keep your trees and shrubs looking cared for by trimming back overgrowth and dead branches (now that there is less foliage to cover them up). Removing dead blooms can also reduce potential for plant disease and rodent nests. If your trees are growing too close to the house, have the branches professionally pruned to avoid damage from fallen limbs during winter storms.

Take care of patio and porch furniture
If you are showing your home, porch and patio furniture sets a welcoming tone and gives prospective buyers an idea of how lovely it will be to entertain in your backyard or sit on the porch and watch the world go by. Clean the tables and chairs, repaint wicker or wrought iron furnishings if it’s been a while, and consider replacing cushions if they are worn and faded.

Decorate for the season
You don’t need a tractor and pumpkin patch to get into the harvest-season spirit. Dress up your porch with hay bales, displays of pumpkins and gourds, hang a festive wreath on the front door, and swap out your door mat for something in fall colors. The pumpkins can be cut up and tossed around your property later for animals to nibble on as they prepare for the winter. If you have lawn decorations that need some refurbishing (gnomes, deer), fix the chips and paint where needed.

Add landscape lighting
Extra lighting around your property helps your home stand out and offers some security. Solar lights or low-wattage landscape lights connected to a light sensor are easy ways to add lighting. Of course, a licensed electrician can install permanent hard-wire landscape lighting along your front walkway, driveway, or around your patio. These are also excellent ways to spotlight interesting landscape features.

At CENTURY 21 Cedarcrest Realty, our real estate associates will offer suggestions to stage your home—inside and outside—to make sure it always looks its best for home buyers. If you’re thinking of putting your home on the market, contact us at 973-228-1050.

First-Time Home Buyer? Cedarcrest Realty is Here to Help

You’ve been renting an apartment or house but now you’re thinking about buying your first home in North Jersey. There are many considerations for first-time home buyers—from determining your budget to locating your target neighborhoods.

Entering the real estate market can be exciting—and for first-time buyers, a bit daunting (we promise it gets easier after your first home purchase!). It’s no secret that we live in an expensive part of the country with high real estate taxes. But don’t let that deter you from finding a great starter home in Bergen, Essex, Morris, or Passaic counties (or beyond). There are many wonderful towns and homes in all price ranges.

Let’s break it down for you.

Considerations for first-time home buyers

  1. Budget – determining your home-buying budget will then determine many other factors involved in your decision—size of the house, neighborhood/town, type of mortgage, and more. The sale price of any home is not the only cost consideration—there will be approximate monthly mortgage payments, real estate taxes, and utility costs. In the case of a condominium or townhouse community, common area charges and/or homeowner association (HOA) fees must be included. Your real estate agent can go over all the typical expenses involved, and help you formulate a comfortable working budget.
  2. Settling on a budget will lead you to the next steps in the house hunt. Knowing what you can comfortably afford will help you zero in on certain towns or areas, and the type of house in your budget. Choosing the area and type of home are highly subjective decisions and many criteria play into it. For example:
    1. Do you prefer urban, suburban, or more rural communities?
    2. Do you need bus or rail availability, or access to highways?
    3. Is the public school system important to you if you plan to raise children there?
    4. What features are must-haves vs. want-to-have in the home?
    5. A fixer-upper in an urban location may be right for you—if you have the funds to invest in the needed renovations or can tackle those yourself.
    6. Perhaps a smaller house in a desirable town is a great starter home, with room to expand or move up in later years.
    7. Or maybe, despite renting all those years, you’ve socked away a hefty amount for a down payment and your income supports a jumbo mortgage on a big house on a large piece of land. Go for it!
  3. Our Cedarcrest Realty associates can provide valuable information about the towns in the counties we serve, with relevant tax rate figures, the town amenities (recreation facilities, programming for residents, shopping, and dining options) and what your local real estate taxes cover (such as garbage and recycling pickup). Your agent will also provide the comparative sales analyses that will help you arrive at a competitive offer price.

  4. Mortgage pre-approval – at CENTURY 21 Cedarcrest Realty, we strongly recommend (especially in the crowded North Jersey real estate market) to get pre-approved for a mortgage (not just pre-qualified). A lender’s pre-approval letter, while not a guarantee of a loan, is a commitment by the lender to a certain amount (pending appraisal). This shows you are serious about making an offer, as it is a more rigorous process than pre-qualification.
  5. About that mortgage: Having a strong credit score will help you qualify for a favorable program, so it’s important to know your credit score and take steps to improve it if necessary. Review your finances to see how you can save as much as possible (while also meeting your existing financial obligations, of course), and assess where you can cut if necessary. The traditional down payment is 20% of the purchase price but there are programs available for home buyers who have less set aside for the down payment.

  6. The offer – once you find the right house, your real estate agent will help you negotiate an offer and guide you through the next steps once your offer is accepted. There are a lot of them! There will be certain disclosures to consider and items you may want repaired before the sale (or use as a bargaining tool if you agree to handle those once the sale is completed). There will be a home inspection, appraisal, title search, and mortgage approvals. Your Cedarcrest agent will also explain the closing costs associated with your transaction so you can be prepared for everything in that exciting home stretch.

Your real estate agent at CENTURY 21 Cedarcest Realty will walk you through the entire home buying process, and provide guidance at each step. Our team also has many in-office resources as well as trusted professionals in related fields such as mortgage lenders and home inspectors. The New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency has a helpful guide with lots of information about what to expect during your first-time home search, and our specialists in North Jersey real estate are here to help. Call our Caldwell office at 973-228-1050 or in Little Falls at 973-364-1111 to get started on your home-buying journey.

The Benefits of Real Estate Staging

The practice of real estate staging isn’t new—it was first introduced in the 1970s—but it has become an increasingly popular and important tool for real estate agents and homeowners selling a home. Staging a home enables potential buyers to really see the full view of the property and helps them envision how they would use it.

According to the National Association of REALTORS® 2021 Profile of Home Staging, home staging is a significant part of home buying and selling. The report notes that:

  • Eighty-two percent of buyers’ agents said staging made it easier for a buyer to visualize the property as a future home.
  • Twenty-three percent of both buyers’ and seller’s agents said that home staging raised the dollar value offered between 1% and 5%, compared to similar homes on the market that hadn’t been staged.
    • Eighteen percent of sellers’ agents said home staging increased a residence’s dollar value by 6% to 10%.
    • Thirty-one percent said that home staging greatly decreased the amount of time a home spent on the market.

What is real estate staging
Staging originally meant decluttering rooms, arranging the furniture, and making basic or cosmetic repairs. Today—especially in competitive markets like northern New Jersey—home stagers may recommend steps that totally transform rooms. The idea is to show off the spaces to their best advantage by creating an updated, clean, appealing environment—the ultimate model home. That may entail:

  • Removing or replacing some furniture (to make the room look larger and to utilize the space more efficiently or to show off special features)
  • Accessorizing with pillows, plants, towels, new bed covers, and lifestyle accessories
  • Removing many personal family photos and knickknacks that can distract prospective buyers and add clutter to shelves and tables
  • Repainting rooms to be more neutral backdrops, replacing carpeting or flooring if necessary.
  • Update lighting
  • Add some artwork to walls or shelves for pops of color and interest
  • Include seasonal or location-specific décor or accessories

According to the NAR report, the living room is the most important and most common room to stage, followed by the master bedroom and kitchen. However, with more people working from home at least part of the time these days, staging a home office could be just as important.

The value of strong visuals
The expression “You never have a second chance to make a good first impression” certainly plays out when it comes to staging. As real estate professionals, we understand the value of having great photography and video to help show a home and give buyers a first look that entices them to see the home with their real estate agent. A professionally staged home photographs beautifully and shows better on video tours and walkthroughs as well.

Work staging into the budget
Staging an empty home may be easier than working with existing furnishings, and the costs will also depend on the size and condition of the home. Factor in the local market competition and estimated return on staging investment—which for luxury listings will be nominal. Even for homes in the mid-market range, sellers should consider the few thousand dollars it costs to be money very well spent. You’ll see good ROI when you sell your home in less time, getting asking price or above (avoiding a price reduction) for a beautifully staged home that attracts motivated buyers.

At CENTURY 21 Cedarcrest Realty, we are experts in North Jersey real estate, and we know what it takes to market a home in our highly competitive area. Our goal is to provide superior customer service throughout every step of every transaction. Our real estate associates will walk through your home and make suggestions for decluttering areas, rearranging or removing furniture, making simple repairs, and painting where needed. If a larger-scale staging effort is needed, we can make recommendations for certified home stagers as well as professional organizers, cleanout experts, and other service providers that can help get your house in order, inside and out, before listing it for sale.

Contact our Caldwell office at 973-228-1050 or in Little Falls at 973-364-1111 if you’re putting your house on the market or if you’re shopping for a new house, condo, or townhouse. We’re here to help!

Luxury Property Real Estate Transactions: CENTURY 21 Cedarcrest’s Fine Homes & Estates

We are blessed to have offices in Essex County and Passaic County, where many high-end homes are also located, with proximity to other luxury markets in Bergen County and Morris County. As a real estate brokerage that is part of the CENTURY 21 Fine Homes & Estates® program, we have the knowledge and resources to market luxury homes in our market. This is a specialized division that caters to the home buyers and sellers in the luxury market.

What constitutes a luxury home?
According to CENTURY 21 Real Estate, a luxury listing is one that is priced at three times the market area’s median price, and typically is in the top 10% tier of the local real estate market.

According to the New Jersey REALTORS®, the single-family median sales price was $458,675 in June 2021 (up by about 29% over the prior year); given that figure, a luxury listing in our area would start at approximately $1,380,000. In addition to price point, other criteria may include the home’s condition, size (property and house), number of bedrooms and bathrooms, location (neighborhood as well as environment such as waterfront property or golf/country club community), and high-end amenities.

Who are today’s luxury-home buyers?
Urban buyers who came out to North Jersey during the pandemic, seeking more house and space drove luxury home sales over the past year, as the money they were paying to live in New York City went (and still goes) further in our suburbs. These buyers are often well-positioned to buy the prestigious properties within our Fine Homes & Estates portfolio.

Further, they are usually millennials who postponed buying a “starter home” as their parents probably did, and now have the purchasing power to go big. In fact, according to the National Association of REALTORs, millennials comprise the largest cohort of home buyers nationwide followed by Gen Xers. Given they have delayed their residential real estate purchases and with mortgage rates historically low, it’s prime time for this population to enter the luxury market.

What do they want in an upscale home?
Some high-end amenities are based on the home’s location or the buyer’s profile, but some common sought-after upgrades include:

  • Expansive outdoor entertaining space (complete with chef-worthy outdoor kitchen, built-in fireplace, multi-level patio or deck, spa, lush gardens)
  • Kitchens with work/dining island, European appliances, industrial stoves
  • Private dock and/or beach for waterfront properties
  • Wine cellar
  • Smart appliances/connected home
  • Fully equipped media room.
  • Home office(s) or playroom
  • Guest/caregiver bedroom and bath
  • Energy efficiency features from solar panels to tankless water heaters

Tools to market luxury homes
Preparing to list and market these distinctive homes requires a higher level of preparation and attention to detail. With the CENTURY 21 Fine Homes & Estates program, Cedarcrest Realty has access to specialized marketing tools to effectively market distinctive homes and address the expectations of the more affluent buyer or seller. For example, our real estate associates who work within this segment understand that they may be expected to work with or negotiate with other individuals such as trusted advisors (attorneys, accountants, business managers) or professional associates of the buyers or sellers.

Marketing your New Jersey luxury home

Every listing in Cedarcrest Realty’s Fine Homes & Estates program receives extensive exposure to potential buyers and their real estate agents through multimedia marketing and advertising support, which includes:

  • Strong curbside visibility with our “Fine Homes and Estates” signage
  • Exposure nationwide and internationally on hundreds of websites that cater to exclusive lifestyles, including Wall Street Journal (WSJ.com), RobbReport. com, duPontREGISTRY.com, LuxuryHomes.com, James Edition, MansionGlobal.com
  • Professional real estate photography
  • Professionally written and designed marketing collateral that highlights the property’s unique high-end features
  • Property brochures distributed to potential luxury home buyers and the area’s finest real estate offices
  • Featured listing in Suburban Essex magazine, Essex County’s upscale lifestyle magazine read by your potential buyers
  • Outreach to our extensive Global Broker Referral Network℠

Remarkable homes for sale require remarkable service and attention. At CENTURY 21 Cedarcrest Realty, we have won multiple industry and consumer awards in recognition of our high level of customer service (as well as sales). Rest assured, our Fine Homes & Estates team will create an award-winning experience for your luxury home listing or to help you find the distinctive property you seek in North Jersey. Contact our office in Caldwell at (973) 228-1050 to get started.

Planning to Sell Your Home Soon? Hold Off on Too Many Renovations
Certain Home Renovations Deliver ROI. Others, Not so Much.

Many homeowners who are tired of staring at their interiors through the pandemic are anxious to renovate and make some upgrades. However, it you plan to list your home for sale in the foreseeable future—say, within the next two years—you might want to resist renovation temptation. Many major home improvements are costly and you will never see the money back at time of sale.

Sure, it may help your home stand out from others in your local market, but the money you spend will not automatically come back to you in full when you close.

Remodeling magazine put out a 2021 Cost vs. Value Report that lists 22 popular projects and tracks their cost, resale value and ROI in terms of percentage recovered at resale. You can search by U.S. region (the report covers 150 different U.S. housing markets) for how prices stack up in your area and which projects will yield the best return or retain the most value at resale.

The top remodeling projects which did the best in terms of net cost vs. value (60% ROI or higher) are:
1 – Garage door replacement – highest at 94%
2 – Manufactured stone veneer
3 – Minor kitchen remodel – you will only recover 72% of the cost
4 – Siding replacement (fiber cement did slight better than vinyl)
5 – Window replacement (vinyl did slightly better than wood for this project)
6 – Deck addition (wood)
7 – Entry door replacement (steel)
8 – Deck addition (composite)
9 – Grand entrance (fiberglass)
10 – Asphalt shingle roof replacement
11 – Mid-range bathroom remodel

You can read the entire report here.

Repairs and renovations that make financial sense
Harvard’s Joint Center for Housing Studies estimates that Americans’ total spend on home remodeling projects will rise to $337 billion in the second half of 2021, and increase of $5 billion from third quarter 2020. This, despite the fact that the average amount recouped for home remodeling projects. However, if you want to catch buyers’ attention, there are quite a few projects worth investing in:

1 – Expanding square footage is at the top of that list. In 2020, 44% of real estate agents cited the “need for more space” as the top motivator for moving. Creating a more open floor plan is also an attention-getter.

2 – Curb appeal is so important—it’s the first impression prospective buyers get of your home. A nicely landscaped home says “well maintained” and the landscaping costs will bring sales results.

3 – Finishing the basement ups the asking price to high-income home buyers in the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic and Pacific Northwest according to the NAHB.

4 – Definitely in invest some money and time into touching up the paint (or repainting altogether) to make the house look fresh and well-cared-for. Light neutral colors are advised. Now is a great time to power wash the exterior and your patio or walkways.

5 – If you are tempted to redo the bathrooms or kitchen, make moderate upgrades that update the look without breaking the bank. For example, change out the cabinet and drawer fronts but keep the cabinet boxes in place. Replace fixtures or install a new floor if the current one is worn or outdated.

6 – If your home has hardwood floors, refinish them as needed or replace them with new wood flooring. The NAR’s 2019 Remodeling Impact Report states that refinishing hardwood floors recovers 100% of the cost at resale, while new wood flooring recoups 106% of costs.

7 – Handle big-ticket repair items such as replacing a roof or installing a new HVAC system. Also, buyers look for energy efficiency and savings on utility costs so consider putting in energy-efficient appliances (Energy Star), smart or programmable thermostats, energy-efficient windows, and low-flow toilets.

At CENTURY 21 Cedarcrest Realty, our real estate agents can guide you on what will make the most sense to invest in before you list your home for sale. We know what buyers are looking for in the North Jersey real estate markets in which we specialize, and can connect you with other professionals who can bring new life to your home to help it sell more quickly to the right buyers. Contact us at 973-228-1050 to discuss how we’ll market your home or for help finding the home of your dreams.

How to Make the Best Home Purchase Offer in Seller’s Market

Low Housing Inventory and High Demand Mean Buyers Must be Well-Prepared

Photo: Gerd Altmann via Pixabay

As we noted in a previous post, the real estate market in New Jersey, especially northern NJ, is very tight, with low inventory and high demand—and bidding wars.

With the current inventory challenge being the number one concern on most real estate consumer’s minds, we counsel homebuyers we work with to come prepared and ready to make the best purchase offer possible. While this has always been the case, in today’s competitive market, it is especially important in order to make a purchase offer that is more likely to be accepted by sellers.

  • Don’t lowball home sellers—they have the advantage. Rather, offer your “best price” up front. Your CENTURY 21 Cedarcrest Realty agent will have all the relevant comps and reports for you to go into the transaction with the pricing information you need.
  • Eliminate or reduce contingencies, which are the provisions or conditions that must be met to complete the transaction. Overuse of contingencies can sabotage a sale. The two most important contingencies for home buyers are inspection and financing contingencies.
    • A pre-offer inspection can help make the offer stronger because you will be able to negotiate your offer price based on needed repairs.
    • Other contingency reductions are minimization of the title, appraisal, and mortgage contingencies, although the latter two require a cash offer. Your Cedarcrest Realty agent can walk you through all the typical contingencies of a real estate transaction and guide you on how these may affect your purchase offer.
  • Get a lender’s pre-approval letter; this is not a guarantee of a loan but it is a commitment to a certain mortgage amount, pending appraisal. From the seller’s perspective, pre-approval shows that you are serious about making an offer on the home. It also shows that you underwent a more rigorous process than pre-qualification, and clarifies your home-buying budget.
  • Give a larger earnest money deposit (the amount you submit with your offer) than you were thinking—even double or triple the amount if you can swing it. This larger deposit could make you more attractive to a seller who has received multiple offers (as often happens in North Jersey). It goes toward your total down payment anyway and you’ll pay it at closing, so if you can do this at time of purchase offer, it’s a good tool in a competitive offer situation.

As always, the real estate professionals at CENTURY 21 Cedarcrest Realty have the knowledge and insights about the dozens of municipalities in which they work throughout Essex and Passaic counties and beyond. Contact our offices in Caldwell or Little Falls to list your home or to start your home buyer’s journey with our award-winning team. Caldwell: 973-228-1050 or Little Falls: 973-364-1111.