7 Secrets to Selling a Home

Selling your home? Make the experience smooth sailing by following these seven tips.

1. Price it Right

Find out what your home is worth from a realtor. Although online tools can give you a rough estimate, a realtor will have access to all of the recently sold homes in your area. Then, shave 15 percent off the price and watch the buyers trickle in. This leads to multiple bids and more competition, putting the power in the seller’s hands.

2. Hire a Professional

You need a real estate agent who is dedicated to selling your home. They will be responsible for monitoring the MLS and ensuring that your home is competitive, not just a stale home on the market. If you’re not happy with who you have, don’t be afraid to try someone new.

3. Show Off Storage Space

Storage is important for today’s buyers, so don’t cram your closets and cabinets with random stuff. It’s best to pay the small price to rent out a storage room until your house is sold. Prospective buyers snoop, and they want to make sure there is plenty of storage capacity.

4. Let in the Light

A dark home looks small and drab, so lighten up your home by taking down drapes, cleaning windows and switching out lampshades. A bright and airy home sells much faster, plus looks bigger and more adaptable.

5. Keep Pets Out of Sight

Surely, your pets are cute. But, when selling a home, less is more. Not only should you keep your pets locked away – or even better, at a pal’s home – but also you should keep pet-friendly items like dog bowls and litter boxes in hiding. You want your home to look and smell clean.

6. Keep a Neutral Setting

You want prospective buyers to picture themselves living in your home, which is hard to do when there are mementos from your family all over the place. Keep your home neutral by taking out the personal side. Remove photos of family, collectibles, keepsakes and so on. Also, keep your home simple and plain. Experts recommend removing ⅓ of your stuff.

7. Be Ready to Show Your Home

A missed showing could be a missed sale. Keep your home show-ready: picked up, bathrooms clean, no dishes in the sink and no dust in the corners. You’ll need to be on your toes more, but a quick sell is worth the short inconvenience.

Positive Signs of Growth for the NJ Housing Market

The New Jersey Association of Realtors reports that the NJ housing market is growing stronger each quarter, with single-family homes selling 13 days faster and for $11,000 more than the year before. These numbers come from NJAR, as they are launching a new project that will provide detailed housing data each month based on state, county and local niches. This information is designed to educate buyers and sellers who want to learn more about the current housing market.

NJAR pulls the information from the MLS in New Jersey to determine where homes are selling, how quick they are selling and for what price they are selling. New Jersey has a complicated housing market, so it’s helpful to know which areas are seeing the most growth. For instance, South Jersey markets Cape May County, Atlantic County and Cumberland County have had sluggish sales compared to countries like Essex and Caldwell. Still, even these slower markets are seeing better days. On the whole, the average NJ home sits on the market for 82 days.

Additionally, more information will hopefully prompt buyers who are on the fence about buying. Interest rates and home prices are climbing, and with higher costs come fewer affordable homes. As interest rates continue to go up, it will impact people’s decisions on whether or not to buy a home. Prospective buyers can also see which counties have a higher demand. There are differences from one county to the next, as the demand is stronger in Bergen than in Passaic, for example.

Even though the market is still slow in New Jersey, we’re seeing signs of positive growth, and many real estate experts predict that this is just the beginning. The number of homes sold in NJ has rebounded its fastest since 2007. We can attribute this to low home prices, low mortgage rates and a growing confidence in the housing market. NJ has also had steady job growth, which will also help stabilize the housing industry.

5 Tips for Buying a Home

Now is a great time to buy a home: home prices are low and interest rates are low, but they are climbing steadily. The New Jersey market has seen more home sales and faster selling times, reassuring us that the market is indeed improving. If you don’t want to miss out on this buyer’s market, now is the time to buy a home and lock in low interest rates.

Here are five tips for those who are interested in buying a home.

1. Keep Your Finances Steady

When you apply for a loan, lenders will want to see that you’re reliable and have a good paper trail. Don’t open new credit cards, move money around, buy many big ticket items or accumulate too much debt, or these will be red flags to lenders.

2. Start the Pre-Approval Process

There’s nothing wrong with getting a pre-approval, even if you don’t end up buying a home. Anyone can be pre-approved for a loan, as this means that a lender has looked at your finances and determined that you can afford to make the mortgage payments.

3. Go with Your Instinct

You’ll hear a lot about the market in NJ: it’s slow, it’s competitive, it’s laden with foreclosures. Don’t worry about when the best time is to make your move. Instead, focus on the available properties and what’s right for you. Real estate is always fluctuating.

4. Hire an Inspector

When you find a home that you’re willing to purchase, make sure you hire a home inspector first. It will cost about $200-$300, but it could end up saving you thousands. A home inspector is a third-party who will tell you whether the house is worth buying.

5. Remember Hidden Costs

It’s easy to look at a mortgage payment and assume that you can pay it, but remember that homes come with a lot of hidden costs, otherwise known as “sleeper costs.” These added finances include homeowner’s association fees, utility bills and property taxes. Don’t forget routine maintenance and repairs. If you’re falling short, it’s better to buy a home that is lower priced than stretch yourself too thin.

What is the Multiple Listing Service (MLS)?

If you’ve been working with a realtor or will be in the near future, you will definitely hear a lot about the MLS system. MLS stands for Multiple Listing Service, and it refers to one large database with many of the listings that are currently available on the market. When a property is sold, it is then taken off the database. The MLS is a fast and convenient way to access the homes that are available for sale at any given moment. After all, being a good realtor means that you need to have quick knowledge of what properties are out there.

Let’s take a look at the advantages to using the MLS for your home buying or selling experience.

Benefits to Buyers

  • Convenient. The majority of homes for sale in your area are placed on the database, so you don’t have to bounce back and forth to various websites.

  • Easy to use. A few simple clicks of a mouse give you access to all the properties for sale in your area.

  • Up-to-date and relevant. The MLS is continuously updated, so what you see reflects the current market, unlike other sites that are out of date.

  • Free service. The MLS does not cost a penny for buyers to use.

  • Sorting features. Instead of sorting through hundreds of homes, you can use the handy sorting features to find homes based on the square footage, number of bedrooms/bathrooms, zip code and so on.

Benefits to Sellers

  • More exposure. You want to sell your home fast, so putting it in front of the most buyers makes this possible. The MLS gets you the largest number of buyers in a short amount of time.

  • Help from a professional. To get your listing on the MLS, you’ll need a real estate agent or broker to list the property. Not only do you get your home on the MLS, but also you get professional assistance from a realtor who can help get your home sold quickly and for the most money possible.

  • Increased competition. The more buyers that see your home, the more competition it will create. Competition is good for sellers since it puts more power in your hands as you price your home and sell it quickly.

Vampire and Zombie Homes Continue to Grow in NJ

Just because it isn’t Halloween season it doesn’t mean that it’s the end of zombies and vampires. A real estate firm coined the term “vampire houses” to represent the many homes that have gone into foreclosure, but the original owners continue to live there. Vampire homes are slightly different from zombie homes in which no one lives in. These homes are going through the foreclosure process, but they have been abandoned by the owners. Which one is worse? It’s hard to say. All we know is that both vampire and zombie homes continue to grow in NJ.

Why So Many Foreclosures in NJ?

It’s no secret that the Garden State has been hit hard by foreclosures. In fact, as much of the country is seeing a reduced rate of foreclosures, the number of foreclosed properties is still increasing in NJ. This is largely due to the fact that New Jersey is one of 17 states that requires foreclosures to go through the court system. With so many homes in foreclosure, the state has a lot of paperwork to process, and foreclosed homes keep piling up.

In the meantime, zombie homes continue to sit, and more homes turn into vampire lots where the family continues to live in the home until they are forced out. Currently, there are more zombie homes than vampire homes, with a staggering 14,000 homes sitting empty, accounting for 17 percent of the NJ population. The vast majority of these homes come from Cape May, Hudson County, Camden, Gloucester and Somerset.

Will Any Good Come out of Vampire and Zombie Properties?

Of course, no homeowner who pays their bills and mortgage on time wants to hear that they have zombies and vampires for neighbors. But, is there any good that could result from this?

Hopefully, yes. As New Jersey deals with more paperwork and processing, the banks are going to want to sell homes sooner. This leaves a good opportunity for buyers to purchase a home that they want, in an area that they want and for a price that they want. With so many homes in the foreclosure process, buyers will have the upper hand, because at the end of the day, these homes are better off being sold and having real owners live in them rather than sitting vacant or with “vampires.”

Best Counties for Middle Class NJ Residents

We may be biased, but New Jersey is one of the best states to live in!

The dynamic history, the beautiful Jersey Shore coastline and great eats from famous diners and local farmer’s markets make the Garden State a pleasant and entertaining place to live. We also have a dense population that keeps things interesting. Some residents were born and raised in NJ, while others have come to our state from NYC to seek a quiet, suburban lifestyle. Our close proximity to other cities, including Philadelphia, Manhattan and Boston, also make NJ a hotspot.

The one downfall to NJ is that we are an expensive state. In fact, a recent study from Trulia reported that in Bergen County alone, only 19 percent of homes are within reach for middle-class families. A family with a median income of $56,000 could afford a home in Bergen County priced at $274,000. Unfortunately, homes in this price range are rare. We are talking about some of the most expensive counties in the country after all.

So, if you’re currently looking for a new home in NJ and have moderate earnings, where are some of the best – but affordable – places to live?

Below is a great chart to reference, courtesy of Fred Kaimann/The Star Ledger, with data from Trulia. This comprehensive chart is an excellent tool for middle-class families looking for an affordable home in the Garden State.

 

County

Percentage of homes within reach for middle class

Median square foot of affordable homes

Median household income for metro

Maximum affordable home price

Atlantic

51%

1,248

$51,191

$218,000

Bergen

19%

1,410

$56,007

$274,000

Burlington

72%

1,497

$68,241

$272,000

Camden

86%

1,376

$68,241

$272,000

Cape May

37%

1,040

$57,001

$270,000

Cumberland

74%

1,302

$47,072

$191,000

Essex

55%

1,760

$70,062

$294,000

Gloucester

78%

1,536

$68,241

$272,000

Hudson

40%

825

$56,007

$274,000

Hunterdon

34%

1,418

$70,062

$294,000

Mercer

70%

1,316

$67,991

$278,000

Middlesex

63%

1,432

$75,355

$326,000

Monmouth

45%

1,448

$75,355

$326,000

Morris

32%

1,353

$70,062

$294,000

Ocean

66%

1,437

$75,355

$326,000

Passaic

42%

1,503

$56,007

$274,000

Salem

92%

1,404

$62,075

$319,000

Somerset

45%

1,320

$75,355

$326,000

Sussex

65%

1,381

$70,062

$294,000

Union

54%

1,360

$70,062

$294,000

Warren

55%

1,389

$55,766

$249,000

7 Reasons to Move to New Jersey

Are you thinking about moving to New Jersey? Many New York residents are faced with this decision at some point as they contemplate leaving behind the busy city life for a quiet, suburban life. Here are seven reasons why moving to the Garden State may not be such a bad idea!

1. Jersey City: A Cheaper NYC

Jersey City has been growing for years and offers an abundance of restaurants, waterfront apartment buildings, farmer’s markets, theaters and state parks. It delivers stunning views, and real estate prices are far less than in NYC.

2. Fresh Garden Vegetables Off the Shore

The Garden State isn’t called ‘the Garden State’ for no reason. Find some of the freshest produce from farmer’s markets where you can support the local economy and eat sustainably. New Jersey corn off the shore is a local favorite.

3. Endless Diner Choices

Forget the five-star restaurants. There are plenty of diners in the Garden State, and they offer a great dining experience as well as equally great food. Some of the local favorites include boardwalk fries, hoagies, pizza, pasta and sandwiches.

4. No Need to Pump Your Own Gas

It’s basically illegal to pump your own gas in NJ. No matter where you go in the state, a gas attendant is standing by to do the hard work. There’s just simply no reason to get out of your car or smell like oil. Ever.

5. We’re Dense…Densely Cool That Is

New Jersey may have a dense population, but that makes our state all the more interesting. We have an intricate system of highways, major roads and railways that make getting to work on time actually doable. Also, New Jersey Transit can be seen in just about every town.

6. Access to Nearby States

Thanks to a strong system of roads, railways and public transit, NJ residents can get to cities like Manhattan or Philadelphia in a flash. This means that you can work in one of the cities, earning a higher income, yet retreat back to your quiet suburban household at night.

7. Geographically, we are Awesome

New Jersey is simply beautiful. We get to experience all four seasons and have the lovely Jersey Shore to spend the summer months at. Plus, we are minutes away from some of the best cities, including Manhattan and Philadelphia. Our state alone has over 75 historic sites and resort cities.