New Jersey Real Estate News & Blog

5 Things Real Estate Agents Want You to Know

Thanks to a glam Hollywood treatment and an influx of design and reno shows, the world of real estate can look like a pretty sweet deal. You tour some high-end houses, sign some papers, close a few deals and you’re set. Right? In real life, it’s a little more complicated than that. From emotional sellers to DIY disasters, real estate agents deal with challenges just like any professional. Here’s what they wish you knew about the job:

“Reality” television isn’t that real. Shows can make it seem simple and fun to buy a fixer upper, gut the place and sell it to make a profit, all within a short timeframe. In reality, these projects take much more time and often encounter more complications. Make sure you speak with both a real estate agent and a contractor...

Finding the Right Contractor

When people buy a house, they’re hoping to find their dream home, but that doesn’t mean the place is perfect.

Many new homeowners buy a house knowing they are going to want to make some renovations in rooms like the kitchen and bathrooms. This would most likely require the services of a contractor, and picking an honest, fair and talented contractor is of the utmost importance.

With a little research, you can find the right contractor for you. Start by following these steps:

Read online reviews. Websites like Yelp and Angie’s List offer insights from people who share the experiences they had with all sorts of businesses, including contractors. They can be a great resource, but it helps to be a smart reader. Be wary of reviews that pile on praise to a degree that seems over-the-top, and,...

The Hidden Costs of Owning a Home

Financially, there’s more to buying a home than the purchase price—sometimes much more.

After the down payment, and once your closing costs and monthly mortgage payments are added up, it can be easy to forget some of the costly and hidden costs of owning a home. Take these added charges into consideration:

Property Taxes
Property taxes are set and collected by the state, county and local agencies. Sometimes multiple agencies collect funds through a property tax for services such as water, sewer, schools and fire and police departments.

The taxes can go up annually in some areas, depending on a city’s services, so the following year’s cost may be difficult to predict. You’ll still want to find out what the current property taxes are...

To Rent or to Buy? That Is the Question

Many renters, especially young couples planning to settle down and start a family, debate whether to keep renting an apartment or buy a home. Depending on your financial situation and long-term goals, though, one option may be better than the other. To determine if it’s the right time for you to start searching for a house, consider the following:

Money
Some renters think they’re throwing away money on rent. It’s true that you might be able to find a monthly mortgage payment that is similar to, or even lower than, your current rent; however, be careful not to overlook the additional costs of homeownership.

As a homebuyer, you’ll need to save up thousands of dollars for a down payment and closing costs. After the purchase, you’ll also need to budget for the mortgage, insurance, property...

Keep Your Kitchen Ready for Buyers

The kitchen is one of the busiest rooms in a house, yet it’s the room people will focus on most when shopping for a home. Keeping it presentable for showings while your home is on the market can be tricky. Here are some things you can do to keep your kitchen looking its best at all times:

  • Clean the oven, counters and appliances after making meals, and keep the table free of clutter.
  • Clear out the cabinets, the pantry, the area under the sink, drawers and anywhere else a buyer may look. Investigate your silverware drawer—you’ll be surprised at how dusty it has become. Cleaning it and organizing your forks, spoons and knives will make the drawer look appealing and make a positive impact on a potential buyer.
  • After you’ve cleared out the cabinets, take stock of what you really need. You’re...

Expert Insights: How Do I Find Government-Repossessed Properties?

The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) acquires properties from lenders who foreclose on mortgages that it insures. These properties are then available for sale to potential homeowner-occupants and investors only through a licensed real estate broker. HUD will pay the broker’s commission up to 6 percent of the sales price.

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) also acquires properties as a result of foreclosures on VA-guaranteed loans. These acquired properties are marketed through a property management services contract with a federal bank that then lists them for sale with local real estate agents.

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Luxury Condo Amenities: Which Are Worth It?

When you purchase a condominium unit, part of your monthly carrying costs will include condo fees. These can range from a few hundred dollars to several thousand, depending on your building’s features, the number of units and the square footage of your unit. They cover elements like maintenance of common areas, including any amenities. The type of amenities your building has will greatly influence the price of condo fees, so it’s not uncommon for buyers to weigh which luxury amenities they need and which they can do without. Here’s a breakdown:

Pool or Hot Tub
Without a doubt, pools and hot tubs definitely drive up condo fees due to the constant maintenance they need. However, for many renters looking for a luxury property, a pool and hot tub are non-negotiable parts of their luxury lifestyle....

Inexpensive Ways to Add Value to a Home Before Selling It

Your home is your castle. Sometimes, however, it can feel a little less regal than you’d like it to.

Outdated fixtures or not having enough space or light, among other things, can make a home feel tired and old. For about $100 or less, many features of a home can be improved to help add value to a home when selling it.

You won’t be able to expand the dining room on the cheap, but there are some simple improvements that can spruce up a house cheaply and quickly:

Update fixtures
Start in the kitchen, which is one of the first areas home buyers look at. Replace the kitchen sink faucet, replace cabinet door handles or install a new sink if you can find a deal on one.

Bathroom fixtures such as towel racks and toilet paper holders can be easily replaced, and a new toilet...

Pros and Cons of Choosing a House on a Cul-de-Sac

Many homebuyers choose to avoid a busy street and instead purchase a house on a cul-de-sac. Some people pay significantly more for a home on a dead-end street than they would for a comparable house on a road with more traffic. While a cul-de-sac has characteristics that may appeal to some homeowners, these same characteristics may frustrate others.

Traffic
Since there is only one way in and out, a cul-de-sac has less traffic than a typical street. Congestion can be an issue if several people leave for work at the same time in the morning. Delivery trucks, garbage trucks, repair trucks and firetrucks may have trouble maneuvering, which could lead to traffic jams. If a storm knocks down tree limbs or electrical wires and the road is blocked, you and your neighbors could be trapped until workers arrive to deal with the situation.

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Make the Most of Your Fireplace

One feature that many people look for when buying a home is a fireplace, but not everyone understands what exactly goes into getting a nice fire roaring.

Knowing the terms can help. For instance, the fireplace’s flue allows smoke to move through the chimney, and the damper is an opening you can adjust to control the intake of air and temperature of the fire. And don’t forget, the flue needs to be open before a fire is first lit.

Of course, you’ll need to gather some wood to burn, which can be done by contracting with a provider of seasoned firewood, who will deliver and even stack it for you, or you can simply buy firewood at your local grocery store. Also, try searching Craig’s list for free firewood in your neighborhood.

Firewood should be stored in a dry place so that it’s ready to burn. Never use wood from trees...