New Jersey Real Estate News & Blog

DIY Staging Tips for Sellers

Staging is a pretty big part of selling a home. Buyers are visual, so a space that’s been thoughtfully staged has a much higher chance of being sold faster, and for a higher asking price. Many real estate agencies have in-house stagers, or work with a reputable company they can recommend to you. But if you want to get a head start, there are plenty of DIY tricks you can handle yourself to get ready for showings or an open house.

Curb Appeal
The first thing people will see is the outside of your house. Just like in a business meeting, first impressions are everything, so a little bit of detail goes a long way. Make sure your front lawn is freshly cut, and that your pavement is clean and swept. Consider giving your trim and front door a fresh coat of paint and adding a potted plant to your...

3 Questions About Interest Rates

If you’re shopping for a home loan, you’re likely focusing on interest rates. Below are a handful of questions you may have about the art of the interest rate.

How are interest rates determined? 
Interest rates are influenced by shifting economic indicators in your financial market. This type of fluidity means they can change daily, or even hourly. This is why it’s important to shop around.

What does it mean to “lock in” a rate? 
Since interest rates are so fluid, many buyers choose to combat this by locking in a rate when they find a good one. A locked rate is a contractual agreement between the lender and buyer that offers the buyer protection from financial market fluctuations that could affect the range of the interest rate....

Maintenance Costs Every Homeowner Should Be Aware Of

A rule of thumb when determining how much money to set aside for ongoing home maintenance is to budget 1 percent of the home’s purchase price each year.

If your home cost $300,000, then setting aside $3,000 per year is a good start. You may not spend that much every year on home maintenance, but it can be a good idea to save that much whether you spend it or not in a given year. Setting aside up to 3 percent of your home’s purchase price would give you more room for bigger maintenance costs. Here are some to plan for:

Leaking roof: Sometimes a leaking roof can be as simple to fix as replacing a few shingles or hammering down one that popped off. But an older roof of 15 years or more may be in poor condition and could require a complete replacement. A new roof can cost $5,000 or more.

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Expert Insights: Any Advice on Negotiating?

Be patient, know your home’s worth, adopt a positive attitude and do not let emotions—anger, pride, greed or prejudice—get in the way of negotiating the best deal.

Your home obviously means a lot to you, but you have already made the decision to move on, so begin to think of your home as “the house” or “the condo,” instead of “my home.”

When reasonable offers come along, take them seriously. You can always counter any offer made by the buyer that comes near your asking price. Do not spoil a good deal over a few hundred dollars.

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How to Beautify Your Yard in a Weekend

The yard is one of the first things people notice when they arrive at your home for a visit. It’s also something that you and your neighbors see every day. A well-maintained yard can add curb appeal to your home and can even increase your property’s value.

If you’ve been neglecting your yard, summer is an excellent time to tackle some projects you have been postponing. Many of them can be completed in a weekend, leaving you with a clean and vibrant-looking yard that is perfect for summer barbecues.

Clean Up
Overgrown grass and unruly shrubs can detract from the appearance of an otherwise beautiful property. Take some time to mow the lawn and collect the clippings. If your bushes need a trim, you can do that yourself, provided you have the right tools and skills. If you don’t, ask...

Expert Insights: Is Private Mortgage Insurance Necessary?

Lenders require private mortgage insurance (PMI) on most conventional loans with less than a 20 percent down payment. They believe there is a correlation between borrower equity and default. They have found that the less money borrowers put down, the more likely they are to default on a loan. PMI guarantees the lender will not lose money if this happens and a foreclosure is necessary.

The buyer pays this insurance, usually a small fee at the outset and a percentage of the face amount of the loan that is added to the monthly payment.

What most homeowners do not realize is that the insurance is usually no longer necessary after enough equity has built up in the property. Contact your lender if you meet this requirement and want to drop PMI.

A precaution: do not confuse PMI with mortgage life insurance. The latter...

Expert Insights: What Questions Should I Ask an Agent When Selling My Home?

Interview at least three local agents who sell homes in your community. Ask them about the following:

  • The worth of your home – The agents should inspect the home and prepare a written comparative market analysis.
  • Marketing plans – These are a must. Make sure they include the local Multiple Listing Service (MLS)—which gives your home maximum exposure to all local agents—and internet marketing through the agents’ websites and other online forums.
  • Length of the listing agreement – There are circumstances that are entirely market-specific for which a longer listing period will be appropriate. Ask the agents what is the best length of agreement for you.
  • Number of listings – Find out how many listings the agents now have and how many...

Selling Your Home? Get Ready to Negotiate

One of the most stressful parts about selling your home is setting the right price and then hitting the bargaining table when someone is interested. When a buyer’s initial bid comes in and it’s much lower than you expected, even if your heart is racing because you don’t want to lose the sale, don’t jump at the first bid. Work with your real estate agent to negotiate.

Savvy negotiating isn’t about tricking the other side; it’s about knowing the seller’s motivations and your own, and coming to a deal that is satisfactory to both in a manner that’s fair for each—and in keeping with what your market will bear.

Sure, you want to agree upon a price as quickly as possible, but you also don’t want to jump to any rash decisions or do something you will later regret. Take a little time...

Expert Insights: When is the Best Time to Sell a Home?

The best time to sell is when you are ready, or when you must. That is, when you have outgrown the space in your current home, or you prefer to trade down to something smaller. Perhaps your marital status has changed, which necessitates a move, or you need to relocate for a job.

Market conditions also play a role, as do seasonal conditions. For example, your chances of getting top dollar for your home are more likely in a seller’s market, when demand outweighs supply, than in a buyer’s market.

Local and national economic factors also may dictate when to sell. If a major employer in your area is laying off workers, it may not be a good time to put your home up for sale.

People will be cautious about buying when the future seems unpredictable or bleak.

Most agents agree the best time to sell is in the spring. This is...

4 Tips for Picking the Right Neighborhood

Oh, the places you will go…and the places you will want to avoid. Choosing the right neighborhood is as important as picking the right house. Your neighborhood will define many aspects of your day-to-day life, so you should research it carefully to be sure it meets your needs.

Realtor.com® lists four things you should consider before putting your real estate agent on the hunt. This will ensure you find the neighborhood that’s just right for you.

Establishing Priorities: Not all neighborhoods have the same kind of layout. Because of this, it is important that you decide on a style of house, whether it’s big or small, has a yard or a porch, etc. After that, consider your budget, taking into account what you can and cannot live without. Are you big on golf? Swimming? Make sure your neighborhood has access...