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Lock Boxes

What is a lock box, pertaining to real estate?

Lock Boxes

Lock Box Condos in FreeholdHave you ever walked by a home that’s for sale and noticed there’s a blue something hanging off the door knob? It’s called a lock box. You see, when you list your house for sale with a Realtor, we always recommended that we install a lock box. The reason for a lock box is that it will allow the 8000 plus members of the multiple listing system access to show your home. After all, if a Realtor can’t get in, how can we show the home to prospective buyers if you’re not available to let them in. Let me explain what a lock box is.

The box is mounted somewhere on the home with the door key inside.. Most commonly, it’ll hang on the door knob, off of a light or a bench, sometimes in the gas meter.

Tracking

When a Realtor showing the home needs the key, we can use open the lock box with an electronic key. The lock box uses cell phone technology. As a result, there’s an electronic paper trail created every time the box is opened. The listing agent  is notified when a Realtor opens the lock box. We then know who entered the home and when.

Follow Up

Realtors ( at least the good ones) use the info of who showed the homes as a follow up tool. We reach out to the agent to ask for feedback. Hopefully we can find out if the prospective buyer is interested in the property. We also ask if there’s anything in the home that the buyers didn’t like, and we ask the Realtor if they think the home is properly priced.

Bottom line

Access is the primary reason your Realtor will recommend a lock box. Unless you’re one of the very few people who is always available to let Realtors and their prospective buyers into the home, you should allow one to be installed. After all, If buyers can’t get into your home to see it, they’ll buy someone else’s home. When you’re ready to list your home, call us. We have plenty of lock boxes.

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Freehold Condo Real Estate Market

What’s happening in the Freehold Condo RealEstate Market?

Freehold Condo Real Estate Market

Are you thinking of either buying or selling a condo in Freehold? If yes, it may help to have info regarding today’s Are you thinking of either buying or selling a condo in Freehold? If yes, it may help to have info regarding today’s Freehold Condo RealEstate Market. There are nine condo complexes in Freehold Township and three more in Freehold Boro. In total, there are more than 3800 condos in the two towns.

Freehold Township Condos

As of today,4/24/19, there are 32 condos (or townhouses) for sale. This is only 1% of the 3,400 + total homes that are for sale. 25 condos are under contract, which means they’re sold and waiting to close. And last, 72 condos have sold in the past 6 months. The average condo for sale in Freehold Township has been on the market for 38 days. At the current rate, there’s about a 90 day supply of available condos. At this rate, if no new listings become available, there won’t be any condos for sale in Freehold Township in 90 days. The common belief is that in a normal market, we have, at any time, a 180 day supply of available homes. What this all boils down to is, we are in a sellers market in Freehold Township.

Freehold Boro Condos

Again, as of today, 4/24/19, there are 5 condos (or townhouses) for sale in Freehold Boro. Freehold Boro has a total of about 350 condos, so about 1.5% of them are for sale. Only 3 condos are under contract and 17 have sold in the past 6 months. In short, Freehold Boro’s condos are also in a sellers market.

Monmouth County Condos

No now you have the current info on today’s Freehold Condo RealEstate Market. In fact, the entire county’s condo market is in a sellers market. If you’re looking to sell a condo, you shouldn’t have any issues with selling it quickly for a great price. And if you’d like to know what the sales price should be, give us a call. We’ll be glad to provide a current market analysis for you.

However, if you’re looking to buy you need to be prepared. Because there are other buyers out there looking to buy the same condo that you’re looking for. Give us a call, because we’re helped hundreds of people in your situation find their new home.

Are you looking for a condo in other Monmouth County towns?

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Condo Attic Storage

Are you looking to make use of attic storage in your condo?

Condo Attic Storage

Over the years  we’ve run into a few instances where we were selling a condo. These issues involved attic storage space.

Quite often, both buyers and sellers, don’t actually know who owns the attic space. In fact, quite often the attic space is owned by the condo association, not the homeowner. During one sale, either the homeowner or a previous homeowner installed a pull down staircase which allowed access to the attic for storage. In most towns, Fire Department regulations require attic access in case of a fire. This access is usually provided via a hatchway, not a pull down staircase. However, these hatchways are small and don’t allow much room to get things into the attic space. Therefore, people sometimes install the pull down staircase.  But, installation requires that the roof trusses get cut or partially removed to make room for that pull down staircase.

Who Owns the Attic?

Any alterations to a roof truss system can possibly cause a serious problem. A truss is a series of 2x4s which are engineered to support the weight of the roof.  In addition, the truss also supports any additional load that is placed on the roof, such as snow. By altering, or even partially removing the truss,  the structural integrity of the roof can be compromised. And if the roof fails due to this, it will probably be the homeowner’s responsibility, not the condo associations. Additionally, the fire wall between the interior of the house and the attic is almost always compromised.

If the condo association becomes aware of this, most of the time they’ll insist that the pull down staircase be removed. In addition, the trusses must be returned to their original condition. Additionally, some towns will not issue the Certificate of Occupancy unless the pull down staircase is properly removed. And a sale of the condo cannot be completed without the Certificate of Occupancy. Also, when the buyer performs their home inspection, their inspector will probably report if the trusses have been compromised. At that time, it becomes an inspection issue.

Bottom Line

If you wish to make  the attic storage space in a condo more accessible, speak with the association first. This could save your a lot of headaches, not to mention the expense.

Are you ready to either buy or sell a home? Contact us.

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Home Sale Contingencies

Would you like to learn about home sale contingencies?

Home Sale Contingencies

What do you do when you find a home you want to buy, but you need the money from selling your old home? This is a question that many people have. They’ve put their home up for sale, and they’ve found what they want to make their next home. IF only there were a way to tie up the new home while they sell the old one….

It’s called a home sale contingency. Here’s how it works. The buyer and the seller reach an agreement on everything associated with buying a home, except the closing date. The closing date is set for when the buyer sells the old home. Are you still with me?

The Fine Print

A clause is added to the contract to address this situation. It says, in English, that the buyer (buyer 1) needs to sell their existing home to get the funds to buy the new home. If or when buyer 1 sells their existing home, the contract is now valid. However, until that contingency is removed, the seller will continue to show the home to prospective buyers.

In addition, should the seller receive an offer from buyer 2 that the seller wants to accept, buyer 1 will have 24 or 48 hours to remove the sale contingency and proceed with the purchase. If buyer 1 cannot remove the contingency, the initial contract is voided, and the seller can proceed with the new buyer.

The Buyer

Here’s what this does for the buyer. The sale price is locked in, and the buyer will get the home they want to buy. However, if they don’t sell their home in time, they won’t get the home. The price that buyer 2 is paying doesn’t mean anything. They will not need to match or exceed the price buyer 2 is offering.

The Seller

Here’s what this does for the seller. The seller has a buyer, and the price is locked in. The drawback is that an offer from buyer 2 may be better. But if buyer 1 removes the contingency, they need to proceed with the terms in buyer 1’s contract.

A Possible Option for Buyer 1

If buyer 1 has substantial equity in the home, they may qualify for a Home Equity Line of Credit. They can use the funds from the HELOC to buy their new home. Once the old home sells, they can simply pay off the HELOC. However, this is not an option for everyone.

Bottom Line

Our opinion is that a contract with a home sale contingency rarely works out. If you’re the buyer, we do encourage you to search for a home while your old one isn’t yet sold. However, we recommend that you look for a community, not a home. If you find a development, condo complex, or an adult community you like, it will make the search for a particular home easier when crunch time comes. And, if you find a model that you love, it’s even better.

The seller is in a win-win situation. That’s because their house is sold, but they don’t know when. And this makes it difficult to search for a new home. All that a seller can do is the same as the buyer, look for a community. But again, these contracts rarely work out.

When you’re ready to either buy or sell a home, please contact us.
Would you like to look at homes in other Monmouth County towns?

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Home Inspection

Once you’ve found your new home, and you have a signed contract, you’ll need a home inspection.

The Home inspection

So – who should inspect your future home? Your cousin, who used to work as a contractor? An uncle who has bought many homes? Or, just maybe, you should hire a professional. And yes, hiring a professional is the correct answer.

Few people are aware of this, but there are only 3 types of contractors who are required to be licensed in New Jersey. And that list is plumbers, electrician and home inspectors. These home inspectors are required to take continuing education in addition to serving apprenticeships. So don’t trust this important step to a friend or relative who knows a little bit about homes. Additionally, home inspectors are required to have insurance, in the rare case that they miss something big.

What Gets Inspected?

A complete home inspection begins on the outside of the home. The roof and the siding are checked , in addition to the doors and windows. Inside, each window and door is checked to be sure that they open, stay open and close properly. The windows are checked to be sure that the seals are not compromised. Any flaws in the sheet rock are documented, such as holes, settling cracks and water damage stains. The rugs are examined for stains, tears and more. If ceramic tile is present, they get examined for cracks and chips. Hardwood and laminate floors are also examined. Most mortgage companies require a termite inspection showing no damage or activity. Many inspectors are qualified to perform this, however, you may need to get a separate company involved.

Kitchens and Baths

In the kitchen, all cabinets are looked at to ensure the doors and drawers are functional. The cabinet under the sink is examined is checked for both active leaks and prior water damage. All appliances are tested. And all electrical receptacles which require GFCI protection are checked. The same items are checked in the bathrooms and the laundry area.

Electrical and HVAC

In the electrical system, all receptacles and the electrical panel will be checked to see if they’re properly wired. The furnace and the hot water heater will be checked for proper operation. As to the air conditioner, it will be checked for proper operation. However, if the weather is too cold, running the AC can damage the system.

Deficiencies

At the end of the inspection, you’ll be supplied with a copy of the report. Depending on the inspector, you may get it immediately or it may arrive in your email within 24 hours. Once you have the report, make sure your attorney has a copy. Speak with your attorney about which items you want the seller to repair. I always tell my client to save their battles for the important things. Don’t worry about minor, insignificant thins, but if there’s something seriously wrong, insist that the seller either get it fixed or provide a credit so that you can get it fixed.

Bottom Line

If you cannot come to an agreement with the seller regarding repairs, don’t be afraid to cancel the contract, because this may not be the home for you.

Any questions, or when you’re ready to either buy or sell a home, contact us.

Would you like to look at homes in other Monmouth County towns?

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FHA 203k Loan

The FHA 203k loan may be a great tool for you to use.

FHA 203k Loan

Can you do work around the house? Do you want to buy a house that needs a lot of work and make it into your dream house? If you’re handy, this is a great idea. However, there may be a speed bump in the way. Many people in your situation can come up with a down payment and get the mortgage to buy the home. However, saving both the down payment and the funds to do the necessary upgrades is a challenge.

How Can You Finance This?

The solution may be the FHA 203k loan. This loan was created to help buyers who want to buy a home with the idea of fixing it up for either a flip or for their own home. Let me explain how this federal government backed loan works.

Let’s assume, as an example, that you found the home you want to buy. However, it needs a new kitchen and new bathrooms. The FHA 203k loan will provide you the money to buy  the home. In addition, the necessary funds to do the renovations will also be provided. As each step in the renovation is completed, the necessary funds will be dispersed.

The FHA 203k loan also is available for a refinance, and works in a similar fashion for a home that you already own.

What Work Can You Do?

What types of repairs or alterations will the FHA 203k provide funding for? You could this financing to add a deck, add a patio, put siding on the house or even add an addition. Inside, you can replace flooring, repair plumbing, bathroom remodels, kitchen remodels, install new heating and air conditioning systems and much more.

Can you use this loan to put it in pool? Sorry, that’s not something allowed from the FHA 203k loan.

Bottom line

With the 203k loan, you can either purchase or refinance a property.Additionally, it will provide the money to make the necessary repairs to upgrade the home. Since it’s an FHA loan, there are restrictions as to how much you can borrow. You can use the funds to pay for materials if you do the work yourself, but there will be inspections. However, any contractors you hire to do the work must be approved contractors. To learn more about the FHA 203k loan, speak with your mortgage professional.

When you’re ready to either buy or sell a home, please contact us. Would you like to search for a home in other Monmouth County towns?

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Buying a Home – The Mortgage Application

The Mortgage Application is a complex, but important, part of the process.

The Mortgage Application

Your contract to purchase a home contains many different clauses. And many of them don’t pertain to you. However, one that may states that you must be able to obtain a mortgage in order to actually purchase the home . It’s simple – if you can’t get a mortgage, you can’t purchase the home. The clause in the contract which confirms that you’ll get your mortgage is called the mortgage commitment. This is usually the last part of the contract that makes it a firm, binding contract. In addition, the contract calls for a date when you’ll need to provide a written mortgage commitment.

Mortgage Pre-Approval

Many people think that  the mortgage commitment is the same as the mortgage Pre-Approval. However, they’re very different.

One of the very first steps you should take, even before you begin to look at homes, is to  speak with a mortgage representative to get “Pre_Approved”. This can be done over the phone or in person, and it usually takes 10 – 15 minutes. There’s no charge for this service, and no commitment. The mortgage representative will look at your credit report, and ask questions about your income, debts and assets. After entering your info into the computer, they’ll let you know if, indeed, you can get a mortgage and for how much. A letter saying so will be given to you and possibly your Realtor.

Our recommendation is that you go through this process before looking at homes, because this will allow you to look at homes that you can afford. Then, once we find you the home you want, and write the contract, we’ll include a copy of the letter with the contract. By doing this, the seller knows that you should be able to proceed with the purchase.

The Mortgage Commitment

The mortgage commitment is different than the Pre-Approval.  The process takes time. We recommend that as soon as attorney review is concluded, you should formally apply for your mortgage. The mortgage lender will need copies of tax returns, pay stubs, proof of funds, investment statements and more. If the mortgage lender asks for any paperwork, you should supply it in a timely fashion.

In the contract, it  usually states that you’ll have the written mortgage commitment within 30 -40 days of signing the contract. Sometimes it takes a little longer. Therefore, if you’re unable to get the mortgage commitment by the due date, contact your attorney and request  an extension.

Once you’ve received your commitment, don’t make any major purchases such as a car or anything large. That’s because that will affect your debt to income ratio. Your lender will pull a  final credit report a few days before closing. Also – if at all possible, don’t change jobs until after closing, as this will affect the mortgage also.

When you’re ready to either buy or sell a home, please contact us.

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Buying a Home – The Contract

There are many steps to buying a home. Let’s discuss, in depth, the contract, which is one of those steps.

Buying a Home

I’ve heard people say that buying a home is one of the most stressful things you’ll ever experience.  Since Bunny and I have purchased nine homes of our own during our life together, we can personally attest to that.  And even though you may have done this before, it can be a daunting experience. As Realtors, we’ve also sold more than 400 homes.  Consequently we’ve helped many people through the process. As a result, we can use our experience to help make your home buying experience as smooth and stress free as possible.

Write the Contract

Once you’ve found your dream home,we’ll need to write a contract. Typically, your Realtor will prepare a contract for you to sign, using a standard form approved by the NJ Association of Realtors. The pertinent information about the transaction will be entered into this standard contract. Information entered in the contract will be the purchase price, deposit amounts and the time frame for the deposits will be made. If a mortgage is involved, it will include the mortgage amount, the payment schedule and the mortgage commitment due date. In addition, it will list what’s included in the sale, such as appliances or other personal property.

What is not included in the purchase price is also in the contract. This could be lighting fixtures, window treatments or other items. This ensures that no mistakes are made as to what is or isn’t included in the purchase price. Time frames for inspections are also included, as well as the closing date.

Once your Realtor has prepared the contract, your agent will explain what the contract entails. However, should there be parts of the contract that you don’t understand, don’t be afraid to ask questions. Next, all of the buyers will sign the contract. Once that’s complete, your Realtor will then forward the contract to the seller’s Realtor, who will present it to the seller. After some negotiation, hopefully you will come to an agreement with the seller and you have completed the next step towards purchasing your home.

Standard Disclaimer

I’m not an attorney, nor do I play one on TV. For legal advice, do not ask me, consult with your attorney. However, I am a Realtor, and I can help you buy or sell a home. I’ve come to an agreement with the attorneys I recommend. They don’t sell homes, and I don’t give legal advice. This has been working well for us. So – when you’re ready to either buy or sell a home, please contact us.

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