New Jersey Real Estate News & Blog

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...

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Outdated fixtures or not having enough space or light, among other things, can make a home feel tired and old.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...

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...

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....

When to Consider Rent-to-Own

While rent-to-own isn’t something you hear about too often, it’s still an option here in Canada. And with the market being as hot as it is in major cities around the country, it might be an option you’d like to consider.

What is it? 
Rent-to-own is when you sign both a lease agreement and an option to purchase agreement with the landlord. It’s usually used when someone has bad credit or lacks the funds for a down payment and therefore can’t yet secure a mortgage but would like to begin contributing toward the goal of homeownership. The lease will lay out typical things a rental lease covers, while the option to purchase will cover the details such as what the purchase price of the home will be and when it will be available for the tenant to purchase.

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Should You Remodel Before Selling or Lower Your Asking Price?

Some buyers are willing to purchase a house that needs repairs in exchange for a lower price, while others want a house they can move into immediately. If your home needs work, you may be torn between fixing it up to sell it for a higher price and lowering your asking price to save yourself the trouble. Consider the type of work your house needs and the local real estate market to decide what to do.

Would Fixing Up Your House Make Financial Sense?
Some home improvements have a much higher return on investment than others. Buyers are primarily interested in updated kitchens and bathrooms. If those rooms are dated, remodeling them would be a smart investment. Optional renovations, such as creating an open floorplan, might not pay off as much. Sometimes simple cosmetic changes, such as repainting...

Why You Should Talk to Neighbors Before Deciding to Buy a House

If you’ve fallen in love with a house, you shouldn’t make an offer right away. There could be important information that the real estate agent doesn’t know or isn’t legally allowed to disclose, but you could get a fuller picture by talking to other people: the neighbors. They will likely give you the unvarnished truth, and some of the things they say might cause you to pass on what you thought was your dream home.

How to Talk to Neighbors
If you see people outside while you’re in the neighborhood, simply introduce yourself, tell them you’re thinking about buying a house on the street and ask if they’d mind answering a few questions. This may feel awkward or intimidating, but people are often surprisingly forthcoming....

Are Home Improvements Tax-Deductible?

When it’s time to file taxes, people want to claim as many deductions as possible. Home improvements are defined for tax purposes as work that increases the value of a home, extends its useful life or modifies it so it can be used for a new purpose. Examples include adding a new room, upgrading plumbing or electrical wiring, remodeling the kitchen or bathroom, replacing the roof, and adding a deck or walkway. Home improvements may be tax-deductible, but only in specific circumstances.

Home Used Exclusively as a Residence 
If you only use your house as a residence, the costs of home improvements are not tax-deductible, but they may reduce the amount of taxes you’ll need to pay later when you sell your home. The basis is the amount of money you have invested...

Four Strategies for a Faster Sale

Most sellers hope for a quick sale so they can begin moving into a new home. Unfortunately, things don’t always move that fast in the real estate world.

You may not have the luxury of waiting for an offer that meets your price. A seller may need to sell quickly because of a new job, a change in relationship or even a death in the family.

If you fall into the category of someone who needs to sell quickly, these strategies will get you the speedy resolution you desire.

Tell your agent. Make sure you explain to your agent how valuable time is to you. They will have experience in knowing what to do to get a home sold faster, and can better guide the direction of the sale.

Price it right. There’s nothing that leads to a quick sale faster...