Buying a home is a big deal. For most homebuyers, a real estate purchase is one of the largest financial transactions they will make. This is why it is crucial to take your time, prepare, do research, ask questions, and work with professionals who you trust and who know the real estate market in the area(s) you are exploring.
While it shouldn’t be the only research you do, looking at market conditions through the scope of the experiences of your peers and neighbors is something to take into consideration. The National Association of Realtors® conducts an annual survey of recent home buyers and sellers to gain insight into detailed information about their experiences, the results of which provide consumers with an understanding of recent trends and changes. Here are some of the key takeaways from the 2017 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers New Jersey Report prospective buyers in New Jersey may find useful:
- In New Jersey, the median home price was $282,000; buyers typically purchased their homes for 97% percent of the asking price.
- Seventy-five percent of recent buyers in New Jersey found their real estate agent to be a very useful information source; 86% found websites very useful in the home search process.
- Buyers typically searched for 12 weeks and looked at 10 homes.
- Those who did not search the Internet typically searched for 10 weeks and looked at five homes.
- Ninety-two percent of buyers purchased through a real estate agent; 41% used an agent that was referred to them by a friend, neighbor, or relative.
- Fifteen percent of buyers said saving for a down payment was the most difficult step; of those buyers, 73% percent reported that student loan debt made saving for a down payment difficult, 50% had credit card debt, and 45% had car loans.
Ready to start your search? Here are four ways you can pave the way for a smooth process.
Make a List, Check it Twice
A good jumping-off point is creating a list of the things you need in a home, meaning that their absence could be a deal-breaker. From there, work your way to the things you want. Things that are permanent, like location, are strong contenders for the “needs” column. “Wants” are more likely things that you can add or change on your own. The list may evolve throughout the search process, and that’s OK! Establishing that point of difference will prove itself useful. Try to be as thoughtful and realistic as possible, but know that there are no right answers! At the end of the day, you’re the one who will be living in this home.
Open House, Open Mind
Even if you’re not quite ready to start making offers, visiting open houses in neighborhoods you are interested in calling home one day is a great research tool. It offers you a sneak peek into the homes you’re looking at, as well as the neighborhoods and people surrounding it, and helps you set realistic expectations of what you can get for your budget.
As you’re touring a home, try not to let yourself get overly concerned with aesthetic details. For example, if you’ve ever watched “Love It or List It,” “House Hunters” or other HGTV fan favorites, you are no stranger to the “paint color” comment. Don’t like a single paint color in the entire house? No problem! The great thing about paint is it’s probably the easiest thing to change about a house.
Be a Nosy Neighbor
There are some things you simply can’t know about a neighborhood unless you live there…so why not ask the neighbors before you buy? Some people might feel a little uncomfortable striking up a conversation with a stranger, but now is no time to be shy! If you see any neighbors outside during an open house, simply explain you’re interested in a house for sale in their neighborhood and ask if they wouldn’t mind answering a few questions. Stuck on what to ask? Realtor.com suggests the following:
- How would you describe the area, and what it’s like living here?
- If you could change anything at all about the neighborhood, what would it be?
- Do particular schools have a reputation for being strong or weak in a certain area?
- How do people like to socialize in the neighborhood?
- Is there anything that I should be aware of with this property?
The answers to these questions could be the very thing that makes your decision for you.
Show Them What You’re Worth
Ready to be taken seriously as a buyer? Taking the extra step to get pre-approved for a mortgage is an excellent way to show sellers you mean business. A pre-approval letter validates how much home and mortgage a buyer can afford with a lender. Securing a pre-approval can make a buyer more attractive to a seller not only because it legitimizes your value, but because it shows you’re able to move quickly on the property. For your own edification, as a buyer, a pre-approval amount also provides you with a realistic idea of the budget you’re able to move forward with. It’s common to shop around to find the best deal possible, so feel free to seek out offers from various lenders.
You want to work with a mortgage specialist who knows your market. If you are looking for a home in or around Bergen County, that’s who you’ll find at NVE Bank. With headquarters in Englewood and branches throughout Northern New Jersey, the mortgage professionals at NVE are also your neighbors. That means that, unlike bigger banks, our customers have access to experts who provide service quickly and with a local point of view. As a community bank, we can also offer customers competitive mortgage rates to make their home-buying dreams become a reality. To the delight of the 15% of buyers who said saving for a down payment was the most difficult step, our First Time Home Buyer Mortgage program can help qualified buyers purchase a home with a down payment as low as 5%*! We also offer a suite of convenient and helpful online mortgage tools, such as our Home Loan Calculator, to further guide you through the process of choosing and obtaining the loan that meets your needs.
Learn more by speaking with an NVE Lending Specialist! Call 201-816-2800, ext. 1230, email us for more information at firstname.lastname@example.org, or apply for a mortgage online at nvebank.com.
* Eligibility and restriction requirements apply.