Making Your Real Estate Dreams Come True

Archive for August, 2014

Do you know how to attract buyers?

Do you want to sell your home?

The first step is, of course, the list your home with a reputable real estate agent and have it exposed to as many potential buyers as possible.

When buyers first hear about your home – through their agent or through some marketing your agent has done – they often will drive by the area. When they drive by, they’re looking at the neighborhood and making sure it feels like some place they’d like to live. If they like it, they’ll make an appointment to come see it. If there’s anything they don’t like, they won’t make an appointment and you’ve lost an opportunity to get that buyer in to see the home.

It’s very important that your home’s first impression is a great one. Paying attention to the details that make up your home’s curb appeal will make a big difference in how many buyers will see the home. Here’s what you need to know.




If you’re thinking of selling your home, call us for a free comparative home analysis and find out what your home is worth!

Buying a home with a 203(k) Loan

Don’t Say “No!” Just Because the Home Needs Some Work!

The 203(k) program attempts to revitalize communities and expand homeownership opportunities. It is the Federal Housing Administration’s program for the rehabilitation and repair of single family properties.

When you buy a home, most mortgage financing is based on the appraised value of the property. If a property requires repair, the homebuyer usually has to obtain financing first to purchase the dwelling and then additional financing (usually at a high interest rate) to do the construction.  



What can a 203(k) be used for?

203(k) loans can really make a huge difference for the homebuyer.  With many foreclosures being vandalized, a 203K loan is the ideal tool to buy a home and be able to fix it up to bring it back to market level.  With a 203(k) loan, the borrower can get just one mortgage loan to finance both the purchase and the rehabilitation of the home.  The mortgage amount is based on the projected value of the property with the work completed, rather than just the appraised value. 203(k) can be used to purchase any one- to four-family dwelling that has been completed for at least one year. Homes that have been demolished, or will be demolished as part of the rehabilitation work, are eligible provided some of the existing foundation system remains in place. 203(k) can also be used to convert a one-family home to a two-, three-, or four-family dwelling or to decrease a multi-family dwelling to a single family home. Condominiums can be purchased with 203(k) loans with some restrictions. Only the owner/occupant is eligible for the loan and the planned rehabilitation must be limited to the interior of the unit.

 Improvements considered “luxury” improvements are not eligible but painting, room additions, decks are all eligible. All properties purchased with 203(k) funds must meet energy conservation standards and must meet smoke detector standards. These loans are also available for investors but at a higher interest rate.  

How does it work?

You’ll need to find a Renovation Loan Specialist who can help you out.  Here in NJ they will do an appraisal on the property and determine what the value will be based on the repairs.  Once a value has been determined above the sale price, you’ll have X amount of funds to use towards the renovations.  All the work must be done by a state certified contractor.  You submit the bills to the bank and they will pay the contractor.  

What do you do next?

If you’ve found a home that you love, your real estate professional will help you to execute a Sales Contract including a contingency upon the loan approval of your Section 203(k) financing.

At loan closing, the mortgage proceeds will be disbursed to pay off the seller of the existing property and the Rehabilitation Escrow Account will be established. As construction progresses, funds are released after the work is inspected by a HUD-approved inspector. When all work is completed, you will provide a letter indicating that all work is satisfactorily complete and ready for final inspection.  If there are unused contingency funds or mortgage payment reserves in the Account, the lender must apply the funds to prepay the mortgage principal.

Using a 403(k), you could buy a fixer-upper and end up with the nicest home on the block!


For more information:

Dear TZ – I found a great house but it needs a lot of work. Can a 203k help me?

Applying for a 203K loan


What every Homebuyer needs to know about 203k

Making an Offer

Finding the right house is a pretty exciting experience. The house feels like a home when you walk in – the rooms are the right size, the floor plan suits you, the location is exactly where you want to be, and you can’t wait to move in!



So you tell your real estate professional, “Wayne and Jean, this is the one! We want to make an offer!”

You want to ensure that your offer appeals to the sellers:

1. Price. Your REALTORS will help you determine the appropriate sale price for the home. You might be offering close to the list price or you might be a little below. If you’re below list, you’re going to want to provide the comps that you used to determine that the price you’re offering is fair.

2. Terms. Factors in your offer other than the price can impact how it is received by the seller. For example, a close date that is soon or far in the distance might appeal more.

3. Financing. The type of mortgage that you’re securing will also make a difference – some mortgages are quicker to approve and are more likely to approve. You want to provide your pre-approval letter and all documentation to help the sellers view you as a serious buyer.

4. Earnest money. The amount of downpayment that you’re providing might also help the sellers make a decision. If you’re putting down a lot of money, they’ll know that you really are ready, willing, and able to buy the house.

5. Conditions. If you have any contingencies – you need to sell your current home, for example – that may impact the seller’s decision to accept your offer. Some buyers request that the seller pay some or all of the closing costs – that might only appeal to the seller if your offer is strong.  You will want to make your offer contingent upon an inspection and the seller may specify limits to this.

Once you’ve written the offer, your REALTORS may do two more things to strengthen your position, particularly in a home that may have multiple offers.

6. Write a personal letter. When you make an offer to buy a home, you’re essentially entering into a financial agreement with another person. But buying and selling a home is an emotional process as well, and there are times when we’ve asked our buyers to write a personal letter to the seller. This letter can be as short as one or two pages and usually appeals to the seller’s sense of pride in the home. The buyers will describe their family and what their plans are for the home once they move in. Point out the things in the home that you lvoe.

7. Present the offer in person. Some sellers will allow the REALTOR to present an offer in person. This gives us the opportunity to share some personal information about you with the sellers and hopefully persuade them that your offer is not only legitimate but that you will care for the home with the same love that they did. Your agent can also begin negotiations at this point and you might have a signed contract!



When you find the right home, entrust your offer in the hands of a REALTOR who understands that buying a home is both a financial decision as well as an emotional decision!


What is Escrow?

What is Escrow?

When your real estate agent says that money will be “In Escrow,” do you know what they’re talking about?

Escrow is an arrangement in which you pay a third party money for something and then that third party disburses it for you. Typically, some conditions must be met.

Taxes and Insurance


A common use of escrow is in the payment of property taxes and insurance by a homeowner’s mortgage lender. The mortgage lender collects mortgage payments monthly and included in these payments is enough money to cover the real estate taxes and property insurance. Then, when the taxes and insurance are due, the lender will pay the taxes directly. This gives the lender the assurance that the taxes and insurance will be paid, thus reducing his risk in loaning the money. Every year, the escrow account is analyzed to ensure that the holder of the escrow account has enough money to pay the taxes and insurance but not an excessive amount.

Deposit on a PurchaseHand Putting Deposit Into Piggy Bank

Another common use of escrow is when a potential home buyer provides a deposit on a home he wishes to buy. The deposit money is not given to the home seller until closing so it is held in escrow until the closing. This provides some assurance to the seller that the buyer is actually committed to purchasing the home, but it also allows the buyer the comfort of knowing that the money can’t be taken if the seller doesn’t cooperate.

Unfinished Construction 2963624560_d6570667a0_z

A third situation in which you’ll hear the term escrow is during the negotiation of a home purchase. Imagine that a homeowner has agreed to replace an appliance or complete some construction but it hasn’t happened by closing. In order to prevent delay of closing, the attorneys may make an arrangement in which the seller will deposit  some sum of money in escrow as a sort of security against the appliance or the construction. Then, when the buyer has indicated that the appliance has arrived and is in good condition or that the construction was completed to specification, the money will be returned to the seller.


At any time during a real estate transaction, if you don’t understand a term being used, be sure to ask your real estate professional!






Turn that Frown Upside Down!

According to Mark Twain, the best way to cheer yourself up is to cheer up someone else.










Do you know someone who needs cheering up? 






  • Try listening to them. What a pure joy it is to have someone let us vent our frustrations! Don’t offer advice, don’t offer to help. Just listen!

smiling dog

  • Token gifts – flowers from the garden, a bag of M&Ms, a new magazine, a sincere compliment – can make someone smile. (FYI – a new color of nail polish works for me.)






  • How about a joke? A corny one can work just as well as a great joke.










Make it a great day – for you and for the people around you!


Union County Market Reports – July 2014

When you’re ready to buy or sell a home, one of the first steps you need to take is to educate yourself about the local market conditions. Here’s what you need to know this month:


For more information on selling your home:


Tag Cloud

%d bloggers like this: