When you buy a home in New Jersey, you will be working with a group of professionals who will assist you from the moment you start the home-buying process until you move into your home. Who are these people and how will they help you?
Although most people who want to buy a home first start by looking on the internet for homes, I think they are jumping the gun. My recommendation is to first start with your mortgage loan. You need to know how much loan you will be approved for before you know the price range of house you can afford to buy. Get referrals to mortgage brokers from people you know in the area in which you want to live, call the local community banks in the area in which you want to live, and call the big banks. Get a list of their loan rates, their costs to do business with you and the loan amount that they will approve. I would advise you to actually apply for a smaller loan than recommended because you will likely want to furnish the home that you are buying. If you are stretched by your mortgage payments, you will not have money to buy furniture or new curtains or appliances. Add the mortgage amount to the money you have for a down payment and that is the amount of house you can afford.
Now that you know how much house you can afford, you can start looking for what houses are in your budget. You may find that you don’t like the houses that you can afford in the town in which you want to buy, so you will change the town in which you are looking. Or you may decide you love a particular town so much that you will buy a smaller, less expensive house in that town. This is when you start working with a realtor. The realtor can take you to different houses in different towns so you can see the houses that you find on the internet. In real life, those houses may look worse than the pictures. Or your realtor may recommend that you look at a house that you did not catch on the internet. How do you find a good realtor? Ask family and friends who live in the area in which you want to live if they have any recommendations. These realtors are most familiar with the houses and the particular plusses and minuses of each town. Interview each realtor to see if you want to spend hours with them while you are look for your new home.
In northern New Jersey, once you sign a contract to buy a home, you will need a real estate lawyer. The lawyer you pick should be one who concentrates on residential real estate. Get referrals from your realtor and anyone you know who has recently bought or sold a home and liked their lawyer. Interview each lawyer to find out about his/her real estate law experience and to see if you feel comfortable with each candidate. Don’t just choose based on the lowest fee that you are quoted.
I recommend to all my buyer clients that they have the home they will buy inspected, unless they are tearing down the entire structure and rebuilding a new house. It is likely that your realtor and your real estate lawyer will have recommendations for you. Find out how thorough the home inspection is and what their report looks like. I prefer home inspection reports that include full descriptions of the problems and pictures of what the problem looks like.
Finally, unless you are moving your own possessions, don’t forget to find a good mover. You want one who is local (if you are moving across the country, find a mover in your new town who has arrangements with cross-country movers), who comes recommended by your realtor or family or friends. Ask each mover how long they have been in business and check their Better Business Bureau record. Have each mover come to your home and give you a written estimate. Ask about what services you are getting for the price you are quoted. Ask for what insurance they provide in case they break anything. Check the internet to see if there are any complaints that other users have posted.
Buying a home can be a very stressful time in your life. By getting recommendations and researching the team that will help you buy your home, you have a better chance that you will have a better home-buying experience.