How a Stager Prepares a Home for Market
Getting a home ready to sell in any market can seem daunting to anyone. While it may take some extra motivation and hard work, staging a home can make it a standout property that grabs any buyers' attention.
Here are some examples of how the best home stagers show off a home to nab multiple offers—often above the listing price.
Cue inviting curb appeal
A home stager may refresh a property's exterior by updating the original siding with vinyl, adding new shutters, and replacing outdoor light fixtures. A few weeks before listing, weeding, mulching, and powerwashing the walkways also go a long way.
Depersonalize and neutralize
Buyers want to envision themselves in the home. A stager will remove any personal elements like family photos, children's toys, and collectibles. They may choose neutral palettes, furnishings with clean lines, modern sectionals, new window treatments, cozy-chic accents, and pops of warm colors to brighten the space.
When staging something like a kitchen eat-in area, they will look for ways to simplify and brighten. For example, removing personal wall art and extra objects can help make the space feel larger and more inviting.
Create a cozy bedroom
Bedrooms are key spaces for buyers to connect with. After removing personal items, stagers often repaint the owner's suite and extra bedrooms, and follow up with fresh bedding, colorful pillows, inviting lighting, and modern area rugs that showcase hardwood floors.
Put simply, staging "sets the stage" for potential buyers. By redecorating, rearranging furniture, cleaning, and employing other aesthetic strategies, a professional home stager makes the property look as appealing as possible to get top-dollar from buyers and to secure happy clients.
Contact us for more trick and tips in real estate.
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How to Negotiate like a Real Estate Pro
Most real estate brokers fall into one of three categories when it comes to negotiations. Some are unaware or nervous. Others are savvy and prepared. And the rest land somewhere in between. To become a confident negotiator with successful outcomes, equip yourself with the following tools.
Adding these practical tools to your arsenal can boost your negotiating confidence and support successful outcomes for you, your team, and your clients. At JJ Elek, you'll be a part of a team that sets you up for success. Contact us if you're interested in taking your career to the next level.
Ready to buy or sell? Whether you are moving across the street or across the country our agents have years of experience and are ready to help.
Call Today!! (732) 634-9100
Home Improvement Projects You Should Not Ignore
When the temperatures drop and the leaves start to fall, it's time to take a good look at your home's plumbing. Preventative measures are key to avoiding damage and pricey repairs. To help you with your maintenance efforts, we've gathered some of the most common plumbing problems that start in the fall season.
Preventable Plumbing Problems
Plumbing issues can happen at any time, but fall and winter are the prime times for pipe damage. Instead of waiting until it's too late, use these tips and stay ahead of it.
Contact us today for more tips for selling your home.
Ready to buy or sell? Whether you are moving across the street or across the country our agents have years of experience and are ready to help.
Call Today!! (732) 634-9100
Recent Home-Selling Rules You Should Break
The pandemic created a seller's dream in the real estate market, but many of the trends have changed. If you're looking to sell and get the best possible outcome, you may want to consider breaking some of the common home-selling rules you may have heard recently.
"Set your price as high as you want"
At the peak of the pandemic, you could easily price your home above market value and still create a bidding war. With more options becoming available in the current market, you're better off setting the right price at the start. Most markets will see at least a 10% decrease in sales price over the next year and a half.
"Sell as is"
Many sellers were able to get multiple offers without much-needed repairs, but post-pandemic, this isn't the case. A recent HarrisX and Realtor.com survey of 449 Americans who sold their home in the past 12 months found that sellers "are giving into buyers' requests on a number of things that might have seemed unthinkable just months ago." Buyers are looking for the home inspection contingency again and requesting repairs pre-sale. In fact, now that the inventory is increasing, you're more likely to get the best offer by also taking the time to stage your home before listing it.
"Your home will sell fast"
Pre-pandemic, the average home took anywhere from three months to a year to sell. Once COVID hit, homes sold within days of listing because of the limited amount on the market. Today, the trend is moving toward more days on market. In fact, recent statistics found the average time on the market for a home is 50 days. That's seven days more than last year, but still 18 days less than the typical time before the pandemic.
"It doesn't matter when you list your home"
During the pandemic, you'd get offers regardless of the season. Now, trends are showing a return to the more traditional selling cycle, with spring and summer getting the most sales.
Despite this gradual shift in buyer behavior, there's no denying that there's still plenty of interest. If you're looking to sell your home, partner with an agent at JJ Elek Realty. We'll help you navigate the market and get the best deal possible.
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Now that you've invested in a new home, what does it take to increase its market value? Building equity is one the biggest financial benefits of home ownership. Here are some ways you can start building yours today.
Make the most of mortgage payments
A portion of every mortgage payment pays off your loan's principal, with most of it going to interest in the loan's early years. To make the best use of your money, consider the following:
Adding the right amenities and making smart improvements can also increase your home's market value, which ultimately means more equity for you. Which projects will bring the best return on your investment? Popular features can vary by area and home type but many of today's buyers typically love updates and enhancements to:
The realities of a buyer's or seller's market will have an impact on how much return you'll get when you sell. Work with a professional real estate agent and financial professional when the time comes. Contact JJ Elek to learn more.
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In today's red-hot real estate market, more and more people are searching for homes in New Jersey. As you begin your home-buying journey, it's important to know what type of construction suits your unique situation — a resale or newly built home. Let's break down some of the benefits and drawbacks of each.
3.Architectural details and history
Older homes are more likely to offer aesthetic details that would be difficult and expensive to replicate. Many older properties also have great stories behind them, which you become part of when you move in.
The Drawbacks of Existing Homes
Outdated floor plans
Barring extensive remodeling, you're unlikely to find modern floor plans in existing homes. The kitchens, bedrooms, and living rooms may not match the style you're seeking.
Potential for more repairs and maintenance
Unplanned repairs to roofing, heating systems, and appliances can have you spending money where you didn't expect to.
Older houses may be poorly insulated and rely on environmentally unfriendly resources like oil for heat.
The Drawbacks of New Construction
New construction is typically more expensive than a resale home. For example, the median sale of an existing home in the US jumped to nearly $391,200 in April 2022, while a brand-new home topped $450,600 that same month.
If you're signing up for a home during the construction phase or building a custom home, it could take several months longer to move in compared with an existing property. This will vary by market and builder, so consider budgeting time for potential delays. If the construction is complete, this won't be an issue.
The area where the earth has been cleared to make way for new construction can feel stark and exposed with a newly constructed home. This is because it takes years for landscaping to grow and bring natural life to the property.
Still Deciding What's Right for You? Let JJ Elek help.
JJ Elek agents have years of experience with existing homes and new construction in the NJ market. We're ready to help you find exactly what you're looking for. Contact us today.
Call Today!! (732) 634-9100
Home Projects for You and Your Little Helpers
When your children are home more often, and you're looking for ways to keep them safe and busy, why not engage them in some fun projects to do around the house?
There are plenty of creative ways to alleviate the boredom and frustration they may be feeling after spending less time at school. With just a few supplies and some tools you likely have lying around the house, you can keep those little hands busy while giving your house some TLC.
3 DIY Projects for Home Improvement and Kid Enjoyment
A fun way to brighten up the entrance to your home is to give an older mailbox a makeover. All it takes is a few supplies and extra time to deliver a smile to your child's face–and the mail carrier's! Here's what you need
Once you both have your facemasks on, it's time to start. First, sand off any rust and old paint on your mailbox. Then have your child assist you with placing painters tape over the mail flag or any address numbers to protect them from the paint. Spray the box with aluminum primer, allowing it to dry before using the metal spray paint. Consider customizing your mailbox with stencils to create designs, letters, or flowers for some flair.
The gardening trend is hot right now. If you join in, you'll enjoy your own fresh vegetables, herbs, or flowers right outside your house. Raised garden beds are a fairly easy project for children to assist with and these beds are easy to maintain. This project also provides a natural outdoor classroom where you can help your kids learn measurements, basic botany facts, while boosting their physical and mental well-being. To make a 4×4 raised garden bed, all you need are the following:
Construct the rectangular box by attaching two 2x4s to each corner post (stacked vertically). Have your older child hold the boards securely in place as you drill. When you're finished building your structure, kids of all ages can assist you with picking out a sunny spot in the backyard for your raised garden bed and help you pour in the soil and plant flowers or vegetables.
It's nice for birds to have a safe spot to land in your backyard and even nicer for the whole family to watch as they come and go. With this project, you have options. You can construct your birdhouse using a pre-cut birdhouse kit available at most home improvement stores or make the cuts yourself on a 2×6 or even a spare fence post. Older kids can help wood glue or nail the house together while little ones can personalize it with paint.
There are so many ways to keep kids busy and entertained with super-easy DIY projects. Not only do you get to spend quality time with them, but your house can get some sprucing up in the meantime.
How to Find Your Dream Home in Today's Market
Finding your dream home is a big undertaking—one that can easily take months or years depending on what you're looking for. While the process can seem daunting at first, especially in today's competitive housing market, you can find the right home with the right planning. Rather than go it alone, we've broken down some of the steps for you here to get you started.
Make a list
Instead of haphazardly visiting open houses or browsing online, sit down and make a list of your needs and wants—which are two very different things. For instance, you may want a pool, but could technically live without it. You may need at least two bedrooms if you have children.
Understand that your needs and wants will probably change as you learn more about your housing options. Proximity to the city may start off as a priority, for example, but once you see the size of the homes available in your price range, you may decide a longer drive is bearable. Unless you have an unlimited budget, plan on making compromises along the way.
Know your finances
In New Jersey's hot housing market, getting your finances in order is a must. Determine your budget and how much wiggle room you have in order to keep your must-haves clearly in view.
Pick your preferred home style
Once you have the basics figured out, decide what features you want in a house. Do you want to live in a townhouse, condo or single-family house? How many stories and bedrooms do you want? Do you plan on spending time in an outdoor space? Knowing before you go can help narrow down your options.
Document your visits
When it's time to take your home tour, compare the features against the checklist you made. Do you need to re-evaluate any of your must-haves? Consider anything you may have left off of your list or anything you'd like to add.
Work with a JJ Elek Real Estate Agent
Once you know what you're looking for in a dream home, you'll be ready to find the right agent to partner with for your search. JJ Elek agents have years of experience in the NJ market and are ready to help you find exactly what you're looking for. Contact us today.
We had another great month! View our June Market Report.
The Latest Info on Mortgage Rates
Mortgage rates have been on a general upward trend for over a year, and in the last few months, they've taken an even bigger jump higher.
As the economy recovered from the pandemic, low interest rates fueled increased spending. At the same time, supply chain issues created shortages for items like microchips, building supplies and certain food items. These factors combined to drive inflation higher as supplies failed to meet demand. According to the latest Consumer Price Index (CPI), 12-month inflation hit 8.5% in March, the highest it's been since 1981.
Adding to the inflationary pressures is Russia's invasion of Ukraine, which has disrupted some financial markets. This war could also add to global food shortages as agriculture, fuel and fertilizer shipments from these countries are limited or disrupted.
Sitting on the sidelines of all this is the COVID-19 pandemic, while case counts were declining to start 2022 that could change. If we see a resurgence of COVID it could add uncertainty to the global economy.
Is It A Good Time to Buy a House?
Even though mortgage rates are higher now than the previous year, on a historical level, rates still aren't as high as they used to be. For example, in 2002, the average rate on a 30-year fixed mortgage was about 7%. In addition, the rate on a 5-year adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) is lower by 1.3 percentage points than a 30-year fixed mortgage rate. However, the historical average spread between these two rates is about 0.8 percentage points, making the 5-year ARM currently more attractive to borrowers.
Although the most popular form of home financing is the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage, adjustable-rate mortgages (ARMs) are also common. Thus, we may see a change in U.S. household mortgage trends. According to the Federal Reserve of New York, the ARM share has fluctuated substantially over time, reaching highs of 60 to 70 percent in 1994 but falling significantly in recent years. Nevertheless, buyers should be aware that the rate and consequently the monthly mortgage payment will change after the first 5 years, depending on economic conditions.
Experts caution against trying to time the market to secure the lowest mortgage rate, even though mortgage rates are important and a point or two can mean a lot over the life of the loan. Start the home-buying process when it's the next best step for your life circumstances and you have the finances to maintain homeownership. Shop around for a mortgage lender to get the best deal you can at that time–lenders' rates can vary significantly.
Schedule a Consultation with JJ Elek
If you'd like to get a better grasp on mortgage rates, the experts at JJ Elek Realty can help. Schedule a consultation with one of our experts today.
What's Hot and What's Not in Home Design
From dark hardwood flooring to home offices hidden away in closets, we're taking a look at what's hot and what's hot in-home design trends in 2022.
Not hot: The Cloffice
Early on in the pandemic, people started turning their closets into a home office. Coined the "cloffice," these makeshift offices served their purpose at a time when we all needed a quiet place to work. Homeowners are no longer looking for temporary workspaces, and if they are still working remotely, they're now looking for a more permanent, clearly defined home office (with windows!).
Hot: Light-colored flooring
After years of preferring dark hardwood flooring, we're seeing a resurgence in lighter wood plank flooring. One of the hottest trends is a color known as greige, a blend of gray and beige. It can offer a fresh look to bedrooms, living rooms and entryways. Darker colors can overpower a room at times. Lighter tones can make a room look brighter and larger, plus they camouflage dirt and dust much better than hardwood.
Wallpaper has been rising in popularity in recent years, but it's made a full comeback for 2022—just not in ways you might expect. You can use wallpaper to create a statement wall, provide a colorful backing for cabinets or line your shelving. Another outside-the-box idea is to use wallpaper on a ceiling to add dimension and excitement to your room.
Hot: Murphy beds
Creative furniture solutions, such as Murphy beds are coming back in a big way. These items are functional, allow us to do more in a small area, and have greater flexibility when designing a space.
Not hot: Minimalism
An uncluttered, sparsely decorated home can feel sad with a lack of personality. As we spend more time at home, they're seeking more meaningful interiors and placing more personal accents on display.
If you've always wanted to turn your home into a plant paradise, now's the time to do it. Rather than going the faux plants route, which may have been convenient in the past, this year you should go for the real deal. After all, plants add a little joy to your surroundings.
When it comes down to it, trust your own personal style. The design elements that make you happy are the best ones to choose!
JJ Elek Realty -Trusted for over 50 years! Call Today 732-634-9100.
Home Cleaning Tips That Can Help You Sell Faster
Selling a home can be difficult, but one of the easiest and most important steps is to make sure your space is spotlessly clean for potential homebuyers that walk through the door. Whether you hire a professional cleaning service or do it yourself, a few simple tasks will help your home look and feel brand new.
Emphasize the entrance
With any home tour, it's important to make a strong first impression. Consider replacing or painting the front door to liven up the outdoor entrance. Clean and polish any door knobs and fixtures. Place seasonal decorations like flowers on either side of the door or choose a wreath.
Declutter, depersonalize, and organize
Your home will look cleaner and bigger when it's not full of so much stuff. Keep only the essentials and put everything else in storage, or donate it. Be sure to remove any personal items like family photos, collectibles, and mementos, which make it more difficult for potential buyers to envision themselves living there.
Focus on floors
Take the time to steam clean all carpets, mop any vinyl flooring, and use a wood-cleaning product on any hardwood floors. Consider hiring a professional cleaning service for marble or tile.
Freshen up the paint
When was the last time you really looked at your walls? Painting the inside and/or exterior of your home can dramatically improve its appearance and make it feel fresh. Stick to neutral colors such as white, beige, or alabaster to appeal to more people. For the exterior, choose simple paint that matches other homes in the neighborhood.
Clean up the yard
Doing a simple landscaping cleanup can have a major effect on curb appeal. Start by mowing the lawn, weeding the flowerbeds, and pruning the bushes. Consider planting small flowers to add a pop of color.
Deep clean the kitchen and bath
The rooms buyers most closely inspect (and judge) in a house are the kitchen and bathroom. Wipe down or paint the kitchen cupboards, clear everything off the counters, and clean the grout between the backsplash tiles. Deep-clean the tile and grout in the bathrooms, and organize the medicine cabinets (buyers will open them). Make sure everything is sparkling clean. Nobody wants to imagine soaking in a dingy tub. Lastly, make sure no mold is present. Nothing is more off-putting to potential homebuyers than seeing mold in the kitchen or bathroom.
Looking for more tips on cleaning your home before putting it on the market? Reach out to one of our agents at 732-634-9100 for some recommendations.
3 Traits of Successful Real Estate Entrepreneurs
A successful real estate agent is like the conductor of a symphony, coordinating the different players to make a successful transaction a reality. At different points in the process, you're an analyst, salesperson, marketer, buyer's advocate, business manager, consultant, and negotiator, among other roles. You'll find that there are a number of qualities and traits that successful real estate entrepreneurs share.
Once we leave school, additional education becomes a choice. Many people choose to pursue a degree or certification, then stop, but for entrepreneurs, stopping is not an option. Knowledge is as necessary as nourishment.
There are plenty of ways to continue your education and build knowledge, including:
In the world of real estate (and life), there's a spectrum of decision-making. On one end are people who make decisions with no information whatsoever, and on the other end are those who dig up so much information that they find themselves paralyzed, unable to decide. Most of us are somewhere in between these two extremes, but successful real estate entrepreneurs can always make the decision.
As inflation climbs, real estate prices continue to break records, and our economy is finally feeling some ease after the pandemic, a natural entrepreneur can silence the noise and still pull the trigger to close the sale or get the listing.
Success does not come without failure. Entrepreneurs know this and find education, knowledge, growth, confidence, and opportunity in failure. They thrive on it. Unfortunately, most people are too concerned about the consequences of failure to step outside the box. Entrepreneurs are more concerned with the consequences if not trying.
At the end of the day, you get out of business what you put into it. If you're passionate about real estate and have similar traits to those mentioned here, you have a great shot at having a long and successful career. Join the successful team at JJ Elek today!
Should You Stage Your House to Sell It?
When you decide to list your house for sale, you may wonder whether or not to stage it. How much does staging cost? How do you do it right? Will it increase buyer interest? Let's take a closer look at the process.
What is home staging?
Home staging is the art of decorating your house to appeal to potential homebuyers. It allows potential buyers to envision themselves living in your home, which could increase the number of offers and size of the offers you get. Staging has many benefits that can lead to a successful sale without having to pay the many costs of a full redesign. Your best bet is to hire a professional stager who knows the elements of design and what appeals to buyers in your area.
Will staging help your home sell?
According to the International Association of Home Staging Professionals (IAHSP), an investment in home staging is always less than a price reduction or lower starting price. It's a proven, up-front investment to help get the highest rate of return on the sale of a property. In fact, it can net 5-20% more in the sale, according to statistics tracked by IAHSP and National Association of Realtors.
How much does it cost to stage a house?
Home staging costs around $1,500 on average but can range anywhere from $600 to $4,000. The pricing depends on the location, size, and list price of the property, as well as the number of rooms being staged, the type of furniture and decor, the duration of the initial staging agreement, and whether or not the property is vacant. The 2022 Home Staging industry statistics showed that $3,250 is the average investment for staging a vacant property.
Here's a breakdown of the costs you're likely to see:
Is home staging worth the price?
When it comes to staging your home to sell, the cost of staging is usually worth it. There are plenty of affordable ways to get the jobs done and the experts at JJ Elek realty can help. Contact one of our agents at 732-634-9100 for more information.
Are you a real estate agent looking for a secret weapon to compete with sites like Zillow? Hyperlocal marketing is your solution. Let's see what this strategy is and how you can implement it into your real estate marketing.
Any marketing strategy that's laser focused on a specific area, region, zone, or demographic is hyperlocal. You can start incorporating any of the following into your hyperlocal marketing strategy:
Let's say you consider yourself an expert in a specific area like Middlesex County. So, you focus your marketing efforts there and cast your net wide to try to reach everyone in that market. The problem? That strategy is not targeted enough to gain new leads. While you might have some success, Middlesex County can be broken down into many smaller sub-areas, with different types of neighborhoods, school systems, points of interest, and more.
Why wouldn't you develop a more specific, hyperlocal marketing campaign for several smaller zones within the Middlesex County region?
Benefits of a Hyperlocal Marketing Plan
Hyperlocal marketing offers many advantages over a traditional marketing strategy, including:
Working in smaller areas means connect with fewer people and spending less money on each area. The savings lets you test out different strategies and increase your budget and effort with the ones that work best.
If want to maximize your marketing budget and take your business to the next level, hyperlocal real estate marketing is for you. Leave traditional messaging behind, set up this effective new framework, and reel in more leads than ever before. JJ Elek Realty will help you with tips such as this and more! Contact us today to join our team.
How JJ Elek Retains the Very Best Real Estate Agents
In any industry, finding the right employees is one of the most important keys to success. At JJ Elek, nurturing top producers has been our secret to happy agents and sustained long-term growth.
Here are just some of the ways we retain our people.
We offer the latest tools and technology
At JJ Elek, we offer flexible technology solutions that allow agents to work in the way that best suits their style. Some agents work exclusively with clientele who prefer pen and paper. Others come to us with leads and want to continue using their own tools. Whether you need handholding and coaching or more autonomy, we offer it all.
We motivate agents with our commission structures
Different ways of structuring sales commission can have varying effects on how real estate agents are motivated. We offer one of the most favorable commission splits compared with most real estate companies in the Jersey area.
We highlight and recognize our agents' success
Consistent recognition of great work is another way we've built an influential company that new agents and experienced experts want to work for. From shout-outs on social media and annual events to rewards for productivity, we are proud to recognize our team's successes.
We support our agents
Our culture is built with genuine support for all of our agents—no matter how experienced or new you are. We meet regularly to discuss what's working and what's needed, and someone is always available to help you improve on what you do well and overcome any challenges. We also offer new agents access to high-quality coaching and consistent mentorship, something that other brokerages leave to your own efforts.
Want to Join the Team at JJ Elek?
New and seasoned agents alike are eager to work with JJ Elek for good reason. If you want to see what it's like to work for an agency that's invested in your success, contact us today at 732-634-9100.
Don't Waive These Contingencies When Buying a Home
While it's tempting to waive contingencies to make your offer more compelling, it can leave you unprotected from unexpected fees, health threats, and at worst, a bad investment.
Here are 5 of contingencies you should never remove:
The home inspection is the foundation on which all other contingencies are built. During the assessment a neutral expert assesses the home for issues with:
Everything may look good to your eyes, but you won't really know until the inspections are completed.
Appraisals commit the buyer to pay the agreed-upon price regardless of how big a mortgage the lender agrees to bring. If you waive this and the home is appraised for a lower cost than the sales price, you'll be on the hook for the difference.
If the official home inspection reveals a potential mold issue, a mold specialist needs to be brought in to analyze the issue. Serious mold issues can cause mild to major health problems and can be surprisingly expensive to fix.
This often gets overlooked or waived, but most experts warn against it when buying a home that has a septic system. This is water that you'll be drinking and bathing in, and like mold, issues with the system can be very expensive to fix and have health ramifications.
Contact JJ Elek Realty today at 732-634-9100 to help you through your home buying experience.
First-Time Homebuyer Guide
Buying a home can be challenging for a first timer. There are so many steps, tasks, and requirements to consider that can make you feel anxious. To make it a little easier, we've compiled a list of things to consider throughout the process.
Your down payment plays an important role when you're buying a home. A down payment is a percentage of your home's purchase price that you pay up front when you close your home loan. But how much do you actually need? Ideally, 20 percent is best, but it can be as low as 10, 5 or 0 percent for certain type of mortgages, like VA loans.
In addition to having a down payment, a first-time homebuyer will need a decent credit score. This three-digit summary is a numerical of your credit score detailing how well you've paid off past debts, like credit cards and college loans. In turn, the lender will use this information to decide whether to lend you money and at what interest rate.
This is the fun part! Go out and pick your favorite houses and set up appointments to see them in person. Make a list of must-haves, whether it's a new home or a fixer-upper, and then narrow down your options.
The seller will think it's a great offer if you pay cash, you've preapproved for a mortgage, and you're not selling a house first to fund the purchase.
A top-to-bottom home inspection will find things like termites, mold, and foundation issues—all of which are typically fixable.
Bringing together the buyer, seller, mortgage representative, title officer and others officially gets you the keys to your new home (once you've paid the down payment and closing costs, which are typically 2-7 percent of the home price).
Once all of the preceding steps have taken place…welcome home!
How the Delta Variant Could Affect the Housing Market
When the COVID-19 pandemic first struck the world, housing experts predicted that stay-at-home orders, closed businesses, and general uneasiness would result in a drop in home prices. Instead, we saw an unexpected hike in prices due to a significant lack of homes for sale. Buyers became more competitive as sellers became more hesitant to sell.
When vaccines became available and a semblance of normalcy returned, we started to see home prices level out. But then the Delta variant hit. Experts have been debating how the new variant will impact the housing market, so what can we expect?
Declining Mortgage Rates
The housing market may get an even bigger blow caused by a drop in mortgage rates. Since the Delta variant emerged, investors have begun shifting their overseas money into mortgage bonds, which has dropped mortgage rates to as low as 2.37% in some areas. If the pandemic worsens, these rates will drop even lower.
While this may inspire would-be buyers to begin shopping again in larger numbers, the increased transmission of COVID, plus any newly introduced stay-at-home mandates, could decrease the amount of people willing to sell, which would result in a boost to home prices.
No Reason to Panic
It goes without saying that buyers would love for more homes to become available, and for those homes to not be priced over market value, but the Delta variant doesn't appear to be cooperating with that goal. This doesn't mean you should expect things to get worse. In fact, the market may end up showing little to no change.
Vaccinated individuals may feel comfortable enough to continue home shopping as they have been, even with the rise of the new variant. And since no new stay-at-home orders have been issued, home prices will likely stay where they're at.
Looking to the Future
As it stands, the housing market hasn't changed drastically since the introduction of the Delta variant, but experts agree that more time is needed to determine its overall impact. Until then, it's important to stay informed and to contact a JJ Elk agent if you have any questions about buying or selling a home in the coming months.
The Eviction Moratorium and What It Means
The COVID-19 pandemic has been an unprecedented time for everyone across the world, including landlords and their tenants. Financial hardship, businesses shuttering, and loss of work have contributed to many Americans being unable to pay their rent.
The federal government, as well various states, have begun taking action to limit the impact COVID has had on tenants, including a moratorium on evictions, a halt of late rent fees, and prevention of utility shutdowns due to non-payment.
What is the Current Status of the Moratorium?
On August 3rd, 2021, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued an Agency Order on the current eviction moratorium in place until October 3rd, 2021. Titled Temporary Halt in Residential Evictions in Communities with Substantial or High Levels of Community Transmission of COVID-19 to Prevent the Further Spread of COVID-19, the order protects people from eviction if they're unable to pay their rent and meet the criteria below.
This order also requires that tenants who meet any of these criteria complete a declaration form. Since US states can put their own moratoriums in place, a tenant may still be protected by their state orders if they fail to meet the federal criteria listed by the CDC.
Contact JJ Elek Realty for More Information
Find out if your state has any tenant protections in place by visiting your state or governor's website. If you live in New Jersey, feel free to reach out to a JJ Elek Realty agent for more information.
Tips to Downsize Your Home
Whether you're a recent empty-nester, eager for a change, want to simplify your life, need to move closer to family, there are plenty of reasons to downsize your home. There are also plenty of ways to do it wrong!
Have no fear. We've seen it all when it comes to the downsizing, and we've created a short checklist to make it a little easier.
Your Downsizing Checklist
The best tip for downsizing is to know your strengths and weaknesses. If you're a super organizer, maybe you'll just need help moving boxes on moving day. If you have a hard time letting go of items, a professional organizer could be well worth your money.
Whatever your situation, once you've completed the process, you're likely to find it was a great decision financially and mentally.
How to Make Your House a Home
It can take a while for your house to feel like home when you first move in. Even when the boxes are unpacked and the shelves are stocked, it can still feel a bit too new. Only you know what makes you feel cozy, safe, and happy, but we're here to help you Here are some ideas to get you started.
Research shows that simply looking at art can reduce stress and make you happy. Hanging framed photos and other types of art in your house helps instill your individual personality and interests into the space. Adorn your walls with art sooner rather than later upon moving in.
Display items that remind you of your childhood home
For many of us, our childhood house stands out as what really feels like home. Whether it's a special piece of furniture, a jewelry box from your old bedroom, or even a few old board games, these things carry special meaning and will make you feel a sense of warmth. Display them if you have them.
Add extra light
Insufficient lighting, or worse, fluorescent lighting can detract from a house. Make sure your existing lighting fixtures emit warm temperature shades of white or yellow, which promote relaxation. And open the shades for daylight when possible.
Keep it clean
It's difficult to be completely comfortable in a place that's filthy or filled with clutter. Your physical space is an expression of the way you feel, and if you want to feel truly relaxed and at home, you should make an effort to keep your space worthy of relaxation. Keep your floors and other surfaces clean, and make it a habit to clear clutter before it gets out of hand.
Adopt a pet
There are few things that make a house feel more like a home than being greeted by the unconditional love of a pet. If you have the time, money, and desire to take on the care of an animal, consider adopting one at your local shelter.
Just like art and animals, plants and flowers can positively impact your mood and reduce stress. If you don't have the green thumb, there are plenty of houseplants that even the most famous plant killers can rely on for sustainable nature in their homes.
A house should be more than just a place to crash at the end of the day. Simple design details can capture feelings of warmth and pass those feelings on no matter where you are in the space. Take the time to make it feel homey. You deserve it!
Tips for Buyers in a Seller's Market
If you're trying to buy a house right now, you know the market isn't for the faint of heart. You can see a property you love one minute, and the next it's under contract. In this blog, we'll give you 5 tips for successfully navigating a seller's market in New Jersey.
A seller's market means that there's more demand for homes than there is supply. This is generally what we see in real estate markets today. It means buyers have a lot of competition when it comes to finding a home, and sellers have more leverage than the buyers.
In a seller's market, it's not uncommon for a house to go for more than the list price. In fact, properties are sometimes picked up by all-cash buyers. This is because they can close on the home faster than someone who needs to finance the purchase.
If you're looking to buy in a popular neighborhood, the listings are likely to be few and far between. When they do hit the market, then they're unlikely to be on the market for long. If you know where you want to be, make sure you're house hunting as soon as possible and ready to act quickly whenever you see something you love.
In today's market, there are likely to be multiple offers on a house. Be ready to throw your hat in the ring and have supplemental paperwork on hand like your mortgage pre-approval and proof of funds for the down payment. This will make the process swift and help you edge out any competitors.
Removing contingencies from your offer (inspections, mortgage commitments, etc.) can help make your offer more competitive. Sellers tend to see these contingencies as opportunities for a deal to fall through. If you make your offer clean, you'll make yourself a more attractive buyer.
As noted above, houses are likely to go for more than the list price in a seller's market. With this in mind, start out with a strong sale price. Sellers are likely to be enticed with a big payout. If you're able, a cash offer is also a great way to give yourself the advantage.
House hunting can feel incredibly overwhelming and discouraging right now, but don't give up! Just take the proper steps to prepare yourself, and you'll be in your dream home before you know it. JJ Elek Realty can help you today!
Everything You Need to Know About Closing Costs
If you've ever wondered what closing costs are and who pays them, you're not alone. They're often a mystery to first-time home buyers — and even first-time sellers. Here's a breakdown of what they are and who's responsible for them.
What Are Closing Costs?
Closing costs are fees paid to third parties to help facilitate the sale of a home. The total can range from 2 to 7 percent of a home's purchase price. This means a $250,000 house can expect the amount to run anywhere from $5,000 to $17, 500.
Who Pays the Closing Costs?
While both buyers and sellers pitch in to cover the fee, the majority of the cost is paid by the buyer since many of the fees are associated with the mortgage. Often, you'll see the buyer's share running about 3 to 4 percent compared to the seller's share of 1 to 3 percent.
When Are Closing Costs Paid?
While some of the closing expenses, like the home inspection fee, must be paid upfront before the home is officially sold, the bulk of the closing costs are paid upon the exchange of the keys.
What Fees Can the Home Buyer Expect to Pay?
Buyers should expect to pay the following (among others) as part of closing costs:
Keep in mind that at least three days prior to closing, the lender is required by federal law to send the buyer a closing disclosure outlining these costs.
What Fees Can the Seller Expect to Pay?
Home sellers typically cover fees associated with:
A Real Estate Agent Can Help
If you're curious what your closing costs will be, you can find many closing calculators online where you can plug in the numbers yourself. Otherwise, your best bet is to consult a real estate agent, lender, or mortgage broker for a more accurate estimate. Remember, before you close, you'll want to check all documentation to make sure all the costs line up with what you originally quoted. Contact JJ Elek today for more information about closing on a home
Selling Real Estate in 2021? Central Jersey is the Place to Be.
For Central New Jersey, a combination of pandemic-paused homebuyers, record-low mortgage rates, limited inventory and families leaving cities for the suburbs has created the perfect storm. You're set up for success if you're selling real estate in 2021. Let's explore why.
People are ready to buy again
Not only are housing prices expected to continuously rise, but due to increased demand, sellers should expect a competitive market. In fact, some sellers are seeing up to 30 offers on their property, and buyers are offering up to $130,000 over the asking price!
People will continue to leave New York City for the NJ suburbs
The New York Times found that about 5% of New York City residents and 18% of Manhattanites left the city between March and May of 2020. The pandemic's low mortgage rates and remote learning/work environment have accelerated the movement because families have more flexibility. Add to this concerns about health, safety, and reduced quality of life, and it looks like this migration will continue for the foreseeable future, which is great for home sellers.
Remote work is driving the demand for more space
Digital collaborations and hybrid learning continue to transform our daily routines, prompting home buyers to look for space that can support work and learning from home. More time in and around the home means home offices, multi-purpose living spaces, spacious backyards, and walkable communities will be on top of buyers' lists.
Mortgage rates are enticing buyers
Affordability is the best it's ever been, and all indicators point to another great year for home buyers, despite rising prices. A wide range of buyers can secure 2.5 to 2.9% for a 30-year fixed mortgage.
With so much uncertainty affecting the economy and day-to-day life, it can seem difficult to plan for the future. But thanks to expert forecasts and market patterns, we know to expect a red-hot seller's market in 2021. If you're ready to list your home, JJ Elek is here to help you sell it.
Tips for Selling Homes with Ease in Spring 2021
As the world faces a new normal in 2021, real estate agents face new opportunities and challenges. Make-up buying from the disruption of the pandemic will propel a demand of home purchases, with a healthy share of Millennial and Gen-Z first-time buyers along with trade-up buyers older generations.
How can real estate agents prepare for the surge in consumer spending and availability of homes on the market? Here are some tips to set yourself up for easy sales in spring of 2021.
Focus on Digital Marketing
Many people are still working remotely and practicing social distancing, and that means most potential buyers will be searching for homes online. Capitalize on SEO to showcase listings and attract new clients. Start a blog to share updates about local market conditions and available properties.
Stay Active on Social Media
Home buyers and sellers often check social media to find out more about an agent. Make sure your profiles are professional, approachable, and up to date. Provide consistent updates, with useful information for buyers and sellers, and links to available homes. Be interactive to start building a network of potential clients.
During these times, many sellers are concerned about showing their homes and buyers are reluctant to visit them. Agents who excel at photography can offer quality images and video for virtual tours to be posted on websites and social media. Showcase large properties with aerial photography using a drone, if possible.
Maintain Safety Protocols
Fear is common with the new normal. Agents must know and maintain safe protocols for showing homes and interacting with clients. Have hand sanitizer, masks, and cleaning supplies ready for use at all times. Confident agents who know how to handle all situations make buyers and sellers feel comfortable to take action.
As everyone remains curious about what 2021 will bring, real estate agents have opportunities to connect with clients in a meaningful way. JJ Elek agents are ready for the challenge.
Selling a home can be a stressful, complex process—but it doesn't have to be. Whether you need to sell quickly for a new job or you simply don't know where to start, there are a few tactics you can use to increase your home's marketability and decrease your time on the market. And the first step is partnering with JJ Elek Realty.
A JJ Elek Realtor can help you at every stage, from setting a price to marketing the property to closing the sale.
Preparing to Sell Your Home
Assessing your home is important at the beginning of the home-selling process. Problems like chipped paint, dirty walls, unfinished remodeling projects and cluttered garages can leave room for improvement. Our agents can help you make a list of the interior and exterior projects to complete before placing your home on the market.
Determining Property Value
Many factors go into determining the value of a home. The selling price is not cut and dry. The seller can negotiate the price, split closing costs, or offer different allowances, to make the sale of the home complete. A qualified JJ Elek agent can provide a fair market analysis of the homes for sale in your area.
Marketing Your Home to Sell
Working with a JJ Elek agent is the best way to harness some great marketing strategies for both traditional and online promotion of your home. There are a number of different ways that an agent can drive traffic to view your home, including:
Selling Your Home
When negotiating the offer and the counter-offer, a professional agent can help you sell your home faster and easier. Is the proposed offer near the asking price? What if several offers are received at the same time? Is the counter-offer fair? This negotiating process can seem very complicated, but if you're backed by the right JJ Elek agent, all of this can be made hassle-free.
Home-Closing Process for Sellers
The home-closing process is always changing. JJ Elek agents keep up with all the best practices to assist with evaluating the buyer's financing availability, successful home inspection completion, and various lender conditions (ex. title search, title insurance, termite inspections, surveys, and appraisals).
Survive the Move with JJ Elek
Moving can be one of the most emotional times in your life. We can help you with all of the questions you may have about the selling process. Contact us today to see how easy and stress-free our experienced agents can make it for you!
Each year, U.S.companies transfer 500,000 - 600,000 employees, and about 60 percent of the moves involve the purchase or sale of a home (and often both). Numbers like these show the demand for real estate agents with relocation expertise to make the move as painless as possible.
If you're relocating out of state for any reason, your real estate agent can help at every stage of the relocation process, from before moving day to settling in. Let's get into some specifics.
Finding a moving company
Agents can take some of the pressure off of a hectic moving schedule by finding a reputable moving service and booking you a great price. Since they often refer clients to movers, there's a good change they can get you a better deal than you'd find on your own.
Need someone to pack and ship your things to you? Have any items that require special care in moving? Real estate agents can provide tons of tips. From getting your hands on moving boxes and optimizing the packing process to advice on disposing toxic or recyclable items, having an expert on your side during this stressful part of relocating helps a lot.
Visas and immigration compliance
If your move is international, your agent or a relocation specialist can help ensure you can legally enter and work in your new home country.
Finding a new home
Whether you're buying or renting, a real estate agent can put you in contact with a vetted real estate agent who is an expert in your new home area. They can also help navigate the closing process if you buy. Some states use a lawyer to close while others don't, and earnest money totals can vary from a few hundred dollars to 10 percent of the purchase price. It's good to have an expert fielding these issues and any questions.
Updating legal information, transferring services to a new home, and switching service providers all happens during different stages of the moving process. An agent will know how and when to update each to avoid stressful moving surprises.
At JJ Elek, we know how stressful relocation can be, so we put extra care into making the process as smooth as possible. If you're relocating to or from New Jersey, contact us today for more information.
If you're a home seller who assumed you should write off the housing market as a lost cause this summer, think again. Now that lockdown restrictions are loosening up in some states, home buyers are out with a vengeance—and many of them are eager to make up for lost time. Indeed, houses are selling now, creating a red-hot housing market. If you're waffling on the matter, now's the time to move.
A Very Significant Demand with an Acute Inventory Shortage
As companies continue requiring employees to work remotely, people looking at their existing homes in new ways. They're envisioning more space to help them do their job and living farther from the office to get more bang for their buck. This has given rise to buyer demand in the suburbs and in smaller, cheaper cities.
That said, home sales could be even hotter if there were more homes for sale. The inventory of existing homes available fell a staggering 18.2 percent annually to just 1.57 million at the end of June 2020 (June 350,000 fewer homes that this time last year. The latest numbers from the U.S. Commerce Department's monthly report noted new-home sales increased for the second consecutive month, going up 13.8 percent above the revised May rate and 6.9 percent above the June 2019 estimate of 726,000.
In June, sales were up in all areas of the country, with the biggest gain coming in the Northeast, a surge of 89.7 percent. Sales jumped 18 percent in the west, 10.5 percent in the Midwest and 7.2 cent in the south. Take a look at the market breakdown:
New-Home Sales: 776,000
For-Sale Inventory: 307,000
Months' Supply: 4.7 months
Median Price: $329,200
Further Sales Gains on the Horizon
Home sales are being helped by historically low mortgage rates, which earlier this month dropped below 3 percent for a 30-year-fixed rate mortgage for the first time in nearly 50 years. Economists believe low rates and the aforementioned changes in home preferences brought on by the pandemic will combine to support further sales gains this year.
Regardless of the state of the market, the experienced agents at JJ Elek Realty make the home-selling easy and hassle-free for our valued customers.
No matter how you look at it, the economic fallout from the coronavirus will be brutal, with a projected 6.5 percent decline in real gross domestic product in 2020, and an unemployment rate of 9.3 percent at year-end, according to forecasts by the Federal Reserve.
You'd expect these catastrophic circumstances to weaken the housing market, but what we're starting to see is quite the opposite. Listings platforms like Zillow have noted normalization in website traffic, hinting that buyers are ready to shop again. A boost in weekly mortgage applications goes even further, suggesting shoppers are already prepared to buy.
Add in all of the buyers whose spring home searches were stymied by the pandemic, and we can confidently say the housing market is on fire.
Two Lows Driving High Times for Housing
Record-Low Interest Rates
Due to 2020's unprecedented global events, interest rates are the lowest they've been in 50 years. In May, the average 30-year fixed rate mortgage was 3.2 percent, which is fantastic for homebuyers. According to the National Real Estate Association, the estimated monthly mortgage payment on a home purchased at the median price of $286,000 with a 10 percent down payment on a 30-year fixed loan was $1,131, just $90 more than the median rent of $1,041 (as of 2020 Q1). This could be the best time to buy a house for that reason alone!
Lower Unemployment Rates
The nation's unemployment rate dropped to 11.3 percent in June, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. While this is higher than the worst period of the Great Recession, it's an improvement over the 13.3 percent of workers who sought unemployment benefits in May. Plus, higher-earning professionals haven't suffered the pandemic-related layoffs faced by retail, tourism, and hospitality industries. This means many white-collar workers who were confined to their homes for months on end may now be seeking more space and are more likely to have the funds to purchase a home.
For new homebuyers, the current market presents some terrific opportunities. To be able to borrow money, practically for free, and find more space for lower prices, it would be unwise to wait if you had put your plans on hold. If you're looking to buy or sell a home, partner with JJ Elek!
The pandemic is still affecting the country, but it hasn't stopped people from looking for homes to buy. And more often than not, they're finding themselves in the suburbs.
As the housing market recovers from the COVID-19 shutdowns, views of online listings in suburban ZIP codes are spiking. Researchers at Realtor.com found they grew by 13 percent compared to May 2019, nearly doubling the rate of those in urban areas.
More space. Fewer crowds. Lower costs.
Everyone has their own reasons for choosing where to live, but many homebuyers are on the hunt for more space for lower costs, fearing the economic slump could lead to higher taxes. Additionally, nearly a third of Americans are considering moving to less densely populated areas in the wake of the pandemic, according to new data from Harris Poll.
Is this a permanent trend or temporary shift until the virus is contained? There's no way to know just yet, but the recent sentiment among homebuyers suggests the former. If that's the case, it would be a complete 180 from recent years where many markets were focused on reviving downtown areas.
Before the crisis, millennials were looking for more lively environments with walking access and empty nesters were selling their large suburban homes to move to smaller dwellings, in or near cities.
The post-pandemic working world
Your job and your residence have long been tied together but we're all learning this might not have to be the case. Now that employers are more comfortable with interacting through video conferencing, there's a good chance more employees will be working from home in the future. Plus, many businesses say remote employees are just as productive, if not more.
Even New York's banking and finance companies are shifting to the digital space. In an April interview with Bloomberg Television, Morgan Stanley Chief Executive Officer James Gorman said it's clear the firm will have "much less real estate" going forward, finding they "can operate with no footprint."No one really knows how the pandemic will progress over the next year, in big cities or elsewhere. But what we can count on, for the most part, is that homebuyers will continue to focus on the essential aspects of living, such as safety, property size, privacy, health, and affordability.
Contact JJ Elek today to help with your next move!
If you're trying to buy a home while social distancing, you can take advantage of virtual open houses, 3D tours, and video conferencing with real estate agents. But is that enough for such a valuable investment?
Apparently so. According to a recent survey by the National Association of REALTORS®, 25 percent of agents have had at least one buyer put in a contract on a home without physically seeing the property.
Technology to the Rescue
There's no doubt purchasing or selling a home during the pandemic is more challenging, but it's not impossible. Transactions are still happening with the help of technology.
Obviously, we all still prefer to see a home in person before making a purchase, but for those who can't pump the brakes on this big life event, things like accurate listing data, detailed photos, and virtual and live video tours are there to assist.
Low Mortgage Rates Are a Motivator, Too
Buying a home now also has its advantages from a financial perspective. With mortgage interest rates at an historic low, your monthly housing payments will be lower, too, giving you more control than staying in a rental where costs might go up.
Buyers May Have the Upper Hand
While some home sellers are waiting for better market conditions to list their homes, others don't have that luxury. This gives buyers the upper hand, for at least a short period of time. That said, you don't want to turn the seller off with a lowball offer. Instead, start by playing it safe and offer a modest discount off the asking price.
One positive takeaway in the face of all these uncertainties is that the real estate market was in a good position before the pandemic hit. This should help it recover as life moves toward the new normal.
When social distancing guidelines and the stay at home mandate took effect, many real estate professionals wondered how they'd do their jobs. The good news is, people are still buying—and that means focusing on showing homes in the safest way possible is paramount. Here are some best practices for listing and showing a home in the time of COVID-19.
Show homes remotely
From first look to final walk-through, you can complete your entire transaction remotely. But do you really want to? Although most people still prefer to see a home in person before making a purchase, a recent realtor.com survey found that 24 percent of people would be willing to buy a home sight unseen with virtual and live video tours. So, if you're not quite ready for in-person interactions, you can still get the job done.
Perfect your disinfecting skills
Disinfectant wipes and hand sanitizer have become essential in the time of coronavirus. If you're conducting physical home showings, keep both in your car so you can clean your hands and all frequently touched surfaces. Need some tips on how to disinfect?
Share the protection
Keeping masks, hand sanitizer, and shoe covers at the door has become normal practice. If you're showing a property in person, be sure to have these items available for use.
Remember, one of the most important elements of a successful real estate transaction is consumer confidence. Going out of your way to make buyers and sellers comfortable during this time will go a long way for all involved.
Real estate has long been an industry based on the traditional model of offices on high streets and agents in suits working from a desk. Times have changed. More and more real estate professionals are seeking flexible work environments that can meet their businesses needs and work better for their lifestyles.
Working from home has its advantages—as long as you have a handle on distractions and time management. Check out some of the benefits you can enjoy as a real estate agent working remotely.
Save time and money
Real estate agents save a great deal of time by eliminating their commute, which ultimately makes you more productive. When you work from home, you're also saving money on gas, clothes, food, parking, and in some cases, daycare costs. That's because remote work often allows for additional flexibility in family home environments.
Plenty of technology to help
There are tons of online tools that enable collaboration and communication. Software like Slack lets you communicate in real time with co-workers, clients and partners. In lieu of in-person open houses and home tours, you can hold them virtually. Simply use any online communication platform, such as Zoom, FaceTime or Microsoft Teams to schedule a live online walkthrough of the home. Homebuyers or agents can join and view the video, and even ask questions in real time.
Security from afar
Most real estate agencies will take the time to ensure all staff are set up with a virtual
private network (VPN) to ensure everyone can access and communicate sensitive information completely securely. VPNs are also beneficial to those working in international real estate who may need something to help them get around online censorship or access geo-restricted content online.
Boost your health
When you work from home, you have more control over your work environments and schedules. This can lead to reduced stress, increased happiness and even more time to exercise. Plus, you can limit your exposure to airborne illnesses and occupational hazards.
Now more than ever, it's important to have a home office that nurtures productivity—and profits. At JJ Elek, we set our agents up for success with all the tools and technology needed to thrive. Learn more about what we can do for you.
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, that has affected us all, our office is temporarily closed to ensure the health and safety of our employees and clients.
However, our Realtors are hard at work, doing their jobs remotely, and we are just a phone call away to help with any of your questions or concerns.
In times of uncertainty like this, we will do our very best to be there for all of you who need us.
Our thoughts are with you and your families during this challenging time.
Thinking of selling your home? Getting top dollar and doing so quickly requires a sound strategy. Is it best to price your home lower than everyone else in hopes it will sell fast—and maybe even spark a bidding war? Or should you go high assuming you could always drop the price if no one bites?
Ultimately, it's not you who decides your home's value—it's the buyers. The best plan of action is to put yourself in the buyers' heads, see your home as they do, and price it accordingly. (And it wouldn't hurt to wait until summer when prices experience the largest gains, according to the National Association of Realtors). Here are some other helpful tips.
Don't get emotionally attached
You've spent years creating memories in your home. It's understandable that it may be difficult to make business decisions with that as a backdrop. Try to keep emotions out of the picture. Take advice with an open mind and you'll end up with a more realistic view of your home value.
Get the property in peak condition
If you're planning to set the price ambitiously, it better be the best-looking property in its price range. Before you list it, make all necessary repairs, give it a deep cleaning, and upgrade carpets, paint, and fixtures. Be sure to give the landscaping a good sprucing as well. After all, it gives the first impression.
Tour competing listings
Be sure to get acquainted with the local competition before you list your home. View all the properties for sale in your market that fall into your price bracket. If you do this several weeks in advance of putting your home on the market, you'll have a good picture of what buyers are dealing with.
Get a comparative market analysis
Even better than touring properties, your agent can gather data on the homes recently sold in your area nearby. These "comparables" or "comps" show you what's happening with nearby homes in your price range.
Be real with your agent
If you feel like your agent is recommending a lower price than you feel is justified, be sure to have a conversation. It's important to understand their reasoning. Some agents are quick to make a commission and move on to the next client. Agents with integrity will balance your needs with theirs and use the best strategies.
Hire an appraiser
You can go one step further than the market analysis and hire an appraiser. This professional will determine the market value of your home for a fee. Perform due diligence and make sure your appraiser has plenty of experience with homes in your neighborhood, market, and price bracket.
Have an open house for family and friends
Before you have an open house for the public, do yourself a favor and present your home to your family and friends. Once you feel it's in shape to be listed, give them a tour and ask their advice on pricing. They're likely to be honest, realistic, and helpful in determining its value.
When it comes to selling your home for the best price, you can't cut corners. Partner with a top real estate agent at JJ Elek, use technology wisely, and stage your home beautifully. It won't be long until your home is sold for a price that just might exceed your expectations.
The country is full of people who sell real estate, but they're not all the best one for your property. Some of them are willing to go the extra mile while others are just looking for a commission. What can you do to make sure you find the best listing agent for your property?
It all starts with the right questions.
Interview at least three possible listing agents before you make your decision. Here are some questions to help you along the way.
You've decided to sell your home and the listing agent is eager to put it on the market. But is it ready to be on the market? The truth is, it's up to you as the homeowner to make a good first impression. From the landscaping to the interior to having a designated place for you and your listing agent to work in, here's a handy checklist to use to help you get ready for an agent to advertise.
If both you and your listing agent feel your home is ready for the world, you've done your job!
In an ideal world, a homeowner would be able to buy a new house, move in, and sell their old home once the dust settles. But most people have to handle both simultaneously. This just adds a whole layer of stress to an already hectic home-buying process.
Not to worry. You can find success with some planning. Here's what you need to know to make sure both processes go as smoothly as possible.
Understand the local market
Develop a thorough understanding of the local market before you put your house on the market or start searching for a new home. Is the market learning toward sellers or buyers? Your strategy depends on whether sellers or buyers have the upper hand.
Keep an open mind
If it's a seller's market, your home may sell quickly. Try to find multiple homes you're interested in so you'll be less likely to find yourself standed if a purchase falls through.
In a buyer's market, your house will be up against a lot of competition. Seek the help of an appraiser to set a reasonable price that pique buyer interest. Remember, if you refuse to come down on your price, your house may stay on the market for up to three more months—and that means triple mortgages.
Schedule everything carefully
There are risks and rewards for buying first or selling first. It's easier to get a mortgage if you sell first, but you may need to find a temporary place to live. Buying first makes moving easier, but it affects your debt-to-income ratio, making it more difficult to qualify for a new mortgage (plus, you'll have two monthly housing payments to deal with).
And let's not forget, you're not the only party in this scenario. For every buyer there's a seller and vice versa. Your master plan may be moving along without a hitch, but others may be hitting roadblocks. Closings come with delays. Buyers struggle to secure mortgages. And home inspectors find issues that need fixing before moving day. Do your best to stick to your plan but be prepared for the unexpected.
Explore financial solutions
Choosing to sell first? You may be able to to remain in the property for 60 to 90 in exchange for a lower selling price or for rent paid to the buyers. This rent-back agreement can give you additional time to house hunt.
If you're buying first, explore ways to limit your financial burden and risk. Solutions include:
Don't let fear rule your actions
Time constraints can easily push you toward a poor decision. Don't accept a bid that's lower than what you want just because you're strained by two mortgages. Consider having a preemptive plan like a short-term rental, so you're less likely to compromise.
Selling and buying a house simultaneously is bound to be stressful, but having a plan and an open mind can only help.
Today's homebuyers have choices when it comes to mortgage loans, and there are the pros and cons of each. Before you move forward with the process, it's a good idea to understand the basics. We've taken some of the guesswork out of financing by laying out the specifics here for you!
Option 1: Adjustable Rate Mortgages (ARMs) vs. Fixed Rate Mortgages
All mortgage loans fit into one of two categories: fixed rate or adjustable rate. ARMs, or variable rates, have an interest rate that changes each year after an initial period of staying fixed. For example, a 5/1 ARM comes with a fixed rate for five years, followed by a variable rate that adjusts every year.
Pro: Good for buyers planning to pay off the loan in full within a specific amount of time, or those who won't be hurt financially when the rate adjusts.
Con: Complicated rules, structures, and fees pose risks for borrowers who don't fully understand what they're getting into.
Fixed-rate mortgage loans retain the same interest rate for the entire repayment term. This means your monthly payment never changes. Even long-term financing options, like 30-year fixed-rate loans, remain the same month after month, year after year.
Pro: A longer repayment period qualifies buyers for lower payments or a more expensive home.
Con: The rate will be higher and you'll pay more interest over the life of the loan.
Option 2: Conventional Loans vs. Government-Insured Loans
Once you've decided between an ARM and fixed-rate loan, you'll have to choose a government-insured home loan (such as Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loans or U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) or a conventional loan. A conventional home loan is not insured or guaranteed by the federal government, making it a good choice for those with excellent credit and steady income
Pro: A speedier approval process ideal for borrowers that need a loan quickly.
Con: If the borrower defaults on the loan, the lender is at risk of losing money.
Government loans, such as FHAs and VAs, are more flexible, making them perfect for first-time homebuyers. FHAs are managed by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), insuring the lender against losses that might result from borrower default.
Pro: You can make a down payment as low as 3.5% of the purchase price.
Con: You have to pay for mortgage insurance, which increases monthly payments.
VA loans are for military service members and their families, with the VA reimbursing the lender for any losses that result from borrower default.
Pro: 100% financing and no down payment.
Con: Includes a funding fee, which is a percentage of the home price, to cover operating costs.
Note: It's important to note that borrowers can combine the types of mortgage types, whether it's an FHA loan with a fixed interest rate or a conventional home loan with an adjustable rate (ARM).
Option 3: Conforming Loans vs. Jumbo Loans
What happens if a home you've found is priced above what a lender is willing to lend based on loan limits in your area? For times like these, lenders offer two options: conforming and jumbo loans. The size of a conforming loan meets the underwriting guidelines of Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac. In 2019, conforming loan limits increased to $484,350 for most of the United States.
Pro: Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac guarantee the mortgages they sell, so they're a stabilizing influence on the mortgage market.
Con: Limited to a specific loan amount and difficult to get with low credit scores.
A jumbo loan, on the other hand, exceeds the conforming loan limits established by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, posing a higher risk for the lender. They finance luxury properties, as well as homes in more competitive local real estate markets. As a result, jumbo borrowers typically must have excellent credit and pay larger down payments.
Pro: You can get a jumbo loan with as little as 5-10% down if your credit score above 680.
Con: Qualifying for a jumbo mortgage can be difficult and interest rates are typically higher.
Mortgage Loans Change Yearly, So Be Sure to Keep Up
While we've provided a brief overview of home financing options in 2019, it's wise to stay apprised of the various products and options. Education is the key to making smart decisions mortgage shopper and homebuyer.
You've decided it's time to buy your first home, and you can't wait to get out there and find it. While this could be one of the most exciting times of your life, it could also be stressful and confusing. What can you realistically afford? Should you consider a down payment or loan? Where are the safest neighborhoods? The questions just keep coming, and if you're not prepared, you could wind up with regrets, or worse, a costly mistake.
Fret not. Along with the help of a real estate professional, there are plenty of tips to keep in mind as you start the process. We've compiled the top five to get you moving.
Tip #1: Don't commit before you're ready
Becoming a homeowner is a serious commitment and often more expensive that buyers realize. For instance, you could see your monthly expenses jump from $1,400 per month as a renter to $2,500 as a homeowner. Before shopping for a home, determine if you're financially and emotionally ready for such a big change. From mortgage payments to property taxes and homeowner's insurance, be sure you are ready to handle the monthly costs of owning a home.
Tip #2: Don't forget the personal costs of buying
A lot of personal sacrifices come with the decision to buy a home. Once you add up the cost of mortgage payments and other monthly expenses, you may have to adjust your daily budget to make it work. Whether that means taking time off from school to get a job or getting a second job to cover the additional expenses, there will be tough choices to make. If it's a bit of a stretch to afford the home, you may be better off waiting and saving money.
Tip #3: Decide whether size or location is more important
Should you buy a small home in your favorite area of town or a larger home for a lower price two miles away? If you go for the lower price to gain more space for your family, you may wind up missing the proximity to restaurants and shopping. Avoid buyer's remorse by setting your priorities before searching for a home: location or space?
Tip #4: Consider making a down payment
Say you have $50,000 for a down payment on your first home, but then you end up qualifying for a loan. Instead, you choose to go with 100 percent financing and invest that down payment money in the stock market. Sounds pretty good, right? Not necessarily. You could end up losing half or more of that cash, which could've gone into your home. A down payment is never a bad investment. It minimizes your risk and lets you start off with equity.
Tip #5: Demand a professional home inspection.
States like New Jersey legally require home sellers to disclose potential property issues, but the current homeowner may not be aware of them. Be sure to secure a reputable home inspector to examine the circumstances inside, above and under the home structure. This one investment could save you thousands in future repairs if the home has major problems or isn't up to code.
Once you find a real estate agent you trust, much of the guesswork will be removed from the process. But it's always good to start educating yourself ahead of time. These tips and others you come across will help prepare you for what's to come.
A great neighborhood sells a home, and if you're looking in Woodbridge, New Jersey, and the surrounding area, you have plenty to choose from.
But with all the pressure and excitement of home shopping, how can you know if a town is truly right for you? Here are some clues to help you determine if you've found the right community.
It checks off mostly everything on your wish list.
Make a list of what you want and don't want in a town, and then search for those specifications. Do you prefer a close-knit community with trees, playgrounds and reputable schools? Edison could be a good choice for you. Or is your ideal neighborhood located in the hub of restaurants, shops and nightlife? Maybe downtown Cranford is more your style. Knowing what your needs and desires can help you narrow down which areas offer them.
You notice home improvements.
When you're shopping for a home, drive around town and look for activity that shows homeowners are updating their properties. Improvements like new painting, landscaping or window replacements convey that owners take good care of the home and pride in its value.
People are out and about.
It's a good sign to see people sitting on their porches, jogging, walking dogs or bringing their kids on a walk. This shows that residents feel safe enough to get out and walk around the neighborhood. Return a to the town number of times, at night and on weekends, to get a realistic picture of the area.
Crime is low.
Speaking of safety, it's important to check crime statistics before buying a home. If you're looking in Woodbridge, NJ, and surrounding towns, check municipal police department websites for solid numbers or search local newspaper sites.
Think long term.
Make sure the town meets your needs for at least the next five years. An edgy, upbeat city-feel may be your dream locale right now, but will it work later if you choose to have children or bring an aging parent into your home? Think how life may unfold five to seven years from now before you sign anything.
Fortunately, Central New Jersey is home to a vibrant mix of suburban and up-and-coming areas. Once you narrow down your list of needs and seek the help of an experienced local realty company, you should find your dream home in no time.