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Q: Should I get pre-qualified for a loan?
Loan pre-qualification may improve your negotiating position and allow you to purchase the home of your dreams more quickly and with less frustration. Pre-qualification helps the seller to see you as a serious prospect, and positions you to take advantages of opportunities that may come at any time.

Q: What is the advantage of an adjustable rate mortgage (ARM)?
ARM loans have a fixed rate initially, followed by an adjustment period in which the rate changes based on several key indexes. Usually, the initial fixed rate on an ARM is slightly lower than that of a fixed rate mortgage. That makes an ARM a good option for a buyer who plans to sell their home in the short term.

Q: Are any special offers available for first-time buyers?
Yes. As part of the economic recovery effort, the U.S. Congress passed and extended a first-time homebuyer tax credit for up to $8,000. The legislation also provides a tax credit up to $6,500 for current homeowners who purchase a new or existing home. To qualify, a home must be purchased for use as a principal residence before May 1, 2010, with closing to take place before July 1, 2010.

Q: What do the common abbreviations in real estate ads mean?
Many sellers use a shorthand in advertisements that can be confusing to first-time buyers. Here are some of the abbreviations and their meanings:
– assum. fin.: assumable financing
– dk: deck
– gar: garage
– gard: garden
– expansion pot’l: expansion potential for a top floor or room addition.
– fab pentrm: fabulous pentroom, a room on top, underneath the roof, that may have views
– FDR: formal dining room (not the former president)
– frplc, fplc, FP: fireplace
– grmet kit: gourmet kitchen
– HDW, HWF, Hdwd: hardwood floors
– hi ceils: high ceilings
– in-law potential: potential for a separate apartment.
– large E-2 plan: this is one of several floor plans available in a specific building
– lsd pkg.: leased parking area
– lo dues – low homeowner’s dues
– pvt – private
– pwdr rm – powder room, or half-bath
– upr- upper floor
– vw, vu, vws, vus – view(s)

Q: Do I need to hire an attorney?
An attorney is not required, but the services of a legal professional can save you valuable time with tasks like document review and other aspects of the closing process. Orly Chen can recommend attorneys, or check the Business Partners section of this site for referrals.

Q: What are some negotiation tips?
Know as much as you can about your seller’s situation. If your seller needs to move quickly due to a job transfer or other personal circumstances, for instance, he or she may be open to a lower price. On the other hand, it is important not to abuse this information, as it could turn off the seller and prevent any sale from proceeding. Another important negotiation tip is to check recent sale prices for similar homes in the neighborhood. If you know how the seller’s asking price compares, you can craft a realistic offer based on the facts.

Q: Is a home inspection necessary if the house looks good?
Absolutely. Any home under consideration should be inspected by a professional to avoid unforeseen problems down the road. What a professional inspector finds may determine whether or not you decide to buy the home, or it could affect how much you are willing to pay.
Consult the Home Inspection section of this site for more information.

Q: What closing costs can a buyer in New Jersey expect to pay?
– Down payment
– Loan fees (points, application fee, credit report)
– Prepaid interest
– Home inspection fees
– Appraisal cost
– Mortgage insurance (typically 1 years premium plus an escrow of 2 months)
– Hazard insurance (typically 1 years premium plus an escrow of 2 months)
– Title insurance
– State, county or city transfer taxes
– Attorney fees
– Courier/delivery service
– Notary

Q: Do I Need a Real Estate Agent?
Yes, if you want the best possible price for your home and the least amount of headaches, you can benefit from the services of a professional and experienced real estate agent like Orly Chen. A real estate agent alert to swiftly changing conditions can get your home sold in the right timeframe for you. When you hire a real estate agent, you remove yourself from the day-to-day burdens of selling your home. Internet marketing, open houses, and price negotiations become the responsibility of the real estate agent, who is your expert and representative.

Q: How do I prepare my house for sale?
Preparing your home for sale may sound overwhelming, but slight, inexpensive changes in appearance can increase the price a buyer is willing to pay. Try these simple steps before you list your home:
– Clean up the front of your home for “curb appeal.” It pays to make a positive first impression.
– Touch up interior and exterior paint where needed.
– Install new carpeting and flooring if these areas appear worn or outdated.
– Trim plants and bushes, and mow the lawn. Rake leaves and shovel snow according to the seasons.
– Keep a clean, uncluttered interior free of odors. Be careful about mess caused by pets.
– Depersonalize your space of family photos and personal objects to make your buyers feel comfortable.
– Address potential problems ahead of time by considering a pre-listing inspection.

Q: What if it takes my home a long time to sell?
Be flexible if buyers do not match your listed price. Listen to your real estate agent’s advice. If several months pass with few or no offers at all, it may be time to considering lowering your right. Know that in time you will find a buyer for your home.

Q: What closing costs can sellers in New Jersey expect to pay?
– Broker’s commission
– Local property transfer tax; county transfer tax, state transfer tax, state capital gains tax.
– Mortgage release verification
– Courier/delivery service
– Attorney’s fee
– Notary
– Title insurance
– Property taxes (prorated)

Q: What are New Jersey realty transfer fees?
As part of closing costs in New Jersey, home sales are subject to the Realty Transfer Fees. Sellers pay these fees, which are calculated on a sliding scale. The rate per $500.00 of sales price increases as the price climbs. Here is a table of standard rates:

Sales Price Realty Transfer Fee
$500.00 to $350,000.00 $2.00 to $2,105.00
$350,000.00 to $1.0 million $2,105.00 to $9,575.00
$1.0 million to $2.0 million $9,575.00 to $21,675.00

$6.05 per $500.00 in excess of $2.0 million.