Bergen County Homes; Real Estate Properties in Bergen County New Jersey, Search for listings in Bergen County NJ
"Mimi Weisinger Presents..."

Mimi Weisinger
Broker/Salesperson in NJ
105 Union Avenue
Cresskill, NJ 07626

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Buying a Home in Northern New Jersey

The Home Buying Process in Northern New Jersey
Before starting the search for a new home, learn what kind of funding (mortgage) you may qualify for and the amount of mortgage you feel most comfortable paying.  To obtain a conventional loan, your total monthly housing payment (mortgage amount, real estate taxes and fire insurance) should be no more than 28% of your monthly gross income.  If you have debt (credit card payments, student loans, car leases and/or alimony, for example), your total monthly housing cost and monthly debt payments should equal no more that 36-38% of your gross monthly income.   Your REALTOR(R) will be able to go over these numbers with you and tell you what 'mortgage payment' the lenders will most likely approve.  
While some lenders may offer to lend you up to 55% of your gross monthly income, please be very careful before assuming this kind of debt load.  Many consumers assume that appreciation of their homes will always continue.  In reality, like any market, the real estate market has its ups and downs, and your home may actually lose value in the immediate future.  Learn more about smart shopping for a mortgage from the Federal Reserve Board:
The interest rate you will be asked to pay will be determined by your history of repaying debts.  Those with excellent histories will be offered the lowest available rates; those with an less than perfect history or erratic history will pay higher interest rates.  A great place to begin understanding the impact of your credit score on the interest rate you may be asked to pay is
Once you understand the basics of shopping for a mortgage, ask your REALTOR(R) to recommend at least three mortgage representatives.  Remember, these representatives will offer you the programs they have available.  Do your shopping carefully; there may be a better loan program available from another lending institution.


Once you have found a single family home that you would like to purchase, there are several things that you can expect of a REALTOR(R). If the property is listed with a Multiple Listing Service (MLS), the REALTOR(R) could provide you with information on:

1. MLS history of the property (how long it has been on the market, prices changes, if any, etc.)

2. Flood zone

3. Current tax information (ask your REALTOR(R) to call the municipality to find out if the taxes on the listing are current and if they are paid to date)

4. Tax map (will show you the size of the property and may show public easements)

5. Survey (if available)

6. Zoning (may show you use of nearby properties)


Before you sign an offer you should review and sign the

1.  New Jersey Department of Consumer Affairs Seller's Property Disclosure (if provided by the seller)

2.  Lead Paint Disclosure (if the property was built before 1978)


Also, ask the REALTOR(R) to give you MLS information on comparable properties in the area.  If the REALTOR(R) represents you as a buyer's agent, the REALTOR(R) should help you draw a conclusion of value for the property you are considering.


Once you are satisfied that the property meets your needs, you will be then asked to give a small amount of money (called the initial deposit) and sign an offer that the REALTOR(R) prepares by filling in the blanks on a preprinted form.  Since this document becomes a contract once it is signed by the sellers, New Jersey gives both the buyer and the seller three days in which to consult an attorney once it is signed by both parties.  If you do not choose to consult an attorney, the contract is binding as written after that three day period.  If you choose to consult an attorney, s/he will tell you when the review is over and the contract is final.


Most contracts have two additional contingencies: a physical inspection and a financing or mortgage contingency.  


According to the New Jersey Association of REALTORS(R) contract, the buyer has the right to inspect the property for structural and environmental defects not visible to the naked eye.  It is strongly advisable that you use a New Jersey licensed home inspector.  All desired inspections must be done within the period of time specified by the contract. The inspector will examine the systems of the home and accessory buildings and advise you of any structural defects.  It is also accepted practice to have the home inspected for wood destroying insects and radon gas; well and septic systems should also be inspected. If any problems are found, the contract gives you certain rights.  Consult with your attorney about the right you have to request the seller to repair any structural defects, treat for termites or remediate radon gas, for example.


The additional down payment is usually due about ten days after the contract is finalized.  Ask your REALTOR(R) or attorney when the payment is expected and to whom the check should be made payable (usually the seller's attorney).  The down payment will be held in an escrow account until all contingencies are met and the contract of sale is executed.
In New Jersey, you can expect to pay for the following charges at the time you purchase your home:
  • Attorney's fee (It is strongly recommended that you be represented by an attorney)
  • Title examination  
  • Title insurance
  • Survey (remember to ask the surveyor to place stakes if important to you)
  • Flood hazard certification fee
  • Property Inspection fee (generally includes structural and wood boring insects inspections and a test for elevated levels of radon gas) 
  • Septic, synthetic stucco and well inspection fees (if applicable)
  • Mortgage Application fee
  • Appraisal fee
  • Credit Report fee
  • Miscellaneous Lender fees
  • Tax service fee
  • Private mortgage insurance
  • Prepaid interest
  • Hazard insurance
  • Hazard insurance escrow
  • Mortgage and Deed Recording fees
  • "Mansion Tax" 1% fee to be paid by the buyers on all purchases over $1,000,000.

Your attorney will order a title examination to be sure the property is free and clear of any liens, apply for title insurance and arrange for a survey.  Tell the attorney if you would like permanent markers on the property boundaries.  If you want to install a fence or pool, for example, these monuments could make the process easier.


If the contract is contingent upon financing, it is prudent that you apply for the mortgage as soon as the contract has been approved by both attorneys.  Be aware that the mortgage has a deadline date.  It is also good practice to apply for property insurance shortly after the property is under contract.  Banks require that every mortgaged property be covered by hazard insurance.


If you need to be referred to a mortgage bank or broker, an attorney, a licensed home inspector or any vendor (e.g. a roofing contractor), it is wise to request at least three names or companies from your REALTOR(R).  Call each and interview the individual until you are satisfied that person can give you the services and/or products you need and desire.


Ask the REALTOR(R) if s/he can refer you to a "Home Warranty" company.  Consider a service contract that will cover unexpected repairs for the first year you own the home.  Typically, after entering into the contract and paying an initial fee, if any covered system or appliance breaks down, you would call an approved vendor for service, pay a deductible and the warranty company will pay the balance of the bill.  Read the contract carefully to determine what services and systems are covered.


Get moving estimates at least three to four weeks before you plan to move. The closing date is usually a target date.  The balance of the down payment must be paid by cash or certified check.  Once the closing date and time is finally agreed upon by the seller, the buyer and the attorneys, your REALTOR(R) will schedule a final walk through of the property.  Bring with you a list of what was included in the sale (refrigerator, window treatments or lighting fixtures, for example) and what repairs were agreed to by the sellers.  Make sure the appliances and heating and cooling systems are in working condition and that the home is free of all personal items of the seller and debris.


At the closing, the seller should provide you with the keys and any garage door openers.  It is always a good idea to change the locks once the house is yours!


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