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Buying Your Hunterdon County Home

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We're glad you're curious about the Hunterdon County real estate market! It's an exciting and rewarding area, with well-planned family neighborhoods, historical homes, top notch schools, luxury golf communities, all the while situated in a fantastic commuting location to the major NY/NJ/PA metro areas.

The Home Buying Process

As you begin to think about buying a home, you're probably acutely aware that this is likely to be your greatest investment ever (short of children or a good marriage), and you might be wondering what's most important to know as you begin this process. This is where an excellent Realtor comes in! With my help, you can come out on top of a closing that might otherwise have pushed your retirement ahead a decade!

New homes for sale in Hunterdon County hit the market every day. As your representative, I am in regular contact with sellers and other real estate agents to ensure you see all the newest listings right away, whether or not they're made public. I will also make sure you see only the properties that meet your needs and investment preferences, so you don't spend time on listings that don't interest you. As you compare the best deals, I'll provide you with important information about the home, its neighborhood, zoning issues, utilities, and nearby plans for development.

Many real estate transactions include an extensive negotiating process, and as your agent it will be my job to represent you and get the best deal possible. I'll also attend property inspections, make sure any and all agreed-on repair work is carried out, and handle paperwork related to the sale. I can also help set up the financing for your investment, and work directly with a broker to provide you with a seamless service package.

Working with me on your next home purchase will save you time, and add professional assurance to every step of the process. To get in touch with me today, call 908-938-6535.

Step 1 - Define your goals

First, write down your reasons for a new home. For example, are you currently renting and would like to begin building equity? Maybe you recently married and have outgrown your current residence. Or, maybe you received promotion or job transfer that requires you to buy a home in Hunterdon County. These factors will all have a bearing on how you approach your home search.

Second, establish a time frame for buying your home. Depending on your reasons for wanting a new home and the homes that are available in Hunterdon County, you should be able to come up with a rough guideline.

Finally, you probably have a visual in your mind of what your new home looks like. Turn these visuals into two lists: one should describe your dream home and the other should list features that you absolutely must have. In a perfect world, your new home would fulfill both lists 100%, but it is more likely the two lists will turn into a list of priorities, as you get clearer about what you want and what is available.

Step 2 - Define your ideal location

Your second step in buying your new home will be to analyze your ideal location preferences. Hunterdon County is a diverse area, so take your time to explore what we have to offer! I can help you determine exactly what the pros and cons are to each area you're considering, and help you home in on your ideal location.

Step 3 - Pre-Approval vs. Pre-Qualification

Now that you know what you want and need in a home, you should find out what you can afford. There are two ways to go about this: pre-qualification or pre-approval for a loan. Pre-qualification is the simpler of the two processes. It can even be done online or over the phone. When you contact a mortgage company they will ask you for some basic information about your finances, how much money you earn, your debt load, etc. They will take this information and give you a rough estimate of how much of a loan you might qualify for.

Pre-approval is more a more in-depth process. The lender will perform an extensive check of your finances including your credit rating, whether or not you're a first-time buyer, what your debt load is, how much money you have to put as a down payment, etc. This figure will be a much more reliable estimate of what you can afford.

In most markets, pre-approved buyers are preferred over those that are merely pre-qualified. Being pre-approved lets the seller know you have gone through an extensive financial background check and there should be no unexpected obstacles to you buying their home.

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Step 4 - Neighborhood Information

Now that you have your list of needs and wants and know how much you can afford to spend, it's time to look at some houses here in Hunterdon County, right? Well, don't forget, you don't just buy a house; you buy the neighborhood the house is in. Think about that...if you found the perfect house but it was in a neighborhood that was not a good fit for your wants, would you make an offer on it?

You will need to make another list for the type of area you want to live in. Consider things like commute time to work and major destinations, amenities such as shopping, golf courses, grocery stores, etc., area schools and the demographics of the surrounding area.

Step 5 - Home Search

At this point you will have a good idea of what you can comfortably afford and the type of area you will want to live in. Taking that information into consideration, you are ready to start your home search. If you don't know much about Hunterdon County, you will want to start by finding areas that meet your criteria and then narrowing your search to particular homes in those areas.

There are a few ways to go about this. Possibly the most efficient way to find homes is to allow me to keep you up-to-date on available properties that meet your criteria, and then let me screen them for you. When I present you with a home that interests you, I can arrange for you to tour it at your convenience.

The most efficient way to search homes is to look on-line. My website hosts the entire inventory in the Hunterdon County area, so once you have located a few homes that may be of interest, it is always good to do a "drive by", both during the day and at night, so you can assess the area. This step is not necessary, but it's a good option if you have time. Once you hone in on a house that you like, it's time for us to schedule a private showing. Then it's off to see the house!

Step 6 - Make An Offer

Now that you've found your dream home, it's time to make an offer. I will help you determine the offer price by reviewing recent sales of homes that are similar in size, quality, and conveniences and amenities. I will advise you on how to put together an offer that will have the best chance of being accepted.

After consultation with you, I will create a written proposal with your offer that meets all the legal requirements. This document details what needs to be done by both parties to move forward with the transaction.

The contract and offer package should include, at a minimum, the following:

  • Offer price
  • Down payment and deposits
  • Financial arrangements including mortgage information
  • Inspection rights
  • Appliances and other inclusions that will stay with the property
  • Settlement date
  • Contingencies
  • A copy of your deposit check (usually $1000, to be held in either your Realtor or Attorney's Trust Account)
  • A copy of your mortgage pre-qualification or pre-approval letter
  • A signed copy of the seller's disclosure (if available)
  • Other addendums, including lead-paint disclosure

Step 7 - Negotiating to Buy

Once your offer is made, you may need to negotiate with the seller to reach an agreement. Keep in mind almost everything is negotiable when you are buying a house. This can give you a great deal of leverage, that is, if you have adequate information and you use it wisely.

Some things you may negotiate:

  • Price
  • Financing
  • Repairs
  • Appliances and fixtures
  • Closing costs
  • Occupancy time frame

Counter offers happen frequently. We'll remain in close contact so you can quickly review any changes from the seller. Remember...bargaining is not a winner-take-all deal. It is a business process that involves compromise and mutual respect; you should consider it a win-win situation. Although this is a very emotional process, it is extremely important to stay focused on the business aspect of the transaction.

Once all of the above has taken place, it is time to bring your real estate attorney into the picture. Both the homebuyer and home seller will have their own real estate attorneys to look over the purchase proposal and give their approvals. Your real estate attorney will serve to protect your interests as New Jersey law spells them out, and may submit addendums to the seller’s attorney with your approval.

Step 8 - Service Provider Coordination

After your offer is accepted, I will help you coordinate the activities of service providers and serve as your advocate when working with them. I will make sure these vendors have access to the property to perform their procedures and will oversee the execution of those procedures on your behalf.

One service you may need is a home inspection. An inspection of the property, the foundation, and the surrounding environment should be performed to make sure the property meets the standards set forth in your written agreement. If there are issues brought to light during these inspections, it may delay or even nullify the contract.

If your home has a septic system, a separate septic inspection may be necessary. The same holds true for homes serviced by well water.

Insurance is another item that will need to be taken care of. Your mortgage lender will require title insurance in the amount of the mortgage you are taking. It is also highly recommended by most experts that you also purchase the homeowners portion of the title insurance as well, which covers the amount that you are not borrowing. This kind of insurance is purchased at closing and protects the buyers in the unlikely event that the title to the property becomes invalid. Homeowners insurance protects against theft, fire and liabilities. It often includes things such as bicycles, furniture and jewelry. Flood insurance is generally only necessary for flood-prone areas.

In addition to these types of insurance, you may want additional protection for your new home. Home warranties are one way to protect yourself after you buy. Warranties for new homes protect against plumbing, wiring and structural defects. Existing home warranties cover things like major appliances and structural problems.

Having these procedures done in a timely and professional manner is a must. Investigate each service provider to make sure they are reputable and have a clean operational history. My experience in this area will be invaluable.

Step 9 - Before You Close

As the closing date draws near you will need to be in contact with your attorney and your lender to make sure all necessary documents are being prepared and will be delivered to the correct location on the appropriate date. Find out what form of payment you will need to bring to the closing for any unpaid fees. Make sure that your payment is made out to the appropriate party.

These days, buyers and sellers don't even have to be in the same room to close a deal, thanks to technology.

Step 10 - Closing On A Home

Closing is where ownership of the home is legally transferred from the seller to the buyer. It is a formal meeting that most parties involved in the process will attend. Closing procedures are usually held at your attorney’s office but can be held elsewhere. Your attorney coordinates the document signing and the collection and disbursement of funds.

In order for the closing to go smoothly, each party involved should bring the necessary documentation and be prepared to pay any related fees (closing costs). There may be more than one form of acceptable payment for your closing costs so ask the attorney which form of payment will be required and to whom it should be paid.

Sellers sometimes pay for a portion or all of the closing costs, depending on local market conditions, terms of the purchase contract, and the seller's cash and timing considerations. Any such concessions should be acknowledged in writing. Most lenders will allow a credit from the seller to the buyer for the non-recurring closing costs. However, they usually won't allow a credit that reduces the amount of the buyer's down payment or any of the buyer's recurring costs, such as expenses for fire insurance premiums, private mortgage insurance (PMI) or property taxes.

Step 11 – After Closing

Congratulations on the purchase of your new home!

Now that you have taken ownership and possession of it you will need to have your electricity, cable and phone set up. You actually should take care of your electricity, gas, cable, and phone before closing to make sure that they are setup on the day of closing and you don’t end up with reconnection fees should any of them disconnect. Also be aware of typical homeowner expenses such as Neighborhood Association fees, landscaping costs, and annual taxes and budget for them accordingly.

Owning a home is one of the most fulfilling accomplishments you will ever achieve. You worked hard to buy your home, now go enjoy it!

Jessica Wormeck
Office: 908-439-2777
Cell: 908-938-6535
Fax: 908-439-3686
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