Home Jersey City Hoboken Real Estate: 8 Must-Know Steps to Buying Your First Home {in Hudson County}

Hoboken Real Estate: 8 Must-Know Steps to Buying Your First Home {in Hudson County}

by Tamara
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While renting seems like the better option for your early years in Hoboken — to see how you acclimate, enjoy the town, and don’t have major strings attached — at some point, you’re going to consider wanting to buy an apartment, condo, or brownstone {bravo if you can afford it!}. The home-buying process anywhere can be daunting, but in Hudson County, it can be extremely fast-paced, expensive, and filled with hiccups — but that doesn’t mean that it can’t be done. Here, realtor Tamara Tosun of Boutique Realty shares her tips to buying your first home in Hoboken or Jersey City.


^image via @whoboken

1. Get Pre-approved to Buy

What this means: a mortgage company thoroughly looks through your financial statements, credit debt, current debt, and work history/income history and decide if they will lend the money to you (unless you’re rolling in cash and don’t need $ to be lent!).

How to do this: Call a mortgage lender. They can usually have a quick call over the phone to collect data to help determine what your budget, expenses and credit will allow you to afford. They will go over various lending options with you and prepare a pre-approval letter that is needed whenever presenting an offer. There may be various routes to go, so it’s definitely beneficial to work with someone who you feel comfortable with and who will take the time to show you the ropes in these unchartered waters.

PRO TIP: Because mortgage rates may change daily, you might be able to afford a larger loan than you originally thought, or vice versa. Before you make an offer, call your mortgage guy or gal to find out if there are rate changes significant enough to affect your offer, and what kind of monthly (not to mention long term!) payments you will be looking at. Without this letter, you cannot submit an offer on a property. The letter can be emailed to you, and will help you determine the parameters of your home search. Very important to get this done before anything!

2. Prioritize Your Needs

What this means: Once you know what you can afford, you must determine what you absolutely need versus what you want {ex: I need a washer/dryer, but I don’t neeeed a parking spot}.

How to do it:
Ask yourself questions such as,
“How much space do I need?
“What amenities must I have?”
“What neighborhood must I be in?”

It’s also a good idea to consider what those pesky homeowner’s association fees might be (some can be over $1000 in certain areas in Hudson County!). Those alone can take a serious dip into your playtime budget, so it’s important to set that straight before falling in love with a home out of your budget.

PRO TIP: Decide how much you can afford per month, and stick to looking for homes that are within that budget. Don’t try to go over budget, or else you may have a nice house with no furniture 🙂

3. Begin Your Home Search

What this means: You’ve figured out your budget, what you want, and now you want to start actively searching.

How to do it: Find a reputable realtor (we can link you) in the area who has expertise on the markets as well as the home-buying process (Hint: if they rush you or give you a bad ‘gut feeling’ straight off the bat, keep looking).

PRO TIP: Once you’ve find your girl or guy, explain to them what you want in a home as well as your budget, and they will start sending you listings from the MLS (which stands for Multiple Listing Service, used by real estate brokers to simplify the search within your budget and needs/wants).

Then, the search begins!

4. Complete a thorough walkthrough of a property you like

What this means: You can’t have a property inspected until you make an offer, but it’s crucial to do a thorough walkthrough personally during your viewing of the property before making the offer.

How to do it: Look in “hidden” places, such as under the sinks, behind doors and around appliances. If you can wrangle one in (ok- maybe bribe one) to help you out, bring a handy friend along to scope it out. If there’s a basement, carefully check for mold by looking at the walls to see any evidence of water damage or attempts to hide it on the walls and ceilings. Flush toilets, inspect any large appliances included in the sale, run sinks, wiggle fixtures around to see if anything is loose.

PRO TIP: Buying a home is one of the largest purchases most people make in their lifetime, you want to be sure it’s a sound purchase and that the property isn’t going to be a money pit (aka have major internal or structural issues). Anything that has not come about during your own inspection, will surely come out through the professional inspections and appraisals that will take place once your offer is accepted. You typically hire your own inspector, and the bank will assign an appraiser to confirm the property’s worth. This includes a thorough inspection of the inside an outside of the home.

5. Know the Comps

What this means: “Comps” are comparable sales, or similar homes in the area that have a similar value.

How to do it: Your real estate agent can provide you with this data or you can check some of the online real estate websites. The value will be officially determined once you get an appraisal, but this simple check will give you a decent gage of the value and if you’re totally overspending or getting a good deal.

PRO TIP: You don’t want to fall in love with a house that is overpriced for the neighborhood. This also potentially can cause issues when it comes time for mortgage approval. On the other hand, you might find an undervalued home – perhaps an estate or divorce sale – and not need to borrow as much as you planned.

6. Negotiate Price and Make Your Offer

What this means: We’ve found… THE ONE!

How to do it: Discuss the number you feel comfortable submitting with your realtor {which won’t force you to eat peanut butter & jelly for the next 30 years}. At this point, your trusty mortgage lender’s pre-approval letter gets submitted — along with the offer we present to the listing agent (the agent who represents the seller). Now we cross our fingers, say a prayer, and nervously mess with our manis — heck we may even have a dance for the offer-acceptance-Gods. Whatever it takes, right?!

PRO TIP: A strong deposit and aggressive offer may give your seller confidence that you are here to play hard ball. You want to be prepared to act swiftly & diligently. There is often not much time before someone else comes in trying to scoop your house.

7. Avoid Low-Balling

What this means: A lowball offer, one that’s significantly lower than the listing price, can often be rejected by a seller.

How to do it: If the house is in good condition and the market is moving, be careful offering less than 5 percent below the asking price.

PRO TIP: It’s important to remember this is the sellers’ home, perhaps the place where they have possibly raised their family so the property may have a sentimental attachment. It is possible to continue to negotiate after your initial offer, but lowball offers generally don’t work unless the seller is “highly motivated” – real estate speak for “desperate to sell.”

8. Offer Acceptance and Signing the Contract

What this means: The best news ever- YOU GOT THE HOUSE!

How to do it: Before the celebratory home-owner drinks, you’ll need an attorney for the attorney review process (best if you already have one who knows NJ real estate law). He/she will help you to negotiate the terms of the contract and will work with the seller’s attorney to come to an agreement. Upon all terms being agreeable to both parties, you’ll sign the contract & make the down payment, which is typically held in the seller’s attorney’s trust account (also known as an escrow account) until closing day.

PRO TIP: The contract is considered binding only after it has been signed by both the buyer and seller & all payments have been received. Sometimes your home adventure doesn’t always work out, so it’s important to stay positive and know that everything happens for a reason!

Remember, if you don’t win the bid on your first house, keep looking. The Hoboken market is super hot right now. Eventually, the right house will come along, and odds are it’s better than the one you lost. You’ve dipped your toes in the waters just by making an offer, and you’ve gained experience that will help you the next time!

To start your home search, email Tamara at tamara@boutiquerealtynj.com or call her at 908-531-8277.


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