• Tales of a Hoboken Homeowner: Buying a House Sucks {Part II}

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    We got it!

    YAY!

    {If you have no clue what I’m referring to, click here for Part 1}

    Real estate

    After 2 failed attempts at securing a two bedroom condo in Hoboken {after bidding over list and STILL coming in second even with an ample downpayment [tip: it must be at least 20% to be attractive to the seller], we opted for a “fancier” one bedroom in an elevator building with a gym and covered garage…and: wait for it…A WASHER/DRYER! {My favorite part of the apartment, obviously}. While it’s not a forever home {I think that we will need more closet space at some point in the future – it’s not even a question}, it’s a great starter apartment in the city we call home – Hoboken. 🙂

     

    REAL TALK: If you’re trying to buy a place that has a backyard and more than a few rooms: DON’T bother in Hoboken. Places like that start at over a million, and you’re better off in the ‘burbs. But who wouldn’t want to live here? Just sayin’.

     

    So, just because the seller accepted our offer {full list, womp womp}, didn’t mean that the process was over. We had been pre-approved for a mortgage, yet the process had BARELY begun. Please note: as of early January 2014, it has become extremely difficult to get a mortgage. My fiance and I have great credit, steady jobs with longevity, a handsome downpayment, and we STILL struggled. So take note and get your *ish together long before you start this process {i.e. pay off credit card debt, streamline your money into one or two accounts, etc}. I really liked this article of things you should do before you apply for a mortgage. Read it, learn it, do it.

    rent-vs-buy1

    Applying for a mortgage is somewhat of a nightmare {not kidding}, so I suggest you start early. We had to write signed letters upon signed letters stating that we were who we said we were, and any monetary gifts were made to us in the last few months beforehand— we had to get signed letters from the giver + a statement of their bank account + a copy of the check image. Any major deposits into our account {including my fiance’s payment of half our rent on our old place for the month} had to be investigated, and signed letters were required. Three years of employment history, credit checks, and account statements for the past few months were required. The list goes on…so seriously, don’t play around. Get everything in order before you get serious. I can’t tell you how many evenings were spent acquiring documents and signing things. It was dizzying.

    Some mortgage and money tips I’ve learned in the Hoboken home-buying process:

     

    1. If you want to buy a home, make sure you have all of your finances in order. Don’t just say, “Hey, let’s do this!” You need to have a plan, and money. Duh.

    2. Get a credit check. This will help you figure out if you’re even remotely near being able to be approved for a mortgage. It’s a big contigency factor lately. Not a breaker, but definitely an important piece.

    3. Get pre-approved for a mortgage before you bid. That way you at least have one lender on your side who will help you through the process. However, once your offer gets accepted, shop around for the best rate. Right now the rates are in the high 4’s — which is still pretty low considering in 2008 they were a lot higher. Take advantage while you can!

    4. Think hard about buying. My father had a great point when we were discussing buying in Hoboken a few years back {but considering the costs of a one bedroom right now and the fact that interest rates are rising, I WISH we had! Boo}. His point: the cost of a year of rent for a small studio for $1000/mo in Hoboken {you probably can’t even find it for that cheap anymore} can be about the same as JUST closing costs {ours were around $14,000}. Make sure this is where you want to be before you decide to freeze your assets. Once you own something it’s not a quick “snap” and then your money is back in your pocket. It is a process to get it back and sell + very expensive. You should definitely make sure what you’re buying is where you want to be for at least a few years.

    — Also, set a timeline. You should at least have an idea of when you want to buy {a ballpark!}.

    A few more realtor tips {see the rest here}:

    5. Know that Trulia & Zillow are great to look and see prices, but often times the listings are VERY outdated.  Big mistake: thinking that you’ve found your “DREAM” home only to find out it’s under contract about two weeks prior. Boo.

    6. Interview your realtor. Make sure that your realtor has a wealth of knowledge about the buying process, knows vendors that can help you {ex: Steve had a list of commonly used lawyers, home inspectors, and mortgage lenders to make it very easy for us to navigate}, and also takes the time to educate you if you request it. You wouldn’t go to a cardiologist that didn’t know about your heart condition, so why would you pick a realtor that didn’t know enough about the buying and selling process.

    7. Go house hunting at LEAST a few times. You need to know what is out there, what is available, as well as what you don’t like. Don’t just bid on the first house you see because you’ll end up wondering about all the others {there’s a slightly raunchy comparison I can make here — but I’ll let your mind do the imagining of what I’m referring to}. Trust me, this process takes time.

    Overall thoughts: Buying a home sucks. But is totally worth it if it’s the right one.

    Next up: Part III of Home Buying in Hoboken {Stay tuned…}

    What are some tips you have for first time {or any time} Hoboken home buyers? Make sure to share in the comments section!

     


    Written by:

    Jen is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Hoboken Girl. She started the site to discover and share the wealth of things happening in Hudson County. Her roots in the area extend to her maternal grandparents, who owned two textile factories in Weehawken and North Bergen. When not planning the next Hoboken Girl event/volunteer project or editing her life away, she can usually be found shopping at local boutiques, eating an Insta-worthy meal, walking her French bulldog + rescue pup, or watching the latest murder doc on Netflix with her husband.


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