• Tales of a Hoboken Homeowner {Part I}: Realtor 101

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    So if you’ve seen my piece in the Hoboken Digest, you’ll know that on my vision board for 2014 is to become a Hoboken homeowner. Recently, that “vision” became a reality — and so what better way to share it than chronicling the complicated and confusing journey to home ownership? Since no one gave me the 101, I’m here to help because I know how daunting the process can be:

    While very few posts are sponsored on my site in general, I want to make a specific disclaimer that none of these people included in this post have paid any amount of money to be featured. They are mentioned here because they are part of this quite complicated process that is buying a home in Hoboken…and those that did an amazing job definitely deserve a mention. Just an FYI.

    Real estate

    Even in a city of over 50,000, it can be difficult to find people you can trust in order to make the process easy and gratifying, especially when it comes to real estate. When you walk around town, it’s fair to say that real estate offices are almost as popular {if not moreso} than nail salons or dry cleaners. Seriously. Am I right or am I right? Finding a realtor that works for you can be like a needle in a haystack.

    Seriously, just because your friend’s friend’s sister is a realtor in town does NOT mean she is good. {Sorry, but not sorry at all}. It’s the truth. You need to go with your gut, as well as how you are treated and approached.

    Luckily, we came across Steve Salzer {of Selling Hudson – located in Remax on Newark Street} this past summer. I first found Steve by seeing his face and phone number on a “For Sale” sign on a property that I was interested in. Now you might be thinking — well duh, it’s easy to find a realtor if you call a number on a For Sale sign. But, trust me, we had worked with a few —looking at both rentals and sales — and Steve definitely stood out among the rest.

    I called his number, he answered, and we chatted for about 20 minutes about my interests and time-frame for buying a home. To me, the most important thing was not feeling super rushed about the buying process {our landlord was allowing us to go month to month, so we wanted it to be a good fit rather than a mad dash for a new place}. I must say that out of all of the realtors I’ve worked with, Steve did just that.

    After chatting on the phone, we set up an appointment so we could discuss the first-time home buying process {also something I hadn’t come across in previous realtor encounters}. Steve went over the steps in the process, who gets involved when, and gave us an entire folder of information to make it easy as could be {well — as easy as getting approved for a mortgage and bidding on a Hoboken condo in a hot market could be, that is}.

    For months and months we looked.

    We actually ended up bidding on a two bedroom with an elevator and covered garage {musts for us} – and even bid over list after two rounds of bidding. We came in second. Hoboken is a HOT market place right now. So bummed. However, once we found another place we liked {this time a nice one bedroom with everything we wanted – elevator, gym, covered garage, etc}, we were ready. We went full list. You probably think that’s crazy {if you’re not looking in the Hoboken market}, but considering our history with bidding anywhere underneath full list, we were ready to go…

     

    {…To Be Continued}

    In Summary – a few crucial points about realtors and the home-buying process in Hoboken {from personal experience}:

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    1. Go with your gut on your realtor. 

    There are so many realtors in Hoboken; if you don’t like yours {or get a weird feeling/vibe that they aren’t looking out for your best interests}, scrap ’em. You have to spend a lot of time and energy with this person {and $$$$!}, so you better be feeling good about him or her. If your realtor doesn’t have time to invest in you as a buyer, then it’s time to invest your money elsewhere. And trust me, it’s a lot of money you’re investing.

    2. Make sure you look at the house you want with the realtor you want.

    That sounds simple, but unfortunately it happened to me the last time I tried to even rent something and went to look at it with a different agent {because I was antsy about signing a lease!}. There’s a tricky Hoboken law that requires you to pay commission to the realtor that took you to see the home – even if you’re working with another realtor — so make sure the realtor you want to be gaining your commission is the one whom you ask to go see the property.

    3. If you want to buy a home, start researching the market and sales in the area. 

    Sign up for MLS emails from a realtor in the price range you *think* you’d be interested in, and start comparing. Head to www.zillow.com or www.trulia.com to look. Right now Hoboken is dead as far as listings go—far and few between, which means demand is up = prices are higher. It’s not a true representation of the market as a whole, but it’s something to take note of if you’re getting sticker shock when looking at condo prices.

    4. Make a list of your needs and wants. 

    For us — “Need” was a parking spot and an elevator. Everything else was somewhat negotiable {with ourselves}. Wants were a gym and a washer dryer. If hardwood is your thing or having granite countertops — go with that. Or maybe you just want a gym or balcony. Pick the top things you want, and then the rest will fall into place.

    Anyway, those are just tidbits 1-4 of the dozens I’ve picked up along the way in the last 6 months {that I thought I’d share} about finding a Hoboken realtor. What are some realtor tips you would suggest when choosing one and starting the home buying process? We’d love to hear!

    Stay tuned for Part II with more tips coming soon…

     


    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.