Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Home Buyer Wish List Includes Bells and Whistles

A new home buyer survey by the National Association of Home Builders reveals the home features, amenities and locations most coveted by today's buyers. While the survey isn't necessarily scientific, it's interesting to look at the sale points the survey revealed. Here are some examples, in random order!

1. Double sinks in the kitchen; a "prep sink" as well as a full, traditional sink.

2. Energy-star rated appliances.

3. Energy-efficient and convenient laundry facilities.

4. French doors.

5. Wireless home security systems.

6. Whole-house technology, allowing entertainment and utility controls in virtually every room.

7. Well-appointed bathrooms with both a tub and a shower stall.

Please keep in mind that this is a "wish list" and that home buyers are not necessarily willing to pay more for any of these features. But these are the "wow" factors that could influence buyers, potentially, to choose one home over another, according to the survey.

What turns off home buyers? Laminate counter tops.

The survey also indicated surprising results about location preferences. We've been hearing about "walkability" and "infill" development trends, but according to the survey, suburbia is alive and well:

  • 30% of buyers prefer close-in suburbs
  • 36% of buyers prefer to live in the outer suburbs
  • 27% would prefer rural living

What's out? Golf-course homes. Unless, of course, the buyers are avid golfers! Meanwhile, gated communities that offer walking and jogging trails, and amenities like pools and tennis courts, still hold buyer appeal.

What matters the least? If you can believe it...home size! According to the survey, home buyers would cheerfully take a smaller home over a larger one, if it had the upscale features they desired. They would also choose a home with energy efficiency, over one that is not efficient, even if the non-efficient home was less expensive.

Before you run out to the local home improvement store to invest in upgrades, talk to me first! If you are preparing to sell your Millburn-Short Hills home, you should obtain a comparative market analysis to find out your home's price range before you make improvements. I will also provide you with a net sheet to show your estimated sale proceeds, and I will counsel you on competitive marketing strategies.

 As your Millburn-Short Hills real estate professional, I will provide the expert guidance you need for a successful home sale!

Elaine Pruzon
Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage
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Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Property Inspections and Your Millburn-Short Hills Home Purchase

A recent article by Inman News states that property condition is among the top concerns of home buyers. This is understandable in light of the number of foreclosures and short sales that remain on the market. Deferred maintenance can be an issue with any home, in any type of sale.

For these reasons, home inspections are playing a larger role in today's home buying process!

While home inspections are not required when you purchase your Millburn-Short Hills home, they are highly recommended. However, you should understand what a home inspection is, and know what it will accomplish for you.

The first thing to keep in mind is that home inspections are a visual examination of the property condition. Nothing is taken apart; no warranties are issued.

Home inspections in the State of New Jersey are regulated. Home inspectors are required to meet education and experience criteria before receiving a license. You should always screen your home inspectors to make sure they hold an active license. I can also refer you to several home inspectors in our area, but the choice of inspector is yours.

Next, the definition of a home inspection, according to the State of New Jersey Division of Consumer  Affairs, is as follows:

A home inspection is a visual, functional, non-invasive inspection conducted for a fee. It is performed without moving personal property, furniture, equipment, plants, soil, snow, ice or debris. It examines the readily accessible elements of a residential building in order to report the condition of:
  • structural components
  • exterior components
  • roofing system
  • plumbing system
  • electrical system
  • heating system
  • cooling system
  • interior components
  • insulation components
  • ventilation system
  • fireplaces and solid fuel burning appliances
Home inspections are paid for by the home buyer. Again, they are optional but highly recommended. The cost of a home inspection varies; it can run anywhere from $250 to $400.You will want to be present during the inspection, if possible. In any case you will receive a written report of the inspector's findings.

Last but not least, remember that no home is completely perfect! The inspection will help determine if there are any obvious flaws that need attention. You will then have the opportunity to negotiate any repair issues - or, to exit the deal, if you have made the proper contingencies in your purchase offer. I will help you with this!

As your Millburn-Short Hills real estate professional, I will provide you with expert assistance throughout  the home buying process! I will be your professional guide during the home search, negotiations and the closing! 

Contact me today, and let my 18 years of experience be your home buying advantage!

Elaine Pruzon
Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage
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Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Facts About Credit Report Errors and Credit Fraud

Most of us don't think about our credit report unless we are buying a home or making some other major purchase. But you don't want to wait until a loan denial to find out there's a problem!

Here are some eye-opening facts about credit report errors and credit fraud that everyone in Millburn-Short Hills should know!

According to the Federal Trade Commission, one in four consumer credit reports contain errors. In most cases the errors do not affect the credit score computation, but 5% to 10% of them do. Erroneous data can come from the creditor who is reporting payment history, or from the credit bureau's handling of the consumer file.

Errors can be corrected, but you must bring them to the attention of the credit bureau! This is just one more reason why pulling your free credit report once a year is so important. The official consumer-access site is Beware of imitations!

Another issue is the growing problem of identity theft and credit fraud. The FTC estimates that over 9 million people are victims of credit fraud every year! Look at these facts:
  • 16% of fraud victims were victimized by someone they knew.
  • 84% of fraud victims did not know who obtained their personal information.
  • Of the above, over half of the victims did not know how their info was stolen.
  • 37% of fraud victims became alerted to the fraud by monitoring their accounts
High-tech thieves are capturing credit and debit card data by placing skimming devices and micro-cameras on outdoor ATM machines and gas pumps. There are also more pedestrian methods of fraud, such as phishing scams that collect banking and credit card data from unwary e-mail users. 

Again, you don't want to wait until you've applied for a mortgage to find out something is amiss on  your credit report. The longer a fraud issue or error continues undetected, the greater the damage. 

You can nip problems in the bud by pulling a copy of your credit report at least once a year. You should also examine your bank statements and credit card statements each month with a fine-tooth comb. If you haven't looked at your statements in awhile, go back and check the last quarter of 2012 on forward. Fraud is at its height during the holidays. 

As your real estate professional, I'm happy to share information that benefits the communities of Millburn-Short Hills, Livingston, and Summit. Please feel welcome to share this information with anyone it could help! 

When you have questions about New Jersey real estate, I will be here for you! Just give me a call

Elaine Pruzon
Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage
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Wednesday, February 6, 2013

New Jersey Home Buyers Face Changes in Markets and Mortgages

2013 is presenting a different real estate market and lending environment for home buyers! If you are thinking of buying a home in New Jersey, keep these facts in mind!

First, CoreLogic reports that the New Jersey home market is showing improvement, but of course we still have a wide variety in market condition. Neighborhoods that have good commuter access are seeing more buyer demand and shrinking home inventory. In other areas there is still an impact to home prices caused by foreclosures and the past recession's unemployment trends.

What this means is, there are attractive deals for first-time home buyers in New Jersey, but you need to know where to look. Home inventory is limited, and as we near the spring season, buyer competition will heat up.

Next, there are 3 changes to the mortgage environment in progress, and while these won't be show-stoppers, you need to be aware of them!

1. Mortgage interest rates are trending higher and are expected to gradually climb up throughout the rest of the year. You can watch rates by looking at the weekly rate survey by Freddie Mac; it's at the bottom left of the home page. Please keep in mind that the actual interest rate you may qualify for could be different.

2. FHA-backed mortgages, which are popular for first-time home buyers, have new qualifying guidelines. The mortgage insurance premiums have also increased in cost, and you can no longer waive them as your loan matures. Mortgage insurance covers the lender in case of default. I can refer you to a good mortgage lender who can explain FHA loans in more detail.

3. The new Consumer Protection Act changes the way lenders must look at loan applications. The rules basically abolish the risky mortgage practices that led to the housing crash. Lenders must prove that the borrower has the ability to repay the debt; not just during an introductory interest rate, as in the case of adjustable-rate mortgages, but also through the life of the loan. It means that new ARM loans will be phased out, for all practical purposes. Self-employed loan applicants will continue to face tough criteria. Get used to the picky underwriting process; it's here to stay!

All together, it means that home buyers shouldn't take anything for granted. The markets change, rates change, mortgage rules change. This is why you need expert guidance to help you capture the best opportunities and succeed in your home buying plans!

When you are looking for the ideal Millburn-Short Hills or Summit home, let me be your guide to the market! I have the latest information about home prices, neighborhood trends, schools and more - everything to help you find the best home for your needs!  

As your Millburn-Short Hills real estate professional, I will give you expert assistance with the home buying process from A to Z, from home search, to negotiations and closing. Contact me today, and let my 18 years of experience be your home buying advantage!

Elaine Pruzon
Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage
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Become My Fan on Facebook
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