Welcome to the Teaneck
Chamber of Commerce Real Estate Committee page. Below are some frequently
asked questions that our Committee members have put together to assist you in
your transaction, whether you are looking to buy or sell your house.
FAQs for Buyers
Q. How do I know
if a town has good schools? What kind of information should I be looking for?
A. Bergen County is fortunate to have many, many towns with school districts
that are considered "good". And it's important to evaluate a district on a
variety of measures:
(a) Quantitatively by state achievement scores, SAT
scores, average class size, graduation rates, teacher education levels, and
instructional offerings. Various websites such as Great Schools or the NJ
Education website, etc. can supply this data,
(b) Qualitatively or
subjectively by school environment and facilities, school atmosphere, sports,
arts and extracurricular opportunities, etc.
A great way to see the
interaction with teachers and students is to call the superintendent's office or
principal of an individual school to make an appointment to visit the school
during a school day.NOTE: You must make an appointment, don't expect to walk
into a school without one. It is advisable to make these visits, ask questions
of the educational professionals and perhaps get references to speak with some
of the parents of current students -- not just rely on numbers and statistics. A
school district is much more than that and there are many very good districts
that may not have the highest statistics
as others, but are still excellent
Q. What are property taxes based on? How recently has Teaneck
A. Property taxes in any town are based on the land value
and improvement value which is the building structure. Similar to an appraisal
for a property loan, square footage of the home and property are calculated,
number of rooms, bedrooms, bathrooms, etc. Condition is also taken into account.
Naturally, homes that are more recently updated often carry a higher assessed
value. The location, exposure to a busy street or railroad tracks, whether it is
in a flood plain are all factors that additionally add to this evaluation of a
The assessed value is multiplied by the tax
rate....for instance if a home is assessed at $300,000 and the tax rate is $3.00
the taxes would be $9,000 per year.
The Township of Teaneck recently
underwent a town-wide reassessment. Property owners were notified of their new
assessment values in November, 2014. These assessments have not been published
because the new tax rate has not been determined by the town council until after
their next annual budget is adopted in the summer of 2015. Other communities in
Bergen County have also completed a recent reassessment, and your REALTOR® will
be able to address this point when showing you homes in those towns.
Are there certain housing styles in Teaneck?
A. Teaneck has a great
variety of housing styles: colonials, Tudors, split-levels, cape cods and a few
ranches. No one style is the same – for instance, there are at least a dozen
different kinds of colonials ranging in size, amount of bedrooms, location of
staircases (i.e. gracious center halls vs. roomy side-hall colonials), ceiling
height in basements, etc. Each of these housing styles offers unique benefits as
well assome challenges for prospective homeowners, depending on their individual
needs. Buyers should evaluate each one based on factors like square footage,
amount of storage, flow of rooms, amount of finished details and general upkeep
by the present homeowner. Working with an experienced REALTOR® will help guide
not only what the home has to offer but what its potential is for buyers.
Q. In general, how should I as a buyer approach evaluating each property?
A. The simplest answer lies in this suggestion – make a “pro and con” list
of each, and evaluate it based on three questions: What do I need to do
immediately? What should I plan on doing to improve the house in the next year
or two? What is my long term goal for this home?
Q. What are the
benefits to a homeowner of “Going Green?”
A. Going Green is becoming
more and more popular every day. This terminology for a homeowner describes
being environmentally conscious to the natural environment while supplying the
home with the necessities needed on a daily basis. As you drive through the
Township of Teaneck, you may notice that some of the schools, homes and street
lights have Solar Panels attached to the roofs and electric poles. Teaneck has
installed these Solar Panels to help become even more energy efficient and they
set an example for many towns across New Jersey. These panels help to bring
energy to the source from the sunlight. Once the sunlight is collected
throughout the day using the panels, it can then be rationed within the home as
a source of electricity. Teaneck is also proactive with our recycling
program. Special yellow and blue recycling cans are available for Teaneck
residents at the township DPW on River Road, and collections take place twice a
Think of the best benefit of all…you’ll save money as a
homeowner. The cost of homeownership doesn’t have to be astronomical if we all
pitch in to “Go Green” an take it one step at a time. Start going green today
with these simple tips:
• Buy food fresh from the market instead of
processed foods with cartons and containers that do not decompose well
Minimize your automobile use if possible by walking, biking, or using
• Try using a solar powered charger for your
• Invest in a rain water barrel to collect water for plants.
automobile cleaning, etc.
FAQs for Sellers
I’ve decide to sell my property in the near future, what are the first steps to
A. The first step is to make a call to one or two experienced
realtors to obtain a comprehensive market analysis of your property. Make
appointments so they can preview the home, and they will then come back with a
report to review with you. This report will include information on comparable
properties in the area that have recently sold, and will also include properties
that are still on the market or under contract that will give you an idea of
what your home is worth. In addition, a good REALTOR® will be able to speak to
local market conditions that may affect your home’s value, and will give you an
idea of sellers’ closing costs so you know how much equity to expect once the
home closes title after you accept an offer.
Q. What should I look for in
picking a realtor to represent me?
A. This question is key to the whole
process, as your realtor will be the “go-between” in dealing with other agents,
lawyers, inspectors, appraisers, mortgage lenders, etc. as you move forward into
marketing your home, then from contract to closing. Ask the realtors you are
interviewing for their resume, perhaps a short list of references from recent
transactions, and see what they bring to the table. Are they experienced? What
ideas do they have for showcasing your property? What kind of buyers will your
home appeal to? How will they market and advertise your home? It will be clear
as you interview them who you feel most comfortable being your real estate
Q. How do I know what I should do to prepare my home to
go on the market?
A. Your REALTOR® will be able to give you a specific
list of suggestions of what you can do to improve your home’s value, as well as
counsel you on what you don’t need to be concerned with. For instance,
repainting, pulling up old carpeting and refinishing hardwood floors, restaging
rooms are all simple items that can really help improve your home’s first
impression for buyers and their agents.
Q. How long does a listing last?
Do I have to agree to open houses? What about a lockbox?
A. A typical
listing lasts a minimum of 4-6 months depending on the type of market you are
entering – a buyer’s market usually means longer days on the market, a
seller’s market typically results in hearing offers in a shorter period of time
as long as the house is priced realistically and shows to its best advantage.
Ultimately, this is meant as helpful information but does not take the
place of actually speaking with a professional and trusted REALTOR®. Topics like
open houses, the use of a lockbox and other marketing questions are ones best
discussed between the listing agent and prospective seller.
FAQs concerning Real Estate Attorneys
Q. What should I look for
in selecting a Real Estate Attorney?
A. In northern NJ, the real estate
contract is administered by an attorney from contract to closing. The attorney
will review the initial contract during the initial Attorney Review period
(typically 3-5 days), and consult with the other party’s attorney about any
language in the contract that needs to be adjusted to protect his/her client’s
interests. The attorney will also hold deposit monies in his/her trust account
until closing, conduct inspection negotiations on any items of concern for their
clients, send for title work and surveys, and prepare closing documents.
Remember, you should be confident that the attorney representing you will be a
strong advocate for your position, as well as a good legal advisor on how to
solve sticky issues so that everyone is in agreement to keep the deal together
if at all possible.
FAQs concerning Home Inspections
Q. What does a home inspection contingency mean in my sales contract?
A. Included in the contract is a contingency clause allowing the buyers to
perform a home inspection of the property right after the attorneys finish
reviewing the contract clauses. Typically, the buyers get up to 10 calendar days
to hire and schedule a licensed and bonded Home Inspector to look over the home
and give them a report on its condition. The inspector takes a thorough
review of the home’s structural integrity, working systems (plumbing,
electrical, etc.) and also checks the home and garage for termites and radon. If
issues are discovered, the buyer notifies their attorney to reach out to the
sellers’ attorney to ask for repairs or credits on the issues uncovered.
Depending on the deal, the sellers may offer a credit in lieu of repairs, or
offer to fix the issue, or they may refuse to address it. Once both parties come
to an agreement on the issues raised, the contingency is satisfied.
How do I pick a home inspector? What should I be looking for?
can get names of home inspectors licensed by the state from their realtor or
attorney, or even from the recommendation of friends who have recently purchased
Q. Are there any other inspections I should budget for?
A. Depending on the age of the home, its style and location, a buyer’s attorney
or the home inspector himself may recommend an oil tank sweep of the property to
determine of there is a buried tank that has not been disclosed. In addition, if
the home has a septic system or an in-ground pool, those items will need to be
inspected as well.
FAQs concerning financing
What should I expect from a mortgage professional when meeting him/her for the
A. There are several things to consider.
-- Does this
person have a presence in the community? It’s usually best to stick to a local
lender who knows the particular requirements associated with lending in that
state, rather than shopping online for a lender whose headquarters may be in
another state. At the very least, the loan originator should be familiar with
the county and its towns, possibly be a member of the Chamber of Commerce or one
networking group, or a service organization.
-- Does this person have
the proper licensing/registration credentials?
His/her licensing must be
readily available and should be part of any and all correspondence and
informational materials. Visit the consumer access page of the NMLS (National
Mortgage Licensing System) web site to confirm proper licensing or registration
-- Does he/she have a good variety
of financing programs available in case your transaction changes mid-stream?
Sometimes unanticipated problems cause changes mid-process, for a variety of
different reasons. Does your originator have the ability and expertise to
adjust, or will you be forced to start all over again with another lender and
possibly lose your transaction, or even your deposit money?
-- Is he/she
available to answer your questions and does he/she REALLY listen to you, or do
you feel like you are being “cookie-cuttered” into the most common or convenient
program? There are a lot of different sorts of loans and different lending
arrangements available. Make sure your loan originator is providing you the
information you need to make your own decision, not making decisions for you
based on what is easiest and best for him/her.
-- Finally and most
important, it is always a good idea to ask for a reference or two from someone
who has recently closed on a transaction or from another professional you trust
Q. I don’t have a lot of money to put down on my purchase. Do I need to save
more money in order to buy?
A. There are programs with as little as 3.5%
down readily available, depending on the circumstances of your purchase, and
some sellers will even agree to finance part of your closing costs if you
qualify. Speak to a licensed originator to get more information specific
to your situation. Keep in mind, however, that an offer with less cash may come
up short against a competing offer with more cash – it all depends on how well
the property is priced and what the current market conditions are like. Your
REALTOR® can advise you in this regard.
Q. I want to look for a house
before I apply for a mortgage. I’m being told this is not a good idea.
A. Quite simply, it is “putting the cart before the horse.” Doing your homework
will enable you to be in a strong position when you find the property you want
to move forward on –- consider these points:
-- How can you ask a real estate
agent to give you hours of his or her time when there is no assurance that you
are a viable buyer? Neither you nor the realtor wants to waste each other’s time
in shopping for a property you cannot afford.
-- What if you find the home of
your dreams and discover as you are submitting your offer that you have been the
victim of identity theft, which will need to be
cleared up before you can
buy? Make sure your credit is good, your bills are paid and there are no issues
that will delay getting your financing approved.
-- If you have no idea what
sort of loans you are able to qualify for, what if the home you select requires
a particular type of lending?
Q. What will my mortgage payment include?
A. Normally your mortgage payment will include your principal, interest,
property taxes and homeowners’ insurance (PITI). Depending on the financial
institution you choose to be your lender, they may agree to only collect for
principal and interest in which case you will be responsible to pay for property
taxes and insurance yourself.
Q. What is the difference between interest
rate and APR?
A. The interest rate is the cost to borrow the money
disbursed in the loan. The APR is the total cost of the loan over its life,
including costs, points and fees
Q. What is PMI Insurance?
Private Mortgage Insurance protects lenders against losses that can occur when a
borrower defaults on a mortgage. PMI insurance is usually required when there is
less than 20 % equity in the home, meaning that the mortgage amount is over 80%
of the value of the home. Down the road, once your home gains value or you have
paid in enough to build up your equity, you can have that PMI removed.
Can I refinance my home using a fixed rate home equity loan?
A. Yes you
can, the interest rates may be slightly higher and the amount you can borrow may
be less than a conventional mortgage. However, normally the closing costs are