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 The Teaneck Chamber of Commerce

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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 choices.

Q. What are property taxes based on? How recently has Teaneck been assessed?

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 property’s value. 

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.

Q. 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 month.

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 low-emission vehicles
• Try using a solar powered charger for your electronics
• Invest in a rain water barrel to collect water for plants. automobile cleaning, etc.

FAQs for Sellers

Q. I’ve decide to sell my property in the near future, what are the first steps to take?

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 representative.

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.

Q. How do I pick a home inspector? What should I be looking for?

A. Buyers 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 a home.

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

Q. What should I expect from a mortgage professional when meeting him/her for the first time?

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 at http://www.nmlsconsumeraccess.org/

-- 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?

A. 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.

Q. 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 significantly less.

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PO Box 224, Teaneck, NJ 07666 | P. 201.801.0012 | F. 201.490.1808 | E. info@teaneckchamber.org

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