• Dillon Ross

The Complete Process of Buying a House in Livingston, NJ

Are you considering buying a house in Livingston, NJ? Well, for starters, you'd be making a great choice.


Livingston is one of the best towns to buy a house in New Jersey. It provides a safe community with an excellent public school system and a strong housing market.


What more could you ask for, restaurants, gyms, shopping? Livingston has it all.


Buying a house in Livingston can be stressful due to its competitive nature, but it doesn't have to be if you hire the right NJ real estate agent.


For learning and understanding the process of buying a house in Livingston, NJ, read the rest of this guide.

Buying a House in Livingston, NJ

Hiring a NJ Real Estate Agent


When considering buying a house in Livingston, the first thing you want to do is speak with a real estate agent who's familiar with the area. If you're not sure whom to talk with, there are many ways to find an agent who can help you throughout the process.


Be it putting a post on Facebook asking for recommendations, contacting friends and family, or doing a Google search; you'll be sure to have plenty of options.


I can help you buy or sell a house in Livingston! Just contact me.


Some of the questions you'll want to ask your real estate agent are:

  1. How's the market right now?

  2. Are you familiar with Livingston?

  3. How long have you been doing this?

  4. Do you do this full-time or part-time?


These aren't the only questions you should ask or the ones you absolutely must ask, but these are a great starting point.


Once you've found your agent, you're ready to move on to the next step.


Get Pre Approved


Most buyers tend to wait on getting pre-approved, but truth be told, it's best to do it from the beginning.

A pre-approval is essentially a document from a mortgage lender that states they've already verified your income and assets and that you're approved conditionally to obtain a mortgage.


When submitting an offer on a home, you need to include your pre-approval unless you're paying with all cash.


If you're paying with all cash, please skip this step outright.


Obtaining a pre-approval is usually a quick and straightforward process, as long as you're able to supply your mortgage lender with all of the needed documents.


Some of the documents a lender will need are:

  • Personal Identification

  • Social Security Card

  • Pay Stubs

  • Bank Statements

  • Tax Documents

  • Investment Account Statements

  • List of Monthly Debts

  • Rental Information and Landlord Reference

  • Gift Letters


And in addition to you supplying these documents, your lender will pull a credit report to get a full assessment into what you make, what you owe, and what your DTI is at.


With all of this information, your mortgage lender will be able to tell both you and your real estate agent what they can approve you for and what you can afford.


Once you have this in hand, you can move to the next step.


Time to Go Shopping


Now the fun starts! You have your real estate agent, and you're pre-approved. At this point, your agent can begin to send you listings that you might be interested in and want to see in person.

In Livingston, most of the homes available are single-family homes with decent-sized properties. However, if you're looking for a townhouse or condo, they also have that.


The best way to have your real estate agent accurately send you listings that are right for you is to answer these questions for them:

  1. How many bedrooms do you want?

  2. How many bathrooms?

  3. Do you have a specific style home you like? (i.e., colonial, split level)

  4. Do you want a lot of property?

  5. Are you looking for newer construction?

  6. Do you want a basement?

  7. Etc.


Your agent will have much more specific criteria to work with by answering these questions. It will allow them only to send you things you're likely to be interested in.


Private Showings


If you've identified a house that you like and want to see in person, be sure to let your agent know as soon as possible. Once you tell them, they can contact the listing agent and set up a time for you to see the home in person, privately.


Suppose you weren't working with an agent. In that case, you could always attend the public open house (if they have one), but be prepared to be hounded by agents looking for unrepresented buyers.


When your agent sets up a private showing, you'll meet them at the property and be able to walk through the house with your agent and ask any questions you have. If your agent doesn't know the answer, they'll write them down and get back to you with an answer after consulting the listing agent.


You may not find the house you love after your first tour. Heck, you may not even find it after your twentieth tour, but being active is the only way to find what you want.

When you find a house you like and want to put an offer in on, here's the next step.


Submitting an Offer


Ok, so you love a house, and you want to make it yours; great! The first step in getting the place you want is submitting an offer to the listing agent, who will then present it to the sellers.


If you're working with a real estate agent, your agent will guide you through the entire process and draft up the offer for you. You will need to supply your agent with your financing criteria and supply them with your desired terms. They will advise you on what they think is best to offer regarding price, contingencies, and closing date. Still, ultimately, the decision comes from you, the buyer.


Once your offer is drafted up, you, the buyer(s), will need to sign the entire document. Don't worry; it's not binding, even if your offer does get accepted.


You'll also have to sign a seller's disclosure document stating everything the seller knows about the house. And if the home was built before 1978, you will need to sign a lead paint disclosure form.


Your agent will submit these with your pre-approval letter to the listing agent with all of these signed documents. Once submitted, they'll (or they should) keep in touch with them for updates on if it's accepted or not.


If your offer isn't accepted, make sure your agent finds out why. More often than not, it comes down to price, but it can also have to do with your contingencies as well. And if it's not accepted, sure you have a reason to be upset, but know, everything happens for a reason, and you'll find your home sooner than later.


For the sake of this guide, let's move on with the idea that your offer has been accepted.


Attorney Review


In New Jersey, when your offer is accepted, every real estate deal must go through a period called attorney review which must be a minimum of three days. During this period, the real estate attorneys involved in the deal, on the sell-side and buy-side, will review the contract prepared by the realtor.


The contracts the real estate agents use are just templates supplied by the state, so they must be reviewed by your real estate attorney.


During attorney review, your attorney on the buy-side will initially disapprove of the contract in its current state and prepare a rider to send over to the seller's attorney. A rider is just a document that gets attached to the contract of sale. You (the buyer) and your real estate agent need to be copied on these riders, so everyone knows what is going on.


The seller's attorney and yours will go back and forth on these riders until they both approve them. Once that happens, and you've surpassed your minimum three-day period, you can officially go under contract, and your agreement is now legally binding.


Congrats! You're now under contract.


Under Contract


Being under contract is an exciting but stressful part of the real estate deal. Your offer has now been officially accepted. It's legally binding, but there's still much work to be done and a lot that can go wrong.


Your first order of business should be to let your mortgage lender know that you're under contract, and they will order an appraisal, of which you (the buyer) will need to pay. An independent appraiser will come out to the subject property to review it and then compare it with their selected comparables to tell the bank it's worth or not worth what you're paying.


To avoid issue number one, you need to hope the property appraises! If it doesn't appraise, this is where issues can come up.


Depending on your contingencies, this is also when you should order your home inspections. Your inspector will set up a day and time to meet you at the house, which your real estate agent will confirm, and walk through the entire house with you.


Some inspectors find every minor issue, whereas others are a bit laxer. When vetting inspectors, you want to find someone in the middle who finds problems but doesn't make their buyers crazy over minute issues.


If you need recommendations on an inspector, ask your real estate agent.


Depending on your inspector's findings, they will prepare an inspection report to send to your realtor and attorney. From there, you will determine if you need to ask the seller for a credit or to repair something.


If you've gone through all the steps during your due-diligence period, now let's look towards the closing day.


Closing Day

NJ Real Estate Closing

Woohoo! You made it. But don't celebrate just yet; things can still come up before you've officially signed the dotted lines.


The morning of your scheduled closing day, you and your real estate agent will head over to the house to do what's called a walk-through. To be clear, this is not an inspection! This is simply a quick 30 minute to one-hour meeting where you walk through your property to ensure the sellers left nothing behind and know new damage has been found.


If everything looks good, you'll head over to your closing. Typically, your attorney will have the closing in their office, but sometimes the title rep will do it at theirs. They want to make it simple and convenient for you.


For closing, you'll need to come with the rest of your money to wire or in a certified check and your hand because you'll be signing your name a lot.


Once the closing is processed and all the signatures have been taken care of, congratulations, you're a homeowner!


Conclusion


As you can see, there's a lot that goes into buying a home. While it doesn't need to be stressful, it can be overwhelming. Having the right real estate agent on your side is a huge plus when making the biggest purchase of your life.


If you're thinking about buying a home in Livingston, get in touch with Dillon Ross today to get started.