September 15, 2008

Types of Mortgages

Click here to Preview Bloomberg OnDemand: Types of Mortgages

Feel free to preview more videos and get more information about buying a home by tuning into Bloomberg OnDemand on your local tv service.

August 13, 2008

Working with a REALTOR!

Definitions of the different relationship that a New Jersey Real Estate Agent can have with a client?

1. Seller's Agent: Represent the seller and all material information supplied to the agent by the buyer will be told to the seller.

2. Buyer's Agent: Represent the buyer and all material information supplied to the agent by the seller will be told to the buyer.

3. Disclosed Dual Agent: Represents both parties, however, may not, without express permission, disclose that the seller will accept a price less than the listing price OR that the buyer will pay a price greater than the offered price.

4. Transaction Broker: Agent DOES NOT represent either the buyer or the seller. All information acquired from one party may be told to the other party.

When choosing which real estate agent you are going to work with, what qualities should you look for?

Knowledge, Communication, and Follow-through are the key characteristics I've found indicate a successful relationship and smooth closing to any transaction!

The real estate market is an ever-changing industry, so "years in the business" will only account for so much when confronted with issues in today's market. With technology advancing and consumers becoming more knowledgeable in the process, the need for an agent to continuously stay current with all that's available will not only help you, the consumer, but can also strengthen the skills and abilities of an entire agency.

As a REALTOR, I take pride in educating my clients by providing useful tools and making myself available to answer questions on various internet sites. Whether you're interested in selling your home within the next year, or buying a home in the next 6 months, I look forward to assisting you every step of the way!

Please feel free to contact me with any questions you may have about choosing a local REALTOR or about the home buying process.

Stay tuned for more topics about F.A.Q. consumers have about the real estate industry!

August 7, 2008

Lending a Helping Hand!

ERA is a major sponsor to the Muscular Dystrophy Association for over 30 years now. ERA Statewide Realty is hosting fundraising events to encourage our communities to assist in our collection this year! Currently, our office has two events scheduled in August that we invite all to attend!

Wednesday, August 13th between 5pm - 8pm
Hillsborough IHOP and meet Melzo the Clown!
Enjoy a great meal and entertainment - Come Hungry, Leave Happy!

Sunday, August 24th between 10am - 4pm
Gaetano's 22 Salon (Route 22 in Green Brook)
A great way to spoil yourself by treating you to a haircut by an award winning stylist at Gaetano's - while making a contribution to an excellent charity!

Proceeds from both events will be donated to Muscular Dystrophy Association!

July 31, 2008

What's the Hold Up?

There are many things that can delay a closing...

You, the buyer, are relying on several professionals:
* Real Estate Agents - yours and the seller's
* Attorneys - yours and the seller's
* Mortgage - Loan Officers
* Mortgage - Underwriters
(Be aware that many big banks have underwriters in a different state and may not have a personal relationship to influence the speed of their work)
* Title Companies
* Appraiser

This is why having a REALTOR (R) to assist in the transaction is very beneficial!


Currently I am working with a young couple (19 years old)who have decided to take advantage of this market and purchase their first home.

While they have diligently saved money over the past year for a down payment, with little work history and low income, they can only afford around $200,000.

With the most homes in the area averaging around $300,000-$400,000, they have limited choices. Most of the homes in their price range are foreclosures.

After previewing several homes, we found a bank-owned property in Manville listed at $184,900. They made an offer, and had to use the FHA 203K renovation financing loan, in order to purchase the home without doing the repairs BEFORE closing/ownership. This loan seemed like a lifesaver, as a regular FHA loan has stricter requirments in terms of repairs.

Attorney review period ended...Contractors inspected the property and signed off on estimated bids for repairs...Appraiser completed the report....Title work was completed and cleared....BUT we still haven't closed.

Apparently, the contractor bids were needed sooner than they were submitted. **ADVICE TO ANYONE USING FHA Renovation Loans: contractor estimates should be submitted within 10 days after attorney review if you expect to close on time!!!

Since the bids were "late", the lender couldn't order an appraisal to be done for the property. Then when the appraisal was "ordered", the appraiser didn't call to schedule an appointment for 4 days. Once the appraisal came out to the property, they didn't submit a report for another 4 days.

NOW it's sitting in underwriting for the past week an a half - our contract closing date was July 11th. We submitted an extension to July 23rd and STILL HAVEN'T CLOSED.
The lender has played the "we're almost ready to give clearance to close" about 5 times so far, yet one thing after another, the slow reaction of communication has delayed the closing.
MEANWHILE, my clients are now being penalized for not closing on time at a rate of $100/day. While, I hope to close within the next day or two, I wanted to share my story to all REALTORS and buyers to inform you the importance of always being "A STEP AHEAD". Don't ever wait to any deadline, for you are relying on several different parties to work "for you" at their convenience.

My biggest disappointment in this whole transaction is that my 1st time homebuyers have had to go through this. I treat every transaction as if I was the one buying the home, and this "unusual" sequence of delays is costing them an additional $700 plus.

So, please feel free to share any similar stories to help buyers learn from our experiences and help avoid similar delays in the future!

July 15, 2008

Information on Buying a Home!

Home Buyer Defense Guide
Real Estate Insider Advice To Help Homebuyers Avoid Common Mistakes When Buying A Home.

Buy And Sell Real Estate From Home

"Getting a House" Video

House Flipping Guide

The Venus Approach to Real-Estate Investing - eBook

Please feel free to checkout some of this resources.

A Great Time to Buy!

With interest rates still low and a significant amount of affordable homes to choose from, it truly is a great time to buy a home!

While some may be hesitant due to misinformation or just lack of know-how, there are far too many people "waiting"...but for what?

There are several programs available, especially for 1st time homebuyers. As a buyer, you also are not limited to only choose one or two homes that meet your criteria, there are several possibilities. There are also financing available for 1st time homebuyers to purchase foreclosure/fixer upper homes and truly customize their homes.

If you are "sitting on the fence" and just aren't sure what your next steps should be, feel free contacting me for more information! If you'd like me to cover specific topics on my blog, please leave me a comment/feedback and I'll respond with ample sources of references and information. I want my blog to be about YOU, the consumer, so please let me know what's on your mind!

July 10, 2008

Finding Foreclosures & Short Sales


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July 1, 2008

Buying Foreclosures - Investment or a Place to Call Home?

Many are not aware of the potential of the foreclosure inventory and its potential for investing. While interest rates are at a historical low, the homes are affordable and the amount of inventory is high. This makes for the perfect time to move up or move out!

There is a significant portion of foreclosure properties in New Jersey for buyers and investors to choose from. Even if you are not the "handy man" yourself, many lenders are providing renovation financing loans to bundle contracted renovations as well as the purchase price into one mortgage. The interest rates are usually slightly higher (by an 1/8th to a 1/2 typically) and there are a few more pieces of paper required to be completed before the lender will write you a check, however, it has opened the possibilities for many "non-handy" buyers to take advantage of great deals.

As banks are not in the real estate business and do not enjoy having a large inventory of real estate, they tend to rely on the expertise of a Real Estate professional. By contacting agencies whom work with banks on a regular basis (typically referred to as Real Estate Owned a.k.a. REO specialists), you are opened up to many more affordable homes.

The fear of "AS IS" typically is a concern for homebuyers, however, while adjustments and credits are not as easy to come by, they do exist. Banks tend to be more willing to assist in the expense of "unforeseen" issues like termites and not so generous for cosmetics. When purchasing foreclosure, it is the sole responsibility of the buyer to make sure a Certificate of Occupancy is granted by the town before the property is "move-in" ready. When using a renovation loan, the lender allows the money for the purchase of the property to be released and the property closed with just a Temporary Certificate of Occupancy. You will have to check with your township and your lender to see what requirements are needed beforehand, however, buyers are given the opportunity to buy the property and fix it after closing. No substantial repairs are left on the buyer BEFORE closing. The lender will allow a certain time-frame from the closing date to complete all necessary repairs, and the town will only give some sort of time frame as well to make all necessary repairs.

As you can see, both "bank owned" properties and special financing offers from lenders, are two other ways buyers can take advantage of this market. For more information, please comment or visit me at: to learn about inventory available in your area.

*Licensed in New Jersey only. Please contact me for referrals in out-of-state purchases. All information is deemed reliable but not guaranteed and is merely the professional opinion of Christine Markow. Please refer to your local lender, municipal building and attorney for further information regarding the purchase and financial lending for foreclosure properties. Thank you!

June 26, 2008

The True Story about NJ Real Estate Market

Many are concerned with the national headlines all over the media. While "informative" and typically accurate, they are far from the truth about their comments on the real estate industry trends. The real estate industry is highly localized, and therefore cannot be summarized in just one statistic. The other problem is that because it is highly localized all information is not accounted for.

As a NJ Realtor, it is upsetting to hear some colleagues and clients be so judgemental on the topic without any facts to what their hearing on the "news". It wouldn't be fair to put any blame on anyone, but I felt the need to share some basic, reliable information and give the online community an insider tip by providing this blog for all to read and comment on.

NJ is known for being the last to be hit and first to come back. As I continue attending several real estate industry specific courses, seminars, webinars, e-classes and such, all are relaying the same message. Whether held by a real estate agency, mortgage lender, 1st time homebuyer educator, or Board of Realtors, all are emphasizing what a great market this is.

The interest rates are at a historically low rate, while there is an abundance of affordable homes out there. While mortgage companies have tightened up their rules/practices on lending, it has primarily affected only those consumers who wish they could, but just can't afford a home right now. The regulations in place make it hard for someone who cannot really afford and ultimately would financially suffer by having a mortgage payment - its for the consumer's protection.

So for all those buyers/sellers, sitting on the fence, trying to decide whether now's the time or should you wait. Please check out the following website by clicking on the Title "The True Story about NJ Real Estate Market" or by cutting and pasting the following URL: . Let me know what you think!