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Home Buying During Covid-19 (the New Jersey Edition)


The Garden State is currently on lockdown. There are lines spaced six-feet apart to get groceries. Soccer is cancelled and school is being taught at kitchen tables.


But "life goes on" in this new normal...you have a new job and need to move to New Jersey. You’re pregnant and have outgrown the home you’re in. Your lease is up and you want your next move to be an investment - no matter what your reason for buying a home now, know that it is still possible.

Here’s the process and how it’s a little different these days:

Finding a home

Thankfully, in New Jersey, realtors can still list and sell homes. As a buyer you look and shop for your new home virtually from the comfort of your couch. You can also go on a virtual walk throughs with your Realtor using online tools like Facetime. And, if the seller is comfortable with it, you can still go on in-person showings with your Realtor by following all CDC guidelines (mask, etc.)


Getting a mortgage

Banks are still issuing new mortgages for conventional loans, FHA loans and VA loans. That said, the federal government has raised the required personal credit score for borrowers, so it is more challenging to get government insured, low-downpayment FHA and VA loans.

To help first-time home buyers, the state of New Jersey has a Down Payment Assistance Program (DPA). It helps buyers with $10,000 towards down payments and closing costs. To qualify you need a credit score of 620 or higher, and have not owned a home within the previous three years. For more info, check out their website.


If you have questions and want to talk to a lender, I can put you in touch with a mortgage consultant that I trust. Give me a call, text or shoot me an email and I’ll introduce you.



Home Inspection

Once you’ve found a home, made an offer that is accepted and contracts are signed (all done with online tools like Docusign). The next step is to have your new home inspected by a licensed home inspector. Home inspections, during Covid-19, are still happening, they're just being handled a little bit differently. Some inspectors prefer to do the physical inspections by themselves and send you a lengthy detailed report, while others are comfortable with you being present during the inspection and keeping your distance.



Certificate of Occupancy

In normal circumstances, the seller would be responsible for obtaining the Certificate of Occupancy (CO) from the local municipality. Most municipalities have stopped doing the physical CO inspections because of Covid-19. Every municipality is handling it differently. In a lot of cases, the buyer and seller agree to have the title company hold money in escrow until the CO inspection can be completed. Your Realtor can help you figure out the best way to address this.


Closing

You found a house, came to terms on price and repairs, all mortgage paperwork has been completed and signed and have heard the most magical words in any real estate transaction, "You're clear to close."


Now, for the signing. In order to keep everyone safe and healthy, in most cases the buyer will meet with the settlement officer and review all of the paperwork separately from the seller. Title companies (with individual notaries) are making every effort to follow safe distancing - including having the seller sign all of their paperwork prior to settlement.


The pre-settlement walk through and settlement will happen the same day. And when it's all said and done you'll have the keys to your new home. Congratulations!


Questions? Feel free to reach out nicole.mcgann@foxroach.com


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