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Whether you’re downsizing in the same town, retiring to the Jersey shore or planning to leave the Garden State for somewhere new, it’s a good time to sell a home in New Jersey. Data from New Jersey Realtors shows that the median sale price of a single-family home here is $460,000 — a healthy 9 percent increase over 2021 — and the typical home goes for 3.5 percent above its asking price.
However, it’s not quite as simple as posting your home online and waiting for crowds of buyers to show up at the door with blank checks. Read on for the tips and tricks you need to know to sell a house in New Jersey.
Are you ready to sell?
It’s a great time to sell your house in New Jersey, but that comes with tough news on the other side of the equation: It’s not as great of a time to buy a new one. So if you’re trying to sell your house while buying another at the same time, you’ll need to think about a range of scenarios that could complicate your situation. What if you find a dream home before your current home sells? Can you afford to pay two mortgages at the same time? How much do you need to budget for the cost of living in your new city? Should you budget to put your belongings in storage? Do rising mortgage rates mean you might want to wait to list your house until things settle down? Think about your local market, your personal finances and your plans for the future to make sure now is the right time.
Preparing to sell
Once you’ve determined that you’re ready to move forward with moving out, it’s time to think about three big questions.
1. Is it worth upgrading your home before you sell?
Probably not. Most major home renovations do not recoup their full value when it’s time to sell. Plus, hiring a contractor and navigating a continuing supply-chain crisis means that remodeling your kitchen might take significantly longer than you expect. In the meantime, you might be missing out on buyers who would snap up your home in its current condition. And don’t forget that upgrades and renovations are a matter of personal taste; you might absolutely love that new tile backsplash, but a prospective buyer might not. Rather than thinking about big upgrades, it’s smart to consider quick improvements that can boost the value of your home without breaking the bank.
2. What should you repair before selling your home?
Repair anything obvious that you would want to be fixed before committing to buy a home. Consider any issues that have annoyed you as an owner — a perpetually leaky faucet or a cracked floorboard, for example — and address them before prospective buyers start touring the property. You might also consider getting a pre-listing inspection, which is a way to get in front of any problems that the buyer’s inspection might uncover.
3. Should you pay to stage your home?
You don’t have to invest in major repairs or upgrades before you list a property. But you might consider shelling out a small amount to stage the home. Think of staging as a professional makeover that aims to give your house a move-in-ready look that will appeal to buyers.
When is the best time to sell a house in New Jersey?
Summer tends to be the best time to sell a house in New Jersey. Homes typically spend the shortest time on the market in the summer months, according to Redfin — just 32 days in June of 2022 versus 50 days in February.
Regardless of days on market, consider that waiting too long could put you in a bad position to sell in certain parts of New Jersey. A study from ATTOM Data Solutions, a real estate data firm, pointed to potential valuation declines in several New Jersey counties closest to New York City, including Bergen and Essex. So, don’t let the headlines of record-high prices fool you into a false sense of security.
Finding a local New Jersey real estate agent
You don’t have to figure it all out by yourself. Instead, you should find a great real estate agent to help educate you on the trends that will impact your listing. While some sellers are tempted to try to do it all on their own, the reality is that paying commissions to a real estate agent is often a worthwhile expense. The most recent data from the National Association of Realtors shows that agent-assisted sales closed for around 18 percent more than FSBO (For Sale By Owner) sales. It’s important to note that in New Jersey, your agent (or an agent from their same brokerage firm) could also be representing the buyer who wants your house. That might sound a bit odd, but it’s legal in the state, and it’s called dual agency. If your agent is acting as a dual agent, they must notify you, and you will need to sign off with your approval.
Price your home competitively
Your real estate agent can help you with the most important decision of selling a home in New Jersey, or anywhere: setting the asking price. How much is your home worth? Pricing is an art — you don’t want to set it so high that you don’t attract a buyer, but you don’t want to go so low that you miss out on major profit potential. To help you decide, look at comps in your neighborhood to see what other, similar homes have sold for recently.
Documents and disclosures in New Jersey
Every seller in New Jersey needs to fill out a property condition disclosure statement, which is a six-page form designed to help buyers understand any potential defects with the home. From the age of the HVAC system to past termite damage, this document covers just about everything a buyer should know before shelling out a large chunk of money for a property. Additionally, if your home is part of a homeowners association, be prepared to hand over documents about the association’s financial health.
Need to sell fast? Consider these alternatives
If you can’t afford to be patient, there are ways to accelerate the sale of your New Jersey home. Keep in mind, though, that time really is money in this situation — selling faster often means selling for a lower price.
Companies like Knock and Opendoor are iBuyers, which means they will make instant online offers to buy your home. Their offers will likely be lower than getting bids from multiple traditional buyers, but the speed — offers can take less than 24 hours — might be worth it if you need to move really fast.
Sell for cash
You can also compare companies that buy houses for cash. Rather than wait for a buyer to get formally approved for financing, many real estate investment firms have deep pockets that lead to fast closings. But they typically fix up a home and then flip it for a profit, so you will likely get a lower price than you could on the open market.
If you opt to list your New Jersey home as-is, you are broadcasting a simple message to all buyers: You aren’t going to make any repairs, and you aren’t going to negotiate. It’s a quick way of avoiding many of the things that can create closing delays.
Add curb appeal
A home that makes a good first impression is more likely to garner a closer look from buyers. So power wash your driveway, spruce up the landscaping, paint the fence — there are plenty of ways to add quick curb appeal to any home without spending a lot of money on a big project.
Closing a home sale in New Jersey
At the closing table, real estate agents, lender representatives and attorneys will handle all the closing paperwork and hand off the keys to the buyer. But, you should have a complete understanding of what you will need to pay.
Cost of selling a home in New Jersey
Even if you stand to make a nice profit, selling a house costs money. If you’re still paying off a mortgage on your house in New Jersey, part of the proceeds from the sale will immediately go to settle up that debt. Then, you will need to pay the commission for your real estate agent and the buyer’s agent — typically around 3 percent to each of them. So, if you sell your place for $500,000, you will likely pay $30,000 in Realtor fees. In addition to those fees, be sure to plan for the other costs involved in selling a home here.
Seller’s closing costs
You’re selling your house, which means you have to get all your stuff out of it. So in addition to the usual closing costs, outlined below, don’t forget to budget for a moving company as well.
- Title insurance: Typically this cost falls to the seller, but in New Jersey, sellers are in luck: The buyer pays for title insurance in this state.
- Transfer taxes: New Jersey sellers pay a 1 percent real estate transfer tax, a fee to switch ownership of the property to the buyer. So, if you sell your place for $900,000, you will need to give the state $9,000. (Sales over $1 million may incur an additional 1 percent fee, but that one is imposed on the buyer.)
- Seller concessions: The buyer may request concessions if the home inspection uncovers some issues. However, it’s up to you whether you are willing to budge here. These concessions eat into your profit, so think about whether a buyer would actually walk away from the deal if you say no.
- Attorney fees: New Jersey does not legally require sellers to hire a lawyer, but it’s still worth paying for. A real estate attorney can provide a great deal of reassurance when sifting through complicated contracts and disclosure statements.
Take the first step
Ready to get started? Interview a few local real estate agents, and don’t be shy about asking questions. How will each approach selling your house in New Jersey? You’ll need to sign a contract with the Realtor you choose, so make sure you feel good about how they will price your property and what they will do to attract buyers.
Besides a clear title, ensuring that you do in fact have the right to sell, the most important condition to satisfy is completing the seller’s property condition disclosure statement. This is required by state law on all home sales in New Jersey.
No, the state does not require that home sellers hire an attorney to handle the sale. However, selling a home is a complex process that involves large amounts of money and a range of possible liabilities. It’s wise to think about paying a lawyer to guide you through the process anyway.
All sellers pay a 1 percent real estate transfer tax on the sale to cover the costs of transferring ownership to the buyer. So, if you sell your home for $700,000, your transfer tax is $7,000. If you are moving out of New Jersey, you may also need to pay what is often referred to as an “exit tax.” It’s essentially a pre-payment of taxes on capital gains from the sale of the home. However, if the home served as your primary residence and you have netted less than $250,000 in profit (or $500,000 if you’re married and filing jointly), you will likely be able to recoup this cost when you file your taxes.
If time is of the essence, the fastest route is to sell to an iBuyer. You will likely receive an offer within 24 hours. If you want to attract interest from individual buyers on the open market, be prepared to wait a bit longer. Single-family homes are averaging 34 days on the market right now, according to New Jersey Realtors data. And you may have to wait even longer in certain areas. For example, in Hackensack, where home prices have been surging recently, Redfin data shows that the average home takes 68 days to sell.
In most states, the seller is responsible for this cost. But in New Jersey, the buyer usually pays for the title fees.
In 2021, the average closing costs in New Jersey added up to $7,915, according to data from ClosingCorp. This works out to around 1.7 percent of the sale price of a home. However, sellers don’t bear this amount alone. Buyers shoulder a big portion of these closing costs as well.