Buying a home at the Jersey Shore – What you need to know about homes and communities.
New Jersey has a long coastline, and most waterfront communities in Monmouth County and south call themselves the Jersey Shore.
My Jersey Shore is southern Ocean County, from Waretown (Ocean Township) down to Little Egg Harbor. Each town, Waretown, Barnegat, Manahawkin, Tuckerton and Little Egg Harbor have waterfront sections.
Homes in these communities vary, from old summer bungalows to new 3500 square foot mini mansions. While you’re deciding on the type of real estate agent and mortgage lender representation you want, you’ll probably be narrowing your internet search for a new home.
Here are some things to take into consideration in narrowing your search for the right home and community.
- What are the most important location issues for you? Is it proximity to work? Is it friendly neighbors? Is it the school system? While your agent can answer questions about neighborhoods, most of these questions are subjective.
Questions about schools and crime are particularly troublesome for REALTORS®. We cannot say a particular area is a ‘drug zone’ or an elementary school is substandard. Doing that could be considered ‘steering’ which is prohibited by law.
What we can do is provide local references (past clients) and websites for you to make the determination. I also suggest my clients visit the neighborhood at different times to get a better idea of what it would be like living there 24/7.
- How much room do you need? A small waterfront bungalow might not provide adequate square footage for a growing family. Are there pets to consider? This question is particularly important in condo and adult community purchases.
- Is it move-in ready? While there’s been much in the papers about great buys on short sale property (property being sold for less than is owed) and bank owned property (REO), there are some risks.
In most cases the sellers of these properties will not provide for repairs or a state mandated well test. Unless you’re handy, these properties could mean additional expenses that you might not be in a position to afford. Also, if you’re looking for that $8,000 first time homebuyer tax credit, a short sale or REO might not get to the closing table before the deadline.
- What is the best home for your living style? Do you prefer one level ranch style living, or is a colonial more to your liking. Do you want a basement? Do you need a garage?
Even if my home buyers have a preference for a home style, I will encourage them to look at homes that meet their needs and seem to be perfect in every other way. I’ve had clients that insist they wanted a ranch, but changed their minds when we looked at a well kept Cape Cod, on a quiet, street close to the elementary school, with all the interior amenities they wanted.
There are many other things to consider in selecting your home. It will be a great help to your REALTOR® and it will speed your search if you take time to consider location, size and style. But do you also have preferences about heat (electric, oil or gas), cooking (electric or gas), washer and dryer location, outdoor living space, a fenced yard and the list goes on. Give you perfect home some thought, write down everything.
When you sit down with your REALTOR®, be prepared to work on ‘Must Have’ and ‘Would Like to Have’ lists. Those lists will cover the items I’ve discussed, but should include many more, designed to find your perfect home and neighborhood.
This Homes and Communities report is the 3rd in a 6 part series for home buyers at the Jersey Shore.
- Lenders and Loans
- Homes and Communities
The Contract - Contractual Provisions
Offer and Acceptance - Attorney Review
Keller Williams Realty – Atlantic Shore
Laura Giannotta, ABR®
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