It is common for New Jersey Realtors to work with individuals and families looking to relocate from New York City or Philadelphia. While many city-dwellers think they will never move to the suburbs, there often comes a time when it is necessary to trade the bustle of city life for something quiet. Whether people move due to a growing family, new job opportunities, or a return closer to home, they all have one thing in common - they rely on Realtors to help them find their next home.
As a real-estate professional, you are committed to helping clients find a house that meets their needs. Finding the right home isn’t always about the house itself. According to the National Association of Realtors, 78% of buyers say the neighborhood is more important than house size. Homeowners can always make improvements to their house after purchase, but they won’t be able to change the neighborhood.
Here are some tips to help clients pick the right New Jersey neighborhood and find a house they can call home.
Learn about their daily routines. Homebuyers live different lifestyles and have various daily activities. Spend time asking your clients about their daily routines. What seems like an easy 40-minute commute to you can quickly turn into a dreaded journey for those making the drive each day. Ask the clients where they plan to work, whether they like to go for a daily walk or run, and whether they have kids that need childcare or will attend school. Take note of these answers and use them to make recommendations for potential neighborhoods.
Research property taxes. More should be considered than just the home sale price when it comes to the expense of buying a home. One area that varies across neighborhoods is the cost of property taxes, which in New Jersey range from $450 to $31,736. In some cases, taxes can push a buyer outside of an acceptable earnings-to-debt ratio. Having this information readily available saves you and the customer from looking at houses that may be more than the buyer can afford.
Compare insurance rates. Another cost to discuss with clients is the difference in insurance rates. If they currently rent their home, understanding the difference in renters’ and home insurance is just one premium to consider. Auto insurance rates also vary by state and by carrier. New Jersey drivers pay an average of $2,446 per year, but the amount for premiums can vary widely depending on the area. It pays to research auto insurance premiums to help clients understand the true cost of their homebuying decision.
Uncover their interests. It is also a good idea to ask your clients about their hobbies and interests -- or what they envision their time in the suburbs to look like. Knowing if they like to eat out, spend time at the local park, take the dog for a walk, or are looking to be close to a pool, helps Realtors narrow down neighborhoods that offer these amenities.
Show them the neighborhood on foot. Walking through an area is more powerful than a quick drive. It provides buyers a chance to see other families out, talk to potential neighbors, and notice any nuances such as funny smells or trash on sidewalks. It also gives them a way to measure the overall safety of the area.
Provide information on builders. Take the time to research the various builders in the area and pull data, including reviews on their reputation. Showing potential homeowners what the builder is known for - both positive and negative - helps establish expectations for their new home.
Know the market. Mortgage rates vary across New Jersey cities, which directly impact monthly mortgage payments and affordability. For instance, mortgages in Newark or Jersey City average a 4.48% interest rate, but mortgages in Atlantic City and Hammonton average 4.31%. Knowing what a buyer is pre-qualified for will help narrow down which neighborhoods they should look at.
Gather information on local schools. Whether your clients have kids currently or plan to start a family in the future, being in a good school zone is often a priority.. As a Realtor, you can set yourself apart by researching and having information to share with buyers on local school systems.
Sixty-six percent of homebuyers either choose a Realtor they previously worked with or one referred by friends and family. By following these tips and going above and beyond to deliver value to your buyers, you’re also drumming up new business for yourself by earning repeat clients and referrals.