First Time Home Buyers Feed

NJ Realtors say state programs make homeownership in NJ more affordable than ever

NJ REALTORS® say state programs make homeownership in NJ more affordable than ever

Programs help remove barriers for first-time buyers and others

(Edison, NJ) Record low mortgage rates and an abundance of housing choice have combined to make home buying extremely affordable across the nation. Programs offered by the New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Financing Agency (HMFA) can supercharge affordability and make owning a home in New Jersey easier than it has ever been, according to the New Jersey Association of REALTORS® (NJAR®).

"The HMFA's programs are designed to make housing more affordable for first-time home buyers anywhere in the Garden State and for any buyer of a home in a designated urban area," said Judy Appleby, 2010 president of NJAR®.

"The HMFA should be one of the first stops for a potential purchaser of a home. The Agency has designed its programs to help New Jersey families realize the dream of homeownership and has designed its programs to be consumer-friendly and to give New Jersey's families an advantage in the national real estate market," said Lori Grifa, Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs and chair of the HMFA.

"By reducing, or in some cases eliminating, the required cash down payment, the HMFA has removed a significant obstacle faced by first-time home buyers," Appleby said.

"The HMFA is an extraordinary partner for home buyers in New Jersey," Appleby added.

"Even though these programs have made purchasing a home more affordable, the home buying transaction still requires the assistance of a trained professional. Members of the New Jersey Association of REALTORS® have been working with the HMFA since its inception and stand ready to assist buyers, sellers and the Agency in making the home buying transaction come together smoothly," Appleby said.

The HMFA's programs include:

First-time Homebuyer Mortgage Programs
Becoming a first-time home buyer in New Jersey is made easier and more affordable when you use one of the HMFA's mortgage programs. Once you determine how much house you can afford to buy, the HMFA lenders can help you determine which program is the most advantageous for you.

Who qualifies:

  • First-time home buyers who meet income eligibility requirements
  • Home buyers who purchase a home in an identified urban area

How it works:

  • Low-cost, fixed-rate mortgages are available through over 75 lenders. The list of approved lenders can be found at
  • Cash down payments may be as low as 3 percent.
  • Special programs can reduce down payments to 0 percent.
  • The HMFA offers assistance with down payment and/or closing costs.
  • Area income and purchase price limitations apply.

Live Where You Work (LWYW)
LWYW provides low-interest mortgage loans to home buyers purchasing homes in towns where they work.

The goal of LWYW is to build stronger communities by promoting homeownership and encouraging people to live closer to their jobs. By living closer to home, we reduce the dependence on cars, and increase the use of alternate transportation such as walking, biking and public transit.

Who qualifies:

  • First-time and urban area home buyers who want to purchase a home in the same town in which they are employed as long as that town is one of a growing list of participating municipalities.
  • To see which municipalities are currently participating, visit

How it works:
LWYW is a program that provides 5 percent forgivable down payment and closing cost assistance coupled with low-interest fixed-rate mortgage loans.

  • Properties must be located in a participating Live Where You Work municipality.
  • Eligible properties include one-family units, including condominiums, (new and existing), and existing 2- to 4-family unit properties that are more than 5 years old.

Smart Start
Offers down payment and/or closing cost help in the form of a second mortgage for consumers purchasing in a designated Smart Growth Area in New Jersey.

Who qualifies:

  • Home buyers who are participants in the HMFA's first mortgage home buyer program and who are purchasing in a Smart Growth area.

How it works:

  • The program helps these families by offering a second mortgage for down payment and/or closing costs up to 4 percent of the first mortgage.

Home builders, Home buyers, and the HMFA work together to provide affordable homes and accessible mortgages to first-time home buyers and those seeking to purchase a home in a designated urban area.

How it works:

  • The HMFA works directly with developers to provide them with low-interest construction loans for new construction or the rehabilitation of housing.
  • The HMFA also provides favorable financing for eligible buyers of these units.
  • CHOICE aims to promote both viable and affordable markets in urban and suburban municipalities; while also enabling homeownership opportunities for workforce and middle-income households.

The New Jersey Association of REALTORS® is a non-profit organization serving the professional needs of approximately 48,000 REALTOR® and REALTOR-ASSOCIATE® members in the state. REALTOR® is a registered collective membership mark which may be used only by real estate professionals who subscribe to the REALTOR® organization's strict Code of Ethics and are members of the national, state and local REALTOR® organizations. For more information, please visit

The NJAR® Get the Real Story® program is a public education campaign that encourages consumers to take a closer look at local market conditions, state or regional economic factors, and their own personal circumstances when making a decision about buying or selling property in today's market. The campaign encourages consumers to Get the REAL Story® on real estate in New Jersey by visiting and working with a professional REALTOR®.

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Checklist for 203k FHA LOAN

203K Check list 
Michael Grace is an expert when it comes to 203k loans. He has put together a check list of what to look for when looking at propreties that need work and you are looking at an FHA loan because you don't have alot of money to fix or put down. 203K FHA loans are the best in this type of a situation. It helps you acquire a great property with potential at a good price.

If you're looking for such properties call me or email me and I can send you a list of properties in the areas you may be interested.

NJ Homebuyer Tax Credit

State Senate Approves Legislation Creating New Jersey Home Buyer Tax Credit

On June 10, 2010, the New Jersey Senate approved A1678, legislation creating a home buyer tax credit program in New Jersey. This legislation was previously approved by the General Assembly and is now awaiting Governor Chris Christie's signature.  


Since spring 2010, the New Jersey Association of REALTORS® (NJAR®) has discussed the possibility of the New Jersey Legislature passing a bill that creates a state tax credit program for home purchases. Recently legislation, A-1678/S-692, was approved by the General Assembly establishing a New Jersey Home Buyer Tax Credit Program under the state gross income tax for home purchases made within a one year period following enactment of the law.  As a means of bolstering the Garden State’s faltering economy, the bill creates a refundable tax credit of up to $15,000, or 5 percent of a home purchase price (whichever is less) for qualified home buyers. If eligible for the credit, home purchasers will receive the credit over three years, during which time the home purchased must be used as a primary residence.

Under the current bill, $75 million in funding is set aside for the purchase of newly constructed homes and $25 million will go towards purchase of previously occupied homes. While NJAR® is working to have more money dedicated to the purchase of existing homes, the main focus of the bill is to put people in the building trades to work and stimulate the economy through income and sales tax revenue created by the new construction. NJAR® submitted a memo explaining the economic benefits associated with enacting a state home buyer tax credit and expanding it to include more existing homes.

Before this legislation can become law, it must be approved by the full state Senate and be signed by Governor Chris Christie. The full Senate may vote on the bill as early as its next scheduled meeting on June 10, 2010. To date, we have not received confirmation as to whether Governor Christie is inclined to support the legislation

New Home Owner Tips to be Organized

New Homeowner Tips

Welcome to your organized home! Here are some smart tips to follow to help you settle into your new home in organized style.
  • Shout it from your (new) rooftop!   Let friends and family know you've moved! Choose from printed moving announcements or send a quick email. Be sure to provide your new address and telephone number.
  • Contact local utility companies.   If you haven't already done so, you'll need to contact electric, gas, cable, waste/recycling, water and phone providers to set up service in your new home. If your home has a security system, contact the security company and change the codes.
  • Get the lay of the land.   Locate the circuit breaker panel and make sure it's clearly labeled. Identify where the emergency water turn-off valve and the gas heater switch are located. It's also a good idea to know where the water heater and HVAC units are housed.
  • Identify service providers.   Unless you are skilled at home repairs, the last thing you'll want to do when an emergency arises is search for a service provider! Check your home warranty for items that are covered. Ask neighbors for referrals for plumbers, HVAC technicians, roofing companies and electrical technicians – have a list ready before you need it!
  • Set-up a filing system.   You'll want to set up a filing system for keeping home-related documents and receipts organized, including repair and warranty information, insurance policies and any home improvement projects.
  • New home toolbox.   A new home inevitably means hanging pictures, assembling furniture and other general maintenance needs. Create a small, portable toolbox stocked with the essentials that will help you at move-in and in the future. It should include a hammer, screwdriver (including standard and Phillips bits), tape measure, pliers, duct tape, flashlight, level, safety glasses, wall stud finer, nails, screws, dry wall anchors and Command™ Hooks. A lightweight cordless drill and stepstool are also helpful.
  • Be prepared.   Put together a first aid kit and make sure everyone knows where it's located. Make sure you have a fire extinguisher on each level of your home. Identify nearby doctors and dentists through your insurance company. Find out where the nearest hospital/emergency room and 24-hour clinics are located for unexpected emergencies. Plan and communicate emergency/evacuation routes with your family.
  • In the community.   If available, visit your new home's municipal Web site to learn of services and events that may be of interest to you. Locate the nearest library and shopping destinations. Contact your child's school for a schedule and to set up a tour.
  • Make space in your closets.   Whenever possible, it's a super idea to makeover the closets in your new home before moving in. Standard construction closets generally only offer a single shelf and closet rod, which is an incredibly inefficient use of space. Try our free design services using elfa, the premier shelving and drawer system.
  • Contain your cabinets.   Before unpacking your kitchen and bathrooms, measure lower cabinets so that you can install some kind of pull-out organizer. Once everything has been moved in, you'll love how easy items are to see and access. It's a lot easier to do this before unpacking than to go back later and do it! While you're at it, add a drawer and shelf liner to all cabinets and drawers before unpacking – it will make clean-up in the future breeze!

Be Sure to Know Whether You Qualify for the Earned Income Tax Credit

Be Sure to Know Whether You Qualify for the Earned Income Tax Credit 

The Earned Income Tax Credit, commonly referred to as EITC, can be a financial boost for working people adversely impacted by hard economic times. However, one in four eligible taxpayers could miss out on the credit because they don’t check it out. Here are the top 10 things the Internal Revenue Service wants you to know about this valuable credit, which has been making the lives of working people a little easier for 35 years.

1. Just because you didn’t qualify last year, doesn’t mean you won’t this year. As your financial, marital or parental situations change from year-to-year, you should review the EITC eligibility rules to determine whether you qualify.

2. If you qualify, it could be worth up to $5,657 this year. EITC not only reduces the federal tax you owe, but could result in a refund. The amount of your EITC is based on the amount of your earned income and whether or not there are qualifying children in your household. New EITC provisions mean more money for larger families.

3. If you qualify, you must file a federal income tax return and specifically claim the credit in order to get it – even if you are not otherwise required to file.

4. Your filing status cannot be Married Filing Separately.

5. You must have a valid Social Security Number. You, your spouse – if filing a joint return – and any qualifying child listed on Schedule EIC must have a valid SSN issued by the Social Security Administration.

6. You must have earned income. You have earned income if you work for someone who pays you wages, you are self-employed, you have income from farming, or – in some cases – you receive disability income.

7. Married couples and single people without kids may qualify. If you do not have qualifying children, you must also meet the age and residency requirements as well as dependency rules.

8. Special rules apply to members of the U.S. Armed Forces in combat zones. Members of the military can elect to include their nontaxable combat pay in earned income for the EITC. If you make this election, the combat pay remains nontaxable.

9. It’s easy to determine whether you qualify. The EITC Assistant, an interactive tool available on, removes the guesswork from eligibility rules. Just answer a few simple questions to find out if you qualify and estimate the amount of your EITC.

10.   Free help is available at volunteer assistance sites and IRS Taxpayer Assistance Centers to help you prepare and claim your EITC. If you are preparing your taxes electronically, the software program you use will figure the credit for you. If you qualify for the credit you may also be eligible for Free File. You can access Free File at

For more information about the EITC, see IRS Publication 596, Earned Income Credit. This publication – available in both English and Spanish – can be downloaded from or ordered by calling 800-TAX-FORM (800-829-3676).



Tax Topic 601, Earned Income Credit

FHA Imposes Floor for 3.5 Percent Down

FHA Imposes Floor for 3.5 Percent Down

The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) announced major underwriting changes to strengthen its reserves while maintaining the agency's critical position in the mortgage market at a time when its federally backed loans comprise about 40 percent of the market. Among the changes: an increase in the up-front mortgage insurance premium by 50 bps to 2.25 percent; a FICO credit score floor of 580 for borrowers to qualify for the agency's 3.5 percent minimum down payment (other borrowers must put down a 10 percent minimum); and a reduction in seller concessions from 6 percent to 3 percent of the mortgage amount. For further details, access NAR's brief on the FHA changes.

Tax Credit chart with explanations also for current home owners

Congress has extended and expanded the homebuyer tax credit. The modifications in the column labeled

“December 1 – April 30, 2010” become effective when President Obama signs the bill. All changes made

to the current credit become effective on that date, as well.

Download Government_affairs_tax_credit_ext_chart_110409

Car Care File in Trunk

Keep your car's maintenance records int he car and you'll never have to ransack your house looking for them. Just put them in a zip top plasitc bag and slip them under the carpet in the trunk.

Write down Important car information where you need it most - under the hood- with a paint pen (sharpie). Mileage and dates for coolant, air filter and tire changes will never get lost agin.