Market Value vs Assessed Value

It’s important to understand your home’s value since it directly affects your net worth. It also is essential to know how much you would receive if you sold your home since it will influence your financial decisions in the future. However, know that there is a distinction between your home’s market value and it’s assessed value.

Market Value

The market value of your home is calculated by determining what your home would bring in if it was sold in the current housing market. Because of this, the market value of your home can fluctuate drastically depending on the economy, the state of the housing market in your area and the value of surrounding properties. Market value is not the same as the value a bank would assign to your home, it strictly refers to the amount your home would bring in if it sold tomorrow.

Assessed Value

Although market value and assessed value are not the same, the market value is a factor in determining your home’s assessed value. The assessed value is used to calculate your property taxes and is based partly on the laws and regulations of your town and county. Every state and county varies, but the average time frame of when homes are assessed is every five to seven years.

What if you disagree with your home’s assessment?

If you feel your home was unfairly assessed, contact your assessor’s office. There is a process to petition a reassessment, such as a tax appeal,  so be sure you know your options. Always remember that an assessment is different than an appraisal, so unless you’re concerned for property tax purposes, there aren’t many reasons that warrant a re-assessment.

Property values can be a complicated subject, so if you have any questions regarding your home’s assessment, appraisal or market value, talk to a real estate professional. They will be able to help you navigate the process of challenging your home’s assessed value if you wish to do so.

What Is Title Insurance?

The home buying process is complicated and full of things you may not be familiar with, like title insurance. A title is the written evidence that the owner of a property is lawfully possessing the property and land it’s on.

What is Title Insurance?

If you own property, title insurance will protect you and your mortgage lender from any property loss or damage that might occur from liens or defects on the title.

What makes Title Insurance different than other insurance?

Unlike car or home insurance that you pay monthly or twice yearly, title insurance is paid for once in a premium due around closing time. It protects you from any events that may have happened in the past before you owned the property.

What does Title Insurance cover?

Title insurance protects you from defects such as someone claiming ownership of your property, incorrect documents, easements or liens. All the specifics of your coverage will be listed in your policy.

Is Title Insurance expensive?

Title insurance is regulated by the State of NJ.  The cost of the title insurance premium will be the same from one title company to another.  The title insurance premium is based on the purchase price. This is a one-time cost.

Who pays for Title Insurance?

The Buyer  is responsible for purchasing the new owner’s title insurance. In some cases where buyers a purchasing a bank owned property, the seller will offer to pay for the Title Insurance.

Every homeowner should consider title insurance to protect against unseen circumstances. If you are purchasing an older property or one that has had several different owners, title insurance is especially necessary. For any questions about title insurance, contact your real estate professional. They will be able to guide you through the process and help you find the policy that’s right for you.

How to Make The Most Income From Your Rental Property

Becoming a landlord can be a financially lucrative prospect, but it’s important to navigate this new venture carefully. Here are some things to consider so that you can make the most income from your rental property.

Make Sure Your Property is the Right Price

A common mistake many eager new landlords make is to buy the first rental property they can afford. An impulsive purchase can lead to many financial problems down the road. It’s important to consider both the market value and the potential rental income of the home before you purchase. So how do you know it’s the right price? Having equity   on day one and having a positive cash flow is the goal.  A good real estate agent will be able to guide you on values and rents.

Know Your Expenses

There are a lot of expenses to consider when finding a rental property that will make you the most money. Here are some common expenses to factor in to determine your final profit every month:

  • Taxes
  • Insurance
  • Utilities
  • Maintenance
  • Management
  • Home Association Fees

Do Inspections

Inspections during a tenancy are essential to be sure your property is being maintained and cared for. Even an inspection once a year could save you major repair costs later down the road. Be sure to give your tenants plenty of notice before an inspection and let them pick the day and time.

A rental property is a great way to make income with little effort, but it’s important to know what you’re getting into and do your research. Be sure to ask your real estate attorney any questions you may have about the process.

Consult with your accountant

There are many tax advantages to owning rental properties. An accountant is key team member as you go forth and build your real estate portfolio.

The Difference Between Starter Home and Forever Home

If you’ve just begun your first home buying search, you’ve probably heard the terms “starter home” and “forever home” many times already. But what are they and should you know the difference? Let’s take a closer look.

A Starter Home

When realtors refer to a starter house, they’re usually talking about a smaller, inexpensive home that will be your first home buying experience. You may not plan on living in this particular house for many years to come, but it is a great beginning and a place to finally call your own. A starter home is an excellent choice for you if you are on a tight budget without any wiggle room, don’t want to put a lot of work into the home and don’t want to commit to many major lifestyle changes. Many newlywed couples make this choice if they haven’t decided on a final location for their future or if they don’t have any substantial savings built up yet for a down payment. While a starter house may be great for a couple with no children, once you start to grow your family you may quickly grow out of it.

Forever Home

A forever home is a house in an ideal location and the perfect size you need for your family. It is where you plan on staying for many, many years, and possibly as the name suggests, forever. A forever home is usually the ultimate goal of home buyers, but a starter home makes it possible to obtain eventually. Prospective buyers looking for a forever home are more likely to take on fixer uppers and project homes that need a lot of work since they can take time to mold it to meet their expectations and needs.

Of course, sometimes things don’t always go as planned and things change, so it’s important to keep an open mind whether you’re looking for a starter or forever home. 

Tips to Find A Family Friendly Neighborhood for Your Next Home Purchase

If you are searching for a new home, you probably have some priorities on your wish list. The top requested wish list item according to realtors is a family-friendly neighborhood. So how do you find a community that’s perfect for you and your family? Here are some tips for finding a family friendly area for your next home purchase.

Look for Amazing Parks

Lots of neighborhoods have parks and playgrounds, but a truly family-friendly community will have beautiful updated parks specifically designed for active kids. Splash pads, climbing walls, zip lines… these are all signs of a newly developed park meant to cater to the children in the community.

Lots of Kids is Always a Good Sign

The more families you see out and about in an area, the more likely it is that you’ve found what you’re looking for. Kids riding bikes, kids walking dogs, lots of laughter and running around are all obvious signs that the neighborhood not only is full of kids, but it encourages them to be themselves.

Chat up the Locals

Once you spot that amazing park or see that family out walking their dog, start a conversation. Ask them what they like about the area and if they have any drawbacks. The best way to get to know a neighborhood is to go straight to the source, the people.


Are there grocery stores nearby? Schools? Doctor’s offices? If all the things a family needs are close by, that increases the chances that the area you’re considering is family-friendly.


By doing a little research on neighborhoods’ safety stats, you can eliminate any areas that don’t make the cut. You should also research school bus routes, traffic routes and busy intersection locations to determine how family friendly a spot is.

Once you’ve found the perfect family-friendly neighborhood, be sure to let your real estate agent know right away so they can start the search for your new home.

Why You Should Visit a Real Estate Attorney Early

Although hiring a real estate attorney is not always required when you buy or sell a home, it can make the process go a lot more smoothly. Calling an attorney during the very beginning stages of the process is the best time to do it. Let’s look at why.

Buying a Home

When you are starting the home buying process, a real estate attorney can help by discussing the process of purchasing a home,  and answer your  questions you have about the process. If you’re a first-time buyer, a real estate lawyer is important. A lawyer will be able to point out possible problems with a contract that you may miss and advise you accordingly. Once you’ve selected a property, your lawyer can help you negotiate and draft a contract while being sure to protect your interests and advise you of any risks associated with the purchase. Once you’re in contract, there could be many things that come up that a real estate lawyer could help you sort through such as issues with the home inspection, negotiations of closing costs and confusion with your lending contract.

Selling a Home

When should you hire a real estate attorney when selling your home? The simple answer is as soon as you decide to sell. The selling process can be overwhelming, especially if it’s the first time you’ve gone through it. An experienced real estate lawyer will be able to simplify the process for you by explaining everything in detail and helping you sort through the how’s and why’s. The most important step a lawyer will be able to assist you with is drawing up the contract for the sale of your home. This is where their expertise really comes in handy. Contracts can be overwhelming and your real estate attorney will have your interests in mind and make sure you and your assets are protected.

The Real Estate Cycle

The real estate cycle has four basic phases. Understanding how these phases work and identifying when the market is going through each one can elevate your ability to spot a good investment or to recognize when it’s time to move on. Let’s take a look at each of these phases.

The Recovery Phase

The recovery phase can be tricky to identify since the demand can still be low and growth might still seem flat. But by closely monitoring the numbers, you will see spikes in property viewings and a break in the downward decline. Recovery is a perfect time for flipping properties, so if that’s something you’re looking to do, finding the ideal property should be easy during this phase.

The Expansion Phase

Due to growing demand, markets are in the upward transition in the expansion phase. This is when rents are rising and vacancy is low. Investments don’t have much risk in this phase, so it’s the perfect time snag that property you’ve been eyeing for the long-term. It’s also a great time to look at new construction since new builders will be taking advantage of the opportunities.

Hyper Supply

When an economy begins to decline, and demand falls, properties become vacant and rental demand becomes scarce. If you have an investment property with solid tenants, hold on to it during this phase. There will be nervous owners looking to get rid of properties during this phase as well.


When warning signs are ignored during hyper supply, it can quickly turn into a recession. During this phase in the real estate cycle, supply is extremely high and demand is low. This is a good time to snag an investment that can be extremely profitable if you’re willing to hang in for the long haul and wait for recovery.

The real estate cycle can be confusing, but once you’ve learned to recognize the different phases, you can use it to your advantage.

Refinancing a Home and Why You Need an Attorney

Refinancing your home can be overwhelming, but the amount of money you could save on interest and monthly payments is worth the headache. You always have the option of refinancing without the help of an attorney to save money, but this is one expense that is entirely worth it. Let’s take a look at why:

Evaluating Your Current Mortgage

A real estate attorney is trained in all things relating to mortgages and refinancing. They will be able to break down your current mortgage and let you know what fees may apply to repay your loan early. They will also help contact your current lender and get all the necessary information needed to prepare the transfer. 

Explain Your Options

A real estate attorney will be able to explain all the possible loans based on your specific financial credentials that you may not realize are available to you. There are government funded programs you may qualify for that your attorney can help explain.

Negotiation and Mortgage Terms

Your attorney will be able to negotiate on your behalf so that you get the best possible interest rate for your new mortgage. It’s easy to get taken advantage of by lenders if you don’t fully understand your contract terms. Your attorney will not only simplify that process, but they may be able to save you a lot of money compared to negotiating on your own.

Mortgage Lawsuits

Although it is unlikely, there is always the possibility that you may need to file a mortgage lawsuit to get out your current contract or if there is a dispute with current terms. Your attorney will be able to advise you on legal matters concerning the lawsuit and give you the insight you wouldn’t have otherwise.

Real estate attorneys are a useful resource to utilize when refinancing your home. Their expertise and advice can save you money and help you obtain a new mortgage that benefits you financially going forward.

Common Closing Costs

The homebuying process can be complicated and overwhelming. In this article, we’re going to take a look at the closing process, particularly some of the most common closing costs. Closing costs are money due at the time of the closing of a real estate transaction during the transfer of the property title from the seller to the buyer.


In general, closing costs for the buyer equal about 1-5% of your loan total. But this can vary depending on a variety of factors such as the total loan amount, type of loan, and region. Your lender will give you an estimate of what your closing costs will be when you get your final loan estimate. The closing costs are made up of several different fees, many of which are negotiable. Here is a small portion of the common fees:

  • Application Fee: This fee covers the costs of things like credit checks and the general administrative costs of processing your application.
  • Appraisal: This fee is paid to the appraisal company.
  • Attorney Fee: Attorneys make the home buying process less complicated and their fee is included in the closing costs.
  • Escrow Fee: These are fees owed to the title company for handling the closing.
  • Underwriting Fee: This fee goes to your lender for researching your approval requirements for the loan.


As a seller, you can expect to pay around 6-10% of the total sale of your home, deducted from your profits. Here is what those costs pay for:

  • Commission: As a seller, you will pay the commission of both the real estate agents involved in the sale of your home.
  • Tax Transfer Fees: These are the taxes associated with transferring the title.
  • Loan Payoff Fees: These are the fees for paying off your existing loan.

A real estate attorney can help explain all the fees associated with buying or selling your home and answer any questions you may have about the process.

Fall Activities in Monmouth County

Fall in New Jersey is beautiful. The bright orange, yellow and red leaves, the crisp cool air- it’s the perfect time to enjoy the outdoors and explore the local charm. Here are some fun fall activities to check out in Monmouth County.

Kayaking the Manasquan Reservoir

Kayaking doesn’t just have to be a Summer activity. You can rent a kayak on the Manasquan Reservoir through October. The cooler temperatures make for beautiful days spent drifting across the water.

Camping at Turkey Swamp Park

Fall is the perfect time to camp. The chilly nights make a campfire even more inviting. Turkey Swamp Park has campgrounds available through November 15th at very affordable rates.

Visit the Deep Cut Gardens

Located in Middletown, the Deep Cut Gardens are gorgeous in the Fall. The park is open from 8 a.m. to dusk daily and features fifty-four acres of gardens and greenhouses. If you’re a home gardener, check out their many different fall workshops like the Composting Workshop on October 6th or November 3rd.

Harvest Home Festival

On September 30th, check out the Harvest Home Festival at Historic Longstreet Farm. This fair is full of late 1800’s themed fun like wagon rides, pie eating contests and craft shows.

Thompson Park Day

Thompson Park will be the place to bring your kids and pets on October 14th for Thompson Park Day. Your furry friends can participate in the “Strut Your Mutt” Doggie Costume Contest sponsored by the Friends of the Park, while the humans can enjoy several different events and activities to celebrate the season.

Fall Craft Show

Start your holiday shopping early on November 10th at the Fort Monmouth Recreation Area with this year’s Fall Craft Show. You’re bound to find many unique gifts and treasures at the over fifty different vendor booths.

Enjoy the season with the many different activities available to enjoy in Monmouth County.