According to the National Association of REALTORS®, condos have become increasingly popular among home buyers in New Jersey and across the nation over the last few years. When compared to a single-family detached house, condominium units offer smaller sizes, less maintenance, and in many cases lower prices. Here are five tips for buying a condo in New Jersey in 2017 or 2018.

A Look at the NJ Condominium Market in 2017

One of the first things you should do before buying a condo in New Jersey is to research the local real estate market, with an emphasis on condominium sales and prices. Here are some quick stats from the state’s Realtor association:

  • In July 2017, there were 2,198 closed sales for townhouses and condos in New Jersey, an increase of 5.1% from a year earlier.
  • The median sales price for condos and townhouses climbed to $260,000 in July 2017. That was an increase of 4% from the same month a year earlier. And prices appear to be rising still, heading into the fall.
  • New Jersey condos are also selling a bit faster today than they were a year ago. In July, the “median days on market” was down to 61, a 14% decline from the same month in 2016.

5 Tips for Buying a Condo in New Jersey

With those stats out of the way, let’s look at some tips for buying your first condo in New Jersey.

1. Include association fees within your budgeting process.

Both houses and condominium units have certain costs associated with them that go beyond the structure itself. In some cases, there are similarities and overlaps between these costs. Whether you buy a house or a condo in New Jersey, you will likely encounter property taxes and insurance requirements.

But condominium units can have additional costs you should be aware of, such as association fees. If possible, find out what these fees are in advance, so you can narrow your search to the kinds of condos you can actually afford.

2. Understand the rules, regulations and requirements.

There are several differences between buying a condo or a detached house in New Jersey. One of the key differences has to do with the association’s rules and regulations. When you buy into a condominium project, you will likely be subject to certain requirements and rules relating to ownership of the unit. These might include rules for pet ownership, decorations, improvements, parking and more.

You don’t want to be surprised or caught off guard when buying your first condo in New Jersey. So be sure to do your homework and find out about all of the pertinent rules and requirements for your selected condominium project.

3. Get pre-approved for a mortgage loan.

The New Jersey real estate market is very competitive right now, due to an imbalance between supply and demand. This is true for condo buyers as well as those purchasing a single-family house. In short, there are more buyers in the market than there are properties to go around.

In this kind of market, it’s important for condo buyers to have their financing arranged before they start shopping around. And this is where mortgage pre-approval comes into the picture.

We can review your financial situation and let you know if you’re a good candidate for a mortgage loan. We can also tell you how much you might be able to borrow. This is known as pre-approval, and it’s an important first step when buying a condo in New Jersey.

4. Get an agent, preferably one who knows the condo market.

We’ve talked about some of the key differences between buying a house and a condo in New Jersey. Because of the idiosyncrasies involved with the process, we encourage condo buyers (especially first-time buyers) to work with an experienced real estate agent.

If possible, try to find an agent who knows the condo market and is familiar with the purchase process. A little professional help can go a long way when you’re buying your first condo in New Jersey.

5. Make a strong offer based on recent condo sales prices.

If you’ve read up on the home buying process, you’ve probably encountered the term “comps.” This is real estate jargon for comparable sales, which are similar properties that have sold recently in the same area where you want to buy.

Real estate agents use comparable sales to help their clients justify the listing price and make a smart offer. But you can also do some of this research for yourself, by looking at recent condo sales prices in your target area.

Need condo financing? NJ Lenders Corp. has been helping New Jersey condo buyers with their financing needs for many years. Please contact us if you have financing-related questions or would like to start the pre-approval process.