What You Need to Know About Selling Your House in New Jersey

What You Need to Know About Selling Your House in New Jersey

Looking to sell your home in New Jersey? Then, you’re still in luck.

“Nationwide, it’s been a pretty good sellers’ market across the board because of lack of inventory,” explains top-performing real estate agent Albert Casalnova of Atlantic County, New Jersey.

Even though rising interest rates have cooled last year’s red-hot market, the Garden State’s 8,723 square miles of land is in high demand.

In this post, Casalnova, who works with over 72% more single-family homes than the average agent in his market, shares expert insights about selling a house in NJ. Combined with our research, you’ll find tips on some of the best ways to invest your time and energy to avoid common home-selling mistakes and how to maximize the profit potential of your greatest financial asset.

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Is now a good time to sell a home in New Jersey?

The small state’s 127 miles of coastline, 83 miles of bayshore, and more than 800 ponds and lakes — not to mention its proximity to metropolitan areas — remain a big draw for homebuyers.

“A lot of people are buying homes in our area now because they don’t have to commute to work anymore,” reports Casalnova. “Instead of spending $400 a month commuting, they buy a house down the shore and look at the ocean while they work.”

The area’s desirability and the limited number of homes on the market have conspired to create a great opportunity for sellers.

“Sellers really don’t have to do much to get a top dollar for their home,” Casalnova says.

However, the best way for sellers to achieve the optimal outcome in the changing market is to work with a high-performing, local Realtor®.

An experienced real estate agent can help you price your home through a comparative market analysis or CMA. This is a report that agents use to calculate the value of a home by evaluating its size, location, features, age, and other details in relation to similar nearby properties that have recently sold.

Curious about what your home might be worth right now? HomeLight’s online Home Value Estimator tool can provide you with a preliminary estimate of your home’s worth.

What is the most important thing sellers can do to take advantage of today’s market?

Whether you are looking to sell your New Jersey home at the highest price or as fast as possible, making sure your house is appropriately priced when it enters the market is the best sales strategy.

Sometimes, it’s tempting to start with a high price that can be lowered later.

Even though it may be counterintuitive, Casalnova frequently advises his sellers to price slightly below market value. “We’ve seen bidding wars,” he explains. “Pricing a home below market value may get three, four, or five bids — as opposed to overpricing a home and not getting any bids on a property.”

For example, if an area’s average sales price is $300,000, you might consider pricing at $275,000 to sell quickly. Particularly if the home is in good condition, the lower pricing is likely to generate interest and showings.

“It doesn’t mean you’re going to accept the $280,000 or less,” says Casalnova. “We’ll probably get multiple offers bringing it back to $300,000 anyway.”

Pricing strategies can vary depending on your home’s location, condition, and features. Partnering with an experienced agent will help you decide the best asking price, and whether to accept an initial offer or decline in hopes of finding a better buyer.

How much will I make selling my New Jersey home?

Acknowledging that the current New Jersey market remains an anomaly, Casalnova has recently seen $800,000 homes sold for $100,000 over the asking price.

“The amount a seller makes on a home is relative to price point,” Casalnova explains.

If the home is in pristine, move-in condition, sellers are generally signing a purchase agreement for 10% above the anticipated price.

With Atlantic County’s average sale price hovering around $400,000, a seller could reasonably expect to receive offers around $440,000. This may not be the case in all New Jersey markets, and the selling price is just one factor that determines net proceeds in a home sale.

Typical closing costs in New Jersey

The sellers’ profit margin on that sale also depends on the expenses involved in getting the property ready for market and closing costs.

Casalnova advises his clients to anticipate spending approximately 7% of the purchase price for expenses. So, sellers of a $300,000 property might budget $21,000 in expenses.

In addition, closing costs paid by New Jersey sellers are likely to include:

  • Mortgage loan payoff – which might hover near the state’s average individual mortgage balance of $254,392
  • Commissions – typically around 6% of the sale price
  • Escrow fee – 1% to 2% of sale price (negotiable between buyer and seller)
  • Title fees – 0.5% to 1% of the sale price
  • Homeowner’s association dues – prorated portion of the annual amount
  • Loan reconveyance fees – $50 to $65
  • Notary fee – $35 to $50
  • Reconveyance recording fees – $40 for the first page to $10 for each additional page
  • Attorney fees (an attorney is not required in New Jersey) – $325 per hour
  • Property taxes – usually prorated portion of the annual amount
  • Realty transfer fee – varies, typically up 1% of the sale; however, if the seller is over the age of 62, the amount can be discounted
  • Settlement agent fee – $500 (often split between seller and buyer)
  • Certificate of smoke alarm, carbon monoxide alarm, and fire extinguisher compliance – $110 to $120
  • Private well water test (if the property does not tap into the public water source) – $450 to $600

HomeLight’s Net Proceeds Calculator can help you estimate the cost of selling your home and the net proceeds you might earn from the sale.

What do I have to disclose when selling a house in New Jersey?

In New Jersey, Casalnova says, “The state does not require a seller to fill out any disclosure forms — except for lead paint.”

Nonetheless, New Jersey statutes do protect buyers from home sellers who fail to disclose or hide known defects.

Omissions about issues that endanger the health and safety of the buyers or make the property uninhabitable are likely to jeopardize the sale when they are discovered upon inspection or appraisal.

If the seller’s knowledge of the problem is revealed after the sale, it can result in lawsuits.

To prevent that outcome, most Realtors® — including Casalnova — encourage their sellers to complete the New Jersey Board of Realtors Standard Form of Sellers Property Condition Disclosure Statement and auxiliary forms about certain items if necessary.

The form specifically asks the seller to disclose the presence or condition of the following:

  • Roof (how old, replaced or repaired by seller, leaks)
  • Lead paint (or other toxic substances such as asbestos)
  • Attic, basement, crawl space (water leakage, accumulation, or dampness, mold, etc.)
  • Termites, wood-destroying insects, rot, pests (damage to property, treatments)
  • Structural items (significant cracks or bulges in the floor or foundation walls)
  • Additions/remodel (structural changes or other alterations)
  • Plumbing, water, sewage (issues with water source, sewer, septic, or other systems)
  • Heating and air conditioning (age and condition of HVAC system)
  • Wood-burning stoves or fireplaces (type, condition, usable, permit, etc.)
  • Electrical system (type of wiring, amp/volt service levels, items in need of repair)
  • Land (soil, boundary, easement, drainage, or flood problems)
  • Environmental hazards (underground tanks, toxic substances, hazardous wastes, etc.)
  • Deed restrictions, special designations, HOAs/condominiums, and co-ops
  • Miscellaneous (law or zoning violations, other material defects)
  • Radon gas (disclose if home has been tested or treated for radon gas)
  • Major appliances and other items (presence and condition of sale-included appliances)

Additional documentation may be requested to accompany and verify the basic form. For example, if they are aware of an underground storage tank that has been tested, the sellers are asked to provide a copy of each test report or closure certificate.

In answering each question on the form, sellers can reply yes, no, or unknown. Typically, sellers are not held responsible for defects in an item they mark the condition to be unknown.

For example, Casalnova stresses the importance of sellers disclosing their knowledge of oil tanks — both those that are still buried on the property and those that have been removed.

Since many tanks were installed and/or excavated decades ago, the current seller may be unaware of oil tank status. Fortunately, consumers — and their agents — can access the information on New Jersey’s Open Public Records Act (OPRA) site.

Additionally, sellers who have never lived in the property — such as those who inherited the home as part of an estate or bought it at a sheriff’s sale or as an investment — generally mark the unknown category throughout.

If the sellers have lived in the property and choose not to fill out a disclosure form, they (and their agent) must still date and sign the empty form and present it to buyers (and their agent) for signature as well.

What documents do I need to sell a home in New Jersey?

Besides the purchase agreement and the optional disclosure form, anyone selling a home in New Jersey needs to fill out tax documents required by the state of New Jersey.

In addition, Casalnova suggests sellers have their title company initiate a search for  Tidelands/riparian rights and claims.

In 17 of its 21 counties, the state of New Jersey owns the current and former waterways, which includes everything from the ocean to a dry creek bed. If the Tidelands map includes your property, the Bureau of Tidelands management might have a lien against the property for an unpaid license or lease.

Casalnova reports homeowners are sometimes unaware those liens have been placed, so it’s best to investigate and negotiate a settlement prior to listing.

In addition, there is a myriad of documents necessary for the sale including:

  • Deed and title (including Tidelands search)
  • Previous inspection reports
  • Permits and work invoices
  • Lease agreements (if the home is rented)
  • Purchase agreement and counter offers
  • Manuals and warranties
  • Disclosures and auxiliary forms

An experienced NJ real estate agent can help sellers navigate through this ocean of required home sale documents.

How Much Is Your New Jersey Home Worth Now?

Get a near-instant real estate house price estimate from HomeLight for free. Our tool analyzes the records of recently sold homes near you, your home’s last sale price, and other market trends to provide a preliminary range of value in under two minutes.

How can I prepare my New Jersey home before the sale?

There are a number of factors to consider as you prepare to sell your New Jersey home. You will want to find the Goldilocks balance of time and money investments for overall repairs, and fixes that might be needed to be ready for the home appraisal, home inspection, and showings.

What repairs to make — or not make — before selling

Even in a seller’s market, there are some simple repairs and reports that can propel a property to garner a faster sale at a premium price.

For example, Casalnova recommends a pre-listing septic system inspection. In New Jersey, septic system soundness is an environmental issue, which can become a financial one for sellers as well. “If they do put it on the market and the septic fails,” Casalnova says, “the remedy could cost between $2,000 to $20,000.”

In addition, Casalnova encourages his clients to address the cause of visible roof leaks. If the roof leaks, the house may be uninsurable and consequently ineligible for mortgage financing.

However, with regard to functioning HVAC systems more than 20 years old, he often recommends servicing by a licensed professional — rather than replacement — to satisfy the needs of the market.

You also might want to include other potential pre-listing improvements including:

  • Remove and replace old carpet
  • Hire a professional service to clean the home
  • Mow the grass and spruce up your curb appeal
  • Paint with neutral colors
  • Repair any outlets that aren’t working and replace any outlet covers
  • Make sure appliances and all mechanical systems are in working order
  • Repair any element that compromises the safety of the home or the health of future inhabitants

Because they don’t dissuade buyers from considering your home, you can generally avoid changes such as:

  • Non-structural driveway or walkway cracks: Hairline cracks that are due to the house settling
  • Grandfathered-in building code issues
  • Partial room upgrades (such as changing out one of several light fixtures) because they make the room look unfinished
  • Older working appliances: If not working, replace them with good used appliances
  • Minor cosmetic flaws such as scratches on hardwood floors or a loose doorknob

To prepare for the home appraisal

While cash is king in home sales, the majority of today’s buyers still finance the purchase of property. Typically, lenders contract with independent appraisers to provide an accurate estimate of the home’s value.

Those estimates are usually based on market data as well as an onsite visit. By making sure the appraiser has the most accurate information and total access to structural and mechanical systems, you can promote a successful visit that enhances the chances of a smooth sale.

  • Make the attic, basement, and crawl spaces easily accessible
  • Create a home facts sheet such as receipts for major improvements or upgrades
  • Clean up so the appraiser’s photo shoot captures features that add value to your home such as upgraded countertops
  • Make minor repairs, so the house looks well maintained
  • Reference HomeLight’s appraisal checklist to make sure your home makes the best impression during the appraiser’s visit

To prepare for the home inspection

While the appraiser seeks to verify the value of the home based on comparable properties, the inspector is looking for defects that render the home unsafe and/or are likely to cost the buyer additional funds after the sale.

Typically, inspectors look for:

  • Structural issues
  • Water damage
  • Roof condition
  • Plumbing problems
  • Electrical issues
  • HVAC condition
  • Pest infestation

An inspection that flags multiple issues is likely to result in additional negotiations with the buyer, which can delay, stall, or even cancel a sale.

To make sure you’re ready for the inspection, follow HomeLight’s inspection preparation tips.

To prepare for showings

The inspector and appraiser’s visits are scheduled after the purchase agreement and before closing. To attract the right buyer, it helps to take a close look at your home and make small changes that can reap big rewards on the real estate market. Sometimes, you can begin by using simple tips such as these to make sure your home appeals to the senses.

  • Declutter so buyers can get a feel for the space instead of the furnishings
  • Plant or place boxes of geraniums, snapdragons, or other colorful flowers near the entrance
  • Put away family photos and other cherished personal mementos
  • Deodorize with mildly scented cleaning products
  • Play soft music such as light jazz or classical (particularly if your neighborhood is a live noisy area at certain times of the day)
  • Hide clutter and electrical cords out of sight

The best advice on how to prepare your home for showings is only a click away. HomeLight’s Agent Match can put you in touch with a top-performing local agent who knows how to price, prepare, and sell homes in your area.

What if my New Jersey home needs repairs I can’t afford?

An experienced agent will know how to help you find a solution to any selling situation, even a home that needs repairs you don’t think you can afford. Top agents often know and work with local contractors, have connections with cash investors, or may have knowledge of bridge programs to help you repair your home and sell it for a higher price, allowing you to repay the funds after the sale.

You can also request a no-obligation quote from a platform like HomeLight’s Simple Sale, which will let you compare a no-obligation cash offer with what a top agent in your market might be able to get for your home. We’ll share details about cash offers and other selling options later in this post.

We recommend the sellers of older homes offer a home warranty that’s good for at least a year to a buyer. It gives the buyer a comfort level to know they’re covered for HVAC and other problems.
  • Albert Casalnova
    Albert Casalnova Real Estate Agent
    Albert Casalnova
    Albert Casalnova Real Estate Agent at Keller Williams Realty Atlantic Shore
    • Years of Experience 8
    • Transactions 84
    • Average Price Point $157k
    • Single Family Homes 52

What are some tips to market my house for sale in New Jersey?

Not surprisingly, proximity to the beach and bay top the buyer’s wishlist in Atlantic County. Additionally, young families are always drawn to properties with highly-rated school systems.

But no matter where you live, Casalnova has found buyers find peace of mind in a property that comes with a home warranty.

“We recommend the sellers of older homes offer a home warranty that’s good for at least a year to a buyer,” says Casalnova. “It gives the buyer a comfort level to know they’re covered for HVAC and other problems.”

The warranty typically costs $500 to $600 and is paid at settlement, so there’s no out-of-pocket expense for the seller.

Besides working with a topnotch agent, other tactics to market your home in the Garden State include:

  • Set a competitive price
  • Offer a home warranty
  • Declutter and take care of deferred maintenance
  • Take professional photos and consider a virtual, 3-D tour or drone footage
  • Write an enticing description that features the property’s proximity to the beach, schools, shopping centers, parks, and other community attractions
  • Highlight outdoor and energy-efficient features
  • Use social media to your advantage

When is the best time to sell my house in New Jersey?

The best time to sell your New Jersey home can vary depending on location.

For example, in Newark, current home sale transaction data indicates that you should list your home in April for a July sale to get the most money. To sell a Newark home fast, April is also your best choice.

For the highest sale price in Jersey City, you should list your home in June for a September sale. But for a faster sale, you should list your Jersey City home in January for an April closing.

In Atlantic City, a June listing is also good for the highest price, but if you need to sell faster, you should list in November for a February closing.

However, due to low inventory, Casalnova reports that well-priced, well-maintained homes are always in demand.

Find the best times to sell your New Jersey home using HomeLight’s Best Time To Sell Calculator.

What are my home-selling options in New Jersey?

The main options to sell a house in New Jersey include:

List with the help of a real estate agent

A great real estate agent will provide guidance and expert advice throughout the process of listing and selling your home. An experienced agent can help you set an appropriate selling price, provide preparation and presentation tips, will know the best marketing strategies for your market, and will work to find the best buyers. A top agent can help reduce hassles and headaches and save you time and money.

After working for 16 years as a Realtor®, Casalnova has frequently been confronted with the idea that homeowners are capable of attracting a buyer on their own.

While that’s true, he asks, “Wouldn’t you rather have 30 buyers and get a better price?”

Some homeowners have even contracted with Casalnova after their attempts to sell haven’t achieved their goals.

After assessing the property and pricing, “Within a few days, I’ve gotten some sellers $15,000 to $25,000 more than the asking price,” Casalnova says. “So, they’ve not only paid me, but put another $10,000 to $15,000 in their pocket.”

According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), about 90% of home sellers work with a real estate agent.

Sell by owner (FSBO)

This option, called “for sale by owner” or “FSBO,” is less common. Only about 7% of sellers take this route, according to NAR. Most FSBO sellers are looking to avoid paying a commission to a seller’s agent, also called a listing agent. The total commission for a home sale normally falls between 5%-6% of the sale price, which the listing agent will split (typically around 50-50) with the buyer’s agent. FBSO sellers still need to pay the buyers’ agent, meaning they save about 3% of their sales price overall.

Statistically, properties sold FSBO sell for less than agent-listed homes. According to a recent NAR report, FSBO homes sold for a median price of $260,000 compared to a median price of $318,000 for agent-assisted sales.

Sell directly to a cash buyer

If you need to sell your home fast, or just need a low-stress transaction — perhaps to sell an inherited home or a distressed property — another option is to work directly with a property investor or house-buying company rather than list on the open market.

Some examples of cash buyers include:

iBuyers: Instant buyers, known as iBuyers, are real estate technology companies that buy homes. These companies, such as Offerpad, Opendoor, and RedfinNow, have front-facing websites where customers can request near-instant virtual offers on their homes. iBuyers allow sellers to skip repairs and showings and tend to provide cash offers that are closer to market value than other types of home investors and flippers. iBuyers typically charge a convenience fee that is a percentage of the sales price.

Simple Sale: Simple Sale is a HomeLight platform that provides a cash offer to buy your home, which allows you to skip repair costs, showings, and agent commissions. Simply provide a few details about your property and you’ll receive a no-obligation all-cash offer in as few as 72 hours. If you accept a Simple Sale cash offer, you can close in as little as 10 days. It’s a fast, convenient way to sell a home in New Jersey.

We Buy Houses investor groups: We Buy Houses operations typically buy homes at a discounted rate and generally seek out homes in need of significant repairs. These companies can help sellers cash out quickly and many will cover a seller’s closing costs.

If you are considering a cash offer from an investor group, vet the company thoroughly. The level of experience, integrity, and customer service you experience can vary. Some are established franchises that strive to maintain consistent standards. Others are small groups or individuals that may not have a proven track record. Check reviews, read testimonials, and research the company’s presence and performance in the market.

And, of course, read any buying agreement carefully before signing.

How can I find a top-performing real estate agent in New Jersey?

HomeLight’s Agent Match platform can connect you to the top-performing agents in your New Jersey market. This free tool analyzes over 27 million transactions and thousands of reviews to determine which agent is best for you based on your needs.

Our data shows that the top 5% of real estate agents across the U.S. sell homes for as much as 10% more than the average real estate agent.

What are the most common mistakes New Jersey home sellers make?

For the foreseeable future, Caslanova projects proactive pricing will continue its reign as the top indicator of sales success. “If you overprice your home, it’s not going to sell,” he asserts. “You have to be realistic — especially now that interest rates are going up again and that will result in a smaller buyer pool.”

Ready to sell your house in New Jersey?

From the cities to the shoreline, New Jersey’s experienced real estate agents offer all the resources you need to sell your home.

HomeLight’s Agent Match can connect you with top-performing agents in New Jersey who have the local experience and market knowledge to successfully guide you through every step of the home-selling journey.


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Header Image Source: (E. Vitka / Unsplash)

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