Almost daily, I’m inundated with questions from eager, nervous and new sellers and buyers. To help these buyers and sellers—and others in similar positions—I’ve selected six of the most common questions I’ve gotten of late and given comprehensive answers that I feel cover the bases.
Which is a better investment: selling or renting my house?
Deciding to sell or rent your home should be based on three factors:
Your experience in rentals
The housing market’s conditions
Successfully renting a property comes with a steep learning curve. You need to understand the ins and outs of property management, tenant selection and costs. If you have this expertise and can afford to hold onto your home, it’s worth considering keeping it as an investment property. However, you should also consider the market and rental demand. In a buoyant seller’s market, you could make a better—and faster—profit from selling, especially if there isn’t much rental demand. The opposite is also true. If there’s more rental demand and the housing market is subdued, rentals are the savvy choice.
How do I know the home I’m interested in is ‘The One’?
I love comparing house hunting to dating. You have the combination of emotions and logic. Sometimes you need to meet a few prospects to learn more about what you want, as well as what you don’t want. However, sometimes you can meet the first prospect and you “just know” it’s The One. It feels right. No one can convince you otherwise. As difficult as it is, set aside your emotions for a minute and consider if the home you’re in love with caters to your needs. The One could be limited to an ideal location, architectural style or size. But to truly be The One, it also needs to “feel right,”
I’ve been thinking of moving from Bergen County to Manhattan. Is there anything important I should be aware of?
New York is not dead. Go out for a day outing or a date night—you can feel the new energy rapidly escalating. Most residents are making a move in the opposite direction, so you are in a unique situation. Having said that, before you move, you should be aware of the cost of living and the standard of living. Manhattan is possibly one of the most expensive places to reside. You will be spending more on your mortgage or rent. That’s a given. But you will also spend more on basic needs. My advice would be to budget to spend a lot more of what you do in Bergen County.
Of course, if you are moving for a job or opportunity, your income could also see a significant increase which could offset the cost of living.
Since Manhattan is still recovering from the effects of the pandemic, if you want to buy, now is the best time to do it. Even with that knock, expect to spend more on space. If you’re on a budget, be prepared to downsize.
Something else you should be aware of is that the criteria to buy in Manhattan is more stringent than Bergen County. If you’re buying an apartment, besides getting less than stellar square footage, you’ll also need to meet requirements set out by the building’s condo or co-op board. Many buildings require a 20% cash down payment to be eligible to buy, but will likely favor buyers who have even greater down payments. Keep that in mind.
Is it worth buying a house that I don’t love to lock in today’s low interest rates?
I’d say in most cases, yes. But, you should be making a smart choice. The home should have resale potential like proximity to good schools, a growing community and so on, to ensure you’re not locking yourself into a home you can’t sell five or six years from now.
You should also try to find a middle ground. Maybe it’s not your dream home, but if it meets your requirements and you can afford it, why not purchase it while interest rates are at record lows?
I have two brokers asking to list my house. One is charging a lower commission than the other. Why would I consider going with a broker charging a higher commission? Wouldn’t this be a no-brainer?!
Brokers are like any consumable. You get what you pay for. If you want to buy a ring or a bracelet, you can choose to shop at Swarovski, or at Tiffany’s.
In my experience, it’s always good to be objective and consider why one broker would charge lower commissions. Would you be getting the same service, expertise, attention to detail as you would with one charging higher commissions? Would both brokers invest the same in professionally marketing your house? Also, a broker charging less
(a “discount broker”) would have to take on more clients to make a living, whereas a broker with higher commissions can dedicate most of their time to selling your property because they only need a handful of clients.
I’ve found a house I love but need to act quickly. Unfortunately, I need the funds from the sale of my current house to afford it. Do I have any options?
You have two options. The first is to include a contingency in the offer-to-purchase agreement that allows you to back out of buying a home if the sale of your home doesn’t go through. And the second option would be to take out a bridge loan. A bridge loan allows you to use the equity in your current home to put a down payment on the home you’re buying. However, if you take this route, you would generally need to pay two mortgages for six months to a year.
But don’t worry, good news: When you work with me to sell your current home, I can get up to six months of your bridge loan payments and other associated costs fronted—an exclusive offering for Compass clients, regardless of the lender you use. To learn more go to
www.compass.com/bridge-loan-services/levy-tewel or contact me [email protected] or my cell 201.477.0117.
Whichever option you choose, you should focus on assembling a killer team—expert broker and lender—to expedite the sale of your current home.
Levy Tewel is an associate real estate broker and team leader of the Tewel Team at Compass, helping sellers and buyers in Bergen County and New York City, with nearly a decade in the business, and over 1,000 closed transactions. Levy can be reached at 201.477.0117, [email protected], TewelTeam.com.