How to Buy a House in New Jersey

Read our Advertiser Disclosure.
Contributor, Benzinga
May 27, 2020

From the fun and vibrant Jersey shores to the gorgeous green paths of Liberty State Park, there are tons of things to love about the Garden State. If you’re thinking about buying a home in New Jersey, be sure to read our guide to finding the right home and the best mortgage for you.

Step 1: Consider Current New Jersey Mortgage Rates

Many home shoppers are surprised to learn that average mortgage interest rates can change on a daily basis. Your local housing supply, average home prices and even the overall economy at large can all play a role in how much you’ll pay for your loan. Just a half a percentage point difference can mean paying thousands of dollars more for your mortgage loan — so it’s worth the time to make sure that you’re getting the most affordable rate possible.

Below, you can see some average New Jersey mortgage rates. We update this table regularly to make sure that you’ve got the most up-to-date information possible. 

Loan TypeRateAPR
30-year fixed 6.346% 6.405%
15-year fixed 5.917% 6.043%
7/1 ARM (adjustable rate) N/A N/A
5/1 ARM (adjustable rate) N/A N/A
Rates based on an average home price of $225,000 and a down payment of 20%.
See more mortgage rates on Zillow

Step 2: Pick a Mortgage Lender in New Jersey

Once you’ve got a good idea of what’s average for a mortgage rate right now, it’s time to research home loan assistance programs in your state and choose a lender. Here are a few of our favorite lenders in New Jersey to get you started. 

Quicken Loans
Best For
  • Online Service

1. Best Overall: Quicken Loans®

Quicken Loans is one of New Jersey’s largest mortgage lenders and one of the biggest mortgage lenders in the United States. Quicken Loans allows you to apply for a mortgage loan completely online. Most applicants also receive a decision instantly. The company’s preapproval process is so simple that it can be completed from a phone or tablet.

Quicken Loans offers nearly every type of conventional and government-backed mortgage loan option. It’s the ideal lender for first-time buyers and repeat buyers as well. If you aren’t sure which loan is right for you yet, you’ll love Quicken Loans’ Rocket Mortgage® platform, which features extensive research tools and informative articles. 

Veterans United
securely through Veterans United's website

2. Best for Veterans: Veterans United

If you’re an active-duty member of the armed forces or a veteran, you might qualify for a VA loan. VA loans are a special type of loan that may allow you to buy a home with 0% down. Veterans United is the top provider of VA loans in the United States and has been for the past 4 consecutive years.

One feature that makes Veterans United stand out among other VA loan providers is that their team is composed of former members of all branches of the armed forces. This means that you’ll know that you’re getting firsthand advice from people who understand the process firsthand. Veterans United’s team can also help you get your proof of service to apply for your loan. 

Don’t qualify for a VA loan? No worries — Veterans United can also set you up with a conventional loan as well. 

CrossCountry Mortgage
Best For
  • Self-employed Borrowers
securely through CrossCountry Mortgage's website

3. Best for Self-Employed Buyers: Luxury Mortgage

If you’re self-employed, you might want to consider applying for a mortgage loan through Luxury Mortgage. Luxury Mortgage’s Asset Qualifier loans allow you to use business assets when calculating your assets, which isn’t allowed under most standard loans.

You may qualify for a loan from Luxury Mortgage with a credit score as low as 580 points, and you can borrow up to 80% of your loan value. This can be an ideal solution for business owners who have fluctuating income or who have assets tied up in their business. 

Step 3: Find a House

After you apply for preapproval, it’s time to find the perfect property. Begin by creating a list of characteristics you want to find in your ideal property. Some things you might look for when you compare homes include:

  • Asking price: Your mortgage preapproval will give you a rough estimate of how much you can afford to be approved for in a loan. Though you’re free to spend any amount under the number you’re approved for, be careful to leave room for maintenance, repair and closing costs in your overall budget.
  • The layout of the home: Are you moving into a larger space because you want to start a family? Are your kids off to college and you’re finally preparing to downsize? Your future plans and current needs will both play a role in the number of bedrooms and bathrooms you look for when you compare homes.
  • Location: You may want to consider each home’s commute, number of parking spaces, school district and property tax rates if they’re relevant to your family and needs.

Finding the right home can take time. Don’t be afraid to visit as many properties as you need to until you’re 100% sure that you’ve found a home you’re ready to commit to. You may also want to start contacting real estate agents at this point to help you find a home that fits your needs and budget. 

Step 4: Make an Offer

Once you’ve found a property, you need to make an offer to buy the home. Your offer letter is a written statement confirming that you’re serious about buying a particular property and the terms under which you’ll proceed with the sale. Most buyers let their real estate agent handle the offer letter drafting and submission, but there’s nothing stopping you from writing your own letter.

If you do write your own offer letter, be sure to include:

  • Your full legal name and the legal name of anyone who will be included on the title with you
  • The address of the home
  • The price you’re offering for the home
  • Any contingencies that must be met before the sale can go through (for example, a successful pest inspection)
  • Items in the home that you want included in the sale that aren’t attached to the home (for example, window treatments)
  • Your preapproval letter
  • Information on the date you expect to close and the date you want to move into your new property
  • A deadline for the seller to respond to your offer

Once you submit your letter, the seller can choose to accept your offer, reject it or offer a counteroffer with new terms. If you receive a rejection or a counteroffer, it’s up to you to decide whether you want to make a new offer or walk away from the home. A home negotiation may involve multiple rounds of counteroffers before an eventual agreement is reached. 

Step 5: Closing Time

You’ve gotten your approval from the seller and you’ve got your mortgage preapproval. Now all that’s left to do is head to the closing table — right? Unfortunately, the closing process is a bit more complicated than that.

Closing usually involves 3 unique steps:

  • An appraisal in which a home value expert will visit your property and assign an estimated value. Appraisals are required by lenders to ensure that they don’t loan you more money than your home is worth.
  • An inspection where an inspector will take a look at your home’s appliances, systems and overall condition and make notes on what needs to be repaired or replaced. Inspections aren’t required on most mortgage loans, but you should still get one to ensure that you aren’t unknowingly buying a fixer-upper.  
  • Underwriting in which your lender draws up your loan paperwork and double-checks that your financial information is accurate.

The average closing process usually takes about 30 days but may take up to 90 days if you live in a very rural area or your lender has a more in-depth underwriting process.

After all steps have been completed, your lender will schedule your closing meeting. During your closing meeting, you’ll sign on your new loan, pay your down payment and closing costs and receive the keys to your new home. 

Move-in Day in New Jersey

Once you walk away from the closing table, congratulations! You’re the newest homeowner in the Garden State! Managing your mortgage is about much more than choosing the right paint color and ordering furniture. 

Be sure you understand your monthly mortgage payments before you sign on your loan and figure out if your insurance or property taxes require you to pay into an escrow fund. Staying on top of your finances and your loan will help ensure that you don’t run the risk of foreclosure in the future. 

Get Ready for Take Off

Rocket Mortgage® is an online mortgage experience developed by the firm formerly known as Quicken Loans®, America’s largest mortgage lender. Rocket Mortgage® makes it easy to get a mortgage — you just tell the company about yourself, your home, your finances and Rocket Mortgage® gives you real interest rates and numbers. You can use Rocket Mortgage® to get approved, ask questions about your mortgage, manage your payments and more.

You can work at your own pace and someone is always there to answer your questions — 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Want a fast, convenient way to get a mortgage? Give Rocket Mortgage® a try.