Mark Casamassina


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First-time buyers in New Jersey typically have a lot of questions about earnest money deposits. How much earnest money should I provide, when making an offer on a home? Who do I give it to, and what happens to the money? This article addresses these and other questions about the earnest money process in New Jersey. What Is Earnest Money? Let’s start with a basic definition. In a real estate context, the term “earnest money” refers to money provided by a home buyer to show the seller they are serious about buying the property. In fact, if you look up the word “earnest” in a dictionary, you’ll see that it means “sincere” or “serious.” And that’s exactly the point of an earnest money deposit. The buyer is basically saying to the seller: “I’m serious about buying your house, and I’m not trying to waste anyone’s time.” This can make a big difference in an active real estate where there are multiple competing buyers. With all other things being equal, an offer that includes an earnest money deposit will probably be chosen over one that does not. How Much Should I Deposit? Another common question buyers ask is: How much earnest money should I pay when making an offer? What is the standard amount for an earnest money deposit in New Jersey? There aren’t any rules, laws or requirements that specify how much you should deposit. In fact, there’s no rule saying that you have to provide earnest money at all. It’s more of a custom, really. And the customary amount can vary depending on market conditions, location, and other factors. In ...

Are you still renting because you’re afraid you can’t afford to buy a home on your own? Do you hate throwing your money away towards rent each month when you know it’d be better to build equity in a home? A lot of renters feel this way, but some would be surprised to find out that they actually can make that leap into home ownership. And a lot of renters would say “that’s great, but how?” The answer is, roommates. Many people are now using roommates to help them fund their home. They purchase a home with extra bedrooms that they rent out to a roommate, or roommates, which then helps them pay off their mortgage and build equity for their future. It can even help you pay off your mortgage at a faster rate if the monthly rent exceeds your monthly mortgage payment. So, what are the steps? How do you get started? Here’s what you need to know… Find Out What You Can Afford And Get Pre Approved For A Mortgage First things first, you need to find out how much you can afford. It’s important to speak with a loan officer, so that they can crunch the numbers for you based on your financial information. This will give you a starting point and help you determine what price point you should be searching in when looking at homes.   Still Budget For Yourself First Although the idea is to have a roommate(s) help you afford a home, it’s still important to budget for a place like you’re living alone. Lenders don’t always consider potential roommates as a source of income when you apply for a mortgage, so your approval may be based solely on your current income. ...

When thinking of retiring and using real estate to help aid that retirement, many people believe their options are to pay off their house, or to even borrow against their home equity if they need money. However, an even better option is to invest in real estate in order to build your retirement income. If you purchase an investment property now, you can use the rental income to help pay the mortgage. Depending on how old you currently are, and what mortgage term you choose, it’s best to select one that would help you to pay the loan in full by the time you want to retire. If the mortgage is paid in full, you then have the choice of keeping the property and continuing to receive the net rental income, or you can sell your mortgage-free property and keep the earnings. Rather than try risky investments, or even house flipping, a rental income retirement strategy allows you a steady and secure income. You’re generating cash flow every month with the rent your tenants pay, and often your return on investment for rental income is in the 5-10% range, depending on the investment. There are also many other advantages for investing in real estate and using it towards your retirement income. When investing, it’s always smarter and safer to have a diverse portfolio. Instead of just relying on stocks, real estate is a great alternative source of income. Appreciation is also key in real estate investing, as long-term rental properties tend to appreciate over time. Also, if you plan on keeping the property long-term, rent prices have shown that they generally rise over time alongside inflation. You can also benefit from many tax advantages. Real estate ...

The Top 7 Benefits of a VA Loan

Nov 6
Category | Blog
Are you a veteran or do you know someone that served that could potentially take advantage of a VA loan and its benefits? Monday, November 11th is Veterans Day, and not only would we like to thank our country’s veterans for their service, but we also want to remind them of the benefit they have to obtain a VA loan. If you’re not familiar with what a VA loan is, it’s a loan that’s governed by the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, and it’s there to help veterans, active-duty military personnel, and surviving spouses. The loan helps them to purchase a home at a more affordable cost, requires no down payment, no mortgage insurance, and has more flexible guidelines when it comes to qualifying. Want to know more about the advantages of obtaining this loan? Here are our top ten benefits of a VA loan… No Down Payment Required VA home loan does not require a down payment, whereas the majority of home loan programs do. The VA loan is a legitimate no-money-down opportunity that allows you to finance up to 100% of the purchase price. No Mortgage Insurance Required You are not required to pay mortgage insurance when you obtain a VA home loan. This is a great advantage as lenders require you pay mortgage insurance if your down payment is less than 20%. The fact that you don’t have to put any money down, or pay mortgage insurance, means you’re saving money upfront, as well as over time. Never a Prepayment Penalty A VA loan has no timeline or restrictions on when you choose to sell your home. You will never be hit with a prepayment penalty or early-exit fee regardless of ...

Why You Should ACT NOW on Low Rates

Nov 5
Category | Blog
Why You Should ACT NOW on Low Rates In life, mortgages, and real estate, we often think about the grass being greener on the other side. At times, we all get the impulse to push the boundaries of a great situation, hoping our risk taking will be rewarded with greener pastures or financial gains.  2019 has brought us some of the lowest rates we’ve seen in years, and yet, it still has many potential buyers wanting to hold off until 2020 to see if they get even better. But, we’re here to tell you to ACT NOW! A year ago, several mortgage experts predicted higher mortgage rates in 2019. Some even thought we’d see them spike into the 5’s. As we all know, that didn’t happen. Second, it goes to show you that even the experts can get it wrong, and sometimes these things can just be too hard to predict. For 2020, a lot of those same experts are optimistic. They believe that continuing trade wars and an unstable economy will help keep rates sub-4% throughout the year. Below you can see six top agencies all having similar positive predictions.  Agency 30-yr rate prediction for 2020 NAR 3.6% NAHB 3.9% MBA 3.9% Freddie Mac 3.7% Fannie Mae 3.6% Wells Fargo 3.55% Average of all agencies 3.7% It’s still 2019 and rates still remain low, that’s why it’s important to take advantage right now! Don’t hesitate, and don’t wait. If you get a good rate quote today, your best bet is to lock now and not play the 2020 guessing ...

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