BuyingReal Estate Tips May 31, 2022

The Final Walk-though

The final walk-through on your new home is an exciting event.

It means you have successfully maneuvered through negotiations, inspections, and financing approval, and are on the verge of signing your closing papers. (pffew!)

Most buyers attend the final walk-through with thoughts of furniture placement and paint colors in their heads. But the walk-through is about more than just making sure your favorite chair will fit by the fireplace. Be sure to do your due diligence to make sure there are no issues that should be resolved before you reach the closing table.  

The purpose of the final walk-through is to ascertain that the home is being conveyed to you in the same condition it was when you agreed to purchase it.

Here are a few of the things you should check:  

1) Make sure no damage has occurred to the home that the sellers are responsible for repairing. Weather conditions or careless movers can cause accidental damage, and old and forgotten damage may be uncovered when the sellers’ belongings are removed.  

2) Check that appliances are still in working order and no new plumbing or electrical issues have popped up. While you aren’t doing a complete home inspection, you can visually check for obvious problems that should be repaired before you move in.  

3) Confirm that items contractually conveying are present. If the sellers agreed to leave particular furniture, décor, or equipment, see that it has not been removed.  

4) Make certain the sellers have removed all their belongings. You don’t want to arrive with the moving truck only to find out that the sellers left behind an assortment of unwanted furniture or trash. The sellers should be held responsible for removing everything that doesn’t convey with the sale.

A great agent will have a well throughout checklist for you to make sure you don’t miss a thing. Now you’re ready to head to the closing table with peace of mind. Who doesn’t love that?

Leah Smith Signature
BuyingReal Estate Tips May 10, 2022

Pre-Approval vs Pre-qualification… what’s the difference?

I’m so glad you asked – because it’s crucial.

Pre-Qualification vs. Pre-Approval

Meet Luke.
Luke immediately fell in love with the two-story with a brick patio and big backyard for BBQs. He quickly made an offer and began looking for lenders. Unfortunately, he soon discovered that he couldn’t qualify for the home. He tried to find something else in their price range, but other houses paled in comparison. If only they had shopped for loans before looking at houses…

An expert Realtor would have made sure Luke was pre-approved way before he saw the home!

One surefire way to reduce stress during the process of home buying is to seek pre-approval, actually applying for a loan before finding a house.

The loan agent asks for a few bits of information:

-A loan application
-Credit Report
-Income and asset information with supporting documentation.

These documents are then submitted to prospective lenders who underwrite the file, issuing credit approval or denial.

Buyers who are pre-approved are taken more seriously than their pre-qualified counterparts. Pre-qualification is not a loan commitment from a lending institution; it is only a loan agent’s opinion that you will be able to obtain financing. Verifications are not usually made, so formal approval is not issued. These days, virtually anyone can achieve pre-qual status.

Pre-approval, on the other hand, signifies that the lender has taken the application through a rigorous procedure. So buyers with pre-approval status can basically write their own ticket.

Check out these benefits of a pre-approval:

1. If you make an offer on a home and then apply for a loan, you are at the lender’s mercy. He sets the interest rate and points, aware that you do not have time to shop around.

2. Understanding the breadth of your financial reach will save the time spent looking at houses you can’t afford.

3. Shopping for a loan allows you to settle on a house payment that fits your lifestyle. If you rely on your lender to tell you what you can afford, you may end up with a high mortgage payment. Most people can qualify for more than they would feel comfortable paying.

4. Having a pre-approval letter from a lender gives you an edge in a situation where multiple offers have been made on a house.

5. Pre-approved buyers can generally close escrow more quickly. Once you submit your credit package, most of the legwork has already been done.

Remember, neither pre-approval nor pre-qualification are absolute loan commitments. Lenders must still assess property appraisals, verify information, and, in many cases, verify credit before funding the loan.

If you ever have any questions about pre-approvals, contact me! I’d be more than happy to walk you through it and get you in touch with one of my recommended Loan Officers.

Leah Smith Signature
BuyingReal Estate TipsUncategorized May 3, 2022

What exactly is a Home Inspection?

Home Inspections

Atop the long list of items to do when buying or selling a house is the home inspection. But what is involved? How much does it cost? Why is it done in the first place? It’s important to understand what a home inspection entails and how it affects the sale of your home or the purchase of a new one. The more you know, the less likely you are to get ripped off or taken by surprise.

What is a Home Inspection?

First of all, let’s clear up a commonly misunderstood point: a home inspection is not the same as an appraisal. An appraisal is an estimate of a property’s overall market value. A home inspection is much more detailed and practical. It is also not a code inspection and therefore does not report on building code compliance or give a “passing” or “failing” grade. It is defined as an objective visual examination of the structure and systems of a home by an impartial, neutral third party not related to the buyer or seller. In layman’s terms, it shows you what’s wrong with the property you want to buy or sell and if it is serious enough to prevent a sale.

The three main points of the inspection are to evaluate the physical condition of the home, including structure, construction and mechanical systems; identify items that need to be repaired or replaced; and estimate the remaining useful life of the major systems, equipment, structure, and finishes. Bottom line: a home inspection is to inform the buyer of any readily visible major defects in the mechanical and structural components, and to disclose any significant health or safety issues.

 What Does a Home Inspection Cover?

A home inspection includes a visual examination of the house from top to bottom. There are hundred of items a home inspection covers, including general structure, flashings, basement or lower level, framing, central cooling and heating, chimneys, plumbing and electrical systems, drainage, bathrooms and laundry facilities, foundation, common safety devices, fireplaces and wood stoves, kitchen and kitchen appliances, general interior, attic, insulation. ventilation, roof, and exterior.

An inspector cannot report on defects that are not visible. For instance, defects hidden behind finished walls, beneath carpeting, behind storage items and in inaccessible areas, and even those that have been intentionally concealed. Systems that are seasonally inoperable (swamp coolers, air conditioning, furnaces) will not be turned on during the inspection.

Information on home inspections and more are in

How Do I Find an Inspector?

I can always help you find a trusted Home Inspector that I have worked with in the past. You can also get recommendations from your  friends and family. If you don’t know anyone who has hired a home inspector, you can find home inspectors by google-ing “Home Inspection Services.” When interviewing inspectors, be sure to ask for references and any memberships in professional associations. Find out about the inspector’s professional training, length of time in the business, and experience.

It’s a good idea to be present during the inspection for a couple of reasons: First, you can ask the inspector questions during the inspection. Also, the inspector will have the opportunity to point out areas of potential trouble, which will mean more to you if you see it with your own eyes than read it in the inspector’s report later. Many inspectors also will offer maintenance tips as the inspection progresses.

Is the Seller Obligated to Make Suggested Repairs?

The seller is not required to make any repairs, replacements or maintenance since this is not a code inspection. However, the buyer can use the inspection report as a negotiating tool. For instance, if certain repairs or replacements are made, the buyer might offer to pay more, or if they’re not, the buyer can bid lower.

Also, never allow an inspector to contract with you to make repairs he/she has suggested — this is a major conflict of interest, not to mention unethical. However, some inspectors do offer a guarantee or warranty on their service for an additional fee, although it is not a standard practice and not required.

How Much Does it Cost and How Long Will it Take?

Remember that a thorough, accurate home inspection takes time. The last thing you want to do is to try to hurry the inspector along. The inspector’s most important priority is accuracy, and accuracy takes time. The chances of mistakes and missed conditions are much more likely the more the inspector rushes through. Expect your home inspection to take anywhere between two and five hours (allowing about one hour for each 1,500 square feet of living space over 3,500 square feet). Of course, older homes will take longer than newer ones.

Expect your inspection to cost anywhere from $200-$500 depending on size. The cost is worth it and may be one of the most important investments you make when buying a home.

 I highly encourage all of my clients to perform a home inspection! If you have questions about the home inspection process, please feel free to reach out to me at any time!

Leah Smith Signature

Featured Listings April 12, 2022

SOLD – 5 Cedar Ave, Westville, NJ 08093

SOLD! Congratulations to my buyers Mike and Matt on the successful purchase of their first investment property.

Mike and Matt have talked for years of purchasing an investment property together. With construction and electrical backgrounds between them, it was a no brainer. They have incredible plans to make these two units gorgeous, clean and updated!

My first conversation with Mike was about another property that had already gone under contract (hiiii, crazy market!) I had noticed Cedar had come on the market – but we had to move quickly because they had already called best and final! Mike and I quickly toured the property that afternoon and he knew right away this was the property he wanted. Shoutout to Matt for having a lot of trust in his partner!

With a relatively smooth transaction, (but a long weekend) I’m happy to announce we’ve officially closed on Cedar! Be on the look out for these gorgeous rental units to come on the market!

Leah Smith Signature
BuyingFeaturedReal Estate Tips March 22, 2022

A Guide to Buying your First Home in 2022

Ready to buy your first home in 2022? I specialize in helping first-time home buyers like you find their dream property in South Jersey.

Before you start searching for homes online, it’s important to take the first step to house shopping: Getting pre-approved for a mortgage.

Your pre-approval will tell you what you can afford and what your monthly payment will be, so it’s important to determine this before you start searching for your new home.

Pre-approval is good for about 30-90 days, so once you’re ready, take these first 3 steps to get it done.

  1.  Contact me, and I’ll send over a list of lenders I know and trust.
  2.  Look over the list, check out online reviews, and ask friends and family for referrals.
  3.  Email 2-3 lenders you like or let me introduce you over email.

Once you’ve got your pre-approval letter in hand, it’s time to start the search!

Before we hop into the home search, I like to advise my clients to create a “Needs” list and a “Wants” list. (I have a great booklet to help you with this!) This will help us to really focus on the things that are most important in your future home.

Needs are the non-negotiable features; the features you simply must have in your next home. Wants are the ones you’d like to have, but you can add or change down the road. Remember, you can’t change the lot or the location so make sure you love both.

Once you’ve established what you’re looking for, I will set you up on a search so you can receive an email the second a home that fits your criteria goes live. If you have any questions about a property, send me the information and I will find out for you. Send me listings you like and I can get more information and set up showings on your behalf.

After touring houses and choosing the one you love, it’s time to make an offer. To do this, you’ll need your pre-approval letter or proof of funds. You’ll also need to make an escrow deposit of at least 1-2% of the purchase price. This will go towards your closing costs at closing.

Have more questions about buying a home or what happens after making an offer? Reach out to me today!

Leah Smith Signature
FeaturedFeatured ListingsInvestingUnder Contract March 10, 2022

UNDER CONTRACT – 5 Cedar Ave, Westville, NJ 08093

A big congratulations to my investor clients for being under contract!

Originally Mike wanted to see another home in Westville, but it was scooped up quicker than we were able to see it. I saw 5 Cedar Ave on the market and asked Mike if he wanted to see it – but there was a catch. The listing agent had called for all offers to be in by 5:00PM that day.

We met at 2:00PM, toured the property and got our offer in ASAP!

I got to call Mike and his partner by the end of the night telling them they had won the bid out of seven other offers. I always love making those phone calls.

It’s been so exciting to hear their plans for this 2 unit rental. They have plans add beautiful curb appeal- just in time for spring!

I’m excited to finish this transaction and get them started! Congratulations again, guys!

Leah Smith Signature


Featured Listings February 2, 2022

SOLD – 100 W Woodcrest Ave, Maple Shade, NJ 08052

I could not be more honored to welcome Colette and Casey and their family home! ⁠

Group photo

I first introduced myself to Colette while trying to find a photographer for some personal marketing photos. She was so kind and easy to speak with! Turns out her family was starting to consider moving & they were in need of a Realtor.⁠

After a few weeks of searching, we finally toured a property … that had signed contracts and was in attorney review. We submitted an offer anyway. Then we got the call that the sellers decided to ACCEPT their offer! I absolutely lost my mind on that phone call 😅 It is always worth it to take a chance!⁠

Review from Colette S. on the purchase of her home.

I have to give a huge shout-out to Kelly Nyikita and her whole team at GRA for working hard and closing a VA loan seamlessly in our time frame. Big thank you to the wonderful Lisa Miller from Core Title for always providing a smooth transaction and thank you to Lindsey Binks for being a pleasure to work with! 

Having a great team is imperative for a smooth transaction and we had an amazing team for this transaction!

Leah Smith Signature