In Northern New Jersey it is common for a home to have an underground storage tank or (UST). A UST is a large tank that holds oil used for heating the home. Some oil tanks are active in homes that use oil as the primary heat source, while others are abandoned or decommissioned in homes that have been converted to gas heat. When an abandoned UST appears on a home inspection, it can be a complicated matter. That’s because there’s always a possibility that the soil underneath and around the tank could be contaminated with oil products. Here are 4 tips to help deal with an oil tank.
1. Do a Tank Sweep - The first step to confirming the presence of a UST is to hire a company that will perform a tank sweep of the property to detect the tank. If a tank is discovered, they will produce a report describing the approximate size of the tank and it’s location. A tank sweep typically costs $250-$350.
2. Get Permits & Certificates – If an oil tank had been previously decommissioned or removed, there should be a permit or certificate with the town. Buyers should be wary of a seller that mentions the removal of a tank but doesn’t have any permits or town certs to back it up.
3. Get a Soil Test – In instances where a UST is discovered it’s critical to know 2 things: Is there is any oil product still in it? And Is it leaking? Remember that some UST’s can be 30 or 40 years old. The tanks decay and corrode over time and eventually can leak. If a leak is suspected then environmental company should be hired to take a soil sample and analyze it for possible soil contamination.
4. Sell it 'As-Is' - If a UST is discovered during a real estate transaction in most cases the buyers will ask that the sellers remove the tank. However, sometimes a home can be sold with the UST still in the ground. For example, investors and house flippers often buy properties with abandoned USTs. Foreclosures, estates, and vacant homes are often sold as-is and some investors take the risk. If a seller has a UST, selling to a cash buyer may be the best option.
As of 2016, 4 percent of the total housing market in New Jersey is in foreclosure. Many homeowners are still carrying the burden of second mortgages and adjustable rate loans today. If you are facing foreclosure or are behind on your mortgage payments, there are things you can do right away that could help prevent the loss of your home.
First, immediately contact your lender's foreclosure department to inform them you are having a financial hardship. Next, consult with an attorney, tax advisor, and real estate broker to better understand the legal and financial aspects of your situation. Most importantly, don't be discouraged. There are several ways you can save your home and credit. Here are 6 ways to deal with foreclosure.
1. Short Sale. You can attempt sell your house for less than what you currently owe on your loan. Your home does not have to go into foreclosure, and you don't have to file bankruptcy. The lender saves money without having to file foreclosure proceedings, but does lose money by not getting the full price of the home during the sale. The buyer usually gets the house at a reduced price.
2. Partial Claim. If you qualify, your lender may be able to work with you to obtain an interest-free loan from the Housing and Urban Development (HUD) agency to bring your mortgage current. Visit the HUD website for more information on this option.
3. Special Forbearance. A lender can arrange a repayment plan based on your current financial situation or may provide a temporary reduction or suspension of your mortgage payments. You may qualify for this if you've recently experienced a reduction in income or an increase in living expenses.
4. Deed-in-lieu of foreclosure. You may be able to voluntarily "give" your home to your lender. This may help your chances of getting another mortgage loan in the future.
5. Mortgage Modification. You may be able to refinance the amount owed and extend the term of your mortgage loan for the missed payments. You may qualify if you've recovered from a financial hardship and your net income is less than it was before you defaulted on the loan.
6. Pre-Foreclosure Sale. You can sell your property and pay off your mortgage to avoid foreclosure and save your credit rating. This option works best If you know you can no longer afford to make the monthly payments but you haven't offically gone into foreclosure yet.
When facing foreclosure or any financial crisis the key is to contact your lender immediately to set up a payment plan or discuss other options. Ask the lender if the option chosen will be reported on your credit report, if so ask that the option not be reported. Just don't be in denial and wait for the worst to happen - tackle the issue right away. Above all, remember to consult with qualified professionals for real estate, tax, and legal advice before making a final decision on which option you choose.
You have finally decided it's time to sell your home. But before you list the property consider making a few improvements that'll help you sell it faster and for more money! Here are 8 tips on things to do before selling your home.
1. Remove all Major Clutter. Take a look at the house and determine how much clutter you need to remove. It’s important to keep in mind that prospective buyers will want to see what the house looks like behind all your stuff. This sometimes means going room to room and clearing everything out so that the whole house appears clean and organized.
2. Neutralize the Home. You may love the native tapestry on your living room wall or your grandmother’s old spoon in the kitchen but most of the time these personalized decorations will not help sell your home. Many home staging companies recommend removing personal photographs and knick knacks and replacing them with neutral items like picture frames or a vase with a simple arrangement.
3. Minor cosmetic work. Once you remove the clutter you will probably notice that some parts of the house are in need of repairs. it’s a good idea to paint where necessary, clean the carpets, repair moldings and trims, and replace cracked or damaged drywall. When making these improvements think neutral colors for any finishings be it paint or carpets. If you have hardwood floors have them sanded and finished. Area rugs can look amazing. Whatever you do, don’t over do it. Keep it simple and clean.
4. Hire a professional cleaner. Once you have the house cleared you should hire a professional cleaning crew to wash the walls, windows, work over the kitchen and bathrooms, clean the floors and shampoo all carpets that don’t need to be replaced. Your house should be spotless and kept this way for the duration.
5. Staging each room. If your rooms are smaller rearrange the furniture to make the room look bigger. For example removing some furniture is better than having too much cramped in. Set your furniture up in a conversation pit style. Make it cozy. Pull couches away from walls to give the appearance of depth.
6. Kitchen and bathrooms. To a buyer, these are often the most important rooms in a home. Make sure yours show really well. Plumbing fixtures should be working properly and look like new. Use a good cleaner or even a metal polish to make them shine. Showers and tubs should to be spotless. Sinks and vanities should to be clean and uncluttered. Kitchen cabinets should be in good working order with all doors opening and closing properly.
7. Doors and windows. It’s all about first impressions. In the case of selling your home, The first thing prospective buyers see when they walk in your home is a door. Make sure its painted or cleaned up and that it will open and close properly. This goes for screen doors as well. Windows should all be cleaned and be sure if someone wants to open them that they work properly. If they have been painted closed, as is the case with some older homes, now is the time to get them opened!
8. Odors and pets. if you’ve ever walked into a house with dogs or cats you know that it’s possible to immediately smell them as soon as you open the door. Therefore it’s important to take extra steps to remove all animal odors from a home you’re preparing to sell. Keep litter boxes fresh and clean daily. If possible, restrict your animals to certain areas of the home until after the sale. If you have more than one cat or dog remember to vacuum often and use carpet cleaners.
I know this sounds like quite a bit of work, and it is! But by following these tips you could easily be adding five to ten thousand dollars to the sale price of your home, not to mention that it will very likely sell faster! When it comes to selling a home, a little elbow grease now could turn out to be a solid investment.