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In a recent blog post, we provided an overview of the mortgage underwriting process in New Jersey. Today we have some good news on this subject for borrowers who are seeking a home loan.

A recent report provided more evidence of a trend we’ve been watching for some time. It showed that mortgage underwriting criteria in New Jersey and nationwide have eased over the past few years.

Mortgage Underwriting Criteria Easing in New Jersey, Nationwide

This report was published in June 2018 by CoreLogic, a property and financial data company based in Irvine, California. They analyzed mortgage loan data for the last few years, with a particular focus on qualification and underwriting requirements such as:

  • Debt-to-income (DTI) ratios
  • Loan-to-value (LTV) ratios
  • Credit scores among borrowers

Their in-depth analysis focused on conventional conforming loans in particular. In a mortgage context, the term “conventional” refers to a loan that is not insured or guaranteed by the government. The “term” conforming refers to home loans that meet or conform to the standards used by Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae. So this study pertains to “regular” mortgage products that fall within conforming loan limits.

Here’s a summary of their findings:

“Mortgage underwriting guidelines have loosened in the last couple of years. To expand the credit box to creditworthy borrowers, ...


We’ve all seen news stories about mortgage rate trends. They tend to generate a lot of headlines, because they are ever-changing.

But the rates cited by mainstream news sources are averages determined by industry-wide surveys. So they don’t apply to all borrowers. That’s why it’s wise to get a mortgage rate quote for your New Jersey home loan.

Getting a quote from a lender is an important preliminary step in the borrowing process. It can help you with everything from budgeting to house hunting. Here are five things you should know about getting a mortgage rate quote in New Jersey.

1. There are several factors that can influence your borrowing costs.

The rate you receive on a home loan can differ from other borrowers, due to a number of factors. Some of the variables that can influence rates include:

  • The borrower’s credit score
  • The size of the down payment
  • Occupancy (second home vs. primary residence)
  • The loan type and rate structure (fixed vs. adjustable)
  • The size of the loan (jumbo vs. conforming)

This underscores the importance of getting a mortgage rate quote when buying or refinancing a home in New Jersey. It helps you to budget and plan accordingly.

2. Home loan rates are constantly changing.

Mortgage rates are in constant flux. They are influenced by a variety of economic and market forces, and these forces are ...


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, ...


According to a report published at the beginning of 2018, the average credit score for New Jersey residents was 686. That was slightly higher than the national average of 675.

But what credit score is needed to qualify for a mortgage loan these days? Hint: It’s lower than the statewide average of 686.

Average Credit Score Among New Jersey Residents

In January 2018, the consumer credit-reporting company Experian published its “State of Credit” report. This report showed the average credit score in different states across the country, and for the nation as a whole.

Here are some interesting highlights:

  • The average credit score in New Jersey was 686, as of the beginning of 2018.
  • The average score nationwide was a bit lower at 675.
  • At 709, Minnesota residents had the highest average VantageScore.
  • Mississippi ranked last at 647.

Terminology note: This particular report pertains to the VantageScore credit-scoring model in particular. This is the one that’s jointly used by the three reporting bureaus — TransUnion, Experian and Equifax. There are other scoring models too, including the commonly used FICO score.

What Score Do NJ Home Buyers Need?

The averages shown above can be useful in terms of comparing credit scores across different regions, or to see how you stack up against others in your area. But those figures do not represent the minimum credit ...


A recently updated forecast suggests that the New Jersey housing market could experience rising home values stretching into 2019. Based on current conditions and trends, it appears likely that home prices in the state will continue to climb for the foreseeable future. So say the economists at Zillow, at least. Here’s a look at the latest forecasts for the New Jersey housing market.

Prices Up Nearly 10%, and Expected to Rise Further

According to the latest data compiled and analyzed by Zillow, the median home value for the state of New Jersey rose to around $313,000 as of June 2018. That marked an increase of 9.2% from the same month a year earlier.

Home prices in the state have been rising in a more or less steady fashion since the start of 2013, after a period of decline that occurred during the Great Recession. But the state’s median home price (the midpoint for house values) is still a bit lower than it was during the last peak.

Looking forward, the company’s economists forecast that New Jersey’s median home value would rise by around 7.6% over the next 12 months. This prediction was offered in June 2018, so it extends into early summer of 2019. Their outlook for New Jersey was slightly higher than the national forecast, suggesting that the state could experience some healthy home-price gains over the coming months.

To put those forecast percentages into perspective, home prices nationwide have risen by an average of around 4% to 5% ...


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