Are you selling a condo in New Jersey? You must follow the rules and regulations of the condominium association, and buyers and lenders may request specific information concerning how the association works, common elements, financials, and legal actions.
This blog serves as a refresher on condominium law basics, and covers steps in the sale, disclosure obligations, selling fast, and closing costs. Read on if you are ready to “sell my condo in New Jersey”! Call us 201-389-8275 or visit the Contact Us page for experienced legal assistance from contract to close.
How Condominiums Work
When you are selling a condo in New Jersey, it is worthwhile to revisit how condominiums work.
The New Jersey Condominium Act sets forth the requirements for forming and operating condos. The main characteristics are the unit, common elements, common expenses, and association. Key documents include the master deed, by-laws, and rules and regulations.
A condominium unit is the private area for owner’s independent use.
See N.J. Stat. 46:8B-3 (“Unit” means a part of the condominium property designed or intended for any type of independent use, having a direct exit to a public street or way or to a common element or common elements leading to a public street or way or to an easement or right of way leading to a public street or way, and includes the proportionate undivided interest in the common elements and in any limited common elements assigned thereto in the master deed or any amendment thereof.)
Each unit is a separate parcel of real property, subject to the same privileges and liabilities other real property. The unit may be held in any form of ownership or recognized by law. The owner of a condominium receives an individual real estate tax bill for the unit and can use the interest in the condominium as security for a mortgage financing.
Condominium unit deeds have special legal requirements.
Deeds must state the name of the complex, political subdivision and county, reference the recording office and book/page number of the master deed, designation of the unit, and the unit’s undivided interest in the common elements.
The common elements are parts of the complex that belong to all owners.
Common elements include everything except the units in which people live unless designated otherwise:
- The land described in the master deed;
- Improvements to the land, such as foundations, structural and bearing parts, supports, main walls, roofs, basements, halls, corridors, lobbies, stairways, elevators, entrances, exits and means of access;
- Yards, gardens, walkways, parking areas and driveways;
- Areas reserved for the management, operation, or maintenance of the common elements and units;
- Installations for central services and utilities areas;
- Items designated in the master deed as common elements.
Unit owners have the right to use the common elements. However, certain common elements are “limited common elements” designate for some units to the exclusion of others.
The common expenses cover shared costs of amenities and services available to all unit owners.
Common expenses including administration, maintenance, repair and replacement, management fees, operating costs, amenities, and staff salaries. Common expenses do not include real estate taxes to individual unit owners.
Common expenses are paid by “common receipts” generated from:
- Rent and other charges from leasing, licensing, or using the common elements;
- Monthly maintenance funds collected from unit owners; and
- Receipts designated as common by the master deed or the bylaws.
Condominiums are created in New Jersey by recording a master deed in the county recording office. Master deeds establishe the existence of the condominium and govern use and maintenance of the property.
The master deed must include:
- Name and nature of the condominium association, ofter referrend to as the “HOA”;
- Language making the described property subject to the New Jersey Condominium Act;
- Survey of the land;
- Plans and graphic descriptions of the existing or planned improvements existing to the land;
- Description of common elements and limited common elements;
- Unique identification of each unit;
- Each unit’s location and size, undivided interest in the common elements, voting rights, and percentage of common expenses;
- Procedures for amending the master deed, by-laws, and rules and regulations.
The by-laws govern the administration and management of the property.
By-laws address membership and voting rights, the board of directors, election of officers, define the fiscal year, title to the units, committees, special assessments, rules of conduct, insurance, additions and alterations, and utilities (electricity, water, and heating).
By-laws outline the method of calling meetings of association members, including the voting-eligible tenants and the necessary percentage of association members that must be present constitute a “quorum” for decision making.
The condominium association is an organization that makes and enforces the rules. The association manages and maintains the common areas.
Associations are normally corporate entities. Incorporation shields condominium owners of liability for acts of the association. Associations form as nonprofits to avoid corporation taxes.
Condominium associations typically designate responsibility of management to an elected board. The board has a large responsibilities:
- Operation, care, and upkeep of the common elements;
- Hiring managerial personnel and staff;
- Employing a manager or independent contractor to execute Board responsibilities;
- Amending rules and regulations;
- Purchasing, acquiring, or leasing property in the name of the association (including at foreclosure or judicial sales), and selling units;
- Setting and collecting the maintains fees of the unit owners;
- Approving special assessments;
- Enforcing obligations of the unit owners, including levying fines for non-compliance;
- Contracting for water supply, electricity, gas, snow plowing, and garbage removal;
- Managing the financials, including the annual budget,bank accounts and cash reserves;
- Borrowing money or securing a mortgage on the land.
Rules and Regulations
Condominiums associations maintain and update a day-to-day rules and regulations document that governs the behavior of the unit owners.
Rules and regulations when selling the condo because only individuals willing to live under the rules will make an offer. Condominium rules and regulations address the following:
- Use of the Property. Restrictions on commercial or manufacturing activity, storage of personal items, air-conditioning, generators, compliance with municipal codes, telephone and cable, supervision of guests, grills and cooking tools, play areas.
- Hardware and Decorations. Front door and holiday decorations, flags, flower baskets/pots at house entrance, bird feeders, welcome mats, window coverings (draperies, blinds, curtains).
- Parking and Vehicles. Registration with New Jersey and the association, overnight parking, location, restrictions on commercial vehicles, boats/campers, inoperable vehicles, guest parking, car covers, for sale signs, towing.
- Pets. Type and number of pets, limits on breeding, vaccination, registration with the city and association, supervision and clean-up, noise and disturbances, fees.
- Amenities (Pool, Tennis Court, Clubhouse, Gyms). Schedule and hours of operation, access cards and keys, adult supervision and age limits, guest policy, conduct, alcohol or substance use, tables / chairs /lounges, smoking, portable radios, clothing requirements.
- Trash, Rubbish, and Debris. Storage bags and containers, drop-off location, schedule for recycling and garbage removal, removal of bulk and hazardous items.
- Rental of Units. Short-term rental restrictions, limitations on renting upon purchase, roomers, tenant access to amenities and common elements, and subletting.
- Moving in and Moving Out. Fees and refundable escrow deposits during move-out, walk throughs by management before and after move out.
- Violations, Fines, and Late Charges. Defining violations and consequence, policy on late maintenance fees, contesting violations and grievance hearings,
- Architectural Modifications. Applications and approval by the association, compliance with permitting and municipal rules, dates and times for construction.
- Landscaping. Maintenance of grass, bushes, shrubs, and trees, and pest treatment.
- Disturbances. Nuisances and annoyances to other residents (car mufflers / motorcycles / quiet hours / music).
How to Sell a Condo in New Jersey
The steps to sell a condo in New Jesey is similar to other residential properties.
The process of selling the condo including setting price, marketing for sale, entering a the contract, entering a contract, inspection and financing, and closing.
Sale price is critical when selling you condo.
Pricing high may deter buyers from making an offer and delaying the sale, but pricing low can result in lost sale proceeds.
A Realtor’s “comparative market analysis” or a professional appraiser can help you choose a list price.
A comparative market analysis (“CMA”) estimates the condo’s value based on recent sales of similar properties. Realtors review location, age, size, finishings, upgrades. The CMA normally may include three to five comparables, a description of each property, and dollar adjustments for differences between the comp and subject property.
An appraisal is an opinion of market value by a licensed appraiser. Similar to the CMA, an appraisal will consider square footage, year built, number of bedrooms and bathrooms, location, and view. A visual inspection for necessary repairs will factor into the market value determination.
Market the Condo for Sale
Marketing the condo for sale is the job of the real estate agent. Approximately 89% of residential sales occur with a Realtor and there is a high probability you are hiring a Realtor professional assistance.
Realtors will list the condo for sale on the Multiple Listing Service (“MLS”). The MLS is a private database of sales maintained by real estate brokers. The MLS feeds into websites such as Zillow, Redfin, and Realtor.
MLS listings describe the property, including bedrooms/bathrooms, features and upgrades, size, homeowners association fees and perks, and the “Status” of the sale (Active, Under Contract, Pending Sale, Closed).
Condominium Sale Contract
Condominium contracts in New Jersey cover the standard real estate terms:
- Purchase Price. Amount seller will pay.
- Earnest Deposit. Payment upon entering the contract held in a trust account as demonstration of the buyer’s “good faith” in the transaction.
- Inspection Period. Time period for the buyer to inspect the property, and request repairs or financial credits based on defects.
- Financing. Method of payment and how long the buyer has to secure a mortgage.
- Appraisal. The rights of the buyer and seller in the event the property appraises below purchase price.
- Closing. Time, location, costs, and process of the ownership transfer.
There are some unique aspects of some condominium sale contracts.
Condo Association Due Diligence. Buyers often reserve a time period to review financials, master deed, by-laws, rules and regulations, and information concerning lawsuits. Buyers may have a right to cancel the sale if there are rules the buyer cannot live under or the association is in poor fiscal shape.
Common Elements Inspection. Buyers own an undivided share of the common elements. Buyers in some case may inspect common elements if structural defects are suspected (particularly if near the owner’s unit).
Buyer Approval by Association. Although rare in New Jersey, condo associations may require an interview and background check. A contingency for approval of the buyer can be included for these associations.
Inspection and Financing
The buyer’s “inspection” begins upon a fully executed purchase and sale contract.
During inspection, buyers normally hire a licensed home inspector to evaluate structural, mechanical, electrical, plumbing, and environmental defects. The buyer’s attorney may present a letter requesting repairs or credits. If the buyer and seller cannot agree on the sale may be canceled with the return of the buyer’s earnest deposit.
The focus turns to financing once inspection concluding.
Cash transactions immediately move towards closing. For financed offers, the buyer will obtain their “mortgage commitment”. The mortgage commitment is a formal approval of the mortgage normally issued after the appraisal and review of the buyer’s financials.
Whether a condo is “warrantable” is a vital if the buyer is finacing the sale. A warrantable condo is one that qualifies for a conventional mortgage.
Non-warrantable condos may be difficult to sell and compliance to finance. Lenders look at the following in determining if a condo is warrantable:
- Master insurance policies for damage and flood insurance;
- Annual budget and cash reserves;
- Pending legal actions and litigation;
- Number of owner occupied, tenant occupied, or vacant units;
- Percentage of ownership by corporations or the condominium developer;
- Commercial and non-residential space.
Closing is the final step in the condo sale.
Sellers execute a series of closing documents:
- Deed. A deed is a signed document that transfers ownership from the seller to the buyer. In New Jersey, deeds must identify the grantor/grantee, be signed by the grantor, notarized, state sale price, contain a property description, and describe the ownership interest being transferred. Deeds must be recorded to be fully enforced. Learn about deeds in our blog Valid and Enforceable Deeds in New Jersey.
- Affidavit of Title. An affidavit of title includes representations that the seller is authorized to make the sale and has not taken actions that would harm the buyer’s ownership interest after closing.
- FIRPTA Form (Foreign Investment in Real Property Tax Act). This form identifies whether the transferor is a non-resident for purposes of U.S. income taxation.
- 1099-S. The 1099-S is a tax document that reports sale proceeds to tax authorities.
- GIT/REP: New Jersey’s GIT/REP forms determine whether a tax withholding must occur at closing. There is typically no tax withholding if the property sold was a principal residence, the seller is a residential tax payer, sale consideration is under $1,000, or the seller is not required to make an estimated gross tax payment.
In financed transactions, buyers execute a mortgage (lien on the property), a promissory note (a promise to pay-back the loan), along with a series of other documents that vary lender by lender.
Condominium require “re-sale package”. Condominiums typically charge several hundred dollars for the paperwork for the buyer to register with the association. The association may request the buyer pay “working capital”at the time of sale to cover maintenance.
Selling a Condominum Fast
Are you seeking to sell a condominium fast in New Jersey?
Perhaps the condominium needs repairs, you are relocating, the property was inherited, or you no longer wish to pay mortgage, taxes, and monthly charges.
Consider pricing the property below the competition. Buyers are naturally drawn to a better deal and the most natural way to speed up the sale is to lower price.
A strong marketing campaign can also raise interest. A real estate agent that you wish to sell sooner rather than later. They Realtor helps select the strongest offer and designs an aggressive marketing plan.
Also consider speaking with a real estate attorney for setting up contract terms.
Condition Disclosure Obligations
Condominiums sales in New Jersey are subject to real estate disclosure laws. Failure to make legally required disclosures can result in canceled sales or lawsuits.
Latent material defects that are not readily observable must be disclosed when selling a condo in New Jersey. Selling the condo “as-is” does not eliminate the responsibility to disclose See Dalmazio v. Rosa, No. A-3635-12T1 (Super. Ct. App. Div. Feb. 20, 2015) (“In the context of a real estate sale, a sufficient misrepresentation occurs if the seller fails to disclose on-site defective conditions if those conditions were known to them and unknown and not readily observable by the buyer. A contract that purports to sell real property ‘as is’ or in its ‘present condition,’ is nevertheless subject to rescission or monetary damages where the seller fails to disclose or conceals material defects in the property which are actually known or constructively known to the seller, but not readily apparent to the buyer.”)
Buyers may also ask for disclosures concerning the financial condition of and lawsuits against the condominium association, physical defects in the common elements, and complaints and disputes between owners.
Review our blog Selling As Is in New Jersey – Disclosure Law for comprehensive coverage of New Jersey’s seller disclosure law.
Closing costs for condos are different than other real estate. Although the traditional closings costs apply, additional fees are charged by the association.
In New Jersey, sellers pay:
- Realtor Commission. Fee paid to a realtor for services provided to buyers and sellers. Commission is approximately 5% and shared between agents for the buyer and seller.
- Realty Transfer Fee. Fee imposed by the State of New Jersey imposed upon the recording of deeds evidencing transfers of title to real property. It is calculated based on the amount of consideration.
- Attorney Fees. Buyer and seller pay for their own attorneys.
- Pay-Offs. Sellers are responsible for their pro rata share tax and utilities, and any outstanding mortgages, liens, or debts.
Depending on the condo association and sale contract, seller may be responsible for some move-in fees / move-out fees, payment of the HOA “re-sale package” and collecting documents.
Selling a Condo by Owner
Selling a condo by owner in New Jersey is possible.
The FSBO approach allows for privacy, lower commissions, and more control. Sellers can obtain property data and list properties for sale online.
Of course, hiring a real estate agent has substantial value:
- Large Buyer Pool. Most buyers utilize a buyer agent for their home search. Buyers agent may prefer to submit offers on property listed for sale with an agent.
- Experience. Professional assistance with marketing the condo for sale and selecting an offer is valuable if you have limited real estate experience.
- Availability. Selling real estate requires flexible hours. Appraisers, inspectors, and buyers may need to visit the property during the week and inconvenient times for your personal schedule.
- Qualifying Buyers. Buyers are not created equal. Realtors help select the strongest offer based on their credibility, financials, and offer terms.
- Reducing Legal Risk. Although agents are not attorneys, they are trained on New Jersey real estate law as part of their real estate license.
- Marketing Skills. One of the realtors key roles is marketing a property for sale. A strong marketing plan is more than just an online listing.
Visit our blog How to Do a For Sale By Owner in New Jersey for coverage of this topic.
The steps and process of selling a condo in New Jersey were laid out in this guide. Understanding the basics of condo law in NJ, how the sales work, disclosure rules, and closing costs can improve the chances of smooth process. Connect with an experienced attorney and Realtor for professional guidance.
This guide applies to selling a condo in Newark, Jersey City, Hoboken, Paterson, Elizabeth, Union City, West New York, Bayonne, East Orange, West Orange, North Bergen, Clifton, Bloomfield, New Brunswick, Atlantic City, and across Bergen County, Essex County, Hudson Couny, Union County, Morris County, Somerset County, Atlantic County, Monmouth County, Middlesex County, Ocean County, and Passaic County.
Call us at 201-389-8275 or visit the Contact Us page for assistance with any real estate sales. Note: The information provided in this article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Readers should contact an attorney for advice on any particular legal matter.