By ANDREW J. LUCA
The sun. The sand. The surf. All images that remind us of happy times spent with family and friends at the Jersey Shore. Many are drawn to these iconic past times year after year, leading to a housing boom along the coast.
While family gatherings and birthdays at the beach bring instant smiles with the thought of buying your own home at the shore, a vacation home creates special considerations, especially for a new buyer.
Buyers are encouraged to follow these tips:
Often an older home is purchased by a builder who buys, demolishes and builds a new property on site. As a result, many new coastal homes use different architects, different builders, different subcontractors and different materials to construct that home. A buyer is well served by taking a little time to investigate the builder/seller of that new dream home or risk running into potentially preventable problems later on, when they should be enjoying making sandcastles with their kids or grandkids.
Many builders mark their homes with their Logo and Year of Construction or “est.” date on a small sign visible from the street or sidewalk. Look for these markers. Does that home look good? Has the siding faded? Do the windows have that annoying “film?”All could be signs of cheaper building materials used to construct that home and, possibly, the one you are thinking of buying.
While walking around the neighborhood looking for that builder’s sign/marker, ask the homeowner (keeping social distance, of course) if they’d recommend the builder. You decide if their information is helpful. That neighborly chat may provide you the right questions to ask your builder.
Ask for References:
Don’t be shy. Ask the builder what other homes they built in the area. And if they have the contact information and permission of those buyers for you to call.
Check the Internet:
A would-be new home buyer can Google a builder and/or confirm a builder’s registration with the state by going to the N.J. Division of Consumer Affairs website. Or, a list of registered New Jersey builders can be found here (https://www.nj.gov/dca/divisions/codes/publications/pdf_nhw/brlist.pdf).
New or Existing Home – Get a Home Inspection:
If you are considering purchasing a home at the shore, a property inspection is critical to protect your investment and peace of mind. The smell of the ocean air instantly brings calm to a busy lifestyle. However, the salt in that air is corrosive to buildings and equipment, both inside and outside of a home.
A qualified home inspector will know what to look for in an existing home and can advise on repair costs if a problem is discovered. When buying new construction, a builder or realtor may tell you a home inspection is not necessary because of the warranty. Newly constructed homes, by law, come with a 10-year warranty in New Jersey: https://www.state.nj.us/dca/divisions/codes/publications/pdf_nhw/2010_nhw_pgm.pdf
However, any homebuyer in New Jersey can get an independent inspection of the home they are thinking of purchasing. It’s not always an unnecessary expense. Administrative errors or intentional acts could delay, (or worse), your use of that New Home Warranty.
With a qualified inspector’s report in hand, problems found can be brought to the builder’s attention before buying the property. Your realtor can provide names of home inspectors. Confirm the inspector has insurance. You can also contact the N.J. Department of Consumer Protection for a list of home inspectors or confirm an inspector’s license status by clicking: https://newjersey.mylicense.com/verification/Search.aspx.
Additional investigation of potential home inspectors can be done on the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (https://njnachi.123signup.com/directory/26612) or the American Society of Home Inspectors (https://www.homeinspector.org/) websites.
Grandma’s saying of “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” is never more true than when buying a home at the shore. With a bit of research before buying and a little help from a qualified home inspector, the rewards and new memories created with your castle at the beach will last a lifetime.
Andrew J. Luca is a co-founding member of CKL Law Group, LLP and has been practicing Real Estate and Consumer Fraud law in New Jersey for nearly 20 years.