“Ask the Realtor” is a column from the RealSource Association of Realtors, serving northern New Jersey. Those in need of advice from a professional Realtor, keying “Ask the Realtor” in the subject line. Every effort will be made to answer the question in a subsequent edition.

Q: My mother-in-law, due to health concerns, has made a tough decision and realizes now that the time has come to sell her home. Are there any ways I can help her with that will make the home more attractive to potential buyers?

Steve L.


A: Good for you, Steve. The top reason why homes do not sell is that they are not priced right. I would encourage you to meet with Realtors and learn the home’s value in today’s market. While there are sites that track this data, a dedicated and seasoned full-time Realtor has the most accurate “pulse” on the local happenings in the market areas they serve. Asking a homeowner, like your mother-in-law, to leave the emotion out of the decision process is hard, but it is also extremely important when selling real estate. As far as the exterior, “curb appeal” is primary. A buyer must look at the home and think “I want to live there,” so keep the sidewalk, driveway and walkway cleared, mow the lawn and tidy up the landscape. Inside, put personal items away, clean, clean, clean and have a pleasing aroma of your choice wafting thru the air. Also, de-clutter. Most people have way too much stuff which they must get rid of or put in storage when they move. A lot more can be done and your Realtor will help you identify those options.

Q: I found a home that I like and I requested that my Realtor put in a bid to buy the home. The bid was accepted, we wrote a contract and while in attorney review, we were notified that the seller’s attorney cancelled the deal. I am furious. How can this be possible?

Stacy M.

Elmwood Park

A: Stacy, as a prospective home buyer, you are protected by the attorney review period as is the seller. What most consumers do not know, and what you ultimately found out, is that the real estate sales contract is not inalterable, i.e., it can change or be modified. Again, this is so for your protection and that of the seller. There are certain obligations a seller has to meet, and there are those that you as the buyer must meet as well. By law, the attorney review period begins after both you and the seller have signed the contract and the contract is in the hands of both parties. At any point during this three-day period, both the seller and buyer can legally back out of a deal (e.g., if the seller received a better offer). If that is the case, you should have been extended the courtesy to counter-offer, although the sellers are not legally bound to offer you that option.

Q: I am in the process of buying a home in Bergen County. The home inspector suggested I have the property checked for an underground tank. Is this necessary? The house is heated with gas.

Linda B.


A: Many homes in Bergen County have underground storage tanks, or USTs, where oil is or was stored to heat their homes. They are an issue for homeowners when they leak oil into the soil. If that happens, the homeowner would need to hire a certified UST remediator to come in and correct the leaking problem as per New Jersey law as it relates to environmental compliance. After the work is completed, the homeowner has options, two of the most common are to put in another oil tank or to convert to gas. That said, the home inspector may have detected that the home had a UST at one time and converted to gas heat. You can also check with and get something in writing from the town’s Construction Code Office which indicates they have researched all their records on the property to determine if there is any record of oil heat past or present. For more information, talk to your Realtor, home inspector,

This article provided by NewsEdge.