Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

All They Wanted for Christmas Was a House

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

All They Wanted for Christmas Was a House

Article excerpt

Holiday lists can run the gamut these days from toys to Toyotas, but for a Teaneck couple it was all about getting into a new home for Christmas.

"We wanted to be in our own place for the holidays and thought an apartment would be quicker," said Anderson Lancaster, a 49-year-old copy-machine technician.

Wife Natasha, a restaurant senior manager, glowed as she told how she really loves the holidays, especially Christmas, and how celebrating in her own home would hold a special magic for both of them.

So after living with Natasha's mom for two years in Teaneck to save up for a house, they started a search during the summer, taking the fastest route to fulfill their holiday dream -- an apartment. They needed it to be in the Teaneck area, so their son could stay on as a Teaneck High School student.

They were quickly struck by the space limitations -- especially on closets -- they would have to endure.

More important, they didn't like the idea that as tenants they would not build equity. And given the high cost of monthly rents, they asked themselves: Why not a mortgage payment?

They switched gears and began house hunting, with JoAnn Vossler of Weichert Realtors in Closter as their guide.

Vossler said that it's not unusual for prospective renters to detour into home buying. "The decrease in the [mortgage] interest rates and the rise in rental demands offer a stronger option for renters to now consider making a home purchase," she said.

With home buying now their mission, the Lancasters had to find out just how much home they could afford.

"Meeting with a mortgage lender is the most important step a renter can take to see if they are qualified to purchase a home," Vossler said.

"Before we even began the house-hunting process, I had them meet with a lender, and we realized that they were only able to afford half the price of the multifamily home they were looking at. …

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