Matt and Sonya's Blog
Whether you're looking for your first house or getting ready to relocate for the fifth time, house hunting can wear you down after a while!
Not only can it be difficult to coordinate real estate appointments with work obligations and the demands of parenthood, but your stress level is compounded if you're on any kind of time table or deadline.
The secret to survival is to maintain a positive attitude, do your best to remain solution oriented, and work with a proactive real estate agent. A seasoned real estate agent who is familiar with the local market and is skilled at matching client needs to available housing inventory in the area can be your most valuable resource.
Know What You Want
One of the primary ways you can help your agent find your ideal home is to give a lot of thought to exactly what you want. When you're clear in your own mind about what would satisfy you, in terms of location, architectural style, and property size, then it will be a lot easier to refine your search and stay on target. Not only will that help your real estate agent match your specifications to available listings, but it will also help you recognize your ideal house when you see it.
A good starting point is to have a checklist of priorities, essential property features, and preferences that are important to you, your spouse, and your children. Deciding on must-have features as early in the process as possible can provide you with needed focus and momentum as you compare houses and view real estate listings. Although nothing is "carved in stone" and you can always revise your priority list, it can be a valuable tool for both you and your agent.
While everyone has different needs and wish lists, items to give some thought to may include a finished basement, a working fireplace, a two-car garage, a patio or deck, a screened in porch, a spacious back yard, a storage shed, outdoor security lighting, a sufficient number of bedrooms and bathrooms to accommodate your immediate family and overnight guests, an abundance of storage space, short commutes to work, and proximity to shopping, essential services, and a well-rated school district.
Some couples have specific architectural styles in mind when they go house hunting, such as Colonial, Contemporary, Craftsman, Tudor, Victorian, and Art Deco. It's also helpful to have a clear idea, and hopefully be in agreement with your partner, about how much decorating, renovating, and fixing up you're willing, ready, and able to do. Knowing how much privacy you must have, the peace and quiet you expect, and the recreational facilities you want access to are other key elements of "the big picture."
Although the biggest hurdle may be staying motivated and optimistic in the face of temporary setbacks and discouragements, when you have a clear idea of what you want and an attitude of positive expectation, you'll be surprised at what you can accomplish!
Obtaining a mortgage can be overwhelming, particularly for a first-time homebuyer. Lucky for you, we're here to help you streamline the process of analyzing various mortgage options and choosing one that matches or exceeds your expectations.
Now, let's take a look at three tips to help first-time homebuyers secure the ideal mortgage.
1. Assess All of the Mortgage Options at Your Disposal
Both fixed- and adjustable-rate mortgages are available, and homebuyers who understand the pros and cons of these mortgage options may be better equipped than others to make the right mortgage decision.
A fixed-rate mortgage ensures a homebuyer will pay the same amount each month. For example, a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage enables a homebuyer to budget for monthly home payments over the course of three decades. And in many instances, a homebuyer may be able to pay off a fixed-rate mortgage early without penalty.
On the other hand, an adjustable-rate mortgage may start out with a lower monthly payment that escalates over the course of a few years. An adjustable-rate mortgage, for instance, may allow a homebuyer to acquire a home that surpasses his or her initial budget thanks to a lower initial monthly payment. However, after the first few years, the monthly mortgage payment may increase, and a homebuyer will need to plan accordingly.
Assess your mortgage options closely – you'll be glad you did. By doing so, you can boost your chances of selecting a mortgage that works well based on your current and future financial needs.
2. Evaluate Your Credit Score
Believe it or not, a first-time homebuyer's credit score may impact his or her ability to get the right mortgage. Fortunately, a first-time homebuyer can analyze his or her credit score without delay.
You can request a free copy of your credit report annually from each of the three credit reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion). Then, with your credit report in hand, you can better understand how potential lenders may view your mortgage application.
Of course, if you receive a copy of your credit report and find glaring errors, be sure to let the credit bureau know immediately. This will enable you to get any mistakes corrected and ensure these problems won't slow you down as you pursue your dream residence.
3. Consult with Potential Lenders
Although getting a mortgage may seem like an uphill climb at first, consulting with potential lenders may prove to be exceedingly valuable, especially for a first-time homebuyer.
Banks and credit unions employ friendly, knowledgeable staff who are happy to educate you about assorted mortgage options. These lenders can teach you about the ins and outs of various mortgage options at your convenience.
Lastly, if you need extra help in your search for the perfect mortgage, real estate agents may be able to offer assistance. These housing market professionals can provide honest, unbiased recommendations about lenders in your area so you can move one step closer to securing your ideal mortgage.
Ready to get a mortgage for the first time? Use these tips, and you can accelerate the process of obtaining a mortgage that suits you perfectly.
406 Diane Circle, Groveland, MA 01834
Frequently Asked Questions
Should I put my new home in a revocable trust?
Titling your home in trust is a great way to designate a beneficiary without having to co-own the property. This means a home can be inherited by chosen heirs without having to rely on probate. If you’re not using a mortgage, having a trust created ahead of time can save you the expense of having to re-deed the property later.
Is there a benefit to downsizing in NH vs MA?
New Hampshire does not have a state estate tax which is advantageous compared to Massachusetts. In Massachusetts, an estate exceeding $1,000,000 is fully taxed up to 16% if inherited by someone other than a spouse. Another notable difference is Massachusetts' elder care programs, which aim to keep seniors home and independent for as long as possible. New Hampshire offers limited services of this nature.
Do I have to pay tax on the sale of my house?
You may be concerned about paying a capital gains tax, so it’simportant to first calculate your basis. Your basis is the original purchase price + capital improvements to the property throughoutthe years (but not maintenance). You’ll also receive a gains exclusion on a primary residence, $250,000 for individuals and $500,000 married. Additional rules apply, particularly if you’ve received the property as a gift or inheritance. If the net proceeds exceed the basis + exclusion, then you likely owe taxes.
Can I afford to downsize?
It sounds strange, but sometimes downsizing means upsizing your budget. Retirees are often looking for convenience, amenities, andstellar location. These factors can play a much bigger role in pricing than square footage. It may also mean an increase in spending for travel, entertainment, and services. Running a financial projection ahead of time to see the impact of your move can help you better prepare, prioritize goals, and narrow down options.
Why would someone do a home inspection ontheir home before they list it for sale?
I'm sure you are thinking that buyers hire home inspectors, notsellers. That is usually true but there are some benefits to having a Pre-Listing Inspection. As a seller you can offer full disclosure to potential buyers which can save thousands in costly unsuspected repairs and negotiations. It will also help you set a realistic price point while working with your Realtor. There is a good chance, home inspectors look more closely at your home than you have since you purchased your home. The information will allow you to be informed, prepared and able address some of the concerns on your own timeline and with your own contractors. The goal is to have a smooth stress-free process once the for sale sign lands on your front lawn.
Do you want to move but the thought of packingstresses you out?
Professional organizers can help with packing, unpacking, sorting, decluttering, organizing, and setting up space. We can also manage an entire move. We have resources that can help as well. There are resources online at the National Association of Productivity and OrganizingProfessionals (NAPO), napo.net, that are available to anyone. Other good online resources are: apartmenttherapy.com, unclutterer.com,cleanoutyourhouse.com, and becomingminimalist.com. These are all sitesthat offer ways to declutter, downsize, and live with less!
With everything electronic, do I have to sign any paperwork? Can I trust electronic signatures?
Real Estate is constantly evolving. We are in a time where contracts can be signed electronically and they are legally binding. The Registry of Deeds even allows deeds and other important documents to be electronically uploaded (and they’re available on masslandrecords.com). You are not required to sign anything electronically. Your team(REALTOR®, lawyer and lender [if applicable]), will cater to your needs and comfort level. The Offer to Purchase and Purchase and Sale Agreementcan all be signed electronically but can also be signed in person (wet signature) if that’s what you want. Certain documents like the Deed actually require a wet signature in front of a notary. Most banks offer this at no charge but your lawyer is likely also a notary and can offer this service at the time you sign certain documents.
How should I go about tackling the clutter in my home before a home sale?
First, donate or throw out anything that you no longer need or want. Be ruthless! Second, sort everything into categories (e.g., photos, clothing, office stuff, dishes, etc.), then pack up the items in each category that you will not need while your home is being photographed and during the showings. Label all bins and boxes carefully and with a Sharpie or some other marker that will not rub off or fade. Third, take a look around your home. Does it look too personal? Are there still too many family photos out? Are the closets and drawers over-stuffed? Does it still look too much like you? When selling a home, you want to depersonalize the space. The potential owners need to be able to visualize themselves in the space, so it's important to set up the space with very little personal stuff. Definitely work with a professional organizer and stager if you think you'll need help with this. Lastly, Do not hesitate to reach out for some resources that can help with downsizing and decluttering certain items.
Thank you to my Experts for information! If any of these questions has sparked new questions, Do not hesitate to reach out and I will connect you with the right people! Matt and Sonya- The Quinlan Realty Team
Cheryl Russo- Organizing by Cheryl
Craig Popp- Mt Vernon Home Inspection Associates
Quentara Costa- Powwow LLC Financial Advisor
Kathy Peacock- KP Design, Stager
Brian Mahoney- Guaranteed Rate Mortgages
Steve and Lori Morad- Mr Handyman of Southern Essex County
Stephen Kenny- Russell and Associates
Moving into a new home is an exciting time. As you look at each potential house you imagine yourself living your life there. Eating pancakes at the breakfast bar with your spouse, watching you children run around the large backyard, turning a spare bedroom into your own personal space. The expenses that come with a move, however, aren’t quite as exciting. If you’ve stretched your dollar a little further than you would have liked but still want to turn your house into a home try these renovations that can fit any budget.
In the kitchen
Pick up some peel and stick vinyl from your home improvement store to add a new backsplash to your kitchen walls without the fuss of tiling. Upgrade your kitchen faucet to something sleek and modern or to a different finish that suits your taste. Install new drawer pulls to cabinets to add your own style to the room.
The Front Door
When you move you’ll have lots of people stopping by to visit and admire your new abode. Make a great first impression by updating the front of your home. Paint the front door a bright, friendly color; yellow and red are two classic options. Installing a kick plate to the bottom of your door not only protects your door from everyday wear but also gives your door a more luxe look. Placing vibrant greenery and blooms by the front door, both inside and outside, makes any home feel more welcoming.
Bring new life to old furniture.
You don’t need to rush out and buy all new furniture for your new home. Instead, alter pieces you already own. Give your worn-out sofa and arm chairs a modern update with slipcovers. Buy a colorful ottoman and some throw pillows to give your living room a whole new feel. Adding wallpaper or an accent color to the back of a bookcase gives the piece some flair for little effort. Artfully arrange books and knick knacks without overcrowding to bring a designer’s touch to the room.
Tiny Changes, Big Impact
Sometimes it’s the small things that make the biggest difference when updating a home. Swap out old, basic switch and outlet plates for ones with more style. With options spanning the ornate to imitation stone, you’re guaranteed to find a style that suits your decor. Add bold new house numbers in a bright color or arranged in a unique way. The more creative you get, the bigger an impact you’ll make. Install new light bulbs designed to bring a bright but friendly warm light to make each room feel more inviting.
Even if your budget is tighter than you would like there are still small home improvements you can make your new house feel a lot more like your home. Sometimes all it takes is a dose of your favorite color or the simple act of putting your own personal stamp on the place.