How to Gain a Homebuying Edge

Let’s face it – homebuyers constantly compete with one another, especially if a new home is added to the real estate market that fulfills the requests of a large assortment of homebuyers in a particular area.

Thus, you’ll want to do whatever you can to gain a competitive advantage over other homebuyers, as this competitive edge will enable you to discover the right home quickly and efficiently.

So what does it take to obtain a competitive advantage over your homebuying rivals? Here are three tips to help you gain a competitive edge over homebuyers in any real estate market:

1. Act Fast.

The early bird catches the worm, and the same holds true for homebuyers who want to find the best homes in a competitive real estate segment.

Homebuyers who act quickly are more likely to find great homes as soon as new residences hit the real estate market. Also, these homebuyers will be in an ideal position, one that enables them to check out a recently listed home quickly and make an offer without delay if a residence meets their needs.

Study the real estate market carefully, and you’ll be better equipped to make a move on a recently listed house faster than other homebuyers.

Also, be sure to get pre-approved for a mortgage, as this will enable you to submit an offer without having to worry about committing extensive time and resources to get approved for a mortgage down the line.

2. Offer More Than the Asking Price.

What can you do to ensure your offer stands out to a home seller? Offer more than the asking price for a residence, and you can improve your chances of securing your dream home.

In the event that a home seller receives multiple offers for his or her residence, offering more than the initial asking price will help your offer stand out from others.

Therefore, you’ll be able to reduce the risk that you could miss out on your ideal house if you submit an offer that exceeds a home seller’s asking price.

3. Work with an Experienced Real Estate Agent.

When it comes to finding your dream home, why should you be forced to leave anything to chance? Instead, hire an experienced real estate agent, and you’ll be able to enjoy a long-lasting competitive edge over other homebuyers.

Typically, a real estate agent will possess extensive industry know-how and experience, ensuring that he or she can help you find your perfect residence immediately. This professional also will be ready to respond to any concerns or queries and ensure you are fully supported during every step of the homebuying process.

From determining your ideal budget for a new home to setting up home showings, a real estate agent can make it easier for you to check out many wonderful residences in cities and towns nationwide. As a result, hiring a real estate agent could mean the difference between settling for an average house and discovering your dream residence in any real estate market.

Gain the competitive edge you need in any real estate market, and you should be able to make an offer on your dream home instantly.

3 Lessons for First-Time Homebuyers

Are you ready to buy your first home? Although you may conduct plenty of research, know your budget and understand what you want to find in your first residence. Problems may arise along the way that could force you to rethink your homebuying plans.

So what does it take to ensure your first home purchase will be a successful one? Here are three lessons that every first-time homebuyer needs to know:

1. Purchase a home only when you’re comfortable with your decision.

Let’s face it – buying a home can be stressful, regardless of whether you’re a first-time homebuyer or have purchased multiple residences in the past. As a result, stress can be problematic, and it ultimately may lead you to buy a home before you’re ready to do so.

In a stressful homebuying situation, be sure to take a step back and explore all of the options at your disposal. By doing so, you can minimize the risk of committing to buy a home in the heat of the moment.

When in doubt, don’t be afraid to consult with family members, friends and, of course, your real estate agent. A strong support system can make a world of difference for a first-time homebuyer, and it might even help you eliminate stress throughout the homebuying process.

2. Put aside money for home improvements.

Budgeting for a home can be tricky. Ideally, you’ll want to be able to put at least a few thousand dollars down on your purchase. You’ll also want to ensure that you’re in great shape financially to handle your mortgage payments.

At the same time, you should try to put money aside for potential home improvements.

Although you’ve conducted an extensive home inspection, there are no guarantees that your home will maintain its quality for an extended period of time. As such, having a “rainy day fund” will ensure you’re ready to handle numerous home improvement projects down the line.

Adding money to your rainy day fund each month can deliver long-lasting benefits. This will allow you to be ready for any home improvement issues that may arise, along with avoiding the anxiety commonly associated with finding the finances to afford home repairs.

3. Understand the ups and downs of the real estate market.

What you pay for your home today may not be what it’s worth tomorrow. In fact, the real estate market fluctuates frequently, so you’ll want to understand that your house’s value will change in the years following your purchase.

In many cases, the value of your home will rise over the years. But in some situations, it may fall.

Remember, buying a home is a major decision and is not without risk. Even though you might expect your home’s value to skyrocket, you’ll still need to take care of your house.

Maintaining your residence will boost your chances of increasing its value, regardless of the real estate market. However, you need to be aware that a buyer’s market can change into a seller’s one at a moment’s notice, so there is always a chance that your house’s value will go up and down periodically.

Be a prepared homebuyer, and you can minimize problems as you explore the real estate market for your first residence. Thus, you’ll be better equipped to find a house that fulfills your needs and will serve you well for years to come.

Is It Time to Buy a Second Home?

If you have been dreaming of owning a vacation home now may be the time to buy. Home prices and mortgage rates continue to fall and there are some great deals for buyers looking for a second home.

Here are five things you need to know before taking the leap.

1. Prices are at all-time lows
In many second-home hot spots, prices are still close to their five-year lows. When the real-estate bubble burst, some of the hardest-hit markets were vacation destinations. Many vacation home areas experienced overgrowth and may now be suffering from foreclosures.

2. Think ROI
Consider the possible return on your investment. Whether or not you decide to rent the home out, you will want to consider buying a place that has good rent potential. That’s because a home’s rent ability can affect its resale value. Before you bid on a house, make sure the homeowners association or township allows short-term rentals.

3. Don’t count on rental income
If you are planning on counting on rental income to cover the costs beware. According to HomeAway.com, a typical second home property rents out just 17 weeks a year. Make sure to account for the weeks the home won’t rent. Plus, you’ll need to pay for cleaning, maintenance, insurance, and maybe management fees. Make sure to plan on the maintenance costs of the property being at least 15% of the income.

4. Your mortgage rate depends on how you use the home
How you use the home depends on the mortgage rate you will receive. If you plan to use the property primarily as a second home and you’ll pay about the same mortgage rate as you would on a primary residence. If your plans are to use the home for rental income and need that income to qualify for the loan, you’ll need to have as much as 25% for the down payment and pay up to one percentage point more in interest.

5. Take advantage of tax benefits
Talk to your tax guy before you buy. If you rent the home out for two weeks or less you won’t have to report a cent of income to the IRS. The good news here, you can still deduct property taxes and mortgage interest. On the flipside, if you stay there for less than two weeks or 10% of rental days, you can deduct operating costs in addition to interest and property tax.

But where should you buy? According to CNBC here are the top places to buy a second home. If you are thinking about buying a second home I can help you find a professional agent in that area.

First Time Buyer Home Loan Tips


Buying your first home can be confusing. Securing a mortgage is one of the most important parts of the home buying process. Making sure that you have the right loan and have chosen the right loan officer are among the things a first time buyer has to do to start the process. Here are some more tips on how to ensure a successful purchase:

1. Make sure your deposit is in order. Talk to your loan officer about what amount of a deposit is required for the purchase and type of loan. You will also want to make sure the funds are accounted for and readily available. You can expect deposits to run anywhere between 3 and 20 percent of the purchase price.

2. Plan to have a cash reserve in addition to your deposit. You may want to have a reserve of at least two months mortgage payments.

3. Ask your lender to go over all the fees that apply to the purchase. It is better to be prepared and know how much the actual purchase will cost. These costs are typically added into your loan but there may be some out of pocket expenses too.

4. Consider how much you can comfortably afford not how much you have been approved for. These numbers may vary considerably. Your mortgage costs should not be more than 30% of your household income.

5. The lowest rate is not always the best deal. You will want to look at not only the rate but also the terms and fees associated with the loan.

 

 

 

Buyer Beware; Don’t Buy on Emotion

There is a saying often used in the real estate industry to refer to buyers, it says buyers are liars. That is in fact not case. The perception comes from the fact that buyers often buy on emotion rather than their needs. Buying on emotions often leaves buyers passing over a potential good deal or fit and instead overpaying for their dream home.

Here are some common buyer errors and how to avoid making them.

1: Not using the right agent

Choose an agent that works in the local market and never go it alone. An agent has the skills to negotiate the best deal for one of the biggest purchases of your life. A local agent has the lay of land and knows the area well and will be able to find you the right fit.

2: There usually isn’t a better deal

When buyers keep waiting for a better deal they often miss out. When you find a house that fits your needs go for it. Don’t wait because there is no guarantee that a better deal will come on the market.

3: Overpaying for cosmetics

Look at the structure and the function of the home. Paint colors or décor don’t matter in how much the house is ultimately worth. Often buyers will pay for cosmetics and staging in a home and ignore a better deal that isn’t perfectly decorated or match their taste.

4: Not negotiating realistically

Who doesn’t want to get the lowest possible price when buying a home? Buyers need to understand there is a big difference between negotiating and lowballing. If a buyer truly wants a chance at a sale it is best to make a fair offer. Lowball offers often immediately get rejected or cause the seller to become agitated which often ends negotiations. Buyers must understand a lowball offer comes with a risk of losing the property.

Getting Your Home Inspected

Before you sign the papers to purchase your home, you will want to get one important thing done: a home inspection. This essential task will not only give you insight into the potential problems a home has, it was also give you the ability to renegotiate based on what is found. Knowing what to expect is the first step.

A home inspection should include the condition of the roof, attic, walls, ceilings floors, windows and doors, the heating and cooling system, plumbing and electrical systems, the foundation and basement. All these areas of inspection as done only if accessible. For example: if the roof is covered with snow, an inspector will look at what they can, but the snow may obstruct the view.

The cost of an inspection can vary depending on your location. Getting a variety of prices from different licensed inspectors can help you find the best deal in the area. While the cost may make you want to skip out on an inspection (with all the money you are spending to by the house, one more cost can feel enormous), not getting one can really hurt your wallet later on. Major structural issues, leaks, and toxins can cost big bucks to fix.

A multi page detailed report will be created based on the inspection, including recommendations. This should be reviewed carefully to estimate the amount of work that will be involved in maintaining and/or fixing the house. While that roof the report mentioned isn’t leaking today, if the inspector mentioned that it may need to be replaced soon, figure it will. Then of course, there are more immediate areas that may need attention, that you will have to plan on addressing right away.

Finally, if there are major issues with the house, you can negotiate this into your offer. All offers should be made contingent on the inspection, so that once the inspection is done, the offer can change. So if that roof is already starting to leak, you can bring down the offer price to be able to put money towards a new roof right away.

No matter if you are buying a year old home, or one from 1950, a home inspection is a must when making an offer. Skipping the inspection will only increase the risk of damage to your finances down the road. Better safe than sorry!

Should I Rent or Buy? 3 Questions to Ask Yourself

113house

The number one question I get asked is, “should I rent or should I buy?”

The number one response I offer…it depends.

It depends on 3 things.  Are you responsible enough to maintain a home or a condo? Do you have the financial resources?  Have you weighed the benefits and drawbacks?

1.  Are you responsible enough to maintain a home or a condo?  There are plenty of people who should lease cars because they just do not take care of them well enough to own them.  You know who you are.  the rest of you know the people I refer to here- the ones with the year’s worth of Dunkin cups on the passenger seat and the pile of mail from last March on the floor!  They never clean their cars and cannot possibly be expected to keep a house or a condo in working order.  It’s a miracle they remember to gas up before a long trip!  These same people are probably better off renting so when something breaks they can call the owner or property manager to fix it.

2.  Do you have the financial resources?  I am not referring to just a down payment or a few months of reserve cash.  If you are seriously considering purchasing a home then ask yourself if you have the ability and financial discipline to live within your means and save enough money for the occasions when things break, fail or self-destruct.  Hot water tanks inevitably die the day you move in.  Air conditioning units fail the first day the weather breaks 80 degrees.  The heat will not turn on the day it is 22 below zero and you are home with the flu.  Folks, I am not joking.  This could happen to you!

3.  Have you weighed the benefits and drawbacks?  Make a list, check it twice and when you finish check it a third time.  You can type it, dictate it or write it on a bar napkin, just be sure to keep a list of the reasons why you would benefit from owning a home vs. renting.   When you own a home you can paint it any color you want!  When you own you are building your wealth.  Donald Trump had to start someplace!

 

 

5 Easy spruce up ideas: more than a spit and shine

Do It Yourself

A few weeks ago I enjoyed visiting some dear friends who recently purchased their first home. As we were talking about DIY projects I realized that I was full of tidbits of information on where to find all sorts of stuff! A trip to Home Depot or Lowe’s can provide you with the basics, but if you really want to tackle a long-postponed project this weekend, here are a few pointers and resources.

1.  Paint Matching

If you are trying to match a paint color, be sure to visit the most comprehensive site I have seen yet! (If you have others, please share them!) http://www.colorcharts.org/cc/

2.  Wall Decals

Want to add some splash to a room?  Check out these fun ideas at www.dalidecals.com

3.  Replace Hardware and Knobs

Another easy way to change the look of a room is by changing the hardware or knobs on cabinets or dressers.  There are so many choices available, but my favorite place to shop is http://www.myknobs.com/

4.  New Faucets

Changing a faucet is not as hard as I thought!
So long as you have the right tools the folks at Faucet Depot make it easy!

http://www.faucetdepot.com/faucetdepot/main.asp

5.  New Lighting Fixtures

Maybe not a DIY project for everyone, but changing an existing light fixture can be done fairly simply- be sure to check for the safest way to tackle this one as to not cause injury or incident!  Get inspired by checking out: http://www.lampsplus.com I often find a good selection at Home Goods and Target.

Hope you and yours enjoy a long & productive holiday weekend!

 

5 Cheapest Places to Live

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I just caught this informative article on Yahoo news and thought it was worth sharing with you. Having lived in many states, I can appreciate what MA has to offer (in addition to high taxes and high cost of living).  Personally, I would not trade the amenities, culture, diversity or opportunities for anything. Having access to great music, theater, hiking, biking, beaches, mountains, golf and educational institutions is worth a premium.  But I can see why others find a simpler life, and less expensive one worth pursuing.

5 Cheapest Places to Live

Andrea N. Browne of Kiplinger.com

September 21, 2011
Don’t mess with Texas when it comes to affordability. Major metropolitan areas in the Lone Star State reign supreme on Kiplinger’s annual ranking of the least expensive places to live in the U.S. Indeed, all of our picks are cities located either in Texas or the heartland of middle America.

The cities on our least-expensive list all have housing prices well under $250,000; homes in one city average less than $200,000. Overall cost of living in these metro areas falls 15% to 20% below the national average.

We ranked the least expensive places to live using data from the U.S. Census (metropolitan statistical areas only) and the ACCRA Cost of Living Index, which is assembled by the Council for Community and Economic Research. The index measures relative prices in several categories, including consumer goods, housing, transportation, utilities and health care, to come up with a composite score for each city. The national average is 100. So a score below 100 indicates a lower cost of living.

Here are the five cheapest places to live in the U.S.

5. Sherman, Tex.
Cost of Living Index: 86
Metro Population: 117,913
Median Household Income: $45,171
Average Home Price: $213,485

Located 60 miles north of Dallas, the Sherman metropolitan area includes Denison and Pottsboro. The population is the lowest of any of the city metro areas that comprise our least-expensive list. Families make up about 70% of the population. Health care is one of the leading industries, providing one of the highest median incomes in our least-expensive rankings. The extra money can go a long way, considering the relatively affordable costs of food and utilities. Monthly apartment rents run just $595, on average.

4. Fort Smith, Ark.
Cost of Living Index: 85
Metro Population: 288,468
Median Household Income: $37,363
Average Home Price: $235,168

Nestled in a bend of the Arkansas River and bordering Oklahoma, the Fort Smith metro area includes Van Buren and Ozark. Low prices for groceries and utilities make it a budget-friendly place, as does a meager average rent of just $456 per month. Owning a home runs a bit higher than some other cities on our least-expensive list, but the average cost of a house is still $320,000 less than in San Diego, the tenth-ranked city on our most-expensive list.

3. Ft. Hood, Tex.
Cost of Living Index: 84.8
Metro Population: 368,682
Median Household Income: $46,183
Average Home Price: $210,383

The Fort Hood metropolitan area, which includes Killeen and Temple, is about 60 miles north of Austin, the capital of Texas. The local economy is anchored in part by a major U.S. Army base. The high concentration of soldiers and military families may help explain why close to 15% of the population is 25- to 34-year-olds. Rent averages $596, and home prices are among the five least expensive in our ranking.

2. Pueblo, Colo.
Cost of Living Index: 84.1
Metro Population: 153,814
Median Household Income: $40,805
Average Home Price: $194,302

Located about 100 miles south of Denver, Pueblo has an enviable combination of decent paychecks and super-low housing costs. Median household income ranks in the top five among the cities on our least-expensive list, yet the average home price is the lowest here. Grocery prices are higher relative to a place like Brownsville, where a T-bone steak, for example, will run you about $8.49. The same cut of beef costs about a buck more in Pueblo. The metropolitan area includes Boone, Avondale and Stone City.

1. Brownsville, Tex.
Cost of Living Index: 80
Metro Population: 383,171
Median Household Income: $30,034
Average Home Price: $209,177

This metro area, which includes Harlingen and San Benito, is at the southwestern tip of the Lone Star State, hard against the Mexican border. The Gulf of Mexico and the popular beaches of South Padre Island are just a stone’s throw away. Rents in Brownsville average $659, more than four times cheaper than New York, the most expensive city in our annual rankings, where rents average $2,778. Utilities can be pricey, but costs for groceries and other consumer goods are exceptionally low. An affordable South Texas alternative to Brownsville is the McAllen metro area, just an hour’s drive away along the Rio Grande.

http://realestate.yahoo.com/promo/5-cheapest-places-to-live-in-america.html

Like wings? 5 reasons why you’ve got to try The Bone!

Wings at The Bone

When I first learned that a favorite local bar & restaurant was being filmed as part of a SPIKE TV series I was elated! I have been a long time fan of the Chicken Bone Saloon (now known as THE BONE). Having gone to school in upstate NY, wings are a common thread of any party, occasion, game or event. Great wings are hard to come by in New England.

The original establishment had not been updated or altered in decades and was desperately in need of a face lift. While the host of the show, Jon Taffer, was critical and harsh at times, he was able to persuade the owner that change was vital to his success.

The fresh approach and new menu has been well received. I especially liked the plastic serving tray that held the wings in compartments. There was an opening in the center for the bones so when your meal is complete you are not left staring at the carnage of your meal. It’s ingenious!

5 reasons why you should visit The Bone:

1. The flavor of the secret sauce is intense and left me licking my fingers
2. There was ample carrot and celery sticks and individual containers of blue cheese dip so I did not have to share
3. The homemade mac-and-cheese was decadent enough for an adult, even if it was on the kids menu
4. The music selection was awesome!
5. The prices are moderate for the area and the menu truly has something for everyone

One flaw- do not expect great service. I practically had to tackle my server to bring me a check. But it was truly worth it!

Stop by for a quick lunch or a hearty dinner. Framingham is lucky to have The Bone!

http://www.thechickenbone.com