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November
22

You did it—you worked hard and you're finally ready to apply for a home loan. The dream of homeownership is within your reach. While it's exciting to start planning the next chapter of your life, some actions could give the underwriter the impression that you may be too risky for loan approval.

To avoid jeopardizing your loan status, here are six things you should never do after applying for a home loan.  

Don't apply for new credit

Your credit can be pulled at any time throughout the application process, and any major change could affect your FICO® score. Inadvertently lowering your score and/or changing your debt-to-income ratio could hurt your chances of getting the loan that you want.  

Don't miss any payments

Keep paying your bills on time—especially other credit and loan payments. Payment history is a huge factor in your credit score, and late payments can do a lot of damage. Keeping up with your payments is good advice at any time, but it's especially important when you're waiting on loan approval.  

Don't make major purchases

It might be tempting to run out and start shopping for new furniture—but if you're waiting on loan approval, put that wallet away. Charging substantial purchases will increase your debt-to-income ratio and credit utilization. Any major purchase, even unrelated to your home (like a car), can impact your credit score and affect your loan status.   

Don't make large unexplained bank deposits

Part of the loan officer's job is to source your money, so if you make a big deposit (typically over $1,000) that isn't your usual paycheck, it's going to send up a red flag. We aren't saying you need to stash that money under your mattress until your loan is approved, but always talk to your loan officer about how to properly document your transactions.

Don't change jobs

We realize that this one might be out of your hands in some cases, but if you can help it, don't switch careers (or employers) while you're waiting for loan approval. Lenders are looking for consistent income, so changing jobs in the middle of the loan process could result in revisions to the amount you're approved to borrow. 

Don't close out any credit accounts

This might feel counterintuitive—wouldn't having LESS debt be better? Not in this case. Closing accounts will set off a chain reaction that reduces your available credit and raises your debt-to-income ratio. It can also affect your credit score by changing the landscape of your credit history. Both of these things can put your loan approval at risk.

The Bottom Line

ANY change in credit, income, and assets should be handled in a way that won't jeopardize your home loan approval. The best thing that you can do is be transparent and discuss any significant financial changes with your loan officer. They have the skills and knowledge to help guide you through the entire process, even if there are a few bumps along the way.

The Masiello Group is a second-generation family company that has been a trailblazer in New England real estate since 1966. With now more than 35 offices throughout northern New England, we're the largest residential real estate firm north of Boston to offer a complete suite of home services, including buying, selling, mortgage, title, insurance, relocation, and more. 

Our agents are eager and excited to meet your real estate needs! 

You can find more information on today's market and other real estate trends by reading our blog weekly at https://www.masiello.com/news-and-updates/

  

November
21

They say the best investments you'll ever make are in yourself and in your future – and what better way to do so than by investing in real estate?

As Franklin D. Roosevelt once said, "Real estate cannot be lost or stolen, nor can it be carried away. Purchased with common sense, paid for in full, and managed with reasonable care, it is about the safest investment in the world."

We took a deeper look at why someone might want to invest and nailed down five big reasons. With benefits like these, the opportunity is hard to ignore. 

#1. You will see a steady cash flow. 

Did someone say extra income? We sure did. People choose to invest in real estate for the same reason they start any other side hustle – to generate cash flow. Whether you purchase a residential home or commercial property, you can rent it out to tenants or businesses on a monthly basis. Monthly checks will start to roll in and can be used to pay down your mortgage. After that's all squared away, you'll start racking in extra income month by month. If you can stay patient while this happens, the reward is so worthwhile! 

#2. There are tons of tax benefits. 

By purchasing real estate and renting it out, you can become a landlord…which makes you a business owner! What's so great about that? The tax benefits, of course! Here are just a few expenses you'll be able to write off as business expenses. 

- Mortgage interest

- Property taxes

- Maintenance costs

- Homeowners insurance

- Property management fees

- HOA dues

Don't forget to talk to your tax advisor to find out what else you might be able to write off as a real estate investor. 

#3. Real estate appreciates in value. 

Real estate appreciates naturally at an annual average of 3-5%. This means that without doing anything to your home – aside from maintaining it, of course – it will increase in value. This is unlike a car or machine, where your investment depreciates (loses value) over time.

This is great news for you, as an investor, for two reasons.

- Easier to rent to tenants

- Easier to sell in the long run with earned profit

But, you don't have to let it appreciate on its own. You can also force a property to appreciate by adding value yourself. 

This can be done through big and small renovations like these…

- Replacing the garage door

- Finishing the basement

- Updating light fixtures

- Minor room remodels

- Adding curb appeal 

What you put in is what you'll get out. The choice is yours! 

#4. Investing in real estate can help diversify your portfolio. 

A successful investor is one with a diverse portfolio. So, let's talk about why this is beneficial and how you can accomplish this through real estate.

Starting with why this is beneficial, it's really pretty simple. A diverse portfolio is going to do two key things for you. It's going to reduce risk and improve long-term returns. 

Investors can choose to put their dollars in numerous assets like stocks, bonds, cash, collectibles, real estate, and more. This culmination is what qualifies as an investor's portfolio. 

When you spread your investment dollars across multiple assets – real estate, for example – you can balance risky investments with less risky ones. Think of it like the old "don't put your eggs in one basket" mentality.

Here's what Mark Henricks from Yahoo had to say about this investment in particular. 

"Real estate is an especially effective asset for diversification because it is not tightly correlated to the securities markets. When stocks and bonds are down, that is, real estate may be up and vice versa. In this way, diversification helps investors minimize losses due to broad market trends."

#5. There are many different ways to invest. 

One of the most appealing things about investing in real estate is that there is no single, dead-set, one way to do it. You have numerous options and the ability to decide what will work best for you. 

Here are just a few ideas…

- Multifamily homes

- Commercial properties

- Vacation homes

- Land

- Duplexes (house hacking)

- Home flipping

- Investment groups/trusts

As you can see, there is a great deal of opportunity in the investment space if you are willing to put in the work. We hope that after reading this blog, you have a better understanding of why people invest and what that could look like for you.

The Masiello Group is a second-generation family company that has been a trailblazer in New England real estate since 1966. With now more than 35 offices throughout northern New England, we're the largest residential real estate firm north of Boston to offer a complete suite of home services, including buying, selling, mortgage, title, insurance, relocation, and more. 

Our agents are eager and excited to meet your real estate needs! 

You can find more information on today's market and other real estate trends by reading our blog weekly at https://www.masiello.com/news-and-updates/.

November
21

National Parks in Maine

Maine is a wild place. Some of the most rugged and remote landscapes on the East Coast can be found within Maine's boundaries, and there are few better places for people with a love of the outdoors to call home. 

The four national parks in Maine are a testament to that. They're amazing destinations for camping, hiking, fishing, cross-country skiing, and a host of other outdoorsy pursuits. Our real estate agents never tire of these wild, amazing places, and today we're thrilled to offer this guide to Maine's national parks. 

Acadia National Park

Spanning more than 48,000 acres, Acadia National Park is the crown jewel of the Northern Atlantic Coast. The park encompasses rugged cliffs and coastlines on the Schoodic Peninsula and a scattering of smaller coastal islands, but the bulk of it lies on the massive Mount Desert Island. Here you'll find a wild landscape that is ripe for exploration in all seasons, with 158 miles of trails, 27 miles of historic motor roads, and 45 miles of carriage roads.

Several campgrounds are available (sites are by reservation only), and the historic Bass Harbor Head Light Station is one of the park's main attractions. Other things to do in Acadia National Park include: 

Click Here to Read More...

November
14

Lake House

With winter almost upon us, it's time to start thinking about winterizing your property. If you have a lake house or a vacation house, don't overlook it. It's even more important to pay attention to winterizing if you're not going to be using the house over the winter. Here are a few tips from our real estate agents for getting your lake house ready for cold weather.

  1. Clean Your Gutters
    The exterior of the house is what gets hit with winter weather the most, and your gutters are more crucial than you may realize. Clogged gutters will prevent water from draining properly off your roof. Roof shingles and siding are designed to keep water flowing away from your house, but if your gutters are clogged with debris, water can get in underneath the shingles and siding and cause damage. Cleaning your gutters of fallen leaves and other debris before you leave the lake house for the last time this fall can prevent any damage from happening in your absence over the winter.

  2. Check the Roof for Damage
    While you're up there to clean the gutters, be sure to give the roof a once-over. Look for damaged or missing shingles. Also, keep an eye on the trim and siding for signs of leaks that have already started. Any soft or rotten wood should be replaced now before winter kicks in.

  3. Disable Your Sprinkler System
    If your lake house has a sprinkler system in the yard or garden, be sure to have it blown out to clear all the water from the lines before winter sets in. Leaving water in the lines can cause frozen and burst pipes, which will leak once they thaw again. The result could be disastrous and expensive, especially if the leak goes unnoticed for a while due to the house being empty.

  4. Seal Around Windows and Doors
    Whether you plan to use your lake house in the winter or not, it's a good idea to check for and eliminate drafts. Check around all your window and door frames for cracks or drafts. If you can see daylight through any gaps, the space needs to be sealed. Gaps between the door or window and the frame can be sealed with weatherstripping. If there are cracks between the wall and frame, seal those with caulking.

  5. Check Pipes and Insulation
    Before shutting the house up for the season, or even if you plan to use the lake house in the winter, be sure to make a thorough check of all your pipes. Check to make sure you have no leaks, either in visible plumbing or detected from moisture damage to the walls, ceiling, or floor. Especially if you plan to leave the house shut up for the season, the last thing you want is to come back to a flooded mess in the spring. Also, be sure to check any exterior pipes to ensure they've been insulated properly so that they won't freeze over the winter.

  6. Set the Thermostat for Winter
    If you leave the furnace running in the winter to prevent the pipes in your lake house from freezing and bursting while there is no one there, you will probably want to set the thermostat to the lowest possible temperature. No sense in using more energy than needed to heat an empty house! To keep an eye on your home's heat while you're away, consider getting a smart thermostat where you can have the temperature available on an app. This can help give your peace of mind while you are away from your lake house.

  7. Tidy Up
    Before leaving your lake house for the season, be sure to clean everything and tidy up the yard one more time. Not only will a clean house be nicer to come back to in the spring, but you may also save yourself some trouble by doing these tasks now. For instance, be sure to remove any stains from the carpet before you leave so that they don't set over the winter and become harder to clean in the spring. Also, be sure to rake up all the fallen leaves in your yard and mow the lawn one more time if needed. Leaving debris covering the grass over the winter can damage your lawn.

It's important to winterize your property properly so that it remains a relaxing retreat to return to when the weather warms up. Ready to sell your lake house, trade up, or simply looking for something new? Contact us today, and we'll help you find the perfect home away from home.

November
14

Whether you're buying or selling, whether the property is residential or commercial, all real estate transactions have one thing in common: a contract. The goal of a closing contract, or purchase contract, is to protect both the buyer and the seller by ensuring that all expectations are clear. Keep reading to find out what 7 things you don't want to forget in your closing contract.   

Basic Legal Requirements

Like any contract, real estate contracts need a few essential elements to be considered legal (e.i., enforceable in court). A lot of these elements are things that will seem obvious—the correct names and addresses of all parties and properties involved, the seller being the legal owner of the property, both parties being legally competent to enter a contract, just to name a few. However obvious as they may seem, you don't want your contract to be without them! It's worth your time to double-check these little things—trust us!

Price and Financing Terms

Something else that seems obvious but that you wouldn't want to forget is the money aspect of the agreement. That includes the agreed-upon price of the property, as well as how it will be supplied by the buyer (paid full in cash, a new or existing mortgage, any type of loan, etc.). A contract might also include earnest money requirements, which is a fee used to confirm the contract. Earnest money typically ends up going towards the down payment.    

Closing Cost Details

Any real estate contract should also address the terms of closing costs, specifically who's responsible for paying what. Closing costs are typically expenses that aren't included in the property price; for example, escrow fees, title insurance, transfer tax, notary fees, etc. Your contract should cover whether the buyer or the seller will be covering closing costs or if they will be split up between both parties. Some consider it standard practice for one party to cover costs, while in certain circumstances, splitting them may be more likely. If you're not sure where the money is coming from, don't hesitate to ask. Because it may be from you! 

What's Included in the Sale

Certain items may be displayed when a property is staged, but that doesn't necessarily mean that all of those items will be included in the sale. That means things like appliances and light fixtures but also some items that you may not have considered, like window treatments, bathroom fixtures, and heating and cooling equipment. Sellers should make sure that excluded items are carefully outlined in the contract, and buyers—if you want something specific, make sure you negotiate for it.  

Disclosure of Health Risks and Defects

Most states have strict laws requiring sellers to disclose any known defects on the property, especially if they may impact the property's safety and value. Whether or not sellers are required to actively search for defects can vary state by state, and some places may require sellers to search for certain defects but not others. A few commonly disclosed items include lead paint, termite damage, and the presence of radon gas. These things could have serious impacts on your home sweet home (or even your decision to buy it at all), so you should make an honest effort to find out all you can.

Contingencies

A contingency is a condition added to the purchase offer for a piece of property. Generally, a contingency will allow the buyer to default—or walk away from the agreement—if the conditions laid out in the contingency aren't met. While there are many different types of contingencies, some common ones include allowances for appraisal, financing, home inspection, and title report. If you aren't sure what contingencies you may need for a certain property, your real estate agent can help. Taking full advantage of these contingencies can make a big difference in your home buying experience! And offering additional contingencies may be just what it takes to sell.

Important Dates

A few dates that you want to make sure are agreed upon are an expiration date if the offer is not accepted, a closing date that marks the conveyance of the property's title from seller to buyer, and a window of time during which the buyer may withdraw while the contract is still in negotiation, as long as notice is provided. We highly recommend keeping these dates at the front of your mind so that they don't sneak up on you—even if that means sticky note reminders on every mirror, door, and window you have. The last thing you want is for a milestone to hit without you feeling confident in your decision.

Working out a closing contract can feel like a daunting task. But remember—your real estate agent is there for you! At The Masiello Group, we expect our agents to be in your corner and come armed with all the knowledge and experience you'll need to do it right. 

The Masiello Group is a second-generation family company that has been a trailblazer in New England real estate since 1966. With now more than 35 offices throughout northern New England, we're the largest residential real estate firm north of Boston to offer a complete suite of home services, including buying, selling, mortgage, title, insurance, relocation, and more. 

Our agents are eager and excited to meet your real estate needs! 

You can find more information on today's market and other real estate trends by reading our blog weekly at https://www.masiello.com/news-and-updates/.

November
7

New England Ski Season

As leaves and temperatures drop, are you beginning to feel that irresistible pull to the mountains? It's time for another incredible winter ski season, and our real estate agents share the projected opening dates for your favorite slopes around New England.

Click Here to Read More...

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