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September
26

Masiello Closing Tips

Closing on your home is exciting but also can be overwhelming, especially if you don't know what to expect. While we usually think of "closing" as being the day you sign all the paperwork, the closing process actually begins the minute the home goes under contract and only ends the day ownership is officially transferred. There's a lot that still has to be done during that time! Here is everything our real estate agents want you to know about closing, from beginning to end.

Click Here to Read More...

June
15

The Rental Market is on Fire. Is It Time To Buy?

The housing market has certainly been interesting in the past few years. The past year has seen limited supply and growing demand for the rental market and home sales. In fact, despite historically low-interest rates, the industry had an extraordinary booming year. 2021 showed the most significant annual gains in single-family house values and rental prices, low foreclosure rates, and the highest number of home sales in 15 years.

Rental prices kept pace with housing. Rental prices for single-family homes increased 7.8% in 2021, an all-time high according to CoreLogic. The rental market exploded as remote workers and young families fleeing the cities spurred double-digit increases in rental costs and squeezed supply.

With rental prices, home prices at all-time highs, and a tight housing supply, is it time to think about buying a home in 2022 instead of renting?

Some Housing Statistics to Think About

While the market in recent weeks has begun to cool a bit, it's still competitive. Since a home is likely one of the biggest purchases you'll make, it's essential to take some time and make an informed decision.

According to Redfin, as of June 30, 2021, the median sales price of a home in the U.S. was $386,888, a 24.8% year-over-year increase. The massive spike in demand in many markets has allowed for higher sale prices. This can often make it hard to decide whether to continue renting or purchase a home because you don't want to overpay.

Rental prices have also increased by double digits in most markets. According to Redfin, rents jumped more than 14% in December 2021, the most considerable rise in more than two years. However, in many major metropolitan markets, rents have skyrocketed. In Austin, Texas, New York City, Boston, several areas in Florida, and other cities throughout the country, rents have jumped by 35 to 40% year over year.

Add to this the fact that there is less housing available for sale or rent than in the past 30 years. With supply shortages worsening and growing inflation contributing to rising rental costs, it becomes difficult deciding whether to rent or buy.

While rental prices in the U.S. initially dropped when COVID-19 hit, prices rebounded strongly in 2021 and quickly outpaced pre-pandemic trends. As a result, rental prices have far outpaced wage increases.

The Housing Market in 2022 and Beyond

Housing market predictions are about as reliable as the five-day weather forecast. The truth is that no one can predict what will happen with 100% accuracy.

However, many industry experts predict continued strong price appreciation, scarce inventory, and high demand. Overall, the housing market is doing well and will most likely not crash in 2022. The trends and forecasts for the next 12-24 months show that the market will most likely stay strong, with many of the factors that drove prices to new highs in 2021 remaining firmly in place. Last year, homeowners saw a market where properties sold quickly and often above asking, as numerous buyers fought for limited inventory.

Last year prices increased by an unsustainable 18.8%. The market is even tighter than it was before the spring 2021 frenzy. Experts like Zillow increased their bullishness in January, predicting growth of up to 16.4% in 2022. They recently adjusted anticipated price growth to reach 22% by mid-year. However, price growth is expected to slow through February of 2023.

Fannie Mae is predicting that by mid-2023, price appreciation will return to the pre-pandemic rate of 5% annually. They also expect that mortgage rates will rise modestly, providing some relief to buyers as prices climb. Slowing price appreciation and potentially increased inventory could help avoid a crash in 2023. The main downside risk continues to be increasing inflation. As mortgage rates increase, refinancing activity will soften as rates gradually rise and the Fed works to tame inflation.

So Should Your Continue To Rent or Consider Buying a Home?

There is no single answer to this question, as there are both pros and cons to both options. However, there are a couple of factors to consider in your decision-making process. First are your finances. In a typical market renting is often the more affordable option. That being said, this is not a typical housing market. Rents have increased to the point where even as mortgage interest rates rise, buying a home might be a better option.

Ultimately, your choice depends on several considerations. One major factor is your personal finances.

In terms of lifestyle considerations, consider what is important to you. Are you seeking the flexibility to move if your career requires it, or are you looking for stability to put down roots in a place you can call your own? Here are five considerations to explore before you make a final decision on whether to rent or buy.

How Long Do You Plan to Live in the Same Place?

Are you planning on putting down roots in the community? If you're planning or have a family, are you happy with the schools? If you're sure you'll stay in the same place for at least five years, buying can make sense. It can be a good fit both personally and financially.

However, if you don't have kids or get that big promotion but it's halfway across the country, the smarter choice might be to rent. While you can buy a home and sell it in a few years if your situation changes, the costs like moving, closing costs, and repairs may not be worth it.

Look at the Cost of Renting VS Buying a Home

In the past, renting was almost always cheaper than buying a home because of the upfront costs involved, like the down payment, closing costs, moving expenses, and renovations. In today's market, rental prices have risen to the point where it may cost you more each month to rent than a mortgage payment. However, there are other ownership costs to consider, like property taxes, homeowners insurance, and HOA fees in some instances.

However, even in a traditional market, buying a home is almost always cheaper over the long term. According to the National Association of Realtors, a homeowner's mortgage payment is lower than that of a renter after six years. This assumes that the rent increases at 5% annually and the homeowner is paying a fixed monthly mortgage.

Mobility or Putting Down Roots

Things change. It can be hard to predict where life's road will take you. If you intend to stay in one place, close to family, or planning on raising a family, and you have the means, buying a home makes the most sense. Examine your current situation and whether it could change in the next few years. For example, if you're moving up in your career and an opportunity for a promotion comes up, but it is on the other side of the country, renting is probably the best choice. Think about your current lifestyle and where it will be before buying a home.

Finally, Assess Your Current Financial Situation

You need to be realistic about your financial situation when deciding between renting and buying. Once you analyze the costs involved, be honest about whether you can afford to own a home's upfront and ongoing expenses. The worst situation to be in is where you have a home but are cash poor and unable to enjoy life!

The Bottom Line On Buying A Home In Today's Market

Consider all the factors when deciding on buying a home or continuing to rent. Renting and buying both offer pros and cons. In reality, your lifestyle, future plans, and financial situation will be the primary factors to consider when making a decision. Speak with a Realtor® or your financial advisor if you need additional information or are unsure which choice is right for you.

May
25

The past several years has seen one of the hottest housing markets in recent memory. Sellers are enjoying high prices while buyers face bidding wars for limited stock. These market conditions have resulted in buyers employing several creative tactics to give them the edge in a competitive market. Many homeowners are skipping the building inspection as one tactic to make their offer stand out.

While this tactic can help a buyer stand out and be the determining factor in closing a deal, it is not without serious risk.

A standard home building inspection can increase your confidence about a home before closing a deal. Having a professional home inspection can work as a negotiating tool if issues are found during the process. It also gives a buyer cause to walk away from a deal.

Why Buyers Are Waiving A Building Inspection

With just 1.04 million homes for sale by the end of 2020, home inventory supplies in the U.S. were at the lowest level since the National Association of Realtors began collecting data in 1982.

In this climate, with multiple buyers competing, the pressure to make an offer that stands out is intense. The National Association of Home Builders Trends Report found that in the 4th quarter of 2020, buyers' most common reason for not purchasing a home was being outbid.

In a hot market, it's not unsurprising that desperate buyers are amenable to waving the building inspection. For the seller, this makes an offer look more appealing. This can often be the deciding factor that can close a deal. However, most professionals suggest that waiving the inspection is a bad idea.

When Skipping the Inspection Can Make Sense

There are few benefits to skipping an inspection, but there are scenarios where it can make sense and be beneficial.

  • If the real estate is new construction and includes a builder warranty, it might make sense to skip the building inspection.
  • If a buyer has been renting and living in the home for some time, chances are, they are familiar with the house and are aware of any problems.
  • Finally, an experienced flipper or real estate investor might feel comfortable skipping a building inspection because they plan extensive renovations.

Besides these specific scenarios, there are a few advantages to skipping the inspection process. Waiving the building inspection means less hassle for the seller and can result in increased interest in an offer; however, buyers are putting themselves at significant risk by skipping this step.

Why Skipping the Building Inspection is a Bad Idea

The building inspection is intended to provide the buyer with accurate information on a building's current condition and alert a buyer to significant problems in the home. This information is crucial for both buyers and sellers.

A thorough home inspection will examine the following:

  • Foundation
  • Basement, attic, crawlspace
  • Property drainage
  • Exterior materials
  • Interior ceilings, walls and floors, windows, and doors
  • The electrical, plumbing, and HVAC systems
  • Furnace and hot water heater
  • Attached structures like the porch, garage, etc.

Problems in any of these areas could result in costly repairs. Armed with this information, a buyer can negotiate with the seller to make certain repairs or may choose to offer a lower price or walk away from a deal to avoid costly projects.

Alternatives For Crafting A Strong Offer Without Skipping the Inspection

Buying a home is probably the most significant investment you will make in your lifetime. The building inspection process is the best way to know what you are getting yourself into. After the close, it becomes your problem. A missed problem can potentially cost you thousands of dollars in repairs.

Waiving the inspection is one way to get your offer considered. These are a few other tactics you can take to make your offer more appealing to the seller.

Have your finances in order – Get a preapproval letter from a lender. A mortgage preapproval in hand shows a seller you are serious and have the financing to close the deal.

Ask for an "informational inspection" rather than a contingency. This language lets the seller know that you will be getting the home inspected. Still, it is for informational purposes only, so the seller will not be responsible for any issues you uncover.

Make a larger down payment – More cash upfront is another way to show a seller you are serious. A larger down payment puts more money in the seller's pocket right away and signals that your financing is solid, and the deal will close.

Include an Escalation Clause – Sellers like this because it eliminates back-and-forth negotiations between buyers. For example, an escalation clause will automatically bid $1000 over any offer up to $250,000 on a property listed at $200,000.

With a careful offer in a hot market, you still might not close the deal. But remember, a home is a significant investment, and going in without a building inspection can lead to serious financial ramifications down the road.

April
4

Lake Living

For many of us, owning lakefront property is a dream. Who wouldn't want to wake up to the sounds of loons on the water, watch the sunrise through a big bay window, and sip a cup of coffee on their own private dock?

Despite being thought of as a fantasy by many, lakefront living is a lot more accessible than you might think. Our real estate agents have helped countless families find their dream homes on the banks of New Hampshire's beautiful lakes, and we're here to share some tips on how to find your perfect lake house.

What to Look for in a Waterfront Property

Waterfront properties are as varied as the bodies of water they overlook. You might prefer a cozy cabin, a spacious family home, or a modern condo. The first step to finding the right home for you is determining your needs. 

  • Amenities - Like any home, a waterfront property can be as rustic or as modern as you want it to be. Make a list of your must-have amenities, and keep in mind that while some lake houses might be right in the center of a populated area, many are in remote rural locales where internet and cell service might be spotty. 

  • Lake Activities - A lakefront home is an investment that allows you to pursue some of your favorite pastimes. If you're into fishing, kayaking, swimming, or water sports, look for a lake and property that are well-suited to your interests. 

  • Drive Time - Be sure to factor in how much time you'll have to spend in the car going to and from your new home. Whether you're commuting to work or simply making trips to the store, some lake houses are more far-flung than others. You might also need to consider distances to the nearest hospital and other services. 

  • Year-Round Habitability - Do you plan to live in your lakefront property year-round or use it more as a seasonal retreat or vacation home. Some seasonal lake houses, especially in northern New England, are referred to as "camps" because they're ideal for the warmer months but lack the insulation and amenities to be lived in during winter. 

  • Property Features - Look beyond the house itself. How close is the structure to the water, and is the landscape flat enough to build on if you so choose? What kind of lake access do you have? Is there a beach? Do you have sufficient privacy from your neighbors?

Lake Living in New Hampshire

New Hampshire is blessed with some of New England's most beautiful lakes. Some are wild and undeveloped, but most feature homes along at least part of their shorelines. These New Hampshire lakes include: 

  • Lake Winnipesaukee - New Hampshire's largest body of water, Lake Winnipesaukee spans 71 square miles at the foot of the White Mountains. The lake is dotted with islands, and its 240-mile shoreline is a meandering series of coves, points, and inlets. Although some of Lake Winnipesaukee is undeveloped, many lakefront homes are available in several towns and villages along the lakeshore, including Meredith, Wolfeboro, and Glendale. Even some of the lake's islands have houses on them! 

  • Ossipee Lake - A popular vacation lake, Ossipee Lake's shoreline includes numerous camps, cottages, and resorts. It also features several housing developments with year-round residences, and the nearby communities of Freedom and Ossipee offer classic New England charm. The lake itself spans 3,257 acres and is great for fishing and boating. Anglers frequently catch bass, pickerel, and trout. 

  • Squam Lake - Although Squam Lake is just a short drive from Lake Winnipesaukee, it feels like a world apart. It has the ambiance of a wilderness retreat and is one of New Hampshire's best destinations for kayaking and canoeing. There's great fishing in Squam Lake too. Hundreds of private residences are located around the lake, but most are hidden from view by trees, giving paddlers the impression that the shoreline is virtually untouched. Nearby communities include Sandwich and Holderness. 

  • Newfound Lake - A glacial lake spanning 4,106 acres, Newfound Lake is known for its deep, crystal-clear waters that are among some of the cleanest in New Hampshire. It also has a reputation as one of the most beautiful lakes in the state, with homes available in nearby Bristol, Bridgewater, and Hebron. The lake's water is fed by 8 natural springs, and parts of the shoreline are protected within Wellington State Park and Grey Rocks Conservation Area. 

  • Lake Sunapee - 4,155-acre lake Sunapee is a picturesque lake in Western New Hampshire and a great place for swimming, boating, and sightseeing. Homes are located along most of the shoreline in the towns of Sunapee and Newbury, but the lakeshore is also densely wooded, helping it maintain its wild character. This is also an excellent lake for residents who like to be close to civilization; the cities of Claremont and Lebanon are both just a short drive away. 

Contact us today to learn more about finding the perfect waterfront property in New Hampshire. Our real estate agents are here to help. 

October
6

Considering Aging in Place? Look for Communities that offer Amenities to Make it Easier!

Baby boomers have always been an independent, active generation. As they begin to enter retirement, many are planning on aging in place. Aging in place is a growing trend. The phrase refers to people living in their current home as they age and continuing to live there until they are no longer able.

It is basically the opposite of moving to a retirement community.

The main prerequisite for aging in place is retrofitting your home to make it more amenable and easier to live in as you age. If you are planning on staying in your home as you age, you will need to make accommodations for future issues that may arise, like arthritis, knee problems, or the need to use a walker or wheelchair to get around.

But it also helps if the community you live in offers accomodating amenities and services geared toward older residents. Some cities are better than others. Many are not as accommodating as they would like to be given the increasing numbers of boomers reaching retirement age. 

The good news is that developers are building planned communities that feature amenities accomodating to older homeowners. In addition, many cities are taking stock of what their communities have to offer senior residents. They are making adjustments to accommodate older citizens, as they begin to realize that boomers are making decisions about where to spend their post-retirement years.

Here are seven aging-in-place features to look out for in any prospective community to make your post-retirement more enjoyable.

1. Accessible, Visitable, and Affordable Housing

A feature homeowners seeking to age in place are looking for is one-floor living. The best aging in place communities have plenty of one-floor living housing options. These communities also have good local remodelers who know how to adapt existing housing stock to make it more livable for older residents. 

To attract seniors, communities are changing their zoning laws to allow for rental units or affordable housing. Some have instituted tax breaks available for residents over 65 based on income.

2. Readily Available Safe Transportation Options 

Communities that offer reliable mass transit and senior transport programs are also high on many senior's wish lists. Walkable neighborhoods that are safe for pedestrians and adequately lighted are also essential. It is also crucial that roads are as safe as possible, with clear visible signage, making it easy for older drivers to navigate. 

3. Safe Neighborhoods

Along with traditional methods for crime control, successful aging in place communities also incorporates "friendly call" programs geared toward older residents who live alone. People volunteer to call older residents every morning at a pre-arranged time.

4. Quality, Accessible Health Care

Communities that have adequate numbers of primary care physicians, specialists, and hospital facilities get high marks with older residents. A retiree-friendly community will also offer preventable health care activities at local senior centers, along with exercise programs for older residents.

5. Access to Support Services

Home and community-based caregiving support services become very important to seniors, whether it's the availability of home health care, adult daycare, or meals on wheels. For example, one such program is called the Caring Collaborative and has chapters in New York, Long Island, and San Francisco. These are essentially chapters that connect people in need with those who can help. 

6. Walkability and Access to Nearby Goods, Services, and Amenities

High marks in this category mean that a community has retail outlets, restaurants, and grocery stores offering healthy foods within walking distance. Policies that support local farms, and farmer's markets are also a big plus.

Having these types of amenities woven into a community is extremely attractive to older residents. Mixed-use downtown areas appeal to older residents and are luring some affluent retirees to give up homes in the suburbs for apartments or condos in central business districts.

7. Opportunities to Socialize

Staying social is crucial to good mental and physical health as we age. Communities that offer places of worship, libraries, museums, universities, and colleges provide outlets for residents to stay social. But they need to be easily accessible as well. 

Opportunities to volunteer as we age are also important. As you get older and work responsibilities diminish, many seniors find happiness in helping others and giving back.

Adapting Your Home For Aging in Place is Only One Element!

Having wider doorways, threshold-free showers and one-story living are all important elements if you are considering aging in place. Preparing your home for safely aging in place can start well before retirement age. As you remodel and renovate, work with your contractor to incorporate universal design elements into your home renovations. Even if you choose to move, having a home that is ready for older homebuyers can add value and increase demand.

Today, seniors are more active than previous generations and looking for more from their communities. If you are planning on aging in place, look around your community for these seven features. As more people reach retirement age, many cities and towns are beginning to adapt to this growing demographic.

If you're in the market for an aging-in-place, forever home, begin by identifying your needs now and into the future. Then explore your community to see what it offers aging residents.

September
8

neighborhood

If You're Buying a House, The New England Market is Red Hot Right Now. Learn How to Navigate the Process

The housing market is on fire right now, and the New England region is the hottest of the hot! According to a National Association of Realtors study, because of pent-up post-pandemic demand for homes and a short supply of inventory, the median sales price of single-family homes is up 16.2% year-over-year in the first quarter. Along with high demand and low supply, other factors helping to move the market include historically low interest rates and a large market of first-time homebuyers.

New England is home to the top two real state markets in the country – Manchester and Concord, New Hampshire. Manchester is New Hampshire's largest city and no stranger to the hottest market list, while Concord leaped up 22 spots from last year to end up at number two.

According to Joelle Sturms, a realtor with the Masiello Group in Concord, New Hampshire office:

"It is pure madness! We are seeing multiple offers all over the place and homes selling for tens of thousands of dollars over the asking price. It is mostly buyers from Massachusetts, Connecticut, and New York with plenty of cash. They almost do not care what prices are. I feel bad for our local buyers because first-time homebuyers are getting priced out of the market."

So how can you win a bidding war when buying a house in the blazing New England Market?

Read on to learn more.

If You Are A Buyer in a Hot Market, Be Prepared to Wait

If you are buying a house, you might consider waiting until supply picks up; in fact, you might not have a choice. Here are three stats to help illustrate why waiting might be your best tactic.

  • 64% of Active buyers in the first quarter of 2021 searched for their home for more than 90 days.
  • In a typical market, the average time it took to find a home was 56 days.
  • 45% of those buyers said that being outbid kept them from buying.

As a buyer, the worst thing you can do is rush into a hot seller's market needing to make a purchase. For example, if you are selling your home while looking for a new one, you might want to have a backup plan for where you will live if the process takes longer than expected. One tactic to consider is to negotiate a lease-back clause in your purchase and sales agreement. If you can eliminate the burden of time constraints and wait it out, saying "no, for now" might help you land a better deal!

Things to Do While Waiting...

In a market like New Hampshire today, even if you decide to wait before buying a house, you can prepare to move quickly when the market opens up. Here are some steps to take so you can move quickly when the time comes.

Get Pre-Approved

Obtaining a mortgage pre-approval letter shows sellers you are a serious buyer ready to make a deal. When you are pre-approved, it means that a lender has verified your financials and agreed to make a loan. Lining up financing takes time. Doing so ahead of time shows you are serious and can give you an edge over other buyers. 

The process also gives you a better idea of what your homebuying budget looks like. You can then set realistic limits before you get into a bidding war.

Find Yourself A Good REALTOR®

Your REALTOR® is one of the most important members of your team. Find one who is an experienced negotiator but is also patient, objective, and resourceful. A good realtor can explain your local housing market using comps of similar properties that have recently sold, ideally in the neighborhood of your prospective home. 

A well-placed nudge from your realtor is sometimes needed if you have unrealistic expectations. But you should never feel that they are trying to sway you or rush a decision. 

Search for Homes Below Your Limit

Just because you are approved for a certain amount of financing does not mean you should only look at homes at the top of your budget. When buying a home in a hot market, expect to get outbid on many homes, especially in a seller's market. Instead, consider expanding your search and making concessions on the type of home you would like to own. 

List your needs and wants for a home early in the process. It can help you to make better compromises later. For example, looking at homes in a different neighborhood, homes with fewer amenities, or needing some updates. In the end, any compromises will feel minor when you compare the monthly savings on your mortgage payments!

Keep the Inspection Process Simple

While it's never a good idea to waive a home inspection, as you may end up vulnerable if the home has undetected structural issues that can be expensive to repair. Instead, offer an "informational" inspection, which means you will not use the inspection as a negotiating tool for price concessions. 

This offers the seller a good-faith gesture that you are interested in buying a house and not wasting their time. However, it also means, you can still walk away from any deal based on what the inspector finds.

In a Super Hot Market, Consider Deal-Sweeteners

Sometimes when buying a house, you need to look past the sticker price and see what is a priority to the seller. Maybe they are taking advantage of a hot market to increase their ROI but really don't want to move. Include a rent-back agreement with your bid allowing the homeowner to stay in the property for a few extra months. Or maybe the seller has to move in a hurry for their new job. You can offer to buy some of their big bulky furniture as part of the deal.

When buying a house, your job is to make the sale as painless as possible for the seller. If you look at the deal from both sides, you can often come up with ways to do that. The lack of inventory across the country has caused headaches for buyers finding themselves in a bidding war. If you think outside the box and make the transaction as painless as possible, then you can have a great chance of buying your dream home in a hot market like New Hampshire!

July
23

It would be nice if every house negotiationwent smoothly, but unfortunately, that's not always the case. Whether the seller is unwilling to negotiate or a closer look at your "dream" home reveals serious issues, sometimes it's better to walk away. Our real estate agents know what it takes to land your dream home, so let's take a closer look at the signs that it's time to walk away from a house negotiation.

Signs It's Time

Seller Refuses to Negotiate in Good Faith

Every successful negotiation requires compromise, and it's hard to find common ground when the seller refuses to negotiate in good faith. An overly rude seller refuses to listen to your concerns, or seems unwilling to budge on even the smallest issues may not be worth the trouble. You don't have to feel like the seller is going to be your best pal after negotiations, but civility and courtesy go a long way.

Falling In and Out Of Love with a Home

There's no avoiding the fact that buying a home is often an emotional process, and at some point in the shopping process, most buyers fall in love with a home. It's normal to get excited about a home that seems to suit your needs. Sometimes love at first sight turns into cold feet when it's time to commit. If the home you thought you love isn't all it's cracked up to be, then it may be time to move on to your next option.

Seller Conceals Key Information From House Negotiation

While disclosure rules vary by location, in most places, sellers are required to disclose certain serious maintenance issues with the home. This may include things like flooding, leaks, foundation damage, roof damage, and damage to key systems within the home. If you discover the seller has been trying to hide issues that they're required to disclose, it's better to walk away.

Inspection Uncovers Serious Issues During House Negotiation

The home may have issues turn up during the inspection that the seller wasn't aware of, and those issues may be serious enough to make you think twice. If the home inspection does reveal serious issues, you'll have to consider whether it's worth the time and money to fix the home before you decide whether to buy.

Too Much DIY

Tackling projects around the house is simply part of owning a home, but not every owner is qualified to handle home improvement projects. If the home has too many DIY fixes that would have to be repaired by professionals, it may no longer be the right fit for your budget.

Pest Issues, Mold, and Other Hidden Problems

If you discover that the home has serious issues with termites, mold, or other hidden problems, those issues will naturally impact your perception of the home. If the cost of repairing termite damage or eliminating mold is more than you bargained for, it's time to shop for a different home.

The Bottom Line When it Comes to House Negotiation

The negotiation step of buying a home can be stressful. An experienced agent can be there to help by giving you advice , and telling you when it might be time to walk away. Whether you're shopping for the first time or getting your search back on track after a failed negotiation, our team is here to help you find a home you'll love. Contact us to buy and sell homes throughout the Northern New England area, and check out The Ultimate Home Buyers Guide to help you on your journey to find a new home.

July
16

What is a Credit Score?

Your credit score is a little three-digit number between 300-850 that depicts a consumer's creditworthiness, and that has a BIG impact on your home-buying process. The higher the score, the better a borrower looks to potential lenders. Our real estate agents know buying a home is an exciting experience. Whether it's your first time purchasing a property or if you're moving into a new space that will cater to your changing lifestyle, we want to make sure that your experience is an easy one.

How Credit Scores Impact Buying a Home

With years of experience helping clients buy and sell homes, we understand real estate transactions inside and out. Our customers often ask questions regarding how a credit score impacts purchasing a home. To provide you the best advice, we've answered some of the most common questions about credit scores so you can head into your home search with confidence.

Does my credit score matter?

Yes! Your credit score is an essential aspect of your financial life. Although it is an important consideration in a real estate transaction, your credit score can also impact other things like buying a car or taking out a loan. You can also leverage great scores into great deals — on credit cards, insurance premiums, apartments and cell phone plans. Bad scores can hammer you into missing out or paying more. According to Nerd Wallet, a 15-year home equity loan of $50,000 would cost a low scorer $22,500 more than someone with high scores.

How is my credit score calculated?

A credit score is composed of many elements, including your credit payment history, your debt-to-credit utilization, your length of credit history, your credit mix, and your new credit accounts.

What credit score do I need to buy a home?

Technically, you can buy a home with any credit score. However, securing financing gets increasingly more difficult the lower your credit score is. Credit scores range from 300 to 850, with anything above 760 considered exceptional and anything below 650 considered less than favorable. For example, a credit score of 700 is good, and you may have an easier time qualifying for a loan than someone with a credit score of 400, which is considered unfavorable in the eyes of lenders. Similarly, those with an 800 credit score should have no trouble getting a mortgage approved by a financial lender.

How can I raise my credit score?

You can always raise your credit score no matter how low it is. Although it may take discipline and time, there's no reason why any individual can't get their credit score to a level which a mortgage lender will approve of. First, you should check your credit score and report to see where you stand. If you notice an error on the report, dispute it so it can be removed. Next, you'll want to gather all of your debts and plan a way to pay them down. Many people choose to pay off smaller debts first to show better management of debt-to-credit utilization. Moving forward, you'll want to ensure that you pay every bill on time so you won't chance missing a payment and dropping your score. Some individuals with limited or very low credit scores may want to consider building new credit responsibly by opening a new credit account, getting a new credit card or taking out a secured loan. Using these resources wisely can help boost your score.

Should I improve my credit score before I begin house hunting?

While it's not absolutely necessary to raise your score before you begin your search, we do recommend that you try to boost it if possible. When you seek out a loan or mortgage, you want to have the highest score and best credit report possible so you can secure funding quickly without trouble.

To learn more about how your credit score impacts the home buying process, contact us today!

July
9

How to Get Your Dream Home

So you have done the rounds shopping for just the right New England dream home for you. You're finally in the home stretch, having found your dream home. However, there is a problem. Other buyers have decided it is their dream home too, and you've found yourself having to compete for your new home. So what do you need to know about duking it out with competing home buyers to increase your odds of coming out on top?Our real estate agents have some tips and tricks that can help you get to your dream home fast and easy.

Step One

Use a buyer's agent

Having an agent that works directly for you is a big advantage when buying a home. A good buyer's agent will have extensive experience in the market you're shopping. They will also have access to more information about listed homes, and will be looking out for your best interests, rather than those of the seller. Having an expert in your corner to guide you can make a big difference when it comes to competing with other buyers to purchase the home you have your heart set on. According to the National Association of Realtors, 88% of buyers purchased their dream home through a real estate agent or broker—a share that has steadily increased from 69% in 2001.

Step Two

Get pre-approved for a home loan

It is always best to get a mortgage pre-approval before you begin shopping for a new home. It is essential to do so if you're planning to submit an offer on a house where there are likely to be competing offers from other buyers. You want to be able to show that you can afford the home in question to ensure that the seller takes your offer seriously. Also, if any of your competing buyers have not yet made this step, you'll increase your odds of being seen as the more prepared and serious buyer. Take a look at our blog on the importance ofmortgage pre-approval to learn more.

Step Three

Limit contingencies

If more than one buyer is bidding on your dream home, presenting a clean offer, with as few contingencies and demands as possible, can increase the odds that the seller will look upon your offer more favorably than those of more demanding buyers.

Step Four

Make a large earnest money deposit on your Dream Home

Putting a larger than average chunk of cash down for earnest money can sway sellers. This will make it known that you are committed and ready to buy. Putting down a large earnest money deposit will also ensure added insurance on the transaction for both the buyer and the seller. 

Step Five

Go face to face the listing agent

The personal approach when you deliver your offer can go a long way towards swaying the competition for a home in your favor. Most buyers send offers via email these days, a rather impersonal approach, so presenting yours face-to-face can certainly make you, and your offer, stand out from the crowd.

The Bottom Line on How to Get your Dream Home

These five tips will greatly increase your chances of nailing down your dream home. If you could use a few more great tips on coming out the winner when you're buying a home, please feel free tocontact us. You can also check out The Ultimate Home Buyers Guide to learn more about all the steps it takes to buy a home. We're always happy to put our knowledge and experience to work for the benefit of New England home buyers.

July
2

Is buying a house on your to-do list? Our real estate agents love helping clients turn their dreams of homeownership into a reality!

How to Have a Successful Home Buy

It's essential to develop good habits right away, so you're ready when the right home comes along. Here are seven steps you can take right now to help ensure you don't hit any roadblocks during your home-buying journey.

Step One

Your Finances

Getting your finances in order is the very first thing you need to do before you can consider buying a home. Start with these tips:

  • Open a "new home savings" account and start making deposits
  • Start paying down your debts and avoid opening any new credit accounts
  • Resolve to pay all of your monthly bills on time
  • Write down your budget and stick to it
  • Check your credit report and make sure it's accurate

Each of these things takes time. The sooner you start, the better shape you'll be in when you find your new home.

Step Two

Save for a Rainy Day

Get a better idea of whether you'll be able to afford the home you want by pretending your bills have already gone up. Set the extra money aside each month to have an emergency fund saved before you buy a home.

Step Three

Set Realistic Expectations for a Successful Home Buy

Shopping for a home will be much more productive (and more fun!) if you have a clear idea of your goals. Make a list of all the features you want in a home, and any that you don't. This will help keep you from wasting time looking at places that aren't right for you.

While it's fine to make a "dream home" list, make sure you're realistic about your "must-haves." Trying to buy a champagne house on a bottled water budget will only lead to disappointment.

Step Four

Get a Great Agent

Whether you're a first-time or experienced home buyer, working with a great real estate agent can have a considerable impact on a successful home buy. It's essential to be picky about who you choose. Ask for recommendations from friends and family, check references, and read reviews before committing to a contract.

Step Five

Give Yourself Plenty of Time

Buying a home is a huge commitment. The last thing you want is to jump into something without thinking it through or feel pressured to buy something that's not quite right. Make sure this doesn't happen to you by leaving yourself plenty of time to explore your options.

Homes come on and off the market, so plan to set aside some time every week for home shopping. Visit plenty of open houses to have a good idea of what types of homes are currently available on the market.

Step Six

Be Prepared for a Successful Home Buy

The housing market moves fast, and if you're not ready, you could miss out on your perfect home. Ensure you're prepared by shopping for a mortgage ahead of time and making sure you're pre-approved. Organize your tax and financial documents, so you're ready when it's time to submit your mortgage application.

Step Seven

Be Flexible

While it's great to have an idea of the type of home you want, don't be too rigid about it. If you're willing to have an open mind, you might find the perfect home wasn't what you expected at all. Going with the flow and being flexible is a key component to a successful home buy.

The Bottom Line for a Successful Home Buy

Buying a home can seem like a scary task. With the right resources and guidance, you can and will be successful in buying a home. You can check out TheUltimate Home Buyers Guide to learn more about all the steps it takes to buy a home. If you're ready to start house hunting, we're here to help. Contact us at The Masiello Group to get started.

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