Archive for September, 2017

Freddie Mac Minces No Words: “Another 2017 Low”

A couple of weeks back, the ultimate authority on Bedford mortgage rates hadn’t minced words. That was Freddie Mac, whose opinion about mortgage rates constitutes the final say in the matter. Freddie isn’t modest about its preeminence (Freddie’s trademarked corporate slogan is “We make home possible”). Together with sibling Fannie Mae, the quasi-governmental entities stand behind 60% of U.S. mortgages.

Each week their PMMS survey collects data snapshots from thrifts, credit unions, banks, and mortgage lenders to gauge of the direction of the home loan market. Future Bedford home hunters and the homeowners whose properties are found in the current listings (or soon will be) are constantly affected by those ups and downs. For one thing, they dictate the “monthly payment” calculations you find in the detailed breakdown featured most online listings—including those on my site.

Naturally, the rate averages vary from lender to lender and state to state—but it’s the direction in which mortgage rates are headed that can be a spur for buyers. Either direction can cause activity. When rates rise quickly, buyers can be incented to lock in rates before they get out of hand. When they fall, that inducement disappears—although a shrinking monthly payment number does create an increasingly affordable scenario. Low rates create an encouraging “price is up, but cost is down” situation.

The week before last, Freddie’s headline had been an unequivocal piece of favorable news for Bedford buyers and sellers:

30-Year Mortgage Rate Hits Another 2017 Low.”

But last week’s follow-up failed to live up to what was expected (a slight rebound). Freddie’s headline on Thursday was neither fish nor fowl, up nor down. It was the third possibility, where mortgage rates don’t go anywhere: they just sit there, deadpan as a professional poker player, revealing nothing:

Mortgage Rates Hold at 2017 Low.

The U.S. weekly average was still 3.78%, tying the low for the year. For Bedford  buyers who may have missed out on locking in the previous week’s home loan bargain rates, the reprieve was welcome news. Whether the expected rebound was on the way remained to be seen.

Current Bedford mortgage rates are key when it comes to buying and selling area homes­­—and with rates holding at historic lows, it creates an undeniably auspicious market opportunity. Call me!

Joan Parcewski, Realtor & Notary

LAER Realty Partners           http://www.JoanParcewski.LAERRealty.com

JParcewski@LAERRealty.com    cell 978-376-3978

Laer Realty Partners     Joan_Parcewski (1 of 1)

 

 

 

Thoughts as Billerica’s Summertime Ends…

Friday is the official last day of Billerica’s 2017 summer, but for most of us, the season has been feeling a lot more like fall ever since Labor Day. It isn’t the weather so much as the psychological factor. Things like the passing of that last summertime three-day weekend and watching Billerica’s seasonal businesses post hour change signs. As the school busses appear every morning, you also don’t have to have kids in school to register what all the activity signals: Billerica’s summer is over.

Pinterest, the internet’s foremost collecting place for everyone’s pictures of everything has scores of pages of photos and drawings with Last Days of Summer themes. Some of them do extract a sigh or two. It may have been decades since you last experienced a cookout with friends as the summer sun sets, or watched a little one discovering that the cold tidewater will get your toes if you don’t back away in time—but the thought that the chance to revisit such moments has slipped away till next year is a sigh-producer for most.

The Pinterest collections had lots of swimming pool and beach pictures (including many dogs-in-swimming-pools, for some reason), as well as barbecue grills and drinks with limes in them. They did a good job of making you wish Billerica’s summer could last just a little bit longer…

On the bright side, since they were also heavy with ice cream and popsicle imagery, it prompted the realization that some Billerica summer attractions won’t be disappearing at all! There’s no law that says Billerica’s autumn won’t include an ice cream cone or two. Besides, it’s a fact that the summertime pastime of racing to get to the bottom of the cone before it melts all over the place is easier to win as the weather gets colder. Another plus is how, before long, autumnal treats like pumpkin-flavored ice cream are going to show up again.

With Billerica’s official Last Day of Summer coming on Friday, those whose favorite season arrives with the fall have only the weekend before it’s here. It will be many months before fall fanciers will have to resort to Pinterest to relive the Last Days of Autumn collections. They will undoubtedly find lots of pictures of high school football games, trees ablaze with orange-gold color, turkeys—but let’s not jump the gun; all that is yet to come!

In the meantime, season in and season out, call me whenever Billerica real estate matters need to be attended to!

Joan Parcewski, Realtor & Notary

LAER Realty Partners           http://www.JoanParcewski.LAERRealty.com

JParcewski@LAERRealty.com    cell 978-376-3978

Laer Realty Partners     Joan_Parcewski (1 of 1)

 

 

Equifax Hack Could Affect Burlington Mortgage Applicants-

When news of the Equifax hack first broke, the credit ratings giant scrambled to minimize fallout from this massive personal information breach. After an initial embarrassing misstep (they tried to have affected consumers sign off on Equifax’s liability), the company moved to ameliorate the hack by offering free ID protection to consumers.

Burlington homeowners and potential home buyers had reason to do more than shake their heads at yet another electronic pratfall. In one way or another, most Burlington real estate transactions involve creditworthiness appraisals that are managed by the three credit reporting agencies (Equifax is one). That means that among the 143 million consumers it admits could be “potentially impacted” are certainly a lot of current and future Burlington home buyers. The stolen information includes names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses—and for hundreds of thousands, credit card numbers. Even some Massachusetts driver license data figured in the Equifax hack.

Given the obvious potential for identity theft, the company’s Chairman went online to make an unprecedented offer: his firm will furnish a comprehensive package of credit file monitoring and identity theft protection to everyone. Literally.

To every consumer in the United States. For a year. For free.

With few exceptions, it was left to us to take the initiative to take them up on the offer. That factor might shrink the size of the undertaking, but even so, delivering on this scale was unlikely to be accomplished without a few hitches.

Hitch #1: when this many millions of people try to check in on any site, no system can handle it all at once. So contacting this Equifax Trusted ID Premier link results in varying lengths of delay before enrollment can be confirmed.

Hitch #2: because it is now obvious that sophisticated thieves are active in the credit reporting industry, it will be doubly necessary for Equifax to make certain that you are who you say you are. That makes multiple email confirmation back-and-forths unavoidable­­.

It’s a cinch that Burlington residents who decide to sign up for the free protection should also be extra vigilant in monitoring their financial transactions. An additional step is also possible: you can contact any one of the three credit agencies (Equifax, TransUnion, or Experian) to request that they place a 90-day “fraud alert” on your file. It’s free, and whichever agency you contact is required to notify the other two. Fraud alerts obligate any lender to contact you before they issue credit in your name. You can renew the alert as many times as you wish—and cancel at any point.

Your credit score is a vital ingredient when it’s time to look for favorable home loan offers, so even before the Equifax hack, it’s always been well worth protecting. Give me a call when questions about this or other Burlington real estate matters come up: I’ll be minding the phone!

Joan Parcewski, Realtor & Notary

LAER Realty Partners           http://www.JoanParcewski.LAERRealty.com

JParcewski@LAERRealty.com    cell 978-376-3978

 

Laer Realty Partners    Joan_Parcewski (1 of 1)

4 Bedford Home Buying Steps (with Some Adjustments)

What a simpler world it would be if Bedford home buying could be reduced to anything like a simple 4-Step process. Even better if those were four easy steps. Actually, without actually coming out and saying so, that’s the tantalizing prospect hinted at on radio financial guru Dave Ramsey’s web site’s “Home Buying Process Made Easy.

Ramsey is the likable media expert in household budgeting and financial planning. A good deal of his guidance could be summed up in just 2 steps:

1) get out of debt (except for mortgage debt) as soon as humanly possible; then,

2) stay out.

Since that’s not bad advice, the promise of home buying in 4 steps seems almost reasonable. After all, his millions of listeners have undoubtedly benefitted greatly through the years (once they’ve figured out a way to act on the advice).

And in fact, his 4 easy home buying steps are actually not far off-target—although I think they’re out of order:

  1. Put your finances in order before home buying; IOW, know what you can afford.
  2. Do the cash flow Ramsey thinks your Bedford home’s monthly mortgage payments should be no more than a quarter of your net income.
  3. Get a home loan. Make this a 15-year fixed rate mortgage to minimize total interest paid.
  4. Find a good real estate agent to “help make sure you don’t pay too much” and deal with any “unexpected home buying hurdles.”

Realistically, Bedford home buying involves a bit more involvement than that. Also, Step 4 should actually come after Step 2, and Step 3 (getting a mortgage) should come after that—and after you and your good real estate agent have zeroed in on your target Bedford  home.

One more practical alteration: the 15-year mortgage structure automatically results in a higher monthly payment that, when combined with a 25% of net income budget cap, could yield an unrealistically limited budget target. Being financially conservative also means being realistic. A growing family, for instance, might find that they have wasted money if they have to move to a larger home after only a few years.

That’s where your good real estate agent can save the day. Call me at any step in the process: I’ll be your sounding board on today’s practical short and long term Bedford home buying trade-offs!

Joan Parcewski, Realtor & Notary

LAER Realty Partners           http://www.JoanParcewski.LAERRealty.com

JParcewski@LAERRealty.com    cell 978-376-3978

Laer Realty Partners       Joan_Parcewski (1 of 1)

 

A Tenant-Occupied House Sale Can be Smooth Sailing

Even investors whose Burlington rental homes have served long and well as income-producers can eventually decide it’s time to sell. Given today’s tight housing inventories, the current market does stack up as one where selling your tenant-occupied house can be a timely financial move.

But if that is under consideration, what should you do about the current tenant? Is it better to wait until the current lease expires—so that the vacated property can be shown without having to deal with an inconvenienced (and possibly miffed) tenant? Or will it be better to go ahead and list the property while it’s still occupied? Massachusetts landlord-tenant laws will have to be observed in any case, and specifics depend on the terms of the rental agreement, but experience teaches that following a few straightforward guidelines will usually solve any tenant-occupied Burlington rental home sale issues before they become problematical.

As with so many “people” matters, keeping the lines of communication open should be the first order of business. For the planned sale of a tenant-occupied house, that means letting your tenant know as soon as possible that the house is going to be put on the market, and that you and your agent will actively minimize any inconvenience that might result. This is also the most opportune time to suggest that they consider buying the place themselves—an option that eliminates further complications.

If that’s not a possibility, be prepared to address their likely concerns, such as—

  1. Having to allow strangers into their home. Impress on the tenant that showings will only be conducted for qualified prospective buyers who will be escorted by your agent—a Massachusetts-licensed real estate professional.
  2. Having home life suddenly interrupted. Let them know the terms of your agreement with your Realtor® specifying the required advance notice for all showings.
  3. Having to move. This is only a possibility since their good history as a tenant increases the possibility that the new owner may choose to continue to offer the property as a rental.

The solution depends on the specifics. If you are selling a property that tracks well as an investment, tenants may be a plus. If you are selling an upscale property, having it vacant and staged to the 9s may well be your best bet (and a good one, too!).

In any case, the most accurate advice will come when you give me a call to come out and see your property. That’s how we can develop the right game plan!

Joan Parcewski, Realtor & Notary

LAER Realty Partners           http://www.JoanParcewski.LAERRealty.com

JParcewski@LAERRealty.com    cell 978-376-3978

Laer Realty Partners      Joan_Parcewski (1 of 1)

 

Hurricane News Overshadows All but One Bright Spot

Last weekend’s regular Massachusetts news should have been promoting all the usual upbeat feature stories about the onset of football season, the start of a brand new school year, the finals of tennis’ last grand slam tournament and the like—but Billerica readers would have gotten eye strain trying to find any of them. Instead, the dark clouds brought by Hurricanes Irma and Harvey cast dense shadows across the region and the nation’s news. It was certain, too, that even after the terror of their actual passages had subsided, the fallout would continue to reverberate—expensively—for a very long time.

What was covered was how the prayers of millions not directly affected were being answered by many thousands of Good Samaritan volunteers. That uplifting story was joined by another, too; a piece of hurricane-related real estate news. Too bad it was all but drowned out by the fury of the storms and their tragic aftermaths.

Nonetheless, for Harvey-stricken Houston area homeowners with home loans backed by FHA, Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, the announcement came that evictions and foreclosures would be suspended immediately. Added: the same government-backed entities would forego demands for monthly payments for at least 90 days (along with hints that “in some cases” that relief might be extended for up to a year).

As for those just beginning the climb out from Hurricane Irma’s destruction, I think it would be all but inconceivable that the same relief won’t be swiftly forthcoming for those homeowners—even if the size and cost of that will eclipse the cost of defraying the Harvey-affected loans. The small print has it that interest will continue to accrue—but Billerica onlookers will probably agree that the immediate granting of this relief is more than welcome at this juncture.

It’s really too soon to be able to concentrate on what happens in the months and years to come­—but the future of the American story is entirely predictable. This year we may have lost focus on traditional late summer sports, but in the championship ring of our real world and our real communities, we don’t suffer knockdowns easily. In U.S. history, there are no true KOs; there won’t be this time, either. The communities Americans rebuild will be better than ever!

Joan Parcewski, Realtor & Notary

LAER Realty Partners           http://www.JoanParcewski.LAERRealty.com

JParcewski@LAERRealty.com    cell 978-376-3978

 

Laer Realty Partners     Joan_Parcewski (1 of 1)

 

The Economics 101 Reason to Sell Your Bedford Home Now

Give me one good reason why selling now is better than waiting until next spring,” is a perfectly legitimate request. It’s a challenge to the traditional peak of Bedford’s selling season. Why should right now, at the start of September, be the right time to sell your Bedford home?

Statistics show that more homes are sold in the spring and summer, that—plus sheer inertia—can be powerful arguments to the contrary.

So here’s the “one good reason.” In fact, it could be the best reason. It’s the textbook Economics 101 basic rule about markets and pricing.

Simply put, the supply of housing all across the nation continues to be low. Really, really low. A few weeks ago, USA Today put inventories of homes for sale at “a 20-year low.” By the start of summer, that explained why the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller national home price index was up 5.6% from the year before—an all-time high.

Now, it could turn out that the supply of competing homes on the market remains low throughout the fall and winter—and even throughout 2018. But it’s also possible that conditions change, and that the housing inventory slump finally reverses. In fact, the economy, jobs reports, and consumer confidence are on the rise…

But until then, it’s what those Econ 101 introductory texts lay out: a basic truth that the price of an item is a reflection of supply and demand. Unless the annual pattern does a surprise about-face, come springtime, many more competing homes can be expected to enter the market. In other words, right now an already-constricted supply is likely to thin out even further. And most homeowners will wait for the traditional peak selling season to sell their Bedford homes.

The long and short of it is that listing now isn’t just a good time—it could be the good time. If you were looking for that “one good reason,” it’s also another reason, too—to give me a call me to discuss how best to sell your Bedford home!

Joan Parcewski, Realtor & Notary    LAER Realty Partners

JoanParcewski.LAERRealty.com   cell 978-376-3978   JParcewski@LAERRealty.com

Laer Realty PartnersJoan_Parcewski (1 of 1)

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