Archive for the ‘Bedford MA’ Category

Forewarned is Forearmed: Top 6 Investment Property Repairs

When you first look into whether an investment property in Bedford would be a suitable addition to your own portfolio, the positives leap out. Bedford investment properties can throw off positive cash flow even as they appreciate in long-term value. What’s not to like? But there is one area that may hover as a wildcard: the maintenance issue.

Because tenants are part of the picture, Bedford investment properties undergo varying amounts of wear and tear, so keeping them in top shape does require at least some degree of attention. Veteran landlords learn how to handle maintenance and repairs with a minimum of turmoil—sometimes by simply farming them out to professional property managers. In that, we are fortunate—Bedford has some great ones!

However you choose to address the issue, it’s useful to know which repairs investment property owners say are most frequently needed. Here are six leaders:

  1. Leaks. Under sinks, under windows and in the ceiling, leaks require the swiftest action to forestall expensive repercussions. Even the smallest leaks can result in mold growth, so any hint of water where it doesn’t belong rates immediate attention.
  2. Appliances. They have the greatest number of working parts, so it’s no surprise that they wind up having the greatest number of non-working parts. Repairmen are whispering that current models in almost all brands are not holding up as well as they used to…so when replacements are necessary, consider that higher-quality models may be worth the initial expense.
  3. Water heater. Tenants deserve hot water, so when it peters out, having the attention of a veteran plumber can be the difference between a repair (often all that’s needed) or a more expensive replacement.
  4. Rodents and bugs. Sealing up holes is the first line of defense for discouraging all manner of creepy-crawlies. If they show up anyway, Bedford pest control experts can usually rid infestations for at most a few hundred dollars.
  5. Furnace. If the heat goes out during cold spells, unless it’s only a pilot light going out, it can quickly become an emergency situation. You’ll want to have the emergency phone number for one of Bedford’s experienced furnace repairmen at the ready.
  6. Running toilet. We’re all familiar with the sound of a toilet that won’t shut up. It’s usually (in fact, virtually always) due to a “flapper” that doesn’t quite seat properly. These are inexpensive parts that are easily replaced—but there are also a hundred different varieties. All the expertise that’s required to fix this common tenant complaint can be found in YouTube videos demonstrating the various 10-minutes solutions.

Some terrific Bedford investment property possibilities are among this fall’s listings. Call me to explore them!

Joan Parcewski, Realtor & Notary

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

JParcewski@LAERRealty.com    cell 978-376-3978

 

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Rx for Bedford Real Estate Inspection Jitters

As worrisome physical symptoms go, house inspection jitters should not be worrisome in the least. Neither Bedford home buyers or their counterparts (Bedford home sellers) need be troubled if they find themselves awaiting the house inspector with mounting anxiety: these are perfectly normal symptoms. My advice echoes HGTV’s prescription for a “Drama-Free Real Estate Rx”—in their words, “Don’t Freak Out.”

The utter normalcy for pre-inspection jitters is indisputable—as is their cause. If you are the seller, you can be perfectly satisfied that you have done everything possible to ensure that your Bedford home is in tip-top shape, and yet be aware that some totally unknown malady (that only a sharp-eyed house inspector could ever uncover) might be lurking. If you are the buyer, you’ve found the house you’ve been searching for, but know that all the plans you’ve set into motion could be derailed by some unanticipated dire structural finding.

With so much on the line, the house inspection is usually viewed as the last possible monkey wrench that could be thrown into the works of the deal. Jitters are appropriate.

The prescription for real estate inspection jitters is to realize that although deal-killing inspections are certainly possible, they aren’t all that likely. The reason is that almost any set of negative findings can be dealt with rationally: in terms of dollars and cents. Your Bedford real estate agent (hopefully me!) is expert at doing away with post-inspection jitters. If the problems are so minor that they don’t bother the buyer, the jitters disappear all by themselves.

If more major items are in play, contractor bids can be gathered and compared, and the probable costs factored into a renegotiation which results in a deal that seems fair to all. The most frequent result is the calm knowledge that the house inspection jitters were quickly put to rest via a mature and rational solution: freak-out not warranted.

Helping buyers and sellers appraise the results of Bedford real estate inspections is only one part of how I can help you when it comes to the very important project of buying or selling Bedford properties. I hope you’ll consider giving me a call!

Joan Parcewski, Realtor & Notary

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

JParcewski@LAERRealty.com    cell 978-376-3978

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Bedford “Pet-Friendly” Homes: It All Begins with Petscaping!

“Pet-Friendly” is a term that used to be confined to the Bedford Homes for Rent ads and a few open-minded hotel chains. Given the 84+ million American households which now include pets as family members, Bedford homeowners who plan on listing their property anytime soon might include those animal census numbers in their thinking.

There may not yet be an official “Pet-Friendly Home” seal with stringent qualifying requirements, but it might not be such a bad idea. What research there is indicates that most prospective home buyers don’t at first concentrate on their animals’ needs—yet when you add the 36% of dog-owning households to the 30% of cat owners, there’s a high probability that more than a few of potential buyers will be sizing up your property with Fido or Fluffball in mind.

The qualities that make your Bedford home pet-friendly or not begin with landscaping. The ASPCA considers “petscaping” a high priority, so well-maintained traditional or invisible fencing is a good place to start. If you have succeeded in gardening without pesticides, pointing out its organic character will be another plus.

The ASPCA also offers an online database of toxic and non-toxic plants. If your pet-friendly home includes a thoroughly pet-safe yard, it will be worth noting in marketing materials.

Pet-friendly homes are now including some technological advances, too.  In addition to various automatic self-replenishing water bowl schemes, there are a variety of pet doors that only open for animals wearing a properly coded transmitter collar.

It’s only fair to mention that the pet-friendly concept can be taken to extremes. Open air cat walks with climbing steps and cat doors into every room might appeal to kitty fanciers, but even they might find the weirdness factor a negative. Along those lines is a proposed Pet-Friendly House Project. Its Gofundme page proposes a “dogs room” complete with 12-inch high bed, open-sided toy closet (the illustrations show a LOT of toys), pet-safe flooring, and a big-screen TV “for watching their favorite characters.” The Pet-Friendly House’s mudroom has a walk-in doggie shower which, come to think of it, is not a bad idea.

When the time nears to list your own Bedford home, I hope you’ll give me a call to discuss a dynamic, effective marketing plan—pet-friendly or not!

Joan Parcewski, Realtor & Notary

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

JParcewski@LAERRealty.com    cell 978-376-3978

Joan Parcewski Full Picture 102017Laer Realty Partners

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

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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

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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

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Password Advice Eases Bedford Real Estate Site Visits

Last week came a piece of advice that’s directly applicable to Bedford real estate matters. To a greater or lesser degree, it also impinges on every one of your online accounts that attempt to safeguard your privacy—for instance, when you log into your account here on my Bedford real estate site.

The news is about web passwords and security. For more than a decade we have been offered a choice:

  • If we care about our security—that is, the possibility of being hacked by internet bad guys—we’ve been cautioned to create passwords with long combinations of obscure characters (like ^,@, !, or %) interspersed between capital and lowercase letters and numbers—preferably in an order which makes no sense at all. And to change them every 90 days.
  • The other choice was to throw caution to the winds, cross our fingers, and make our passwords simple and memorable.

This advice originated with the National Institute of Standards and Technology in a pamphlet written by a mid-level manager named Bill Burr. Last week, Mr. Burr—who is now 72—admitted that much of the old advice was misguided. The recommended complexity had actually had a negative effect. “Much of what I did,” he said, “I now regret.”

So what ARE the new rules for creating your passwords—for my Bedford real estate site and all the other password-protected sites? The new, rewritten guidelines suggest long, easy-to-remember phrases. The Wall Street Journal reported that “correct horse battery staple” (written as one long word) would take 550 years to crack, as opposed to the three days it would take to break “TrOub4dor&3.”

And better yet: forget about changing those passwords all the time. Change them only if there is an indication they’ve been stolen. It’s not every day that life gets easier—but this looks like it could be one of them.

Another way to make life easier when Bedford real estate matters are at hand: check in with me. When you call me at the office, you won’t even need a password!

Joan Parcewski —CRS, MRP, CSHP, SRES, CBR, LMC, Realtor & Notary
978-376-3978   JParcewski@LAERRealty.com    OR    JParcewski@gmail.com
 
Licensed MA & NH    
Introductory Video  https://youtu.be/RrM4q17cjU0
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