Archive for the ‘Billerica MA’ Category

Answering a Common Question: Mortgage Refi FICO Scores

If you use a credit card or Billerica bank checking account’s online system, you may have noticed the appearance of a free service: FICO score tracking. You find it as a clickable area with a link title like “Your FICO® score” or just “FICO®.”

For many years, each of the major credit reporting agencies was mandated by law to honor any consumer’s request for a copy of their credit scores—but it was a once-a-year deal. For access to regular updates, you had to pay for a subscription. Particularly for consumers working to improve their credit scores, the paid services became a prudent monthly expense. The arrival of anytime free FICO score reporting eliminated much of that need.

Of course, tracking your FICO score is only useful if you know how the lending institutions will view it—and the answer to that is anything but clear-cut. Not only does each lender has their own confidential requirements, but since there are three separate reporting agencies, Billerica consumers have three FICO scores (and they’re rarely the same).

Even so, let’s face it: the single piece of information most everybody wants to know is what FICO score is needed to buy a home? or to refinance a home? Even if the answer is imprecise, it’s human nature.

To quell that curiosity, at least one source is willing to report what amounts to an average of approximations: it’s called EllieMae®. Ellie is a company that serves banks, credit unions, and mortgage companies by providing a raft of automated tools—but those are for industry insiders. As a sideline, they also put out a monthly Origination Insight Report with statistics drawn from the home loans processed through their systems—including some that most future Billerica home loan applicants will be interested to learn:

Average FICO score for conventional mortgage refis closed last month: 732

Average score for conventional purchases: 752

Average for FHA purchases: 681

Average FICO score — all loans: 724.

Average time needed to close: 43 days.

The percentage of mortgage refis grew to 39% of all loans, probably because interest rates decreased “for the sixth straight month” to 4.2%. EllieMae reckons that constitutes “a new 2017 low”—something Billerica refi and home loan applicants will be interested to know!

Those bargain basement interest rates continue to create a terrific opportunity for Billerica real estate. Call me for a no-obligation discussion about how you might take advantage of the current real estate environment!

Joan Parcewski, Realtor & Notary

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

JParcewski@LAERRealty.com    cell 978-376-3978

Laer Realty PartnersJoan Parcewski Full Picture 102017

 

For Potential Billerica FSBO Sellers, Points to Ponder

It’s illuminating to visit For Sale by Owner websites from time to time to see if there are any new insights to be gleaned. True, as a licensed Billerica Realtor®, I’m not likely to learn much new when it comes to selling Billerica homes—but that’s not the motivation. Call it ‘opposition research:’ the reason is to uncover any areas where the services I provide aren’t superior to what a do-it-yourselfer can come up with on their own.

Here are some takeaways from the FSBO sites Google recently presented as the most frequently consulted sites. I’ve included my opinion about the pronouncements—either valid or less than valid:

Valid: Valuing your house is an important step toward FSBO success. Absolutely true, if “valuing your house” means incorporating the latest Billerica comparable sales adjusted for the features that make your property unique.

Valid but irrelevant: Your lender will more likely sell your mortgage to another bank, sometimes within the first 72 hours. Although this is sometimes true, it has nothing to do with anything a potential Billerica FSBO owner needs to worry about.

Valid: “This should be no cause for alarm.” The reason why the above pronouncement about mortgage lenders’ procedures is a non-issue.

Less valid: “[name of an online service] is a free tool that instantly estimates your home’s value…”   As has been shown time and again, automated systems (even the top 3 national ones) can come up with wacky valuations—it’s why they ask homeowners for corrections. Compiling a carefully researched, up-to-the-minute comparable presentation is only one part of what you can expect from any licensed Realtor. Both are free.

Less valid: Whether you list your home with an agent…or sell your house on your own, it is going to involve considerable effort on your part. More candid would be pointing out that the considerable marketing, advertising, and negotiating activities in addition to timely compliance with all legal and financial deadlines are parts of the considerable effort that your Billerica agent undertakes for non-FSBO sellers.

Valid: Another pricing [tactic]…is calling a real estate agent for a Comparative Market Analysis…the agent’s point of view could be valuable. I couldn’t agree more!

Billerica FSBO properties are commonly passed up by serious-minded house hunters wishing to avoid non-professionals in such a major transaction. Since those are the prospects sellers should try hardest to attract, that’s one point you never find on any FSBO web site.

In case you’ve been toying with the For Sale by Owner idea, I hope you’ll first give me a call for a no-obligation discussion of your property and goals—and what makes the most sense for you!

Joan Parcewski, Realtor & Notary

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

JParcewski@LAERRealty.com    cell 978-376-3978

 

Laer Realty PartnersJoan Parcewski Full Picture 102017

 

Buying Your Billerica House in a Hurry? Not So Fast!

 The goal of owning your Billerica home free and clear is usually thought of as the sunniest eventual outcome of the process that begins with buying your Billerica house. The vision of the day when you make that last mortgage payment is an attractive one: whether in retirement or sooner, a “free rent” future has great appeal.

So when financial planners argue against the wisdom of paying off your mortgage, it makes for interesting reading. One such planner is Ric Edelman, whose article “11 Great Reasons to Carry a Big, Long Mortgage” presents a laundry list of the possible financial benefits. As one of the nations’ foremost financial advisers, Edelman also has a well-earned reputation for brash presentations (his PBS series made the most of that). And he really does list eleven reasons why “you should have as big a mortgage as you can get and never pay it off.”

Some of the reasons are fact-based—but not really pertinent. For instance, Reason #1 is that your mortgage doesn’t affect your home’s value. True: whether its value rises or falls depends largely on the current Billerica market…but that isn’t a reason for or against carrying home loan debt.

The same is true for Reason #2, which is that a mortgage “won’t stop you from building equity…” The logic here is the same: even if you never paid down your home loan’s principal at all, if the expected market value rises (it’s “almost certain to grow in value over the next 20 years”), your equity would grow independently.

More convincing are the remaining nine reasons, leading off with Reason #3, “A mortgage is cheap money.” This will earn head nods from every financial analyst, and it’s doubly true with today’s incredibly low interest rates. It may only be useful to those who have ideas for places where the “cheap money” can produce juicy profits—but what financial planner can’t suggest a few?

The other reasons deal with:

  • tax benefits
  • the dwindling real cost of mortgage payments over time due to inflation
  • the liquidity provided by refinancing (“selling without selling”)
  • the wealth creation possibilities of money invested sooner rather than later

Each of these can be illustrated by graphs and charts (and believe me, they are).

Whether you are more of the less-owed-the-better mindset or Edelman’s big long mortgage school, one thing holds true in both cases: buying your Billerica house is the necessary first step. I can be of immediate value in that department—call me to see what I mean!

Joan Parcewski, Realtor & Notary

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

JParcewski@LAERRealty.com    cell 978-376-3978

 Laer Realty PartnersJoan Parcewski Full Picture 102017

 

Billerica Homeowners Gain from Home Value Optimism

More than half of U.S. homeowners expect their home’s value to rise in the coming year. For Billerica real estate watchers who track public sentiment as a market indicator, the news comes as a welcome addition to other reports of rising consumer optimism regarding the economy as a whole.

The finding comes from a national telephone and online survey conducted earlier this month by the Rasmussen Reports organization. It signals an acceleration in a year-long trend of rising expectations among U.S. homeowners. A year earlier, fewer than 40% had predicted that their own home values would rise in the coming year. In this latest report, that number has increased to 53%—a leap of 12% over the March finding. According to Rasmussen summary, this amounts to “a record high” in optimism about future home values.

Billerica homeowners who plan to list their own properties in the immediate future have reason to welcome measures of positive expectations. When most people expect Billerica home values to rise, buyers are apt to view current market prices in terms of their investment potential. This can prove to be important—especially when values have been on the rise for a while.

This latest Rasmussen finding was all the more impressive in that it marked the first time in eight years that a majority of those sampled expressed optimism about future home values. It is in sync with a heavy majority of industry prognosticators who predict home value increases in the coming year.

It’s always good news when there is general agreement that Billerica home values are expected to continue to rise. If your own future includes the possibility of buying or selling in the coming year, I’d like to help—call me anytime!

Joan Parcewski, Realtor & Notary

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

JParcewski@LAERRealty.com    cell 978-376-3978

 

Laer Realty PartnersJoan Parcewski Full Picture 102017

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Timing Your Billerica Home’s Sale

Hardly anyone decides to put their own Billerica house up for sale without wondering whether there wouldn’t be a better time to do so. There are a couple of different ways to look at the timing of your Billerica home’s sale—but only one of them is controversial.

Controversial: timing by the calendar. A good number of real estate commentators think that the optimal timing for any home’s sale is during the spring/summer season. In the residential real estate lexicon that’s the “peak selling season.” Statistics validate their point. Since the majority of transactions are in fact initiated during the good weather months when the sun shines the longest, it might seem to make the most sense.

The controversy arises when it’s pointed out that this notion is so commonly held that timing your home sale to list it during the peak puts you in competition with many more sellers. Peak season proponents don’t think that’s a problem since there are also more buyers in the market. Naysayers counter that house-hunters in poorer weather are demonstrating that they are more committed—by definition, they are better prospects. And so on—and on. The argument isn’t likely to be settled any time soon.

Non-Controversial: timing by your personal calendar. This argues for disregarding the wall calendar in favor of letting your personal situation dictate the timing for your own Billerica home sale. Financial commentators make the argument that when your home no longer fits your lifestyle, that’s all the timing you need to pay attention to…if your financial ducks are in a row. The seasonal timing debate can be argued either way, but almost everyone agrees that the underlying economics should dictate the final word on timing.

Once your debt situation is in control, and you’re confident that you can afford the move to your next house, the only timing issue remaining is allowing enough of it to bring your current Billerica home up to prime showing condition. Whenever your personal situation aligns to suggests it’s time to start thinking about selling, one timing element I can heartily suggest is to give me a call. We’ll have a no-obligation discussion about if and when to get the ball rolling

Joan Parcewski, Realtor & Notary

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

JParcewski@LAERRealty.com    cell 978-376-3978

Laer Realty PartnersJoan Parcewski Full Picture 102017

Billerica Real Estate’s Unlikely New Player: Amazon.com

Amazon has invaded the realm of real estate—but you couldn’t say it’s happening in a big way.

It’s happening in a tiny way.

Last week the improbable news arrived that the web’s 400-pound gorilla had made its first foray into the realm of real estate. Since Billerica real estate (like all real estate) is by definition local, its very nature would seem to preclude the buying and selling of homes as a mail order enterprise. But since Amazon.com has succeeded in other industries where failure had been assumed (high-end fashion, for instance), could local Billerica real estate soon be monopolized by a tsunami of Amazon Prime home sales? At least it warranted some looking into!

It turned out that Billerica real estate was not likely to be overcome anytime soon. The Amazon listings that showed up are hard to find, and not likely to tempt many Billerica home shoppers. The few listings were only searchable when you entered “tiny homes”—and the few homes being offered were sandwiched in between how-to books about designing and building very small cabins.

(Here, a note for Billerica residents who aren’t familiar with the “tiny homes” phenomenon…they are what the name says: structures smaller than 400 square feet…although some can be as microscopic as 80 square feet, most are in the 300-350 range).

You may not find too many tiny homes in Billerica, but the movement is nation-wide. And the concept is not as far-fetched as it might seem. Anyone who has taken weeks-long vacations in campers or lived for any stretch of time on a pleasure boat knows that you can reduce your living space to a slender minimum if you plan carefully.

Back to Amazon. The lead-off listing was a pre-fab tiny home converted from a shipping container. Like any good Billerica real estate listing, the details pointed out key selling points (in this case, the shipping container was new). Price was a thrifty $36,000, which would be even more thrifty if the “$0.00 estimated tax” turns out to be accurate. The customer reviews were mixed, with one in particular naming a possible sticking point: meeting Massachusetts and Billerica building codes. Additionally, Amazon Prime members who revel in their free delivery perk were bound to be disappointed: the tiny home wasn’t eligible (they’d have to pony up another $3,754 in shipping fees).

If your own Billerica home buying or selling requirements are greater than the tiny home square footage limit, I’m here to lend a hand. Call me!

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

 

9 Home Hacks to Ease Daily Billerica Homeowner Hassles

You don’t have to be holding a showing or Billerica open house to appreciate time-saving maintenance and organizational tips. Nowadays, many of these are being called “home hacks”—but no matter what you call them, when you find yourself repeatedly dealing with recurring cleaning and household organizational problems, simple shortcuts are what is called for.

Without further ado, here are 9 home hacks for Billerica householders. I’ve noted them as briefly as possible so you can quickly spot familiar situations in your own household:

  1. Oil-stained garage floor? Some recommend sprinkling with cat litter—but it can get messy. Try Coca-Cola first!
  2. Don’t throw out those plastic clips that keep bread bags closed—label them with the names of the electronic devices plugged into the media center’s power strip. They’ll hang perfectly on the cords—and let you know which is which without unplugging (and triggering a date/time reset).
  3. When you are doing all the bedrooms at once for a showing or open house, you’ll be glad if you’ve kept the separate sheet sets in their matching pillowcases.
  4. Curtain rod hack ONE: Suspend a curtain rod from ceiling hooks near the washer/dryer. All you need is a bunch of coat hangers—and see how handily they organize the clean shirts!
  5. Curtain rod hack TWO: Too much cleaning stuff jammed together under the kitchen sink? Install another curtain rod near the top, and hang all the spray-nozzle-type bottles from it. Now there’s plenty of room for all the rest of the stuff below.
  6. Stubborn water spots on shower doors and mirrors? Use dryer sheets.
  7. If you’ve stashed family board games in storage containers, label them. It’s easy to forget how family board and card games can make family gatherings—but without labels, all those old games are out of sight and out of mind.
  8. Cleaning Billerica properties that have lots of stainless steel appliances can be frustrating unless you’ve heard about using rubbing alcohol with a microfiber cloth. Always wipe with the grain.
  9. Tie a baggy with vinegar around a clogged shower head and leave it overnight— sometimes this actually works!)

These are nine of the “home hacks” that can save Billerica householders time and frustration. Saving my Billerica real estate clients both is part of my job description!

Joan Parcewski, Realtor & Notary

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

JParcewski@LAERRealty.com    cell 978-376-3978

Laer Realty PartnersJoan Parcewski Full Picture 102017

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