Archive for the ‘Buyers’ Category

Top 5 Qualities of the Best Burlington Real Estate Agent for You

If you are just about to commit to buying or selling a home in Burlington, the first important task before you comes with identifying the best Realtor® to assist your effort. That comes first because although you might begin by combing through the current Burlington listings or driving through the neighborhood to spot what’s going on, there is always a possibility that acting without delay will be important. If that happens to be the case, zeroing in on the best Burlington agent takes first priority.

How you ultimately select that best real estate agent for you involves a selection process that’s a lot like any business person’s procedure—except that it’s easier to identify the candidates. You won’t have to post “help wanted” ads since the candidates (myself included) are all actively looking for you! We are the prominent Burlington brokers and agents whose names you see on the web and on our “FOR SALE” signs. They’re all over the place.

The true lion’s share of the work of identifying your best “hire” will come in the conversations you have with the leading candidates. Whether you call them up or drop in on them at their office (or run into them at an open house), it’s important to bear in mind that these conversations, whether casual or not, are actually employment interviews. You’re the boss; the agents are applicants—and the hiring decision is a very important one. During these interactions, if you can determine that the agent you’re speaking with is strong in these five qualities, you’ve found your agent:

  1. Accessible. The best Burlington real estate agent for you is easy to talk to—the kind of person you connect with automatically; who puts you at ease. The best agent will be someone who is engaging and enjoyable to talk with.
  2. Professional. At the same time (it only seems to conflict with the above), the best agent is a professional at all times. After all, some of the most durable friendships wind up being with people we’ve “been through the wars with” in business!
  3. Sympathetic. A lot of the business at hand will consist of pinpointing your personal tastes and leanings and prioritizing them correctly. The best Burlington real estate agent for you will be keenly aware of your preferences—which won’t be the same as everybody else’s.
  4. Authoritative. That best agent knows Burlington inside and out; is personally familiar with the current crop of area listings; is known and widely respected by her or his Burlington real estate colleagues.
  5. Dedicated. Your best partner in the upcoming campaign will be committed to the real estate profession—not just for this week or for this transaction, but for the long haul. The best Burlington real estate agent will be there for you the next time, too!

Needless to say, when you are narrowing the field for who you want to become your own best Burlington agent, I hope you’ll call me for a chat!

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
Laer Realty PartnersJoan_Parcewski (1 of 1)

For Billerica Renters: The 5-Year Tesla Plan

My 5-year Tesla Plan is fanciful, but based on what could be the situation some Billerica renters can probably relate to.

The imaginary 5-year Tesla Plan participant could be any gainfully employed Billerica renter who has been living comfortably in a nice rental for the past few years. It’s either a comfortable home or a nice apartment: that doesn’t matter.

What’s important is that the monthly rent has been rising. It’s now $1,570. This is now gobbling up just about every spare dollar of the Billerica renter’s income, perhaps leaving only an annual $6,000 bonus for savings, which the tenant has banked religiously for the past five years.

The renter is driving a seen-better-days Subaru, newly paid-off. In fact, the renter has recently been tempted to take that $30,000 bonus savings and buy a brand new Tesla Model 3 sports sedan—but so far, prudence has won out (besides, the trove is $5,000 short of the Tesla’s price tag).

The 5-year Tesla Plan gets started with a call to my office (actually, any Billerica Realtor® could be called—but this is my Tesla Plan, after all!) The object is to find a suitable Billerica home to buy.

This we accomplish with a spacious 3-bedroom 2 ½ bath in an out-of-the way location. Its asking price is low because the motivated seller has been absent for months and now, in July, the yard looks terrible. So it’s a real buy at the just-reduced asking price of $210,000. (Whether the actual number is $210,000 or $2,100,000—the logic remains).

The average nearby comps come in at $240,000, so the bank has no trouble offering a home loan at that week’s rate of 3.835%. The bonus trove will cover nearly 15% as a down payment (saving those annual bonuses instead of buying the Tesla was certainly a good idea)! Because the down payment was less than 20%, the new homeowner will have to add about $65 a month extra for private mortgage insurance (PMI)—but even so, it’s still a great deal.

The bottom line is a monthly mortgage payment of $1,137 including property tax, house insurance, and the PMI insurance. So the proud new Billerica homeowner is now saving $433 every month. This might seem to be an annual saving of $5,200—but that’s not so! There are two other financially lucrative things going on that weren’t available to renters.

First is the appreciation in the value of the house once the yard is back in shape. But that’s not part of the 5-year Tesla Plan—it’s just a long-term bonus.

The second advantage most definitely is: a hefty income tax break. During those first five years, the mortgage interest paid equals $32,636—the entirety of which is a federal income tax deduction. So is the $3,900 in PMI payments. In the 25% tax bracket, that comes to $9,134 less headed to Uncle Sam. When you add everything together, during the first five years, the new homeowner will have pocketed about $35,134.

That’s good because it just so happens that the Tesla Model 3 is being advertised at a starting price of $35,000. So who needs to even trade in the now-rusty Subaru?

That’s my fanciful 5-year Tesla Plan—which gets you your new Tesla at the same time you are establishing a long-term Billerica real estate investment. Individual tax situations differ, and should be always be referred to a tax professional—but you don’t have to be driving a rattletrap Subaru to benefit from the moral of this story—which is the undeniable financial advantage in store for Billerica renters who make the arithmetic work for them when they choose to become Billerica owners. Also, it’s easy to start: just give me a call!

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
Laer Realty Partners   Joan_Parcewski (1 of 1)

Events that Trigger Buyers for Homes for Sale in Bedford

What are the most common changes in circumstances that send buyers out looking for homes for sale? What are the events that trigger typical prospects to comb through the Bedford listings, contact Bedford Realtors®, set out on house tours—and ultimately make the offer that results in the move to a new home?

The answer to that question may be different for everyone, but some in-depth research has come up with interesting similarities among groups of active homebuyers. It matches a conclusion that also conforms with common sense: namely, that the motivating events (or “triggers”) sometimes vary by age group. In other words, when we humans reach similar milestones in life, we often make the same housing decisions—even though the reasons for a couple of them may be mysterious.

I came across the details buried in a report put out this past spring by economist Lawrence Guo in Realtor magazine. The top line of the piece—the part that got the most attention—dealt with the homeownership goals of active home shoppers. “Privacy” was the leading goal; “physical comfort” was second; “stability,” third. Of the styles of homes for sale, “ranch homes” were the most sought-after; the kitchen was considered the most important room, etc. None of these findings were at all mysterious or unexpected.

But when it came to revealing the impetus for a move in the first place—the life event or changed condition that set people checking out the current crop of homes for sale—a few could definitely be tied to the age group of the prospects. Since more than 20 triggering events were identified—each broken down into five different age groups—the resulting graphic was so complicated that most readers’ eyes probably glazed over before many conclusions could be drawn. Most of the findings were unremarkable—as when youngsters weren’t as likely as oldsters to cite “considering retirement” as a triggering event, or when some events were equally named by all age groups. But some were less predictable:

  • Relocating to a new city: most common among 35-44 year-olds; least among those 55-64.
  • Favorable home prices: most cited by 25-34 year-olds; least (fewer than half of that group) among 35-44 year-olds.
  • Favorable interest rates: most pointed to by 45-54 year-olds; least among the 35-44 year-olds … and equally cited (about 1 in 10) by all the other age groups.
  • Desire to live closer to family/friends: as expected, ‘way more prominently named by the 65+ group.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to ferret out why home prices are most important to the youngest group, but the greater importance of interest rates to the 45-54 group but not the 35-44s? That one will take some thought. Not a surprise is the across-the-board Number One triggering factor among every age group: “tired of current home”!

If you fit in with that extremely common group, right now there are extraordinary values to be had among today’s homes for sale in Bedford. Give me a call to lay out an itinerary for visits to the ones that match up with your own specific wish list requirements!

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
 Laer Realty Partners    Joan_Parcewski (1 of 1)

 

 

Buying Bedford Luxury Homes on a Tight Budget

The content the National Association of Realtors® publishes is usually staid and non-controversial. After all, what they put out there has to ring true for the real estate industry in every nook and cranny of the country: in communities large and small, coast to coast—from Podunk to Peoria, Manhattan to Bedford.

Real estate is, after all, the most massive industry in the country, so you’d expect the Association that represents its professionals to be hyper-cautious in its pronouncements.

So it was eye-widening to come across an article in the Realtor website that was a how-to on buying a luxury home without having to pay a lot of money for it. I’m of the opinion that Bedford luxury homes are more expensive than less-luxurious homes—so I was eager to see what in the world they were talking about.

Surprisingly, they had a point—in fact, several good ones. In truth, the “6 Sneaky Tips for Buying a Luxury Home Without Wads of Cash” are mainly variations on becoming a shrewd shopper, but putting them in one list was a clever way of presenting that idea. And I can add a few more along the same lines for future Bedford luxury home shoppers.

Their six tips started with timing: waiting for the darkest, dankest days of winter, possibly around Christmastime, when few other prospects are out there competing. Then look for evidence of a motivated luxury home seller who has recently reduced price a couple of times. Then see if the motivated seller will finance at least a piece of the mortgage (although this slightly contradicts a previous tip, which was to “make your bid straightforward”).

Both of the last two tips call for disclaimers: to check out foreclosure listings and to be ready to borrow from your retirement funds. The first tip is not “sneaky” at all—but should carry a disclaimer that, as with all foreclosure buys, it’s a good idea to check that the property won’t ultimately involve “wads of cash” to rehabilitate. Likewise, raiding your retirement plan requires the utmost of caution (and probably professional guidance).

A (non-sneaky) tip I would add is to be realistic when budgeting the upkeep costs your Bedford luxury home will generate. Maintaining luxury can be relatively expensive—and allowing it to deteriorate, even more so. Another tip: be patient, and think long term. Be willing to start with a non-luxury home you can improve, and start the process of working your way up. It’s non-sneaky in the extreme—and it’s the way most Bedford luxury home owners wind up luxuriating!

One last tip is equally non-controversial: reach out to an experienced Bedford real estate professional who understands your goals and stands ready to help—not just now, but for the future, as well. Call me to start that process!

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
Laer Realty Partners   Joan_Parcewski (1 of 1)

Housing Opportunity Comes in an Ugly Box

Another great article by guest blogger Kathy Vasel of Sage Bank.  And this goes out not only to the buyers who may be on the fence but also to the sellers.  The same opportunity is out there for you as you will not only be selling your house but more than likely will also be buying one.  This is the time to put your home on the market and make your dreams happen.     Joan Parcewski, Woods Real Estate     joan@woodsre.com    O 978-262-9665   c 978-376-3978

 

Is it really an opportunity now to invest in real estate when it seems to be declining?  Or did you miss the boat?  Those are great questions! You will see why I believe it is still a great investment!  It is not only one of the reasons below but all of them to create this tidal wave of opportunity.   Opportunity doesn’t come in a pretty box with a bow for you to open…it is ugly.  The stars have never been better aligned to buy real estate.  If you wait the opportunity window will close.

Where are the interest rates?  Rates are currently at the lowest level in history.  Let me say that again…rates are at the lowest they have been in history.  Talk to your parents who may have bought their first home with an 18% interest rate.  Do not think the rates will stay where they are forever.  We have been spoiled and this is not reality.  Do not get fooled.  Normally interest rates follow gold prices.  Have you seen the way gold is growing in value?  The Feds are holding rates down which is not normal.   Interest rates are affected by stocks and bonds.  When the stocks decline, bonds improve and interest rates will go up.  The Feds job is to bring inflation to turn the market around.  Inflation helps the government but hurts people.  I predict as a nation the Feds have to have inflation and rates will go up.   The only good thing about inflation for the people is that their home values increase.

Let’s talk about population…there are 310 million people who need a place to live.  They either live in a home, need to buy a home, or rent which will absorb the real estate on the market.  There are approximately 15 million college students.  The normal tracks of life are to graduate, get married, and you guessed it buy a home.   Once they graduate and start buying real estate will soar and bring up values.

Historically, appreciation for real estate is a 6% average.  A great example of appreciation is when Manhattan was sold in the year 1600 for beads and cloth which was equally valued for $24.  If that money was invested into the bank the mathematical calculation with compounded interest would be worth over $200 billion today.  My point is everything appreciates historically even though currently you may not be seeing that appreciation.  So let’s say real estate may only grow in value at 2% to use worst case scenario.   Let’s use this example, if you were to purchase a home today for $100,000 and used $10,000 for a down payment.  With a 2% appreciation growth in that house you gain a $2,000 value.  Since you invested $10,000 that equals a 20% return on your investment.  Are you getting that in your bank account right now?  Not to mention, you will have tax deductions when you buy real estate which increases your wealth and net worth.

Are we at the bottom you might ask?  If the rental for a single family home is at $1,400 per month and you can get a mortgage payment for the same $1,400 per month it is an indication that we are at the bottom.  Oh and by the way, this is absolutely attainable right now.  However, you may be still thinking you want to make sure you get the cheapest purchase price you possibly can and want to still hold out and wait.  Or you may be afraid of overpaying.  If you buy when the market is still going down you are buying right.  Some thoughts you may have are:  I don’t want to settle on this market, I want to buy the cheapest price, I ‘m afraid to over pay.  Fear can turn to greed which may cause you your self inflicted loss.  Do you remember grandparents telling you I wish I bought when?  Don’t let this happen to you.  When the market rebounds and home prices start increasing you will have missed the boat.  When prices increase again that means that it is gone…the market sailed by you.

Are you a follower or a leader?  So here is the real question to think about.  If you are a leader you will do your own research and determine it is without a doubt a remarkable time to buy real estate.  Most leaders make their money when they don’t follow the crowd.  When the crowd starts making purchases it is too late to buy at the lowest level, because everyone is doing it and this causes values to increase.  Remember history repeats itself and what goes down must come up. In 1992 there were many articles written that will make you think you are reading about today’s news.   Do you remember what happened after 1992?  Did we have a real estate boom?

Educate yourself, buy smart…Buy Now!  Go find out about the ugly box of opportunity waiting for you.

Kathy Vasel
Senior Mortgage Consultant
NMLS# 50076
sage bank

 

66 Concord Street, Suite M, Wilmington, MA 01887

 

 

Direct: 978.433.5322
Office: 781.995.3440
Mobile: 978.502.2998
Fax: 781.995.3423
kvasel@sagebank.com

 

How Important is Owner’s Title Insurance?

THE FOLLOWING ARTICLE IS A REPRINT FROM OCTOBER 22, 2011 IN THE LOWELL SUN written by Attorney James Haroutunian (Billerica MA).  With the spring market already off and running and with so many foreclosures out there, this is a reminder to ALL buyers to consider purchasing owner’s title insurance as par t of the closing process on your new home. 

———-

A new chapter unfolds in the foreclosure saga

This week, the commonwealth’s highest court substantiated the long-term negative effect of a defective foreclosure on subsequent owners.

 

Last year, the infamous Ibanez-case ruling identified why foreclosures can be defective if a lender forecloses without proper documentation proving its ownership at the time. This week, the Supreme Judicial Court applied that ruling against a subsequent buyer of a defectively foreclosed property. The ruling effectively stated the new owner’s title is null and void, despite his paying for and improving the property.

 

These are amazing times in property-law history. The Bevilacqua case sets a new precedent for owners seeking proper channels to prove their title through Massachusetts Land Court. Yes, there is a Land Court, which deals primarily with land legal issues.

 

One method the Land Court offers is a lawsuit to “try title.” This action is brought against known or unknown potential adversary parties who may claim to own your land.

 

The tool provides everyone in the world an opportunity to step forward and fight for a claim to your title. Most cases result in default plaintiff victories, when nobody appears to challenge ownership. However, plaintiffs must first prove they own the property.

 

In Bevilacqua, the court ruled the plaintiff had no standing to file the case (i.e., no ownership of the property he paid for), due to a defective foreclosure in its title history. This new case proves a practical effect to the Ibanez ruling. Other big cases are in the court’s pipeline, which will hopefully soon direct the method by which Bevilacqua can clear the title to his property.

.

In the meantime, remember to buy owner’s title insurance when you purchase (or maybe even when you refinance). Take advantage of the protection title insurance provides.

 

THE COST FOR PURCHASING OWNER’S INSURANCE IS MINIMAL COMPARED TO WHAT MIGHT HAPPEN IF YOU DON’T HAVE IT.

5 Next Steps When the Appraisal Comes In Too Low – A Reprint From Trulia

While low appraisals can be particularly potent deal killers, their danger to your deal can be neutralized in some cases. If you find yourself facing an appraisal lower than the sale price in the contract, add these five steps to your immediate action plan.
1. Appeal errors or bad comps to the appraiser. Read the entire appraisal report, cover to cover. See if you spot any errors – it’s not at all unheard of for an appraisal report to miss a bedroom or underreport the home’s square footage. The trouble is that what starts out as a clerical error can often result in the application of the wrong “comparables” when it comes time for the appraiser to pick the properties to use as benchmarks of your home’s fair market value.

Whether or not you find actual errors in the details about the home you’re buying or selling, check in with your agent about whether the comparable properties used by the appraiser were reasonable, especially if they are from a different neighborhood, school district, town or construction era than the home you’re trying to buy or you are aware that much more similar or nearby homes have been sold in recent times than the comparable properties you see in the appraisal.
In my town, for example, within a half-mile radius you can find vast variations in property values based on neighborhood and schools and city limits that change almost imperceptibly. Changes in the mortgage industry over the last few years have created situations in which appraisers are sometimes assigned who have little or no familiarity with these hyperlocal types of nuances which you, as a party to the transaction, might be more readily able to detect and appreciate.

If you find errors or feel that there are much more comparable recent sales that justify a higher price for the property, work with your agent to send the correct information and the applicable comps you would propose to your mortgage professional, who can relay that information to the appraiser or Appraisal Management Company and request that the appraiser revise their report and estimate of value. The appraiser has no obligation to make the change, but the more glaring the error, the more likely it is that they will.
2. Ask for a second opinion. Particularly in cases of error or bad comps, if the appraiser ignores your request to revise the report, you might need to escalate your request to the lender itself. Here’s where it’s important to be working with an expert agent and mortgage pro with a great reputation; if they believe strongly in your case, they may be able to plead it to the underwriter and request that a second appraisal be done. The idea here is that if the second appraisal backs up your arguments, listing the correct property details or more accurate comparables, the lender is much more likely to exercise its discretion to deem the first one a dud and go with the second opinion.
3.  Renegotiate.Low appraisals disappoint everyone around the negotiating table. If the sellers have the leeway (read: equity) or their bank agrees (in short sales), they might agree to bring the price down to the appraised value or near enough that the buyer feels comfortable putting some extra cash into the deal to close the purchase price-to-appraised price gap.  Some buyers refuse to ever do this on general principal, as they feel like it’s overpaying for the property.  Others realize that appraisals may come in low for reasons less indicative of the property’s value, like a dearth of comparable sales in the area, and figure that to get the home they want, they’re willing to kick in a little extra dough.

Of course, ‘little’ is relative, and neither position is right or wrong for everyone.

And the decision for sellers is just as personal. When the differential between the purchase price and the appraised value is small, it can seem like a no-brainer to bring the price down if mortgage considerations allow, but it can also seem sensible to request the buyer to make up such a small difference – especially in markets where properties are getting multiple offers.  On the other end of the spectrum, when the differential is big, it is less likely that the buyer will want to come up with the cash to close the gap, and also less likely another buyer will come along and offer the appraised price.

You would think these things would make a seller more willing to slash the price where the gap is big, but it also may make their moving plans less feasible, and tempt them to stay put and wait on the market to be more active and bear better comps.

Work with your agent to figure out what re-bargaining position really works for you.

If you do find yourself renegotiating price due to a low appraisal, remember that this is real estate, so everything is back on the table. For example, when the appraisal gap is only $1,000, a buyer might be willing to close the gap if the seller agrees to leave the lawn mower and do some small repairs.
4. Pay the difference or split the difference. On the flip side of renegotiating is reconsidering your personal position. If you’ve been house hunting for two years, forgoing low rates and the tax and lifestyle advantages of owning your home, and you’ve finally found ‘the one’ – in great condition, not a short sale, perfect location – you might think long and hard about whether you are willing to pay the difference between a low appraisal and the purchase price. This is especially so when the gap is small and you have the cash, or when you know the seller is barely breaking even on the deal or has offered to split the difference with you, or the short sale bank refuses to go any lower.

And sellers, this goes for you, too: if you’re committed to trying to close the deal, it behooves you to consider whether you can reduce the price on the home. Consider that in some states and loan situations, a low appraisal report in a deal that dies may become a disclosure the seller must provide to future buyers (ask your agent whether this will apply to you). The fact is, if you don’t agree to a price reduction of some sort, the buyer could very well walk, limiting your options to selling at a lower price, doing a short sale or staying put anyway.
5. Change lenders. Mortgage banks have more control when it comes to choosing appraisers than mortgage brokers do. (Fortunately, many experienced local mortgage brokers work for companies that also have banking divisions, and may be able to process your loan through that division in an effort to get your transaction a fresh start and work around a low appraisal.  Ask your mortgage broker if their office has a banking division, if you’re not sure.)

Mortgage brokers are no longer able to hand-pick appraisers for a given transaction like they once could, but unlike broker-only firms (who are forced to work through a middleman company that may pay a cut rate, attracting less experienced appraisers), mortgage banks and hybrid broker-bankers are allowed to pick the set of people included on their own short list of appraisers. I’ve found that lenders use this short list for good much more often than to try to exert any sort of inappropriate influence.

My experience has been that, when compared with the appraisers national lenders and the middleman companies put to work on brokered transactions, small mortgage banks and local, hybrid broker-bankers tend to fill their lists with appraisers who have more local experience and can appreciate the uber-important local nuances like those described in #1, above

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