Posts Tagged ‘Billerica’

Eclipse in Billerica: 99 Years in the Making, but…

By the beginning of Billerica’s new week, Monday’s eclipse had been so thoroughly chronicled as having been “99 years in the making!” you could be forgiven for any anxiety that might result if you’d been unable to arrange to be where viewing was best. After all, we’ve been hearing from all corners that such an event doesn’t always happen within any given lifetime, for goodness sake! The undeniable takeaway was it’s now or never! Better have those proper viewing glasses at the ready, and get yourself over to where the cloud cover isn’t.

This is not to minimize the grandeur of the occasion. We may be treated to lunar eclipses from time to time—but a solar eclipse interrupts the natural order of things with its literally show-stopping astronomical spectacle. Anyone who has been tempted to fly off to a foreign venue to view one (they happen twice a year, somewhere on the planet) too often learns that it’s also risky business, meteorologically speaking. I recall a news item from a couple of years back about a tour group that set off for South America—where it clouded over five minutes before the event. If you were one of those crestfallen tourists, you’d have returned with little more to show for your expensive effort than a llama snapshot or two.

But in case you were one of the few Billerica locals whose Billerica eclipse experience turns out to be less than stellar, the pressure is off! Although it’s been 99 years since the last total eclipse crossed the mainland, there’s going to be another one, and soon (relatively speaking). You won’t have to wait until 2116, either.

It’s due only seven years from now!

In other words, on April 8, 2024, Billerica residents will have a second chance. The whole once-in-a-lifetime spectacular will have a return engagement. Not since Cher’s most recent retirement tour has such a déjà vu opportunity been in prospect.

The path will be quite different—southwest to northeast instead of northwest to southeast—so the Massachusetts and Billerica experience will be different—but since we will all be solar eclipse veterans, we should be well prepared for the experience. So let’s hang onto our eclipse viewing glasses—or if we never found any for sale, we’ve got nine years to correct the oversight.

In the intervening nine years, whenever any of the more terrestrial Billerica real estate matters arise, I hope you’ll 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 PartnersJoan_Parcewski (1 of 1)

 

 

 

Billerica Mortgage Rates: Perception and Reality

Billerica mortgage rates have been so low for such a long time that it would be surprising if area buyers didn’t begin to take them for granted. It’s only human nature. Addressing would-be home buyers who, though qualified, remain on the sidelines, government-sponsored Freddie Mac headlined the question, “If Housing Is So Affordable, Why Doesn’t It Feel That Way?

The article appeared in Freddie Mac’s Insight publication which noted that right now housing isn’t just affordable—it’s “near record” affordable! HUD’s Housing Affordability Index has been rising for over 35 years, interrupted only briefly by the housing crisis of the mid-2000s. It hasn’t quite sustained the all-time affordability peak but is holding steady well within hailing distance of that 2012 record.

Billerica mortgage rates have cooperated nicely, continuing to go with the national herd. For 30-year fixed-rate mortgages, U.S. rates averaged 3.90%—down even further from the previous week’s 3.93%. Of course, the 15-year and adjustable rate offerings were even lower.

With that kind of good news, why do the media report “affordability issues” (Mortgage Daily News) and even an “affordability crisis” (PBS)? The answers dwell in both perception and in some underlying realities.

There’s definitely reality in the widespread phenomenon of a shortage of housing supply. Billerica listings may show a number of properties being offered, but the national number of homes up for sale remains “very tight.” The echoes from 2009, when new housing starts hit rock bottom, are still having an effect. In that year, housing starts barely equaled a third of the previous averages. Even though current construction levels are nearly back to normal, they’ve yet to make up for that shortfall.

Less real is the public perception of how much cash is needed for a down payment. Billerica mortgage rates may be tantalizingly low, but when potential local applicants “mistakenly believe they must have a 20% down payment to obtain a mortgage,” the result is a number of otherwise-qualified buyers who don’t know that more than half of today’s borrowers make smaller down payments.

Not mentioned in the Insight article is another psychological factor that could explain two things at once. In The New York Times’ “Politics” section, a commentary sought to explain why the Federal Reserve wasn’t acting to boost interest rates. According to the author, the cause lay with inflation rates, which remain low—“and that’s a problem” for Fed rate-makers. The reason higher inflation would be a good thing (despite common sense) is that it makes consumers feel good when their paychecks go up. “A little inflation can brighten the economic mood…people enjoy the illusion.”

The upshot here may be that even though today’s extraordinarily low Billerica mortgage rates create actual affordability, some well-qualified customers may feel safer staying on the sidelines until the economy starts generating go-go economy headlines. It’s an ironic reality that by the time those headlines materialize, actual affordability might have already begun to slip away.

If you’ve been mulling the wisdom of your own Billerica home acquisition, let me show you some great properties…and some great numbers!

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)

 

 

 

Buyer’s Remorse, Billerica Mortgage Rates, and Summertime

Mortgage rates in Billerica remained mostly steady this past month, at least partially due to the predictable July-August doldrum effect. When the summertime vacation schedules of Washington and Manhattan movers and shakers presages a slowdown in activity and economic reports, there is simply less going on that might affect the rate meter—in either direction.

Summertime can also mark the beginning of a nationwide tapering off of real estate’s peak selling season. With the added factor of mortgage rates in (town) looking as if they will remain invitingly low for the near future, fear of a sudden rate rise is ebbing as well. It’s the kind of  apprehension that can spur some buyers into feeling the need to scoop up some of Billerica’s current inventory with less than due diligence, so that’s a positive development—especially if a new report from Trulia is accurate.

Trulia’s report highlighted the importance of careful deliberation for new buyers. A wide-ranging poll registered the startling fact that nearly half of Americans are willing to express some form of buyer’s remorse about their home soon after purchase.

Trulia found the top regret came in not choosing the right sized home. The lion’s share belonged to the third of homeowners who wished they’d bought a larger place. This might have been expected among those whose budgets wouldn’t accommodate a “dream home” property, yet even among Americans earning $100,000 or more, according to the study, 16% regretted having bought a home that was proving too small for their liking.

The takeaway is simple: if you are thinking of buying in the near future, allowing any outside factors (including Billerica mortgage rates) to push you into a home that isn’t right for you and your family can have an immediate downside. Buying a home is definitely a venture that rewards cool reflection…even when a potential dream home is in on the horizon.

At least for the moment, mortgage rates in (town) remain at historically affordable levels.  If you’re looking to buy this year, be sure to keep your “must have” list handy as you assess the emerging inventory. Better still, when you give me a call, I’ll be happy to turn my professional efforts to helping with the monitoring effort. I’m here all summer standing by!

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

 

Top 3 Ways Billerica Homes Could Save on Insurance

For most area homeowners, the 110-decibel wail of nearby fire engines may not be a sought-after feature when selecting the ideal neighborhood.

Nonetheless, according to The Wall Street Journal, living close to firehouse has its advantages. Safety is one. A reduction in your homeowner’s insurance bill, another.

Not all homes in Billerica can have the advantage of being next door to a firehouse, but just about everybody knows that having the proper insurance is important to protect not only the structure itself but also the valuables within. Here are three possible actions you could take this month, any or all of which might reduce the cost of your homeowner’s insurance premium:

Shop Around – We are much more likely to spend our time “liking” dancing cat photos on social media annually than in planning advanced insurance plan strategies. Nonetheless, a visit to the website of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners can help identify important nuances when selecting a vendor. Example: review complaints.

Reduce Coverages – Most people insure their homes for the full amount they paid at the time of purchase. If you bought your home in Billerica for $450k, you automatically insured it for that amount. But in the event of a loss event like a fire, you don’t necessarily need the full purchase price to rebuild the property—remember, that purchase price included the cost of the land. This idea should be weighed realistically against today’s costs. Take care not to go light on the replacement cost of your belongings (many folks do). A new inventory can help in that department.

Just Ask! – While discounts vary with each insurer, the following details might qualify your home in Billerica for a discount if you just go ahead and inquire:

  • Multi-policies with the same company.
  • Length of time with the same company.
  • A smoke detector or sprinkler system.
  • An alarm system, deadbolt locks, or other security measures.
  • You have not made a claim in recent history.
  • Your household doesn’t include smokers.
  • You qualify for a senior discount.
  • Your credit score has improved.

While not all of us are willing to move next door to a firehouse to save on our home insurance, there are multiple ways to whittle down policy premiums. I’m here as a resource for your Billerica property-related questions anytime: 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
Joan_Parcewski (1 of 1)    Laer Realty Partners

 

 

Joan Parcewski – Realtor Neighborhood Ambassador

Wouldn’t you want to get to know the realtor who has taken the time to get to know the businesses, organizations, people in the local neighborhood?

I am very excited to announce that I have committed to become the neighborhood ambassador for both Bedford and Billerica.  It not only is an opportunity for me to get to know more about each of these towns -their history, their residents, the local businesses (large and small), events, news and more.

Living in any town is more than just the home you live in, it is the possibilities of how you can get involved – in town meetings, on a local committee, as a volunteer at your child’s school.

Check out either Parkbench.com/Bedford  OR   Parkbench.com/Billerica – and subscribe to get automatic updates  or keep checking back –  The sites are updated regularly.  Here is a quick link to a recent blog post

https://parkbench.com/blog/griggs-farm-farmers-market-bedford-billy-griggs

https://parkbench.com/blog/growin-minds-preschool-day-cares-billerica-carolina-mango

 

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)

Again, Robotic Real Estate Estimates Run into Trouble

There’s news on the real estate value estimating front (robotic version).

For any kind of Billerica real estate activity—whether you are buying or selling; financing or refinancing; whether for your family residence or as an investment—there are at least two value estimation figures that determine how the Billerica transaction is likely to fare.

The first is a value estimate that you come up with: a dollar amount that reflects what the subject property is worth to you. That’s a calculation likely to be based on some mix of the property’s features, your own personal tastes, and your financial profile and outlook. If I’m your Realtor®, it will also be greatly influenced by the research I prepare for you: the real-world values of all the latest comparable transactions that have been taking place locally—along with the asking prices of similar properties.

That figure is one thing, but the second kind is an actual appraisal—the estimate that lenders use as the collateral value for the Billerica property. That estimate is the one a professional appraiser calculates using guidelines and formulas that have been painstakingly developed over time. It’s fortuitous when the first number comes close to the professional estimate—and I’m happy to say that it’s often the case.

But since 2006 there has been a third kind of Billerica real estate value estimate—one that’s increasingly mentioned in news of real estate controversies. This is the “Zestimate” offered by the website data company Zillow: a number that is arrived at via an automated system that assembles publicly available data. It’s stated purpose is “to aid potential buyers in assessing market value of a given property.” Unlike the painstaking reports that certified assessors create for a fee, Zestimates are widely disseminated to everyone for free. There is one problem, which I’ve mentioned before: the figures may be misleading.

Although Zillow claims an “incredibly low” national median error rate of 5%, last June they hailed a new improved algorithm that dropped the rate to 6.1%” [that’s not a typo: 6.1% is indeed a larger error rate than the still-claimed 5%]. Worse yet, research shows that in 10% of the cases examined, the error was 20% plus or minus…so a home with an actual fair market value of $300,000 could show a Zestimate of anywhere from $240,000 to $360,000!

Given that possibility, it’s probably no wonder that Zillow has announced a $1 million prize “to the person or team who can most improve the Zestimate” formula. MarketWatch points out that the contest was announced “just a week after a class action suit was filed against them” for offering unlicensed appraisals that hurt business—but the company claims the timing is just a coincidence.

Billerica real estate buyers and sellers will undoubtedly continue to be amused by those Zestimates when they see them, but the more knowledgeable keep in mind that they can constitute eye-rolling mistakes. When your own Billerica real world real estate affairs are in the offing, better to give me a call for information that won’t include any misleading automated miscalculations.

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)

 

 

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