Posts Tagged ‘Joan Parcewski’

Four Tips for Burlington Homeowners Bracing for Winter

Officially, it may not be winter in Burlington yet, but the end of November is more than a signal to turn to the last page in 2017’s calendar. It’s definitely time for Burlington residents to secure their domiciles against the mercury drops Mother Nature will be providing sooner or later.

Even in places where a November heat wave makes it hard to focus on the inevitable onslaught of chilly weather, there are some household winter preparation tips that apply equally to all areas of the country. Here are four tips to benefit just about every Burlington household:

  1. Tune up the heating system. Instead of hoping that the heat pump or furnace will make it through another year on its own, a preventive tune-up will result in lower fuel bills all winter—not to mention saving you from becoming 15th in the repair line when it fails on the coldest night of the year (when else would that happen?).
  2. Check the “overhead” (that is, the roof, gutters, vents, and chimney). Clearing leaves, pine needles or anything else up there can reveal spots vulnerable to leaks—or breaks in flashing seals. Water damage is much more costly to correct than are small-area roofing fixes.
  3. Mow any remaining leaves. If your yard still has leaves, mow rather than rake them. University studies have proved that leaves cut into dime-sized pieces (which takes several passes) will settle among the grass blades, nourishing them throughout the winter.
  4. Eliminate drafts. Every winter, Burlington homeowners lose truly astonishing amounts of heat due to air leaks. In addition to testing windows for rattles and door jams for gaps, the Department of Energy recommends an exterior walk-around to inspect all areas where two different building materials meet. With a caulk gun handy, also check cable and phone line entrances and where dryer vents pass through walls.

Based on a prediction for low sunspot activity, this year’s Farmers Almanac calls for a chilly winter—while NOAA concentrates on the 70% chance for a La Nina (which might bring normal precipitation except in the drier South).

In other words, Burlington’s winter weather outlook is anybody’s guess.

The foolproof solution is, as always, to be well prepared. In addition to anxiety relief, a side benefit of a consistently well-maintained home becomes evident when you put it up for sale—which is also when you should give me a call!

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

 

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

 

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)

 

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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Top 4 Post-Labor Day House Hunting Changes

A while back, Forbes noted what they called “The Four Ways the Real Estate Market Changes” after Labor Day. The article recognized a truism that holds for most parts of Massachusetts—namely, that the period between Labor Day and Thanksgiving is what most of us think of as “fall.” It went on to describe four ways the change of seasons alters the house hunting landscape.

Although I may not agree entirely with their broad brush proposition that a great number of house hunters throw in the towel after Labor Day, the four market changes described are often true enough.

  1. More of a buyer’s market. Buyers who have held off through the prime selling seasons are more apt to find sellers who are more open to negotiation.
  2. Action increases for vacation homes. This is prime time for Billerica home shoppers whose eyes are on vacation homes. By purchasing in the fall, “you can have it bought and furnished by spring.”
  3. Price dips. House hunters find that asking prices, like the autumn leaves, fall. Forbes may have simply been unable to resist the simile, but in many cases, it’s true!
  4. Open-ended house hunting. Time pressures (like having to be moved in by the first day of school) will have vanished by Labor Day, so many Billerica house hunters tend to adopt a more leisurely house hunting attitude. There may also be something about crisp autumn days (and they’ll be here soon enough) that helps contribute to a more relaxed atmosphere—at least until the Holidays loom!

Every Billerica house hunter has specific individual goals and expectations—and of course, the same is true for sellers, as well. But it does seem to be true that post-Labor Day Billerica listings tend to include an uptick in price reductions—as well as some withdrawals that, as Forbes might have it, “will sprout anew” come springtime.

If your busy summer included activities and travel that kept you fully occupied, now may be an opportune time to inaugurate your own Billerica  house hunting venture. If so, do give me a call!

Joan Parcewski, Realtor & Notary

LAER Realty Partners        www.JoanParcewski.LAERRealty.com

JParcewski@LAERRealty.com   c  978-376-3978

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Bedford Asking Prices Can’t Beat this Week’s $10 Example

It’s true that today’s Bedford asking prices fall into a wide range—occasionally even at temptingly reduced levels. But last week came news of one that I have to admit beat them all by a mile (at least regarding the asking price). This was found in Montclair, New Jersey. CBS interviewed the selling agent. Money Magazine wrote it up. The NAR highlighted it.

Photos made the offering all the more interesting since the asking price was so low—yet the pictures were not, as any well-schooled real estate watcher would have expected, fuzzy images of some run down dump. The shots all showed a pristine historical (1904) 4-bedroom, 2-bath beauty, seemingly presiding in stately repose over well-manicured grounds. It looked like, well—a mansion.

The asking price is $10.

For those budget-minded Bedford home shoppers who would never consider making a first offer at full asking price, in this instance, you might make an exception. Since the current asking price has already been reduced from $1,400,000, you have to expect that the owner will probably not be willing to come down much further. The $10 is probably a take-it-or-leave-it number.

But lest any Bedford house hunters think about packing their bags for the trip to Montclair for a tour of the property, it’s only fair to elaborate on what anyone would already be assuming: namely, that there must be a few problems.

Local house hunters will appreciate the first problem, which is location. The house not only isn’t in Bedford, but it’s also currently sited on land that has been sold to a developer. It has to be moved. Moving a three-story 3,912 sq. ft. structure of this size is an expensive undertaking. Although the current owner is offering to contribute $10,000 toward solving that problem, anyone who has ever overseen this kind of house-moving project knows that the details (digging up the foundation, wedging in all the I-beams, jacking up the structure, getting it up on the trailer beds, etc.) comprise a pricey, open-ended proposition.

Local house hunters would encounter another problem, which is that, as a historically significant local landmark, the powers-that-be in Montclair have made it clear that the mansion won’t be allowed to be moved beyond the city limits. So transplanting it to anywhere in Bedford isn’t a possibility. Another problem: having been designated an historical monument, the home will have to be treated tenderly by its new owner. “Handle like eggs” might be the watchword. That could prove as tricky as trucking it off to its new Montclair destination.

Fortunately, the current batch of area listings offers buyers Bedford asking prices that may be a bit steeper, but represent opportunities with significantly fewer complications. They may carry asking prices less head-turning than the $10 listing, but when you consider the big picture, they constitute significantly better bargains. Call for details!

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

Long Term Strategic Thinking for Selling Your Burlington Home

Selling your Burlington home is never something you do on a whim. There can be rare situations when the decision to sell is a sudden one that’s forced by unexpected life circumstances (favorable or not)—but selling your Burlington home is not likely to be the result of some sudden impulse.

Since that’s the case, it follows that most of us will have been aware for some time that we will be selling sooner or later. That gives us some leeway for improving the ultimate results we can expect when an eventual sale takes place. Thinking about that, and acting upon it, constitutes a strategic advantage.

The tactics for selling your Burlington home will vary when the day comes, depending on market conditions, what comparable properties are the most sought-after at the time, etc. Such factors are somewhat unpredictable. But tactics and strategy are different. Strategy can start anytime. It can start right now!

Here’s an example I came across in an old blog post. Instead of discussing selling your Burlington home, it dealt with the kind of decision investors make when they are rehabilitating investment properties they intend to rent out. Landlords know there are good tenants and bad tenants, so their best strategy is to develop a property that will retain maximum value in either case. An example is a decision they sometimes have to make when they’ve acquired a home that calls for some rehabbing: should they install carpeting or hardwood flooring?

Most experienced investors tend to go with the hardwood. Not only does it stand up better when it comes to regular wear and tear—it also signals quality to most people. That is also true for carpeting when it’s newly installed, but over time, the effect is lost. A scratched hardwood floor can be refinished, but worn carpeting is a start-over situation. It’s a strategic choice.

When the day arrives when selling your Burlington home becomes reality, if you have been making similar long-term strategic decisions all along, the results will be rewarding. Preparing for sale will not only require much less effort and expense—it has every likelihood of returning the results every seller hopes for.

Whether selling your own Burlington home is an immediate or distant prospect, you are always invited to give me a call to discuss any of your own ideas and questions when it comes to any and all Burlington real estate matters. I’ll be 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
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