Blog :: 01-2015

Looking to buy in 2015? Home Buying Tips To Get You Started!

8 Tips for Finding Your New Home

A solid game plan can help you narrow your homebuying search to find the best home for you.
House hunting is just like any other shopping expedition. If you identify exactly what you want and do some research, you'll zoom in on the home you want at the best price. These eight tips will guide you through a smart homebuying process.

1.  Know thyself.

Understand the type of home that suits your personality. Do you prefer a new or existing home? A ranch or a multistory home? If you're leaning toward a fixer-upper, are you truly handy, or will you need to budget for contractors?

2.  Research before you look.

List the features you most want in a home and identify which are necessities and which are extras. Identify three to four neighborhoods you'd like to live in based on commute time, schools, recreation, crime, and price. Then hop onto REALTOR.com to get a feel for the homes available in your price range in your favorite neighborhoods. Use the results to prioritize your wants and needs so you can add in and weed out properties from the inventory you'd like to view.

3.  Get your finances in order.

Generally, lenders say you can afford a home priced two to three times your gross income. Create a budget so you know how much you're comfortable spending each month on housing. Don't wait until you've found a home and made an offer to investigate financing.

Gather your financial records and meet with a lender to get a prequalification letter spelling out how much you're eligible to borrow. The lender won't necessarily consider the extra fees you'll pay when you purchase or your plans to begin a family or purchase a new car, so shop in a price range you're comfortable with. Also, presenting an offer contingent on financing will make your bid less attractive to sellers.

4.  Set a moving timeline.

Do you have blemishes on your credit that will take time to clear up? If you already own, have you sold your current home? If not, you'll need to factor in the time needed to sell. If you rent, when is your lease up? Do you expect interest rates to jump anytime soon? All these factors will affect your buying, closing, and moving timelines.

5.  Think long term.

Your future plans may dictate the type of home you'll buy. Are you looking for a starter house with plans to move up in a few years, or do you hope to stay in the home for five to 10 years? With a starter, you may need to adjust your expectations. If you plan to nest, be sure your priority list helps you identify a home you'll still love years from now.

6.  Work with a REALTOR®.

Ask people you trust for referrals to a real estate professional they trust. Interview agents to determine which have expertise in the neighborhoods and type of homes you're interested in. Because homebuying triggers many emotions, consider whether an agent's style meshes with your personality.

Also ask if the agent specializes in buyer representation. Unlike listing agents, whose first duty is to the seller, buyers' reps work only for you even though they're typically paid by the seller. Finally, check whether agents are REALTORS®, which means they're members of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®. NAR has been a champion of homeownership rights for more than a century.

7.  Be realistic.

It's OK to be picky about the home and neighborhood you want, but don't be close-minded, unrealistic, or blinded by minor imperfections. If you insist on living in a cul-de-sac, you may miss out on great homes on streets that are just as quiet and secluded.

On the flip side, don't be so swayed by a "wow" feature that you forget about other issues -- like noise levels -- that can have a big impact on your quality of life. Use your priority list to evaluate each property, remembering there's no such thing as the perfect home.

8.  Limit the opinions you solicit.

It's natural to seek reassurance when making a big financial decision. But you know that saying about too many cooks in the kitchen. If you need a second opinion, select one or two people. But remain true to your list of wants and needs so the final decision is based on criteria you've identified as important.


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2014 Real Estate Final Numbers - Franklin and Hampshire County of Pioneer Valley, Ma

The real estate market ended up on a positive note!! 
The pioneer valley region, the number of single-family homes sold across the Pioneer Valley rose by just six-tenths of a percentage point in 2014, but the median price was up 2.7 percent.

There were 4,655 homes sold in 2013 and 4,686 in 2014, according to year-end statistics released this week by the Realtor Association of Pioneer Valley.
Franklin & Hampshire County:
  • In Hampshire County, sales were down 4.4 percent from 1,106 in 2013 to 1,057 in 2014. The median price rose 4 percent from $250,000 to $260,000.
  • In Franklin County, sales were up 18.1 percent for the year from 454 in 2013 to 536 in 2014. The price remained the same at $185,000.
  • Sales were up in six of the past 12 months.
  • The median price was up in 10 of the last 12 months.
  • Inventory rose 0.9 percent from 1,956 single-family homes on sale at the end of 2013 to 1,973 at the end of 2014.
  • Long term, the median price is up 4 percent in six years. It was $185,000 in 2008.
  • Days on the market were up 3.3 percent to an average of 125 days on the market for a home for sale at the end of 2014.

This information provided by Realtor Association of Pioneer Valley.

Do Your Homework Before You Buy a Home!

7 Steps to Take Before You Buy a Home

By doing your homework before you buy, you'll feel more content about your new home.
Most potential homebuyers are a smidge daunted by the fact that they're about to agree to a hefty mortgage that they'll be paying for the next few decades. The best way to relieve that anxiety is to be confident you're purchasing the best home at a price you can afford with the most favorable financing. These seven steps will help you make smart decisions about your biggest purchase.

1.  Decide how much home you can afford.

Generally, you can afford a home priced two to three times your gross income. Remember to consider costs every homeowner must cover: property taxes, insurance, maintenance, utilities, and community association fees, if applicable, as well as costs specific to your family, such as day care if you plan to have children.

2.  Develop your home wish list.

Be honest about which features you must have and which you'd like to have. Handicap accessibility for an aging parent or special needs child is a must. Granite countertops and stainless steel appliances are in the bonus category. Come up with your top five must-haves and top five wants to help you focus your search and make a logical, rather than emotional, choice when home shopping.

3.  Select where you want to live.

Make a list of your top five community priorities, such as commute time, schools, and recreational facilities. Ask your REALTOR® to help you identify three to four target neighborhoods based on your priorities.

4.  Start saving.

Have you saved enough money to qualify for a mortgage and cover your downpayment? Ideally, you should have 20% of the purchase price set aside for a downpayment, but some lenders allow as little as 5% down. A small downpayment preserves your savings for emergencies.

However, the lower your downpayment, the higher the loan amount you'll need to qualify for, and if you still qualify, the higher your monthly payment. Your downpayment size can also influence your interest rate and the type of loan you can get.

Finally, if your downpayment is less than 20%, you'll be required to purchase private mortgage insurance. Depending on the size of your loan, PMI can add hundreds to your monthly payment. Check with your state and local government for mortgage and downpayment assistance programs for first-time buyers.

5.  Ask about all the costs before you sign.

A downpayment is just one homebuying cost. Your REALTOR® can tell you what other costs buyers commonly pay in your area -- including home inspections, attorneys' fees, and transfer fees of 2% to 7% of the home price. Tally up the extras you'll also want to buy after you move-in, such as window coverings and patio furniture for your new yard.

6.  Get your credit in order.

A credit report details your borrowing history, including any late payments and bad debts, and typically includes a credit score. Lenders lean heavily on your credit report and credit score in determining whether, how much, and at what interest rate to lend for a home. The minimum credit score you can have to qualify for a loan depends on many factors, including the size of your downpayment. Talk to a REALTOR® or lender about your particular circumstance.

You're entitled to free copies of your credit reports annually from the major credit bureaus: EquifaxExperian, and TransUnion. Order and then pore over them to ensure the information is accurate, and try to correct any errors before you buy. If your credit score isn't up to snuff, the easiest ways to improve it are to pay every bill on time and pay down high credit card debt.

7.  Get prequalified.

Meet with a lender to get a prequalification letter that says how much house you're qualified to buy. Start gathering the paperwork your lender says it needs. Most want to see W-2 forms verifying your employment and income, copies of pay stubs, and two to four months of banking statements.

If you're self-employed, you'll need your current profit and loss statement, a current balance sheet, and personal and business income tax returns for the previous two years.

Consider your financing options. The longer the loan, the smaller your monthly payment. Fixed-rate mortgages offer payment certainty; an adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) offers a lower monthly payment. However, an adjustable-rate mortgage may adjust dramatically. Be sure to calculate your affordability at both the lowest and highest possible ARM rate.

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Historic Stearn Brothers Built 1845 Antique Home For Sale in Northfield, Ma

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This exquisite antique home was built in 1845 by prominent builders, the Stearn Brothers. The famous carpenters are known for their quality craftsmanship and attention to detail which is evident as you tour this special home. The spacious interior is light & bright featuring period details including beautiful wide pine floors, a gracious staircase and foyer, and custom woodwork. The first floor has a country style eat-in kitchen with pantry & Bosch appliances, dining room, double parlors w/woodstove, office/bedroom and 1/2 bath. The second floor has 3 bedrooms, full bath, spacious closets & built-ins along w/ plumbing for an additional bathroom. It is perfectly sited for southern exposure and on a corner lot located along the picturesque Main St. of Northfield. The grounds have lovely perennial gardens, fruit trees, and a sitting area with water feature. Conveniently located, not far from the charming downtown and near many historic homes! This antique treasure must be seen in person. $278,000

Looking to Farm? 20 Acres with Barns in Charlemont Mass

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This 20 acre farm was once a successful cheese making operation and is ready for you to bring it back to where it once was.  The large 2-story Barn has a retail store area, walk-in cooler, buderus heating system with panel radiators, spray foam insulation, several stalls and an abundance of storage.  The second post and beam barn has box stalls, hayloft and plenty of storage.   The antique home does need work but has all the room you would need.  It has an in-law apartment with kitchen, living room, 2 full baths, and a bedroom.  The main part of the home has a kitchen, dining room, living room with woodstove, office, 2 full baths, and 4 bedrooms.  The 20 acres has open paddock areas and it abuts the Mill Brook.  This property is located less than 5 minutes from the center of Charlemont and near many recreational activities.   It is a great opportunity for someone who wants to farm and have a home based business.  Come take a look! $259,900