5 Reasons to Use a Boston Area Home Selling Expert

Real estate agents are experts at Boston area home selling. If you’re in the market for a home, it’s always best to work with a professional. Although we never work for sellers or list property for sale and always represent home buyers only, we know and can find the very best listing agents anywhere to help you with selling your home. Here are five important reasons to work with a real estate professional.

Boston Area Home Selling: Why Use an Agent?

Boston area home selling can be difficult - here's why you need to use an expert

A real estate agent is a licensed professional — trained and dedicated to the legal principles of the profession in the state in which the license is issued.

An experienced, knowledgeable real estate agent is equipped to navigate the Boston area home selling journey. Often their experience and personal relationships make them invaluable in keeping sellers focused on the end result — selling your home to the most qualified buyer at the best price.

Real estate agents know the market and can offer price guidance. An agent worth his or her salt can discuss market conditions that will ultimately affect the Boston area home selling process. They know the average square footage costs of comparable homes, what’s sold and for how much, and how long various homes stayed on the market.

A good real estate agent is a savvy negotiator working on behalf of the client to achieve the highest level of satisfaction. The most successful agents are those that rely on referrals from satisfied clients. As such, doing a good job for their Boston area home selling clients may produce future prospects.

Real estate agents are promoters. An effective real estate professional formulates and implements an overall marketing plan for the sale of your home. By ensuring that potential buyers are pre-qualified and are serious prospects, your real estate agent can reduce the number of “tire-kickers” or less-qualified purchasers that may consume time during the Boston area home selling process.

In today’s home selling market, using the services of an experienced real estate professional can be one of the smartest moves you can make.

See more articles pertaining to Boston area home selling in the Boston Home Selling Tips section of our site below Boston Real Estate Categories in the column to your right.

Remember, we also post tips daily on Twitter and Facebook. Check us out there too.

Boston Area Home Improvement Tips for the Holidays

Boston area home improvement projects can be inexpensive, fun and timely — especially now as the holiday season approaches. You can give your home a minor makeover just in time for the first waves of guests or family you may plan to entertain. Let’s look at a few simple “spruce-ups” that will make the holidays even more festive.

Easy Boston Area Home Improvement Ideas

An easy Boston area home improvement could be to paint, re-finish, or replace your front door.

The best welcome starts at your front door. You can make a tired and worn out front entry door look warm and inviting. Replacing or repainting it can really change your home’s appearance. Adding a festive wreath with a colorful bow is a nice touch. Pay attention to your landscaping. Often it’s the first thing a visitor sees from the road. Enhance your home’s curb appeal by trimming hedges, pruning trees, raking leaves and edging around flower beds.

Cosmetics for your powder room. One of the least expensive Boston area home improvement jobs you can perform is giving your bathroom a little facelift. Replace old cabinet or vanity hardware. Add a new mirror, lighting or upgrade your faucet. Even adding new towels and accessories will give a tired bathroom new life. For a little more money you can replace your toilet with a new, more efficient water-saving model.

Paint the town… or, at least, a room or accent wall. Nothing makes a dull, dingy-looking wall look better than a fresh coat of paint. Sometimes just painting one or two accent walls in a room is all that’s needed. Use an off-white, neutral color. An interior latex eggshell or flat paint will mask minor irregularities or blemishes better than glossy paint. Best of all, this is one Boston area home improvement task you and your spouse can complete in a few hours over a weekend.

Cut through the clutter and clean up the mess. We all have “those places” in our homes that just seem to be magnets for clutter. Whether it’s a drawer, a table or a home office desk, it doesn’t take long for clutter to accumulate. Go through each piece and make a decision to either keep and file, or throw it away. With a little focus and determination, the clutter will disappear before your eyes in no time. Don’t forget to vacuum up the dust bunnies. Once you’ve eliminated the trouble spots, take time to deep clean your carpets or area rugs.

Clean light fixtures, replace old bulbs and brighten up your day. Light fixtures and lamps are notorious for collecting dust. Give your fixtures a good cleaning with a little soap and water. And while you’re at it, replace old lightbulbs with newer energy-saving bulbs. Your home will look brighter and more inviting to guests. And after all, isn’t that one of the reasons you began your holiday Boston area home improvement plan in the first place?

We have more tips for all you Boston area home improvement projects under our Boston Home Improvements section just below our Boston Real Estate Categories in the column to your right.

Remember, we also post daily on our Facebook Page, and over at Twitter. We’d love you to check us out there too.

Boston Area Homeowners Insurance: Inventory Vital

A Boston area homeowners insurance policy is a must. Natural disasters, fires and other perils can cause us to lose everything. Claims adjustors and restoration contractors often hear people say, “I never thought this would happen to me.” And while we can only do so much to protect our homes and possessions against loss, there are steps we can take to make sure they are replaced. Few people know exactly what they own. Therefore, they can’t remember or don’t always list everything in the event of a loss. Without a home inventory, it’s almost impossible to prove your losses to the insurance company.

Your Boston Area Homeowners Insurance Checklist

When a fire or a natural disaster occurs, often the event is so stressful people are preoccupied with so many other things they forget about some possessions or incidental items. Boston area homeowners insurance experts encourage you to create a complete home inventory. You can do this in a few different ways. There are free software programs available for download that will help. You can also take videos of your possessions and dictate the price and date of purchase. Take photos and store them in the “cloud” on the Web, in a safe deposit box, at the office, or at a friend’s or relative’s house.

List your possessions individually and keep the list organized and categorized with headings such as “Furnishings,” “Accessories,” “Clothing,” etc. Having an inventory and listing your possessions in checklist format will help you if you have a partial loss, theft or other claim.

Remember, having a home inventory may mean the difference in being fully reimbursed or not. Don’t suffer loss a second time. Heed this Boston area homeowners insurance suggestion today… you may be glad you did tomorrow.
See more news pertaining to Boston area homeowners insurance under our Boston Insurance section of articles to your right just below our Boston Real Estate Categories. We also post tips on Facebook and Twitter. Follow us there for many other real estate related news articles and tips, as well.

Boston Area Interest Rates: The Watch Continues

Economists and mortgage lenders are still keeping a watchful eye on Boston area interest rates. Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen recently told the House financial services committee that no immediate decision has been made to raise interest rates. However, she said a December rate hike was still a “live possibility.”

Will the Fed Raise Boston Area Interest Rates in December?

Will Boston Area Interest Rates Rise in December?

Anticipation and speculation over if and when the Fed will raise interest rates has been a hot topic. Housing experts have largely agreed that even a slight bump in Boston area interest rates would not have much impact on home mortgage rates. Still, the Fed is considering the possibility of a rate hike before the end of the year.

Yellen’s meeting before the House committee occurred one week after the Fed decided not to raise rates during October.

Yellen cited the U.S. economy as “performing well,” saying domestic spending was increasing at a good rate. However, she cautioned that net exports and trade performance were slowing. She also referenced poor job gains in recent months. There were 64,000 fewer jobs added in September than had been projected. The U.S. economy added 271,000 jobs in October, and strong hiring drove unemployment figures down to 5%.

These and other factors may cause the Fed to raise Boston area interest rates during December.

Despite inflation currently below 2%, the widely accepted threshold established by the Federal Reserve, Yellen said that level is due to “declines in energy prices and the prices of non-energy imports.” The Fed expects crude oil prices to rise slightly, then stabilize, moving the inflation rate back up to the 2% mark. Yellen says if that happens, “it could be appropriate to adjust rates in our next meeting.”

The Fed chair reiterated there had been no firm decision made to raise interest rates in December. The decision will be based largely on the review of new data collected between now and then. Among the chief components of that data is one more jobs report for November. Whether Boston area interest rates will be affected will depend on how the Fed interprets the findings.

It’s important to note there is little correlation between a modest interest rate hike by the Fed and actual Boston area interest rates for mortgage loans. Historically, mortgage lending experts say a slight increase hasn’t had a big impact on home loan rates. A quarter-point rate increase on a $250,000 mortgage only increases the monthly payment by roughly $35. Lenders say it usually takes an increase of a full percentage point to have a noticeable effect on consumers.

Find more news that may affect Boston area interest rates in our Boston Real Estate News section to your right under Boston Real Estate Categories. We also post news and tips each day on Twitter and Facebook. Follow us there for up to the minute news on Boston area interest rates and mortgage news.

Boston Area Interest Rates Should Stay Low If Fed Hikes Rates

With the Federal Reserve being on the verge of raising Boston area interest rates for the first time in several years, at least one economist says there is little to fear. Mortgage rates will stay low for a good while, says the Wall Street Journal’s chief economics correspondent, Jon Hilsenrath, even if the Fed does decide in favor of a rate hike.

Boston Area Interest Rates: Why They Won’t Rise

Hilsenrath feels mortgage rates won’t be affected much, if any, despite what the Fed does for these main reasons:
1. The U.S. economy and, indeed, the global economy remain relatively weak, meaning the Fed won’t raise rates substantially in that environment.
2. The Fed has already said they don’t expect a big move primarily because inflation is so low.

Hilsenrath also points to the fact that we are entering a period of what will be a very slow progression of follow-up interest rate increases. The last time the Federal Reserve raised the interest rates, from 2004-2006, there wasn’t much of an increase in Boston area interest rates for mortgage loans, and the U.S. actually experienced a housing boom. Historically, therefore, he sees a precedent that most likely will be repeated — or, at a minimum, will not affect housing’s continued improvement.

Asked if the Fed does increase Boston area interest rates, will prospective home buyers rush to take action fearing other increases may occur, Hilsenrath said he doesn’t anticipate consumers will react out of fear. He thinks people will simply realize a rate increase “didn’t mean the world will end” and will go about their daily lives as if little had changed.

When asked about whether it was a good time for mortgage holders to refinance, Hilsenrath said the time for consumers to refinance is when it feels right to them. If there’s an opportunity now, people should probably take advantage of it.

Get more Boston area mortgage tips and information by following us on Twitter and Facebook.

Boston Area Housing: New Home Sales Near One-Year Low

The US Commerce Department reported that sales of new single-family homes dropped to a near one-year low last month. The recent setback occurred despite two consecutive months of sales gains. Industry experts say Boston area housing remains on firm ground thanks, in part, to a rise in home prices.

A Closer Look at Boston Area Housing

Boston area housing remains stable. even though sales of new single-family homes dropped to a near one-year low last month.

The 11.5% drop in new-home sales was the lowest since November 2014. While the new-home sales news is less than encouraging, it has some housing insiders scratching their heads as other reports show a brighter outlook for the new-home sector of the Boston area housing economy. One explanation for the downturn is that new-home sales can fluctuate on a month to month comparison because of small sample extractions.

One housing industry expert labeled the recent new-home sales data “unreliable,” claiming that a number of other indicators pointed to continued steady growth in the sector. Recent existing-home sales data and moderate-to-strong housing starts are among the reasons the Commerce Department report could be an anomaly. In addition, the median price of a new home rose 13.5% in September from last year, reaching a high for 2015 of nearly $297,000.

The increase in home sales prices would indicate either a change in the number of more expensive houses, or that builders are raising prices on their product offerings. Soft demand, therefore, would go hand in hand with slower price gains.

A good Boston area housing market continues to support growth in overall consumer spending resulting from higher household income and wealth. The US economy reported growth of 3.9% in the second quarter of 2015. Economists previously predicted new-home sales falling slightly, but only to a level of 550,000 units. The seasonally-adjusted level was actually 468,000 last month. However, sales increased 2% compared with September of 2014.

The new-home supply in the Boston area housing market lags behind the most recent housing boom total, with inventory being less than half of what it was at that time. Using the pace of September’s sales data, the new-home supply would take 5.8 months to fully clear, up from a 4.9 months estimate during August.

We’ll keep you informed on the Boston area housing statistics right here, and also at Twitter and Facebook. Be sure to follow us there as well.

Boston Area Home Selling: Overcoming Fears

There comes a time in most every homeowner’s life when they’re ready to sell their home. Make no mistake, it can be a challenging undertaking for some. Often there are financial, emotional and even social consequences to consider. As a result, many homeowners struggle with fears once they contemplate entering the Boston area home selling market.

Many are fearful as they contemplate entering the Boston area home selling market.

Although we never work for sellers or list property for sale, we know and can find you the very best listing agents anywhere to help you with selling your home. Contact us using the form to your right for help in finding you the best agent to list your home.

Facing Boston Area Home Selling Fears

Here are five popular fears expressed by homeowners — and tips on how to overcome them.

My Home Isn’t Selling
Probably the greatest Boston area home selling fear is that a home would remain unsold for an extended period of time. It can be especially stressful if the sellers have contracted to buy another home contingent on the sale of their current one. However, know this: most homes, if priced correctly and in good condition, will eventually sell in normal market conditions. Overcome this fear by contacting a real estate professional as far in advance as possible. Work with the agent to develop a marketing plan for your home. Depending on the market or neighborhood, it could take several months to sell your home.

My Home Requires Work Before it Will Sell
Some homeowners entering the Boston area home selling arena for the first time are fearful of their home’s condition or appearance. They are also afraid it will cost too much to make necessary repairs or maintenance. Often they fail to realize the interest level of prospective buyers will be highest if the home is in good condition and enjoys optimum curb appeal. More importantly, the better the home’s condition the higher the potential offer. To overcome this Boston area home selling fear of spending too much money to put your home on the market, consider this: rely on your real estate agent for advice on which improvements (fresh paint, landscape additions, etc.) may provide you with the “best bang for your buck.”

I Won’t Sell my Home by a Certain Deadline
Another prevalent Boston area home selling fear is that a home won’t sell by a specific time frame. Many homeowners may want or need to sell prior to the start of a new school year or before the holidays arrive. To address this situation, it’s important to examine the most recent comparable sales and list the home at or lower than that price range. Again, engage a real estate professional to assist you in pricing the home to sell at a fair and competitive price for quick results.

My Real Estate Agent Wants me to Reduce my Home’s Sales Price
Generally speaking, real estate professionals are extremely knowledgeable about the Boston area home selling market. Let’s face it, homeowners often feel their property is worth more than other homes in the neighborhood for a variety of reasons — most of which are emotion-driven. The best way to overcome the fear of selling a home for less than it’s worth is to discuss it with your agent. Get on the same page. Trust the agent’s experience and judgment. Simply put, allow your agent to do their job.

Having Strangers in my Home is Unsettling
Once a homeowner has decided to enter the Boston area home selling environment they’ve invited prospects to come tour their home. However, many people struggle with that aspect of the process. One solution to the fear is to “de-personalize” the home so it will feel less intrusive. Remove personal items such as photographs, trophies or awards. Store smaller collectibles, “breakables” or valuables in a safe place. Doing this will provide better peace of mind and may help alleviate this particular Boston area home selling fear.

Find more helpful Boston area home selling tips in our Boston Home Selling Tips section of articles just below Boston Real Estate Categories to your right. We also post tips daily on Twitter and our Facebook Page… follow us there as well.

Boston Area Home Buyers Need Help From Family

During the recession of 2009, the number of Boston area home buyers depending on down payment assistance from family members or friends tripled. It’s estimated that roughly 21% of homes were purchased by homeowners using a gift or a loan as their down payment. Let’s look at why that need may still exist.

Boston Area Home Buyers – “Who Can Save Today?”

Boston area home buyers still need help from family these days to buy their first home

According to a recent analysis of Zillow of federally-provided real estate sales data, the percentage of Boston area home buyers needing down payment help from their families is still higher than it was before the 2009 housing crisis. The 21% number mentioned above dropped to just over 13% in 2014. However, compared to 2007 when only 8% of purchasers required assistance from friends or family, the percentage is substantial.

The Zillow report spotlights one glaring reason the need exists for many prospective Boston area home buyers — the absence of savings. In order to keep monthly mortgage payments close to or less than what they are paying in rent, first time homebuyers usually need cash for a down payment. That can be a challenge, and it’s the main reason
during the recession — and even now — prospective purchasers seek help from their family.

In what the Zillow data characterizes as “middle-income households” 25% of Boston area home buyers turned to friends or family members for help with their down payments in 2014. During that same year, only 15% of low-income and 16% of high-income households received assistance for their down payments.

Real estate experts say skyrocketing rents, a high percentage of student loan debt and slow income growth are among the factors preventing many first-time Boston area home buyers from being able to save money for a down payment. More troubling to some insiders is what is seen as a potentially widening gap in inequality. Assistance networks and programs available to low-income households may not be able to sustain that assistance, while higher-income home buyers may not need the help.

First-time Boston area home buyers are especially reliant on friends and family for help with the down payment. Not only are their rents high, but mortgage credit is tight, making their entry into the homeownership arena “iffy” at best. In addition, home values and sales prices have increased. And as prices increase, so do the down payment requirements. Naturally, as first time home buyers, they have no cash from the sale of a previous home to fall back on.

Find more tips and articles for Boston area home buyers to your right in the Boston Home Buying Tips section just below Boston Real Estate Categories. And Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for daily news and tips we post there.

Boston Area Mortgage Lenders Receive Grace Period

The House of Representatives recently voted to pass a bipartisan bill to provide a “hold harmless” grace period for Boston area mortgage lenders for the implementation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s (CFPB’s) TILA-RESPA Integrated Disclosure (TRID) Rule. The new rule went into effect October 3rd.

Boston area mortgage lenders are receiving a grace period on the disclosure rules that went into effect October 3rd.

“Good Faith” From Boston Area Mortgage Lenders

Extending the grace period until February 1, 2016, the Homebuyers Assistance Act ensures mortgage lenders protection from compliance enforcement if they exhibit a food faith effort to adhere to the TRID rules and regulations.

Although the Homebuyers Assistance Act passed win the House Financial Services Committee the White House tried to veto it. Issuing a statement, the White House wrote “The Administration strongly opposes (the Act,) as it would unnecessarily delay implementation of important consumer protections designed to eradicate opaque lending practices that contribute to risky mortgages…”

House leaders commend the bill as a means of facilitating lenders’ ability to provide financing for prospective home owners. One House member said, “There is no reason that CFPB regulations should prevent homebuyers from being able to buy and close on a home.” Other leaders echoed those sentiments by acknowledging the bill would assist Boston area mortgage lenders in avoiding loan closing delays or difficulties — calling them “bureaucratic delays” that should not add to the stress off buying a home.

The move comes as an answer to many mortgage lenders’ requests for additional time to ensure full compliance with the new rules and regulations required by TRID. Allowing a formal hold-harmless period while Boston area mortgage lenders can, in good faith comply with the requirements, will result in minimal impact on consumers and their residential home mortgage loan closings.

The sponsor of the bill, Rep. French Hill (R-Arkansas) noted the legislation was brought about to allow for more clarity on the CFPB’s TRID rule and that “the stories he and his colleagues have heard regarding efforts to comply, and lingering uncertainty on several aspects of the rule.” Extending a grace period will help guarantee access to mortgage credit by enabling Boston area mortgage lenders the opportunity to prepare for full compliance without fear of penalty.

In addition to the recent House action, the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) recently joined the CFPB, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in establishing a grace period for the enforcement of the TRID Rule. Unlike the open-ended grace period granted by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the FHA’s grace period expires on April 16, 2016. All three agencies specifically warned the grace period should not be utilized as an excuse by Boston area mortgage lenders or others to ignore the CFPB’s new regulations.

With the actions of Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the FHA, an effort is now in process in Congress to finalize a formal grace period for TRID enforcement by the CFPB.

See more articles pertaining to rules Boston area mortgage lenders must adhere to in the Boston Mortgage Info section of our site below Boston Real Estate Categories in the column to your right. Remember, we also post tips daily on Twitter and Facebook, sometimes dealing with mortgage news and factors affecting the mortgage market. Check us out there, too.

Boston Area Mortgage Rules-No More Pay Stubs?

Boston area mortgage rules may be about to take a big change, and the jury is still out as to whether it could be bad for the mortgage industry in the long haul.

If changes announced recently by Fannie Mae catch on, the process of having to fork over your pay stubs could go the way of 8-track tapes and cassettes.

Boston area mortgage rules could be changing like the way we listen to our music has changed

Need a Boston area Mortgage – Fannie Says Forget the Pay Stubs

Fannie Mae announced recently that it would allow lenders to use employment and income information from a database operated by credit bureau Equifax to verify borrowers’ creditworthiness rather than requiring lenders to rely on collecting physical copies of pay stubs and tax data, which has been the time-honored tradition when trying to buy a home.

Other Boston area mortgage rules may also be changing with the intent of broadening mortgage access for some borrowers. Fannie said it will ease the lender process for granting loans to borrowers who don’t have a credit score. Later in mid-2016 Fannie Mae will also require lenders to begin collecting “trended” credit data from Equifax and TransUnion, which includes longer-term borrower credit histories.

The extra information will help Fannie see if borrowers are paying off their credit card bill every month or just making the minimum payment or if they’re letting balances rise. Borrowers who are making the full payment could see perks then.

Some minority groups have had a hard time obtaining loans in recent years, in part because those groups also tend to have lower incomes or less money for a down payment but also because they sometimes don’t have traditional credit histories. The new Boston area mortgage rules are designed to hopefully change all this.

Advocates and industry groups have been pushing the Federal Housing Finance Agency, which regulates Fannie and Freddie, to allow the companies to use alternative credit-score models that take into account utility or rent payments for potential borrowers who may not have a credit score. Borrowers who have a traditional score calculated by Fair Isaac will still need to meet the 620 minimum, on a scale of 300 to 850.

Stay tuned, we’ll keep you up to date on these potential new Boston area mortgage rules and how they may affect the Boston area home buying market.