Our Real Estate Blog
It’s easy for a home to get out of hand with all the things that come through the door every week. Here are a few tips for keeping up with the never-ending clutter that enters your home.
Create a Shoe Station
Set up a location at each entry door for family members and guests to remove shoes and boots. Keeping dirt and debris at the entry and not trekked into the house reduces how often you must clean. It also keeps allergens, toxins and grime off your carpet and away from your family.
Organize the Paper
While newspapers are a thing of the past for most households, junk-mail, circulars and bills seem to keep coming. First, unsubscribe from any magazines and catalogs that you don’t want or use. Then, set up a table or shelf near the door to sort your mail. Toss the circulars and shred the junk mail before it gets further into the room. Sign up for electronic versions of your bills to reduce those as well.
Nix Junk Drawers
Everyone has at least one, and many folks have one in every room … it’s those pesky drawers, baskets or bins that fill up with pens, buttons, receipts, tape, scissors, batteries and random indeterminate objects you think might be important. They take up space but don’t contribute to organization. Start with the smallest one. Remove any receipts and take a picture of them with your phone. Then toss the receipt. If it’s important, you have the details and won’t worry if the thermal paper fades to an unreadable blur.
Next, test all the pens and pencils. If they’re broken or inkless, toss them. Find a small box to store all the batteries in one place. As you move from room to room, collect the batteries and organize them in the box to store on a shelf. Electronic items such as charger cords and blocks belong in another box.
These three simple hacks go a long way toward helping you keep your home in order. That way, when it comes time to sell, you’re ready for the surprise visit from a buyer or the call from your agent when you’re far from home. Ask your real estate professional about other ideas to keep your home show-ready.
If you bought a house that was over $484,350 prior to 2020, you had to get a jumbo loan, which is a non-conforming loan. The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) increased the limit on conforming loans to $510,400 in most areas. The FHFA also increased the loan limit to $765,600 in some high-cost areas, which include Alaska, Guam, Hawaii and the U.S. Virgin Islands. FHFA increased the loan limit for conforming loans because home prices increased by an average of 5.38 percent from the third quarter of 2018 to the third quarter of 2019.
What is a Conforming Loan?
A conforming loan follows standardized rules set by the Federal National Mortgage Association (FNMA / Fannie Mae) and the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation (FHLMC / Freddie Mac). The two companies are government-sponsored, and they drive the home loan market. The most common standardized rule is the loan limit. Still, the two organizations dictate how much a loan-to-value ratio can be, your debt-to-income ratio, higher interest rates based on your credit score and what documentation you might need for a home loan. A conforming loan must also have private mortgage insurance (PMI) if the down payment is less than 20 percent.
Jumbo and Other Non-Conforming Loans
Banks do not like to write non-conforming loans because they cannot sell those loans to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, or most of the other smaller organizations that buy loans. The most common non-conforming loan is a jumbo loan – a loan that is outside the loan limit, which is increasing for 2020. Other types of non-conforming loans might include loans for people who do not meet the debt-to-income ratio or the loan-to-value ratio. Because those loans are riskier, they often come with higher interest rates. Generally, you must also have a very good credit score to qualify for most non-conforming loans, especially jumbo loans.
While some states and territories were mentioned as high-cost areas above, some places in the continental United States are also considered to be high-cost areas. Washington, D.C. and some parts of California have the higher limit of $765,600 for 2020 because the prices of single-family homes are higher than average.
Qualifying for a Jumbo Loan
To qualify for a jumbo loan, you’ll have to jump through more hoops. Some factors a lender look for include:
A credit score of at least 700. Some lenders require a score of at least 720.
Your debt-to-income ratio (DTI). While non-conforming loans may go outside the typical DTI, some lenders might refuse to go over 45 percent.
The lender might require you to have cash reserves of several months to a year in the bank.
The lender might require extensive documentation. You might have to supply your complete tax returns and several months of bank statements for a jumbo loan.
Lenders might require a second appraisal of the home.
A larger down payment.
You might get a higher interest rate, depending on the lender, your financial situation and market conditions.
Closing costs are often higher because of the extra steps you must go through to qualify for the loan.
As with any loan, shop around for a jumbo loan instead of jumping at the first loan offered.
48 Mulberry, Ayer, MA 01432
When you’re shopping for a home, it’s easy to be overzealous in your attempt to find the perfect property. One of the biggest regrets of home buyers is that of paying too high a price for their dream home. There should be a balance between cost and the right property for you. No matter what kind of house you’re looking to buy or where you plan to buy it, a little planning goes a long way to help you get the most for your dollar when buying a home. Below, you’ll find some tips to help you avoid the dreaded mistake of overpaying for a home.
Look For Amenities That Increase Value
Does the neighborhood you’re looking to buy in have a lot of cool perks? Perhaps the property is close to the heart of downtown or close to one of the most desirable schools in the area. These features add value to the home based on the demand in the neighborhood.
You should also consider if the neighborhood is known as what’s termed “up and coming.” The potential that a neighborhood is also a factor in the price of a home. Is there a lot of construction going on in the area? Is the home you’re buying in a great area but considered a “fixer upper”? High potential properties in desirable areas can actually give you a bargain. A nice property in an area that is still being established can also be a bargain but beware. You may end up paying a higher price as sellers and developers understand that people are eager to move into the neighborhood. Also, if a neighborhood seems to be built up too much, it’s not a good sign. An overdeveloped area can lead to decreased property values over time.
Inside the home, look for things that have been updated to increase the value of the property. An updated kitchen and bathroom add the most cost to a home as these are the most expensive rooms to renovate. Other perks in a home that greatly increase the value include new flooring, new roof, being situated on a cul-de-sac or dead end street, and easy access to highways and main routes.
Know That Some Features Decrease Value
Things like power lines, poor economic growth in the community, high-traffic areas, foreclosures, and unkept homes can all drag down the value of a property. If you happen to be looking in one of these areas, understand that you shouldn’t be paying top dollar for a home there. Look for bargains. Whether you plan to stay or simply flip a property, you need to know at what point the price will be right without overpaying for the home.
An offer to purchase represents a key milestone in the homebuying journey. Ultimately, it helps to plan ahead to ensure you're ready to submit a homebuying proposal. Because if you know what it takes to put together a competitive offer to purchase a house, you can boost the likelihood that a home seller accepts your proposal.
Now, let's take a look at three tips to help you get ready to submit an offer to purchase.
1. Study the Housing Market
The housing market fluctuates frequently. As such, you may enter a real estate market that favors buyers but slowly shifts into sellers' favor, or vice-versa. But if you examine the real estate sector closely, you can differentiate a buyer's market from a seller's one and submit an offer to purchase that accounts for the current housing market's conditions.
If homes are selling quickly at or above their initial asking prices, you may be working in a seller's market. Comparatively, if houses linger on the real estate market for many weeks or months before they sell, you may be operating in a buyer's market. As you start to craft an offer to purchase a house, you should analyze the real estate market. By doing so, you can submit an offer to purchase that matches a seller's expectations.
2. Get Your Finances in Order
Entering the housing market with a budget in hand usually is beneficial. If you get pre-approved for a mortgage, you can narrow your house search and stick to a budget as you pursue your dream residence.
Banks and credit unions can teach you everything you need to know about fixed- and adjustable-rate mortgages. Perhaps best of all, lenders employ mortgage specialists who can respond to your mortgage concerns and questions. If you collaborate with a lender today, you can get the financing you need to buy a house. Also, you can conduct a search for homes that fall within your price range and reduce the risk of submitting an offer to purchase that surpasses your budget.
3. Avoid a "Lowball" Offer
Submitting a "lowball" offer to purchase a home may seem like a good idea at first. Yet submitting a homebuying proposal that falls short of a seller's expectations is unlikely to help you acquire your dream house.
In most instances, a seller will instantly reject a lowball offer to purchase. And if you receive an immediate "No" from a seller, you risk missing out on the opportunity to purchase your ideal residence.
Allocate time and resources to craft a competitive homebuying proposal – you'll be glad you did. Otherwise, you run the risk of putting together a lowball offer that will miss the mark with a seller and force you to look elsewhere to purchase a house.
Lastly, if you need extra assistance as you perform a house search, you may want to hire a real estate agent. By employing a real estate agent, you should have no trouble crafting a competitive offer to purchase any home, regardless of the housing market's conditions.