Cathy Stewart - KELLER WILLIAMS REALTY / Merrimack Valley | 978-270-2280 | cathystewart@kw.com


Posted by Cathy Stewart on 10/16/2018

Purchasing a house on a budget can be difficult for even the most diligent property buyer. Lucky for you, we're here to help you create an effective homebuying budget and reduce the temptation to spend beyond your means to acquire your ideal residence.

Now, let's take a look at three tips to help you craft a property buying budget.

1. Examine Your Finances Closely

Your income, everyday expenses and other financial factors may impact your ability to buy a house. Therefore, you should analyze your finances closely to determine how much you can spend on a residence.

Once you evaluate your finances, you can establish a price range for your home search. Next, you can kick off a house search and move one step closer to acquiring your dream house.

2. Get Your Credit Score

Your credit score is a three-digit number based on your outstanding debt, length of credit history and other factors. It may have a major impact on your ability to secure home financing and establish a successful homebuying budget. As such, you should review your credit score and work to improve it before you enter the housing market.

To obtain your credit score, you can request a copy of your credit report from each of the three reporting bureaus (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion). You are eligible to receive a free copy of your credit report annually from each credit reporting bureau. Thus, you should take advantage of this complimentary perk and obtain your credit report as soon as you can.

If you identify outstanding debt on your credit report, you should work to pay this off. Or, if you find errors on your credit report, you should contact the bureau that provided the report to fix these mistakes.

3. Meet with Lenders

Banks and credit unions are happy to meet with you to discuss various home financing options. If you consult with these lenders, you may be better equipped than ever before to create a successful homebuying budget before you launch a house search.

Ultimately, lenders can help you get pre-approved for a mortgage. If you get a mortgage prior to searching for a house, you'll know exactly how much you can spend on a residence. Then, you can speed up your home search and discover your dream house faster than ever before.

As you get ready to begin your quest for your ideal residence, you may want to hire a real estate agent too. This housing market professional can put you in touch with top lenders in your area and help you secure home financing. Furthermore, a real estate agent can tailor a home search to your property buying budget. Perhaps best of all, a real estate agent will help you negotiate with a seller's agent to ensure you can get the best price on any home, at any time.

Create an effective homebuying budget Ė use the aforementioned tips, and you can establish a property buying budget and use it to streamline your home search.




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Posted by Cathy Stewart on 8/7/2018

For homebuyers, it is paramount to remain patient as you explore the real estate market. At the same time, it is important to understand that the real estate market moves quickly. Thus, if you wait too long to submit an offer on a house, you could miss out on your dream home.

Lucky for you, it is easy to prepare to buy a house in a fast-paced real estate market Ė here are three tips to ensure that you can do just that.

1. Make a Competitive Offer

If you find a house that you like, don't wait to submit an offer on it. Instead, submit a competitive offer from the get-go, and you may be able to secure your ideal home immediately.

An informed homebuyer is a smart shopper who understands what a "competitive" offer means for both a homebuyer and home seller. Ultimately, a homebuyer who assesses the condition of a property and the current state of the real estate market should have no trouble submitting a competitive proposal.

2. Track the Housing Market Closely

As a homebuyer, you'll want to stay up to date on new homes as they hit the real estate market. By doing so, you'll be better equipped than other homebuyers to check out these properties and find houses that match your budget and lifestyle perfectly.

New homes become available daily, so be sure to track properties online. Also, if you understand exactly what you want from a residence, you can narrow your search and improve your chances of finding a home that suits your needs.

3. Work with a Fast-Paced Real Estate Agent

When it comes to purchasing a house in a fast-paced real estate market, there is no need to leave anything to chance. Fortunately, you can hire a real estate agent who can help you discover your dream home quickly and effortlessly.

A fast-paced real estate agent will go above and beyond the call of duty to assist you. As such, this real estate professional will set up home showings and keep you informed about new properties as they become available. Plus, your real estate agent is happy to negotiate with home sellers on your behalf and ensure that you can purchase your dream home at a price that matches your budget.

Perhaps best of all, even a fast-paced real estate agent will slow down the homebuying process as needed. If you ever have concerns or questions about buying a house, your real estate agent will respond to your queries without delay.

Hiring a trusted real estate agent can make a world of difference for homebuyers in a fast-paced housing market. In fact, with a top-notch real estate agent at your disposal, you can browse the housing market closely and accelerate the process of finding your dream house.

Although the real estate market may fluctuate constantly, homebuyers who plan ahead will be able to simplify the process of acquiring exceptional properties. And if you use the aforementioned homebuying tips to your advantage, you can boost your chances of obtaining your dream home in a fast-paced housing market.




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Posted by Cathy Stewart on 7/31/2018

Buying a vacation home is something that many dream of, but for some itís not just a dream. And itís certainly not something that is only for the rich and the famous. Maybe you have been saving for one your whole life, got a large bonus at work that you want to use as a down payment, or are just going out on a limb; there are several things to consider before taking the plunge and buying a vacation home. Cost: First and foremost, what kind of financial position are you in? Are you able to put down 20% and if not will you be able to afford the potential higher interest rate that goes along with less money done? If you are planning to buy farther away, can you afford the airfare cost for as often as youíd like to spend there? Can you afford the inevitable maintenance that will be necessary? You certainly do not have to be a millionaire to purchase a vacation home, but itís important to know what you can afford and cannot afford. Location: Do you want to buy a vacation home that is within a couple of hours from your home? Or would you rather buy one a plane ride away that may be in a location thatís warm year round? Or do you want to buy a home in another country? This is certainly something that should be determined before beginning your search. Condo vs. Single-Family: Do you want the privacy of a single-family home or do you want the amenities that come along with living in a condo? There is a level of privacy that comes with owning a single-family home versus a condo, as well as there are condo fees to consider. This decision may not matter much to you, but itís important that everyone involved agrees on the type of home they would like to buy. Rent It: Do you plan on renting out your vacation home when you are not there? Are you looking at homes in locations where renting is possible? Can you afford the home if you do not rent it out? If you canít afford the home without renting, how often do you need to rent to be able to afford it? Do you want the hassle of renting it? Itís important to consider this possibility even before you begin your house hunt. Buying a vacation home is extremely exciting, but itís a large investment. It should be well thought out and planned out. But, once you have those details worked outó go out and buy the vacation home of your dreams!





Posted by Cathy Stewart on 7/17/2018

Closing costs are usually an unavoidable part of buying a home. While there are ways to reduce some closing costs and fees, they are an expense you will likely have to consider when it comes time to save for a home.

On average, buyers can expect to pay between 2 and 5 percent of the purchase price in closing costs and fees.

In this article, weíre going to break down those costs and talk about some ways to plan for, or limit, the fees associated with closing on a home.

A breakdown of closing costs

Most closing costs in a real estate transaction are paid for by the buyer. When getting approved for a mortgage, your lender is required to provide you with an estimate of the closing costs. This is called a ďClosing Disclosure statementĒ which overviews the details of your loan.

Different lenders will charge varying amounts in fees. Some are even willing to waive certain fees. But, weíll discuss that later.

For now, letís focus on the closing costs buyers typically have to pay:

  • Attorney fees - a flat-fee or hourly rate depending on the attorney

  • Origination fees - an upfront fee charged by the lender for processing your mortgage application

  • Prepaid interest or discount points - a payment for the interest that will accrue on your mortgage from the time you close until your first mortgage payment is due

  • Home inspection fee - the fee that a professional home inspector charges to inspect a home

  • Escrow deposits - Usually split with the seller, this is the fee charged by an escrow agent

  • Recording fees - fees for legally recording the new deed and mortgage

  • Underwriting fees - fees paid to the lender for researching your mortgage case and determining whether or not to approve your application

These are just some of the many fees that can be due upon closing on a home. Depending on where you live, which lender you choose, and the type of mortgage you secure, your closing costs will vary, so itís a good idea to shop around for a lender and mortgage type with reasonable closing costs.

Reducing closing costs

Some lenders offer no-cost, or low-cost mortgages. However, these savings often come with a higher interest rate which, over the lifespan of your loan, can cost you more in the long run.

You should also be aware of the different loan types that you may be eligible for. FHA loans, USDA loans, and VA loans are all designed for buyers hoping to make lower down payments on their home.

Each loan type provides different amounts due at closing. Fortunately, your mortgage lender will be able to give you an estimate of costs for each loan type.

Want to get an estimate of the closing costs youíll have to pay when you buy a home? You can use this online calculator to see an average.




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Posted by Cathy Stewart on 6/12/2018

The kitchen is one of the busiest rooms in a home. Not just a place to cook meals itís also often the entrance to a home and where families gather together at the end of the day. Arguably, itís also the most important room in the home and the one home buyers should be most astute of.

The kitchen is one of the most expensive rooms to remodel ranging between $20,000 and $50,000. Whether youíre eager for some renovation projects or looking for a move-in ready home, youíll want to assess the level of work this room will need as your shop potential houses.

Start with perhaps the most obvious - is the room large enough for your daily needs? Is there plenty of counter space or room to expand cabinetry? Do you have a lot of kitchen tools that call for plenty of storage space or perhaps prefer an island to prep dinner at? Know what your ideal kitchen space ahead of time, especially if it is a priority, so your realtor can help you find the perfect fit.

Check that all appliances to ensure they are in working order as per the disclosure statement claims. Appliances are a big expense and youíll want to have a good idea of what will need replacing or to be installed. Consider if they are an easy color to match when it comes time for replacement and if any are under warranty.

Youíll also want to examine the cabinetry. Check to ensure all drawers and cabinets are properly aligned and open smoothly. If they are wooden cabinets you can easily swap out hardware or change the color if youíre not a fan of the current style. However, other materials are not as convenient so consider replacement costs if youíre unhappy with the current installation.

Countertops can be another major expense. Have the granite countertops been properly taken care of? If they are laminate are they scratched or chipped? If this isnít an upgrade youíre looking to make, be sure to look closely at what each home already has in place.

Kitchens are one of the busiest rooms in your home, especially if you love to cook. Check flooring for loose tiles, discoloration or poorly maintained wood flooring. This tells you a few things. Firstly, the quality of the materials used to build the home. And secondly, how well the house has been maintained over time.

Remodeling isnít on everyone's list when house shopping. And with kitchenís being one of the most expensive to renovate, this is one room you want to pay extra attention to as you view each potential home. Happy house hunting!




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