Posted by Mary-Lou McDonough on 1/22/2018

Your home represents a dazzling choice in any housing market. However, real estate market conditions can change rapidly, which means you'll want to do everything you can to ensure your house stands out from other residences in any housing sector, at any time.

What does it take to guarantee your residence will stand out from the competition consistently? Here are three tips to ensure you can improve your chances of differentiating your residence from similar homes in your area.

1. Offer a Competitive Price.

If you'd like to sell your home as quickly as possible, you may want to offer an attractive price. That way, you're sure to improve your house's chances of garnering plenty of interest as soon as it hits the real estate market.

Although setting a competitive price may allow you to generate interest from many homebuyers, it is important to note that you should review all of your home offers closely before you accept a bid. Ensure that any offer you accept matches your expectations. And of course, don't be afraid to decline an offer or make a counter-proposal if an initial bid fails to meet your needs.

2. Promote Your Home to the Right Homebuyers.

Regardless of whether you own a one-bedroom, one-bathroom residence in the city or a four-bedroom, three-bathroom townhouse outside the city, you'll want to ensure you promote your house to the right audience at the right time, every time. This will enable you to garner interest from homebuyers who may be serious about your residence and could submit an offer for your home quickly.

Consider the homebuyer's perspective before you list your residence on the housing market. By doing so, you'll be able to determine your target audience and market your house to this group accordingly.

There are many wonderful online platforms that you can use to promote your house to the right homebuyers as well. Facebook remains a top option, as it enables you to share photos, videos and details about your home with ease. Also, don't forget to use YouTube to put together a video tour of your home, or email your home listing to friends and family members so they can share it with homebuyers who may be interested in your residence.

3. Employ an Experienced Real Estate Agent.

Your real estate agent will devote the necessary time and resources to help your residence stand out from similar houses in your city or town. This professional understands the local and national housing markets and will do whatever it takes to market your residence accordingly. Plus, your real estate agent can offer tips and guidance to ensure you can improve your residence's curb appeal, revamp your home's interior and exterior and more.

An experienced real estate agent will be able to provide you with ongoing guidance throughout the home selling process too. And if you ever have concerns or questions as you sell your home, your real estate agent will be glad to address your queries at all times.

Use the aforementioned tips, and you can help you house stand out in a crowded real estate market.




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Posted by Mary-Lou McDonough on 1/15/2018

Ready to enter the housing market and find your dream residence? Ultimately, there are many signs that indicate now may be the perfect time to buy a house, including:

1. Your family is growing.

If you recently got engaged to the love of your life, tied the knot with that special someone or have kids on the way, now may prove to be an ideal time to buy a house.

A home offers plenty of space, ensuring that you and your entire family can reap the benefits of a superb living space. Plus, many affordable mortgage options are available, making it easy for you to purchase a house without having to worry about breaking your budget.

Before you begin your home search, consult with a real estate agent – you'll be glad you did! Your real estate agent can help you determine exactly what you'd like to find in a home, ensuring that you can purchase a house that meets or exceeds your expectations.

2. You've secured a new job.

Now that you've landed your dream job, you may want to consider pursuing your dream house as well.

With a new, high-paying job in hand, you may be better equipped than ever before to make monthly mortgage payments on a residence. Also, you can work with a credit union or bank to secure a mortgage that matches your budget.

Furthermore, if you've landed a job that is several hours away from your current location, you may need to relocate. And if you hire an experienced real estate agent, you should have no trouble finding a great residence quickly and effortlessly.

An experienced real estate agent understands the ins and outs of the housing market. As such, he or she can help you narrow your home search and discover the perfect home.

3. You're ready to make a change.

Are you getting tired of your current neighborhood or living situation? Or, do you want to relocate from a cold-weather climate to a warm-weather region? If you're ready to make a change in your life, now may be a wonderful time to purchase a house in a new city or town.

Buying a house represents a life-changing decision and should not be taken lightly. However, those who are ready to make a change may want to buy a home in a new city or town so they can settle down and enjoy life in a different part of the country.

For those who are considering a change, meeting with a real estate agent is paramount. Your real estate agent can offer housing market data to ensure that you can secure a terrific house at a budget-friendly price. In addition, your real estate agent can serve as a housing market expert who will be able to answer your homebuying concerns and questions at any time.

Employing a real estate agent can make a world of difference for a homebuyer. Collaborate with a real estate agent today, and you can explore a wide array of homebuying options.




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Posted by Mary-Lou McDonough on 1/8/2018

As the percentage of senior citizens continues to grow every year, more and more homeowners are taking a serious look at the possibility of having their aging parents move in with them. An increasingly popular idea is the notion of creating an "in-law apartment" to provide a private, but nearby living space for older members of the family.

As an alternative to remodeling one or more rooms to accommodate a live-in relative, some homeowners build an addition to their house. Those with an acre or more of land (and the budget) sometimes consider building a separate guest house on their property. In most cases, though, people tend to convert a portion of their homes to a secondary living unit.

If you're considering going this route, it's necessary to check with your town or city government to make sure you're in compliance with local ordinances, building codes, and zoning laws. Sometimes the approval process might be relatively simple, while in other situations, it could be more restrictive or complicated. The requirements vary widely from one location to another, but you never know until you ask!

A knowledgeable real estate agent can provide you with a lot of helpful information on the topic of in-law apartments. To find out whether your home is already approved for "multiple-unit occupancy," your local assessor, building department, or building inspector can provide the answer. They can also fill you in on requirements, restrictions, and guidelines for converting a living space to a secondary dwelling unit.

By approaching it with an open mind and a little bit of optimism, you might be pleasantly surprised with the practicality of welcoming an aging parent, grandparent, or other member of your extended family into your home. A separate living space may also be the ideal solution for a recent graduate or older adult child who isn't quite ready for the cost of full independence.

If you're currently in the market for a new home, you may even want to expand your "wish list" to include properties that have an approved secondary unit on it. Whether you're anticipating future family needs or toying with the idea of using the space to generate rental income, there are several potential advantages to having an apartment or guest house on the premises.

Your real estate agent can provide you with data on the availability of residential properties with "in-law apartments" and multiple unit occupancy features. They can also offer valuable insights on the future marketability of the property. While your main objective at this point may be finding a long-term place for your family to call home, choosing a property that's a good investment could make real estate ownership even more rewarding down the road.





Posted by Mary-Lou McDonough on 1/1/2018

Imagine an area of your home that's particularly cluttered now, and then picture in your mind's eye how nice it would look if it was cleaned and organized. If you take a few seconds to visualize this scenario, it will feel like a breath of fresh air! For many people, a cluttered, disorganized living space or working environment tends to create mental clutter -- and that makes it nearly impossible to be at your best. On the other hand, when you create a plan to organize your storage space and get rid of household clutter, you're taking a major step toward enhancing your home and the way you feel about it. Although you may have a dozen or more areas that need to be organized, if you create a methodical plan to tackle one small area at a time, then the project is much more achievable and less overwhelming. The Outcome Is Worth The Effort If you've ever undertaken a task like this, you know how rewarding it can be to see the results. You'll also enjoy the feeling of pride that accompanies improving the look and feel of your home. When you've transformed chaos into a semblance of order, it can have a positive effect on your attitude and your self esteem. Although taking charge of household clutter is not a panacea for stress, it can be one of several improvements that make a big difference. Where to Begin You can infuse a feeling of fresh energy into your home by organizing and cleaning the following ten areas:

  1. Closets: Most homes have a ton of them and they're probably in a major state of disarray!
  2. Book shelves: If you have a library of books, then organizing them can dramatically improve the appearance of any room -- from living rooms and family rooms to bedrooms and home offices.
  3. Kitchen cabinets (Check expiration dates while you're organizing.)
  4. Bathroom cabinets and drawers (Refer to note in item #3.)
  5. Junk drawers: Virtually every home has them, and they usually consist of a combination of junk and treasures. In most cases, it's obvious what should be thrown away and what's worth saving.
  6. Garage and tool sheds: These areas are typically in desperate need of cleaning and organizing.
  7. Work bench: If tools, hardware, and supplies are haphazardly piled on top of each other or randomly strewn on your work bench, then finding what you need when you need it becomes increasingly frustrating and time consuming. Taking an hour or so to organize your work bench can make life a lot simpler and more productive.
  8. Spare bedrooms: In many people's homes, that area tends to become a repository for things that either need to be put away, given away, or thrown away.
  9. File cabinets: Being able to find important documents, information, and receipts depends on well organized and clearly labeled files. Ideally, that takes place on an ongoing basis, but if that's not happening, a semi-annual review of your filing system can help keep things in good order.
  10. Basements: Depending on how long you've lived in your house, this might be a project that needs to be spread out over a few days!
Involving members of your family in the cleanup plan can also make it move along faster and feel more like a team effort, rather than a solo undertaking. To avoid procrastination, start small and branch out from there. As the ancient Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu once said: "A journey of a thousand miles begins with one step."





Posted by Mary-Lou McDonough on 12/25/2017

Applying for a mortgage can be a lengthy and difficult process. Lenders want to know that they are going to get a return on their investment.

To ensure that they’ll see that positive return they will take a number of things into consideration, such as your income, credit score, employment history, and financial capital.

First-time homeowners often struggle when it comes to these prerequisites since they have fewer years of numbers for lenders to consider. If you’re one of those people, don’t worry--you can still purchase a home.

First-time homeowner loans, which are guaranteed by the U.S. government, and a number of private loans enable people to borrow money for a home without paying a huge down payment or having a vast credit history.

One downfall of said loans is private mortgage insurance, or “PMI.”

In this article, we’re going to talk about what private mortgage insurance is, how to avoid it, and how to get rid of it. 

What is PMI?

If you make a down payment on a mortgage that is less than 20% of the loan amount, you will most likely have to pay private mortgage insurance.

PMI exists as a way for lenders to help guarantee they won’t lose money off of your loan. If you make a down payment of 20% or more, then lenders are typically satisfied that they won’t lose money from doing business with you.

PMI is not to be confused with home insurance, which protects you against damage and theft. Rather, it is an additional fee you’ll pay to your lender each month that is added to your mortgage payment.

PMI is calculated based on a few considerations. Lenders will take into account your down payment amount, the value of the mortgage, and your credit score.

In terms of costs, PMI typically costs between .5 and 1% of the total mortgage amount each year.

Avoiding PMI

Naturally, it’s best to avoid paying private mortgage insurance altogether. Private mortgage insurance has no future value for you and your family since it doesn’t count towards building equity and doesn’t protect you from any potential financial harm (your lender is the sole beneficiary of PMI).

Saving for a down payment can take time, and sometimes you’ll need to rent or cut costs while you save. However, if you do take on a loan with PMI, you can still cancel it at a later point.

Canceling your private mortgage insurance

The first thing you should know about canceling PMI is that it usually isn’t easy. You’ll need pay off at least 20% of the home, write a letter to your lender, and wait for an appraisal of the home. Once you’ve done this, you still have to wait while your lender considers your request. In all, this process could take months--months that you’re still required to pay PMI.

Once common way to get out of PMI is to refinance. If the value of your home has increased since the time of you taking on the loan, the new lender likely won’t require PMI. However, you’ll want to make sure that refinancing will get you a lower interest rate and cover the costs of refinancing. 




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