buyers agent

DO’s & DONT’s When Applying For a Mortgage

DO’s & DONT’s When Applying For a Mortgage

Okay, you’ve found a great home to purchase, but you’ve got to replace your car and your furniture is hand-me-downs from your grandparents. Before you start doing your duty to the God of Consumerism, here is some wise advice to follow:

DO’s

  • Notify your mortgage broker of income changes … any changes from when you applied need to be above board
  • Keep documentation of any large deposits … lenders will need to verify where you received the money from
  • Pay all your bills on time … keeping current on all existing accounts is extremely important
    (a single late payment 30 days could affect your credit score between 50 and 100 points and may change your mortgage rate)

DONT’s

  • Apply for new credit of any kind … credit scores will be requested and this will be recorded, your score could be adversely affected
  • Go over your limit on credit cards …try to keep your balance below 50% of your available credit limit on any/all of  your cards
  • Consolidate your debt over 1 0r 2 credit cards … appearance is reality, it will look like you’re maxed out on the remaining cards, again could adversely affect your credit score
  • Change or quit jobs … if anything – especially your employment changes from your initial application your approval may change or be revoked.

Your mortgage company will verify your employment and credit score approximately 2 days before the closing, so keep everything steady and calm and you’ll be fine and get that great home you wanted.

Stand Up and Buy Right!

Stand Up and Buy Right!

If, like all of us, you want to get the best house you can for the least amount of money, you need to make sure you are negotiating from a position of strength. Price is only one element in the negotiations and not necessarily the most important one. Often other things such as the financial strength and your down-payment or the closing date are just as important to a seller. That being said, it’s useless to be “pre- qualified” by a lender. This means that you have spent a few minutes on the phone with a lender who asks you a few questions. Based on the answers, the lender pronounces you “pre-qualified” and issues a certificate that you can show to a seller. Sellers agents and their sellers are aware that such certificates are not worth the paper they’re written on because the information has not been verified. The way to make a strong offer today is to get “pre-approved”. This means that all your financial information has been checked and verified by a qualified loan professional and a lender finds that if nothing changes they will lend you the money you need to purchase a home. That’s what you want.

Listing agents place ads to get you to call them – they want to handle both the seller and buyer end of a deal. When reading an ad know that what is not mentioned in the ad is usually more important than what is. For example, many homes have some drawback that any good agent will never mention in an ad, such as traffic noise, power lines, or outdated plumbing and electrics. Remember that the person writing the ad is representing the seller. When you look at a house with the seller’s agent they will not critique the property or point out any drawbacks you should know about – it’s up to you to find them out on your own.

Get a Buyer’s Agent. Your buyer agent looks out for you and your best interests during negotiations on price, inspections and contingencies. In Massachusetts a seller’s agent can work with you as a buyer agent for the property they are listing but they must disclose that in the event of any conflict of interest they work for the seller and look out for the seller’s interests above yours. A buyer’s agent doesn’t cost you anything … and they’ll look out for your interests above the seller’s.

Did you also know that many homes are sold without a sign ever going up or an ad ever being put in the paper? These “pocket listings” or “whisper listings” are often great deals and go to the clients of buyer’s agents who have their finger on the heartbeat of the market. When a buyer’s agent hears a great house will come on the market they call their client who is looking for that type of house and just might get them the exclusive. So in order to get the best buy and to save time not looking at unsuitable properties I always recommend that you hire your own buyer’s agent and if they’re good stick with them. (shameless plug for myself)

Your agent should show you everything available that meets your requirements. Don’t make a decision on any house until you feel that you’ve seen enough to pick the best one. Especially if a town is new to you, it is a good idea to get a feel for the town and its neighborhoods. A good agent has the patience and experience to work with you until you find the right house. Having said that, however, there are two circumstances where you may need to make a fairly quick or bold decision. There are times when a home comes on the market and as your buyer agent, as soon as I see it I know it is what you have been looking for – a reasonably priced house in a good location in great shape. This one won’t last and when I call, if you think you’d like it you should be willing to look at it now and make a decision quickly.

The other situation is that it’s your first or second weekend looking at houses when you find “the one”. It’s great – just what you were looking for. But….you’ve only seen five other houses and what if you find one weeks from now that you like more? Sad to say, I have had clients in this situation and who weeks or months later were saying, “Gosh I wish we had jumped at that house…. it was just what we wanted.” Sometimes the right one is one of the first few you see. Trust your gut if it is.

Here’s a list of my current BEST PRACTICES for BUYERS:

1. Arrange for your mortgage financing up front before you even start to look for a home. Your mortgage broker will help you focus on your ideal price range, your maximum loan and whether there are any credit issues you should correct before buying. They will also prepare a “pre-approval” letter … which you will provide the seller when you are ready to make an offer.

2. Familiarize yourself with the purchase contract details and ask questions. Ask your agent to explain the process of negotiating and counter offers.

3. Use buyer representation. It is important to have an agent who owes his total loyalty to you. Discuss your representation options with your agent. If you are purchasing one of your agent’s company listings  make sure you understand what your agent can and cannot do for you.

4. Review the seller’s disclosure before you make an offer. Your offer should reflect your knowledge of the condition of the property. The seller’s disclosure will tell you of  any known repairs or conditions that would affect what you would be willing to pay. You should know this before you decide on an offering price. If you are unsure go back with the agent and look at the home after you have reviewed the disclosures. Also note, not all brokers use seller’s disclosures … doesn’t make sense to me but there are no state/national laws requiring disclosure. If they don’t use disclosures it doesn’t mean they are hiding anything but you would be wise to assume there are problems not readily visible on a quick walk-through and adjust your offer accordingly.

5. Ask the seller to provide a home warranty when you write the offer. This will cover you for some items that malfunction during the first year of ownership. Cash used for down payment, closing costs, and other home necessities can deplete your cash reserves. A home warranty will reduce the risk of a future drain if a warranted item needs repair that first year.

6. Get the property inspected by a licensed professional home inspector. They will let you know the true condition of what you are buying. Follow the inspector’s advice if he/she recommends that you have another expert inspect a troublesome item. During the inspection you should also ask your inspector to explain how to work or maintain appliances or systems in the home, they are a wonderful resource to help you learn “how to drive the house”.

7. Ask your buyer’s agent to prepare a market analysis of the property before you make the offer. A seller’s agent cannot do this for you. You should know what similar properties are selling for so that you don’t overbuy. Also, if the seller remains firm on his price, you will be able to tell if the value is really there.”

Pros and Cons of Living in Sudbury, Massachusetts

Pros and Cons of Living in Sudbury, Massachusetts

Sudbury is a gorgeous town with lovely homes and an excellent school system. It is best suited for people who like a little more rural feel but want their entertainment, shopping and services nearby. I’ve lived in town for 20 years and based on my experiences the people are very friendly. The community protects open space, has wonderful active/passive recreation opportunities and feels like a world away from Boston, yet is close to the Mass Pike and has multiple train stations nearby.

 

Pros:
1. Easy access to Mass Pike, Rt 128 and Rt 495.
2. Most people don’t want to take time out of their day to drive to the next town to grocery shop or to grab some lunch …
Restaurants in town: Foodies will love the many, varied fare and price points, some deliver, plenty of parking.
Shopping in town: Many small boutique, specialty stores in town but no big box stores. Those are nearby in Natick, Framingham and Marlborough. The shopping mecca of the Natick Collection/Shopper’s World is less than 15 minutes away.
Grocery Stores in town: Sudbury Farms and Shaws, Whole Foods and Stop & Shop in Wayland, Trader Joe’s nearby in Framingham.
3. Excellent police force, extremely low crime rate.
4. Lots of local concerts, sporting events, theaters & amenities
5. Excellent library facility includes on-line reservations & downloads of e-books
6. Commuter rail stations nearby: For South Station closest is Framingham.
For North Station closest is Acton. For Green Line closest is Riverside in Newton. Express bus to Logan airport in Framingham.
7. Although the school system is highly ranked (Boston Magazine ranks it high and the schools have earned recognition multiple times in U.S. News & World Report for college readiness), it doesn’t come across as the pressure-cooker that Lexington and Brookline are. Many parents I have talked with say it delivers “as advertised”.
10. Lots of great community organizations – both civic and social
11. A medium-density population with large lot sizes… ¾ to 1 acre minimum zoning, smaller lots grandfathered, up to 5 acre zoning in historic wayside inn district
12. Schools belong to the Metco program, exposing the kids to diversity.
13. Gleaming new/renovated schools built when State assistance was high.
14. Low town debt load and high bond rating.
15. Home to many fitness centers, yoga studios, hair and nail salons, and larger organized indoor/outdoor sporting facilities.
16. Summer farmer’s markets, CSA’s (Community Supported Agriculture) with different levels of commitment, community gardens and the Sudbury Grange with it’s educational programs.
17. A wide choices of houses of worship nearby in almost any religion you practice
18. Oldest continuously-running Town Meeting
19. Robust senior center with many programs, activities and opportunities for active seniors.

Cons:
1. No commuter rail station/public transportation to speak of in town.
2. Housing tends toward larger size homes and prices are high.
3. There definitely is a lack of walk-ability here.
4. High taxes
5. No town curbside trash pickup. You can pay for pick up or use the transfer/recycling station.
6. There is a lack of socioeconomic diversity.
7. There are restrictions on livestock ownership.

Our mosquito situation is no better or worse than any town outside of Boston. In the interest of conservation we don’t always spray for mosquitoes, but when conditions are extreme in all of eastern Massachusetts we have sprayed for them. That being said, you don’t want to buy a house with a swamp or a pond in your back yard.

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