Jane Dunlap - New England R. E. Center, Inc.



Posted by Jane Dunlap on 1/13/2019

Becoming a home owner for the first time is an exciting milestone for Millennials! Going from renting an apartment to owning your own property represents a big transition from dependency to independence.

For many people, it even symbolizes making the leap from childhood to adulthood. Once you're a homeowner and a property taxpayer, there's often a newfound feeling of being more established and successful.

While home ownership may bestow upon you a boost in status, the added responsibility of paying for your own repairs, maintenance, and upkeep can take an unexpected toll on your budget. With a little extra planning, however, you can avoid many of the pitfalls of home ownership.

Looking at the Big Picture

Here's a misconception that sometimes creates a financial strain for first-time homeowners: "If we can afford to pay $1800 in rent, every month, then we should be able to afford monthly mortgage payments in that same amount!" While that premise may sound logical, there are a few crucial "missing pieces" from that equation -- pieces which could throw your household budget out of kilter!

In addition to the costs associated with purchasing real estate, such as a down payment and closing costs, there's also the matter of home repairs and property maintenance. Depending on where you decide to live, there could be other fees to absorb, too, including garbage collection, yard waste removal, and water usage. Other expenses that first-time homeowners may overlook include the cost of buying a lawnmower, a snow blower, yard maintenance supplies, tools, and furniture. That's why creating a detailed estimated budget, based on your income, debts, and anticipated expenses can help you determine whether you're truly ready to take the plunge into homeownership.

Enlisting Professional Help

A mortgage broker or bank loan officer can provide you with assistance in calculating your financial readiness for purchasing a home. A good real estate agent can also offer insights and guidance into the process of finding, buying, and owning a house you can comfortably afford. They should be able to provide you with vital information about school taxes, property taxes, average utility bills, homeowner association fees (if any), and any issues revealed in the seller's disclosure form.

One way to avoid -- or at least be prepared for -- costs that often accompany home ownership is to have a qualified property inspector take a close look at the condition of everything in the house from the basement and attic to major appliances and structural features. They can generally tell you whether there are any concerns about mechanical systems, water in the basement, foundation damage, issues with property drainage, the electrical system, potential plumbing problems, and dozens of other vital checkpoints

Whether you're a first-time house hunter or a seasoned homeowner, it pays to understand, anticipate, and budget for the many costs of being a property owner. While owning your own home can be a rewarding and satisfying experience, a guiding principle to keep in mind as you consider available homes on the market is "caveat emptor" (Let the buyer beware)!




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Posted by Jane Dunlap on 1/6/2019

According to avid football fans, the winter holiday season extends all the way through early February, specifically through Super Bowl Sunday. Parties, events, and gatherings for the big game day take planning and forethought, so why would you interrupt the extended party season by putting your home on the market?

Reasons why you might sell now:

  • Proximity: If your property is near this year’s Super Bowl (or a future venue), market your home to investors as a game-day rental. Savvy buyers look for ways to cash in on the big event.
  • Purpose: A home with a massive bonus or media room is perfect for a future fan gathering. Even if the sale doesn't close before the game this year, buyers that like to entertain for the event will see the potential for next year's party. Be sure to market your home’s advantages as next year’s go-to Super Bowl party’s location.
  • Participation: Let’s face it, not everyone takes part in the Super Bowl frenzy, uh, festivities. Many buyers do not schedule their lives around the NFL annual championship game at all. Those potential buyers look for a home when it suits them. While you may not want to have an open house on game day, having one the day before could be perfect for you.
  • Payday: Earlier income tax filers may have their refunds before the end of January. If that’s the last little nudge they needed to put their down-payment savings over the top, they’ll be ready to check out what’s available on the market.
  • Primetime: Typically, the winter market has lower inventories, making it a perfect time to capture buyers needing to make a home purchase during the colder months.

If you do put your home on the market before the Super Bowl, take care to prepare your home for a winter sale adequately. Keep walkways, driveways, and entryways clear of ice, snow, and debris. Showcase your energy efficient windows by keeping window coverings at a minimum and set the thermostat to a comfortable, but not over-warm temperature. When showing your home, light a fire in your gas fireplace, but avoid burning a wood fire since some buyers might be allergic to wood smoke.

Your local real estate professional understands the winter market for your area, so utilize their marketing expertise to optimize your sale.




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Posted by Jane Dunlap on 12/30/2018

The location of the homes you’re looking at in your search is key. You probably have at least a couple of cities and towns narrowed down, but do you know specifics? Is there a particular neighborhood that you would prefer to live in? The street that you choose to live on will also have a lot to do with the way that you conduct your life. If you live on the main road, for example, you’ll face a lot of noise and traffic. If you have kids, that may not be the ideal situation. There’s many reasons that living on a dead end street is the ideal situation. Be on the lookout for homes on cul-de-sacs and dead end streets in your home search. Read on to see the many advantages of living on a street that’s not a throughway.


The Traffic Is Significantly Less


There are very few cars that head down a street that’s not a throughway. No one will be using your street as a shortcut. This makes it much safer for children to play outside and it reduces noise in the neighborhood. 


There’s A Sense Of Security


Since there isn’t a lot of traffic on a dead-end street, it‘s easy to identify strange cars that are lurking around. The people in your neighborhood will all be more alert to any kind of unusual activity on the street. This allows for a more secure feeling in your own backyard. 


A Dead End Street Is A Great Place To Raise Kids


Your kids will have a bit more freedom to play and be kids when you live on a dead end street. There’s less traffic to worry about while the kids play, yet you have a great opportunity to teach your kids about traffic safety rules and how to act around strangers. Your children will also become close with other children in the neighborhood. The adults who live in your neighborhood will become acquainted with your children as well. You’ll definitely appreciate a tight-knit community if you have kids. 


Your Property Value Will Stay High


It’s hard to say that a home on a dead end street will decrease in value. With a strong community sense and safety perks, these homes will be in demand. When you do decide to sell your home, you’re sure to get a good return on your property investment if you choose a home on a dead end street.




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Posted by Jane Dunlap on 12/23/2018

That starter house is too small and it’s time to move up to something that better fits your growing needs. The original plan—sell the current house and buy a new one—might not be the only option. What if you could keep both?

In many areas, housing is in lower supply. Some buyers are choosing to keep their original home, making it a rental, while buying a new one to live in. Is this a good plan for you? Here are some reasons why it might be (and some why it might not):

You don’t need the equity

Your current home has equity—the increase in value, plus the amount you’ve paid down on the existing mortgage—that you will receive if you sell it.The typical plan is to use that equity to make the down payment on the new home.If you don’t need that equity for your down payment, however, you could keep this home and rent it.

You don’t have equity

If you purchased your home during the last housing boom, or you got a second mortgage or refinanced and took cash out, your home may not have much equity. The cost to sell your home (real estate agent commissions, closing costs, etc.) might just eat up the equity you do have. In this case, keeping the home and renting it out might work out better for you than selling it.

You want to become a landlord

Turning a home into a rental is a business decision. Because it has its own costs, the decision to become a landlord should not be a casual decision. But, if part of your long-term plan includes real estate investment, start with the house you already own. The uptick in the economy and resultant business expansion in many areas means rental housing is at a premium, making this a prime time to own a rental.

The downside of being a landlord

Because it is a business decision, becoming a landlord is not for everyone.This is especially true if your family lived in the home and you have emotional attachments and memories built around it. The possibility of one or more months of no rental income must be factored as well, with a cushion to handle that contingency so that your mortgage is paid and the home you’re living in isn’t jeopardized. Additionally, setting aside funds for repairs from potential renter damage and general maintenance gives peace of mind to a new landlord.

If it makes business sense, but the idea of dealing directly with renters seems daunting or you don’t have the necessary emotional detachment,consider hiring a professional property manager. These real estate professionals know how to set appropriate rental amounts, execute lease agreements, handle repair and other costs, and screen potential renters.

Let a real estate professional know your plans. They can connect you with a property management professional to make becoming a landlord a smooth transition.




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Posted by Jane Dunlap on 12/16/2018

If you plan to attend an open house, it usually pays to be prepared. That way, you'll know exactly which questions to ask during an open house and can ensure that you can gain the insights that you need to determine whether a residence is right for you.

Now, let's take a look at three key questions to ask a listing agent during an open house.

1. Why is this home for sale?

Although a home listing provides plenty of information about a residence, it is unlikely to explain why a homeowner is selling his or her house. Thus, you should use an open house to find out exactly why a home is for sale.

In many instances, a listing agent will be honest and forthright about why a homeowner has decided to add his or her residence to the real estate market. Once you receive an answer to your query, you can better understand whether a house matches your expectations.

On the other hand, if a listing agent hesitates or shies away from your question, you should be skeptical. At this point, you should continue to dig for more information about a residence to learn about any potential flaws.

2. Are there any home problems that I need to know about?

An open house enables you to get an up-close look at a residence. Furthermore, the event allows you to find out about a residence's pros and cons from a listing agent.

Ask a listing agent about any home problems – you'll be glad you did. The listing agent should be able to provide you with plenty of insights into a home's condition, ensuring you can make an informed decision about whether to submit an offer.

A listing agent is likely to be honest with you about any problems with a house. By doing so, this agent will reduce the risk of a homebuyer later rescinding an offer after a home inspection.

3. Have there been any offers on the house?

It is important to find out if there is any competition for a house, especially if you discover your dream residence. Thus, during an open house, you should ask a listing agent if any offers have been submitted on a residence.

If a listing agent responds "Yes" to your query, you may want to act fast to submit a competitive offer on a house. Because if you wait too long to make an offer on your dream residence, you risk losing this house to a rival homebuyer.

Lastly, if you need help getting ready for an open house, you should collaborate with a real estate agent. This housing market professional can provide deep insights into a residence before you attend an open house. Therefore, a real estate agent will help you take the guesswork out of getting the most out of any open house, at any time.

Want to optimize the value of an open house? Ask the aforementioned questions, and you can get the information that you need to fully evaluate a residence.




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