Digital dependence getting you down?

I was driving to an appointment the other day when my phone died. Black screen would not open no matter what. I needed the navigation because I didn’t know where I was going or for that matter where I was! What to do?

Make a phone call – let my client know I would be late. Have you seen a pay phone lately?

I could probably have managed to source a phone but the number for my client was… that’s right, in my phone.

Directions? I am sure if I located a gas station or a knowledgeable pedestrian I might have been able to find my destination….

Fortunately, I looked up to see a phone store and it was my provider’s. After much back and forth we got enough charge for me to text my client. After a light snack at the place next door, I had enough charge to get my navigation working and to my appointment.

Last week, I was in a committee meeting, when we were looking for a good date for our next meeting one woman pulled out a calendar (yes, a paper calendar) and before any of us pulling up calendars on our phones she had the date input and was on her way out the door. I often wonder if this technology is making life easier or more challenging and I am still not sure. I am missing my Filofax but it was awfully heavy to lug around, I might buy a map book to keep in my car, I am definitely buying a simple paper calendar to carry in my notebook, and I might print out my contacts and keep them safe somewhere…

But if I never ever use a pay phone again I will be ok with that.

Cheers!

Share Button

In memory of a petite giant in real estate and the world

My friend, and realtor, Judy Moses was killed in a senseless car accident this past week. I cannot stop thinking about it and her and loss. I cannot stop thinking about all the things I wanted to share with her about our recent move and how great she is to work with. About all the professional stories that I never got to tell her, or the lessons learned that I was waiting to share when we had the time…
Judy was a terrific agent because she cared so passionately about her buyers and sellers. She wanted them to be happy with their housing choices and completely educated before they made that choice. I remember in 2005 when there was plenty of inventory and houses were flying off the shelf like bread before a hurricane, Judy told me that she hated the market even though she was selling a lot of real estate. She hated it because she felt like some buyers were making bad decisions because winning a bidding war was becoming more like sport. She would rather not make a sale than have a buyer make a bad choice!
We talk about living in the moment. Boy, that can be hard to do in our fast-paced world. What does it even mean to live in the moment? I think it means, pick up the phone and say hi to a friend, be spontaneous on a beautiful day and have lunch outside with a friend or colleague. Drop everything and go home and love your dog. Give him a kiss and take him for a walk! Notice the sky, find the good in everyone, give generously of yourself.
If you can find your self living in the moment, take a minute to celebrate Judy Moses, because you will be honoring her by living as she strived to do.
Especially, the part about kissing your dog!
Rest in peace my friend.
Share Button

What are you willing to give up for home ownership?

A huge hurdle for young, first-time buyers to overcome when looking to purchase their first piece of real estate is coming up with the down payment. Saving can mean sacrifice, what is buying a home worth to you?

Consider these several ways to save listed below:

  • Cancel that vacation. The average vacation is $1500 which means that if there are two of you the cost is $3000.
  • Is it time to sell your car? If you don’t need it for work daily and have alternatives, this may be a way to raise cash and reduce expenses at the same time.
  • Party Less! The cost of going out, having fun, drinking and eating gets costlier. Limit your partying and stay home with friends or go to free events.
  • Clear out your house. The average home has potentially 100’s if not 1000’s of dollars of unwanted or unused items which can be sold online or at a yard sale.
  • Stop renting if you can. Moving home may feel like a big step back but the monthly savings will get you into home ownership faster.
  • Bring on a roommate to reduce your monthly costs.
  • Ask Mom and Dad for help.

Here’s the GOOD NEWS!

Many consumers and real estate professionals are under the misbelief that a home purchase transaction requires a 20% down payment. This is simply not the truth. There may be programs, property types and loan categories that require a 20% down payment but the following do not:

  • USDA – 100% financing in communities considered rural. You would be surprised at how many communities meet the USDA requirements for rural.
  • VA – 100% financing for eligible veterans.
  • FHA – Requires a 3.5% down payment but that can come from a gift.
  • State Housing Agencies – Offer many varieties of low down payment programs including down payment assistance which can amount to 100% financing.
  • Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac – Both agencies offer programs with as little as 3% down.

All of the above programs have various requirements.

To determine what is best for you, contact MEP and a mortgage professional will help determine which programs work for your situation and out of those, which program will be best for your current and future financial needs.

We are here to help you learn more, grow more and win! Contact us today!

Cheers!

Share Button

Buy When The Time Is Right For You

Prior to the real estate meltdown that brought on the ‘great recession’ a decade ago, real estate values were soaring, and buyers would do anything to get in on the action. Wall Street firmly believed that real estate values would never decline as they continued to create riskier products to stimulate sales, until the whole system collapsed.

I am not predicting future real estate doom. However, in many parts of the country real estate prices have been rising aggressively for several years. Interest rates are up and going higher and wages are not keeping up with housing costs. Will we see another great decline in housing values? Will prices continue to rise? What really is a good time to buy, or for that matter sell and how do you know?

We can never really know what might impact the real estate market and housing values. Just after 9/11, a sizzling real estate market was immediately chilled and stayed cold for many months. Certainly, buyers and sellers could not have predicted that in anyway, or the impact that event would have on the market.

If you want to buy because the time is right for you and your life, do it! Remember that a house or condo is not like a pair of shoes from Nordstrom’s, you cannot return a house at any time for any reason. Yes, in today’s market you could probably purchase in April and make money selling again in May, if the house didn’t fit well or was the wrong color. I would suggest that is now is the time for you to buy. Having said that, you need to be sure that you will be staying in the property for a good amount of time, like 5 – 10 years. You don’t want to make a purchase and decide that you are going back to school on the West coast in a year, or you are changing jobs which requires a relocation, getting married and need more space, moving for any reason.

At today’s prices, in today’s aggressive seller’s market, look for a home that will be your home for life or close to it, so you don’t have to fear a market decline impacting your plans or your life.

The best time to buy is when buying is best for you.

Share Button

Are Your Clients Listening to You?

What is most important to you in a transaction of any kind? What is important to you in your employment, in your relationships, in your daily life?

When I ask a potential employee, a prospective referral partner, a possible mortgage client I generally hear the same answer, communication!

What does it mean, what is great communication?

The world is a complicated place and real estate and mortgage transactions are even more complicated than what most people must address in their daily lives. When crafting your communication strategy consider this thought process, great communication is answering the question before it gets asked.

Effective and timely communication is the bedrock of great marketing and marketing is in everything that we do in our businesses. In real estate, great communication means updating the buyers or sellers and their agents involved in the transaction before they reach out to you. This does not happen by accident. You must create a weekly schedule for updates, tell all parties the schedule and stick to it. if you are actively engaged in updates, you will naturally be answering questions before they get asked. Also, let all parties know that if something comes up between updates they will receive a special communication. Providing timely updates will also contribute to strengthening your reputation as a great agent.

Each and every one of us has a different communication style. We all simply process information in different ways. Therefore, it is important to ask your clients what their preferred method of communication is. Some consumers may hate the phone and prefer email, while some like to hear from you. In certain situations, you may have to dictate how the communication will be delivered. However just asking shows that you care about the clients in the transaction.

It is important to remain cognizant of the role we play. For our customers, we are helping facilitate one of the biggest decisions in their lives. Effective and timely communication is the glue that holds everything together, inspiring confidence and delivering on promises.

Share Button

Customize your own mortgage terms

The cat is out the bag…you can customize your loan terms and potentially get a much lower rate.

Odd term mortgages, almost unheard of years ago, are becoming more and more prevalent in today’s marketplace. The simple idea is that you can customize the loan term to match a financial goal or a major life event. In the past, these loans were only available through small banks or credit unions, but now most lenders can provide this option.

There is nothing unusual about this loan except the terms. The terms can range from 8 years to 29 years. They can be used for a new home purchase, cash-in or cash-out refinance with one of the most popular ways being a refinance.

There are several reasons why you would want to be in control of setting your own terms.

• You want to refinance but not extend the term of your loan. This loan is for you if you don’t want to re-set your loan terms back to 30 years when doing a traditional refinance. Example: You purchased your home three years ago and rates are lower, but the notion of “re-setting” your loan back to 30 years seems wasteful given all that you’ve paid the last three years. A 27-year loan is the perfect solution, so your payments are not in vain.

• You want to lower your interest rate and build equity faster. This loan is for you if you pay a little extra toward your mortgage every month as an attempt to pay it off sooner, but you would like to refinance to a lower rate. These loans tend to have lower interest rates.

• You want to customize your loan to your budget. This loan is for you if you want to customize a loan around what you can afford to pay by controlling the terms and possibly lowering the interest rate. This product can potentially shave years off the term of the loan and save you thousands of dollars in interest payments.

• You want to free up money to use for a major upcoming life event. This loan is for you if you have a major life event that you want to plan for such as retiring soon or sending a child to college. You can free up some money by paying off your loan early and eliminating the monthly mortgage payment at a time when you will need that money the most.

If you are an extremely disciplined person, you can accomplish strict payoff goals without the odd term loan by calculating the extra amount you would have to make to the principle each month and tailoring your payments to meet that date. If, however, you don’t have the financial discipline to make the extra payments consistently, you might want to consider a customized mortgage. The only downside is if your mortgage is paid off early, you lose the mortgage interest deduction on your taxes.

The odd term loan should be considered a financial tool for building equity quicker and shortening the term of your loan.

Smaller lenders and specialty lenders can run different amortization tables, so you can compare the payment and other details to see if this option is right for you.

Share Button

Mortgage Memo #16

Everything is marketing, for all businesses, no matter what business you are in, from Real Estate to Mortgages, to Accounting to a Medical practice, we are all customers and they are all a service in one form or another. If a Doctor consistently keeps patients waiting for 30 minutes at some point that Doctor is going to lose business, there are other doctors with more organized practices.

Marketing begins with first impressions, from how you look to how you shake hands. Are you dressed professionally? Do you smile, make eye contact, have a firm and friendly handshake?

How does your office space present, is it clean and neat and organized? What impression does your business give when people walk in the door? Is the staff energetic and friendly? Is the customer made to feel like they are the top priority?

How is your communication, is it clear and well written in email, or articulate and clear on the phone or in person?

Whatever business you are in, your marketing department starts with you. Your company could be spending millions on radio, television and billboard marketing, but if your personal brand is not in great shape no amount of marketing dollars will help you win in the game of sales.

Remember we are all in sales no matter what, and all day what we are doing is selling ourselves.

Share Button

Ready Set Go! – Preparing to Purchase a Home in 2018

8 tips for a successful purchase in 2018

By all estimates and gut feelings, 2018 is going to continue to present the same challenges for buying real estate as in the past few years, too few properties for too many buyers, multiple offers and finally…. heartbreak. In fact, 2018 could be even more challenging for buyers if the fed continues to raise interest rates which could heat up the market even more.

Here are a few things you can do to prepare to win in the real estate game in 2018:

Talk to a lender – Your first step is to find a local lender. You will typically find that local lenders tend to be more hands on and available and can offer a variety of loan programs to fit your needs. They will help determine how much house you can afford and walk you through the approval process.

Keep your finances in order, document and keep records – This is vital as these items will have a bearing on your final approval. It is imperative that you don’t make any large purchases or open any new lines of credit. You want to make sure you have all your financial statements, tax returns and income documents ready to present to your loan officer.

Save, save, save… Although you can purchase a home with as little as 3.5% down a 20% down payment is ideal. Either way homeownership can cost money, so saving now will help you when you buy your new home and want to make improvements or need to do any repairs.

Keep your credit clean and improve it if needed. With the Fed looking at possibly raising rates this year, your credit score will play a big role in obtaining the best interest rate you can. Pay off what you can and be extra diligent with all your credit card and loan payments. Your loan officer can help determine how you can improve your credit and put you in the best position to buy.

Consider buying a property that needs works, this could mean less competition! If you are handy around the home, maybe a house that needs a little extra TLC may be the way to go. You should have more negotiating power with the price and you can really make the home your own. There are renovation loan programs which will help you purchase less desirable properties and you can improve them to your taste so don’t shop for home beautiful, look for an ugly duckling that you can turn into a swan.

Prepare to be aggressive. If you want the property, offer at or above the list price with your agent’s recommendation. It is no secret that it’s a seller’s market. The days of low offers are far behind us. I would strongly advise hiring a buyer’s agent that will represent you in the transaction. They can help craft an offer that has real teeth but still makes financial sense for you.

Now is the time to start getting everything in order to make your move for 2018!

Share Button

Mortgage Memo #14

Yes, we have been here before, another amazing win by our beloved Patriots and another trip to the Super bowl!

I have observed this before; how a Pats’ trip to the big game impacts sales in the Greater Boston Market. I might be crazy, but this is what I have witnessed:
Forget about open houses between now and the big game, everyone is too distracted by another potential Super Bowl win that they are afraid to chance disrupting karma or angering the football gods by making offers on a house.
All energy must be focused on the upcoming game and what food to prepare to soak up the alcohol that is going to be consumed.

Then what:
If karma turns against us and (gulp, we actually lose the big one) the buyers will have to sit at home and nurse their wounds and their hangovers and slowly but surely, over the next couple of weeks as their depression eases, they will return to their house hunting duties.

BUT if they WIN…. Irrational exuberance abounds, and a great euphoria will erupt over New England! Monday morning MLS will be buzzing, phones will be ringing, and the buyers will be buying in droves, because everyone wants to own a piece of Patriots Nation.

Ok, that is my take on the Patriots real estate meter, I hope that you have had some fun with me. Let me know if this proves true in you practice. While your buyers are waiting anxiously for Super Bowl Sunday be sure that they get in touch with a lender and are thoroughly qualified and prepared to buy, there will be a lot of competition post game and as the Pats have taught us, among many things, being prepared is essential for the big wins.

Share Button

Preparing to buy a home in 2018

By all estimates and gut feelings, 2018 is going to continue to present the same challenges for buying real estate as in the past few years, too few properties for too many buyers, multiple offers and finally…. heartbreak. In fact, 2018 could be even more challenging for buyers if the Fed continues to raise interest rates, which could heat up the market even more.

Here are a few things you can do to prepare to win in the real estate game in 2018:

Talk to a lender – Your first step is to find a local lender. You will typically find that local lenders tend to be more hands-on and available and can offer a variety of loan programs to fit your needs. They will help determine how much house you can afford and walk you through the approval process.

Keep your finances in order, document and keep records – This is vital as these items will have a bearing on your final approval. It is imperative that you don’t make any large purchases or open any new lines of credit. You want to make sure you have all your financial statements, tax returns and income documents ready to present to your loan officer.

Save, save, save – Although you can purchase a home with as little as 3.5 percent down, a 20 percent down payment is ideal. Either way home ownership can cost money, so saving now will help you when you buy your new home and want to make improvements or need to do any repairs.

Keep your credit clean and improve it if needed – With the Fed looking at possibly raising rates this year, your credit score will play a big role in obtaining the best interest rate you can. Pay off what you can and be extra diligent with all your credit card and loan payments. Your loan officer can help determine how you can improve your credit and put you in the best position to buy.

Consider buying a property that needs works, this could mean less competition – If you are handy around the home, maybe a house that needs a little extra TLC may be the way to go. You should have more negotiating power with the price and you can really make the home your own. There are renovation loan programs which will help you purchase less desirable properties and you can improve them to your taste so don’t shop for home beautiful, look for an ugly duckling that you can turn into a swan.

Prepare to be aggressive – If you want the property, offer at or above the list price with your agent’s recommendation. It is no secret that it’s a seller’s market. The days of low offers are far behind us. I would strongly advise hiring a buyer’s agent who will represent you in the transaction. They can help craft an offer that has real teeth but still makes financial sense for you.

Now is the time to start getting everything in order to make your move for 2018.

Share Button