Moving With Young Kids

Child Proof A Home

When moving into a new place it’s easy to forget how different the world looks from the perspective of a baby, but this perspective is important to keep in mind as families prepare to introduce their latest family addition to their new home.  In order to make your house child-friendly, you must first access your house and consider whether or not your house is safe in general.

Baby-proofing your home means you have taken into account the dangerous objects that might be easily accessible to your baby, and you have secured anything that they may try to open, pull, play with, or even put in their mouth that could possibly hurt them.  Before bringing your new bundle of joy home, use these helpful tips to provide a better and safer environment for your home, to ensure that you’ve covered all of the basics of baby safety.

Recognize Hazards

As adults, we possess the ability to balance our curiosity with caution, keeping us safe in most cases.  This differs for babies; however, it is important to remember that babies don’t see the world as adults do. As babies continue to grow, their curiosity grows within their surroundings. Curiosity is what compels them to explore.

As a parent, it is critical that your first step in baby-proofing your home is to see the world as our little one sees it.  Recognize things that could be harmful and removing those objects so that there is no chance of your little one coming into contact with any harmful objects.

Chemicals

Household ChemicalsBe mindful of where you store chemicals in your new home, such as cleaning supplies, detergents and etc.  You should remember not to put chemicals in lower cabinets. If you have done so remove them from that area and place them in a new location outside of your baby’s reach.

Be sure that paint and other hazardous substances are stored in airtight containers on high shelves.

Simply moving chemicals to a storage room and locking the door is enough to prevent a crawling baby from harming themselves. As your child begins to get older and is able to walk on their own, you should take extra steps to certify that there is a safe barrier between your child and dangerous materials.

Small Objects

As a rule of thumb, anything that is small enough to be placed in a baby’s mouth should be moved and stored in a different location.  Magnets, pens and small tools are considered “choking hazards” and should be placed out of your child’s reach.

Place these small objects in drawers high above your baby or inside cabinets. You should secure them with latches that prevent your child from accessing them.  There are a large variety of latches and locks created for the purpose of making it difficult for your child to get near anything that could hurt them, also to limit the chance of injury.

Miscellaneous Hazards

Electrical Cord is Baby HazardThink about the times that you, as an adult, have almost injured yourself after tripping over an electrical cord. These cords can be even more dangerous for a baby. A number of accidents could occur as a result of exposed electrical cords. Do as much as you possibly can to prevent this by gathering and tying electrical cords so that they cannot be reached by your baby.

A set of stairs is something like a yellow brick road that an inquisitive little infant will feel the urge to follow. Rather than leading to an adventure, this could instead lead to disaster. Baby gates are a reliable go-to solution for this problem.

Go even further by installing two baby gates. Place one baby gate about three to four steps up. Then position the second gate near the top of the stairs. Due to the gate being positioned higher, it decreases your child’s chances of crawling over it, but in case you have a gifted climber on your hands, you will have a second gate which serves as another obstacle for them. If the baby happens to take a tumble, there is only a small amount of distance between the two gates.

Improve the Safety of Your Furniture

Falls and collisions with furniture are a couple of the most common threats to your baby’s safety. Secure furniture in place to decrease its potential of injuring your child.

·Add cushioned corner guards or edging to coffee and side tables, hearths, or any other sharp surfaces.

· Mount and secure bookshelves to walls so they don’t topple over.

· Place blockers in electrical sockets to protect your child from sticking their fingers in them.

When it comes to ensuring your child’s safety, there’s nothing that you wouldn’t do.  Although you can’t prevent certain accidents from happening, minimizing their potential of occurring is crucial to the safety of your child.  Before you bring your new baby home, make sure that your house is prepared for the amount of exploration that your infant will no doubt take part in.

Julie SmithThis article on how to baby proof your home comes to you from Julie Smith, a mother and a wife who enjoys DIY projects, blogging and simply spending time with her family. She is the writer of www.iheartthishouse.com , blogging is her new found interest and she hopes to educate and inform fellow readers of this post. Julie is a firm believer in family, friends, fun and an American Home Shield secure home.

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Title V Inspections

by Bill Gassett on August 22, 2013 · 0 comments

Title V Inspections 101

Massachusetts Title VIf you live in Massachusetts and your home has a septic system, you’ll more than likely need to have the system inspected and approved before transferring ownership or making significant modifications to your home.

What is a Title V inspection?

The set of state regulations that govern this process is called Title V. These regulations were created in 1995 by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) to protect waterways and the environment. Septic system inspections are a key piece of these regulations. Each city’s Board of Health administers Title V and keeps a record of a home’s as-built septic plans, as well as inspection results, which details the condition of the septic system and its capacity.

When do you need a Title V inspection?

Title V regulations require septic system inspections anytime ownership of a property is transferred. This includes selling the home to new owners or inheriting the property. There are, however, some transfers in which homeowners are exempt from a Title V inspection. According to the city of Yarmouth, MA’s website, these include:

  • Transferring ownership of a home between current spouses.
  • Transferring between parents and their children.
  • Transferring between full siblings.
  • When the property is held in a trust where at least one beneficiary is a first-degree relationship.

In addition to transfers of ownership, an inspection is typically required when the use of the property changes, such as converting a home into a commercial office space. A Title V inspection is also required when properties are combined or divided.

You may also need a Title V inspection if you make additions or improvements to your home. Although not all types of home additions dictate a septic system inspection under Title V regulations, adding bathrooms, showers, or bedrooms warrant an inspection.

Who performs a Title V inspection?

A Title V inspection should be done by a certified septic pumping professional, licensed in the state of Massachusetts. These professionals can also perform any necessary repairs, upgrades, or replacements necessary for compliance with the regulations.

In Massachusetts, the state does allow for a Confidential Voluntary Assessment, which means a homeowner can have their septic system inspected without having to submit their finding to the Board of Health. This could give the homeowner a heads-up to any problems or repairs needed before the official Title V inspection.

Here are a few septic professionals who perform Title V inspections throughout Massachusetts:

What does a Title V inspection entail?

Massachusetts Title V SepticWhen inspection time comes, the inspector will look at all parts of your septic system, including the cesspool, leach field, distribution box and septic tank. The inspector will also check for hydraulic failure and check the high groundwater elevation. According to the MassDEP, the septic tank, distribution box and the cesspool can be inspected at the absolute minimum.

The inspector will provide information on water usage for the last two years, as well as make sure that the number of bedrooms the septic system is rated for is the number of bedrooms in the house. Ensuring accuracy on this point can save homeowners a lot of headache if you ever want to sell your house.

Under Massachusetts’ regulations, the number of bedrooms a house can claim to have is dictated by the capacity of the septic system. For example, a home could have four rooms that are suitable for bedrooms, but if the Title V inspection determines that the septic system has only enough capacity for three bedrooms, then the home must be listed as a three-bedroom home.

This can come as quite a shock to homeowners, and it can obviously have a negative effect on the property’s value. Worse yet, ignoring this aspect of a Title V inspection can mean you’re essentially misleading prospective homebuyers, which can trigger expensive litigation. For this reason it’s important for homeowners to get their Title V inspection completed well before putting their home on the market. Under Title V regulations, the property owner has two years to fix problems found in an inspection.

It’s a good idea to obtain the original septic system plans from your local Board of Health and have them on-hand during inspection, as well as records of maintenance and pumping that’s been done on the system.

Once inspection is completed, the inspector will submit his findings to the Board of Health and they will give a conditional, pass or fail on the septic system. The Board of Health will keep a record of the results, which for any home buyer, is great because they can obtain the information before deciding to buy. However, home buyers should note that Title V inspections only assess the septic system’s current functioning – the report isn’t considered an indication of future performance or the expected longevity of the system.

Also keep in mind that when you receive a Title V report from your inspector and it says “pass” that does not mean that you have completely cleared the hurdle of what is necessary in Massachusetts. Local board of healths have broad power over septic systems and could potentially deny the approval for some reason. This really becomes important because there is the potential that you could be heading to closing on your home thinking you have a passing Title V when in fact you do not! See Massachusetts Title V approval for a complete run down.

What if your Title V doesn’t pass?

The first order of business is to call the local Board of Health and a local engineer. The latter will help to assess the situation and determine the best course of action. One thing the engineer can do is see if there is a reserve area in the original design of your septic system, meaning it has the capability to add more leach trenches. Another option is to come up with a design in the event that the entire system needs to be relocated.

Relocating or replacing a septic system can be costly and it’s a good idea to bid the project to several septic installers once the design is completed. This will help you find the best price within your budget. If money is tight, there are a few programs available to alleviate the financial burden of having to replace your septic system – tax credit and low-cost financing through the Massachusetts Housing Finance Agency (MHFA), the Farmers Home Administration (FHA) and the USDA Rural Development Program.

Megan McClure is a freelance writer based outside Philadelphia. Find her on Google+.

 

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Semantic Search Explained

Semantic SearchWhen I was growing up, last century, buying or renting a house in the laid-back city of Brisbane was a relatively straightforward, low-key affair. You asked your pals who was the Realtor in their community and you visited their office sometime in the week.

There were two implicit statements in this approach that, with time, have been completely lost. First that the Realtor was the most trustworthy person to do business with in the community when it came to buying or renting property, they were the ones with all the knowledge, expertise and vested interest.

They knew the community inside out, knew their business and worked to build up their reputation. Second that the Realtor’s interests and yours were roughly aligned. Yes, they wanted to make money, but they were not out to rip you off and as long as you understood that then the entire relational exchange was a little like two friends agreeing on a deal.

In retrospect it all sounds naively rustic, counter-intuitive to how we expect the world to run today when every deal needs to be inspected from every side and even then there is a good chance that something had been missed. Trust and alignment of interests seem to be notions that belong to a bygone century, not our fast-paced, digitally-enabled world.

Yet that’s where we’re headed towards in the 3.0 phase of the web that’s presided over by Google’s semantic search. As search gradually transits from an engine that provides probably answers to a search query that we then have to go through individually, ourselves, to one that provides answers, trust becomes a key component.

To work semantic search needs trust. It needs our trust in the veracity of the results it gives us and it needs, itself, to be able to work out the trustworthiness of the answers it provides. So a search, for instance, using Google Voice on mobile for “the best Realtor in Hopkinton” should produce a handful of choices that don’t just happen to be Realtors but are actually “the best”.

The way Google’s semantic search does that requires activities on its part that entail such complicated concepts as “entity extraction”, “relational identification”,  specific “data types”, “strings”, “alphabet sets”, and “arrays”. The end result however is that when it provides an answer that answer is trustworthy and for the Realtor using search to get prospects that’s pure gold.

Disregarding all the technicalities of this new search the question from a Realtor’s point of view is what does one have to do to make the “trustworthy” list? The answer to that is much easier to get a fix on than the mathematics of semantic search:

Semantic Search For Real Estate

Real Estate Semantic Search1. Establish Yourself. Not all Realtors are equal. Some specialize in rentals and others in high-end properties. Some will only deal with residential properties and others will focus on business properties. Your digital presence, anywhere, has to make this crystal clear.

2. Tell Google where you are. If you post content about Houston and happen to be active in Philadelphia you’re not really helping Google understand where you are no matter what you say. There are a number of ways to establish location including using Google Local for Business, your Google+ profile, your Google+ Page, your LinkedIn profile, your website, your blog and every digital presence you have which permits you to establish your location.

 A good example of what a Realtor can do to establish trust within their community and surrounding area is to create a community page that establishes their expertise. Check out this community page that covers Shrewsbury Massachusetts Real Estate, schools, demographics and other town data that a perspective buyer or seller may be interested in. Would you not agree that a page like this builds trust and expertise surrounding the town of Shrewsbury MA? If you are a Realtor this is one example of how you can build your credibility.

3. Tell Google what you do. If you’re buying and selling golf courses but only blog about the daily life of a Realtor you’re making it really hard for Google to establish your expertise. By all means write about your daily woes but also write about why not every golf course is a sound investment, for instance. How one goes about getting the finance necessary for buying a golf course and what are the signs that a golf course is a good investment.

4. Tell the world what you do. Don’t just write. In the age of connectivity time is critical and no one has a lot of it to spend on reading all the time. Videos, Gifs, pictures and Tweets, all form a rich tapestry of content that helps create a more granular picture of who you are and what you do.

5. Connect the dots. The semantic web is social. The sharing of your content across social networks, the connectivity you make between the people you meet and the content you share, all form part of a complex matrix where what you share, who you are and you do become part of a very detailed picture.

All of this of course presupposes two things (again). First that you have a very carefully worked out content creation strategy that allows you to slice-and-dice your ‘message’ and inject it into the content you create. Secondly that Google’s semantic search is good enough to piece it back altogether.

Google is getting there with the second. To win in the semantic web you’d better make sure you’re there with the first. Keep in mind while the example of semanti search here is a real estate agent, this works the same whether you are a lawyer, plumber, or other industry.

David AmerlandThe real estate article above was written by David Amerland who is one of the foremost experts on the subject of search engine optimization (SEO). David Amerland is the author of ‘The Social Media Mind’ and the best-selling ‘SEO Help’, ‘Online Marketing Help’ and ‘Brilliant SEO’.

His books on online marketing, SEO and the social media revolution have helped thousands of entrepreneurs build successful online businesses. When he is not busy writing he advises companies and start ups on social media strategy and gives talks about the social media revolution on the web.

He maintains his own blog at http://helpmyseo.com where you can find practical SEO and social media advice and spends more time online than is probably healthy.

You can follow both David Amerland on Google Plus  and Bill Gassett on Google Plus where you will find both using this great social media tool to create relationship with others and share content worth reading. We both hope to see you there!

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Closing A Short Sale

Short sales can easily take two to three times longer to complete than a traditional real estate transaction. Keeping this in mind it makes sense to be well prepared if you need to short sale a Massachusetts home. Follow the outline below and you will be well on your way to increasing your chances that you will end up at a closing table.

Hire A Realtor Who Closes Short Sales

Massachusetts Short Sale RealtorChoosing a Realtor who understands the short sale process is a critical one. On of the biggest stumbling blocks to short sale success is hiring any ole real estate agent to represent your interests in a short sale. Trust me there are Realtors taking short sale business who are absolutely clueless. Even though it is against the code of ethics for a Realtor who has no knowledge of short sales to list them, it happens all the time. In other words don’t choose the short sale Realtor pictured to the right!

Some of the first steps of a Realtor representing a short sale candidate include:

  • Conducting a thorough interview of the short seller
  • Establishing whether there is a valid hardship
  • Determining lender/lenders
  • Figuring out approximate remaining mortgage balance
  • Determine what type of loan i.e FHA, Conventional or Fannie Mae
  • Finding out if the seller is in default
  • If so finding out how long in default
  • Figure out if the seller is motivated and cooperative

If the short sale agent you are interviewing is not asking these questions then this could be the first clue this Realtor is not the right agent for the job! Once an agent has done their home work on the seller and has gone ahead with listing the home for sale, they then have to perform the function of finding the right short sale buyer. Finding the appropriate buyer in a short sale is a lot different than a standard real estate sale. You MUST have a buyer that understands the short sale process and is completely invested in the home.

What does invested mean? You want a buyer that is willing to wait the time it takes to complete a short sale and also go ahead with completing their responsibilities just like any other real estate transaction. Responsibilities include getting a home inspection done, signing a purchase and sale, and procuring financing. All of these things should be done prior to short sale approval NOT after. One of the biggest reasons short sales do not close is because of the Realtor not understanding how to properly represent a seller.

Work With An Attorney Who Closes Short Sales

Massachusetts Short Sale AttorneyThe attorney you use in your short sale can have a huge impact on whether or not you get to the closing and also get your desired terms. Just as a real estate agent should have experience in closing short sales so should the attorney if you have one. By the way in my opinion it is vital to have an attorney representing your interests in a short sale!

A real estate agent should not be practicing law which is exactly what happens when you have a Realtor who negotiates a short sale contract and approval letter. Luckily for me I have one of the best short sale attorneys in Massachusetts representing all of my clients! Here are some of the things a good Massachusetts short sale attorney will be doing to get short sale approval:

  • Understand and maintain lender guidelines
  • Secure forms for each lender and/or servicer
  • Run a title exam on the seller’s property
  • Identify any liens and/or encumbrances
  • Identify all individuals on deeds and mortgages

Complete Short Sale Package

Short Sale PackageOnce these things are done the short sale attorney will assist in sending a complete “short sale package” to the lender. The short sale package that is submitted to the lender will include the following items:

  • A short sale “hardship letter” which will explain to the lender why the seller needs to complete a short sale
  • The seller’s tax returns from the prior two years
  • The seller’s current pay stubs
  • An authorization letter from the seller stating the attorney will be communicating and receiving lender docs on their behalf
  • The listing agents contract and purchase and sale if available

The completeness of the short sale package is vital in a short sale and often times can hold things up if the lender does not have all the documentation when they ask for it. A good attorney confirm the lender has everything they need when asked for it. Often times negotiators will claim they never received documentation that was already sent. The attorney will also keep all seller financial information updated and forwarded to the lender every 30 days or as they require.

One of the biggest roles the attorney has is maintaining a constant line of communication with the lenders negotiator. When a negotiator asks for a document the attorney needs to jump on it right away.

Short Sale Negotiation

Successful Short Sale NegotiationFrom a seller’s point of view there is nothing more important than short sale debt removal. Whoever is negotiating the short sale for the seller plays the biggest role in a seller’s financial future. Again I would never recommend using a real estate agent to negotiate a short sale.  The attorney I use negotiates on my seller’s behalf and looks to get the best deal possible from the lender/investor.

For example lets assume for a moment that a seller is $75,000 short at closing. The role of the attorney would be to try to get the $75,000 short sale deficiency eliminated! Today it is a lot harder to get a short sale debt completely removed but that is the goal. In many cases the lender will not agree to a complete debt removal but will accept either a cash contribution at closing or ask the owner to sign a promissory note. In short sales the amount that a lender typically tries to collect is pennies on the dollar.

While every short sale is different, using the example above a lender could ask an owner to bring $5000 to closing and agree to waive the remaining $70,000 balance. Often times in a short sale an owner has absolutely no cash and it would be impossible for them to contribute anything at closing. In this case the lender may ask for a $15,000 note be signed at favorable terms. Again these figures are just examples but show the type of monetary contributions lenders ask for. Keep in mind lenders will check your finances and know when they can’t get blood out of a stone. One the flip side if they see you have money to contribute, the likelihood is strong they will ask for something.

Aside from the negotiation of the dollar amounts the short sale attorney should also be looking to eliminate the possibility the lender can come back after you in the future for any remaining mortgage balance. This should be completely spelled out in the short sale approval letter.

Short Sale Obstacles

Short Sale ObstaclesBefore you ever get to the negotiating table with a lender there can be obstacles that pop up along the way. One of the most common short sale problems is disputes over value with lenders. This is one of the more common issues and can easily derail the short sale if you are not familiar with how to tackle the problem.

In every short sale the lender will send out a representative who will evaluate the current market value. This is either done by an appraiser or another real estate agent. They will do an analysis of value and report their findings back to the lender. The lender unfortunately can treat this value as “gospel”.  You are at the mercy of whatever the agent or appraiser has to say as far as value goes.

Here is where the biggest problem occurs. Most of the time it is not an appraiser that will do the evaluation but a real estate agent that the lender chooses. Here is the rub. The agent who does this work for the lender generally gets paid $40-80 dollars to do hours worth or work evaluating the properties value. Can you guess what type of agent has the time or inclination to work hours and only get paid $40-80 dollars. If you guessed bottom of the barrel then you are right on the money. Sometimes the agent isn’t even from the area and knows nothing about local value and differences between neighborhoods. Pardon the French but it can be a real shit show.

When a lender is given an evaluation that does not make sense they will counter offer at some ridiculous value that makes absolutely no sense. This is where a skilled short sale agent comes in that knows how to dispute a foolish evaluation given by some nit wit who is practicing real estate part time on the side. I kid you not this happens far too often!

Picking the right short sale Realtor and attorney is a vital part of short sale success!

___________________________________________________________

About the author: The above Real Estate information on how to achieve short sale success was provided by Bill Gassett, a Nationally recognized leader in his field. Bill can be reached via email at billgassett@remaxexec.com or by phone at 508-435-5356. Bill has helped people move in and out of many Metrowest towns for the last 26+ Years.

Thinking of selling your home? I have a passion for Real Estate and love to share my marketing expertise!

I service the following towns in Metrowest MA: Ashland, Bellingham, Blackstone, Douglas, Framingham, Franklin, Grafton, Holliston, Hopkinton, Hopedale, Medway, Mendon, Milford, Millbury, Millville, Natick, Northboro, Northbridge, Shrewsbury, Southboro, Sutton, Wayland, Westboro, Whitinsville, Worcester, Upton and Uxbridge MA.

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How Google Plus Can Help The Real Estate Industry

February 18, 2013

Using Google+ As a Real Estate Agent   The following article is written by David Amerland who is one of the foremost experts on the subject of search engine optimization (SEO). David Amerland is the author of ‘The Social Media Mind’ and the best-selling ‘SEO Help’, ‘Online Marketing Help’ and ‘Brilliant SEO’. His books on [...]

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Educating A Buyer Looking To Purchase A Short Sale

February 13, 2013

Buyer’s Agent Representation For Short Sales   In every real estate transaction I am a firm believer of a buyer having representation. It makes perfect sense for a home buyer to have someone in their corner giving them guidance. Unfortunately when it comes to short sales I have found that so many buyer’s agents are [...]

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A Look Ahead to The 2013 Real Estate Market

December 15, 2012

Underwater Nation: A Look at the New Year   The following article is a guest post from Jared Diamond who writes on a multitude of personal finance and economic topics. He enjoys sharing insights with broad audiences. Jared serves in a consultancy role with a dynamic set of personal finance companies. The views expressed in [...]

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Buying A Condominium Using FHA Financing

November 2, 2012

Why Is FHA Financing So Popular?   I am excited to have Michael Dunsky from Guaranteed Rate Mortgage who will be covering some of the terrific benefits to FHA financing when you are purchasing a condominium. Michael has been one of my preferred loan officers for years and always does an exceptional job with his [...]

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Maximum Real Estate Exposure

October 19, 2012

Maximum Real Estate Exposure in Massachusetts   As a top Massachusetts Realtor, one of the things I am constantly keeping aware of is how to make sure my clients properties and my business itself are marketed to the fullest. There are so many Realtors that don’t pay any attention to SEO or Social media. Anyone [...]

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Home Warranties vs Home Insurance

October 5, 2012

Home Warranties vs Home Insurance: What you need to know.   The following article is a guest post from Kaitlin Ziessler who is a blogger for American Home Shield. Her goal is to inform readers about the differences between home warranty and insurance plans. Other topics she blogs about include appliance repair tips and home [...]

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Short Sale Negotiations|Seller Cash Contribution

January 23, 2012

Negotiation With Short Sale Lenders In working in the short sale arena for the last five plus years, I have seen lenders do just about everything when it comes to negotiating short sales with home owners. There really is no “standard” in short sales. The way one short sale file at one particular lender is [...]

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What is Real Estate Title Insurance

November 29, 2011

Real Estate Title Insurance Explained When purchasing a home one of the things that buyer’s will be asked is whether or not they want Real Estate title insurance. Often times I find that home buyer’s lament over this decision because of the expense involved. Real Estate title insurance is certainly not cheap! While title insurance [...]

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Credit Scoring Impacts Short Sale vs Foreclosure

October 11, 2011

It is probably safe to assume that most consumers like to work with folks they know can be trusted. In Real Estate, like some other businesses there are those that can always be counted on for delivering great advice and others that only care about their own pocket book. I always tell people some of [...]

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A Guide To Mortgage Equity Loan Options

September 19, 2011

When looking to take money out of an existing home or other Real Estate borrowers often have a decision to make on what is the best method to do so. There are basically three financing options that are available to home owners. These include a cash out re-finance, home equity loan or a home equity [...]

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Fixing Your Finances After Foreclosure or Short Sale

August 15, 2011

There are not many things that can negatively impact your credit score more than a foreclosure or short sale. In fact one of the more common untruths you will hear from many Realtors is that short sales don’t impact your credit scores like foreclosures do. This is absolutely WRONG! If you fail to pay your [...]

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Homeowners Insurance: Getting The Right Insurance Coverage

July 10, 2011

Homeowners insurance is not optional if you have a mortgage and is a very important decision you must make in order to protect what will most likely be one of your largest investments. To get the right amount of coverage at the most affordable rate for your home, condo or rental property, you should plan [...]

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Fixing Home Water Damage

June 4, 2011

If you have ever been in the unfortunate position of having a pipe burst in your home, a washing machine hose give way while you were gone for the weekend, or a finished basement become flooded by a 100 year storm, you know what a royal pain in the $#@ it is to clean up [...]

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8 Reasons Why You Will Not Buy My Short Sale Listing

May 5, 2011

One of the grossly misunderstood topics in Real Estate is the short sale transaction. There are a large number of Realtors who unfortunately do not possess the knowledge to properly educate their clients on what should be expected of them when trying to make a short sale purchase. The problem is further exacerbated because there [...]

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Disclosing Murder Suicide or Haunted Homes in Real Estate

April 12, 2011

While working as a Massachusetts Realtor over the last twenty five years one of the questions that always seems to come up is whether or not a Realtor is obligated to disclose a murder, suicide, haunting or other type of paranormal activity that may have occurred in a home or other Real Estate. Wikepedia defines [...]

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Buying a Home After Short Sale or Foreclosure

March 21, 2011

As a Realtor who has been heavily involved closing Massachusetts short sales over the last five years, one of the questions that I get asked quite often from home sellers is how long will it take before I will be able to buy a home again. The answer to this question does not have any [...]

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Increasing a Credit Score With Home Finance Tips

March 7, 2011

Credit scores can have a dramatic effect on a borrowers ability to get the best rates for many types of financing including a home mortgage and a car loan. If your credit score does not meet minimum standards you may not even have the ability to get a home mortgage period! There are a number [...]

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Rental Property Tax Law Changes

February 23, 2011

Here Ye Here Ye “Rental property tax law changes go into effect this year” Yes more great news for those who own Real Estate – NOT! If you are the owner of rental property there is a pretty significant tax law change going into effect for 2012. As of this year anyone who owns rental [...]

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Short Sale Realtor Mistakes

February 16, 2011

As a Realtor who has been successfully completing short sales over the last four years I get to see quite a bit of the inner workings of a short sale transaction. In many of the articles I have written about short sales, I have expounded on how important it is for a seller to have [...]

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Lenders Choosing to Foreclose Instead of Short Sale Approval

February 7, 2011

Why would a lender foreclosure instead of approving a short sale? As a Massachusetts Realtor who deals with short sale transactions on a daily basis, I have seen and learned quite a bit since I started getting involved with these types of transactions four years ago. One thing that I am extremely proud of is [...]

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Fannie Mae Mortgage Interest Rates & Costs Rising

January 30, 2011

Guest blogger Michael Dunsky from Guaranteed Rate is back again to take a look at the recent announcement by Fannie Mae that a borrowers costs and/or interest rate will be rising in the near future. Michael comes to the Massachusetts Real Estate blog on occasion because of his extensive knowledge on what is going on [...]

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Considerations For Renting or Selling a Home

January 26, 2011

Suddenly out of the blue you have found out that a new position has opened up within your company and they are asking you to relocate your family to the other side of the country. The job opportunity is too good to pass up so you decide to take the position. You realize with an [...]

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Bed Bugs in a Home Near You?

January 18, 2011

What are Bed Bugs? Lately, there have been many news reports about the growing problem with bed bugs.  As a Realtor working in the Real Estate  industry it is always important to stay up to speed with current laws and issues facing both buyers and sellers of homes and other property. Like any other known [...]

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Short Sale Low Ball Offers

January 10, 2011

There is no question that short sales are like the wild West. Almost every single sale is different. Each lender and even the investors that hold the loan may have different procedures on how they want things done. There are some folks that believe that because a home is a short sale it is an [...]

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Tax Deductions For Rental Property

December 29, 2010

Given that fact that I am a Massachusetts Realtor, I often get asked if I have any rental property. It is a pretty logical question as I work in the field and would obviously have access to the information necessary to get a pretty good deal on a rental purchase. Honestly I have never been [...]

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Short Sale Lenders Lying to Mortgage Holders

December 21, 2010

Over the last few years while working with Massachusetts sellers looking to short sale their home I have encountered on a couple occasions folks that were deliberately lied to and told that a short sale was not possible. Fortunately these particular home sellers were savvy enough to realize their short sale lender was lying to [...]

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203K Rehabilitation Loan

December 13, 2010

Guest blogger Michael Dunsky from Guaranteed Rate Mortgage is back to take to help review a popular mortgage program known as the 203k rehabilitation loan. The landscape of the housing market all over the country has changed drastically over the last few years. Foreclosures and short sales have become the norm not the exception. Many [...]

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Removing Radon From Well Water

December 7, 2010

Massachusetts Radon removal from wells One of the roles of any good buyer agent when selling a home to a buyer client in Massachusetts is to educate them on the home buying process including the “contingencies” that they should have in their Real Estate contract. The contingencies in a Massachusetts Real Estate contract usually consist [...]

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Short Sale Lawsuits Will Realtors Be Next?

November 29, 2010

Avoiding short sale lawsuits There is no question that in this economic down turn we have experienced over the last five years or so that short sales and foreclosures have become part of our everyday Real Estate landscape. Every week there are countless new short sale listings that hit the market in Massachusetts. In many [...]

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Tax Breaks on Home Improvements

November 17, 2010

There is no question that there are far less people today that have the kind of equity in their home that they did five to ten years ago. In most areas across the country Real Estate values have dropped by a substantial margin decreasing the amount of folks who have capital gains concerns. One of [...]

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Home Affordable Foreclosure Alternatives (HAFA)

November 5, 2010

What is a HAFA Short Sale? Over the last four years or so I have been helping numerous sellers successfully complete a short sale in and around the Metrowest Massachusetts area. Short sales are not for the timid at heart and require quite a bit of knowledge of proper procedures in order to get to [...]

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Appealing a Massachusetts Property Tax Bill

November 2, 2010

Taxes on homes or other property in Massachusetts are typically based on two pieces of information including the towns property tax rate and the assessed value. Obviously the tax rate is set in stone and is not something that is going to be changed once it is put in place for that particular fiscal year. [...]

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Great Reasons to Refinance a Mortgage

October 26, 2010

Reducing your interest rate When interest rates are at record lows it creates an environment that is ripe for refinancing a home mortgage. There is no question that a mortgage on a home is usually one of the largest financial obligations that you will have in your life. It stands to reason that if you [...]

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Solving Basement Water Problems

October 20, 2010

Working as a Massachusetts Realtor for almost twenty five years, I can say without question that one of the greatest fears of any home owner is having a water problem in their basement! When buying a home, the uneasiness of having a water issue will be magnified ten fold if the intention of the owner [...]

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Home Energy Saving Tips For The Winter Months

October 12, 2010

It is no secret that energy prices have been a big part of every Massachusetts home owners budget for the last few years. As we head towards Winter there are some fairly easy and inexpensive things you can do to save additional money and conserve energy. Some are fairly obvious and easy. Easy energy saving [...]

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Stopping a Foreclosure Via a Short Sale

October 7, 2010

Avoiding a Massachusetts Foreclosure Foreclosure is something that most people want to avoid at all costs. Nobody sets out to own a home and then see it taken back by the lender. Across the country this has become a common theme as ten’s of thousands of people are losing their homes due to an economy [...]

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How to Interview a Realtor With Great Questions

September 30, 2010

Realtor interview Questions Carefully interviewing a Realtor should be one of the most important things any home seller does when considering selling their home yet many do not. Having been in this business for almost twenty seven years I have found this to be pretty fascinating. There are lots of folks that will make contact [...]

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Hail Damage to Roofs|Insurance Claims From Hail

September 21, 2010

Massachusetts Hail Damaged Roofs If you live in the Metrowest area of Massachusetts there is the strong possibility that the roof on your home may have been damaged by the hail storm that took place in May of 2009. You may be thinking to yourself that you remember the hail storm but looked up at [...]

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Selling a Home in a Buyer’s Market

September 16, 2010

Selling a Massachusetts home in a buyer’s market The title of the article really should read buying and selling a home simultaneously in a buyer’s market. In my daily life as a Massachusetts Realtor I come across lots of folks who do not sell their home even though they want to. The thought process is [...]

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Rhino Shield An Exterior Painting Alternative

September 8, 2010

Rhino Shield is something you may be reading about more and more in the near future. It is just starting to become popular as an alternative to painting a home. If you live in Massachusetts or any of the other the New England states you already know that our varied seasons can do a number [...]

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Realtors Should Not Let Short Sale Investors Negotiate With Lenders

September 1, 2010

The reason why Realtors handling short sales should not let a short sale investor take over negotiations with a lender may not be fairly obvious. If you are a Realtor who works  short sales or are thinking about doing them here is where you really need to pay attention. Without a doubt we live in [...]

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Massachusetts Title 5 Bedroom Count Deed Restriction

August 24, 2010

In Massachusetts the law governing septic system installation and maintenance is known as Title V. Whenever a home owner is going to be selling their home they will need to get what is called a Title V inspection done. In order to close on a property in Massachusetts you will need to have a passing [...]

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Beware of The Short Sale Investor|Short Sale Fraud

August 17, 2010

Any Realtor that regularly works with short sales is bound to come across a proposition from a potential buyer who happens to be a short sale investor. As a home owner you may have also at one time or another noticed some signs around town that say  something like “we buy houses” or “stop foreclosure” [...]

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Divorce and Selling a Home

August 9, 2010

Divorce and selling a home they say are on the list of most stressful events a person can go through in their lives. One of the realities of being a Massachusetts Realtor is that I often encounter folks that are going to need to sell their home due to a divorce. Divorce and selling a [...]

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Moving From a Home During a Short Sale

August 3, 2010

One of the questions I am often asked when consulting a Massachusetts home owner about short sales is whether or not it is alright if they move out of the home. Sometimes  life circumstances dictate that it would be more convenient to live somewhere else. The answer to this questions is an easy one. Leaving [...]

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Massachusetts Moving and Storage With PODS

July 27, 2010

If you are pretty observant like I am you may have  noticed a white container in a local yard that had in big bold lettering the word PODS and wondered what it was. PODS is short for portable on demand storage. More than likely a home owner who has one of these units is either [...]

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Buying a Massachusetts Foreclosure Property

July 20, 2010

Are you considering buying a Massachusetts foreclosure property?   Investors that have a long term perspective of the Real Estate market understand that purchasing a bank foreclosure can be an excellent financial proposition. In the Metrowest Massachusetts area there are plenty of them around and they can typically be bought at a discount to the present [...]

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When To Do a Short Sale Home Inspection

July 13, 2010

In most Real Estate transactions there is a buyers agent representing a buyer and a sellers agent representing the seller. In a traditional purchase, the home inspection is generally done within the 1st week or two after a contract has been executed by both the buyer and seller. This is know as a “home inspection [...]

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USDA Loans For No Down Payment Financing

July 7, 2010

A USDA guaranteed loan is a government insured 100% purchase loan. This type of loan is only offered in what is considered a rural area. They are serviced by direct lenders that meet Federal guidelines. USDA loans (US Department of Agriculture) aka Section 502 loans are an excellent mortgage vehicle for those home buyers who [...]

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Realtors Should Be Attending Home Inspections With Their Clients

June 30, 2010

In the Real Estate industry it is usually pretty easy to spot a truly dedicated Realtor who has a passion for their business. It is also just as easy to spot a pretender that does as little as they can get away with. Unfortunately, there are very low barriers to becoming a Realtor. Take a [...]

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Fannie Mae Strikes Against Strategic Defaults

June 25, 2010

You may have heard or read recently about strategic defaults as this topic is all over the news. A strategic default is when a home owner walks away from their mortgage when they are still able to make the payments. The reason why a home owner would consider a strategic default and just walk away [...]

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Home Warranty Benefits For Massachusetts Homes

June 22, 2010

Home warranties are something you see every now and then being offered by a Massachusetts home seller who is looking to provide a perk and piece of mind to a prospective home buyer. The seller pays for the warranty upfront and the Realtor advertises that the property comes with a home warranty. A home warranty [...]

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Picking The Wrong Massachusetts Realtor Can Get Ugly!

June 18, 2010

As a Realtor, knowing how to market your services as well as a clients property online can be very powerful. In the Real Estate field it can certainly be the difference maker in whether or not a client chooses to hire you or NOT! It is not that hard to figure out that Realtors are [...]

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Home Improvements With The Worst Return On Investment

June 14, 2010

One thing I have learned over the years while working as a Massachusetts Realtor is that many folks do not realize the correlation between making improvements to their home and what the corresponding return on investment will end up being. So many people blindly assume that every improvement they make to their home will bring [...]

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Massachusetts Home Buyer Turn Offs

June 10, 2010

Getting a Massachusetts home sold today is a lot more difficult than it used to be. The fact of the matter is that there are far fewer buyers that can qualify to buy a home today.  We all know that lending practices have tightened and rightfully so. There are also millions of people that have [...]

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Fixing Credit Report Errors

June 7, 2010

If you are buying a home one of the things you will absolutely want to do beforehand is to fix any credit report errors! There is nothing that can put a damper on purchasing a home than finding out you need to fix a credit report error so that you will be able to get [...]

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Should I Move or Improve My Massachusetts Home?

June 2, 2010

As a Massachusetts Realtor getting asked the question should I move to another home or improve on my existing home is something I hear fairly often. The answer to this question often depends on each individual home owners circumstances. Massachusetts home improvements are cheaper There is no question that now is a great time to [...]

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Massachusetts Home Owners Insurance Savings Tips

June 1, 2010

One of the things that every Massachusetts home owner is required to have when procuring a loan for a property is to have home owners insurance. Most banks and mortgage companies will not give someone a loan unless their home is insured. Most loan documents will also give the bank the option of taking legal [...]

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Breaking a Massachusetts Real Estate Contract

May 27, 2010

When a Real Estate client expresses a desire to break a Real Estate contract you know the next few days of your life are probably not going to be too pleasant. When people are looking to break a contract it is usually a highly charged emotional event! In Massachusetts we are a two contract state. [...]

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Getting The Best Mortgage Home Loan

May 21, 2010

Getting the best mortgage home loan for your particular needs is all about doing the proper research so you can hand pick the program that works for your situation in life. There are numerous loan programs available to savvy home buyers. The most common loan programs are the conventional fixed rate mortgage and the adjustable [...]

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Acceptable Hardships For Massachusetts Short Sales

May 20, 2010

I have encountered quite a few people in my Real Estate travels that incorrectly assume that anyone who owes more money than their home is worth and wishes to short sell their Massachusetts home can do so with no problem. Sorry folks but it does not always work that way. In some respects it actually [...]

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Painting a Massachusetts Home with Duration Paint by Sherwin Williams

May 17, 2010

If you live anywhere in the New England region you know that are weather can go from being beautiful to down right nasty in the blink of an eye. Where I live in Massachusetts a homes exterior can take a terrible beating due to the elements. If your Massachusetts home has clapboard or wood siding [...]

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Marking a Property Under Agreement or Accepting Back Up Offers in Real Estate?

May 13, 2010

In Massachusetts when you are marketing a seller’s home and you procure a ready willing and able buyer to purchase a property you have hopefully started your journey to a successful closing. One of the things that Realtors are required to do is change the status of the property when we have a signed contract [...]

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Short Sale Tax Consequences

May 10, 2010

As a Massachusetts Realtor that has been doing quite a few successful short sales, one of the things I like to make sure of when I meet a potential client that is looking to do a short sale is to give them a complete understanding of how they work. Short sales can be complicated transactions. [...]

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Staging and Preparing a Massachusetts Home For Sale

May 6, 2010

Back in the boom times of the Real Estate market from the mid 1990′s until the mid 2000′s getting a Massachusetts home truly ready for the market was far less important than it is today. Every home seller today is in stiff competition with the next guy down the street with far less buyers in [...]

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Why Most Real Estate For Sale By Owners (FSBO) Fail

May 3, 2010

One thing that makes the world go around is the desire to save money. Everyone likes to save a few bucks. In Real Estate saving a commission translates into big dollars. It is hard to blame anyone for wanting to save the type of money that is made when a Realtor sells a home or [...]

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Picking a Dominant Online Metrowest MA Realtor

May 2, 2010

It is a fact that 90% of all home buyers start their search for a home online. The days of buyers using newspapers and magazines as a viable means to find a home are over! Keeping this in mind, the goal of any Realtor that is worth their commission is to make darn sure the [...]

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Massachusetts Bedroom Misrepresentation With Septic Systems

April 30, 2010

One of the things that Massachusetts home owners who are serviced by a private septic system need to be keenly aware of when selling their home is to make sure they do not misrepresent the bedroom count. When a home is serviced by a septic system in Massachusetts the advertised bedroom count must meet the [...]

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Realtor Communication Skills The Number One Complaint!

April 28, 2010

If you look at any of the National Real Estate surveys the number one complaint from consumers against Realtors who are representing home sellers is the lack of communication skills. There are countless stories of sellers signing a listing contract and then never hearing from their Realtor again unless they initiate the contact. Obviously if [...]

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How Not to Sell a Massachusetts Home

April 26, 2010

Every week on the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) you see countless homes that come up “expired”. For those that are not familiar with the term, an expired listing is a home that did not sell. When looking over the possible common denominators of why some homes do not sell the reason is usually pretty easy [...]

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FHA Loans V.S a Conventional Loan

April 22, 2010

I am excited to announce guest blogger Michael Dunsky from Guaranteed Rate Mortgages who will be covering some of the great benefits to FHA financing. Michael has been one of my preferred loan officers for years and always does an outstanding job with his clients. Check out Mike’s terrific article on FHA Loans v.s conventional [...]

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Why Accompanied Showings in Real Estate are a Big Mistake

April 21, 2010

In the Metrowest Massachusetts area where I am located it is pretty rare to see an accompanied showing. In towards Boston it becomes much more common place. Some areas around the country have them and others don’t. Why? Who knows but more than likely it has to do with tradition. I am glad the policy [...]

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Real Estate Pricing Ending in 900 May or May Not Be a Good Idea

April 19, 2010

When I 1st got into the Real Estate business twenty four years ago we used to carry around the big bulky MLS books. Back in those days this was how we knew what properties were on the market in Massachusetts. The internet was in it’s infancy and jumping online to look at properties was not [...]

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Make Sure You Get Your Massachusetts Short Sale Debt Released!

April 16, 2010

If you are an avid reader of my Massachusetts Real Estate blog you probably have guessed that one of my passions is to help out those that are in need of completing a short sale. Massachusetts home owners struggling to make mortgage payments are often turning to doing a short sale as a means of [...]

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Massachusetts Flooding and The Potential Pollution of Local Water Supplies

April 14, 2010

I am pleased to introduce guest blogger Ashley Connolley from Northeast Water Wells who is here to discuss some of the potential issues a home owner can face from the recent record breaking storms and flooding in the Metrowest Massachusetts area. Ashley was kind enough to drop by and give some things to consider regarding [...]

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Real Estate Commissions Agent Bonus and Unethical Realtors

April 12, 2010

Many many years ago when I got into the Real Estate business every Realtor represented the seller. Consumers did not have the luxury of having a Real Estate agent in their corner to represent their best interests. Consumer law in Massachusetts however, changed in the 1990′s. Buyers are now afforded the opportunity to have a [...]

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Massachusetts Home Sale Contingencies and Right of 1st Refusal

April 9, 2010

If you are selling your home in Massachusetts it is possible you may see a buyer try to purchase your home with a home sale contingency. In other words they write into the Real Estate contract that they will not have to proceed with buying your home unless they successfully close on the property that [...]

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Questions to Ask a Short Sale Listing Agent as a Buyer or Buyers Agent

April 7, 2010

There is no doubt that a short sale is not your run of the mill Real Estate transaction. Anyone who has ever been involved with one as a listing agent knows there are a lot of hoops to jump through! On a national level there is a very high percentage of short sales that never [...]

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Handling Offers When Selling a Massachusetts Home

April 5, 2010

One of my favorite things when selling a Massachusetts home is to receive multiple offers. I know there are a lot of Real Estate agents that hate this situation because on many occasions it can become contentious. When there are multiple offers on a home from a couple of different parties there is only one [...]

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Massachusetts Tax Stamps and Other Costs to Sell a Home

April 2, 2010

One of the things that I have realized over the years while representing Massachusetts home sellers is the fact that many are completely unaware that there is a tax to sell your home! While it is true that if you live in Massachusetts you come to grips quickly that just about everything gets taxed, sometimes [...]

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Massachusetts Assessed Home Values Are Not The Same As Fair Market Value

March 31, 2010

As a Massachusetts Realtor who has been around the block a few times, I often come across things that are written and said by other Realtors that just want to make me scratch my head in disbelief. All this head scratching could partially explain why I started to lose my hair at such an early [...]

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FICO Credit Scores and Increasing Your Creditworthiness

March 29, 2010

How to Increase a Credit Score   Credit scores are one of the largest factors that lenders use in evaluating whether or not to lend money to a borrower. Credit scores are designed to measure the risk of someone defaulting by taking into account various factors in a person’s financial history. If you are considering [...]

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Massachusetts Homestead Protection Act

March 26, 2010

The Massachusetts Homestead Protection Act is one of the biggest no- brainers for any homeowner in Massachusetts to take advantage off. Quite simply, an estate of homestead is protection for a persons residence from most creditors. The declaration of homestead protects the equity in your home for up to $500,000 in the event you are sued. [...]

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Need a Massachusetts Short Sale Realtor? Don’t Pick a Short Sale Buffoon!

March 24, 2010

One of the biggest mistakes I see being made over and over again by those that need to short sell their Massachusetts home is picking the wrong Real Estate agent to work with. Don’t make this mistake and turn into Realtor road kill! The are an abundance of Realtors that are listing short sales and [...]

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Testing a Massachusetts Well When Buying a Home

March 20, 2010

As a home seller or buyer in Massachusetts there are always questions that come up regarding testing the water when a home is serviced by a private well. If you happen to be buying a Massachusetts home that is serviced by a well and not by public water you better make darn sure that you [...]

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Buying a Massachusetts Bank Owned Home

March 18, 2010

There are a few different ways in which a buyer of Real Estate could obtain ownership of a foreclosure. Here is a quick summary of the three possible scenarios: A pre-foreclosure where you are able to buy directly from the home owner before the bank takes over. This is commonly referred to as a short [...]

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Real Estate Value Range Pricing is Nothing But Deception

March 17, 2010

Real Estate value range pricing is not that common in Massachusetts thankfully! The term value range pricing can also be known as “variable pricing”, “value range marketing” and “range pricing”. So what is Real Estate value range pricing exactly? It is when you list a home for sale and rather than going out on the [...]

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Massachusetts Seller’s Statement of Property Condition

March 15, 2010

The Massachusetts sellers statement of property condition is a form that many Massachusetts Real Estate companies require their agents to have the seller sign. Massachusetts however, does not require these forms to be filled out as part of a Real Estate transaction so it is up to the individual company to decide if they are [...]

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Price Per Square Foot is Misleading for Real Estate Values

March 10, 2010

Over the years working as a Realtor I have seen numerous home buyers as well as other Realtors try to use dollars per square foot as a good measuring stick for market values. Sorry folks but that is a very poor way to analyze value. There are a number of reasons why this is the [...]

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Tax Deductions to Remember When Buying a Home

March 8, 2010

When you are getting a mortgage to purchase a home, there are certain deductions that the IRS allows that are well worth remembering come tax time in April. The following is a list of  some of the deductions that many people forget about when buying a home: POINTS Points on a home loan are tax [...]

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Massachusetts Property Tax Relief for Seniors

March 5, 2010

One of the things that Massachusetts seniors face in many of the destination towns where schools are top notch is the growing burden of higher taxes. There is almost always a correlation between a towns popularity and the market value of the homes. When you look at why property values are higher in one town [...]

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What Kind of Massachusetts Realtor Do You Want?

March 4, 2010

There is a lot of talk in Real Estate circles about how Realtors should run their business in regards to returning either another agents or clients phone call. There are of course some pretty differing opinions amongst Real Estate agents themselves on what they should be held accountable to. There are quite a few including [...]

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Massachusetts Public Open Houses Are a Waste of Time For Home Sellers

February 28, 2010

Yes… I am talking about the waste of time that thousands of Realtors continue to participate in week after week on Sundays in Massachusetts….THE PUBLIC OPEN HOUSE. Let me rephrase that…A waste of time for the seller of the home. This will probably come as a surprise to you but Nationally less than 1% of [...]

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Stop Making Mortgage Payments During a Short Sale?

February 18, 2010

The question of whether a home owner should stop making mortgage payments during a short sale is a popular topic for sure! There are a lot of myths floating around when it comes to successfully doing a Real Estate short sale. One of the more prominent untruths is the fact that you need to be [...]

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Selling a Massachusetts Home and Picking a Realtor

November 25, 2012

Selling a Massachusetts home today is not like it used to be back in the middle of this decade. Quite honestly when you needed to sell a home back then it was as easy as convincing a dog that table scraps taste better than what’s in his bowl. Boy has the Real Estate landscape changed! [...]

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