January has brought us some great real estate articles, providing excellent advice for home buyers and sellers, along with some great mortgage info.

If you are thinking of buying or selling a home this year, it’s time to curl up in front of the fireplace on a wintery day and get some great real estate tips and advice.

Tips to Sell Your Home In The Winter

Traditionally, spring was the selling season many home sellers waited for to list their homes. But that is shifting as almost 100% of the buyers start their research online. They can now sit back in the comfort of their own home and only come out from behind the computer when they find just the right home.

And buyers need to buy for various reasons, and those forces don’t just pop up in the spring. You will find if buyers are out in the dead of winter are out to buy. The tire kickers and the dreamers sit at home and wait for the spring market while the serious buyers are out during any season.

Winter certainly offers some significant advantages to selling your home. A cold, stormy day, certainly can show off your home as being a cozy way to weather any storm.

Kevin Vitali provides some great tips to sell your home during the winter. Don’t forget to light it up and clear the walks and driveway.

How to Find Open Houses Near You

Open houses are a staple of the real estate industry. They allow everyone from serious buyers, casual lookers, and buyers starting their home search to preview a house without scheduling an appointment.

Many buyers will look online by searching for open houses nearby their location.

Any given Saturday and Sunday, you can find open houses in the communities you are interested in.

In the past couple of years, open houses can go past Saturday and Sunday, and many agents offer commuter open houses for you to stop by on your way home from work.

Open houses are a perfect avenue for buyers just hitting the market and trying to get a sense of the market.

If your visits are carefully planned, you can hit several houses for sale in one afternoon through open houses. A good 4 or 5 houses in the price range you can afford in a desired community will help you set a realistic expectation of what your budget will get you.

Working With A Mortgage Broker

Over half of the mortgages in the US are closed by mortgage brokers or lenders. Is a mortgage broker the same as a bank?

A Mortgage lender is different than a bank. A bank offers a variety of financial services, including checking and savings accounts, as well as mortgage products. Typically, a bank offers its mortgage products only and has limited access to various home loan programs.

A mortgage broker or lender offers mortgage products only. They have wholesale accounts with a variety of lenders. The benefit is they can offer many mortgage programs from various financial institutions to fit your specific needs.

Eric Jeannette provides some information to understand what a mortgage broker does. You will have a much better understanding of how brokers differ from going to a single lender.

For borrowers with low money down, less than stellar credit, or unusual circumstances, a mortgage broker is a better choice than a bank.

Appraisal Gap Coverage

The real estate market is changing across the country. Some regions feel the mortgage rate hike pinch along with a rapid appreciation of homes, creating a softening market.

Other regions still hold firm with extremely low inventory levels and multiple offers over asking.

Paul Sian explains the appraisal gap clause in a real estate contract. When multiple offers are going over asking, the home may not appraise for what a buyer has offered to pay. This can be a problem when getting a loan. The banks will only lend at the appraised price.

Many buyers opt to provide an appraisal gap clause in their contracts. The clause states that the buyer is willing to pay X amount over the appraised value if the appraisal comes up short.

Because you can’t finance the gap between the appraised price and the agreed sale price, you, the buyer, agree to make up the difference in cash.

This clause was very popular for many winning bidders in 2021 and 2022 and, in many regions, can help tip the scales in their favor. It will continue to be popular in hot markets as we head into 2023

How To Make An Offer On An Overpriced Home

That overpriced home could be your dream home. But either your opinion is it is overpriced, or it is genuinely overpriced.

For many homebuyers, getting involved in negotiations on a home is emotional. They want to go into it knowing there will be a positive outcome. Some buyers don’t engage if they can’t close a significant gap on an overpriced home.

But as the market starts to change and inventory still being limited in many areas, it’s hard to pass up a great home that may be overpriced. You don’t know when another home you love will pop up again.

Luke Skar provides some great advice on making an offer on an overpriced home.

The first step is to work with an experienced buyer’s agent. Determine if a home is genuinely overpriced. Often buyers will miss opportunities because they feel a home might be overpriced, yet the house sells for $40k over asking. That is not an overpriced home.

A buyer’s agent can help you ascertain the fair market value of a home. Maybe there are factors about the home that push it to the high side of fair market value.

Beyond determining fair market value, Luke provides other advice on structuring an offer that might get an unrelenting seller to budge off their unrealistic price.

Cleaning Your Home Before Listing

Preparing and staging your home can be a vital step in getting the most money for your home. Getting your home ready for sale should always start with a deep cleaning and decluttering.

Decluttering is one of the best methods to start getting your home ready to sell.

The significant part about making your home sparkle for showings is that it doesn’t cost much money except for supplies. Whether doing your deep clean yourself or hiring someone, there will be a huge payoff.

Even if you don’t have room in your budget for small repairs or minor renovations, deep cleaning will go a long way in presenting your home in a positive light.

Michelle Gibson provides a cleaning checklist for making your home shine in the eye of your homebuyers.

New Year, New You, and a New House!!

For many, the New Year means making changes in your life. And your goal for this year might be to buy your first house. 2021 and 2022 were a rollercoaster ride for real estate. It’s time to stop sitting on the sidelines and let the market pass you by.

As Vicki Moore points out, you can be doing certain things right now to put you in the position to buy your first home. Whether you buy 3 months, 6 months, or 9 months from now, today is the day to get started. The more prepared you are, the better your success.

From the day you think about buying a house, working on your finances is an excellent place to start. Think about what you can do to improve your credit score, pay down some debt and save more for a down payment and closing costs. Now is the time to improve your home-buying position.

Selling Your Home Before Two Years of Ownership

Owning your own home to live in provides homeowners with many benefits. One is the sense of freedom to do with it what you want.

But did you know that you may be subject to capital gains if you sell an owner-occupied property before you hit the two-year mark? Every homeowner should be aware of the many subtleties of capital gains.

Did you know that after two years or if you have lived in your home for 2 out of the last 5 years, there is a capital gains exemption, where no taxes are due? Or, that capital gains of a sale during the first year of ownership can be much higher than the second year of ownership?

Andy Kolodgie discusses everything your need to know in his comprehensive resource.

Kitchen Design Trends for 2023

Have you ever heard the adage; kitchens sell homes. Well, nothing can be more accurate than this statement.

Kitchens are often home-central for many homes. It is where everyone gathers and often the first stop when coming through the door. They are also the most expensive area of your home to remodel or refinish.

Karen Highland provides a great article on design trends for the 2023 kitchen. With social distancing and more people staying at home, the kitchen is more important than ever. Make design choices that buyers want today but will also be timeless for future resale.


Look at some of the excellent advice from previous real estate roundups.

Kevin Vitali


About the author: The above resource on the best articles for January 2023 was written by Kevin Vitali. Kevin is a Massachusetts Realtor based out of Haverhill, Massachusetts. Kevin brings 21+ years of experience to home buyers and sellers in Essex and northern Middlesex Counties in Massachusetts.