Five College REALTORS ®



Posted by Five College REALTORS ® on 2/17/2019

In a high competition market, you may be tempted to do whatever you can to entice the seller to accept your offer. Buyers write offer letters, provide large down payments, or waive the inspection. Sometimes, this strategy includes removing contingencies from your contract. 


Beware. Removing contingencies can easily become a nightmare for you as a buyer. Certain contingencies should be kept no matter how much you think you should waive them for enticement. 


The Home Inspection Contingency


This contingency is basically universally recommended by realtors everywhere. This contingency allows you to get a licensed home inspector who will check the property. The inspection typically should be done about 7 days from the time you sign the purchase agreement for the home. 


Following the inspection, you as the buyer can request that the seller make certain repairs. The seller can either make the repairs or provide a counter offer. If you’re not satisfied or cannot reach an agreement, you can back out of the deal and still get your money back. 


Without this contingency, you’ll never know what’s wrong with the home until you move in it. It’s a huge risk to take to move into a home without understanding all of its moving parts. Is the roof stable? Has the basement flooded? Will the appliances last? There are plenty of questions that you might have about a home that can be answered simply through an inspection. 


Financing Contingency


This is an important contingency. Your offer on the property will depend on being able to get the financing you need to purchase the home. With this protection in place, in the event that you can’t get a loan, you’ll get your deposit on the home back. Be sure that the clause specifies the number of days that would be recommended by your lender to have the mortgage approved.   


Appraisal Contingency


This could be the most important contingency of all. This protection could possibly save you thousands of dollars of a headache. Once an offer is accepted on a home, you’re far from done. The lender will typically order an appraisal. If the appraisal comes in lower than the offer you made on the home and agreed to pay, you may have some problems. 


The lender will only lend you what the house is worth. If the appraisal comes in lower, you’ll need to make up for tens of thousands of dollars out of pocket. Make sure you have an appraisal contingency included in your contracts!  


As you buy a home, remember how important contingencies can be in the process.            




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Posted by Five College REALTORS ® on 2/10/2019

If you plan to sell your house and need to declutter quickly, hosting a yard sale may prove to be ideal.

Ultimately, a yard sale enables you to get rid of excess items and earn extra cash at the same time. It also may help you connect with neighbors and lay the groundwork for long-lasting friendships.

When it comes to hosting a yard sale, it is important to sell the right items to the right buyers. By doing so, you can increase your chances of transforming an ordinary yard sale into a successful one.

Now, let's take a look at three items to sell during your yard sale:

1. Clothing

If you're moving from a warm-weather climate to a cold region – or vice-versa – you should sell clothing that you no longer need.

Wash any clothes that you plan to sell as part of your yard sale. This will ensure all clothes are stain-free.

Furthermore, consider the buyer's perspective as you determine which clothing to sell. And if you find that some of your t-shirts, turtlenecks and other clothes are faded or ripped, you may want to dispose of these items altogether.

2. Electronics

TVs, video game consoles and other electronics often prove to be popular yard sale purchases. As such, if you have excess electronics, you should sell these items at your yard sale.

If you plan to sell an old desktop or laptop computer, make sure to clear the hard drive. This helps eliminate potential cybersecurity headaches down the line.

Also, test any electronics to ensure they work properly. If electronics are battery-operated, install batteries to make it easy for yard sale shoppers to test these items. Or, if electronics require an electrical outlet, set up a power source that allows potential buyers to try these electronics.

3. Appliances

If you are moving to a new house that already has a refrigerator, washer, dryer and other appliances, a yard sale provides an excellent opportunity to sell your current appliances.

Be realistic when you set prices for your home appliances. Check out the prices of brand-new and used appliances, and you can establish a price range for your appliances based on their age and condition.

In addition, don't hesitate to negotiate with buyers on appliance prices. Because if you fail to sell your appliances at your yard sale, you may be forced to move these big, heavy items on your own.

Those who understand which items to sell at a yard sale should have no trouble stirring up plenty of interest in any yard sale, at any time.

Lastly, if you want extra help as you plan for a yard sale, a real estate agent can offer expert assistance. This housing market professional can provide home decluttering tips to ensure you can sell the right items during your yard sale.

Start planning for a yard sale today, and you can move one step closer to decluttering and selling your house.




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Posted by Five College REALTORS ® on 2/3/2019

Does your bathroom feel old and kind of grungy, but you don't have the time or the money to have someone do a remodel? There are simple things that you can do to make it feel like a renovation. The assumption is that you are into doing a little "DIY" and that you have a little bit of skill to do that. 

The first thing to consider is painting. 

Lots of bathrooms have the original paint put in by the contractor. You might even have one that has the ceiling and the walls the same color. Choosing colors is probably going to take you the longest, so consider looking at magazines or model homes or even some of the sample books at your local hardware store for pleasing color combinations. If the ceiling is not white—or maybe it is but looks dull—give it a fresh coat of semi-gloss white paint. Remove the AC vents and fan vents and ceiling lights before you paint. 

Most people just put those back up as they did not realize that you can replace them for a little more money, or you can buy a couple of cans of white gloss spray paint and paint them. Even if they are plastic, there is spray paint designed for plastic that works great. If you do not refurbish them, they are going to look ugly next to the new paint. Remove all of the plug covers and tape over the plugs with painter’s tape before you paint the walls. Now if you are ambitious, you can paint the cabinets. This takes a little more time because you are probably going to need to sand them before you paint them. A lovely satin finish gives cabinets a modern glow. 

Change switch plates and outlet covers.

In a bathroom, most electrical covers need replacing before you put them back up. There are a host of different cover plate styles available depending on your budget but just replacing the standard style with new white ones (least expensive) gives a great fresh look. Now if you are handy with electrical work or have a friend that is, you could replace the actual plugs from round to the square, completely updating the look. If you hire an electrician to change out your plugs, now is an excellent time to put in a GFI (ground fault interrupter plug) for safety. 

Faucets and light figures.

The most dramatic features that you can quickly change in a bathroom are faucets and lighting fixtures. Changing these for something new and bright makes it feel like an entirely new place. Faucets are easily replaced and come in a wide range of styles and prices. A new spigot, even atop the same sink and counter-top, feels like it is all new. 

Lighting changes the entire room. If you can find a light fixture that fits your style, it is usually a simple change. But please remember to turn off the electrical breaker switch for the bathroom before you remove the old light. It would be wise to remove your existing light fixtures before you paint because the new light fixture might not cover the same place. Also, consider putting LED bulbs in the new light fixtures. Depending on the “color” you choose (daylight, bright white, etc.) the feel can be much different from traditional bulbs. 

One final suggestion for your lighting: You can replace the light switch with a dimmer switch. Dimmers make a significant change to the bathroom. Now you can set mood lighting—think spa level or movie star dressing room—that once again makes it feels like a different space. Remember, if you choose to install the dimmer switch, you must make sure you use the LED bulbs rated as dimmer bulbs. There are two kinds of LEDs, some that are dimmable and some that cannot. Look for markings on dimmable bulb packages.

Check with your personal real estate agent to see if certain color combinations or fixture metals are trending in your area. Now you have a new looking bathroom, without major reconstruction and all of the mess. Enjoy!





Posted by Five College REALTORS ® on 1/27/2019

If you find lots of great homes are available and cannot decide which residence to buy, there is no need to stress. Rather than submit multiple offers to purchase various houses, you should hone your home search. By doing so, you can discover the right residence, at the right price.

Now, let's take a look at three tips to help you narrow your home search.

1. Define Your Dream Home

Think about the features you want in your dream home. Then, you can make a list of "must-have" home features and search for residences that offer these features.

Furthermore, consider where you want to reside. If you prefer big city living, for example, you may want to focus exclusively on city houses. On the other hand, if you want to reside in a small town, you can search for residences in myriad small towns.

2. Conduct a Preliminary Housing Market Review

Let's face it – searching for a home can be overwhelming, regardless of whether you are a first-time or experienced homebuyer. But if you perform a preliminary housing market review, you can get a good idea about the volume and quality of available residences. Next, you can use this real estate market information to map out your homebuying journey.

Of course, it may be beneficial to attend open house events as well. These events enable you to get an up-close look at assorted residences. They also can help you understand the features you want in your dream house so you can further refine your home search.

3. Consult with a Real Estate Agent

When it comes to navigating the housing market, it helps to have a real estate expert at your side. Thankfully, real estate agents are available in cities and towns nationwide, and these housing market experts are happy to help you acquire a superb residence at an affordable price.

A real estate agent understands what it takes to help you find a quality home that won't force you to break your budget. First, he or she will learn about your homebuying goals and teach you about the real estate market. A real estate agent next will help you analyze the real estate market and explore a broad range of houses. And once you find a house you want to buy, a real estate agent will help you craft a competitive offer to purchase this residence.

Let's not forget about the guidance a real estate agent provides throughout the homebuying journey, either. Purchasing a house is no small feat, and a real estate agent will take the guesswork out of the homebuying cycle. Best of all, a real estate agent can respond to your homebuying concerns and questions at any time.

If you want to discover a home that matches your expectations, it helps to plan ahead for the property buying journey. By taking advantage of the aforementioned tips, you can streamline your house search and find your ideal home faster than ever before.





Posted by Five College REALTORS ® on 1/20/2019

Paying off a mortgage early is a dream of many homeowners. By making larger payments on your home loan, you can cut years off of your loan term and save thousands of dollars in interest payments that you can use toward savings or investments. But in an economy that has seen decades of wage stagnation and increasing costs of living, it can often seem like an unattainable goal.

With some planning and initiative, however, there are ways to pay off your home loan before your term limit.

In today’s post, we’re going to talk about three of the ways you can start paying off your mortgage early to avoid high interest payments and save yourself money along the way.

1. Refinance your mortgage


If you’re considering making larger payments on your mortgage, it might make sense to look at refinancing options. Most Americans take out 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages.

If you can afford to significantly increase your mortgage payments each month, you could refinance to a 15-year mortgage. This will save you on the number of interest payments you’ll have to make over the years. But, it will also help you secure a lower interest rate since shorter term mortgages typically come with lower interest rates.

This option isn’t for everyone. First, refinancing comes with fees you’ll have to pay for upfront. You’ll have to apply for refinancing, get an appraisal of your home, and wait for the decision to be made.

But, you’ll also have to ensure that you can keep up with your higher monthly payments. If your income is variable or undependable, it might not be the safest option to refinance to a shorter term mortgage.

2. Make extra payments

An option that entails less risk than refinancing is to simply increase your monthly payments. If you recently got a raise or are just reallocating funds to try and tackle your mortgage, this is an excellent option.

Depending on your mortgage lender, you may be able to simple increase your auto-pay amounts each month, streamlining the process. Otherwise, it’s possible to set up bill-pay with most banks to automatically transfer funds to your lender.

3. Bi-weekly payments or one extra payment per year

Making bi-weekly instead of monthly payments is an option that many homeowners use to pay off their mortgages early. Bi-weekly payments work by paying half of your monthly payment once every two weeks.

The vast majority of homeowners make 12 monthly payments per year. But by switching to 26 bi-weekly payments, you can effectively make 13 full monthly payments in a year without seeing too much of a difference in your daily budget.

This doesn’t seem like much savings in the short term, but let’s take a look at how much you could save over the term of a 30-year mortgage.

On a 30-year fixed mortgage of $200,000 with a 4.03 annual interest rate, you would make a monthly payment of $958.00 and a bi-weekly payment of $479.

Over 30 years of an extra monthly payment, you could save nearly $20,000 on the total interest amount and pay off your mortgage almost 5 years early.




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