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Posted by Five College REALTORS ® on 9/23/2020


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The term “bi-weekly” means every other week. If you get paid bi-weekly, you usually get your check every other Friday. When it comes to a mortgage, typical amortization plans (payments of principal and interest) use a 30-year/360-month calculation. But many lenders offer a bi-weekly plan too.

In this case, you would make 26 payments a year. When your paycheck is also bi-weekly, this option works fantastically. When you do this, you effectively make 13 monthly payments in a year. While some lenders won’t accept two half payments mailed to them each month, they will set up automatic deductions bi-weekly for you. 

Can you do it faster?

A bi-weekly plan will pay down your loan more quickly than twelve monthly payments, but can you do more to get your house paid off?

Here are some options to add to your plan and get your mortgage paid off sooner:

  • Round up: If your bi-weekly payment is $762 a month, round it up to $800. That extra $38 against your principle lowers the overall interest you’ll pay. If you can round it up higher, do so.
  • Use your bonus: Annual bonuses from work often go toward holiday gifts and other expenses, but if you really want to pay your house down, add it to your last payment of the year.
  • Use your tax refund: If you get a refund from the government every year for overpaying your taxes, apply it to your house. A few hundred or thousand dollars extra every year makes an enormous difference in the interest you pay and how soon that property belongs to you in full.

Online calculators can help you determine what adding just a small amount to your payment can do to reduce the time it takes to fully amortize your mortgage. Plugin different numbers to see what works for you.

If you haven’t yet purchased your house, your real estate agent can get you started, so give them a call today. Then set your budget, buy your house, and put your plan into action.




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Posted by Five College REALTORS ® on 9/16/2020

Photo by Pixabay from Pexels

Buying your first home is an exciting experience, but it can also be overwhelming when you don't know what to expect. Below are some tips to help first-time homebuyers navigate this process successfully. 

1. Get pre-approved before you start shopping. 

Nothing is more upsetting than finding the home of your dreams, only to learn that you cannot qualify for the loan needed to purchase it. Before you begin shopping for a new home, meet with a lender to request a pre-approval. The lender will review your financial situation and provide you with a pre-approved loan amount. Once you know how much you can afford to borrow, selecting the right properties will be easier. 

2. Select the right real estate agent. 

One of the most important things you can do to ensure that the process of buying your first home goes as smoothly as possible is to hire the right real estate agent. Be sure to choose a local agent who is familiar with your area. It is also a good idea to research your agent's background and experience, as well as to read reviews written by past clients so you will know what to expect as you work with the agent. 

3. Don't overbuy. 

When purchasing your first home, it can be tempting to choose a property at the higher end of your price range. However, adjusting to a monthly mortgage payment can be challenging. Make this process easier on yourself by selecting a property in the middle of your price range if possible. This will make your monthly payments more affordable, leaving you with plenty of extra income to buy furniture, make repairs or even save for the future. 

4. Do your research. 

Before purchasing any new home, be sure to do plenty of research about the neighborhood and the property itself. Ask your real estate agent to provide any insight they may have about the area and the property in question. If you have questions about the property, get the answers you need before you make an offer. 

5. Ask for an inspection. 

When you make an offer on the property you hope to purchase, you have the chance to request an inspection. Regardless of the circumstances, it is always in your best interest to take advantage of this opportunity. Be sure to read the inspection report carefully and consider any items that were found to be dangerous or defective. 

Every first-time homebuyer feels a little anxious, but you can simplify the experience by following the tips above. 




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Posted by Five College REALTORS ® on 9/9/2020


 Photo by Steve Buissinne via Pixabay

While real estate has ups and downs, it has generally been a good long-term investment. Owning a home is one way of investing, but to really take advantage, you can buy property that you won’t necessarily occupy but will make you some money.

How Real Estate Makes Money

There are two basic ways. You can rent out your property, or you can sell it for more than you paid. The latter usually involves improving the property and then “flipping” it.

Before you start making offers on potential rental or flippable property, think about what you hope to accomplish. Are you going to be a landlord or a flipper? The two require different attitudes and skills. While it’s certainly possible to combine the two – to buy a building to fix up and rent, or to rent something you will eventually sell – most people focus on one or the other.

Getting Started

In either case, it’s wise to start small. You may aspire to own an entire apartment complex and rent to a building full of tenants, but it’s better to start out with a single unit and learn to meet the challenges of being a landlord. One hands-on way is to buy a duplex, live in one half and rent the other. If you’re a flipper, you might want to eventually manage a renovation team restoring houses all over town, but you’re better off to cut your teeth on just one.

If you’re a novice, you’ll want to buy locally, and you’ll need to understand real estate trends in your community. Which neighborhoods are changing for better or for worse? How are prices moving? Does the market favor buyers or sellers? Remember, locals trends can be different from national ones. What percentage of available rentals markets are occupied? If occupation rates are high, it’s easier to find and keep tenants.

You can scour local listings yourself, but you’ll do well to consult a real estate agent who understands the market and local rentals. It’s best to work with a banker and have financing in place before you start.

Be realistic about projecting your revenue and expenses. Renovations often cost more than you’d predict. Rental upkeep can be expensive. Eventually you’ll need to upgrade appliances and replace the roof.

If you’re going to be a landlord, decide how hands-on you can be. Can you make repairs yourself? Are you willing to locate tenants and deal with them on an ongoing basis? If not, hire a property management company to take care of day-to-day management.

Investing at a Distance

You don’t have to buy a property and take on the associated headaches to profit from real estate. A vehicle such as real estate investment trust (REIT) or crowdfunded real estate makes you a part-owner of a large real estate investment. Someone else selects and manages the properties. It’s similar to buying stock. You (and others) provide the money, accept the risk and potentially enjoy the profits.





Posted by Five College REALTORS ® on 9/2/2020

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Build-to-rent is a major term right now for investors. The industry has seen a serious leap in interest in just the past year, making nearly everyone in the real estate space sit up and take notice. We'll look at the special nature of these properties and which attributes make a property more valuable than another. 

The Hot Spots 

Build-to-rent generally refers to a single-family property built to be used by renters rather than owners. It's popular because it's difficult to profit off of a new build, especially when you take into account the price of the land, materials, and permit costs. The areas that are exploding with these properties tend to be affordable cities with plenty of available infrastructure.

Atlanta, Houston, Charlotte: these hot spots are attracting young renters who may not have a sizable down payment saved for a new house, but they're still willing to pay for the right amenities. It's making it relatively easy for investors to recoup their money (and then some). 

The History of Build-to-Rent 

This trend got its start after the recession churned out countless foreclosures and short sales, but has since morphed into its own asset class. Once home prices started to creep back up, investors saw that there was plenty of money to be made in renting even after the economy returned. Today, the build-to-rent industry is largely driven by new homes. Developers may build several dozen homes in a single area, making it easier for property managers to respond to renter requests and perform regular maintenance.  

What's Behind the Success

The most successful build-to-rent properties are those in highly popular areas that would otherwise be too expensive to the everyday renter. Less than half of all millennials have any kind of substantial savings to put toward homeownership, and even the Baby Boomers are starting to turn toward renting (whether they need to or not). In addition, home appreciation has slowed over the past few years and new tax rules don't exactly make it an open-and-shut case that owning is the best choice available. 

Investors who have the opportunity to get involved in build-to-rent will likely be happy they did. The key is to look for properties that are sensible in nature. Avoid those in areas that make it difficult to build (either through expensive permits or restrictive building codes). Opt for properties in nice areas made with affordable, durable materials. This will cut back on maintenance and increase your profits in the long run. 





Posted by Five College REALTORS ® on 8/26/2020

A home inspection is a vital part of every real estate transaction. Its importance is usually solidified in a purchase contract in the form of a contingency clause.

Whenever you buy or sell a home, the transaction is typically contingent upon a few things being fulfilled. Inspections help protect the buyer from purchasing a home that they believed didn’t have any major issues.

For buyers, an inspection can save you thousands in the long run. For sellers, getting a preemptive inspection done (on your own dime) can be useful since it will help you avoid any surprises that could arise when a potential buyer has your home inspected.

Hiring a home inspector

Regardless of whether you’re the buyer or the seller in this instance, hiring a home inspector isn’t something you should take lightly. You’ll want to confer with your agent before you pick an inspector.

It’s also a good idea to check out some online reviews and visit the inspector’s website for pricing. Typically, inspectors charge between $200 and $400 for an inspection, so feel free to shop around.

Inspectors are certified, so make sure whoever you choose has the proper licensure. You can search for inspectors in your area with this search function.

Ultimately, you’ll want to choose an inspector that can give you the most unbiased assessment of the home, so that you can be assured that you know what you’re getting into when you buy or sell a home.

Preparing for an inspection

Many buyers aren’t sure what to expect on inspection day. However, the process is relatively simple.

You’ll want to make sure the inspector can easily access workspaces (like around the furnace, circuit breakers, etc.). This will make the inspector’s job easier and allow them to focus on the service they’re providing you.

If possible, it’s also a good idea to provide them with records of important home maintenance and repairs. Inspectors know what red flags to look for with the home, both physically and on paper.

Finally, make sure pets, kids, and any other distractions are away from home or with someone who can attend to them.

Post inspection

After the inspection is complete, the inspector will hand you a report and be able to answer any questions you have about their findings. They will give recommendations about the timeline for repairs that need to be made soon or even years into the future.

With this report in hand, you can determine if there are repairs you want to negotiate with the seller if you’re buying a home. As a seller, this report will tip you off to issues that potential buyers will likely have and give you a chance to address them in advance.




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