Kathy Foran - REALTY EXECUTIVES Boston West

Posted by Kathy Foran on 3/11/2018

Whether you're looking for your first house, a vacation home, or a retirement condo, there's always an element of excitement in finding a new place you can call your own!

Although buying and selling real estate can be stressful, especially if you've never done it before, being prepared and knowing what to expect can help keep things on an even keel.

Similar to planning a vacation or a cross-country trip, you'll want to avoid missed connections, frustrating delays, and wasted time. When it comes to buying a home, a little research, planning, and expert advice can go a long way toward ensuring a smooth journey. Here are a few specifics:

Check your credit score: Your credit rating has a major impact on your ability to successfully apply for a mortgage and be offered a relatively low interest rate. Knowing your credit rating can help you understand your options, avoid unexpected surprises, and take action to correct errors in your credit report or improve your credit profile.

Prepare a wish list: One of the keys to getting what you want in a new home is to clarify and prioritize the features that matter the most to you. Your checklist can include everything from lot size and architectural style to the reputation of the school district and proximity to stores. Some house hunters also place a high value on features like a fireplace, screened-in porch, and an open floor plan.

Find a good real estate agent: A buyers' agent can provide you with an immense amount of help in finding properties for sale that meet your specifications. They can also provide assistance, advice, and guidance on the many steps involved in going from loan applicant to new home owner. An experienced agent can also negotiate the best possible deal, in terms of price, seller concessions, and other advantages.

Meet with mortgage lenders: A crucial step in preparing to become a homeowner is understanding the mortgage application process, knowing how much banks would be willing to lend you, and determining an affordable price range. Meeting with lenders is also the first step to comparing interest rates and choosing a financial institution that would best suit your needs. Here's a helpful tip from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau: "Getting a preapproval letter helps you show sellers that you are a serious buyer Ė but it doesnít commit you to a lender."

When it comes to searching for and buying a house, probably the best advice anyone could give you is "stay the course!" Let's face it: It's easy to give up, get discouraged, or settle for a home that's less than what you really want. However, when you adopt a "stay the course" mindset, you'll do a better job of staying motivated, focused, and well organized until you find just the right home for you, your family, and your future!

Posted by Kathy Foran on 3/4/2018

The biggest area of your life that you need to understand before you buy a house is your own finances. Before you know what kind of house you can buy, youíll need to understand your own buying power. While things like square footage, how many bedrooms you need, and finding the right neighborhood are important, you canít go very far without some type of financing. While understanding how much you can spend on a property is one of the more serious parts of buying a home, itís something that youíll want to do. Knowing what you can spend on a home is a step to helping you land a home you love. If you understand your own numbers, youíll know the chances that you have of an offer being accepted on a place you love.  

The Elements Of Your Buying Power

Your Credit Score

This little three digit number has a lot of meaning behind it. This is the most basic piece of information that lenders use to determine your loan worthiness. The factors that influence your credit score include:

  • Payment history
  • How much you owe
  • Length of your credit history
  • Mix of credit accounts
  • How much new credit you have opened

A low credit score is somewhere under 620. Having a score this low doesn't necessarily mean that youíll be denied for a loan, but the type and amount of the loan youíre offered can be impacted. Youíll also face higher interest rates because of a low credit score. This means your mortgage could be considerably more expensive than if you had a higher credit score. 

Down Payment

The 20 percent down as a rule of thumb actually offers many benefits to your buying power. This means that youíll need 20% down of the purchase price of the home in cash. If you put this amount of money (or even more) down on a home, it eliminates the need for you to have to buy PMI (Private Mortgage Insurance). Youíll even be able to negotiate a lower interest rate. A large down payment may be especially helpful in competitive markets where there is a lot of buyer competition.

How Your Financial Picture Appears

Your assets and your debt-to-income ratio are also important factors in your financial picture that you present to the lender. Basically, all of these numbers let both the lender and the seller see how committed you are to buying a home. It is one of the biggest financial undertakings of your entire life. If you canít show financial responsibility, then it may be a bit difficult for lenders to see that youíll actually pay your loan back in a timely manner.

The better all of your financial numbers are, the more buying power that youíll have. If your numbers are good, youíll be able to afford more house. While it may not be the most exciting thing to look over all of your financial numbers, itís a vital step in the process of your journey to home ownership.

Tags: Buying a home   finances  
Categories: Uncategorized  

Posted by Kathy Foran on 2/18/2018

The more you know about the process of buying a house, the better prepared you'll be for doing it successfully.

How might you define "success" when it comes to purchasing a home?

There are a lot of standards that could be applied to successfully navigating the home buying process, but here are a few that immediately come to mind:

  • Finding the house of your dreams: While very few people find a home that is absolutely perfect in every way, it is possible to come close to achieving that ideal. Although a certain amount of flexibility goes a long way, knowing what you want and prioritizing important features are among the main prerequisites to getting what you want. As baseball legend Yogi Berra once said, "If you don't know where you are going, you'll end up someplace else." Thanks to the variety of websites devoted to home ownership, home decorating, remodeling, and landscaping, it's easy to find pictures online that can help inspire your imagination and clarify exactly what the house of your dreams might look like.
  • Minimizing setbacks and frustrations: The process of house hunting is a journey that often involves bumpy roads, detours, and dead ends. One secret to getting through it successfully is to work with an experienced real estate agent who knows the ropes and can keep you on track. It also helps to approach house hunting with a sense of optimism, resourcefulness, and commitment. Although you probably have a lot of competing priorities in your life, finding a house that you and your family will be happy in for the next few years deserves a top spot on your list!
  • Avoiding unpleasant surprises: Knowing your credit score and understanding the impact it will have on getting loan approval and a favorable interest rate will help prepare you for the financial side of buying a house. The ability to get prequalified for a mortgage and come up with sufficient down payment will also set the stage for a successful home buying experience. On the plus side, a higher down payment can potentially result in a lower interest rate and not having to pay private mortgage insurance (A 20% down payment is necessary to avoid PMI.) Since many loan programs and lenders require at least a 3-5% down payment, that can be a stumbling block for first-time home buyers. To purchase a $200,000 home, for example, you'd need to come up with a cash outlay of between $6,000 to $10,000 -- not an easy feat for everyone!
If coming up with a sufficient down payment is an issue for you, your real estate agent or loan officer can work with you to brainstorm possible solutions and alternative strategies. For some first-time home buyers, the best plan is to postpone your house buying plans for a couple years until you can improve your credit score and set aside several thousand dollars for a down payment.

Posted by Kathy Foran on 1/28/2018

For homebuyers, a home inspection is paramount. This inspection enables you to look closely at a house and identify any problem areas. It also may force you to rethink your decision to buy a house, particularly if you discover a wide range of problems during the inspection.

Ultimately, it pays to consider your options following a home inspection. In fact, if you take an in-depth approach to potential home repairs, you can determine whether to ask a seller to complete these repairs before you finalize a purchase agreement.

Before you ask a seller to perform home repairs, there are several questions that you should consider, and these are:

1. How much will it cost to complete assorted home repairs?

A damaged roof is much more expensive to repair than a defective light fixture. Fortunately, if you assess the costs of potential home repairs, you can differentiate major home repairs from minor ones and plan accordingly.

If a home requires thousands of dollars in repairs, it may be worthwhile to ask a seller to complete these repairs. Otherwise, you'll be responsible for allocating the necessary time and resources to perform costly home repairs after you finalize your house purchase.

On the other hand, minor home repairs may be easy to handle on your own. If you feel comfortable completing minor home repairs, you may want to avoid submitting a request to a seller to perform these repairs. Because if you ask a seller to complete myriad minor home repairs, he or she may walk away from a potential home sale.

2. Are there any required repairs that must be completed right away?

Required repairs, i.e. repairs that will address hazardous conditions in a house, sometimes will need to be completed following a home inspection. These repairs include water penetration issues and local code safety violations.

If required repairs go unaddressed, your lender is unlikely to provide you with the financing that you need to acquire a house. Thus, you should request a seller complete these repairs as soon as possible.

3. Is it worth my time to ask a seller to complete home repairs?

There is no right or wrong answer to the aforementioned question, as every homebuyer and home seller is different. If you are uncomfortable with a house following an inspection, you should examine the inspection report and determine the best course of action. And if you feel that asking a seller to perform home repairs is essential, it is important to do just that.

Lastly, if you need assistance throughout the homebuying journey, it helps to work with an expert real estate agent. This housing market professional usually will attend a home inspection and help you assess a house. Plus, an expert real estate agent is happy to provide recommendations and suggestions to ensure you can make an informed home purchase.

Take the guesswork out of evaluating a house following an inspection Ė consider the aforementioned questions, and you can determine whether to ask a seller to complete home repairs after an inspection.

Categories: Uncategorized  

Posted by Kathy Foran on 1/21/2018

When you find a house that you love a lot, your main concern may be that other people really love the home too. How can you make your offer stand out? You might want to write an offer letter to go long with your proposed purchase price for the home. While making the highest offer s typically the best way to secure a bid on a home, if sellers get a few similar offers, they may be enticed by an extra bit of effort on the part of the buyer. 

Woo Them

There are certain ways that you can craft an offer letter to help a seller be intrigued a bit more and accept your offer. Many times, sellers have a certain type of attachment to a home. They want someone who loves the home as much as they did. Most sellers who have taken pride in their homes want to pass that on to the next owner. Be sure you tell the owners that you appreciate the care that they have taken to keep their home nice. You can also mention that this home will be a great place for you and your family to grow. If you let your enthusiasm stand out, youíll be able to shine among other offers. 

Give Your Backstory

If you happen to be expecting your first child, or maybe your family is expecting another addition, you may want to note that in your letter. Getting personal with a stranger may seem kind of odd, yet sharing a bit of your story can help a seller feel more comfortable about accepting your offer as opposed to any others. If you have family or good friends that live in the neighborhood, let the seller know about that as well. Sometimes, sharing your story gives that extra touch that you need to have a winning offer. 

Praise Them

Just as you would praise the seller for taking good care of the home, you also want to point out any specific updates that will make your life easier. If thereís a newly landscaped backyard, mention it. If the new roof looks great on the house, include it in your letter. If you notice that the sellers have dogs, let them know how much your dogs will love being in the house as well. Youíre not brown-nosing, youíre just giving the sellers a little something to be proud of, letting them know that you took notice! 

Donít Be Afraid To Get Sentimental

If the home happens to be in the same neighborhood that your family grew up in, then by all means include that in your letter. If your mom lives a few blocks away and is hoping to be closer to the grandkids, it doesnít hurt to tell the seller about it. The bottom line is to get a bit personal and let the seller know why you want the home. From the home itself to how it will suit your needs, a seller will feel good accepting an offer that they have a connection to.