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Articles Tagged "home buying"

January
24

Achieving 2023 Home Goals - Badger Peabody & Smith RealtyForget everything you've heard about buying a home in the last two years. The housing market in 2023 is going to be an entirely different affair. Some experts are predicting a more balanced market. But that won't necessarily make homeownership more affordable as interest rates are on the rise.

So, what's a savvy first-time buyer to do? Here are some tips from our real estate agents that will help you bring your homeownership goals to fruition.

  1. Add to Your Down Payment
    Generally speaking, a larger down payment means a lower mortgage rate. One thing to understand is that interest rates are all about risk—they represent the potential for investment losses. For this reason, paying more cash upfront makes you less of a risk to lenders as you have more stake in the property. As such, they are likely to offer you more favorable interest rates.

    Ideally, you want to save enough money for a 20% down payment. But lenders will seldom ask for this much, especially if you have a solid credit score and an excellent debt repayment history. That said, the more you put down, the less you'll pay over the life of the loan.

  2. Make Sure You Have a Great Credit Score
    Here's an industry secret: You don't need a great credit score to buy a house. But it will be harder and more expensive to do so. Your credit score is a crucial deciding factor when applying for a mortgage. See, your credit score isn't just some number. It tells the story of how reliable you are as a borrower and how well (or poorly) you manage your money. Your credit score is yet another metric financial institutions use to assess the risk of lending you money. Typically, the higher your score, the less of a risk you are and the better your borrowing terms will be.

    Considering interest rates are on the rise, it's certainly wise to take measures to improve your credit score. Paying your bills on time and keeping your credit utilization low are just a few ways to do this.

  3. Shop Around for the Best Mortgage Rates
    Getting preapproved before you start house hunting is always a good idea. But remember, dealing with only one lender may not work in your favor. You'll want to shop around and compare interest rates from different lenders. This way, you'll secure a lower rate and even better terms on your mortgage.

    What's more, you may want to consider getting a fixed-mortgage rate. Adjustable-rate mortgages have the advantage of lower interest rates, but they can be more expensive long-term in a market where interest rates are on the rise. A fixed-rate mortgage, on the other hand, offers a consistent monthly payment for the duration of your loan, making it easier to budget.

  4. Consult a Local Professional
    There's a lot of talk about interest rates on a national scale. Bearing that in mind, your local real estate agent is well-versed in your area's current trends, neighborhood characteristics, and the local economy. Such in-depth knowledge can prove invaluable when it's your first time around the block. Whether you want to tour Berlin homes for sale or Bretton Woods homes for sale, your local real estate agent can help you out.

Find the right home for you this year around the White Mountains of New Hampshire. Contact us to learn how we can help you navigate the 2023 real estate market.

December
8

Holiday Move - Buy a Home - Badger Peabody & SmithMoving is stressful in its own right, but when you add holidays to the mix, your anxiety can skyrocket. Unfortunately, sometimes you have no choice. While we may not be able to resolve all of your moving issues, our real estate agents have a few tips to make the process a little easier.

  • Create an Organized Plan
    The key to minimizing stress is to eliminate surprises. Research and plan carefully to prepare yourself for all contingencies, but remember to be flexible. In an undertaking as complex as a move, some things probably won't go as planned. Don't let that derail your efforts. Determine when you can book movers, trucks, and storage facilities, if necessary. Make reservations as far in advance as possible. Ask about discounts as well as deposits. Prepare for inclement weather by making sure appropriate clothing is readily accessible. Check off tasks as you go so you don't overlook crucial actions.

  • Plan the Move for Mid-Week.
    The busiest shopping day of the year falls on the weekend before Christmas. That means that traffic conditions are extreme. If you are planning to hire movers to assist you, you may face holiday overtime rates. With Christmas falling on the weekend, you can count on the entire week before being exceptionally busy. If possible, plan your move at least one week earlier.

  • Consider a Move Between Holidays
    Moving after Christmas but before New Year's Day will minimize the hectic time in traffic, allow you to celebrate before you tackle the move itself, and save time and money. If you can schedule a move immediately after Christmas, you'll have several days to move into your new home and have it ready to enjoy the coming year. 

  • Pack Decorations and Gifts Last
    While the rest of the house dissolves into stacks of boxes and bare walls, you can have a safe haven that still feels like home and allows you to enjoy a holiday atmosphere. If you're arriving at your new home before Christmas, clearly label the related boxes so they can be quickly identified and ready to access. Consider minimal decor to shorten set-up time, but include any items that are particularly meaningful to your family. If you are closing on one of our gorgeous Franconia and Holderness homes for sale, you may want to take the time to set out your decorations before you make the rest of the move. That way, when you are exhausted from the move, you can relax and enjoy your beautiful new space, complete with the tree!

  • Create Two Budgets
    Monitoring your financial expenditures is important, but so is your time management. Saving a few dollars is not worth midnight madness when you have stretched yourself too thin. As you budget your cash, be reasonable with how much time you allow yourself to manage the move and enjoy your life. Plan to take time out when appropriate, and you don't take on other projects. It may be the year someone else serves you dinner instead of you taking on all the hosting responsibilities. Your time is valuable. Budget it as judiciously as you would your money. 

If you're relocating and haven't yet found the perfect house, contact us. Our real estate professionals will be happy to help you find it and will probably have plenty of other tips to make the move as smooth as possible. 

November
7

Starter Home Tips - Badger Peabody & Smith RealtyThe thought of buying your first home is exciting. However, before picking out curtains and decorations, you must consider whether it's the right investment for your future. Our real estate agents suggest you consider the five following considerations before your heart settles on any first home.

  1. Cost of Ownership
    Is the home affordable? This is the first and most important question any homebuyer should ask about Berlin homes for saleCalculating the cost of ownership goes beyond the mortgage, taxes, and down payment. You must factor in all the costs of owning the home, including the cost of renovating the home, homeowners insurance, utility bills, HOA fees, and maintenance. Generally, you never want to spend more than 30% on monthly housing expenses. The lower your ratio, the more comfortable you will be, and the easier it will be for you to maintain the property. 

  2. The Condition of the Property
    Many homes are in exceptional condition, but some may need some improvements. Always have a home inspected by an insured home inspector. It is imperative to confirm that the foundation, roof, plumbing, and electrical systems are in good condition and don't require extensive repairs or replacement.   

  3. The Neighborhood
    Before you settle on a neighborhood, consider how close you'll be to the places you visit on a regular basis. Is it close enough to work, school, and stores? Decide how far you're willing to drive to reach these destinations. You'll also want to research long-term property values in the neighborhood you're considering. A home is typically the biggest purchase you'll make, and you want to ensure you make the right choice financially.

  4. Longevity and Lifestyle
    Is the home a property you will grow into and out of, or is it somewhere you can see yourself spending the next 30 years? Many homes are built in neighborhoods where neighbors become like family. Similarly, many homes can be remodeled and renovated to fit your needs as they evolve. Considering these aspects can help you determine whether a property is the right fit for your long-term plans.

  5. How Big is the Home
    Always factor in the size of the home and your expected needs over the next five to 10 years. Smaller homes are less costly and easier to maintain, they are a great way to save money each month and be used to purchase a larger home when the time comes. 

We'd love to help you find the ideal first home for your needs. We encourage you to contact us to learn more about the homes currently on the market and the real estate trends we see emerging in the region.

August
24

Potential Home Inspector Questions - Badger Peabody & Smith RealtyOur real estate agents know it's easy to get excited about North Conway homes for sale. As a prospective buyer, however, you should always be careful to take the right steps to protect your interests. One of the most important of these is to hire a home inspector before you go forward on a transaction.

What Is a Home Inspection and Why Do You Need One?

A home inspection job is simple: Document the property's condition from top to bottom and make you aware of any potential issues. A home inspection report is exhaustive, often holding dozens of pages, covering every element of every room (and often, the exterior spaces).

The main issues a home inspector looks for are those that can lead to a large repair bill in the future. If a home inspector finds problems, this can lead to negotiating leverage for potential buyers.

Most conventional home lenders require you to have a home inspection before they come through with funding. Even if you are planning to pay in cash, however, a home inspection is essential. It helps prevent surprises that can complicate homeownership in the future.

Ask the Right Questions to Choose Your Home Inspector

Choosing a reputable home inspector who will provide you with all the information you need to make an informed decision is vital. As the buyer, you usually pay 100% for the home inspection and often have a time limit. Even if time is tight, compare your options before you decide.

Here are some key questions to ask:

  • "What Do You Check?"
    The major building systems—roof, sewer or septic, and electrical—are the pieces most likely to cause big problems. But detail work is often left to separate experts. Home inspectors confine their work to visual inspection, so their "wiring check" may be limited to flipping light switches in each room.
  • "What Do You Charge?"
    Home inspection costs generally run between $200 and $800. Fees are variable based on the size of the home and the required timeline. Home inspectors are paid on the day of the inspection, so you need to know in advance and make appropriate arrangements.
  • "How Long Have You Been in Business?"
    These days, a reputable business will have reviews on third-party websites like Yelp and Google Reviews. Fake reviews can be posted, but reviews (positive or negative) cannot be removed by the business once written. Check the inspector's statements about their experience against these sources.
  • "Can I Come Along?"
    A home inspector can't cut a hole into the wall or do any other restructuring work that might be unsafe, so there's no reason for a skilled inspector not to have the buyer along. Of course, you might not be crawling into the attic, but you can ask questions and get feedback as the inspection unfolds.
  • "How Long Will It Take?"
    While good inspectors don't mind the buyer, the seller is another story. Most inspections occur during regular working hours, typically when the seller is not home. Schedules are estimates only, but they will give you a sense of what to expect, especially if you want to be present.
  • "Can I See a Sample Report?"
    All observations uncovered during a home inspection should be documented in the form of a report. The standards for these vary widely, although there are industry associations that advocate best practices. In general, the more photographic evidence comes with a report, the more useful it is for you.

Contact us to find out more about White Mountains real estate today.

August
9

Closing Day Expectations - Buy a Home - Badger Peabody & SmithWhen closing day is right around the corner, it's natural to wonder what to expect. While each closing is a little different than the last, some things are universal to each one. Our real estate agents will help guide you through the process and ensure you're prepared when the "big day" arrives. 

After months of pouring through listings for Berlin homes for sale, you finally found the right home. What next? While you may assume it's as simple as handing over a check and taking the keys, a few more steps are involved in closing before you can take possession of your new home (or conclude the sale of your home.)

What Happens on Closing Day

Once a date and location are agreed upon, sellers and buyers have work to do beforehand. In most cases, the location will be the attorney's office, agent's office, or escrow agent's office. Before closing, sellers must complete any agreed-upon repairs and construction works. Or, in lieu of this, provide confirmation via a contract that the work to be done is scheduled at an agreed-upon date and standard (i.e., scope, materials, contractor selection, etc.)

Sellers will also need to make the home available for a home inspection, and just 24 hours before closing, make the home available for the buyer and their agent to conduct a final walk-through.

Buyers and sellers should bring government-issued photo IDs with them. Passports and driver's licenses are sufficient. Both buyers and sellers have to sign a bevy of documents and forms. Crucially, the buyer will make an earnest money deposit into the escrow account and confirm they have the homeowners insurance and other documents required for the underwriting. 

When everything goes to plan, the seller will transfer the deed to the buyer, and the buyer will transfer funds from their financial institution to the seller. Both parties will confirm that the title is free and clear of liens or encumbrances. And your agent, the escrow agent, attorney, and lender will answer any questions either party may have about the sale. 

Once the money is transferred, the home is officially sold, the buyers can move in, and sellers can move on. From start to finish, the closing process can take anywhere from two weeks to two months, depending on the sale and any conditions attached to it. 

Preparing for Closing

Before closing, sellers should remove their possessions from the property and clean the home so it's tidy when the new owners arrive. It doesn't have to be spotless, but it is a nice gesture. 

Sellers will also want to put in a change of address form with the post office and notify creditors, banks, and family/friends of the new address. Sellers should also set aside all the warranties and manuals for appliances, fixtures, HVAC systems, etc. Most homeowners do this by leaving these in a clearly marked bag in the kitchen. 

Sellers should also "shut down" the home. This means turning off water valves, adjusting thermostats so the house isn't too hot/cold, and ensuring that all doors, windows, etc., are tight and locked. 

We know you have many questions about the closing process, and we're happy to help guide you through the steps and stages. We encourage you to contact us to learn more about the many ways our real estate team can help you find the home of your dreams. 

May
25

Housewarming Gifts for New Owners - Badger Peabody & Smith RealtyDo you know someone who has recently moved into a new home? You may have thought about bringing them a housewarming gift to help them settle in. Our real estate agents love this tradition and think it's a great way to usher people into a bright future in their new space.

Our list of ideas for housewarming gifts in 2022 will help you find the perfect gift for every new homeowner this year.  

  • Houseplants
    Houseplants are classic housewarming gifts: they're inexpensive, long-lasting, and add a cheerful personal touch to any home. Unless you know for certain that the family has no young children or pets, be sure to choose plants that are non-toxic to both humans and animals. Some classic options include African violets, spider plants, and parlor palms. As a bonus, these plants are also very hardy, so they're easy for even beginner gardeners to care for.
     
  • Personalized Address Stickers
    Most of us may not send physical mail as much as we used to, but many people still enjoy sending the occasional holiday card or handwritten letter. Personalized address stickers are perfect for quickly adding a return address to the envelopes on those occasions. This gift is particularly nice because it ties the new homeowner's identity to the home itself. This makes the move feel more official, satisfying, and lasting.
     
  • A Smart Home Device
    If the new homeowner is tech-savvy, they might like to bring more modern conveniences into their home with a smart home system. Even if your recipient already uses these devices, getting them another one will help them to expand their network in their new (and likely larger) home. Just be sure to check which type of device they use – branded smart home products like Google Home and Amazon Echo devices run on their own ecosystem and are not compatible with each other.

  • A Charcuterie Board
    Charcuterie is extremely popular right now. Give your recipients a charcuterie board to help them experiment with this trend in style. Look for a quality board that won't warp, snap, or splinter. If you want to make the gift extra-special, you can get the board engraved with the homeowner's name or phrase that holds special meaning to them.

  • Personalized Ornaments
    Many people like to commemorate milestones in their life with holiday ornaments that tie back to major life events. Giving your recipient a personalized ornament with their address, postal code, or a picture of their home on it will give them a tangible representation of their big move. They're sure to remember the event (and you!) fondly when they hang the ornament up each year.

  • Kitchen Linens
    If you prefer to give practical gifts as housewarming presents, kitchen linens are a great option. A new set of dish towels or kitchen cloths is always useful, especially in a new house where old linens might not have been fully unpacked yet. Choose some with fun patterns that match the décor of the homeowners' new kitchen to show off your attention to detail and ensure your gift doesn't feel generic. 

Want to be the next family to host a housewarming party? Contact us today for more information on any of our listings or to connect with any of our expert staff. 

July
7

We are getting ready to pull some market data for the Central NH/Plymouth NH real estate market to use Thursday night during a presentation I'm giving for AHEAD. AHEAD stands for Affordable Housing, Education and Development and they are part of the national NeighborWorks HomeOwnership Center. They are based out of Littleton but cover Northern and Central NH, its a great organization and one that we are proud to work with. This Thursday, July 9th from 6-8 pm AHEAD will sponsor a free workshop with AHEAD called, "Homebuying in Today's Market". Some topics will include a look at current market conditions, how to negotiate a good deal, how it works when you purchase foreclosed and bank owned property and how real estate is an asset. We presented this workshop a few weeks ago in Littleton, NH and due to its success, this one will be in another AHEAD service area, in Plymouth, NH. We'll be meeting at the Pease Public Library, 1 Russell Street, Plymouth NH. If you are interested in attending you can register online or call 603-444-1377. The workshop is free but they ask that you pre-register so they can get a head count. I hope to see you Thursday night in Plymouth. If there are any specifics questions you would like addressed, please feel free to send them to me at andy@peabodysmith.com.  

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