Sara Brothers - Competitive Edge Real Estate Services | Tewksbury MA Real Estate


Whether you're looking for your first house or getting ready to relocate for the fifth time, house hunting can wear you down after a while!

Not only can it be difficult to coordinate real estate appointments with work obligations and the demands of parenthood, but your stress level is compounded if you're on any kind of time table or deadline.

The secret to survival is to maintain a positive attitude, do your best to remain solution oriented, and work with a proactive real estate agent. A seasoned real estate agent who is familiar with the local market and is skilled at matching client needs to available housing inventory in the area can be your most valuable resource.

Know What You Want

One of the primary ways you can help your agent find your ideal home is to give a lot of thought to exactly what you want. When you're clear in your own mind about what would satisfy you, in terms of location, architectural style, and property size, then it will be a lot easier to refine your search and stay on target. Not only will that help your real estate agent match your specifications to available listings, but it will also help you recognize your ideal house when you see it.

A good starting point is to have a checklist of priorities, essential property features, and preferences that are important to you, your spouse, and your children. Deciding on must-have features as early in the process as possible can provide you with needed focus and momentum as you compare houses and view real estate listings. Although nothing is "carved in stone" and you can always revise your priority list, it can be a valuable tool for both you and your agent.

While everyone has different needs and wish lists, items to give some thought to may include a finished basement, a working fireplace, a two-car garage, a patio or deck, a screened in porch, a spacious back yard, a storage shed, outdoor security lighting, a sufficient number of bedrooms and bathrooms to accommodate your immediate family and overnight guests, an abundance of storage space, short commutes to work, and proximity to shopping, essential services, and a well-rated school district.

Some couples have specific architectural styles in mind when they go house hunting, such as Colonial, Contemporary, Craftsman, Tudor, Victorian, and Art Deco. It's also helpful to have a clear idea, and hopefully be in agreement with your partner, about how much decorating, renovating, and fixing up you're willing, ready, and able to do. Knowing how much privacy you must have, the peace and quiet you expect, and the recreational facilities you want access to are other key elements of "the big picture."

Although the biggest hurdle may be staying motivated and optimistic in the face of temporary setbacks and discouragements, when you have a clear idea of what you want and an attitude of positive expectation, you'll be surprised at what you can accomplish!


If you plan to pursue a condo, it generally is a good idea to know exactly what to expect. That way, you can map out a successful condo buying journey, one that ensures you can avoid potential pitfalls along the way.

Ultimately, there are many factors to consider as you get ready to embark on the condo buying journey, and these include:

1. Where You Want to Live

The condos in a big city often are very different from those available in a small town. Thus, you should make a list of your condo must-haves prior to starting a condo search to boost the likelihood of a seamless condo buying experience.

Furthermore, think about where you want to live before you kick off your condo search – you'll be happy that you did. Because if you can narrow your condo search to properties in a group of cities or towns, you may be able to speed up your condo search.

2. Your Budget

If you intend to buy a condo, you'll likely need a mortgage. Thankfully, many banks and credit unions are available, and these lenders can teach you everything that you need to know to put together a successful budget.

Banks and credit unions employ friendly, knowledgeable mortgage specialists. If you connect with these mortgage specialists, you can learn about a variety of mortgage options and make an informed mortgage selection.

Also, don't forget to plan ahead for potential condo dues. Most condos provide lawn care, snow removal and other amenities that are covered under monthly or annual condo fees. Although these fees may not be included in your mortgage, you'll need to put aside funds each month to cover them. Therefore, you'll want to account for potential condo fees as you craft your condo buying budget.

3. Condo Living

Living in a condo and residing in a house are not the same thing. As such, you should try to prepare for condo living as much as possible to ensure that the condo lifestyle is right for you.

For example, condo owners typically won't have to worry about performing lawn care thanks to their condo fees. At the same time, condo owners will need to comply with various regulations established by a community's homeowner's association (HOA). In fact, failure to comply with HOA rules could result in fines or other penalties.

If you want to get a better understanding about what it's like to live in a particular condo community, it may be beneficial to consult with a real estate agent with condo buying expertise. This housing market expert can offer insights into different condo communities in your city or town. Then, if you want to pursue a condo in a specific community, a real estate agent can help you purchase your ideal condo.

Ready to take the guesswork out of buying a condo? Consider the aforementioned factors, and you can streamline the process of going from condo buyer to condo owner.


If you want to buy a terrific house at a budget-friendly price, it generally is a good idea to plan ahead as much as you can. In fact, with a homebuying strategy in place, you can boost the likelihood of a fast, seamless homebuying experience.

Now, let's take a look at three tips to help you craft a successful homebuying strategy.

1. Think About Your Homebuying Goals

Do you want to live in a warm-weather region? Or, would you prefer to buy a house in a city or town where you can experience all four seasons? Regardless of where you want to live, you need to think about your homebuying goals and incorporate them into your homebuying plan.

Make a list of what you want to find in your dream house – you'll be glad you did. With this list, you can narrow your home search.

Also, it often helps to review your future plans as you put together a homebuying strategy. For example, if you intend to return to school, you may want to consider houses located near top colleges and universities. On the other hand, if you plan to settle down and start a family, you may want to pursue houses near parks and other family-friendly attractions.

2. Consider Your Financing Options

Buying a house likely will be impossible without home financing. Fortunately, there is no shortage of home financing options available.

Oftentimes, it is beneficial to meet with a variety of banks and credit unions. These financial institutions can teach you about myriad mortgage options and help you get pre-approved for a mortgage.

Once you have your home financing settled, you can incorporate a budget into your homebuying strategy. Then, you can check out available houses and avoid the risk of overspending to acquire your ideal residence.

3. Consult with a Real Estate Agent

Developing a homebuying strategy sometimes can be tough, particularly for those who are crafting a homebuying plan for the first time. Lucky for you, real estate agents are available nationwide who can help you complete a successful homebuying journey.

A real estate agent is happy to meet with you and discuss your homebuying goals. He or she also can review your homebuying strategy and offer expert homebuying recommendations.

Let's not forget about the support that a real estate agent can deliver during the homebuying journey, either. A real estate agent will set up home showings, keep you up to date about new houses as they become available and negotiate with a seller's agent on your behalf. Perhaps best of all, a real estate agent will help you minimize stress throughout the homebuying journey and ensure you can purchase your dream home in no time at all.

If you want to get the most out of the homebuying journey, creating a homebuying strategy is a must. Take advantage of the aforementioned tips, and you can craft a successful homebuying strategy.


When you’re showing your home, you need to stage the home properly to impress buyers. Buyers need to be able to get an idea of what it would be like to live in the home. No matter what your own lifestyle is, or what problems you have had in the home, there are certain things that you probably don’t want to share with anyone who could be a potential buyer on a walk through. 


Any Kind Of Taxidermy


Although you may enjoy hunting and taxidermy, there are few things that creep out potential buyers more than seeing animals that were formerly alive hanging on your wall. It’s been shown that taxidermy often gives buyers a sense of dread and can creep them out. Yes, that bear rug may be comfy and quite the accomplishment, but not everyone will share the same sentiment as you. Be sure to get all of these animal displays out of your home when you’re getting ready to sell it and show the property.


Personal Collections That May Be A Bit On The Strange Side


It’s really cool if you want to collect dolls, clowns, or have some kind of a celebrity shrine in your home. It’s cool for you, that is. Keep these items to yourself, especially when the home is going to be shown. Any room that could be considered too full of any one kind of item should be redecorated slightly before a home showing. 


Weapons


Weapons are on the same spectrum as taxidermy. Many people may have differing opinions with you on the subject and it could creep some buyers out. If you have any kinds of guns or knives displayed in your home, you should put them away for showings. These items can make buyers feel very uncomfortable and leave them turned off by your home.       



Political Items


If you like to get political, know that many people who are potentially going to buy your home probably don’t share your views or interests. Keep any politically charged signs and organizational symbols out of view for the showing of your home. Buyers may not be able to relate, and in turn, end up being turned off by your home.     


Bug Traps Or Mouse Traps


We all have experienced bugs or mice in our homes at one time or another. When the house goes up for sale, you don’t want to advertise this by keeping any kinds of traps in view of buyers. People will get creeped out easily by the thought that pests have infested the home at some point. Although the home inspection will probably note that there was some type of a pest problem in the home, you don’t want to lose potential buyers because a mouse trap was in view.


There are so many factors that go into buying a home. How much money do you have saved up? What is your debt amount? Hw much money do you make each month? Can you afford the neighborhood that you’d like to live in? All of these questions are swirling around the minds of all first-time homebuyers. Did you know that how long you have been at a job is just as important as your income as a factor in getting approved for a mortgage? 


Your ability to repay is why the lender is looking at so many different numbers and factors about your financial situation. Employment overall plays a large stake in the mortgage application. Lenders will look at your past employment history along with the job that your currently have. They are also concerned with your future employment status. Your lender will get an idea of your overall plan for your career and employment through looking at your history. 


As a first-time homebuyer, you most likely don’t have the employment history of more seasoned homebuyers. Generally, most people who are buying a home for the first time are pretty young in their careers. As a rule of thumb, lenders will look at your employment history over the past two years. The lender wants to see your industry focus. Maybe you have stuck with one career direction, or maybe you have hopped around a bunch. As a hint, jumping around from job to job and field to field doesn’t look very good to mortgage lenders. Job floaters tend to appear as if they have no plans for the future. 


Good Career Moves


Staying a software engineer, but moving from the medical industry to the financial industry is an acceptable and smart move in the eyes of lenders. Yet, leaving your stable job in accounting to pursue a career in acting would not be looked upon favorably in the eyes of a mortgage lender.


It doesn’t matter how much money you have saved up, often, without employment history, a lender may not consider you as a dependable buyer. Your lender wants to see that your income is stable for a period of at least three year’s time.


Income Matters 


You won’t have the same work history as a first time homebuyer as you would if you were a bit more seasoned. When lenders look at your income history, not having a lot of work history can be a detriment to many factors. If your income is an annual salary, for example, your lender will divide that salary by 12 in order to get a monthly income. If you haven’t been at the job for a full year or took a pay cut during times of training, those numbers will be affected.


For hourly employees, overtime may be a problem as it may not be factored in with the equation if there isn’t a history of at least two years on the job. 


While it isn’t impossible to buy a home with a short employment history, it’s advisable to wait until you have some significant time under your belt before you dive into the home buying process.




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