Cathy Toomey
Stone Ridge Properties | 978-609-3970 | cathyt@stoneridgeproperties.com


Posted by Cathy Toomey on 2/19/2019

When you budget to buy a home, you sit down, do the math, and try to estimate what all of your monthly costs will be. There are so many monthly costs that come with being a homeowner that can make the whole process complicated. Sure, you have taken the standard costs into account like home insurance, property taxes, and even utilities. But there are a few out-of-the-box costs that youíll need to consider for your house hunt.


Flood Or Other Natural Disaster Insurance


Natural disasters are costly and devastating. Many homeowners who live in areas that are affected by natural disasters like floods and earthquakes often opt for additional coverage for their homes. Premiums for earthquake and flood insurance often end up being very high. As a natural disaster strikes, these premiums can go up even more. If you live in one of the high-risk areas for natural disasters, youíll want to check with your insurance agent ahead of time to plan for the additional costs that these special kinds of insurance will incur.


Water Costs During A Drought


There are many areas across the US that suffer drought conditions from time to time. Your water bill can skyrocket during these times. Itís best to continue conserving water and watch your bill closely in order to try and save some costs. Thereís not a whole lot you can do otherwise to control your bill. Youíll need to stay prepared with some extra cash on hand in case of these emergencies and know that costs can rise due to different environmental conditions.  


Tax Hikes And Special Assessments 


As a homeowner, youíll need to prepare for different kinds of assessments and tax increases. If your condominium complex needs significant repairs then youíll probably end up paying an assessment to help offset the costs. This is what comes with belonging to a homeownerís association. 


You canít prevent that the town is building a brand new school that requires a tax increase, nor can you prevent roof damage on one of the buildings in your complex. Financially, this is a hidden cost of homeownership that you should be prepared for. 


Unexpected Maintenance Costs And Home Furnishings


Once you move into a home, youíll need to prepare for the unexpected. The dishwasher may need to be replaced. The roof may need repair. The walls may need some paint. 


When you buy a home you may also need a bunch of things to furnish the home. These could include dishes, pots and pans, sofas, beds, and more. You donít want to leave your new home completely empty! You also donít want to be without vital appliances like an oven or a sink for too long if they are outdated or in disrepair. This is why itís a good idea to have extra money on hand to deal with any of these costs.


The best rule of thumb to follow when buying a home is to always be prepared with a but of extra cash on hand to avoid major issues down the road.           






Posted by Cathy Toomey on 1/29/2019

An open house can be a life-changing event for a homebuyer. If you plan ahead for an open house, you should have no trouble determining whether a residence matches or exceeds your expectations. And if the answer is "Yes," you can proceed quickly to submit a competitive offer to acquire a house.

What does it take to prep for an open house? Here are three open house preparation tips that every homebuyer needs to know.

1. Understand Your Budget

Before you attend an open house, you should find out how much money is at your disposal. Thus, you may want to meet with banks and credit unions to see if you can get pre-approved for a mortgage. That way, you can kick off your home search with a budget in hand.

Although you know that you have only a certain amount of money to spend on a residence, it may be worthwhile to consider attending open houses for residences with initial asking prices that are above your price range. Because in some instances, a home seller may be willing to accept an offer that falls below his or her initial asking price.

2. Create a List of Questions

A home is one of the biggest purchases that a person can make, and as such, it pays to be diligent. If you craft a list of questions before an open house, you can get immediate responses from the showing agent. Then, you can determine the best course of action.

When it comes to an open house, there is no such thing as a "bad" question. As a homebuyer, it is paramount to get as much information as possible about a residence to determine whether a house is right for you. Therefore, if you create a list of questions in advance, you can improve your chances of getting the most out of an open house.

3. Consult with a Real Estate Agent

If you're uncertain about how to approach an open house, you're not alone. Fortunately, real estate agents are available nationwide who are happy to teach you the ins and outs of the real estate market. By doing so, these housing market professionals will make it easy to take an informed approach to any open house, at any time.

A real estate agent will always keep you up to date about new residences as they become available. Also, if you are interested in homes in a particular city or town, a real estate agent will notify you about open houses in this area. And if you need extra help prepping for an open house, a real estate agent is happy to assist you in any way possible.

Let's not forget about the support that a real estate agent provides throughout the homebuying journey, either. A real estate agent will help you submit an offer on a house, negotiate with a seller's agent on your behalf and much more.

Be diligent as you get ready for an open house Ė use the aforementioned tips, and you can fully prepare for an open house.





Posted by Cathy Toomey on 1/22/2019

Looking to buy a house in the next few months? Ultimately, a cautious approach to purchasing a residence may prove to be ideal, and perhaps it is easy to understand why.

There are many reasons to err on the side of caution as you search for your dream house, including:

1. You don't want to pay too much for a house.

Although acquiring your dream house may seem priceless, it is important to remember that the costs to purchase a residence can add up quickly. As such, if you're not careful, you risk overspending on a house.

Lucky for you, there are many simple ways to avoid the temptation to bid too much on a residence.

First, analyze the housing market closely and search for patterns and trends. If you discover an abundance of houses is available, you may be operating in a "buyer's" market. As a result, you may be better equipped than ever before to acquire a top-notch residence at a budget-friendly price.

Don't forget to get pre-approved for a mortgage prior to starting your home search too. That way, you can enter the housing market with a mortgage Ė and budget Ė in hand.

2. You want to find a house that you can enjoy for years to come.

A home is one of the biggest purchases that an individual will make in his or her lifetime. Thus, it is important to allocate the necessary time and resources to assess a house before you submit an offer on it.

Of course, a home showing is a must prior to the submission of a home offer. A home showing allows you to walk around a residence and envision what life might be like if you purchase this home.

After you submit an offer on a house, you'll likely have the opportunity to complete a property inspection before you finalize your home sale. This inspection is important, as it enables you to learn about any "hidden" problems that may have gone unnoticed during an initial home showing.

If you feel comfortable with a residence after an inspection, you can move forward with a home sale. Or, if you aren't comfortable with a house at this point, you can always submit a counter-proposal or remove your offer entirely.

3. You want your home to retain its long-term value.

Let's face it Ė buying a home is a tough decision. And if you need extra help determining whether a home purchase is a viable long-term decision, it may be a good idea to consult with a real estate agent.

Typically, a real estate agent can respond to any of your homebuying concerns and questions, at any time. He or she is happy to help you explore high-quality houses, and by doing so, will enable you to take the guesswork out of discovering a residence that will retain its value.

Err on the side of caution as you proceed along the homebuying journey, and you should have no trouble purchasing a residence that matches or surpasses your expectations.




Categories: Buying a Home   buying tips  


Posted by Cathy Toomey on 1/8/2019

Youíve been binging on HGTV and DIY network every weekend while you save up your money and youíre ready to take the plunge. Your agent tours you through several potentials and there it is Ö the perfect corner lot, the mediocre house with the awkward layout, chopped up floor plan, aging kitchen, and dated bathrooms. Itís just waiting to reveal shiplap behind the cracked plaster, original hardwood floors under the stained and dusty carpet, and other treasures you can only dream about until their uncovered.

You make the deal Ö now itís all yours. Where do you go from here?

Find the right professional
Ideally, a contractor with renovation experience toured the property with you, casting a professional eye over potential problems and exciting possibilities before you made the deal. If not, engage one now. Renovations require specific knowledge of structural issues like which walls to safely remove giving you that open-concept floor plan and which might be load-bearing. Experienced pros know when to call in an engineer to determine whether to expose the beams or if the wiring needs pulling. 

Make a plan
As with any project, make a basic plan before you start. Unlike new-builds, however, your plan might be more general until youíve removed walls and studs, discarded old cabinets and fixtures, and revealed the location of existing drainpipes, wiring, support structures, and other hidden gems. With everything visible determined, itís time for demolition. Just know that with a renovation, once demolition starts, plans can change. A supporting beam here, an unmovable drain there, a hidden chimney under that plaster Ö could derail your perfect original plans. When that happens, a pro can help you figure out what do.

Donít underestimate time
Watching a 57-minute renovation on television might give you an unrealistic expectation of how long it might be until your home is ready. After all, you donít have a trove of assistants ordering cabinets, changing out flooring samples and visiting showrooms to cull through items for you. Choice fatigue (the inability to choose between too many choices) can stymy a project for a novice.

Normal delays, hidden issues
Youíve planned, then modified the plans after the demo, selected, deselected, then re-selected the cabinets, flooring, and fixtures. Now itís time to get approvals and permits. Moving a project through the approval process in your municipality could be smooth sailing or rife with delays. Your professional contractor should help you navigate this process, but waiting for a permit can add days, or weeks to a project.

In addition to the normal delays, your demolition may uncover other issues that require remediation. These include lead, mold, asbestos, termite damage, shifting foundations, broken pipes, and myriad other possibilities. Bringing wiring up to code and changing out electrical panels consumes precious time and adds to the delays.

Before taking on a fixer-upper, seek the advice of a real estate professional with renovation experience to help you make a plan, and plan for contingencies.





Posted by Cathy Toomey on 1/1/2019

Applying for a mortgage may seem like a long, stressful process at first. Fortunately, we're here to help you take the guesswork out of submitting a mortgage application.

Now, let's take a look at three tips to help you streamline the mortgage application process.

1. Ask Questions

A bank or credit union likely will ask you to provide a wide range of information as part of the mortgage application cycle. And as you complete a mortgage application, you may have questions along the way too.

Remember, a lender is happy to help you in any way possible. If you ever have concerns or questions as you complete a mortgage application, you should reach out to a lender for expert support. That way, you can reduce the risk of potential problems down the line that otherwise could slow down the mortgage application process.

Even a single mistake on a mortgage application may prevent you from getting a mortgage. Perhaps even worse, a delayed mortgage application may force you to miss out on an opportunity to acquire your dream house. But if you reach out to a lender as you complete your mortgage application, you can gain the insights you need to quickly and effortlessly finalize the necessary documentation to obtain a mortgage.

2. Be Thorough

A mortgage application may require you to look back at your financial and employment histories and provide information that a lender will use to determine whether to approve or deny your submission. Meanwhile, you should be ready to provide a lender with any requested information to ensure a seamless application process.

As a homebuyer, it is your responsibility to include accurate information on your mortgage application. In fact, failure to do so may cause a lender to reject your mortgage application. If you allocate the necessary time and resources to dot every I and cross every T on your mortgage application, you can boost the likelihood of a fast approval.

3. Shop Around

For homebuyers, it is crucial to check out all of the mortgage options that are available. If you meet with a variety of banks and credit unions, you can review myriad mortgage options and select a mortgage that complements your finances.

Banks and credit unions generally provide a broad array of fixed- and adjustable-rate mortgages. If you learn about all of the mortgage options at your disposal, you can find one that enables you to purchase your dream house without breaking your budget.

Of course, once you are approved for a mortgage and are ready to launch your house search, you may want to hire a real estate agent as well. A real estate agent will offer plenty of guidance at each stage of the homebuying journey. In addition, a real estate agent can make it easy for you to find a top-notch residence at a budget-friendly price in any housing market, at any time.

Start the mortgage application process today, and you can move one step closer to acquiring your dream residence.




Tags: Mortgage   Buying a home  
Categories: Buying a Home   Mortgage  




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