Selecting Homeowner’s Insurance

boston homeowners insurance

One of the many things you will have to think about while you are in the process of buying a new home is the insurance you will need to protect it. Homeowner’s insurance is more than just a good idea-it is required by your lender as part of your mortgage contract. You will not be able to close escrow on your home if you do not have an appropriate homeowner’s policy in place.

Homeowner’s insurance protects your home against multiple possible risks, from fire to burglary. A comprehensive homeowner’s insurance policy will provide coverage for your home as well as everything inside it. You will need to make sure you have the right level of coverage for your needs.

Where To Find An Agent

A good place to start shopping for homeowner’s insurance is with your current insurance agent. There is likely to be a discount if you insure both your home and your car with the same company, so it is well worth considering the company that insures your car. If your car insurance company does not handle homeowner’s insurance policies, you can instead ask for referrals from your REALTOR® or your mortgage broker.

The Coverage You Need

A good homeowner’s insurance policy provides enough coverage to rebuild your home from the ground up if necessary, as well as coverage for all of the property inside your home. You should not confuse the replacement cost of your home with the market value; these are two different things, as market value includes the value of the land. Insurance does not cover your land, only the structures on it and the contents of those structures. You insurance company will use the appraisal of your home to determine all of the structural factors that go into determining replacement cost.

The contents coverage is usually a percentage of the replacement cost of the home. You should be aware that certain high value items such as jewelry may require a special coverage called a “floater” added onto the policy in order to cover them for their full value, as there are usually limits on such items in the standard policy. Be prepared to provide an appraisal on high value items.

A good insurance agent can guide you through the process of selecting the right homeowner’s insurance policy for your needs and ensuring your new home is protected properly. Finding someone you can trust is important-after all, this is the biggest purchase you will ever make!

Posted in Mortgages | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Making An Offer: Negotiating Your Buying Price

negotiate boston real estate buying price

There is perhaps no more exciting and nerve-wracking time in the home buying process than when you decide to make an offer on a home. If it is accepted, you will be on your way to owning a new home-if not, you will be forced to make some difficult decisions.

Your REALTOR® will help you get through the process of making an offer on a home. He or she can give you advice on how much to offer and what concessions you will make. But there are a few decisions you will have to make yourself, and be prepared to stick to them.

How High Will You Go?

If your initial offer on the home of your dreams is rejected, the seller will usually come back with a counter offer. In most cases they will ask for a higher purchase price and may refuse some of the items you requested in your initial offer, such as repairs to be done to the home prior to the sale. This is a normal part of negotiations, but especially for first time buyers it can feel like a very frustrating process.

When the counter offer comes back, you will have to decide if the purchase price is one you can live with. Is it within your budget? Is it a fair market price for the home? Your REALTOR® can give you the answer to this second question, but the first is up to you to decide.

What Is Non-Negotiable?

What parts of your offer are you unwilling to back down on? If the house really needs a new roof and you don’t want the expense and hassle of taking care of it yourself, then don’t back down. It might be worth paying a little more in the purchase price with the agreement that the seller will have the roof replaced than to pay less for the house and have to do it yourself.

Decide in advance which items are completely non-negotiable, and stick to your guns. If the seller won’t budge, be prepared to walk away. As hard as it might be to say goodbye to that home you want, you have to be realistic about what you can afford and what work needs doing on the home.

It is very easy to get caught up in the excitement of negotiating and the desire to own that particular home, but try not to let emotions rule your decisions. After all, once you sign those papers and the deal is final, you won’t be able to change your mind.

Posted in Real Estate Negotiations | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Should You Consider A Condominium Or Townhome?

condominium or townhouse in boston massachussetts

If you are buying a new home on a tight budget, one of the options that will come to your attention is purchasing a condominium or townhome instead of a standard single family home. Because most of them share walls, condos and townhomes are more affordable. But before you consider moving into a multi-family complex, consider both the down and the up sides to such a purchase.

The Difference Between A Condo And A Townhome

New buyers may be confused as to the difference between a condo and a townhome. Both are attached homes, where at least one wall is shared between two units. One difference between them is that a townhome does not have any units above or below, only on the sides. Townhomes are usually at least two stories, sometimes three stories. Condos on the other hand are often single story-although not always-and may have units both above and below as in an apartment building.

But the truly important distinction between the two is in the ownership rights of the buyer. Condo owners have rights that extend only to the walls of the unit, while townhomes usually have rights to the land as well. This can become a little complicated in the legal aspects, but that is the basic difference.

Condo Associations

Condos usually have an association, run by the owners in the complex, that helps to take care of the shared areas of the complex and also maintain the standards set out in the rules. The condo association usually handles such things as lawn and garden care, painting of the outside of the building, and roof repair.

Some townhomes may have a similar association as well, called a homeowner’s association. It handles things in much the same manner. Associations require monthly fees, and all owners can take part in the decisions made by the board.

Things To Consider

Condos and townhomes have some potential downsides you should consider. There are often rules about pets, so you may not be able to take your dog or cat with you. You will also find that most such homes lack any sort of real yard, although some townhomes have a small yard. Shared green space is often available, but you will not have the same privacy.

There are also some things about this type of home you might appreciate, such as not having to do the maintenance on the exterior of the house or the yard.

Condo and townhome living is very well suited to some people, and less so to others. Consider all of the aspects when you are thinking of buying this type of home.

Posted in Real Estate Statistics | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

How Much Yard Do You Need?

boston house with big yards for saleYou probably have spent a good deal of time considering how much space you need inside your home, but what about how much space you need on the outside of it? House hunting with an idea of the square footage you are seeking is a good idea, but in addition to that you should have an idea of how much yard space you will need around your new dwelling as well.

Buying a home with a large yard can be costly, especially in sought after areas where a big lot is a major selling point. But if your yard is really important to you, it might be worth the extra expense. Consider how you use your yard and then decide how large you need your outdoor space to be.

How You Use Your Yard

If you don’t use your outdoor space much beyond sitting on the patio and enjoying the weather, you probably don’t need a huge yard. Granted, the feeling of space and privacy is nice in a larger yard, but if it makes your dream home unaffordable, is it really worth it?

On the other hand, if you have children or pets, you may need that extra space. With young kids, you will want to have a good place for outdoor play, setting up a play structure or swing set, or even a play house. If you have big dogs, you will need the room for them to run around and get exercise. A large yard is a requirement for most families with children and pets.

If you host a lot of backyard parties and barbeques, you will want enough space for everyone to spread out with a decent sized deck or patio. In this case the size of the entertainment area is more important than the green space.

Consider The Work Involved

The bigger your yard, the more work you will have to do in order to keep it in good shape. A large lawn means more hours spent cutting the grass, and large gardens mean more time spent weeding and planting. If you can’t keep up the work yourself because you are too busy, you will probably have to consider hiring someone to maintain it for you. This can be expensive, especially for a large yard.

Everyone thinks they want a nice big yard, but it is important to be realistic about what you need and weigh it against the work and cost involved.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Homeowner’s Associations: What You Need To Know

homeowners association in boston

As you begin looking for a home to purchase, you will start to come across houses that have a homeowner’s association. This is an association made up of the people who own homes in the area, created to help maintain certain standards in the community. They set rules and regulations for all kinds of things, from the color you can paint your house to the time you need to turn down the stereo in your backyard.

You will need to decide whether or not you want to live in a neighborhood with an existing homeowner’s association or whether you would rather avoid them. This is, of course, a personal choice, but you should know what homeowner’s associations are all about before you make the call.

Why A Homeowner’s Association?

If you have ever had neighbors who were incredibly loud, let their house get run-down, behaved inappropriately, or any of the long list of things that can make life unpleasant and bring down the value of your home, you know why a homeowner’s association can be helpful. With rules for conduct among neighbors clearly set out, you can be confident that your home’s value won’t be brought down by a pile of old appliances in the neighbor’s yard.

You can also avoid nasty confrontations with your neighbors by simply taking grievances before the homeowner’s association board and letting them handle any rule violations.

Homeowner’s associations also often take care of shared areas in the neighborhood, keeping them available for the use of the families in the association. This many include a park or a pool.

The Cost Of An Association

Every homeowner’s association collects dues monthly or yearly from the people who live in the neighborhood. This money goes toward running the association and taking care of the shared spaces. You will be informed of this amount before you buy, and should factor it into your monthly budget.

There is another cost to belonging to a homeowner’s association, and that is a little bit of your freedom. When you live in an association area, you will have to abide by the rules as well, even if you think they are silly. You do, however, have the option of petitioning the homeowner’s association to change any rule you don’t agree with. But if you lose, you will have to live with it.

There are both good and bad sides to having a homeowner’s association. For those who prefer living in a more controlled environment, they are a great choice. For those who want to be free to do as they want on their property, the constraints might not be appreciated.

Posted in Areas and Neighborhoods | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Finding A Neighborhood With Great Schools

houses in boston near schools

If you have children, or even if you don’t yet but plan to in the future, schools are something you will need to take into consideration when you search for a new home. In most areas, certain boundaries define which schools your children will go to, and switching to a different school can be complicated and expensive in many cases.

Fortunately, finding a great neighborhood with good quality schools is not difficult, thanks to the internet. Online ratings and reviews of schools can help you to make the right call when it comes to finding a home that will offer your children a quality education.

Start With The District

The first thing you should look into is which school district you are considering moving into. Find out if the schools in that district tend to be highly rated, and what kind of test scores are generally seen among students in the district schools. All of this information is readily available online.

The school district Web site will be able to tell you which school your children would go to if you were to buy a particular house. There is usually a boundary map you can check, or you can enter your address and search to find out which school is the right one.

Check The Reviews

The internet allows people to review everything from appliances to doctors-and schools are no exception. Search for your school of choice online and you will find plenty of reviews from parents whose children have attended the school. Getting an unbiased opinion of the school will help you to get an idea of what you can expect.

When You Love The Neighborhood, But Not The School

If you really want a particular house in a particular neighborhood, but aren’t too happy with the schools, you can look into your other options. Most school districts have a system by which you can choose to send your child to a different school. This usually involves either particular needs that can’t be met by the in-area school, or a fee or lottery system to allow your child to attend the school of your choice. Find out what the rules are in your school district.

Your other option is to look into private schools. This is, of course, the more expensive choice, but should you select a private school you will have the freedom to live wherever you like, without worrying about what school your child will be slotted to attend.

Posted in Areas and Neighborhoods | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Examining A Home Objectively: What Matters And What Doesn’t

the best boston home inspectors

Everyone heads out to look at potential homes with a list of the things they want in a house, and a list of the things they definitely do not want. In addition to that wish list, there are also some other things you will notice about the homes you visit that may strike you as potential problems.

When looking at homes, it is important to know what things are deal breakers and what things are minor issues that you can deal with easily. Turning down a dream home because of something that is an easy fix seems like a silly thing to do, but it happens surprisingly frequently.

Cosmetic Issues

You walk into a home and it has terrible wallpaper or paint colors you wouldn’t dream of using, and it turns you off immediately. While the gut reaction is normal, it is important to step back from that instinct and think about it objectively. Painting is not particularly difficult or expensive, so try to imagine how the home would look with a different color palette, one that is more your style.

The ability to recognize which issues are merely cosmetic and can be easily fixed is an important key to finding a house you will love. Be prepared to visualize the home as you could make it with a few cosmetic changes. It will open you up to the possibilities and might allow you to consider homes that aren’t perfect the way they stand now, but could be just right with a little elbow grease and paint.

Major Repairs

In some cases the major repairs that a house needs might be obvious. In other cases they might only be unearthed during a home inspection. Either way, you will need to give serious consideration to whether or not you are willing to deal with the problem.

If the home needs expensive repairs, you can either try to get the seller to do the repairs or accept that you will need to do them yourself. In most cases, the seller will probably not be willing to take on major repair work, but might reduce the price accordingly. Still, this might be a deal breaker if you are seeking a turnkey home.

Knowing The Difference

A home inspection is the best way to uncover all of the issues, both minor and major, that a house might have. When you review the inspection, look for things that can be easily fixed as well as those that can’t. The amount of work you want to do on your home will determine what problems you can personally live with.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Choosing A REALTOR® You Can Trust

the best and the most trusted real estate agents in boston

When it comes to shopping for a home, especially if you are buying for the first time, having an agent on your side is extremely helpful. But if you have never bought a house before, you may have no idea where to begin finding a REALTOR® that you can really trust to help you with this important decision.

If you open the phone book you will see a long list of names, and very little help to figure out which one to call. There are a few ways you can narrow down the field of real estate agents to find someone you can trust.

Ask Your Friends And Family

To find a real estate agent you can trust, start with the people you trust-your family and friends. Of course, the best people to ask are those who have bought a home recently, as the experience they had will still be fresh in their memory. Ask them how happy they were with the service they received, and if they would recommend you hire the same agent.

Ask Others In The Field

Another source of good referrals is through some of the people you may know who work in related fields, such as mortgage brokers and insurance agents. They often know many different agents and work with them regularly. Ask them to provide you with a few names of the people they would trust most with their own home-buying process.

Meet With The Possible Agents

When you have created a short list of possible agents to hire, call a few of them and make an appointment. Sit down and discuss your home buying plans with them. Ask them about what sort of services they provide as well as things like their commission structure. Treat this interview the same way you would in hiring any other professional to handle important business for you. A good REALTOR® will be happy to answer your questions openly and honestly.

Take the time to meet with several agents before you decide who you would like to represent your interests. That way you can compare the different experiences and see who you feel most comfortable with. The agent’s experiences in real estate, their dedication to their clients and, of course, the rapport you develop with them are all important considerations. Remember, you are looking for someone you can really trust.

Your REALTOR® is your home-buying partner and needs to be someone who is there for you and knows all the ins and outs of home buying. Take your time and choose the right person for the job.

Posted in Service Providers | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

A Nice Home Or A Nice Neighborhood: Which Matters More?

best boston massachussetts neighborhood

When you start shopping for a home, you probably have a very specific image of what you would like that home to look like. You probably also see the perfect neighborhood surrounding that perfect home. Every buyer sets out with an image of the house they want to own, but in reality compromises are often necessary in order to stay within your budget.

Compromising On The House

There may be certain things that are non-negotiable when it comes to your new home, such as the number of bedrooms or a two-car garage. But as you take a look at the homes that are within your budget, you may discover that it is not likely you will get everything on your wish list. But the great thing about owning a home is that you have the power to remodel it at any time. Once you are in your new home, you can renovate or even add on if necessary to create the home you really want. And if you have managed to stay below your budget, you will even have the extra money each month to make some of those changes.

Compromising On The Neighborhood

So you’ve found the house of your dreams, but the neighborhood isn’t precisely what you were hoping for. Too much traffic, some houses that are becoming run down, or many other issues can mar the area your house is in. In most cases, you will have to accept that you cannot change the neighborhood, and this means that you have to decide if the problems are things you can live with or not.

In some cases, buying in a run-down neighborhood can be a strategic move. If many people are buying up the houses and improving them, then your home might one day be worth a lot more. However, you must realize that this is a risk and it might not work out that way.

Another thing to bear in mind is that if you choose to buy the nicest house in the neighborhood, you may have trouble selling it down the line. If other houses in the area are available for less, why would anyone buy your expensive house to get into the area?

So Which Matters More?

In the long run, when it comes down to choosing between the right house and the right neighborhood, you should choose the right neighborhood. While you can change your house for the better, you can’t count on your neighborhood changing; in fact, it might get worse. So choose the best neighborhood you can afford even if the house there isn’t perfect.

Posted in Areas and Neighborhoods | Tagged | Leave a comment

What To Consider Before Buying An Older Property

consider buying older propertyWhether it’s the character and charm of an older home with its original features, hardwood floors, and wood burning fireplace, or the quaint historic feel of the neighborhood in which it is found, there is a certain appeal to older property. But purchasing an older home may involve additional work and costs that a newer home may not. With a little research and preparation, however, you may find that purchasing an older property may be the right decision for you. Here are a few things to consider before making an offer on an older home.

Age Of The Home

Depending on where you live, an older home can mean 30 years to 300 years. Naturally, this is the first point to consider when deciding whether an older home is right for you. The age of the home, the foundation, and the roof can make a big difference in the type of maintenance it will require, how frequently things may need to be replaced, and the difficulty and expense of replacing them. You will also want to know what kinds of materials were used in the construction of the home.

Age Of The Features

Older homes can sometimes have very old features and appliances lurking within them. Be sure you consider whether or not you will have to replace the kitchen appliances, and be sure to ask when features such as the furnace were last replaced. The age of the home you are looking to purchase may also mean that your decoration budget will have to include costs that you might not have originally anticipated.

Importance Of Home Inspection

The importance of getting a home inspection cannot be understated when purchasing any home, but when in the market for an older home this is a step that should also be done with the utmost care and by a true professional. A home inspection can find problems that are more common in older homes, such as electrical and plumbing issues.

Knowing what you are getting yourself in for when purchasing an older property can make all the difference in finding a home that is right for you. Older homes can certainly be a rewarding purchase, and if you recognize the maintenance costs and any potential renovation costs you will be prepared to make your new house a home.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , | Leave a comment