The St. Martin Team - Westford MA Real Estate
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Posted by St. Martin Team on 12/13/2018

Let's face it Ė there is no shortage of buyers competing for the top residences. However, there are many things you can do to rise above the homebuying competition, and these include:

1. Review the Local Housing Market

The housing market fluctuates. In some instances, the housing market may favor buyers. Or, in other cases, it may favor sellers.

If you analyze the local housing market closely, you can differentiate a buyer's market from a seller's market. You then can map out your homebuying journey accordingly.

To distinguish a buyer's market from a seller's market, you may want to look at available houses in your city or town. If homes are selling just days after they become available, a seller's market may be in place. Comparatively, if houses linger on the real estate market for an extended period of time, the real estate sector likely favors buyers.

2. Get Pre-Approved for a Mortgage

With pre-approval for a mortgage, you will know how much you can spend on a house. Then, you can narrow your house search to residences that fall within your price range.

To get pre-approved for a mortgage, you should meet with a variety of lenders. These financial institutions can teach you about many mortgage options and help you choose home financing that suits you perfectly.

Of course, selecting a mortgage can be difficult, regardless of whether you are a first-time or experienced homebuyer. But if you ask mortgage questions and perform a comprehensive home financing analysis, you can choose the right mortgage without delay.

3. Establish Homebuying Criteria

Homebuying criteria is a must, particularly for those who want to seamlessly navigate the property buying journey. Because if you enter the real estate market with homebuying criteria in hand, you can speed up the process of finding your dream residence.

As you craft homebuying criteria, you should try to define your dream house. Think about the features you want to find in a home. You next can include these features as "must-haves" on your list of homebuying criteria.

In addition, consider where you want to reside. If you hone your house search to residences in a select group of cities and towns, you may be able to quickly discover a great home that you can enjoy for years to come.

For those who require extra help during the homebuying journey, you may want to hire a real estate agent, too. In fact, with a real estate agent at your side, you can receive in-depth assistance as you pursue your ideal house.

A real estate agent understands what it takes to navigate any housing market, at any time. He or she will help you search for residences that match your expectations. Plus, if you have any homebuying concerns, a real estate agent will address them right away.

Gain a competitive advantage over rival homebuyers Ė use the aforementioned tips, and you accelerate the process of finding and purchasing your dream residence.




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Posted by St. Martin Team on 12/6/2018

Buying your first home is a big decision; one that involves a lengthy process of saving money, building credit, and planning the next phase of your life. However, owning a home comes with one major payoff: home equity.

Simply put, home equity is the amount of your home that youíve paid off. However, it does get more complicated when we bring in factors like the market value of your home and how it shifts over the years.

In this article, weíll discuss home equity and what it means for you as a homeowner. This way, youíll have a better idea of what to expect when you finally make that last payment on your home or when you decide to sell.

Home equity and market value

As I mentioned earlier, home equity is more than just the amount youíve paid toward your mortgage. Like most markets, the housing market shifts over time.

Most homes slowly increase in value over time. In the real estate world, this increase in value is called appreciation.

However, that doesnít mean that your home is simply going to increase in value indefinitely until you decide to sell. As you will find out (if you havenít yet already), owning a home can be expensive. Houses age and require upgrades. If you fail to keep up with the maintenance of your home, its value can diminish.

How to build equity

The most important thing you can do to build equity is to make on-time payments to your mortgage. Making extra mortgage payments will help you build equity even faster.

One method of paying extra on your mortgage that many people are adopting is to make bi-weekly payments. Twenty-six bi-weekly payments comes out to 13 full payments per year, the equivalent of making one full extra monthly payment.

The second method of building equity is something that you have less control over: appreciation. However, if you stick to a maintenance schedule for your home and keep it in good repair, youíll most likely benefit from appreciation over the lifespan of your mortgage.

What can I use home equity for?

The most common way to use home equity is as a down payment or full payment on your next home. First-time buyers who donít have a 20% down payment saved often buy a starter home and then later upgrade as their family grows and their needs change. In the years that they own their first home, they build enough equity to make a full down payment on their second home, avoiding fees like mortgage insurance.

Many homeowners planning on retiring in the near future use their equity toward their retirement home, often turning a profit in the process. If you plan on downgrading for retirement and have fully paid off your mortgage, you can often use your equity to pay for your next home in cash.





Posted by St. Martin Team on 11/29/2018

If you recently bought a house, you likely will need to purchase chairs, couches and other furniture for your residence. Luckily, we're here to help you streamline the process of discovering the right furniture, at the right price.

Now, let's take a look at three tips to help you find the right furniture for your residence.

1. Consider the Size of Your Home

Take close measurements of your house before you purchase any furniture Ė you'll be glad you did. Because if you fail to measure properly, you risk buying furniture that might not fit inside your house.

Also, it is important to account for the weight of furniture. If you consider the weight of furniture prior to purchase, you can ensure that you'll be able to carry this furniture into your house. Or, if you cannot lift furniture on your own, you can reach out to family members or friends for assistance.

2. Visit Several Furniture Stores

Dozens of furniture retailers are located in cities and towns nationwide. As such, if you shop around, you should have no trouble finding furniture that matches or exceeds your expectations.

Take a look at furniture from several furniture stores. That way, you can consider a variety of furniture for your kitchen, living room and other areas of your residence.

In addition, don't forget to ask a furniture store about delivery. If you can get a furniture store to bring benches, sofas and other furniture to your house, you won't have to worry about transporting these items to your residence.

3. Consider Pre-Owned Furniture

Sometimes, furniture stores will provide pre-owned furniture at a fraction of the cost of brand-new items. It often pays to check out pre-owned dining room sets, patio chairs and other furniture, as these items may help you furnish your house without breaking your budget.

It may be beneficial to search for furniture at yard sales too. These events may allow you to discover top-notch furniture at bargain-basement prices.

Furthermore, Craigslist and other online marketplaces can make it simple to assess myriad furniture options. And if you find furniture that you like, you can contact the seller and set up a date and time to evaluate it in-person.

Furniture shopping may prove to be time-consuming and costly, particularly for those who are already in the process of packing and moving to a new residence. Fortunately, if you collaborate with a real estate agent, you may be able to speed up the process of finding deluxe furniture.

A real estate agent will go above and beyond the call of duty to help you find a terrific residence. He or she also can help you negotiate with a seller, and in some instances, may be able to convince a seller to include his or her furniture in a home transaction.

Take the guesswork out of furnishing your house Ė use the aforementioned tips, and you can move one step closer to acquiring top-notch furniture that complements your personal style.




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Posted by St. Martin Team on 11/22/2018

For better or for worse, the kitchen is the most fragrant area of the house. Itís where we cook and store our food, but itís also where we throw away our garbage.

 In this winter months, people do most of their cooking indoors, which can lead to an increase in grease splatter. In the summer, the high temperatures in the kitchen can cause garbage to smell and fruit to become overripe more quickly.

 Regardless of the time of year, we can all use some help when it comes to reducing kitchen odors. In this article, weíll give you some advice on how to do just that.

 Read on for tips on eliminating odors in your kitchen.

Air quality

The odors in your kitchen, both the good and the bad, come in the form of tiny particles floating in the air. So, it follows that one of the ways to remove lingering odors would be to remove them from the air in your kitchen.

One way to do this is with the use of an air purifier. These appliances come in a number of different sizes and can vary in price from under $100 to several hundreds of dollars. Depending on the size and layout of your home, youíll want to search for a purifier that can safely handle the number of square feet that youíll need to purify.

One benefit of using an air purifier is that it can also help you remove dust and other allergies from the air while removing unpleasant odors. However, keep in mind that most air purifiers run 24/7, so expect a few extra dollars added to your electric bill each month.

Cooking surfaces

One of the most common causes of kitchen odors are the surfaces of your counters, oven, and appliances. There are a few ways to handle this problem, but the best solution is to take preemptive measures.

When cooking items with grease, oil or butter, use a splatter screen. This will help you keep most of the grease inside the pan and off your surfaces where they will later emit a smell.

Itís important to frequently wipe down surfaces in your kitchen and clean them with a degreaser. If you donít have kitchen tile or some other form of easy to clean surface around your cooking surfaces, consider installing one.

Dishes and garbage

We get it, after working all day, cooking dinner, and finally sitting down to relax no one wants to clean dishes. However, leaving dishes in the sink is one of the leading causes of kitchen odors. This is also true for people who donít run their dishwasher frequently.

Speaking of dishwashers, be sure to check the drain at the bottom for debris, which can cause your dishwasher to smell badly.

When it comes to garbage, itís often better to have a small garbage can that you empty more frequently than a larger one that will start to smell. Try to find a smaller can that has a cover, and consider scented bags to help mask any odors that do find their way out of the garbage can.




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Posted by St. Martin Team on 11/15/2018

Understanding how much your home is worth is important for a number of reasons. For one, when you go to sell your home, youíll have an idea of how much equity that youíre working with. You may need to either refinance your home, take out a loan, or line of credit. Knowing the current market value of your home can give you a good idea of your finances and what to expect. Many people believe that their home is worth more than it actually is. In reality, your home is only worth what people will actually pay for the property in a certain time frame. 


Some websites offer basic ideas of how much your home is worth. You can also use the Internet to search for comparable properties and see what has been sold, how much it has been sold for, and how much other homes that are similar to yours in the neighborhood are worth. Youíll need to be sure that the comparing properties include the same types of features as your own home in order to get a good estimate. 


Consult A Realtor


Experienced realtors in your area are great resources for helping you to determine your propertyís value. Many agencies offer free market value analyses, which can help you to see where your home would fall in the current real estate market. Realtors donít get paid unless your home sells. They can use their many resources to work with you on the sale of your home and help you to price it appropriately.


Hire An Appraiser


If you want to dig a bit deeper in the pricing of your home, youíll need to shell out a bit of cash. You could hire a certified appraiser who will dig deep into your property to determine the value. Once you find a buyer, another appraisal will happen on the property. The buyer pays for this. If you really want a good idea of how much your home is worth, hiring an appraiser beforehand is key. Keep in mind that appraisers may come up with slightly different estimates for the same home.      


Know The Key Things That Affect Home Value


There are a few big factors that influence just how much your property is worth. While you may love your big kitchen, it goes a lot further than that. Factors that contribute to how much your property is worth include:


  • The amount of land that you have
  • The neighborhood your home is in
  • The schools your home is near
  • How many square feet your property is
  • The condition of your home
  • Any updates that have been made to the home
  • The types of appliances you have
  • Has the home ever been foreclosed on? 
  • Is your home energy efficient?


Based on all of this information, youíll be able to get a good idea of what your home is worth. Beware of things that can cause a major financial setback on your homeís value like an urgent need for roof replacement, dated windows, or an unknown crack in the foundation. Getting an idea of what your home is worth is a great way to keep on top of your own assets whether youíre prepared to sell or just curious about numbers.




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