Gregory Murphy & Cathy Ferrone - WEICHERT, REALTORS® - Briarwood Real Estate



Posted by Gregory Murphy & Cathy Ferrone on 7/6/2017

Becoming a home owner for the first time is an exciting milestone for Millennials! Going from renting an apartment to owning your own property represents a big transition from dependency to independence.

For many people, it even symbolizes making the leap from childhood to adulthood. Once you're a homeowner and a property taxpayer, there's often a newfound feeling of being more established and successful.

While home ownership may bestow upon you a boost in status, the added responsibility of paying for your own repairs, maintenance, and upkeep can take an unexpected toll on your budget. With a little extra planning, however, you can avoid many of the pitfalls of home ownership.

Looking at the Big Picture

Here's a misconception that sometimes creates a financial strain for first-time homeowners: "If we can afford to pay $1800 in rent, every month, then we should be able to afford monthly mortgage payments in that same amount!" While that premise may sound logical, there are a few crucial "missing pieces" from that equation -- pieces which could throw your household budget out of kilter!

In addition to the costs associated with purchasing real estate, such as a down payment and closing costs, there's also the matter of home repairs and property maintenance. Depending on where you decide to live, there could be other fees to absorb, too, including garbage collection, yard waste removal, and water usage. Other expenses that first-time homeowners may overlook include the cost of buying a lawnmower, a snow blower, yard maintenance supplies, tools, and furniture. That's why creating a detailed estimated budget, based on your income, debts, and anticipated expenses can help you determine whether you're truly ready to take the plunge into homeownership.

Enlisting Professional Help

A mortgage broker or bank loan officer can provide you with assistance in calculating your financial readiness for purchasing a home. A good real estate agent can also offer insights and guidance into the process of finding, buying, and owning a house you can comfortably afford. They should be able to provide you with vital information about school taxes, property taxes, average utility bills, homeowner association fees (if any), and any issues revealed in the seller's disclosure form.

One way to avoid -- or at least be prepared for -- costs that often accompany home ownership is to have a qualified property inspector take a close look at the condition of everything in the house from the basement and attic to major appliances and structural features. They can generally tell you whether there are any concerns about mechanical systems, water in the basement, foundation damage, issues with property drainage, the electrical system, potential plumbing problems, and dozens of other vital checkpoints

Whether you're a first-time house hunter or a seasoned homeowner, it pays to understand, anticipate, and budget for the many costs of being a property owner. While owning your own home can be a rewarding and satisfying experience, a guiding principle to keep in mind as you consider available homes on the market is "caveat emptor" (Let the buyer beware)!




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Posted by Gregory Murphy & Cathy Ferrone on 3/23/2017

When you’re searching for a home, perhaps the price of the house isn’t as important as the overall affordability of the neighborhood itself. While you have a long wish list of what you want for your property, if you search by neighborhood in order to help you fit your budget, your search may be much easier and help you turn up with a more affordable house.


Look At The Price


This seems obvious, but we mean that you should go a bit deeper. The list price of a home and reality could be two very different things. A house could be underpriced or overpriced based on the surrounding properties in the neighborhood. If you do a little research, you’ll be able to see what the going price for similar style homes is in the area and make a judgement based on that information. 


Don’t Stick To One Neighborhood


You should take a peek around and look outside of the certain neighborhood that you find to be the most desirable. If you look just a few streets away, you could find out that the prices are better and the benefits of the area are the same. 


You’ll choose your neighborhood based on what you’re looking for in your lifestyle. If you prefer to go out to eat, you’ll need to know what types of restaurants are nearby. If you like to walk in the park, being close to parks and recreation is of course important to you. 


Know The Phrase Up-And-Coming


This description of a neighborhood can sometimes seem like a bit of a reach, but many times it turns out to be true. Once undesirable neighborhoods may become the place people want to be after a certain amount of time. The problem with this is that no one can be sure as to exactly how long this will take. Potential warnings for properties described as being in an up-and-coming neighborhood would be:


  • There’s low sales in the area
  • The value of the properties has actually been decreasing
  • There’s little access to grocery stores, restaurants, and entertainment


Overall, use your judgement when it comes to what’s described as a neighborhood waiting to be gentrified. You could buy your own piece of gold, or you could be on the search for a dud.


Check Your Commute Times


Match the cost of different homes that you’re looking at with the reality of the commute times that you and your family are facing. How far are the kids from school? Will you be closer to work? Will it cost you more to get to and from work in the new location? While your commute costs aren’t exactly directly correlated with real estate, it’s definitely a part of your regular budget. You also don’t want to add a lot of time to your work commute if you can help it. 


These tips should help you to make an informed decision about what neighborhood to buy a home in that will be the most cost-effective for you.





Posted by Gregory Murphy & Cathy Ferrone on 3/16/2017

real estate shopping onlineSellers beware! Most sellers realize there will be a bit of negotiation once an Offer to Purchase is made on their property. Sellers may receive an offer that is lower than what their property is listed at. In this case it is common for the seller to counter that offer, the counter to be accepted or denied at the discretion of the potential buyer. Due to the anticipated negotiation process, it may seem like it would make sense to put your house into MLS at a value far over the value that you understand your property is worth. Sellers feel that if their end game is receiving X amount of money for their house, if they list it at X+15, and after negotiations accept their originally desired amount of X, it seems like they participated willingly in negotiations and accepted below asking price for the sake of the buyer. This idea is good in theory, but does not actually work to the benefit of the seller for the following reason: Listing your house at the exact price you're looking to receive allows for maximum exposure potential via MLS. In order to search for a listing on MLS, you must enter a minimum and maximum price range. Buyers seeking homes at your desired price of X will not see your listing in their MLS search because of the additional 15 you've added to your listing price. Their search will be cut short at X and as a seller, you will lose potential buyers. For more information on allowing for maximum exposure potential for your property please contact me!





Posted by Gregory Murphy & Cathy Ferrone on 2/2/2017

Buying a home is a complicated process with a lot of opportunities to make costly mistakes. There’s no high school class to prepare you for buying a home but there probably should be. If you’re a first time homebuyer and you came across this article looking for advice, congratulations--you’re already doing the most important thing you can when making a big financial decision: the research.

In this article, we’ll cover some of the most common mistakes that first time homebuyers make when entering the real estate market. We’ll break it down by the three main phases of home-buying: saving for a home, hunting for a home, and signing a mortgage.

Saving for a home

One of the first lessons that all first time homeowners quickly learn is that being able to afford your monthly mortgage payments doesn’t mean you can afford a home. Many first time buyers are often coming from living situations where certain utilities are included (water, heat, electricity, etc.). Aside from those obvious expenses, there are also things like property tax and home insurance to budget for, both of which may increase. Finally, when you’re living in an apartment and your faucet breaks, you simply call the landlord. When you own a home, especially an older home, be prepared to spend on repairs and to start learning basic maintenance skills that will save you money.

The hunt for your first home

Now that you’re aware of the costs, it might be tempting to jump in and start looking at homes. Another common mistake first time homebuyers make is to waste time looking at homes before they’ve met with a real estate agent or have gotten pre-approved for a loan. Start there, then once you know the scope of your home search, you’ll have a much more relaxing hunt for your new home.

Another mistake that first time homebuyers make is to underestimate the time and commitment it takes to find a home. When you work with a real estate agent, make sure you are available at all times. Keep your phone nearby, stick to your schedule for viewing homes, and keep a list of each home you’re considering. Showing initiative and dedication won’t just help you stay organized, it will also show your agent and the home seller that you are worth their time.

Mortgage mistakes

One of the most common mistakes that buyers make when it comes to their mortgage is to fail to shop around for a lender. In fact, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau found that only half of all buyers considered more than one lender for their home.

Buyers, first time and repeat, often think their credit report is set in stone. What they don’t realize is that the three main credit Bureaus (Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion) can all make mistakes on your credit. Check your detailed credit reports and fix any errors long before applying for a mortgage to increase your chances of getting a good rate.

If you avoid these common mistakes and continue to do your research along the way, you should be able to save yourself some headaches and some money in the long term.




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Posted by Gregory Murphy & Cathy Ferrone on 11/24/2016

Are you a Millennial who is interested in buying a home? If so, now may be an excellent time to purchase a house. Millennials who understand the ins and outs of buying a house will be better equipped to make a great home purchase. So what should a Millennial look for in a new house? Here are three factors that every Millennial should consider when they evaluate a house: 1. Location Location is everything in the real estate market, and Millennials who consider a house's location relative to their personal needs are sure to find a wonderful house. For instance, if you don't own a car, you may want to consider purchasing a house that is located near public transportation. Conversely, if you want your home to be a haven from the hustle and bustle of your day-to-day office work, you may want to consider buying a house outside the busy city. Examine the location of a prospective residence during the home evaluation process. By doing so, you'll improve your chances of finding a home that fulfills your personal needs both now and in the future. 2. Price A home is a long-term investment, and as such, you'll need to consider the house's price before you begin your search for the perfect residence. Getting pre-approved for a mortgage generally is a good idea before you start looking at homes. Pre-approval means you'll be able to establish a homebuying budget and determine the maximum amount that you can spend on a house. Also, you should examine your personal finances closely prior to your home search. This may allow you to find ways to save extra money for a down payment on a house and explore other cost-cutting measures to ensure you have enough money to afford a new residence. 3. Debt Unfortunately, debt plagues many Millennials and can destroy your chances of purchasing a house quickly and easily. As a result, you'll want to examine your debt and find ways to reduce it before you buy a house. To minimize debt, you'll first need to know your credit score. Fortunately, you're eligible for a free copy of your credit report from each of the three major credit reporting bureaus (Experian, Equifax and TransUnion) at least once a year. Get a copy of your credit report so you know your credit score. Then, you can review the sources of your debt and work toward paying off outstanding credit card bills and other debt that may hinder your ability to purchase your ideal residence. Of course, buying a house can be a stressful endeavor for Millennials. And if you need extra help along the way, it is essential to remember that you can employ a friendly, experienced real estate agent. A real estate agent enables you to take the guesswork out of the homebuying process, and ultimately, may make it simple for you to find a house that fits your personal needs and budget. With the right real estate agent at your side, you'll be able to streamline the process of buying a house and discover a residence that suits you perfectly.




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