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



Posted by Gregory Murphy & Cathy Ferrone on 5/23/2019

Buying a new home can be an exciting but anxiety-inducing experience. With so many things to consider, it can be difficult to keep track of the things that matter most to you.

This process is complicated further when you discover a second or third home that you like as much as the first and you’re trying to decide which one to make an offer on.

In today’s post, we’re going to talk about how you can effectively compare houses to ensure that you’re making the most sensible, long-term decision for you and your family.

It’s all about the spreadsheet

Today, our method isn’t going to rely on any fancy new apps or paid tools. Everything you need to accomplish your spreadsheet is a tool like Google Sheets (it’s like a free version of Excel) or a simple pencil and notebook.

The columns of your spreadsheet will be made up of the factors that will influence your decision. This will include the obvious details like the cost and square footage of the home, but also finer details like its proximity to key places in your life.

The rows of your spreadsheet will be the properties you’re comparing. Now, it may be tempting to start listing every house on your radar in the columns of your spreadsheet. However, I think it’s more time-effective to only include the homes that you’re likely to make an offer on. This means doing some hard thinking and having a conversation with your family about your realistic goals for buying a home.

What is most important to you in a home and neighborhood?

Let’s turn our attention back to the top row of your spreadsheet. We want to fill that section with around 10 factors that are most important to you in a home and the location the home will be in.

In this section, you can include the estimated cost of the home and the estimated monthly expenses for owning that home (utilities, taxes, etc.).

Here’s the secret weapon of our spreadsheet, however. Rather than listing the actual cost of the home in this row, we’re going to give it a rank of 1 to 5. A score of 1 means the house is a lot more expensive than you want. A score of 5 means the house is the ideal cost. A 3 would be somewhere in the middle.

We’re going to use this 1 to 5 ranking system for all other factors on our spreadsheet as well.

Next to these costs, you’ll want to add other important factors to your home buying decision. Does it have the number of rooms you’re looking for? If a backyard is important to you, does it provide for that need?

In terms of upgrades, how much work will you have to do on the home to make it something you’re satisfied with? For DIY-minded people with time to spare, home improvement might be a welcome concept. For others, it simply would take too much time to accomplish everything you want. So, when you fill out the “Upgrades” column of your spreadsheet, make sure you determine a system for ranking the homes that suits your needs.

House location shouldn’t be overlooked

It’s a sad truth, but in today’s busy world, the average homeowner spends most of their time away from home, whether they’re at work, commuting, or bring their kids to and from after school activities.

You’ll want at least one column on your spreadsheet to be devoted to location. When ranking the location of a home, consider things like commuting time, distance to schools, hospitals, parks, and grocery stores. All of these things will have a larger impact on your day-to-day life than small details of the house itself.

Ranking the homes

Now that you have the first row and column of your spreadsheet built, it’s time to fill in the details and tally up the totals. These numbers will help inform your decision as to which house is really right for you.




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Posted by Gregory Murphy & Cathy Ferrone on 4/4/2019

One of the most famous books around, with over 18 million copies in print, and that holds the title as the longest running "New York Times" bestseller ever, is What to Expect When You’re Expecting. Now in its fifth edition, this pregnancy bible walks parents through what to expect during the nine months leading up to and including delivery.

Buying a home is nearly as momentous as having a baby, and yet, most potential buyers don’t really know what to expect when closing on their home purchase. In fact, knowing what to expect is even more urgent because closing happens in a much shorter time-frame, in as little as 12 days in some cases.

So, what should you expect?

The one part those home-buying reality shows leave out is the closing. So, to many buyers, it remains a mystery until they're in the middle of it. Even real estate professionals get nervous about closing. It's the moment where anything can go wrong, and everything can go right! It begins with mountains of papers to sign and ends with a handful of keys in exchange for a lot of money. So just what is closing and what should you expect?

“Closing” is short for closing the deal or completing the transaction. During closing several significant things happen: Title of your home transfers from the seller to the buyer; the proceeds of the sale (everything remaining after any seller’s fees are paid) distribute to the seller; and if financing the home, the buyer signs the mortgage note, pays fees, insurances, taxes, and real estate commissions. A lot of things happen at closing, so give yourself plenty of time to understand each aspect of the process if it’s your first time around.

At the time of closing, your agent and your loan officer will inform you about what you need to bring to the meeting. Bring identification, so have your driver’s license or passport on hand. You’ll need a cashier’s check for your down payment and the closing costs that appear on your HUD-1 Settlement Statement. This three-page document outlines exactly what your obligations are at closing and in the future. In addition, small items crop up at closing that might need additional funds (furniture you requested the seller leave behind, extra propane or heating oil you're buying directly from the seller) and last-minute requests. 

You'll be signing lots of papers. These legal documents obligate you for many years to come, so make sure you understand them. Also, make certain your name is spelled correctly on every page and every addendum. If you're purchasing with a partner or spouse, make sure the legal designation is as you want it. Changing it later may be difficult.

Recognize that while you may have a close estimate of closing costs, you will not know the exact amount until the day of closing, so round up a bit and have extra funds on hand. Sometimes you can swing a deal for the seller to pay all closing costs, but you’ll still be liable for pro-rated taxes, association dues, insurance, and other buyer obligations.

Don't be surprised by fees. Ask your agent to go over all the charges with you so that you know which ones you pay for and which ones the seller pays for.




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Posted by Gregory Murphy & Cathy Ferrone on 2/28/2019

Buying or selling a house is one of the most significant financial transactions because in most cases, it involves spending a considerable amount of money. Getting the best possible deal is important to make sure that you are getting value for your money and not overspending unnecessarily.

To negotiate a better arrangement when purchasing a house, you need a good strategy, and you must know how to motivate and negotiate with all the parties involved in the transaction. Here are some tips that will place you in the right position to negotiate favorable terms:

Research the market 

It is impossible to know the worth of property without carrying out appropriate market research. It is essential that you inspect similar properties in that vicinity and compare them. Also, you should be familiar with the selling price of similar properties in the past few months and know the trends of the property market in your area. 

Dealing with the seller's real estate agents

You should be apprised of the fact the seller's real agents work for a seller and not for you. An agent's job is to get the best deal for the seller; therefore, they might employ a tricky tactic to make you pay more. Do not be pressured to offer more than what you are comfortable with and don't disclose too much information as regards your emotional attachment to the property and your budget.

Make use of a buyer’s agent 

A buyer's agent is in the best position to find you the right property. Not only that, they will represent you all through the negotiation deal. A buyer's agent will help you examine different properties and negotiate on your behalf. Another advantage of using a buyer's agent is that you will have access to locations that are not in the market. You can find these off-the-market properties through the agent's industry network.

Research the property 

To evaluate the value and know how much to offer for a property, you must take a closer look at the features as well as the downsides of the property. Also, you must know why the property is on sale. 

Do not exceed your budget 

The initial thing you need to do before you start looking for a house to buy work hand in hand with an accountant and a financial to work out your budget. Speaking with a mortgage broker is also a good idea as it will help you know how much you can borrow. Try to adhere strictly to your budget irrespective of the pressure faced.





Posted by Gregory Murphy & Cathy Ferrone on 2/14/2019

Buying a new home is a big decision and one that many wonder if they are truly ready for.

Use this guide to determine if you are ready to start house hunting:

  1. Thirty percent of your income can cover a mortgage payment for your ideal home

The ability to afford month to month payments is incredibly important. Staying within the recommended percentages when it comes to budgeting helps you failsafe your finances from potential future hardship. At the very least you want your mortgage payment to be as close as possible to the thirty percent marker of your income.

  1. You’re in a secure job.

In addition to having an income that can sufficiently support the month to month payments you also want to ensure that that income is a reliable source. Signs of a reliable income are that you have been with your current company for longer than two years with several months at the same pay rate.

  1. You have a great credit score

This one shouldn’t come as any surprise to you. A great credit score will not just increase your eligibility for financing but also for a great interest rate. If your score falls in the “good” region you can take steps to bring up your score fairly quickly, as far as scores go,  before applying.

  1. You have a down payment saved up

A down payment is a big savings goal to tackle. So if you’ve already done the math and saved up a sizeable sum for the downpayment on your dream house you are most certainly ready! Ideally, this amount should be around twenty percent of the sale price.

  1. You’ve prepared a prospective budget

If you already have a down payment saved you at the very least have part of this step taken care of! Knowing your future homeowners budget doesn’t just include your typical expenses plus a mortgage payment. You also want to factor in homeowners insurance, potential HOA (Homeowner Association) fees, and maintenance costs.

  1. You’re ready to build equity - or it’s your next financial goal

For those scratching their heads, equity is the amount of your home that you actually own. This is the ratio between your homes value, the amount you have paid and the amount you owe. As you continue to make payments on your home your equity grows. Equity can also increase if the value of your property increases.

  1. You’re ready for stability

If you’re ready to settle down in one place for at least the next five years you’re looking for stability. Perhaps you’re ready to put down some roots and start a family or become a part of a local community. Owning your own home provides you a steady living expense, builds equity and gives you (almost) complete control of your lifestyle.






Posted by Gregory Murphy & Cathy Ferrone on 2/7/2019

Anyone can buy a home – all it takes is hard work and diligence to evaluate your home financing options. Fortunately, we're here to help you streamline the process of finding the financing that you'll need to pay for a residence.

Now, let's take a look at three tips to help you determine how you will afford a house.

1. Take a Look at Your Current Financial Situation

Put together a monthly budget that outlines your current spending patterns. This will enable you to review how much you earn, what you're paying for housing and other pertinent financial information.

After an in-depth review of your current financial situation, you'll be better equipped than ever before to determine how much you can pay for a house. Then, you can create a homebuying budget to help you move closer to acquiring your dream residence.

2. Get a Copy of Your Credit Report

In all likelihood, a lender will receive your credit score to determine whether you are a viable candidate for a mortgage. If you request a copy of your credit report today, you can learn about your credit score and take steps to improve it before you apply for a mortgage.

The three major credit reporting bureaus (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion) provide one free copy of a credit report annually. If you submit a request for your credit report, you can gain unprecedented credit insights in no time at all.

Furthermore, if you find errors on a credit report, don't hesitate to contact the reporting bureau. This will enable you to fix any credit report mistakes prior to applying for a mortgage.

3. Reach Out to Local Lenders

Banks and credit unions are happy to meet with you and discuss a variety of mortgage options. These lenders are available in cities and towns nationwide and can teach you everything you need to know about home financing.

Ultimately, lenders can explain the home financing process and ensure you can avoid any potential pitfalls along the way. And if you ever have mortgage concerns or questions, lenders are available to respond to them at any time.

If you need extra help prior to kicking off a home search, you may want to contact a real estate agent as well. This housing market professional understands the ins and outs of purchasing a house and can help you plan accordingly.

Oftentimes, a real estate agent will meet with you and learn about your homebuying goals. This housing market professional then can ensure you won't have to break your budget to afford a terrific residence.

If you want to buy a home but have limited finances at your disposal, a real estate agent is happy to assist you. Or, if you are searching for a mortgage but don't know where to begin, a real estate agent can put you in touch with top lenders.

Work with a real estate agent, and you can improve your chances of acquiring a first-rate house at an affordable price.







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