The ’80s Are Back — But Comparatively, Mortgage Rates Are Still Totally Rad!

Have you noticed the fashion trends of the 1980s are finding their way back to department store racks and online shopping sites? ’80s fashion has seen a recent resurgence, perhaps due to current pop culture hits like Stranger Things and retro fashion videos on TikTok.

You may be hoping that mortgage rates won’t see the absurd highs of the ’80s. Although the average for that decade was 12.7%, rates in the ’80s topped out at 18.45%. Yikes!

One thing to note is that although the 18% rate is unthinkable now, home prices were considerably lower back then. With today’s rates higher than recent years, we’re also seeing lower asking prices by sellers. Gone are the insane bidding wars that raised prices by tens of thousands during the pandemic. The market tends to self-correct whenever possible.

The other concern is for sellers and real estate agents to be realistic about their pricing. We recently saw a home sale where they needed to adjust down considerably either due to poor market research or homeowners trying to bring in maximum dollars. Case in point, a home that recently sold:

  • Oct 1: listed at $1.2 Million
  • October 20: dropped to $999K
  • November 1: dropped again to $950K
  • November 15: accepted offer of $850K

Real estate agents have a responsibility to educate their buyers and sellers on how to set proper pricing. Most are educated and aware of up-to-the-minute changes. The example above shows a home that was not correctly priced and it may have cost the seller several thousand dollars because of it.

Remember to choose wisely when selecting your real estate agent. If you need a recommendation, just ask!

* * * * *

If you’d like to chat about mortgage options, please call me at 617-965-1236. If you’re planning to buy this year, let’s talk soon. I look forward to speaking with you.

Ready to buy a new home or refinance the one you own? Please get in touch and I’ll be happy to answer your questions and help guide you through the process. I look forward to speaking with you.


Top Selling Songs and Top Grossing Movies of the 1980s By Year

1980
Song: Call Me by Blondie
Movie: Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back

1981
Song: Bette Davis Eyes by Kim Carnes
Movie: Raiders of the Lost Ark

1982
Song: Physical by Olivia Newton-John
Movie: E.T.

1983
Song: Every Breath You Take by the Police
Movie: Star Wars: Return of the Jedi

1984
Song: When Doves Cry by Prince
Movie: Indiana Jones & the Temple of Doom

1985
Song: Careless Whisper by Wham! featuring George Michael
Movie: Back to the Future

1986
Song: That’s What Friends Are For by Dionne & Friends
Movie: Top Gun

1987
Song: Walk Like an Egyptian by The Bangles
Movie: Fatal Attraction

1988
Song: Faith by George Michael
Movie: Rain Man

1989
Song: Look Away by Chicago
Movie: Indiana Jones & the Last Crusade

BONUS!
Top Album: Thriller by Michael Jackson
Bestselling novel: Clear and Present Danger by Tom Clancy
Top TV Show: Dallas


Home Improver: ’80s Decor Is Trending

Floral wallpaper, pastel sofas, lucite chairs and more are back in style as 1980s home decor trends have returned. Call it Miami Vice Revisited or Golden Girls Chic, these ’80s decor trends are making a big comeback to homes across the US.

  1. Return of Pastels. We’re seeing more of this trend on sofas than anywhere else in the home. Light blue or green sofas with pink or blue solid, patterned or striped accent pillows.
  2. Chintz and Floral Patterns. French-inspired decor and aesthetics are trending on social media. Chintz is a delicate, floral-printed cotton that is primarily used for curtains and upholstery. Wallpaper with big earthy, leafy prints is also on the rise.
  3. Brass is Back. Some would argue that brass never went out of style, but most bathrooms since the ’90s have favored brushed chrome or darker colors.
  4. Lucite Accents. Remember lucite? it’s a thick, clear plastic used in furniture and accessories. It adds a clean, modern look to rooms and is commonly found on barstool seats, lamps, and shelving units.
  5. Wicker Lives! Most of us got rid of all traces of wicker by the ’90s. But wicker is the oldest furniture making method in history, so you had to expect it to make a comeback.

4 Big Myths About Reverse Mortgages

If you’re one of many people who are skeptical of reverse mortgages, you’re not alone. Even though the first reverse mortgages were approved in 1961, they didn’t gain popularity until the late 1980s. Rumors abounded about how this was a risky financial decision, but we know now that a reverse mortgage can be a helpful solution for the right homeowner.

Let’s debunk the top 4 myths about reverse mortgages.

Myth No. 1: As soon as I sign the papers, the bank owns my home. The deed remains with you. The home is still yours, as long as you continue to pay your property taxes and homeowner’s insurance.

Myth No. 2: If you die, your family has no rights to the home. Your heirs have the option to make arrangements to repay the loan and buy the home if they wish to keep it in the family.

Myth No. 3: I can’t sell my home. You are allowed to change your mind and sell your home whenever you want if you would like to relocate.

Myth No. 4: I won’t qualify because I still have an existing mortgage on the house. If you have built up equity in your home, you may still qualify. The proceeds of the reverse mortgage must first be used to pay off the remaining balance. One very common reason to get a reverse mortgage is to pay off an existing mortgage without dealing with monthly mortgage payments.

* * * * *

If you’d like to chat about mortgage options, please call me at 617-965-1236. If you’re planning to buy this year, let’s talk soon. I look forward to speaking with you.

Ready to buy a new home or refinance the one you own? Please get in touch and I’ll be happy to answer your questions and help guide you through the process. I look forward to speaking with you.


Fall Is Here!

Leaves are falling and sweater weather is finally here!

Here are some fall facts to get you in the mood for our coziest season.

  1. What’s It Called?
    We Americans typically refer to this time of year as “fall,” while the British use the word “autumn.” Both terms date back to the 16th century but before that it was called “harvest” because of the harvest moon.
  2. Changing Colors, Sort Of.
    The yellow and orange colors you see already exist in leaves but are overwhelmed by the abundance of green from chlorophyll. Chlorophyll starts to decrease as the sun weakens when the days grow shorter.
  3. Pumpkin Spice Tastes Nothing Like Pumpkin.
    There isn’t even any real pumpkin in it. It’s really a mix of cinnamon, cloves, ginger, and nutmeg. Think of it more as a fall vibe than a pumpkin flavor.

Home Improver: Keeping Your Pets a Secret to Guests

There’s nothing worse than entering someone’s home and knowing exactly which pets they own before you even see them. Pet odor is not the first thing you want your guests to notice the second they walk through the door.

So what can you do to control pet odors so your guests are actually surprised when your pet pops in to say hello?

  • Sweep & Vacuum Hair and Dander. This may seem obvious and it may be something you do often, but to truly control odor, you have to find all the hiding spots for pet hair. This includes under couch cushions, below and inside drapery, under blankets and beds.
  • Use Baking Soda. Nothing neutralizes pet odor like baking soda. Use it in your carpet, on area rugs, and in your dog and cat beds. Let it sit for a few minutes before vacuuming.
  • Buy Nature’s Miracle. Have a puppy, kitten, or elderly pet. Accidents happen. Nature’s Miracle has a full line of pet products that remove, neutralize, and clean up messes and odors. No, they didn’t pay us to promote them, but we have the experience of using them and they are really effective.

Second Mortgage vs. HELOC: What’s the Difference?

When choosing the loan that’s right for you, it’s important to understand the differences between a second mortgage and a home equity line of credit (HELOC).

But before we jump into differences, let’s look at what each option has in common:

HELOCs are often thought of as a type of second mortgage because both borrow from the equity you’ve built in your home. Both loans come from the bank that provides your original mortgage and both use your existing home as collateral.

OK, now for the differences:

The most obvious “pro” in favor of a second mortgage is a fixed rate that is locked in for the life of the loan. With this comes the peace of mind knowing years in advance how much you’ll be paying monthly. Conversely, HELOCs come with variable rates which can prove costly, even if you are approved for the HELOC at a low rate. Your rate may increase because of decisions made by the Federal Reserve. It could go down as well, though this has not been the case this past year — along with the fact that rates are still historically low.

So why would I want a home equity line of credit? The main benefit is that you can use the funds as you need them. A second mortgage loan is paid to you in a lump sum at the start of the loan. A HELOC can make money available to you only when you need it. If you need less than you thought, your monthly payment will be smaller.

Just be careful: you could easily make impulse-buy decisions over the years on home improvement projects that, little-by-little, could max out the full amount of the line of credit.

Typically, a second mortgage is used to purchase a second home or to make large-scale home improvements on the original home. In addition, second mortgages can help the homeowner with debt consolidation from high interest auto loans, credit cards, life events and medical bills.

* * * * *

If you’d like to chat about mortgage options, please call me at 617-965-1236. If you’re planning to buy this year, let’s talk soon. I look forward to speaking with you.

Ready to buy a new home or refinance the one you own? Please get in touch and I’ll be happy to answer your questions and help guide you through the process. I look forward to speaking with you.


National Peach Month

We know Justin Bieber gets his peaches out in Georgia, but did you know that August is National Peach Month?

In 1982, Ronald Reagan choose the peach to represent adding more nutritious fruits into the American diet. Because peaches are a summer fruit, he chose August as the month to celebrate them.

So what are the nutritional benefits of peaches?

  1. They’re packed with nutrients and antioxidants.
  2. They help contribute to healthy digestion.
  3. They contain compounds that help lower cholesterol and blood pressure.
  4. Peach skin and flesh are rich in carotenoids and caffeic acid — two types of antioxidants with anti-cancer properties.
  5. They may reduce allergy symptoms. In addition to eating peaches, Test-tube studies report that peach extracts may be effective as well and limit the inflammation commonly seen in allergic reactions.

Home Improver: Do Air Purifiers Really Work?

Let’s face it: there’s a lot of dust, odors, and toxins that we breathe in throughout the various rooms in our homes. What’s the easiest way to minimize the negative effects in the air we breathe? Get an air purifier.

These room refreshers have come a long way in recent years and they are reasonably priced for what they do. When used properly they can reduce household odors as well as common allergens that make you sick.

If you suffer from allergies, an air purifier can help mitigate symptoms, but don’t expect 100% relief. For those concerned about Covid-19, the CDC says: “Ventilation systems can be supplemented with portable high efficiency particulate air (HEPA) cleaners to reduce the number of infectious particles in the air and provide enhanced protection from transmission between persons.”

One of the most popular and highly rated air purifiers is this one from Conway, (shown above) for just $200. One thing to remember before you buy: Will the air purifier you choose cover the size of your large room?

Proper Use of Interrobangs and Mortgage Brokers

Have you ever written a question in a text or email with such excitement you weren’t sure if you should punctuate it with a question mark or an exclamation point?

For example: Did you see the World Series last night?!
or
Did you hear who’s running for governor?!
or
Can you believe he baked that cake by himself?!

The combined use of question mark and exclamation point is seen frequently. But did you know that in 1962, American ad man, Martin Spekter, created a hybrid of those two marks and called it the interrobang? It looks like this:

Wouldn’t it be useful to have this punctuation mark at your disposal? And now that you know how to properly use it, your life just got a little easier, didn’t it?

Mortgage brokers are a lot like interrobangs. Most people don’t always see the benefit and some have no idea of how they work. Also, mortgage brokers work in two capacities. First, we act like a financial coach, understanding the macro view of your finances. Next we act like detectives, drilling down to a micro view that finds you a mortgage that makes the most sense, saves you money or creates a better cash flow.

The dedication of a highly qualified mortgage professional can be the difference between buying a home you can afford and taking on too much debt. Using a mortgage broker for the first time will open your eyes to all the options, suggestions, and caveats that come with the largest asset you may ever own. Can you imagine how much money and stress you’d save?!

Ready to buy a new home or refinance the one you own? Please get in touch and I’ll be happy to answer your questions and help guide you through the process. I look forward to speaking with you.


Happy Halloween, friends!

It may be snowing, and we may have had the strangest year ever, but before the major holidays we pay tribute all things spooky.

Here are some Halloween trivia tidbits to talk about while you’re eating candy corn and sitting six feet apart.

  1. Not only is Halloween happening on a Saturday, but it’s also a full moon.
  2. In fact, it’s a blue moon, which means it’s the second full moon of the month, which only occurs once every 2.7 years (aka “once in a blue moon”).
  3. Which country had the first Halloween? Ireland.
  4. The word “bonfire” combines which two words? “Bone” and “Fire.” Spoooooky!
  5. Before pumpkins became the standard, the original jack-o-lanterns were made from which vegetable? Turnips.
  6. From which region of the world did pumpkins originate? Central America.

Halloween Home Improver: White Vinegar: Let’s Make Some Slime for Halloween!

Oh, boy. You did it again, didn’t you? You planned the perfect kids’ Halloween party and you forgot to buy the slime. And now it’s too late to hit up Party City because they’ve sold all their slime for the season.

No worries, we’ve got your back with a homemade slime recipe that’s easy and fun. Perfect ghoulish fun for the kiddos.
You’ll need:

  • 1 6-oz bottle of white liquid all-purpose glue
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1½ tablespoon buffered or multipurpose contact lens solution
  • A few drops of liquid food coloring to give your slime color
  • 2 tbsp up to 1/2 cup warm water to make your slime stretchier and oozier.

Pour the glue into a bowl. In a separate small bowl or measuring cup, add the baking soda, contact lens solution and food coloring, if you are using it. Combine the baking soda solution with the glue and mix with a spoon or with your hands. The slime will feel sticky at first, but will get less so with additional kneading. Adjust the texture to your preference by adding a pinch more baking soda for firmer slime and a bit more water for oozier slime – we suggest oozier slime. It’s Halloween after all! (Recipe Source: Arm & Hammer)

 

Is Zillow the Uber of Real Estate?

There’s no question that Zillow.com has evolved from a real estate curiosity to a major player in the industry. While some may think of it as a starting point for future homebuyers or simply an entertaining way for house-hunters to kill some time online, Zillow is emerging as a force that could disrupt the entire real estate process. In fact, it already has.

If you’re wondering if Zillow will eventually displace real estate agents, I suppose it’s possible, though highly unlikely — and it would be years away if Zillow were to consider such a pivot.

The more likely lasting scenario is their current model, which uses real estate agents the way Uber uses vetted drivers to close business for them.

Here’s how it works: Zillow sells leads to agents backed by large real estate brokers like Keller Williams, Re/Max and Coldwell Banker. Users sign up and explore locales where they want to buy. Zillow provides their “Zestimate,” which is sometimes less of an estimate and more of a guesstimate. Eventually, Zillow will suggest one of their recommended agents to work with the homebuyer, gather as much accurate data as they can and seal the deal. So the agent gets paid, but so does the broker and now Zillow gets their cut.

Now, whether these agents are any good at selling is no guarantee. The agents Zillow recommends are the ones paying thousands of dollars a year for leads. They are not necessarily the cream of the crop, though some are. Bottom line: it’s a crapshoot.

And that’s the risk you take when starting with software rather than a human. Real estate is almost always an emotional purchase and you need a sentient human to make it all work. Zillow knows that and that’s why they invest in human capital to power their sales engine. At least for now.

Ready to buy a new home or refinance the one you own? Please get in touch and I’ll be happy to answer your questions and help guide you through the process. I look forward to speaking with you.

Credit Card Debt is Up Again. Now What?

When the bottom dropped out of the market in 2009, people became more careful about spending and accumulating debt. But once the economy started improving, consumers felt more comfortable about spending. Now, eight years later, we are seeing a return to our less careful days of money management. In fact, we’re setting new records of debt.

In June, Americans officially logged their highest collective debt in history. Of the $1.021 trillion in outstanding revolving credit, $1 trillion of it is credit card debt. This tops the previous record of $1.020 trillion, back in the carefree spending days of April, 2008.

Yikes! What does it all mean in the world of mortgages?

For one thing, it could effect your ability to secure your mortgage. According to a recent report, credit card delinquency is up to 4.4% and may be trending toward the 8% or more reached during the recession.

This is a wake-up call to consumers and specifically homebuyers. With more access to credit cards, people are spending money they don’t have and paying a major price for it, both literally and figuratively.

When I work with homebuyers, I look for three things: Credit, Cash and Capacity. Let’s start with credit. Lower credit scores, combined with the loan-to-value ratio, can affect the interest rate that you’d be eligible for. If your credit is not stellar, buying a home is not impossible, and this is where working with me can make a big difference in your homebuying experience.

When it comes to cash, I encourage buyers to make sure they have a cushion beyond the purchase to replace and/or upgrade parts of their home, whether it’s the air conditioning, a new bathroom or an unexpected but necessary home improvement project.

Finally, and perhaps most important, is capacity. Have you developed a saving discipline over time that prepares you to take on your largest debt? For new homebuyers, I look at their bill-paying history from the bottom up. Starting with small monthly debts like rent and utilities; followed by credit cards and auto loans. If you’re having trouble making these monthly payments, I may advise you that now may not be the best time to buy. I feel it’s my responsibility to guide you in the right direction. If I see potential problems with making your monthly mortgage payment, I’ll let you know.

So what can you do if you’re concerned about taking on the debt of a mortgage? Pre-planning is the key. People don’t always jump right into parenthood. They start to learn to nurture at a young age. First a goldfish, then a cat, then a dog, then a baby. The same is true with homebuying. Take the time to pay down your debt and bring up your credit score. Make all your payments early or on time every month. These actions will put you in a more responsibly deserving place to take on debt you can comfortably control and pay off in a timely manner.

Ready to buy a new home or refinance the one you own? Please get in touch and I’ll be happy to answer your questions and help guide you through the process. I look forward to speaking with you.

When is an ARM Better Than a Fixed?

The world of mortgages has a short menu. Will it be an Adjustable Rate Mortgage (ARM) or a Fixed Rate Mortgage? You’ll often hear people say that a fixed-rate mortgage is always the best move
— that’s not necessarily the truth. Homebuyers sometimes have unique circumstances that allow them to take advantage of the initial lower rate of an ARM.

First, let’s distinguish between the two. The interest rate of a fixed-rate mortgage never changes. An adjustable-rate mortgage, on the other hand, resets its interest rate at pre-specified times. For example, a “7/1 ARM” indicates the interest rate is locked in for the first seven years and adjusts annually after year seven. Because rates have been lower in recent times, homeowners generally opt for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage to lock in that low rate for the life of the loan.

So when might it make more sense to go with an ARM? Here are a few scenarios:
Changing Cities, Changing Jobs. If you think you’ll be moving within a short time frame but prefer not to rent, an ARM is option that could work very well. For example, a student who’s doing a medical residency may wind up practicing in another state after she graduates. Because she’s uncertain where she’ll land after graduation, an ARM may be the better choice for a few years.
Investment Property. If you’re buying an investment property but only plan to hold onto it for a limited period, why not take the lower rate?
Salary Bump. If your budget is stretched now, but you’re confident your salary will increase in the next 5-7 years, you could start with an ARM and then refinance your mortgage before the rate goes up.
First-time Homebuyers. In cases where financing a 30-year fixed is not a viable option, first-time homebuyers may choose an ARM and either sell or refinance later.
While ARMs usually have caps in place for rate increases, there are usually no caps or limits to how much the first adjustment after the reset point will be. If you wind up staying beyond the first interval of your ARM, you could face a larger rate increase than you can afford. This is why we only recommend ARMs for the short term, even though it’s entirely possible the rate could adjust down.

Ready to buy a new home or refinance the one you own? Please get in touch and I’ll be happy to answer your questions and help guide you through the process. I look forward to speaking with you.

3 Downpayment Myths Debunked

When it comes to mortgage downpayments, there seems to be some confusion about how much you really need to put down on a new property. Let’s take a look at three common misconceptions.

1. The 20% Rule. If you were to ask the average person on the street about downpayments, the majority of them would say 20% is required. While 20% is a common guideline, it’s not necessarily the reality. In fact, there are a number of low downpayment programs available.

2. It Has to be ONLY my money. Gift funds are a great option. A gift may be provided by a spouse, child, or anyone related to the borrower. It must specify the dollar amount and an official gift letter is required stating that the funds were a gift and no repayment is expected.

3. First-time Homebuyers Only. While the industry has always encouraged first-time homebuyers, it’s a myth to think current and previous homeowners will be forced to submit 20% and not a penny less. I have worked with numerous clients over the years who have preferred a smaller downpayment so they can keep some money for repairs and additions to their new home.

Don’t be fooled by these misconceptions that have seeped into the general consciousness. There are more options for low downpayments than you may have imagined. If you or someone you know would like to explore the possibility of a low downpayment option, I can help. Call me at 617-965-1236.

Ready to buy a new home or refinance the one you own? Please get in touch and I’ll be happy to answer your questions and help guide you through the process. I look forward to speaking with you.

The One Question That Saves Thousands of Dollars

I’ve been working with homeowners for many years and I discovered long ago that eager buyers set themselves up to fail by taking the wrong approach in their excitement of making what is often the largest purchase of their lives.

Whether I’m advising couples, divorced women, single men or anyone else across all demographics, the majority of these home buyers start house-hunting with the amount of money in mind that has been determined with their pre-approval. It’s a mistake and can lead to serious financial issues.

The question I start with is a simple one: What do you need to live happily and comfortably over the next several years? That change of mindset–focusing on their needs rather than what the bank tells them they can afford–makes a huge difference.

Let’s face it: in many ways, we are a nation of impulse buyers. Why buy a Toyota when you can buy a Lexus, right? I’ll tell you why. Because you can’t afford it. You only think you can.

First-time homebuyers often find themselves in serious debt when they learn of unexpected costs to maintain their homes in addition to their monthly mortgage payment, property taxes, utility bills and more. Then suddenly one winter they have ice dams and roof repairs and mold remediation. The typical homebuyer thinks of a dream home, not a nightmare scenario that stretches their budget to the limit and beyond.

When buyers work with me they have a professional who helps them make practical decisions that will serve them well over the life of the mortgage. Consider me the reality check you never asked for, but really need. You can’t put a price on good advice, but you can always afford it. I’m happy to help.

Ready to buy a new home or refinance the one you own? Please get in touch and I’ll be happy to answer your questions and help guide you through the process. I look forward to speaking with you.

Second Home vs. Investment Property

If you ever hear someone say they are interested in buying a second home as an investment property, stop them right there. A second home and an investment property are not the same thing. There are several distinctions that set them apart. Let’s take a look.

A second home is just what it sounds like: another location for you to reside at various times of the year. So let’s say you own a home in Needham but you’re interested in buying a winter home in Miami. That falls into the “second home” classification.

An investment property, on the other hand, is intended to generate a return on investment, either through rental income or resale (or both). Examples of investment properties include two-family houses and renovation/flipping projects.

To avoid charges of fraud, your second home should be a considerable distance from your primary residence. The rule of thumb is approximately 50 miles (Wellesley to the Cape, for example, is about 80 or 90 miles.) A two-family second home is unlikely to be approved because it is, by design, intended to be a revenue generating property.

A downpayment on a second home carries less risk and therefore may be the home purchase you can make with the least amount of money down. Your downpayment on an investment property, however, will be higher because the risk is higher. The two-family investment is viewed as a risk by the banks because you’ll be counting on the rent coming in. There’s no guarantee of tenant reliability or year-round occupancy.

I hope this helps clear up any confusion. If you need further clarification, please contact me at 617-965-1236.

Ready to buy a new home or refinance the one you own? Please get in touch and I’ll be happy to answer your questions and help guide you through the process. I look forward to speaking with you.