Why Choose Debbie?

Why Choose Debbie?
One of the questions that comes up with new clients is: Why should I choose Westchester Mortgage over a big bank? It’s a fair question. Your mortgage is a huge investment and you should carefully choose the person you want to work with for the best possible outcome.

I asked a client to discuss why they chose to work with me for both a refinance and a purchase transaction Here are the reasons and their responses for choosing me:

Big bank vs. small business: “Ultimately, we wanted to work with a person, not a company.”

Responsiveness: “Debbie was terrific. Every time we needed her she was there with a prompt response and good information. One day we called her in a panic because we wanted to make an offer that included a quick closing date, and needed to know how quickly we could move to get our offer in motion. My husband left her a message and within 30 minutes, she called us back — from the Bahamas! We were so impressed!”

Industry knowledge: “After the searching was over and we had an offer accepted, Debbie continued guide us through the next steps. She was able to clearly explain all of the mortgage numbers and other costs; everything was transparent and even though some of this financial jargon sounded like a foreign language at first, Debbie communicated and translated it all in a way that we easily understood.”

Honesty: “Debbie is very direct and not afraid to ask questions. Her responses are clear and matter-of-fact; She always kept the process moving, yet we never felt rushed.”

Confidence and Trust: “You hear nightmare stories about people trying to secure financing or having mortgages fall through the day of closing, but we had no fear at all because of the confidence we had in Debbie Siegel. We would highly recommend her to anyone purchasing a new home or refinancing!”

June’s Home Value Improver

Fun with Filters!

Summer is here and so is the heat! Before you think you can cool off by flicking a switch on your air conditioner, you should clean out the filters first. The EPA has identified indoor air pollution as one of the top five urgent environmental risks to public health. By not changing your filters, you could be breathing in all sorts of pollutants like smoke, pollen, pet dander, rodent droppings and mold. This collection of nearly undetectable (and entirely gross) pollutants, can lead to severe respiratory illnesses. Filters in window air conditioners are inexpensive and easy to replace. You may need to call a professional if you have central air. By the way, clogged air filters make your air conditioner work up to five times harder to push out cool air, which dramatically raises your energy costs. So now you’re paying extra money to breathe in toxic air. Change those filters today!

All this filter research got me thinking about the other filters in the house. Make a point to change your:

Dryer filters. Did you know that one of the most common causes of house fires are blocked lint filters? It is important to clean these out regularly, but also to check for lint buildup behind, under and in the vents. Keep everything clear.

Water filters. Clean drinking water is important for everyone. If you use a filtration system like Brita, for example, make sure you regularly install a new cartridge. Also, check the filters on your sink faucets and pay special attention to the filter on the water dispenser on your refrigerator. Toxins can easily build over time and pollute what you may believe to be clean drinking water.

Dehumidifier filters. You may rely on a dehumidifier to regulate the amount of humidity in your home, but like any other air-processing device in your home, your dehumidifier requires a clean filter to work efficiently and keep you healthy.

Aquarium filters. Hey, pets are people, too. Well, no they’re not. But they deserve a healthy living space, just like you. Fish get their fresh air from clean water. Neglecting to clean the filter on your tank will make it harder for your fish to breathe. Toxins can lead to awfu-soundingl fish diseases like fin rot and pop-eye. And no one wants to look at a fish with rotting fins and exploding eyes. Give your fish — and yourself — a clean environment by changing your filters!

Post-Divorce Mortgages

Post-Divorce Mortgages: Know the Facts
No one is ever fully prepared for divorce. It’s a difficult situation that becomes even sadder when children are involved. Unfortunately it’s a common occurrence and the couple must make financial arrangements that can be agreed upon by both parties.

When it comes to divorce, however, many people are unaware of the requirements involved with securing a mortgage using income from both alimony child support payments.

According to Fannie Mae guidelines, there are certain documents you must present if you plan to use alimony or child support payments to qualify for your mortgage. Here is the documentation you will need.

1. A copy of the divorce decree that indicates payment of alimony or child support, including the amount of the award and period of time over which it will be received. If the divorce is not yet final, a separation agreement may be used. However, the separation agreement must include the amount of money awarded to the spouse for alimony and/or child support.

2. Documentation that verifies any applicable state law that mandates alimony, child support, or separate maintenance payments, which must specify the conditions under which the payments must be made.

3. All documentation is to be reviewed for limitations, meaning that, for example, child support will end when a child turns a pre-determined age.

4. The following documentation is required to verify receipt of full payment: deposit slips, court records, copies of signed and filed income tax forms, bank statements and a review of payment history to determine if the income is stable and qualifying for the loan. (To that last item, the borrower must have received a minimum of six months of payments to qualify.)

Sound complicated? It doesn’t have to be. If you know someone who is divorced or is considering options after marriage, please have them call me at 617-965-1236. I will tactfully and carefully answer their questions so they can successfully begin the next phase of their lives.

May’s Home Value Improver

Planting Perfect Tomatoes

Have you ever planted tomatoes and instead of big, bright red and juicy, you wind up with a yield that is small, green and never ripens? If so, you’re doing it wrong! Here are some tips for growing delicious tomatoes that would impress both amateur and professional tomato growers.

1. Purchase plants rather than growing from seeds. It’s not cheating; there’s still plenty of work ahead. Buying the plants allows you to avoid figuring out a date to determine when 6 weeks before the final frost is, which you’ll need to know if you’re starting with a pack of seeds.

2. Acclimate your plants. Weather fluctuations can upset the plants and talking to them won’t help. Keep them outside during the day and inside at night until the nighttime temperature is consistently above 50º. We’re just about at that point now, with occasional lows still in the mid-40s.

3. Location, location, location. Here’s a tip: tomatoes need lots of sun, so be sure to plant them in a place that will get optimal sunlight. Also, they’ll need to be spaced about 3-4 feet apart so they have plenty of room to grow.

4. Test your soil. This is the best-kept secret among successful tomato-growers. The soil should have a pH between 6.0 and 7.0. You can have your soil tested professionally and get help with supplementation to get your soil just right for your tomatoes.

5. Provide support for your plants. Use ties and support cages or trellises to help your plants grow tall and strong. Also, buy or create collars to place at the base of the plants to fend off any pesky worms.

6. Water consistently. Don’t let your soil dry out before you water it. Keeping your plants moist is particularly important as the days get hotter.

Should I Waive My Mortgage Contingency?

Should I Waive My Mortgage Contingency?
Given the limited inventory of available houses in today’s market and the large number of eager buyers in Massachusetts, sellers may face as many as 10-15 offers, with each getting more competitive. Often the person who gets the home is the one who waives certain terms and contingencies in the offer, while going dollar-for-dollar with the highest bidder.Is waiving a contingency a mistake or is it a smart way to stay ahead of your competition? Like any action involving a risk, there are pros and cons to consider.

Waiving the Home Inspection. A seller may jump at the chance to accept an offer that has no inspection contingency. Although this practice is becoming more common in this seller’s market, there are far too many risks that would be revealed with a professional home inspection. Once it is waived, it essentially ends the negotiation with the seller and all you can do is keep your fingers crossed that the house is in as good condition as it looks. Of course, you could pay $400 – $700 for an inspection prior to purchase, but be warned: you may not win the bid and you’ll have paid to inspect someone else’s new home.

Waiving the Mortgage Contingency. Here’s one to avoid. You want this. A mortgage contingency protects your deposit in cases where you are no longer eligible for a mortgage (lost your job, change in finances, etc.). Another reason is tied to the bidding wars that occur due to lower inventory. Inflated bids move prices beyond the bank’s appraisal, which may force buyers to opt out of the deal. With the mortgage contingency waived, the buyer can lose the deposit.

The financials related to home-buying can be complex and confusing without an experienced mortgage professional. Call me at Westchester Mortgage today at 617-965-1236 to answer any questions you may have.

April’s Home Value Improver

What Exactly is Spring Cleaning?

It happens every year. The weather warms up and suddenly you notice the neighbors are on ladders cleaning gutters, washing windows and painting doors while others are inside cleaning out closets, dusting old bookshelves and scrubbing the floors on their hands and knees. What is it about spring cleaning that gets the job done better than any other time of year?

A little research shows that spring cleaning goes back for centuries and is often tied to religious holidays and celebrations.

In the Jewish faith, people would rid their kitchens and pantries of leavened bread and any ingredients that were not allowed during Passover. Even crumbs were forbidden, which led to a thorough cleaning of the home.

The Persian New Year, called Nowruz, involves a cleaning tradition called “khooneh tekouni” which means “shaking the tree” wherein the entire house is cleaned from top to bottom.

Christians, during Lent, clean their homes in anticipation of welcoming friends and relatives for their Easter celebration.

Finally, in the days before heating systems, people living in apartments waited until it was warm enough to open windows to wash them, along with beating the dust out of rugs and pouring old mop water out the window.

Whether your motivation is spiritual or simply practical, cleaning your house thoroughly will leave you appreciating your beautiful home even more, while giving you a wonderful feeling of accomplishment. Now break out the vacuum and get to work!

March Mortgage Madness

March Madness and Common Sense

Have you heard about the “Billion Dollar Bracket Challenge?” It’s a legitimate contest offered by Warren Buffett and Quicken Loans. The winner will receive 40 installments of $25 million or can take a lump sum of $500 million. The catch? Well, there is no catch, other than it’s virtually impossible to win.

To be precise, the chance of filling out a perfect bracket is 1 in 9.2 quintillion, or 9,223,372,036,854,775,808 to 1. The odds were figured by a math professor from DePaul University. Still feeling lucky?

So just how long are those odds? Let’s just say Mr. Buffett can sleep well knowing that his money is pretty safe. Here are some long odds that are more likely to happen than choosing a perfect bracket:

A meteor crashing through your roof: 182,138,880,000,000 to 1

Winning the Powerball Jackpot: 140,000,000 to 1

Shark Attack! 1 in 300,000,000

Mountain lion attack! 1 in 32,000,000

Struck by Lightning: 280,000 to 1

Finding a four-leaf clover on first try: 10,000 to 1

Pro golfer gets a hole-in-one: 3,000 to 1

If you entered this contest because you thought it was a good investment, good luck! You’ll need it. When it comes to finding the best mortgage for your individual needs, I can guarantee excellent odds when you work with me. So why gamble? Call Westchester Mortgage today at 617-965-1236. It’s a slam dunk!

March’s Home Value Improver

Dealing with Ice Dams

Ice Dams form on roofs due to a cycle of melting and refreezing of snow. With extremely cold winters like this one, snow hasn’t always had the chance to melt and flow down gutters to the ground.

When a warm attic melts some of the snow but the cold outside won’t melt everything, a dam of ice forms at the edge of the roof and blocks the built up water that has managed to melt.

When the water rises to a certain level, it seeps in though the roof shingles and into your home. This is more common in houses with a low or flat pitch, but can happen on any roof.

When ice dams leak into your home, the water can cause damage to your walls, floors and ceiling. Unchecked water within your walls can lead to mold. It is important to have a professional check your home for water damage if your roof has leakage from an ice dam. Mold can cause severe respiratory infections and lingering effects on your health.

If your home has been effected by ice dam leakage, it is best to call a remediation specialist who can find water and mold inside walls and ceilings and remove it safely with professional equipment.

Get Out of the Rent Rut

5 Ways to Get Out of the Rent Rut

Renting an apartment isn’t always a bad idea, given your financial situation, but sometimes we find ourselves stuck in place without the proper information to get out of the rent rut. Many first-time home buyers have no idea they can qualify for an affordable mortgage. So how does one get out of the rent rut? Here are five ways to get on the path to buying a home of your own.

1. Check your credit score. Your credit rating has a direct effect on your interest rate. Work on improving your credit by paying down credit card debt and making timely payments on your bills.

2. Make a list of your assets. Sometimes people don’t realize they have more than they think. Apart from money in the bank, you can also count as assets items like your 401(k), mutual funds, profit sharing and other financial means.

3. Length of lease. Work backwards from the end of your lease. You may find that you can pre-qualify for a mortgage long before your lease is up. That means you should start this process as soon as possible. If your lease is up soon, you may convince your landlord to go month-to-month or offer a six-month lease to make it easy for you to move when the time is right, without getting locked into another long-term obligation.

4. Measure income vs. expenses. If you make a good salary but have a significant amount of debt that accrues monthly, you’ll need to see how much you’re left with after making your payments. Having a positive cash flow after the bills are paid each month is critical.

5. Ability to raise funds. Do you have the resources to raise funds for your downpayment if necessary? You may have good credit and some money in the bank, but you’ll need to be able to show your ability to pay over time. Barely squeaking by won’t fill the bank with confidence that you can comfortably make your loan payment each month. Look to family for financial support. If that’s not an option, consider borrowing against your 401(k). You’ll want to see what the penalty is for it, but sometimes it’s well worth borrowing against the future to build wealth today. Remember that apart from living in the home you thought you would never own, you’re also making a solid financial investment that could pay huge dividends when you sell it years from now,

Getting out of the ren rut is not always easy, but it absolutely can be done. If you are a first-time homebuyer or know someone who may be ready to buy without even knowing it, please get in touch or ask them to call me at 617-965-1236. I would be happy to answer any questions and give sound advice on how to secure a mortgage without breaking the bank.

February’s Home Value Improver

Home Improvement Do’s and Don’ts

When it comes to increasing your home’s value, certain projects will instantly do the trick while others are risky and can have an adverse effect on buyers. Here’s a list of do’s and don’ts for home improvement.

Do Remodel Your Kitchen The kichen is one of the first rooms that buyers look at when making a decision on buying, According to HGTV, you can expect to recoup 60%-120% of your investment on a kitchen remodel.

Don’t Go Too Far with Your Kitchen Remodel If you go way over-the-top and your kitchen doesn’t fit with the rest of the house, this can make the other rooms look less impressive.

Do Improve Your Back Yard. Curb appeal from all angles of the house is a huge plus when it comes to selling your home faster. A manicured lawn, proper fencing for pets, and a fresh coat of paint on the garage goes a long way.

Don’t Install an In-ground Swimming Pool Have you looked outside? This isn’t Miami. A new pool can cost as much as $75,000 to install and would be used for only a fraction of the year. Don’t forget about maintenance costs: you’ll need to spend at least $1000 in insurance, not to mention maintenance costs to keep the pool clean and safe for swimming.

Do Install Energy-efficient Windows Energy Star claims that adding Energy Star-rated windows can save you up to $500 a year in heating and cooling costs. This is a big factor to home buyers given the high expense of keeping out drafts in the winter and keeping your home cool in the summer.

How Long Should I Wait Before Buying?

A young client called, frustrated that she hasn’t found a home that meets her needs. Her name is Julie and she is a newlywed, married this past June. She had hoped to be living in her new home by the fall. Now that the holidays have come and gone, she and her husband are starting the new year disappointed to continue living in her cramped apartment.

When looking for your ideal home, how long should you expect to wait? By “ideal,” we’re talking about location, price range, school system, and, of course, the house itself: design, number of rooms, amount of work to be put into it, etc.

One thing we’re finding is certain communities have limited inventory these days. One house may attract a very high number of buyers, and those on a tight budget are often priced out. This can extend the timeline.

Choosing the right home for you takes patience, depending on your list of non-negotiables. If you’re willing to settle for something less than what you wanted, you could probably move in within six months. However, buying a home is not the kind of thing you just settle for. It may well be the biggest investment you’ll ever make.

It took nearly two years for me to find my home and I’m so glad I waited. It has everything I need in a location I love and it’s a wonderful place for my husband and me to raise our children. I wonder what sacrifices I would have made if I had settled for something that was available but below my expectations. This is the same advice I gave to Julie. Wait. Be patient. It may take more time, but when you see the home you’ve always wanted, you’ll know it–and you won’t regret having waited.

Do you know any first-time homebuyers who need help with some of the tough questions related to buying a home or securing an affordable mortgage? Ask them to call me at 617-965-1236. I look forward to answering their questions!

January’s Home Value Improver

Four Options for Siding Your Home

When it comes to making the exterior of your home more attractive, you have several options. The most common ways are to shingle, paint and side. In this month’s home improver, we’ll look at four types of siding for you to choose based on look, durability and price.

1. Wood siding. Wood has a natural, traditional look to it. Best of all, it can be painted any color of your choosing. Another type of wood is cedar shingles, which can also be painted or stained.

2. Vinyl siding. Vinyl is great for homeowners on a budget. Presents a clean, fresh look without spending more than you can afford. Other options in this category are insulated vinyl and shingle vinyl siding.

3. Fiber cement siding. This is in a higher price range and it shows. The texture and look are exceptional. Durability and stability issues are negligible. Options here include vertical siding and trim boards.

4. Composite siding. Ideal for New England homes due to the fact that it is composed of 60% stone and has no wood fibers. This eliminates damage from harsh weather, water and insects. Composite siding is colored, so there’s never a need to paint. People often mistake the embossed woodgrain as actual wood clap board.

When it comes to choosing the type of siding for our home, I recommend working with a licensed and experienced home improvement company.

Assessing Risk – When to Buy

Assessing Risk: When to Buy
My clients sometimes agonize over making decisions on buying or refinancing their homes. When is the best time to lock in the rate? If they act now, will the rate drop significantly in the coming months? Will it rise to a point where they regret not buying sooner? There are a host of reasons why people delay, some which are valid, and others which may end up costing them thousands.

The fact is, if you meet with me and you understand that a good rate is available and you can afford it, then you have your answer. Lock in. If a rate gains or loses an eighth, you’re gambling with a number that works for you now, but could slip away slowly.

Think about people who play the lottery, since that’s a topic that’s been in the news. If someone plays for years and finally wins several thousand dollars, has he really won anything, or did he simply break even after years of losing?

When assessing risk, it’s important to look at the big picture. Are you better off buying your home now at a fair rate or do you want to roll the dice and wait? If the rate slowly rises, how much time will you lose before buying your home? Months? Years? Is it worth the wait?

Waiting for a better deal that may or may not be right around the corner–especially when you already have a good deal right now–can come back to haunt you.

My job is to help you make the best decision based on your needs and the current market, among other factors. Call me at 617-965-1236 to talk about your mortgage needs and we’ll discuss whether or not now is the best time for you to buy or refinance your home. I look forward to answering your questions!

December’s Home Value Improver
Preparing for a Long Winter

If this week’s snow has you wondering what the winter will bring, here’s some insight from The Farmer’s Almanac: “So, what’s in store for this winter? The “Days of Shivery” are back! 
We are forecasting a winter that will experience below-average temperatures for about two-thirds of the nation. A large area of below-normal temperatures will predominate from roughly east of the Continental Divide to the Appalachians, north and east through New England. With a combination of below-normal temperatures and above-normal precipitation the stage will be set for the Midwest and New England to receive lots of snow.”

If this week was any preview, you’ll need to be ready for a snowy few months ahead. Here are a few tips to handle the weather:

1. Make sure the kids are properly layered with warm clothing. Keep pets indoors.

2. Buy a real snow shovel–not the plastic one on sale that is useless when snow turns to ice.

3. Weather-strip doors and windows.

4. Have ice melt and sand to keep walkways safe.

5. Repair roof leaks and keep branches trimmed if they present a danger to your home.

6. Insulate water lines along walls so pipes don’t freeze.

7. Install storm windows or cover in plastic from the inside.

8. Have your chimney and flue inspected to avoid fires.

9. Have a plan for snow removal if it’s too much for you to handle.

10. Watch for elderly residents. They are less likely to detect drops in temperature and more likely to develop sickness.

Let’s hope The Farmer’s Almanac is wrong, but from what we’ve already seen a few days before the official start of winter, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Stay warm!

Five Things NOT to Do Before Refinancing or Buying Your Home

Five Things NOT to Do Before Refinancing or Buying Your Home
One of things my clients appreciate about me is that I act as a resource for them to answer questions long before we start the mortgage application process. Many times I prevent obstacles from getting in the way of securing their mortgages. Here’s a list of five things NOT to do before refinancing or buying a home.1. Retire. Although this may be your ultimate goal, you’ll want to secure the loan before significantly reducing your income. The amount of money you’re currently making has a direct impact on how the bank looks at your ability to pay your mortgage.

2. Slow Your Income Stream. As I just mentioned, slowing your income stream could adversely affect the terms of the mortgage or refinance you’re seeking. Cutting back from full-time to part-time hours can hurt your chances.

3. Experience a Major Life Event. Sending your kids off to college can set you back thousands of dollars. Taking on payments for your child’s tuition may set off red flags with banks.

4. Start a New Job or Career. Financial institutions like consistent, steady income from their customers. New jobs, career changes and new business ventures are all considered risks in the eyes of the bank. If you’re self-employed, you’ll need to show income for two years’ work before the bank will even look at your application.

5. Move Out and Rent Out Your Property. You may have thought that making your home a rental property would be a plus, given the potential income from tenants. There’s a problem with that theory: Investment rates are higher with more restrictions on a rental property than if it were your primary residence.

I take a holistic approach when it comes to buying or refinancing your home. After all my years in the mortgage industry, I know I can save you time and money. If you’re considering a new mortgage, call me at 617-965-1236. I’ll be happy to answer any questions you may have.

November’s Home Value Improver

Stand Up to Standing Water

I’m a firm believer in keeping water where it belongs: in the sink, the pipes, the toilet, etc. When water ventures beyond these places, it can become a hazard in your home.

Standing water in your basement may seem like it’s not a big problem, but it has the potential to affect your health. As water seeps into floorboards and walls, it can cause mold. Left untreated, mold spores can reproduce and grow everywhere water is (or was). This can lead to certain sicknesses, generally limited to respiratory infections.

The other problem is mosquitos. These stinging insects breed in pools of standing water. Adult females lay their eggs in the water, where they incubate for five days and then hatch. Watch for water buildup this winter. If it sits in your basement until spring, the mosquitos will view it as a great big breeding ground for their blood-sucking offspring.

Water can find its way into your home from clogged gutters and snow melting from ice dams. Keep a watchful eye on any water congregating where it shouldn’t. By removing it quickly and thoroughly, you’ll avoid mold and mosquito problems from turning your dream home into a nightmare.

My Latest TV Interview; Ripple Effects of the Shutdown

Ripple Effects on Mortgages Related to the Federal Government Shutdown
No matter which side of the political fence you’re on, you can’t argue that the housing market may be severely affected by the federal government shutdown.

At the center of the storm is the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), also known as the Affordable Care Act or ObamaCare. No matter how you refer to it, this standoff is causing a ripple effect that could impact the purchase and refinance of your home.

While many predict the short-term effects to be minor due to a bounce-back period which typically follows a shutdown, your home-buying plans may be put on hold until the PPACA issue is resolved.

The longer-term effects could potentially make loans harder to qualify for, which could shut certain home buyers out of the market. In addition, in an unstable economy, falling home prices could push some mortgages back under water, which could effect the ability to refinance.

These, of course, are worst-case scenarios we hope won’t happen. The quicker the government goes back to work, the less the chance for major ripple effects.

Things seem to change from day-to-day during this crisis. For the latest information, please contact me at 617-965-1236. I’ll be glad to answer any of your questions and give you the advice you need to successfully secure your mortgage.

October’s Home Value Improver

Using the Whole Pumpkin

You’ve picked the perfect pumpkin from the patch for the ultimate Halloween jack-o-lantern. Your top-notch carving skills yield a scary ghost-face that will be the envy of all your neighbors.

But what about the rest of the pumpkin? Have you simply gutted the contents and kept the the outer part for your jack-o-lantern? If so, you’re wasting more than you think.

So what can you do with a bowl full of pumpkin insides? Plenty! Let’s start with the obvious and go from there.

1. Pumpkin pie. Here’s the traditional recipe for the ultimate seasonal dessert, from Martha Stewart.

2. Pumpkin bread. If you love to bake bread, Alton Brown’s recipe is a winner.

3. Pumpkin seeds. Skip the mixed nuts at your next party and try this quick and easy recipe for sweet and salty pumpkin seeds, courtesy of Real Simple magazine.

4. Pumpkin soup. Here’s Criesta Comerford’s special recipe from Oprah’s magazine. Ms. Comerford has been the executive chef for both the Bushes and the Obamas. Gee, I wonder if she’s working during the shutdown? Do the president and first lady find her to be an essential employee or can they just wing it with a few groceries they might have picked up at the local Safeway?

5. Pumpkin wine. Tired of typical red and white wines? Ready for a challenge? Make your own pumpkin wine from scratch. It can be done! All you need is a pumpkin, an acid-tester and a hydrometer. What kitchen doesn’t have those?

6. Pumpkin skin cream. All those years of carving your pumpkins and tossing the insides could have been spent rejuvenating your skin. According to the website, you can spread the leftovers on toast for a delicious snack. Seriously. Here’s how.


Can You Afford a Second Home?

Can I Afford a Second Home?
A friend and I recently had a conversation about her buying a second home after she spent a relaxing week on the Cape. I thought about how many clients of mine have shown interest in purchasing a second home, but were unclear about the potential risks and rewards. Here are the key points to keep in mind:

Can I Afford It? As a current homeowner, you already understand that the cost of a home is more than just the price tag. You’ll need to factor in other expenses, like insurance and taxes, for example.

If you’re good with tools and plan to live there, then you’re fine. However, if this is a seasonal residence, you’ll need to figure out the costs involved in winterizing your home and perhaps hiring a local handyman to check on it from time to time, especially following harsh winter weather.

Will I Qualify? This is an important question, mainly because the requirements for buying a second home are more stringent. You won’t be able to rely on a government loan, so you’ll need a solid credit score along with the reserves to show you are a good candidate for a new mortgage.

Another Thing: The interest rate for a rental property is higher than the rate for a second home. When applying for the mortgage, the bank will only consider the rental income if you have a history of receiving rental income.

Confusing? It can be without the proper guidance. Don’t be discouraged. Second homes make for solid investments. If you have the money and want to further explore your options, give me a call at 617-965-1236.

September’s Home Value Improver

Spiders in My House: Good or Bad?

There are two types of people in the world: those who believe all bugs found in the home are the devil’s spawn and those who see a gigantic difference between a miserable, disgusting cockroach and a pretty little ladybug.

No matter which category you find yourself in, your opinion may change when it comes to spiders. Somewhere along the line we were told that spiders perform a very important function: They eliminate other insects. The non-ladybug kind, usually. They can trap and kill moths, mosquitos, ants, houseflies and more.

Fine, you say. They can cast a web in a corner of the garage and maybe, possibly, if I don’t think about it too much, I’ll allow one in the corner of the basement, somewhere near the dryer, where it’s mostly dark.

But if your basement and garage suddenly become free of creepy-crawlies, does that mean you’ll want ol’ spidey to set up shop in the kitchen pantry? How many webs is too much? What will the neighbors say?

Here’s something to consider: The bugs you see on occasion that scurry by from time to time are not the real problem. The spider only catches the occasional fly or beetle that walks into the wrong web at the wrong time.

The real problem–potentially, at least–are the the bugs you don’t see. Those can be roaches, termites, bedbugs and more. You’re better off calling an exterminator seasonally than betting everything on the little spider that moved in under the sink in the upstairs bathroom.

Send the local house spiders on their merry way. They can do a fine job keeping the insect population under control from a distance. Then call in a professional to inspect your home and take care of the extermination, if necessary.