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.

Appraisal vs Assessment: What’s the Difference?

The difference between an assessment and an appraisal is significant. The two words are not interchangeable, contrary to popular thought. A look at each of these terms will show two very different looks at your home’s value.

An appraisal determines the market value of a specific home at a specific time. The appraiser determines this value based on recently sold homes within the past 90 days. They are of equal (or similar) comparison and are located within approximately one mile from your home. Adjustments are made for differences that might include location and square footage as well as the number of bathrooms.

An assessment, on the other hand is notably different. It is determined by the town or municipality to set property taxes. The amount of taxes you’ll pay is based on the assessment. But here’s the thing: the number is based on stats from previous fiscal years.

For example, a home sold in 2016 has a tax assessment based on sales from 2013 or 2014.

In a nutshell, an appraisal is based on very recent sale prices and are used to determine value. Assessments are based on the past and are specifically used for taxes.

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.

Tax Advantages of Your Mortgage

It’s tax time already. Although we get a few extra days with this year’s tax deadline falling on April 18th, we’re only a month away. Today we’re discussing the tax advantages and incentives that come with owning a mortgaged home.
If you have recently purchased or are planing to buy a new home, you may not be aware of the significant tax breaks that come from your mortgage and your home itself.
One of the largest tax breaks for homeowners is the
deduction of interest paid for the year. By now, you should have received documentation from your lender indicating the total interest you’ve paid.
Have you recently refinanced? There is a tax benefit. Because you pay more interest than principal in your first few years of a new mortgage, your deductions are higher.
Your property taxes are also a major deduction, especially if you are in a highly taxed city or town. This also applies to homeowners without a mortgage to pay.
Home improvement costs may lead to additional tax breaks. Look for the Energy Star logo on new appliances in your home. Energy-saving water heaters, windows, doors and more may give you a bigger tax break than you had imagined. Check out the Energy Star website to see which changes to your home are tax deductible.
I strongly recommend you meet with a tax professional to understand the opportunities for tax deductions and learn of other breaks you may qualify for as a homeowner. Need a recommendation? I have someone I trust who can help. Call me at 617-965-1236 for the referral or to answer any mortgage-related questions.
Ready to purchase a new home or refinance the one you own? Please get in touch and I’ll be happy to help guide you through the process. I look forward to speaking with you.

March’s Home Improver
When Should I Seed My Lawn?
A beautiful, green, well-kept lawn makes your home more attractive to potential buyers while becoming the envy of your neighbors who struggle with patchy grass that just can’t compete.
Here are some grass-growing secrets that can help you upgrade your home’s curb appeal.
1. When is the best time to seed my lawn? You would think it would be right now, with the first day of spring just a few days away. Typically, the best time to seed a lawn is in the fall. This is due to cooling temperatures and soil that isn’t too moist from melting snow and seasonal rains.
2. What problems may I run into by seeding now? Cool soil temperatures can slow or prevent seed germination. Springtime weeds can sometimes be a cause for concern.
3. Can I use a weed killer? Bad idea. Liquid and granular weed preventers can prevent germination and kill immature seedlings. In effect, you’re killing weeds and your grass at the same time. The rule of thumb is to work on weeds only after your young grass has been mowed at least four times.
4. What are my options for spring seeding? First, test your soil. Most turf grasses work best with neutral soil. Ask your landscaper to test it before planting. If it’s a DIY project, you can buy a soil test kitfor under $25. Also, be sure to choose a grass that works best for New England climate and sun exposure.
5. How do I improve my lawn quickly before putting it on the market? Calling a professional is always recommended. An experienced landscaper has the knowledge to get the seeding job done with a better chance of success than a homeowner who is not working in lawn care on a daily basis. It may be well worth the investment if your current lawn is an eyesore and you’re getting ready to list your home.
6. What about sod? If you need a lawn in a hurry, sod is the way to go. Although the initial cost is higher and lots of watering is critical, your instant lawn is installed free of weeds and can be walked on very soon after it’s planted.