Sorry, Suze Orman. We Disagree.

Suze Orman is an excellent resource for people seeking tried-and-true financial advice. She’s a bestselling author, columnist, and speaker. She knows her stuff. But that doesn’t mean we can’t take issue with her advice.

For instance, in her recent blog post, Suze says this about refinancing:

“The big mistake is that after spending years paying down their existing 30-year mortgage, people then refinance into a new 30-year mortgage. This is so very wrong. Let’s say you have been paying your original mortgage for 14 years. Now you decide to refinance and you take out a fresh 30-year mortgage. Sure, the new mortgage is at a lower interest rate, but you just extended your mortgage-payment on this home to 44 years! That’s 44 years of interest payments.”

OK, Suze, we get it. What you’re saying makes sense — but only if you’ve been financially stable for quite some time with considerable savings in the bank. That, however, is not the world we’re living in these days.

A refinance relieves the stress of mounting debt that plagues so many people who have been directly affected by the pandemic, whether it’s job- or health-related. Because we’re in a period of historically low rates, a refi will beat any bank loan you could hope to get.

The people I have worked with are looking for the financial relief a refinance provides. No one should feel ashamed for seeking help, even if they have made poor financial choices in the past. We’re not all perfect. Not even Suze.

* * * * *

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.


Home Improver: Is the Water Table Rising?

This has been one of the rainiest springs and summers in a long time. What does that mean for the water table? Is it rising? How can it affect your home?

Let’s start with a definition, from our friends at National Geographic:
“Well beneath the ground, at various depths depending on geography, topography and weather conditions, pockets of water, called aquifers, exist. The water table marks the boundary between that available water and the dry surface.”

Water tables can rise when they take on more water than they drain off. This can be from unusually high amounts of rain, or excess water from higher elevations. They are sometimes above the level of basement floors or crawlspaces. This may put your home at risk for flooding.

Watch for lingering puddles in your yard after a couple of days of heavy rain. It is very likely that the puddle is the top of the table and has temporarily exceeded what the yard can handle. There’s not much you can do to stop the flooding once it’s happening, but there are preventative measures that can be taken.

Basement and foundation waterproofing professionals, as well as landscaping contractors, can help homeowners develop a plan to mitigate water damage. This can include the installation of drains and pumps to move water away from the house. Special paints and sealants also can protect the foundation.

Pandemic Babies and Divorce Rates

You’d think with everyone cooped up during the pandemic there would be huge spike in birth rates. But it seems familiarity breeds contempt, not babies, as birth rates have dropped and divorces have increased.

It may be a case of social distancing taken a little too far, but the baby bust maybe the result of spouses spending their free time binging episodes of Tiger King and The White Lotus while strategically avoiding intimacy.

According to FormsPal, a website that provides free legal forms, there are some very surprising facts about pandemic-era divorces:

  • At least 60% of the divorced have been married for no more than a year
  • Compared to 2020, the COVID-19 crisis has triggered a nearly 21% increase in divorce agreements initiated by couples in 2021
  • In 2021, around 7% of divorcing Americans have been unable to withstand even a month of marriage

There’s no question that the pandemic has created tension within some marriages. It’s bound to happen when job status, mounting debt, and both partners living and working from home cause cracks in the foundation of otherwise healthy marriages.

Working with Debbie brings a human element absent from online services. She’s empathetic to your situation and takes a holistic approach that considers your whole financial picture. That beats a computer algorithm every time. Computers don’t care, but Debbie does. It’s one of the reasons her clients trust her to take care of their home sales and purchases — and why they often refer their friends and family to her as well.

This pandemic has changed our lives forever. In cases where divorcing spouses need help finding new homes that make financial sense for both parties, Debbie should be your first call.

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.


Happy Labor Day

Oh, no! Summer is almost over and next Monday is Labor Day! Wasn’t it just Memorial Day with the whole summer stretched out before us?

I don’t know about you, but this pandemic blur has me questioning the passage of time. It seems frustratingly slow in our attempts to return to pre-Covid days, while time is flying by as we think about all the friends and family we haven’t been as close to the past 18 months.

We hope you’ve had a wonderful summer in spite of everything. If you haven’t had a chance to get away, even for a day or two, try your best to work in some downtime before the official start of fall on September 22.

Maybe a barbecue with a close group of friends? A day trip with the family? A surprise visit with a loved one you haven’t seen in months?

Enjoy the remaining days of summer while they’re still here. It won’t be long before sweater weather is upon us.


Home Improver: Make Your Own Honey (Yes, Bees Are Involved)

Deciding to be a beekeeper is a little bit like deciding to take care of other animals, but you have to consider what’s needed for successful beekeeping.

Do you have ample space in your yard for your bees? Are they allowed? Check your local zoning regulations first to make sure your city or town permits beekeeping.

Important: Get your family tested for bee allergies to prevent bad reactions.

Also, consider your neighbors. Are they bee-friendly? You can always bribe them with a lifetime supply of honey.

Speaking of which, to extract honey from the hive, you will need beekeeping tools. This fascinating video shows you how to extract the honey. This is the time of year when honey is typically extracted. If you don’t already have active hives set up, you can plan for a very sweet 2022!

Accelerating and Recasting Your 30-Year Mortgage

It’s tempting to choose a 15-year fixed rate mortgage for a few reasons:

  • It’s a lower interest rate than a 30-year mortgage
  • It’s paid in half the time
  • You build equity faster

There is, of course, one major trade-off: your monthly payment is significantly higher. Even if you can swing it, the extra cash you’re paying out each month can limit your ability to afford other items as needed: a new car, home repairs, health-related costs, unforeseen income interruption, etc.

For these reasons, a 30-year fixed rate mortgage is a safer bet. Yes, mortgage-for-mortgage, you’ll be paying a higher interest rate for a longer period, but your monthly payment will be significantly less, and that affordability makes it the more attractive option for most homeowners.

There are ways to pay down your 30-year mortgage faster. Accelerating your mortgage means you can pay more than your monthly obligation. You make your monthly payment and then pay more that month, with the second payment applied to reduce the principal balance of your mortgage. An extra $300 per month can typically cut months and even years off the length of the mortgage, saving you tens of thousands of dollars.

Another option is to recast your mortgage. Let’s say you get a large, unexpected bonus at work or win the lottery or inherit money from a long-lost relative. You could apply that money to your mortgage in a lump sum which will lower your monthly payment. Once the payment is made, your mortgage is recasted (i.e. recalculated) to reflect a lower monthly payment based on the new balance and reducing the interest you’ll pay over the life of the loan.

With options of refinancing, accelerating, and recasting, you may find yourself paying considerably less than you thought when you first purchased your home.

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.


Daytripping in MA

Ready for a Day Trip or a fun summer weekend with friends and family? Don’t let August go by without hitting the road for a fun trip that’s local and doesn’t require a week away from home or work. Here are a few suggestions for Day Trips in Massachusetts!

Salem is an incredible experience in summer. It’s an amazing walking city, filled with history (Salem Witch Trials, Maritime Historic Site and the real-life House of the Seven Gables).

Go back in time on a day trip to Plymouth. See Plymouth Rock, step aboard the Mayflower II and visit Plimouth Plantation, a living history museum that replicates 17th century colonial life of the Pilgrims.

Head downtown and explore the history, architecture, food, and attractions that make Boston one of the country’s best walking cities. Whether you’re walking the Freedom Trail or cruising around the city streets (and waterways) on a guided Duck Boat tour, there’s so much to do and see for kids and adults.

Enjoy the summer and be sure to take some time to relax and recharge by getting away, even if it’s for one really fun day.


Home Improver: Rain Barrels for Water Conservation

This feels like the rainiest summer in years! Why not take advantage of all the wet stuff falling out of the sky? If you’ve never used rain barrels to gather water, there are several reasons to consider investing in them.

Rain barrels collect water from your roof that runs from the gutter, through the downspout, and into your rain barrel. The collected water can be used to water your lawn and garden. Other used include wash your car, filling a koi pond, or cleaning around the house.

According to the Massachusetts EPA, rain water is “soft,” meaning it is free from minerals and chemicals like chlorine, fluoride, and calcium, which are often found in tap water. Rain water is ideal for watering plants, washing cars and windows.

Owning rain barrels saves you money on your water bill and teaches your children about the importance of conservation.

Feeling in a DIY mood? You can build your own rain barrel.

The Big Difference Between Market Analysis and Home Appraisal

Last month we talked about how recent bidding wars have driven up the cost of homes. This month we wanted to explain the important difference between a market analysis and an appraisal to help you understand why those two values may be very different.

Let’s start with market analysis, also known as as comparative market analysis or CMA. This is the process real estate agents use to determine the optimal price range for a house before it goes on the market.

Data from recently sold, similar properties in a given area, known as comparables or “comps,” are used by the real estate agent to determine a competitive price for your property. By focusing on sales from the last three to six months, the agent is determining a fair market value, based on future trending prices. They set their market value based on the speculation of what could be the best case scenario.

Now let’s see how home appraisals are different. First, it should be noted that appraisals happen after an offer is accepted.

A licensed, third-party appraiser with no vested interest in the sale of the property, provides an unbiased opinion of the value of the property based on historical sales data for the area.

Here’s the interesting part: both the real estate agent and the appraiser use largely the same sources for data. However, real estate agents project value towards the future, whereas appraisers focus on past history. You can see how it’s more likely for the market value to be set higher than the appraised value, though not in all cases.

The purpose of the lender ordering an appraisal is to ensure that the amount of money they are lending does not exceed the property’s value.

Because of this, the buyer would be responsible for paying out of pocket for costs beyond the appraisal. We have seen this often in recent months because of the shortage of inventory and the eagerness of buyers to take advantage of historically low rates for their mortgages.

Should you jump into buying (and possibly over-bidding) on a new home? It may depend on what you’re willing to sacrifice and what you can afford to pay.

Talking to a mortgage professional is recommended now more than ever. Let’s look at your options and determine a plan that makes sense for you and your financial situation.

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.


4th of July

Sunday is July 4th and with that comes a long weekend of family gatherings, cookouts, and fireworks.

Most businesses are closed Monday, July 5th, in observance of the holiday, because the 4th is on a Sunday. Had it been on a Saturday, your business more likely would have closed Friday instead.

July 4th Facts:

  • 12 of 13 states voted in favor of independence on July 2, not July 4, when the declaration was actually adopted.
  • New York didn’t vote until July 9th. Many patriots didn’t sign their names to it until August 2, 1776.
  • The Fourth of July wasn’t designated a federal holiday until 1870 and wasn’t a paid holiday until 1941.
  • The two founding fathers and political rivals — John Adams and  Thomas Jefferson — both died on July 4, 1826, which was our nation’s 50th anniversary.
  • Finally, ever wonder why we have fireworks? At the first official 4th of July celebration in Philadelphia in 1777, a cannon was fired 13 times, once for each colony. That night, 13 fireworks were fired off from the city’s commons. And the tradition grew from there to cities and towns across the nation.

Have a happy and safe Fourth of July!

Thank you for your friendship and your business!


Home Improver: Gather Safely This Summer

We are all pretty much done with lockdowns and social distancing. Most families are ready for a return to normalcy. In the summer, that means more backyard barbecues, beaches and vacation time with friends and loved ones.

With 70% of the state of Massachusetts having had at least one COVID-19 vaccination, we are one of the highest vaccinated states in the country. That’s good news for gatherings. But if like most families hosting events, you’re probably not going to ask for proof of vaccinations as you welcome them into your home. So be safe, but have fun.

Plan an outdoor event. Keep your guest list as small as possible. Arrange seating at a reasonable social distance. Unvaccinated guests should be wearing masks, especially around the elderly or unwell. The CDC has guidelines for unvaccinated people, but it doesn’t preclude them from participating in fun events — if they wear a mask. Here’s what they say.

Summer is in full effect. Enjoy your home and get back to seeing people in person. Need a quick tutorial on prepping your backyard for a party? Click here.

Don’t Be a Casualty of the Bidding Wars

Question: What is the primary reason keeping people who have been looking for homes from buying them in 2021?

Answer: They keep getting outbid, and it’s very frustrating.

Bidding wars are escalating prices well beyond their value, simply due to a lack of inventory and a growing number of buyers.

Sellers, meanwhile, are benefitting from desperate homebuyers who are tacking on $50,000 – $100,000 over asking price. If you are currently searching for a home, be prepared to bid more, but don’t give up too much or you may regret your impulsive extravagance down the road.

We are seeing determined but reckless buyers waiving contingency clauses like appraisals and home inspections to stay a step ahead of the competition. Sellers love this because it can sidestep potential roadblocks that may delay the sale.

According to globe.com, Boston had the fourth highest increase in home prices in March and it has yet to slow. The article does mention that this could be a plateau, and that frustrated buyers may eventually back down from high-stakes bidding wars, leading to a decrease in overbidding.

The one thing we advise is to get pre-approved for your mortgage, especially for first-time homebuyers. Banks have no obligation to lend you money beyond the appraised value, which means that even with approval, you will still be responsible for any additional payments due from outbidding your fellow home-buying competitors.

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.


Memorial Day

I have a friend who feels guilty about attending family functions and barbecues on Memorial Day. She thinks it’s a solemn day and should be spent honoring those brave men and women who sacrificed their lives while serving in the US Military. And it should.

But it also happens to be the last Monday in May, which is the unofficial kickoff to summer. So can we respect those who gave all and still have a pool party with burgers and dogs?

I asked a three-tour Marine veteran and close friend that very question. His response was a resounding “Yes, absolutely!”

He said our military personnel defend the country to allow us to have the freedom to celebrate and enjoy our lives with friends and family. Those soldiers who were lost would want us to be happy and celebrating together.

So enjoy your Memorial Day with your loved ones. Celebrate and always remember those who gave their lives for that privilege.


May Home Improver: Lily of the Valley

Have you met my friend Lily? She’s from the valley, but luckily she never picked up that California accent.

OK, fine, gag me with a spoon! I’m not talking about a person, it’s a flowering plant that blooms in spring. It is also the official flower for those born in May.

Known for it’s fragrance and bell-shaped flowers, Lily of the Valley is a common component to most bridal bouquets. And while it’s called Lily of the Valley, you’ll be surprised to know that this plant is actually a member of the asparagus family. But don’t eat it. It can be toxic when ingested.

Instead plant it in a shaded area of your yard. Most people like to plant them under a tree for easy upkeep in their yards. These plants are typically planted in the fall and will bloom when the weather warms up.

So to review, Lily is not a Californian. She’s a flower that’s related to asparagus. Do not eat, no matter how much you love asparagus. She looks great at a wedding, as well as in your yard under the shade of a tree.

How Inflation Affects Mortgages

Although it’s impossible to predict the housing economy, we can take some cues from what’s been happening and make an educated guess that points to the strong possibility of inflation.

So how does this affect your next home purchase? If you’ve been shopping you will have seen that there is low inventory across the market. Combined with mortgage rates remaining historically low, prices begin to rise. Buyers can afford to pay more because they’re saving so much on the low rates.

But what happens when rates begin to go up as well? With rates on the rise and mortgage payments increasing, your money is stretched to the point where you may need to settle for a less expensive home because the affordability has been affected. Your purchasing power decreases as rates rise,

I’ll ask the question I’ve asked in previous newsletters: What are you waiting for? Even if you thought a few months ago there was a shot that rates might drop even further, you were taking a risk. Now, it seems like waiting might lead you to regretting not striking while the iron was hot.

With the economy moving, unemployment dropping, and vaccines leading us into a hopeful post-pandemic world, there are good things to look forward to, even if we face inflation and a decreasing dollar.

If you’d like to chat about your options, please call me at 617-965-1236. If you’re going to buy this year, we should talk soon.

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.


Fenway Safety Guidelines

Tomorrow is Opening Day at Fenway and while fans will be back in the stands for the first time since 2019, Fenway Park will be operating at just 12% capacity to keep within Massachusetts’ COVID safety guidelines.

This means each game you attend will include about 4500 fans seated throughout the park.

There are some safety requirements as well:

  • Download the MLB Ballpark app which will include a health screen survey.
  • Masks are required for all attendees age 2 and above.
  • Tickets are sold in physically distanced “pods” comprised of 2 or 4 seats that allow safe distance between groups.
  • Tickets will be delivered via the MLB Ballpark app.
  • Fans will be directed to enter the gates closest to their seats, as labeled on their digital ticket on the app.
  • All fans must follow the guidelines for proper social distancing while in the ballpark.

*Source: MLB.com


March Home Improver: Washi Tape for Easter Eggs

Tired of dyeing Easter eggs in the same old colors you used when you were a kid? Here’s a new way to decorate eggs while keeping dye and vinegar off your kids’ clothes. It’s fast and fun and it’s called Washi tape.

Washi tape is decorative, textured paper tape. It feels similar to masking tape. You can find it at Target, Michaels, or Amazon. It is based on traditional Japanese Washi paper, which has been around for 1,300 years.

Getting crafty with your Washi tape means you can cut it into patterns and mix-and-match designs to create truly unique Easter eggs. It’s easy for any kid to try. Make a mistake? Just peel it off and apply new tape!

To those celebrating, we wish you a Happy Easter! Thanks for reading this month’s newsletter!

Is the Wait Worth the Risk?

Have you been closely watching how mortgage rates have been trending? Are you hoping for rates to drop even more before refinancing? Does it feel like now that they’ve been at historic lows, they’re bound to go down even further?

It’s possible. But it’s also possible the opposite is true and for all we know we’re at the low-point and rates could begin to creep up in the coming months.

There are those who are waiting patiently for a magical 2.5% rate. That number is firmly in their minds as the time to refinance, and even 2.51 is not enough for them to act.

There’s only one question you can ask yourself: “Do I feel lucky?” Well, do ya, punk? (Sorry, got carried away. That’s my Clint Eastwood impression. It’s much better when you can hear it. But I digress…).

You may feel lucky but the real question to ask is this: “Is gambling on your biggest investment worth the risk over something as low as an eighth of a percentage point?”

Here are more questions to consider:

  1. How much am I really saving by waiting and continuing to pay my current mortgage at the higher rate?
  2. How would I feel if I pressed my luck by waiting and rates started rising again?
  3. Is the investment in your home really the place to speculate when you’ve got an insanely low rate available right now?

Only you can answer these questions. Think about them carefully and if you’d like to chat about your options, please 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.


National Corn Chip Day

Is it January 29th already? That can only mean one thing: It’s National Corn Chip Day!

To start your weekend off  with a crunch, we thought we’d share a great recipe for fresh guacamole. It’s great to dip your corn chips into and it’s very healthy. Avocados are a superfood you should integrate into your regular weekly produce shopping.

With Super Bowl LV a week away, here’s a great snack to serve as you wonder why the Patriots can’t sign great quarterbacks like Tom Brady of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Anyway, here’s the recipe from Chef Alton Brown, starting with ingredients:

3 Haas avocados, halved, seeded and peeled
1 lime, juiced
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
1/2 medium onion, diced
1/2 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
2 Roma tomatoes, seeded and diced
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
1 clove garlic, minced

Directions:

In a large bowl place the scooped avocado pulp and lime juice, toss to coat. Drain, and reserve the lime juice, after all of the avocados have been coated. Using a potato masher add the salt, cumin, and cayenne and mash. Then, fold in the onions, tomatoes, cilantro, and garlic. Add 1 tablespoon of the reserved lime juice. Let sit at room temperature for 1 hour and then serve.

Go Pats! I mean Bucs!


January Home Improver: Fix Your Sagging Doors and Dirty Knobs

Sometimes the thing that’s nearly imperceptible to others is the only thing you see and it drives you nuts. You know what we’re talking about: that one slightly sagging cabinet door that is destroying your entire kitchen aesthetic. Your solution? It’s time for all new cabinets!

That’s one way to go. But why spend thousands when you can easily fix and restore your cabinet doors to their original look – and even dress them up a bit for a whole new look?

First, let’s look at that saggy door. The culprit is typically a loose screw that may just need to be tightened. But after a few days you may see the door sag again. That’s because the screw has damaged the wood slightly. A quick fix that might solve your problem is to buy a bottle of wood glue. Squeeze glue into the hole and then reinsert the screw. Close the door completely then reopen to wipe off any excess glue. Then close the door and stick a “Do Not Open for 24 Hours” note on it. Your cabinets should be aligned without sagging. In the event the glue isn’t getting it done because the old screw caused too much damage, try a thicker, threaded screw and repeat the wood glue method.

Now, what about those grimy old knobs? If you love them, it’s worth the effort. Remove the knobs and handles. Fill a bucket or small container with equal parts water and vinegar. Soak in the solution overnight. Then scrub and rinse before reattaching.

Bored of your knobs and in need of a fresh new look? You’d be surprised the difference it makes by switching out your cabinet hardware.

 

Top 3 Mortgage Predictions for 2021

I think we’ll all remember 2020 as one of those years where everything was pretty terrible: COVID-19, racial unrest, massive layoffs and furloughs, Kobe Bryant’s death, and a drawn-out, contentious election. By the way, whatever happened to those murder hornets?

On the positive side, there were stimulus checks and the lowest mortgage rates we may ever see. So what’s on the horizon in 2021? Here are the Top 3 mortgage-related events you can expect:

  1. Expect a bustling housing market next year. Demand will be high while inventory will remain low, unless a higher-than-predicted number of sellers put their homes on the market, which is entirely possible.
  2. Expect a small uptick in mortgage loan rates. With higher demand this is inevitable, but no one expects it to be very much of a bump. 2021 will still be a great time to buy and refinance. Right now, mortgage rates are at an all-time historic low.
  3. Expect the FHFA to increase its baseline loan limit in 2021 to $548,250. That’s up from $510,400. The high cost limit also jumps, from $765,600 to $822,375.

Given all the activity we expect in the coming months, now would be a great time for you to reach out and have a call with me to look at your options and set you up for a purchase or refinance.

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.


What Do You Know About Snow?

Looks like we’re in for a snowy holiday season! Here are a few things about snow you may not know about.

  1. It’s a myth that no two snowflakes are alike. in 1988, a Wisconsin scientist identified two identical flakes from a winter storm.
  2. In a snowstorm at Fort Keogh in Montana, the largest snowflake ever recorded was 15 inches wide.
  3. Each winter in the US, at least one septillion ice crystals fall from the sky. 1 septillion has 24 zeroes. That’s a lot of snow!
  4. The most snow in a 24-hour period happened in Colorado in 1921, when they saw over six feet of the white stuff in a day.

December Home Improver: Keep Your Home Free of Pet Odors

But one thing we don’t love is the lingering wet dog smell that remains long after your pet warms up in your home. Cats present their own indoor odors, especially around litter boxes. We wanted to share our best tips to reduce unwanted pet odors in your home.

  1. To reduce odors from rugs and carpets, be sure to sprinkle some baking soda before vacuuming. This will neutralize the odors and leave your room fresher.
  2. Clean your pet’s ears. If you are experienced at this, the effort is worth it. If not, set up an appointment to have your pet’s ears cleaned, which will remove unwanted scents from dog and cat beds, your sofa and carpets.
  3. If you clean your litter box regularly but the smell is still noticeable, try moving it to another room either upstairs or in the basement. Another tip: keep it in a well-ventilated room.
  4. Try an unscented cat litter with baking soda. Sometimes the fragrance of the odor-masking litter is just as offensive as the used litter itself.

 

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)

 

Thinking of Refinancing? Do It Now to Avoid Fees

As the U.S. slowly returns to work, analysts are warning of another possible wave of layoffs as businesses restructure in a post-coronavirus economy. You may find yourself or a loved one in financial difficulty — even if it’s a temporary situation.

In this case, when household budgets are stretched to the maximum, you have the option of requesting forbearance which can temporarily postpone your mortgage payments and those will be tacked on to the end of your mortgage term. Don’t mistake forbearance for debt

If you’ve been patiently waiting to refinance at the lowest possible rate, you should do it right now before they go up in December.

The government has taken a major COVID hit and it intends to recoup any lost funds by imposing a 0.5% new mortgage refinancing fee on December 1. If half a percent doesn’t seem like much, let’s put it in perspective: the average U.S. homeowner will pay, on average, $1400 for that bump.

Rates haven’t been this low since the 1970s (yes, 50 years ago). While no one can predict the future, it’s not a bad bet that today’s rates through November 30th could be the lowest you’ll see for a very long time.

Yes, it’s a short window, but it could be worse. The Adverse Market Refinance Fee was slated to begin in September, but industry pushback forced the FHFA to hold off until December. Consider this your window of opportunity.

Here are the rates right now (source: Freddie Mac)

If you’ve been waiting for the right time, the time is now. Get in touch and let’s look at your options. If you hadn’t considered a refinance but would like to discuss the possibility, please call me at 617-965-1236. I have been very busy helping homeowners save money and I’d love to do the same for 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.


Website Refresh!

One thing we’ve learned during the pandemic is to take a closer look at our marketing.

If it’s been a few years since you’ve updated your website you may find that it looks and feels dated. There may be some broken links, an outdated logo, and a need to add or delete services.

I love the new and improved Westchester Mortgage. It fits with my style and looks like the kinds of clients I love to help.

Have a look and let me know what you think! I value your opinion.

By the way, if you’d like a referral to my trusted marketing team, send an email and I’ll put you in touch with the best people I know to help you market your business.


September’s Home Improver: White Vinegar: The All-Purpose Cleaning Solution

Having company this weekend and need to clean in a hurry? No time to shop for products? Grab some white vinegar and get cleaning!

As a non-toxic, natural cleaning agent, white vinegar is great for little jobs where either commercial cleaning products don’t exist, or they contain chemicals that may be less eco-friendly or less healthy for a house with small children and pets. Always remember, as with any cleaning agent, do a spot test on fabrics.

1. Kitchen. Using equal parts water and vinegar, clean the inside of your refrigerator. You can even leave a bottle of solution in the door when you’re done. To clean your microwave, place a half cup each of water and vinegar in a glass bowl and run the microwave for 3 minutes. Then simply wipe away and greasy buildup with ease.

2. Bathroom. When paired with baking soda, you can remove all the nasty stains and odors from around the toilet and tub. It won’t have a negative effect on tiles, grout, and metals the way bleach does.

3. Bedroom. Mix white vinegar, rubbing alcohol, and some tea tree oil in a spray bottle. Lightly spritz on your mattress to help combat dust mites, mildew, and general odors. For a deeper clean, follow with a dusting of baking soda. Let dry, then vacuum the mattress.