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Is it Time to BUY or SELL your Home?   2 Local North of Boston Experts answer this question!

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Is it Time to BUY or SELL your Home?  2 Local North of Boston Experts answer this question!

 

Geri Farrelly, Broker/Owner of Farrelly Realty Group in North Reading and Tom Patch, Loan Office of Mortgage Equity Partners in Lynnfield know the local market and want you to be in the know too.

Tom Patch says, “Everyone can benefit from low mortgage interest rates!”

You don’t want to miss out on the opportunities available right now in the housing market.  Mortgage interest rates are the lowest they have been since October 2016.  Everyone can benefit whether you want to buy a home, sell a home, or refinance your current home.  This is a unique time in history where no matter where you fall in the housing market, everyone can benefit.

Home values have been appreciating for several years now. The annual appreciation rate has nearly doubled since 2012.  It is projected to dip beginning 2020 and not come back up until 2023, according to Home Price Expectation Survey 2019 2Q.  That means it is an excellent time to sell if you want to get the most for your home.

Mortgage Interest Rates are the lowest they have been in 3 years.  That means it is a good time to buy, sell, or refinance. A lower interest rate means a lower monthly payment and the ability to afford more home for your money! 

If you bought a home more than 2 or 3 years back and thought you didn’t want to move because you will never get a rate that low again, now you can move up to a bigger home and still get a super low rate.

If you already own a home and you don’t want to move, you should review your current interest rate.  It has been widely shared that 8.2 million homeowners now have refinance opportunities.  Anyone who owns a home right now should be contacting a loan officer. If you have a rate that is higher than 4.25% you can save money even with closing costs and the other charges associated with closing a loan, in most cases.

 

 “Rates of 4% and, in some cases even lower, create extremely attractive conditions for consumers. Buyers, for good reason, are anxious to purchase and lock in at these rates.”

--Doug Duncan, Chief Economist for Fannie Mae

 

Geri Farrelly, Broker/Owner of Farrelly Realty Group believes that the data (specific to North Reading) continues to show a very strong housing market

The North Reading Transcript has recently had several articles about the Real Estate market in general, but how does our Hometown North Reading market look?  The market from Jan 2018 to July 31st, 2018 to the 2019 market in the same time period was surprisingly similar. 

From January 2018 to July 31st 2018 there were 96 homes sold, and 30 condominiums sold.

From January 2019 to July 31st 2019 there were 101 homes sold, and 30 Condominiums sold.

The average days on market for single families in 2018 was 45.41.

The average days on market for single families in 2019 it was 68.27.

There was a significant increase to the days on market this year.  The reason for this is twofold.  List prices have started a little higher this year coming off such a successful/robust market from last year.  Secondly buyers were willing to sit back and wait for price decreases if they felt the property was priced on the higher end of the market. Also, buyers continue to be savvy, studying the internet and determining the home’s value prior to ever stepping foot in the property. 

“HOME PRICES ARE RISING!”-Geri Farrelly

In 2018 the average list price was $589,724.00 for single family homes.

In 2019 the average list price was $617,602.00 for single family homes. The average list price increased by approximately $28,000.00

In 2018 the average sale price was: $591,156.00

In 2019 the average sale price was: $622,168.00

An increase of $31,012.00, the increase appeared to be a steady climb as compared to last year as the prices where increasing at a much more rapid rate. A steady increase is much healthier for our community’s economic outlook.

The award-winning school system, amazing park system, the proximity to Boston and North Shore/New Hampshire Beaches, as well as the reputation of being such a great community which offers an excellent quality of life for its residents.  North Reading housing inventory continues to be low which leads to a seller’s market, as of today there is 1.76 months’ worth of inventory.  The market is balanced when there is 4-5 months’ worth of inventory on the market.  So, you can see we are significantly below the balanced market.  Which indicates it is an opportune time to sell, if you are thinking about doing so.

The combination of interest rates at the lowest they have been in years and a strong healthy real estate market make both experts say the answer is YES to the question “Is it the right time to buy or sell your home?”   The good news is there’s still time to make a move before the school year starts and the fall weather sets in. Maybe it’s time to make that change. Reach out to your realtor and mortgage loan officer today to get things moving in the right direction. 

 

 

Tom Patch, MLO#142695,  is a mortgage professional at Mortgage Equity Partners, NMLS#1936. 

Geralyn Farrelly is the Broker/Owner of Farrelly Realty Group, North Reading, MA License # 9533996

 

Tips for Taking the Stress Out of Moving into an Accessible Home

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Tips for Taking the Stress Out of Moving into an Accessible Home

 

Are you in the market for a new accessible home? Navigating the home-buying process can be stressful, especially when mobility issues are a concern. With a few tips and tricks, however, you can make your move so much easier. Here’s how to get started.

 

Take Some Stress Out of Your Home Search 

 

Before you find your perfect home, you may want to spend some time planning to reduce stress and tension for your family, and this includes the four-legged family members. Make the time you spend searching for a home and moving less of an issue by making pet care more simple. An automatic pet feeder is a perfect solution to keep those furry bellies full and happy while you are dealing with all the extra stress. Many of the top models allow you to adjust feeding schedules to fit your pets so you can manage their care and their weight with minimal effort.

 

Of course, you may also need someone to help you out with other pet-parenting responsibilities if you do need to spend a lot of time away from home. You can look online to find a dog walker who can drop in on your pet and make sure he or she gets some exercise during those hectic days. You should also ask your dog walker about additional pet boarding services, which can come in handy if movers will be in and out of your home. Moving with dogs can be stressful, but dealing with a lost or frightened pet will only lead to more tension.

 

Find Accessible Homes Without Spending Hours Searching

 

If you are living with a disability, finding a home with features that fit your mobility needs can feel like a hassle. Online searches tend to leave out filters for accessibility features, which can make shopping for a new home a struggle. That’s why working with a realtor is always a smart first move when it comes to buying a new home. Licensed local real estate professionals will have more access to pertinent information about available properties and can more easily locate homes with mobility features already built-in.

 

If you and your realtor are having a hard time finding a home with accessibility options, you can also consider looking for a property at a price that will allow you to make your own upgrades. With the help of an experienced contractor, remodeling for accessibility can be fairly easy and inexpensive for prospective homeowners. Plus, your contractor will be able to tweak these adjustments so that they fit your own mobility needs and lifestyle. You may even be able to factor modification grants into your remodel budget, which can give you more options for making an offer on your dream home.

 

Hire Professional to Make Your Move Safe and Simple

 

Helping your pets stay calm and comfortable during this big change can relieve some tension, but you also need to make sure your move is safe for you. If you are living with a disability, chronic pain, or mobility issues, packing and moving boxes can put a lot of unnecessary strain on your body. So, think about looking for experienced professional movers who can take care of all of those tedious tasks for you. They often bring their own supplies too, which can leave more room in your budget for other moving expenses.

 

You can use the savings to pay for other new home and moving expenses. You will want to do a deep clean of your new home to make sure it is free of any allergens or pollutants that could make your family sick. This means stocking up on cleaning tools and supplies that will make the work easier, or you can think about hiring professional cleaners to help you with this chore as well. Professional cleaners take the work out of getting your new house clean and leave you with more time to relax and feel at home.

 

Moving with mobility issues does not have to be a hassle. You can plan ahead to make the whole process smoother and take the stress out of settling into your perfect new home.

 

Photo Credit: Pexels

 

“How's the Market North of Boston?”

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While no one can predict the future with certainty, most experts expect to see modest growth in the U.S. housing market for the remainder of this year and next. And Middlesex county North of Boston expects to mirror that national growth.   Inventory will remain tight, mortgage rates will continue to creep up, and affordability will remain a major issue as is the same in many parts of the country.

So what does that mean for home buyers and sellers? To answer that question, we take a closer look at some of the top indicators.

 

 

CONTINUED GROWTH IN HOUSING MARKET

 

There’s good news for homebuyers! Prices have begun to stabilize after the period of rapid appreciation we saw this summer. Nationwide, home sales experienced a slight decline of 1.6 percent in the second quarter, primarily due to higher mortgage rates and housing prices combined with limited inventory. And here in the North of Boston market, there were 3% percent fewer homes on the market and slightly fewer homes sold in June than a year earlier, according to our MLS information. This continues a trend in which home sales were flat or down in 11 of the last 12 months.

 

However, buyers who have been waiting on the sidelines in anticipation of a big price drop may be disappointed. Demand remains strong across the sector and prices continue to rise. The Case-Shiller U.S. National Home Price Index reported a 6.2 percent annual gain in June, a healthy but sustainable rate of appreciation.1

 

In its latest Outlook Report, Freddie Mac forecasts continued growth in the housing market due to a strong economy and low unemployment rate, which dropped to 3.9 percent in July.

 

“The housing market hit some speed bumps this summer, with many prospective homebuyers slowed by not enough moderately-priced homes for sale and higher home prices and mortgage rates,” according to Sam Khater, Chief Economist at Freddie Mac. “The good news is, the economy and labor market are very healthy right now, and mortgage rates, after surging earlier this year, have stabilized in recent months. These factors should continue to create solid buyer demand, and ultimately an uptick in sales, in most parts of the country in the months ahead.”3

 

 

INVENTORY TO REMAIN TIGHT, NEW CONSTRUCTION MAY HELP

 

Experts predict that demand for housing will continue to outpace available supply, especially in the entry-level price range.

 

“Today, even as mortgage rates begin to increase and home sales decline in some markets, the most significant challenges facing the housing market stem from insufficient inventory accompanying unsustainable home-price increase,” said National Association of Realtors (NAR) Chief Economist Lawrence Yun in a recent release.

 

"The answer is to encourage builders to increase supply, and there is a good probability for solid home sales growth once the supply issue is addressed,” said Yun. Additional inventory will also help contain rapid home price growth and open up the market to prospective homebuyers who are consequently—and increasingly—being priced out. In the end, slower price growth is healthier price growth."4

 

With so much demand, why aren’t more builders bringing inventory to the market? According to the National Association of Home Builders, a crackdown on immigration and tariffs on imported lumber have made home construction more difficult and expensive. Those factors—combined with the rising cost of land and increased zoning requirements—have put a damper on the industry overall.5

 

Still, there’s evidence that a modest rise in the rate of new building projects may be on the way. Freddie Mac predicts new housing construction will increase slightly after a stall last quarter.2 And a recent report by Freedonia Focus Reports forecasts an annual increase in housing starts of 2.4 percent through 2022, led by an uptick in single-family homes.6 The boost in inventory should help drive sales growth and relieve some of the pent-up demand in tight markets.

 

While the current lack of inventory is generally preferred by sellers because it means less competition, a combination of high prices and rising interest rates has narrowed the pool of potential buyers who can afford to enter the market. Sellers should seek out real estate agents who utilize technologically-advanced marketing tactics to reach qualified buyers in their area. 

 

 

AFFORDABILITY REACHES LOWEST LEVEL IN A DECADE

 

According to a recent report by Morgan Stanley, Americans are paying the most in monthly mortgage payments relative to their incomes since 2008.7 And prices aren’t expected to come down any time soon.

 

"We believe that the current supply and demand environment will continue to push home prices higher, just at a decelerating pace," said John Egan, Morgan Stanley’s Co-Head of U.S. Housing Strategy.

 

Fortunately, economists aren’t concerned about affordability levels triggering another housing crisis, as lending standards are much higher today than they were during the run-up before the recession. According to credit reporting agency TransUnion, the share of homeowners who made mortgage payments more than 60-days past due fell in the second quarter to 1.7 percent, the lowest level since the market crash.7

 

NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun agreed with this assessment in a recent statement. “Over the past 10 years, prudent policy reforms and consumer protections have strengthened lending standards and eliminated loose credit, as evidenced by the higher than normal credit scores of those who are able to obtain a mortgage and near record-low defaults and foreclosures, which contributed to the last recession.”4

 

 

MORTGAGE RATES EXPECTED TO CONTINUE RISING

 

The Federal Reserve has taken measures to help keep the housing market—and the overall economy—from overheating. It has raised interest rates twice this year so far, causing mortgage rates to surge in the first half of the year.

 

Economists predict that the rise in mortgage rates will continue at a more gradual rate through this year and next. The U.S. weekly average mortgage rate rose from 3.99 percent in the first week of January to as high as 4.66 percent in May. Freddy Mac forecasts an average rate of 4.6 percent for 2018 and 5.1 percent in 2019.2

 

The good news is, mortgage rates still remain near historic lows and a whopping 14 points below the recorded high of 18.63 percent in the early 1980s.8 Buyers who have been on the fence may want to act soon to lock in an affordable interest rate ... before rates climb higher.

 

"Some consumers may be thinking that because mortgage rates are higher than they were a year ago, maybe I should just wait until rates fall down again," said NAR’s Chief Economist Lawrence Yun in a recent speech. "Well, they will be waiting forever."9

 

 

WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN FOR ME?

 

If you’ve been waiting to buy a home, you may want to act now. A shortage of available homes on the market means prices are likely to keep going up. And a lack of affordable rental inventory means rents are expected to rise, as well.

 

If you buy now, you will benefit from appreciating property values while locking in an historically-low interest rate on your mortgage. Waiting to buy could mean paying more for your home as prices increase and paying higher interest on your mortgage as rates continue to rise.

 

And if you’re in the market to sell your home, there’s no need to wait any longer. Prices have begun to stabilize, and rising interest rates could decrease the number of available buyers for your home. Act now to take advantage of this strong seller’s market.

 

 

LET’S GET MOVING

 

While national real estate numbers and predictions can provide a “big picture” outlook, real estate is local. As your North of Boston local market experts, Farrelly Realty Group can guide you through the ins and outs of our market and the issues most likely to impact sales and home values in your particular neighborhood.

 

 

If you have specific questions or would like more information about where we see real estate headed in our area, let us know! We’re here to help you navigate this changing real estate landscape. Call us at (978)664-3700. We would love to hear from you!
 

 

 

Sources:

  1. S&P Dow Jones Indices Press Release -
    https://www.spice-indices.com/idpfiles/spice-assets/resources/public/documents/766551_cshomeprice-release-0828.pdf?force_download=true
  2. Freddie Mac Outlook Report -
    http://www.freddiemac.com/research/forecast/20180827_strong_economic_growth.html
  3. DSNews -
    https://dsnews.com/daily-dose/08-28-2018/freddie-weighs-in-on-housing-market
  4. PR Newswire -
    https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/realtors-chief-economist-reflects-on-past-recession-whats-ahead-for-housing-300702632.html
  5. PR Newswire -
    https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/us-housing-starts-to-rise-2-4-yearly-to-2022--300711989.html
  6. Business Insider -
    https://www.businessinsider.com/housing-affordability-slowing-market-sales-2018-8
  7. Value Penguin -
    https://www.valuepenguin.com/mortgages/historical-mortgage-rates
  8. Times Free Press -
    https://www.timesfreepress.com/news/business/aroundregion/story/2018/aug/14/despite-prospects-higher-mortgage-rateshousin/476979/

Is it possible to cut your utility bills by $2,000 per year by using Smart Technology?

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8 Smart Home Technology Trends that CAN Save You Money

 

The ‘smart home’ is the new ‘internet of things’, or objects that can serve you better by communicating with each other or directly with you through apps on your smart phone. In the ideal version of the wired future, all of our appliances and gadgets talk to each other seamlessly.

 

What could living in a smart home look like? Picture something like this:

 

The lights in your bedroom slowly illuminate to quietly awaken you in the morning, replacing the typical blaring alarm. The aroma of fresh brewing coffee drifts in and stirs your senses. Once the lights are all the way up, the heating system kicks on, just in time to warm up your room so you’re not shocked once you crawl out from underneath the duvet.


When you step into the shower, it turns on automatically and remembers your preferred temperature and water pressure. And it will shut off right when you’re finished as it knows how long you take to bathe.

 

Once you’ve driven out of your garage, your home alarm system arms itself. And it will only unlock automatically when it “sees” and recognizes someone else from your family approaching through programmed in biometrics.

 

Do smart homes really work this way right now? Not exactly…while you may find some of these smart features in certain homes, we haven’t reached the point where every feature intuitively knows what you want and when you wanted. However, each year we’re getting closer and closer toward that shiny, idealized ‘Jetson’ future.

 

Here are some trends that we see for smart homes, many of which may also help you save money:

 

Smart Thermostats

 

Programmable thermostats that are synchronized with the clock have been around for decades. However, they’re often difficult to set and aren’t necessarily efficient; they simply turn on or off as programmed, whether or not you are there.

 

With the newer models, smart thermostats can be programmed to adjust the temperature when they sense you are present. And once you leave, they can kick back to standby mode so that you’re saving energy and money. Nest does all of this, and it also allows you to check your usage from your cell phone so that you can adjust the temperature remotely and save even more.

 

Smart Smoke Detectors

 

Having a working, effective smoke detector saves lives. But unfortunately, many of us still have those battery-run smoke detectors that make that annoying, piercing beep when their batteries are running low on power. And instead of replacing batteries right away, it’s often easier to pull them out and disable the detector (while risking our lives).

 

Many of the new smart smoke detectors, like the Birdi, monitor smoke, carbon dioxide, as well as air quality. With this new sensor technology, they know the difference between a real fire and burnt toast.

 

Smart Sprinkler Control

 

Weather in our area is predictably unpredictable. Often, especially during the summer months, we fall into a drought. But then we might have one season that brings extreme amounts of rain.

 

A smart sprinkler controller like Rachio Iro can not only help save you lots of money on your water bill but also help protect our precious resources.

 

Programmable by computer or smart phone, it can automatically adjust how often you water your lawn based on the season and the weather forecasts. You can also remotely adjust the settings through a mobile app.

 

Smart Solar Panels

 

You can put the sun to work for you by using solar technology to power your home. It’s green and renewable, and can save you money over the long term.  Massachusetts has always been one of the best states for solar. Not only does the Bay State have the high electricity rates that lead to a short payback period for your solar investment – it also has a history of having strong solar incentives for property owners looking to own a solar panel system.

With smart solar panels, you can program the technology to monitor their performance and even turn them off in case of a weather emergency or fire.

 

Smart Home Security Systems

 

Home monitoring has become much more sophisticated in recent years. With the old-style security systems, you had to call in contractors to wire your home with monitoring sensors.

 

With new smart technology, you can simply place a few smart devices in your home to monitor movement and sense whether doors and windows are closed or opened. Some systems include audio and video monitoring, as well as sirens to scare off intruders. You get real-time feedback on security breaches through an app. And, because you’re alerted as soon as the system senses an intruder, it’s more likely that they will be caught.

 

Check out the best home security systems of 2018 as reviewed  by PCMag.com.

 

 

Smart Locks

 

Go beyond the standard key locks, which can often be compromised by burglars. The new smart lock systems give you more control over those who can gain access to your home.

 

Some systems, like the Kwikset Kevo, include encrypted virtual keys that you can program for access for a limited amount of time—for example, allowing guests over for a weekend, or cleaning service in during a specific window of time.

 

Other door locking systems include biometric technology. The Ola smart lock allows you to program your lock to recognize your family member’s fingerprints. Other systems use facial recognition to greet you and unlock your door.

 

The new August smart lock integrates with Apple’s technology so you can ask Siri to open your door for you.

 

Smart lighting systems and light bulbs

A well-lit home feels warm and welcoming, and good lighting can instantly increase the value of your home.

 

However, annual lighting costs can account for up to 12% of your overall electric bill, or over $200 per year according to Energy Star. You can easily reduce this expense simply by using smart lighting technology to add efficiency.

 

The Philips Hue wifi-enabled lights make it easy to add to your home without installing specialized equipment. Smart lighting dimmers and sensors can give you more control over how much energy you use and allow you to turn them on and off through your smart phone.

 

New smart light bulbs can give you control over the warmth or coolness levels of your lighting. With the Lifx LED light bulbs, for example, you can program your light bulbs to turn on or off when you want, to slowly wake you up with increasing illumination, or to change from daytime work lighting to entertainment-friendly shades for parties.

 

Smart Appliances

 

Programmable slow cookers and coffee makers are the quaint, old-fashioned versions of these home conveniences. Newer, smart appliances give you more control over how your food is kept and prepared, and make it easier for you to complete pesky household chores.

 

  • Newer coffee makers, like the Smarter coffee machine, let you ‘order’ your coffee exactly to your liking, adjusting everything from bean grind to temperature to strength to time that it’s ready to drink.
  • Smart refrigeration technology can help you store your food at just the right temperature, adjusting the thermostat during peak usage times. For example, the LG THINQ fridge can alert you via smart phone app if a door is accidentally left open.
  • Smart ovens can ensure that your food is cooked to the right level of done-ness, and alert you when your meal is ready to eat. June, a new counter oven invented by former Google, Apple, Go-Pro and Path employees will give you even more control—it will contain cameras, thermometers, and other technology to ‘learn’ what you like to eat and make menu suggestions.
  • Smart washers and dryers have customizable controls so that you can safely wash any type of fabric. Some units include controls to increase drying time to save energy. And soon, connected appliances from GE, Oster, Samsung, and other makers, will be able to re-order soap and fabric softener directly from Amazon, so you won’t even have to think about running to the store at the last minute.

 

Have you tested any of these technologies in your home? Did we miss any of your favorite home technologies? Let us know in the comments!

 

First-Time Homebuyer Tips: Eliminate the Risk of Submitting a Lowball Offer

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A first-time homebuyer may believe that he or she can submit a "lowball" offer on a residence, even if a house has been available for many weeks or months. However, the risks associated with submitting a subpar proposal are significant, particularly for a homebuyer who wants to purchase a top-notch residence as soon as possible.

Ultimately, a lowball offer may result in an instant "No" from a home seller. Perhaps even worse, the proposal could sour potential negotiations between a homebuyer and home seller and cause a property buyer to miss out on an opportunity to acquire his or her dream residence.

When it comes to buying a house for the first time, there is no need to risk submitting a lowball offer.

Now, let's take a look at three tips to help a first-time homebuyer avoid the temptation to make a lowball proposal.

1. Evaluate a Wide Range of Houses

An informed first-time homebuyer may be better equipped than others to provide a competitive offer to purchase his or her ideal residence.

For example, a homebuyer who assesses a broad range of houses in a particular area can determine a price range for similar residences. Then, if this homebuyer would like to submit an offer on a house, he or she can use housing market data to submit a fair proposal without delay.

With housing market data, a homebuyer can determine whether he or she is operating in a buyer's or seller's market too. That way, this homebuyer can leverage housing market insights to quickly and effortlessly put together a competitive offer on any residence, at any time.

2. Understand Your Finances

Getting pre-approved for a mortgage usually is a great idea for a first-time homebuyer. With a mortgage in hand, this homebuyer will be able map out a homebuying journey based on his or her finances.

To receive pre-approval for a mortgage, a homebuyer will should meet with several banks and credit unions. These lenders can offer details about a variety of mortgage options and help a homebuyer make an informed mortgage decision.

After a homebuyer is pre-approved for a mortgage, he or she can submit an offer on a house and understand exactly how much money is available for a home purchase. As a result, this homebuyer can put his or her best foot forward with an initial offer, thereby reducing the risk of submitting a lowball proposal.

3. Collaborate with a Real Estate Agent

The homebuying journey can be long and complicated, especially for those who are pursuing a house for the first time. Fortunately, a first-time homebuyer can collaborate with a real estate agent to obtain deep housing market insights.

A real estate agent is happy to provide honest, unbiased home offer recommendations. By doing so, this housing market professional can help a first-time homebuyer submit the best offer on a residence – without exception.

Ready to purchase a home for the first time? Use the aforementioned tips, and a first-time homebuyer can avoid the danger of submitting a lowball offer on a residence.

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