Oct. 4, 2017

How Does an Energy Audit Work?

An energy audit is a worthwhile investment if you plan on owning a home long-term.

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Buying a Southern New Hampshire home?

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Today I’m joined by Spencer Triehy of Building Efficiencies to talk a little a little bit about home energy audits. A home energy audit is when an auditor comes into your home and measures the efficiency or inefficiency of the entire building.

 

They use a number of tools to do this. First, they use a blower door to test for air leakage. Then, they use a combustion safety analyzer to test the efficiency of your heating system. Finally, they use an infrared camera to find any voids in your thermal envelope. You want to make sure that the exterior and interior are kept separate.

 

The auditor’s high-tech tools
will solve any potential problem.

 

The initial audit is only $100 if you qualify at nhsaves.com. The $100 deposit goes toward any follow-up air seal or insulation work that might be needed in the house. They will also take the measurements and any deficiencies and compile them in a report via email.  The report will also tell you your projected savings, rebates, and out-of-pocket costs.

 

Usually, the payback takes a few years and once it’s paid off, you end up actually making money off of it each year after. If you have any questions for Spencer about energy audits or if you’d like to schedule one for your home, give him a call at (603) 718-1373. If you have any real estate questions for us in the meantime, don’t hesitate to reach out. We look forward to hearing from you soon.

Posted in Homebuyer tips
Sept. 21, 2017

Should You Still Buy a Home in Our Market?

It’s still a good time to buy in our market, but you must act quickly and follow a couple important guidelines.

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Buying a Southern New Hampshire home?

Click here to search for homes on the MLS

Many homebuyers in our market have found the home they want online only to find out it’s under contract before they even get a chance to see it in person.

 

This has a lot of people asking, “Is it still a good time to buy a home in our market?

 

To answer that question, you have to look back a few years during our most recent recession. During that time, homes weren’t selling and a lot of builders were finding it difficult to make a living. At the same time, though, the population was increasing.

 

What does this mean if you’re trying to buy a home right now? It means we’re still in a good market, but it’s also a fast market. If you look online, you’ll notice there aren’t a lot of active listings, but there are a lot of pending listings.

 

This year, we’ve sold 105% of the homes than we did at the same time last year, and last year we sold more homes than the year before that. Most experts will tell you that it will probably be a couple years before supply and demand equal out.

 

We’re still in a good market for buyers, but you must act quickly.

 

If you’re currently renting a house, you’re probably paying more than it would cost you if you actually bought that house. Rents are sky-high right now, and if you waited a couple years, interest rates would probably go up and reduce the amount of home you’re able to buy for the same monthly mortgage payment.

 

So, you may consider this a good market to buy in, but you still need to keep a couple things in mind.

 

First, make sure you’re ready to buy. Make sure you’re pre-qualified before you even start looking for homes. Your first offer is the most important one, and you may have to offer asking price or above to get the house you want.

 

Second, make sure you hire a responsive, professional real estate agent who’s accustomed to a fast market, such as myself.

 

If you have any questions or are thinking about buying a home, don’t hesitate to reach out to me. I’d love to help you.

Posted in Homebuyer tips
Sept. 13, 2017

How to Reduce the Radon Level in Your Home

Today, I’ve got some information about what radon is, where it comes from, and how to get rid of it.

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Buying a Southern New Hampshire home?

Click here to search for homes on the MLS

Many people know that smoking is the No. 1 cause of lung cancer. However, a significantly smaller number of people are aware of the second leading cause—which is radon.

But what is radon? Where does it come from, and how can we get rid of it? To help me answer these questions and more, I was recently joined by a special guest: Jesse Stufflebeam of Xtra Mile Home Inspection Services.

Radon is an odorless, colorless, radioactive gas, which comes granite deposits in the ground. From this granite, radium is produced and eventually turns into a gas called radon.

Radon gas can be extremely harmful. Approximately 21,000 each year are diagnosed with lung cancer as a direct result of radon gas.

So, how can you test your home for its radon levels? According to Jesse, there are two ways of going about this. The first way is to go to the nearest lab and obtain a test kit. This test kit will come with two vials which you will need to set apart by about four inches apart, open, and leave to sit for approximately 48 hours.

Once you have done this, you can send the vials off to your test lab. Because a trace amount of this gas is found in all homes, the important thing is that you pay attention to the amount of gas—which will be detailed in your results.

 

Approximately 21,000 each year are diagnosed with lung cancer as a direct result of radon gas.

 

Anything above 4.0 picoliters will need to be promptly taken care of.

The second method of testing for radon gas is by using a continuous radon monitor. This device will take measurements of the radon levels each hour. Once sufficient data has been compiled, an average will be calculated. However, ownership of this device requires certification.

So once your testing is complete, what steps can you take to get rid of the radon gas?

The first thing you’ll want to do is to contact a radon mitigation company, who will then come out to assess the basement or lower living area of your home. They will also check for, and fill, any cracks that may exist in your flooring.

Also, if you have a sump pump, they will likely fit it with a special lid to avoid further radon coming up from the ground.

Next, they will install a mitigation system—a 4-inch pipe that goes into the ground and connects to a fan that will pump radon gas out of your home. Following installation, the radon gas levels in your home should be normal within about four days.

However, after 10 years have passed from the time you installed your system, you will want to conduct another radon test to be safe.

For more information about radon gas, visit www.EPA.gov/Radon.

If you have any other questions or would like more information, feel free to give me a call or send me an email. I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Posted in Home Maintenance
Aug. 17, 2017

5 Costly First-Time Homebuyer Mistakes & How to Avoid Them

Buying your first home can be very exciting, but many first-time homebuyers make a few mistakes. There are five costly mistakes that you should avoid:

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Buying a Southern New Hampshire home?

Click here to search for homes on the MLS

Buying your first home can be very exciting, but many first-time homebuyers make a few mistakes. There are five costly mistakes that you should avoid:

 

1. Starting the search process without getting pre-qualified. I’ve seen buyers find homes that they love only to speak with the mortgage company and discover that they don’t qualify to buy that home. Speaking to your mortgage person and getting pre-qualified prior to your home search is an important first step.

 

2. Buying a home without considering your future needs. You never want to spend more than you need to on a home. You also don’t want to buy more home than you need, or less than you might need. It’s important to think three years down the road. Most people own homes for between three and seven years. If you buy less home than you need, then it could be expensive to sell and buy another home when making that purchase.

 

3. Trying to navigate the process without an experienced buyer’s agent.Think of it this way: If you are entering an expensive race car in a race, would you hire a new, part-time mechanic or an experienced, full-time mechanic? You need a full-time, experienced buyer’s agent to guide you through this process. The good news is that working with a buyer’s agent won’t cost you any money in most cases, as the buyer’s agent is usually paid by the seller.  

 

Make sure you get pre-qualified before you start looking at homes.

 

4. Paying for a professional home inspection without taking advantage of the inspection report. Inspections provide critical information about what’s wrong with the house, as well as upcoming repairs. The report is a great tool to help you understand your home. Homes don’t come with an owner’s manual, so knowing what you need to do to maintain that home is important.

 

5. Spending money on an expensive item before closing. Your interest rate and your mortgage are based on your FICO score. Buying an expensive car, furniture, or appliances could affect your FICO score and negatively impact your interest rate. In fact, a big purchase may even prevent you from closing on the home, so hold off on those expensive items until after you’ve closed on the property.

 

If you have any other questions about buying a home, just give me a call or send me an email. I would be happy to help you! 

Posted in Homebuyer tips
June 29, 2017

How to Get Rid of Private Mortgage Premiums for Good

Selling your Southern New Hampshire home?

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Buying a Southern New Hampshire home?

Click here to search for homes on the MLS

I recently met up with Charley Farley, branch manager at Merrimack Mortgage, to talk a little bit about private mortgage insurance and how homeowners can get rid of it. 

 

Private mortgage insurance (or PMI) comes in different varieties. For example, you pay it as a one-time funding fee for a VA loan. With an FHA loan, you would pay a monthly mortgage insurance premium. With a conventional mortgage, it’s just PMI. It’s defined as the fee the borrower pays when they buy a home but don’t put a full 20% down. 

 

In some instances, you can get rid of PMI and not have to pay it anymore. With the VA loan, it’s all paid at once in the funding fee, but with FHA loans, the PMI lasts for the life of the loan. The only way to get rid of PMI on an FHA loan is to sell the property, pay off the mortgage, or refinance the home. 

 

It’s easy to get rid of PMI on a conventional loan. Call the number on your mortgage statement and speak to a customer service rep and demonstrate that you’ve fulfilled three requirements. You have to demonstrate that you’ve made payments on time, you’ve made at least 24 payments, and that you have 20% equity in the property. A Realtor can help you verify whether you’ve got 20% equity in the home to save money on an appraisal. Otherwise, that appraisal could cost $400 to $500. 

 

This topic came from a really good question posed by Dave Alphonso, and since we selected it, we’ll send Dave a $25 gift card. 

 

If you have any questions about mortgages or financing for Charley, you can reach him at (603) 471-9300. If you have any questions for us about buying or selling a home in New Hampshire or about real estate in general, give me call or send me an email. I’m always happy to help!

Posted in Home Maintenance
June 2, 2017

How Should You Prepare Your House for the Market?

Selling your Southern New Hampshire home?

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Buying a Southern New Hampshire home?

Click here to search for homes on the MLS

What do you need to do to get your house ready for sale? I believe that you should pay most of your attention to repairs, decluttering and depersonalizing, and cleaning your house from top to bottom.

 

When it comes to repairs, a lot of people aren’t sure where to start. Should you remodel the bathroom? Put in hardwood floors? Add granite countertops? The answer really depends on the price range of your house. If it’s going to cost you more money to make those repairs than what you’re going to get back, then it’s not worth it.

 

Instead, focus on repairs that you might have neglected over the years. Take a walk around the outside and inside of your house. If you have stained carpeting, replace it. If the walls are scratched, consider painting. Keep a list of everything you need to do and start early so that if you need any help, you have plenty of time to hire someone.

 

It’s a really good idea to have a schedule for repairs. If you leave unlimited time to the work done, then you will probably take that time.

 

Next, you need to depersonalize and declutter your home. The goal is to make your house look like you don’t live there. Take down personal photos so that people can picture themselves and their family in your home. 

 

Take a look at your decor. Remember, the decor that’s appealing to you may not appeal to everyone, so consider packing some things up. Clear off your kitchen and bathroom counters and consider putting away your winter or summer clothes. Even a big closet can feel small if there are a lot of clothes in there. You have to pack anyway, so save yourself some time and put certain items away now.

 

Finally, clean your house from top to bottom. This is the most important part of preparing your house for the market. Pay attention to the kitchen and the bathrooms, and make sure that your windows are crystal clear.

 

Many people think they can handle cleaning on their own, but it can be well worth the money to hire a professional cleaning service. Hiring a professional also takes some of the stress out of those last-minute preparations. 

 

If you have any questions about this or any other topic, please don’t hesitate to call me. I look forward to hearing from you.

Posted in Home Maintenance
May 10, 2017

10 Tips for Buying a Home in Our Seller’s Market

Selling your Southern New Hampshire home?

Click here to get a free home value report

Buying a Southern New Hampshire home?

Click here to search for homes on the MLS

Southern New Hampshire is experiencing one of the hottest real estate markets in recent history due to low inventory. There is a lot more demand than there is supply, giving sellers all the negotiating power. So what’s a buyer to do?

 

It’s not always about offering the highest price. Don’t get me wrong, the offer needs to be strong, but coming in with favorable terms for the seller can improve your position over a buyer who’s coming in with a slightly higher offer. That being said, I have a few tips you can use if you’re looking to buy a home in this seller’s market:

 

  1. Be financially ready.You need to have a pre-qualification letter.  Many offers get overlooked because the buyer is not yet qualified.
  2. Consider your loan type. Conventional loans are considered a little less risky than an FHA loan. When viewed side by side, the offer with the conventional loan will have the edge.
  3. Shorten your loan approval time. Once you’ve gotten a pre-qualification letter, continue to work with your lender to get pre-approved. A pre-approval means you can shorten the commitment time on the purchase of the home. It also shows the seller you are taking the necessary steps to get your mortgage.
  4. Consider pre-inspecting the property. If you can get the property inspected prior to writing a purchase in sale, you can omit the contingency for inspection on your offer. This will put you in a great spot compared to other offers with inspection contingencies.
  5. Waive the appraisal contingency. If you are comfortable that the price you’re offering is the price you’re going to pay, you can remove the appraisal contingency. If you can’t afford to do that, consider offering a premium above the appraisal, which means you’re willing to offer a certain dollar amount above what the appraisal values the home at.
  6. Earnest money. Typically earnest money is between 1% and 3%. Offering between 3% and 5% lets the seller know you are in a good spot financially.
  7. Consider non-refundable funds. If you’re comfortable with the property and your ability to get a loan, you may want to make your earnest money non-refundable.
  8. Favorable closing date. Find out when the seller wants to close and let them know you can be flexible. In many cases, the seller might not know exactly when they will be able to move into their new home. Giving them some flexibility will make them feel more comfortable with you as a buyer.
  9. The “New Love Letter.” For some time now, buyers have found that a letter or an email can tug at the heartstrings of a seller and maybe help sway their decision in your favor.
  10. Consider making a video. Pull out your cell phone and make a recording of you and your family. Let the seller know how much you appreciate the house and how you can see yourself and your family growing in the home. Upload it to YouTube and send it as a private message to the seller. This can make a real difference when it comes to being noticed.

If you have any questions on this topic or are looking to buy or sell a home, please don’t hesitate to give me a call or send me an email. I look forward to hearing from you.

 

Posted in Moving
Feb. 2, 2017

READ IF YOU ARE MOVING! 3 Quick Ways to De-Clutter Your Home

 

1. Have a Garage Sale: Before putting your home on the market, think about having a garage sale. There are more advantages than just getting rid of items that are cluttering your home, you'll pocket some extra cash to off-set your moving costs and it will lighten your load on moving day, which could save you even more money!

2. Ask an Expert: Your real estate agent will help you by doing a walk-through of your home to identify any problem rooms or areas that need to be de-cluttered.

3. Use Storage Services: Want a surefire way to make a Real estate Southern NHsmall room look larger? Storage could be your answer. Working with your real estate agent, you should determine which rooms would benefit from furniture storage. By eliminating large pieces, you will be able to open up your floor plan and make your house look noticeably larger!

Nov. 3, 2016

Southern NH Real Estate Lingo

Do you know how closing costs actually work? Or, how you’d use a CMA (comparative market analysis) to evaluate Southern NH real estate? And, can you decipher all of the abbreviations and acronyms, such as FDR, HOA dues and MLS?  There are many Real Estate specific terms and acronyms that can confuse buyers and sellers.

Purchasing or selling a home is challenging enough without having to go through the frustration of decoding all the complicated speak and legalese. If you brush up with a real estate dictionary before beginning your home-buying search or interviewing potential listing agents, you’ll gain valuable knowledge and save yourself a lot of time and confusion in the long run.

Here’s a quick cheat sheet of real estate terms every Southern NH real estate buyer or seller should know …

• ARM – This stands for Adjustable-Rate Mortgage, which is a type of mortgage where the interest rate periodically adjusts.

• BOM – The abbreviation for Back on Market, which means that a property which was under contract is now back on the market (contract fell through).

• Closing – When paperwork is signed by both parties finalizing transfer of ownership of real estate from Seller(s) to Buyer(s).

• Closing costs – These are miscellaneous expenses buyers and sellers pay upon closing; they usually include brokerage commission, escrow taxes, recording fees, etc.

• CMA – This stands for Comparative Market Analysis, which is a report of recently sold, comparable homes in the same market as the home you’re selling.  Agents prepare CMAs to help determine the appropriate listing price for your property.

• Contingency – The standard purchase agreement for NH contains several optional contingencies, or conditions, which must be satisfied in order for the deal to reach a closing.  Inspections and Financing are the most common contingencies, but Short Sale Approval contingencies are far more prevalent than in the past, while Sale of Buyer’s Home contingencies are less common.

• Contract – A fully signed and dated agreement between Seller(s) and Buyer(s) regarding the exchange of real estate for money.

• DOM – Days on Market.  This should be self-explanatory, but remember that it is less important exactly what that number is and more important how it compares to the DOM of recently sold properties.

• FDR – Formal Dining Room

• Fixture – Anything that is permanently attached to the home, such as door knobs, carpeting, light fixtures and landscaping. The seller’s removal of items considered fixtures by the buyer and viewed as personal property by the seller is a common cause of buyer and seller disputes. When in doubt, get it in writing.

• FP or FPLC or FRPLC – Fireplace

• HDWD – Hard Wood Floors

• HOA dues – Dues paid to the Homeowners Association (Lo dues would indicate that the HOA dues are considered to be low for the area – just make sure they aren’t too low!)

• MLS – Multiple Listing Service, which is an organization that compiles multiple listings into one report and distributes it to all of their realty members.

• Offer – The offer to purchase real estate made by an interested buyer.  In some states, there is a separate offer form, but in NH the offer form and purchase agreement are the same form.  An offer does not become a contract until all parties have signed & dated it and been notified of such.

 P&S – Short for Purchase and Sales agreement, or the contract between Buyer(s) and Seller(s) regarding the planned transfer of ownership for the referenced parcel(s) 0f real estate property.

• PSF – Per Square Foot

• Sale price – The actual price at which the property sells.

• SSFSH – Subject to Seller Finding Suitable Housing.  Seller hasn’t yet found a house they are interested in buying and may want any contract they sign to contain a contingency for them finding a home they want within a set number of days or weeks from the contract date.

Don’t let the hectic housing market overwhelm you. If you understand Southern NH real estate lingo, you’ll be more knowledgeable and better positioned to easily achieve your real estate goals.

If you have questions about any of these terms or want help achieving your real estate goals, call us at 603-821-1134 or email us at info@teamheeter.com for more information.

Posted in Real Estate Lingo
Nov. 3, 2016

Renters: Are You Ready to Buy Southern NH Real Estate? Pros and Cons of Home Ownership

If you’re sitting in your apartment right now thinking: I wish I could paint it, but my lease doesn’t allow it, maybe it’s time to talk to a Southern NH real estate agent about purchasing a new home.

However, before you rush off to the store to look at paint samples or, more importantly, sign on the dotted line of any mortgages, consider the pros and cons of buying.

Pros

  1. Financial Investment: Given the gloomy news on foreclosure rates across the country, it is easy to forget that buying Southern NH real estate is also a means of saving and investing.  The money you pay in rent to your landlord goes to your landlord; the money you put toward a mortgage goes toward building equity in your home.
  2. Pride of Ownership: By buying a home, you will be able to paint the interior walls any color, renovate to your heart’s content, put nails in the walls and know that it is truly your territory. As a homeowner, you have a level of control over your environment that renters lack.
  3. Putting Down Roots: Purchasing Southern NH real estate is a commitment to a community, akin to staking a flag in the ground.  You’re not just passing through if you own your own home.  Most mortgages are 15 to 30 years.  Certainly, you can sell before that time is up, but with closing and moving costs and an uncertain market, the era of flipping houses for fun and profit is at a close. Buying your first home may involve considerations on other long-term decisions such as where you want to raise your children.

Cons

  1. Additional Expenses: Even if the mortgage you secure on your home is less than your current rent, home ownership comes with a lot of extra bills.  You may not have considered the cost of yearly real estate taxes, insurance, repairs, and maintenance.  If your water heater dies as a renter, your landlord is required to replace it.  As a homeowner, you’re looking at the time and expense of getting it replaced yourself.
  2. Less Flexibility: Rental leases often include provisions for leaving before the termination of the lease.  So, if you’ve decide to accept a job offer in Paris, while you might lose some money in security deposits, you can sever your connection relatively easily. That’s not the case with a mortgage.  You are responsible for the payment on the mortgage whether you live in your home, rent it out while you’re in Paris or leave it vacant. Buying Southern NH real estate is a serious, long-term commitment.
  3. Less Time: With most apartments, someone else is raking the leaves, shoveling the snow, mowing the lawn, and replacing that broken water heater.  As a homeowner, those duties would fall to you or someone you hire to tend to those issues.

Whether you’re ready to stop renting and buy a home or you need more information before taking the plunge, we can help. Give us a call today at 603-821-1134 or email us at info@TeamHeeter.com.

Posted in Green Living, Renting