Real estate blog

A Guide to Buying Your Massachusetts Dream Home in 5 Easy Steps

Buying a new home in Massachusetts can be a rewarding experience. But whether you are a first-time homebuyer or a seasoned real estate investor, having a step-by-step guide can make buying your next Massachusetts dream home less stressful.

The home buying process has changed significantly since the outbreak of COVID-19. It is important to understand what processes have changed and identify things you can do to help streamline your transaction and get you to the closing table faster.

Lisa Berry and the team at Simply Sell Realty is one of Boston’s preferred real estate brokerage firms that has helped hundreds of buyers navigate the home buying process.

One of the best ways to ensure a smooth purchase is by having the right real estate team in place. But that’s not the only thing you can do to increase your chances of having your offer accepted.

Here is a brief overview of what steps you should expect when buying a home in Massachusetts and how a real estate agent can make the process much easier.

1. Making the Decision to Buy

Taking the first leap and making the decision to buy a new home is always a big decision. But even after you decide that buying a new home is the right move, it’s equally important to decide how much home you can afford within your budget. This will also help once you start the preapproval process.

Affordability

Over half of home buyers find the property they end up purchasing online. Starting off by doing some independent research into what areas you like and what features you will need in a new home is extremely important.

After doing some initial searching, meet with your real estate agent to figure out just how much home you can afford for your given budget. Your realtor can also help make recommendations about key neighborhoods of interest.

Furthermore, they can help filter out properties outside your price range or lacking any major features you are looking for in a new home.

Pre-Approval

Before you get too far along in the process, it’s always a good idea to get pre-approved for financing before you start touring new homes. In fact, the recent pandemic has made sellers even more cautious in allowing potential buyers access to tour new properties without a pre-approval letter.

A pre-approval letter indicates to a seller that you have already started the vetting process for being approved for a new home loan. It will help you stand out as a serious buyer compared to others without one.

Consider leveraging your real estate agents network of preferred lenders to help you get pre-approved quicker, enabling you to view properties sooner.

According to the Zillow Group, the number of days the average property stays on the market before having an accepted offer has decreased from 30 days to 25 days. Getting pre-approved will help you move faster in this dynamic market.

2. Making the Offer

When you finally find that perfect Massachusetts dream home to purchase, it’s time to pull the trigger. Your real estate agent will tactfully assist you with structuring your offer to give it the best chance of being accepted.

How to Get an Accepted Offer During COVID

Keep in mind that as inventory and mortgage rates continue to remain low, sellers are receiving more and more offers. It’s important to be flexible and understand what factors may tip the scales in your favor. Often offers with a lower down payment and less sales contingencies are more enticing to a seller.

Your agent may also advise adding an escalation clause which sets provisions to automatically increase the offered price (usually up to a predetermined limit) if the seller gets a better bona fide offer from another buyer.

Real estate agents are expert negotiators so leverage their experience and skills to help get you the most bang for your buck.

3. Finalize Your Mortgage Application

Once you have an accepted offer, coordinate with your real estate agent, and finalize your mortgage application with your mortgage lender. In general, you will need to submit the following documentation:

  • Two recent paystubs covering the most recent 30-days.
  • The most recent year W-2(s)
  • Two years personal tax returns with all schedules and worksheets
  • Two most recent bank statements, sourcing any undocumented large deposits.

If you are self-employed, the following documents may also be required:

  • Two years business tax returns including all schedules and worksheets.
  • A YTD profit and loss statement and balance sheet
  • Three months business bank statements
  • Copies of receipts, invoices, or equivalent documentation verifying business activity.

Your real estate agent will coordinate with your loan officer to help make sure your application is on track while being underwritten. They will also help coordinate any necessary inspections needed to help get your mortgage approved.

Factor in Closing Costs

Getting a new mortgage is never free. It’s important you factor in any applicable closing costs into your budget. On average, the average buyer spends anywhere from 2-5% of the home’s purchase price on fees.

In 2019, the average homebuyer spent almost $5,750 on closing costs for a standard single-family home.

4. Completing Contingencies and Inspections

While your lender is finalizing your new mortgage, you will want to complete any inspections and satisfy any contingencies outlined in your offer to purchase.

Most of the time it’s a good idea to elect for a general home inspection to make sure there are no major defects with the property and ensuring it is safe to live in. Other inspections your realtor might recommend are mold, pest, and radon inspections.

While completing these inspections, your lender may also want to complete an appraisal of the home to ensure its value is suitable to cover the mortgage balance you are applying for.

Make sure to get a copy of any appraisal report and have your agent pull comparable properties in the event the value comes in lower than expected. This may be enough to have the appraiser revise their opinion of value and save a faltering deal from falling through.

5. Closing the Deal

After your mortgage application goes through the underwriting process and receives the clear to close, your real estate agent will coordinate a final walkthrough of the property as well as a day to sign all the closing documents.

Make sure to show up to your designated closing date on time with valid government issued ID. Your real estate agent will be there to help answer any questions or assist with any unforeseen issues.

After inking the new deal, you are officially a new homeowner. While your purchase may be complete, you will still have a lot to do including moving into your new home, maintaining your new home, and making any changes to the property that align with your personal taste.

This is yet another opportunity to lean on your realtor who may be able to provide you with recommendations on contractors and industry professionals from their preferred network.

Estimated Costs

Whether you are looking to buy a mansion in Wellesley or a bungalow in Bellingham, buying a new home comes with costs. Here are some of the costs to consider when buying a new home.

  • $300-500 Home Inspection
  • $300-400 Appraisal Fee
  • $325-400 Mortgage application Fee
  • $1,500-2,000 Loan origination Fee
  • $200 Title Search Fees

Other expenses to budget for and that often vary depending on your credit profile, the purchase price of the property, how much you are putting down, loan product, and property type include things such as:

  • Prepaid Interest
  • Attorney’s Fees
  • Discounted Points
  • Mortgage Broker Fees
  • Mortgage Insurance Fees
  • Owners Title Insurance Policy
  • Upfront Homeowner’s Association Fees
  • Prepaid Real Estate Taxes and Homeowners Insurance

Ready to make a move?

Whether you are looking to sell your current home or purchase a new home, take the first step and contact us. With over 20 years of experience, we will help you navigate the process with ease.

A Seller’s Quick Guide to Getting More Money for Your Massachusetts Home

Selling your home can be difficult but figuring out how to optimize the amount of money you will net from the sale might be even harder.

Home prices have continued to increase through 2020 and many experts agree that prices could continue to climb into 2021. However, increasing home prices isn’t always indicative of higher profits. In fact, home price growth may lower the number of potential buyers.

With the market changing constantly, it’s more important than ever to have the right team in place to help you navigate the sales process.

Recent data shows that owners who used a real estate agent sold their home for almost $77,000 more than if they sold it themselves.

Lisa Berry and the team at Simply Sell Realty is one of Boston’s preferred real estate brokerage firms that has helped hundreds of homeowners sell their homes faster and for more money.

If you are looking to sell your Massachusetts home but are having trouble figuring out just where to start, here is a quick guide that can help you earn more money on your next sale.

Price Your Home Right

Once you have made the decision to sell your home, the most important thing you should do is make sure you price it right. Pricing your home right, the first time will maximize the number of buyers interested in your property.

Start by talking with your agent about what you are hoping to get out of your home. Share any preliminary research you may find relevant.

Note that while many real estate listing platforms such as Zillow, Redfin, and Realtor.com offer a general ballpark of what your home could be worth, these numbers can fluctuate from site to site. Don’t just go with any ballpark figure. Instead, run the numbers.

Sit down with your agent and have them run a competitive market analysis to help determine your home’s current market value. They will pull comparable properties in your neighborhood and analyze key factors to help determine the perfect listing price.

Keep in mind a variety of factors come into play when pricing a home. For example, if you are moving to a new home but need to sell your current home first, lowering the listing price slightly may attract more buyers and allow you to close faster.

Prepare Your Home to Sell

Almost equally as important as figuring out the right price for your Massachusetts home is preparing your home to sell.

In many ways, the preparation phase helps set the timeline for your entire sales transaction. Thus, it’s important to discuss with your realtor the things you need to do to optimize your chances of receiving multiple offers.

Deep Clean

One of the simplest ways to get your home ready to sell is to roll up your sleeves and give it a good deep clean. This is also a great opportunity to purge and declutter. Make sure to rearrange any furniture or move anything that could obstruct accessibility.

Stage Your Home Right

Many sellers neglect to properly stage their home before putting it on the market. However, data shows that staged homes sell for 17% more on average compared to non-staged homes3. When in doubt, lean on your real estate agent to help you achieve that picture-perfect look.

Whether you choose to traditionally stage your home or go the virtual route, it’s also important to keep decor and colors neutral. Also, consider removing personal effects such as pictures, framed certificates, and eclectic pieces of art.

Review and Negotiate Offers

After your home is properly priced, staged, and listed, your realtor will keep you informed when new offers start pouring in. It’s important to review each new offer with your realtor so you can make a more informed decision.

Just because you receive an offer at or above your asking price doesn’t mean it’s always the best offer. Your realtor should educate you on the terms presented and how the offer fairs with respect to the local market.

Evaluate Contingencies

One of the first things you will want to evaluate, outside the purchase price, are any stipulated contingencies. If you are looking to move rather quickly or selling your home ‘as is’ it might not be optimal to accept an offer contingent on multiple inspections or repairs.

If the buyer does request specific items be changed or repaired, consider if it may be worth it to you to repair or if it may be more advantageous to negotiate some sort of seller’s credit.

Lastly, you should note if any earnest money is being offered with the deal. If a buyer is willing to put more money on the line it should mean they are serious about buying your home.

Cash vs Financing

When reviewing an offer, it’s important to note if the buyer is looking to pay cash for your home or if they will need financing. Roughly 87% of buyers use some sort of financing to purchase a new home.

If financing is being utilized, look to make sure the type of mortgage, rate, and payment align with reasonable market rates. Also weight these factors against any preapproval letter that accompanied the offer.

Another thing to consider is how much the borrower will be putting down for their initial down payment. Typically, more money down means a better chance they will be approved for financing.

If a buyer decides to use cash, expect less hoops to jump through since there won’t be a lender involved in the transaction. Subsequently, cash offers usually close faster than those requiring financing.

Close the Deal

After you have discussed your respective offers with your realtor, it’s time to accept the best one that gets you the most bang for your buck.

Keep in mind that the average cost to sell a home is usually between 5-6% of the purchase price, but this does not factor in any repairs, renovation, or seller concessions.

Once you have an accepted offer you will want to start getting your things packed up and moved out (if your home isn’t vacant). Make sure you also keep up with any minor maintenance that may need attention.

While you prepare to move, your realtor should be coordinating with you and keeping you updated on the sales process including inspection appointments, the status of the borrowers financing, and estimated closing date.

As your closing date rolls around, show up on time and with proper identification. The closing agent and your realtor will explain the entire process. After the paperwork is signed, you are all set.

Make sure to celebrate making it through the sales process, closing the deal, and selling your home faster and for more money!

Estimated Costs

Whether you live in Wellesley or Bellingham, there will be costs with selling your home. Here is a quick snapshot of some of the costs that go into a typical sale, based on the typical median home value of $217,000 in the United States.

  • $150-250 Cleaning Costs
  • $1,805 Staging Cost
  • $150-200 Professional Photos
  • $4,000 Home Maintenance and Improvements
  • $1,000-4,000 Title Insurance
  • $500-2,000 Escrow and Attorney Fees
  • $13,020 Buyer/Sellers Agent Commissions

Ready to make a move?

Whether you are looking to sell your current home or purchase a new home, take the first step and contact us. With over 20 years of experience, we will help you navigate the process with ease.