Monthly Archives: December 2014

Understanding the Difference Between a Mortgage Pre-qualification and a Pre-approval

If you’re in the market for a new home and you’ve been researching mortgages, you’ve likely come across the terms “pre-qualification” and “pre-approval”. While these terms are self-explanatory in some circumstances, they are quite different in regards to mortgage financing.

preapprovalPre-qualification: an Initial Look at Your Mortgage Options
The first – and easiest – step on the way to receiving mortgage financing to buy a home is known as pre-qualification. During this process you’ll meet with a mortgage advisor or lender who will assess your financial history including your current income and any debts that you might have. Using these numbers they’ll perform a quick calculation that suggests how much mortgage financing you might qualify for when you’re ready to buy a home.
Your mortgage professional will also answer any questions that you might have about the process, including what interest rates you may qualify for, how much you’ll need to invest in your down payment and more.

Pre-approval: A Conditional Mortgage Commitment
After you’ve been pre-qualified for your mortgage and you’re ready to start looking for a new home you’ll go through the pre-approval process. At this time your mortgage advisor or lender will take a much deeper look into your current financial situation, including pulling a credit report to assess how much risk they will have in lending you money. You’ll also complete a full mortgage application as this will allow your lender to get a conditional approval for a certain amount or range. Finally you’ll be informed about the interest rate and the terms of the mortgage once you find your new home and complete the purchase.

The Final Step: Finding the Perfect Home
Now that you’ve been pre-approved and have received a conditional commitment from your lender, you’re ready to find that perfect new home. On top of having a better idea of your price range and what you can afford, you’ll find that sellers are far more receptive to your offers as having a pre-approval signals that you’re a serious buyer who is ready to make your move.
When you’re ready to buy your new house or condo, your local mortgage professional is ready to help you learn more about pre-qualification, pre-approval and your financing options. If you need assistance in connecting with a lender, contact Fitzgerald Law Offices at 781-924-5326 or scott@fitzgeraldlawoffices.com.

Should I Consider a Warranty when Buying a New Home?

Are you buying a new home? If so, you’ve likely pondered whether or not you should invest in a warranty to protect your investment. Here are some of the pros and cons of buying one and how they differ from homeowner’s insurance.

home-warrantyThe Benefits of Buying a Home Warranty
Home warranties are an excellent solution if you’re buying a brand new home which has a lot of new appliances and fixtures inside of it, or if you’re not really the “do it yourself” type and would prefer to make a service call if something inside of your home breaks down.
For example, imagine that you have a home warranty that covers your central air conditioning system and one day it stops working. You simply call the warranty provider to book a service call and as long as the problem falls within the scope of your warranty the repairs are completed without any additional cost to you.

How a Home Warranty Differs from Homeowner’s Insurance
Home warranties and homeowner’s insurance are vastly different but work together to protect your investment. Insurance policies cover your home against unexpected damage – fires, crime, wind storms, water damage and more, depending on your policy. A home warranty tends to cover items inside of the home – the furnace, the plumbing, electrical wiring and appliances – and will provide you with discounts on repairs or replacement should the covered items break down or otherwise stop working.

Cost and Other Home Warranty Downsides
Of course, there are a few downsides to buying a home warranty. You’ll need to pay the up-front purchase cost of the warranty unless you’re buying a brand new home in which the warranty is included. You’ll also find that warranties generally won’t cover a lack of maintenance due to the previous homeowner, which can be a bit of an issue if something breaks down and you find out it’s not going to be covered. Finally you may find that any necessary repairs are actually less costly than the warranty itself.

Give us a call before you begin your new home search and we’ll walk you through the entire process. scott@fitzgeraldlawoffices.com or 781-924-5326.

Several south shore towns among nation’s priciest home markets, new report says

Cohasset, Hingham, Norwell, Westwood, Duxbury, and Milton were among the 100 most expensive housing markets in the country, according to a study by Coldwell Banker.

South Shore (2) With its scenic and historic sites, close access to Boston, and strong schools, the suburbs south of Boston have much to offer — including some of the nation’s priciest housing.

Just how pricey is spelled out in a new report by real estate giant Coldwell Banker. Its 2014 Home Listing Report found that Cohasset, Hingham, Norwell, Westwood, Duxbury, and Milton were among the 100 most expensive housing markets in the country, based on the listing price of four-bedroom, two-bathroom homes in the first six months of this year.

Cohasset, with an average price of $923,889, was 18th on the list, which covered 1,971 markets that had at least 10 of the designated-sized homes listed during the six-month period. Hingham, with an average price of $891,342, was 23d.

In Massachusetts, Cohasset was second only to Lexington among 61 communities listed, with Hingham fourth.

Others area towns ranked within the top 100 nationally were Norwell, at 61st, Westwood, 68th, Duxbury, 78th, and Milton, 99th.

Cohasset town manager Christopher Senior questioned the rankings, noting that the data are drawn from “one real estate company and only a certain type of home.” But he said they accurately reflect the reality that Cohasset is a “very desirable place to live, with a great school system, great community amenities, and a lot of natural beauty.”

Senior added that although it has high-priced homes, the town “takes its commitment to housing affordability seriously” and has worked to expand lower-cost options.

Seven of the most expensive markets on the Coldwell Banker list were in California’s Silicon Valley, led by Los Altos. The city ’s average price of $1,963,100 was about 30 times the cost of buying a similar home in Cleveland, the most affordable market. The listings were all drawn from Coldwell and other companies owned by Realogy.

Six other area towns ranked among the 150 most expensive markets: Sharon, at 104th, Scituate, 105th, Canton, 109th, Hanover, 118 th, Walpole, 134th, and Kingston, 148. Also rated were Easton, at 214th, Norwood, 272d, Plymouth, 339th, and Stoughton, 437th.

“I think it speaks very highly of our South Shore communities,” Davenport Crocker Jr., president of the Plymouth and South Shore Association of Realtors and regional vice president of Coldwell Banker in New England, said of the rankings.

He said the factors that are driving up home prices in the high-ranked communities, which include not only location but the strength of schools and local economies, are helping to elevate the attractiveness of the entire region.

As evidence, he noted that the median price of a singlefamily home in the overall 24community region served by his association rose 2.2 percent last year, from $340,000 to $347,750.

“This is a very advantageous market,” Crocker said, noting that the rise in prices is helping many homeowners who were previously “upside down” with their mortgages gain enough equity to sell their homes, which in turn provides more choices for buyers.

Penny Locke, vice president of Coldwell Banker in Cohasset, said she was surprised at the town’s ranking, but she believes the average price mentioned on the list was “about right on target.’’

“It’s a very desirable community,” she said citing the town’s waterfront, quality restaurants, and good schools and sports teams. “People just love to walk down to the little village and the kids go to the beach. And now we have transportation to Boston with the train.”

She said buyers of the pricier homes are “mostly families that are moving up from a smaller home,” in some cases from within town.

Despite its ranking, Locke said Cohasset still has “some affordability,” noting that there are homes in the $500,000 range that are attracting a good number of young condominium dwellers from Boston looking to relocate to the suburbs to start families.

Jim Wells, manager of the Coldwell Banker office in Hingham, said the high prices in that town reflect its attractive features, including its “beautiful waterfront and harbor, great access to Boston via commuter boat and train . . . a fabulous school system and a lot of history.”

Although that puts the town’s prices out of reach for some, Wells said that many of Hingham’s amenities, such as its waterfront, can also be enjoyed by people who live in nearby communities with lower-cost homes.

In Norwell, which had an average price of $723,547, town administrator James Boudreau attributed the high ranking to its desirable qualities.

“We have a very good schools system, we provide great municipal services,’’ he said. “It’s a very pretty town with a lot of open space. . . . It has a lot of things going for it for people looking for a place to live, raise children, and set down roots.”

Boudreau observed, though, that “You do worry about pricing people out of the community,” including those whose families have been in Norwell for generations. “We have to try and find a way to at least give them an option if they want to stay here,” noting the town has been pursuing ways to expand affordable housing.

Erica Rice, manager of the Coldwell Banker office in Westwood, said she is not surprised to see the town ranked high on the national list.

“Westwood is only 12 miles from Boston and it has excellent schools,” she said, adding that its proximity to highways and rail service, and its character as a “very family-focused” community also make the town attractive to homebuyers.

Rice added, though, that the town’s ranking does not tell the full story because “there are a l ot of a ff ordable homes i n Westwood.

“When you look at the median sale price in Westwood,’’ he said, “it’s $630,000, and we had 21 sales in the $600,000 range so far this year and 28 in the $500,000 range.”