Brenda Cahoon - Burlington Ma Real Estate, Billerica MA Real Estate, Woburn MA Real Estate


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It’s not unusual for homebuyers to enter the market with some preconceived notions about the differences between an existing home and new construction. These may be formed by talking to friends and loved ones about their successes and challenges. Others come from media sources, including the seemingly endless stream of reality home shows.

Regardless of how your ideas have been formed, it’s in every buyer’s best interest to conduct some due diligence and explore the gaps between opinions, myths, and real estate facts. Weighing the following pros and cons of new construction may help you hone your understanding and make a truly informed decision.

1: Home Customization May Be An Option

It’s important to distinguish between two types of new construction. There is the type in which you work directly with a builder and architect to design a home unique to your standards and desires. There’s also the type in which the house is already built, and you would be the first occupant. The idea that buying new automatically delivers input into the design is only reserved for the former. If you want control from the drawing board to turning the key, that can certainly be achieved by enlisting an architect and construction outfit.

2: New Home Customization Can Be Expensive

While adding all the latest Smart technology and energy-efficient products can provide the quality of life you are pursuing, these items do come at a premium. Some estimates place Smart technology options at a 30- to 50-percent higher cost than conventional appliances and devices. New construction costs also hover at approximately $150 per square foot and can uptick considerably if you plan to integrate high-end materials or unique floor plans. Customization can certainly result in the dream home you imagine. However, there may be a nightmarish price tag included.

3: New Home Construction More Energy Efficient

Energy expert resources generally agree that new homes and those built after 2000, are widely more energy-efficient than those built in the 20th Century. New construction living spaces utilize and estimated 20 percent less energy, on average and new HVAC systems could outpace older homes by as much as 50 percent. That equals real dollars and cents savings on monthly utility bills and annual home expenses.

4: New Construction May Lack Quality Materials

It’s an open secret that the construction industry utilizes more inexpensively crafted materials than older homes. For example, many new construction homes present the image of hardwood flooring at first blush. But upon further review, the materials used are sometimes floating flooring or far thinner than yesteryear oak and other hardwoods. While new construction usually likes quite shiny, the materials to build it may lack the durability and luster of older existing homes.

5: New Construction Is A Double-Edged Landscaping Sword

Buying a newly constructed home often means that you will have pleasure — or chore — of designing the grounds as well. The upside usually involves planning your outdoor living space precisely the way you want it. Options such as stone patios, verandas, permanent outdoor cooking stations and garden placement, among others, are all on the table.

But the downside is that a new landscape will not necessarily enjoy the robust aged trees, large flowering shrubs and deeply rooted lawns of established grounds. That may seem like six-in-one-hand and a half-dozen in the other. Those are the little differences that you are tasked with weighing when making an informed decision between new construction and an existing home.  


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When it comes to conserving energy, homeowners wanting to go green often spare no expense. Here are a few ways to upgrade your home without lightening your wallet.

Smart Thermostat

A powerful method to control your power use while saving money on your air conditioning bills in the summer and heating bills each winter is by installing a smart thermostat. Utilizing a system that monitors the indoor and outdoor humidity and temperatures to adjust your system keeps your home on an even keel and your bills steady. Choose one with multiple sensors so that you don’t end up with hot spots or cold rooms around your home. You can adjust your thermostat manually, but the best way to make it smart is to connect it to a smartphone or voice-controlled device.

Motion Sensing Dimmers

You try your best, but there’s always one room where it seems the lights get left on more often than you’d like. The challenge is, it’s the same room that’s often empty most of the day, so no one even notices the lights burning. To combat this issue, replace the standard light switch with a sensing dimmer switch. That way, if someone’s in the room, the light turns on, but when there’s no one moving around, off it goes. And, when daylight comes in the windows, the sensor knows to keep the light off.

If you’re retrofitting an older home, replace pull-chain lights in basements and utility rooms with a motion-sensing light so that you never have to stumble around waving your arms in front of you trying to grab the string to the pull-chain.

Adjustable LEDs

On the subject of lights, Take it up (or down) a notch with a 3-way LED. The equivalent of a 60-watt bulb can adjust from soft, warm light to bright, daylight with built-in wireless technology at the sound of your voice when connected to your smartphone or smart home.

If you’re looking for ways to make your home appeal to a more energy-conscious set of buyers, try utilizing these inexpensive, smart home technologies.


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A neighborhood is a neighborhood. And a business district is a business district, right? Unfortunately, it's not so cut and dry. There are actually nine major zoning types in most areas. And these can impact things like home use, home value, and property taxes. Zoning can change over time.

Let's explore the five you're most likely to encounter. 

1. Commercial

Generally, this property is intended exclusively for money-making purposes.

Commercial zoning has several sub-categories that may define how the land can be used. This varies by city but may include:

  • Office space
  • Shopping 
  • Night club
  • Hotel
  • Apartments
  • Certain commercial buildings may have added restrictions such as distance from a school or residential area. As a home-buyer, it's important to consider how commercial property near you is zoned. For example, if an apartment complex may go up in that vacant lot down the street someday, this may impact whether you want to move here now.

    2. Residential

    Residential zoning can include a wide variety of housing types:

  • Single-family
  • Duplexes
  • In-law units
  • Garage apartment rentals
  • Trailer parks
  • Condos
  • Tiny homes
  • Home-based businesses
  • Whether these are allowed depends on local and community codes. For example, many city ordinances may state that mobile homes are not permitted in city limits. This may impact tiny houses as well.

    Residential zoning typically prohibits "farm animals". So building a barn or keeping a cow in the back yard may be against the law. What is permitted may impact the community and home values change over time. So it's vital to consider.

    3. Rural

    Rural zones cover land outside a metropolitan area or in between towns. People of this property often have more control over what they do with their land. They'll typically pay less for land in these areas as well as fewer taxes. That also means that homes may appreciate less in these areas.

    But keep in mind, if rural land is close to city limits, it may become residential at some point. This may increase your home value because you now have access to city services. But you'll also see property taxes rise.

    4. Historic

    When cities want to maintain the charm of an older part of town, they may classify it as historic. If you move here, you will have to comply with rules intended to keep an original style. But as a trade-off, you may be entitled to grants and federal tax credits. If well-maintained, a historic home can be an exciting place to live.

    5. Aesthetic 

    Aesthetic districts are designed to maintain a unified aesthetic throughout the neighborhood. This makes the community more desirable. In theory, this keeps house values on the rise. They are often run by HOAs who may dictate for example:

  • Outside paint colors
  • Types of shrubs
  • Fencing
  • Mailbox style
  • Real Estate Zoning & Buying a Home

    Zoning is a crucial part of the home buying decision. It influences both what you can do with the property and how well the property holds its value. For more home buying tips, follow our blog.



    Ready to sell that home you've sunk your heart, soul and savings account into? Hoping to get a great return on all those green upgrades you had professionally performed? Don't rely on chance to get the ROI you deserve. Take charge of the sale of your high-performance home, and make sure everyone from your sales team to your prospective buyers have the full picture before you settle.

    Prioritize Your Green Upgrades

    Some home improvements pack more environmental punch than others, and projects that lower the costs of heating and cooling your home are biggies. Consider upgrades that will save both you and your prospective buyer money down the road, including:

    • Installing solar panels 
    • Replacing drafty doors and windows
    • Upgrading to Energy Star Appliances
    • Updated Your HVAC system

     These will all net you a bigger return on investment than replacing existing hardwood with bamboo, for instance. Think long-term savings when investing in green upgrades, and buyers will love you for it. 

    Select Your Marketing Team Carefully

    Everyone on your marketing team, from the person who appraises your home to the real estate agent who shows it should have experience with selling high-performance homes. These are the professionals who will best appreciate the upgrades you've made and how they'll benefit buyers in the long term. Even if you've chosen your sales team wisely, don't rely on them to ask the right questions. Come prepared with the right answers instead. Walk with your appraiser and point out the improvements you've made and why, and then show them the documentation. 

    Be Prepared to Prove Your Claims

    One common reason many homeowners perform green upgrades, aside from adding to their own comfort, is to boost their home's resale value. Keep this in mind when performing a home improvement that has any kind of environmental impact. Keep receipts and consumer information when replacing windows and doors. Keep the manuals for Energy Star appliances and be able to prove the R-Values on that new attic insulation. Your real estate agent needs to be able to see the whole picture to market your home most effectively, and your appraiser needs it to increase your appraisal value. 

    Don't Pursue LEED Certification 

    It sounds impressive, having your home green-certified, but the hoops you'll have to jump through may outweigh the advantages. Simply making savvy upgrades in all the right places and in all the right ways may actually be more impactful to a prospective buyer than claiming certified status. It will save you money, too.

    Don't improve your home more than you need to make it safe, comfortable and cost-effective for your family. In most instances, simple upgrades like the ones listed here will be sufficient to help you claim excellent returns on your investments.

     

     


    If you are thinking of buying a home in the near future, there’s one three-digit number that could be oh so important to you. That number is your credit score. Read on to find out how a credit score can affect you and the steps you can take to be sure that your credit is in good standing when you head to apply for a mortgage. 


    What Is A Credit Score?


    Your credit score is checked by lenders of all kinds. Every time you apply for a loan or a credit card, there’s a good chance that your credit score is being pulled to see if you qualify for the loan. Your credit score is calculated based on the information on your credit report. This information includes:


    Payment history

    Debt-to-credit ratio

    Length of credit history

    New credit accounts opened


    The areas with the most impact on your score is your payment history and your debt-to-credit ratio. This means that on-time payments are super important. You also don’t want to get anywhere close to maxing out your credit cards or loan amounts to keep your score up. 


    What’s A Good Score?


    If you’re aiming for the perfect credit score, it’s 850. Most consumers won’t reach that state of perfection. That’s, OK because you don’t have to be perfect to buy a house. If your score is 740 and above, know that you’re in great shape to get a mortgage. Even if your score is below 740 but around 700 or above, you’ll be able to get a good interest rate on your mortgage. Most lenders typically look for a score of 620 and above. Keep in mind that the higher your credit score the better your interest rate will be.    



    What If You Lack Credit History?


    Most people should get a credit card around age 20 in order to begin building credit. You can still qualify for a mortgage without a credit history, but it will be considerably harder. Lenders may look at things like your rent payments or car payments. Lenders want to know that you’re a responsible person to lend to. 


    What If Your Score Needs Help?


    It doesn’t mean you’re a hopeless case if you lack good credit. Everything from errors on your credit report to missed payments can be fixed. The most important thing that you can do if you’re buying a home in the near future is to be mindful of your credit. Keep an eye on your credit report and continue to make timely payments. With a bit of focus, you’ll be well on your way to securing a mortgage for the home of your dreams.        






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