Alyx Akers
Five College REALTORS ® | 413-320-6405 | AlyxAkersRealtor@gmail.com


Posted by Alyx Akers on 4/5/2020

Let's face it – hosting an open house may seem like a major hassle. Cleaning a home and getting it ready for an open house could prove to be costly and time-consuming. Plus, despite your best efforts to prep for an open house, there are no guarantees that the event ultimately will help you sell your residence.

Although hosting an open house initially may seem difficult, the advantages of holding an open house generally outweigh the disadvantages. In fact, there are many reasons why you should host an open house, and these include:

1. You can gain a competitive edge.

The real estate market is fierce, especially for sellers who are competing against one another for buyers' attention. Fortunately, an open house can help you gain an advantage over the home selling competition, as it enables you to show off your residence to large groups of potential buyers in a short period of time.

When it comes to selling a home, it helps to explore any competitive advantage that you can get. And if you host an open house, you may boost your chances of differentiating your home from the competition and generating lots of interest in your residence.

2. You can make it easy for buyers to picture what life would be like if they purchase your home.

A detailed home listing can make a world of difference for buyers. Yet a home listing alone probably won't drive buyers to instantly submit an offer to purchase your residence. Thankfully, an open house provides buyers with a stress-free opportunity to check out your house and determine whether to proceed with an offer.

Of course, during an open house, buyers can picture what it would be like if they own your residence. And if buyers like what they see, it may be only a matter of time before you finalize a home sale following an open house.

3. You can increase the likelihood of a fast, profitable home sale.

As a seller, you should strive to promote your residence to as many potential buyers as possible. With an open house, you'll be able to do just that.

An open house makes it simple to showcase your residence to dozens of prospective buyers at the same time. Meanwhile, the event empowers buyers to learn about your residence and gain deep insights into the condition of your house. And if a buyer is impressed with your residence after an open house, the likelihood increases that an offer could come your way soon that leads to a fast, profitable home sale.

As you try to sell your house, you may want to hire a real estate agent too. A real estate agent knows the ins and outs of selling homes and can teach you everything you need to know about how to host a successful open house. Perhaps best of all, a real estate agent can help you achieve the optimal results at each stage of the home selling journey.




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Posted by Alyx Akers on 3/29/2020

No homeowner wants to borrow more money. However, if you’re experiencing hard financial times or looking for a way to fund a home improvement project, there are ways to borrow money with your home as collateral.

In this article, we’re going to talk about home equity loans and home equity lines of credit (HELOC). We’ll explain how they differ and break down their benefits and risks.

Before the bubble

Before the financial crisis of 2007-2008, many homeowners were borrowing readily based on the equity of their home. Interest rates were low on home equity loans, encouraging homeowners to leverage their portion of homeownership.

During the recession, however, all of that changed. People owed more money on their mortgages than their homes were worth, and banks became reluctant to lend.

In recent, years, however, house prices have been creeping back up, and banks and homeowners alike have gained confidence in the equity of their home.

As a result, a growing number of homeowners are turning back to home equity loans and lines of credit as a source of low-interest financing.

So, what exactly are these loans and credit lines?

The difference between a home equity loan and a line of credit

A home equity loan is a lump sum of money that you borrow which is secured by the value of your home. Typically, home equity loans are borrowed at a fixed rate. Lenders take into consideration the amount of equity you have in your home, your credit history, and your verifiable income.

A home equity line of credit (HELOC) is a bit different. Like a credit card, you are able to borrow money as you need it via a credit card or checks. HELOCs often have variable interest rates, which means even if you’re approved for an initial low rate it could be increased. As a result, HELOCs are better suited for borrowers who can withstand a higher leverage of risk and variation each month.

Is now a good time to borrow?

If you’re a homeowner, there’s an understandable temptation to use the equity you’ve built over the years to your advantage. In some cases, home equity loans and HELOCs can earn you better interest rates than other forms of borrowing.

However, as with other loan types, it’s important for homeowners to realize that HELOCs and home equity loans are not the same as having cash in your savings account.

Another danger that borrowers face is the potential for foreclosure if things go badly. While most lenders won’t seek foreclosure after a few missed payments, your home has been put up as collateral for repaying the loan. Most lenders will choose to sell a defaulted loan to a collections company rather than seek foreclosure.

Ultimately, the best course of action is to avoid borrowing unless it will help you out financially in the long term. However, for those with high home equity who may, for one reason or another, need to borrow, a home equity loan or line of credit might be the best choice.





Posted by Alyx Akers on 3/22/2020

Becoming a home owner for the first time is an exciting milestone for Millennials! Going from renting an apartment to owning your own property represents a big transition from dependency to independence.

For many people, it even symbolizes making the leap from childhood to adulthood. Once you're a homeowner and a property taxpayer, there's often a newfound feeling of being more established and successful.

While home ownership may bestow upon you a boost in status, the added responsibility of paying for your own repairs, maintenance, and upkeep can take an unexpected toll on your budget. With a little extra planning, however, you can avoid many of the pitfalls of home ownership.

Looking at the Big Picture

Here's a misconception that sometimes creates a financial strain for first-time homeowners: "If we can afford to pay $1800 in rent, every month, then we should be able to afford monthly mortgage payments in that same amount!" While that premise may sound logical, there are a few crucial "missing pieces" from that equation -- pieces which could throw your household budget out of kilter!

In addition to the costs associated with purchasing real estate, such as a down payment and closing costs, there's also the matter of home repairs and property maintenance. Depending on where you decide to live, there could be other fees to absorb, too, including garbage collection, yard waste removal, and water usage. Other expenses that first-time homeowners may overlook include the cost of buying a lawnmower, a snow blower, yard maintenance supplies, tools, and furniture. That's why creating a detailed estimated budget, based on your income, debts, and anticipated expenses can help you determine whether you're truly ready to take the plunge into homeownership.

Enlisting Professional Help

A mortgage broker or bank loan officer can provide you with assistance in calculating your financial readiness for purchasing a home. A good real estate agent can also offer insights and guidance into the process of finding, buying, and owning a house you can comfortably afford. They should be able to provide you with vital information about school taxes, property taxes, average utility bills, homeowner association fees (if any), and any issues revealed in the seller's disclosure form.

One way to avoid -- or at least be prepared for -- costs that often accompany home ownership is to have a qualified property inspector take a close look at the condition of everything in the house from the basement and attic to major appliances and structural features. They can generally tell you whether there are any concerns about mechanical systems, water in the basement, foundation damage, issues with property drainage, the electrical system, potential plumbing problems, and dozens of other vital checkpoints

Whether you're a first-time house hunter or a seasoned homeowner, it pays to understand, anticipate, and budget for the many costs of being a property owner. While owning your own home can be a rewarding and satisfying experience, a guiding principle to keep in mind as you consider available homes on the market is "caveat emptor" (Let the buyer beware)!




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Posted by Alyx Akers on 3/15/2020

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Buying a home is an exciting time. As you start to comb through listings and decide you’re ready to take the plunge to purchase, you’ll want to pursue getting pre-approved for a mortgage. This way, you'll know how much you're approved for and can shop for homes within your price range. Additionally, having a pre-approval boosts your chances of having your offer accepted once you’ve found a house you want to buy. If you aren't already pre-approved, this delays your ability to put in a bid, which means someone else may be the one moving into your dream home.

To get yourself qualified for a mortgage, it’s a good idea to shop around for rates. Many people find they do best with a credit union, however, there are some drawbacks you might want to consider before making your decision of the type of lender you want to work with.

Credit Unions Require a Membership

Unlike traditional banks, credit unions aren’t open to everyone to use. To apply for a mortgage through a credit union, you’ll have to join as a member. The drawback is not just anyone can join. To qualify for membership, you’ll have to be affiliated with a specified organization or meet other designated criteria set by the credit union’s guidelines.

Many people find they are successfully able to locate a credit union they are eligible to join, but it’s not a given. To check to see if you meet the criteria for membership to a credit union near you, check MyCreditunion.gov.

Fewer Branch Networks

Credit unions are community-based non-credit entities. As a result, most of them are geographically concentrated and operate with fewer branches than traditional banks. This means your options may be extremely limited if you want in-person service.

Having a physical branch to visit when you want to resolve problems is a convenience many people often want when working with a financial institution. Consider how important this access to your lender would be to you. If you’re comfortable with strictly phone contact or online options (which might also be limited, depending on the size of the credit union), in-person access may not be an issue for you.

Limited Financing Options

Larger commercial banks typically have a broad range of financing options. While you might find a good rate at a credit union, you’ll typically find far fewer product offerings than you would at a larger bank.

Depending on your individual credit and financial standing, a credit union may not be able to offer you the best interest rates on a mortgage. Additionally, since they are smaller entities, they don’t always have nearly as much cash on hand as traditional banks, which means they might be limited in the number of mortgages they can approve at a given time.

When shopping for lenders to pre-approve you for a mortgage, you have many options between traditional banks, credit unions, mortgage banks and mortgage brokers. If you diligently do your homework, it’ll empower you to find a lender that can meet your financing needs.




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Posted by Alyx Akers on 3/8/2020

A home inspection is a key part of the property buying process. If you fail to allocate the necessary time and resources to conduct an in-depth inspection, you may struggle to identify various home problems before you finalize your property purchase. And if you cannot identify such issues, you risk buying a home that may require costly, time-intensive upgrades in the foreseeable future.

Ultimately, there are many things that you can do to ensure that a home inspection provides you with the insights you need to determine whether to proceed with a home purchase. These include:

1. Hire an Expert Home Inspector

A home likely is one of the biggest purchases you'll make in your lifetime. As such, there is no need to leave anything to chance, especially when it comes to conducting a house inspection. But if you hire an expert home inspector, you can get the support you need to conduct a comprehensive property inspection.

Look for a home inspector who possesses extensive experience. Also, you may want to ask a home inspector for client referrals before you make your final hiring decision. If you get in touch with a home inspector's past clients, you can find out what it's like to work with this professional and proceed accordingly.

2. Attend Your Home Inspection

You are under no obligation to attend your home inspection. But in most instances, it is beneficial to attend an inspection.

A home inspection usually requires just a few hours to complete, but the benefits of attending an inspection may last a lifetime.

For example, during an inspection, a home inspector may be able to provide you with property repair insights that otherwise won't be included in your inspection report. Meanwhile, attending a home inspection allows you to ask questions and gain the insights you need to make an informed decision about a home purchase.

3. Analyze Your Home Inspection Results

Spend some time reviewing a home inspection report – you'll be happy you did. If you assess a home inspection report closely, you can use all of the information at your disposal to decide whether to continue with a house purchase.

Furthermore, if you have questions about a home inspection report, don't hesitate to reach out to the inspector who conducted the evaluation. This inspector can respond to any report questions that you may have and provide you with information that could prove to be exceedingly valuable as you make your final decision about a house.

As you get ready to buy a home, it certainly helps to have a best-in-class real estate agent at your side too. This housing market professional can offer recommendations and suggestions about what to do following a home inspection. Plus, he or she can provide plenty of guidance at each stage of the property buying journey.

Take the guesswork out of a home inspection – use the aforementioned tips, and you can boost the likelihood of completing a successful property inspection before you finalize a home purchase.




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