Posts

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Resolutions

What is your New Year’s resolution? Are you going to commit to working out more often? Spend more quality time with your family? Start saving money for retirement? Read one book per week?

If your 2018 goals include buying your first home, re-sizing, or refinancing, these should be your resolutions:

1. Find out your credit score and history;
2. Establish and maintain good credit practices (ie. pay your bills on time, monitor your credit report for fraud, close unused lines of credit);
3. Save a reasonable down payment for the house that you want to buy;
4. Find the right home buying team for you. Identify a realtor, lender, and attorney that work together often.* If the team know one another and work well together, the process will be so much easier and less stressful for you;
5. Get organized: gather pay stubs, federal and state tax documents, current photo identification, bank statements, as well as any divorce, bankruptcy, and investment property documents, if applicable;
6. Obtain a mortgage pre-approval; and
7. Be smart: do not make any large purchases or big changes to your finances.

Wishing you a happy and healthy 2018!

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Gratitude

“It’s so free this kind of feeling;
It’s like life, it’s so appealing;
When you’ve got so much to say;
It’s called Gratitude and that’s right.”

-Beastie Boys

We have so much to be thankful for this year: our families, clients, vendors, and colleagues. We very much appreciate your business, referrals, and friendship. Happy Thanksgiving!

Warmly,
Faye & John

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Falling into a new house

Doesn’t it seem like everyone moves during the spring and summer? Yes, more homes tend to sell during those seasons; however, there is no wrong time to buy and, in fact, fall and winter are excellent times to consider falling into a new home!

* You can celebrate the winter holidays in your new home;
* There is still more than enough selection of homes available;
* Sellers are more motivated to sell, especially if their house has been on the market for a while (which isn’t usually because there is something “wrong” with the house);
* You can take advantage of homeowner tax breaks for property tax and mortgage interest;
* There won’t be as much competition, so you aren’t as likely to get into a bidding war or to overpay for your new home;
* Moving companies tend to charge less in fall and winter, because they aren’t as busy;
* Your realtor will likely be less busy and can dedicate even more time to personalized service; and
* You will see your property at its worst, which is a hidden gem of information. It’s easy to make the house look pretty in the spring as flowers bloom, but wouldn’t you rather know that the heating systems, roof, and gutters are performing as they should?

As always, please feel free to reach out to us with any questions or concerns by email at faye@wjslegal.com or (508)319-1529.

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Real Estate laws: weird or true?

Laws are always evolving and changing. Some changes are fairly significant, like the child support guidelines taking effect next month, but others are slight clarifications of existing laws, like the one that we recently posted on Facebook regarding easements in condominiums; however, some just don’t make sense, like these real estate ones:

https://www.redfin.com/blog/2016/12/6-weird-real-estate-laws-that-are-actually-on-the-books.html

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“Can I Ask You A Question?”

Have you ever noticed that when a doctor walks into a room, everyone suddenly has medical ailments? The question usually starts with, “I hate to ask you this when you’re not at work, BUT….”

We have a sweet as pie cousin who happens to be a pediatrician. We try not to ask her questions, but, inevitably, small talk among parents often leads into something medical. As we kick ourselves for letting the words escape our lips, she is very always gracious to share her opinion and experience as a parent, family member, and (yes) pediatrician.

The same thing happens regardless of what you do for work. Everyone has a situation that they want to discuss or question that they want to ask. Like our cousin, we are always happy to help and share our knowledge and experience. So, before you ask, we will share the answers to our most often asked real estate questions:

“I heard that mortgage rates have gone up lately. Should I wait to buy or refinance a house until the interest rates drop?”

It is still a great time to buy a new home or refinance your current home. Yes, rates have increased very slightly over the last few months, but they are still really low at this point. We have all been really spoiled with the ridiculously low mortgage rates for the last few years. Have you ever asked your parents or grandparents about when they purchased their home?  They probably told you that their house cost $26,000.00, but also that their interest rate was 17-20%. With mortgage rates still so slow and such a variety of lending programs available, it is definitely worth exploring whether it makes financial sense to buy or refinance now, before the rates rise.

“Should I have an attorney review my Purchase and Sales (“P&S”)?

In a profession where our answer is frequently “it depends,” our answer to this question is it is very wise to do so. The most important reason is that, once it is signed, you have committed to the terms and cannot change them.

Most real estate agents use a standard form created by REBA, the Real Estate Bar Association of Massachusetts. Are the forms any good? Yes, but our experience guides anticipation all of the legal problems that might arise during your transaction and which cannot be added to the document by an agent. We attach addendum which offer important, additional protections, related to condition of the premises, delivery of Deed, survey review, potential defects to title, ability to obtain property and Title Insurance, damage to the property, deposits, contingencies for mortgage or sale of other property, and other important aspects of the home.

“Do I need Title Insurance?”
We often get this question at the closing table. Lenders typically require a policy for the loan and which is paid by the buyer.  An Owner’s title policy is optional; however, it’s one of the smartest investments that you can make in your home and it is reasonably priced, especially when compared to the cost of fixing issues that might arise later.

For purchases, we look at a 50 year history of the premises. Even the most meticulous search may not unveil hidden risks with your “title (aka ownership),” because those risks have not yet become evident by the time of closing. Some specific hidden risks that can be protected by Title Insurance are:

* forgery;
* fraud or mis-representation in connection to the execution of the documents;
* undue pressure on the seller or personal representative of an estate;
* false impersonation by people claiming to own the property;
* incorrect statement about the marital status of a Seller (which is more likely if the premises is being sold during a divorce);
* issues related to a seller who has passed away, including disclosed or missing heirs, birth of additional potential heirs after the creation of the will, misinterpretation of a will or trust, and estates which were not properly probated;
* inadequate survey;
* incorrect legal description;
* non-delivery of deeds;
* claims or liens not yet on record;
* confusion regarding similar or incorrect names;
* delivery of deeds after the death of a grantor;
* incorrect indexing at the Registry of Deeds;
* unrecorded easements; and
* zoning violations.

As always, please call or email us if you have any questions regarding this or anything else.