Hidden Gems in Real Estate-What’s Not Included in the Listing Price

Pricing a home for sale is more of an art than it is a science.

dreamHome buyers should get beyond the standard information they search for on-line like square footage, number of bedrooms and bathrooms, kitchen design, etc. They should be on the look out for those hidden gems that may be undervalued (or not even included) in the listing price.

As real estate professionals, the ActiveRain Community sees a lot more homes get priced and sold than any other community on the internet. This makes us uniquely qualified to share with you what are some of the best Hidden Gems in Real Estate, those things that often get missed in the listing price but that can add tremendous value for a buyer looking for their next place to call home.

I joined over 1500 other professionals in our community who were asked what we thought were some of these Hidden Gems in Real Estate. It’s no surprise that some of us thought certain features in a home were a “waste of money” while others thought the same feature was “worth every penny.”

But at the end of the day, everyone was in agreement that certain hidden gems in a home that have the potential to add long term value for a buyer and my not actually be reflected in the selling price.

The results of the survey are displayed in the graphic below which allows a home buyer to look beyond the obvious things that affect price and identify those hidden gems that could add value to their new home.





Why Should I Get Mortgage Pre-Approval?

Few experiences are more frustrating than falling in love with a home that’s for sale and then discovering you can’t afford to buy it. The majority of First-Time Home Buyers need to finance their home purchase.  A consultation with a Mortgage Broker is a crucial step in the home buying process because you need to understand your purchasing power before you begin to look at homes.

What Is a Mortgage Pre-Approval?
Most Lenders will offer borrowers a Mortgage Pre-Qualification Letter or a Mortgage Pre-Approval Letter. But most REALTORS® recommend that you get Mortgage Pre-Approval before shopping for a home. A Pre-Qualification letter will state the amount a lender thinks you can borrow based on your income and your credit profile without any actual documentation. Mortgage lending standards have tightened since the housing crisis and all loans now require full documentation and verification of income and assets. Astute sellers know this and will only accept an offer from a buyer with a full Mortgage Pre-Approval letter that’s based on verified information.
Sellers aren’t the only ones who benefit from you obtaining a Mortgage Pre-Approval. You’re better off with Mortgage Pre-Approval for two reasons:

  • First, you’ll have gone through the credit check and paperwork requirements for a mortgage, so you’ll have clarity about your ability to finalize a home purchase. If the Application Checklistlender finds a problem with your credit or an error on your credit report, you’ll have time to fix it before making an offer.

  • Second, since your documentation will already be in place, a Mortgage Pre-Approval based on everything other than the actual value of the home you’ll purchase will speed up the process once you make an offer.

How to Find the Right Mortgage Broker
Your REALTOR® might be able to recommend a Mortgage Broker for you to interview. You can also ask friends and colleagues for someone they trust. You should check a Loan Officer’s NMLSNMLS license and read reviews online to be sure you’re working with someone reliable. As a First-Time Home Buyer, you should look for someone experienced with First-Time Home Buyer needs, one help you identify those loan options that fit your particular situation.

What to Expect From Your Broker
The best Mortgage Brokers take a collaborative approach with borrowers and take the time to explain all your loan options. When you feel your comfort level is right, your broker will check your credit report. You should expect feedback about ways to improve your credit profile that might increase your loan approval potential and perhaps improve the terms of your mortgage. You should expect recommendations for how to handle your money between the time you apply for a loan and settlement day. Your lender should provide advice about when to lock in your loan rate and discuss the pros and cons of various loan programs.

What Your Mortgage Broker Expects From You
Your Mortgage Broker needs you to be honest about your finances and responsive to all requests for additional information. They may seem burdensome and unimportant to you, but it is important to the mortgage approval process. The more cooperative you are, the easier the loan process will be.
Your Mortgage Broker will submit your application file to your lender of choice. The lender will analyze your documentation and generate a Mortgage Pre-Approval Letter based on your debt-to-income ratio and credit score.  However, you should also consider your budget and your own comfort level with a payment. There’s no need to borrow the maximum amount you qualify for, particularly if you know you plan to spend money on items that don’t show up on your credit report such saving for a college education(s), a new car down the road, or vacations.

Loan ApplicationYour careful planning and preservation of your emergency fund are important for responsible, long-term homeownership. In today’s dynamic housing market, First-Time Home Buyers can own their own home when they demonstrate the financial responsibility to deserve one.

CT Mortgage Broker With A Unique Advantage

I’m a Mortgage Broker with a Unique Advantage in the world of Mortgage Finance. The relationships I have formed with trusted lenders over the years means that I can get loans done quicker and closed on time when others may not be able to accomplish anything at all.
The majority of the dozen or so lenders I work with have Account Reps. When these Reps are really good at what they do, and you do a lot of volume with them, they will do everything possible to keep me and my clients happy. The #1 reason … the happier I am with their service, the more loans I will send their way… and the more money they will make!

Every Mortgage Account Rep is always vying for more business. The reason is obvious… they cooperationwant to make more money. Over time, true relationships are formed. I have done business with many of these reps for years and strong bonds have been formed. I know them professionally and they know how much I love my dog.

I wouldn’t try to count the cups of coffee I’ve shared with these Reps. Their message is always the same …When I have a problem with one of my loans, call them ASAP so they can expedite the problem. They always know…if they fix issues, I can deliver on my promise to my clients and that means more future business they’ve earned and deserve.

What Does This Mean To You?
 The relationships that I’ve formed over my 40 years of Mortgage Approvedfinancial service experience means that loans can get done quicker and, when glitches arise, loans can still get closed when the big box banks turn their customers out to the wolves.   

Luck O’the Irish

gold 4

May your blessings outnumber the shamrocks that grow,

May trouble avoid you wherever you may go.

May you pockets be heavy and your heart be light,

And may Good Luck pursue you each morning and night.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day


It feels like you have the Luck O’ the Irish when you work with a professional you can really trust.
One who will give honest answers to your concerns.
If you, or your friends, are ever in need of a professional mortgage advisor,
do not hesitate to give me a call. Licensed in all 6 New England states, NY & FL too. I’m here to help.

Thomaston CT Real Estate – Homes for Sale in Thomaston CT Eligible For 100% USDA Financing

Astute Home Buyers searching for Homes For Sale in Thomaston, CT are very interested in the USDA Guaranteed Rural Housing Development Loan.
They find USDA Guaranteed RHD Mortgage particularly attractive because:
usda 3•  No Down Payment is Required
•  Buyers Have the ability to finance 100% of the home’s appraised value
•  Don’t have to fear risking all their hard-earned savings in a new home
•  Can take advantage of  low-interest rates
•  Afford a bigger home with low monthly payments

The USDA  Guaranteed Rural Housing Development Loan  offers many benefits to qualified buyers:
•  No Down Payment Required. Finance Up to 100% Appraised Value
•  Ability to Finance Closing Costs when the Appraised Value is higher than the Contract Sales Price
•  No First Home Buyer requirement. Available to Move-Up Buyers and Downsizers.
•  One  30 year fixed rate mortgage at affordable interest rates
•  Buyers with <20% down payment can afford higher priced homes because the Monthly MI is cheaper than premiums associated with conventional, FHA or CHFA  mortgages
•  No Pre-Payment Penalty. No Re-Capture Tax.
•  No limit on Seller Contributions.
•  No limit on Gift Funds
•  No Cash Contribution required from buyer
•  Credit Scores down to 620.

The USDA  Guaranteed Rural Housing Development Loan does have a few restrictions:
•  Property must be in a USDA “designated rural area” like Homes For Sale in Thomaston CT
•  Adjusted household income from all occupants can not exceed established income limits
•  Single-Family Property only. Must  be buyer’s’ primary residence. Can’t own any other residential property at time of closing.

My expertise with the USDA Guaranteed Rural Housing Development Loan expands my ability to provide Home Buyers with an attractive home financing solution.
Call Me at 860.945.9284 to discuss the Right  mortgage options for your family and to take advantage of my FREE Mortgage Pre-Approval service.
You just might be able to move into your one of the eligible Homes For Sale in Thomaston CT with little out-of-pocket money and low affordable monthly payments this Spring!

FHA Wants More Fees? Not Again!

fha logoThe FHA is asking for authority to collect an administrative fee from borrowers to help they say, “further develop its quality assurance efforts.”  This on top of reports they will have a $7.8 billion capital reserve balance at the end of Fiscal 2014 and will not require another bailout from the U.S. Treasury.

The report triggered an immediate call for FHA to reduce the Insurance Premiums it currently charges home buyers. Keep in mind, FHA increased their Annual Mortgage Insurance Premium (MIP) and their Upfront Mortgage Insurance Premium (UFMIP) in 2013 to bolster their Mortgage Insurance Fund that was depleted in the aftermath of the housing crisis. They later required the MIP to be paid for the life of the loan. These increases were on top of increases imposed back in 2011.

home-prices-riseSomething doesn’t make sense! Here we have a federal agency whose main objective is to “assist in providing housing opportunities for low and moderate-income families.” Yet if one reads between the lines, management is still having quality control issues and is too embarrassed to ask Congress for more money to correct them. Instead let’s force new home buyers pay for the sins of the past by increasing their closing costs again…making it more expensive to own a new home!

And they say the housing market is on the way back? Not with this kind of mentality!

Is It Cheaper to Rent vs. Buy?

Is Renting or Buying a better financial bet? Trulia says No! One young family in Litchfield County CT agrees!

dreamAlthough mortgage rates have risen in the past 6 months, home price gains have slowed. Trulia says “Buying a home now is 38% cheaper than renting an apartment.”

They caution that the gap may narrower if spring demand causes prices to rise faster than rents and if – as most economists expect – mortgage rates rise, due both to a strengthening economy and Fed tapering.

I working with a young couple now who, with a new baby, are looking for a real home. I’ve Pre-usda 3Approved them for a mortgage sufficient to buy $185,000 house with mortgage payment, tax and insurance escrow plus MI that is $150 less than their current rent.
The Bonus is that with a USDA Rural Housing Development loan, they just might be able to move in with 100% Financing and roll their closing costs into the loan amount That $1800 savings per year is a lot of diapers.

The Spring 2014 Buying Season is near! Now is the Time To Buy!

Call Me at 860.945.9284 to discuss the right mortgage option for your family and to take Get Pre-Approvedadvantage of my FREE  Mortgage Pre-Approval service. Then call your agent to schedule a showing and be ready to make an offer.

10 Tips On How To Chose a Good Real Estate Agent

home shopping
The Spring 2014 Home Buying Season is coming soon. Here’s a follow-up to my previous blog on How to Chose A Good Real Estate Agent. Choosing the right real estate agent will make your home buying experience a whole lot easier. Not all home buyers are alike nor do they look for the exact same things in a new home or in a relationship. Here are some factors to consider when looking for a real estate agent to assist you in your home buying process:

1. Check for Recommendations – There’s no limit to the amount of information you can get on the internet and referrals from past clients is one of them. Friends and family are a good resource for the name of an agent, but testimonials to the level of service they provided to previous buyers is what really counts.
All agents have a link to their listings. However the absence of a broader on-line presence might indicate a lack of experience or the savvy to keep abreast with the dynamics of the marketplaceNational Association of Realtors.
2. Look up Licensing – State and regional Boards of Realtors control the licensing, education and disciplining of local agents. Check with these supervisory agencies to verify that your agent is licensed and if he has ever encountered any problems in the past.
internet3. Make sure your agent has a solid online presence – Statistics show that 85% of all home buyers claim to have seen their house online before contacting any agent for a showing. A real estate agent that is up-to-date with the tech-side of the home buying process may not be the best choice for Millennials looking for their First Home. Most of my clients prefer emailing and texting rather than spending a lot of phone time with me. A savvy agent should be connected at all times too.
4. First Home Buyers, Bet on Experience –A good track record and solid industry and local market knowledge are key, especially First Home Buyers that aren’t familiar with the entire process and don’t know what to look for.
5. Look for Buyer’s Agent – A Buyer’s Agent works exclusively for the home buyer and usuallyco-sign gets paid by splitting the commission on the sale of the house with the listing agent. I’m not saying that a dual agent is a bad choice. What I am saying is that it is important to understand which party in the transaction your agent has a contractual obligation to represent as it has an effect on the negotiating process.
6. Where To Meet – My mantra is “When You Work With a Professional, You Get Professional Results.” I meet my clients where they feel most comfortable. In my office, their home, or at MacDonald’s. The best agents I work with do the same. A good agent should be available on your terms and be willing to accommodate your busy schedule and comfort level.
7. Look for a Local Agent – A local real estate agent might have a better sense of what’s going on in town. He’ll have the experience to know how to handle clients and would already have sufficient connections in the area to join your home buying team.
8. Is He a Full-Time Agent – This might be important to know when you have a question aboutnegotiation the process that he’ll be available to negotiate your contract or if a snag arises with the property. I’m not suggesting that a part-time agent is less professional, but he is working for you and you should know what level of commitment you can expect.
9. Meet Several Agents – The one that can convince you without doubt that he should be your top choice is the one you should get! Besides market knowledge, you need your agent to be persuasive; if he can’t convince you to hire him, how can you expect him to convince a seller to give you a better price?
10. Is the Chemistry Right? –  it’s important to find someone you feel comfortable working with as you navigate the many steps of the home-buying process. Your agent should respect and understand your individual needs as a buyer, and be able to provide you with the level of attention and care that gives you confidence in your home buying experience. 

Home for SaleYour real estate agent is the backbone of your home-buying team. From beginning to end, it is the real estate agent who will help you to select, negotiate, and legally purchase your new home, The right agent  should be able provide you with a level of attention and care that gives you confidence in your home buying experience.

How Much Mortgage Can I Afford?


I particularly like drawing on my education background to help First Homebuyers answer thedream burning question “How Much Mortgage Can I Afford?” They’re excited about this great adventure and I am excited to be trusted to help put their plans together. There is a lot to learn about the process and it takes patience and skill to ensure that these dreams do not turn into a nightmare.

There’s a big difference between How Much Mortgage Can I Afford? and How Big a House Can I Buy?  Theoretically, a borrower with $50,000 income can afford a $1,000,000 home if they just won the lottery and used their savings wisely to pay the for the taxes and upkeep.

So Not too far into our initial conversation, I always ask the question, “Have you given any thought to How Much Mortgage Payment Can You Afford each month?”  Some like John and Beth who just had a new baby and need a place to call home did have a figure in mind. Surprisingly, many reply, “No that’s what we hope you can tell us?” To which I reply, “No, That’s your job!

FHA MIIf you are a First Home Buyer, you might have searched on-line for one of those How Much Mortgage Can I Afford calculators. These calculate your debt-to-income ratio by plugging in certain income, expense and projected housing costs to arrive at an estimate of what a bank may lend you for a mortgage.

Effective January 2014, the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau has mandated that a 43% debt-to-income ratio is the highest ratio can have andGet Pre-Approved still get a Qualified Mortgage.  A Qualified Mortgage is a category of loans that have certain, more stable features that help make it more likely that you’ll be able to afford your loan. And when you eventually apply for Mortgage Pre-Approval, that’s just what the Bank will do; It will tell the maximum amount it will lend you.

 “Purchase or Refinance…I help families live comfortably and financially secure in their own home.” That’s what it says on my letterhead and that’s what I promise all my clients. So when John and Beth throw out a figure, I ask, “Does that include the mortgage payment, property taxes, home insurance, and mortgage insurance. How about maintenance costs? For them and all the others, we go back to basics.

The 43% ratio is based on borrowers gross before tax income and not net take home pay. It includes the mortgage payment, an escrow for property taxes, home insurance; and mortgage insurance (PMI); plus condo fees, debt payments, and alimony or child support if applicable.

Here’s the issue with these scenarios … The bank (and those calculators) aren’t telling you how home shoppingmuch house you can comfortably afford. They’re only telling you the maximum they’ll actually lend you. Too often, I have seen First Home Buyers shop for homes at the top of their affordability range, only to find themselves in a difficult financial situation a few years down the road. A temporary job loss, a hike in property taxes (I could go on forever about this issue), a new car, orthodontics, can send homeowners financial situation spiraling out of control.

When I talk to First Home Buyers … we talk about these potential calamities and whether they might have to rethink How Much Mortgage I Can Afford if they had to squeeze their budget to make the monthly mortgage – or if one of these emergencies required them to take money out of the college fund to make ends meet. “It’s not up to me to decide How Much Mortgage I Can Afford,” I ask, It’s up to you to rethink your mortgage goals.”

Bottom Line: Home Buyers aren’t, by any means, required to take all the money a Bank offers to loan them.  No one says  you can’t buy a buy a $150,000 home even if you technically qualify co-signfor a $200,000 mortgage. But before you buy a home at all, consider how a mortgage payment – and other homeownership costs – will affect your budget. That way, you won’t wind up in over your head worried about making your house payment.


“Four Weddings And An Elvis” at Clockwork Repertory Theatre

Elvis Rescues Weddings at Clockwork Rep

elvisThe Clockwork Repertory Theatre presents “Four Weddings and An Elvis” by Nancy Frick at 8:15 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays through April 5. It’s hilarious!
Sandy owns a theme wedding chapel in Las Vegas, but she’s unprepared for a couple seeking revenge, a once-famous celebrity couple, a couple from the post office or a prison. But Elvis arrives in time to save Sandy once again.
Tickets are only $19. Call the box office at 860.274.7247 to reserve your seats today!