Buyer Testimonial – Walpole

Michelle knows her trade really well and was instrumental in getting the required paperwork as well as navigating, explaining and communicating through the process. Really glad that she was helping us with this purchase.

Michelle has an uncanny ability to read her audience and explain/communicate at the appropriate level. She was also incredibly helpful in getting the process on track whenever we had challenges or delays.

Michelle was amazing with driving the closing to the end. Great job!

Mauro Torres, Easton, MA

State of the Real Estate Market – Jan 2018

by Michelle J. Lane, Realtor

Housing Value

There are so many topics we can cover in talking about the state of the Real Estate market.  To be succinct, I will briefly cover these three topics.

  1. Tax Reform Bill
  2. Inventory
  3. Interest Rates

Tax Reform

There are many articles out there on the new tax reform bill and how it impacts homeowners.  I wrote one you can find here.  As you probably know, the key changes are that the Mortgage Interest Deduction has been capped to a $750,000 mortgage, down from $1m and that the maximum amount of real estate tax you can deduct is $10,000.  These changes will affect homeowners here in the Greater Boston area.  Today the median home price in Newton is $2,295,000, which would clearly require a mortgage over $750,000 for most people.  Moody’s is estimating that this will cause a 4% loss in home values from where they would have been if the Tax Reform Bill were not in place. 

Inventory

It is early in the year to be able to say where inventories will be for spring, but looking at a snapshot of today compared to the same day over the past 4 years, inventories are remaining low:

Newton Housing Inventory

Interest Rates

Given the Tax Reform Bill reduction in the Mortgage Interest Deduction only affects new mortgages (after Dec 15, 2017), it is possible that sellers will want to hang on to their existing mortgage and stay in their homes, which will further exacerbate inventory shortages.

Are now over 4%.  I expect they will stay there and possibly go up from there.  I say possibly only because rates have defied rate hikes by the Federal Reserve over the last couple of years.  The Fed does expect to make at least two more hikes in 2018. 

In Summary….

Because inventory is still low and people have not yet felt the impact of the Tax Reform Bill, I expect the spring market to still be brisk.  I suspect that the less desirable homes will feel the sting of the changes  by staying on the market longer.  By less desirable, I mean those that need a good deal of updating.  Buyers (who are not builders) are reluctant to buy these.  Once they make their downpayment, they don’t have money left over for updates.  If they have any money left over, they don’t have time to manage the projects, don’t want their children breathing in construction dust, and cannot find contractors to do the work.  

At the entry level prices (in Newton that is around $600K) you will find Buyers who are willing to take on projects in order to get into the city.  However, once you get to prices where they can buy a house  that does not need work, say $800K or more, they would rather get into a bidding war on an updated house than buy a project house.   If you want to know the value of your home, contact us here.

 

15-Minute Fixes for your Credit Score

(from creditcards.com)

Improving your credit score can feel like a gargantuan task. But by spending just 15 minutes, you can give your credit score anywhere from a small bump to a major boost. Here are some tips from credit experts on quick — and sometimes easy — ways to raise your score.

1. Set up automatic bill payment or alerts. The one thing you need to do is pay bills on time — that has the biggest impact on your score.   One way to do that is to set up automatic bill payment through your bank or credit union, at least for the typical minimum amounts of your bills,.   Or, if you’re not comfortable with automatic bill payment, set up regular email or text message alerts to remind you of bill due dates.  On-time payments over a period of about six months can increase your score by as much as 50 points.  It shows you are getting responsible about your bills.

2. Pay down revolving debt. If your credit card debt is more than 35 percent of your credit limit, it’s probably dragging your score down, but paying balances down can provide a quick boost. Experts recommend setting up regular automatic payments to make a dent in your debt.

A good rule to follow is this: For every $1,000 of available credit, try to use less than $350.  Say you have three cards, each with a $1,000 limit. One has a $500 balance, one has a $350 balance, and one has a $250 balance. Pay on all of them, but pay more on the first one to bring it down under 35%.

3. Pay your credit card bill early. If you use your card for everything from groceries to utilities to a pack of gum to get rewards — but pay in full each month — pay early. Because if you charge, say, $2,000 each month but pay your bill after you get your statement, it looks as though you’re carrying a large balance when you’re not.

Check when the statement closing date is.  Making the payment before the statement closing date — just five or six days early — can make a big difference over time. It will be reported to the credit bureaus as a $0 balance and will look like you’re holding less credit.

4. Ask your credit card company to raise your limit. If you carry a credit card balance but have been making payments on time and make enough money to support a higher credit limit, a quick phone call to your credit card company could raise your score. A higher credit limit will lower your credit utilization ratio (the amount of available credit you’re using), experts say. However, experts also say it’s important to be honest about whether that step would tempt you to rack up more debt.

5. Go online to dispute an item on your credit report. Some experts advise consumers to dispute a possible credit report error by registered mail, and to include evidence. But, let’s face it, many never get around to making copies, hunting down a stamp and heading to the post office. All three major credit bureaus offer the option of filing a dispute online — and it can be faster and easier, experts say. 

The first thing to do is pull a copy of your credit report from all three bureaus. You can do it free once a year at AnnualCreditReport.com. Look at each one and see if there’s anything you don’t recognize. If you have any questions about information on your reports, you can file a dispute online. You can track it online, too, so it’s a lot quicker.

6. Just say no to too many inquiries. When you’re buying those cool new sunglasses and the cashier asks if you’d like to get a 10% discount by signing up for a store credit card, just say no. Whenever you take new credit, you get a ding on your credit score, so don’t apply for new credit cards all the time. 

7. Get a late payment removed from your credit report. In the “it-can’t-hurt-to-ask” category, it sometimes pays to call a creditor and ask to have a late payment removed from your credit report.

8. Play what-if with your credit score. Each consumer’s credit history is different, so spend a few minutes at the consumer website Credit Karma. The site offers a peek at your credit score — though it’s not the widely used FICO score — and offers a simulator that allows you to see how different actions you could take would likely affect your score.

It is often repeated that, when it comes to credit scores, there are no quick fixes. However, if you follow these tips, you could see a big improvement in your credit score — with just a small investment of time.

MICHELLE J. LANE, Realtor
Century 21 Commonwealth
CELL: 617 584-3904
michelle@michellelanerealtor.com
www.MichelleLaneRealtor.com