Let's face it--the market right now is BANANA'S & frankly there's no end in sight. Everyone keeps googling "When will the real estate market crash??" but here's a news flash--in the time that it takes someone to type that prices just went up by an other percentage point. There are 50+ people at every open house & 8+ offers on all of the homes. SUPPLY & DEMAND. There are soooooo many people looking for homes right now & that's not going to change anytime soon. Want my suggestion---buy a multi family! And here's a super cute one that's available (as of 8am April 20).
What do I like about this property: the roof was replaced about 15 years ago & it has about that many years left, possibly more. The heating system was replaced in 2005 & has been maintained annually so it has a few more decades of life left. The electrical system was updated as was most of the plumbing throughout the property. The location is great--quiet, family neighborhood with easy access to the East Side of Pvd as well as 95N (but not too close--no highway noises). This means it's always SUPER EASY to find great tenants & the rents are good--currently $1250 (unit 1) & $1050 (unit 2). I love the backyard--it feels private & the garden scape creates a lovely retreat. And I LOVE the Studio that was built in the back--it's not a crappy garage-turned-studio. No, this is a custom built studio that's very well insulated & is well suited for an at home office or Artist Studio. How very 2021! I also love the price--- Listed at $318k, even in a market where it's likely to go quite a bit over asking the numbers still work well as an investment property or owner occupied unit! It's hard to find a Win in this market but 64 Clifford St is definitely a WIN!
Must see 2-family property located in the desirable Oak Hill neighborhood of Pawtucket. Ideal location, within walking distance to shops and restaurants of the East Side‘s Hope Village & Lippett Park. Quick, easy access to Highway-- an easy commute to Boston or anywhere in RI. Featuring a younger roof & heating system, this property is in great condition and has been lovingly maintained! Nothing to do but move in! Additional improvements include updated electric, replaced windows, beautiful hardwood floors with lots of natural light, & a private yard with raised bed vegetable garden. 64 Clifford St is ideal for someone who wants to live in Oak Hill as an owner-occupied investment property, with low maintenance & great rental history to help pay the mortgage. It would also make an ideal Airbnb rental. But wait there’s more! There is a separate, custom built Studio in the backyard that is perfect for a home office or artist studio. It is well insulated and well lit, with skylights and sliding glass door that overlooks the garden. It’s the perfect place to work, create, or reflect! Don’t miss your opportunity to view 64 Clifford St!
Here's your chance to own in the Armory District! This first floor two bedroom condo has an ideal floor plan with an open kitchen/dining area and includes modern updates such as a butcher block counter featuring a gorgeous farm sink, refaced cabinets, open shelving and updated flooring in the kitchen and dining area. The dining area features a beautiful exposed brick, wood burning fireplace that functions and was inspected and cleaned in 2020! Other features include laundry in the unit, high ceilings, and an outdoor patio area plus off-street parking for two. One of four units in this Association, this unit is the back unit on the first level. You just can't beat this location! Walk to all of the amazing local restaurants, bars, & coffee shops that make the West End of Providence such a cool, creative neighborhood! Enjoy the summer time outdoor farmers market at Dexter Park just steps from the front door. The entire exterior of this stunning historic home will be painted later this year. Come check it out!
Calling all suburban farmers and gardeners! Here's your opportunity to purchase an agriculture zoned property in East Greenwich!
This three bedroom Ranch home has so much to offer including a large two car garage and partially finished walk out basement. The home was fully renovated in 2017: new roof, new septic system, new heating system, new siding and windows. Current owners renovated the bathroom, installed custom countertops and backsplash, partially finished the basement, renovated the mudroom with new flooring and transformed the yard into a kids fantasy land and small-scale farmers dream!
Turkeys, goats, ducks, zip lines, tree forts, and perennial flowers and berry plants planted by a master gardener to highlight the natural setting make this property truly unique and one of a kind! The small barn in the back of the property has electricity and an additional well could be utilized. This ideal location is nearby many hiking gems including Carrs Pond. Take advantage of the opportunity to homestead or simply enjoy the beautiful setting--what kind of a home will you create?
Contact me for more info:
Jess Powers 401-559-7674
When you decide to make an offer on a property you will need to decide what to include in that offer. These items are negotiable between the Buyer & Seller. In a competitive Sellers market (which we are currently in an EXTREMELY competitive market), the Seller is going to want the very best terms.
The first two are pretty self explanatory:
Escrow Deposit (this binds the contract & goes towards your cash due at closing--it also is what keeps people from simply terminating & walking away---the higher the deposit the more appealing to the sellers)
But there are additional terms, which we call Contingencies, that you need to decide whether or not to include or to Waive as part of your offer or Contract to Purchase.
There are typically three:
1) Mortgage Contingency: you have a preapproval but you have not actually applied for a loan. In order to apply for a loan you have to have a property under agreement (a contract). Once you apply for the loan the lender will go through all of your documents (bank statements, tax returns, pay stubs, credit report) to make sure that you qualify for the loan. They will also have an appraisal of the property to make sure that it's at market value. Once all of these items are checked off and approved the lender will issue a Mortgage Commitment Letter which states that they will fund the loan. Once that's issued the attorneys & realtors can schedule the closing. We need that Mortgage Commitment Letter by a specific date that is stated on the contract. This entire portion is referred to as the Mortgage Contingency because if your loan is denied you can terminate the contract & get your deposit back as long as that denial is on or before the pre-agreed upon date. Cash buyers waive this Contingency because they do not need a mortgage. Some buyers decide to waive the mortgage contingency in order to make their offer more appealing to a seller---BUT that means that you risk losing your deposit if you get denied the loan.
2) Inspections Contingency: a standard Purchase Agreement has an inspection period of 10 business days for a buyer to conduct any and all inspections. If you are not satisfied with the inspection (or if you just change your mind about the house) you can terminate the Agreement & get your full deposit back as long as it's within those 10 business days. Some buyers will choose to reduce the inspection period as a way to make their offer more appealing to a seller (example---reduce the inspection period to 5 business days). Or some buyer will choose to waive the inspection period completely. You have to be certain that you want this house if you do that! And you have to feel confident that you're willing to take on whatever work is needed. You can certainly choose to have a home inspection after you close on the house--I always recommend that so that you can go through the house & understand it's structural & mechanical components.
3) Appraisal Contingency: Cash buyers tend to waive this contingency because they're not working with a lender. If you are getting a loan & waive the Appraisal contingency it means that IF the appraisal report comes in LOWER than the Purchase Price you will have to make up the shortfall.
Example: Purchase Price $325k; appraised value $320k---this means you have to make up the difference and put down an additional $5k because the bank will only lend based upon the $320k. Does this mean that the house is not worth $325k? An appraisal is subjective & it depends on the comparative houses that the appraiser used. If you have the appraisal contingency in place we want the appraisal report back BEFORE your Mortgage Commitment deadline so that if the appraisal falls short we can either:
a) ask the seller to reduce the purchase price to the appraised value (they do not have to agree)
b) you decide that you still want to proceed & can make up the difference
c) you decide to terminate the contract
Inspired by recent conversations, I want to make sure that my clients are prepared for all of the costs that one will have to stomach when buying a house. For a while it will feel like you're shelling big money out constantly--especially if the house that you're buying needs repairs. So let's go over the upfront costs that you need to have prepared:
Buyers Agent Fee: Guess what? I have good news! This one is a freebie & won't actually cost you anything! I highly recommend that you work with an agent that works directly for you rather than working with the agent that represents the seller. The commission for the sale of the has already been established & in most cases that number doesn't change regardless if you use your own agent or not. You are better off having someone that 100% works for you, negotiates on your behalf, & is on the hook for fiduciary responsibility.
Customized MLS Search: Ok--here's another freebie just to make you feel good! Sure, you can use zillow or realtor dot com or any of the other syndicate sites for free but I can set up a customized search for you that is more efficient to use, allows for communication/notes, & is more accurate. And I can make changes to that search so that we really hone in on exactly what you're looking for. All of those sites pull the info directly from our mls site so go to the source!
Down Payment: This one is straight forward. What's the amount that you can put towards the house that will pay down the principal balance. There are loan options that you may qualify for that start at 0 down payment up to twenty-five percent down. Certainly you can put as much down as you want but the loans will determine the minimum down payment. Your lender will be able to go over the various loan options that you qualify for & I can certainly weigh in on the pros/cons to help you decide what works best for you. Your down payment will not be due until closing day.
Escrow Deposit/Good Faith Deposit: In order for a contract to be valid (or in order to "bind" a contract), you have to put down some cash & this is your deposit. These funds will go towards your cash due at closing (down payment + closing costs). Typical deposits range from 1-3% of the purchase price. A higher deposit may be more appealing to a seller because you have more "skin in the game"--meaning it would be easy for you to walk away from a contract if you only put down $100 for a deposit versus if you put down $10,000 as your deposit. At a minimum you should have $1000 available to put down as a deposit. The deposit is due when you sign a contract to purchase a house so this is the first amount of money that will be required upfront. The deposit needs to be submitted as soon as possible---we don't have a valid contract until your deposit has been submitted. The listing brokerage will hold your deposit. A personal check or bank check is fine for a deposit but note that it needs to come from the bank account of the person(s) who is applying for the loan. Your lender will need a photocopy of the deposit check.
Inspections: Once you have a contract in place to buy a property you will have 10 business days to conduct any & all inspections. The buyer is responsible for paying for these inspections. A general structural/mechanical inspection costs around $500-700. Separate inspections will include Lead, Radon, Water Quality, Septic/Cesspool, Mold/Air Quality--these would all be additional costs if you choose to have any of these.
Appraisal: Your mortgage lender will require an appraisal of the property except in cases where you're putting 25%+ down or in other rare cases. You should plan on needing an appraisal & that's a fee that you'll pay for upfront. In some cases the lender may be able to wrap this fee into your closing costs but you'd need to discuss that upfront. The appraisal is ordered through the lender & the fee is $500-700.
Home Owners Insurance Binder: Your mortgage lender will require that you have a home owners insurance policy in place before they will issue a commitment to fund the loan. You will pay for the first year upfront & subsequent payments will be made by your mortgage company each year. Part of your total monthly mortgage payments will include payments into your escrow account, that' essentially a savings account your mortgage company sets up & sets aside a portion of your monthly payments to pay for your property taxes & your annual home owners insurance policy. But you'll need to pay for that first year upfront. Like the appraisal, some lenders may be able to wrap this into your closing costs so you should discuss this upfront with your lender. Single family insurance policies average $1200 per year in RI, multi family properties range from $2-3k depending on the number of units.
Closing Costs: These are a bunch of fees/costs bundled together. They consist of the fee the lender charges to underwrite the loan, the attorney fee, the fees to record the deed with the City, & any property taxes that are due upfront or that will be put into your escrow account. They may also include any Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI) that you pay upfront, any points that you pay to lower your interest rate, & potentially your appraisal fee & home owners insurance. Rule of thumb---plan on $6-8k for closing costs. Here's a blog post I wrote all about Closing Costs that will go over this in a lot more detail.
Cash Due at Closing: Your attorney will let you know the final total amount that you have to bring to the closing. Usually that's in the form of a Bank Check. Your lender will provide you with an Estimated Closing Disclosure a few days after you've formally applied for the loan--this goes over everything & you have to sign it. It will go over your down payment, the interest rate that is locked in (sometimes they will wait to lock in a rate but you need to understand if it isn't locked in & why), and this will also include the estimated closing costs. I can go over this form with you if you have questions. It can be overwhelming to look at & to try & figure out. The cash due at closing will consist of your down payment plus closing costs minus the deposit and minus any seller credits.
Other Costs: Depending on the loan that you are applying for you may need a certain amount, called "Reserves" in your bank account in order to qualify. This is especially common for FHA loans for multi family properties. The lender will want to show that you have at least 3-6 months worth of mortgage payments available in your bank account. I will help you to identify things about the property that you will need to address right away---perhaps there's a hot water tank that's beyond it's life expectancy (which is only 6 years btw)--people use houses differently so inevitably there will be something that goes awry pretty quickly after you buy the house. It's not bad luck! It's just that you use the house differently. So I'll do my best to identify things upfront, the home inspection will be really helpful for this, so that you can set aside funds to make these repairs right away. I always encourage my clients to keep a house fund of at least $4-6k set aside for emergencies. Work the math backwards from all of this & it gives you an idea of what you need to save & keep in your savings in order to be prepared to buy a house.
Questions? Comments? Reach out! I'm always here to help!
“Refinancing” is a scary word for many people, but that shouldn’t be the case for you. For many homeowners, refinancing can not only lower your monthly payments and help with your monthly budget, but it can save you thousands of dollars in the long run.
YOU’RE NOT TOO LATE.
For years now, we’ve been hearing that interest rates will be on the rise, and although there have been some small increases, you’re still in a great position to drastically lower your interest rate. The general rule is if your mortgage interest rate is more than one percent above the current market rate, you should consider refinancing.
T’S NOT TOO TIME CONSUMING.
Don’t brush off refinancing just because it seems like a long and daunting process. An informational call with a lender to see how rates compare will only take a few minutes. There are also some programs for streamlining the application process. And besides, isn’t the amount of money you could save worth the time and effort?
ARMS CAN BE REFINANCED, TOO.
Seeing your Adjustable Rate Mortgage (ARM) increase after the introductory period can be incredibly stressful and place a squeeze on your budget. Many people assume they’re stuck, but ARMs can be refinanced, just like fixed-rate mortgages. You can even switch to a shorter term fixed-rate mortgage, such as 15 or 23 years. The longer you’re planning to stay in the home, the more sense it makes to look into refinancing.
Looking for a lender to talk to? Reach out & I'll share my preferred lender contacts with you! I'm always here to help!
September & October are the times to get your home ready for a New England winter. Get your furnace serviced! Heating Specialists are already booked into October---I just scheduled my annual cleaning service for my Navien furnaces & the soonest available was October 6. I'm happy to share my referral network so reach out!
I especially like tip number 2) Switch the direction of your ceiling fan! Your ceiling fan should rotate counterclockwise in the summer. so the blades push cooler air down in a column. This is the best ceiling fan direction for air conditioning since it makes the air feel cooler than it is. It allows you to turn your thermostat up a few degrees. Then in the cooler months switch directions & you can save on your heating bills!
An offer needs to include the following information:
Deposit/Amount of Escrow
Included or Waived Contingencies: sale is contingent upon securing financing (this is called the Mortgage Contingency), property appraising at purchase price, Inspections. These are all items you can include with your offer or state that you choose to waive any of these options.
Additional Terms to include: ex any property or items that are included in the sale (pool equipment); or if you're buying a multi family property do any of the units need to be vacated by the time of the closing.
How do you know how much to offer?
Here are questions that need to be answered:
1) How long has the property been listed & what's the condition of the property? If it's new to the market it's unlikely that the price is negotiable--especially if it's in pretty good condition. If it's a sellers market that will mean that there will likely be a lot of people looking at the property & it's highly likely there will be multiple offers. You and I will discuss how in demand this property is--if I think we can offer lower than the list price I'll certainly tell you that.
2) What are the neighborhood comps (comparable homes that have sold)? I may send you an overview of similar homes that have sold in the area. I'll advise you on what I think the market may be able to bear in terms of offering more than the list price. It's important that you also do your own research to understand the markets in particular neighborhoods as well--I'm certainly here to guide you and also share my expertise.
3) Does the math work? If you don't know how to use a mortgage calculator let me or your lender know. Or ask your lender to run the numbers for you. What's the difference in the down payment amount & total monthly mortgage when you offer $220k vs $230k? If the house is listed at $220k and you love it but there are multiple offers what's the difference in payments at $230k or $240k? You need to understand real estate math so that you can decide what's best for you.
4) Is there anything that you can do to increase your equity in the property--a basement that can be finished? A bathroom vanity and light fixtures that can be updated? When you purchase a property in a sellers market you should look for a property that has one or two things that you can do to increase or maintain its value in the future. That can impact how much you decide/are willing to offer.
What is an Escrow Deposit & how much do you have to submit?
I have a video on this topic that you can review. If you haven't subscribed to my channel please do so! You have to have some skin in the game, & it has to be substantial enough that you're not going to just walk away from the transaction. Typical escrow deposits (aka Good Faith Deposit) are 3-5% of the purchase price. A higher escrow deposit will be more appealing to a seller so that may be something to consider when crafting a competitive offer.
Here are common questions that I get:
Who holds the escrow deposit: The listing brokerage or the sellers Attorney
Can the seller keep the deposit: If the buyer breaches the contract then yes, the seller can keep the deposit but there are very specific ways that would happen.
Here's how a buyer can get their deposit back.
1) Terminate the Purchase Agreement during the inspections contingency. If you do not waive your right to the inspection then you will have 10 business days to have any inspection, at your cost, that you choose. I have a list of inspectors that I can recommend to you. If you're not satisfied with the inspection then you can terminate the Purchase Agreement & you will get all of your deposit back--as long as we're within the 10 business days. If we try to renegotiate with the sellers but cannot come to an agreement you can decide to terminate the contract.
2) Loan Denial. Known as the 'Mortgage Contingency', the Purchase Agreement will set a specific deadline that you will need a 'mortgage commitment' from the lender. You have a preapproval but you cannot actually apply for a loan until you have a specific property under contract. In order to issue a mortgage commitment, thereby satisfying the mortgage contingency deadline, you have to apply for the loan, submit paystubs, bank account info, tax documents, verify employment, go through an extensive credit check, & the appraisal has to be complete. The underwriter will review all of the information & determine if the bank is willing to underwrite the loan &, if so, will issue a mortgage commitment & then will submit for Clear To Close. If for some reason the bank issues a denial we want that on or before the commitment deadline. This is a date that both you & I will monitor. If we need an extension for that deadline we can make that request, in writing, & the seller needs to agree. If the denial is issued we can terminate the agreement & your deposit will be returned. If you waive the mortgage commitment but end up getting denied for the loan then you would be in breach of the contract because you would not be able to close & the seller would be able to keep the deposit.
When would someone be denied a loan: job loss while in the process of trying to get a loan, submitting incorrect information during the preapproval (this is why you should get a full pre-qualification), making a major purchase during the loan application (like buying a car---no new loans!!), etc. Your lender will give you a list of things NOT to do & it's important that you understand those guidelines.
Disclose your Financing Details
This info needs to be disclosed in your offer. Are you going with an FHA loan, VA (Veteran), or Rhode Island Housing (RIH) loan program? Or are you applying for a conventional loan & if so what is the down payment amount (3%, 5%, 10%, 20% etc). I also need to include a copy of your preapproval. Not only will a seller need to consider the offered Purchase Price, the type of financing is also important as it can impact the appraisal as well as indicate your ability to purchase. FHA loans & RIH loans take longer--45-60 days and have specific items that will not pass the appraisal: ex, a house that has peeling paint on the exterior or windows will not pass & those would have to be fixed before the loan would be approved; Knob & Tube wiring would not pass VA, FHA or RIH & would have to be removed prior to closing; Asbestos Wrapped heating pipes may need to be removed or wrapped prior to closing. These are all things that a seller may not be willing to address & that needs to be taken into consideration. In a sellers market you may want to improve your credit or save more for your down payment so that you can qualify for a 3% or 5% conventional loan as that may inhibit getting an offer approved. All things equal, a buyer with a conventional loan will have a competitive edge over FHA/RIH/VA loans simply because they can close sooner or have less hurdles. I don’t tell you this as a deterrent but simply that we will need to discuss your financing in the context of presenting your offer & the pros/cons of certain loan programs.
Disclose your Closing Date
Your offer will state your closing date. It's important that we understand the sellers motivation for moving & what their plans are. Do they have to find suitable housing or do they already have someplace else to go? Do they want a quick close or is a flexible timeline more appealing?
Once you & I have answered all of these questions I will draw up the offer. In certain instances I may decide that we should submit an executed Purchase Agreement rather than the one page offer. In some cases this may show that we are very serious buyers & that we're ready to go! In addition to your preapproval I will also have you sign the disclosures to include in the package.
The seller will respond in one of three ways: Accept, Counter, or Decline.
If your offer is accepted we will sign a Purchase & Sales Agreement, the formal contract, & you will submit your deposit right away--just like the offer we want to do this as quickly as possible because we don’t actually have a contract until both parties have signed & your deposit is submitted. If the seller makes a counter offer you can either accept, counter with a different offer, or decide to walk away. If the seller declines the offer (or your counter offer) you can try again to make a more appealing offer or move on to find another house.
Does a personal letter make a difference? Sometimes! It’s certainly worth submitting along with our offer. If it's a house that has been "flipped" I don't usually think it makes a difference--the sellers sole intent in that case is usually to maximize their profit.
Check out my video below to watch my video about the offer process!