Jim Sheridan | Burlington Real Estate, Billerica Real Estate, Reading Real Estate


If you plan to buy a house, you may want to host a yard sale sooner rather than later. That way, you can sell items you no longer need and won't have to worry about moving these items once you find a new residence.

Ultimately, there are many reasons why it may be beneficial to host a yard sale before you kick off the property buying journey. These reasons include:

1. You can earn extra cash.

Let's face it – purchasing a home can be expensive, regardless of where you decide to live. Fortunately, if you host a yard sale, you can earn extra cash that you may be able to use to cover assorted homebuying and moving expenses.

Whether it's the costs associated with moving supplies or the closing fees on a new home, expenses can add up quickly during the homebuying cycle. Thankfully, by hosting a yard sale, you can simultaneously cut down on unwanted items and earn cash from these items.

2. You can start packing.

As you separate items you want to keep from those you want to sell, you can start packing for your eventual move. Thus, hosting a yard sale may help you kick off the process of moving from one location to another.

Of course, as you start packing, you also may want to reach out to local moving companies. This will allow you to learn about local moving companies, find out their rates and determine whether a moving company is a viable option for your eventual move.

3. You can move one step closer to finding your dream home.

Hosting a yard sale provides a great opportunity to connect with community members and tell them about your plans to search for a new house. In some instances, community members may be able to help you accelerate your search for your dream residence too.

A yard sale may prove to be exceedingly valuable for an individual who wants to start a house search soon. And if you are ready to explore the local housing market following your yard sale, you may want to consult with a real estate agent.

Typically, a real estate agent streamlines all stages of the homebuying journey. He or she will help you pursue houses in your preferred cities and towns so you can find your dream home. Then, a real estate agent will ensure you can submit a competitive offer to purchase your ideal residence. If your homebuying proposal is accepted, a real estate agent next will help you finalize your home purchase.

A real estate agent is an expert resource throughout the homebuying journey. If a homebuyer has questions as he or she searches for the right house, a real estate agent can quickly respond to them.

Host a yard sale before you purchase a house – you'll be glad you did. Because if you host a successful yard sale, you can take the next step to find and buy your ideal home.


There is no one-size-fits-all plan to find and purchase a home. In some instances, a buyer instantly discovers a great residence at a budget-friendly price. Or, in other cases, it may take a buyer many weeks or months to find the perfect house.

Although the homebuying journey varies from person to person, there are several things that a buyer can do to simplify the property buying cycle. Now, let's take a look at three tips to help you quickly and effortlessly find your ideal residence.

1. Establish Homebuying Expectations

As a homebuyer, it is important not to get too high or too low during the property buying journey. If you establish realistic homebuying expectations, you should have a good idea about what to anticipate as you search for your dream house.

Oftentimes, it helps to put together homebuying criteria. Think about where you want to find your dream house, as well as the home features you want. With this information at your disposal, you can narrow your home search and accelerate the property buying journey.

2. Create a Homebuying Budget

Like most homebuyers, you probably have only a finite amount of money to spend on a new house. Fortunately, if you get pre-approved for a mortgage, you can enter the housing market with a budget in hand.

Banks and credit unions are happy to teach you about different types of mortgages. These financial institutions can provide insights into adjustable- and fixed-rate mortgage options and offer details about mortgage terms. Then, once you review all of your mortgage options, you can select a mortgage that complements your financial situation.

3. Hire a Real Estate Agent

You may want to pursue a house on your own, but this approach may prove to be problematic. A homebuyer who conducts a home search without expert assistance may miss out on the opportunity to find and buy a terrific house at an affordable price. Perhaps even worse, without housing market guidance, a buyer may wind up overpaying for a residence that fails to match his or her expectations.

If you want to achieve the optimal results during your quest for your ideal residence, you should hire a real estate agent. This housing market professional is ready to guide you along the homebuying journey and help you make informed property buying decisions.

A real estate agent will go the extra mile to make the homebuying cycle as simple as possible. He or she will teach you about the real estate market, learn about your homebuying goals and help you hone your house search. Plus, a real estate agent will keep you up to date about residences that fall within your price range and are located in your preferred cities and towns. And if you find a house that you want to buy, a real estate agent will help you craft a competitive offer to purchase this home.

Simplify the homebuying journey – use the aforementioned tips, and you'll be better equipped than ever before to enjoy a quick, stress-free property buying experience.


We all know that buying a home is expensive. For first-time buyers who don’t have the luxury of equity for a down payment, it can be difficult to find a way to finance your home without taking on a huge interest rate and mortgage insurance.

Fortunately, loan programs like those offered by the U.S. Veterans Affairs can be a godsend. However, there is a great deal of confusion around who is eligible for VA loans and how to acquire them.

So, in today’s post, we’re going to cover some of the frequently asked questions of VA loans. That way, you can feel confident in knowing whether or not it’s a good financing option for you and your family.

VA Loans FAQ

Who is eligible for a VA Loan?

VA loans aren’t just for veterans. Most members of the military, including Reserve and National Guard members can apply. Additionally, spouses of service members who died from a service-related disability and those who died on active duty can apply as well.

How long do you have to service to be eligible?

The VA defines eligibility as having served no less than 90 days of service during wartime and 181 days of continuous service during peacetime.

Who are VA Loans offered by?

Like any other loan, VA loans are offered by private lenders. The difference is that VA loans are guaranteed by the government. That means that the federal government takes on some of the risk of lending to you, therefore making it possible to secure a loan with little or no down payment.

Should I make a down payment on a VA loan?

If you have the means, making a down payment will almost certainly save you money in the long run. If you can put down 10% of your total mortgage amount, you can also significantly reduce the VA Funding Fee.

Will I have to pay private mortgage insurance?

Private mortgage insurance (PMI) is something that borrowers pay on top of their mortgage payments and interest. This additional insurance helps borrowers buy a home with a small down payment. VA loans allow you to secure a mortgage without PMI.

Are VA loans different for active duty, National Guard, and Army Reserve members?

Each type of service member is eligible for a VA loan. However, there are some minor differences regarding the VA Funding Fee. With no down payment, an active duty member would pay 2.15% of the loan amount in fees. National Guard and Army Reserve members pay around 2.40% with no down payment.

What does my credit score need to be to get a VA loan?

The VA doesn’t have a set minimum credit score. However, the private lenders that offer the loan do. On average, the lowest credit score that you can secure a VA loan with is around 620. That being said, a higher score will secure you a lower interest rate, saving you money over the lifetime of your loan.


The homebuying journey is exciting, particularly for an individual who is pursuing a residence for the first time. Ultimately, there are many questions that a buyer should consider before he or she searches for a house for the first time, and these include:

1. What is my "dream" home?

Perhaps the most enjoyable part of the homebuying journey involves defining your dream residence. Because once you define your dream residence, you'll be able to narrow your house search and move closer to purchasing your first home.

Think about what you absolutely require in a new home. For example, if you want to own a house in a region where the weather is hot and humid year-round, you may require a central air conditioning system. Or, if you want to enjoy a fast, easy commute to work, you may want to pursue residences close to your office.

2. How much can I afford to spend on a house?

Getting pre-approved for a mortgage is essential. Because if you have a mortgage in hand when you begin your house search, you may be able to gain a competitive advantage over rival homebuyers.

To obtain a mortgage, you should meet with a variety of banks and credit unions. These financial institutions can teach you everything you need to know about fixed- and adjustable-rate mortgages.

In addition, don't hesitate to get expert insights into assorted mortgage options. The longer you wait to get pre-approved for a mortgage, the longer you may need to wait to kick off your home search. Thus, you risk missing out on a potential dream house if you fail to get your home financing in order.

3. Do I need to hire a real estate agent?

Hiring a real estate agent is a must, especially if you plan to embark on the homebuying journey for the first time. In fact, a real estate agent can help you quickly and effortlessly navigate the housing market and discover your ideal residence in no time at all.

Typically, a real estate agent will offer comprehensive assistance at each stage of the homebuying journey. He or she first will meet with you, learn about your homebuying goals and help you craft a homebuying strategy. A real estate agent then will keep you up to date about houses that match your criteria and set up home showings. And when you find a home that you want to buy, a real estate agent will help you submit a competitive offer and negotiate with a seller's agent on your behalf.

Let's not forget about the advice that a real estate agent will provide, either. A real estate agent is unafraid to be honest with you and will provide feedback throughout the homebuying journey. Also, if you ever have homebuying concerns or questions, a real estate agent is ready to respond to them.

Take the guesswork out of finding and acquiring your first house – employ a real estate agent, and you can receive plenty of support as you move along the homebuying journey.



 Photo by Mohamed Hassan via Pixabay

For years home ownership has been the American dream, but, according to the Pew Research Center, a higher percentage of us are renters than at any other time in the last 50 years. Is that a bad thing? Not necessarily. For many people renting may be the right choice. Every individual and family needs to consider all the factors and make the decision that’s right for them.

The Financial Consideration

There’s a rule of thumb called the price to rent ratio. You get it by dividing the price of a house by the annual rent. For example, if you can buy a house for $300,000 or rent it for $1500 per month, the ratio is 300,000 / (12 * 1500), or 16.7. When the number is 15 or less, buying is the better choice, when it’s 16 to 20, renting becomes more favorable and when it’s over 20 renting is significantly better. However, this fails to take in factors like down payment amount, financing terms, taxes, insurance and other costs, which can vary widely. A more accurate number, telling you how long it will take to cover the up-front costs of ownership and pull even financially with renting, can be found using one of many calculators available.

The Other Considerations

While this sort of calculation is valuable, there are other questions, both financial and lifestyle-related, that the potential renter or buyer must ask.

  • What can I spend upfront for down payment and closing costs?

  • Can I afford a major repair such as replacing a furnace or air conditioner? There are insurance-like plans to defray some of that cost, but those make up another annual expense.

  • How long do I plan to stay? Selling a home and buying a new one is costly and time-consuming.

  • Which is more important to me, stability or flexibility?

Advantages of Home Ownership

As the inheritor of the American dream, the homeowner has some opportunities and privileges that the renter can’t enjoy.

  • Appreciation and equity. As home value rises and morgage balance drops, homeowners gain equity, which for many is their most valuable asset.

  • Building credit.

  • Freedom to remodel. There’s no landlord telling you what you can and can’t do with your property.

  • Stable monthly payments. Taxes and insurance can increase, but principal and interest payment remains the same. If you stay there long enough, eventually you’ll have no principal/interest to pay at all.

  • Tax advantage. For most people, it isn’t what it was before the 2017 tax changes, but interest and taxes may still be deductible.

  • Stability. You can become a member of your neighborhood and your children can stay in the same school system. No landlord can decide to sell and give you notice.

Advantages of Renting

  • No large upfront expenses.

  • Your landlord is responsible for major repairs.

  • Still some opportunity to build credit by paying rent promptly.

  • You have less at risk. You won’t be affected if property values fall.

  • Flexibility. If you choose to move you can easily give notice and do so.

Here’s one last question: which feels better, the satisfaction of owning your own castle or the freedom to change your life quickly? The answer may go a long way toward pointing you in the right direction.

 

 

 

 

 

 




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