Blog :: 2014

Welcome to our blog! Here, we'll keep you updated on everything you need to know about the real estate market in the Upper Valley. We keep our finger on the pulse of the local real estate market from our office in Enfield, NH. 

Questions about real estate in the Upper Valley? Contact us today!

6 Common First Time Home Buying Mistakes


If you are a first-time home buyer, finding the right home for you and your family can be overwhelming and stressful.  There are so many decisions to make!  Before you start looking, make sure you're not committing one of these classic first-time buyer mistakes.


1. Not knowing what you can afford to buy

If you haven't been pre-approved, don't go shopping.  Understand the math of your future home loan or mortgage and know what you'll qualify for - this will stop you from looking at homes or neighborhoods that are beyond your financial reach.  Be aware that pre-qualifications are not the same as pre-approvals.  So make sure you know what you can afford with an official pre-approval notice.  A real estate agent can recommend lending institutions or banks.  Be sure you shop around for the best short- and long-term plans for your particular financial situation.


2. Ignoring the additional costs

Although you may be used to paying rent and utilities, there are more monthly and annual expenses associated with home ownership.  Some costs are easy to calculate prior to home ownership like property taxes, homeowner's insurance or even homeowner's association fees.  But there are a multitude of unforeseen additional costs like emergency repairs or replacements.  Along with regular maintenance costs, first-time home buyers should have a clear understanding of just how much it might cost to own and operate the home each month.  Most experts advise setting aside about 1%-5% of the cost of the home each year to save for future upgrades and maintenance costs. Although that might sound like a significant amount, knowing that you've saved money for emergency repairs will help alleviate stress on your paycheck.


3. Thinking a fixer-upper is easy and cheap

Although a few first-time home buyers purchase a home with the expectation of a full-scale renovation, most homebuyers simply want to move in and make it their own.  Making cosmetic changes like painting walls, replacing the front door or refinishing floors are fairly easy and inexpensive.  But all too often, first-time home buyers see a home as having unlimited potential without understanding how much it might actually cost to renovate.  They might also make the mistake of thinking they can do it all themselves.  It's too simple to think that you can tackle major structural changes on your own.  If you're tempted to purchase a home and really want an expert opinion as to potential costs, code upgrades, permits required or other important information, consider hiring a professional general contractor to tour the home with you and give you a realistic cost and time estimate for your desired renovations.


4. Not hiring a home inspector

Even if your bank doesn't require it, you should always have a home inspection contingency on your home purchase.  Hiring a licensed and experienced home inspector (ask us who we recommend!) who will thoroughly inspect your home is an important step on the home buying experience.  Regardless of the age and condition of the home, first-time home buyers can benefit from the expert advice of a home inspector.  Home inspectors spend several hours assessing a home and provide a lengthy, written report on their findings.  Although they cannot say if the work was done well, they can let you know if the home was built to code.


5. Thinking you can do it on your own

Although you've probably done your homework, it's always best to hire a licensed real estate agent, especially if this is your first home. Real estate agents know the market, they understand the comps (the competitive prices of comparable homes), and can help you identify the home that will best fit your needs.


6. Being distracted by over-the-top features

A potential home should have good curb appeal - this means that the homeowners have taken the time to fix up their home.  Expect a certain amount of investment from the owners; they may have invested in a few upgrades aimed to please potential buyers, but don't let yourself be distracted by over-the-top improvements or home features that you won't end up using.  A swimming pool, for example, may have you dreaming of hosting summer parties however, swimming pools are high maintenance and very expensive.  Same goes for elaborate landscaping or rooms dedicated to a specific hobby (like a wine cellar, craft room or gym).  You may luck out and be the buyer that is right for this home or you may hate these features and have to spend money removing them.


3 Key Tips To Help Ensure Your Mortgage Pre-Approval Is Not Declined

If you’re thinking about buying a new home and using a mortgage to help cover some of the purchase costs, it’s a good idea to get an initial pre-approval from your lender before putting in an offer.

In today’s blog post we’ll share three quick tips that can help to ensure that your mortgage pre-approval isn’t declined.


Demonstrate Your Income and Good Credit

A mortgage is a major financial transaction and one that carries a certain amount of risk for the lender. It’s your goal to help them see that you have the ability to make your monthly payments and that there is very little risk in approving your mortgage. Be ready to demonstrate all of your sources of income and that your credit rating is clean.

It may be worth paying for your credit report before starting the pre-approval process so you can clean up any black marks or false reports and so that you can see what the lender will see when they check your credit history.


Choose the Right Property at the Right Price

As the home you’re buying will be used as collateral to back the mortgage, the lender will need to see that there is enough value in the home to cover the cost of the mortgage should you fail to pay it back. The “loan to value” or LTV ratio is the amount of your mortgage divided by the value of the home. For example, if you’re borrowing $150,000 to buy a home valued at $200,000, you’ll have a LTV ratio of 75 percent. Keep in mind that each lender will have their own target LTV that they prefer to work with, so you may need to shop around a bit.


Start the Process with Multiple Lenders

Finally, if you feel that your income or credit history isn’t perfect you may want to consider visiting a couple of different mortgage lenders to see what they can offer you. There are dozens of different mortgage products on the market today, and each lender has their own set of qualification criteria that they will use to assess risk and whether they feel that you can afford to pay the mortgage back. Getting a second opinion may help you to discover a more suitable mortgage or one with a better interest rate.


If you have more questions about loans and mortgages, or don't know where to start... ask us!  We work with plenty of lenders around the Upper Valley on a regular basis and we're more than happy to help you! 

Benefits of Renting in The Upper Valley

The Upper Valley is a diverse area with almost unlimited possibilities for work, careers, school, housing, life styles and more.  The Upper Valley stretches to both sides of the Connecticut River, in New Hampshire and Vermont, to Walpole, NH and Westminster, VT in the south and Bath, NH and Ryegate, NH to the north and everywhere in between.  This area is very scenic and beautiful in all four seasons of the year.  The employment opportunities in this area are plentiful.  In many of the Upper Valley towns, the sense of community is so warming to know that everyone comes together for events throughout the years, fundraisers, activities and more.   There are endless restaurants, diners and cafes throughout the area, as well as plenty of department stores and small shops.  Many of the small shops are owned and ran by local natives who have been in the area for many years. 

We, Vanessa Stone Real Estate, cover rentals in Lebanon, Enfield, Canaan, Orange, Grafton, and Claremont and these towns are located in central Upper Valley, with all easy commutes to busy areas with plenty of job opportunities, public transportation companies to get where you need to go, even if you do not have a vehicle.  There are many lakes, ponds, rivers, mountains, and walking and hiking trails throughout the area which attracts people as well.  Many of the big cities, such as Boston, New York City, Burlington, Portland (Maine), etc are all within a couple of hours and could be easy day or weekend getaway trips.  

The Upper Valley is such a beautiful and great area, we hope that you will enjoy all it has to offer and be able to call one of these towns "home", even if it's for a short period of time while renting.  


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    How You Can Get The Full Selling Price You Want For Your Home

    When it comes to selling your home and getting the full selling price you want, there are certain tactics and methods you can employ to ensure that this wish becomes a reality.

    Avoiding the commonly made mistakes that end up lowering the value of your home and discouraging people from viewing it is ultimately the key in getting top dollar, as well carrying out the showings and sale of your home in a professional manner.

    Listen to the professionals, and make sure you employ these real estate sale methods to get your desired number on your home sale.


    Listing Tactic: Adding A Buffer

    Always dependent on the type of market you find yourself in, a common and successful tactic in getting the price you really want for your home is adding a buffer on the list price.

    This means that if you want $500,000 for your home, you should list your home somewhere around $510,000 to $520,000 to allow for some negotiating room. Even if you'd prefer not to negotiate, the majority of buyers will always assume that you have room to come down on the price, and will put in their offers accordingly.


    Overpricing: Avoid At All Costs

    With that being said, you don't want to overprice your home too much so as to discourage potential buyers from looking at it, or to put your home outside of a financial bracket. Make sure you speak to your trusted real estate advisor on exactly what the right list price should be to obtain your desired value.


    Increase Desire: Have Your Home Staged

    In order to get the price you want for your home, you need to make a good impression on the prospective buyers. Having your home professionally staged can dramatically increase the amount of interest you receive on your home, perhaps even creating multiple offers - which is the best situation a home seller can be in!


    Appeal To Online Shoppers With Professional Photos

    With so much of today's modern real estate shopping happening online, you want to ensure that your home has a strong online presence with professional photos and a digital floor plan available to prospective buyers. Also make sure that all information online is full and complete, and presents your home in the best light possible.


    Always Say Yes To Open Houses And Showings

    Especially in a hot market, you want to ensure that you leave your home empty for your real estate agent on weekends so that they can hold it open to the public. This is especially important early on in your list date so that the buyers on the market who are ready to make a move can see your house right away.

    You should also apply the same importance to showings, and ensure that each showing request is promptly responded to with an easy "yes."

    If you put these tactics into your home selling plan, you will find that it will be much easier to obtain more interest from buyers. And with more interest, it will be much more likely that you will be able to obtain the price you want for your home.

    So don't underestimate the importance of these factors, and discuss them today with your trusted mortgage professional.


    To discuss how to best sell your Enfield area property with local realtors, contact us today. We're excited to hear from you!

    Looking for a Value-adding Upgrade? Why Residential Solar Panels are Becoming a Popular Renovation

    If you're looking for a home upgrade that can add resale value to your home while paying itself off over time, look no further than a solar panel setup. In the past few years, the cost of installing residential solar has declined while the efficiency of the panels has increased. This combination has made home solar one of the best investments that a homeowner can make - provided they live in an area that receives a good deal of sunshine.


    Solar Adds Immense Value To Your Home

    While solar panel installations are not inexpensive, in almost every case they add at least their total cost to the value of the home as soon as they are installed. If you decide to sell your home, it will be very attractive to those who are interested in leaving a lighter footprint or for anyone who was thinking of going solar after they bought their new home.


    A Quality Install Will Pay For Itself Over Time

    As they generate electricity which can be used in your home or sold back in to the public grid, residential solar panels are one of the only home upgrades that will pay for themselves over time. If you live in a very sunny area and watch your home energy consumption, you may even find that after a few years your solar setup actually begins generating a profit each month. Home solar setups typically come with a 25-year warranty so you can rest assured that your panels will be producing energy for at least the next couple of decades.


    Tax Credits And Incentives Reduce The Up-front Financial Cost

    Renewable energy sources like solar quality for significant tax credits and rebates which will vary depending on the city and state or province that you live in. A quick web search will show you which types of incentives that you will qualify for, or you can call a local residential solar installer as they'll be fully aware of all of the various incentives that are available.

    Speeding Up The Closing: 5 Tips to closing your mortgage loan faster

    When a seller accepts an offer from a buyer, the process of obtaining the property has just begun. The buyer now has to conduct an inspection, get approval from an attorney and obtain a mortgage - all of which can be time consuming. Here are a few ways that you can speed up the mortgage process and close the deal sooner.


    Make Sure That You Have Money For Closing Costs

    Do you have the money needed for a down payment and to pay other closing and prepaid costs? If not, you won't be able to close until you find the funds to pay those costs - and this could delay the closing on your home indefinitely. Before you arrange the mortgage, make sure you have enough cash on hand to pay closing costs.


    Get Conditional Approval Before Making The Offer

    If you have not been conditionally approved for a loan before making an offer, you can't be sure that a lender will give you a loan for the amount of the purchase price. In addition, starting the process from scratch could push back the closing timeline. Having your mortgage conditionally approved means the mortgage process is already underway when you make your offer, which saves you time.


    Have Your Documents Together

    Get your bank statements, pay stubs and other documents together before the seller accepts your offer. Having everything that the lender needs right away decreases the time needed for a lender to assess your application before extending the loan.


    Work With An Experienced Mortgage Lender

    Your mortgage lender may be able to move everything along by staying on top of the loan approval process. By ensuring that documents are being processed in a timely manner, an experienced lender can reduce the closing time from months to weeks.


    Create A Timeline For Repairs The Seller Is Obligated To Make

    It is not uncommon for a seller to be obligated to fix certain issues with the house before the new owner takes possession. However, it is important to put these repairs the contract along with a mandatory completion date. Otherwise, the seller could drag his feet with no contractual obligation to finish any repairs before he sees fit to do so.

    Closing on a home loan can take anywhere from 30 to 120 days depending on work that needs to be done on the home and how well prepared a buyer is. Contacting and working closely with your mortgage lender or broker can result in a speedy and painless close. Contact an experienced mortgage professional today for more information about closing a mortgage.


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      DIY or Hire it Done, Renovating Real Estate Investment Poperties

      Sometimes, when buying or even thinking about buying real estate for investment purposes, youre faced with the need to fix up the property. The question then arises: Should I fix it up myself or hire it done? Unfortunately, no one can give you the right answer. However, there are a few questions that you can ask yourself to help decide the issue:

      1. Do I Have The Time? Time is an issue that many people forget about, but it should be one of the deciding factors. Some renovations, such as handles, hinges or kitchen hardware can take very little time to do. Others, like retiling a bathroom, can take hours, or even days to accomplish. If you dont have the time to do these things personally, youve already answered the question.

      2. Do I Have The Money? Obviously, money is as important a factor as time. Often, if you dont have the time, you do have the money to hire someone. However, if you have neither the money nor the time, you may need to reassess whether you can really afford the real estate youre thinking of buying. You may want to continue looking to find something that needs fewer repairs or that you can get at a lower price.

      3. Do I Have The Know-How? Granted, there is a lot of do-it-yourself information out on the Internet. However, if you dont have the necessary knowledge to understand what theyre saying, youll either have to research more, or hire someone. Being knowledgeable on what youre doing may not be so important when, say, youre painting the living room, but its incredibly important if you need to rewire a room or want to knock down a wall. The main key when deciding on what property to buy, what renovations need to be made and whether to do it yourself is simple: Be realistic. Be honest with yourself. Can you really do this? Can you really afford it? Remember, if the answer is no, it could just mean not right now. Dont be afraid to wait until you have everything in place before picking your investment properties. If youre careful with your time and money management, you may find yourself able to buy that dream real estate investment property. Via: The Market Street Settlement Group


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            BUSTED: 4 Myths About Buying Your Home That Just Aren't True

            The Market Street Settlement Group Blog BUSTED: 4 Myths About Buying Your Home That Just Arent True Posted: 26 Mar 2014 05:45 AM PDT BUSTED 4 Myths About Buying Your Home That Just Aren't TrueIt can be pretty intimidating to dip your toes into the realm of home ownership, especially if youre a first-time homebuyer. To make things worse, there are a number of myths floating around out there surrounding the home buying process. Such misconceptions have many kept many would-be homeowners from realizing the personal and financial rewards of owning a property. To clear things up, here are 4 myths about buying your first home that simply arent true. Myth #1 - Its Cheaper To Rent Instead Of Own If you buy a property that is within your budget and your mortgage terms allow you to make comfortable monthly payments, the cost of rent can often be higher than mortgage payments. Sure, there are other expenses associated with owning a property that you wouldnt be responsible for if you were renting, but one thing that many people forget is the fact that renting does not allow you to build equity. The ability to build equity into a property that you own is like paying into a savings account if you buy a home for $200,000, and pay down your mortgage to $175,000 in 5 years, youll have $25,000 in home equity that can be tapped into later if you need a lump sum of cash to pay for other large expenses. If you sell your property down the line, any equity that the property has accumulated will provide you with more profit from the sale of the home. Myth #2 - Whatever Shows Up On The Inspection Report Is The Sellers Responsibility Most offers on a home usually come with a home inspection condition that makes the offer contingent on the acceptance of a home inspection report by the buyer. Many buyers, however, are under the impression that sellers are responsible for any issues that show up on the inspection report. Although the seller is required to make certain major repairs as stipulated by the lender, everything is still negotiable. A buyer may ask the seller to fix a minor crack in the basement wall or repair any scuff marks on the hardwood flooring, but the seller can essentially refuse, leaving the buyer with the decision of whether or not to continue with the offer anyway. Myth #3 - The Perfect Home Is Out There I Just Have To Wait For It Buyers have a tendency to focus too much on all the little things that may be wrong about a house rather than on the majority of the things that are right. Homes are much like people they arent perfect. Even brand new homes might have a few minor flaws. The goal of a house hunt is to find the perfectly acceptable home one that may have a couple of quirks that you can either live with or fix, but is otherwise ideal. An experienced buyers agent can help you identify issues that are deal-breakers, and help keep some perspective by separating irritating details from the big picture. Myth #4 - I Dont Need A Real Estate Agent To Buy A House Without the proper team behind you especially if youre a first-time homebuyer you could potentially find yourself in a compromised position. Many buyers dont take the time necessary to shop for an agent who can best represent them in their purchase. Think about it this way would you perform surgery on yourself? Do you feel comfortable filing your own income taxes, or do you opt to use the services of an accountant? Being represented by a licensed real estate agent will give you the benefit of professional skills and knowledge, including the ability to find financing and close the deal with your best interests put first. Its always in your best interests to have an experienced, knowledgeable agent representing you in a home purchase. With such a major investment on the line, you want to have someone who can help you complete a purchase leaving no stone unturned, and ultimately saving you money and a lot of headaches. A professional real estate agent will be able to sort the myths from the reality and make your first home-buying experience a positive one.