May 26, 2020

Which Mortgage is Right for You?

 

Which Mortgage is Right for You?

 

There are a number of different types of home loans available.  Here’s a look at them.

 

30-Year Fixed Rate Mortgage

This is the most common type of loan, as the steady interest rate means you can plan on a consistent monthly payment.  This provides you with the ability to budget and plan ahead.  It’s probably the best option to choose if you're planning to stay in your home for a minimum of 5-10 years.

 

15-Year Fixed Rate Mortgage

The shorter loan term and lower rate allows you to pay off your home twice as fast as with a 30-year fixed rate mortgage. Like the 30-year loan, your rate stays the same throughout the life of the loan.  But because you are paying less interest, you can pay off the loan faster.  Between the shorter term and the lower interest rate, you will save a lot of money in the long run.

 

Adjustable Rate Mortgage (ARM)

This type of loan is most popular when longer term loans are at a much higher interest rate, or when you want to keep your payments as low as possible because you’re planning to move within a few years. This type of home loan features an interest rate that changes after a fixed amount of time, with a “rate cap” that stipulates the maximum rate that the interest can adjust to over a specific time.

 

Jumbo Loan

If you’re looking for a loan that exceeds the current conforming limit (which varies by state and county), then a jumbo mortgage can help you make your move.  This type of home loan will allow you to buy a lot of real estate – so if you’re looking at a pricey “forever home” it may be the right loan for you – but it can also requires more stringent credit guidelines and a larger down payment.

 

FHA Loan

FHA loans are super popular with first-time home buyers because they have lower down payment options (as low as 3.5% down) and they offer more flexible credit restrictions.  If you haven’t been able to save up a big down payment, or if your credit score is less than stellar, an FHA loan can make it possible to get a mortgage and make you a home owner.  FHA loans can be adjustable rate or fixed rate.  With an FHA loan you will be required to pay PMI (private mortgage insurance), which will be covered in a separate blog! 

 

VA home loan

A VA loan is available solely to those who are veterans or active-duty service members.  This military type loan offers less restrictive credit guidelines and low down payment options – as low as 0% down! It’s just one way to thank our service members!

 

Posted in Homebuyer
May 19, 2020

Some Easy Tips to Cut Your Work-at-Home Electricity Use


10 easy low- and no-cost tips to cut your work-at-home electric use

 

1.      When your phone and other electronic devices are charged, unplug the chargers. It may be more convenient to leave the cords plugged into the outlet, but many chargers use energy even when they aren’t connected to a device. 

2.      Remember what your parents said when you were growing up: Turn off the lights when you leave the room.

3.      Let the sun shine in!  If there’s enough sunlight for the room, open the blinds and turn off lamps and lights.

4.      Check your HVAC system air filters and replace them if they are dirty. Clean filters use less energy and reduce the strain on your system, saving money and prolonging the life of your system.

5.      When your heat or a/c is running, be sure windows aren’t open.

6.      If you have older light bulbs, switch to LEDs.  The cost has come down dramatically and they use a lot less energy (and last longer than older bulbs).

7.      Use a power strip.  Be sure to switch it off to stop power flow when you’re away.

8.      Unplug your printer and smaller appliances when they’re not being used.

9.      Using your computer’s sleep mode or power management features can save you enough each year to buy a dozen Starbucks coffees!  If you won’t be using your computer for more than a couple hours, energy.gov recommends turning it off.

10.   When you need to replace office equipment such as computers, monitors and printers, purchase ENERGY STAR® certified equipment. They use less energy to perform regular tasks, and when not in use, they automatically go into a power saving mode.

Posted in General Info
May 9, 2020

Covid and the Current Local Market

We take our role as essential service providers seriously, and hope that you and yours are well and safe. We’d like to tell you a bit about the current real estate market.

We are seeing increased interest in properties the past couple weeks. Perhaps some of this is due to people being cooped up at home – and dreaming of a new (and perhaps larger) home. The increased interest is also due to the fact that for many people, now is the time they just have to move, whether it’s due to financial, career, lifestyle, family or personal reasons. Buyers are impatient to become homeowners, or to find a home that better fits them at this time. Mortgage rates, down payment requirements, and underwriting qualifications are super favorable right now, with some of the lowest rates in history.

You may feel anxious about putting your home on the market, or looking at properties, and we get that. We are keeping our clients’ best interests at heart. If you want to see a property in person, we will make sure you have the safest experience, utilizing gloves, masks, booties, wipes and hand sanitizer. If you’re comfortable with 3D tours, virtual showings, Zoom meetings, online document creation and electronic signatures, we can work entirely remotely. And if you’re not comfortable with virtual technology, we will take away the fear and uncertainty by walking you through it. As we have done for nearly 30 years, we will support you through the entire buying or selling transaction, no matter what!

In this uncertain time, it is more important than ever to make sure you have someone on your side who can accurately gauge the market. Someone who is experienced. Someone who has navigated previous real estate storms. Someone who will advocate for you and support you with honesty, integrity and compassion.

If you’d like to know more about current market conditions or how we are practicing Covid-19 safety, please feel free to reach out. We truly are in this together!

Posted in Market Updates
May 8, 2020

Thank You Local Heroes

 

 

 

While we are having a super busy week with sales and new listings, we do want to take a moment to thank all our local heroes who have been putting themselves on the front lines the past several weeks. Both Nurse’s Day and Teacher Appreciation occur this week, and those two groups are certainly heroes! With Cinco de Mayo in the week’s mix of “events”, it would be remiss not to remember our food service workers and the grocery store employees who help get food to us as well. Add to the mix the truck drivers, factory workers, janitorial personnel, transportation workers, delivery drivers, first responders – we cannot forget them either. A huge THANK YOU to all (and to those who have accidentally been left off this list.)

We have much to be thankful for amidst the crisis, including our Yankee ingenuity and our compassion for our neighbors. Who knew so many people had sewing machines and would jump in to make masks? Who expected manufacturing companies and breweries to be willing and able to change course and produce much needed equipment and supplies? Who would have thought teens would offer to grocery shop and run errands for no pay at all?

We’ve come together as a community at large, and we’ve shown our compassion. We’ve celebrated our similarities and shared willingly of ourselves. We’ve been a support for those who must endure a permanent and capricious loss, and for those who are struggling to get through each day’s challenges.

As we move toward a “new normal”, let us remember how good it feels to help each other, and hold on to the knowledge that we have proven once again that we are Merrimack Valley Strong!

 

Posted in General Info
April 28, 2020

Buying or Selling During the Stay At Home Advisory

You have no doubt heard by now that Governor Baker has extended the Stay-at-Home Advisory until May 18th. 

 

As an essential business, we continue to work with our clients, just in some different ways than in the past.  We are making the most of current technology to provide the best options for buyers and sellers.    Showings, closings, staging consultations and market analyses are being done virtually or while practicing social distancing.  Signatures and notarizing can be done electronically. 

 

In-person showings and small in-office meetings are being held if clients prefer, but only by implementing CDC recommended procedures to keep our agents, office staff and clients safe. 

 

Both inventory and mortgage rates remain low.  Thus, homes are continuing to sell quickly - and often with multiple offers.  There are still many, many buyers and sellers whose housing situations haven’t changed; they still need to buy or sell a home.  We can provide you with the market statistics and data you need to determine if this is the time for you to start prepping your home for sale, to list your home, or to start searching for a home. 

 

Let us put our experience, professionalism and in-depth market knowledge to work for you.  Working together, standing together, building your dream together.  We will not let this beat us!

April 23, 2020

Take Care of Your Car While It’s Social Distancing

Take Care of Your Car While It’s Social Distancing

 

While you may be saving on gas and wear and tear, it’s not good to let your car sit idle for too long.  Here are some tips to be sure your car is ready when you are!

 

-        Fill up your gas tank and then add a gasoline stabilizer. The stabilizer will prevent condensation from building up and you will extend the life of the gas in the tank!  Plus, why not take advantage of low gas prices while you can.  Just be sure, of course, to bring your wipes and hand sanitizer with you to the gas station.

 

-        Check your tires and make sure the pressure meets the vehicle manufacturer’s recommendation. Keeping tires filled to the right amount helps with wear and tear even when the car is standing still.

 

-        Take your vehicle for a joy ride! Driving your car at least once a week for more than 15 miles will get all of the engine parts moving and help keep the battery charged.  It also gets you out of the house, which will feel wonderful!

 

-        Check to see when your car is due for routine maintenance and make an appointment.  Most service departments are taking appointments online. If your registration or sticker expired last month or this month, you’ll want to be sure to take care of that when the RMV and inspection stations are back up and running. 

 

-        Give your vehicle a good once over every now and then and make sure that mice or other critters haven’t set up shop inside. Exhaust pipes and engine blocks are a favorite, so keep an eye out.  If you see acorns, straw and small pieces of fabric or insulation, chances are you have something living in your car!  A simple, humane answer is to spray essential oils like peppermint, clove, and cayenne pepper, which work as natural repellents.

 

-        Wash your car.  Rain and bird droppings can damage the paint finish.  So can dish detergent, so be sure to use soap made specifically for washing cars.  Start from the top of the car and work your way down, to keep the dirt you’re washing off from just spreading all over the car.  Spending an afternoon washing, vacuuming, and waxing your vehicle is a great way to spend some time outside and can be very therapeutic!

Posted in Staying Positive
April 10, 2020

Some advice from RealSimple .com on how to celebrate Easter under quarantine

Things will be different this year, but you can still enjoy your holiday traditions, with a twist or two!
 
Change the way you dye eggs
For many families, dyeing Easter eggs together is an annual tradition. This year, though, fresh eggs may be hard to find on grocery store shelves as people stock up unnecessarily. Also, if you do have fresh eggs at home, you want to preserve them for eating, not decorating or crafting. (For best results, avoid dyeing eggs and then eating them later. Not all dyes or decorating tools are food-safe, and even though they’re on the shell, it’s better to be safe than sorry.)
 
Instead, consider using Styrofoam eggs or another type of crafting egg. These eggs can be ordered straight to your door—you want to avoid unnecessarily trips to the store—and decorated with markers, crayons, and more tools you likely already have around the house. Best of all, you can save your favorites (and any extra, undecorated eggs) for next year.
Do an alternative egg hunt
Setting the kids loose on a field or playground dotted with eggs isn’t really social distancing, especially if you typically do it as a group with other families. Instead, if your home and yard have the space, tuck eggs around your house for your kids to find.
 
For a larger egg hunt, get in touch with your neighbors. Ask all participating families to decorate large Easter eggs on paper and then tape the paper eggs into windows facing the street. On Easter Sunday, families can head out in cars, on bikes, or on foot—careful to keep their distance from one another—to try and spot all the eggs in the neighborhood.
 
Rethink Easter baskets and gifts
The overflowing Easter baskets of years past may not be possible this year, either because money is tight or you’re unable to visit your go-to stores to pick up all the supplies and gifts. (Online delivery may not be as speedy as you’d like this year, either.) Save the big adult Easter basket for next year: Consider tucking homemade sweets into baskets or fill them with print-outs or drawings of the Easter gifts you plan to order or buy once businesses are open again. (Consider it an IOU from the Easter Bunny.) If you can, for Easter gifts for kids, focus on digital gifts you can enjoy in the moment: Buy and download a new movie or new game for them to enjoy at home.
 
Order in for your Easter dinner
If you typically go out for Easter brunch or dinner—or head to Grandma’s for her Easter specialties—don’t take it upon yourself to cook a multi-course meal. You want your groceries to last as long as possible, and taking a trip to the grocery store just to pick up extra eggs and potatoes for your Easter spread isn’t worth the risk.
 
Instead, consider supporting local businesses. Call around to see if any restaurants are offering a to-go or delivery special for Easter meals. (Chances are, at least one place is.) Place your order a few days in advance so the restaurant is prepared and get ready to enjoy your meal with minimal prep or stress on your part.
 
Focus on small-scale Easter games
A bunny hop race or Easter egg toss may not be possible this year if you don’t have the supplies, numbers, or space (or all three). Focus on games—beyond the egg hunt—your family can play together, such as guess the number of jelly beans or Easter egg basketball, even if you only have one or two kids in the family.
 
For older kids, consider giving your favorite family games an Easter spin: Play Scrabble with all Easter- or spring-themed words, for example.
 
Adjust your expectations for your Easter service
If your Easter celebration includes a religious component, think carefully about attending church services. Many states, counties, and cities have banned all group gatherings, but WalletHub’s survey says 56 percent of people who attended Easter services last year would attend this year if services were held. Even if your church does still hold a service—some are skirting federal recommendations to do so—consider if attending is the safest option for you and your family (and others attending).
 
You can stay connected with your church on Easter by checking to see if it’s hosting a digital service: Many religious organizations have been offering online services, so do a little research online to find one you can stream.
Posted in Staying Positive
April 7, 2020

Coping with Covid Isolation

The outbreak and spread of COVID-19 has affected all of us, impacting everyone in different ways, including financially and emotionally.  It has also, however, given people an opportunity to focus on the positive and on what’s important in their lives.  By staying focused on the positive, we can come out of this with renewed compassion and empathy - and with relationships and careers intact.

 

Working from home?

Stick to a routine as close as possible to your usual one.  Get up and get dressed as you would to go to work – maybe dress in “casual Friday” attire rather than full work day attire.  Take breaks at the same times you would if you were at your office; lunch and coffee breaks are important times to get up, move around, take a walk and refresh yourself!  To simulate leaving work, come up with a short ritual, such as shutting off lights, packing up your coffee cup, closing the window shade, taking a walk (with your mask on, of course), etc. 

 

Not working? 

Learn a new skill.  If you’ve got time on your hands and don’t want to spend it all watching Netflix or eating junk food, try learning something new.  How about a new language, or how to build a raised garden bed or make a chocolate soufflé?  The options are pretty much endless, especially with technology like YouTube to show step-by-step instructions!

 

Get a grasp of virtual technology.  Want to hold a meeting outside the office, or talk “face-to-face” with the grandkids?  You can do it easily using apps like Zoom, Skype and Facetime.  You can even have video calls through Facebook Messenger.  These apps and programs are pretty simple to use and will guide you through the first set up.  You’ll be a pro in no time – or at least comfortable enough using the technology!  There are also many programs you can use if you need to have documents created and signed.  One of the better known is DocuSign.  Or create an account and upload your own YouTube videos.  Maybe you’ll be the one teaching someone else a new skill!

 

Connect – or reconnect - with family and old friends.  Stave off feelings of loneliness and isolation by staying in touch with others.  Use virtual technology or even more old fashioned ways of communicating like calling or sending a card or an email.  Even just a quick “how are you doing” or “thinking of you” will provide a nice pick-me-up to both you and the person you reach out to. 

 

Get organized.  Do more than just picking up, get going on a really good “spring cleaning”.  It’s a great way to get some exercise and make your home healthier and your mind clearer.  Do things such as making a budget, updating your contact lists, organizing files, decluttering closets, planning a vacation (there will come a time when you can go out again) and all those tasks you’ve been avoiding or have been too busy to think about.

 

Focus on the positive. The most important of all!  Find a silver lining each day.  Maybe it’s something as simple as making cookies again with your college student who is now at home, or sitting in a chair in the front yard soaking up the sun.  Enjoy the slower pace of life and use it to recharge and reset.  Life will be hectic again soon enough!

 

Posted in Staying Positive
March 4, 2020

Make the Most of Your Daylight Saving Time Weekend!

Welcome March at Fairy Day at Nunan Florist & Greenhouse on Saturday!  Bring your favorite little one(s) and help them make a fairy garden or enchanted forest of their very own.  There will be a fairy snack, photos with a real fairy, stories, a singalong and even fairy wings or an elf hat for your child to bring home!  Saturday from 10:00-11:30 am.  https://nunans.com/events/fairy-day/

 

Get a jump on St. Patrick’s Day and start celebrating this weekend!  The Wilmington Tewksbury Chamber of Commerce hosts “Music Bingo Bash” - a St. Patty’s Day party Friday night from 7-11 at the Aleppo Shriner’s Auditorium in Wilmington.  Enjoy your favorite music, sing along, dance and win prizes!  Details at info@wilmingtontewksburychamber.org

 

Tour the historic Searles School building and Chapel in Windham, NH on Saturday at 2:00 pm.  If you’re lucky you may even be able to pull the ropes and ring the bell.  The Gothic Revival property was designed by famous architect Henry Vaughan, and served as a school until the early 1970s.  Threatened with demolition, the property was saved and is now on the National Register of Historic Places.  https://searleschapel.com/history/

 

Learn about the importance of the Soil Web to healthy and sustainable gardens.  Peter Bottomley from Coast of Maine speaks at the Garden School Series at Rolling Green Nursery in Greenland, NH at 10:30 am on Saturday.  In addition, you’ll hear about different organic soil blends and how and when to use them.  After the class you can check out the garden store! https://rollinggreennursery.com/

 

Bring the kids to the Family Full Worm Moon Hike at the Crane Wildlife Refuge in Ipswich.  Just the name alone will appeal to kids!  The hike is 2-2 ½ miles and goes up and down the soft sand dunes, where you’ll see the earthworm casts that invite the robins back for the spring.   Saturday from 5:30-7:30 pm - the weather is supposed to be perfect!  http://www.thetrustees.org/

 

Find everything you need for baby at the NSVE Baby Show at the Holiday Inn in Peabody.  Saturday from 11:00 am – 3:00 pm.  Local vendors, crafters and service providers will be on hand to help you choose gifts and necessities, as well as find some things for yourself and maybe win a raffle prize or giveaway. https://northshorevendorevents.com/2020-baby-show

 

Enjoy some music of the season at the Friends’ Concert Series at Memorial Hall Library in Andover.  You have the chance to see (and hear) The Kelly Girls, one of the most entertaining Celtic bands in New England.  Their rousing renditions of songs and tunes rooted in the Celtic traditions of Ireland, Scotland, Canada and America, along with captivating harmonies and instrumentation lend to their signature sound.  Check it out!  Sunday at 2:30 pm.  https://mhl.org/concerts

 

Saturday will be a great night to go to the Peabody Pop-Up Ice Bar as it won’t be super cold!  Meet up with friends, family and strangers who may become friends while you dance to the tunes of DJ Rick.  The fun takes place on the courthouse plaza in downtown Peabody.   And of course there will be food trucks and drinks available from several vendors.  Saturday at 6:00 pm.  

 

Sunday from 1-3 pm is the 9th Annual Patriot Place Chili Cookoff!  Taste test chili from 9 Patriot Place restaurants.  Will your ratings match the judges’ choice?  Just $5 admission and kids 5 and under are free!  Do you think #12 likes chili?  

 

Open Houses!  We have several new properties that hit the market this week.  Come check them out!  For a list of properties and open house times, just let us know and we will happily provide one.

 

 

Posted in Weekend Fun
Feb. 27, 2020

Weekend Fun!

Make the most of this weekend’s sun!

 

Do you love to watch cute cat videos on YouTube or Facebook?  Then you will LOVE this event!  It’s the CAT VIDEO FEST at The Luna Theater in Lowell on Saturday afternoon, with a percentage of ticket sales benefitting the Lowell Humane Society.  CatVideoFest is a compilation reel of the latest and best cat videos culled from countless hours of unique submissions and sourced animations, music videos, and, of course, classic internet powerhouses.  www.lunalowell.com

 

Human Dog Sled race?  You bet!  It takes place at The Fruitlands Museum’s Winterfest in Harvard on Saturday from noon-6 pm, along with lots of other fun events.  Take part in a day of family-friendly activities including historic games, chili contest, fire pits and s’mores, nature walks and more! https://e-clubhouse.org/sites/harvardma/

 

Celebrate World Wildlife Day at the Stone Zoo! In honor of Leap Day, learn about species that have an extra spring in their step, like the Panamanian golden frog, snow leopard, and others! Learn all about these species during special zookeeper chats and more.  Saturday from 10:30 am – 1:30 pm.  www.zoonewengland.com

 

It’s Comedy Night at Bobby & Jack’s Memphis BBQ in Tewksbury!  Enjoy a night of laughs with Boston's Best Comedians! Our lineup for the night will be Foxwoods headliner Johnny Joyce, winner of The Boston Herald's "Funniest Comedian", Mark Bedard a Boston Favorite, Hamilton Johnson as well as some special guests. Show starts at 9:30pm.  http://bit.ly/2PrXtiE

 

Go on Safari.  A Birding Safari, that is!  You’ll explore the winter landscape of Castle Neck and Crane Beach. You will be led by a seasoned birder and learn all about the natural history of the barrier beach as we keep a look out for winter wildlife including snowy owls!  You’ll be outdoors for approximately 2 hours in an open air vehicle and there may be times you’ll need to get out of the vehicle to hike on the beach. Please dress appropriately for the weather and for walking on the sand. A set of binoculars will be provided for use, but if you have your own please bring them!  www.thetrustees.org

 

Loosen your belt and enjoy some epicurean delights – it’s the kick-off of Boston Restaurant Week! It’s your chance to experience some of Boston’s best food at a price you’ll like, with prix-fixe multi-course lunches and dinners.  Many of the restaurants will also book ahead using Open Table.  So get your taste buds ready!  http://www.restaurantweekboston.com/

 

The Big Island Pond Rodeo – otherwise known as Snodeo 2020! The event is free, but if you make a donation will receive an event wristband, raffle tickets for amazing prizes, and the ability to race your sled or OHRV with NO REGISTRATION and with ANY MODIFIED exhaust. The Pressed for Time Mobile Café will in attendance as well.  This year's event will include fun/grudge snowmobile drags.  There will be 2 tracks, one will be plowed for chissles only and one will be whatever mother nature provides us with and will be for the trail sleds.  ATV, side by side, dirt bikes and whatever else would like to drag race are more than welcome.  1099 Collette’s Grove Road, Derry.  Saturday from 10 am – 10 pm.

 

It’s the Boston Roller Derby Home Team Doubleheader!  Home Teams face off in the second bout of the season on Saturday from 4 – 11 pm at the Aleppo Shriners Auditorium in Wilmington.  It promises to be an exciting evening of fast-paced action and endless fun! https://bostonrollerderby.com/2020-schedule/

 

Are you a Gamer?  Interested in games?  Pax East is in Boston at the Convention and Exhibition Center through Sunday, the exhibit hall will be chock full of publishers and developers with the latest indie games.  There will be panels, tournaments, pin trading, console freeplay and more. https://east.paxsite.com/

 

Open Houses.  We’re in the home stretch of winter and the weather is looking good for the weekend, so come on out and check out some of our Sunday Open Houses! 

Posted in Weekend Fun