Joyce Crommett, Westborough MA Real Estate, Southborough MA Real Estate, Northborough MA Real Estate


Photo by Nina Garman via Pixabay

Moving into a new home can be a very exciting experience. From getting to know new people to starting a new job, it can all be a very enjoyable transition. However, there are some aspects of moving that many people don’t really enjoy. And the biggest factor of all is the money involved. From hiring movers to buying boxes, all of the expenses can add up very quickly. However, there are some tips and tricks if you want to save as much money as possible.

Donate Your Unused Goods

One tactic to save on moving costs involves getting rid of the things you never use. This strategy is especially useful if you’re hiring a moving company to help with the transition. While these professionals are typically paid by the hour, you’re going to want to downsize to prevent spending an arm and a leg for this service; the more stuff you have, the more money you'll have to fork over. Furthermore, the more belongings you bring, the bigger the truck you’ll have to rent. To save time and loads of money, do good for yourself and others by donating the items you don’t need.

Don’t Move During Peak Season

While this is sometimes out of your control due to a job or another reason, you should always try to move during the off-peak season. People tend to move from May until September, so try your best to schedule a move between October and April.

Do the Move Yourself

Many people decide to hire a moving company when they’re moving to a new home. However, this can cost thousands of dollars. If you want to save, consider renting a truck and moving everything yourself. While it may take a lot of time and energy, you can experience tons of savings. Try to find family members or friends that are willing to help, then you can have the whole process done quickly. Not only can this lead to a great deal of savings, but you can also get some quality time with loved ones and a solid workout in the meantime. However, if you have large items and are not comfortable moving them, utilize a professional service once you've reached your destination.

Rent a Moving Container

Another beneficial option is to rent a moving container. These still can be expensive, but it is far cheaper compared to hiring a moving company. In addition, these containers are becoming far more common nowadays, which has really dropped the price of this service. It’s best to choose a container if you have a larger time window for the move, and especially if you’re doing most of the work yourself.

Moving can be expensive and stressful, but by focusing on the tips mentioned above, you can save hundreds of dollars as you’re making this important life transition.


Photo by Precondo via Pixabay

Some mortgage companies offer loans with points. In a nutshell, paying points means paying down the interest rate. One point is equal to 1 percent of the mortgage amount. On a $200,000 mortgage, one point is $2,000. The percentage the interest rate lowers depends on the mortgage company and the market. For example, one point might be equal to a quarter of a percent interest. A loan with 4 percent interest and two points might go down to 3.5 percent interest.

Pros and Cons of Points

If you do pay points, you could get a tax break. Since tax laws are constantly changing, make sure you can claim points if part of your decision is based on the tax break. Other considerations include:

  • If your mortgage is an adjustable rate (ARM), some mortgage servicers only give you the discounted rate until the mortgage rate adjusts. Some may hold the discount rate over. For example, if you have an ARM that starts at 4 percent and you buy two points for a discount of ½ percent, you may lose that discount when the loan adjusts, especially if it changes to a higher interest rate. However, if the bank carries the discount over, the new rate might increase to 6 percent, but your one-half point discount would mean that your new rate would be 5.5 percent.

  • You need additional cash to buy points. If you plan on putting 20 percent down, but you want to purchase points and do not have more cash, you could be less than 20 percent down. However, compare the scenarios to determine which method is better in the long run. If you put less than 20 percent down, the mortgage servicer may charge you PMI, which would negate any savings.

  • You may save more by putting more down. If you put $40,000 down on a $200,000 mortgage, you are going to pay interest on $160,000. If you put less money down and buy points instead, your interest rate will drop, but you may end up paying more for the loan in the long run. Enter the numbers into a mortgage calculator to determine which way you save more.

Scenario

If your mortgage is $200,000 and you put $40,000 down, thus cutting the amount you finance to $160,000, and do not buy points, the total interest you will pay over the length of the loan will be about $115,000.

Using the same scenario, you instead put $36,000 down and buy two points. This drops your interest rate to 3.5 percent from 4 percent. You will save about $16,700 over the life of the mortgage. And, you would have to stay in your house without refinancing for 49 months to break even on your savings. In this case, your $4,000 ends up saving you a net of $13,500 on interest (savings minus the $4,000 it cost you to save).

Before you agree to points or a larger down payment, discuss the scenarios with your accountant or tax attorney to determine which method is best for your situation. If you have to pay private mortgage insurance (PMI), buying points could end up costing you.


In a not-so-distant future, American homeowners may not have to worry about blackouts any longer. Tesla’s giant battery recently powered up Australia’s grid after a power outage in just milliseconds. And, with new, green technologies, constantly being pursued, it could be within reach to say goodbye to blackouts once and for all.

However, we’re not quite there yet. And, if you live in the colder areas of the country, you’re also at the beginning of the worst season for snow and ice that can wreak havoc on power lines.

So, to help get you prepared, I’ve written this list of things you can do to start preparing yourself, your family, and your home for your next power outage.

Read on for the list.

1. Emergency supplies list

It’s vital to have the supplies on hand before a power outage hits so that you don’t have to be wandering around your home in the dark fishing for things you might not even have.

To avoid this, it’s a good idea to keep a supplies bag packed and tucked away somewhere safe. It’s also important that your family knows where this bag is located in case you’re away when the power goes out.

Now, let’s make your list:

  • Flashlights and batteries - Two quality flashlights with batteries should be on everyone’s emergency list. Make sure your batteries were recently bought and that they are of high quality that won’t run out of juice in just a few minutes. Also, consider including a wind-up flashlight that doesn’t require batteries for use in case you forget to replace your old batteries.

  • Radio - Most of us keep our cell phones charged up, but we’ve all been guilty of letting them get too low on charge. In these situations, it’s good to have a battery-powered radio to listen to the news.

  • Power bank - Speaking of cell phones and their poor battery life, consider buying a power bank and keeping an extra charging cord in your bag. Make a note to charge up your power bank every few weeks to ensure it will be charged when you need it most.

  • Cash - If the blackout effects more than just your neighborhood, many stores’ ATM and credit card machines may be down. It’s a good idea to have a stash of cash for emergencies.

  • Optional: generator - while you don’t need to buy a generator for your average power outage, it can help if you live in an area that experiences them frequently.

2. Familiarize yourself with your home

Find out where the shutoff valves for water are, learn the layout of your circuit breaker, and learn how to use the manual release on your garage door.

If you have an electric stove, consider purchasing and learning how to use a small propane grill for emergencies.

3. Best practices during a blackout

If you have children, make sure they know what to do if the power goes out when you’re not home. Especially during the winter months, it gets dark out early enough that many parents haven’t even arrived home from work yet. So, be sure your kids know not to start lighting candles in dangerous places and keeping the refrigerator open for extended periods.

Finally, it’s a good idea to turn off power strips and unplug appliances that were turned on when the power went out. This can stop surges from damaging your appliances and save you money.


Finding the right house that meets your family's needs is an important decision; it's one that can affect the quality of your life for years to come. That's why it's especially important to be in a focused, resourceful state of mind when house hunting. It's also helpful to have a clear idea of what you're looking for and have a system in mind for comparing the strengths and weaknesses of every house you visit.

Knowing What You Want

Chances are, you're going to approach your house search with some preconceived notions about features like the floorplan, bedrooms, and number of bathrooms. You may also have strong preferences for a particular school district, the size of the back yard, and proximity to neighbors. One thing's for sure: There are a lot of details on which you'll need to concentrate as you meet with your real estate agent and visit different homes for sale. While conditions are not always ideal for taking it all in, here are a few tips which may help you get the most from the experience.

  • Work from a checklist: Before plunging into a serious house-hunting campaign, it's a good idea to prioritize the features and characteristics you're looking for in a new home. Ideally, you should have a separate copy of the list for each home you visit and create a simple rating system for evaluating how well each property lives up to your expectations. Make note of your impressions and take a few photos of key rooms, such as the kitchen, master bathroom, or whatever areas are most important to you. As a courtesy, ask the real estate agent if they or the homeowner would mind if you took some pictures.
  • Arrange childcare if possible: When you're going over important details with your real estate agent or visiting a listed house for the first time, you'll be able to get more out of the experience if you can devote your full attention to it. Children, especially young ones, tend to be more focused on their own agenda, including hunger, boredom, sibling conflicts, and the impulse to wander off on their own to explore unchartered territory! When the opportunity arises to check out a potential new home, you'll want to have 100 percent of your mental and emotional resources available to appreciate and absorb all the details, nuances, and possibilities of a house that's for sale. Since "the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry", it won't always be feasible to arrange alternative (and sometimes last minute) childcare plans for your little ones. When it is possible though, you'll have more of your wits about you for the important task at hand.
  • While it's unrealistic to always expect house hunting to go smoothly and without a hitch, a focused and organized approach to finding the home of your dreams will always yield the best results!
     


    If you plan to sell a house, it can be easy to try to rush through the home selling cycle. However, doing so may do more harm than good, particularly for home sellers who want to maximize their profits.

    Ultimately, a wait and see approach can be beneficial for a home seller. Some of the key reasons to consider taking a wait and see approach to selling a house include:

    1. You can clean your house from top to bottom.

    A messy home is unlikely to generate interest from large groups of homebuyers. Comparatively, a neat, tidy and pristine home is sure to stir up plenty of interest once it reaches the real estate market.

    If you spend some time enhancing your house's interior and exterior, the benefits can be substantial. In addition to making your residence more attractive to homebuyers, you may be able to raise your chances of receiving offers at or above your initial asking price.

    To clean your house's interior, you should spend some time mopping the floors, wiping down walls and ceilings and doing whatever you can to make each room look great. Meanwhile, to improve your house's exterior, you may want to mow the front lawn, trim the hedges and do everything possible to ensure your house has plenty of curb appeal.

    2. You can conduct a comprehensive home appraisal.

    A home seller who immediately adds a residence to the real estate market might not understand what his or her house is worth based on the current housing market's conditions. As such, this home seller risks pricing his or her house too high or too low.

    Conversely, if you perform a home appraisal, you can set a competitive price for your residence from day one. This appraisal also will enable you to identify your home's strengths and weaknesses and find ways to transform assorted weaknesses into strengths.

    Employ an experienced home appraiser to evaluate your house – you'll be glad you did. With a top-notch home appraiser at your side, you can receive the expert insights that you need to price your house appropriately.

    3. You can discover the right real estate agent.

    When it comes to selling a house, why should you be forced to work with an inferior real estate agent? Unfortunately, if you rush to add your residence to the real estate market, you may select the first real estate agent that you meet. And in this scenario, you risk making a poor choice.

    On the other hand, a home seller who takes a wait and see approach can spend some time evaluating many real estate agents. Then, this home seller can make an informed selection and increase his or her chances of enjoying a successful home selling experience.

    There is no reason to hurry through the home selling journey. Instead, deploy a wait and see approach, and you should have no trouble remaining patient and capitalizing on the right opportunities to maximize the value of your house.




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