Jenny Mendez Isenburg | Boston Real Estate, Brookline Real Estate, Natick Real Estate


If you're renting a nice house, condo, or apartment, there's a good chance your monthly rent check is almost as much as a mortgage payment. Perhaps you've realized this and have been asking yourself why you're contributing to someone else's nest egg, instead of your own! If that sounds familiar, you may be ready to take the plunge into home ownership.

The other half of the equation is whether you're financially ready, and that would depend on a variety of things, including your credit rating, your debt-to-income ratio, and your ability to make a sufficient down payment on a new home. Although a 20% down payment is a desirable target to aim for, there's often a lot of flexibility on how much you're required to put down on a house.

One of the main reasons a 20% down payment is desirable is that it takes you "off the hook" for having to pay monthly private mortgage insurance (PMI). The second advantage of making a substantial down payment is that it reduces the principal amount of your loan, which, in turn, lowers your monthly payments even more. However, if you're ready to become a home owner, but can't afford a 20% down payment, you can often eliminate PMI payments earlier than scheduled by making extra principal payments. The bank or mortgage company you decide to work with can fully explain their policies and what your options are.

If you are interested in making the transition from renter to home owner, now's a good time to start talking to loan officers. If nothing else, you'll be educating yourself on the intricacies of buying a home. Working with an experienced real estate agent is another way to learn the ropes, so to speak, when it comes to the home buying process.

Other than the financial benefits of building equity in your own home, there are also a lot of practical advantages. If you're currently a renter, for example -- especially in an apartment building, duplex, or townhouse -- you're probably tired of the lack of privacy and the unwelcome noises you can often hear through walls, floors, and ceilings.

Becoming a home owner brings with it a pride of ownership and the ability to plant trees, bushes, and gardens on your own property. Depending on what's available in your price range, you can also enjoy your own private deck, screened in porch, or patio. Options for the kids (if you have them) include swing sets, sand boxes, and room to play backyard sports or run through a water sprinkler during the hot weather.

If you feel like you are ready to take the plunge into home ownership, the first step is to make lists of your requirements, your preferences ("wish list"), and financial resources. The next step is to find a good real estate agent to start showing you homes that fulfill your needs and check off as many items on your wish list as possible!


Photo by House Method on Unsplash

The size of your kitchen does not necessarily determine its functionality. What matters more is how you utilize the space you have. With long aisles and parallel counter spaces, galley kitchens are a great and efficient option. This design provides plenty of room for storage and preparation. Galley kitchens feature a central aisle with countertops, appliances, and cabinetry on either side. It is an excellent option for small kitchen spaces but also works well for mid-sized areas. Galley kitchens are built for efficiency and when well-conceived, can also help to control traffic flow in and out of the kitchen. If you wish to have your small kitchen remodeled, the galley design is one to consider.

The tips listed below will ensure you get the best from your galley kitchen design.

Storage

There are several storage options that can be incorporated into a galley kitchen. Because the footprint is narrow, you’ll want to make use of vertical spaces. If you prefer to have more counter space, create symmetry with a design that utilizes counters and base cabinets on both sides. Include open shelving or glass-front cabinets above your counters for dishes and glasses. If storage is more important to you, consider using one wall for floor to ceiling cabinets and utilize the other wall for open shelving, and preparation space. 

Style

When it comes to styling this kitchen type, your creativity comes to play. The galley kitchen is a style that encourages minimalism, but don’t be afraid to introduce interesting colors or materials. If you don’t have much natural light, consider incorporating lighter colored materials and installing plenty of lighting options to brighten your work areas. If your space is especially narrow, selecting cabinetry that does not need knobs or pulls will save you visual space.

Seating

Because of its narrow layout, a galley kitchen design is not one that can accommodate a dining table and chairs. Incorporating a seating area can be a challenge. If you want to be social while you work around the kitchen, consider using an island as one side of the galley. This allows for counter height seating on the opposite side of your prep surface but doesn’t interrupt the flow of your space.


How a home seller engages buyers is key. If a seller allocates the necessary time and resources to connect with buyers, he or she can boost the likelihood of enjoying a successful property selling experience.

Now, let's take a look at three tips to help you engage buyers and speed up the house selling journey.

1. Create an Effective Home Listing

An effective home listing can make a world of difference for any seller, at any time. Because if you can provide buyers with plenty of details about your home in your listing, you could make it easy for buyers to understand your house's full potential.

Typically, it is a good idea to write a clear, concise and simple-to-understand home listing. You should include accurate information about your home in your listing, and you should avoid stretching the truth.

You also may want to incorporate high-resolution images of your home into your listing. That way, homebuyers will know what to expect when they view your house in-person.

2. Upgrade Your Home's Curb Appeal

If your house boasts amazing curb appeal, buyers may be instantly attracted to your residence. And as a result, you may receive many buyer requests to view your house as soon as your residence becomes available.

To improve your house's curb appeal, you should mow the lawn, trim the hedges and perform other lawn care tasks. In addition, you should fix any cracked or chipped home siding.

You may want to hire lawn care and home improvement professionals, too. With these professionals at your side, you can quickly bolster your house's curb appeal.

3. Remover Clutter

If your home is filled with antiques, paintings and various knick-knacks, you may want to remove these items for the time being. In fact, if you have a clutter-free residence, buyers may fall in love with your house as soon as they walk through the front door.

Oftentimes, it helps to rent a storage unit before you list your home. If you have a storage unit, you can keep assorted personal belongings safe while you try to sell your house.

For those who want to eliminate excess items, you can list these items online or host a yard sale. You may want to consider donating any unwanted items to a charity or giving them to family members or friends as well.

Lastly, as you get set to add your house to the real estate market, it may be beneficial to hire a real estate agent. This housing market professional knows what it takes to engage buyers. Thus, if you are searching for help as you craft a home listing, a real estate agent is happy to assist you. On the other hand, if you have any concerns or questions as you navigate the home selling journey, a real estate agent can instantly respond to them.

Engage buyers throughout the home selling journey – use the aforementioned tips, and you could reap the benefits of a fast, profitable house selling experience.


If you plan to sell your house in the foreseeable future, it usually pays to clean out the garage. In fact, a home seller who declutters the garage today can show homebuyers the true size and beauty of this space, thereby increasing a house's overall appeal.

Ultimately, it won't take long for a home seller to declutter the garage – here are three tips to help you remove clutter from your garage before you list your residence.

1. Identify Excess Items

Old automotive parts, tools and other excess items can take up lots of space in your garage. However, a homeowner who dedicates the necessary time and resources to identify garage clutter can plan accordingly.

Separate must-keep garage items from excess items. Then, you can determine exactly how much space that you'll need to store the items that you want to keep.

For many homeowners, storage cabinets and shelving units make it easy to keep track of items in a garage. Or, if you need extra space to store garage items, you may want to consider renting a storage unit until you finalize your home sale.

2. Sell, Donate or Dispose of Excess Items

When it comes to excess garage items, there is no need to delay the inevitable. If you sell, donate or dispose of garage clutter, you can quickly eliminate excess items from your garage.

Selling your excess garage items online or hosting a yard sale may prove to be worthwhile. In both instances, you can generate interest in assorted garage items and earn extra cash at the same time.

In addition, you may be able to donate excess garage items to local charities. If you reach out to local charities and learn about their donation policies, you can find out which charities will accept your excess garage items and schedule donation pick-ups.

On the other hand, if you find garage items that are broken or damaged, dispose of these items. That way, you can free up space in your garage immediately.

3. Conduct In-Depth Garage Cleaning

After you remove garage clutter, it is important to spend some time cleaning your garage from top to bottom. This will enable you to transform an ordinary garage into a spectacular one.

If you need extra help with garage cleaning, don't hesitate to contact a professional home cleaning company. This business likely employs friendly, diligent cleaning experts who can help you accelerate the garage cleaning process.

Lastly, if you're searching for the best ways to improve your home before you list it, you may want to hire a real estate agent.

A real estate agent can offer honest, unbiased garage cleaning recommendations and suggestions. Plus, this housing market professional will set up home showings, keep you up to date about offers on your residence and ensure you can enjoy a fast, seamless home selling experience.

Want to sell your residence soon? Use the aforementioned tips, and you can bolster your garage's appearance in no time at all.


Whether you’re a first time homebuyer or a seasoned homeowner, the terminology of mortgages can be confusing. Since buying a home is such a huge financial decision, you’re also going to want to make sure you understand every step of the process and all of the conditions and fees along the way.

In this article, we’re going to explain some of the common terms you might come across when applying for a home loan, be it online or over the phone. By learning the basic meaning of these terms you’ll feel more confident and prepared going into the application process.

We’ll cover the acronyms, like APRs and ARMs, and the scary sounding terms like “amortization” so that you know everything you need to about the terminology of home loans.

  • ARM and FRM, or adjustable rate vs fixed rate mortgages. Lenders make their money by charging you interest on your home loan that you pay back over the length of your loan period. Adjustable rate mortgages or ARMs are loans that have interest rates which change over the lifespan of your loan. You may start off at a low, “introductory rate” and later start paying higher amounts depending on the predetermined rate index. Fixed rate mortgages, on the other hand, remain at the same rate throughout the life of the loan. However, refinancing on your loan allows you to receive a different interest rate later down the road.

  • Amortization. It sounds like a medieval torture technique, but in reality amortization is the process of making your life easier by setting up a fixed repayment schedule. This schedule includes both the interest and the principal loan balance, allowing you to understand how long and how much money will go toward repaying your mortgage.

  • Equity. Simply state, your equity is the the amount of the home you have paid off. In a sense, it’s the amount of the home that you really own. Your equity increases as you make payments, and having equity can help you buy a new home, or see a return on investment with your current home if the home increases in value.

  • Assumption and assumability. It isn’t the title of a Jane Austen novel. It’s all about the process of a mortgage changing hands. An assumable mortgage can be transferred to a new buyer, and assumption is the actual transfer of the loan. Assuming a loan can be financially beneficial if the home as increased in value since the mortgage was created.

  • Escrow. There are a lot of legal implications that come along with buying a home. An escrow is designed to make sure the loan process runs smoothly. It acts as a holding tank for your documents, payments, as well as property taxes and insurance. An escrow performs an important function in the home buying process, and, as a result, charges you a percentage of the home for its services.

  • Origination fee. Basically a fancy way of saying “processing fee,” the origination covers the cost of processing your mortgage application. It’s one of the many “closing costs” you’ll encounter when buying a home and accounts for all of the legwork your loan officer does to make your mortgage a reality--running credit reports, reviewing income history, and so on.