Judy Kuhtreiber, Realtor | Shrewsbury Real Estate, Marlborough Real Estate, Southborough Real Estate


Applying for a mortgage can be a lengthy and difficult process. Lenders want to know that they are going to get a return on their investment.

To ensure that they’ll see that positive return they will take a number of things into consideration, such as your income, credit score, employment history, and financial capital.

First-time homeowners often struggle when it comes to these prerequisites since they have fewer years of numbers for lenders to consider. If you’re one of those people, don’t worry--you can still purchase a home.

First-time homeowner loans, which are guaranteed by the U.S. government, and a number of private loans enable people to borrow money for a home without paying a huge down payment or having a vast credit history.

One downfall of said loans is private mortgage insurance, or “PMI.”

In this article, we’re going to talk about what private mortgage insurance is, how to avoid it, and how to get rid of it. 

What is PMI?

If you make a down payment on a mortgage that is less than 20% of the loan amount, you will most likely have to pay private mortgage insurance.

PMI exists as a way for lenders to help guarantee they won’t lose money off of your loan. If you make a down payment of 20% or more, then lenders are typically satisfied that they won’t lose money from doing business with you.

PMI is not to be confused with home insurance, which protects you against damage and theft. Rather, it is an additional fee you’ll pay to your lender each month that is added to your mortgage payment.

PMI is calculated based on a few considerations. Lenders will take into account your down payment amount, the value of the mortgage, and your credit score.

In terms of costs, PMI typically costs between .5 and 1% of the total mortgage amount each year.

Avoiding PMI

Naturally, it’s best to avoid paying private mortgage insurance altogether. Private mortgage insurance has no future value for you and your family since it doesn’t count towards building equity and doesn’t protect you from any potential financial harm (your lender is the sole beneficiary of PMI).

Saving for a down payment can take time, and sometimes you’ll need to rent or cut costs while you save. However, if you do take on a loan with PMI, you can still cancel it at a later point.

Canceling your private mortgage insurance

The first thing you should know about canceling PMI is that it usually isn’t easy. You’ll need pay off at least 20% of the home, write a letter to your lender, and wait for an appraisal of the home. Once you’ve done this, you still have to wait while your lender considers your request. In all, this process could take months--months that you’re still required to pay PMI.

Once common way to get out of PMI is to refinance. If the value of your home has increased since the time of you taking on the loan, the new lender likely won’t require PMI. However, you’ll want to make sure that refinancing will get you a lower interest rate and cover the costs of refinancing. 


Buying a house should be a fast, simple process. However, problems sometimes can arise that prevent a homebuyer from discovering his or her dream residence.

Ultimately, there are many factors to consider before you purchase a house to ensure you can avoid myriad homebuying hurdles, and these factors include:

1. Your Home Needs

No two houses are identical, and much in the same vein, no two homebuyers have the same definition of the perfect residence. As such, a homebuyer should consider his or her dream home demands prior to kicking off a home search.

Making a checklist of home "must-haves" and "wants" is paramount. With this checklist in hand, a homebuyer will be able to refine his or her home search and map out the property buying journey accordingly.

It may be helpful to consider your day-to-day activities as you evaluate where you want to live too.

For example, if you work in the city, you may want to find a house that is located near public transportation. Comparatively, if you have kids, you may want to consider houses that are located close to top schools.

2. Your Budget

You know that you want to buy a house. On the other hand, you still have no idea how much money is available to ensure you can make your homeownership dreams come true.

When it comes to buying a house, it pays to meet with banks and credit unions. With pre-approval for a mortgage, you'll know precisely how much you can spend on a house.

To get pre-approved for a mortgage, set up consultations with several potential lenders. Then, you can learn about all of your mortgage options and select a mortgage lender that matches or surpasses your expectations.

3. Your Homebuying Timeline

Are you looking to buy a home as soon as possible? Or, can you afford to take a wait-and-see approach throughout the homebuying journey?

Examine your homebuying timeline and plan ahead as much as possible. By doing so, you can boost your chances of finding a terrific house and minimize stress as you browse the real estate market.

Regardless of your homebuying timeline, it always helps to work with a real estate agent. This housing market professional can take the guesswork out of searching for a residence and ensure you can discover a stellar house at a budget-friendly price.

Typically, a real estate agent will keep you up to date about new residences as they become available. He or she also will provide honest, unbiased homebuying recommendations and respond to any homebuying concerns and questions.

Let's not forget about the support that a real estate agent can provide during homebuying negotiations, either.

A real estate agent is happy to negotiate with a home seller on your behalf. That way, he or she can help you secure a great house without having to worry about paying too much.

Streamline the process of acquiring your ideal residence. Consider the aforementioned factors, and you can keep things simple as you proceed along the homebuying journey.


Whether you're hosting outdoor gatherings in your own backyard or at another outdoor venue, there are a few elements you will need to consider carefully. The size of your space and the number of expected guests is only the beginning. You'll want to plan out the flow of traffic and access to certain areas. Seating is also an important factor to establish as you plan your event. While flow and seating arrangements are practical and important parts of planning, but you will also want to think about the atmosphere, mood and parking aspects of your party.

Space and Flow

No matter your space size, you can plan a get together that accommodates all your guests. A small sit-down dinner party or a large open house type of gathering at a public park both require a deep spatial understanding of the area for comfortable interaction and relaxation. If you are working with a small area, make sure you keep walking spaces clear and that each guest will have enough elbow room. In a larger venue, you may want to set up several areas that will accommodate small groups to encourage interaction. 

It may also be a good idea to let your guests know where the bathroom(s) are located at the beginning of the event. Walk through your space and think about how your guest will get to the food, beverages and seating areas. Take care of any obstacles or items that may pose as a tripping hazard or that can break easily. Trying to clean up messes during an event is difficult and takes time away from your guests. 

Seating and Style made Simple

Having plenty of seating for all your guests will encourage social interaction. Make sure the seats are comfortable and in good condition. The last thing you want is a guest to end up embarrassed or hurt by falling out of a broken seat. Also, think about where your guest will set their drinks or plates down while they are visiting with each other. Having small side tables or coffee tables spread around the seating areas will allow for a relaxed setting. 

To set up an area that feels relaxing and fun, you may want to hang some string lighting for an evening event. This gives softer lighting than your backyard security lighting or a couple of floodlights. Using colorful planters and inexpensive outdoor lanterns can add a festive feel, as well. 

The next time you plan an outdoor gathering, walk through your space and anticipate the best flow, comfort and ambiance for your guests. You'll be glad you did!


Moving from one apartment to another is not an easy decision for the senior citizens. Apart from its area, there are other factors to consider. It is always difficult to move from a place you accustomed to, whether you are buying a home close to your family, or you are getting a new home to downsize, packing from one place to another requires proper planning. 

Senior citizens who are willing to get a new home need to make adequate preparation and follow the right steps for a seamless transition into their new apartment. Here are some tips for them:

Hire a Reliable Realtor 

Hiring a realtor seems obvious, but there is a significant difference between a realtor and a reliable realtor.  Now, how do you select a reliable realtor?  The first step is to ask for the credentials of the agent in question. Realtors who are Senior Real Agent Specialist (SRES) have undergone training to assist senior sellers and homebuyers above the age of 50.  Also, you can ask the realtor to give you the contact address of their past clients who own a property similar to yours.

Consider Aging in Place 

If you buy a three-story building, make sure you have a bedroom on the ground floor in case the stairs become an issue when you age further.  Apart from that, look into home modification like more crowded hallways or shower grab bars.

Make the Government Work for You 

You should find out about the home buying programs started by local or state government. Such programs are housing counseling services, assistance programs, and homeownership vouchers.  Apart from that, the government has established programs, laws, and regulations for homebuyers that are disabled.

Consider Your Financial Options 

You need to plan how you will finance your home whether you go for a reverse mortgage or take the regular mortgage route.  You may consider the VA loan if you and your spouse are veteran. What works for some folks may not be suitable for others, so have a chat with your lender or banker about the financing option that is best for you.  

Determine How You Will Move 

Once you have found a home, the next step is to move to your new apartment. You can take your belongings on your own or consider a hiring a professional mover. Professional movers have the workforce, tools, and expertise required to load and offload your bulky and delicate items with no issue.

Are you a senior citizen planning to buy a new house? The tips above will not only help afford you a smooth home buying process but also help you make a seamless transition to your new apartment.


Photo by silviarita via Pixabay

 

With the changing of the seasons comes the knowledge that the holidays are right around the corner. This means warm get-togethers with loved ones and holiday foods that will need to be prepared. Let’s take a look at 5 delicious dishes that you will want to make sure are a part of one or more of your holiday celebrations.

Pumpkin Pie

Can you even imagine what a fall get-together would be like without this spicy, creamy concoction known as pumpkin pie? A symbol of harvest time, the pumpkin becomes the perfect selection for practically everything as soon as the month of October rolls around. When it comes to the best pumpkin pie recipe, that is a matter of opinion. It depends on whether you like to keep it simple or prefer to make everything from scratch. Let’s take a look at a few different recipes.

If you like to keep things quick and easy, here is the perfect pumpkin pie recipe for you from All Recipes.com. It uses a pre-made pie crust, pumpkin purée and pre-mixed, pumpkin pie spice for a no-muss, no-fuss approach.

If you'd prefer a gourmet recipe, you may prefer to follow this Ultimate Pumpkin Pie Recipe from Epicurious.com. It features a homemade crust and secret ingredients that include brown sugar, sour cream and apricot preserves.

Holiday Ham

Nothing says holiday dinner quite like the appearance of a holiday ham. No need to fork out big bucks to buy a pre-made one. Save yourself a little extra this holiday season, and make your own.

If you love a sweet, baked ham, you may want to try this DIY "Honey Baked Ham ®" Recipe from Food & Wine.

In addition to a bone-in spiral cut ham, its delicious ingredients include: apple juice, honey, light brown sugar, honey mustard, black pepper and cayenne pepper.

Eggnog

Nothing says “Winter Wonderland” quite like a cup of fresh eggnog. Sure, you could just buy some that comes pre-made in a milk carton, but what fun would that be? Why not make this Amazingly Good Eggnog from All Recipies.com instead? It features fresh cloves, vanilla extract, cinnamon and nutmeg, with rum being optional of course. If you'd prefer to keep the flavor and lose the alcohol, try adding rum flavoring instead! Remember, a little goes a long way.

Green Bean Casserole

The dish that everyone is expecting, green bean casserole, is a favorite at every family get-together during the holiday season. This creamy, smooth-tasting dish has been served in kitchens since 1955. The great thing about it is that it only takes 10 minutes to whip up. If by chance you don’t already have this recipe, here is a copy of it, straight from its creator, Campbell’s Soup Company.

Sweet Potato Casserole

Are you a fan of sweet potatoes? If so, then around the holidays you probably look forward to being able to enjoy sweet potato casserole at the dinner table. There are many recipes out there, but we like this one from My Recipes.com because the casserole is topped with marshmallows and toasted pecans (yum)!

Whether you choose to whip up something simple or complicated, your guests are sure to appreciate the efforts put into creating a dish for them that nourishes their body and warms their heart.