Michael Leary | Hingham Real Estate, Hull Real Estate, Cohasset Real Estate, Braintree Real Estate

If your family includes one or more dogs, your house-hunting checklist will probably include some very pet-specific features.

While these wish-list items are not absolutely essential to everyone, they will help make pet ownership more pleasurable and hassle-free for both you and your dog.

Large, fenced-in backyard: Since dogs love to run, play, and exercise, a spacious backyard is a desirable aspect of a new home. Kids love them, too! Fenced-in yards are ideal for families with dogs, since it helps prevent your pet from wandering away, bothering your neighbors, or straying into traffic. A solid, well-maintained fence can also help protect pets from wildlife, such as coyotes, raccoons, and foxes. Although gaps at the bottom of the fence need to be blocked to prevent small animals and pets from going in or out, a well-maintained fence can provide a lot of protection, security, and privacy. If your dog happens to be a loud or frequent barker, it would also be beneficial to find a house that is sufficiently spaced from other homes in the immediate area. (For many suburban house hunters, that's already a strong preference!)

Walkable neighborhood: One of the many advantages of dog ownership is that it helps motivate you and your family to get some regular exercise. Since dogs love to go for daily walks with their owners, an ideal neighborhood would offer one or more of the following features: residential streets with light traffic, sidewalks, or easy access to a public park. If a neighborhood you're considering has a designated dog park nearby, that's another desirable amenity to keep in mind. While not all dogs (or owners) feel comfortable in dog parks, others thrive in that environment.

Dog-friendly flooring: Dogs bring a lot of positive qualities into our lives, but neatness is rarely one of them! Even the most well-trained dogs have a messy accident every once in a while, so certain kinds of flooring are less desirable than others. Carpeting and pets are almost never a good combination -- especially if the carpeting isn't stain resistant and darkly colored. All types of flooring have their pros and cons, but some materials are easier to clean, more scratch resistant, and less prone to water damage. Those include vinyl, stone tiles, and laminate flooring, If hardwood is your flooring material of choice, then a coating of urethane will make it more resistant to stains, spills, and scratches.

From a convenience standpoint, it's also desirable to buy a house that's relatively close to essential services, such as a veterinary clinic, boarding facility, and grooming services. When moving to a new community, it's always a good idea to check on any local regulations, licensing requirements, and restrictions that might apply to your four-legged companion(s). Much of that information can usually be gleaned from town, municipal, or HOA websites.

No income verification mortgage loans sound like a great idea. Also known as stated loans, these are easier to obtain than traditional mortgages. You won’t have to go through endless amounts of paperwork that traditional mortgages require. Think again. These types of loans are high risk and borrowers may have a hard time paying these loans back. Many lenders have removed these kinds of loans from their list of options. In certain circumstances, these loans can work for you, but you have to do your homework. 

Where Can You Get A Stated Loan?

Some lenders still provide these stated loans with no verification process required. Unlike earlier times, these loans are now pretty difficult to obtain. Typically, this type of mortgage is geared towards the self-employed and requires a large down payment. Also, the borrower must have a very good credit score to be considered for the loan. 

Are Stated Loans Unaffordable?

Since these loans come at very high interest rates, they are often seen as unaffordable due to the high monthly payment. Stated loans can have double the interest rate of what the current available mortgage rates are. However, if you don’t have many options, or are in a hurry to get a home and have money in the bank, it could work well for you.  

Could A No Income Verification Loan Be Right For You? 

If you really want a home loan, the first step is to be truly honest about your income. If you find a beautiful home and know that it’s out of your price range, you could risk defaulting on the loan. 

To truly understand what you can afford, you’ll need to figure out all of your monthly expenses including taxes, mortgage insurance, phone bills and grocery bills. This will give you a full picture of your finances. Once you look at all of these factors, you may find that it does make the most sense for you to get a no income verification loan. 

Deciding On The Type Of Loan You’ll Get

If you find that you need a lower monthly payment, it may make more sense for you to go after a traditional home loan. If you’re self-employed and know that your options are limited, a stated loan certainly is an option for you, you’ll just need to understand the risks of the entire process. You’ll also need to have a bunch of documents ready for the lender once you decide to go for the home loan. You can compare the costs of a no income verification loan to a traditional mortgage. Then, you can ask your lender what they’ll need from you in order to verify everything for the traditional mortgage. Any good broker can help you through your decision-making process. You’ll want to be well informed and compare all of the programs along with their fees. You should get recommendations on a lender who has the knowledge and experience to help you find the home loan that’s right for you.

When you buy a home, you suddenly realize that your wallet and bank account become quickly drained with all of the expenses involved. If you want to save money when you own a home, you’ll need to find ways to cut down on your spending. This takes some creativity and some budgeting. The good news is that you don’t have to sacrifice everything in order to live in the home you want. There are many ways that you can trim your budget and you probably never even thought of them.  

The Grocery Store

We all need to eat, so you definitely can’t eliminate food from your budget! You can get your grocery bill down significantly with some careful planning. 

One of the biggest problems that people have, when they head to the grocery store, is that they simply shop without a plan. Make a list of what you need to buy. There are certain things that just about everyone needs every grocery trip like milk, bread, and eggs. If you go into the store with a list, you’ll have a plan that you can stick to. Know what you’re going to cook and what everyone will eat throughout the week. If you bring coupons along on a grocery trip, try not to bring anything that you don’t have use for. You’ll overspend if you buy just based on coupons. After you start your new system, you can have a clear budget that will become a habit over the course of time.

Don’t Pay For What You Don’t Use

Are you paying for things like a landline telephone or cable? Do you actually use these services? Cutting the cords can save you a lot of expenses. Also, you’re truly wasting money if you’re paying for something that you don’t use. There’s also some cheaper alternatives available when it comes to these types of services. 

Do More Yourself

While you may have relied on the luxury of a cleaning service or a landscaping service, you can cut these things out of your budget. It’s fairly simple to clean up after yourself, just set some standards with your family in order to keep the house up. As far as landscaping, you can probably do some of the mowing and raking on your own. You can still keep these services, but perhaps you want to save the maid for an every other month deep cleaning of your home. 

Other Places To Cut Expenses

Depending upon your lifestyle and needs, there are probably a few other places that you can save in your budget. These include:

  • Seeing where you can save on insurance policies
  • Finding alternatives for pet care and child care
  • Cutting back on your commuting costs by carpooling or using public transport

When you take a good look at your budget, you’ll see that there are plenty of ways that you can start saving, yet still live in the home of your dreams and keep your lifestyle.

The bathroom can quickly become one of the most neglected rooms of the house. Sure, we need to clean it often. We certainly use it often enough! We probably never think to update the bathroom in small ways. There’s many quick things that we can do in the room that allow us to refresh the room without a total overhaul. 

Add A New Mirror

Adding a new mirror not only will brighten the room, it could make a small bathroom appear larger. A new medicine chest with a mirror attached is also a great option that helps you to stay organized and keep medicines and other essentials hidden from plain sight. Adding lighting to a mirror is another bonus that will add some function and a new element to your room. Place a mirror strategically for a room that looks larger.    

Add Some Fresh Paint

A fresh coat of paint in a room can work wonders. You can update the color of the space and completely transform it by adding new matching shower curtains and accessories. 

Make Sure Your Cabinets Are Functional

It’s not practical to have storage in your bathroom that you can’t use. If you have things stored in the bathroom, be sure that you can actually get to all of the items. If you need to install pull-out shelves or baskets for easier access, do so. If your bathroom looks nice, but isn’t very easy for you to use or find anything, it’s not working for you.

Update The Tile

While this sounds like quite a project, installing tile isn’t too hard of a DIY. You can buy types of tile that basically are a no-brainer to install. With the right measurements, there won’t be a ton of cutting tile and filling in the cracks. The most difficult part of this project could actually be removing the old tile. 

Change The Light Fixture

Just this one simple change can actually make your bathroom look like a whole different room. Choose a light fixture that will have a dramatic effect on the room and match the desired style.

Replace The Countertop

Bathroom countertops don’t get quite as much attention as kitchen countertops do. The truth is that changing the area of the bathroom countertop, along with anything else you choose to do, can really have an impact on the room. You don’t need to find an expensive material. Just pick something that will go with the room and that you love. 

Refinish Cabinets

Any cabinets that you may have in your bathroom could be refinished to breathe life into the room. It’s fairly simple to refinish cabinets that aren’t in tough shape. All you’ll need is some sandpaper and fresh stain for the wood. If the style permits, you could even repaint your cabinets for a new appearance.

After you accept a homebuyer's offer on your residence, he or she likely will complete a home inspection. Then, the homebuyer may choose to move forward with the home purchase, rescind or modify his or her offer or ask the home seller to complete home improvements.

Ultimately, a home seller is likely to have many questions following a home inspection, including:

1. What did the homebuyer discover during the home inspection?

As a home seller, it is important to do everything possible to enhance your residence before you add it to the real estate market. By doing so, you can boost your chances of generating substantial interest in your house. Plus, when a homebuyer performs a home inspection, he or she is unlikely to find any problems that may slow down the home selling process.

An informed home seller may conduct a home appraisal prior to listing his or her house on the real estate market. This appraisal enables a home seller to identify potential trouble areas within a residence and explore ways to address such problems.

If you failed to perform a home appraisal, there is no need to worry. For home sellers, it is important to see a home inspection as a learning opportunity. And if a homebuyer identifies problems with your residence during a home inspection, you should try to work with him or her to resolve these issues.

2. Should I stand my ground after a home inspection?

Be realistic after a home inspection, and you'll be able to make the best decision about how to proceed.

For example, a home seller who goes above and beyond the call of duty may address major home problems prior to listing his or her house on the real estate market. This home seller will dedicate the necessary time and resources to correct home problems and ensure a homebuyer is able to purchase a top-notch residence.

But what happens if a homebuyer identifies problems during a home inspection, despite the fact that a home seller already tried to correct various home issues?

A home seller should consider the homebuyer's inspection report findings closely. If minor home repairs are needed, he or she may be able to fix these problems to move forward with a home sale. Or, if a homebuyer is making exorbitant demands, a home seller may feel comfortable allowing the homebuyer to walk away from a home sale.

3. How should I proceed after a home inspection?

A home inspection can be stressful for both a home seller and a homebuyer. After the home inspection is completed, both parties will be better equipped than ever before to make informed decisions.

If a homebuyer encounters many problems with a residence, he or she will let the home seller know about these issues. Then, a home seller can complete assorted home repairs, offer a discounted price on a home or refuse to perform the requested home maintenance.

Working with a real estate agent is ideal for a home seller, particularly when it comes to home inspections. A real estate agent will negotiate with a homebuyer on your behalf and ensure you streamline the home selling process.