Blog :: 2019

5 Tips for a Winter Open House

Selling your home in the winter in Waltham, MA is no easy task. Fewer people are looking to buy and attracting those potential buyers doesn’t come without a little extra effort. Luckily, Waltham Realtors have mastered the art of a winter open house over the years. Follow these 5 tips to ensure your winter open house is successful despite the cold!


5 Winter Open House Tips


1. Protect the Floors


Winter means salt on the sidewalks and slush on shoes. Protect the carpets in your home by asking guests to leave their shoes at the door. You can also opt for providing waterproof booties that will cover their shoes, or let the guest decide between the two options.


2. Don’t Over Decorate


You may want to go all out with festive décor, but it will hurt your chances of selling the home. Keep décor simple and sleek, but still festive. This is the year to go for a more sophisticated design rather than throwing out years’ worth of family decorations.


3. Keep it Accessible


If there’s snow in the forecast on the day of your open house, plan accordingly. You’ll need to go out and ensure the driveway, sidewalk, and steps to the entrance are all clear. You should also throw salt down to prevent ice from building up.



4. Make it Inviting


No one wants to go into a home from the cold only to still be cold! Since the door will be opening and closing a lot as people arrive to view the home, you’ll want to crank the heat up a little higher than normal. Avoid making it too hot though, as some guests may prefer to leave their coat on as they tour the home.


5. Showcase Winter Features


If your home has a feature that’s especially nice in the winter, this is the time to showcase it! If there’s a fireplace make sure to have it going with a crackling fire as guests walk through the home. Heated tile floors and a backup generator are other notable winter-friendly features to mention. Guests will likely pay close attention to the windows in the home, looking for drafts and uncomfortable areas of cold. Your goal should be to make the home as winter-friendly as possible.


Utilize all of these tips to make your winter open house as successful as possible. Wintertime doesn’t mean people aren’t going to buy, it just means you have to sell your home in the right way! If you need further assistance, be sure to contact trusted Waltham Realtor Hans Brings!


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    5 Advantages of Buying a Home in the Winter

    Winter is not traditionally thought of as a Waltham home-buying season. It's cold, people don’t want to move, and the holidays keep everyone busy. Those all may seem like reasons not to buy a home during the winter, but they’re actually reasons that describe exactly why winter is the best time!


    Advantages of Buying a Home In The Winter


    1. Less Competition


    With fewer people looking to buy in the winter you’ll face less competition from other people looking to buy. This means less risk of getting into a bidding war or losing your dream home to someone with a bigger budget. You also won’t feel so pressured to make your choice to buy right away because chances are, the home will still be for sale if you need a few days to think about it.


    2. Lower Prices


    Since there are fewer people looking to buy a home, you’ll be able to enjoy lower prices from Waltham homeowners who don’t want to wait until spring for their home to sell. Everyone loves a good bargain, especially on a home you’ll live in for years to come! 


    3. Quicker Processing Times


    Lenders and Waltham Realtors are all less busy this time of year. This will allow your paperwork to process faster and things like credit approval or home inspections will get done quickly and efficiently. It doesn’t hurt that people tend to just be a little nicer around the holidays! Your customer service experience will be better overall than if you tried to purchase during peak season.


    4. Less Time Spent Negotiating


    With sellers anxious to sell, you’ll likely spend less time negotiating. The negotiations you do make will be processed faster too since fewer offers are being put in for the home.


    5. See How a Home Handles the Cold


    Cold weather can quickly reveal weak spots in a home. Instead of buying a home in the summer only to find out there are some major issues when the cold hits, buy your home when it’s already cold so you know what to expect!


    All of these advantages can add up to some serious savings for you, both in time and in money! There’s no harm in talking to a Realtor and looking at a few houses. Who knows, maybe you’ll go into the new year with a new home that you love! There’s no better type of fresh start than a new house.



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      4 Types of Real Estate Investing

      If you’re researching ways to increase your wealth, you’ve likely come across the real estate investing options. While in some ways this can seem like a great idea, in others, it seems like a major commitment that you may not be ready for. While investing in Waltham real estate is a big commitment, there are different types of real estate investing that may be better for your time commitment and skill sets. Real estate investing, especially in Waltham, can be a great way to build wealth when it is done correctly.

      4 Ways To Invest in Real Estate


      Home Ownership

      When you buy a house, you are investing in real estate. Obviously there is a significant difference between owning your home and investing in other real estate property. While you aren’t actively making money or increasing your cash flow off of owning your own home, paying off your home is one of the best long-term investments you can make. Owning your home gives you more financial options – especially if you think you would like to invest in real estate.


      Rental Properties

      Rental properties are one of the most common forms of real estate investing. The main benefit of renting is that rental income becomes an additional revenue stream. However, renting definitely has its challenges. There are additional expenses for maintenance, repairs, and insurance for rental properties. You may also find yourself renting to families who do not pay consistently, or your property could sit temporarily vacant while you search for a new renter.


      House Flipping

      Flipping has become another popular form of Waltham real estate investing, in part due to television shows that focus on the subject. Flipping a house means purchasing it, making some improvements and other updates, and then selling the house within a short amount of time.

      The key to flipping is to purchase at a low price point. Unless you get a good deal at the beginning, you can’t expect to make much money. However, just like any investment, there is a risk you won’t make money or could even lose money. It also takes a lot of time and effort, so those are certainly some factors to consider before jumping in. You would also want to check in with a real estate agent about whether house flipping in the Waltham real estate market you are considering is worth your time and effort.



      A less conventional way of investing in real estate is through a real estate investment trust (REIT). These are companies that own real estate investments and sell shares to investors who would receive a percentage of the income made off of the investment. However, this is a risky investment type. If hands-off investing is more appealing to you, consider mutual funds instead.


      If you do plan on researching more information on either renting or flipping homes in your area, reach out to a Waltham Realtor. They can help advise you on how properties are moving in the area based on their expertise with Waltham real estate. Real estate investment can be an excellent way to add a revenue stream to your income.


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        3 Things To Demand From Your Real Estate Agent

        Are you buying a home in or around Waltham Massachusetts, especially for the first time? Buying a home can come with lots of confusion and unanswered questions. When purchasing a home, you need patience, persistence, and dedication. Hiring an experienced real estate agent can free you from the challenges of finding and buying a great home. Finding a great real estate agent is worth the time.  



        When buying a home, you must choose to work with a buyer's agent who is honest and firmly believes in full disclosure. Any licensed real estate agents are supposed to adhere to the code of ethics and standards of practice. Another way to reassure yourself is to make sure the buyer’s agent is practicing full disclosure is to ask around and read up on reviews from past buyers the agent has represented. It’s important that when looking at homes, you are looking out for potential red flags in a home. If the buyer’s agent was honest, they should be the first person to point out potential red flags in a home when viewing prospective homes. 


        Understanding Your Time Frame

        You are moving your family into a new home, and the latest move requires planning around particular schedules. The move may revolve around the start of a new job, a new school year, they all need a plan. A new school year or the beginning of a new career, you will be trying to put the move to a plan. Demand from your agent an appreciation for your schedule. Ensure your Waltham agent exerts any influence they can, to make your desired move-in date work. 


        Get Rid of All Your Challenges

        A great agent knows how to handle the challenges that will arise. Any agent should be able to adapt to today’s fast-paced real estate market. Focus on any agents that have a successful track record of making sure your Waltham home buying process is the most stress-free. Make sure your agent has a strong understanding of:


        • Market Values
        • Title Defects
        • Contracts
        • Negotiations 
        • Appraisal Discrepancies
        • Contracts
        • Mortgage/Financing 


        Never allow your agent to stray away from these motivations. You and your agent are partners in your search; you should always feel comfortable to speak up. The right home can come in different shapes and sizes, knowing how to ask will help you find your dream home. If you are ready to buy a home in Waltham, MA be sure to give Hans Brings a call today! 


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          The Ultimate Moving Checklist

          Moving can be so difficult! Whether it’s across the country or across town, the struggle to get everything together and moved to a new location can be exhausting. That’s why we’ve made this ultimate moving checklist for once you have finally bought your new home in or around Waltham, MA. Why has a hard time moved when you already spent enough energy on buying a new home? Make your life easier with this checklist!


           8 Weeks Before the Move


          1. Hire and set the budget for your mover. Remember to keep your moving budget realistic and stick to someone you know you can trust. Always read over any documents before signing!
          2. Don’t forget all this bustle means that you WILL need to request some time off. Let your employer know in advance what days you need in order to make the move!
          3. Make sure you find a new school for your kids. Some areas have multiple you can choose from. There may be vocational, public or private schools.  Look for one that you know will best suit your child’s needs as well as yours! Transferring schools may require transcripts so you might need to contact your current school!


          6 Weeks Before Your Move

          1. Keep track of what you’re packing! It is easy for things you treasure to get lost in the move. You don’t want to throw away any valuables accidentally! It may help to keep an inventory sheet in order to log everything.
          2. Mark all of your moving boxes. This will help movers determine how to pack everything without breaking anything fragile. It will also make unpacking much easier!
          3. Make sure to measure your doorways! You will want everything to fit and you would NOT want to find out on the big day that it doesn’t.


          4 Weeks Before Your Move

          1. Make sure all-important legal documents are stored somewhere safe and that all are accounted for. Carry them with you throughout the big move.
          2. Compile any health records for all members of the household.
          3. Request anything you may need for your vet and update their ID tags.


          2 Weeks Before Your Move

          1. Make a separate moving file so that you can compile all receipts and bills from moving.
          2. Back up your computer so that if anything is lost, all of your important information will be saved.
          3. Set up the trash and recycle in your new town so that you’re not stuck with a bunch of trash bags the first week in your new home!
          4. Change your address for Social Security benefits and notify any government offices you may need to know about your address change such as the IRS.
          5. Update your driver’s license and any subscriptions.
          6. Contact utility companies to turn on/off.


          The Week of the Move

          1. Clean your home.

          2. Leave a note for the new residents.

          3. Pack an essentials box with anything you will immediately need from the move.


          Have any other questions about how to make the best of your next move or need advice on finding the perfect home for your, then be sure to contact your local Waltham Realtor.


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            What is APR?

            Whether it’s home buying, taking out a credit card or taking out a loan, APR is crucial in any borrowing type of transaction that you are interested in doing. It helps to know all about an APR, including what it actually is, how it’s calculated and its application. These factors can all help you in making an informed decision when doing certain business transactions that especially has to do with borrowing and lending. Let’s take a more detailed look at the subject of APR and what it could mean for you and your Waltham real estate journey.


            What is APR?

            The acronym APR stands for annual percentage rate, and it is a yearly representation of your interest rate. You can look at it as the actual cost of borrowing money to take out something like a mortgage. Moreover, the APR for a mortgage can also include particular loan costs, such as points and mortgage origination fees. These fees are what differentiates an interest rate, which is the percentage of the principal that is charged to take out a loan, from an APR. As such, when borrowing it’s important to pay attention to both the APR and the interest rate. The idea is that you’ll get a clear understanding of how much it will cost you to take out a loan of any kind.


            Types of APR

            There are different types of APR’s that can be applied to a mortgage that a real estate agent may tell you about. The most common ones you hear about are fixed APR and a variable APR.


            Fixed APR: The APR doesn’t fluctuate based on an index for the life of the loan. This makes fixed APRs a little more predictable and can easily be worked into budgeting plans. It is still possible for the interest rate itself to change, but the issuer typically has to provide some notification of the change.

            Variable APRs: The APR is tied to an index interest rate and can change and is less predictable. The agreement will highlight how the APR can change over the life of the loan. It can fluctuate to your gain, by providing lower interest rates, for example, or to your loss, increasing your interest rate.


            Importance of APR

            In the Waltham real estate market and other sectors, it’s essential that you have some insight into the type of APR that is applied to your mortgage, which essentially becomes new debt. A good Realtor will tell you that the price to borrow to pay for your home should not be taken lightly. When getting a piece of real estate through mortgage assistance, you want to avoid high APRs that could cripple your budget. This can be avoided to a certain degree by not taking out a lot of debt, to begin with.


            Things that Impact Your Interest Rate

            As much as you may wish you could set your own APR, the lender technically establishes the interest rate that is offered on a loan, and this will impact your APR. Still, there are other factors such as credit scores that could impact your APR. Excellent credit scores will carry more weight and be beneficial in getting a lower interest rate than if your credit scores were bad.


            Be it, home selling or buying, APR isn’t something that can be overlooked. It is important in Waltham realty when deciding to take out a mortgage. Borrowers should know the types that are available to them, why it’s important and factors that could impact APR. Contact Hans Brings today to learn more about APR and the overall home buying or selling process! 


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              Pros & Con of an HOA in Real Estate

              Some homes that are sold are part of a homeowners association, more commonly referred to as HOA. When you buy an HOA home, you are agreeing to live according to a specific set of rules established by the association. You pay a fee, typically monthly, that goes towards the general maintenance and management of the larger HOA community. Living in an HOA community has its benefits and downsides, and is not a living situation that appeals to everyone so if you are thinking about getting one of these homes off the real estate market then definitely do your research. We’ll look at some of the pros and cons of an HOA that you should know about.


              What Is a Homeowners Association (HOA)?

              A homeowners association (HOA) is described by the IRS as a membership organization formed by a real-estate developer to own and maintain common green areas, streets, sidewalks and to enforce covenants to preserve the appearance of the development. In essence, it manages a community of houses, condominiums or townhouses, enforcing the agreement, conditions and restrictions set by the association. HOA fees are not added to the monthly mortgage payment. A good Realtor will tell you that prior to buying an HOA home, it’s essential to consider the rules and whether you can abide by them, and if the benefits are right for your family.


              Pros of an HOA Home

              HOA Handles Conflict Between Neighbors

              Neighbors don’t always get along and sometimes the simplest things can lead to conflict. A neighbor may have overhanging trees, a dog that barks a lot, or the backyard barbeque party may have the music too loud. The HOA can step in and mediate neighbor-to-neighbor disputes of an alleged violation of the Association’s rules. The dispute has to be one that is a common area problem or one that violates the Covenants for the Association to intervene.


              HOA Manages Common Areas in the HOA Community

              You don’t have to worry about cleaning a swimming pool or any other common areas when you live in an HOA community. The HOA is responsible for the upkeep of all the recreational areas and shared amenities in the community. This helps to property values, keeping it clean, beautiful and safe for harmonious living.


              Cons of an HOA Home

              They Make the Rules that You must Follow

              It is the Association alone that gets to decide what is acceptable, be it your Waltham home’s color, where parking is permitted, how often you mow the lawn, your front-yard landscape design and even how you decorate the exterior during the holidays, such as Christmas. They make all the rules about your home’s appearance and the scrutiny rests with them, who can express their disapproval of something you like for your home. If you are home buying in an HOA community, you should know this bit of information.


              Falling Behind on HOA Dues Can Result in Foreclosure.

              It’s crucial that you factor HOA dues into your budget. Failure to pay HOA dues and/or associated late fees can compel the Association to proceed with a foreclosure on the property. Keep in mind that each state has its own laws related to the issue. For example, some state may place limitations on when an HOA can begin the foreclosure process. 


              Home buying and Waltham home selling require knowing how to get the most out of a piece of real estate. HOA has a specific appeal to certain people who are looking for some sort of lifestyle community. It’s important to know the pros and cons of an HOA before buying into the community. If you are ready to purchase an HOA home in the Waltham area, feel free to contact Hans Brings today! 


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                4 Reasons Summer is a Great Time to Buy!

                When it comes to the perfect times to buy a home in the real estate market in Waltham, MA or any area there really isn't a concrete "perfect time." While the warmer seasons are the preferred times to purchase a house, homebuyers can essentially look and make a purchase any time throughout the year with a Realtor.In addition, the warmer months are when the real estate market is in their "boom" stage as all owners looking to sell will have their homes listed around this time. Knowing that the summer will probably be the time you will start to look and go to open houses, here are four reasons as to why you should buy a home during the summer.


                4 Benefits To Buying A Home In The Summer

                1. Family
                If you have children, the summer is a good time to seek out a Realtor to buy a home in the Waltham, MA area. Rather than uprooting them in the middle of the school year, the school will be out in the summer. By waiting until the summer, your children will have the rest of the school year to say goodbye to their friends from their old school. When buying a home in the summer, your children will have the summer to get acclimated to the new home and community, so they feel comfortable before the school year begins at their new school. 

                2. Projects
                If the home you are looking to purchase looks like it may need some work, summer is the best time for it! Weather in Waltham and New England, in general, makes it very difficult to work on different home projects throughout the year. The nice summer weather enables painters, contractors, etc. to do their job without the hassle of the cold. If you need work done inside, why not have it done while your family takes a vacation! You don’t have to worry about anyone disrupting your daily life at home if you are away!

                3. Landscaping
                If you are interested in landscaping your new home, summertime is perfect! Make your new Waltham home truly yours by incorporating different kinds of landscaping projects that you will want to have on your property. Whether it is starting a garden, adding shrubbery or installing different masonry additions to your property. Not only will this make your home more aesthetically pleasing, but it can add value to your home if you are looking to sell on the Waltham real estate market in the future. 

                4. Become Familiar with the Area
                While school is out and the days are longer, this is a great time for you as a whole family to introduce yourselves to your new community and learn more about your new location. If you purchased your home with the help of a Realtor, reach out to him/her to learn more about the community. A reputable Waltham Realtor will have ample amounts of knowledge of the town you are moving in to help you feel comfortable. People will be out and about which will let you get to know your new neighbors and their families. You could even have a summer BBQ to meet everyone at your new home! Summer is also a good time to explore the town and seek out fun activities to do as Waltham and New England have so much to offer!


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                  How Many Houses Should I Look at Before Making an Offer?

                  Buying a house is a huge moment in any person’s life as it is a huge investment. Whether you are a new homeowner or a seasoned vet, there are always going to be a bunch of questions to be asked to ensure you get the home you are envisioning. For first time homebuyers, one of the most common questions that come up is “How many houses should I look at before making an offer?”

                  How Many Homes on Average Do Home Buyers Look At?

                  While everyone’s real estate process is different, the National Association of REALTORS states that the average homebuyer views about 10 homes before making an offer. In addition, they stated that the searching process for a home usually takes around 10 weeks. To some, 10 homes may seem like a lot while others may see it as too little. The truth of it is, is that there is no secret number or secret formula to how many homes you need to look at until you find “the one.” The important thing to focus on in your home buying quest is to find a home that fits your needs and a home you can picture yourself living in for years to come. The key to finding the right home is to hire an experienced Waltham REALTOR that specializes in the town you are looking in. This real estate agent will have the knowledge needed to give you all the details you need regarding other homes on the market in the area, the town’s highlights, the community, etc. Your agent will also want to know exactly what you are looking for in a home so they can find the perfect home that will fit your needs. Your REALTOR will formulate a list of homes to go visit for open houses so you can walk through each home and start visualizing yourself in them.


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                    4 Ways to Make Your Home Eco-Friendly

                    As a homeowner looking to sell your home in Waltham, you want to make sure that your home looks amazing as well as having the capabilities to fulfill the needs of potential buyers. There are a variety of things you can do from adding new amenities to installing a patio or implementing another décor to increase the aesthetics of your home. One way you can increase the likability of your home is to make it eco-friendly. With the more people looking to “go green” and wanting to save the environment and have less of a carbon footprint, this is a great way to not only enhance your home but attract environmental friendly buyers which could increase the amount of people looking at your home compared to others on the real estate market. Below are four different ways you can add an eco-friendly element to your home.

                    4 Ways to Incorporate Eco-Friendly Aspects to Your Home

                    Water Saving

                    When it comes to saving energy on the house and trying to make a green effort, water usage always comes up. To be truly eco-friendly one needs to take a holistic approach and you can start with saving water. Go through your house and make sure there are no leaks coming from your pipes. This will not only save you money on water bills but also prevents buyers from pointing out a flaw like that which could bring down your asking price. In addition, try not to run the water while you brush your teeth and try installing a low-flow showerhead.

                    Smart Meters

                    In New England and specifically Waltham, the biggest ways your home will use energy is through heating as you will be using the heat to stay warm during the winter months. What tends to happen is that people may forget that they leave the heat on for longer than needed which leads to energy waste and more money spent on bills. A great way to avoid this from happening is by installing a smart meter. These great gadgets can be programmed to turn on during certain times of the day. One way to use it is to have the heat turn on just before you get home, so you enter a warm house and to shut off an hour before you leave. This way you are only using the heat, and energy, when needed and will be a great way to save money. This money can then be used to help buy your new home. 

                    Energy Efficient Light Bulbs

                    While these types of light bulbs have been around, not many people have come around to using them, but they are a great first step in your eco-friendly quest. Change out all the light bulbs in your home with energy efficient light bulbs to not only show that your home has up to date appliance but that you have the environment in mind. These lightbulbs use electricity and last longer than normal light bulbs which will also save you on money on buying replacements.

                    Solar Panels

                    If your home is in an area that gets exposed to a lot of sunlight, then you may want to think about installing solar panels on your home. These panels will provide clean electricity that can store so much that you could even make money and sell the energy back to the grid. One thing to keep in mind is that these panels should be considered a long-term investment. This is because, depending on your area, it may take up to 20 years for you to break even.

                    If you are looking to sell your eco-friendly home in the Waltham, MA area be sure to contact Hans Brings today!


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