Pat Baker - REALTY EXECUTIVES Boston West



Posted by Pat Baker on 10/6/2017

At a glance, buying a home seems like a daunting and complicated process. If it's your first time buying a home you're probably hearing a lot of terms that don't mean much to you like "rate commitment," "prequalify," and an array of acronyms that no one has ever really explained like APR and ARM. What many first time homebuyers don't realize is that the mortgage application process is relatively straightforward. It's a way for lenders to determine if they will lend money to the homebuyer. The lender will require some documentation on your part and you'll want to do your homework when it comes to choosing the right mortgage for you, but if you're confused about where to begin, here's everything you need to know about the home mortgage application process.

Gather your documents

Each lender will be slightly different when it comes to what records and documents they require from you. In general, lenders will require two years of work history, proof of income, and tax papers. They will also ask for your permission to run a credit check. Some things you should bring when applying for a mortgage include:
  • Your most recent pay stubs (at least two)
  • Your most recent W-2 forms
  • Completed tax returns
  • Bank statements
  • Gift letters
  • Debt - credit cards, student loans, etc.

Filling out the application

The actual application for the mortgage is pretty simple. Be expected to provide your personal and marital information, as well as your social security number. When you apply for a loan you'll also be determining if you're applying singly or with another person, such as a spouse. Some people apply jointly to seek a higher loan amount. However, you should be aware that if this is your plan of action the lender will require income and credit information from both of you. Keep in mind that it isn't easy to remove one person from a home loan once the contract is signed, so you should make certain of this decision before applying jointly.

Locked-in interest rates

It won't come as a surprise to you that, like in other industries, interest rates on mortgages fluctuate. For this reason, many home buyers attempt to "lock-in" their interest rate, meaning the lender is no longer allowed to change the interest rate after signing. The benefit of locking in your interest is that it can avoid having your interest rate raised before you sign on the home. The disadvantage is that since rates fluctuate, you could miss out on a lower one. This is also the difference between APR (annual percentage rating) and ARM (adjustable rate mortgage). With an APR, the cost of borrowing money (interest) is fixed. For an ARM, the interest rate can increase, decrease, or stay the same at different points in the repayment process.

Refinancing

Your financial situation is bound to fluctuate throughout your life, hopefully for the better. At some point down the road, it might make sense to refinance on your mortgage. Essentially this means you are agreeing to change the details of the mortgage to either accept a different interest rate or to alter the length of the loan term. Refinancing usually involves fees, however, so you don't want to rely on it too heavily as a fallback.





Posted by Pat Baker on 5/19/2017

American households are busier than ever before. Parents are working overtime to keep up with the cost of living. Meanwhile, kids and teenagers have more homework than previous generations. Teens and parents alike are burdened with saving for college. And, everyone in today's world has to take the time out of their day to stay updated on social media. That doesn't leave much time in the day to hang around and relax with your family. If you--like many American families--wish you could spend more time together, it could be as simple as having a plan and making time on your schedule. This article will cover the steps to planning a weekly family night and how to stick to the plan once you start.

Step One: Scheduling

The hardest part of planning a family night is finding a time to have it. Each member of the family likely has sports, extracurricular activities, or other obligations that keep them tied up. Find one night of the week that works for everyone. To make sure nobody forgets, add it to your calendar and send invites to the whole family. You can do this via Facebook, Google Calendar, or just a note on the refrigerator--whatever works for your family's needs. A good practice to make sure everyone remembers is to send out a group text message reminder to the whole family so that no one is left out.

Step Two: Make it fun for everyone

If your family nights aren't "fun for the whole family" you can be assured that they won't last long. This can be hard in a family where kids are at different ages and have different interests. Games that your two-year-old loves will seem boring to your teenager, and vice versa. One way to make sure everyone enjoys family night is to alternate who gets to pick the activities. Start off with your youngest child and work your way around to yourself, this way everyone gets a chance to have a night that they can especially look forward to.

Step Three: Choosing activities

There are endless fun family night activities. Depending on the ages of the members of your family, you might have to stick to things that are more kid-friendly. You're also going to need to pick activities that are season and weather-appropriate. Here are some examples for family night activities that work for various ages and seasons:
  • Paint night - gather the colors, brushes, and paper you need, then watch a painting tutorial together
  • Game night - the most time-tested family night activity is board games. Roll the dice to decide which games to play.
  • Video game night - multiplayer games that include everyone are the best option. But you could also take turns or have tournaments to play against each other.
  • Ice cream - in the summer, take the family out for ice cream and a walk.
  • Bake night - make enough types of cupcakes, cookies, and brownies to last the whole week.
  • Backyard camping - set up your tent, build a fire, make S'mores, identify stars and planets, tell ghost stories, and whatever other fun camping ideas you can think of.




Tags: home   house   kids   children   family   games   fun   planning  
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Posted by Pat Baker on 2/10/2017

Moving is stressful. You have to worry about cleaning out your old home, preparing your new one and all of the logistical headaches that come with it. If that weren't enough, you still have to balance your work and family life with the demands of moving into a new home. With all of those factors taken into account, it's easy to make mistakes on moving day. Today, we'll cover five of the most common mistakes people make while moving to a new home and how to avoid them.

1. Thinking you don't need help

None of us want to burden our friends or our wallets for moving. But unless all of your belongings fit in a suitcase and you're moving to a furnished apartment you're going to need some help. Whether it's friends, family, or professional movers, make sure you have enough people to help you with the moving process. Don't worry, you can repay them with free food or a good tip accordingly.

2. Assuming your help is reliable

If you're counting on friends and family to help you move, check in with them a few days in advance to make sure they're still available. Give them details for the exact time and place they're needed. As a courtesy, order everyone pizza at the new house in exchange for their help. If you're hiring a mover, do some research before you commit to one. Read customer reviews and testimonials, make sure they have all required licensing, and so on. Call to confirm on the day before the move to make sure no mix-ups have been made.

3. Not taking traffic into account

If you and your movers are on a deadline, take traffic into account for your move. Do a test run along the moving route during the hours you'll be traveling to find out how long it will take. This will also help you plan out stops for gas if needed. Another good practice is to print out directions to the new home and give them to everyone who will be driving. This way you and your moving van know exactly which route to take.

4. Forgetting overnight necessities

Necessities like a tooth brush, deodorant, soap, and cell phone charger should be packed in a separate bag that stays with you. This way it won't get lost among your boxes and regardless of where you're sleeping that night you'll know where to find the important items you need.

5. Not planning for their pet

Moving your belongings is easy, but moving your pet will require extra planning. You'll have to ready your crate, pet food, toys, litter box or dog bags, and anything else your pet needs. You'll also need to look out for your pet during the move since doors will be opening and closing and they'll be in a new (potentially frightening) environment. If you can, have someone pet sit for you on moving day. If that isn't possible, keep the pet in an empty room with everything they need until you've settled in, checking up on them periodically.




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Posted by Pat Baker on 12/16/2016

People often describe themselves as either a "city person" or "country folk" depending on their taste when it comes to where they like to spend their time. Usually, what they really mean is that they prefer either the busy or the quiet life. However, there's a lot more to choosing the best place to live besides just the number of neighbors you'll have. If you're trying to decide whether you want to buy a home in the city, live out in the country, or move to the suburbs where you get a little bit of each, this article will tell you everything you need to know to make the right choice.

Life in the city

If you grew up in a small town, odds are you always dreamed of someday living in the city. The busy streets, the tall buildings, and public transportation that you can take anywhere all make city life feel like one giant amusement park if you grew up in the country. However, there's a lot more to city life than just the bustling atmosphere.
  • Amenities. One of the main benefits of living in the city is easy access to most of the necessities of life. Depending on your location in the city you might be surrounded by hospitals, schools and grocery stores.
  • Entertainment. You'll never run out of things to do or new places to explore living in a big city.
  • Community and culture. In most large cities you'll find great diversity of cultures and values. If you're looking for a place you can identify with, odds are you'll find a community you can fit into within the city.
  • Cost of living. This varies between cities and states, but generally the cost of living goes up in the big cities with higher rent prices, more expensive groceries and dining options.
  • Traffic. You have to love being around other people if you live in a big city. Whether you're on the train or at the crosswalk, you'll always be within arms length of a group of strangers.

Country living

  • Privacy and sovereignty. If you like your alone time and the freedom to do what you want with the space you have, country life might be for you.
  • Peace and quiet. If you hate traffic jams and don't mind driving long distances to reach amenities, small town living could be a good fit.
  • Nature and space. Out in the country there's plenty of room to roam and to experience the local flora and fauna.

Suburban life

Life in the suburbs is meant to have the best features of the city and the country. Hopefully your town has a couple grocery stores and easy access to the highway to reach the nearest city. It will also have access to recreation parks. One downfall of suburban life is that you need to make the extra effort if you want to build the sense of community provided in the city or the connection to nature that comes with living out in the country. However, if you are the type to actively seek these out, suburban life could be the happy medium your life needs.




Tags: home   city   living   life   home living   country   suburbs  
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Posted by Pat Baker on 9/9/2016

Humans today live a lifestyle more fast-paced than ever before. We're constantly keeping track of work, bills, emails, friends on social media... the list goes on. With all of these social and work responsibilities it's sometimes hard to unwind at the end of the day and fall asleep on time at night. Americans have some of the poorest sleeping habits on earth. One in three have what could be considered "mild insomnia." While sleeping patterns vary between cultures, one thing is certain: getting enough quality sleep is vital to living a long and healthy life. Here are some changes you can make in the bedroom that will help you get more quality shut-eye.

Beds are for sleeping

Are you the type who stays in bed watching TV, eating, reading on your phone or laptop. If so, you might be losing sleep because of it. It's important to train your body to know that when you're in bed with the lights off it's time to sleep. Read in your kitchen or on the sofa at night rather than in the bedroom if you're the type who has to be busy up until bedtime.

Clean your room

If your bedroom is messy, cluttered, or uncomfortable in any way it might be affecting your sleep. Clean things up to make it a more spacious, cozy environment. Once you've cleaned, don't stop there. Try adjusting the lighting and colors in your room as well. Studies have shown that the colors in our environment affect our mood. You don't want bold, stimulating colors in a place devoted to sleep. To make lighting adjustments, keep your shades or curtains open at night so natural light wakes you up in the morning. This is a good practice for your circadian rhythm (our 24-hour sleep cycle that helps us wake up and fall asleep naturally). If you do use lights in your room at night, use a soft, yellow light. Blue light, liek that emitted from most LEDs, is higher on the UV spectrum and tricks your body into thinking it's daytime.

No phones in bed

Just like the LED lights mentioned above, your phone, laptop, and tablets all emit light that can keep you up. When darkness falls your brain begins producing melatonin (a chemical than makes you fall asleep). Staring into these screens inhibits that production, keeping you up later. You may feel that you're "just not tired," which is perfectly true. But it's because you're stopping your body from telling you it's time for bed. Some alternatives to looking at your phone would be to read or knit in bed while you wait to feel sleepy. Then you can just put them down and drift off to sleep. Helpful bedtime tips:
  • At night, set your phone's brightness to very low and if you have an iPhone use the "night shift" mode that turns your phone's light from blue to yellow
  • Listen to calming, ambient music on your iPod that will take your mind off distracting thoughts
  • Listen to an app or podcast designed to help you sleep
  • If you can't sleep after an hour or so, try getting up for a bit or having a protein-filled snack. Then try going back to bed
     




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