Donna Coffin - ERA Key Realty Services - Distinctive Group

Posted by Donna Coffin on 3/24/2017

Buying a home represents a dream come true for many individuals. However, to transform this dream into a reality, you'll likely need to qualify for a mortgage.

Finding the right mortgage may seem difficult, particularly for a first-time homebuyer. Fortunately, we're here to help you make sense of all of the mortgage options at your disposal so you can select the right option based on your budget and lifestyle.

Here's a closer look at three of the most common mortgage options for homebuyers.

1. Fixed-Rate

With a fixed-rate mortgage, there are no cost fluctuations. This means that you'll pay the same amount each month for the duration of your mortgage, regardless of economic conditions.

For example, if you sign up for a 15- or 30-year fixed-rate mortgage, you'll wind up paying the same amount each month until your mortgage is paid in full. In some instances, you may even be able to pay off your mortgage early without penalties.

A fixed-rate mortgage often serves as a great option for those who don't want to worry about mortgage bills that may fluctuate over the years. Instead, this type of mortgage guarantees that you'll be able to pay a consistent monthly amount for the life of your loan.

2. Adjustable-Rate

An adjustable-rate mortgage represents the exact opposite of its fixed-rate counterpart. The costs associated with this type of mortgage will change over time, which means you may wind up paying a fixed interest rate for the first few years of your loan and watch this rate go up a few years later.

For instance, a 5/1 adjustable-rate mortgage means that your interest rate is locked in for the first five years of your loan. After this period, the interest rate will adjust annually. Therefore, a rising interest rate may force you to allocate additional funds to cover your mortgage costs in the future.

An adjustable-rate mortgage may prove to be a viable option if you plan to live in a home for only a short amount of time. Or, if you're a college student or young professional, an adjustable-rate mortgage may help you pay less for a home now, secure your dream job and become financially stable by the time your initial interest rate period ends.

3. VA Loans

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) provides loans to military service members and their families. These loans are backed by the government and enable individuals to receive complete financing for a house. Thus, with a VA loan, an individual is not required to make a down payment on a house.

If you ever have concerns or questions about mortgage loans, banks and credit unions are available to help. Also, your real estate agent may be able to offer mortgage insights and tips to ensure you can secure a mortgage quickly and effortlessly.

Learn about all of the mortgage options that are available, and by doing so, you can move one step closer to buying a home that matches your budget and lifestyle.

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Posted by Donna Coffin on 3/17/2017

Do you want to add a bit more space to your home? Are you in need of a room for crafts, extra storage or a place to store seasonal gear? Adding a mudroom is one of the simplest ways to add extra space while adding square footage and value to your home. Installation of a “mud room” with an exterior entrance, shower, sink and toilet is not only a “must have” feature in summer; it’s an ideal place to shed wet boots and gear. Avoid family and guests stomping in the snow, tracking mud and letting all the cold air in the house. Serving as an air lock between the outdoors and the main home interior, a mudroom helps in savings home wear and tear, maintenance and the cost of home heating and cooling. By leaving the mud and mess in the mudroom, you will substantially cut down on housecleaning efforts and save valuable time. Positioned off the garage, a mudroom is also an important feature for guys that like to have a handy place to clean up after a messy shop or gardening activity. Cleaning up here prevents tracking dirt, grease, paint or oil into the home. Pet owners find a mudroom a great place to bathe and groom their furry family. Smart home technology, paired with custom built-in lockers equipped with moisture sensing dehydrators, heaters and fans quickly dry out wet gloves, scarves, and parkas. Electronic boot dryers and shoe racks will have footgear dry and toasty warm when you venture out again into the elements. In the summer, the lockers function as a place to dry and store wet swimsuits, garden gear, and sports equipment. Overhead ceiling mounted racks or clamps can hold bulky, hard to store items. Many homebuilders combine the “mud room” and laundry room into one convenient utility room where it “OK” to be messy. Builders may add a deep “farm sink” with drain board and “no-touch faucets” to facilitate laundry chores and serve as a potting bench and work area for gardeners. Under the counter plastic bins are ideal for storing potting soil, mulch and garden tools. Add a retractable clothesline over the sink as a place to rinse out and hang sweaters or other items you would like to drip dry. By placing the washer and dryer in the mud room, you will free up a large amount of space in the interior of the house that you can convert to a home office or homework station. Also, by having the laundry facilities in the mudroom, you avoid the mess of carrying in dirty clothing through the house. With a spacious central island, shelves and storage, space can also function as a sewing room, art studio or crafts area. A ceramic tile floor with a central drain makes hosing down the floor a simple task, easily keeping the area sparkling clean. If the space allows, build in a couple of bunk beds with under the bunk storage for a dormitory style room for children’s “sleep-overs” or unexpected guests.  

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Posted by Donna Coffin on 3/10/2017

Spring is a favorite season of many. The weather gets warmer and the trees and flowers begin to bud and blossom. But spring is often a season that doesn’t get it’s own décor. Fall and winter, the coziest of seasons, have their own décor that differentiate them from the rest. Their decoration brings a cozy, warm feeling into the home. And when that décor is put away to welcome warmer weather, the home can sometimes feel empty. I’m here to help you change that. Check out these tips for the perfect home décor to welcome and celebrate spring. String Lights: One of the best things about the holidays are the decorations, which of course, includes lots and lots of lights. Although these often come down months before spring arrives, it is still nice to bring them back into the home, and outside of the home, for a new season. Have a deck or patio with a canopy or trees nearby? These are great places to hang simple string lights or decorative seasonal light strands such as stars, lanterns, and flowers. They bring a fun atmosphere to the outdoors. As for the indoors, adding lights above front doors or in bay windows can bring back some of that coziness that you feel in the cooler months. Candles: Candles are another form of décor that bring a feeling of warmth and contentment to the home and, they are not just for the fall and winter. Spring scented candles come in a myriad of fresh, floral scents. Flowers: Moods instantly brighten as the first buds begin to bloom. Bring that joy into to the home with fresh cut flowers, whether from your own garden or the local florist. They bring the season inside and add to the home’s springtime décor. Orchids, tulips, lilies, carnations and roses are perfect options to create lovely arrangements with. Arrangements are perfect for centerpieces on tables or in bay windows. Spring Holiday Decorations: Easter and Memorial Day are holidays that fall during the spring. Bring the festivities to the home by decorating for these holidays. Easter is always fun to decorate for with children but tasteful touches of Easter are equally as nice. Memorial Day may feel like the start of summer with much warmer weather and a holiday weekend, but should not be forgotten as a spring holiday. Cookouts and parties are a great excuse to add Memorial Day decorations to the indoors and outdoors. Other Home Items: There are so many other ways to add spring décor into your home. Consider decorative plates with spring colors and flowers, flower-patterned accent pillows, bedspreads, comforters, pastel colored blankets, and spring hanging artwork. Bring spring to life inside and outside of your home with décor that brings out the best of this season!

Posted by Donna Coffin on 3/3/2017

Planning to relocate to Rhode Island? You're in luck, as many high-quality residences are available across the Ocean State.

Finding a top-notch Rhode Island residence can be quick and easy, particularly for homebuyers who understand the Ocean State real estate market. Fortunately, we're here to help you discover a first-rate Rhode Island house that matches your lifestyle and budget.

Here are three tips that every Rhode Island homebuyer needs to know.

1. Know Where You Want to Live

Understand what you'd like to find in a perfect Rhode Island house. After you establish homebuying expectations, you'll be able to streamline the process of finding your ideal Ocean State residence.

For example, if you enjoy the hustle and bustle of the city, you may want to check out residences in or around Providence. Or, if you love going to the beach, you may want to examine houses in Narragansett and nearby cities and towns.

Don't forget to consider your day-to-day life before you begin your home search. If you need to commute to work or school regularly, you might want to review Rhode Island houses that are adjacent to public transportation. Or, if you have kids, you might want to explore Ocean State houses that are close to parks and various family-friendly attractions.

2. Consider Your Homebuying Budget

You'll want to establish a homebuying budget before you start your search for an Ocean State residence. By doing so, you can narrow your home search.

The prices of Rhode Island homes may vary based on the current real estate market's conditions, the size of the home you want and other factors. However, with a homebuying budget in hand, you'll know what you can afford and can plan accordingly.

Getting pre-approved for a mortgage usually is an excellent idea. Many credit unions and banks are available throughout the Ocean State and are happy to help you review a broad array of mortgage options. That way, you can select an adjustable- or fixed-rate mortgage that will enable you to move closer to securing your dream house in Rhode Island.

3. Work with a Real Estate Agent

Your real estate agent can make or break your search for the perfect Rhode Island residence. If you hire an experienced real estate agent, you may be able to make your dreams of acquiring an outstanding Ocean State residence come true.

An experienced real estate agent understands that no two homebuyers are identical, and as such, will learn about your homebuying needs. This real estate professional will find out when you'd like to move into a Rhode Island home and learn about your homebuying budget. Then, he or she will set up home showings, provide regular updates about new Rhode Island home listings and ensure you can purchase a terrific Ocean State house.

Perhaps best of all, your real estate agent is a housing market expert. Therefore, he or she will be able to respond to your homebuying questions and help you make informed decisions at each stage of the homebuying journey.

Take the guesswork out of buying a Rhode Island house – use these tips, and you should have no trouble acquiring a superb Ocean State residence.

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Posted by Donna Coffin on 2/24/2017

Whether you’re buying or selling a home, one of the most important parts of the process is the negotiation phase. This means different things whether you’re buying or selling a home. When you’re selling a home, you’re usually looking to get the most money for your home that you possibly can. If you’re buying a home, you want the lowest possible price for the home. Hence, the reason for real estate negotiations. Buyers and sellers must meet somewhere in the middle. For your consideration, we’ll break down some of the most important aspects of the real estate negotiation process. The Cost Means Different Things As we stated above, buyers want the lowest price, while sellers want the highest price possible for a home. Whatever side you’re on, expect to meet somewhere in the middle. The price of the home has to make sense for both sides. The seller wants the sale of their home to make sense financially and the buyer wants to home to fit into their budget while getting the things they desire out of the home. The Financing Process Is Complicated If you have your mortgage fully approved prior to making an offer, you’ll be able to shorten the closing time of the home. The reason for this is that the preapproval shows that all of the buyer’s finances are in order and there will be no financial problems in the transaction. Sellers often prefer these buyers since they can be trusted to close properly and there won’t any issues with the real estate transaction. The property also won’t be on hold for months on end. The Date Of Closing Matters If sellers need to get their home off of the market fast, they can negotiate when the closing date will be. As a buyer, this matters because the next month’s mortgage payment is skipped once you close on a house. The closing date affects when exactly this payment doesn’t need to be made, which can have a positive effect on your finances when it’s timed right. Closing Costs Are Actually Paid Upfront Escrow is when the mortgage company holds the money for taxes and insurance, which is the prepaid closing costs. Buyers sometimes ask sellers to pay a portion of the closing costs. This could be a flat fee or up to 3 percent of the included mortgage. This could all have an effect on the asking price for the home. Just Like A Car, Homes Can Come With Warranties Buyers can ask for a warranty on the home, or the seller can offer one. This warranty typically covers the home’s appliances and utility systems. This provides a protection if things like the air conditioning or the dishwasher break after a certain period of time and need repair. This may make the home extra enticing to buyers and give sellers an advantage to get their home off the market quickly.