4 Most Googled Questions about Real Estate

4 Most Googled Questions about Real Estate

Boston is known for its history, innovation, and cultural richness. As the capital and most populous city in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, it is New England's cultural and financial center. 

The city is a national frontrunner in scientific research, law, medicine, engineering, and business, fostering a vibrant innovation and entrepreneurship environment. With nearly 5,000 startup companies and a growing focus on artificial intelligence, Boston is where the past and future converge, creating a dynamic and forward-thinking community.

Whether you're a potential homebuyer or seller, the Boston real estate market is rich with opportunities.

1. What type of home is right for my budget?

When determining the type of home that aligns with your budget, look beyond the monthly mortgage payment. A comprehensive budget for homeownership includes homeowners' insurance, property taxes, utilities, and the inevitable costs of repairs and maintenance. These additional expenses can significantly impact the overall affordability of a home.

A critical step in this process is calculating your debt-to-income ratio, which involves dividing your total monthly expenses by your gross income. This calculation gives a clear picture of what you can afford. The ability to make a 20% down payment can be a game-changer, exempting you from needing private mortgage insurance and reducing overall monthly costs.

For first-time homebuyers, national programs like FHA or VA mortgages offer tailored assistance, often allowing for lower down payments and more flexible credit requirements. These programs can be instrumental in making homeownership accessible.

A widely used guideline in determining your homebuying budget is the 28% rule. This rule suggests that your mortgage payment should be at most 28% of your gross monthly income. The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) provides a slightly more lenient threshold, allowing up to 31% of gross income to be dedicated to a mortgage. These guidelines are valuable starting points in assessing what type of home fits within your financial landscape.

2. Should I buy an old or new home?

The decision between purchasing an old or new home has its unique pros and cons, depending on individual preferences and lifestyle requirements.

Pros of buying an old house

  • Architecture: Old houses often feature unique architectural styles like Victorian, Colonial, and Tudor, which are rarely replicated today. Their distinctive craftsmanship and attention to detail provide a charm that modern homes often lack.

  • Mature landscaping: Older properties usually have larger yards with mature landscaping, including generations-old trees and bushes, enhancing the home's value and providing emotional benefits.

  • Long purchase history: Knowing the purchase history of an older home can give insights into its appreciation value over time, offering a glimpse into its potential as a long-term investment.

  • Established neighborhood: Older homes are often more centrally located and situated in established communities, making them less susceptible to zoning changes.

  • Lower cost: Generally, old homes cost less upfront than new constructions, sometimes by as much as 30% or more, which means buyers gain more square footage for their money.

Pros of buying a new house

  • Delayed maintenance costs: New constructions typically face lower maintenance costs, with some homeowners spending significantly less on upkeep.

  • Energy efficiency: Newer homes are often more energy-efficient, thanks to advancements in construction materials and techniques, potentially including renewable energy sources.

  • Safety stamp of approval: New homes are built to meet current codes and may have lower insurance costs and higher resale values due to enhanced safety features.

  • Larger living spaces: Modern homes often have larger, open floor plans, providing more space and storage.

3. The best time to apply for a mortgage

The optimal time to apply for a mortgage involves several preparatory steps and understanding the timeline of the process. According to ICE Mortgage Technology, closing a mortgage transaction takes about 43 days. However, this duration can vary depending on the type of loan. 

Key steps in preparing for a mortgage application:

Review your credit report

Access free reports from Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion at AnnualCreditReport.com. Ensure accuracy in your report and dispute any discrepancies. Your credit score, ranging from 300-850, plays a significant role in mortgage approval and the rates offered. Strive for a score in the 'excellent' (720-850) or 'good' (690-719) range to increase your chances of favorable terms.

Explore mortgage types

There are different mortgage options based on your needs. For instance, an FHA loan might suit those needing a low down payment and flexible credit score requirements. Conversely, an adjustable-rate mortgage could be more apt if you plan a shorter stay in the home. Also, be sure to research and compare lenders. Shop around and apply with multiple lenders to find the most competitive rates. 

Assemble loan paperwork

Prepare necessary documents such as personal identification, income verification (W-2s, pay stubs, tax returns), federal tax returns, bank statements, and proof of other debts and assets.

Get pre approved

Lenders evaluate your credit report, income, and assets in the preliminary application process to determine your borrowing eligibility. A pre-approval letter gives you an idea of your budget and strengthens your position when making offers on homes, showing sellers your financing is secure.

4. Should I use a Realtor?

REALTORS®, as members of the National Association of REALTORS®, adhere to a strict Code of Ethics and bring a wealth of benefits essential for a smooth real estate transaction. Their expertise in handling many forms, reports, disclosures, and other legal and financial documents ensures that the intricate requirements of home buying and selling are met efficiently, helping you avoid costly mistakes and delays. These professionals are adept in real estate jargon, offering clarity and understanding throughout the transaction.

A REALTOR®'s role extends to providing objective information and opinions. They guide you through the home search with an unbiased eye, ensuring that your buying objectives are met while staying within your budget. Their knowledge about local amenities, utilities, zoning rules, contractors, and more makes them an invaluable resource for informed decision-making. REALTORS® handle numerous transactions over their careers, keeping them up-to-date and informed, a benefit they pass on to you.

Work With Me, Brenda van der Merwe

I have been a guiding force in the Boston area for nineteen years. My expertise extends from luxury homes and new constructions to condominium conversions and investment properties. With a proven track record of building lasting relationships with clients, helping first-time homebuyers enter the market, and assisting investors and new developers expand their portfolios, I can help you take the next steps that are right for you. Reach out to me, Brenda van der Merwe, today for successful real estate decisions in this dynamic market.



Experience excellence in real estate with Brenda, a top-producing broker in Boston. Benefit from her 19 years of expertise, strong negotiation skills, and cutting-edge marketing strategies. Trust Brenda for a successful and satisfying real estate journey.

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