Home Buyers

Great New Downtown Northampton Listing!

Come check out 21 Hooker Avenue in downtown Northampton, MA! This beautifully updated, move-in ready home with historic charm and modern amenities is set on a quiet cul-de-sac within walking distance to downtown Northampton and one block from the bike trail. The house features a brand-new custom kitchen with energy efficient stainless-steel appliances and large island; a remodeled upstairs bathroom with clawfoot tub and heated tile floor; a first-floor half-bath with laundry; three-season enclosed sun porch; and hardwood floors throughout. The private backyard with brick patio backs up to a city park and features a detached 1-car garage and a bonus space that can be used as a studio, workshop or fitness room. Other updates include insulation, 200 amp electrical, boiler and hot water heater. Zoned for Jackson St. School.

Offered at $399,000. Contact Julie Starr for a private showing, or come to the open house this Saturday, August 24th, from 11-1 pm!

 

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Is An Adjustable Rate Mortgage (ARM) Right For You?

Are you seeking a mortgage and wondering whether an Adjustable Rate Mortage (ARM) might be right for you? The following article from Apartment Therapy outlines three cases wherein an ARM might just make sense, and save you money. If you are seeking a mortgage, that likely means you are working with a local realtor. Any good realtor, such as our group at Maple and Main Realty in Northampton, MA, will be able to direct you to local banks and/or mortgage brokers. A lender or mortgage broker will be able to speak to about which products are best for you, given your particular situation - both financial and otherwise. Read on to see if, perhaps, an ARM might be right for you. However, please be sure to speak with an expert who knows your local market before making any decisions to do so!

3 Times Experts Say Adjustable-Rate Mortgages Make Financial Sense

by BRITTANY ANAS

An overwhelming majority of homebuyers opt for fixed-rate mortgages. The terms of these loans offer all the warm and fuzzy feelings that come with a long-term, stable relationship. Go with a 30-year fixed rate and your mortgage payment next month will be the same as it will be in 2049, which makes budgeting super-duper predictable.

Already popular with many first-time homebuyers, fixed-rate mortgages solidified themselves as the darling of the mortgage industry following the housing crisis. Most people thought adjustable-rate mortgages (ARMs) were just a bad idea. Borrowers turned away from ARMs, fearing that once the rates reset, it could be difficult to keep up with housing payments, and thus put them at risk of foreclosures.

But adjustable-rate mortgages seem to be making a comeback. While they still are risky for a long-term investment, they have more safeguards in place than they did prior to the housing market crash, like how much and how fast a mortgage rate can adjust.

Here’s what the numbers tell us: In May 2019, adjustable-rate mortgages only made up 6.7 percent of new home loans, according to Ellie Mae, a software company that processes more than a third of the mortgages in the United States. But in December 2018, ARMs seemed to be mounting a comeback, making up 9.2 percent of new mortgages—the highest since Ellie Mae began tracking the data in 2011.

The biggest misconception about ARMs? That they should never, ever be used. In fact, there are circumstances when finance and mortgage experts say adjustable-rate mortgages actually make more sense a fixed-rate. 

“People should not be afraid of an adjustable-rate loan,” says Melissa Cohn, executive vice president at Family First Funding LLC, based in New York City, who favors seven-year ARMs and has one on her own home. “Historically adjustable rates have always been lower than a 30-year fixed rate and can be a great money saver.”

Recognizing that homebuyers have unique financial situations, we asked mortgage lenders when it makes sense to go with an adjustable-rate mortgage. Here, three situations in which they’d recommend an ARM. 

But just a reminder before we delve into the scenarios : It’s a good idea to talk all this over with a home lending advisor, says Shelby McDaniels, channel director for corporate home lending with Chase Home Lending.

“Everyone’s situation is different and there is not a one-size-fits-all loan,” McDaniels says.

1. You’ll move soon 

First, an explainer on how ARMs work: The title of the loan lets you know when the interest rate can reset. So, if you get a 5/1 ARM, that 5/1 means the loan’s lower introductory rate will last for five years, and, after that, it’s subject to adjusting on an annual basis, Holden Lewis, NerdWallet‘s home expert explains. 

It’s best to get an adjustable-rate mortgage when you feel confident that you will sell the home during the introductory period, or within a year or two of the end of the introductory period, Lewis says. 

“So if you get a 5/1 ARM, the safest course is to do so if you expect to sell the home within seven years or so.” 

If you’re buying your forever home, you could be subject to ever-increasing interest rates after the introductory period ends—unless you refinance, Lewis says.

Piggybacking on this, if you are buying a starter home and will want to upgrade within five years, an ARM may be a good fit. 

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Many people don’t consider their actual circumstances and take a fixed rate without giving thought to an ARM, Cohn says. “If you are a first-time homebuyer, newly married, growing a family—those are all reasons in my eyes to take an ARM as your housing needs will change as you go through life.”

Another great reason? You’re starting your career in an expensive city where rent is consistently going up, but you don’t plan on living there in your next chapter of life. In fact, the mortgage are more popular in high cost metro areas like San Jose, California.

“An interest-only option can make ARMs even more attractive for those who are in higher cost-of-living cities on a temporary basis,” says Lauren Anastasio, Certified Financial Planner at SoFi, a personal finance company. “An interest-only ARM typically results in the lowest possible monthly payment during the fixed-rate period and can be a great way for someone to lock-in their monthly housing cost in a location where rental costs tend to increase each year.”

2. Interest rates are low

Adjustable-rate mortgages are a great option in a low or declining interest rate environment, explains Riley Adams, a CPA and senior financial analyst who runs the personal finance blog Young and the Invested. Typically, ARMs anchor to some publicly-available interest rate benchmark (such as LIBOR, Fed Funds rate, prime rate, etc.) and add a defined number of basis points to the overall rate offered to you under the ARM. If your ARM adjusts way higher than what you were paying, you can refinance to another ARM or a fixed-rate mortgage—whichever option saves you the most money. (Though sometimes refinancing can be out of the question if housing prices drop greatly—one of the problems that happened during the 2008 housing crisis) 

“Because we have been in a low-rate environment for an extended period of time and this looks likely to continue, going after this lower interest rate would make economic sense due to the interest cost savings,” Adams says. 

On his previous mortgage, which he took out in July 2011, he went with a 30-year fixed rate and regrets the decision. 

“Had I opted for the 5/1 ARM, I would have paid considerably less in interest and ended up with a lower rate were I to refinance,” he says.

3. You plan on paying off your mortgage quickly

An ARM could be a good fit if you plan on paying off the mortgage before the rate adjusts, says Kristopher Barros, marketing strategist at Embrace Home Loans in Middleton, Rhode Island. 

“That is a less common scenario for a typical homeowner, but still a good reason to take advantage of the lower rates typically associated with an ARM,” Barros says.

A final note: If you are considering an ARM, be sure to comb over the terms of the fixed period. Most common are 3, 5, 7, and 10 year fixed-period ARMs, says Andy Harris, president of Vantage Mortgage Group, Inc. and member of the Association of Independent Mortgage Experts (AIME). Three-year ARMs are less common and more risky with the unknowns, making the longer-term initial fixed-rate period more attractive, he explains. But, the longer the fixed period, the higher the interest rate generally. 

Decisions, decisions! (But, again, before deciding, talk to a home lending advisor about your situation, as McDaniels recommends.)

Fantastic Building Lot Within Walking Distance to Downtown Northampton!

Have you been looking for the perfect spot to build a small footprint house within walking distance to downtown Northampton? If so, look no further! 0 Stoddard Street in Northampton is a unique infill lot. It has the required 50 feet of frontage but widens to 65 feet along the back lot line. In addition, the seller is willing to allow a "zero lot line" on the left hand border (from the street). The city's mandated 15 foot side setback would be *softened* up to 10 feet closer to the existing lot line - allowing for more space to build or add a garage. Stoddard Street abuts the bike path, it is steps away from the supermarket, and walking distance to town. While it's proximity to town/bike path allows for a "car lite" lifestyle, Stoddard Street is quiet, lined with quaint houses and lovely gardens. For more information, contact Julie Starr. Offered at $180,000

Renovating an Older Home

I came across this article in the Daily Hampshire Gazette today and thought it worth a repost. If you are looking for real estate in the Northampton area, you will quickly learn the most of the inventory is comprised of older homes. Housing stock might easily include homes that date 80 to 125 years old, or better. As the saying goes, they don't make 'em like they used to. Houses of that age were built to last. In looking more deeply into an older home, you might find hand hewn beams, wide plank floors, original clapboards, fieldstone foundations, handmade nails, beautiful moldings, etc. However, you may also come across damaged plaster walls, limited-to-no insulation (or horsehair!), lead paint, asbestos wrapped pipes and the like. Depending on the age, a home may have very shallow or limited closet space. Back in the day, people may have used wardrobes vs closets, and they had fewer clothes as well. If a house is very old, you may notice uneven floors due to settling over time. So, if you love the look and charm of an older home, you'll have to do some research and prioritize which elements to keep and/or preserve, and which elements to update.

When we took on the renovation of a 125+ year-old farmhouse, we decided to consult with (and ultimately hire) a local design/build firm to complete our renovations. There are local businesses that specialize in older homes, and there are local professionals who can assist with retrofitting older homes to make them more energy efficient. I can say from experience, that the more energy efficient you decide to make your older home, the less of the original charm it will retain. Luckily - you can choose elements that mimic the era during which the house was built. From moldings, to hardware, to tile, to fixtures, to paint colors -- everything old is new again. Read on for the article in the Gazette.

How to renovate an older home without compromising its charm

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HomeAdvisor 
Published: 1/18/2019 9:05:38 AM

There’s a lot of talk these days about the many ways to bring historic homes into the modern era. But if you’ve purchased an older home — or watched enough of the TV shows featuring their renovations — you know that the original features can lend the most charm. Here are some things to consider as you work to maintain the integrity of a vintage home through updates, upgrades and renovations.

KNOW WHAT YOU’RE GETTING INTO 

Historic homes are popular for a reason. They exude charisma and character, and they typically have a lot to offer homeowners looking to personalize a home to make it their own. Of course, there are also other things to consider. Be aware of common issues like lead paint and asbestos in older homes, both of which will need to be addressed before you can safely move in. And also be sure to check the structural integrity of the home’s foundation. Hiring an inspector experienced in older homes will help to ensure that you find and address any non-cosmetic issues at the outset.

BECOME A HISTORIAN 

It’s important to figure out as much as you can about your home right off the bat. Knowing things like when it was built or how the crown molding was done can assist you when it comes time to renovate. Being aware of your home’s history can help you preserve the most important parts of the design, like transom windows, boot scrapers or Dutch doors. Not to mention, all of that historical knowledge will help you appreciate your space that much more. (Who knows? Maybe you’ll even find out about a resident ghost.) 

BE PATIENT AND GENTLE 

Don’t treat a vintage home like a new home — it was built differently; the materials are older and it requires more attention. A good rule of thumb is to be patient and gentle in all things when working on your older home. Take your time with upgrades or remodels — it’s always better to get the job done right than to throw something together in haste. And by using mild cleaners, protecting fragile design elements and touching up dings and scratches as they come, you’ll be giving your older home the care it needs and deserves.

MIX AND MATCH 

Despite superior craftsmanship in older homes, there will always be wear and tear. Paint chips and fades, mortar crumbles and appliances go out of style. When one of the home’s original features starts to deteriorate, it can seem like the end of the world. But you do have a few options. One is to match colors and styles as closely as possible during upgrades. Many people are able to pull this off with little trouble. But if you truly cannot replicate part of your vintage home, it’s OK to mix it up with modern styles. Many contemporary fixtures work surprisingly well in older homes, and it’s easy to make an old tile pattern new again with some creativity

 

FEELING OVERWHELMED? 

There is a lot to consider when it comes to taking care of a historic home. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, don’t be afraid to reach out to the experts at your local historical society. They’ll be more than happy to equip you with tools and information you need to make this transition a breeze. Plus, they should also know of some local contractors who specialize in renovating and preserving older homes. 

 
 

Questions for your Home Inspector

It's the beautiful fall season here in the Northampton area - and the real estate market is on an upswing! As Thanksgiving and the December holidays approach, there are buyers and sellers out there still looking, buying and selling before the quiet of winter descends. So, for buyers out there, even if the home you are considering is in tip top condition, the home inspection process is an important learning tool. Your realtor can help you to prioritize issues, and come up with a list of reasonable requests for the seller, once you have your inspection report in hand. Having personally attended home inspections with clients in recent weeks, I thought this article was timely.

Home Inspection's Complete? Here's What You Must Ask Afterward

By  | Oct 9, 2018
 
home-inspector-questions
fstop123/iStock

What are some questions to ask a home inspector after he's finished the inspection? Because, let's face it, just staring at that hefty report highlighting every flaw in your future dream home can send many buyers into a full-blown panic!

Know the right questions to ask a home inspector afterward, though, and this can help put that report into perspective. Here are the big ones to hit.
 

'I don't understand [such and such], what does it mean?'

Just so you know what to expect, here's how it will go down: A day or two after the inspection, you should receive the inspector's report. It will be a detailed list of every flaw in the house, often along with pictures of some of the problem areas and more elaboration.

Hopefully you also attended the actual inspection and could ask questions then; if so, the report should contain no surprises. It should contain what you talked about at the inspection, with pictures and perhaps a bit more detail. If there's anything major you don't remember from the inspection in the report, don't be afraid to ask about it.

'Is this a major or a minor problem?'

Keep in mind, most problems in the house will likely be minor and not outright deal breakers. Still, you'll want your home inspector to help you separate the wheat from the chaff and point out any doozies. So ask him if there are any problems serious enough to keep you from moving forward with the house.

Keep in mind that ultimately it's up to you and your real estate agent to determine how to address any issues.

"The inspector can't tell you, 'Make sure the seller pays for this,' so be sure you understand what needs to be done," says Frank Lesh, executive director of the American Society of Home Inspectors.

'Should I call in another expert for a follow-up inspection?'

Expect to have to call in other experts at this point to look over major issues and assign a dollar figure to fixing them. If your inspector flags your electrical box as looking iffy, for example, you may need to have an electrician come take a look and tell you what exactly is wrong and what the cost would be to fix it. The same goes for any apparent problems with the heating or air conditioning, roof, or foundation. An HVAC repair person, roofer, or engineer will need to examine your house and provide a bid to repair the problem.

Why is this so important? This bid is what your real estate agent will take to the seller if you decide to ask for a concession instead of having the seller do the fix for you. Your inspector can't give you these figures, but he can probably give you a sense of whether it's necessary to call somebody in.

'Is there anything I'll need to do once I move in?'

Wait, you're still not done! It's easy to forget the inspector's report in the whirlwind of closing and moving, but there are almost always suggestions for things that need doing in the first two to three months of occupancy.

Lesh says he sometimes gets panicked calls from homeowners whose houses he inspected three months after they've moved in. Although he'd noted certain issues in his report, the buyers neglected the report entirely—and paid for it later.

"I had a couple call and tell me they had seepage in the basement," Lesh says. "I pulled up their report and asked if they'd reconnected the downspout extension like I recommended. Nope. Well, there's your problem!"

Everything you didn't ask the seller to fix? That's your to-do list. Isn't owning a home fun?

 
Audrey Ference has written for The Billfold, The Hairpin, The Toast, Slate, Salon, and others. She lives in Austin, TX.
 

Great New Florence Listing, Abuts Fitzgerald Lake Conservation Area

Wonderful new Maple and Main Realty listing! 65 Morningside Drive in Florence, MA, off of Country Way is a little slice of heaven! This immaculate 4 bedroom, 4 bath contemporary home sits on a lush half acre lot with mature gardens, Ipe deck with built-in seating area, bar height table and a Goshen stone patio. Meticulously maintained and beautifully updated! There is a spacious eat-in kitchen with cherry cabinets, kitchen island and stainless appliances. A master suite with a large walk-in closet and whirlpool tub in bathroom, mini splits added throughout house for cooling, upgraded closets with built-in shelving in all bedrooms, retractable screens in living room and family room, tiled-floor mudroom with skylight and built-in seating and storage. Cozy family room with working fireplace. 2 car garage and full basement for with built-in storage and workbench. This beautiful and peaceful oasis is minutes from Florence and Northampton centers, and a short walk to the paths of Fitzgerald Lake, just across North Farms Road. All of the amenities one could ask for!

Contact Julie Starr for a private showing, or come to the Open House this Sunday, June 24th from 12-2 pm! Offered at $529,900.

 
     
 
     
 
     
 
   
 
     
 
     
 
     
 
 
   
 
     
 
     
 
     
 
     
 
 
 
 
     
 
     
 
     
 
     
 

 

 
   

DIY Repair Your Deck This Summer!

Now that the sun in shining, the birds are singing and the flowers are blooming - the spring real estate market is upon us! I so enjoy seeing all the new "inventory" in the Northampton area with my buyer clients. Houses seem to double in size when you include the yard, and any outdoor living spaces, such as decks, patios, pools and the like. The flip side of this increased sense of space, is that outdoor areas actually require upkeep, and this can be time consuming and expensive. It's a good idea to take stock of all that needs doing, and decide which items/projects you are willing and able to pay for (yard clean up? gutter cleaning?), and which projects you prefer to do on your own (planting new perennials?, mulching your garden beds?).

In the past week, I've happened upon a number of houses with decks in need of TLC. My first impulse as a homeowner, would be to hire a professional to deal with a weathered deck. But, in reading this piece from todays' Daily Hampshire Gazette, it seems as if freshening up ones' deck is actually a manageable DIY project!

How to repair a splintering deck

By HomeAdvisor

Thursday, May 31, 201
 
Splintering decks are usually the result of neglect — occurring after a deck remains untreated and unsealed for a number of years. The lack of protection allows water to soak into the boards, eventually causing them to splinter and crack.

Fortunately, all is not lost. It may be hard to get that brand new look back completely, but following a few simple steps can help you bring your neglected decking back to life.

Your first order of business is the easiest. Mix up a solution of half bleach, half water and spray down your entire decking. If you see areas of deck mold (not unlikely if it's been a while since your deck's been treated), hit those especially hard and work at them with a scrub brush until the mold has been removed.

Finally, wait for the deck to dry before moving on to the next step.

The bleach does two things: It kills deck mold and mildew, and it bleaches the wood to a uniform color, preparing it for treatment. If you treat a deck that's at the point of splintering without applying bleach, you'll end up with dark, unattractive decking. Using bleach will bring out the natural wood look you're trying to recover.

Once the bleach solution has dried off the deck (it's a good idea to give it about 24 hours, just to be sure), you can move on to sanding. Since splintering decks mean lots of painful slivers for bare feet, it's important that you sand down your deck so that you're once again working with a smooth surface. Renting a large floor sander will certainly speed up the job, though the railings, banisters, steps and other hard-to-reach places will probably need to be done with a hand sander or sandpaper. Finally, rent a power washer and clean off the deck. It's going to be covered in a fine layer of dust from the sanding, and you'll need to get rid of that if you want your sealer to take properly.

Once the deck has dried out a second time, you're ready to treat the deck. Using a power sprayer drastically reduces the time it takes to treat a deck, though it can be done with paint rollers and brushes if you've got the patience. Just be sure to watch out for drips and runs, and to brush them up quickly. Waiting until after the deck is dry to try to get rid of them is almost impossible. Finally, remember to treat your deck on a regular basis (at least every few years). It's the only sure-fire way to prevent problems like splintering, cracking, rot and mold.

While it's possible to repair decking yourself, it's a time-consuming and laborious job — especially if you don't have the right tools. A decking contractor is experienced enough to repair decking of all sorts, and they will also have the supplies and know-how to get it done right in a fraction of the time. For this reason, many homeowners find hiring a decking pro to be worth the extra cost.

 

Visit HomeAdvisor.com.

New Listing - Light-filled Contemporary home in Florence, MA

201 Park Hill Road in Florence, MA

Set high above Park Hill Road is this exquisite contemporary 3 bedroom, 3.5 bath home. Commanding views of the Mt. Holyoke range married with multiple decks and individual balconies off each bedroom, bring the beauty of the outdoors right inside your living space. The living room is highlighted with cathedral ceilings and a towering brick fireplace. There are gleaming hardwood floors throughout the main floor, leading you into the master bedroom with en-suite bath, & walk in closet. Expansive concrete countertops and high end stainless steel appliances including a 6 burner Wolf stove, make this kitchen a chef's delight. Upstairs are 2 more impressive bedrooms, both with private balconies. The fully finished, walkout lower level, with a 2nd fireplace and full bath is a great space for relaxing, home office, in-law or whatever you imagine. A must see!

Offered at $688,000. Schedule your private showing with Winnie Gorman, Lisa Darragh or Scott Rebmann. Or come to the Open House this Saturday, May 12, from 12-2 pm

 

 

 


 

New Listing in Chesterfield MA - 206 Bryant Street!

Contemporary home on 17.22 bucolic acres in the heart of beautiful Chesterfield MA. This 3 bedroom, 2.5 bath has all the bells and whistles! Open concept floor plan on first floor with large cook's kitchen, wood stove, dining room, family room and TV room, shaded porch and sunny deck, tiled mudroom and office/guest room across from first floor powder room. Second floor is comprised of a gracious master suite, with a large walk-in closet, 2 additional bedrooms and addtional full bath/laundry room. Walk out basement is ready to be finished, or can be used as-is. There is also a large walk up attic with ample storage space. In the spacious yard, you will find a large storage shed, fire pit, stone walls and plenty of wildlife. 12 minutes to Williamsburg, 20 to Florence, 26 to Northampton center.

Enjoy camping, hiking, skiing, fishing, horseback riding, berry-picking, bird watching and all that Chesterfield and the hill towns have to offer - as well as an abundance of cultural events and natural beauty in the nearby Berkshires. This property is approved for horses, and would be great for gardening. With an abundance of sunlight, it would likely be a great candidate for solar power too!

206 Bryant Road in Chesterfield. Offered at $399,000. Call Julie Starr to set up your private showing, or attend the open house this Saturday, May 5th from 11-1 pm.

View from the top of the driveway

Side of the house

Cook's kitchen

Wood-burning stove in living room

TV room

Master bedroom

Second bedroom

Third bedroom

 

 

 

41 Pine Island Lake in Westhampton is Back on the Market!

Back on the market with a significant price reduction -  41 Pine Island Lake in Westhampton, MA is a sweet house with a private beach. A wonderful getaway bungalow on a 1/4 acre lot on the peaceful Pine Island Lake.  This cozy home features 2 bedrooms, a newly constructed 245 square foot insulated sleeping loft with skylights, a separate office on the first floor which could be used as a third bedroom, an open concept living/dining room off of the well-equipped kitchen, a Jotul propane stove for heating and ambience. Step outside onto the spacious patio to enjoy beautiful sunsets, the private beach with great freshwater swimming, fishing and kayaking or canoeing, or just a chance to sit back and unwind and take in the views. Pine Island Lake does not allow motor boats which adds to the tranquility of the setting. The property has a large storage shed and private outdoor shower. Tight tank septic installed in 2005. 60 Gallon hot water heater installed in 2011. This home is the perfect spring/summer and early fall getaway - just 20 minutes to downtown Northampton! Offered now at $320,000. Contact Julie Starr for a private showing.