Wanda Hall - Westford Real Estate


Photo by oneSHUTTER oneMEMORY via Shutterstock

When it comes to home improvement, renovations, upgrades and expansions, seek the assistance of a professional. Why do you need a pro? Unless you built your home yourself, you might not understand all the factors that combine to engineer a house such as the electrical needs to support the load and the cubic footage the HVAC must handle. Get one of these wrong, and your home becomes less efficient. In the end, that can end up costing you more than hiring the pro in the first place.

Here are some areas a professional touch improves the project exponentially.

Adding a Room

When creating an addition to your home, there’s more to it than building out the footprint and then connecting it. To pass code inspections, your addition needs to tie into all the systems in your home, including plumbing, electrical and HVAC. You want a contractor to oversee the addition, even if you complete some of the work. If the inspector doesn’t approve it, it’s on the contractor to fix it. On top of that, you want the addition to tie into the existing architecture. How often have you passed over a home for sale because of an ugly or obtrusive addition? For most people, the eye seeks symmetry and balance. Just because you have the space to add it doesn’t mean the addition adds value. Employ a designer or architect to draw out your proposed addition and suggest adjustments to help it blend in with the existing home. This includes remaining true to the existing roof slopes even if it costs more to build. When you go to sell, a properly incorporated extension adds value and improves salability over an expedient but less artistic change.

Installing a Pool

While adding a pool doesn’t always increase a home’s resale value, a poorly installed pool detracts from it. If the buyer believes they’ll have to tear out the pool to replace it, or fill it up to hide it, the prospect might scare them out of making an offer. When you install a pool, hot tub, pergola, outdoor kitchen or other exterior entertainment feature, visual appeal is everything. Even a buyer that didn’t think they wanted a pool might fall in love with a professionally installed pool nestled among the landscaping that offers the perfect outdoor entertainment venue.

Attaching a Garage

Many older homes have no garage or a detached garage that makes them less attractive to some buyers. That makes adding an attached garage an ideal improvement. But just like adding a room, when you attach any structure to the exterior, it needs to keep the same aesthetic as the original building. Throwing up a garage, covered patio or carport needs to follow the same design rules as adding a bedroom or family room. Hire a professional to design the add-on and engineer the roofline to match.

When you put your home up for sale, hire a professional as well. Your real estate professional knows the local market and will professionally market your home. For a consultation, reach out today.


Photo by Lukas from Pexels

If you're ready to get serious about your home buying journey, one of the first steps is seeing various lenders. As you become more familiar with the process, you'll likely hear the terms preapproval and prequalified mentioned again and again. We'll look at how each letter works and what you should know before approaching a home seller. 

Prequalification Vs. Preapproval 

The key difference between a preapproval and prequalification is that the preapproval letter is much more involved. With a prequalification, the lender will look at the general state of the buyer's assets before estimating how much home they're likely to afford. Lenders are not diving into the buyer's past, which can make real estate agents wary of accepting prequalification letters. 

Preapproval 

With a preapproval letter, you're typically asked to provide the following:

  • Two year's worth of W2s
  • A month's worth of paystubs 
  • Two month's worth of bank statements 
  • Social security card 
  • Considering the amount of paperwork you need to provide (and the lender needs to process), preapproval letters can take months to generate. On the other hand, a prequalification letter can be procured in little more than 24 hours. 

    Additional Facts 

    Here are a few facts that can help you know more about what to expect:

  • Preapproval letters can cost several hundred dollars to generate. We recommend starting with your financial institution because you already have a relationship with them, and they may not charge as much. 
  • You may be able to lock down interest rates at the time of your preapproval letter. This is exceptionally helpful for those who want to know what their payments will be down to the penny. 
  • Make sure to calculate closing costs beforehand so you know exactly how much you'll owe out-of-pocket. 
  • Does It Help to Have Both?

    Not necessarily. Prequalification letters are generally recommended for homebuyers who may not know for sure if they're ready to buy. It's a general indication of how much money you'll get, which can help you decide if it's enough to get a preapproval letter. If you're in a buyer's market, you may be able to get away with a prequalification. However, it's generally the far less coveted letter that you can have. 

    A preapproval letter is definitely the best letter you can take to a seller when you're ready to make a bid on a home, but it's important to note that even these letters may fall through. For example, if a major event occurs (e.g., a job loss, etc.) between when your financial institution issued the letter and when you close on the home. Talking to a real estate agent or financial expert can make it easier to navigate it all. 


    If you’re a first time homebuyer and want to start weighing your mortgage options, you’ll have much to learn. With so much at stake, you’ll want to make sure you choose the best mortgage for you now, and one that will still suit your needs years into the future.

    Sometimes, first time buyers are hesitant to ask questions they may consider too basic because they don’t want to seem inexperienced to lenders, agents, or anyone else they’ll be in contact with throughout the home buying process.

    So, in this article, we’ve compiled a list of commonly asked mortgage questions that first time buyers might want to ask before heading into the process of acquiring a home loan.

    What is the first step to getting a mortgage?

    This question may seem straightforward, however the first step can vary depending on your financial situation. For those who already have saved up for a down payment and built a solid credit score, the first step is probably contacting lenders and getting preapproved or prequalified.

    However, if you aren’t sure about your credit score and haven’t saved up for a down payment (ideally, 20% of what you hope to spend on the house), then you should address those matters first.

    To find a lender, you can do a simple Google search for the mortgage lenders in your area, or you can ask around to friends and family to find out their experience with their own mortgage lenders.

    What does it mean to be pre-qualified and pre-approved?

    If you think of the mortgage process in three steps, the first step would be getting pre-qualified. This means you’ve given the lender enough basic information for them to decide which type of mortgage you’re eligible to receive.

    Pre-approval includes collecting and verifying further details. At this step, you’ll complete a mortgage application and the lender will run a credit check. Once you’re pre-approved, your file can be moved to the underwriting phase.

    What are closing costs?

    “Closing costs” is an umbrella term that covers all of the various fees and expenses related to buying or selling a home. As a buyer, you are responsible for paying numerous closing costs. These can include, but are not limited to, underwriting fees, title searches, title insurance,  origination fees, taxes, appraisal fees, surveys, and more.

    That sounds like a lot to keep track of, however your lender will be able to give you an accurate estimate of the total closing costs when you apply for your loan. In fact, lenders are required to give you a list of these costs within three days of your loan application in the form of a “good faith estimate” of the closing costs.

    What will my interest rate be?

    The answer to this question is dependent upon numerous factors. The value of the home, your credit score, the amount you put down (down payment), the type of mortgage you have, and whether or not you’re paying private mortgage insurance all factor into the interest rate you’ll receive. Interest rates also will vary slightly between lenders.

    You can receive a fixed-rate mortgage that does not fluctuate throughout the repayment term. However, you also typically have the option to refinance to acquire a lower interest rate, however refinancing comes with its own costs.


    When it comes to buying a house, there is no need to deal with a stubborn home seller. However, you may encounter a stubborn home seller, regardless of how well you prepare for your homebuying journey. And if you're not careful, a stubborn home seller may cause you to miss out on an opportunity to purchase your ideal residence.

    Don't let a stubborn home seller get the best of you. Instead, use these tips to ensure you can handle negotiations with a stubborn home seller like a pro.

    1. Don't Panic

    If you are forced to deal with a stubborn home seller, there's no need to get discouraged. Conversely, consider the property seller's perspective, and you may be able to get the best results out of a tough situation.

    Open the lines of communication with a home seller – you'll be glad you did. If you maintain open communication, you may be able to find out the root cause of a home seller's stubbornness and plan accordingly.

    Also, don't panic if a home seller fails to communicate with you, and try to avoid assumptions at all costs. By doing so, you'll be able to remain calm, cool and collected and maintain your patience as you try to figure out the best way to acquire your dream house.

    2. Be Prepared for the Best- and Worst-Case Scenarios

    In the best-case scenario, a stubborn home seller will explain his or her demands. Then, you can negotiate with a home seller, find common ground with him or her and work toward finalizing a home purchase agreement.

    On the other hand, it is important to understand the worst-case scenario as well.

    In the worst-case scenario, you and a home seller may be unable to find common ground. And if this occurs, you should be prepared to walk away from a potential homebuying negotiation and restart your search for the perfect residence.

    3. Consult with a Real Estate Agent

    Are you unsure about how to deal with a stubborn home seller? There's no need to worry, especially if you consult with a real estate agent.

    With an expert real estate agent at your side, you should be able to overcome any potential homebuying hurdles.

    An expert real estate agent will act as a liaison between you and a home seller. He or she will learn about the needs of a homebuyer and home seller and ensure both parties can achieve their ideal results.

    Furthermore, an expert real estate agent can respond to any homebuying concerns and questions. This housing market professional can teach you about the ins and outs of purchasing a residence and provide honest, unbiased homebuying recommendations. As a result, a real estate agent can help you simplify the homebuying process and ensure you can secure a first-rate house that matches or exceeds your expectations.

    Ready to streamline the homebuying journey? Take advantage of the aforementioned tips, and you can get the support you need to deal with a stubborn home seller.


    For those who want to buy a home, it generally is a good idea to remain open to negotiating with a seller. That way, you can acquire your dream residence without delay.

    Now, let's take a look at three tips to help you streamline a negotiation with a home seller.

    1. Be Flexible

    There is no telling how a home negotiation will turn out. Fortunately, if you maintain flexibility, you will be able to go with the flow throughout a negotiation with a seller.

    Remember, a homebuyer and home seller share a common goal: to ensure a seamless transaction. If you are open to negotiating with a seller, both you and this individual can work together to achieve results that satisfy all parties.

    Don't forget to maintain open lines of communication with a seller during a negotiation as well. By doing so, you and a seller can keep in touch with one another throughout a negotiation and avoid potential miscommunications that otherwise could slow down or stop a home purchase.

    2. Establish Realistic Expectations

    A home negotiation may work out in your favor or a seller's favor. Or, in the best-case scenario, you and a seller will come to terms that fulfill the needs of both sides. On the other hand, in the worst-case scenario, you may need to walk away from a home purchase altogether.

    As a homebuyer, it is important to prepare for all possible scenarios. If you establish realistic expectations as you enter a home negotiation, you can plan accordingly. Then, you and a seller can work together to accomplish the optimal results.

    You may want to study the housing market closely too. In fact, you can review the prices of available houses that are comparable to the one you want to buy to ensure your offer to purchase falls in line with the current housing market's conditions.

    3. Work with a Real Estate Agent

    A real estate agent is well-equipped to help you handle a homebuying negotiation. Thus, if you work with a real estate agent, you can get the assistance you need to acquire your dream house at a price that matches your budget.

    Typically, a real estate agent will learn about your homebuying goals and help you discover your ideal residence. Once you find a house you want to buy, a real estate agent will help you submit a competitive offer to purchase this home. Next, if a seller wants to negotiate the terms of a home transaction, a real estate agent is ready to negotiate with this individual on your behalf.

    A real estate agent also will keep you informed throughout a home negotiation. Plus, if you ever have concerns or questions during the homebuying journey, a real estate agent is prepared to respond to them.

    Want to acquire your dream house as quickly as possible? Take advantage of the aforementioned tips, and you should have no trouble handling a home negotiation with any seller, at any time.




    Loading