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Should I Buy Now or Wait?

The housing market has experienced some drastic changes since the start of the pandemic. In particular, the high interest rates and low inventory we are now experiencing have greatly influenced many people’s decisions on whether or not to invest in real estate. Let’s examine some of the top reasons the timing may or may not be right for buying a home. 

Why Buy Now?

There are plenty of reasons that potential homebuyers have decided that now is the right time for them to buy. The more obvious of these reasons include an immediate need to change their living situation, for instance, they have to move for work, or are expecting an addition to their family. Maybe now is the right time to buy if you have already found the perfect house for your specific location and needs! 

Otherwise, the decision to buy in this seller’s market may be based on more subtle factors. Choosing to buy a house will almost always be a good investment, as home prices go up over time. For first-time homebuyers, purchasing a house without delay means that you can begin to build equity immediately, as opposed to staying in a rental for an indefinite amount of time. 

The most important factor in your decision to buy a home is your financial means. If you have saved enough money for a down payment, with enough left over for the many other costs of buying a home, the cash will be better spent on a home than sitting around in your bank account! If you have a high credit score, you will also be in a better position to buy a home now than those who do not. Despite the current rising interest rates, a good credit score will help you secure the best mortgage rate possible. 

Why Wait?

If you are not perfectly confident in your finances, you may find that now is not the time to purchase a home. Especially if this will be your first real estate purchase, the process may cause far too much financial pressure to be worth your time. Similarly, in this current housing market, your chances of securing the property you are interested in are lessened by strong competition and offers over asking price. This may be the time to live below your means and strengthen your savings and credit score, which will help you avoid exorbitant interest rates. 

If you are comfortable in your current living situation, regardless of your financials, you may be better off waiting for a change in the housing market while you secure the means for your ideal home. Though it is impossible to predict how or when the market will shift in the buyer’s favor, it cannot remain the same forever. Keep your focus on the housing market in the specific area where you are looking to buy, as it may be different from the overall market trends across the state or country. 

In the spring of 2022, Bankrate examined some of the major barriers to homeownership:

“The primary reasons are not enough income (43 percent), out-of-reach home prices (39 percent) and being unable to afford a down payment and closing costs (36 percent). Other reasons cited were poor credit (22 percent), simply not being ready (22 percent), mortgage rates that are too high (17 percent), lack of inventory of homes for sale (13 percent), and having too much debt (13 percent).” 

Alternatives

Many people who are interested in home ownership have said that they are willing to take other steps toward finding more affordable living in the current housing market. The top concessions they are willing to make include moving out of state, buying a fixer-upper, and moving farther from family, friends, and work. Finding a house in 2022 may require some sacrifices to your original plans or vision of a dream home. 

Trying to predict the housing market is a Sisyphean task. The decision to buy a house is an entirely personal one, based on your current needs and means. A local real estate agent will be able to help you assess the local market as it relates to your housing goals to help you decide if the timing is right. If you are interested in purchasing a home in NorthShore Massachusetts or have further questions, please contact me today.

5 Tips For First-Time Homebuyers In
2022

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the current market, you are not alone. The power is in the seller’s hands which can leave many feeling discouraged during the buying process. There is a house out there waiting for you, I promise. It may take a bit of flexibility and patience, but together we can get it done! Here are some tips to help prepare first-time homebuyers for the experience. 

Understand the Current Market (make sure you are ready to buy!)

You might already be past this point in the homebuying process, but it is worth it to take a good look at the current housing market and not be too hasty with any decisions. Buying your first house is a very personal decision, and only you can decide if the time is right! Although you cannot predict or try to perfectly time the purchase in any market, be sure to have a basic understanding of what the real estate market looks like in your specific area. Start attending open houses and comparing home amenities to prices to gain some knowledge of what to expect. This will help keep your expectations reasonable, giving you an advantage over other buyers.

Know What You Can Afford

First and foremost, get preapproved by a local mortgage lender or a mortgage broker to see what you can qualify for. There are also plenty of resources out there to help you understand what type of home you can afford, but be sure to have a very solid sense of this before beginning your search. The Washington Post describes the four key components of affordability as:

  • How much you have saved for a down payment
  • How much your household earns
  • What debt you carry
  • Your credit score

Though the market is beginning to shift-interests are on the rise. Inventory levels are also starting to increase, but the market remains brisk and in certain markets, offers are still coming in fast and over asking.

To find success in this market, I recommend finding a property that is below your budget and submitting an offer over the asking price. An offer above asking will immediately help you stand out against other competitive buyers and show the sellers you are committed and genuinely interested in their home.

Other Expenses to Remember

Knowing how much you can afford in terms of a house is a great start, but you have to remember the many other expenses that come with the purchase. When investing in a house, a home inspection can be an invaluable tool that may save you a lot of money and stress down the line. Whether you choose not to have an inspection done or not, you should have money saved for potential future repairs to your home. They may need to be done sooner than you think! Be sure to familiarize yourself with average closing costs so that you are not surprised by extra fees once you have found your perfect house. Similarly, you should have extra money set aside for moving costs, which can really add up if you are moving long distance.

Solidify your Wants and Needs

If you have a long list of must-haves it might be time to zero in on what is most important to you. In most markets, it can be tricky to find a home that checks every single box on your list. However, there are still homes that are just what you need. Narrow your list down to two or three must-haves that are the most important to you. Things like size, layout, number of bedrooms, and bathrooms should be at the top of your list, while smaller items that can be altered later like granite countertops and special appliances should be near the bottom.  

Find the Right Realtor

The process of home buying can be stressful- but it can also be fantastic and exciting to look for your new home! Be sure to work with a Realtor who shares your enthusiasm for the process, they can make all the difference in getting you into the home of your dreams. Not all agents are created equal- especially in a competitive seller’s market. Working with a professional with years of experience can help ease your mind. In particular, you should be looking for someone with many positive reviews, a proven track record, and plenty of knowledge about the area. 

If you’re looking to buy in the Northshore of Massachusetts, I would be happy to work together to find you a home that works for you. Contact me today to get started!

Hamilton-Wenham

When you look at a map of the North Shore you may notice two small towns north of Beverly. While they may be separated on the map, to locals, these neighboring towns are simply known as Hamilton-Wenham. 

Together Hamilton-Wenham has a combined population of 12,500 residents. The towns include a variety of classic New England homes, beautiful trails, and picturesque tree-lined roads. Though they may be more inland than other North Shore towns I’ve covered, Hamilton-Wenham is still bordered on the south by Beverly and on the east by Manchester-by-the-Sea making it a quick drive to the beach and only about 20 miles from Boston. ​​Additionally, the MBTA Commuter Rail provides service from Boston’s North Station to the Hamilton/Wenham station via the Newburyport/Rockport Line.

Even though these towns are small, Hamilton-Wenham has enough community, opportunity, nature, and activities for these towns to stand strong alone and together! Interested in relocating? Check out these top spots in Hamilton-Wenham.

GROCERIES & SNACKS

Honeycomb.

Honeycomb is a local bakery and café that focuses on bringing beautiful foods and products to Hamilton. Their bakers and baristas spent years perfecting their delicious recipes made with the finest ingredients.

Tendercrop Farm

Want farm-fresh produce? Tendercrop Farm sources its products from local farms across New England. Stop in and get everything from produce, meat, and baked goods to flowers and gifts. 

Wenham Tea House

There’s nothing like a warm cup of tea. Chef Brenden Crocker serves a proper tea, lunch, dinner, and Sunday brunch, too! The patio is the perfect spot on a warm spring day.

Bagel Shop 

It can be hard to find a good bagel, but it’s easy at the Bagel Shop! With locations across the North Shore, the Bagel shop is a local staple for an everything with cream cheese and lox!

DELICIOUS EATS

  • Enjoy a home away from home at 15 Walnut Tavern + Kitchen. The relaxed institution is a great spot for unique cocktails and eclectic eats like sushi, burgers, BBQ & more. I highly recommend the fried Brussels sprouts!
  • Small but mighty, the Weathervane Tavern is a local favorite!  The homestyle cuisine and cozy and comfortable atmosphere make for a great night out for the whole family.
  • Black Cow is a top spot for classic American eats and one of the best restaurants in the area! From their vintage marquee sign, outdoor bar, stylish decor, and extensive menu you’re sure to have a great time at BC.

THINGS TO DO

It’s all about the community in Hamilton Wenham! Explore museums, events, nature, and the surrounding towns for a variety of fun for all ages.

The Wenham Museum celebrates childhood, interprets history, and explores a variety of cultures through its collection of over 45,000 objects! The museum is perfect for all ages and even has amazing events like Silhouette Portrait Artist Painting, “First Dibs Shop and Sip” and more.

Want to get outside this spring? Hamilton-Wenham is full of great trails and activities. The Chebacco Woods Trails near Gordon College are some of my absolute favorites. The trails are well maintained and run beside a group of beautiful ponds that make my walks both easy and scenic!

If you’re looking for the whole family, try the Community House! Serving the Hamilton community for over 100 years, Community House is a pillar on the North Shore. It has music for kids, local theater, summer programs, and fun events like the Sweetheart Ball all year round! If you can’t make it to an event or production I highly recommend donating to this great institution

Did you know the oldest polo club in America is right here in South Hamilton? Myopia Polo Club has been around since the late 1800s. Get your tickets now for one of their world-class summer Sunday matches!

SHOP SMALL

  • We can’t forget about the pets! The Natural Dog ​​provides a wide selection of natural foods, whole food supplements, and environmentally friendly products for your dogs and cats. 
  • Connect with North Shore history at True North Gallery. They started ​​as a gallery focused on indigenous art, and have expanded their collection to include art, fine craft, and creative gifts inspired by nature.
  • Looking for the perfect gift? The Monogram Shop creates completely custom embroidered gifts right in downtown Hamilton! From backpacks and lunchboxes to totes and masks there’s nothing they can’t customize!

Looking to buy or sell in Hamilton-Wenham? Contact me to learn more.

What You Can Expect for the North Shore Summer Housing Market

We’ve made it through another Massachusetts winter and have finally begun to see the blooming flowers and sunshine we deserve. With this returning sense of normalcy, what should we expect from the North Shore housing market?

Home prices skyrocketed in 2021, increasing by nearly 20% on average in the United States. Though the high demand and low inventory remain in play as we enter the summer, the market is not expected to be as intense as last year’s. 

“While sellers remain in an advantageous position, price stability and the continuation of competitive interest rates may provide some much-needed relief to buyers this year.”

For Sellers:

Though sellers are still receiving multiple offers, inventory is finally starting to become more available, slowly but surely. In March, homebuyer competition fell for the first time in six months. As the supply starts to become more in line with the demand, bidding wars are becoming less frequent and intense. For sellers, this means fewer options and a need to be less selective between offers.

For Buyers:

For buyers, this perhaps signifies less competition and slightly more freedom of choice when it comes to purchasing a home this summer. Though these trends are pointing towards “business as usual,” the market is still heavily in favor of the seller, and high interest rates severely restrict first-time buyers. 

How will interest rates affect the Massachusetts housing market in 2022?

Though there is a feeling that things are calming down as we enter the summer, the cost of borrowing money through mortgages has continued to increase. 

“Most experts predicted that mortgage rates would climb this year, but they did so more quickly than expected, averaging more than 4% for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages in mid-February. Around mid-April, it surged to 5.28 percent, the highest level since April 2010, and the uptick continues.”

Many potential buyers are seeing these interest rates continue to rise and are provided with a sense of urgency to make offers before these rates get even higher. This mindset makes sense when you look at graphs such as the one below, which show the average 30-year fixed mortgage rates in the United States from early 2020 to the present day.  Many buyers that are in the middle price range held off on making a purchase because there hasn’t been inventory, and some decided to move now. Others who held off used their equity to make home improvements, such as adding a home office or an addition. 

There is a general feeling that the housing market tends to calm down during the summertime. However, that was not the case last summer- and likely won’t be true this year either. Interest rates around this time last year averaged 3% and are currently just above 5%. Though it is true that interest rates will likely continue to rise before they taper off and fall, research indicates that there is no need to panic, as housing prices, interest rates, and housing availability are likely to slowly return to normal levels over the course of the next year. 

Image via Freddy Mac

It is impossible to predict the state of the market with 100% accuracy,  so you must always make decisions based on your own financial state and needs rather than trying to time the market perfectly. Regardless of if you are looking to buy, sell, or have questions about the state of the North Shore housing market as we approach the summer, it is always a good idea to consult a professional. 

Get in touch with me today for a FREE consultation.  

Why I Became a Realtor

Tom Beauregard recently sat down with Cara Chatellier of Bubbly Creative to talk more about his life story and passion for real estate. Read the interview here.

Why did you become a realtor?

Well, gosh, that’s a funny question. It’s like, what’s it like being a doctor? What’s it like being a lawyer? From my standpoint, I grew up in a family business and customer service was always paramount since we were a mom-and-pop operation. 

Real estate always fascinated me. I probably should have been an architect because I like the structural content of how homes are built. I also grew up in a lumber business that sold building materials business in New Hampshire. So it always intrigued me.

In real estate, it is all about customer service. My job is to totally and completely work with a client to help them accomplish their real estate goals, whether it’s a first-time home buyer or an established home seller who’s bought and sold a number of different homes. 

Every day is completely rewarding because it’s different. Every transaction is different. Every client is different. Every home search criteria is different. 

I spend most of my day from a standpoint of project management, which is just making sure that I can get my client to the closing table.

Thinking about buying or selling a home on the Norse Shore? Contact me today  for a FREE market analysis of the value of your home or to learn about the current market. 

How World Crisis Might Affect Interest Rates

If you’re like me,  you’ve been glued to the news the past few weeks. Changes in the world at large can often cause changes at home. From rising gas prices, food costs, and now- fluctuating interest rates things can seem uncertain. Many may have been planning to buy or sell a home this year but have read scary headlines about the future of the market. However, read on to see what’s next for 2022 home interest rates, how to navigate the current market and why now might be your time to sell.

World Conflict Leads to Falling Rates

Since the conflict in Ukraine started, interest rates have started to decrease. But why? According to Mortgage Reports, When [world conflicts] happen, investors usually place more capital into safer assets – like bonds or mortgage-backed securities (MBS). This leads to declining mortgage rates and the length of the conflict in the Ukraine will determine how much downward pressure gets applied.” Over the past month, mortgage application volume was essentially flat, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association. However, Odeta Kushi, deputy chief economist at First American, believes this decline will be both “temporary and short-term” and buyers will be back in full force.

Fluctuation

Rising and falling interest rates are nothing new. According to CNBC, “Interest rates tend to decrease in times of precarious events, much like they did around the first Covid pandemic lockdowns.” Prior to the crisis in Ukraine, interest rates were on a steady and rising trajectory. However, when the crisis abroad began, we saw a sharp 1% decrease in rates. But often just as these rates fall, they start to rise again. As the conflict has continued we’ve seen rates start to rise again, reaching 4.33% for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages and 3.56% for a 15 year. 

Past Rates Perspective

While 4% or more may seem like a large number, and fear of changes in the market may be keeping many from finding their dream home, keep in mind that rates have climbed much higher over the last 40 years. In fact, even though current interest rates are rising they are still the lowest we’ve seen over the past 10 years!

According to TIME, new home buyers can benefit from low-interest rates to help offset rising home prices. The market always cools down in the winter, but many are already predicting another hot spring and summer market. If you’re thinking about selling or buying a home now may be the best time in all of 2022 to start the process. 

Check out this great chart by The Street to see how major events and rising rates have impacted the market over the years.

Still feeling unsure about rising rates? It’s always a great option to speak with a professional. Contact me today, I’d love to answer any and all of your questions.

Welcome to the North Shore

First and foremost, what is the North Shore? The North Shore is the region north of Boston located along the Atlantic coast. Over the years, there has been much debate over which towns and cities should and should not be included in the official North Shore.

Some believe the North Shore includes the entire coastline from New Hampshire to Boston and is made up of the following:

Beverly, MA

Danvers, MA

Essex, MA

Gloucester, MA

Ipswich, MA

Lynn, MA

Manchester-by-the-Sea, MA

Marblehead, MA

Nahant, MA

Newbury, MA

Newburyport, MA

Peabody, MA

Revere, MA

Rockport, MA

Rowley, MA

Salem, MA 

Salisbury, MA

Saugus, MA

Swampscott, MA

Winthrop, MA 

However, The Boston Metropolitan Area Planning Council’s North Shore Task Force, defines the North Shore as also encompassing Cape Ann and several other communities:

​​Amesbury, MA

Beverly, MA

Boxford, MA

Danvers, MA

Essex, MA

Georgetown, MA

Gloucester, MA

Groveland, MA 

Hamilton, MA

Haverhill, MA

Ipswich, MA

Lynn, MA

Lynnfield, MA

Manchester, MA

Marblehead, MA

Merrimac, MA

Middleton, MA

Nahant, MA

Newbury, MA

Newburyport, MA

Peabody, MA

Rockport, MA

Rowley, MA

Salem, MA

Salisbury, MA

Saugus, MA

Swampscott, MA

Topsfield, MA

Wakefield, MA

Wenham, MA

West Newbury, MA

No matter what you define as the “official” North Shore, we can all agree that the region has so much to offer. From historic towns, stunning beaches and picturesque views it is the perfect place for a day trip, vacation or even your home base!

Looking for travel advice? Check out our North Shore guides to find out what to do, where to eat and everything else about our favorite towns and cities.

Visit Beverly

The North Shore’s best-kept secret, Beverly, has something to offer for the whole family.  “The Garden City,” only 40 minutes away from Boston’s downtown, has easy access to the city, beach, countryside and beautiful wildlife. Read On

Visit Salem

Named by TravelMag.com as one of the top 30 most charming small cities in the U.S., there is a lot to love about Salem, Massachusetts. Whether you’re interested in the atmosphere, the rich history, the people, or the restaurants, Salem has something to offer everyone. Read On

Visit Marblehead

When you think of New England coastal towns, you may think of Gloucester, Rockport, and Newburyport—gorgeous fishing towns where you are guaranteed to find a classic sailboat magnet at a cute boutique shop on the main stretch. But there’s another iconic coastal town on the North Shore that is somewhat of a hidden gem. A quaint town that offers a timeless quality and a sense of belonging. Read On