Are you thinking about moving to Massachusetts? Maybe you’re moving to Massachusetts for a job or to be closer to family and want to buy a home. Perhaps you’ve lived in the state for years, and you’re tired of renting. Whatever your reason, Massachusetts has a lot to offer for first time home buyers and current homeowners alike.
As a homebuyer shopping for real estate in MA, you have many choices on where to live when finding your dream home. Whether you’re looking for an urban condo downtown or a suburban home with a big yard, there’s something for everyone in this delightfully diverse state.
But before you start your search, it’s important to understand the process and what to expect along the way. Here are ten tips you need to know about buying real estate in MA.
Build a Better Credit Score
Lenders make their decision on whether to grant you a mortgage based on the likelihood that you will be able to pay them back. To do this, they look at your credit score. The higher your credit score, the better chance you have of obtaining a mortgage with the best possible terms.
Regrettably, there can often be errors on your credit reports that can affect your overall credit score. Before applying for a mortgage, get a copy of your free credit report and correct any mistakes to avoid any credit-related problems. You are entitled to a free annual credit report from each of the three credit reporting agencies once per year.
Get Pre-approved For a Mortgage
Getting pre-approved for a mortgage means you have met with a loan officer, your credit files and financial documents have been reviewed, and the loan officer believes you can readily qualify for a given loan amount with specific mortgage programs.
To get pre-approved you will need to show proof of income, proof of assets, your credit score, employment verification, and other documentation to verify your identity. Based on this information, the lender will provide a pre-approval letter establishing your borrowing power and ability to go through with a purchase.
You can find mortgage lenders and brokers by searching online or asking friends or family for recommendations. You can also ask your real estate agent if they have a working relationship with a lender they know and trust. We also provide a list of trusted professionals that have continually proven reliable for our clients, which you can view here.
Determine What You Can Afford
When buying real estate in MA, there are several factors to consider, including your down payment, monthly mortgage payments, and the documents you’ll need to prepare. Take the time to review and prepare your finances before starting the house hunt.
Beyond pre-approval, determining what you can afford is a personal decision. Only you know what feels comfortable. Remember, on top of your monthly loan payment (that includes principal, interest, taxes, and insurance), there are other costs to take into consideration, such as heating and cooling costs, water and sewer bills, and potential maintenance and association fees.
The majority of lenders prefer that your monthly housing expenses not go above 28% of your gross monthly income, while your total monthly debt obligations should not exceed 36% of your total gross monthly income.
Decide What You Want in a House
As you’ll most likely want a house, you can grow into, make a list of the features and benefits you want in a home, both now and in the future. Consider pricing, location, size, schools, amenities, design, and more – and determine your priorities.
If you can’t get a home at your price with all the features you want, then determine which features are most important. Would you trade fewer bedrooms for a larger kitchen, or a longer commute for a bigger lot and lower cost?
Choose a Real Estate Agent
In today’s hyper-competitive housing market, the right real estate agent really makes a difference. You want someone you trust and feel comfortable with, who can navigate through the process with your best interests in mind. The more experienced a buyer’s agent is with a certain area, the more likely it is that they can guide you toward the right property for the right price.
Given a large number of realtors in the marketplace, choosing the right one can be overwhelming. Ask people you trust for recommendations. Ask your friends, family, financial planner, or attorney. Call local agencies and ask who their top producers are, and look at reviews.
Once you’ve narrowed down your list of real estate agents, you’d like to work with, interview them and ask for references. And remember, a good real estate agent does not tell you what you want to hear but what you need to hear. In the end, you are looking for independent, professional advice.
Choose Your Neighborhood
The most thrilling part of buying residential real estate is searching for the ideal home. In 2022, you’re likely to start your search for the perfect neighborhood online. Your criteria will likely include things like price, the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, square footage, lot size, and other features of the house itself.
But you’re not just hunting for the right property; you’re also shopping for the neighborhood that best fits your needs. When selecting the neighborhoods to search in, you should consider features such as your work commute, school quality, access to parks and recreation, number of stores and restaurants, walkability, and safety.
Your agent will help you review the most important things you’re looking for and recommend neighborhoods and areas that seem like a good fit for you, then show you homes within your budget.
Make an Offer
Once you’ve found the real estate in Massachusetts that you want to be your home, you’ll need to make an offer to the seller that your real estate agent will present to the seller and the seller’s representative. The owner may accept the offer, reject it, or make a counteroffer.
The seller’s response will determine the next step. If the seller accepts your offer, then you will sign a purchase and sale agreement and complete the offer with an earnest money deposit. Don’t worry; your real estate agent can easily guide you through the process.
Massachusetts Doesn’t Require Sellers to Fill Out a Disclosure Form
In Massachusetts, the law requires a seller, and the listing agent, to disclose to a buyer any known defects, which are faults in the property that are not openly obvious and/or discoverable through reasonable due diligence.
Conduct a Home Inspection
After your offer is accepted, it is routine to have a home inspection. During these examinations, a licensed inspector determines if there are any physical defects and whether expensive repairs and replacements are likely to be required in the next few years.
A typical inspection for a single-family home usually requires two or three hours depending on the size of the home. Try your best to attend! The inspection is your opportunity to examine the property’s mechanics and structure, ask questions, and learn more about the property than is possible with an informal walk-through.
Due to Massachusetts not having a mandatory written property disclosure, conducting a home inspection is vitally important. In the case that major defects are found that would cause you to no longer want to purchase the home, most purchase and sale agreements have a clause that allows you to get out of the deal and have your deposit returned.
Close On Your New Home
There are several final steps before you get the keys to your new home in your hand.
Before closing, you will have a walk-through of the home you are buying. This is to ensure any necessary repairs are made and that the house is in the same or better condition than when you made the offer.
Most lenders will require that you have a homeowner’s insurance binder (proof of insurance) before they close the loan. In Massachusetts it’s required that an attorney be present at the closing. Many buyers also purchase title insurance with a one-time fee at closing, which protects owners if the title to the property is found to be closed.
After signing the loan documents, the sellers receive the remainder of the payment from your lender, and the house is yours!
Spectrum Real Estate is Here For You
The Spectrum Real Estate Consultants Team is the top producing team of Realtors at Keller Williams Realty Leading Edge, completing over 900 successful transactions since 2015. Our mission is to provide our clients with world-class service while simplifying the Real Estate transaction through experience, technology, and effective communication.
Our team members are licensed and serve their local communities. Like our valued clients, we own, renovate and manage properties throughout these markets, allowing us to truly understand the process, challenges, and benefits of buying real estate in Massachusetts. Our knowledge and professional experience allow us to identify opportunities and prevent unnecessary setbacks, in the end saving you time, money, and frustration. So, if you’re ready to buy real estate in MA, let’s connect!