Addie Finley | Billerica MA Real Estate Real Estate, Lowell MA Real Estate Real Estate


Want to make your homeownership dream a reality? Get pre-approved for a mortgage, and a first-time homebuyer can move closer than ever before to acquiring his or her ideal residence.

Ultimately, there are many reasons to receive pre-approval for a mortgage, including:

1. You can establish a realistic homebuying budget.

Entering the housing market for the first time can be challenging. In fact, many first-time homebuyers struggle to establish realistic expectations before they begin their home search. And as a result, these homebuyers may end up spending too much for a house.

Fortunately, getting pre-approved for a mortgage enables a homebuyer to enter the real estate market with a budget in hand. This ensures a homebuyer can avoid the temptation to overspend on a residence.

Pre-approval for a mortgage also allows a homebuyer to map out his or her homebuying journey. With a plan in place, this homebuyer may be better equipped than others to acquire a top-notch residence that matches or exceeds his or her expectations.

2. You can speed up the homebuying journey.

Although a first-time homebuyer can always submit an offer on a home without a mortgage in hand, doing so may be tricky. In some cases, it may even slow down the homebuying process, especially if a homebuyer has to allocate significant time and resources to find a mortgage lender.

On the other hand, a homebuyer who gets pre-approved for a mortgage should have no trouble accelerating the property buying cycle. This homebuyer will know exactly how much money is at his or her disposal, and as a result, can speed up the homebuying journey.

3. You can gain a competitive advantage over rival homebuyers.

In many instances, a home seller may be more likely to accept a proposal from a first-time homebuyer who has been pre-approved for a mortgage versus an offer from a buyer who still needs to obtain a mortgage.

A homebuyer who has a mortgage likely won't have to wait too long to acquire a house. Conversely, a homebuyer who needs to apply for a mortgage after an offer has been submitted may need to wait many weeks or months to complete a home sale.

Clearly, there are many great reasons for a first-time homebuyer to receive pre-approval for a mortgage. For homebuyers who want to ensure the best results possible, it certainly helps to collaborate with an experienced real estate agent too.

An experienced real estate agent understands the ins and outs of the housing market and will do whatever it takes to help a homebuyer streamline the property buying journey. This housing market professional will set up home showings and negotiate with a home seller on a property buyer's behalf. Plus, he or she is happy to provide honest, unbiased recommendations to help a homebuyer make his or her homeownership dream come true.

Take the next step to acquire your dream residence – get pre-approved for a mortgage today, and a first-time homebuyer can get the necessary financing to purchase his or her ideal house.


There are two main ways to treat those annoying bedbugs you have in your home – Chemical and non-chemical.

Non-chemical Bed Bug Treatments

  • Wash and dry all of your bedding and clothing at high temperatures. However, just washing bedding or clothing is generally not enough to kill the bugs. Drying at high temperatures is the key.
  • Heat the infested items to at least 118 °F for 1 hour. The higher the temperature, the less time is required to kill the bugs.
  • Cold treatments below 0°F for at least five days (or 120 hours) can eliminate some infestations. The colder the temperature, the less time required to kill the bedbug infestation. However, your home freezer is generally not cold enough to effectively kill them.

Chemical Treatments

There are dozens of chemical products on the market that are registered with the EPA to kill or repel the bugs. Unfortunately, many of the over-the-counter products simply do not work. Therefore, many homeowners unknowingly waste time and money trying to treat their homes without professional assistance. DIY homeowners also either over-apply or misapply the chemicals they purchase. 

Contact the manufacturer of each product directly because most local pest control professionals will not be able to consult you on which DIY chemical they'd recommend for your situation. 

How to Keep Bedbugs Out of Your Home

A key reason for the success of bedbugs at spreading from location to location is their ability to survive extended periods time without feeding. Some bugs can survive up to12 months without eating.

Preventive tips

There are a few basic precautions that can help keep your home safe from an infestation:

  • Use protective covers to encase mattresses, box springs, and furniture to eliminate hiding spots.
  • Remove clutter from your home that might be prone to hiding places• Avoid bringing used furniture into your home without a comprehensive inspection.
  • Perform a thorough search of your hotel room for signs of bugs
  • Use luggage racks for suitcases and reduce the contact between your Clothing and the bed or carpet
  • Perform a thorough inspection of your luggage and clothing when you return home and limit the contact between travel clothing and mattresses, box springs and furniture

Bed bugs aren't fun, but if you are knowledgeable about what to look for and consult with a pest solutions technician to find the best solution, you can beat bed bugs.


It's easy to get stuck without a mortgage approval or with a smaller home loan than you want, just because you don't understand how your credit score works. Most of the things you've done to prepare: budgeting your income, balancing your bank accounts and saving up for a down payment, aren't reflected in your FICO credit score. It doesn't even show how much you can afford.

So what’s the point of your credit score?

It tells your lender what you’ve done with your previous credit. Whether anyone has been willing to lend you money, how long you’ve kept it and whether you pay it back on time. They keep the actual algorithm at FICO secret, but there are two main factors that you can affect.

Late Payments

These are easy to understand and fix. Ready? Pay them on time. That’s it. Each time you are late on a debt payment, whether it’s a credit card, school loan, mortgage, or car loan it dings your credit score. That’s the easy part. Now for some finance math.

Debt to Credit Ratio

Surprisingly, you are in complete control of this part of your score too. While it sounds like this is a ratio of how much you owe to how much you make, it's not. The debt-to-credit ratio shows how much you owe based on how much credit you currently have available. That means if you have a $5000 credit card, and your friend has a $2000 credit card, and you both OWE $2000, you will have a higher score than your friend because your ratio ($2000/$5000) is lower than hers ($2000/$2000). The higher this ratio gets, the less likely lenders are to give you more credit. Most professionals suggest you try to keep your usage below 30%. That means your balance on that $5000 credit card should stay below $1500. This practice works better for you as well, keeping some cushion in your accounts for emergencies.

Managing your Debt-to-Credit Ratio

There are a few tricks beyond merely using less of your credit to help keep this number under control. First off, pay off as much of your debt as possible. You want to keep that used debt down as low as possible when trying to apply for new debt. Second, don't close your paid-off accounts. While it may seem like the optimal thing to do, remember that total credit number? You want to keep that number high so that your used credit appears lower. So, you've paid off that credit card? Great! Now chop it up or put it in a hidden drawer and keep that available credit without using it. Lastly, be careful about opening new accounts. While it lowers your debt-to-credit ratio as long as you don’t actually spend from them, your score also reflects the age of your accounts. The longer ago you applied for and got credit, the more likely it is you will qualify for new credit. Don’t waste that new credit qualification on anything else besides your home loan.

Want to know the best lenders to apply with once you've got the best score? Ask your real estate agent for their top recommendations for your situation and use their expertise to ease the qualification process.


Trying to understand what that home description is all about? Whether you're new to the housing market or newly returned, you'll find terms used to describe homes that you might not recognize. Or, you may not understand what they truly mean in context. The word walkable, for instance, shouldn't apply to a home at all, should it? After all, houses can't just get up and walk away.

Defining the real [estate] meaning

In real estate and urban parlance, a walkable neighborhood might refer to a community where services such as grocery and other shops, restaurants, bars, parks, and other recreation areas are reachable on foot within a 10-to-15 minute timeframe.

In another area, walkable might mean that public transportation to urban areas is within walking distance. In this case, the neighborhood itself may not hold the services but does support its being in reach via bus or train access.

Still, other definitions of walkable mean that the community has lighted footpaths, sidewalks, urban (or suburban) trails and other means by which residents may walk for exercise or recreation. Or, that the community provides opportunities and programs for residents to walk.

Breaking down “walkable” themes

With all the various definitions in use, a Harvard study published these themes as most important to walkability.

Environmental dimensions adding to walkability:

  • Traversable: environments with the physical conditions—sidewalks, trails, footpaths—to allow traverse from one place to another without difficulty.
  • Compact: where the distance between places is relatively short.
  • Safe: lower crime rates, lighted pathways, marked and controlled crosswalks, and additional safety features add to the safe walkability of a neighborhood.
  • Physically enticing: settings with full accessibility to pedestrians that include landscaping, signage, benches, shade trees, pathways, street lights, and views.

Outcome dimensions of walkability

  • Social: a location with lively shopping and dining areas, typically mixed-use live/work situations and the friendly people that live, work, or visit there.
  • Transportation: is the perception that both social equality (age, income, disability) and environmental preservation are sustainable via public transit.
  • Exercise-inducing: forced exercise due to proximity to work, transportation, or services, or the lack of suitable parking that goes with living in a more urban area.

Designing for walkability

  • Measurable: the neighborhood design or redevelopment includes walkability as a quantifiable outcome based on specific indicators.
  • Holistic: in this case, walkability references communities of improved urban living with slower pace built in, scaled for human health and happiness, devised to promote interaction.

None of these is definitive, but if you’re looking for a neighborhood that defines “walkable” for you, check the walk score website, which measures over 100 aspects of walkability, and talk to your local real estate professional about what works for you.


Multiple options are available when it comes to real estate loans. Figuring out which one you need can be disconcerting, to say the least. So, if you’re new to the game, here’s a quick guide to help you along. 

Standard Mortgages:

  • Conventional – Loans that fall within the FNMA/FHLMC (Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac) guidelines where the Federal government is not insuring the payment through the VA or FHA loan process are known as conventional loans. A conventional loan has either a fixed or an adjustable interest rate, and typically requires ten to twenty percent downpayment.
  • Conforming – When a loan conforms to guidelines set by FNMA/FHLMC (Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac) where either Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac could later purchase the loan, it is said to be conforming. A non-conforming loan would be any loan that does not fit the guidelines, so a Jumbo Loan, for example, would be outside the scope of FNMA/FHLMC because of its size.
  • FHA Insured – Loans that are insured by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) are made to borrowers meeting specific criteria and often require lower down payments.
  • VA – American military personnel and veterans may obtain a mortgage through the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) as typically preferred interest rates and/or no or lower down payments.

Specialty Mortgages:

  • Reverse Annuity – This particular mortgage is for seniors on a fixed income and is used to generate monthly revenue from the equity in their home. They continue to live in the house as they like, but ownership reverts to their lender once they move from the home or pass away.
  • Wrap around – Sometimes, a homeowner needs to sell, but chooses to keep a preferential mortgage on the home, so the buyer pays a mortgage payment that covers both the original mortgage and the amortized difference between the existing mortgage and the selling price. The seller is considered to have loaned the “wrap around” amount to the buyer.
  • Balloon – A balloon mortgage is a loan with a short (three years, perhaps) term that has a fixed principal and interest monthly payment that typically is not fully amortized. At the end of the term, the rest of the mortgage is due in a single (balloon) payment at which time buyers typically refinance. These loans are useful for buyers that intend to sell within the balloon period at an appreciation value (such as for a longer fixer-upper), or who could not qualify for a conventional loan at the time but expect that situation to change during the length of the mortgage.
  • Graduated Payment – Sometimes a loan is structured so that earlier payments are lower than later payments and the payments increase on a scheduled basis.
  • Refinance – A refinance is a mortgage taken out to replace an existing mortgage. Homeowners sometimes add more money from the home's equity onto the loan to complete home improvements.

Short-Term Home Loans:

In addition to full mortgages, there are several short-term loans that homeowners may take in special situations. These include bridge loans (between buying and selling on contingency), construction loans, non-recourse loans (rare, and when the buyer has no responsibility for payment), and home equity loans or lines of credit based on the value difference between the amount owed on the home and its current fair market value.

If you’re wondering what type loan is right for you, speak to a mortgage professional about your situation and get pre-approved.




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