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


apartment buildingIs a condominium right for you? The market has been steadily rising for the past few years but condo living may not be for everyone. Condo buyers typically fall into three categories: -First-time buyers -Second home or vacation home owners -Retirees looking for a low-maintenance alternative Under the right set of circumstances a condominium can be a great purchase. Before you run out and shop for condos you have to be comfortable living with rules and restrictions, and in close proximity to others. There are different types of condominiums. They can take the form of apartment-style complexes, townhouses or converted multi-family dwellings. Most condominiums have common areas, such as stairwells, dividing and outer walls, fitness centers, pools, walking paths and gardens. These common areas are under shared ownership. Each unit owner holds an interest in these spaces. Because space is shared there needs to a way to manage the maintenance, repair and costs of these common areas. To deal with that and other issues that involve space sharing every condo development has a condominium association. The association is typically elected by condo owners and makes communal decisions in the interest of the community. When you find a condominium you are interested in you will want to inquire about the association: Some questions you may want to ask are:
  • Does the association maintain reserve of funds to pay for unexpected and potentially expensive repairs? If so, how much is in reserve and how is it managed?
  • Has the association maintained the building in good repair? Are there currently or any planned special assessments?
  • Does the association have plans to add any facilities, such as a swimming pool or gym, in the near future?
  • Does the development have any pending legal actions? Are there any disputes between owners, with developers or with the association that you should know about?
  • Buying a condo also comes with costs some are similar to a single family home purchase while others are condo specific. These costs include:
    • Down payment, mortgage and property tax
    • Condo fees, otherwise known as maintenance fees. Condo fees are paid by every resident to help with the maintenance of the building, pay the salaries of groundskeepers, concierges or handymen, and provide luxury facilities such as a pool, gym or rooftop garden. Condo fees are paid monthly and are subject to change. The condominium association budgets and determines the condo fees for all units. Condo fees are typically determined by the size of your unit, how many units are currently occupied, and the projected expenses for building maintenance and repair.
    • Special assessment fees. These fees may be requested when an unexpected repair or planned modification exceeds the cost of the condo fees collected
    • One of the most important considerations is to determine if you can live with the condominium rules or covenants. The rules vary from one condo development to another. Some condominiums may impose restrictions on pet ownership, noise levels, remodeling projects, and renting. Always read the condo rules and regulations to make sure that you are comfortable with them before you make a commitment to purchase.

With the recent scrutiny being placed on food quality in America, many people are looking to starting their own gardens. While there's no denying that keeping a garden can be a lot of work, the benefits of growing your own produce are hard to ignore. If you are thinking about trying out your green thumb, there are a few things to consider. What would you like to grow? Would you prefer a garden that you can keep indoors, or do you want an outdoor garden? How much time are you willing to dedicate to your new project? Herb gardens are a good start for anyone interested in growing useful plants. You can grow any combination of herbs indoors. Many herb kits exist, and can be purchased from your local gardening store for relatively cheap. These kits take the guesswork out of picking a complementary combination of herbs, and come complete with full instructions on how to maximize your little garden's potential. If your ambitions are bigger, you can opt for an outdoor garden. Outdoor gardens give you much wider selection of plants to choose from. Living in New England, you can count on about 120 frost-free days, so pay attention to the plants that you choose for your garden. You'll want to choose fruits and vegetables that can survive the occasional frost, and are considered relatively hardy. Here's a few ideas to get you started. Plants that do well in the climate of New England include tomatoes, asparagus, snow peas, zucchini, peppers, eggplant, and cucumbers. Tomatoes in particular offer a lot of variety, from the smaller cherry tomato, to more robust varieties like beefsteak. A newer variety of tomato called Glacier does fairly well in colder climates, and packs the same zest as the more fickle, hot-climate tomatoes. If you want to add a more unique fruit to your garden, you might also want to consider one of the heirloom tomato varieties. I've heard of a tomato called "White Wonder", which is a nearly all-white tomato that packs a whallop of flavor. Many types of berries do extremely well in New England summers. Why not try your hand at strawberries? Cavendish are a large, sweet variety of strawberries that do extremely well here, despite the harsh, unpredictable nature of our climate. For more information on gardening in New England, please visit the following link. http://www.gardeninginnewengland.com/index.asp Good luck!

Buying a home can be a scary and confusing process. It is easy to get confused by all of the homes, locations, and what is truly important to you when buying a home. First you will want to determine what you can afford. To do that you will want to get preapproved. That means a bank; mortgage broker or credit union will determine how much of loan you qualify for based on your income, debt and credit score. They will give a pre-approval letter stating how much you can afford. Now it is time to pick a real estate professional to help you find the right home, negotiate on your behalf and help you navigate through the process. It is important that you choose an agent that is reputable; you have interviewed to find a good fit and is willing to listen to your needs. Many buyers often confuse their needs with their wants. Making a list of what you actually need and what you want or your wish list is very helpful when looking for a home. Buying a home is typically a process of elimination. Many home buyers often dismiss homes that perfectly fit their needs in search for one that has their wants. This doesn’t mean you can have your wish list, but home buying is more often defined by your budget than wish lists. To help with this process it is typically helpful to make a list of needs and wants.
Examples of NEEDS Examples of WANTS
Reasonable square footage for comfortable living Paint, carpet, counter tops, accessories.
Bedrooms to accommodate your family Pool or Jacuzzi (unless for medical reasons)
Adequate number of bathrooms Wood floors
Eat-in kitchen Bay windows, skylights
Garage or basement for storage needs Entertainment centers,  moldings, decks and patios
Lot size to accommodate children's play area Upgraded lighting fixtures
Adaptation for Handicapped View
Proximity to a specific school
Single floor living for health reasons
Each individual will have a different list of needs and wants. Your own list will help you evaluate homes as you go through the process. Sharing this list with your real estate professional will also help narrow down your search. The goal is to find a house that includes all of your needs and meets as many of your wants as is practical in your budget.

Buying property can definitely be a very lucrative investment. However, before you decide on buying and selling real estate, you have to have a good understanding of the markets. In other words, if you are looking to buy so that you can sell down the road to make a profit on your real estate, then you are better off achieving this when the housing market is slow, as there is less demand for buying houses, thus forcing sellers to lower their prices. This in turn will allow you to get a home at the lowest price possible, and then being able to sell it at a higher price once the markets begin to move again. Of course, investing in real estate is not only about the current conditions of the housing market. In addition, you also have to look at other factors such as the location the real estate will be in, the condition of the real estate, and the reason why the owner is looking to sell. In the end, buying and selling real estate carries the same risks as any other type of investment, and the only way to avoid these risks is through proper research. More importantly, you will be spending a good amount of money on real estate compared to other types of investments, and so you want to make sure that your money is well spent. By keeping these valuable points in mind, you will be able to find the right property to invest in.

Could condo living be for you? For many condominium living can be an attractive alternative to a single family home. The price per square foot of a condo is often less than a single family home. Before you make the leap to condo living make sure to do your homework to see if it truly is the best choice for you. Here is a checklist of a few things you may want to consider before signing on the dotted line.
  • Condominiums have monthly maintenance fees.
  • Check with the condominium association to see what the annual increase in the monthly maintenance fee has been for the past few years.
  • What is the percentage of residents are current with their monthly association payments. Look for about ninety-seven percent of the development's residents to be current with their monthly payments.
  • What percentage of the association fees are dedicated to a reserve fund. A good number would be at least 10 percent of the association's annual budget.
  • What are the condition of the condo's roof and major mechanical systems? When were they last replaced or repaired. When the condo requires big upgrades, costly "special assessment" fees are passed on to the homeowners.
Most importantly try and talk to some of the residents. They can be your most valuable resource for learning about the development's pros and cons of the condominium development.



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