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So You're Thinking of Buying a Home in Boston?

home buyer slidesYou've never done this before, and it can be, well...kind of intimidating. I'm sure you've had your doubts, questions, concerns... it can be really quite overwhelming, but it doesn't have to be!!

You've been pondering this, discussing it with friends and family, but want more information on the market and what actually happens during your first home buying, but you're not quite sure where to get the answers? We at Charlesgate Realty Group can you help you!

We've been hosting a Boston Home Buyer Class for a few years now. It's free. And we discuss things such as:

    •    Renting vs. Buying: Whether it even makes sense for you to buy right now
    •    Homebuying process and timeline: How long it actually takes to buy
    •    Working with an agent: How it works and whether or not you really need one
    •    What mortgages are still available and how much cash you need to buy
    •    Using neighborhood level data (like discount ratios and real time trend graphs) to value properties
    •    Negotiating 101: How to craft your offer to drive a hard bargain!
    •    Top 10 online resources to aid your home search

It's very low key, we offer food and drinks before and afterward and it's a great way to learn about the Boston real estate market, ask questions that you may have regarding the process. In fact, our buyer agents stick around to answer any other questions you may have that we may not have hit upon during the class. The class is at 6pm on Tuesday September 20.

Click here to get more information and to register. We hope to see you there!

How I had to Settle for a One Bedroom When I Really Wanted a Two Bedroom


[This is a post from James Marsden, a buyer agent on our team here at Charlesgate Realty Group. If you have any questions, please comment below or contact James].


Congress extends Fannie and Freddie conforming loan limits for Boston thru 2010

On October 29, 2009, the House and Senate passed legislation to extend the current conforming loan limits for FHA and Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae (the government sponsored enterprises, or GSEs, that back much of the mortgage market in the U.S.) through December 31, 2010.  These loan limits, set at 125% of local area median home price and capped at $729,750, would have expired on December 31, 2009 in which case loan limits would have been reduced in many markets.

It's certainly welcome news for high cost areas like us here in Boston. 

Boston real estate: Soft Second loan program offers lower costs to borrowers

saving money

[Here is a guest post from Jessica Later, one of the skilled buyer agents on my team here at Charlesgate Realty Group.  Please enjoy her post, and if you have any questions, please comment below or contact Jessica].

Mortgage rate update: Rates rise into the mid 5% range

boston mortgage rate chart

For previous mortgage rate updates (which include graphs of the rates over time) see the following mortgage update posts from May 8, 2009 or April 24, 2009 or April 17, 2009 or see this post about jumbo rates for more about larger loans.

Jumbo mortgage loan rates may finally be coming down


If you've been dreading the substantial bump in interest rates that comes along with loans for purchases or refinances above $523,750 (which is the current conforming loan limit in the Boston area), you're not alone.  Since about half of all condos sold in downtown Boston sell for more than $500K (according to the latest median Boston condo prices), I suspect there are a lot of people in the same boat.   But now there is finally some good news for those of you thinking about buying or refinancing an "expensive" home or condo in Boston.

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How the new $8000 first time homebuyer tax credit will work


UPDATE (NOV. 5, 2009): Read this for information about the newly extended and expanded $8,000 home buyer tax credit which is is open to more than first time homebuyers and extended to May 1, 2010.

Now that it's official and Obama has signed the economic stimulus bill, there is some clarification on how the $8000 first time homebuyer tax credit will work.  Here are the details:

  1. The tax credit is worth $8,000 or 10% of the home's value (whichever is less).  FYI: A tax credit is a dollar for dollar reduction in the amount of taxes owed (much better than a tax deduction which only reduces your taxable income amount that your tax bill is based on).
  2. The tax credit is non-repayable AND refundable.  That means you don't ever have to pay the $8,000 back AND it also means that if you owe less than $8,000 in total taxes, you will receive a refund from the government of any extra credit.  If you currently are expecting a refund anyway, you will get the $8,000 additional on top of what you would expect to get.
  3. To qualify, you have to buy a home in 2009 - you must close on a home between Jan 1, 2009 and November 30, 2009 to be precise.  [NOTE: Last year's $7500 homebuyer tax credit remains repayable for those who purchased in 2008.  For more info on the 2008 homebuyer tax credit read here and here plus see the excellent graph from NAR below for a thorough comparison].
  4. You are eligible for the tax credit if you are a first time homebuyer (meaning you haven't owned a home within three years).
  5. You must also meet income guidelines - the credit is phased out if you make more than $75,000 as an individual or $150,000 if you are married.  Phased out means that if you make more than those amounts (but less than $95,000 single and $170,000 married), you may be eligible for a partial credit.  
  6. The tax credit can be claimed on either your 2008 tax return or your 2009 tax return.  So if you recently purchased, you can file it under your 2008 tax return to get your credit sooner.  You can also amend your 2008 return if you already filed.  Check with your accountant, but I believe all that is required is Form f5405 from the IRS.
  7. You only need to file it on your tax return to claim the credit.  It's simple, no other paperwork needs to be filed (besides Form f5405).  But you do not get the money before closing or at closing, only when you get your tax refund.

From the National Association of Realtors, here is a direct comparison chart highlighting the changes in the homebuyer tax credit from last year to this year (the major changes are highlighted in bold italics):

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2009 Fannie and Freddie conforming loan limits for Boston increased in stimulus bill

2009 Boston condo market report

UPDATE (NOV. 5, 2009): The new, higher Fannie and Freddie conforming loan limits have now been extended through 2010 by Congress (more info on that here).  Congress also updated and extended the $8000 tax credit for home buyers today.


Update on Senate version of $15,000 homebuyer tax credit


UPDATE (NOV. 5, 2009): Read this for information about the newly extended and expanded $8,000 home buyer tax credit which is is open to more than first time homebuyers and extended to May 1, 2010.


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Mortgage rates continue to slide...


The Federal Reserve began its announced program of buying $500B worth of mortgage securities from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac last week, driving mortgage rates even lower.  The nationwide average for a 30 year fixed rate loan, according to Freddie Mac, now stands at 5.01%, down from 5.10% the previous week - the 10th straight week of decline.

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