Posted by Marie Presti on 2/14/2018



Newton, home of The Presti Group, was just named the best city

in Massachusetts for safety, wealth, environment and the economy, just to name a few attributes. With its top-rated schools, fantastic public services and close proximity to downtown Boston, Newton is desirable, convenient and beautiful. Real estate will continue to be strong. Following are my real estate predictions for 2018:  

  • The Upside of the New Tax Law  Homeowners who used to write off their state income and municipal real estate taxes will only be able to write off up to $10,000. Using Newton’s current tax rate of $11.12 per thousand, a house would have to be assessed for over $900,000 for taxes to be over $10,000 (without considering the Mass. income taxes for the prior year). Therefore, this should have little effect on the lower-range homes. However, for owners of higher-priced residences, there may be less of an incentive to keep their homes, particularly if they’re already considering downsizing. The good news, is that if homeowners choose to move, the number of new listings will increase.
  • Homebuyers can put away the helmet  The inventory of mid-priced homes in Newton has been low for the past several years, driving bidding wars as consumers battled for fewer homes. However, at the end of 2017, Realtors saw a 5.7% increase in the number of properties sold this year to 1,005 units (up from 951 in 2017), according to the Greater Boston Association of Realtors. This percentage may increase even more to 7-8%, as the demand for homes levels off in the entry market and new listings continue to come on-line. Not only that, because of the new tax legislation, many higher-end homeowners may choose to sell their properties and downsize. This is excellent news for homebuyers, because there will be more to choose from and fewer bidding wars as result. For sellers, though, the news may not be so bright. Selling their homes for thousands of dollars way over market value (which used to be the norm) may be waning.
  • All Good Things Must Come to an End For anyone buying a home and/or borrowing money, the low mortgage rate they’ve enjoyed for years is ending. Mortgage interest rates will increase, with industry analysts predicting them to climb throughout 2018. Given the conforming loan interest rate is now four percent, rates will increase at least a half of a percent by the end of the year. This shouldn’t hurt the higher end of the market ($1M+), since those buyers are less price-sensitive. On the other hand, it could impact first-time buyers looking to purchase a home here.
  • What goes up won’t go down (at least in 2018) The old adage, “What goes up, must come down,” hasn’t applied to Newton. The average home price here continues to rise, and by the end of 2018, I predict a healthy increase, to approximately 5-6%. (I believe this rise will not be as high as 2017, as the median sale price of all residential properties last year was up by 8% to $1,000,000 from 2016.) Tax reform could also impact us by a few percent, making the increase a more modest gain and one that is more in-line with an average market. However, due to Newton’s many attributes, not to mention the corporations with thousands of employees who are looking around Boston for housing (Amazon? Do you hear me?), we all could be surprised.

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Posted by Marie Presti on 2/11/2018

Many homebuyers face an interesting dilemma. On one hand, a broad array of houses is available nationwide, making it easy to find a great residence just about anywhere. Conversely, the housing market remains fierce, and a homebuyer who fails to submit the right offer at the right time may miss out on the opportunity to acquire his or her dream residence.

Ultimately, homebuyers must be ready to submit a fair offer on a house at any time. And even though you may be tempted to submit a proposal that exceeds a home seller's asking price to secure your ideal house, you should try to do everything you can to avoid overspending.

Lucky for you, we're here to teach you the ins and outs of making a reasonable offer on a home. Here are three tips to ensure you can avoid spending too much for a house.

1. Know What to Look for in Your Dream House

The definition of a "dream house" may vary from homebuyer to homebuyer. If you consider exactly what you'd like to find in your ideal home, you'll be able to browse the real estate market accordingly.

Although many great houses are readily available, it is important to keep in mind that no residence is perfect. As such, you should establish lists of must-haves and wants for your dream home and set realistic expectations. This will allow you to compare and contrast homes against your lists, find a residence that meets your expectations and remain calm, cool and collected as you prepare to submit an offer on a home.

2. Get a Mortgage in Advance

Homebuyers can get pre-approved for a mortgage and create a budget before they embark on a search for their dream home.

Getting pre-approved for a mortgage will require you to meet with banks and credit unions and assess all of the mortgage options at your disposal. In addition, lenders may be able to offer a variety of financing options based on your credit score, annual income and other economic factors.

With a mortgage in hand, you can explore the real estate market and find homes that fall within your price range. Therefore, if you get pre-approved for a mortgage, you may be better equipped to accelerate the homebuying process and avoid overspending on a house.

3. Choose the Right Real Estate Agent

Your real estate agent may make or break your home search. And with the right real estate agent at your side, you should have no trouble finding your dream home in any real estate market.

Your real estate agent is happy to provide tips to ensure you can submit a fair offer on any residence. That way, you can avoid the risk of overspending and improve your chances of acquiring your dream home at a reasonable price.

Hire a real estate agent who possesses comprehensive expertise and great people skills. By doing so, you can work with a real estate professional who can help you acquire your ideal home in no time at all.

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Posted by Marie Presti on 2/4/2018

Feel as though you are losing space with every additional item that enters a room? Knick-knacks, electronics, toys and accessories piling up? Take a look at the tips below to maximize space in living rooms, dens, bedrooms, and extra rooms such as craft and laundry rooms. Built-Ins: Built-ins are a great space saver. They create storage without taking up too much space in a room. They are customizable so you can pick what type of storage will work best for you. Built-ins are especially effective in living rooms and toy rooms. Wall Storage: Wall storage is a great option for saving space in smaller, functional spaces like craft rooms, laundry rooms, and even kids rooms. Entryways will also benefit from wall storage where coats and keys can be hung up instead of flung on the nearest surface. It provides storage without taking up floor space. There are so many options for wall storage that range from shelves, hooks and cabinets of all sizes. Hidden Storage Furniture: Furniture with hidden storage is great way to maximize space. These pieces include ottomans, coffee tables, and end tables. Storage ottomans are great for storing extra blankets and pillows. Storage coffee tables and end tables are perfect for storing books, magazine, extra remotes, DVDs, coasters, and electronic accessories. If these pieces did not have storage then those items would be lingering on the tops of tables or around the house causing clutter and dysfunction. Multifunctional Storage: There are endless options here, some more functional than others. Under the stairs storage or stairs that have drawers and/or shelves, sofas that turn into beds, mirrors with jewelry storage, fold-down tables with storage, food/water bowls for animals incorporated into drawer storage, and litter boxes hidden in coffee tables (although I’m not sure who would want this). The type of home and room will determine whether or not some of these are practical options, but nonetheless, some are pretty unique. Incorporating one or more of the tips above will be determined by the type of room and home. A tip that works for a bedroom may not work for a bathroom and the same for a home compared to an apartment. Be cognizant of this when considering adopting these approaches for functional and spacious rooms. Hope these tips help maximize space in your home!

Posted by Marie Presti on 2/2/2018


Mortgage loans for more than 80% loan-to-value typically require private mortgage insurance (PMI). This type of insurance reimburses the lender if a borrower defaults on a loan. However, PMI is expensive, and homeowners should be aware of how to remove it when certain conditions have been met.

A borrower can request in writing for the lender to cancel the PMI, when the mortgage balance has reached 80% of the home’s original appraised value. (Many people don't realize this, but the lender is required to eliminate the PMI when the balance reaches 78%. So it's a good idea to monitor this, especially if additional principal contributions are being made to pay off the loan early.)

I followed this process myself with my Newton home many years ago, and was able to get the PMI removed. It saved me over $150 a month off my mortgage payment.

Other methods to eliminate PMI sooner (than through normal amortization) include:

  • If the value of the home has increased, the owner may consider refinancing with a loan that does not require PMI. There will be refinancing charges involved, but you can determine how long it will take to recapture those costs from the monthly savings.

  • Some lenders will consider using a new appraisal to verify that the home’s mortgage is below the 80% requirement. Find out in advance from your lender if they will accept this procedure and get the names of approved appraisers they will recognize. The cost of an appraisal could range between $450 to $600.

  • Another strategy is to make additional principal contributions on a regular basis to reduce your mortgage balance to 78-80% level that would allow the lender to eliminate the PMI.

Mortgage insurance is not required on VA loans regardless of the loan-to-value. FHA mortgages made after June 3, 2013 are required to have Mortgage Insurance Premium (MIP) for the life of the loan. For FHA loans made prior to that date, the MIP should automatically cancel when the loan-to-value ratio reaches 78% and has been in effect for a minimum of five years.

To obtain additional information specific to cancelling your mortgage insurance, contact information can usually be found on the annual statement provided by your mortgage servicer.

If you are thinking of doing this, feel free to reach out to me at The Presti Group ahead of time. I can do a pricing analysis that can be given to your bank's appraiser, to help with justifying the equity in your home.  I'm always happy to help reduced my client's mortgage payments!

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Posted by Marie Presti on 1/28/2018

Like any aspect of home maintenance, keeping your house safe for family and visitors requires awareness, planning, and attention. If you don't prioritize home safety and security, then there's a greater chance "Murphy's Law" will come into play when you least expect it.

Realistically speaking, the concept that "If something can go wrong, it will (and at the worst possible time)" certainly does not have any basis in fact. Everything that happens is the result of "cause and effect."

Fortunately, we can exert control over cause and effect and use it to our benefit. Here are several safety tips to keep in mind and implement to increase the probability that your home will be a safe place to live, visit, and perhaps grow old in.

  1. Fire safety is of paramount importance. It runs the gamut from making sure you have working smoke alarms and fire extinguishers to having second floor escape ladders and designated meeting places and exit plans.
  2. Proper lighting, both inside and out, can not only discourage burglars, but it also reduces the risk of mishaps, such as tripping, falling, or twisting an ankle.
  3. Shower and bathtub safety is important for everyone, but it's especially crucial for senior citizens and households that have elderly visitors, such as grandparents. A combination of safety railings and non-slip safety decals, stickers, or appliques on the tub floor would be your first line of defense against slips and falls in the bathroom.
  4. Stair safety is also well worth focusing on. It can be improved in your home in a number of ways, including the installation and reinforcement of hand rails. Making sure stairs are properly illuminated, especially at the bottom, can also help prevent falls and stumbles. Another preventative measure is to put a strip of brightly colored tape across the bottom step in your basement so that people realize there's one more step to go before they reach the floor. Any momentary confusion about that can result in falls and injuries.
  5. Protective equipment, such as goggles, work gloves, dust masks, and other safety gear may be necessary for certain types of cleaning, home repair work, tree pruning, or construction activities around the house and yard. Ladder safety and awareness is another important topic when it comes to reducing falls and injuries around the house.
  6. Ensuring child safety is a challenging priority, and can include everything from preventing access to dangerous household chemicals and medications to locking up gun cabinets and placing barriers around swimming pools, windows, and hot stoves. Hardware stores and other retail businesses often carry baby gates, child-resistant cabinet locks, toilet bowl safety clips, electrical outlet covers, and even rubber cushioning for the edges of coffee tables and fireplace hearths.

While this list of safety tips is not all-inclusive, it will hopefully encourage you to become more vigilant and attuned to all the different potential hazards in and around your home and property. If you're concerned about a specific area of home safety, there are free checklists, pamphlets, and articles available through government agencies, educational institutes, non-profit organizations, and the Internet.

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