Western Massachusetts Real Estate and Community News

Sept. 19, 2018

Getting To Know BCA Part 1

This is the first in our series of "Getting to Know Brenda Cuoco & Associates!!

Sept. 19, 2018

The Cost Of Waiting: Interest Rates Edition

The Cost of Waiting: Interest Rates Edition [INFOGRAPHIC] | Keeping Current Matters

Some Highlights:

  • Interest rates are projected to increase steadily heading into 2019.
  • The higher your interest rate, the more money you end up paying for your home and the higher your monthly payment will be.
  • Rates are still low right now – don’t wait until they hit 5% to start searching for your dream home!
Sept. 17, 2018

Brenda Cuoco Leads the Real Estate Industry..

Sept. 17, 2018

Housing Market: Another Gigantic Difference Between 2008 And 2018

Some are attempting to compare the current housing market to the market leading up to the “boom and bust” that we experienced a decade ago. They look at price appreciation and conclude that we are on a similar trajectory, speeding toward another housing crisis.

However, there is a major difference between the two markets. Last decade, while demand was being artificially created by extremely loose lending standards, a tremendous amount of inventory was coming to the market to satisfy that demand. Below is a graph of the inventory of homes available for sale leading up to the 2008 crash.

Housing Market: Another Gigantic Difference Between 2008 and 2018 | Keeping Current Matters

A normal market should have approximately 6 months supply of housing inventory. As we can see, that number jumped to over 11 months supply leading up to the housing crisis. When questionable mortgage practices ceased, and demand dried up, there was a glut of inventory on the market which caused prices to drop as there was too much supply and not enough demand.

Today is radically different!

There are those who believe that low mortgage rates have created an artificial demand in the current market. They fear that if mortgage rates continue to rise, some of the current demand will dry up (which is a possibility).

However, if we look at supply again, we can see that the current supply of homes is well below the norm of 6 months.

Housing Market: Another Gigantic Difference Between 2008 and 2018 | Keeping Current Matters

Bottom Line

We will not have a glut of inventory like we did back in 2008 and home values won’t come tumbling down. Instead, if demand weakens, we will return to a normal market (approximately a 6-month supply) with historic levels of appreciation (3.6% annually).

Sept. 14, 2018

Homebuyers Willing To Sacrifice ‘Must-Haves’ In Favor Of Good School Districts

It should come as no surprise that buying a home in a good school district is important to homebuyers. According to a report from Realtor.com, 86% of 18-34 year-olds and 84% of those aged 35-54 indicated that their home search areas were defined by school district boundaries.

What is surprising, however, is that 78% of recent homebuyers sacrificed features from their “must-have”lists in order to find homes within their dream school districts.

The top feature sacrificed was a garage at 19%, followed closely by a large backyard, an updated kitchen, the desired number of bedrooms, and an outdoor living area. The full results are shown in the graph below.

Homebuyers Willing to Sacrifice ‘Must-Haves’ in Favor of Good School Districts | Keeping Current Matters

Buyers are attracted to schools with high test scores, accelerated academic programs, art and music programs, diversity, and before and after-school programs.

With a limited number of homes available to buy in today’s real estate market, competition is fierce for homes in good school districts. Danielle Hale, Chief Economist for Realtor.com, explained further,

“Most buyers understand that they may not be able to find a home that covers every single item on their wish list, but our survey shows that school districts are an area where many buyers aren’t willing to compromise.

For many buyers and not just buyers with children, ‘location, location, location,’ means ‘schools, schools, schools.’” (emphasis added)

Bottom Line

For buyers across the country, the quality of their children’s (or future children’s) education ranks highest on their must-have lists. Before you start the search for your next home, give us a a call, we  can explain the market conditions in the area. (413)596-9232

Sept. 12, 2018

Open House Sunday 9/16

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Sept. 12, 2018

5 Pitfalls You May Encounter If You Renovate Without a Permit

If you're thinking of renovating, you've probably already realized that it's a long road from "brilliant vision" to "completed new addition." Once you've found the architect or contractor who'll bring your ideas to fruition, it's time to think about permits.

We know, we know: Who wants to deal with one more time-consuming and costly step? And what if your local building department rejects your plans and you have to start over again?

"Over the last several years, the process has become time-consuming and somewhat costly," explains Joanne Intieri, a real estate agent with Douglas Elliman. As such, "Many homeowners want to move ahead on interior renovations without permits because they feel the local municipalities will never catch wind of it."

While it might be tempting to skip this part of the process, you can find yourself encountering more headaches should you ignore it. While the legal requirements for permits depends on your jurisdiction and the nature of the renovation, here are five pitfalls you may encounter if you try renovating without a permit. In other words: Don't renovate without one!

1. You may be fined or issued a stop-work order

While it's easy to think you'll slide under the radar or face nothing more than a slap on the wrist if you're caught, it's actually much more serious than that. 

"Your municipality could issue a stop-work order," Intieri explains. "This may also result in a substantial fine for the homeowner and contractor. Unfortunately, more times than we wish to talk about, the renovation completed by a contractor comes to the attention of the building department when an individual decides to sell their home."  

This brings us to the next stumbling block homeowners can experience...

2. You may blow a potential sale

"Not getting permits for home renovations can get particularly dicey once you attempt to sell your home," says Leigh McAlpin of Dwelling. For one, "Nonpermitted additions, particularly those that are not up to code, cannot be included in the square footage listed when you put your home on the market."

In other words: Even if you made a huge addition to your house, the smaller square footage is what you'll have to list, which means your home will appear to be much smaller in your listing than it really is.

Then, of course, there's how potential buyers will react when they hear your house has had unpermitted work done.

"First, it causes prospective buyers to become uncertain about the quality of the work throughout the home, unpermitted and permitted alike," says Antoine Dean with Living Room Realty. "It can create a red flag in the buyer's mind, causing them to look at everything through a magnifying glass. This can cause uncertainty and the buyer could lose confidence to move forward with the purchase."

3. Your home may plummet in value

Even if buyers turn a blind eye to unpermitted renovations, that doesn't mean other pros in the home-buying process will, too.

"It can cause appraisers to drop the value of your home and depreciate the value of the work that has been done," Dean continues. "The appraiser can simply require that the work be completely removed and redone, with permits. The appraiser’s job is to protect the interest of the bank, so if the appraiser’s requests aren't met, the bank could choose not to fund the loan, which could kill the deal."

4. Your home insurance policy may not apply

Furthermore, unpermitted renovations might violate your home insurance policy. Let's say the work was done incorrectly and, as a result, faulty electric work sparks a house fire. The damage caused may not be covered, leaving you with a costly nightmare.

5. You might get lower quality workmanship

Permits are also a simple way to keep your contractors in line and doing their best work.

"When your contractor knows that permits are required, along with the detailed inspections that follow, they are more likely to complete the job in a more thorough, professional manner," explains McAlpin. "Their work will be completed with the knowledge that—in addition to making the client happy—their work has to be up to code and pass all inspections."

Skip the permits, and who knows what a contractor might let slide?


 realtor.com |

Posted in Home Improvement
Sept. 11, 2018

Today's Featured Video Tour!

This Charming Longmeadow Colonial is priced at $239,000.00 and offers 3 bedrooms and 1.5 baths. Outdoors venue features a two car detached garage, a fenced in yard, and deck dining! Located close by to Greenwood Park, Rt 91, and the CT state line adds a convenient bonus! Don't miss out on this charmer, give Brenda Cuoco & Associates a call today! (413)596-9232 


Sept. 10, 2018

4 Reasons Why Fall Is A Great Time To Buy A Home!

Here are four great reasons to consider buying a home today instead of waiting.

1. Prices Will Continue to Rise

CoreLogic’s latest Home Price Insights report reveals that home prices have appreciated by 6.2% over the last 12 months. The same report predicts that prices will continue to increase at a rate of 5.1% over the next year.

Home values will continue to appreciate for years. Waiting no longer makes sense.

2. Mortgage Interest Rates Are Projected to Increase

Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey shows that interest rates for a 30-year mortgage have already increased by half of a percentage point, to around 4.5% in 2018. Most experts predict that rates will rise over the next 12 months. The Mortgage Bankers Association, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the National Association of Realtors are in unison, projecting that rates will increase by half a percentage point to around 5.1% by this time next year.

An increase in rates will impact your monthly mortgage payment. A year from now, your housing expense will increase if a mortgage is necessary to buy your next home.

3. Either Way, You Are Paying a Mortgage

There are some renters who have not yet purchased homes because they are uncomfortable taking on the obligation of a mortgage. Everyone should realize that unless you are living with your parents rent-free, you are paying a mortgage – either yours or your landlord’s.

As an owner, your mortgage payment is a form of ‘forced savings’ that allows you to build equity in your home which you can then tap into later in life. As a renter, you guarantee your landlord is the person building that equity.

Are you ready to put your housing cost to work for you?

4. It’s Time to Move on with Your Life

The ‘cost’ of a home is determined by two major components: the price of the home and the current mortgage rate. It appears that both are on the rise.

But what if they weren’t? Would you wait?

Look at the actual reason you are buying and decide if it is worth waiting. Whether you want to have a great place for your children to grow up, you want your family to be safer, or you just want to have control over renovations, maybe now is the time to buy.

If the right thing for you and your family is to purchase a home this year, buying sooner rather than later could lead to substantial savings.

Sept. 10, 2018

Existing Home Sales Cooling Off This Summer

Existing Home Sales Cooling Off This Summer [INFOGRAPHIC] | Keeping Current Matters

Some Highlights:

  • According to the National Association of Realtors’ latest Existing Home Sales Report, sales in June were down 2.2% from last year.
  • Inventory of homes for sale showed a modest improvement of 0.5% over last year’s figures, but still remains under the 6-month supply needed for a normal market.
  • NAR’s Chief Economist Lawrence Yun had this to say: “There continues to be a mismatch since the spring between the growing level of homebuyer demand in most of the country in relation to the actual pace of home sales, which are declining. The root cause is without a doubt the severe housing shortage that is not releasing its grip on the nation’s housing market.”