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Blog :: 2017

At Berkshire Property Agents, we take pride in the advice we provide our clients. Here you'll find a variety of content pertaining to real estate news and tips for home buyers and sellers. If you have questions or would like to learn more, please contact our team. We would love to hear from you!

Take Better Photos of Your Home With These Helpful Tips!

When selling your home, it’s important for you to take plenty of attractive photos you can post online. These photos should display your home in its best light, showcasing attractive features that might be appealing to prospective buyers. Unattractive photos, on the other hand, can drive buyers away before they even have a chance to take a walkthrough. Today we’ll look at a few tips to help you take great photos that will be sure to generate interest from buyers. 

Use the right equipment.
You don’t necessarily need to run out and invest in expensive studio equipment that you’re only going to use once, but you should at least something other than your cell phone camera. Cell phones take decent photos, but they won’t capture the hi-res images you need. Instead, consider borrowing a decent camera from someone you know or ask your real estate agent for help obtaining equipment. You might even want to consider hiring a local photographer to take shots for you since that investment could very well pay off in the end. 

Clean up clutter.

When people scroll through the photos of your home, they shouldn’t be distracted by stray household items cluttering up the frame. Clean and stage your home in advance before you start shooting photos.

Use natural light to your advantage.

When taking photos of your home’s interior, you want it to be as bright as possible. Rather than using artificial light, wait for a nice sunny day when you get plenty of natural light through your windows. This will brighten up your photos and put your home into the best possible light, both literally and figuratively.

If you’re in the process of selling your home, Berkshire Property Agents would love to help! We can help you stage your home, market it to prospective buyers and more. Give us a call or contact us online today to get started!

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    How to Save Money as a First-Time Home Buyer

    How to Save Money as a First-Time Home Buyer

    In many cases, first-time homebuyers spend more money than they should on a home simply because they’re unfamiliar with the home-buying process. This is a multifaceted process, and it’s important to have a clear understanding of it if you want to get the best deal possible. Here are just a few ways homebuyers can save money when purchasing their first home.

    Check your credit score, and improve it if possible.

    The higher your credit score is, the better the mortgage rate will be. Before you start house hunting, take the time to check your credit score and see what you can do to improve it. By paying down any outstanding debts, you can probably improve your score in a matter of just a few months and qualify for a better mortgage rate in the future.

    Shop around for the best mortgage rate.

    Different banks, online lenders and credit unions will offer different mortgage rates based on your credit history. When you’re shopping around for homes, you should also be shopping around for the lender that will offer you the best terms on a mortgage. Don’t just take the first offer that comes along. Instead, be patient and look for a mortgage rate that you feel comfortable with before accepting it.

    See if you qualify for any first-time homebuyer grants or loans.

    Depending on where you live, you can usually find a first-time homebuyer grant or loan that can be used to pay for part or all of your down payment. Believe it or not, some first-time homebuyers don’t know this and end up missing out on a great opportunity. Check around to see what you qualify for, and you might be surprised by what is available to you.

    Berkshire Property Agents understands that going through the home-buying process for the first time can be stressful. Let us make it a little easier. Give us a call at (413) 528-6800 today to learn more about how we can help you find your very first home.

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      Find Your Ideal Vacation Home

      So you’re taking the plunge! Your vacation trips to the Berkshires have convinced you to plant roots here, and now you are on the hunt for a part-time place you can call your own (which, in our experience with our clients, often becomes a full-time residence). Where to begin?

      Start with the basics: money and budget. Once you determine your budget for a second home, other decisions can flow from that framework. Your budget will influence where you buy, how big or small, how much you can afford to spend on improvements, and how much you may need for routine, year-round maintenance. Some towns are more expensive than others; the taxes in some towns are lower, while others are higher. A good real estate broker can help you sift through these details.

      Unless you are paying cash for your new home, your strength as a buyer will be improved if you are pre-approved for a mortgage before you start shopping – or early in your process. Pre-approval means you have an actual bank commitment, and sellers appreciate that indicator of financial commitment (“pre-qualification” is far less formal).

      Next, explore your geographical options. You may already be in love with a particular town, neighborhood or condo development. Or you may be weighing whether to live on a quiet backroad or in a neighborhood, or close to a town center. Take a drive, take a walk, explore your options.

      We have lots of questions for vacation home buyers: Do you have kids/grandkids who will be visiting? How much space do you envision? Do you need a first-floor bedroom suite and laundry? A big yard and garden where you can spend hours, or a smaller outdoor space that’s easy to maintain? Do you want a pool? Outdoor entertainment areas? Do you want a turnkey property, or something you can renovate to suit your style? Do you expect to live here full-time someday?

      Once these questions are answered, we will make efficient use of your house-hunting effort -- after all, you don’t live here full-time yet and your time to house-shop may be limited. Once you’ve found your ideal property, we can refer you to resources for local financing and closing attorneys, movers, landscapers and more.

      Finally, our connection with you doesn’t stop at the closing table. We want you to feel at home once you move here, so we can offer resources and ideas to help you to indulge your interests, hobbies, outdoor activities, cultural curiosities and more. There are countless ways to get involved, and for many newcomers, the real estate office is the first local connection they make.  We are happy to help, so call us here at Berkshire Property Agents, 413-528-6800.

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        Investing in Selling: Best Renovations to Improve Home Value

        Do you want to make sure your home sells when you put it on the market? One of the best ways to guarantee success is by completing home renovation projects to increase the value of your home. As long as you focus on doing the right renovations, you can increase the likelihood that your home will sell and get much better offers from potential homebuyers. Let’s look at what the best renovations are for improving your home’s value.

        Kitchen

        When most buyers walk into a home for the first time, one of the very first things they want to see is the kitchen. Kitchens have turned into the central hubs in most American homes, so it’s important to have a kitchen that will function the way you want it to. By renovating your kitchen and updating it today, you can give buyers exactly what they want and improve your home’s value. According to Bankrate, the average kitchen remodel costs about $21,000 and has a resale value of almost $17,000. That means you will recoup about 80 percent of the money you put into a kitchen remodeling job.

        Garage

        What’s inside of your garage isn’t nearly as important as how it looks from the outside. Garages are often dirty spaces – after all, they serve as parking for your car, storage for overflow from the home, and even a workshop for many people. Buyers these days are looking for a good aesthetic, however, and a clean appearance that will boost the home’s curb appeal. If your garage door is on the older side, why not give it an upgrade? Realtor.com points out that the average garage door costs about $1,600 to install and reaps a resale value of more than $1,500. That’s a nearly 92 percent return on investment for you, and it will make your entire house look better when someone is walking up to it for the first time. If your garage needs a fresh coat of paint or residing, it’s also a good idea to take care of that as well to make your garage look its best.

        Basement

        If your basement looks dark and dingy, chances are a homebuyer isn’t going to even want to consider what it would be used for. But if your basement functions like an extension of the main part of your home, they’ll see it as an added bonus that will instantly make your home feel like it’s worth a whole lot more. Bankrate reports that the average basement renovation costs about $71,000 and has a resale value of about $50,000, which means you will recoup 70 percent of your costs. You will also wow buyers with the way your basement looks and can add livable space to the home, which is sure to dramatically increase interest and provide more versatility to your home.


        We have agents who specialize in helping home sellers. Before you decide to do a renovation to try and boost your home’s value, why not speak with someone who can tell you if it will be worth it? Berkshire Property Agents luxury and high-end properties, and we can help you get the most bang for your buck from your renovation projects. Call us at 413-528-6800 and speak with our expert Realtors about selling your home today.

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          Where To Eat, Stay, And Play In The Berkshires

          The Berkshires, a region of western Massachusetts comprised of 30 towns and two cities, sees hundreds of thousands of visitors a year, according to Lindsey Schmid, director of marketing for 1Berkshire, the regional tourism council for the area.

          Up to 80 percent of the land in the Berkshires is undeveloped, Schmid said, which means there’s plenty of nature to explore by hiking, camping, skiing, kayaking, and zip lining.

          “There’s just something about when you come here, there’s an expansive feeling,” Schmid said.

          The area is rich in cultural offerings, as well. You can hop between towns to experience shopping, farm-to-table restaurants, world-class museums, and music festivals. Tanglewood, the summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, draws more than 300,000 people each season.

          Read the full article here:

          https://www.boston.com/culture/travel/2017/03/30/where-to-eat-stay-and-play-in-the-berkshires-this-spring

           

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            Raising Rates: How It Can Affect Your Mortgage

            The Federal Reserve recently decided to raise its short-term interest rate by a quarter of a percentage point once again. While that might not seem like a big change, it could end up making an impact on those buying homes as well as for those with variable rate mortgages.

            The average interest rate on a 30-year fixed mortgage rate hit a high for 2017 shortly after the Federal Reserve’s announcement, jumping to 4.21 percent. According to CNN, that means that homebuyers will end up paying roughly $57 more per month for a mortgage right now than they would have if they obtained a mortgage one year ago when also factoring in the Fed’s last rate hike. It also means that anyone with a variable rate mortgage will see an increase in their payments in the coming months.

            The good news for everyone out there thinking about buying a home at the moment, though, is that the Federal Reserve interest rate hike did not come out of the blue. Instead, industry analysts have been predicting a jump in the interest rate for months now. Although it’s only the third time the Federal Reserve has raised rates since 2015 ended, it’s not necessarily a reason to panic. Mortgage rates are actually still very low, and real estate experts don’t think they are going to top 5 percent at any point in 2017.

            With that in mind, now is a good time for potential homebuyers to test the market and see what they can get for their money. The Federal Reserve’s decision to increase interest rates shouldn’t scare you off if you are in the market for a new home. Rather, it’s a sign of a regrowing and rebounding economy and a sign of economic confidence – a good sign for buyers, sellers and owners alike.

            Berkshire Property Agents can help you find the perfect new home in the Berkshires region. We understand the anxiety and stress that often comes along with home shopping, especially when things like interest rates become a concern. Our experts can help talk you through the process, discuss your options, discover your needs and help find properties that meet your goals and your budget. Schedule an appointment with one of our agents today by calling 413-528-6800.

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              Buying to Rent: Three Factors for Rental Property Investors to Consider

              Are you interested in purchasing a property and renting it out to make a profit every month? If so, there are some things that you should keep in mind as you shop for the perfect rental property. By carefully considering these items, you can ensure that you make a good investment and get the most from your new rental home.

              Research the Value of the Property

              One of the first things you’re obviously going to want to think about before purchasing a rental home is the value of the property. Of course, you want to be sure your property is worth the money you’re going to pay for it, but can you also rent it profitably? If you plan on purchasing a condo or home by taking out a mortgage, you’re going to want to crunch some numbers and make sure you’re going to be able to rent it out for more than your mortgage will cost every month. As Zillow points out, you’re also going to want to take real estate taxes into account and find out how much utilities will cost you on average. These are all factors that will determine how profitable your investment will be.

              Check the Condition of the Property

              If a home is in great condition and doesn’t need much work done, you don’t need to worry about this item too much. But if you walk into a potential rental property and immediately notice that you will need to do a lot of work to it, you’ll probably want to look for a different property. A little bit of work shouldn’t scare you off – after all, nearly every home can use a little TLC or improvement work. If the home has more serious problems – either obvious when viewing or after having the property inspected by a professional inspector – there’s a good chance that you’ll be pouring money into the home to get it to rentable shape, meaning more upfront expense and a longer delay before you can start making money from renters.

              Consider the Location of the Property

              Location is always important when you are purchasing property, and it’s especially important when it comes to rentals. You want to make sure your property is located in a desirable neighborhood, with access to local conveniences and amenities like shopping, entertainment and transit. You also need to think about your property in a long-term view – do you think the neighborhood will still be popular in five or 10 years, or are nearby commercial developments or industrial projects impeding on the peace and quiet – and desirability – of the location. If you aren’t completely sold on the location, prospective renters are likely to balk as well, so you should steer clear of committing to purchase that property.

              These are just a few of the things that you will need to consider before purchasing a rental property, but there are many other factors to think about as well. The team at Berkshire Property Agents can help you find the right rental property, meeting your budget and your needs and working to find the most appealing neighborhoods for attracting tenants. Call us at 413-528-6800 today to start the search for your rental property.

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