Posted by Marie Presti on 10/15/2017

Since home values are continually on the rise, it makes more sense for many Americans to tap into their home equity for financial security. The home equity line of credit is a great resource that has come back with many benefits. You can finance so many things from home improvement projects to the vacation you have always wanted with a reverse mortgage. There are consequences if you don’t turn to home equity with careful thought. You could end up owing more than your home is even worth at a certain point. That’s not giving you any value. 

Smart Financial Moves

Tapping into a home equity line of credit could be a smart financial move. If you use little to none of the money it can be wise to have extra cash on hand for emergencies, considering rates are so low for home loans. It can help you to be prepared for unexpected financial setbacks. The key is to not use the money unless it’s absolutely necessary.

Good Ideas For Home Equity

  • Emergency fund
  • Home renovations
  • Education funds (if you’ll be able to pay it back in a timely manner)

Bad Ideas For Home Equity

  • Vacations
  • Car purchase
  • Random spending

If you’re expecting an increase in income and need some extra cash on hand for a purpose, using a home equity line of credit can be a good resource. Also, if you’re selling your home soon, tapping into home equity for improvement projects can help to give you a better return on the sale. 

Home Equity Is Not An Unlimited Source Of Funds

Home values can change drastically with the market and the amount of demand. The amount of equity you may have can change as well, and your repayment amounts can vary drastically based on the state of the housing market. While tapping into home equity will most likely put you in the positive, you could end up in the negative if you’re not carefully prepared.

The Ways To Draw On Your Home Equity

There are 3 main ways to draw on your home’s equity. In any of these cases, you cannot borrow more than 80% of your home’s value from any lender. 

Cash-out Refinance

This loan is exactly as it sounds; you take a set mount of cash out from your home and refinance it at the same time. 


Home Equity Loan

This is a loan that is sometimes referred to a second mortgage. This usually has a fixed rate. 

Home Equity Line Of Credit

This loan is like using a credit card. There’s a maximum that you can borrow, and you use money as you need it. After a certain amount of time, you can no longer draw on the money.  

Refinancing your home will extend the life of your mortgage. You’ll have higher costs but end up with lower rates most often.

Questions To Consider When Thinking Of A Home Equity Line Of Credit

  • Does your home need renovations?
  • Is the loan rate lower than other types of loans like car loans?
  • Do you need to consolidate your debt?
  • Are you facing large bills like medical bills or college tuition? 
  • Are you starting a business?

Used in smart ways, home equity can be a great financial resource for you. Consider your options and plan your finances wisely. Your home is in fact your biggest asset! 

Posted by Marie Presti on 10/9/2017


 Zillow has been testing the market out with a program called Instant Offers, which some of you may have heard of by now. Zillow is claiming this program is a quick way for someone to sell their house to investors — all with no prep, no waiting, and no uncertainty. It sounds too good to be true, doesn’t it? So I looked into it, and there are pitfalls.

This program is not available in all markets yet, but I found out that Instant Offer only showcases real offers, if a large Zillow investor is ready to buy the home and not an actual person who would live there. There are many other things you must understand before you determine if this service is right for you. The price the investors will offer you is based on the data that Zillow has on record. This data usually comes from the assessor's office of your local municipality. Most of the time, this information is right, but many times it’s not. In fact, in the past year, I’ve had only one out of eight properties listed accurately on the site. Either the lot size or the square footage was wrong. Or there were too many or too few bathrooms. In several cases, important features, like a garage, fireplace, and central air were not listed. Of course, these missing elements will sway investors’ offers. The bottom line: Make sure you know the real market value of your home before you consider selling.

Investors scouring Zillow’s site will also look at a ‘zestimate’ before making their offer. According to Zillow, the Boston market ‘zestimate’ has a median error percentage of 6.1 percent.  Let's look at the month of August, as the most recent example of updated figures. According to the Greater Boston Association of Realtors,® the median sale price of a single-family home (in their jurisdiction) during that month was $610,000. That equates to a potential error of $37,210. Few of us can afford that kind of mistake!  

In The Presti Group’s market, Newton, Mass., the error rate is even higher.The year-to-date median sale price of a single-family home there is $1,295,000. With the Zillow error rate of 6.1 percent, the zestimate could be potentially off by $79,000. Maybe even more. Illustrating this point, one of our most recent listings was priced at $749,900. Zillow’s ‘zestimate’ listed the property at $802,000. I knew this was too high a price, as the house was in rough shape. We worked with the seller to fix up the place a bit, staged it, took professional photos, and executed quite a bit of online marketing. As a result, we got substantial traffic into the house in just its first week on the market. We received six offers and the house sold for $100K more than the original listing. Had the owners accepted an Instant Offer on Zillow, they would have washed at least $50,000 down the drain, because of the condition the property was in to start with. By using a Realtor®, they were able to use the complete services provided by The Presti Group to put the seller in the catbird’s seat.

While Zillow can give you a general idea of what's out there, it doesn't know the local market conditions, the property, neighborhood, or features of the house.  And it can’t help you decide to target a large investor or a first-time homebuyer. Or negotiate and advocate on your behalf. Most importantly, “Instant Offer” buyers may try to rent it out or fix it up and flip it for a profit. So they may not even live in the house and care for it the way that you did.

So when all is said and done, whom would you trust with one of the most important assets in your life? A national website that uses algorithms to compute a home’s value? Or a local real estate pro who knows the insides and outsides of the market and has the negotiating chops to get you the best price? I know what I would do. But whatever method you choose, don’t sell yourself short.

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Posted by Marie Presti on 10/8/2017

As you may have noticed, your family's grocery bill accounts for a big chunk of your monthly household budget. Fortunately, there are many ways to prevent your food bill from spiraling out of control! Some money-saving strategies are obvious, such as using discount coupons and not shopping when you're hungry, while others are not as widely known.

If you habitually buy more expensive name-brand products without having a specific reason for doing so, it might pay to experiment with generic or store-brand grocery items. When you compare the prices, the savings can really add up! In some cases, there is a noticeable difference in quality, but in countless other instances, the store-brand products are on par with the well-known name brands.

One question to ask yourself is this: "Why pay substantially more for name-brand products when all you're really doing is helping huge corporations pay for their immense advertising budgets?" Your challenge -- and this can be worth the effort -- is to determine which store-brand products are comparable in quality and which ones are not worth the savings. In many cases, the difference in quality is negligible (or non existent), but the total savings from comparing prices can easily add up to $5 or $10 per shopping trip -- and who amongst us would voluntarily throw away a ten-dollar bill every time we went grocery shopping!

It's also interesting to note that many supermarkets tend to stock their more expensive products at eye level. By shifting your glance to the higher or lower shelves at the store, you can often spot money-saving bargains that would have otherwise escaped your notice. While you're at it, it also pays to check out the expiration date on products so you don't end up wasting money on items that have been sitting around for a while. A big frustration that we've all experienced is getting home and realizing that a perishable item we picked up at the grocery store expires tomorrow -- or even worse, yesterday!

Here's a money-saving tip that not everybody thinks of: If an advertised sale item has been sold out, you can often get a "rain check" issued to you, which will entitle you to the discount price -- even after the sale is officially over. You may have to get it from the customer service desk or a manager, but if you're determined to be a savvy grocery shopper, it's worth the extra few minutes.

One of the easiest, most automatic ways to save money at the food store is to join your supermarket's "loyalty program". It goes by different names at different places, but once you sign up, the discounts, coupons, and special offers keep coming your way! Taking a few minutes to glance over your grocery store's weekly newspaper insert can also point you in the direction of worthwhile savings opportunities.

Posted by Marie Presti on 9/24/2017

Homeowners have become increasingly aware of the dangers that face them and their homes. More Americans than ever lock their doors at night and own home security systems to protect themselves and their homes from intruders.

However, one danger that many homeowners aren’t prepared for is posed by scammers. These scammers are innovative and use tools like the internet and the semblance of authority to their advantage. What’s more, the nature of their scams is always evolving.

In this article, we’ll cover some of the most common scams affecting homeowners. We’ll talk about how to protect yourself from these scams and recognize them so that you and your home can avoid potential disaster.

Foreclosure scams

There are few things more concerning to a homeowner than the thought of losing their home. Scammers take advantage of these fears by promoting “relief programs” that promise to reduce your monthly payments or otherwise protect you from being foreclosed on.

The scam here is that these companies might not help you at all but will still charge for their services. They’ll often browse public foreclosure notices or post ads online. When they reach out to a homeowner they’ll do so via a letter that seems personal and professional. They could also call your phone or send you an email offer.

By U.S. law, such companies cannot charge you for any services unless they successfully help you gain relief from your lender, and even then you must still accept the offer before the relief company can ever charge you.

Home maintenance and repair

One of the more dangerous scams on our list involves something seemingly innocent--a knock on your door to let you know your roof needs repair. While some startup companies may go door-to-door offering their services, most of the time this should send up a red flag. There are a few potential scams that come in the form of a person in work uniform knocking on your door.

First, a company might be selling real services, but they could be services you don’t need. Make sure you understand facts about your home, such as the last time your roof was repaired. This will help you avoid making a bad deal to replace something that doesn’t need replacing.

Also be sure to never let someone into your home, regardless of their uniform, if you are alone or it’s late at night. Someone may be dressed like a salesperson or utility worker, but they could in reality be doing research on your home and your valuables. Would-be burglars can often spot your valuables, and see how secure your home is before coming back when no one is home.

Protect your identity

The issue of identity theft has been in the public eye with the rise of online communications. However, one of the easiest ways to steal your valuable information could be sitting right in your mailbox or in your garbage can.

Always be sure to shred papers that have personal information on them. And, if you go away on vacation, ask a neighbor or relative to bring in your mail for you. Not only will this help keep your identity safe, but it will make it look like someone is at home by keeping the pile of mail and newspapers outside low.  

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Posted by Marie Presti on 9/21/2017

Want great schools that are close to Boston but with the feel of the burbs? Quiet and private cul de sac location for this gorgeous Newton Centre 3br side entrance Colonial. Light filled open layout with updated kitchen and family bath with hydro therapy tub. Family Room on the first floor. Walk out to a large multilevel deck onto a professionally landscaped yard. Upstairs offers 2 large bedrooms and a home office and sitting area. Top floor 3rd bedroom has endless possibilities. 1 car detached garage could be used for multiple purposes with french doors on the side. Walk to Bulloughs Pond, Crystal Lake, BC Law, public schools, Newtonville and Newton Centre shopping areas, houses of worship, bus and commuter train to Boston. 5 minute drive to the Mass Pike for driving into the city or out to Western Mass.

More Info on this Property | New Listing Alerts

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