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Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Foreclosure IS Avoidable

It’s a sign of the times! Most of us grew up thinking that if we planned well and played by the rules, we’d never have to stand by as our financial lives unraveled.

But upheaval on Wall Street, unacceptable rates of unemployment and plummeting real estate values have taken their toll. Since 2007, 7.9 million homeowners have lost their homes to foreclosure. Current estimates are that one in four homeowners owe more on their mortgages than they could get from the sale of their home. Millions more homes will be lost to foreclosure before this real estate crisis runs its course.

The sad fact is that foreclosure is not an isolated event. For months leading up to the loss of a home, financially strapped homeowners live under a cloud of uncertainty. And then for many years afterwards, the blow to credit gets in the way of buying another home or buying anything on credit. Foreclosure even complicates employment prospects.

The impact of foreclosure is huge and the sad fact is that it’s often avoidable. As a real estate professional who has earned the Certified Distressed Property Expert (CDPE) designation, my mission is to provide financially strapped homeowners with options to foreclosure, ensure that they steer clear of scams, and help navigate them through the solution that best meets their needs.

Among the most important facts to keep in mind: the sooner help is sought, the better the options.

These are tough times, but more help is available than ever before. If you or someone you care about is ready to navigate away from the dark cloud of an unmanageable mortgage and realize that hope and blue skies are within reach, contact me today and let’s get started.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Won't You Be My Neighbor?

As a member of your community, there are many ways to connect with your neighbors and add value to your neighborhood. A neighborhood can be every bit as important as the dwelling itself. In a recent poll, 64% of the individuals cited quality of the neighborhood as the most valued components when buying a home. Unfortunately, you can’t test drive your neighborhood but you can do a little homework to get closer to your ideal.

I can tell you that I have experienced the good and bad neighbor situation. The bad can be a bit tough to get over with their loud cars coming in and out until the wee hours, yelling and unkempt yards to not shoveling snow from their sidewalk which just happens to span about 100 feet. (Shudder) It definitely adds stress to the living situation. I want to help you navigate towards the good and make an educated decision in your quest for home ownership.

The top 4 influences in selecting a home are:

1. Convenience to job

2. Overall affordability

3. Quality of the School District (In Glastonbury I believe this one is higher on the list. Many families flock to Glastonbury just for the award-winning schools).

4. Convenience to family & friends.

Location! Location! Location!

Remember that you will never be able to uproot the house and move it so choose an area that you can see yourself planting roots for the next 5 years. Here are some of my tips for researching the town you’d like to live in:

1. Walk the Neighborhood: Is it kid friendly, quiet, loud, dog friendly, are there sidewalks, block parties, and do the other homes have curb appeal too?

2. Nearby Amenities: Here in Glastonbury, there are so many great things to do, places to see, including many farms for berry and apple picking, great restaurants, shopping like Somerset Square, an array of activities through the parks & recreation dept., a dog park, skateboard park and just strolling or biking down Historic Main Street.

3. Check with Planning & Zoning to see if adjacent lots to the one you’re considering are town owned or are there future plans to build. You don’t want any bad surprises.

4. Connect with the area because it’s never just about the house. You want to make connections with the people around you to make an easy transition into the neighborhood.

For this and other helpful real estate information, please like my page and subscribe.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Apple Harvest Festival

Everyone in Glastonbury looks forward to the 2012 Apple Harvest Festival.

Click HERE for more information. I look forward to seeing you all there!

Monday, October 1, 2012

Short Sale Hardships

Short Sale Hardships There are so many ways that financial hardships can lead a homeowner to fall behind in making their monthly mortgage payments on time. A job loss, divorce, medical bills, reduced work hours, death and adjustable mortgages with a high rate are examples of how homeowners can become distressed in today’s volatile economy.

Every state and bank has a different process but with experience comes knowledge. As a central Connecticut licensed Realtor who believes in constantly educating myself, I have learned a variety of ways to help distressed homeowners.

If you’re experiencing any kind of financial crisis and have fallen behind in your mortgage payments, the feeling that there is no other option but to lose your home can be overwhelming.

What you need now is help: guidance from a central Connecticut real estate professional who understands the process and the difficult choices you’re facing. You do not have to go it alone. There are solutions and there is help. Patience is key but time is of the essence. The worst thing you can do is to stick your head in the sand and wait for that foreclosure notice or go into complete denial. Take Action!

As a Certified Distressed Property Expert –CDPE, I specialize in helping homeowners in the central Connecticut area avoid foreclosure and I can provide you with information on the alternatives. I will explain the effects that foreclosure can have on your credit and offer other options that may be available to you such as a short sale.

The time to seek help is now and I’m here for you. Your next steps are simple. Contact me today and I will speak with you regarding your unique situation and how best to save your home from foreclosure. I can provide you with a seller checklist of information I need to help you navigate the process and negotiate with the bank to lessen the long term consequences that come with a distressed property.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Buying a Foreclosure

Buying a Foreclosure:

If you’re on a strict budget or looking out for a good investment property, foreclosed homes can be an appealing choice. But, there are a few steps you can take to protect the investment and avoid future issues.

1. View the Home in Person: Take a close look and take a tally of how much you will need to spend on improvements. The landscape and outward appearance is a telltale sign of how long the house has been vacant.

2. Winter Vacancy: If the house has been vacant during the winter months, ensure that it’s been winterized to avoid tens of thousands in plumbing repairs.

3. Neighborhood Walk: Walk around the neighborhood to determine its “health”. If you’re planning on flipping it, do their homework by looking for a safe established or “up & coming” neighborhood with similar homes on the street in well kept condition.

4. Hire an Inspector: An inspector who is looking out for your interests has a trained eye which can point out latent defects not visible to the naked eye. I would strongly suggest a termite inspection as well. The inspector’s charge of about $400-500. is well worth the cost as knowledge is power. It could save you thousands in the short term.

5. Realtor on Your Side: If you have your trusted realtor by your side, she can provide you with an up to date market analysis. Having local market data in hand should help you make an informed decision.

Go into buying a foreclosure with your eyes wide open.

For this and any other helpful real estate information, please subscribe to my blog.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Appraisal FEVER

Appraisal Fever: It’s what happens when you are waiting on the home appraisal with knots in your stomach seeing if what you offered to pay is really what its worth.

Listen, we’ve all gone through it in this down economy. We negotiate a deal and literally sit on pins and needles waiting on that email from the bank’s appraiser. Did the house make the cut? Did we pay too much? Is this deal going to fall through? And then it comes: You either get the bomb email that tells you it appraised for about $10-15k less than the purchase price or you get the green light. Everyone hopes for that green light.

When the bomb drops, nobody is happy. The seller gets angry and defensive, the buyer gets scared and the realtor is left trying to iron both sides out.

But today, I got the green light and I’m feeling pretty good. I did a lot a research for my buyers before submitting that offer which involved researching about 20 closed properties, FSBO transactions, price per square foot and quality of construction. After all of that work, I felt pretty confident that this would appraise at the purchase price. I even called a local appraiser and went over the numbers of the last 3 homes to close on that street to verify my number. He agreed and so we went in strong writing up the contract.

The point is you never know what that bank appraiser is going to bring to the table. He could be coming from NY or Southern CT which is a totally different ball game. He could have had a bad day where he was just told by his boss that he’d better be more conservative to protect the bank’s interests or his job is on the line. He could be a SHE who had two write-ups for over-inflating value or she never even went to the town hall to do her research (like all appraisers are supposed to do). It’s a mixed bag and you just hope for the best.

For today, the appraisal fever has passed and I look to moving forward and getting my buyers to the closing table and into their new home. After all, it’s all about them and I can’t help feel a sense of pride for a job well done.

For other real estate information and to start your house hunt, please visit

Monday, June 4, 2012

How does your town stack up?

Curious about your CT town's real estate stats? So much information in one little e-flip book. Even has the average SAT scores. You want info? We've got it @ Coldwell Banker!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Rural Housing Loan Program

Do you need room to roam? If you love the country as much as I do, there is a loan program that may appeal to you. It’s called the Rural Housing Loan Program and it offers 100% financing!!!

If you qualify, you can obtain a government insured mortgage on the home of your dreams with land to spare. The program is popular for many reasons as it can save you a considerable amount each month and does not require you to be a first time homebuyer. Certain towns qualify so if you’d like to learn more about which towns support this program, please call or email me directly.

USDA Home loans provide a low-cost insured home mortgage loan that suits a variety of options. To be eligible in CT, your monthly housing costs (mortgage principle and interest, property taxes, and insurance) must meet a percentage of your gross monthly income. (29%)

Your credit score doesn’t need to be that high either. A 620 FICO credit score should be sufficient to obtain a USDA loan. Your total household monthly income must be within the allowed income limits for your area. There are also no maximum loan amounts or reserve requirements. That means that if you’ve been dreaming of that horse property or not being able to hear your neighbors and their teenage son’s cars driving up and down the street in the middle of the night, this could be your ticket to paradise!

Many times with these programs, you can also negotiate with the sellers to help you with up to 4% of your closing costs. There is no down payment required as well as no private mortgage insurance. That is a huge relief to prospective buyers that are concerned with the exorbitant costs of PMI (Private Mortgage Insurance). Many times, banks require a certain amount of financial reserves in the bank and with this program it’s just not the case. It’s a wonderful program that is helping buyers get into a home with little money out of their pockets.

For more information about Rural loans and any other helpful real estate information, please visit my website at

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Curb Appeal When Selling Your Home

Kitchen Cabinets? Is it time for a facelift?

Your kitchen cabinets: Is it time for a facelift? Update your cabinets with a facelift instead of a transplant. If you’re looking for a home makeover that will give you the most bang for your buck, look no further. Cabinet refacing offers less expense, mess and waiting time. It will transform your kitchen and adds value to your home with instant beauty. You can choose from a variety of styles and materials to reach the desired look you’re shooting for. Are you debating between new cabinet doors and refacing your worn, old cabinets? Are your current cabinets damaged or falling off the hinges? Often, homeowners purchase new cabinets when they are unsatisfied with the function and layout of their current cabinets.

While the outside of your cabinets are scratched and scuffed, the insides may be good as new. It would be difficult and expensive to replace old cabinets with new models of equal quality. Older cabinets were built with greater care and better materials than the mass produced cabinets of today. The 80’s was not a good decade for quality of cabinetry. There were a lot of flimsy oak doors installed. Those do not make sense to keep as the interior of many of those cabinets are particle board. Homeowners can take their time choosing a design and layout that best suits their lifestyle.

For budget conscious homeowners, refacing is an affordable project. It can save thousands of dollars in labor and material over what it would cost to install entirely new cabinetry. A wood refacing job is typically about 50% less than it would be to replace the entire kitchen with high end cabinets. In your average kitchen, a refacing job would cost anywhere from $3500-$7000, depending on the materials used. Typically, installers charge an average of $75. per linear foot to install new cabinetry. That means that if you have about 50 linear ft. of cabinetry (12x14 kitchens) you would be paying out $3,825 in installation costs alone! That doesn’t include the costs for retiling or patching areas where cabinets fail to line up with the existing footprint.

The best and most expensive of the materials is real wood. They put solid wood door & drawer fronts and wood veneers on the sides and front. Refacing will replace the cabinet doors and drawer fronts with new ones and the rest will be refaced to match your new doors. Unless your budget is constrained, it is usually best to use real wood for refacing. Affordability is one of the biggest reasons many homeowners choose refacing over replacement cabinets. This is the best solution for cabinets that still have life left in them, are useful but have an outdated appearance. This does not change the design of the kitchen cabinets and what you end up with may be beyond your expectations. You may be impressed by your kitchen that now looks new and fresh.

Buyers love to walk into a kitchen that has been nicely updated as that is one less thing on their “To Do” list and keeps more money in their wallets. Refacing is one of the best ways to increase a home’s resale value of more moderately priced homes in the region and across the country. For this and other helpful real estate information, please contact me at I’m happy to help you with your house hunt.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Glastonbury Full Day Kindergarten...Worth the Wait!

Glastonbury Full Day Kindergarten….Worth the Wait.
After much research and input from both the parents and education council, Glastonbury has decided to offer full day K for all students.  This is effective for the 2012 school year.  Parents are shouting from the rooftops, “It’s about time”!  Our schools have come such a long way in regards to technology; why not adapt a program more conducive to our children learning more?  I don’t see how our K students in Glastonbury can learn all that much in two hours.  It puts unnecessary time constraints on our teachers.  Once everyone gets settled, has reading time and some social play, it’s back on the school bus for them.  A full day enriches their learning and allows them to get a jump start on reading skills. 
Currently, 56% of Connecticut school systems offer full day kindergarten to students.  The overall budgeted costs to add the full day option is $490,000.  Ouch!  That’s going to hurt us in our taxpaying wallets.  Apparently the costs will be offset by some moving and shifting of teachers due to a reduced elementary enrollment in recent years.  Class sizes will remain the same and each school does have enough room to justify additional classrooms.
Glastonbury has 6 Elementary schools: Hebron Avenue, Eastbury, Hopewell, Naubuc, Buttonball and the newest addition: Nayaug.  The fact that the schools are considered some of the best in Hartford County doesn’t hurt.  There is a real sense of community here; somewhere that you want to move and never leave.  Even though my youngest will be moving on to first grade this year and it won’t affect us, I’m happy for all the families out there that it will help.  Think of the many that pay for full time daycare.  Instantly, they’ll save thousands.  In this day and age of intense school competition, it helps to know your child will most likely leave with a positive experience and a level 2 reading book in their backpack. 

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

The Glastonbury HouseHunter: Glastonbury Homes:  Less is MoreIn Glastonbury, le...

The Glastonbury HouseHunter: Glastonbury Homes: Less is MoreIn Glastonbury, le...: Glastonbury Homes: Less is More In Glastonbury, less is more. You may be buying for the first time, downsizing or simply looking for ...
Glastonbury Homes:  Less is More
In Glastonbury, less is more.  You may be buying for the first time, downsizing or simply looking for a reasonably priced home in a great neighborhood.  What you will get in Glastonbury for the money may surprise you.  Maybe not.  The average price per square foot is around $159.  What you WILL get is loads of amenities for your dollar.   Glastonbury boasts great parks, beautiful orchards, horse farms and golf country clubs.  All of this does come at a price:  Expect to pay higher taxes as the mill rate is 29.65 %.  Meaning, if you love a home that’s priced at $350k, your taxes will be about $6,500. 
Believe it or not, you can live a happy life in a 2,000 square foot house.  I’m living proof.  We utilize every room, have less clutter and can maintain it ourselves.  No landscapers, no maid service equals even more money saved.   I enjoy hearing my children playing in the next room.  I like hearing my son practice piano while I make dinner.  It works for us. 
Small house?  No problem.  The most charming home I’ve ever visited in town was the home of a friend and was about 1200 sq. ft. but filled with warmth & style.  When I take buyers out, especially first time buyers, I try and remind them to focus on the mechanicals and big ticket items that affect a home’s efficiency.  Does the house have an updated furnace, newer central air, has the roof been replaced and most of all, are there quality replacement windows?  All of these factors are important to your bottom line….your wallet.
The McMansion has been shrinking since the peak in 2006 when the median plan for a new home was 2,259 square feet.  By 2009, it decreased again to 2,103 square feet.  People often get caught up in the glitz and glamour of a large show home but don’t utilize the space.  Do you really want to shell out big money every month just to heat your home? 
 In this time of energy efficiency and the green movement, let’s focus on living in a home that matches that mantra.  Energy efficiency is a hot trend that I hope continues, both here in Glastonbury and across the nation. 
People are coming to realize, not soon enough, let’s buy just what we need. 
Check out the book, “The Not So Big House” by Sarah Susanka to learn more about enjoying a smaller, more manageable home. 
For this and other helpful real estate information, please visit my website at

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Love It or List It!

Should I stay or should I go now?  Well, it really depends on your personal situation.
Sooner or later, we homeowners must decide if it makes more sense to remodel or move.  This decision is not easily made as it can have enormous financial and emotional impact.
As an experienced realtor, I can personally guide you through what renovations both small and large will give you the most bang for your buck.  It’s up to you to decide what you are willing to do or pay someone else to in order to increase your bottom line.  Look at your house objectively and think about your future plans.  How long do you plan to keep the house? 24 months? 5 years? 10 years?  Time makes a difference on how much you will want to spend and what cosmetic and/or structural changes you make. 
There is no “Perfect” home.  Everyone wants to change some small or large features of their homes.  That’s what keeps Lowes and Home Depot in business.  We are constantly changing, and our tastes have evolved over the years.  If you’re happy with your neighbors and location, it may make sense for you to make adjustments to your current home.  You never know what you’re going to get on the other side of the fence when you move.  Homeowners who love their homes, neighbors and communities most often remodel because they already have most everything they want-except for some feature like a patio, master suite or updated kitchen or bath.  Despite the current home improvement boom, remodeling isn’t for everyone, especially not the faint of heart.  First of all, not every renovation is worth the time, money or effort. 
Remodeling a ten year old kitchen because you just don’t like it anymore doesn’t pay.  But if you are replacing a 1970’s kitchen, that’s a different story.  The secret to successful pre-sale remodeling is to keep up with the Jones’, but never surpass them.  The main things to keep in mind when remodeling are to keep it neutral, clean and classic.  Nine times out of ten you will recoup your money.  One main advantage of remodeling is that you only need to change one or two things to suit your needs. 
My Top 5 “Bang for Your Buck” Renovations:
  1.  Bathroom renovations:  A typical half bath will range about $1500. Including materials and labor.  Think vanity, toilet, painting and light fixtures.
  2. Replacing kitchen countertops with granite slab:  My 51 linear foot counters were replaced by E.W. Granite in Farmington for only $4,000. Great deal, huge improvement!
  3. Take down the wallpaper please!  I see a lot of homes and I’ve never had buyers claim they liked the wallpaper in a seller’s home.  It’s a very personal choice and most buyers don’t want to spend their next few weekends taking down outdated nautical or floral paper.  It’s a hassle buyers try and avoid and it turns them off immediately. 
  4. Replace Light Fixtures:  In the entryway, kitchen & bathrooms, replacing overhead light fixtures provides a lot of pop for a little money.  Brass fixtures are out, dark metals and brushed nickel is in.  Enough said!
  5. Paint to your heart’s content:  Finish the walls with neutral paint.  In my experience, buyers gravitate more to warm colors rather than the standard: painters white.  A warm yellow or light coffee color is much more inviting and is so inexpensive & rewarding if you can do it yourself.    
Home improvements aren’t purely investment decisions:  you shouldn’t redo a kitchen or bathroom in hopes of making a profit.  But if you want to upgrade your quality of home life and can afford its money well spent.
Regardless which path you choose, call or email me for a consultation.  I will help you evaluate your home’s current market value and you can make an educated decision if remodeling or moving makes sense for you. 
For this and other helpful real estate information, please visit my website at