Joseph Federico - Donahue Real Estate Company | Dedham, MA Real Estate, Canton, MA Real Estate


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Your FICO score is a key factor used to determine if you qualify for a mortgage. The Fair Isaac Corporation (FICO) is the creator of the most common credit score used by home loan providers. The algorithm used to create your score is a closely-guarded industry secret. But in general, it factors in your payment history, debt burden, length of credit history, and recent applications for credit. Your FICO score is powerful but there are things it cannot account for.

It does not indicate how much you can afford.

It does not reveal how much you have saved up for a down payment.

It does not understand your ability to budget.

It does not display your current bank account balances.

What does it do?

Your FICO score tells you (and your potential lender) how you have handled credit over the length of your credit history. Scores range from 300 (poor) to 850 (excellent). The primary factors that can hurt your credit score are late-payments and the debt-to-credit ratio.

Late Payments

Make your payments on-time every month especially if you are hoping to secure a mortgage. The more on-time payments you have the better your score will be. In some cases, on-time payments can dilute the impact of late-payments in your credit history. Newer incidences can be more detrimental to your score than older late-payments. Payments that are received 60, 90, or 120 days late count more against you than those that are late by over 30 days.

Credit Utilization

The total amount you owe is a consideration but the relationship between how much you owe and the credit available to you weighs more heavily when it comes to determining your FICO score. Another term for this is your credit utilization. Your debt-to-credit ratio is a measure of how much of your available credit you are using within a 30-day window. The higher the ratio of debt compared to available credit, the more likely you are to have a lower FICO score.

For instance, let’s say you and your partner both owe $1000 on credit cards. Your available credit is $1500, making your credit utilization two-thirds or 66 percent of your available credit. Your partner’s available credit is $4000, making their credit utilization 25 percent of their available credit. If all other factors are equal, your partner’s FICO score will appear higher. 

Ask your real estate professional for recommended financial resources in your area.


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The right home security system can make a profound difference for your peace of mind and make your home an unappealing target -- but do you have to go with a conventional (and expensive) alarm service? In the past, homeowners had few choices, but now, if you own a home and like to DIY you have more options than ever before when it comes to home security. Is a DIY home security system right for you -- or are you better off with the traditional model? Consider these factors as you determine the best way to protect your home. 

DIY vs. Conventional Alarm Services

While the installation and monitoring may differ, both DIY and conventional systems share some factors; both offer wireless connections and monitoring points, both improve the overall security of your home and both can be installed in a day or less. The differences lie in the overall cost, commitment and approach to monitoring. 

A DIY Alarm Service is Right for You If: 

You are handy: If you can do basic home repairs and set up your DVD player or smart-home technology, you have the skills needed to install a DIY alarm system. Alarms used to be very complex and require electrical knowledge. Today's systems are fast and easy to install with the tools you probably have on hand. 

You're wary of contracts: One of the primary consumer complaints about alarm companies in general involves not service, but contracts. Being locked in for a long period of time takes away some of your flexibility. If you move and you have a monitoring contract, you either have to pay to have your system relocated or continue paying for a service you no longer use. Since DIY systems don't require equipment rental or contracts, they are more flexible and forgiving. 

You're on a budget: When you work with a DIY brand, you can buy just what you need, and you'll spend less on equipment and installation. A national brand will charge you for equipment, installation and even ongoing protection fees, making them a more expensive option. 

Since the actual monthly service is very similar, most families benefit from opting for DIY systems. There are a few exceptions. If you have a very large home with many entry points, are unable to do the work needed to install the system or you need more monitoring features, then a traditional system might work. Seniors with limited mobility may have more needs than a growing family or a single individual, and may prefer the all-in-one service offered by a conventional brand. Anyone else can benefit from the low costs and convenience of DIY security systems. 

Reviewing your options allows you to choose the best possible alarm service for your home and family -- and the one that has the perfect balance of cost, commitment and coverage to protect your home. 


Let's face it – clutter can be a problem, particularly for those who intend to sell a home in the foreseeable future. But if you allocate time and resources to remove clutter from your home now, you may reap the benefits of your efforts during the home selling cycle.

Ultimately, there are many reasons for a home seller to eliminate clutter before he or she lists a residence, and these include:

1. You can help a homebuyer envision what life may be like as the owner of your house.

Oftentimes, homebuyers want to picture what life may be like if they purchase a particular residence. Yet a home that is filled with antiques, decorations and other items may make it tough for a homebuyer to do just that.

If you remove clutter from your residence, however, you can make it simple for a buyer to see your home's full potential. As a result, a buyer may be better equipped than ever before to determine whether your residence is the right choice.

2. You can earn extra cash.

Although your house may be loaded with a wide range of personal belongings, you don't necessarily have to throw these items away. In fact, you can always sell excess items to simultaneously remove clutter from your house and earn extra cash.

It may be a good idea to host a yard sale before you list your house. This will enable you to sell excess items as well as inform neighbors about your upcoming plans to add your residence to the real estate market.

Of course, you can sell excess items online as well. Or, you may be able to donate assorted items to local charities.

3. You may speed up the home selling process.

The home selling process may prove to be long and complicated, especially if a house is overloaded with clutter. Thankfully, removing clutter may make it easy for you to stir up lots of interest from potential buyers as soon as your residence becomes available.

A clutter-free residence is more likely to be clean and tidy in comparison to other houses. Thus, when buyers enter a clutter-free residence for the first time, they may fall in love with this house right away. And if a clutter-free home makes a positive first impression on a buyer, a seller soon may receive a competitive offer to purchase his or her house.

If you're searching for help as you try to remove clutter from your residence, you may want to hire a real estate agent. This housing market professional can offer plenty of assistance throughout the home selling journey.

Typically, a real estate agent will help you list your house and promote it to potential buyers. Plus, if you need help as you get your home ready for the housing market, a real estate agent will make it simple to prepare your residence and ensure it makes a positive impression on buyers.

Eliminate clutter from your house, and you may increase the likelihood of a fast, profitable home selling experience.


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Buying property can be fun, but it can also be exhausting. You want to find a place that fits your personal lifestyle and invest in a home that'll bring you years of happiness. As you're looking at shorefront real estate:

1. Understand Your Access Rights to the Water

On the surface, it may look like a no-brainer that you have access to the water, but many people learn the hard way that their beautiful waterfront views don't have easements that allow access to the lake, pond, or ocean. Most people don't want a beautiful view of the water without being able to use it.

2. Know Your Waterfront Buffer Zones

State and local regulations may prohibit your landscaping plans from making forward progress if you're too close to tidal waters. Know the buffer zones before you buy so you're not stuck with a landscape you don't love.

3. Learn Your Littoral Rights

If you purchase waterfront real estate, you may very well be granted littoral rights—that is, you'd have unrestricted rights to use that water as though it was land. The government may also own the water up to a certain point, so it's best to gain this knowledge up front.

4. Know if You have Riparian Rights

If you purchase a non-riparian waterfront property, you likely won't be able to have a private dock or pier on the water. Since this is one of the major reasons people want to own waterfront property, it's important to understand these rights before you buy.

5. Understand Your Obligations Regarding Water Depth

You don't have any control over Mother Nature, but you do often have certain obligations in terms of what you're permitted to do in certain water depths. You may need to build a deck farther out into the water than you'd first anticipated in order adhere to depth regulations.

6. Look at the Fixtures Surrounding the Property

Certain watercraft, such as sailboats, need far more clearance than others. If your potential property is directly next to fixed-height bridges that wouldn't enable you to enjoy leisure time on your sailboat, that may not be the best home for you. Alternatively, people who enjoy kayaking wouldn't need to be concerned with fixed-height structures. In fact, those areas might be best for this type of buyer.

7. Research Regulations Impacting Docks and Piers

It's not atypical to have to purchase pier permits. Depending on your location, these regulations may be governed by federal, state, or local institutions. It's best to have an idea of the cost before you get your heart set on a single property.

8. Include Flood Insurance in Your Monthly Costs

Natural disasters can bolster the cost of flood insurance. Even if you think you'll never need it, a waterfront property is always best protected when flood insurance is calculated into the cost.

9. Know How Secluded You Really Want to Be

Waterfront real estate is appealing because it's quiet and serene, but if this will be your year-round residence, make sure you've taken winter into consideration if you're looking for lakefront property where snowfall can change the landscape quickly. Super-secluded spots can make it difficult to get to the store when blizzards hit, so you may want to look for a place that has easy access to shopping. However, if you're willing to rough it, or if you'll only be using the property in the summer, seclusion is a great way to go! Of course, if you're looking for beachfront property in Florida, parts of California or the Carolinas, winters won't really be a concern you'll have to worry about.

10. Explore the Pros and Cons of Private Beaches Versus Public Shores

There are pros and cons to each. Make sure you have an idea what you're looking for before you and your real estate agent start house-hunting, but be open to possibilities if your real estate agent has a property they insist you must see.

As you're shopping for waterfront real estate, be sure to keep these tips in mind. The more you know, the more likely you'll be to find a home that makes you happy for many years to come. Contact me if you have questions about buying waterfront property!


Chimney maintenance and repair is incredibly important. You need to complete certain tasks to ensure that your fireplace is working safely and effectively. There’s no better time than the off season to get these tasks in order. 


Remember that you should only burn dry wood in your fireplace. Although fireplaces aren’t high on the technology spectrum, they do require some effort to keep in working order. Failure to do so can result in smoke and even a chimney fire. Soot build up can put a damper on the proper ventilation of the chimney. The soot is partly a result of creosote- a combustible, tar-like substance. It’s a natural by-product of wood that has been burned. With reduced ventilation, the creosote will cause potentially dangerous build up.


While creosote itself is not flammable, it can cause the chimney to clog and structural damage could result. It’s important to properly maintain your chimney in order to prevent dangerous oil build-up that can cause a chimney fire.


Inspections


A professional can come and inspect your fireplace and chimney. They can check for damage, obstructions, build-up, or soot. The inspector will be able to determine if you need a sweep of your chimney. The inspector will be able to do the sweep on the spot in most cases. An inspection of your chimney should take place every year.   


There are different levels of chimney inspections that occur. Basic inspections are a visual look at anything that could be in your chimney from soot to a bird’s nest. More complex inspections could involve taking the chimney apart and physically reconstructing the structure. This would occur after some kind of a natural disaster like a hurricane or a tornado. The cost of these inspections depends on how extensive they become.


Other Maintenance


You can improve your fireplace’s functioning with a few basic steps. Fist, you should only burn dry wood. Logs should be split and dried for 8-12 months. You should also burn certain types of wood especially hardwoods like hickory, oak, beech, maple and ash. These woods burn the longest. The most important thing about wood to be burned in the fireplace is that it is dry.       


Burn Only Wood


It can be tempting to throw things into your fireplace to burn, but you should keep away from burning construction wood, plastics, or other things that could let off odors. Even burning paper can be dangerous because of the embers that result as the fire burns.


If you keep on top of your scheduled chimney maintenance and replace parts as needed, you’ll be able to have lovely fires all winter long with peace of mind.




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