The Commonwealth Blog

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Build Equity Like A Pro

If you’re a Bostonian homeowner who’s interested in building home equity, focus on these two things: paying down your principal faster and making the right renovations. With a little bit of planning and hard work, you’ll increase your home’s value and grow your net worth.

Pay Down Your Principal Faster

Your principal is the amount of money you borrowed to purchase your home, which you have to pay back with interest charged by a lender. The faster you pay off your principal, the less interest you’ll accrue and the more your home equity increases. The following strategies will help you reduce your principal more quickly.

Prioritize Larger Payments

When possible, add more money to your monthly mortgage payments to decrease the lifetime of your loan. If you can’t afford to increase your payments every month, do so when you receive extra cash from tax refunds, bonuses, or an inheritance.

Pay Biweekly

Instead of making payments once a month, make them biweekly to pay down your mortgage fast. First, make sure your lender accepts biweekly payments and won’t charge you a fee for changing your payment plan. Also, confirm that your lender will immediately apply each payment to the principal instead of waiting to submit multiple payments at once.

Refinance Your Home

Refinancing with a shorter loan option gets you a lower rate—just make sure you can drop your interest rate by at least 1.5%. You’ll also want to consider closing costs and double-check that you won’t be penalized for making prepayments on your mortgage.

Increase Market Value Through Renovations

Part of being a smart homeowner is knowing what kinds of renovations will get you more bang for your buck. Whether you’re remodeling a Cape Cod vacation cottage or redesigning a colonial home in traditional fashion, it’s a good idea to consult reputable architects and designers and focus on making improvements that are currently in demand.

Curb Appeal

If your home’s interior looks great but your front yard is in shambles, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a willing buyer. Invest in landscaping to make the front of your home more attractive and welcoming. After all, the front yard is the first thing prospective buyers will see before entering your home—make sure they’ll actually want to step inside!

Energy Efficiency

Energy-efficient windows not only look nice and clean, but they decrease monthly utility bills too. Installing energy-efficient windows and appliances will save you in the long run.

Kitchen Remodel

Kitchen remodels are usually a must for buyers with families—or those who just love to cook. While lavish renovations can cost upwards of $100,000, more modest ones can still produce great results for about half the cost. Visit local department stores for help remodeling your kitchen without breaking the bank.

Invest Wisely

With some research and planning, you’ll be well on your way to building equity like a pro. By paying down your principal more aggressively and investing in your home’s infrastructure, you’ll set yourself up for increased profits at the time of sale.

Monday, July 15, 2019

Outdoor Lighting Ideas

Boston’s warm summers are perfect for enjoying relaxing evenings out on the patio, porch, or deck. Use these lighting ideas to design a cozy outdoor space for lounging outside long after the sun goes down.

Romance Is in the Air

Create a romantic atmosphere with decorative lanterns that cover your yard with a subtle glow. Place lanterns on the center of your patio table, group them around the edges of your yard, or line them up on a wall. No matter their placement, their delicate light will create a comfortable place for you to relax.

You can also use pillar candles to create a soft outdoor glow. Decorative candles like these provide enough light to enjoy the scenery without drawing attention away from it. We recommend battery-operated candles—they’re safer and easier to use.

For a more extravagant look, hang an outdoor chandelier from the beam of your pergola or covered patio (this makes installing wiring less tricky). Simple wooden chandeliers will better complement the surrounding foliage without being over the top.

Creative and Cute

Consider using cute and unusual fixtures to illuminate your space. Electric table lamps, for example, emit concentrated light for reading or writing when it’s dark outside and are a great addition to your outdoor seating area. You may also get a kick out of paper lanterns of various sizes hung above your seating area, oil lamps and solar illuminated planters (pots that light up!).

Practical Fixtures

Sometimes you just need a light to show you the way. Install solar deck accent lights on railings, posts, and stairs to provide extra visibility for you and your guests. These lights can be mounted to any flat surface with screws, making installation easy. They also charge during the day when the sun is out and light up at dusk. String lights are another good option—they can be placed over pools, dining tables, or wherever you need more light.

Get More Out of Your Evening

With the right outdoor lighting, you can enjoy more time outside. Whether you’re playing catch, finishing a novel, or hosting a dinner, these lighting fixtures will provide the light you need to get the most out of your long summer days.

 

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Welcome to the Neighborhood: Tips for Getting Acclimated in Boston

If you’re new to Boston, many exciting things await you. As a newbie, though, you may not know how to go about making new friends. Don’t fret—we’ve put together some tips for getting to know your neighbors and putting down roots in Beantown.

Basic Etiquette

When you were young, you and your family may have gone across the street to introduce yourselves to the neighbors with a plate of cookies or brownies in hand. The same concept applies to your most recent move: Be friendly and forward. 

It’s smart to make the first move because, let’s face it, the neighbors probably won’t knock on your door. Be bold and introduce yourself first. You can stroll over to their place after work or on the weekend, invite everyone on the block over for a housewarming party, sit on your porch in the evening and wave to passersby, or small talk with dog owners on their morning walk. 

Bostonians are a kind, smart, sports-loving bunch of people, and you’re sure to meet a warm neighbor soon. Just be friendly and make yourself available.

Explore the Local Hubs

Exploring the town is one of the best ways to make new Bostonian friends. Check out some of these local hotspots to make a new pal at the market, coffeehouse, library, or baseball game. 

Boston Public Market 

This is an indoor, year-round market with seasonal food from 40 New England farmers, fishers, and food entrepreneurs. You can dine in, shop for produce, or both! The market is a kid-friendly atmosphere that hosts fun activities like cooking classes and guided tours. Find more info here.

Dunkin’ Donuts (Or Not)

Bostonians love Dunkin’ Donuts. You may hear this iconic coffeehouse, founded in Quincy, MA, in 1950, referred to as “Dunkies” or “Dunks.” If you’re in the mood for coffee and donuts, this is a good place to run into friendly faces.

If you’re a true coffee connoisseur and wish to explore the city’s many other coffee shops, there are hip coffee spots scattered throughout the city. You’re sure to get acquainted with new friends and baristas at one of these many trendy spots

Boston Public Library 

If you’re a reader, check out the Boston Public Library. Here, you can chat with fellow bookworms (in whispered tones) while searching for your favorite authors in the first free municipal library in the United States. 

Fenway Park 

Baseball season is in full swing, which means you’ll soon be a Red Sox fan (if you aren’t already). The people of Boston are true sports fans, and we’re quite spoiled. Our beloved teams include the Red Sox, Celtics, New England Patriots, and the Bruins—not to mention college teams. Catch a game at Fenway Park this baseball season and you’ll probably run into everyone you’ve met in Boston. This park, established in 1912, has a lot to offer in terms of history and camaraderie.

Volunteer

Helping others is a great way to connect, and Boston provides plenty of volunteering opportunities so you can always assist someone in need. This extensive list of volunteer opportunities will have you and the family sharing new experiences with others in no time. 

Enjoy All that Boston Has to Offer 

After you’ve unpacked your things and settled into your new place, you can finally get to know your city. With a bit of openness and curiosity, you’ll be well on your way to making great new friends in our charming Boston community.

Monday, July 8, 2019

Green Renovations

Green home improvement projects are all the rage. By adding eco-friendly updates to your home, you’ll increase its value, reduce your carbon footprint,  and lower your monthly energy bills. Consider making green renovations this summer to cut down on long-term costs while taking better care of the environment.

Where to Begin

There are many ways to design a green home, from installing green flooring to upgrading your HVAC system. Here are a few others:

Check Your Home’s Insulation

Replacing defective insulation is one of the most cost-effective home improvement projects—it’s even eligible for a tax credit. Loose-fill fiberglass insulation is one eco-friendly option that can lower your energy bill by 10 percent. 

ENERGY STAR Appliances

Use ENERGY STAR appliances to cut costs and reduce emissions. ENERGY STAR estimates that homeowners will save 10 to 50 percent more when using their eco-friendly products compared to traditional ones. LED light bulbs, for example, last 25 times longer than regular bulbs, are mercury-free, and cost 44 cents annually (traditional bulbs cost $19.70). 

Install a Smart Thermostat

Smart thermostats adjust your home’s temperature in relation to your behavior and daily routine. By monitoring your habits, this handy thermostat creates personalized cooling and heating schedules. Smart thermostats also save energy by using motion sensors to detect when the home is empty.

Use the Sun to Your Advantage

Solar panels reduce dependency on fossil fuels by harnessing energy from the sun instead. If your home is connected to your region’s electric grid, you can receive credit from your utility by transferring extra energy from your panels back to the communal power source. You can also add a solar water heater, which converts sunlight into heat for water—this renovation also comes with a 30 percent tax credit.

Reflective roofs also help homeowners save energy and money. By reflecting sunlight away from your roof, they help your home stay cool during the hot summer months, decreasing your dependency on cooling systems. With this upgrade, you’ll be more comfortable indoors and cut back energy bills, and you’ll increase your roof’s longevity in the process.

Source Responsibly

When you source household materials like flooring and countertops, look for opportunities to eliminate indoor pollutants and reuse recycled material. Poly fiber and bamboo, for example, are renewable materials that can be used to design beautiful and sustainable flooring throughout your home. Eco countertops are also made of sustainable building materials, including recycled glass, salvaged wood, bamboo, recycled paper, bio glass, stainless steel, and concrete.

Consult the Right People

No matter the size of your next green remodeling project, there are people who can point you in the right direction. Local utility companies provide energy saving information and offer incentives and rebates, and building supply stores can educate you on energy-saving appliances and household items. If you’re building your home from the ground up or making structural changes, find a builder or architect who’s accredited in Leadership and Environmental Design through the U.S. Green Building Council.

Incentives for Homeowners

Green renovations reduce your carbon footprint, decrease your monthly energy expenses, and save you money through tax incentives. Adding energy-efficient appliances to your home also increases its value. The sooner you start making green renovations, the sooner you can take advantage of your hard work.

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Selling Your Home This Summer

Contrary to popular belief, summer isn’t the best time to put your house on the market. Kids are out of school, families are on vacation, and summertime activities keep homeowners from tending to the house.

As it turns out, summer is one of the busiest times of the year for homeowners. Selling your home may be trickier than you originally thought, but sometimes you simply can’t wait to put your house on the market due to life changes or unforeseen events. Here are some tips for selling your home this summer—hopefully before the next season.

Home Care

While you may not have time to make expensive renovations, you can certainly make smaller repairs around the house that drastically improve its appearance, functionality, and safety.

Kitchen and Bathrooms

Kitchens and bathrooms have the most plumbing and electrical systems, so make sure everything’s running smoothly to avoid flooding and other damages. Check all sinks for leaks and make sure drains are free of clogs. You can also replace the coolant in your fridge if the temperature’s too warm. Lastly, examine all cabinets for water damage or rot, and make sure drawers and cabinets open smoothly without getting stuck.

Interior

Pay close attention to the state of your walls, ceilings, and flooring. Paint over nail holes or areas where discoloration exists to give your home a fresh new look. You should also replace or repair chipped tile, dented wood, and torn carpeting. Steam-clean your floors for good measure, especially if you have pets.

In addition, make sure your heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system (HVAC), water heater, smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, and electrical panel and circuit breakers are in working order.

These repairs ensure the future homeowner’s safety and will help maintain your property’s current value. We recommend investing in a home inspection before making any repairs to know which ones demand your immediate attention.

Smart Selling Strategies

In addition to the aforementioned home repairs, consider adopting these smart selling strategies.

Summer Curb Appeal

Create curb appeal to attract summer buyers—sometimes a good look at your front yard is all it takes for prospective buyers to decide whether they want to go inside. Design an attractive front yard and mow your lawn twice a week (it grows faster in the summer), trim back foliage, plant pretty flowers, fill in naked spots with mulch, and paint prominent outdoor features like your street address or mailbox.

Staging

Move some (if not all) of your furniture to your new home or a storage unit to free up space, and consider hiring a professional stager or staging the place yourself to make buyers feel comfortable and welcome. Move what’s left of your furniture to areas of the room that open the space, and use pretty rugs, pillows, and decorations to cozy it up. You should also tie back curtains and open blinds to let more natural light inside.

Climate Control

Now that everything’s in great shape, it’s time to welcome potential buyers into your temperature-controlled house. Make sure your home isn’t stuffy by placing fans in different rooms to help circulate air. You can also turn down your air conditioning a couple degrees below your normal temperature to keep visitors inside longer. They won’t be as keen on leaving quickly if your home lets them cool off.

Find an Agent

If you’re feeling overwhelmed while selling your home, call several real estate agents and ask for recommendations in your neighborhood. Listing agents can help you market your home effectively and determine a price based on local home values.

Make a Summer Move Happen

Selling a house in summer is difficult, but not impossible. These home improvement projects and strategies will help speed up the process. With a little bit of grunt work, planning, and networking, you’ll be well on your way to closing a summertime sale.

Monday, July 1, 2019

Party Ideas for the Fourth of July

It’s almost the Fourth of July, which means it’s time to take out the barbecue, consume delicious food and drinks, and watch fireworks with friends and family atop picnic blankets and lawn chairs. Independence Day is also a time to reflect on our country’s unique history and our mission to protect life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Here are a couple of decorating ideas you can use to show your appreciation for our founding fathers and the friends and family who make Boston a wonderful place to live.

Hang a Wreath

A wreath on your front door is one of the first decorative items guests will see before entering your home. Welcome them inside with some festive flair by hanging some DIY patriotic décor.

Starburst Wreath

This wreath is easy to make, cheap, and just festive enough. To make a starburst wreath, cut several sheets of red and white paper into long strips, and make sure they vary in length. Next, loop all the strips by pasting each end together. Place the looped strips in a starburst pattern, and put a white button with blue fabric touches in the middle to hold your patriotic wreath together.

Bandana Flag Wreath

Wrap red, white, and blue bandanas around a round base, knotting their ends to make the remaining fabric extend from the center of the wreath outwards. Make sure to alternate the red, white, and blue bandanas around the base to mimic the American flag!

Hanging Flower Wreath

Place white and blue hydrangeas into a vase or another container and hook it to your door. Tie a red ribbon around the hydrangeas for a feminine, festive look.

Decorate Your Backyard

As the weather warms up this time of year, more and more Bostonians will take their parties outdoors. Fun decorative items from colorful cushions and place settings to balloons and cornhole boards will make your Fourth of July party stand out from the rest. Buy or build these items for an especially patriotic celebration.

Bandana Seat Cushions

Place a red bandana over one side of a small-to-medium cushion and a blue one over the other. Tie the corners together with a rubber band and some ribbon.

Patriotic Cutlery

Purchase little polka dot bags from Amazon (and tie red and blue twine around the bags) to neatly tuck your silverware inside a patriotic napkin holder. You can also place more blue and white hydrangeas in the center of your table to add to your red, white, and blue color scheme.

Confetti Poppers

A Fourth of July party’s not complete without some good, old-fashioned party poppers. DIY confetti poppers are easy enough to make yourself: All you need are some balloons, empty toilet paper tubes, packing tape, patterned paper, and confetti! Find more information here.

Balloon Flag

Here’s an easy way to make a patriotic statement! Simply blow up some red, white, and blue balloons and tie them onto your shed or garage to stand in for the American flag.

Fly a Flag the Right Way

Perhaps the best way to decorate for the Fourth is to fly the American flag—just make sure you abide by proper flag-flying etiquette.

  • Don’t hang your flag backward or upside down to ensure that it stays in its vertical, upright position. The flag should never dip to a person or another object
  • Don’t let it touch the ground, floor, or water
  • Only fly your flag at half-staff when the nation is in mourning
  • Only fly the flag at night if it is illuminated
  • Don’t fly the flag in the rain
  • Fly the American flag above other flags
  • Make sure your flag is in good condition
  • Learn how to dispose of your flag properly by contacting your local American Legion
  • Fold your flag before putting it away
  • Don’t use the flag on clothing, costumes, uniforms, bedding, cushions, or other fabrics and décor

Have a Blast

We’re thankful to be with family and friends as we celebrate our country’s independence. After you’re through setting up your decorations, make sure you schedule time to kick back with those you love most and enjoy good food, music, games, and company this Fourth of July.

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

The Do's and Don'ts of Writing an Offer Letter

It can be hard to craft an offer letter that sellers will love. You want to be personal without sharing too much information. You want to express what you love about the house and shy away from what you don’t. There’s an art to writing an offer letter that sellers can’t refuse—we’re here to show you.

Don’t Say This

For starters, let’s explore what you shouldn’t do, because saying the wrong thing in an offer letter can hurt your chances of moving into your dream home. Here’s what you should never include in your offer letter to a seller.

Unnecessary Personal Information

Under the Federal Fair Housing Act, it is illegal for a seller to discriminate based on religion, race, sex, disability, or family status, but that won’t always stop them from letting their personal biases influence their decision. Don’t tell a seller more about yourself than you need to, and be extra cautious—even an innocent comment like “We’re excited to celebrate around the Christmas tree next winter” can clue someone in to your religious beliefs, or talking about pets may sour a seller who isn’t a fan of animals.

Your Distaste for Their Décor

It’s never a good idea to talk about all the changes and renovations you plan to make when you move in—the seller may take it as an insult to their taste. Play it safe and be kind: Find ways to compliment all the hard work they put into making this house their home over the years.

Desperation

Looking desperate weakens your negotiating power. Communicating that you need to close the deal quickly because your lease is up soon, for example, may encourage sellers to stick you with a higher asking price while you’re in a tight spot. Your quick timeline may also conflict with their desire for a longer closing period, too.

Avoid highlighting any aspects of the deal where you come up short. Instead, allow your real estate agent to communicate with the listing agent to find ways of tailoring your letter to the seller’s preferences.

Make Sure to Do This

So, how do you make sellers fall in love with your offer letter? Pay attention to your tone and keep things positive.

Personalize Your Letter the Right Way

Make sure your letter is heartfelt and friendly to communicate your true desire to move into this home. Address the seller by name, or if you don't know it, open with a thoughtful greeting (something like “Dear owners of the charming blue house on Maple Lane” will work). You should also write your letter with a pen for good measure. It will stand out from typed letters, which may appear cold compared to your handwritten offer.

State What You Love About the House

Explain what you love most about the seller’s home. If you’re passionate about cooking, for instance, talk about how the kitchen is the perfect size for you and your family, or that you love the backsplash tile and unique decorations. You should also look for ways to connect with the seller on a personal level. If you see a feature in their home that reminds you of your own upbringing or lifestyle, tell them.

Say Thank You

You started with a warm message—end with one, too. Thank the seller for considering your purchase of their beautiful home, and express your desire to hear back from them soon.

Monday, June 24, 2019

Summer Home Improvement Projects

With long, warm, and sunny days, you have more time to investigate your property for things that need fixing. We recommend prioritizing the following home improvement projects to ensure that your home is in peak condition all year long.

Roofing

You don’t want water seeping into your attic or walls through a crack in your roof. Take a good look at your roof from the ground level to see if any shingles or other roofing material have blown off in a storm. You should also investigate your roof’s beams for damage—they travel a long way across the top of your home and may be the source of your mysterious leaks.

Windows

Check the windowpanes throughout your house for any cracks that may have resulted from strong winds and freezing winter temperatures. It’s inexpensive to replace broken windows, and new panes without any cracks or leaks will be more energy efficient. If you don’t have to replace any of your windows, you can still give them a thorough wash and clean or replace old, dingy trim to instantly improve your home’s appearance.

Siding

Siding is the material attached to the exterior walls of your house. Repair or replace damaged siding so your home isn’t exposed to the elements. Installing sturdy, energy-efficient siding also ensures that your home stays well-insulated and easy to clean.

Gutters

If your gutters are damaged or clogged with leaves, they’ll do a poor job of directing water away from your property. Do a thorough cleaning and install gutter guards to direct the flow of water away from your foundation, making sure your house stays dry in the wettest seasons.

Temperature Control

As Boston heats up, prioritize these ways of staying cool.

Insulation

Install fiberglass insulation in your attic to keep both warm and cool air inside your house. By maintaining a constant room temperature, you’ll stay comfy and cool in especially hot weather.

Install Cooler Lighting and Appliances

Replace incandescent light bulbs with energy-efficient ones. LEDs and CFLs transmit less heat and help reduce your energy bill by using 80 percent less energy than their incandescent counterparts. Energy-efficient refrigerators, dishwashers, and dryers also emit less heat, making them a smart alternative to outdated appliances. Lastly, you can always install inexpensive indoor and outdoor ceiling fans to help keep you cool anywhere you lounge around the house. As scattered storms begin to break and hot, humid days become the norm, you’ll want the proper infrastructure in place to stay comfortable this summer.

Take Advantage of the Warm Weather

Outdoor home improvement projects are best done when the weather’s nice. Take time this summer to inspect your property for any damage done during the previous winter and make sure everything is in tip-top shape. The right home improvement projects will improve your home’s value and protect everyone inside from the worst of the summer heat.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Things to Do in Boston on a Rainy Day

If it’s rainy in Boston, there are still plenty of fun things to do inside with family or friends. Whether you want to grab a round of locally brewed beers or explore the city’s many museums (or both), Boston’s variety of engaging indoor activities will hold your attention all day long.

Explore Our Museums

Boston is full of history and home to some of the country’s most prestigious academic institutions, so it’s no surprise that many museums are sprinkled throughout Beantown. When you need to ride out the weather, we recommend visiting a museum large enough to entertain your party for a significant portion of the day. It’s also a good idea to take location into consideration: Museums close to the “T” (the subway) make transportation a bit easier and save you from getting caught in a torrential downpour.

If you’re traveling with kids, we recommend checking out the Boston Children’s Museum, New England Aquarium, or Museum of Science. Teens and adults may enjoy the Museums of Fine Arts and the Boston Public Library. There are two types of Boston discount cards that offer great deals on admission: The Boston CityPASS and Go Boston Cards.

Go to a Show

Going to the movies is probably one of the best rainy-day activities. AMC Loews Boston Common 19 is a beloved downtown movie theater located near the Park Street T station and Chinatown. It has easy access to the tube and is close to many delicious Asian restaurants. If indie and foreign films are more your thing, check out the Brattle Theatre in Cambridge off of the Harvard Square T station.

Live performances and comedy shows are another great rainy-day option. Boston’s Theatre District offers a variety of venues to choose from and showcases both local and national talent.

Say Cheers

A rainy day is a good excuse to go barhopping with your friends. Check out the city’s many breweries to get a taste of Boston’s famous beer. Samuel Adams Boston Brewery attracts visitors from near and far who want to tour the taproom and kick back with a delicious craft beer in hand. Other popular breweries in the Boston area include Democracy Brewing, Trillium Brewing Company, Harpoon Brewery, and so much more. City Winery and Abigail’s Tea Room are two solid alternatives if you’re not a beer aficionado.

Embrace the Rain

If we’re not talking about sleet or snow, you might enjoy a rainy walk in Boston’s historic downtown area. Boston Discovery Guide recommends that you start your adventure in Boston Common, walk toward Tremont Street, and follow the Freedom Trail to get a glimpse of famous historic sites and grab a bite at a local coffee shop along the way.

Boston always has something fun to offer, rain or shine. We hope we’ve encouraged you not to stay cooped up in your house or hotel—gallivant around town in the rain with your friends and family this week.

Monday, June 17, 2019

Explaining the Escrow Process

Escrow can be intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be. Read on for more information about its many moving parts, involved parties, and tips for making your next escrow smooth and easy.

What Is Escrow?

The escrow period begins when you sign a housing contract and ends when you close. Escrow safeguards both parties from risk, protecting buyers’ and sellers’ assets before closing on a property. After making an offer on your home-to-be, your earnest money will be placed in the hands of a third party until both you and the seller finish negotiations and close the deal.  

Here are several reasons why you’ll want an impartial third party to hold onto your money before closing:

  • To prevent your earnings from being held hostage by the seller in case they try to renegotiate with your money in their hands.
  • The seller won’t close before you’ve paid your dues, but you won’t give them your money until all negotiations are through and contracts have been signed. With escrow, both parties can follow through with their own end of the bargain at the same time.
  • You may have entered into a “rent-back” agreement (requiring the seller to pay you a specified rate for staying in the home longer than anticipated). An escrow agent can hold back a portion of your escrow fees until the seller moves out of your new home and you can make sure it’s in good condition.
  • Funds can also be held in escrow if the seller hasn’t completed home improvement projects within the agreed-upon time frame or if you’re purchasing a newly constructed home that hasn’t been completed on time.

What About Lenders?

Your mortgage lender also uses funds to pay for your homeowners insurance and property taxes, collecting these fees along with your monthly payments. Funds used for paying tax and insurance are called escrow or impound accounts and reserves—these terms mean the same thing and are used interchangeably. The term “prepaid” also describes money that lenders collect in advance to pay for homeowners insurance and property taxes.

Closing

The closing of escrow happens after all the necessary documents have been signed and recorded, all the agreed upon conditions have been met, and the money has been properly allocated to all parties. An escrow officer oversees all final steps, including the exchange of funds and recording of deeds.

Buyer and Seller Escrow Tips

To make escrow more straightforward, we recommend buyers and sellers follow these suggestions:

  • Buyers should document all their finances and organize financial paperwork before going into escrow to speed up the process.
  • Buyers and sellers should be easily reachable by phone to answer questions from agents and lenders or be informed of any missing documents or papers that need to be sent in promptly.
  • Sellers should protect themselves from last-minute surprises by requesting a title report before putting their house on the market.

Ask Questions

Escrow gets more complicated if you forget to sign any documents or retrieve the necessary paperwork. Reach out to your bank, escrow company, or agent to make sure you have everything in order. Going into escrow confidently will speed up the process so you can move into your new home by the agreed-upon date.

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