Real Estate Buyers

Hackers Are Trying to Spread Another Type of Virus

Don't let Hackers get the best of you.  Following is an article from REALTOR Magazine alerting homeowners of their devious ways.

Cybersecurity firm Check Point Software Technologies has found a surge in coronavirus-themed malware and malicious software that is targeting the growing number of people working from home due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Cybercriminals are infecting home computers that may not have the same safeguards that employees use at their offices.

“The hackers are out in force, and they know that everybody’s home, so I think working from home without appropriate security is a risk,” Beth McCarty, owner of TeamLogic IT/Central Pinellas in Clearwater, Fla., told realtor.com®.

Phishing emails continue to prey on individuals, security experts warn. Hackers are sending out emails impersonating charities. They’re making requests for money or other personal information. For example, one reported scam purports to be an app by Johns Hopkins University that tracks the coronavirus and urges people to download a file or to click on the link, which contains malicious malware. Some cybercriminals are also hijacking video conferences, displaying pornography.

Check Point Software Technologies’ research shows that more than 4,000 coronavirus-related domains had been registered globally. Three percent were found to be malicious and 5% were labeled “suspicious.”

While companies offer in-house internet networks, many people who are working at home don’t have that same type of security in their home networks. Also, many households are now sharing devices among family members, and aren’t just using them for work. Children may be using devices to access classroom portals or for entertainment.

What can you do?

“Make sure you change that default password on your router,” McCarty told realtor.com®. “Many people have not.”

She also recommends enabling encryption on the router, using two-factor authentication to access programs, not storing any company information on your personal device, and using only approved company storage.

Also, she urges the use of a virtual private network, if available from your company. View more tips at realtor.com®.

Source: 

The Rush to Work From Home Creates Opportunity—for Cybercriminals,” realtor.com® (March 24, 2020)

Scammers Are Trying to Dupe Homeowners Who Need Help

Don't fall prey to these scammers.  Below is an article from REALTOR Magazine alerting homeowners of their tactics and how not to be a victim to their schemes!

Scam artists are reportedly using multiple methods, including spoofing tactics, to try to trick struggling homeowners with offers of financial aid. Freddie Mac warned this week that it learned of a scam where borrowers were receiving fraudulent calls impersonating the mortgage financing giant in offering low interest rates and other false promises.

Freddie Mac says it will never reach out to consumers over the phone with a refinancing opportunity or a new loan.

As some homeowners struggle from the economic toll of the COVID-19 outbreak, scammers are looking to take advantage of those looking for help. They may call owners offering immediate relief from foreclosure or relief from making mortgage payments.

Freddie Mac, Fannie Mae, and many lenders are offering programs to help homeowners at this time, but those calls need to be initiated by the owner.

“Spoofing is when a caller deliberately falsifies the information transmitted to your caller ID in an effort to disguise their identity while pretending to be someone else,” Freddie Mac warns in a statement about the growing scam.

“During times of distress, it is important to be on your guard against fraud schemes,” Freddie Mac says in a post.

Here are some tips from Freddie Mac to help homeowners avoid being scammed:

  • If a call comes from an unknown number, let it go to voicemail. If it’s important, the caller will leave a message.

  • If you answer and receive a robocall, don’t press any numbers. Hang up.

  • Never give out any personal, financial, or other sensitive information unless you’ve verified the caller is a legitimate source.

  • Be cautious of numbers on your caller ID since scammers can make any name or number appear.

Source: 

Avoiding Fraud: Call Spoofing,” Freddie Mac (March 25, 2020) and “Avoid Getting Caught Up in Coronavirus Scams Involving Your Mortgage,” Forbes.com (March 26, 2020)

Real Estate transactions are now included in New Hampshire's list of "essential businesses"!

 

 

Yes, we are open for business!

Following an appeal by NH Realtors, real estate transactions are now included in the state’s list of essential businesses allowed to function as a result of Gov. Christopher Sununu’s stay-at-home order. 

In our effort to abide by the guidelines in the prevention of the spread of the Coronavirus, we request the following:

 

  • Call us at 603-569-4488 if you wish to speak with an Agent.  

  • Meetings: Meetings between brokers/agents and clients (or prospective clients) cannot take place at a real estate brokerages’ physical offices, but may take place with social distancing or remotely by phone, video or other electronic means.

  • Virtual Tours: If you wish to schedule a showing of a property, you can do so by calling us and we can set up a viewing via virtual tour or Facetime.

  • Closings: Real estate closings can continue either through remote means or with social distancing for any in-person transactions.

  • Inspections: Property inspections and appraisals may continue with appropriate social distancing.

  • Delivery Personnel: You may enter our lobby area but we request you keep a minimum distance of 6 feet between yourself and our Agents and Administrator. 

 

Please follow these preventative measures to reduce the risk of contracting or spreading the coronavirus:

  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer

  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands

  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

  • Stay home and avoid public places as much as possible

  • Avoid close contact through social distancing, at least 6 feet from anyone.

  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, or cough or sneeze into your sleeve then immediately throw the tissue away and wash your hands as soon as possible.

 

Stay Healthy & Safe Everyone!  We're all in this together!

 

Melanson Real Estate, Inc.

www.melansonrealestate.com

Mobile: 603-651-7228

 

 

Buying or Selling Your Home in the Lakes Region?

 

List or Buy with Us This Spring!

 

 

The agents at Melanson Real State, Inc. are committed to providing professional advising to both buyers and sellers in New Hampshire's Lakes Region.

With us, you never have to worry about not receiving the personal attention you need through each step of the real estate process.

 

34 North Main Street

Wolfeboro, New Hampshire

www.melansonrealestate.com

603-569-4488

 

One of the Oldest and Most Respected Real Estate Firms in the Lakes Region

 

 

5 Simple Ways to Build Home Equity

As we head into April and the weather starts to warm up a bit, now is a great time to think about home improvement projects to build equity in your home and make it more beautiful. Building equity in your home is usually a process that takes a lot of time, money, energy, and patience. 

Following are some helpful tips to turn your neighborhood into a community and how to get ready for a home inspection. 

Maintenance

Before you start thinking of ways to create equity, consider what you can do to maintain your current equity. Keeping up with routine maintenance and fixing problems as soon as they arise will help your home stay in good shape so that you don’t lose out on existing home value.

Landscaping

Nice landscaping increases your home’s curb appeal, which can add thousands of dollars to your home’s value. Investing in quality landscaping is often the quickest, easiest way to earn a home equity boost. 

Outdoor upgrades

Replacing torn window screens, updating the paint on your porch, replacing your front door, and other small projects can dramatically improve your home’s curb appeal. This, in turn, can be a quick and easy way to improve your home’s value and the equity you have in it.

Indoor updates

Some projects like a full kitchen or bathroom remodel will add a lot of value to your home, but they’ll also cost a lot of money. Some simpler projects like repainting your cabinets, updating your appliances, or checking your attic insulation can improve your home without emptying your wallet.

Raise your payments

Another way to build equity in your home is to pay down your loan. Add extra money to pay down your principal loan or make additional payments on your loan to earn additional home equity.

 

By Christopher Kelly, RE/MAX Bayside, 208 Daniel Webster Hwy, Meredith, NH 03253

 

How to Prepare for a Home Inspection

Getting ready to sell or purchase your home.  Well, here are some helpful tips suggested by Christopher Kelly when it comes to your home inspection. 

Home inspections are a chance for a homeowner or buyer to learn of any potential problems a home may have. These inspections are often considered a crucial part of the home-selling process. Make sure any inspections on your home go smoothly with these tips.

Turn on the lights.

Turning on the lights gives you a chance to make sure none of your light bulbs are burnt out, thereby avoiding concerns over whether or not those sockets are working. It also makes it easier for the inspector to see where they’re going and to assess your home’s condition more accurately.

Tidy up.

Making sure your house is neat and tidy will ensure the home inspector can quickly and safely make their inspection. Because the home inspector will be evaluating the entire home, remember to tidy up the basement, attic, storage areas, and utilities in addition to the main living areas.

Finish your to-do list.

Most homes have a few minor repairs that need fixing - leaky faucets, running toilets, wobbly banisters, etc. Now is a great time to go ahead and fix those so that they don’t show up on your home’s inspection report!

 

By Christopher Kelly, RE/MAX Bayside

Top 5 Reasons to Hire a Real Estate Professional When Buying or Selling!

If you're thinking of buying your first home, forever home or are ready to sell your current home? Don't go it alone! Melanson Real Estate is one of the oldest and most respected firms in town. Our experts know the Lakes Region and will assist you every step of the way, from showing to closing. We provide the care and personal service you deserve from day one to minimize surprises and make your buying and selling experience as stress free as possible. Call or stop-in today to speak with one of our experts! 

Buyers and sellers are on separate sides of the fence when it comes to home sales. What one is trying to achieve is often diametrically opposed to what the other wants to see happen—the first usually wants to steal the property while the other wants top dollar. And yet, they share the same ultimate goal. They want a sale.

Both sides can benefit significantly from hiring a real estate agent to assist them, but their reasons can be different. 

1.  It's All About the Money... 

Consider this if you're contemplating going "FSBO"—for sale by owner—when listing your home. Of course, you want to get as much for their home as possible, and you might think that means not parting with extra commissions. But a 2017 study indicated that FSBOs fetched about 30% less for their owners than agent-listed properties. 

And you're probably going to have to pay a commission anyway if your buyer is represented by an agent. The buyer's agent's commission is typically factored into the deal—although you'll still save on the commission you would otherwise have paid your own agent.  

And why not use an agent if you're the buyer? After all, the seller is paying the commission, not you. Of course, there's always a slim possibility that the seller will refuse to do so, but you can probably move on and look at other properties if it appears that this will be the case, although it can depend on whether you're shopping in a buyers' or sellers' market and who has the upper hand. 

2. ...And Attention to Detail 

You might be far out of your element when it comes to reviewing and understanding the multiple documents involved in a real estate deal, and you should have a thorough understanding of what you're getting into regardless of whether you're buying or selling. Purchase agreements alone can top 10 pages in 2019, not to mention federal, state, and local document requirements. 

Luckily, your agent will be far more familiar with all this paperwork than you are. Consider this if you're still thinking about saving money: Some mistakes or omissions in these documents can cost you as much as that commission you were trying to avoid paying—or even far more. 

Here's an example: Maybe a buyer makes an offer on a home, but it's contingent on getting a mortgage. There's no possibility that the buyer could purchase the property without first securing financing—but there's no such contingency or escape hatch built into the purchase agreement to let the buyer out of the deal if financing fails. The buyer is obligated to go through with the sale or be sued if it turns out that a mortgage isn't happening. 

Consider hiring a broker for a smaller one-time fee to simply review your contracts before signing if you're still dead set against hiring an agent to take care of all this. 

3. Privacy, Confidentiality and Fiduciary Duty 

Your real estate agent has your back whether you're a buyer or a seller. Agents have what's known as a "fiduciary" responsibility to their clients. They legally obligated to put their clients' best interests first. 

This duty imparts a very high standard for confidentiality. As a buyer, do you really, really want to turn over your most intimate financial details to a FSBO seller who's under no legal obligation to keep the information confidential? The same goes for turning any and all information over to the seller's agent, who has no fiduciary responsibility to you but only to the seller. Your own agent would know whether any information the other agent is requesting from you is reasonable. 

You do have recourse if you're the buyer and the seller's agent has lied to you, misled you, or disclosed confidential information. You can report it to the agent's professional association, such as the National Association of Realtors. But again, this assumes that the seller has an agent. You'll have far fewer options if the property is FSBO. 

4. Agents Know What to Look For 

Buyers usually have a pretty firm idea in mind of what they want in a property, from number of bedrooms to an attached garage to any number of other must-have and must-not-have factors. You'll probably feel pretty comfortable looking at homes with that list tucked firmly in the back of your mind.

But your agent will be alert for issues that might not cross your mind, such as furnace issues, leaks, roofing problems, and mold and insect issues. An agent will recognize the telltale signs of these problems and know how best to approach them. Again, this experience and knowledge can end up saving you thousands down the road. 

You know exactly how much you want for your home if you're the seller, but is the price you've arrived at reasonable? You might only know for sure if you're able to identify comparable sales that confirm that you're in the right range—or not. Agents can do comparative market analyses in their sleep. 

An agent can hand over researched, current, and reputable data regarding a neighborhood's demographics, crime rates, schools, and other important factors. That's a lot of time-consuming research to do on your own, particularly if you don't know where to start. 

5. Agents Have Superior Negotiating Skills 

You might not be a negotiation shark if you don't happen to be an attorney, mediator, union rep...or a real estate agent. Remember that fiduciary responsibility your agent has to you. It's your agent's job to get you the best possible price for your home, or to see to it that you get the best possible deal on the property you want to buy. 

Agents are trained to negotiate well, if only from experience. They know what normally works and what does not. Most have tried-and-true techniques all their own. And, most importantly, they have no emotional stake in the outcome that can cloud their thinking. 

You, on the other hand, might be willing to come up with $10,000 more to purchase that to-die-for home, never realizing that it's really not necessary because you possess certain bargaining chips. It's just more money saved if you have an agent who prevents you from taking an unnecessary financial plunge. 

The Bottom Line 

Henry Ford once said that it proves that you're smarter than they are when you hire people who are smarter than you. The trick is to recognize when you need help and to find the right person.

BY ELIZABETH WEINTRAUB (Click to read more about the author)

 

4 Tips for Home-Buying During the Colder Months

Are you in the market or thinking about purchasing a new home? Well, here are some handy tips from Meghan Belnap for just that... best of luck with your search!

Are you planning to move? Is it going to be cold when you relocate? Here are four ideas to help make the home search process faster and more convenient during the colder months:

Attend cozy open houses

Use the time you're looking for a home to mingle and fight the winter blues. Go see what's open in your area, check out a new location or inspect a home you really want. Open houses provide many opportunities including the chance to mingle and network. Even if you don't like the house you visit, you may hear of others nearby. You'll find many houses for sale in the winter that have open houses, and checking them out in person can show you exactly what the house will be like during the colder months.

Read the home inspection reports

While it's chilly outside, pull up a comfy chair and a mug of hot chocolate or coffee and do some research. With the bad weather and cold air that come with the season in some areas of the country, it's easier to sit inside and get the monotonous part of moving out of the way first. Plus, getting some of the boring stuff done early gives you more time to spend on the fun things like getting open house gifts.

Look for drafts and other leaks

There's no better time than winter to check out houses for sale. With the home working at the highest level, potential buyers can easily check out windows and doors for air leaks. Gaps are easier to find because drafts are often present when the winter wind is blowing hard outside. Plus, going to showings in the winter lets you see the property during the drab months of the year, allowing you to envision it in the nicer weather.

Check out the parking in bad weather

When you need a parking spot close to home in the winter, it's best to go for showings during this season. Looking at houses when there's snow on the ground lets you see where the problems occur in the area. You can avoid houses that have access problems, drainage issues or are last on the list for the snowplow.

Many people think winter is a bad time to look for a new home; however, several advantages make this season better than most. For example, if you don't want to go out in the cold weather, then chances are neither will your neighbors. Second, a home will show all its problems in the winter because the systems have to work extremely hard to keep up with frigid temperatures.

 

Meghan Belnap is a freelance writer who enjoys spending time with her family. She finds happiness in researching new topics that expand her horizons.

 

When Is the Best Time to Buy a House?

Following is an article written by Daniel Bortz. I think, you'll find this an interesting read.

Timing determines so much when you're buying a house. Although the best time to buy a house is when you're ready both financially and emotionally, there are other factors that can help you decide when to buy a house.

By timing your purchase just right, you can nab a great home that's just right for you.  

What Is the Best Month to Buy a House?

Let's make this clear: There's no such thing as a guaranteed "best month" to purchase a home. (C'mon, we never said this would be easy!)

While some conventional wisdom says there is a best time of year to buy a house — during spring home buying season (April to June) — there are pluses and minuses when it comes to what month you choose to purchase a home.

(Note: Real estate is local. Determining a best time utlimately depends on conditions in your local market.)

Here we've outlined some of the reasons different months can turn out to be the best time to buy a house for you:

January to March. Winter isn't such a bad time to buy a house. Though there's less inventory — meaning there are fewer homes for sale — there are fewer home buyers too, so you have less competition. That means there's a lower likelihood of a bidding war, which can be a stressful experience for home buyers. Another benefit of buying a house during the cold-weather months: Home prices are typically the lowest they'll be all year.

Still, there are drawbacks to buying a house between January and March. Inclement weather can also be a challenge, since snow or ice could make it difficult to drive around and view homes or do a thorough home inspection of some elements, such as a roof. 

April to June. Welcome to spring home buying season— the peak months for not only housing supply, but also the number of home buyers shopping for houses. Because most families want to move when the kids are out of school, there's a big incentive to buy a house this time of year, since many home buyers need to allow 30 to 60 days for closing.

The warmer weather also makes open houses more enjoyable, landscaping easier to evaluate, and inspections more comprehensive.

Even though it's generally regarded as the best time of year to buy a house, there are downsides to the spring market. For starters, you'll face more competition from other home buyers —  meaning you have to move quickly when a great listing hits the market. Bidding wars are a lot more common, you tend to have less negotiating power, and home prices tend to tick up during spring.

July to September. If you can handle the heat (and a little competition), summer may be the one of the best times of year to buy. Now that the spring home buying craze is over, most home prices return to normal, allowing you to save some money. The sunniest time of the year also makes being outdoors and attending open houses more enjoyable.

The hot temperatures also give home buyers the opportunity to test how well a property's air conditioning system holds up in warm weather, which is something they can't usually test during other times of the year.

October to December. The main downside of buying a house in autumn is that there may not be as many homes for sale in the fall as there are in the spring. But it's not like the market goes completely quiet.

Many home buyers consider fall the best time of year to buy a house because of price reductions. Because home sellers tend to list their homes in the spring, sellers whose houses haven't sold yet may be motivated to find buyers, and prices start to reflect that.

Daniel Bortz is a freelance writer based in Washington, D.C., whose work has appeared in "The New York Times," "The Washington Post," "Money" magazine, "Consumer Reports," "Entrepreneur" magazine, and more.

New Home Essentials

Photo: texashomeandgarden.com

Purchasing a home for the first time can be quite exciting. However, having certain items in a new home make the experience all the more enjoyable and most of all, convenient. Make sure that you have these recommended essentials so that you can stay home and enjoy your new home as opposed to having to leave to get these items as you realize you need them. That way, there will be more time to focus on where you want to place your furniture and how you want to decorate each room.

1. First Aid Kit - Injuries sometimes happen when moving. Make sure you're prepared!

2. Power outage supplies - You never know when an outage will occur. Make sure to have batteries, flashlights, bottled water, etc.

3. Fire extinguisher - Every home should have one of these. Imagine the potential damage you could prevent by having one of these quickly accessible.

4. Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors - These save lives and are absolute necessities. 

5. Cleaning supplies - Homes can get dirty on moving days with people constantly walking from outside to the inside of your home while moving furniture and boxes. We recommend having Bleach, Comet, a broom and dustpan, vacuum, mop, floor cleaner, sponges, wipes, and rags handily available for whatever messes you may encounter. 

6. Snow shovel -Be prepared for that first snowfall with a snow shovel. If not, you may not be able to back out of your driveway to go and get one. 

7. Tool kit - Whether needing a hammer to hang pictures or a screwdriver to install curtain rods, be prepared by having a basic tool kit in you home. 

8. Shower curtain - Don't wait until you're exhausted and in need of a shower on your first day in your new home to discover that you have a tub with no curtain! To avoid a wet floor or not being able to shower at all, make sure to put up one of these up on your first day. 

9. Spare keys - Get spare keys made for your new home as soon as possible. Give a key to each member of the household that will need one.  This way, in the midst moving, if a key is misplaced or someone accidentally locks themselves out of the house, someone will most likely have a spare key to unlock the door.

10. Lawn equipment  - Part of a home's appeal is its landscaping. Give your new home curb appeal by maintaining the lawn, hedges, etc.

11. Appliances - It's common for people to buy homes without appliances already present. Be prepared by bringing your own from your previous residence or schedule to have new appliances delivered by your move in day.