David Higgins - Flavin & Flavin Realty | Everything Quincy and South Shore Real Estate and more!


So, you know you’re ready to buy a home and will be purchasing a new home soon. You’re excited that you finally have the down payment and are itching to start your home search. While you’re meeting with real estate agents and interviewing candidates to help you find your home, you can’t help but get started on your own. Everyone goes through this, you see yourself starting to look online and browse around. You may have an idea about your budget and financial and special requirements. That’s good! Just remember that it’s easy to stray outside your guidelines when you’re browsing online. Your real estate agent will ultimately guide you to properties that fit your requirements, but while you’re browsing around you may want to consider setting some boundaries or search guidelines for yourself. 

First, know that browsing current listings online can help you create a productive list of features, preferences for your real estate agent to work with. You should feel encouraged to browse around, just remember to think about some basic direction you should consider before you start. This mostly pertains to your mental state when browsing, but know that your browsing will influence your actual buying strategy in the end. 

Looking for homes online allows you to look at every price level, area and feature imaginable, or at least available within a range of your current city. It actually isn’t a bad thing to look at home out of your price range, but you should focus on homes within your price range. This can help you understand what your money can get you. You can see what features and locations are available in your price range, as well as above, so you can hone in on the significant areas and features you want to discuss with your real estate agent. 

While looking at homes online, you should remind yourself to look at features, price, and location generally, and not focus in on a single home. The house you’re looking at online may or may not be available when you ask your agent. Furthermore, the home you’re looking at may or not be real. Even if you see something awesome online, you should always ask the advice of a trusted agent. They can verify the listing against the official MLS listing and contact the homeowner or their listing agent before you become too invested in the home. 

Bottom line, feel free to search online while you select a real estate agent to facilitate your home search. Just remember to be smart, keep yourself from becoming overly obsessed with a single house and always ask the agent you choose to contact sellers on your behalf. With the help of your agent’s guidance, you’ll be well on your way to finding your new home.


While buying a home is a huge decision that should entail a lot of planning and preparation, applying for a mortgage can be surprisingly easy. Just like with other lenders and creditors, a mortgage lender will want to know that letting you borrow money will be a safe investment. Applying for a mortgage is all about ensuring just that.

In today’s post, we’re going to breakdown the home loan application process to help you have the best chances at a smooth and successful mortgage approval. We’ll also define some of the common terms used in mortgages that might leave you scratching your head so you have a better idea of what your options are.

Prequalification and Preapproval

Getting prequalified and preapproved for a mortgaged can both be helpful steps toward securing your home loan. The two terms mean two entirely different things, however.

In order to be prequalified for a mortgage, you typically need to only fill out a simple form (sometimes directly through a lender’s website). On this form, you won’t need to provide specifics or official documents.

Why is this process so simple? Well, that’s because getting prequalified for a loan doesn’t ensure that you’ll actually receive one. Rather, it is simply the first step toward finding out what type of mortgage and interest rates you could receive.

The next step after prequalification is preapproval. To get preapproved, you’ll have to fill out an official mortgage application. Your lender of choice will request a few pieces of information from you, including tax returns, proof of employment for the last two years, and a list of your debts. The lender will also perform a credit check to determine your loan eligibility.

Credit report

At this phase, lenders will also run your credit report. This is a type of “hard credit inquiry” that details your payment history, the number of accounts you have open, and other factors that help make up your credit score.

To secure the lowest interest rate possible, it helps to have a high credit score. So, in the years and months leading up to your mortgage application, focusing on building credit will pay off.

To increase your credit score, you’ll need to focus on paying your bills on time each month. You should also avoid opening new accounts within a few months of applying for a mortgage because this will count as a new credit inquiry. New credit inquiries--including applying for a mortgage--lower your score temporarily, so it’s best to avoid them when possible.

Additional paperwork required for mortgage applications

Not every mortgage application will be the same. Depending on the type of income you receive, you may need to provide different forms of income verification.

Each person will also have to claim different debts and assets. When buying a home with a spouse or partner, it’s important to consider your debts, assets, and credit scores to determine if it’s better to apply jointly or separately.


Newlywed life is such an exciting time! It’s also a time many couples decide to buy their first home together. And therefore aside from having a wedding, it’s the first major financial decision couples make together. Hit the ground running together with these tips:

Co-managing money: If they haven’t already combined finances before the big day many couples choose to do so after marriage. Learning how to manage money on your own is a task unto itself but managing it together is a vital skill for newlyweds. You can avoid unnecessary fights over money down the road by getting on the same page financially now. Get really honest with each other. Put everything on the table, especially various debts you each may hold, from credit cards to school loans it’s all important to get a true snapshot of your combined finances.

Create a budget for your life together. Calculate your combined expenses. Consider where you can cut back on services and habits to save money and what you need to add to your budget. Be sure to consider: savings for a nest egg, vacations, car repairs, and unexpected medical emergencies. You may also want to begin saving up to start a family or plan for retirement. When you have a complete picture of your finances you can then look at what’s left over. What kind of down payment and/or monthly payments will you be able to realistically make with this amount?

You’ll also want to talk to each other about your lifestyle goals. If you’ve always dreamed of living in the city or a small tightly-knit town. Perhaps you’ve always imagined a large, spacious home while your partner is thinking of something smaller to focus more on traveling. Do you want a garage, a big yard, a pool or to be close to family? Getting clear on what you each expect from your ideal home will help you find the perfect middle ground where you will both be happy.

It’s best to be able to make at least 20% of the house cost for a down payment. The higher the down payment you can make the better as you’ll have lower monthly payments and won’t get hit with extra fees from your insurance. If you can’t save up this amount, look into first-time buyer loans which allow new buyers to make a smaller down payment.

Be prepared. Remember to plan and budget for closing costs on your home. You don’t want this price tag to catch you off guard. Other things to be financially prepared for throughout the year are property taxes, homeowner’s insurance as well as maintenance and upkeep.

Being newlyweds is an exciting time where you have the rest of your life together to look forward to. And buying a new home, in a lot of ways, can feel like the first major step in laying down the foundation for a long, happy life together.


Buying a home is a complicated process with a lot of opportunities to make costly mistakes. There’s no high school class to prepare you for buying a home but there probably should be. If you’re a first time homebuyer and you came across this article looking for advice, congratulations--you’re already doing the most important thing you can when making a big financial decision: the research.

In this article, we’ll cover some of the most common mistakes that first time homebuyers make when entering the real estate market. We’ll break it down by the three main phases of home-buying: saving for a home, hunting for a home, and signing a mortgage.

Saving for a home

One of the first lessons that all first time homeowners quickly learn is that being able to afford your monthly mortgage payments doesn’t mean you can afford a home. Many first time buyers are often coming from living situations where certain utilities are included (water, heat, electricity, etc.). Aside from those obvious expenses, there are also things like property tax and home insurance to budget for, both of which may increase. Finally, when you’re living in an apartment and your faucet breaks, you simply call the landlord. When you own a home, especially an older home, be prepared to spend on repairs and to start learning basic maintenance skills that will save you money.

The hunt for your first home

Now that you’re aware of the costs, it might be tempting to jump in and start looking at homes. Another common mistake first time homebuyers make is to waste time looking at homes before they’ve met with a real estate agent or have gotten pre-approved for a loan. Start there, then once you know the scope of your home search, you’ll have a much more relaxing hunt for your new home.

Another mistake that first time homebuyers make is to underestimate the time and commitment it takes to find a home. When you work with a real estate agent, make sure you are available at all times. Keep your phone nearby, stick to your schedule for viewing homes, and keep a list of each home you’re considering. Showing initiative and dedication won’t just help you stay organized, it will also show your agent and the home seller that you are worth their time.

Mortgage mistakes

One of the most common mistakes that buyers make when it comes to their mortgage is to fail to shop around for a lender. In fact, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau found that only half of all buyers considered more than one lender for their home.

Buyers, first time and repeat, often think their credit report is set in stone. What they don’t realize is that the three main credit Bureaus (Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion) can all make mistakes on your credit. Check your detailed credit reports and fix any errors long before applying for a mortgage to increase your chances of getting a good rate.

If you avoid these common mistakes and continue to do your research along the way, you should be able to save yourself some headaches and some money in the long term.


Many factors come into play when determining whether you can afford to buy a house. Since the monthly rent for an apartment is often close to what a mortgage payment would be, you can't help but wonder if your rent money would be better spent building equity in your own home.

While this is often the case, first-time home buyers often underestimate or overlook expenses that accompany home ownership. Although a mortgage broker or bank loan officer can help you calculate the maximum mortgage you can afford, here are a few tips to keep in mind as you weigh your options.

  • Create a detailed budget. By taking the time to figure out how your income stacks up to your monthly expenses, you can get a clearer picture of your financial situation. If you have a good credit score, a positive monthly cash flow, and enough funds to pay closing costs and a down payment, then home ownership may be a viable option. (Your credit score, which you can obtain once a year for free from the three main credit reporting companies, will have a major impact on both your interest rate and your monthly mortgage payments.)
  • Factor in other expenses: Figuring out your current budget is relatively easy, but predicting your future budget as a homeowner can be a lot more challenging. A big part of the equation will depend on the amount of property taxes and school taxes that will be tacked on to your mortgage costs. A real estate agent can provide you with those figures, as well as other information you need to calculate how affordable it would be to live in a particular house. They have access to a wide range of relevant information, such as utility expenses, water bills, and homeowner association fees (if there are any). Since property taxes sometimes cover the cost of services like garbage and yard waste collection, you may not have to factor in those items into your projected budget. Your real estate agent can help you come up with a rough estimate of home maintenance costs -- especially if they're familiar with the history of the home you're considering buying. As the process moves forward, a property inspector can provide you with more details about the condition of the home and whether any costly repairs are likely to be needed soon.
  • Home maintenance and furnishing costs: Other possible expenses to consider when estimating the cost of home ownership include yard maintenance, landscaping, HVAC service calls, electrician services, plumbing repairs, and homeowners' insurance. If you're a first-time home owner, there's also a good chance you'll need to buy some furniture to fill out those additional rooms!
  • Buying your first home definitely takes a lot of planning, budgeting, and research, but the rewards of owning your own home will more than justify the effort!



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