Lynne Eliopoulos
ERA Key Realty Services | 508-832-1032 | [email protected]


Posted by Lynne Eliopoulos on 1/12/2020

A struggle that everyone faces is keeping priorities straight. As careers advance, families grow, and financial responsibilities increase, some priorities fall by the wayside.

One example of how that can happen is with home security. When you have your mind on twenty other things that need to be taken care of this week, it's easy to forget about consistently locking doors, turning on security lights at night, and being observant of suspicious activity or people in your neighborhood.

There are dozens of home security mistakes people make every day, most of which are the result of complacency or a lack of awareness. Probably one of the biggest security blunders many homeowners and renters make is broadcasting the fact that they're away from home, traveling, or planning to leave the house for any period of time.

In many cases, you may be unaware of security breaches you're creating. In an era in which nearly everyone has a social media presence, it's very common to let your guard down and announce on Facebook or another platform that you're planning to go to a high school reunion, a wedding, or a week-long vacation at a Florida theme park.

While sharing personal information on social media or blogs may be one way to keep in touch with friends and family, it's often safer to be a little vague about exact dates and times you're away from home. Once you've returned, there's certainly no harm in providing a full account of your travel adventures, but doing so beforehand can be a little risky -- especially if you haven't set your social media account settings to private

Forgetting to have your mail or newspaper delivery suspended for the duration of your absence is another way people inadvertently advertise the fact that their house is unoccupied. The ideal scenario is to have a trusted neighbor keep an eye on your home while you're gone. That enables them to report any trespassers or other suspicious activity to the police.

Even if you don't have mail or unread newspapers piling up in your mailbox, driveway, or front steps, there's still the chance that an unexpected package will be delivered and left out in the open for passersby to see. You can't always predict when a box, a catalog, or an advertisement is going to be left at your home, so it pays to have a friend, relative, or neighbor check on your house daily to remove any telltale signs that no one's home.

Perhaps the ultimate in home security is to have closed circuit cameras, monitored alarms, and/or a wireless security system installed in your home. Once you get the hang of it, being able to monitor and control different aspects of your home environment remotely can enhance your security, your safety, and your sense of well-being.





Posted by Lynne Eliopoulos on 1/5/2020

One of the best things that you can add to your home is a solar power system. These can be costly but they save you a lot in the long term on utility costs. While government programs have scaled back for these energy saving improvements over the years, thereís still many benefits to them. You can even get a loan specifically for installing solar power to your home.


Before you take the leap, youíll want to know for sure if solar will really add value to your home. Of course, you want a return on your investment. 


The good news is that thereís no doubt about it that installing solar panels does definitely add value to your home. Thereís one caveat to the value: You should own your   solar power system as opposed to leasing it through a solar company or a power purchase agreement. 


Homes that have solar panels sell for more money simply because they offer a definite return benefit to the future owner. 


Does A Leased Solar System Offer The Same Benefits?


Owning your solar system will save you more money in the long run than leasing your system. When you own a solar power system, the FHA requires that the total value of your solar system be added to the total value of your home when you go to sell it. If you lease the panels, this value cannot be added to the home during an assessment.   


If you have financed the system, the rules may be a bit more lenient. While you technically donít own the system, you are paying towards owning the system yourself. Each lender will have their own standards for this, so check with them for specifics, as your home must meet certain standards and eligibility requirements. 


Securing A Mortgage With A Leased Solar System


If someone is looking to secure a mortgage with a leased or currently unowned solar energy system, there are a few hurdles that you might face through the process. These problems include:


Solar lease payments must be included in the buyerís debt-to-income ratio. 

The panel owners must have a third-party insurance to cover damage to the property thatís being mortgaged in the event of malfunction or faulty installation of the panels.         


Solar Panels Are An Overall Great Investment


Itís really hard to go wrong if you purchase or finance your solar panel system. As long as you own the system, value will be added to your home. Youíll also save on your own utility bills. Your home will undoubtedly become more attractive to buyers if you decide to sell your home in the future.




Categories: Home Improvements  


Posted by Lynne Eliopoulos on 12/29/2019

If you've decided to put your home on the market, one important thing to keep in mind is that perception is everything -- or close to it, anyway!

The impression you make on prospective buyers can either help seal the deal or break it, depending on whether that impression is positive or negative.

The visual aspects of your home often have the strongest impact on what prospects think of your house, but three other senses can also influence buyer decisions.

The sense of smell: Without getting too specific, there are a variety of unpleasant odors that can quickly sour a prospect on the possibility of making an offer on your home. In many cases, there's justification for a sudden loss of interest. A musty smelling basement, crawlspace, or attic, for example, implies problems with water seepage, plumbing leaks, or mold. That musty odor is unpleasant and gives buyers the (accurate) impression that there are air quality issues in the house.

Pet odors can be another major turnoff, especially if the people touring your home have allergies or sensitivity to certain odors. Strong or artificial odors of any kind, including room deodorizers, overuse of commercial cleaning solutions, and scented garbage bags can also be objectionable and suggest that you're trying to cover up odors.

On the other hand, you've probably heard stories about home sellers and agents who create pleasing fragrances by brewing a fresh pot of coffee, baking a loaf of aromatic bread, or preparing a fresh batch of blueberry muffins or chocolate chip cookies shortly before a house tour is scheduled. While it may be impractical to do that every time, it is a strategy worth experimenting with! The simple act of infusing your kitchen with enticing aromas can help make your home more attractive, inviting, and appealing. Fresh flowers are another nice touch that can enhance the ambiance of your home.

The sense of touch: Probably the main thing you would want to avoid in this category would be allowing countertops or floors to feel sticky, gritty, or wet to the touch! Many people will take notice of how clean (or unclean) your house looks, smells, and feels, and they will undoubtedly deduct "points" if countertops, bathroom fixtures, and floors aren't immaculate. Perfection is not necessary, but the appearance of cleanliness is! As mentioned earlier: Perception is everything!

The sense of hearing: Some noises you can fix; others are beyond your control. Squeaky hinges and dripping faucets are a relatively easy fix, while street noises, barking dogs, and loud neighbors are much more difficult -- if not impossible -- to regulate!

The bottom line, of course, is to control what you can, put your best foot forward, and hope for the best when it comes to noises in the neighborhood!





Posted by Lynne Eliopoulos on 12/22/2019

There are a number of programs, government-sponsored and otherwise, that are designed to help aspiring homeowners find and get approved for a mortgage that works for them.

Among these are first-time homeowner loans insured by the Housing and Urban Development Department, mortgages and loans insured by the USDA designed to help people living in urban and rural areas, and VA loans, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.


In todayís post, Iím going to give you a basic rundown of VA loans, who is eligible for them, and how to apply for one. That way youíll feel confident knowing youíre getting the best possible deal on your home mortgage.


What is a VA Loan?

VA loans can provide soon-to-be homeowners who have served their country with low-interest rates and no private mortgage insurance (PMI).

If youíre hoping to buy a home soon and donít have at least a 20% down payment, you typically have to take out private mortgage insurance. This means paying an extra insurance bill on top of your monthly mortgage payments. The downside of PMI is that it never turns into equity that you can then use when you decide to move again or sell your home.

Loans that are guaranteed by the VA donít require PMI because the bank knows your loan is a safer investment than if it wasnít guaranteed

VA loans may also help you secure a lower interest rate, or give you some negotiating power when it comes to discussing your interest rate.

Finally, VA loans set limits on the number of closing costs you can pay in your mortgage. And, if youíve ever bought a home before, youíll know how quickly closing costs can add up.

Who is eligible?

There are some common misconceptions about who can apply for a VA loan? So, weíll cover all the bases of eligibility.

If you meet one of the following criteria, you may be eligible for a VA loan:


  • Youíve served 90 consecutive days during wartime

  • Youíve served 181 days during peacetime

  • Youíve served six or more years in the Reserves or National Guard

  • Your spouse died due to their work in the military

There are some restrictions to these eligibilities. For example, your chosen lender may still have credit score minimums.

Applying for a VA Loan

There are two main steps for applying for a VA Loan. First, youíll have to ensure your eligibility. You can do this by checking the VAís official website. Be sure to call them with any questions you may have.

Next, youíll need a certificate of eligibility. The easiest way to acquire one is through your chosen lender.  If you havenít chosen a lender, you can also apply online through the eBenefits portal, or by mailing in a paper application.

Once you have a certificate, you can apply for your mortgage and youíll be on your way to buying a home.





Posted by Lynne Eliopoulos on 12/15/2019

Buying a home is a decision that could have a major impact on your life for the next five to ten years (if not longer). That's why it's extremely important to know your requirements and what you need to be happy.

If you're in the process of looking for a house to buy, it pays to do an analysis of your financial resources, your goals, and your desired lifestyle.

For example, if expanding your family is part of your five-year-plan, you'll want to make sure the home you buy has enough bedrooms, play areas, and safety features to meet your future needs. The broad category of "safety features" could cover everything from the neighborhood crime rate to the amount of road traffic the street is subject to. Proximity to emergency services is also among the many things to consider when shopping for a new home.

Choosing an experienced real estate agent to help you navigate the many challenges of house hunting will increase the probability that the property you choose will be a good fit for your needs. A bank loan officer or mortgage broker can assist you in determining the type of mortgage you can afford and be approved for.

Other than affordability, sufficient space, and safety considerations, here are a few other items to keep in mind as you shop for your next home.

  • Commuting distance: Finding the ideal house that is located less than a half an hour from your business or place of employment can be difficult. That challenge becomes even greater if both you and your partner commute to work every day.
  • Number of bathrooms: Some homes only have one bathroom, which can quickly become a source of conflict and frustration in growing families. Making sure your home has enough bathrooms to meet your current and future needs is a key priority for all house hunters.
  • Miscellaneous requirements: Depending on your lifestyle and other factors, your home-buying priority list could include everything from a two-car garage and basement to a backyard patio and deck. If privacy is high on your must-have list, features like fencing, privacy hedges, and sufficient space between neighbors will also be important. Other items to consider may include a fireplace, space for a home office, and an eat-in kitchen.
There are literally dozens of characteristics, features, and advantages to look for when house shopping, so it pays to create a detailed list of everything you want, hope for, and can't live without! While it may be necessary to be flexible with certain items on your list, things like a good school district, a safe neighborhood, and house that's structurally sound and in good condition are requirements you may not want to waver from!