The Woods Team | Billerica Real Estate, Bedford Real Estate, Burlington Real Estate


You can ask any homeowner-buying and owning a home is expensive. Mortgage payments, property taxes, utilities, and other bills quickly add up.

If you want to buy a home but don’t have a large down payment saved, odds are you’ve discovered something called private mortgage insurance (PMI).

PMI is an extra monthly payment that you make (on top of your mortgage payment) when you don’t have enough to make a large (20%) down payment on your home.

However, if you want to buy a home and don’t want to tack on an extra monthly payment for PMI, you have options. In today’s post, I’m going to talk about some ways to avoid paying PMI on your mortgage so you can save more money in the long run.

PMI Basics

Before we talk about getting rid of PMI, let’s spend a minute on what to expect when you do have to pay it.

PMI typically costs 0.30% to %1.15% of your total loan balance annually. That means that your PMI payments will decrease a moderate amount as you pay off your loan.

Furthermore, once you have paid off 22% of your loan, your PMI will be cancelled and you’ll only be responsible for your regular monthly mortgage payments.

Getting PMI waived early

With conventional loans, you can request to have your PMI cancelled once you’ve paid off 20% of the mortgage. However, many buyers with PMI are using some form of first-time buyer loan, such as an FHA loan.

With an FHA loan, you’ll be stuck with PMI for the lifetime of the loan if you don’t make a down payment of 10% or more. That’s a lot of PMI payments, especially if you take out a 30 year loan, and it can quickly add up.

If you have an FHA loan with FHA insurance, the only way to cancel the insurance is to refinance into a non-FHA insured loan. And remember--refinancing has its own costs and complications.

Making it to the 20% repayment mark

On conventional loans, the best way to get rid of PMI is to reach your 20% repayment mark as soon as possible. That could mean aggressively paying off your mortgage until you reach that point.

This can be achieved by making extra payments, or just paying more each month. However, you don’t want to neglect other debt that could be accruing costly interest in favor of paying off your loans. Make sure you do the math and find out which debt will be more expensive before neglecting other debt.

Once you do reach the 20% repayment mark, you’ll have to remember to apply to have your PMI canceled with your lender. Otherwise, it will be canceled automatically at 22%.


When everything is online, it’s hard to discern when getting up, leaving the house, and checking out a home can be helpful. There’s so much information regarding real estate online; you probably want to pick and choose when and where you go to see a home. Even if you’re nowhere near being able to buy a home, you may want to check out open houses to help you in the future.


Looking at real estate is fun. You can dream of living in a neighborhood on the street you may never be able to afford. There are many advantages to checking out open houses. 


You’ll Understand How Far Your Dollar Will Stretch


The type of home that you can afford, and the type of home you want may not be in the same ballpark. If you take a look at different open houses, you may be able to see where your budget takes you. Even if the market changes, you’ll be able to match your expectations with your wallet. As you know what’s out there, you’ll be able to hone in on what you want in a home. 


From here, it will be easier to work with a real estate agent because you’ll be able to give them a better idea of what you want when the time does come to buy a home. 


It Will Be Easier To Hire An Agent


As you go to open houses, you’ll meet more real estate agents. These agents can become potential hires once you do get more serious about buying.


You’ll See The Market Firsthand


Besides understanding how much house you can get for your dollar, you’ll be able to get an idea of how many buyers are actually out there. If you’re seeing many other potential buyers at open houses, you may be facing quite a bit of competition when you head out to buy a home of your own. When the competition is high, you’re looking at offering above asking price for houses. You could even get into bidding wars. A lot of other buyers doesn’t mean you should back out of buying a home altogether, but just enter the market with caution. 


You Can Discover New Areas


By exploring open houses, you may find a neighborhood that you love that wasn’t on your list before. How can you get to know an area if you have never spent time there before? 


You’ll Learn Where You Need To Compromise


By looking at different houses, you can see the potential (or lack thereof) in many homes. If you can see where you’d be willing to compromise long before the home search is on, your search will be that much smoother   



Believe it or not, you don't need to be a homebuying expert to score a great deal on your dream residence. In fact, there are many things you can do to find and acquire a house that won't force you to break your budget, and these include:

1. Shop Around

When it comes to conducting a home search, it generally is a good idea to be thorough. If you search for residences in a variety of cities and towns, you can boost the likelihood of finding a home that you can afford.

Also, it is important to remember that scoring a great deal on a residence usually requires hard work and patience. If you perform lots of housing market research, you can gain deep insights into the real estate sector. You then may be able to use housing market insights to find ways to speed up the process of locating and purchasing your ideal home.

2. Get Pre-Approved for a Mortgage

If you have a mortgage in hand when you start your home search, you will be better equipped than other buyers to pounce at the opportunity to acquire a budget-friendly home.

Typically, it won't take long to get pre-approved for a mortgage. If you meet with myriad banks and credit unions, you can explore all of your home financing options. Then, you can select a mortgage and perform a home search with a budget at your disposal.

If you have questions about a mortgage, there is no need to worry, either. Banks and credit unions employ courteous, knowledgeable mortgage specialists who are happy to respond to your home financing queries. Therefore, these specialists can help you make an informed mortgage selection.

3. Collaborate with a Real Estate Agent

A real estate agent is a homebuying professional who will help you find a terrific house at an affordable price – without exception. He or she knows what it takes to perform an in-depth home search, and as such, will take the guesswork out of acquiring your dream residence.

In addition, a real estate agent offers comprehensive homebuying insights you may struggle to obtain elsewhere. If you are unsure about where to search for a home, for example, a real estate agent can help you hone your homebuying criteria. Or, if you are uncertain about how much to offer to acquire your dream residence, a real estate agent will help you submit a competitive homebuying proposal.

A real estate agent is available to assist you in any way possible as you navigate the homebuying journey, too. That way, you can get the help you need to seamlessly go from homebuyer to homeowner.

For those who want to purchase a first-rate house at an economical price, it helps to prepare for the homebuying journey. By using the aforementioned tips, you can move quickly to find a home that falls in line with your finances. As a result, you could accelerate your home search and acquire your ideal residence in no time at all.


Obtaining a mortgage can be overwhelming, particularly for a first-time homebuyer. Lucky for you, we're here to help you streamline the process of analyzing various mortgage options and choosing one that matches or exceeds your expectations.

Now, let's take a look at three tips to help first-time homebuyers secure the ideal mortgage.

1. Assess All of the Mortgage Options at Your Disposal

Both fixed- and adjustable-rate mortgages are available, and homebuyers who understand the pros and cons of these mortgage options may be better equipped than others to make the right mortgage decision.

A fixed-rate mortgage ensures a homebuyer will pay the same amount each month. For example, a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage enables a homebuyer to budget for monthly home payments over the course of three decades. And in many instances, a homebuyer may be able to pay off a fixed-rate mortgage early without penalty.

On the other hand, an adjustable-rate mortgage may start out with a lower monthly payment that escalates over the course of a few years. An adjustable-rate mortgage, for instance, may allow a homebuyer to acquire a home that surpasses his or her initial budget thanks to a lower initial monthly payment. However, after the first few years, the monthly mortgage payment may increase, and a homebuyer will need to plan accordingly.

Assess your mortgage options closely – you'll be glad you did. By doing so, you can boost your chances of selecting a mortgage that works well based on your current and future financial needs.

2. Evaluate Your Credit Score

Believe it or not, a first-time homebuyer's credit score may impact his or her ability to get the right mortgage. Fortunately, a first-time homebuyer can analyze his or her credit score without delay.

You can request a free copy of your credit report annually from each of the three credit reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion). Then, with your credit report in hand, you can better understand how potential lenders may view your mortgage application.

Of course, if you receive a copy of your credit report and find glaring errors, be sure to let the credit bureau know immediately. This will enable you to get any mistakes corrected and ensure these problems won't slow you down as you pursue your dream residence.

3. Consult with Potential Lenders

Although getting a mortgage may seem like an uphill climb at first, consulting with potential lenders may prove to be exceedingly valuable, especially for a first-time homebuyer.

Banks and credit unions employ friendly, knowledgeable staff who are happy to educate you about assorted mortgage options. These lenders can teach you about the ins and outs of various mortgage options at your convenience.

Lastly, if you need extra help in your search for the perfect mortgage, real estate agents may be able to offer assistance. These housing market professionals can provide honest, unbiased recommendations about lenders in your area so you can move one step closer to securing your ideal mortgage.

Ready to get a mortgage for the first time? Use these tips, and you can accelerate the process of obtaining a mortgage that suits you perfectly.


Buying a home is a very detail-oriented process, and there's a lot of important things you can overlook if you're not organized.

Home buyers generally have the opportunity to do a last-minute inspection of the premises to make sure everything's up to standards prior to closing on the property.

A real estate buyer's agent can accompany you on the final inspection or provide you with advice on what to look for.

If you've already visited the home a couple times and had the house professionally inspected, you're probably well-acquainted with any major malfunctions, flaws, or repair issues. In many cases, home buyers may reach an agreement with the seller to fix, replace, or make allowances for mechanical or cosmetic problems. While real estate negotiations and sales agreements are as varied as the people and properties involved, there are typically dozens of things buyers need to check on before they sign the final documents and accept ownership of the property.

Final Walkthrough Tips

As you're doing the final walk-through of the house, it's necessary to remember or have notes on the condition of the home when you last looked at it. You'll also want to have a clear idea of what appliances, fixtures, and window treatments are supposed to be remain in the house after it's been vacated by the seller. Depending on how close your final walk-through is to the actual closing, that has probably already happened.

If there's anything missing that the seller agreed to include in the sale, then that's an issue you'll want to discuss with your real estate agent or attorney. Any property damage that may have resulted from moving furniture and other belongings should also be discussed before final papers are signed. The same thing would apply to landscaping changes that appear to be inconsistent with the sales agreement. Your buyer's agent and/or lawyer can serve as intermediary in getting these issues clarified and ironed out.

To make sure your final inspection is thorough, it's a good idea to have a "final walk-through checklist" to help keep you organized and focused. You'll want to take a last-minute inventory of items that are supposed to be included with the property sale, such as appliances, lighting fixtures, furnishings, window treatments, children's play structures, hot tubs, and anything else that was agreed to in the sales contract.

Other items you'll need access to may include garage door openers, manuals for appliances and mechanical systems, warranties, invoices for repairs made, and remote control devices for things like ceiling fans, alarms, and other systems.

Your checklist and final walkthrough should focus on a variety of items, including the working condition of appliances, the electrical system, plumbing fixtures, and the condition of walls, floors, ceilings, doors, windows, and landscaping features. For a complete checklist, look online or consult your real estate agent.




Loading