A running list of the most affordable and most expensive cities for renters in Eastern Mass.

A running list of the most affordable and most expensive cities for renters in Eastern Mass.

From Boston.com & Globe.com

A running list of the most affordable and most expensive cities for renters in Eastern Mass. by Realestate.boston.com

April 4, 2019 11:57 am

Cambridge continues its reign as the most expensive Eastern Massachusetts city for renters, according to a new report, with Boston, Brookline, and Somerville not far behind.

The least expensive rents can be found in Fall River, Lawrence, and Brockton, in that order, but Fall River saw the largest year-over-year increase — up 15.1 percent, according to the Zumper real estate site. Framingham was the second-fastest growing, and Worcester was third.

Here’s how 16 cities stacked up for the cost of renting a one-bedroom apartment and the percentage change year over year:

April 2019

1  Cambridge $2,490    0.8%2  Boston $2,420    5.2%3  Brookline $2,400    3.4%4  Somerville $2,150    3.4%5  Waltham $2,120    5%6  Medford $2,060    3%7  Newton   $2,000    4.2%8 Quincy $1,860   -1.6%9 Framingham   $1,710    8.2%10  Malden $1,660    0.6%11 Haverhill $1,410   -13.%12  Lowell  $1,410   -5.4%13  Worcester $1,330    5.6%14  Brockton $1,310   -3.7%15 Lawrence $1,210 -13.6%16  Fall River $1,070   15.1%

March 2019

1  Cambridge $2,500    0.8%2  Boston $2,400    4.3%3  Brookline $2,350    0.9%4  Waltham $2,120    10.4%5  Somerville $2,100    5%6  Medford $1,960    0%7  Newton   $1,940    3.7%8 Quincy $1,930    7.2%9  Framingham   $1,670    3.7%10  Malden $1,650    0%11  Lowell  $1,420    -2.1%12  Haverhill $1,400    -9.7%13  Worcester $1,330    7.3%14 Lawrence $1,270    -11.8%15  Brockton $1,250    -3.8%16  Fall River $1,090    16%

February 2019

1  Cambridge $2,470    -0.4%2  Boston $2,390   3.93  Brookline $2,350    0.4%4  Waltham $2,120   15.8%5  Somerville $2,100    5%6  Medford $2,060    6.2%7Quincy $1,930    12.9%8 Newton $1,900    -3.6%9 Framingham   $1,650    3.1%10  Malden $1,630    -3%11Haverhill $1,470    -0.7%12  Lowell $1,410    2.2%13 Lawrence $1,340   -3.6%14Worcester $1,330    -12.7%15  Brockton $1,190    -10.5%16  Fall River $1,040    15.6%

January 2019

1  Cambridge$2,500  0.4%2  Boston$2,420  5.2%3  Brookline$2,370  1.3%4  Medford$2,170  11.3%5  Waltham$2,120  15.8%6 Somerville$2,090  6.1%7 Quincy$2,030 14.7%8  Newton$1,900  1.1%9  Framingham  $1,720  11%10  Malden$1,610  -5.3%11  Haverhill$1,550  6.9%12  Lowell$1,390  3%13  Worcester$1,330  15.7%14   Lawrence $1,280  -7.2%15  Brockton$1,250  -3.8%16  Fall River$990  12.5%

December 2018

1  Cambridge$2,500  4.2%2  Boston$2,450  7.9%3  Brookline$2,380  3.9%4  Waltham$2,180  16%5  Medford$2,170  10.7%6 Somerville$2,100  8.8%7 Quincy$1,990 10.6%8  Newton$1,900  3.8%9  Framingham  $1,700  8.3%10  Malden$1,600  -5.9%11  Haverhill$1,590  4.6%12  Lowell$1,390  4.5%13  Worcester$1,330  15.7%14  Brockton $1,240  -6.8%15 Lawrence$1,220  -8.3%16  Fall River$940  8%

November 2018

1  Cambridge$2,510  4.6%2  Boston$2,480  10.2%3  Brookline$2,400  4.8%4  Waltham$2,290  15.7%5  Somerville$2,100  5%6  Medford$2,070  8.9%7  Quincy$1,940  9%8  Newton$1,900  0.5%9  Framingham  $1,660  7.1%10  Malden$1,650  -2.9%11  Haverhill$1,510  4.1%12  Lowell$1,460  7.4%13  Worcester$1,330  15.7%14  Brockton$1,180  -8.5%15  Lawrence$1,160  -9.4%16  Fall River$990  11.2%


What not to do when selling your home

What not to do when selling your home

By Kathy Orton April 29 at 6:30 AM

Selling a home can be complicated. The process is like no other financial transaction most people will make. Too often, sellers sabotage the sale of their home by making easily avoidable mistakes.

With the help of real estate agents and title insurers, we have collected a list of typical blunders sellers make. Avoid them, and you’ll be well on your way to a smooth sale.

Don’t let your feelings about your house influence your perception of the buyer’s offer. (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Letting ego or emotion affect the sale

“I explain to sellers that as emotional as selling can be, when the decision is made to sell their home, it is now a product for sale just as any other product, and they have to do their best to emotionally separate themselves and not get their feelings hurt if an offer comes in less than their desired amount,” said Dee Dee Miller, an agent with Long and Foster and secretary of the Maryland Realtors Association. “Sellers need to remember to focus on the end result. They sometimes get too hung up on the little details and miss the big picture. Carrying costs for additional time on market with regular home maintenance and mortgage, taxes and insurance sometimes is more than accepting the lower offer.”

Overlooking extra fees at closing

The increase in affiliated business arrangements and marketing service agreements has had a negative impact on seller fees, says Joe Gentile, president of Federal Title & Escrow.

“Because these arrangements call for a kickback or sharing of proceeds from the title company to their affiliated real estate broker, title companies that engage in this activity need to charge higher fees to be able to afford the kickback,” Gentile said. “Since sellers don’t typically inquire about fees, the easiest place to charge more is on the seller side.”

ADVERTISING

Ask whether the buyer is using a title company affiliated with the buyer’s agent brokerage. If so, the seller should insist on a nonaffiliated title company to protect their interests. Before signing the contract, ask for a written quote for seller’s fees from the title company.

Well-placed furniture and soothing colors helps buyers imagine themselves in the home. (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Not staging a home

All homes can benefit from staging, whether they are studio condos or lavish mansions.

“Sellers often underestimate the power of furnishings and staging,” said Steve Centrella, an agent with Redfin. “Even spacious rooms can be hard to appreciate when cluttered with the owner’s knickknacks and personal effects. You want the buyer to be able to walk in and easily envision their life in the home.”

Some sellers go to the extreme and take all their furnishings out of a house.

“An empty home presents a different challenge in that it’s difficult to gauge the space and how it lives,” Centrella said. “Ironically, empty homes often seem smaller than properties staged with appropriately sized furnishings. Properties that have a unique layout or open-concept spaces benefit the most from staging because they give buyers a plan for how the space can be used. We recently had a property that was listed vacant and sat on the market for several weeks. We relisted with staging and immediately received multiple offers.”

Putting bad photos

of your house online

“Professional photos are the expectation of today’s buyer,” says Sharron Jones, an agent with Weichert Realtors. “Their time is valuable, and they want to see a lot of photos to help them narrow their choices. Properties with either no photos or poor photos often do not even get seen by buyers.”

Photos are one of the best marketing tools for a house.

“Professional photos create more interest in a property for sale,” Jones said. “More interest leads to more prospective buyers and more excitement. Most importantly, more excitement creates the best offer for a seller.”

Poorly shot photos are worse than no photos.

“It is discouraging to see dark photos, fuzzy photos, or photos that show a cluttered house with clothes on the bed or toiletries all over the bathroom vanities,” Jones said.

Selling your home yourself can have costly consequences. (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Trying to sell the house yourself

“While sellers choose to go the [For Sale By Owner] route to avoid paying commissions, many don’t realize they are losing the guidance and advocacy an agent will provide,” says Tim Kelly Kiernan, an agent with Re/Max Excellence. “It is a Realtor’s job to represent the best interest of the buyer and negotiate on their behalf before, during and after the sale. While selling may seem easier, it’s important to have a knowledgeable guide who understands the process forwards and backwards.”

Sellers tend to over-estimate the price of their homes. (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Pricing your home too high

“Buyers are extraordinarily well educated in today’s market,” said David Orso, an agent with Compass. “There’s no fooling a buyer. They have all the historical data. They have access to tax records. They know what you paid for the property. A seller needs to fundamentally understand they are dealing with a very educated party in the negotiation.”

Buyers read into a seller’s list price. If it is too high, the inference is that the sellers are unreasonable, or they owe too much on their house.

“You are signaling to the market negatively when you overprice,” Orso said. “The seller might think: ‘It’s okay. They can just make me an offer.’ Buyers just don’t do that.”

If a seller misprices a house, the number of days on market can work against him. Buyers will wonder why the house hasn’t sold.

“They don’t want to be the idiot that bought a house that nobody else wanted,” Orso said.

Make the most of your home improvements. (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Failing to make necessary repairs

“Whatever [improvements] you do, you want it to be emotionally pleasing,” said Dan Rochon, an agent with Keller Williams. “The goal here is to make sure that when we list your property, we attract to the emotions of buyers. Pay particular attention to things like the landscaping, the front door and the driveway to create that dynamic first impression.”

But before you spend a lot of money renovating your house, consult with a real estate agent to make sure you are spending your money wisely.

“I once met with a seller that just finished investing $35,000 into their home to prepare it for sale before meeting with me,” Rochon said. “Unfortunately, they spent it on all of the areas that did not get them a high return, such as replacing all mechanicals and roofing while they neglected the outdated 1950s kitchen and bathrooms. As the items that they did improve were in functional repair, they could have better benefited from enhancing the areas that would best attract a buyer, such as improving the landscape and updating the kitchen and bathrooms.”

Failing to disclose a defect

Although it varies by state — the District and Maryland require more disclosures than Virginia — sellers are generally required to disclose to buyers the condition of the house and any material defects, which could include structural components such as the roof, operating conditions of the HVAC and drainage problems on the property.

“It’s always smarter to disclose,” said Sherri Anne Green, an agent with Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage. “Be very upfront, very forthcoming. Most of the time, buyers are savvy.”

A seller doesn’t have to disclose if a crime was committed in the home, such as a murder, or if there’s a ghost haunting the house. But it’s best not to hide what you know.

“Anything that can be shared that helps the buyer feel comfortable with the purchase is really positive,” she said.

Failure to disclose a defect can have harsh ramifications.

“You can be held liable,” Green said. “Two worst-case scenarios — the buyer could cancel the contract potentially, and then depending on the situation, the buyer may seek legal counsel.”

Content taken from Kathy Orton - https://www.washingtonpost.com/realestate/8-mistakes-to-avoid-when-selling-your-home/2019/04/24/f0b5f022-5b00-11e9-9625-01d48d50ef75_story.html?noredirect=on&utm_term=.73f1917213ae

Report: Apartment rents are climbing and poised to go higher

From Real Estate by Boston.com & Globe.com
Report: Apartment rents are climbing and poised to go higher
http://realestate.boston.com/renting/2019/04/13/apartment-rents-are-climbing/

Associated Press

April 13, 2019 7:00 am

It’s a great time to be a landlord in America, not so much if you’re a renter.

Apartment rents are continuing to rise this year, fueled by higher demand from millennials looking for a place of their own, strong job growth, and rising wages. The US median rent climbed 3.4 percent in March from a year earlier to $1,535, according to data from online rental housing portal HotPads.

While apartment construction surged in the years after the housing bust, it hasn’t kept up with demand, giving landlords the upper hand. Years of rising home prices, meanwhile, have made it more difficult for many would-be home buyers to save up for a down payment.

‘‘Even though mortgage rates are sliding a little bit and are lower than the historical average, you still have a huge amount of people who are not able to afford homes right now,’’ said Joshua Clark, an economist at HotPads. ‘‘That’s keeping people renting, and that’s going to keep people competing against each other for the same units.’’

The national median rent has risen annually since at least December 2012, the earliest data available from HotPads.

That trend has developed against the backdrop of a steady increase in rental households and a sharp decline in the homeownership rate for much of the past two decades.

The number of renter-occupied US housing units climbed from a low of around 32.9 million in 2004 to a high of about 44.08 million in 2016. It’s been mostly flat ever since, reaching around 43.11 million at the end of last year, according to census data.

At the same time, the nation’s homeownership rate has tumbled from a high of 69 percent in 2004. It bottomed out at 63.4 percent in 2016 and has since crept higher, reaching 64.4 percent last year.

HotPads’ March report shows rents are rising in all of the nation’s top 50 most populous metropolitan areas.

Phoenix notched the biggest gain, with its median rent vaulting 6.7 percent from a year earlier to $1,520. On the opposite end of the scale, the median rent in Houston rose just 1.3 percent in March to $1,585. New York’s median rent also rose slightly, increasing 1.5 percent to $2,380.

‘‘A year ago, the country was experiencing slowing rental markets and tighter for-sale markets,’’ Clark said. ‘‘Today, most of the country is experiencing the opposite.’’

Steady job growth and demographic trends, namely more of the younger millennials coming of age and seeking to move out on their own, are expected to continue to drive more demand for rental housing, pushing rents higher.

‘‘What I’m confident about right now is that over the next few months we’re going to see rents continue to rise,’’ Clark said. ‘‘The fact that we have been accelerating in these winter months a little bit, that’s a really strong signal that we’re going to have higher rent appreciation this year than last year.’’

7 Ways to invest in Yourself

7 Ways to invest in Yourself

7 Ways to
Invest in Yourself

According to personal development legend Jim Rohn, “to have
more than you’ve got, become more than you are.” That’s
where personal growth comes in. Personal development
includes activities that help you improve your hard and soft
skills, cultivate your talents and tap into your potential so you
can improve your overall quality of life. These aren’t one-time
activities; they involve a commitment you make to continue to
learn and grow in every stage of your life. Here’s how:
1. Take a class or seminar. Learning doesn’t need to stop
once you’ve graduated. Signing up for a class or seminar, either
online or in-person, gives you the opportunity to learn and grow
outside of the traditional confines of school. Enroll for a
workshop or webinar provided by a professional organization you
belong to or a personal interest or hobby group you enjoy.
Websites such as Coursera, Udemy and Skillshare allow you
to learn new skills and improve the ones you have.
2. Read. The most successful people carve time out of their days
to read. Not only does reading increase your knowledge, it also
improves your memory, vocabulary and focus, while sharpening
your analytical skills and reducing stress. Get recommendations
from friends or co-workers or check out the best-seller lists from
The New York Times or your local bookstore.
3. Watch a video. Many of us spend our evenings
relaxing in front of the television. Optimize your time and
watch a video from a leading personal development
expert, or expert in your field, and you’ll not only learn,
you’ll also become motivated to make lasting positive
changes in your life and at work. Also, watch inspirational
films that will leave you feeling uplifted and encouraged.
4. Listen to a podcast. Podcasts are a popular way to
listen and learn anywhere, whether you’re getting ready
for work, driving to the office or jogging on the treadmill
at the gym. There’s a podcast to fit all of your needs and
interests, whether you want to keep up on current
events, take charge of your finances, take your career to
the next level or enhance your spirituality.

5. Join a group or organization that allows you to
connect with other like-minded people who are committed to
growing personally or professionally. In addition to
networking, these organizations also provide opportunities to
take work-shops and classes, find a mentor and look for new
professional opportunities in your field.
6. Get a mentor. If you want to get ahead in your career, a
mentor can help you improve your self-confidence, tap into your
potential and find balance in your life. Since they don’t have a
personal stake in your success, they’ll provide unbiased
feedback as they share their experiences and offer tips and
encouragement to help you thrive. Find a mentor through your
professional organization or ask someone in your company or
industry who models the traits you’d like to hone and/or has
achieved the level of success you’d like to reach.
7. Volunteer. Volunteering is a great way to give back to your
community while refining skills and traits, such as team-work,
empathy and communication. In addition to improving existing
talents, you may also learn new skills to apply in your line of
work. If you’re starting a new career or have moved to a new

area, volunteering allows you to get experience and expand your
network. Serving others not only nurtures positive feelings, it also
lowers the risk of depression and reduces stress.
© 2017 Buffini & Company. All Rights Reserved. Used by Permission. RMMK MAY S

Why Commit
to Personal
Growth?

Discover your purpose. Your purpose helps give your life and
goals meaning. When you commit to learning, you’ll discover your
strengths, improve your skills and find what makes you happy. For
example, you may discover you feel invigorated teaching others. With
this in mind, you can find or create opportunities to express your
purpose, whether it’s teaching a lunchtime workshop at your office or
coordinating a new youth program within your community.

Gain clarity and focus. It’s easy to feel adrift, especially if you’re
unhappy or frustrated with certain areas of your life. For example, if
you’re burdened by debt, you may lose sight of your goal to get out of
debt. Commitment to learning helps you focus on the things you need
to do to achieve your goals. If your goal is to get your financial house
in order, focus your growth on resources that help you get out of debt
and improve your financial security.
Become more resilient. Life can change in an instant, and the
most resilient people are able to recover from challenges or setbacks
they face. When life throws you a curve ball, a commitment to learning
will help you deal with it effectively, and even grow from it, because
you’ll have developed confidence in your skills and expertise. You’ll feel
empowered and in control over your actions and decisions.
Improve your attitude. Studies show the more optimistic
you are, the more successful you’ll be.* Why? Optimistic people
feel their actions and habits will impact their success. Their
sunny disposition makes them feel more in control of their lives.
Since they tend to be happier than their more negative peers,
people like them and want to see them succeed.

*Source: Goodthink.com

Low on time?
Download a podcast.
Podcasts are becoming a popular way to learn and get inspired. Listen to one of these great
podcasts during your commute, at the gym or whenever you have some down time.
The Brian Buffini Show
Master motivator and real estate
legend, Brian Buffini, shares
timeless tips for personal growth
and success in business and life.
The Dave Ramsey Show
Financial expert, Dave Ramsey, offers
strategies to get out of debt, build
wealth and attain financial freedom.

The Ziglar Show
Hosts Tom Ziglar (son of world-
renowned motivational speaker Zig
Ziglar) and Kevin Miller offer powerful
insights to inspire listeners to make
positive changes in their lives.
TED Radio Hour
Leading experts in a variety of fields
share their fascinating ideas, tips and
stories centered on a common theme,
such as happiness and innovation.

Stuff You Should Know
Satisfy your curiosity about how
the world works, from making
ice cream to understanding
geothermal

Spotting Talent

FROM ALICIA'S TRAINING

HIRING TALENT

- Do you have someone who just gives you solutions or just brings you the problems?

- Never settle for someone who gives you pieces of your job back; get someone who shares in your goals and vision to get the job done.

- Make sure you have someone who knows what they want or is always looking for it; don't get stuck with someone who always seems lost.

- Wouldn't you love to have someone on your team who pushes you, challenges your thinking, and always wants to raise the bar?

- Require that your people associate themselves without Talented individuals so that they're always attracting more talent.

- Talent isn't afraid to fail. The quicker they fail, the quicker they grow.

 

RETAINING TALENT

- Be aware that the people around you follow your intensity.

- Never stop pouring into your people.

- Know when your team members need recovery time.

- Putting people in the right roles is key; even talented people can only stretch so far and will eventually snap when the pressure is high if they aren't in the right role.

- A good match to a role maximizes a person's strengths and they are in the best position to succeed.

- Constantly gauge your Talent's level of engagement and productivity.

- Find your talent the right coach to help them grow.

Thinking of Buying a Home? Don't! Not until you read this.

Thinking of Buying a Home? Don't! Not until you read this.

Conventional Mortgage Fannie Mae & Freddie Mac

1, 2, 3, and 4 unit properties and condo

3% down payment (dp)

3% seller concession DP <10%

3% seller concession DP >10%

9% seller concession DP 25% or greater

Investment property purchase is 2% seller concession

 

MassHousing

1, 2, 3, and 4 unit properties and condo

Up to 100% Financing (SFR Only)

3% Seller concession DP <10%

6% Seller concession DP >10%

Income limits, other restrictions apply

 

MassHousing Down Payment Assistance Program - for qualified first-time home buyers

DPA loan up to 3% of the purchase price, up to $12,000

1% interest rate on the down payment assistance loan for 15 years

Can be used to purchase a single-family home, condo, or unit in a planned unit development (PUD)

DPA second mortgage is due upon sale or refinance. Subordinations are not allowed.

MassHousing is making down payment assistance loans available to first-time homebuyers with annual household incomes at or below the area median income, using MassHousing financing to purchase a single-family home or condo unit. The area median income varies by country. Eligible households will earn $103,400 or less in eastern Massachusetts, $85,700 in Worcester County, and $67,200 in Berkshire County.

Homebuyers accessing down payment assistance must still meet MassHousing’s underwriting criteria, including minimum credit score and debt-to-income qualifications, and attend a homeownership education class.

 *The information provided is subject to change at anytime. For more information on this program please consult one of our mortgage partners or go to www.masshousing.com.

 

USDA United States Department of Agriculture

Single family only up to 100% financing

Up to 6% Seller concession

Cannot own any other properties

Income and Geographic limits apply

 

FHA

1, 2, 3, and 4 unit properties

Condo must be FHA approved

3.5% down payment

Up to 6% seller concession

VA U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

1, 2, 3, and 4 unit properties and condo

Closing cost may be paid by the seller

Up to 4% seller concession

No private mortgage insurance

Co-borrower must be spouse.

 

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Worcester Airport Update

You can now fly into 5, that’s right 5 cities direct from Worcester airport. There are a lot more city’s you can fly into with connecting flights, so be sure to check before booking Logan or TFGreen.

1. Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport in Detroit

Airline: Delta Air Lines

Frequency: Once a day, beginning in August

2. Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

Airline: JetBlue

Frequency: Once a day

3. John F. Kennedy International Airport in Queens, N.Y.

Airline: JetBlue

Frequency: Once a day

4. Orlando International Airport in Orlando

Airline: JetBlue

Frequency: Once a day

5. Philadelphia International Airport in Philadelphia

Airline: American Airlines

Frequency: Twice a day

HELP - Actively looking for a Transaction Coordinator

Do you have a passion for being prepared, supporting a team by anticipating their needs, and working on many types of duties in a fast-paced environment? Are you glue? The right hand? The person who is behind the scenes making sure the trains run on time? Do you thrive in an environment where you are supportive, positive, and making a powerful difference in a team's productivity?

Busy real estate team seeks a Transaction Coordinator/Executive Assistant who wants to learn, grow, and execute!

You must have the following abilities:

- Exceptional organizational skills, initiative, and a quick learning ability

- Strong computer skills (all Office software, database management, social media skills, familiarity with Google Apps)

- Strong written and verbal communication skills

- Ability to prioritize work in a time-sensitive environment

- Excellent attention to detail

- Positive, friendly, and supportive attitude

- Ability to work independently in a team environment

- Ability to maintain confidentiality

You must be:
- Personally accountable

- Positive, friendly, and supportive

- Adept at self-management

- Excellent at planning and organizing

- A continuous learner who is interested in growth

Some of your daily duties will include: managing client communication, managing multiple email boxes and social media sites, working towards deadlines, entering client information into our database, preparing new client folders and paperwork, as well as managing leads and listings.

This role will begin as part-time and for the right candidate, can grow into a full-time position on our growing team. Growth opportunity to take on listing management and other roles. This is not the position for someone who just wants to get their foot in the door for sales (contact us anyway and we can help with you that another way).

Polar Beverages, Harpoon Brewery reportedly teaming up on new line of hard seltzer

By Aviva Luttrell | aluttrell@masslive.com

If you’ve ever dreamt of sipping on alcoholic versions of your favorite Polar Seltzer flavors, you’re in luck.

The Worcester-based company is reportedly partnering with Harpoon Brewery to release a new line of hard seltzers. Harpoon CEO and co-founder Dan Kenary told Brewbound that four flavors — Ruby Red Grapefruit, Pineapple Pomelo, Raspberry Lime and Black Cherry — will hit liquor store shelves in late April.

“We had an opportunity to work with the leading seltzer brand in our market,” he told the website. “We are using their flavors in these seltzers, and they will be more highly carbonated – something that Polar is known for.”

Brewbound reported that the flavors will be sold in six-packs and variety 12-packs across the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic markets. They come in at 5 percent alcohol by volume.

Kenary told the website that the base liquid will be made at Harpoon’s facility in Boston and shipped to Polar’s factory in Worcester for carbonation and flavoring.

Polar and Harpoon Brewery team up to create 'berry limited' UFO Blueberry Lemonade Beer

Two well-known Massachusetts beverage companies have teamed up to create the ultimate — but "berry limited" — summer drink.

This is the second time Harpoon and Polar have partnered on a beverage. Last spring, they teamed up to create a UFO Blueberry Lemonade beer.

The limited-edition beverage, described as a “Hefeweizen brewed with the essence of Polar Blueberry Lemonade,” came in at 4.8 percent ABV.

The Benefits of Great Credit (and how to boost yours)

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Whether you want a loan to make a large purchase or you’re applying for a job, a high credit score may give you an advantage. It not only helps you secure a lower interest rate and save money over the life of your loans, it also demonstrates to lenders and potential employers that you’re financially responsible, and likely responsible in other areas of your life. Financial institutions and employers put their trust in this score and are more inclined to trust you if you’re a low-risk candidate.

1.) Lower interest rates on loans and credit cards.

Lenders consider people with great credit a good risk, meaning they’re confident the borrower will pay back the money. If you’re applying for a mortgage, good credit may get you a wider range of mortgage offers. One or two percentage points in interest may save you tens of thousands of dollars over the life of the loan.

2.) Leverage to negotiate lower credit card interest rates.

The higher your score, the more bargaining power you may have when negotiating interest rates. Why? Your credit card company does not want to lose your business and they will often lower your finance rate. You need to ask! Additionally, you may be able to cite other offers you’ve received from companies based on your score, which may help you negotiate a better deal and save money.

3.) Qualify for lines of credit.

If you need to make a large purchase, such as new appliances or furniture, good credit helps you qualify for a line of credit to buy them.

4.) Qualify for higher limits.

With a strong history of repaying your debt on time, banks may be willing to lend you more money and, if asked, will often increase your credit limit.

5.) Rental approval.

If you’re renting a home or apartment, a good credit score increases your chances of securing your ideal location. Landlords use credit scores to screen their tenants’ payment history, delinquencies and charge offs. This is also true if you’re renting a vacation home. Many agencies will run a credit check and, if your credit is good, you may be able to negotiate fees and lower rates.

6.) Better insurance rates.

A great credit score could lower your auto insurance rate. According to many insurance companies, people with bad credit are more likely to file claims. A good score may lower your premium and lock you into a better rate.

7.) Gain employment.

Many employers are checking the credit of their applicants. If you have good credit, you are seen as more responsible than applicants with lower credit scores.

8.) Avoid security deposits.

Utilities and cell phone providers often require a security deposit when you sign up for service. With good credit, you may not have to pay a deposit when you sign up for service or, in the case of utilities, transfer to another location.

How to Increase Your Credit Score: Great credit is within reach, if you follow these timeless tips.

Always pay your bills on time.
This simple act each month will build great financial habits that will pay off over the long run.

Keep your balances low.
Credit issuers often report your balance to the credit agencies on a certain date, typically the last day of your billing cycle. Consider paying all or part of your bill before the closing date (call your credit issuers to find out the specific date) so the issuer will report a lower or zero balance. Also, ask your issuer if they accept multiple payments during the month to help you maintain a lower balance and still earn rewards.

Maintain a credit utilization ratio of less than 30 percent.
Simply put, your balances make up 30 percent of the total amount of credit available to you. If you’d like to increase your credit score faster, lower your credit utilization ratio to less than 10 percent.

Tackle your debt.
Start with the highest interest rate card or loan. Once that debt is gone, pay down the balance with the next highest interest rate. Continue the process until you’ve paid off all your existing credit card and loan debt.

Avoid using your credit cards to pay for large purchases.
While credit cards make it easy and convenient to buy what you want, the compound interest can add up quickly and work against you if you don’t pay the balance off in a timely manner.

Good Financial Habits to Cultivate Now

Check your credit report. Once, every year, you’re entitled to a free credit report from all three credit agencies via annualcreditreport.com. Be sure to save all three reports and review thoroughly. If you notice any inaccurate information, report it immediately to your credit agency.

Set up automatic payments. If you have trouble remembering when bills are due, set up automatic payments. Or, if you prefer to pay all of your monthly bills at a specific time, set up payment reminders to help you remember due dates.

If you’re young or have a short credit history, avoid opening several new accounts at once.
Opening multiple accounts in a short amount of time may lower your score. Also, if you’re rate shopping, lump it into a single inquiry. Several new inquiries into your credit can count against you.

It’s never too late to repair your credit. If you have to start over due to bankruptcy, be diligent about opening new accounts and continue to make your payments on time. This will help you rebuild your good credit history.

© 2018 Buffini & Company. All Rights Reserved. Used by Permission.

Boost Credit Score Regardless of your Age

Credit scores are important. Many people are taking more time to review their scores and finding ways to improve them, especially younger consumers who typically have lower credit scores.. Why is that the case? The information below delves into this topic and outlines ways for consumers to increase their credit score.

It’s never been easier to learn more about your credit score and history. As a result, people’s scores are higher than ever. Age is an advantage with older Americans having higher credit scores than younger ones. VantageScore, which was created by the credit reporting agencies Experian, TransUnion and Equifax, details this trend. The VantageScore ranges from 300 to 850, with 850 signifying exceptional credit.

Average VantageScore by generation

730 – Silent Generation (born between 1925 and 1946)

700 – Baby Boomers (born between 1947 and 1966)

655 – Generation X (born between 1967 and 1981)

634 – Millennials (born between 1982 and 1995)

631 – Generation Z (born 1996 and later)

Source: Creditcards.com

There are many reasons why older consumers have better credit score averages than younger consumers.

• A long credit history contributes to a higher score. While amounts owed and diversity of credit contribute to your credit score, payment history and credit length together make up half of the total credit score. Since younger consumers, especially those under the age of 25, have relatively short credit histories, it can be challenging to achieve stellar credit.

• Younger consumers may not have a well-rounded mix of credit types, including a mortgage, car loan, credit cards, etc. While they may have student loans

and a credit card or two, they may

not have had the need to purchase a home or new car as the older generations did at that age.

How is your credit score calculated?

35% Payment history

30% Amounts owed

15% Credit history

10% Inquiries, new credit lines

10% Types of credit in use

• Younger consumers tend to have lower incomes than older consumers. Since many are at the beginning of their careers, they’ll likely earn less than others who are well-advanced into their careers or retired. As a result, they may not qualify for high credit limits, which would lower their debt-utilization ratio. Additionally, it’s often challenging, though not impossible, to take control of debt with a low income.

The good news is, over time the score will increase, especially if you utilize these habits:

• Keep making payments on time. You’ll build habits with each payment you make.

• Use credit responsibly. If possible, avoid new inquiries and opening new accounts.If you’re rate shopping, do so within a small window so it doesn’t raise any flags on your credit.

• Avoid carrying high balances on your credit cards. Pay down your debt and keep your balance less than 35 percent of your total available credit.

© 2018 Buffini & Company. All Rights Reserved. Used by Permission. RMMK APRIL EREPORT S

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HOW TO PROTECT YOUR INFORMATION ONLINE

Our tech gadgets have not only made us more connected than ever before; they’ve also made it easier to pay bills, manage our finances, purchase items on-the-go and more. Although these little tasks are made easier, doing them online increases the chance that a thief may steal our information without our knowledge. Once your information is compromised, it takes time and energy to get back what you’ve lost. Here’s how to protect your information online.

Create strong passwords. It sounds simple, but a strong password can prevent a thief from getting into your accounts and stealing your information. A strong password includes a mix of numbers, symbols, capital letters and lower case letters, has a minimum of 12 characters and isn’t an obvious word found in the dictionary

 Activate the firewall on your computer. The firewall is the network security system that controls access to the computer. When used with an anti-virus/malware software and anti-spyware software, it can protect the information on your computer from becoming compromised.

 Set your social media profiles to private and

 review your security settings. This can help prevent strangers from viewing your photos. Also, be careful about what you post online—don’t post anything with your address or other personal information.

 Secure your mobile devices and only download apps and information from trusted sources. Many people use their phones to take photos, shop, bank, send email and more. Lock your screen to prevent thieves from accessing your information and be mindful of what you download.

 Keep your systems updated. Install the latest operating system updates, which may include patches and other solutions for potential security issues.

Use encryption to protect personal data from tax returns or financial records.

 Avoid using unsecured Wi-Fi networks and only

 use private networks to conduct financial or corporate transactions.

 Protect your e-identity and be cautious when giving out personal information on the internet. Always use your privacy settings and only make purchases from secure sites.

 Don’t click on links or files from unknown

 Origins. If you don’t know who sent it, don’t open it. Additionally, never reply to emails asking to verify your information or confirm your username or password.


How to Repair Your Credit

Do you feel your credit stands in the way of getting approved for financing for a home or a new car? Having bad credit can do more than prevent you from getting approved for a loan; you may also have to pay more for insurance and provide a security deposit on utilities if you move. Financial challenges can occur to anyone, any time. The good news is you can begin to improve your credit immediately. While repairing your credit does take time, it's possible to improve it as long as you're dedicated to positive financial habits.

1. Pay your bills on time

• Get current on accounts that are past due, but not charged off. Contact your creditor to find out how to get current on the account. If you pay your debt in full, the balance will become zero and the account will be paid off. However, it may stay on your report for seven years after the date of charge off. This is one of the easiest ways to build your credit score and, most importantly, build great financial habits. When you pay your bills on time, you ensure no payments end up in collections.

• Create a budget. A budget tells you where your money is going and helps you plan to spend it wisely. Start by calculating how much income you have each month, from work, child support, etc. Then, tally up your expenses, from ones that are due monthly, such as utilities and rent or a mortgage, to those due less often, such as taxes, car maintenance, etc. Also, be sure to include other expenses such as coffee runs, lunches with coworkers and other non essential expenses. This will give you a clear picture of your financial state and help you see where you can save money.

· Reduce non-essential expenses. The first place to make cuts if you're trying to save money is your non-essential expenses. Try making coffee at home or at work instead of buying one every morning, and reserve going out to lunch for Fridays to save on restaurant expenses. While it may not seem like much, making small cuts will help you save money, pay down debt and live well within your means.

· Track your spending. Creating a budget is only half the battle; the other half is tracking your expenses. Tracking helps you stick to your budget. Write your expenses in a notebook or input them in an app; either way, take the time to track your spending and you'll always know where your money is going.

2. Review your credit score and history

The place to begin when improving your credit is with your credit history. You're legally entitled to a free credit report from each of the three credit bureaus each year through annualcreditreport.com. Reviewing your credit periodically allows you to see if there is information that may negatively impact your score. . Look for incorrect information such as payments that were incorrectly reported late, accounts that aren't yours, etc.

• Be aware of accounts that are past due, that are late, have been charged off (i.e., the payment is 180 days past due) or have been sent to collections, as well as accounts that are over the credit limit.

• Dispute inaccurate or incomplete information. While you can do this online or over the phone, it may be best to do it through the mail so you can create a paper trail. If your dispute is legitimate, the credit bureau will investigate and give you a response.

3. Pay down your debts.

What goes into your credit score? Great credit has many advantages, including access to lower interest rates. Here's how your score is calculated. If you have debt, try to pay it off. If that's not possible, pay it down to as low as you can.

• Reduce your debt-to-income ratio, When assessing your loan application, lenders consider your debt-to income ratio; that is how much debt you have compared to your income. The lower your ratio, the more likely you'll qualify for a great loan. Start with the cards or debt with the highest interest rates first and, once you've paid them off, go to the debt with the next highest interest rate. Over time, you'll have paid off your debts.

• Increase your available credit. You may be able to increase your credit limits on your credit cards if you've been a good customer. Call your credit card company to learn more.

4. Use credit wisely

Once you have credit, it's important to use it responsibly. Here's how:

Don't open new accounts, unless you have to. Opening several new accounts at a time may raise red

flags for potential lenders.

Keep a low balance on credit cards and revolving

credit.

Pay off debt instead of moving it to another

account or to a new account.

5. Seek professional help

If you have trouble making ends meet, notify your creditors and see a credit counselor.

How long does negative information stay on your credit report?

This is one of the most common questions people ask when they're trying to repair their credit. The good news is, in most cases, nothing lasts forever. The older the incident, the smaller the impact it has on your overall credit score.

If you have had… (It will stay on your credit report…)

Late payments…. (7 Years)

Judgments….       (7 Years)

A short sale...       (7 Years)

A foreclosure….     (7 Years)

Chapter 13 bankruptcy…. (7 years (from filing date))

Chapter 7 bankruptcy…. (10 years (from filing date))

Tax liens…. (Until lien is paid in full, plus 7 years (though they may remain indefinitely))

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Home prices in ‘gateway cities’ bounce back. That’s the good — and the bad — news FROM Real Estate by Boston.com & Globe.com

For more information, and to view the graphs, please go directly to: http://realestate.boston.com/buying/2019/01/30/home-prices-gateway-cities-bounce-back/

Jon Gorey - Globe Correspondent

January 30, 2019 11:05 am

At the turn of the 20th century, many immigrants and working-class families claimed their share of the American dream in busy local labor centers like Lowell, Lynn, Brockton, and Fall River. A century later, already struggling in a postindustrial economy and downtrodden after decades of disinvestment, these cities were hit especially hard by the foreclosure crisis.

But now, housing markets in many of the Commonwealth’s “gateway cities’’ — so named for their onetime roles as portals to prosperity — appear to be roaring back to life, with home prices that are climbing far faster than in their surrounding counties and the state as a whole.

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For example, the median price of a single-family home increased 33 percent statewide from 2012 to 2018, according to the Massachusetts Association of Realtors, and 36 percent in Essex County. But prices in Lawrence almost doubled in that time period, rising 95 percent; Lynn saw an 85 percent increase. Likewise, Brockton house prices have risen 97 percent since 2012, compared with 38 percentin Plymouth County. And median condo prices soared more than 100 percent in seven gateway cities: Brockton, Chelsea, Fall River, Lawrence, Lynn, and New Bedford.

Those steep climbs emerged from deep troughs: Gateway cities suffered more than most in the last recession, and unemployment rates remained stubbornly high even after other communities bounced back. “They didn’t get the wind in their sails until late in the recovery,’’ said Benjamin Forman, research director at the nonprofit Massachusetts Institute for a New Commonwealth, known as MassINC.

That partly explains the rapid price growth, said Daniel McCue, senior research associate at Harvard’s Joint Center for Housing Studies, who’s seen the same phenomenon in other markets. “In high-cost, high-appreciation metros like Boston, we saw the bottom-tier prices rising faster and rebounding faster since they hit bottom around 2011 or 2012,’’ McCue said. “They got hit hardest, so they got pushed to the lowest levels, and now they’re sort of charging back.’’

We may also be seeing the fruit of seeds sown more than a decade ago, when a 2007 report by MassINC and the Brookings Institution studied the disparities between booming Boston and the state’s smaller outlying cities, and urged lawmakers not to leave the latter behind. State funding followed for an initial group of 11 gateway cities — later expanded to include 26 communities of between 35,000 and 250,000 residents with income and educational attainment levels below the state average. And after years of investments, many are increasingly attractive to home buyers.

Christian Doherty, broker and president of Doherty Properties in Lowell, said gateway cities like Lowell offer buyers a hard-to-replicate mix of walkable urban amenities, historic architecture, and affordability. “I think the reason they’re thriving is they offer the modern lifestyle buyers are seeking,’’ Doherty said. “People want access to all the shops and restaurants, the ability to go out to nightclubs, and Lowell is offering that. If people are looking for a really cool loft or an old mill mansion where one of the old mill owners lived, it offers that … at a third of the price in some cases.’’

Lowell, named one of the 10 hottest affordable neighborhoods in the country by real estate brokerage Redfin, is in some ways the poster city for the group — though Forman notes it had a healthy head start, thanks to the work and vision of civic leaders like the late senator Paul Tsongas. Doherty said state and local incentives to encourage the redevelopment of abandoned mills have really paid off for the city — and helped preserve a link to its past. “A lot of times [buyers] feel a connection to that history,’’ he said. “I have people come and say, ‘My grandmother or my great-grandmother worked in the mills.’ ’’

In Lynn, real estate broker Colleen Toner of Toner Real Estate isn’t all that surprised by the city’s rising prices and popularity. “I believe Lynn was undervalued to begin with, considering its proximity to the ocean, transportation, and Boston,’’ she said. The city’s abundant restaurants, downtown development, and active arts scene still come with an affordable price tag, Turner added, noting a two-bedroom condo in walking distance to Central Square that’s on the market for $200,000. “That’s less than renting.’’

Toner said Lynn has seen an influx of home buyers priced out of other areas north of Boston, including another gateway city: Everett, where the median-priced single-family has risen 86 percent since 2012, to $445,000, according to the Massachusetts Association of Realtors. The fact is, with housing prices around Boston spinning ever further out of reach, gateway cities are among the few places many buyers can still afford to buy a home. “The whole Boston metro area has seen a pretty steep rebound in house prices, and that’s made fewer and fewer areas affordable to the typical household or typical renter looking to buy,’’ McCue said.

Affordable as they are, these satellite cities hold even greater potential for equitable housing. “Gateway cities have a vital role to play as mixed-use urban centers,’’ Forman said. With downtowns that are zoned for dense housing and, in many cases, connected to Boston by existing rail lines, they’re primed for transit-oriented housing and workplaces if the state follows through on its plans to improve commuter rail service. “We could put tens of thousands of people either living or working in those places where we have great rail infrastructure,’’ he said. “Each of those rail lines is the equivalent of a 10-lane highway if you run regular service on it.’’

However, the picture isn’t entirely rosy. For one thing, gateway cities farther from Boston haven’t enjoyed the same housing buoyancy: Single-family prices in Pittsfield and Westfield are up only 16 percent and 19 percent, respectively, since 2012, the association found. And the number of gateway city residents living in census tracts with a poverty rate over 40 percent has roughly doubled since 2000, Forman said. “The only places in Massachusetts where we have poverty rates that high are a handful of gateway cities and Boston.’’

Rising home values overall betray a deepening inequality in our cities large and small: As prices climb throughout a community, low-income households have fewer options available to them, and end up clustered in the same few neighborhoods where it’s still cheap enough to live. “When everything’s getting more expensive and fewer and fewer places are affordable, we do see a growing concentration of poverty and low-income households,’’ McCue said.

“When you look at markets like Worcester that seem to be doing well on the surface, there are a lot of neighborhoods that appear to be under severe stress, and things have gotten worse, not better, there,’’ Forman said. Research has shown us the important role neighborhoods play in childhood development, Forman said, and cities need more resources to stabilize and safeguard these areas.

Another concern is whether those housing gains are going to residents or to outside investors. “In the past, those triple-deckers were owned by their occupants and they built a lot of wealth through them, and that’s part of the reason people had economic mobility from gateway cities,’’ Forman said. “But now they’re almost all investor owned.’’

In an all-too-common scenario, Forman said, an absentee landlord might squeeze as much rent as possible from a building without maintaining it, and then abandon the property once it’s in severe disrepair. Not only does that remove units from the city’s inventory, the blight threatens other nearby homes — whether from a fire that spreads to the house next door or by dragging down property values for neighboring owners.

Meanwhile, Forman said there are frustrating barriers to redeveloping such blighted properties, starting with strict building codes. In Massachusetts, owners must bring an entire property up to code if the improvements are worth 30 percent or more of the building’s original value, according to a report by MassINC. It’s not hard to hit that target when the median single-family sells for $205,000, as in Fitchburg.

“It costs huge amounts of money to modernize those old buildings,’’ Forman said. “And a lot of them have fragmented ownership — they’ve been [converted into condos], so in a single building you’d have to deal with dozens of owners to do anything with it.’’

Despite rising rents and home prices, the high cost of construction in Massachusetts means that a lot of development still isn’t particularly profitable in gateway cities. So Forman stressed that cities need a mechanism to recover blighted properties and the resources to fix them up.

“Even though home values are rising, they’re not at the point where you could replace a triple-decker with a triple-decker, so it’s important to maintain that naturally affordable inventory we have in places that are growing,’’ Forman said. “Because it costs us a lot more to produce a new unit of affordable housing than theoretically it should to acquire that property and make whatever repairs are needed.’’

The good news is that a new federally funded incentive, part of the 2017 tax overhaul, could soon spur a lot more private investment. The Opportunity Zone Program offers big tax breaks to developers who invest in certain low-income areas, and about half of the state’s 138 designated Opportunity Zones are in gateway cities. “We haven’t seen anything like that in a long time, and people think [the tax incentive] plus an interest in promoting commuter rail could really tip the scales and get developers moving around gateway cities and their downtowns,’’ Forman said.

From there, Forman hopes to see sustained support for stabilization efforts in surrounding neighborhoods, too. “We’re pushing low-income families out of Boston neighborhoods, and they’re landing in gateway city neighborhoods. And a good number are buying homes in these communities hoping not to have the same thing happen again where the neighborhood improves and they don’t get the benefit of it,’’ he said. “So if our most vulnerable are purchasing in these communities, we should do everything in our powers to make sure that’s going to be a good investment for them given our historic inequities by wealth and race and ethnicity.’’

Booming Worcester Real Estate

Boston workers are moving an hour away from their jobs as they discover Worcester’s real estate bargains, restaurants and nightlife. At long last, it’s safe to say this rusted old industrial city has a new luster.

PLEASE CLICK THE FOLLOWING LINK TO WATCH THE VIDEO:

https://www.wcvb.com/article/booming-worcester-real-estate/25741906