Putnam Realty | Cape Cod Real Estate, Boston Real Estate


Many sellers aren’t sure how to give a positive spin to their small backyard. We imagine that most homeowners want a large expanse of green with various types of trees and maybe even room for a vegetable garden.

However, there are ways to make a small yard a good thing. After all, less yard means less grass to mow and water and worry over when drought hits.

In this article, we’re going to give you some tips on making your tiny yard appealing to buyers.

Decorate wisely

Making an area seem more spacious is often a matter of smart decorating. Just like you can make a room appear bigger with bright colors and mirrors, you can make a yard appear bigger with proper landscaping and outdoor furniture.

When it comes to patio furniture, keep it simple. You don’t need a massive set of furniture in a small yard, and filling your yard up with chairs will make it feel crowded.

Choose a few well-placed decorations for your yard, and keep it simple.

Container gardening

A good way to make a small yard feel more in touch with nature is to plant in containers. Sticking to a central theme with your plants will give the yard a sense of continuity and simplicity that will make it feel welcoming.

Container gardening is also a good option for people who live in arid areas prone to drought. You can choose drought resistant plants that are easy to maintain.

Landscaping is key

You know how a cluttered and messy bedroom feels small and unwelcoming? The same is true for a cluttered and unkempt backyard. Cutting the grass and trimming the trees and hedges will go a long way. However, also remember to not use your backyard as a storage space. Tools and equipment that aren’t put away will make the yard feel even smaller than it already is.

Set a focal point

Small backyards don’t need a lot of features and amenities. One key area is enough to satisfy the eye. Rather than choosing several small decorations, stick to one thing. Whether it’s a small box garden, a fireplace, or a well-placed tree, drawing the eye is one way to distract from the size of the space.

Small is a style

The last important thing to keep in mind is that houses with small backyards are usually found in locations where small backyards are expected. You wouldn’t dream of finding a large backyard behind a class brownstone in Brooklyn, and as a result, the small backyards of those builds have taken on a charm of their own.

If you aren’t sure about how to incorporate landscaping and decorations in your tiny backyard, look up some inspiration online for urban backyards that match the style of your home. This will attract buyers who are already looking for something that your home already has--character.


Applying for a mortgage can be a lengthy and difficult process. Lenders want to know that they are going to get a return on their investment.

To ensure that they’ll see that positive return they will take a number of things into consideration, such as your income, credit score, employment history, and financial capital.

First-time homeowners often struggle when it comes to these prerequisites since they have fewer years of numbers for lenders to consider. If you’re one of those people, don’t worry--you can still purchase a home.

First-time homeowner loans, which are guaranteed by the U.S. government, and a number of private loans enable people to borrow money for a home without paying a huge down payment or having a vast credit history.

One downfall of said loans is private mortgage insurance, or “PMI.”

In this article, we’re going to talk about what private mortgage insurance is, how to avoid it, and how to get rid of it. 

What is PMI?

If you make a down payment on a mortgage that is less than 20% of the loan amount, you will most likely have to pay private mortgage insurance.

PMI exists as a way for lenders to help guarantee they won’t lose money off of your loan. If you make a down payment of 20% or more, then lenders are typically satisfied that they won’t lose money from doing business with you.

PMI is not to be confused with home insurance, which protects you against damage and theft. Rather, it is an additional fee you’ll pay to your lender each month that is added to your mortgage payment.

PMI is calculated based on a few considerations. Lenders will take into account your down payment amount, the value of the mortgage, and your credit score.

In terms of costs, PMI typically costs between .5 and 1% of the total mortgage amount each year.

Avoiding PMI

Naturally, it’s best to avoid paying private mortgage insurance altogether. Private mortgage insurance has no future value for you and your family since it doesn’t count towards building equity and doesn’t protect you from any potential financial harm (your lender is the sole beneficiary of PMI).

Saving for a down payment can take time, and sometimes you’ll need to rent or cut costs while you save. However, if you do take on a loan with PMI, you can still cancel it at a later point.

Canceling your private mortgage insurance

The first thing you should know about canceling PMI is that it usually isn’t easy. You’ll need pay off at least 20% of the home, write a letter to your lender, and wait for an appraisal of the home. Once you’ve done this, you still have to wait while your lender considers your request. In all, this process could take months--months that you’re still required to pay PMI.

Once common way to get out of PMI is to refinance. If the value of your home has increased since the time of you taking on the loan, the new lender likely won’t require PMI. However, you’ll want to make sure that refinancing will get you a lower interest rate and cover the costs of refinancing. 


Before you launch a home search, you should put together a property buying plan. That way, you will know exactly what you want to accomplish during the homebuying journey and can tailor your house search accordingly.

There are many things you can do to ensure your homebuying plan will work perfectly, and these include:

1. Create Homebuying Goals

You know you want to acquire a house. Now, you just need to establish homebuying goals so you can make your property buying vision a reality.

To create homebuying goals, you should consider where you want to reside and what you want to find in your ideal residence. Remember, you can always modify your goals as you navigate the homebuying journey as well.

Don't forget to be realistic as you establish homebuying goals. For example, if you want to acquire a mansion but don't have the finances to do so, you should lower the bar for your home search.

2. Get Your Finances in Order

A mortgage generally is a must-have to purchase a house. If you get pre-approved for a mortgage, you will know precisely how much you can spend on a residence. And as a result, you can narrow your house search based on the finances at your disposal.

To get pre-approved for a mortgage, you should meet with a variety of banks and credit unions. These financial institutions can teach you about the ins and outs of home financing. Plus, they can help you make an informed mortgage selection.

In addition, don't hesitate to ask questions as you review your mortgage options. Banks and credit unions employ courteous, knowledgeable mortgage specialists. If you work with these specialists, you can gain the insights you need to select a mortgage that matches your finances.

3. Consult with a Real Estate Agent

For those who want to receive comprehensive support as they craft a homebuying plan, hiring a real estate agent is paramount. A real estate agent boasts extensive housing market expertise, and as such, will help you create an effective property buying strategy.

A real estate agent devotes time and resources to learn about you and your homebuying goals. Next, he or she will work with you to create a custom homebuying strategy. And when you are ready, you can put this strategy into action.

Furthermore, a real estate agent offers in-depth guidance throughout the homebuying journey. He or she will keep you up to date about new houses that become available in your preferred cities and towns and set up home showings. Also, a real estate agent will help you submit an offer to purchase your dream home. Perhaps best of all, a real estate agent will make it simple for you to avoid overpaying to acquire your ideal house.

Take the guesswork out of developing and executing a homebuying plan – use the aforementioned tips, and you can simplify the process of finding and acquiring your dream residence.


Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Natural disasters including flooding, hurricanes, mudslides and wildfires affect real estate values. Some recent examples of real estate transactions being influenced by these increasingly intense and frequent events include:

  • A Charleston, South Carolina, homeowner deciding to demolish her house after three years of flooding caused by hurricanes that led to 11 failed contracts to sell the property
  • A Redfin real estate agent in Sacramento, California, losing a sale when her clients couldn’t afford steep insurance premiums due to wildfire risk
  • A Chicago real estate investment firm hiring a Berkeley, California, firm that uses climate-change science research to predict and minimize natural disaster risks, and
  • A new form of gentrification occurring in modest Miami neighborhoods located away from shore and suffering less hurricane damage than beachfront properties.
  • The impact on property prices and salability may depend, in part, on personal beliefs about climate change.

    Divergent Perspectives

    Two studies published in 2019 about the impact of climate change on the real estate market show divergent perspectives. One from the Urban Land Institute (ULI) maintains that climate problems will financially destroy investors who don’t accurately assess potential damage from natural disasters that appear to be intensifying. It’s titled “Futureproofing Real Estate from Climate Risks” and was conducted in conjunction with a Chicago real estate investment company.

    The second study is titled “Does Climate Change Affect Real Estate Prices? Only If You Believe in It,” and is from the University of British Columbia’s Sauder School of Business. It demonstrates that climate change denial has a major impact on the prices that buyers are willing to pay for property.

    Urban Land Institute Study

    Reporting on ULI’s conclusions in April 2019, CNBC noted that the university’s study indicates large real estate companies are spending plentiful time and money on determining how climate phenomena — such as sea level rise due to warming — may affect client properties.

    In particular, the ULI study lists the following actions as essential interventions: (1) mapping risk for existing and potential holdings; (2) including climate risk analysis in decision-making about properties; (3) physically correcting properties to avoid risk; (4) mitigating loss through strategies including portfolio diversification; and (5) working with policymakers on developing disaster resilience.

    UBC Sauder Business School Report

    The UBC researchers found that in coastal areas of America at high risk of flooding and where climate change deniers are dominant, properties sold for about seven percent more than in places where climate-change believers live. They discovered stronger denial in Florida than in California. Also, they didn’t test their hypothesis in Canada or Europe, because belief in climate change is more common there.

    Climate Gentrification

    One of the most concerning impacts of climate change may be the discovery by Harvard University of a trend its researchers dubbed “climate gentrification.” They found that “historically undesirable” neighborhoods at higher elevations, such as Little Haiti, are attracting well-heeled homebuyers who want less risk of flooding. They may push up home prices beyond the means of traditional residents. 


    Image by Steve Heap from Shutterstock

    An active housing market has reduced the number of foreclosed homes in inventory, but there will always be foreclosed homes available to purchase. Many buyers are not aware of what to expect when purchasing a foreclosure. Here are some home truths about buying a distressed home.

    You’re not always getting a deal.

    Many buyers believe foreclosed homes sell at rock-bottom prices. They expect massive and unrealistic discounts. While the bank may be willing to sell for well below the fair market value, their goal is to recover the loss they incurred when providing the original mortgage. Additionally, foreclosed properties may have long-standing maintenance issues that require a substantial investment to remedy.

    The bank may not have the only lien.

    A foreclosure removes the primary mortgage debt, but a distressed property may have other claims for money owed in back taxes, for mechanical work and contractors’ fees. A complete title search should tell you if there are liens that need satisfaction when you purchase a property. Your real estate agent can guide you in how to discover unsatisfied liens or judgments against the property

    You may find maintenance problems.

    Most owners do not simply move out of the property when they can no longer afford to make payments. When an original owner loses income, maintenance often becomes a low priority. And, if they have a medical disaster, a decline in health often means a decline in care for the property. Storm damage, pests, and other hidden issues mean damage to a home that gets overlooked when the owner has different priorities.

    You may find vandal activity.

    Although there are some stories of angry owners vandalizing the foreclosed property that they invested their life savings into, more often are issues with opportunistic thieves. They remove plumbing and light fixtures, paver stones, and other readily accessible objects from an abandoned property.

    Schedule a thorough inspection before you purchase if possible so that you know what you're getting. Your real estate professional specializing in distressed properties can connect you with an unbiased inspector. They will report on your potential new home and help you uncover any hidden costs lurking there.




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