8 Reasons Why Real Estate is the Best Investment

Real estate has long been considered a solid investment for many reasons. It is a relatively safe and easy way for people to build wealth beginning with a small amount of money. If you are interested in investing in real estate, I’d be happy to help you find the right properties.
Here are some of the ways investing in property can help you build an investment portfolio.

1. Real estate investments can provide you with a reliable and steady cash flow. Investing in rental properties is relatively easy as expenses are predictable and if your properties remain occupied you know what to expect in terms of profit margin.
2. Real estate appreciates in value. Real estate consistently appreciates, even during economic downturns, making it one of the more reliable investments. On average, real estate in the US appreciates between 3-5% annually.
3. Real estate investments help you retire. If you have been paying on your mortgage throughout your working years, you will experience greater cash flow as you near the end of your mortgage term and the principal is paid off.
4. Real estate sales are taxed at a lower rate than other income. When you sell your property, you are taxed short- or long-term capital gains which are usually lower than income tax brackets.
5. Real estate equity can be leveraged. One of the most attractive reasons for investing in real estate is the ability to leverage your money. When you take out a mortgage to purchase property you reduce the amount of capital required. As you build up equity in the property, you borrow against the equity or refinance the original loan, freeing up cash to buy another property.
6. You have control to improve upon your asset. Unlike an investment in stock, where you have no control over how it performs, you can improve upon your real estate investment. Updating or upgrading systems, finishes, appliances, and landscaping helps build value in your investment.
7. Real estate gains taxes can be deferred. Under the 1031 exchange tax code, you can invest the gains from the sale in one property to the purchase of another property without paying taxes on the gains.
8. Real estate investments are depreciable. This is confusing, but you can legally claim a depreciation expense on an investment property even though the value of your investment property is actually appreciating. The depreciation deduction allows investors to generate a higher cash flow while reporting a lower income for tax purposes.

 

 

DEBBIE SPENCER GROUP
REALTOR®, CRS, SRES
m: 617-285-7300
t: 781-860-7300
e: debbie@thedebbiespencergroup.com
1 Militia Drive, Suite 204, Lexington, MA 02421

www.thedebbiespencergroup.com

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5 Ways to cut down on your home energy bill

January 10 marks National Cut Your Energy Costs Day, and I’ve got your personal cheat sheet with five strategies to conserve energy and elbow those extra costs out of your monthly bill:

1) Consider time-of-use rates.

Learn about your utility’s time-of-use rates, which vary depending on the time of day. Strategically plan your energy use to save money. You can find these rates on your energy bill or the utility’s website.

2) Leverage smart home plugs and thermostats.

Combat standby power consumption (up to 10% of your energy use) with smart switches for appliances and programmable thermostats. Schedule when they turn on and off efficiently.

3) Adjust the water heater temperature.

The U.S. Department of Energy says lowering your water heater temperature by 20 degrees can save 4% – 22% annually.

4) Efficient water heating.

Water heating is the second-largest home expense, averaging $400 – $600 yearly. Consider a $150 water heater smart controller to heat water only when needed (potentially saving 10% – 30%) and insulate your water heater to cut heat loss (saving 7% – 16%).

5) Monitor specific energy usage.

Make sense of rising bills by tracking energy usage and setting custom alerts. Knowing where your energy goes is the first step to making meaningful changes.

Bookmark this blog post for your next bill cycle, and feel free to reach out for more energy-saving insights!

 

DEBBIE SPENCER GROUP
REALTOR®, CRS, SRES
m: 617-285-7300
t: 781-860-7300
e: debbie@thedebbiespencergroup.com
1 Militia Drive, Suite 204, Lexington, MA 02421

www.thedebbiespencergroup.com

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Make Your Home Feel Like a Cozy Winter Cabin: A Checklist

Vibe: Cozy Winter Cabin

Transform your home into a winter haven and create an idyllic cabin-in-the-woods atmosphere with this step-by-step checklist.

Set the Stage
• Cozy candles – Try Woodwick candles if you like the flickering light + crackling pops.
• Chunky blankets – Add texture and warmth with plush throws, heirloom quilts, or a blanket the whole family can share from The Big Blanket Company.
• Featured fireplace – Don’t have the real thing? No worries—find a fireplace video on YouTube for that comforting ambiance.
• Smooth jazz – Set the mood with Spotify playlists that capture the season’s essence.

Elevate the vibe
• Classic board games – Every cabin in the woods has a cabinet of classic board games like Scrabble, Checkers, Sorry, or Scategories.
• Rocking chairs – Nothing says “Welcome to our Cabin” like rows of rocking chairs. If you have one or more in other rooms, bring it to the living from for the holiday season.

Dress the Part
Make a statement with a pair of fleece-lined slippers from UGGS or LLBean and comfy loungewear with a stocking hat to match. (For the ladies, check out Vuori’s Douglas Cashmere & Merino Beanie Hat!)

Indulge in Comfort Food (and Drink!)
• Soups, stews, and chowders hit the cozy cabin bill. Need some inspo? Search for Martha Stewart’s Vegetable Bean or Potato, Broccoli, and Cheddar Soup.
• Top off your cabin-inspired meal with a fresh-baked apple pie and hot cocoa. Crow & Moss Honduras Wampusirpi Drinking Chocolate is a top pick for dark chocolate lovers, but if you’re looking for something nostalgic, Swiss Miss Milk Chocolate Hot Cocoa Mix is your best choice.
• Or skip the hot chocolate altogether and go straight for the Jingle Juice—a merry blend of Cran-Apple Juice, Red Moscato, Prosecco, Vodka, and frozen cranberries.

If you’re going for cabin cozy, why not go all the way? Enjoy, friends, and from my home to yours, once again, happy holidays!

Source:
22 Winter Soups That Will Keep You Cozy

Easy Apple Pie Recipe (Just like Grandma Made!) – Little Spoon Farm

We Tasted Every Instant Hot Chocolate We Could Find — Here Are the Best

Best Jingle Juice Recipe

 

DEBBIE SPENCER GROUP
REALTOR®, CRS, SRES
m: 617-285-7300
t: 781-860-7300
e: debbie@thedebbiespencergroup.com
1 Militia Drive, Suite 204, Lexington, MA 02421

www.thedebbiespencergroup.com

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Preparing Your Home for Winter

Winter is coming in just a few short weeks. Are you ready? Is your home ready?

If you’re a homeowner, it’s important to take steps to prepare your home for the cold weather. By following a few simple tips, you can save yourself money and headaches down the road.

 

Follow these tips to prepare your home for winter:

1) Inspect your roof and gutters. Make sure there are no holes or leaks in your roof and that your gutters are clean and free of debris. Try using a telescoping gutter wand to keep the job quick and easy.
2) Check your heating system. Have your HVAC system inspected and cleaned by a qualified professional ahead of winter temperatures.
3) Check your smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors. Make sure that they are working properly and that the batteries are fresh.
4) Insulate your home. Make sure your attic and walls are properly insulated. This will help to keep your home warm and reduce your energy bills.
5) Seal air leaks. Use caulk or weatherstripping to seal any air leaks around your windows and doors.
6) Protect your pipes. Wrap exposed pipes with insulation to prevent them from freezing — and bursting. Also, ensure every family member knows where the main water shutoff is to access it in an emergency.
7) Stock up on winter supplies. Firewood, salt, shovels, and snowblowers, if needed.
8) Winterize your deck and patio. Protect patio furniture with weatherproof covers or, better yet, store it away in a garage or shed. If you have a wooden deck, apply a fresh coat of sealant.
9) Plan for power outages. Make sure your emergency supplies are accessible and that you have a way to heat the house and prepare food without electricity.

As a long-time resident, I know the challenges our homes face when temperatures drop. So feel free to give me a call, text, or DM me if you have questions about winterizing your home – that’s why I’m here!

 

DEBBIE SPENCER GROUP
REALTOR®, CRS, SRES
m: 617-285-7300
t: 781-860-7300
e: debbie@thedebbiespencergroup.com
1 Militia Drive, Suite 204, Lexington, MA 02421

www.thedebbiespencergroup.com

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Guest Room Essentials

5-Star Hotel, who is this?! — that’s my motto when it comes to hosting family and friends!

How do I do it?

Here’s how:

My list of guest room necessities that I’ve fine-tuned (and, maybe? perfected) over the years.

Now I’m sharing it with YOU!

✓ Visible WIFI password
✓ Phone charger
✓ Luggage rack
✓ Q-tips
✓ Makeup wipes
✓ Lotion
✓ Body wash
✓ Full-length mirror
✓ Wastebasket
✓ Tissues
✓ Extra towels
✓ Extra hangers
✓ Clothes steamer
✓ Sound machine
✓ Jewelry dish
✓ Wall or door hooks
✓ TV remote
✓ Extra blankets

Plus, you can take it to the next level:
Include a handwritten welcome note on the bedside table. Share a few places to grab a coffee, breakfast, groceries and 1-2 local shops you love!
They’ll feel like you’ve really gone above and beyond as a host!

The only downside? With this list, your guests may never want to leave!!

Happy hosting — and, of course, bookmark this for later, or share it with a friend who wants to up their guest room game!

 

DEBBIE SPENCER GROUP
REALTOR®, CRS, SRES
m: 617-285-7300
t: 781-860-7300
e: debbie@thedebbiespencergroup.com
1 Militia Drive, Suite 204, Lexington, MA 02421

www.thedebbiespencergroup.com

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The Essentials for an EPIC Backyard BBQ!

It’s one of my favorite times of the year…

Summer Backyard BBQ Season!

Ready to host the MOST epic BBQ on the cul-de-sac?!

Use this checklist to ensure you have all the essential tools and equipment for a sizzling experience.

Stainless Steel Tongs and Spatula Set: Get a grip on your grilling with a durable and reliable stainless steel tongs and spatula set. These essential tools will help you flip, turn, and serve your deliciously grilled masterpieces with precision and ease (say byeee to burned fingers)

Grilling Prep & Carry System: Simplify your grilling process with a convenient grilling prep & carry system. This all-in-one solution allows you to organize and transport your marinades, seasonings, utensils, and more. No more frantic searches for misplaced essentials – everything you need is at your fingertips.

Basting Bottle: Take your BBQ flavors to the next level with a handy basting bottle. Fill it up with your favorite marinades, sauces, or secret recipes, and apply them generously to your meats as they sizzle on the grill.

Instant-read Thermometer: The MVP of the show! No more guessing games or overcooked meats. This instant-read thermometer will quickly and accurately gauge the internal temperature of your grilled dishes, ensuring every guest is impressed.

Cooler Cart: What is a backyard BBQ without a cooler cart?! Fill it with ice, stash your drinks, and effortlessly roll it around the yard. No more interruptions to fetch cold beverages – your guests can help themselves and enjoy all the summer vibes.

Insulated cup: Last but certainly not least is one of my favorite summer staples! Grab an insulated cup like this one from Brumate and you will have everyone from the party asking where they can get one! With 70,000+ 5-star reviews on Amazon, this is a backyard BBQ MUST!

What are you bringing to your backyard summer party? Let me know in the comments!

 

DEBBIE SPENCER GROUP
REALTOR®, CRS, SRES
m: 617-285-7300
t: 781-860-7300
e: debbie@thedebbiespencergroup.com
1 Militia Drive, Suite 204, Lexington, MA 02421

www.thedebbiespencergroup.com

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How much does it cost to sell my home?

Q: What’s the true cost of selling a home?
A: Roughly 10-12% of the sale price.

Here’s a DETAILED breakdown (with 2022 data):

– Agent commissions: 5-6% of the sale price, split between the two agents.
– Attorney fees, transfer taxes, and other administrative costs: 1% of the sale price
– Home repairs and inspection requests: $100-10,000. The most common repair on a home inspection report? Sticky doors that need adjusting. The second? Leaky faucets and shower heads.

Optional expenses:

– Moving: The average cost of a local move with a two-person team is $1,400. A cross-country move will set you back $2,200-5,700. Save on moving by grabbing a few friends and DIY.
– Interior staging and exterior landscaping: 18% of sellers’ agents said staging increased a home’s value between 6-10%. Staging and landscaping will run 2% of the sale price, making both worthy of your time and money.
– Seller concessions: To sweeten the deal, you may help a buyer with inspection fees, processing fees, or other costs. Usually, no more than 2% of the sale price.
– Home warranty: Some sellers offer buyers a warranty to cover the home leading up to closing, so the buyer knows they’re not facing repair costs as soon as they sign. A home warranty costs $300-500.

One mistake I see from sellers? Pouring money into the wrong improvements before getting an agent involved.

If you’re thinking of selling, don’t wait to get an agent’s eyes on your home — it’ll focus your efforts and help you get every dollar out of your home. Want help? Contact me today.

Source: https://www.bankrate.com/real-estate/how-much-does-it-cost-to-sell-house/

Source: https://www.forbes.com/home-improvement/moving-services/movers-and-packers-cost/#:~:text=The%20national%20average%20cost%20of,to%20between%20%242%2C200%20and%20%245%2C700.

Source: https://www.parealtors.org/what-are-the-most-common-repairs-that-show-up-in-home-inspections/

Source: https://www.rockethomes.com/blog/home-selling/cost-of-selling-a-house

 

DEBBIE SPENCER GROUP
REALTOR®, CRS, SRES
m: 617-285-7300
t: 781-860-7300
e: debbie@thedebbiespencergroup.com
1 Militia Drive, Suite 204, Lexington, MA 02421

www.thedebbiespencergroup.com

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Is it Smart to Refinance?

Your home mortgage is an important investment in your future, and a mortgage refinance can be a smart move to help you manage your investments when used under the right circumstances. Here are some things to consider about refinancing your mortgage.

Simply put, when you refinance your mortgage, you are taking out a new loan to pay off your original mortgage, so the first question to ask yourself may be is there a better product available to you than what you started with?

Refinancing allows you to borrow against the equity you have built up in your home and take out cash you can use to pay off other debt, make home improvements, or invest in your retirement. For example, let’s say you have $70,000 of equity in your home, but still owe $175,000 on your mortgage. You may take out a new mortgage for $200,000 that is used to pay off the first mortgage, and then pays you $25,000 in cash. If you have made regular payments on your initial mortgage for at least five years, you probably have enough equity built up to take a cash-out mortgage.

Another reason to refinance is to reduce your monthly payment to give you more flexibility in your monthly budget. When you refinance, you are basically starting over on your 30-year commitment, but, if you are not taking cash out, your new mortgage amount will be lower, so your payments decrease.

If you originally took out a 15-year mortgage, changing to a 30-year term will lower your monthly payment considerably.

You may also choose the opposite and switch from a 30-year loan to a 15-year term. Your monthly payments will likely increase, but you will pay your loan off earlier and pay less interest.

Another reason people refinance is to change from an adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) to a fixed-rate. This eliminates fluctuations in your monthly mortgage payment and may help you take advantage of favorable rates.

Before you decide to refinance, do some homework. You should perform an audit of your monthly budget, assess your short and long-term financial goals, check your credit score, watch interest rate fluctuations, and consider the costs involved in refinancing ads there will be closing costs on your new loan.

DEBBIE SPENCER GROUP
REALTOR®, CRS, SRES
m: 617-285-7300
t: 781-860-7300
e: debbie@thedebbiespencergroup.com
1 Militia Drive, Suite 204, Lexington, MA 02421

www.thedebbiespencergroup.com

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Renovating Your Home? Check My FAQ’s!

 

How do I pick a contractor?

Ideally, you want to build the same kind of relationship with your contractor as you do with your real estate agent: one built on trust that makes you want to go back to that person for any future needs. Your contractor should be a very good listener and communicator. You want them to “get” your vision for your home, and to keep you in the loop every step of the way. Do your due diligence by checking out contractors’ reputations, talking with other clients, and looking at work they have done previously before you make your selection.

How much will my project cost?

Of course, the answer depends upon the scope of your project, but in order to get the best estimate from your contractor, take time to write down each detail of your plan so that the contractor can include everything in their estimate. Renovations are famous for taking longer and costing more than originally planned, but this is often because the homeowner makes additions or changes along the way, or they don’t realize that, for example, if you move a wall in your home, you may have to then reroute electricity and outlets. One item often leads to another, so you have to look at everything piece by piece.

How long will renovations take to complete?

As I said above, this depends on the amount of work being done– and how many changes are made along the way. The more pre-planning you do, the better estimate your contractor can give you.

How do I prioritize projects?

If you are living in your home during renovations, you may want to plan out the project in phases, so you can live out of some rooms while others are being worked in. You may also need to phase projects based on cost and availability of funds.

Where do I begin?

You begin by conducting a lot of research. Start a look book for your home, either in a notebook or online, collecting pictures of the look and finishes you want. Talk to different contractors, and visit kitchen, bathroom, appliance, and flooring showrooms to get ideas on selections and pricing.

Do I need permits?

Your contractor will know what projects require permitting. Make sure that you do abide by permitting regulations, as failure to secure proper permits can come back to bite you if further work is needed down the road.

How much will renovations increase my home value?

Every homeowner hopes that making improvements will increase their home’s value, and this is usually the case, but sometimes what homeowners view as improvement can turn out to be liabilities to future buyers. For example, don’t put so much money into the house that it becomes more expensive than the rest of the neighborhood. And be careful not to add personal style preferences that can’t be easily changed, like ornamental fixtures, radical architecture, or unusual landscape features.

How should I pay for renovations?

If you have the cash to pay for your renovations, that’s certainly a good way to go. Otherwise, you might consider a home equity loan with a manageable monthly payment or a revolving line of credit that you can use for renovations as well as emergencies that may arise later.

 

DEBBIE SPENCER GROUP
REALTOR®, CRS, SRES
m: 617-285-7300
t: 781-860-7300
e: debbie@thedebbiespencergroup.com
1 Militia Drive, Suite 204, Lexington, MA 02421

www.thedebbiespencergroup.com

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Fun Ways to Celebrate Earth Day with Your Family

On Earth Day, April 22nd, we celebrate our celestial home, planet Earth. It is a day to give thanks for the world around us and to take action to protect the natural resources we depend upon.

This year, I encourage you to spend Earth Day with your family, doing one of these fun activities designed to bring awareness of the ways we can all work to better our earthly home, reduce our carbon footprints, and build lasting family memories at the same time.

1. Go Plogging! It’s the new fitness craze: Picking up trash while jogging. Go for a family jog, walk, bike ride through your neighborhood armed with rubber or gardening gloves and trash bags. Have a contest to see who can collect the most trash.

2. Have an energy-saving scavenger hunt. Send your kids throughout your home to list all the ways they can find to save energy. You can hide treats at key points, such as that drippy outdoor faucet, the light switch everyone forgets to turn off, or the appliances that can be unplugged when not in use.

3. Make recycling fun. If you are not already recycling, now is the time to start. Hold a recycling workshop with your kids but make it fun with a gameshow or contest theme. If your family is already recycling, step up your game to reduce your family’s use of recyclable materials. Kids love a challenge, so offer a prize to whoever comes up with the best plan for reducing single-use plastics. Check out recyclecoach.com for more ideas.

4. Plant a vegetable garden. There’s no better way to teach kids where their food comes from than to teach them how to grow it, and it may just expand their taste for vegetables! Whether you plant in pots on the back porch or build raised beds, any amount of growing is good. Find your local gardening experts or check out a local nursery for resources about what to plant and how.

5. Compost your food scraps. That garden will need fertilizing, so go ahead and start composting. After all, what kid doesn’t like dirt and worms? Composting is easy and it makes a great science project. Watch as things like vegetable peelings, eggshells, coffee grounds, and paper scraps turn into black, nutrient-rich soil. There are many tutorials online to help you get started.

6. Find an event near you. Go to earthday.org to find an event you and your family can participate in and help bring awareness to your community.

7. Stay home and watch a movie! Here is a list of some kid-friendly, nature documentaries you can share with your family while you conserve energy at home.

  • Dodo Heroes.
  • Xploration Awesome Planet.
  • Wonders of Mexico.
  • National Parks Adventure.
  • The Planet Earth.
  • Blue Planet.
  • Earth.
  • Born to be Wild.

Teaching your family about nature, animals, and our planet will help broaden their view and motivate them to become ambassadors for the Earth.

 

DEBBIE SPENCER GROUP
REALTOR®, CRS, SRES
m: 617-285-7300
t: 781-860-7300
e: debbie@thedebbiespencergroup.com
1 Militia Drive, Suite 204, Lexington, MA 02421

www.thedebbiespencergroup.com

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