Henry Matos
Coco, Early & Associates | 978-853-5364 | hmatos@cocoearly.com


Posted by Henry Matos on 1/11/2018

If you're in the process of trying to find a dependable contractor for a home improvement project, there are several steps you can take to ensure a positive outcome. Since clear and frequent communication is the foundation of any successful relationship with a contractor, knowing what questions to ask can make all the difference. Here are some general guidelines for screening potential contractors and determining which one would be the best match for your budget, your home improvement needs, and your personality. Not only is it important that the contractor be experienced, dependable, and conscientious, but it's also crucial that they're easy to work with and customer service oriented. If they're too abrasive or don't seem genuinely interested in ensuring your satisfaction, then you'd probably be better off looking elsewhere. Being competitively priced is also very important. Questions to Ask Contractors Although each situation is different when dealing with home builders, handymen, or home improvement contractors, here's a list of questions that would apply to most companies:

  1. "How long have you been in business?" One of your top priorities is to avoid fly-by-night operations that are in business today, and nowhere to be found, next week. Longevity in business is usually a sign that the contractor is conscientious about customer satisfaction, that they care about doing good quality work, and that they're in compliance with the legal requirements of running a contracting business. It's certainly not a guarantee of any of those things, but it's a good starting point in evaluating their qualifications.
  2. "Would you provide me with some recent customer references -- preferably ones who had the same type of work done as what I'm planning." If the contractor balks at this, then they may have something to hide -- like a trail of dissatisfied customers or a just a lack of customers. The ideal scenario, of course, is to get a contractor recommendation from a trusted family member, a friend, or a neighbor. When that isn't possible, a brief telephone conversation with a couple current or past customers of a contractor you're considering can provide a lot of insights into key factors like timeliness, professionalism, the quality of their work, whether they leave their work site clean, and their level of customer service and communication. By the way, one online source for neighbor recommendations is a social networking site called Nextdoor.com.
  3. "What type of insurance do you have?" If they're not current on their personal liability insurance, Workers' Compensation, and property damage insurance coverage, then you could potentially be liable for any injuries and damage that take place on your property during the project. However, reputable contracting companies recognize the importance of carrying the necessary types of contractor insurance, and they make it their business to keep those policies current and up to date. As a side note, it's also wise to find out if there will be any subcontractors working on the job, and if they also have the required licenses and insurance coverage. Asking for copies of insurance certificates is generally the only way to make sure the needed coverage is in place.
While many home improvement or construction projects come with their share of frustrations, setbacks, and minor headaches, if you take the time to screen and compare potential home contractors, your chances of getting the best value for your money and the highest possible quality will be greatly increased.





Posted by Henry Matos on 1/4/2018

If you want to buy a house, it helps to plan ahead as much as possible. That way, you can increase the likelihood of a fast, seamless homebuying journey.

Now, let's take a look at three tips to help you prepare to enter the housing market, and ultimately, ensure that you can enjoy a speedy homebuying experience.

1. Focus on Specific Cities and Towns

Consider what you want to find in your dream house. Then, you can fine-tune your dream home criteria and narrow your house search.

For example, if you prefer small town living to life in the big city, you may want to search for houses in various towns in your state of choice. Or, if you want to buy a house near your office in the city, you can browse residences in or near the city itself.

Differentiating your dream home must-haves and wants can make a world of difference too. Because if you know exactly what you want to find in your ideal residence, you can streamline your house search and accelerate the homebuying journey.

2. Get Pre-Approved for a Mortgage

The process of filling out a mortgage application and getting approval from a bank or credit union can be long and arduous. And if you submit an offer a house without financing in hand, you may face a time crunch to get a mortgage as well.

When it comes to home financing, it pays to be proactive. If you start searching for a mortgage today, you may be able to save time down the line.

For instance, if you meet with a bank or credit union, you can learn about a variety of mortgage options. Next, you can select a mortgage that matches your needs, and this mortgage will allow you to enter the housing market with a budget. With this budget at your disposal, you can narrow your search to houses that fall within your price range.

3. Employ a Real Estate Agent

Let's face it – few homebuyers have the necessary time and resources to conduct a comprehensive home search. Luckily, real estate agents are available to help you discover your dream house in no time at all.

A real estate agent will learn about your homebuying goals and find out what you want from your dream house. With this information, a real estate agent can provide you with details about houses that fulfill your criteria.

Furthermore, a real estate agent is a housing market expert who will do everything possible to help you buy a high-quality residence. He or she will teach you about the housing market and provide extensive insights into real estate patterns and trends. Also, a real estate agent is happy to respond to your homebuying concerns and questions at any time.

For those who want to buy a house, there is no need to wait to enter the housing market. Instead, use the aforementioned tips, and you can reap the benefits of a quick, stress-free homebuying experience.




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Posted by Henry Matos on 12/21/2017

There are many different advantages to adding more nature to your home inside and out. For one, it makes you happy to be around more natural things. We spend so much time in front of screens and using technology, that it’s nice to be brought back to nature right in your own home. 


All this being said, it’s a great idea to consider building a fish pond on your property. There’s many different advantages to these bodies of water around your home including:


A Pond Will Build Up The Look Of Your Property


If there’s a part of your property that you just can’t get past, perhaps building a fish pond will be a good use of that area. Some people take the idea further, creating a water garden complete with streams. However you decide to build your fish pond; simple or elaborate, you’ll appreciate how it will improve the look of your property.


It Will Spark Your Creativity


Planning where and how a fish pond will go in your yard can really spark your creativity. You and your partner can think about what you want and find the best ways to execute your project. From the way you’ll establish the surrounding landscapes to how you plan to dig the pond to what kind of fish you’ll put in the pond, there’s a lot to think about. The best part is that you will create how you want your property to be more exciting and pleasant to spend time on. 


You Make A Good Use Of Your Space


Maybe you feel that you have a lot of “wasted space” on your property. Installing a fish pond is a great way to make use of the space that you do have in your yard. If you feel that you could be doing something incredible with the space that you do have, building your own pond is a great way to do that. 


Connect With Nature


A fish pond allows for you to enjoy more than just fish. It will attract other types of wildlife including unique insects, birds and more. Watching fish has also been proven to be an activity that reduces stress and increases your level of health. According to studies done by the National Marine Aquarium, the mere act of watching fish has been shown to reduce blood pressure and decrease heart rate. Being in a natural environment is much more soothing to both your physical and mental states.       


While building a fish pond can seem like a huge project, you can see that the benefits are many. You’ll truly feel that you have maximized your land space and can enjoy the many benefits of having your own small wildlife sanctuary right on your property.




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Posted by Henry Matos on 12/14/2017

Let's face it – selecting a real estate agent can be difficult, particularly for home sellers who are afraid to say "No."

As a home seller, it is your responsibility to find a real estate agent who can help you maximize the value of your residence. At the same time, it is important to hire a real estate agent who will respond to your home selling concerns and questions and do whatever it takes to streamline the process of selling your house.

Ultimately, there are three key traits to consider when you search for a real estate agent:

1. Creativity

Your real estate agent should understand that no two homes are identical. Thus, this professional will be unafraid to think outside the box and consider a wide range of solutions to any problem.

Typically, a creative real estate agent will approach problems with an open mind. By doing so, this professional can consider every opportunity and offer a variety of recommendations to ensure you can find the right solution to any problem, at any time.

Ask a real estate agent how he or she has approached unforeseen challenges in the past. This will give you a glimpse into whether a real estate agent embraces challenges or shies away from them. Plus, you may be able to find out if a real estate agent will think creatively to resolve problems throughout the home selling process.

2. Expertise

Ideally, you'll want to find a real estate agent who possesses the skills and know-how to sell your home in a buyer's or seller's market. If this professional boasts many years of experience, and as such, he or she likely has helped numerous home sellers get the best offers for their residences consistently.

Be sure to get references from a real estate agent. This will allow you to contact past clients and learn how a real estate agent helped them sell their residences.

3. Honesty

Although many real estate agents may claim to be honest and forthright with clients, it is paramount to employ a real estate agent who will help you set realistic expectations for the home selling process.

For example, your real estate agent should be able to offer advice and suggestions to enhance your house's interior and exterior. And if your real estate agent notices a glaring problem with your residence that may damage its value, he or she should be ready to notify you about this issue right away.

Furthermore, your real estate agent should be able to keep you updated throughout each stage of the home selling process. He or she also will be prepared to share homebuyers' feedback about your home, regardless of whether this feedback is positive or negative.

With an honest real estate agent at your side, you'll be able to get the support you need to simplify the home selling cycle. As such, you should have no trouble navigating each stage of the home selling process.





Posted by Henry Matos on 12/7/2017

If you want to purchase a home, it pays to establish a homebuying budget. By doing so, you can enter the housing market with a budget in hand and narrow your search for your dream house.

Now, let's take a look at three best practices to help you create a homebuying budget.

1. Look at Your Finances

Your finances will play a major role in your ability to purchase a home. Thus, you should evaluate your current financial situation closely so you can map out an effective homebuying journey.

Request a copy of your credit report – you'll be glad you did. You are eligible for a free copy of your credit report from each of the three reporting bureaus (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion) annually. Take advantage of this complimentary perk, and you can gain deep insights into your outstanding debt.

If you have outstanding debt, try to pay this down as much as possible. That way, you can boost your credit score, which ultimately will help you improve your chances to acquire your ideal residence.

2. Meet with Banks and Credit Unions

When it comes to buying a home, meeting with banks and credit unions usually is a great idea. That way, you can learn about your home loan options and get pre-approved for a mortgage.

Apply for a mortgage from several banks and credit unions. Then, you can receive various mortgage quotes and select one that suits you perfectly.

Also, don't hesitate to ask plenty of questions during a lender consultation. Banks and credit unions employ friendly, knowledgeable mortgage professionals – all of whom are happy to help you make an informed mortgage decision. Therefore, if you're unsure about whether to proceed with a 15- or 30-year mortgage or can't decide between an adjustable- or fixed-rate mortgage, you can ask these mortgage professionals for expert advice.

3. Consult with a Real Estate Agent

A homebuying budget is tricky to establish on your own, especially if you are entering the real estate market for the first time. Fortunately, a real estate agent can help you plan ahead for all stages of the homebuying cycle.

During a real estate agent consultation, a housing market professional will learn about your homebuying goals. Next, this professional will help you establish realistic homebuying expectations and ensure you can discover a great house at a budget-friendly price.

Of course, let's not forget about the world-class support that a real estate agent provides after you kick off a home search, either.

A real estate agent will set up home showings, keep you informed about open houses and offer homebuying recommendations and suggestions. Perhaps best of all, a real estate agent can negotiate with a seller's agent on your behalf to help you get the best price on a house.

Ready to begin your search for your dream home? Use the aforementioned best practices, and you can craft a homebuying budget and start your homebuying journey.




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