Northampton MA Real Estate | Carla Ness - Delap Real Estate


Buying a new home can be an exciting but anxiety-inducing experience. With so many things to consider, it can be difficult to keep track of the things that matter most to you.

This process is complicated further when you discover a second or third home that you like as much as the first and you’re trying to decide which one to make an offer on.

In today’s post, we’re going to talk about how you can effectively compare houses to ensure that you’re making the most sensible, long-term decision for you and your family.

It’s all about the spreadsheet

Today, our method isn’t going to rely on any fancy new apps or paid tools. Everything you need to accomplish your spreadsheet is a tool like Google Sheets (it’s like a free version of Excel) or a simple pencil and notebook.

The columns of your spreadsheet will be made up of the factors that will influence your decision. This will include the obvious details like the cost and square footage of the home, but also finer details like its proximity to key places in your life.

The rows of your spreadsheet will be the properties you’re comparing. Now, it may be tempting to start listing every house on your radar in the columns of your spreadsheet. However, I think it’s more time-effective to only include the homes that you’re likely to make an offer on. This means doing some hard thinking and having a conversation with your family about your realistic goals for buying a home.

What is most important to you in a home and neighborhood?

Let’s turn our attention back to the top row of your spreadsheet. We want to fill that section with around 10 factors that are most important to you in a home and the location the home will be in.

In this section, you can include the estimated cost of the home and the estimated monthly expenses for owning that home (utilities, taxes, etc.).

Here’s the secret weapon of our spreadsheet, however. Rather than listing the actual cost of the home in this row, we’re going to give it a rank of 1 to 5. A score of 1 means the house is a lot more expensive than you want. A score of 5 means the house is the ideal cost. A 3 would be somewhere in the middle.

We’re going to use this 1 to 5 ranking system for all other factors on our spreadsheet as well.

Next to these costs, you’ll want to add other important factors to your home buying decision. Does it have the number of rooms you’re looking for? If a backyard is important to you, does it provide for that need?

In terms of upgrades, how much work will you have to do on the home to make it something you’re satisfied with? For DIY-minded people with time to spare, home improvement might be a welcome concept. For others, it simply would take too much time to accomplish everything you want. So, when you fill out the “Upgrades” column of your spreadsheet, make sure you determine a system for ranking the homes that suits your needs.

House location shouldn’t be overlooked

It’s a sad truth, but in today’s busy world, the average homeowner spends most of their time away from home, whether they’re at work, commuting, or bring their kids to and from after school activities.

You’ll want at least one column on your spreadsheet to be devoted to location. When ranking the location of a home, consider things like commuting time, distance to schools, hospitals, parks, and grocery stores. All of these things will have a larger impact on your day-to-day life than small details of the house itself.

Ranking the homes

Now that you have the first row and column of your spreadsheet built, it’s time to fill in the details and tally up the totals. These numbers will help inform your decision as to which house is really right for you.


A first-time homebuyer often proceeds cautiously as he or she navigates the real estate market. However, if this homebuyer discovers the "perfect" home, the risk to overspend to acquire this residence may prove to be too much to resist.

It is important for a first-time homebuyer to understand what it takes to purchase a house at a price that matches or exceeds his or her expectations. That way, a homebuyer can avoid the temptation to overspend on a house and reduce the likelihood of breaking his or her homebuying budget.

Now, let's take a look at three tips that a first-time homebuyer can use to minimize the risk of overspending on a house.

1. Assess the Housing Market Closely

The housing market frequently fluctuates, and a first-time homebuyer who identifies real estate patterns and trends may be better equipped than others to pay the right price for a residence.

Having the ability to differentiate between a buyer's market and a seller's market is key. If a homebuyer understands the differences between these markets, he or she should have no trouble submitting a reasonable offer on a house based on the current housing market's conditions.

In a buyer's market, there is an abundance of available houses and a shortage of property buyers. This market favors homebuyers, and as a result, a property buyer may be better equipped than ever before to acquire a great house at an affordable price at this time.

Conversely, a seller's market favors home sellers and includes a shortage of high-quality houses and an abundance of homebuyers. In a seller's market, a homebuyer may need to submit a competitive offer on a house, or he or she likely risks losing a residence to potential rivals.

2. Get Pre-Approved for a Mortgage

Want to stick to a homebuying budget? With a mortgage in hand, a first-time homebuyer will know exactly what he or she can spend on a house and narrow a home search accordingly.

To get pre-approved for a mortgage, a homebuyer should meet with several banks and credit unions. This will allow a homebuyer to learn about all of the mortgage options that are available and choose a mortgage that corresponds to his or her finances.

Also, be sure to ask potential lenders plenty of questions about various mortgage options. By doing so, a homebuyer can boost his or her chances of making an informed mortgage decision.

3. Collaborate with a Real Estate Agent

A real estate agent can help a first-time homebuyer explore houses that fall within a specific price range, thereby reducing the risk that a property buyer will overspend on a house.

In addition, a real estate agent is happy to provide honest, unbiased homebuying recommendations. This housing market professional understands the ins and outs of purchasing a house, and as such, will do everything possible to guarantee a property buyer can acquire a terrific residence at a budget-friendly price.

Avoid the temptation to pay too much to buy your dream house – use these tips, and a first-time homebuyer can seamlessly navigate the property buying journey.


The weeks and days leading up to a home closing can be stressful, particularly for a homebuyer who is already trying to do everything possible to secure his or her dream residence. Fortunately, we're here to help you simplify the process of getting to your closing date.

Now, let's take a look at three tips to ensure you can enjoy a fast, easy home closing.

1. Get Your Paperwork Ready

It often helps to get all of your homebuying paperwork ready before you pursue a residence. That way, you can minimize the last-minute stress associated with searching far and wide for pay stubs, tax returns and other documents that you'll ultimately need to get financing for a residence.

Furthermore, you should meet with local banks and credit unions as soon as you can. If you can get approved for a mortgage prior to starting a home search, you may be able to speed up the process of acquiring your ideal residence.

2. Be Prepared to Cover Your Closing Costs

Although you might have financing to cover your monthly mortgage payments, it is important to remember that you may need to pay closing costs to finalize your home purchase. As such, if you begin saving for your closing costs today, you can guarantee that you'll have the necessary funds available to purchase your dream residence on your scheduled closing date.

Also, you should be prepared to present a cashier's check or wire funds when you close on a house. If you plan ahead, you should have no paying off your closing costs when your complete your home purchase.

3. Schedule Your Final Walk-Through Before Your Closing Date

When it comes to a final walk-through on your dream house, why should you leave anything to chance? Instead, set up the final walk-through at least a few days before you're scheduled to close on a house.

If you find problems with a house during a final walk-through, you'll want to give the seller plenty of time to address these issues. Thus, if you schedule a final walk-through several days before your closing date, you can ensure that any home problems can be corrected without putting your closing date in danger.

For homebuyers who are worried about a home closing, there is no need to stress. In fact, if you work with an expert real estate agent, you can receive plenty of support throughout the homebuying journey.

Typically, a real estate agent can explain what you should expect in the time leading up to your closing date. If you have any concerns or questions before a home closing, a real estate agent is happy to address them. Plus, when your closing date arrives, a real estate agent will help you remain calm, cool and collected as you purchase a home.

Ready to streamline the process of closing on a house? Use the aforementioned tips, and you can reap the benefits of a quick, seamless home closing.


The homebuying journey is rarely problem-free. Fortunately, homebuyers who know how to address challenges throughout the property buying journey should have no trouble making their homeownership dreams come true.

Now, let's take a look at three tips to help you develop an effective approach to address any homebuying challenges that come your way.

1. Be Diligent

When it comes to homebuying challenges, it helps to be diligent. A diligent homebuyer allocates time and resources to understand problems and address them from every angle. As such, this buyer may be better equipped than others to find the right solution to any homebuying challenge, at any time.

Furthermore, a diligent homebuyer often learns about the housing market and analyzes real estate market patterns and trends. With this information at his or her disposal, a homebuyer can use real estate market data to gain an advantage over rival property buyers. And as a result, a diligent homebuyer can use housing market data to make fast, informed decisions throughout the property buying journey.

2. Understand the Worst-Case Scenarios

No one likes to think about the worst-case scenarios. Yet considering potential challenges that could arise during the homebuying cycle may help a property buyer plan ahead for these problems.

As a homebuyer, it is important to prepare as much as possible for all stages of the property buying journey. If a buyer understands potential challenges, he or she may be able to address such problems without delay. Perhaps best of all, this buyer can minimize the risk of encountering possible hurdles that otherwise may prevent him or her from finding the right house at the right price.

3. Work with a Real Estate Agent

Dealing with a homebuying challenge on your own can cause immense stress. Lucky for you, real estate agents are available who can help you identify and resolve any homebuying challenges before they escalate.

A real estate agent is a homebuying expert who can guide you along each stage of the property buying journey. First, he or she will learn about your homebuying goals and craft a custom property buying strategy. A real estate agent next will keep you up to date about new homes that match your property buying criteria, as well as set up home showings. And once you find a house that you want to buy, a real estate agent will help you submit a competitive offer to purchase this residence.

Let's not forget about the assistance that a real estate agent provides after a seller accepts your offer to purchase a home, either. At this point, a real estate agent will help you schedule a house inspection and ensure that you are fully prepared for closing day. And if you have concerns or questions along the way, a real estate agent is ready to respond to them.

Want to become a confident homebuyer? Use the aforementioned tips, and you can bolster your homebuying confidence and address any homebuying challenges with poise and integrity.


When you’re buying a home, it’s important to offer a good price to be able to land the property of your dreams. You also don’t want to overpay for the house you’re buying. If you want to know for sure that you’re paying a good price for a home, you’re going to need to do some price comparisons. Take a look at recently sold homes in your neighborhood of choice and see what the going rate is. If all of the homes are similar in the area, it will be easy to find out how much the home you’re buying is worth. There are a few ways that you can do comparisons to make it easier for you to determine the right price for the home you want to buy. 


Take A Look At The Neighborhood


There are certain features that attract nearly everyone to certain neighborhoods. From the safety and friendliness of an area to the schools that are nearby, to the stores, and public transportation access, people are attracted to what makes their lives easier and more enjoyable. The bottom line is the more desirable the neighborhood, the higher the price of the homes in it. 



Check Out Public Records


With the Internet, it’s pretty easy to access public records these days. You can take a look at what properties have been bought and sold for in recent times int the area of the homes that you’re looking at. You can even take a peek at some historic information to help you see if the area is up-and-coming.


Is The Neighborhood Going To Become Trendy?


Sometimes, you can find a great property for less in a neighborhood that hasn’t quite reached it’s full potential yet. If there’s a slot of new construction going on, that’s a good sign that the neighborhood is moving on up! Especially attractive features in a neighborhood are new schools, new shopping centers, or new parks.                


There Is A Tipping Point To Growth


If it seems that a neighborhood is growing a bit too much, it may actually decrease the value of your home. Huge commercial developments can actually be detrimental to the value of a property. Where there’s a lot of people, there’s also a lot of noise and traffic. That’s usually not a desirable factor in a neighborhood.    


Meet In The Middle


When you’re looking at the price of properties, the best bet is to meet somewhere in the middle for what is reasonable. While you don’t want to buy the highest priced home in the neighborhood, you probably don’t want to lowest price for that neighborhood either. Working with a more average number is a good option because your home helps any home lower priced than yours, while any higher priced homes help to increase the value of your home. It’s a win-win situation when you choose a property based on price and keep this strategy in mind.    




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