National Homeownership Month 2020

Real Estate

June is National Homeownership Month

Few things are as exhilarating (or as scary) as homeownership. And it’s understandable why. On the one hand, owning a home gives the homeowner a retreat—a personal space to call their own. On the other hand are the expenses and responsibilities that come with owning a property. June is recognized as National Homeownership Month, and in honor of the observance, I thought what better time than to discuss the history of the holiday and some important considerations to mull before entering into homeownership to ensure you’re more exhilarated than scared when your time comes.

Not a Hallmark Holiday, but an Important One Nonetheless

If you can believe it, National Homeownership Month was first observed in the 1920s as a weeklong celebration. Started by real estate associations, it was meant to promote the concept of homeownership. During a time of economic boom, the observance was a way to reinforce the idea of property ownership as an investment.

Flash-forward 70 years to 2019 and the National Observance Month is still of importance. So much so, that President Trump offered a proclamation, stating, “Homeownership continues to be an important option for many Americans to invest in their communities, build wealth, and achieve the American Dream.”

And it is, right? So how can one achieve this dream responsibly?

Do Your Research

Is homeownership within reach? There are some great online tools to see what mortgage payment you’d be able to undertake based on your current salary and overall financial goals. This one from Bankrate is free, but there are a plethora of others available, too.

In addition to considering the total house payment, you should also research current mortgage rates. You’d be surprised at how much of a difference a few hundred dollars each month can make across the total life of a loan. Weigh the options of varying your down payment, knowing that if you do choose to offer less than 20% of the purchase price, you’ll be subjected to Private Mortgage Insurance (PMIs). Still, with refinancing options and programs like first-time buyer mortgages, the costs may offset themselves and shouldn’t necessarily be a deterrent.

Consult with a Legal Expert

Homebuyers, particularly, first-time ones, can benefit from the advice and counsel of not only a real estate agent but an attorney with a real estate specialty. Attorneys in our office have more than 65 years of combined experience with residential purchases in the area. We can help you with every aspect of a transaction from the preparation of real estate contracts through the final step, acting as a sale of agreement attorney during the closing.

Thinking about buying a home? Contact us with any questions you may have. We’re ready to help!

Our Day in Court (or Maybe Just the Office): April 14 is Be Kind to Lawyers Day


What do you call a smiling, courteous person at a bar association event? The caterer. What’s the difference between a good lawyer and a great lawyer? A good lawyer knows the law. A great lawyer knows the judge. Why am I sharing jokes that poke fun at our own profession? Because, well, we’ve got a sense of humor—and we thought we’d offer up a few chuckles before asking everyone to join us in celebrating the seriously important work we do. And with that, joke’s over; it’s International Be Kind to Lawyers Day!

According to the event’s official website, Steve Hughes—a non-lawyer from St. Louis who sought to raise awareness of the critical services attorneys around the world provide—declared the second Tuesday of April as Be Kind to Lawyers Day. Hughes strategically set the day to fall right in between April Fool’s Day (April 1) and U.S. Tax Day (April 15). Given our love of a good strategy (and our aforementioned sense of humor), we think this works just right.

Getting to Know Us

Powers Law Group AttorneysOurs is certainly one of those professions that movies, TV shows and popular culture like to sensationalize, whether depicting the greedy “ambulance chaser” persona or fictionalizing some down-and-dirty courtroom drama. The fact is, the law applies to nearly every facet of life, and the primary job of a lawyer is to help people to navigate, understand and abide by it.

In other words, our work generally isn’t the stuff of prime-time television (sorry, folks!)—but we wouldn’t trade it for anything.

These days, even life’s most common situations and processes involve complex legal considerations. Our knowledge and 50 combined years of experience allows us to guide individuals and businesses through:

Certainly, disputes arise, but our goal is to help settle them fairly out of court. When litigation proceedings are necessary, we provide skilled, compassionate representation at every step.

How Will You Spend Be Kind to Lawyers Day?

The official BKTLD (we may have just hereby coined something there) website offers several fun ways to show recognition and support of the legal profession. Here are a few to consider:

  1. Watch your favorite legal drama or read a classic law-centered novel (we like To Kill a Mockingbird)
  2. Salute the flag as you drive by your local courthouse.
  3. Slip legal jargon into your vernacular whenever possible. Misspoke? Move to strike it from the record.
  4. Send your favorite lawyer a “just because” card or note
  5. Tell a lawyer joke, replacing “lawyer” with your own profession.

Whether or not you choose to “go legal” today, we hope that in reading this post you’ve learned something new about the real-world practice of law and the services we provide. Contact us any time to learn more about how we can help. (And if you do adapt a good lawyer joke, be sure to share it!)

5 Tips for First-Time Homebuyers

Real Estate


Still living with your parents? Sick and tired of telling your roommate to clean up after him/herself? Ready to be on your own and independent? Think that your rent is too high? Can’t stand your landlord? In most cases, first-time homebuyers can relate to at least one of the previously mentioned issues if not all when they finally decide to go out on their own. The biggest dilemma facing first-time homebuyers: How much money will I need?

To answer the last question, first-time home buyers have some amazing advantages as compared to those buying their second or third homes. In today’s market, first-time homebuyers can put anywhere from a minimum of 3–5% down for a variety of loans (MassHousing, VA, FHA, Conventional, etc.) To find out what loan you can qualify for, and what your interest rate might be, contact a mortgage officer near you today! Here are 5 tips for first-time homebuyers.


1. The First Tip: Check Your Credit

Your credit score is one of the most important factors when it comes to qualifying for loans in today’s market. If you don’t know where your score stands, my advice is to sign up for Credit Karma. The purpose of this site is to give you free, up-to-date information on your credit, offering tools and guidance to understand what actions affect your score. Personally, I have used this site for almost five years. It gives you notifications when your score goes up or down, can alert you to any missed payments, mistakes, or collection reports. The fallacy: Paying your bills on time every month doesn’t automatically give you great credit; banks utilizing an equation taking into account your available credit and the amount you’re currently using, which impacts your score. Using Credit Karma is also ten times better than having someone pull your credit. Why? Because when you do finally choose to sit down with a lender for your loan availability, the more your credit score is “pulled” the more cautious the lender becomes. Credit Karma keeps a running track of your credit score through all three of the major credit bureaus, and when you want to check your scores, it’s already available and doesn’t show up when a lender does a credit check.


2. The Second Tip: Evaluate Your Assets and Liabilities

Great, so you pay your bills every month, have large limits on each card, and aren’t utilizing more than 50% of what’s available (ideal category). But what’s coming in? What exactly are you spending your money on? You should have a good handle on your cash flow but you should also speak to a mortgage officer about what exactly he or she will look at when determining your purchasing ability. But the kicker – depending on your job (self-employed, receives a bonus or obtains a commission) there may be additional required documents to be signed/provided other than those with weekly salaries from an employer. Also, if you plan on buying a home in the near future, DO NOT change jobs, or after obtaining a loan, decide to change jobs. On multiple occasions, I have seen a client be denied because they switched jobs or started working different hours. For the exact reasons as to why this will hurt your ability to obtain a loan, ask your mortgage lender.


3. The Third Tip: Organize Your Documents

When you first apply with a mortgage officer, he or she will request two of your most recent pay stubs, your two previous years’ tax returns, and your two most recent bank statements (including every page – yes, even the blank ones). Having this documentation ready for your mortgage officer can speed the process up and get you into your home.


4. The Fourth Tip: How Much Can You Afford?

If you’ve followed the first three tips, the next, most important part of buying a home is finding out how much you can afford. If you’re seriously interested and haven’t talked to a mortgage officer by now, use this link to find out what you might be able to (note: you will need other information to insert for proper calculation) mortgage calculator. By gathering all of this information you will have a great idea of what you’ll need to spend every month, and put down at the time of closing.


5. The Fifth and Final Tip: Find A Home

By finding a home you’ll know exactly what you’ll need for a down payment because you’ll know how much your cost is. You’ll also, by this point, know whether or not you’re going to go with the 3.5% FHA program or the 5% Conventional program. Finding a home will require a trusted realtor and mortgage officer. Why the latter? Because if you find a home you love, especially in today’s market of low inventory and high demand, you’ll need a prequalifying letter stating that the bank is prepared to offer you a loan. Most listing agents (Seller’s realtors) will not even entertain an offer from you unless you’ve received this from your mortgage officer. Should you have any further questions on your real estate transaction please do not hesitate to call me directly for proper representation.

Sean Powers is an attorney with offices in both West Springfield and Springfield. He is licensed in Massachusetts (primarily working in Hampden, Hampshire, Worcester, and Berkshire Counties but is available state-wide) and Connecticut (Hartford and Tolland Counties.)