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Steps to Buying a House

Buying a house is not easy. There are many steps leading up to the final purchase and people often do not know where to start. This article is intended to help you find your way and to help save you time, and save you from some of the stress that comes along with the buying process.

First, make sure that your finances are in check. Order your credit report and fix any mistakes that you find. For more information on this, check out our About Your Credit page at Track your spending. Keep track of what you spend and what you spend your money on. There is more information about finances on our website, If you haven’t already, start saving for a down payment. Most banks like to see that you have saved 20%, as well as closing costs.

Start thinking about the area that you would like to buy in. Look online at the houses in your area. Housing trends will tell you if the market has gone up or down in the last few years. Make sure that the houses that you look up share the characteristics that you will be looking for, such as bedroom/bathroom, yard, ect. Pay attention to price changes.

You should also start gathering your paperwork in one place. It may take some time to get everything they will need together. Gather it and keep it in one place so as to expedite the pre-approval and mortgage process. You will need: two years of taxes, W-2s, 1099, and/or profit and loss worksheets. Recent paystubs with YTD shown, up to 2 years. Your monthly budget, along with debt totals. Assets: Bank Statements for all accounts, mutual fund statements, Real estate and automobile titles, brokerage statements and documentation of all other assets. Canceled checks for Rent or Mortgage and a letter from landlord, present and previous, showing a positive payment history. 2 months of bank statements. ID, passport, and SS cards. Credit report (Recent, with credit score), divorce decree, information about any past bankruptcies.

You will need to find a Mortgage Broker. Ask people for referrals and check them out online. You should get quotes from three different lenders before you decide which you would like to go with.

Most sellers like to see that you have received pre-approval for a certain amount prior to putting an offer in. Some realtors and sellers will not accept a bid without this. The upside to a pre-approval is that most of the documentation required is the same for when you actually apply for the loan, though the bank may want to see additional documents at that time. It also gives you, your realtor, and the seller, an idea of what you will be able to afford. Find out what types of loans you may qualify for. Keep in mind that unfortunately, a pre-approval does not

guarantee an approval. Now that you know how much you may be able to get, you can make sure that your savings equal the 20% down payment, plus closing costs.

Now it is time to shop around for a Realtor and a lawyer. You should plan on having three to choose from. Most Realtors are willing to dedicate a half an hour to meeting with you, to see if you will work well together. Lawyers will usually give you a few minutes of their time, because they bill hourly, so make sure that you have a short list of the questions that you would most like answered ready. Before you decide, check them out. Look online, see if there are any complaints against them or problems. Always research them before you work with them. Check them out with the Better Business Bureau. You want to feel comfortable with them and know that they are honest and show integrity.

Once you know what you can afford, and you’ve researched the area that you are interested in, it is time to decide what you want in a house. What type of house do you prefer, and how many bedrooms and bathrooms? Other things to consider are SQ footage, both livable and land, cabinet and closet space, and what kind of kitchen you are looking for. Remember that you may not be able to get everything on your list, so make sure that you prioritize and keep in mind that there are things that you can change after you move in.

Now that you have done the above, you are ready to look at the houses that your Realtor has found that fit your needs. Take many pictures and notes to help you make your final decision. Consider the utilities, taxes and insurance for the property. Usually you can get information on the past bills for utilities and other bills pertaining to the house.

If you have found the house for you, and your offer has been accepted, hire an inspector and have the house inspected. A home inspector can find hidden problems, such as pest problems or water damage, and can save you a lot of headaches in the future. You should also have an appraisal done to make sure that you are not overpaying for your new home. Another good idea is to get a home warranty. Sometimes you can ask the seller to include it as part of the final sale. You should also have done a title search, to make sure that the title to the property is clear.

It’s finally time to close! Talk with your lawyer and realtor to make sure that you have everything needed to finalize the closing, and that you bring everything to the closing. Make sure that you bring many blank checks. You will need to pay the closing fees then and it is likely that you will have to pay them separately.

Congratulations! Move in! Enjoy your new house, and everything it brings with it!

Traditional Corned Beef and Cabbage 
A.K.A. New England Boiled Dinner 

TOTAL TIME 3 to 4 hours 

6 servings 



3 pounds of corned beef, preferably homemade 

4 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 1" segments 

2 pounds of potatoes, cleaned and cut into 2" chunks 

1 small head of cabbage, outer leaves removed, cut in quarters 

Optional. You can add an onion and in Eastern Europe, caraway seeds are popular. 



1) Follow the steps in the sidebar for desalinating and cooking corned beef. The extra step of changing the water after 30 minutes will mean that the broth will not be too salty to be served like with the meat and veggies like a stew. 

2) Add the carrots and potatoes. After 30 minutes add the cabbage. After 15 to 25 minutes the cabbage will be done and so should everything else. 

3) Remove the meat and place it on a carving board. If you got the point section, there are often two horizontal muscles with a thick layer of fat between them. Separate them by sliding a knife through the fat. Carve and/or scrape off the fat layer. Carve the meat by cutting across the grain, about the thickness of a pencil. Any thinner and it will fall apart, any thicker and it will be chewy. Carve with the grain and you will have difficulty chewing. 

4) Lift out the cabbage, potatoes, and carrots and divide them into serving bowls. Place the meat in the bowl. Spoon some of the cooking liquid over them and serve. 



Traditional Irish Soda Bread  

TOTAL TIME 50 minutes
8 servings


  • 3 ½ cups all purpose flour 
  • 1 ¼ teaspoon baking soda 

  • 4 tablespoons sugar 

  • 1 teaspoons salt 

  • 1 ½ cups buttermilk  

  • 4 tablespoons melted butter 

  • ¾ cup dried cranberries 

  • 1 tablespoon caraway seeds 

  • ¼ cup buttermilk 

  • ¼ cup of melted butter 



Preheat oven to 425 degrees. 

1) In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, sugar and salt together in a large bowl until blended. Use a wooden spoon and stir in the buttermilk, butter, cranberries and caraway seeds until a loose shaggy dough forms. 

2) Dust your work surface lightly with flour. Dump out the dough and knead for about a minute until it comes together. Shape into a round loaf that is approximately 2 inches high. In a small bowl, combine melted butter with 1/4 cup buttermilk; brush loaf with this mixture. Place on baking sheet and use a sharp knife to make a 1 inch deep X across the top of the loaf, from edge to edge. Brush the top with the remaining 1 tablespoon buttermilk. 

3)Bake for 30 minutes then lower the heat to 400 degrees and continue baking for 10 minutes more, until golden brown. Place on a wire rack until completely cooled. You may continue to brush the loaf with the butter mixture while it bakes. 



Preparing Corned Beef  

For Sandwiches or Other Dishes

Corned beef comes in two forms: Brined and uncooked, and ready to eat. 

Brined uncooked corned beef is usually a hunk of beef that has been cured in a brine solution of curing salts, regular salt, and pickling spices, and packaged in a sturdy cryovac plastic bag with some of the brine. It is very salty and has not been cooked. 

Ready to eat corned beef is cured in a brine, desalinated, then cooked, and usually packaged in slices or sliced at the deli counter. Just open the package and eat. 

Here's how: 

1) Open the package the meat came in and dump out all the liquid. If you have made your own corned beef, remove it from the brine. Rinse thoroughly. Some packages have some pickling spices in a packet. It is a joke. There is nowhere near enough to do anything useful and if the meat has been corned properly, there is more than enough flavor in it. Besides, if you follow the instructions on the packet and don't change the water, the spices will just find a way to get stuck in your teeth. Throw them out. Some cuts have a thick layer of fat on the surface of one side, called a fat cap. Trim it all off. This fat is not like marbling in beef. It brings nothing to the party but calories. If you bought the point section of a brisket that has been corned, there is probably a layer of meat, a layer of fat, and another layer of meat. Trim off the surface fat and leave the center fat layer intact. You can remove it after it is cooked. It will come off easily. 

2) Place the meat in a large pot along with enough hot water to cover it by at least 1" and put the lid on. Turn the heat to medium, bring to a low simmer and keep it simmering for 30 minutes. If you boil it, it will get tough and shrink. Beware that the meat is cold, so when it warms the water will slowly move from simmer to boil. Keep an eye on it and try not to let it boil. 

3) After 30 minutes, dump out the water and cover 1" over the meat with fresh hot water. Bring to a low simmer again, this time for 3 hours or until it is fork tender. Keep the meat submerged even if you have to weight it down with a small plate. It is now ready for slicing across the grain for sandwiches or for adding cabbage and the other goodies. The water will now not be too salty to be used as a soup. If you wish, refrigerate it and eat it cold. 

Curious as to how the shamrock become associated with Saint Patrick? According to Irish legend, the saint used the three-leafed plant as a metaphor for the Holy Trinity when he was first introducing Christianity to Ireland.

Real Estate Definitions

Assessed Value
: The value against which a property tax is imposed. The assessed value is often lower than the market value because of state law, conservative tax district appraisals, and infrequent reassessment. It may also exceed market value.

Due Diligence: Making a reasonable effort to find accurate, complete information. A study that often precedes the purchase of property, which considers the physical, financial, legal, and social characteristics of the property and expected investment performance.

Fixed Expenses: In the operation of real estate, those expenses that remain the same regardless of occupancy.

Market Value: The most probable price that a property should bring in a competitive and open market under all conditions requisite to a fair sale, the buyer and the seller each acting prudently and knowledgeably.

For thousands of years, the Irish have observed the day of Saint Patrick’s death as a religious holiday, attending church in the morning and celebrating with food and drink in the afternoon. The first St. Patrick’s Day parade, though, took place not in Ireland, but the United States, when Irish soldiers serving in the English military marched through New York City in 1762. As the years went on, the parades became a show of unity and strength for persecuted Irish-American immigrants, and then a popular celebration of Irish-American heritage. The party went global in 1995, when the Irish government began a large-scale campaign to market St. Patrick’s Day as a way of driving tourism and showcasing Ireland’s many charms to the rest of the world. Today, March 17 is a day of international celebration, as millions of people around the globe put on their best green clothing to drink beer, watch parades and toast the luck of the Irish.

Here is a list of low or no cost things to do, whether the weather is feeling like spring, or reminding you of winter.

*Play Frisbee at the park.
*Attend a free community
*Donate some unwanted
 things to charity.
*Go on a wandering walk.
*Start a workout routine.
*Make some homemade
 greeting cards.
*Do a neighborhood
*Organize a self-guided
 walking tour.
*Visit a free museum or a  
 zoo (or find out when you
 might be able to get in for
*Practice origami.
*Make a time capsule.
*Practice yoga – or try it for
 the first time.
*Bake a loaf of homemade
*Clear out your media
 collection – books, DVDs,
 CDs, etc.
*Make a ‘101 Goals in 1,001
 Days’ list – then start on
 some of them.
*Organize a self-guided
 walking tour.
*Have a yard sale.
 (You’ll declutter your house
 and make some money at
 the same time!)
*Write a letter to your spouse.
*Play classic board games.
*Host a scavenger hunt with
 friends — either a driving
 version or a walking

As we waited for a bus in the frosty weather, the woman next to me mentioned that she makes a lot of mistakes when texting in the cold.

I nodded knowingly. “It’s the early signs of typothermia.”

Laugh A Little

The summer after college graduation, I was living at home, fishing in the daytime, spending nights with my friends—generally just hanging out. One afternoon my grandfather, who never went to college, stopped by.

Concerned with how I was spending my time, he asked about my future plans. I told him I was in no hurry to tie myself down to a career.

“Well,” he replied, “you better start thinking about it. You’ll be thirty before you know it.”

“But I’m closer to twenty than to thirty,” I protested. “I won’t be thirty for eight more years.”

“I see,” he said, smiling. “And when will you be twenty again?”



When I overheard one of my cashiers tell a customer, "We haven’t had it for a while, and I doubt we’ll be getting it soon," I quickly assured the customer that we would have whatever it was she wanted by next week. After she left, I read the cashier the riot act.

"Never tell the customer that we’re out of anything. Tell them we’ll have it next week," I instructed her. "Now, what did she want?"



One spring day I was taking the roll in my secretarial class at our local technical college. One of the sun worshipers was absent. “Cindy won’t be here this afternoon?” I asked. “She went home to lay in the sun,” a young woman in the front row answered. Trying to correct her grammar without embarrassing her before the class, I whispered, “Lie.” Okay,” she replied in astonishment. “Cindy got sick and went home.”


Our daughter, an ROTC cadet, was ordered to Fort Indiantown Gap in Pennsylvania for field exercises. Since it was the Easter season, she requested permission to attend church services on Palm Sunday. The troops were in the field at the time, so the commanding officer agreed only if there happened to be a church in the vicinity of their maneuvers. When a small country church was seen along the road, our daughter entered quietly, hoping to be unnoticed in spite of her leaf-and-branch camouflage. But all eyes turned upon her as a small child cried in amazement, “Look, somebody came as a palm!”

Thanks for thinking of us! 

We can help you or any of your friends, family or acquaintances with their real estate issues. Call us today to set up a time for us to get together. There is no obligation. 

We serve the Taunton, Raynham, Freetown, Lakeville, Dighton, Berkley, Dartmouth, Stoughton, Norton, Rehoboth, Easton, Middleboro, and Fall River areas.

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