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5 Ways Your Tax Refund Can Help You Get Into Your First Home

Has your family been dreaming of a new home? These 5 tips will help you use your tax refund to help achieve the American dream of homeownership!

The average tax refund for the 2018 filing season was nearly $3,000 and the IRS doles out more than 110 million of them every year, according to IRS data.

If you’re expecting to get a refund this tax season, instead of spending it on things that you don’t need, consider using it to invest in your future! What better way to do so than using your tax refund as a down payment on the home of your dreams.

But wait, can I really do that??

You sure can! Check out these 5 ways that your tax refund can help you get there:

1. Put It Toward a Deposit

When you get your tax refund, you can put it in a savings account at your bank to build up a deposit fund. Keep adding to the fund and before you know it you could have the key to a new home in your hands!

Plus, the larger the deposit amount you put toward a new home, the less you will have to borrow and pay in interest over time.

2. Apply It to Closing Costs

Even if you choose to finance your home purchase, you can still put your tax refund toward closing costs that can be incurred when you’re buying a home:

  • Attorney fees
  • Appraisal and inspection fees
  • Title insurance
  • Escrow costs

These are costs that are typically incurred in the home purchase process, depending on which lender you choose. They can’t always be rolled into your monthly mortgage payment, so it’s good to prepare ahead of time for them. Your tax return can be a great way to help pay for these costs.                          

3. Put It Toward Taxes and Insurance

After you’ve purchased your home, you may need to pay your property taxes and home insurance costs, which is where your tax refund can come into play.

If both your property taxes and home insurance are included in your monthly mortgage payment, you could consider using your tax refund to purchase additional insurance and greater financial security like an umbrella or life insurance policy. Consult with your insurance agent to determine what type of additional insurance is best for you!

4. Use It to Cover Moving Costs

Even if your entire home buying process goes smoothly and you’ve done a great job of managing your finances and saving money, it’s still possible that you’ll have moving expenses to deal with.

Your tax refund can help cover additional costs like:

  • Renting a moving truck
  • Purchasing packaging material
  • Paying utility service deposits
  • Feeding your friends pizza after they help you move all day

5. Use It to Build Your Emergency Fund

Every homeowner should have an emergency fund — a savings account with a balance that can cover several months of expenses, including your mortgage payment. You could add your tax refund to your emergency fund to help protect you from financial issues in the case you have any unexpected expenses, such as a major car repair or natural disaster, or in the event of job loss, illness or other income interruption.

Written By: Kalley Y             

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Click here to view our up coming TV commercial – 55+ Community in Fitchburg offers single level living

Are you looking for a place to call home? Consider Woodland Estates. Woodland Estates offers Ranch style homes catered to your individual needs. This pet friendly, 55+ community offers a nice country setting and is easily accessible from John Fitch Highway. Call today to start designing your new home (978) 582-4339 or visit us at

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Celebrating 30 years with 30 pies

Real Estate Exchange is excited to announcing our upcoming 30 years in business in Lunenburg MA.

JoAnne Hamberg – Magurn founded the Real Estate Exchange in 1990 in the small town of Lunenburg Mass. JoAnne is the owner Broker of The Real Estate Exchange and has been selling Real Estate full time since 1985. She has helped hundreds of clients buy and sell homes in Lunenburg and throughout the Worcester county area. JoAnne focuses her team 100% on real estate and tending to their buyer and seller client’s needs. JoAnne and her support staff have developed a comprehensive system to maintain excellent service and client communication ranking yearly in the top 1% to 3% of all Realtors nationwide. She is a licensed Real Estate broker in Massachusetts and New Hampshire.

In celebration of The Real Estate Exchange’s upcoming 30 Year anniversary, we will are holding a Great Pie Giveaway! With 30 Pies for 30 Years! Stop by our office at 54 Chase Rd, Lunenburg, next to Jeffrey’s Antique Co-op Mall or calling us at (978) 582-4339 to enter for your chance to win one of 30 pies. We will be giving away 10 Pecan, 10 Pumpkin and 10 Apple. The drawing will be held on Monday, Nov. 25th to ensure you will be able to enjoy your pie for Thanksgiving.

We are very thankful to all our friends, family and past clients for the continued support over the last 30 years and look forward to assisting in all your future Real Estate needs for many years to come.

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FREE 1-Hour Buyer Consultation

Thinking about buying a home, but not sure where to start?

Real Estate Exchange offers a FREE 1-hour buyer consultation where we can help you understand the home buying process and answer many of your questions. 

During the buyer consultation we will go over what’s involved when writing an offer.  

We will review an actual contract to purchase and the important dates you will need to keep in mind.  We will discuss the basic amounts of money needed and when you will be required to provide a deposit along with covering many of the most commonly asked questions.

Cover the commonly asked questions:

Should I hire an attorney?

Do I need Title insurance?

Why is an appraisal need?

How much money do I need?

When do I have a home Inspection?

When do I get homeowners Insurance?

Give us a call today to arrange your no obligation buyer consultation (978) 582-4339.

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When Is It Time To Contact Your Realtor?

If you are thinking about making the call (or text or email), it’s probably time… even if you aren’t planning to actually make the move for another six months or even longer. Sellers should call earlier than buyers, sometimes even a year or more before planning to make the actual move.

The bottom line is, contact your Real Estate Exchange agent whenever you have a question or need some help… that is what we are here for!


Contact your agent before doing any improvements to sell your home… focus on decluttering, cleaning and basic repairs first, then call your agent before doing anything else. Your realtor knows your market and can advise you on what changes will have a positive impact for your specific home… what is and isn’t recommended may surprise you. Also start going to open houses in your area to get an idea of how your competition is preparing, staging and pricing their homes.

Some things you should discuss with your Realtor when you get together at your home are…

  • Current market, what your house might sell for and your estimated net proceeds… possible variations based on potential impact of improvements you  may be considering
  • If you will be buying after you sell, what is available for you to buy… maybe make a ‘buying’ tour of homes. Does it financially make sense to make the move? Do you have special requirements with limited property choices so it makes more sense to buy first if you can?
  • If you decide to move forward, your Realtor can help you make decisions on what you should do to make your home have greatest appeal… improvements should match the market, for your particular home and neighborhood
  • Your Realtor will likely also bring in a stager to help make decisions on things such as paint colors and decor… staging is very different from decorating, and sets the stage so buyers want to picture themselves living in your home
  • If where you live requires a city inspection before you sell, be sure to have that completed before hiring anyone to come in and do any work… coordinate required repairs to be done at the same time

Stay in touch with your realtor as you make progress on your plan. The two most difficult parts of getting ready to sell are often… de-clutter, then de-clutter again, then de-clutter again!… and CLEAN, CLEAN, CLEAN every nook and cranny including closets, drawers, cupboards, garage, ceilings and light fixtures, and mostly importantly kitchens and bathrooms.


  • Not surprisingly, 93% of buyers start looking for homes on the Internet… a good way to initiate the shift from dream to reality is driving by properties of interest in different neighborhoods to start defining location. Location is so important because that is something you can’t change and it can have a profound impact on how happy you are with your new home.
  • After you initial digging, it’s a good idea to contact your Realtor even if you aren’t ready to buy yet. Have them set up an automated Search for you of different neighborhoods of interest to get a sense of what kinds of properties are available at what price. Start going to open houses to actually get inside the homes.
  • It is a good idea to also contact a lender at this point to help you focus in on price range… and also find out if there are things you can do to assure you get the best interest rate, such as tips to improve your credit score or correct errors on your credit report.
  • Once you are about 4-6 months from your target closing date it is time to meet with your agent, more clearly define what you are looking for and start actively looking… also get your financing pre-approval. Average time to find a home is about 3 months, plus another 1-2 months from purchase agreement to closing.

Finding the right home is a process, which I find usually starts fairly broad and narrows focus as we start actually looking at properties. Contact your Realtor whenever you have any questions about a property or a neighborhood or find a property you simply must see… I usually recommend seeing at least one other property in the neighborhood for comparison with properties in serious consideration.

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Reminder: It’s time to fall back!

Daylight Saving Time ends at 2:00 am on Sunday, November 3rd – Don’t forget to set your clocks back an hour.

As we prepare our clocks to “fall back” for the end of Daylight Saving time, here are some great tips for attracting the autumn home buyer:

1. Clean Up the Yard

Rake dead leaves and debris in your lawn. Don’t let overgrown vegetation block the windows or path to the entrance. Cutting bushes and tree limbs will let the sun inside and showcase the exterior of your home. Cutaway summer vines and cut down dead flowers. Make the most of the autumn weather in the fall real estate market.

2. Create Autumn Curb Appeal

The most popular autumn flowers are chrysanthemums (or mums), and they bloom for a long time. Marigolds are another idea for fall. Both mums and marigolds are available in yellow, which is my number one home selling color. Plant them in pots. Place pots on the steps and along the sidewalk. Accent with pumpkins or other types of squash.

3. Dress the Windows

Rain and wind from over the summer months can make your windows dusty and streaked by autumn. You might not notice smudges, but buyers will, if only on a subconscious level. Your windows need to sparkle to sell a home. Maybe your cats routinely rub their little noses on the inside glass while walking along window ledges. You’ll need to wash my windows inside and out every autumn. Remove screens and spray them down.

4. Check the HVAC

You want the air inside your home to smell fresh. When was the last time you changed your furnace filter? You can buy 90-day furnace filters. Check the HVAC system before you need to turn on the heater. Besides, the buyer will ask a home inspector to look at your HVAC. If you discover problems with your furnace, it’s better to fix them before your home goes on the market.

5. Clean Out the Fireplace

Ah, nothing smells like autumn than smoke from a wood-burning fireplace. However, in some parts of the country, burning wood indoors or outdoors is outlawed. If you have a gas fireplace, light it when buyers come through. If the fireplace is filled with cobwebs because it hasn’t been used for months, vacuum it out and wash it down. Some ​home stagers arrange knickknacks in the fireplace in place of wood logs.

6. Prepare Autumn Edibles

Speaking of autumn scents, you might set out freshly baked pumpkin cupcakes or simmer hot apple cider on the stove. Put a tray of cinnamon sticks on the counter, dotted with whole cloves. Prop open a cookbook to an autumn stew. Fill a bowl with crisp red apples.

7. Set the Mood for Fall Real Estate Musically

When thinking of autumn music consider Enya’s “The First of Autumn” or George Winston’s new age piano album “Autumn.”

8. Utilize Autumn Accent Colors

You don’t need to dump a lifeless sofa when you can accessorize its dullness with bright red, orange and/or golden yellow pillows. Toss a quilt or autumn-colored throw over a chair. After you’ve cleared away the clutter and depersonalized each room, bring a few autumn hues to each room by placing bold-colored accent pieces in odd groupings such as 3’s and 5’s. Create an autumn centerpiece for the dining room table by arranging pine cones and nuts around orange candles, stick in a few leaves from the yard.

9. Turn on the Lights Everywhere

Above all, bring in the light. When days get shorter, the sun sets lower in the horizon and casts wider shadows. Pull up the blinds, open the shutters, push back the drapes on every window. Turn on every light in the house, including appliance lights and closet lights. Brighten darker rooms with few windows by placing spotlights on the floor behind furniture, and for goodness sakes, turn off the TV.

For more tips and help with selling your home this fall give us a call at Real Estate Exchange (978) 582-4339

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Halloween safety tips

Halloween can be lots of fun but keep these safety tips in mind

  • Wear bright colors to stay visible
  • Carry flashlights or use reflective tape to help people see you on dark sidewalks
  • Only visit homes that have porch lights on
  • Look both ways before crossing any street
  • Trick-or-treat in groups, use a buddy system
  • Remember to inspect all candy and treats prior to eating
  • And for drivers: Please go slower than usual, especially in residential neighborhoods

Most of all have fun

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Halloween 2019 Trick or Treat Hours – Updated due to weather

Athol, Trick-or-treating rescheduled to Saturday, Nov. 2, from 5 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.; Halloween Stroll is Thursday, Oct. 31, from 10 a.m. to noon.

Ashburnham, Thursday, Oct. 31, 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Ashby, Thursday , Oct. 31, 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Ayer, Thursday , Oct. 31, 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Chelmsford, Thursday , Oct. 31, 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Fitchburg. Rescheduled to Saturday, Nov. 2nd, 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. children under the age of 13 only.

Gardner, Thursday , Oct. 31, 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Lancaster, Rescheduled to Saturday, Nov. 2nd, 5:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

Leominster, Rescheduled to Saturday. Nov 2nd, 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Lunenburg, Thursday , Oct. 31, 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Pepperell, Thursday Oct. 31, 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Townsend, Thursday, Oct. 31, 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Templeton, Thursday, Oct. 31, 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Shirley, Rescheduled to Friday, Nov. 1st, 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

Westminster, Rescheduled to Saturday, Nov. 2nd, 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.

Winchendon, Thursday, Oct. 31, 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

*Please note many towns have rescheduled trick or treat days and times due to the weather

Happy Halloween from everyone at the Real Estate Exchange have have a Spooktacular time.

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Are You Thinking of Selling or Buying but Worried You Missed The Spring Market?

Regardless of other conditions which change from year to year I have long felt late fall is the best time of the year for buying and selling. 

Although fewer people are house hunting as the winter months approach us, fall is a beautiful time of the year to buy or sell, especially in New England.  The fall foliage and the crisp New England air enhance the natural beauty surrounding your home and welcome home buyers

Benefits for buying:

  • Prices are starting to soften seasonally, and sellers are often more willing to negotiate as they want to sell before winter arrives.
  • Supply is waning, but some sellers are scurrying to list before the holidays and you still have more choices than in the dead of winter and you have a better chance of not losing out in a multiple offer situation and not paying more than list price.

Benefits for selling:

  • Cooler season tends to have a lower inventory, which is good news for sellers. If there are fewer homes listed on the market, you have a less competition.
  • Buyer demand is still high. The bidding wars and rapid price gains are slowing, but sellers can still expect strong demand. Demand is being driven by low supply across the country and more millennials buying homes. expects Millennials to be the largest segment of buyers this year, accounting for 45 percent of mortgages.

There are many mutual benefits for both buyers and sellers in the fall market including potential quicker closings. With the slower seasons we tend to have fewer transaction which can mean quicker closing times.  When lenders have fewer loan to process, attorneys have a fewer closing to attend to and home inspectors have fewer inspections to do, which can all lead to a faster closing for you.  

Buying or selling this fall, let us help negotiate the best deal for you, call our team today (978) 582-4339

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A Hot Real Estate Market is Something we Hear a Lot About These Days

The news is always talking about which markets are the hottest, but what does it really mean for sellers and buyers?

In a hot market, sellers are able to sell their homes fast, and often for more money. Housing inventory is low which means there are simply more buyers for homes than sellers. If a home is priced right, it may sell within days, and with multiple offers. The demand being higher than the supply also drives up the prices of homes for sale. Most often the hot market applies more to mid to low priced homes, as higher-end homes tend to have a smaller buyer pool resulting in more time on the market.

If you would like to sell your home, a hot real estate market is a perfect time! For buyers, it means a lot more time and effort to find a home, and perhaps an increase in the price buyers had planned on paying. Buyers may become frustrated after finding their dream home, only to end up in multiple offers, and not having their offer accepted.

What can buyers do in a hot real estate market to get the home they want?

• Get pre-approved – Sellers will be comparing the offers they receive and if they see your financing is solid through a pre-approval, it will help make it stand out.

• Hire a Realtor – The seller pays the Realtor, making it a free tool to have in your pocket. Find someone you can trust to work for you.

• Wants vs. Needs – In a hot market, it may not be possible to get absolutely everything you are looking for in a home. Make a list of what you really need, and another with what you would like. By defining your wants and needs it will help narrow down your search, and you won’t waste time looking for things you really don’t have to have.

• Don’t procrastinate – Now is not the time to take your time in setting up showing appointments. If you see a home come on the market, have your Realtor book a showing right away. Keep an eye on coming soon listings as well, so you will be ready to look as soon as the home is active.

Although a hot real estate market is great for sellers, buyers shouldn’t be intimidated.  Just be sure to prepare yourself for the potential competition and be understanding and patient with the process in this market.

To learn more about today’s market and to see if now is the right time to buy or sell, give us a call today (978) 582-4339