Patty Knaggs Cape Ann and North Shore Real Estate Expert. 978-290-1407

Kory talks about the best part of being a new homeowner in East Gloucester MA 01930

Kings Wood or Kings Mark floors in our Gloucester MA homes

Kings wood in a Gloucester MA attic

Ever wonder about those really, really, wide pine floors we find in our New England homes? They have a very interesting history in our country. Interestingly, enough they may have been just as influential in the American Revolution as the Boston Tea Party! The British fell in love with the white Pine species of trees for their usefulness as light, strong and exceedingly tall masts of sailing ships, & the British Navy. They were considered so valuable that the “Kings men” (militia) went through the virgin New England forests marking the most desirable trees (widest & tallest) to be saved for shipment to the British Monarch. Three hatchet marks in the shape of an arrow was called "The Kings Broad Arrow". These trees (24 inches or more in diameter) were so important that they were mentioned in The Charter of Massachusetts Bay 1691.

The Broad Arrow

Predictably over time, the colonists became less and less willing to surrender the resources of the colonies to the British Monarch. They began ignoring the Kings Mark and harvesting these premier trees for them selves and using it for their own needs, which were usually for building structures instead of supporting the British monarchy and its Navy. It became more and more apparent to the British they were fighting a losing battle as the trees mysteriously disappeared and the New England forests became devoid of the tallest and widest white pine trees.

And now comes the part we are slightly familiar with. The King decided to tax the colonists on the width of the boards in their homes…with a caveat. The Kings men inspecting the homes for board width(s) were not allowed to go beyond the first floor of the home or structure. The colonists (not being dumb) then proceeded to use all the “best wood” or widest boards on the second & third floors. Hence, many of our second and third floors in our oldest homes in New England have incredibly wide floor boards. A little repeated fact is that this floor tax caused The Pine Tree Riot which was a precursor to the Boston Tea Party!


Occupy Wall St. ... How about Shaws, East Gloucester?

I'm not involved in the Occupy Wall St. movement or sit-in or am I particularly well-informed about it. I believe it is in part about corporate greed. A very clear picture of corporate greed was painted for me the other day. I was parked at Cape Ann Market on an optical errand. Since I knew my next meal involved raisins and I had none, I decided to purchase some at Shaws. Confession time: I stopped shopping there years ago when Market Basket came to town, which allows us to save approximately 10% consistently over the two other local, large grocery chain stores.  There were two raisin sizes available and I grabbed the one closest to the size I usually purchase, which was the smaller size, however quite average.

It was 15 oz. for $3.79.  I had the cashier scan to double-check the price, since I thought I had purchased it at Market Basket for $2.59. Since it was significantly more expensive, I decided to not purchase and instead, swing into Market Basket on my way home. I scurried to Market Basket and grabbed the smallest size on their shelf. It was 24 oz..  The price? $2.99.  

OK so maybe I'm a tightwad or a skinflint, but this is a pretty average grocery item. It isn't  seasonal, like produce or fish. Nor is it necessary to import from a "rare source".  Nor was I comparing a grocery price to a discount chain price like Cosco or Best Buy.  I think it is pure and simple, corporate greed of the every day garden variety.  There was a 100% markup for the same product (slightly different size) at one store vs. another.  Market Basket Raisins (24 oz. size) were 12.45 cents per oz. and at Shaws (15 oz. size) they were 25.26 cents per oz.A 100% mark up on raisins?  Come on.....So once again in deference to the saying, "think global, act local, I don't have to occupy Wall St. to protest corporate greed, I'll just shop at Market Basket!

Four Reasons to Choose an FHA Mortgage


First a little background about FHA (Federal Housing Administration) mortgages. These mortgages were initiated by the US government in the 1930′s to allow the first time home buyer to purchase a home, despite some high risk factors when compared to other borrowers. FHA loans have evolved with the times and have consistently serviced the consumers that no other lending institution was willing to risk their money on. However, no matter what actually did occur with these so-called “high risk borrowers” the FHA mortgages were and are guaranteed to be paid by the US government if the consumer stops paying the mortgage. For instance, if a homeowner were to default on their FHA loan, the lender would not incur a loss because the US Government would repay the loan to the lender.

There are four great real life reasons to choose an FHA loan:

1 If your credit score is between 620-640. Todays lenders have drawn the line at anything below a 640 credit score.

2  An FHA mortgage only requires 3.5% downpayment.

3  If your down payment is a gift.

4 If one has undergone a bankruptcy or foreclosure.

One or more of these reasons could prevent a first time home buyer from getting a mortgage with a traditional lender. However, the FHA allows more than one of these situations to exist simultaneously with a borrower.

OK, there has to be a catch….is it the rate? No it isn’t the rate, that is still comparable to other 30 year conventional loans. It is in the form of the insurance. It is called the Mortgage Insurance Premium (MIP), paid in two ways:

1.  Upfront: It is equal to 1.15% of the total loan, paid at closing and frequently rolled into the total amount of the loan. For instance if you borrow $100,000, MIP would equal $1150 and you would be borrowing $101,500 (if not paid at closing).

2.  Monthly: There is also a monthly fee that lasts for 5 years no matter how much equity you have in your home. It is calculated to be 1.15% spread out into monthly payments. For instance with the $100,000 loan example above it would be $101,150 * 1.15 / 12 (annual payments) = $96.95 per month mortgage insurance. If for instance, one has over 20% equity in the home after 5 years, the MIP would end.

Would I get a FHA mortgage if I had other mortgage options? Probably not, but I would choose home ownership over the alternative hands down, if my budget permitted it. And yes, I felt this way before I became a real estate professional, before the mortgage interest rates were at an all time low and before home prices shifted downward by 30% off of the peaks of 2005-2006….!

just in case you are wondering :)