Martha’s Vineyard Land Bank Fee

Marthas Vineyard Island 300x200 Marthas Vineyard Land Bank Fee

Cliffs in Aquinnah

The Martha’s Vineyard Land Bank Commission came to existence in 1986 and they are charged with the care of 3100 acres. This land, which only comprises 5% of the Vineyard, is protected and cared for by the commission. Part of how he MV Land Bank pays to conserve this land is by charging anyone who buys a home on the island 2% of the purchase price. This 2% is then put towards maintaining the conserved land and also requisitioning new parcels if the opportunity arises. The only way to avoid part of this fee is to be a first time home- buyer. First time home-buyers are allowed a pass on up to $400,000 of their purchase price. Anything over the $400,000 they will pay 2% of to the land bank.

The Land Bank properties are open to the public. There are so many that I am including a link with a map to all the properties you could visit on the island. Some of my favorites are Felix Neck Preserve, Great Rock Bite and Edgartown Great Pond. There is information about each property and a description of how to find it. There is no fee to go hiking on these properties. It is a great way to see the natural landscape of the island.

Happy Independence Day! Not a beach day… thanks Arthur.

The 4th of July is one of my favorite holidays.  It usually involves spending a lot of time at the beach, a BBQ and then watching some fireworks.  All in all a low key, fun, relaxing day.  I look forward to it every year and now that I have kids its not as low key, but its still a lot of fun!  We head down to the parade in Edgartown after spending the early part of the day at the beach and then stay to watch the fireworks.  Today was definitely not a beach day, however. Hurricane

photo 13 300x224 Happy Independence Day! Not a beach day... thanks Arthur.

Edgartown Harbor: Hurricane Arthur brings fog and postpones 4th of July celebration

Arthur has brought a thick fog to the island.  In light of Arthur this year the festivities have been postponed from the 4th to the 5th.  Its somewhat disappointing especially for those folks who may have to check out of their rentals tomorrow and end up missing out on the parade and fireworks!  As the storm approaches the skies have darkened, the wind has picked up, the air is cooler, and you get the sense that it is about to rain.  Instead of spending time at the beach today we picked up loose items from the yard so we don’t lose them or break something in the storm.  Some folks are hauling their boats out of the water instead of motoring out to watch the fireworks.  Its still beautiful here though, I must say, and I’m still happy its the 4th of July even if there are no fireworks tonight.  We are perhaps reminded to slow down a bit and remember what this day is truly about, our freedom! How blessed we are to live in America! I know I take the enormous amount of freedom we have for granted most of the time and I am grateful to have this peaceful 4th of July to remind me just how much it means to us all.  I hope that everyone enjoys a safe 4th or 5th of July and remember to take a moment from your BBQ, your beach time, your party to be grateful for the freedom that we enjoy today and everyday.  I know that I will never forget the 4th of July that was postponed due to a hurricane, but I still can’t wait to see the fireworks tomorrow! photo 224x300 Happy Independence Day! Not a beach day... thanks Arthur.

Tips on Making the Leap to Home Ownership: Credit Tips and Tying it All Together

In our first two blog posts for first time homebuyers we discussed steps to take when you are ready to buy a home and we also gave you some insight into first-time homebuyer mortgage loans. Today we’re going to tie things together a bit more and talk about credit scores.

In the last post I gave you what mortgage products the different local lenders offer to first time homebuyers and now I’d like to provide some information on what lenders use to determine how much of mortgage loan you will qualify for. These four items are what lenders rely on to assess your credit worthiness:

  1. Employment History
  2. Monthly Income
  3. Down Payment
  4. Credit Score

Employment history means that the bank would like to see you having held a position for 2 or more years or at least, if its not the same position, that you haven’t had any significant breaks in employment. This means that you haven’t been out of work for long periods of time.

Income means that you make enough to cover your current expenses; credit cards, car payment, etc. and have room to add a mortgage payment with taxes and interest as well.

Down Payment we covered in the last blog post can be anywhere from 3-20% of the purchase price of your home. Don’t forget about having some extra money for those closing costs!

Credit Score is also called your FICO score and most lenders prefer to see this number well above 620. The higher the number the better chance you have of qualifying for a loan. Each lender has a certain FICO requirement for loans, a number you must be at or above to qualify. You may wonder how this score is calculated and its somewhat of a mystery, but there are certain factors that are used in a establishing it and you can control those. The factors that the credit companies use to determine your score are:

  1. Payment history: They look at whether your payments are on time or consistently late.
  2. Amount of outstanding debt: How close to your credit limit are your balances? If you maxed out on your credit cards or very close then this affects the score negatively
  3. Length of credit history: How long have you had these credit accounts? The older they are the better it reflects in your score.
  4. New credit: If you are applying for a lot of installment loans, retail credit cards or any kind of credit like this it can reflect negatively on your score because there isn’t sufficient time to determine your payment history on the card and it also increases the amount of debt you could possibly incur.
  5. Credit used : The credit reporting agency uses the types of credit you have to help determine a score. They like to see different types of credit. For example a car loan, student loan, credit card.

What if your credit isn’t very good or you don’t have a long credit history? Here are some ideas to help improve it:

  1. Set up automatic payments to your accounts so your payments aren’t late: this helps avoid late fees and helps your credit history.
  2. If you are married or perhaps your parents have credit cards as if they will add you as a “user” on the account. (Make sure they make their payments though!). This move could help add credit to your history and improve your score. Just don’t use the card…you don’t want to incur more debt.

If you are just starting to think about buying a house then you have time to save for a down payment and pay down credit cards to help get you closer to the home you want. Don’t close any credit accounts though, keep them open to provide a credit history.

Educate yourself every step of the way, make sure you pick professionals that you feel comfortable with and who are eager to explain the process and answer any questions you may have. Remember that these people are working for you! It’s exciting when you decide to buy your first home and it can also be overwhelming.

Hopefully our blog tips have given you some ideas to help you reach your goal of home ownership. We are happy to help answer any questions you may have. Give Sheylah Callen a call if you are a first-time homebuyer and you would like help. Sheylah’s mortgage lending background along with her real estate sales experience is a great match for first time home-buyers.


Family Friendly Summer Activities on Martha’s Vineyard

A while ago I posted a blog about summer camps here on the Vineyard.  As summer is quickly approaching I thought I would revisit the subject of what to do with your kiddos during the break.  In case you missed out on camp registration or your kids aren’t old enough or maybe you just want to spend every moment of your vacation here on the Vineyard enjoying it as a family there are a lot of fun things to  do together.

Of course you will be going to the beach when you’re here…A great easy beach to take kids to is State Beach as its closer to the road its easier to carry all that stuff you have to bring to the beach when you have kids.  Its shallow water is great for kids to splash in, there are shells to find, and probably another family close by with kids as well.  To get a parking spot I suggest going no later then 10:30 in the morning, however.  The beach in Menemsha is also easy to get to with kids.  It does have limited parking, but there are shops and food nearby as well. Its also a perfect location to watch the sunset.

For a small donation amount your family can learn some island history and enjoy breathtaking views from the Edgartown Lighthouse, East Chop Lighthouse or the Gay Head Lighthouse.  After visiting Edgartown Light you could set up a nice picnic on the beach and watch as boats move in and out of the harbor.  Gay Head Light can be a bit of a drive, but seeing the cliffs will make it worth the trip.  Its a beautiful setting with shops and food close by.  East Chop Lighthouse is open for sunset tours from June 15-Sept. 14.  More information can be found at:

What if its a rainy day and the beach is out? Some indoor activity ideas are Flying Horses or the game room in Oak Bluffs.  All of the libraries on Martha’s Vineyard have an excellent children’s section with computers and games and tons of interesting books.  The Chilmark Library offers stories and songs on Tuesday and Saturday every week from 10:30 to 11:15.  The West Tisbury Library has Mother Goose on the Loose every Monday at 10:30 for kids 0-3 and they also offer a preschool age story time on Thursday at 10:30.  The Vineyard Haven Library offers story time Tuesdays at 10:00 for kids 0-2 and 11 for 3-5 year olds.  They also have Tween Time Wednesdays from 3-5 for kids aged 8-11 that features Wii games or PG movies.  These activities are also a great way to make some summer friends. The Edgartown Library offers all kinds of activities and crafts that vary day to day.  You can visit their website to find out more about what they offer:

These are some of my favorite family friendly summer activities.  I hope you have a fantastic summer and please keep checking back for more kid friendly ideas.



Great Katama Rental for a Family Vacation

Edgartown Marthas Vineyard rental Great Katama Rental for a Family Vacation

This beautiful, newly renovated Colonial vacation rental is ready to welcome your family in the Katama area of Edgartown.

Kitchen in Katama vacation rental 300x225 Great Katama Rental for a Family Vacation

This four bedroom, three bath home features a gourmet kitchen, central air conditioning, and a large stone patio for outdoor entertaining. The open living room has vaulted ceilings and stone fireplace that flows to the formal dinning room.  Bike to South Beach or downtown from this convenient location.


Or just relax and enjoy the Martha’s Vineyard sea air! For more information, view our rental listing or call us at 508-693-6626.

Katama Edgartown vacation rental 300x225 Great Katama Rental for a Family Vacation

Tips on making the leap to home ownership: mortgages

Last week we provided some great tips to help prepare buyers for their house hunt and now we’re following up with some more detailed information on lending and obtaining a mortgage loan. A big question everyone has when purchasing his or her first home is “how much of a down payment do I need?” I have some good news…if you don’t have 20% to put down on a home purchase you can still get a loan! Maybe you have about 10% to put down on a house you could get a loan without the required mortgage insurance. Even if you have only 3 or 5% you could still get a loan, although private mortgage insurance is required for these types of loans its nice to have the option of purchasing with less then 20% down. What is private mortgage insurance? PMI or private mortgage insurance is an additional monthly cost that is added to the loan payment if you were to put less then 20% down and it is provided for the lender’s security in case you default on your loan. Being able to put less then 20% down is exciting news, but don’t forget those closing costs! You must have some money for those fees as well. As mentioned in the previous blog a lender will be able to provide you with an estimate of closing costs so that you can prepare.

It’s encouraging for those looking to purchase homes in today’s economy that you can still do so with less then 20% down.

Below is a general overview of programs available at our local banks. Please contact the lending institution for specific details on qualifying and rates.

Martha’s Vineyard Savings Bank does not offer programs with Private Mortgage Insurance so they cannot go above 89.9% LTV**. They do however, offer a first time home -buyer program where you can put 10.1% down and not have any Mortgage Insurance.

Santander offers FHA loans, which have the lowest down payment requirements at 3.5% down and this loan would require mortgage insurance. They have conventional loans with 95% LTV also requiring mortgage insurance and they are a Mass Housing Approved Lender which has some strict income guidelines and from what I understand it does not offer a very high LTV so it could be challenging to find something on the Vineyard that would qualify for Mass Housing, however it is a down payment assistance program and may be worth looking into.

Edgartown National Bank offers programs with Mortgage Insurance so they can offer loans with as little as 5% down.

Cape Cod Cooperative offers a first-time-home-buyer program with 10% down and no Mortgage Insurance on up to a $500,000 loan amount. This bank also has loan programs requiring as little as 5% down, which would require Mortgage Insurance. The do have minimum credit score requirements for these programs. They also have the ability to go to a 40 -year amortization schedule. They do offer a competitive program for second home purchases as well. They do not offer VA or FHA loans.

Cape Cod 5 located on the Cape also has a lending branch here on island and they have some great first-time-homebuyer programs too. They offer Mass Housing programs, and can offer loans with LTV up to 97% with Mortgage Insurance. They have great construction loans as well so if you find land or a home that needs a rehab you may want to give Cape Cod 5 a call.

We are just touching on programs that would interest first time home-buyers here, however all of these banks also offer mortgages for refinances, construction loans, jumbo loans and straight purchase mortgages for those not considered first time home-buyers.

** LTV stands for Loan to Value and it’s the amount of money a lender will loan you based on the value of the home you are purchasing.

Look for next week’s wrap up to this blog series with some final tips and putting it all together.

Edgartown Home with Private Dock and Pond Views for Sale

House with pond views Edgartown Home with Private Dock and Pond Views for Sale

Built by one of the islands best builders, this handsome home exudes a casual elegance and is designed to accommodate the inevitable summer overflow, while offering plenty of quiet and peaceful spaces for retreat.

view of Sengekontacket Pond 300x225 Edgartown Home with Private Dock and Pond Views for SaleMature plantings and flowering trees grace the front yard, while the back is like a bird sanctuary, the lush vegetation and shoreline home to swans, geese and a wide variety of songbirds. A private dock, only one of a few allowed on Sengekontacket, gives direct access to the pond, where kids of all ages can swim, kayak, sail, clam and explore the coves.

open floor plan on the Boulevard 300x225 Edgartown Home with Private Dock and Pond Views for Sale


The interior finishes and appointments are fashionably upscale, yet the house was designed to offer comfort and ease of maintenance for summer or year round living. View the full listing here:  and call us to discuss making this beauty yours! 508-693-6636.


Tips on making the leap to homeownership: getting started.

Are you thinking of buying a home, but don’t know where to start? Here in a three part blog series I hope to help demystify the mortgage process. We will discuss the first steps to take in preparing yourself for the process, I will provide information from local banks about their first-time-home buyer programs, and I will give a general overview of other loan types that are available. For most of us this is the largest purchase we will ever make. Our goal is to provide tips for helping you navigate the process with confidence.

Today I will start the series by discussing the four steps you should take when you first decide you want to buy a home.

Step 1:

Take an in depth look at your financial situation. You should find out your credit score, look at how much you earn, how much you owe, and how much savings you have. This all helps you prepare for meeting with a mortgage loan officer and helps you to better understand your financial picture. I suggest doing this even if you’re not planning on buying a house. It can be a very eye opening experience. It’s important to look at your finances on paper so that you know how much you owe and how much savings you have. If you do this it will be a much smoother process when you are ready to talk to a mortgage lender. The lender will use this information to determine how much of a loan you would qualify for. They look at DTI (debt to income ratio) to help determine the loan amount you will qualify for. DTI is a ratio figured by taking your monthly debt payments and dividing them by your monthly income amount. The lender will use your credit score to assess your ability to repay debt. They look at whether or not there were late payments, how much you owe, and how long you have had credit. All of these factors go into determining a credit score that is issued by the credit reporting bureaus. For those of you unfamiliar with credit reporting agencies there are three Transunion, Equifax, and Experian. You can get access to your credit score ahead of time and also call the agency if there are any discrepancies on your credit report before meeting with the lender. If you would like to find out your credit score you could go online to and for a fee you can pull a credit score from all three credit bureaus. Your credit score may be different from each of the bureaus however, the mortgage lender will use the average credit score in the qualifying process.

Step 2:

Determine the amount you have to put down for your purchase excluding closing costs. You might have heard you need a 20% down payment now because of all the tightening of lending regulations. Well, I have some good news about that you don’t! Now, if you are lucky enough to have 20% for a down payment you should definitely use it. It will help lower your monthly payment and that is a very good thing. If however, like many people, you don’t have 20% you can still consider buying a home. There are programs that will accept as little as 3% down. Of course you still need to qualify for the loan by proving that you have the income ability and credit history to pay the loan on a monthly basis. However, having to come up with a lower down payment could put home ownership closer to your reach. Keep in mind that your down payment amount does not include closing costs and so you will need to have some additional funds to pay for the fees associated with buying the home. When you speak to a lender about qualifying for a home they will also provide you with the information about closing costs. Closing costs usually include such items as the appraisal fee, attorney’s fees, taxes, insurance, recording fees and other items. The lender will provide you with a good faith estimate and this will have estimated closing costs. If something doesn’t make sense, always ask! This is a huge financial decision and any lender who knows what they are doing will be happy to answer your questions.

Step 3:

Get prequalified or even preapproved for a loan. Contact a lender, ask about their first-time-home buyer programs and get prequalified for a loan so that you know how much home you can afford. It would be very disappointing to start looking at homes in the $600,000 price range, find one you love, put in an offer and then find out you don’t qualify for the loan. I am a huge proponent of not putting the cart before the horse. I believe it is very important to know how much of a loan you can qualify for and how much of a down payment you need to have before looking at homes. It gives you control over your search.

**I will discuss programs that our local banks offer in my next post.

Step 4:

Find a real estate agent that you feel comfortable with.   Once you have determined the price range that you qualify for you should find a real estate agent. The agent you choose may come through the referral of a friend or relative and that can be very helpful. Maybe you visited an open house when you first started thinking of buying and you really liked the agent that was there. You should feel satisfied that the person you are working with has your best interests in mind. You should value their opinion because part of their job is to help advise you. Remember this is a huge financial decision and the person helping you should be able to answer any concerns you may have. You shouldn’t feel pushed into doing something you aren’t ready to.

Finding a home is a process, take your time, find the right professionals to help you and have fun!

**Next week’s blog post will provide more information on the different first-time-home buyer programs that our local banks offer.

Edgartown In Town Vacation Rental

Edgartown Vacation Rental Edgartown In Town Vacation Rental

Built in 1849, this immaculate in town vacation rental home has all of the modern conveniences while maintaining its historic charm.

main house kitchen edgartown 300x225 Edgartown In Town Vacation Rental
The 4 bedroom main house has a gourmet kitchen, dinner seating for 10, multiple sitting areas, and two master bedroom suites. The separate guest house offers approximately 900 square feet of additional living space with queen size bed for extended families or 

Marthas Vineyard in town rental 300x225 Edgartown In Town Vacation Rental
The well maintained yard and gardens make the outdoor setting the place to be in the summer months.

For more information or to reserve your space, please call us at 508-693-6626.

You can also view listing details at:


Perfect for an Oak Bluffs Family Vacation

Oak Bluffs vacation rental marthas Vineyard Perfect for an Oak Bluffs Family Vacation

Martha’s Vineyard has a lot to appeal to large or extended families looking to go on vacation together, and this five bedroom Victorian cottage in Oak Bluffs is the perfect spot to call home base.

Not only does this vacation rental offer view from Tuckernuck Ave vacation rental 300x225 Perfect for an Oak Bluffs Family Vacationplenty of room for a large family, but it has a spectacular water view and is right on the park and an excellent location for families wanting to be close to the action… walking distance to beaches, ferries, and town.  

five bedroom Oak Bluffs vacation rental 300x225 Perfect for an Oak Bluffs Family Vacation

To learn more about this vacation rental, you can check out the rental listing or give us a call to reserve your spot!