Ruth Malkin Top Brookline Real Estate Agent

The Real Estate Market and the Holidays

Wondering if you should take your Greater Boston property off the market during the holidays? Watch the short video below to learn the advice I’m giving my clients.

 

Hi everybody. It’s Ruth. I want to talk about the real estate market during the holiday and the winter months, and about days on market and how it’s really time to look at that number a bit differently. So the winter months, we know that traditionally between Thanksgiving and roughly mid to late February the real estate market slows down substantially. I do want to point out, though, that in the metro areas, where we’re less sensitive to the school year cycle, these seasonalities are much more flexible and much harder to predict. There is a lot more activity going on then there used to be in winter months, partly because of the inventory shortage in the past few years and because it’s just been a year-round market. Sure, it cuts down a bit, but it has not stopped, and it has been active the past few winters and through the holiday season.

If you’re a home seller, you’re probably asking your real estate agent, or just like my clients have asked me, should I be taking my property off the market during the holiday? Is this something that I should be doing? So, to this, I ask, why would you be doing that? If this is a lifestyle decision, if selling the home during the holidays is going to be disruptive to you in any way, by all means take the property off the market. Let’s put it back on when this time has passed. But, if the motivation is because you do not want to accumulate days on market, to that I say, that is not a good enough reason not to be on market. It is time to think about days on market very differently. The market has changed. The days of a property going on the market and selling over the weekend, well, that’s going to be more and more rare, and even the best of properties are going to take a few weeks to sell. That is not unusual. It is unusual to us because of what’s been happening in the past few years, but that is not unusual for the market.

We need to detach ourselves from the days on market. And buyers, as home buyers, you shouldn’t even be too concerned about days on market. You should see it as no successful negotiation has happened yet. It is not a reflection on a property, whatsoever, or the quality of the property. You should be looking at if the home has been off market and on market several times, you want to ask, well, why hasn’t sold? Why has it been off market? That’s a great question. But, as a home buyer, to just look at a number of days on market and assume that it means anything except for, this home has been on the market for a while, and the market has slowed down is the wrong way to look at things.

So, home buyers, home sellers, it’s time to detach yourself from that number of days on market. It may not mean so much, especially in a changing market. Two years ago, last year, something has been on market 10 days, we’d worry it didn’t sell in one open house. What’s wrong with it? If you really think about it, that is outrageous. Let’s focus less on how long it takes to sell things. Let’s focus more on making sure a buyer is finding the right property, and a home seller is getting the right deal for their property, and trust that it will, although, it will take longer, it will happen. So, I wish you a wonderful, warm, winter, and holiday season.

real estate market update

Market Update: What Does Fall Hold For The Boston Real Estate Market?

What’s happening in the Greater Boston real estate market? Here’s my fall market update:

 

HI everybody. It’s Ruth. I’m in my home office and I want to talk for a minute about what’s going on in the real estate market, Fall 2018. Things have changed. They have really changed since last spring and over the summer, which were extremely busy and extremely tight markets and we’re looking at a very different real estate market here in Boston and Brookline.

So, what’s going on? First of all, home sellers. Is it time to panic? No. It’s not. This is still a very good market for home sellers. Prices have gone up tremendously in the past few years, but instead of going up at such an accelerated rate like we’ve seen since roughly 2013, the home prices will go up but I think closer to the inflation rate, which is about 2, 3%, maybe up to 5% but not much more than that. So I think we’re going to see home prices stabilize and I think right now what we’re seeing is that slow down before we take the turn to kind of a stable market.

Home buyers, this is better news for you. After years and years of bidding wars and fighting for properties, you’re going to maybe have more choices as more inventory’s going to come on the market. You’re still going to enjoy fairly low mortgage rates.

Speaking of mortgage rates, what’s going on there? We are looking at mortgage rates that are increasing. They’re increasing because income is going up, so I think what is going to happen is that interest rates are not going to put a dent in the prices, really, and they don’t always really have a great effect on the prices because interest rates rising are usually due to a growing, expanding economy, more jobs, and more income.

So, what are we looking at? I think we’re looking about a 5% plus interest rate by the end of 2019. And I think we’re going to see a steady healthier market and sellers, don’t expect people running with a check in hand to the open house. Expect that some people are going to actually think about before they’re going to put in an offer.

So, if you have any questions, want to talk about the market with me, call, text, write a comment. Love to hear from you and we’ll talk to you soon.

 

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Ruth Malkin Brookline Real Estate Expert

Home Builder Sentiment: What Does It Mean?

Recent Home Builder Sentiment: What Does It Mean?

Home builder sentiment is very positive, currently around 70%, which is quite an optimistic outlook on the market. It is, however down from previous months. Why is that? Here’s my take on it all. Let me know what you think. I always love hearing from you.

 

Hi, everybody. It’s Ruth. I want to talk about the home-builder sentiment that just went down a little bit, and some agents have been talking about it. I spoke to some clients about it, and what does it all mean and why are home builders a little bit less optimistic about the market than they were last month?

The home builder sentiment is still very positive. It’s at 70%, which is quite an optimistic outlook on the market, but it’s a little bit less optimistic than what it was in the previous months, and why is that?

Number one, most builders are really worried that the cost of building is going up, so the cost of the actual materials of commodities, they’re really worried about it putting a damper on profits.

Number two, so much of the housing that has been built has been around luxury, high-end housing, and that market is actually slowing down considerably, so the luxury market has slowed, and we’re seeing that across the country in various price ranges, whatever the luxury echelon is in every market.

What does that also mean for home buyers? Hopefully, there will be a little bit more investment into smaller homes and entry-level homes, which is what home buyers really need and what we really have a shortage of. We definitely have a shortage of that in the Boston area.

Are we seeing a bit of a slowdown in the market? Yes, we are seeing across the board a slowdown in terms of the number of offers we’re getting on properties and the foot traffic we’re getting at open houses.

I’m talking to some agents from across the country. Everybody’s experiencing this, so properties are staying on a little bit longer, and the bidding wars are not as dramatic as they have been.

Is it still a seller’s market? Yes, but it is evening out a little bit in the past couple of months. Finally, for buyers, it has been a little bit easier to pick up the properties they want to live in.

If you have any questions, call, text. Write a comment below. Love hearing from you.

Boston Real Estate Market Update

Real Estate Market Update – July 2018

The market is hot right now in Boston, Brookline and Brighton. Will it stay that way? I’ve been helping clients make great real estate decisions for over 15 years. Here’s my thoughts on the Boston real estate market right now:

 

Hi, everybody. It’s Ruth. I want to give a quick market update. It is the end of July 2018, and we have had really a very robust and unusually busy market this summer. July is quiet, and August, are usually quite slow in Boston in real estate. So what is attributing to this market? I think I’ve spoken to this, about this before.

Some people are saying, “Well, the weather was really terrible through mid-April; therefore, buyers were not out, and sellers were not coming on the market until late April, early May.” More likely culprit was all the market jitters we had in the beginning of the year, plus the interest rate hikes that started, and are going to continue through the rest of the year. Everybody kind of took a pause to see what’s going on with their finances.

We’re also seeing this trend throughout the country. I’ve spoken to agents all around the country, where they do have a seasonal market, like we do here in Boston. And they are saying July is unusually busy after a very slow first quarter 2018. National statistics are out. May home sales have declined nationwide. We are looking at an inventory shortage, a story throughout this country. The people who are suffering the most are the first time home buyers, the young families, the entry-level buyers. For us here in Boston metro, we’re looking in the smaller condo, the two-bedroom condo market, and this is a problem nationwide with smaller homes.

I did some research for a client of mine and we looked at the numbers. In the past four years, four years, the average prices of condominiums in Brighton have gone up 55%, 55%. The past four years, the average price of condominium Brookline have gone up 40%. Wow, what an investment in the past few years to own a condominium in Brookline, Brighton, and really, in most of greater Boston.

But if the average price has gone up by 55%, does that mean your condo is worth 55% more? Well, not necessarily and probably not. That average price is really being pulled up by a lot of the, kind of the luxury, and the new construction, and the larger units being built this past couple of years in Brighton, and now are being sold. They are pulling this number up. Your home is not necessarily worth 55% more than it was just four years ago. But it is worth a lot more. It has been a very dynamic and generous market to home sellers in almost all of Boston’s neighborhoods, Brookline, as well as Newton.

If you have any questions about the real estate market, don’t hesitate to contact me. Text, write me, call me. I love hearing from you. Have a fantastic rest of the summer.

Boston Real Estate Market Update

Real Estate Market Update – June 2018

What’s happening in the Greater Boston real estate market? Here’s my Spring market update…. the real estate market is full of change and surprises.

Hi everybody, it’s Ruth. I wanted to give you a market update on the Spring real estate market. So the word on the street has been that Spring started a little bit late, that things seem a little slower than usual. We now have the statistics to prove to us, that hunch was correct with sales, the number of sales going down overall in the country and the year even, from last May to this May, the number of home sales is down 3%. On the flip side home prices are up 5% so it’s a tight market. We’re seeing the trend going up in prices as well.

Single family, the supply of single family homes though, is starting to inch up. There is more home sellers with single families going up. The condo market though is getting tighter overall. To me this says that we’re looking at very tight market places, very tight real estate options for buyers in metropolitan areas.

What else is going on? Well the interest rate is hovering around 4.5% but with the arms and with the 15 year you can still get a mortgage rate under 4%. So this is not gonna last probably much longer. I think this is a good time to leverage the interest rate. In the meantime, we are going to see a robust Summer. Usually things slow down, especially in Boston, the market slows down during the Summer. I think the Summer is going to be very, very busy. It’s going to be busy right through into the Fall season and into the Winter. Last Winter was very busy in Boston and it’s going to be again this year.

So late start on the market but I think we’re gonna more than make up for it in the latter half of the year. Lock in those interest rates if you’re thinking about buying. This is a great time to figure out what is the best way to secure an inexpensive loan. So if you have any questions, write comments below, text, call me, love to hear from you.

 

how tax laws impact real estate

How The New Tax Law Will Impact Your Home

Are you wondering how the new tax laws will impact your home? I interview Bob Ingle, my accountant, about this important topic:

Ruth:  Hi, it’s Ruth again and I’m here with Bob Ingle at Ingle and Associates in Wellesley and we are talking about the changes in the tax code and how it’s effecting homeowners here in the greater Boston area especially. So, Bob, explain how the interest deduction is now changing with the new tax code.

Bob Ingle: Hi, Ruth. Thank you for having me on. Excuse me. As we all know, buying a home is a wonderful asset to purchase and the government helps out a bit by making the mortgage interest on the home deductible. The biggest change to the mortgage interest is on larger homes. When you have a mortgage of more than $750,000, which is fairly large in this day and age even in Massachusetts, the interest you pay on the mortgage in excess of $750,000 is not deductible, which curtails what deduction you can take and the tax savings that you have.

Ruth:  So, essentially what we’re saying is that the very high end homes and buyers who need to mortgage, to get a mortgage for those homes are going to be … Not being able to benefit as much from those deductions and their taxes essentially are going to go up.

Bob Ingle:  That is correct. That is on only new mortgages.

Ruth: Only new mortgages. So everything, any mortgage taken up to now is not going to be effected by this law.

Bob Ingle:  That’s right. The current limit is $1.1 million dollars of mortgage interest is deductible.

Ruth:  How is the state and local tax deduction going to change, Bob?

Bob Ingle:  All right. There is a change in this tax law. But let me first go back a step and saying that it’s always great to be a homeowner. The government likes you to be homeowners so they give you certain deductions that you don’t normally have beyond the standard deduction. In the past, you could only deduct taxes and real estate taxes paid if you itemize your taxes on your return.  They are now limiting the combination of real estate and state income tax deductions to $10,000 per return. That is a significant change in the tax law. People in the higher towns easily pay excess of $10,000 in taxes.

Ruth:   Yup.

Bob Ingle:   And then income tax on top of that. So, even though your tax rates might be going down, your taxable income is going up.

Ruth:   So, the places most effected by it are people with … Those who are most effected are those who are already paying high income taxes at the state level.

Bob Ingle:  Right.

Ruth:  And those who are living in towns such as Weston or Newton or areas where the real estate tax is very high.

Bob Ingle:   That’s correct.

Ruth:  So, it’s the combination of the local tax plus the state tax together, in excess of $10,000 is not going to be deductible.

Bob Ingle:  That is correct. That’s going to effect most of my clients. So, planning is very important going forward.

Ruth:  All right. Is there any way to mitigate this a little bit?

Bob Ingle:  A lot of my clients are paying the first quarter real estate for 2018 now, before the end of the year. But, no, there’s not much …

Ruth:   But by the time this comes out, it’s going to be too late.

Bob Ingle:  Right. So, we’ll stop here. We’re done.

Ruth:  We’re done. There’s no way to mitigate. They’re taking our money.

Bob Ingle:  Big Brother is watching us.

Ruth:  Take it up with the GOP. If you have any other questions about the tax code, you can call me but I’m going to ask you to call Bob instead. We are going to give all the contact information for Ingle and Associates and they can answer all of your questions about how specifically you are going to be effected by the new tax code. Thank you so much. You know where to find me. Call, text, write a comment below. We love hearing from you.

 

2018 real estate predictions boston

2018 Real Estate Predictions

Were my 2017 real estate predictions correct? What do I think 2018 will have in store for the Greater Boston real estate market?

Hi everybody, it’s Ruth. Happy New Year. Happy 2018. A quick video just to talk about what I think is going to happen in the Greater Boston real estate market in 2018. I think the first thing we’re going to see is finally more inventory. I did make that prediction for 2017, and I was wrong, but I am sticking to that prediction for 2018. I think finally we’re going to see some of that inventory come on the market and less pressure on the market. More homes to choose from.

With that, I see a flattening out of the prices. Prices only went up about 3.5% in Boston and Brookline in the past year, so I think the prices are just above flattening out. Less pressure, fewer multiple offers on each listing. This is great news for buyers. It’s going to be easier to pick up a home. It doesn’t mean that it’s going to be a buyer market. I think it’s still going to be a seller leaning market though.

Mortgage rates, last year I did predict they’re going to stay under 5%. The absolutely stayed under 5%. They’re hovering around 4%. I think they are going to go up a little bit and still stay under 5%. Mortgage rates are looking good.

I think the changes in the tax code and refer to a previous video I did with my tax accountant Bob Ingle about how the tax code is going to impact housing. I think it’s going to impact mostly housing in the higher end market, $1.5 million and above. These are the buyers that are going to feel that impact the most and maybe the buyers for those price ranges, their budgets are going to go down slightly. That may be reflected in the price as we will see.

 In general, I see a very active market coming up in 2018 in Greater Boston. The ultra luxury and luxury markets are going to be slowing down $2.5, $3 million and up. Slowing down already for the past year. They’re going to keep slowing down, which is the first indicator of a leveling off.

Some markets that are going to pop, I think the condo market in Brookline is still going to be extremely hot and the condo market in Brighton as well. We had almost no inventory last year in Brighton. I think that’s going to change and I think prices are going to go up more significantly in places like Brighton, in West Roxbury where these are entry level housing for Boston residents. And of course, Brookline and Newton on the lower end of the market, under $1 million are also going to be very active, very hot as young families are moving into these wonderful communities with excellent schooling.

Some of the hot topics that are going to be discussed in the housing realm in Greater Boston. One hot topic is going to be walkability. The closer the home is to a walkable area, meaning a place with some commercial activity and public transportation, the better the home is situated. Walkability is very high on the priority list and the lifestyle that the buyers are looking for.

As for the design trend, I think we’re going to see a continuation of a preference for minimalistic and smaller homes. More flexible designs. The location is more important than the square footage. We’re going to see higher prices per square footage for smaller homes. We’re going to see a continuation in that trend as families value open space and flexible space over the amount of space, and the location being the number one priority for most home buyers.

If you would like to discuss how the housing market in 2018 is going to impact you as a home buyer, as a home seller, I would love to talk to you individually. Every story is different. Everybody has different needs, a different lifestyle and a different home. Give me a call, write me a text, make a comment below. I would love to hear from you. Have a wonderful, happy, joyous 2018.

 
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Ruth Malkin Brookline Real Estate Expert

 

how interest rates affect boston real estate market

What do the Fed’s Rate Hikes REALLY Mean for Real Estate?

The Fed’s recent rate hike . . . what does it REALLY mean for Boston real estate? 

 

Hi, everybody. It’s Ruth. I wanted to quickly talk about the recent hike in rates from the Federal Reserve, and we’re probably going to see a couple more of these rate hike through 2017.

And we have real estate agents and mortgage brokers have a lot of questions about the rate hikes because consumers do believe that this will somehow affect the mortgage rates, and thus home values as well.

So what does the Federal Reserve rate hike really mean? So the reason the Federal Reserve raises rates is it maybe tapper off a little bit of inflation, seeing the market is being overheated. It’s usually a sign that there is positive economic activity going on. And it is the Federal Reserve’s way of kind of balancing out to maybe encourage more savings, encourage too much pressure on wage increases and tapper off inflation.  

So what does this rate affect? Well it’s a short term rate. The Federal Reserve is an overnight rate, interest rate, so this will affect mostly your short term loans, your credit, your credit cards, your car loans, and your home equity lines of credit. It will affect those rates. So what about the mortgage rates? Well, mortgage rates are mostly affected by the longer term rates of the treasury market. And those have not been really increasing lately. And that has little relation, really, to the Federal Reserve rate and the short term rates.  

There are several different interest rates, and I’m not going to bore you with those details or bore myself with those details, but if you want to learn more, please feel free to give me a call, and we can discuss it. I do want to say that if you are working with a mortgage broker or a real estate agent who is telling you that you need to quickly sell because your home is going to be worth less due to an interest rate increase or quickly buy because mortgage rates are soon going to go up, that means either they don’t understand the market, or they’re lying to you. Please fire that agent and find somebody who understands that your mortgage rates and your federal reserve rate are not moving in unison, and somebody who’s going to tell you the truth and never pressure you into buying or selling at any time. 

If you have any questions you want to discuss, call me, write me a text, email me. I love hearing from you. Thank you so much. 
 
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real estate tax rate

Massachusetts Real Estate Tax Rates

Below find an interactive map of Massachusetts tax rates by towns created by Kurt Rosenfeld, including information on residential exemption.  Some of the highest real estate taxes, per $1,000 in assessed value, are in Longmeadow at $23.58, Wilbraham at $22, and Maynard at $22.

Lowest real estate taxes are paid in Hancock (Berkshire County) at $2.94 and Chatham at $5.03.  

Remember, the tax rate is calculated per thousand dollars of assessed value.  Even though Brookline’s real estate taxes seems fairly low for Massachusetts at $9.88, the high property value accounts for the sizable tax liability homeowners pay.  But Brookline, along with a handful of other towns, has a residential exemption. 

A residential exemption allows homeonwers to pay less taxes than real estate investors.  The exemption is a reduction in the assessed value of the home.  In Brookline the residential exemption saves homeowners nearly $2,300 for fiscal year 2017.  In Boston, homeowners save $2,435 this year, and in Cambridge $2,046.

For an interactive version of the map, click on it.  

Massachusetts Real Estate Tax Rates

massachusetts real estate taxes

Massachusetts Real Estate Tax Map by Kurt Rosenfeld, March 2017. For details, five year rate history, and residential exemption information, click on the map for an interactive version.

 

home seller's market boston

3 Things I Dislike About The Home Seller’s Market Right Now

There’s 3 things I dislike about the home seller’s market in Boston right now. I share my comments in the video below:

 

Here’s a transcript of the video:

Hi, everybody. It’s Ruth. I wanted to share a few thoughts I’ve had about the home seller’s market as a result from a conversation I had with a new client buyer of mine last week.

There are three things I really dislike about the home seller’s market. We’re defining the home seller’s market as for the very low inventory we’re finding in Boston and Brookline, and many other parts of the country. We’re also seeing the home prices going up very, very quickly, and multiple offers on almost every single property coming on the market in the overwhelming majority of price ranges.

The three things I really dislike about this market. Number one, I’m working with a lot of young families who are struggling to find housing, suitable housing, that they can afford in communities where they want to live, be it Brookline, Newton, Arlington, some other areas, Wellesley as well, where families, young families, are unable to enjoy the community where they really want to live. They are being pushed out even to very entry level housing. Their incomes may be high but prices are way, way up. Housing is taking up a greater and greater portion of the income. That’s one thing we’re struggling with in this market.

Number two is sellers are starting to get a little bit overconfident. I think it’s a very natural part of this cycle that at some point, after a strong seller’s market, homeowners believe their properties are worth a lot more sometimes than they are. That the homebuyers are willing to pay anything for it. That’s not really the case. They may be desperate for housing but they’re not going to pay anything for the property. That’s a conversation I’m finding I’m having more often with home sellers.

The third point I want to make about the home seller’s market is the vicious cycle aspect of it. When there’s low inventory in one price range, it’s hard for buyers to move around. Therefore, sellers are not putting their home on the market. They don’t have anywhere to go. This becomes a cycle. I am speaking to several of you, many of you out there, home sellers thinking about putting their homes on the market. But where do we go? How do we move? What if we do not find a place to go? That is the biggest concern of home seller’s right now, is what if I don’t find a place to go. Do I still need to sell my place? The vicious cycle aspect of it is making things worse and making it harder to break out of the strong home seller’s market.

Thank you for listening. These are the thoughts I wanted to share with you today. You know where to find me. If you want to comment, talk, ask a question, call, text, write a comment. 
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