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condo conversion

Should I Do a Condo Conversion for My Multi-Family House in Brookline?

If you own a two or three family house, I am sure you thought about the option of converting the house into condominiums.

 Watch this video to learn about condo conversion of a multi-family home in the Greater Boston area:

Doing a condo conversion is a tempting prospect, especially in a booming real estate market. Since the sum of condo values will exceed the house’s value, it is an idea worth exploration.

But just because the market is hot doesn’t mean it will be profitable for you!  Whether or not you should turn your two or three family house into condos depends on a few factors.

Here are three important questions to ask before you consider a condo conversion for your house.

1. What is the value of the home as a single entity versus as condominiums?

Your very first step is to ask a highly experienced real estate agent to give you a current price evaluation. The agent will need to provide you with a market analysis for several properties.

  • One analysis will be of the current market for multi-family houses Brookline.
  • Another analysis will be for the condo market in your neighborhood. For each unit in the building you will need a separate analysis, unless they are identical.

Once you know the value of the homes, you will be able to figure out how much you are willing to spend on a condo conversion.

Paperwork for cash money

2. What are the costs associated with the condo conversion?

There are several steps to the process, and each will cost money. There are two substantial expenses in a condo conversion.

– Legal expenses.

You will need to hire a real estate attorney who will write and file the documents, and advise you on the legal process. This may cost $12,000-$15,000.

– Rehab expenses.

This will be the bulk of your expenditure. In order to sell a two family home as two condos, the City will need to inspect the home and ensure it is up-to-code.

If your house is built in the late nineteenth century or early-to-mid twentieth century, like the overwhelming majority of the multi-family homes in Brookline, it is likely there is considerable work to do to get the house up to current standards.

I am not talking about the cosmetic changes.  These are electrical, plumbing, building and safety upgrades, and getting the property up to current codes required in order to obtain a certificate of occupancy necessary to close.

I cannot estimate this cost. If you’ve maintained and updated the house meticulously over the years, it may be $10,000 of various upgrades. If your house is needs a lot of work, it can cost $300,000. There is no way to estimate this without a licensed contractor.

– Expense of selling the home.

Other than the commission, which will be a percentage of the sales, you may also have to supply an engineer’s report for the condo conversion.  This will likely be less than $1,000.

 3.  Do I have the time, energy, and financial resources (cash) to do the necessary work?

This question is self explanatory.  You need to want to do the work involved in a conversion and have the money to pay for it.

Click on the link if you are curious to learn the value of your Brookline multi-family house. Or fill out the form below.

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61 Thatcher St.

Coolidge Corner – Rare 3 BR Condo – 61 Thatcher St. #3

Coolidge Corner is in hot demand right now. Walkability, convenience, prime location, a bustling neighborhood . . . you can have it all in this newly listed 3 BR condo.

 

Three bedroom condominium near Coolidge Corner.  Sunny, second level home with easy floor plan.  Foyer and front hall are welcoming and cheerful, leading to spacious living room with french doors.  Windows overlook beautiful Thatcher Street. Separate formal dining room and three bedrooms, all of them bright and inviting. Hardwood floors throughout and updated baths.  Private porch off the kitchen.  Parking is included, located in the back of the building.  Quiet side street walking distance to transportation, C line, B line, Amory Playground, Boston University.  Steps to both Beacon and Commonwealth Avenue.

Basic Information:
3 Bedrooms
1.5 Baths
1,311 Square Feet
Parking

$839,000

Click To Learn More About Coolidge Corner

 
 

Coolidge Corner is the one of the most walkable neighborhoods in the Boston area.  It is perfect for anyone looking for a home which is close to Downtown Boston, enjoys using the T, and likes to walk to the best restaurants and shops around.  Anywhere you live in Coolidge Corner, you are just steps from a lovely park.

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condo

Luxury Condo Market in Boston and Brookline

Residential real estate is in short supply in Boston and Brookline, there is no question.  This week’s Wall Street Journal had an article about the first time home buyers getting squeezed due to the low inventory and surging prices around the country.  Greater Boston is no exception.  

The pressure on the younger buyers is coming from the lack of inventory and surging prices.  But while the home market gets more expensive, developers seem to be putting much of their effort into luxury property.

Despite the opportunity in entry level and mid-level housing, luxury properties have been the focus of developers in Boston and Brookline, which may soon lead to an over-supply in the high-end market.

Home Worth1

Looking at the Luxury Condominium market in Boston, defined as condominiums priced $1,500,000 and higher, here is a snapshot of three points in time:

  • On April 19, 2015, there were 112 luxury condos on the market, with an average of 96 days on market.
  • Six months ago, October 19, 2015, there were 144 luxury condos available in Boston with an average of 98 days on market.
  • April 19, 2016, there are 166 luxury condos on market with an average 104 days on market.

As of mid April 2016, there is nearly 6 months worth of supply, which means if no new listings come on it will take current inventory six months to sell.  This doesn’t count the projects in the pipeline, only those listed on Multiple Listing Service.

The population growth in Massachusetts, and Boston in particular, will eventually absorb these properties and the coming supply of properties….eventually.  But expect the luxury market will soften in the meantime.  Luxury home buyers are faced with options in the City, both in the variety of condominiums but also with the additional incentives of luxury rental properties popping up all over Boston.

All this luxe development is in the face of the shortage and decreasing inventory of entry level and entry level and mid-level housing for the young Bostonian population.  

For condos priced under $1,500,000, the inventory of condos has shrunk 16% since last April, from 426 condos available late April 2015, to 357 condos on market 2016. This reflects approximately five weeks of supply, (to distinguish from the 6 month supply of luxury condos).   The market is much tighter at prices below $1,000,000.  

In Brookline, MA, where luxury condos are priced $1,200,000 and higher, the market is significantly smaller.  But the trend is similar.  Luxury condos in Brookline have a five month supply of inventory, while the rest of the market has a five week supply.

As the majority of the condo market trend in Brookline and Boston continues to tighten, the luxury market is more balanced and tamed.  The very high end becomes soft and fluffy, while housing becomes less affordable to the first-time home buyers in Greater Boston.
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market analysis

Brookline Real Estate Market 2015 Summary

It was a hot hot hot market in Brookline in 2015, as predicted.  What was not predicted was that the inventory would barely budge.  This pushed the prices higher as demand outstripped supply yet again.

brooklineCondominiums account for the bulk of the transactions in Brookline.  Average prices increased by 8%, the same as the average price increase the previous year.

Year Number of Sales Average Days on Market Average Sale Price
2013 541 26 $689,000
2014 496 37 $744,000
2015 521 31 $804,000

The single family housing market in Brookline is also suffering from a shortage, which pushed the average price up by 11.8% in 2015.  The average price of a single family house in Brookline now exceeds $2,000,000.

brookline house

Year Number of Sales Average Days on Market Average Sale Price
2013 179 80 $1,544,000
2014 169 83 $1,803,000
2015 175 71 $2,015,000

 

Days on market for houses are much longer than in the condominium market, but probably skewed by the length of time it takes to sell the higher end homes, where prices are $3,000,000 and up.  Those houses alone average 155 days on market.  So, the 71 days on market average to sell a house in Brookline overstate the majority of the market, which is much more nimble at lower prices.

What to expect from the Brookline real estate market in 2016?  A similar condominium market, but with about a 10-15% increase in inventory, and a slightly smaller increase in price.  The single family market will also see a tamer increase in prices, but still a robust market.  The higher end may see a bit more inventory and thus will slow down.

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finding best real estate agent

3 Tips to Negotiate Real Estate Commission

finding best real estate agentIt’s a common situation all real estate agents experience. We are discussing the benefits of our services with a perspective seller, and the commission bomb is dropped: “Is the commission negotiable,” the homeowner asks.

“Some agents will do this for 4%,” is another comment I hear often in Brighton.

While most agents fear the commission questions, I welcome them. It is my opinion every perspective seller who did not ask about it, wanted to do so, but didn’t feel it appropriate. It’s on everyone’s mind.

Here are three tips on how negotiating real estate commission, and the replies to expect from the agents you interview for to sell your condo or house in Brookline, Brighton or Newton.

1. Invite more than one real estate agent for a presentation. More options will give you leverage. Tell the agents you are interviewing others.  Knowing this, some agents may offer you a better commission price on the spot or expect to negotiate.

The best real estate agent you will interview will be unfazed by competition and follow-up when you finish interviewing. A highly qualified real estate agent who believes in what she does will not offer a discount.

2. Ask for a specific discount. When home sellers ask me the vague question, “Is the commission negotiable,” my answer is, “Only if you want to pay more.” Everyone laughs, subject is dropped.

When you ask for a specific commission reduction, “Can you reduce it by 0.5%?” for example, the answer must be more specific. A weak real estate professional will be caught off guard and likely say yes.

Your best candidate will say no, and tell you why. The commission breakdown should be transparent. You’ll understand why a 0.5% break for you is a 25% discount in the listing agen’ts compensation. Would you take a 25% pay reduction from your boss? You’d probably look for a better job.

3. Don’t be timid. Most home sellers interviewing real estate agents are uncomfortable negotiating and shy about asking for the discount. Many real estate agents rely on your timidity to get paid full price. If you do not ask the hard questions, you may not find your best candidate.

The best real estate agent to sell your home will never offer a commission discount up-front, and will not yield on negotiating the commission. An agent ready to negotiate commission will be all too ready to negotiate the price of your home and terms and conditions for your sale. If you can easily negotiate with an agent, you should be wary of hiring him to represent your interests.

Instead, use the real estate commission negotiation question to find a confident agent who can handle uncomfortable questions and demonstrates the value of her commission.

Do you have a commission question?  Are you considering curious about the costs of selling a home?  Write me below:

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Ask your real estate questions and I'll get back to you as fast as I can. *YOUR INFORMATION IS CONFIDENTIAL AND WILL NOT BE SHARED WITH OR SOLD TO ANYONE, EVER!*

 

Brookline Multi-Family House

Brookline Condominium Market: Will Buyers Remain Powerless?

The Brookline MA condominium market has been tight and getting tighter for a couple of years now.  Buyers compete for properties in any price range, and inventory remains low.  The number of buyers increase as the inventory has steadily decreased.

The graph below shows peak inventory in 2013 is lower than off-season inventory in the previous two years.

Large Chart

As interest rates remain low, more buyers enter the market and look for homes.  Second time buyers can finally sell or rent their first home easily.  First time home buyers are finding rents skyrocketing and lending more plentiful.

But why aren’t homeowners jumping at the market opportunity to sell their homes?  In a rising market, homeowners believe they will fetch more money for their home if they wait.  If recent history is an indicator of things to come, this is true.  Prices have been rising quickly.

Average price of sold condos:

October 2012: $580,753

March 2013: $630,326

October 2013: $671,088

 

But, alas, recent history is not an indicator of things to come.  It’s the longer history to consider with a fairly repetitive and predictable nature of the real estate market.  The tight conditions can’t last forever.

Potential home sellers will hold on to their Brookline condominium until they perceive the market has topped off.  By the time they put their home up for sale, buyers will regain power, the Brookline real estate market will be more even-handed. Days on market will start to climb and bidding wars will be over.  I predict this will be by the middle or end of 2014.

Those considering selling your home who do not have to buy another property in Brookline, this is a perfect opportunity.  You can take advantage of the last two seasons of a unique sellers’ market.

Three Most Important Contingencies When Buying a Condo

Are you working with a Realtor on your home purchase in Boston? I certainly hope so!  If you are going at it alone, you may overlook the most important contingencies when buying a condo.  In Massachusetts there are two contingencies written into the offer to purchase paperwork.  But what’s not in the standard offer is the most important when buying a condo.  Row of brick houses in Boston

Here are the three contingencies you must have in your offer to buy a condo:

1. Inspection Contingency.  Conduct an inspection with a licensed inspector who comes highly recommended.  You will have 7-10 days (including weekends) to conduct this inspection. Ensure you receive the report in a timely manner, and if you need more time, file for an contingency extension.

2. Financing / Mortgage Contingency.  Unless you are paying cash, you will probably have a mortgage contingency in your offer.  The standard paperwork has it built into the offer.  Usually, roughly a month to six weeks after the offer is accepted.  If you are closing quickly, you’ll have to get it done sooner.  Don’t forget to submit your completed mortgage application in accordance with the deadline in the offer.  If you read carefully through the paperwork, you’ll find the buyer’s obligation to file an application by a specified day.  If not done on time you jeopardize the validity of the mortgage contingency.

3. Condominium Documents Review.  Although not included in the standard paperwork, the condo document review is in my opinion the most important contingency when buying a condo.  It allows you time to read through the condominium documents and financial statements, and pass them on to your attorney to look for anything out of the ordinary.

Why is this so important?  You will learn about the financial health of the building, rules and regulations, and a lot more detail about how the condo association functions.      If the building is in a dismal financial situation and poorly run, expect the value of the condo to deteriorate or the association to have large expenses in the near term.  Furthermore, the mortgage company may reject your application if the building has low owner occupancy or lack of funds.

When including the condominium documents review contingency, don’t forget to specify the documents will be provided within two business days.  The listing broker should have them ready before the condo goes on market, so this should not be a problem.

Writing an offer to purchase a condo requires thought and preparation. Learn the contingencies and don’t depend on standard paperwork alone to protect your interests.

 

bathroom boston condo

Bathroom Renovation and Resale Value for Your Condo

bathroom boston condo

Original subway tile are chic!

Tight space, tight budget, and the fear of sinking money you won’t get back.  Bathroom renovation resale value is not always 100%.  When getting ready to sell your Boston condo, you can make small inexpensive changes with a big impact.

A bathroom is a small space which can make or break a sale.  If it’s yucky, the whole place will be perceived to be a run down home.  A dreamy bathroom can sell the condo. In bathrooms, details can be glaring.  Yet, you can avoid spending tens of thousands of dollars on a complete bathroom renovation, money you won’t get back.

Changing the common mud-back tiles can be very expensive and exhuasting, and completely unnecessary.  Here are the components you need to consider in a small bathroom.  Complete this checklist and you can have a bathroom which will help sell the condo and make you more money.

1.       Medicine Cabinets: If your medicine cabinet can’t be cleaned to a spotless shine, or if it has worn edges, ANY rust, or if it is not stylish, GET RID OF IT.  A medicine cabinet is where the eyes go when you enter the bathroom, and it makes the first impression.  Medicine cabinets which suit your Boston condo can be budget friendly or very spiffy.  Go for something simple and in-line with the condo’s value.

I suggest also getting something with clean lines and big.  Buyers want storage and it will draw the eyes away from the imperfections

brighton condo sold

New curtain, towels and vanity.

beyond repair.

2.       Paint: Peeling paint from excessive moisture, or any discoloration, you must paint.  A sloppy paint job is unforgiving in the bathroom, so take the time to do it right, or hire a painter.  Choose a color which isn’t too weird, please.

3.       Fluffy towels: Buy new towels, and hang them on the towel racks and stack them if you have the space.  Fluffy things make us happy.  Make the buyer happy, it’ll cost you $40.

4.       Clean: Really really clean.  The corners, the spaces behind and in-between, the door, window, tile, top of the medicine cabinet, light fixtures.  If  you don’t feel like Cinderella, you are not cleaning hard enough.

5.       Glaze Tub: If your tub is very dirty, grimy, and stained, glazing can do the trick for only a few hundred dollars.  Just mild discoloration may be overlooked with some non-slip decals.

Note, this is a simple cosmetic issue.  Never ever cover-up or draw attention away from damage to the home.

brighton condo sold

New curtain, medicine cabinet, and lighting.

6.       Vanity: This is one of the pricier items on the list, but if your vanity is outdated, the whole bathroom is outdated.  Invest a few hundred dollars in something new.  It doesn’t have to be fancy.  Once of my clients switched from a tiny vanity which was very low, to a more substantial one, and a bit higher for $300.  The whole bathroom looked new.

7.       Toilet: You know when you need a new toilet.  Take a long hard look at your toilet and ask yourself, “is it time?”

8.       Shower Curtain: All homes going on the market need a brand new shower curtain.  Shower curtains come in such a variety of colors and styles, and in fabrics which can change the look and feel of every bathroom in minutes and for as little as $30.  It will be one of the best investments you will make getting your condo ready for sale.

selling boston condo

New shower curtain and a good cleaning.

9.       Lighting: Bathrooms need bright lights to create a cheerful atmosphere.  Light bulbs must work, and the fixtures either clean or new.

If you have odd colored mud-back tiles, (Avocado, Mustard, Pepto), the shower curtain, towels and paint are an opportunity to tie them into something more neutral and modern.  It’s no longer dated, now it’s vintage!

Follow these tips and your bathroom renovation resale value for your Boston condo will be well over 100%!

Click on the link for more advice for home sellers.

one bedroom condo brookline

Sold Over Asking: 21 Warwick Road # 6 Brookline

Sold $390,000. When I think of Brookline condos, I think of turn-of-the century buildings with ornamental details, hardwood floors, high ceilings and brilliant floor plans.  There is a feeling of “they don’t make ’em like they used to,” when you walk around these brownstones.

one bedroom condo brookline

21-23 Warwick Road is such a building.  A top floor unit is coming on market this weekend.  This is a one bedroom condo with bonus study.  The additional room makes for a home in which you can easily welcome guests or enjoy spaciousness on your own.  Several closets and laundry in the unit for add to the convenience.

Both the bedroom and living room have ornamental medallions in the ceilings, a detail usually reserved for luxury homes.  The brand new bathroom is beautifully appointed, there is additional storage n basement and a common roof deck.

Location: 21 Warwick Road #6 is located off Beacon street, on a quiet side street.  Walk to Washington Square and just steps from the T.

Size: 842 Square Feet

Price: $375,000

Visit the property website or a tour and floor plan:  21 Warwick Road #6

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