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Top Five Mistakes Sellers Make

It can be a tough market for selling a home, but those conditions can get even worse if sellers aren’t careful. While a seller doesn’t control the real estate market, their actions can significantly contribute to how long and how much their home is sold for.

Underestimating Cleaning Up: It may seem obvious, but I can tell you real estate agents everywhere are nodding their heads in agreement as they read this. Inviting potential buyers in to see an unkempt home is like going on a job interview without freshening up after you cleaned your garage. How can the employer notice your fantastic talents and skills if they’re hidden underneath a sloppy exterior? How you show your home tells the buyer what type of care you, the seller, has put into the home?

 

If you can’t take the time to wipe the grime off the refrigerator doors, tidy up the kids’ rooms, take out the messy diapers, put away the food, and take the dogs out of the house for a while, then you’ll likely find buyers will quickly move on to the next home on their list.

Lingering During Showings: Yes, we all want to know how the open house or showing went, but hanging around during either of those events is not a good idea. Sellers who tend to linger during showings often make the buyers uncomfortable. Buyers like to have time to explore the home at their own pace and without feeling any pressure. Sometimes buyers want to sit on the porch or out in the backyard as they discuss the home’s possibilities. And if buyers are willing to sit for a bit and talk about the home, that’s a great sign. However, the chances of them doing that with the seller present is unlikely. Many times buyers will say, “Let’s skip the home if the sellers are there.”

If you’re selling your home, do yourself a favor and hit the road for a bit. Take a walk or head to the coffee shop. As soon as the showing is over, you can get all the details from your agent. That’s why you’re paying your agent! Let them do their job. Just make sure that your agent has all the home’s selling points and any additional features that make this home standout.

For Sale By Owner (FSBO) Trap: Some people are convinced that they can do it on their own. Maybe they can sell their own home, but it likely won’t happen without some headaches. Trained specialists are called “experts” for a reason. An expert real estate agent knows the market, has connections, guides you through the process, negotiates on your behalf, and will make the process of selling your home simpler.

One potential land mine that FSBOs face is the flood of people popping in to see their home. It sounds great that there’s so much traffic, but the problem is many times the people who pop into FSBO properties aren’t actually qualified for a mortgage or may not be serious buyers. Instead they’re just looking and satisfying their curiosity at your expense. Agents know to ask the right questions to make certain the lookers are truly potential home buyers.

Not interviewing agents: If you have kids, chances are you interviewed the nanny or babysitter. Taking time to seek out top real estate agents in your are. Setting up interviews with them is equally important. Choosing the wrong agent for the job will be a headache and slow the process down. There must be a connection, understanding, and good communication between the seller and the agent. There are lots of things that go on during the sale of a home, communicating with the agent should be one of the easier tasks.

Pricing a home incorrectly: This could be the worst mistake sellers make. Yet, this is where so much help can be found. Real estate agents see homes every single day. They know the neighborhoods and the comps. They are there to help you understand what homes have sold for in the recent past and what they’ll likely sell for during the current market conditions. Get a market evaluation from your agent and understand that what is a fair price for your home in today’s market.

Newton Pending house Sales

Newton Single Family Houses Market Update: March 2014

Newton MA’s housing market has been eliciting many complaints from buyers for about a year now.  The tight market is putting pressure on prices and many young families are priced out.

Housing Market Update for Newton MA

Since 2010, house prices have climbed from an average of $744,367 to $1,167,944, according to statistics from Multiple Listing Service (MLS).

Newton Single Family Sold, 2010-2014

Sold Homes Average Price Average Days on Market
March 2010 32 $744,367 65
March 2011 28 $906,121 101
March 2012 29 $718,552 69
March 2013 26 $974,728 60
March 2014 33 $1,167,944 72

 Currently, there are 100 houses on market, with 54 of them priced between $1,000,000-$2,500,000.

Newton houses on market

There are 132 pending sales, 68 of these homes price between $900,000-$2,000,000.  Compared with the number of currently listed homes, this is a very tight market.

Newton Pending house Sales

Newton Center, 02459, Housing Update

Newton Center, zip code 02459, is especially desirable.  The market action index (MAI) is a measure of the housing market’s orientation.  A number above 30 is a seller’s market.  Currently, at 48, Newton Center has a strong seller’s market.

Medium Chart

It’s easy to see why Newton Center has a strong seller’s market: inventory has been on a steady decline for three years.  The seasonal turnaround starts around early Spring, and we see a slight rise in inventory this year.  But will it exceed last years?

Medium Chart

My prediction is that inventory will rise and buyers will regain some control over the market.  In Newton, and particularly Newton Center, 2014 will continue the trend as a seller’s market, but with a decline from the current position.

This year seems extremely slow so far, this is due to the weather and lack of motivation to both prepare a home for market and go out to look at homes January through most of March.  A turnaround in April and May is expected.

Buyers have no reason to rejoice, but at least breath a little.

Click on the link to stay current with weekly or monthly market update in your zip code.  Know how much your home’s value is changing, and when the best time buy and sell your real estate.

Houses in Boston

Home Prices in West Roxbury MA: 02132

Located in the South-Western most post of Boston, West Roxbury is sometimes believed to be a suburb.  As a local resident, I enjoy reminding people I am indeed a Bostonian!

It is easy to see why many think it is a suburb – tree lined streets, single family and two family houses dominate the neighborhood, and everyone has a little bit of lawn to enjoy.  The streets are tame and the traffic moves. Bellevue Hill and the Highlands are home to colorful Victorians and expansive Colonials.

West Roxbury has been an attractive choice for young families in need of an easy commute into the City by car or train.  And now this has put much pressure on home prices.

Below find a chart presenting the median prices of single family homes for sale in West Roxbury for the past three years.  Prices are clearly on the sharp rise.

Large Chart

The natural forces of supply and demand are at play.  Below you’ll find a chart of the inventory of houses for sale, in the past three years.  The lack of housing is obvious.  This puts further pressure on home sales as sellers feel comfortable asking for higher prices when they have no competition.

Large Chart

 

What to expect will happen to home prices in West Roxbury MA this Spring?  I expect the sharp rise will be tapered as more home owners sell their home this Spring.  Yet, I still don’t believe demand for housing will be fully satisfied by inventory, as this neighborhood will continue looking more and more attractive to young families.

Newton MA houses for sale

Houses Sold in 02459: Market Report October 2013

Newton houses are flying off the market, and zip code 02459 has been especially tight.  Below find a comparison of recent sales statistics in Octobers of 2011, 2012, and 2013.  “Sold houses” means closings, so these houses likely came on market in August, a very quiet month in real estate in Newton.   But even with the small sample, the market changes are impressive.

Time Frame October 2011 October 2012 October 2013
Number of Sales 15 14 9
Average Price (rounded to nearest $1,000)  $886,000  $1,080,000  $956,000
Median Price (rounded to nearest $1,000)  $725,000  $913,000  $915,000
Average Days on Market 96 71 17
Average Sale Price to List Price Ratio 95% 96% 100%

 

The best indicators of the tightening housing market in Newton Center are the last two, highlighted in green.  Average days on market dropped from 96 in 2011 to 17 in 2013.  And the average sale price to list price ratio has gone up from 95% to 100%. This means, on average, houses sell for asking price.

Houses sell quickly and buyers pay what the seller asks.

Houses in 02459 are hot!

How much is your house worth?  Click here to sign up for my free Newton home evaluation.

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.

buying a home

Three Signs Your Buyer Agent is Not Very Good

Stop your home search, start your buyer agent search!  If you are not getting results, find a better agent.

In the seller’s market, working with a hard working competent buyers agent is necessary in order to buy a property at the right price.

buying a home

Is Your Real Estate Agent Asleep At The Wheel?

Yet many buyers are failing at securing a home, and buyers are getting caught up in the stressful and intense market.

Here are three signs your buyers agent may not be your ideal advocate, and perhaps it’s time to switch.

1. Your agent is waiting to see what comes up on MLS.  If this is the only strategy employed to find a home, that’s not enough in the hot real estate markets such as Brookline and Newton.  Whether working with property investors or home buyers, a buyer’s agent can do other things to look for the right property, including networking and sending mailings to neighborhoods.

2. Your agent is not asking hard questions.  Your agent should ask you questions that force you to examine your price range, timing and every possible angle of the home buying decisions.  An experienced agent knows buyers don’t always buy what they say they will.  Such an agent thinks outside the criteria you have, finding alternatives, and presenting options and possibilities.

3. Your agent does not prepare you for the market and set expectations.  You should know what to expect when you are ready to make an offer, and be prepared for rejections.  When you choose a home you like is NOT the time for your primary real estate education.  You must be ready to go.  Finding the right home is the last step of the home search process, not the first.

Don’t get stuck with a buyers agent who isn’t servicing you.  If buying a home is important, do it right or expect it will go terribly wrong.

Buying Home in Seller's Market

Top FIVE Considerations When Buying a Home in a Seller’s Market

Are you trying to buy a home and failing miserably? Is the housing marketed giving you a kick in the butt?  Thinking of obvious things in a new way may help.

Buying Home in Seller's Market

This summer I am hearing from many people who are desperately trying to buy a home, yet every new home on the market is grabbed by someone else.  Buyers are tired and frustrated, feeling defeated.

It’s a tough market out there for buyers, no doubt.  In home buying, as in every successful endeavor, you must have a goal, a plan and system to execute your plan.  If you don’t change the way you are doing things, you won’t change the outcome.  What system have you been using to secure your new home?

There are several considerations where you need to review your approach, and perhaps find a new way to go about things.  Examine each of the following variables.

Buyers Agent.  In a seller’s market, you need a buyers’ agent.  Hire a good buyer agent you like and trust.  Someone who will advocate on your behalf, who’ll help keep you sane, and who will give you sound advice.

If the best advice you’ve received so far has been to pay more money, you are getting short changed.  Perhaps it’s time to switch.   It is okay to move on!  The best agents lose clients sometimes.  We can’t all be experts on the same markets, in the same situations and the best choice for everyone.  Find the person who’s best suited for you.

Price Range.  Are you looking in the right price range?  There are two ways to look at this question.  If you are looking at properties that are priced in your range, but sell for more, then you are really looking at a higher range you can afford.  Adjust the search for a bit less, and offer a bit more.  Stop expecting the market to stop for you.

Alternatively, are you sure you are looking for as much as you can afford?  A good mortgage broker will show you options in how to pay for your home, and you may be able to stretch further.  Please note, I advocate buyers only BUY WHAT YOU CAN AFFORD.  My point is to speak with a great mortgage broker to get your financial house in order first, and to know your affordability.

Clean Offers.  When making an offer, remember it’s not only about the money.  You can find ways to please the seller with fewer conditions or working around her schedule. Be flexible, and put your best foot forward.  Knowing when you don’t have the upper hand is important, stop fighting it.

Recently my buyers made an offer on a house in Arlington with the sellers’ ideal timing.  It is not convenient for my buyers, but they are making it work, while the seller is happily cooperating on every other part of the sale.

Furthermore, the seller will want to work with someone who is easy and pleasant.  Keep your neurosis to yourself.  Neurosis can be apparent in buyer agent behavior, the conditions in the offer, and your endless list of questions.  I say this with the greatest respect to all the neurotics out there, as I am one of you!

Stop the Insanity! You don’t have to get caught up in the insanity of the market.  The right place will come at the right time, and believe it will happen.  As a Realtor, I witness a lot of nutty behavior: Offers which do not reflect value, and buyers getting themselves into risky situations.  I don’t like my buyers in these situations, and try to steer them in the direction of good sense.

One way to avoid some of the insanity is to focus on stale inventory.  Some properties which go on market do not sell, and it is mostly because they are overpriced.  Go take a look at properties sitting on market – maybe you can make it work?  Maybe you will have some leverage as the only buyer in the mix?  You may even get a good deal!!!

Tip: Go take a look at all the stale inventory which roughly meets your criteria, plus take a look in another community if you can.  Widen the horizons, you may be surprised.

Don’t Buy.  Maybe it’s not your year to buy.  If you are selling your home and buying, unless you must move, then you should be in no hurry.  If you are renting, even thought rents are up, you could be better off staying put. Sure, rates are low, prices will likely continue to climb, yada yada yada.  A real estate agent can always tell you why you should buy NOW.  But maybe next year will be a better.

Critically review the way in which you have been going about your home search.  Try changing some aspects of it.  Remember, you must change your method if you want to change the results.

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

[cetsEmbedGmap src=https://maps.google.com/maps/ms?msid=211195484651342201472.0004dbbe14858330684d5&msa=0&ll=42.338102,-71.139565&spn=0.011357,0.01929 width=350 height=425 marginwidth=0 marginheight=0 frameborder=0 scrolling=no]

 

contingency to sell home

Contingency to Sell Home: Selling a Condo and Buying a House in Boston

contingency to sell home

Caught Between Two Properties?

If you need to sell your condo in order to buy a house in Brookline, Newton and the Greater Boston area, you are not alone. With housing so expensive, not many can manage to keep both mortgages, or pay for the house without the proceeds from the condo.

A contingency to sell your home is a common way to protect you in this situation. You make an offer with a contingency on an accepted offer, purchase and sale, or closing of the condo you are selling.

Sounds like a plan, right? WRONG!

In today’s market you are competing with other buyers, and a contingency to sell a home is a great way to RUIN your chances of securing the property of your choice. Put your home-seller thinking cap for prospective for a moment.

An offer with a contingency to sell a home is a high risk offer. Regardless of the type of property to sell or how easily it will sell, it is far removed from the seller and the seller’s agent. Furthermore, such an offer is likely to have delays and it comes with too many unknowns. Why accept such an offer when there are better ones on the table, or will be coming?

It is worth it for the seller to wait for another offer while you work on selling your condo. From the seller’s point of view, you can come back after you sold and your offer will be accepted then. Why risk taking the home off market now?

So what do you do when selling a condo and buying a house in the Boston area, with our current market conditions?

1. HIRE AN AGENT who has done this several times and knows how to protect your interests while securing a property.
2. Work on selling first and prepare to buy quickly once you have a P&S in hand.
3. Sell first, with a flexible closing so you have time to find your new home.
4. Work with your agent and mortgage broker. You may be able to take a bit of risk and make an offer without selling and without a contingency. Learn all the facts and how it may work.
5. Present an offer with a very long closing giving you time to sell the condo first

The bottom line is that you will have to stay flexible. You may or may not have to take financial risk – it depends on the properties, finances and closing dates. Most importantly, hire a real estate agent who knows how to work under pressure and protect your interests.

Feel free to schedule a free consultation to learn how to best manage your risk while buying and selling a home.

Cleveland Circle Condo with Parking

Recently Sold Condos in Brighton MA

The Brighton MA condo market is hot and getting hotter!  Homes recently sold in Cleveland Circle and near Wholefoods were on market for little time and many sold for over asking.  Here are a few recent condo sales, I represented the sellers on all of these.

Cleveland Circle Condo with Parking

8 Kinross Road Unit #A

Asking Price: $239,00   Sale Price: $241,500  Sale Date: March 14th 2013   Days on market: 2     Number of offers: 2

Basement unit, huge 786 sf one bedroom condo with parking in a high owner occupancy building with a pet loving policy.  Located near Cleveland Circle.

 

Cleveland Circle Condo for Sale

137 A Sutherland Road

Asking Price: $260,00  Sale Price: $265,500  Sale Date: January 28th 2013  Days on market: 6     Number of offers: 5

First floor of a two family house near Cleveland Circle.  Large open one bedroom with exposed brick, private deck and in-unit laundry.

 

Brighton Townhouse for Sale

 22 Abby Road #3

Asking Price: $439,000  Sale Price: $452,000  Sale Date: February 28th 2013  Days on market: 5     Number of offers: 7

Not your typical condo, this Brighton Mills townhouse was built in 2006 and features 3 bedrooms and 2.5 baths.  Minutes to Harvard Square!

If you want a complete list of recently sold condos in Brighton MA, feel free to complete the form below or call me at 617.807.0471.

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