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.

How Home Sellers Can Maximize Buyer Offers

Today’s market can be a difficult one for many sellers to navigate. While your real estate agent can advise you, the ultimate decision of what offer to accept is entirely up to you.

This decision can come with quite a bit of pressure. Even in the most favorable of markets this can be a difficult time. How do you know when to accept an offer?

maximize offers
Here are some questions to consider:

•  Is the buyer pre-qualified/approved? Selling will require an investment of time and money. You may need to find a new home or a temporary rental. There’s nothing worse than buying a new house only to find out the deal to sell yours has fallen through.

•  Do you need to move? The urgency of your move may dictate what offer you accept. Many sellers need to move quickly for a new job. You may need to sell to avoid foreclosure. If you are in a rush, you may need to accept an offer that is less than ideal.

•  How much do you owe? You don’t want to sell your home at a loss. And be sure to take closing costs into consideration. Many markets experienced high levels of depreciation over the last year. If you are underwater on your loan, now may not be the time to sell.

•  What is the market climate? Are you likely to get another offer? How long has your home been on the market? Have you had many showings? All of these are factors to consider when contemplating what offer to accept.

Above all, ask yourself if this offer was a reasonable offer. There are buyers that may attempt to low ball you. They may see that your home has been on the market longer than your competition. They may know that it’s a strong buyers market. In response they offer a much smaller amount for your home than it is worth. You are not obligated to accept these low ball offers. However, if you are in need of selling now, every offer warrants consideration or a counter offer.
In the end, you must accept an offer that works for you. You may be willing to accept a lower amount in exchange for a faster closing date. Or you may wish to hold out for the highest dollar amount.

Written by Carla Hill, RealtyTimes

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.

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.

Brighton Townhouse for Sale

Townhouse in Brighton MA: 22 Abbey Road #3

Brighton Townhouse for Sale22 Abbey Road #3 is a young Brighton townhouse for sale, offering a rare opportunity minutes from Harvard Square!

SOLD $452,000.  Brighton MA is often overlooked by home buyers searching for a condo in Cambridge MA.  Sometimes we forget how Brighton and Allston border Cambridge separated only by the Charles River.  Some people don’t know Brighton used to part of of Cambridge until the late 19th century.  Bostonians (like myself) choose to forget Brighton used to be called Little Cambridge.

If you are priced out of your search of a Harvard Square condo for sale, it’s hard to believe you can find a beautiful young townhouse with all the amenities you can fathom, and stay within your budget.  22 Abbey Road #3 in Brighton offers you the incredibly rare combination of luxury, convenience and affordability.

This home is ideal for commuting into Boston, Cambridge, Waltham, and Arlington.  It has easy access to Storrow Drive and the Mass Pike.  From Abbey Road, you are minutes away from the Arsenal Mall and even closer to the Brighton Mills shopping area.   I timed a six minute drive to Harvard Square in heavy traffic!

22 Abbey Road #3 feature:

  • 2006 Construction
  • 1515 Square feet
  • 3 bedrooms
  • 2.5 baths
  • Full basement easily finished
  • Private deck and large shared yard
  • Two parking space
  • End unit with plenty of sunshine
  • Cathedral ceilings in the master suite
  • Open floor plan
  • Stainless steel & granite kitchen
The Neighborhood:
Brighton Mills and Lower Allston have enjoyed a revival as Harvard University expands into Boston.  The Charlesview Residences are being rebuilt along with parks and 14,000 square feet of retail space.


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22 Abbey Road #3 in Brighton in one of few townhouses available in the area.  On market Thursday 1/17/2013 and showings start Saturday.   Price: $439,000.

Call or write with questions, or feel free to leave comments below if you want to learn more. Don’t delay.

Cleveland Circle Condo with Parking

8 Kinross Road: Brighton MA Condo with Parking

Cleveland Circle Condo with ParkingSOLD over asking $241,500.  Two days on market. Sometimes you open the door to a surprise.   In the Brighton MA condo market that’s a rare treat.  With a tight real estate market in Boston, it is a pleasure for me to present a condo such as 8 Kinross Road unit A.

Located in highly sought after Cleveland Circle, 8 Kinross is a high owner occupancy pre-war building of 14 units.  I own one of these condo and my experience here has been incredible. Friendly neighbors, parking, and laundry in the building.  The location is convenient if you want to use the B, C, D lines, 86 bus, 51 bus.  A walk to Chestnut Hill reservoir and the shops and restaurants of Clevelend Circle.

Brighton condos with parking are far and few between. In this market they are very hard to find, especially at the price of $239,000.

8 Kinross Road #A is a basement unit.  With a welcoming entry and spaciousness, this condo feels like home.

Click for an interactive floor plan for this Brighton condo.

Some features:

  • 786 square feet
  • DEEDED parking
  • hardwood floors
  • an open floor plan
  • private entry
  • laundry in building
  • high owner occupancy building
  • Walk to Cleveland Cirlce, B, C, D lines.
  • in unit thermostat
  • over-sized closets
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Jamaica Pond

A Walk Around Jamaica Pond

Looking for a condo near the Jamaica Pond?  Jamaica Plain’s finest real estate is just nearby.

It’s hard to believe we live in the City when walking around the Jamaica Pond.  This is one of Boston’s most treasured nature spots, part of the Emerald Necklace designed by Frederick Law Olmstead.  The 1.5 mile walk around takes about 40 minutes, more depending on how many kids are in tow.  Come in any weather and you find a plethora of birds and a diverse group people enjoying the view and walking or jogging on the trail.

The Jamaica Pond allows fishing and sailing in the summer.  You’ll find beautiful Jamaica Plain houses lined across the street on the Jamaicaway.  You can walk to the pond if you live almost anywhere in the Pondside neighborhood of JP, which offers single family houses, condos and two-three family houses.

Living Near the Jamaica Pond:

If it’s a large condo complex with amenities you want, there are two options a short walk from the Jamaica Pond.  The first is 111 Perkins Street, one of the few Boston co-ops.  With its spectacular views from higher floors or the space and private yard in its townhouses, 111 Perkins Street is convenient and comfortable.  At the Jamaicaway Towers you’ll enjoy the following amenities:

  • swimming pool
  • exercise room
  • sauna and steam room
  • tennis court
  • garage parking

Just across the street of where the swans and geese congregate is Cabot Estates’ entrance.  This is a gated community offering Boston’s best kept real estate secret.  Beyond the gate you find beautiful condos in all sizes, with amenities including:

  • swimming pool
  •  tennis court
  • gym
  •  a club / function room in the original Cabot building, now called The Castle
  • beautifully landscaped and wooded setting

Cabot Estates, located at 241 Perkins Street in Jamaica Plain, is home to 158 condos and offers plenty of visitors parking.  You can learn more about Cabot Estates in Jamaica Plain:

Search for condos in Jamaica Plain, or contact me to learn of listings available at Cabot Estates and The Jamaicaway Towers.

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The Truth About Open Houses

Home sellers: why are you pinning high expectations to open houses?  Is this your idea or your agent’s?  It is a mistake to think open houses are an important marketing strategy for your home to sell.  Open houses are not so important.  They haven’t been for years, since about 2006 in my opinion.

The real function of open houses is for agents to pick-up buyers.  The majority of buyers walking through your house on Sunday afternoon are in the early stages of their home search.  This makes for an excellent way for agents to meet buyers who are often unrepresented.  The buyers usually expect this, as they are shopping around for a buyer agent, and for general neighborhood and market information.

The buyers coming to your house are shopping, but not for a home…not yet.  When they enter the stage of readiness to buy, they’ll book a private showing.

Why have open houses lost their purpose as a main showcase for your home?  First, let’s blame (or thank) the internet.  With all the media available, buyers are able to learn a lot more about houses online.  They don’t need to see fifty houses to learn what the market has to offer.  Instead, they can view videos, pictures, floor plans and neighborhood information anytime, on a handy device, from anywhere.

Second, with the slow market of the past few years, buyers are less fearful of losing a home.  If they can’t get to a home on Sunday, they’ll come see it on Monday or Thursday.  There is more inventory and homes stay on market longer.  What’s the rush?

But open houses are not a total waste of time for you.  You should have your agent (or team member) host an open house occasionally.  Open houses are a great way learn about the market.  Agents share information about about open house traffic to gauge what is going on locally.  In open houses we also hear honest feedback direct from buyers, which can be very helpful.

So don’t nix the open houses completely.  Adjust your expectations instead, and ensure that the open houses are not your listing agent’s marketing tool of choice.

Real Estate Decisions: Use Your Head or Your Heart?

Last week I had a difficult decision to make.  My emotional side had to duke it out with my logical reasoning. I work through head versus heart wars with clients all the time, so this week was an opportunity to observe the decision making process and find ways to optimize difficult choices.

Residential real estate is a fertile ground for difficult decisions that employ both the logical and emotional.  So how do we make the best choices when buying a home and who to trust, the head or the heart?  The answer is that you’ll have to bring the two to a compromise for the optimal decision.

A purely logical decision

Three years ago I had a house on the market in Newton priced around $780,000.  A family came to see this house three times, and obviously loved it.  When they were ready to make an offer, the conversation was something like this. “We’ve done the analysis of all the sales in the past six months in the radius of .33 miles.  Using a formula taking into account square footage, age of house, etc etc…the house is worth $632,392.  Our offer is for $632,500.”

A purely analytical offer misses the variables that are not easily measured, or altogether intangible.  This family would have enjoyed this house, it was perfect for them in many ways, and they missed it.  The house was sold for $750,000 to another family.

A purely emotional decision

In the height of our condo market, around 2006, I worked with a buyer for only a couple of weeks before she was ready to make an offer on a very pretty one-bedroom in Brookline.  “I love it, I love it, I love it.”  When buyers don’t take longer to choose a home my reaction is usually, “Are you sure, are you sure, are you SURE?”

My buyer did not want to negotiate; she put in a generous offer, higher than what I had suggested.  All my explaining and advising was ignored, and my job was to represent her wishes.  Everything went pretty well up until the appraisal.  The bank’s appraisal was lower than the price my buyer was willing to pay.  This means the bank is not willing to finance the purchase at this price – a big problem.

Did I mention this is the height of the condo market?  I wasn’t new to the business but it was the first time I heard of a bank appraisal resulting in a lower price, (a commonplace these days).  She was overpaying even in a hot market.

Finding the balance

I believe we naturally find a balance and use both our rational and emotional sides.  A good real estate agent ensures this, and will hopefully balance your dominant decision making side.  The pros, the cons, the what-if’s, and the numbers.  It is a peace process between our heads and hearts because a home is all encompassing.

A house is both a financial investment and a home.  You must enjoy the house, find it comfortable, and be happy to enter it after your day at work.  But you can’t ignore that it will likely be your largest financial outlay ever.