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 Home Direct

Why Direct Deals Are Bad for the Seller?

Ooh, a direct deal. That’s when the home buyer is not represented by an agent so the listing agent works directly with the buyer. Every agent wants a direct deal so they can keep double the commission. And sellers like it because often, without a co-broke, the commission will be cut (say from 5% to 4%).

Buying Home DirectListing agent makes more money while seller pays less commission, so what is the problem?

I don’t like direct deals and I think they are a rotten situation for sellers!

This unconventional piece of wisdom comes from years of experience, and has recently been reenforced during a condo sale.

At an open house I hosted two weeks ago a buyer came to me and wanted to write the offer directly with me. The next day We met, sat down, wrote the offer….well, most of it.

First, by law, I had to disclose to the buyer that I work for the seller. With this in mind, we started the money conversation.

Buyer wanted to offer well under the asking price. As I discuss the price with her, she listens, she nods, and she says (I paraphrase), “You work for the seller, why should I listen to you?”

As someone representing the seller, I do not have the authority to represent any price but the full asking price. I am not free to negotiate money which is not mine. Which is besides the fact I thought the asking price was reasonable.

As I asked her to sign the offer, she hesitates, “You know, maybe I should have my own agent review this.”

I asked her if she knew anyone, she does, she calls and books an appointment with this other agent immediately.

Two hours later, I received an offer from this buyer through her buyer’s agent. It was a much higher, much better offer. It reflected a buyer who understood the market and the process.

Seems to defy logic, that a buyer’s agent will write a much better offer than the seller’s agent?

The fact is, as long as my ficuciary obligation is to the seller, nothing I say to a buyer carries much weight. I may be giving excellent and honest advice, but none of it can be contrary to my clients best interests, or what they tell me to represent.

A buyer knows there is a choice to be represented, and once she is aware of the fact she is not, hesitation sets in. Buying a condo is a bit complex and expensive.

By seeking reprentation, the buyer agent is there through the whole transaction to explain everyting, and ensure the buyer understands it. The buyer receives advice congruent with her interests, and thus she is a more informed and eager.

Financially my client is ahead because the home buyer trusted her agent’s advice – a trust I can’t instill as someone representing the seller.

An educated, well represented buyer will make stronger offers, take the transaction more seriously, and is much more likely to close.

Isn’t that the goal?

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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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.

8 Chiswick Road: One Bedroom Condo in Brighton

Sold $265,000.  Zero Days on Market: 8 Chiswick Road Unit 42

Pre-war condo buildings in Brighton are known for their simplicity and austerity, wasting little space and sparing no amenities.  Yet there is nothing like a classic one bedroom condo from the 1930’s.  Comfortable floor plans that make sense, high ceilings, and just the right amount of charm to make it feel like a pretty home – yet not too much to confuse you with Lord Grantham.

The Chiswick Courth Condominium is a perfect example of this style, made of 4 and 8 Chiswick Road.

brighton MA condo for sale

Coming on market 2/1/2013 is 8 Chiswick Road Unit 42.  Loaded with the charming details of yester-year, this one bedroom condo has the perfect floor plan which is obvious from the foyer when you walk in.  Gleaming hardwood floors and high ceilings add to the feeling of spaciousness.  A true eat-in kitchen with plenty of natural sunlight, and generous closet space second to no condo I’ve seen in the area.

List price: $249,900

Here are the basics:

  • One bedroom
  • 695 square feet
  • Fourth floor, elevator building
  • Facing courtyard
  • Four closets
  • Large inviting foyer
  • Eat-In Kitchen
  • Hardwood floors
  • Stailess steel appliances
  • Rental parking available
  • Walk to B, C, D lines

[cetsEmbedGmap src=,-71.148641&spn=0.006099,0.01545 width=500 height=250 marginwidth=0 marginheight=0 frameborder=0 scrolling=no]


Newton Ma Houses for Sale

Newton Houses in High Demand, But Are You Positioning Your Home Correctly?

Newton real estate is in high demand and in analyzing the market for Newton houses; you find almost across the board, the market is newton, ma housesfavoring sellers.  Inventory of houses on market in Newton is just meeting demand or falling shy of it in some price ranges.

The price range with most pressure is the $800,000-$899,999 price range in Newton, with only one month of inventory.  Houses in this price range are sitting the least time on the market at only 51 days.

Alternatively, luxury Newton homes priced $3,000,000-$3,999,999 have 16 months of supply.  This means the sellers can expect their house to sell in 16 months, even if their home is the best of the lot.

What does this mean to you if you are selling your house in Newton?

First, you can use this information to set expectations on roughly how long it will take to sell your home.  The months of supply tell you if you have a lot or little competition in relation to the demand in recent months.  Many people thing the average days on market is the best indication for how long it will take for a home to sell.  But average days on market don’t always go hand in hand with months of supply.

Second, if you plan to price your home near the top or bottom of a price range, it may make sense to price higher or lower just a bit.  For example, if you plan to price your Newton home just over $900,000, it may be worth to price your home at $899,999 where you’ll have less competition and more buyers.

No matter where your home is priced, and regardless of competition, there is a guaranteed way to a quicker and easier home sale.  To beat the competition you must offer the best value in the price range.  This doesn’t mean you should have the biggest, newest, prettiest house, but the one offering the most solutions for buyers for every dollar they spend.

Next, the house needs to be marketed correctly, online exposure being the single most important element of property marketing.  Regardless of the low inventory and high demand, to attract a better buyer faster who’d pay top dollar for your home, your house must stand out in the crowd of 152 Newton houses.

A home priced correctly and marketed properly, should be the first one sold in the price range, within the period of months of supply.  Newton houses may be a hot commodity in most price ranges, but there are still houses lingering on market for months without an offer.  Don’t be the home seller of such a house.


Search Newton Houses

FSBO, Boston Real Estate

Where to Advertise a FSBO? The FSBO Online Resource List

FSBO, Boston Real EstateReal estate agents deliver tremendous value to home sellers and home buyers.  I have a belief in the importance of my work and it seems my clients agree.  Yet, some homeowners want to venture into the world of For-Sale-By-Owners.  In another post of tips for FSBO’s, I’ve shared some key elements for success.

In this post I’ve compiled a list of online resources for FSBO’s.  Choose to work with those that best suit your property and budget.

  1. For Sale By This is the most well known website for FSBO’s, with a 14 day free trial.  You can post up to 6 photos, print flyers, write a description of the home.  Once you are a paying customer, your home can be advertised on and MLS.
  2.  Lot’s of online resources, high satisfaction rating, and a connection with and MLS.
  3. Craig’s List.  Post for free, but ensure you do not post your ad more than once a week.  Be aware that you will likely receive inquiries from bargain hunters.
  4. All The Post your ad for free, claimed to be search-engine friendly.  You have premium membership options.
  5.  Free advertising until the closing date.
  6. Claiming worldwide exposure for you ad, a free listing allows for 12 pictures, and $2 more if you want to be a “featured” listing.
  7. Virtual Offering flat fee MLS, and syndication to Google Real Estate and other FSBO websites.
  8. Free advertising for your property, wherever it is!
  9.  This website will remind you of what Craig’s List used to be.  Clean, simple, great place to find anything.
  10. And one more resource.  If you are selling your real estate in the Boston area, I’ll happily write a blog post about your home and promote it through my distribution channels.  Write me directly if you are interested.

Be aware when you search for where to post your advertisement for your home, some websites are a lead generation resource for Realtors.  This is not necessarily bad, but it is unlikely to fill your need for exposure for your home.

Good luck!

Should I Renovate My Home or Sell It?

One of the most popular question I get these days is “Should I renovate my home or sell it.”  Everyone’s situation is different so everyone comes to a different conclusion.  It’s a loaded question because it involves many variables and a big undertaking whatever you choose.

Speak to your real estate broker about your options.  First, here are the questions you can ask yourself to come a bit closer to what’s best for you.

Is my home in my ideal current location? 

If you are living in a neighborhood you love and in which you want to stay, that’s one point on the side of renovation.  But what if you always really wanted to live on the other side of town, or a different town altogether?  With very low mortgage rates, the timing is perfect to consider an area that seemed a bit out of reach some years ago.

No matter what you do to your current house, it will stay put, you will have the same view out the windows, same noise from the road, same cherry tree in the yard.

To what extent do I have to renovate this house to be ideal?  Renovate or Sell My Home?

Is a bathroom renovation and kitchen update enough or are you ready to strip the house to the studs and put in dormers?   If you considering an extensive renovation, I hope you like a project.  If you are not easily annoyed by people working power tools in your home at 7AM, by all means, learn more about renovating.

What would my return on investment be on the renovation? 

The cost of the renovation will be key to figuring out the financial cost and benefit of moving versus renovating.  If you spend money on a renovation with only a 50% return if you should sell the home, then the outlay is a waste.  For example, in a 1800 square foot Colonial a $35,000 renovation on kitchen and bath can add $50,000 to the property’s value.  A $90,000 renovation on the same kitchen and bath may only be worth an added $65,000.  It depends on the house, the location, and the renovation.

 What will I be able to afford if I sell and buy a new home?

If you can add $100,000 to the price you get for your home, you may surprise at what you can afford!  Actually, you may be completely discouraged.  Obviously, it depends on the market and where you are looking to move.  Learn the value of your home, get a pre-approval, and spend some time at open houses to learn if what you can spend brings you closer to your ideal.

What do I want to do? 

This may seem like an obvious question but it amazes me how many people don’t ask themselves what they really want.  Much of my work as a real estate agent is to uncover the true needs and desires of clients, because they are not sure.

If you love the idea of renovating and staying where you are, then the financial consideration are secondary.  If you are ready to move and feel you want to be elsewhere, then focus on finding something better, rather than wasting time with a renovation that will leave you dissatisfied.

The variables to consider when asking yourself if to move or renovate are both financial and emotional.  The key is to find the balance where one does not so outweigh the other you will be left with remorse.  Your first step is to get all the facts: you home’s value, its value once renovated, and what homes are available in your price range.

Contact me if you have any questions about any of these issues, and we’ll put together a plan that works around your true needs and wants.

The First Seven Steps Your Realtor Must Take

Brookline RealtorsYou’ve signed the listing agreement, now what?

Between the signing of the listing agreement and the second week your home is on the market, there is an enormous amount of work for the listing agent.  Done right, completing these tasks lays a solid foundation for a successful marketing plan for your home.

Here are the first seven things a listing broker must do once a new listing is signed.

  1. Paperwork.  There is lots of paperwork.  Some paperwork is mandated by the Commonwealth, some of it is by the company.  The agent has to have all of the paperwork complete and in order.  I even fill out paperwork for the sign installation, but some agents in very small firms will install the sign.  If your agent is not highly organized and complete, it may reflect on a sloppy company or other sloppy work.
  2. Preparing the home for sale.  It is you duty to prepare the home to look it’s best.  But it is your agent’s duty to be helpful.  Your listing agent should spend time with you and either advice or referring you to a staging professional.  It is vital you take your agent’s advice or hire a staging professional.  The home you live in should not look like the home you sell.
  3. Photographs.  The listing agent’s third order of business is to arrange to take photographs of the property.  Preparing the home for sale and great photos is the groundwork for a successful marketing campaign.  Photographs, and any other media such as floor plans and home tour, are the materials necessary to market the home online and to attract the right buyers.
  4. Calendar.  You should know when the agent plans to hold open houses and establish a schedule for showings.  Some people refuse to show homes on Saturdays or need a day or two notice.  Your agent must know your limitations and work with them.  You should know what happens when, including any promotions, mailings, office tours, broker open houses, etc.
  5. MLS.  With photos in hand, the agent is ready to enter the home into Multiple Listing Service.  If done right, this takes some time.  A complete MLS entry is the goal, including room measurements, building and area information, public records data, description, related documents, etc. The MLS entry of your home must look perfect the first moment it is published.  Once it’s “live”, it is send to anyone in the system looking for a home like yours.  People tend to skip homes with incomplete information and bad pictures.  The very first days of the listing are most important to your marketing plan!
  6. Online Promotion.  MLS and some brokerage firms syndicate listings all over the web.  Listings will feed into websites such as, Zillow, Trulia,, etc.  These syndication are the lifeblood of the online marketing campaign.  When 88% of home buyers searched online for homes last year, this is a big piece of successfully marketing a property. Tech savvy agents who understand the importance of online marketing pay for their own syndication feeds which override any company or MLS feed.  This gives the listing agent more control over what the audience sees and allows buyers to directly contact the listing agent, rather than the office.
  7. Direct Mail.  A “just listed” card to a radius around your home should be sent the first week the home goes on market.  Just listed cards peak neighbors’ interest and they spread the word about your home in their beloved neighborhood.  This is also a perfect marketing opportunity for a neighbor considering a new home who want to stay in the area.

There is so much to do the first few weeks of a listing.  After that, the work load is lessened until the offers come.  Still, you should expect updates on activity and a regular marketing effort that continues through the life of the listing.

To receive a copy of my Home Selling Plan, click here.

Today’s Home Selling: Listing Agents as SEO Expert

Selling a home used toListing Agent Finding Buyer be characterized by three activities: putting up a yard sign, hosting an open house, and advertising in the paper.  Some agents did this extremely well.  If selling your home was that simple, no wonder so many people chose to sell homes by themselves.

These days, selling your home is a lot more complex and requires a new level of sophistication.  Listing agents need to be search engine optimizing (SEO) experts.  Most agents don’t understand this yet.  Brookline Realtors, Newton MA real estate agents, and Boston real estate in general often lag behind in these matters.

According to the National Association of Realtors, 88% of buyers use the internet in their home search, and I bet that number is even higher in the Greater Boston Area.  Where else would you begin any search for anything? When you are finding answers to your queries, it means someone has taken the time to put content together and optimize for you to find.

Home searches are not just beginning online, but they continue online as well.   Buyers don’t stop their search as they get closer to finding their home.  Photos, floor plans, videos and information is reviewed and used to make shorter lists of homes to see.  Online home profiles are used to compare and contrast homes and to make final decisions as well.

If this is how buyers choose to consume information, it is the listing brokers’ responsibility to feed that information accordingly.  A successful online marketing strategy for a home has two functions.  First, to be found by as many targeted buyers as possible.  To be easily found is great, but quality trumps quantity.  I would rather have five visitors to the home who are qualified, ready to buy, and are the right fit for the home than 25 visitors who are browsing and curious.

The second function of a successful online marketing strategy for a home is appeal.  Your home needs to look amazing online.  Professional photos, floor plans, complete information, and a video all help.  More than ever the preparation for a home sale is important so the photographs and videos inspire the buyer to schedule an appointment.

Incomplete information may have been acceptable in the days when the buyer’s agent was the gatekeeper of information, but no more.  Any listing agent who’s marketing plan focuses on open houses, yard signs, and advertising is missing the point, and a good chunk of good buyers for your home.

How did you find your home?  How long ago was that?