How Buyers Can Irk Sellers

How Buyers Can Irk Sellers


Worth reading~

Both parties have to come together in a transaction, and real estate professionals sometimes find themselves wedged in the middle of buyer and seller disagreements. Some sellers may accuse the home buyers of being too pushy with their demands. recently highlighted several ways that homebuyers have been annoying some sellers recently, including:

  • Disrespectful house visitors: Some buyers may not be respectful when touring a home, letting their child run wild or bounce on the furniture, cranking up the heat and air conditioning, or even using the restroom. Lisa Ramsey, a real estate professional with the The Ramsey Group, says it’s up to the real estate agents to lay down some house rules when the seller isn’t there. “I tell buyers, ‘Let’s just pretend we’re walking into the White House.” She’ll also talk to her buyers “about the trend of sellers putting [microphones and] cameras in the home. … I go into every house assuming there’s a recording device in the house. We’re not going to talk money or strategy in the house.”
  • Submitting a long list of defects: Ron Phipps, principal with Phipps Realty in Warwick, R.I., and a former president of the National Association of REALTORS®, says that buyers are doing themselves a disservice when submitting an offer with a long list of what’s wrong with the house. It makes sellers question why the buyers would want this place. Instead, Phipps recommends a gentler approach: Submit a list of comparables with the offer as well as a personal letter where buyers introduce themselves and explain why they want the house. In the letter, they can mention two or three of the major issues with the house while keeping it neutral and referencing third-party, empirical sources.
  • Too many visits: After buyers have committed to purchase a home, they want to make lots of visits to their future home, bringing the decorators, architects as well and entire family with them, says Mike Lubin, associate broker for Brown Harris Stevens in New York. The sellers may find the constant visits disruptive, however, as they’re busy packing and possibly doing repairs to meet a deadline. Lubin says a possible compromise could be to have the buyer arrange a visit while the inspector is present as well as another visit during the final walkthrough before closing.
  • Renegotiation: Buyers may agree on the price but then repeatedly demand concessions and discounts. The home inspection can be a culprit. For example, buyers may realize the furnace has about five good years left and then make a demand for a new furnace or monetary equivalent. “A realistic buyer knows everything’s not going to be perfect,” says Matt Laricy, managing partner with Americorp Real Estate in Chicago. But signed contracts don’t often stop a buyer from trying to renegotiate, Laricy adds. Buyers may say the market has changed or that they’ve overpaid or they may even suffer from buyer’s remorse, he says. “It’s extremely awkward,” Lubin says. “It’s violating the terms of the contract, and it’s insulting.”

Simplify Your Next Move

Simplify Your Next Move

Laurie Nordman from Next Stage Associates will explain how she and her team can truly simplify your move.  Laurie will be speaking at Fairway Independent Mortgage on April 22nd at 6PM.  Please join us for this free event.  Please check out Next Stage Associates website! 60 Wells Avenue Suite 101Simplify Your Move Newton, MA. 6PM-8PM Light Dinner will be Served Space is limited so please register today at   781-719-4674

Multiple Offers

Multiple Offers

Content courtesy of Amy Tierce, Regional Vice President, Fairway Independent Mortgage


It’s a seller’s market again this spring so we are dusting off this blog from last year in hopes that it helps some of you get your offers accepted…

Market forces have shifted and today it’s a seller’s market in many communities. Here are some tips for frustrated buyers and buyer’s agents to help get offers accepted!

Make a Large Down Payment– the larger your down payment the more attractive your offer. Why? Because if the appraisal comes in low the buyer with the largest down payment may not have their financing impacted by a low appraisal and can move forward on the purchase without further negotiation.

Pay Cash– If you can, make a cash offer. If the purchase timeframe allows you can still get a mortgage or you can mortgage the property after the purchase transaction is concluded.

Date Flexibility– if you can determine exactly what the sellers’ need in terms of closing dates and then meet those dates – your offer could win even if the price you are offering is lower than others. You can go for an extended closing or even offer to rent the property back to the seller for up to 60 days. Meeting challenging timing needs for the seller can make you the perfect buyer!

Removal of Contingencies/ Financing– We are never comfortable recommending that a buyer remove their mortgage contingency unless they can truly pay cash for the property- BUT we certainly know a winner when we see one and often have buyers who remove their mortgage contingencies with a very THOROUGH pre-approval process.  A very thorough pre-approval.

For added protection– IF you choose to remove a mortgage contingency or make a cash offer or one with a large down payment, the buyer can put an appraisal contingency into their offer so that they have options if the property appraisal comes in low.

Removal of Contingencies/Home Inspection- If you are knowledgeable about home construction or have a friend or family member who is an expert, you might want to consider removing your inspection contingency. Of course you will have no recourse if a structural problem arises that you were not aware of… Removing contingencies also removes protection for the buyer so keep that in mind. I am not keen on this….

The Personal Approach – Introduce yourself!
Selling a home is a very emotional experience for many people and often they want to know that their home is going to a ‘good’ family or person, especially if this was the sellers first home or they raised their family there. A letter from a perspective buyer introducing themselves and explaining why buying this property means so much could make a difference in the offer process and negotiation.

Don’t Give Up

It can be really disappointing and frustrating for buyers today. Don’t give up! As the market improves more sellers will be ready to put their property on the market increasing inventory and perhaps eliminating the multiple offer effect that we are seeing in some areas today.

It is anticipated that rates will remain low for the foreseeable future. However, even if not at their record lows it is important to keep rate movement in perspective. Rates can go up much more before they start to come up off the historic lows that we are seeing today.

Homeowners – ready to move up, down or out? This is a great time to sell so what’s keeping your from taking advantage of this fantastic market Don’t let your stuff hold you back from moving.  Laurie Nordman from Next Stage Associates will show you the way.  Laurie and her team can help you or your parents move on to enjoy the next stage of life.



60 Wells Ave, Newton  

Light Refreshments





My friends over at Keeping Current Matters posted this blog this morning.  I have added my thoughts after each point.

3 Reasons to Sell Your Home this SpringPosted: 08 Apr 2014 04:00 AM PDT

4.8 VisualMany sellers are still hesitant about putting their house up for sale. Where are prices headed? Where are interest rates headed? These are all valid questions. However, there are several reasons to sell your home sooner rather than later. Here are three of those reasons.

1. Demand is about to skyrocket

Most people realize that the housing market is hottest from April through June. The most serious buyers are well aware of this and, for that reason, come out in early spring in order to beat the heavy competition. We also have a pent-up demand as many buyers pushed off their home search this winter because of extreme weather. Sellers in markets where seasonal weather is never an issue must realize that buyers relocating to their region will increase dramatically this spring as these purchasers finally decide to escape the freezing temperatures of the winters in the north.

These buyers are ready, willing and able to buy…and are in the market right now!

Here in Newton/Brookline the Spring market begins in late January with the peak time being right after President’s weekend.  We are most definitely seeing an uptick in homes coming on but not anywhere near levels of a normal market.  We have a 104 homes for sale in comparison to 200 in a typical Spring market.  (Read my Blog post from yesterday for more details)  Once we move into May the frenzy usually subsides.  Memorial Day weekend is the last hurrah for house hunters.  That may change this year so I will keep you updated if I continue to see a fair amount of new inventory.  I am putting on a great house in CH (below a million dollars) the week of April 20th.

2. There Is Less Competition – For Now

Housing supply always grows from the spring through the early summer. Also, there has been a growing desire for many homeowners to move as they were unable to sell over the last few years because of a negative equity situation. Homeowners have seen a return to positive equity as prices increased over the last eighteen months. Many of these homes will be coming to the market in the near future.

The choices buyers have will continue to increase over the next few months. Don’t wait until all the other potential sellers in your market put their homes up for sale.

The biggest problem sellers have is finding a new place to go.  Thankfully negative equity did not wreak havoc here.  There were definitely a few instances but it was not a debilitating factor in our market.  My biggest concerns are the crazy prices people are paying for SOME homes priced under 1 million dollars.  $600.00 a square foot for an average neighborhood is not a smart decision.  I am hoping that an increase in inventory will halt the crazy escalation of home prices that are completely out of whack with reality.  It is also interesting to note that homes priced between 1.5 and 2.5 continue to be lagging.  We have not seen the usual lower priced homes pushing the mid-priced homes.  That segment of the market is very slow.  Again we are having bidding wars for a property priced at 1.2 and ultimately selling for 1.5, that’s probably really worth 1.3.  Take a look at some of the homes priced between 1.5 and 1.8 and see if you can’t negotiate a bargain.  Or stretch to buy a house and not an illusion.

3. There Will Never Be a Better Time to Move-Up

If you are moving up to a larger, more expensive home, consider doing it now. Prices are projected to appreciate by approximately 4% this year and 8% by the end of 2015. If you are moving to a higher priced home, it will wind-up costing you more in raw dollars (both in down payment and mortgage payment) if you wait. You can also lock-in your 30 year housing expense with an interest rate at about 4.5% right now. Freddie Mac projects rates to be 5.1% by this time next year and 5.7% by the fourth quarter of 2015.

Moving up to a new home will be less expensive this spring than later this year or next year.

Yup!  All true.  I say this so often I am starting to annoy myself — This is a supply and demand business.  Sellers if you plan to sell don’t wait until everyone else does.  I guarantee you will find a new home.  For the 1.5 – 2.5 buyer you may have to consider a serious price reduction or doing some work.  Remove wallpaper, wall to wall carpeting etc.  





Newton Real Estate Market Recap

Newton, Top Realtors



Yes, yes this market is crazy, houses selling for 300K over asking, a line to get into an open house, 8 offers, 15 offers, 26 offers!  Insanity…That is NOT the whole story though.  The insanity in this market is happening in homes priced below 1.5 million and even more insanity below 1 milion.  There are currently 104 house on the market, a definite uptick from the 57 houses we had in the early part of the year.  We still have about 50% FEWER homes for sale than in a “normal” market.  We had closer to 400 homes for sale during the debacle. Currently, there are 57 houses for sale priced above 1.5 millon dollars or 52% of the market share is OVER 1.5 million dollars.  There are a total of 96 homes under agreement but only 22 are priced over 1.5 million or 23% of the market.  That spells a depreciating market in the over 1.5 category.  Let’s take a closer look at those numbers — There are 11 homes under agreement over 2 million of which 8 are either new or like new.  In the 1.5 to 2 million range 12 homes are under agreement and 6 of those are new or like new.

Buyers, what are you thinking?  WHY would you spend 1.4 million dollars on a home that can NEVER get any better?  The lot can’t get bigger, the location can’t change, you have already paid a HUGE PREMIUM for renovated kitchen and bathrooms.  Why oh why would you not look at a more substantial house in a better neighborhood that needs some work?  I’m not talking a demo here, just some paint and floor sanding to get you in.  So maybe the kitchen isn’t your dream kitchen and the bathrooms are a BIT outdated, but you can change that!  You can do a room at a time.  You can make the house your own.  You can build some equity.

I say this to clients all the time…unless you are buying a 3-5 million dollar custom home with exceptional and timeless finishes; in 10 years you have a 10-year-old house.  Your house is no longer new or old, it doesn’t have the charm of a home built between 1890 and 1930 and it’s no longer brand new.

PLEASE do yourself a favor, do not get caught up in this buying panic, do not over pay for an average house — there will always be another house.  Do not ever give up your inspection contingency, do not give up your mortgage contingency if you don’t have either cash to pay for the house, or a lot more money to put down on a house if your appraisal comes in low.  Do not put your finances in jeopardy over a specific house, you will find a better house.

Get a Realtor who doesn’t mind working and can calculate a few numbers.  Get a Realtor who works for you.  DO NOT use the sellers agent because you think you get a better deal.  You don’t but the agent does!  The agent gets both sides of the transaction, the agent represents the seller and has a responsibility to get the highest and best price for the home.  You? you get nothing — except an over priced home.


Simplify Your next Move — Downsize, Upsize or Rightsize

Please join Amy Slotnick from Fairway Independent Mortgage and I to introduce Laurie Nordman from Next Stage AssociatesLaurie and her team offer the most comprehensive services I have encountered.  Next Stage can help with all aspects of  your move or your parents move.  Don’t let your stuff hold you back from moving on!

Amy Slotnick will speak about possible options to fund your move and I will speak briefly about the current local real estate market.

April 22 from 6:00 to 8:00

60 Wells Avenue Suite 101, Newton

easy parking





You’re Invited: Seminar to Simplify Your Next Move — Downsize, Upsize or Rightsize

Newton, MA.  Realtors and Real Estate

Amy Slotnick  from Fairway Independent Mortgage and I are delighted to introduce the amazing Laurie Nordman from Next Stage Associates.   Laurie’s services are the most comprehensive I have ever encountered.  Laurie and her team can help you or help you help your parents from the simplest tasks of sorting and packing to overseeing the entire move while you are on vacation!   Next Stage handles one bedroom apartments to estates.  Laurie can direct you to art dealers, antique dealers or junk collectors.   Laurie can also help navigate the emotional turmoil that can arise between siblings when selling the family home.  Laurie’s calm demeanor and her organizational skills are her best assets and your best friend.  Amy Slotnick will speak about financing options for your next  move.  I will also briefly speak about the current real estate climate and options that may be available for a smooth transition.





light dinner will be served…space is limited




What Your House Should Look Like When You Sell

Newton, Ma.

Not every house is going to look like the pictures below but it is important to make YOUR home look, smell and feel as fresh as possible.

You’re in the market for a new home, whether you need more space or less, you must first sell your present residence. One might think that the slow housing marking would potentially have buyers pounding at your door, but this is not necessarily the case. Prices are steady at the moment and seem not to be plummeting any further. This is good for a buyer and can be good for you, however, home buyers are smarter and leerier these days. They are less apt to make hasty decisions and less apt to buy out of their range, which is partially what contributed to the great housing market collapse. Houses are selling these days, but how quickly they sell is really up to you, the seller, and your agent. The houses that move are those that are priced well. Today’s buyer is savvy and has done his research. Buyers also want a turn-key home that is immediately ready for them to move in and unpack. What they don’t want are…

pinterest keep kitchens clean when selling your home 10 Things Home Buyers Hate About Your Home!

1. Bad Smells

Nothing is more of a turn-off than walking into a house that has a smell. Before you sell your home walk through with a friend, a Realtor, or someone you can rely on to give you an unbiased opinion. You will want to get rid of the source of any bad odor as soon as possible. Pets are big culprits, especially cats. If you have a cat, kitty litters need to be cleaned as often as possible and kept, if possible, in a remote or out of sight location. Wall to wall carpeting can harbor bad smells as well, especially if pets are present in the home. Clean all carpets professionally prior to listing your home. If you have a fan above your stove get in the habit of using it regularly to keep from cooking foods with particularly strong odors, such as fish, the evening before an open house or a showing. If your basement smells dank and musty consider purchasing a dehumidifier to clear the air of moisture and odors.  While some smells are offensive to home buyers, some are very inviting!

clean kitchens a must to sell your home yelp 10 Things Home Buyers Hate About Your Home!

2. Dirty house, especially bathrooms and kitchens

Having a house on the market is tough and hard work, especially when you have young children at home. If you don’t have time to clean your house daily, and really, nobody does, concentrate on your kitchen and bathrooms. Make sure floors are vacuumed and devoid of spills, crumbs and dirt. Make sure counters are wiped clean and that there are no dirty dishes in the sink. Don’t hide them in the oven for a quick remedy, house buyers are nosy and will look in your oven and any drawer or cabinet that can be opened! Keep a set of clean, dry towels on hand for the kitchen and bathroom for showing purposes.
pinterest living room tidy to sell home 10 Things Home Buyers Hate About Your Home!

3. Messy house

This is really an extension of the last point.  The average home buyer has a hard time looking past your clutter and mess. Simple, easy tasks, can make all the difference. If you have children you know that clutter happens. I am a huge fan of wicker baskets. They are inexpensive, efficient and look nice in your home. Invest in a few wicker baskets  as a quick way to stash toys when you don’t have time for an overhaul. Laundry is perhaps the hardest thing to keep on top of and is the most time consuming. If you don’t have time to wash, fold and put away your laundry on a daily basis, pick up a couple more wicker baskets to stow away clean, folded laundry so it doesn’t look like an eyesore. In the kitchen and in the bathroom clear away bottles and containers. Bowls of fresh fruit and vases or pitchers of fresh flowers not only look pretty but often make a room smell lovely.

selling your home neutral colors 10 Things Home Buyers Hate About Your Home!

4. Poorly lit rooms

No one wants to enter a dark house, especially someone who wants to buy your home. If a house is too poorly lit they may tend to wonder what you are trying to hide. Replace dim or burnt out light bulbs with high efficiency, bright bulbs to brighten up your space. If need be, pick up a few stylish lamps that will not only brighten your home but can add to your home decor. If you have big windows, take advantage of them. Make sure they are clean and make sure that drapes and curtains are not blocking the natural sunlight.  When it comes to selling your room, lighting really can be everything.
no wall paper when trying to sell home 10 Things Home Buyers Hate About Your Home!

5. Loud Walls and Busy Wallpaper

Shhhhhh!! Most likely the person who ends up buying your home will not have the same taste and style you do. They say one decorates their home for living, and one should re-decorate their home for selling. When you sell your home, you must remove yourself and your history from the overall picture. A home buyer wants to be able to envision him or herself in your home, not wonder about you, your lifestyle and your family. You don’t want to distract from the task at hand which is to sell your home. Tone down those bright and cheery colors and save them for your next home. Instead, use softer, more neutral tones like creams and off-whites that can make spaces like lighter, airier and brighter. If your home is covered in brightly patterned wallpaper you ought to give serious consideration to removing that as well. Potential buyers may be deterred by the paper knowing what a colossal  a nuisance it is to remove it.

well maintained outside of home pinterest 10 Things Home Buyers Hate About Your Home!

6. Unkempt yards, untrimmed bushes

Nothing is more unwelcoming than pulling up to a potentially Haunted House! Make sure your yard is well mowed, all bushes and hedges are trimmed. If you can add or fix up your landscaping with fresh or potted plants. The outside of your home is the first thing that will be seen. Let it be a great reflection of you and a great indication of what’s yet to be seen on the inside.

wall to wall carpeting 10 Things Home Buyers Hate About Your Home!

7. Wall to wall carpeting

If you can, please remove them. These days home buyers are looking for hardwood floors throughout. Even if they aren’t in the best of shape, hardwood floors are much more appealing than wall to wall carpeting. If you can’t rip out the wall to wall, please have it professionally steam cleaned.

entryways selling home 10 Things Home Buyers Hate About Your Home!

8. Neglected entryways

This is the first room everyone sees as soon as they pass through the front door. This is your greeting card. Let it be warm, friendly and welcoming. A simple bouquet of flowers, it need not necessarily be elaborate, makes a lovely statement. Clear out closets, and make sure that stray shoes and other items are neatly put away.

pet house 10 Things Home Buyers Hate About Your Home!

9. Your pets

May people are allergic. Many children are scared. Please keep your pets away from your home whenever possible.

via tumblr garage when showing your home leave 10 Things Home Buyers Hate About Your Home!

10. You!

I’m sure you are lovely and you know your home like no one else, but a potential home buyer simply does not want you there, or anywhere nearby. If you remain at home they won’t stay, they won’t linger and they won’t take their time to look around to get a proper look and feel. You will not be doing yourself any favors by remaining at home. Leave the selling to your Realtor, that’s why, after all, you’ve hired him (or her!)

Newton Real Estate Attorneys and Mortgage Brokers etc…

My Newton contractors I love post was a huge success so I have decided to delve into real estate professionals I love.  In this crazy market we have going on here in the Boston burbs, please speak with a mortgage broker before you even start to look at homes.  Mortgage brokers are now issuing pre-approvals where your credit has been checked, your bank statements have been looked at, your income has been verified.  If something shows up on your credit report you will be asked to document and re-document what the issue was.  The guidelines for self-employed borrowers have dramatically changed and not in a good way if you are trying to buy a house.

I am listing my tops in alphabetical order not in preference order.

Mortgage Brokers

Wayne Olson

Radius Mortgage

781-706-9571  cell

Amy Slotnick:  

Fairway Independent Mortgage

781-719-4670  office

617-513-4670  cell

Anastasia Tacewicz

GMH Mortgage

617-301-1332 cell

Craig Tanny

Mortgage Equity Partners

781-309-1805 office

781-956-7640  cell

I have complete confidence in all of them, they do an excellent job and they are all PLEASANT with a can do attitude!


Brian Brown

Brian Brown Law Offices

(781) 235-4024

Yitz Magence

Gilmarten Magence


Laurie Sullivan



Paul Cornell


Neil Desmond


Lisa Alajajian


Helping to Prepare for the Move

Laurie Nordman


Laurie’s services are so comprehensive that I attached her website.

I only recommend good people who can get the job done and they must possess a sense of humor.  There a lot of bumps in the road and it makes life so much less complicated if everyone is on the same page.  Everyone of the people I have referred here works on the weekend or they have coverage on weekends.

One last thing I would like to mention is giving up a mortgage contingency or an inspection contingency is NOT a good idea….if you do not have the cash to pay for your home or do not have more money to put down if the appraisal comes in low do not forego your mortgage contingency.  I feel as if we are heading into appraisal issues again since the prices have risen so dramatically in such a short period of time.  No inspection?  Not ok unless you plan to gut the entire house or you have an endless supply of money.  I know, I know, with bidding wars you feel like you will lose this next house (and you have already been outbid on the last 4) it is a decision you may later regret when you have 6 inches of water floating in your basement.  

Newton Real Estate Market is CRAZY!

OMG its crazy what is happening in the Newton/Brookline real estate market.  Brookline prices are now like swanky Boston condos, and Newton prices are now Brookline prices…I have a client who bought a condo at 45 Province in Boston a year ago for around $1,175 a square foot, condos in that building are now selling in the $1,600 a square foot range.  I am beginning to think a dog house will cost a 100 grand in Brookline and the insanity continues into Newton.

So what’s selling? pretty much anything priced under 1.4.  If it’s cute and staged — it’s sold.  Homes between 1.4 and 1.9 are slightly tougher to sell.  There are some great deals out there and honestly I don’t understand the rationale behind why a buyer would so over pay for a house that’s adorable but will never be anything  more than adorable.  Look at the stats I put up below!  I took these from MLS, there are 75 homes on the market and there are only 15 under 1 million dollars!

Sellers, the time is now!  This is a supply and demand business and there is no supply.   Buyers, get yourself a broker (ME) and try not to get caught up in this frenzy.  Run some numbers, check what you are paying on a price per square foot basis AND if you do not have the cash to pay for a house DO NOT give up your mortgage contingency.  I suspect we will some appraisal issues in the near future.  If you are not gutting a house DO NOT give up an inspection contingency.  There will ALWAYS be another house.

On-Market Snapshot
Report Run: 3/14/2014 10:56:03 AM
Property Type(s): SF
Snapshot Date: 03/14/2014
Towns: Newton
Price Range Number of
Avg. Days
on Market
Under $50,000 - -
$50,000 – $99,999 - -
$100,000 – $149,999 - - - -
$150,000 – $199,999 - - - -
$200,000 – $249,999 - - - -
$250,000 – $299,999 - - - -
$300,000 – $349,999 - - - -
$350,000 – $399,999 - - - -
$400,000 – $449,999 - - - -
$450,000 – $499,999 1 42
$500,000 – $599,999 1 2
$600,000 – $699,999 2 4
$700,000 – $799,999 3 8
$800,000 – $899,999 4 110
$900,000 – $999,999 4 69
$1,000,000 – $1,499,999 18 61
$1,500,000 – $1,999,999 15 156
$2,000,000 – $2,499,999 13 137
$2,500,000 – $2,999,999 3 199
$3,000,000 – $3,999,999 8 47
$4,000,000 – $4,999,999 2 153
$5,000,000 – $9,999,999 1 2
Over $10,000,000 - - - -
Total Properties 75 Avg. 97  
Pending Statistics Print this page  /  E-mail this page  /  Make a PDF of this pagePDF this page
Report Run: 3/14/2014 11:00:21 AM
Property Type(s): SF
Start Date: 12/14/2013
End Date: 3/14/2014
Towns: Newton
Went Pending Current Status
Price Range # of
# UAG # CTG # Sold # Other
Under $50,000 - - - - -
$50,000 – $99,999 - - - - -
$100,000 – $149,999 - - - - -
$150,000 – $199,999 - - - - -
$200,000 – $249,999 - - - - -
$250,000 – $299,999 - - - - -
$300,000 – $349,999 - - - - -
$350,000 – $399,999 - - - - -
$400,000 – $449,999 2 1 1 - -
$450,000 – $499,999 4 1 - 2 1
$500,000 – $599,999 9 6 2 1 -
$600,000 – $699,999 9 4 3 2 -
$700,000 – $799,999 15 10 2 3 -
$800,000 – $899,999 13 6 1 4 2
$900,000 – $999,999 13 7 2 3 1
$1,000,000 – $1,499,999 21 11 7 3 -
$1,500,000 – $1,999,999 13 8 3 1 1
$2,000,000 – $2,499,999 3 1 - 1 1
$2,500,000 – $2,999,999 4 2 - 2 -
$3,000,000 – $3,999,999 2 2 - - -
$4,000,000 – $4,999,999 1 - - - 1
$5,000,000 – $9,999,999 - - - - -
Over $10,000,000 - - - - -
Total Properties 109 59 21 22 7
Lowest Price: $449,000 Median Price: $899,000
Highest Price: $4,200,000 Average Price: $1,224,298
Total Market Volume: $133,448,499

Massachusetts single-family home sales hit a 10-year high for February

Newton’s Top Realtors

BBJ Real Estate Daily


Massachusetts single-family home sales hit a 10-year high for February


Enlarge Photo

Local real estate professionals expect a busy spring season.

Thomas Grillo — Real Estate Editor-Boston Business Journal



The Massachusetts Association of Realtors reported on Tuesday that pending sales of single-family homes hit a 10-year high for the month of February, the latest indicator yet that the market’s momentum is carrying over from 2013.

Pending sales figures, also called homes under agreement, are a leading indicator of actual housing sales in Massachusetts for the next 90 days.

MAR President Peter Ruffini and regional vice president at Jack Conway & Co. said poor weather failed to dampen buyer demand. He also said an improving economy and low interest rates fueled accepted offers last month.

The number of single-family homes put under agreement increased to 3,587 last month, a 20.4 percent increase compared to the year-earlier period when 2,980 homes went under agreement. February marked the 12th-straight month of year-over-year increases and the most homes put under agreement in February since 2004, when there were 3,612 homes placed under contract. On a month-to-month basis, single-family homes put under agreement rose 13.8 percent compared to the 3,151 homes put under agreement in January.

The median sales price of single-family homes put under agreement in February was $295,600, up 7.5 percent from $275,000 in February 2013. On a month-to-month basis, the median P&S price was down 7.7 percent from the $320,000 posted in January.

Condominiums placed under agreement also increased by double digits. The number of condos put under contract in February was 1,533, up 17 percent compared to February 2013 when purchase and sales agreement totaled 1,310. This is the most number of condos put under agreement in February since 2007 when 1,777 units were put under agreement. On a month-to-month basis, condos put under agreement were up 7.9 percent from 1,421 units in January.

The median sale price of a condo put under agreement in February was $282,500 which was up 8.9 percent from $259,450 in February 2013. On a month-to-month basis, under agreement median prices were down 5.9 percent from $300,000 in January.

Real estate agents say the tracking of signed purchase and sales agreements or “pending sales” provide reliable information about where the real estate market is heading in the months ahead. A pending sale or a sale “under agreement” is when the buyer and seller agree on the terms of the sale of a home and have a signed purchase and sale agreement, but have yet to transfer a deed. MAR’s data only includes deals made through the MLS systems in Massachusetts and only includes sales involving a broker.

Newton School Rankings According to Boston Buisness Journal




Top Public School Districts in Mass.

Locally Researched by: Sean McFadden, Boston Business Journal

More Data

(Toggle up to 5 options)

  •  Rank
  •  MCAS, Average Cumulative Score
  •  MCAS Statewide Rank
  •  SAT, Average Cumulative Score
  •  SAT, Statewide Rank
  •  PSAT, Average Cumulative Score
  •  PSAT, Statewide Rank
  •  School Superintendent
  •  School Superintendent
MCAS, Average Cumulative Score
MCAS Statewide Rank
SAT, Average Cumulative Score
SAT, Statewide Rank
1 Lexington
146 Maple St.
Lexington, MA 02420
1 95.75 18 1903 2
2 Acton-Boxborough
16 Charter Road
Acton, MA 01720
2 95.85 17 1876 3
3 Dover-Sherborn
157 Farm St.
Dover, MA 02030
3 95.45 19 1843 6
4 Carlisle
83 School St.
Carlisle, MA 01741
4 96.35 13 1807 11
5 Newton
100 Walnut St.
Newton, MA 02460
5 93.6 42 1849 5

Selling a House With Personal Photos

I’ve been trying to put a classic family picture wall gallery in the hallway that leads to our master bedroom but the layout always stumped me.  I am a symmetrical orderly person which will surprise many of you who know me.  I can’t stand an angled bed or a couch angled in the corner of a room.  That’s says to me; it doesn’t fit.  I also don;t like to see a bed against the wall.  I would say 90% of the houses I sell the kids beds are against the wall.  The first thing I think of is what a pain in the ass to make that bed and changing the sheets…UGH!  Who cares if the kids fall out if the bed, mine did and they are fine::))  I’m clearly showing my neurotic side today because I don’t want to sleep in a bed with my head under a window and I definitely don’t want to sleep in a bed angled in the corner with that dead space behind it.

Which brings me back to the wall gallery.  I love the top presentation below, the bottom one — I’d rather stick needles in my eyes!  The top is orderly and symmetrical but it is also soothing, allowing your eye to calmly move from one picture to the next.  As a Realtor, I would NOT ask my client to remove these pictures.  I am a complete unabashed believer in de-cluttering and de-personalizing to some extent.  But I do not believe in removing every trace of life from a house.  Yes, get rid of that show off picture of you and Bill Clinton in the sterling silver frame on the mantle in the living room.  He is not your bestie but now people are wondering how you know Bill and not looking at the house.  Worse than that they hate Bill or W and can’t imagine themselves liking a house that one of “these” people liked.  Yes, it is amazing how many people in Newton have a framed picture of themselves with a “celebrity” prominently displayed in their home.

I want a house to look happy, if you have some wonderful photos of your children laughing or a cute moment captured on camera, by all means leave it there.  A grouping, a sentimental picture in a nice frame on the bedside table,  a gallery wall that is well done.  I don’t want to see three years of your kids artwork on the refrigerator.  For the most part I don’t want to see your kids art work all. If your kid is talented, then by all means frame a few pictures and hang them.  If not, get a plastic bin and put the budding Van Gogh’s work in there.  It will have to be done before you move anyway.

The key to photos is tasteful, happy, edited, soothing….


NO NO  NOOOO!  Everything about this wall makes me anxious…I want to straignten the frames, I want to rip down the blue and white peeling sayings.  Baby blue stick ons on baby poop colored walls is a NO.

Newton Contractors I Love!

Newton Realtor

Blogging or trying to blog every day is hard work.  I am not usually at a loss for words and I have NO problem expressing my opinion, however, I do find blogging everyday to be stressful.  I don’t want to post inane things and I’ve been told my personality doesn’t always shine through my posts which could be a good thing.  We did a major renovation on our house recently and people are always asking for good contractors etc, so my post today is about service people I REALLY liked….

I’ll start with our Architect; Kent Duckham from Duckham Architecture and Interiors, he’s awesome.  I should also point out that both he and his wife Alina are personal friends.  Kent is very talented….not just a little talented a lot talented.  Alina is also extremely accomplished.  With Kent and Alina you get the ying and the yang…Kent is a thoughtful, quiet, reserved listener and Alina is well — just the opposite!  Check out his website:   Amazing projects, don’t let the grandeur scare you away, he also does smaller projects and loves a challenge.

My contractor was another friend Bruno Visco.  Bruno is brilliant!  Bruno can figure out any problem, talk to the architect and structural engineer and explain it to me so I could understand.  I cannot say enough good things about him, he’s ethical,  meticulous, treats every house like it is his own and last but not least, he’s adorable!

I am not going to mention my structural engineer because I HATED him…he was slow, changed his pricing, unresponsive…the list goes on.   Same problem with the civil engineer.  Between the two I would say the job was held up for at least a month to 6 weeks.

Bruno chose Serge Nasta as the Master electrician for the job.  Serge is a character, while also being capable, he is hilarious and also a little loud 781-393-9815.

The plumber we used was Powderly and Sons.  I will say that this was not a contractor that Bruno worked with before but was open to using them especially since the pricing was so much better than his guy.  Jeff and his brother took over the business from his dad and we really thought they did a good job.  Let’s put it this way, we have plenty of heat and haven’t taken a cold shower.  We did have a leak but my lovely daughter overran her bathtub and it leaked into the powder room.  A story for another day!

Our HVAC contractor Jeff Lawson.   Jeff had great pricing was very knowledgable and the air conditioning is great!  He also did the bathroom exhaust fans.  I think every Realtor in Newton has used Jeff to install their central air.  781-443-4270.

Greg Sousa from Dornan and Sousa Roofing did the roof.  We’ve known Greg for years and again the job was done on time and on budget.  (978) 454-1840.  Gutters and downspouts…New England Gutter King 888-KING-348.

I sort of liked the tile guy and sort of didn’t so he doesn’t make the list!  I cannot say enough about the guy who put in the glass shower doors.  Have you ever dealt with these shower door people?  What a bunch of asses filled with self-importance — quoting $4500.00 for one shower door and acting like they are doing you a favor with a 10-12 week lead time.  Call Tom at Boston Glass Group, you will not be disappointed!   (617) 505-6091

If you need a painter call Kieran Ridge 617) 312-793  Let’s face it when all the contractors leave the painter is the last guy there.  You will probably be spending time with your painter, too much time with your painter!  So make sure your painter is honest and pleasant.  You will just want your house back, you will just want to be there with no noise, no fumes, no yelling.  Renovating sucks no matter how you slice it but it is infinitely better if you have the right people.

Many people say to me I would never hire my friend…that is the most ignorant and irrational thought process.  If you can’t trust your friends, maybe you should get some new ones!

29 Things You Need To Know Before You Move To Newton

29 Things You Need To Know Before You Move To Newton

Newton is more than just a Beantown ‘burb. As this list will demonstrate, it’s also the home to a famous composer, a New World religion, and the namesake of a very famous cookie.
Very cute and informative at the same time.  Special shout out to Dave at Buff’s Pub!

Existing Home Sales Fall 5.1% In January 2014

Existing Home Sales Fall 5.1% In January 2014, To Lowest Level Since July 2012

Existing home sales dropped 5.1% in January, hitting their lowest levels since July 2012, according to data released Friday by the National Association of Realtors. In addition to the winter weather, the NAR blamed rising home prices and mortgage rates, as well as the ongoing inventory shortage.

In January, existing home sales dropped to an annualized rate of 4.62 million (seasonally adjusted), down from 4.87 million (seasonally adjusted) in December 2013. January’s rate is 5.1% below December’s, and also 5.1% below the rate one year earlier. Sales have not been so slow since July 2012, when the annualized rate (seasonally adjusted) was 4.59 million.

The NAR’s Existing home sales data tallies of the number of sales of previously-owned single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops that close during a given month. Since resales account for a greater share of the housing market than new homes, the measure is considered a market bellwether.

Friday’s news is not exactly surprising, given this winter’s horrific weather. “Disruptive and prolonged winter weather patterns across the country are impacting a wide range of economic activity, and housing is no exception,” said Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, in a release.

NAR President Steve Brown, co-owner of Irongate, Inc., Realtors in Dayton, Ohio, pointed out an additional weather-related problem contributing to the weak numbers: higher flood insurance rates in flood zones, which account for about 8 to 9% of sales. “Thirty percent of transactions in flood zones were cancelled or delayed in January as a result of sharply higher flood insurance rates,” Brown said.

Of course, weather isn’t the only factor. Prices are going up, inventory is low, and mortgage rates rising. The median existing-home price in January was $188,900, up 10.7% from one year earlier. The median price for an existing condo was $188,700 in January, a 13% year-over-year jump.

Although inventory rose 2.2% in January from the prior month, the 1.9 million existing homes available for sale represent only a 4.9-month supply at the current sales pace. An inventory level of about six-months is considered healthy. Mortgage interest rates (30-year conventional, fixed-rate) were slightly down in January, falling to 4.43% from December’s 4.46% level. However, that’s still significantly above the 3.41% rate offered to buyers in January 2013.

“These issues will hinder home sales activity until the positive factors of job growth and new supply from higher housing starts begin to make an impact,” Yun noted.

The confluence of factors seems to be keeping first-time home-buyers out of the market. January 2014 marks the lowest market share for this group since NAR began tracking the measure in October 2008. In January first-time buyers comprised 26% of existing-home purchases, down from 27% in December and 30% one year earlier. Normally, they should be closer to 40% of the overall market.

In one bright spot, distressed sales continue to fall. Foreclosures and short sales accounted for 15% of January’s sales, compared with 14% in December but 24% in January 2013. Of the total distressed sales last month, 11% were foreclosures and 4% short sales. A full 33% of existing home sales transactions in January were purchased with all cash.

The pace of home sales dipped from December in every region of the country in January. Year-over-year, only the South saw higher sales, with a 1.6% increase from January 2013. The median price for January sales in the Northeast was $241,100, up 6.6% from a year ago. The median price in the Midwest was $140,300, 7.6% percent higher than in January 2013. In the South, the median price was $161,500, up 9.4 percent from a year ago. And in the West, where inventory is particularly tight, the median price jumped 14.6% from one year earlier, to $273,500.

Real Estate Marketing to the Milllennials — I Think I Have it in Me…

Andy Fulton–Thanks for sharing

How to Buy a House – As Told by Memes

Andy Fulton

by  on February 11, 2014

Having trouble connecting with Millennial homebuyers? This graphic may be just the thing you need to get your marketing efforts on their level.

“I Can Haz Real Estate” gives Millennials and other aspiring homebuyers who are Internet-savvy a highly simplified version of the home-buying process. The vehicle this infographic uses to explain this frequently convoluted process is a “meme.” If you’re wondering what exactly memes are, they have been described as “virally-transmitted cultural symbols or social ideas” or cultural elements like jokes and turns of phrase that are created and disseminated by individuals.

The memes contained in this infographic are simple images with text imposed over them. This type of meme uses standardized images with defined voices and contexts in which they should be used. (For example, the fist-pumping baby near the top of the graphic is known as “Success Kid” and is used to express happiness about a victory or success.) As most Millennials and Internet-savvy people can tell you, memes are commonly shared on social networks like Facebook and websites like Reddit.



Newton, MA. January Real Estate Recap

Newton, MA – Single Family Properties

  • Unit sales are up 75.0% to 35.
  • Median price in January was $1,000,500. This is up 28.9% from $776,250 in January of 2013.
  • 3-month price per square foot is up by 12.6%.
  • More Headlines …
Headlines are based on comparisons between this month and the same month last year unless otherwise stated.
Changes Favoring Buyers
January, 2014 % Chg From Jan, 2013
Listings Under Contract 23 -11.5%
Changes Favoring Sellers
January, 2014 % Chg From Jan, 2013
Unit Sales 35 75.0%
Median Sale Price $1,000,500 28.9%
Sales to List Price Ratio 97.6% 0.9%
Inventory 92 -17.1%
Months of Supply 1.7 -19.6%
Market Time (Days) 73 -14.1%
Price per Sq Ft for Sold $368 15.0%
New Listings 46 -4.2%
Monthly changes may not accurately reflect long-term trends. Click here to see longer-term averages

There were 35 unit sales in January. This is up 75.0% from 20 in January of 2013. Sales/list price ratio in January moved down to 97.6% from 98.1% in December.
Median price in January was $1,000,500. This is up 28.9% from $776,250 in January of 2013. 3-month median price of $1,000,250 in January was up slightly from $926,000 in December and up considerably from $760,000 in January of 2013.
Inventory of 92 in January was up 24.3% from 74 in December but down 17.1% from 111 in January of 2013. New listings of 46 in January were up considerably from 20 in December but down just slightly from 48 in January of 2013. Months of supply of 1.7 in January was up somewhat from 1.4 in December but down a little from 2.1 in January of 2013.
Market Time
Days on market of 73 in January was up substantially from 46 in December but down slightly from 85 in January of 2013. This is the highest days on market has been since February, 2013.



William Raveis

Real Estate and the Weather

Ugh- New England weather!  Try showing houses in this weather.

So what is the trick for getting many people to view a home on a freezing cold wet day?  Ah—the PRICE!  Nothing will warm a heart more than a perception of a deal.  Now it would help if the Realtor had a nice fire burning in the fireplace and maybe some coffee or hot chocolate and some delicious chocolate chip cookies to help warm the heart as well as the bones.  Of course, that leads to the truly mindless (rude) people who will walk around someone else’s home obliviously dropping crumbs all over the floor so the other open house attendees can grind those crumbs into the rugs.

This leads me to clueless (lazy-stupid) sellers.    If there is snow on the ground, PLEASE shovel your walk, throw down some ice melt and keep it clear.  If you have to get out there with a toothbrush to accomplish this, do it!  AND every day your house is on the market not just Sunday.  Nothing  panics a Realtor more than standing at the door of an open house cautioning people to; “watch the ice, hold on to the railing, hold your kids hand.”  We would rather be engaging the prospective buyers at your open house  pointing out how lovely the family room looks– helping them to imagine watching the next the Super Bowl in this very room with their friends and family.

This also brings me to my next pet peeve—removing shoes.  I know the floors are buffed and shiny and they look oh so beautiful but they can also be as slippery as an ice skating rink.  Now if the foyer is drop dead gorgeous and is the most beautiful room in the house, by all means, keep people there as long as possible.  If not, a Realtor should supply as large as mat as possible to provide a place to seriously wipe feet or place some construction booties over shoes.  It also isn’t a great experience when someone falls on those slippery floors or down the basement stairs.  Kind of puts a damper on the open house as a whole!  If your foyer is small, tight or just average, buyers will be thinking hmm… this foyer does not seem very welcoming.

Selling a house in the snow is not glamorous but it doesn’t have to be a chore either.  I truly believe that a serious buyer will come out in any weather to look at a home that meets their needs.  However, it is the Realtor’s job to make the experience as positive as possible.  A warm smile, well-lit rooms, to be engaging but not pushy and most importantly have a real knowledge of the house.  Know the answers to how many AMPs of electricity, how many zones of heat and A/C,   what is being built in the huge crater at the end of the street; can you walk to the schools, how far is it to the T or bus?  Basic knowledge and courtesy, that’s what buyers want and deserve.

A Flood of Listings Coming to the Market?

Sotheby’s Newton, MA.  Boston Top 20

I can only hope….I’m hoping for less than a flood and more than a trickle.

A Flood of Listings Coming to the Market?

Posted: 12 Feb 2014 04:00 AM PST

We have previously talked about the diminishing supply of housing inventory and how it is impacting the real estate market. The situation might be about to change dramatically according to a recent survey by Lending Tree.

The survey revealed three interesting findings. Of those surveyed:

  1. 63% have a positive outlook on the economy this year
  2. 69% have a positive outlook on housing this year
  3. 71% said they are considering selling their home this year

While the first two findings are good news, the third was rather amazing.

71% of homeowners are considering selling their home in the next 12 months!  (I don’t foresee this happening nor would it be a good thing.)

While we realize that 70% of the housing inventory in this country could never be turned over in a year, it is interesting that people are again thinking about moving. There has been a pent-up selling demand over the last few years because families lost both equity in their homes and confidence in the economy. Rising prices have returned equity to many and an improving economy is again rebuilding consumer confidence.

Bottom Line

Only time will tell. However, even if a small portion of that 71% actually decide to sell, this year’s real estate market could be very interesting as we move forward.


Sotheby’s Newton, MA.  Newton, MA.  Top Brokers So I have a question home buyers…..If you were looking for a renovated house in the 1.7 – 2 million range would you rather have a luxurious shower or a small shower and a bathtub in the master bathroom?  There is a bathtub in another bathroom on the same.  Let me know your thoughts….



Or This?

Pre-Appvoals: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

Amy Slotnick,   Margaret Szerlip

Dodd Frank, QM, ATR…yikes!  I can hear all of you moaning in pain just thinking about the mortgage process.  Thankfully, I have Amy Slotnick of Fairway Mortgage to clarify and simplify the experience.

Dodd Frank– The Dodd Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act requires lenders to take more consideration when making mortgage loans.

QM — simply means Qualified Mortgage, the long and short is that loans can no longer contain high risk features such as interest only, negative amortization, balloon payments, or a loan term longer than 30 years.  In my humble opinion these are all good.

ATR — The ability to repay?!  Wasn’t that always part of the criteria for a mortgage?  Basically, this ATR will make sure you have the ability to repay a loan you can afford, eliminating teaser ARM loans with a cap of 5%.  Meaning that after a 5 year period on a 5/1 ARM your rate can no longer jump from 3% to 8%.  You will now be pre-approved based on the higher rate.

In order to receive a pre-approval your lender will want to see your W-2 or pay stub.  The lender must consider 8 types of information.

1.  Your current income or assets

2.  Your current employment status

3.  Your Credit history

4. The monthly payment for the mortgage

5.  Your monthly payments on other mortgage loans you get at the same time

6.  Your monthly payments for other mortgage-related expenses such as property taxes and home insurance

7.  All other debts

8.  Your monthly debt payments, including the mortgage, compared to your monthly income (debt to income ratio) or how much money you have left over each month after paying your debts (residual income).

All of you monthly debt cannot exceed 43% of your pre-tax income.  There are NO exceptions to this..43.01% will be disqualified.

Buyers?  GET PRE-APPROVED, by a reputable bank.  Sorry to say this but PLEASE PLEASE NOT BofA!  So many  transactions involving Bank of America are a nightmare…my opinion.  Make sure your agent understands the new complexities and how to draft an offer that makes your offer more compelling to a seller, especially in this multiple offer enviroment.

Sellers?  Make sure you have a smart agent!  Make sure agent is protecting you.

Fairway Independent Mortgage is putting their money where their mouth is!


Fairway has always offered a pre-approval that is a guarantee of a closing due to our complete, thorough, 360 degree evaluation of the applicant’s financing ability. (For info on a pre-approval vs. pre-qualification letter, click here).

We review all income and asset documentation to ensure that we have a complete financial snapshot and have not overlooked anything that could potentially derail a transaction further down the road.

Ninety percent of our loans are underwritten in house, with more complicated transactions getting a full underwriter review. In short, we will not issue a pre-approval without fully evaluating all aspects of the transaction.

(If the property is a condo we will review the condo details to ensure that the property meets all secondary market guidelines).

Now we are strengthening that guarantee even more by “Putting our money where our mouth is!” A pre-Approval letter from us is a guarantee of a closing-or we will reimburse up to $5,000 in related costs!

Certified Pre-Approval Guarantee: Closing Loans On Time, Under Budget, With No Surprises

Fairway will issue and guarantee the accuracy of “Fairway Certified” pre-approvalsas long as:

·        The borrowers personal financial qualifications stay the same or improve[1]

·        The agreed upon loan parameters stay the same or improve[2]

·        The property meets all necessary loan requirements[3]

If we are wrong we will:

·        Reimburse documented short-term moving, relocating and/or storage expenses up to a maximum of $1500

·        Reimburse any documented lost home inspection or appraisal expenses up to $1000

·        Reimburse any forfeited earnest money expenses up to $5,000

Before you get started, check out our handy document check-list

Our complete Promise to the real estate community print document, including theFairway –Certified pre-approval, can be found here.

A “Fairway-Certified” pre-approval is easy -just call or email amyslotnick@amyslotnick.com781-719-4670 and ask for Amy Slotnick!

Call Margaret Szerlip at 617-921-6860 or e-mail me at of you are looking to buy or sell a home.

Mortgage Guidelines Have Changed Again

Amy Slotnick, Fairway Independent Mortgage

Yesterday I went to a Lunch and Learn hosted by Amy Slotnick (she is amazingly accurate, thorough and professional and her rates are always competitive) from Fairway Independent Mortgage to learn a little about new lending guidelines.  For the most part most of the new rules will ultimately prevent another mortgage meltdown.  There will be more loans with less money down but documentation will be key.  The biggest change/challenge will affect the self-employed 1099 borrower.  Here a few excerpts I came away with.

Mortgage  Minutiae
Assets – Savings accounts, checking accounts, retirement funds, investment accounts…

We are required to analyze bank statements to determine that the consumer actually is able to make the down payment represented in their offer. Even this simple task is complicated by regulations and today’s more complicated consumer profiles and lifestyles.

Here is a list of items that we look for and at when evaluating down payment ability, overall financial management and reserve funds:

·        We must have all pages associated with an asset statement even if blank, if the statement says page 1 of 10, and then we must have page 10 in the file.

·        Whose account is it? Must have the name/s of the account holders, address and account numbers printed on the statements. Often statements printed from the web will not have these required details.

·        Whose account is it? IF the account is in the name of a spouse or partner who is not going to be on the mortgage application we will need to address that issue and determine what additional documentation will be required.

·        Large Deposits. It is required that we identify the source of all large deposits outside of a normal deposit pattern. Lenders have varying policies as to what constitutes a large deposit, for the sake of safety; assume a large deposit is one of $1000.00 or more.

·        If assets are not currently liquid such as a stock portfolio or retirement account, we may have to verify that the subject account can be liquidated.

·        In most cases, the buyer has to verify that they have 5% of the down payment in their own funds dedicated to the transaction prior to considering any alternative sources for down payment monies such as gift funds.

·        Gift funds must be from a family member

·        Self Employed borrowers using funds in business accounts will have to document that the use of those funds will not negatively impact the business.

·        Second mortgages from an employer, institution or community lending program come with addition guidelines that will need to be discussed when applying for a mortgage.

·        Documentation of remaining funds after the closing (reserve funds) is required on many programs, that amount can vary from 2 months of payments remaining up to 12 months depending on loan program and borrower profile. We are only permitted to use a percentage of the balance in non-liquid accounts such as stocks or retirement and we must verify that the account can be liquidated if needed.

Phew! Any questions? Feel free to call or email me anytime!

Tomorrow I will be writing about the pre-approval process.


Crazy Trulia Article

5 Ways to Pick the Perfect Time to Sell

So I came across this article from Trulia and I had to laugh to myself.  Whomever wrote this article has never sold a property in Greater Boston — just proving that real estate is local.  Read my answers to these statements after each number.

fb-blog-image-500x500Smart sellers spend a whole lot of time and energy strategizing about how to sell their homes for top dollar. They factor in buyer demand, the competition, the job market, the mortgage market and their agent’s track record. And that doesn’t even account for all the time spent understand recent home sales in the area as an indicator of how local buyers will react to this listing.

Many a smart seller will also try to time their listing just right, too. And most often this looks like waiting until they feel buyers are sufficiently ready, willing, and able to pay a good price for the property. One timing consideration that sometimes gets short shrift is this: the calendar.

There’s a season for everything, as you might have heard. And recent Trulia data revealed some powerful geographically-specific seasonal trends in search activity for homes, adding proof to what agents have long known – the calendar portends various shifts in buyer activity, which sellers need to note. If you’re gearing up to list your home for sale, you should definitely take advantage of this interactive tool we’ve created to help you understand how these shifts play out in your area, and connect with your agent to discuss whether and how you might want to factor that into your home sale action plan.

But there are also a number of calendar-based factors you should just be thoughtful about as you put your plan for selling together. Here are a handful of calendars that should be – and stay – on every home seller’s radar screen:

1. The Academic Calendar. Families with school-aged children often find it less disruptive to house hunt in the late Spring/early Summer with the aim of moving in before school starts. Of course, we all know what they say about the best laid plans, so by no means should you let this stop you from listing your home at another time of year. Just know that demand for homes with convenient proximity to strong schools can uptick during the summer school break and around other times of year when kids are not in school.

What? By late spring or early summer the western suburbs market is over.  People tend to close on their new home in late June after the kids are out of school.  In fact the slowest time frame for real estate around here is mid July to late August.

2. The Tax Calendar. I cannot count the number of relatively unmotivated, looky-loo type buyers I’ve worked with over the years who got sudden, intense motivation from a massive, looming tax bill. For instance, many new professionals will seek to close escrow on homes between the time they graduate and the end of that same year, in an effort to deduct their closing costs and mortgage interest from their newly large incomes and avoid a big tax bill the following April. Similarly, just after tax time in April, a flood of newly motivated buyers come into the market, advised by their CPAs that the mortgage interest deduction is their best bet for not having to write as big a check to the IRS next year.

Fortunately for sellers, more buyers and more motivation means more demand and – all other things being equal – can translate into a faster sale at a higher price than at other times of the year.

Not once in 10 years have I had a buyer or seller say they were waiting until tax season is over.  Maybe an accountant wants to wait until after tax season because the work load is too busy, but otherwise this is insane.

3. The Weather Calendar. Many sellers who live in cold-weather climates are aware that wintry weather conditions can dramatically cut down on the numbers of buyers who are out viewing properties. This is why buyer searches for homes on Trulia peak earliest, in January, in warm-weather states like Hawaii and Florida – and not until after the Spring thaws in the Midwest, the South, the northeast and most of the West.

But what’s not as obvious is that the combination of what’s happening on the weather calendar and the specific features of your home can interact to impact your home’s prospects for sale – and its ultimate sale price. Behavioral economics researchers have found that homes with swimming pools sell for more in the summertime than they do in the winter. “When it is sweltering outside, a swimming pool just looks attractive. There’s an emotional connection because it reminds us of fun times we have in the summer,” said Jaren Pope, one of the study’s authors and an assistant professor of economics at Brigham Young University.

So, if you’re selling a home with ski slope access in the summer, you might want to paint the picture of a cozy, fun-filled winter by staging the place with ski gear and other items that help prospective buyers visualize how much fun they’ll have when winter comes. And vice versa if you’re selling a pool house in the winter, consider making sure it is steamy and heated, if it has those features. Stage it with lounges, towels, lights – anything that showcases the pool to offset cold-weather buyer’s psychological tendency to discount the appeal of a pool in the winter.

Oh yes the weather calendar.  We live in New England, the weather could be bad until May.  This is the biggest misconception of all.  The “spring market” starts in mid January here in the Newton.  Like I said before, after the spring thaws, the market here is winding down.

4. The Holiday Calendar. During the holidays, many buyers simply prefer to spend their downtime celebrating with family and friends vs. house hunting, especially in locales where the winters are wet or cold. Our listing search databacks this up: nationwide, December is the slowest month of the year for home searches, and November is the second-slowest.

Does this mean the holidays are a bad time to have your house on the market? Not necessarily: some homes just show beautifully when all lit up and tastefully dressed up for the holidays. And the truth is that there is a hardy contingent of buyers motivated to close by year’s end for tax purposes, every year in every market. While buyers might be fewer in number, those who will brave rain, sleet and snow and forego holiday parties to house hunt can be some of the most motivated buyers of all.

Ok, I’ll give you this one.  The market does slow down between Thanksgiving and Christmas, but I have sold houses on the weekend after Thanksgiving 3 times in 10 years.  The week after Christmas can also be busy.  Parents and in-laws are visiting for the holidays and it is an easy time to show them a house under consideration.

5. The Gregorian Calendar (the regular old January through December calendar, that is). A survey just released by Fidelity Investments revealed that 54% of Americans said they typically consider setting New Year’s Resolutions related to their personal finances. This year, 26 percent of respondents said they are in a better financial situation today than last year (only 19 percent said so in 2012) and 28 percent say they are less in debt (vs. 25 percent in 2012).

Home buying tends to be a popular resolution among those with money on their minds at this time of year – and also among people looking forward to career promotions, developing their love and family relationships or relocating to a new home town. Make sure your home is well-represented on sites like Trulia at the beginning of the year (i.e., now!), when these life and financial change visionaries start searching the web for their next nest.

I’m not sure people say I am going to buy a house for the New Year.  People tend to say I’m going to get my house in order so I can sell or we need to save more money for a down payment.  People do come out in droves after the New Year because this is when the Spring market happens here.  Of course this year we have so few houses to sell that just average houses are selling at ridiculously inflated prices.  Please take these articles written by someone spewing out marketing pieces with a grain of salt.  If you really want to know what’s going on, call a Realtor or visit a new open house and witness the mayhem.

ALL: Do you feel like the seasons or calendar issues had an impact on your home purchase or sale? How so?

Great Value But Not Selling

Margaret Szerlip…Newton, Top Brokers

72 Beacon Street, Chestnut Hill…..I am not the listing agent for this house….I do wonder why it hasn’t sold.  Great location, substantial brick home, 5 bedrooms, 6 1/2 reovated baths, new windows, amazing views.  So what’s wrong with this house?  The only thing wrong with this house is the paint colors!  Just imagine this house painted in light airy colors all relating to one another with the same trim throughout the entire house.   It would make the house a much more modern looking.  This house is a MUCH better buy than a cookie cutter newer house in Newton.  Call me if you would like to view this home.  617-921-6860


72 Beacon St List Price: $1,895,000
Newton, MA : Chestnut Hill 02467-1303
Middlesex County
Style: Colonial Total Rooms: 11
Color: Bedrooms: 5
Grade School: Bowen Bathrooms: 6f 1h
Middle School: Oak HIll Master Bath: Yes
High School: Newton South Fireplaces: 1
Handicap Access/Features:
Directions: Across from the Reservoir on Beacon Street
This pristine property is located on the Chestnut Hill Reservoir, one of the area’s most scenic treasures w/spectacular views of the water and changing seasons. This property has been lovingly and extensively renovated. The formal rooms are grand and welcoming with inlaid mahogany floors. There are five en suite bedrooms with stunning baths and air jet tubs. Great private space for guests. Finished lower level w/multi purpose room and home theatre. Extensively landscaped w/remarkable gardens
Property Information
Approx. Living Area: 4526 sq. ft. Approx. Acres: 0.46 (20000 sq. ft.) Garage Spaces: 2  Detached
Living Area Includes: Heat Zones: 3  Forced Air, Gas Parking Spaces: 4  Off-Street
Living Area Source: Public Record Cool Zones: 3  Central Air Approx. Street Frontage:
Living Area Disclosures:
Room Levels, Dimensions and Features
Room Level Size Features
Living Room: 1 17×26 Fireplace, Flooring – Hardwood
Dining Room: 1 18×15 Flooring – Hardwood
Kitchen: 1 Pantry
Master Bedroom: 2 17×19 Bathroom – Full, Flooring – Hardwood
Bedroom 2: 2 18×15 Bathroom – Full, Flooring – Hardwood
Bedroom 3: 2 12×16 Bathroom – Full, Flooring – Hardwood
Bedroom 4: 3 17×16 Bathroom – Full, Flooring – Hardwood
Bedroom 5: 3 18×10 Bathroom – Full, Flooring – Hardwood
Bath 1: 2 Bathroom – Full, Flooring – Stone/Ceramic Tile
Bath 2: 2 Bathroom – Full, Flooring – Stone/Ceramic Tile
Bath 3: 2 Bathroom – Full, Flooring – Stone/Ceramic Tile
Laundry: B
Den: 1 13×8 Flooring – Stone/Ceramic Tile
Sun Room: 1 10×15 Flooring – Stone/Ceramic Tile
Foyer: 1 11×26 Flooring – Hardwood
Other: 3 Flooring – Wood
Appliances: Range, Wall Oven, Dishwasher, Disposal, Countertop Range, Refrigerator, Freezer, Washer, Dryer
Area Amenities: Public Transportation, Shopping, Walk/Jog Trails, Bike Path, Conservation Area, House of Worship, University
Basement: Yes   Full, Finished
Beach: No
Construction: Frame, Brick
Electric: Circuit Breakers, 200 Amps
Exterior: Brick
Exterior Features: Porch, Patio
Flooring: Wood, Tile
Foundation Size: 00
Foundation Description: Poured Concrete
Hot Water: Natural Gas, Tank
Interior Features: Cable Available, Sauna/Steam/Hot Tub
Lot Description: Scenic View(s)
Road Type: Public
Roof Material: Tile
Sewer Utilities: City/Town Sewer
Utility Connections: for Gas Range, for Electric Oven, Icemaker Connection
Water Utilities: City/Town Water
Waterfront: Yes ,  Other (See Remarks)
Water View: Yes ,  –
Other Property Info
Disclosure Declaration: No
Home Own Assn:
Lead Paint: Unknown
UFFI: Unknown  Warranty Features: No
Year Built: 1940  Source: Public Record
Year Built Description:Approximate
Year Round:
Short Sale w/Lndr.App.Req: No
Lender Owned: No
Tax Information
Pin #: S:63 B:029 L:0006
Assessed: $1,470,200
Tax: $17818  Tax Year: 2014
Book: 45865  Page: 430
Cert: 00177819
Zoning Code: SR1
Map:   Block:   Lot:





Where Have All The Home Sellers Gone?

Sotheby’s Newton, Newton’s Top Brokers

Ok, where are the home sellers?  Are you hesitating to sell because you don’t know what to do with all of your stuff?  Afraid you won’t be able to find a new home?  I have solutions for both.  I sound like broken record but this is a supply and demand business and there is no supply.  We have a TOTAL of 59 single family listings in Newton.  A normal /good market  would usually have 200 listings more or less.  During the debacle we were approaching 400 listings…..we currently have 59!  Average houses are receiving multiple offers.

A breakdown…


Total Homes      59

Under 1M           18

1M – 1.5M            13

1.5 – 2M                 9

Over 2M              19


Total                       61

Under 1M             38

1M - 1.5M               9

1.5M – 2M              8

Over 2M                 6

Every number tells a story and this is no different.  Houses over 2 million are not selling so quickly and buyers definitely like new when we get up into those prices.  With lots selling in great locations over 1.5 it’s hard to imagine being able to sell a new house for less than 3 million.  Clearly houses under 1 million are in an appreciating market.  Under agreements out number currently listed by 2-1 tipping the scale to market appreciation.  As you can see  1M – 2M is more stable with a similar amount for sale and under agreement.  The over two million is the problem area, homes for sale are out pacing under contracts by a 3-1 margin suggesting a depreciating market.  There are MANY buyers looking to spend over 2 million for a home (seriously) but a buyer must perceive value.  It is also true that buyers over 2 million like new or completely renovated homes.  They will not pay top dollar to renovate a home.  Every home fits into a price category depending on location, size, condition, side street or busy street, convenience, etc …there are a few outliers, but very few.  Every house has a price so call me to find out yours.


Don’t Let Your Daughter, Sister, Wife, Girlfriend…EVER Think This Is Attractive!

I know this is totally off topic for me but this needs to be shared!   My friend Erin Gate of Erin Gates Design — (definitely check out her amazing blog Elements of Style)  This Saint Laurent ad is so completely dangerous to a young girls way of thinking that I had to repost.


Two days ago I was perusing my feed on Facebook when an image a friend/colleague posted stopped me in my tracks. I clicked on it to get a better look and was beside myself to see that this image of what I thought was a severely anorexic or sick woman was in fact an ad from Saint Laurent’s spring campaign.  Before I continue take a look:


To be honest, I almost didn’t believe it.  I knew that before I could write anything about it I had to confirm it was real first, even though the source of the Facebook image was a trusted one.  I have made the mistake of skipping this step before and learned my lesson from it. Sadly, I confirmed it yesterday by going to Barnes & Noble and seeing it in person in the February issue of Harper’s Bazaar. I don’t even know where to begin to describe my rage and disgust over this image.

But let’s start with this. There is a picture of me taken about two weeks before I was committed to a mental hospital for my anorexia that looks like this picture. Less glamorous, for sure, but the knobby knees, reed thin thighs and sunken eyes are the same. I was about 95 pounds and 5′ 9″ to put this model in perspective (if I could find it I would post it).  I am not saying definitively that she is sick, nor am I “thin shaming” anyone, but I AM suggesting that to portray this image as glamorous and high fashion is brutally irresponsible and dangerous. Yes, there are members of society who are naturally very thin or drastically underweight due to illness or factors beyond their control (like the fabulously inspiring Lizzie Velasquez), but that is not what is being presented here.  This is the kind of image that could (and will) be circulated on the bevy of pro-anorexia sites out there as an example of extreme thinness promoted and accepted by the fashion industry.  Even more heartbreaking is the idea that young girls everywhere, otherwise healthy girls, may see this during a time in their life when they are easily influenced and allow it to make them feel badly about their bodies. It could ignite a dark place inside one of them, a thought, a behavior, a pattern, that could spiral into something devastating. Just as it was ignited in me.

No, one ad will not cause someone to be anorexic, but our society’s  ideals and attitudes towards what is a beautiful body could.  No one could pinpoint what exactly it was that caused me to fall ill- I was never abused, neglected, bullied or tormented I was just like any other young girl.  But one day I started comparing myself to others and thought maybe I should lose some weight. And then some more. And then even more. Until the prospect of having to eat a single strawberry would reduce me to hysterical sobs of fear. And this was during a time when models like this were not part of mainstream media- in fact, today the girls I admired on TV in the early 90′s would probably be considered “chubby”.  If we allow these kinds of images to become acceptable I am scared of what the future holds for young women- our daughters, nieces and grandchildren. THIS IS NOT OKAY.

Years ago I went to talk by the Council of Fashion Designers of America at Mass General’s Eating Disorders Program in which some famous designers made all sorts of claims about committing to using healthier models in an attempt to promote a more wholesome body image and protect the young models who feel forced to be a certain kind of drastically thin in order to get work.  Well, it seems those statements and assertions were not ones they took seriously.  This image had to go through SO MANY hands to be approved to run in Bazaar- the fashion house, their marketing department, the model management, PR people, the photographer, producers, magazine editors and publishers. This model was lit purposely to exaggerate her breathtaking thinness. The fact that this was PERMITTED to be published is flat out disgusting.  The fact that all these powerful people in the media could look at this and think “Yes, let’s put THIS out into the universe” is baffling.  To be in a women’s magazine is doubly insulting.

For all the progress that the fabulous pro-women ads from Dove and others out there have made, one like this can set us so many steps back.  I have no idea how we can affect change in the fashion industry, but I certainly hope that small efforts to stand up to things like this are a place to start.


ValueFace it… the Internet has eliminated lots of “middlemen.”  When was the last time you used a travel agent? How often do you call your stockbroker?
By consuming “direct” online, not only do you get to pocket middlemen fees; in most cases, it’s much more convenient.
When home search websites started popping up in the late 1990s, “experts” from Inman to newspapers were predicting the demise of the real estate agent. Online discount brokerages like ZipRealty and Redfin offered sizable rebates to consumers as a benefit of online efficiency.
Heck, if homebuyers can find homes for sale on their own and save many tens of thousands of dollars, who needs a real estate agent anyway? This disintermediation would certainly put agents out of business. Wouldn’t it?
Evidently NOT!
Real Estate Agents Here to StayWhile it’s true that the vast majority of today’s homebuyers search online for homes, a record percentage of them continue to use their local real estate agent to close the transaction. Even Redfin and ZipRealty have all but abandoned their commission rebate programs in favor of a more traditional brokerage approach.
The data clearly shows that despite the huge rise in online home search, consumers are using real estate agents in record numbers to close the transaction. Why?
For most people, buying or selling a home is a rare event. On average, people keep their home for seven years. It is simply an unfamiliar process.
There is a large amount of money at stake. If people are at all insecure about their ability to handle the transaction, they will not risk making a mistake with this amount of money on the line.
Real estate is not a commodity. Unlike airline tickets, every deal is different and complicated with many unique emotional and legal factors.
It’s a people business. A well-connected agent makes all the difference in finding that best house or that best buyer.
Agents bring critical local market knowledge. What’s going on in the area? What specific factors most affect value? What’s the agent on the other side of the transaction like to deal with?
Access to Pre-MLS and Non-MLS (pocket) listings. Well-connected agents, such as Top Agent Network members, have special access to properties for sale and motivated buyers that can’t be found elsewhere.
Cutting out the agent may not save the consumer any money. Both the buyer and seller expect to pocket the commission savings. Plus, did you pay too much for the house, or sell too low?
Difficult for buyers and sellers to deal directly with each other. It’s an emotional process. Egos and tempers can flare. Good agents buffer and negotiate issues that buyers and sellers mess up when dealing directly.
The skilled, experienced, well-connected value-adding real estate agent is not going away any time soon! And whereas Inman once predicted the demise of the real estate agent, it is now publishing works of contributors who tend to agree.
If you are a buyer or seller who tried to “go it alone,” what was your experience? Agents, what are your thoughts?
I believe the biggest issues buyers have going it alone is the very real fear that they won’t get their deposit money back if the deal falls apart.  Buyers looking to spend 1.5 million suddenly get nervous when they have to write the $1000.00 good faith check.  


Newton, MA Top Realtors, Sothebys Realty, Newton, MA.



For housing, it was a tale of two halves in 2013. During the first half, unusually low supplies of homes and low rates spurred bidding wars, pushing prices up sharply. During the second half, the frenzy cooled amid a sudden spike in interest rates. While more markets are now reporting increases in inventory, the number of homes for sale remains quite low.

The bull case for 2014 goes something like this: those low inventories will support rising prices.

Below-average levels of household formation, the argument goes, must ultimately pick up, boosting construction. Mortgage rates, while higher, are still historically low. Credit standards will stop getting tighter, and might loosen as home prices rise. Finally, mortgage delinquencies are dropping. While some states still have elevated foreclosure inventories, the worst of the distressed-housing problem is in the rear-view mirror.

The bear case, meanwhile, says that the recovery is a mirage built on the back of the Federal Reserve’s stimulus that has done little more than inflate asset values, including home prices.

Record low interest rates, the argument goes, unleashed demand from both borrowers and all-cash investors seeking returns on something—anything—with a decent return. These investors built large rental-home companies that remain untested at scale. How can first-time buyers take the baton from investors at a time when prices are up almost 20% in two years and when interest rates are rising?

Other problems loom: Mortgage rates could jump, choking off housing demand and curbing new construction that remains mired at 50-year lows. Investors could unload their homes if the rental-home thing doesn’t pan out. And don’t look for much help from mortgage lenders that face a cocktail of new regulations, which could keep credit standards stiff.

So which view will carry the year? Here are five wild cards to watch this year:


    Prices have risen largely because of shortages of homes for sale. While there is growing evidence that inventories hit bottom last year and that some markets are moving back in favor of buyers, the number of homes for sale remains relatively tight still. Foreclosure-related listings have plunged, and traditional buyers haven’t flocked to list homes—at least not yet. New construction, meanwhile, won’t be back to normal historical levels for years. The consensus view is that price growth continues at a somewhat slower pace, but that consensus view could be wrong—for the third year in a row—if there aren’t more homes for sale.


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    While home prices have recovered strongly, new construction activity hasn’t. Part of this may have to do with the fact that home prices are still too low to justify construction, particularly given land, labor, and materials costs. For smaller builders, credit may also be harder to come by. Some economists say new-home demand could remain muted because many move-up buyers don’t have enough equity to “trade up” to that new home. Key issues to watch here: What happens to household formation, and do builders begin to throttle back price gains in favor of selling more homes in 2014?


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    Lenders could begin to ease certain “overlays”—or additional credit and documentation checks—that have been imposed over the past few years. Mortgage insurance companies are getting more comfortable insuring loans with down payments of just 5%. So don’t be surprised if, at the margins, it gets a little easier to get a mortgage—especially if you have lots of money in the bank.

    Even if it gets easier to get a loan—by no means a given—borrowing costs and fees could rise. Banks also face new mortgage regulations that could keep most of them cautious. Borrowers with more volatile or harder-to-document incomes, including the self-employed or those who make a lot of money on commissions, bonuses, or tips, could continue to face tough sledding.

    Bloomberg News

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    A handful of institutional investors have purchased tens of thousands of homes that are being rented out. These homes tend to be concentrated in a few of the regions that have been hardest-hit by foreclosures over the past five years. Investor purchases played key roles in stabilizing prices, especially because investors were wolfing up homes at a time when supplies were already dwindling. A key question now is what happens after the initial rush to invest subsides. More lenders and investors are extending debt financing to some of these property owners, which should help boost returns. Can owners perfect the expense management associated with maintaining and leasing tens of thousands of individual homes?

    Can owners perfect the expense management associated with maintaining and leasing tens of thousands of individual homes?


    Rising home prices are a double-edged sword, especially in pricier coastal markets such as San Francisco and Los Angeles. On the one hand, rising prices are giving many homeowners equity in their homes again—an extremely positive development to the extent it means these borrowers are less at risk of foreclosure.

    But price inflation is making housing less affordable. This will be a bigger problem if cash buyers retreat from the market in 2014 and/or if interest rates rise in a meaningful way. Consider: In Los Angeles, prices have jumped by nearly 30% in the past two years, to a median of $448,900 in the third quarter. Assuming a 20% down payment, the monthly payment of principal and interest on the median priced home has jumped from $1,255 in the third quarter of 2011 to $1,823 in 2013—a 45% increase.


The Impact of Increasing Mortgage Rates on Prices And Why I Dont’ Agree

Sotheby’s Real Estate Newton, MA.  Top Brokers Newton, MA.

The following article is a reprint from the KCM Crew (Keeping Current Matters).  I respect their content and attitudes but I just can’t agree with this way of thinking right here in Greater Boston.  Real estate is local and our home prices are significantly higher than most areas of the country.  A 1% increase in interest rates translates to about 10.75% reduction in borrowing power.  The average price in Newton is now over 1 million dollars.  The COST of a 1 million dollar house will now cost 10.75% more per month.  If a buyer were to put down 20% on a million dollar house and  mortgage 800,000 at 4.5% on 30 year fixed rate a monthly payment would be $4,053.00 at 5.5% the payment goes to $4,542.00.  Now I know many/most are saying who cares if someone can afford an $800,000.00 mortgage, they can afford an extra 500.00 a month or $6,000.00 per year.  Believe me, most people borrow to their upper limits.  The new lending guidelines state that all of your monthly expenses: mortgage, taxes, car payments, insurance, student loans can not exceed 43% of your GROSS income.  Something will have to give…..

The Impact of Increasing Mortgage Rates on Prices

by  on January 14, 2014 in Interest Rates


blue interest ratesMany pundits are warning that there will be a drop in real estate values because mortgage rates are beginning to increase. The logic makes sense. However, history shows that increasing rates have not negatively impacted home values in the past.

Four times over the last 30 years mortgage interest rates have dramatically increased. Here is the impact the increases had on home values at the time:


Mortgage Rate

Home Values

May ‘83 – July ‘84

12.63 – 14.67

+ 6.6%

March – Oct ‘87

9.04 – 11.26

+ 5.2%

Oct ’93 – Dec ‘94

6.83 – 9.2

+ 1.2%

April ’99 -May 2000

6.92 – 8.52

+ 10.9%

Perhaps the impact of increasing rates on future home prices won’t be as dramatic as some are predicting.

Newton Homeowner’s : The Time To Sell Is Now – We Have No Inventory

Sotheby’s Newton, MA.  West Newton Hill, Newton’s Top Brokers

Sellers the housing market in Newton is in dire need of listings.  We currently have only 53 single family homes for sale.  That number is so low it’s ridiculous!  A normal market in Newton is roughly 175-200 homes across all price ranges.  During the recession we had closer to 400 homes for sale.  Contrary to what most sellers think, April is not the best time to sell your house, January and February are the best months.  Why?  Because the inventory is usually lower and buyers are out in full force.  This is a supply and demand business.  Are you waiting for interest rates to rise?  It is so important to remember that a 1% rise is rates decreases purchasing power by 10.75%.  How many of you don’t think interest rates will rise this year?

I have attached a chart below with what is currently on the market, what has gone under agreement and what has sold in the past month.  Anything under 1 million dollars is flying off the market, the 1 million to 1.5 million is HOT and we can pretty much forget about the over 3 million market for the time being.  More on that market in another post.

Please, if you have though about selling your home, do it.  Get those rooms cleared out, put a fresh coat of paint in drab rooms, keep de-cluttering, but just do it!

Price Range Number of
Avg. Days
on Market
Under $50,000 - -
$50,000 – $99,999 - -
$100,000 – $149,999 - -
$150,000 – $199,999 - - -
$200,000 – $249,999 - -
$250,000 – $299,999 - -
$300,000 – $349,999 - -
$350,000 – $399,999 - -
$400,000 – $449,999 1 2
$450,000 – $499,999 1 20
$500,000 – $599,999 2 113
$600,000 – $699,999 2 30
$700,000 – $799,999 3 45
$800,000 – $899,999 8 75
$900,000 – $999,999 2 30
$1,000,000 – $1,499,999 10 97
$1,500,000 – $1,999,999 7 260
$2,000,000 – $2,499,999 3 201
$2,500,000 – $2,999,999 8 164
$3,000,000 – $3,999,999 4 137
$4,000,000 – $4,999,999 2 90
$5,000,000 – $9,999,999 - -
Over $10,000,000 - - -
Total Properties 53 Avg. 123  
Lowest Price: $429,000
Median Price: $1,399,000
Highest Price: $4,500,000
Average Price: $1,749,364
Total Market Volume: $92,716,300


$300,000 – $349,999 -
$350,000 – $399,999 -
$400,000 – $449,999 -
$450,000 – $499,999 1
$500,000 – $599,999 2
$600,000 – $699,999 1
$700,000 – $799,999 2
$800,000 – $899,999 1
$900,000 – $999,999 4
$1,000,000 – $1,499,999 3
$1,500,000 – $1,999,999 2
$2,000,000 – $2,499,999 1
$2,500,000 – $2,999,999 1
$3,000,000 – $3,999,999 -
$4,000,000 – $4,999,999 -
$5,000,000 – $9,999,999 -
Over $10,000,000 -
Total Properties 18        


Price Range # of
Avg. Days
on Market
Sale Price
$0 – $49,999 0 0 $0
$50,000 – $99,999 0 0 $0
$100,000 – $149,999 0 0 $0
$150,000 – $199,999 0 0 $0
$200,000 – $249,999 0 0 $0
$250,000 – $299,999 0 0 $0
$300,000 – $349,999 0 0 $0
$350,000 – $399,999 2 64 $370,000
$400,000 – $449,999 1 5 $420,000
$450,000 – $499,999 3 64 $491,500
$500,000 – $599,999 6 46 $553,000
$600,000 – $699,999 2 67 $657,650
$700,000 – $799,999 4 24 $753,750
$800,000 – $899,999 3 51 $839,667
$900,000 – $999,999 7 27 $934,429
$1,000,000 – $1,499,999 12 24 $1,209,167
$1,500,000 – $1,999,999 8 88 $1,786,750
$2,000,000 – $2,499,999 1 256 $2,310,000
$2,500,000 – $2,999,999 1 29 $2,650,000
$3,000,000 – $3,999,999 0 0 $0
$4,000,000 – $4,999,999 0 0 $0
$5,000,000 – $9,999,999 0 0 $0
$10,000,000 – $99,999,999 0
 TOTAL PROPERTIES                                      104

Housing Outlook 2014: 10 Predictions From The Experts

Newton Sotheby’s, Newton, MA. homes for sale,


Housing Outlook 2014: 10 Predictions From The Experts

By Erin Carlyle – Forbes – 12/23/13

In 2013, the housing recovery was a welcome bright spot for the economy: prices were shooting up, fewer homeowners were underwater, and builder confidence was finally on the upswing. It’s looking like 2014 should be another good year for housing–mostly. Here are ten things housing experts expect to see in 2014:

1. More homes will be available
Short supply drove rapid price increases at the beginning of 2013, but watch for that to change next year. notes that the inventory (homes available for purchase) shortage began to soften in February. New construction and rising prices should bring more homes, both new and old, on to the market in 2014, helping inventory return to traditional levels.

2. Mortgage rates will rise
Online real estate database Zillow predicts rates will hit 5% by the end of 2014–well up from the 4′s and 3′s of late, but still well within normal levels. New Fed Reserve chief Janet Yellen is expected to continue Ben Bernanke’s policy of keeping mortgage rates low by buying blocks of mortgage-backed securities, but the Fed’s bond-buying taper could push rates higher. “While this will make homes more expensive to finance – the monthly payment on a $200,000 loan will rise by roughly $160 – it’s important to remember that mortgage rates in the 5 percent range are still very low,” says Erin Lantz, Zillow’s director of mortgages. Really. “Prior to the Federal Reserve’s 2008 decision to buy $85 billion in debt per month, the 36-year average was 9.2%, and never below 5.8%,” notes Glen Kelman, CEO of Redfin.


Zillow: National mortgage rates, 30-year, fixed-rate

3. Mortgages will be easier to get 
“The silver lining to rising interest rates is that getting a loan will be easier,” says Lantz. “Rising rates means lenders’ refinance business will dwindle, forcing them to compete for buyers by potentially loosening their lending standards.”

4. Home prices will rise 3%
Redfin and Zillow are predicting that home prices will rise between 3% and 5% in 2014. For comparison’s sake, 2013 saw jumps of 5% nationally, with increases of more than 20% in some hot spots. “These gains, while beneficial in many ways, were also unsustainable and well above historic norms for healthy, balanced markets,” says Dr. Stan Humphries, Zillow’s chief economist. “This year, home value gains will slow down significantly because of higher mortgage rates, more expensive home prices, and more supply created by fewer underwater homeowners and more new construction.”

5. Fewer homeowners will be underwater
Rising prices helped 2.5 million homeowners with underwater mortgages regain positive equity status during the second quarter of 2013, according to By Q3, a CoreLogic report found that about 6.4 million homes were still in negative equity at the end of Q3. Watch for that number to shrink in 2014.


6. Affordability will decline
Despite the slower pace of price increases, home affordability will decline as mortgage rates rise. The real culprit is income levels, which aren’t keeping pace with the increases in housing costs. In 2013, the National Association of Realtors’ Home Affordability Index dropped to a five-year low. Experts predict the trend will continue in 2014.

7. Ownership will decline
In 2014, Zillow predicts, homeownership rates will fall below 65 percent for the first time since 1995. “The housing bubble was fueled by easy lending standards and irrational expectations of home value appreciation, but it put a historically high number of American households – seven out of ten – in a home, if only temporarily,” says Humphries. “That homeownership level proved unsustainable and during the housing recession and recovery the homeownership rate has floated back down to a more normal level, and we expect it to break 65% for the first time since the mid-1990s.” Watch also for adult children to move out of their parents’ homes, starting their own households and further decreasing the overall homeownership rate.

8. Americans will move
Rising prices, a reversal of underwater mortgages, and easier credit will free Americans up to move. But next time they’ll choose smaller homes in more affordable locations. Redfin is predicting that new lending regulations–which make it harder to borrow more–will send Americans to less expensive hubs like Portland, Denver, Austin, Richmond, Dallas, Houston, San Antonio, Atlanta, and Raleigh.

9. Foreclosures will fade
The once booming foreclosure market has slowed, with September 2013 the 36th straight month of year-over-year decreases in foreclosure activity, nearly 33% down from the end of 2012. The declines should continue with the overall housing recovery.


10. Home buying process less crazed
During the bust, investors bought as many as one out of every five homes in America, according to Redfin. The perfect storm of increased inventory, higher prices, and fewer foreclosures means that investors are stepping out of the buying market, giving way for regular folks. Add to that the loosening credit rules, and the housing buy market begins to look more normal. “All in all, more inventory, less competition from investors, and more mortgage credit should all make the buying process less frenzied than in 2013,” says Kolko of Trulia

If you know anyone who is looking to buy, sell or refinance a home, please forward their name and telephone number to us. We will happily provide the same high level of service that we have provided to you. The greatest compliment you could possibly give us is the referral of your friends and family.



2013 Newton Real Estate Market Re-Cap

Newton’s Top Brokers, Sotheby’s Newton, MA.  Newton, MA. Real Estate

Wishing all of you a very healthy, happy and prosperous 2014!
I’m hoping many of you find the following information informative.  2013 was a very good year for homes priced under 1.5, an ok year for homes priced between 1.5 and 2.5 and terrible over 3 million dollars.  I know most of you aren’t going to shed any tears for that pocket of sellers but those sales do affect the market in general.  It  has been my experience that most real estate markets are trickle down, meaning the high-end propels the less expensive homes.  The past year has been the opposite, the lower priced  started strong and ended stronger but we never seemed to see a surge in the very high-end here.  If we can’t break through a particular price barrier we will have a stagnant market.   We did however, have a sale priced over 6 million!  Please note that when I say lower priced I do not mean low-end.  We often forget in this wealthy community that buying a $500,000 home takes an enormous sum of money!  No one without a good job or an inheritance can afford a home priced at a 1/2 million dollars.  I’ll save my thoughts on that to post on another day.

2014 is anybody’s guess…we have oh so very little inventory, which will push prices up, but it also makes buyers sit on the sidelines waiting for new homes to come on the market.  Sellers if you are thinking about selling, act now, call me….mortgage rates will rise!  A 1% increase in rates reduces borrowing power by 10%!  Here are the numbers:  Yes,that is correct – a median house price of $911,000 and an average of $1,085,00!

Total Sold Market Statistics
Report Run: 1/6/2014 11:00:02 AM
Property Type(s): SF
Status: SLD
Start Date: 01/01/2013
End Date: 12/31/2013
Towns: Newton
$0 – $49,999








$50,000 – $99,999




$100,000 – $149,999




$150,000 – $199,999




$200,000 – $249,999




$250,000 – $299,999




$300,000 – $349,999




$350,000 – $399,999




$400,000 – $449,999




$450,000 – $499,999




$500,000 – $599,999




$600,000 – $699,999




$700,000 – $799,999




$800,000 – $899,999




$900,000 – $999,999




$1,000,000 – $1,499,999




$1,500,000 – $1,999,999




$2,000,000 – $2,499,999




$2,500,000 – $2,999,999




$3,000,000 – $3,999,999




$4,000,000 – $4,999,999




$5,000,000 – $9,999,999




$10,000,000 – $99,999,999




 Total Properties:  624

Average Price: $1,085,000

Median Price:    $911,500

Highest Price: $6,300,000

Lowest Price:    $226,100

Dollar Volume:  $677,355,760





Knowing Your Options For The Fixer Uppers

Sotheby‘s Newton, MA.  real estate,  West Newton Hill real estate

I am happy to introduce Preston Sandlin as guest blogger today. Preston is the owner and founder of Home Inspection Carolina and has over 15 years experience in the inspection industry. – The KCM Crew

Couple PaintingThe fixer-upper properties on the market will give you more purchasing power when shopping for a new home. Bargains can be found in homes that have been foreclosed, seized by the government or just fallen out of repair due to homeowner neglect. While it is true that you will save thousands of dollars on these homes that will need lots of work, there are hidden costs that buyers fail to consider. Ask yourself if it’s worth it and know your options.

Know exactly what you are getting into

Don’t underestimate the cost of renovations and repairs. A home inspection will let you know the fundamental repairs and maintenance that must be done to the home. Without a home inspector, you may end up over paying for the fixer-upper anyway.

The inspector will evaluate any problems with the interior and appliances, roofing, heating and cooling system, plumbing, electrical wiring, insulation and ventilation, and the structural foundation, exterior faults and more. Fixer-uppers may have a lot of problems with these parts of the home, and a realtor can downplay the extent of the issues because of their stake in the outcome of the sale. A home inspector is worth hiring to get an unbiased perspective and uncover problems you can’t see yourself.

You ultimately have to decide how much money you are actually saving by buying the fixer-upper once you add in the costs. Once you spend all the money on repairs to make it habitable, will you still be satisfied with your choice? Will you hire someone to do the repairs or do you have the patience and skill to do it yourself?

Consider a FHA insured HUD 203(K)

It is worth checking to see if you qualify for a program known as HUD 203(k). It allows the buyer to purchase a fixer-upper with a FHA guaranteed loan, and the best part is that it protects you from extra costs if the “fixing” part costs more than estimated. You must submit a comprehensive list of repairs with corresponding cost estimates with your application, so you will need to get a home inspector, have the cost of labor and repair determined, and prepare your detailed plan for accomplishing it all for the FHA and your creditor.


The ideal fixer-upper would consist of superficial revamps rather than major appliance, ventilation, or structural repairs. Minor renovations would be painting inside and out, installing ceiling fans and light fixtures, and replacing carpets, windows, or doors.

Be patient

Fixing up the house might take longer than you originally planned, but it can be well worth it. Remodeling and minor repairs will most likely take longer than you expect, especially if you are haven’t dealt with this before. You chose to save money with a fixer-upper. It takes time to give a house the proper care that will result in a comfortable house to call your home. Do your homework and make an informed decision.


When Will Mortgage Rates Hit 5%?

Sotheby‘s Newton, MA.  Sotheby’s Boston

blue interest ratesThe big question for homebuyers is when interest rates will begin to rise to the 5% mark. The effect of a rise in mortgage rates could be a dramatic increase in the monthly mortgage payment when purchasing a home. In an article last week, HousingWire quoted two different sources regarding this issue.

Most experts are projecting that rates will rise when the Fed decides to taper the purchase of bonds which has acted as a stimulus to the housing market by keeping long term mortgage rates at historic lows.

In the article, Sterne Agee’s managing director and chief economist Lindsey Piegza pointed out:

“Federal Reserve officials said they might reduce their monthly bond buying program from $85 billion ‘in coming months’ as the economy continues to improve.”

The article also quotes Frank Nothaft, chief economist with Freddie Mac:

“By the end of 2014, rates will probably approach and perhaps touch 5%. A reason we see the uptick in rates is that I do think some point the Federal Reserve will start to taper and scale back its very active purchase on long-term Treasuries and mortgage-backed securities.”

Rates will hit 5% sometime in 2014. It might be better to buy sooner rather than later.


From White Picket to Upcycled Pallet Fences: Millennials and Housing

Newton, MA. Realtor, Newton, MA. home buying and selling, top Newton, MA. agent

I want to share this very interesting article.  I too am concerned that current 20 years olds will not have the financial ability to purchase a home while they are in their thirties.



Millennials Moving InCritiques and defenses about Millennials abound. However, I think an overlooked aspect of the kerfuffle over Generation Y is the question “Why?” Although it is great to spur the generation on to great heights, it is crucial we understand some of the hurdles they are facing, economically and socially in order to anticipate how the market will have to change and adjust to accommodate a new generation’s capabilities and values.

Educational Debt & Credit

No big newsflash here: millennials are facing unprecedented levels of debt, between the various recessions, housing bubbles, and explosion of educational debt. New legislation in the works is attempting to help set up a more stable higher education financing system as well as relieve the staggering debt loads. Although debt forgiveness is the big buzzword these days, most students will still face shouldering a majority of their debt. Fortunately for the economic outlook, the legislation focuses on creating more income-based repayment plans that won’t put millennials on the street. However, the big question that remains is how will this affect their credit?

Public vs. Private Sector

With the specter of the 2008 housing bubble burst looming over everyone’s head, the situation is no longer about whether or not millennials are willing to take on more debt or have the income to cover minimum payments, it is about if lenders are willing to take on the risk. President Obama has rolled out plans that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will be gradually diminished, leaving the private sector to provide the backbone of risk management. With first-time buyers being edged out of the market due to new credit requirements, we could see a short-term slowdown in home-buying.


Surprisingly, the instability recently exhibited by the U.S. government shutdown and continued clamor over the debt ceiling may actually work in the market’s advantage. Millennials, wary of being overly reliant on vacillating government promises, might become increasingly inclined to use their savvy to explore home equity loans and carefully consider newly-revised reverse mortgages as part of their retirement plans. Having front-row seating for the recent economic meltdowns, the newest generation will be more inclined to do their research and not bite off more than they can chew, meaning they might, actually, leave a positive legacy for the housing industry.

American Dream

As the Keeping Current Matters crew mentioned, homeownership is still an important idea to many Americans.  If the government and the private sector work together to slowly adjust the system and increase stability, which is already the direction we are driving in, we can expect to see homeownership continue to increase with this generation.  However, we should expect to hold the memory of Desi and Lucy fondly in our hearts, and leave them there as the face of home buyers will be forever changed.

It is a pervasive misconception that millennials are thoroughly disenchanted with the concept of settling down. The revitalized home-making movement—as evidenced on social media platforms like Pinterest–within more progressive millennial circles would indicate that although it might take a bit longer for the birds to return from their explorations, they will inevitably nest.

Furthermore, the creativity and frugality of Generation Y will provide them fresh incentives to invest in housing as home ownership opens up new avenues hosting friends and international travelers. As this new group of home-buyers realizes that a mortgage doesn’t necessarily clip their wings, we should be able to anticipate a new, stronger, and invigorated market of responsible borrowers. These iPod-wearing, tweeting, bicycle-riding youngsters just might be the market we’ve been looking for.



Newton Real Estate Inventory Today and a Year Ago

Top Newton Broker  Sotheby’s Real Estate Newton

Here is a glimpse of the real estate market today vs. a year ago.  We have an extreme shortage of homes priced under 1.5 million.  The high-end (above 2.5) is still extremely slow.  Now is the time to sell.  The increase in Average sale price is being driven by homes priced under 1.5 million.  Remember this is a supply and demand business low inventory means higher prices, increasing inventory will lead to stable prices.

Report Run: 11/1/2013 10:13:45 AM
Property Type(s): SF, CC
Snapshot Date: 11/1/2012
Towns: Newton
 11/1/2012  11/1/2013
Price Range Number of
Avg. Days
on Market
vs. today Number of
Avg. Days
on Market
Under $50,000 - - - -
$50,000 – $99,999 - - - -
$100,000 – $149,999 - - - -
$150,000 – $199,999 - - - -
$200,000 – $249,999 3 267 3 133
$250,000 – $299,999 4 169 1 49
$300,000 – $349,999 3 47 3 25
$350,000 – $399,999 14 151 6 22
$400,000 – $449,999 12 71 3 23
$450,000 – $499,999 6 61 10 28
$500,000 – $599,999 13 72 14 30
$600,000 – $699,999 19 95 6 59
$700,000 – $799,999 17 92 5 56
$800,000 – $899,999 10 44 17 43
$900,000 – $999,999 17 82 7 46
$1,000,000 – $1,499,999 35 90 26 82
$1,500,000 – $1,999,999 21 126 27 159
$2,000,000 – $2,499,999 13 158 16 120
$2,500,000 – $2,999,999 5 323 8 91
$3,000,000 – $3,999,999 8 79 9 190
$4,000,000 – $4,999,999 1 892 5 85
$5,000,000 – $9,999,999 - - 1 7
Over $10,000,000 - - - -
Total Properties 201 Avg. 110 167 Avg. 86
Lowest Price: $215,000
Median Price: $899,000
Highest Price: $4,249,000
Average Price: $1,152,092
Total Market Volume: $231,570,605
Lowest Price: $229,000
Median Price: $1,250,000
Highest Price: $5,000,000
Average Price: $1,507,361
Total Market Volume: $251,729,313

Call Margaret Szerlip 617-921-6860  or e-mail to find out what your property is worth today.


Newton, MA. homes for sale, Best Newton Broker, West Newton Hill, Luxury Homes

I don’t know what was wrong with me all summer but I had to inclination to blog, perhaps because the real estate market was quite slow this summer.  It HAS picked up but not all segments of the market have been busy.  In fact, the above 3 million market is dead.  Not a single sale since April….

I promise to fill you in on what is going on in detail in my next posts.

3 Financial Reasons to Buy a Home NOW!

Sotheby‘s Realty, Newton, MA.  Top Agents for Buyers and Sellers, Newton, MA.



Posted: 27 Mar 2013 04:00 AM PDT


This week, we are going to look at the three financial reasons to buy a home now instead of waiting: prices are rising, interest rates are increasing and rents are skyrocketing. – The KCM Crew

 Rents Are Skyrocketing

money evaporating houseWhether you own or rent, you will have a monthly housing expense. The question is how that expense will change in the future. When you purchase a home, for the most part, you lock-in that monthly housing expense for the length of the mortgage you take (15 or 30 years for example). When you rent a home, your housing expense is impacted by movements in the supply and demand for rental properties.

Historically, residential rental rates increase by 3.2% on an annual basis. However, in the current housing environment, there is an increasing demand for residential rental properties. This increase in demand has dramatically impacted rates. Zillow, in their most recent report, revealed that rental rates in the U.S. increased by 4.5% over the last twelve months. Other studies have projected rental rate increases of 4-5% over the next few years.

The only way to have control of your housing expense is to buy.

But Isn’t Buying Much More Expensive Than Renting?

Not right now! As a matter of fact, with prices down and mortgage rates at historic lows, it is LESS EXPENSIVE to buy than rent in most areas. In a recent reportTrulia revealed it is cheaper to buy than rent in ALL of America’s largest regions.

According to Jed Kolko, Trulia’s Chief Economist:

“People who didn’t buy a home last year may have missed the bottom of the market, but they haven’t completely missed the boat. Buying remains cheaper than renting in all 100 large metros. Even buyers who can’t get today’s lowest mortgage rates will still find that buying makes more financial sense than renting in nearly all local markets.”

However, Kolko went on to say that this opportunity may soon disappear:

“Although buying a home is still cheaper than renting, the gap is closing. In 2013, home prices should rise faster than rents, and mortgage rates are likely to rise in the next year as the economy improves. By next year, buying could be more expensive than renting in some housing markets, even for people with the best credit.”

Again, the only way to lock-in your monthly housing expense is to take that decision out of the hands of a landlord by owning. With both prices and interest rates set to increase, the best time to buy is right now.


Top 10 Remodeling Projects

Sotheby’s Newton, MA, top buyer and seller agent in Newton, MA.


Top 10 Remodeling Projects [INFOGRAPHIC]

by THE KCM CREW on MARCH 22, 2013 · 0 COMMENTS

  • Top 10 Remodeling Projects

Original InfoGraphic by California Association of Realtors (CAR)

Real Estate is a Simple Business: Supply and Demand

Sotheby‘s Realty, Newton, MA.  Newton, MA real estate,  Listing and Buyer Agent, Newton, MA

Future House Values? Simple as Supply and Demand

Posted: 04 Mar 2013 04:09 AM PST


Months SupplyFor some time now, we have attempted to shed light on the fact that pricing in today’s real estate market, as it is in the markets for every other saleable item, will be determined by the concept of ‘supply and demand’.

According to

“The relationship between supply and demand determines the price of a commodity. This relationship is thought to be the driving force in a free market.”

In real estate, supply and demand is represented as the current month’s supply of homes for sale (the number of homes for sale divided by the number of homes sold in the previous month).

While there is no steadfast rule that will apply to pricing in every category of housing, here is a great guideline:

  • 1-4 months supply creates a sellers’ market where there are not enough homes to satisfy buyer demand. Appreciation is guaranteed.
  • 5-6 months supply creates a balanced market. Historically home values appreciate at a rate a little greater than inflation.
  • 7-8 months supply creates a buyers’ market where the number of homes for sale exceeds the demand. Depreciation follows.

What is happening across the country right now?

In most parts of the country, home values are rising. This is for two reasons:

  1. According to NAR’s latest Existing Homes Sales Report, raw unsold inventory is at the lowest level since December 1999 when there were 1.71 million homes on the market.
  2. According to this month’s Pending Sales Report from NAR, houses going into contract reached levels last seen in April 2010 which was the month the Home Buyers’ Tax Credit expired.

This has resulted in a 4.2-month supply at the current sales pace which is the lowest housing supply since April 2005 when it was also 4.2 months.

Based on the table above, we can see that the supply/demand ratio is leaning toward a sellers’ market where prices will appreciate. That has created positive movement in housing values in most parts of the country.

When your real estate professional discusses home values, he/she should be prepared to show what the supply/demand ratio for homes similar to yours is in your area.


Is There a Window of Opportunity for Sellers Right Now?

Sothebys, Newton, MA.  Listing and Buying Agent, Newton, MA.  Top Agent Newton MA.

Is There a Window of Opportunity for Sellers Right Now? YES YES YES there is an opportunity here in Newton, MA!!!

by THE KCM CREW on FEBRUARY 25, 2013

  • 3081280_thumbnailOne of the most interesting revelations of the latest National Association of Realtors (NAR) Existing Home Sales Report is the shortage of housing inventory being reported throughout much of the country. At the same time, buyer demand is dramatically up over last year.  Here are some key points:
  • Total housing inventory at the end of January fell 4.9 percent to 1.74 million existing homes available for sale, which represents a 4.2-month supply at the current sales pace.
  • This represents the lowest housing supply since April 2005 when it was also 4.2 months.
  • Listed inventory is 25.3 percent below a year ago when there was a 6.2-month supply.
  • Raw unsold inventory is at the lowest level since December 1999 when there were 1.71 million homes on the market.

What Does This Mean if You Are Selling a Home?

The price of anything is determined by supply and demand. According to NAR’s report, inventory is at its lowest level since the real estate boom eight years ago. At the same time, demand is up. Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, reveals:

“Buyer traffic is continuing to pick up, while seller traffic is holding steady. In fact, buyer traffic is 40 percent above a year ago, so there is plenty of demand butinsufficient inventory to improve sales more strongly. We’ve transitioned into a seller’s market in much of the country.”

Does that mean you should sell your house now? Or should you wait to see if prices increase? Nobody knows for sure. However, some feel that there may be a pent-up inventory about to come to the market because, as prices increase, it will free up some sellers who have been locked in a negative equity situation (where the house is worth less than the remaining mortgage).

The Zillow Negative Equity Forecast predicts:

“The negative equity rate among all homeowners with a mortgage will fall to at least 25.5 percent by the fourth quarter of 2013, freeing more than 999,000 additional homeowners nationwide.”

If these homes come to market, the supply/demand ratio will begin to balance out and lessen the opportunity a seller now has.

Calculated Risk, a well respected blog which analyzes the economy:

“With the low level of inventory, both in absolute numbers and as a month-of-supply, and the recent price increases in some areas, it would seem likely more inventory would come on the market.”

Lawrence Yun agrees:

“We expect a seasonal rise of inventory this spring.”

Yet, Yun is quick to add:

“It may be insufficient to avoid more frequent incidences of multiple bidding and faster-than-normal price growth.”

Probably the most interesting comment on this comes from Calculated Risk:

“I need to think about this…This will be an interesting issue all year.”

This is an issue that is important to every seller. Make sure that you are working with a true professional that is dedicated to keeping current on what matters in the real estate market so he/she may provide you with the best advice possible as this situation becomes clearer.



5 Reasons You Should Buy a Home NOW!

Newton, MA. real estate, Top Agent Newton, MA,  Newton Centre  Sotheby’s Real  Estate, Newton, MA.


HomeMany potential buyers are waiting until they can be 100% sure the real estate market has fully recovered before making the move to purchase a home. Here are five reasons why waiting might not make sense any longer:

1.) Prices Are on the Rise

The latest Case Shiller Home Price Index revealed that home prices have appreciated 5.5% over the last year. This is occurring across the nation as increases were reported in 19 of 20 metros. The Home Price Expectation Survey, which polls a distinguished panel of over 100 economists, investment strategists, and housing market analysts, calls for continued appreciation over the next five years.

2.) Mortgage Interest Rates Are Expected to Increase

The Mortgage Bankers Association has predicted that, after reaching record lows in 2012, mortgage rates will creep up slowly in 2013 to 4.4%. Rates have already increased by 2/10 of a point (3.32 to 3.53) in the last two months.

3.) Rents Are Continuing to Skyrocket

Recently, Zillow  reported that rents in the U.S. increased by 4.2% over the last year. Increases were 5% or more in many major metropolitan areas including Chicago, Boston, San Francisco, Detroit, Baltimore, Denver, San Jose and Charlotte.

4.) New Mortgage Regulations Will Be Announced Later This Year

Six regulators, including the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and the Securities and Exchange Commission, are currently drafting the new Qualified Residential Mortgage (QRM) rule. They will decide on two major requirements for buyers looking to qualify for a mortgage: minimum down payment and minimum FICO score. Many experts believe the new rules will be more stringent than current requirements.

 5.) Timelines Will Be Shorter

The dramatic increase in transactions caused many challenges to the process of buying or selling a home in 2012. We waited for inspections, dealt with last minute appraisals and prayed that the bank didn’t ask for ‘just one more piece of paper’ before issuing a commitment on the mortgage. There are fewer transactions this time of year. That means that timetables on each component of the home buying process will be friendlier for those involved in transactions over the next 90 days.

These are five good reasons why you should consider buying a home today instead of waiting.


Top Brokers, Newton, MA.  Newton, MA. real estate, Buyer and Listing Broker, Sotheby’s, Newton, MA


I know I sound like a broken record….. wouldn’t you rather sell your house with little competition?

  • Existing Home SupplyHome sales dropped last month, but not because demand was lacking. There are fewer homes for sale than at any time in the last 11 years.

According to the National Association of REALTORS®, Existing Home Sales for December 2012 fell to a seasonally-adjusted, annualized rate of 4.94 million homes from November’s tally of 4.99 million existing homes.

The Existing Home Sales report is based on the number of closings for previously-owned, single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops. It’s estimated that existing homes account for 85 to 90 percent of all home sales nationwide.

2012 was a good year for housing. Sales of existing homes climbed 12.8 percent as compared to the December 2011 tally, which may be a strong indicator of future mortgage originations and short-term demand for home-related goods.

Based on preliminary sales figures, the number of home resales in 2012 grew 9.2 percent to 4.65 million homes as compared to 4.26 million homes sold during 2011. This marks the highest number of home resales sold in 5 years — a time which predates the recession of last decade.

In addition, the median price of a homes resale read $180,800 in December, which is a 11.5 percent increase as compared to December 2011, and the tenth consecutive month of year-over-year median price growth.

Not since November 2005 has the median home resale price climbed this quickly

Furthermore, the supply of existing homes fell to 4.4 months in December, down 0.4 months from November. At the current pace of sales, the national home resale inventory will be sold by June. This is an important statistic because home supply of less than 6.0-months is thought to represent a “seller’s market”.

There are also just 1.82 million existing homes for sale nationwide — the fewest since January 2001, and a 22 percent reduction from one year ago. With buyer demand high and home inventory down, home prices are likely to rise in Boston are and nationwide throughout 2013.  


Six Reasons Housing Inventory Keeps Declining

Sotheby’s Newton, MA.  Top Realtors, Newton, MA.  Newton, MA. real estate


A post I want to share with you….

By Nick Timiraos

The number of homes for sale fell to 1.82 million at the end of 2012, an 8.5% drop from November.

Home sales in December dropped by 1% from November, the National Association of Realtors reported on Tuesday, but still stood nearly 13% above the levels of one year ago. That means home sales have risen from the year-ago month for 18 straight months.

For 2012 as a whole, sales were up 9% to 4.65 million units, the highest annual total since 2007.

Prices, meanwhile, are picking up because the number of homes for sale continues to drop despite the sales volume gains. The number of homes for sale fell to 1.82 million at the end of 2012, an 8.5% drop from November and a 21.6% decline from one year earlier, the Realtors’ group said on Tuesday.

Here’s a breakdown of why inventory has continued to drop this year:

Many homeowners are underwater: More than 10 million homeowners owe more on their mortgage than their homes are worth, according to CoreLogic Inc. CLGX -1.45% That pencils out to around 22% of homeowners with a mortgage, or 15% of all homeowners (since not every homeowner has a mortgage). Underwater owners aren’t likely to sell unless they need to move due to changing life (marriage, divorce) or financial circumstances, and they’ll take a hit on their credit for pursuing a short sale, where the bank allows the home to sell for less than the amount owed.Data from CoreLogic show that inventory has been the most constrained in housing markets where there’s the largest concentration of underwater borrowers.

Others don’t have enough equity to “trade up”: Another 10 million homeowners have less than 20% equity in their current residence, meaning they can’t easily “trade up” to their next house. Traditionally, homeowners have relied on home equity to make the down payment on their next home, and to pay their real-estate agent to sell their current home and buy their next one. These “under-equitied” homeowners—meaning they don’t have enough equity to make a move to a more expensive home—have added to the drag on inventory.

Everyone wants to buy at the bottom, but few want to sell: Even those people who do have plenty of home equity are likely reluctant to sell if they think prices will be higher tomorrow. Would you sell your largest asset today if you thought it might be worth 5% more next year? This helps explain why markets such as Denver and Dallas, which didn’t have huge housing bubbles and thus had smaller shares of underwater borrowers, have also seen double-digit inventory declines.

More purchases from investors of all stripes: From the big institutional investors that have been grabbing all the headlines, to the mom-and-pop landlords that have traditionally played a much larger role renting out homes, investors have increasingly bought homes that can be rented out rather than flipped and resold for quick profits. This is further keeping inventory off the market in two ways: homes that are bought at courthouse foreclosure auctions never show up on multiple-listing services when they’re initially sold. They’re also held out of the for-sale pool because they’re being rented out.

Banks have been slower at foreclosing: Banks and other companies that process delinquent mortgages have had trouble proving that they’ve followed state law in taking title to homes ever since the “robo-signing” scandal surfaced in late 2010, and they’ve also had to meet a host of new state and federal rules governing loan modificationsand foreclosures from settlements spawned by the robo-scandal. Banks have also become better about approving short sales and loan modifications, which has curbed the flow of foreclosed properties onto the market.

Builders have been putting up fewer homes: Housing starts were severely depressed from 2009 through 2011 and have only recently rebounded off of those low levels. Consequently, there’s been much less new home inventory being added to the market at a time when demand (boosted by increases in household formation) is picking up. If more homes are held off the market—for any of the five reasons above—you can bet that builders will move in to fill the void.

Many of these factors that have been dragging down inventory aren’t signs of “normal” or “healthy” housing markets—but then, we probably haven’t had a normal market for around a decade now. If anything, declining inventory shows that normal supply-and-demand dynamics are returning, which is an important step towards putting a floor under home prices and giving markets time to get back to health.


Where Have All the Home Sellers Gone?

Sotheby’s, Newton, MA.  Top Realtor Newton, MA.  Newton, MA.  real estate

January 10, 2013

There is a problem in the real estate market in the western suburbs of Boston and an easy problem to fix!  There is a supreme shortage of inventory.  As of today there are only 80 single family homes for sale and 15 of those have an accepted offer, leaving 65 active listings.  A normal market in Newton would consist of approximately 200 homes.  There are many buyers out there scrambling for houses.

Seller’s, if you are waiting for the Spring market, wait no longer– the Spring market starts in mid January in Newton and Brookline and a bit later in Wellesley.  Don’t wait until everyone else puts their house on the market, this is a supply and demand business. The timing to sell doesn’t get any better, extremely low inventory, banks are lending, buyers are desperate.  This is a supply and demand business, don’t waste this opportunity.

Call me at 617-921-6860 or e-mail

West Newton Hill 2012 Real Estate Recap

Sothebys, Newton, MA.  Top Realtor Newton, MA.  Newton, MA, Real Estate  West Newton Hill

January 2013

My best wishes for a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year.    I believe this is going to be a breakout year for the Newton housing market, if inventory increases.    As of today, January 9th  there are only 82 single-family homes for sale in all of Newton across all price ranges.  I know many of you have been waiting on the sidelines for the right time to sell and the time is now.  Sellers, the Spring market begins in late January not April.  Inventory is the lowest I have ever seen, mortgage rates are at historic lows AND banks are willing to lend.  I expect to see 2-3% gains, (possibly 5% for very special homes) by the end of 2013.  I do not expect to see 7-10% gains in value per year in the near future.

The first half of 2012 was very busy; houses were selling in record time at very good list to sale price ratios.  The momentum did not carry into the fall market as expected mainly because inventory levels were so low that there just was not anything to buy.  We have averted the fiscal cliff and survived the presidential election.

West Newton Hill had 42 homes sell in 2012 versus 25 in 2011, a considerable increase! Prices also rose along with the sales to an average sale price of $1,657,000 from $1,458,000 in 2011.  While this is good news, these numbers need further dissecting.  The market was undeniably better, but not 12% better.  What was different in 2012?  12 homes sold for 2 million or more in 2012 versus 3 in 2011.  The 2 million+ homes had been the most difficult to sell in the past 5 years and we finally broke through that barrier in 2012.  If you look at home prices on a square footage basis, it tells a different story, the price per square foot was $405.00 in 2011 opposed to $388.00 in 2012.  New construction is the most sought after home in the 2 million dollar and above range.  To break through the 3.5 million range the house needs to be new or like new on a large level lot with outstanding craftsmanship and many amenities.

Please call me with any real estate needs you have.   My formula for pricing houses is spot on.  I can be reached via phone, e-mail or text at 617-921-6860 or

Address                      Sale Price             SQ.FTs

64 Perkins St                  $785,700             388.00

386 Chestnut                  $800,000              442.00

24 Mt. Vernon Te              $808,425             328.00

12 Westfield Rd               $936,582              364.00

159 Mt. Vernon St             $950,000             404.00

17 Wauwinet Rd               $1,030,000          385.00

9 Wauwinet Rd                  $1,054,000          449.00

1663 Commonwealth         $1,060,000          364.00

120 Forest Ave                   $1,097,000          348.00

29 Westfield Rd.                $1,099,000           335.00

32 Leonard                         $1,111,500           320.00

1159 Commonwealth          $1,122,500          317.00

39 Valentine Park                $1,146,400          325.00

54 Ellis Road                        $1,192,500          312.91

128 Highland St                     $1,200,000         355.66

386 Highland Street               $1,220,000         404.00

58 Valentine Park                   $1,250,000         384.00

219 Fuller Street                     $1,260,000         337.00

381 Highland Street                $1,268,000         335.00

64 Myrtle St                             $1,325.000          310.00

36 Howland Rd.                       $1,360,000         485.00

50 Putnam St                          $1,366,840         312.71

318 Prince St.                         $1,420,000         282.00

33 Berkeley St                         $1,458,000         389.00

70 Crestwood Rd                    $1,510,000         400.53

9 Somerset Rd                       $1,549,000          371.00

80 Dartmouth St                      $1,550,000         646.00

146 Forest St                           $1,610,000         365.00

212 Chestnut St                       $1,790,000         380.00

224 Chestnut St                        $1,950,000         433.00

40 Wykeham Rd                        $2,000,000       400.00

212 Temple St    *                     $2,172,500        305.00

79  Hillside Ave                         $2,175,000          395.00

212 Temple St    *                     $2,300,000         323.00

315 Highland Ave                      $2,550,000         418.00

5 Crocker Circle                        $2,550,000         495.00

49 Shaw St                                $2,680,000         388.00

170 Otis St                                 $2,990,000         471.00

165 Highland  Street                   $3,585,000         618.00

18 Temple St                              $3,999,000         629.00

26 Dartmouth St                          $4,200,000         671.79

42: Sold      Average List:  $1,742,000        Average Sale:  $1,657,000   Average Living Area SQ FT: 4,177

Average Days on Market:  98   Average Sale Price per SQ FT: $388.00

*home sold twice: first for 2,300,000 and then 2,172,500