Month: June 2014

5 Reasons People Want a House in Newton

5 Reasons People Want a House in Newton

Margaret Szerlip June 11, 2014


Home buyers are searching high and low for an affordable home here in Newton.  There is only so much room and plenty of demand.  I see a need for a tastefully renovated smaller homes.  I have a hunch many older folks would like to sell their big old Victorian and move into a remodeled ranch.  Unfortunately, builders want to raze those homes and build a big monstrosity, which is why we have a glut of over 2 million dollar homes currently on the market.

1.  Newton is a Commuter’s Dream Location

Whether you work in Boston or New Hampshire Newton is beyond convenient to the Mass Pike and 128.  You can bike to Cambridge or take a bus.  While the Green Line of the T is slow; it is reliable, safe and clean.  You can get the express bus to Boston in either West Newton or Newton Corner.  If the commuter rail is more your style — no problem there are two stops in Newton.  Getting to Logan Airport is now a breeze, I have people text me when they land and I leave for the airport then.  No more circling the airport.

2.  The Local Schools are Very Well Respected

Any person with kids is justifiably concerned with the schools, and Newton is nationally recognized as a quality school system.  There are plenty of private schools around and of course multiple colleges right here in Newton

3.  The Residents are Educated and Employment is Diverse

Newton is blessed with an educated population and close proximity to institutions known to pay well.  Hospitals, pharmaceuticals, universities, financial firms, law firms, technology firms are all located either in Newton or a short drive away.

4. Newton is a Walkable Town

Milleniums want the freedom to walk many places and we cannot underestimate that choice when they are buying a home. They want to walk to coffee shops, restaurants, parks and most importantly to work.  If they can’t walk to work easy access to public transportation is a must.

5.  Strong Sense of Community

There are always things going on in Newton.  5K races, children’s activities including Art’s in the Park, dance studios, ceramics, painting, music classses along with a plethora of children’s sports.  The Y and the JCC have programs for both young and old alike.  The Senior Center is always busy with interesting speakers and activities.  The Newton Community education offers interesting classes at very reasonable rates.  Each village has something to offer and the community likes to get involved.

We are fortunate to be near an amazing network of hospitals and healthcare, professional and college athletic teams, outdoor activities on the Charles River and all the culture and history you could want from Boston to Concord.




There has been a lot written about how buying a home is less expensive than renting one in most parts of the country. Rents are skyrocketing and homes are still at great prices. These two situations are also causing some sellers to consider renting their home instead of selling it. After all, a homeowner can get great rental income now and perhaps wait until house values increase even further before selling.

This logic makes sense in some cases. There is a strong belief that residential real estate is a great investment right now. However, if you have no desire to actually become an educated investor in this sector, you may be headed for more trouble than you were looking for.

Before renting your home, you should answer the following questions to make sure this is the right course of action for you and your family. The most important question is your motivation for renting.
Do you wish to rent your house now because you think it will be worth more in a few years? Is that realistic? If you over paid for a house a few years ago but the house is in great condition and the floor plan works for today’s buyer, than rent it. You will probably make some money after you cover the monthly expenses. Do you want to rent for an emotional reason? Maybe you just want to try out a new lifestyle such as living in the city or maybe you’re not sure if the suburbs are what you want. If you can afford this option than by all means go for it. This option works best if you can afford to buy a new home without selling your current home. Why? If you are considering renting because you NEED a certain amount of money and are hoping a rising market will add value, you must be honest with yourself. Is this home going to rise in value ENOUGH to fulfill and fund the next dream? Why isn’t your current house selling? Other than the price the most obvious reason homes are selling for less money is an obsolete floor plan. A functionally obsolete home is described as:

An original house in an older part of town that has two bedrooms and one bathroom could be considered functionally obsolete if all the other original homes in the area are torn down over the years and replaced with five bedroom, three bathroom houses. Because the old house does not have the features that most modern buyers want, it is said to be functionally obsolete, even if it is still in good condition and is perfectly livable.

As another example, many home entertainment centers became functionally obsolete as flat-panel televisions replaced bulky analog televisions. The old entertainment centers were too deep to accommodate the new, thin televisions.

If your floor plan is obsolete today it will be obsolete next year also! If you wait 20 years and we have a new generation of buyers who will ask why did those people take down all those walls, maybe they will want your house. Every house is salable …. The question is always at what price. A wise person once said to me that price melts away objections and that is the truth. When a house is not up to a buyer’s standards they mentally deduct from the price of the house so they can make those changes, if they are up to making changes. Buyers’s pay a premium for a renovated house while a house that seems antiquated will sell at a discount. As brokers, we often ask ourselves why sellers spent so much money renovating and they didn’t fix the floor plan. Sellers when you are looking for a new home, honestly evaluate what you are looking for. Do you want to do work? Do you desire the open floor plan? Do you want a dedicated home office? Do you want a living room and a dining room and a family room? So if you decide to rent ask yourself these questions.

What happens when the tenant says they can’t afford to pay the rent this month because of more pressing obligations? (This happens most often during holiday season and back-to-school time when families with children have extra expenses).

Because of the economy, many homeowners cannot make their mortgage payment. What percentage of tenants do you think cannot afford to pay their rent?

Have you interviewed experienced eviction attorneys in case a challenge does arise?

Have you talked to your insurance company about a possible increase in premiums as liability is greater in a non-owner occupied home?

Will you allow pets? Cats? Dogs? How big a dog?

How will you actually collect the rent? By mail? In person?

Repairs are part of being a landlord. Who will take tenant calls when necessary repairs come up?

Do you have a list of craftspeople readily available to handle these repairs?

How often will you do a physical inspection of the property?

Will you alert your current neighbors that you are renting the house?

Bottom Line

Again, renting out residential real estate is historically a great investment. However, it is not without its challenges. Make sure you have decided to rent the house because you want to be an investor, not because you are hoping to get a few extra dollars by postponing a sale.


The Dreaded Best and Final Offers…

The Dreaded Best and Final Offers, Newton, MA.


The definition of a Best and Final offer in real estate is a buyer’s last and highest offer.  A best and final is typical in response to a bidding war.  A seller who has received several offers will usually ask top bidders to submit a best and final offer.  This type of offer induces STRESS for the buyer and their agent.  As an agent I will do an analysis of the property to determine fair market value.  In a bidding war fair market value is determined by the person with the most potential to pay for the property and actually close the deal.  The buyer with the highest offer does not necessarily mean the best offer.  In the past 6 months prices in the under 1 million dollar market have sky-rocketed to the point of crazy.  When I have a buyer in a bidding war situation and there are no comps to justify an inflated price I kind of cringe.  What usually happens is a review of the comps and I speak frankly about the possibility of overpaying.  My advice is to offer a number that means you  don’t care if you don’t get the house for only $1.00 more, either because you can’t afford to pay more or you can’t justify paying more.  That number must come from the buyer…Agents cannot change a buyers finances or their view of a dream home. As a listing agent it makes me sort of smile.  My job as a listing agent is to close the deal at the highest price.  The “close the deal” is key.

I recently listed a house below 1 million dollars, the sellers did everything we told them, de-cluttered, put items in storage, cleared out baby things, went away for the weekend with their two very young children so we could accommodate any showings.   We had an open house on Saturday and Sunday and many private showings before or after the open house along with Friday and Monday showings.  Offers were due by 4 on Monday.  Realtors always know when the price is right…you phone rings — constantly! We had 100’s of prospective buyers view the home.  Monday afternoon rolled around and we had 6 offers, I actually expected more but I should note the amount of buyer fatigue we heard.  “I only have 20% to put down, I was out-bid on 3 other properties, I can’t waive my mortgage contingency, should I give up my inspection contingency?”  No never do that. We reviewed the offers and presented them to the seller: basically you lay out the offers on the dining room table.  This is the lowest, the middle and the highest.  But wait the highest offer doesn’t have great financing but the next highest offer has incredible financing.  It is easy to eliminate the low offers, not so easy to eliminate the fab financing offers.  Closing dates, dates for inspections all come into play.  In this particular case the highest offer also had the best financing.  Lots of money to put down and a considerable offer amount above the next competing bid.  Shortly after we left we had the unpleasant job of calling the agents or buyers themselves to relay the bad news.  Buyers who make offers without an agent typically make dumb offers.  Crazy high offers with 500 contingencies, low offers that would have made no sense 5 years ago and of course the ASK…”I am not using an agent so the seller only has to pay 1/2 the commission.”  UGH, that’s a post for another day.

We did not go back for the best and final in this case.  The offer was more than the seller had dreamed of, the financing was perfect, the buyers were seasoned and seemed reasonable while viewing the house.  We felt that these were the right buyers.  If we went back for best and final there is risk of annoying the buyer who stepped up to the plate from the beginning and feels he is not treated fairly and decides to walk. Or you can have a buyer increase their offer in the heat of the moment only to wake up with buyer’s remorse.  They may regret their decision and then try to “renegotiate” the price based on some little inspection issue.  In the end you want the seller to go to the closing table.  Most often the seller is purchasing another home and the timing of this closing must coincide with the closing of the new home.

Buyers — put your best foot forward, DON’T panic, and let the chips fall where they may.  There will be another house for you.  Sellers –DON’T get greedy, the most successful deals happen when each party leaves a little something on the table for the other guy.

Sotheby’s International Realty Brand Announces Relationship with Bloomberg


Sotheby’s International Realty Brand Announces Relationship with Bloomberg

Forwarded by Margaret Szerlip
MADISON, N.J. (June 3, 2014) – Sotheby’s International Realty Affiliates LLC today announced the launch of a content marketing relationship with Bloomberg, a global business and financial information and news leader, designed to showcase the Sotheby’s International Realty® network’s listings to readers.

As part of the relationship, in 2014 the Sotheby’s International Realty brand’s content units will appear in exclusive positions throughout’s property section on its Luxury Property channel. Bloomberg created the program exclusively for the Sotheby’s International Realty brand, which will showcase its network’s inventory of properties through a location comparison, new to market spotlight, search widget and lifestyle feature.

“The Sotheby’s International Realty brand’s target consumer is a direct fit with Bloomberg’s core audience, which is made up of today’s affluent leaders,” said Wendy Purvey, chief marketing officer, Sotheby’s International Realty Affiliates LLC. “Bloomberg’s global readership is made up of those consumers searching for a second or third home that will meet their lifestyle needs, and who recognize the unique value real estate plays in building wealth.”

“Bloomberg is excited to have the Sotheby’s International Realty brand as a content marketing partner,” said Hugh Wiley, head of strategic account partnerships for Bloomberg Media. “The Sotheby’s International Realty brand content aligns perfectly with the Luxury Property section of’s Luxury Channel. Providing luxury property offerings around the world will appeal to’s audience, which is both affluent and global. This exclusive partnership further extends both the Bloomberg and Sotheby’s International Realty brands into the world of luxury lifestyle.”

The Sotheby’s International Realty network currently has more than 15,000 independent sales associates located in approximately 700 offices in 54 countries and territories worldwide. Sotheby’s International Realty listings are marketed on the global website. In addition to the referral opportunities and widened exposure generated from this source, the network’s brokers and clients benefit from an association with the Sotheby’s auction house and worldwide Sotheby’s International Realty marketing programs. Each office is independently owned and operated.


Mortgage News Key Mortgage Rate Sink To 49-Week Low

Mortgage News 
Key Mortgage Rate Sink To 49-Week Low

By Polyana da Costa –

Mortgage rates defied the odds and edged lower for the fifth consecutive week, even as some economic reports show that the U.S. economy is growing.

The benchmark 30-year fixed-rate mortgage fell to 4.25 percent from 4.29 percent the previous week, according to the national survey of large lenders. One year ago, that rate stood at 3.99 percent. Four weeks ago, it was 4.44 percent. The mortgages in this week’s survey had an average total of 0.34 discount and origination points.

This is the lowest level the 30-year rate has reached since June 19, when it was 4.12 percent.

  • The benchmark 15-year fixed-rate mortgage fell to 3.35 percent from 3.38 percent last week.
  • The benchmark 5/1 adjustable-rate mortgage rose to 3.24 percent from 3.21 percent. The benchmark 30-year fixed-rate jumbo fell to 4.29 percent from 4.31 percent.

Newton MA: Monthly Real Estate Recap

Newton, MA:  Monthly Real Estate Recap   The May Real Estate Recap tells and interesting story but an old story.  Inventory continues to be very low with a total of 151 single family homes listed today, up from 134 May 2nd.  87 homes went under agreement during the month of May and 41 homes were sold.  The breakdown is below but a few things stand out.  Homes priced under 1.5 are selling on average between 100% and 106% of the asking price.  Homes priced between 1.5M and 2M are averaging 92% of the asking price.  The 2.5M – 3M continues to lag the entire market and are selling at roughly 86% of the asking price.  I should note that this is not necessarily from the original listing price.  We are seeing renewed interest in the over 3 million dollar home — but only if it is new construction and in a superb location.  That pretty much sums up the over 2 million market, if it’s new or like new, it sells.  If not re-evaluate your price, your need to sell or willingness to make significant changes to attract buyers.  The old adage of what  you want or need has no bearing on what a buyer will pay.  Bear in mind that 43% of the entire inventory is homes priced over 2M!  I have not seen that in the 11 years in business. In summary we have a shortage of under 1.2M inventory and a steady amount up to 1.5M.  A glut of inventory from 2M to 3M and some activity over 3M.  There is no shortage of buyers out there but they have very specific desires and an unwillingness to comprise and a complete aversion to major renovation.  I believe that this is short-sighted.  Too many buyers are overpaying for average at best houses that look like the Property Brothers from HGTV did a quick renovation.  There is real value if you are willing to do a little work, buy a house and live in it and see what changes work for your family. Unfortunately even my own buyers look at me like I’m nuts.  Oh and if you are addicted to HGTV — you can’t redo a house and furnish it for 70K here in the western suburbs.

Report Run: 6/2/2014 9:25:38 AM Property Type(s): SF Snapshot Date: 5/2/2014 Towns: Newton
 5/2/2014  6/2/2014
Price Range Number of Listings Avg. Days on Market vs. today Number of Listings 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 2 14 1 56
$450,000 – $499,999 1 0
$500,000 – $599,999 2 2 2 19
$600,000 – $699,999 4 18 6 28
$700,000 – $799,999 8 42 8 35
$800,000 – $899,999 10 14 6 46
$900,000 – $999,999 9 30 11 45
$1,000,000 – $1,499,999 28 59 32 37
$1,500,000 – $1,999,999 32 67 31 59
$2,000,000 – $2,499,999 14 85 24 82
$2,500,000 – $2,999,999 10 76 9 80
$3,000,000 – $3,999,999 9 58 14 87
$4,000,000 – $4,999,999 3 79 3 99
$5,000,000 – $9,999,999 2 34 4 44
Over $10,000,000
Total Properties 134 Avg. 55 151 Avg. 58
Lowest Price: $439,000
Median Price: $1,599,000
Highest Price: $7,500,000
Average Price: $1,817,576
Total Market Volume: $243,555,199
Lowest Price: $449,000
Median Price: $1,695,000
Highest Price: $7,500,000
Average Price: $1,938,932
Total Market Volume: $292,778,797


Report Run: 6/2/2014 9:28:10 AM Property Type(s): SF Start Date: 5/2/2014 End Date: 6/2/2014 Towns: Newton
Went Pending Current Status
Price Range # of Listings # 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 1 1
$400,000 – $449,999 2 1 1
$450,000 – $499,999 2 2
$500,000 – $599,999 3 2 1
$600,000 – $699,999 10 6 3 1
$700,000 – $799,999 12 10 2
$800,000 – $899,999 11 10 1
$900,000 – $999,999 6 3 2 1
$1,000,000 – $1,499,999 23 20 3
$1,500,000 – $1,999,999 9 9
$2,000,000 – $2,499,999 5 2 3
$2,500,000 – $2,999,999 1 1
$3,000,000 – $3,999,999 1 1
$4,000,000 – $4,999,999 1 1
$5,000,000 – $9,999,999
Over $10,000,000
Total Properties 87 66 15 0 6
Lowest Price: $399,000 Median Price: $995,000
Highest Price: $4,000,000 Average Price: $1,188,421
Total Market Volume: $103,392,700


Report Run: 6/2/2014 9:30:53 AM Property Type(s): SF Status: SLD Start Date: 5/2/2014 End Date: 6/2/2014 Towns: Newton
Price Range # of Listings Avg. Days on Market Average Sale Price Average List Price SP:LP Ratio Average Orig Price SP:OP Ratio
$0 – $49,999 0 0 $0 $0 0 $0 0
$50,000 – $99,999 0 0 $0 $0 0 $0 0
$100,000 – $149,999 0 0 $0 $0 0 $0 0
$150,000 – $199,999 0 0 $0 $0 0 $0 0
$200,000 – $249,999 0 0 $0 $0 0 $0 0
$250,000 – $299,999 0 0 $0 $0 0 $0 0
$300,000 – $349,999 0 0 $0 $0 0 $0 0
$350,000 – $399,999 0 0 $0 $0 0 $0 0
$400,000 – $449,999 1 107 $425,000 $499,900 85 $559,000 76
$450,000 – $499,999 0 0 $0 $0 0 $0 0
$500,000 – $599,999 3 17 $552,000 $525,667 105 $525,667 105
$600,000 – $699,999 3 15 $630,667 $594,333 106 $594,333 106
$700,000 – $799,999 2 15 $723,750 $682,000 106 $682,000 106
$800,000 – $899,999 6 17 $845,917 $817,317 104 $817,317 104
$900,000 – $999,999 7 22 $943,286 $930,714 102 $930,714 102
$1,000,000 – $1,499,999 12 21 $1,204,354 $1,195,908 101 $1,208,408 100
$1,500,000 – $1,999,999 4 99 $1,693,375 $1,828,250 93 $1,837,250 92
$2,000,000 – $2,499,999 1 66 $2,050,000 $2,199,999 93 $2,275,000 90
$2,500,000 – $2,999,999 1 258 $2,915,000 $2,999,000 97 $3,400,000 86
$3,000,000 – $3,999,999 1 1 $3,350,000 $3,395,000 99 $3,395,000 99
$4,000,000 – $4,999,999 0 0 $0 $0 0 $0 0
$5,000,000 – $9,999,999 0 0 $0 $0 0 $0 0
$10,000,000 – $99,999,999 0 0 $0 $0 0 $0 0
Total Properties 41 Avg. 36 $1,137,555 $1,143,919 101 $1,161,507 100
Lowest Price: $425,000 Median Price: $970,000
Highest Price: $3,350,000 Average Price: $1,137,555
Total Market Volume: $46,639,750