Month: July 2014

Buying a Home? You Don’t Need to Do It Alone


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

 

Buying a Home? You Don’t Need to Do It Alone

Posted: 30 Jul 2014 04:00 AM PDT Another great topic from my friends at  KCM CREW

Buying a Home? You Don’t Need to Do It Alone | Keeping Current Matters

Last week, Discover Home Loans released an interesting survey which revealed how prepared home buyers are for the actual mortgage process. The survey reported that 94 percent of prospective buyers believe they are making a good investment decision if they buy a home. The survey also explained that 66 percent of buyers reach out to real estate agents to help determine whether buying a certain home would be a good investment. However, there is less certainty regarding the mortgage process.

Most buyers overwhelmed

The majority of potential buyers are actually overwhelmed with the plethora of information available about the home financing process.  Here are some interesting highlights from the report:

  • Nearly 66% feel overwhelmed with the amount of information available
  • 76% of those under the age of 30 feel overwhelmed
  • 76% of first time buyers feel the same way
  • 54% of those buyers who have previously owned also were overwhelmed
  • 59% of buyers turn to mortgage bankers to help evaluate mortgage terms and comparing offers
  • 49% of buyers turn to real estate agents to help evaluate mortgage terms and comparing offers

There is help available…use it!

Cameron Findlay, chief economist at Discover Home Loans, gives great advice:

“The industry is becoming more transparent in an effort to help homebuyers become informed about changes that may affect their process. The sheer amount of information can lead to confusion and stress. Those looking to purchase should work closely with their lender and realtor to make sure they are comfortable with mortgage terms and understand the impact a loan will have on their finances.”

Bottom Line

The purchasing of a home can put great pressure on a family. Reach out to the qualified mortgage and real estate professionals in your market for assistance throughout the process.

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The Tear Down Conundrum


The Tear Down Conundrum

Newton, MA.  Realtor  Sotheby’s Newton, MA  July 28, 2014

for sale sign

 

 

Last week I had the unfortunate experience of attending a Newton Historic meeting.  A client purchased a house on the south side of Newton.  The house is an average home built in 1959 in a modern style.  By today’s standard the house doesn’t really work.  The bedrooms and baths are very small and closet space is lacking.  The kitchen is a small box with the original appliances.  The oven is sooo cute but has the capacity of an easy bake oven.  The yard is very large and flat and the lot size is well above average for Newton.  The client brought her contractor to the house and the contractor said it would actually cost more money to renovate and expand than tear the house down and build new.  The couple was undecided if they wanted to tackle a new house design and build but decided we should start the process in case that was the route they wanted to take.

We asked the seller to apply for a demolition permit to speed the process along.  Any structure that is more than 50 years old requires a historic review.  Often times this is just a formality.  The staff member pulls the building jacket and digs around to find the history of the house and the neighborhood.  The applicant must bring pictures of the exterior of the house from all angles and the surrounding properties.  After reviewing the pictures, considering the findings presented and listening to the neighbors object to every request, someone on the commission makes a motion, someone else seconds and the commission votes.  The choices are Preferably NOT Preserved or Preferably Preserved.  Not preferably preserved gives the owner the green light to proceed with demolition.  Preferably preserved comes with a one year delay in tearing the home down or in special cases an 18 month delay.  After one year, the owner can tear the house down at will!  As far as I can tell most people in the audience were not aware that once the owner waited out the year they could build ANYTHING as long as it met with zoning guidelines.

Personally, I am not advocating for more or less leniency regarding teardowns.  I was appalled at the rudeness and lack of respect 2 members of the commission displayed.  I did get the sense that these two members had little regard for what was brought forth and had already made up their minds.  What I do know is that every neighborhood changes and evolves.  I am sickened by some of the ugly cookie cutter homes that builders put up with no thought to the lot or neighborhood.  Nevertheless, people do buy these homes and I do not think we should be legislating taste.

I am in complete agreement with the zoning changes implemented in 2011 to prevent monstrosities from being built on tiny lots.  I am perplexed why some permits are granted and some are not.  I get the feeling neighbors get upset that their neighborhood is changing and go to these meeting to fight for the status quo.  I understand they are afraid that the new owner will build a hideous house and cause a disruption on their street.  What I would like to see more of, is neighbors working with neighbors to create a home that brings a 21st century vibe while the new construction improves the whole neighborhood instead of sticking out like a sore thumb.

There was one particular case at last week’s meeting.  A home was purchased in April and some serious problems came to light, the owners thought it was more prudent to build new than fix the many structural problems they encountered.  The owners hired an architect who designed a more current larger version of the old house but still worked beautifully with the neighborhood.  The neighbors loved the house and were supportive of the demolition.  In another case I was taken aback by neighbors’ objections to a  house being taken down because the foliage was so special.  I kid you not – the discussion dragged on about his “beautiful” foliage which consisted of rose bushes hanging over a chain link fence.  Many neighbors concerns revolved around the fact that there are too many development projects and the feel of their neighborhood is changing.  My answer to that is time does not stand still.  This is the perfect opportunity for the developer/owner to work with the neighbors to design a house that works with the surroundings.  It can be done and has been done…attend a special permitting hearing and you’ll be flabbergasted about your own neighbors’ behavior.  You’ll want to lock up your kids and dog and pray they don’t own a gun!

Yikes!

Yikes!

I am torn between property rights and neighborhood concerns.  Newton is becoming a town that is unaffordable to most people.  Single-family homes under 500,000 no longer exist here.  Areas that were once inhabited by working class immigrant families are being scooped up by upwardly mobile yuppies and new immigrants.  Will this change the fabric of Newton?  It already has, in ways good and not so good.  Like it or not developers are paying more money for homes than end users.  Is it right to deny seniors the opportunity to make the most amount of money possible to supplement their retirement?  Is it right to say yes to one tear down and no to another simply because too many teardowns are occurring and the feel of the neighborhood is changing?  Remember after waiting one year the owner has the right to tear down his home and build the ugliest house possible if it meets zoning and set back guidelines.  I have to believe that we can do more to promote good will among neighbors.  I think the Historic Commission has a responsibility to promote harmony not discord.   Humans don’t like change but we can’t stop progress simply because change is hard.  I’m sure it was incredibly hard when the Mass Pike tore Newton in half.  However, can we deny that the convenience the Mass Pike offers is part of the appeal of Newton?   I look at my neighborhood and I witness incredible change, some I like and some I don’t.  The most valuable thing I have learned in the past 19 years is not to pass judgment until the project is completed.  Most often, once the house is landscaped it fits in.  Maybe we should require a landscaping plan to go along with architectural plans.  There is certainly more we can do to keep moving forward in a thoughtful way without creating so much tension between neighbors.

 

Selling Your House? 5 Reasons to Do It Now!


Newton, MA. real estate, Newton, MA. Top Brokers

Selling Your House? 5 Reasons to Do It Now!

Posted: 21 Jul 2014 04:00 AM PDT

Selling Your House? 5 Reasons to Do It Now! | Keeping Current Matters

Many sellers are still hesitant about putting their house up for sale. Where are prices headed? Where are interest rates headed? Can buyers qualify for a mortgage?  These are all valid questions. However, there are several reasons to sell your home sooner rather than later. Here are five of those reasons.

1. Demand is Strong

There is currently a pent-up demand of purchasers as many home buyers pushed off their search this past winter & early spring because of extreme weather. According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), the number of buyers in the market, which fell off dramatically in December, January and February, has begun to increase again over the last few months. These buyers are ready, willing and able to buy…and are in the market right now!

2. There Is Less Competition Now

Housing supply is still under the historical number of 6 months’ supply. This means that, in many markets, there are not enough homes for sale to satisfy the number of buyers in that market. This is good news for home prices. However, additional inventory is about to come to market.

There is a pent-up desire for many homeowners to move as they were unable to sell over the last few years because of a negative equity situation. Homeowners are now seeing 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. Also, new construction of single-family homes is again beginning to increase. A recent study by Harris Poll revealed that 41% of buyers would prefer to buy a new home while only 21% prefer an existing home (38% had no preference).

The choices buyers have will continue to increase over the next few months. Don’t wait until all this other inventory of homes comes to market before you sell.

3. The Process Will Be Quicker

One of the biggest challenges of the 2014 housing market has been the length of time it takes from contract to closing. Banks are requiring more and more paperwork before approving a mortgage. As the market heats up, banks will be inundated with loan inquiries causing closing timelines to lengthen.  Selling now will make the process quicker and simpler.

4. 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 over 19% from now to 2018. 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 in the low 4’s right now. Rates are projected to be over 5% by the end of next year.

5. It’s Time to Move On with Your Life

Look at the reason you decided to sell in the first place and determine whether it is worth waiting. Is money more important than being with family? Is money more important than your health? Is money more important than having the freedom to go on with your life the way you think you should?

Only you know the answers to the questions above. You have the power to take back control of the situation by putting your home on the market and pricing it so it sells. Perhaps, the time has come for you and your family to move on and start living the life you desire.

That is what is truly important.

_____________________________________________________________________

2014 Summer Seller Guide Available Now! | Keeping Current Matters

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Newton BI MONTHLY Real Estate Recap


Please forgive my summer doldrums, I mistakenly reported the last recap as Bi Weekly instead of Bi Monthly…I do apologize for my summer brain.

The market is moving along at a summer pace but moving nonetheless.   Well priced homes are still being scooped up quickly and that is important as we make the transition into the fall market.  I predict that this fall we will see a significant uptick in properties selling over 2 million dollars….Let’s see if I am right.  Currently there are 144 single family homes on the market, only 38 are under 1 million dollars, 106 over 1 million with 54 of the 106 over 2 million!  29 homes went under agreement in the last 2 weeks and 15 were over 1 million.  There was even one sale over 5 million.  During the last 2 week 27 homes closed and the strongest price range was 1 million to 1.5.

If you are considering a home sale or purchase in the next few months or next spring (spring market starts here in mid January to early February) now is the time to begin the process.  Allow me to show you how to get top dollar and make your move as seamless as possible.

 

 

 

On-Market Snapshot
Report Run: 7/21/2014 11:27:24 AM
Property Type(s): SF
Snapshot Date: 07/21/2014
Towns: Newton
 07/21/2014  7/21/2014
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 1 40 1 40
$400,000 – $449,999 1 5 1 5
$450,000 – $499,999 1 5 1 5
$500,000 – $599,999 4 25 4 25
$600,000 – $699,999 8 47 8 53
$700,000 – $799,999 11 45 11 51
$800,000 – $899,999 4 76 4 83
$900,000 – $999,999 8 57 8 57
$1,000,000 – $1,499,999 24 58 24 58
$1,500,000 – $1,999,999 28 102 28 102
$2,000,000 – $2,499,999 19 106 19 106
$2,500,000 – $2,999,999 18 65 18 65
$3,000,000 – $3,999,999 12 151 12 151
$4,000,000 – $4,999,999 2 100 2 100
$5,000,000 – $9,999,999 3 89 3 89
Over $10,000,000
Total Properties 144 Avg. 80 144 Avg. 81
Lowest Price: $399,000
Median Price: $1,662,500
Highest Price: $6,950,000
Average Price: $1,905,156
Total Market Volume: $274,342,587
Lowest Price: $399,000
Median Price: $1,662,500
Highest Price: $6,950,000
Average Price: $1,905,156
Total Market Volume: $274,342,587

 

UNDER AGREEMENT

Pending Statistics
Report Run: 7/21/2014 11:31:31 AM
Property Type(s): SF
Start Date: 07/07/2014
End Date: 07/21/2014
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
$450,000 – $499,999 2 1 1
$500,000 – $599,999 2 1 1
$600,000 – $699,999 2 2
$700,000 – $799,999 1 1
$800,000 – $899,999 3 2 1
$900,000 – $999,999 3 3
$1,000,000 – $1,499,999 8 6 2
$1,500,000 – $1,999,999 4 1 3
$2,000,000 – $2,499,999 1 1
$2,500,000 – $2,999,999 1 1
$3,000,000 – $3,999,999
$4,000,000 – $4,999,999
$5,000,000 – $9,999,999 1 1
Over $10,000,000
Total Properties 29 19 10 0 0
Lowest Price: $399,000 Median Price: $1,099,000
Highest Price: $7,500,000 Average Price: $1,370,700
Total Market Volume: $39,750,300

 

SOLD

Total Sold Market Statistics
Report Run: 7/21/2014 11:33:17 AM
Property Type(s): SF
Status: SLD
Start Date: 07/07/2014
End Date: 07/21/2014
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 43 $400,000 $409,000 98 $439,000 91
$450,000 – $499,999 0 0 $0 $0 0 $0 0
$500,000 – $599,999 1 6 $550,000 $499,000 110 $499,000 110
$600,000 – $699,999 1 41 $638,000 $655,000 97 $630,000 101
$700,000 – $799,999 6 19 $738,500 $717,133 104 $717,133 104
$800,000 – $899,999 3 45 $823,200 $839,300 98 $872,000 94
$900,000 – $999,999 4 18 $965,750 $942,975 103 $942,975 103
$1,000,000 – $1,499,999 8 23 $1,163,263 $1,156,688 101 $1,165,438 100
$1,500,000 – $1,999,999 1 6 $1,510,000 $1,375,000 110 $1,375,000 110
$2,000,000 – $2,499,999 2 50 $2,165,000 $2,234,500 97 $2,282,500 95
$2,500,000 – $2,999,999 0 0 $0 $0 0 $0 0
$3,000,000 – $3,999,999 0 0 $0 $0 0 $0 0
$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 27 Avg. 26 $1,018,433 $1,009,374 102 $1,019,341 101
Lowest Price: $400,000 Median Price: $960,000
Highest Price: $2,200,000 Average Price: $1,018,433
Total Market Volume: $27,497,700

Massachusetts Unemployment Rate Drops to 5.5%


Massachusetts Unemployment Rate Drops to 5.5%
Newton, MA. Top Realtors,  Newton, MA. Listing Agent
Web Editor-Boston Business Journal
Email  |  Twitter

The Massachusetts unemployment rate dropped 0.1 percentage points to 5.5 percent in June, according to preliminary data released by the state this morning.

The state said Massachusetts added 3,700 jobs in June and the rate is the lowest since August 2008.

By sector:

  • Education and Health Services gained 6,000 (+0.8%) jobs over the month. Over the year, Education and Health Services gained 20,700 (+2.8%) jobs.
  • Trade, Transportation and Utilities added 900 (+0.2%) jobs over the month. Over the year, Trade, Transportation, and Utilities gained 10,000 (+1.8%) jobs.
  • Financial Activities had no change in its jobs level over the month. Over the year, Financial Activities added 1,100 (+0.5%) jobs.
  • Manufacturing lost 1,100 (-0.4%) jobs over the month. Over the year, Manufacturing lost 1,600 (-0.6%) jobs.
  • Construction lost 900 (-0.7%) jobs over the month. Over the year, Construction has added 800 (+0.7%) jobs.
  • Leisure and Hospitality lost 900 (-0.3%) jobs over the month. Over the year, Leisure and Hospitality added 1,900 (+0.6%) jobs.
  • Other Services lost 900 (-0.7%) jobs over the month. Over the year, Other Services jobs are up 2,300 (+1.9%) jobs.
  • Information lost 100 (-0.1%) jobs over the month. Over the year, Information gained 4,300 (+5.0%) jobs.
  • Professional, Scientific and Business Services lost 100 (0.0%) jobs over the month. Over the year, Professional, Scientific and Business Services added 9,800 (+1.9%) jobs.
  • Government added 900 (+0.2%) jobs over the month. Over the year, Government lost 500 (-0.1%) jobs.

Here’s the full release from the state.

Meanwhile, here are some headlines, with links, about companies hiring, or planning to hire soon, in Greater Boston:

Looking back a little farther:

Here are recent companies hiring in Massachusetts:

How Much of a Down Payment Do You Actually Need?


How Much of a Down Payment do You Actually Need?  Newton, Ma.  Top Realtors,

From Our Friends at KCM

How Much of a Down Payment do You Actually Need? | Keeping Current Matters

A recent survey by Zelman & Associates revealed that 38% of those between the ages of 25-29 years old and 42% of those between the ages of 30-34 years old believe that a minimum of 15% is required as a down payment to purchase a home. A recent questionnaire administered byFreddie Mac showed that over 50% of all respondents thought 20% was required as a down payment.

In actually, a purchaser may be able to put down far less.

Freddie Mac, in a recent blog post addressing the issue, confirmed that there is misinformation regarding the amount necessary when determining the down payment for a home purchase:

“Did you know 40 percent of today’s homebuyers using mortgage financing are making down payments that are less than 10 percent? And how about this: since 2010, the number of people putting down less than 10 percent for conventional loans has grown three-fold.  So, not only are low down payment options real, they represent a significant portion of today’s purchases.”

In a separate Executive Perspectives, Christina Boyle, Freddie Mac’s VP and Head of Single-Family Sales & Relationship Management explained further:

  • A person “can get a conforming, conventional mortgage with a down payment of as little as 5 percent (sometimes with as little as 3 percent coming out of their own pockets)”.
  • Qualified borrowers can further reduce the down payment coming out of their own pockets to 3 percent by lining up gifts from family or grants or loans from non-profits or public agencies.

Ms. Boyle goes on to explain:

“Letting more consumers know how down payments are determined could bring more qualified borrowers off the sidelines. Depending on their credit history and other factors, many borrowers can expect to make a down payment of about 5 or 10 percent.”

Bottom Line

If you are saving for either your first home or that perfect move-up dream house, make sure you know all your options. You may be pleasantly surprised.

Earning the Trust of Seniors in Real Estate Transactions


Earning the Trust of Seniors in Real Estate Transactions   Newton, MA.  Real Estate  Sotheby’s Realty Newton, MA.

 

Senior real estate picture

Last year my 87-year-old mother-in-law decided it was time to go to an Independent Living Community.  She had a few falls, which resulted in a broken hip from one fall and broken ribs from another.  We tried to convince her that living alone was no longer a viable option but she would have none of it.  One day I said to her wouldn’t you rather go on your own terms, pick the place you are going to live instead of us deciding?  A few weeks later she decided to take the plunge, but bear in mind this conversation had been ongoing for well over a year.  My husband and I went down to NJ and visited a few places that she knew about.  It’s amazing how you know as soon as you walk in the door!  It also didn’t hurt that her 91-year-old “friend” lived in this complex.

We met with management and we were shown a few apartments.  She already knew which building she wanted to live in and why so that was a huge help.  After the viewings as they were called, (seemed like a term for a wake to me) we were led back to an office.  I want to caution you here – make sure you or your parents understand that this is a hard sell!  My mother–in– law is no slouch but wow, she was flustered.  This is a buy in option Independent Living so the dollars we are talking is not chump change.  My mother-in-law wanted a specific apartment we saw and she was pressured into making a decision right there to secure her apartment.  We told mom that we would go to lunch and talk it over and come back in 2 hours.  Since they had no viewing appointments scheduled we thought it was unlikely that ‘her” apartment would be gone.

Mom took the apartment, has moved in, and loves it!  She says she was sorry she hadn’t done it sooner.  She also says she never could have made the move without us.  Mom is fortunate that she could buy her new place without having to sell her current condo.  Since I have lived in Boston for 20 years I didn’t know a Realtor in Morristown, NJ but the Independent Living Community recommended a Broker for mom.  The Realtor showed up at the appointed time, took as mom said, the nickel tour, and immediately whipped out her measuring laser!  As she was relaying this story to me, I was dumbfounded!  Mom said she was very efficient!  She brought her into the kitchen and handed her a contract to sign before she even did an analysis.   She told her that they would fill the price in later.  I was so relieved she didn’t sign!  When I asked her if she liked the broker she kept saying that she was very efficient and seemed capable.  I pressed further do you trust the broker?  The truth was she didn’t, she said there was something pushy about her as if she just assumed she would be selling the condo.  I told her to sleep on it but that she should interview other brokers.  I made a call to the manager of an office in Morristown, told him where Mom lived and her personality.  He immediately mentioned a Broker: Maggie Sellers.

Maggie went over to meet with mom and they hit it off beautifully.  Maggie understood mom’s needs and most importantly knew the neighborhood, the complex and the town.  Maggie had the analysis in 36 hours, she went over and sat with mom to make sure she understood the comps and how she came up with the price.  It was now 5 days since pushy broker came and mom still didn’t have the analysis.   Mom called pushy and was told she was a busy broker and highly respected by the Independent Living Community and she should be assured that she would get to her, her house would be sold and she should relax!  What?  After 10 days pushy dropped the analysis in the mailbox!  It was considerably higher than Maggie’s analysis.  I had Maggie and pushy e-mail me their comps and tried to figure out the discrepancy.  I have not lived in NJ for 20 years and I never lived in Morristown but it took me two minutes to figure out the problem.  Pushy used comps that weren’t comps for mom’s unit.  She used new construction and single-family homes along with similar condos  There had been enough sales in Mom’s complex in the past 6 months and there were two units currently listed.  Pushy did not understand the market or didn’t think she needed to.  After all she is the recommended broker for the Independent Living community for sellers in the greater Morristown area of which she gives 25% of her commission back to the IL Community not to the seller!

The point is mom felt an immediate connection with Maggie.  Maggie asked  mom if she could involve me in the process.  Maggie had worked with seniors and had an elderly mother of her own.  Maggie cared about her; Maggie had a list of people who bought items that the children didn’t want.  (My basement is loaded with china and silver that she hopes her grandchildren will want.)  Maggie recommended movers, and when an unknown problem was revealed at the inspection, she had trusted people to remedy the problem.

I asked Mom what she liked about Maggie and she was very clear.  While she felt the other agent was competent and successful, she didn’t necessarily think that they were a good fit.  She said she probably would have hired her if I had not gotten involved because she did not know any better.  She had a list of what she liked about Maggie.

  1.  Asked Me what I wanted
  2. She was prepared and did what she said she would do
  3. Treated me like an adult who was still capable of making decisions
  4. She wanted to introduce herself to my kids
  5. Let me make the final decision
  6. Had a list of companies to help facilitate the move and she had already vetted them
  7. Thoroughly explained the process without rushing me to sign paperwork
  8. I LIKED HER

                                                               

As a Realtor serving seniors, it is important that I understand that what makes a great partnership is in the eyes of our clients.  If you are not comfortable, there are many agents out there who will make you comfortable.

 

A good Realtor will make the process about you  and your needs.independt living pictureas