Month: October 2014

Taking the Spooky Out of the Mortgage Process

Posted by Margaret Szerlip 11:00AM EST, Newton, MA.

Taking the Spooky Out of the Mortgage Process [INFOGRAPHIC]Posted: 31 Oct 2014 04:00 AM PDT

Taking the "Spooky" Out of the Mortgage Process | Keeping Current Matters


Buying a Home with as Little as 3-5% Down Payment

Buying a Home with as Little as 3-5% Down Payment

Posted: 30 Oct 2014 2:30PM EST Newton, MA.

Buying a Home for as Little as 3-5% Down | Keeping Current Matters

We have recently reported on the misconception that many buyers have regarding the down payment necessary to purchase a home. Multiple studies reveal that 40-50% of Americans believe you need between 15-20% of a down payment to be eligible to purchase a home. This misconception came about as the government just last year debated new guidelines for residential mortgages because of the housing collapse in 2007. Some were arguing that there should be a minimum of 20% or even 30% down payment on all mortgage loans. However, those standards were never implemented. To counter this misunderstanding, Christina Boyle, Freddie Mac’s VP and Head of Single-Family Sales & Relationship Management, in a recent Executive Perspectives explained that a person “can get a conforming, conventional mortgage with a down payment of as little as 5 percent”.

3% Down Payments Available Soon?

Just last week, Federal Housing Finance Agency Director Mel Watt announced that mortgages requiring only a three percent down payment may soon be available:

“To increase access for creditworthy but lower-wealth borrowers, FHFA is also working with the Enterprises to develop sensible and responsible guidelines for mortgages with loan-to-value ratios between 95 and 97 percent. Through these revised guidelines, we believe that the Enterprises will be able to responsibly serve a targeted segment of creditworthy borrowers with lower-down payment mortgages by taking into account “compensating factors.”

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. Line-Break

14,164 Homes Sold Yesterday! Did Yours?

Posted by Margaret Szerlip / October 28, 2014, Newton, MA.

14,164 Homes Sold Yesterday! Did Yours?

Posted: 28 Oct 2014 04:00 AM PDT

14,164 Homes Sold Yesterday! Did Yours? | Keeping Current Matters

There are some homeowners that have been waiting for months to get a price they hoped for when they originally listed their house for sale. The only thing they might want to consider is… If it hasn’t sold yet this fall, maybe it’s not priced properly.

After all 14,164 houses sold yesterday, 14,164 will sell today and 14,164 will sell tomorrow.


The Tricks or Treats of Credit

Posted by Margaret Szerlip October 28, 2014 Newton, MA.

Top Brokers in Newton, MA.  Sotheby’s Realty Newton, MA.


Many thanks to Amy Slotnick for providing these credit goodies!


Amy Slotnick
Amy Slotnick
Vice President
Fairway Independent Mortgage
(781) 719-4670

The Tricks or Treats of Credit!

Happy Halloween!

Your credit is one of the most important criteria in determining your mortgage eligibility- it impacts the interest rate that will apply to you and, in a worst case scenario, could affect your ability to qualify at all.

Below are some Treats; ways to improve your credit score before you search for a home, and Tricks; things to avoid when qualifying for a home loan.

Treats: Ways to increase your credit score

  • Look for past due balances on a credit report and bring them current.
  • Reduce all outstanding debt to as close to zero as possible-try to keep credit balances at less than 50% of available credit.
  • If married, keep separate credit card accounts-this provides flexibility in transferring some or all balances to one spouse to increase the credit score of another, and allows one spouse to become the sole borrower if necessary.
  • Request an increase in available credit lines on credit cards to reduce debt ration-but only if the credit card company can do this without a hard credit inquiry.
  • Past due and charge offs-pay only those within the last two years. Once it is beyond two years, there will be no impact on your credit score if wiped out, and could even bring it down temporarily.
  • If you have an outstanding debt that has been incorrectly charged to you or has yet to be cleared, notify the creditor and credit bureau with a request that it be deleted. They have an obligation to act within 30 days.

Tricks: When applying for a loan-avoid these pitfalls at all costs!

  • Don’t buy or lease an auto-it will impact your debt to income ratio.
  • Don’t move assets from one bank account to another. It will show as a new deposit a need additional verification, complicating the application process.
  • Don’t change jobs-there may be a probationary period in which income from your new job cannot be considered.
  • Don’t buy new furniture or major appliances-this may increase the amount of debt you are responsible for on a monthly basis and could disqualify you from a loan or cut down on the available funds you will need at closing.
  • Don’t attempt to consolidate bills before speaking with your loan consultant. It may not be necessary to do this.
  • Don’t pack or ship important financial information needed for loan application-obtaining duplicate copies can take weeks and slow down the transaction.

Need help obtaining a credit report? Your loan consultant can help you with this, or you can get one, for free, from any of the 3 main credit reporting agencies:EquifaxExperian, TransUnion

Want to learn more? Click here for information on what goes into a credit score.

As always, we are happy to answer any questions! or 781-719-4664

Here’s hoping your Halloween is all treats!

State of Real Estate in Newton and Brookline, MA.

blog pictures




Posted by Margaret Szerlip October 26, 2014 Newton, MA.

I am asked all the time where I think home prices are headed, what about interest rates.  I usually respond that if I knew for sure I would be a very rich woman.  But I do feel good about the current housing market here in the western suburbs of Boston.  Inventory remains very low, prices are rising but not at the frenzied pace of last spring.  Interest rates are dropping.  Jumbo loans under 4% again!  7/1 Arms are under 3%!  Good stuff  — For the first time in 2 years I also see some real movement in the over 3 million dollar market.  I know most of you don’t care about what happens in the over 3 million dollar market, but I believe it is an important indicator of the overall health of the real estate market.  For the last two years we have been in a trickle up market.  The 500K houses pushed the 750K and they in turn pushed the 1M houses.  For some reason the push up never really got past the 1.5 million price point.  A trickle down real estate market is more broad and sustainable.  What happened last fall and spring in the under 1 million dollar price point was scary.  Houses seemed to be selling  20% higher than 2 years prior while houses over 2 million were sitting on the market.  It was very difficult for contentious brokers to advise their buyer clients.  The truth is you can’t really under price a house because the market will raise it to where it should be.  This fact is indisputable –over pricing has more serious consequences to the seller.  I told my buyer clients that I really couldn’t comp a house to a certain price, that if they really wanted a house they had to pick the price they were willing to pay, but that number was emotional.  One house I listed for $899K  had 9 offers and went 180,00 over asking!

So, I am optimistic about the housing market.  The stock market is taking a hit and when people pull their money out of the market they have to put it somewhere. Many buy a more expensive home.  What I would really like to see is more people buying beautiful older homes and not just new or like new.  Remember, in 10 years your house is neither new or charmingly old.


When looking at future housing values, Home Price Expectation Survey provides a fair assessment. Every quarter, Pulsenomics surveys a nationwide panel of over one hundred economists, real estate experts and investment & market strategists about where prices are headed over the next five years. They then average the projections of all 100+ experts into a single number. Here is what the experts projected in the latest survey:

  • Home values will appreciate by 4% in 2015.
  • The cumulative appreciation will be 19.5% by 2018.
  • Even the experts making up the most bearish quartile of the survey still are projecting a cumulative appreciation of over 11.2% by 2018.

Now is the time to buy or sell a home.


Bi-Monthly Newton, MA. Real Estate Recap

Bi-Monthly Newton, MA. Real Estate Recap  Newton, MA.  Top Brokers, Sotheby’s Newton, MA.

Posted October 24, 2014 by Margaret Szerlip Newton, MA.


The fall market is very busy here in Newton — the reason I have not been posting as often as I’d like.  Current inventory is still below normal.  We have a total of 167 properties for sale vs. 175 3 weeks ago and down from a “normal” 200 homes.  83 homes have gone under contract or have accepted offers in the last 3 weeks!  The hottest segment of the market is homes priced between 1 million to 1.5 million with 17 homes in contract.  9 homes priced over 2 million have also gone under contract in the same time period.  That is very welcome news that the high-end of the market is starting to heat up.  26 homes have closed, again the 1 million to 1.5 million had the highest number of homes close at 9.

Remember the spring market in Newton starts the end of January early February here in Newton.  So if you’re considering a sale call me for an analysis sooner than later.

On-Market Snapshot
Report Run: 10/24/2014 11:41:22 AM
Property Type(s): SF
Snapshot Date: 10/24/2014
Towns: Newton
 10/24/2014  10/24/2014
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
$250,000 – $299,999
$300,000 – $349,999
$350,000 – $399,999
$400,000 – $449,999
$450,000 – $499,999 1 14 1 14
$500,000 – $599,999 5 34 5 34
$600,000 – $699,999 11 34 11 37
$700,000 – $799,999 9 47 9 47
$800,000 – $899,999 9 66 9 70
$900,000 – $999,999 8 61 8 61
$1,000,000 – $1,499,999 34 67 34 67
$1,500,000 – $1,999,999 26 115 26 116
$2,000,000 – $2,499,999 27 114 27 114
$2,500,000 – $2,999,999 21 116 21 116
$3,000,000 – $3,999,999 10 177 10 177
$4,000,000 – $4,999,999 3 84 3 84
$5,000,000 – $9,999,999 3 184 3 184
Over $10,000,000
Total Properties 167 Avg. 92 167 Avg. 93
Lowest Price: $474,900
Median Price: $1,599,000
Highest Price: $6,950,000
Average Price: $1,867,799
Total Market Volume: $311,922,470
Lowest Price: $474,900
Median Price: $1,599,000
Highest Price: $6,950,000
Average Price: $1,867,799
Total Market Volume: $311,922,470



Pending Statistics
Report Run: 10/24/2014 11:39:03 AM
Property Type(s): SF
Start Date: 10/06/2014
End Date: 10/24/2014
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
$450,000 – $499,999 3 2 1
$500,000 – $599,999 7 2 3 1 1
$600,000 – $699,999 6 4 1 1
$700,000 – $799,999 4 2 2
$800,000 – $899,999 7 5 2
$900,000 – $999,999 3 2 1
$1,000,000 – $1,499,999 10 7 2 1
$1,500,000 – $1,999,999 5 5
$2,000,000 – $2,499,999 3 2 1
$2,500,000 – $2,999,999 1 1
$3,000,000 – $3,999,999 1 1
$4,000,000 – $4,999,999
$5,000,000 – $9,999,999
Over $10,000,000
Total Properties 50 33 13 1 3
Lowest Price: $465,000 Median Price: $889,000
Highest Price: $3,795,000 Average Price: $1,127,973
Total Market Volume: $56,398,698


Total Sold Market Statistics
Report Run: 10/24/2014 11:42:37 AM
Property Type(s): SF
Status: SLD
Start Date: 10/06/2014
End Date: 10/24/2014
Towns: Newton
Price Range # of
Avg. Days
on Market
Sale Price
List Price
Orig Price
$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 0 0 $0 $0 0 $0 0
$450,000 – $499,999 0 0 $0 $0 0 $0 0
$500,000 – $599,999 4 26 $538,400 $533,725 101 $539,725 100
$600,000 – $699,999 2 30 $651,000 $662,000 98 $675,000 97
$700,000 – $799,999 4 51 $739,750 $746,500 99 $746,500 99
$800,000 – $899,999 3 16 $844,500 $786,667 107 $786,667 107
$900,000 – $999,999 2 51 $937,500 $954,950 98 $949,450 99
$1,000,000 – $1,499,999 9 46 $1,111,978 $1,086,889 103 $1,119,222 100
$1,500,000 – $1,999,999 2 60 $1,737,500 $1,812,500 96 $1,812,500 96
$2,000,000 – $2,499,999 0 0 $0 $0 0 $0 0
$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 26 Avg. 41 $934,842 $927,762 101 $940,454 100
Lowest Price: $519,000 Median Price: $888,500
Highest Price: $1,800,000 Average Price: $934,842
Total Market Volume: $24,305,900

Outdoors Are In

Outdoors Are In

From the pages of RESIDE® | Luxury Homes and Lifestyles Around the World | Fall 2014 Master Edition

Out is the new in.  Plush sofas, area rugs, stone fireplaces–for the past several years, traditional furnishings and design elements that were once relegated exclusively to interiors have been trickling to exteriors, with homeowners creating exquisite residential spaces under the skies for relaxation and entertaining.

And it’s not only the living room that has gone rogue.  The solitary, standard patio barbeque grill has been replaced with sophisticated, gourmet kitchens complete with pizza ovens, flat screen TVs and built-in espresso machines.  After cooking alfresco, homeowners wine and dine with family and friends under the stars and glittery chandeliers, followed by open-air movies or sports on pop-up screens.

KSG9V4 Thailand$2,750,000 USD | Koh Samui, Thailand | Hunter Sotheby’s International Realty

Nowadays “people don’t want to be confined to inside anymore,” says Suzanne Perkins of Sotheby’s International Realty in Montecito, CA.  They want the option to literally spread out—and to interact with nature with the same comfort and style that they enjoy indoors.

Indeed, when pros specializing in residential design were surveyed by the American Society of Landscape Architects to rate the popularity of outdoor design elements for 2014, kitchens and entertainment spaces were second most popular, at 92 percent (gardens and landscaped spaces came in first at 94.2 percent).

Of course, in certain parts, this indoor/outdoor approach to living isn’t new at all.  “This has been the lifestyle in Hawaii,” says Dodie MacArthur of MacArthur Sotheby’s International Realty in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii.  “Whatever activities you can do indoors you can do outdoors.”

KDQWM6 Montecito$12,900,000 USD | Montecito, California | Sotheby’s International Realty- Montecito-Coast Village Road

Surprisingly, that’s also now the mindset in areas that aren’t particularly warm year-round.  “Outdoor living is a really big trend here over the last couple of years,” says Andrew Ernemann, a broker associate at Aspen Snowmass Sotheby’s International Realty.  Although they have a short warm weather season, Ernemann’s clients want to maximize their time outdoors when they stay in Aspen.

But the trend isn’t just about stepping out and reclining on a deck or patio.  It’s far grander than that.  “It’s about creating a personal destination.  People want the entire experience of the best resorts in the world, incorporated into their outdoor spaces and customized for their needs,” says MacArthur.

One of the best ways to achieve a seamless, organic flow with an open floor plan is by utilizing floor to ceiling sliding or swinging glass doors, suggests Perkins, “so the outside isn’t a secondary defined area, but more of a smooth transition from inside to outside.”

3299vb BarbadosPrice Upon Request | Saint James, Barbados | West Coast Villas Sotheby’s International Realty

When considering the creation of outdoor living spaces such as a dining room, living room and kitchen, do work with a landscape architect and/or interior designer with experience in indoor/outdoor living.  And Brooklyn-based designer Lyani Powers says that a good approach is to plan the entire project at once, taking into account basic necessities such as plumbing, heat and electricity, audio and visual equipment and wireless/internet connectivity.  There may also be structural additions, such as pergolas, loggias or lanais, for shade and protection.

There are outdoor living solutions for all types of climates, even rain and cold.  “Open but covered is the way to go,” says Krista Hunter of Hunter Sotheby’s International Realty in Thailand.  “Otherwise you run the risk of not being able to use your outdoor space for much of the time.”  In Aspen, some homeowners add roofs over their outdoor living rooms so they can still be utilized in the winter.

ZZSGLS Hawaii$11,950,000 USD | Hawi, Hawaii | MacArthur Sotheby’s International Realty

Most outdoor areas typically feature recreational zones, which can include a hot tub and swimming pool.  But consider adding wow factors to enhance the outdoor experience:  a pool table, a life-size chess set, a putting green and a bocce ball court.   Take it a step further with a complete bar, which can connect visually to the nearby kitchen zone, where function is at a maximum with every state-of-the-art stainless steel appliance that’s incorporated in standard indoor kitchens, plus a variety of extras:  a hooded grill with a built-in fryer and smoker, a pizza oven, a rotisserie, a wine cooler, icemaker and wet bar, a cappuccino and espresso machine, and of course, ample storage space, work stations and countertops with stools for casual eating.

SY9BJT Colorado$20,000,000 USD | Woody Creek, Colorado | Aspen Snowmass Sotheby’s International Realty

Adjacent to the kitchen would be a dining zone.   For a cozy effect, cover it with a pergola and then hang a decadent chandelier over the table to set the mood at twilight.   After a fine meal, meander over to the living room zone.   If cool weather is a factor, think about including a heating system – which may range from traditional patio heaters to a built-in fireplace or radiant heat.  This space in particular should offer ample ambient lighting, entertainment in the form of audio and/or visual equipment designed specifically for the outdoors and comfortable seating (upholstered in outdoor fabrics, of course), area rugs and accessories, but do keep in mind one rule of thumb, stipulates HGTV and STYLE Network expert Kelly Edwards:  all of the exterior spaces must coordinate aesthetically with your interior décor, so that your home – inside and out– is cohesive and visually appealing.

Other than that, when going out, the sky’s the limit.

Article provided by Claudia Gryvatz Copquin exclusively for Sotheby’s International Realty®.

Browse our digital magazine featuring outdoor living spaces >

Sotheby’s Relaxing Retreats| Elegant Master Bathrooms

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

Relaxing Retreats| Elegant Master Bathrooms

From chandeliers to extraordinary views, Georgia to Thailand, explore six homes that transformed ordinary master bathrooms into unique, elegant and relaxing retreats.

Athens_Georgia Prop id 7pzkmf$3,650,000 USD | Athens, Georgia | Atlanta Fine Homes Sotheby’s International Realty

Secluded on 12 acres in Athens, Georgia, this country estate features a stone-clad main house with porte cochere, pool and five-car garage. Inside, rustic wood beams accent the ceilings, and oversize windows allow light to flood in. The layout includes six bedrooms and six baths. Deco-inspired black-and white tile floors and free-standing bathtubs complement the traditional look. The master bath centerpiece is the large walk-in shower with an enclosure of glass panes offset by black mullions.

Rolling Hills, California Property id# YGJJ2Y$8,499,000 USD | Rolling Hills, California | Ewing & Associates Sotheby’s International Realty

Architect Cliff May, renowned for his casual California Ranch style, designed this 14,000-square-foot home set on four acres in Rolling Hills, California. Views of Los Angeles and the Pacific Ocean can be seen from the stone deck and indoor pool with retractable roof. Cathedral ceilings with wood beams lend structure to the free-flowing plan, which contains seven bedrooms, seven baths and three powder rooms. As part of a remodeling in 2010, the baths were finished in white marble and travertine.

Izamal_Mexico Property id ZDFYBX$2,275,000 USD | Izamal, Mexico | Riviera Maya Sotheby’s International Realty

Bathed in warm terracotta tones and ensconced in lush vegetation, this 10-bedroom, 10-bath remodeled farmhouse in the Yucatán town of Izamal, Mexico, is rich in history. The building dates to the early 19th century. In 2002 the town joined the Pueblos Mágicos program to preserve both its Mayan and colonial cultures. Hand-plastered walls, soaring ceilings and hand-hewn woodwork are present throughout. The baths are distinguished by natural rock walls and tall French doors with ornately carved wood shutters.

Rancho Santa Fe_California Prop id ZYHRKE$3,550,000 USD | Rancho Santa Fe, California | Pacific Sotheby’s International Realty

Commanding hilltop views and surrounded by mature tropical vegetation, this eight-bedroom, seven-bath adobe home in Rancho Santa Fe, California, is rich in history. The structure was originally a 1900 mission building transported to its current location for Hollywood starlet Corinne Griffith. The residence retains numerous original features, including handcrafted wood shutters, distinctive “latillas and vigas” (sticks and beams), ceilings and stained-glass skylights. Amenities include seven fireplaces and baths with brightly-colored Talavera-style painted sinks bathtubs, old-fashioned skylights and ornately carved woodwork.

Magaro Residence$10,500,000 USD | New Canaan, Connecticut | William Pitt Sotheby’s International Realty

English arts and crafts meets American shingle style in this six-bedroom, seven-bath residence in New Canaan, Connecticut, designed by Wadia Associates. Finishes include five-inch, quarter-sawn, white-oak floors, leaded glass windows and fixtures by Waterworks. Twelve-foot ceilings grace the master suite. A master bath is warmed by radiant-heated marble floors. Additional amenities include a wine cellar, massage room, yoga studio and tennis courts. The elegant garden is scented by David Austin English roses, espaliered Asian pear trees and grape and kiwi vines.

Surat Thani Thailand Property Property ID 7LN6Q9฿136,013,595 | Surat Thani, Thailand | Hunter Sotheby’s International Realty

Directly on a beach dotted with gigantic boulders, this five-bedroom, six-bath house on the island of Ko Samui in Thailand invites nature inside. Twenty-foot ceilings with swooping roofs animate the architecture. A glass wall in a bedroom abuts the pool to simulate an aquarium, while in the master bedroom, sliding doors open onto the sea. The deck features a media center and projector for outdoor screenings. Rock formations incorporated into the bath and the outdoor showers complement the organic theme.

NOW Is the Time to Buy — Mortgage Interest Rates Below 4%

Mortgage rates fall below 4%
Newton, MA. Top Brokers, Sotheby’s Newton, MA.

Long-term borrowing costs continued to fall this week, with the average rate on a 30-year mortgage falling back below 4 percent, to the lowest level since June 2013.
Freddie Mac (OTC: FMCC) says a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.97 percent in the week ending Oct. 16, down from 4.12 percent last week. A 15-year fix fell to 3.18 percent, down from 3.30 percent.
A one-year adjustable-rate mortgage averaged 2.38 percent, down from 2.42 percent.
Long-term mortgage rates tend to follow the 10-year U.S. Treasury rate, which saw yields fall briefly below 2 percent this week.
“Mortgage rates are at their lowest levels since June 2013 amidst continued investor skepticism regarding the precarious economic satiation in Europe,” said Freddie Mac chief economist Frank Nothaft.
Next week, reports are due on new home construction and sales of existing homes in September.
The consensus forecast is for housing starts last month to have risen 5.4 percent from August, with sales of existing homes rising 0.8 percent. If so, the gains would follow drops in home construction and housing sales in August.