Greater Boston Real Estate

WHAT TO DO WITH YOUR PARENTS’ STUFF


Newton, MA. Real Estate, Downsizing 2017, Compass, Chestnut Hill and Boston

 

Three years ago, I was assigned the task of helping my mother-in-law move from her condo in Morristown, NJ to an independent living apartment in another NJ town.  She and my father-in-law had sold their “big” house in Morristown 23 years ago and moved into a way too big condo in another town.  All was fine until my father in law passed away and my mother in law was left with that way too big condo in a town she didn’t really like. We convinced her to move back to Morristown into a smaller condo, (which was probably still too big,) but she liked ALL of her things.  This was the second downsize.  I spent the better part of a week down there helping her scale back her belongings and take what she really liked and donate or give away the rest.  We lived in a bigger house in Newton at the time and there were a few pieces I liked, so my MIL decided she would ship those to me.  The TRUCK arrived one Sunday morning with the few pieces I liked and the rest of the stuff my MIL thought we should have!  Yikes!

 

Everything was smooth sailing in NJ until my then 86-year-old MIL took a few falls.  It was time to move out of the condo and into independent living.  After much cajoling, she settled on a 2-bedroom apartment that was definitely not big enough for all of her prized possessions.  Off to NJ I went to help with this downsize.  I arrived to find her sick with a fever and the condo was a nightmare.  She had completely emptied the contents of the cabinets, credenzas, side board and dressers and placed them on the dining room table, kitchen table and every other flat surface in the house.  Of course, the next day consisted of very little sorting because most of it was a trip down memory lane, (we got this on a trip to England, we bought this in China and on and on).  The second day we had arranged for antique dealers, resellers, and smaller stores to come in and buy her things.  I tried to warn her that much of her valuables were not so valuable because no one was buying this stuff anymore.  All of the dealers wanted the sterling silver, NO ONE wanted the silver plate, china, or crystal.  She had an assortment of mid-century items that she deemed as “not much” but the dealers thought they were all that, and paid handsomely for them.  After an entire day of this, I looked around and realized we hadn’t gotten rid of much.  I took phots and sent them to my kids, the other grandchildren, nieces and nephews but we had very few claimed items.  We finally called a consignment store and she GAVE much of it away and donated the rest to a local charity.  What was left had special meaning to her and I quickly realized I was traveling back to Newton with her mother’s china, silver, candlesticks, and antique collection box filled with her trinkets.  Since we had downsized, I really didn’t have the room for the influx of goodies, hence a small storage unit.

 

If you think your grown children will gladly accept these items, think again.  I debated giving my niece my mother’s silver for her wedding shower, knowing what I know about this generation and stuff.  Well, I was flabbergasted when she cried upon opening, however, she still doesn’t want my mother’s china that my sister has moved twice.

 

The good news is that I have found and vetted extremely qualified people to help facilitate your parents move.  Laurie Norden at Next Stage Associates is fantastic!  She has the patience of a saint and a soothing way with the older set.  Joan Roover, owner of A Thoughtful Move is a miracle worker.  Joan has a crew that gets your house ready for a sale as well; she has organizers, painters, handymen, and cleanup crew, etc.  When she tells me a house is ready for photography, it is! Joan will contract with the mover and be on site the day of move to facilitate, thus, you don’t even have to be there.  I have also used and recommended Everything but the House.  EBTH is an online auction house for your unwanted items; furniture, art, jewelry, collectibles, even cars.  They will organize, catalog, photograph, and list your items on their site for a week.  All items start at $0.00, although be advised, most of the action takes place on the last day of the auction.

 

My best advice when selling your home (or parents) that you have lived in for a long time and don’t have the bandwidth to handle the entire move; talk to one of the above people.  If you are selling your parents’ things, prepare them or yourself for disappointment.  For the first time in history, two generations are downsizing simultaneously; boomers and their parents.  Unfortunately, I don’t think there is a future for the possessions of our parents’ generation.  It’s a changed world.

 

I am happy to discuss the aforementioned people or the sale of a home with you or your parents.

 

 

Survey Says Millennials Want To Live In New York, What Does Research Say?


Newton, MA. Top Realtor,  Compass Massachusetts Realtor, Newton, MA. Homes for Sale

Survey Says Millennials Want To Live In New York, Research Suggests They Should Live In Philadelphia…Hmm?

Philadelphia (Shutterstock)

In a recent survey one-in-five Millennials said New York is their ideal city. Less than 1% said the same of Philadelphia. Ironically, however, the city of Ben Franklin and cheesesteaks outranks its more popular brethren when it comes to qualities the young purport to value.

Millennial-run apartment search site Abodo set out to determine what their generational-peers look for in a city to call home by surveying 2,000 people born between 1982 and 1998. Respondents rated 20 qualities on a 1 to 10 scale, with 10 connoting the highest importance.

It turns out, the top three qualities Millennials want in a city are economic in nature: a thriving job market (average score: 8.19), affordable rent (7.94) and affordable home prices (7.55). Beyond those core three, the ratings for quality of life metrics were fairly evenly dispersed. Rounding out the top third of the list were parks or hiking trails (6.52), non-chain restaurants (6.49) and quality pizza (6.11). Meanwhile, items ranging from top-rate public schools (6.07) to an LGBTQ-friendly environment (5.47) to access to music venues (5.38) all have above average ratings. In fact, the only quality not achieving a score greater than five was the presence of a local college or university (4.99).

To Sam Radbil, communications manager at Abodo, the survey shows “Millennials are career driven.” He added, “Despite Millennials’ reputation for being lazy or entitled they care about the job market and their careers. They are looking for a place that is affordable.”

Interesting distinctions arise when the group is divided by age range, comparing 18-to-22 year-olds with 23-to-28 year-olds and 29-to-34 year-olds. Employment and housing are key concerns among all three groups, though affordable rent outranks job prospects only for the youngest cohort.

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For the oldest group home purchase price becomes more important than rental prices. While unsurprising, the differences among age groups do reflect recent trends. After years of hand-wringing over whether young people would participate in this traditional rite of passage, surveys suggest Millennials do want to buy and that as they get older they are taking the ownership plunge. According to the National Association of Realtors, Millennials now make up the largest share of home buyers at 35%. The median age of a first time buyer is currently 31.

(Courtesy Abodo)

When it comes to location, nearly 20% of people surveyed list New York as their perfect city. Next up is San Francisco at 10%, Seattle and Portland at 9% and Los Angeles at nearly 8%. All of these cities have 80% or more of the 20 qualities Abodo pegged as important and most have several of the traits Millennials value highest. By Adodo’s calculations, however, several cities that barely registered with the survey-group may have more of what the generation is looking for, including Philadelphia (which got top city rating from just 0.89% of people), Washington D.C. (1.36%) and Boston (2.3%).

The company judged Philadelphia as the best city for Millennials in part due to solid marks on job market (the Philadelphia region’s unemployment rate was 20 basis points below the national average when the data was pulled) and average home prices (sale and rental) of at or below 30% of average income.

(Courtesy Abodo)

Of course, some of the metrics are subjective–a New Yorker may not agree Philadelphia has quality pizza. (Disclosure: the author of this post lives in New York, went to college in Philadelphia and has strong feelings about pizza.) But the survey’s broader point–that places you’ve never thought of may have exactly what you’re looking for–remains indisputable.

10 Home Renovations That Offer the Best (and Worst) Return on Investment


Newton, MA.  Homes for Sale,  Newton Top Brokers Margaret Szerlip, West Newton Hill

10 Home Renovations That Offer the Best (and Worst) Return on Investment

This was posted in Realtor.com–not sure I agree with some of these….what do you think?

Remodeling may be a labor of love, but it’s also an investment that can seriously boost the value of your home.  Only by how much? Well, according to Remodeling magazine’s 2016 Cost vs. Value Report, you’ll recoup an average of 64% of what you paid for a renovation if you sell your home this year.

To arrive at these figures, Remodeling asked consultants in various markets to estimate the average cost for 30 home improvement projects, from adding a bathroom to replacing a roof. Then, they asked real estate agents nationwide to estimate the expected resale value of these renovations so that readers could compare their out-of-pocket costs to how much money they’d get back when it came time to sell their home.

So, what projects gets you the most bang for your home renovation buck? It may not be nearly as sexy (or fun!) as adding a chef’s kitchen or glam bathroom, but attic insulation gets the top spot. That’s right: Stuff some fiberglass insulation into the walls of a 35-by-30-foot attic, and you’ll pay an average of $1,268. But when you sell, you will rake in $116.90 for every $100. For you math-challenged out there, that’s a recoup of 116.9% of your costs. It’s the only home reno on this year’s report that redeems more money than you spend!

 

The next best-paying renovation on the list: manufactured stone veneer, offering a respectable 92.9% return.Meanwhile—sorry, luxury tub fans—the home improvement project that reaps the worst ROI is the addition of a bathroom, at 56.2% (although the “added value” of an extra bathroom for anyone who’s ever had to wait their turn for one is, of course, priceless).

Take-home lesson? If you’re looking for a general rule of thumb, it’s that less is more: Lower-cost projects  generally reap bigger returns, with four of the five projects that cost less than $5,000 ranking among the top five for money back when you sell.

Check out the best (and worst) returns for home renovations in the two charts below, including how much you’ll pay and get back if you sell your home this year.

———

5 Tech Questions that Seniors Should Ask When Interviewing a Real Estate Agent


5 Tech Questions that Seniors Should Ask When Interviewing a Real Estate AgentSotheby’s Newton, MA.  Newton, MA.  Top AgentsPosted: May 21, 2015 10AM EST

5 Tech Questions that Seniors Should Ask When Interviewing a Real Estate Agent | Keeping Current Matters

 Nikki Buckelew back as a guestblogger for today’s post. Nikki has extensive experience working with seniors and is the Founder & CEO of the Senior Real Estate Institute. Enjoy!
  If you have not bought or sold a home in a few years (or maybe decades) it is likely that there are more than a few new trends in real estate that you will encounter as you begin to interview real estate agents. One particular trend now common among many real estatebrokerage firms is called the practice of “going paperless.” This can be a bit scary for some people, especially senior adults who are not accustomed to using computers in their personal or professional lives. If you are one of the many with reservations about the paperless process, you will want to talk with your agent about any concerns or questions you have. In this article we have provided some basic information about the paperless process and some key questions to ask your real estate agent. How your agent handles your questions may just help you determine if he or she is the right agent for you!

What does it mean to go paperless?

Going paperless simply means that instead of printing out every contract, form or disclosure for your signature, you may be asked to sign certain documents electronically. This could mean:

  1. Typing your name into a designated field included in a form (received via email)
  2. Signing your name on a digital touchpad (laptop, netbook, smart phone, etc.)

While some have experienced this type of technology before and are perfectly willing and comfortable using it, others are not. Frankly, the first time I was asked to sign a real estate document electronically via email I was a bit perplexed and required some guidance. If you have not been exposed to this type of technology, it can seem a little overwhelming, especially if introduced to it in the midst all of the other things going on during a move. This is why it’s important to educate yourself on the front end, mitigating potential delays, avoiding unnecessary frustration, and preventing surprises down the road.

Here are 5 simple questions you should ask before you ‘sign on the dotted line’

1. How do you typically communicate with your clients (phone, email, text, instant messaging, etc.)?

Good agents know that the best method (and frequency) of communication is the one that best serves the client, so getting this agreed upon early in the relationship is paramount — for both you and the agent. If you want to communicate strictly by phone, be sure that you and your agent agree on the protocols for leaving and returning messages, hours of availability, and which phone numbers are best for certain times of day. Similar discussion around email, text messaging, and other modes of communication should be had as well, if that is your desired method of information delivery.

2. What method(s) do you use for getting client signatures?

The goal here is to find out your options. Many agents are still in the conversion process of going paperless and they are more than willing to use “more conventional” methods of getting signatures. Some may be required, however, by their respective brokerage firms to utilize only paperless systems. If this is the case, ask the agent to show you examples of the types of things that may be asked of you during the course of working together. If after a quick tutorial, you aren’t comfortable with the electronic signature process, it’s “OK” to choose an agent who can better accommodate your preferences.

3. Can you access my devices to insure they are compatible with the systems you use?

Even if you are completely prepared to enter the paperless world with no reservations whatsoever, it can only be done if you have the right equipment. Before agreeing to a paperless process, ask the agent to do a “test run” using a non-official/non-binding document on your system to insure its functionality.

4. Will you provide technical support if I am not “techy” and need some help?

My dad (self-described “non-techy” and proud of it), has a computer, printer, smart phone, email address, and wifi. He does not, however, have the faintest idea how they work or how to pull up attachments in his email. When he decided to purchase a new home this past year using a reverse mortgage, the lender was located out of state, which meant everything was done via email — electronically. Needless to say, I was dad’s tech support in this situation. If you do not have a trusted advisor who can help you with troubleshooting potential technology issues, make sure your agent or their staff is capable, patient, and willing to personally walking you through the steps.

5. Are you flexible if I choose to use phone and paper over electronic communication and documentation?

Options are the key. While some agents are extremely flexible in how they deliver their services, others may be married to a very specific process or style. Insure the agent you are considering is willing and able to do what is right for you, based on your comfort level, knowledge, and ability.

Bottom Line

It goes without saying that it is critical to have the conversation with your real estate professional about their paperless processes and communication methods. Not only will doing so put your mind at ease regarding unfamiliar territory, but it may also provide your agent with necessary information so he or she can serve you more effectively.

5 Must-Haves of Millennial Home Buyers


5 Must-Haves of Millennial Buyersopen concept

Millennials, those born between 1980 and 2000, are the second-biggest segment of home buyers, behind Generation X (those born between 1965 and 1979), according to a 2013 National Association of REALTORS® study about generational housing trends.

Real estate professionals told ABC News recently of some “must have” features that tend to be in high demand among young buyers. Some of those “must haves” include:

1. Updated kitchen and bath: “The primary reason young buyers seek updated kitchens and baths is because they have limited budgets,” says Jack Curtis, a real estate professional in Dublin, Ohio. “Most of their savings will go toward the down payment and furnishings. Kitchens and bathrooms are also the most expensive parts of a home to update, and young home owners cannot afford to sink a lot of money into those areas.”

2. Big kitchen with an open floor plan: “The kitchen has become the hangout room along with the family room,” says Lou Cardillo of The Lou Cardillo Team in Yorktwon Heights, N.Y. “An open space that can easily transition from kitchen to TV room is high on the list of the perfect home for young buyers. In essence, the kitchen is the new living room.”

3. Home office: “As technology continues to make us more mobile, young buyers have more options than ever to work from home, depending on their job,” says Paige Elliot, a real estate professional with Dave Perry-Miller & Associates in Dallas. “Having a dedicated space is important because it will help keep them focused and concentrated on work while they are at home on a Skype call, planning a presentation, setting up their workday or simply paying bills.”

4. Location: “My young buyers look for properties that are in proximity to public transportation and that have a good walking score,” says Margaret Szerlip, Real Estate professional at Sotheby’s in Newton, MA.

5. Technology: A home’s appeal can be increased if it has a strong mobile carrier’s signal or its list of Internet service provider options, says Cardillo. “Internet and cell service matters a lot to this generation, and they’re going to ask, so you need to have answers,” Cardillo says.

OPEN HOUSE Sunday, May 17th from 12-1:30 1592 Commonwealth Ave, Newton, MA


OPEN HOUSE Sunday 12-1:30 1592 Commonwealth Ave, Newton, MA050   BostonRealEstateMedia com

 

The flowers have bloomed, the pool and hot tub are open…come see this very special home

 

 

Lack of Inventory Hits Tony Towns


Real estate agent Margaret Szerlip is seen at 1592 Commonwealth Avenue in Newton, Monday, April 27, 2015. Staff photo by Angela Rowlings

By: Adam Smith

When Meryl Appelbaum put her family’s Newton Corner home on the market for $1.89 million last month, her agent got her a good ­offer in just two weeks.

But there was one problem.

“There was nothing out there that made it worthwhile to sell,” said Appelbaum, who was looking to downsize but stay in Newton.

Anything going for $1.5 million or less — the price she was hoping to pay — either needed renovations or was sold as soon as it was listed. So, she backed out, and took her house off the market.

“It’s nuts,” said Appelbaum’s real estate agent, Margaret Szerlip, vice president of Karp Liberman & Kern Sotheby’s International Realty in Newton.

Szerlip and several other area real estate agents say the number of homes for sale in affluent Greater Boston communities has been shrinking compared with previous years — and the dramatic lack of inventory has been compounded by home owners like Appel­baum, who hold off selling for fear they’ll have no place to go.

“It’s a catch-22” said John Dulczewski, executive director of the Greater Boston Association of Realtors, who said several of his agents have faced similar situations with clients who hold back on selling their homes.

The lack of inventory has hit Brookline, Newton, Cambridge, Needham and West Roxbury especially hard, several agents say.

And it was exacerbated by the historic snowfall this year, said Szerlip.

“It was the worst winter in 11 years” for sales, she said.

Agents say that by March, they typically see an uptick in sales, but not this year.

“We started noticing this early in the fall, and it’s continued,” said real estate agent Bill Lawson, who works in Brookline.

Finally, he said, “there’s a bit more activity now that the snow is gone.”

But he also said some sellers looking to stay in town have grown wary about letting go of their homes.

From January to March, much of Greater Boston’s wealthier towns — especially
Brookline, Cambridge and Newton — saw year-over-year drops in inventory, according to numbers from the Greater Boston Association of Realtors. Brookline and Cambridge each saw about a 50 percent drop in the number of houses and condos on the market in March. Brookline, in particular, saw a significant drop in year-to-date listings by March compared with last year.

The supply squeeze means that almost anything selling in Brookline for $500,000 to $800,000 goes quickly and for well above the asking price, said Lawson, who works for Chobee Hoy Associates.

Szerlip said a Chestnut Hill condo she recently listed sold in just a weekend for above its $368,000 asking price — in a cash deal that gave the owner a September move-out date. Though she said anything for about $1 million sells rapidly, she’s even confident a home she’s co-listing for $3.5 million on Commonwealth Avenue in Newton will be quickly snapped up.

“We have a lot of showings on that and someone is going to buy that,” she said.

In addition to the tough winter, other reasons for the decline in inventory include owners with mortgage woes and strict zoning that’s keeping new homes from being built, said Dulczewski.

“In the short-term,” said Dulczewski, “I don’t hear anything from the brokers and agents that things are improving.”

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