Margaret Szerlip

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.

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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.

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.”

Why Waiting To Buy Might Not Make Sense


Why Waiting To Buy Might Not Make Sense

Sotheby’s Newton, MA.  Posted: April 1, 2015 11:00AM EST

Why Waiting To Buy Might Not Make Sense | Keeping Current Matters

Whether you are a first time or a move-up buyer, there are two factors that will impact the amount of house you can afford in your price range: home prices & mortgage rates. Let’s look at what the experts are predicting over the next twelve months for these two areas:

PRICES

Over 100 economists, real estate experts and investment & market strategists were recently polled as a part of the Home Price Expectation Survey. They were asked to project where home prices are headed. The average value appreciation projected over the next twelve-month period is approximately 4.4%.

MORTGAGE INTEREST RATES

In the latest Economic & Housing Market Outlook from Freddie Mac, they predict that the 30-year fixed mortgage rate will be 4.7% by this time next year. As of last week, the Freddie Mac rate was 3.69%.

What does this mean to you?

If you are a first-time buyer currently looking at a home priced at $250,000, this is what it could cost you on a monthly basis if you wait until next year to buy: Cost Of Waiting Spring 250K | Keeping Current Matters If you are a move-up buyer currently looking at a home priced at $500,000, this is what it could cost you on a monthly basis if you wait a year to buy:Cost Of Waiting Spring 500K | Keeping Current Matters

Bottom Line

With both home prices & interest rates projected to increase, waiting to buy could put a serious dent in your family’s wealth.

Choose Your Paint with These Fancy Apps


Choose Your Paint with These Fancy Apps

Newton, MA.  

Picking paint at the store can be overwhelming, and sometimes you’re less inspired by a paint chip and more inspired by photos, jewelry or Mother Nature. Now your phone can give you the tools you need to preview colors where and when the mood strikes.

Photo by: iStock

Here are five apps that can help you get the right color on the walls before you buy.

The ColorSmart by BEHR® Mobile app lets you preview, match and coordinate colors on-the-go. This fun-to-use app puts you in control with handy features like:
• Browsing through the BEHR Premium Plus Ultra® and Premium Plus® colors collections
• Photo-match to a BEHR color with their proprietary tool
• Preview function to see a color in different rooms and styles
• “Touch-and-tap” technology to paint a room image
• Sharing on Facebook and Twitter
(FREE for iPhone®, iPad® or Android)

The Benjamin Moore Color Capture® app makes it simple to snap a picture of anything that inspires you and instantly find its match among the more than 3,500 Benjamin Moore paint colors. Then you can save your pics and their coordinating color matches to your Favorites. Plus, you can:
• Group colors in Favorites to create personalized combos
• Share your favorite colors on social media and email
• Browse Benjamin Moore’s inspirational color cards and access the full color wheel to search colors
(FREE for iPhone®, iPad® or Android phones 6.1 or higher)

Besides letting you search by name or browse their library of 1,500 colors, ColorSnap® for mobile from Sherwin-Williams allows you to create personalized palettes with colors that inspire you. Simply upload an image and this app will instantly match colors in your photo. Then you can edit, delete or add colors to suit your artistic vision— you can even ask Sherwin-Williams for colors that complement your selections. The possibilities are endless with features that help you:
• Fine-tune colors for lightness, saturation and hue
• Get detailed color information such as names, RGB values and LRV numbers
• Save and access your Favorites across devices
(FREE for iPhone®, iPad® or Android)

With its intuitive navigation, ProjectPaint by Valspar puts over 3,000 Valspar paints right at your fingertips. Swipe, swish and tap through their catalog to choose colors for inside or outside your home, plus get recommendations for coordinating colors. This app even helps you calculate how much paint you’ll need for your project and creates a customized shopping list so you can make just one trip to the store.

Don’t want to limit your color choices to one particular brand? AnyPaintColor by MyPerfectColorlets you search over 130,000 colors from over 100 brands including Martha Stewart and Ralph Lauren. It’s essentially a virtual fan deck that gives you the power to browse colors to your heart’s content without having to set one foot in a store.
($2.99 for iPhone®, iPad®, iPod Touch®)

The Top 7 Things to Do When You Inherit a Home


The Top 7 Things to Do When You Inherit a Home

Newton, MA.  12:30PM EST

Clean_Slate_Inherit_a_Home

1. Check the title. Make sure that the ownership is in the name it is intended so that it is freely transferable to you.

2. Make sure there are no liens against the property. If work had been done over the years on the property or it was given as collateral against any loan, there may be banking institutions or individuals that have a claim against your inheritance. You will want to research this and settle any claims before you consider or attempt to sell, lease or transfer title to the property. It may also affect the property’s value if somebody else has a claim against it.

3. Get a condition report from a licensed contractor or engineer to see what repairs need to be made. Oftentimes properties that are long-held in families can be—if they are not primary residences -in disrepair. You certainly want to protect the value of any inheritance and even minor repairs can enhance value.

4. If you are considering refurbishing and selling your inheritance, there are small things you can do to enhance the value. Consider a paint job, an upgrade of furniture, fresh flowers throughout if you are going to be showing your property and landscaping is often the first thing folks see when looking at a home so it can be a very worthwhile investment.

5. Modernize where you can. Updating a kitchen or bathroom or even flooring can make a huge difference in how a property appears to others. New drawer handles, doorknobs even small change can revamp the look of s property and bring it up to date.

Inaccurate Zillow ‘Zestimates’ a Source of Conflict Over Home Prices


Inaccurate Zillow ‘Zestimates’ a source of conflict over home prices

February 12, 2015 Newton, MA.  2:45PM EST
Zillow execs follow housing data to surprising conclusions
Zillow CEO Spencer Rascoff, shown in his downtown Seattle office, says Zestimates are “a good starting point” but that nationwide Zestimates have a “median error rate” of about 8%. (Ellen M. Banner / TNS)
By KENNETH R. HARNEY Real Estate Business

Home shoppers, sellers and buyers routinely quote Zestimates to realty agents as gauges of market value
Zillow CEO Spencer Rascoff says that nationwide Zestimates have a “median error rate” of about 8%
When “CBS This Morning” co-host Norah O’Donnell asked the chief executive of Zillow recently about the accuracy of the website’s automated property value estimates — known as Zestimates — she touched on one of the most sensitive perception gaps in American real estate.

Millennials are finally entering home-buying market
Millennials are finally entering home-buying market
Zillow is the most popular online real estate information site, with 73 million unique visitors in December. Along with active listings of properties for sale, it also provides information on houses that are not on the market. You can enter the address or general location in a database of millions of homes and probably pull up key information — square footage, lot size, number of bedrooms and baths, photos, taxes — plus a Zestimate.

Shoppers, sellers and buyers routinely quote Zestimates to realty agents — and to one another — as gauges of market value. If a house for sale has a Zestimate of $350,000, a buyer might challenge the sellers’ list price of $425,000. Or a seller might demand to know from potential listing brokers why they say a property should sell for just $595,000 when Zillow has it at $685,000.

 

Disparities like these are daily occurrences and, in the words of one realty agent who posted on the industry blog ActiveRain, they are “the bane of my existence.” Consumers often take Zestimates “as gospel,” said Tim Freund, an agent with Dilbeck Real Estate in Westlake Village. If either the buyer or the seller won’t budge off Zillow’s estimated value, he told me, “that will kill a deal.”

Back to the question posed by O’Donnell: Are Zestimates accurate? And if they’re off the mark, how far off? Zillow CEO Spencer Rascoff answered that they’re “a good starting point” but that nationwide Zestimates have a “median error rate” of about 8%.

Homeowners underestimate their property values 1.6%, research says
Homeowners underestimate their property values 1.6%, research says
Whoa. That sounds high. On a $500,000 house, that would be a $40,000 disparity — a lot of money on the table — and could create problems. But here’s something Rascoff was not asked about: Localized median error rates on Zestimates sometimes far exceed the national median, which raises the odds that sellers and buyers will have conflicts over pricing. Though it’s not prominently featured on the website, at the bottom of Zillow’s home page in small type is the word “Zestimates.” This section provides helpful background information along with valuation error rates by state and county — some of which are stunners.

 

For example, in New York County — Manhattan — the median valuation error rate is 19.9%. In Brooklyn, it’s 12.9%. In Somerset County, Md., the rate is an astounding 42%. In some rural counties in California, error rates range as high as 26%. In San Francisco it’s 11.6%. With a median home value of $1,000,800 in San Francisco, according to Zillow estimates as of December, a median error rate at this level translates into a price disparity of $116,093.

Some real estate agents have done their own studies of accuracy levels of Zillow in their local markets.

Last July, Robert Earl, an agent with Choice Homes Team in the Charlottesville, Va., area, examined selling prices and Zestimates of all 21 homes sold that month in the nearby community of Lake Monticello. On 17 sales Zillow overestimated values, including two houses that sold for 61% below the Zestimate.
In Carlsbad, Calif., Jeff Dowler, an agent with Solutions Real Estate, did a similar analysis on sales in two ZIP Codes. He found that Zestimates came in below the selling price 70% of the time, with disparities ranging as high as $70,000. In 25% of the sales, Zestimates were higher than the contract price. In 95% of the cases, he said, “Zestimates were wrong. That does not inspire a lot of confidence, at least not for me.” In a second ZIP Code, Dowler found that 100% of Zestimates were inaccurate and that disparities were as large as $190,000.

So what do you do now that you’ve got the scoop on Zestimate accuracy? Most important, take Rascoff’s advice: Look at them as no more than starting points in pricing discussions with the real authorities on local real estate values — experienced agents and appraisers. Zestimates are hardly gospel — often far from it.

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