|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
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:
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.
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.
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.
Bi-Monthly Newton Real Estate Recap
Newton, MA. 10:45 EST Newton’s Top Brokers, Sotheby’s Realty, Newton, MA.
The real estate market is busy! There are at total of 130 single family homes currently for sale in Newton, up from 113 two weeks ago. 67 new properties came on the market across all price ranges in the past 2 weeks! 52 homes went Unger Agreement in that same time period with the 1 million to 2 million remaining the most active with 28. The condo market remains STRONG! Sellers’ there are so many buyers clamoring for the same house, so list yours if you are thinking about it!
|Report Run: 5/11/2015 10:35:20 AM
Property Type(s): SF
Snapshot Date: 04/27/2015
|Report Run: 5/11/2015 10:36:12 AM
Property Type(s): SF
Start Date: 04/27/2015
End Date: 05/11/2015
|Total Sold Market Statistics|
|Report Run: 5/11/2015 10:37:09 AM
Property Type(s): SF
Start Date: 04/27/2015
End Date: 05/11/2015
|Homeowners: We Need to Sell Your House Twice
Sotheby’s Newton Newton’s Top Brokers
Posted: May 5, 2015 EST Newton, MA.
Every house on the market has to be sold twice; once to a prospective buyer and then to the bank (through the bank’s appraisal). In a housing market where supply is very low and demand is very high, home values increase rapidly. One major challenge in such a market is that bank appraisal. If prices are jumping, it is difficult for appraisers to find adequate comparable sales (similar houses in the neighborhood that closed recently) to defend the price when doing the appraisal for the bank. With escalating prices, the second sale might be even more difficult than the first. And now, there may be a second issue further complicating the appraisal issue. The Mortgage News Daily (MND) recently published an article titled Conservative Appraisals Increasingly Mentioned in 2015; Did Something Change? The article revealed that there was a “flurry” of comments on their website from members expressing concern about…
The National Association of Realtors revealed this month that 8% of the contracts that fell through over the last three months were terminated because of appraisal issues.MND decided to survey their members and ask why this sudden increase in “short” appraisals could be taking place. Here is one result of that survey:
Collateral Underwriter provides a risk score on individual appraisals which will lead to a ranking of appraisals by risk profile, allowing lenders to identify appraisals with heightened risk of quality issues, overvaluation, and compliance violations. It went on-line on January 26. Marianne Sullivan, senior vice president of single-family business capability with Fannie Mae believes that CU is not a problem for appraisers. She claimed:
However, some think that CU has caused appraisers to become too cautious with their appraised values. One mortgage professional in theMND article explained it this way:
Ryan Lundquist, a Certified Residential Appraiser in the Sacramento area, agreed:
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.”
Is Your Home Functionally Obsolete?
Newton Top Brokers, Sotheby’s Newton, MA.
Posted 12PM EST Newton, MA
The definition of functionally obsolete pertaining to real estate is: A reduction in the usefulness or desirability of an object because of an outdated design feature, usually one that cannot be easily changed. That definition applies to many houses currently on the market here in the western suburbs of Boston. An early to mid 20th century Colonial usually has a center stair case and a living and dining on either side of the foyer. The kitchen is generally located behind the dining room and a sun-room located off the living room. For many years the sun room became the family room and everyone was delighted to have that extra space. Of course the living room wasn’t used as often once family rooms or dens became common. These houses were built when hosts didn’t want people in their kitchen when they were having company. Company came over and were led into the living room to have cocktails and Hors d’oeuvres. The cook ran back and forth between the kitchen and the company. Well women got tired of being in the kitchen and missing the party and the living room got shafted.
Victorians are another problem, they were extremely popular 10-20 years ago. They have high ceilings and beautiful wide foyers. Those wide foyers and intricate staircases make for little rooms and difficult renovations. Over the years many people have added beautiful family rooms in the rear of the house off the kitchen. But today’s buyer does not want a right parlor and left parlor and a dining room and a family room and a sun-room…. They don’t want to pay for rooms they don’t use.
Cooking together has become part of the experience. People enjoy cooking now and they want their friends and family in the kitchen with them. Guests WANT to be in the kitchen with their hosts! A desirable first floor today in a “normal” home consists of an open concept living, dining and kitchen, maybe a separate office and a large mud room. 4 second floor bedrooms and at least 3 bathrooms. I don’t know why kids can’t share a bathroom with their siblings anymore? What will they do when they have to share with 20 people in college?
So what does all this mean? It means that the price of your home depends on how desirable your home is perceived through the eyes of a buyer. Buyers have always determined the price of a home, not the seller or their agent. If there is a way to open up the first floor and connect unused living rooms to the kitchen then you’ll be ok. Your home will not sell at a premium because there is an automatic deduction in the mind of the buyer. Most pre-war Colonials were built with a powder room under the front hall stairs, blocking the ability to open up to the kitchen and living room to each other. Relocating a bath is not inexpensive and removing the first floor powder room is not desirable while living in the home or for resale.
Every house is salable! The price melts away objections and gives buyers an opportunity to bring a home into the 21st century.