Monday, December 24, 2012

Back Bay Boston Real Estate

A casual stroll down Newbury Street…
If you were to think of one of the strongest points of the Back Bay neighborhood of Boston, what would it be? In a place surrounded by beauty, luxurious homes and the like, this thought is of course rather difficult to determine. Regardless, those fortunate enough to call themselves locals here or even those hopeful visitors all can agree that a serious draw to the Back Bay undoubtedly is its incredibly simple walkable reality and its overall pedestrian-friendly atmosphere.
According to a leading professor at George Washington University, Christopher B. Leinberger, listings that find themselves within a short walking distance to an array of shops, restaurants and grocery stores score the highest among prospective buyers. This study, conducted in Washington, D.C., is easily relatable to our current situation within Boston and more specifically the Back Bay as well.
Leinberger calls this phenomenon the “DC: WalkUp Wake-Up Call”, and the most savvy and aware real estate agents know to keep wary of this increasingly popular trend when determining how to best showcase, describe and market their listings. In fact, many listings and especially our luxury building listings are even accompanied with something known as a “Walk Score.” This figure informs individuals just how strong of a walker’s paradise the listing’s location truly is in terms of the distance and difficulty to get to main points of interest by foot. With gas prices and greater awareness about the harmful effects of pollution coupled with the heightened sense about staying fit and healthy by walking or biking means that cars and other means of motor transportation are drastically falling in demand.
In the Back Bay there are options to ride one’s own or even rent a bicycle from the recent Hubway bike sharing program that has increased the trendiness and efficiency of getting around outside. From a walker’s perspective, today’s World makes it tremendously simple to navigate throughout major metro areas due to technological advancements in mobile GPS and other applications. No more true can this be seen than in Boston’s Back Bay, where literally at your fingertips is the availability of locating hundreds of the finest shops, restaurants, museums, libraries, other types of housing, offices and more all within mere yards of anywhere you may be standing in this gem of a neighborhood.
Through these valuable findings it has become apparent that of these residences that can be classified as “WalkUPs”, their unique and valuable location resulted in an average annual rental income for the owner’s that was 60% higher than that income from a comparable property but in just an average area. Indeed the ever-spoken phrase of Real Estate once again holds true and proves its worth in the Back Bay, it is all about “Location, Location, Location.”

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Boston Real Estate on the Rise

Boston Globe Logo
  NOVEMBER 26, 2012

As residences rise, downtown builds a new vitality
By Casey Ross |  GLOBE STAFF   
Inside the darkened shell of the original Filene's store, Debra Taylor Blair glimpsed the beginning of a new life for downtown Boston.
Seated before her was an unusual crowd for this part of the city: more than 80 residential real estate brokers, all of whom had accepted the housing researcher's invitation for a tour of the Filene's site and others around the district where new housing is planned.
"It was the first time so many residential brokers have come out to take a fresh look at this area," said Blair, president of LINK, a real estate information service. "We were totally shocked by the turnout."
Promised for years, the revitalization of the city's long-struggling downtown is ­finally underway, with construction of residential towers transforming the largely commercial area into a full-blown neighborhood. The supply of housing is planned to double to more than 10,000 units in coming years, according to the Boston Redevelopment Authority, and there is a sudden influx of retail shops and restaurants.
"There are so many deals going on, so many new people and businesses interested in downtown," said Randi Lathrop, the BRA's deputy director of community planning. "Every day I get a phone call about someone else who wants to open here."
The construction of homes is particularly important to changing the neighborhood, as it will bring around-the-clock ­activity to streets that today feel desolate after the workday ends.
Two residential towers are under construction and a third is planned at Filene's, where developers have won approval for a 625-foot apartment and condominium tower that will become a new marker on the downtown skyline.
Meanwhile, Mayor Thomas M. Menino's administration is pumping millions of
The Kensington, an apartment tower being constructed near where Chinatown meets Downtown Crossing, will feature a pool, solarium, and yoga lounge.
tax dollars into road and sidewalk repairs, new lighting, and other upgrades. Those public works complement new investments by property owners, who recently received government approval­ to form a so-called business improvement district to provide better upkeep of the neighborhood. The major performance theaters have been modernized, and new technology tenants are bringing a younger workforce to the area. The Kensington, an apartment tower being constructed near where Chinatown meets Downtown Crossing, will feature a pool, solarium, and yoga lounge.
Lisa Macalaster, a sales associate with Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, said that downtown is finally emerging as a viable housing alternative to Boston's other neighborhoods, where a shortage of available units is pushing buyers to look elsewhere.
"This feels like the next exciting rebirth of Boston," she said during the recent tour of the area. "There's a lot of pent-up demand for housing right now."
The downtown's renaissance remains a work in progress, however. Several streets are pockmarked with empty storefronts, and the area lacks a critical mass of modern shopping options. But five years after the Big Dig reshaped nearby streets, the next wave of improvements and construction is reaching into downtown's side streets and pedestrian thoroughfares.
More than 600 housing units are under construction at the edge of what was once the Combat Zone.
Across the street from the strip club Centerfolds is the Kensington, a 381-unit apartment tower that will feature an outdoor pool, solarium, and ­yoga lounge for young, affluent renters.
A block away on Washington Street, a 15-story residential building is rising across from the Ritz Carlton Residences. The complex, known as Millennium Place, will include 256 luxury condominiums, a winetasting room, and outdoor gardens.
And soon to tower above them all is the Filene's project, on which construction is scheduled to begin next year. Its developers have won approval for what would be the tallest residential building in Boston.
Estimated to cost $620 million, the project will add up to 600 housing units as well as offices and retail stores at the base of the tower and behind the facade of original 1912 Filene's building.
Nearby, 59 Temple Place is being renovated as a 240-room boutique hotel, while Hamilton Co. is transforming an office building at 8 Winter St. into 50 mid-priced apartments. Even though construction is ongoing, 40 percent of the Winter Street units are rented.
Harold Brown, Hamilton Co.'s president, said that downtown has improved considerably since the mid-1990s, when Menino first began trying to spruce it up.
"If the downtown is seven or eight now, it was a two back then," he said.
City officials are hoping the wave of construction brings much-needed retail staples, such as a supermarket, as well as stores that don't currently operate in the area.
Among the retailers coming soon is Walgreen Co., which is opening an emporium next year at Washington and School streets with an expansive natural foods section, a sushi bar, and a hair and nail salon.
Pret A Manger , the British prepared foods chain, recently opened an outlet at Post Office Square.
The largest concentration of new retail space will be at the former site of Filene's, where at least 100,000 square feet will be added - enough for a supermarket and multiple restaurants and stores. A former Barnes & Noble bookstore is also available across the street, and the owners of Lafayette City Center are planning to convert part of the office complex into retail space.
During the recent real estate tour, several brokers said they are beginning to recommend that clients look for properties downtown. Among the options is 45 Province St. Completed in 2009, the 137-unit tower initially struggled to attract buyers; today, 70 percent of its condominium units are sold or are under agreement.
"We're finding a greater awareness of all the things going on in this part of the city," said Wayne Lopez, the building's sales director. "The downtown's live-work dynamic is really starting to catch on."

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Zillow home value report

Home values and rent in the Boston area rose in October from a year earlier, according to the October Zillow Real Estate Market Reports.
Local home values rose 3.1 percent in October to $314,000. The increase was not as strong as the 4.7 percent jump for homes nationwide. Nationally, the home value index was at $155,000.
Of the nation's 30 largest metro areas covered by Zillow, only Chicago experienced monthly home value declines. Additionally, 26 of the country's largest metros experienced year-over-year value increases. Major markets where home values increased the most over the past year include Phoenix (22.3 percent), San Jose (11.4 percent), Denver (10.4 percent), San Francisco (9.5 percent) and Miami-Ft. Lauderdale (8.8 percent).
In October, the Zillow Rent Index for the Boston metro area stood at $1,974, up 6.5 percent from October 2011. The year-over-year gain in the rent index put the Boston area in the top five of the country's 30 largest metros - behind only Chicago, Baltimore, Charlotte and San Francisco.
The largest metro areas in the Bay State - including Worcester, Springfield and Cape Cod - also experienced year-over-year rent price increases ranging from 3.5 percent to 8.6 percent, according to Zillow.
Year-over-year, rents nationwide were up 5.4 percent and rose on an annual basis in all but three of the largest metros surveyed.
"We've reached a milestone with one full year of monthly home value gains," Zillow Chief Economist Stan Humphries said in a statement. "Those dubious about the durability of the housing recovery will point to the large role that investors are playing in the recovery, or to the large number of foreclosures yet to hit the market, as factors to be wary of. But the bottom line is that homes are more affordable now than at any time in recent memory, and buyers are seizing this opportunity. We expect to see increasing numbers of potential buyers entering the market as the broader economy continues to recover and household formation picks up further. We're hopeful that negotiations over the ‘fiscal cliff' don't derail this momentum."

Monday, November 19, 2012

Please join me at my Boston office for a wonderful cause     

I am once again hosting an open house with beverages and food at my office at 220-230 Commercial Street in Boston.  

December 6th from 6-8pm

Cadles to Crayons is a very important cause that means a lot to the children in need of warmth and love.  Please consider stopping by for a drink and donating some gently used or new winter clothing.

"Dear Chris, 
I want to share a story from a social worker at one of Cradles to Crayons' partner agencies that serves to remind me of the importance of our mission and the meaning of Thanksgiving. 

“Jaclyn was going to school wearing a fleece sweatshirt over layered tank tops, thin t-shirts and summer dresses in order to keep warm in 34 degree weather. Jaclyn’s mom said that she would cry while waiting for the school bus because it was so cold out. It was extremely difficult for her mom to see this, but she did not want Jaclyn to miss school because she could not afford warm clothing. At school, Jaclyn’s teachers were concerned and would search for a coat to borrow so she could safely play with her classmates outside.

I quickly placed a request with Cradles to Crayons. The package not only provided a warm winter coat, but took a heavy burden of guilt off of her mother and allowed Jaclyn to thrive at school without fear of being cold or feeling left out.”

So in this season of giving, what will you do to give thanks?  I hope you will consider a donation to help provide winter coats to local children like Jaclyn. Imagine the impact your donation can make. 

Wishing you and your family a Happy Thanksgiving,


Thursday, November 15, 2012

I have the DATA!!!!!!

Ever wonder what is selling around you?  If not, you should!  After all, our homes are one of the largest investments we will ever make.

Whether you purchased your home for $100,000 or $1,000,000 it’s a significant purchase that needs to be maintained and cared for in order to maintain its value.

With the state of the economy and housing numbers like a roller coaster I would be happy to share with you the sales data I have access to.

No matter where you live in Massachusetts, I can provide you with the most up to date and accurate sales information for you to compare to your own home. 

Simply email me where your home is located, what type of home (Single, multi, condo) with some specifics and I will send you accurate details of “Sold” homes similar to yours that have closed over the past 3-6 months.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Kitchen Remodel? Good Idea?

You've decided to remodel your kitchen. Now what? Not knowing where to start, many homeowners fall into two camps. Some start by looking at appliances. Others start by collecting inspiration photos. Both are steps any homeowner can take without the commitment of hiring a professional, and sometimes a homeowner will find themselves in this stage for a year or longer. 

Once you've simmered in this phase long enough and you're ready to green-light a kitchen remodeling project, then what? Here we'll start with the first 10 steps and we'll get into the nitty-gritty details under specific steps as we move through the workbook in the coming weeks.

Step 1: Gather inspiration

This step is all about finding your style using every resource possible, including design books, idea books
 and photos, magazines and blogs. 

It can be organized and beautiful like a scrapbook or it can be a hardcopy or computer file folder stuffed with random, unorganized images. I actually prefer the latter, because I like to randomly stuff images into my folders and idea books and go back to them later on for edits.

Step 2: Explore your style

Do you like
 modern, classic, traditional, cottage — some sub-style in between? Do you want a white kitchen, a natural wood kitchen, or do you want some color? What about flooring? 

Most homeowners get overwhelmed when thinking about all these decisions at once — so don't. Who says you have to? Just add those kitchen inspiration images to your folders without thinking about why you like it, and worry over the details later. It's so much easier and more fun this way.

This is also a great time to start shopping for a
 designer or architect as well if that’s in the cards for your type of project. Some homeowners hire a professional right away to help them through the inspiration-gathering process.

How to Find Your Kitchen Style

Step 3: Research and plan

Ready to green-light that project and take the plunge? The best place to start is by formulating what's commonly referred to as a "scope of work" and figuring out your preliminary budget.

Both of these may be subject to change, so don't feel like you have only once chance at this. Budget and scope
 are intertwined and often change many times during the design process as you become more educated and able to reconcile what you want and what you can afford. As a homeowner, you're not expected to walk into this knowing what everything should cost. Remember, this is an educational process. 

How to Map Our Your Scope of Work
 | 3 Common Kitchen Budgets

Step 4: Hire a professional

Even if you're going the DIY route, unless you're building your own kitchen cabinets and doing your own electrical and plumbing, you're going to have to work with a professional at some point. It may be as brief as leaning on your salesperson to help you in selecting and ordering your appliances or cabinets, but it's something to plan on either way.

Some people start by visiting big-box stores or cabinet showrooms where they can see everything.
 Many homeowners get referrals from friends or colleagues and start by hiring an architect or designer. Still others might work on their own with a builder or contractor. This step includes so many levels that it warrants its own in-depth story to cover everything from contracts and permits, to space planning, budgets, product ordering and project management.

How to Work With a Kitchen Designer

Step 5: Schematic design

This phase includes sketches, space planning, preliminary floor plans and elevations showing the layout and cabinet sizes. You'll look at color studies and talk about finishes and fixtures such as cabinet color, flooring and tile options, color palette, backsplash and countertop materials.

At this point you may be narrowing selections down to your top three. I try to keep my clients focused more on layout and space planning, even though the temptation is to talk about what the kitchen will look like, ie. fixtures and finishes. But I find that getting caught up in the look too early can distract from the space planning phase.

Plus, you need a plan in order to figure out what materials will go where, and how many square feet you will need, and ultimately how much this will cost. Preliminary budget work can also be done at the end of this phase. I like to begin the contractor interview process early and give them a preliminary drawing packet and scope of work so we can get some ballpark construction numbers. At the same time you can be sending out drawings for estimates on finishes and fixtures.

More on Planning Your Space

Step 6: Fixture and finish specification

Final selection of finishes and fixtures is made. This usually includes:

Step 7: Work on design development and construction documents

This is the stage when you finalize the design and prepare final floor plans, elevations, details and, if applicable, mechanical and electrical drawings, lighting switch plans, and exterior elevations.

This is where your final permit set or Construction Drawings (CDs) come into play.
 It's important to have finishes and fixtures selected at this time, since this is what will be considered in the final pricing from the contractor. 

You'll submit drawings for permits. These have a lead time, so check the timing with your local village. You'll need a contractor signed up to finalize the paperwork and pick up your permits, so get ready to hire someone in the next step. I often find that we're submitting for permits around the same time or a little bit after we've placed the cabinet order, due to similar lead times.

Step 8: Get contractor estimates

On occasion, this step happens earlier in the process; it depends on the type of job. I always recommend to my clients to get at least 3 different contractor estimates. I like to do preliminary walk-through's with the contractors once the schematic designs are done so we can get some ballpark estimates and find out if we're on the right track or need to pull back some to fit the budget.

Step 9: Get ready for demo

The big day is upon us, most likely something like 4-8 weeks from when you submitted for permits. Time to get that schedule firmed up and plan on cleaning out the cabinets, putting what you don't need in storage and — if you're living in the house during construction — setting up a temporary kitchen so you don't lose your mind!

You may be moving out of your house temporarily, but most homeowners white-knuckle it and try to live in the house through construction.
 Preparation and organization can save your sanity.

Discuss the logistics ahead of time with your contractor. Will you meet once a week for updates? Will you have to be out of the house for certain tasks like demo or flooring? What about debris removal and dust? Are there any family allergy issues? What is a typical work day for the crew? Getting all this on the table beforehand can set expectations and make for a smoother ride.

Step 10: Surviving the dreaded punch list

Once construction is over, well ... almost over ... there's always this annoying little list of items that are missing, wrong, or simply forgotten about.
 A missing light switch plate, a caulk line that shrank and pulled away from the wall, paint touch ups — small things like this, and sometimes bigger things like the hood doesn't work, or there's a big scratch in the newly refinished floor. 

Sometimes the homeowner does the punch list. It can be as informal as an emailed list of items that need to be fixed or finished. I like to use a little form I put together that identifies the item to be fixed or finished, the responsible party and the date of completion. I send it to the client for review, changes and additions, and then off to the contractor.

It's inevitable that the contractor may have to make multiple visits back to the house to finish these items; prepare yourself for more than one visit and you'll be fine.The best way to approach this is with a Zen attitude. Things happen, little things get missed. It's sort of like making a list for the grocery store and
 still forgetting some key ingredient. We all do it.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Advice for First-Time Buyers

Advice for First-Time Buyers

  • Pre-Qualification: Meet with a mortgage broker and find out how much you can afford to pay for a home.
  • Pre-Approval: While knowing how much you can afford is the first step, sellers will be much more receptive to potential buyers who have been pre-approved. You'll also avoid being disappointed when going after homes that are out of your price range. With Pre-Approval, the buyer actually applies for a mortgage and receives a commitment in writing from a lender. This way, assuming the home you're interested in is at or under the amount you are pre-qualified for, the seller knows immediately that you are a serious buyer for that property. Costs for pre-approval are generally nominal and lenders will usually permit you to pay them when you close your loan.
  • List of Needs & Wants: Make 2 lists. The first should include items you must have (i.e., the number of bedrooms you need for the size of your family, a one-story house if accessibility is a factor, etc.). The second list is your wishes, things you would like to have (pool, den, etc.) but that are not absolutely necessary. Realistically for first-time buyers, you probably will not get everything on your wish list, but it will keep you on track for what you are looking for.
  • Representation by a Professional: (ME) Consider hiring your own real estate agent, one who is working for you, the buyer, not the seller.
  • Focus & Organization: In a convenient location, keep handy the items that will assist you in maximizing your home search efforts. Such items may include:         
    1. One or more detailed maps with your areas of interest highlighted.         
    2. A file of the properties that your agent has shown to you, along with ads you have cut out from the newspaper.              
    3. Paper and pen, for taking notes as you search.              
    4. Instant or video camera to help refresh your memory on individual properties, especially if you are attending a series of showings.              
    5. Location: Look at a potential property as if you are the seller. Would a prospective buyer find it attractive based on school district, crime rate, proximity to positive (shopping, parks, freeway access) and negative (abandoned properties, garbage dump, source of noise) features of the area?
  • Visualize the house empty & with your decor: Are the rooms laid out to fit your needs? Is there enough light?
  • Be Objective: Instead of thinking with your heart when you find a home, think with your head. Does this home really meet your needs? There are many houses on the market, so don't make a hurried decision that you may regret later.
  • Be Thorough: A few extra dollars well spent now may save you big expenses in the long run. Don't forget such essentials as:         
    1. Include inspection & mortgage contingencies in your written offer.     
    2. Have the property inspected by a professional inspector.              
    3. Request a second walk-through to take place within 24 hours of closing.
    4. You want to check to see that no changes have been made that were not agreed on (i.e., a nice chandelier that you assumed came with the sale having been replaced by a cheap ceiling light).
  • All the above may seem rather overwhelming. That is why having a professional represent you and keep track of all the details for you is highly recommended. Please email me or call me directly to discuss any of these matters in further detail.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Why me? You need a Buyers agent in Boston!

in Boston, the need for buyer representation is essential. I have been selling in Boston for 20 years and likely to negotiate the best deal for you.  possibly save you thousands
After years of trepidation, home buyers are finally beginning to wade back into the housing market. But as they do, many are making the surprising choice to hunt alone, rejecting the assistance of what's known in real estate as a buyer's agent.
For years, house-hunters have had the option to work with a real estate agent who shows them properties and may ultimately negotiate the price a counterbalance to the agent who almost invariably represents the seller. But now fewer buyers are taking it. Of the buyers who purchased a property through a real estate agent, just 57% had buyer representation, according to a 2010 report by the National Association of Realtors. That's down from 62% in 2009 and 64% in 2006, before the housing bust. Also, fewer buyers are first learning about the home they purchase from real estate agents: just 37% are reporting real estate agents as their first source of information on the home they purchased, down from 50% a decade ago, according to NAR.
If you're in the market to buy a home, a slew of new smartphone apps aim to make the job easier and save you time. MarketWatch's Amy Hoak reports.
Many experts think this is a bad move worse, for example, than trying to sell a house without an agent. For one thing, in most cases, a buyer doesn't pay an agent; the buyer's agent splits the commission with the seller's agent, so the services are essentially free to the buyer. Also, a buyer's agent can usually access historical price data for home sales in the area, which means he can recommend a bidding strategy that targets comparable properties that sold for less, rather than the mid-range. John Vogel, adjunct professor of real estate at the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College, calls going through this process alone "a mistake."
There are lots of reasons buyers may choose to represent themselves. The real estate listings and detailed information that was once only available to real estate agents -- like median sales prices in a neighborhood, the amount of days a home has been on the market, and how many price cuts it has endured are now online. And because most buyers' agents don't get paid until a home is purchased, they have a strong incentive to see you buy something quickly, Vogel says: They may not tell a client to wait for prices to fall further.
On the other hand, some house-hunters may think they are working with a buyer's agent, when in reality, they're actually dealing with a seller's agent. Many buyers contact the agent listed with the property or walk into an open house thinking the agent is working in their favor, says Paul Howard, a buyer's-only broker licensed in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Or some buyers may start working with an agent who has their interest at hand, but the house they want to buy is listed with the real estate company the agent works for; at that point, buyers should have the option to find an agent not tied to the property. Some seller's agents may also discourage prospective buyers at the beginning of their search from seeking out a buyer's agent. Commissions are already lower due to declining home values, and some would prefer not to split it, says Ginger Wilcox, head of training for buyers' and sellers' agents at "Agents are fighting for their commissions."
Still, in many cases buyers may be at an advantage when they work with a buyer's agent at least compared to relying on a seller's agent for advice or guidance. A seller's agent is contractually obligated to help make the sale happen in the seller's favor, often as close to the asking price as possible. Buyers' agents can also suggest home inspectors and financing companies they've worked with before, says David Kent, president of the National Buyer's Agent Association; they're not supposed to make money off the referrals.
When searching for a buyer's agent, experts recommend putting a few through their paces first. The most helpful agents won't just rely on what's listed online, says Vogel. Instead, they might drive around a neighborhood looking for signs of properties that are for sale by owners or mail letters to existing homeowners alerting them to a buyer who's interested in a similar property to theirs. And by the time a buyer enters into a contract, his agent should be there to look for red flags.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Making sure it the best Real Estate fit for you

Ready to close the deal? Maybe not.

Sometimes unforeseeable issues arise just prior to closing the sale. Hopefully, with negotiation, most of these have a workable solution. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. But don't panic. Another buyer might still be found who is willing to accept the house as is.
Imagine that your prospective buyers are a couple with young children. They envision your unused attic as the perfect playroom for the kids but, before closing the deal, they request an inspection to see if it's safe and also if they will be able to install a skylight to provide natural light to the new space.

This inspection reveals that under the shingles that are in good condition is a roof that will only last another year or two. The prospective buyers immediately balk, not wanting to incur the time and cost of replacing the roof. Their plans were to move in and only have to spend time and money renovating the attic. The additional cost of the new roof, they say, is just too much.
At this point, you sit down with the prospective buyers and calmly discuss the situation and how it can be solved to the benefit of all. First, you agree to get another professional opinion on what really needs to be done. Inspectors are only human, and are not infallible. Once the extent of the damage is agreed upon, you can jointly decide what to do about it. While the buyers hadn't planned on that expense, you show them that instead of a limited roof life that they would get with most existing homes, they'll have a new worry-free roof that won't cost them in repairs for the next decade or so. Since the roof wasn't in as good shape as you had thought, you agree to lower the purchase price to help offset the cost of the new roof.

By negotiating calmly and looking at all possibilities, what could have been a "deal breaker" can be turned into a win-win situation for both the buying and selling parties. In other cases, the most workable agreement for both parties might be for the deal to be called off. The seller can always find another buyer and the buyer can always find another home.

To protect yourself against last minute "buyer's remorse," make sure the purchase contract anticipates and closes as many loopholes as possible after all known defects have been fully disclosed.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Why the Need for a Comparative Market Analysis

CMA is real estate shorthand for "Comparative Market Analysis". A CMA is a report prepared by a real estate agent providing data comparing your property to similar properties in the marketplace.

The first thing an agent will need to do to provide you with a CMA is to inspect your property. Generally, this inspection won't be overly detailed (she or he is not going to crawl under the house to examine the foundation), nor does the house need to be totally cleaned up and ready for an open house. It should be in such a condition that the agent will be able to make an accurate assessment of its condition and worth. 

If you plan to make changes before selling, inform the agent at this time.

The next step is for the agent to obtain data on comparable properties. This data is usually available through MLS (Multiple Listing Service), but a qualified agent will also know of properties that are on the market or have sold without being part of the MLS. This will give the agent an idea how much your property is worth in the current market. Please note that the CMA is not an appraisal. An appraisal must be performed by a licensed appraiser.

The CMA process takes place before your home is listed for sale. This is a good assessment of what your house could potentially sell for.

CMAs are not only for prospective sellers. Buyers should consider requesting a CMA for properties they are seriously looking at to determine whether the asking price is a true reflection of the current market. Owners who are upgrading or remodeling can benefit from a CMA when it's used to see if the intended changes will "over-improve" their property compared to others in the neighborhood.

Monday, October 22, 2012

How to approach your home inspection

June and Fred Smith were diligent about getting their home ready for sale. They ordered a pre-sale termite inspection report. The report revealed that their large rear deck was dry-rot infested, so they replaced it before putting their home on the market.
The Smiths also called a reputable roofer to examine the roof and issue a report on its condition. The roofer felt that the roof was on its last legs and that it should be replaced. The Smith's didn't want buyers to be put off by a bad roof, so they had the roof replaced and the exterior painted before they marketed the home.
The Smith's home was attractive, well-maintained and priced right for the market. It received multiple offers the first week it was listed for sale.
But the buyers' inspection report indicated that the house was in serious need of drainage work. According to a drainage contractor, the job would cost in excess of $20,000. Fred Smith was particularly distraught because he'd paid to have corrective drainage work done several years ago.

First-Time Tip: If you get an alarming inspection report on a home you're buying or selling, don't panic. Until you see the whole picture clearly, you're not in a position to determine whether you have a major problem to deal with or not.
What happened to the Smiths is typical of what can happen over time with older homes. The drainage work that was completed years ago was probably adequate at the time. But since then, there had been unprecedented rains in the area, which caused flooding in many basements. Drainage technology had advanced. New technology can be more expensive but often does a better job.
The Smiths considered calling in other drainage experts to see if the work could be done for less. After studying the buyers' inspection report, the contractor's proposal and the buyers' offer to split the cost of the drainage work 50-50 with the sellers, the Smiths concluded that they had a fair deal.
The solution is not always this easy, especially when contractors can't agree. Keep in mind that there is an element of subjectivity involved in the inspection process. For example, two contractors might disagree on the remedy for a dry-rotted window: one calling for repair and the other for replacement.
Recently, one roofer recommended a total roof replacement for a cost of $6,000. A second roofer disagreed. His report said that the roof should last another three to four years if the owner did $800 of maintenance work. Based on the two reports, the buyers and sellers were able to negotiate a satisfactory monetary solution to the problem for an amount that was between the two estimates.
It's problematic when inspectors are wrong. But it happens. Inspectors are only human. Here is another example: A home inspector looked at a house and issued a report condemning the furnace, which he said needed to be replaced.
The sellers called in a heating contractor who declared that the furnace was fit and that it did not need to be replaced.
The buyers were unsure about the furnace, given the difference of opinions. The seller called in a representative from the local gas company. The buyers knew that the gas company representative would have to shut the furnace down if it was dangerous. He found nothing wrong with the furnace, and the buyers were satisfied.

In Closing: Sometimes finding the right expert to give an opinion on a suspected house problem is the answer, but it is always good to get two opinions.