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.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Featured Home by Chris Tuite

Looking to move to Boston?  How about this stunning residence in prominent Harbor Towers......Located on Boston's Waterfront this home sits on the Rose Kennedy Green way and only a minutes walk to the Financial District.  Boston real estate inventory is at an all time low, so don't wait to make and appointment to view this spectacular condominium.

This stunning 2.5 bedroom home has been renovated with little expense spared. Custom coffered ceilings, artfully designed built-ins. This residence flows effortlessly from room to room. Large, open custom kitchen with granite & top of the line appliances. Absolutely the most dazzling skyline views in the city while still offering a calming view of Boston's inner harbor. This home also offers a den with full kitchen and full bath. Perfect hideaway for either spouse or visiting guests.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Boston Housing Market, Low Inventory

Below, see a recent article in regarding the housing market in Boston.  I have been selling real estate in Boston for 20 years and have never seen the amount of home for sale this low. Currently there are only 405 active homes for sale in between Back Bay, Beacon Hill, South End, Midtown, South End, North End, Waterfront, Charlestown, and Seaport.

Sales of Condominiums, Single families, and Multi families are up from 1,422 units sold to 1,716 YTD.

The number of home for sales in Greater Boston is down significantly, falling more than 20 percent over the past year, a new report by Zillow finds.
And the biggest shortage is among lower-priced homes, with inventory for the bottom tier of homes for sale in the Boston area dropping 21.4 percent over the past year. That's followed by a 20.3 percent drop inventory drop in middle-tier homes and a 19.1 percent drop in the number of high-end homes available for sale, Zillow reports.
The drop in homes for sale in Greater Boston is a little higher than the national average, with a 19.4 percent decline in listings over the past year.
First-time buyers are likely to feel the crunch first given the bigger drop in inventory in the lower tier - sorry, not defined by Zillow but I'm checking.
That's particularly bad news. After all, starter homes in the Boston area are already something of a joke - it's often a choice between a fixer-upper closer in and a house in better condition beyond 495.
And things on the inventory front are likely to get worse before they get better, with home sales rebound now surging into the fall.
The number of homes put under agreement jumped 26 percent in September compared to a year before, while pending sales of condos jumped more than 48 percent, the Massachusetts Association of Realtors reported yesterday.
For buyers, there's a lot more to worry about than skimpier listings to look over.
Rising sales and falling inventory are a combination that typically leads to price increases, which we are already starting to see signs of.
And it's unlikely we will see any fresh batch of homes hit the market over the next few months - this may be the pattern until the start of the spring market.
First-time buyers, what are you seeing out there? Any starter homes, good or bad, that got your attention?

Monday, October 8, 2012

South End House Tour....A Must See

On Saturday, October 20th from 10AM-5PM the South End House Tour is being held; for the 44th year in a row! Hosted by the South End Historical Society, the goal of the event is to give all of the proceeds that are ever-so crucial to this Society for aiding in the preservation of the beautiful architecture, history and overall appearance of the South End neighborhood of Boston. Along with the Spring Ball, this is the only other event that the South End Historical Society hosts on an annual basis. All of the monetary earnings from both events, when combined, surmount to a staggering one-third of the Society’s total operating costs for the year. Thus, that is just further justification to the vast importance of this upcoming day.
Visitors and residents alike will be allowed the unique opportunity to be able to tour many of the most historical, valuable and finest kept residences that are spread throughout rowhouses all across the neighborhood. There is the availability to be a sponsor and therefore with these special tickets one will be provided with additional benefits during this occasion. Furthermore, there of course are general tickets as well for a cost of $25.
The South End is such an incredibly popular area of Boston for both living and visiting that even in a recent blog from this year we shared that it indeed was voted as the #1 neighborhood citywide. It thus goes to show that in order to earn such praise, these events and organizations dedicated to the upkeep of the area are as critical as ever.
For further information, please look to call the number below, and for purchasing tickets online, view the link at the base of this blog. Having our Flagship office here in the picturesque South End, we at Gibson Sotheby’s International Realty know how important this occasion is and we hope many of you can attend!