Posts Tagged ‘Home pricing’

Is Bigger Better?

Tuesday, November 15th, 2011

When shopping for a home, what’s on your wish-list? If you’re looking in the suburbs, due to the current state of the real estate market some of the giant homes are being sold for uber affordable prices. Does that mean you should swoop in and grab them? Not necessarily. If you’re looking in the city, the prices per square foot are still so high, that sometimes it’s important to ask yourself: is bigger really better? What could purchasing a small home save you? In time, money and headaches? A lot.

Here are somethings about small homes that make them extremely attractive:

1. Small homes cost less: not only upfront, but over the years. Heating and cooling a small house is so much less expensive than a big house. Furnishing and decorating all the extra rooms adds up, and renovating extra restrooms, or a giant kitchen, comes with a giant price tag. And don’t forget that you’ll be saving money on the property taxes because of the smaller square footage.

2. Tons of time saved: not having to clean 6 rooms, or 3600 square feet, will save you SO much time.

3. Easier to live simply: with less space, you have less stuff. Quick anecdote: when I moved into my first ever apartment in Boston, my dad was helping me move. My apartment was the typical tiny Beacon Hill unit, and I had a black bookshelf that didn’t fit into my room. I didn’t want to throw it away because it was perfectly good and almost brand new so my thought is that we would just put it in our living room. My dad warned my roommate and I against it saying, “Don’t. Give it away, if you put it out here, you’ll just find random stuff to fill it with.” We laughed and kept it. A year and a half later it was full of everything from old DVDs to owner’s manuals to an iron and we couldn’t seem to get rid of any of the stuff. I will never again own more than I need. Ok, so long story short… If you have extra space you will find a way to fill it, and that’s not a good thing.

4. Quality investments: when you have less space to fill, you can spend more money on quality pieces that will stand out in the limited space. You can also afford granite or marble slab for counters in a smaller kitchen, or nicer cabinets. You can update 2 bathrooms nicely and not have to worry about the downstairs ones… Basically, it takes less to make a smaller house really nice.

All in all, a small home also makes for a homier home. I think that if you’re attracted by the glitz and glam of the large McMansion, just take a moment to consider what a smaller home could save you. Is it worth it in the end?

(Source & inspiration)

Thinking of Renting out your Condo Instead of Selling?

Friday, October 14th, 2011

“If I can’t get the price I want for my condo…… I’ll just rent it.”

We can’t tell you how often we have heard this statement over the past few years. With the housing market in Boston in a bit of a holding pattern, many condominium owners feel that the best thing to do right now is rent and wait it out.

There are many advantages to this strategy: the potential of market increase, tax deductions, and many other positive aspects to becoming a landlord. But, experience tells us, it may not be as simple as you think.

As Realtors, it is our job to inform condominium owners of all aspects of all their options. With that in mind, we ask people to consider these Seven Considerations Before You Rent Your Home:

1. Tenant occupied properties tend to sell for less

If you decide to rent your property with the intention of selling next spring or the year after, you need to consider that marketing a property with tenants in place can put you at a disadvantage. Tenanted properties tend to not show as well and create challenges for showing availability.

2. Renting your unit could pose a disadvantage to your condo association

One of the largest obstacles we face in the current mortgage market is owner occupancy. A building with more than 30% of the units rented could lower the value of all condominiums in the association.

3. Damage to the property

Keep in mind that if you have recently renovated or improved your property, having a tenant may place wear and tear on these “new” items. Additionally, despite proper screening and best intentions, a tenant almost never takes as good of care of a home as the owner does.

4. What if you get the Tenant From Hell

Even with a complete, professional screening, there is always a chance your tenant could “go bad”. A landlord needs to think through if they can afford the monthly expense if the tenant does not pay rent, especially in a down economy without the readiness of available new jobs, should your tenant lose theirs. Are the financial advantages worth the potential cost of renovating after a tenant destroys your property or the cost of an eviction?

5. Monthly Nut

The most important first step in deciding to rent your property is to determine the cost of ownership verses the potential rent. Even if the rent can cover your mortgage, taxes and condo fees, you need to consider maintenance, vacancies, building assessments and other potential expenses of ownership.

6. What if the market goes down instead of up?

As Realtors, we are currently very optimistic about the future of our current real estate market. However, we do not have a crystal ball and there is always the chance that over the next year, two years or beyond, the market in Boston will decrease rather than grow. If you rent with the intention of selling for more “next year”, you could end up being a landlord much longer than you planned for.

7. Tenant Issues and Maintenance Problems

Unlike a stock certificate that sits quietly, tenants need things! Are you prepared to get a locksmith at 2am? Do you know good plumbers, electricians? Are you ready to liaise with your condo association if the tenant violates the Rules and Regulations of your association? These are questions any potential landlord needs to ask themselves.

As Real Estate Professionals with a combined 30 years of experience in The Boston Market, we are here to answer your questions, help you weigh your options, and always give you honest advice. Please feel free to contact us anytime for a free real estate consultation or to answer your questions. The knowledge is free! We are here to help and serve.

By, Betsy Herald

QR Codes in Real Estate

Tuesday, October 11th, 2011

I think that at this point, it is safe to say that we have all seen the little scan-able bar codes on advertisements and for sale signs. Have you ever scanned one? Do you even own a smart phone that can? Do you even know what they are? For those of you who answered “no” to that last question, they are QR codes, which is short for “Quick Response codes.” The idea is basically, if you have a QR code scanner on your smart phone (which is a free app), where ever you see a QR code, all you have to do is snap it with your phone and you’ll be sent to a webpage with details on whatever it is that the code was printed on. In the case of real estate, this means that just by scanning a QR code on a for sale sign outside of a property, you could be sent to the price, square footage, condo fees, and all other useful information about the property instantly to your phone.  When you think about it that way– it is really no wonder why QR codes are considered among the gold standards for mobile marketing.

However, how many people are actually utilizing them to their full potential?  And who are these people? “Thirty-five percent of adults own a smart phone, according to the Pew Internet Project, making the QR technology available to them.” (Source) but that that mean they use it? Although some people definietly remain skeptical or in the dark about QR codes, there has certainly been a boom of them in the last year or so. Now, “Scanbuy Inc., a New York company that develops and manages QR codes, processes 1.2 scans a second, every second of the day, or more than 100,000 scans per day globally. (When the smart phone app scans the code, it acts like a hyperlink, taking the user to a webpage.)” (Source).

And, who is doing all this scanning? “Men are bigger scanners than women (60.8 percent), and people with household incomes of $100,000 or more scan more than lower earners, according to comScore. Scanning is also a young person’s game. Those 25 to 34 scan more than people between 35 and 44, who scan more than those in the 45-to-54 group, and so on. Only 2.9 percent of scanners are 65 or older.” (Source) So, does this make the codes a logical addition to sales listing signs? Possibly.

Have you ever scanned one? After reading this– will you? And from a marketing perspective it is important to think about the fact that a QR code takes up a little amount of space on an ad, but the potential punch it can deliver is large.

Saving for a Down Payment

Friday, September 9th, 2011

Piggy backing on the most recent post, I would like to discuss with you the first step to buying, when you do decide that the time is right for you. If you are like most people, you won’t have 10-20% of the price of a home sitting in cash in your savings account, especially when you are a first time home buyer without any substantial equity. So, how do you do it? Of course with an FHA loan, it is possible to only put 3.5% down, but that means that your monthly mortgage payment is substantially higher. In an ideal situation, you have enough saved in order to be able to put 20% down, and then your mortgage payments with a 30-year fixed loan are manageable.

Sounds great, right? It’s certainly easier said than done. So, how do you do it? ZillowBlog has some clear steps and here they are:

1. Figure out how much you need to save

Many websites have calculators that will allow you to figure out how to achieve your ideal monthly payments, how much you need down, what the interest rate would be, and how the money would be broken down. Using a calculator like that, or talking to a finance agent who can walk you through your situation.

2. Seek Expert Advice

Especially if you have a poor credit history, or have had problems in the past with credit or spending problems, seeking the advice of a financial planner is highly recommended.

3. Set up a separate savings account

It’s far too easy, with the advent of online banking, to transfer funds from a savings account to a checking account when they are linked. Setting up a separate savings account that you can transfer money into, but not out of easily, you won’t spend it as much.

4. Set up an allotment or automatic transfer from one account to the other monthly

When the amount going into your account, even when you spend down to zero, is less then you will spend less. When the money is out of sight, it is out of mind.

(Source)

Good luck savers!

The Importance of Staging

Wednesday, August 10th, 2011

This morning I was watching Get It Sold on HGTV while getting ready for work, and it inspired me to write about the sheer importance of staging a home that you’re trying to sell. I know it’s a common topic, and that I have written about it before but it is more a part of my life now than ever before. Recently, one of our sale’s agents had a client that listed an empty home. Reluctant to spend the money on staging, they marketed and showed it empty.  Without selling it after time, the seller agreed to lower the price and to stage it.  This cost the seller significantly more than just staging it in the first place. The lesson learned is that buyers cannot visualize their lives in a space that doesn’t have specific assignments for rooms and coherent design elements. This is the message that Get It Sold was POUNDING home this morning.

There is nothing more important than the first impression, they say that typically buyers decide if they want to buy a place within 30 seconds of being inside. This means that the curb appeal and entry way must not be left out of your staging efforts. (Sometimes staging the living spaces including the kitchen, bathrooms and bedrooms takes precedence). Walking up to your home, buyers notice everything, so be very attentive to details.

If the task of staging your home is too daunting for you to take on by yourself, it is best to hire professionals. There is rental furniture companies specifically for staging. If you’re feeling up to the task, here are expert tips.

Good luck!

How to make your Listing Sell

Wednesday, June 29th, 2011

The keys to selling a property efficiently and for the best price in today’s real estate market are sometimes tricky. Today, you are competing with foreclosure and short sale prices in addition to every other home for sale (not to mention for rent).  In my opinion, 2 main ingredients are necessary on top of competitive and aggressive pricing and a stellar local listing agent to host open houses, produce marketing materials and navigate today’s turbulent housing market for you.

1. Proper staging. I cannot tell you how important having a welcoming, productive set up in your home is. (There are even multiple shows on HGTV devoted to this). Clearly giving every room a purpose will aid buyers in being able to visualize their lives in the space. A completely empty home is almost as bad as a totally cluttered one. Speaking of, decluttering and depersonalizing is vitally important, but there is such a thing as too declutterd. There is a fine line between lack of character and lack of personalization. You want there to be a consistent design sceme throughout the home, which makes it all look usable and unique, but you don’t want anything that describes a specific person too much (i.e. an orange accent wall). The $1000 it would take to replace light fixtures and get a new coat of paint will be worth the it because when the right buyer comes in, they’ll know imedietly (as most buyers decide within the first 30 seconds within a property whether or not they’re interested).

2. Innovative and strong online presence. Today is a world of online shopping. When was the last time that went to a restaurant or a store, or gone to see a movie without googling it first? Those are just small investments. Nobody goes to see a home for sale without googling it. Buyers want to see high resolution photos of everything! Not including photos of a restroom or kitchen will make the buyer assume something is wrong with them, and they’ll move on quickly. Beyond taking professional pictures of all the spaces (that are beautifully staged), placing the unit information in as many locations as possible is essential. Web site domains names are inexpensive and important when it comes to getting word out about your listing. Including simple ways to contact the listing agent, neighborhood information, downloadable fact sheets, etc. is important.

These are starts to getting the job done well and quickly in today’s hard “buyer’s market”. Obviously, there are no guarantees when it comes to selling, but these keys will certainly help you unlock that sale sooner rather than later.

Boston’s BOOMING Rentals

Monday, June 13th, 2011

I recently attended a panel discussion hosted by Link Boston in an absolutely stunning unit on the 26th floor of the new building in downtown Boston, 45 Province. Here is a view from one of the floor to ceiling windows in the brand new 3+ bed, 3 bath unit:

Suffolk Construction, First Republic Bank and Gentle Giant Movers were all present, and helped contribute to the event. Many Realtors and developers were also in attendance, and the conversation was focused on “Building Boston.” Specifically, the future of new construction in the city.

I will preface my recap of the discussion with two things. 1. Boston is by far one of the healthiest markets in the country right now. 2. Rentals versus sales is a cyclical process.

With that said, Boston is all about the rentals right now…luxury and otherwise. The BRA, Boston Redevelopment Authority, has approved many developments of late, and they are almost exclusively rental housing. A lot of people just aren’t in a position to buy right now, but just about everyone wants to rent. (However, many of the rental units being built are being designed so that perhaps someday they could be converted into condos).

So, the first thing we know about the Modern Bostonian is that they want to rent. What else? Since buildings are being designed and built for them right now, it is important to understand the culture of these target clients and create something for them that reflects their culture– complete with its values and expectations from housing. Here is a list the Modern Bostonian’s priorities:

Number 1: Fitness center. Gone are the days when a few treadmills in the corner of a building’s poorly lit basement sufficient for a rental building. It used to be that people would be able to justify a unit saying, “Oh, I’ll work out if I live here…” and then forget about it. Now, it is absolutely essential for there to not only be a fitness center, but it needs to be large, well lit, front & center and state of the art. It all boils down to the Modern Bostonian needing to see and be seen. Which leads to…

Number 2: A club room: a place for people to communicate, connect, relax, see and be seen. People will accept less space in their unit if there is an attractive common area for them to interact with others.

Number 3: No parking. The Modern Bostonian is no longer dependent on parking. Therefore, gone are the days of 1.7 spaces on average per unit. The Modern Bostonian lives right next to work, likes a walk and isn’t afraid of a taxi. I hate to say it, but it’s moving towards the NYC lifestyle in some parts.

Number 4: Service. People want service in their rentals: cleaning, food, maintenance, etc. The Modern Bostonian, and people in general, like to feel like they are getting a lot for their money.

Number 5: Environmentally friendly. The Modern Bostonian loves solar panels, rain barrels and HE appliances.

Now that I’ve talked about the residential market, we see some of the same trends in the commercial buildings.  Although Boston’s market is healthier than most, it is in no position to build a brand new high rise office building. However, we are already seeing changing office spaces. Today, they are more open than ever.

No longer are we seeing private “corner offices” surrounded by other closed off spaces on a building where the higher up in floor number you are, the more powerful your influence is. Today’s offices are opening up. In the spirit of collaboration and cooperation, people are interacting in one large open space where ideas can flow and people can talk. Interestingly, as a result we are also seeing a shift in office furniture design. New, modern, streamlined & airy designs are taking precedence over large, dark, bulky wooden installations.

I am excited to see what happens down the road. As buildings continue to pop up around Boston, I am looking forward to seeing the new styles and cultures. This city is evolving and changing in response all of the new dynamic forces that continue to shape the values and expectations of the Modern Bostonian.

Is it Really Time for Magic-Makers?

Wednesday, June 1st, 2011

Recently I watched a documentary on the History Channel about the dust bowl during the Great Depression, called Black Blizzards. I learned that when a town was desperate enough for rain its officials would gather everyone’s last pennies and spend them on self-proclaimed ‘rain-makers.’ These ‘rain-makers’ would come to town and use different forms of magic or science claiming that it will bring rain despite the drought. Of course, nothing of what they did actually brought rain. Sometimes the rain-makers and town got lucky, but there is very little, if not nothing, to prove that the relationship between the rain-makers’ demonstrations and the rain itself was causal.

However, it is an interesting commentary on human behavior that when there are no obvious solutions to a devastating problem, that magic is called.

We are all aware of the state of the real estate market. While the economy is said to be recovering, people are still arguing that the housing market is uncertain at best. Therefore, it should not come as too large of a surprise to read in The Boston Globe that real estate professionals are starting to turn to witches to bless the houses before trying to sell them.

Personally, I think that it is a wasted effort, it is not witches that will bring back a booming real estate market in this country. What do you think? Is there something to be said for the supernatural?

(Josh Reynolds for The Boston Globe)

Read more here, and the photocredit: http://t.co/IUPRwTB

C’mon Spring!

Monday, April 4th, 2011

Although spring time seems to get further and further away, the spring housing market is underway.

According to The Globe, Brokers expect a competitive market this spring. With more buyers than listings in Boston, and housing prices and interest rates at an all time low, this is the time to buy — and everyone knows it.

As the economy continues to improve, buyers are scouring listings, often finding themselves in bidding wars. The Globe article cautions sellers, however, not to get too greedy even with multiple offers. Properties tend to loose their shine, and the more days on the market, the less attractive the property is to buyers.

For details about this phenomenon: http://bo.st/ei1lcj

Things are Finally Looking Up

Wednesday, February 23rd, 2011

Mass. home sales rose in January.

Click on the link above and be informed about this market… it’s not as bad as it seems. Let me know what you think. Thanks!