Posts Tagged ‘Realtor’

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

Cash Deals in Massachusetts

Tuesday, October 4th, 2011

So far this year one third of the homes purchased in Massachusetts were bought in cash– mortgage free. In an economy that is known for its down market- why are we seeing this? Possibly because the only people who have enough assets to buy in this economy are the ones who would buy in cash anyway? Or maybe it’s a reaction to the new, firm, and constricting guidelines surrounding mortgages. Or perhaps it’s the volatile stock market that has investors searching for more tangible and stable ways to invest their money. “Brian Bethune, an economist at Amherst College, said wealthy buyers may want to take advantage of deep discounts in the high-end market rather than watch their money flounder in stocks and bonds.” (Source).

Whatever the reason, the trend is not isolated to Boston. “Across the nation, about 31 percent of all August home sales were in cash, the second highest percentage since February, when it reached nearly 34 percent, according to a survey by the Maryland-based trade publication, Inside Mortgage Finance.” (Source).

Many people are buying in cash: investors picking up run-down properties to either flip or fix up and rent, foreign buyers, empty-nesters that are down-sizing and moving into the city who can buy a condo with the profit from the sale of their suburban home, or wealthy parents buying their kids a condo to live in while they go to school in the area.

Regardless of the reasons, this is atypical and remarkable percentage of cash purchases, and an impressive increase after 22% in 2010 and 20% in 2009.

The story was published on the front page of the Boston Globe and can be found here: Source.

691 Massachusetts Avenue

Tuesday, September 27th, 2011

This is just to inform you of a gorgeous new development in the South End at 691 Mass Ave! The finishes are stylish and very high end and the prices are very affordable! There are 1, 1+ and 2 bedroom homes available. Indoor and outdoor parking is also available for purchase. More details can be found at 691MassAve.com. You can also read up on Boston Home’s article about it here.

Thinking of Buying?

Tuesday, September 6th, 2011

September 1st is a BIG day in the Boston rental market. Everyone is moving out and in and the streets are crowded with moving trucks. If you resigned you lease and you are going to be paying rent on the same unit for another year, you might be thinking to yourself right now that maybe it’s time to actually buy something. What is the advantage to owning your own home? Of course there are many of them, but some to bare in mind from an article on Realty Times are:

1. It might be more upfront, but it will save you money. Long-term home ownership can save you a lot of money in the scope of your life.

2. Budgeting. What we have seen a lot of this season in Boston, is rent increase from year to year. If you want to be sure that you are spending the same amount on housing for an extended period of time, one good way is a fixed-rate mortgage!

3. It’s yours! The security and freedom that associated with owing your own property means that your get to paint, remodel, improve and reap the benefits yourself for as long as you would like. Additionally, “Most homeowners are in neighborhoods with other homeowners, meaning more time to build relationships and friendships. Recent studies have also shown that homeowners rank themselves as healthier than their renter counterparts.”

4. “Tax Breaks: They’re not on the chopping block just yet. Many homeowners are still able to take the mortgage interest deduction (MID) each year, along with great rebates and credits associated with upgrades made to your home.

5. Equity: When you pay a landlord, it’s money down the drain. When you pay on a mortgage, you are paying towards owning a piece of something. You may still owe $100,000, but perhaps the home is worth $200,000. This means you have $100,000 worth of equity you’ve built up over time.” (Source).

Buying homes is more doable now than it has been in recent times. Prices and interest rates are low, and sellers are desperate to sell. If you are thinking about it, you can use this interactive calculator to see if it makes sense for you.

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.

Rents going up, up, and up.

Wednesday, June 15th, 2011

As many brokers and tenants seeking units have noticed, rents are on the rise and available units are on the low. It is the laws of basic business: low supply+high demand=high prices. Landlords have been recognizing larger potential earnings from their units and 5-10+% increases haven’t been unheard of. After seeing much of this first hand in the Back Bay market I was not surprised to read the same in an article by Jane Hodges on msnbc.com.

These rental hikes have been felt by tenants coast to coast. Tenants often find themselves arguing with landlords over raises and search for other options only to find out rents have been raised everywhere else too. Although we’d all like more for less, the market is challenging tenants wallets. However, rents are always rising. If you put off another year, you may see another 5-10+% increase. So although it may not be the price you want, it could save you money going forward.

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.

Virtual Staging

Monday, May 16th, 2011

Does airbrushing a model in a magazine offend you? It probably does, but it’s so known and expected that the images that the “mass media” is asking us to buy into are altered to be perfect, that it’s not a real big deal anymore. So what if the images of a property are altered? What if they are altered electronically before including them on listing sheets, MLS and other ad and listing services? Software is being developed that allows people to, with a click of a mouse, to change a wall color, delete an old couch and replace it with a new, posh one in a different part of the room. Add some paintings, put down hardwood, decorate with plants and fun lamps and you have a whole new space. For no conventional staging costs and no heavy lifting. The actual, physical property itself remains unaltered.

Is this OK? I mean, is it false advertising? It is, on one hand, demonstrating the potential of the space, but what a let down it would be to arrive in an ugly space when you were expecting a staged one. From the point of view of a real estate professional, it is key to accurately represent a property. In fact, “Real estate professionals are not allowed to make a home up to be something it’s not. If a consumer views an image of a home in a way that it’s not, that may be considered misrepresentation of property…. Real estate agents may even be in violation of their Code of Ethics if they in fact use altered images, without the physical changes made in homes they represent, in their marketing materials.”

What do you think? Do the potential costs of the virtual staging outweigh the coolness and potential benefits? In a world that is moving progressively towards an online-centric environment, would people just eventually learn to accept that the images are a reflection not of the real space in a home, but of an electronically altered, “perfect space”? I guess it comes down to redefining norms; changing what is expected. I don’t know how long it will take this, but nothing ever stays static for too long in this day and age.

photo and quote from: http://bit.ly/j3Q3q8

Exciting New Development Planned for Somerville

Monday, April 11th, 2011

“Davis Square Partners said it is prepared to break ground on the $52.5 million Maxwell’s Green development in Somerville.

The project site consists of 5.5 acres of property and is slated to feature 199 rental residential units along the anticipated extension of the MMTA’s Greenline through the city’s Davis Square. Construction is expected to commence in May and be complete by 2015.”

It’s still a new topic, and so I wasn’t able to find any more details online about the development, but it’s still exciting!

Read more: Residential developers to break ground in Somerville | Boston Business Journal