Buying and Selling in this Market

Buying and Selling a Home
Housing Market Forecasts

Last month it was reported that the 2018 National Housing Forecast indicated promising news for both buyers and sellers in the year ahead. When looking to purchase or sell a home in this current market, there are various timely facts to consider:

1. Low interest rates
The standard 30-year mortgage currently hovers at just above 4%, which is still historically low.

Realtor.com® reports that rates are projected to steadily climb by the end of 2018.

2. Demand remains high with tight inventory
It’s still a seller’s market in many parts of the country with Realtor.com reporting that unsold inventory is at a 3.2-month supply at the current sales pace, which is the lowest level since the National Association of Realtors® (NAR) began tracking in 1999. It’s not surprising then that anxious home buyers are driving-up prices in demand for housing.

3. Steadily increasing home prices
Realtor.com states that median existing-home prices for all housing types in December was up 5.8 percent from December 2016. The price increase marks the 70th straight month of year-over-year gains. For home buyers sitting on the fence, perhaps it’s time to jump-in before prices and interest rates possibly make entering the market more challenging. Home buyers should come prepared with pre-approved financing and the ability to make a quick purchase decision.

4. Consumer confidence is high
Consumer confidence hit its highest in 17 years this past November, according to the Conference Board’s index released last month. This is a result of low unemployment and stock market spikes that are anticipated to continue strengthening the economic foundation in 2018.

Market Action Reports – Boston and surrounding suburbs

Middlesex County

Barnstable
• Bristol
• Essex
• Franklin
• Hampden
• Hampshire
• Norfolk
• Plymouth
• Suffolk
• Worcester

• Boston
02113-North End
02115-Fenway
02116-Back Back
02118-South End
02130-Jamaica Plain
02210-Seaport
02114-Beacon Hill
02108
02129-Charlestown

 

 

If you are interested in selling your current property or purchasing your dream home, please let me know, I’m always here to help……..and look to helping you with your next steps!

Choosing the Right Agent for You

Buying a home is one of the most rewarding experiences any of us will ever have. It can also be one of the most challenging. Professional expertise and services can be a big help throughout the buying process.

If you’re buying a home for the first time, the process may seem overwhelming. And even if you’ve been through it several times, every move is different, and presents new challenges. This is why we recommend finding an agent affiliated with Coldwell Banker who’s an expert in your area.

Cpldwell Banker
Coldwell Banker is the largest Real Estate Company in the Word

One clear advantage is that you don’t have to go it alone. A good agent has the training, knowledge and experience to help you through each step of the process. This makes the process of finding, buying and moving into your new home as smooth, quick and enjoyable as possible.

Another advantage is that an agent is a valuable source of information about market trends, communities and neighborhoods, particularly regarding homes for sale in the area. Remember, not every home seller runs an ad in the local paper or puts a sign up in the yard. In fact, many homes actually sell before there is ever a need to advertise them.

In addition to market insight, your agent can provide access to complete, regularly updated information about every home listed by area agents through the Multiple Listing Service (MLS).

Finding the right agent

The key word here is “right.” While there’s certainly no shortage of qualified agents affiliated with Coldwell Banker to choose from, it’s important that you find one who can fully understand your wants, needs and individual tastes, and whose personal and professional judgment you respect.

Today’s buyers have more options when it comes to choosing the agent who can best represent them in a real estate transaction. Until recent years, virtually all real estate agents worked for the seller. Now, a growing number of buyers work are represented by a “buyer’s agent.” Most real estate companies throughout the U.S. have both a buyer and seller agency.

Before establishing a working relationship, the agent should present you with a disclosure statement. This explains what a buyer’s agent is and does, what a seller’s agent is and does, and what “dual agency” means. It is very important to remember that real estate firms are governed by state laws. These can vary, so disclosure laws may also vary.

We suggest talking to several different agents before choosing one. Below are some guidelines on what to look for.

Choose an agent who:

  1. Makes you feel comfortable.
  2. Knows the community and can point out schools, parks, playgrounds, shops and more.
  3. Can show you more of the homes available throughout the area.
  4. Subscribes to at least one Multiple Listing Service (MLS). This will give you access to information on approximately 90% of all homes for sale in the community.
  5. Has the products, services, and know-how to find the home right for you and market your present home for a faster, more profitable sale.
  6. Can offer you protection against unexpected repair bills in your new home.
  7. Can offer you warranty protection on your new home.
  8. Listens to your needs and responds as a friend, showing as much interest in your satisfaction as in making the transaction.

Once you’ve chosen an agent and started looking at homes, tell the agent everything you liked and didn’t like about each home. Point out the home’s shortcomings: Is it too small for your needs? Was the home perfect except for the carpeting? Details like this will help your agent narrow down the search.

Bear in mind, however, that real estate agents are frequently paid by the seller. The seller’s agent is obligated to help secure the best price for them. In addition, agents working for the seller may report any information you share with them to the seller, such as a willingness to pay a higher price. This is why you may want to be represented by a buyer’s agent, who will keep your input confidential. A buyer’s agent puts the interests of the buyer first, not the seller’s.

The Complex Psychology of Buying a Home

Homes come with far more emotional weight than any other investment we make.

Our home is a refuge from the world, a place to raise your family, layered with memories and cherished belongings.  We fall in love with a home the way we never would with a stock portfolio.

It’s so easy to get caught up in the physical features of the houses you’re considering.  However, please stop to contemplate how the places you’re interested in would shape your families social relationships, both within and outside the family. One of the biggest tradeoffs is commuting.  People focus on a home that’s a certain size style, or town ignoring the fact they want to spend as much time as possible with family.  That “Perfect” house may require a longer commute, keeping them away from home for an extra hour or two each working day!

Additionally, when looking at affordability, please include the costs of any renovations or new furniture you may need / want.  When you’re thinking about a house, think about  furnishings and remodeling costs at the same time. More importantly, please keep in mind whether you’re buying in a higher or lower housing market.

I always advise my buyers not to extend themselves. “Never be house poor!”  You never know how some “event” will affect the economy or your family.  Also, if you have children sometimes they get quite expensive.  They could be the next Olympic gymnast requiring extensive training or possibly they may have special needs with costly medical expenses or necessary supports.

Home Sweet Home
Buyer’s Psychology: Home Sweet Home

 

Dr. Robert Shiller, a professor of economics at Yale wrote an analysis of housing prices and associated spending –

To quote his abstract:

“We re-examine the links between changes in housing wealth, financial wealth, and consumer spending…observing the thirty-seven year period, 1975 through 2012Q2. Using techniques reported previously, we impute the aggregate value of owner-occupied housing, the value of financial assets, and measures of aggregate consumption for each of the geographic units over time. We estimate regression models in levels, first differences and in error-correction form, relating per capita consumption to per capita income and wealth. We find a statistically significant and rather large effect of housing wealth upon household consumption. This effect is consistently larger than the effect of stock market wealth upon consumption.

The results presented here with the extended data now show that declines in house prices stimulate large and significant decreases in household spending.

The elasticities implied by this work are large. An increase in real housing wealth comparable to the rise between 2001 and 2005 would, over the four years, push up household spending by a total of about 4.3%. A decrease in real housing wealth comparable to the crash which took place between 2005 and 2009 would lead to a drop of about 3.5%.” Shiller – Wealth Effects Abstract – p. 2013

He wrote about recent home buyers around the country and their expectations on future values of their homes.  He also found most home buyers have very high long-term price expectations.  This could lead to someone buying a home not because it’s a good fit, but because a buyer deems it as a good investment. Some even plan on using the equity in their homes to fund their retirement.  Remember, you still need a place to live in retirement!

Stay conservative my friends!!

 

Coldwell Banker / Realogy “World’s Most Ethical Companies”

Realogy Named as a 2016 World’s Most Ethical Company by Ethisphere Institute for Fifth Year in a Row

Realogy Holdings Corp. (NYSE: RLGY), COLDWELL BANKER’S Parent company has been recognized by the Ethisphere Institute, the global leader in defining and advancing the standards of ethical business practices, as a 2016 World’s Most Ethical Company®.

This is the fifth consecutive year in which Realogy has received this recognition. The World’s Most Ethical Company assessment is based upon the Ethisphere Institute’s Ethics Quotient (EQ) framework developed over years of research to provide a means to assess an organization’s performance in an objective, consistent and standardized way. The Ethics Quotient framework is outlined in the above chart.

2016 Most Ethical Companies
Scoring & Methodology 2016 Most Ethical Companies

Realogy Holding Corp, COLDWELL BANKER’S Parent Company, is a global leader in real estate franchising and provider of real estate brokerage, relocation and settlement services. recognized by The World’s Most Ethical Companies designation recognizes those companies who align principle with action, work tirelessly to make trust part of their corporate DNA, and, in doing so, shape future industry standards by introducing tomorrow’s best practices today. Realogy is one of just 131 companies in the world honored this year and is the ONLY residential real estate company to  make achieve this honor.

As a COLDWELL BANKER real estate agent, we are required to take Ethics and Fair Housing refresher training courses every 2 years. Honesty and Integrity and critical values, constantly reinforced.

“We are once again honored to be recognized by the Ethisphere Institute as being among a select group of world-class companies focused on ethical leadership,” said Richard A. Smith, Realogy’s chairman, chief executive officer and president. “We take great pride in creating a company culture that places a premium on ethics and integrity. We believe that sustainable and trustworthy companies can only be built upon a strong ethical foundation.” “Our leadership position in our industry is based on the quality of our people and their commitment to our core values, which include acting with integrity, delivering on promises and making a positive difference in our communities,” said Elisabeth Gehringer, Realogy’s chief ethics and compliance officer. “Our employees understand that they play a key role in ensuring that our company culture is infused with ethical values.”

Healthy Home – Radon

WHAT IS RADON?le

Radon is a naturally occurring odorless, colorless, tasteless radioactive gas produced by the decay of uranium and radium in the ground.  It percolates up from the soil. Because it’s a gas, radon can move into water or air.

Radon is present outdoors and is normally found at very low levels in the outdoor air and waters of our rivers and lakes.  It can be found in much higher levels in enclosed spaces like your home or private well.  Once inside enclosed spaces, radon can accumulate.  Hence, radon levels inside tend to be much higher than those found outdoors. Due to the geological makeup of our region, it is estimated a quarter of Massachusetts homes may be at risk for high levels of radon.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has classified the states counties based on radon potential.  This chart shows Middlesex, Essex, and Worcester counties have the greatest risk for high levels of radon. I’ve also included a map of the US.

US Radon Map
US Radon Map

 

HOW SERIOUS IS RADON?

Radon is a carcinogen. It is the leading cause of lung cancer among non smokers, and the second leading cause of lung cancer overall. There are many sources of radiation, however radon is the largest.

Radon undergoes a radioactive breakdown, decaying into other radioactive elements resulting in the release of subatomic alpha particles. These stick to surfaces such as dust particles.  If this contaminated dust in inhaled, these particles adhere to the airways of the lungs overtime damaging the cells. It is estimated radon exposures cause 21,000 lung cancer deaths each year in the United States.

The EPA has established an action guideline, recommending mitigation for residences with radon concentrations at or above. 4.0 picocuries per liter of air  (pCi/L)

RADON TESTING

Radon testing is simple and inexpensive.  Radon test kits can be purchased at your local hardware store, on Amazon, online.  Kits typically cost between $10 and $40.  You want to get a kit with 2 vials as you’re checking for consistency.  Place both vials next to each other. Read the instructions on the kit carefully.  These tests are timed.  A typical test takes at least 48 hours.  Reseal the vials, note the vial numbers and mail back to the testing lab. Your results should be available on line 2-3 days after the lab has received your kit.

Radon Test Kit
Accustar Radon Test Kit

If you’re buying a home, it is important you make radon testing part of your inspection.  Most home inspectors can test for radon. Some inspectors have continuous radon monitors, providing hourly radon levels.  These cost a bit more than the vial kits, however your results will be available immediately after the 48 hour required testing time.

If your home tests over 4.0, don’t worry!  Mitigation systems typically get the levels under 2.0 pCi/L.

RADON MITIGATION

The process to mitigate is relatively simple. A method called active soil depressurization is typically used. A zone of low pressure is created below the slab, reducing the rate radon enters the home.  A fan and piping is installed sucking radon out from under the foundation and venting it into the atmosphere.  A system typically costs between $1,200 to $1,800.  Your homes design, size, and foundation may impact the systems cost.

After your system is installed, it is important to retest for radon.   Please give your new system a few days to clean the radon out.

Radoy System Monitor
Radon System Monitor

Also important – the radon mitigation system is a vaccume system.  Your systems pipe moving radon from your foundation to the outside air will have a tube of colored water.  The levels on both sides of the tube should be uneven.  This indicates the system is working.  IF both sides are even, please call a mitigation contractor.

New Construction Homes – Bedford & Lexington MA

A LOOK AT NEW CONSTRUCTION HOMES IN BEDFORD AND LEXINGTON –

Any Bedford resident has noticed the growth in new construction. Every neighborhood has someone building something!

In the past 12 months, 20 new construction homes sold in Bedford! That’s a 54% INCREASE over 2014.
The average new construction home price increased 8%,from $1,140,100 to $1,233,000.
These homes also sold about 2 weeks quicker in 2015! Bedford existing home sales were up 5%, with the ASP barely increasing.

BEDFORD – All Single family sales 2015
Total units sold – 156 units +20%
Total Days on Market – 66 +3%
Average Sales Price – $785,700 +11%

In contrast, Lexington’s more mature new construction market,was basically flat. With 74 new home sales in both 2014 and 2015 and an ASP of $1,620,000 for both years. The only bright spot was homes sold on average 30 days faster.
Backing out new construction sales, Lexington existing home sales were up 5% to 313 units, selling 4% higher.

LEXINGTON – All Single family activity 2015
Total units sold – 387 units +5%
Total Days on Market – 70 +4%
Average Sales Price – $1,149,000 +3%

Both towns benefit from top ranked schools, proximity to major highways & downtown Boston. Bedford has done some tightening on building regulations recently. We’ll see 2016 new construction slow down a bit.
Interest rates should remain affordable however so we project the strong housing market will continue!