Archives for March 2016

Buyer Testimonial – Westford

Michelle Lane was referred to me through a friend who had recently used her to help research and purchase a home last year. I had met her through that transaction and instantly felt comfortable with her and knew how hard she worked to provide valuable information to her clients. I was thrilled at he opportunity to work closely with her in the negotiations and purchase of my own home. I would not have felt the same level of trust with another realtor.

Michelle kept in constant communication with me helping me to understand the expectation at each level of the home buying process.

Michelle’s dedication to her job is evident and she fulfills her role with integrity. I felt very comfortable in the negotiations that she initiated on my behalf and feel in the end that I got a very fair deal on my new home.

Linda – Westford, MA

The Housing Shortage by the Numbers

If you are feeling like there are just not enough houses on the market this spring, you are not imagining things.  A recent article on Realtor.com outlined the problem.  In short:

From 2009 (the slump) to today new construction of single-family homes, condos, and apartment units totaled 5.6 million.  Over the same period, roughly 1.7 million housing units were deemed uninhabitable or obsolete and were demolished.  That is a net of 3.9 million houses.

In that same time period, the population grew by 17.3 million.  Given the average household size is 2.5 persons, a total of 6.9 million new housing units would be needed – a shortage of 3 million homes.  So no surprise that home ownership is down 3.7% since 2009.

Add to that the fact that incomes have grown at slow pace – 2% over the past year.  While home prices have risen by 6% in the same time period.

To give a more local perspective, below are some local comparisons from 2009 to today:

  • The median price of a single-family home in Newton grew from $939,000 to $2,124,999.
  • The median price of a condo in Boston grew from $419,900 to $829,000.
  • The median price of a condo in Cambridge grew from $489,500 to $668,000
  • The median price of a condo in Somerville grew from $364,450 to $709,950

The problem has been exacerbated by the fact that retired adults are moving back into the city.  Everyone want to live in walkable neighborhoods.  Typically, these retired baby boomers have the money (in cash) to buy up properties that would normally be bought by young families working in the city making the battle for these limited properties more frenzied.

That is not to say that prices are up everywhere.  Home values follow the jobs.  The farther you are from the Boston/Cambridge mecca of job opportunities, the less likely it is that prices have risen.  For example:

  • The median price of a single-family home in Worcester is exactly the same at $214,900, while condo prices are down.
  • The median price of a single family in a majority of towns outside the Greater Boston area are up about 5% in that same time period from 2009 to today. – from cities such as Lowell to suburban towns like Boxboro, Georgetown, Foxboro, etc.  While that is great for people looking to buy in these towns, it means the possibility of selling in one of these towns and moving closer to the city is drifting off farther into the distance.
If you want to know what has happened to home values in your town, just ask.
All this means that we need more new construction.  A problem that is not easy to solve.  Debates on this topic can be followed in the editorial section of most local papers and no one seems to have the answers.  The cost of land in these towns make it impossible for builders to create affordable houses. 40B is flawed in that a builder must just put aside 20-25% percentage of units as affordable, while the units overall could still be super expensive.
Hopefully, the state, cities and developers will come up with creative solutions – perhaps more development of micro apartments for single adults and clusters of small houses on small plots for seniors or couples starting out.
If the state is smart, they will build more and better commuter transportation so people can live in suburban towns and not feel like they are so far from the action.  These suburban towns may even need to up their game on building centers with more to do and better transportation within the town so seniors don’t need to own a car or have a driver’s license. We shall see what the next few years bring.
In the meantime, it does mean though that home buyers will have to move farther away from the city to get a property they can afford.  Or be willing to buy a home that needs a lot of updating – or both.
If you need help finding a home, just ask.  You can complete this survey to let us know what you are looking for and we will contact you to start your path to home ownership – Home Buying Survey

Michelle J. Lane

MICHELLE J. LANE, Realtor
Century 21 Commonwealth
CELL: 617 584-3904

 

 

 

7 Landscaping Mistakes That Wreck Curb Appeal

Outdoors Landscaping & Gardening Curb Appeal
Don’t let badly designed or maintained landscaping wreck your home’s curb appeal.
Here are pitfalls to avoid.

Clumsy, neglected, and hodgepodge landscaping not only hurts your home’s curb appeal, it can cut the value of your property and make it harder to sell.
Real estate appraisers say bad landscaping is a buyer turnoff that can increase the number of days a property languishes on the market, which also hurts prices.
Even more important, bad landscaping is a downer that hurts the way you see and enjoy your home.
Don’t let bad landscaping happen to you. Here are the seven landscaping mistakes that bust, rather than boost, your home’s curb appeal.

1. Planting Without A Plan
Some landscaping choices, such as a line of begonias, will last a season; others, like trees,
can last a lifetime. So, take time to plan and plot a yard that gives you maximum enjoyment
and curb appeal.
For the design challenged, landscape architects are worth the investment ($300-$2,500
depending on yard size). They will render elevations of your future yard, and provide plant
lists so you can install landscaping yourself.

2. Too Much Togetherness
Yes, planting in clusters looks way better than installing single plants, soldier-like, throughout
your yard. But make sure your groups of perennials, shrubs, and trees have plenty of room to
spread, or they’ll look choked and overgrown. Also, over-crowded landscaping competes
with itself for food and water, putting the clusters at risk, especially during drought.
Google how high and wide the mature plant will be, and then combine that info with the suggestions on planting labels. At first, garden beds of young plants will look too airy and prairie-like. But within three years, your beds will fill in with room to grow.

Remember: First year it sleeps, second it creeps, third it leaps.

3. Zoning Out
Don’t be seduced by catalog plants that look gorgeous on paper but aren’t suited to your
hardiness zone. You’ll wind up with plants that die prematurely, or demand winter covers,
daily watering, and other intensive efforts to keep them alive and well.
Check plant labels to see which hardiness zones are best for your plants.

4. More of the Same
Resist the design temptation to carpet-bomb your yard with your favorite plant or shrub,
which will create a boring, monochromatic landscape. Worse, your yard will look great when
your fave flowers bloom, then will look drab the rest of the year.
Mix things up and strive for four-season color. For example, combine spring-blooming
azaleas with summer-blooming roses and autumn-blazing shrubs — such as burning
bushes (Euonymus alatus). For winter color, try the red osier dogwood (Cornus stolonifera),
a hardy shrub that sports bright-red branches in winter.
Related:

5. Refusing to Bury Your Dead
Nothing wrecks curb appeal faster than rows of dead or dying shrubs and perennials. So
quickly remove your dearly departed landscaping from your front and side yards.
Spent plants that lived their natural lives are good candidates for a compost pile — if you
grind them first, they’ll decompose faster. But if your landscaping succumbed to disease or
infestation, it’s best to inter them in black plastic bags, then add to the trash.

6. Weeds Gone Wild
Weeds not only wreck the look of your landscaping, they compete with pricey vegetation for
water and food. Weeds also can shorten the life of brick, stone, and pavers by growing in
mortar cracks.
The best way to stop weeds is to spread a pre-emergent about three weeks before weed
seeds typically germinate. If you can’t stop weeds from growing, at least get rid of them
before they flower and send a zillion weed seeds throughout your yard.
7. Contain Those Critters
Deer, rabbits, and other backyard pests think your landscaping is an all-you-can eat buffet,
leaving you with denuded branches and topless perennials.
If you’ve got a critter problem:
Plant deer- or rabbit-resistant varieties. Your local extension agent can provide a list of
green things critters won’t eat in your area.
Install an electric fence around landscaping you want to protect.
Spray plants with critter repellent. After a hard rain, spray again.

© Copyright 2013 NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS
By: Lisa Kaplan Gordon

Seller Testimonial – Newton

Michelle did a first rate job. She knew who the best prospective buyers were, and the sale was the easiest of any real estate transaction I’ve ever had.  I tried to sell the house myself initially, but Michelle was able to get me a much better price than I could on my own.

Ted – Newton

Condition and Home Value

I just finished reading an article about improvements that do not impact home value – and could not agree more.  Why?  Because most of these “improvements” fall under the category of maintenance – painting the house, new roof, new gutters, replacing a furnace or A/C, etc.

When you own and love a home over many years, you can become blind to the nicks, scratches, and dings – to you they are just reminders of the lives lived in the home. But deferring maintenance seriously impacts the value of your home.  Location is not everything.

Given industry estimates are that you should conservatively spend at least 1% of the value of your home on maintenance each year, you should assume that after 20 years of not replacing anything major in your home or painting or freshening up, it is worth at LEAST 20% less than the home of your neighbor who has been maintaining their home all along.