Spring Home Sale – Using the Winter Months to get Ready for a Spring Sale

Spring Home Sale

You will likely have seen a lot of good checklists on what to do to get your home ready for a spring home sale.  Most of those, however, focus on general cleanup and staging right before you go on the market. There is a lot to do before you even get to that phase. So below are action items you can start now while you are waiting for the spring selling season. 

Get Rid of Hazardous Waste and Junk in Basements, Attics, and Garages.  This is one of the top stressors sellers encounter as closing date approaches.  Movers won’t take them. And they are impossible to get rid of at the last minute unless you are willing to risk breaking the law and mother nature by tossing them in your regular trash.  Buyers do not want you to leave them behind, so don’t count on that.  If you visit my Seller’s Blog Page on www.michellelanerealtor.com or the www.newtonma.gov web page, you can find more information on how to dispose of hazardous waste and bulky trash items.

Get Rid of Furniture that You won’t be Keeping or Using for Staging. This is another stressor for sellers at the end of the sale process.  Charities who take used furniture will only take furniture in good condition and pickup needs to be planned weeks in advance. If you are not taking the furniture to your next home and your Realtor (me) tells you it is not worthy of being used for staging, then start planning now for it’s removal.  It is especially good to do this BEFORE you touch up paint on the walls.  My team can help you find the charities that will take your unwanted furniture and household items.

If  you are going to Need a Dumpster, Get it Now.  It doesn’t look appealing to buyers who are driving by your house before the first open house to see a dumpster in front of it.  Plus, it is too stressful to be doing all that at the last minute. So best to do this early. 

Inventory the Work that Needs to be Done around the House.  We all get used to the little flaws around our house – screens with holes in them, doors that don’t shut, locks that don’t work, cracks in the walls and windows.  We learn to live with them because they are a nuisance to fix.  The buyers also think they will be a nuisance to fix, so not only will they will call you out on these things, but it will impact their estimation of the value of the property.  

Get a pre-listing Home Inspection.  Clients often ask if they should have a presale inspection and my answer is – it depends.  If you are not going to fix anything the inspector finds, then you may want to get the inspection just so you know what you will have to negotiate post buyer inspection. But if you have no money to make any of the repairs that come from the inspection, knowing everything that’s wrong with your home will mean you are obliged to disclose all those problems to potential Buyers. If you can fix things like asbestos, mold, leaks, malfunctioning mechanicals before a spring home sale, then get an inspection and take care of those things before you put your house on the market.

Get a pre-listing Survey.  Maybe.  Surveys are not cheap – roughly $1,500.  But if you suspect a neighbor’s fence, shed, stone wall is encroaching on your property, better to find out and deal with it now rather than have your sale fall apart.  Plus, Buyers will be psyched to have that survey in case they want to put in a fence or such after moving in.

Look up Permits for Your Home. Once a client signs a contract with me, my team does this for you.  But if you want to get a head start, look up your home with the city to see if there are any open permits.  Buyers will insist that you have them closed out, which may mean bringing in the appropriate contractor.

Line up Contractors. Contractors are notoriously difficult to line up any time of the year, but nearly impossible to pin down in the spring when everyone wants work done.  So, once you have inventoried what needs to be done, start lining up the contractors now while they have the time to come out and give you quotes and get you on their calendar.

Figure Out How Much You Can Afford to Spend on Preparing the Property. And where you will spend it.  Aside from the repairs already mentioned, the biggest bang for the buck is spending the money on:

  1. Spackling and Painting in neutral, modern colors.
  2. Refinishing Floors or Replacing Carpet
  3. Changing Light Fixtures

Lighting makes an incredible difference to how a home looks to potential buyers. I can’t tell you how often people make commentary on lighting and light fixtures in homes on the market. 

Start Collecting Up Boxes.  You will never have enough boxes so start accumulating them now. You can get them from stores, on Facebook Yardsale groups or buy them at UHaul.

Donate Stuff to Charity.  If it is not going with you to the new home and not needed for staging, get it out of the house now.  My team can help you find charities that will take your donations.

Line Up Where You Will Store Extra Stuff While the House is On the Market. Perhaps you have things that you will take to the next house, but they are not necessary for selling this house – extra toys, books, clothes, dishes, etc.  Figure out now where that will be stored – relative’s house, storage unit, POD and line that up now so you are not stressed as the time to list your home approaches.   

Inventory Major Mechanicals and Improvements.  Buyers always ask these questions:

  1. How old is the furnace, hot water heater, roof, windows, etc. Look that up now.
  2. How old are the appliances? Are they under warranty?
  3. If you have an oil furnace, have it serviced. Buyers look for those service tags.
  4. If you made improvements, give your Realtor (me) information on when all those were done.

Dig up Your Paperwork on the House.  Your attorney, your agent and buyers are going to ask a lot of questions, so start digging out the paperwork now: utility bills, tax bills, mortgage details, survey and rental contracts.

Thin out Closets and Storage Areas. Buyers will open your closets.  So, they should look like IKEA closets – sparse and organized.  Same for the kitchen cabinets.  If they are crammed full of stuff, the buyer gets the subliminal message that there is not enough storage in the house.  Which means you will have some packing up to do.  If you have expensive shoes, coats, purses, those should be taken out of the house and stored someplace safe.  If you are still using them, do this as you get closer to listing the house.

Discuss Staging with Your Realtor (me).  An early discussion with your agent on staging will help you determine what to toss and what to keep.  My service is unique in that we offer partial to full staging of the home either free or at a reduced cost, depending on the extent of staging required.  An early discussion will help you know what I can stage for you and thus, what you can pack or toss.

Michelle J. Lane

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

 

Getting Your Home Ready to Sell – Disposing of Things that Cannot go in Regular Trash Collection

This information is for those of you who live in the City of Newton.  If you don’t live in Newton and want the information for your town, just ask!

There are so many things to do to prepare a home for sale.  Then, once it is under agreement, a whole new set of To-Dos to get ready for closing.  Many home sellers don’t think about disposing of all the stuff they are not taking with them until they are packing to move which causes undue stress and can even hold up a sale.  So, to help those of you who will be selling this spring, the follow is useful information on the disposal of large bulky items and hazardous waste.

Some products which have been considered hazardous in the past can now be disposed of with the regular trash. These include:

  • Alkaline batteries made since 1994 (AAA, AA, C, D and 9 volt)
  • Smoke detectors
  • Latex paint (dried out or with sand or kitty litter to solidify) OR bring usable (less than 3 years old) paint to the Latex Paint Exchange at the Recycling Center
  • Soiled bandages in plastic bags, securely fastened
  • Driveway sealer (latex or oil based, with lid off)

As you may know, the City of Newton will take up to 5 large bulky items (rugs, mattresses, etc.) per week on your normal collection day.  You just need to call by 3:30 on the business day before your collection.  You can schedule online by clicking 311 on the home page.  Or you can call the main number at (617) 796-1000.  You should start doing this weeks before your closing so that you can get everything removed before the day of closing.  Buyers don’t appreciate when there are large pieces of furniture and junk out front on the day of the closing and can even ask you to remove them before closing.

The city does not take construction materials such as cinder blocks, bricks, pieces of wood, old toilets, etc. To dispose of building materials, you would need to rent a dumpster or hire a junk removal company to take the materials away.

They also do not take TVs, Metal or Plastic as part of bulk pickup.  TVs and metal items can be picked up curbside or dropped off at the Recycling Center for a fee which you must pay online in advance.  Appliances can be dropped off for free or picked up curbside for $25 per item. MassSave will pick up working old refrigerators and freezers and give you a $50 rebate!

Large pieces of cardboard, plastic and metal for recycling can be dropped off for free at the Recycling Depot.

Hours and Address of Recycling Center
Monday-Saturday from 7:15am-2:30pm*
Closed on Sundays and Holidays

Located at 115 Rumford Ave, Auburndale, MA 02466 

There are many options for donating household items, clothing, and other useful items.  Too many to name here, so I will provide those in the next blog post.  Feel free to reach out to me if you need that info now.

2018 HAZARDOUS WASTE DAYS

First Saturday of the month and Third Thursday of the month – which are the following dates:

  • February 3rd
  • February 15th
  • March 3rd
  • March 15th
  • April 7th
  • April 19th
  • May 5th
  • May 17th
  • June 2nd
  • June 21st

 

MATERIALS ACCEPTED AT THE RECYCLING CENTER

The full list can be found here –Materials Accepted at the Recycling Center and includes things like paint, items containing mercury, batteries, auto products like oil and outdoor items like pesticides.  Please be a good custodian of mother earth and recycle these items instead of throwing them in the regular trash!

Stay tuned for more blog posts on getting your house ready.  If you are thinking of selling your house and want to go over all the step to get ready, reach out to me and I will be glad to help.

Michelle J. Lane

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

What the House Tax Proposal Will Mean to Homeowners

By Michelle J. Lane, Realtor

By now, you have heard a lot about the House tax reform proposal (HR.1) and may be wondering how it will impact you as a homeowner and what the real estate industry is doing to protect your interests.  At a high level, those changes are:

  • Mortgage Interest Deduction is capped at a loan balance of $500,000.
  • Real estate tax deduction is capped at $10,000.
  • Tenure for Capital Gains deduction moves up from 2 of the last 5 years to 5 of the last 8.
  • Eliminates the Moving Deduction

How will this impact homeowners in the greater Boston area?

Cap on Mortgage Interest Deduction

Currently, the mortgage interest deduction is capped at a loan balance of $1,100,000. Under the House proposal, the cap would fall to $500,000.  The change applies to future impact future home buyers as the proposal maintains the cap of $1,100,000 on existing homeowners.  This will impact a great percentage of Massachusetts homeowners, particularly those in and around Boston. To make matters worse, the $500,000 cap is not indexed to inflation or home price growth, so over time, more homebuyers will be pushed into this category.  The plan would also limit the mortgage interest deduction to one principal home, ending any deductions for vacation homes.  It also will not allow you to deduct the interest on a home equity line.

Cap on Real Estate Tax Deduction

As drafted, real estate tax deductions are capped at $10,000 and that figure also is not indexed to allow for growing home values or tax rates over time.

Capital Gain Tenure

Currently, to claim the exclusion from capital gains, you must have lived in your house for 2 of the last 5 years.  This has been important to people who rent out their homes during a relocation for example. Under the House plan, a home seller will now have to have lived in the home for 5 of the last 8 years to claim the exclusion from capital gains. This will impact any home owner who sells in less than 5 years after buying their home. Roughly 20% of homeowners sell in 5 years or less due to divorce, relocation, or upsizing their home.  Imagine how this would impact those in the military.

This change would force people to hold onto their homes longer and intensify the low inventory problem.  

In Summary

Aside from these changes directly impacting real estate, the House proposal will eliminate the state and local income tax deduction.  This directly impacts all Massachusetts taxpayers who file a Schedule A for itemized deductions. Combined with the limitations on the real estate tax and mortgage interest deductions, this could push many people out of the ability to file itemized deductions.

To counterbalance these changes, the personal exemption will go from $6,350 to $12,200.  However,  the plan eliminates the deduction for dependents.  For homeowners in the greater Boston area, even with the increased personal exemption, the reduction in itemized deductions will result in a negative financial impact.

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) estimates that the impact of these changes will reduce home values by 10%.

The NAR is taking several actions to address these concerns.  They are spending millions from the dues we Realtors pay to lobby for changes to these provisions that harm home ownership.  NAR is also investing in ad campaigns in many markets to raise awareness.  Lastly, they are asking us Realtors to reach out to our representatives to express our concerns. 

This plan has not yet passed through the Senate, so there is still time for you to get involved. If you wish to reach out to your representatives, you can do that here – Take Action

And, of course, if you have any questions on all these, please ask.

Michelle J. Lane

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

Boston Magazine’s Public School District Rankings – 2017

The link to the full chart can be found here – Boston Magazine’s School District Rankings 2017

The Top 10 contains the usual suspects with Newton coming in at #7.   But you can sort the list by criteria that matters to you.  For example, sorting on High School graduation rate shows that Lynnfield is  #1, while Medfield is #1 in number of graduates going on to college.  You can use the chart to see where your town lands in all these categories or to evaluate towns you are considering as a place to buy a home. 

  1. Dover-Sherborn
  2. Condord-Carlisle
  3. Weston
  4. Lexington
  5. Wayland
  6. Westford
  7. Newton
  8. Wellesley
  9. Manchester-Essex
  10. Harvard

Michelle J. Lane

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

 

Spotlight on Lowell

April 26, 2016

So today I did Jury Duty in Lowell.   I’ve been there before, with my friend/client Laura Roberts, who shares my love of grand, older homes. We went on a roadtrip last year to see a particular beauty.  But I hadn’t been to Lowell Center.  I have to say the center is very quaint with the majority of the area consisting of small brick and stone storefronts from the 19th century.  I was pleasantly surprised as I never thought of Lowell as being so quaint.  In my mind, it was a former mill town that lost its reason for being (the mills) and had become a shadow of its former self akin to the Rust Belt.   

The truth is that Lowell is true to itself in that it still has a robust population that is roughly 50% immigrant, who work primarily in construction and industry.  It has not become a ghost town.  The population has, in fact grown by 5% over the past 10 years or so to about 110,000.

So why am I so curious about Lowell?  Because they have some amazing, grand old homes that can still be had for reasonable prices compared to most of the Greater Boston area.  Yet it only took me 35 mins to get from Newton to Lowell.

For a sampling of what your money can buy – here are the most grand houses on the market in Lowell today.

 

 

Beyond the awesome houses, Lowell does have a lot to offer.  An MBTA commuter line, the Merrimack River, a National Park, Universities, Hospitals. The crime rate is reasonable and declining every year.  It is about half what it was 15 years ago and less than the national average.  And I must say that everyone in the courthouse was very nice!

What it doesn’t have is great school rankings.   So it may not be ideal yet for young families looking for a city with good schools.  

As I took a break from Jury Duty, I passed a woman who was shouting to an invisible adversary and then I was approached by a panhandler.  So not exactly gentrified yet.  But I do wonder if it could be down the road as Boston and the surrounding area become too cost prohibitive.  This tight spring market is pushing prices up ever higher and is pricing people out of the area immediately surrounding Boston. 

Lowell would be great for Boomers like myself,  who don’t really want to downsize their homes but would like to cut costs in retirement.  Or for young couples who don’t plan on having children but want a nice big house not too far from Boston.

Michelle J. Lane

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

 

Welcome Spring!

April 16, 2017

First, I want to wish all of you who celebrate Easter a wonderful day with your family today, I hope that those friends celebrating Passover have been enjoying their time with family this week.  Many of you are on vacation during the children’s spring break, so it is a convergence of all things that give people pause to enjoy time with the ones they love, which, to me, is the most important thing in life.

For those of you looking to find a home, the market will hit full force after everyone is back from their vacations this week.  That is a good and a bad thing.  Good because more houses will come on the market.  Bad because, once again, not enough of them.  So we have to be prepared for bidding wars and scarcity of options, particulary at the entry level.  I’ll go into the details more about the landscape and how we can succeed after Easter.

In the meantime, enjoy your loved ones, the good food, the good times and this glimpse of summer weather!

 

 

 

Michelle J. Lane

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

Congress Proposes Bill that will impact Affordable Housing

The WSJ recently published an article on Affordable Housing being at risk.  To net it out, members of Congress have proposed reducing the Corporate tax rate from 35% down to 15-20%.  Approximately 25% of all new apartment construction in the US is affordable housing.  So this will have a big impact on aaffordable housing.   As banks find these loans less attractive and reduce lending, projects will lose funding.  Investors have already started pulling funding for existing projects.  This will be a real shame for those who most need help finding housing.

Specifically in Newton Mayor Warren has set a goal of adding 800 affordable units by 2021.  This goal could be impacted by less available funding for affordable housing.  Fortunately, Massachusetts has Chapter 40B promote the building of affordable housing.  Basically, the way it works is that if developers allocate a minimum of 20% of the units to affordable housing, they can get a single comprehensive permit and 40B also allows them to override local zoning requirements.   Since those developers can make a good profit on the market value units, they may not be as dependent on loans from banks that are targeted towards building affordable housing.  

Overall, given many poor and working class people’s fears over housing costs, this is a shame because it has not even passed yet and estimates are that the affordable housing market has dropped by $1B.  

 

For more info on affordable housing opportunities in Newton – click here.

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

 

Best Elementary Schools in Massachussets – 2017

Mason Rice School

Mason Rice School, Newton MA

Niche.com came out with their 2017 list of best elementary schools in Massachussets.  Lexington, Newton and Wellesley dominated the list.  Mason-Rice fell from number 1, but is still, the highest ranking in Newton, which is creating demand for housing in that school district.   In all, 9 elementary schools in Newton made it to the top 25.  Great schools, combined with easy access to Boston via the Green Line and the Commuter Rail are really pushing up prices of homes in Newton. 

Here are the top 25 to save you digging through the list:

  1. Lexington – Maria Hastings
  2. Lexington – Bowman
  3. Newton – Mason Rice
  4. Wellesley – Schofield
  5. Lexington – Joseph Eastbrook
  6. Newton – Ward
  7. Lexington – Harrington
  8. Lexington – Bridge
  9. Lexington – Fiske
  10. Wellesley – John D. Hardy
  11. Wellesley – Hunnewell
  12. Newton – Cabot
  13. Belmont – Roger E. Wellington
  14. Wellesley – Sprague
  15. Newton – Angier
  16. Belmont – Winn Brook
  17. Newton – Countryside
  18. Newton – Pierce
  19. Newton – Memorial Spaulding
  20. Brookline – Heath
  21. Belmont – Daniel Butler
  22. Westford – Day
  23. Newton – Bowen
  24. Newton – Lincoln Eliot
  25. Wayland – Claypit

For more details on these rankings, check out the full list here:

2017 Top Elementary Schools in Massachusetts 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Seller Testimonial – Wellesley

Michelle was very supportive and understanding in dealing with a sale of our Mom’s house. Mom is 85 and leaving her home of 58 years so it was a big deal. Michelle also dealt smoothly with two siblings on opposite side of the country. Her communication was responsive, clear and we always felt that she was doing her best for us. There were some ups and downs in finding the right buyer and Michelle kept working her networks to keep us the process which was ultimately successful and we were very pleased with the final price and the overall process. 

Joel Kushner, CA

New to the Market – Gorgeous Newton Upper Falls Townhouse Condo

New to the Market today!  Newton Upper Falls Townhouse condo – 4-bedrooms 4.5 bathrooms.  

72 High Street. $1,389,000.

Gorgeous 3,400sf 4-bed, 4.5 bath, 1-car garage townhouse condo is the product of a to-the-studs renovation by an internationally-awarded local designer. His passion for design is evident in how beautifully the needs of today’s homeowner are blended with architectural details that provide the character and charm that make this a home. The spacious open kitchen/dining area offers gorgeous views and direct access to a patio, an enclosed porch and, beyond that, a deck and the yard. Imagine the parties you could throw! The kitchen is equipped with Viking appliances, Grohe fixtures and a huge island that sits 3-4. Entry way and living room share a double-sided gas fireplace. En-suite master bedroom has beautiful views. One more bedroom and bath on this level and two more bedrooms and a full bath on the third floor. Basement adds a finished room, full bathroom and beautiful mudroom area that is directly accessed from the garage. Stop by an Open House to see all this home has to offer.

Open Houses this weekend Saturday and Sunday  12:00 – 2:00.  Come on By!

Click here for more information.

Michelle J. Lane

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