Home Values 2015 – What is My Home Worth Now?

With housing prices climbing and inventory shrinking in most towns, I get a lot of questions from clients who are afraid to make the wrong decision when it comes to real estate.

  • Should I wait until things calm down to buy?
  • When should I sell to get top dollar?
  • Is this a bubble? What if I buy and prices tank in a couple of years?
  • Where is the best place to buy?
  • Should I wait to sell? With prices going up I don’t know where I can buy when I downsize (or upsize)

As with most questions in life, the answer is – it depends.  What I will say is this is not a bubble.  10 years ago WAS a bubble caused by banks giving loans to nearly anyone with a pulse.  Since then, the market has gone through its normal cycle of dipping (hard), then climbing back up.  Over time those dips and peaks translate to an upward trajectory of housing prices.

Back in 2010 Boston Magazine created a table of median prices from the peak of 2005 to the slump of 2009 to the beginning of the recovery in 2010.  They also showed the 10 year cycle from 1999 – 2009.  They did this to illustrate that the slump had ended.

To help answer your questions today, I have added the information for median prices today and for 2014.  I have analyzed the market movement from the 2005 peak to today, from the 2009 slump to today and from last year to this year.

HIGHLIGHTS

The bottom of the last slump was 2009.  Of the 180 towns surveyed, only 5 towns are still in the negative from 2009.  Overall, the median growth since then is 20%.

Who were the big winners?  The increase over 10 years is more important than the largest one year increase because it shows how a neighborhood performs over time.  No surprise that the long haul winners are Back Bay, South End and Cambridge.

Largest One Year Increase

Town 2015 2014 One Year Change
2014 – 2015
–Roxbury Condos $449,950 $305,000 47.52%
– Back Bay Condos $1,150,000 $888,500 29.43%
– Charlestown SF $980,000 $770,000 27.27%

 

Largest 10 Year Increase – Peak to Today

Town 2015 10 Year Change
2005 to 2015
– Back Bay SF $8,500,000 211.93%
– South End SF $2,525,000 104.45%
Cambridge SF $1,362,500 104.12%

 

Largest Increase from 2009 Slump to Today

Town 2015 Change from
Slump (2009)
to Today
­­2009
–Roxbury SF $495,000 263.97% $136,000
–Mattapan Condos $143,500 143.22% $59,000
–Dorchester Condos $343,000 118.12% $157,250

 

So, if prices will continue to go up, why sell?  For all the reasons anyone sells – you need to downsize or upsize, or move away for a job, or sell because of a family change.   A house is not a stock investment.  It is the place where you live your life.  If your life circumstance changes, so should your home. Unless you are moving to a different market, what you are going to buy will be going up at the same or faster rate than what you own now.  Most boomers have visions of moving into the city.  If that is your dream, look at the chart and figure out if the neighborhoods you want to live in are growing at a faster rate than where you live now and you will see that waiting is likely not working in your favor.

Challenged Markets

Beacon Hill is hardly challenged.  Over the 10-year period from 2005 – 2015 the median price of a single-family in Beacon Hill is up 28%.  The numbers swing quite a bit on houses in the high-priced neighborhoods because so few sell and the prices are so high.

The clearly challenged market overall is Hyde Park condos.  Yet even those prices are double what they were in 1999.  Given a long enough period of time, everything comes back up.  From 1999 to 2015, all towns grew in value, the least being 25%.  The most being, no surprise, Back Bay Single Family homes at 524% growth.  The median growth is 80%.

So if there are any renters out there wondering if it makes more sense to buy, I would say that if you think you will be moving around, continue to rent.  If you are sticking around for a while, buying will help you to float upward with the real estate market.  Otherwise, expect that dream to drift farther and farther away as real estate prices outstrip your income growth.

Largest One Year Decrease

Town 2015 2014 One Year Change
2014 – 2015
-Hyde Park Condos $156,000 $264,900 -41.11%
Merrimac SF $322,500 $395,000 -18.35%
– Beacon Hill SF $2,552,500 $3,175,000 -19.61%

 

Largest 10 Year Decrease – Peak to Today

Town 2015 10 Year Change
From Peak
(2005) to 2015
2005
-Hyde Park Condos $156,000 -45.64% $287,000
–Mattapan Condos $143,500 -36.22% $225,000
Randolph SF $260,000 -25.71% $350,000

 

Largest Decrease from 2009-2015

Town 2015 Change from
Slump (2009)
to Today
2009
-Hyde Park Condos $156,000 -15.45% $184,500
Halifax $257,693 -7.97% $280,000
North Attleboro $300,500 -6.53% $321,500

 

EMC / Dell Deal – Potential impact on Real Estate

There is no  question that the Dell $67B purchase of EMC will have an impact on commercial real estate in Hopkinton.  EMC is the largest holder of commercial real estate in the area.  But they also employ roughly 9,000 people in the towns of Hopkinton, Franklin, Marlborough, Milford and Southborough – with the majority in Hopkinton.  Although they have announced that the combined enterprise systems business headquarters will remain in Hopkinton, any merger means consolidation of jobs and, almost always, a reduction in the number of employees, while relocating others.  It is too soon to say what that impact will be, but if you are looking to buy in these towns, I would keep abreast of progress on the merger.  If you live in one of these towns and are thinking of selling, sooner might be better than later.

For more information, check out EMC’s press release here – http://www.emc.com/about/news/press/2015/20151012-02.htm

Michelle J. Lane

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

Great Entry Level home in Needham! $485,000

541 Central Ave

This adorable 4-bedroom, 2-bath Cape is an awesome entry-level home with huge potential. First floor has living room with fireplace, dining room, kitchen, 2 bedrooms, a full-bath and a heated enclosed porch with phenomenal views of the back yard. Upstairs has two more bedrooms and another full bath. The walk-out basement has high ceilings and great potential to be finished. There is gas on the street. With your updates or expansion this house can fit a family comfortably for years to come. The GORGEOUS, huge back yard abuts conservation land and offers the oasis you would want in your own piece of land. Close (0.7miles) to the center of town, the T, shopping, etc. Easy access to major routes.

More Info Here

CONTACT ME for a showing.

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

What Sells a House Today?

House with HostasWhile the timeless key factors of location, lot and layout are still important, condition is rapidly rising higher in importance.  In decades past, buyers did not shy away from handyman specials, seeing homes that needed work as an opportunity to add sweat equity to their home’s value.  Well, not so much today.   Boomers were the product of parents and grandparents who lived through the austerity of the depression – knowing how to do everything yourself was a necessity for those generations. So they taught their children, the Boomers home repair skills.  But we didn’t pass them on to our children. Instead, we sent them to college.  So, for the most part, the new generation of home buyers does not want a house that needs work.   And frankly, neither do Boomers anymore.  If someone in their 50s or 60s is buying a house today, they typically have lived through fixing up a house or two, or three and are tired of it.  They want to enjoy their retirement years in a house that is not constantly in need of repair.   The trend for all generations is not to be weighed down by the demands of our houses and to enjoy the time we have on this planet.

Reason #2.  Buyers don’t have money left over after purchase to shell out for repairs.  It takes everything a home buyer has to buy the house.  There is no money left over to pay contractors.  With today’s interest rates, it is easier for a buyer to take on a larger mortgage than it is to gather enough cash for renovations.

Reason #3. Buyers don’t have the time or know-how to manage contractors.  Most couples are both working to pay that mortgage, so no one is home to manage the contractors.  And with the demographic of many greater Boston area buyers being international, you have a population of buyers who don’t know any contractors they can trust.

So I am seeing that buyers would rather get in a bidding war on a a house that is in excellent condition and pay a good deal more for it than they would for a house that is in fair or poor condition.  For example, I recently sold a house in Newton that was a 1,500sf 2-bedroom Cape for well over asking price.  Aside from having only 2 bedrooms, the house did not have all the amenities buyers expect today – master bath, granite counter tops, a children’s play room.  So you would think it would not sell so fast or for so much over asking.

But what it did have was absolutely immaculate condition.  Everything looked freshly painted, not a nick, scuff, or spot of lumpy paint anywhere.  The walls and trim were in the condition you would have imagined they were when the house was built in the 1930s.   Nothing was broken, cracked, loose or dingy.  The house gave the impression of being meticulously cared for.   And lastly, the house was so clean you could have eaten off of every surface.  Although it did not have the granite counter tops we all seem to love, it also did not have the dated elements that buyers seem to find most offensive – Hollywood lights in the bathroom, old wall-to-wall carpeting in non-neutral colors, tiles from the 70s – 90s that no one seems to like, brass fixtures in the bathroom ,etc.  if you have these things, work on getting them upgraded.

I have to say it was a joy to sell this home. All the buyers who came to the Open Houses commented on the condition and even the home inspector raved about the house. I am seeing more and more that the homes in excellent condition are selling fast while larger houses in the same price range in fair condition do not.

So, If you are thinking you may be selling your house in the next year or two, then you should have a game plan for getting your home in the condition necessary to have it sell for top dollar.  If you would like our Guide to Preparing Your Home for Sale  Contact Me for a copy.

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

What’s My Home Worth? – 2015 Edition

Housing Costs

With housing prices climbing and inventory shrinking in most towns, clients who are afraid to make the wrong decision when it comes to real estate ask a lot of questions about where the market is headed…

  • Should I wait until things calm down to buy?
  • When should I sell to get top dollar?
  • Is this a bubble? What if I buy and prices tank in a couple of years?
  • Where is the best place to buy?
  • Should I wait to sell? With prices going up I don’t know where I can buy when I downsize (or upsize)

Back in 2010 Boston Magazine created a table of median prices from the peak of 2005 to 2010 to illustrate that the bottom of the slump hit in 2009.  They also showed the 10 year cycle from 1999 – 2009 to demonstrate how prices normalize over a real estate cycle.

To help answer all the questions clients ask about the market, I have created a new chart by adding the information for median prices today and for 2014.  This chart analyzes the market movement from the 2005 peak to today, from the 2009 slump to today and from 2014 to 2015.  I have also added in a few towns where my clients have bought that were not in the Boston Magazine chart.

To see the full chart, click here – What is My Home Worth Now? – 2015 Edition

 

Highlights

10 years ago we experienced a bubble caused by banks giving loans to nearly anyone with a pulse.. Since then the market has gone through its normal cycle of dipping (hard), then climbing back up.  Of the 180 towns included in this chart, only 5 towns are still in the negative from 2009.  Overall, the median growth since then is 20%.

Who were the big winners?  The increase over 10 years is more important than the largest one year increase because it shows how a neighborhood performs over time.  No surprise that the long haul winners are Back Bay, South End and Cambridge.

Largest One Year Increase

Town 2015 2014 One Year Change
2014 – 2015
–Roxbury Condos $449,950 $305,000 47.52%
– Back Bay Condos $1,150,000 $888,500 29.43%
– Charlestown SF $980,000 $770,000 27.27%

 

Largest 10 Year Increase – Peak to Today

Town 2015 10 Year Change
2005 to 2015
– Back Bay SF $8,500,000 211.93%
– South End SF $2,525,000 104.45%
Cambridge SF $1,362,500 104.12%

 

Largest Increase from 2009 Slump to Today

Town 2015 Change from
Slump (2009)
to Today
­­2009
–Roxbury SF $495,000 263.97% $136,000
–Mattapan Condos $143,500 143.22% $59,000
–Dorchester Condos $343,000 118.12% $157,250

 

So, if prices will continue to go up, why sell?  For all the reasons anyone sells – you need to downsize or upsize, or move away for a job, or sell because of a family change.   A house is not a stock investment.  It is the place where you live your life.  If your life circumstance changes, so should your home. Unless you are moving to a different market, what you are going to buy will be going up at the same or faster rate than what you own now.  Most boomers have visions of moving into the city.  If that is your dream, look at the chart and figure out if the neighborhoods you want to live in are growing at a faster rate than where you live now and you will see that waiting is likely not working in your favor.

Challenged Markets

Beacon Hill is hardly challenged.  Over the 10-year period from 2005 – 2015 the median price of a single-family in Beacon Hill is up 28%.  The numbers swing quite a bit on single-family houses in the high-priced neighborhoods because so few sell and the prices are so high.

The clearly challenged market overall is Hyde Park condos.  Yet even those prices are double what they were in 1999.  Given a long enough period of time, everything comes back up.  From 1999 to 2015, all towns grew in value, the least being 25%.  The most being, no surprise, Back Bay Single Family homes at 524% growth.  The median growth is 80%.

So if there are any renters out there wondering if it makes more sense to buy, if you are sticking around for a while, buying will help you to float upward with the real estate market.  Otherwise, expect the dream of home ownership to drift farther and farther away as real estate prices outstrip your income growth.

Largest One Year Decrease

Town 2015 2014 One Year Change
2014 – 2015
-Hyde Park Condos $156,000 $264,900 -41.11%
Merrimac SF $322,500 $395,000 -18.35%
– Beacon Hill SF $2,552,500 $3,175,000 -19.61%

 

Largest 10 Year Decrease – Peak to Today

Town 2015 10 Year Change
From Peak
(2005) to 2015
2005
-Hyde Park Condos $156,000 -45.64% $287,000
–Mattapan Condos $143,500 -36.22% $225,000
Randolph SF $260,000 -25.71% $350,000

 

Largest Decrease from 2009-2015

Town 2015 Change from
Slump (2009)
to Today
2009
-Hyde Park Condos $156,000 -15.45% $184,500
Halifax $257,693 -7.97% $280,000
North Attleboro $300,500 -6.53% $321,500

When to Buy, When to Sell

As I mentioned, you should sell when your life circumstances drive the need to sell….your house is too big, you need to buy a bigger house, you are getting divorced, or you have a job transfer.  Trying to time it so that you sell just before prices soften is a game you won’t win.  And, unless you are moving away from this area, the rest of the market will rise or dip with the value of your home.

What you should watch out for is rising interest rates.  The higher the rate, the less Buyers can afford, including you as you move from one home to another.  If rates continue to climb, it may be time to make that move.

The chart may help you make your plans.   If,  like most Boomers, you dream of moving into the city, but the neighborhood you want to move into is growing by double digits while your suburban town is not, then your dream is slipping farther and farther away.  If that is the case, you will either need to make a move soon or you may have to expand your vision of where in or around Boston you would live.

I do feel vindicated my prediction last year that East Boston would be the next place to keep an eye on came to fruition.  While East Boston is still affordable, condo prices rose by 20% over the past year.  So I would say if you are unsure if you should buy or sell, or where to move, Contact Me and we can discuss your plans in greater detail.

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

 

Homes Sold in Newton MA – Week of May 18, 2015

I hope you are enjoying this beautiful Memorial Day weekend with your loved ones.

The best way to understand the value of homes in Newton and which way they are trending is by looking at what has sold, for how much, and whether it went for above or below asking price.  The sales for this week are below.  I should clarify that a sale means the deal has closed.  So the actual offers on these properties were make roughly 6 weeks ago.  This is not the same as what went under agreement, which will be in my next post.  With homes that went under agreement, we cannot know what they sold for until they close in about 6 weeks.

As you can see, the trend continues that houses under $1M are still going strong and getting into bidding wars.  Those over $1M are still selling for right around their asking price, some are going over, but not at the same percentage as the under $1M inventory.

Email Me if you are looking to buy or sell a home in Newton.  I am glad to help.

96 Harding 96 Harding Street
West Newton
2 Beds, 1.5 baths
Living Area: 1,380
Sale Price: $646.108
Asking Price $589,000
Days on Market: 8
46 Jerome 46 Jerome St
West Newton
3 beds, 2 baths
Living Area: 1,478
Sale Price: $712,000
List Price: $649,000
Days on Market: 6
131 Waban Hill North 131 Waban Hill Road North
Chestnut Hill
3 beds, 2 baths
Living Area: 1,768
Sale Price: $950,000
List Price: $899,000
Days on Market: 1
7 Shorncliffe 7 Shorncliffe Road
Newton Corner
3 beds, 2.5 bath
Living Area: 1,732
Sale Price: $1,025,000
List Price: $997,988
Days on Market: 18
104 Manet 104 Manet Road
Chestnut Hill
3 beds, 3.5 bath
Living Area: 2,858
Sale Price: $1,250,000
List Price: $1,195,000
Days on Market: 31
43 Woodcliffe Rd 43 Woodcliff Road
Newton Highlands, MA
6 beds, 2 full, 2 half
Living Area: 3,906
Sale Price: $1,210,000
List Price: $1,199,000
Days on Market: 7
703 Chestnut 703 Chestnut Street
Waban
6 beds, 3.5 baths
Living Area: 2,850
Sale Price: $1,445,000
List Price: $1,500,000
Days on Market: 9
525 Hammond St 525 Hammond St
Chestnut Hill
4 beds, 3.5 baths
Living Area: 3,672
Sale Price:$1,785,000
List Price: $1,575,000
Days on Market: 29
17 Rachel Road 17 Rachel Road
Newton Center
5 beds, 5 baths
Living Area: 5,107
Sale Price: $1,650,000
List Price: $1,699,000
Days on Market: 69
45 Colbert Road East 45 Colbert Road East
West Newton
5 beds, 3.5 baths
Living Area: 3,870
Sale Price: $1,800,000
List Price: $1,799,000
Days on Market: 4
155 Hobart Rd 155 Hobart Road
Newton Center
5 beds, 5 full baths, 2 half
Living Area: 6,240
Sale Price: $2,850,000
List Price: $2,995,000
Days on Market: 313
Michelle J. Lane
MICHELLE J. LANE, Realtor
Century 21 Commonwealth
CELL: 617 584-3904

2015 Remodeling Cost vs Value – Which Improvements Make Sense?

Realtor Magazine just did their assessment of this study and the best point they made is that First impressions are important. The replacements that offer the greatest payback are the ones that are most obvious to buyers when they first view a house in person or online, such as new door or garage door. Siding replacement also provides great value at resale

 

Will Hosting the 2024 Summer Olympics Boost the Boston Housing Market?

Now that Boston has won the only US bid for the Olympics (we are still up against 4 European cities) it raises many questions – how much will this cost taxpayers?  Where will they put everything?  What is it going to do to traffic?  As a real estate agent, I’ll focus on the most relevant question – what will it do to home values in Boston?  I’ll use Atlanta as our reference point as that is the last time the Summer Olympics was held in the US.  Utah is the last time we hosted the Winter Olympics.

The comparison is not apples-to-apples when you consider that Atlanta was in need of revitalization at the time. Boston is already a thriving city with a very robust housing market.

The most notable change for Atlanta was Centennial Park in the heart of the city which brought people and economic development back to what was a rundown downtown area.   Boston already has many venues that bring people and tourists downtown – the Freedom Train, the Commons and Public Gardens and Faneuil Hall, not to mention all the colleges.

The downtown population of Atlanta has increased from 3.5M to 5.5M in the 20 years since the Olympics were held, arguably in part because of the Olympics, but the growth was already on a steady trajectory.

However they did see slightly stronger than average growth in the years leading up to the Olympics as construction workers flooded into Atlanta for the work and many stayed.

Atlanta Populaton

Below is a chart of projected population growth for Boston through 2030.  These numbers were calculated by the UMass Donahue Institute in Nov 2013 long before the Olympics was a consideration.

Boston Population

I would even conjecture that the growth could be greater than this as I now see more and more Baby Boomers selling their suburban homes and moving into the city.

Housing Prices

Atlanta home prices rose by about 1% more per year than the national average in the five years running up to the 1996 Games. However, since then, they dropped and have only just started coming back.  Atlanta’s home prices are below the level they were in May 1999 (at an index level of 95.8). But after recent improvement, they are above a recent low in March 2012 (the index was at 82.54). At that point, home prices were at the same point they were during the 1996 Olympics. (from Ajc.com)

Would Boston prices rise in anticipation of the Olympics?  Very likely – in particular areas.  Once people know for sure that we have won the bid for the Olympics and know the locations where the venues will be built, both homeowners and investors will want to buy properties in those areas.  Cities that host the Olympics typically pick a part of town that is either run-down or underdeveloped to build the permanent structures such as stadiums and housing.   That makes those the areas with the greatest possibility of upside.

The sad reality is that Atlanta also cleared out the poor and homeless.  Atlanta evicted 6,000 people from public housing to tear it down.  Although the city had given some Section 8 vouchers, many were still without public housing years later.

The homeless were given one-way tickets back to their families or to Augusta.  New laws were implemented making pretty much anything a homeless person would do illegal – sleeping on a bench, entering a parking lot, etc.  Citations were given to over 9,000 people. Once arrested, these people were ineligible for public housing.

On a side-note – a shout-out to our local Ropes & Gray who were hired by MATF – a task force who helped five homeless men file a federal lawsuit against the city of Atlanta. The city settled with those 5 men and a judge ordered the illegal arrests be stopped.

All this pushing out of the poor makes way for gentrification and rising home prices.  However, I hope that Boston will not stoop to those measures to beautify areas visible to Olympic visitors.

Who Else Will the Olympics Hurt?

The Olympics could also wind up costing taxpayers in two ways.  The Boston Olympic committee is already talking about the need to upgrade the T.  And who can argue it needs to be upgraded after the past couple of weeks of breakdowns?  But we all know who is going to pay for these improvements.

Homeowners, particularly those whose homes are near the venues could wind up paying higher taxes.  That is what Atlanta did, basing it on the theory that those people most benefited from improvements.

Renters – During the time leading up to the Atlanta Olympics, renters were given notices telling them that they would need to move out for three months or pay an additional $3,000 in rent.  Now you would think you can’t do this to someone who has a lease and, in Massachusetts, you cannot.  But trust me, the management companies and landlords have enough advance notice to not grant any leases that run through the Olympics.

Not to mention rents will go up in the years leading up to the Olympics as construction workers flood into the area to work on what will likely be several billion dollars in construction projects.  That alone is a compelling case for buying a house before then if you are a renter.

Who WILL the Olympics Help?

Construction Companies – the Atlanta Olympics generated over $1B of construction projects, from housing for athletes to Olympic Venues.

Student Housing – A summer Olympics typically hosts over 10,000 athletes.  The city will most definitely have to build that housing as there is no venue with that much free space today.  Atlanta wound up turning over the athletes’ housing to Georgia Tech for dorms.  If Boston did the same, that would definitely help alleviate the shortage of student housing in Boston.

The Hospitality Industry – Hotels, Restaurants, etc.  At least for those weeks of the Olympics.

Starbucks – Remember the pent-up demand at the Sochi Olympics?  They were not an official sponsor so people had to, and did gladly, leave the housing and venues in search of Starbucks and NBC got a secret outlet installed in their media center.

Entrepreneurs – those who are clever enough to figure out ways to make money off the influx of visitors.  See above re Starbucks.  Figuring out how to get people what they need and want is the key.

Final Note on Renting out Your House

Since this is somewhat real estate related, I’ll tackle this one.  During the Atlanta Olympics people were renting out apartments at the rate of $165 per bedroom and single-family homes for as much as $2,000 a night.  Mind you, that was 20 years ago so rates would be higher now – probably at about the same rate of a comparable hotel room.  But that would only be if the over 50,000 hotel rooms and 37,000 dorm rooms are not enough for all the visitors.  And if your home is in a location convenient to the venues.

If you want to go this route, plan on leaving your house for the summer as these renters will want the entire house and won’t want to be your roommate.  Also be prepared to:

  1. Remove Your Valuables from the home.
  2. Buy Extra Insurance
  3. Pay Lodging Tax

I’ll cover this more in a future blog post if Boston wins the bid.

You have time to figure all this out and make your strategic real estate moves.  Final bids are due in January of 2016 so it will be a while before we know if Boston will host the 2024 Summer Olympics.

If you have questions in the meantime, you know who to call!

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

Post Foreclosure Aftermath

This is an important article to share given the number of foreclosures that have happened in recent years.

http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/10/14/us-usa-housing-foreclosures-insight-idUSKCN0I30BU20141014feedType=RSS&feedName=businessNews

The gist of it – banks are looking to enforce delinquency judgements on people who have foreclosed in recent years, with Fannie Mae being the most aggressive.  People are being surprised by large judgements for foreclosures they thought were behind them.

Even if you have moved on from your foreclosure and rebuilt your life, they can still get a judgment against you. To what degree depends on the state of your foreclosure. Details here http://www.cga.ct.gov/2010/rpt/2010-R-0327.htm

For those of you in Massachusetts, they can get a judgement against you, but they must notify you 21 days before the foreclosure sale date of your home.

In CT, they can without giving notice.

The good news is that the larger banks – BoA, Citi, Wells Fargo and JP Morgan don’t typically go for delinquency judgements. Frankly, the banks should not be doing this given they got billions in the bailout. AND that they caused the problem in the first place by giving out untenable loans.

My advice – if you do get a notice, read up on the code for your state, then contact an attorney. I know you won’t want to spend the money, but better a few hundred or thousand dollars to get representation than to get a judgement against your for tens of thousands. if the bank is successful in getting a judgement against you, they can levy your bank accounts and garnish your wages, crippling you financially and dragging down your credit score yet again.

If you find yourself in foreclosure now, there is no shame in it.  The economy is still tough and will be for a while longer.  The best thing you can do is to talk to an attorney now to see what the ramifications will be if it goes that far.  Also, to speak to a Realtor to see if you can salvage some equity out of your house by selling before it is too late.

Want to talk about selling your home? Feel free to contact me.

Michelle J. Lane

Michelle J. Lane
Century 21 Commonwealth
CELL: 617 584-3904

Buying a Home in the 2014 Spring Market

by Michelle J. LaneImage

This spring proves to be even tighter than last year.  If you refer to my blog post on Selling a Home in the Spring 2014 Market, you will see a chart that shows the trend of homes on the market in Newton from Jan 2012 through today.  You will see that inventory was extremely tight in 2013 and that trend is worsening in 2014.

The key points that Buyers will want to focus on are:

  • Where to Start Your Online Search – hint do not use Zillow or Trulia.
  • Learn the Market for the Towns of Interest
  • Get Your PreApproval Lined Up
  • Be Prepared for a Bidding War (or several)

Where to Start Your Search Online

The best scenario is to have your Realtor set you up in MLS to have listings that meet your criteria sent to you via email.  That way you see everything new as soon as it comes on the market.

In addition if you want to search online, I would advise that you not use Zillow and Trulia.  Why?  Because the data from MLS gets pushed out to these sites.  This information lags behind the MLS.  It can take up to 48 hours for the information to propagate to these sites.  It seems to take even longer – sometimes months – for homes to be marked as Under Agreement or Sold.  So I often get clients asking me why there are homes they don’t get from the MLS appearing on these sites.  Other sites to consider – Realtor.com, Century21.com, etc.  It is important for us to work closely together so that I can let you know when homes come on the market that match your criteria come on and so that we can get to see them before the disappear!

Learn the Market for the Towns of Interest

It is important to know how the towns you are looking in are trending in terms of Prices, Inventory Levels and Days on Market.  The best source for this information is your Realtor.  However, if you want to do some exploration on your own, check out Boston Magazine’s Chart of Single-Family Home Prices and their Chart of Condo Prices.  When you find a house you love, I can tell you whether that house is overpriced or is a home you can expect to get into a bidding war on.

Get Your Pre-Approval Lined Up

There is no such thing as making an offer on a home that won’t require you to have a solid Pre-Approval.  And there is a lot more work involved in getting one  these days – tons of paperwork to dig up and provide to you lender.  Also, if you will be getting gift money from family, that needs to be lined up well before you make an offer on a house.  Your family will need to show they had that money in their accounts.  Banks frown on last-minute movement of monies.

Be Prepared for a Bidding War

Odds are, with the tight inventory, you will get into a bidding war…and lose…then get into one or two more before you land a house.  The more you brace yourself for that possibility, the better prepared you will be to get into the battle and win.  We will definitely strategize as you find homes you love.  That strategy will involve talking about price, terms and timing of your offer to make it as attractive as possible to the sellers.  For more information, check out Boston Magazine’s How to Win a Bidding War article.

Want to talk about selling your home? Feel free to contact me.

Michelle J. Lane

Michelle J. Lane
Century 21 Commonwealth
CELL: 617 584-3904