Seller Testimonial – Newton

Michelle Lane is a rock star. She went above and beyond to help me sell my dad’s house to settle his estate.

Michelle was very understanding and sensitive to my emotional issues over selling the family home after the passing of both of my parents.

Nice professionally done photography; several open houses

George Pardi, Newton Upper Falls, MA 

Hazardous Waste Disposal for Newton

hazardous

Hazardous Waste Drop Off Days in Newton. Coming up Soon, mark your calendar.

2016 Schedule:
Last Saturday of the month (May – October)
Wednesdays: May 18 – June 29
September 7 – October 12
July 13
August 17

If you are thinking of selling your home anytime in the near future, please do take advantage of these days. Moving companies won’t take hazardous materials to your next place. so hazardous materials is the #1 thing sellers try to leave behind for the buyers.   When the buyers say they don’t want your old paint thinner, lighter fluid, etc,  you or your agent are stuck trying to find a home for this stuff at the last minute, or, even worse, it gets thrown in the regular trash and can cause serious problems for the trash pickup guys or the environment.

The best thing to do is first see if a neighbor could use the stuff.  If not, then mark these dates and dispose of the stuff you know you are not going to use or take with you to your next home.

The Recycling Center is at 115 Rumford Ave and is open 7:30 – 2:30.  You must show a valid proof of residency to use the recycling center.

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

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.

 

 

 

MA Small City Rankings on WalletHub

WalletHub has ranked the best and worst small cities in the U.S.  Lots of positive news for Massachusetts.

Northampton ranked the highest MA town on the overall list at #8.   The rest of the Top 10 are:

  • 14 – Milton
  • 26 – Lexington
  • 105 – Wellesley
  • 120 – Danvers
  • 138 – Saugus
  • 143 – Somerville
  • 150 – Melrose
  • 165 – Newton
  • 171 – Needham

Methodology

To find the best small cities in America, WalletHub’s analysts compared 1,268 cities across four key dimensions: 1) Affordability, 2) Economic Health, 3) Education & Health and 4) Quality of Life. For our sample, we chose cities with a population size between 25,000 and 100,000 residents. Please note that “city” refers to city proper and excludes surrounding metro areas.

Lists on which MA ranked highest.

WalletHub - Most EducatedWalletHub - MIllenials

WalletHub - Highest Percentage with Health Insurance

 Click Here For the Full Breakdown

Other key findings for Massachusetts home buyers –

MA ranked #1 as the best state for education.

  • 9th Happiest State
  • 13th Best State to Have a Baby
  • 5th Best State for Working Moms
  • 21st for Women’s Equality
  • 11th for Nurses
  • 28th for for Doctors

So Massachusetts has a lot going for it. Not the best state for retirement – will cover that in a future blog post.  So that tells me this is a great state for everything from going to college up to retirement, then it might be time to move someplace warmer, less expensive and slow paced (could we actually slow down?).  Whatever phase you are at, if you need help Contact Me.

Michelle J. Lane

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

 

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

 

SOLD! 22 Roxana St, Hyde Park

22 Roxana

I have mixed emotions over this one.  I am always happy to sell a home and am thrilled that my client got a great price for his house.-  15% over what he paid for it two years ago.  But sad to see a good client and friend move cross country.

I must say that Hyde Park certainly seems to be heating up.  Last month, I sold a condo around the corner from this house for 11% over the price the last condo in that building sold for last year.

Now, I will say that both owners did a nice job of improving the cosmetics of each place and that is becoming increasingly important in attracting buyers.  I wrote a previous blog entry on this topic. What Sells a House Today

It may also be in part because people who work in Boston are required to live in Boston for the first 10 years of their employment.  West Roxbury was a popular location for these home buyers but prices there have gone up to levels that are hard for the average city worker to afford.  The median price of a single family home in West Roxbury is now $471,000, compared to $369,000 for Hyde Park.  This is a nice turn of events for Hyde Park home sellers.  The market in Hyde Park had been languishing until recently.

Bottom line is that prices in the greater Boston area continue to rise. Buy now or buy less later!

Michelle J. Lane

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

Seller Testimonial – Hyde Park

 

Michelle helped sell me my first home. That was a wonderful experience from beginning to end. I felt like her most important client, so I was eager to work with her again when it was time to sell that home.

Michelle impressed me at every stage of the sale. Her expertise was a given, based on my previous experience, but her extra effort, attention to detail, and availability to answer my questions were excellent.

Michelle makes what could be an intimidating process straightforward and successful. Plus, you know that you are never alone, when you work with Michelle. She will be there for you every step of the way.”

Ben Irwin, formerly of Hyde Park, MA