Archive for the 'Seller Info' Category

Days on Market Hangover Shortened

MLS lightens up

MLS Lightens the Days on Market Ball and Chain

A number of years ago our local MLS, MLSpin, changed their policy about days on market for properties listed for sale. The new rules meant that a property that had been taken off the market would retain the days on market number when it was relisted. While it was arguably good for buyers who often think that days on market or "DOM" is a reflection of the property's value relative to price, it really wasn't a good policy for sellers.  That days on market number was a ball and chain that you carried with you as a seller or listing agent. The only way to clean the slate and set the DOM ticker back to zero was to keep the property off the market for more than 90 days. MLSpin recently announced that their Board of Directors has voted to change the period for the DOM "cure" to just 60 days.  Hurrah!  Under the new rules a property that's been off the market for 61 days or more will be relisted on the MLS with a DOM of zero.  No word yet when the change to MLS policy will be enacted. As a seller you want to be sure when your property comes off the market to clarify its status with your agent.  The status must be either Expired or Cancelled.  If you agent changes the status to Withdrawn you won't be able to escape the days on market hangover no matter how much time elapses.  Buyers should be pleased with this change too since it means that more properties may be relisted earlier in the season - and we're all anxious for new listing to come on the market.  Buyers would also be well served by worrying a bit less (a lot less?!) about days on market.  If the property is right for you that's what counts most - despite the DOM tally.

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The Shoe Tree’s Gotta Go

A shoe tree in its natural habitat

A shoe tree in its natural habitat

Today and yesterday I came across something new - a shoe carousel.  Actually after some online research I discovered it's called a shoe tree and it seems that you can pick one up at your local big box like Target or Bed Bath & Beyond. I'd never seen a circular shoe tree before so took note when I came across them in two different houses for sale.  There was no missing them - each was loaded with shoes and on display in the bedroom. I may be on the squeamish side but have to say there is something totally unappealing about a fully loaded shoe tree.  Piles of people's well-worn shoes are typically not visually enticing. The shoe tree makes it worse since the soles face outwards.  A carousel of dirty shoe bottoms - ugh.  It's ugly and, when displayed out in the open, an in-your-face announcement that there's not enough room in your closets. The houses, priced more than a million dollars apart, had something else besides shoe trees in common.  Each was a mess. In one case the house had been on the market for a couple of months.  Sometimes home sellers get burnt out.  Keeping the house show-ready for buyers is a drag, especially as the weeks wear on and the place starts to look a bit more lived-in.  Our showing was short notice so I imagine that's the homeowner's excuse.  The mess was so extreme, however, that a day or two's notice wouldn't have been enough.  It was hard to fathom what the sellers were thinking, particularly since they were selling for less than they paid and had done renovations to boot.  It was no way to sell a house. The other house was new to the market and while not as much of a disaster area was still messy, cluttered, and just generally unkempt.  And there was that shoe tree. It's impossible to quantify how much money the seller will leave on the table by not making the extra effort to be show ready before opening the doors to real estate agents and buyers.  But there's no doubt that there's money to be made by applying some spit and polish before your house debuts on the market. Kudos to you if you already live in a place that looks like a model home. But for the rest of us you're really best served by clearing out and cleaning up before you have the first agent in, never mind the first buyer.  A good real estate agent will be able to help you with the fine tuning and can make suggestions about furniture or accessories to remove or even add. And take it from me - if your home is for sale the shoe tree's gotta go.    

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What If We Need to Sell to Buy?

What Can We Do If We Need to Sell to Buy?

What Can We Do If We Need to Sell to Buy?

Maybe you're thinking it's time to move.  Your place is too small, you're ready for a house not a condo, you want a better commute.... Whatever the reason, you're stumped.  You need to sell your current home to buy your next home.  You know that you should sell first since you need that money to afford your new place.  But you're worried.  You haven't  seen anything come on the market that you liked.  Or you did find a place - or two or three - and you took the plunge but lost out in multiple bids. So you wonder - how can we make this work?  What can we do if we need to sell to buy our next home?  How can we buy and sell at the same time? Right now, the Cambridge and Somerville real estate market presents real opportunities for sellers.  In many transactions sellers are able to ask for - and get - terms that were uncommon in the past.  Sellers are able to structure the dates in the offer in a way that best works for their plans. Buyers, anxious to pin down a property in a market where there's just not been enough of them to satisfy demand, will often agree to allow the seller to rent back after the closing for a specified period of time.  This can allow you time to find a place to purchase and the funds to do so.  Other sellers use that time to do renovations on their new home. Buying your second place typically offers challenges that you didn't encounter as a first-time buyer.  Right now, the robust real estate market's making that move a bit easier.  If you'd like to discuss how to make your next move, give me a call at 617-504-1737 or email me at ebolton@rdygh.com.   I look forward to hearing from you!  Liz  Bolton ReMax Destiny

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Sellers – The Numbers Are On Your Side

Cambridge Sellers - the Numbers are on Your Side

Cambridge Sellers - the Numbers are on Your Side

If you're a Cambridge property seller - the numbers are on your side. 8 . . . 14 . . . 20 . . .25 . . . 40 ....  Are these open house visitor counts?  Open houses are very busy nowadays. Even last Sunday when the streets and sidewalks still weren't clear and the T wasn't running open houses were packed. No - those aren't open house sign-ins.  Those are multiple bid counts for properties that have recently been on the market in Cambridge.  When properties come on the market they are typically snapped up immediately.  Buyers are paying over market to secure properties.  A good number of them are able to pay with cash.  Sellers are able to ask for and get the terms  they want. Even with the Cambridge real estate market as intense as it is getting the price right is still important.  Over priced properties sit on the market while buyers line up to bid on others.  Pricing right will almost always get you a higher sales price especially in a real estate market like Cambridge is experiencing right now. Getting the best price for your property still depends on a good marketing strategy.  Making sure people know of and get in to see your property is critical.  Selling to the first buyer for full price or even a bit more may feel great -  but who knows how much money you left behind?  My marketing strategy ensures that your property will be in front of buyers and agents - each of whom is working with multiple buyers - and positioned to get you the very best price and terms.  If your property failed to sell in the past there's no better time than now to put it on the market.  Properties that didn't sell as recently as three months ago have come back on the market, sometimes at a higher price, and sold, often with multiple bids.  If you were discouraged by the market over the last few years you can feel confident that you'll likely have a much more positive experience selling in 2013. If you've considered making a move before or sometime in the next few months or even the next few years, you'll want to seriously consider selling now.  It's hard to imagine a better time to sell - lots of buyer and very little competition from other sellers.  Both interest rates and the  inventory of properties for sale are at historic lows.  The numbers are on your side if you're a seller.

If you're considering selling and want to strategize and to get an idea of what's possible in today's real estate market I would be delighted to speak with you.  I can be reached at 617-504-1737 or by email at ebolton@rdygh.com.  Liz Bolton, ReMax Destiny, Cambridge.

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Cambridge Houses Selling for Over Asking Price

Cambridge Houses Selling for Over Asking Price

Cambridge Houses Selling for Over Asking Price

2012 has been a year of bidding wars in Cambridge.  Just how often are they happening?  I decided to take a look at the numbers of Cambridge houses selling for over asking price.  How many houses in Cambridge sell for over asking? As of yesterday, 117 houses had sold in Cambridge since January 1st.  Of the 117:

48 sold for over asking

11 sold for full price

58 sold for less than asking price

So, slightly more than half of all Cambridge houses sold to date in 2012 sold for full price or more. In fact, this is the first year that I recall seeing the MLS report I run with a Sale to List Price ratio for all sales at more than 100%.  In other words, on average, Cambridge houses have sold for more than asking price in 2012.  The sale to list price ratio for Cambridge houses sold in 2012 is 102%.  That number is usually high - somewhere in the 90s - but this is the first time I recall seeing the total - not just one price band - exceed 100%. Those numbers don't tell the whole story.  While almost half of the houses sold for less than full price often the discount was rather negligible - a few thousand on a house selling for hundreds of thousands.  Just a handful sold for discounts of 7 to 11% off the asking price. The premiums paid in multiple bids however was often much larger - $516,000 for a house priced at $399,000; $$450,000 for a house with an asking price of $369,000; $3,150,000 for a house priced at $2,400,000, etc.  A number of sale prices were 20 to 30%+ over the asking price. Let's hope inventory builds in 2013 - we don't need more bidding wars - we need more listings!   If you're hoping to sell your Cambridge home for top dollar or if you're hoping to buy and want some expert guidance in how to prevail in this market, give me a call - I'd be happy to help.   Liz Bolton, ReMax Destiny, Cambridge.  617-504-1737.

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Categories: Buyer Info, Seller Info

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Appraisal Issues

The appraisal can be a challenge in today's market

The appraisal can be a challenge in today's market

The New York Times had an excellent article today about appraisal issues.  Real estate appraisals are more often a challenge in today's market.  We've been experiencing it here in the Cambridge area but it's happening all over the country according to the New York Times. One thing I learned over the last few years is that appraisals aren't an issue in a declining market - it was easy for a property to appraise when properties were selling for less than they had in the months before.  Values may have been going down but appraisals were easy. In an appreciating market appraisals are more apt to cause problems.  Prices are going up so past sales may not support the prices buyers are willing to pay in the current market.  Additionally, in areas without a lot of inventory it may be difficult to find enough comparable sales.  Lack of inventory is often one reason why a property will sell for more than it might have in the past - buyers have been waiting for that property type to come on the market and are prepared to pay more to secure it. New lending regulations for appraisals have also caused challenges.  In the past local appraisers did the lions share of appraisals in the market. They knew the housing stock, they were more likely to have actually seen inside the properties they used as comparable sales, they understood the sublteties of neighborhood values and features buyers in this area were likely to appreciate, etc.  A parking space for example may not have the same value in the suburbs as it does in the city. As the New York Times reporter described, new regulations mean that many more appraisals are being done by out of town appraisers.  My heart sunk recently when an appraiser pulled up in a car with Connecticut plates. That appraisal turned out ok but other times appraisers' lack of familiarity with the area has caused problems.  The New York Times article also pointed out the value of cash sales in the appraisal process.  Those sales will become the "comps" for the next appraiser and happily we've had many of them this year.  If your buyer is getting financing what can you do as a seller to ensure that your property appraises?  Make sure that your real estate agent is prepared for the appraisal.  Your agent should bring printouts of comparable sales to the appraisal.  I'll highlight features on the sheets I want to call to the appraiser's attention and make notations about similarities or differences - "only one bath," "not a fancy renovation," etc.  Sometimes it can be tricky to get the right "comps".   When the comparable sales aren't easy to come by I will make sure I bring sales sheets for similar properties that have sold nearby but over the line in an abutting town.  I'm pulling together the comps that tell the story - that explain why a buyer would be willing to pay this price for this particular property. On your end you'll want to make sure that your property shows at its best.  The appraiser is the final person that you need to impress during the sale of your home.  Make sure your property sparkles, that it's clean and picked up with lights on. If you're a buyer and the appraisal came in low what can you do?  You may be able to renegotiate price with the seller.  If not, you may have to put down more money since the bank is only going to lend X% of the value they've assigned to the property.  You may be able to withdraw from the purchase if you're unable to get your financing but that's something to discuss with your lender and attorney.

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The Pace of the Cambridge Real Estate Market

 
"Red Active" status shows a Cambridge property that sold within three days of coming on the market.

"Red Active" status shows a Cambridge property that sold within three days of coming on the market but is being shown for backup offers.

The pace of the Cambridge real estate market this spring is dizzying. Newly listed properties are often selling before the open house. Many properties have received multiple bids. Why is this happening?  Low inventory seems to be the answer.  There just aren't enough properties on the market to satisfy demand. Here's how Cambridge real estate listings today compare to the same time last year. 
  • Single familes for sale in Cambridge - 21 vs. 41 a year ago
  • Condos for sale in Cambridge - 115 vs. 231 a year ago
  • Multi-family houses - 11 vs. 16 a year ago
Wow!  The numbers of houses and condos for sale in Cambridge are down 50% from last year.  As always, multi-families are in short supply in Cambridge.  Inventory is down in Somerville as well though not as dramatically as in Cambridge. The availability of properties for sale is even more limited than the numbers above suggest, however.  The increasingly common usage of what we agents call "red active" - the property status of Under Agreement But Will Show for Backup Offers - means that only 84 condos in Cambridge, not 115, are actually available for purchase as I write. What does this mean for Cambridge real estate buyers and sellers? For buyers:  Your best bet is to get a buyer's agent who can alert you early on to properties coming on the market. Make yourself available to see new listings as soon as possible.  Make sure you get a pre-approval from a lender. Be prepared for there not to be a lot to see - there just isn't large numbers of listings coming on the market at any particular price point.  And when there is the properties may sell quickly.  For sellers:  If you've been holding off putting your property on the market this may very well be the time to sell.  Perhaps your friend in the 'burbs can't sell his house or your neighbor down the street's house lingered on the market a few years ago.  Don't let their experience lead you to think that it's "not a good time".  It's a great time to sell right now in Cambridge. You'll want the advice and assistance of an experienced Cambridge real estate agent - pricing, preparation and marketing continue to be critically important despite limited inventory.   Thinking of buying or selling in Cambridge or nearby this year?  I'd love to help.  Email me at centersandsquares@gmail.com or give me a call at 617-504-1737.   Elizabeth Bolton, ReMax Destiny, 171 Huron Ave. Cambridge MA

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Pent Up Demand In the Cambridge Real Estate Market

There's pent up demand in the Cambridge real estate market

There's pent up demand in the Cambridge real estate market

Contrary to what many people might expect, given pessimistic newspaper headlines and doomsday forecasting, there's a lot of pent up demand in the Cambridge real estate market. We've been working with low inventory for a while, as sellers hold back from listing their properties for sale in what they perceive to be a down market.  January is always a challenge - buyers are ready but new listings are slow to come on the market. But if recent sales activity is any indication, the buyers are out there, ready to make an offer if they can find what they want. Here are some recent examples from the Cambridge real estate market:

A Cambridgeport house that could be used as multi-family or a single family came on last week for $900,000 and received 16 offers.

A triple-decker in the Riverside neighborhood priced at over $1,000,000 received multiple offers.

An unrenovated (unspoiled is a better word - it still had lots of original charm) North Cambridge triple-decker recieved a dozen or so offers and sold for more than $100,000 over asking.

If you've been thinking of selling now may be a better time than you think.  If you want to find out what's possible, you can reach me at 617-504-1737 or email me here. Liz Bolton, ReMax Destiny

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