What Can You Buy for $1 Million in the South End?

Last time I wrote about what can you buy for $1 million in Boston’s Back Bay neighborhood. This time I will show you what you can buy for $1 million in the South End.

According to the MLS data, over the last 6 months there have been 60 condos and 1 single family home sold in the South End. You get a little more for your money in Boston’s South End compared to Back Bay. The average sale price for South End condos were $952,378 and the average price per square foot was $647.

What I love about the South End is that it is a real neighborhood. People enjoy wine or coffee (depending on the time of day) on their stoop with their neighbors. Residents stop to say hi to one another while they are out walking their dogs or babies. Wonderful restaurants on nearly every street serve every type of meal a person could want from top-grade sushi and french cuisine to classic hamburgers and bar snacks. Even though it seems the South End consists of nothing but beautiful brownstones, modern construction can also be found if you know where to look.

Appleton Street

This penthouse duplex is on one of the most desired streets in the South End, and it is no surprise it went on and off the market in the blink of an eye. Listed at $750,000, this 2 bed 1.5 bath 1,010 sq ft condo sold for $830,000 all cash in 20 days but had an accepted offer after 4 days. This was one of two condos in this brownstone and featured a roof deck with beautiful views of Boston’s skyline, an open layout perfect for entertaining, and a private entrance.

Sold South End Condo at 17 Appleton Street

17 Appleton Street – Meridian Realty Group

 

Harrison Avenue

The South End offers condos converted from unique places. This 2 bed 2 bath 1723 sq ft corner loft was converted from a warehouse. The unit offered incredibly high ceiling and enormous windows displaying the Boston skyline from the 4th floor. It is in a professionally-managed elevator building just a few blocks from the SOWA open market and the dog run in Peter’s Park. This loft-like condo sold for asking at $959,000 in 21 days.

485-495 Harrison Avenue – Ballast Realty Group

 

Union Park Street

Not only can you find converted warehouses in the South End, but also a bank converted to condos. The former Penny Savings Bank on the corner of Union Park Street and Washington Street now offers renovated contemporary condos. This 1 bed plus office offered a private terrace, renovated kitchen with open layout, floor-to-ceiling windows, garage parking, and a common roof deck. Asking $879,000, this condo sold in 13 days for $856,000.

Sold Condo at 30 Union Park Street

30 Union Park Street – Keller Williams Realty International

 

Greenwich Park

For modern living in a classic brownstone, this penthouse duplex offer the best of both worlds. This 1621 sq ft  listing offered 2 spacious bedrooms, 2.5 bathrooms, a working fireplace, and a private roof deck. Situated along the Southwest Corridor, you are steps from the best of Back Bay and the South End. Listed at $1,225,000, this listing sold for $1,200,000 in 16 days.

Sold Condo at 22 Greenwich Park

22 Greenwich Park – South End Realty Group

 

Search condos in the South End between $800,000 and $1,200,000. To see condos in the South End in person, contact the Realtors of Matthew and Alisa Group Real Estate.

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121 Beach Street #703: Modern Loft Living in the Leather District

The Leather District is located near South Station between Chinatown and Downtown Boston. This neighborhood was first developed as leather factories in the late nineteenth century and converted into an urban residential neighborhood in the late twentieth century. Due to its smaller footprint than most Boston neighborhoods, quality listings are not easy to come by. Which is why Matthew Gaskill and I are excited to announce our new exclusive listing at 121 Beach Street #703!

Built in 1913 by architect Arthur H. Bowditch, 121 Beach Street was originally built to sell leather with the street level used for display and the levels above meant for manufacturing. In 1998 the building was converted to twenty-five residential condos and one commercial condo, but maintained the original barrel-vaulted ceilings and brick & beam structure.

Living Area at 121 Beach St 703Our listing is unit #703, a 1688 square foot open-layout loft priced at $750,000. This unit features two spacious bedrooms, two full renovated bathrooms, and an open-concept living and dining area with plenty of storage, which is perfect for entertaining. Located on the seventh floor (one level higher than surrounding buildings), this unit gets wonderful light with north and south exposures and has great views of the downtown Boston skyline to the north. This unit can be rented out, so if you are looking to invest in real estate, this is something you will want to see. The building is professionally managed and the condo fees are under $500 and include everything except electric and gas. The building is also pet friendly.

Master Bedroom at 121 Beach St #703

121 Beach Street is conveniently located steps from South Station, Downtown Boston, and the Financial District. In a less than a 10 minute walk, you can find yourself in Fort Point enjoying some of the best restaurants in Boston, such as Sportello and Menton. Just another 5 minutes away you can be in Seaport enjoying more great restaurants and  and fun nightlife Temazcal Cantina and the new 75 on Liberty Wharf. If the 10-15 minute walk is too far, located 2 blocks away from 121 Beach Street is O-Ya, the best rated sushi restaurant in Boston.

Getting in and out of the Leather District is a cinch. With South Station down the street you can access the Red Line to Cambridge, take the commuter rail or Amtrak to Providence or New York, or pick up the the Sliver Line to the Boston’s Logan Airport. Driving is also easy with the Massachusetts Turnpike (I-90) and I-93 ramps a few blocks away.

121 Beach Street #703 offers an urban loft feel that doesn’t come around too often in Boston. With this location and what the area has to offer, I hope you get a chance to see it before its gone. An open house is scheduled for 1-2:30pm on Sunday November 4th, 2012. To schedule a private showing, contact the Realtors of Matthew and Alisa Group.

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The Year is Not Over for Motivated Home Sellers and Home Buyers

Thomas Jefferson said “never put off till tomorrow what you can do today,” and this should be the mantra repeated by buyers and sellers this time of year. With the holidays are coming, most home buyers and sellers believe “if I haven’t found the right home” or “if I haven’t sold yet,” it is best to stop now and regroup next year in the spring. Since this is such a common belief, it would seem pointless to argue the contrary. But this is exactly what I am going to do.

Still Time to Close Escrow Before the Year is OverSince it is a common mindset to hold off buying or selling a home until after the holidays, this means less competition on both sides. For buyers, it is obvious to see how this is a good thing. In Boston, where there has been very little inventory on the sales market, good quality, well-priced listings have sold quickly for close to, at, or over-asking price and many times with multiple offers. This time of year, motivated home buyers may be able to find a home with less stress and intensity than in spring.

On the selling side, if your property has been sitting on the market, now is the time to show buyers how much of a motivated home seller you are! If it is priced fairly for the market, try a small price drop and take new pictures. Make buyers forget that it has been sitting and the result can be renewed interest. Less competition from sellers who have taken their homes off the market also works in favor online casino of the seller who has an active listing.

The people who are still searching for properties this time of year are serious and motivated home buyers. These are the people that will trudge through terrible weather, work with shorter amounts of daylight, and go to open houses instead of malls for holiday shopping. On the other end of the spectrum, the sellers that are letting strangers into their homes wearing wet or muddy boots while they go wait somewhere out in the cold are motivated home sellers. These are the groups that want to put in an offer and want to accept an offer, not the type who are browsing or throwing out a line and hoping for a bite.

If you are a buyer or seller looking to close escrow before the year ends, contact the Realtors of Matthew and Alisa Group Real Estate to discuss the best strategy for meeting your goals before the end of the year.

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What Can You Buy for $1 Million in Back Bay?

News outlets have been promoting how the housing crisis is in recovery and that the low mortgage rates make now a great time to buy! This may be true but what do you get for your money in today’s sales market in Boston?

Depending on the type of lifestyle you want, one of the downtown neighborhood in Boston can accommodate. This blog will focus on the Back Bay neighborhood and Back Bay condos.

What does $1 million buy you in Back Bay?

If we go by the data, $1 million can get a beautiful condo in Back Bay. I did a search of sold listings between $800,000 and $1.2 million in Back Bay. Over the last 6 months there have be 56 sold condos in Back Bay with an average sale price of $953,039 and the average price per square foot is $758.

One of the best things about buying a condo in Back Bay is that you don’t have to choose between lifestyle and location. Whether you want a luxury high rise or a historic brownstone, there are available condos in Back Bay.

Marlborough St

Penthouse living on Sunny Marlborough Street, this 1050 square foot 2 bed 2 bath renovated condo with parking and roof rights sold at the beginning of summer for the asking price of $999,000 after being listed for only 1 day. This condo in Back Bay offered high ceilings, an open layout, and top of the line kitchen with Viking Stove and granite countertops. The fireplace warms this condo into a home on the quietest residential street in Back Bay.

Condo in Back Bay on 299 Marlborough Street

299 Marlborough Street – Thread Real Estate

 

Commonwealth Ave

Located on one of the most historic streets in Boston, this 1300 square foot 2bed 1.5bath renovated condo in a brownstone with parking sold this summer for $1,000,000. Built in 1890, this sunny third floor condo offered high ceilings with classic crown molding, a bay window, and 2 fireplaces. Renovated to modern tastes, this condo in Back Bay also has central air conditioning, a chef’s kitchen with stainless steel appliances, and laundry in unit. This condo sold in 6 days!

Condo in Back Bay on 286 Commonwealth Avenue

286 Commonwealth Avenue – Warren Residential Group, LLC

 

Beacon St

Just a block from the Charles River, this 1797 square foot 2 bed 2.5 bath renovated duplex with parking and private patio sold for $1,080,000. This condo has a everything to call it home. From the classic features of hardwood floors, bay windows, 2 fireplaces to modern conveniences of laundry in-unit, central heating and air conditioning, granite countertops, stainless steel appliances, and walk-in closets. This condo in Back Bay was sold in just over 2 weeks for 98% of asking price.

Condo in Back Bay on 369 Beacon Street

369 Beacon Street – Realty Development Services

 

Newbury St

If you are not interested in a traditional brownstone, Back Bay also offers incredible options for modern luxury living. On Newbury Street, this 1330 square foot 2 bed 2 bath corner unit with garage parking and a concierge sold this spring for $1,130,000. Enjoy the 6th floor views of Back Bay from the floor-to-ceiling windows and want for nothing with Back Bay at your fingertips.

Condo in Back Bay on 360 Newbury Street

360 Newbury Street – Otis & Ahearn

 

Search condos in Back Bay for $800,000 to $1,200,000. To see Back Bay condos in person, contact the Realtors of Matthew and Alisa Group.

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Investment Property: Where to Start

Buying Investment PropertyOne of the biggest misconceptions I’ve heard from clients who are interested in buying investment property, is they are going to make livable income from their investment right away. More people have the desire to take advantage of the low mortgage rates and feel buying investment property is a safer investment than buying stocks. This is can be true, however, investing in real estate should be thought of as a long term commitment and must be done wisely.

Depending on what type of property you invest in you may be able to start a steady cash flow, but when you buy investment property, you should think of it as a way to build wealth not get rich quick.

If you buy an investment property in an established neighborhood, this would be considered a low risk investment. In Boston an example would be Back Bay or Beacon Hill. A possible drawback would be the prices would be higher to buy an investment property. However, the positive side is in Boston, where the rents are only going up, the tenant’s rent would cover most is not all of your operating costs, which include mortgage, condo fees, maintenance, and taxes. Little to nothing will be left over for shopping, but after your mortgage is paid off (by someone else), the investment property is now worth a lot more than you originally paid. The goal in these established areas is a safe investment with appreciation and key metric is appreciation rate.

If you buy an investment property in an area that doesn’t have the demand as the established neighborhoods, the risk is higher. In Boston an example could be areas of Roxbury or areas of Dorchester. The drawback would be that you wouldn’t be able to charge as high for rent but the buy in would be less and the money you do collect from rent would more than cover your mortgage and leave some extra cash on hand. Your investment property may not be worth much more than you paid for but the capital of your mortgage would be paid off quicker and you would be able to generate a profit quicker. The goal in riskier areas that do not offer the same appreciation rate as the most established areas is cash flow and the key metric in determining cash flow potential is cap rate (or capitalization rate if you aren’t into the whole brevity thing).

Buying either type of investment property should not be rushed into. Once you buy a property, you are still responsible for maintaining it. If your only experience with how to be a landlord comes from The Ropers on reruns of Three’s Company, we can help. For more information about buying investment property, contact the Realtors of Matthew and Alisa Group Real Estate.

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The Home Buying Process Simplified

Condo on Boston's Real Estate Sales MarketBuying a home can be the biggest purchase a person can make in their lifetime. For first-time home buyers this can be the most overwhelming and stressful experience they could go through. Here is a general breakdown of the steps you need to take to buy your home.

The first step is to figure out how much can you afford. The most common formula used to figure out how much to spend on your home purchase is equal 3x your annual income. Keep in mind, your mortgage payments together with your other monthly bills should not exceed more that 36% of you monthly income.

Next, you will want to save for a down payment. Depending on the loan you qualify for, you will need anywhere between 3%-30% for the down payment.

Once you have your price in mind and a down payment saved, get a pre-approval letter. This is incredibly important to have before you start your home search. You can get a pre-approval letter from any bank, but you are not locked into an agreement to get your mortgage from that bank. Having the letter can mean the difference between getting your dream home or getting lost in a pile of other offers.

Understand that not only will you need the down payment for your mortgage but closing costs and the other costs that come up in buying a home such as lawyer fees, inspection costs, etc.

Once you have the price and monies ready, begin a list of wants verses needs for you home. Do you really need walk-in closets? How important is a fireplace? Is size or location the top priority?

Now you will want to start talking to Realtors. Make it clear to your Realtor what your price range is and what you want and need in your new home. There are many different reasons to choose a Realtor: their experience, your past relationship with them, accessibility, etc. The most important factor is an understanding of what you want and for you to understand what your real estate agent will do for you.

Now that you have your priorities and a Realtor to help you navigate the real estate market, start seeing places in person that fit your criteria. Don’t feel discouraged if or when your lists of wants and needs change. You may go into this process with one idea of what you want and then you end up with something completely different.

Buying Property and signing PaperworkOnce you find the home for you, talk to your Realtor about making an offer. Your Realtor will explain what is the best price to offer based on a comparative market analysis. This will show you what comparable properties have recently sold for. Whether it is a buyer’s market or seller’s market, listen to your Realtor and make sure you understand the data they are presenting you. The comparative sales indicate market value for the given property which will dictate the best amount to offer. Your Realtor will help guide you through the contingency addendum. The contingency addendum protects the buyer’s interest and deposit money and allows the buyer to re-negotiate or withdrawal the offer based on the results of inspections preformed during the due diligence period. It’s important to do your due diligence about the house you are trying to buy but the more unnecessary contingencies you put in your offer, the less attractive your offer becomes to a seller. If you check off any contingency, you are not only costing yourself more money by having these tests done, but you are inadvertently telling the seller that you want as many ways out of buying the property as you can get. Many sellers would prefer to go with another buyer or even leave the property on the market instead of accepting an offer they think will fall through.

After your offer is accepted this is where the paperwork starts and lawyers become involved. This is when you actually preform your due diligence and have your potential home inspected and tested. If everything comes back to your satisfaction, time to sign the Purchase and Sale (P&S) agreement and to start choosing paint colors and furniture placement.

If you have any questions or are ready to start the process of buying a home, contact the Realtors of Matthew and Alisa Group Real Estate.

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Should I Rent or Should I Buy Now?

The real estate market has been dynamic over the last few years to say the least. The dramatic highs and lows have left many wondering if they should rent an apartment or buy a home. Each option has its own merits and drawbacks and it is important to figure out what is the best option for you right now. Consider these arguments during your internal rent vs buy debate.

 

Should I Rent?

 

Renting is a great option for those that are still trying to figure out what their plan is. Many cities have wonderful neighborhoods with distinct flavors and personalities. Renting gives someone the option to try out different neighborhoods and find which is the best fit for his or her lifestyle. Buying is an investment synonymous with putting down roots and many people want to know their surroundings before choosing where to settle.

Renting offers short-term commitment. The most common lease contract is for a year-long commitment and there are also short-term leases that can be from 3 months to 6 months and Tenancy-at-Will contracts which are just month-to-month commitments.

The ability to test out an area with little commitment makes renting seem ideal until you realize renting also means you are throwing your money away. Renting does not build credit or equity. In fact, by paying your rent, you are paying someone else’s mortgage and building someone else’s equity and credit.

The tax breaks for renters are limited. In Massachusetts, renters can only deduct 50% of the rent they paid in a calendar year with the maximum deduction for rent being $3000. Meaning if your rent is more than $500, you are not going to see any difference.

Another drawback is rent is always going up! Especially in high demand cities with low vacancy rates. What you could spend to get a one bed in the suburbs could maybe get you a closet in the city. Then there are also the upfront costs.  Unless you are moving into a rental complex that only wants first month’s rent, most owners want at least first and last month’s rent. Some will ask for a security deposit and if you are using a broker you will need to pay for a fee. To rent an apartment, you need to have 2-4 months rent saved at lease signing. Then there is the expense of actually moving: the boxes, the moving truck, movers, etc.

After you have an apartment, the landlord can be an issue. With thousands of landlords and even more tenants, each with a unique personality, it’s not possible for every tenant to get along with every landlord. Some will be great and others not so great and there is no way to tell which one you are going to get until after you are already in your lease. In the worst case scenario, this can make for a very long year.

 

Rent vs Buy: Which Best Fits My Lifestyle?

 

Should I Buy?

 

Buying a home can be scary at first. With all the horror stories throughout the nation (foreclosures, short sales, underwater mortgages, money pits, the inability to sell, etc.), it is easy to think that renting is safer than buying. Buying can be scary because it brings responsibility and commitment. Basically, it means becoming a grown-up.

Fortunately there are more reasons to buy than there are not to!

Sales prices have fallen and mortgage rates are at an all time low. The combination makes housing affordability as low as we have seen in a decade and possibly as low as we will see for the next decade.

There are more tax deductions for homeowners than renters. Homeowners can deduct their mortgage interest, property taxes, and certain home improvements also qualify for deductions.

When you are paying for your own property, you are putting your money toward building your own equity and credit. You are paying off your own mortgage rather than seeing your money go to someone else’s pocket.

If you buy your property as a long term investment, it is like putting money into the bank. The more equity you build, the more you can borrow for future purchases, such as renovations  to your home or your child’s college tuition.

If it is the responsibility and commitment that is scary, then buy a condo. The size won’t be overwhelming. Plenty of condos are located in professionally-managed buildings or buildings that have property managers to handle repairs and maintenance. In a few years, if you decide to move onto something bigger, you can sell the property but you could also rent it out and have someone else pay the mortgage and build your equity.

To learn more about buying or renting property, contact the Realtors of Matthew and Alisa Group Real Estate.

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Assessed Value vs Market Value

“Why is the assessed value vs market value so far off for this property?”

Many buyers have asked this question thinking a ratio of assessed value offers a shortcut to a property’s fair market value. While I use and can suggest many factors and figures to determine a property’s fair market value, I do not ever look at the assessed value when pricing a property. In fact, the only time I consider a property’s assessed value is when I want to provide buyers with the figure they will pay for property taxes.

The fair market value is the price agreed upon between a willing and informed buyer and a willing and informed seller under usual and ordinary circumstances (not under duress). The fair market value is the highest estimated price in terms of money which the property will bring if exposed for sale on the open market with reasonable time allowed to find a buyer who is purchasing with full knowledge of all the uses and purposes to which the property is best suited and for which it can be legally used.

Market Value vs Assessed ValueIn contrast, the assessed value is the dollar value assigned to a property by a public tax assessor for the purposes of measuring applicable taxes. Some states require assessed value to be a percentage of the real market value, but most do not. In Massachusetts, Town Assessors are required to submit assessed values to the State Department of Revenue for certification every three years. Assessors review the real estate sales market data every year and therefore reassess values each year. Many states do not allow the assessment value to be increased unless the home is sold or improvements are done to the home (called Proposition 13 protection in California). If market value falls below assessed value, the home owner may petition the tax collector for an abatement.

Since fair market value and assessed value differ in purpose and in how they are determined, an analysis of assessed value vs market value does not provide a consistent ratio from which to judge the merits of one metric or the other. After charting the two values looking for a correlation, the results show assessed values are all over the place in relation to a property’s fair market value.

I suggest using better methods of gauging a listing price’s merit in the current market. A comparable market analysis (CMA) is the best method for determining probable price of a property, but even price per square foot or the ratio of sale price to list price can be used as quick metrics of a list price’s validity in today’s market. Our Realtors are available to provide you with a CMA if you are considering buying property or thinking about listing your home for sale.

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The Real Estate Sales Market's Paradox of Choice

I recently watched an episode of TED Talks featuring psychologist Barry Schwartz discussing the Paradox of Choice (also the name of his book). According to Barry Schwartz, the American mantra of more choices equaling more freedom, which in turn results in more welfare is not only wrong, it is harmful. Too many choices affect a person”s ability to choose by causing decision paralysis, unable to make any choice at all. If the person does make a choice, she often becomes dissatisfied with the choice made, because, she believes a least one perfect option will be present among the multitude of options. If the one chosen turns out to fall short of perfection, buyer”s remorse can set in and the blame often falls on her own ability to make a correct decision. A fear of this buyer”s remorse can also prevent a person from taking action at all because we are aware of our heightened expectations resulting from living in a time of limitless choice.

http://youtu.be/VO6XEQIsCoM

After watching Barry Schwartz’s lecture I started thinking how it relates to the online casino current Boston real estate sales market. I hear complaints from buyers and fellow real estate agents regarding the low inventory and how new listings to the real estate sales market are selling within days of being listed. When the sales market was saturated with inventory, property sat and sat. It’s hard not to make the connection between buyers having fewer options and their increased ability to make a decision.

According to MLS data, from March 15th-April 15th of this year (2012) 289 single family homes and condos were listed for sale in the downtown Boston neighborhoods, 225 properties went under-agreement, and they averaged 31 days on the real estate sales market. The same time period last year (2011) there were 377 single family home and condos listed for sale in the downtown Boston neighborhoods, 184 went under-agreement, and spent an average of 120 days on the sales market.

Barry Schwartz said “the secret to happiness is low expectations.” It is because when expectations are low, the opportunity to be pleasantly surprised is present! Many agents and sellers feel the current real estate sales market is a pleasant and welcome change after the mortgage crisis a few years ago. And buyers, knowing there are few options, are less likely to talk themselves out making a decision on their new home. The result is less stagnation in the market, which is good news for both buyers and sellers of property.

If you are interested in searching property for sale or speaking with a Realtor, contact the Realtors of Matthew and Alisa Group Real Estate.

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Can I Quit You? Ending a Real Estate Relationship

This spring in Boston, properties for sale are moving at lightening speed. By the time a property hits the general public, it seems to already have multiple offers. This is both intimidating and disheartening for all buyers but even more so for first-time home buyers. The most important resource both buyers and sellers have is their Realtor. Depending on your Realtor, this can be the best thing you have or the worst. It is important to have someone you are comfortable with and who understands your goals and real estate needs.

Just like in any break up, honesty is the best policy. Using the cliche “it’s not you, it’s me” phrase is worthless. It is unnecessary, vague, and doesn’t help either you or your Realtor. If you are unsatisfied with how they are doing their job, tell them, but give specific examples. If they are not responsive, show you properties that are not at all what you are looking for, or you feel like they are pressuring you to take certain properties, tell them. Sometimes your Realtor isn’t aware that you are dissatisfied. Your response time might be much sooner than what your Realtor believes necessary. Maybe the perfect property isn’t out there and your Realtor is showing you options that work for your needs. Getting on the same page with your Realtor and understanding how each party feels is crucial to making the process a smooth one. After you have had that conversation and nothing has changed, then tell your Realtor that you no longer wish to work with them. Do not avoid them and work with someone else without telling them. If you have signed an exclusive buyer representation agreement and you buy property through another party, you will still owe your original Realtor their commission.

Before beginning a real estate relationship, make sure both parties are on the same pageMore often than not, your Realtor will let you out of your contract if you are truly dissatisfied and have clearly discussed your dissatisfaction with them. No one wants to be in any kind relationship when one of the parties wants out. This holds true if even if you are the seller.

Furthermore, you may be surprised by your Realtor’s reaction. If neither of you took the time to understand each other, your Realtor may be as interested in breaking up as you are.

There are many Realtors in Boston, every one has a different approach, attitude, style, and personality. It is crucial to work with a Realtor who understands your specific real estate needs and goals. We at Matthew and Alisa Group Real Estate feel jumping blindly into a business relationship costs time and money. We need to understand what our buyers and sellers want. We take our time to discuss what our clients’ goals are and what are their highest priorities. Especially for first-time home buyers, buying a home is just as emotional as it is business and constant and clear communication is the only way to achieve your goals. Taking the time for a one hour consultation with our real estate team will save you time in the long run and make the experience less stressful for everyone involved.

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