What Can You Buy for $500,000 in South Boston?

South Boston had a bad reputation at one point. If you watched Good Will Hunting, Gone Baby Gone, or the forgettable (or unforgettable depending on your love of bad movies and Donnie Wahlburg) Southie, you may have an impression that South Boston has a reputation of being the wrong side of the tracks. It’s this stigma that has kept property values reasonable compared to other neighborhoods in Metro Boston. However, perception is changing and prices are climbing. The East Side, close to City Point, Thomas Park, and the beach, has been attracting young professionals and families in recent years. The West Side, close to Seaport, Broadway T station, and the South End, has been a little slower but with new development projects and popular restaurants opening, this are has also been undergoing change. The biggest factor that lets you know that the Southie of old has been transformed is the fact that Starbucks is opening on the corner of Dorchester Ave and West Broadway because you know Starbucks did not decide on this location before spending millions of dollars researching the area and its potential.

So what does your money get you in South Boston? Let’s start at $500,000.

Over the last 6 months, between $450,000 and $550,000 in South Boston has bought single family homes or new construction/renovated condos. According to MLS, 5 single family homes have sold at an average sale price of $504,680 and the average price per square foot was $312. However, in the same time-frame and price range, there were 74 condos sold at an average sale price of $498,281 or $380 per square foot.

And now for some properties!

East 4th Street

Located 2 blocks from the beach and listed at $519,000, this renovated 1,700 square foot 3 bedroom, 2.5 bathroom single family house sold over the list price in 21 days for $519,500.

860 East 4th - RE:MAX Realty Plus

860 East 4th – RE:MAX Realty Plus

 

East 7th Street

Located in the highly-desired East Side of South Boston, this single family home featured 1812 square feet of living space, 4 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, and a beautifully patio. Listed at $524,900, this home sold above asking price in 8 days for $529,900.

691 East 7th St - RE:MAX Select Realty

691 East 7th St – RE:MAX Select Realty

 

West 7th Street

On the West Side of South Boston, this renovated penthouse condo featured 2 bedrooms, 2.5 bathrooms, and a private roof deck. At 1,244 square feet, this condo was listed for $499,000 and sold in 17 days for asking price.

163 West 7th Street - RE:MAX Realty Plus

163 West 7th St – RE:MAX Realty Plus

 

West 3rd Street

This renovated 1,218 square foot penthouse condo is located near the Seaport and the South End. This condo featured 2 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, and private deck with incredible city views. Listed for $539,900, this condo sold in 6 days for $535,000.

159 West 3rd Street- Vogt Realty Group

159 West 3rd St – Vogt Realty Group

 

If you are interested in learning more about South Boston, check out our blog posts about the history of the St. Patrick’s Day Parade and a Victorian mansion for sale.

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What is Dual Agency?

Whether you are looking to buy property or looking to sell your property, if you are working with a Realtor, one of the first things you will learn about is agency and the different types of agency. During your first meeting with a Realtor, you will have to sign a Mandatory Agency Disclosure Form stating in what capacity the Realtor is speaking about property. The agent will disclose if she is speaking to you as either a seller’s agent or buyer’s agent. Whether working as the buyer’s agent or seller’s agent, Realtors owe buyers and sellers undivided loyalty, reasonable care, disclosure, obedience to lawful instruction, confidentiality, and accountability provided the agent disclose known material defects in the real estate. The Realtor must put her client’s interests first and negotiate for the best terms and price for their client.

As all Realtors know, you cannot thrive in this business only being a seller’s agent or a buyer’s agent, so most Realtors work as either or at any time (depending on local laws and office policy). It gets interesting when a Realtor is both at the same time for the same deal. This is called acting in dual agency.

Dueling Agents

Dueling Agents…Get it?

Dual agency is when the Realtor is both the seller’s agent and the buyer’s agent. This can only happen with expressed and written consent from both the buyer and the seller. This written consent has to be given by both parties before executing an offer to purchase a specific property. Once both parties agree to allow the Realtor to represent them, the Realtor enters dual agency and becomes a neutral party. At this point, think of your Realtor as Switzerland! The Realtor can pass along factual information between buyer and seller but cannot interpret the information for either party. Nor can the Realtor offer analysis or advice to either the buyer or the seller. For example, the Realtor can give a comparative market analysis (CMA) or comps for the property to the buyer that were previously provided to the seller when determining a listing price, but she cannot analyze it with the buyer nor can she advise what price the buyer should offer. However, if new properties show up in the comps given to the buyer, the Realtor has to provide the same updated information to the seller.

By nature, a dual agent cannot fulfill the same duties of a seller’s agent or buyer’s agent. A Realtor in dual agency still owes both the buyer and seller confidentiality of material information and accounting for funds. However, while in dual agency the Realtor cannot negotiate the best terms or price for either party.

For seasoned and educated buyers and sellers, working in dual agency can be a good thing, since they only need to communicate with one Realtor, thus cutting down on delays caused by passing information back and forth between parties. However, for first time home buyers who are nervous and do not fully understand the buying process, this is not ideal. No one is ever taken advantage of, but with the experience of making such a major purchase, having a Realtor exclusively in your corner, helping you understand the market, and getting you the terms you want can be a relief to the emotional stress that comes with buying your first home. That being said, if you are working with a Realtor you trust and they have the property you have been looking for, you have no reason not to go for it.

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What Can You Buy for $1 Million in Beacon Hill?

One of the most prestigious neighborhoods in Boston is Beacon Hill and the property there can be some of the most sought after in the city. Matthew Gaskill wrote about the Mt Vernon Proprietors and how they shaped Beacon Hill into the neighborhood as we still know it today. Properties in Beacon Hill tend to have a smaller footprint, making living area more vertical and narrow. Properties in Beacon Hill also have strict guidelines to follow when doing renovations, restrictions that sometimes prevent the owners from making improvements to the property.

Let’s break down the data!

Over the last 6 months there have been 26 condos and 2 single-family homes sold in Beacon Hill between $800,000 and $1,200,000. The average sale price for the condos was $972,156 while the average sale price per square foot was $695. If you remember from when I wrote about what $1 million buys you in Back Bay, the average sale price for condos was $953,039 and the average sale price per square foot was $758. The reason for the difference in price per square foot is parking! Getting a condo that comes with parking in Beacon Hill is like finding a unicorn wearing a four-leafed clover garland with a golden ticket to Wonka-Land in it’s mouth. Maybe not THAT unlikely but not too far off.

Mount Vernon Street

Originally built in 1804, this 2 bed 2.5 bath duplex on Mount Vernon Street was listed at $899,00o and sold in just over a month for $875,000. This 1625 square foot condo featured 2 fireplaces, a private patio, and is located just behind the state house on the top of the hill. However, the property does not have central air conditioning, so in the balmy summers window units will have to suffice.

Sold Condo on Mt Vernon Street

51 Mount Vernon Street – Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage

 

Chestnut Street

Since Boston is a old town with historic properties, many buildings have been converted from their original intended use. In the South End, warehouses have turned into large open lofts. In both Back Bay and Beacon Hill, single family mansions have been broken into condos. This particular 2 bed 2 bath on Chestnut Street was once a Gothic church built in 1880. Converted to condos in 1965, this 1220 square foot was listed at $950,000 and sold for $920,000 in under one month.

Sold Condo on Chestnut Street

27 Chestnut St – Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage

 

Revere Street

This sunny penthouse duplex on Revere Street featured 2 bedrooms, 2 baths, and 2 fireplaces. Originally built in 1900, this 1500 square foot corner condo has 3 exposures and a roof deck with gorgeous views from Back Bay to Cambridge. It was listed at $1,199,000 and sold for $1,190,000 in 13 days.

Sold Condo on Revere Street

93 Revere Street – Hammond Residential

 

Beacon Street

Located across from the Boston Common, this Beacon Street penthouse condo featured 2 private decks, 2 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, and 1 fireplace. Originally built in 1860, this 1750 square foot condo also had an elevator with direct access to the unit and vaulted ceilings. It first came onto the sales market for $1,250,000 and sold in 7 days for $1,200,000.

Sold Condo on Beacon Street

36 Beacon Street – CL Waterfront Properties

To learn more about Beacon Hill and other Boston neighborhoods, visit our where to live page.

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How Does President Obama’s Reelection affect the Housing Market?

It is the best time of year! Right now is time to sit and enjoy the silence. We are in the quiet period when all the campaign commercials and coverage end but right before the bombarding of Christmas commercials and specials. During this quiet time we can have a moment to think about what this election really means. What can we expect in the next four years?  No matter how you feel about the election, it is over and we know who’s captaining the ship. So far the unemployment rate is still not great but it has been steadily increasing over the last year. The economy is showing signs that it is growing. But what about the housing market? The housing market is seen to be related to the jobs market and with the unemployment rate maintaining steady growth, the housing market may continue to strengthen.

Obama's Reelection and the Housing MarketThe mortgage rates are still incredibly low (less than 4% on a 30 year fixed mortgage) and the housing market appears to be on the rise after bottoming out. So far this year, low inventory has been the big story in regard to the housing market. Well-priced properties sell fast and sometimes over asking price. We don’t know what the future will bring, but now is a great time to sell. If you are aggressive, it can be a good time to buy property as well. Foreign investors have felt the same way and have bought many properties in the US with all cash offers. Since President Obama will be in office for four more years, the policies in place most likely will remain. Meaning the strict regulations that lenders have to follow will remain (whereas Romney would have done away with many of them). Also the Federal Reserve will move forward with the Quantitative Easing plan, which may not be the best plan but one that has helped the housing market so far.

I would like to predict that the housing market will continue to rise in prosperity but no one can be certain. I do however find comfort in the fact billionaire investor Warren Buffet is buying real estate brokerages all around the country. He is partnering with Brookfield Asset Management, a Canadian real estate investor, to at least double his brokerage business’s size. Warren Buffet has been very vocal about his belief in the turn around in the housing market. If Warren Buffet believes enough in the housing market’s continued growth to put his money in it, you should too!

If you are interested in learning more about buying or selling property, contact the Realtors of Matthew and Alisa Group.

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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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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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3 Tips to Stay Ahead of the Current Real Estate Market

Do you feel like you are a few steps behind the real estate market? Is every house you inquire on already under agreement?

This is one problem with the large national real estate websites like Zillow and Trulia. These sites were not built with the intention to provide information, so they are not concerned with whether listings are current or accurate. Their intent is to sell leads to real estate agents and, to this end, the sites will withhold certain information to encourage you to contact one of their paying agents.

Our website is updated with the MLS each hour, so you know the information is current. Another benefit we can offer with our website is the ability to save your searches and have the system send you daily email summaries of any properties matching your criteria. The triggers prompting a listing to be added to your daily email alert include a new addition to the market, a price reduction, and status changes, which is helpful when a property goes back on the market after a buyer falls through. Watch the video above to see how easy it is to set up daily email alerts for MLS online casino listings.

You should also be aware every property does not make it to the internet. Some sellers do not want their property online at all, so the property is shopped around within the real estate community. Other properties are shared among agents before going public, so once it does hit the market buyers are already lined up. If you would like to set up a consult, our Realtors would be able to get a good idea of what you are looking for and alert you of any pocket listing matching your search criteria.

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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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