Home Buying Process Class at Stella in Boston’s South End

Whether you are a first-time home buyer, a seventh-time home buyer, or an investor, this class is for you. Matthew Gaskill and Alisa Peterson, along with David Datz Esq., and Joe Smith from Guaranteed Rate will be hosting a class that will discuss the different aspects of buying property.

Matthew Gaskill and Alisa Peterson will be discussing the search and offer process, along with the current sales market. With the market being incredibly dynamic, we want to manage expectations, calm fears, and even help you decide if buying now is the right decision for you. Buying property now is not for everyone, but if it is for you, we want get you excited to get started on your search.

Joe Smith from Guaranteed Rate will be discussing the financing process. Financing is crucial in this market and Joe Smith will help you understand what is needed and what to expect.

David M. Datz, Esq. from David Marshall Datz P.C. law offices will explain everything from the legal standpoint of your real estate transaction and explain how we keep your interests protected.

Home Buying Process Class at StellaThe class will be at the restaurant Stella in the South End from 5:30-7pm on Tuesday January 29th 2013. We will have light refreshments and appetizers. We will have a Q&A session after our speeches, so please come with a pen, notebook, and any question you have about the home buying process. Please RSVP by January 24th by contacting Alisa Peterson at alisa.peterson@gibsonsir.com if you are interested in attending.

We are heading into another exciting real estate season and we want to get you as excited as we are!

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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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Search MLS Listings and Use Our Website’s Tools

We designed our website to give you the tools you need to achieve your real estate goals. We believe the combination of the best technology and attentive and knowledgeable Realtors will give you the advantage  in a competitive real estate market.

As you know, our website features every listing offered on the MLS, including those for sale by owner. Our website updates with the MLS each hour, so you know are getting the most accurate information available. On every one of the listings you have access to on our site, you can take advantage of the following:

  • Contact a Realtor with questions on the listing or to schedule a showing. No need to pick up the phone or even switch over to your email client since your request can be done directly from the listing.
  • Save the listing to a list of favorites, so you can easily access it later. You can use this to keep track of listings or to have easy access to listings you want to compare.
  • Save notes to the listing for you to reference later. By keeping your notes on our website, your notes will all be in one place and available for you whenever you want them.
  • Calculate mortgage payments with the integrated mortgage calculator. The mortgage calculator is adjustable, so you can change the down payment, interest rate, and loan term.
  • Get the opinion of friends and family with the ability to email the listing to anyone you want or share the listing to your social networks: Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, and Pinterest share buttons are all available on the page.
  • If you find some value in the Zillow Zestimate®, you can access this figure for each listing as well as many market and area demographics area compiled by Zillow. Although, if you rely on the Zillow Zestimate®, we should talk so I can explain how my knowledge will give you a better understanding of the real estate market than a number spit out by an algorithm.

We believe these tools will help make the most of your online search for property, but we also think your Realtor is another tool to be utilized in any real estate transaction. We are here to help and offer the guidance and advise you will not get from a website.

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How We Can Help You Decide Where to Live in Boston

Are you new to the area or looking for the neighborhood that best suits your lifestyle?

We are available to discuss and share our insights on the city and its neighborhoods. Trust us, we could talk about Boston and its neighborhoods for hours. But if you’d prefer to do some research on your own before you get us talking, our website is a great source.

We have integrated the website with resources such as Walk Score, education.com, Yelp, and Google Maps to help educate those in the midst of an international relocation and those looking for a new neighborhood to call home.

  • The Walk Score feature will provide one score for the walkability of a location and another score for its access to public transportation.
  • The Yelp integration allows you to locate nearby services including dry cleaners, coffee shops, grocery stores, health providers, athletic facilities and gyms, restaurants, and much more.
  • Our education.com feature will show area schools on a map, provide contact information, offer a brief description as well as a link to more thorough information and reviews on the education.com website.
  • By featuring Google Maps on our website, we are able to provide access directly to Google Street View without the need to leave the property listing.
  • The Zillow integration offers a variety of charts and data providing insight on the real estate market and area demographics.

We think these tools will give you the ability to find the area right for you and your lifestyle. Of course, I am always available to discuss in more detail or if you have any questions.

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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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An Introduction to Our Real Estate Team

Thank You for Visiting Our Real Estate Website

First, we would like to introduce who we are. We are Matthew Gaskill and Alisa Peterson. We are two Realtors who work at Gibson Sotheby’s International Realty in Boston. We formed Matthew and Alisa Group Real Estate in 2011 as a way to better serve our clients through the process of real estate transactions. We complement each other by each coming to the team with different strengths, backgrounds, and philosophies. Among the things we share are the core values of customer service, integrity, honesty, and hard work.

If you are beginning your search or want to get more information on the area and the current real estate market, we are available for a no-obligation consult. Our past clients have found this to be a helpful first step that saved them time and the frustration of working with agents who do not fully understand their clients’ goals. The consult will give you a chance to meet us and ask any questions while allowing us to assess the best approach to your search.

Whether you are buying a home, investing in property, selling property, relocating, or renting out property we are able to offer our insight and help you reach your real estate goals.

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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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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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Real Estate Tips I Learned from Realtors in Movies

As I was watching Downton Abbey recently, I was amazed how the estate was the real star of the show rather than the characters. It made me think about movies I’ve seen where the house was the real star. Then I started thinking about how Realtors were portrayed in other movies. After making a list of of real estate movies, I began to analyze what real estate tips I could take away from the Realtors featured in those movies.

Poltergeist, the story of a good house gone badPoltergeist tells the story of a family’s dream home turning into a nightmare. Craig T. Nelson’s character is a Realtor who moved his family into a new home which is part of his company’s new real estate development. What he didn’t know was the real estate developers built this home over an old cemetery and the contractors only moved the head stones. What can we learn from this horror classic? If you can, try to find out if the house is built over a cemetery. Supposedly spirits get angry when their eternal rest is disturbed. In Massachusetts, this may not have happened because this would fall under stigmatized property and would have to be disclosed.

American Beauty shows that looking deeper can revel something differentAmerican Beauty plays on the theme that beauty on the outside can’t hide the ugly inside. Annette Bening gave a wonderful performance as an insecure real estate broker that focuses on superficial beauty and material possessions. She makes herself and her listings appear flawless. What can we learn from this Academy Award winning picture? No matter how perfect she made her life seem, it was not real, and she would never be happy. Trying to make yourself or your listings into something they are not, will never fool anyone. The right way to market real estate and your own attributes are to accent the strengths instead of covering up the weaknesses.

The Money Pit is another story of a dream home turning into a nightmare. But unlike ghosts stealing children into the TV, it’s a the perfect house that falls apart the second the couple moves in. When first-time homebuyers, played by Tom Hanks and Shelley Long, move into what could be their dream home, they soon discover they were duped and the more they fix, the more  has to be fixed. In the end, after all the renovation and costs, the foundation was strong and everything worked out. What can be learned from this movie? Always get your home inspected!

Glengarry Glen Ross shows salesmen at their worst, willing do whatever it takes to make a sale. This story is focused on a group of desperate real estate salesmen. Each character has different motivation for why they do their job and what they will do to make a sale. What can be learned from this movie? You should never feel like you are being sold because your agent should have your best interests in mind. These men had their interests and their needs in mind and their clients were mere obstacles to overcome toward getting what they needed. We also learned “coffee is for closers.”

Trainspotting features real estate only briefly, but it shows London real estate can be a bigger high than heroin. When the main character, Mark Renton, sobers from his heroin addiction and  finds his life in Edinburgh boring and meaningless, he moves to London and becomes a property letting agent. A property letting agent is basically a real estate agent that focuses on rentals. Due to ties at home, he has to leave, but in the end he chooses life. What can be learned from this movie? Renton’s life was boring and meaningless, when he moved to London the excitement and challenge that came from working in real estate, brought a sense of purpose he had been missing. This lesson may be more for future Realtors but if you are feeling trapped in mundane experiences, real estate may be a career to consider.

Working in real estate is exciting and challenging. Every business has drawbacks and unscrupulous people, which is why it is crucial to work with someone that you do trust and who truly understands your goals. If you are interested in speaking with a Realtor about your real estate needs (buying, selling, renting, etc.), contact the Realtors of Matthew and Alisa Group Real Estate.

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Our Real Estate Blog

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Welcome to our real estate blog.

We are Matthew Gaskill and Alisa Peterson, two Realtors with Gibson Sotheby’s International Realty. We formed Matthew and Alisa Group Real Estate in 2011 because we were searching for a better way to better serve our clients through the process of real estate transactions. Each of us came to the team with different strengths, backgrounds, and philosophies yet sharing the core values of customer service, integrity, honesty, and hard work. Because of this, we can offer two Realtors for the price of one.

And as the next step in the development of Matthew and Alisa Group Real Estate, we are proud to introduce magrealestate.com.

Matthew and Alisa Group Real Estate Blog and Website

We invested in this real estate website because it is the most advanced real estate technology available for us to offer to our clients. The user friendly interface works together with a powerful search tool accessing all available property for sale and for rent in the Metro Boston area. These dynamic features make our website a one stop real estate searching tool that can be accessed on any computer or mobile device.

If you are renting or selling your property:

  • Your property will be featured on our Exclusive Listings page.
  • Our website syndicates your property to the sites buyers and renters use when searching for real estate.
  • With integrated social media, your property can gain viral traction and get maximum exposure on multiple social networks.

If you are searching for a home to buy or rent:

  • Save searches and receive updates when new properties are listed that match your criteria.
  • Save notes to your profile with your thoughts and questions on properties you view.
  • Email any listing to anyone you choose.
  • Share properties via social networks to get the opinions of your sphere.
  • Use integrated Walk Score, Yelp, education.com, and Zillow functions for information on a neighborhood or area.

We believe in “Luxury Properties and Service at Every Price Point” and we appreciate the opportunity to prove it.

The Realtors behind Matthew and Alisa Group Real Estate BlogLook around and contact us if you have any questions or if we can help in any way. If you want to be notified of our latest real estate articles and happenings in and around Boston connect with us on social media, subscribe to our monthly email newsletters, or subscribe to our blog via RSS or email.

Again, welcome to our real estate blog and website.

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