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3 Tips to Overcoming Fear and Panic that Comes with Buying or Selling Real Estate

Congratulations! You have decided to make a major life change. But did you realize every major life decision will be filled with doubt, confusion, and stress? Depending on what stage in life you are in, you may have an idea of what to expect. However, since we are all human, no matter how many times you can go through something, major life changes will take an emotional toll on us all. Here are three ways to at least manage some of the emotional turmoil during a real estate transaction.

1) Know what to expect.

One thing my teammate and I require is a consult before moving forward on any real estate journey. Whether you want to buy a home or sell a home, we insist taking the time to sit down and talk about the real estate market, how it will affect you, and what your expectations and goals are. Having a clear understanding on what you want, what you can expect, and how we can help will relieve a good amount of stress.

2) You are not a passive participant in this process.

About the Make the JumpAlliteration aside, this is a great mantra to repeat to yourself. If you feel stalled in the process, try something different. Buyers, you can search a different area or price range. You don’t have to go higher, you can look lower and consider how you can make renovations. Sellers, you can adjust the price or add incentives. Pricing and staging can have the most effect on how people react to your property. If the property is priced fair for the market and it shows beautifully, get creative! If you are hearing an issue is a lack of parking, offer to pay to rent a parking spot nearby for a year. But if you are not discussing your frustrations with your Realtor or your willingness to be creative, you may continue to feel dis-hearted and discouraged.

3) Be confident in your decision.

There will never be 100% certainty in any decision you make; this is a fact of life we all have to accept. But there is always the best decision to make to help you achieve your goals. No one buys a house to buy a house, a deeper reason is always present. Whether you want to invest in real estate and build wealth, have a home to raise a family near good schools, or have a condo in the city to enjoy the lifestyle, a deeper goal is involved in the purchase. The same is true with selling a home. Once you are clear on the reason you are doing something, the decision becomes a more confident one.

None of these tips are achievable without clear and continuous communication between you and your Realtor and especially you and your partner. A major life change is difficult to go through alone, being open and honest about your wants and needs will only make the process less stressful and more rewarding.

Posted in Real Estate Sales Market, Real Estate Tips, Real Estate Transactions, Sell property | Tagged , , , , , , | 4 Comments

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.

Posted in Boston Property, Buy Property, Condo, House, Real Estate Sales Market, Real Estate Transactions | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Home Improvement Projects Big or Small Need the Right Contractor

Like many people, I love watching home improvement shows on HGTV. The designers and contractors are fun, happy, and always satisfy their client. They make it look easy and affordable to tackle any home improvement project. The trouble comes when the next show is a home improvement “gone wrong,” showing how doing a simple project wrong can cost much more than never doing the work to begin with. But some home improvements cannot be held off for long and ultimately need to be done.

Apart from auditioning to be on an HGTV show, what do you need to do to make a renovation your home? You can go to Home Depot or Lowe’s and see what it would take to do it yourself. If DIY is not an option, contact a contractor. The usual ways to find a contractor are to ask friends or colleagues and search Yelp or Angie’s List. Not many people think to ask their Realtor. Even if it’s been years since you’ve bought your home, your Realtor has a select database of all kinds of contractors they and others in their company have used and your Realtor would be happy to help you find someone.

Once you have a name, don’t just hire them, interview them. In fact, it would be better to have more than one name.

A few key factors to look for in your contractor:

  • Make sure they are licensed, bonded, and certified. If your home was built before 1978, a contractor has to RRP (repair, renovate, and paint) certified. Since homes before 1978 may have used lead paint, certified contractors will know the new regulations and guidelines to make home improvements safely.
  • How long can you live with a blue bathroom?Trust your contractor. This is why I recommend interviewing a few contractors. When I say, “interview,” I don’t mean pick the one with the lowest quote. They may say the home improvement will cost X and be done by Y, but there may be delays and obstacles, making the price XXX and done by “who knows when.” Ask about other similar projects they have done, how long it took, etc. It’s crucial to feel comfortable and trust your contractor. This way if something does come up, you will listen to them even if it’s not something you want to hear.
  • Ask about subcontractors they use and research them. Certain home improvement projects will require your primary contractor to use subcontractors (plumbers, electrician, etc.). Like your Realtor, a contractor has spent years to develop a trusted list of vendors that work in every aspect they may need.

Keep in mind if this project is for your enjoyment or resale value. If your home improvement project is for resale proposes, consult at Realtor to find out how much value it will actually add to your listing price. Also read what projects get the best ROI before starting a home improvement project.

Posted in Real Estate Tips, Renovation | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Exclusive New Listing: 141 Arlington Street #4 in Bay Village

Alisa Peterson and I are proud to announce our new listing at 141 Arlington Street #4, a condo in Bay Village, the neighborhood between the South End and Back Bay. This property and its ideal location would make a perfect fit for a first home, an investment property, or a pied-à-terre. The home is a turnkey possibility as the owner will consider selling as a furnished condo.

141 Arlington Street condo for saleThe sunny one bedroom condo in Bay Village was gut renovated in 2003 when the building was converted to condos. And 141 Arlington Street #4 was built to maximize space. The condo is west facing with unblocked afternoon light through three large windows. Hardwood floors are found throughout the condo and ample storage exists in both the closet and cabinetry. The building features professional management, common laundry, and extra storage private to the unit.

As far as an investment property the condo offers both a cap rate over 5% and a positive cash flow. Combined with an area with impressive historical appreciation rates, 141 Arlington Street #4 is positioned as a excellent investment property.

The Bay Village neighborhood is a convenient location with access to public transportation options such as the Green Line at Arlington Station and the Commuter and Orange Lines at Back Bay Station. Entrance and exit ramps to I-93 and the Mass Pike (I-90) are also nearby. And it is an easy walk to Back Bay, the South End, the Theater District, and Midtown, and Beacon Hill.

Contact us with any questions or to schedule a showing of the condo at 141 Arlington Street #4. Or click below to subscribe to our newsletter for email alerts of new listings.

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Posted in Boston Property, Condo, First Home, Investment Property, Property for Sale, Rental Property | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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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Posted in Buy Property, Real Estate Sales Market, Real Estate Tips, Real Estate Transactions, Realtor, Sell property | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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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Is a Fixer-Upper For You?

Many people buying a home for the first time believe they will know what home to buy because they will fall in love. This is somewhat true, but as the saying goes “you can’t judge a book by it’s cover.” In competitive real estate markets, love will take some work and the question you have to ask yourself is how much love (and work) are you comfortable putting in?

Every homebuyer needs to be flexible in certain areas of their criteria. In an ideal world, a buyer finds the perfect home in the area they want and the house is move-in ready (or a turn-key property in realtor speak).

A fixer-upper may be an option to consider

If location is the most important factor in your search and nothing is available in your price range, you might want expand your price range. I’m not only advocating looking at higher priced properties, but also those at a lower price point, which will require some level of renovation. If you find listings matching all of your other criteria but are rough around the edges, take a look and keep an open mind to the possibilities. In competitive real estate markets, the properties with more than the average days on market tend to be fixer-uppers. One of the biggest positives of buying a fixer-upper, is your home can reflect your tastes instead of the seller’s. Another positive is you have a better opportunity to negotiate since many buyers do not want to put in the time, money, or effort for renovations. Less competition from other buyers means more leverage when it comes time to negotiate. Once you have purchased the property and made improvements, you will see a much quicker appreciation in your asset’s value. The improvements do not have to be top-of -the-line renovations to see a quick appreciation, many simpler projects can bring a strong return on your investment.

Keep in mind renovations are not for everyone. Unless you plan to do a renovation yourself, you can never guarantee how long the work will actually take. Projects can be delayed for all kinds of reasons but the worst case scenario comes from the fact not everything can found during inspection and what can start as a simple project can turn into something major. A dream home can turn into a money pit, but a looked over fixer-upper, can be the home you never knew you always wanted.

Buying a home is an emotional process. Like in dating, don’t be discouraged by thinking all the good ones are taken. Sometimes taking a second look on an option that doesn’t seem perfect might become better than what you thought you wanted.

If you are interested in searching property for sale, 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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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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Posted in Boston Property, Buy Property, Condo, Investment Property, Property for Sale | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment