Tag Archives: first-time home buyer

Should You Work With a Realtor to Buy Property?

There was a time when the only way a person could find a home for sale was searching for signs on lawns, scanning the paper, or going to a real estate office and having an agent flip through a binder of homes. Today, buyers can find what’s available while in their pajama’s at 3am. The internet makes it possible to learn just about everything regarding buying property. There is only one thing that the internet will not prepare you for, the emotions involved. The home you can see yourself raising a family and growing old in or rejuvenating your spirit of whimsy may have been the home the seller never thought they would ever leave and may still have a hard time parting with. The dream home may have another offer that you have to compete with. The perfect condo may be a short sale and you will have to wait months before you know if it is yours. Thousands of possible scenarios could come up and make you feel unprepared.

Buyers, the main reason you should work with a Realtor is unless you have bought many times before, you don’t know what you are doing. I am not saying this to be mean or to undermine anyone, I work with many seasoned Realtors that have been doing nothing but representing buyers and sellers for decades and even they say they learn something new at every deal. The real estate market is a volatile emotional animal and just when you think you have the reins, something changes.

Use a Realtor to Buy PropertyYou may be thinking that if you are not working with a Realtor, maybe you can pass the savings on to the seller and get a better deal. Nice idea, but wrong. If the seller already has a Realtor, the seller has already signed an agreement to pay the Realtor their commission. If you are not working with a Realtor, the seller’s agent keeps the full commission, without working to protect your interests. And without representation you are on uneven footing. The seller has a knowledgable professional working on their behalf with their interests in mind to get the the best possible deal. However, there is the opportunity for dual agency. Once the paperwork is signed, the agent becomes a neutral party. Even in this scenario, you will not get a better deal, the agent only passes information between you and the seller without analysis, while still receiving the commission agreed upon when the listing contract was signed.

If you are in a situation where you are not working with a Realtor and found a home that is for-sale-by-owner (FSBO) then you can potentially save the seller money and maybe get a lower price for the property. According to a survey by the National Association of Realtors of the latest trends of Buyers and Sellers, only 9% of homes on the market nationwide were FSBO properties. The majority of homes that are sold by owner were sold to a buyer that the seller knew beforehand. And with most FSBO sellers willing to work with a buyer’s agent and pay the agent’s commission, wouldn’t you prefer someone who does this every day preparing the paperwork and orchestrating the transaction to close?

Always remember Caveat Emptor or “let the buyer beware”. If you already know what the buying process entails and what to look for in a property, then you may not need an agent. But it is always better to have a professional with your best interests in mind when making a purchase in real estate and who is able to remove emotion from the process. Another agent once told me “the internet can give you information, but it can’t give you knowledge.” Even if you think you know what to expect, something can always come up that you never considered.

If you are interested in learning more about the home buying process and what we do to find you a home and protect your interests, contact the Realtors of the Matthew and Alisa Group.

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The Matthew and Alisa Group Home Buying Process Class was a Success!

This is a quick blog thanking everyone one for joining us at last night’s Home Buying Process Class!

We had a great turn out of buyers eager to learn about the home buying process. Matthew Gaskill and Alisa Peterson discussed the market conditions to give everyone an understanding of what to expect when searching to buy property this season. With properties going under-agreement as soon as they hit the market, we wanted to make sure that buyers understand how quickly they need to move to buy property.

Joe Smith, a knowledgeable lender from Guaranteed Rate explained what lenders look for when someone applies for a mortgage and the different types of loan programs available to homebuyers, both first-time home buyers and more seasoned  home buyers. He knows just as well as we do how competitive the market is right now and without proper financial backing (i.e. pre-approval letter), sellers won’t even consider the offer.

The wonderful David Datz, Esq., a real estate attorney, explained how important it is to assemble the right team to guide you through this process. This is one of the biggest purchases you can make and it is essential to have knowledgable professionals to explain what you are buying and what you are signing.

Thank you again to Stella Restaurant for providing delicious food and a great space for us to host our class. As you can see from the video, we had quite a few eager buyers ready to learn about the home buying process and I know there are more that were not able to make it.  We will be planning another class in month or two. If you are interested in attending, please subscribe to our newsletter and subscribe to our blog and we will keep you posted on our next class. These classes are meant for anyone interested in learning about the buying process in the current Boston real estate sales market. If you are a first-time home buyer, third-time home buyer, or an investor, you are welcome to join us and learn something new!

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4 Actions to Do Today to Buy Property in 2013 Real Estate Market

The past year has seen plenty of excitement in the real estate sales market. Even though the inventory was low, many properties went under-agreement quickly and with multiple offers on the table. Many buyers we worked with came out on top after the best and final while others didn’t. For those who didn’t, we were close a few times and in other cases the buyer wasn’t mentally and emotionally prepared for battle.

Here are a few tips to get ahead now for the buying frenzy of 2013:

1) Get your finances in order!

I don’t mean check your bank account and see if you have enough in there to cover a down payment. If you have certain bills hanging over your head, pay them off. Check your credit to make sure there are no issues you are not aware of.

Schedule time to meet with a lender. You can go to your local branch of your bank, but it may be to your best interest to investigate a few lenders. Your real estate agent should be able to provide the names of at least a couple lenders who can make the transaction as easy as possible. Have them review your credit, tell you what sale price you will quality for, and give you a pre-approval letter. *

*Check with the lender to see how long the letter is good for. If you decide to wait until the summer to buy, the letter may expire.

2) Do your research.

Preparing Today to Buy TomorrowIf you are new to the real estate sales market or have taken a break, do your research on what is going on in the neighborhood(s) of your preference. Once you have taken care of the first step and know what your finances are and what you can spend, search what you can get in the neighborhood where you want buy property. Prices may fluctuate by the time you are actively searching, but at least you will have a better understanding of the real estate sales market and will be less surprised come spring.

3) Speak with a Realtor now.

Even though the beginning of the year is the slower season in the real estate sales market, there are still Realtors out there that will be happy to talk to about how to buy property and help you understand the real estate market. Find someone you trust or who comes recommended by family or friends. You may have a distant cousin or a friend of a friend who moonlights as an agent, but will they provide the same service as a full-time experienced Realtor? Talk to both and then make your decision.

4) Get rid of stuff you don’t need and don’t buy new furnishings that will create a hurdle in finding your perfect home.

I love helping find my clients buy property, whether for an investment, a starter home, or a place to grow old in. However, when it comes to moving, there is nothing I hate more. From now on my plan is to get rid of everything I don’t need or use. Before you decide whether or not to keep an item, take a moment to think, “is this something I will want to pack, move, and unpack.” With this in mind, don’t buy things now for a home you will like to have in the future. It is incredibly frustrating when you buy a huge couch because you plan to buy a bigger space and it was on sale. Then you find the almost perfect home, but the layout doesn’t work with the couch.

Buying property is an emotional endeavor. At times it will be frustrating and heart-breaking, but the more you are prepared before you start, the stronger an opponent you will be when it’s time for battle.

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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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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.

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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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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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Buying a Home: How Do You Know If You Are Ready?

If you have been searching for rentals in Boston in the last couple years, you may have noticed that it is tough. Inventory is limited and prices keep rising. There are three things renters can do. One: pay the rising rates. Two: look farther outside the city than originally planned. Three: stop renting and purchase. Many people today feel that investing in real estate is safer than investing in stocks and with good reason. Real estate in Boston has not been hurt as much as the rest of the country and rentals in the city are consistently in high demand. If you are on the fence on buying real estate, here are a couple signs you may be ready.

Buying real estate in Boston may be a better option than rentingOne: you know what you want. If you have a realistic idea of the size you need and the location where you want to live for the next few years and you  haven’t found it on the rental market, take a look at what is on the sales market. The rental market in Boston favors landlords. The inventory is limited and owners can get not only their asking price but also first month’s rent, last month’s rent, and security deposit (each equal to one month) and not have to pay a broker’s fee.

Two: you have the finances. The upfront costs of renting an apartment in Boston are higher than most cities around the nation. Many people looking for quality rentals in Boston  are surprised how little they get for the money. With many banks loosening restrictions on who can get mortgages, it is worth your time to speak with a mortgage broker about types of loans and available rates.

If you are weary of buying because you do not want to be locked into a mortgage on the chance your career moves you to another city, keep in mind that you could hold onto your home as an investment property. With a tenant paying rent, you can build equity while someone pays your mortgage for you.

Contact the Realtors of Matthew and Alisa Group Real Estate if you are interested in learning more about purchasing a home.

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A First-Time Home Buyer’s Emotions

Buying a home is one of the most stressful experiencesA dear friend of mine recently put in an offer on her first home. This could be the most emotional I have ever seen her and I was at her wedding. She was nervous, excited, and on edge waiting for the phone to ring with news from her real estate agent. She was buying her first home on the South Shore of Boston, an area beyond my expertise, so  my role was that of a friend, a friend who happens to be a Realtor.

The friend in me wanted to say something to help her feel better but the Realtor in me knew her situation was not traditional and somewhat intimidating for a first home purchase. The listing went on the market not long before she and her husband saw it. Because they were not pre-approved, the another offer was accepted before they could get their finances in order. Fortunately for them the offer fell through and they were able to put in their offer right away but so did another couple.

The house was listed using the uncommon method of value price range, meaning the owner would entertain offers between x and y. After they put in their offer, they learned the owner would not provoke a bidding war; he would look at each parties’ best and final offer before choosing the one he liked most. Talk about nerve racking! Of course the listing agent could not disclose what the other offer was so they had to blindly decide what the other couple’s best offer could be and make theirs a little better.

All I could say, as her hand was glued to her phone, was, “Worst case scenario, you don’t get the house. Best case scenario, you bought your first home. But either way, once you know, you will know what to do next.”

Buying a home can be stressful, emotional, and overwhelming whether it’s your first home or your fifth home. One source of comfort through this experience should be your Realtor. This was my friend’s first home buying experience and she was grateful to have an agent that she was completely comfortable with, felt confident in, and knew was in their corner.

We at Matthew and Alisa Group Real Estate understand the emotions that can go into buying a home. We are available to discuss the process of buying property and specialize in assisting first-time homebuyers.

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