Tag Archives: house

Buying a House? Get Pre-Approved for a Mortgage First

Get Pre-Approved Before BuyingI’ve written before about the home buying process and the steps buyers need to take to become home owners. Yet I still see and speak with many buyers that do not have their pre-approval letter or have not spoken with a lender. In a buyer’s market (more listings for sale than buyers) or a “normal” market where not every listing goes under-agreement after the first open house, I could understand moving at a slower pace. Now is not that market. Now you are running with the bulls. If you do not want to get trampled, first – don’t wear red, and second – speak with a lender and get pre-approved.

This is not just in my corner of the real estate world. This is true all over the nation (with few exceptions). Last year sales of occupied homes were the highest they have been in five years, however the inventory is at a 13 year low. Which is prompting a need for construction of new homes and condo buildings. August saw the lowest supply of new construction homes on the market since 1963 at 143,000 units. Last month it rose to 150,000. At this rate, it would take a little over four months to exhaust all the supply of new construction off the market.

The lenders we work with are professional, responsive, and in some cases, superheros. It takes little to no time at all to get a pre-approval letter. In this market, if you want a chance to buy a home you want, have a pre-approval letter before you see it. If you find a home first and then try to get everything in order, you can lose out. If you plan to get a mortgage and do not submit a pre-approval letter, sellers will consider your application incomplete. And if multiple offers are submitted, your offer will end up at the bottom of the pile, behind those with a pre-approval letter and buyers paying cash.

We want to help you put the strongest offer forward, so you can secure the property. If you need the recommendation of lenders to speak with, we would be happy to provide the names of those lenders we feel are the best in the business.

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ROI: 99 Projects and a Bath Ain’t One – REMIX

Home Improvement ProjectsLast year I wrote about what projects brought the best return on investment according to the annual Cost vs Value Report. This year the report is out again but showed a couple of differences.

MidRange Projects:

Top 5 Best ROI Projects in Boston

1- Minor Kitchen Remodel 88.5% ROI

2- Deck Addition (wood) 86% ROI

3- Enty Door Replacement (steel) 80.9% ROI

4- [tie] Attic Bedroom Remodel and Siding Replacement (vinyl) 78.1% ROI

5- Window Replacement (wood) 77.5% ROI

Top 5 ROI Projects National Average

1- Entry Door Replacement (steel) 85.6% ROI

2- Deck Addition (wood) 77.3% ROI

3- Garage Door Replacement 75.7% ROI

4-Minor Kitchen Remodel 75.4% ROI

5- Window Replacement (wood) 73.3% ROI

Upscale Projects:

Top 5 ROI Projects in Boston

1-Siding Replacement (fiber-cement) 86.4% ROI

2- Garage Door Replacement 77.8% ROI

3-Siding Replacement (foam-backed vinyl) 77.6% ROI

4-Window Replacement (vinyl) 76.4% ROI

5- Window Replacement (wood) 74.7% ROI

Top 5 ROI Projects National Average

1-Siding Replacement (fiber-cement) 79.3% ROI

2- Garage Door Replacement 75.2% ROI

3-Siding Replacement (foam-backed vinyl) 71.8% ROI

4-Window Replacement (vinyl) 71.2% ROI

5- Window Replacement (wood) 68.4% ROI

As you can see, the more you spend does not mean the more you get back. Before beginning any home improvement project it is important to consider the purpose for the project. Yielding a high return on investment is good to consider, but if you have no intention to sell anytime soon, there is no reason not to make a house your home. Once you have decided to pursue a project make sure to use the right contractor, no matter the project, the right contractor will save money in the long run.

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Christmas Tree Safety: Listen to Sleigh Bells not Fire Alarms

The holidays can be the most beautiful time of the year. The decorations, the lights, and the cheer in everyone’s face can turn the dreary weather into something magical. However, if you are not careful, these wonderful decorations can cause more damage than joy.

According to the Nation Fire Prevention Association, the U.S. Fire Department annually responds to an average of 240 home fires started from Christmas trees.

  • 33% of the fires are caused by electrical problems
  • 20% of the fires are caused by being too close to a heat source
  • 11% of the fires are started from candles

These Christmas tree fires annually cause:

  • 13 deaths
  • 27 injuries
  • $16.7 million in direct property damage

Holiday lights are involved in an average of 150 home fires per year. 73% are caused by electrical problems and 15% are caused by having flammable objects too close to lights. These fires result in an average of:

  • 8 deaths
  • 14 injuries
  • $8.5 million in direct property damage
Here are a few tips from The U.S. Fire Administration for Christmas tree safety:
 

The Holidays are about spending time with those you love. Of course, it is the time of year when we are trying to quickly finish off projects at work, complete our shopping, visiting extended family, enjoying New Years celebrations, so on and so forth. It can be easy to forget something so small as filling the tree stand with water. And it is easy to use the lights you already have, rather than going to the store to buy replacements. Keep in mind, these simple steps toward Christmas tree safety can prevent damage and tragedy to your home and your loved ones this holiday season.

Infographic courtesy of authoritysafes.com

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Is the Benjamin Mansion Boston’s Finest Restoration?

It is not often I walk through a home and see so many correct choices made on a development project.

I recently had the honor of previewing the single-family home for sale at 74 Beacon Street for an international buyer client I have been working with. The townhouse was originally built in 1828 by architect Asher Benjamin, who was best known for the Old West Church and the Charles Street Meeting House. Some say the wealthy buyers of these Asher Benjamin mansions chose the Beacon Street location because they viewed the newly formed “flat of Beacon Hill” as a superior location to the steep slope of Mt. Vernon Street. Although, in reality, these mansions were located near the city dump at the bottom of Beacon Street when built. Not until Back Bay was filled in did the area start to transform into the prime real estate we consider it today.

The Benjamin Mansion at 74 Beacon Street

One of the developers involved in the restoration grew up in a townhouse in London and her knowledge was an asset as the development team undertook a three-year gut-renovation project. The result was a restoration blending old-world detail and modern amenities. Some of those amenities include a heated rooftop endless infinity lap pool, deeded parking and a Brimmer Street garage space, an elevator, two roof decks, a patio, smart home technology, and a laundry room GQ found worthy of a Tom Brady photo shoot.

The price does reflect the quality at $1769 a square foot which is a price usually reserved for the first block of Comm Ave, Louisburg Square, and high-end buildings such as the Mandarin Oriental or the Carlton House.

Schedule a consultation with a Realtor

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The Mason House: Back Bay’s Latest Historic Mansion for Sale

The Mason Home: Million-Dollar Historic MansionNot too long ago I wrote about the Ames Webster Mansion at 306 Dartmouth St in Boston’s Back Bay, the incredible historic mansion that has been on the sales market for just shy of 800 days. At the time I wrote about the Ames Webster Mansion, there was no comparable property in Boston proper. This has now changed as The Mason House has come onto the sales market.

I recently had the privilege of touring The Mason House at 211 Commonwealth Ave and I feel it was a privilege. The Mason House is a single-family mansion built in 1883 by Rotch & Tilden architects in the Colonial Revival style for William Powell Mason. Situated across from the Commonwealth Mall between Exeter St and Fairfield St, every aspect of this home was designed with meticulous attention. The facade of the building is a seemingly simple brick exterior, but once inside, the grandeur within is revealed to the fortunate few to walk through the entrance. The moment you open the immense door and are welcomed into the incredible foyer, you do feel like one of the fortunate few.

The Mason Home's Formal Salon at 211 Comm AveThe basics of this brick mansion are as follows: 5 floors, 11 bedroom, 9 bathrooms, 14 fireplaces, private terrace, enclosed garden, elevator, au-pair suite, two wet bars, butler’s kitchen, and a heated garage that fits up to 5 cars. All of these features found in one Back Bay home is unique, but what truly sets this home apart from other multi-million dollar mansions are the exquisite details. For example, the beautifully patterned moldings along the crown, walls, and fireplace in the formal salon gives an air of delicacy and refinement. The formal dining room with coffered ceiling and restored mahogany paneling exudes formality and regality.

The Mason Home features an incredible music roomThe piece de resistance has to be the music room added in 1897. I believe the music room is reminiscent of the Pantheon in Rome, Italy with a stained-glassed skylight set into the coffered half-dome ceiling at the room’s entrance. The dome in the center of the room is believed to be the first architectural element in Boston designed specifically for electric lights, which were used to illuminate the stucco ceiling details. The music room was added by Fanny Mason, the daughter of the William Powell Mason, who founded the Boston Symphony and the Peabody-Mason Music Foundation. In this room, Fanny Mason hosted many musical performances by renowned artists of the time.

The Mason House seems immense and overwhelming as a whole, but each room achieves an intimacy that can make you feel comfortably at home. This trophy property is available for the asking price of $17,900,000 and since the previous owners have renovated many of the rooms (including the kitchen) for our modern times, very few renovations would be needed for the new owners to call it home.

Schedule a consultation with a realtor

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ROI: 99 Projects and a Bath Ain’t One

What Projects Bring the Best Return on Investment

When starting to do any renovations or improvements on a property the most important factor to consider is who or what the work is for. If this a property that can be called home for generations, then go personal, build it to fit your style, something that you want and will want for years. If the work is needed but in a property that you will out grow within several years, consider a practical approach. The more personal style shown in a project, most likely the less of a return on investment (or “ROI”) you will get at resale.

The cost vs value report 2011-2012 surveyed 35 remodeling projects over 80 cities that range from mid-range to upscale projects. According to this survey, replacement projects had the better return versus remodeling projects and mid-range projects recouped their costs more than upscale.

The top 5 projects that showed the best return at resale. Remember this is the national average and results may vary depending on location.

  1. Fiber-cement siding. This immediately improves curb appeal and 78% of the cost is recouped for a mid-range replacement.
  2. Entry door replacement. Again improves curb appeal and 72.8% of the cost is recouped for a mid-range replacement.
  3. Attic bedroom. This is a bigger project that adds an extra bedroom and bathroom and stays within the home’s original footprint. 72.5% of the cost is recouped. On average this project can cost $50,000 and has a value of $36,000 at resale.
  4. Minor kitchen remodel. This is a project that doesn’t have to cost very much if you think of it as a facelift. Replacing cabinets, hardware, countertops, and old appliances with energy efficient models can recoup 72.1% of the cost.
  5. Garage door replacement. 72.1% of the cost is recouped but this is a project that can vary in price depending on the home and the materials that have to be used. For a detached garage, an uninsulated door is fine. But if the garage is part of the house or rooms exist above the garage, spending more for an insulated door is necessary. Either way this project again immediately improves curb appeal.

The projects with the least return on investment are additions such as a sunroom or master suite. Remodeling a home office or bathrooms are also least likely to see a return on the dollars you put into the project, the reason being more people would want an extra bedroom rather than a home office and bathroom projects rank so low due to the expense. Taking a smaller bathroom and turning it into a spa also takes square footage away from other areas of the home and changes the original footprint of the home.

Renovations That Showcase Personality May Hurt ResaleResale is just one factor to consider when doing home improvement projects. If this is a home you have no intention of selling, making it what you want is more important, within reason. If your home is on top of your neighbors, you may want to tone down how much personality you show on the exterior of your home because it may make it stand out (and not in a good way).

Visit the Cost vs Value Report to see the full data and learn more about cost vs value. On the site, you can compare the data nationally, regionally, and by city.

To find your next project or your next home, contact the Realtors of Matthew and Alisa Group Real Estate.

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Renting Your Home that has Not Sold

If your property has been sitting on the sales market for a while and you have already moved, you may want to consider renting your home. A tenant’s rent payment can pay for the mortgage, which can take off the pressure that might cause you to make rash financial decisions. You may decide in the end to keep the home as an investment property or you could wait until the market improves to sell your property.

The housing market has been on a roller coaster to say the least and Boston has not been immune. Rental property in Boston continues to be in high demand. But before you decide on renting your home consider a few things.

When to start the lease is an important factor to consider. September 1st has the most turnover of any date for rentals in Boston and any time between the spring and September 1 is considered to be “in season.” Winter is the worst time for renting your home because less people are looking for housing at that time of year.

South End Brownstone that can be Rented Out while on Sales MarketBecause Boston’s rental market has such dramatic seasons, you need to factor this into your decision of how long of a lease you want. If you want to keep your home on the sales market, a short-term lease gives you the most flexibility but there is the risk of gaps in occupancy. Also know that most short-term tenants want their rental to be furnished. Fortunately there are many companies throughout Boston that will furnish a home for a monthly rate, but furnishing a condo or a house is not cheap.

To secure a long-term tenant, it would be best to commit to taking your property off the sales market once a lease in in place since tenants are unlikely to commit to the possibility of showing the property for sale and then having to move if a sale does occur. With a long-term lease you would be less likely to have gaps in occupancy and you can structure the lease length to work to your advantage. For instance, if you want to put your home back up for sale in a year, have the lease run until the end of January or February of the following year, so you can have it ready for the spring sales market.

You will also need to figure out a fair price to ask for renting your home. Like pricing your home for sale, the right price for renting your home can have it rented quickly. For the best insight into the current market, get the opinion of knowledgeable Realtors.

Renting your home can be a great option if isn’t selling, but it is important that you know what options are available and what will work best for you. For more information, contact the Realtors of Matthew and Alisa Group Real Estate.

Schedule a consultation with a realtor

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