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      Blog :: 04-2013

      Bungling Up Buyer's Bets In A Hot Market

      Are you one of the thousands of Americans who's trying to sell their property in the hope of riding the real estate wave? If so, this article is for you. With the home buying season fastly approaching and the market officially turning on to your good favor (read: it's officially a seller's market), you must think that you're all set to sail off with multiple offers on your home. Well, apparently not - at least not as easily as you think it would be.

      Recent research has uncovered puzzling statistical patterns from the way buyers look for potential investments or their next home. Although it is true that markets across the nation continue to get hotter with listings in respective regions receiving multiple offers just hours after posting, there is also truth to a great number of properties that sit unattended and unnoticed for six to twelve months with no takers and not a single offer.

      According to research done by real estate aggregator Trulia, these so-called "turnoff listings" are the result of miscalculations and missed marketing opportunities on behalf of the seller's property. Plainly said, mispricing, excessive restrictions, and failure to present the property in a good light lead to their stagnation. Further, the research says that the existence of large numbers of unsold homes in the midst of high-activity markets is more common than generally assumed, suggesting that even in the tightest markets, there is an extended wait for some homes that are misrepresented.

      Boston, being one of the key metropolitan cities that is currently and traditionally considered a "hot, active market", is not exempted from this. In fact, 10 percent of listed properties go unsold for 257 days or even more! This is definitely a long stagnant stretch, especially when you consider that the average DOM (Days On Market) in the Greater Boston area is only 42 days.

      Some experts suggest that these unsold, stagnant properties are actually being sabotaged by the sellers themselves - not intentionally, of course, but there are things that the owners do that bungle up their potential buyer's bets. Most commonly, demanding unrealistic selling prices or refusing to negotiate. Understandably, these sellers would want to make the most penny out of their property, but to a fault that it fails to do exactly that.

      Another reason for why some listings take much longer to get snapped up is because of the tight restrictions they apply to the property, most common of which is limited availability for showings and such. In other words, putting a priority on selling your property is essential, and if you're serious about it, you have to have the buyer's schedule in mind, not your own.

      The search also found that other "significant turnoffs" to sellers include:

      • poorly cleaned, messy homes that lack presentation and therefore shows obvious signs of age (translating to maintenance work the buyer needs to attend to)
      • sellers being present and hovering about the property during previews
      • unpleasant and unsolicited smells within the home (whether good or bad scents, try to have a plainly unscented atmosphere)
      • false advertising and misrepresentation of the property

      REMEMBER: Just because houses are selling fast doesn't mean yours will. You've got to think of it as a product you're marketing, not just as your home. Get it in shape to sell. Price it realistically. Be flexible and cooperative on showings and negotiations. Unless it has grossly off-putting features -- costly physical defects, ugly design, bad location, bad schools -- your property should sell.

      Considering to sell? Contact us now for a FREE CONSULTATION! We also VALUATE HOMES FOR FREE! Call us at (617) 505-1781 now.

      Getting Approved: How Lenders Judge You

      As consumers, we're all used to being the one with the power to judge the products and services we purchase and the companies that offer them. But when it comes to financing our new home or refinancing the one we already own, we hand that power over to the mortgage lenders and, more specifically, the underwriters whose sole task is to crunch the numbers based on every bit of information the loan officer asks you to provide as part of the loan application process as well as the collection of documents that you send in later to substantiate the information you've already provided. In general, it's the underwriter that you'll have to suck up to to secure you that loan (if you even find them!). These underwriters attempt to verify two primary things about you in order to meet the bank's criteria for offering you a loan: general creditworthiness and debt-to-income ratio.

      Evaluating creditworthiness

      The first thing the underwriter is concerned with is your general creditworthiness. This will give the lender an idea of your general willingness to repay your debts. There are many ways to determine this, but the most common way is to use a mortgage credit score. This score is based on an analysis of your various credit files. The most popular score is the FICO score offered by Fair Isaac Corporation, but there are others in use as well. The mortgage credit score uses consumer data stored by the three major credit repositories, Experian, TransUnion and Equifax. Remember, your income is generally not part of this calculation, but it is important, as you'll see shortly.

      Early in the loan origination process, the lender will request your permission to pull your credit scores and then purchase a credit score as part of the underwriting process. This number is used to determine how much risk you pose and, in some cases, to match you with the right mortgage loan product. The cost of these reports is generally passed back to you, as a minimal part of your closing costs.

      Debt-to-income ratio

      The second thing the underwriter will want to know is how the new mortgage payment will impact your ability to repay. The traditional calculation for this is the debt-to-income ratio, or DTI. The DTI is a comparison of your monthly gross income (before taxes) and your monthly debts.

      For example, if you pay $400 on credit cards, $200 on car loans and $1,400 a month in rent, your total monthly debt commitment is $2,000. If you make $60,000 a year, your monthly gross income is $60,000 divided by 12 months for a total of $5,000 a month. Your debt-to-income ratio is $2,000 divided by $5,000, which works out to .4 or 40%.

      The debts in question include any consumer debt that would appear on your credit report, such as car loans, credit card debt and installment loans, as well as additional debt such as and if applicable, alimony or child support payments.  Debt-to-income requirements vary by loan program, but typically underwriters are looking to see if the ratio of debt to income -- after the cost of your mortgage principal, interest, real estate taxes, insurance and private mortgage insurance (if required) are all added in -- is lower than about 40 percent. Some lenders require it to be even lower that than.

      There are many other considerations that go into the underwriting of a new mortgage loan, but these areas are generally where underwriters focus their attention. If you know that you're going house hunting soon, it'll be wise to also get your finances in order. How, you ask? There are certainly proven effective ways to mitigate "bad credit", and effectively raise the chances of you securing that first-time homeowner's loan, such as:

      • Increasing the amount you pay monthly to service your debts - extra payments can be applied directly to the principle, lowering your overall debt more quickly.
      • Avoid taking on more debt - you can do this by reducing how much you charge on your credit cards, and by not applying for loans.
      • Postpone large purchases until you have more savings - if you make a larger down payment, you'll have to fund less of the purchase with credit, which will help keep your DTI low.
      • Recalculate your debt-to-income ratio monthly to see where you stand - watching your DTi ratio fall can help you stay motivated to keep your debt manageable, inching you closer to getting a golden parachute of a loan for that perfect piece of property.

      Thinking of buying? Consult with us for free! Call us at (617) 505-1781 NOW!

      The Rent Versus Own Debate

      Spring, they say, is a time for new beginnings in life - an extension of the new year, one could even say. Whether the change is brought about by a new job, a blooming relationship, or a significant life event, these milestones tend to happen this time of the year. But one change that trumps out many others is your decision to buy property. Buying a home is one of those serious directional moves in life, since it grounds you financially and geographically, and offers you the chance of laying down your roots.

      And at this time, when housing prices are starting to rebound and interest rates are still very low, a lot of people are considering 2013 to be a banner year for real estate buyers. But is homeownership the right choice for you and your finances? The answer, of course, is "it depends." However, for many of us there is a clear answer based on where we live, how much money we have saved up, and what our future plans are.

      The "Rent vs. Own" debate has been raging for decades, and will no doubt continue for many decades to come. Here are some important factors you should consider to help determine whether renting or owning a home is the right decision for you.

      Basic Market Trends

      Have you ever heard the saying that the three most important criteria in setting the value of a home are "location, location, location"? Well, that remains true today, but they might want to add: "timing, timing, timing."

      Anyone who watched the gut-wrenching rise and fall of the housing market during the past 10 years can readily attest to the fact that timing has a lot to do with whether a house purchase becomes a good investment or metaphorical anchor tied to your finances.

      Just a quick glance at recent graphs, studies, and surveys show how rapidly home values can increase and decline. Indeed, the line on the graph looks like a roller coaster -- it goes up and up and up and then drops back down, all in the span of a few years. Obviously, you'd want to avoid buying a house at the peak of a housing bubble.

      But how can you avoid it? Math is the answer. In particular, the "price-to-rent" ration helps you navigate these tough market conditions. The formula takes into account the price of renting versus the cost of buying in your area (with many factors included) and gives you a sense of whether the market dynamics favor buying or renting. If are trying to evaluate this, look online for some handy calculators/charts/graphs that show you the price-to-rent ratio for your city. Better yet, head on over to this link and see whether it's better to rent than to buy in your current location.

      Your Financial Picture

      When considering purchasing property, one of the main questions you have to ask yourself is this: does your current financial picture put you in a strong position for home ownership? If not, then buying a house will not be a good idea no matter what the market trends indicate.

      To evaluate your finances and see if you're prepared for homeownership, you'll need to sit down and look at all your financial accounts as well as your income and expectation of future earnings (not to mention job security).

      First, look at any debt you have and calculate how long it would take you to pay it off. If you have a lot of consumer debt and especially if you're struggling to make your monthly payments, then this may not be a good time for you to buy. After all, homeownership is a big commitment, and if things go wrong you can end up on the hook for a big loan. You also won't be able to secure a good interest rate if your debt to income ratio is high.

      With student loan debt -- something Americans of all ages are dealing with right now -- you can certainly buy a house as long as the monthly payments will not overwhelm you.

      Your job security is also a very important factor because, as many people found out during the recession, losing a job while paying a mortgage can be extremely stressful and unpleasant. You can wind up being tied to a location that doesn't have good job prospects, burning through your savings, and possibly losing your house (and equity). So think carefully about any potential threats to your job and career before making the leap into homeownership.

      How Much Do You Have Saved Up?

      Assuming that you're not worried about debt paydown or losing your job, then the most important factor to consider is how much savings you have. Many home purchases require 10 percent or 20 percent as a down payment on a mortgage, and while there are programs for first-time homebuyers and other ways to lower your down payment to 5 percent (or even 3 percent in some cases), that will increase your monthly payment because it will mean your total loan amount will be larger.

      The right down payment amount and home loan amount for you will depend on the factors mentioned above, but in general it's better to have a lot saved up before you apply for a mortgage If you have enough for a 20 percent down payment, you can feel more confident because (A) you're more likely to be approved for a loan and (B) your monthly mortgage payments will be lower. That can make all the difference in your foray into buying a home.

      What Are Your Future Plans?

      One of the things you always hear people talk about is that it doesn't make sense to buy a house if you plan to move in the next five years -- and this is absolutely true. Why? Because buying a house requires lots of fees and "transaction costs" -- these costs are unavoidable and can total up to 5 percent of the cost of the house or more.

      That means if you buy a house and then quickly sell it again you'll have to pay both the costs of buying and the costs of selling in a short time period. And you won't live in the house long enough to enjoy the financial benefits of homeownership, such as appreciation in your home's value.

      It still depends on the individual situation, of course, but the general rule is to avoid buying if you expect you'll need or want to move anytime soon. Ultimately, if you consider all the factors and determine how homeownership can affect your credit score, you will make a good choice.

      Why Buyers Should Consider REO Listings

      It's no secret that it's a little challenging nowadays for those looking to buy property in the city to find what they're looking for. Not because Boston properties currently on the market aren't worth their pretty penny, but because inventories still haven't been replenished since the big buy rush that started last year. And as investors and would-be home owners continue to hunt for good bargains, there seems to be an agreement that grabbing a property now is still better than waiting for something to open up during the height of the market in the spring and summer months.

      But what good is it to be looking now, when you know the market doesn't have much to offer? Well, you might say that, like anything else, it's a matter of patience. But more than that, it's also about knowing where to look.

      For years, many buyers steered clear of foreclosures and short sales. In their minds, such properties were "damaged goods" -- real estate remainders that were likely to be dumps and money pits. Why risk such a big investment on a property sold in distress? Well, for one thing, we're now in a housing market unlike any we've seen in years. Inventory is extremely tight. But, there is a way to find good and relatively new properties available, since the poor economy of the past few years has produced more properties in foreclosure and offered as 'short sales'.

      And so, as you enter the market either for the first time or as a seasoned buyer, you should be on the lookout for "distressed" sales. You might find a great property you'd otherwise have overlooked if you intentionally wrote off foreclosures and short sales. And when the market is tight, looking at these distressed properties make even more sense. It's not comprising your purchase, but it's being practical and smart - especially when you want to ride the real estate wave.

      What are the risks?

      It is true that foreclosures and short sales aren't just your typical buyer/seller situation because they involve more layers in the transaction process. In a bank foreclosure sale (also known as Real Estate Owned or more simple REO), the bank is the seller. Because the bank employees have never lived at the home, they know nothing about the property. To them, the home you're considering buying is simply an asset that needs to be liquidated.

      In the case of a foreclosure, the bank sells the home "as-is" and requires the buyer to sign dozens of documents releasing the bank of any liability. The worst-case scenario: You buy a foreclosure only to discover a major problem, such as a property line dispute or previous leaks that caused mold or whatnot.

      When purchasing a short sale, the seller needs to go to their lender to "approve" the sale. In essence, the owner is trying to sell for less than the loan amount, so they need the bank to approve the sale. Historically, banks are slow to give the thumps-up. This can lead to a situation in which a buyer waits for months for the bank to approve the short sale, only to have the bank reject it. Meanwhile, the buyer has missed out on countless other properties.

      RELATED: click here to read our article on how you can have the fastest closing ever, and get an insight into how you can make the process more efficiently work for you. Follow these our tips and save a week's time of waiting.

      Reasons to consider a foreclosure or short sale home

      A sample of a brand new REO home in Natick, MA

      While there are clearly risks in buying a foreclosure property, we have so much more information now on homes than previous generations. Today's Internet-connected, savvy buyer can learn a great deal about foreclosed and short sale properties before signing on the dotted line. The old saying "no risk, no reward" certainly applies to foreclosures and short sale properties as well, as these sales tend to be priced from 5 percent to as much as 15 percent below the current market value. That's essential to keep in mind, especially now that properties that have recently closed or are currently on the market are closing on an average rate of 12% above asking price.

      Also, keep in mind that foreclosures aren't necessarily 'distressed'. The recently-concluded recession impacted people in all income brackets. Because of that, it's not unusual nor a rarity to find multi-million dollar homes in excellent condition and in good locations in foreclosure or offered in a short sale. In fact, just in the past year alone, Greater Boston has seen many upset sales in both developing and posh neighborhoods such as Brookline, South Boston, and Cambridge.

      How can I minimize the risks?

      When looking for a home in a market where inventory is tight, buying property on foreclosure or on short sale can be a great option. There are many ways to lessen the potential risks. Here are some that we ourselves look at when we recommend REO properties to our clients:

      • Search town records for past building permits to see if anything out of the ordinary was completed or planned for the property.
      • Have the home inspected top to bottom before getting too far along in the process.
      • Knock on neighbors' doors to see what information they have about the home, the neighborhood or the previous owners.
      • Look at the home's previous sales records. Many times the homeowner tried to sell once or twice before becoming distressed. If that's the case, review the home's sales history. If there was ever a contract on it, chances are there might be an inspection report somewhere.

      Look for hidden values

      There may be absolutely nothing wrong with a property in foreclosure or sold in a short sale. The bank has discounted the home because it sells such properties as-is, without disclosures. If you do your homework, you can use this situation to your advantage. And should you learn of a major problem with the house, negotiate with the bank for a lower price.

      Don't forget: Banks aren't in the business of owning homes. They want these properties off their hands as soon as possible. Banks will take seriously any buyer who's well-qualified and ready to close a deal.

      Contact us now at (617)505-1781 and find out what deals and steals you can take advantage of in the Greater Boston area.

      A Week of Sadness, Strength, and Support

      As we mark the first week of remembrance of the tragic events that have changed Boston forever, we at Boston International Real Estate continue to send our praise, prayers, and gratitude to all those who participated, are affected, and bravely assisted in the aftermath of last week's tragedy that has wounded our great city. While it is true that Boston would never be the same because of the bombings, it is also true that we will never be the same in terms of how the world views us: as a resilient and resounding city of strength and a genuine example of the great American spirit. And though we are scorned, we are made even stronger.

      In fact, the strength is still very palpable, as everyone continues to pitch in for Boston's healing. The unwavering cooperation of each and every individual, from businessmen to the plain busy body, has led to the successful apprehension of the people responsible for the gruesome attacks. The unprecedented events of the lockdown last Friday, in particular, drew attention into how much Bostonians wanted to bring to a close a week that has so very much disturbed us emotionally, physically, and mentally. And so we were able to, with justice prevailing.


      The lockdown that led to the successful arrest of Suspect #2 sweeped the city's streetscapes last Friday. And though the city was shutdown, people kept vigilant and  hopeful that the nightmare would already draw to a close. Indeed, never has the city seen such a drastic security system in place. Here's a look into how the historic streets of Downtown Boston paused to pave the way for peace.

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      Though businesses and buildings were closed, it didn't mean that the city stopped supporting its citizens. From Boston to Brighton to Brookline to London, there has been an outpouring of support for Beantown and its residents. Take for example this Brookline Police who went out of his way to bring milk to a stranger's family that was affected by the lockdown. Or the runners in London who have dedicated the race to our fair commonwealth. And though undocumented, there have been numerous individuals out there that have stretched out their hand in order to support one another. These unsung heroes are the greatest assets of our astounding city.


      And though the horror of Monday's event dominated the city throughout most of the week, the real estate industry was one with everyone and in fact, showed that it's determination did not dwindle one bit. Offices were mostly closed, but the life behind the desk continued, as projects continued to pour in to show solidarity to the resurgence of the city.

      Topping off at the Seaport District

      The $122 million Waterside Place in the Seaport District saw its twentieth floor topped off last Tuesday, as developer John Drew considered the event as confirmation of Boston's strength and resilience during tough times. Though the celebration was subdued, the occasion marked the structural completion of the 20-storey tower that is set to add 236 one- two- and three-bedroom units in the Seaport area by later this year.

      Sausage Parcel

      It seems that South Boston's spirit was still on its game throughout the events of last week, as the so-called "Sausage parcel" of lot (aptly named for its weirdly-shaped perimeter), has finally found a tenant to sit on its 30,000 plus square feet of prime real estate. To be named "Residences at 399 Congress Street", the $200 million twenty two-storey project is to add 414 apartments in the hot South station neighborhood. Madison Properties welcomed the Boston Redevelopment Authority's go-ahead of the project last week, with the latter showing support for firms and businesses throughout the city in a time when you would expect one.


      Like everyone else, the real estate industry hasn't stopped short in aiding our fair city throughout this tragedy. On the day of the twin explosions occurred, many of us - both in the industry and in plain sight - offered homes and shelter to those who had been displaced by the bombings. And as our city is on the path to healing, there are still numerous ways you can stand up and support victims and those affected.

      One Fund Boston Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick and Boston Mayor Tom Menino have announced the formation of The One Fund Boston, Inc. to help the people most affected by the tragic events that occurred in Boston on April 15, 2013. To find out more and to donate, please visit OneFundBoston.org.

      Boston Strong Apparel Sports apparel manufacturers like Adidas, New Balance, and varied team franchise stores like the Sox and the Bruins are taking orders for apparel that will assist the victims of the April 15 bombings, as proceeds go directly to the One Boston Fund and the families. Take particular note, too, that these shirts cost $26.20 for the twenty six miles that comprised the marathon's course.

      Restaurant Fund Raisers The Boston restaurant community continues to respond to the bombings at the Boston Marathon with its usual show of generosity and solidarity. Foodie site Eater Boston gives us a list of offers to first responders, fundraising events and more that contribute to the healing and aid to your hunger.

      Commercial Real Estate Comes Roaring Back

      Liberty Mutual, Columbus Ave Back Bay

      It seems that Boston's real estate rebound is now in full swing, with commercial properties also seeing a spike in leases and vacuum of vacancies. One of the top global commercial real estate firms, Jones Lang LaSalle, has been monitoring the local conditions for the commercial sector (especially for its portfolio of properties), and has said that Boston's performance is above the national market, outperforming other "key commercial cities" across the nation.

      In fact, the first quarter of the year showed strong leasing activity in several specific sectors ranging from finance to life sciences and the biomedical industries. Retail is also not far behind, with several new chain establishments setting up shop in the city. Hard numbers show that the vacancy rate in Downtown Boston dipping below 9.6 percent in the first three months of the year, with most activity belonging to the Financial and Innovation Districts. Not far behind is Back Bay with vacancy rates at 12 percent.

      You would think that with numerous commercial developments on schedule for delivery this year and a considerable handful more on the pipeline, office and commercial spaces are projected to have higher vacancy rates. However, most of the commercial space up for delivery this year have already been signed and leased, with most of them having five year leases starting 2014, with a brief concession period for the months remaining in 2013 post-delivery and turnover.

      On the dollar side, commercial space rents are up in Downtown Boston (+1.9 percent), Cambridge (+1.4), and the Innovation District (+1.2 percent) compared to the previous year. Other "growth districts" that are projected to grow and increase rent over the next year is composed of Fenway, Kendall Square, and South Station / Seaport District. Many residential neighborhoods are also reported to be making the moves to submit proposals to re-zone some of their "underutilized" parcels of lots to build commercial properties and lease them out in order to increase local revenues.

      According to Jones Lang LaSalle, the key reason for the vacuum of vacancies stem from the fact that consumers are weathering the increase in taxes, as well as an improved outflow of discretionary income, combined with unemployment rates falling and thereby giving way to corporate and retail expansions.

      If you're potentially looking to relocate our open your establishment, check out these commercial projects that are poised to give you the best location, as well as amenities, and opportunity for growth for your company:

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      Home Selling Confidence Doubles

      If you're waiting for summer to sell your home, it's probably not the best idea. Riding any property wave, as a wise investor would know, is like surfing: you need to find the exact moment when to hit the tide, otherwise you'll fall flat on your belly. That, perhaps is exactly what's going on in the property sector across the nation, and especially in the City of Boston.

      A recent survey of secondary mortgage institution Fannie Mae showed that nearly twice as many people think now is a good time to sell compared to a year ago. In fact, a record 26 percent of respondents said now (months of March, April, and May) is a good time to sell, up from only 14 percent from a year earlier. The National Housing Survey measures the attitude, confidence, stability, and traction of the property sector across the United States and its major housing markets, which Boston belongs to. The share of respondents who believe home prices will rise next year also was at a high, holding steady at the 48 percent. Doug Duncan, SVP and Chief Economist at Fannie Mae had this to say about the positive property news:

      Despite an uptick in concerns expressed about the direction of the economy, it appears consumers believe that the housing recovery will march on. Housing sentiment remains unshaken from the highs of the last few months. At the same time, perhaps driven by the experience of the past several years, consumers remain cautious in their housing outlook. Investors and first-time homebuyers seem to be enjoying the uptick too, as more and more home owners are putting your property on the market for investor's taking.

      In contrast with the rest of property markets across the nation, the housing market in Boston has been classified as "lukewarm to hot" solely because of the lack of available listings, and not due to the lack of buyers. One could even add that the turnover of listings (also known as Days On Market) nowadays are also at a record high. And not forgetting to add the fact that properties on sale now also go well above and beyond their asking price, Boston is definitely beyond "just recovering".

      Nationally, the properties that are seeing the most appreciation are townhouses and single-detach homes, while multi-bedroom condominiums and are not far behind. In contrast however, the local property market in Boston has seen most of its activity driven by turnover of significantly smaller, yet pricier condominiums, signaling investor's intention to put their money to good use and recurring income come rental season in the fall.

      Interestingly, a separate study done by the Massachusetts Association of Realtors in the last quarter of 2012 revealed that previous homeowners who have sold their condominium properties in downtown have traded up for a single detach on the outskirts of the city. This perhaps, signals the state's success in redeveloping and reshaping the nearby suburbs that surround the city.

      Thinking of selling your home? Act now and don't miss the tide! Call us now for a obligation-free consultation! We'll even valuate your property for FREE! Call us at (617) 505-1781 now!

      Requesting Repairs From Sellers

      When looking for a new place to call home, it's important to see beyond the aesthetics of paint colors and furniture that may or may not be your taste and, instead, focus on the floor plan, structural design, and other physical elements of the house. Replacing carpets or changing light fixtures are typically simple and affordable changes you can make once you move in. But if certain areas of the residence require repairs, like the foundation or the roof, purchasing a property could become costly.

      With Boston's continuing downward trend of available listings, there's only a handful of properties that are up for grabs. And in a bullish market such as the one we currently have, it's a good idea to consider snapping up properties that may need a little fixing. But don't let the fear of having to pay for repairs deter you from buying, though. In some cases, home sellers may be willing to pay for repairs if it will help them close the deal and sell their property. Here are some tips on how you can ask and negotiate:

      Reasonable Requests

      There are certain types of fixes that are generally 'OK' for home buyers to request sellers make before they agree to purchase the home. Getting a home inspection is a must. Once this is complete and specific parts of the home have been identified by an inspector as needing essential upgrades (electrical wiring, for instance), you can approach the sellers to see if they would be willing to pay for the repairs. Conversely, it is not acceptable for home buyers to make non-essential requests for fixes in a home for sale. This might include painting the property simply because you prefer a different color, or making other aesthetic alterations. Remember to keep your requests reasonable - you don't want to turn off the seller and them to shrug your offer.

      Time Is Of The Essence

      In addition to making appropriate repair requests, it's also important for home buyers to ask for fixes in a timely fashion. Making requests days before closing may halt a home sale altogether, as the sellers may not be willing to alter their agreement at the last second. This means you will want to ask the sellers to upgrade certain parts of their home early on in the negotiating process. In certain circumstances, home sellers may be willing to pay for home repairs after the sale is complete. To ensure the sellers follow through on their intent to do so, you might want to hire a lawyer to draw up a contract stating the seller's intention to make the fixes within a predetermined period.

      What You Can Live With

      There is a chance that a home seller may be unwilling to pay for repairs. At the preview, you should already determine have some sort of idea of how willing you would be accept the property as-is, without any repairs paid for by the sellers. If the majority of the place is in quality shape (make sure the defects won't impact your ability to get insurance on the property) and you like most features, you just might want to worry about making fixes after the sale goes through.

      The key to approaching home sellers about repairs? Communication. Make sure that you or your agent communicate your requests well, as they may be the key to getting your dream home.

      How To Know A Home is Right For You

      There re perhaps only a handful of activities that are as stressful as hunting for a new apartment. People who live in sprawling urban cities such as Boston, New York, Chicago, and San Francisco, know that once you've found the place you like, you better put in an offer or lease it out the moment you can. But what exactly goes through your decision-making? Is it convenience? Affordability? Size? Or perhaps plain old aesthetics?  The most important factor going through these questions though, is that you don't let the stress of crossing off all your "wishlist" items ruin your decision-making process. And though it's true that this can be harder than it sounds, it's not impossible.

      Oftentimes, when people are overwhelmed, they settle on the first passable apartment they find simply so they can end the hunt (and the stress) as soon as possible. Others get so jittery and analytical that they're unable to pull the trigger -- and they miss out on their dream place because of it. While you may not be able to control your level of stress during your apartment hunt, we offer a few rules that could help you determine whether an apartment is indeed right for you:

      Is this the first place you've seen?

      If so, don't take it just yet. See at least three other places. It's too easy to make a rookie mistake if you don't have any comparables. However, being true to our earlier advise, ask your realtor if this place is the first you visited because it's one that they'd recommend. If your broker has some sense in them, they'd already figured out beforehand what properties they should show you based on what you're looking for. Usually, the first on the list is the one that they truly think you'll fit with the most.

      Is this the neighborhood you wanted?

      Boston Neighborhoods Framed Back Bay South End Beacon Hill North End Allston Brighton Brookline Boston International Real Estate BostonIRE BIREBefore you start looking at apartments, you should be scouting neighborhoods. Your neighborhood is going to be one of the primary reasons you like or don't like your apartment, so it's important that you stick to those neighborhoods you like. It's easy to be swayed by a cheaper place a few miles away, or to look at a bargain one-off listing in a neighborhood you're unfamiliar with. But marrying your ideal lifestyle with a listing is essential to your everyday life; it'll be harder to change your habits than changing apartments again. Remember, if the neighborhood's not right, you're not going to feel right.

      Is the management company reputable?

      Management companies tend to be either known or unknown. However, going for a dwelling space that's managed by a known one doesn't necessarily ensure you'll be smooth sailing. It only means that they've had a history to learn from. Having said that, going with a fledgling management company has bigger risks, but look into the team and the personnel behind it. It might be that they have a good amount of experience that'll cushion your concerns. Trust your broker when they say it's a good management company or not, since they're most likely the ones who have more facetime with them. If all else fails, there's always the Better Business Bureau you can go to, or troop on to one of the dozen review sites out there that'll give you a good indication of the management company's standing.

      Remember, aside from handling your accounts and your building's maintenance, these guys are responsible for your everyday living situation, and a bad landlord will make your life miserable, no matter what else is right with the apartment. You should feel comfortable trusting them. If you don't, you should pass.

      Does the place match your top criteria?

      Before you head out on your search process, you should determine which things are most important to you in an apartment and rank them. Criteria can include price, proximity, or whether the place has amenities you can't live without -- basically, anything that you need in a place to feel happy. You shouldn't compromise on the top three things on your list. The rest, you should be more flexible with, but try to get as many as possible. If you find a place that hits it out of the park with your top three, with only minor compromises on the rest, then you should definitely go for it.

      Does it feel right?

      Last, but not least, you should consider the harmony between you and your soon-to-be living space. Ask yourself, is the vibe you're getting off the place "right"? Rule of thumb is that when you walk into a place, it should instantaneous click with you: do you get excited about it, or even go deeper as to assessing whether you see yourself in it or not, you shouldn't have to spend much time talking yourself into it. The vibe willbe right, and you'll immediately be able to picture your couch over there, your dining room table in this nook, your framed photograph on that wall. If you picture yourself walking in after a hard day at work and just feeling at peace, you know you've found your place.