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      Blog :: 05-2013

      April Sets Stage For Summer Sales

      Against a backdrop of limited listings, Massachusetts saw double digit growth in the median price of single-family homes in April. In total, the state's median single-family home price was pegged at $313,000, reflecting a near 14 percent increase compared to the same period of last year.  Buyer demand and a tight housing inventory pushed up the values of homes, as more and more investors continue to snap up properties in the Greater Boston area.

      This is the seventh month in a row that the state saw double digit growth for home values, suggesting that even more growth is to come within the summer months, otherwise known as the peak for property sales and turnover. However, as median prices increase, home sales slightly declined in the same month, dropping a total of 1 percent versus last year. This is primarily attributed to the fact that inventories remain low, hovering just above the threshold of "adequate" to sustain buyer demand.

      However, real estate professionals and economists are confident that inventories will fill up more repidly in the coming summer months, buoyed by the fact that aside from rising median home prices, April also saw a record number of listings for the month - and is in fact the the highest in seven years. Pundits are projecting that sellers are holding off listing their properties until the beginning of summer, when most of the buying action happens.

      The current buyer demand that Bostonians are enjoying is primarily due to the investors having more access to low mortgage rates, as well as consumer confidence is extremely up because of the positive jobs data that's sweeping the country as a whole. Foreign investors also represent a good number of home sales in the region, accounting for 16% of all sales beginning January of this year.

      Aside from single-family homes, condominium sales also saw a healthy spike, up 8 percent in April compared to the same period last year. In particular, there were 1,493 closings this month compared to 1,382 a year ago. The median price for condominiums throughout the state also climbed two percent higher, rising to $280,000 for the first quarter, from $256,000 a year prior. Greater Boston condominiums also saw a 4 percent increase in total.

      With home prices continuously climbing, sellers are finally gaining the confidence to list their properties. Buyers, too, are extremely confident snapping up homes and condominiums, perhaps because they've been waiting for opportunities like this for almost five years. The last time Boston saw turnovers such as we're witnessing now, was just before the market tanked back in 2008. All this data suggest that the coming summer months will not only be brutal temperature wise, but also bullish for the real estate market.

      Have a home to sell? Contact us now for a risk-free consultation! We'll even valuate your property for free! Call (6167) 505-1781 now!

      New Listings On The Rise

      There's been a lot of speculation where the local real estate market is headed this year. Some industry experts believe that 2013 will be the banner year for Boston's comeback, as property prices have been booming since the second half of 2012. Some say that it'll take time before the market ultimately "heals", hinging the recovery on the future delivery of numerous development projects that are currently on the pipeline. But, with recent months' news about improving property values and limited inventory of available units, majority of the industry is pretty much agreed that this summer - for better or for worse - will be a tight season for buying, selling, and least of all, renting.

      Last April, we wrote about how inventories are impacting the current property market and how current listings are enjoying pumped up rates. In fact, if you carefully analyzed the first quarter's real estate conditions, Boston qualifies to be deemed as a city with an inventory problem such that there isn't enough to cover the current pace of investor's buying binge until the summer. There's an awful lot of  potential buyers out there that are looking for golden investments, but can't seem to get their foot in the door, literally. This has undoubtedly put positive pressure on the listings that are available, pushing closing prices 12%-15% higher than the asking price.

      But all of that is about to change. The number of new listings in April alone stands to reason that the market is slowly stabilizing. Owners are starting to realize they can capitalize on the buying binge, and have opt to list their properties. In fact, the number of properties that were put on the market was a staggering 12.7% in April, putting it as the highest surge in listings since April 2010 and clocking in at 9,350 listed in one month alone.

      Yet, despite all of this good news, there's still some who are skeptical - and only rightly so. Taking into consideration the current sales pace, properties are being taken off the market in as little as a week with multiple offers with extraordinary price gains. And even with the record-breaking addition of new listings, the overall number of listings currently on the market is still down by more than a quarter compared to last year's levels.

      This then begs the question, how much listings will it take to align the market evenly such that prices stabilize? Well, it'll be short of a miracle, since it'll have to be at least an influx of 50% new listings to quench the market's thirst. But, all is not lost. Sellers are starting to realize that listing their properties sooner rather than later will give them the head start they need if they want to pull in the big bucks. Month to month starting January of this year, the home price index throughout Massachusetts and Greater Boston have shot up at an average rate of 7 percent (some local market trackers are even pegging this at a higher figure).

      So, if you have a property that you're considering selling, we suggest you put on the market now and let it simmer over the next few weeks. Chances are, you'll get just enough steam to boil out the buyers to pay the amount you want for your home, without upsetting the real estate industry's recovery.

      Thinking of selling? Contact us now for a risk-free consultation! We'll even valuate your property for free! Call (617) 505-1781 now!

      Green District To See More Growth This Year

      There's a new area being developed in Allston - and no, it's not just for students. The "Green District" is an eco-friendly residential area near the Griggs Streets MBTA stop in Allston that's being developed by Mount Vernon Co. The area is planned out such that residents are ensured that they have full control of their utlities and avoid wastage and excess. For instance, its flagship building, The Element, was built using recycled hardwood floors, and energy-efficient materials and appliances. In addition, The Elements also has a Green rooftop garden and decks, as well as bike storage facilities and zipcar parking.  The complex has more than 100 units to offer, and has mostly one- and two-bedroom apartments renting for a range of $1,700 to $2,850 per month.

      Mount Vernon Co. is setting aside $125 million to develop the area, citing three new buildings are on the way; as well as the renovation of four existing complexes to make them coincide with the "green" dimension of the neighborhood. In addition to the recycled wood floors and energy-efficient materials made to create the buildings, tenants have the ability to control and pay for their own heat and air conditioning in the apartments. Buildings in the so-caleld green district are also designed such that residents have total control of resources such as separate water pipes, to be able to reduce wastage.  The Edge, the second building to rise, also boasts of rooftop solar panels and electric car charging stations. Perhaps the most unique aspect of living in this "Green District" is that upon moving in, residents are asked to sign a green declaration that corresponds to requests to agree to minimize energy consumption, as well as recycle and compost as often as possible.

      The Green District is a welcome addition in a part of the city known more for its late-night restaurants and student population with heavy turnover. For that reason, the developers sought to improve the quality of life for these residents and extend its reach to the more "mature market", adding amenities such as an eco-friendly kitchen. Aside from all these enhancements, all of the buildings in the district are LEED certified gold and silver, making them truly eco-friendly and sustainable. In addition to the environmentally conscious aspects of the Green District apartments, the buildings have gyms, common spaces, and a roof deck for tenants to facilitate a community feeling among residents.

      Just last week, the Boston Redevelopment Authority unanimously approved the construction of another building in the area. "The Icon", a five-story 93,260 square feet building at the corner of Brainerd Road and Redford Street (just by the border of Brookline), is set to have more than 100 units that are high-efficiency as well as a green underground parking and solar-panel lined rooftop and deck, and also where the fitness center is planned to be located. City officials said work on the building is scheduled to begin this year and would take about 16 months to finish. It is estimated the project will create 260 construction jobs.

      The building will span two parcels at 75 Brainerd and 10 Redford, which together comprise just over a half acre. The properties have housed a single-story warehouse building, which was recently razed, and an auto repair shop, which will soon be torn down. The company razed an about one-and-a-half-story warehouse building to develop the 1.2-acre site. About two-thirds of the property is in Allston; the rest is in Brookline. The development of the green district is set to continue until the delivery of all seven buildings in 2016.

      Amenities Renters Often Overlook

      Rental occupancy rates have once again risen, which means competition for apartments and other rentals can be fierce. But if you're a renter looking for a new place, you still need to be sure your home will meet your needs, and that means looking for more than just adequate square footage, a couple of closets and a dishwasher.

      Often, renters can forget to ask important questions when they're out apartment hunting. They also might be meek because of the current market being tight and at times difficult to navigate. But most of the time, renters don't ask questions because they're afraid they're going to be turned down when applying and so they don't want to cause trouble. They figure that if they don't ask for anything, the landlord is much more likely to approve the application.

      1. Pets 

      Sure, pet owners are always on the hunt for apartments that allow their furry friends, but renters who don't own pets may not think to ask whether others in the building do. If you have allergies or just don't want to deal with barking dogs at 2 a.m., it might not be a bad idea to find out if any animals are residing with your neighbors.

      2. Cellphone and Internet

      If you, like most people, don't have a "land line," your cellphone is how you stay in touch, but checking for a signal may not be top of mind when you're looking for a place. Be sure to test your signal in all the rooms of the unit you're considering; you don't want to be forced to have all your conversations in the bathroom or a corner of the kitchen.

      Likewise, find out who handles Internet and cable service for the building. Ask neighbors whether the signal is generally reliable, and see if you can find out whether the signal gets weaker if more tenants are using it.

      3. Light

      Be aware that a lot of older apartments don't have adequate overhead lighting. If you're looking at a unit while it is still furnished by the current tenant, observe whether there are a lot of lamps -- and think about what your lighting needs will be in various rooms. Make sure there are enough outlets to accommodate any lighting you will need. Also see what kind of natural light you'll get through the windows.

      4. Heating and cooling

      If you're looking for a new place during the summer, you may not think to ask how the unit is heated, but it can matter a great deal, both for your comfort and your wallet. Find out what kind of heat is used and whether it will be metered separately or if you'll pay a portion of the building's overall heating costs based on square footage, for instance. If possible, talk to the current tenant about whether it was easy to maintain a comfortable temperature, and ask for an estimate of the average monthly bill during the winter.

      The opposite is true if you are apartment hunting in the summer -- or any of the not-so-chilly months. Jessica Shein had a rental experience where she learned after moving in that the air-conditioning unit was as old as the apartment -- more than 20 years.

      5. Air flow

      Do the windows open, and if they do, can you get that fresh breeze you were hoping for? In addition to seeing what scents a breeze might bring inside, check what kind of views you'll have from your windows. Often, there's a premium for rental units that have views, but occasionally, there are those that offer great views at even better rates.

      6. Noise

      A little noise from the neighbors is normal in an apartment, but some buildings are better insulated than others. If possible, ask current residents what the noise levels are like: Can you hear every footstep from the upstairs neighbors, for instance? Visit the unit during the day and at night, if you can, to see what kind of noise there may be in the surrounding neighborhood at various times. Also, ask the landlord or do some research yourself to see if any construction projects are planned in the vicinity -- or on the building itself.

      7. Delivery of packages

      Find out what happens with package deliveries. If no one in the building is home during the day, is there a front-desk person or concierge to receive packages for residents? If it's a small building, you may have to make other arrangements for parcels that arrive while you're at work.

      8. Water

      Check the water pressure in the shower and see how long it takes the water to heat up once you turn it on. Ask whether the unit shares a water heater; you don't want to wake up late one morning to discover that all the hot water has been used by other residents.

      9. Pests

      Ask the landlord if the building has ever had an issue with roaches, rats, bedbugs or other pests. Ask current residents the same question. If you're concerned, check the lease to see if the issue is addressed. Ask about mold, too.

      10. Hours for on-site facilities

      If you're looking at a larger building, it may have a workout room, pool, laundry room or other amenities for use by residents, but be sure to find out when those facilities are available. Even in some smaller buildings with laundry facilities, there may be a laundry schedule to avoid conflicts. Make sure the great amenities that sold you on the building will be available when you want to use them. And make sure you inspect those common areas to see if they seem clean and safe.

      11. Your responsibilities

      Is any issue that arises with your rental the responsibility of the landlord, or will you have to deal with anything yourself? This is especially relevant if you're renting a single-family home. In many cases, yard work or other minor maintenance may be up to the tenant. Though even in an apartment, you are likely responsible for reporting any issues in a timely manner. And that's the kind of tenant that any landlord wants.

      And even now, when all you hear is about how rents are rising and there's a shortage of units, there is often a shortage of great tenants. And when landlords find one, who manages on his or her own, who doesn't wreck the apartment and who is proactive in calling to fix things that will only grow to be bigger and more expensive issues, the landlord will want to keep you around and will be open to your forthcoming requests.

      Let us help you find an apartment that fits you! Call (617) 505-1781 now!

      Questions Renters Forget To Ask

      With more people renting than buying, and occupancy rates continue to escalate, being an apartment hunter in the Boston rental market is no easy task - especially if you're battling with students who come in droves almost every quarter. In fact, the rental occupancy rate in the city was a whopping 85% last year, the highest it's been in four years. And when the rental market starts squeezing renters with limited availability, renters tend to take units that they might not otherwise consider.

      Instead, renters need to focus on what amenities they want, and start thinking about those amenities with price tags. For example, expect to pay an extra $60-$80 a month for an apartment who's less than half a mile away from a bus or subway stop. Everyone has a different set of priorities and preferences, some people are willing to pay a hefty premium for a patio, and some are the exact opposite. What we'd advice is for you to know what you want and make sure you're not overpaying for features.

      More importantly, renters also need to remember the little things, like asking about cell phone reception (be sure to test it out) and whether the windows actually open and close. Unlike home buyer walk-throughs before closing, there are no inspections for renters, so treat any showing as if you're inspecting the unit. Don't forget these ten questions, which in our experience, renters often forget to ask:

      How's your cell phone signal? You don't want to be forced to have all phone conversations while hanging out your window or the one tiny corner where you manage to pick up a signal.

      How big are the rooms, really? Bring a measuring tape. You and the leasing agent or landlord may have different opinions on what room size comfortably fits a queen size bed.

      How's the water pressure? Don't forget to ask the follow up, including is the shower pressure weak? How long does it take for the water to get hot in the morning?

      Is the rental noisy? Be quiet for a minute and listen for ambient noise, such as weird fans, generators, barking dogs, loud trucks, trains or noisy neighbors.

      How is the view? Are there enough windows to provide you with the natural light you want? If the curtains are closed, pull them open to check out the view. You might not want your living room overlooking your neighbor's bathroom.

      Is the air fresh? If you're looking at a high rise or a garden unit, sometimes the windows can't open or open just a bit. Make sure you have enough fresh air.

      How fast is that elevator? If there's an elevator, check the capacity. Is it single shaft or super slow? Are there separate elevators for garbage or taking your pet out?

      What are the amenities? Get the details on amenity offered as part of the rent. For example, some buildings come with public areas or fitness facilities. Check the hours before you make the gym a deciding factor in your lease?

      Who handles deliveries to the property? If there's no doorman or superintendent, what will happen to all those UPS or FedEx deliveries that come while you're at work?

      What is the heating situation? Because people often rent during the summer, they neglect to ask about the heat, Lin said. Find out if the heating is individual or shared, such as an uncontrolled radiator, and find out the costs.

      And here's a bonus question to ask: If you're renting a single family house instead of an apartment, you should ask who is responsible for maintaining the exterior of the property. Some landlords expect the tenants to mow the lawn and shovel the snow, while others do it themselves so they know the property is being maintained correctly. These responsibilities should be spelled out in the lease so there's never a question about who is supposed to do what.

      Have a short memory? Download our 10 Often Forgotten Questions Renters Should Ask here, and bring it the next time you go apartment hunting. Contact us now to see what apartments we have in store for you! Call (617) 505-1781 now!

      Best and Worst In Real Estate Investment

      There's been an awful lot of signs that suggest now is the right time to invest in real estate once again. And as any prudent investor would know, it's hard to turn a blind eye to opportunities, especially if they're right in front of you. Yet, as any experienced real estate investor will tell you, not all investment properties are created equal. Homes that might be perfect as a permanent residence, for example, might not yield positive cash flows -- and without positive cash flows, you're losing money, not making it.

      But there are those properties you just cannot resist. Listings that literally take your breath away and let you dream of greener pastures when your investment turns in a hefty profit. But how would you really come to know which property you should stick to? We've prepared an itemized collection of the best and worst things to avoid or look for when you're in the market for an investment turnaround. Let's go ahead and start off with the worst:

      Anything that doesn't generate rental income

      These include second homes and vacation property investments. Too many people invest in properties hoping that they will go up in value. But there is an opportunity cost to having money sit in real estate that doesn't pay any income. Even if the property goes up in value, you've got to reconcile and account for all the money you would have earned if your money had instead been in the bank or in stocks and monetary placements.

      Anything with negative cash flows

      If you buy a "prize property" -- such as a fancy downtown condo, beach property or vacation rental -- it's probably going to be 20+ years before you get your first dime of positive cash flow. And that's just no way to invest your hard-earned money. Pencil out any potential deal ahead of time, and buy properties that pay cash flow from day one -- the moderately priced properties in non-prize areas (or at least not yet!).

      Development deals

      Development of land is extremely high risk. There are entitlement, construction and market pricing risks, plus countless others. These investments are best left to the extremely wealthy and experienced investors who can take the chance that they'll never see their money again. Start out small with an already-built unit, then grow from there.

      Condo-hotels, intervals & time-shares

      These aren't even investments. There's no ability to predict cash flows, rental income or future value and sales prices. And they are very hard to resell and typically only at a fraction of the original cost. Go for something you can count on, literally. The ability to crunch numbers and project revenues is essential when you're making the move to invest.

      THE VERY BEST INVESTMENTS

      With all of that being said, your primary motivation for investment is certainly to generate revenues. However, keep in mind that you are taking a risk, no matter what. Based on that fact, the risk you're taking you should minimize the amount of time you need to spend attending to the property especially since as everyone knows - time is money. To accomplish this, you'll need to make some smart choices upfront when buying investment property. Your goal should be to strive to get as close as possible on as many of these optimal scenarios as possible:

      Pays a Fair Cash-on-Cash Return

      When you buy property you are taking money out of your liquid financial assets - stocks, bonds, CDs, what have you - and investing it into a very illiquid yet tangible asset. You were earning a rate of return on your financial assets, typically 4 or 6 percent, and you should strive to earn a fair cash-on-cash rate of return on your real estate. To do this, you need to buy cash flow-positive properties that earn you decent returns that are at least comparable, if not higher, to what you would get in return if you used your funds elsewhere.

      Isn't Too Risky an Investment

      All real estate is extremely high risk. Whether they are multifamily homes, condominiums, single detach, in a developing or developed neighborhood, all have much higher risk profiles than just simply buying a nice established cash flow investment property. So what you'll need to do is see to it you're making all the necessary precautions: doing the proper due diligence, analyze, test, review reports, etc., that'll make the risk a little lower, and make the decision a little lighter.

      Doesn't Require a Lot of Time or Managing

      Some properties just require way too much time and management to make them smart investments. Examples include vacation rentals, low quality properties in bad areas, etc. Traditionally, we would also say college rentals belong to this category, but in Boston, there's no way you can go wrong in such an investment - ask anyone. Nice boring properties rented for as long as possible to decent credit profile tenants seem to take the least time to manage. In addition, treating your tenants fairly and with respect goes a long way towards keeping good relations with them; and reducing your hassles when there is an issue you need to address.

      It's the nice, boring, wholly owned, in good shape, cash flow-positive properties that are the best investments. They are out there for your picking, but it's not as simple as finding a property on the MLS and buying it. You need to do some hard work, research, read up, and make smart, educated decisions to acquire the best real estate investments!

      Considering investing? Consult with us now for exclusive investment listings!

      Top Things Today's Home Buyers Want

      You would think that in a traditional and historic city such as Boston, there would be a great majority of real estate investors that belong to the above 40 year-old demo graph; more specifically, baby boomers and whales that have risen to wealth and power. If that indeed was your trail of thought, then you're mistaken, because that clearly is not the case - at least not anymore. In recent years, more and and more students find it hard to leave Boston behind after getting their degrees, settling in the city and finding respectable jobs in and around their former alma maters. This "new breed of Bostonians" are ultimately different from their more senior counterparts, living a life dictated by technology and social savviness. But what does this all mean for home sellers? Well, that's where it gets tricky.

      Balancing your property to appeal to both demo graphs can cause what is known as the "chop suey" effect, where your listing looks like a mix and match of old and new, traditional and modern. But that doesn't have to be the case. There are certain things that today's buyers - whether young or old - look for when they are shopping around for real estate. Just remember that these buyers aren't your standard-issue home buyers from 20 or 30 years ago, who were often married couples looking for a starter home in the suburbs to raise a family. Today, single women make up a large percentage of first-time buyers. What about the men? Well, they often rent and hold out as long as their single and without a family. Either way, the point is simple: as the home buyer evolve, so should the home. Here are five major shifts in homes you can expect to see today and in the coming years.

      1. Man Caves and Smarter Homes

      The media room or "man cave" emerged in real estate marketing a few years back. Many buyers now prefer high-tech rooms with surround sound, large-screen TV's, and the most up-to-date A/V equipment to the coveted formal dining room of a generation's past. There are hybrid rooms out there that serve as both. The most appealing properties, as results from Better Homes and Gardens' Real Estate Shopping Survey revealed, are those than can be converted easily from one type of room to another.

      In other words, if you've put your property on the market and are attracting both baby boomers and millennials, your best bet is to make the room multipurpose, showing off the area's strength to be flexible in whichever way the prospective buyer will use it. Investing in a "smart" technology that's integrated with the home is also not a bad idea, as it's appreciated by both types of buyers. It'll be hard to find someone who isn't astonished with automation.

      2. No to Claustrophobic Closets

      As you've read earlier, there's a significant number of single women who are in the prowl for property nowadays. And, without the help of any surveys or studies, it's safe to say that they're turned off by small closets. It probably doesn't help your selling cause that these prospective buyers have been brainwashed by today's media to think that sprawling closets still exist (they do, just not a lot of them can be found in the city). Regardless, this has raised the bar and set the tone for closet space, and you as a seller need to respond to that by either freeing up a spare room, or neatly stacking storage containers on top of one another to clear the way for more walkable area. Keep in mind that by doing this, you'll need to spruce up whatever items you might have lying around the house and storing them elsewhere.

      3. Home Offices

      What are the most common trait of today's home buyers? They are all tech savvy professionals - at least a good majority of them are. Make sure to dedicate an area of your property to a work station or a nifty little nook where potential buyers can see themselves setting up shop. In the BHG Home Shopping Survey, "home offices" tops the buyer's wish list. And depending on the number of bedrooms, some will create a home office with built-in desks, shelving and cabinets. The customized home office with built-ins could deter some buyers, however, who feel they've lost a bedroom or other space. But many prefer to have one place dedicated to their laptops, printers and work-related stuff. Either way, try to make your home office as appealing to the next buyer as it is to you. And keep in mind that, provided you don't create a built-in a desk or bookshelf, the space can easily be reverted back to a bedroom.

      4. Hardwood Floors

      If you walk into a home that hasn't been on the market for decades, you'll probably see a lot of wall-to-wall carpeting. This was common in the mid 20th century, but most notably absent in Bostonian homes, as there is no need for it. Most homebuyers nowadays (especially in Massachusetts) like to see exposed hardwood floors, and only right so. It makes the space feel less confined and give it a new, clean feeling. No matter how many times the carpet has been cleaned, there's something about stepping on someone else's carpet with your bare feet that turns off today's buyers. If your buyers love your home, but don't necessary like the wall-to-wall carpeting, be sure to notify your agent that you're willing to tear it out and give it that old rustic exposed wood look. Most often than not, that'll be enough to get your buyer to sign on the dotted line.

      5. Urban Homes With Amenities

      Home buyers used to covet a three-quarter acre lot. Today's buyers -- both the Gen X and Gen Y generations as well as empty-nest retirees--see that same lot and think "maintenance." Instead, they're opting for city living, which is especially true in Boston's case. These buyers seek active lifestyles and opportunities to socialize. They want to be near transit hubs. And they're looking for buildings with amenities. They want a full-time concierge, a full-service gym, even an in-house spa or business center. If this type of property is what you're trying to market, make sure your buyers are fully aware of the homeowners' dues and other associated costs. You wouldn't want to turn them off later on when they're about to sign the purchase & sale agreement.

      Think Long-Term

      Trends in kitchen countertops, paint colors and bath fixtures come and go. They're based on larger design or style trends and even fashion trends. However, as our society and our culture changes, the larger fixtures and features of our homes change more gradually. They don't mirror the latest trends so much as they reflect shifts in how we live. As a result, investing in long-term home shifts will usually be a better idea than paying extra money for the latest home fad.

      Though the home buying market has changed dramatically in the past 30 years, some things will always remain the same. People will always need a place to rest their head at night. And real estate, despite its recent ups and downs, is still a good investment -- remember that when you consider putting your property on the market.

      Scoring Top Dollar for Your Home Sale

      Times have indeed changed. Yesterday, we brought you the good news that Massachusetts set a nine-year home sales record - a feat that is a clear indication of the the real estate market's comeback. But, despite this piece of praise-worthy accomplishment, there are still properties out there that buyers find difficult to deal with. Why? Because of steep pricing issues. In fact, for many homeowners, pricing a piece of real estate is a moving target. There's no magic number for a home sale, but instead, a price range where your home has a good chance of selling quickly.

      The definition of quick, or the length of time it should take for a home sale, depends mostly on the region. In urban hot spots like Boston, New York, and San Francisco, the norm is as fast as a couple of weeks, while 30 to 60 days is a healthy selling cycle in smaller cities or more rural areas. MLS reports that the average DOM for Bostonian properties is barely a month, 22.5 days to be exact. So, before you put your house on the chopping block, here are five ways to get closer to your spot-on price -- and one that will help your home sell in a timely fashion.

      1. Take out emotions from your selling price

      Even though you may think your home is superior to other properties in the area, it's important to take a neutral, unattached approach to pricing your home. That means disregarding that the house next-door is selling for more even though you have a nicer porch and a better view; or overlooking the money, time and sweat you put into remodeling your kitchen. Always remember that a home sale may not translate dollar for dollar.

      2. Research earnestly, but cautiously

      I'm sure that like many, you've also taken a peek at Internet sites to see how much your home or your neighbor's home is worth. But in spite of your snooping, there's been considerable skepticism about the accuracy of these values - especially ones that are posted online. Our Principal David Paez says that online price information could vary 20 to 30 percent from a home's actual value, especially amid a housing downturn - or in this case, amidst a selling spree. Some prices are inflated, mainly because of two reasons: the owner thinks the home can sell itself at that price, and the other is that the owner is trying to make the most of the situation; either way, these values could be different than what is posted online.

      3. Calculate the dollar per square foot

      According to real estate mega-site Zillow, figuring out the average price per square foot of homes in your neighborhood can be a starting point for determining your home value.  However, we caution our clients that the price of your home could be "plus or minus 10 percent" from this rough estimate, though nowadays it's more likely that the situation calls for a "plus 10 to 15 percent".

      4. Keep up with the Jones's

      Walk around your block or building. Tour some sales in your neighborhood and take note of attributes such as size and number of bedrooms and bathrooms, included interiors, structural soundness, and amenities (a renovated kitchen, a finished basement, etc.). The most common pitfall of property selling is that you don't know the other circumstances in play, such as a motivated seller or the reverse, a seller who won't accept less and has the luxury of letting their place sit unsold. Make sure you also ask your agent or broker for insights into the seller, or the buyer, whatever the case might be. Looking into the motivations and circumstances of people you'll be dealing with is a smart and sure way to bring them to your side.

      5. Factor in the days on the market (aka DOM)

      Often overlooked by most property sellers are days on the market. This piece of real estate intelligence tells you how fast houses are selling in your neighborhood. If you need to sell your house more quickly than the average DOM, it's going to be necessary that you discount your price below other comparable listings in your locale. Be prepared to throw in a bar soap if you're rushing to throw out the towel. We always tell our clients that Patience is always an ally in property selling.

      Some Brokers say that homeowners do themselves a disservice by overpricing -- a sky-high number that's not reflective of a home's size and quality will only turn off prospective buyers, and the longer it sits on the market, the more homebuyers question what may be wrong with it. On the other hand, homeowners may feel like they've missed out financially by going on the market with a price that's too low. That is not the case.

      Finding a competitive price that's accurate and in step with market conditions, such as the economy, local job market, interest rates and inventory -- is imperative to home selling. In a healthy housing market, your properly-priced home is guaranteed to yield lucrative results.

      6. Contact real estate agents for an estimate

      Call up agents and brokers for opinions on the price of your home, and get a comparative market analysis, or a CMA, which tells you the prices of comparable, recently sold homes, on-the-market homes and homes that were on the market that didn't sell. The key, is having access to the "sold property" information that is only available through a broker. Though it's not an exact science, the CMA is a more precise way to hone in on the range needed to net a home sale.

      Thinking of selling your property? Contact us now for a free consult and a complimentary valuation of your property. Call (617) 505-1781 now!

      Massachusetts' Nine-Year Home Sales Record

      We've all heard about how good Massachusetts is doing in terms of picking up its real estate pace - numerous projects are being inked almost on a weekly basis, home prices have rebounded ever since the financial and property downturn, and reports from various organizations have also lifted up property owner's spirits, providing them with definitive data that show how their investments in the past are now coming into play. But perhaps more importantly, foreclosures are at an all-time low, signifying the state's and its resident's willingness to move away from financial fault.

      Yet in spite of all of this mesmerizing statistical data, what seems to standout is the fact that it's been a while since we've last heard about the most important measurement of all: sales transactions. In the past couple of months, we've heard, read, watched, and experienced the Bay State's inventory of homes and properties shrink. And now, courtesy of the Massachusetts Association of Realtors, we're finally seeing how healthy, really, is the local real estate market as more home sales were reported last month than in any month since January of 2004.

      This nine-year home sales record is attributed to the fact that there has been a 33 percent increase in the number of single-family homes put under agreement in April alone of this year, closing 5,948 properties that were up for sale. Compared to previous the month, March only had 4,308 closings in total, signaling a 38 percent increase month-to-month. Conversely, condominium sales up for agreement in April also shot up to a whopping 37 percent, closing 2,435 units by month's end, thereby edging last year's 1,772 as well as March 2013's closing of 1,888 units by 29 percent.

      These numbers bode extremely well for the both buyers and sellers alike, since traditionally, April sales figures have been the leading indication of actual sales for the following two to three months, peaking prior to the start of the fall season. And while inventories are still at an all-time low on the local level, buyers still seem to be taking advantage of record low interest rates to finance their investments, as the 30-year fixed rate mortgage averages only 3.45%.

      In terms of the area where most of the deals occurred, it's no surprise that it seems Suffolk and Norfolk County hold the most number of transactions - specifically, 47 percent of transactions belong to these two territories, where "Metropolitan Boston" resides. It's also a good indication of the rising seller's market that properties closed in April were up an average of 10 to 12 above asking price.

      Fenway Center Finally On The Way

      It's been a rough five years, but Fenway Center is finally on its way to fruition. The five-building complex, planned prior to the 2007 economic downturn, was finally given the go ahead by the state Department of Transportation, as well as city councilors. John Rosenthal, along with representatives from project partner Meredith Management Corporation inked a $266 million 99-year land and air rights lease agreement yesterday, and afterward announced that construction will follow suit by the first quarter of 2014.

      The Fenway Center is a $500 million development that's set to rise on a 4.5 acre site around Brookline Avenue and Beacon Street. Once completed, there will be five buildings that will completely transform the Fenway area and play host to commercial, residential, and office space. In particular, it will reinvigorate the area that is now occupied by parking garages and some old run down 2-storey buildings, as a towering 27-storey mixed-use building will be built accompanied by four others - a 14-storey building and two seven-story buildings, as well as a 750-slot parking garage. The project will also be directly above a newly-constructed commuter rail line station in Yawkey, which is set to be completed by the end of this year.

      The project will be constructed in two phases: the first to be delivered are the 420 mid-luxury residences spread out through three buildings together with retail establishments, and will be located in the Beacon Street part of the development. Shortly thereafter, another seven-storey apartment and retail building will be  built in the Brookline Ave. part of the plot. The second phase, with no clear start date yet in sight, is poised to be the crown jewel of the project, as the 27-storey tower will rise up from the turnpike, and will add 130 more ultra-luxury residences, to be situated on the top most floors of the mixed-use residential and office tower. The building is also set to have solar panelling as its windows, powering the entire tower with green technology.

      Aside from redeveloping the area, the Fenway Center project will also create more than 1,800 construction jobs, as well as provide significant real estate tax revenues to the City of Boston. Governor Deval Patrick also welcomed the project, saying it is a testament to the resolve of the city to "move forward and take concrete steps towards progress".