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      Blog :: 03-2015

      How Boston Rental Rates Have Evolved Through The Decades

      BOS B&WIf you've lived in Boston at any point in your life, you know that the city is known for a great many things: being a title town for its many sporting accomplishments; its highly-regarded position as the country's most walkable collegetown which supports some of the world's best hospitals; the uneven and oftentimes tumultuous weather patterns; and of course, its high cost of living - specifically because of its skyrocketing rental rates that headlines real estate news every time the spring and summer property market goes into full swing.

      Maps from real estate website Ungentry highlights this fact, as shown by their visual representation of the shifts in Boston's rental statistics throughout the past three decades: from 1990 all the way to the 2010s. In their heat map, they've found that rents in the Downtown Boston area - specifically Back Bay and its neighbor Beacon Hill, already had exorbitant rates to begin with. In the 90's, the average rent for these two 'hoods clocked in at a range of $1340-1660, figures that if adjusted for inflation, would be comparable to paying a range of $2406-$2981 in 2015 dollar terms. That is, indeed, radically more expensive that the rest of the country's Top 25 Metropolitan Cities.

      Downtown_BostonINLINEThankfully, the increase in rents don't necessarily reflect this rapid increase in pace, but rather gradual in elevating their price points throughout the past 25 years. Though of course, this is not to say that some properties already bare this rental price point. However, the most salient piece of information that can be gathered from the Ungentrify maps is not so much the increase in rents, but the spread of the increase to bordering neighborhoods.

      For instance, in the 90's, Back Bay and Beacon Hill were the two-most expensive areas in the city, but as time passed, this "condition" spreads to Bay Village, the West End, Financial- and Leather Districts, Chinatown, and last but not least, South Boston - all of which share roughly the same price points with each other by 2010 and the years following it, dipping slightly during the recession years of 2007-2009 but picking up pace again afterward.

      Southie_Rent_INLINEBeing a realist, the increase in rentals rates can be thought of as something of a normal occurrence and could be a function of time, inflation, and gentrification. But, the big thing to note is how fast bordering neighborhoods adapted to the same elevated price points as their counterparts, sharing the same price bracket today with what were once considered "deeply affordable" pockets of neighborhoods within the city - South Boston being a concrete example. Perhaps developments in the now-dubbed "Seaport District" influenced these movements in the market, and the same could be said for East Boston in a decade.

      For its part, the Mayor's office has been trying to arrest this rapid increase of rental rates, urging and incenting developers to produce more housing units to achieve a more balanced market. Mayor Menino (and continued on by Marty Walsh) envisions 20,000 additional apartments by 2020 that should address the "vacuum" in the inventory of rental units. However, closer inspection reveals that the same number of units were delivered from the period of 1990 to 2010 but obviously had minimal impact on the market.

      One thing that does differentiate the addition of properties in the earlier decades was perhaps their location, which were primarily centered on downtown neighborhoods in the 90's. Something that more recent efforts by developers suggest will be different this time around, promising instead to spread out some more geographically and limit luxury properties going up in a concentrated locale. Hopefully these efforts will provide "balanced" rentals for the general and mid-market segments in nearby quarters of the city.

      If there is one thing to be learned from all of this historical and forward movement is that current property owners will be enjoying lofty rental rates for quite sometime, perhaps even gaining more as they re-invest in new development projects or divest them for a hefty return.


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      Downtown's Congress Square Project Revealed

      04Last fall, we broke the news about Congress Square getting a major makeover in the form of new façades complemented with green open spaces and modern glass buildings. This week, Related Beal, the proponents of the project, released new information about the development that is slated to start this coming fall for completion in 2017.

      Planned to be a gigantic 458,300 sq ft quadrangle of residential, retail, commercial and boutique hotel space that is bordered by State, Devonshire, Water, and Congress streets, the addition to the Downtown neighborhood follows a slew of upscale developments in the area. Related Beal plans to renovate six Financial District office buildings in the existing Block to "bring 24-hour activity to an area historically dominated by financial institutions".

      office0392,700 square feet of the project will be new construction in the form of a cantilevered glass, five-story condominium addition above 15 Congress St.; a three-story office addition to 40 Water St.; and the new 133-room hotel tower on what's currently a vacant lot used for parking. The hotel tower would be connected to the building at 68 Devonshire St.

      Screen Shot 2015-03-27 at 10.42.58 AMAccording to the project's proponents, the main aim is to transform once-inward and private buildings into something that will attract pedestrians and bring in foot traffic, as well as make the Downtown Crossing and Financial Districts truly a destination neighborhood. Among the features of Congress Square will be 11 mid to upscale restaurants and eateries, 108 coffeeshops, 18 tower residences totaling to 465 units, 20 fitness centers, and 35 garages, notwithstanding 3 MBTA stops in the area that will truly make the neighborhood a pedestrian destination.

      Screen Shot 2015-03-27 at 10.43.43 AMThe ground floors of the buildings would include new lobby entrances and glass-fronted shops and restaurants that open up to outdoor dining areas on Quaker Lane. Quaker Lane would be converted into a European-style pedestrian area with suspended cable lighting between buildings, cobble pavers, sculptural seating and landscaping. Buildings at 40 Water St., 82 Devonshire St. and 33-35 Congress St. would be combined for "innovation ­economy" office space and all-in-all capped with the three-story office addition.

      Alongside the busy season of openings and retail inaugurals slated this fall - Roche Brothers and Primark on the first few floors of the soon to be completed Millennium Tower debuting in the next couple of months - the Downtown Crossing & Financial District neighborhood is surely poised to regain its former glory and once again reclaim their namesake. Exciting news, indeed!


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      Your Going Out Guide For The Rest of The Week

      It's finally feeling like Spring in the city - sun's out, temperatures are cool but not freezing, and the snowy sidewalks have finally been freed up. And, if you're like any other Bostonian, you're probably looking forward to coming out of hibernation. So, aside from your house hunting and open house duties this week, here's a non-sucky going out guide to gigs and events in the city:


      BarUp's Bar of The Night: Hennessy's Boston The days of wanting to go out on a weekday, but can't find a packed bar are over... well, about to be over. The BarUp App is aiming to solve the problem that most bar goers have during the weekday. Where can I grab drinks in the city that has the atmosphere of a weekend? This week's pick? Hennessy's Boston. Check it out!

      BarUp is aiming to send you a message directly to your phone informing you of what bar they are going to pack. No more sitting in a bar with 10 people in it, praying a group of single girls/guys walk through. From college kids, young professionals and even the older crowd, this mobile app aims to please everybody.

      Hennessy's Boston  25 Union Street  Boston, MA 02108

      17th Annual Boston Underground Film Festival The Boston Underground Film Festival has labored for the last ten months to bring the most cutting-edge film and video to the Boston area from March 25-29th.  BUFF has a seventeen year history of bringing under-appreciated cinema to an audience ravenous for a movie-going experience outside the mainstream. Over the years, BUFF has also managed to give Boston audiences face-time with such visionary contemporary filmmakers as Jason Eisener, Douglas Buck, Simon Rumley, Zach Clark, Karim Hussain, Alex Ross Perry, Anna Biller, and Ann Marie Fleming.

      Brattle Theatre 40 Brattle Street Cambridge, MA 02138 7:30PM onwards $10 per ticket / $125 festival pass

      Pour Over 101 Curious about how your local barista is brewing that perfect cup? Take a beginners course and learn how to make that precise hand-poured coffee called pourover. A beginners class to coffee extraction method using a Hario V60. The class will provide an introduction to extraction theory and basic kettle handling. Materials and coffee will be provided for the training lab and participants will receive a take home brewing packet.

      DwellTime 364 Broadway, Cambridge 5:30-6:30PM $40 Admission


      Service Made Simple: Networking With A Cause Boston Building Impact's Service Made Simple is coming to Central Warf Co. in the heart of the Financial District. Bring your friends and colleagues to spend the night mingling and speed volunteering at this great bar in downtown Boston! Participate in quick volunteering projects (such as writing letters to soldiers and making cards for elderly folks) and socializing with fellow community-minded professionals. Building Impact is a Boston-based non-profit that makes volunteering more accessible to buildings, companies, and their employees. Whether you are a current program user or someone who wants to network, connect and give back to your community - SMS wants you to come out on March 26th! Light appetizers will be provided, a gift certificate will be raffled off, and drinks can be purchased at the cash bar.

      Central Warf Co.  160 Milk St  Boston, MA 02109 5:30-8PM $10 Admission

      Indie Night: Improv Comedy INDIE NIGHT showcases some of the best longform improv in Boston. Each Thursday night show features multiple independent groups performing sets of all kinds: musical, duos, monologue-inspired, Harold. All for five bucks at The Riot Theater in Jamaica Plain.

      The Riot Theater 146A South Street Jamaica Plain, MA 02130 $5 Admission

      #CrazySexyCool Every second and fourth Thursday, join us at 6B Lounge as Thursday Night Music Club explores R&B from the 80s, 90s, and today. Come vibe out over drinks, do some chair-dancing, or get up and get your groove on. It's entirely up to you. Featuring the music of Beyoncé, Tweet, Mary J., SWV, Aaliyah, D'Angelo, Usher, Ne-Yo, John Legend, Alicia Keys, Erykah Badu, India.Arie, Ashanti, and more!

      6B Lounge 6 Beacon Street Boston, MA 02108 9PM onwards


      Top Chef Vietnam, Boston A chef competition, a catered Vietnamese dinner, entertainment, and a silent auction - all to benefit The Catalyst Foundation, a Minnesota-based charity, featured on the CNN Freedom Project, working to prevent child trafficking in Vietnam. Adults $45, students $30. At the Vietnamese-American Community Center in Dorchester, just a few steps away from the Fields Corner stop on the MBTA Red line.

      Vietnamese American Community Center   42 Charles Street  Dorchester, MA 02122 5:30-8:30PM $45 Admission

      8th Annual Art & Design of the 20th/21st Centuries & The Boston Print Fair The only show and sale of its kind in New England, the fair features close to 50 outstanding galleries offering modern to contemporary fine art, Mid-Century furnishings and contemporary studio furniture, jewelry, decorative arts, and sculpture. The Boston Print Fair features fine print galleries, contemporary print publishers, photography, drawings and other works on paper.

      BCA Cyclorama  539 Tremont Street  Boston, MA 02116 $15 Admission


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      Figures Illustrate Winter's Woeful Impact in February

      FigurMar23-1es from last month's performance of properties citywide are finally in and as expected, the tough and historic winter the city experienced has had a rough impact on the real estate sector, particularly closed sales and inventory across single family homes and condominiums.

      February In A Snapshot Across the City of Boston's 23 neighborhoods, Closed Sales for the month declined 16 percent for both Single-family homes as well as condominium properties. Not surprisingly, the carefully-monitored Inventory also dipped 31 percent last month, as sellers backed off from listing their properties due to the onslaught of snow that hit the city.

      According to data gathered from MLS, 11 properties were temporarily withdrawn from the market during the month of February: 5 single-family homes and 7 condominium units from Brighton to Dorchester to Back Bay reversed their sales course during this time. One silver lining for sellers is that in spite of the weather conditions, Median Prices of properties seemed unaffected, appreciating an average of 3.3 percent in February.

      Single Family Homes Although lower than February 2014, Closed Sales of Single Family Properties only declined 10 percent this year, representing 36 homes sold in total compared to 40 from the same period last year. Year To Date data however points to an overall improved market, increasing total closed sales from January 1-February 28 by 5.6 percent to 94 homes sold as compared to last year's 89 homes sold.

      The Median Sales Price for Single Family Properties also rose to $433,000, a 3.3 percent increase from last year's $419,000.

      Perhaps the most startling figure in February is the number of homes available in the market, with inventory for Single-Family Properties dropping 52.2 percent compared to February 2014. As of February 28 of this year, there were only 89 homes on the market compared to the same period las year which enjoyed a healthy 189 homes available in the market, putting the number of months of supply at only 1.1 months if no new listings arrive.

      BOSCommon2Condominiums Properties Not to everyone's surprise, there was an even bigger dip in condominium sales for the month, with closed sales dropping 17.2 percent, totaling to only 169 units sold in the month, compared to February 2014's 204 units that changed hands. Year To Date data complements this figure, with closed sales dropping 19.6 percent to 362 units from January 1-February 28, compared to the same period last year which saw 450 units close.

      In spite of the drop in sales, the Median Sales Price for Condominium Properties continued to climb in February, appreciating 8.6 percent to $529,000 compared to last year's median price tag of $487,250.

      A closer look at the numbers reveal that the primary reason for the drop in closed sales is due to the lack of available condominium properties in the market. As forecasted, February Inventory dropped by 23.6 percent with only 414 units listed on the market compared to last year's 542 units available. Just like Single Family Homes, the total number of condominium listings would only supply the market for an average of 1.3 months if no new properties were to be listed.

      Springing Forward As the city recovers from a harsh winter, the outlook for spring sellers will be "a little rosier" than the previous month. Traditionally, March-May see an upsurge in inventory in anticipation and preparation for the spring & summer selling months, however this year fresh inventory is lacking. Sellers who do decide to list their property are sure to reap the rewards for doing so, as demand grows even more as the warmer months approach, and with a tight inventory, what ever available selection there is will surely be bought at first (or maybe second) sight.

      Thinking of divesting? David Paez has been successfully in the business of buying, selling, and renting homes for over seven years. He is actively aiding willing sellers in disposing their investments. List your home now and reap the financial rewards! Call David at (617) 549-9783 and schedule a risk-free consultation and find out how he can get you the most return on your investment.


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      Property Primer: What to Expect During the Home Selling Process

      Mar 17 BOS SeaviewAs spring selling season officials starts tomorrow, more and more homeowners are contemplating putting their properties on the market, only rightly so since the current inventory conditions make it the optimum time to list. For those who are already savvy with flipping investments and selling at a profit, listing is a process that's a no brainer; but for those who are divesting for the first time, it can get a little tricky. And that's where this article comes in.

      Our selling primer below should guide and give you valuable insights into the home selling process, and answer the most basic questions like how it works, the number of showings and open houses you should be prepared for, what you'll need to maintain your home during the process, and finally how to temper out prospective buyer's interests.

      The Home Selling Process Here is a snapshot of how the process works and how a quality agent should be on top of things:

      Once you've selected an agent to exclusively market your property and paperwork is signed, then the preparation process begins. Your agent will advise you whether staging is necessary (it usually is) and they would have outlined what you will need to do in order to be ready to sell. This can take a few days or longer depending on how much needs to get done. Once your home is ready then comes compilation of the media. This should entail professional photos, virtual tours and floor plans. It will often take a week or so coordinate these tasks and get all media ready to launch.

      Open Houses & Showings Most agents will typically activate a listing on Wednesday or Thursday in preparation for 1st showings at a Sunday open house. The logic behind this is to create a "feeding frenzy" of buyers on opening weekend. Sellers should expect an open house the weekend after your property is listed, sometimes the next weekend and then bi-weekly or monthly after that if needed. In this market though, one weekend is enough and offers are generally due the Monday after that. If there is a need to adjust your price, that will usually have a subsequent open house as well. Listings, well-marketed and well-priced, should see 10-40 people at their 1st open house. Our firm usually averages out 50-60, so that says something about how we market our listings.

      Aside from your Open House, there will also be a broker's open house - this is a preview for brokers and agents out there who have clients they know will already be interested in your property. This is usually held during the week, most specifically during lunch hours so agents can mingle and discuss possible price points and requirements to submit an offer (or bid, most likely in this market).

      Most listings will see 3-4 individual showings per week. This could be more or less depending on the market segment and corresponding amount of buyers. You should outline up-front with your agent how you prefer to be notified (text, email or phone) and typically you will get 24 hours notice on any showing requests. You have to be flexible in terms of individual showings - if you already know you will not be comfortable with in and out drop-ins, schedule with your agent a specific day when they could plan around hosting previews.

      Maintaining Your Home & Constant Agent Communication Your home needs to look "photo-ready" for every showing. If you have pets and/or infants then special arrangements need to be discussed in advance with your agent. A weekly call should be scheduled with progress reports and any specific should be discussed, as well as relayed as soon as available after each viewing.

      Once someone makes an offer, then the negotiation and hopefully contract phase will commence. Stay tuned for Part 2 of this series, where we'll explore what happens during the financial negotiations, and Part 3 where we'll take a look at conditions that may affect your closing.

      For the meantime, check out our other guides on home selling:

      Want a personalized consultation? Let us guide you! Contact us now and we'll be happy to assist and advice you! Our knowledge of the local market, as well as our long list of partner marketing services can get your property sold in no time!


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      Multiplying Your Pot of Gold: How To Buy & Sell Your Home Simultaneously

      BOS Zakim GreenHappy St. Patrick's Day, Boston!

      The day of green stuff, leprechauns, and everything Irish is again upon us - prompting us to take a look at how people can earn their own pots of gold in terms of property investments. But how do you actually achieve a steady balance between the few golden coins you have, and the desire to turn them into stellar property investments especially in a seller's market like we're currently experiencing? Read on and find out.

      Let's say your current pot of gold is your home right now - how do you exactly turn that into a better investment without taking on too much financial risk? Given that buying a home in itself is already such a big decision, buying one when you already own is even trickier. But be not afraid, we're dishing out three proven ways you can buy and sell your home at the same time without too much risk. Hopefully these tips will help you enlarge your 'pot of gold' into a cauldron of investment properties.

      Sell First, Then Buy

      This is perhaps the safest plan, but it calls for multiple moves. In this scenario, you list your home and complete the transaction before purchasing another home. When you sell your home, you put the bulk of your belongings in storage and live in a temporary rental or, if possible, enter into a rent-back deal with your home's new owner. The advantage of this method is that you know exactly how much you can spend on a new home, and you don't have to worry about temporary financing. Also, without another home waiting in the wings, you'll be less tempted to drop the price or to take the first offer that is below the asking price. The disadvantage is that it is a disruptive experience, and you could be displaced for a while if you are home-shopping for a long time.

      Buy First, Then Sell

      This strategy minimizes disruption. You can move into your new place at your leisure and then take time to prepare your home for sale. The major disadvantage is that, depending on how fast your old home sells, you could be shouldering the burden of two mortgages for some time. You are also responsible for maintenance and security on the vacant home. This scenario works best if your first home is already paid off.

      A variation of this plan is to buy a new home with the plan to rent out the old one for a year. This buys you some time with money coming in, but being a landlord comes with its own stresses and responsibilities. You may also need to repair or renovate the home after it has served as a rental.

      Buy and Sell Simultaneously

      To execute this plan, you need to prepare for all contingencies and to know that if your timing is off, you will face one of the two scenarios listed above. The trickiest bit can be timing the financial burden. One option is bridge financing. This enables you to own two homes for a short amount of time. To do this, you need to either borrow money from family or obtain a short-term loan from a bank or other lending institution to span the time period between when you close on your new home and sell your old one. In essence, you are getting a short-term home-equity loan (also known as a Home Equity Line of Credit) on your present house and using it as a down payment on your new house. You then repay the loan when you sell your first home. Traditionally, it is not easy to qualify for a conventional bridge loan, since you have to demonstrate that you have enough money to pay for both mortgages for an indefinite period of time - but more recently, lenders have eased up given the current market conditions. Experts advise applying for the Home Equity Line of Credit well before you buy a new house, that way most of the credit on the line is unused until you actually need it.

      Try to schedule the closing date on the sale of your old home after the closing date on the home you buy. This way, you can stay in your present home until you move into your new home. Otherwise, you can attempt to negotiate a rent-back arrangement with the buyers.

      Keep in mind that these tips will help you navigate the "buy and sell at the same time" process, but essentially there is no right answer in choosing any of these scenarios as it all depends on your financial stability and tolerance for risk.

      Still confused? Let us guide you thorough it! Contact us now and we'll advise you on how you can best buy and sell at the same time. Our knowledge of the local market, as well as our long list of partner financial advisors can get you that deal that no other leprechaun could, guaranteed.


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                                What You Can Get For $600K In Downtown Boston Right Now

                                IMG_0069With yesterday's surprising news of the surge in pending home sales that greeted sellers in February in spite of its ultra-snowy days, it's only fitting that we in turn present to you potential buyers the best buys in Boston under $600K, all of which are available for you to visit this weekend, sans the snowy streets of course.

                                But before we get down to the details of these affordable yet luxurious homes, let's first discuss how much of an actual issue is inventory in the Downtown Boston market.

                                If you asked around and do a backyard survey, brokers and agents alike will tell you: there's nothing on the market (that's an exaggeration of course, albeit not a too far fetched one). There are listings and opportunities available out there however, they're not necessarily in the realm of affordable, especially to those who are looking at purchasing their first property (which is good news to investors out there hunting).

                                The overall number of listings across Boston's 14 "downtown" districts, as Tom Acitelli points out on his Curbed.com post, is astronomical - and so are their price tags. In his real estate realizations, he found that inventory is actually up, but only for those listings that are $1 million and up. In fact, since 2013, Boston's number of million-dollar listings have steadily gone up year after year - this March being the winner, as 44 percent of all listings across these 14 "downtown districts" comprise the total base of inventory available out there.

                                Seven-figure homes aren't new to Boston, but having that much in such a small concentration of land mass has its negative side effects. For instance, median prices will be inflated and therefore affect the affordability in a given neighborhood. Tom notes:

                                In fact, million-dollar listings were so prolific that six markets came back with a current median sales price that exceeded $1 million. Three of the six markets were so overloaded with million-dollar listings that either I have to get a better microscope or these were literally nearly the only type of condo listings one could find in those markets.

                                In Back Bay and the Waterfront, 88 percent of the for-sale listings had seven-figure price tags. And, in Midtown--that vague MLS-designated market that reflects an area in and around the Millennium Partners development known as Millennium Tower to in and around the Millennium Partners development known Millennium Place to in and around the Millennium Partners development known as the Ritz Carlton Condominiums--95 percent of the available listings were asking at least a million.

                                So what is a first-time homebuyer to do? Well, like our headline suggests, we'd like to present to you the result of our city scouring of the five newest, best, and affordable options out there for your viewing this weekend - all in Downtown Boston, from back Bay to Beacon Hill to the South End. You're welcome.


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                                The Cold Never Bothered These Buyers, Anyway: Pending Sales Spike In February

                                BOSCommon4Buyers seem to have strapped on their snow shoes to go house hunting in February, despite the remarkable winter weather we had that has left a good portion of the state buried in historic levels of snow. This, according to the Massachusetts Association of Realtors, resulted in a 2.6 spike in Pending Home Sales across the Bay State, combatting fears the property sector has in terms of how the past winter weather would affect the real estate recovery.

                                The median price of homes put under agreement in Massachusetts also rose during the blistery blast of cold and snow of last month, jumping 7.6 percent to $317,500, up from $295,000 in February 2014. The only weak spot were condominiums, which saw pending sales in the state fall 6 percent even as prices edged up slightly to a median of $287,000.

                                Per usual, inventory levels had a significant impact across properties in the state, but especially affected condominium sales as its coffers continued its seasonal slide, declining 8.5 percent compared to available units in the same period last year. However, relief is expected soon, as more listings will presumably come to market beginning this month, as the weather gradually turns to spring.

                                The spike in pending home sales in February is deeply encouraging to sellers, as figures prove that buyers are keen in acquiring properties, and will do just about anything to secure a sale.  And though the 2.6 upsurge in sales is lower than previous year's numbers, it didn't cripple the property market as some have feared.

                                During the three-week period that the state experienced treacherous weather, about 40 percent of real estate professionals polled by the Massachusetts Association of Realtors reported that "all or most of their clients kept on going to open houses and making offers online". Another 19 percent of them said that "roughly half of their buyers kept their eyes glued to the buy/sell game". Only 3.6 percent of brokers and agents surveyed in the same time said "all of their buyers had decided to hibernate until spring", further contrasting fears of "frightened buyers" during the harsh wintertime.

                                BOSCommon2Sellers, surprisingly, proved even more resilient. Less than half of all professionals surveyed said "either all or most of their sellers either kept their homes on the market or went ahead with plans to list their homes", according to MAR. Just 1.8 percent of agents said "all of their sellers decided to call it quits", with another 15 percent saying "most of their sellers had decided to wait until warmer weather to move ahead with their sales plans."

                                With all these figures in mind, it is not hard to imagine how much higher pending sales could have edged if it were not for the winter weather that walloped the state last month. However, warmer months are ahead, and we should see a resurgence of both buyers and sellers rush back to the market even more.

                                So, if you're still on the fence whether you should sell or not this spring, this bit of news should give you a clear indication of the demand that's slated to hit the city and state in the next couple of months when winter is but only a memory.

                                David Paez has been successfully in the business of buying, selling, and renting homes for over seven years. He is actively aiding willing sellers in disposing their investments. List your home now and reap the financial rewards! Call David at (617) 549-9783 and schedule a risk-free consultation and find out he can get you the most return on your investment.


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                                Why You Shouldn't Always Pick The Highest Bidder

                                BOS Thaw largeSelling your property soon? Good. Inventory in Boston needs some desperate replenishing.  Even if more listings are cropping up as the spring selling season approaches, it's still a seller's market, and therefore entirely possible you'll get multiple offers on your apartment. But oftentimes, the highest bid isn't your best pick, especially if the price difference between two offers isn't big enough to matter in two years. But one thing that people don't realize is putting an apartment on the market and getting a contract signed is not as difficult as making sure you have a buyer that's qualified and will get to the closing table.

                                So, how do you evaluate which buyer is the surest bet? Here, we round up the most important elements in making a wise decision:

                                All-cash deals

                                Almost always, the offer that doesn't rely on a purchaser getting a mortgage is the safer and faster option. That's because lenders can be deal-killers--not only because they may not approve the buyer, dashing the sale altogether, but also because a low appraisal could require the purchaser to put up more money, or a co-op board could reject a candidate they see as less financially stable. Involving a bank also delays the process by several weeks or even months.

                                Stellar finances 

                                Sometimes a buyer with a shakier balance sheet--higher debt, fewer assets or an irregular paycheck--will offer more money upfront to offset potential red flags. But it's almost never worth it, brokers say, because the co-op board will quash the deal. (This is less important in condos because the board can't reject a buyer in the same way, but they'll still want to make sure a buyer can pay the common charges, which will slow things down.) Moving forward with a buyer who may be 'risky' in the eyes of the lender is often a waste of time.

                                How do you tell if a buyer is on solid financial ground?

                                • Debt-to-income ratio: Co-op boards generally want a 25 to 28 percent ratio, meaning  that no more than this much of a buyer's monthly gross income goes toward paying off debts.  Also, keep in mind that if they own another property and they're financed on it, that's a liability.
                                • Cash reserves: Condo and co-op boards want to know how much money a buyer will have on hand after they purchase the apartment, known as post-closing liquidity. Most want to see that buyers can afford two years' worth of mortgage and monthly payments, and if the place is a wreck, that they also have the funds to make the improvements.
                                • Income: How much a buyer earns is important, but boards also want to see a steady income, so are often wary of freelancers or employees whose compensation is largely based on bonuses.

                                No mortgage contingency

                                While not quite as safe as an all-cash buyer, a bidder who agrees to waive the contract's mortgage contingency--and walk away from their deposit if the sale collapses because they can't get financing--is arguably second best. For a seller, choosing a buyer without a mortgage contingency removes one obstacle of  getting to the closing table. Banks take a long time to process paper work especially after the 2007 home and financial fiasco. They can also change their mind the day before the closing and simply not fund the loan. It rarely has happened, but it does.

                                To be sure, you don't have a guarantee that they can finance the purchase, but at least you'll be compensated if the sale falls apart for this reason.

                                Aligned closing schedules

                                Usually, the time between an offer and the closing is at least three months for a co-op and two months for a condo partly because a lot of condo buyers are all-cash. But if you need to move out ASAP or, conversely, need more time to vacate, a buyer who can accommodate your wishes might be worth sacrificing a hair off the sale price--or might tip the scales between two similar offers.

                                Often, the broker will let you know about their client's timing when they make their initial bid. Sometimes we'll have buyers who just want to  know that they have a place well in advance, but don't mind waiting eight months or so to close. Your broker can ask the buyer or their broker what their timeline is like.

                                Great brokers 

                                Some sellers get their highest offer from buyers whose broker seemed unfamiliar with the sales process, who insisted on corresponding by phone rather than email, and was hard to get in touch with. They decided not to accept that buyer's offer because they figured the whole transaction would take longer and in real estate, as in life, time is money.

                                Of course, you won't immediately know how the other broker operates, but if you get a sense from your own broker that they're unprofessional or difficult to contact, it might be worth evaluating different offers.

                                Love at first open house

                                Similarly, sky-high bids from flaky buyers can be a waste of time. When inventory is low, buyers get scared and sometimes, they make offers when they don't really want the apartment. Then they get cold feet when they get an accepted offer. If someone is offering really high, you should be a little wary and try to lock it in quickly before they pull out.

                                Or, you may want to go with the offer from the buyer who truly wants your apartment, even if their bid is a bit lower. While it can be difficult to tell who's serious, there are some hints. Gauge it as, "do they want to bring in a contractor, or bring in multiple visits?"

                                Also, if you know they've been apartment hunting for a long time and seem knowledgeable about the market, they're probably not just submitting an offer on the first place they see. Familiarity with the neighborhood is another good sign, as is a desire to move quickly.

                                Kindness wins

                                Sometimes the company you keep also has an impact. Take for example "Joy", a new Beacon Hill owner who bought a two-bedroom late last year and who won out against higher offers, apparently because the seller thought she had the "nicest" family. That was particularly important for the owner, who apparently owns another unit directly above the one being sold and planned to move there knowing there were friendly neighbors downstairs.

                                While this specific situation might not crop up often, selling to a pleasant person who seems like they'd treat your home right is an important consideration, particularly for sellers who feel emotionally connected to their home. That's why some buyer's brokers include a "love letter" with their offer expounding their client's personal qualities.


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                                Priced To Sell: A Guide To Setting Your Listing Price

                                BOS1As spring descends into our snow-ladden city, more and more homeowners are contemplating continuing with their home sales - listing them as soon as the sunnier days settle in, in the hopes of catching the wave of buyers who will be waking up from hibernation. That said, if you're one of the hundreds who are looking to cash in on your investment, then you're most likely in the process of planning the specifics of your impending sale, figuring out the 'how' and the 'when'. But one important and daunting task in your planning process is figuring out your property's asking price.

                                And as we all know, setting your home's list price is easier said than done. A good real estate agent will recommend a price range, but never assign an exact price -- that's ultimately for you, the seller, to decide.

                                And although sellers aren't required to price according to inventory levels or the market condition - though it is wise to do so, it is a smart thing to discuss these things with your agent early so you can form an informed decision in the days leading up to your home's listing on the market. Here are some considerations to keep in mind when choosing your listing price.

                                Discuss price reductions before listing

                                If you aren't highly motivated to unload your home, time is on your side. Using recent or obvious comparable sales, the market value of your home could fall within a broader range. If you want to give it a shot at the top of the range, go for it. Monitor buyer traffic to see how the market responds.

                                If you try the higher end of your home's price range, agree with your agent early on that you will drop the price after a set amount of time. You can then use that price reduction as a marketing tool to get more people in the door. At least you will know that the higher price strategy did not work.

                                Pricing low doesn't guarantee multiple offers

                                When homeowners hear about other sellers who received multiple offers or sold their homes for over the asking price, they assume it can happen to them, too. But just because your neighbor received three offers within two weeks does not mean you will.

                                The homes that receive multiple offers are sometimes purposely priced low to get that activity. These home are generally in a good location and in their best showing condition. And for all you know, the seller of the low-priced home with multiple offers was in a rush to sell and left money on the table.

                                If you price your home low, be prepared to take that price. While it's not unheard of, raising your list price several weeks into the listing will surely turn off potential buyers.

                                Many agents look for a quick sale

                                Well-intentioned agents don't want to watch your home sit on the market. They understand that homes that go weeks or months with few showings will ultimately sell for less than if they had been priced correctly right out of the gate.

                                Sometimes it becomes a battle -- one you need to avoid. If your agent pushes for a lower number but still agrees to take the listing at your higher price, you may want to reconsider working with that agent. He or she represents your interests in the marketplace, both to other agents and the buyers they encounter. An agent who doesn't get their way on pricing may end up sabotaging your sale. A good agent will agree to support your higher price strategy, but have a price discussion after some time on the market.

                                Determining the real market value

                                The true market value of a home is what an able and willing buyer and seller agree to in an arms-length transaction. But you won't know that until the end of the process.

                                If the home sells within a few days of listing, chances are you listed too low. If months go by without any action, you hit the high mark. A home that is priced right will get some steady action. If you receive second or third showings from multiple buyers over the course of a few weeks, you've likely hit the mark with pricing.

                                Once you have an accepted offer or a signed contract, prepare for more negotiations after inspection. If buyers feel they are paying a lot, they will come back and ask for credits or fixes. A true sign of a well-priced home is one where the seller and buyer negotiate up until the eleventh hour.

                                If you plan to sell your home, talk about pricing with your agent early on, and continue the discussion as you get closer to listing. Check out listings online, go to open houses, and vet the competition weeks before listing.

                                If you and your agent are on the same page about the pricing and marketing strategy, your home's ultimate price shouldn't come as a surprise.

                                David Paez has been successfully in the business of buying, selling, and renting homes for over seven years. He is actively aiding willing sellers in disposing their investments. List your home now and reap the financial rewards! Call David at (617) 549-9783 and schedule a risk-free consultation and find out he can get you the most return on your investment.


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