LOCAL BROKERAGE • GLOBAL NETWORK

Beacon Hill

Fall is the New Spring in Real Estate

Courtesy of Andrea Brambila - Inman News.

      

Record-low mortgage rates, skyrocketing buyer demand, and shrinking inventory have pushed the housing market's busy season forward through at least the end of the year.

Record-low mortgage interest rates, the increased need for more spacious, multifunctional homes during the coronavirus pandemic, and timelines that no longer necessarily revolve around the start of the school year have fueled homebuyer demand so much that fall is looking more like a new spring in the housing market this year.

“This spring was like no other,” Brian Rubenstein, senior director of mortgage at online lender Ally Home, told Inman in a phone interview. “The pandemic and the market dislocations were quite unprecedented.”

Due to the pandemic, the Federal Reserve has kept interest rates low in an effort to shore up a faltering economy, and rates for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages have been hovering around 3 percent. This week, National Association of Realtors Chief Economist Lawrence Yun declared that 2020’s housing market was outperforming 2019’s housing market and predicted that this year’s home sales would end up higher than the 5.34 million homes sold in 2019.

Rubenstein doesn’t expect rates to rise and that means that the market will likely see what he called an “extended spring cycle.”

“We’ve begun to see a steady increase in people hitting the market, inventory remains lower than usual, but at the same time, with demand being so high, we’re seeing the average home price jump dramatically.

“For the first time we’re also seeing the new entrants into the market — first time homebuyers — not really being scared off by that. They’re really looking to settle in and really begin their home purchase journey, given everything that’s happened in the current landscape.”

Ally saw a delay in the spring market that lasted about two months. Whereas the market typically starts heating up in March as homebuyers figure out where they want to be for the following school year, this year it wasn’t until May that mortgage application volume started picking up, according to Rubenstein.

“Our app volume’s up close to 160 percent of where it was year over year. The purchase market has begun to pick up steam as the refi wave continues to dwindle a little bit,” he said.

Although Ally declined to share raw numbers, the company said the share of first-time homebuyers in July and August had grown to 60 percent of purchase volume, up from 42 percent of purchase volume in July and August 2019 — a 43 percent year-over-year increase.

Trending

“I would expect us to continue to see a steady pick up in purchase volume through the remainder of this year and … [stay] buoyed by the spring market next year,” Rubenstein said.

While there is usually a dip in mortgage volume around the holidays, whether there is one this year is up in the air, in part because people are less likely to travel extensively until there’s a vaccine, according to Rubenstein.

“If folks are not open to traveling during the holiday season, it could present an opportunity for us to continue the continued climb in the mortgage space,” he said.

Additionally, companies that are currently having their employees telecommute could decide to extend that arrangement, allowing people to ditch their previous commutes and “re-tether” themselves to an area that’s more important to them because it’s closer to relatives or a particular school, according to Rubenstein.

“It could help perpetuate … the late spring market through the fall, through the winter, into the following spring,” he said.

Because school is unlikely to be solely in-person, that could encourage families to move around more as well.

“If the caregiver or parent is remote, and the child is either remote, or there are going to be multiple options in the future for children to facilitate learning, whether it’s through virtual or e-learning, that provides a lot more flexibility optionality for folks when they’re making home purchase decisions,” Rubenstein said.

“People are going to be thinking about that probably in a different way, given the landscape of the environment. I think that could help further stimulate this market that we’re seeing now and continue on at least through some point next year.”

Real estate data firm CoreLogic saw home prices rise 5.5 percent year over year in July — the highest rate since 2018. Real estate brokerage Redfin saw home prices rise even more in the markets it operates in — 8.2 percent — canceling outa 6.9 percent increase in buyer purchasing power due to low mortgage rates. The firm attributed the price increases to a combination of low inventory and high buyer demand.

Instead of experiencing their usual fall decline, home prices will at least hold at their current “record high levels” for the next quarter, according to Mike Simonsen, CEO of housing market analytics firm Altos Research. Simonsen hosted a webinar Thursday titled “The Key Data to Watch Right Now in Real Estate.”

Source: Altos Research

“Normally where we are in late summer is the high and we’re starting to reduce prices before the end of the year. We don’t want to be stuck with a home in November that’s been on the market since July, so they get cut,” he said.

“[This year] our whole seasonal reset is way lower than a normal year. Twenty-five [or] 26 percent instead of 36 [or] 37 percent of homes are taking price reductions. That’s because there’s demand in the market. That’s homes getting listed and sold quickly. That’s multiple offers, and that says that the homes that are listed now in the prices that we’ve got now hold up for transactions that happen later in September, in October, November.”

        

Source: Altos Research

That demand is being met with shrinking inventory. Altos predicts the number of single-family homes for sale will continue to drop through the end of the year.

Source: Altos Research

“We had just a couple of weeks in March of climbing inventory in 2020, and then the rest of the year when normally we’d have all this inventory increasing, inventory dropped rapidly every week from April all the way through,” Simonsen said.

“It’ll be flat for a couple of weeks here in September and then you can expect the majority to pull back. The second week of January is when we get our inventory turn. It starts the new listings for the springtime. We may be at 378,000 homes for sale for the whole country. It’s insanely low. That would be half of what a normal January would start at and like a third of what a healthy market would be.”

Source: Altos Research

Altos expects that some homes will come on the market as the first six months of mortgage forbearance end for some homeowners at the end of September. At that point, some will decide to sell their homes, but most will re-extend their forbearance period so that it ends in March, which may mean new inventory in April, according to Simonsen. Still others who are currently in forbearance but not responding to their lenders may go into foreclosure on January 1 as the current foreclosure moratorium ends, or may decide to sell to avoid foreclosure, he added.

“Because prices are high, equity is at record levels, homes are moving fast, it seems unlikely that we’re going to get a wave of foreclosures, but more likely that we might have folks that say, ‘Well, I’m going to take my cash now,'” Simonsen said.

“For Realtors that communication of the opportunity to walk away with your cash pretty quickly because demand is high is a listing opportunity to take advantage of.”

In response to a post on Inman’s Coast to Coast Facebook page, real estate pros mostly expected the fall market to be as busy as their spring normally would be.

“The [Washington D.C.-Maryland-Virginia area] has been extremely busy,” wrote Don McGlynn, associate broker at Compass. “Low inventory is resulting in a price squeeze. Things would have to change drastically for that to slow down in the fall.”

“We are still seeing low inventory and multiple offers on many homes,” he added. “30 years in the business and I have never seen this before.” But, he added, “[R]eal estate is cyclical. I think when the pandemic is over we will see more homes coming on the market. It should lead to a more balanced market.”

Some agents and brokers anticipate staying busy, but predict low inventory will stymie sales.

“In the Chicagoland market as long as people don’t have to commute to an office to work in, we will continue to see homes selling in specific price points where home buyers can have the separate living spaces to accommodate the household needs for working and education as well as greater outdoor space,” wrote Andrea Geller, a broker at Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Chicago.

“For the most part I haven’t had a lull and still continue to get new opportunities with new and past clients, which is giving me a good pipeline of business,” she added. “One of many [factors] choking up listings and some buys are the courts are so behind that sales that are a result of things like divorces or estate issues are on hold until the right to sell them is there.”

Glenn Phillips, CEO of Lake Homes Realty which operates in 30 states, anticipates “above-average buyer demand continuing, and the deal flow continuing to be limited by low inventory through the [f]all.”

But he predicts the repercussions of the pandemic to hit next year. “After the stimulus money runs out (sooner or later, even if there is another round), this tempo may change as the economic scars from the pandemic will become more obvious to the markets and the economy. The election outcomes will also influence the tempo of the market next year,” he wrote.

Tim Marsh (Owner | Broker)

Marsh Properties, Inc.

tim@bostonluxuryrealestate.com

(C) 617-548-7145

Pristine Two Bedroom Condominium overlooking Chestnut Street on the Coveted South Slope of Beacon Hill

The coveted South Slope is home to this lovely two BR condominium with postcard views of Chestnut Street and a Southern exposure.  Entry foyer with coat closet.  Spacious 21’ living room with electric fireplace and two picture windows overlooking Chestnut. Renovated S/S and granite kitchen with picture window.  Rare dining room.  Large master bedroom features two closets, large picture window overlooking Chestnut and a full bath en-suite.  Second bedroom with closet is positioned at the opposite end of the condo from the master bedroom.  Adjacent full bathroom.  Architectural moldings and new wood floors add to the charm of this home.  27 Chestnut boasts a popular and convenient location just a few blocks up from the Charles Street shops and restaurants and is close to the Boston Common, Public Garden, Charles River and Esplanade and Financial District.  Residents enjoy a common roof deck with panoramic views, courtyard, fitness room, private storage, laundry room and bike storage.  $1,750,000

  Take a video tour of this property at:  https://youtu.be/El-VVLDgfMQ

            

         

Tim Marsh

(C) 617-548-7145 or tim@bostonluxuryrealestate.com      

Boston had nation's worst rush-hour traffic congestion in 2018

By Tom Acitelli - Curbed Boston 

Boston drivers wasted an average of 164 hours in rush-hour traffic in 2018, the highest total among U.S. cities, according to a new report from research firm INRIX

The company analyzes millions of bits of data for its annual Global Traffic Scorecard. Boston always scores rather high, but this year the city appears to have rated particularly bad. 

For the first time, too, INRIX looked at commutes in terms of peak (slowest travel times) versus inter-peak (fastest point between morning and afternoon commutes) travel times. In Boston on average, commutes increased 27 percent during peak versus inter-peak hours.

There was a bit of good news in the report. “[I]n cities like Boston, Washington, D.C., and Chicago, a higher proportion of trips are taken via public transportation, walking, or cycling.” Any car trips then are more likely to be related to business, the report said—unlike in, say, Los Angeles, where everyone drives everywhere for everything. In fact, INRIX said that L.A. was the most car-dependent city of the top 10. 

A rundown of that top 10 is below. 

Perhaps its status as the U.S. city with the worst rush-hour traffic will drive Boston’s leaders to reconsider congestion pricing once again. Or maybe the T will be fare-free sooner rather than later.

Tim Marsh - Owner/Broker

Marsh Properties, Inc.

Fall vs. Spring - Debunking the Myth

Boston's Neighborhoods: How They Got Their Names.

By Tom Acitelli of Curbed Boston

Geography, infills, independence movements—all played roles in shaping the city’s positional vocab.Felix Mizioznikov/Shutterstock

Boston is named after the town of Boston in eastern England. But what about the city’s neighborhoods? A lot of them have similar roots in old Albion, while a sizable chunk are tethered etymologically to geography. 

Read on for the origin stories of Boston’s 22 large neighborhoods.

Allston

This neighborhood was for years simply the stockyards and rail yards of the town of Brighton. It also had a post office and quite a bit of woodlands. 

One gentlemen who liked to hike the woodlands was the painter Washington Allston, who lived across the Charles River in Cambridge.

By the time Boston annexed the area in 1874, it was known by his surname.

Back Bay

This photo from 1858 shows the Back Bay on the left and the Charles River on the right.  Public domain.

There is a reason many people call this neighborhood the Back Bay: From 1857 to 1882, one of the largest urban infrastructure projects in U.S. history filled in about 450 acres of pestilential tidal basin known colloquially as “the Back Bay.” 

Beacon Hill

 

A depiction from 1811 of the reduction of Beacon Hill to 80 feet from 138.  Wikimedia Commons

Multiple hills—some say three, some say five—comprised what became Beacon Hill, one of the first settled areas on the Shawmut Peninsula.

One of those hills became known as Beacon Hill because of a signaling beacon on it; and the name stuck. 

Bay Village

The smallest neighborhood that the city itself breaks out, Bay Village was born in the 1820s as the collection of homes for the workers who built the tonier nearby Beacon Hill. Therefore the architecture looks similar. 

Bay Village used to go at various times by the Church Street District, South Cove, and Kerry Village. Bay Village stuck, perhaps given its immediate geographic proximity to the pre-infill Back Bay. 

Brighton

Brighton was its own town until Boston annexed it in 1873. 

By that point, it had been independent for only about half a century; and, before that, was known, along with what became Allston, as an agricultural and cattle-rustling appendage of Cambridge that went by the diminutive nickname Little Cambridge. 

It changed its name to Brighton, after a town in southern England, upon independence in 1807. 

Charlestown

Charlestown was named for—wait for it—an English king named Charles; in this case, Charles I, the Stuart on the losing end of the English Civil War. 

Europeans began settling what became Charlestown in 1629—20 years before Charles I lost his head—and it remained an independent municipality until 1874, when Boston annexed it. 

Chinatown

This neighborhood is named after its predominant ethnic group; though rising housing costs and other reasons for emigration have reduced the number of residents of Chinese descent. 

Dorchester

A regional map from 1858.  Walling, H. F.—David Rumsey Collection

Boston’s largest neighborhood by area is named for Dorchester, a town in southern England. 

Dorchester, USA, was an independent town until 1870, when Boston gobbled it. As a town, it included parts of what became known as South Boston. 

East Boston

The infill-spurred linkage over 150 years of five islands east of Boston formed this neighborhood. And the “east of Boston” bit gave it its name. 

The neighborhood’s private developers saw to its annexation to Boston in 1836. 

Fenway

Frederick Law Olmsted’s plans for the Back Bay Fens, circa 1887  Public domain

Take your pick: This neighborhood’s name came either from the Back Bay Fens, a park that landscape architect extraordinaire Frederick Law Olmsted designed, or from a road that ran along it. Fens, incidentally, is a term to describe a marshy or flood-prone area, which this eventual neighborhood was.

Boston annexed Fenway and its Kenmore Square and Audubon Circle areas from Brookline in the 1870s.  It’s sometimes called “the Fenway”—often an unconscious nod to the theory that the neighborhood was named for the road. 

Hyde Park

Boston’s southernmost neighborhood—and the last to be added through annexation, in 1912—is named after the park in London dating from the 1630s. 

Jamaica Plain

This is another tossup in terms of origin. JP was either named after the Caribbean island from which some residents drew their wealth via the slave-driven rum and sugar trades; or after the Anglicization of the name of a Native American leader. 

Or! As in the case of Jamaica in Queens, New York, it comes from the name of a Native American tribe called the Jameco. 

JP became part of Boston in 1874. Interestingly, it was part of the town of Roxbury and parts of Jamaica Plain became the town of West Roxbury. 

This is the best day and time to list your home for sale

By Diana Click of CNBC

For homesellers, even in a market with next to nothing for sale, timing is everything. Listing your home on a certain day — and even a certain time of day — may make it sell faster and for more money.

Thursday is the most popular day for agents to debut new listings, and homes listed on that day apparently sell fastest, according to Redfin, a real estate brokerage. Redfin analysts based their findings on a sample of 100,000 homes that sold in 2017. It used Sunday, the worst day to list, as a baseline and then calculated the relative advantages for every other day.

Homes listed on Thursday sold an average of five days faster than homes listed on Sunday. Redfin also found homes listed Thursday were more likely to sell within 90 to 180 days.

"Our market is programmed to look at houses Thursday and to plan their weekends out," said Marshall Carey, a Redfin agent in Washington, D.C. "You really want to have the most eyes on your property, and Thursday seems to be the day to do that."

The theory is that most people tour listings over the weekend, and they begin planning their weekends on Thursday. Redfin found that a home gets five times more views on the first day it is listed than on subsequent days. This is likely because most online real estate sites offer alerts of new listings to potential buyers. Before the internet, new listings were put in newspapers on Sundays, advertising open houses, and some even in late editions Saturday night, but the model has completely changed.

 

A home is offered for sale in Chicago, Ill.

Getty Images

A home is offered for sale in Chicago, Ill.

"I normally aim for Thursday or Friday," said Peggy Ferris, an agent with Compass. "I don't like to put it on too early because then agents want to show it and you lose the really good momentum for an open house on Sunday."

Sunday open houses are still popular but losing the momentum they used to have now that people can tour homes in pictures and video online. In today's incredibly competitive market, some sellers are getting offers without home tours or getting tour requests immediately. Offers are coming in even before the first open house.

"In this competitive market, most of the agents are sort of abiding by the Thursday, Friday and then taking offers on Tuesday," said Karen Kelly, also with Compass. "I like to give everybody a shot and take a look at 10 offers instead of just one."

While listing the home later in the weekend can create more urgency, listing it slightly early, on Wednesday, could actually get your more money. Homes listed on Wednesday had a $2,023 advantage in sale price over homes listed on Sunday, according to Redfin, although analysts there could find no clear reason as to why. Most agents I spoke with didn't buy that finding but were definitely interested to hear it.

"I think false," said Jennifer Myers, a real estate agent with Dwell in the D.C./Virginia area. "It's not just what day you list but also your entire strategy."

Myers agrees with the Thursday plan but adds a specific time of day. She puts her new listings online at 5 p.m.

"The afternoon is better because on Thursdays all of us are listing, and so if you list in the morning, you end up actually on Page 2 of the listing, you end up further down, and you want to be on the top," she said.

House Hunting? Here's How To Win a Bidding War.

How to win a bidding war when buying a home from CNBC.

Today's housing market is arguably one of the most competitive in history. A record low supply of listings, coupled with extraordinarily high demand from the largest generation, mean fast-rising home prices and more people going after the hottest properties. Bidding wars are now the rule, rather than the exception.

So how do you win a bidding war? Best to be prepared before you even begin your search and to carry equal amounts of patience and humor with you … if possible.

Decide on your absolute maximum price. This factors in the monthly payment on your mortgage (if you need one), property taxes, homeowners insurance, potential homeowner association or condominium fees, and a general estimate of monthly upkeep (lawn care, pool guy, unforeseen repairs). Then start looking for homes priced slightly less than that maximum. This gives you some wiggle room in the bidding war.

1. Come with cash. Not everyone can do this, but if you can make an all-cash offer, you will have an advantage. In certain very hot markets, investors are heavy, and they usually come with cash. Sellers don't want to deal with the possibility that your loan might not come through, or they may not want to wait the extra time for the mortgage processing, so they prefer cash. In some cases they may even cut the price a bit to get the cash. Coming with cash can actually double your chances of winning a bidding war, according to Redfin, a real estate brokerage. You can always take out a mortgage after the deal closes.

2. If you don't have all-cash, try waiving the financing contingency.That is when the deal is contingent on your loan being approved by the lender. Be careful though, you don't want to end up on the hook for cash if the loan doesn't come through, so get a fully underwritten loan pre-approved from your lender before submitting your offer. This could improve your chances of winning a war by 58 percent, according to Redfin.

3. Try a personal letter to the seller. I did this once myself, and it worked on a deal I never expected to win. Selling a home is just as emotional as buying one, especially for sellers who have lived in the home a long time and have raised their kids there. Sellers want to know a little about the people taking over their precious nest. If you're a young family, write about how you can see raising your children in the cozy family room and how you already envision them playing in the back yard. Write about how much you love the neighborhood and want to become an active part of it. DO NOT tell the seller if you plan to gut the home. That could gut the deal.

4. Finally, don't be afraid to walk away. The last thing you want to do is get over-emotional and overstretch your budget. Don't be house-poor. That defeats the whole purpose of the investment.

And remember, there will always, always be another perfect home.

Marsh Properties Sponsors the 23rd Annual Taste Of The Back Bay!

Courtesy of NABB  

  

       at the Prudential Skywalk

This Year's Lineup of Back Bay restaurants and purveyors:

Abe & Louie's

Kashmir

Atlantic Fish

Kings Boston

B3 Restaurant & Bar

La Voile

Back Bay Wine & Spirits

L'Espalier

  Bauer Wine & Spirits

Lucca Back Bay

The BeBop

Mooncusser Fish House

Capital Grille

Off the Common

DeLuca's Market

Papa Razzi

Eastern Standard

Sorellina

Eataly

Stephanie's on Newbury

Flour Bakery + Cafe

Top of the Hub

Georgetown Cupcake

Towne Stove and Spirits

Joe's American Bar & Grill

This year a portion of the proceeds will benefit The Women's Lunch Place.

Musical entertainment provided by the Berklee College of Music.

For more information about this truly enjoyable night out and how to buy tickets, click on the link below:

http://www.nabbonline.com/event/taste_back_bay

Sellers: The Benefits of Staging Your Home.

By: Kris Berg. HGTV

Professional stagers are paid to bring out the best in your home. Don't take it personally.

Bedroom: Stick to a Color Scheme

Your home might be beautiful. Maybe it is immaculate, stylishly appointed to suit your tastes or highly upgraded with the finest materials and features. Perhaps it is all of these things. But, unless you are one in a thousand, it is not “staged.”

Staging a home for sale is not a new concept, but it is a practice that has gained steam with our more challenging market. I see many home sellers confuse staging with decorating and consequently resisting the process and the recommendations of the staging professional. But the reality is that the moment you commit to marketing your home for sale, you need to commit to transforming your home into a place that potential buyers can easily picture as their home. This means that you need to be prepared to emotionally detach.

Let your home speak to buyers.

Your home speaks to you, but what is it saying to your potential buyer? Most sellers we encounter tend to take the staging process personally, and this is precisely the point. Our homes are personal, yet how we live is not how we sell. Our homes represent who we are; they are life-sized memory books of our travels, they trumpet our likes, our dislikes and our beliefs. They showcase our stuff -- all that stuff we have accumulated over time that speaks to us. The goal of staging is to make the home speak to everyone else, in a compelling and positive way.

You are proud of your Hummel collection. Each piece acquired over time has a special meaning, but to your buyer, it is a collection of your things which serves only to draw his attention away from the main event. Likewise the personal photos, the too-tall centerpiece, the overstuffed china cabinet and the bookcase filled with National Geographic magazines dating back to the Paleozoic Era -- these are all treasures to be sure, but they serve only to sidetrack a buyer from the task at hand.

Buyers tend to label the homes they see, as do agents. So, you can either be the “house with the beautiful arched doorways” or the “house with the Elvis throw rug and a bunch of office furniture where the dining room should be.” Both evoke emotional reactions, but unless the buyer is one who spends his annual vacations at Graceland, you will be far better served by eliminating distractions.

Clutter may suggest your home doesn’t measure up.

Most of us, if honest, will admit that our daily lives involve a certain amount of clutter. The little stack of mail and car keys and loose change next to the telephone, the “junk drawer” which has been busy propagating the species while no one was looking, and a bathroom with enough toiletries on display to groom the entire population of Northern Ireland are all examples. OK, I’m talking about my home here, but we all have our own flavors of clutter.

True, clutter is just another perpetrator of distraction. More importantly, though, your clutter may be sending a message that you don’t have enough space. My own kitchen counter top is at this moment permanent home to a toaster, a toaster oven, a coffee pot, a butcher block of knives, a canister of utensils and a bowl of random items of fruit origin, the latter living out their golden years in a decorative bowl. This arrangement (except for the brown bananas) is functional, but to another person it might suggest I lack the cabinet space to properly store these everyday items. And, if I'm hoping that this other person will buy my home, I need to clean up my act.

Don’t shoot the stager.

The primary goal of staging is not to transform your home into the eighth wonder of the world. For most of us, this simply isn’t realistic. Rather, the best stagers will work with what you have, rearranging and reallocating all of your belongings, in order to present the property in its best light. Sometimes this means reallocating some of those belongings to the garage.

Too often the tendency is take the process personally, but you shouldn’t. Staging is not a do-it-yourself sport, and only a third party specialist can bring the neutrality and objectivity needed to accomplish the goal. You may interpret the message that your favorite painting would look much better above the fireplace -- in your neighbor’s house -- as an indictment on your style and tastes. OK, maybe it is, but most likely it is not. Rather, it is probably the stager’s attempt to ensure that your appointments don’t upstage the home itself. That’s his/her job.

Make no mistake -- professional staging is an inconvenience. Your daily routine will be turned, at least temporarily, on its head. And it can be unsettling as you watch your life rearranged to suit the tastes of others. But if selling your home in the shortest amount of time and for the most money is your goal, it is precisely those "others” who should be your focus.

Winning Strategies For Selling Your Property This Spring.

The greater Boston real estate market often logs in the largest number of sales closings in the Spring (2nd) Quarter each year; as the cold weather and snow give way to blooming flowers, warmer weather...and eager buyers! 

Often buyers want to enjoy the Summer in their new digs. Some want to have their children in place for the next school year, while others strategize to maximize their tax write-offs for the calendar year. Many just want to get their home purchase project done and over with!

If you want your property sold during the 2018 Spring market you need to get started.  Spruce up your property, assemble all the pertinent documents, hire a real estate broker and put your property on the market ASAP. 

The following topics are some of the most crucial elements that you should attend to before that first showing appointment of your single family home, townhouse, condominium or cooperative. 

Curb Appeal

As the buyer walks up to your property, their first impression often becomes their most lasting one. Make sure that their first view is as appealing as possible. It may determine whether the buyer will 1) go through with viewing the property. 2) make an offer...or not. 3) be willing to pay you a strong price.

I'm talking about increasing curb appeal with ideas like: repair cracks in the walkway, repair and paint the front steps, clean the litter and leaves out of the front garden of your building, replace worn hardware and touch up the chipped paint on the front door and make sure the entry foyer to your condo building is spotless. Not only does this first look affect the buyers initial emotional attachment to your property, it says a lot about how well the property has been maintained. In the case of a condo or coop building, it signals how willing your fellow owners may be to chip in on future repairs and general upkeep of the common areas; elements that directly affect the future value of your unit.

Let's Go Inside

Inside your property, there are numerous inexpensive ways you can make it show better. Clean your windows. Have your home professionally deep-cleaned. Place a few vases of fresh flowers in the main rooms. Increase the wattage of your light bulbs so the property appears bright and cheery. Clean the fingerprints off all doors, kitchen appliances and the bathroom mirrors. Clean out and/or reorganize your closets; a lot of buyers are coming out of large suburban houses where they are used to having a lot of closet storage. 

Most buyers are very critical when it comes to the kitchen and bathrooms. Be sure every surface is uncluttered and spotless. Store the extra kitchen appliances and put all the personal items in the bathroom away. Limit the number of personal photos on display; you want the buyer to focus on your property and not who owns it. And if you have some rainy-day money stashed away, freshen the paint with neutral colors and refinish your hardwood floors!

Repair those little problems that don't really bother you but that all buyers seem to notice. Repair that dripping kitchen faucet. Seal and repaint that water stain from the leaky toilet upstairs that you had fixed last Fall. 

If you’re aware of more costly repairs, consider doing them before you go to market. If the buyer doesn’t notice them, their inspector most likely will. And that can lead to unexpected renegotiations or even kill the deal. Replace that old hot water tank. Repair a roof leak. Repair or replace the decking or railings to that palatial deck.

Pets. Whether a prospective buyer is a pet lover or not, they want to buy a home that is immaculate. Pet odors, toys strewn about and damage to furniture, carpeting and woodwork can be a big negative. Some buyers are afraid of animals in general; they can be a real distraction. Although sometimes a logistical nightmare, best to not have the pet at home during showings. At the very least, have them crated somewhere private.

Assemble the documents and information you'll need to give to your real estate Broker.

Prior to going to market with your property, an experienced agent will ask you many questions about your property, from a dated list of your improvements to the age and condition of the heating system. Arm your broker with all the information you can. This way you'll shorten up the buyer's discovery period and get them to the offer stage quickly while their excitement level is still high!  

In the case of a condominium, put together a package including a copy of recorded condominium documents such as the Master Deed, Declaration of Trust & Rules and Regulations. Assemble the last two years of financial statements, association meeting minutes and the current budget. Make sure you know whether there are any upcoming assessments for capital improvements and/or whether your condo fee, coop fee or any other fees attached to your property will be going up within the next twelve month period. For all properties, give your broker copies of your utility bills (gas, electric, etc.) for the last twelve months and a copy of your latest real estate tax bill.