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.
By: Kris Berg. HGTV
Professional stagers are paid to bring out the best in your home. Don't take it personally.
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.
By Tom Acitelli of Curbed
Major projects are driving a lot of change in different areas of the Boston region—in some more than others.
These are the six neighborhoods and one city everyone should be watching right now.
The under-construction Four Seasons Hotel & Private Residences One Dalton Street—a.k.a. One Dalton—will be Boston’s tallest new building since 200 Clarendon in 1976.
The 742-foot tower with 160 condos and a Four Seasons hotel is expected to open within the next 12 months.
The neighborhood is also due to host a veritable forest of new towers around Back Bay Station.
That project, which includes a redevelopment of the Clarendon Garage, is expected to total 1.26 million square feet of housing, offices, and retail, with at least one tower stretching toward 400 feet.
The 30-story, 340-foot Pierce Boston condo and apartment tower, the tallest building in Boston west of Back Bay, officially opened at Brookline Avenue and Boylston Street in Fenway on March 1.
Four weeks earlier, one of the biggest—and longest-in-coming—new projects in the Boston region got officially underway: The five-building, 1.1 million-square-foot Fenway Center where Brookline and Commonwealth avenues meet in the Kenmore Square area.
The South End
Together, the fresh projects are adding thousands of condos and apartments, never mind hundreds of thousands of square feet of retail (and, inevitably, thousands of residents).
Then there’s the recent proposal for redeveloping the 5.6-acre site of the former Boston Flower Exchange. What’s now dubbed the Exchange South End would run to nearly 1.6 million square feet and contain four new buildings.
These buildings would total more than $1.48 million square feet of commercial, technology, and life science research space—the idea is to rival other regional commercial hubs such as Kendall Square and the Seaport.
Finally, a “millennial resort” is headed to the still-emerging Ink Block development. Don’t get more game-change-y than that.
A wave of new development is sweeping much of Eastie, but no single development—or potential development—is as portentous as what’s unfolding at the 160-acre site of the shuttered Suffolk Downs racetrack.
It’s there that owner HYM Investment Group has put forward a general redevelopment plan with two paths. Both paths include 16.5 million square feet of new residential, retail, office, hotel, and lab space built out over as long as two decades. (Eleven million square feet of that would go in Boston and 5.5 million in adjoining Revere.)
Now, should e-retail sasquatch Amazon pick Boston as host of its second headquarters, HYM would go with a so-called pro-commercial approach.
That pro-commercial path would be paved with the up to 8 million square feet of office space that Amazon is seeking in a new HQ. It would, too, include 7,500 residential units, 550,000 square feet of retail, and up to 830 hotel rooms.
But suppose Amazon choose Dallas or some such exotic placeinstead of Boston. In that case, HYM would take a pro-residential path, with 10,000 housing units, 450,000 square feet of retail, and 670 hotel rooms.
There would also be 5.25 million square feet of office space.
Kendall Square-based M.I.T. is driving much of the change in the Cambridge neighborhood.
At the start of 2017, the university paid the federal government a mint to take over the 14-acre Volpe transit center site, and then floated plans for what would be, at 500 feet, the tallest building in Cambridge.
The plans, which won a key zoning approval from the city in October 2017 (and which are rendered above), also call for about 1,400 housing units and 1.7 million square feet of offices and research space as well as acres of new parkland and plazas.
The university, too, plans to build several buildings south of Main Street, including a 28-story dorm.
Finally, there is the bigger-than-expected 19,000-square-foot Brothers Marketplace—part of the famed Roche Bros.’ chain—that is expected to open in the summer of 2019 at One Broadway. It is part of a larger M.I.T.-driven project called the Kendall Square Initiative.
Silver Line service from downtown Boston into Chelsea is expected to start this spring. The five-mile route will run from South Station to a stop just west of Everett Avenue, and will facilitate connections to the Red and Blue lines.
An estimated 8,700 people will use the route daily, a figure sure to further boost Chelsea’s status as a Plan B for buyers and renters priced out of Boston proper.
The route will include an exclusive right-of-way for Silver Line buses once in Chelsea, where there will be four stops total. And, as part of the extension, the state will relocate Chelsea’s commuter rail station westward and spruce it up quite a bit.
Also, there are several small condo projects going up or recently opened in Chelsea, especially in the areas closer to Boston (though with decidedly un-Boston prices).
The West End
Enormous new developments around North Station and TD Garden are driving lasting changes to the West End’s streetscape and traffic.
These developments including the Hub on Causeway, the first phase of which is under construction and is due to include the city’s largest supermarket; a 15-screen movie theater; 10,000 square feet of outdoor space for a new entrance to TD Garden and North Station; and 175,000 square feet of what the developers are calling “creative office space.”
Then there’s the 44-story, 469-unit tower set to rise in place of the Garden Garage.
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.
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.
Tom Acitelli of Curbed Boston
In much the same way that the middle-class is unlikely to enjoy a renaissance in Boston, developers are unlikely to ever pierce 800 feet in terms of building height.
At least not for the foreseeable future.
The city’s tallest building by 2020 will be the same as it is today: 200 Clarendon (the former Hancock), which stretches to 790 feet at its tallest architectural detail, not counting antennae and other apparatus.
The second-tallest will also be the same, too: The 749-foot Pru.
The third will likely be new: The under-construction One Dalton hotel-residential tower in Back Bay is slated to stretch to 742 feet at its highest architectural feature.
After these three, Boston’s 10 or so tallest buildings by 2020 will stretch little beyond the 700-foot mark.
What’s holding the city back from building to 800 feet, 900 feet, (gasp!) 1,000 feet? The sagas of two arrested developments—both garage conversions, in fact—illustrate the answer.
Developer Millennium Partners had at one point proposed building a 775-foot mixed-use tower, including condos, at the site of the shuttered Winthrop Square Garage at 240 Devonshire Street. (Millennium bought the garage from the city, and originally proposed a still-significant 750-foot project, before bumping that to 775 feet in November 2016.)
Then concerns about the shadows such a tower would cast on landmarks slowed the requisite approvals. Then federal regulatory concerns about the effects of such a height on planes in and out of Logan slowed approvals some more.
So the height started dropping—first to 702 feet and then to 691 feet at the start of 2018. The project would still pencil out to 1.6 million square feet of space, including 640,000 square feet of condos. But the height, it’s 84 feet off the boldest plan.
And even with such reductions and a relaxation of state rules governing shadows in Boston’s historic core, the Winthrop Square Garage project remains uncertain nearly 18 months after Millennium reached a deal with the city to acquire the garage.
Attempts to redevelop another Boston garage stretch back much further than the efforts at Winthrop Square.
The Chiofaro Co. has owned the 1,380-space Boston Harbor Garage at 270 Atlantic Avenue since 2007, and has been trying to redevelop it pretty much since then.
Previous projects have included a two-tower complex that included hotel rooms and condos—and an ice rink as part of a year-round open space—and a single skyscraper with offices and condos.
Disputes with the neighbors, including the New England Aquarium, have held up the plans, however, and, while the single-tower proposal appeared to take a big step forward last winter, plans still remained up in the air.
That was until February 2018, when the Boston Planning and Development Agency proposed allowing Chiofaro to build a tower as high as 600 feet in exchange for establishing a fund worth up to $30 million to compensate the aquarium for any disruptions and to set aside parking for the institution.
Chiofaro would also be on the hook for a so-called Blueway extension of the Kennedy Greenway. Moreover, open public space would have to be a sizable part of Chiofaro’s development under the BPDA plan.
All in all, the plan would allow for the tallest tower ever along Boston Harbor. Chiofaro appears amenable to the deal’s terms, including the aquarium’s indemnification against loss of visitors/business.
Still, the tower might yet tarry: The state could take up to two months to review the BPDA plan; then it’s another round of local and state permitting; and Chiofaro hasn’t settled on a final design to even propose.
There is also continuing opposition from the owners in the neighboring Harbor Towers complex.
An amalgam of regulatory hurdles, neighborhood concerns-slash-opposition, seemingly unchangeable infrastructure, and Boston’s simple geography appears to be the insurmountable obstacle to building beyond 800 feet.
Meanwhile, the city continues to grapple with an infamous housing crunch that causes Manhattan-esque prices and to work overtime to draw and retain commercial tenants.
What’d you think? In your lifetime, will you see an 800-footer in Boston?
Click on the following link to check out our new mid-year issue of The Real Estate Insider. We've been providing our readers with timely data, offerings and sales reports on the Boston real estate market since 1992.
This new issue includes some very interesting, if not unexpected, data on the following topics:
Five-Year Sales Summary of Boston's Tier-1 Doorman Condominium Buildings.
Mid-Year Condo Sales Review of each major Boston Neighborhood in the <$1M, $1-3M and $3+M price ranges.
The Best Time of Year to Sell.
Click on the following link to visit the website for this magnificent home in the historic Cochrane Mansion. List Price: $11,250,000 http://www.257commonwealth3.com/?cpref=100
257 Commonwealth Avenue was built circa 1886 for industrialist Alexander Cochrane by the renowned firm of McKim, Mead & White - architects of the Boston Public Library and the East and West Wing renovations at the White House. The Cochrane House was developed into six private residences in 1985. Residence 3 is a rare and coveted combination of the entire parlor and second floors, connected by a grand elliptical staircase and overlooking the Commonwealth Mall. The parlor floor features the mansion’s original public rooms - perfect for entertaining on a grand or intimate scale. The centerpiece is the forty-foot Great Hall. Today it serves as this condominium home’s elegant entrance foyer and a family room at the opposite end. The drawing room, bay windowed living room and dining room are accessed from the Hall, allowing for excellent flow. Adjacent full, updated kitchen. Powder room. Palatial 900+ SF private deck. The second floor offers a masterful entertaining salon with a full kitchen. Powder room. Library. Master bedroom with a marble bathroom and large walk-in closet en suite. Two-three additional family bedrooms. Adjacent full bath. Additional features and amenities include massive pocket doors, soaring coffered ceilings, stunning wood and plaster detail, seven fireplaces, central air, W/D and keyed elevator access. Two full garage spaces. Professionally managed Association.
Price: $11,250,000 Size: 5,930 Interior SF. 900+ SF Private Deck.
Contact Exclusive Listing Broker, Tim Marsh for a private viewing.
(C) 617-548-7145 email: email@example.com
The greater Boston real estate market logs in the largest number of sales closings in the Spring (2nd) Quarter virtually every year. The cold weather and snow give way to blooming flowers, warmer weather...and eager buyers!
Some want to enjoy the Summer in their new digs, others 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 2017 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.
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 things like cleaning the litter and leaves out of the front garden of your building or making sure the entry foyer to your condo building is spotless. Not only does this first look enhance or detract from 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. 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 your front door, 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. Put new washers in that kitchen faucet that just started dripping. Seal and repaint that water stain from the leaky toilet upstairs that you had fixed last Fall. Touch up that chipped paint on the frame around your front door.
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 roof. 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. Find the floor plans for your property; buyers really appreciate seeing these in the brochure and it helps them to better remember your property at the end of a long day of viewing 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.
Many of your neighbors have relied on Marsh Properties Brokers over the last 32 years to manage their real estate needs. Call us today for a confidential discussion on how to best prepare your property for sale.
Marsh Properties Owner/Brokers:
Tim Marsh (C) 617-548-7145 firstname.lastname@example.org
Cheryl Marsh (C) 617-797-5781 email@example.com