MetroWest Real Estate and Community News

Nov. 21, 2017

Homeownership: Key to Building Personal Wealth

Is home ownership still all it’s cracked up to be? The resounding answer? Yes!

Regardless of the fiscal, economic or political environment, owning a home is a key element of building personal wealth. Prior generations aspired to home ownership as a symbol of stability, accomplishment and whether intentional or not, a form of savings. History has proved that those who have purchased a home gained wealth at a rate that far outpaced those who rented.

Five key reasons why homeownership builds wealth:

1. Homeownership is a form of forced savings – Paying your mortgage each month allows you to build equity in your home that you can tap into later in life for renovations, to pay off high-interest credit card debt, or even send a child to college. As a renter, you guarantee that your landlord is the person with that equity.

2. Homeownership provides tax savings – One way to save on taxes is to own your own home. You may be able to deduct your mortgage interest, property taxes, and profits from selling your home, but make sure to always check with your accountant first to find out which tax advantages apply to you in your area.

3. Homeownership allows you to lock in your monthly housing cost – When you purchase your home with a fixed-rate mortgage, you lock in your monthly housing cost for the next 5, 15, or 30 years. Interest rates have remained around 4% all year, marking some of the lowest rates in history. The value of your home will continue to rise with inflation, but your monthly costs will not.

4. Buying a home is cheaper than renting – According to the latest report from Trulia, it is now 37.4% less expensive to buy a home of your own than to rent in the US. That number varies throughout the country but ranges from 6% cheaper in San Jose, CA to 57% cheaper in Detroit, MI.

5. No other investment lets you live inside of it – You can choose to invest your money in gold or the stock market, but you will still need somewhere to live. In a home that you own, you can wake up every morning knowing that your investment is gaining value while providing you a safe place to live.

Posted in Buying a Home
Sept. 20, 2017

To Stage or Not to Stage, That is the Question.

If you ask Vesta Real Estate Group, the unequivocal answer is: Stage!

With over 30 years of combined experience in helping clients buy and sell homes, we firmly recommend staging “to present the house in the best light,” says Liz Kelly, a listing specialist at Vesta. “We believe prepared homes show better and sell faster,” she adds. Vesta feels so strongly about the power of staging, that they pay for a consultation in their clients’ homes to prepare for listing each house. Vesta discussed best practices with Michelle Dalton-Roche, owner and principal designer at Citron Staging and Design, to gain expert insight on the staging process.

Michelle believes the primary goal in staging a home is to appeal to the broadest audience of buyers. In order to accomplish this, the homeowner must remove “distractions” from the house. “Homes are vessels of our travels, memories, images of past and present. Things that resonate with us may not appeal to all buyers,” shares Michelle. Dalton-Roche adds that our personal effects may distract buyers from important home details, such as woodwork or a nice window view. One way Michelle believes you can help potential buyers focus on purchasing your home, is to take down all family photos.

The first step in preparing a home to be staged: decluttering. Removing all distractions, excess furniture and accessories is essential. Michelle explains that it is helpful to take emotion out of the process. “When we say ‘move that out’ it is not a commentary on your personal taste – the goal is to appeal to the broadest number of buyers.” Make no mistake, a staged home looks very different from the appearance of a house in day-to-day living. The idea is to make the home appear homey and spacious but not sparse. For example, countertops should be clear of appliances, but not bare. “An accent piece can tie color or themes from another room, and make the decor cohesive,” says Dalton-Roche.

In preparing your home for sale, Citron Staging and Design advises that the presentation not only has to appeal to an in-person visitor, but items should be placed with a view toward good photographs. “The online picture gallery is the first showing in today’s marketplace, and what prompts a buyer to visit the house,” explains Liz Kelly of Vesta, “We hire professional photographers and videographers because your home’s online first impression is so important.”

Staging your house can be an onerous process, but there is no doubt that your hard work ahead of time, will pay off with a faster, more successful sale!

Posted in Selling Your Home
Feb. 8, 2017

What is “Spring Market?”

In Real Estate, Spring is Here!

If you have ever bought or sold a house, peruse the listings, or just surf on Zillow from time to time, you are familiar with the term “spring market” in real estate. If you google it, scores of articles appear, mostly about the predictions for the upcoming season. This article attempts to help clarify – what is the spring market and is it the right time for you to sell your house, or look to buy one? The answer is very individual, and the factors to consider are several. Whatever your preference, the first decision to make is choosing a qualified and experienced realtor to help you navigate all aspects of the marketplace.

Spring Market – What Does That Mean?

Spring market, also known in real estate circles as “selling season” is the period in the year where the bulk of home sales are transacted. Since this period is not marked by the calendar, the term “spring” market is a bit of a misnomer. There are many variables that go into it: the economy, the region, the setting – urban, suburban, rural – and of course the most unpredictable one, the weather. For simplicity’s sake, this article will discuss what is meant by selling season in the Metrowest region, presuming a relatively stable economy, and weather that is not marked by historical highs and lows.

What Defines “Spring Market?”

The spring market is loosely defined as when things heat up – that is, when listings start coming onto Multiple Listing Service, commonly known as “MLS”, and when buyers start to look in earnest for their next home. It’s a symbiosis of sorts – listings need looking buyers, and home searchers can’t look if there is no inventory. It’s a chicken and egg proposition; which needs to come first, or which is more important? The simple answer is that it can go either way. In a seller’s market – more people are looking to buy than people selling their homes. In a buyer’s market, the reverse is true – there are more listings available than there are buyers, putting those looking to purchase in the position of power or leverage. At the end of the day, it takes both sides of the equation, buyers and sellers, to act for a “market” to occur.

When Does It Start?

As mentioned above, weather is the big unknown, and a significant factor in when the market sees increasing activity. If there is a particularly cold winter, or when the Metrowest is “blessed” with a lot of snow and ice – remember 2014/15’s snowmageddon? – the season may start when the weather lets up and is more mild. People simply do not have the desire to trudge through snow mounds and over black ice to look at houses. Sellers are also less than interested in struggling with snow and concerns of buyers safety on their property during poor weather conditions. The mild winter weather of 2016 brought buyers out early, and activity started in late January and early February. Weather aside, the launch of selling season is a delicate dance of sorts – when buyers start looking, overall activity picks up, and listings can start to sprout up in early February. Typically – as though anything in New England can be categorized that way! – in Metrowest Boston, the spring market heats up after February school vacation.

When Does It End?

Curiously, the ending of selling season is more consistent across regions than the beginning of spring market. Activity seems to slow down around Mother’s Day, and the unofficial “finish line” is Memorial Day. This phenomenon has its outliers: in 2016, for example, the market continued on a steady hum through July. Of course, sellers sell homes every day, and buyers in turn buy them. Why a bulk of the activity ends in May is a curious trend. One theory is that a significant number of home transactions occur in the months leading up to the summer is directly related to people’s desire to move during that season. This school of thought is related to, well, school. Parents like to plan this way to minimize the interruption of the school year, particularly when the move involves a change in school district for their children. These moves are intentionally timed to have the move occur when the children are not in school and the family will be ensconced in their new home and community when school starts in the fall. Others who prefer a summer move may be based on a preference to not move in inclement weather; moving and blizzards just don’t mix. Another contributing factor is that late spring is a busy time for many people, their attentions are turned to the flurry of things happening: graduations, recitals, weddings, summer plans.

In our next article, we will discuss strategies for buying a home in the spring market, and how to best prepare your home – and yourself! – to sell during this busy time in real estate. Regardless of when you sell your home, or buy a new one, the wisest first step is to find an experienced Realtor to guide you every step of the way.

Posted in Selling Your Home
Sept. 6, 2016

Don’t Get Caught in the Rental Trap!

There are many benefits to homeownership. One of the top ones is being able to protect yourself from rising rents and lock in your housing cost for the life of your mortgage.

Don’t Become Trapped

Jonathan Smoke, Chief Economist at realtor.com,reported on what he calls a “Rental Affordability Crisis.” He warns that,

“Low rental vacancies and a lack of new rental construction are pushing up rents, and we expect that they’ll outpace home price appreciation in the year ahead.”

In the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University’s 2015 Report on Rental Housing, they reported that 49% of rental households are cost-burdened, meaning they spend more than 30% of their income on housing. These households struggle to save for a rainy day and pay other bills, such as food and healthcare.

It’s Cheaper to Buy Than Rent

In Smoke’s article, he went on to say,

“Housing is central to the health and well-being of our country and our local communities. In addition, this (rental affordability) crisis threatens the future value of owned housing, as the burdensome level of rents will trap more aspiring owners into a vicious financial cycle in which they cannot save and build a solid credit record to eventually buy a home.”

“While more than 85% of markets have burdensome rents today, it’s perplexing that in more than 75% of the counties across the country, it is actually cheaper to buy than rent a home. So why aren’t those unhappy renters choosing to buy?”

Know Your Options

Perhaps you have already saved enough to buy your first home. HousingWire reported that analysts atNomura believe:

“It’s not that Millennials and other potential homebuyers aren’t qualified in terms of their credit scores or in how much they have saved for their down payment. It’s that they think they’re not qualified or they think that they don’t have a big enough down payment.”

Many first-time homebuyers who believe that they need a large down payment may be holding themselves back from their dream home. As we have reported before, in many areas of the country, a first-time home buyer can save for a 3% down payment in less than two years. You may have already saved enough!

Bottom Line

Don’t get caught in the trap so many renters are currently in. If you are ready and willing to buy a home, find out if you are able. Let’s get together to ensure you connect with the very best Mortgage Professional you can and if you could qualify for a mortgage now!

Posted in Buying a Home
April 23, 2016

5 Tips for Buying a Home

Looking to buy a home? Here are five essential tips for making the process as smooth as possible.

Get your finances in order.

Start by getting a full picture of your credit. Obtain copies of your credit report. Make sure the facts are correct, and fix any problems you find. Next, find a suitable lender and get pre-approved for a loan. This will put you in a better position to make a serious offer when you do find the right house.

Find a house you can afford.

As with engagement rings, there’s a general rule of thumb when it comes to buying a home: two-and-a-half times your annual salary. There are also a number of tools and calculators online that can help you understand how your income, debt, and expenses affect what you can afford. Don’t forget, too, that there are lots of considerations beyond the sticker price, including property taxes, energy costs, etc.

Hire a professional.

While the Internet gives buyers unprecedented access to home listings and resources, many aspects of the buying process require a level of expertise you can’t pick up from surfing the web. That’s why you’re better off using a professional agent than going it alone. If possible, recruit an exclusive buyer agent, who will have your interests at heart and can help you with strategies during the bidding process.

Do your homework.

Before making a bid, do some research to determine the state of the market at large. Is it more favorable for sellers or buyers? Next, look at sales trends of similar homes in the area or neighborhood. Look at prices for the last few months. Come up with an asking price that’s competitive, but also realistic. Otherwise, you may end up ticking off your seller.

Think long term.

Obviously, you shouldn’t buy unless you’re sure you’ll be staying put for at least a few years. Beyond that, you should buy in a neighborhood with good schools. Whether you have children or not, this will have an impact on your new home’s resale value down the line. When it comes to the house itself, you should hire your own home inspector, who can point out potential problems that could require costly repairs in the future. Share this PostPin It

Posted in Buying a Home
April 22, 2016

Relocating to the Big City

Moving from a small town or suburb to a large city can be an intimidating proposition. Here are a few tips to help make your move as painless as possible.


Research before you move. It’s important to understand the culture you’re joining. Do research online and find out about school systems, neighborhoods, parking, weather, public transportation, and laws that are native to that area. If you can, visit a city before moving and connect with someone who’s lived there before.


Have a plan. There are a lot of steps to go through before you start packing the moving truck. Find housing before you leave, or at least know where you’ll stay while you look for a home. Never sign a lease on an apartment that you haven’t seen. If you can’t get there, find a friend or an employer to check for you. Have a job waiting for you, or if that’s not possible, know what you’ll do for money in the first few weeks of living there. Try to line up things like driver’s licenses, car insurance, renter’s insurance, and parking passes ahead of time as well.


Get involved. Meeting people in a big city can be daunting. Don’t expect the neighbors to knock your door down with a casserole when you arrive: city life is often too noisy and hectic. Take the initiative. If there are things you liked to do in your town, find ways to do those things in the city. Try new things. Volunteer. Big cities offer so many opportunities to engage other people, so find what you like.


Mind your wallet. City life is expensive. Everything costs more: food, insurance, clothes, rent. There are also a lot more ways to get ripped off, whether legally or criminally. Be careful how you spend, and know where your money is going.

Posted in Buying a Home
April 21, 2016

Dealing with Financing

As the events of the last few years in the real estate industry show, people forget about the tremendous financial responsibility of purchasing a home at their peril. Here are a few tips for dealing with the dollar signs so that you can take down that “for sale” sign on your new home.

Get pre-approved. Sub-primes may be history, but you’ll probably still be shown homes you can’t actually afford. By getting pre-approved as a buyer, you can save yourself the grief of looking at houses you can’t afford. You can also put yourself in a better position to make a serious offer when you do find the right house. Unlike pre-qualification, which is based on a cursory review of your finances, pre-approval from a lender is based on your actual income, debt and credit history. By doing a thorough analysis of your actual spending power, you’ll be less likely to get in over your head.

Choose your mortgage carefully. Used to be the emphasis when it came to mortgages was on paying them off as soon as possible. Today, the debt the average person will accumulate due to credit cards, student loans, etc. means it’s better to opt for the 30-year mortgage instead of the 15-year. This way, you have a lower monthly payment, with the option of paying an additional principal when money is good. Additionally, when picking a mortgage, you usually have the option of paying additional points (a portion of the interest that you pay at closing) in exchange for a lower interest rate. If you plan to stay in the house for a long time—and given the current real estate market, you should—taking the points will save you money.

Do your homework before bidding. Before you make an offer on a home, do some research on the sales trends of similar homes in the neighborhood with sites like Zillow. Consider especially sales of similar homes in the last three months. For instance, if homes have recently sold for 5 percent less than the asking price, your opening bid should probably be about 8 to 10 percent lower than what the seller is asking.

Posted in Buying a Home
April 21, 2016

Preparing to Sell

Selling your home doesn′t just mean hiring a realtor to stick a sign out front. There are a lot of preparations you should make to ensure you get the best offer possible in the shortest time.


Repair. Just because you’ve gotten used to the cracks in the walls and the rattles in the radiators doesn’t mean a buyer will too. If you have hardwood floors that need refinishing, be sure to get it done—hardwood is a huge selling point. Buyers like to snoop around, so be sure to fix any sticky doors or drawers as well. Finally, don’t forget to address any issues with the exterior—fences, shingles, sidewalks, etc. After all, without curb appeal, some buyers may never get to see the inside.


Neutralize. You want buyers to see themselves in your home. If your living room has lime green shag, wood-paneled walls, and all your collectibles and personal photographs, this will be much harder for them to do. Try replacing any bold color choices in your floors and walls with something more neutral—beiges, tans, and whites. Repainting and reflooring will make everything look fresh and new, and help prospective buyers imagine all the possibilities.


Stage. Once your house is clean and updated, it’s time to play dress up. Home stagers can add small details and décor touches that will bring out the possibilities in the various spaces in your home: lamps, mirrors, throw rugs and pillows, flowers, decorative soaps and towels, patio furniture. Home staging can be particularly useful if your home is especially old or if the exterior looks dated. Think of it as a little mascara and rouge—if it’s done right, you notice the beauty, not the makeup.

Posted in Selling Your Home