Category Archives: Home Buying

archOver the last 250 years in and around Boston, we have seen the architectural styles of homes evolve. From simple to ornate you can see how these home designs were influenced by our society. Many homes have been renovated several times over. Each renovation undertaking a different architectural style. Home buyer’s especially first time home buyers, should be knowledgeable about the different styles that are available to them. This information will help your Realtor in your home search. Here is a quick guide to help buyers identify the different architectural styles.

 

CAPE – The cape cod style is a symmetrical box shape with a steep gable roof. Nowadays, capes have second floor dormers to expand the ceiling height to the upstairs rooms. Since this style is on the smaller side many capes have side additions as well.

COLONIAL – A colonial is a large two level home with a symmetrical style. It has four equal size rooms on the first floor. The second floor has four equal size rooms as well. All of the bedrooms are located upstairs. This home usually has one to two chimneys. This is one of the most popular styles today.

SALTBOX – Another interesting and distinctive roof is on a Saltbox. It’s a sharply sloping gable roof. It has two levels and the roof slopes down in the back to the first level.

TUDOR – The Tudor style has exposed framework on the exterior of the home. In between the framework it’s filled with white stucco or brickwork. The roof is sharply pitched with gables opening to the sides of the house. The window panes are in a diamond pattern. The front door is normally an arched wooden door with medieval looking hardware.

RANCH – A ranch style home is a one level of living. It has a basement that is normally the length of the house. Many people finish off this space to gain extra square footage. The width of the home is wider than the depth and it has a simple floor plan.

SPLIT LEVEL ­ A split level or split entry as it’s more commonly known is a two level home with a main entry located between the two levels on a landing. Once you walk through the door there is a small set of stairs leading up to the first level and another small set of stairs leading down to the basement. The first level is where the kitchen, dining and living room are located. Then there is a wing of three bedrooms and one full bathroom. The basement is mostly commonly used as a family room for extra living spaces. Some splits have a second bathroom downstairs and use the space as an inlaw apartment. Needless to say the floor plan possibilities are endless.

VICTORIAN ­ Last but certainly not least is a victorian style which refers to homes built during the era of Queen Victoria’s reign (1837 ­ 1901). This home has an asymmetrical facade, a steeply pitched roof normally with a front facing gable and a porch that’s one story high and either half or full length of the house. Some victorian styles include Queen Anne, stick, shingle, romanesque and second empire.

There certainly are other architectural styles that we can add to this list like french provincial, contemporary and greek revival. Also some homes can have one style for example a cape cod with greek revival facade. So pay attention to the architecture styles when your out house hunting.

victorian

 

jennifer-scali-newAbout the author: Jenn Scali is a certified buyers agent and her dedication to finding her clients the right home is her top priority.  Call Jenn at (617) 905-7211 to schedule a buyer’s consult with her or visit her at www.JennScali.com


monopoluChoosing which neighborhood to live in has to be one of the most important decisions for a new home buyer.  It’s the one item on your list that can’t be changed after you sign on the dotted line.  There is more to a neighborhood than living on a cul-de-sac or having beautiful city or water views.  Agents highly recommend that buyer’s drive through the potential area multiple times during the day and evening, as well as weekends.  Evening traffic may come to a standstill in front of your home or the local fire department may travel down your street multiple times during the day.  If it’s not something that you’re comfortable with then you may need to continue with the home search.

There are other external factors that could affect your property value either positively or negatively.  However, these may not take place in the foreseeable future.

Foreclosures in the neighborhood will definitely drive down the average price of the property value by as much as 1% according to studies.  So if you are within 250 feet of a foreclosed property and you decide to sell shortly after a foreclosure your selling price may be affected.

Public transportation expansion may occur.  Public transit is a must have for some home owners.  Being within walking distance to public transportation is a necessity for them to get to work.  According to the American Public Transportation Association “residential property values for areas near public transit facilities are higher than for residential areas far away from such facilities.”

Future developments such as commercial and governmental developments are additional factors that can change your property value for better or worse.  Government plans for hospitals, schools, and traffic patterns will have as much influence on land values as commercial amenities such as cell phone towers.  Additional commercial amenities such as coffee shops, restaurants, movie theaters and grocery stores such as Whole Foods could increase property values on average up to 20% according to studies.

So drive through your neighborhood, check in with the town hall and Google to research the area you want to live in.  Knowledge is power.

 

Jennifer ScaliJenn Scali is an agent with RE/MAX Legacy and she works closely with buyers to make sure they get their homework done. You can reach her at (617) 905-7211 or on her website at www.jennscali.com


Category: Home Buying

Local Real Estate Value Trends North of Boston 128/93 Area

2015 was another great year!  A year ago, we were talking about the strong year we had in 2014 and here we are a year later and the experience has been pretty much the same.  We continue to show higher than historical volume, and values have increased as well.   Now, as we proceed along into 2016, I wanted to look at how much the market has changed in the past year as well as how we compare to the values of 2005 at the previous market high.

In Woburn, the single family market average sales price finished higher than the previous year.  Sales volume was higher too.  The higher volume occurred in spite of the low inventory levels throughout the year.    On a relative basis, Woburn is more affordable than the other local towns, but maintains a similar growth in home value.  Interest rates remained low and this contributed to first time buyers being able to afford homes even as prices increased.  Interest rates in 2016 are expected to rise slightly.

Looking back over 2015, in the north of Boston area, we saw market time decrease, bidding wars with multiple offers, fewer distressed homes, and continued overall positive feeling about the market.

Statistics and trends are a favorite tool for me.  I can get a sense of where the market is going by looking at the indicators.  Although I have created charts for many individual towns, my favorite chart, which is included with this blog, is of the local 128/93 towns compared to each other.  These include Reading, Burlington, Melrose, Stoneham, Wakefield, Wilmington and Woburn.

Here is a table for these local towns that captures the trend data:

Town Average Sale Price

2015

% Change

2014 to 2015

% Change

from 2005 High

Reading $553,508 +6.47% +15.19%
Burlington $547,275 +6.82% +24.01%
Melrose $528,488 +6.50% +16.56%
Stoneham $494,653 +7.16% +9.19%
Wakefield $492,971 +4.90% +9.50%
Wilmington $461,574 +9.08% +1.71%
Woburn $438,681 +8.47% +8.47%

 

Interestingly, all of the local towns have shown strong gains over the previous year.  A year ago, not all of the towns had exceeded the highs of 2005, but at the end of 2015, all have surpassed the highs of 2005.   Looking ahead, let’s hope for continued growth in local real estate values, and a continued strong real estate market.

Mulittown

Roland Crop 2011 jpeg (1)About the Author: Roland Spadafora is one of the broker owners of RE/MAX Legacy and is known around the office as the expert in market trends and stats. You can learn more about him on his website www.spadaforateam.com

 


It’s what you don’t see that makes the Sign of a RE/MAX agent. Every day, we do more to help buyers and sellers realize their dreams. Nobody sells more real estate than RE/MAX.


“Success usually comes to those who are too busy looking for it”
~ Henry David Thoreau

 

Is it realistic to iSCALI A_Young_Real_Estate_Investornvest in real estate in your twenties?  The answer is YES!  You’re going to need to do your homework before you begin.  Learning about the market, getting your funds in order and hiring the right people are just a few items that need to be on your checklist.

There are a few options for people who have little to no money but want to invest.  You can set up an investment account with a brokerage firm, and invest in Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs).  REITs is a company that owns and operates many types of real estate that range from apartment buildings, warehouses to hotels and shopping centers.  Investors purchase stock in the REITs and in return the REITs must distribute most of its profits as dividends to them.  Once you have a sizeable amount of money you can sell your investments and use the cash as a deposit on your first property.

Another option is called Crowdfunding.  Crowdfunding is a method of raising funds through a collective effort of family, friends and individual investors.  First time investors who use a crowdfunding platform such as “Fundable” or “Patch of Land” have access to thousands of investors.  Create a campaign for your real estate project (for example a single family rehab) so investors can see for themselves if it’s a cash-flowing investment that they might be interested in funding.

Last but certainly not least option is borrowing money from your parents.  Although this may not work for everyone it is another option.

Now that your funding is in order, the next step should be establishing a business plan.  In order for you to stay organized and achieve your short and long term goals this should be a necessity.  Then you can build a budget to track all of your expenses that comes with owning a property.  Keeping track of where your money is being spent will help you learn where you can eventually cut back.

Learning about the types of properties you want to invest in is key.  Whether it be multi families or rehabbing single families you need to drive around to look at properties and the surrounding neighborhoods.  Getting yourself familiar with listing and sold prices will help you learn what to pay for property without overspending.  Also, work with an experienced, reliable real estate agent.  SHE will keep her eye on the market for new listings and promptly set up appointments for you.  She can check the MLS for comparative properties in the area as well and this will help you calculate your numbers to see if the property is right for you.

Staying on top of current trends such as mortgage rates, consumer spending and unemployment rates is important.  Remember being educated in all areas of real estate investing is the key to a profitable return on your investment.  One great way to learn about the business is to talk with other investors.  They may offer some tips and strategies that can help you with your new business venture.  Ask them about the process and the best way to get a great return.  Ask them how they started out as an investor.  Some people invest in real estate for appreciation but smart investors invest for cash flow.  Cash flow is the money you make from rental properties every month after all the expenses are paid.  Cash flow should increase over time without ever eating away at your principle investment.  Rents will increase with inflation while your mortgage payments stay the same.  Eventually you will pay off your loan and your cash flow will increase significantly.

Last bit of advice but not least is to hire a competent accountant who is familiar with current tax laws.  In the long run you will save yourself money and a lot of headaches.  By aligning yourself with the right people, you are putting yourself on the right path.

As you can see being a real estate investor can be profitable if you put in the time and effort.  Remember that there will be ups and downs in the market over the years.  If you make well thought decisions when buying properties your investments will pay off in time.

Jennifer ScaliJenn Scali is a Realtor at RE/MAX Legacy and she enjoys working with investors and buyers who are looking to purchase real estate property. You can reach her at (617) 905-7211 or on her website at www.jennscali.com

 


Buyers today are really savvy at finding the particular style of house they are looking for as well as the location that is best suited for them.  I believe this has happened because the internet has everything you need except for an agent.  But then again, I guess you can find agents there as well.

I had a recent experience with buyers who were interested in a home that was priced in a way that looked to be an exceptional deal.  The husband and I took a look at the property.  His wife was unable to make that appointment so she promised to go to the first open house which was on Sunday.  The husband told me immediately that he liked it and that she would love it as well.

On Sunday, I met the wife at the open house and we observed that the amount of people parked on the street was overwhelming.  After viewing the home with the wife, the agent told me there had already been 60+ people at the open house and there was still approximately 30 minutes left to go.

So we went our separate ways and agreed to discuss later about how we were going to put their bid in. We decided that they should write a letter addressed to the seller explaining how much they loved the home.  Sellers are sometimes touched by letters written with an offer.  You never know exactly what is going to influence their decision.  I remember one of my buyers a few years ago actually had the accepted offer because he already lived in the community for 25 or so years and was close to the highest bid.  All he had to do was come up a little and his offer was accepted!

I noticed this week that more houses are coming on the market week by week so I’m hoping that buyers will be able to purchase the homes they want.  So be ready by having your preapproval letter, knowledge of exactly what and where you wish to live AND a good buyer agent.

 

Linda 3About the author:  Linda Dube is a Realtor at RE/MAX Legacy and is excited to help you with your next move.  You can contact her on her website at www.LindaListsAndSells.Com


“Yes, you can have the keys…as soon as the closing attorney drives to the Registry of Deeds, then waits in line to record….it should only take another four or five hours!”

Well, like the buggy whip and vinyl record album, that statement, spoken by countless Realtors over the years, is fast becoming a thing of the past.  And we owe the disappearance of long waits in line to record deeds, mortgages, and other documents needed to convey real property to technology that has seemingly worked its way into every facet of American life.  In this case it is Electronic Recording, also know as e-recording, which has been available for almost a half-decade.   Not only have we seen this important technological advancement in Massachusetts, but in most parts of the country as well.  Here in Massachusetts, there actually exists a “Registry of Deeds Modernization and Efficiency Commission” that is working hard to assist real estate lawyers, lenders, and property owners in streamlining the once mundane and archaic task of registering important real estate-related legal documents in order to put the world on notice as to who owns what and who owes who!

What exactly is e-recording?  The answer is fairly simple.  With the assistance of imaging technology, the internet, and secure e-recording portal service companies like CSC, PPDocs and Erxchange, to name a few, closing attorneys can now scan documents from a real estate closing table (like a municipal lien certificate, deed, mortgage and homestead), upload those documents through a secure portal company, which in turn checks the documents and then transmits them directly to the selected Registry of Deeds.  At that point, Registry of Deeds personnel view the documents sent, verify the quality of the image and the accuracy of the data (in the same manner they would if the original document was presented in-person to a Recording Clerk), and then accept them for recording.  Payment of the recording fees is automatically debited directly from an account set up by the sender (in this scenario, a closing attorney), and a receipt of proof of recording is emailed to the sender containing the recording information and confirmation of the exact charges for the recording.  The e-recording portal service companies charges a minimal service fee of about $4.00 to $5.00 per document–a small price to pay for the convenience and speed.  Final lien checks and title rundowns are also handled from the closing attorney’s desktop with real-time electronic recording data available by the participating Registries of Deeds.

Now, nothing is without its issues.  For example, if you transmit a package of documents and one of those documents contain an error, like a misspelling in a name from one document to the next, the entire “package” of documents transmitted will be rejected and bounced back to the sender as unrecordable.  This, unfortunately, can cause delay because after the error is corrected and the package is transmitted once again by the sender, the package goes to the end of the recording queue and time is lost.  Also, there are still a few Massachusetts Registries that don’t accept e-recordings, and Land Court/Registered Land Property (Torrens System) documents still must be recorded in person, where originals are collected and kept on file.

What’s next to make things faster, better, easier?  Who really knows!  To quote the late founder of Apple Computer, Steve Jobs, “A lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them.”

 

Tedesco headshotRobert W. Tedesco, principal and founder of Tedesco Law Offices, P.C., is a Woburn-based Attorney with twenty-five years of experience handling all types of transactional matters including representing buyers, sellers, exchangers and lenders in residential and commercial real estate transactions.  He also works with clients assisting in the sale and acquisition of small businesses, property management and tenant matters, condominium conversion, as well as estate planning and settlement.  His offices are located at 88 Main Street, Woburn, Massachusetts and can be reached at:  781-933-9293 or via email at: rwt@tedescolawoffices.com.   You can check out his website at: www.tedescolawoffices.com


This winticesameer has posed many challenges in real estate.  All the cold and snow have not only dissuaded potential buyers from pulling the trigger in purchasing a home during this time, but have also created serious problems for those buyers who have decided to make the move. For buyers that are under contract, the cold and snow have created many problems scheduling home inspections, appraisals, and the final walk through.  Sellers have had to deal with removing large amounts of snow to allow potential buyers to access the property while also ensuring there are no water leaks entering the home.

The biggest issue for homeowners this winter has been ice dams.  An ice dam is ice buildup on a roof that prevents melted snow from running off the roof and into the gutters.  The melting snow from the roof then gets trapped by the dam and eventually backs up on the roof, travels under the shingles and eventually leaks into the home.  A permanent fix to this problem is proper insulation, sealing and ventilation in the attic.  This could prove costly to the homeowner and it may not be feasible to rectify the issue during the present winter season.  However, there is a simple way to diminish the damage after an ice dam has formed to prevent further damage until a more permanent solution can be put in place for next season.  This could save not only the home from water penetration, but more importantly, a sale.

Instructions:  Fill a leg of discarded pair of panty hose with calcium chloride ice melt.  Lay the hose onto the roof so it crosses the ice dam and overhangs the gutter.  The calcium chloride will eventually melt through the snow and ice and create a channel for the water to flow down into the gutters from the roof.

By tackling an ice dam immediately when your home is under agreement, it will certainly make the process go a lot smoother during this winter season.  If you need assistance with preventing your home from having any ice dams either this season or next, contact an agent at RE/MAX Legacy for a licensed contractor that will be able to help with this problem.

 

Juliano blog headshot photoAbout the Author: James A. Juliano is one of the founding partners of Scafidi Juliano, LLP managing the Woburn office located in Downtown Woburn Center. He currently serves on the Woburn Conservation Commission where he has sat for almost two (2) years.  Mr. Juliano is very active in his community and also serves as the President of the Woburn Baseball Diamond Club which supports Woburn High School Baseball and is on the Board of Directors for the Woburn Boys and Girls Club. Mr. Juliano is also a Director of the Friends of the Tri-Community Greenway, Inc. which is a non-profit corporation responsible for the formation and organization of the 6.63 mile bike path and park that will stretch through Stoneham, Woburn, and Winchester.

Mr. Juliano’s present areas of practice include residential and commercial real estate transactions, residential and commercial lending, land use and zoning, and Landlord/Tenant law.  Mr. Juliano can be reached at jjuliano@scafidijuliano.com or by phone at 781-210-4710, Ext. 102. His company website is www.scafidijuliano.com.


bad neighborsYou can choose your friends, but you can’t choose your neighbors. I have a true story for you. In order for you to understand, I have to give you the background. In 2000, ten or so homes were built in a new development and my family and I were the last to move in.

I came out of my house to get in my car which was parked out front, to drive my son to soccer practice. I was approached by a neighbor, with not a “welcome to the neighborhood” or a “hi, how are ‘you”.   He just a shoved a petition for me to sign against my immediate neighbor on my right. It seems no one cared for my immediate neighbor’s constant and alarming additions to their backyard. First they installed an above ground pool, then a hot tub, then an enormous three tier deck to incase the pool and hot tub. Then came the pond and the fish, not to mention her over the top gardening. Did I mention the first thing that went in was the storage shed?  These were weekend projects!  All were completed at an alarming rate with the husband and father in law seemingly on speed. I can understand my neighbor with the petition’s concern, but no one has control over what someone does in their own backyard.

Meanwhile I was still unpacking and deciding on my first upgrade which was a sprinkler system.  I politely declined signing the petition.  My reluctance to get involved was the best decision.  It would be different if there was a problem with my safety or my children’s safety.

Apparently, all the other neighbors were ganging up on my immediate neighbor, the one with the pool.  So my other neighbor decided that the best solution would be to put up a fence. That should have been the end of it, but at one point the police were called to my quiet cul-de-sac.  It turned into a neighborhood discussion.  After the police intervened, both families were told to take the matter up legally.

The two neighbors ended up in court, and needless to say, you can’t make someone adjust to the way you think things should be and what their backyard paradise should encompass.

Meanwhile both neighbors no longer live on my street. Bad neighbors can’t be avoided sometimes, it is best to ignore them!

Patty 2About the author: Patty Lovett is a Realtor at RE/MAX Legacy and part of the AllianceHomeTeam. You can contact her directly on her website at www.pattylovett.com


Category: Home Buying

agents

How Real Estate Agents Are Trying To Get Your Business

 People looking for properties go to many sites on the internet.  RE/MAX has agreed with a few of these companies to automatically post listings from MLS.  I always go onto every site that I am allowed and tweak my listings assuring that the information is accurate and presented in a way that satisfies me.  Call me a perfectionist but I want to be sure that my seller is always happy with all the website information presented.  We as Realtors have to be sure that our currently-on-the-market listings are posted in as many places as possible so that we don’t miss out on that one buyer who may be the one who purchase our sellers’ home.

Zillow and Trulia are two of the most well-known sites that buyers and sellers go to in advance of their future real estate transaction.

Zillow was actually one my first affiliations.  It’s important to have a web presence, especially where the potential clients are going.  More recently I have signed on with Trulia.  I’m hoping for similar results and exposure.

One recent experience shows me that buyers and sellers have to understand what happens when an inquiry is made at one of these sites.  I received one seller lead and when I phoned the person, she didn’t seem very happy.  I sense she didn’t understand that once she provided her information on Trulia for a market analysis, she should have expected local agents who received that lead would be in touch with her immediately.

Both Zillow and Trulia are sites that most people find easily and are comfortable following the sites on a regular basis.  Personally I’m always checking to see if I have gotten any reviews that I asked my buyers and sellers alike to post for me.  When a buyer or seller is looking for an agent online, these reviews are important and help the potential client locate an agent based on the number and favorability of the reviews.

Other sites for potential clients to visit are Realtor.com and Boston.com.  Once again having a presence on these sites will contribute to an agent’s visibility and overall success.

Linda 3About the author:  Linda Dube is a Realtor at RE/MAX Legacy and is excited to help you with your next move.  You can contact her on her website at www.LindaListsAndSells.Com