Area Real Estate News & Market Trends

You’ll find my blog to be a wealth of information, covering everything from local market statistics and home values to community happenings. That’s because we care about the community and want to help you find your place in it. Please reach out if you have any questions at all. We’d love to talk with you!

I am always available to discuss an upcoming purchase or sale with you and can be reached at 978-360-0422 -Kevin Vitali

Dec. 6, 2021

What Will It Cost You To Wait A Year To Buy A House?

 

 

There is no question that the greater Boston area has been experiencing a white-hot real estate market. And you will find the hot real estate market will carry through to other parts of the country.

As a want to be Massachusetts first-time home buyer who has been saving your hard-earned money for a down payment, you have heard the experts who are bearish on the real estate market and experts who are bullish.

Who is right? The bears or the bulls?

Most economists remain bullish on the 2022 real estate market. The feeling is houses will appreciate at a better than average rate, but we will not see the appreciation we saw from 2020 to 2021.

The truth is no one can predict any financial market with a 100% certainty.  Let's take a look at what has been driving the current market and what might drive the market in 2022 in the greater Boston area north of the city.

Should I Wait A Year To Buy A House?

Whether you should buy a house now or wait is a personal decision.  And, it should not be a decision that is made strictly based on whether the market will crash or not. 

Many remember the real estate market crash of 2006-2007 (or the start of).  But, conditions are markedly different from where they were back then, and we will cover some of those points.

Here are a few thoughts about waiting to buy a house than buying a home now.  Waiting could just cost you more than you think.

The Time To Buy Is The Time To Buy

For many, buying a home is triggered by many events.  It could be a growing family, a marriage, a job transfer and a raise. 

Or, you could be sick of being at your landlord's mercy.  You get notice to leave, because they want their niece to live there, they raise the rents, every chance they get, etc.....

There quite possibly be other factors driving you to want to buy a home and should not be strictly driven by trying to time the most opportune time to buy in the real estate market.

You Have To Live Somewhere

For many want to be homeowners, you may not have the luxury of living in mom and dads basement apartment rent-free forever.  You are making rent payments and have you noticed home many rentals have gone up in price?

Since 2007, the median rental price in Essex County has gone from $1250 to $2100 a month.

Why pay your landlords mortgage when you can pay your own.  $2100 a month can certainly get you into a modest home in Essex County.

Rental Prices Are Matching House Prices

Rental prices are rising at the same frenetic price that houses are.  The underlying fact is the United States is 4.8 to 6 million housing units short to house the current population.

While the housing shortage is driving rental and home prices, the housing shortage started decades before Covid-19.  The US has not kept up with demand going back to World War II.

In most cases, house prices and rental prices rise and fall together based on various economic impacts.

Often, from a financial standpoint, owning a home is often cheaper than renting a home when compared over a 5-10 year period.

Money Is Cheap

Interest rates are unprecedentedly low.  If you average the first 11 months in 2021 the average interest rate was slightly below 3%.  In contrast to 2007, when the market was clearly in distress, the average interest rate from FNMA was approx 6.3%

Let's look at the median house price in Essex County today at $550,000 vs the same day in 2007 which was $335,000.  It seems like a huge difference.

But a $350,000 house in 2007, taking into account a 5% down payment, would have a monthly payment of $2058 at a 6.3% interest rate. Compared to the median house price of $550,000 today which would have a principal and interest payment of $2202.

If current interest rates were at the same as 2007 that $550k house would have a monthly principal and interest payment of $3234.

Interest rates do affect house prices.  Housing prices will fluctuate with the rise and fall of interest rates.  The reason why houses have appreciated so much is that the interest rates are so low.

Supply and Demand

We touched upon a housing shortage previously.  But, I want to reiterate that we have a shortage of homes and there are more buyers than there are homes for sale.  They are getting snatched up the minute they hit the market.

This is an eye-opener.

On December 13th 2007, there were 4908 single family homes and condominiums on the market in Essex County.

Today, December 13, 2021 there are only 409 single family homes and condominiums on the market.

Even compared to a good market, today's inventory is drastically low.  Demand is far outpacing supply.  Looking back to the same day in 2003 where the market was still healthy, there were still 2723 units on the market.

Quite a difference from 2007 but still an eye-opener compared to today.  Supply and demand play a huge role in how the market will play out.

Cost of Construction and Zoning

The greater Boston area is built up.  There is not a lot of land available.  Compound that with supply chain problems driving up the cost of materials and the prohibitive zoning in the area, the cost to replace a home or build a new one is high.

There is a correlation between resale prices and the cost of new construction.  As the cost of a new build goes up, you will also see the cost of resale homes follow suit.

Market Predictions For The Next Few Years

What are the long term factors that we are predicting into the foreseeable future.  If we look at the long term factors driving the cost of housing, we are not going to see any drastic changes in the next few years. 

  • Low interest rates.
  • Low Inventory.
  • Buyer demand is out pacing supply.
  • High cost of renting.
  • Prohibitive zoning.

Of course, interest rates could rise quickly which could stall the market.  But the government is well aware they must temper any interest rate rises to keep the economy created around housing going.  Also, world events can impact the market as well. 

But, look at COVID-19.  The real estate market only strengthened when many thought it would crash.

But beyond interest rates, it will take years for the housing inventory to catch up with demand.  The only way that will happen is if new units are built.  And, that cannot happen overnight.

The housing market will remain strong through 2022 and beyond. But it will most likely normalize to a year-to-year appreciation that is more in line with inflation.

The Danger Zone

The danger zone for people who want to buy a house is finding the excuse that prevents you from buying.  Right now it is the house prices are too high... but are they?

So I was an agent in the last rise and fall of the market.  In the early 2000s people kept predicting the market would crash and stayed out of the market. 

Then the market started turning in 2006 and that prevented the same people from buying, not knowing when the market was going to bottom.

From 2007 to 2009 the market declined quickly.  It wasn't until 2013 that it was clear the market had turned around and prices were matching peak levels of 2007.

If you were bear on the real estate market in 2003 and 2005 and didn't buy, you still missed out on some appreciation in the housing market by 2013. 

Meanwhile, you sat on the sidelines paying your landlords mortgage and not building equity for yourself by paying down your mortgage and gaining some market appreciation.

Buy For The Long Haul

Here are some things to consider, especially when buying your first home. 

Buy for the immediate to long term.  Historically, homes mirror inflation over the long haul. There is a correlation between inflation and home prices. 

The real estate market over a long period is always rising.  But as it rises, it has its peaks and valleys.  But over the long term, your home will appreciate.

Of course, we would all love to buy a home at the bottom of a housing down turn. And, you wouldn't necessarily want to buy at the peak. But the reality is that it is impossible to predict either.

There are many other factors that go into buying a home besides the actual price of the house. 

There are certainly financial concerns when buying a home. But, buying a home isn't strictly about the cost of a house.  There are many other factors to consider.

If you buy a home and you think in terms of 7-10+ years, you will weather most downturns.  It is never a great idea to buy a home for she short term, and it can certainly lead to trouble.

Sitting on the sidelines for 2022 is a mistake that could cost you thousands.

Other Real Estate Resources:

What Will It Cost You To Wait A Year To Buy A House? is provided by Kevin Vitali of EXIT Realty. 

Are you looking to buy a home? Partner with Kevin Vitali to help you buy your dream home.  978-360-0422

 

 

 

 

Posted in Home Buying
Oct. 13, 2021

Seller's Market Vs Buyer's Market Vs Neutral Market

At this point everyone interested in real estate has heard we are in a very strong sellers market across much of the US.  Buyers are competing for a seller's attention by offering over asking price, removing contingencies, writing heartfelt letters and more.

What Is The Definition Of A Seller's Market In Real Estate?

Simply put, is a seller's market is when demand outpaces supply. Meaning, there are more buyers for homes in a community than there are homes for sale.  A buyer must be proactive and compete for good homes.

Signs of A Seller's Market

  • Homes are going under agreement in under 30 days or less.
  • Housing supply is dwindling.
  • Homes are selling at or above asking.
  • There will be multiple offers on many homes.
  • Asking prices are trending higher than the previously sold prices of recently sold homes.

Other Real Estate Markets

When you talk about the condition of a given real estate market, you also need to be aware of a buyer's market and a neutral market.

What is a Buyer's Market

A buyer's market in real estate gives the home buyers an upper hand.  There are more homes for sale than there are buyers.  Sellers need to work hard to have buyers notice their homes.

Signs Of A Buyer's Market

  • It is taking 60+ for home to go under agreement.
  • Housing supply is accumulating.
  • Homes are selling 3-10% below asking.
  • Homes are struggling to get offers and expired listings are mounting.
  • Asking prices are trending lower than the previously sold prices of recently sold homes.

What is a Neutral or Balanced Market

A neutral or balanced real estate market that favors neither the homebuyer or seller.  Neither party feels pressure to react under duress.

  • It is taking 30 to 60 days for homes to go under agreement.
  • Housing supply is stable.
  • Homes are selling on average between 97% and 100's below asking price.
  • There is a balance between homebuyer in the market and homes for sale.
  • Asking prices are at or near the previously sold prices of recently sold homes.

 

The Haverhill MA Real Estate Market 2021 Vs. 2011

Let's take a look at the single family homes in Haverhill MA today vs 10 years ago on the same day.

Today there are 27 homes on the market, in the past 6 months a home took an average of 12 days to get an accepted offer and sold for 106% of the asking price.

10 years ago on the same day there were 181 homes on the market, homes were taking 77 days to go under contract and homes were selling for 92% of the list price.

WOW!!

Big difference.  You are looking at the difference of a hot sellers market in 2021 and a moderate to hot buyer's market in 2011.

Real Estate Markets Are Highly Localized

Market statistics are highly localized.  While you can see a general real estate market trend for a region or a county, it is important to look at statistics on a town or in large cities at the neighborhood level. 

And, certainly, markets can vary drastically from one area of the country to another.

Even within a specific market, you need to look at market segments.  For example, the current Haverhill market shows that homes over $800k took much longer to sell, over 30 days and only sold for right around asking price.

Don't assume because one town has a strong market, another surrounding real estate market does as well.

Real Estate Markets Can Change On A Dime

Real estate markets last roughly 18 years.... from recovery back to a recession. But that is a very loose estimate.  We have also seen much shorter cycles in the past.

There are many factors that contribute to the climate of a real estate market, including the economy, interest rates, supply and demand and government policy.  But like any financial market, it is hard to time. 

Currently, we are about 10 years into a bullish real estate market.  Many have been anticipating the real estate markets to crash across the country.  But, through COVID-19 the real estate market thrived, when one would have thought it would have crashed.

So what does that mean to a homebuyer or seller?

Just because the market is red-hot today it doesn't mean it will continue into the foreseeable future.  6 months can make a huge difference.  We have already seen a slow-down in the buying frenzy of the spring. 

There are many predictions about what the spring of 2022 holds.  Some say the market will have a sharp decline, others feel we will still see steep appreciation of home values.

Make your housing decisions based on what the market is doing today, not what you will anticipate will happen in six months or a year.

The Importance Of Understanding The Type of Market You Are In

Often buyers and sellers come to the table with market data in their head from years ago.  Maybe another real estate transaction they closed or a friend or family member sold or bought a home, and they remember what was going on in the real estate market from the past.

It is very important to understand the current real estate market conditions to be successful and make the most of your home purchase or sale.

A seller's market for a home seller, puts the seller in the driver's seat.  It dictates how you price and market your home as well as how you negotiate with home buyers.  Sellers tend to get a little lazy and not put in much effort in a seller's market because they don't have to.

Here in the greater Boston area in 2021, the attitude is take it or leave it, there is another buyer right behind you. 

Home sellers are less likely to provide seller's disclosures, do simple repairs and dictate when buyers can visit the house.

Buyers in a seller's market, compete heavily to get their offers accepted by offering over asking price, removing important contingencies like the home inspection contingency, appraisal contingency and more.

Contrast that with a buyer's market 10 years ago, buyers had the sellers where they wanted them.  Home inspections were leaving sellers with huge repair requests from the buyers and the sellers were willing to do them.  Home buyers could also expect a hefty discount on many of the asking prices of the homes.

For seller's a buyer's market dictates how you price your home, prepare your home, how you negotiate, how long your house will be on the market and sets many expectations of the process.

Alternately, a buyer's market dictates how they search for homes, the lack of urgency, how they negotiate and timing.

Summary

Before entering the real estate market, you will be doing yourself a favor, if you take the time to understand where the market stands, it will ultimately benefit you with information that will make your purchase or sale more successful.

Your real estate agent will be an asset to help provide information on current market statistics and an understanding of how sellers and buyers are navigating the conditions of the current market.

No one knows what the market will hold for the spring of next year.  Inflationary pressure could drive up interest rates.  When interest rates rise rapidly, it will cool the real estate market very quickly.

But maybe the market will continue in the same vein as it has through 2021. Homes will continue to appreciate at a rate above 5%

Or, maybe we will see a soft landing into a more neutral market between 2022 and 2023.

And, as I said before, don't try and time the market.  If now is the time to buy or sell, then now is the time to pull the trigger. 

Other Real Estate Resources:

  • With energy costs rising, installing solar panels may seem like a good idea. Vicki Moore discusses the pros and cons of installing solar panels as well is if leasing the panels is a good idea.
  • Dealing with the loss of a family member and having to deal with their estate may mean having to deal with personal property above and beyond a home.  Sharon Paxson shares advice on dealing with an estate.
  • Have you ever driven by a home and admired it? And you potentially want to reach out to the homeowner to see if they would ever entertain selling the home? Bill Gassett provides some simple ways to find an owner of a piece of property.

This article Seller's Market Vs Buyer's Market Vs Neutral Market discusses the importance of understanding real estate market conditions and is provided by Kevin Vitali of EXIT Realty.  Are you thinking of entering the real estate market?  Call Kevin at 978-360-0422 to discuss how the market is doing.

 

 

 

 

 

Sept. 7, 2021

6 Things A Buyers Agent Can Do For A Buyer That A Listing Agent Can't

Infoggraphic of buyer's agent vs listing agent

 

When it comes time to buy a home, there is a multitude of ways an agent can interact with you.  And it is important you know your agent's relationship with you.  It can actually be more confusing than you think.... Facilitator, buyer's agent, listing agent, dual agent.... and it doesn't end there.

Often a buyer shows up at an open house and purchases a home directly thru the listing agent.  Of course, they are nice and helpful, they want to sell you their client's house!!

Here's the rub.  The seller is their client.  They are not your agent.  They must promote the seller's best interest even if it is detrimental to you.

Let's face it. Many home buyers only buy a home once or twice in a lifetime.  It can is a legal transaction that can be filled with complexities.  You want an agent that works for you and promotes your best interest.

 

Works For You

A Massachusetts buyer's agent works for you and you alone. When you engage a Massachusetts agent to represent you they work for you and their job is to walk you through the buying process.

They will help you make decisions along the way, find suitable houses, negotiate a great deal for you and bring you to a smooth closing. 

You are in the driver's seat and a buyer's agent will tailor their services to your needs putting your best interest first.

Alternatively, a listing agent must promote a seller's best interest and the seller's needs must come before yours.  A listing agent can't work for you, they have a client already... the seller.  It would be like a lawyer working for both a plaintiff and a defendant.

Just because you are working with an agent, it does not mean they are working for you.  I often hear buyers call listing agents "my agent" and nothing could be farther from the truth.

Best Interest 

There is no other agency relationship, other than a buyer's agent, where an agent must work in the best interest of a buyer. 

A listing agent may appear nice and helpful at an open house. Of course, they do, they want to sell you the house. But when push comes to shove, their allegiance lies with the seller.  They will always put the seller's best interest first, even at your expense.

As a matter of fact, when you enter into a buyer agency agreement with an agent, it is their lawful duty to always put your best interest first.

Confidentiality

Because a buyer's agency relationship is a fiduciary one, confidentiality is automatically expected.  A buyer's agent can not share any information about you that disadvantages you during the purchase of a home.

While this may not seem like a big deal, it is.  I cannot tell you home many times I am conducting an open house as a listing agent (I work for the seller) and a buyer interested in the home reveals something to me that they shouldn't.

They may tell me they love the home... great they will do anything to get it!

Or, may tell me their credit is not the best.....  put them on the bottom of the pile.

Or they have a house to sell, but it is nowhere near to being put on the market... another deal killer.

Buyers constantly reveal snippets of information that can disadvantage themselves.  A listing agent does not owe a buyer any confidentiality and must relay any and all information they know about potential buyers to the home seller.

But a buyer's agent owes you confidentiality.  They know when to keep quiet or how to spin a potential negative if it is brought up.

Give An Opinion of Value

One area a home buyer often wants help with is determining what a fair price is for a home for sale.  A buyer's agent can prepare a Comparative Market Analysis or CMA for a home buyer and help them interpret the data. 

A CMA compares similar recently sold homes to the subject home.  Criteria such as size, location, condition, age and room counts are used to help determine the fair market value of a home.

A listing agent can only support the seller's list price and must defend the sellers asking price.  And because they represent the seller there would be a conflict for them to recommend an actual sale price.

 

Negotiate On Your Behalf

A buyer's agent can help you structure a negotiating strategy based on fair market value and your desirability of a home.

A real estate agent spends half their day negotiating and can be a valuable asset when it comes time to negotiate a contract on a house.  They know what to look for to protect your interest and they know what is working based on current market conditions.

Your agent will negotiate a deal based on the parameters you have set forth with them.

A listing agent cannot help you negotiate the terms and price of a home.  Their allegiance is to the seller and they must advantage the seller at every turn.  Their job is to sell a home to you for the best price and terms..... for the seller.

Recommend Other Professionals

I have been in the business for 20 years.  I know real estate attorneys and home inspectors.  I know who is good and who isn't.  I can recommend professionals along the way that will promote your interest and provide great service based on my personal experience.

A listing agent cannot recommend other real estate professionals.  They can only steer you to a list for you to choose from. Again if they recommend one of their preferred vendors they are not acting in their seller's best interest and could be advantaging you.

Summary

A great buyer's agent can certainly save you time, money and aggravation. 

An experienced, full-time agent spends 40+ hours a week immersed in buying and selling real estate.  Every transaction is different and brings unique challenges to the table. 

A buyer's agent can take their experience and put it to work for you.

Other Real Estate Resources

  • Buying a new construction home can be a desirable option for many. Buying new construction can be exciting but can turn into a nightmare.  Bill Gasset shares how to go about buying a home from a builder.
  • There are many facets to the sale of a home and closings may be delayed.  What can cause a delay in closing and how can you get past it?  Paul Sian shares what delays a real estate closing and how to avoid delays.
  • Buying your first home can be a huge undertaking.  Eric Jeanette answers 20 of the most important first-time home buying questions in his latest article.

6 Things A Buyers Agent Can Do For A Buyer That A Listing Agent Can't is provided by Kevin Vitali of EXIT Realty.  Are you looking to buy a home and want an agent that serves rather than sells.... call me at 978-360-0422.

 

 

 

Posted in Home Buying
July 22, 2021

Can I Back Out Of An Accepted Offer On A Home?

After having an offer accepted a home, some homebuyers may wonder if they can back out of the contract to purchase. The reasons a buyer may want to cancel a real estate contract can be quite varied.  In today's hot seller's market buyers often get cold feet wondering if they are overpaying for a house or if the market will crash.

Or maybe they discovered they were caught up in the excitement of buying a home and didn't choose a home that suits their needs.

Maybe, prior to closing your circumstances have changed which makes buying that home a bad decision. 

Whatever the reason, there are homebuyers who want or need to back out of an accepted contract on a home they are about to purchase.

Withdrawing An Offer On A Home

If you have submitted an offer on a home that hasn't been accepted, it is easy to withdraw your offer.  Immediately notify your agent to notify the seller you want to withdraw your offer.

An offer that hasn't been accepted yet, with signatures is not a legal and binding contract.  You certainly have the right to withdraw your offer prior to acceptance with no recourse to you.  Make sure you notify the listing agent or the seller in writing prior to acceptance.

Backing Out Of An Accepted Contract

While withdrawing a contract before it is accepted is easy, canceling a contract to buy a home after it has been accepted adds many layers of complexities.

Before you cancel a real estate contract consult with an attorney.  There can be legal and financial ramifications that are far-reaching and you need to consider all the outcomes carefully before moving forward with backing away from a real estate contract.

Read Your Real Estate Purchase Agreement

Everything will fall back to your offer or real estate purchase and sale agreement that is signed by you and the seller. Your purchase contract will tell you how and when you can back out of a contract and if there will be any recourse to you.

Real Estate Contingencies

Most purchases agreements have some contingencies in them that allow a buyer to back out of a deal and nullify the contract with all deposits returned to the buyer. Contingencies are not a default of a contract and you have agreed with the seller that you can back out of a deal with the seller under certain circumstances.

A contingency in a real estate contract is an if-then scenario.  If something does or does not occur by a certain date it will allow a buyer to notify the seller, nullify the contract and receive all the deposit monies back with no further recourse for the seller.

Make sure you read the contract and understand the contingency.  There will be dates and certain steps for you to exercise a contingency and the steps must be followed to the letter.

Contingencies can be varied, but here are some common contingencies:

  1. Mortgage Contingency-  A mortgage contingency allows you to secure a mortgage by a certain date. 
  2. Home Inspection Contingency- Your home inspection contingency will allow you to perform a home inspection by a certain date that is satisfactory to you.
  3. House to Sell Contingency- This contingency gives you time to close on your house by a certain date for you to have the funds to purchase a new one.

If you use contingencies in your purchase contract to back out of purchasing a home, it is simply a matter of following the steps in your contract to exercise the contingency.

Can I Cancel A Real Estate Contract For Any Reason?

This is where it gets sticky.  The short answer is yes.  You can decide to walk away from a real estate closing at any time.  But depending on the reason, it could cost you.... dearly.

We already talked about contingencies and taking advantage of the contingency to walk away from a purchase and sale agreement on a home with no recourse to you.

But there could be other reasons you decide to walk away from a sales agreement on a home that is not covered by your purchase and sale agreement.  In that case, there will most likely be language in the contract to purchase the home and purchase and sale agreement that spells out what happens if a buyer defaults.

Why Your Home Deposit Is Important To A Seller

Homebuyers often do not understand the importance of the home deposit or good faith deposit they put down on a contract to buy a home. To a seller, it is very important.  In the case of a buyer's default, it is often the only monies available as damages if you default on your contract to purchase.

The deeper you get into the escrow period on a home purchase the greater the damages to a seller.  At some point they have secured other housing (which usually requires deposits) they may have put items in storage, they have hired a mover, etc...

As a home buyer, you, backing out of purchasing their home will cost the home seller money and in some cases, tens of thousands of dollars.

Your Deposits Are At Risk

The amount of your good faith deposit can show you are serious and will work diligently to close on their home.  But in most cases, if you walk away from closing on a home, outside of any contingencies in your contract you are leaving your deposit money on the table for the sellers.

Laws Are State Specific

Again, if you are thinking of walking away from a purchase agreement before closing, consult an attorney in your state.  Real Estate contracts are very state-specific and one state can be very different than another on how a buyer's default is handled.

In Massachusetts where I practice real estate, there is a standard clause addressing a buyers default in the offer to purchase and the purchase and sale contract:

"if buyer defaults in buyer's obligation, the deposit monies tendered as a deposit shall be paid to the seller as liquidated damages and this shall be the seller's sole remedy."

Meaning, if the buyer defaults they are agreeing to the good faith deposit being turned over to the seller for any damages.  The seller is agreeing they accept the deposit as liquidated damages and cannot seek further compensation or sue for specific performance.

In other states like New York, it is possible for a seller to seek liquidated damages or sue for specific performance forcing you to purchase a home.  While it is a difficult route for a seller to pursue, it is possible.

Can A Seller Keep My Deposit?

First, remember you have signed a legal and binding agreement to perform on a contract and you may have cost the seller a significant amount of money.

With that said, sometimes there are unforeseeable situations, like a job loss or medical reason that is preventing you from being able to perform on your contract. Your course of action can include:

  • Consult with an attorney immediately to understand what you agreed to in the contract and if there is a way to retain your deposit. An attorney may be able to negotiate a resolution that both buyer and seller can live with.  Neither party wants to end up in litigation over the deposit money.
  • Appeal to the listing agent or seller.  Be honest about your circumstances.  In a strong real estate market, a seller may have some empathy and release you from the contract and move on to sell the house again.
  • Negotiate a partial release of your deposits, where you get some back deposit money and the seller gets to keep some of the deposit.  This can be effective if there is a large deposit on the table.

If you don't agree to turn over your deposit to the seller, the money will be held in escrow until there is a resolution that both parties agree to. 

As a final thought, if a dispute between you and the seller over the deposit money goes to litigation remember it can get quite costly if you go to court with an attorney.   You did sign a contract and chances are you will have no standing in court.  

It will be an uphill battle to try and retain part or all of your deposit money if you do not perform on a contract outside of agreed-to contingencies.

Summary

Defaulting on a real estate purchase and sale is a serious matter.  Your contract is an enforceable contract in the courts.

Before entering into a contract on a home, make sure you are serious about buying and there isn't a hint of a possibility you can't close on your transaction.

Read your contract so you understand what the ramifications for default are and how escrow monies will be handled.  Have a real estate attorney review and negotiate your purchase and sale agreement. 

A competent real estate attorney will negotiate as many contingencies as they can to give you an out.  But in the end, once the contingencies lapse you need to perform on the contract or risk losing your deposit.

 

Can I Back Out Of An Accepted Offer? is provided by Kevin Vitali of EXIT Realty.  If you want a Massachusetts REALTOR that serves rather than sells call Kevin at 978-360-0422.  Kevin will put his 20 years experience to work for you.

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Home Buying
July 7, 2021

What Not To Do After Closing On A Home

woman with chain sawYou spent months looking at homes, went through the mortgage process and finally closed on your new home!!  Now what?  There are plenty of articles on what to do after closing on a home, like changing the locks, forwarding your mail, etc...  But here we are going to discuss what not to do after closing on a home.

7 Things Not To Do After Buying A New Home

It is exciting buying a new home, especially if you are buying your first home.  And, you may want to rush in and make a few changes with your home and your life. Slow it down a bit before making big changes and decisions.

Make Big Changes Right Away

You may have big plans for your new home.  You are going to want to jump right in and make some changes.  Of course, there may be some repairs that you want to do and it is probably a good idea to make those repairs. 

But before you run off and do stylistic changes, especially costly, time-consuming ones, live in your house for a while first.  What you thought you wanted to rush and do right away may wane in time after living in your new home. 

Live in your home for 6 months before you starting tearing down walls, extending the deck, finishing the basement, etc... You may find the desire to do big projects may not be so important after you get used to your new home. Or, you may find projects that have more of a priority for you than you initially thought.

Run Up A Credit Card Buying Furniture

I have clients who immediately open up new credit cards upon closing on a home to fund furnishing their new space.  Often, a new home buyer will experience payment shock.

Payment shock is when your debt load significantly increases in a short period, such as buying a home.  Live with it for a while and see how it impacts your monthly budget before you add to it with a big credit card or loan payment.

Waiting for a few payment cycles will help you get a good picture of what your finances will be on a regular basis.  Maybe, you will find buying a few good pieces of furniture that you need is better on your pocketbook than trying to fill a whole house in one shot.

Or, if you bought an older home that isn't insulated well, you find out your hitting bill is $650 a month in the coldest winter months when you were only budgeting $300 per month.

Buy a New Car

Don't make any huge purchases right away until you have a handle on your monthly budget.  Avoid buying a car, boat, snowmobiles, etc... 

If you are financing your big purchase, again you may want to avoid adding to your monthly debt.  And if you are paying cash think about whether you want to eat up your cash reserves in case of a large emergency repair.  A new furnace could run $5-10K a new roof $6-12k.

You can live without the new car, but a roof that is leaking can snowball into a financial disaster quickly.

Get Trendy With Your Decor

Avoid trendy design choices that are short-lived.  When you are bombarded with home reality shows, it comes with a lot of trendy ideas. And, the temptation with a new house is to jump right in and try them all!

Many design trends become short-lived fads while others may have staying power.

Remember tile countertops? Very fashionable in the early to mid 80's.... until you had dirty grout and chipped tile edges, plus the trendy styles and colors that were short-lived.  Or what about sponge walls of the '90s.  While sponge walls arent very expensive they were very time-consuming.

Stick with decor that has proven to be a bit more timeless.  It will save you time and money down the road.

Finish Your Basement

Finishing your basement can add some great living space to your home.  And is a very popular home renovation.

But if you bought a home with an unfinished basement, live in it for one full season.  See if there are water issues that you need to deal with first. 

You may have a basement that is dry all year except every spring you get puddling while the snow is melting.  Your new carpet may be destroyed along with the lower portion of your drywall wicking water and creating a mold issue.

There is nothing worse than spending 10's of thousands of dollars on a beautiful basement remodel to have it destroyed during the first snowmelt.

Fail to Explore Your Surroundings

Buying a home also means buying into a community.  Explore your surroundings and meet your neighbors.  Invest in your community by becoming involved, frequenting the shops and local restaurants.

And by meeting your neighbors you might find some new friends or someone to water your outdoor plants when you are away for a week.

Ignore The Basics of Owning A Home And Not Maintaining Your Home

Do you know where the main shut-off for your water or electrical is in your home? Or how to change your air filter in your furnace?  Knowing some home basics can go a long way in an emergency or in preventing costly repairs down the road.

A clogged air filter to your furnace can increase utility costs and potentially, cause early failure of your furnace by overworking the system.  This can be prevented by periodically changing an air filter that can cost as little as a few dollars. 

Beyond basic working knowledge and simple maintenance of your home, many areas will require more extensive maintenance and updating.

A home's exterior with wood clapboard will require painting every 5-7 years, a roof has a life expectancy of 20-30 years, a furnace has a life expectancy of 15-20 years.  The list goes on.

Regularly maintaining your home will save you time money and aggravation.  And, when it comes time to sell a well-maintained home will sell quicker and for more money.

Summary

Sit tight for 6 months before making any big changes to your new home or your finances. 

Let the dust settle for a minimum of 3-6 months.  Learn about your house and find out if some major repairs need to be done before you jump into other projects that might not be as important.

You have years to complete your vision it doesn't all need to be done in a weekend!!

What Not To Do After Closing On A Home is provided by Kevin Vitali a 20 year veteran of real estate.  If you are looking for an agent that serves rather than sell give me a call at 978-360-0422. 

 

 

 

Posted in Home Buying
June 29, 2021

June 2021 Real Estate Round-up

The start of summer brings us some great June real estate articles to delve into.  Of course, the hot topic in real estate this year is the intensity of the market and how frustrating it is for buyers. And of course, will this hot market end or continue is on many peoples minds.

Our top June articles start with 3 articles addressing some of the challenges the red hot seller's market is bringing to the table.  After Covid-19 we are all ready to get out and live life again.  Break out that beach chair and take a few minutes to peruse these great real estate articles.

June 2021 Real Estate Round Up

What is an Escalation Clause?

An escalation clause is used often in a hot seller's market that we are seeing now in many areas of the country.  The crux of it is you offer a price on the home, but if a buyer has a higher offer you agree to best that offer by a certain amount of money up to a certain purchase price.

As Joe Boylan points out an escalation clause you state that you are willing to outbid a higher offer up to a specific amount.  The clause is only triggered if your original offer price is outbid.

Like everything, there are pros and cons to an escalation clause.  Discuss with your agent if an escalation clause is right for the circumstances.

Appraisal Gap Coverage

An appraisal gap is when an appraisal comes in under the agreed to purchase price and there is a deficiency between the appraisal price and the purchase price.  For example, you agree to a purchase price of $610,000 and the property only appraises for $590,00 leaving a shortage of $20,000.

Kevin Vitali points out the bank will only write a loan up to the appraised value it creates a problem.  In a hot sellers market, a buyer provides what is called appraisal gap coverage.  The buyer will provide cash at closing for the deficiency balance.

Appraisal gap coverage can be risky and you should talk to your agent about the benefits and risk of providing appraisal gap coverage in your offer.

Avoid Appraisal Problems

When there is a heated seller's market, sellers can do their part in avoiding a home that won't appraise for the purchase price.

Appraiser Tom Horn, suggests a seller think twice before unilaterally agreeing to the highest and best offer.  A great offer that can't close because of appraisal problems, might not be a great offer if there is no way the home can close because of appraisal issues.  You and your listing need to have a frank discussion about your home's list price and what your home can possibly appraise for.

Tom also suggests having your home in tip-top showing condition when the appraiser arrives as well as several other suggestions to help your home appraise.

Mortgage Programs You Never Heard Of

Mortgage programs can come in a whole bit of flavors.  While most borrowers can fit into some sort of conforming programs there may be circumstances that make a conforming loan unfavorable.  Luke Skar discusses some very specific niche mortgage programs.

One niche program is the Family Opportunity Loan.  This mortgage program addresses an aging population and the need for adult children to help out their parents.  Typically the most favorable programs are reserved for owner-occupied homes.  But the Family Opportunity Loan gives very favorable terms for someone buying a second home for their parents to live in. 

There are lots of niche mortgage programs and instead of thinking a mortgage may be too difficult to obtain, talk to your local mortgage officer and run your circumstances by them.  There just may be a loan for your exact situation.

Can The Amount Of Your Mortgage Change?

When you secure a mortgage with a 30 year fixed mortgage, mentally you are thinking your mortgage payment will never change.

Paul Sian points out that while the principal and interest for your 30 year fixed may never change, typically there are other things like taxes and insurance included in your mortgage payment.  Taxes and insurance rates go up and your monthly payment will be adjusted accordingly.

When budgeting to buy a new home, be aware that your taxes and insurance will most likely increase on a yearly basis.  Your monthly mortgage payment can change over time.

Home Maintenence That Can Save Your Money In The Long Run

The financial responsibilities of owning a home go far beyond your monthly mortgage payment.  Michelle Gibson provides some information on how regularly maintaining and updating your home can save you money in the long run.

Simple things like periodically changing the air filter in your furnace or switching out tungsten bulbs for LED bulbs while seemingly simple can save you a bundle over ten years in maintenance and utility costs.

Even updating areas of your home can reap huge benefits when it comes time to sell.  Not only will you make more money on the resale, but you also get to enjoy the renovation while you still live in the home.

New Construction Buying Tips

Buying new construction might not always be as easy as you think.  Sharon Paxson provides new construction buying tips in her latest article.

One tip Sharon points out is don't forget a home inspection.  Often builders are hesitant for you to have one but having a home inspector come in on several critical junctures of the building process can save you aggravation down the road.

A second tip is to carefully review the builder's warranty to see what and what isn't covered after you move into your new home.  Don't get caught up in the excitement of buying a new home and ignore the details.

Seller Concessions

Learn what seller concessions are and how to structure an offer with seller-paid closing costs.  While today's red hot real estate market isn't seeing too many buyers asking for seller concessions, like all things, there is a season.  As the market becomes more balanced, buyers asking for seller concessions will rise.

Bill Gasset explains that seller-paid closing costs are by far the most popular seller concession. Costs can include discount points, origination fees, title insurance, appraisal fees, deed recording and more....

Discuss with your agent if the current market conditions can bear negotiating the seller pays closing costs or not.

This round-up of June Real Estate Articles is provided by Kevin Vitali of EXIT Realty.  Looking to buy or sell?  Call Kevin at 978-360-0422

Real Estate Services in the following areas: Northeast Massachusetts, Merrimack Valley, North Shore and Metrowest including the following communities and the surrounding area including Amesbury, Andover, Billerica, Burlington, Chelmsford, Dracut. Georgetown, Groveland, Haverhill, Lawrence, Littleton, Lowell, Melrose, Merrimac, Methuen, Middleton, Newbury, Newburyport, North Andover, North Reading, Reading, Salisbury, Stoneham, Tewksbury, Tyngsborough, Wakefield, West Newbury, Westford

 

 

 

June 18, 2021

Is That Room Really A Bedroom, it doesn't have a closet?

Bedrooms are worth money when buying a selling a home.

Buyers with large families want more bedrooms and a home with 3 or 4 bedrooms and possibly that extra room to be a guest room. And a home with more bedrooms will be worth more money than a home with 2 bedrooms.  Of course, there are diminishing returns on much more than 4 or 5 bedrooms in a home. But, the bedroom count plays a large factor in who will look at a particular home and what a home is worth.

The question becomes, is it required to have a closet in a bedroom? 

Probably, nothing upsets a buyer more to show up for a showing on a house only to find there are one or more rooms without a closet in a bedroom. 

legal definition of a bedroom

Bedroom Definition

What defines a bedroom?

The definition of a bedroom is a little more complex than does the room have a closet.  What defines a bedroom will fall back to state and local building codes.  Most states and cities will follow the International Residential Code or IRC to define what a bedroom must have to meet minimum building codes.

The IRC sets minimum standards for the construction of one and two-family dwellings and is adopted by 49 states and several countries as well.

What Is Required For A Room To Be Called A Bedroom?

First and foremost the IRC is concerned with the safety and health of a bedroom's occupants and not so much with the convenience of a closet. While the code can be quite extensive we will just touch on some of the basics of what makes a bedroom habitable in the eyes of the IRC.

Size

A bedroom must be a minimum of 70 square feet with no one dimension being less than 7 feet.  That would mean a bedroom should be no less than 7x10.  And if the room is occupied by more than one person it must provide 50 feet of floor space per person.

Frankly, by today's standard, a 7x10 ft bedroom would be unacceptable in most home buyers' eyes.

Ceiling Height

Bedrooms must have a minimum ceiling height of at least 7 feet for at least have of the ceiling area.  Often bedrooms added in cape homes or in attics have sloped ceilings.  A minimum ceiling height is required to consider a bedroom habitable.

Many towns also have specific regulations on how much of a room can be under that 7-foot height required by the IRC,

Room Access

A bedroom must have access from the general living area in a home, like a hallway or off a living room.  You can not pass through another bedroom first to gain access to a bedroom or any other room that my be considered private.

Egress

Probably one of the more important criteria is the egress from a room for safety purposes. 

A bedroom is required to have a second form of egress that leads directly to the outside of the home.  That second egress can be in the form of a door or a window that meets certain requirements.  The purpose is the occupants of the bedroom can get out in an emergency and emergency personnel can get in.

If a window is the second form of egress it is required the window is between 24 to 44 inches of the floor with a minimum opening space to get out if the window in an emergency.  The minimum opening for escape should be 20 inches wide by 24 inches high.

Light and Ventilation

A bedroom regardless of whether a window is the second form of egress does require windows.  The window requirements are that a certain amount of light and ventilation is needed to be considered habitable space.

Usually, building codes are looking for the glazing area to be a minimum of 8% of the square footage of the floor dimensions with 4% of the glazing area to be opened for the circulation of fresh air.

Heat

A room that is considered a bedroom must be able to maintain a minimum temperature of 68 degrees throughout the year.

Electrical

Two electrical outlets or one electrical outlet and overhead lights are required to meet the minimum standards for a bedroom.

Massachusetts Specific Requirements For A Bedroom

States and cities can go above and beyond the IRC for bedroom requirements. The IRC is only to set a minimum standard but your state and town can put more restrictive codes in place.

Septic

Here in Massachusetts, we have strict septic requirements.  Homes that are on septic systems rather than town sewer are approved for a certain number of bedrooms.  You cannot have four bedrooms on a three-bedroom septic design.

Smoke and CO Detectors

Massachusetts does have requirements for smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and alarms for a bedroom.

Requirements for the type of alarm and placement in Massachusetts is dictated by the age of the homes.  Homes built today must have a smoke and carbon monoxide alarm hardwired and interconnected in each bedroom of a home.

Does A Bedroom Have To Have A Closet?

Though many will be shocked to find out the answer is no, many state or municipal codes do not require a bedroom to have a closet. 

Though you should check with your town specific codes may require a closet in bedrooms in newer building codes.  Building codes are more concerned with the safety and well-being of a bedroom's occupants than they are for convenience.

Does a bedroom have to have a closet?

The Practicality Of A Closet In A Bedroom

While many older homes may not have closets in a bedroom, modern buyers expect a bedroom to have a closet.

I can't tell you how many times a buyer shows up to a home with a bedroom without a closet and gets angry and says a bedroom legally has to have a closet.

As a home seller do not rush to find any old room to be a bedroom. Especially if it doesn't make sense.  Buyers don't want a bedroom in a converted porch off a kitchen or a bedroom in the basement with no windows and a closet.

If you truly have a bedroom with no closet it may be a smart idea to disclose that in your real estate listing

When your listing your home for sale be realistic about what is truly a bedroom and what is not. Both from the standpoint of legal issues and misleading a buyer.

Legal Issues

One thing to bear in mind is if you call out a room as a bedroom and god forbid something should happen like someone being hurt in a fire because there was not proper egress a buyer could pursue a legal claim against you.

While these types of suits are unlikely if you promote your home a certain way it could fall back on you. Work with your agent to get the bedroom counts right on your real estate listing.

Other Issues

Again while rare, I have had a client's home's occupancy permit revoked for not meeting requirements upon a fire inspection that is required in Massachusetts for a home sale. 

While the situation was resolved by removing anything in a room that made it look like a bedroom it was a major hassle and my seller almost lost a buyer over it days before closing.

infographic of what the legal requirements of a bedroom are and whether it needs a closet

 

What To Call An Extra Room That Might Not Fit The Definition Of A Legal Bedroom?

As a home seller, you may have been using a room as a bedroom that does not qualify as a bedroom.  So how do you call out that room?

Some buyers certainly want that "flex" room that can be used as an office, den, gym, playroom, craft room etc...

Work with your listing agent to define that extra room that will appeal to as many home buyers as possible.  The appeal can be very regionally specific.  Right now after the aftermath of Covid-19 many home buyers are looking for that extra room that can be used as an office.

Presenting Your Bedroom In Its Best Light

Because bedrooms can be so valuable you want to show off your bedroom's potential. Here are some tips that can make you buyers fall in love with your bedrooms.

  • Make your bedrooms look like a bedroom.  Some sellers have that spare bedroom that becomes a catch-all room with no actual bed in it.  If you have a room that should be a bedroom show it off as a bedroom
  • Edit the room to make it spacious and have a good flow.  A bedroom doesn't need much to define it as a bedroom.  It needs a bed, a nightstand and a dresser.  That's about it.  Make sure you leave enough space to comfortably navigate the bedroom.  Often for convenience, we stuff dresser and other furniture in a small bedroom to make storage more convenient.  Remember how you live in a home is very different than how you show a home.
  • No headboard?  Buy some pillows so you can create a headboard with pillows instead of just a bare wall.
  • Organize your closets.  Get rid of the items you aren't using and store away out-of-season clothes.  Show the buyers you have plenty of bedroom storage.
  • Light it up.  Make sure during showings all windows and drapes are open and blinds are up.  Don't make it look cavernous if possible.
  • Declutter all surfaces.  No one wants to see your nightstand or dresser cluttered with personal items.
  • Keep it gender-neutral.  Choose neutral colors that can work for any gender.

Summary

Bedrooms are an important part of a homebuyers wants and need list.  As a seller and your want to make more money don't mislead a buyer into thinking there are more bedrooms than there really are, it just alienates the buyer when they actually show up.

Like any home renovation where you are trying to improve the value of your home, check with the local building codes to make sure your bedroom addition or conversion meets the local building codes of a bedroom.

At the end of the day, a bedroom does not need to have a closet to be a bedroom, but there are definitely some safety requirements to make it a legal bedroom.  Does that include a closet....no!

 

Is That Room Really A Bedroom, it doesn't have a closet? is provided by Kevin Vitali of EXIT Realty.  If you are looking for an exceptional buyer's agent or an outstanding listing agent in Essex County or Northern Middlesex County in Massachusetts call me at 978-360-0422.  I will put my 20 years of experience and success to work for you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

June 2, 2021

Should You Use A Relative or Friend As Your Real Estate Agent?

The spring real estate market is in full force.  Buyers are swarming open houses and sellers are reaping the benefits.  And maybe you want to jump into the market either as a home buyer or home seller.  Maybe you have a best friend or a family member who is an agent that you are thinking of calling.

It begs the question, should you hire a friend or family member as your real estate agent?

Picking up the phone and calling that friend or aunt that is in the real estate business may be the easiest route to take.

But there may be reasons it is not a good idea to hire a friend or family member as your agent.

They Will Know Your Business 

Do you want someone you know who is in some of the circles you are in to know your business?

Buying or selling a home can involve personal information you may not want others to know.  You could be having financial troubles that are forcing a sale, going through a divorce, your credit score may not be the best or you will be revealing how much money you have in the bank or how much money you made on the sale of your home.

Whatever the circumstances are your real estate agent can have access to some pretty sensitive information. 

They Might Not Be Local

Just because your friend holds a real estate license does not mean they are the best person for the job.  Often a buyer or seller will hire a friend or family member as their agent from way outside the area. 

Real Estate is very local and you want an agent that knows what is going on locally.  Or an agent that knows school systems or can help you choose the best neighborhood for your family.

It is best to hire an agent that has knowledge of your local real estate market.  On top of it if they are an hour and a half away can they really give you the time you need?

They Might Not Have The Expertise

First and foremost you want an agent that is experienced.  Maybe your cousin Johnny just got his license and you're his first client.  Or Aunt Mary hasn't listed a home in five years but she is willing to do it for you. Or your friend is just part-time in the business.  If you are a first time home buyer, you definitely need an agent with the experience to guide you through the process.

Real estate is dynamic.  How I did business 5 years ago is very different than how I do it today. And experience matters you want an agent who actively engages in real estate full-time every day. 

Also, you may be looking for something in a specialized niche like the sale of land.  That requires a specific knowledge that not every agent will handle.  Just because a person holds a real estate license it does not mean they are skilled in all aspects of real estate.

Buying And Selling Can Be Emotionally Charged

If you are buying or selling a home, you have a lot at stake.  Not only financially but this is your home. Tensions and emotions can certainly run high. And when that happens it can put a strain on any client/ agent relationship. 

Do you want to put a strain on your relationship with your friend or relative? Remember you relationship extends past just a business relationship. It is easier to end that real estate relationship with someone you don't know than a close friend or relative.

What if things go bad?  Will it destroy a good relationship?

Will You Be Willing To End The Client Relationship?

What if things aren't working out as you expected, will you be able to end the working relationship?

As I already pointed put you have a lot of money at stake and emotions can run high and buying or selling a home can be challenging at times.  If the agency relationship isn't working for you will you be willing to either give honest input on how it needs to change or end the relationship?

It may be harder than you think when a friend or relative is involved for you to be upfront and honest. You may not want to hurt their feelings. You need to decide if the familial relationship can survive the business relationship if things aren't going so well.

Relationships Extend Past Just The Person

If things do get strained with your relative or friend during the transaction, remember if they are close, that relationship can sometimes have blurred lines with other family members or your circle of friends.

And, it goes both ways it's not just your friend or relative. 

But you could share your frustration with your mom and it gets back to Aunt Kathy who is agent Johnny's mother.  Feelings get hurt, people get defensive...Next thing you know you have a family feud going on!! 

Won't Christmas at grandma's be fun!

Objectivity May Get Lost

One reason you work with an agent to represent you is to have an objective opinion.  A real estate agent that doesn't know you personally and is not emotionally invested in the outcome can step back and look at your situation objectively and give you an honest opinion.

Someone who knows you well may get caught up in the process with you and not maintain objectivity.  Or worse yet Aunt Mary may think she knows what you want or needs better than you do!! 

Of course, you want an agent that acts in your best interest.  But will that family friend or family member be willing to tell you, you have unrealistic expectations?  Or you need to clean up your yard and mow the lawn if you want to sell your home?

Sometimes representing a client's best interest includes giving them some harsh realities.

A friend or family member who knows you well can inadvertently bring a biased perspective into the buying or selling process.  Or could be afraid to hurt your feelings with the truth.

So Should Your Hire A Friend Or Family Member As Your REALTOR?

Whether you decide to hire a relative or friend as your real estate agent is a personal decision.  There is no right or wrong decision.

Carefully consider whether hiring a friend as your real estate agent is the best move.  Make sure your relationship can survive a business transaction

Before pulling the trigger on hiring any agent it will be in your best interest to interview several agents to get an idea of their experience and what you should expect.  You have too much at stake to hire just anyone.  In the end, you may decide that your friend may be the best person for the job.  And that's ok.

If you do decide to work with a friend or family member as your agent, sit down and discuss what is expected and lay out how the business relationship will work.  My last bit of advice is to agree to have an exit strategy if the business relationship is not working as planned.

____________________________________________________________________________

Should You Use A Relative or Friend As Your Real Estate Agent? is provided by Kevin Vitali of EXIT Realty.

Kevin provides Real Estate Services in the following areas: Northeast Massachusetts, Merrimack Valley, North Shore and Metrowest including the following communities and the surrounding area including Amesbury, Andover, Billerica, Burlington, Chelmsford, Dracut. Georgetown, Groveland, Haverhill, Lawrence, Littleton, Lowell, Melrose, Merrimac, Methuen, Middleton, Newbury, Newburyport, North Andover, North Reading, Reading, Salisbury, Stoneham, Tewksbury, Tyngsborough, Wakefield, West Newbury, Westford

 

 

 

 

May 11, 2021

Contingent, Active Under Contract vs Pending or Underagreemnt What Does It Mean?

Being a home buyer is tough right now. And homes for sale are very in limited supply. Depending on the state you are in you can run into several different Multiple Listing Service statuses.... active under contract vs pending vs contingent vs under agreement. What does it all mean?

As potential buyers, you jump from real estate website to real estate website looking for the home of your dreams. It is quite possible you will find homes that you think are for sale that actually may not be as readily available as you first expected.

It all has to do with the Multiple Listing Service or MLS status. Having an understanding of the different listing statuses will help you find a new home. and potentially prevent chasing a home that is really open to offers.

Realize different states will have slightly different names for the different statuses available.

 

Active under contract vs pending

 

Active Status

An active listing is pretty universal across most local MLS boards. Active (ACT) indicates that a property is "actively" for sale. There are no contracts on the home and the home seller and the listing agent is seeking offers on the home.

 

Active Under Contract or Contingent

The active under contract, active contingent or contingent listing can be some of the more confusing MLS statuses. It indicates the home is actively for sale.

But here's the rub.  The contingent or active under contract listing indicates the home has an accepted offer already on the property. The home seller and the listing broker have decided to leave the property as showing active hoping to secure a backup offer or additional offers should the contract status change with the original prospective buyers.

A short sale, where a seller is awaiting the bank to approve an offer is a commonly left as active under contract or contingent until the bank approves the sale.

The Massachusetts MLS shows this status as Contingent.

A real estate transaction can fall apart for a number of reasons mostly due to common contingencies found in a real estate contract. You have a mortgage contingency, a home inspection contingency, an appraisal contingency, a home inspection contingency or a home sale contingency. Any of these contingencies can be a reason a prospective buyer could walk away from a contractual agreement.

The contingent status can be confusing for homebuyers because they may appear active on many real estate websites.

In hot real estate markets with a limited inventory much of the MLS will be filled with contingent, pending or active under contract homes. Have your buyer's agent call the listing agent and see if the seller will actually show the home for back-up offers and the likeliness of an offer failing. But realize the chances of the original buyer's offer from falling apart is slim.

 

Under Agreement or Pending

The under agreement status means there is an accepted contract and pending sale on the home and the sellers are no longer showing the home. They are just waiting for the home to go through the closing process until the paperwork is signed and the home is sold.

The Difference Between Active Under Contract Vs Pending

The difference between the active under contract vs pending status is slight.

Active under contract has an accepted offer and they are indicating tho the public that they may be willing to show the home to secure a back up offer. The offer will be strictly in case the accepted offer fails to perform. Realize you cannot bump the accepted offer until that first contract is nullified. An active under contract listing will not be made readily available for you to see.

Pending or contingent is where an offer is accepted and a seller is not willing to show the property anymore. They are just in escrow waiting for the home to close.

Kickout

There is another contingent status with a slightly different twist. It is a property that has an accepted offer but because of a contingency, they have a kick-out clause in the contract. The most likely contingency would be a house to sell contingency. The kickout clause states that if a home seller receives another acceptable offer the original offerer has 24-48 hours to remove the contingency or the contract is null and void and the seller is free to accept another contract from an interested buyer.

 

Other Massachusetts MLS Statuses

You may find MLS listing with the following statuses as well. It is broken down into two categories. Active listings, meaning they should be available for sale or off-market listings which indicate that the home is no longer being actively marketed in the MLS,

 

Active Listing Statuses

Any of the active listing statuses indicate a home is available to show and is accepting offers.

New (NEW)- If you see the new status it indicates the listing is less than 4 days old on the MLS.

Back on Market (BOM)- This status indicates a listing was taken off the market as contingent, pending or under agreement but for any number of reasons the contract fell apart and the home is now active again.

Price Change (PCG)- The price change status indicates that a home has had a price change in the last 4 days.

Extended (EXT)- This status shows that the original listing agreement has been extended past the original end date.

Reactivated (RAC)- Reactivated shows a listing came out of an off-market status like withdrawn or expired.

Off Market Listing Statuses

Temporarily Withdrawn (WDN)- Withdrawn is where a seller decides to remove their property from the market for a variety of reasons. They have decided not to sell their home, a family emergency or take time to do some repairs may be common reasons for a seller to withdraw their property from the market. Whatever reason may be the seller still has a contract to sell with the listing agency.

Cancelled (CAN)- Similar to withdrawn the property has been taken off the market, but the difference is the listing contract on the property is canceled.

Expired (EXP)- The listing contract has expired and the home has been on the market unsold. The seller may decide to reactivate the listing contract or keep the home off the market.

Active properties that are not contingent are the homes that are available to home buyers. But that is not to say if you see a home that you really think you would like but is not showing an active status may not be available. In my experience even if a home is showing as contingent sellers don't want the hassle of showing the property. Discuss with your agent if it is worth reaching out to see the property. Your buyer's agent could call the listing agent and get some inside information to see if it is worth taking a look.

If a property is recently off-market, it may be worth having your agent make a call and see if there is still an interest on the seller's part to sell the home. While it is probably a long shot it certainly could be worth a try.

Other Real Estate Resources:

Contingent, Active Under Contract vs Pending or Underagreemnt What Does It Mean? is provided by Kevin Vitali of EXIT Realty.  If you are looking to buy or sell a home in Essex or Northern Middlesex Counties in Massachusetts call Kevin at 978-360-0422

Posted in Home Buying
April 13, 2021

Why "Neutral Colors" When Selling A Home?

Preparing your home is a critical component when it comes time to sell and you want to achieve top dollar.  From improving curb appeal to doing smaller repairs and refreshing a home, you want to create a lasting, positive impression for your home buyers.  One part of preparing your home is freshening up paint or a new paint job.  And you often hear real estate agents talk about neutral colors and neutral decor.

Why are neutral colors important when staging a home?

Let's delve into why neutral paint colors and decor are important for selling your home and why agents recommend using neutral paint colors and decor when prepping your home.  If there are areas of your home that need a touch-up or entire areas that need a new coat of wall paint, work with your REALTOR and choose the right wall colors.

What Is A Neutral Color?

In the strictest sense, a neutral color is a hue that lacks color.  Whites, greys, browns and blacks are all neutral paint colors.  Neutral colors do not clash with primary or secondary colors and will compliment them.

When it comes to a home's wall colors, years ago white or off whites reigned supreme as the go-to wall color when getting your home ready for sale. 

Then beige paint which morphed to taupe paint became the go-to neutral paint color for a home's walls.  In the past few years, greys have been all the rage and now in 2021 "greige" is the go-to neutral paint color consumers are trending towards.

What Is Greige?

Greige is a mix of grey and beige and is a greyish neutral color with warmer undertones.  It complements both cool and warm colors.   And, greige is still considered neutral and will accompany almost any color scheme.

Greige is the new neutral of 2021

Why Use Neutral Colors When Painting Walls In Your Home?

When it comes time to sell you want to take out any "personality" that is very unique to you.  You want your home buyers to take ownership of your home while on a personal showing. Bold color choices for wall paint can be a very personal decision.

A highly personalized, bold color could turn off a buyer.  They may even go far as to hate the color, like a deep red in a dining room or strong yellow in a bedroom.  A bold color can limit the color scheme of a room's decor.  A neutral color scheme will have a much broader appeal to your buyers.

Rooms painted with a neutral wall color gives the room more versatility when a buyer is bringing their belongings to make your home their home.

Instead of looking at a deep, personalized color and thinking their current furniture and decor won't work, a neutral paint color gives the buyer possibilities of working their style into the room.  Instead of hating a color and/or thinking they have to take the time to repaint or buy new furniture, they can see themselves in the home as-is.

If you allow them to take ownership of a home they are thinking of how it can all fall together instead of thinking negatively about areas of your home and how much time and expense they have ahead of them to make it work.

Let your buyers put their energies into how easy they can work your home into their life rather than how they have to alter a home and the expense and time that is needed to make it work.

You don't want a buyer focusing on your personal choices instead of the home itself.

In the photo below, the blue room, as well as the decor, is bold.  Too bold for most people's liking.  You will leave the buyer wondering how and if they can work their decor into the room.

Most buyers will not be that bold with color and the deep blue walls leave few options to decorate the room with their current decor.

The other photo is very neutral.  A neutral wall color is not pigeonholing the buyer into a particular color scheme.  They can work in any color decor they want.  And if they want some bold color they can bring it in with throw blankets, pillow, artwork, accent pieces etc...

The grey will appeal to far more buyers and not distract them from looking at the full potential of a room.

Neutral paint colors in a living room

What Is a Buyers Takeaway?

After working with buyers for 20 years, it is never good when you talk about a home after a showing and all they remember is ..... "was that the house with the horrible brown walls?"

If that is all a home buyer remembers about the house that doesn't bode well for you.  You want them to identify your house with positive thoughts like "the house with the bright kitchen and great breakfast bar"  or "the home with an open floor plan".

They Can Change It When They Move In

Many home buyers lack vision, it is always best if you show a buyer the finished result rather than tell them.  Many buyers will just think they are stuck with it the way it is or thinks about how much work it will be to change it if you can even get them to look past the current colors and decor.

With the bedroom scene below, both the wall color and most of the decor are neutral.  A little pop of color is brought in from accent items like the throw pillow the artwork, the painted box and the nightstand by the window.  The choice of wall color and floor do not define the color scheme of the room. 

A buyer can work any color scheme into this bedroom... they aren't distracted by personal decor choices or, forced into a color scheme and best of all you are giving them a clean slate to envision their belongings in your home.

 

Neutral colored walls with Neutral decor with a pop of color

Neutral Colors Tend To Be Timeless

Decor choices trend and that includes interior paint colors. 20+ years ago a deep red was in especially for dining rooms.  Or mauve was a popular color choice back in the '80s or olive green in the '70s But on the whole, those colors are no longer in vogue and can make a house look dated. 

Trends may seem like a good idea at the time, but many trends have a short shelf life.  When using trendy decor realize a trend can quickly become a fad with no staying power.  It can be a gamble.

On the other hand, neutrals tend to be timeless.  Many of the more muted, neutral colors that were popular from 20 or 30 years ago, would still work in a home today. 

Even if you think you are in your forever home things change.  Staying away from trendy color choices will give a broad appeal to home buyers for a long time to come.  And. it is always important to keep resale value in the back of your mind.

Neutral Paint Color Don't Need To Be Boring

Bleck....white, black, brown, grey sounds kind of boring! In reality, many neutrals can have underlying color tones.  But those undertones are can be very subtle or a distinct color softly muted or lacking deep saturation. 

Today, neutral colors can cover a wide variety of muted colors blues, greens, etc..... Soft, muted blues and greens are now considered by many to be part of a neutral color palette.  But any color can be used like a neutral if it is soft and unsaturated consider a soft, chalky yellow or a red with lots of black and grey in it.

Using Neutral Paint Colors For Your Walls

You may think neutral paint...  what difference does it matter what you choose for a color?

Neutral paint colors can be very complex and you should try a paint sample before painting an entire wall because of underlying color tones.  Try using a paint sample first on a section of your wall first.

What you thought had a slight bluish tone in the paint store could look slightly magenta or green when you get it on your walls.  Because the color undertones are subtle in a neutral color, lighting, decor and flooring in your home can drastically alter the color.

Neutral Decor

Neutralizing your home's decor starts with choosing neutral wall colors and carrying them over into the decor of the home.  You can add a little color pop with accent items if need be.

Keeping your decor to the neutral side will help a homebuyer focus on the home rather than your personal items.

Thinking neutral will:

  • keep a timeless decor that won't look outdated.
  • be versatile when decorating a room.
  • have a broader appeal for home buyers.
  • allow buyers to focus on the features and benefits of your home not design choices.
  • makes a house turn key.

Making bold, trendy, highly personal color choices:

  • can look outdated quickly.
  • have home buyers focus on your decor choices rather than the home.
  • leave buyers thinking they can't work their current decor work in your home.
  • be a turn-off.
  • leave buyers thinking about the time energy and expense of painting after moving in.

Talk with your REALTOR or home stager about what rooms may need to have a paint job with a neutral color choice.  Always think about your money rooms first... the kitchen, baths, living rooms and master bedrooms.  Prioritize what areas should be repainted and what areas can be left alone.

 

 

 

Posted in Selling A Home