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

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.

I reached out to Michelle Gibson a Wellington FL real estate agent, who explained Florida is similar to Massachusetts where the deposits tendered are the sole remedy for a buyer defaulting on a contract.

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
March 19, 2021

How To Be Competitive When There Are Multiple Offers On A House

How to be competitive when there are multiple offers on a houseThe 2021 real estate market is much of the same as 2020 here in Massachusetts.  Inventory is low, mortgage rates are at historical lows and buyers want to buy.  All of which is creating a market that is ripe for multiple offers on a house. 

As a matter of fact, if you run into a good house, you can pretty much guarantee that there will be multiple offers on that home.  The time it takes for a home to accept an offer is very low.  Here in Essex County homes for sale have been accepting in offer in 23 days on average and have been going 2% over asking.

In the 20 years, I have been in real estate I have not seen such a hot seller's market.

This is great for sellers but can be extremely nerve-wracking for home buyers.  Navigating the market as a buyer can be tough!

Let's take a look at some strategies when bidding on a home with multiple offers.

Be The Winner On A House With Multiple Offers

Of course, a seller is concerned about getting the most amount of money for a home that they can.  But there are other areas of a home sale a seller is concerned with.

No amount of money matters if the sale doesn't close.  Sellers want to minimize their risk and be confident the sale of their home will happen in a timely manner, as spelled out in the contract.  Offers that are not dependant on mortgage financing and removes a home inspection contingency eliminates almost all of the risk for a seller and makes for an attractive offer.

And finally, they want to close on their terms.  They may have a specific timeframe in which they want the house to close or some other terms that might be important to them.

Getting Your Mindset Right

First, it is important to get your mindset right.  Understand that in 2021 you are competing with dozens of other homebuyers to secure a good home.  You can pretty much expect a good home you see today will be under agreement in a few days. There is also a good chance that the home will go over the asking price.

Your real estate agent representing you as a buyer's agent can provide you market data to help you set realistic expectations.  It starts with knowing the market you are in and where the market is headed.

Am I Overpaying For A House If I Offer Over Asking?

Often a buyer is hesitant to offer over asking on a home.  But fair market value is determined by what a home seller is willing to accept and what a buyer is willing to pay. 

Multiple offers show there are a bunch of buyers right behind you willing to pay close to what you are willing to pay for a home. 

Do you think it is better to buy a house that has been sitting on the market for 4 months and you can get $20,000 under asking with no competing offers? Clearly, no one else wants that house.

So in the case of multiple offers market value is established by you and a slew of other buyers.

Don't Think You Can Negotiate

If you know there are going to be a large number of offers on a home, don't think you can negotiate.  The uninitiated buyer will often think they will be given the chance to negotiate.

But think like the seller.  If you were a seller and had 8 good, clean offers over asking and one under asking with a ton of terms, why would you even want to try and negotiate.  It shows you are not serious.  Come in with your final and best offer,

Focus Your Home Search On Lower Priced Homes

If you are pre-approved for a certain amount, search for lower-priced homes.  This gives you wiggle room to offer over asking and not go over your budget. 

Focus your search at $15000 to $20,000 under the amount you want to spend on a home.  You will be able to offer over asking a compete with other buyers on the homes you want.

how to compete when there are multiple offers on a home

How Do You Know There Are Multiple Offers On A House?

The first question to ask is, will there be multiple offers?

Look at the buyer activity of the home. Are the open houses packed?  Were there other showings going on during yours?  Lots of activity indicates lots of interest.

But if you should decide to pull the trigger on an offer.  Have your agent call the listing agent and ask if they have received offers and how many.  I have had as many as 33 offers on one home. 

If you are expecting more than a couple of offers on a home you want to purchase, then game on!

Find Out What Is Important To The Seller

When the agent calls to find out if there are multiple offers, have them ask when the seller would like to close.  I always ask the listing agent if there is anything else important to the seller.

Maybe they don't want to worry about a home inspection. So you can remove the home inspection contingency or put a limit on repair values like you won't ask for any repairs that total less than $5,000 dollars.

or they haven't found a house to move to yet.... maybe you can structure an offer that gives them time to find a new house.

Give the seller what they want and it just may strengthen your offer.  Let the seller know you can be flexible.

Get Your Financial House in Order

Get a strong pre-approval or if you are paying cash get proof of funds together. You will have to act fast and you don't have time to hesitate to get financed. Your finances should be squared away before you even look at homes. 

Home inspections and financing are two pieces of the home buying process where a transaction can fall apart. Help the seller feel confident in your financing by getting a solid pre-approval.   If you have secure financing and let your seller know, you can compete with a cash offer.

Sell Your House First

If you own a home and need to sell that to be able to afford a new home, sell your current home first and put cash in the bank. 

In a red hot seller's market, sellers can pick and choose the best offers.  And, they certainly are not going to choose an offer with a house to sell contingency.  A house-to-sell contingency adds a layer of risk that other offers won't have.

Pay Cash

If at all possible, pay cash for the house.  If a home has a fair amount of offers you will find one or more of them will be cash. 

Cash removes a certain level of risk of the transaction not closing. It removes the unknown of a buyer getting financed by a bank.  Sellers love cash.  If there is any way you can pay cash go for it.

Include an Escalation Clause

If you are hesitant to put an offer and not sure how much over asking you should offer, consider an escalation clause.  An escalation clause can keep you in the game without worrying about offering way more than you have to.

Escalation clauses state you are offering $X amount but if the seller receives a higher offer you are willing to pay $X amount over the next higher offer. And, you put a cap on how high you are willing to go.

Keep Your Offer Clean

Don't be asking for repairs or personal items upfront.  Keep your offer as clean as possible. Convoluted offers will just get tossed aside.  Especially when the seller has the option to say "next, please".

Remove Your Home Inspection Contingency

The home inspection contingency is a huge area of concern for the seller.  It allows a buyer to back out or renegotiate a deal after the terms have been set. 

Realize you will be competing with buyers willing to remove the home inspection contingency.  Consider being one of those buyers.

Limit Your Home Inspection

Entirely removing your home inspection contingency may be scary.  But consider adding an addendum saying that you will not request any non-cosmetic repairs costing in excess of a certain dollar amount. 

This could help you have a competitive edge over other offers and could help you compete with offers that have removed the home inspection contingency.

Don't Make Your Offer Contingent On The Home Appraising

In a multiple offer situation, you may find a home pushing past what a bank may appraise it for.  You may not be able to pay cash, but you can make the home sale not contingent on the home appraising.

Just make sure you can cover the delta between the purchase price and the appraised price if the appraisal comes in low.

Offer A Higher Home Deposit

Typically a buyer will offer 3-5% as an earnest money deposit when making an offer.  Consider offering more. 

I had a cash buyer put the entire purchase price in escrow minus 10 dollars.  Now if that didn't catch the seller's attention!! 

I was told by the listing agent that the seller had slightly higher cash offers but they went with my buyer because my buyer caught their attention with such a large deposit.

Write A "Love Letter"

Write the sellers a letter telling them about you and why you love their home.  Don't forget some sellers have lived in their home a long time and have raised a family in that home. 

You may just be able to connect with them on an emotional level and help your offer stand out.

Summary

Think about it, the seller is taking a risk when they remove their home from the market for a buyer.  Often they have spent money to purchase their next home, line up movers, etc... They have a lot at stake. And, having to put a house back on the market after a deal fell through is never easy.

Of course, a seller isn't going to give their house away.  The purchase price is important.

But they want to feel secure in the fact their house will sell in a timely manner with no hassles.  The more confidant you can make them feel the better.

Don't be afraid to compete when there are multiple offers on a house.  Put your best foot forward.

At the same time, some of these strategies are risky for home buyers.  You should always talk with your buyer's agent about what strategies to employ and which ones may or may not be right for you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Home Buying
March 15, 2021

Haverhill MA Condo For Sale- 13 Hamel Way

Attention!! Home cannot be found on Zillow, Redfin, REALTOR.com or the MLS!! Call Kevin Vitali- 978-360-0422 for your special.early access to this unit.

Priced at $375,000

13 Hamill Way, Haverhill MA 01832

1756 square feet, 2 Bedroom, 2.5 Bath

Taxes-  $4210.75

Condo Fee-  $

Location

13 Hamel Way a townhouse for sale located in Haverhill MA.  Hamel Way is part of the Carringe Estates Condominium Complex set off Kinsbury Street, behing the old Bradford College.  Bradford, is considered by many to be the most desirable area of Haverhill. The location gives great access to Routes 495, 95 and 125.

Living in Bradfrod puts you in close proximity to the shops and restuarants of downtown Haverhill and plenty of the basic shopping needs in Plaistow NH as well as shopping in tax free Salem NH.

 

Carrington Estates

Carrington Estates is a condominium complex that was started over 10 years ago with many different phases being built up to the recent past.  The complex is home to many upscale townhouses and stand alone condominium units and is highly sought after.

The Unit

Walk through the entrance of 13 Hamel Way and find yourself in an open concept living area.  There is a small covered porch at the entrance as you walk into a small foyer area.  And imeediately to your right find yourself in the living room which flows to a breakfast bar into the kitchen.

13 Hamel was completed in 2019 and presnets it self as nearly new!  Nothing needs to be done to this beauttiful town house unit.

 

The living room is 19x16and features a big baywindow and ceramic plank flooring which carries throughout the entire first floor living area.

ceramic plank flooring- Bradford MA Condo for sale

The kitchen is completely open to the living room and is approx. 12x9.  The ceramic plank flooring continues through the kitchen and features stainless appliance and a granite counter top.  The breakfast bar easily accomodates 3 people.

breakfast bar leads to kitchen in Haverhill MA Condo for sale

cabinet finish in Haverhill MA Condo

granite top

A coat closet faces you as you enter the foyer and along the left side of the main living area you will find a half bath with a pantry closet.

Past the kitchen continues a long hallway that brings you to the rear door.  The hallway has a staircase that leads to the upstairs, access to the garage and 2 large closets for storage.

The second floor brings you to a full bath and a large second bedroom 18x11 with a 10x5 walk in closet.

2nd floor full bath

18x11 second bedroom

Down the hall way towards the Master bedroom find a very large laundry room and a linen closet.

The Master Bedroom is 19x15 and has its own master bath and a 9x5 walk in closet.  Also find a small covered deck off the Master.

Floor Plans

 

Floor plans haverhill ma condos for sale

Video For 13 Hamel Way, Haverhill MA 01835

Posted in Homes for Sale
Feb. 6, 2021

What Are Closing Costs?

what are closing costs- surprise!!

Surprises are for birthdays... not real estate closings!!

If you have never bought or sold a house before you may find...

.... as a home buyer you have to pay mortgage closing costs on top of the down payment you already scraped together....

....or you are selling your home and you find that you have closing cost after your real estate commission eating into your net proceeds.

Either way closing costs can be a tough pill to swallow. Calculating closing costs upfront will allow you to budget and be prepared so there are no last-minute surprises, leaving you scrambling around to find more money.

We will be discussing closing costs in Massachusetts.  Realize closing costs can vary slightly from state to state.  Consult with your mortgage officer and agent early and ask specifically what your closing costs will be when you close on a home.

Closing Costs Explained

What are closing costs? Both homebuyers and sellers will incur closing costs during the purchase or sale of a home.

Simply, closing costs are fees for services and expenses that are incurred during the purchase or sale of your home.  Nothing is free! 

Who Pays Closing Costs?

Both buyer and seller have a distinct set of closing costs for the services and expenses of closing on the home.  Typically, in Massachusetts, it is customary for each party to pay their own respective fees.

In some states like New Hampshire, some line-item fees will be split among buyer and seller like tax stamps.

On occasion, a homebuyer may include in their offer to purchase that the sellers pay all or a certain amount of money towards closing costs.  This is a way for a buyer to roll closing costs into their mortgage. But before you can automatically think you can do this, talk to your REALTOR, there are pros and cons of asking a seller to pay their closing costs.

How Much Are Closing Costs?

Closing costs for home buyers are a little more complicated than for home sellers.  And, can widely vary depending on the loan program that they choose.  But closing costs for buyers can run between 2-4% of the home purchase and are on top of any downpayment money.

So for a $400,000 purchase closing costs would typically run from $8000 to $16,0000.

For home sellers closing costs can run between 4% to 9% of the purchase price. On a $400,000 purchase that would have a seller paying anywhere from $2,000 to $6,000 in closing costs on top of their real estate commission. 

What are closing costs? Be prepared for closing

What Are The Closing Costs For Home Buyers?

The list of closing costs for home buyers is many and can vary slightly.  Here I will cover the standard ones that you may see.

Origination Fee

A fee charged by the lender up front and covers all or some of what they get paid to provide the loan. 

Appraisal Fee

Covers the cost of an appraisal of the home you are about to purchase to verify fair market value to a lender.

CPL Fee

The Closing Protection Letter is an indemnification between the Titel Insurance company and the Lender.

Credit Reports

Charges for any credit reports pulled during the mortgage process

Courier Fees

Courier fees cover the cost of sending out your completed loan documents to various parties.

Wire Transfer Fees

Wire transfer fees cover the costs of a lender wiring money to a settlement agent.

Flood Certification

The flood cert is obtained by the lender to see if flood insurance is necessary on the property.

MERS Fees

The MERS Fee is to register your loan with the Mortgage Electronic Registration Service that tracks loans through a database.

Processing Fee

Processing fees cover the cost of processing your documentation during the lending process.

Underwriting Fee

The underwriting fee covers the cost of underwriting evaluating your loan application to see if it fits the guidelines for a particular loan program.

Tax Service Fee

Your tax service fee goes to an agency that tracks your property tax for the mortgage lender.

Prorated Adjustments

Prorated adjustments are prepaid by the seller for property tax, condo fees and etc... You are reimbursing the seller from taking possession forward.

Settlement Fee

Settlement fees are paid to the settlement agent for handling the closing.

Owner's Title Insurance

A title insurance policy that covers title defects on the home you are purchasing for the homeowner.

Lender's Title Insurance

The policy covers the lender in the event there is a title defect.

Pre-paids

Pre-paids are monies paid in advance.  You will pay one year of home insurance in advance as well as daily interest from the day you close to the end of the month.  Unlike everything else, mortgage payments are paying for the prior month.  Your pre-paid interest is funding the month you close.

Escrows

Escrow monies are held in an account.  You are pre-funding several months of city taxes and insurance for the next payment.  The bank always wants you a few months ahead.

Closing Costs For Home Sellers

Real Estate Commission

The agreed-to percentage you agreed to pay your real estate agent to sell your home.

Recording Fees

Recording fees are charged for the cost of recording the various documents at the registry of deeds.  It can include the deed, mortgage, 6d certificates, etc...

MLC

A municipal lien certificate states that as of the date of the closing you owe no money to the town.

Tax Stamps

Tax stamps are a real estate transfer tax of .456% in Massachusetts.  There are also several cities that levy a tax stamp in Massachusetts as well.

Discharge Fee

A discharge fee is paid to your settlement agent to track the discharge of your mortgage.

Courier Fees

Courier fees are to ensure your balance on your mortgage gets to your mortgage company.

Whether you are a home seller or home buyer you want to make sure you have an understanding of closing costs early on in the process so you don't get surprised just prior to closing. Avoid any last-minute surprises just prior to closing by knowing what your closing costs will be.

Your real estate agent or mortgage broker should be providing you with estimated closing costs prior to either listing your house or with-in a few days of submitting a loan application