Sept. 13, 2017

Buying/Selling a Home During a Natural Disaster

In light of the recent Hurricanes that drastically effected so many areas in our nation, we thought it would make sense to advise you on what to do if a natural disaster strikes while you are under contract on a property (either your own or one you are purchasing). 

Communication

  • First and foremost is the health and safety of all parties. 
  • Be patient during this trying time as people try to make sense of what occurred and what to do next. 
  • Once you’ve taken a breath and have let it all soak in, you and your agent should discuss the status of your property and any concerns you have. 
  • Don’t panic! You and all others involved will figure it out together.

Contracts

  • Your attorney will best advise you on what to do next.
  • Purchase and Sales Agreements typically have language addressing damages that occur in situations like this (“Acts of God” clause)
  • Sellers and buyers should work together to come to agreeable terms if any changes are required (new closing date, extension on financing, repairs, walking away, etc…)

Insurance

  • Sellers should file a homeowner’s insurance claim ASAP (if necessary)
  • Document all damages in writing, photos and video
  • Keep receipts of all repair costs

Financing

  • Buyers should contact their lenders ASAP to inform them of the situation 
  • A new appraisal is likely going to be required post repairs

Rebuilding can be a long and expensive process, so open and honest communication between all parties is the key to holding the sale together or choosing to go your separate ways. 

Our thoughts are with all of the people impacted by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. 

Aug. 8, 2017

Where Should I Move?

There are a number of reasons why people choose to move -- recent empty nesters, divorce, job opportunities, growing family and the list could go on and on. Depending on your reason, you'll have to make the decision whether it’s time to find a bigger home or downsize.

First and foremost, location.

When it comes to a move, location is no doubt the most important factor to consider. Depending on your lifestyle, you may be looking to live in the heart of the city or choose a quieter life in a small town. If you already know the town(s) on your list, you'll want to look at the proximity to highways, restaurants, your office, and anywhere else that will be important in your daily life.

Upsize or Downsize

If your family is growing and you're going to need more space, it certainly is a good time to consider upsizing. However, if your children are grown and living outside of your home, it may make sense to move to a smaller home with less empty space. Be sure to consider how often you may have guests before moving to a home that is too small to accommodate. Things you can expect to enjoy with downsizing (depending on your location) are lower mortgage payments, less home maintenance and lower utility costs!

Property Style

If you're looking for low maintenance, you may want to consider an "attached" home like a condo or townhouse. In this style home, you'll share walls and common areas with other owners and likely pay monthly Homeowner's Association (HOA) fees. You won't have to worry about landscaping and other common expenses. If the building requires repairs, you can expect to be hit with a special assessment if there are not enough funds in the Association's account. Be sure to research the HOA and request copies of meeting minutes to get a sense of upcoming projects. Of course if you’re looking for more privacy and don’t mind the upkeep required with owning a home, then a single family home is your best bet.

Still trying to figure out where you should move? Give us a call, 617-974-9275, and we’ll be happy to help guide you. 

Posted in Buying a home
July 17, 2017

How to Downsize Your Home

Are you thinking of downsizing? It's time to get started and organized as soon as possible! Here are some tips to help you get ready for this move.

1. Get an early start

You'll want to take at least a few months to begin this process. Take some time each day leading up to the move to clean out each room (drawer by drawer, closet by closet). Don't underestimate how long this will take, as deciding what to keep and what to get rid of can take a while and be a very emotional process.

2. Document your belongings.

It's a good idea to take pictures and make a list of your belongings when trying to decide what to keep and what not to keep. It's also a good idea if you're hiring movers so you can keep inventory of what will be moving with you and to make sure there is no damage done during your move.

3. Make your "must keep" list

There will be immediate items that come to mind that you know you'll keep during your downsizing and certainly items you know will not be going with you. Create a list to jot down what you will definitely keep and what you will throw out, give away or sell. It's always easiest to organize your most cherished items first and then decide what isn't going to make the cut.

4. Measure!

Make sure you have all of the measurements for your new home so you can correctly identify what furniture you will have room for and what needs to go. You don't want to get to your new place with a couch that doesn't fit in your living room! You may even want to measure the closets and cabinet space as well to get a full picture of how much storage space you will have.

5. Enlist the help of others.

Here's your time to call in favors from friends and family to help you pack and make the tough decisions you are struggling with. Your best friend won't have as hard of a time telling you that it's time to get rid of any miscellaneous items you’ve saved throughout the years.

Downsizing is certainly a big undertaking and can be overwhelming, but if you start early and follow some of our tips above, you will reduce your stress during this process! If you need any help with making a move, please give us a call at 617-974-9275.

June 13, 2017

Why You Should Sell Your Home This Summer

The weather is warm and people want to get out of the house...and into yours! Summer is a great time to take advantage and sell your home, and here's why:

Weather

Nice weather brings the buyers out! We've had so much rain this Spring, so people are excited to get out into the sunshine! You've had your spring clean-up and your landscaping is in tip top shape. Buyers can see the full potential of your outdoor space. This is the season for optimal curb appeal!

Less Competition

The inventory is typically lower during the summer, while the demand is still high, so there are lots of buyers with fewer homes to choose from. Buyers with children want to move in before the school year begins. Your prospective buyer will want to make a decision quickly and will have less bargaining power with time running out before the start of the school year. They’ll also be more apt to close ASAP.

Better pricing

There is a ton of data now to support higher home prices since the Spring market has just come to a close. Take advantage of this time now that you’ve seen how homes in your area are selling.

Each season comes with its pros and cons, but these pros should be weighed heavily when deciding if now is the time to sell. This really is the best seller’s market we’ve seen in over 20 years! If you would like more information or have any questions, please contact us at mark@marklesses.com or 617-974-9275.

May 11, 2017

Tips for Finding a Family-Friendly Home

If you currently have children or plan to in the near future, you’ve probably already thought about some additional things to consider when purchasing a new home. In the event that you have not, we’ve compiled a list for you!

Schools

How are the schools? This seems like an obvious one as it’s something we, as real estate agents, hear from our clients all the time. You’ll want to check out the school districts and see how they rank among other areas if you have or will have school-aged children. You’ll pay a premium for towns with highly ranked schools, but you’ll appreciate this when it comes time for you to sell.

Neighborhood Setting

Every buyer has his/her own preferences when it comes to neighborhood settings, but with children you may want to think about this a little further. Visit the neighborhood during peak commuting hours to see how heavily, or not, the street traffic is. Less traffic will calm your anxieties when your children play outside. Sidewalks are a nice plus as well, and make bike riding, running and walking much safer for you and your family.

Storage

This is a big one! If you have kids, you know how much “stuff” they accumulate! And if you don’t have them yet, you’ll soon see how quickly your home can turn into what looks like the aftermath of a tornado! The solution? Lots of storage to hide the clutter! Closets, built-ins shelves and cabinets make a world of difference! Having a mud room is a bonus in keeping all of the shoes, coats, sports equipment, etc… away from the rest of the house.

Laundry

As your family grows, so will your laundry…exponentially! For this reason, you’ll want to make life a little easier by avoiding basement laundry rooms if possible. Having the laundry room near your bedrooms or on the main level will be much more convenient.

Child Safety

Take a look around at what may become safety concerns for small children. Do the stairs allow for safety gates to be easily installed? Is the yard fenced in? You don’t want the stress of worrying if your children are going to wander into the street, and the cost to add a fence can be very costly!

Extra Living Spaces

Having an extra room to be used as a play room will come in very handy and make life a little less chaotic as time goes on. If the extra room isn’t available, having the option to finish a space as time goes on is a good thing to consider.

Bathrooms

Ideally finding a home with 2 full bathrooms will give you the privacy and cleanliness you desire. You’ll need one bathroom with a tub for easy bathing of the kids and keeping all of their bath toys separate from your space.

These are just a few things to consider when looking for a family-friendly home. If you have any questions, we’re happy to help! Give us a call at 617-974-9275 or send us an email at mark@marklesses.com.

Posted in Buying a home
April 6, 2017

Are you ready to buy a home?

Have you been contemplating homeownership and are wondering if now is the right time? There are many factors to consider when making such a large decision. We’ve outlined some points below for you to think about before making the commitment.

Examine your debts

  • When applying for a mortgage, lenders will look at your debt-to-income ratio to determine how much you’ll qualify for
  • Car loans, student loans, credit card balances, etc… will be analyzed to determine this
  • Paying off loans or credit card debts before purchasing a home can be helpful

The down payment

  • One of the biggest hurdles for first time homebuyers, especially in this competitive real estate market
  • Have you been saving up to put down a sizeable amount of money down?
  • 20% down is ideal and allows buyers to avoid paying a monthly Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI)
  • There are several options for buyers with less than 20%, including specific programs for first time homebuyers

How long do you plan to stay?

  • A commitment to hold on to a property for at least 5 years will be advantageous
  • Long term commitment helps build equity
  • Eventually when you sell the house you'll have a bigger down payment for your next home

Check out your rainy day fund

  • Familiarize yourself with the money that will be required on top of the purchase price of a house
  • Closings costs, home inspection, homeowner’s insurance, real estate taxes, utility bills, HOA fees, renovation/repair costs, etc…
  • You'll want to be sure you have extra funds available should the unforeseen occur

These are just a few points to consider when deciding if you’re ready to buy a home. If you have any questions, we’re happy to help! Give us a call at 617-974-9275 or send us an email at mark@marklesses.com.

 

Posted in Buying a home
March 14, 2017

Timing the Real Estate Market

The Spring real estate market is officially here! We’ve been seeing the market picking up over the last few weeks, and can certainly say that it has arrived!

There are two clear real estate markets: the Spring market and the Fall market. You’ll often hear people say they’re thinking about selling or buying in the Spring. Buyers believe waiting for the Spring will bring more houses to choose from and sellers feel they’ll get top dollar during this time.

Last year, there wasn’t much of difference during these markets for buyers or sellers, but the fact is that the market still remains as a true seller’s market.

What we’re seeing since the Spring market began:

  • Slow inventory -- some areas are down between 15-20%
  • More buyers than sellers
  • Minimal houses on the market leading to handfuls of offers for each new listing -- some houses going up to 10% over asking!
  • Interest rates are still low -- they’ve crept up a little bit since the rock bottom rates last year

We never know what the rest of the year will bring, but we do know that as a potential seller, the time is now to put your house on the market. If the interest rates rise up, the prices will have to come down to adjust for the difference.

So what does this mean for you as a buyer?

  • This market is moving quickly, so be ready to make your move right away when you find a great house.
  • You will likely be competing against cash buyers and offers without contingencies (home inspection/financing), which are hard to go up against. 
  • Have your pre-approval ready to go, ideally putting down at least 20%, and have ability to close quickly!
  • Interest rates have increased since last year and are unlikely to go down, so take advantage of these low rates while they're still around. 

If you’re thinking about selling, contact Mark Lesses & Team for a complimentary, no-obligation analysis of your home’s market value at a convenient time for you. 

Feb. 9, 2017

How to Make Your Home More Eco Friendly

Going green doesn’t have to break the bank. Creating an environment with lower energy bills and more durability can prove to be valuable later on when you decide to sell your home. Here are some simple ways to get started:

Minimize heating and cooling needs 

  • Replace outside door thresholds
  • Replace your older windows with more energy efficient ones (double or even triple-pane)

 Make your home a smart home

  • Research smart home devices that allow you to automate nearly everything in your home. You can now turn on/off your lights, adjust your thermostat, and operate nearly everything that is plugged into an outlet by the touch of your smart phone.

Time for a new paint job

  • Choose a paint that is low or no-VOC (volatile organic compounds) to avoid unnecessary chemicals that are found in many paints, which may pose health risks.

Consider solar panels

  • You’ll want to find out if it makes financial sense to go this route as not every state offer rebates, but for some, the decision can really pay off!

Get an energy audit

  • In Massachusetts, we have Mass Save, which works to provide a wide range of energy efficiency services to help MA residents manage energy efficiency and costs. They offer a free energy audit and have many great programs to help you save money in the long run.

If you have any questions, or if we can help you in any way, please give us a call at 617-974-9275.

Jan. 12, 2017

New Year, New Home?

By now many of you may be a few weeks into your New Year’s Resolutions, which in many cases has something to do with an improved lifestyle (diet, exercise, work/life balance, etc…) How about improving your living situation with a new home? That’s sure to give you the life change you may be looking for!

Of course buying or selling a home is a big decision and not one to make on a whim, but now is the time to begin thinking about it if you’ve considered this type of change for 2017. Even if you’d like to get serious about this during the peak of the market (Spring time), now is when you should begin your preparations.

If New Year, New Home is your 2017 resolution, here are some tips that will help you get things in order to make this is a reality:

Determine your budget

Contact a few lenders about getting pre-approved for a mortgage. This will show you what you can afford for a purchase price of your new home. They’ll look into your finances and debts to determine this number which will guide your search.

Make a list of your “must haves” and “nice to haves”

Be sure to be realistic based on your budget. When you meet with a real estate agent, he/she will be able to show you properties that offer what you’re looking for and the cost for these things. This will help you understand what may be out of reach and what is doable.

Location, location, location

You’ve heard this time and time again. You can change your kitchen, but you can’t change the location of your home. Think long and hard about where you want to be from the specific town(s) to proximity to public transportation or town center.

Find a real estate agent

Ask for recommendations around town to find a well-qualified agent who can answer your questions and concerns about entering the home buying market. Even if it’s several months away that you’ll be ready to pull the trigger on a new home, it’s helpful to get comfortable with someone who can help you find exactly what you’re looking for and make this process easier for you.

Now that we’ve offered you our tips to get started, what are you waiting for? If we can help you in any way, please give us a call at 617-974-9275.

Posted in Buying a home
Dec. 9, 2016

Your guide to buying a new home

Whether buying your first or fourth home, the homebuying process can be a very emotional and challenging, yet rewarding, process. If you have the right people on your side, it’s sure to make things go much smoother, especially in a real estate market like ours in Greater Boston!

Here are 11 steps to get you through your journey to finding the right home: 

1. Choose a real estate agent

Finding the right real estate agent can make or break your shot at getting your dream home. Choose someone who knows the market in and out, and can best advise you on how to proceed once you do find that property that catches your eye. In our competitive real estate market, it’s imperative that at an agent know recent sales in the area, average days on market and other comparable properties for sale. This market is so fast paced that one wrong step can mean missing out on the home you have your heart set on.

2. Find a lender to get pre-approved for a mortgage

In this real estate market, you’ll need a pre-approval from a reputable lender to include with an offer once you find a property. Ask around for recommendations or consult with your real estate agent to help find you a mortgage broker who can help you with this process. Before you even start looking seriously at properties, talk to a mortgage broker to review your finances and help you understand what your budget should be based on your income, debt, real estate taxes, etc…

3. Determine your budget (include taxes, insurance, utilities, etc…)

Your mortgage broker can you help you determine what home price you qualify for, but you’ll want to take into consideration the other costs to homeownership, such as real estate taxes, homeowner’s insurance, utilities, HOA fees, etc… Make sure your income and existing bills give you enough room to cover all of these expenses. 

4. Make a realistic “must have” list

Create a list of your “must haves,” “nice to haves,” and “definitely nots” to help guide your search. If you’re making this purchase with someone else, it’s important to compare lists and create one so you’re on the same page going forward. This will help your real estate agent pick properties that would be best for you to look at. 

5. Talk to your agent about the market to get a sense of what your budget will buy

This is an important part of the process to allow you to understand what types of homes have been selling your price range. Your agent can show you which towns you’ll get the most for your money and other areas where you may need to compromise a bit on your list. Your agent can show you recent sales and the current inventory to help you gauge the market. 

6. Start checking out properties

Once you’ve nailed down your budget and your list of “must haves,” it’s important to get out there and start looking! Plan on hitting at least one open houses each weekend or have your agent set up private showings at houses that may work for you.

7. Make an offer! 

Especially in our area, it’s important to be able to make a decision about a new listing pretty quickly. In our market it’s very common for a listing to come on over the weekend and have offers due by Monday or Tuesday, so you’ll want to be ready to make your move if the property feels like home. Your agent will give you some comparable properties in the area to help guide how much you should offer. There are certain things you can do to make your offer stand out in a multiple offer situation, such as waiving a home inspection, increasing your down payment and offering a quick closing. You will also need to put your first deposit down with the offer, which will be deposited into escrow if your offer is accepted.

8. Choose an attorney who will represent you for the Purchase & Sales Agreement and Closing on this property.

If you do not know a real estate attorney, your real estate agent will make a few recommendations for you to ensure your interests are well represented for this sale. 

9. Schedule your home inspection and any other inspections ASAP.

The typical home inspection contingency is about 7-10 days, so you’ll want to make arrangements for this ASAP once your offer is accepted. You’ll learn a lot during the inspection and likely find a few things you hadn’t anticipated. Once you receive your inspection report, review with your agent to come up with the best next steps – a price reduction or credit at closing, a few repairs for the sellers to take care of or if it’s far more than you are prepared to take on, you are able to pull out of the deal. Whatever happens will need to go into the Purchase and Sales Agreement so it is in writing and signed by all parties.

10. Sign Purchase & Sales Agreement

Your attorney will confirm that all terms of the sale are in writing in the P&S. You’ll have time to review this and once it is satisfactory for all, it is time to sign. You’ll need to provide your second deposit upon signing this as well. Then, send a signed copy over to your lender to complete your application for financing on this property. 

11. Closing!

You’ll have a final walk through before the closing to ensure the home is as you last saw it. You’ll bring the remaining funds to the closing as well as photo IDs. Be prepared to sign a large stack of documents! Once the documents have been filed with the Registry of Deeds, you’ll get your keys and you will be a new homeowner! 

 

Posted in Buying a home