Sunday, November 27, 2011

Pricing Real Estate

Home values always tend to mirror the local economy.Home prices will rise and fall with job market and the rest of the economy.While home prices did increase much faster than income during the period from 2000-2007,there is a definate relationship between enployment and home prices.It has also been said that rising home values usually will herald an improving economy and home sales tend to be sluggish in poor eceonomic times.As a Realtor,I have seen many potental home owners put off a home purchase because of un settled economic times.In turn,home owners tend to put off listing their homes for sale because thet may loose money on their investment or not make enough money to buy a new home and/or fund their retirement plans. Clearly the two sides of the real estate transaction are part of the pricing of a home.
Over the last few years,I have been asked by a home owner to market their homes for sale.The location of the home,its condition,size and amenaties always play a role in its pricing.While home values usually rise over time, the point in time that a person wishs to sell their home helps to determine its eventual sale price.While many communities have seen dramatic price declines over the last 2-3 years some communities have seen values stay steady over this period or even have seen a modest price improvement.Its important to determine how the homes in your community have faired over the last few years.As a Realtor,its part of my job to help make sense of home values in the current real estate market.Most home buyers have an understanding of home values and bank appraisers usually are taking a careful look at current home values and the direction of the housing market.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Home Tune Ups

Most of us will tune up our vehicales and maintain them on a regular basis While its a small expence,it does prolong the vehicales life and helps them run more efficiently. However most of us do not consider doing the same with our hot water tanks or heating systems.Most hot water heaters will have sediment occur at the bottom of the tank.This is a normal occurance and may reduce its life span if a small amount of water is not released on a monthly basis.This can be accomplished by venting out some of the water. many heating systems have filters that can be clogged if not cleaned on na regular basis.These heating systems usually benefit from being tuned up once every year or two.These tips can help save you money and extend the life of the systems.Care should be taken when venting water from the hot water tanks and tuning the heating system or cleaning the filters. It might be a good idea to contact or hire a proffessional before completing the maintance tasks

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Home Insulation

Winter is rapidly approaching and the heating on its coat tails. While there is little we can do to stop rising heating costs, we can help reduce the amount of fuel that we use to heat our homes.Insulation is used to fill voinds in the homes walls and cracks between walls and windows leading outside the house.This process can slow or stop warm air leaking from the inside of the house to the outside.One of the key methods of accomplishing this task is to insulate the foundation,walls and attic space of our homes.Thanks to new technology,there is a wide range of insulation types available to the home owner.Many homes can use dense pack celluse in the walls and the floor part of the attic.Foam insulation can be use in many hard to reach places and joints.Rigid insulation can be used inside the walls,on doors and a wide range of other places.Many new homes,additions and rehab projects even have insulation under the basement floors.They types of insulation and its proper use is constantly being refined and updated. Its best to contact a specialist for specifics of how much and which type of insulation is best for your home.
Paying for insulation can be expensive but this cost can be recovered by not having to pay for fuel costs.In Massachussetts, programs such as Mass Save(see can help show where are the best places to insulate and can help provide a rebate to the home owner using this program.Further savings can be garnered by seeing if there are tax credits are available for home energy efficient programs.Its best to contact your tax person or IRS for further details.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Timing aHome Purchase

One of the most frequent questions that people ask me about is the direction of the housing market and if its a good time to buy a home.Most people have heard about the soft real estate market and have seen home prices fall in most communities.People have also heard about the number of building permits being lower than previous years and the large numbers of homes being foreclosed upon and a weak economy.To further complicate matters,there is not a clear picture of when property values will stabalizeMany lending institutions have become more conservative in their lending standards.Considering these factors,its understandable why many people might be reluctant to purchase a home.
Purchasing a home is a major decision and complicated by our current economic envirement.There are always risks for the home buyer such as possible decrease in property value and ability to afford the upkeep of a home if he/she no longer has the income to pay for basic living expences.While there are reasons not to buy a home,there are compeling reasons to purchase a home.While there is always a possibilty of losing employment and further declines in home values,its important to look at the long term picture.
Real estate has always been cyclical in nature.Most areas have shown price declines and an increase in affordabilty relative to wages.Interest rates are currently at historic low levels.Despite the difficult real estate market,this can be a perfect time to buy.Its clearly a buyers market if you can afford the mortgage payments and upkeep of the home.However,there are a number of key considerations. They include your willingness to take a long term view to home ownership.The costs of home ownership should also be weighed against options such as renting or sharing space with friends or family.Also the benefits of creating equity in your new home and potental tax benefits garnered from mortgage interest.
Its clearly a challenging time to purchase a home.There are some risks but potental advantages for the prospective home owner.Each persons situation is different and each geographic area has its own positive and negative points.Its always helpful to meet with a local Realtor regarding the timing of home ownership

Friday, September 16, 2011

Winterazing Your Home

Now that the summer is almost over and its getting cooler,its time to start preparing your home for the winter.Many of the preparations are pretty straight foward and can be done by yourself.During the summer,our gardens have provided a pleasant place to entertain our friends and relatives and its plants provided a great deal of visual beauty.Now is a good time to divide many of the plants and mulch the flower beds.This will help protect the plants and give them a good heads start for next year.While raking up the leaves,consider using the leaves as part of a compost heap.This material can be used as a natural plant food.It can help the plants be healther and more attractive.Proper use of mulch and compost can make the garden more attractive and help conserve water.
Fall is a good time to put on storm doors and windows.While this is work,it can reduce drafts and reduce heating costs. Talking about heating costs, its a good time to have your heating system tuned up and have the filters cleaned.While some filters can be easily yourself,its best to have a service person tune up the heating system.Both actions can help the heating system run more efficiently and same money.
These tasks may be the least enjoyable part of home ownership but its important to help maintain your property in order to help maintain its value

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Landscaping at Home

As a Realtor,I have found that landscaping at residental properties is overlooked and under appreciated by home owners. It is my feeling that a home with an attractive garden adds value on many levels.A well established garden compliments a home and creates a much improved visual apearance for the home and rest of the neighborhood.Recent studies have shown that home values will increase if the home is well landscaped
Well placed shrubs and trees can add shade for the home and guests.Not only does the shade make guests more comfortable when visiting,but serves various enviremental functions.They can help purify the air and prevent sun from overheating the house during the summer and serve as a wind break during the winter,thus helping homes stay warmer during the winter.Flowering plants including native shrubs and flowers can enhanse the visual impact and help invite birds and butterflys into the back and front yard.Each house and neighborhood is different so care must be taken when selecting the plants.Without careful selection of the plants,the visual effect will not be effective or plants many not survive due to lack of sufficient sun or other climatic issues.Before seleting plants for the yard its best to contact a local plant nursery or landscape firm.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Directon of The Real Estate Market

As a Realtor one of the most common questions that I am asked is,What is happening with the real estate market? Like so many other individuals,I am painfully aware that we are in the middle of a major downturn in the market.The reasons for this downturn is complicated and is due to a much needed correction and the fact that we are seeing a higher number of distressed properties,changing lending requirements and uncertanty in the job market.National real estate reporting services such as The Case Schiller Index NAHB?Wells Fargo Housing Opportunity Index and National Association Of Realtors are showing an interesting mix of housing numbers.In many communities we are seeing the number of sales going up with prices going down while the creation of new homes in many communities being lower than prior years.
The sales data varies in each geographic area and in individual communities.Rather than trying to look at national trends,its more important to look at specific reagons if you are looking to sell or purchase a home.If interested in specific details,please feel free to ask a Realtor such as  myself

Friday, August 5, 2011

Why Go Green?

Green or energy efficient homes have been gaining traction over the last few years.There are any number of reasons why somebody would want a green home.However,the most popular reasons are to have a healthier home,reduce energy load.desire to recycle and have a more comfortable living space.While some of this rational is subjective,being able to reduce water,energy, and electric useage can be easily quantified.Reducing the energy load or amount of material recycled, can be compared to the house prior to the retrofit was completed.In the case of new homes,using the HERS Rating System can be used to compare homes to similar homes of the same size.
The degree to which a home is green depends on the individual owner and the budget available to the home owner.On a very elemental level,a person can reduce their energy load by using low flow toilets,or shower heads,CFLs,power strips and other devises.Monotoring use of electricity,water and fuel use sounds unimportant,but does play a significiant role in this process.Proper insulation,use of shades. and sealing cracks and other openings can help reduce heat loss in the winter and the cooling effects of an A/C in the warmer months.Use of programable thermostates are an inexpensive way to help control heating/cooling costs.More expensive methods of controlling/reducing enery costs are buying newer energy efficient hot water tanks,furnices and other appliances.While these devises are costly,there may be rebates and tax incentives after they are purchased.Reduced energy/water use can also help defray the cost of these devises.
The most important goal is to determine a game plan of what your goals are to go green and determine the best way to approach this process

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Green Rehab Projects

Many people that are considering creating a green home envirement usually look at big ticket items such as geothermal wells solar PV and heating or deep energy retrofits.While these projects do make for a more comfortable house and do lower the basic operating costs for the home.However,there are less expensive projects and methods of helping to green your home.The first step in the process should be to determine your goals and game plan for your project.many green projects can be done as part of a general rehab or remodeling job for the home.Basic projects such as insulation and air sealing the home are key factors in helping to create a modern/green home while lowering long term operating costs and expences.Other features such as low flow toilets fawcets and shower heads are other example of remodeling projects that can help create a green home.Hiring a NARI Contractor or other qualified contractor will help create such an envirement.Contacting and using web sites such as and are valuable tools in the process.Using these sites can allow you to garner free services or benefit from tax breaks.Using the programs through these websites can save money on the rehab project and lower yearly costs.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Defining Green

Many people are looking to create a green home envirement. Their reasons vary from wanting to save various utility costs,create a more comfortable home envirement or have whats seen as a heathier home. These goals can be accomplished by different types of insulation, use of recycled materials, modern building techniques and use of efficient lights and heating systems. Other homes can become green by using some features such as insulation, using efficient appliances hot water heaters and heating systems.Others may use passive techniques such as CFLs double paned windows low flow toilets and properly landscaped yards.Other individuals will incorporate these features into their homes but will go further by using solar heating and electric use FSC Wood in new construction, use innovative designs in the remodeling and construction of their homes.
There are varying degrees of green that depends on which features are incorporated into the home.In order to accomplish your goals its important to look at the entire home and see how much money is budgeted for this process. Its also important to speak with somebody familiar with this process to develop an effective plan for creating a green home enirement.This person should be familiar with the various green products,understanding of building techniques and various methods of paying for these renovations including rebates and possible tax incentives.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Real Estate Trends

One of the most frequently asked questions I hear is people wanting to know is How are Housing Prices? Some of the individuals asking this question are interested in knowing the value of their homes while others are interested in knowing if its a good time to sell their property while others are looking to purchase their first home and do not wish to see their purchase fall in value.
With nearly 20 years of real estste experience behind me,I have seen a major rise of home values.What many individuals do not realize that home values rise and fall with the economy.These economic factors include the employment rate,interest rates,consumer confidence local economic conditions and a wide range of other factors.Sources such as the Case Schiller Index have shown that home prices have dropped 4.1% in 2010. However,the National Association of Realtors Data have shown that prices rose in 78 communities while prices dropped in 71 communities during the same time period.There are other studies that show the historicial data on housing prices and projected house prices.There are a wide range of resources that indicate real estate values and trends.I work in Metro Boston and see wide varations in home prices from sub community to sub community and over time.
If you are looking to buy or sell a home it is important to look at what part of the real estate cycle we are in and how long you have owned your home or how long you plan to stay in the home.While a home is an investment,it also needs to be viewed as a place to live and entertain friends and family.It is important to look at the economic implications of buying or selling a home,but its equally important to look at the feeling of being a home owner

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Residental Landscaping

Landscaping is an often overlooked part of home ownership.A well landscaped lawn serves a wide range of benefits to the homeowner.During the nicer months it serves as a pleasant place to relax with friends and family. Use of well paced shade trees not only provides shade for quests,but can also help shade the house.While shading the house may not seem important,but shade trees keep the house cool in the summer and reduce cooling costs.At the same time,certin well placed trees and shrubs can help protect the house from cold winter winds and mitigate the need for higher fuel costs.Flowers can help make the house more attractive and bring in various species of birds and animals.Many people seem to enjoy the beauty of plants and having a wide range of birds and butter flyes  flittering around the yard.Not only are these factors enjoyable while living in the house,but well placed plants help increase the value of a house.In a time when home buyers are being selective about the homes they purchase,an attractive well landscaped house can increase home value and create a positive impression for the home buyer.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Home Staging

Now that the worst of the winters bad weather is behind us,we are in the early stage of the spring real estate market.We have noticed an increasing large number of home buyers out their looking to purchase their first or new home.Lending institutions seem to be cooperating by easing their loan process to well qualified buyers.While these signs are good,home sellers need to be willing to have a marketing plan that will entice home buyers to look at the home for sale and make a workable offer to purchase the home.
One of the newer trends in marketing a home is Home Staging.There are a number of home staggers that I use to assist in creating a home that is more appealing to the home buyer.First impressions are always key and landscaping is a frequently overlooked aspect of the home.Trees,shubs,flowers and the lawn need to be neatly trimmed and attractive.The inside of the the property needs to have a homey lived in feel and be decluttered and free of odors that may be objectionable to potential home buyers.I usually do not recommend major updating of the house prior to placing it on the market for sale.Leaving some updating to be completed allows the perspective home owner to talk about how they envision the home once they move in.Studies how that most remodeling projects do not recoup the money expended on them.The one possible exception to the rule is to look at any health and safety issues or major issues like a leaky roof and address them.It is important for the home seller to recognize that their sense of style may not appeal to a home buyer and a well ordered home usually sells more quickly and for more money that a house that is not staged.While staging a home and furnishing a vacant home is an expense,its worth the expense to make the house attractive for the home buyer.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011


The mortgage process can be a complex and daunting process.Mortgage approval requires a series of events that include the mortgage lender to investagate the homes value and the borrowers ability to repay
the money borrowed for the home in question.While the borrowers income and down payment are key to
this process,the FICO Score is a key factor in this process.
The FICO Score shows how much money the individual has borrowed,how much money they currently owe on each account.This report also shows if the individuals credit limits and if he/she has ever been late on the required payments on each account.Each of the three major credit reporting companies will rate the borrower with a potental low score of 300 and a high of 850.Each company will not have information from the  same reporting sources and lending institutions will interprate these scores through a slightly different lens. Typically the higher the FICO Score,the better rates and mortgage conditions will vary from one lending institution to another and a threshold minium "Good Score" will also vary from one institution to the next.
In Massachussetts,each person can receive a free copy of their FICO Scores by logging onto If these reports are not accurate,there are mechanism to "fix" or correct the report.
If the FICO Score is low lending instutions may be unwilling to lend to an individual or specific mortgage programs may be unavailable to a borrower.There are ways to improve credit scores but they usually take some time.While the FICO Score is not the only factor in approving the buyer for a mortgage,its a key aspect of the mortgage process

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Spring Real Estate Market

The Holidays and New Year are behind us and Spring is just around the corner.At the same time,the start of the Spring Real Estate Market eill be starting in a few short weeks.More homes will be coming on the market for sale and buyers will start their search for homes.For home owners its key to ready their homes for sale.This process not only includes pricing the home for sale at a realistic price.In order to price the home effectively,recent area sales and number of homes for sale must be taken into consideration.In view of the banks conserative stance regarding mortgages,its also important to price the property at a value that will pass an evaluation by the bank appraiser.Home buyers have become more aware of home prices and value.Home buyers are aware of which properties have sold and are unwilling to over pay.Home owners need to price their homes to these points in order to help make their homes stay competative regarding price. In order to help make their homes more attractive for sale,using a home stager can be helpful.Hiring a home stager can be an expense,but making a home more attractive will help increase its value and help quicken its sale.Home stagers may sugguest any number of steps from decluttering the house or rearranging the various objects around the house.Having a few plants in the house or a well landscaped outside is also a good selling point.While good advertising and correct pricing are key bringing a buyer to your home,first impressions of the buyer when they arrive at your house and what they see inside your home are key to them staying interested in your home and making an offer on it

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Green Residental Projects

Over the last few years,I have noticed that many existing home owners and perspective home owners have been an expresing an interest in living in a green home.Their major reasons for doing so are to live in a home that is more comfortable,more healthy and economical than the traditional home. While there is not a uniform standard in the real estate and green community,there are many points that need to be taken into account when talking about a green home.These include how the house is oriented on the property,the degree of insulation in the house and how much air leaks out of the house,how efficient is the heating system,the materials used in building/remodeling the house,landscaping and most important, what are the home owners habits regarding use of heat,water and electric use.Green is a relative term.In order to live in a green house,the home owner needs to strive to lowering use of their utilities,use enviremently friendly materials(and building techniques) and landscaping techniques.It is possible to create a home that is near a net zero energy use building and has limited inpact on the surrounding land but this is extremely expensive. How to create a green house and green issues will be discussed in future blogs

Friday, January 7, 2011

Direction of the Real Estate Market

One of the most frequently asked questions posed by potental buyers or sellers or interested members of the community is "What s happening in the Real Estate Market? As most of us are aware,there has been a downturn in the Real Estate Market.There reason are varied and can be attributed to a number of factors.Real estate has always been subject to the ups and downs in the broader economic market.These factors include the employment rate interest rates changing demographics and a number of other related factors.The two most important factors that relate to real estate sales is employment and interest rates and all three are closely related.Lending institutions have been perhaps too loose in some of their lending practices and have trightened their lending standards and the employment rate has changed significantly over the last three years.Housing prices have taken a major decline from a spike in prices.As a result we nave seen a major correction in the real estate market.
There is a matter of some discussion regarding if we have reached the bottom of real estate prices and the direction of the real estate market.There are indications that lending instutions are becoming more flexible with their lending practices and employment is on the rise.Interest rates are at a near record lows but rising and there is a high level of distressed properties.These factors plus the employment figures weigh heavily upon the direction of the real estate market.The direction of the real estate market depends greatly from region to region and varies greatly from community to community.There is not a set answer for the entire nation and must be viewed on a locale basis and looking at the historical perspective.