Winter Snowfall and Frigid Temperatures Significantly Impact New England Housing Market

pretty-houseShrewsbury Massachusetts – March 17, 2014 – The RE/MAX of New England February Monthly Housing Report shows a drop in year-over-year home sales in every state across the region except Vermont. On average, median prices throughout New England were up 1.3% and pending sales rose to 28.3%.

“This is an expected trend in the height of winter months,” commented Dan Breault, EVP/Regional Director of RE/MAX of New England. “The good news is that month-over-month pending sales are up 26.4% This is an encouraging sign and I anticipate March and April to be even stronger months as we turn the corner from winter to spring.”

To read the entire report*, click below

http://stevelevine.net/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/MHR-February_final.pdf

If You Do Not Qualify For A Loan Modification, What’s Next?

paperworkEven though the Federal Housing Finance Agency has come up with a plan to help millions of homeowners from losing their homes to foreclosure by working out new payment terms, there are still many people out there who will simply not qualify for this assistance. If you are finding yourself in this predicament, there are some things you can do to improve your situation.

Before anything else, give your lender a call to try and work out a payment arrangement that works better for you. This is your first move, though if this is to no avail you do have other options.

You might consider a short sale, which is when a lender will accept less than what is due on the loan. In this instance you will avoid foreclosure, but you risk the possibility of having to pay taxes on the short.

Another option is to transfer your title in exchange for the cancellation of your debt, otherwise known as a “deed in lieu of foreclosure”. This is an arrangement in which the owner of a home turns over the deed to their home rather than going through the foreclosure process. This saves you the stress of having your home foreclosed upon and allows you to make arrangements ahead of time, and it saves the bank the time and money of the foreclosure. You will lose your equity, but you will not damage your credit.

If there are any specific questions I may be able to answer feel free to email me at steve@stevelevine.net

Are foreclosed homes really a great bargain in Shrewsbury MA?

foreclosureIn today’s market if you have a good credit score or have lots of cash available to you, you may be considering purchasing a foreclosed home. This can be a very good opportunity to make some money, but if you have ever tried to get information on a specific foreclosure you have probably found that the process is not so easy.

Make this process easier on yourself by choosing one neighborhood and sticking to it. Your agent can give you the neighborhood’s property values and take special care to make sure there are not too many foreclosures there. Make sure that there is potential for job growth down the line in this particular neighborhood. If the neighborhood is good, you’ll want to seriously consider the homes in it as a viable option, and the extra legwork will likely give monetary return.

You’ll want to drive the neighborhood and focus on finding a home that may need some work. Another way to learn about the property you are interested in is to have your agent get in contact with the local assessor’s office. They will be able to tell you the property owner’s name, the home’s tax information, it’s assessed value, it’s square footage and even what the current owner paid for the home.

Once you know what the seller wants, you are one step closer to being able to negotiate a deal. Your agent can make this whole process easier for you and the seller, as they will understand the complexities of this kind of transaction.

 

 

Why First-Time Buyers with Talent May Want to Consider that Fixer-Upper Shrewsbury Property

 

beforeafterIn several recent studies a trend has emerged among first-time home-buyers who indicate that they are not as likely to consider the “fixer-upper” as they had been in years past. Surveys show that while many first-time home-buyers state that “affordability” is their number one concern, at the same time also consider the “move-in condition” of the home to be very important as well. This puts the fixer-upper in a poor position, and as you would expect, only seven percent are considering the smaller, fixer-upper home.

It’s important to make the point that I’m not talking about homes that need major renovations, but rather may only need basic face lifts such as fresh paint, carpet, landscaping or even just window treatments. Properties like this can come with very large savings, fulfilling the priority of “affordability.” Experts now strongly suggest purchasing that fixer-upper as a way to build equity over time, and then later moving up to a second-stage home, which may then meet “move-in condition” expectations.

A benefit included in purchasing a fixer-upper is that many sellers of this type of home are generally more interested in selling quickly than in making a huge profit. Furthermore, when you get those cosmetic things done yourself, you at least know that you’re going to get just what you want for your personal tastes. Also, savings may be found in homes that have been listed for over 180 days, homes owned by long-term owners, and house-flipping investors that may be eager for a sale.

As your agent, I am often able to find out additional information for you that would be of help, so while move-in ready homes are obviously awesome, don’t write off that fixer-upper just yet. Just let me know what you’re looking for, and I’ll be able to give you some insight as to what’s out there for sale publicly, and what other homes I might get the inside scoop on for you.

 

About Steve Levine

For nearly three decades, Steve Levine of REMAX Professional Associates, has been one of the top Real Estate agents in the Central Massachusetts.  A ten-time honoree as #1 REMAX Agent in New England, he brings to the table the experience that comes from working successfully with over 2000 Buyers and Sellers, through all types of real estate markets.  Adept at everything from land development, to custom home building, to residential single family and condo sales, his “can do” approach has made him one of the most sought after agents in the region.

A consummate marketing aficionado, and recognized as one of the most innovative Realtors in the industry, he has spoken nationally on many occasions, training other real estate agents on customer service, marketing, and web presence, and is currently developing a suite of instructional videos designed to enable agents to take their business to the next level.

When not out selling Massachusetts’s real estate, Steve is a passionate photographer, musician and writer, and is constantly looking for new ways to express himself.

For a private consultation on your Massachusetts real estate needs, he can be reached by email at steve@shrewsbury.net, by phone at 508 735-4663.

You can also check out his photography website at www.stellarimages.us.

Have You Considered “Gifting” Your Home Away?

GiftWrappedHouse

Passing along a property to a loved one as part of your estate planning is an invaluable gift. That said, in order to avoid being taxed unnecessarily, you want to consider what’s known as a “QPRT” or Qualified Personal Residence Trust. Real estate values in the Greater Boston area have come way down since the real estate recession in 2010 and combined with this trust, lower property values could save you significant money on gift and estate taxes.

QPRTs offer the opportunity for people to move a home out of their estate, while still allowing them to live in it for a time. This arrangement is ideal for a parent gifting a property to their child, and timing could not be better to consider this, as you would be removing the home from your estate at a time when property values are low. You will not pay estate taxes on it, and down the road you and yours will enjoy the benefits when its value increases, instead of paying a giant estate tax bill on a home that has increased in value over the same time period. In other words, you are guaranteeing yourself a lower gift-tax amount.

Here’s what happens: you move the asset out of your estate and put it into a QPRT for say, ten years. Those ten years can be spent living in the home exactly as you always have. You will file a gift-tax return the first year, which through a very intricate IRS formula could even prove to be profitable from a discount. After ten years has passed, the home transfers to your children or beneficiaries, and they legally own the home, meaning it will not be subject to estate taxes! Do note however, that if your desire is to continue living in your Massachusetts home after this period you must pay your beneficiaries fair-market rent, or risk trouble with the IRS. In the event of your death, your beneficiaries would not have to pay inheritance taxes on the home. This is a great option for many Southborough, Marlborough, and Grafton homeowners. It may be something to consider for your Massachusetts home!

I came across a good article on QPRTs on the Bank of New York website.

 

About Steve Levine

For nearly three decades, Steve Levine of REMAX Professional Associates, has been one of the top Real Estate agents in the Central Massachusetts.  A ten-time honoree as #1 REMAX Agent in New England, he brings to the table the experience that comes from working successfully with over 2000 Buyers and Sellers, through all types of real estate markets.  Adept at everything from land development, to custom home building, to residential single family and condo sales, his “can do” approach has made him one of the most sought after agents in the region.

A consummate marketing aficionado, and recognized as one of the most innovative Realtors in the industry, he has spoken nationally on many occasions, training other real estate agents on customer service, marketing, and web presence, and is currently developing a suite of instructional videos designed to enable agents to take their business to the next level.

When not out selling Massachusetts’s real estate, Steve is a passionate photographer, musician and writer, and is constantly looking for new ways to express himself.

For a private consultation on your Massachusetts real estate needs, he can be reached by email at steve@shrewsbury.net, by phone at 508 735-4663.

You can also check out his photography website at www.stellarimages.us .

Before Listing Your Massachusetts Home, Take a Look at these Tips for a Successful Open House!

Open-house-sign1

Even in this day and age of marketing your home on the Internet, there is occasionally some value remaining in holding a basic open house, but often not in the traditional manner you may think. There are many ways to make your open house a success, but first and foremost, let’s talk about some of the different types of open house events.

First, you have the traditional open house where, regardless of when a home came on the market, you announce that on a particular day, it will be “open” for tours without an appointment, during a particular time period.

Next, is what I call a “pseudo-open-house.” In this type, it is merely a virtual open house, meaning that it is available for agents to show to their Buyers, without a predefined appointment, during a particular time frame, but all Buyers need to make an appointment through their agent.

Lastly, is a Brokers open house, usually held during the week. For this, agents are invited to preview the property during a time frame, occasionally with the list agent providing a luncheon, but without Buyers coming along.

Regardless of which type we do, as your agent I need to work hard to get the news of your open house out ahead of time. I have a host of different means for doing this, from inter-office emails, to social media, direct mail, and even the age old method of getting on the phone and calling people to invite them personally.

Of course the most important aspect of your open house lies in properly preparing the home, as this is the only opportunity to make a first impression on prospective buyers. They may be indifferent to the properties they are viewing based on the online description, so take this opportunity to show them why they will love your home!

Some feel that by getting immediate feedback from a wide array of Buyers and Agents, we will come up with a few ways to improve your listing, and make it more salable. With many agents, that is most certainly the case. Personally, I feel that after having been through this process as many times as I have, I have a really great eye towards home staging and preparation – enough so that by the time that first Buyer crosses the threshold, we’ve already taken care of anything that they could have commented on.

Of course, I do tend to learn something new from time to time, and that’s why when it comes to the sale of your Massachusetts home, we can’t leave a single stone unturned.

 

About Steve Levine

For nearly three decades, Steve Levine of REMAX Professional Associates, has been one of the top Real Estate agents in the Central Massachusetts.  A ten-time honoree as #1 REMAX Agent in New England, he brings to the table the experience that comes from working successfully with over 2000 Buyers and Sellers, through all types of real estate markets.  Adept at everything from land development, to custom home building, to residential single family and condo sales, his “can do” approach has made him one of the most sought after agents in the region.

A consummate marketing aficionado, and recognized as one of the most innovative Realtors in the industry, he has spoken nationally on many occasions, training other real estate agents on customer service, marketing, and web presence, and is currently developing a suite of instructional videos designed to enable agents to take their business to the next level.

When not out selling Massachusetts’s real estate, Steve is a passionate photographer, musician and writer, and is constantly looking for new ways to express himself.

For a private consultation on your Massachusetts real estate needs, he can be reached by email at steve@shrewsbury.net, by phone at 508 735-4663.

You can also check out his photography website at www.stellarimages.us .

Have You Ever Pondered What the Average Life Expectancy is for Your Appliances and Other Home Systems?

appliances.148194556_std copy

Having worked with thousands of Buyers and Sellers here in the Massachusetts Real Estate market, I know first hand that many first-time home-buyers are so excited to realize their dreams of home-ownership that they often overlook the many small details of owning their home. These details can at times be costly, especially if you have not familiarized yourself with all of the things in your home that will need replacing at some point. The following is an estimated guide of how many years each appliance or home system will perform for you in your home.

  • Roofs
    Selvage or Asphalt Roll last 12 to 20 years, Wood Shake and Shingle last 15 to 20 years, Asphalt lasts 15 to 20 years, Fiberglass lasts 15 to 20 years, Asbestos Shingle lasts 30 to 50 years and Slate lasts an amazing 40 to 75 years.
  • Plumbing
    Gas Hot Water Heaters last 8 to 12 years, Electric Hot Water Heaters last 10 to 15 years, Private disposal systems such as Septic Tanks last from 15 to 25 years and Galvanized Water Pipes last 30 to 50 years.
  • Heating and Air Conditioning
    Warm Air Furnaces last 8 to 12 years, Heat Pumps last 8 to 12 years, Air Conditioning Compressors last 8 to 15 years, Gas Chillers last 8 to 15 years and Hot Water Boilers last 30 to 50 years.
  • Gutters and Downspouts
    Galvanized Gutters and Downspouts last 15 to 20 years, while Copper Gutters and Downspouts will last a lifetime, provided that the home is well-maintained.
  • Appliances
    Dishwashers can last anywhere from 5 to 12 years, Disposals last 5 to 12 years, Washers and Dryers last 8 to 12 years, Water Heaters last 8 to 12 years, Refrigerators last between 15 to 20 years and finally, Stoves can last anywhere from between 15 to 20 years.

Of course, when any of these systems are well constructed you may expect that they could last a long time, closer to the upper end of these estimates. Make sure to take a close look at the construction of these systems when we are viewing potential future homes for you to purchase.

 

About Steve Levine

For nearly three decades, Steve Levine of REMAX Professional Associates, has been one of the top Real Estate agents in the Central Massachusetts.  A ten-time honoree as #1 REMAX Agent in New England, he brings to the table the experience that comes from working successfully with over 2000 Buyers and Sellers, through all types of real estate markets.  Adept at everything from land development, to custom home building, to residential single family and condo sales, his “can do” approach has made him one of the most sought after agents in the region.

A consummate marketing aficionado, and recognized as one of the most innovative Realtors in the industry, he has spoken nationally on many occasions, training other real estate agents on customer service, marketing, and web presence, and is currently developing a suite of instructional videos designed to enable agents to take their business to the next level.

When not out selling Massachusetts’s real estate, Steve is a passionate photographer, musician and writer, and is constantly looking for new ways to express himself.

For a private consultation on your Massachusetts real estate needs, he can be reached by email at steve@shrewsbury.net, by phone at 508 735-4663.

You can also check out his photography website at www.stellarimages.us .

Are Solar Energy Systems a Viable Option for Massachusetts Home Owners?

Solar_panels_on_a_roof

If you are interested in saving money on your energy bills please know that there are finally home builders out there that are making solar power a viable option for you. Many are currently offering solar power systems as an optional feature, touting their “Green Energy” initiative as a selling feature. Fortunately, their pledge to achieve superior environmental performance as well as reducing the cost of home ownership is about to become a reality.

Realistically, each 3-kilowatt solar power system will lower the homeowner’s electric bills by up to sixty percent, and can result in a carbon footprint reduction of up to forty-eight percent. Not only is this a wonderful savings for the homeowner but also allows them to remain energy independent when electricity rates increase. In addition, this wonderful option yields environmental benefits for the entire community.

When a solar system has been properly installed on your Massachusetts home, you will be able to track how much power your system is producing, as well as evaluate its environmental benefits, all through a web-based remote monitoring system.

Many of the folks I have spoken to in the Shrewsbury  MA area have been somewhat hesitant, only because of the large upfront cost, however there are even ways around that. In fact, several companies in the Greater Boston area will come in and install your solar equipment for free, running it on a lease basis, and selling you back the inexpensive power that it generates.

Is it something to consider, here in Shrewsbury MA? The answer is absolutely. As always, do your homework, bring in a few of the established contractors, and see just what they have to offer you. They will be able to evaluate your particular situation based on amount of sunlight at our location, overhanging trees, and even which way the main body of your roof faces. Silly as it sounds, a system that is completely viable for your neighbor across the street, may not work for you at all.

If you need a recommendation for someone to speak with, just let me know, and I’d be thrilled to refer you to someone excellent right here in the Shrewsbury MA area.

 

Steve Levine

For nearly three decades, Steve Levine of REMAX Professional Associates, has been one of the top Real Estate agents in the Central Massachusetts.  A ten-time honoree as #1 REMAX Agent in New England, he brings to the table the experience that comes from working successfully with over 2000 Buyers and Sellers, through all types of real estate markets.  Adept at everything from land development, to custom home building, to residential single family and condo sales, his “can do” approach has made him one of the most sought after agents in the region.

A consummate marketing aficionado, and recognized as one of the most innovative Realtors in the industry, he has spoken nationally on many occasions, training other real estate agents on customer service, marketing, and web presence, and is currently developing a suite of instructional videos designed to enable agents to take their business to the next level.

When not out selling Massachusetts’s real estate, Steve is a passionate photographer, musician and writer, and is constantly looking for new ways to express himself.

For a private consultation on your Massachusetts real estate needs, he can be reached by email atsteve@shrewsbury.net, by phone at 508 735-4663.

You can also check out his photography website at www.stellarimages.us .

Have You Considered Owner Financing on Your Massachusetts Home?

sinkingboat-pano_16910As we are all too aware, obtaining a mortgage today is much harder than it was just a few years ago. Much of that is due to the obvious fall out from the real estate recession, which started in 2010. Many areas were faced with a true crisis of confidence in the marketplace, as banks rushed to give out money, often to people who probably should not have been granted mortgages to begin with. Unfortunately, the knee-jerk reaction to that was to tighten lending guidelines across the board, even to well qualified Buyers. The impact that has had on sellers here in the Shrewsbury, Northborough, Westborough area cannot be understated.

One old concept, which is seeing a bit of a revival these days, is Owner Financing. This concept can give home sellers an edge over competition as it fully eliminates a large obstacle many buyers face today, and in turn will help augment your number of buyers. Another benefit to consider is the steady income you will receive from the mortgage payments. Right now with all of the market volatility that we are experiencing, and deposit interest rates near 0%, this could be your one steady interest earner – in some cases up to 7% or more!

Obviously, this could be a great monthly return, if you don’t need the proceeds from the sale of your home immediately. You might also consider partial seller financing. Most buyers will have a cap on their loan allowance, and as the seller you can consider financing the rest at a higher interest rate than normal.

Keep in mind that as the seller you would not have to hold on to this mortgage forever, as it can be sold on a secondary market. With that all said, however, you also need to seriously consider the issues of a potential Buyer default, which could leave you facing the prospect of having to foreclose on the mortgage and reclaim the home through that process. Of course, you never know what the Massachusetts real estate market will be like at that time, but fortunately the Shrewsbury, Northborough, Westborough Massachusetts area in one that has definitely remained more stable than other regions of the country.

The other day I ran across this great article from Inc. Magazine that you may want to check out. Before making a final decision on whether or not this is a realistic option for you, we should sit down and go over the specific situation, and see if it makes sense for you and your family.

 

About Steve Levine

For nearly three decades, Steve Levine of REMAX Professional Associates, has been one of the top Real Estate agents in the Central Massachusetts.  A ten-time honoree as #1 REMAX Agent in New England, he brings to the table the experience that comes from working successfully with over 2000 Buyers and Sellers, through all types of real estate markets.  Adept at everything from land development, to custom home building, to residential single family and condo sales, his “can do” approach has made him one of the most sought after agents in the region.

A consummate marketing aficionado, and recognized as one of the most innovative Realtors in the industry, he has spoken nationally on many occasions, training other real estate agents on customer service, marketing, and web presence, and is currently developing a suite of instructional videos designed to enable agents to take their business to the next level.

When not out selling Massachusetts’s real estate, Steve is a passionate photographer, musician and writer, and is constantly looking for new ways to express himself.

For a private consultation on your Massachusetts real estate needs, he can be reached by email at steve@shrewsbury.net, by phone at 508 735-4663.

You can also check out his photography website at www.stellarimages.us .

Northboro MA Real Estate Statistics for 2013 Q4

As predicted, Northboro, MA, quieted down this  quarter, with 34 single family home sales, with a median price of dropping back to $350K.     It would seem that those who speculated that the action in Q3 was just an aberration may have been correct after all.  As the winter sets in, no doubt things will become a bit quieter, and thus we need only see what the spring may hold for Northboro Massachusetts Real Estate

Northborough Massachusetts Real Estate Market Statistics 2013 Quarter 4 - Single Family Homes

Northborough Massachusetts Real Estate Market Statistics 2013 Quarter 4 - Condos