Blog :: 2013

Ring in the New!

The New Year is a great time for a fresh start. Maybe you want to lose five pounds, get organized or save more money (these were the top three resolutions for 2012, btw). Maybe you're with the 45% of Americans who make resolutions, the 38% who absolutely never make resolutions, or the 8% who are successful in achieving your resolutions (I'm 100% impressed if that's you).

The Home Advantage Team keeps practical, tactical resolutions. Besides our #1 resolution to provide the best possible real estate service to sellers and buyers, we're also ringing in a new Website.

We've been transitioning content over so by now you've probably seen the clean lines, easy navigation, mobile-friendly layout and visually pleasing site. What, no? Well then, go take a look! We're still in the process of pulling in more detailed features so be sure to check back in.

In the meantime, best wishes from our team to yours for a happy, healthy and safe 2014!

NewYear

*image via: NVTOfficeClips

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    Top 5 YourHomeForSale Posts of 2013

    The top posts trending at the YourHomeForSale blog for 2013 include fun facts, new construction, best deals, fall buying, and inventory!

    In addition to our topical posts, our most popular Spotlight Home of the Week was this one from September, featuring five beautiful homes - a welcome sight for buyers eager to find a home this fall.

    Take a spin through the list and let us know if you agree (or disagree), or if there was a favorite post that you think should be included.

    As always, we appreciate your feedback. So let us know what you'd like to see more (or less) of in 2014!

    5

    Fifteen Fun Real Estate Facts (11/4)

    #4:  Historically, the best month of the year to sell is April. Although we would dispute that -maybe it's the most common month, but often sellers fare better in the 'off months' of summer and winter.

    Introducing Holly Glen (1/25)

    Holly Glen is the newest development of its kind at a time when housing inventory outside the Boston area and inside I-95 (route 128) is near record lows.

    The Best Deal in Town (7/1)

    The best deal in town isn't going to get you a free coffee, or extra toppings on your fro-yo, or even discounted theater tickets. But it could result in thousands of dollars in your pocket.

    Big Fall Rush (9/25)

    Fall is often overlooked as a time to buy or sell a home, but in reality the last months of the year can be a catalyst for action. This year in particular, there are some pretty compelling reasons to buy or sell a home in Greater Boston.

    Chicken and the Egg of Housing Inventory (10/8)

    Yes, the market is low on inventory - right now. But this is not the time to chicken out of the housing market. Homeowners who are considering listing their homes have plenty of opportunity to land sunny side up when it comes to buying on the flip side.

     

    *image via: Microsoft

    Make a List (Check it Twice)

    Making a list can alleviate all kinds of stress - particularly around the holidays when it seems that the to-do's will never get to-done.

    The same goes for preparing to buy (or sell) a home. If you've written off the home search for the holidays, and you think spring is a better time to buy when more inventory will be available - think twice.

    Sellers list their home for all kinds of reasons that are not tied to the seasons - job relocation, need for a bigger house with a growing family, or they don't want the competition of the 'busier' months of spring and fall.

    ListThere's no reason why your dream home couldn't come on the market in January or February - so best to be prepared:

    1. Get preapproved (#1 must-do)
    2. Know your credit score
    3. Understand how much you can afford
    4. Calculate your down payment
    5. Bump up your savings account
    6. Ask for referrals (for mortgage brokers, lenders, and real estate professionals)

    Start ticking down the list one at a time and all of a sudden it won't seem like such a daunting task - and you'll be ready to move quickly when the home you've been waiting for becomes available.

    Feeling better about the home-buying process? Check.

     

    *image via: Microsoft

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      Real Estate Year in Review, 2013

      What a difference a few years can make. Why, just 24 short months ago the real estate market was described as 'oversaturated and underperforming with low housing prices and long market times.'

      Turn that statement on its head and you have a view of the current real estate market.

      Review

      It's not very difficult to sum up the year 2013 in local real estate. If you've sampled the Arlington market either through buying, selling or perusing, you've experienced these three things:

      1. Rising home prices

      2. Shrinking inventory

      3. Low interest rates

      Nothing shocking there. However, if you dig a little deeper there are some interesting nuances.

      First, interest rates have hovered, perhaps longer than expected. Maybe due to the government shut-down debacle this past fall, maybe not. Low interest rates make it very attractive for home buyers to get into the game, but like two opposing forces, pricey homes have often kept them out.

      Because rising home prices can scare off buyers it is more important than ever to consider the price vs. cost dynamic. Yes, home prices have been on the rise, but an increase in prices doesn't necessarily mean buying a home costs more (wait, whaaat?).

      This infographic from KCM sums it up nicely. For example, an interest rate increase from 4.2% to 5.2% on a $250,000 mortgage will result in $150 increase in payments per month, making a home purchase actually cost more in the long run.

      (By the way, sources are saying that an interest rate increase is likely within the next twelve months).

      Second, 2013 was a year where move-up buyers trumped first-time buyers. Even with low interest rates, those high home prices we just mentioned caused many first-time buyers to get bypassed (or outbid) on the road to homeownership. The fact that move-up buyers stood to make some money on the sale of their existing home put them in a better position to buy-up.

      "First-time buyers play a key role in the housing market's health and strength of the economy...It used to be: You rent first, and then buy. Now, you live in a basement, then rent, and then buy. That pushes a lot of spending to later in life, and the economy needs that spending." - Jed Kolko, chief economist for Trulia.com

      Next, senior downsizing was a big trend. Except these 'seniors' were not elderly folks in rocking chairs who were not able to care for the family home. These were active empty nesters more interested in getting out to travel, visit friends and family and take advantage of local shopping and restaurants. This funny Toyota commercial gives an interesting perspective :).

      Finally, home equity loans also contributed to near-ridiculously low inventory levels with many people choosing to renovate vs. move. If you've ever watched HGTV's Love it or List it you know how tough that decision can be. It depends on a number of factors, some financial, some emotional. Not everyone wants to leave their neighbors or undertake a home search. Yet not every renovation is worth the time, money, effort and aggravation.

      What to expect in 2014? We don't think you'll see a lot of real estate drama next year - more likely you'll see much of the same. 2014 has all the makings of a transition year, with prices and interest rates continuing to rise, but inventory of available homes increasing, too.

      Sellers: There is still time to capitalize on higher-than-normal home prices, but expect the demand to slow a bit in the coming months. Also, don't be put-off by selling in the 'off' months of the holidays and winter. There are serious buyers out there who are tired of waiting - and they're not likely to pass up a home because of the season.

      Buyers: There is still time to capitalize on lower-than-normal interest rates, but don't expect any major drops in home values yet. With interest rates now at 4.5% for a 30 year mortgage, it's tough to know if they will continue to rise or dip again. But don't miss the perfect home waiting for lower interest rates. Opportunities to refinance later can offset those costs.

       

      *image via: Microsoft

       

      Spotlight on Holly Glen

      Tis the season for new construction in a beautiful single-family home development in Burlington!

      In addition to being a holiday staple, did you know the holly shrub is often the focal point of a garden, providing a colorful, vibrant, hardy landscape that provides shelter and protection?

      There are plenty of vibrant homes at Holly Glen awaiting you. But as fast as construction is moving along, Holly Glen homes are selling almost as fast.

      Azalea Drive... Marigold Way... You'll love meandering through the tree-lined streets of Holly Glen. It is quiet and peaceful yet close to Burlington dining, shopping, 95/128, Lexington Center, and it is an easy commute to Cambridge and Boston.

      Check out the latest pictures to see the progress, and give us a call to reserve your Holly Glen home today!

      Connemarra Front

      The Real Estate Plot, Like Thanksgiving Gravy, Thickens.

      There have been a few interesting real estate updates as we prepare to kick off this holiday season. First, according to the Warren Group, October sales for Massachusetts single-family homes rose nearly 19% on a year-to-year comparison basis.

      Meanwhile, back at the raised ranch, inventory of single-family homes for sale as of Oct. 31 was down 19.9% from October 2012.

      However, the number of new listings added to the market of single-family homes in October increased to nearly 11% percent over the same time last year. That means roughly 600 homes hit the market last month compared to October 2012.

      So what do all of these percentages boil down to? No small potatoes (mashed or otherwise) for one thing.

      It means that home sales have kept a brisk pace due to buyer demand. And while inventory levels have remained low (20 straight months of inventory decreases as of October) more sellers are in fact heeding the call to take advantage of low interest rates and rising home prices.

      The gravy of the real estate market is not without lumps, but as sellers get back in the game, the supply/demand discrepancy it starting to show some initial signs of leveling out.

      And for this, we should all be thankful.

      Thanksgiving

      *image via: Microsoft

      Spotlight: Arlington Homes of the Week

      As the Arlington community continues to process the tragedies that occurred on Monday, there are a number of ways to help and heal. A candlelight vigil will be held on Tuesday, November 26 at the Pierce School to honor Mei and her sons. 

      Arlington also shows its spirit and generosity in supporting our first responders. More than 75 local families reached out, sending supportive notes and free pizzas to the police department. More than $1,400 in donations will go to First Step, a local domestic violence support group that is run through the police department and the town's Department of Health and Human Services.

      We are proud to call Arlington home.

       130 Renfrew Street, Arlington

      130Renfrew Want to be in a new home for the holidays? Gorgeous new construction in a great location! Every attention to detail was taken when building this 4 bed, 2.5 bath home. The first floor is an open concept and the space is very flexible. You have the ability to make the space your own. There is a mud room off the first level and a 2 car garage. The second floor offers 3 generous sized bedrooms, main bath, laundry room and plenty of closet space. The extraordinary master suite offers an office, 2 closets, and a luxurious master bath. The third floor is a fantastic bonus room that can be family room or home office. This home offers 2800 square feet of well thought out living space. Located a short distance to Dallin School, parks, and major routes. This house is a must see! (MLS# 71610949)

      Listed: $949,000

      What's Nearby: Arlington Heights shops and restaurants, Route 2, Alewife T Station, public transportation, Dallin School.

       24 Magnolia Street #1, Arlington 24MagnoliaTerrific two bedroom condominium with hardwood floors, newer windows and bath and private screened in porch. Freshly painted throughout, this spacious home boasts an inviting foyer, two great bedrooms, good-sized closets and plenty of storage space. This home has an eat-in kitchen, a sizeable pantry, plus a dining room with built in china cabinet, great for entertaining. Enjoy the convenience and all that East Arlington has to offer. Close to Magnolia Park and playing fields, restaurants, movie theaters, Cambridge, Alewife Station and convenient bus routes. You will love the location, layout, off street parking, basement laundry hook ups, terrific schools, easy access to the Minuteman Bikeway. Charming and move in ready, don't wait to call this great condo home! (MLS# 71610859)

      Listed: $349,000

      What's Nearby: East Arlington shops and restaurants, Spy Pond, Mass. Ave., public transportation.

       SINGLE FAMILY

       

      Address

      Rooms

      Bed

      Bath

      Style

      Price

      2 Yale Rd

      6

      3

      2f 0h

      Cape

      $449,000

      152 Charlton St

      6

      3

      1f 0h

      Cape

      $450,000

      39 Evergreen Ln

      8

      4

      1f 0h

      Cape

      $525,000

      114 Eastern Ave

      8

      4

      3f 0h

      Colonial

      $784,900

      MULTI-FAMILY

       

      Address

      Rooms

      Bed

      Bath

      Style

      Price

      1055 Mass. Ave.

      15

      6

      3f 0h

      3 Family - 3 Up/Down

      $550,000

       

      You Know Your Home Needs an Energy Assessment When....

      • Gentle breezes billow your curtains (except the windows are closed. And it's 25 degrees out).
      • You turn the lights on and the electric meter spins out of control.
      • The mailperson can slide the mail under the door.
      • You use draft-stoppers for your doors and plastic coverings for your windows.
      • You have closets or crawlspaces that are always freezing in the winter and sweltering in the summer.
      • After a big snowstorm your gutters start to look like giant glaciers.
      • The heat in your home goes up the stairs (and continues right up through a poorly insulated attic).
      • You stick your tongue to an outside wall* and you look like Ralphie from a Christmas Story. (*not recommended)

      Many homes in the Arlington area are of an older stock and could use some energy efficient improvements. But these can be costly and time consuming. New windows, a new roof, and freshly blown insulation just may not be feasible.

      So what if someone could come to your home, tell you exactly where your home's inefficiencies were and update many of them for you? FOR FREE.

      That's exactly what the Mass Save Home Energy Assessment provides. Here's a sampling of what you'll get from a FREE energy assessment:

      • 75% up to $2000 toward the installation of approved insulation improvements
      • No-cost targeted air sealing
      • Generous rebates on qualifying energy-efficient heating and hot water heating equipment
      • Switch out inefficient bulbs to LEDs
      • Switch out inefficient shower heads and faucets to low-flow
      • The opportunity to apply for 0% financing for eligible measures through the HEAT loan program

      Drafts and poor insulation are sending your heat (and your money) right out the window. Make your home more energy efficient this winter. You'll save money, create a safer home environment, and improve the value of your home.

      Spotlight: Arlington Home of the Week!

      TGIF! There's a lot to be thankful for this November (not just Fridays), and you'll thank yourself later for going to check out this rare new listing in Arlington!

      With space galore, this home beckons anyone who wants to enjoy all the comforts of home - and accommodate family/in-laws/au pair without infringing on privacy.

      Enjoy the weekend and we'll see you on the open house circuit!

      7 Falmouth Road, Arlington 7 Falmouth

      Have you been searching for a very spacious Colonial with room for relatives to stay? This could be the home for you! Built in 1987, this custom Colonial was constructed by a commercial developer for his family and was extremely well built. It provides a wonderful au-pair/in-law suite on the first floor with a private entrance. From the moment you walk into the spacious foyer with marble floors and 10' ceilings, you can sense that you walked into a rare offering. Each room is extremely spacious and the floor plan is perfect for entertaining. The kitchen has been wonderfully updated with an open floor plan to the family room that looks out on the recently built patio. There is an amazing master bedroom suite with a tremendous bathroom and huge walk in closet. There are three other bedrooms a total of four other bedrooms, a media room, play room and so much more. There are seasonal views of Mystic Lake and its located seconds from the Winchester Country Club! (MLS# 71607819)

      Listed: $1,100,000

      What's Nearby: Arlington Center shops and restaurants, Winchester Country Club, Mystic Lake, Route 3, public transportation, Bishop School.

      SINGLE FAMILY

       

      Address

      Rooms

      Bed

      Bath

      Style

      Price

      91 Menotomy Rd.

      6

      3

      1f 0h

      Colonial

      $419,000

      35 Avola St.

      9

      4

      2f 1h

      Colonial

      $899,000

      400 Mystic St.

      8

      4

      2f 1h

      Colonial

      $895,000

      67 Sutherland Rd.

      6

      3

      1f 1h

      Bungalow

      $629,000

      220 Renfrew St.

      6

      3

      1f 0h

      Cape

      $490,000

      8 Old Middlesex Path

      10

      4

      2f 1h

      Colonial

      $1,179,000

      7 Falmouth Rd.

      12

      5

      4f 1h

      Colonial

      $1,100,000

      CONDO

       

      Address

      Rooms

      Bed

      Bath

      Style

      Price

      31 Russell Pl. U:31

      6

      3

      2f 1h

      Townhouse

      $600,000

      40 Maynard St. U:-

      8

      3

      1f 0h

      2/3 Family

      $509,000

      42 Maynard St. U:-

      6

      2

      1f 0h

      2/3 Family

      $409,900

      84 Bow St. U:2

      10

      4

      1f 0h

      2/3 Family

      $405,000

      Does Your Home Search Sound Like a 1980's U2 Song?

      Have you run? Have you crawled? Have you scaled these city walls in search of a new home? If you still haven't found what you're looking for, then it's time to call Steve McKenna and the Home Advantage Team.

      Sometimes it's hard to tell if a house is 'the one' at first glance. Sometimes you need a second look. Sometimes you need a spouse, friend or parent to check it out. And if listening to everyone's opinions leaves your head rattling and humming,  then an unbiased, third party can give you the feedback, direction and expertise to put you on the path to homeownership.

      While home buyers increasingly rely on the Internet for their home search, an overwhelming majority ultimately turn to a real estate agent for extra help.

      "...buyers who used the Internet were more likely than those who did not use the Internet to purchase their home through an agent," according to a NAR profile of buyers and sellers.

      88% percent of buyers said they purchased their home through a real estate agent. Among those who used the Internet to search for homes, that share grew higher -- up to 90 percent, according to the NAR survey.

      Buying a home is an undertaking that requires a strategy, and we can help you better understand  the local market, the pros and cons of different neighborhoods and surrounding communities, and give you a comprehensive grasp on the quality and styles of homes in the area will prepare to make the right decision at the right time.

      If a home is what you desire, then all we want is you to let us guide you through the mysterious ways of homeownership. Rely on us and you're sure to be in a home by New Year's Day!

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