Monthly Archives: December 2013

What is a Contemporary House Style?

What is a Contemporary House Style?

Even though they are not “contemporary” to anyone who is living in the 21st century, the name contemporary most often represents the mid-century modern house style that can be found in small pockets throughout Metrowest. In my opinion, they look best when they come with commanding views such as when sited on hilltops or near the water.

Perhaps the most famous of all contemporary homes is the work of Frank Lloyd Wright and his famous “Falling Waters” house in western Pennsylvania.  There are no homes designed by him in Metrowest, but there are quite a few that show inspiration from his use of native materials, combining inside and outside spaces into one and design simplicity.

Builders and buyers liked the clean lines and contemporary styling and the great use of space associated with these multi-level homes, and built them here primarily in the 1960’s and 1970’s although they are still built today. There is no exact defining set of elements, almost all of these homes are architect-designed and can range from minimalist to deconstructionist to Bauhaus to A-Frame styles

Some of the common characteristics are: garage placement on the front of the home to cut building costs: shallow, pitched roofs that often extend from a higher level down over the lower level: simple, linear rooms that are cost effective to build and often attempt to “bring nature inside”; windows that are very large and sometimes trapezoidal following the roof pitch in gables; and exterior finishes that are a mix of natural materials like wood, brick, or rock combined with Texture-111 and cedar board-and-batten vertical siding.

Because split-levels, raised ranches and multi-levels are sometimes considered less desirable than many other house styles, realtors often label those three styles as a “contemporary”. So a word to the wise, if you find a contemporary on the listing services or one of the real estate portals and it’s living area is less than 2000 square feet, it probably has some kind of feature that with a little hyperbole could be considered to make it a contemporary, but it’s usually a split.

Contemporary homes appeal to a limited buyer pool in Metrowest (unlike colonials) so because of this their market value is usually lower than similarly sized more traditional house styles. Also because the pool of buyers is smaller their time on market is usually longer. However, if you like them (and I do), there is a diverse assortment of terrific contemporaries available in the Metrowest market.


For some great examples of Contemporary Style Homes click on the above Pinterest link



Buying Through the Listing Agent … Get a Better Deal?

Buying Through the Listing Agent … Get a Better Deal?

Do you really get a better deal if you’re buying from the listing agent?

As a Realtor I work with either sellers or buyers but almost never both in the same transaction.  One Real Estate “Urban Legend” that comes up fairly regularly is that it is better for you to buy a house directly from the listing agent. The belief is that you will either get a better deal on the price or actually get a reimbursement or kickback from the agent because they are getting “both sides” of the deal.

As a consumer, you have a right (and in my opinion a real need) to representation … here’s what happens when you work only with the listing agent. The Consumer Protection Act and the Licensing laws of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts require that an agent representing two clients in the same transaction must work as a disclosed dual agent.  According to 254 CMR 3.00, “a dual agent will not have the ability to satisfy fully the duties of loyalty, full disclosure, reasonable care and obedience to lawful instructions, but shall still owe the duty of confidentiality of material information and the duty to account for funds”.  There is a consent form that you both must sign and “the consent form must also state that a dual agent assists the seller and buyer in a transaction but shall be neutral with regard to any conflicting interest of the seller and buyer.”

So one party (the Seller who has a signed representation contract) gets an agent who is “providing less than full representation”, while the other (you) gets an agent who is “providing less than full  representation”. Why on earth would you want an agent working for you who can only  unlock a door and write an offer, they can’t advise you on what price or terms to offer, can’t provide you with “comps” to ensure you don’t overpay, can’t recommend inspectors or attorneys, can’t advise you about inspection issue negotiations, and aren’t able to tell you about any location issues or defects in the house? It just doesn’t make sense.

Here’s why buyers need representation, preferably by an Accredited Buyer Representative, ABR …  shameless plug for myself

1.    A listing agent works for the seller
2.    The listing agent’s biggest responsibility is to get the most money and best terms for the seller
3.    Despite rumors, I have NEVER heard of a verified situation where the buyer got a kickback from the listing agent
4.    If you think you’ll get “inside info”, i.e.  what the sellers want in price or conditions so that they’ll accept your offer over others’, you can ask, but they won’t tell you. The listing agent is only ALLOWED BY LAW to share their client’s confidential information with you it the seller gives them permission (I’d want to see it in writing) and can lose their license if he/she does without permission.
5.    During the inspection, how objective will your (oops, I mean the seller’s) agent be?
6.    The listing agent has a vested interest in your buying THIS house and will not encourage you to look at similar ones of better value, condition, or location.
7.   The Listing agent is not obligated to inform you of any traffic or environmental conditions or smell/noise/light pollution from nearby locations that might be part of the reason their sellers are moving.

A buyer agent (ABR) is the only person in your house search and offer process looking out only for YOU.  They are your advocate in a major and life-affecting purchase.  Using a Buyer Agent costs you no money, and may even help you save money in the initial negotiation and by using inspection issues to re-negotiate.

How about if I say it another way: Would you want to go to a court trial having the Prosecutor do double duty as your defense lawyer?

Absurd and ridiculous?

It’s like asking do you really get a better deal if you’re buying from the listing agent?

6 Common Selling Mistakes That Could Lose You Money

6 Common Selling Mistakes That Could Lose You Money

Overpricing and waiting too long for reductions.  You’ve contacted a realtor to list your home and they give you prices of comparable homes’ selling prices. You’re not in a rush, so why not list your house at the high end, or even more? I’ve heard this many times before … and your rationale is almost always one of these three:  it only takes one buyer who is willing to pay more;  your house really is nicer than those “comps” probably were; or if someone really wants your house, they’ll be willing to pay a little more to get it. And of course, you can always lower the price at some point.

Well, there are many reasons why your realtor is not doing you any favor by pricing your house high for the market. Buyers are doing lots of looking and comparison-shopping these days, and quickly gain the ability to gauge a house’s market value. Remember, they are not looking at your home in a vacuum. Pricing your house too high only helps your competition sell. The longer your house is on the market, even if you do start reducing the price, buyers view it as “stale” and wonder why no one else wanted it. Even the best marketing strategies won’t sell a house that is priced unrealistically high.

Trying to pick the ideal time to market your home . Here are some need to know points about market timing:

The best month to make an offer on a house is January.

The best day of the month to make an offer on a house is the first Tuesday.

The best time of the year to sell a house is the Spring.

The best day of the week to list your house for sale is Thursday.

Forgetting that everything is negotiable.  The words, “I have an offer for you” from your realtor are music to your ears – that is, until you hear the number following the dollar sign, and (gasp!) the conditions that accompany it. Before you panic, remember that buyers assume that their offer is a first step in a back and forth dance between buyer and seller. Try not to personalize the issues – the buyers have never even met you, and this is, ultimately a business deal. It is important to work with your realtor who is used to the real estate negotiation process and with some patience and perhaps a little compromise a deal can be reached.

 Underestimating the importance of “Showing Condition” You’ve undoubtedly heard the phrase, “curb appeal.” The same type of instant and overall impression occurs inside your home as well. You want your home to show as positively as possible, and that means the rooms should be as light, bright, and large as possible. One way to do that is to cut down on clutter or extra furniture that makes a room seems smaller than it is. The more uncluttered a room is, the more spacious it feels to a house hunter. Unfortunately, housekeeping counts too. The cleaner a home is it both makes a positive impression and creates an impression that the house has been well maintained. Many housecleaning companies offer a one time top-to-bottom cleaning for people putting their houses on the market. Sellers have said to me, “But they’re not buying the house furnished – they’ll be redoing it anyway,” or “They’re not hiring me as a housekeeper, so what do they care?” Although those are logical arguments, buyers tend to not be able to get past things that make an immediate negative impression. Also, many people do not have the “vision” to be able to see a room or house differently than it appears in front of them.

Staying Home During Showings.  Your instinct may be to be present during showings for any number of reasons: to assess the buyers’ reactions, to supervise, or to point out tiny details the showing agent may not know to mention. I can tell you in no uncertain terms from experience, both my own and that of my clients, that this is one of the worst things you can do. As a buyer, it is quite uncomfortable and leads to two common results: a quicker than normal walk through without paying attention to details and an unwillingness to ask questions or make comments that are part of their decision making process.

Not Listening to Feedback. Whenever you house is shown, the realtor will get feedback from the buyers (or their realtor) about what they liked about your house, and what shortcomings they may have perceived. There are some things you can do nothing about – for example, the fact that your backyard slopes steeply, the amount of traffic on your road, or that your house is next to a business building. Some things, however, you can change, and if a specific item comes up several times it is a good idea to address it. Buyers often assume that an area of your house that shows neglect or disrepair reflects on the same lack of attention to unseen areas. Your goal is to sell your house, not to win an argument defending why your side yard fence is unpainted and rotting.

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