Monthly Archives: December 2013

7 top reasons people sell their homes

7 top reasons people sell their homes

Back in May the US Census Bureau started releasing information from the latest Census. One of the points that I found amazing is that between 2009 and 2010 more than 16.4 million people (four out of every ten) moved for housing-related reasons. Over the years I’ve been compiling my list of why people move  and thought I’d share it with you.

The number 1 reason people move is because of a job change. That may be because of a promotion, one or more of the family members getting the job of their dreams, to cut down on the daily commute (most people find anything over an hour okay for a year or so but much longer than that it becomes a total drag), or just that they’re moving to an area with better job prospects in their chosen career field than their current location.

The number 2 reason people move is because the size of the home no longer fits their needs. Sometimes their home is too small. Their “starter home” is cozy and they love it but their growing family is quickly running out of space. And on the other end of the spectrum often the home that was once appropriate is now just too big. This used to be primarily “empty-nesters” or retirees, but for many good reasons downsizing is being considered a sensible option for a much wider cross-section of our population.

Third is what I call “the upgrade”.  People get promotions and raises and have the opportunity to buy the home of their dreams. Sometimes they just want a bigger, grander, upscale home to impress other people.  Other times it’s because they love entertaining. And many times it’s because they consider it a great investment for the current stage of their life.

People also move because there are changes in their personal life:  they get married or divorced; their family size changes with the birth of a child or the death of a loved-one; their declining health makes it difficult for them to navigate their homes safely; or they need to be near to (or for that matter away from) family members.

Then there are what I call the “forced” moves – especially with the freakish weather we’ve been having lately, people can be displaced because of natural disasters. Not much to say about this one except that nature can change oceanfront property to a sandbar in about 24 hours.

It has also been my experience that people will move to “fix” a mistake they believe they made when the purchased their home.  Often it’s because the unconventional layout with the kitchen at the other end of the house from the garage or that sunken living room tripping hazard really doesn’t work for them. Other times it’s because contrary to what they thought, being under the flight path for the airport really does bother them.

And last, but not least, is what I call “moving because of the neighbors-from-hell“. In general terms, people move because they experience changes to their neighborhood that they find less desirable. These can be physical changes, e.g. a highway is built nearby. I have a friend who moved because her neighbors had their huge, extended family move in with them and they moved their dining table out on the front lawn and put up lighting. I also must confess that I moved once because of a hellish neighbor.

To wrap it up, in ancient times people moved in search of food, safety, appropriate space and a more hospitable environment.  Come to think of it… not much has changed, has it?

Mortgage Rates Today and A Historic Perspective

Mortgage Rates Today and A Historic Perspective

Interest rates today have gone up a bit but are still at historic lows and they’re still very favorable for buyers. I’ve put together this simple chart to illustrate how historically low they really are.

  • Today……………………………….4.625 %
  • 2013………………………………………….4.125 %
  • 2004 & 2005……………………………..5.71 %
  • 2003………………………………………….5.92 %
  • 1998………………………………………….6.79 %
  • 1990’s (average)………………………….9.80%
  • 1979 – 1989 (double digits)………….10+ %
  • 1987 drop…………………………………..9.2 %
  • 1980’s (average)…………………………12.62 %
  • 1973-1980 (average)……………………9.43%
  • 1973-1982 (range)………………………7.44 – 17.49%

 

Note: these rates are for 30 year conventional fixed notes with grade A credit scores on single family homes, your experience may vary. Data courtesy of Keith Munsell at Leader Bank.

When I bought my first home, in the late ’80s, I remember paying an extra point to lock in the interest rate at 14.5%, and thought I had gotten such a fabulous deal as the rates were going up weekly Sure enough when we closed they had gone up to 15.75%.

Interesting aside, as of today the rate for a 30 year fixed JUMBO mortgage is lower (4.25%) than it has been in a long while. Great news for buyers looking to upsize.

Experts are predicting that all the rates will continue to stay low at least for the next year, so if you’re thinking of selling or buying, now is a really good time to call a realtor (shameless plug for me). I hope you found this interesting.

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?

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